Sunday, February 8, 2009

The end of books?

Let's see if I can bring together a number of strands today, that really go to the heart of the concept of the Digital Economy.

The Productivity Commission is currently conducting an inquiry into the parallel importation of books. This is a long running issue, and one which parts of the publishing industry take seriously enough to complain about one of the Commissioners on the grounds of bias.

As Crikey points out itis hard to distinguish principle from self-interest at times in this discussion.

But one wonders if the debate isn't really starting to happen just as the whole book business model is about to undergo the same shift as happened to music.

In the SMH on the weekend Naomi Alderton wrote about her conversion to e-books and how they were in fact a green solution. Her device of choice was an iLiad. Meanwhile Amazon is making books prepared for its Kindle reader to also be available on various smart phones. At the same time Google announced that it was making its vast resource of online books available to mobile phones.

In Australia Dymocks already offers digital books for a number of reader devices. Coming from the other direction Angus and Robertson offers the the storymaker which is their name for the Espresso Book Machine which can print and bind a rare or out of print book while you wait.

It would seem the future will not be about the physical importation or printing of books in any form.

As for me - I'd love to try out an e-book format. The Kindle looks great but only works for the US, while the iLiad offered by Dymocks claims to be able to handle any document you could print frm a PC.

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