PDA

View Full Version : "E-reading isn't reading"



swvaughn
11-16-2012, 05:38 PM
Also, pretentious article is pretentious (http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2012/11/reading_on_a_kindle_is_not_the_same_as_reading_a_b ook.html?et_mid=590098&rid=233066661).

This article on Slate seems to be saying that a book is a sacred experience, and the tactile sensations associated with reading essential to our enjoyment and true appreciation of literature.

I'm curious to see if anyone here still thinks that ebooks are Teh Devil...

Personally, I love ebooks. I'm just waiting for that musty paper-scented Kindle. :D

Kerosene
11-16-2012, 05:44 PM
I love my Kindle too.

Reading isn't storytelling. Let's see if I get notoriety from this!


My grandfather made the same argument when my kindle arrived. And the old man is senile.

CaroGirl
11-16-2012, 05:52 PM
The best books make you forget where you are. They make you hear, taste and smell the story, not whatever might be going on in the world in which you sit. When I first starting using my e-reader, I would catch myself trying to turn the page rather than push the button.

A great story is a great story. How it's delivered to you becomes irrelevant.

And pretentious excerpt is very pretentious indeed.

seun
11-16-2012, 05:53 PM
Total. Bollocks.

Mr Flibble
11-16-2012, 05:57 PM
What is it then, riding a camel?


So he prefers print books. Meh. The story is the same, only the medium changes. Like when they invented the printing press and I suspect then people went round complaining how this new fangled stuff wasn't a patch on the old stuff, where a real part of the experience was working out if that was an f or an s and you couldn't call it real reading unless some poor monk had spent six weeks illuminating a single letter....

Amarie
11-16-2012, 05:58 PM
If e-reading isn't reading, why did he post this on the internet instead of printing out pamphlets to hand out? Or is reading on a computer somehow a class of its own?

swvaughn
11-16-2012, 06:01 PM
If e-reading isn't reading, why did he post this on the internet instead of printing out pamphlets to hand out? Or is reading on a computer somehow a class of its own?

The irony! It buuuurns ussss! :D

I was wondering that myself, while not reading this article -- because, since it was on a screen and not paper, I was not in fact reading it.

I got so confused reading about how I wasn't reading... :tongue

Komnena
11-16-2012, 06:04 PM
Before my Kobo I had to lug a big bag of books to the doctor's office and maneuver them around. It was not easy. Now I just slide the Kobo back into its case and go. I can take my favorite books on vacation without fearing losing the physical copies. What is so evil about that?

shadowwalker
11-16-2012, 06:23 PM
I just glanced at the article; there is a difference between holding an e-reader and holding a book, and I definitely prefer the book. But reading is reading, so anything else is just personal preference.

Beachgirl
11-16-2012, 06:33 PM
Well at least my kindle doesn't send me into sneezing fits from the musty smell. I guess if my eyes are swollen shut and I'm sneezing every thirty seconds, I'm not really reading even if I'm holding a real book, am I?

leahzero
11-16-2012, 06:33 PM
This article is just going to make me angry, isn't it?

Toothpaste
11-16-2012, 06:35 PM
Guys it's SLATE. This is what they do, post nonsense to get a rise out of people and page hits.

It's a silly article. We each have our preferences, and that's all there is to it.

amrose
11-16-2012, 06:54 PM
I like paper books. I like e-books. I especially like e-books on my iphone when it's slow at work.

I started skimming the article at the first reference of St. Augustine.

willietheshakes
11-16-2012, 06:57 PM
If e-reading isn't reading, why did he post this on the internet instead of printing out pamphlets to hand out? Or is reading on a computer somehow a class of its own?


The irony! It buuuurns ussss! :D


Um, folks? From the article:
"Reprinted with permission from Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times, by Andrew Piper, published by the University of Chicago Press. © 2012 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved."


Guys it's SLATE. This is what they do, post nonsense to get a rise out of people and page hits.


Yup. Clickbait.

Amadan
11-16-2012, 06:59 PM
Good gads. I've seen this rant before, but rarely at such wordy, meandering, pretentious volume.

ZoeYork
11-16-2012, 07:06 PM
I will say that they aren't exactly the same experience - I don't flip back to the previous page to double check something nearly as often on my e-reader, for example. I found myself doing it the other day, because I was really confused about where a character had ended up, and I realized just how infrequently I bother, whereas with paper pages where I can hold my place with my finger, I jump back way more often. But I don't think that they are significantly more dissimilar than comparing the difference between reading a paperback and a hardcover version of the same book.

Totally pretentious, absolutely clickbait, not going to read it.

Filigree
11-16-2012, 07:25 PM
Utter dogbollocks. E-readers are tools and delivery systems, nothing more. The author needs to take a chill pill, then go read Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age.

Technology only adds options. How to use them is up to us. But once they do exist, somebody is going to make bank on them. The Gutenberg Bible broke the price and production-time bottlenecks on expensive hand-copied books, helping to create the vast economic and political changes of the Renaissance. Telegraphs broke the tyranny of distance and offered real time information for empire-builders. Typewriters increased data entry capacity, made novel-writing easier, and gave many 19th Century women genteel, respectable careers as paid typists. I could go on to list the personal computer, the world-wide web, the cellular phone - but we've seen how those inventions changed our lives.

I'm hoping that the rise of e-readers will broaden the reading population.

Some of my friends have grown up in households with no or few books. Many friends do not read for recreational purposes, only when their job demands it.

My mom taught me how to read when I was four, one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given. Granted, she probably did it not just to enlighten her last-born little savage, but to gain some peace and quiet for herself. By the time kindergarten arrived with its 'See Spot Run' books, I was reading (slowly, and with much digression into dictionaries) my family's 50-year collection of National Geographic magazines.

This may have helped my future grades, but it did nothing for my social life. No matter - I was a bibliophile from the start. I live in a house filled with books, most of them non-fiction. I have marked parts of my life with the books and series I read as I endured or celebrated those passages.

As a sculptor and book artist, a lot of my artwork is based on art that can only be properly experienced in the layered, sequential form of books. Mine are handheld art installations, little sculptures of wood, glass, cloth, and sometimes even paper. And I'm good at it; my work is carried in galleries and curated by some well-known university special collections. Since 1998, I've made over 140 such books, in small editions or one-of-a-kind pieces. Most have sold within a few months of completion.

And guess what? In a couple of months, if I'm lucky, I'm buying my first tablet after seeing a friend fall in love with his. Among other things, it's a spiffy reader. It stores more books than my home library. Bookmarking and annotating data is now simple. All my favorite magazines, from craft and art to science and history, are available by reasonable subscription. Reading isn't accomplished by pressing a button, but by a familiar page-turning fingertip swipe. Oh, and I can alter light levels and text size in a moment.

Am I turning my back on the tactile wonderland of traditional books? No.
In fact, I'm gearing up for a new round of book arts pieces in 2013. I won't discard my battered 1980's paperbacks, though I'm replacing some of them with exquisite hardcover reprints from a small press. I will still curl up with a cup of tea and a paper book on wintry evenings.

But I'll be able to do a lot more of my career-required reading much more easily. I can carry work and recreational books with me nearly anywhere, thus opening more time for reading.

I firmly believe it's not how you read - it's what you read, and how often.

Susan Littlefield
11-16-2012, 07:38 PM
I love books, especially the old books. I love the smell and feel of the pages. I don't have an E-reader, but that is due to preference only.

Kindle or online reading is reading, it's just not hardcover. It's all about preference.

mayqueen
11-16-2012, 08:11 PM
I saw the picture of Dante and Virgil in hell at the top of the article and knew it would annoy me. The author seems to think there is something sacred and irreplaceable about the physical act of reading from a book. It is just different, that is all.

NeuroFizz
11-16-2012, 08:50 PM
...and shitting in an outhouse is a very different experience than shitting in a toilet, but they both empty the rectum.

RemusShepherd
11-16-2012, 09:00 PM
Ebook reading is reading, there's no doubt about that. But it is different, and I'm finding that I don't much like the difference. I can't easily page back to refresh my memory of an earlier scene in an ebook. I can't scribble notes in the margins -- while I can add annotations in some readers, I can't use the shorthand symbols that I had been using to mark up paper books. Worse of all is the eyestrain, which I never got while reading paper books. (Granted, I'm reading on an LED and not an e-ink display. Switching to e-ink would probably help my eyestrain.)

Ebook reading isn't as pleasurable. I'm sure that I'm just an old fogie, and the next generation will hardly notice the difference, but I may be too attached to paper to ever enjoy reading any other way.

Filigree
11-16-2012, 09:01 PM
Thank you, NeuroFizz.

Re: outhouses. While almanacs now come in digital versions as well as print, it's a lot harder to wipe oneself off with the e-reader.

Remus, the newest generations of tablets take all that into account. But unless you are willing to sift through a manual or online help site, or have a tech-savvy friend help out, it may be more trouble setting up than you'd like.

mccardey
11-16-2012, 09:10 PM
I just glanced at the article; there is a difference between holding an e-reader and holding a book, and I definitely prefer the book. But reading is reading, so anything else is just personal preference.

I didn't read the article, but I prefer to hold a book. And then put it on a shelf.

Here's an interesting thing: I always thought I was pretty excessive in the number of books I had (maybe 2,000 or 3,000 which is quite a lot because I lost my library back in 1996 when I moved to the tropics and all my books rotted (*arghhhh!!!* Damn you humidity!) But last night a French friend of mine showed me her library. Maybe 4,000, 5,000 books... She said "I know, it's not huge. But I lost a lot in the fire in 2002..."

Also her books were in separate rooms. Because separate languages...

*sigh*

There's a lot to be said for Old Europe.

meowzbark
11-16-2012, 09:21 PM
Ebook reading is reading, there's no doubt about that. But it is different, and I'm finding that I don't much like the difference. I can't easily page back to refresh my memory of an earlier scene in an ebook. I can't scribble notes in the margins -- while I can add annotations in some readers, I can't use the shorthand symbols that I had been using to mark up paper books. Worse of all is the eyestrain, which I never got while reading paper books. (Granted, I'm reading on an LED and not an e-ink display. Switching to e-ink would probably help my eyestrain.)

Ebook reading isn't as pleasurable. I'm sure that I'm just an old fogie, and the next generation will hardly notice the difference, but I may be too attached to paper to ever enjoy reading any other way.

I can't stand reading books on LED, which is why I'll probably never upgrade from the basic Kindle. e-ink isn't as good as a paperback but it is much easier on the eyes.

veinglory
11-16-2012, 09:22 PM
Blah, blah, blah.

Will nobody think of the homeless silverfish!!!!

willietheshakes
11-16-2012, 09:23 PM
Yes, it's pretentious, and over-wrought, and too sweeping.

But I actually agree with a lot of what he has to say. Yes, much is gained, but something IS lost in the move to screen-reading.

(shrugs)

I'm not going to say that e-reading isn't reading, but it is different, and far from my preference.

writingismypassion
11-16-2012, 09:33 PM
I prefer printed books, but I wouldn't say e-reading isn't reading. The experience could be different, but it's still reading.

Mclesh
11-16-2012, 09:49 PM
I actually thought I wouldn't like using an e-reader and was surprised with my first e-book. The pages were easy to read. I don't remember having any eye strain. Not that I'm planning to give up on paperbacks. Not at all.

Like so many of you have said, it's just different.

mirandashell
11-16-2012, 10:06 PM
I can't scribble notes in the margins -- while I can add annotations in some readers, I can't use the shorthand symbols that I had been using to mark up paper books.


I just physically and mentally shuddered.......


You are never borrowing one of my books!

Phaeal
11-16-2012, 10:08 PM
I stopped after the writer seemed to assert that an Augustine in the age of scrolls or an Augustine in the age of screens couldn't have had a conversion experience.

I guess the conversion induction nerves are all located in that part of the fingerpad which receives pressure from insertion into a book.

Shadow_Ferret
11-16-2012, 10:53 PM
Also, pretentious article is pretentious (http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2012/11/reading_on_a_kindle_is_not_the_same_as_reading_a_b ook.html?et_mid=590098&rid=233066661).

