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Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading

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The definitive book about ebooks, Burning the Page offers a revolutionary vision for the future of reading from an ebooks insider who was Amazon's first technology evangelist and an early innovator on the Kindle team. The world of books is changing rapidly, and we're witnessing a revolution that's transforming both the reading experience and our culture as a whole. For many The definitive book about ebooks, Burning the Page offers a revolutionary vision for the future of reading from an ebooks insider who was Amazon's first technology evangelist and an early innovator on the Kindle team. The world of books is changing rapidly, and we're witnessing a revolution that's transforming both the reading experience and our culture as a whole. For many readers today, books are beloved objects, and ebooks signal a momentous change. What will happen to long-familiar friends from the world of print—bookshelves, author autographs, inscriptions, book covers, and even bookworms? Are they going to die out, or transform into something new? Are digital books the death knell for printed books, or will they, in fact, breathe new life into them? Will ebooks offer features that enhance the reading experience, or distract you from it? Will books evolve to the point where readers can physically become part of the story one day? A captivating chronicle, Burning the Page explores the ebook revolution's striking impact on the very ways in which we create, discover, and share ideas. Once you see how ebooks came to be, you can look ahead into the future of reading, communication, and human culture—and how digital content will shape our digital lives.


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The definitive book about ebooks, Burning the Page offers a revolutionary vision for the future of reading from an ebooks insider who was Amazon's first technology evangelist and an early innovator on the Kindle team. The world of books is changing rapidly, and we're witnessing a revolution that's transforming both the reading experience and our culture as a whole. For many The definitive book about ebooks, Burning the Page offers a revolutionary vision for the future of reading from an ebooks insider who was Amazon's first technology evangelist and an early innovator on the Kindle team. The world of books is changing rapidly, and we're witnessing a revolution that's transforming both the reading experience and our culture as a whole. For many readers today, books are beloved objects, and ebooks signal a momentous change. What will happen to long-familiar friends from the world of print—bookshelves, author autographs, inscriptions, book covers, and even bookworms? Are they going to die out, or transform into something new? Are digital books the death knell for printed books, or will they, in fact, breathe new life into them? Will ebooks offer features that enhance the reading experience, or distract you from it? Will books evolve to the point where readers can physically become part of the story one day? A captivating chronicle, Burning the Page explores the ebook revolution's striking impact on the very ways in which we create, discover, and share ideas. Once you see how ebooks came to be, you can look ahead into the future of reading, communication, and human culture—and how digital content will shape our digital lives.

30 review for Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gerhard

    That's it. At 39%, I am putting this book down in protest. Well, what I mean is going to my Kindle home page and choosing another one. Actually, it is this sort of book that makes me yearn for print editions, for the sheer satisfaction of being able to hurl it against a wall. Firstly, I thought this would be an 'insider's' account of the development of Amazon's Kindle, with some speculation on the future direction of the technology and its social impact in general. (I recently read the Jeff Bezos That's it. At 39%, I am putting this book down in protest. Well, what I mean is going to my Kindle home page and choosing another one. Actually, it is this sort of book that makes me yearn for print editions, for the sheer satisfaction of being able to hurl it against a wall. Firstly, I thought this would be an 'insider's' account of the development of Amazon's Kindle, with some speculation on the future direction of the technology and its social impact in general. (I recently read the Jeff Bezos bio One Click, which was disappointingly skimpy on this aspect of the business). Intriguingly, Merkoski mentions quite early on (12% in the Kindle version) that eInk is actually based on quantum mechanics, and that he himself doesn't really understand how it works. Oh, okay. That is it then for any kind of technical explanation whatsoever, or any explanation of the development process of the Kindle. And there is no mention of the Paperwhite at all, even in the discussion about how bad the resolution of ereaders is, and how it will never ever match the print quality of books blah blah blah. Instead, what we get is a socio-philosophical treatise on the future of reading and books in general. Merkoski argues that the 'book' itself is an inferior evolutionary relic, partly improved upon, by ereaders, but that it still has a long way to go. "Books are being replaced by ebooks, and in turn, ebooks will be replaced by another seemingly science-fictional innovation..." (37%) Huh? Why? What is wrong with ebooks? Many experts and users have commented that the Paperwhite is the pinnacle of ereader technology (if you want to watch a movie or play Angry Birds, you buy a tablet; you do not say that the ereader is therefore useless and relegate it to the trash heap of outmoded innovations.) Merkoski continues his theme relentlessly: "I think ebooks will one day evolve into something like a movie and a video game combined with the authoritative intent of an astute storyteller." (36%) No! No! No! No! No! No! He then continues to wax lyrical about The Future, arguing that "the firsthand experience of life itself will come through unmediated by the encoding and decoding that we currently use in books. Words are often the worst culprits in this. They are ornaments that often get in the way of the book." (36%, my italics) Oh, so the biggest problem about books is that they consist of words? Turning a book into a mind-movie is not a book anymore; it is a completely different medium. And it is not an improvement. Merkoski: "I think the future might hold some sort of high-speed plug that goes into an author's head, some way of taking an author's imagination and converting it directly into a digital format." (36%) No! No! No! No! No! No! The final straw for me was Merkoski's authoritative assertion: "I know of at least two publishers that offer the ability for early readers of a book to directly contribute to the editorial process." (39%) No! No! No! No! No! No! I think these comments show a complete lack of understanding of what a book is, firstly, and what the writing process is, secondly. A book is not a commodity that can be replicated by some science fictional plug-in into an author's mind, and then allowing your potential readers to fuck around with the content. So why should Hilary Mantel even bother writing the third instalment of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy then, when some future gizmo will allow us to tap directly into her thoughts? But perhaps the craziest aspect of this line of thinking is the frightening possibility that, one day, we will consider this to be normal. (It reminds me of a throwaway line in a recent novel by Adam Roberts, a real-life, bona fide, bursting-with-uncommodifiable-talent SF writer where a character 'watched' a novel.) Thank you, Mr Merkoski. You have made me reassess my relationship with technology in general. I am going to place my Kindle on the floor, in a ring of salt, and use my laptop to Google spells for exorcism. Just to be on the safe side, I will also pray for forgiveness. Mea culpa.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bartusiak

