The e-book club
BOOKS HAVE ALWAYS been remarkably resilient at staying the advances of technology and are largely unchanged since Don Quixote first tilted at windmills nearly 400 years ago. While music has hopped from cylinders to vinyl to cassettes to CDs to a collection of ones and zeros stored on your computer’s hard drive, the book has always been just so.
Until now. The technology behind electronic books has improved dramatically in recent years, and the e-book has entered the mainstream, which could – if the digital music experience of the last decade is anything to go by – see book prices fall as ease of access rises.
“The question is, can you improve upon something as highly evolved and well-suited to its task as the book? And if so, how?” asked Amazon.com’s chief executive Jeff Bezos last year as he launched his company’s Kindle e-book. It has taken the US by storm and, with its wireless access to thousands of low-cost downloadable books and newspapers (including The Irish Times ) as well as its web browser, it is, Bezos claims, well equipped to see off “the last bastion of analog”.