eBooks are an interesting phenomena, they’ve been foreshadowed in science fiction for many years. One book I read many years ago by Isaac Asimov, Foundation and Empire written in 1952, has one of the characters sitting for many, many hours reading ebooks (although Asimov uses a different name, the concept is still the same). We’ve spent many hours debating the whys and wherefores and in some cases the downsides, some time ago 1984 by George Orwell was deleted from many ebook readers and just recently one lady had her Kindle account closed for no justified reason I can find. It’s a bit like someone locking up your bookshelves and not giving you the key.
Update: Thanks to Judy here’s the link to the original article with lots of comments!
Libraries are trying to move with the times and get with the ebook craze. It’s now possible to borrow ebooks, some of them have a three week return policy as with print books while others have a longer time span making it possible to read the book over an extended time. As with retail customers libraries don’t actually own the ebooks except for ones sold by Random House, this company is trying to make it possible for libraries to own the ebooks but there are glitches as they don’t sell direct to the library but have a clearing house in the middle of the transaction and the clearing house might have other ideas. You can read more here.
Cory Doctorow continues to raise the stakes and offers many of his books for free asking you make a payment of your choice. Some other science fiction authors are joining him and have raised $1 million (Doctorow updated this figure to $1.2 million in a tweet as I was proofing this article) in two weeks. Read more about it here. I love this concept and it’s interesting that all of the authors are science fiction authors and none of them are romance or general fiction. Are science fiction authors more willing to embrace the future?
Just digressing a little. I wonder about romance and porn books or rather about potential readers. How many more readers are there now they can read them as ebooks so people don’t see the covers. Looking at how well 50 Shades of Grey has sold on ebook may possibly give some indication there. I know I’ve just dissed romance books there but there is still a stigma about reading romance among many types of readers, I only know of one man who reads romance so how many men are reading them now that it’s easier to hide the cover and the purchase? I don’t even know how to find out these figures but it’d be interesting to find out. I do know in the past one had to be a covert science fiction reader as it was very much frowned upon, now it’s celebrated.