E-book AND Print Book; No Versus About It

A few weeks ago, my kids and I were wasting time waiting for a movie to start (Brave – it was great; you should see it), and we came across a small, used bookstore. The experience was, to say the least, awesome. We each found our place in the store, lost among the shelves and shelves of books.

The kids picked a book to buy, and as we checked out the owner commended each of their choices and told them, “great job – keep on reading.”

I’ll say it again, it was a great experience. Compare that with the experience surrounding my e-reader. My Nook is a prized possession. It stays hidden, sometimes even while I’m reading. There is no way I will share it with my kids and their clumsy, dirty hands.

Now, I could choose to get them each their own. But something tells me they will get loaded with game apps, lost, or broken in no time at all. With three kids, it would be an expensive endeavor.

Granted, I would never give up my Nook – and do think it is the future of reading, but why do we have to choose one or the other?  We don’t – it’s all about balance. We can incorporate both into our lives:

Yes, my photo-shop skills need some work. I am sitting on the books while reading my Nook because I couldn’t fit my butt in the tiny purple chair. Also, I am normally wearing shoes when shopping in public…

But to do so, technology – and people – have a long way to go. We need to make content more ‘shareable’: Here’s how, specifically:

1. Allow users to gift their entire libraries. According to one article from SmartMoney Blog, “Someone who owned 10,000 hardcover books and the same number of vinyl records could bequeath them to descendants, but legal experts say passing on iTunes and Kindle libraries would be much more complicated.” Already, my iTunes library has turned out to be quite the investment, at least for my modest salary, so it is definitely something I want to see passed on.

2. Better E-book systems in our public libraries. Along the same lines of sharing, public libraries have lendable e-books, but not a whole lot are available and there are long waiting lists. It is a system worth making the investment to improve.

3. Donate used e-books: When I buy an e-book and am finished reading, it stays put in my e-reader. Why can’t I donate it to a bookstore, school, or a friend? Limited lending programs (two weeks or so) by Amazon and B&N don’t cut it. I don’t own digital rights to the material, so there isn’t a form of transfer that isn’t considered piracy.

Shareable ebook sites are starting to make their debut, but so is the legal department of Amazon. Amazon briefly revoked Lendle’s access, which proves the industry has a ways to go as far as shareable content. Furthermore, most sharing sites are only available in the US.

DRM (digital rights management) is something authors establish with their ebooks when they first publish. No piracy? Sounds great to me. Wrong! My books can still be pirated, and it just makes ‘sharing’ all that more difficult for the reader. Unfortunately, once DRM is selected for a book, the author cannot go back and change it.

So what can we do about it? The e-book industry is largely a customer-driven operation, much more so than the print industry ever was. Let’s use that to our advantage. Give feedback, and lots of it, anywhere you can. Ask for Demand for more shareable content!

I acknowledge shareable digital content may be a difficult thing to accomplish, seeing as how the industry finally has a pseudo-way to control content.  I mean, by sharing and donating hard copy books, were we just committing ‘analog piracy’ all along? Keep in mind, though (and maybe this is something we should remind publishers), they’ve still managed to sell books, despite all the ‘sharing’.   The same would apply to e-books.

On that note, have a great labor day weekend everyone!

5 thoughts on “E-book AND Print Book; No Versus About It

  1. Great topic Terra. I do love my e-reader as it allows me to have many books with me without all of the clutter. But I find myself putting it aside sometimes, and choosing a print book off of one of my shelves instead. I will always love physical books more, the smell, the feel, I love it.

  2. I’d never even thought about the issue of sharing ebooks, but it’s absolutely true, isn’t it? When I die, I want to be able to pass on my collection to my children (or at least, I will once I have children), and I don’t know if that’s possible with the way ebooks are set up right now. I suppose I could just give them the info for my itunes account …

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