Monday, 10 May 2010

Can eBooks be Books?

By Catriona Troth

I must admit, my own experience with ebooks is a bit off the wall. I don’t have an eReader, or a Kindle or even an iPad. What I have is a little iPod touch and a programme called Stanza. Stanza allows me to download books from a range of sources including free ones (like Project Gutenburg) and online bookstores like BooksonBoard. More importantly, for me, it allows me to upload onto the iPod anything that I hold on my computer as a Word document or a .pdf file.

From time to time, people in my writers’ group share whole books with each other – way beyond my tolerance for reading on a computer screen and too fussy and fiddly (not to say expensive) to print. So I upload them onto my iPod. This gives me something on the scale of the Victorian Tom Thumb books described by Arriety in the opening chapter of The Borrowers, and which I find quite comfortable to read. The iPod also has the added bonus of enabling me to read in the dark, so if I wake up in the middle of the night, I can tuck into a book without disturbing my husband.

So I am predisposed to be favourable to the idea of ebooks. But arguments over different platforms, arguments over pricing and Digital Rights Management, limited accessibility – it’s all been enough to put off even me. Hence my question this month is Can eBooks be Books?

Read the full article in the June issue of Words with JAM.

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