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Meanland: Regarding the very modern ebook machine thing

Nick Hornby and his booksAt the conclusion of his column in the July/August issue of The Believer, Nick Hornby – a popular novelist with an aptitude for imparting his reading habits – promised: ‘In next month’s exciting episode, I will describe an attempt, not yet begun, to read Our Mutual Friend on a very modern ebook machine thing. It’s the future.’

The future, the one that used to be around the corner but nowadays has converged on the present. Publishers and technologists and corporations predict that the future of reading will be defined by a single portable device (a dedicated eReader or more generalised tablet), similar in size to a printed book, which contains whole libraries of electronic data files known as ebooks. Cory Doctorow joked at his Meanland lecture earlier this month: ‘anytime someone mentions the word “ebook”, everyone crowds closer because they want to make sure the future involves them.’

With the release last week of the Sony Reader – an almost six-year wait for Australian readers – the future does seem to be on the horizon, although antipodeans could be mistaken for thinking it’s trapped in a digital traffic jam. Confusion abounds, especially around issues of Digital Rights Management and how they presently impact eReaders and ebooks in Australia.

In ‘Another mystery: buying e-books overseas’, NYT columnist David Pogue remarked:

It always blows my mind when media companies deliberately prevent us from buying their stuff. When there are certain TV shows you can’t legitimately buy online, in any form. When certain books are unavailable as e-books in any format.

Continue reading at Meanland.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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Jacinda Woodhead is the editor of Overland. Her PhD research examined abortion politics in Australia and nonfiction as political intervention.

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