Shawn has post over at Words and Other Things, asking for philosophical books to be available as searchable .pdfs. That made me think, and I came up with the following scenario that I would like to be true. It might not be possible in the year of James Bond, but few years in the future… maybe.
In the scenario we all have e-paper devices (something like this, this, this, or eventually something that looks like being actually made after 1990) with access to Internet. The device connects to a book provider, to which we pay e.g. $10 a month.
Using that device we are able to search and choose books, papers, to click through the references to get to other books, etc… and the pages of the books/papers will be then streamed (not fully downloaded) to this reader device.
The amount of money we pay, is then divided per time we spend reading each of the books. If half of the month I spend reading some book, it gets $5. If I read just few pages, but find out it is not for me, it gets just few cents.
If such system exist, even bloggers might be able to fit in! – the provider might not just provide philosophy books, but also serve philosophy blogs, and bloggers could be payed for providing content, that other people read through such service (according to the time spent). As a reader I would be glad if part of my money goes to those bloggers whose posts I spend lot of time reading.
Of course, this kind of service doesn’t have to be limited to philosophy books. It can be for books in general, but there is one problem for this kind of generalizing… Some books are very specialized, and doesn’t have as much readership as others, and thus might not provide return of investment if the $10 are divided to all kind of books. It seems more plausible for the system to work if people pay separately for different types of books (e.g. I will pay $10 monthly for access to philosophy books, and then separate $5 if I want access to fiction).
Maybe the price per category can be even calculated by some formula, so that more readership some category of books has, the less money the reader should pay for the service.