    Burning the Page is in part a personal account of Jason Merkoski's experiences as a member of the Amazon team that developed the Kindle device and ecosystem. It also includes quirky accounts of various work/life experiences of Mr. Merkoski, historical discussions on the development of the printing industry in general, and musings about future technological directions for novels and storytelling. If the above description seems to describe somewhat random or scattershot subject matter, that's a ref Burning the Page is in part a personal account of Jason Merkoski's experiences as a member of the Amazon team that developed the Kindle device and ecosystem. It also includes quirky accounts of various work/life experiences of Mr. Merkoski, historical discussions on the development of the printing industry in general, and musings about future technological directions for novels and storytelling. If the above description seems to describe somewhat random or scattershot subject matter, that's a reflection of the book itself. Mr. Merkoski has an interesting voice it what he discusses, but it is unfocused, and needs to be edited for the more sophisticated reader for which the book seems to be intended. For example, in describing his early Kindle times at Amazon, he states, "We started an ebook revolution." But then he seems to believe that this requires clarification and states: "When I talk about revolution, I'm not referring to political or regime-changing revolutions like the Khmer Rouge reign of terror or the French Revolution. I'm not talking about massacres or beheadings." Such clarification is obviously not necessary and does not make for interesting/humorous reading, if that was the intent. Mr. Merkoski's future predictions of books in Burning The Page miss the mark- even in terms of describing the current state of the industry. For example, in a chapter entitled "Introduction to "Bookmarks"," Merkoski states: "I think there's really just one book, the book of all human culture. I'll describe what this one book might look like-as a sort of Facebook for Books...where all books can interact and link to one another in the same way that we ourselves are linked together on Facebook, as friends, coworkers, and family." There are at least three things troubling about this statement. First, a reference to Facebook as a social network, in the context of books, is not the best frame of reference- something like Goodreads would be more appropriate. Second, from a technological perspective, the prediction of there being just "one book" linking "everything" seems both undesirable and impractical. Third, and this is applicable to all of the "prediction" aspects in the book, is the author's assumed credibility in making all of the grand predictions and professorial statements. There are many engineers, coders, and technologists associated with groundbreaking new initiatives. They are very good, if not excellent, in their roles, and some have even graduated from MIT. But why would that make them qualified to be such bold predictors of the future and to make such sweeping statements. As a reader, I could not buy into Merkoski's assuming such a role. The historical aspects of the development of the novel and books themselves was dry and went way too far back in time. When I saw the introductory statements to a few paragraphs- "Paper was invented next..." or "Printing as we know it eventually emerged from the Dark Ages. The actual quantity of books produced during the early years was relatively small- but with every decade afterward, books became cheaper as new technologies were introduced."- I could not help but sigh. The attempted humor in the book fell flat in many places. For example, one chapter is entitled "The Origin of Ebooks." I started this chapter excited to read about such an origin. The chapter starts out with an anecdote about a Sony Vice President of Research who was trapped in an ice cave after a ski accident and was forced to drink his own urine until he was rescued, and how the executive wished for a type of book about survival on a cell phone that he could pull up right away. The next single sentence paragraph of Merkoski's book states, "That's not what happened, of course." In terms of the self musings, they're just too random, and they're not earth shattering or amusing either, such as: "But that's just me; I like reading in bed," or "Perhaps my favorite kind of reading happens at palmy beach resorts." Does Merkoski think that this is different from many other readers? Another little anecdote has to do with Merkoski going into a Barnes and Noble store and approaching a salesperson at the Nook kiosk. The Nook, of course, is a competitor to the Kindle ereader. The passage reads: "I go over to her and show an interest in the Nook. To torment her a little, I keep calling it a Kindle." He says a few more things, and then "slowly drift[s] away." What's the big punchline for the anecdote? Was it the suggestion for putting stickers on books in the Barnes and Noble store to indicate to customers which of the books in the store also come in ebook form? It all just seemed to random and inconsequential. Now, I struggled with how I would write this review, or whether I would write one at all. Perhaps no review is better than a bad one. I received the book as a Goodreads Giveaway, however, and I treat that seriously. As an aspiring author, I've given away books on Goodreads, and a big reason for that is because I'm looking for candid and constructive feedback from readers. Therefore, I felt it important to follow through and provide a review of Merkoski's book. I also mean for this review to be one of encouragement for Mr. Merkoski. I hope that he continues to try to write, because it is clearly a passion for him, and I detect an interesting voice coming through the pages of Burning The Page...it just needs focus. Maybe one day that first, million page novel Merkoski alludes to will be edited down to a crisp, finely tuned novel that catches on like wildfire. -Paul

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sergei_kalinin

    Очень понравилось! Немного напрягает реклама-реклама Kindle и Amazon, но в целом автор довольно критичен и по отношению к первому, и по отношению ко второму :) . Книга немного затянута за счёт авторских воспоминаний и баек, но читается легко. Из плюсов: а) подробно про эволюцию книжного дела (печатание, издательство и проч.) с древности до наших дней; б) отдельно про историю изобретения электронных книг; в) множество креативных идей и прогнозов о будущем чтения и книг. По многим идеям вот просто Очень понравилось! Немного напрягает реклама-реклама Kindle и Amazon, но в целом автор довольно критичен и по отношению к первому, и по отношению ко второму :) . Книга немного затянута за счёт авторских воспоминаний и баек, но читается легко. Из плюсов: а) подробно про эволюцию книжного дела (печатание, издательство и проч.) с древности до наших дней; б) отдельно про историю изобретения электронных книг; в) множество креативных идей и прогнозов о будущем чтения и книг. По многим идеям вот просто один в один совпали с автором :) Я, к примеру, тоже считаю, что ближайшее будущее за проекционными интерфейсами, в т.ч. и для ПК и для электронных книг (автор описывает подобные "пикопроекторы"). Что же, посмотрим)) Из грустного: автор пророчит скорую смерть и исчезновение бумажных книг. А мне тут больше нравится точка зрения Н.Талеба о том, что древние технологии на порядок живучее современных. Скорее современные ридеры окажутся на свалке (будут вытеснены более совершенной технологией) а бумажные книги никуда не денутся.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Janette Fuller

    This is a comprehensive story about the history of books, the development of ebooks and the future of reading itself. Mr. Merkoski shares his experiences as one of the founding members of Amazon's Kindle team, a small group of people with the goal to make all books downloadable in less than sixty seconds. Jason Merkoski was at the helm of the ebook revolution. The Amazon Kindle (and other ereaders) has changed the way we live, think and perceive the world around us. The author provides "insider" This is a comprehensive story about the history of books, the development of ebooks and the future of reading itself. Mr. Merkoski shares his experiences as one of the founding members of Amazon's Kindle team, a small group of people with the goal to make all books downloadable in less than sixty seconds. Jason Merkoski was at the helm of the ebook revolution. The Amazon Kindle (and other ereaders) has changed the way we live, think and perceive the world around us. The author provides "insider" details about how the first ebooks and ereaders were designed and how they functioned. This book offers some fascinating thoughts and ideas about the future of reading, writing and publishing. Reading will no longer be a solitary activity. Ereaders provide readers many avenues to share thoughts with authors and other readers on the world-wide web. The author discusses the use of ebooks with children in great depth. The following quotation is an excerpt from the chapter, "Education: Print or Digital?" "Children are highly adaptable by nature, and with the exception of the almost blind, I've never met a child of reading age who couldn't get into an ebook. As adults we may prefer to cling like Socrates to the old way. But trust me, we can all "get into" an ebook. There's no barrier in the brain to reading once you're engaged with a book. Children who are brought into ebooks now have the golden opportunity to start fresh without any preconceptions." Mr. Merkoski states that "fewer people are developing the reading habit every year". What does the future hold for readers, writers and publishers? I accepted my first job as a school librarian in 1975. I worked as a librarian for 30 years...my whole life revolved around books. I admit that I was very skeptical when I heard about the first ereaders. I decided to give it a try in 2009 when I downloaded the Kindle for PC application to my laptop computer. I got my first ereader (a Kindle 3) in October, 2010. I received a Kindle Fire HD for a Christmas gift in December, 2012. I am HOOKED on the Kindle! This book is incredible and should be required reading for educators, librarians, authors, publishers and anyone interested in the future of books and reading. Jason Merkoski has done a great deal of research and writes in a scholarly, understandable and enjoyable manner. Educators and library professionals need to be educated about the latest trends in publishing technology. This book is an excellent place to find valuable and practical information. The author provides links to share your thoughts about the book on Twitter and Facebook. Get the book and read it today!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dani

    I was very excited to delve into this book. My library wrote a grant last year to help us get e-reader training for our staff so we can offer help to our customers. I'm also working on a presentation about the future of books, so I was excited that this work would so neatly tie into the two topics. Jason Merkoski may have been part of the first Kindle team, but he certainly seems to take a lot of credit for his intelligence (more so than the readers need to hear), yet he also has a sense of mode I was very excited to delve into this book. My library wrote a grant last year to help us get e-reader training for our staff so we can offer help to our customers. I'm also working on a presentation about the future of books, so I was excited that this work would so neatly tie into the two topics. Jason Merkoski may have been part of the first Kindle team, but he certainly seems to take a lot of credit for his intelligence (more so than the readers need to hear), yet he also has a sense of modesty (which tends to come across as false). For this reason I skipped the majority of his "bookmarks," they seemed unnecessary anecdotes for the work. In any case it was interesting to hear about how Kindle came into being, but I felt that a lot of details got lost in the comparison to Gutenberg's workshop. I also think that the references to the Vandels and Huns were overdone. It was nice to see that Merkoski didn't proclaim Kindle as the be-all best ever e-reader, yet he also didn't address quite a lot of the advantages that Kindle has over the other devices. It was lovely to hear about Merkoski's admiration for Barnes & Noble and libraries in general. I know for a fact however that he glossed over some of the information about libraries & e-readers. If he wasn't going to take the time to properly research and handle the topic I wish he would have skipped it. In reference to the e-readers themselves Merkoski briefly touches upon the hybrid devices like ipads and Kindle Fire, but it seemed that his focus was almost purely on the most basic form of e-readers, and I think that was not the best way to address the future of reading. He is undoubtedly a book lover (and he does give some mixed signals as to whether he likes print books v. ebooks better). Overall I found the book equal parts meandering, insightful and lacking (in detail, in research, in support). Not a terrible work, but certainly not the best I've ever read and I would hope that someone involved in the evolution of e-readers would present a more excited outlook about their future.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Thierry Wasserman

    Repetitive, insults the intelligence of the reader, metaphors pushed too far, etc. If there was something interesting to say about the development of the Kindle or the future of ebooks, it might've been worth it, but he's excessively vague about everything and seemingly afraid of delving too deeply into anything. It fails as a history of the development of the Kindle, fails as an analysis of the ebook revolution, fails as a personal memoir. Waste of time.

