PDA

View Full Version : Impact of the Rise of eBooks on the Lower Classes



Rhoda Nightingale
09-22-2011, 06:22 AM
Seanan McGuire has written a blog post on an aspect of the advent of eBooks that I hadn't previously considered, and now I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't:


It is sometimes difficult for me to truly articulate my reaction to people saying that print is dead. I don't want to be labeled a luddite, or anti-ebook; I love my computer, I love my smartphone, and I love the fact that I have the internet in my pocket. [. . .] This doesn't change the part where, every time a discussion of ebooks turns, seemingly inevitably, to "Print is dead, traditional publishing is dead, all smart authors should be bailing to the brave new electronic frontier," what I hear, however unintentionally, is "Poor people don't deserve to read."

Full blog post can be read here (http://seanan-mcguire.livejournal.com/390067.html).

Thoughts?

blacbird
09-22-2011, 09:46 AM
So having less money translates for you to "lower class"?

caw

Polenth
09-22-2011, 10:15 AM
It sums up my basic reaction to people saying print is dead. I grew up reading a lot of library books and second hand books. For a chunk of my childhood, we didn't have a phone. Even if the internet had been the way it is now, we wouldn't have had online access. Digital stuff does have many more barriers.

virtue_summer
09-22-2011, 10:22 AM
"lower class" is a term with multiple meanings. One is in reference to manners: "That is such a low class thing to do! She has no class." The other is in regard to economic status. It has to do with the view of an economic ladder. The higher classes are the ones who are higher up on economic scale.

Anyway, I think a lot of the points made in that post were good ones. I bought most of my books secondhand growing up because I couldn't afford many new ones, and I don't have an ebook reader, nor does anyone I know, because they are so expensive. If books are important to educate society and are to be as accessible to that society as possible, then they shouldn't depend on ownership of an expensive electronic device (ebook reader, computer, etc). It's not to say there's no place for ebooks, but the idea of them becoming a blatant replacement for traditional books is definitely a step backwards, in my opinion. Over the years books have become more available to people at various economic levels and I think that's a good thing we don't want to change.

kuwisdelu
09-22-2011, 10:31 AM
IMO, it seems to me more of a "OEMs should produce more affordable e-readers" problem than a "poor people don't deserve to read" problem.

That said, I don't really think it's anything to worry about, as I don't think print books will really be going anywhere for a while. I still buy vinyls after all. ...though iTunes does tend to be much cheaper...

blacbird
09-22-2011, 10:41 AM
"lower class" is a term with multiple meanings. One is in reference to manners: "That is such a low class thing to do! She has no class." The other is in regard to economic status. It has to do with the view of an economic ladder. The higher classes are the ones who are higher up on economic scale.

It may be a digression, but the term "class" is far more than a matter of possession of wealth, historically. It derives from the days of strict aristocratic hierarchies, and is still applied as such in Britain and elsewhere. In Britain, the term "working class" referred, pejoratively, to people who actually had to labor for their daily bread, as opposed to the "idle rich", who simply had money, and whose biggest problem was what to do to entertain their daily lives. Victorian literature is mostly populated by the latter and their awful angst, with the exceptions of Dickens and Gissing and a few others who actually had the gall to present "lower class" people as human beings with desires and vices and hopes and dreams, just like the "upper class" people had.

caw

epublishabook
09-22-2011, 10:41 AM
I read somewhere that public libraries, using Cloud Library eBook Lending Service, are now moving towards renting out ebooks- some together with e-reading device. That should enable each and everyone to access e-books, regardless of their economic status.

blacbird
09-22-2011, 10:44 AM
I read somewhere that public libraries, using Cloud Library eBook Lending Service, are now moving towards renting out ebooks- some together with e-reading device. That should enable each and everyone to access e-books, regardless of their economic status.

And public libraries are finding their budgets increasingly squeezed by other public needs. Ours have slashed hours of operation and staff dramatically in the past couple of years, and those cuts are almost certain to continue and increase. Icky poor people tend to hang out at the libraries. What else should you expect?

caw

gothicangel
09-22-2011, 11:41 AM
I've got news for him. Class wise, I would be deemed working class [currently working for minimum wage] and I own a Sony Reader . . . but still prefer buying print books.

stephenf
09-22-2011, 01:08 PM
I read the blog.I believe it is just a ramble of half understood ideas forming links between things that are unconnected.I don't believe the e-book will have any impact on the any class of person.Except writers.The E-book is actually a conventional book using a different media.The conventional ,liner, method of story telling is coming to an end.With the tablet and other small transportable computers ,some costing not much more than a good electronic book,there is a much more exiting and faster form of story telling that will send the old book form to,the history book?

James D. Macdonald
09-22-2011, 03:13 PM
In order to read an ebook you must have a credit card.

Are there people who can't get credit cards? Yes.

pangalactic
09-22-2011, 04:03 PM
I read the blog.I believe it is just a ramble of half understood ideas forming links between things that are unconnected.I don't believe the e-book will have any impact on the any class of person.Except writers.The E-book is actually a conventional book using a different media.The conventional ,liner, method of story telling is coming to an end.With the tablet and other small transportable computers ,some costing not much more than a good electronic book,there is a much more exiting and faster form of story telling that will send the old book form to,the history book?

And what about those people who literally can't afford one of these 'cheap' computers or ereaders? For a few years I had to choose between heating my house and washing my clothes, or feeding myself. Book-swaps and library sales were my lifeline (as well as writing down the stories in my head). If there were no print books I may actually have gone mad.

stephenf
09-22-2011, 04:27 PM
In order to read an ebook you must have a credit card.

Are there people who can't get credit cards? Yes.


I think the the whole debate is pointless .But just to answer the question. There are plenty of web sites were you can down load books for free.In fact, once you have made the initial investment ,you can very easily recoup the cost of the reader. There is a vast quantity of, out of print and once expensive books available .

stephenf
09-22-2011, 04:44 PM
And what about those people who literally can't afford one of these 'cheap' computers or ereaders? For a few years I had to choose between heating my house and washing my clothes, or feeding myself. Book-swaps and library sales were my lifeline (as well as writing down the stories in my head). If there were no print books I may actually have gone mad.

Most people have to make decisions about their priorities.
The point I was making,badly, was .E-readers are already out of date . Story telling and information gathering is moving away from the conventional book ,including the e-reader .

Amadan
09-22-2011, 04:50 PM
I think she has a point in that people who can afford the Internet and ereaders and have credit cards blithely assume that the whole world lives in an environment like theirs.

That said, it's not as if print books are going to disappear, ever. Even if print publishing ceases for all but niche markets (which won't happen for a long time), books will still be around.

Alessandra Kelley
09-22-2011, 05:16 PM
I think the the whole debate is pointless .But just to answer the question. There are plenty of web sites were you can down load books for free.In fact, once you have made the initial investment ,you can very easily recoup the cost of the reader. There is a vast quantity of, out of print and once expensive books available .

Recouping costs is only relevant to people who have or can scrape together the money for a computer or ereader in the first place. Plenty of people can never manage that initial cost, no matter how economical it may be in the long run.

swvaughn
09-22-2011, 05:34 PM
I think she has a point in that people who can afford the Internet and ereaders and have credit cards blithely assume that the whole world lives in an environment like theirs.


Definitely.

I've been at the kind of poor she talks about. I'm still very, very close to the line, and I don't know if it's ever going to be behind me.

I do know that I will never forget what it's like to be that poor -- and with that knowledge, I can say unequivocably yes, poor people aren't going to be reading ebooks. And I say this as a person who writes for more than one primarily ebook publisher.

"Initial investment" to people in situations like this just doesn't even compute. There is no investing. There is praying you can somehow scrape enough money together to keep from having the electricity shut off next month, or to keep from getting kicked out when you can't make the rent / mortgage payment, or to keep your car going and/or filled with gas for just one more week, or month, or year.

And no amount of people telling you to "just stop being poor" or "make better decisions" is going to help.

John Scalzi and the 400+ commenters on this post say it much better than me: Being Poor (http://whatever.scalzi.com/2005/09/03/being-poor/)

crunchyblanket
09-22-2011, 05:34 PM
I can't afford an e-reader. They're too expensive. I buy most of my books second-hand, or get them from the library. To me, talk about 'initial investment' is ludicrous. I don't want to invest over £100 of money I don't have when I can buy a second hand book for a couple of quid and enjoy it just the same.

happywritermom
09-22-2011, 05:40 PM
Regardless of whether print books survive, the author makes a valid point about ignorance.
I find it hard to believe that anyone could read that post and still think that ebooks can in any way be made readily available to those living in poverty.
E-readers will get stolen. Computers will get stolen and if you are so poor that you are sucking ketchup out of the packets in McDonald's to settle your stomach, then how the heck are you going to afford internet access anyway?
And what about the rural poor? Many can't get transportation to the county seat to apply for Medicaid. How are they going to get to the nearest library to read an ebook?
No. Print books are not going to disappear, but it's always good for writers to have empathy, to have an understanding of the world that surrounds them. The author of this blog is trying to bring about some of that understanding.

kuwisdelu
09-22-2011, 05:45 PM
In order to read an ebook you must have a credit card.

