Reader’s block

In a fit of facetiousness in a recent presentation on my eBook project I decided to come clean about the pros and cons of ebooks. Yes they may make some children more enthusiastic about reading, but shouldn’t technology be judged on whether it makes your life easier?

There were some sagely nods from the audience as I displayed the following images that demonstrated the steps required to get the reader to their book.

Steps between the reader and a printed book

The first is the traditional printed book, separated from the reader by the barrier of either requiring money or a library card. It has now occurred to me that I could well have added “oppressive political/ religious regime” in here as well, but we’ll assume for now that the Coalition hasn’t taken complete control ; )

The eBook meanwhile is a different beast, requiring:

Steps between the reader and the eBook

An eBook reader/ upkeep thereof
A computer
Access to the internet
A credit/ debit card OR
A library card (for those with access to a library that lends eBooks)
Software that decrypts the eBook (such as Adobe digital editions) and an account for this software OR
Software/ an app that manages the purchase, indexing and decryption of the book such as iBooks via iTunes

And at the end of that, depending on the service you use, it is up for debate how much of the book you actually ‘own’ in any traditional sense, whether you can share it, or transfer ownership to another account. Again, it all adds up to the conclusion that if you have the requirements listed above – computer, web access, credit cards, etc – then reading eBooks is just one more activity that you have access to, like downloading a movie or TV show, music track, game or ringtone. Something you download, consume, and – quite likely – leave to gather virtual dust at the back of your hard drive.