This article on Slate seems to be saying that a book is a sacred experience, and the tactile sensations associated with reading essential to our enjoyment and true appreciation of literature.

I'm curious to see if anyone here still thinks that ebooks are Teh Devil...

Personally, I love ebooks. I'm just waiting for that musty paper-scented Kindle. :D
Yes. Ebooks are teh devil. I love paper and I get angry when a book I want to read isn't available in print. I can't put an eBook on my shelf as a trophy to my literacy.

The article however, is a bunch of shit and Slate probably needed a filler piece.

willietheshakes
11-16-2012, 10:55 PM
We're writers here, right?

Can we please stop referring to it as an article, and refer to it as an excerpt, which is what it is?

Shadow_Ferret
11-17-2012, 12:14 AM
We're writers here, right?

Can we please stop referring to it as an article, and refer to it as an excerpt, which is what it is?
I won't call it an excerpt because I don't know if it was excerpted, which means to me that it was cut from a much larger work. I don't know how the book that this was reprinted from is laid out. This could be a complete essay on this topic from that book. ;)

Jamesaritchie
11-17-2012, 12:51 AM
Also, pretentious article is pretentious (http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2012/11/reading_on_a_kindle_is_not_the_same_as_reading_a_b ook.html?et_mid=590098&rid=233066661).

This article on Slate seems to be saying that a book is a sacred experience, and the tactile sensations associated with reading essential to our enjoyment and true appreciation of literature.

I'm curious to see if anyone here still thinks that ebooks are Teh Devil...

Personally, I love ebooks. I'm just waiting for that musty paper-scented Kindle. :D

I greatly prefer holding an reading a print book, but reading a story is reading a story. I do suspect there something in the "hold our attention" factor, but that's just a guess. From my experience, those who read e-books do seem to put them down faster and more often than those who read print, but I don't know if this is widespread, or just happens to be the case with the few people I've watched read e-books.

I know it's true for me. When I hunker down with a print book, I read longer, and lose myself faster and deeper. But I'm old.

willietheshakes
11-17-2012, 01:09 AM
I won't call it an excerpt because I don't know if it was excerpted, which means to me that it was cut from a much larger work. I don't know how the book that this was reprinted from is laid out. This could be a complete essay on this topic from that book. ;)

Good lord - I've been out-pedanted. Huzzah!

Okay, don't call it an excerpt if you don't want. But it sure as fuck isn't an article.

There's a review of this in tomorrow's National Post (http://arts.nationalpost.com/2012/11/16/open-book-book-was-there-by-andrew-piper/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter) - I'm now very, very curious to read it.

Xelebes
11-17-2012, 01:13 AM
This article is just going to make me angry, isn't it?

Why get angry when you can laugh heartily?

willietheshakes
11-17-2012, 01:16 AM
I've now read it a couple of times, and I'm a bit puzzled: can someone point me to where, in the excerpt, the AUTHOR says that e-reading isn't reading?

Not the subhead (which, we all know, the writer isn't responsible for), but within the text?

Thanks.

mayqueen
11-17-2012, 01:31 AM
I can't scribble notes in the margins -- while I can add annotations in some readers, I can't use the shorthand symbols that I had been using to mark up paper books.


I just physically and mentally shuddered.......


You are never borrowing one of my books!

I never mark up novels, but I definitely mark up nonfiction like crazy. By and large academic texts are not on e-readers, and I probably wouldn't want to read them on one because I take lots of notes in the margins. I know some of my colleagues do all of their note-taking on their laptops or using iPads or whatever else. I just can't get into that. I also loan out my academic texts. It does drive me crazy, though, when someone loans me a book with their markings in it. I want to find the point for myself!

Ah, I guess that means I agree with the author in certain ways.

Filigree
11-17-2012, 01:43 AM
to underscore irony, there is a Kindle version of the book.

'E-reading isn't reading' is the abstract one takes from the excerpt, during which the author enshrines the physical act of reading. Sad thing is, I can agree with him on a few points.

E-readers are great for research or recreational reading.

But nothing still sends chills up my spine like visiting one of the Book Arts rooms at Cambridge, the Southwest rooms at Arizona State or the Phoenix Public Library, or the the assorted libraries I saw in Italy years ago. There are books in my personal collection that I'm glad are not digital, because petting them is a large part of reading them.

Ceremonial reading is a combination of all the senses funneling straight into the mind. I've had many almost 'conversion' experiences over the years, and they were nearly all in the presence of great books, great art, or amazing weather.

Rhoda Nightingale
11-17-2012, 01:53 AM
Mm. Well, I have an overwhelming preference for print books, this is true. Still, it's an aesthetic preference. If I were to read the same book in one format or the other, it'd still be the same book.

I wonder how the scribe of the "article" or "excerpt" or whatever we're calling the linked thing feels about audio books? The earliest stories were passed down orally, after all.

What bothers me about this is more the underlying implication that e-books aren't real books, therefore the people who write them aren't real writers. Which is just insulting on a level I'm sure I don't need to explain to anyone here.

willietheshakes
11-17-2012, 02:04 AM
Mm. Well, I have an overwhelming preference for print books, this is true. Still, it's an aesthetic preference. If I were to read the same book in one format or the other, it'd still be the same book.

Which isn't a point he's actually arguing.

I find myself fascinated by the emphasis in the piece on the physicality and the actions of reading -- they get to the heart of why I read differently on paper vs on screen.


What bothers me about this is more the underlying implication that e-books aren't real books, therefore the people who write them aren't real writers. Which is just insulting on a level I'm sure I don't need to explain to anyone here.

If you take the subhead out of the equation -- and I think one must -- I don't get that implication at all.

Jamesaritchie
11-17-2012, 02:30 AM
We're writers here, right?

Can we please stop referring to it as an article, and refer to it as an excerpt, which is what it is?

An excerpt just tells readers there's more if they want it. I didn't notice it saying it was part of a larger work, which is what an except is. And whatever it is, it's a standalone piece. I would say it isn't an article, though. I'd say it's really more of an essay than anything.

I've sold similar pieces, and they always sell as essays.

Jamesaritchie
11-17-2012, 02:35 AM
What bothers me about this is more the underlying implication that e-books aren't real books, therefore the people who write them aren't real writers. Which is just insulting on a level I'm sure I don't need to explain to anyone here.

I didn't get that at all. Most selling e-books out there are released in print first, and then become an e-book. Same writer, same words, but published in a different form. This piece is about the difference between the form of the books, and has nothing to do with who wrote them.

There are differences. That's just how it is. Some may be good, some may be bad, but we will interact with the differently.

I also read nothing that said an e-book isn't reading.

A lot of things are being inferred that were never implied.

willietheshakes
11-17-2012, 02:36 AM
An excerpt just tells readers there's more if they want it. I didn't notice it saying it was part of a larger work, which is what an except is.

Gasp! I had no idea that's what an excerpt was!

From the byline: Reprinted with permission from Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times, by Andrew Piper, published by the University of Chicago Press. © 2012 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.


And whatever it is, it's a standalone piece. I would say it isn't an article, though. I'd say it's really more of an essay than anything.

I'm fine with that.

willietheshakes
11-17-2012, 02:37 AM
I didn't get that at all. Most selling e-books out there are released in print first, and then become an e-book. Same writer, same words, but published in a different form. This piece is about the difference between the form of the books, and has nothing to do with who wrote them.

There are differences. That's just how it is. Some may be good, some may be bad, but we will interact with the differently.

I also read nothing that said an e-book isn't reading.

A lot of things are being inferred that were never implied.

You know how uncomfortable it makes me when we agree, right?

CQuinlan
11-17-2012, 04:14 AM
I wonder if people made the arguments that books weren't as good as sitting around the story telling each other bits of a story you happen to remember when they became popular...

Amarie
11-17-2012, 04:20 AM
It's quite a leap for Piper to assume Augustine was only moved to his religious experience because he was reading a book and not a scroll: "Not just reading but reading books was aligned in Augustine with the act of personal conversion."

Most people who experience a profound religious revelation would say it's the words that bring them to it, not the casing or manner in which they read or hear the words.

calieber
11-17-2012, 05:52 AM
I used to think there was a significant difference between Kindle-reading and book-reading. Turned out I just couldn't get into Slaughterhouse-Five. I don't think medium made a huge difference there.

The exception is cookbooks, because I don't really read them anyway, and the way I use cookbooks, it's easier to have a physical book.

Bookewyrme
11-17-2012, 07:05 AM
I stopped reading when he referenced Augustine, but one point bothers me. I'm fairly sure (though I could be wrong) that Augustine would not have been reading the Bible in book form as we think of it. After all, wasn't Augustine alive and writing before the advent of the printing press? Wouldn't he have been reading a scroll more likely?

As for the larger topic, everything I have to say has already been said by others before. Except I'm MORE likely to make notes/'mark-up' a book on my e-reader than a paper book. I have a hard time even making myself write in my academic books. I don't know why.

But really, all you people with your newfangled paper aren't REALLY experiencing reading properly. Clay tablets and papyrus are the only TRUE way to experience the written word! Duh. ;)

Laer Carroll
11-17-2012, 08:16 AM
The experience of reading an ebook and a "pbook" version of a book is different. And it's different for different people, as several of the posters here have said.

Each has advantages over the other.

Among them is the fact that you can store a hundred or a thousand or (not too many years from now) a million ecopies in one device. You can also do searches within an ecopy a lot faster and more flexibly. Ebooks can also have active and interactive images inside them.

Pbooks however have benefited from several centuries of evolution in the ease and pleasure of reading printed matter. Just think how many thousands of work-hours have gone in making better fonts, as one of many examples.

In the next few years ebooks will improve drastically. They will become lighter, skinnier, more tactile, and the displays will become easier to read. The price will continue to drop, to the point where we may have a dozen or dozens of ereaders and/or tablets scattered around our homes and work places. The software and procedures for creating, buying, and sharing books and magazines will become easier, cheaper, and more pleasant.

Sorry! In addition to being an author, I'm also a software and systems engineer who's been tasked both at NASA and Boeing to predict future tech. Sometimes the extrapolation habit kicks in!

AllieKat
11-17-2012, 11:12 AM
I don't mind people preferring print books. I love print books. I do find it annoying when people decide to look down their noses about ebooks because they're Going To Destroy Civilization. *eyeroll*

Medievalist
11-17-2012, 11:50 AM
I miss the sensation of a sun-warmed clay tablet, and the feel of the ridges and pocks left by the reed against my fingers.

bearilou
11-17-2012, 04:27 PM
I'm just waiting for that musty paper-scented Kindle. :D

I'd like a set of book-paper scented candles.

Otherwise, meh about the article. If someone wants to judge me by what form I'm reading (or the actual books I'm reading), clearly they need to work something out in themselves because I can't believe that their judgment is really about me.

I couldn't read the article/essay/excerpt. There were a lot of words, densly packed in there, sounding all *hand-wavey*. I mean, not one vampire, werewolf, dead body, explosion, car chase, dream sequence, flashback, personal description, backstory...hell I would have taken a prologue at this point.

BORED NOW.

Buffysquirrel
11-17-2012, 05:11 PM
And breathing the artifical atmosphere on the ISS isn't breathing.

I don't like ebooks myself. But I would never claim they're not books, or that reading them isn't reading, or that elephants live on the moon.

Personal Prose
11-17-2012, 05:51 PM
Maybe Amazon can come up with a scratch and sniff app for the Kindle.

In all honesty, I purchased my first Kindle over two years ago, kicking and screaming as clicked to purchase. One Kindle and one iPad later, I have to admit I've read more over the last two years than the previous ten years combined. Do I miss the smell? Yes. But I like the fact that the Kindle is so light weight, I can read on any device. I can read several books at the same time, where ever I am. And, I can increase the font size when my eyes grow tired.

On a side note, my 86 year-old mother is on her second Kindle. She wore out her first one.

bearilou
11-17-2012, 09:29 PM
I don't like ebooks myself. But I would never claim they're not books, or that reading them isn't reading, or that elephants live on the moon.