  7. 5 out of 5

    John Brumbaugh

    Interesting story of eBooks, but I felt he went too much into what he thought eBooks would become and not enough in the story of how they were made, especially the Kindle. It seemed like he was trying to not give up anything that could be considered a trade secret by Amazon in writing the book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Jason Merkoski was involved on the development team for the Kindle e-book reader and, for a time became a "technology evangelist" for Amazon. This book is a combination memoir and thoughtful exploration of the future of reading in as we make the shift from "analog" to digital in books. He begins with some history of Ebooks and the development and launch of the first Kindle and then moves into the various implications of the shift to digital, ranging from how we read to what it means to have cloud Jason Merkoski was involved on the development team for the Kindle e-book reader and, for a time became a "technology evangelist" for Amazon. This book is a combination memoir and thoughtful exploration of the future of reading in as we make the shift from "analog" to digital in books. He begins with some history of Ebooks and the development and launch of the first Kindle and then moves into the various implications of the shift to digital, ranging from how we read to what it means to have cloud-based digital content to the use of digital content in education to the fate of libraries. At the end of each chapter is a "Bookmark", a more focused reflection on a topic related (or sometimes not) to the chapter. I found the "bookmarks" the most endearing parts of the book, because Merkoski explores in many of these what we will lose or will change in the shift to digital--thinks like book covers (I think of the "analog" to this in some of the wonderful album covers of the LP era). At most we may have a digital icon on our digital shelves. Another talks about the inscriptions we find in many books--how will we do that in a digital age? There was a kind of guilty wistfulness in much of this--the reflections of someone who obviously REALLY loves paper books who was part of the revolution that will supplant them. He, like many of us in this time, realizes that we are witnessing a profound change in the way we read that will mean the loss of some of the things we love. He also observes that our children (or grandchildren) will probably be oblivious to such things--digital will be all they know. At the same time, Merkoski sees tremendous potential in this "revolution"--particularly in connecting all that is written into the One Book of human culture. Reading can be immeasurably enriched as we discover the conversation going on between authors, and add to this conversation with our annotations and insights. At the same time, there are pitfalls that reflect the double-edged character of technology--will the lack of physical artifacts (paper books) put us at greater risk of losing great works, will commercialization and digital rights management unnecessarily restrict the availability of digital content, and will the connecting of all this content, and the accessing it on devices with an array of apps lead to digital ADHD? I've explored in greater depth some of the issues Merkoski raises in several blog posts: http://rtrube54.wordpress.com/2013/10... http://rtrube54.wordpress.com/2013/10... http://rtrube54.wordpress.com/2013/10... http://rtrube54.wordpress.com/2013/10... The author's last chapter pinpoints what I think is the source of the ambivalence in this book. Human beings are "analog" beings and probably much of the love many of us have for physical books is their appeal to our physical senses. The digital revolution represents an attempt to transcend our physicality--to digitally put at our finger tips, or even into our brains, the world of knowledge, sound, sight and experience. It even tempts us to try to escape our humanness in digitizing ourselves as people like Ray Kurzweil and other have proposed. I sense Merkoski is both allured and troubled by this project--sensing both the potential wonders and perhaps the loss of what makes us most human--our connection to the physical world. Might we in this "gain the whole world and lose our soul"? Burning the Page can't answer all these questions but Merkoski has done a valuable service in helping us understand the revolution we are in the midst of and the questions it will raise.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Darren

    As you might expect from a book reviewer, one is surrounded by books. Piles and piles of books. Yet the so-called eBook revolution is changing how books are read, whether that is for pleasure, for study or for business. Indeed, this book was provided as a digital file, sent at the click of a mouse button. Many purists will though scoff at this digital intrusion into a paper world. This reviewer shares the romantic view of paper (until you have to move boxes and boxes of books around!), still enjo As you might expect from a book reviewer, one is surrounded by books. Piles and piles of books. Yet the so-called eBook revolution is changing how books are read, whether that is for pleasure, for study or for business. Indeed, this book was provided as a digital file, sent at the click of a mouse button. Many purists will though scoff at this digital intrusion into a paper world. This reviewer shares the romantic view of paper (until you have to move boxes and boxes of books around!), still enjoys opening a crisp book for a good read and yet finds that one reads more and more things digitally. So this book, looking at the future for books, how we read them and how they are published, written with the critical eye of an insider who was involved with the Amazon Kindle eBook reader from an early stage, was particularly interesting and thought provoking on many levels. The majority of this book is a clear first-person opinions-and-all look at the eBook world albeit one viewed through the prism of an Amazon worker. A similar book written by someone who had been immersed in the Apple culture might be slightly different. Both with a form of hero worship and pride. Both with true stories and reminiscences but the reader might, from time to time, need to reach for the "objectivity" button and adjust the focus a little. The author is forthright in his views and the reader gets to share in his pride, his success and his sorrow. Short but graphical descriptions about how books were butchered in the long march towards digitalisation before being dumped in the (hopefully environmentally-friendly) trashcan will have many book lovers recoil with horror. Fortunately some digitalisation efforts have became more "friendly" over time, yet is a little paper sacrifice a worthy contribution to the "war effort"? Maybe.. but views can be polarised. One cannot downplay Amazon's role in the eBook revolution but the author could have been a little more, err, balanced despite his role in a rapidly-developing market. Mind you, there is scope for a little self-deprecating humour as well as pointing out some relatively well-known Internet memes such as the infamous Denon AKDL1 Dedicated Link Cable product reviews that many netizens have snickered over. For some strange reason, despite pushing the quality and attention to detail angle in many chapters, each chapter had a strange web address at the end which looked really out of place and just pointed to a piece of self promotion through social media and it opened up a route to a bonus chapter. Self promotion, a test of a reader's inquisitiveness or just a strange bit of formatting left half ready, this reviewer is not sure. As one progresses through the book one starts to get insight about the impact of technology on society, sociological changes and even a bit of a forward look or guess to the future of reading and writing. It might just be this reviewer's opinion, but this book surreptitiously underlines one of the problems of the eBook revolution - anyone can be a publisher. The book just feels like it needs a (further?) visit to an editor for a bit of polishing. Of course, there are many printed books that are also lacking in this regard, but eBooks do have a bit of a particular problem with their quality control when an editor might not have been involved in the process. "TL:DR ?" Good book, wanders about a bit, worthy read, but at the price point you do get a LOT of value for money. Burning the Page, written by Jason Merkoski and published by Sourcebooks. ISBN 9781402288838, 256 pages. Typical price: USD14.99. YYYY.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Simon Howard

