I am going to admit something…
I stopped enjoying reading books.
I am not sure when it happened, but it was sometime in the last couple of years. I’ve read books in that time, but not as much as manga, some magazines, and oh my god so much Wikipedia. I’ve read a lot! But I have gravitated away from books.
It is funny, because I am often the person who surprises people when the question of books come up. I don’t want any more books. I don’t want any manga, CDs, game discs, any media that is not art work or an art book, really. I want those things because they are still relevant to me, I have a physical ritual that I share with other people. However, I am past the ritual of holding a book in my hand; I am especially past the ritual of gathering dead trees and storing them on IKEA shelves. I like looking at my collection of books, but if I could replace that media, I would.
See, I know that we can translate nearly all of our media into the abstract electrical (hat tip to Paul). I believe the reason we don’t isn’t because we can’t, nor is it that people are not comfortable. It is because our tendency is to try to monetize the hell out of our culture. But hey, you know me! Creative Commons, libre and free culture, blah blah blah. We are getting there.
I was kinda bummed, because I knew that I probably wouldn’t. I’ve looked for it at Half-Price books, and found plenty of copies, but I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it. I didn’t want to carry it around, I didn’t want to bookmark my place, and I didn’t want to store it afterward (though that isn’t a problem, I could have passed it on).
In other words, I don’t enjoy physical books.
Well, I am in luck! I am holding in my hand a copy of Pride and Prejudice. It is beautiful and slick, and has adjustable brightness. Also, the typeface is great and easy to read, though I can look at the original pages if I am so inclined. This is because I have a copy of the book through the Google ebookstore, and it is on my Galaxy Tab.
Just as an aside… I AM THE HAPPIEST EARLY ADOPTER! EVAR!
So, yeah. I am not drinking the Google kool-aid or anything. I just think they are in a good position to offer a large collection of media, much of which is DRM-free. It gives us a chance to show publishers that we want to support creators who release their work without DRM (bring on the CC licensed books!). I am not betting my hopes that Google avoids douchebaggery. Rather, it is a step in the right direction. And in the meantime, I can read all of Jane Austen’s novels.
Goodbye dead tree collection; hello electrons and pulsing light.
Edit: Release early, release often. Hopefully the ebookstore will get more fields and searchable parameters. There is apparently no way to see if a book is DRM-free at this point: How do I make sure I’m only buying DRM-Free titles?
Sucks, because the Mark Twain autobiography sounds dope!
Another edit: Let’s hear it for sanity! From Takedowns and removals:
Sometimes a publisher will decide to take a book off sale for their own commercial reasons, or Google will take a book off sale, because for instance we find it violates our content policies. In such cases you will no longer be able to purchase the book at Google eBooks. However, if you have already purchased the book, you will still be able to access it in your shelves, you will still be able to read it on the web reader and on all supported devices, and you will still be able to make downloads. Your use of the book will not be affected.
In certain very rare circumstances it may be necessary for Google to remove an ebook you have purchased from your shelves. This could happen if someone represented themselves as the rightsholder in offering the book for sale, but someone else came forward and disputed their ownership of the rights and sent us a legal demand for removal. In these circumstances we would make efforts to persuade the disputing party to allow the book to remain on your shelf, but if unsuccessful we would be obliged to remove it, and we would not be allowed to inform you in advance. You would no longer see the book on your shelves, and you would then be unable to download the book again or to read it in the web reader. We would contact you to inform you that this had happened, we would refund your purchase, and in addition we would make efforts to find you an alternate copy of the book, whether available in ebook form from another provider, or as a physical paperback or hardback, new or used. We would ensure you kept access to any reviewer comments or other content about the book that you had entered into Google Books.
Seriously, what was Amazon thinking?