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Old 07-21-2013, 07:08 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Trend Watch: Paper books back in vogue

Hot on the heels of yesterday's proposal to keep bookstores alive, the Sunday Times is proclaiming that book fans are reverting to the traditional way of reading, at least in the UK. The article names various well-known authors, thinkers and journalists - among them Roger Scruton, Alain de Botton, Philip Stone (The Bookseller), Rosie Boycott (journalist), John Simpson (broadcaster), Jilly Cooper (novelist), and Richard Curtis (screenwriter) - as examples of critics who've been experiencing a growing antipathy towards e-books. Some of their reasons:
  • "irritation about "ugly adverts" to matters of art and aesthetics"
  • "whatever I read on my Kindle I couldn't really remember in the long term. It was as if I had never read it"
  • "The prospect of the bookshelf of the future -- just containing a slim tablet -- is truly depressing"
  • "I can't stand the sloppy, ugly, ignorant way ebooks are often presented"
  • "I'd much rather have the feel and look of pages with nice type to enjoy"
  • "I like to scribble all over [books]"

The articles cites the results of a poll that appears to support this negative sentiment. Adults asked what they'd take with them on holiday, 17% said e-reader, 32% said paper books, 26% don't know, 9% take both, and 16% take neither. Asked which one they'd prefer, 17% said e-reader and 65% said paper books. 32% of those who were polled owned an e-reader.

Full article: Kindle on the eshelf: book fans go back to paper (subscription required).

[image via Flickr]
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Old 07-21-2013, 07:13 AM   #2
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What the poll doesn't tell us is what percentage of those who own an ereader prefer ebooks.
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Old 07-21-2013, 07:14 AM   #3
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What the poll doesn't tell us is what percentage of those who own an ereader prefer ebooks.
That's very true.
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Old 07-21-2013, 07:45 AM   #4
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After two years of front-page ads at Amazon each day, I don't think we'll see more growth with ebooks. Ebooks are a cheap and easy solution to look into text files from your local library without the need to carry a lot of stuff. Nice, but nothing special in 2013.

The biggest disadvantage of ebooks and digital reading deveices for me is the potential loss of privacy.

When you buy a paper book you're actually buying the freedom to do whatever you like with that book. As long nothing unforseen happens you also have the ability to read this book as long as you live. This concept does not work with digital text files, no matter if they use DRM or not.

The advantage of ebooks is that you can look into new and unknown text files quite fast. I've found a lot of books I've always wanted to look into here on MobileRead.

Both is needed, print books and digital publications. And I think we'll see both combined for at least the next years.
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Old 07-21-2013, 08:00 AM   #5
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When you buy a paper book you're actually buying the freedom to do whatever you like with that book.
No you aren't; you're buying a rather restricted set of rights. You cannot, for example, hold a public reading of the book at which you charge for admission, or make a copy of the book and give that copy to a friend.

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As long nothing unforseen happens you also have the ability to read this book as long as you live. This concept does not work with digital text files, no matter if they use DRM or not.
Sure you can, if you have the ability to convert it to whatever format is in vogue at the present time. All current ebook formats are HTML-based, so conversion is pretty easy. eBooks have distinct benefits in terms of longevity; digital data doesn't degrade with time, whereas your 20-year-old paperback is likely to be falling to pieces after a few reads.

Last edited by HarryT; 07-21-2013 at 08:08 AM.
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Old 07-21-2013, 08:50 AM   #6
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What??? No "I love the smell of paper books"???

Each to his/her own. I'll not be returning to paper books any time soon.
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Old 07-21-2013, 08:57 AM   #7
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I've become an e-reader, all the way. However, I'm an author and I realize that readers come with different preferences, so I think both e-books and paperback are equally important.
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Old 07-21-2013, 08:59 AM   #8
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What??? No "I love the smell of paper books"???
There are workarounds for that problem. Eg, see here.
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Old 07-21-2013, 09:20 AM   #9
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Some of these comments should be useful to the industry to respond to draw more people into ebooks.

1. Don't make ads the default option on kindles.
2. Improve formatting on ebooks and no more typos!
3. Continue to increase resolution and provide us with more and more lovely fonts.

The rest of the comments are just silly. You can add notes to ebooks, and that has been a feature on kindles forever. While I appreciate a cool bookshelf, books and other media can quickly turn into clutter eating away a substantial amount of your living space. Furniture, plants or flat out nothing would be a better alternative.

I like both paper and ebooks. I think that ebooks will not replace paper books, but won't die out either. They will co-exist with each other just as blu-ray and dvd has, or laserdisc and vhs.
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Old 07-21-2013, 09:29 AM   #10
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EBooks have already replaced paper books for me in terms of fiction. Where they can't currently compete is in the area of reference works and photo/art-type books.

For fiction, ebooks have many benefits over paper, such as being searchable (very useful in a long books where you want to refresh your memory about where a particular character last appeared in the story), and being able to store an effectively limitless number of books on an pocket-size external drive.
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Old 07-21-2013, 10:30 AM   #11
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For books I love, I want a hardcover copy. Ebooks are fine for convenience and ease of use; they're fine to replace paperbacks. But if it's a book that's important to me, I want it sitting on the bookshelf.

I used to buy books in paperback and then replace the ones I cared about with hardcovers. Now I buy ebooks, and add the hardcovers.
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Old 07-21-2013, 10:49 AM   #12
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That's pretty much the way I do it too, Catlady. For certain very few authors, I'll buy in hardback for my collection, and then buy in eformat for actual reading. Some even fewer books, I'll also buy in audio.
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Old 07-21-2013, 11:05 AM   #13
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Sure you can, if you have the ability to convert it to whatever format is in vogue at the present time.
DRM removal is illegal and beyond the knowledge of most readers. Conversion is also beyond most users, never-mind side-loading, etc.
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Old 07-21-2013, 11:11 AM   #14
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DRM removal is illegal and beyond the knowledge of most readers. Conversion is also beyond most users, never-mind side-loading, etc.
Whether or not it's illegal depends where you live.
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Old 07-21-2013, 11:17 AM   #15
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For some types of elaborate reference works, the standard physical book format is still the one I prefer. However, for general works--fiction and non-fiction-- I make much more use of the electronic format and find it much more convenient to use.

I would accept that it is certainly true that the pbook will not disappear. But neither will the ebook--it's here to stay.
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