eBooks are being held back

Howard Oakley:

[…] few eBooks offer any advantage in use over their physical equivalents. eBook readers are still incredibly primitive, and won’t even let you refer to two or more sections of the book at the same time. You can’t photocopy them, copy quotations, or do anything remotely advantageous. What should have been a liberation from the printed page turns out to be the imposition of more restrictive rules.

Jason Snell:

I prefer to read on it than to read on an iPad or iPhone, which is why I keep buying Kindles even though I could definitely read on an iOS device without any trouble. The reflective E-Ink screen is more pleasant for long reading sessions, and the fact that my Kindle isn’t full of push notifications and Twitter apps helps it be a distraction-free reading environment.


Amazon’s approach to Kindle software updates has been erratic at best and absent at worst, and he’s right that using a Kindle “feels like trudging through soft sand.” The interface is inelegant and in so many ways unchanged from its original release in 2007, just months after the iPhone arrived on the scene. Typography on the Kindle is still mediocre, despite minor advances like support for custom fonts and (in limited cases) the elimination of force-justified text. Even support for library borrowing is hidden, because Amazon really wants you to buy books.
It’s the lack of a proper app story that stings the most, I think. I’d love a version of the New York Times, Washington Post, and The Athletic for my Kindle—the real apps, with the ability to read the latest stories. I know that my E-Ink Kindle screen isn’t going to give me vibrant color or animation, but it could certainly show me the text, which is what the Kindle excels at.

Andrew Albanese writing for Publisher’s Weekly(via DaringFireball):

Under Macmillan’s new policy, which is scheduled to go into effect on November 1, public libraries are allowed to license a usinge discounted, perpetual access e-book for the first eight weeks after a book’s publication. After eight weeks, libraries can purchase multiple two-year licenses at the regular price (roughly $60 for new works). Librarians, however, say that not being allowed to license multiple copies upon publication unfairly punishes digital readers, and will only serve to frustrate users and will hurt the ability of the library to serve their community, especially if other publishers follow suit.

“Libraries are prepared to pay a fair price for fair services; in fact, over the past ten years, libraries have spent over $40 billion acquiring content,” the ALA report reads. “But abuse of their market position by dominant actors in digital markets is impeding essential library activities that are necessary to ensure that all Americans have access to information, both today and for posterity. If these abuses go unchecked, America’s competitiveness and our cultural heritage as a nation are at risk.”