Are there people who can't get credit cards? Yes.

That's not true. You can buy a gift card to the iBookstore in cash and use the gift card. Does a B&N gift card not work on a Nook? (I don't know, but if it doesn't, that's pretty weird.)

veinglory
09-22-2011, 05:52 PM
I am surprised that people think physical books are going away anyway. Seem like the only reason that would happen is if/when ebook become fully substitutable. The cause and effect is the other way around.

kuwisdelu
09-22-2011, 05:54 PM
I am surprised that people think physical books are going away anyway. Seem like the only reason that would happen is if/when ebook become fully substitutable. The cause and effect is the other way around.

Hell, we still have newspapers, and they've been obsolete for about a decade.

iRock
09-22-2011, 06:06 PM
Let them read paperbacks.

Phaeal
09-22-2011, 06:09 PM
Print is pretty expensive, too, if you're catsup-sucking poor. Me, I've moved up to the Grey Poupon-sucking class (I can get these packets for free in the work cafeteria) and I still hesitate to buy new hardcovers. I would similarly hesitate to buy ebooks that are nearly as expensive as discounted print.

I imagine that if "E" becomes all, the readers will drop dramatically in price and libraries will work out a feasible lending plan. I'm not expecting this consummation any time soon, though.

Meanwhile, I'm contacting Marvel with my idea for their next movie project: "X-Men versus E-Book!" I can already see it, Wolverine diving through a Starbucks skylight and impaling two Kindles at once! Graaaaawr!

kuwisdelu
09-22-2011, 06:17 PM
Print is pretty expensive, too, if you're catsup-sucking poor.

Free books for everyone?

Government grants for authors?

scarletpeaches
09-22-2011, 06:19 PM
In order to read an ebook you must have a credit card.

Are there people who can't get credit cards? Yes.Really? Well explain the fact I have 400+ ebooks and have never owned a credit card in my life.

Bubastes
09-22-2011, 06:28 PM
Print is pretty expensive, too, if you're catsup-sucking poor.

You can find cheap/free print books at book swaps, garage sales, library sales, generous friends' bookshelves, maybe even on park benches if you're lucky. Not so with e-books. I love both e-books and print books, but I find print books much easier to share. I donate and give away books rather freely when I'm done reading them, so I still buy a fair number of print books.

Phaeal
09-22-2011, 06:40 PM
You can find cheap/free print books at book swaps, garage sales, library sales, friends' bookshelves, maybe even on a park bench if you're lucky. Not so with print. I love both e-books and print books, but I find print books much easier to share with others.

I have tons of used books and continue to buy them despite the GREAT BEDBUG SCARE.* I already deal with the GREAT BOOK LICE SCARE by deep-freezing used books for a few weeks. Could be this doesn't work**, but hey, it soothes the bug-phobic housemates.



* Yes, like book lice, bedbugs are literate, with broad variation in their preferred genres. Not even first person present tense experimental epic proem novels about abstruse mathematical theorems are safe.

** Though I understand that the supposedly indestructible cockroaches won't survive the zombie apocalypse in cold climates, because they require winter heating and, of course, zombies don't. Also, ground cockroach is a lovely condiment for fresh braaaaiiiins.

scarletpeaches
09-22-2011, 06:52 PM
Libraries are free. They even let poor people use them!

Medievalist
09-22-2011, 07:39 PM
In order to read an ebook you must have a credit card.

Are there people who can't get credit cards? Yes.

You don't need a credit card.

All you need is a library card.

My library lends out Kindles and iPods; so do a bunch of other libraries. Moreover via OverDrive and the use of free Kindle and OverDrive and other apps that read ePub and .pdf formats you can download and borrow ebooks from thousands of public libraries and read them on any number of devices and pretty much any computer running Windows, Linux or Mac OS.

They also lend audio books and players for them.

Medievalist
09-22-2011, 07:45 PM
Seanan McGuire is well-intentioned, but naïve.

Print is not dead, nor is it dying. That's an idiotic red herring.

Libraries are in danger.

But I'm not worried nearly as much about people not having something to read as I am about the fact that there are so many homeless, many with children, who are far more in need of food and shelter and clothing.

They can get books for free; what they need are jobs and homes and food.

This year I'm seeing a lot more women with young children and no home and no job.

IsisAnalysis
09-22-2011, 07:53 PM
No James, you don't need a credit card.

All you need is a library card.

My library lends out Kindles and iPods; so do a bunch of other libraries. Moreover via OverDrive and the use of free Kindle and OverDrive and other apps that read ePub and .pdf formats you can download and borrow ebooks from thousands of public libraries and read them on any number of devices and pretty much any computer running Windows, Linux or Mac OS.

They also lend audio books and players for them.

That's good news if you have a library, or can reach one. But libraries, or rather municipalities, are under a lot of financial pressure right now, and an awful lot seem to see closing libraries as a good way to cut spending.

I grew up poor, and the absolute worst, most blighted year of my childhood without compare is the year my parents moved to a town without a library. Until then we had always had one nearby. It may be a coincidence that it was also the first town we had ever lived in without a large body of water nearby. But lord, I hated that place.

Even the school library was a joke. The elementary grades had a decent, small assortment of books. But in the high school, which was where my reading level was, if not my grade, the library was -- wait for it: two sets of encyclopedias and ten thousand join-the-army-pamphlets.

The only books for sale in town were mass market paperback collections of newspaper comics on a rack in the general store.

I read those encyclopedias, and I poked around and read every old book in the attic of the old house we inhabited ("McKinley: Our Martyred President", "Honeybunch: Her First Days on the Farm"). I found a neighbor with a complete collection of Doc Savage books and inhaled them. I read mouldering comic books from boxes in the barn.

I could never have afforded an ereader, and I had no way of reaching any library. Physical books were my only consolation in the desolation of poverty.

Cyia
09-22-2011, 07:55 PM
I think the the whole debate is pointless .But just to answer the question. There are plenty of web sites were you can down load books for free.In fact, once you have made the initial investment ,you can very easily recoup the cost of the reader. There is a vast quantity of, out of print and once expensive books available .

You have no idea what you're talking about in relation to the article above. Poverty, real poverty as opposed to "mom won't buy me the shoes I want, but got me these instead", means there is no money to be recouped, because there is no money to put out in the first place. Money is gone before it ever hits your hand.

Poverty is Mom and Dad are gone before dawn and home after the kids are in bed, send the kids to school with a 103 fever and tell them to leave after lunch so they don't starve that day, wearing worn out clothes the other kids at school recognize from what they tossed out of their own closets, four kids share a bowl of milk and eat their cereal one at a time with a fork - when there's no milk, you use water, if it hasn't been turned off.

Poverty is hocking assigned devices from school because you'd rather tell a teacher you lost it than hear your baby sister crying because she's hungry.

There's no phone, no car, no TV, no computer, and certainly no e-readers or devices that could read e-books. Even if there were, you couldn't use them because they require power, and you don't have the money to run anything but maybe the fridge and an hour of heat if it's below zero at night.

Poverty is painful, and there's no wiggle room for wants when needs aren't met.



That's not true. You can buy a gift card to the iBookstore in cash and use the gift card. Does a B&N gift card not work on a Nook? (I don't know, but if it doesn't, that's pretty weird.)

Not if you don't have money, you can't. If you have the 5-10 extra bucks to buy a card, you're likely above the poverty line.


Print is pretty expensive, too, if you're catsup-sucking poor.

Which is why second hand books or the freebie bin at the library are such a value to people with no money.

Prisoner24601
09-22-2011, 07:57 PM
Honestly? While her heart's in the right place, I think she's fretting about something that's probably not going to happen. (And the people in the comments worried that somehow public libraries are going to be turned over to giant evil corporations to run them are fretting about something even sillier.)

I really highly doubt that e-books are going to destroy the entire print books, destroy the public library system or somehow wipe out all of the used books already floating around out there at garage sales, thrift stores, secondhand shops and used book stores. And I really don't get how people being excited for the way e-books are growing are saying "we don't give a crap about poor people."

I dunno. It seemed like a lot of well intentioned social justice hand wringing over something that's extremely unlikely to be an issue.

Alessandra Kelley
09-22-2011, 08:10 PM
Honestly? While her heart's in the right place, I think she's fretting about something that's probably not going to happen. (And the people in the comments worried that somehow public libraries are going to be turned over to giant evil corporations to run them are fretting about something even sillier.)

I really highly doubt that e-books are going to destroy the entire print books, destroy the public library system or somehow wipe out all of the used books already floating around out there at garage sales, thrift stores, secondhand shops and used book stores. And I really don't get how people being excited for the way e-books are growing are saying "we don't give a crap about poor people."

I dunno. It seemed like a lot of well intentioned social justice hand wringing over something that's extremely unlikely to be an issue.

Ebooks aren't going to destroy libraries. But libraries are expensive to maintain. Local governments looking for savings have already shown their willingness to fire librarians, cut hours, and close libraries.

Without continued public investment in libraries, libraries shut down. Public libraries are a vital element of democracy.

happywritermom
09-22-2011, 08:12 PM
The author isn't fretting.
The author isn't debating.
The author is simpy giving us a new perspective.
Why is that so hard for some people to swallow?

AlwaysJuly
09-22-2011, 08:16 PM
I think e-books are going to be in addition to, not in replacement of, print books. I know they are in my life. There are advantages to both that make it seem unlikely to me one will supplant the other anytime soon.

I'll worry about e-readers being the exclusive reading device when I see those flying cars I've been waiting on since I was a kid...

kuwisdelu
09-22-2011, 08:20 PM
Not if you don't have money, you can't. If you have the 5-10 extra bucks to buy a card, you're likely above the poverty line.

If that's the case, you wouldn't be able to afford print books either, anyway. That's what libraries are for. If the libraries are struggling, that is a problem, but I would think it's a problem independent of the existence of ebooks.

IsisAnalysis
09-22-2011, 08:20 PM
I really highly doubt that e-books are going to destroy the entire print books, destroy the public library system or somehow wipe out all of the used books already floating around out there at garage sales, thrift stores, secondhand shops and used book stores. And I really don't get how people being excited for the way e-books are growing are saying "we don't give a crap about poor people."

The problem with relying on used books floating around out there is you don't have any choice about what you luck into to read. See my above remarks. If I had had any choice, I would have never read what I did read. I would have preferred Isaac Asimov to Doc Savage, FDR to William McKinley, Roald Dahl to Honeybunch, 1890s encyclopedias to 1970s encyclopedias. But what showed up was all there was, and I had no choice.

That's the awful thing about being poor with no access to libraries. There's no choice about what there is to read. It's just whatever shows up in the church donation bins or whatever.

Ebooks are beyond the reach of so many people. Sure, they're exciting. But they are no substitute for a healthy, thriving public library system swimming in masses of all different sorts of books.

Medievalist
09-22-2011, 08:21 PM
The author isn't fretting.
The author isn't debating.
The author is simply giving us a new perspective.
Why is that so hard for some people to swallow?

Well partly because the author is, without meaning to, writing from a position of privilege.

Honestly, worrying about print books disappearing so the "lower class" or those in "poverty" can't read books is a little, well, daft.

Having money for food, or hoping you have enough gas to get to yet another job interview, or trying to figure out how to avoid the landlord when you're behind on rent are far more pressing concerns than having a book to read.

IsisAnalysis
09-22-2011, 08:21 PM
If that's the case, you wouldn't be able to afford print books either, anyway. That's what libraries are for. If the libraries are struggling, that is a problem, but I would think it's a problem independent of the existence of ebooks.

Not if town governments use the availability of ebooks as an excuse to slash library funding.

IsisAnalysis
09-22-2011, 08:23 PM
Having money for food, or hoping you have enough gas to get to yet another job interview, or trying to figure out how to avoid the landlord when you're behind on rent are far more pressing concerns than having a book to read.

We-ell, yes. But books do make life a little less bleak. I speak from experience, as one who has been a homeless child and spent more than one season in a tent.

Medievalist
09-22-2011, 08:26 PM
We-ell, yes. But books do make life a little less bleak. I speak from experience, as one who has been a homeless child and spent more than one season in a tent.

Books are pretty easy to come by.

I can, off the top of my hand, think of three places I can walk to that have free books--not counting the two libraries that are in walking distance which have giveaway books as well as the lending collection.

But on my way walking to any of those free books, I'll pass a variety of people who are homeless, some on meth, many just out of luck/jobs/money, and quite a few single moms holding a kid or two by the hand as they line up at the food bank.

Cyia
09-22-2011, 08:27 PM
If that's the case, you wouldn't be able to afford print books either, anyway. That's what libraries are for. If the libraries are struggling, that is a problem, but I would think it's a problem independent of the existence of ebooks.

Exactly.

scarletpeaches
09-22-2011, 08:37 PM
Having money for food, or hoping you have enough gas to get to yet another job interview, or trying to figure out how to avoid the landlord when you're behind on rent are far more pressing concerns than having a book to read.Unless it's Swindling the Landlord for Dummies.

kuwisdelu
09-22-2011, 08:37 PM
Not if town governments use the availability of ebooks as an excuse to slash library funding.

But that doesn't really make any more sense than their using the availability of cheap paperbacks as an excuse to slash library funding. Ebooks aren't the real issue, just a red herring.

Prisoner24601
09-22-2011, 08:50 PM
Ebooks aren't going to destroy libraries. But libraries are expensive to maintain. Local governments looking for savings have already shown their willingness to fire librarians, cut hours, and close libraries.

Without continued public investment in libraries, libraries shut down. Public libraries are a vital element of democracy.

Right. And why is public investment in libraries in jeopardy? Because the economy is in the toilet and because state and local funding is trouble because the tax base is drying up. They have to lay off workers, cut resources, etc... just like the private sector has. Not because of e-books.

So it seems the problem here aren't e-books but library funding. Which is something that's not going to improve unless 1) the economy straightens out (and thus the tax base improves) and/or 2) we find another way to fund them.

(Also, I have to say that libraries, as much as I love them, are not a vital element of democracy, as democracies have been in existence long before the public library system.)

Amadan
09-22-2011, 08:51 PM
Not if town governments use the availability of ebooks as an excuse to slash library funding.

Do you know of any towns doing this? That sounds silly.


Books are pretty easy to come by.

I can, off the top of my hand, think of three places I can walk to that have free books--not counting the two libraries that are in walking distance which have giveaway books as well as the lending collection.

But on my way walking to any of those free books, I'll pass a variety of people who are homeless, some on meth, many just out of luck/jobs/money, and quite a few single moms holding a kid or two by the hand as they line up at the food bank.

Okay, that's true and all, but are you saying nobody should be concerned about libraries while there are people starving? Because I've never seen the game of Which Causes Are Worthy of Attention end well.

Prisoner24601
09-22-2011, 09:01 PM
The problem with relying on used books floating around out there is you don't have any choice about what you luck into to read. See my above remarks. If I had had any choice, I would have never read what I did read. I would have preferred Isaac Asimov to Doc Savage, FDR to William McKinley, Roald Dahl to Honeybunch, 1890s encyclopedias to 1970s encyclopedias. But what showed up was all there was, and I had no choice.

That's the awful thing about being poor with no access to libraries. There's no choice about what there is to read. It's just whatever shows up in the church donation bins or whatever.

Ebooks are beyond the reach of so many people. Sure, they're exciting. But they are no substitute for a healthy, thriving public library system swimming in masses of all different sorts of books.

But having limited choices about what you can read when you're poor is nothing new or something that's caused by the increase in e-books. I mean grew up in the 80's and we were poor (like our house had no furnace and I lived in Michigan poor). Most of the books that I got were either gifts from relatives or from the public library when I could get down there (which back then didn't have the inter library loan systems) or used books. So I was pretty much at the mercy of the tastes of other people including librarians, or random chance - and that was 20+ years ago. If anything there are more choices now than there were then.

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely agree with you. E-Books are no substitute for a healthy library system. I just don't think they're the reason the library system is having problems at the moment or that they'll be the cause for their demise.

veinglory
09-22-2011, 09:01 PM
The author isn't fretting.
The author isn't debating.
The author is simpy giving us a new perspective.
Why is that so hard for some people to swallow?

The people on the forum are suggesting the argument is fallacious.

stephenf
09-22-2011, 09:07 PM
You have no idea what you're talking about in relation to the article above.
night.
.

I always find it slightly annoying to be dismissed by a total stranger with a generalisation. Only to try to prove their point with what looks like fantasy.

Medievalist
09-22-2011, 09:17 PM
Okay, that's true and all, but are you saying nobody should be concerned about libraries while there are people starving? Because I've never seen the game of Which Causes Are Worthy of Attention end well.

