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February 16th, 2010

Ebooks and Libraries

So like a lot of you, perhaps, I’m intrigued about the way ebooks are shaking out. Amazon, Apple, Sony, and other vendors are on one hand making it more convenient than ever to read books. On the other hand they’re resetting our expectations on the medium itself… and that’s a little scary.

Consider this: libraries offer thousands and thousands of books, newspapers, magazines, and other things for free. Right now. The barrier to entry is very low – there’s next to no technology involved, but you have to be able to get to and from a library branch in your town or city. You’ll need a library card too. But that’s about it.

Ebooks change that whole dynamic by eliminating the idea of free books and attaching varying degrees of cost (and thus, social status) to books. You want a book? You can get it now, but it’ll cost you ten bucks or thereabouts. Oh, and you need a reading device, be it an iPhone, Kindle, iPad, Sony Reader, or a computer. And you need an internet connection. And you’ll probably need a credit card.

As my wife mentioned all of this to me, particularly her concern about the future of libraries, I admit that my interest in ebooks shifted a bit. I wonder how libraries can compete with this.

Posted in Technology

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