According to Jeff Jarvis, the book is an outmoded means of communicating information. He lists many problems with books. According to him, books:
- Are frozen in time without the means of being updated and corrected.
- Have no link to related knowledge, debates, and sources.
- Create, at best, a one-way relationship with a reader.
- Try to teach readers but donâ€™t teach authors.
- Tend to be too damned long because they have to be long enough to be books.
- Limit how knowledge can be found because they have to sit on a shelf under one address.
- Are expensive to produce.
- Depend on scarce shelf space.
- Depend on blockbuster economics.
- Canâ€™t afford to serve the real mass of niches.
- Arenâ€™t searchable.
- Arenâ€™t linkable.
- Have no metadata.
- Carry no conversation.
- Thrown out when thereâ€™s no space for them anymore. Print is where words go to die.
Of course, his ideas about books resulted in many comments. I summarize:
- Electronics simply canâ€™t replace the tactile experience of reading a book.
- Smart authors have found ways to blend the print with the electronic to offer something more.
- Books need no batteries, no operating systems, no proprietary viewing clients, they have no software glitches, no format incompatibilities, and you can take them to the beach to read them lying in the sun.
- Any book printed today is searchable in Google Books or Amazonâ€™s Search Inside the Book.
- Great books are timeless.
- Imagine reading Tolstoy with ads for eBay down the side.
- Books are for cozying up to the fireplace.
- You can’t beat the new book smell and the opening of never opened pages that’s damn right awesome.
- Writers deserve to be able to make money from their creations without fear that it’s going to be be copied duplicated and spread around without them earning a penny.
- The only thing that will stop physical book printing is when all the trees of the world are dead, and at that point I don’t think anyone of us will really care about reading anymore.
- Books and written materials have survived for hundreds and thousands of years. They are still readable. Do you think the electronic media will be around and readable in 400 years? Not likely.
- It is a good thing they are frozen in time. My only problem with the Internet is that it can never be clear-cut, because of the mixture of opinions and biases that make it up.
- Books provide the writer’s opinion, and nothing else. You don’t read a book to get a multitude of opinions, you read a book because you respect the writer and want to hear his/her opinion.
- The author is the one who learns the most from writing their book, because of all the knowledge they have to accumulate in order to make the book worth reading.
- When you buy a book, most of the time you get a CD of the book in PDF format.
I believe that both electronic and print media can, and will, coexist together in harmony without one replacing the other. I admit that I buy books less often than what I used to in the past. Usually I buy books for authors I know and I like. I subscribe to Safari Books Online mostly because I am online at least eight hours a day.
Even professionals who can be very good book authors shy away from writing a book because “the figures just don’t add up” especially that “these days, when you can self-publish on the Web, or publish your book as a PDF and sell it online, writing a book is not such a compelling deal”. Even my favorite author reads books on his Palm Pilot :).
Filed in Technology
on 22 May 06 | Tags: book