Browsing an article about revolutionary new products and stuff, I noticed something called a Sony Reader, a digital book. The first thing I think is, why is a ‘digital book’ still a revolutionary idea? I was hearing about the concept last decade.

Then I wonder how this technology will affect books in general. Since you don’t have to chop trees down to make them, they’re more environmentally friendly than books. They take up much less space than a collection of books. As long as they’re not a strain to read — and this Sony Reader allegedly has the same resolution as print and an anti-glare screen — I don’t see how they’re not superior to books in every way.

The only problem is piracy of books, which I think is a problem for two reasons. Firstly is the loss of profit to authors, although I only think this is a problem to the most popular authors. For smaller authors, to have their work available over the internet would be a huge boost to exposure, although this in turn presents the problem of oversaturation — if you went to a library that had every book ever written, how would you ever find anything interesting to read?

The second problem with piracy would be the anti-piracy mechanisms they’d build into the digital books. Anti-piracy measures are generally so incredibly infuriating that they’d vastly reduce the enjoyment of reading. Since books only have copy protection until they’re retyped on a computer, the digital book would have to be restricted to reading ‘authentic’ files, so you’d only be able to read books that are available through the online shop. I don’t think most people would want a digital book unless it could display anything they want to read.

I don’t think that digital books will ever replace paperbacks, though. The bicycle never replace walking and the car never replaced the bicycle. Especially when it comes to literature, there’s far too much online and not enough indicators of quality — at least in a bookstore or a library, everything there has won the competition to be published.

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