On 24/05/2013 15:27, Anderson, William wrote:
Other issues: there are still a lot of folks who don’t even own computers – check out the lines at your local public library.
Yes, Connecticut is probably a particularly stark example of this. Reputation with some justification of being a rather affluent state, but with a rather large low income population. This gets into the bitterly political, but my personal impression is that we “warehouse” our lower income into the cities (Hartford, New Haven and even Bridgeport on the “gold coast” of Fairfield County among others) ringed with affluent suburbs. Comparatively rural eastern Connecticut has some poor areas too. There is certain right under your nose invisibility to this sort of problem.
There is a real problem with this idea, I think. While I like paper (my apartment is absolutely crammed full of books), the prices of computers continue to come down and as people begin to understand what is available to them, the price becomes even cheaper because the computer can take the place of other items in the household, plus if you want a new job or something, you absolutely need email and so on, people will have the technology. As one example, my wife and I decided to drop our satellite TV service (which had gotten very bad anyway) and use only the internet now. We get everything we want and more, while saving quite a bit of money. Smartphones and tablets are getting cheaper and if someone needs it, there are multiple places for free wifi. These devices don’t use much energy either. http://lifehacker.com/5948075/how-much-energy-a-smartphone-uses-in-a-year-and-what-it-means-for-your-budget
There is a “bookless” library in Texas opening http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22160990. This one will have 100 e-readers available to people. But what gets to me is that they say they offer 10,000 titles for ebooks. I see this as unfair to the public because what is really available to them are all the vast riches of ebooks in the Internet Archive, Project Gutenberg, Google Books–mostly older books, although there are newer ones there too–but there are also lots of newer, even brand new, books available as well, published openly, on all topics. And yes, these are good books published by the Rand Corporation or the United Nations or whatever. So when they claim 10,000 titles, that is probably only what is available through their catalog that the library pays to Overdrive or some agency. But I have found that many times, many of those books are available for free (the poems of Emily Dickinson or the stories of Mark Twain). Yet 10,000 is literally a drop in the ocean. There are millions and millions of ebooks available right now, today. I don’t think most people realize that.
Agreed, these are mostly not the popular fiction that many want.
But that too will have to change. The publishers cannot hold things up forever and will eventually have to give people what they want in supplying more and more digital books at much more reasonable prices than they do now. Authors will want people to have that option too. There is Amazon Prime where for $79 a year, you get streaming videos, you get to download a book a month. That’s pretty reasonable. I could imagine that with a few changes, some municipalities would even consider something like this if they could make a deal. Scary thought!
So, it wouldn’t surprise me that if people knew what was really available to them over the web, municipalities and businesses could find ways of ensuring that everyone had a machine and access to the web. That would pay off in a lot of ways.