The Best Book Is the One That’s Always with You

This was Jason Kottke’s quote in his roundup of Amazon and Microsoft’s holiday offerings. In short, it articulates perfectly the “good enough revolution” as coined by Wired last year: during a technological sea change, users’ values change with respect to the application of that technology. I.e. what we lose in audio fidelity with mp3s (versus CDs) is offset, happily, by instant and ubiquitous access.

So the question I’ve been thinking about it, What will the new values be for ebook reading?

Kottke seems to hit on this with Amazon’s cloud-based and device-agnostic approach:

“I never would have predicted it, but I am a firm convert to Kindle books…and I don’t even have a Kindle. The killer feature here is Amazon’s multi-platform support. I *love* reading books on the iPad at home but when I’m out and about, if I’ve got my iPhone in my pocket, I can read a book. The best book is the one that’s always with you.” -Jason Kottke

This quote will stay with me. At the risk of sounding naïve, it sheds light on an advantage to ebooks that’s not often discussed: you can take books everywhere. If you’re a mass market or trade paperback reader with a purse, this isn’t that revelatory. But if you’re like me, you leave books at home when going out on the weekend. Bars and restaurants are simply not conducive to schlepping books. In fact, I hate carrying anything when I go out. (I’m trying to figure out how I can combine my driver’s license, Visa, and subway card into one.)

Too often I’ve thought of ebooks as a complement to the print industry. But when I hear use cases like Kottke’s, it points to a new kind of reading experience, a greater engagement with books in one’s daily life. Again, I’m sure this has been obvious to others for a long time. I guess this was finally my lightbulb moment.

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1 Comment

Filed under ebooks

One response to “The Best Book Is the One That’s Always with You

  1. It’s a subtle but important distinction, that in some interesting ways puts the emphasis back on the “book” instead of the device, and hopefully shifts publishers’ focus from the container to the stories and ideas they contain.

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