Ebooks: Neither E, Nor Books
Paper for the O’Reilly Emerging Technologies Conference, 2004
February 12, 2004
San Diego, CA
This talk was initially given at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference [ http://conferences.oreillynet.com/cs/et2004 ], along with a set of slides that, for copyright reasons (ironic!) can’t be released alongside of this file. However, you will find, interspersed in this text, notations describing the places where new slides should be loaded, in [square-brackets].
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For starters, let me try to summarize the lessons and intuitions I’ve had about ebooks from my release of two novels and most of a short story collection online under a Creative Commons license. A parodist who published a list of alternate titles for the presentations at this event called this talk, “eBooks Suck Right Now,” [eBooks suck right now] and as funny as that is, I don’t think it’s true.
No, if I had to come up with another title for this talk, I’d call it: “Ebooks: You’re Soaking in Them.” [Ebooks: You’re Soaking in Them] That’s because I think that the shape of ebooks to come is almost visible in the way that people interact with text today, and that the job of authors who want to become rich and famous is to come to a better understanding of that shape.
I haven’t come to a perfect understanding. I don’t know what the future of the book looks like. But I have ideas, and I’ll share them with you: