A Tale of Two Industries
Similarly, copiers and desktop computers have also led to making piracy simple, convenient and acceptable within not only consumer markets, but also the workplace. Copyright infringement has become an acceptable practice in many cases. Research reports and other expensive-to-produce collateral are often photocopied and distributed to groups outside of the registered user base.
To prevent this unauthorized duplication from cannibalizing the online publishing industry, companies are arming themselves with digital rights management software and are setting up legal distribution channels.
The bright side
Because advances in technology are continuing to grow at an exponential pace, consumers will have more enriched opportunities. In the near future, downloading a copy of a lengthy novel such as War and Peace to a handheld device at the top of Mount Everest will not be such a burdensome task, although reading it there might be! The improvement in storage capacity, micro-processing and access technologies goes hand-in-hand with a decrease in production and purchase costs. Ultimately, e-books will be accessible via affordable and pervasive Internet-enabled devices such as cell phones, Palm Pilots or even airport kiosks.
Companies profiting from the sale of content online will unlock new revenue streams by charging users either per order, per subscription or even time-limit per use. And authors, for example, such as King, will be able to adopt additional formats, such as serialization, which promises to have greater success online than in print. In addition, writers will be able to release shorter texts that are more suitable for e-book readers. Overall, the flexibility that digital rights technology offers will change the business of publishing at the core, simply by expanding the options available to authors and businesses alike.
Getting over the hump
But before standardization happens, readers must first favor reading content in portable digital format. While the music and video industries engineer new high-quality formats every few years, the publishing industry has remained relatively static. Because materials have always relied on paper, the resistance to the new media is high. The first adopters will no doubt be those who are interested more in the novelty of the device than in the functionality. Therefore to gain full consumer backing, e-book devices must be highly innovative while still providing the conventions and comfort of traditional paper books.