Whose side are you on, anyway?

June 26, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Whose side are you on, anyway?

Over the past few years, there has been a steadily growing centerpiece for discussion in the book industry: e-books. We at Ocean Publishing have recently mulled over the good, bad, and ugly of the e-book.

The e-book industry has revolutionized the way we read. Some of us, that is. As a whole, we’re not sure whether we’re ready to diverge from the sensation of cracking open a classic Mark Twain novel, from the tangibility of actually smelling the ink-pressed leaf print, or from the fantasy that we’re still in the 20th Century, but let’s face it, as society advances and the smart get smarter, so does our technology. Until the generations of Poe readers and Picasso aficionados wither away, we will never find ourselves in a one sided debate where e-books are the victors.

Picture a world like Fahrenheit 451 where people who own books are ostracized from society, but instead of a 190 page paperback book, imagine these 25 year old social media utilizing outcasts clinging to a 4″x10″ piece of plastic. Their naysayers are 75 year old, spectacle wearing humanitarians with a burning passion for Dan Brown. A battle erupts, napalm flies, on-the-fence non readers sit back and watch as each side of the literary world rips itself apart to outlast the other. What are we left with?

Both. They’re both still here. Neither side was dominant over the other because they’ve outwitted each other. The print- lovers power of finite scripture allow their books to resist the tests of time, while the e-warriors’ glare free screen allows them to read in any light, and their lightning-quick wi fi makes downloading Huckleberry Finn pain-free.

With my long-winded metaphor out of the way, I can now further emphasize the complete standstill in which we find ourselves. Allow me to introduce the pros and cons of being an e-book subscriber, along with a few statistics:

Advantages:

  • Contrary to the belief of many, the digital book is not a new technology. The very first e-book was digitized 40 years ago by an American student,  it simply wasn’t until 2009 that there sprouted a mainstream desire for e-books. So you can rest assured that the technology you get from, say, a Kindle, is topnotch quality. Now, Publishing Perspectives says that because 70% of e-book readers bought their first digital book within the last year, publishers are able to shape their expectations more appropriately for pricing and release times (fun fact).
  • Have a favorite book from when you were a child, but it is no longer in circulation in Swahili? Not to worry, most modern day e-books make translating any book simple.
  • Put yourself in a small, 16th floor apartment in Manhattan. You’re an avid reader, but your place is far too cramped for a bookshelf (even if it weren’t, that’s a lot of steps to climb). Fear not, the Nook from Barnes and Noble is only a half inch thick and can hold over 23,000 books.
Drawbacks:
  • Print books, whether hardback or paperback, are not susceptible to extreme temperatures. Let’s see an iPad digitize Harry Potter at the top of Mount Everest (Hardback-1, Steve Jobs-0).
  • Much more expensive than a regular book. There is a high cost of the original product (~$150), with each individual digital book costing roughly the same amount as a paper back, so you’re out $150, coulda got a puppy done something responsible with that.
  • I bring back Mr. Twain once more for my final drawback. Kindle will never be able to recreate a “digital classic” like a first edition The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the sensation you get when you pull Tom from a box in the attic and dust falls out of the pages, the spine of the book cracking as you open the cover. Just not the same experience.
After all this, I’m still not sure whether I side with the plastic-pad-reading hipsters or the plastic-hip-wearing hippies, but I am sure of the fact that e-books are here to stay. Whether Ocean finds success in the world of digital literature is a question we hope to answer soon enough. Our Windrusher series is both in e-version on Amazon and in our retail store, so help us figure it out!
Tyler Rice, Intern
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