Tuesday, March 30, 2010

eBooks: the new Betamax/VHS disruptive technology?

An entry over at Small Stories compares eBooks to the dawning days of home video, back when Betamax/VHS were all the rage. An excerpt:

There's a fascinating podcast at Beyond the Book with William Patry where he talks about the massive moral hysteria against Betamax and VHS video recording technology when it first appeared. The television networks were terrified that people would record TV programs to FAST FORWARD through the adverts, thus making their advertising business model unworkable.

The film business used home video recorders as a scapegoat when their core profits were increasingly generated by home film rental rather than theatrical sales and were taking a hits from pirated videos - but they completely forgot to add that no one expected such a huge market from home video rentals which as a market had never even existed before - and only came about through video recording technology.

It's amazing how many of these fears and arguments have resurfaced with eBooks - without paper books we will lose our culture, paper books are 'natural', people prefer paper books, ebooks will destroy the publishing business, they're not 'real' books, the quality will suffer ... think about the whole hype against the video 'nasty' and the fear about the corrupting moral effects of computer games.

I'm pretty confident that ebook technology will create new markets that we haven't grasped yet ... new markets much like the video store rental service (instead of having to go to a film theatre) - home entertainment was a revolutionary concept in its time.

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