Jan 10 2014

Ebooks Are to Printed Books as Airplanes Are to Bicycles

“Kevin Kelly is not a dumb guy — far from it actually. As the founding executive editor of Wired and one of the people who helped build The Well, among the earliest online communities, he has done a good job of seeing what is coming next for decades.

But last year, he had what sounded to me like a dumb idea. Mr. Kelly edits and owns Cool Tools, a website that writes about neat stuff and makes small money off referral revenue from Amazon when people proceed to buy some of those things. He decided to edit the thousands of reviews that had accrued over the last 10 years into a self-published print catalog — also called “Cool Tools” — which he would then sell for $39.99 …”  [Read the rest of "Print Settles into Its Niches" at The New York Times.]

The whole article is worth reading, but I’m not sure why it surprises people so much, even considering the book’s subject matter.  The printed book is a pretty remarkable device:  cheap, portable, disposable if need be, and human-powered.  On top of that, they often have great aesthetic value.  Ebooks are great.  I love them.  But they’re just another mode of conveying information.  The Wright Brothers, who made their early mark manufacturing bicycles, may have launched the greatest technology disrupter of all time with the airplane, but bicycles didn’t go away.  Sometimes a bicycle is just a better way to get around.

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