No; I'm absolutely not; you'll note I explicitly say


Seanan McGuire is well-intentioned, but naïve.

Print is not dead, nor is it dying. That's an idiotic red herring.

Libraries are in danger.

That strikes me as fairly explicit.

Cyia
09-22-2011, 09:27 PM
I always find it slightly annoying to be dismissed by a total stranger with a generalisation. Only to try to prove their point with what looks like fantasy.


It's only fantasy if you've never experienced it. Those aren't generalizations; they're every day facts of life for those in areas where poverty is the norm.

I can give you another one - when I was about 5 years old, my dad ran around our yard like a wild man trying to find enough garden hoses to string together to reach across the road that separated our house from a group of trailers on the other side. One of these belonged to a woman who couldn't afford childcare, so to protect her kids, she'd padlock them inside while she was at work. It caught on fire, one afternoon and he was afraid the kids were stuck inside. (They weren't, thankfully.)

IsisAnalysis
09-22-2011, 09:47 PM
Do you know of any towns doing this? That sounds silly.


It is silly, sorry. I don't know of any towns actually doing that, and as others have pointed out, it would only be an excuse anyway. I got carried away, and that's no help at all.

stephenf, please don't dismiss what Cyia said as "sounds like fantasy." Poverty is something awful, and all sorts of terrible things are true about it. I may not have personally had experiences like hers -- we had a car, and when we had a place to live we had a refrigerator and a stove and even cable TV (which according to some conservatives made us not poor).

But we did rely on free school lunches to keep us alive, and we were not above dumpster-diving behind restaurants to get food for the family. We didn't go to Goodwill because we couldn't afford 10 cents for a shirt. I wore, well, I don't even like to think about it these days. Let's just say when the grunge fashion came about I was horrified that anyone would look like that voluntarily because it was all I had most of the time.

I would not judge against Cyia's story. Poverty is like that.

Medievalist
09-22-2011, 09:55 PM
I always find it slightly annoying to be dismissed by a total stranger with a generalisation. Only to try to prove their point with what looks like fantasy.

Dude that's way out of line.

Don't do that; it's not OK.

We've got members on AW who are homeless; who log in from public libraries when they can.

We've got members who lost their jobs, and then their homes, and who couch surf while they try to find another job—any job.

Medievalist
09-22-2011, 10:01 PM
Do you know of any towns doing this? That sounds silly.

It's not likely, honestly. First, in the U.S. most libraries offering downloadable ebooks or audio books use the OverDrive service, which is partly subsidized by Federal funding for services to the disabled.

Secondly, the 11,000 libraries offering OverDrive ebooks are actually saving money in terms of the long term cost of buying multiple copies of recent releases, especially of "best sellers," and genre fiction.

They get a site license price, which is typically lower than most printed books' costs, and most of the single unit costs for equivalent ebooks.

They don't have to provide shelf space, and then remove the books from circulation in five years when they're too worn out to lend, or, as sometimes happens, no one is checking them out any longer.

They're still buying print copies of most of the books, but instead of buying, say, 5 copies of a single hot title, they buy one or two, since many borrowers will be happy to borrow the ebook version.

That has, potentially, a pleasant side effect of meaning they can possibly purchase an additional, different print books or other materials. This is what a lot of librarians are hoping will happen—we don't have data yet.

James D. Macdonald
09-22-2011, 11:05 PM
... when I can buy a second hand book for a couple of quid and enjoy it just the same.

Let's not even talk about "buying" a book. Let's talk about picking up the ultra-used paperback that someone left in the Laundromat.

Al Stevens
09-22-2011, 11:57 PM
Poverty is...
I have always found it difficult to explain poverty to someone who has not experienced it. Their eyes gloss over and they don't want to hear about it. To them, hungry is just before dinnertime; cold is until the SUV warms up; worn out clothes are for when grundge is fashionable. Why bother trying?

benbradley
09-23-2011, 04:59 AM
Right. And why is public investment in libraries in jeopardy? Because the economy is in the toilet and because state and local funding is trouble because the tax base is drying up. They have to lay off workers, cut resources, etc... just like the private sector has. Not because of e-books.

So it seems the problem here aren't e-books but library funding. Which is something that's not going to improve unless 1) the economy straightens out (and thus the tax base improves) and/or 2) we find another way to fund them.

(Also, I have to say that libraries, as much as I love them, are not a vital element of democracy, as democracies have been in existence long before the public library system.)
On the other hand (and this little derail might be better as a new thread in P&CE), things that governments have been providing for a while, and/or that a lot of people think everyone "ought to have" tend to become "rights" - people have a "right" to free health care, to library access, and Internet access:

Finland has become the first country in the world to make broadband internet access a legal right for all citizens. (http://articles.cnn.com/2010-07-01/tech/finland.broadband_1_broadband-access-internet-access-universal-service?_s=PM:TECH)

Internet access is a human right, and ensuring universal access to the Web "should be a priority for all states," according to a new United Nations report. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/08/internet-access-human-right-united-nations-report_n_872836.html)

Rhoda Nightingale
09-23-2011, 07:02 AM
Wow--this thread kind of blew up in my absence.

I do think Ms. McGuire raises some good points--the main one being how much the average reader with access to the internet, and some format for reading ebooks, takes for granted.

I don't think there's a real danger of print books dying out, at least not in my lifetime, so I'm not terribly worried about that part of it honestly. But I do know that a good chunk of writers that I want to support here are published either predominantly or exclusively by epublishers, and I would not be able to support them--or read their books at all--without access to that technology. In fact it's the one and only reason I bothered downloading the Kindle app for my computer.

Of course finding food, shelter and work is more important for survival than a good book to read, but I don't think that negates the necessity of bringing the written word to the general public.

I also agree that libraries face a greater danger than print publishing on the whole. My branch library, the biggest, shiniest one in town--and it's a decent-sized town--has signs up all the time asking for donations so they can keep the shelves stocked. I don't have any money to give them, but I bring stacks of books on a regular basis.

(And I'm happy to change that thread title if anyone finds "lower classes" offensive--I was using it to refer to an economic sector, and that's it, and I'm....also not real sure how to change thread titles here, but I'm sure a mod will help me out if they decide it's necessary.)

Kitty27
09-23-2011, 08:07 AM
Honestly, the vast majority of people I know consider an E-reader to be a complete waste of money. They love to read but dropping a 100+ on a non essential when that money could go towards groceries or a bill is quite beyond their comprehension. Being on a budget myself,there is no way I'd spend that kind of money. Also,nearly all my friends and family prefer print books. I have a Kindle that was given to me and it collects dust because I prefer the feel of a real book.


Also,poverty is no joke and ish is real out here for MANY people. I grew up in the hood,lived in it for awhile and it is grinding to budget bills,food,and other necessities. There are people that have to eat first and read later,so do their children. This doesn't mean they don't have a love of the written word,it's that money is tight and goes to essentials first. Dismissing poverty and thinking someone is over dramatizing reminds me of something my Nan used to say,"That which you mock or dismiss might decide to pay you a visit so you can learn just how real it truly is".

crunchyblanket
09-23-2011, 02:41 PM
Honestly, the vast majority of people I know consider an E-reader to be a complete waste of money. They love to read but dropping a 100+ on a non essential when that money could go towards groceries or a bill is quite beyond their comprehension. Being on a budget myself,there is no way I'd spend that kind of money


Exactly. It's money I don't have.



Let's not even talk about "buying" a book. Let's talk about picking up the ultra-used paperback that someone left in the Laundromat.


One of the bonuses of working in a hospital is the sheer number of books patients leave behind. It's like a goldmine :D

heza
09-23-2011, 03:30 PM
Of course finding food, shelter and work is more important for survival than a good book to read, but I don't think that negates the necessity of bringing the written word to the general public.


Throughout this conversation, I've seen the books in question described as "good book[s] to read" or as something to entertain kids and make their lives less bleak. While I'm totally aware of the importance of fiction in making life bearable, I think it's more important to mention, in context of this particular conversation, how vital some books actually are for survival.

I'm not anywhere near poor now, but I still can't justify the expense of an eReader. When I was a kid, though, we had to be much more frugal. My mom made our clothes from discount fabrics (she had books for sewing, knitting, crocheting, quilting), we wore hand-me-downs, or we waited for clothes from relatives for birthdays and Christmas. We didn't wash our clothes as often as we might have liked because we risked wearing them out faster. We were very rural, no public library available unless we got into the next town over. I remember fighting a fire at a neighbor's house, alongside my mother and sisters, at age eleven, because we didn't have a fire department. No infrastructure that wasn't church or school related.

We didn't go hungry, though, because my mom planted a huge garden every year and canned like mad. A lot of her gardening information came from books she got at yard sales and second-hand stores. We couldn't waste money on doctors for anything less than emergencies, so we treated most illnesses at home, from information in a tattered medical reference book and a book on folk remedies.

