(all they have to do is ask me)
Seems to me we already have the perfect system for writing ebooks – we simply do them the same ways, using all the same tools, that we do websites. Then, as a reader, all you have to do is sign up, get your username and password, and abracapoofie! you have full access to the latest and greatest edition of the book (website) for as long as you both shall live. Well, assuming you can find a device that connects to the internet and you can remember your username and password, that is.
“Oh, but I don’t want to read on my computer!” you say, and “Oh, I wholeheartedly agree with you!” I say. I don’t like computer screens much, my self. At all, actually. But that doesn’t mean we need a new system to make the books – it just means we need a new system to read them.
And guess what? They’re out there. Kind of like “the truth.” It’s out there, too, so they say.
Anyway. A prediction (go mark your calendar):
In five years, ebooks will be websites. All of the following will be truisms:
- No one will complain about not owning a physical copy any more than they complain now about not owning a copy of Language Log. Your ebook reader will be whatever device is a) closest and b) hooked up to the internet, but it will most likely be an elegant little clamshell phone with a four or five inch display, a touchpad, and a full physical keyboard, or a device that looks a lot like a current ereader, but is actually the computer the iPad would have been, had it been made by a computer company. (Oh, yes I did too say that! Here come the folks that drank the apple cider!)
- Authors and publishers will have the control over layout and display that they need in order to stop the complaints about poorly-displayed images, square boxes for punctuation marks, etc.
- Devices that don’t work well in sunlight will not result in twisted poses. They will result in poor sales.
- The device you use to make phone calls while out of the office or your home will work perfectly well to read books, but may, in fact, not be the device you use to read in the office or at at home.
- Just as you use more than one computer, and yet you have access to all of the same sites, so you will be able to use more than one device, with access to all of the same books. You can even use mine, if you left yours home and you really want to show me the new novel you’ve discovered. Log on as you, tell it not to remember you, and then log off when I’ve agreed that The Midnight Sun Eclipses the New Moon – Book One of the Unending Wheel of Truth Series is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
In other words, computers will get so small we carry them with us all the time, and leave both the ereaders and the cell phones at home.
Five years, people. Go mark your calendar.