Sunday, March 22, 2009

Out of Print ... No Problem.!!

For the past week, I have been reading Interviews With History by Oriana Fallaci. she is very well informed. As a result, her interviews deepen the reader's understanding of the subjects she covers.

Another writer who I enjoy is Farley Mowat. He is a Canadian writer who covers the Canadian people and wilderness. His book "A Whale For the Killing" weaves the story of a whale trapped in a cove with the story of the village near which he was trapped. Reading it was like reading two books at the same town.

Why do I mention two very different books in two opening paragraphs? Both books are out of print. And both should in my opinion have been reprinted many times more than they have been.

Unfortunately, we are now in a recession. No one wants to reprint a book, only to have it languish like Al Gore's discredited book on global warming. But there is a solution. Kindle2 from Amazon is out, enabling readers to carry a huge library in a purse or knapsack. The problem is that it is overpriced. I am hoping that Kindle2 knockoffs will hopefully drive the price down. The idea of a digital book is like a new vehicle on the information superhighway.

But in order for this technology to take off you need roads and destinations. My proposals are as follows.

1) All publishing houses should digitise their entire archives. I have taken digital books out of the library. I took a "Gitangeli" out of a site called and read it on a palm pilot.
2) There should be a network of kiosks and digital bookstores that are connected to retailers of new and used books. A person should be able to pay a monthly fee to get into a digital library. Fees could slide depending on how many books are downloaded a month. Digital libraries already have timers built into the books that give a reader two or three weeks to finish a book.
3) The big question in the new age of publishing is how to turn a profit. There could be ad free subscription based service and advertiser subsidised library service.
4) Unfortunately, the biggest experts in making a buck on selling reader and viewer content are the porn merchants. While rejecting their content, the technology through which they collect money could be worth studying for purveyors of non pornographic entertainment.
5) Quality and intellectual honesty still matter. You can now trade one pack of Marlboro for a bit more than two shares of New york Times common stock. Seventy fife years after Walter Duranty whitewashed the Ukrainian genocide , the pigeons are finally coming home to roost on the New York Times corporate headquarters, and they don't heven have enough money to clean up the mess. Great journalists like George Orwell and Malcolm Muggeridge had their opinions. But they marshaled facts to support their point of view. The New York Times, The Washington Post and others suppress information to make their point of view appealing. People want more information, not less. Eventually everyone wants to weigh the facts themselves. No one wants to be treated like children. Some products deserve to fail, such as polyester suits, pet rocks and the New York Times.

There will always be a place for books, magazines and newspapers. I like bookstores and newsstands. I like talking to merchants about merchandise in front of us. Technology has developed faster than our ability to realise its potential. When I shop locally, I always tell the manager what I want that he doesn't have. The places I go back to listen to what I say and occasionally follow my advice. I am just a small voice in the digital wilderness. I hope that someone out there is listening to what I want who has the technical knowledge to make it happen. Technology could play a great role in educating and entertaining us in ways that make us all better informed. A lot of us working together can make this happen. Let's do it.

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