E-readers v. books

All the buzz around the nook, the kindle, and other e-reading devices gave me pause to ponder if they might make such a great gift after all. I've been a fan of the "affordances" of paper in the office and at home, despite being something of a techie, but I'm certainly not alone in my suspicious take on "the future of the book": full article here: <a href="http://library.blogs.delaware.gov/2009/12/08/all-i-want-for-christmas-is-an-e-reader/">All I Want for Christmas is an E-Reader?</a>


Someone, and maybe it has to be me, needs to seriously and thoroughly address the digital rights management issues around e-readers and e-book files. Everyone discusses the sentimental quality of print book reading, without addressing these critical business and property rights concerns. E-books are 90% of the cost of print books, but unlike print you can't 1) trade; 2) sell; or 3) share your purchase; and 4) in the case of Amazon's Kindle e-book files, publishers can retrieve that file from you anytime. See this article, which I first thought was a hoax, because of the book involved (Orwell's 1984) and how preposterous it was, what the publisher, along with Amazon, did - http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/technology/companies/18amazon.html

These are the very same issues that plague people who download MP3s, and yet, for some reason, they accept the inconvenience of authorizing / deauthorizing computers, and other restrictions that I listed above. Electronic files, for software, music and now books have turned the very notion of property rights - I own this, and can do with it what I wish, not only on to its head, but has made it a dirty phrase. "What", the companies exclaim, "you want to share? Resell? Trade? Merge? Your own electronic property! Then you are a thief!"

I hope that readers, unlike music fans so far, will resist the transition to a mostly electronic format, until 1) open digital rights management - ie, free buy, sell, trade and share; and 2) no proprietary formats, are the norm.

Until then, I'll gladly pay the extra 10% and actually own what I own.