Great read, have been thinking a lot about this. I am currently writing a Kindle Single for Amazon’s Little A. When I signed on for this project, I was not a Kindle owner and had not read extensively on a Kindle before. I do most of my writing for the internet, and when I do it I think a great deal about how the content fills its online container (will it be shared, how, how text looks on an infinite scrolling page, embedded inline media, links, etc.). In discussing my Kindle Single with my editor at Amazon, there seemed to be very little concern about how Kindle or the ebook as a container differed from a book or an article online. To me it seemed impossible that I’d be able to write something that made sense on a device I’d never used.
They eventually sent me a Kindle (which I am now using A LOT), but my point here is to say that I feel like much of the discussion about ebooks has been hindered by the precedent of print books. Feel like we’re still trying to convince people that ebooks can function as well as a book, but in all honestly I don’t think someone who explicitly prefers a print book is ever going to be fooled or satisfied by an ebook if it’s presented as an alternative. I love ebooks and think they have a huge imaginative potential in terms of form that isn’t being exploited. We need to start advertising what ebooks can do that print books can’t. It’s not either/or or a phasing out process. Someone who listens to music in headphones doesn’t refuse to listen to music out loud or in the car. The strategy of trying to preserve the sacredness of “books” in designing ebooks seems to me like it is setting a kind of low bar and holding the potential of the form back a lot.
I’m rambling a little, but I have a lot of personal stake in this right now. Excited to read more of your long, loopy conversation.