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Old 01-03-2008, 10:58 PM   #1
Egghead
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E-Books vs. Dead-Tree Books: An Alternate Dialogue

I'm not sure if this has been posted before, but if it hasn't, I suspect this forum would be interested in reading a discussion between Bud Webster and Jerry Pournelle on the topic of ebooks.

The article, entitled "E-Books vs. Dead-Tree Books: An Alternate Dialogue" can be found here: http://www.sfwa.org/bulletin/article..._Fall_2007.pdf
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:04 AM   #2
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I am thinking of going on the link and try it as i usually get the ebooks help for my studies and i do think that it is going to be interesting to read the stuff.
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:29 AM   #3
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I'd love to read the article but it's a three-column, letter-sized PDF which I can't read on my ebook reader until Sony fixes that problem for me.
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Old 01-07-2008, 10:05 AM   #4
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Old 01-07-2008, 11:27 AM   #5
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Old 01-07-2008, 12:19 PM   #6
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Very interesting article. Nice analysis of the economics of ebooks vs. pbooks. Bud Webster is a bit of a foil in the discussion, taking positions about pbooks that I think a vast minority here would hold, but there's an especially interesting discussion of piracy, including vinyl LP piracy of out-of-print music after WWII.

I happen to agree with Pournelle that ebooks won't really become popular until nearly everyone has a multifunction device that works reasonably well as an ebook reader. (I'm not saying content isn't also necessary-- they are both necessary but not sufficient in isolation.) Even Pournelle doesn't think the iPhone is quite the right device, but I think he's right that some kind of phone is likely to be one of the candidates, simply because so many people have been shown willing to carry one.

There is also a good discussion about the problem of e-babel. No surprises there, though Pournelle thinks if one technology dominates the "pocket device" market, that will probably settle the format wars as well. He could be right, but I'm still hoping for something less proprietary.
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Old 01-15-2008, 02:21 AM   #7
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I happen to agree with Pournelle that ebooks won't really become popular until nearly everyone has a multifunction device that works reasonably well as an ebook reader.
Perhaps "nearly everybody" is stretching the truth a little, but certainly a "significant minority" of people have a mobile phone or PDA that can run MobiPocket Reader. Whether or not reading on a phone screen is a satisfactory experience is more open to question, but nonetheless I think many people would be surprised to learn that they already own a device which can be used as a bookreader.
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Old 01-15-2008, 03:05 AM   #8
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Perhaps "nearly everybody" is stretching the truth a little, but certainly a "significant minority" of people have a mobile phone or PDA that can run MobiPocket Reader. Whether or not reading on a phone screen is a satisfactory experience is more open to question, but nonetheless I think many people would be surprised to learn that they already own a device which can be used as a bookreader.
Well, certainly the majority running Symbian based phones can (and Symbian is 75% of the phone market).

I'd call the keyword "multi-function". I'm not interested in a dedicated reader because I need a device that does other things as well. (I also need something eInk currently lacks -- color.) So I use a PDA. The screen size could be larger, but I can read ebooks, play video and music, view pictures, handle my calendar and address book, do word processing and spreadsheets, view PDFs, have a pocket reference library, and oh, yes, play games.

There's a limit to how far I'll take convergence: my cell phone is and will remain a separate device, But other than that, one size more or less fits all.
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Old 01-19-2008, 08:06 PM   #9
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I'd call the keyword "multi-function". I'm not interested in a dedicated reader because I need a device that does other things as well.
I am easily distracted so I cannot read books on devices that can do other things like reading emails. So I saw it as a great advantage that the reader I bought only could do one thing. When I am reading a book I am reading a book and not doing other things.
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Old 01-20-2008, 04:23 AM   #10
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The problem with multi-function devices is that there are contradictory requirements. I want a book-reader that's pretty much the size of a paper-back book, because a large screen is comfortable to read on. I don't want a mobile phone that's the size of a paper-back book .

I've combined most of my device requirements into my "HTC Touch" Windows Mobile Pocket PC/Mobile phone. This is about the size of a pack of playing cards and is, for me, pretty much the ideal size for a PDA/phone. That's what I use as a phone, for my diary, address book, notebook, and a million other things. It will work as a bookreader (I have MobiPocket Reader installed on it) but, as I said above, I want to read on a larger screen.

The perfect device for me would be something the size of the HTC Touch, but with a "roll-out" screen for reading on. Perhaps that will arrive in a couple of years.
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Old 01-20-2008, 06:31 AM   #11
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The problem with multi-function devices is that there are contradictory requirements. I want a book-reader that's pretty much the size of a paper-back book, because a large screen is comfortable to read on. I don't want a mobile phone that's the size of a paper-back book .
I suppose the answer to that is that it won't be long before there are are mobile phone/PDAs with fold-out e-paper screens for when you want to read; they're almost here already. The mobile phone with inbuilt movie projector is just around the corner too.

The only problem with the multifunction device that you use for reading, watching movies, communicating via phone/email/im, keeping contacts and appointments, researching, writing, taking photos, and recording your band's latest album -- is that your whole life grinds to a halt when the dog swallows it!
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Old 01-21-2008, 08:57 AM   #12
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That's what automated backups are for! Then you just have to pay up for a new device and sync, and you're back on track.
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Old 01-21-2008, 09:48 AM   #13
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And possibly vet's bills!
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Old 01-21-2008, 09:53 AM   #14
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I bet that makes you "poop and scoop"!
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Old 01-22-2008, 10:20 AM   #15
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And possibly vet's bills!
Oh, well, yes.

A friend of mine is a veterinarian and met his wife through his practice -- she brought in a cat who swallowed a toy (a cat toy, I believe, not a human toy like a PDA). So there could be some unexpected benefits to the "Dog ate my eBook Reader" scenario, at least for the unattached.
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