I purchased a new iPad about a month ago. It was a bit of a “spur of the moment” thing while I was on a work vacation. I wanted something for email while at a conference but didn’t want to drag a notebook around with me. The release of the new iPad provided a perfect opportunity to make a poor financial decision and I took it. It also helped that I already had an iPod touch (my wife also has an original iPad) and was already moderately invested in the iTunes environment. I have enjoyed the device and have found it to be something I use daily.
One thing I haven’t used much, at least until very recently, is the e-reader functionality. It was something I was looking forward to trying out but I was fairly sure I wasn’t going to enjoy the experience. I have what might be a bit of a hard coded love for the printed page it seems. Today I have to say I was mostly wrong in that assumption with one fairly major exception. I have been reading mostly comic books on the iPad and I have to say they really look great. With a well produced book the art looks fabulous, the text is crystal clear and the colors really pop. I don’t like the glare so much but that isn’t my big problem really. After thinking about it, the problem is not with the material itself but it is with being able to share a book with another reader. Personally I think this is a huge issue and will really impact publishing. Digital is already doing major damages to newspapers, magazines, comics, and regular print books but in my opinion there is even a bigger danger in taking the inability to share away from consumers.
When I talk about this I am not talking about someone who just downloads “scanned” copies of books for free off of any number of nefarious and underground sites. I don’t condone this kind of behavior and I really want to see artists paid for their work. I do think, however, that there is a type of sharing that is perfectly acceptable and that occurs when you want someone to read something that they would not normally read on their own.
For example, have you ever read something that was so good or you felt so passionately about that you just had to share it with someone? I have done this will books and comics on many occasions because I wanted another person to fall in love with the story, characters, or author like I did. When working well this kind of sharing leads to the other person being a future customer of similar work from the creator. If I am reading everything in digital I can never share these things with others. I will never be able to turn someone on to Stephen King or The Walking Dead like I have done in the past. In digital, those future sales will never occur because I won’t be making the same kinds of future fans.
I think there is more to this that I haven’t thought about but the short of it is that it will be that much harder for creators to get their work in front of people that might become fans. I am interested on how this will play out and going forward but I worry that it is going to be just that much harder for new artists to reach a wide audience. It’s funny to think that considering how easy it is and will be to distribute the work. Will be able to find the stuff worth experiencing when the abundance of noise drowns everything out?