Jeremy Kaplan at the Wall Street Journal’s “Digits” blog offers an interesting discussion on the two possible futures of e-text: the iPad-like lockdown, where digital text can be carried around easily but not so easily shared or remixed—or a more open future where text can be shared and used in many different ways.

The blog post links to and summarizes a presentation by Steven Johnson at the Columbia Journalism School, discussing those futures. I haven’t yet had the chance to watch it or read the transcript, but the discussion sounds like an interesting, albeit familiar, one. Certainly Cory Doctorow has brought up a lot of these points, too.

I certainly want greater openness for more “textual productivity” myself, but the control really isn’t in Apple’s hands as long as publishers insist on DRM. On the other hand, unlike with the iTunes music store, there has been no sign as yet that Steve Jobs feels the same way about DRM for books as he did about DRM for music.


  1. I wonder where this Kaplan has been for the last 12 years, the entire life of commercial ebooks? I wonder why he thinks the Apple iPad is closed but the Amazon Kindle is open? I wonder why he ends his rant, ‘…are you listening, Steve Jobs?’ when it is the book publishers and only the book publishers who demand DRM on commercial ebooks? I wonder why he didn’t talk about DRM music and DRM movies and DRM television shows?

    And I wonder why TeleRead is even mentioning this without citing it as another example of the typical ignorance and idiocy of the general press in regard to tech matters, and ebooks?

    — asotir

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