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Old 09-11-2007, 08:26 PM   #31
nekokami
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Today in a foreign language teaching methods class we were discussing used textbooks. Apparently the textbook set used at our university for first-year Spanish costs US$120 new-- but even though it's only about US$40 used, it's still not a very good deal, because the new version comes with a login to an online course support area, and you don't get that with the used version. You have to buy it separately for US$60. Ugh!

Much as I love the idea of electronic versions of textbooks, if the prices don't come down from the paper versions, it's a non-starter, because no used copies would be legally available and one couldn't resell textbooks after the end of a semester. (I don't usually sell my books, but I do appreciate being able to buy them used!)
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Old 09-11-2007, 08:31 PM   #32
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Much as I love the idea of electronic versions of textbooks, if the prices don't come down from the paper versions, it's a non-starter, because no used copies would be legally available and one couldn't resell textbooks after the end of a semester.
Yes, well, the textbook biz is a whole other castle that is badly in need of storming.
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Old 09-11-2007, 09:46 PM   #33
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I just wanted to jump in here. Everyone speaks of the decline of reading. I don't agree. I think it's content that has changed. My 17 year old son, and his many friends, aren't really reading a lot of books. But watching him and his friends, I notice they are reading a lot of blogs and forums.

They are always looking up game info, stats, wikipedia, movie news, etc. They also IM constantly. I know everything there is to know about Halo 3 (video game) because he is always reading and quoting to me.

So reading novels has declined, but time spent reading in general seems to be the same or even more. I see this in his friends too. They tend to read a lot of content if the content is something they have an interest in.

Book reading though isn't what they enjoy. I would even venture to guess that they read more than the generation before. Before video games, everyone had activities outside (a good thing!). Now teenagers spend much more time at the computer "reading" stuff than being outside.

Good thing? Bad thing? I'm not sure. I mean, sure I read a lot when I was younger, but it was all sci-fi and pulp stuff. So it wasn't what most would call quality reading--but I loved it. Same with my son reading Halo stuff. They read as much or even more, just not the same stuff in the same way.
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Old 09-11-2007, 11:42 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nekokami View Post
Much as I love the idea of electronic versions of textbooks, if the prices don't come down from the paper versions, it's a non-starter, because no used copies would be legally available and one couldn't resell textbooks after the end of a semester. (I don't usually sell my books, but I do appreciate being able to buy them used!)
I agree, textbook prices should come down. Perhaps reasoning with the publishers that, since their books would be bought new by each student and not subject to being re-sold in the used book market (where publishers don't profit from used book sales), they would actually make more profit going to e-books, even with lower prices.

Or, we could just storm the castle...
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Old 09-12-2007, 03:06 AM   #35
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Is there some reason, practically speaking, why ebooks can't be resold? It sounds to me like the only reason we can't do it right now is because the DRM says we can't.
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Old 09-12-2007, 03:15 AM   #36
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Is there some reason, practically speaking, why ebooks can't be resold? It sounds to me like the only reason we can't do it right now is because the DRM says we can't.
The "terms and conditions" on most (all?) eBook sellers' websites state that they cannot be resold or transferred. These are the conditions that you are agreeing to when you buy the eBook.
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Old 09-12-2007, 07:53 AM   #37
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True, but practically, there's probably nothing to stop you from reselling it. Unless the publishers figure out a way to prevent a purchased text (or some value-added thing included with it) from being copied and duplicated. They might want to tie the text to some physical object, like a registration card or something, to prevent mass duplication and the same result that they have now (one sale, multiple uses).
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Old 09-12-2007, 07:57 AM   #38
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This is thinking a lot further down the line, but maybe the reality of e-books will put people in a different frame of mind about their books, desiring to collect their own digital library, for future reference, as opposed to selling or discarding their books. This mindset will lessen the issue of trading books, and if evidence of book duplication could ultimately be traced back to its source and have legal or financial ramifications, there would be less duplication.
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Old 09-12-2007, 08:38 AM   #39
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True, but practically, there's probably nothing to stop you from reselling it. Unless the publishers figure out a way to prevent a purchased text (or some value-added thing included with it) from being copied and duplicated.
I think it's called "DRM", Steve .
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Old 09-12-2007, 08:48 AM   #40
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I think Steve's talking about "social DRM," which is different.
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Old 09-12-2007, 09:23 AM   #41
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The "terms and conditions" on most (all?) eBook sellers' websites state that they cannot be resold or transferred. These are the conditions that you are agreeing to when you buy the eBook.
That is not a serious problem. A number of ebook websites have no conditions whatsoever.

Baen - No conditions
Books on Board - No conditions
Ereader - No conditions
Mobipocket - You can't sell them, but can give them away.

