My recent bout of nostalgia for gamebooks had me thinking about e-books again.
Even though I’ve been tempted by gadget lust several times, I don’t own a Kindle, a Nook, or an iPad. A few years ago, I bought a couple of ebooks from Fictionwise when I was experimenting with lunchtime reading on my PDA. Reading experience aside, my PDA reading experiment has a big similarity to using a Kindle, Nook, or iPad: if you lose the device or stop using it then all of the books you’ve purchased are gone.
This make me wonder if nostalgia experience like I recently enjoyed will vanish once e-books become more common. The switch from paper books is much different than the switch from film photos to digital photos, because digital photos are portable across different types of devices and can be copied. E-books are tied to a specific device by DRM software. If I read an e-book and I fall in love with it and want to be sure that I can pick it up and read it again in 5, 10, or 20 years, then I would either have to buy a paper version or I would have to store the e-book reader and hope that the battery and electronics still worked years later.
E-books have much more in common with digital music from several years ago, and it’s going to take a similar loosening of control before I’m ready to commit to it. Even once I started listening to MP3′s primarily, I continued to buy and rip CD’s. It wasn’t until Amazon opened their DRM free music store that I stopped buying physical media. I just did not want to commit myself to the walled-garden of iTunes or Play-for-sure. Unfortunately Amazon’s entry into the e-book market is just as locked down as anything Apple did in the music-space, so I don’t see the current e-book environment changing in the near future.
For now, I’m going to stick with paper.