View Full Version : I don't care how books smell either


Croptop
04-01-2010, 08:15 AM
Linda Holmes over on the NPR blogs has posted a well written missive about why reading is reading and how something smells isn't what defines an experience:


Physical ownership of smelly old books is not important to me, and based on my experience, it's not important to a lot of people who read a lot. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be important to anyone, but it does mean there are no points to be scored for seriousness of purpose as a reader by demonstrating the intensity of the passion with which you rub your cheek against the ancient binding and sense yourself growing wiser.


Full article can be read at NPR Blogs (http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2010/03/in_which_emphatically_and_fore.html?ft=1&f=93568166)

Javed
04-01-2010, 08:35 AM
I enjoyed reading the full article and found it interesting, thanks Croptop.

omk3
04-01-2010, 09:58 AM
On the other hand, I have a cold right now. Maybe if I smell them next week.
:rofl:

I enjoyed reading the article, some good points on this tired "smell" subject. Thanks.

Pity I couldn't smell the article though :D

TGS
04-01-2010, 10:08 AM
I always thought I was the sort of person who "loves books". I could spend hours in second-hand bookshops, was always was thrilled when I got book tokens as gifts because I could indulge in buying a stack of books that I couldn't justify splurging cash on and just liked to have books around. A couple of months ago I got my first ebook reader and, whilst I still like second-hand bookshops I reckon there is as much pleasure to be gained from a well-formatted ebook as there is from most pbooks.

It makes me wonder how many book aficionados would really enjoy the transition to ebooks if they just tried it.

LDBoblo
04-01-2010, 11:15 AM
I always thought I was the sort of person who "loves books". I could spend hours in second-hand bookshops, was always was thrilled when I got book tokens as gifts because I could indulge in buying a stack of books that I couldn't justify splurging cash on and just liked to have books around. A couple of months ago I got my first ebook reader and, whilst I still like second-hand bookshops I reckon there is as much pleasure to be gained from a well-formatted ebook as there is from most pbooks.

It makes me wonder how many book aficionados would really enjoy the transition to ebooks if they just tried it.
What do you mean well-formatted? The only well-crafted ebooks I've seen have been PDFs, and most of the retailers I've seen on the net don't offer an appropriately-sized PDF version for ebook reading devices.

Ea
04-01-2010, 11:47 AM
That was funny! Thanks, Croptop :)

I've never been much of a book buyer myself, partly because they're so expensive here - I always bought books on sale or used - so I've always used the library heavily. I'm actually spending a great deal more money on books now than I used to.

On the other hand, I've recently also bought a few hard-back books of titles I really like, because there's enough of a collector in me to feel it's nice to own the physical books too. But I'd still read them as e-books if I can - I hate cracked spines :p

GraceKrispy
04-02-2010, 03:58 PM
I always thought I was the sort of person who "loves books". I could spend hours in second-hand bookshops, was always was thrilled when I got book tokens as gifts because I could indulge in buying a stack of books that I couldn't justify splurging cash on and just liked to have books around. A couple of months ago I got my first ebook reader and, whilst I still like second-hand bookshops I reckon there is as much pleasure to be gained from a well-formatted ebook as there is from most pbooks.

It makes me wonder how many book aficionados would really enjoy the transition to ebooks if they just tried it.

Whenever I talk to friends who have never tried ebooks/ereaders, I get that same answer "I just love books, paper books" the smell, the feel, the whatever. I try to tell them that I always felt that way too, until my husband bought me an ereader. And itʻs amazing how quickly the ereader becomes the favorite little pet. The smell of the cover, the feel of the metal, the ease of reading.... books are books. Some books smell really bad anyway (mildew, anyone?). So there. :D

Elfwreck
04-02-2010, 06:31 PM
What do you mean well-formatted? The only well-crafted ebooks I've seen have been PDFs, and most of the retailers I've seen on the net don't offer an appropriately-sized PDF version for ebook reading devices.

Have you seen the ePub Zen Garden (http://epubzengarden.com/#/static/middlemarch/OEBPS/chapter1.html)? (Although I suspect that a number of the styles wouldn't work on some portable devices; they may not support all the coding options.)

Setting aside *good* formatting--for a lot of people, basic text is sufficient, and "well-formatted" means
The line breaks are in the right places,
Extra line between paragraphs *or* indented paragraphs,
Lines don't wrap between double hyphens,
No long gaps between words,
Punctuation is accurate enough that it's not consciously noticed,
New chapters start on a new page.

I read ebooks for two years on a Sony Clie 320x320 pixel screen, and would've been happy to continue; I had screen problems & battery problems.

Desertway
04-02-2010, 07:34 PM
Setting aside *good* formatting--for a lot of people, basic text is sufficient, and "well-formatted" means
The line breaks are in the right places,
Extra line between paragraphs *or* indented paragraphs,
Lines don't wrap between double hyphens,
No long gaps between words,
Punctuation is accurate enough that it's not consciously noticed,
New chapters start on a new page.

I read ebooks for two years on a Sony Clie 320x320 pixel screen, and would've been happy to continue; I had screen problems & battery problems.

Yeah, that. I just don't want to notice the formatting because it is interrupting the flow of my reading. That's all. For years I read eReader books on my ancient Palm (IIIX, Handera 330). I was perfectly happy with it until I got old and my eyes couldn't deal with the size anymore. All those eReader books now reside on my new cheapo 5" Libre, and I'm thrilled.

SensualPoet
04-02-2010, 09:33 PM
There are certain aspects of books I "love" and, I suppose, smell might be one of them. Good typography is near the top of the list. Still, with rare exceptions, it's the content, not the physical book, that matters. Some books are works of art in themselves; some books are signed by the author; some books have personal attachments like the copy of The Wasteland I carried to Moscow and back.

But most books are words -- and on an e-ink screen or on paper, they ring as true and as powerful. Nothing is lost in e-ink sans dead tree: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...".

It's not unlike the relationship to music to LPs. Some album covers are works of art in their own right; some specific LPs hold a special place in one's heart; yet most LPs are carriers of sound, like paper is for words, and the MP3 version is as good (or better) than the traditional delivery.

Bring on the e-books!

TGS
04-03-2010, 06:53 AM
What do you mean well-formatted?

I guess I don't mean anything more than when the formatting doesn't get in the way of the reading.

LDBoblo
04-03-2010, 10:30 PM
Have you seen the ePub Zen Garden (http://epubzengarden.com/#/static/middlemarch/OEBPS/chapter1.html)? (Although I suspect that a number of the styles wouldn't work on some portable devices; they may not support all the coding options.)

Setting aside *good* formatting--for a lot of people, basic text is sufficient, and "well-formatted" means
The line breaks are in the right places,
Extra line between paragraphs *or* indented paragraphs,
Lines don't wrap between double hyphens,
No long gaps between words,
Punctuation is accurate enough that it's not consciously noticed,
New chapters start on a new page.

I read ebooks for two years on a Sony Clie 320x320 pixel screen, and would've been happy to continue; I had screen problems & battery problems.
I've seen ePub Zen Garden, and yes it shows that decent markup is possible. I think when I made my post, I was reading too much into "formatting" and including typography in my judgment. If formatting is simply the markup, then it's fine. The samples on Zen Garden still look pretty mediocre though, and some of them are humorously bad. ePub champions defend it saying it's the problem of the viewing software and not the code itself, which is more or less true, but when there's no good viewing software, it's a bit of a bottleneck.

And yes I agree that the average Joe has low standards, but that's why I think it's usually a good idea to leave book typesetting to people who aren't the average Joe. Books that look like they were made by toddlers might be fine for average ebook users, but not everyone can handle paying for such things.

It's fine and good to take the "high road" and say that it's all about content and that presentation doesn't matter beyond legibility. I don't find that to be true, but my background has biased me in favor of good design. Reading straight text for me, just like reading a poorly-made book (electronic or otherwise), is a struggle. I notice the problems and they destroy the flow of reading for me...and I'm not anywhere near perfectionist. For me, it's like listening to a badly and inconsistently out-of-tune piano. Many won't consciously notice it, and some will even defend it as having "character", but for some, it's just a chore to tolerate.

riemann42
04-03-2010, 10:50 PM
It's fine and good to take the "high road" and say that it's all about content and that presentation doesn't matter beyond legibility. I don't find that to be true, but my background has biased me in favor of good design. Reading straight text for me, just like reading a poorly-made book (electronic or otherwise), is a struggle. I notice the problems and they destroy the flow of reading for me...and I'm not anywhere near perfectionist. For me, it's like listening to a badly and inconsistently out-of-tune piano. Many won't consciously notice it, and some will even defend it as having "character", but for some, it's just a chore to tolerate.

I agree! I used to work as a production artist for an ad agency. My job was to actually make the ideas look good. Ligatures, spacing, H&J, all made the difference. These are the subtle things that add character and professionalism.

