Is the future bright? Books, Digitisation and Evil!
by Eoin Purcell
Heat & Noise
Richard Charkin is a great blogger and he is at the helm of a fine company. He is anti-recent developments in the book world however. Or perhaps to reflect his views more accurately he fears the encroachment of Google.
I cannot blame him. His business is built on the exploitation of content. More specifically the exploitation of book content. That is why this post on the recent Kevin Kelly Article which was blogged about here was negative. The profitable control of much of the content most publishers rely upon may be moving into the hands of a competitor. It is definitely a corporate concern.
The truth is that Charkin has no issue with the type of changes Jarvis advocates so long as his company was positioned to take advantage of them. Indeed he is happy enough to see digitisation and e-book and any technology that works in his favour. Indeed he blogs in favour of these moves too.
What is the point of this post?
Simply this. There is a trend of argument that says the digital revolution will open the doors, remove gate keepers, release knowledge onto the world and basically make everything considerably more free. Jeff Jarvis with his almost messianic demand for these developments is to my mind the champion of this outcome.
There is however a quieter counter-revolution being fought even more intensely by established players in markets that digitisation is opening up. That battle is for the prime position and control of these new delivery systems just as iTunes has secured Apple the near monopoly (at least in consciousness terms) of Music Downloads and Google did with search.
These more subtle warriors are fighting to retain the power of their “old media” firms and the truth is that they are no more evil than the new entrants. Why should we allow Google or Amazon to control our access to digitised books rather than say, MacMillan or HarperCollins? Why any of them?
The truth then is that much of the heat on the war about Google Book Search, Copyright and digitisation is design to cover the fact that both sides are fighting to control your spending five, ten and fifteen years from now. Neither side really doubts the technology they just want to control it.
If we are lucky they may tie and offer us a range of options. If one side wins we may face the threat of a limited source with almost monopolistic control of certain markets.