    Jason Merkoski was on the team at Amazon which developed the Kindle. This book gives insights into how the process of developing the Kindle felt, and gives a personal account of Merkoski’s relationship with books and his ideas of where the medium is going. These multiple strands make the book a bit of a mishmash of genres, which (no doubt) makes marketing it somewhat tricky. Despite this, I felt that it hung together quite nicely as a whole, though it is undeniable that it reads a little more lik Jason Merkoski was on the team at Amazon which developed the Kindle. This book gives insights into how the process of developing the Kindle felt, and gives a personal account of Merkoski’s relationship with books and his ideas of where the medium is going. These multiple strands make the book a bit of a mishmash of genres, which (no doubt) makes marketing it somewhat tricky. Despite this, I felt that it hung together quite nicely as a whole, though it is undeniable that it reads a little more like a flowing conversation than a planned essay. Merkoski’s passion for books shines through this volume – not least because of the anecdotes he relates about the difficulties of coping with the number of books he owns. Given his love of books, I was surprised by his level of excitement about a future in which books have changed to the degree that they no longer contain the written word. In the medium-term, he imagines books which are intercut with short movies and games – not so far from what we seen on the iPad today. This fills me with dread, because it seems to me that this limits the reader’s imagination. Yet, despite my reluctance, I can see that his prediction is probably accurate. Blockbuster books already often have filmed “trailers”. Games with written stories and intercut scenes (e.g. the Professor Layton series) are enormously popular. Convergence between formats can surely only become more common. And his long-term predictions are still more frightening. With strong overtones of sci-fi, he suggests that authors’ imaginations will be “downloaded” into readers’ minds. Again, despite my personal reluctance, it’s hard to disagree that more efficient communication of ideas is likely to be the direction of travel. The anecdotes about working on the Kindle project which are intercut into the story gave a little insight into the project, and were described with passion and enthusiasm yet were not overdone. They provided a valuable grounding to offset the flights of futurology, and I think the combination worked rather well. I should point out that the book includes interactive “bookmarks”, which are conversation-starters linked to Jason’s website. Because I read this book pre-publication, I didn’t use these, so can’t comment on how well they really worked. The questions posed often provided food for thought, regardless of the fact that I didn’t discuss them with others online. All-in-all, this was one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read for a little while. It may be hard to categorise or capture in a nutshell, but it was nonetheless thought-provoking and engaging. I’d certainly recommend it. Note: This review was originally published on Simon Howard's blog. You can view it at http://sjhoward.co.uk/archive/2013/09....

  11. 4 out of 5

    Verity

    A FirstReads Giveaway Review Overall impression: Fair/Good General impression: Where to start? ...The best part of the book is the insider look at the development/production of eReaders; this is perhaps due to the fact that I know very little about this technology. The remainder of the text felt a little trite, especially to an avid reader and one who used to work at Zimmerman library on the University of New Mexico campus. And I would have to agree with Paul Bartusiak's review, Burning the Page: A FirstReads Giveaway Review Overall impression: Fair/Good General impression: Where to start? ...The best part of the book is the insider look at the development/production of eReaders; this is perhaps due to the fact that I know very little about this technology. The remainder of the text felt a little trite, especially to an avid reader and one who used to work at Zimmerman library on the University of New Mexico campus. And I would have to agree with Paul Bartusiak's review, Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading needs more research and editing to be a main course meal for a biblioholic. (I cannot tell you how often I wished for the author to have used a thesaurus or to change the word order on some of the text.) I feel like this book might get better reviews if it was handed to high school, or even junior high school, students. At least they might still care to have a Facebook or Twitter account in order to access the discussion pages listed at the end of the "Bookmark" sections. (Though how many of those students would understand the phone booth/call box reference?) Ultimately I wanted there to be better reference material and more concrete metaphors. Sometimes it felt like the same ideas were getting rehashed every other chapter. Take the chapter "Digitizing Culture", the part on print page 206 where he talks about books starting to be left out with the trash because they cannot be sold and community events to swap books. This already happens! There are tons of people who are too lazy to take their recyclable stuff to a donation center and instead leave it out on the curb. And for those who are not aware, http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php is a free site where you can exchange your unwanted books with others across the nation and get credit for books you do want. Just pay to ship the books; the books you get are free and do not even come from the same person who you gave your books to. (Did not mean for that to sound like an ad.) And yet not a sliver of words was brought forth to examine the preservation of third world and developing cultures or how used books will impact them as shipments of "unsell-able" used clothing and treadle sewing machines have in Eastern Africa. (This is the anthropologist coming out.) One side of me wants to rant about all the other sections that really bugged me, the other side does not want to fill up review space merely to vent. Guess that means I need to get blog!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dolly

    I listened to Mr. Merkoski talk about "The Future of Reading: Storytelling, Social Networks, and Book Clubs" at the Fairfax Library Foundation's Book Club Conference on 19 September 2015. The following include my notes from his talk: "A decline in durability and a rise in convenience." He references the book Diffusion of Innovations by Everett M. Rogers "When ebooks die, it's without a sigh." There really is a wisdom of the crowd. As individuals we get things wrong, but as a group we are more accura I listened to Mr. Merkoski talk about "The Future of Reading: Storytelling, Social Networks, and Book Clubs" at the Fairfax Library Foundation's Book Club Conference on 19 September 2015. The following include my notes from his talk: "A decline in durability and a rise in convenience." He references the book Diffusion of Innovations by Everett M. Rogers "When ebooks die, it's without a sigh." There really is a wisdom of the crowd. As individuals we get things wrong, but as a group we are more accurate. (Paraphrased) "Publishers are losing control to retailers...because they listen to their customers." self-publishing is the future... "Libraries serve a purpose by bringing us together." "Apps are the new goldmine...Billions are being produced every month." "When you read a book you are imaginatively engaged with what's going on." I don't recommend giving children under the age of thirteen access to books on tablets or phones. Dedicated ereaders are okay (not better than books), but tablets and devices that have games and other distactions (like Youtube) distract children and they aren't able to focus. It's really important to preserve that imaginative faculty, to be able to understand the characters' point of view, that ability to immerse yourself in the story. (Paraphrased) "There's something tactile about books...we have three thousand books in the house." (They are my wife's) "How do we preserve that tactile and immersive experience in a digital format?" We aren't there yet." Reading 1.0 is very linear - beginning to end, page by page Reading 2.0 is more fluid - flip between books, include social networking, highlighting, finding quotes and passages others like, skip chapters that others find boring... "The internet is the big disintermediator."