That having been said, InDesign does all this automatically these days. I wish the eBook readers took this stuff seriously. Ligatures and proper H&J would make all the difference!

Of course, so would 300 DPI ePaper displays.

Michael J Hunt
04-04-2010, 09:29 AM
I'm an ignoramus about e-book readers as I don't own one. But I do have three e-books 'out there' and I'm curious to know how they appear on (or in) an e-reader. When I look at the pdf versions on my computer screen there's absolutely nothing about them that is different to their paper counterparts. Am I being naive, but aren't all books published in both forms identical? Could this only be true for books that are published with the intention of their appearing in both forms? Also, is it possible for unwanted errors to creep in during conversion from one format to another? If this is so, surely the publisher should subject the final pdf version to a proof-read before he sells it.

MJ

LDBoblo
04-04-2010, 01:38 PM
I'm an ignoramus about e-book readers as I don't own one. But I do have three e-books 'out there' and I'm curious to know how they appear on (or in) an e-reader. When I look at the pdf versions on my computer screen there's absolutely nothing about them that is different to their paper counterparts. Am I being naive, but aren't all books published in both forms identical? Could this only be true for books that are published with the intention of their appearing in both forms? Also, is it possible for unwanted errors to creep in during conversion from one format to another? If this is so, surely the publisher should subject the final pdf version to a proof-read before he sells it.

MJ
PDFs are basically the only ebook format that is faithful to content layout as it was created. Most of the portable ebook reader devices though are a bit clumsy at best with PDFs unless specially laid out for the screen, and many users prefer formats that allow dynamic resizing of the text. The main contestant in this arena is ePUB, but it and most of its competitors are pretty much just HTML. Now if you can imagine what some websites looked like in different web browsers some years back (it still happens today, though to a much smaller extent), you can probably imagine how ePUB support looks.

With most such files, hyphenation is lost, and in some more deprecated readers like the Sony PRS-505, there isn't even full-width justification. For defaults in a few readers, italics, small caps, and bolds are simulated and not real, and when I tried a Kindle, all the books were crammed into the same typeface (though ePUB allows font embedding, like PDF does, but the Kindle doesn't support ePUB if I recall correctly). Basic details of formatting are handled in CSS like web pages, while more subtle things like kerning, ligatures, and H&J, and things dependent on pagination (orphan/widow control in particular), would probably need to be part of a viewing program. Current viewing programs are pretty much still in the dark ages though.

Worldwalker
04-04-2010, 02:53 PM
Some people get different senses involved in any experience. I'm one of the "smell" people. I do enjoy the way books smell -- and feel -- as part of my reading experience. It's not just books, of course. My clothing choices are influenced by the feel of the fabric on my skin. I buy pens that feel good to write with, with a strong preference for fountain pens. And yes, sometimes I miss vinyl records because there's something about sliding the album out of its cover, and then out of its sleeve, and putting it on the turntable, that's just not there when I push "play" on my Sansa.

Some people happily eat boring food day in, day out -- I have a friend who could probably live on nothing but bean burritos -- and some people are gourmets. Neither of them are wrong; it's just a difference in personal preference, in priorities, and in how much they rely on that particular sort of sensory input.

I like the smell of fresh ink on crisp new pages, and I like the smell of age on pages that many hands ... I always wonder whose ... have turned before me. I like the weight of a book, and the feel of it, the texture ... all of that. I also like my Sony PRS-505. Love, even. I wouldn't want to be without it. But it's a different thing. It's just words on a screen. All of those other sensations are missing.

I'm contemplating building a replacement for its tacky vinyl cover using bookcloth and some nice marbled endpapers, and maybe with a little space in the back to carry spare SD cards. I wonder if I could make it smell like a book?

GA Russell
04-04-2010, 04:31 PM
I really love the smell of a brand new book, particularly a mass market paperback. That's one of the reasons I feel an eBook should cost less than the MMPB.

The absence of the aroma is by no means a deal breaker, but to me the smell of a new book, not an old book, is a special treat worth paying for.

Ken Maltby
04-04-2010, 05:11 PM
I really love the smell of a brand new book, particularly a mass market paperback. That's one of the reasons I feel an eBook should cost less than the MMPB.

The absence of the aroma is by no means a deal breaker, but to me the smell of a new book, not an old book, is a special treat worth paying for.

Hmm... Perhaps "Glade" can be persuaded to come out with "New Book" and
"Old Book" fragrances. You can get "New Car" spray, how about a "Book
Smell" spray for eReaders that is activated by the heat from holding it?

It might even qualify as a new "Green" tech, and be eligible for some "Obama
Money".

Luck;
Ken

riemann42
04-04-2010, 05:18 PM
I have a fairly sensitive nose. I dislike most odors. The smell of a new book (ink and pulp) is awful. The smell of an old book (mildew) is unbearable.

For the record, I also dislike new electronics smell, especially the smell of lubricants, thermal grease, etc.

ardeegee
04-04-2010, 05:48 PM
Imagine the future arguments about these (http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/040310-geminoid-f-hiroshi-ishiguro-unveils-new-smiling-female-android)!

TGS
04-04-2010, 06:06 PM
Imagine the future arguments about these (http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/040310-geminoid-f-hiroshi-ishiguro-unveils-new-smiling-female-android)!

As they say - if you can't tell the difference then the difference doesn't matter!

Elfwreck
04-04-2010, 07:11 PM
[quote] (1) Am I being naive, but aren't all books published in both forms identical? Could this only be true for books that are published with the intention of their appearing in both forms? (2) Also, is it possible for unwanted errors to creep in during conversion from one format to another? (3) If this is so, surely the publisher should subject the final pdf version to a proof-read before he sells it.

1) The PDF looks the same (for some values of "same") as the printed version. Not all ebooks are released in PDF format, and the differences in appearance and functionality can be rather large.

This is especially true for technical books with charts & graphs, or image-heavy books, for some obvious and some less-than-obvious reasons. Obvious: a screen the size of your palm is obviously going to change the way a picture looks, and is going to be troublesome for a large complex chart. Less obvious: some formats have limitations on what kinds of images they can hold, or what digital size the images an be.

You can check out some of the differences by getting a couple of free ebook readers (Stanza, Calibre, Mobipocket Reader, the Firefox ePub plugin, etc.) and trying a few ebooks, both the same & different formats, on each of them. If you're like most people, your initial reaction will be, "huh. Yeah, they look a bit different, but they all work okay. I can see wanting the different background colors of this one, or the different menu options of that one, but so what?"

However, when those differences are translated to portable devices, it all changes. In order to fit ebooks on a 3" wide screen, the text has to either be very tiny--or involve a whole *lot* of page turns. In order to go to e-ink, the book is black-and-white (grayscale for images); there's no colored text. And all small screens have to choose between justified text with large gaps between words, or ragged right edges. Some make this choice for you; some allow you to decide.

To get a *bit* of a feel for how that works, open a PDF of your choice, and set the viewing window to a size of about 4"x6" on the computer screen. Then try reading in that.

PDF is only a good format for ebooks if the screen being read on is the same size (or bigger) than the page-size of the PDF.

2) errors--as mentioned, some errors creep in during conversion. Hyphenation and the occasional odd line-break problem are chief. Going to non-PDF forms, other common errors include bad formatting--no table of contents, no metadata (so the book shows up on a portable device as "Microsoft Word - OMOcaranorthARE.rtf" because nobody fixed it before PDF conversion), no page breaks between chapters. Sometimes all text formatting is stripped out; sometimes just quoted indents & other paragraph formatting are lost.

3) Bigger errors: however, those aren't the main errors people complain about. Most professional ebooks made from books more than ~5 years old are made by scanning & OCR'ing a physical book, because no digital copy exists anymore. And publishers are *terrible* about proofing those--often, they're sent through automatic software, with, as far as customers can tell, no human supervision before they're sold. So they have OCR errors, formatting errors, sometimes missing words, often missing all graphics... nobody proofreads them; nobody even runs a basic spellcheck on them.

The first professional release of Tolkien's books included one with a title page that said "Tha Hobbit."

We are aware, when we buy professional ebooks, that we're getting something of unknown quality, and if it's DRM'd, we can't even (easily, legally) edit it to fix the worst of the problems.

Michael J Hunt
04-09-2010, 03:00 AM
Thank you, LDB. That explains it beautifully. Thank you very much.

MJ

Lemurion
04-09-2010, 08:12 AM
I didn't like the smell of the last book I bought. It's a copy of Sherlock Holmes dating back to circa. 1900 and the odor did more to put me off than attract me.

As to the recurring formatting and layout issues like ligatures and proper justification, I find it always comes back to this: No matter how technically excellent the formatting and layout, if I can't read it comfortably it's not good formatting. Others may find it wonderful, but if I can't read it then it's a failure from my perspective.

