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1. Kevin Kelly has a fabulous (as usual) post about the nature of a book. In essence, it’s a container for an idea.
The web isn’t/can’t be a book because it has no edges, no start, no finish. Crowdsourcing and comments and multimedia to infinity all take away something about a book’s nature. On the other hand, a book on the Kindle is clearly a book. Paper has nothing to do with it.
2. For 500 years, a book has been something that can be the work of a single individual, working hard, for perhaps a year. This is a huge element of what makes a book, a book. If I can write a book every day, the economics are different. If a book needs a producer and a director and a makeup guy and a bunch of technicians and a screenwriter… then it’s a movie/a project, it’s not a book.
The magical combination of [a big slice of a single author's time] with [this can be the vision of an individual] establishes the book as unique. Technology threatens both, in both directions. at the same time it opens up the opportunity to make a book available to more people than ever before.