What I Like About eBooks by Michael Hart

by Michael Hart on December 6, 2009

About eBooks by Michael Hart

One of those things I like best about eBooks is giving them away.

Not just giving them away, but how easy it is to give them away–and how many you can give away with such little effort.

Another wonderful thing about eBooks is that you can correct what you find in error, or just make changes in how YOU think an eBook should look for you and then whenever you give them away everyone you give them to will have the same improved copies.

Of course, you can also send in Project Gutenberg error reports–and we will gladly check these against various edition, and these will be fixed for the rest of the history of that eBook.

One of my personal favorite things about eBooks is how easy it is to find your way around in them; even a three word phrase such as “not to be” only appears twice in Hamlet, so telling everyone how to find a certain place in an eBook is much easier than on paper, as giving the page number in a paper book only takes you within a thousand or two thousand characters of where you want to go. The idea of giving someone just a three word phrase to find the exact location is something that works incredibly better, and, as those examples in Hamlet demonstrate, if you get another identical word combination, just hit the search key again, much easier than scan and scan to find the phrase on any given page.

Quoting eBooks is also quick and easy, and of course accurate for eBooks in comparison to paper books. Gone are the stacks, stacks and stacks of 3×5 index cards or notebooks full of quotations and the labor of writing each one out longhand. Gone is is the quote you wanted to use and just can’t find, even though you remember a card you laboriously wrote it down on. And, thankfully, gone are the errors you made in the quotations, the ones marked in red and made you wonder how your instructor knew the quotes so well as to nail you for leaving out that comma.

Footnoting those quotations is trivial with most word processors, as are indices, bibliographies, concordances, etc.

Cost is a huge factor, too, as most of the eBooks in the world of research papers, particularly in literature classes, are free, as are millions of other eBooks.

Yes, there still is The Digital Divide, but for those willing and and able to use their cellphones, many of the functions of eBooks are available to the vast majority of the world with cellphones–about 4.5 billion by the end of 2009.

The Least

The thing I perhaps like least about eBooks is how many people in the world think it is my job to make eBooks come out exactly that way they think is the best in the world, and constantly harass me to change to this format or that one as the only, or primary, one of all the formats in the world.

Sorry, CONTENT is what Project Gutenberg provides but not FORMAT, FORM, FORMALITY, etc.

Let’s face it, but when even the plainest of plain text eBooks is created, 99% of the work of re-creating it into another format is already done, all YOU have to do is change 1% and you can have it any other way you want it. On top of this, there are many format conversion programs out there that will do most of this for you.

It’s funny how something that has already done 99% of the labor’s time and effort can be so vilified for not doing the other 1%.

I suppose these people also feel that mass-produced clothing that they buy should be made their own exact fittings, along with cars and every other product.

Not to mention, of course, that this product is free of charge.

Yes, there are those who insist that we vacillate between formats as quickly as a new set of them come out: insisting that we join with some new effort by The Billionaire Boys club, then dropping, like a hot potato, that format in favor of another one. Some are even insisting that we do ALL formats.

Sorry again, but what we provide is CONTENT not FORM.

Anyone is welcome to impose their own FORM on our CONTENT, and we will even help them in the process by publicizing their wish, and asking for volunteers to help them.

However, in the end, it nearly always turns out just the same, as it all comes out as hot air, with none left over to turn wheels a new industry needs to turn to create new products.

I must admit, but sometimes it appears that everyone in the world seems to know how to run Project Gutenberg better than I.

However, then when I offer them the keys to the kingdom to create their own competitive effort, that the effort is not there.

Just more hot air….

All in all, of course, there are many more things about eBooks in general that I like, respect and even love.

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April 5, 2010 at 3:55 pm

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Mr. Hart for you GREAT invention and for Project Gutenberg…who cares about form when content is what we are looking for…besides free access to such wonderful books…GOOD FOR YOU, GOD BLESS!!!!!

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