:e2cry:

Jamesaritchie
11-17-2012, 09:35 PM
You know how uncomfortable it makes me when we agree, right?

Yeah, me too. We need to corelate our responses better.

Jamesaritchie
11-17-2012, 09:40 PM
I stopped reading when he referenced Augustine, but one point bothers me. I'm fairly sure (though I could be wrong) that Augustine would not have been reading the Bible in book form as we think of it. After all, wasn't Augustine alive and writing before the advent of the printing press? Wouldn't he have been reading a scroll more likely?

As for the larger topic, everything I have to say has already been said by others before. Except I'm MORE likely to make notes/'mark-up' a book on my e-reader than a paper book. I have a hard time even making myself write in my academic books. I don't know why.

But really, all you people with your newfangled paper aren't REALLY experiencing reading properly. Clay tablets and papyrus are the only TRUE way to experience the written word! Duh. ;)

What we think of as books were around LONG before the printing press was invented. The printing press simply allowed books to be mass produced, rather than done by hand. But we did not jump straight from scrolls to books produced on a printing press.

Again, people seem to think this essay says all sorts of things that it doesn't. There are differences. There simply are. That's a fact, not opinion. We can argue whether the differences are good, bad, or indifferent, but they are real.

elindsen
11-17-2012, 09:56 PM
People always seem to be against technology. There was this stink that it isn't music when it's on an MP3 in my neck of the woods. Then people started claiming it wasn't dancing on things like Wii and Kinect.

Just ignore the ignorance.

WeaselFire
11-17-2012, 11:07 PM
This article on Slate...

Reading Slate isn't really reading.


I'm curious to see if anyone here still thinks that ebooks are Teh Devil...

They aren't. But he certainly had a hand in their development. :)

Jeff

muravyets
11-17-2012, 11:37 PM
What we think of as books were around LONG before the printing press was invented. The printing press simply allowed books to be mass produced, rather than done by hand. But we did not jump straight from scrolls to books produced on a printing press.

Again, people seem to think this essay says all sorts of things that it doesn't. There are differences. There simply are. That's a fact, not opinion. We can argue whether the differences are good, bad, or indifferent, but they are real.
In the end, this is what it comes down to.

Also, that a St. Augustine reference in just about anything other than a piece about St. Augustine is a reliable signal to stop reading.

When it comes to print vs digital, I am pro-print. That doesn't mean I'm anti-digital. I prefer to read books, but as an artist/writer, I am curious to use digital media to tell stories, even if I would prefer to have my own stories in my possession, printed on paper. The issue is layered, and I look at it from more than one angle.

1. Function.

For me personally, the technology of digital media is still primitive and the industry is still conflicted about how it sells books via digital media. When the tech can do what I want and the industry figures itself out, maybe it will be worth the money and effort on my part.

However, it will never replace print, for a couple of reasons. The first is that print and digital are different media, and one is not necessarily a replacement for the other.

If nothing else, print allows a reader to own a book. For me that is probably the primary consideration.

If the tech ever gets to where I consider it fully realized, then I can see myself using an e-reader or reading on a PC for what I consider throw-away books. Look, I do consider all writing to be real writing, and all books real books, and all writers real writers, but still, not everyone is a collector of everything. I would be sad to see the end of magazines, but it would probably be an improvement to the environment if periodicals went digital-only. How many of us keep articles, and for those of us who do, how many articles do we read on winning the clutter wars that tell us to stop saving magazines for a few articles? Likewise with books that I enjoy reading but which I'll never read more than once or refer back to for any reason -- this includes a lot of genre series, as well as topical non-fiction. If it's not a book I would pack for a move, then it's not a book I need to have in my house or hand. Finally, I see no reason to keep printing books that are updated frequently and cost a shit-ton of money. I'm talking about text books and professional reference books.

But if it is something I want to keep, to re-read, to reference, to add to a collection or a body of study, then yeah, I want it physically in my house and in my hand. I want it to function with the instinctual ease of the human brain. I want it to be analog, not requiring electricity to access, long-lasting (maybe I'm lucky in where I live, but I have never had silverfish in my books). I want to be able to annotate it, add inserts, etc. And I want it undeletable. Put that all together, it adds up to print.

So, if I could find an e-reader that didn't get on my nerves and/or give me migraines, and if, say, Bon Appetit or KnitPicks magazine and whatever is the hot new steampunk romance series, were equally available online, and if the price of subscription to the magazines included the right to print pdfs of recipes and instructions, then e-reading would have a place in my life.

But when it comes to building my collection of works in my genres, and of literary and non-fiction classics, and my favorite contemporary authors, and reference books I use over and over again, I want those on paper. Period. Because print works best for how I will keep and use those books.

2. Form.

Like Filigree, I am also an artist who makes books. My artist books are not sculptural objects, except to the extent that all books are sculptural objects. My works are more like graphic novels or stories, handmade, hand-bound, constructed in a style and with materials designed to also deliver the message of the work.

Technically, many of my books could be digitized. However, they cannot simply be transferred from one medium to another. They are designed to be physical books. If they are digitized, they will lose all of the interactive sensory input of a book object and, thus, lose much of their meaning and impact as an art object.

It has been said many times, that print and digital are merely the media, the delivery methods of the stories. But remember, to a great extent, the medium is the message. Just ask Marshall McLuhan. ;)

Each medium offers forms that affect how the message is delivered, and it is my personal view that the effective storyteller should tailor the medium to best deliver their message. Print offers a variety of forms that allow the storyteller to shape the reader's experience. Digital offers a variety of different forms that give the same opportunity. To me, it is wasteful of a medium for the author not to exploit its unique possibilities.

Examples of what I mean: I am in the planning stages of an artist book that will be a wordless gothic melodrama of the downfall of a great family. Maybe a haunted house story. It's an ambitious project and will require on-location photography of surf and the destruction of a large sandcastle by waves.

I'm considering both a print version and an online version, but they will be two very different works. By using different media, I will have to tell the story in two different ways, and by doing that, I will end up telling two different stories.

Print media will allow me to manipulate the physical object so as enhance the message of tragedy and destruction in a personal and intimate way, which will emphasize the up-close emotional impact of being inside the doomed castle.

Digital media, on the other hand, will allow me to incorporate sound and video. I could actually include a film of the waves destroying the castle in the climactic chapter. This medium allows me to put greater emphasis on the external forces of destiny affecting the characters. This changes the nature of the story by changing its focus.

That's how medium affects message for me as an artist. As a writer, my consideration of medium is similar.

I have two kinds of stories I like to write: supernatural detective thrillers set in the real world with fantastical elements added, and epic fantasy adventures set in an alternate reality.

The supernatural detective stories are entirely word-focused. Basically, their full impact is in their words, and extra-textual elements would just be distractions. Whether print or digital, I should be considering media that will deliver a seamless, comfortable reading experience.

However, for my fantasy adventure, I want to celebrate the invented world, but not load the stories down with a lot of non-plot-related words. For that, I want extra-textual materials. In print, that might mean a binding in the style of the invented world, illustrations, pull-out sections, inserts, marginalia and addenda. In digital format, that might mean reader-controlled music and video clips, pop-up interactive maps, etc.

There is an argument to be made that, as writers, we should not be worried about such delivery mechanisms. We should just write and let publishers worry about format, so long as we get paid fairly. But while I see the sense of such an idea, I disagree with it.

For one, I think writers are artists of a kind. Words are their primary medium, but publication format is to the words as substrate is to paint. A work on canvas is different from the same work on wood or paper, etc. A story read on paper is different from the same story read on a screen because the medium does affect how the work of literary art is experienced and used.

Back in the day when there were no media options, then this question did not even exist for writers the way it has always existed for artists. But now that there are options, writers do have the ability to consider how the medium affects their message. As an artist, I personally feel that we should have a responsibility to consider whether and how we want to use various media to deliver our stories to readers.

It's not the same as when someone else buys the rights to adapt a book to different media. The writer does not retain control over how the story is changed by the filmmaker. However, in choosing a publication format, the writer is placing his/her own work over which he/she retains at least some measure of control. For myself personally, given that kind of option, I will explore it fully. Speaking only of media now, a digital book that is only words scrolling across my screen is as boring as hell to me, whereas a printed book which is only words lying on a series of pages sewn or glued together is exciting and pleasurable. Clearly, one is a full use of the medium and one is leaving the medium unrealized.

Medievalist
11-17-2012, 11:47 PM
I stopped reading when he referenced Augustine, but one point bothers me. I'm fairly sure (though I could be wrong) that Augustine would not have been reading the Bible in book form as we think of it. After all, wasn't Augustine alive and writing before the advent of the printing press? Wouldn't he have been reading a scroll more likely?

No, that part is accurate. The rise of the codex or codex book, that is a volume that is roughly rectangular, made of bound pages, is tied very closely in the West to the rise of Christianity. Think c. 100 C.E. roughly for the birth of the codex book.

The oldest complete NT and OT Bible is the Codex Sinaiticus; it's fourth century C.E. That means that it pre-dates the use of spaces between words, for instance.

Medievalist
11-17-2012, 11:50 PM
So, if I could find an e-reader that didn't get on my nerves and/or give me migraines, and if, say, Bon Appetit or KnitPicks magazine and whatever is the hot new steampunk romance series, were equally available online, and if the price of subscription to the magazines included the right to print pdfs of recipes and instructions, then e-reading would have a place in my life.

You can do that now with Bon Appetit; not sure about KnitPicks.

Jamesaritchie
11-18-2012, 12:23 AM
In my ideal world, every print book I bought would have the e-book version come along with it.

And I think the real problem with e-books, and what I think this essay was trying to say, has nothing to do with the words, or with reading, it the e-book reader versus the paper and and cover of a print book.

The words, the meaning, the content are the same in both forms. So that essay did not say writers aren't writers, if they write e-books. Really, who writes e-books? Who writes print books? I don't. I write manuscripts. I write words. I write content. I do not write the form my words and content are released in.

My problem with e-books is the reader. I haven't found one I like at all. This will change.

Being able to store a thousand books is great, but this has nothing at all to do with reading just one of those books, Being able to search the book is great, too, but this applies to nonfiction more than fiction, and if I'm actually reading the book, I seldom have to search. And if I do, I find it no more difficult with a properly contented and indexed print book than with an e-book. But, again, this is not reading, and it is not form.

It simply isn't about the book, it's about the experience of holding paper, flipping pages, feel, weight, or holding a device and pushing buttons or touching a screen.

Medievalist
11-18-2012, 12:36 AM
The real problem with the article and with the book is that it's all been said before, and better.

Lanham, Richard. The Electronic Word and the Democracy of the Arts. University of Chicago Press, 1993.

See excerpt: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/E/bo3661152.html

The other problem is that Andrew Piper's grasp of the history of the book is somewhat lacking.

mayqueen
11-18-2012, 12:54 AM
I miss the sensation of a sun-warmed clay tablet, and the feel of the ridges and pocks left by the reed against my fingers.
Those were the days.

RedWombat
11-18-2012, 02:27 AM
In my day, we had to walk to our books! And it was uphill, both ways! In six feet of snow! With the sun blazing down on us and silverfish the size of buffalo and I once caught cholera from the card catalog and you had to defeat a librarian in single combat before you were allowed to check out a book with swear words or pie charts in it!

And we were grateful.

Kids today. I dunno. Soft, the lot of 'em.

muravyets
11-18-2012, 02:34 AM
You can do that now with Bon Appetit; not sure about KnitPicks.
Knitpicks, too -- at least they have a lot of instructions available for download -- but I don't need an e-reader for it. It's from their websites. I'm imagining a melding of print and online services into one thing that would give a point to a Kindle.

davidh219
11-18-2012, 02:57 AM
I, personally, will never own an e-reader if I can help it. However, I don't look down on those who do use them, and anyone who does is a pretentious prick. I simply don't like e-readers because:

1) The Look and Feel
I like the feel of a book in my hand, of turning the pages, the smell of paper and ink. I like looking at my bookmark and knowing how far I am into it. I love putting them on the shelf, finding space for them when I'm running out of shelves, and looking at their covers and colorful spines.

