I spend a lot of time on my laptop. Too much time? Don’t know, don’t care. C’est la vie (moderne), etc. But what does irk me is that I’m stuck reading dry journalistic reporting most of the time. I’m not asking, as Ginsberg once did, to walk into a supermarket and buy what I want with my good looks. I just want an iTunes for books.

Adrian Drury at Paid Content: U.K. says I should be careful what I wish for. He tells the tale of industries eager for an online platform, only to be given one by Apple, and woosh! After Apple takes their cut, and then the industry takes theirs, there is precious little left for the artists themselves. People say musicians have made their living by touring more, but slammin’ music shows draw crowds that books signings don’t, at present anyway…

The publishing industry is coming around to charge for content as we speak. The Times of London has scrapped their old, free website and now their content sits behind a paywall. The New York Times is gearing up to do the same, and everyone is watching to see what will happen.

To date, people have not adjusted to reading longer creative works online. Admittedly, I cannot imagine reading a long novel online either, but that’s because I have a shallow imagination. The other week, when I set out to read a novel on my computer, none of the books I had on my mental list were available for download to my PC. There were plenty of self-published accounts of this and that, and I read a few of those, but none had sufficient length and the quality of the writing was wanting.

Perhaps Google will give readers like me access to some good books before Apple does. La Repubblica, a daily newspaper out of Italy, reports that Google is working to create a system called Newspass where users can search and access news information that sits behind paywalls. Google says it is “uniquely positioned to help publishers create a scalable e-commerce system via our Checkout product and also enable users to find this content via search—even if it’s behind a paywall.”

So why don’t publishers get on board?

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, user KoS.