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bjorn

    Merkoski was in on the ground floor of the ebook development; one of the first to write hyperlinked novels on the web, one of the chief architects of the Kindle, and now apparently all-round Book Future guru. Burning The Page is about all of that - how we (or well, Amazon in particular and the US market in general) got to where they are today, what it means for the publishing business, and where it'll go from here. It's interesting stuff, and anyone interested in the digital transformation of th Merkoski was in on the ground floor of the ebook development; one of the first to write hyperlinked novels on the web, one of the chief architects of the Kindle, and now apparently all-round Book Future guru. Burning The Page is about all of that - how we (or well, Amazon in particular and the US market in general) got to where they are today, what it means for the publishing business, and where it'll go from here. It's interesting stuff, and anyone interested in the digital transformation of the book business and society at large should find some interesting points here. Merkoski isn't a bad writer, even though (and this is a pretty general problem with these kinds of books) his exaggeratedly conversational musings repeat some points endlessly and make the book seem more like his personal memoir at times, which gets a little tiring in the long run. It also highlights one of the central problems of the book: it's very much Merkoski's view of how things work from his horizon and where he thinks the future will take the book. And as much as he likes to talk about his own love of reading (which I don't doubt) and refer to other books, his view of reading is very much technology-focussed. He can conceive of a world in which reading turns into a multimedia bonanza of moving images and portable miniprojectors, but not one where e-books are DRM-free. He's open about the shortcomings of digital, but can't imagine that paper books won't be completely gone in just a few years. He can stare for ages at the technical possibilities of what you can do with a text, but says very little about how the market will actually work. And so on. As one of the first proper histories of the digitization of the book industry, written by someone who was right there, it's a good read. But it needs a few pinches of salt and a few extra spices.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Fei Fei

    DISCLAIMER: This is a First Reads book won from a Goodreads giveaway. I'm still not certain whether this book was meant to read as a personal memoir on his experiences with eBook development or if it's a nonfiction research work on the phenomenon. From the cover and preface, it appears to be marketed as the latter but the book tangents into so many personal reflections (particularly on irrelevant inferences to "insider" Amazon that never gets explained) that it's more like the former. In any case DISCLAIMER: This is a First Reads book won from a Goodreads giveaway. I'm still not certain whether this book was meant to read as a personal memoir on his experiences with eBook development or if it's a nonfiction research work on the phenomenon. From the cover and preface, it appears to be marketed as the latter but the book tangents into so many personal reflections (particularly on irrelevant inferences to "insider" Amazon that never gets explained) that it's more like the former. In any case, this book fails to inform on either - much too short and superficial and lacks any in-depth, rigorous research. To fully explain any social phenomenon, let alone such a large and on-going one like the print-to-eInk one, it is simply not enough to rely on personal anecdotes alone. I did find some of the points raised by Merkoski very interesting, such as the potential loss of cover design, the ability to personalize book typography/size/spacing on the eReader, and the tricky business of indexing and potentially adding explanatory hyperlinks.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    After reading this interview with Jason Merkoski, I'm really interested in reading the book. I love discussions about the future of books and the way eBooks will (or maybe won't (view spoiler)[but probally will (hide spoiler)] ) impact and change the future of reading. I'm like a puppy whose eyes get so big they'll pop out of its head because it's so easy to imagine what the future will be like but also pretty hard, too. All of it depends on so much more than what you're able to imagine, the comp After reading this interview with Jason Merkoski, I'm really interested in reading the book. I love discussions about the future of books and the way eBooks will (or maybe won't (view spoiler)[but probally will (hide spoiler)] ) impact and change the future of reading. I'm like a puppy whose eyes get so big they'll pop out of its head because it's so easy to imagine what the future will be like but also pretty hard, too. All of it depends on so much more than what you're able to imagine, the complexity of it all (excuse my language) literally fucks with my head. So yeah, I'll probably read this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hillary

    He had a great 2/3 of a book, but it felt stretched toward the end. Unique insight into development of the Kindle and ebooks, the culture of retailers and publishers, and interesting theory of the future. Would have been better if he backed up his opinions with more of the research going on, and more of the changes going on in related fields. As a Librarian, I can say that his chapter on libraries would have been better with some conversations with librarians, or visits to the meetings where lib He had a great 2/3 of a book, but it felt stretched toward the end. Unique insight into development of the Kindle and ebooks, the culture of retailers and publishers, and interesting theory of the future. Would have been better if he backed up his opinions with more of the research going on, and more of the changes going on in related fields. As a Librarian, I can say that his chapter on libraries would have been better with some conversations with librarians, or visits to the meetings where libraries are in active negotiations to be part of this new world.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Shaurette

    It's a shame that this book about the ebook revolution was not based on more fact. Merkowski doesn't bother to do much research or use source notes, so the whole book is basically just his opinion on where the future of reading is headed. I found myself disagreeing with him quite often (i.e., used ebooks, DRM, kids and ebooks). I agree that the invention of ebooks was a game changer, but still believe that print and digital will coexist for quite some time given there are different advantages to It's a shame that this book about the ebook revolution was not based on more fact. Merkowski doesn't bother to do much research or use source notes, so the whole book is basically just his opinion on where the future of reading is headed. I found myself disagreeing with him quite often (i.e., used ebooks, DRM, kids and ebooks). I agree that the invention of ebooks was a game changer, but still believe that print and digital will coexist for quite some time given there are different advantages to each.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lissa

    This book started out strong. I loved reading about the beginning of the Kindle and the secrecy and plotting behind it. I also enjoyed reading about the history of the book and I agree with many if his points behind the evolution of the ebook. About halfway through, though, the book loses steam and seems too repetitive to be interesting. Overall, it is a good and timely book...just not as interesting as I had hoped.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Torrance Public Library

    An intriguing, thought-provoking, discussion-starting look at the future of reading. Does this mean the death of libraries? Does this mean the end of literacy as we know it? Or, is this a leap forward like the printing press and the paperback book were? Each reader can make their own prediction.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Keith Lord

    While interesting at points the book feels dated 5 years after it came out and is way too much of a cheerleader for ebooks. The whole printed books will be completely gone and totally useless is not going to happen.

