An electronic book exists in an infinite number of copies; there is no original. The Aleppo Codex, on the other hand, existed only in its original 500-page manuscript. There were no copies at all, and for this reason its physical safety was always paramount.
Book publishing as we know it is dying. Publishers don't want to recognize this reality, because they can't imagine what else they'll do for a living once their companies collapse. But collapse they will, and here's why.
To the surprise of many readers, public library e-book "shelves" now sport gaping holes. The Witness by Nora Roberts? Unseen. The Lost Years by Mary Higgins Clark? Missing. Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs? DOA.
It may be time for the media that covers the book business to stop publishing best seller lists. They are, in today's book choosing environment, disorienting, unhelpful and confusing, a valiant but failed attempt to make sense out of disorder.
Most Internet memes have the shelf life of a banana, and trying to capture these memes in traditional forms like publishing or television is often an exercise in "too little, too late, no one cares anymore."
The trouble is that in too many cities and towns, we no longer have a village square except in the form of enclosed spaces owned by profit-seeking corporations. What happened to that protester said a lot more about our privatized idea of community than it does about that one particular incident.
The DoJ lawsuit might make things more difficult for those who have based their business models on paper books, but it could well be a boon to smaller publishers, authors, and--most importantly of all--readers.
It's not possible for Amazon to both (1) sell e-books at a loss in order to reap big profits on Kindle devices, and (2) sell Kindles at a loss to reap big profits on e-books. It may be doing 1 or it may be doing 2, but it can't be doing both at the same time.
The fact is the digital train has already long left the station and we, those of us who call ourselves writers and artists, have an obligation to get on board so we might impact the nature of the trip.