Will Your Children Inherit Your E-Books? – NPR

Will Your Children Inherit Your E-Books? : NPR.

Through one of my emailings I came across this interesting article on the on-going value of e-books vs. the traditional print book from the viewpoint of what will happen to your books when you die. Written by Amanda Katz, it was posted on NPR’s website June 21, 2012. I thought Katz had some nice points about this subject from a unique perspective. Once again, there are pro’s and con’s for both the traditional print book and the new e-book. Read this and think about what you want to pass on to your children and grandchildren. For me, it will not be my Kindle πŸ™‚

…What happens to our books when we die? Many books disappear before we do, of course; they fall apart, or we put them out on the stoop for scavengers. A book like this one, however β€” a text that is still read and reprinted, that has played a notable role in the 20th-century imagination, and then a copy of the text that played an especially interesting role β€” is likely to be passed down carefully as long as we can preserve and recognize it. Like the Bibles some families use to record their histories, it traces a chain of readers through time.

…In the age of the e-book, the paper book faces two possible and antithetical fates. It may become something to be discarded, as with the books that libraries scan and cannibalize. (In the introduction to another book, Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books, Price mentions the severed book spines that hang on the wall at Google, “like taxidermists’ trophies.”) Alternatively, it may become a special object to be preserved and traded. My grandfather’s copy of War of the Worlds obviously falls into the second category β€” but very few of the millions of books published since the mid-19th century are ones you’d want to own. If Amazon has a “long tail” of obscure but occasionally purchased titles, the tail that goes back 150 years is near endless and thin as thread.

Meanwhile, the kind of “serial” book sharing (as Price describes it) that occurs over time is giving way to simultaneous, “synchronous” sharing. With the Kindle, you can see what thousands of other Kindle readers are highlighting in the book you’re reading β€” a fairly astonishing innovation. But the passage of books from hand to hand, gathering inscriptions along the way, is not part of the e-book economy. Will your grandchild inherit your Kindle books? No one knows, but given password protection and the speed at which data becomes obsolete, that seems highly unlikely.

Still, as far as posterity goes, the e-book system has some genuine superiorities over the old economy. Annotations exist in the cloud, so if your house burns down they are preserved. Your marginalia is accessible to more than just someone who holds the volume itself β€” biographers of the future will surely appreciate not having to count on a generous widow bequeathing them their subject’s reading copy. With e-books, there’s no need to fight over a single physical library copy; no trees need be cut down; unsold books need not be pulped; you don’t need to lug books from apartment to apartment; pages will never be dotted with mildew.

But what do we lose as we bid farewell to what may turn out to have been a brief period in which common people owned physical books? I think of my own already excessive book collection, with its books that I have loved and worked on (as an editor and translator) and received as presents. Though I hope someone in the generation after mine will love living with them too, it doesn’t really matter to me: I won’t be there to see it.

But when I think of sorting through the boxes of my grandmother’s books β€” even the ones we couldn’t keep, or didn’t want β€” and what we found there, I am grateful not to have been handed her Amazon password instead. Among all the gifts of the electronic age, one of the most paradoxical might be to illuminate something we are beginning to trade away: the particular history, visible and invisible, that can be passed down through the vessel of an old book, inscribed by the hands and the minds of readers who are gone.

Ebooks: the new reading | The Guardian

Ebooks: the new reading | Books | The Guardian.

Today we will focus on a couple of e-book/e-reading items. First, theΒ  British magazine The Guardian (online) has a series going on trends in e-books and e-reading. There are a variety of articles posted already and these are worth following. Here’s a bit from the latest, posted this past Sunday:

Think back to the last five books you read. How did you find out about them? Now imagine being asked the same question in June 2022. How different do you think your answers will be?

A pointless-seeming exercise, maybe, but one on which the future of the book industry could depend. “Discovery” is a buzzword in publishing, uttered with a combination of fervour and terror. The fear is that high-street bookshops and traditional media outlets might one day be swallowed up by the internet, taking with them vital channels for finding books. The excitement comes from all the wonderful new opportunities the internet gives for book discovery, and how… to harness them.

Here are my answers to the opening question: (1) Interesting newspaper interview with author, bought book from Amazon. (2) Unread classic stolen from friend’s bookshelf. (3) Reread old favourite after having read (4) a novelist’s memoirs, found browsing in public library. (5) Finally got round to reading old Christmas present.

Not much you can say about that, except that all discoveries were fairly random and none involved me going into a bookshop. It’s impossible to predict how different my answers will be in 10 years’ time (will newspapers and libraries still exist?), but there are plenty of people who think they can influence them.

Follow the link above the read the others according to your interests.