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How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write

April 22, 2009

Steven Johnson, author of six books, most recently “The Invention of Air,” explores a future with more books, more distractions, and the end of reading alone:

The economics of digital books will likely change the conventions of reading and writing as well. Digital distribution makes it a simple matter to offer prospective buyers a “free sample” to entice them to purchase the whole thing. Many books offered for the Kindle, for instance, allow readers to download the first chapter free of charge. The “free sample” component of a book will become as conventional as jacket-flap copy and blurbs; authors will devise a host of stylistic and commercial techniques in crafting these giveaway sections, just as Dickens mastered the cliffhanger device almost two centuries before.

Skeptics may ask why anyone would pay for something that was elsewhere available at no charge, but that’s precisely what they said when Steve Jobs launched the iTunes Music Store, competing with the free offerings on Napster. We’ve seen how that turned out. If the Kindle payment architecture takes off, it may ultimately lead the way toward the standardized micropayment system whose nonexistence has caused so much turmoil in the news business — a system many people wish had been built into the Web’s original architecture, along with those standardized page locations.

The original article is available here.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 29, 2009 2:22 pm

    I kinda wish you’d have a link to a simplified version of your posts. I enjoy reading your blogs, but it seems like every post there’s at least one moment where I’m scratching my head and thinking, “What?”

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