E-books vs Paper?

User avatar
kewms
Posts: 6744
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:22 pm
Platform: Mac

Wed Apr 18, 2007 2:22 am Post

Pipibluestockin wrote:Having all my books in one little item is my dream. I get very wistful about it everytime I have to pack up and move house. I'm sure everybody looks at their bookcase and thinks either a variation of "I'm going to die" or "the removalists will kill me".


Probably not, strangely enough. I spent the weekend house hunting and was amazed (and depressed) by how few books I saw. Granted, my own collection is at the other extreme, but all eight houses combined didn't equal my office library.

They all had very nice TVs, though. Sigh...

Katherine

Pi
Pipibluestockin
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:42 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Wed Apr 18, 2007 2:24 am Post

Lord Lightning wrote:There is an intriguing line of argument about e-books here: http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/?page=2


Brilliant stuff!

Thank you - my reply was delayed because I stopped to datamine the links (as you do).

I was merely wondering out loud about the debate - I didn't realise there was a frontline and the blogosphere was burning brightly on the subject.

St
Studio717
Posts: 376
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 6:27 pm
Location: California

Wed Apr 18, 2007 2:25 am Post

I just wanted to add that there are plenty of renewal sources of plant fibers to make paper out of - hemp comes to mind - so the industry doesn't have to use trees, it just does.

ha
hatsuyuki
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2007 4:26 pm

Wed Apr 18, 2007 6:02 am Post

I am indeed a great fan of ebooks. I do most of my private reading on a Palm TX now. Though I like to buy paper books and the readability of printed text is still better than on screen I would say I still prefer reading ebooks.
I can handle the Palm with one hand which helps a lot when I want to grab my coffee with my free hand and don't want to put it down to turn the page. I actually can put the device down without the cover flipping back over the page I am reading which I could not easily do with a paper book unless I broke it's spine. And I can't bear the thought of damaging a book. :-)
Another great advantage is that I can look up words with a single click. English is not my native language and so I often want to clarify the meaning of one word or another. But who wants to get up, grab the dictionary, look up a word, put it back, and resume reading?

Well I guess you might say those are smallish arguments, but they do make a difference to me. I am really putting my hopes in future technolgies to dramatically increase the ebook reading experience further. If I could get a device with a decent postcard sized screen I'd be overjoyed. In the meantime the TX is the best compromise in my opinion. :-)

Hu
Hugh
Posts: 2444
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 12:05 pm
Platform: Mac
Location: UK

Wed Apr 18, 2007 1:44 pm Post

Pipibluestockin wrote:
Hugh wrote:Pipibluestockin's point - "in a nutshell we do not have enough forests to meet future demand, therefore paper is going to become hideously expensive" - sounds to me decisive.

Tonight I'm due to attend a discussion about the future of the book with Margaret Atwood, Andrew O'Hagan and others, as part of the London Book Fair. I'm looking forward to be enlightened further.


Hugh, I'm envious - I would have liked to attend that discussion. Is there anyway you could post a potted report of the discussion?


The event was a public discussion at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank. The panel was Margaret Atwood, Andrew O'Hagan (author of the recently published Be Near Me), Stephen Page (CEO of publishers Faber and Faber) and Erica Wagner (literary editor of The Times), who chaired.

The key message I took from the panel was that the minute an e-book reader that is successful arrives, e-books will be everywhere. Paper will continue for a long time yet, in a "mixed economy", but e-books may increasingly take over the short-term, merchandising, "commodity" publishing roles where the book itself as an artifact is less important. A lot of the points already made in this thread were also highlighted.

