Sunday, March 14, 2010

The end of books?

Electronic books, or “e-books” have been around for 40 years, without posing much of a threat to printed books.
But with the growing popularity of dedicated e-book readers like the Amazon Kindle, and the buzz surrounding Apple’s enigmatic iPad, one wonders if that will ensure e-books appeal amid Blackberry-hungry Indonesians, and thus the tragic death of the traditional publishing.
While all kinds of e-books are freely available via the Internet, official e-book content in Indonesia remains limited. That could change dramatically within the next two years, as Kompas-Gramedia, the country’s largest media conglomerate, is formulating its digital content strategy.
“We are developing Kompas Gramedia Digital. We are focusing on developing e-book content, not a gadget,” says Rio Eka Putra, head of IT & Research at Gramedia, adding they were open to creating content for both the Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad.
Rio describes Gramedia’s approach as a “wait-and-see” one, as the technology is “so new”, and there remain many questions associated with widespread digital content, especially preventing piracy and getting authors on board.
“We are trying to explain to the writers about e-publishing, some still don’t understand what it is, what their rights are,” says Anastasia Mustika, fiction editor at PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama.
Young adult author Andrei Aksana, who agrees to his content being digitized, says “e-books are the future of reading” due to convenience and environmental benefits.
“There are now around 30 million Internet users in Indonesia if I’m not mistaken ... and the numbers are growing very quickly, after India and China. So, e-books have enormous potential. E-books mean we can read any time, anywhere [with internet-ready devices] such as Blackberry, iPhone, although it’s a pity these [devices] are mostly only enjoyed by the middle class.”
Clara Ng, author of the MetroPop series and children’s story books, also accepts digitisation, as it would allow more to access her books.

Full report here The Jakarta Post

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