Saturday 3 March 2012

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Discussion: Technology and Accessibility of Books

It wasn't too long ago that all books were published in print. I'm not talking extra goodies from authors - which would be found of their websites - but books published by a publisher. There would be physical books. You could go to a shop and buy, or go to the library and borrow. They were available to everyone who wanted them.

Then techology advances and eReaders were invented. And then it was you can go to a shop and buy, go to a library and borrow, or press a few buttons on an online book store and you will instantly have your new story on your eReader! Great stuff! Right?

Well... yes, but also no. For those who didn't have an eReader, they could still buy or borrow the physical book. But what about short stories/novellas? We would normally buy them in a physical anthology, and we can still do that, but there are some that are only available as eBooks. Yes, you can say that there are apps you can download which allows you to read eBooks on your computer, but what about someone like me who likes physical books, who gets headaches if they spend to much time reading on a computer, who doesn't like the actual experience of reading online? Oh, well... tough. Sure, an eReader will probably stop the headaches thing, but it's not a physical book, and they are expensive. I'll come back to that point later. But really, you have to have an eReader or a computer to read certain stories. And not everyone has them. I'm thinking some of the elderly here. Sorry, you people can't read these books.

Then technology advanced further. We now have smart phones. Some smart phones had eReading apps where you can read books on there. Then things were advanced more. You can get apps for reading! World Book Day was on Thursday, and an app was released in the UK for Apple gadgetry. A few years ago, I remember you could buy World Book Day books for about £1, and you could read a short story by one author one way, then you flipped it upside down and you could read another by a different author. Available to everyone! This year? Six short stories were only available to those who had Apple gadgetry. I don't have a iPhone, an iPad or an iPod this app would work with. So I can't read these short stories. I miss out again. There is another app I know of , The World of Richelle Mead app (more info in news post on Monday), where you can get cool content on your phone. Awesome! But they also allow you to buy Mead's YA novels through the app, and through the app, you can read anotations from the author. Again, only if you have an iPhone. How about making things like this to other smart phones? Or, you know, people who don't want to use a gadget to read?

I am not against advancing technology and the publishing industry taking advantage of it. I think that's all awesome! If it's going to make it easier to read or encourage more people to read, it's all good. But not everybody wants to read like this, or is able as these gadgets can be expensive. A lot of people may have a Apple gadget or an eReader, but not everyone is able to afford them. I don't want to get political here, but everyone knows we are in a recession. Times are hard, money is tight. I cannot afford to waste - and it would be waste, because I don't need these things - money on an eReader or an Appe gadget to be able to read. There are other things I need to spend my money on. It annoys me that I have to consider buying an eReader in the first place, just to read some stories I'm currently missing out on, but to know that's not going to happen for a fair while because I can't afford it... that really sucks.

I have always thought of reading as a luxury, one of those amazing things in life that you can't really compare the experience to, but a luxury that was available to anyone who could read and wanted to. Now it seems some aspects of reading are a luxury available only to those who can afford it.

I want to read. Let me.

N.B. I'm not moaning about authors here. I know they don't get much say in things like this, and they're obviously going to be all for getting awesome extras to their readers - I am all for that too. I just don't like how we have to get ahold of it all.

Thoughts, ideas, anything? I'd like to hear your comments!


  1. I think that technology is actually increasing accessibility to books! I think we're extremely fortunate as we live so close to 'real' bookstores and if we want, we can order online from many different retailers, but there's many people in the world who don't have that luxury (or at least, not to the same extent) and who may benefit from the instant-access that e-readers provide.

    I understand your point about the ebook-only novellas though, but then againa if e-readers didn't exist then the novellas would most likely not exist, so you're not really losing out as such!

    I also think publishers are still aiming to provide awesome things that aren't dependant on smart phones and e-readers.

    But I can understand the frustration of not being able to access certain extras.

    1. I can see what you mean, but.. I know that once upon a time, you could buy an anthology of say three or four novellas. They were written and printed. Now, for some, it's only as eBooks. It annoys me that I have to miss out.

      But I guess you're right in that ebooks provide more access to people who are without shops or online stores. It just bugs me a bit.

  2. Oh i had the same feelings as you. I was lucky to have some money last Christmas and i got a "cheap" reader. I still do love printed books though. And i hate how i can't find everything i want at the bookstores.

    As for the Richelle Mead app! Gosh! I was so mad! All this week i see updates about it and i know will never have it! What's with the Apple app? I don't have anything (not even a smartphone)that i can see this app and i'm one of Mead's biggest fan. This is simply unfair.

    I really do hope they find some more ways for all the things you mentioned above. As i know from all my friends, none have the money to spent on phones and apps like that and all of the them prefer printed stories too.

    1. I'm a massive fan of Mead's as well! Although the app has some really cool stuff, you can't get the author notes without buying the books through the app. That in itself annoys me, because I have the books, I don't need them again. Couldn't they sell some kind of print guide? Pfft!

      I have a smart phone at the moment, but I'm thinking of changing after my contract runs out to a phone that isn't smart for various reasons. Then I'll be just like you, and it's just unfair that people who don't have the phones are having to go without.

      Print is best! At least in my opinion.

    2. I'm in the same position about eReaders, I don't get on very well with reading from a screen so not sure how well I would cope with one.

      I do think it's great though that this new technology is opening up reading to more people but it's a shame when it's chosen as the only method for delivering short stories!

    3. That's exactly it! It should be an alternative form of reading where we can choose. It's unfair to make short stories/novellas available only to those who have an eReader. There's no choice there.

  3. I have a kindle. I also have an iPhone and I'm typing this review on my iPad. I'm lucky, I know this, but it still bugged me when I downloaded the WBD app and found that you cant buy those short stories in person. I have the noughts and crosses series in book form and I want to add Calum to my collection but can't as it's on my phone. It might sound stupid me complaining as at least I can read it but I don't see why the books they've put on the app aren't also available in physical formats!

    1. That's another brilliant post. Collections together on a shelf look good, an some people want that. So it may be easier to read on an eReader, but some people like reading a book, and sticking it on a shelf with the others because a full bookcase is just so nice to look at! We should be able to add certain stories to our bookcases if that's what we want to do.