Societies communicate a lot of things in written form (or via television or the internet), and we have to keep those media available for all economic groups or risk cutting them out of the decision-making process for the country and severing them from the education (it doesn't happen just in schools) that might help them better their own situations. That's why I'm really thankful that the US gov. handed out coupons for the digital converters; otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to watch the news for a while.



One of the bonuses of working in a hospital is the sheer number of books patients leave behind. It's like a goldmine

True, that. Also, when my dad was at MD Anderson, I discovered they have a pretty nice library, where I was able to get three books without even filling out a library card.

scarletpeaches
09-23-2011, 03:33 PM
I know poverty. As a child, because my mother was so hopeless with money? Yes, I went hungry. I wore second- and third-hand clothes. Luckily I was at an age when how I looked didn't much matter to me, and my friends at school were only concerned with whether I was fit to play tig or hopscotch with them.

Did I still read? Yes, because as has been mentioned, books take you away from whatever's bothering you. How about poverty and getting the shit kicked out of you on a regular basis back home? Libraries are free, and they saved my sanity. I never went without books, even on the days I went without food.

Captcha
09-23-2011, 03:37 PM
I think the 'discarded' books are definitely something we're going to see less of. I've bought entire boxes of books for a dollar at garage sales, and been by later in the day to find more boxes being offered for free because the owners don't want to drag them back into the house. Treasure trove!

As e-books become more popular, there will be fewer unwanted books out there.

I live in a rural area with significant poverty. E-readers don't work when you don't have internet. There is a public library, but it's only open for about eight hours a day, when many of the 'working-poor' can't get time off work. And the truly poor are often stuck out in their no-internet homes in the country, relying on a neighbour to drive them to town once a week for groceries. E-books really aren't an option for them. They also need a permanent address to get a library card, and those who are couch-surfing or without a real home have trouble that way. And a lost book can mean revocation of their borrowing privileges until the book is found/paid for - and they don't have money to pay.

I work in the school library, and I see kids signing books out from a list, books that are outside the kids' usual range of reading, and I assume that they're going home to parents who want to read and have trouble with access. When we put our carts of library discards out, the fiction is gone within seconds.

So, kind of a jumble of anecdotes, but my point is: poverty is real, and it's not as simple as saying people should just go to the library. Physical books are much more accessible for most people where I live, and I think a lessened supply of cheap/free physical books is a serious concern. And, sure, people living in poverty have more important things to worry about, but they also have a real and painful need to escape from reality for a while, and for me, that's what fiction is best at.

scarletpeaches
09-23-2011, 03:42 PM
I work in the school library, and I see kids signing books out from a list, books that are outside the kids' usual range of reading, and I assume that they're going home to parents who want to read and have trouble with access.Not necessarily. I've always read far above the typical reading age. When I was in second year at high school, I was banned from taking out a James Herbert book -- they were from older kids. And this even though I'd borrowed some of his other novels from the local branch library.
...it's not as simple as saying people should just go to the library.What else are poor people supposed to do? It's what I did, and have always done, all my life. Maybe things are different over here. More libraries are closing but there are still some out there and if we can't magic up free books for the poor, we sure as hell can't magic up entire libraries.

Although I've thought about donating or sponsoring somehow if I ever make it big with my writing. Not so much to give back to my community (which stinks, by the way) but to give back to the concept of fiction itself, which I still maintain got me through a shitty childhood.

heza
09-23-2011, 04:11 PM
Although I've thought about donating or sponsoring somehow if I ever make it big with my writing. Not so much to give back to my community (which stinks, by the way) but to give back to the concept of fiction itself, which I still maintain got me through a shitty childhood.


I'd also like to be in the position someday to donate my own books (should anyone ever deign to read them) to schools, daycares, and libraries. And I'd like to support literacy programs. It's not just humanitarian--it's an investment! :D

scarletpeaches
09-23-2011, 04:14 PM
I didn't mean giving my own books, I meant actually building a library or sponsoring one somehow. Or even buying a buttload of books.

I'll tell you one thing though -- if I ever build a public library, there will be no computers for public use and local parents will not be allowed to treat the place as a creche. No-one under 16 allowed in without a parent or guardian.

ETA: Although, considering the fact I used to go to the library alone, that's hypocritical. Okay, then. If you're under 16, the librarian is your honorary parent and gets to tell you to shut the fuck up if you step out of line. Or throw you out.

IsisAnalysis
09-23-2011, 04:39 PM
I didn't mean to imply that the bleakness of my childhood was only relieved by the escape of reading fiction. My siblings and I devoured every book we could get our hands on: science, history, Shakespeare, sociology, everything.

Whenever we moved to a new school district -- and if was pretty often -- our test scores blew through the top of the curve. We were dirt poor, but school districts were ALWAYS happy to have me and my siblings attending their schools, and we were usually at the tops of our classes.

The bleakness of my poverty was relieved because books helped educate me.

Oh, and scarletpeaches -- I'd always let kids in to the library. If all there is is books, the rowdy ones keep out anyway.

scarletpeaches
09-23-2011, 04:47 PM
Oh, and scarletpeaches -- I'd always let kids in to the library. If all there is is books, the rowdy ones keep out anyway.You'd rethink that if you visited my city.

aruna
09-23-2011, 05:07 PM
I can't afford an e-reader. They're too expensive. I buy most of my books second-hand, or get them from the library. To me, talk about 'initial investment' is ludicrous. I don't want to invest over £100 of money I don't have when I can buy a second hand book for a couple of quid and enjoy it just the same.


Same here. For me it's a matter of priorities. I have better uses for the money. I am perfectly happy with physical books, and feel no need to change things. If I ever have excess money I might by an ereadr for when I travel; till that day, call me lower class if you want.


Really? Well explain the fact I have 400+ ebooks and have never owned a credit card in my life.

But you have a bank account? A debit card?

Amadan
09-23-2011, 05:17 PM
E-readers don't work when you don't have internet.

Not to dismiss your other points, but this isn't entirely true. You generally need Internet access to acquire ebooks, but once you fill your ereader with ebooks (and many come preloaded, and many libraries are starting to provide ebooks for loan), all you need is a charger and an outlet.



You'd rethink that if you visited my city.

Well, your experience is not universal. I've seen plenty of libraries that were able to manage with unattended children.

bearilou
09-23-2011, 05:45 PM
Books are pretty easy to come by.

I can, off the top of my hand, think of three places I can walk to that have free books--not counting the two libraries that are in walking distance which have giveaway books as well as the lending collection.

But on my way walking to any of those free books, I'll pass a variety of people who are homeless, some on meth, many just out of luck/jobs/money, and quite a few single moms holding a kid or two by the hand as they line up at the food bank.

I live 35 minutes driving time to the nearest town. A mile walk along a dirt road, then turning onto a paved road for another mile to will put me at the nearest library. Along the way I will pass a sum total of three houses.

And I'm one of the lucky ones that has electricity and an internet connection and a computer at my house. Not many in my community have even that and they'd walk the same distance, sometimes further just to access the library for it.

I don't mean to turn this into Economic Depression Olympics but there are some folks out there that don't even have the luxury of an 'easy' walk to the nearest free books.

So other than their school library (and the schools in this incredibly depressed area are also struggling for budget money and true to form the library is the first to suffer), many of the kids in this rural area don't have the easy availability of books. So it's not always an 'all you gotta do is' situation.

heza
09-23-2011, 06:27 PM
I didn't mean giving my own books, I meant actually building a library or sponsoring one somehow. Or even buying a buttload of books.



My apologies. I meant "also" as "in addition to what you said, I would like to add that I..."

I will never be in the position to build a library, but if I get free or reduced copies of my own books, I would be able to donate them.

seun
09-23-2011, 06:31 PM
Well, your experience is not universal. I've seen plenty of libraries that were able to manage with unattended children.

It's not just the kids who are a problem. We deal with adults pissing in the lift, pissing in the reference section or simply falling asleep because they've had one too many cans of Special Brew.

Then there are the lovely people who come in with their kids and go on the computers while their kids wander unattended around the junior section.

scarletpeaches
09-23-2011, 08:11 PM
But you have a bank account? A debit card?I do, yes. I buy my ebooks though PayPal, or download for free those which are out of copyright -- Dickens, Bronte and the like.
It's not just the kids who are a problem. We deal with adults pissing in the lift, pissing in the reference section or simply falling asleep because they've had one too many cans of Special Brew.

Then there are the lovely people who come in with their kids and go on the computers while their kids wander unattended around the junior section.Our libraries have security guards now. Security guards.

