>Kindle or Paperback?

Kindle or Paperback?

That is the question which my digitally inclined friends and I are pondering. So at our home, we have painstakingly collected close to thousand book personal library. The collection is still growing as we speak as each week a new book is added from somewhere. 

These books are stored in nicely built custom wooden book shelves line the walls of our home including bedrooms. Yet, I have even more books in boxes stowed away in storage. Sadly some of them have to remain there till I find time and money to build more custom book shelves to house them.

But now, with Kindle, iPad and other ereaders, the concept of a home library seems quaint, heavy and expensive. I can fit almost all of my books (they take up over 30+ cartons) of them and many more onto a book reader thinner than the Time Magazine that I get delivered each week. Or is it?

I have my dad’s edition of Charles Dickens novels which themselves are over 50 years old. I have Shakespeare in a special hardbound collectors edition to share with friends. And oh, Homer’s Illiad and Newtons books in Great Books Americana edition. But Kindle have them too and they are all free (atleast at the time of writing this).

Suddenly my multi-room, multi-shelf book collection can now be housed inside a magazine size Kindle.

So is Kindle and iPad the future of book reading? 

Hmmm. Something to ponder.

What happens when Apple goes bust or Amazon no longer exists? What happens to my books bought through electronic medium for e-readers? Will they survive the decades ahead in digital form and can I pass them on to the next generation like my dad shared them with us?

Can iPad books be still the thing to read in say 2030? Or will they be dead along with the technology that housed them? I can still read paperbacks that I bought during highschool (1980s era) without any trouble. Will that be true with an iPad?

History of digital world tells us that we wont have a Kindle in 2030. Today’s “in” and “hot” technology will be lost, old fashioned and forgotten by that time. Does anyone remember Newton from Apple? The world’s first handheld PDA that died unceremoniously during Steve Jobs second coming. Does anyone remember a Palm PDA that once controlled 95% of all handheld market? Where is it now? 

And then, we went through the same crazy world with music. The LPs, cassettes, CDs all replaced and rebought in mp3 format. Yes, we all ended up buying again and again the same song after every so many years. And then the same happened with Videos. My Star Wars VHS collection no longer plays on modern players. Heck, I need to buy HD versions again just to keep the movie playable.

Technology changed so fast that we lost information that we were unable to transfer to the next medium. Palm games and content is not necessarily available onan iPhone or Android phone. I do have my Atari (1982) still with me with the original Pacman, Space Invaders and Astroids. But Atari is defunct and those game cartridges are worthless and not playable on the current hardware. 

So the question really is will my books bought today be usable on a hardware 20 years later?

This is a problem and we need a solution. A workable solution.

The book readers from Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble need to agree on a common protocol to share content. The hardware should be independent of where the books were purchased from. In other words, if I buy something from Apple, it should be readable on Apple hardware or even Barnes and Noble or any other reader that uses the same protocol. Currently, a Kindle book is only readable on kindle (be it on ipad, PC or a kindle hardware). But a Kindle book should be readable on iBooks as well. And an ebook from iBooks should be readable on Barnes & Noble Nook.

Without this collaboration, it is difficult for any serious book reader and collector to move to the digital world.

So till then, I will prefer to buy paperbacks for all the great books that I find in the market and will only occasionally purchase ebooks as I want to pass on the library of books to the next generation to enjoy.