I guess it is unavoidable, but I know certain members of my family very well. So I decided to make an explicit wishlist for the last Christmas. Besides K2 Fatty Pro inline skates (don’t ask, it is some kind of youth trauma), the list included two music albums and some books I liked to own. Just to make sure they get it right, there were even links to the music and books at Amazon. The mp3 and electronic versions of course. Guess what I found in my gift pack – I didn’t even expect packs, since I have no idea how to put a mp3 album, let alone an ebook into a box – two paperbacks and CDs!
They argued opening boxes and the holiday spirit belong together, they are two sides of the same coin, or something like that. I’m no big fan of holiday spirits, so that argument didn’t convince me. But they are my family after all and I got what I wanted – in some way. I didn’t further stress the point, to avoid hurting some feelings. I even managed to smile and pretend happiness.
Maybe they even have a practical point, as it should definitively be easier to make digital gifts. Time for Amazon and Apple to sort that out. How about buying an album as a gift and deliver it at a certain date, her birthday for example.
I’m a proud owner of a Kindle for over a year now and I like it so much. It weights less then a real book and I can flip pages with one hand, even in both directions. I’m pushing our baby buggy with one hand and can easily read, holding the Kindle in the other hand. That’s amazing. I don’t know how many books I have read this way, around 30 I guess. I thought about it for a while, but I can not imagine any use case where a paperback would outperform an ebook.
I even make myself believe I’m doing something good by going fully digital. The obvious thing: no more trees must die (at least to make books). The not so obvious thing: do something against the publishing industry. By bypassing their established distribution channels and getting books directly from the authors, for example. Do you know John Locke, look him up if you need more arguments.
In Germany the situation is really bad, the publishers, print shops and established authors are like behemoths, desperately trying to keep the current state, blocking any new invention, keeping their ecosystems closed and charging ridiculous high fees for the electronic versions of their books, if those exist at all.
I don’t really know how it is in the USA, but from my viewpoint it doesn’t seem that bad. There are some publishers I have faith in: O’Reilly and PragProg come instantly to my mind. It is easy to buy ebooks there, they usually provide versions for my Kindle, they have quite good content, at least for a nerd, like me and the prices seem fair.
Ah! One thing where real books beat their electronic alter ego: looking nice in the shelf.