Wired.com’s New York editor, John C. Abell, has posted what at first glance looks like another one of those “why e-books aren’t all that great” articles that e-book fans either point and laugh or gnash their teeth at.
But actually, Abell explains, he likes e-books himself—he hasn’t bought anything in print since getting his iPad. Still, he sees five areas where e-books don’t quite live up to their print counterparts.
Some of these “problems” are more compelling than others:
- An unfinished e-book isn’t a constant reminder to finish reading it.
- You can’t keep your books all in one place.
- Notes in the margins help you think.
- E-books are positioned as disposable, but aren’t priced that way.
- E-books can’t be used for interior design.
Even Abell admits that the interior design gripe seems a bit shallow, and I have a hard time imagining too many book lovers who need reminders of unfinished books, but the other points he raises are ones we have mentioned before.
Unless you crack the DRM on every book you buy and load them all into Calibre, the way some readers do, sooner or later you are going to be faced with having bought e-books in more than one store, and being unable to access them all from one place can be annoyingly inconvenient. And although I have never been inclined to scribble margin notes in books I was reading—at least apart from college textbooks—some people make margin notes as a matter of course. And e-books can’t be passed on the way print books can, but we still pay significantly more than paperback price for new ones from the agency six.
Of course, these problems have been around for quite some time, and we don’t seem to be making much progress toward clearing them up. But the more people who complain about them, the more likely it is somebody will eventually do something about it. At least, that’s my hope.