2)The Cost
On the rare occasion that I ever think about getting a Kindle, I think to myself, "Is it worth it?" and always decide that, for me, it isn't. I never read on the bus or train, only in my own home, so the convenience factor is negligible for me. Yes Kindle copies cost less than paper copies, but in the short term I can't help but think, "I could buy so many books for a hundred dollars, so why would I ever spend that money on something that just allows me to read books and nothing else?"
It's like that cautionary tale of the boy who gets money, then goes to buy a wallet to put the money in, but spends all the money on the wallet and then just has an empty wallet. I just can't ever bring myself to do it. Maybe if I wasn't so poor.

3) The Inspiration
Just looking at all of my beloved books on their shelves inspires me to write. A cursory glance at a title on a spine brings all the memories of that book rushing back. Being surrounded by books is a writer stereotype that I'm not looking to break out of any time soon.

4) The Safety
I want all of my books to still be in my possession 10, 20, 30, even 50 years from now. Sure I could lose them all in a fire or a flood, but I don't think it's that likely. With stories of Amazon wiping people's entire Kindle library without explanation, and the way file formats, hardware, and even companies become obsolete faster than you can blink an eye, who's to say your gigantic kindle library will still be there for you in ten years? I honestly think that it probably won't be. Companies love to screw over the consumer these days, and you are, after all, technically buying the "license" to read the book, and don't own the book itself, as is the case with any digital media, and that's a terrifying thought to me. No thank you.

But hey, if you're one of those people who doesn't care about any of that and just wants the convenience of a Kindle, then more power to you. It's just not for me, and never will be.

My grandma has a Kindle, and she loves it, but she's not a writer, nor does she place much value on books themselves. She reads like 5 books a week, and they're all terrible, and she forgets them instantly. I've never heard her say a book is bad, or good, really. She just reads them passively to make the day go by. A Kindle is perfect for someone like her.

Amadan
11-18-2012, 03:35 AM
4) The Safety
I want all of my books to still be in my possession 10, 20, 30, even 50 years from now. Sure I could lose them all in a fire or a flood, but I don't think it's that likely. With stories of Amazon wiping people's entire Kindle library without explanation, and the way file formats, hardware, and even companies become obsolete faster than you can blink an eye, who's to say your gigantic kindle library will still be there for you in ten years? I honestly think that it probably won't be. Companies love to screw over the consumer these days, and you are, after all, technically buying the "license" to read the book, and don't own the book itself, as is the case with any digital media, and that's a terrifying thought to me. No thank you.



1. Amazon is not the only place that sells ebooks.
2. DRM stripping is easy. Then what you've got is essentially a text file. (Yes, I'm simplifying.) File formats and hardware really don't become obselete "faster than you can blink an eye."

I won't argue with your other points, but a few precautions with your ebook library make it at least as durable, probably more so, than your physical library (which can be destroyed by fire or flood, etc.).

Amadan
11-18-2012, 03:38 AM
Okay, I lied. I'm also going to argue with this point:


But hey, if you're one of those people who doesn't care about any of that and just wants the convenience of a Kindle, then more power to you. It's just not for me, and never will be.

My grandma has a Kindle, and she loves it, but she's not a writer, nor does she place much value on books themselves. She reads like 5 books a week, and they're all terrible, and she forgets them instantly. I've never heard her say a book is bad, or good, really. She just reads them passively to make the day go by. A Kindle is perfect for someone like her.




Wow, how patronizing is that? So ereaders are for people who don't actually value books or care about whether they're any good. Okay, then. I'm trying to reconcile that with this:


However, I don't look down on those who do use them, and anyone who does is a pretentious prick.

davidh219
11-18-2012, 05:02 AM
Wow, how patronizing is that? So ereaders are for people who don't actually value books or care about whether they're any good. Okay, then. I'm trying to reconcile that with this:

I'm not saying that it's only for people like that, I'm just saying that for her physical books are actually a huge hindrance, and always have been. It's not even about her preferences at that point, it's just the correct choice to use a Kindle. Defensive much?

davidh219
11-18-2012, 05:37 AM
2. DRM stripping is easy. Then what you've got is essentially a text file. (Yes, I'm simplifying.) File formats and hardware really don't become obselete "faster than you can blink an eye."

I won't argue with your other points, but a few precautions with your ebook library make it at least as durable, probably more so, than your physical library (which can be destroyed by fire or flood, etc.).

Gonna have to disagree with you there. Even removing the DRM, you have no guarantee. PDF may be ubiquitous now, but will it still be around in ten years? Who knows? Even if it is, will the e-readers of the future even allow it on their devices? Current trends suggest that they probably won't, as companies are moving more and more towards proprietary software and file formats.

All you're offering is speculation. You think that if you strip your books of DRM and store them on dropbox or something that they'll be safe, but there are so many things that could prove you wrong.

The oldest book I have is a high school physics textbook from 1912. It's a hundred years old now, and it's in perfect condition. The kind of technology that's going to be around a hundred years from today will be so different that neither of us can even guess as to what it will look like. I realize I won't be alive then, but what if I want to pass my collection on to my kids and grand-kids?

Digital media is so ephemeral and easy to forget about and misplace that I will bet anything you won't still have all your books in 40 years. Computers get corrupted, hard drives get replaced, cloud storage companies go out of business or the username/password to the account gets lost or forgotten, etc. I constantly forget the password to my dropbox account because I hardly ever need to log into the website itself and that, to me, is scary. Way more scary than a fire or flood that will, probably, never happen, and if it does I'll have way more to worry about than just my books anyway.

blueobsidian
11-18-2012, 05:47 AM
But hey, if you're one of those people who doesn't care about any of that and just wants the convenience of a Kindle, then more power to you. It's just not for me, and never will be.


You really are sounding completely patronizing. Starting a sentence with "But hey" is not the way to let people know that you think all opinions are valid. Personally, I do not think the smell of a book is not the important part of reading. Plus, since you have never owned an e-reader, I wonder if you have even read ONE complete book on one. If not, how do you know you won't like?

I used to think I would never like ebooks as much as a physical book. Then I got a basic Kindle. You know what? I like it better. It's lightweight and easy to hold when I'm curled up on the couch, which hardcovers and thick paperbacks aren't. It's easy to read in any light.

I'm really curious if you've developed this opinion based on actual experience, or if you've just decided that you are right without checking out the alternatives.

Oh yeah, another benefit of Kindle - easier packing when you move. I hate packing up box after box of books that I read once and will never read again, so they all just end up getting donated when I've moved.

davidh219
11-18-2012, 05:57 AM
You really are sounding completely patronizing. Starting a sentence with "But hey" is not the way to let people know that you think all opinions are valid. Personally, I do not think the smell of a book is not the important part of reading. Plus, since you have never owned an e-reader, I wonder if you have even read ONE complete book on one. If not, how do you know you won't like?

I used to think I would never like ebooks as much as a physical book. Then I got a basic Kindle. You know what? I like it better. It's lightweight and easy to hold when I'm curled up on the couch, which hardcovers and thick paperbacks aren't. It's easy to read in any light.

I'm really curious if you've developed this opinion based on actual experience, or if you've just decided that you are right without checking out the alternatives.

Oh yeah, another benefit of Kindle - easier packing when you move. I hate packing up box after box of books that I read once and will never read again, so they all just end up getting donated when I've moved.

Notice my "but hey" was followed by "if you don't care about any of that" which includes the smell, which you said yourself you don't care about, proving my point... I don't see the problem here.

My girlfriend uses a Nook, and I read the time machine on it to test it out. Yes it's light, and yes that's nice. Again, not saying anybody is wrong for using one, it's just not for me. I use a fancy book stand when I read anyway and, more importantly, I want to keep my books for as long as possible. The fact that you donate your books because they're too big of a hassle to move proves that we are not of the same mind when it comes to this because I would never, ever do that. My books would be top priority :D

Medievalist
11-18-2012, 06:04 AM
Meh.

All the books I purchased from Baen, Peanut Press/eReader/Fictionwise in 2000 still work today, even on devices and OSs that didn't exist then.

For me, one of the plusses for ebooks is that I can purchase a high quality ebook of The Book of Kells for my iPad for $12.99, with much better image quality than the $800.00 limited print edition I purchased twenty years ago.

Amadan
11-18-2012, 07:45 AM
Gonna have to disagree with you there. Even removing the DRM, you have no guarantee. PDF may be ubiquitous now, but will it still be around in ten years? Who knows?

In ten years? Most assuredly. In fifty? Maybe not, but if some other format comes along to replace it, it's not like PDFs will instantaneously become obsolete, and there will still be software that can read it. ASCII text has been around for almost 50 years now.


Even if it is, will the e-readers of the future even allow it on their devices? Current trends suggest that they probably won't, as companies are moving more and more towards proprietary software and file formats.

Almost all devices allow text, PDFs, and epubs, even that most proprietary of devices, the Kindle. And the current trend is toward epub or other open source formats. Even Kindle and Nook books are just wrappers around an open source format. My prediction is that even Amazon will eventually give up on DRM.


All you're offering is speculation. You think that if you strip your books of DRM and store them on dropbox or something that they'll be safe, but there are so many things that could prove you wrong.

Like what, a global thermonuclear war that destroys the Internet? If you drop a file on Dropbox, leave it there, and come back twenty years later, having forgotten your password, yeah, you'll probably have trouble getting access. But I actually know how ebooks and computers work. It's not just random speculation.


The oldest book I have is a high school physics textbook from 1912. It's a hundred years old now, and it's in perfect condition. The kind of technology that's going to be around a hundred years from today will be so different that neither of us can even guess as to what it will look like. I realize I won't be alive then, but what if I want to pass my collection on to my kids and grand-kids?

Your book can be damaged or destroyed in many, many ways, while I have multiple backups of all my ebooks.


Digital media is so ephemeral and easy to forget about and misplace that I will bet anything you won't still have all your books in 40 years.

All of them? Probably not. The ones I feel it important to keep? Yes, I will. Digital media is no more "ephemeral" than your hundred-year-old textbook. It's not this faerie medium that Amazon can wave a wand at and make vanish at midnight.

Medievalist
11-18-2012, 08:51 AM
The oldest book I have is a high school physics textbook from 1912. It's a hundred years old now, and it's in perfect condition.

Yeah, this is a silly tack to take.

My oldest book is a cuneiform tablet from the Akkadian era, c. 14th c. B.C.E.

Were I to drop it on our kitchen floor, it would shatter.

A book is a container for data, usually text, but not exclusively so.

(Note that the English word book is Old English for beech, because thin sheets of beechwood were used for writing, often as reuseable writing surfaces filled with wax. )

There's a tendency to make the book into a talisman. I can sympathize.

The best way to make a text survive is to propagate it widely, that is, to make many copies and distribute them.

We have roughly 64 copies in ms. of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

We have a single badly damaged (by time, insects, use, and a fire) manuscript of Beowulf.

Chaucer's work has never stopped being "in print," in the sense of new copies freshly made being available for purchase.

Beowulf spent hundreds of years languishing, unknown, and unrecognized.

There are about 400 years between the time the Beowulf ms. was created, and the time the oldest Canterbury Tales ms. was created.

Having multiple copies of a text in the "liquid" form of digital text is far more likely to encourage long term survival and viability.

The same liquid text can be poured in multiple digital file formats, printed on paper, copied by hand, etched on stone or glass, or imparted via the speech and sound.

Tablet, scroll, manuscript, printed codex book, ePub—they're all containers.

What's important is their contents, not the vessel.

davidh219
11-18-2012, 09:02 AM
All of them? Probably not. The ones I feel it important to keep? Yes, I will. Digital media is no more "ephemeral" than your hundred-year-old textbook. It's not this faerie medium that Amazon can wave a wand at and make vanish at midnight.

