Why must ebooks be so complicated? Sharing Joe Wikert’s hopes&wishes for 2016
January 4, 2016 by ruediger

Instead of making predictions about publishing in 2016, Joe Wikert, the wise man, opts for formulating what he wishes to happen. And so in a very hands on way. I (almost) fully share his hopes!

Aside from the obvious (“less DRM“), the well intended (making it easier for publishers to directly interact with their readers, and consumers (which gets so much easier, once DRM is skipped), and the fancy (“new sustainable unlimited ebook subscriptions” – here I am more doubtful, yet acknowledge Joe’s background with O’Reilly’s pioneering “Safari” service), I am all enthusiastic for his last wish: “Better notes and annotations, outside the book“.

If you read for work, for education or simply for fun, chances are high that you have our little scheme of annotating (and sharing) what you read. Some use those bright marker pens, which others despise, and instead use a tiny pencil to underline, or comment. Personally, I discreetly underline, with a pencil, then annotate, or simply make a reference at the blank pages that can be found at the end of almost any book. So even many years later, I can find what had preoccupied my mind when reading a work.

Not so with ebooks. With digital reading being still in its very early days (yes!), chances are high that, since my initial reading of a book, I have moved on to a new reading gadget and software – so that my notes are all gone.

Is anyone surprised why college or university students rather opt for paper? Disregarding that they consume any other content digitally, and in usages that are integrated with their social networks and friends?

Given that oddity, is anyone still wondering why ebooks currently have  such a hard time to reach audiences beyond those early adopters, and the strongest readers of (fast) fiction?

How many of us have, in the meantime, opted for, and integrated into their information and exchange routines something like Evernote (or any other platform to organize thoughts, todo lists, shopping lists, references to music and movies one would want to consume. Yet this is not available for digital books.

Saving and sharing has become so seamless for almost anything – including reading, done on the web (with Instapaper, or GetPocket). Though not for reading a book.

Hence my simple question, together with Joe Wikert: Why must ebooks be so complicated? I just don’t know.

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