Sunday, September 7, 2008

Jan Dalley of the Financial Times: "The death of the book, yet again"

Books, like old barns, may be harder to find in the future, but they won't disappear.

This weekend in the Financial Times columnist Jan Dalley writes about her slow conversion to the idea of electronic books or "eBooks".

My concern about eBooks is not the format, but the impact on the price of reading. The format, if properly done, seems ideal. Imagine going on a beach vacation with 10 books to read, all available on one electronic reader. And for the college English major, or law student, the convenience of having all course materials available in one package is appealing - and also a means to prevent back injury from toting a ton of books around campus.

Yet, what about price? One benefit of real books is that they can be obtained for free from the library, or obtained inexpensively elsewhere from library book sales, on-line sources, used-book stores, yard sales, free from your friends and family, and so on. Thanks to the internet, students can search the globe for a good price on a required text. Dalley writes that when testing the Sony Reader, she found that one title she attempted to buy cost more in electronic format than in paper.

Dalley gives the Amazon Kindle a positive review. I'm not ready to jump in yet, but her column has prompted me to consider a future with eBooks. For now, however, I'll still head to the beach with my carry-on crammed with books I've picked-up inexpensively and will leave in the hotel library for other guests to enjoy - for free!


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