The iPad Revolution

March 13, 2010 at 10:15 pm 3 comments

Writer and book designer Craig Mod declares that the iPad will utterly revolutionize the reading experience, and will make cheap disposable paperbacks obsolete:

We’re losing the dregs of the publishing world: disposable books. The book printed without consideration of form or sustainability or longevity. The book produced to be consumed once and then tossed. The book you bin when you’re moving and you need to clean out the closet.

These are the first books to go. And I say it again, good riddance.

Once we dump this weight we can prune our increasingly obsolete network of distribution. As physicality disappears, so too does the need to fly dead trees around the world.

You already know the potential gains: edgier, riskier books in digital form, born from a lower barrier-to-entry to publish. New modes of storytelling. Less environmental impact. A rise in importance of editors. And, yes — paradoxically — a marked increase in the quality of things that do get printed.

The rest of the article, “Books in the Age of the iPad,” makes a fascinating case for the majority of books existing solely in electronic form; the exceptions would be the artfully-produced hardcover editions that would last hundreds of years.

However, compelling as Mod’s argument is, it doesn’t take into account two very large factors:

1) DRM. Digital Rights Management, which is thus far integrated de facto into the major e-readers on the market (Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and now Apple’s iPad), turns the e-book consumer from an owner into a licensor. Via the pervasive legalese of the End-User Licensing Agreements of these devices, you no longer actually own the books that you buy, but instead license the right to view the book on that particular reader. Which further means, as Amazon has recently shown, that the company can revoke your license at any point and remotely delete your book off of your reader without your knowledge or consent.

2) Economics. Cheaply produced paperbacks are all that some people can afford, especially in developing countries with widespread poverty. Not everyone can plunk down the coin for an expensive e-reader, nor can they go for the extravagant hardcover that will last for 300 years. To have access to these books at all, they either legally buy the cheap paperback, or else turn to pirated editions. As an author or publisher (both of which Mod claims to be), why would you possibly want to limit your audience in this way?


Entry filed under: Recreational Reading.

NLB Blogs Poppet Says Read!

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lim Jun Yi  |  March 22, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    I think that the ipad is very very useful but it does have pros and cons. I would want to own my own ipad. They should give 500 free ipad to further the advertising of it and this will show that the company is generous. That is all.

    • 2. Jason Erik Lundberg  |  March 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm

      Why would Apple bother to do this? Yes, it would make them seem generous, but how else would it positively effect them? There were something like 120,000 preorders for the iPad on the first day alone, so it’s not like they need the additional publicity that such an act would engender.

  • 3. Ryan Lau  |  May 12, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    I have disscuss this over the facebook group the main importance of having a moblie phone. The main reason: To call and sms. However, replacing books with virtual ones that is just amazing, in addition, there is also a negative impact on our health if we do not practice eye-care. Having a “book” in an ipad is an ingenious idea, but there is always a line between books and virtual ones. I think reading the reality books are way better.


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