Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans, and happy Thursday to everyone else. It’s that time of year again when we count our blessings and contemplate the things we are thankful for. (It’s also the time when we stuff ourselves into a comatose state on oversized poultry, but those who call it “Turkey Day” run a risk of trivializing the real reason for this holiday.)
Reviewing my list for last year, I can’t really find a whole lot that I would change on it. Despite the onset of agency pricing, we’ve still got about a zillion DRM-free free and cheap e-books available from other sources. EPUB is still being widely adopted, even if Barnes & Noble and Apple are fragmenting the DRM on it. E-book readers are exploding more than ever, especially with the iPad and iBooks joining the fray.
My iPod Touch is gone, alas, but someday I’ll have another. Google Book Search is still up and coming. Baen’s rescued Meisha Merlin writers are cranking out even more books (including the Liaden novel fans have been awaiting for literally years, and three more following that!).
And e-reader prices are falling faster than ever, with multiple readers available this Black Friday or holiday season for under $100. Even the industry leaders are getting in on the act: Amazon is selling its G2, 3G-wireless only reader for $89 tomorrow, and Barnes & Noble has its wi-fi Nook on eBay for $99. That kind of deal has been unheard of until now.
There are still a lot of annoyances in the e-book market as a whole—agency pricing, territorial restrictions, obnoxious DRM—but we should probably pause for a moment and give thanks for how good we have it now, compared to, say, five years ago. E-books are on a lot of people’s minds now, and the more people read them the better they’ll get. Sooner or later we’re going to have that dirt-cheap “disposable” e-reader the way we now have dirt-cheap “disposable” cell phones.