There's always that pissed, smelly person sitting in the corner, which is why one of the librarians keeps an aerosol of air freshener in her desk.

Then there was the kid who brought his sammiches in with them, and got chucked out for breaking the 'no food' rule. He spat at the lady behind the desk, "I'll go get my mum!" and she shrugged and said, "Go on then."

When this little darling's parent got to the library, she demanded to know, "Where's he supposed to eat his lunch then?"

So no, sorry, I'm not with those who think today's children are little darlings who know how to behave in public. They don't. And with parents like that, is it any wonder?

Al Stevens
09-23-2011, 08:15 PM
You generally need Internet access to acquire ebooks...Internet access is built into the Kindle. No monthly charge.

Al Stevens
09-23-2011, 08:16 PM
Here's another discussion of the library issue:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/22/books/amazons-kindle-to-make-library-e-books-available.html?_r=1

aruna
09-23-2011, 08:26 PM
So no, sorry, I'm not with those who think today's children are little darlings who know how to behave in public. They don't. And with parents like that, is it any wonder?

I always thought bad-behaved children was a typical English problem, but looks like Scotland has it too. For that matter, bad-behaved adults, too.
I'm kind of glad I'm leaving Britain next week.

Medievalist
09-23-2011, 08:28 PM
My apologies. I meant "also" as "in addition to what you said, I would like to add that I..."

I will never be in the position to build a library, but if I get free or reduced copies of my own books, I would be able to donate them.

Ask the library first, and give them permission to resell them or exchange with another library if you want to be truly helpful.

scarletpeaches
09-23-2011, 08:33 PM
I always thought bad-behaved children was a typical English problem, but looks like Scotland has it too. For that matter, bad-behaved adults, too.
I'm kind of glad I'm leaving Britain next week.:(

Britain's average IQ will plummet.

benbradley
09-23-2011, 09:47 PM
Here's yet another interesting article about libraries (via @georgialibs (http://twitter.com/#%21/georgialibs))
http://shareable.net/blog/the-evolving-library

My apologies. I meant "also" as "in addition to what you said, I would like to add that I..."

I will never be in the position to build a library, but if I get free or reduced copies of my own books, I would be able to donate them.
You never know, you could "win the literary lottery" or come across significant money some other way. No doubt JK Rowling thought for decades she'd never be rich.

Medievalist
09-23-2011, 09:53 PM
A comment in passing:

I keep seeing ereaders dismissed as luxury items, or items for the wealthy.

Please do remember that for a large number of visually disabled people, ereaders make it possible for people to read who otherwise would be dependent on braille books, audio books, or expensive and awkward large print books.

Amadan
09-23-2011, 09:54 PM
Internet access is built into the Kindle. No monthly charge.

You quoted the wrong person, but keep in mind if you're in a really rural area, Internet access still may not be available.

Still, I don't think ereaders are quite the impossible luxury some folks are saying. Yes, if you don't have money for food, obviously you won't be buying an ereader (or books). But I can easily see, in the future, as ereaders become cheaper and network access more widespread, a cheap reader being something like a TV, something even the poor will have for entertainment.

Unless SP is right and the current generation is a race of illiterate goblins who will kill us and eat us.


So no, sorry, I'm not with those who think today's children are little darlings who know how to behave in public. They don't. And with parents like that, is it any wonder?

I don't think there's ever been a generation of children that consisted entirely of little darlings who knew how to behave.

aruna
09-23-2011, 10:08 PM
A comment in passing:

I keep seeing ereaders dismissed as luxury items, or items for the wealthy.

Please do remember that for a large number of visually disabled people, ereaders make it possible for people to read who otherwise would be dependent on braille books, audio books, or expensive and awkward large print books.

how does that work, Med?





I don't think there's ever been a generation of children that consisted entirely of little darlings who knew how to behave.

I disagree. German children, for intance, are about 100 times better behaved than English children. Indian children are 100 times better behaved than German children. (Sorry, can't quote and stats! Just my personal perception;))

Medievalist
09-23-2011, 10:31 PM
how does that work, Med?)

Some ereaders, starting in the 1990s, were created specifically for disabled readers, but now, the ability to resize type, for instance, on Kindle or iPad or Nook means someone who would ordinarily have to use large print or braille can actually read from a Kindle or Nook, etc.

Also: the ability to have text read to you with surprisingly decent digital voices (almost any text) is built into all iPads (and that's not the only device that can do this).

The iPad will even respond to vocal commands; you do not have to be able to see at all to use it. This feature set has gotten increasingly better; the next version of iOS, due Real Soon Now (as in days or weeks) will recognize a lot more gestures for things like launching specific apps, as well as better voice command response.

aruna
09-23-2011, 11:21 PM
Thanks; I didn't know that.

Al Stevens
09-24-2011, 12:03 AM
You quoted the wrong person...
Not sure how that happened. You almost have to do that on purpose and I didn't. Sorry.

AlwaysJuly
09-24-2011, 05:44 AM
Apropos of nothing, this thread reminds me of a story about my dad. He grew up very poor in New York City -- onion-and-mayo sandwiches sometimes, going hungry other times, no presents on Christmas poor -- and his mom couldn't afford books, though she tried to buy magazines for the boys when she had a little disposable income.

But they did go to the library, and once as a little boy he found someone else's library card in the street -- so he went in and took out a stack of books that he really wanted for his own, that he never returned. Sort of a hoodlum at the time, my dad. But he was a hoodlum who loved to read.

AmsterdamAssassin
09-24-2011, 11:04 PM
My situation is incomparable with the US - I live in a country where almost everyone has internet access, the homeless carry state sponsored cell phones and secondhand laptops, and libraries are everywhere, so the whole 'too poor to read books' situation would be quite rare in the Netherlands.

However, print is far from dead or even dying. True, the market share of e-books is growing, but there are still more people reading print than reading e-books. I think, by the time that balance shifts, e-readers will be a lot cheaper [30€/$], and the market for secondhand paperbacks will be huge, because a lot of people with 'space issues' will digitize their books and get rid of the print versions.

Just as people who depend on LPs will still be able to get records, people who prefer print books will still be able to get print books. Maybe not the latest books, but there are still enough books around to fill several lifetimes.

Phaeal
09-25-2011, 12:09 AM
Apropos of nothing, this thread reminds me of a story about my dad. He grew up very poor in New York City -- onion-and-mayo sandwiches sometimes, going hungry other times, no presents on Christmas poor -- and his mom couldn't afford books, though she tried to buy magazines for the boys when she had a little disposable income.

But they did go to the library, and once as a little boy he found someone else's library card in the street -- so he went in and took out a stack of books that he really wanted for his own, that he never returned. Sort of a hoodlum at the time, my dad. But he was a hoodlum who loved to read.

This is like the story of Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead. He embarrassed the members of his juvenile gang by making them steal library books for him when they should have been out raiding barges and rumbling with other gangs.

Did your dad go on to found a publishing empire? ;)

Bookewyrme
09-25-2011, 01:05 AM
The author isn't fretting.
The author isn't debating.
The author is simpy giving us a new perspective.
Why is that so hard for some people to swallow?
Agreed. I got the impression from the blog author that she was simply pointing out a way of looking at the e-books vs. print debate which most people never consider, and should. I have lived below the poverty line, and never ever risen above the level of working-class-poor, and I didn't think about it either. I don't think the author actually believes print is dead, I think she's trying to point out a blind-spot in our thinking about the debate.


Well partly because the author is, without meaning to, writing from a position of privilege.


Even though the author mentioned having been so poor she would not have been able to keep ahold of a relatively expensive electronic device even if one had been given to her as a child? That doesn't sound much like privilege to me. I grew up pretty darn poor, but I could at least be sure if something nice was given to me, I would be able to keep it.


What else are poor people supposed to do? It's what I did, and have always done, all my life. Maybe things are different over here. More libraries are closing but there are still some out there and if we can't magic up free books for the poor, we sure as hell can't magic up entire libraries.
I think the difference is in the infrastructure of the US and the UK, and also just a difference in sheer size. One of the things I noticed while I lived there was that only people who had actually traveled to the US could really conceptualize the sorts of distances involved in US geography. In the UK, you guys have pretty decent public transport, which not only is available in small towns and villages but travels between them. That's not true (or only rarely true) over here. Only mid-sized towns have any public transport at all, and it never leaves the city limits. So if your nearest library in your small town shuts down (or never existed in the first place) it's a good bet that the nearest town of a size to have a library is at least 10-15 miles away, and there is literally no way to get there except by walking, biking, or by car. And if you don't have a car, well...that's just too bad. For some people, getting to a library is truly simply not feasible with any degree of regularity.

