Friday, July 10, 2009

Singaporean Kevin Lim on CBC Business News: Examining eBooks

Friend and fellow Singaporean blogger, Kevin Lim, was interviewed by Canada's CBC Business News.

Kevin's blog post, here.

The first question was "Why are eBooks taking so long to turn mainstream?", i.e. why consumption/ sales of eBooks hasn't taken hold as fast as digital music/ video.

Kevin's response was essentially about User Experience. That the experience in consuming music and video is essentially the same if you watch from the big screen or from a DVD Vs. iPod or portable devices. Whereas the reading experience is vastly different if you read off a digital device Vs. a print copy.

I agree.

Though I'd add a claim.

That fewer people read for pleasure compared to listening to music or watching videos.

It is far effortless to listen to music and watch videos. So that makes it more popular.

Reading, as all readers know, takes more intellectual effort. You can't just 'read in the text' without churning words into meaning.

I'm not saying those who listen to music or watch videos are lazier than those who read.

I think it has to do with human evolution and biology.

Music (aural) and videos (visual) affect our human brains a much more direct way. Like, there's less conscious processing and effort involved. Whereas reading requires the brain to process text into language into ideas, concepts and meaning.

At least, that's what I think.

Oh. And now Kevin is probably a household name in Canada, eh? :)


  1. Thanks for the reblog. It's super being on Canadian national TV, despite me doing nothing more than having written a little on the subject, and being Google-able.

    Everyone's asking, "Why are ebooks taking so bloody long?".

    You've got it down, and there are a multitude of other reasons as well.

    All of us can feel why it is not the same, but few can explain it succinctly enough. As we each grasp to understand why, we all arrive at the same conclusion: It's simply not the same.

    To take it one step further, books are incredibly self-contained media, making it ultra-convenient to "consume".

    On the other hand, music and movies require us to load the specific media into a player, thus creating a chain of dependencies.

    I'm excited to explain because for the first time, bandwidth isn't the issue. It's the power of aesthetic experience.

  2. You know, I sense that it was with the launch of Amazon's Kindle that eBooks seem to have gotten greater attention. Or maybe Google's digitisation project had something to do with it as well, in terms of getting eBooks into people's consciousness. The level of awareness wasn't the same when say, NetLibrary was launched quite a few years back.

  3. True. These movements are interesting aren't they? I guess when brands get invested and turn it into something tangible, then the rest of society are able to understand and participate more readily. Especially the Kindle... that made ebooks sexy!


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