Over the weekend just gone I had the most amazing opportunity to attend the 8th London Barcamp. For those not in the know a Barcamp is a unconfrence where everyone who attends presents. For further explanation best to look at wikipedia really. Good, your back? So on with today’s topic. The future (or even the present) of reading digitally.
The connection between the topic of the post and the Barcamp is a little loose, while at the Barcamp I took part in a session on the future of ebooks. It was very interesting and it got me thinking about how I consume books and their content. During the session I proposed my idea for a system whereby you can purchase books digitally you own ‘forever’ but can hire a cheap printed copy or borrow the audiobook when you need it for a low fee. The general idea was that you owned access to the knowledge not necessarily the format in which it was delivered.
While at Barcamp I also had a chance to play with a kinda and a nook, I won’t walk about them much now but I can see one of them in my future…. Maybe.
Anyone who knows me well (or has shared a bed / bedroom / long nap with me) knows I have a thing for audiobooks. While reading is not something I find hard per sea, I do somewhat struggle to imagine myself into the world of a book and find it easier to do so when listening to an audiobook (eyes closed wrapped around a lion). So this has led to me having a couple hours of one of my favorite audiobooks every night before sleeping.
I don’t own many audiobooks (about 6) but only ever listen to 4 of them often (making money, going postal, a short history of nearly everything, mort and unseen achdemicals). I know these books inside out I know the story’s the characters and I know what to expect. I also know the style and the wit. So when bill Bryson who wrote a short history of nearly everything popped back up with a new book I was quite excited.
I’m not quite the type who can walk into a bookstore bravely walk up to a fresh new book and peel it asunder for a quick read before purchasing. Apart from feeling like I have stolen something it feels unnatural and ‘out of place’ I don’t normally read in shops I read in bed! So unless they fancy moving my bed to the shop or the shop to my bed I’m going to struggle. For the kindle they did the latter.
On my iPad I have both the iBooks application and the kindle application. So far I prefer the kindle app but iBooks is not bad, i like how kindle gives you nothing but text, removing distractions such as the time.
After my Barcamp experience I made sure to go and download myself the free chapter of ‘things at home’. I read it from end to end and when amazon so kindly offered me the link to the store I jumped at it.
On landing on the store page and looking at my options I was surprised by a few things. First the ebook was not much cheaper than the paperback, second there was both an abridged and unabrided audiobook version and finally I could get the audiobook as a drm laden download, or as a box of CDs from the BBC.
After looking at my options I ended up going with the box of CDs. I paid a little more than I would have for the audio download (about £2 more) and little more than the paperback (£4) and a little more than the ebook version (£5).
I have a few reasons for why I discounted each option. The paperback I discounted as I know I don’t really like them, the ebook I discounted on price and DRM accounts, the audio download for the same reason as the ebook and that left me with the box of CDs.
I hope to one day pass my books onto someone else, the box of CDs is something physical it can sit on my shelf and make me feel comfortable. Using the wonderful audiobook builder.app on my Mac I can sit down for an afternoon and build my new books. As it happens that feeling of excitement, nay, expectation as I pick the cover art I want and get the building going make up for more than the price difference alone.