Typical liberal Luddite – in the true historic meaning of the term - Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) declared that the Apple iPad was responsible for unemployment. In a impassioned declaration supporting bookmakers and publishers he said, "Now Borders is closing stores because why do you need to go to Borders anymore? Why do you need to go to Barnes & Noble? Buy an iPad and download your newspaper, download your book, download your magazine. What becomes of publishing companies and publishing company jobs? What becomes of bookstores and libraries and all of the jobs associated with paper?"
Imagine if Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) was a political leader in the mid 15-th Century, he probably would have been working for the Church as it had all the power. His impassioned declaration would have read, "Now the monastery is closing because why do you need to have copyists? Why do you need to go to the Church or Town Square? Buy an Bible, or buy one of Luther’s books and read it yourself. What becomes of copyists, monks, Just think of all the quill maker jobs. What will the woodcarvers and their suppliers do?"
In the mid-15th century Johannes Gutenberg invented a mechanical way of making books. This was the first example of mass book production. Before the invention of printing, multiple copies of a manuscript had to be made by hand, a laborious task that could take many years. Later books were produced by and for the Church using the process of wood engraving. This required the craftsman to cut away the background, leaving the area to be printed raised. This process applied to both text and illustrations and was extremely time-consuming. When a page was complete, often comprising a number of blocks joined together, it would be inked and a sheet of paper was then pressed over it for an imprint. The susceptibility of wood to the elements gave such blocks a limited lifespan.
The result of Gutenberg’s invention was something called the Reformation. Without the printing press, the ideas of Luther, and later Calvin, would have been easily suppressed by Rome. The number of people who could read would have remained minimal, and the cost of creating a Library would have remained out of the reach of most small cities and villages. The printing press, and the generosity of industrialists like Carnegie, implementing new technology, has led to virtually every small town in the USA having a library, where the people could for free go and read books. Libraries cost the community, but the cost is minimal compared to the volume of information they provide. To use a library a person must take time, spend money on traveling, and provides limited access due to library hours, and is limited to the books on hand of a specific library. To create bound paper books uses large amounts of physical resources, paper, fuel, printing presses, etc. The printing press and resultant surge in libraries was a huge boon for all of society, but not so good for quill makers, wood carvers, and copyists, and hurt the control of the ruling elite.
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) is typical of liberals and socialists. They support unions who uniformly resist technological advances. In the US we make more automobiles than ever before. Ford, GM, Chrysler, Mercedes, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, BMW, KIA, Nissan, Subaru, and Telsa, produce a larger number of cars of better quality in the USA than ever before and with just a fraction of the people it used to take. One of the prime reasons Detroit is just a shadow of itself is because the unions gained significant power and authority over law makers and were able to stop car companies from modernizing because it would eliminate union jobs. The unions became so strong that if technology resulted in the elimination of a position on the assembly line the car company in Detroit had to keep the person employed, and literally had to pay employees to sit in a room and do nothing. This was a huge contributor to why they moved and built their new facilities anywhere but Detroit and Michigan. The Luddite resistance to technological advances was a major contributor to the fall of Detroit.
EBook readers are not new, originally called Cyber-Readers or Cybooks, they have been available for over a decade. It’s just taken a few years for them to be accepted by the public. Personally I’ve been surfing the web, editing documents, watching movies, and reading eBooks on my Palm TX for over 5 years. Although the interface is not as glitzy as the Ipad or new Android tablets, Apple and Google are just now producing products with the functionally, including reading eBooks, that the Palm TX has had since 2005. From a single point of origin, Mainz, Germany, printing spread within several decades to over two hundred cities in a dozen European countries. By 1500, printing presses in operation throughout Western Europe had already produced more than twenty million volumes. In about 50 years more books were produced then in all of human history before. It created the Publishing industry.
Today, like the printing press, eBooks offer even greater access to information massively less cost. The Gutenberg Project now has over 40,000 eBooks available in virtually any electronic format at no cost. Anybody with a Nook, Kindle, Palm, Ipad, Iphone, or other similar device has a huge world of information sitting in their hands. The benefits in savings in material resources and availability of knowledge to everybody at such minimal costs can only benefit society. Visit The Gutenberg Project or new models of publishing like that offered by Baen to see what eBooks have to offer, even for free. With the volume of “free” books available you would think that book sales would drop. In reality antique bound paper type book sales are down, but the sale eBooks which now out sell traditional books have more than made up the difference. Now for the price of three new hardback books, you can have instant access to tens of thousands of books for free.
The explosion of relatively inexpensive information that Gutenberg ushered in changed the world. EBooks, and the explosion of inexpensive information that hand held tablets, smart phones and the internet have made possible, are again changing the world. Changes in the way and the ease in which people can get information severally hamper the control ruling that elite have over the masses. Hillary Clinton famously remarked that their needed to be some kind of “gatekeeper” on news. She like the ruling elite in the past, want the rulers to have control over what and how the masses receive information.
What I have experienced is that that in the month after finally convincing my 19yr old son to read an eBook on my Palm T|X, he read 6 novels. I wanted my Palm back, so I gave him a Nook for his birthday. Since then the sound of the TV and video games is no longer the dominant noise in the house. The purchase of a cover for the Nook that gives it the “feel” of a real book actually increased its use. Raised in a reading house my sons almost always are reading a book or two, but the ease of use and ability to read a chapter or two before purchasing a eBook has dramatically expanded both the volume and variety of reading. My son’s old eight to ten book a year habit, is now a 30 to 40 book a year habit. His disposable income for reading has not increased, but his access to reading has. He’s found authors like Cory Doctorow, and others who are generally not available in either the library, and seldom in the big book stores. Doctorow has shown a model for publishing where literally giving his books away has resulted in significant sales increases of his books. His libertarian methodology of voluntary exchange without government or big business control of the transactions is a thorn in government and big business attempts to control who and what get’s published.
In 1980, prior to the internet, there is a book written by Bruce Bethke, that literally coined a name for an entire genre of books, titled “Cyberpunk.” In that era, publishers controlled what people could read, and what could be printed. This novel was purchased by a publisher via an exclusive contract which forbid Bethke from selling the novel to any other publisher. The publisher decided to not release the novel, causing several years of legal battles over the rights to the book. Bethke has a downloadable version of the novel available on his website. This is an example of how technology has taken control away from the ruling elite, in this case Publishers.
I find it odd that Democrats and liberals in general often refer to conservatives as Luddites. The behavior of liberals is clearly more Luddite than any other group. The Luddite socialism that dominates the Democratic Party is inherently selfish. It requires the rest of us have less and pay more, so particular individuals may continue to make money from old technology. They want the power to determine what technology the people are allowed to adopt. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his Washington brethren, think that artificially keeping the price of books and other information high to protect the jobs of publishers and printers is better for the people. If Washington Politicians truly cared about the people, they'd worry about the millions who like their eBook readers rather than the thousands who wield clubs, looking to smash the "infernal" machines. Never mind the new jobs of the people who make eBook readers, overpriced eBook covers, lights, and accessories.
Information technology is surpassing the ruling elite’s ability to control the people. Personally I believe that the Democrats are against modern eBooks and internet technologies because it severely limits how they can control the information the masses receive, and the Republicans won’t fight them on this because they are against eBooks and similar information technologies because these new technologies limit the profit they can make from selling information.