Last edited by Nate the great; 09-12-2007 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 09-17-2007, 06:51 PM   #42
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Introduction to e-books
I am a 20 year old computing student and I would like to give my views on electronic reading. I first read about electronic books in 1999, in issue 55 of the UK's .net Internet magazine ("Pulped Fiction", some of which is here). However, I barely thought about e-books until relatively recently, when Jason Bradbury, a presenter on the British TV programme The Gadget Show, mentioned briefly while reporting from Japan about the Sony Librie, which had a screen which looked like paper.

Before that I tried out using a PDA for reading, which came with a collection of public domain books, but the resolution of the text was low, page movement would sometimes move by too many pages, and PDFs were unusable. I have hardly used the device since.

I found out about the possibility of importing the Librie and converting the interface to English, but since I don't know any Japanese I dismissed this idea.
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I'll be happy to see the eBook industry go mass market... and not only if they shop at my eBookstore. It'll just be cool to say, "I helped start something. I cut myself on the bleeding edge of technology and it was for a worthy cause."
This reminds me of my Creative D.A.P. Jukebox MP3 player. It came with music and audio books pre-loaded. Now its DRM system (which I never used) is incompatible with the dominant iTunes's FairPlay (not that I like the iTunes interface), so the device is now practically obsolete. If not for CDs, there would be little content available legally, and that's if you consider copying from a CD as legal.

Takeup of books as a medium by the youth sector
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Is age profile another factor in the slooow rise of the ebook reader? The MP3 players are targeted at a youth market. Music is cool in a way books aren't.
I agree that books aren't cool to most of the youth market. They aren't important to me. What's important is content, not the medium in which it is delivered.

I will read a book or newspaper article if it is interesting, or if there is no alternative. When I was at secondary school (from 11-18 years in my case) I sometimes used to read books in captive "free" time in registration simply because there was nothing else to read. However, now there is much interesting content widely available on the Internet. Why should I care about books, when they have additional barriers of cost and take longer to obtain?

For me electronic readers are just as much about the dissemination of content from blogs, magazines and newspapers as they are about books.

Dissemination of reading material
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We're sounding a little patronizing about the young folk here! I think they'll find more uses for ebook readers than looking at beekcake shots and reading gossip.
I agree. I have no interest in "gossip" about celebrities, and don't read it. However, I do read newspapers when they contain something which is interesting, such as weekend editions. The problem is, 90% of what you'll find in most newspapers isn't interesting. For example, I have no interest in the stock market.

What I want is an improvement over the options for content which I have at the moment. I want content sold by topic, or by writer. Content which is interesting and relevant to me. For example, I used to find articles in .net magazine by the freelance technology writer Mary Lojkine interesting and well written. However, she stopped writing for the magazine and left for China. Should I have to buy several publications which I wouldn't otherwise read for one column? This is the kind of valuable content which the publishing industry should be selling electronically.

I would like to be able to "subscribe" to any articles related to technology in newspapers, which I often find interesting. I also want the portability of being able to read a broadsheet or weekend newspaper in a small device during my commute on public transport.

Additional features offered by electronic readers
  1. I want to be able to mark interesting articles to keep on synchronisation, while deleting old articles, replacing them with new content every day. Being able to analyse which articles I mark to keep and download more like them, whether from print or blog publishing, would enhance this further.
  2. I would also like to be able to copy quotes, as I can with newspapers and a scanner or pair of scissors. In the case of textbooks, references could be automatically generated.
  3. I want to be able to click on words for a definition rather than having to carry a dictionary with me, particularly for books and newspapers. If you notice any misused words in my writing, then think of how much of a difference this could make!

The electronic reader's place in reading long pieces of writing
I already read a lot on the Internet, whether it is in blogs, forums, or Usenet. However, I do not like reading for a long time tied to the screen. An electronic reader makes it more appealing to read very long pieces of writing, such as long blog posts and fan fiction which I wouldn't otherwise read, and puts electronic text on an equal footing with print. It does this because it is portable, and so offers additional comfort in reading anywhere, rather than at a desk, and also because the screen is high resolution and not backlit.

My reading of traditional paper-based publications
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For instance subscriptions to gig listings in one's area, reviews of films, books, etc. Blogs.

[Ebook readers have to be wifi enabled]
Not all young people are the same. I don't go to gigs, the young people of today listen to such awful loud music .

However, I do read reviews of films and books in newspapers, which I rarely read or see due to convenience and cost - Internet content is immediately available and free. So is piracy, of course, but from talking to my peers it seems that I am unusual in wanting to avoid it.

The electronic reader as a way of reading Internet content where an Internet connection is not available
Although wifi would perhaps make it easier to update readers with new content in the morning or while somewhere with an Internet connection, I want a reader because I don't have access to the Internet everywhere. During my commute, and while away from home I often have no Internet access. In most of these places GPRS or a satellite connection would be the only option, and such an expensive one that I cannot justify it. From talking to fellow students at university in my first year, many did not have access to the Internet in student accommodation.

