Wednesday 15 October 2014

Four Reasons I'm Less Likely to Make an eBook

Is that deep reading?
I have long been interested in making eBooks, and after one mildly successful attempt at making a book for the Kindle, I keep looking for opportunities to use the medium in new artworks. I particularly like the feeling of potential and unlimited possibility (one book could hold the contents of thousands) and the idea that the format of an eBook could be unpredictable, in a way that ordinary books can't.

But recently I have read four articles that have made me less inclined to have another go.
The first article is from one of my favourite blogs, The Digital Reader. The gist is that the software you use to store/catalogue eBooks on your computer can collect all kinds of information about how you read and what books you own. There is a certain voyeuristic pleasure in seeing someone's book collection - as it can provide an insight into their character, however the idea that a company's marketing department can sum your character up in a click of a button makes me nervous.

The next is that, according to the Independent, statistics show that dedicated eReaders (such as the Kindle) are falling out favour. If a reader puts down their kindle and doesn't pick it back up, what happens to my book? If a book is on the shelf in the real world I know there is the possibility that someone will spot it and give it another go, but what if the reader's shelf is switched off?
Often eBooks are encripted with DRM (digital rights management), to tie a book to a particular reader's device. This poses a problem for libraries as it means that instead of buying books they lease them from publishers. Effectively instead of the book seeing out its natural lifespan on the shelves, it will have to be renewed after a fixed duration or a fixed number of lendings. This process seems costly to me and disingenuous. The article provides a fascinating insight into how libraries are attempting to preserve their digital assets.

The final article is a great piece by Will Self about how eBooks don't appear to show that eReaders are not conducive to deep reading. The article implies that a person who reads on an eReader does not take in as much as someone who reads a physical book.

Collectively these articles paint an interesting picture of the digital publishing landscape and make me think that if I were to make another artworks as an eBook I would have to take these elements into consideration.


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