May 01, 2007



I'll wait for the Times to put out the CD so I can double-check, but I honestly don't remember having to "backpedal" from anything like that position. I recall the question being specifically about distributing books online for use on electronic devices, and made roughly the point you describe--downloading MP3s has become nearly ubiquitous because the sound quality is, for most users with most speakers/headphones, not appreciably different than CD quality. The technology for reading an e-book as opposed to the printed page simply isn't there yet, and until it is, the e-book market isn't going to hit a tipping point.

shauna mckenna

Fair enough! I was somewhat disappointed by the silence in both panels on the topic of the literary content that is produced online everyday, which probably colored my reaction to your response in the Q&A. I was relieved to hear you giving credit to the writers and editors who are as much invested in that production as bloggers are invested in their literary criticism. I remember the question as being about literary content in general, but I'll readily admit my bias may have done me wrong.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable conversation to watch, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to see it. Thanks to all of you.

tod goldberg

Thanks for providing a summary for the folks who couldn't attend to see all four of us sweating through our clothes...

I second Ron's response -- the original question was about a content provider like eMusic rising for books and I think I then asked the audience how many of them had ever read an eBook, the only hand belonging to a man in a brown shirt in the front. There is certainly a ton of literary content online now -- online journals like Smokelong Quarterly, for instance -- but there just isn't an online book market yet apart from those who've self published their novels online.

shauna mckenna

I raised my hand! (Because I really did think she said "content.") I was also feverishly taking notes, and there was a delay. Did you guys see me? I was the one close to the front giving everyone the Larry David "I've got your number, you" eye.

I agree with everyone when they say that e-books are not in the same position as e-music, yet, but there's a heavy emphasis on the inevitability of that statement. One day in the not too distant future, we're going to have to have the conversation about whether people who are publishing and distributing books for free are creating a flattened literature, and whether that's a bad thing. We might as well consider the content already out there as the vanguard of that phenomenon, and discuss it in that light.

Ron Hogan

Oh, absolutely--and in the science fiction wing of the publishing industry, that conversation is well underway.

I did see you--I really wish I'd had more opportunity to talk with some of the audience members afterwards, although I was especially glad that I got to chat with the young minister who didn't really get a chance to elaborate her question as fully as she should have during the very end. What Katherine and her blog-ring are doing is an excellent example of the type of community that Carolyn was talking about in response to Andrew's repeated insistence on the profit motive.






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