Writers and Readers Should Demand Open E-Reading Devices and Software

The op-ed page of TheWall Street Journal on January 7 had a piece by Holman W. Jenkins,Jr.,titled“Game Over for BlackBerry?” Jenkins speculated

“The marketmay soon become welcoming to manufacturers making a multitude of gadgets for amultiplicity of tastes and preferences without requiring users to forgomembership in the Apple or Android clouds or both.”

The point of his piece was thattoday’s market requires that we make choices in technology between varioushardware items and software items, some of which work with each other and someof which don’t. He conjectured that the movement toward cloud computing couldultimately make hardware and software differences meaningless –in the future hehoped we would be able to choose whatever device we want to use to get our datawherever we are, using whatever software we want. He posited there could be “acoming breakdown in the walls between ecosystems.”

As an author, when I read thispiece I immediately wondered whether the current differences between Kindle andNook and other e-readers will disappear in the future. Will I be able topublish my writing in whatever electronic format I want, and will readers beable to access it on any e-reading device they want? If so, that is apublishing world I want to be a part of.

Books should be accessible to asmany people as possible. Technology around the written word –from the GutenbergBible forward – has been designed to make books (and the thoughts contained inthem) accessible to the masses. The next phase of e-publishing needs to be thedevelopment of an open format that all e-readers can use. Just like Word hasbecome a default word processing format that all word processing programs mustbe able to handle (even if WordPerfect was better).

When will this brave new world ofe-publishing reach us?


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