eBooks in a digital Utopia

Mitch Ratcliffe on the ZDNet blog highlights some of the initial problems many see with nascent ebooks. He ties the lack of a standard accepted digital format (with ePub on the horizon, but not yet applied) and current limitations caused by mentally clinging to the idea of a “copy,” to what I see as the worst limitation of current ebooks and even ejournals—their isolation. Digital books, especially non-fiction, should be more than static copies of their paper counterparts. Yes, hyperlinks can interrupt and even stop a reader, because they require more-than-mental action, and he rightly sees that formatting as pitstops on the way to a better entity. I know I’m stepping on hallowed ground as a lover of paper books, but imagine a properly placed, embedded music file in a book like Poetry and Violence, or even hyperlinks placed in The Lincoln-Douglas Debates bringing one to appropriate points in the editor’s video discussions of the debates, appearing, if one wished, in the margins . . . that is what I hope to eventually experience from a book.

Thanks to LISNews for pointing to Mitch’s post.