e-Ink wants to be free

In reply to a friend's anxiety on behalf of her librarian friends who worry about the consequences of less paper/ink reading and more eBook e-Ink reading I reflected:

The pattern for new ways of doing things has been gradual replacement: cars replaced horses, but still people ride them, for instance.

So the infatuation with eBook gadgets will swell, then fade. But a sizable proportion will stick and take the place of paper and ink for some sorts of text (periodicals and novels, as well as one's personal documents/notes and lists work very well). And more people will be able to "publish" their content as e-texts (no storage or distribution troubles).

From the days of Gutenberg onward, the ability for obtaining personal copies of texts and to lend them to others has only advanced the cause of literacy and magnified the power of written communication and thereby discussions. So I am optimistic about lending e-texts in a way reminiscent of paper texts: not endless copies to one's circle of friends, but one at a time. Those wishing to buy a personal copy and the ability to loan it to others could do so.

Textbook makers are experimenting with the idea of free content: you pay for the convenience of formating (color vs. black and white; printout on demand vs PDF). In other words, those who are cash poor but IT rich in time, could do their own formatting. But others would pay for the convenience of getting the content in a form that works best for their own needs.

All this is much in flux, but the IT river is flowing in the direction of "information wants to be free."

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