Amazon can do exactly that, providing you don't take the extra step of removing DRM and backing them up elsewhere, which shouldn't even be necessary, honestly. And it's not just a matter of being able to keep the books stored on a hard drive somewhere and them being safe that way, it's a matter of memory. Are your kids going to know your dropbox password? Will they remember it? Will you? Will they even remember it exists? Maybe you don't care about passing your books down to your kids, and that's fine, but I do, and that's all I'm saying. Passing digital books from generation to generation is a messy and uncertain business that nobody's really tried yet. You can't tell me that you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that dropbox will still be around in 20 years, because you don't. Passwords are easy to forget, websites get left by the wayside. At least nobody's going to forget about my giant wall of books, even if I die and never say anything about them. Not saying it's the right way, or that you're wrong, or anything like that, but that's one of my main reasons for preferring print books, and I don't see how I'm wrong for thinking that way. No need for hostilities people. To each their own.

Medievalist
11-18-2012, 09:17 AM
[QUOTE=davidh219;7750971Maybe you don't care about passing your books down to your kids, and that's fine, but I do, and that's all I'm saying. No need to get so argumentative.[/QUOTE]

Having people disagree with you does not make us "argumentative."

Unless you're buying archival quality books (and there aren't many publishers or printers creating them) the hardcover book you buy today and treat gently and keep on a shelf at home has an average life span of about twenty years even if you never take it off the shelf. It's already decaying before you even buy it.

If you live in a city in China, in Los Angeles, Florida, India, or Chicago, you'll be lucky to get it to last twenty years.

The ink will start etching holes in the paper at about 15 years. The glue will first become brittle and then crack, which means the binding will crack. Since modern books are rarely sewn, that means that the probability is quite high that you'll start losing pages.

You don't want to know what happens to mass market trades, or book club editions. A Penguin paperback, for instance, or a standard mass market paperback, will have brittle, yellow pages in about ten years, if you buy it today.

Look for publishers who state in the colophon that they're using low acid paper or recycled paper. You'll have a better chance of survivability.

davidh219
11-18-2012, 09:20 AM
Unless you're buying archival quality books (and there aren't many publishers or printers creating them) the hardcover book you buy today and treat gently and keep on a shelf at home has an average life span of about twenty years even if you never take it off the shelf. It's already decaying before you even buy it.


Look, I'm no expert on paper or anything, but my 40 year-old mass-market paperback copy of the exorcist disagrees with you. It's yellow as hell, but perfectly legible. Even cheap books can last a lot longer than you might think.

Medievalist
11-18-2012, 09:35 AM
Look, I'm no expert on paper or anything, but my 40 year-old mass-market paperback copy of the exorcist disagrees with you. It's yellow as hell, but perfectly legible. Even cheap books can last a lot longer than you might think.

What part of "today" do you not understand?

Today. That means Today. Not forty years ago.

Things have changed since then.

And I am an expert. I even know what "today" means.

Theo81
11-18-2012, 04:32 PM
Amazon can do exactly that, providing you don't take the extra step of removing DRM and backing them up elsewhere, which shouldn't even be necessary, honestly. And it's not just a matter of being able to keep the books stored on a hard drive somewhere and them being safe that way, it's a matter of memory. Are your kids going to know your dropbox password? Will they remember it? Will you? Will they even remember it exists? Maybe you don't care about passing your books down to your kids, and that's fine, but I do, and that's all I'm saying. Passing digital books from generation to generation is a messy and uncertain business that nobody's really tried yet. You can't tell me that you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that dropbox will still be around in 20 years, because you don't. Passwords are easy to forget, websites get left by the wayside. At least nobody's going to forget about my giant wall of books, even if I die and never say anything about them. Not saying it's the right way, or that you're wrong, or anything like that, but that's one of my main reasons for preferring print books, and I don't see how I'm wrong for thinking that way. No need for hostilities people. To each their own.

There are books and there are books. The only books I own which I'd hand down to the children I don't have are the Art books which cost me £75+ each, or the ones which have a personal meaning (and are objects rather than books).

I'm with Medi - *content* matters, not the method of delivery. If more people appreciated that, maybe there'd be less complaining about the "expense" of e-books.

(Also, I find a password list hidden in a place which will be found upon your death the best method for ensuring future generations can read all the casino based spam I receive.)

bearilou
11-18-2012, 04:51 PM
Amazon can do exactly that, providing you don't take the extra step of removing DRM and backing them up elsewhere, which shouldn't even be necessary, honestly.

No they can't. Not if I store them in a folder that is not My Kindle and on my hard drive. Also, you don't need to strip DRM just to store them. I have a backup of all my kindle and nook books preDRMstrip.

And how is that different than putting books in boxes and putting them in storage?

I have a 10'x10' storage unit. It's got a lot of boxes in it. I counted and sorted and over half of those boxes are books. I have had to put them in storage because at the moment, I have no room to put them in my home.

By the same token, I have enough books in my Kindle and in my Nook and in my misc ebook folders to fill several boxes and I've just burned them to DVD. Just one of them.

I can only imagine having to pack those if they were physical books and move them again. :e2thud:


And it's not just a matter of being able to keep the books stored on a hard drive somewhere and them being safe that way, it's a matter of memory. Are your kids going to know your dropbox password? Will they remember it? Will you? Will they even remember it exists?

I don't need a dropbox to store my digital books. I have a DVD burner and it doesn't require a password.


Maybe you don't care about passing your books down to your kids, and that's fine, but I do, and that's all I'm saying.

Wow. Emotional gutpunch, anyone? 'I CARE about my legacy, clearly you don't care about YOURS'.


Passing digital books from generation to generation is a messy and uncertain business that nobody's really tried yet. You can't tell me that you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that dropbox will still be around in 20 years, because you don't.

No we don't. You don't know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that your house won't catch fire and burn down to the ground either. Whether you have a wall of books or I have a box of DVDs, it's still going up with the rest of the house.


Not saying it's the right way, or that you're wrong, or anything like that, but that's one of my main reasons for preferring print books, and I don't see how I'm wrong for thinking that way. No need for hostilities people. To each their own.

No need for emotional manipulation, either, David and it's rife through your posts. It's fabulous that you cherish physical books. Really, as the vast majority of us here are writers, avid readers and married and partnered to writers and avid readers, we can fully appreciate the legacy of reading to pass down to our children. It's okay not to want digital books or to want to read them on any medium other than paper or even want to save them. Really, no one here is judging you. Books are books; reading is reading.

But if others of us think that leaving digital books to our children is just as much as leaving them a legacy to read, it's not much of a different argument than yours, just the 'physical' wrapping. The hazards of losing that in some catastrophe are present with any 'form' the book takes, even if the details are different.

Komnena
11-18-2012, 05:06 PM
As an SF fan I like the fact that classics long out of print are back in digital form.

Becky Black
11-18-2012, 05:35 PM
Pshaw, books! New fangled rubbish. It's not proper reading if it's not a scroll.

So obviously visually impaired people who use an ereader to get read at a font size they can read easily aren't really reading. Don't go claiming to have read a book, visually impaired people using ereaders! You've read nothing!

Personal Prose
11-18-2012, 06:05 PM
Let's throw more kindle into the fire. What about audio books?

mccardey
11-18-2012, 06:14 PM
Look, I'm no expert on paper or anything, but my 40 year-old mass-market paperback copy of the exorcist disagrees with you. It's yellow as hell, but perfectly legible...

Well yeah because THE DEVIL. :mob That why books get banned. It's for your own good. (Sister Anne Mary told me that- also forty years ago... )

Amadan
11-18-2012, 06:20 PM
Amazon can do exactly that, providing you don't take the extra step of removing DRM and backing them up elsewhere, which shouldn't even be necessary, honestly.

My ereader isn't a Kindle. Problem solved.

Seriously, Amazon is not the problem. With physical books, you don't even have the option of backing them up.


Maybe you don't care about passing your books down to your kids, and that's fine, but I do, and that's all I'm saying.


At least nobody's going to forget about my giant wall of books, even if I die and never say anything about them. Not saying it's the right way, or that you're wrong, or anything like that, but that's one of my main reasons for preferring print books, and I don't see how I'm wrong for thinking that way. No need for hostilities people. To each their own.

You're not wrong for preferring print books. You're wrong for passive-aggressively telling people who prefer digital books that they're fools who don't care about the written word or passing a legacy down to their kids.

mccardey
11-18-2012, 06:22 PM
You're not wrong for preferring print books. You're wrong for passive-aggressively telling people who prefer digital books that they're fools who don't care about the written word or passing a legacy down to their kids.

And for reading The Exorcist. :mob Obviously.





Ahem.

(That there ^ it's just an Aussie/Catholic joke... The Exorcist was quite a Thing at the time...)

Katie Elle
11-18-2012, 06:45 PM
And it's not just a matter of being able to keep the books stored on a hard drive somewhere and them being safe that way, it's a matter of memory. Are your kids going to know your dropbox password? Will they remember it? Will you? Will they even remember it exists? Maybe you don't care about passing your books down to your kids, and that's fine, but I do, and that's all I'm saying

What if your kids toss your paper books into a trash bag and bring them to the dump?

Overall, the article wasn't just pretentious, it was creepy and and reminded me of the fetish porn I write. Just substituting paper books for leather or boots or whatever.

French Maiden
11-18-2012, 07:24 PM
I love a good read as much as the next person, really thats what it's about. It doesnt matter how we get it, what we read it on, all that matters is that we enjoy it.

I love holding a book in my hands, the smell of the pages, the sound of paper rubbing against paper as it turns, the look of a beautifully organised book shelf. But there is only so much space in a small house and all 6 of my book cases are full.
Reading off an E-reader is no different than reading off a paperback in terms of recieving the content. If anything it makes it eaasier for the reader, being able to adjust font size, audio options, easy storage and no need for book marks. Plus the environmental factors, how many trees would have been cut down to stock all of my bookcases? I dont even want to think about it.

I was on the train the other day, an elderly lady was sitting next to me talking to her husband she looked around and said to hubby 'Look at all these peopl on their phones and their computers.' I was on my e-reader, if I had of been reading a paper back she probably wouldnt have thought anything of it. Naturally there are going to be people adverse to technology, this is because they are from a different era.

The world is changing and we can either jump on for the ride or sit back and watch it pass us by.

Toothpaste
11-18-2012, 07:27 PM
Look, there are advantages and disadvantages to both forms of media. Depending on who you are and your personality, chances are the advantages of one will outweigh the advantages of the other. Or maybe you'll appreciate both equally. The thing I'm seeing right now is a debate between people who have different taste, and thus it seems to me to be pointless. There truly isn't one pragmatically better medium, there is simply the one we prefer.

Me I prefer physical books. I like them as a physical work of art, I have yet to be able to spend money on something I don't get to keep as an object. I like decorating my home with books. I like glancing at a shelf while doing something else and instantly being reminded of a story and where i was when i read it. I also like reading books better because of the particular way I read. That being said i like my ereader for traveling, and for reading my friends' mss. I can also take out books from the library on it. But all this is simply my taste, it isn't the right way to read, it's just my way.

I guess my point is, can we stop judging each other? And stop trying to prove one is objectively superior? It ain't gonna happen.

calieber
11-18-2012, 07:42 PM
Seriously, Amazon is not the problem. With physical books, you don't even have the option of backing them up.
Actually, I think the problem is Amazon. It's not an issue with the idea of e-books, it's with Amazon's practices specifically.

(I only use my Kindle for stuff that's free and stuff I wouldn't miss if Amazon decided to disappear it or I otherwise lost access)

bearilou
11-18-2012, 07:48 PM
Actually, I think the problem is Amazon. It's not an issue with the idea of e-books, it's with Amazon's practices specifically.

Is this in reference to the 1984 incident of removing the book from ereaders? Yes, it was a boneheaded move.

But it's not a problem if you make a copy of your My Kindle Content folder and store it somewhere else. They can 'remove' all the books they like from my cloud and device, I still have it and can still read it.

CrastersBabies
11-18-2012, 08:06 PM
Insert eyeroll at the original article there.

