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12/08/2010 If you can't lend an e-book, is it still a book?


Ever since I purchased my iPad in June, I’ve been reading more literature (as opposed to business books) than I have in years. I have iBooks and a Kindle reader on my iPad. When I was headed out on a vacation this summer, I realized I didn’t have a good book with me, and it was too late to go to the bookstore. It was only then that I realized that I had, not one, but two amazing book stores with me.

That started me on a book-buying binge that’s continued unabated throughout the year. I have to admit that my brain is very happy to take a break from the digital/social/marketing/future/business books that rise like towers of paper cities in my office. Not that there’s anything wrong with these books; many of them are incredibly inspiring. But since we’re in the communications business, shouldn’t we read more stories?

Who am I to say what others should read. All I know is that the novels I’ve read have stimulated more creative ideas than I expected. Reading one of those also makes me sleep and dream better.

There’s just one big, humongous problem with e-books, whether they come from Apple, Amazon or, now, Google. The problem is that it’s impossible to share a book. Actually I think that if you can’t share it, we shouldn’t call it a book.

Many of the best books I’ve read in my life have come from someone else’s library. Friends have not only recommended books, they’ve lent them to me after they’ve finished reading them. When it works, it usually starts a lifelong loyalty to specific authors. 

It stinks that I can’t lend e-books I’ve read to my friends and family. And I’m certainly not lending them my iPad. The only way I’ve seen to do this is to log into my accounts on someone else’s device, which seems overly burdensome.

I understand the copyright and piracy issues. If the big guys can figure this out for music, they need to figure this out for e-books. Until they do, maybe I’ll just call them e-wordcollections.

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