Where I come from, the future of the digital book just has to be the Web-based, software-as-a-service (SAAS) “cloud,” [UPDATE: which Google has been pitching hard to publishers at this week’s Book Expo America trade show in NYC], as opposed to readers’ selecting and investing in a particular device, by which they may then purchase from the purveyor of that device, and only from that purveyor, the contents of a book, which they can then store and read on that device, and only on that device.
The Amazon Kindle process just seems to fly in the face of everything that’s going on in digital information technology, user experience, and the marketing, selling, and consumption of culture. [UPDATE: Because this piece is truncated, I’ll continue it in another post, including my questions about Google’s possible attempt to “own” the cloud and problems with SAAS in general — and meanwhile please consider the interesting pro-Kindle comment below.]
Hm. I “published” by accident, before finishing it. More on this soon — but for now, yes, this is what I’m really saying. I just also have a bunch of concerns about SAAS and about Google’s ambitions.
As long as Amazon is willing to provide free readers on most devices, a Kindle book can be read virtually everywhere; except perhaps on a Nook or other dedicated reading device. I don’t see this as substantially different from reading a Google Book from the cloud. In fact, at the moment, it is a much better reading experience. Google Books are scans, and not always particularly good ones. Kindle readers allow me to highlight and make notes, which are then available (or will be soon) on any other device on which I happen to have a Kindle reader installed. I don’t think that I can yet do anything close to that with a Google Book.