  21. 4 out of 5

    kat

    The best parts of this book are the first chapters where the author talks about his behind-the-scenes experiences with Amazon in the super secret months leading up to the launch of the first Kindle. He reveals how great masses of print books were covertly being turned into ebooks through destructive scanning so that all those Kindles would have something for buyers to read on them, and captures the excitement of launch day, where this baby was unveiled, seven years ago: He then puts together an i The best parts of this book are the first chapters where the author talks about his behind-the-scenes experiences with Amazon in the super secret months leading up to the launch of the first Kindle. He reveals how great masses of print books were covertly being turned into ebooks through destructive scanning so that all those Kindles would have something for buyers to read on them, and captures the excitement of launch day, where this baby was unveiled, seven years ago: He then puts together an interesting history of the evolution of the written word, placing e-readers and ebooks on an equal footing with the invention of the Gutenberg printing press. This actually didn't strike me as vainglorious at all, as I believe in the game-changing power of digital books and even of eInk. Merkoski tells us that eInk, so new to consumers, was actually discovered in the 1970s by people at Xerox. This factoid in the timeline of innovations should naturally have led to a discussion of Michael Hart, who was making the world's very first ebooks at the exact same time. But I was surprised to see that this book about ebooks made no mention of Hart or his eventual website, gutenberg.org. Merkoski never actually mentioned gutenberg.org at all, which makes me wonder if he was self-censoring or if he was forbidden to mention the site, since Amazon sells many public domain titles for money that Gutenberg offers in Kindle-friendly formats for free. As it is, the author behaves as though ebooks were first thought up by Amazon, or at the earliest a few years before that by Sony in conjunction with the release of its Japanese e-reader. There are some interesting statistics on adoption and permeation of new technologies, and a neat trip to the wax cylinder museum. Then the book slides into chapter after chapter of speculation about how ebooks might evolve as time goes on. As imaginative as his ideas were, it kind of bugged me that he was spending so much of my time musing out loud. I thought I was reading non-fiction here! His oft-repeated declarations (reassurances) of the depth and breadth of his love for printed books got to seem kind of defensive after a while, like he was worried that people would come up to him on the street and upbraid him for destroying paper books. I'd say that if you're interested in the history and technical nature of ebooks and ereaders as told by an expert and pioneer in the field, you should skip over the "Bookmarks" sections and read up to the chapter "Our Books Are Moving to the Cloud" and then stop. And if you're interested in reading guesswork of how the world will change after digital books have become widespread, start reading after that, plus all the "Bookmarks" sections, which are mostly the author's reflections on the differences between ebooks and physical books.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Morrison

    "Burning the Page", on my must-read list for 2014, unfortunately was a disappointment. I was hoping for more insight into the development of the e-book since the author, Jason Merkoski, was the program manager for the first Kindle e-reader for Amazon. He did provide background of the key events in how the Kindle came to be, but I was looking for descriptions of input and reaction from key stakeholders, publishers, marketers, potential and actual customers. I also was looking for an informed pers "Burning the Page", on my must-read list for 2014, unfortunately was a disappointment. I was hoping for more insight into the development of the e-book since the author, Jason Merkoski, was the program manager for the first Kindle e-reader for Amazon. He did provide background of the key events in how the Kindle came to be, but I was looking for descriptions of input and reaction from key stakeholders, publishers, marketers, potential and actual customers. I also was looking for an informed perspective on what the future of e-reading might look like, but Merkoski shares more visions of the future of reading--some fantastical in nature. The book has chapter titles not numbers, consistent with many e-books. Titles include launching the Kindle, The First Competitors, The Neurobiology of Reading and in the latter half of the book Merkoski discusses his ideas on what the future of reading could hold. One intriguing idea is “the Facebook for Books”. You see, I believe there’s ultimately only one book. All books digital and physical, are part of this one book. No book exists in a vacuum. Even a book like fiction like "The Lost Symbol" mentions outside references. All books are linked in this angel of intertwining roots, which you can think as hyperlinks (page 134). Reading 2.0 Google, according to Burning the Page is close to making reading interactive, known as reading 2.0. HTML code embedded within e-books will make reading non-linear, dynamic. Content will be updated regularly, links included to video, other texts and interactive elements. Though we are seeing these developments in some e-textbooks, this format will become mainstream. We are on the way to this advancement. Merkoski attempted (at time of publication, 2013) to make "Burning the Page" a Reading 2.0 experience as described by including links to interactive content with options for the reader to get involved. He includes HTML links within the e-book and url addresses in the hard copy of the book. But alas, the links no longer work. When one clicks on the link, or types in the URL address one gets an option to sign in with Twitter or Facebook but when clicking on either, a 'fatal error' message appears. A shame. It's a great idea, too bad it didn't work. One of the URL addresses: http://jasonmerkoski.com/eb/13.html Conclusion Potential for a really intriguing read if the interactivity function worked. Overall, a mediocre read as is, with some thought provoking ideas.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Yaaresse

