"I don’t hate anything about e-books or e-book readers or tablets. There’s a lot of discussion about that, and I think it’s misplaced. The problem I have is whether we believe in the book itself.
To me a book is not just a particular file. It’s connected with personhood. Books are really, really hard to write. They represent a kind of a summit of grappling with what one really has to say. And what I’m concerned with is when Silicon Valley looks at books, they often think of them as really differently as just data points that you can mush together. They’re divorcing books from their role in personhood.
I’m quite concerned that in the future someone might not know what author they’re reading. You see that with music. You would think in the information age it would be the easiest thing to know what you’re listening to. That you could look up instantly the music upon hearing it so you know what you’re listening to, but in truth it’s hard to get to those services."
- Jaron Lanier: The Internet destroyed the middle class
"We may be discovering that e-books are well suited to some types of books (like genre fiction) but not well suited to other types (like nonfiction and literary fiction)… the e-book may turn out to be more a complement to the printed book, as audiobooks have long been."
- Nicholas Carr | Is the book a crucial cultural artifact, or just an outdated container for content?
"Clay Shirky argues that technologies get interesting only when they’re widespread enough to become boring. In 2012, in the best way possible, e-readers became incredibly, fantastically boring. Though the year found marginal improvements to e-reader technologies, it also saw a significant reversal in the relationship between humans and the written words we use to help express our humanity: In 2012, we read books, but our books also read us. Teachers used e-readers to catch would-be cheaters among their students. Books on screens promised new frontiers of interactivity between textbooks and teaching. They transformed Shakespeare’s plays from public performances to intimate ones. We went, with our books, back to the future, rediscovering in digital texts what has always made books agents of culture and, generally, awesome: their implicit community, their fundamental sociability, their ability to capture and convene. This year, we began to learn what it will mean to have books and readers that are reciprocal. We began to understand an old insight in a new way: We shape our books, and then our books shape us."
- The Year in Tech, 2012: Reading
"It takes the average reader just seven hours to read the final book in Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” trilogy on the Kobo e-reader—about 57 pages an hour. Nearly 18,000 Kindle readers have highlighted the same line from the second book in the series: “Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them."
- Your E-Book Is Reading You - WSJ.com (via rickwebb)
"Most people think that Amazon is selling Kindle devices at cost in order to make a profit on the sales of books and movies. But if Amazon is also giving away a lot of media for free—4 of the Top 10 books in the Kindle Store can be had for free under the Kindle lending program—then what is its business model for Kindle?
Giving away the razor to make money on the blades is a well-known strategy. But giving away the razor and the blades in order to make money on a subscription loyalty program as a way to sell everything else? Is that Amazon’s real goal with the Kindle—is Amazon in the device business only to sell Prime subscriptions, which the company sees as a key accelerant for sales across the rest of its site?
…We don’t know where Amazon expects to make money from in the future. Indeed, we barely know where Amazon makes money from now. The company refuses to divulge even the most basic stats about its business. Amazon’s earnings calls are a comedy of opacity and misdirection; you’d have a better chance getting a guard at Buckingham Palace guard to crack a smile than to get an Amazon exec to accidentally tell you about the company’s business.
…But all this misunderstanding can’t be an unalloyed good. Amazon is so opaque, with so many mysterious businesses and revenue streams, that you’ve got to wonder whether the people who work there even understand what it’s up to. In business, simplicity often wins. Selling me a device to get me to buy a membership in order to get a book for free. Is Bezos crazy like a fox? Or is he just plain crazy? We have no idea.”
“Another problem is Amazon’s market dominance. The firm accounts for less than a quarter of physical book sales. But Amazon sells 60-70% of e-books in America and perhaps 90% in Britain… In America, Barnes & Noble’s Nook is the main competitor. Surprisingly, given the success of the iPad, Apple’s iBookstore has lagged… Only half of iPad owners read e-books—and two-thirds of them own or plan to buy an e-reader especially for the purpose.”
Kindles Getting Cheaper, and Huge: 10 Percent of Amazon’s Business Next Year
The big picture is that [Citigroup’s] Mahaney thinks Kindle readers and books will generate $6.1 billion for Amazon next year–nearly 10 percent of its overall sales. Again, remember: This business didn’t exist until Thanksgiving 2007.
iPads Are Mingling With TVs, While Kindles Get Busy In The Bedroom: Study
"Roughly one in two [smartphone] owners seems to be using them in pretty much every other situation, including just killing time waiting for something else to happen."