Thursday, July 26, 2007

Nevermind the Quality, Understand the Width

Charles Aurthur’s report in the Guardian is very interesting in both what it says but also some of the messages it coveys. He talks about the fact that the latest Harry Potter book is available via bittorrent over the net but that it only provides ‘blurry’ PDF page images and that to print these off, would cost as much as buying the book itself. However, people download it because they can and it didn’t effect sales. He concludes that he believes that books are one section of the media resistant to file-sharing.

The same argument could have been written in the early days of Naspter or Kazza when the quality of files was poor or inconsistent. Remember those early Amazon search inside images and those that weren’t even straight! Look at YouTube and the quality of some of the videos available but more importantly the impact the hand held video is now having in the professional arena. It’s not about file sharing, which is just the commercial or non commercial relationship. It is about online, versus physical and the delivery format, its about free to view versus pay to view. A book can be represented perfectly online and at relatively little cost and with much more functionality than in the physical world. Alternatively we can all find badly scanned PDFs of fax copies that are hard to read and in a font that is not appropriate for online reading.

Let’s get real, the internet is the best thing for all media. It offers new interest, diversity, rich information, easy access and is a great vehicle promotion and publicity. It even let you to touch people you never knew and who never knew you.

Today it is about marketing, publicity and promotion of the richest form of information – the book. It is also about engaging with the audience and linking the author and the reader in a virtual environment. We should drop our hang-ups about physical versus digital and embrace digital for what it can deliver today – more interest and more business.