    I wrote a detailed reason why I thought this was a 2 1/2 star book, and it went into a black hole when the Goodreads server tanked earlier today. I appreciate the irony given one of the things I mentioned was that I like having my "stuff" local so I can still access it if "the cloud" or any of its components has a seizure. I don't think enough of this book to write the whole thing again. Suffice it to say that content of this book is part memoir (of the author's time at Amazon), part history of I wrote a detailed reason why I thought this was a 2 1/2 star book, and it went into a black hole when the Goodreads server tanked earlier today. I appreciate the irony given one of the things I mentioned was that I like having my "stuff" local so I can still access it if "the cloud" or any of its components has a seizure. I don't think enough of this book to write the whole thing again. Suffice it to say that content of this book is part memoir (of the author's time at Amazon), part history of books, and a whole lot of rambling, often conflicting and half-ass formed rambling about what he thinks could or should happen with e-books. The book doesn't succeed in being any of those things well. He skirts over anything controversial like privacy rights, copyrights, the ethics of data-mining...or even exactly what information is being data-mined from e-books as they are being read. (And if you think that isn't happening, you're being very naive.) A lot of his ramblings about what "cool" features might make e-books "better" are things that would make the idea of reading not reading anymore. Frankly, I love my iPad and Kindle app as much as I can love something inanimate, but when I read a book I want to read a book. I don't want to watch videos, play games, interact with the author, have everyone else's notations show up on my text, chat with other readers or any of that other stuff that is NOT READING. If you can find this free at a library, maybe read it for the (very) few interesting bits you can then debate over a few beers with other book lovers -- when you aren't reading -- but I don't think it's worth purchasing.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    I disliked this book so much! I thought that it was going to be about the creation process of the Kindle but it had very little information about the Kindle itself. It was more about the opinions the author had about the future of books and the publishing business. Reading it felt like reading a really long blog post. The book was so incredible repetitive and by the time I had read around 25 percent of it really wished I had never even bought it. Also what’s up with generalization like saying that I disliked this book so much! I thought that it was going to be about the creation process of the Kindle but it had very little information about the Kindle itself. It was more about the opinions the author had about the future of books and the publishing business. Reading it felt like reading a really long blog post. The book was so incredible repetitive and by the time I had read around 25 percent of it really wished I had never even bought it. Also what’s up with generalization like saying that there is something emotionally bereft about the Kindle, that it’s hard to love Amazon or even worst that it’s hard to love the Post Office. I love all those things, I love my Kindle more than any other gadget I own, I love Amazon because they are the ones that allow me access to so many great books and I love the Post Office and buying stamps and mailing post cards and getting packages. I think this book was such a huge waste of time.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    A book about inside the digital world. This book feels in the first part a bit too much of "inside baseball" sort of story. It tells some things about the start of Kindle at Amazon and how the author took part in that. It is a nice read for what it is but I would have liked to seen that in a different book that went deeper into the actual thought processes behind the many decisions that happened. That would be a very different book than this though. Burning the Page does gather up some of the id A book about inside the digital world. This book feels in the first part a bit too much of "inside baseball" sort of story. It tells some things about the start of Kindle at Amazon and how the author took part in that. It is a nice read for what it is but I would have liked to seen that in a different book that went deeper into the actual thought processes behind the many decisions that happened. That would be a very different book than this though. Burning the Page does gather up some of the ideas that have been talked about with the "digital revolution" for many years and puts them all in one place. For someone who is new to the idea of eBooks this is a very nice overview of the territory already crossed and presents a nice summary of where we might be going in the future. The difference between here and then and how we get there is not well laid out however. I found this to be a good quick read that anyone interesting in reading should look at.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Desiree

    I loved this book and hated to see it end! Since the author was involved with Amazon and the beginnings of their e-books, I was expecting a book mostly about that. However, he writes about all aspects of digital publishing in general. This book would have gotten 5 stars, except for the fact that you could not view any of the extra content that is linked in the e-book unless you create an account! The links will let you sign up through Facebook or Twitter, while going to the main page will let you I loved this book and hated to see it end! Since the author was involved with Amazon and the beginnings of their e-books, I was expecting a book mostly about that. However, he writes about all aspects of digital publishing in general. This book would have gotten 5 stars, except for the fact that you could not view any of the extra content that is linked in the e-book unless you create an account! The links will let you sign up through Facebook or Twitter, while going to the main page will let you create an account. Needless to say, I didn't as I would at the very least have liked to take a little look around before signing up! If you do sign up, there may be a wealth of info there. I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in both the rather short history and the long future of e-books! Very easy read, definitely not dry and technical!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Canfield

    (Disclaimer - I also worked at Amazon on the Kindle team) This book is a great read for those interested in reading and books, the history and evolution of the printed word and some speculation on what the future of reading will look like. I found myself thinking what the current changes in reading culture will mean to my children. I am still disappointed that ebooks have only reached the education market in a limited sense (my nephew in Jr. High still carries a 25 lb backpack). I can't wait to (Disclaimer - I also worked at Amazon on the Kindle team) This book is a great read for those interested in reading and books, the history and evolution of the printed word and some speculation on what the future of reading will look like. I found myself thinking what the current changes in reading culture will mean to my children. I am still disappointed that ebooks have only reached the education market in a limited sense (my nephew in Jr. High still carries a 25 lb backpack). I can't wait to see what the future brings and I am glad that this conversation is happening so we can be aware of how and why things are changing.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    While this book contained a modicum of interesting economic/innovation information, it could have been half as long. Removing the space for Merkoski's blue-sky musings, ego, and questionable "facts", would have made it at least a decent addition to those searching for ebook insight. The review below is informative: http://the-digital-reader.com/2013/04... This book is what I worry will become the future of ebook publishing: Want-to-be authors publishing blather with little or no input from qualifie While this book contained a modicum of interesting economic/innovation information, it could have been half as long. Removing the space for Merkoski's blue-sky musings, ego, and questionable "facts", would have made it at least a decent addition to those searching for ebook insight. The review below is informative: http://the-digital-reader.com/2013/04... This book is what I worry will become the future of ebook publishing: Want-to-be authors publishing blather with little or no input from qualified editors. Good observations throughout, but too little cohesiveness or follow through to make this an important book. Sigh.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amber Polo

    A horror story or an exciting peak in to a sci-fi future. Merkoski entertains as he recounts creating the Kindle and changing the world of books and reading. And keeps repeating how he loves printed books. He doesn’t have a great grasp of real public libraries and seems to ignore authors in the ebook revolution. Most frightening is the possibility that future generation will lose the ability to focus. An end to mindfulness or a need for training in this ancient art?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Some of the history of e-book development and a number of Merkoski's ideas of what the future might hold for e-books & reading. It is clear that Merkoski understands the appeals and advantages of both e-books and "analog" books. I found his perceptions of some of these aspects to be spot on. Although I'm not so sure about his ideas for the future of reading, writing, and books, I still found the ideas quite interesting throughout.

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