Here’s a first for me. I received an email overnight from Amazon telling me that I can update the Kindle version of the book, Steve Jobs, by Walter Issacson [My review; my shared highlights and notes made while reading the book].
Here’s an excerpt from the strangely worded (why are they “happy” to admit the previous version was wrong?):
We are happy to announce that an updated version of your past Kindle purchase of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is now available. The version you received had image and caption layout issues that have been corrected.
You can receive the new version by replying to this email with the word “Yes” in the first line of your response. Within 2 hours, any device with an active wireless connection that is registered to your account and that has the eBook currently downloaded will be updated automatically.
In order to ensure that your notes, highlights, bookmarks and furthest reading location are retained in the new version, please check to see that all of your devices that you have used to read this book are connected to a network and that their Annotations Backup settings are turned on. For help with modifying settings, go to http://www.amazon.com/
kindlesupport and check the help pages for the devices or applications you are using.
As I heavily annotated my version of the book (and made those notes public if you follow me on Kindle.Amazon.com), I’m glad to know that my backing them up actually has a reason.
While we are all used to automatic updates to apps, I wonder what the ability to issue updated versions of books could do to that medium. While for some books (the reference kind, especially), having ongoing updates would perhaps be a good thing. However, permanence is one of the characteristics of the medium called a book; will permanence be a characteristic we will not associate with eBooks?.
As printed books go through editions, typo corrections and the type of fixes in this update have precedent in the printed world.
However, if the content changes significantly (for example, if a chapter were added that reported on Jobs death), then it would need to be called something other than an “edition” or even an “update.”
This is an area where the technology may be outpacing our understanding of its impact on the role of books, time and context.