Every year, an estimated tens of thousands of books are written and published. This vast array of literature, while a testament to the richness of human creativity and knowledge, can pose a daunting challenge for readers. Finding the right book among countless choices can often feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. Moreover, the reality is that we're not always successful in picking the best book that aligns with our current interests or learning objectives. The goal, instead, turns into finding a book that is 'good enough', mirroring the process of selecting a meal from a multitude of choices, a choice that can fluctuate throughout the day and from day to day. This is similar to our reading preferences, which can also change, albeit on a longer timeframe.
The most common avenues for acquiring books are well-known, with Kindle commanding a significant 90% share of the ebook market, by some accounts. Other major players include Apple iBooks, Google Play Store books, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo, which collectively cater to the remaining 10% readership. Beyond these giants, there are medium-sized companies that have carved out a niche in the market.
The fascinating aspect of the book industry is the role of copyright. As the author of a book, you retain the copyright, which can either be exercised or the book can be released into public domain. The concept of copyright can be complex. A copyright book can either be sold for a price or distributed for free, as per the author's prerogative. On the other hand, a book in the public domain is free to be copied, shared, modified, and essentially used in any way a reader wishes.
The cost of a book and its copyright status are two distinct elements that are often conflated. A free book doesn't necessarily mean it's not copyrighted. The cost to the reader can be influenced by various factors. For instance, the author may choose to freely distribute their copyrighted book, or a third party may acquire the distribution rights and give away the book for free, thereby gaining notoriety and credibility. In such scenarios, the author retains the copyright and may still be fairly compensated.
Most people, uninterested in the fine print, are unaware of the restrictions associated with ebooks. Violating a book's copyright is not typically a severe offense, unless it's on a large scale. The confusion arises when lending ebooks, especially on platforms like Kindle. When you purchase an ebook, you're essentially buying a license to read the book, not the book itself. This restricts your ability to share the book with others. To mitigate this, Amazon introduced a feature that allows you to lend a Kindle book, temporarily removing it from your library. Despite this workaround, the restrictions associated with ebooks have led many readers to prefer hardcover or softcover books, which come with no such limitations.
The limitations associated with ebooks resonate with the current movement towards ownership and control, as seen in the rise of cryptocurrencies. Just as fiat currency can be seized, the licenses for ebooks can be revoked, leading to the removal of all books from one's library. This risk has led many to favor platforms that offer ownership. iChatBook is one such platform that integrates public domain books and books where the copyright distribution has been permitted. It also allows users to upload their own books, ensuring the authors' rights are respected, and no copyright violations occur.