Monday, February 04, 2008

Books -- streamed or downloads

Sara Lloyd at thedigitalist (a Pan/Macmillan blog) picks up on the contrast we drew between services which stream digital books and those which offer downloads (along with Google Book Search, Amazon Search Inside and the Open Content Alliance, Exact Editions is squarely on the streaming side of this divide). So of course, we think that there is a lot to be said for the streaming approach.

For example it has recently occurred to us that as a platform which provides access but does not offer a download, we are in a good position to offer promotional access through WiFi hotspots. Why does the access-streaming solution win over the 'download a file' approach, in WiFi environments? For two main reasons, first because the support issues are minimal and secondly because there is no download to 'walk out' of the WiFi hotspot -- which means that premium content can be given away in a reasonably precise location, and only there. So any magazine publisher or book publisher who likes this market and the project of geosampling should give us a call. If you can see an interesting market through promoting digital print in a WiFi shop window, or alongside one of the big consumer brands that is going for WiFi (think Virgin, McDonalds or Starbucks), then you should email and we will see if we can pop you into the zone, where your stuff can be sampled and tasted.

Reverting to the Macmillan blog, one has to agree with Sara that the traditional eBook mindset often goes with an over-rigid view of what reading is, and a monolithic view of what a book is. If you want to challenge the traditional and monolithic view of what a book is and how it should be read, you must read Pierre Bayard's book How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read. It is a brilliant and deeply wise, funny and subversive book by a Professor of literature at the Sorbonne (and bien sur I have not read it {all{yet}}). The book is short enough to demand no more than half a day of unreading time. And if you decide not to read it, please remember and repeat the Wildean aphorism with which Bayard begins his book -- "one should never read a book that one intends to recommend, it prejudices one so....." (slightly adapted).

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