I do not have an e-book reader but I found this little price war fascinating. My sci-fi/fantasy sites have gone nuts about this all weekend because Macmillan owns TOR, which is a major publisher of sf/f. It seems to me that the e-book reader is going to end up being a Beta/VHS type war and I would be willing to bet that it will all be decided in a year or two. I am hoping that it is not the iPad that wins – not including a USB port is just ridiculous. How the hell am I supposed to load my current collection of e-books? Most of which I got for nothing.
Now I got all of my free e-books from legitimate means but don’t think that e-piracy is limited to only music or movies. The whole publishing industry is starting to realize that they are really getting hit by e-piracy. I think the estimate is that a least a billion $ has been lost to torrents of popular books. If you think that the record companies are working with a bad business model, publishing is even more antiquated and unwieldy. Add a bad economy and this not going to end well. There are a lot of parties betting on the future being in e-books and I have a hunch that it is the wrong bet.
For what it is worth, I like to have an actual book in my hands. There is a certain aesthetic to turning pages and looking at the written word that immerses me in a way looking at data on a screen doesn’t. Which is odd because I probably spend 1/2 hour to an hour reading from a book during a given day and probably up to ten or eleven hours a day reading from a computer screen. But I think most readers still prefer books. Yes, the technology is nifty but in the end the romance of a physical book is stronger for a bibliophile.
Physical media for music is all but dead. There is an entire generation that only thinks of music as something that exists only as data. And for that generation the sound of an actual stereo playing music is a foreign thing, let alone a quality stereo that sounds like the musicians (another vanishing art) are right there in the room. I truly fear that happening to books.
I hate to sound like a curmudgeon. I love technology and new toys. But I hear the sanity in the argument that something is lost as everything is digitalized.