Ebooks are about to become big business. How do I know? Two news items from last week:
- Apple introduces the iPad.
- The war between Amazon and Macmillan. (The companies appear to have reached a truce.)
None of this would be happening if these businesses didn’t think they could make money selling ebooks. And that’s great news for us here at Book View Cafe, because we launched this enterprise in the belief that ebooks were about to hit the big time.
But those news items also make something else clear: The road leading to easy, universal access to ebooks is still full of potholes.
Print books still have one incredibly important feature that makes them preferable to ebooks: As long as I can get my hands on a copy of a book — and it’s never been easier to find a book, with publishers, bookstores, online retailers, and a myriad of used book dealers offering items for sale — I can read it, no problem.
But with an ebook, I have to make sure I have the right device — or at least the right software — to read it. For example, Amazon’s ebooks can only be read on the Kindle. And while the Kindle is now available as an iPhone app, or for free download to a PC (the Mac version is still coming), the fact still remains that you can’t read an ebook published for the Kindle on your Sony E-reader. Or your Nook.
It’s because of all those different kinds of limits that we offer Book View Press books in a number of formats. We want you to be able to read our books no matter what kind of device you have.
And in the end, that’s why I haven’t bought a Kindle. I don’t want to buy — or even download for free — several different devices so that I can read books from a variety of retailers and publishers. I want to acquire one reading device and to be able to download books onto it from any source of ebooks out there.
I don’t think this is an unreasonable or irrational desire. Nor does it mean manufacturers can’t make and sell different kinds of e-readers. Some people are probably happy reading books on their smartphones. Others will like the iPad, since like the phones it provides a variety of other applications, but it’s large enough to make it easier to read print. Dedicated devices like the Kindle will appeal to others, who only want books on their device. A few are probably fine with reading on their laptops or even desktops.
But nobody wants their book selection limited by the hardware selection. And believe me, writers don’t want readers’ access to their books limited by hardware, either. We want ebooks to be more accessible than print, not less.
That day is coming. It can’t get here too soon.
Nancy Jane has stories in both of the anthologies recently published by Book View Press: “The Savage and the Monster” in The Shadow Conspiracy and “Blindsided by Venus in the House of Mars” in Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls.
Her collection Conscientious Inconsistencies is available from PS Publishing and her novella Changeling can be ordered from Aqueduct Press. All fifty of the short-short stories she posted as part of her year-long Flash Fiction Project are available for free here.