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Can E-Book Beat the Printed Book?

Will e-book beat the printed book? We asked this question several people who work in the sphere of literature, publishing and information technology. Here are several opinions we got during the interviews:

 

I have heard so many predictions telling that the printed book has no future. But none has come true. The first, and most ridiculous, claim came in the 1960s, when there was great concern that the paperback would be the end of the hardback. Then there was the fear that the cassette would replace the book. Later, the CD-ROM was seen as a superlative technology that would definitely get rid of the book.

Now we have the e-book. No doubt this latest device will find its own market, but I don't believe there'll be a great demand for it. Though we live in technical world, we still enjoy reading a book, re­laxing and getting away from technology. There is some­thing very satisfying when you hold a book in your hands. In fact, studies show that, when you read on a screen, your eyes and brain are constantly trying to see where you are on the page and how far you are from the end. When you read from paper, on the other hand, the hands help to provide that information.

There are also claims about e-book’s environmental benefits, but no one has studied the environmental damage of an e-book throughout our entire life.

The fact is that, despite new technologies, more books are being bought and read than at any other time in history. My prediction is that the traditional book publishing market will slowly become a smaller part of the growing entertainment and information market. And I think that's fine. A few years ago, many people were saying Amazon would destroy business of common bookshops and reduce choice. But the opposite has hap­pened: Amazon has opened up the market in every part of the world for people who can't easily get to tradition­al booksellers.

So, I can look at the e-book and then say, "Wow, it's clever!" — but I don't believe that it is the future.

 

***

There's no question that online books will attract huge numbers of readers. E-books have a great potential to add to the book ex­perience with video and audio material. Many people prefer to get information not just by reading, but by seeing and hearing, too. So imagine the benefits of a page that allows you to click through the text to hear an interesting lecture or watch an animated version of an experiment.

My company has produced online learn­ing materials in which the text is accompanied by au­dio, so people studying languages can hear how the words on the page should be pronounced. In my view, the advantages of the e-book will be mainly for non-fiction and educational works. But you could also produce a novel that links to an interview with the author, or to a map of the place where the sto­ry takes place.

The e-reader is not quite there yet. Of course most e-books today are available on a mono screen, with black letters on a white background. They don’t use video, audio, flash animation, etc. But all of this will improve.



Then the e-book could revolutionize the spread of knowledge by taking the equivalent of a world library to communities that used to have only a few paperbacks before. In the Middle Ages, books were held by monasteries. In the 19th century libraries were built and books became more available. But if you live in a distant town in Africa, you're probably still waiting for a library. With an e-book, you could jump two stages ahead to get high-quality reading materials containing additional educational material. Such books are too expensive for most peo­ple now, but mass production always sees prices fall.

An e-book has the benefit of being much more environmentally friendly. The e-book is also more writer-friendly, because it lowers the cost of getting a book to market.

 


Date: 2015-12-17; view: 886


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