That's really it. If I had an account at "Slate" I'd probably post, but honestly... I have better things to do than up that article's page hit.

RedWombat
11-18-2012, 08:07 PM
At the risk of demonstrating myself Not A True Bibliophile, if a thermonuclear war destroys the Internet, I expect I'll have other stuff on my mind than getting access to my library. But in preparation, my copy of Chicken Soup For The Radioactive Mutant's Soul is hard copy only.

Mr Flibble
11-18-2012, 08:38 PM
And it's not just a matter of being able to keep the books stored on a hard drive somewhere and them being safe that way, it's a matter of memory. Are your kids going to know your dropbox password? Will they remember it? Will you? Will they even remember it exists?

Not heard of digital wills (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/digital-wills-to-let-you-log-off-in-peace/story-fnb64oi6-1226518966066) then? (Gist: a digital executor will take care of internet/online stuff after you die, because you log your info - logins/passwords - with them. Also handy for getting rid of the embarrassing porno subscription on your credit card before the Other Half finds out ;))

ETA: I love my print books, but wouldn't be without my Kobo either.

Medievalist
11-18-2012, 08:55 PM
I guess my point is, can we stop judging each other? And stop trying to prove one is objectively superior? It ain't gonna happen.

I'd like to see books in all forms flourish. Wide dispersal is a good way of encouraging survival against the ravages of time.

It's not like anyone's stopped creating Torah scrolls, or hand-illuminating books.

Students who study Sumerian or Akkadian at the graduate level, or Egyptian, will almost certainly have an opportunity to try your hand and river-reed at making a tablet, or your brush and papyrus at making a scroll.

Medievalists generally take classes in paleography and learn to prepare vellum and then write on it.

Of the making of books there is no end.

But if we're buying modern printed books for longterm use, it's smart to start learning about what will last and what won't.

Look for colophons that mention low-acid paper, or better still, archive quality paper. Look for hardcovers that have stitching as well as glue for binding.

muravyets
11-18-2012, 09:09 PM
...
What's important is their contents, not the vessel.
From this may I take it you disagree with the points about books as objects and about artists/authors exploiting a medium's capabilities for message delivery which were made by me and Filigree?

Also that you disagree with Marshall McLuhan's ideas on media and communications (not hard to do, since his ideas are nearly unintelligible anyway, I guess)?

ETA: I'm asking because, as both a writer and an artist, I think those points are kind of heavy and speak to a possible future development in the wordy arts thanks to both new and old technologies. I think a lot of this kerfuffle over "proper" ways of reading (a nonsensical notion, I'm sure we agree) is due to people not yet wrapping their minds around the idea of these media as tools of creative expression, nor for some folks, thinking simply pragmatically about their practical, logistical and functional needs.


ETA2: Also, in reference to the question of the durability of a book collection, a digital book can be secured after purchase by stripping the DRM and saving as a text file, formatting it, printing it, and having a craftsman or artist bind it for you in a nice, customized style. :D I would always prefer to be able to do that legally -- well, actually not to have to do it at all, but in the event I must -- and so I am very cautious about the status of digital publishing and DRM controls and where those may be heading. I would even be willing to pay extra for the license to do that if I had to, just so long as I could do it reliably and without headaches. I admit that, being too poor for an e-reader and not yet ready to publish in any format, I'm not 100% up to date on current DRM situations, but I keep it on my horizon.

Bloo
11-18-2012, 10:10 PM
I embraced the ebook/ereader with gusto, buying a Kindle and downloading several books and more all the time. And within seconds I was able to buy a collection of books that I had spent years looking for, Gregory MacDonald's Fletch books. I hit garage sales, used bookstores, libraries, etc all looking for these 12 books, and like I said, I ended up getting them all within seconds. Does that stop me from buying physical books. Yes and no. I'm much more picky about WHAT physical books I buy, but when I find a treasure, it warms my heart. Yesterday I was scouring a goodwill store and came across a 1979 copy of The Complete Plays of Neil Simon Vol 2. This put me on an Amazon and ebay quest to find volumes 1, 3, 4. But it also inspired me to go online and download on my kindle, the works of O'Neill, Shaw, Aristophines, Gilbert and Sullivan, Ibsen, and Wilde.

As a student, I love my Kindle. If I can have my text books on one device, I can tote it around campus a lot easier and with less stress on my back (non traditional student with aging shoulders and knees ;) )

I'm also the kind of reader that is reading several things at once, so the ability to read a few chapters of a friends WIP and then flip over to Elmore Leonard, then to Ken Follett is just easier on the Kindle.

But I remember having this same discussion with a friend, who was offering the same arguments as davidh219 until he bought his own tablet and started utilizing the Kindle app. He saw the light ;) I had similar discussions with people when I was studying radio communications about "digital music" and the use of computers in broadcasting. There were 18-25 year old kids arguing that records were the supieror format, and how they would never convert to or use a computer in radio. Less then 20 years later, those that are still in radio, are all using computers, hardly a one uses a CD anymore and rave about how much easier it is. We loved the rush of trying to time up music to meet the top of the hour, but now, the computer does it for us and it's easier for them to focus on the content of the show.

If, at all possible (I understand that some books as mentioned above are designed for a Pbook, like art books), we can focus on the writing and not on the delivery system, we'll find our work so much easier.

willietheshakes
11-18-2012, 11:06 PM
Ron Charles of the Washington Post has an interesting piece up about reviewing on a Kindle (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/post/reviewing-books-on-a-kindle/2012/11/12/5cfd5046-2c18-11e2-89d4-040c9330702a_blog.html) -- it rings true for me, in that we both use books in the same way.


Usually, I flip through the galley and my endnotes, looking for major points to emphasize and striking quotations to include. A simple but crude system of CAPS, arrows and underlining draws my eye to themes I thought were important. And, what’s more, I have a spatial sense of the book’s architecture in my mind.

Not here.

On the Kindle, each screen shot floats in space, isolated from the previous or subsequent ones, an effect that left my memory of the book weirdly nebulous.

Toothpaste
11-18-2012, 11:09 PM
Bloo - I just gotta say though, I don't like this "see the light" kind of argument. It suggests that ebooks ARE superior and the only people saying that they prefer physical books are the people who have never given ebooks a chance. That simply isn't true.

When I first got my Kobo I thought it was awesome, I took it everywhere with me, read several of the books that had come with it. But as time passed I realised I didn't enjoy the act of reading on the Kobo. I stopped taking it with me places. I stopped reading entirely, thinking (as the reluctant reader I am) I was going through a "Meh, don't like books right now" phase. But then I picked up a physical book and started reading it and was reminded of why I liked reading physical books so much. You see I liked that I could have books at my fingertips with my ereader, I liked the technology and playing with the reader itself. But when it came to reading I didn't like how slowly it turned the pages nor how few words I got on a page. I read really fast and it wouldn't keep up with me, and I didn't like that. I also didn't like that I couldn't physically sense where I was in a book (despite the percentage thingy) nor that I couldn't flip back easily to some earlier spot to double check things.

Now this doesn't mean that others don't mind what I took issue with. In fact my father LOVES the slower pace of the flipping of the pages precisely because he reads slowly and it suits his reading style. But come on, do we really need to go around sighing with superiority at those poor fools stuck in the dark ages who will finally see the light when they actually give new technology a chance? I think I'm pretty darn tech savvy actually.

Like I said before, you might not share the opinions of others who don't read how you do, but it doesn't make your way better, nor does it mean that those who don't share your opinions are luddites and stubborn.

Medievalist
11-18-2012, 11:36 PM
From this may I take it you disagree with the points about books as objects and about artists/authors exploiting a medium's capabilities for message delivery which were made by me and Filigree?

Also that you disagree with Marshall McLuhan's ideas on media and communications (not hard to do, since his ideas are nearly unintelligible anyway, I guess)?

To some extent, yes. But in some ways, no. I am not a McLuhan fan, at all. I never have been. I'll take Kenneth Burke over McLuhan any day. And Richard Lanham over either.

I'm a medievalist, with extensive background in paleography, codicology and archival best practices for digital and non-digital books and ephemera. I can read cunieform. I've held hundreds of tablets, and preserved them for posterity and for those who can't hold them.

I've also handled, photographed and scanned a number of one of a kind manuscripts, and limited incunabula.

These experiences have changed me.

We scan these artifacts in order to preserve them, to protect them from over handling, and to reveal data that isn't readily apparent to the naked eye. Wide distribution of these digital files means many people have access to important works.

Is it the same experience to view the digital facsimile of codex sinaiticus as it is to hold a section in your hands? No. It's not. But neither is it the same experience to read a first edition printed book with holograph annotations from the author as it is to read a Penguin paperback. Nor is Jane's experience reading the same book that I read, even if she reads the same copy, going to be the same experience as I have.

I love them all, all the kinds of books.

The codex book is a fully debugged high-end technology with a great UI. The torah that was meticulously copied and triple checked against the master, that is then carried with love and respect to the front of the temple to be carefully opened and read, is also a carefully created UI. But it's a UI for a different purpose and user. It's not better, it's different.

I think that rather than the medium is the message, I'm more interested in the UI, the purpose, and the reader. For me, there's a strong connection between the five parts of rhetoric and UI design, use and function.

Yesterday I purchased the digital facsimile of the Book of Kells for my retina iPad. I've previously purchased the digital facsimile for CD-ROM and DVD.

I have the "low end" print facsimile that was 800.00 when it was released in a limited edition, and the consumer coffee table book from Françoise Henry that, while attractive and useful, is not a facsimile.

The iPad facsimile replaces, quite literally the other digital facsimiles for ease of use and quality of image.

None of them are identical in use or experience to the three volumes of vellum. But their existence serves to help preserve the artifact. For me, it is less about the book as talisman than it is about the preservation of a unique and human-created artifact.

That said, we don't have the complete Book of Kells. It's missing several pages, it doesn't appear to have been finished, the pages have been trimmed, the binding and original cover are long gone, and as a text of the NT it's wretched, riddled with errors, some quite egregious (including a page copied twice, with errors introduced in both versions). It is a book valued more for the ornamentation and art with which the text is presented, than the text itself. That is, the art that might be considered secondary, is for this book, primary.

But I don't know that the medium (digital) is the message at all. The facsimile has pages, you can page through the facsimile, you can see verso and recto.

I don't really see much difference between a mass market paperback of a novel and a well-made ebook. The container differs, not the book.

I do see a difference between Richardson's own printed copy of Clarissa, which he printed and then annotated himself, and the Penguin paperback edition. But that's because Richard's annotations change the book, the contents. I don't go into squee mode because Richardson used and created the book as artifact, it's the changes, the added data, that make it interesting to me.

I don't care for the smell of the book, whether it's musty or the odor of formaldehyde used in the glue and sometimes, the ink. The average consumer hardcover purchased today, quite frankly, doesn't really qualify as an art object to me. I know it does to some, and I can understand it.

But I also know that King's 1962 hardcover isn't going to hold up even sitting on a shelf, unread. It won't last 30 years without the binding glue drying and shrinking, and gatherings loosening and possibly falling out, and the ink will start to eat through the yellowing pages at about the twenty year mark, if it isn't stored in archival conditions.

willietheshakes
11-18-2012, 11:44 PM
Yesterday I purchased the digital facsimile of the Book of Kells for my retina iPad.

So did I, dammit!

(And thank you for the head's up)

Bloo
11-18-2012, 11:47 PM
Bloo - I just gotta say though, I don't like this "see the light" kind of argument. It suggests that ebooks ARE superior and the only people saying that they prefer physical books are the people who have never given ebooks a chance. That simply isn't true.


Mam I knew that was going to come back and bite me in the ass. I put a winky ( ;) ) there hopefully to indicate that I was being facetious. To me, the most important thing, is the CONTENT of the book not the delivery method.

Toothpaste
11-18-2012, 11:54 PM
Bloo- I saw the winky, and would have respected the winky, had it not been for the long paragraph following it about how everyone you've known who took issue with new technology once upon a time now loves it. It certainly implied that eventually with enough time everyone would ultimately see ebooks as superior. That it wasn't a to each his own, but a in time even the ones unwilling to embrace superior technology come around.

neilfriske
11-18-2012, 11:56 PM
My grandfather made the same argument when my kindle arrived. And the old man is senile.

