I Own Every Great Book Ever Written and They Are All in My Pocket
Perhaps that is a slight exaggeration, but it feels that way. For years now, I have used my Palm TX as my primary way to read books. The only exception to that reading pattern in the last two years has been the "Harry Potter" books, which are not available in a digital format. When I give my lectures on the future of publishing, I invariably reach into my pocket and tell the audience proudly that my Palm Pilot has four movies and 12 books, among other things.
Yesterday, when I went to get my next book, I was confronted with an offer I couldn't refuse. The offer was 3,000 classic titles for $19.00 at the push of one button. All these titles were actually available for free from www.projectgutenberg.com, but not packaged together and not in the format necessary for my Palm. So I pushed that button and now have ready access to a full library in my pocket.
I now have the complete works of Shakespeare, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas Hardy, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Rudyard Kipling, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells and a hundred other authors always in my pocket and ready to read at any time. I know I won't read them all, but I will read some that I might never have gotten to otherwise.
So, my point is that the concept of e-books and portable screens are doing a many things that the printed page just can't do and that digitized words should be perceived as counting for more. It is more than the fact that I can read just one book in my Palm, but it's my ability to read a passage from practically any book that exists, at any time I want to, as well as the ability to click on hyperlinks, use the in-board dictionary for words I am unfamiliar with, experience multimedia, and add notes and share sections of passages with others. That is the future of publishing, and it is in my pocket at any time.