I think we should focus on the basics - like getting all the right words in the right places - before worrying about things like ligatures and justification.

leebase
04-09-2010, 09:53 AM
What I, one of my daughters and my wife miss about paper books, is the sense of size and "how much did I read" and seeing the book mark travel through the book. I do far prefer ebooks, but I do understand that there are tactical/sensual pleasures to paper books that are missing with ebooks.

I don't miss it enough to give up the advantages of ebooks.

Lee

GA Russell
04-09-2010, 11:02 AM
What I, one of my daughters and my wife miss about paper books, is the sense of size and "how much did I read" and seeing the book mark travel through the book.

Lee, my jetBook Lite has at the top a running counter of the percentage of the book (to the second decimal point!) I have read. I'm sure that without that I would not enjoy the eBook as much.

I think this is related to a sense of accomplishment, akin to checking off something on a checklist.

Perhaps this desire to complete a task is counter to what authors have in mind, but for me it is real nonetheless.

kdawnbyrd
04-09-2010, 12:03 PM
I'm a book collector from way back. I collect mostly children's series books, the older the better. I fought the ebook craze for a long time, afraid that ebooks might somehow threaten my wonderful print books. My first experience with ebooks came when I just HAD to read a certain book and it was available only in e. I downloaded it and haven't looked back. I no longer buy print books. :)

Worldwalker
04-09-2010, 12:46 PM
I collect mostly children's series books, the older the better.

How old are you referring to?

Michael J Hunt
04-16-2010, 04:12 AM
Hello, Elfwreck,

I appreciate the tremendous trouble you have gone to in order to educate me. I still haven't decided whether I should invest in an e-reader, but I shall look at the choices available and re-visit your comments.

Many thanks,

MJ

Kirtai
04-16-2010, 02:29 PM
It took me a while to change over to ebooks but they're pretty much all I buy nowadays.

The main exception is where the book itself is artwork; my most recent ones are the illustrated versions of "Wee Free Men" and "The Last Hero" by Pratchett.

The thing I miss most about pbooks is easy, convenient bookmarks. Bookmarking ebooks tends to be clumsy and you usually can't transfer them from one reader to another.

Elfwreck
04-16-2010, 03:40 PM
Hello, Elfwreck,

I appreciate the tremendous trouble you have gone to in order to educate me. I still haven't decided whether I should invest in an e-reader, but I shall look at the choices available and re-visit your comments.


It's no trouble at all; I'm obsessed, and any excuse to throw info at a stranger is one less lecture my husband has to listen to. And replying helps me sort out the facts and my opinions; if you get anything out of it, that's a nice bonus. :)

tamole
07-01-2010, 03:22 PM
I always thought I was the sort of person who "loves books". I could spend hours in second-hand bookshops, was always was thrilled when I got book tokens as gifts because I could indulge in buying a stack of books that I couldn't justify splurging cash on and just liked to have books around. A couple of months ago I got my first ebook reader and, whilst I still like second-hand bookshops I reckon there is as much pleasure to be gained from a well-formatted ebook as there is from most pbooks.

It makes me wonder how many book aficionados would really enjoy the transition to ebooks if they just tried it.
Books are about the writing. I, too, love book stores and my home library is filled with books. And I still buy hard books when I find one I'd like to keep around. That said, ebooks have enabled me to read much more often than I did before. I can carry a library of books when I travel and always have the next one ready to go. If I have 15 minutes here or there, I always have a book on my phone. I listen to audio books in my car and when working in the yard or around the house. It makes no difference to me if the words are printed on paper or a screen, great writing is great writing.

MaggieScratch
07-01-2010, 04:27 PM
I own a book that was published/printed in the 1850s and it smells like dust, basically.

J. Strnad
07-01-2010, 11:09 PM
The pleasure of the smell or feel or whatever of a print book is associational. We love these things because they have a pleasant association in our minds with being swept away by books, with the joy of READING.

Ereaders can still give us this joy. It just takes a little time to rearrange our neural nets to appreciate them.

Maggie Leung
07-02-2010, 03:59 AM
I can appreciate the textural and visual pleasure of books, but have never been drawn to the smell. Growing up in the tropics, I found the smell of old books actually turned me off (partly associated with damp and creepy crawlies).

Reading to me is mostly about the writing, the stories, though. I don't mind giving up the textural and visual enjoyment much, but there are practical uses for print books where I find e-books fall way short. Not being able to easily flip through books and compare two or more books is a big drawback, for instance. Even with a Kindle and an iPad, this isn't anywhere near as convenient. (I read a lot of nonfiction; this probably comes up less with fiction.)

TheOn3LeftBehind
07-02-2010, 04:20 AM
I just like the feel of a physical library. Especially one like in Beauty and the Beast. I *will* have a huge library whence I'm out of college.

J. Strnad
07-02-2010, 11:21 AM
Wait until you move a few times. Those physical books lose a lot of their appeal when you're shlepping boxes of them up three flights of stairs.

Some books need to be printed and are worth the investment, but most of what I read doesn't need the deluxe treatment. For these, an ereader is perfect.

Luckily, you don't have to choose one or the other...you can choose both!

fjtorres
07-02-2010, 11:30 AM
Wait until you move a few times. Those physical books lose a lot of their appeal when you're shlepping boxes of them up three flights of stairs.

Oh, my achin' back!
I'm going through that drill right now and wondering how I ended up with 60 cu ft worth of dead tree pulp. (New place will have a library and I hope it'll look cool but for now...)

A lot of fun times in those boxes but none of them seems to smell particularly good. ;)

LDBoblo
07-02-2010, 11:34 AM
Reading to me is mostly about the writing, the stories, though. I don't mind giving up the textural and visual enjoyment much, but there are practical uses for print books where I find e-books fall way short.
I have yet to use my ebook reader to kill a spider or cockroach, though I suspect that will be remedied in the future when more screens will have plastic backplanes...if I bother to buy one.

Spiffy
07-02-2010, 11:35 AM
It's a silly article.

People who love the smell of books might be confusing their sense memory with their love of books. But I don't REALLY think its all that common a position.

I mean how many people still buy hardcover books with leather bindings? THAT'S where the smell thing originated. People who think that some 20 year old ratty paperback smells like a vintage leather bound volume aren't operating with a full deck anyway.

garygibsonsf
07-02-2010, 12:03 PM
I'm glad someone started this thread, because one of the things that bugs me about the whole 'smell of books' argument is that a lot of the time what people are really smelling - particularly in terms of old or second-hand books- is rotting paper. You're smelling the long, slow death of your book as it slowly turns yellow and crumbles - a fate which, assuming you're not allergic to occasional backups, your digital text (okay, assuming it's multiformat or has been de-drmed) will never suffer.

jezebel
07-02-2010, 01:04 PM
The books that smell like old books are the ones I avoid buying.

whitearrow
07-02-2010, 01:35 PM
It's a silly article.

People who love the smell of books might be confusing their sense memory with their love of books. But I don't REALLY think its all that common a position.

I hear it all the time when I talk about my Kindle. "But I love the smell of REAL books!" etc.

There are more people in the book sniffing crowd than you'd think :)

HamsterRage
07-02-2010, 01:45 PM
I remain baffled by this. Truly, truly baffled.

To me books are all about the content. I buy them, I open them to page 1 and start reading. When I get to the end I put it on a bookshelf or take it off to a second-hand bookstore.

The fate of the book after I'm finished totally depends on the content. Was it good? Was it part of a series? Can I see myself reading it again?

I'm fairly convinced that people that say they find ereading somehow lacking have not really tried it on a good, dedicated ereader.

Maggie Leung
07-02-2010, 01:55 PM
I have yet to use my ebook reader to kill a spider or cockroach, though I suspect that will be remedied in the future when more screens will have plastic backplanes...if I bother to buy one.

Lol. I hope you're joking. I've killed plenty of bugs, but not with books.

Ea
07-04-2010, 06:08 AM
Wait until you move a few times. Those physical books lose a lot of their appeal when you're shlepping boxes of them up three flights of stairs.

Yes!
Oh, my achin' back!
I'm going through that drill right now and wondering how I ended up with 60 cu ft worth of dead tree pulp. (New place will have a library and I hope it'll look cool but for now...)

I sympathise. I've just moved, I had abt. 1.2 cubic meter (40 cu ft). Over the last months before moving I culled a few shelves worth of books. And after I moved I ended up giving away at least as many books again. I was really shocked that is was so much.

That said, even if I prefer reading e-books (at least fiction), I still like to own some of them in paper version, too, and I don't think a living room is a real living room without books. One's choice of books are after all an expression of who one are, and apparently I feel a need to have that on display at some level. And books are also a good conversation starter for guests.

Maggie Leung
07-04-2010, 12:40 PM
Yes!

I sympathise. I've just moved, I had abt. 1.2 cubic meter (40 cu ft). Over the last months before moving I culled a few shelves worth of books. And after I moved I ended up giving away at least as many books again. I was really shocked that is was so much.

