Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's The End Of E-Books As We Know Them! (Oh, Wait...You Weren't Aware Of Them Yet? Nevermind, Then. Skip To The Next Post)

Walk into almost any bookstore around the world and bring up the subject of E-books -- handheld digital devices that you can download complete books into for unlimited perusal -- and you're sure to get a promotional bookmark slashed lengthwise across your neck. While there are a million and one reasons why we refuse to believe that E-books will ever truly take off with the public ('people want to feel the sensation of turning the pages' is a tried and true stand-by), there is really only one reason we do not want them to: it threatens our livelihoods. With online bookstores already pounding nail after nail into the coffins of traditional brick & mortar shops, this new-fangled machinery only looks to make things worse.
That said, the damn things fascinate me in a morbid, know-in-advance-how-you're-going-to-eventually-die sort of way. I mean, it would be undoubtedly cool to have a library of your favorite books all in one small device, in much the same way that the ipod serves as a personal, portable juke-box (shout outs to all the struggling indie record stores -- we feel your pain, brothers!). Ah, but at what cost? I already step over the sleeping bodies of far too many former booksellers on the way to work every morning. One has to wonder, do the mad scientists behind these cold, unfeeling digital book machines have any moral code that they answer to?
Antonio Tombolini, an Italian internet entrepreneur, recently focused his evil genius on perfecting E-books. In an interview with Master New Media, he discusses the problems with previous attempts, as well as the advances he has been making in what he sinisterly calls, "reading devices." Booksellers can take some small solace in the fact that Tombolini wears what looks to be an orange, state prison jumpsuit in the video interview portions. If we're lucky, he won't be able to enact his plan for bookstore domination until his sentence is complete.