Choosing Electronic Information Transmission -
For The Good Of All
A Sequence Of Events ...
At 23.07 a lady by the name of Mary from Guam, USA, places an order for an ebook with the UK Publisher, Dragon Rising.
At 23.08, the transaction is approved by the online payment processor.
At 23.09, the customer is informed of the success of their transaction.
At 23.11, the customer starts to download their ebook.
At 23.17, the customer service department of the publisher receive an email. "Just started to read your new book and wanted to tell you - I LOVE IT! I'm really excited and just wanted to drop you a line and say THANK YOU!"
That is the REALITY of ebooks ...
Ebooks Equal Information
Some people buy paper books or hardcopy, as it is known in the more modern publishing world, to read in bed. Some use them to balance their coffee tables. Some like to line their walls with them. Some like to collect them not for their contents, but because they're old, or they have pretty bindings.
But there is a vast majority of readers who just want THE INFORMATION or THE STORY.
That's why they buy "the book" - not because they would like to add another square, weighty item to the already overflowing amount of things in their dwellings, but simply because THEY WANT TO KNOW SOMETHING NEW, OR LEARN SOMETHING NEW.
There is a history of the weight of the ages, or the weight of an old Gutenberg press on the whole idea of books.
Books are to be venerated, dusted, kept forever in libraries.
They got to be huge and heavy, the huger and heavier they are, the more merit they must have.
Ebooks challenge all of that, and they step AWAY from all of that.
Ebooks are ONLY about transmitting information - quickly, elegantly, CHEAPLY - and most of all, ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY.
Instant Information Protects The Environment
The ebook customer is delighted of course because they've saved postage and packing charges, because their ebook was significantly cheaper than any paper version could possibly be, and because they don't have to worry about missing the postman, or waiting "28 days for delivery".
That is instant common sense - no tree was cut down, no paper pulped, no book produced, no wrapping needed, and no fossil fuels as nothing was put on an airplane or a lorry or both to make their way to the customer at long last.
But if you dig a little bit deeper, there is much more to "protecting the environment" than just that, impressive as it already may be.
From Endless Fuel To Toxic Chemicals
These days, the hardcopy books are rarely produced in the country where they are sold.
Hard copy are printed and bound often halfway across the world in bulk, in countries that offer much cheaper labour, but also many other "advantages", such as cheaper ink which is produced when there are little or no environmental laws regulating the production of the modern print ink from base pigments and petro-chemicals. Paper is sourced from trees which may or may not come from commercially planted or sustainable forests. A great deal of water is required in the process; and where there are few protections, a great deal of water ends up being polluted.
Hardcopy books are EXTREMELY heavy as anyone will attest to who has ever attempted to move a single box full of them; in their thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands they cost a MASSIVE amount of fuel to transport from their country of origin to the publisher's warehouses halfway around the world.
It doesn't stop there.
Hardcopy books can't be stored just anywhere.
Hardcopy paper books must be stored in a dry and climate controlled environment, or else they become degraded very quickly. Warehouses in which books are stored must be carefully temperature controlled, and in the Western hemisphere, that equals heating for huge warehouses through half the year, and they must de-humidified all the year round.
These warehouses also occupy large areas of land, and are usually located away from cities, in the countryside, where land is cheaper.
From there, hardcopy must be then trucked to distribution centres and from there, to mailing centres and from there, once again they get put on planes, trains and automobiles ...
If not all are sold, they can end up in landfills or being pulped, and even if they are re-cycled, that still expends essentially needless energy from transport, storage and processing - again.
All of this can be avoided and indeed, SHOULD be avoided, in all cases where the TRANSMISSION OF INFORMATION is the primary reason for buying a book.
The Trucks Keep On Trundling ...
The established publishing industry has long been terrified of ebooks, and have been watching the dire fate of the music publishing industry, which has been through a cataclysm with the onset of MP3 downloads.
Many powerful forces in publishing have for a long time tried to obfuscate the ebook market, especially focussing on constantly releasing all manner of user-unfriendly ebook formats and hyper-expensive, clumsy special readers that change from moment to moment, plus a lot of propaganda to make the general public feel that ebooks are just not a good idea, and to keep some nostalgic romance about the joys of struggling with a heavy, unwieldy hardcopy in bed.
The dinosaurs of the publishing industry are entirely invested to keep the status quo, and so the trucks have kept on trundling ...
The Portable Document Format
The truth is that for at least ten years, there has been a perfectly good format for ebooks which has been universally adopted for information text downloads, and including all illustrations and other things that make for a pretty ebook, plus all manner of things that a hardcopy book would never be able to provide - instant search functions of the entire text, point and click indices that take you where you want to go in the blink of the eye, and much more besides.
This is the PDF file format - the Portable Document Format. It can be read on any computer, on any lap top, and now on a multitude of other very handy devices, such as mobile phones and I-phones.
Literally BILLIONS of documents and ebooks in PDF format have been bought and sold, downloaded for free and traded, sent and received across the World Wide Web in the last ten years.
And every single one of them transmitted information - without the need for a stamp, or an envelope, or a drop of petrol being expended in their journeys from the authors and publishers to the end users.
The Future Of Publishing
There is always room for hardcopy - children's story books, art books, collectibles and so forth.
As environmental concerns grow, and people find they are less and less willing to spend their precious time and hard earned cash when they don't have to any longer, information transmission via ebooks is going to become the standard.
Electronic libraries do not take up any space. You can find what you are looking for in the blink of an eye. When you move house, you place your library which has more books than the Alexandrian library contained dusty scrolls, into your pocket as you stroll away.
There are so many advantages to ebooks that even with all the propaganda to try and keep the dinosaur trucks piled up with hard copy on our roads, time will have its say and progress will be achieved.
Already, many authors are choosing to publish in ebook format by preference.
The most recent release from DragonRising Publishing in the United Kingdom, one of the first pioneers and most experienced ebook publishers world wide, is what is known as an e-library - a folder that contains more than "just" a single book.
"Aromatherapy For The Soul", with two PDF files and an accompanying MP3, is only available in electronic transmission format by the request of the author, Dr Silvia Hartmann.
Dr Hartmann says, "This is a book about nature, the healing powers of natural flowers, herbs, trees and plants, and I personally don't see the sense in having such a book end up being a burden on the environment. It is to celebrate nature, and to transmit the joy of working with the energies of natural essential oils to people around the world - and that's exactly what the ebook does, instantly, at really low cost, and without ever burdening down a single lorry, or a plane."
As more authors take this stance, and as more and more readers discover for themselves the very real advantages of ebooks, which include not least of all the possibility of upgrading to all future editions either entirely free of charge, or for a minimal fee, thus having "a book that never goes out of date" or becomes stale and tired, the true wonder of electronic information transmission becomes more and more widely available - for the good of all, and in every way.
© The StarFields Network 2008