AmsterdamAssassin
09-25-2011, 01:18 AM
I think the difference is in the infrastructure of the US and the UK, and also just a difference in sheer size. One of the things I noticed while I lived there was that only people who had actually traveled to the US could really conceptualize the sorts of distances involved in US geography. In the UK, you guys have pretty decent public transport, which not only is available in small towns and villages but travels between them. That's not true (or only rarely true) over here. Only mid-sized towns have any public transport at all, and it never leaves the city limits. So if your nearest library in your small town shuts down (or never existed in the first place) it's a good bet that the nearest town of a size to have a library is at least 10-15 miles away, and there is literally no way to get there except by walking, biking, or by car. And if you don't have a car, well...that's just too bad. For some people, getting to a library is truly simply not feasible with any degree of regularity.

I know this about the US, which is one of the reasons why a strict tiered European licensing system wouldn't work in the US. Without a car you're basically dependent on a poor public transport system, and a lot of Americans would fail the European driving exams. Although I'd have to say, if someone doesn't have a car in the US, s/he has more problems than not getting to the library.

There's a degree in poverty, though. And if someone is down so low that they don't know where their next meal is coming from or whether they can pay their utility bill, getting to the library will be way down on their 'to do' list.

For the people who live on minimum wage and get by, but lack the monetary means of luxury items like computers and e-books, there will still be enough books in print to last them a few lifetimes.

There will come a time when that will change, when no more books will be printed and e-books will be the norm, but I think that will take more than a couple of years or even decades. And by that time, those who will need to read will find a way to do so - maybe even buying second-hand e-readers? Tapping into their affluent neighbour's wi-fi system to upload books to their dated e-readers? Who knows? Still, those who want to read, will find a way to read.

juniper
09-25-2011, 01:42 AM
This thread reminds me of a story in the local newspaper re: a bookmobile for homeless people. This woman has established her own micro-library that serves people who live on the street in Portland, Oregon.

snip: She's been surprised at the richness of the interactions. And grateful that people who may at first seem unapproachable because of lack of sleep or security are willing to engage generously by talking passionately about books, making requests and sharing ideas for ways to enhance the library. And she's been impressed by the depth of their knowledge.

"We have all these assumptions that people have arrived there (on the street) because of some deficit -- it's not a deficit of knowledge," she says.


http://www.oregonlive.com/living/index.ssf/2011/07/bicycle-powered_book_cart_give.html

Here's a link to her website, which includes pictures of the library members and the books they choose.

http://streetbooks.org/

Medievalist
09-25-2011, 01:52 AM
Even though the author mentioned having been so poor she would not have been able to keep ahold of a relatively expensive electronic device even if one had been given to her as a child?

Yes.

Because she can see, and read.

There are an awful lot of people dependent on the very devices she condemns.

If you can't see, if you can't read, all the printed books in the world don't mean a damn thing.

If you're too hungry to read, because you're low blood sugar (I went to school with kids who passed out because it was Monday and they hadn't eaten since lunch on Friday) having books doesn't matter a hill of beans.

The woman who collects the pop and beer cans from the building I live in (we save them for her) works part time at the food bank.

She can't read. She's arranged to change her hours so she can go to the literacy classes at the public library.

The library, that like so many others, has already had budgetary cuts, and like so many all over, is endangered, and no, not because of ebooks.

The ebooks issue is a red herring.

Libraries are in danger (http://floccinaucical.com/2011/01/civil-disobedience-bibliophile-style/).

juniper
09-25-2011, 01:55 AM
Replying to myself to add this video about the StreetBooks project. This touches my heart.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgSlp4yckvg&feature=player_embedded#!

benbradley
09-25-2011, 01:57 AM
IMO, it seems to me more of a "OEMs should produce more affordable e-readers" problem than a "poor people don't deserve to read" problem.

That said, I don't really think it's anything to worry about, as I don't think print books will really be going anywhere for a while. I still buy vinyls
How did that word come to mean (LP) phonograph records? It's absolutely a "younger generation" thing. I first saw that use online on another forum a couple years ago, and it's ALWAYS used by those under 30.

after all. ...though iTunes does tend to be much cheaper...
I have about 3,000 LP's, most bought from thrift stores and yard sales at about a dollar each. As to be expected, many are scratched, some badly, but many others play perfectly clean after a wet cleaning and vacuum on a homemade RCM. Even after adding in an RCM and supplies (but not counting the cost of my time cleaning) each song is cheaper than iTunes. There's also music on LP's that may not have made it to iTunes, due to either obscurity or licensing issues.

...
For the people who live on minimum wage and get by, but lack the monetary means of luxury items like computers and e-books, there will still be enough books in print to last them a few lifetimes.

There will come a time when that will change, when no more books will be printed and e-books will be the norm, but I think that will take more than a couple of years or even decades. And by that time, those who will need to read will find a way to do so - maybe even buying second-hand e-readers? Tapping into their affluent neighbour's wi-fi system to upload books to their dated e-readers? Who knows? Still, those who want to read, will find a way to read.

...
Just as people who depend on LPs will still be able to get records, people who prefer print books will still be able to get print books. Maybe not the latest books, but there are still enough books around to fill several lifetimes.
Even after several decades I'd be surprised if you couldn't get a physical book printed on a POD machine of the latest best seller, or of most any e-book.

With 3d printers, and "print file" sites such as Thingiverse, an amazing number of things, and not just every book/ebook ever published, will be available to be downloaded and made into a physical product in the home. Okay, something like an Espresso Book Machine might still cost too much for the home, though the cost to print a book on one at the local supermarket or gift shop may be only a few dollars. After reading, POD books will likely be donated to thrift stores and library book sales to be sold for one or a few dollars each, just as trade books are now.

e-readers WILL come down in price, though the cheapest ones might be locked in to a certain distributor of ebooks, similar to the computer printer market has been in the last decade: inkjet printers have been loss-leaders, sold a cost of well under $100, but the company makes a large profit selling ink cartridges. I can see e-readers being much cheaper still, or even "free with purchase of any three e-books."

And that dash in e-book and e-reader is going to disappear, just like it did in email. Mark my word!

kuwisdelu
09-25-2011, 02:50 AM
How did that word come to mean (LP) phonograph records? It's absolutely a "younger generation" thing. I first saw that use online on another forum a couple years ago, and it's ALWAYS used by those under 30.

Because it's used to distinguish an vinyl LP from a CD or digital LP? Although they don't refer to the same thing as far as the size and spinning speed of the record, the terms LP and EP are still used with CDs and with albums that are distributed as digital files to differentiate between full-length albums and not-quite-full-length collections of songs. I have lots of "albums" in iTunes that are referred to and classified as LP's or EP's despite having been distributed digitally.

So these days, saying that something is an LP or an EP only tells me something about its length and composition, and tells me nothing about what kind of format you have it. It could be a vinyl, a CD, or mp3s, and still be an LP or EP.

ETA: Or to put it simply, and if I said LP, what about singles or EP's that are on vinyl?


I have about 3,000 LP's, most bought from thrift stores and yard sales at about a dollar each. As to be expected, many are scratched, some badly, but many others play perfectly clean after a wet cleaning and vacuum on a homemade RCM. Even after adding in an RCM and supplies (but not counting the cost of my time cleaning) each song is cheaper than iTunes. There's also music on LP's that may not have made it to iTunes, due to either obscurity or licensing issues.

I was talking about new music. With new music, the vinyl tends to be much more expensive than the CD or digital versions. Though in some cases, it does have more songs or different cuts.

Paul
09-25-2011, 03:00 AM
lol. ebook have no bearing on whether the 'lower classes' read or not.

it aint about format/ physicality of the book dear friends.

Medievalist
09-25-2011, 03:04 AM
After reading, POD books will likely be donated to thrift stores and library book sales to be sold for one or a few dollars each, just as trade books are now.

Not unless the underlying technology and cost of materials changes drastically, it won't.

Espresso book machine books (I've used one) are made with lower quality inks, papers, and binding glue.

Most aren't going to last for long enough to make it to a second hand shop.

It's the nature of the technology, currently.

Deirdre
09-25-2011, 03:14 AM
In order to read an ebook you must have a credit card.

Are there people who can't get credit cards? Yes.

Not entirely true. There are libraries, Project Gutenberg, the Baen free library. You can also walk into any big city grocery or office store and buy an iTunes, Amazon, or B&N gift card that you can use for books. Typically, you can't use a credit card to buy those (some places permit debit card purchases), but this is one way to get new books without a credit card.

An additional advantage is that they're often cheaper in e-book form.

Paul
09-25-2011, 03:21 AM
In order to read an ebook you must have a credit card.