LET'S GET HIM!

CrastersBabies
11-19-2012, 12:13 AM
Yeah, I see some people getting a little defensive about comments (made in jest). Not getting that. To me, it's about a reader's preference. You don't want to read an ebook, then by all means, don't. Nobody's going to call the police here.

Same with folks who love their digital books.

Isn't this kind of like telling someone how they should eat their toast? Butter or not. Jelly? Plain? Why would anyone get upset over that? And why would some web-article writer with a bloated sense of self-importance go so far as to call ebook reading "not legit?" I guess that's why I answered with an "eyeroll" and a comment about not having the time to care.

This isn't middle school for the love of all.

I read in my own time, in private, me and the book. Someone stepping in and trying to correct me when I'm enjoying myself, lost in a tale, can politely go find something sharp and stick in their eye. Repeatedly.

The same people who think they're "better" or "more sophisticated" because of this choice. Yeaaaah. Neat.

It's silly.

muravyets
11-19-2012, 12:32 AM
Let's throw more kindle into the fire. What about audio books?
Those are performance art. ;)



Ron Charles of the Washington Post has an interesting piece up about reviewing on a Kindle (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/arts-post/post/reviewing-books-on-a-kindle/2012/11/12/5cfd5046-2c18-11e2-89d4-040c9330702a_blog.html) -- it rings true for me, in that we both use books in the same way.


...

When I first got my Kobo I thought it was awesome, I took it everywhere with me, read several of the books that had come with it. But as time passed I realised I didn't enjoy the act of reading on the Kobo. I stopped taking it with me places. I stopped reading entirely, thinking (as the reluctant reader I am) I was going through a "Meh, don't like books right now" phase. But then I picked up a physical book and started reading it and was reminded of why I liked reading physical books so much. You see I liked that I could have books at my fingertips with my ereader, I liked the technology and playing with the reader itself. But when it came to reading I didn't like how slowly it turned the pages nor how few words I got on a page. I read really fast and it wouldn't keep up with me, and I didn't like that. I also didn't like that I couldn't physically sense where I was in a book (despite the percentage thingy) nor that I couldn't flip back easily to some earlier spot to double check things.

Now this doesn't mean that others don't mind what I took issue with. ...(excerpted but taken in its entirety by reference)

I just want to +1 with both of these. I also find it more comfortable and pleasant to have that physical spatial relationship to the text I'm reading. Others don't need that. Some of us do.


To some extent, yes. But in some ways, no. I am not a McLuhan fan, at all. I never have been. I'll take Kenneth Burke over McLuhan any day. And Richard Lanham over either.

...(I'm also including the entirety of this post by reference, and responding to it in its entirety.)

I see the sense of your argument, although it does not change my stance. I still think that, as an artist/author, the medium does affect the delivery of my message, and as a reader, the medium affects my reception of the message.

However, I'm having a hard time reconciling a couple of points within your argument:

You seem to be saying that physical books do have a functional and aesthetic presence that adds to the experience of reading them, as well as to the meta-context of the history of which they are artifacts. That is why we preserve originals and don't just make copies, and why we make new physical books with artistry and craft.

However, at the same time, you seem to be saying that the form and/or medium do not matter, that only the content matters, that no physical form is immutable and therefore it's not necessary to be wedded to one form over another, and that mass production of cheap books renders the question essentially moot anyway, since cheap books are as ephemeral, at least, as e-books.

Those ideas seem to contradict each other to the extent one says form matters and the other says form doesn't matter.

ETA: PS: I do not disagree that cheap mass production makes books that are not more worthy than e-books. In fact, a good argument could be made that mass production of print books is worse for the environment than e-books. That is why my ideal would be e-books with an option to purchase PoD physical copies, preferably with a price range of styles, from cheap perfect-bound paperbacks to highly crafted cloth- or leather-bound hardbacks.

Medievalist
11-19-2012, 12:54 AM
However, at the same time, you seem to be saying that the form and/or medium do not matter, that only the content matters.

Those ideas seem to contradict each other to the extent one says form matters and the other says form doesn't matter.

I am saying that the real book is the data, the text, but in some cases, other kinds of information are also in the container. It may be a book that is primarily or exclusively images.

I'm saying that we may prefer one container over another. And that one person may prefer one container for one purpose over another container.

The book is Austen's Emma. It may be Austen's text in an 18 century octavio with buckram binding, a 21st century limited edition archive quality hard cover, or an inexpensive paperback, a book club edition, or an ebook in any one of several file formats.

To me, the text is more important than the container.

I am even more interested in the provenance of the text than I am the container. A poorly produced ebook or cheap paperback that uses Austen's text is more valued by me than a beautifully bound hardcover that's an abridged version of Austen's text.

I'll take the Riverside Shakespeare with dog-eared pages, or the Arden digital Shakespeare's Works over The Globe Illustrated Shakespeaer which is a piece of poorly made crap as a book, and as an edition of Shakespeare, doesn't have much to do with what Shakespeare wrote. But if you read reviews, you'll see people talk about what a handsome book The Illustrated Globe Shakespeare is, and how pretty the "leatherette" binding is and how nice it looks on their coffee table.

But you'll have to look a bit to find readers noting that The Globe Illustrated Shakespeare was edited by poltroons, that Cordelia lives at the end of King Lear, or that the text is barely readable because it's set so poorly.

I love books as containers, but the text (or sometimes the image) is more important to me than the container, almost all the time. The public domain Emily Dickinson is Emily Dickinson edited, not the poems as Emily wrote them. Punctuation, meter, and even lines were changed by her editor at will.

Coleridge's edition of Shakespeare is not what Shakespeare wrote, and what Coleridge did to Donne is a shanda.

Melanie Dawn
11-19-2012, 12:58 AM
This is the same argument going on in the comic book industry right now. There's a LOT of companies doing at least some of their line in digital. Many of us prefer the feel of a comic book in our hands, but for books? I wish i owned an ereader, i would certainly read a lot more.

Medievalist
11-19-2012, 01:01 AM
ETA: PS: I do not disagree that cheap mass production makes books that are not more worthy than e-books. In fact, a good argument could be made that mass production of print books is worse for the environment than e-books. That is why my ideal would be e-books with an option to purchase PoD physical copies, preferably with a price range of styles, from cheap perfect-bound paperbacks to highly crafted cloth- or leather-bound hardbacks.

I think that we may well see this happen in our lifetime, at least with works in the canon, or OP mass market fiction.

It used to be that you'd buy the pages from the printer, then take them to your favorite binder, or have the printer act as a go-between, and have the binding that suited your personal taste and budget.

I think that may very well become a service offered by bookstores, on or offline.

Adelaide
11-19-2012, 03:32 AM
I wonder how many digital copies he's sold of the book this piece is excerpted from. The book is available on Kindle.

willietheshakes
11-19-2012, 03:51 AM
I wonder how many digital copies he's sold of the book this piece is excerpted from. The book is available on Kindle.

So. What?

Did you read the excerpt? Where did it say ANYTHING AT ALL about never reading things on a Kindle?

(Also, your implied point and the supposed irony it carries is about two days and a hundred posts late. Did you read the thread?)

Ergodic Mage
11-19-2012, 06:43 AM
But with my Kindle I can read 50 Shades of Gray without embarrassing myself in public. Wait this is my wife's Kindle!

Bloo
11-19-2012, 10:40 AM
Bloo- I saw the winky, and would have respected the winky, had it not been for the long paragraph following it about how everyone you've known who took issue with new technology once upon a time now loves it. It certainly implied that eventually with enough time everyone would ultimately see ebooks as superior. That it wasn't a to each his own, but a in time even the ones unwilling to embrace superior technology come around.

Maybe I'm taking this personally and I shouldn't but THAT'S what you should have addressed and not my "see the light" comment, which was clearly meant in jest. And I can only speak from experience. And my experience has been, resistance to new tech first followed by an acceptance. I'm not saying that books are going away or that they will die. And I certainly didn't mean to indicate that ereading was superior. What I was trying to point out was just what I have experienced.

And did you see the part where I said I still buy books, I just bought a book a real honest to god book, this weekend? One is not superior to the other, but it's all about the content inside. Are The Beatles a better band on vinyl then on mp3? Mozart? Beethoven? Is the music somehow more "pure" or "honest"?

To me writing is about THE MESSAGE within NOT how we read. After having literally thousands of books sitting in a garage because I don't have room for them or the ability to move them right now, the Kindle is a better choice FOR ME, it also satiates my need for immediacy. If there is a book I want to read, I don't have to drive 2 hours to my storage unit, or wait 2 days (or more) for Amazon to deliver it, or god forbid my bookstore doesn't carry what I'm looking for. I can have it in literally seconds. That's a plus FOR ME and I think it is for a lot of people too.

I do think more and more people will switch over to ereaders of some kind. We, as an American society, like our gadgets too much, but I don't think this is the death knell for traditionally published books. But I see books becoming more valued objects then they are currently. But again, for me it's all about the message contained in the books and encouraging people to read them, anyway they can, weather it be through ereader, ipad, iphone, computer screen (BTW I hate using my PC Kindle app and use it only for text books, app on one side, Word doc on the other), or a regularly published book.

Old Hack
11-19-2012, 01:20 PM
I embraced the ebook/ereader with gusto, buying a Kindle and downloading several books and more all the time. And within seconds I was able to buy a collection of books that I had spent years looking for, Gregory MacDonald's Fletch books. I hit garage sales, used bookstores, libraries, etc all looking for these 12 books, and like I said, I ended up getting them all within seconds.

Apologies for the derail, but you might have tried AbeBooks. I searched there for the author's name and the keyword "Fletch" and it found me 45 different books (http://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/SearchResults?an=Gregory+MacDonald&bt.x=84&bt.y=14&kn=fletch&sts=t). If I'd used specific titles I bet it would have found more.

Derail over. As you were.

Torgo
11-19-2012, 02:53 PM
Can't be bothered to read the whole thread. Has anyone done the jokey 'e-writing isn't writing' reversal, and wondered whether this dude handed his article in on vellum, in longhand etc? If not, please imagine I had done that post and it was really funny.

Toothpaste
11-19-2012, 08:56 PM
Maybe I'm taking this personally and I shouldn't but THAT'S what you should have addressed and not my "see the light" comment, which was clearly meant in jest. And I can only speak from experience. And my experience has been, resistance to new tech first followed by an acceptance. I'm not saying that books are going away or that they will die. And I certainly didn't mean to indicate that ereading was superior. What I was trying to point out was just what I have experienced.


But . . . but . . . your joke basically said the same thing as your paragraph, even if you meant your actual meaning to be more nuanced as you discuss above. I'm sorry I took your words to heart, as both joke and paragraph seemed to support each other. And I am happy to see that I was wrong in my interpretation.

kuwisdelu
11-19-2012, 09:02 PM
Are The Beatles a better band on vinyl then on mp3? Mozart? Beethoven? Is the music somehow more "pure" or "honest"?

Depends on the bitrate.

And no one serious rips to mp3 anymore.

Shadow_Ferret
11-19-2012, 09:56 PM
People always seem to be against technology. There was this stink that it isn't music when it's on an MP3 in my neck of the woods. Then people started claiming it wasn't dancing on things like Wii and Kinect.

Just ignore the ignorance.
Disliking MP3s isn't being against technology. It's being against highly compressed files. If you are an audiophile with state-of-the-art amplifiers and speakers, you would want your music in a high quality, full-range format.

Comparing someone who is against standard MP3s with someone who just dislikes anything new is apples to oranges.


