Last summer, Baldur Bjarnason posted a series of observations about digital reading, culminating in a call to "Make eBooks worth it". He explains:
Of course ebooks as they currently exist are fine for many people. But those who assume that this is acceptable are also assuming a stable media industry. In entering the digital arena books (e- or not) are brought into direct competition with not only other time wasters (games, video, etc.) but other forms of reading, namely the web and apps.
If the ebook ecosystem cannot support a diversity of content and interfaces, the web and apps will step in to fill the gaps.
To address the gaps, Bjarnason writes his own "digital manifesto", calling for (presented verbatim):
- A diversity of new modes of reading.
- A wealth of new tools for reading and writing that are impossible in print.
- The ability to enable new modes of learning and skills development (just adding interactive quizzes is a massive bankruptcy of imagination).
- Democratised tools of publishing. It’s still too difficult to create good looking ebooks and distribute them widely.
- A more peer-like, less hierarchical, relationship between the reader and writer.
- A more symmetrical relationship between reading and writing. Reading, annotations, quotes and more should feed directly into writing systems.
- A greater variety of models for how we extract value from writing, from gift-giving (pay-what-you-want) to subscription to dynamic pricing (like automatically increasing or decreasing prices the more people buy to create either scarcity or abundance, depending on what you want).
This is a great list, one that I'd like to return in weekly installments through the balance of 2013 – before the web and apps step in to fill the gaps.