podcast #8: the end? of print, part 2

In part 2 of our query into the end of print, Matt and I discuss books, e-books, libraries, the Kindle (timely!) and my iPhone snobbery. Matt busts out with the phrase “the democratization of distribution” which is merely one of the reasons why he is so awesome.

I eagerly await our listener Ned‘s comments on my library-related diatribe. If you haven’t read his comments on part 1, you’re missing out. Every podcast should have a Ned. But not our Ned. Go get your own.

One thought on “podcast #8: the end? of print, part 2

  1. ‘Libraries are dying’ – thanks for not actually saying it! Here in Britain, public libraries *are* dying, I worry, but as a casualty of a long political battle between central and local government, not because the internet’s killing them. (I’d hesitate to apply this argument in the U.S. as I don’t have a good enough understanding of how city/county funding works.)

    As you say, libraries have always been in flux; what I think that means is that libraries have been used differently over time. Newspapers got so used to being the only game in town that most tried paid/restricted content models before trying to embrace the web. (As the brilliant Python example seems to illustrate, you need to accept looser control to profit in the looser-controlled online environment.) Similarly, for a really long time there’s been a mass market for fiction and popular non-fiction, despite each individual book usually costing more than a meal. One of public libraries’ key roles for *decades* has been meeting a gap here.

    Clearly the internet brings valid alternatives for library patrons, like the junior high kids doing their research. I reckon mass-market books will go the way of mass-market CDs, and library use will diminish accordingly. But there are still people who prefer buying CDs; hell, there are people who prefer buying actual records. (Vinyl record sales have gone *up* in Britain in the last few years.) So there will still be readers who choose libraries, and those for whom libraries are the only option.

    Me, I’m quite excited by the Kindle. Like I was excited by the Diamond Rio a decade ago. But I’m not buying one until it’s very, very good. Like you, my criteria include being one with the iPhone. I waited years for my iPhone, to stop having to carry multiple devices around, and I’m still slightly excited that it exists. (Clearly I’m excitable.)

    I don’t have many links to share, but John Siracusa’s musings of last week are relevant, which I got from @pnh, who’s been tweeting only today on ebooks. Incidentally, there’s a handful of public libraries in Britain that rent out ebooks. I don’t know how well it works. (The more income you make from rentals, the more the council cuts your books budget, so for most librarians there isn’t an incentive to try it.)

    PS: I’m honored to be the local Ned! Not something I’d admit aloud in Scotland…

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