19 February 2009

Books as objects

Jeff Jarvis holds his hands up to accusations of hypocrisy for publishing What Would Google Do as a conventional book. His defenders remind us that most of the book's content has also appeared for free on Jarvis's blog. Jarvis defends himself along the lines of "a dog has to eat."

But it's not just a financial thing. However influential Jarvis's blog has become, a book does many things a blog doesn't (yet): it tells us a publisher is prepared to invest in the author; it allows us relaxed reading in almost any context (without battery power); we can annotate it; we can display it, to say something about us; we can pass it on as a gift to friends. These long-established practicalities and values don't yet translate to Jarvis's new Google world.

As an aside Jarvis comments that he wishes a reader could buy the book in all media (paper, e-book, iPhone) all with one fee. Absolutely! And purpose designed in each medium, too, please.

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