Here are some quotes to give a flavour:

- "A book is like a message in a bottle, something that speaks very privately to you." (AO'H)

- "If we'd been in a discussion like this 2,000 years ago, we'd have been talking about the future of scrolls." (MA)

- "Reading a book is the most neurologically active thing you can do, apart from actually enjoying the experience itself, more than TV, a movie, even a play. The experience is going to be more profound when reading from paper." (MA)

- "We have to separate the book as an experience from the book as an object... There isn't an army of people in publishing holding on to the book as an object." (SP)

- "Copyright is at the centre of anxiety; it has to be protected." (SP)

- "The copyright question is not just a financial question for authors, agents and publishers, but also a matter of quality control... Editing - that is selection and presentation - is a craft, one of the greatest in the cultural world." (AO'H)

- "If you believe in the ideas of structure and form, throwing bits on the net is a disaster. The flip side is that new technologies have made the world entirely new... The real problem with technology is the search engine, which is wonderful except when dealing with a continuous narrative." (AO'H)

- "Whenever new technology hits, people are afraid of it. For example, reading for women was seen as dangerous because it was believed it would make their brains swell and their reproductive organs shrivel." (MA)

- "The key test of an e-book is 'Can you drop it in the bath?'." (EW)

- "What you really mean by a really good e-book is an e-book that is really like a book." (MA)

And finally, an aside from Stephen Page that I liked:

- "The arrival of the blog has relieved publishers of an enormous burden. We don't have to read all that stuff any more."

da
dafu
Posts: 564
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2007 1:33 am
Platform: Mac
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Wed Apr 18, 2007 4:43 pm Post

And finally, an aside from Stephen Page that I liked:

- "The arrival of the blog has relieved publishers of an enormous burden. We don't have to read all that stuff any more."


Hoo ha ha! Priceless!

Dave

Ma
Margaret
Posts: 72
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 3:52 am
Location: Southern Oregon

Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:50 pm Post

The question that has always troubled me about the electronic age is what happens if (or when) the power goes off? Everything that isn't printed out will be lost. Who would be able to figure out what ebooks were for, and even if they had an idea, would they be able to power them? And how long would the data stored on one last? Probably not long. A CD would have a longer lifetime, but someone would have to recognize that it held information and find a way to both read and decode it.

There's a lot to be said for printed books. Stone tablets, too.

Margaret

Pi
Pipibluestockin
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:42 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Wed Apr 18, 2007 11:57 pm Post

Hugh wrote:The key message I took from the panel was that the minute an e-book reader that is successful arrives, e-books will be everywhere. Paper will continue for a long time yet, in a "mixed economy", but e-books may increasingly take over the short-term, merchandising, "commodity" publishing roles where the book itself as an artifact is less important. A lot of the points already made in this thread were also highlighted.


Hugh - thank you so much for reporting back - not to mention gleaning so many quotes!

It sounds like it was a fascinating evening.

Cheers
Pipi

St
Studio717
Posts: 376
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 6:27 pm
Location: California

Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:06 am Post

Thanks for the recap, Hugh. It's always interesting to hear what those in charge of books (at least traditionally) think of the issue.

Margaret: I've long wanted to write a story about that called "The Day History Ended."

One of the reasons we even have a modern age is due to the (re)introduction of ancient Greek texts via the Arabic translations during the later Middle Ages into the Renaissance. What happens in the future when no one can read what would then be 'ancient texts'? Or even know they exist?

Already it's happening (albeit on a minor scale): I wrote my first published novel on a CPM machine that used 8-inch floppies. I still have them somewhere for 'archival' reasons, but soon those floppies will be as unaccessible as hieroglyphics were before the original Rosetta stone.

Online
User avatar
xiamenese
Posts: 4531
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:32 am
Platform: Mac
Location: London or Exeter, UK.

Thu Apr 19, 2007 1:23 am Post

Pipibluestockin wrote:Having all my books in one little item is my dream. I get very wistful about it everytime I have to pack up and move house. I'm sure everybody looks at their bookcase and thinks either a variation of "I'm going to die" or "the removalists will kill me".

Oh God no! Anything but that! A house without books is like a desert ... no it's not ... that's to insult deserts, which are really beautiful places!
My father died suddenly just as he and my mother were going to come back to the UK on home leave in a house that they had rented for the summer. There were no books in it. For two months, my mother, brother, his fiance/wife, my grandmother and I lived in that house, all of us rowing all day long.
Then some old family friends said they were going away for a month or so, and suggested that my mother should terminate the lease on where we were and we should go and live in their house while they were away.
It was full of books ... the arguing stopped immediately, and not because we all buried ourselves in reading. It was a home ...
A house without books is not a home ... And, Pipibluestockin, I'm sure that if ever you did move into a house without books, no matter how good your eBook reader, you would wish you had your books round you, no matter how burdensome they are when you have to move. :)
Mark

Pi
Pipibluestockin
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:42 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:17 am Post

xiamenese wrote:Oh God no! Anything but that! A house without books is like a desert ... no it's not ... that's to insult deserts, which are really beautiful places!

*snip*

A house without books is not a home ... And, Pipibluestockin, I'm sure that if ever you did move into a house without books, no matter how good your eBook reader, you would wish you had your books round you, no matter how burdensome they are when you have to move. :)
Mark


Sorry to upset you so much Mark.

I quite agree that a house *entirely* without books is a form of hell. As a teenager I learnt very fast not to accept babysitting jobs in book-free houses... dear god... *shudder* just not worth it.

I was writing in a form of shorthand because I know my situation. I live in a very small flat and I have poor impulse control when it comes to acquiring new books. I read copiously.

I'm still up to my knees in a house full of books even though I've been forced to cull. I'm down to references, non-fiction titles which are useful to me in some way and favourite fiction titles I can't live without. Looking around I can see that my next move will be just as burdensom as my last move.

Ebooks represent a solution to some of my problems regarding storage, space and moving.

Online
User avatar
xiamenese
Posts: 4531
Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:32 am
Platform: Mac
Location: London or Exeter, UK.

Thu Apr 19, 2007 4:20 am Post

Pipibluestockin wrote:Sorry to upset you so much Mark.

I quite agree that a house *entirely* without books is a form of hell. As a teenager I learnt very fast not to accept babysitting jobs in book-free houses... dear god... *shudder* just not worth it.

Ebooks represent a solution to some of my problems regarding storage, space and moving.

Fear not, you didn't upset me ... the events I related happened 40 years ago and what is of import, why I quoted them, was the fact that it brought home in a graphic way that the mere presence of books in a living environment, at least for those who have always been surrounded by books, transforms that environment in ways that profoundly affect the people occupying it, even if they don't actually spend all their time reading the books.
I am glad we actually agree, and also that you are not dreaming of abandoning all your books in exchange for a small electronic device! :)

Mark

Kh
Khadrelt
Posts: 361
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2006 1:22 pm
Platform: Mac
Location: Utah, USA
Contact:

Thu Apr 19, 2007 4:19 pm Post

Studio717 wrote:I've long wanted to write a story about that called "The Day History Ended."


Funny, but a friend of mine and I were talking about something similar not too long ago. We're collaborating on a book over the Internet, and I asked him to make sure he kept multiple backups of the book, as do I, just in case anything happened to the main copy.

He paused a second, and then said, "So...what would happen if a giant EMP or super magnetic storm or something hit Earth and totally wiped out every last bit of electronically-store data in the world?"

It was a sobering thought. At least the Bushmen wouldn't have to worry. :)

User avatar
kewms
Posts: 6744
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2007 5:22 pm
Platform: Mac

Thu Apr 19, 2007 4:45 pm Post

Khadrelt wrote:He paused a second, and then said, "So...what would happen if a giant EMP or super magnetic storm or something hit Earth and totally wiped out every last bit of electronically-store data in the world?"


*geek mode on*
Data stored on CD or DVD would probably survive an EMP. CD data isn't stored electronically, but as differences in the optical response of the media.

Some forms of nonvolatile memory are inherently radiation hardened and would probably also survive.
*geek mode off*

Whether you could find a computer that could read it is, of course, another matter.

But then, if something wiped out all the electronically-stored data on earth, we'd all have MUCH bigger problems than just resurrecting our manuscripts.

Katherine

User avatar
alexwein
Posts: 1063
Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2006 4:30 pm
Platform: Mac
Location: Ashland, Oregon, USA
Contact:

Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:18 pm Post

Yeah, but with paper books, at least we'd have a book to curl up with and forget for a while at least about how bad things were! :)
Inspiration is for amateurs...the rest of us just show up.
-Chuck Close
http://alexandriapallas.com