That said, even if I prefer reading e-books (at least fiction), I still like to own some of them in paper version, too, and I don't think a living room is a real living room without books. One's choice of books are after all an expression of who one are, and apparently I feel a need to have that on display at some level. And books are also a good conversation starter for guests.

I keep all my books in my book room, which I rarely show people. My husband keeps his books in his office / media room. Judging by the rest of our home, we're illiterate, lol.

I've moved repeatedly for work, so movers always do the packing and moving, and my employers pay. Moving estimators love people with large book collections. The actual movers don't seem to, lol. I owned one house in which the book room ended up on the fourth floor. Those movers were not happy campers.

Ea
07-04-2010, 01:05 PM
I keep all my books in my book room, which I rarely show people. My husband keeps his books in his office / media room. Judging by the rest of our home, we're illiterate, lol.
As a child, I always used to wonder where my friends' families kept their books. There were usually only a shelf or two of books. Though given what I remember of them, they didn't have more books in their homes.

I've moved repeatedly for work, so movers always do the packing and moving, and my employers pay. Moving estimators love people with large book collections. The actual movers don't seem to, lol. I owned one house in which the book room ended up on the fourth floor. Those movers were not happy campers.
When you have someone to do the actual work - and I assume packing and un-packing as well - you can afford to keep more books :)

My father told me of the first time he and my mother were moving. The mover didn't bother to check in person how much they had - a couple of teachers with young children = usually not much money and few possessions, but they happened to be in their late thirties, and readers, and in my father's case, prone to impulse book-buying.

I don't think that mover ever again failed to check in person before he gave an estimate.

Maggie Leung
07-04-2010, 01:44 PM
As a child, I always used to wonder where my friends' families kept their books. There were usually only a shelf or two of books. Though given what I remember of them, they didn't have more books in their homes.


When you have someone to do the actual work - and I assume packing and un-packing as well - you can afford to keep more books :)

My father told me of the first time he and my mother were moving. The mover didn't bother to check in person how much they had - a couple of teachers with young children = usually not much money and few possessions, but they happened to be in their late thirties, and readers, and in my father's case, prone to impulse book-buying.

I don't think that mover ever again failed to check in person before he gave an estimate.

Lol. Bad move by your parents' mover. Good thing he wasn't moving them cross-country.

I do own a good number of books, but keep only those I wanna reread. I prefer to unpack them myself. (Movers will unpack, but your books end up in disarray.) Over repeated moves, I learned to take photos of my bookshelves beforehand. When my books arrive on the other end, I reassemble them like a jigsaw puzzle. It's much quicker than my going through all my books, getting caught up and leaving off unpacking to read, lol.

I know a former book critic with 30,000+ books. He moved, ended up having to store many of his books. He would fly back to his old state and visit his books in a storage locker, lol. His wife then won a fellowship with a moving stipend. With so many books, they had to pay out of pocket. Their moving estimators loved them.

Ea
07-04-2010, 02:10 PM
Lol. Bad move by your parents' mover. Good thing he wasn't moving them cross-country.
LOL - good joke :) Technically, it actually was cross-country - just the country being little Denmark ;) The lorry also punctured on the way - no doubt due to the weight of the books - and the mover didn't get there until midnight :p

I do own a good number of books, but keep only those I wanna reread. I prefer to unpack them myself. (Movers will unpack, but your books end up in disarray.) Over repeated moves, I learned to take photos of my bookshelves beforehand. When my books arrive on the other end, I reassemble them like a jigsaw puzzle. It's much quicker than my going through all my books, getting caught up and leaving off unpacking to read, lol.
That's a very good idea, then you don't need to shift so many books to get them in the right order. Which reminds me, my non-fiction is not in much order yet... :o

tponzo
07-04-2010, 02:30 PM
I totally agree about the tactile, sensory appeal of physical books and have been part of discussions with other readers pro and con.

I also have been buying books for over 30 years and have moved many times. I have friends and relatives who refuse to help me move anymore (lol). I temporarily moved out of the country once, left boxes and boxes of books with a relative and came back to find them gone, most of them were irreplaceable.:(

I currently pay monthly storage for mostly books because I live with my sister and have no place for them. That doesn't count the boxes I brought to her house and the books bought since moving in two years ago.

I also travel quite a bit and use public transportation "nuff said.

So as much as I really like the sensory appeal of physical books I also really appreciate my Sony PRS 900. I currently have over 100 books in it and counting and just the thought of trying to store that many more physical books is mind boggling.

Reading more than one book at a time? No problem, I've got both (or 3 or more ;)) with me and can switch back and forth. Finish a book? Go back to the home page and pick another one easy as touching the screen.

There are still books which I want to own a physical copy as well as the e-book (pay attention publishers, deals and bundles can be made!) but I am really glad I made the investment.

Spiffy
07-04-2010, 02:58 PM
I'm glad someone started this thread, because one of the things that bugs me about the whole 'smell of books' argument is that a lot of the time what people are really smelling - particularly in terms of old or second-hand books- is rotting paper. You're smelling the long, slow death of your book as it slowly turns yellow and crumbles - a fate which, assuming you're not allergic to occasional backups, your digital text (okay, assuming it's multiformat or has been de-drmed) will never suffer.
Well, except for what they're confusing it with. The much older tradition of books which used to smell good because they were wrapped in animal skin (which, when treated properly DOES smell good... at least until it stops being treated properly, and then it can either smell like nothing, or even bad).

GlenBarrington
07-05-2010, 10:24 AM
I love the tactile sensation of the page advance button. I love the little Repetitive Stress twinge in my right index finger when I press that little button. I love how warm the reader feels when it is freshly charged.

These are intangible rewards that paper just can't duplicate. And that's why paper books are inferior to 'e'

HamsterRage
07-05-2010, 11:38 AM
As a child, I always used to wonder where my friends' families kept their books. There were usually only a shelf or two of books. Though given what I remember of them, they didn't have more books in their homes.

The sad truth is that the majority of people would never think of reading a book for pleasure. So the chances are that most of those families didn't have any more books than what you saw.

J. Strnad
07-05-2010, 12:02 PM
I love the tactile sensation of the page advance button. I love the little Repetitive Stress twinge in my right index finger when I press that little button. I love how warm the reader feels when it is freshly charged.

These are intangible rewards that paper just can't duplicate. And that's why paper books are inferior to 'e'

The big loss came when we moved from papyrus scrolls to paper books. I loved the reedy smell of papyrus and the continuous flow of the scroll over the herky-jerky movement of text through pages.

LDBoblo
07-05-2010, 12:58 PM
The big loss came when we moved from papyrus scrolls to paper books. I loved the reedy smell of papyrus and the continuous flow of the scroll over the herky-jerky movement of text through pages.
I've never quite understood this analogy, or rather I've never appreciated its intention. Many people who call upon nostalgia and emotion to defend their preference for real books simply aren't able to sufficiently articulate their opinions. Sure, some folks are simply stubbornly ignorant, but many others do not fully appreciate intangible media.

Scrolls, books, clay tablets, stacks of photocopies, carved toilet seats...all of these things are tangible and can be interacted with directly. They do not depend on intermediary devices, complex electronics, or software to remain usable. That is a big advantage for many people.

I still wish it were possible to print/bind ebooks conveniently and cheaply. I am stuck buying hard copies of every book I really enjoy.

ThomasMc
07-05-2010, 01:08 PM
It makes me wonder how many book aficionados would really enjoy the transition to ebooks if they just tried it.

I've been reading eBooks for years, and much prefer them over bulky, heavy paper books. My other-half refuses to even try them, insisting paper is better.

I guess it's like yogurt and buttermilk: an acquired taste that is savored once learned.

GlenBarrington
07-05-2010, 08:54 PM
Well, MY intent was to make fun of the sensuality argument. All things have their own sensuality. The love of a given sensual feeling is generated in our psyche and that feeling is not inherently lovable. THAT is something we bring to the table.

I don't know much about the nostalgia angle. I never thought about it much.

Teyrnon
07-05-2010, 09:18 PM
I love the tactile sensation of the page advance button. I love the little Repetitive Stress twinge in my right index finger when I press that little button. I love how warm the reader feels when it is freshly charged.

I love that I've managed to go a year without paper cuts.

fjtorres
07-05-2010, 09:37 PM
I still wish it were possible to print/bind ebooks conveniently and cheaply. I am stuck buying hard copies of every book I really enjoy.

1- Laser printers are dirt cheap, these days.

2- Book binding is a fun hobby for many. ;)
http://www.aboutbookbinding.com/

3- I've done a few myself. The manual labor aspect is quite therapeutic; right up there with woodworking. I'll probably give it a try again one of these centuries.

LDBoblo
07-06-2010, 12:35 AM
1- Laser printers are dirt cheap, these days.

2- Book binding is a fun hobby for many. ;)
http://www.aboutbookbinding.com/

3- I've done a few myself. The manual labor aspect is quite therapeutic; right up there with woodworking. I'll probably give it a try again one of these centuries.
Sorry, I should have corrected myself. I meant I wish doing a half-assed job were convenient and cheap. I'm familiar with printing and with binding, but I have yet to see a convenient, cheap homemade job that isn't rubbish.

*reg*
07-06-2010, 04:20 AM
The smell and feel of a physical book is what stopped me from purchasing an electronic book ages ago.

Have finally made the leap (although I haven't received it yet). Yet my husband has already predicted that if I really really love a book I will probably buy the hard copy version as well. And he is probably right.

san4os
07-06-2010, 08:42 AM
I like read books with their strange old smell. its gives to story some miracle =)



___________________
jacobs coffee (http://www.cheap-coffee-online.com/jacobs_coffee)

leebase
07-06-2010, 11:10 AM
Lee, my jetBook Lite has at the top a running counter of the percentage of the book (to the second decimal point!) I have read. I'm sure that without that I would not enjoy the eBook as much.
.

All my book apps have some way to tell me how much I've read....but it's not the same even if it's far more accurate. I thought it was just me until my daughter told me the same thing. To her, she would rather read a paper book just for that reason alone. She doesn't get the same sense of accomplishment with ebooks.

I really miss knowing "how big" a book I'm reading is.

Lee

Lastblade
07-06-2010, 11:17 AM
I gave/donated 95% of my books last week after I got the nook. As I get older, the more I realize that a lot of my stuff are clutter (living here in NYC helps you with that realization). Physical books are nice if you have the room but at the end of the day, I care about the words more than the paper. Content is king, not the medium.

mike_bike_kite
07-06-2010, 02:34 PM
I have a leather cover for my Kindle and now all my ebooks smell of old leather - rather nice actually.

jasonfedelem
07-06-2010, 05:18 PM
Content is king, not the medium.

Exactly the way I look at it, although I have kept some of my original/older/classic editions

frankenbooks
07-07-2010, 11:40 PM
Kathleen Parker has a column in the Wash Post today about how once again she a book lover has to smell her books first. egads, what's wrong with that meme?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/06/AR2010070603211.html

She's gonna lost most people HERE:

"......I belong to that subgroup of individuals who smell a book before reading. (If you are not a book-smeller, we have nothing further to discuss.)

The tactile experience of reading is also crucial to my reading pleasure. Holding a book compares to nothing short of a baby's contact with his favorite blankie. Consistent with Ackerman's findings, a hardback is superior to a paperback precisely because it is more solid, weightier and, therefore, more permanent, more important, better."

montsnmags
07-08-2010, 01:08 AM
I disagree with some further things she says (there seems assumptions based on her subjective experience that are being conflated into generalities), but I think when she says, "If you are not a book-smeller, we have nothing further to discuss", she is simply saying that for those that do, there is elaboration on the experience, but for those that don't no explanation will satisfy.

That is to say, "I like caramel". If you don't...cool, there's no point in discussing with you my love of caramel then.

Incidentally, I still love paper books. I always will. I don't confuse the memory of reading with the smell - I embrace it. I realise that like a lot of smells, it probably comes from chemical breakdown...rotting, if you will, but still don't care about why, but only how, I sense it. Being a RAAF-brat (Royal Australian Air Force), and then continuing that theme of moving, I've moved a lot of books a lot of places...my ebook device is not a substitute for having to cart those physical objects everywhere (it would be amusing if so, seeing as I am likely at my final destination).

It is romantic...subjective...irrational...the magnificent (to me) self-delusion of imaginary experience, to have this emotional attachment to physical objects. But, to me, it is no better nor worse (because of that subjectivity) than attachment to the imaginary experience of the content...the story. I like it, and I don't condemn the person who smells books, or doesn't, or who likes hard copy, or who doesn't, any more than I'd condemn someone because they don't like caramel.

I don't really understand why (other than the publicity of controversy) the "book-smellers" (anti-ebookers) sometimes write their condemnations of the electronic book. I must admit, I don't understand why (other than understandable defensiveness) people respond with condemnation of "book-smelling" (pbook-buyers).

Do what you enjoy. It's all, to me (be it pbooks, ebooks, software, bookshelving, hyperlinked data, physical bookmarks, et cetera), a brilliant obsession, whether I partake of your particular variety of desire or not.

Cheers,
Marc (who in very simplistic terms loves ebooks for hypertext, and pbooks for comfort, but conditions apply ;))

Poppa1956
07-08-2010, 02:05 AM
I grew up loving books. I used to spend hours perusing books my grandfather got when my mother was little, or even before she was born. I learned to appreciate the arts of typography and binding that would help make great classic books works of art, or nearly such.
As the son of a journeyman printer, I had the privilege of occasional trips to work with my father. I got to see him compose pages from fonts that were held in bins (and "uppercase" letters were in the upper case of bins, "lowercase" letters in the lowers). Changing the font might require a significant physical effort. The Lithograph (or Linotype) was a wonderful labor-saving machine involving molten lead, some things called "pigs" that didn't look porcine in anyway I recognized, and my father typing using one finger on each hand.
Holding a well-crafted tome will often evoke all these fond memories. The scent of ink from a new book, or the musty aroma of ancient volumes can move me to tears if I allow myself to get mawkish about it.
I enjoy the fact that I can read a page in smallish print in the morning, and enlarge the type as my eyes fatigue near the end of the day. I enjoy being able to carry three Bibles, as many devotionals, some headline news, Bulfinch's Age of Fables, a few DummiesŪ books, the MR Book-of-the-Month selection, and almost whatever my little heart desires and it weighing 343 grams in toto.
I do not miss the smell of ink, or the textures of the paper and covers of traditional books while I am enjoying my Nook, nor have I forgotten those sensations.
Am I allowed to enjoy each reading experience while partaking of the same?

JSWolf
07-08-2010, 10:12 PM
Have you seen the ePub Zen Garden (http://epubzengarden.com/#/static/middlemarch/OEBPS/chapter1.html)? (Although I suspect that a number of the styles wouldn't work on some portable devices; they may not support all the coding options.)

Setting aside *good* formatting--for a lot of people, basic text is sufficient, and "well-formatted" means
The line breaks are in the right places,
Extra line between paragraphs *or* indented paragraphs,
Lines don't wrap between double hyphens,
No long gaps between words,
Punctuation is accurate enough that it's not consciously noticed,
New chapters start on a new page.

I read ebooks for two years on a Sony Clie 320x320 pixel screen, and would've been happy to continue; I had screen problems & battery problems.

I have to disagree somewhat here.

#1 is OK
#2 is a bit off. Extra lines between paragraphs is very poor formatting.
#3 is way off. double hyphens is poor formatting. They should be em dashes.
#4 is OK
#5 is way off. Punctuation should be correct and not just unnoticeably wrong.
#6 is OK

Overall, those definitions of well-formatted means a book I'd have to reformat to be well-formatted.

I just took a look at the link posted for ePub Zen Garden and I find that the sample is AWFUL. Just go to chapter 4 for a good look at poor formatting. Using the noir styling, I see the C in Chapter is way too big to not be a distraction. The indents are too big and the line spaces between paragraphs is distracting. The text gets lost in the poor formatting.

GlenBarrington
07-09-2010, 06:37 AM
Which really goes to show that finding a standard acceptable to all won't be easy. Personally, I think those first 6 set of standards are acceptable. Heck, I'd be happy if the publishers actually used a spell check program before they sell me a book!

I have to disagree somewhat here.

#1 is OK
#2 is a bit off. Extra lines between paragraphs is very poor formatting.
#3 is way off. double hyphens is poor formatting. They should be em dashes.
#4 is OK
#5 is way off. Punctuation should be correct and not just unnoticeably wrong.
#6 is OK

Overall, those definitions of well-formatted means a book I'd have to reformat to be well-formatted.

I just took a look at the link posted for ePub Zen Garden and I find that the sample is AWFUL. Just go to chapter 4 for a good look at poor formatting. Using the noir styling, I see the C in Chapter is way too big to not be a distraction. The indents are too big and the line spaces between paragraphs is distracting. The text gets lost in the poor formatting.

fjtorres
07-09-2010, 09:56 AM
Different folks have different ideas about how they prfer their *content* to be presented. That is one of the strengths of ebooks that the publishers still don't get; they keep trying to pass off pretend-paper PDF as an ebook format or looking to turn ebooks into facsimiles of the print editions. It is wasted effort.

The best ebook readers devices and apps let the reader choose how they want the content presented. And yes, in this context, "presented" does include TTS.
I'm buying the story/article/essay/whatever, not a file and not a digital micro-fiche.

A good ebook is fully-proofed and spell-checked; it will feature proper typography (paragraph indents or outdents, em-dashes and matching quotes and apostrophes) and chapter breaks. Table of contents and hyperlinks as appropriate.

Beyond that, it should allow the reader to override whatever elements they choose; some folks prefered full justification, others left aligned; some prefer white space margins to control scan width, others want to use every last bit of display space; some prefer serif fonts, others sans-serif. All variants are right...for that specific person. Anything that breaks immersion is bad, everything that helps it is good.

Publishers need to get the basics right and then get out of the way. And they should stop trying to force paper formatting onto ebooks; readers shouldn't have to rebuild a book just to be able to read it as they want to read it. We're not buying digital microfiches or archival reproductions of a print edition; we are buying a story or an essay or whatever. We're buying the content not the packaging.

Because in the end, we really don't care about the smell. :)

bjones6416
07-09-2010, 10:36 AM
I have a leather cover for my Kindle and now all my ebooks smell of old leather - rather nice actually.

I agree -- I have a leather cover on my Sony, so ALL my e-books smell good. :)

ardeegee
07-09-2010, 03:30 PM
I agree -- I have a leather cover on my Sony, so ALL my e-books smell good. :)

I have a cover made entirely out of Fruit Roll-Ups (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_Roll-Ups)-- so my books taste as good as they smell!

Maggie Leung
07-09-2010, 04:13 PM
I have a cover made entirely out of Fruit Roll-Ups (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_Roll-Ups)-- so my books taste as good as they smell!

Can you make me one outta bacon?

BenLee
07-09-2010, 05:10 PM
I have a cover made entirely out of Fruit Roll-Ups (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_Roll-Ups)-- so my books taste as good as they smell!

Might not age as well as paper :p

bjones6416
07-09-2010, 07:25 PM
I have a cover made entirely out of Fruit Roll-Ups (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_Roll-Ups)-- so my books taste as good as they smell!

Well, yeah, but no berries were harmed in the making of my leather c... never mind.

GA Russell
07-09-2010, 07:27 PM
Kathleen Parker...

"......I belong to that subgroup of individuals who smell a book before reading. (If you are not a book-smeller, we have nothing further to discuss.)..."


I agree with that much of what she wrote. It's a big reason of why I have never liked library books!

But since I got my jetBook Lite for Christmas, I have read 19 books plus many short stories and a few novellas, all of which were free. It's hard to compete with free!

rhadin
07-10-2010, 10:28 AM
It's hard to compete with free!

Yes, it is hard to compete with free. But it is also hard for a serious author to make a living if the only thing ebookers read are free ebooks :).

I recently considered the problem of value in ebooks; that is, why we ebookers are reluctant to pay more than a dollar or two for an ebook yet we will buy more transient entertainments for a higher price and not blink an eye. I think it is a sensory matter, and I wrote about it in Valuing eBooks: Is it a Sensory Problem? (http://americaneditor.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/valuing-ebooks-is-it-a-sensory-problem/) on my An American Editor blog.

I know a lot of people discard the idea (and even more tell me I must be an idiot if I think that there could be any reason other than, say, the fact that there are no printing costs involved or that there is DRM as to why ebooks should be cheap, cheap, cheap), but I wonder if we grew up with certain unconscious expectations as regards books that we are unwittingly transfering to ebooks.

ThomasMc
07-10-2010, 10:58 AM
Ugh. Sniffing binder glue and paper bleaching chemicals does nothing for me. I want to get lost in the content.

That people think smelling a book is important reminds me of all those people I've met who have bookcases full of impressive books they have never (and will never) actually read, they are just a decorating item to them. When I see that, I want to sneak into their houses when they are on vacation and read their books.

GA Russell
07-10-2010, 11:00 AM
Yes, it is hard to compete with free. But it is also hard for a serious author to make a living if the only thing ebookers read are free ebooks :).

I recently considered the problem of value in ebooks; that is, why we ebookers are reluctant to pay more than a dollar or two for an ebook yet we will buy more transient entertainments for a higher price and not blink an eye...

Richard, a couple of thoughts...

As you would expect, all nineteen authors of my read books are long dead. I imagine that all artists not involved with the trendy have a hard time competing with past masters. Ten years ago, I know that many jazz artists complained that nobody wanted to buy their CDs for $18.99 when they could get a Coltrane CD for $9.99.

Also, I've long wondered at why people will spend without blinking fairly large sums for a dinner at a chain restaurant or a night at the movies, yet wouldn't consider spending less money for what I consider better values like CDs and books. I have come to the conclusion that they are different markets. The people who spend the money for the meals aren't the same folks as the ones who buy what I consider to be the better values.

BenLee
07-10-2010, 11:46 AM
Richard, a couple of thoughts...

As you would expect, all nineteen authors of my read books are long dead. I imagine that all artists not involved with the trendy have a hard time competing with past masters. Ten years ago, I know that many jazz artists complained that nobody wanted to buy their CDs for $18.99 when they could get a Coltrane CD for $9.99.

Also, I've long wondered at why people will spend without blinking fairly large sums for a dinner at a chain restaurant or a night at the movies, yet wouldn't consider spending less money for what I consider better values like CDs and books. I have come to the conclusion that they are different markets. The people who spend the money for the meals aren't the same folks as the ones who buy what I consider to be the better values.

More engaging visceral experiences like movies and tasting delicious meals will usually have a higher perceived value than a static piece of text in digital format. It seems more worth it. Although I would argue that reading one book that can change your life is the better value, even if the chances of that happening are 1/100.

brecklundin
07-11-2010, 12:47 AM
ebooks have a big advantage...they are hypoallergenic? :D ...kinda like the genetically modified hypoallergenic calico cats referenced on an episode of "Big Bang Theory"...which also makes a number of Kindle references over the years of the show.

On a serious side, over the years I have actually developed a more pronounced intolerance to the musty/molds or whatever allergens might encamp within our loved books over the years, especially poorly cared for used books and used books have always been my preference.

nashira
07-11-2010, 09:50 AM
I was rearranging mums bookshelves in a slightly manic moment when I hadn't slept for over twenty hours last week (I did that in my room a few weeks before, actually, and nearly tossed the books out the window. Bad bibliophile), and the damn things nearly sent me into a coughing fit. XD

I like smelling leather. Good, well cared for leather. Old paper? Noooot so much.

jblitereader
07-13-2010, 01:00 AM
<edit>

afa
07-13-2010, 01:54 AM
I don't care much about the smell, but some covers certainly hold a certain appeal for me.

While most book covers are fairly generic, a good cover really adds to the experience, I feel. One example I can think of is fantasy author Joe Abercrombie.

Now, he's a terrific author, and his books are worth a read regardless of medium. But I really, really love the textured, parchmenty cover of his UK published editions. The look great, they feel great. Very unique. Even if paper books were to die out, we would certainly adjust to ebooks and get used to the idea that everything is now digital. We can live without printed books.

But I would miss them.

jblitereader
07-13-2010, 10:51 AM
<edit>

JSWolf
07-25-2010, 08:16 AM
Are we sure new books smell doesn't cause some sort of terminal disease? Until the study has been done, we should stay away from smelling new books.

tponzo
08-01-2010, 06:35 PM
Yes, it is hard to compete with free. But it is also hard for a serious author to make a living if the only thing ebookers read are free ebooks :).

I recently considered the problem of value in ebooks; that is, why we ebookers are reluctant to pay more than a dollar or two for an ebook yet we will buy more transient entertainments for a higher price and not blink an eye. I think it is a sensory matter, and I wrote about it in Valuing eBooks: Is it a Sensory Problem? (http://americaneditor.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/valuing-ebooks-is-it-a-sensory-problem/) on my An American Editor blog.

I know a lot of people discard the idea (and even more tell me I must be an idiot if I think that there could be any reason other than, say, the fact that there are no printing costs involved or that there is DRM as to why ebooks should be cheap, cheap, cheap), but I wonder if we grew up with certain unconscious expectations as regards books that we are unwittingly transfering to ebooks.


One of the things I expected/hoped for when I got my e reader was that books would cost less. I truly don't begrudge authors or publishers the right to make money, but the cost of producing e-books is less than the cost of producing tree books, so charging the same or similar price for both feels like price gouging to me.

Lemurion
08-01-2010, 07:44 PM
I think we all hoped books would cost less: I know I did. When I saw Amazon's $9.99 price I thought it was too much; but that's because I was comparing ebooks to paperbacks and I wouldn't pay $9.99 for a $7.99 paperback.

I think $4-6 is a reasonable range for the ebook of a paperback. I'm not quite so sure about the ebooks of hardcovers. I've paid $15 for a Baen eArc without complaint, so that's my upper end, but I don't know what would be reasonable as a rule.

As for $1-2 for the ebook of a commercially published novel - that's just as unreasonable as $20 for the ebook of a $7.99 paperback.

J. Strnad
08-01-2010, 10:49 PM
I certainly hoped that ebooks would be cheaper. Of course there are cheaper ebooks (like mine) but they aren't the bestsellers from big publishing houses.

As the price of ereaders goes down, I think we'll see more downward pressure on the price of ebooks simply because ereading won't be a pasttime limited to those who could afford a $250-400 device.

I have a love/hate relationship with the evolution of our media. I loved the square-foot album covers from vinyl albums and laser discs and hated to see them shrink when CDs and DVDs arrived. I love book covers, too, and fondly remember the Frank Frazetta and James Bama covers that got me into Conan and Doc Savage. Now book covers have to work at postage stamp size!

Lady Fitzgerald
08-02-2010, 07:56 AM
It took me a while to change over to ebooks but they're pretty much all I buy nowadays.

The main exception is where the book itself is artwork; my most recent ones are the illustrated versions of "Wee Free Men" and "The Last Hero" by Pratchett.

The thing I miss most about pbooks is easy, convenient bookmarks. Bookmarking ebooks tends to be clumsy and you usually can't transfer them from one reader to another.

Curious. I've found book marking e-books to be much easier, especially with multiple book marks. Much better than a wad of post-it-note bookmarks (which I never have handy) sprouting out like a fungus on steroids or dog earring pages. The reader even catalogues and links the bookmarks for me so I don't have to "flip" to each one to see what it starts with.

Lady Fitzgerald
08-02-2010, 08:02 AM
I have yet to use my ebook reader to kill a spider or cockroach, though I suspect that will be remedied in the future when more screens will have plastic backplanes...if I bother to buy one.

:rofl: Oh, that brought delightful visions to mind, such as using a reader to level a short table leg, boosting a child in its seat at the table, pressing flowers, laying on the coffee table as a decorative touch, a wall full of e-book readers in leather cases...

Lady Fitzgerald
08-02-2010, 08:15 AM
...I do own a good number of books, but keep only those I wanna reread. I prefer to unpack them myself. (Movers will unpack, but your books end up in disarray.) Over repeated moves, I learned to take photos of my bookshelves beforehand. When my books arrive on the other end, I reassemble them like a jigsaw puzzle...

That points to a major benefit of having e-books over p-books: easy organization. P-book organization, at best, can be organized by either title or by author although they can also be grouped by genre. Then, when adding new books, one frequently has to shuffle books side to side and shelf to shelf to make room for the newcomers. E-books do not suffer from those restrictions. They are also a lot easier to schlep up four flights of stairs, etc.

Lady Fitzgerald
08-02-2010, 08:20 AM
Sorry, I should have corrected myself. I meant I wish doing a half-assed job were convenient and cheap. I'm familiar with printing and with binding, but I have yet to see a convenient, cheap homemade job that isn't rubbish.

I've bound magazines in the past that looked professional enough, I had people asking me where I had them done. It's not difficult or expensive; just tedious as heck and one must have an eye for detail.

bjones6416
08-02-2010, 09:03 AM
:rofl: Oh, that brought delightful visions to mind, such as using a reader to level a short table leg, boosting a child in its seat at the table, pressing flowers, laying on the coffee table as a decorative touch, a wall full of e-book readers in leather cases...

Do you remember the days when visiting children were always boosted up to the table on telephone books? :-)

Lady Fitzgerald
08-02-2010, 09:17 AM
Do you remember the days when visiting children were always boosted up to the table on telephone books? :-)

I've been trying to get the phone company to STOP delivering their blasted phonebooks to me for years. I don't have room for them and they are out of date the day I receive them. It's easier, more accurate, and faster to find phone numbers online.

AGB
08-05-2010, 09:34 PM
Someone noted he (she?) liked the smell of books, the feel etc., and was also of the fountain pen persuasion, so to speak.

Well, I have never been a collector, and I honestly think that the "smell and feel" argument is nonsensical. I think it's a question of being a collector or not.

Years before I developed a hypersensitivity to many (extremely many) manmade materials, including printing ink and so on, I didn't like books. I never did; Dust collectors and annoyingly "in your face", just like LP's and later on cd's (or video films for that matter).

So, what I did back then was to hide everything behind doors. There's no need to be looking at it. It's nothing more (or less) than contents for me.
When I moved into audio production in 1998-99, I was propably one of the last persons in this country to learn how to edit on reel-to-reel machines, and although I enjoyed the physical aspects of it (having a physical piece of tape with a sentence on it hanging there waiting to to be inserted was something special. Six months later I was editing on computers, using digital all the way through the production chain.

Why? Well, it was easier, quicker and there was no big machines, no storage room full of useless reels and it was just the thing for someone like me.

I have worked on and off in the news paper and magazine industry (as a journalist, that is), and although I take notes by hand, even when talking on the phone, I don't keep the notebooks. I have a "system" when I work as a journo: Two small drawers, and every time one is full, it get shifted and the last one is tossed out. If it were up to me, I'd toss them out much sooner, but it's good to have one's notes as documentation.

I digress, I'm sorry, but my point is, that even though I'm a minimalist, like to have everything hidden away, and so on, I do like "old fashioned" stuff, the look, feel and smell of it - and my hypersensitivty to plastics, ink etc. have merely made it a tad more pronounced.

I use fountain pens (classic Lamy 2000's - another minimalist pen), my notepad (paper-thingy) is covered in leather, my travel bags are old fashioned and so on. My furniture is all Scandinavian minimalist design, mostly made from oak and ash, and there's wool on the couch and so on.

I do get the hankering for "feel" and "smell", I just think it's a collector's thing when it comes to books. I bet you that most of the people that use it as an argument for physical books", likes to display them in their home, and prefer to own the books rather than borrow them.

Btw, I'm hoping I'm allowed to attach a picture or two of my dream home. It's the "Ushimado Atelier" by some Japanese architect. The facade is made from burnt cedar which is then oiled, hence the black-brown colour. It has texture, it has everything, and it's about as empty as I'd like it (I'd need some speakers in there, though): Nothing to distract you while you work.

Sorry about the length of this. But it got me thinking. :bookworm:

montsnmags
08-05-2010, 10:59 PM
AGB, that home is quite lovely. It is not for me (I have come from a home that had some small amount of modernist minimalism about it...beautiful, and I lived there for longer than I've lived anywhere, but what gives me comfort has changed), but that is not to say I can't appreciate its beauty.

But I am being off-topic. Sorry. So what I have done is created a thread in The Lounge forum called "Home Architecture":

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1044504

If this is your interest, I'd love for you to contribute there (rather than hijack here :) ).

Cheers,
Marc

JSWolf
08-15-2010, 02:38 PM
That points to a major benefit of having e-books over p-books: easy organization. P-book organization, at best, can be organized by either title or by author although they can also be grouped by genre. Then, when adding new books, one frequently has to shuffle books side to side and shelf to shelf to make room for the newcomers. E-books do not suffer from those restrictions. They are also a lot easier to schlep up four flights of stairs, etc.

That depends how heavy the computer is to have to carry up 4 flights. :rofl:

Lady Fitzgerald
08-15-2010, 05:21 PM
Even a 50 lb. monster is easier to schlep than 40 or 50 45-50 lb. boxes of books.

Ea
08-15-2010, 05:22 PM
Even a 50 lb. monster is easier to schlep than 40 or 50 45-50 lb. boxes of books.
:thumbsup:

JeremyZ
08-16-2010, 11:16 PM
Well, let's face it. Paper books are just a more sensory-rich experience. The feel, the sound, the smell. Some of us just like getting into the whole thing, not just the content. I like eBooks as much as the next guy/gal, but let's at least give credit where credit is due. I have a 75 year-old copy of Tom Sawyer, and an eBook is just not the same experience to read. (for better and for worse)

Elfwreck
08-18-2010, 02:53 PM
Funny how comparisons to pbooks always involve older books, or special collector's editions; nobody talks about the joys of the pulp mmpb--the cracked spine, the curved-back cover that no longer closes flat, the brittle yellowing paper, the tiny text that runs so close to the center margin that you have to break the glue to read it, and then the pages start falling out...

I didn't get into ebooks to replace my letter-sized RPG manuals with the color artwork & detailed charts, nor to replace the hardcover Junior Classics collection I read as a child, nor to replace my signed first edition of The Fifth Sacred Thing. I got into ebooks to replace my dog-eared, torn-corner copies of Spider Robinson's Callahan's series, so I could re-read them at will without worrying about getting crumbs or coffee stains on the pages. To replace the second- and third-hand copies of cheap trashy romance novels I buy at yard sales for fifty cents. To replace the science fiction paperbacks that I used to put clear tape over the edges of the covers so they'd survive multiple readings. To get the classics--Alice in Wonderland, works of Shakespeare, Kipling--in a format my kids could read, highlight, and print out the sections with the poems they like to put in their rooms.

I started reading ebooks to replace throwaway paper editions, not collectibles. To replace the kind of paperbacks that, when my husband was living on the road, he tore out pages of after he'd read them so he wouldn't have to carry as much.

Lemurion
08-18-2010, 03:02 PM
Elfwreck's got it exactly, at least from my perspective.

I still buy my hundred dollar Absolute Editions and other collectible volumes, if anything I buy more of them now. Ebooks replace paperbacks - they're perfect for disposable reading.

That's one reason why I'm not so concerned about the $12-15 price point for ebooks of current hardcovers - they aren't the books I'm looking for. I want my $5-6 ebooks of current paperbacks, because those are the books competing for my ebook dollars.

montsnmags
08-18-2010, 07:25 PM
Funny how comparisons to pbooks always involve older books, or special collector's editions; nobody talks about the joys of the pulp mmpb--the cracked spine, the curved-back cover that no longer closes flat, the brittle yellowing paper, the tiny text that runs so close to the center margin that you have to break the glue to read it, and then the pages start falling out...
...

This doesn't at all diminish your point (I'm not conflating my single data point personal preferences into a larger set :) ), but I've actually been buying some of those books from evilBay. I recently bought an Escoffier...not a nice, old copy, but a grungy, yellowing paperback with corner-folds and creased cover. I've actually bought photography monographs that are yellowed and worn, rather than as pristine as possible. I am attracted to the title first, of course, but then to the signs of the "life" the book has led. Secondhand bookstores - with their aisles of stained and creased and (often repeatedly) discarded airport-quality paperbacks, or their very old, falling-apart, near-worthless-through-damage "classic" literature series - are my sacred places. :)

(Note, I am an introvert with little social circle IRL, and, tacitly or otherwise, imbue many found objects with an emotional history or character, for my own sentimental or amused pleasure. I'm okay with that. :) )

Cheers,
Marc

RDaneel54
08-20-2010, 10:08 AM
I have one book that I do care about its smell.

It's a hard back, coffee table book on coin collecting. Not in print anymore and a great read with wonderful pictures. But it has this musty smell. I've owned it for 15 years, bought it new, with the smell. It's the smell that will not die. Fortunately, the smell is contained in the book and only comes out when I open it. I think it's haunted!

This is the book I think of when people talk about the smell of books.

Ea
08-20-2010, 10:38 AM
...

This is the book I think of when people talk about the smell of books.
:rofl:

Jellby
08-20-2010, 11:12 AM
I have a comic book with a really disgusting smell. I remember reading it as a child, and my memories of it are all full of this smell. In my mind, I call it "that book that smells so bad"

montsnmags
08-21-2010, 12:45 AM
I have a comic book with a really disgusting smell. I remember reading it as a child, and my memories of it are all full of this smell. In my mind, I call it "that book that smells so bad"

Is it sort-of a vomit-y, cheesey smell? I remember that, for some reason, the science text books in the High Schools I went to always seemed to smell like that.

Cheers,
Marc

Ea
08-21-2010, 04:58 AM
Is it sort-of a vomit-y, cheesey smell? I remember that, for some reason, the science text books in the High Schools I went to always seemed to smell like that.
Now that you mention it, Marc... Those ages-old school books could be really smelly. And not in a good way :wreck: Ew!

montsnmags
08-25-2010, 03:35 AM
Now that you mention it, Marc... Those ages-old school books could be really smelly. And not in a good way :wreck: Ew!

Apparently bringing back those dim, dark memories via their aroma is a real conversation-killer, Ea. I think we killed the thread, and now it's starting to smell a bit itself. :)

FWIW, some of my cookbooks smell like Bolognese sauce or laksa. I didn't buy them that way. It could have something to do with people not wanting to clean up the kitchen after I've been cooking.

Cheers,
Marc (Not my new Larousse Gastronomique though...it's my preciousssss)

Ea
08-25-2010, 03:47 AM
Apparently bringing back those dim, dark memories via their aroma is a real conversation-killer, Ea. I think we killed the thread, and now it's starting to smell a bit itself. :)
:rofl:
FWIW, some of my cookbooks smell like Bolognese sauce or laksa. I didn't buy them that way. It could have something to do with people not wanting to clean up the kitchen after I've been cooking.

Cheers,
Marc (Not my new Larousse Gastronomique though...it's my preciousssss)
Until you spill that first drop of... ;)

montsnmags
08-25-2010, 05:20 AM
:rofl:

Until you spill that first drop of... ;)

Noooooooooooooooo.....!

nyrath
09-22-2010, 01:23 PM
Yet another perfume that allegedly smells like books:
http://presurfer.blogspot.com/2010/09/in-library.html
I have no idea if this is a hoax or not.

Lady Fitzgerald
09-22-2010, 05:11 PM
Yet another perfume that allegedly smells like books:
http://presurfer.blogspot.com/2010/09/in-library.html
I have no idea if this is a hoax or not.

Oh! I must immediately buy some and spray down my computer, TV, and JetBook Lite.

foreverjuly
09-22-2010, 05:28 PM
Yet another perfume that allegedly smells like books:
http://presurfer.blogspot.com/2010/09/in-library.html
I have no idea if this is a hoax or not.

There's lots of places that would be useful. I could spray down my mattress, my car, the bathroom at Wendy's. That way everyone would think I was reading in those places!

Ea
09-23-2010, 03:49 AM
Yet another perfume that allegedly smells like books:
http://presurfer.blogspot.com/2010/09/in-library.html
I have no idea if this is a hoax or not.
The source looks real enough that I saved a link (http://www.cbihateperfume.com/home.html). Fascinating. I don't care about how books smell, but perfumes fascinate me.

montsnmags
09-23-2010, 04:26 AM
The source looks real enough that I saved a link (http://www.cbihateperfume.com/home.html). Fascinating. I don't care about how books smell, but perfumes fascinate me.

Have you read Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins? To quote wikipedia, "The major themes of the book include the striving for immortality, the meaning behind the sense of smell, individual expression, self-reliance, sex, love, and religion. Beets and the god Pan figure prominently". His books are odd at times, particularly in premise, and for me are almost always very entertaining.

Cheers,
Marc

GreenMonkey
09-23-2010, 04:47 AM
Funny how comparisons to pbooks always involve older books, or special collector's editions; nobody talks about the joys of the pulp mmpb--the cracked spine, the curved-back cover that no longer closes flat, the brittle yellowing paper, the tiny text that runs so close to the center margin that you have to break the glue to read it, and then the pages start falling out...

I didn't get into ebooks to replace my letter-sized RPG manuals with the color artwork & detailed charts, nor to replace the hardcover Junior Classics collection I read as a child, nor to replace my signed first edition of The Fifth Sacred Thing. I got into ebooks to replace my dog-eared, torn-corner copies of Spider Robinson's Callahan's series, so I could re-read them at will without worrying about getting crumbs or coffee stains on the pages. To replace the second- and third-hand copies of cheap trashy romance novels I buy at yard sales for fifty cents. To replace the science fiction paperbacks that I used to put clear tape over the edges of the covers so they'd survive multiple readings. To get the classics--Alice in Wonderland, works of Shakespeare, Kipling--in a format my kids could read, highlight, and print out the sections with the poems they like to put in their rooms.

I started reading ebooks to replace throwaway paper editions, not collectibles. To replace the kind of paperbacks that, when my husband was living on the road, he tore out pages of after he'd read them so he wouldn't have to carry as much.

I'm on board with Elfwreck. Although I would love a pdf reader that could handle Pathfinder RPG books...my TX2 convertible tablet works. but it runs hot, and the battery life isn't so great at about 3 hours.

I still buy hardcover books of my favorites. Basically, I'd love to convert well-liked paperbacks over to ebooks - books I like a lot but not so much to own a nice hardcover of.

I also wouldn't mind a $1-$2 e-book rental of some sort. So far I can't replace 1-time reads with $8 ebooks. I'm doing ebay instead for those. At least I can give it away or trade it in to my local used book store if I don't like it.

Generally I can find a used 1st edition hardcover shipped to my door for less than the ebook price. It's kind of absurd.

Lady Fitzgerald
09-23-2010, 08:17 AM
I'm on board with Elfwreck. Although I would love a pdf reader that could handle Pathfinder RPG books...my TX2 convertible tablet works. but it runs hot, and the battery life isn't so great at about 3 hours.

I still buy hardcover books of my favorites. Basically, I'd love to convert well-liked paperbacks over to ebooks - books I like a lot but not so much to own a nice hardcover of.

I also wouldn't mind a $1-$2 e-book rental of some sort. So far I can't replace 1-time reads with $8 ebooks. I'm doing ebay instead for those. At least I can give it away or trade it in to my local used book store if I don't like it.

Generally I can find a used 1st edition hardcover shipped to my door for less than the ebook price. It's kind of absurd.

It's beyond absurd. And, until ebooks are available DRM free at a reasonable price (same profit margin as p-books), I'll keep buying, chopping, and scanning p-books.