I love new technology. I just prefer paper books and vinyl records

Shadow_Ferret
11-19-2012, 10:23 PM
This is the same argument going on in the comic book industry right now. There's a LOT of companies doing at least some of their line in digital. Many of us prefer the feel of a comic book in our hands, but for books? I wish i owned an ereader, i would certainly read a lot more.
As a comic book collector, I loath the idea of comics going digital. Except... I collect Silver Age comics. So that won't change. I guess as a reader, digital comics would be cool because they are so much more detailed on a computer screen or iPad and you can zoom in to really see the finer details of the art.

kuwisdelu
11-19-2012, 10:29 PM
Disliking MP3s isn't being against technology. It's being against highly compressed files. If you are an audiophile with state-of-the-art amplifiers and speakers, you would want your music in a high quality, full-range format.

Comparing someone who is against standard MP3s with someone who just dislikes anything new is apples to oranges.

Yup. That's what lossless is for.

Personally, I'm okay with reasonably high bitrate AAC.

The 128 kbps mp3's I ripped in the late 90's are sounding pretty shitty.

Torgo
11-19-2012, 10:41 PM
As a comic book collector, I loath the idea of comics going digital. Except... I collect Silver Age comics. So that won't change. I guess as a reader, digital comics would be cool because they are so much more detailed on a computer screen or iPad and you can zoom in to really see the finer details of the art.

For me, comics on an iPad are - apart from the fact that you can't really see whole spreads at a time - superior to comics in print in every way I can think of.

kuwisdelu
11-19-2012, 10:47 PM
For me, comics on an iPad are - apart from the fact that you can't really see whole spreads at a time - superior to comics in print in every way I can think of.

The fact that it's easy to wipe the screen clean is a definite plus when you're reading hentai.

On a related note, I hear erotica sells well as ebooks.

Shadow_Ferret
11-19-2012, 10:55 PM
For me, comics on an iPad are - apart from the fact that you can't really see whole spreads at a time - superior to comics in print in every way I can think of.
In EVERY way? because you'd have to convince how they are superior in collecting.

kuwisdelu
11-19-2012, 10:58 PM
In EVERY way? because you'd have to convince how they are superior in collecting.

More easily searchable, for one.

Shadow_Ferret
11-19-2012, 11:03 PM
More easily searchable, for one.
And they don't degrade over time. Nor do you have to keep them in poly sleeves.

But, I guess being an old fart, I still consider collecting a physical activity. Having a bunch of electrons stores on my computer isn't collecting in my mind. And part of collecting is finding that rare comic. The search is part of the fun so that when you finally hold it in your hands, there's a feeling if accomplishment.

kuwisdelu
11-19-2012, 11:14 PM
And part of collecting is finding that rare comic. The search is part of the fun so that when you finally hold it in your hands, there's a feeling if accomplishment.

I actually meant easier to search your own collection.

Depending what you collect, finding a good digital copy can still be difficult...

Torgo
11-19-2012, 11:25 PM
In EVERY way? because you'd have to convince how they are superior in collecting.

Hmm, define collecting? For me, not so important I think.

Shadow_Ferret
11-20-2012, 12:00 AM
I actually meant easier to search your own collection.

Depending what you collect, finding a good digital copy can still be difficult...
I wonder. I know nothing of the digital format, but it seems to me it would be easier to find a digital copy of something then it would be to find a pristine copy of Action Comics #1. There were only so many of those printed and even less that have survived the years.

With a digital copy can't you just copy it endlessly?

kuwisdelu
11-20-2012, 12:15 AM
I wonder. I know nothing of the digital format, but it seems to me it would be easier to find a digital copy of something then it would be to find a pristine copy of Action Comics #1. There were only so many of those printed and even less that have survived the years.

With a digital copy can't you just copy it endlessly?

Well, the medium with which I have experience is anime.

Sometimes you have to follow lots of dead links and try lots of torrents with no seeders before you find one that works. Sometimes, you'll have old, forgotten torrents that, frustratingly, have enough leechers that something like 99% of the file exists, but that last 1% is missing, so you're screwed. And even if you locate a copy, if the anime is old (> 7 years ago or so), the resolution might be crap. It might be a shitty 240p DivX encoded .avi with burnt-in subtitles and lots of translation errors.

For example, my favorite series Neon Genesis Evangelion doesn't really exist in a good digital form. There are some older rips, but they're mostly shitty quality encoding from poor source. The latest Platinum Collection release I have on DVD is pretty nice, and has the director's cut of the later episodes, which lots of the digital batches don't have. It's just no one's bothered to rip and encode the newer versions and re-time the subtitles.

Of course, this is relying on fansub groups to unofficially do this stuff, since there's no real official source for good digital copies (the ones that exist often do things like leave out the original audio and the subtitles for them), and pirates don't have time to sub 24/7 when they're in med school.

But then, there's also stuff like Macross Frontier which we can only get in digital form unless you want to spend the pretty penny to import it from Japan yourself, because it'll never get licensed.

Shadow_Ferret
11-20-2012, 12:41 AM
I had to google "torrents" and now my head hurts.

I just assumed you'd look on ebay.

kuwisdelu
11-20-2012, 12:48 AM
I had to google "torrents" and now my head hurts.

The line "shitty 240p DivX encoded .avi with burnt-in subtitles" didn't hurt your head enough?

...becoming anime fan is how I learned more about video codecs than I ever wanted to know.


I just assumed you'd look on ebay.

I didn't know ebay was in the digital content business.

bearilou
11-20-2012, 12:49 AM
But then, there's also stuff like Macross Frontier which we can only get in digital form unless you want to spend the pretty penny to import it from Japan yourself, because it'll never get licensed.

I feel you, kuwi. For the longest time, I mourned that I couldn't get my hands on a complete set of episodes of Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It was piecemeal to get the episodes I had until someone finally put the full out on bittorrent. Even then, it took forever to download.

/anime derail

Shadow_Ferret
11-20-2012, 01:04 AM
I didn't know ebay was in the digital content business.
That's where I used to find a lot of my old time radio shows. MP3 format is digital content, isn't it?

kuwisdelu
11-20-2012, 01:07 AM
That's where I used to find a lot of my old time radio shows. MP3 format is digital content, isn't it?

Ah, didn't know that. Interesting.

Probably not reliable for my purposes.

Medievalist
11-20-2012, 01:08 AM
In EVERY way? because you'd have to convince how they are superior in collecting.

I don't think I'd use superior, but comics are true ephemera; they're self-consuming artifacts, and require delicate handling, like sheet music, for instance, or broadside ballads.

I'm glad people collect them, but I'm also glad that some archives are carefully digitizing comics (and broadsheet ballads and sheet music) so people can still enjoy them without damaging them.

This is part of the reason scholars favor digital facsimiles. No, the digital Luttrell Psalter (or Book of Kells) isn't "the same" at all as the actual manuscripts.

But they do serve well for most scholars, and they help preserve the original.

Rhoda Nightingale
11-20-2012, 01:19 AM
^Ah-ah--I'm still thinking 'graphic novels' over here. Single issue comics do require delicate handling.

For my two cents though, I could never read comics on a digital screen. Manga? Okay, I can see that. Kinda. But nah, I still prefer the physical format. I agree with kuwi on the "more easily searchable" thing, but most e-reader platforms are just too damn small. And if you make them bigger, they get bulky and cumbersome. So yeah--all print, all the time for comics.

Book-books, I still prefer print, but I don't mind reading them in the digital format.

/two cents

RedWombat
11-21-2012, 03:04 AM
Honestly, if I were starting my webcomic over again today (and my boyfriend has strict orders to bury me in the backyard if I start thinking that's a good idea) I'd format it for e-reader.

But if I had started it five years ago, I'd have formatted it for horizontal monitor displays.

muravyets
11-21-2012, 08:36 AM
I am saying that the real book is the data, the text, but in some cases, other kinds of information are also in the container. It may be a book that is primarily or exclusively images.

I'm saying that we may prefer one container over another. And that one person may prefer one container for one purpose over another container.

The book is Austen's Emma. It may be Austen's text in an 18 century octavio with buckram binding, a 21st century limited edition archive quality hard cover, or an inexpensive paperback, a book club edition, or an ebook in any one of several file formats.

To me, the text is more important than the container.

I am even more interested in the provenance of the text than I am the container. A poorly produced ebook or cheap paperback that uses Austen's text is more valued by me than a beautifully bound hardcover that's an abridged version of Austen's text.

I'll take the Riverside Shakespeare with dog-eared pages, or the Arden digital Shakespeare's Works over The Globe Illustrated Shakespeaer which is a piece of poorly made crap as a book, and as an edition of Shakespeare, doesn't have much to do with what Shakespeare wrote. But if you read reviews, you'll see people talk about what a handsome book The Illustrated Globe Shakespeare is, and how pretty the "leatherette" binding is and how nice it looks on their coffee table.

But you'll have to look a bit to find readers noting that The Globe Illustrated Shakespeare was edited by poltroons, that Cordelia lives at the end of King Lear, or that the text is barely readable because it's set so poorly.

I love books as containers, but the text (or sometimes the image) is more important to me than the container, almost all the time. The public domain Emily Dickinson is Emily Dickinson edited, not the poems as Emily wrote them. Punctuation, meter, and even lines were changed by her editor at will.

Coleridge's edition of Shakespeare is not what Shakespeare wrote, and what Coleridge did to Donne is a shanda.
Okay, yeah, I see what you are saying. I disagree for the reasons stated earlier in the thread.

muravyets
11-21-2012, 08:37 AM
I think that we may well see this happen in our lifetime, at least with works in the canon, or OP mass market fiction.

It used to be that you'd buy the pages from the printer, then take them to your favorite binder, or have the printer act as a go-between, and have the binding that suited your personal taste and budget.

I think that may very well become a service offered by bookstores, on or offline.
Yes, exactly my thought. Everything old is new again, eh? For me personally, and the way I use books and the way I relate to digital media, it would be the ideal outcome.

muravyets
11-21-2012, 08:43 AM
For me, comics on an iPad are - apart from the fact that you can't really see whole spreads at a time - superior to comics in print in every way I can think of.
Well, clearly you can think of one way in which they are not superior. To me, that one way -- not being able to see whole spreads at a time -- would be a deal-breaker.

Medievalist
11-21-2012, 10:30 AM
Yes, exactly my thought. Everything old is new again, eh? For me personally, and the way I use books and the way I relate to digital media, it would be the ideal outcome.

The other thing that I'm really hoping we'll see (and I should confess I've been hoping for this since c. 1992-ish) is that the kinds of books that are by nature not permanent—not so much fiction, but things like academic monographs that have limited print runs and cost too damn much—will be digital first/primarily (you can buy print if you want but it maybe costs more).

Things like dissertations, for instance. Before I stopped it, my dissertation was for sale for a print version that consisted of 8.5 x 11 paper in a shrink-wrapped stack for $80.00.

Mostly, it's grad students who buy dissertations. They likely will end up having to buy 2 or three in order to write their own, because you do have to see what other recent scholars have done, and make sure you're not duplicating their research.

But $80.00 is way too much.

Ebook monographs and dissertations (especially for free, like mine) are perfect for this kind of non-permanent book.

The other thing I hope for is that books that are both art and data (container and text) will be better made, true examples of book arts.

I have the Psalms volume of the printed facsimile of the St. John's Bible (http://www.saintjohnsbible.org/). I'd love to see more publishers creating books of this quality.

I'd love to see more well-done printed books, not just art books, but things like long lasting durable editions with case sewn bindings, archival glues and papers, and fine typesetting.

Torgo
11-22-2012, 12:42 AM
Well, clearly you can think of one way in which they are not superior. To me, that one way -- not being able to see whole spreads at a time -- would be a deal-breaker.

Well, that's why I qualified it that way. It hasn't bothered me unduly, and if I feel I'm missing something I can switch to double-page mode and just peer or zoom.

RobertEvert
11-22-2012, 02:11 AM
The best books make you forget where you are. They make you hear, taste and smell the story, not whatever might be going on in the world in which you sit. When I first starting using my e-reader, I would catch myself trying to turn the page rather than push the button.

A great story is a great story. How it's delivered to you becomes irrelevant.

And pretentious excerpt is very pretentious indeed.

Brilliantly said, CaroGirl.:hooray: