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Thread: The shape of things to come

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW
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    The shape of things to come

    Encyclopedia Brittanica ceases to exist as physical books:

    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/46725676/ns/today-books/

    caw

  2. #2
    Why is a raven like a writing desk? The Lonely One's Avatar
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    Eh. I don't think the market requires them to do this, but e-publishing is nothing new. And I do think it's legit. So, whatever they want to do is fine by me.
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  3. #3
    Learning more every day Pikabuddy's Avatar
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    Maybe I'm not thinking this through all the way, but how does Barnes and Noble manage to stay in business with the rise of e-books? I mean you can get the same book on Kindle in just a minute instead of having to drive all the way to the bookstore. Is it something about having the hardback in your hands?

  4. #4
    the original blond bombshell MaryMumsy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pikabuddy View Post
    Maybe I'm not thinking this through all the way, but how does Barnes and Noble manage to stay in business with the rise of e-books? I mean you can get the same book on Kindle in just a minute instead of having to drive all the way to the bookstore. Is it something about having the hardback in your hands?
    Not everyone has an e reader, or wants one. I don't want to read books on my computer. I still want a hardback book in my arthritic little hands.

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  5. #5
    Revolutionize the World kuwisdelu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pikabuddy View Post
    Maybe I'm not thinking this through all the way, but how does Barnes and Noble manage to stay in business with the rise of e-books? I mean you can get the same book on Kindle in just a minute instead of having to drive all the way to the bookstore. Is it something about having the hardback in your hands?
    Quote Originally Posted by MaryMumsy View Post
    Not everyone has an e reader, or wants one. I don't want to read books on my computer. I still want a hardback book in my arthritic little hands.
    And it's not like B&N doesn't sell ebooks too...

  6. #6
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I make half of my living making art books that people, museums, and schools put on shelves as library jewelry. I love e-books, really, but the analog version isn't going away.

    Remember when CD's came out, and everyone was in a rush to scrap their record players and old LPs? Now, vinyl is a boutique audio status symbol, the surviving records are vintage collectibles, and high-end players are coming into the market.

  7. #7
    Worst song played on ugliest guitar Libbie's Avatar
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    What Filigree said. Also, not all books are available on Ebooks. I recently wanted to start reading a YA series and found that only Book 3 onward was available as an Ebook. How does that make any sense?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    Encyclopedia Brittanica ceases to exist as physical books:

    http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/46725676/ns/today-books/

    caw
    This is where e-publishing has been king for years and years. It's where e-books shine brighter than the sun. Who wants to spend thousands on a set of books that takes up a mile of room, that's tough to search, when all you may want is one article every two months?

    I don't think prints books are going away for a long, long time, but paper encyclopedias? Absolutely outdated. Textbooks that cost two hundred bucks in paper, but only twenty on CD? Not much of a choice.

    Medical books and law books? Not even a contest.

  9. #9
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    Yes, yes and maybe, yes. But: Are all of these caveats about physical publishing headed toward the landfill? Bookstores are struggling, with one huge chain having gone belly-up late last year. Libraries are losing funding, everywhere. Hell, even physical telephone books are failing.

    caw

  10. #10
    Stand in the Place Where You Live KTC's Avatar
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    Nobody listened to me when, twenty years ago, I said that encyclopedias were a thing of the past. The last bastion of a civilization dying to end. The 50s and 60s were cigarettes, stubby beer bottle and encyclopedias. And clouds of hairspray. Nobody cares for big collections of dust collecting encyclopedias anymore. And no longer are there fierce muscle-bound door to door encyclopedia salesmen. They too have succumbed. Yet, we can’t get rid of the shower curtain ring salesmen. What’s up with that!?

    And what does a door to door e-encyclopedia salesman look like?
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  11. #11
    Sophipygian AW Moderator Alessandra Kelley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    This is where e-publishing has been king for years and years. It's where e-books shine brighter than the sun. Who wants to spend thousands on a set of books that takes up a mile of room, that's tough to search, when all you may want is one article every two months?

    I don't think prints books are going away for a long, long time, but paper encyclopedias? Absolutely outdated. Textbooks that cost two hundred bucks in paper, but only twenty on CD? Not much of a choice.

    Medical books and law books? Not even a contest.
    As a kid I spent hours reading encyclopedias, just picking out articles at random, seeing where they led me, what came next alphabetically, laying them out next to each other, comparing editions, finding out things I never would have thought to look for. I haven't yet seen an electronic encyclopedia that gives the reader that flexibility and freedom.

  12. #12
    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    I think it makes perfect sense for encyclopedias and other reference works to be digital rather than paper -- the whole point is to keep them up-to-date, which is much more easily done in the digital format.

    I also think it would be a good move to offer a paper edition as print-on-demand, for those who prefer it and are willing to pay the price.
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    practical experience, FTW Wiskel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alessandra Kelley View Post
    As a kid I spent hours reading encyclopedias, just picking out articles at random, seeing where they led me, what came next alphabetically, laying them out next to each other, comparing editions, finding out things I never would have thought to look for. I haven't yet seen an electronic encyclopedia that gives the reader that flexibility and freedom.
    The six degress of seperation "game" still exists, the links have just changed. For a print encyclopedia it's a game of articles which are alphabetically linked, or which pictures or random page catch the eye while flicking through the book. Now it's just internet links.

    Starting with the page about encyclopedias on wikipedia link one can take you to the page on Pliny the Elder who wrote one of the earliest encyclopedias...

    to Mount Vesuvius....his cause of death....

    to caldera.... because it's part of a volcano.....

    to Yellowstone National Park because it's a huge caldera..

    to "fire and brimstone" as a description used by an early explorer to describe the park...

    to a page about pimps because the page with "fire and brimstone" as a subtopic is a little biblical and also talks about ..ahem, "whoremongers"

    How the game is played might have changed but the experience of discovering knowledge by accident is still around. Encyclopedia to pimp via volcano could be a fun afternoon for any kid.

    Craig

  14. #14
    New kid, but no need to be gentle. KathleenD's Avatar
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    Biographies are another category I want in print until ereaders are more advanced and can show me the pictures.

    Oh, and endnotes. Any work with a lot of endnotes is just murder on the Kindle. I'm reading the new Heinlein biography right now, with its gazillion pages of notes at the end, and some of the best material is back there.

    Footnotes, too. To save my eyes I have the font size on my reader jacked to "See spot run" territory, and the programming hasn't advanced far enough for a footnote to show up on the page that the reader is seeing.

    On topic: I admit if I find an encyclopedia at a garage sale, I'll probably snag it. I know not to blindly trust Wikipedia, but my little guy doesn't get that yet. I'll also buy the Brittanica's online service. Note that it is 70 bucks versus 1400 for the books.
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  15. #15
    Engineer Sonneteer Norman D Gutter's Avatar
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    We bought a 1984 Encyclopedia Britannica set back in the early 90s, when our kids needed it for school in the pre-Internet era. To it I added the 1900 edition from my dad's estate. They look different and feel different. The 1984 version has more info on fewer pages, the 1900 version has no pictures. But I often go to the 1900 version in my historical research to understand what the world thought at that time. And, it's surprising how many of the entries are exactly the same, not a word changed in 84 years.

    So, it's not quite true that "Nobody cares for big collections of dust collecting encyclopedias anymore." But, there's really no reason for EB to keep publishing the print version if it won't make them money. Plus, the e-version will allow them to better compete with Wikipedia with something that will be viewed as more authoritative.

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alessandra Kelley View Post
    As a kid I spent hours reading encyclopedias, just picking out articles at random, seeing where they led me, what came next alphabetically, laying them out next to each other, comparing editions, finding out things I never would have thought to look for. I haven't yet seen an electronic encyclopedia that gives the reader that flexibility and freedom.
    I loved going through encyclopedias, too. But as a kid, I'll bet anything you didn't have to buy those unbelievably expensive encyclopedia sets, or find a place for them in your house.

    And kids today are as at home with Kindles, laptops, etc., as kids used to be with print books. They seem to find the same joy and wonder with a digital encyclopedia as I did with the incredibly expensive print version. For that matter, I love the digital version, as well.

    And it's a bless for anyone in college. So are digital textbooks of every sort. The average high school or college student carries more information in one hand than our pubic library contained forty years ago.

    I see no chance of print books vanishing. And that major bookstore chain Blacbird mentions would have gone out of business regardless of anything electronic. Experts in the field said it was doomed the day it opened. No business can long sustain such a poor business model.

    Libraries aren't going away, either. They've always had funding problems. The good ones, and the smart ones, are doing just fine, and even expanding. The lazy ones are still sitting around begging for public funding.

    Print books are still selling in the billions, but some types of print books are simply not as good as dgital books. They just aren't. I don't think many realize how many types of print books no longer exist not because of digital books, but because no one can afford to print them, or to buy them. A single book of the right type can cost hundreds of dollars in print, but not much more than pocket change in digital form.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by KathleenD View Post
    Biographies are another category I want in print until ereaders are more advanced and can show me the pictures.



    .

    This is what computers are for. Right now, you use an e-reader for low end, picture free books, but you use a laptop or a desktop if you want the pictures, and all the glory that goes with Encyclopedia Britannica.

    But e-readers are advancing fast, and it won't be long before they do as good a job with pictures as any desktop.

  18. #18
    Horror Man seun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    Libraries aren't going away, either. They've always had funding problems. The good ones, and the smart ones, are doing just fine, and even expanding. The lazy ones are still sitting around begging for public funding.
    I'll mention that to the staff in my library who've been laid off over the last couple of years. You know, all the lazy ones.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    Medical books and law books? Not even a contest.
    In what direction do you mean? Because I can't imagine browsing 1500 pages is any easier in digital form than in book form. I'd prefer the book form, personally.

  20. #20
    practical experience, FTW Wiskel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archerbird View Post
    In what direction do you mean? Because I can't imagine browsing 1500 pages is any easier in digital form than in book form. I'd prefer the book form, personally.
    During my medical training the most useful book I owned was the one designed to fit into the pocket of my white coat with a summary of most important conditions and their treatment. Since qualifying, the most useful book is the national formulary containing all medication doses, side effects and interactions.

    White coats are vanishing but the need to reference something at 3am on a busy ward isn't ever going away.

    Making medical books portable is a godsend.

    Craig

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Libbie View Post
    What Filigree said. Also, not all books are available on Ebooks. I recently wanted to start reading a YA series and found that only Book 3 onward was available as an Ebook. How does that make any sense?
    Very true. I am sometimes amazed when I can't get something for my Kindle.

    I am getting spoiled.

    I also sometimes buy the book if it's cheaper.


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  22. #22
    Lost in mental space. Namatu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    This is where e-publishing has been king for years and years. It's where e-books shine brighter than the sun. Who wants to spend thousands on a set of books that takes up a mile of room, that's tough to search, when all you may want is one article every two months?
    You're talking individuals users here, and what you've said is true for that scenario. People don't want to buy an encyclopedia set for their home anymore. They still have a place in libraries, though it's a shrinking place. Libraries are getting more selective in which reference works they choose to purchase in print and which will better serve their users in an electronic format. There are still some encyclopedias that libraries are buying in print. These tend not to be the general type of works like Encyclopedia Britannica and are more specialized, like an encyclopedia that surveys a particular field of study. That said, reference as a whole is now looking at the digital environment first when developing their new products. It has to be viable in an electronic format, often parsed into multiple digital products, so you'd have the e-book and chunks of information contributing to an online suite of references. Thus the one product contributes to the updating or revision of several other digital products. If the market indicates a print edition would be profitable, that's a bonus.

    I don't think prints books are going away for a long, long time, but paper encyclopedias? Absolutely outdated. Textbooks that cost two hundred bucks in paper, but only twenty on CD? Not much of a choice.
    A lot of textbooks are being sold as print and e-book bundles right now. Buy the bundle and you get the e-book for cheap. Like the rest of the industry, e-book sales of textbooks are on the rise, but the majority of sales remain in print. Once that changes, the price of e-books will rise.

  23. #23
    Zombie lovin' elindsen's Avatar
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    I don't think this is a sign that print books are losing ground. Those encyclopedias are expensive and with the internet so excessable it is a wonder this hasn't happened sooner.


  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archerbird View Post
    In what direction do you mean? Because I can't imagine browsing 1500 pages is any easier in digital form than in book form. I'd prefer the book form, personally.
    I haven't bought a law book in print in several years. All the law I need is online. I don't browse the penal code, but if I need to look something up, it's there at my fingertips via my Kindle and my laptop.
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    Why is a raven like a writing desk? The Lonely One's Avatar
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    I dunno. No one complains that cars don't come with 8-track players. They're outdated. And e-books are as easy to read as paper. They really, really are. If not much easier, considering you can pump up the text size to practically a word a page. To me there is no comparison to the crispest e-ink and a computer screen.

    A story: my literature teacher, as some literature teachers do, is afraid of the heretic machine I bring to class, because it isn't a "real book," and she continually takes jabs at me, saying "you're going to go blind reading that thing!" Really? Is that why the text is larger than the text in my ACTUAL TEXTBOOK? Which is like size 6 font double-columned?

    All that said, this is nothing new at all. When I was a young lad, maybe a decade and a half or so ago, encyclopedias were already on CD, a form of e-publishing. I don't see the big hooplah.

    Books will be around in physical form for some time to come.
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