Are there people who can't get credit cards? Yes.
No book worth its salt will EVER be unavailable to the common Joe or Jo. (as in it will be 'hardcopied')

unless we live in post nuclear war times and revert back to the 18th C and previously where books cost a few months wages.

not a chance.

it just wouldnt make economic sense for publishers.


Edit: and if there are 'important' books out there which wont be hardcopied, it wont be due to lack of Credit Cards that will disallow 'lower class' access, but education.

James D. Macdonald
09-25-2011, 03:33 AM
Even after several decades I'd be surprised if you couldn't get a physical book printed on a POD machine of the latest best seller...

I'd be surprised as heck if you could operate that hypothetical POD machine if you didn't own a valid credit card.

Al Stevens
09-25-2011, 03:50 AM
It's not hypothetical. It's a real machine.

http://www.ondemandbooks.com/images/EBM_Brochure.pdf



Revenues for books sold are collected at point of sale, and payments to publishers/content owners are later remitted.

Kind of vague, but it implies that the store collects the payment.

Medievalist
09-25-2011, 04:27 AM
I'd be surprised as heck if you could operate that hypothetical POD machine if you didn't own a valid credit card.

They have the same kinds of UI as public photocopiers; cash, coins, debit/credit or a pre loaded card.

Lyra Jean
09-25-2011, 05:05 AM
In order to read an ebook you must have a credit card.

Are there people who can't get credit cards? Yes.

You can also have a debit card that has a credit card logo. That is what I use for my e-reader. Also there are the pre-paid credit cards that you should be able to use wherever a credit card can be used.

My DH saved up money and bought me an e-reader. He did this because I love to read and we live in a tiny apartment with very little space and a baby on the way so even less space. My Nook will hold 1,000 books. Even if I did eventually fill up my e-reader there would be no way I could fit 1,000 books or more in my tiny apartment. We are working poor, not poverty where is our next meal coming from so for us it was an investment.

aruna
09-25-2011, 10:38 AM
ETA: Or to put it simply, and if I said LP, what about singles or EP's that are on vinyl?


.


What about simply -- records? I've never used the word vinyl (for a record) in my life! But I think you in the US never called them records anyway.

Xelebes
09-25-2011, 11:42 AM
How did that word come to mean (LP) phonograph records? It's absolutely a "younger generation" thing. I first saw that use online on another forum a couple years ago, and it's ALWAYS used by those under 30.

Rave/hiphop culture. The concept of never switching away from the feel of vinyl (DJs), especially when it came to scratching. CDJs still cannot produce the distortion that vinyl records do. Most genres nowadays have gone away from scratching as CDJs and Laptop mixers have taken over (DnB & Hiphop → Dubstep; techno → trance.)

Prisoner24601
09-25-2011, 01:47 PM
Agreed. I got the impression from the blog author that she was simply pointing out a way of looking at the e-books vs. print debate which most people never consider, and should. I have lived below the poverty line, and never ever risen above the level of working-class-poor, and I didn't think about it either. I don't think the author actually believes print is dead, I think she's trying to point out a blind-spot in our thinking about the debate.

What's she's doing is having a knee jerk emotional reaction to e-books because she grew up poor. Which I understand actually, having grown up poor myself. Sometimes those old emotions hit you at the most surprising times and it's not necessarily a rational thing.

But still, that doesn't mean that her opinion is well informed or in any way useful to a conversation about getting poor people access to books. In fact, it's counterproductive because it's focusing on something that's that's not affecting poor people, or even the cause of the problem.


I think the difference is in the infrastructure of the US and the UK, and also just a difference in sheer size. One of the things I noticed while I lived there was that only people who had actually traveled to the US could really conceptualize the sorts of distances involved in US geography. In the UK, you guys have pretty decent public transport, which not only is available in small towns and villages but travels between them. That's not true (or only rarely true) over here. Only mid-sized towns have any public transport at all, and it never leaves the city limits. So if your nearest library in your small town shuts down (or never existed in the first place) it's a good bet that the nearest town of a size to have a library is at least 10-15 miles away, and there is literally no way to get there except by walking, biking, or by car. And if you don't have a car, well...that's just too bad. For some people, getting to a library is truly simply not feasible with any degree of regularity.

And this I totally agree with and think lies much closer to the heart of the problem when it comes to access to reading materials at least for people in rural areas. I think she'd be much more effective focusing on how to keep libraries funded and how to increase the scope of people they can reach than worrying about the rise of e-books.

Al Stevens
09-25-2011, 07:14 PM
What about simply -- records? I've never used the word vinyl (for a record) in my life! But I think you in the US never called them records anyway.Yes, that was common usage here in the US. We needed to call them 78's and 45's, too, in order to differentiate. When 33 1/3 rpm records came along, they were LPs. EPs were 45s with two selections on each side

Before all that it was "cylinders," but I don't go back quite that far.

I have the first two-sided record ever produced. A 10" 78 rpm disk. Columbia put it out to announce the new format. A commentator on one side and a male quartet singing "Sleep Kentucky Babe" on the other. It was my mother's when she was a child.

They weren't vinyl then. I think they were bakolite. Some kind of hard plastic.

Alessandra Kelley
09-25-2011, 08:30 PM
Before vinyl phonograph records were made of hard rubber, celluloid, or shellac.

Medievalist
09-25-2011, 09:17 PM
Before vinyl phonograph records were made of hard rubber, celluloid, or shellac.

Or wax and were often cylindrical.

Alessandra Kelley
09-26-2011, 12:57 AM
Or wax and were often cylindrical.

Very true. Pity they weren't kept as a form. I've often wondered if they wore more evenly because of the constant speed of the needle over the record.

kuwisdelu
09-26-2011, 03:13 AM
Rave/hiphop culture. The concept of never switching away from the feel of vinyl (DJs), especially when it came to scratching. CDJs still cannot produce the distortion that vinyl records do. Most genres nowadays have gone away from scratching as CDJs and Laptop mixers have taken over (DnB & Hiphop → Dubstep; techno → trance.)


Yes, that was common usage here in the US. We needed to call them 78's and 45's, too, in order to differentiate. When 33 1/3 rpm records came along, they were LPs. EPs were 45s with two selections on each side

Before all that it was "cylinders," but I don't go back quite that far.

I have the first two-sided record ever produced. A 10" 78 rpm disk. Columbia put it out to announce the new format. A commentator on one side and a male quartet singing "Sleep Kentucky Babe" on the other. It was my mother's when she was a child.

They weren't vinyl then. I think they were bakolite. Some kind of hard plastic.

In the words of Steven Wilson, "How do you sell the same album to one person four times? You sell the vinyl, you sell the CD, you sell the remastered CD, and now, the definitive version, the Japanese LP replica."

(He's British, and was referring to specific album, but I'm not sure which, so I can't say why the Japanese LP replica is the definitive version — he was picking up a CD when he said this, though. He calls them vinyls throughout the documentary I'm watching, and is in his 40's. *shrug*)

benbradley
09-26-2011, 06:57 AM
Many/most 7-inch 45's were (back in the day when "top 40" was tied to the sales of this format) actually made of styrene (polystyrene), a cheaper material which wears out faster than vinyl. Here's more info:

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/showthread.php?t=237045

AmsterdamAssassin
09-26-2011, 01:06 PM
...I can't say why the Japanese LP replica is the definitive version — he was picking up a CD when he said this, though. He calls them vinyls throughout the documentary I'm watching, and is in his 40's. *shrug*)

I have Blue Note jazz CDs from Japan that are small replicas of the original LPs, with tiny cardboard sleeves and sleevenotes, with the label printed on the CD.

Maybe that's what he's talking about?

kuwisdelu
09-26-2011, 04:41 PM
I have Blue Note jazz CDs from Japan that are small replicas of the original LPs, with tiny cardboard sleeves and sleevenotes, with the label printed on the CD.

Maybe that's what he's talking about?

Yes, that would make sense.

scarletpeaches
09-27-2011, 12:38 AM
And if you look at what people are reading on their Kindles, it's pretty clear that it's not a high-class audience.Pardon?

Bubastes
09-27-2011, 12:46 AM
And if you look at what people are reading on their Kindles, it's pretty clear that it's not a high-class audience.

Whoa, not cool.

Medievalist
09-27-2011, 01:37 AM
And if you look at what people are reading on their Kindles, it's pretty clear that it's not a high-class audience.

Well, aren't you a class act.

Bless it.

MacAllister
09-27-2011, 01:41 AM
Gosh - who knew you could read the very same book on your Kindle as in hardback or paperback, but you're low-class for reading it the wrong way?

Djf881, all sarcasm aside, I've deleted your ill-advised and insulting post. I recommend you rethink what you were trying to say, and rephrase it without insulting everyone who owns a Kindle or has a book in e-format.