eBooks: The Only Books?


Way back when the Internet first learned to go there was a famous aphorism that encouraged it as it took every unstable step: “Information will be free.” Although the Internet is not old by any stretch of the imagination, it is now vertical, rugged and struggling up front, two legs strong and insistent: “Information will be on the Internet!” The resounding boom of this proclamation initially got other information-related industries – namely print and publishing – into the back pedal or just plain shaking. Newspapers that fortunately understood the ramifications of the Internet quickly stabilized their nerves and appeared online, first as a supplement to their print versions, then vice versa as their primary form of distribution. On the other hand, books appeared slowly, initially at a perusal, but apparently overnight is like the Internet itself, already running.

In increasing numbers, books are now being digitized; i.e. become ebooks. Although the number of industries varies, some sources already place e-book sales at 35% of total annual book sales.

Book reviewers are also increasingly shifting their critical gaze away from traditional hardcover and softcover books to ebooks, either exclusively in digital format or as alternatives to their tangible world partner. And not only do eBook Reviewers now regularly resound influential thumbs up or down to specific ebooks, but entire websites are available to review, catalog and otherwise provide e-book information in a growing number of categories. In fact, the breath of reading material found on the pages of an ebook already transcends traditional (and currently most in demand and thus lucrative) self-help ebooks to include even the canon of literature (previously only found in the gold leaf and leather bound) from Homer to Shakespeare.

Monster search engines, where Google (TM) naturally leads the charge (and Yahoo !, Microsoft’s MSN and bookseller Amazon.com in tow) are years to develop systems that digitize the printed word. In spite of copyright infringement lawsuits that spewed away from traditional book publishers, steps have been taken to digitize several large libraries whose collections are currently in the public domain (thus not subject to copyright law). For example, Microsoft is digitizing 100,000 such books from the UK Library. In addition, Random House recently became the first of the traditional publishing behemoths to realize their future, in part relying on selling ebooks and began digitizing parts of their catalog. Finally, Amazon.com creates a cheaper alternative, a “pay-per-view” system, not much unlike checking books out of a library for a nominal fee.

In the future, many experts predict that if we read something, it will only be read online and online. Reliable offline information is being digitized to replace currently less trusted online information. Access to information will even be available for purchase piecemeal to meet specific needs and interests. Examples include a chef’s recipe without his or her cookbook, a Bible verse without both wills, a single chapter relevant to the student’s research, and access to the foreign city a traveler visits without dragging the guide for the entire country abroad .

But what is wonderful about the average Joe and Jane, Smith or Jones in the digitization of information, but in its most beginning stages, is that the opportunities abound of them becoming primary movements and shakes, pioneering and (thus) dragging advantage of this revolution. Now is the time to digitize the stores with information and know-how you already have. Don’t know what I mean? Check out the wealth of information gathered daily on numerous new e-review sites to read how hundreds of others did exactly this: turn what they were good at or what interested them into an e-book that is now sold to and shared with like-minded people who want to learn or benefit from another (and maybe earlier!) Joe or Jane, Smith or Jones’ expertise.

Otherwise not interested in entrepreneurship? E-Book Review Websites are still a wonderful place to begin your search for information. There are regular links not only to people who sell ebooks they wrote, but to e-book exchanges and sellers who promote libraries worth of ebooks in an astonishing number of different categories. Either way, you want to be on board and drive on with the knowledge that not only does “information want to be free” but it “will be online!”

Copyright 2006, Robert K. Blanc. All rights reserved. Reprinting or re-posting of this article is only permitted in its entirety with the resource box below included and unchanged.