Print is Dead?

In technology on February 18, 2008 at 5:03 pm

KindleThere has always been something fascinating to me about those who have written and published a book. A real book. How do you define a real book? Well, for the purpose that I write about today, something of substance and over 100 pages in length. I have a few publications out there, in journals and the school that granted me a degree, but that’s not what I’m describing here. I mean people whose names are on a solid, well-researched book. Where the countless hours poured into the study and writing are all redeemed when the binding is cracked the first time a reader looses themselves in whatever world is detailed. These are the people that fascinate me.

Recently, Steve Jobs (I don’t think it would be a stretch to refer to him as a “trend-setter”) was quoted, saying:

“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

The irony of how many people read his comment is almost on par with the fact that my Kindle e-reader came with a 20-page printed user’s manual.

Jeff Gomez has written a book called Print Is Dead: Books in Our Digital Age where he evangelizes authors, publishers, and distributors to get on the digital bandwagon and begin publishing in ways that are accessible to those who spend the majority of their time in front of computers and cell phones and rarely see printed text.

Here’s where I’d like to comment on Amazon’s drive to accomplish this. In conjunction with their release of the Kindle reading device, whose major one-up on all the other e-readers is that you can wirelessly download content in minutes almost anywhere you are, they have started a Digital Text Platform. It gives any author (with or without a publisher) the ability to publish their material for sale in the Kindle store. Just write, upload, set a price, and you’re published. No meetings, no approvals, no waiting.

Obviously making it so easy to become “published” will lead to an increase of poorly-written material being seen. But, it will also make it easier for some really exceptional writers who may not want to go through the processes that publishing houses place on them have their writings available. The great thing about the timing of this technology is that folks can easily comment on the “book” and rate it so that the poorly-written “books” will be weeded out and the well-written ones will become visible quickly.

I am excited about where things are going in this area, especially for Christians. Not necessarily that any Christian should publish anything they feel like, but allowing more pastors and elders to publish their sermons, or seeing more books published as a result of a conference. And making all of this more accessible, search-able, and shareable is the driving force at work.


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