Blog content availability
There is a similar situation with listening to radio from public transport. I have considered listening to radio programmes during my commute, but BBC Radio 4, which is the only real source of serious content on the radio, does not provide downloadable versions of most of its programmes. The answer to the question of how the BBC should make its radio reliably available to commuters isn't to publicise digital radio, it's to release its programmes as
podcasts. The answer to the question of how to allow blogs to be read on portable readers isn't to add wifi to the reading devices - there are a lot of places where wireless Internet access is impossible, or very expensive, and while I would love to have blanket coverage of free Internet access, it isn't going to happen soon.

The answer is to publish the full content of blogs (including associated comments, which I often find more interesting than the posts themselves in the case of the most widely read blogs) forums, news websites etc. in RSS feeds. I don't want to read snippets of blog posts on a reader, I want to
read the whole posts.

The use of RSS feeds for substantial amounts of text
Long articles should be read on an in e-ink screen, which is easy on the eyes and comfortable to use, unlike spending long periods chained to a desk, and the kind of content currently available through RSS - short paragraphs of text in the case of blog feeds, low resolution images in the case of photo feeds on flickr, etc - should be viewed on computer screens.

I have never seen the point of RSS feeds which provide only partial content and a link. The Active Desktop idea with Windows 98 didn't work, and neither will the current implementation of RSS, as far as I have experienced it, even with an always on Internet connection. I find it easier to click the buttons on my links toolbar periodically. The idea of an interface like that of a read only news server, which provides full content, seems a lot more useful - that way you don't have to view the irrelevant graphics, and unlike web based forums you have a record of which articles you've read. Any comments to blog posts could also be displayed in a similar hierarchy to that of NNTP/Usenet newsreaders.

The marketing of ebooks to the under 25s
Quote:
Originally Posted by melmurray View Post
Ebooks for the under 25s needs some creative and dynamic thinking about and marketing.
Young people will be easier to convince of the merits of new technology than older generations - look at the success of instant messaging.

Content is the king
I don't need electronic readers to be marketed to me - I want content. Content wasn't as important for selling mp3 players, but is essential for selling electronic readers. Not even Internet content is easily available, let alone published content.

For e-books to be successful there must be a selection as large as available in paper, and for less than paper editions cost. Everything on my reading list should be available. This should be the forte of the electronic book - all those out of print books should now be available. Electronically purchased books can't be sold or transferred to another device when the device which they were bought for becomes obsolete. This is will be acceptable to consumers only if the prices reflect this. If the publishers try to sell titles where consumers have with fewer rights but pay the same, they will fail.

Young people do not have the same emotional attachment to paper. They also do not have the same attachment to paying for content. Thus, if the publishers want the young to be a market, they will have to change their attitude to the value of their content.

Unfortunately, as with the availability of old albums on iTunes, the availability of e-books as far as I can tell is currently limited to best selling novels - exactly the kind of content which least needs to be available, being neither difficult to obtain nor rare. Now textbooks are another matter - weight, ability of annotation, availability and cheaper rental are all potential advantages of electronic reading over paper. Today's generation are used to downloading whatever they want without paying for it, including music, television, software, and even textbooks. Yes, textbooks. If the industry does not adapt, it will die, if not through piracy then through lack of interest in books.

Electronic reading by the youth and abandoning paper
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Lord love a duck, they're not that one dimensional. ... The thing is they just don't put as much weight on THE WORD as our generation did.
I don't know about the word - I read quite a lot electronically, certainly more than I listen to in podcasts. It is paper that is not interesting to most of my generation. The paperless office may not be practical now because of the older generations, who have grown up with paper, and couldn't be without it, but I'm sure that one day all text communication will be electronic. There are still some young people who spend their leisure time reading books, but I would guess that they are fewer than those of the previous generations of the young. The Internet has gone some way to replacing the book as a form of entertainment.

Electronic textbooks
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Originally Posted by europas_ice View Post
Although ebooks need to be more searchable and browsable before this will really work, feel very strongly that every kid should be given an ebook reader in first grade, and not have to carry any other books around with him though high school at least. I'm not sure it will save expense, as textbook publishers, even of etextbooks, will want to be paid, but it will sure reduce the bulk of "stuff" a student needs to carry around. Although I believe it is a utopic model, it clearly and unfortunately isn't going to happen any time soon.
I would very much like to be able to have electronic versions of my textbooks. Throughout my time at school I have carried a lot of weight in textbooks and exercise books. Now that I am at university, textbooks for the field of IT are thick, heavy and quickly become out of date, so the ability to rent them and carry them electronically would be a great advantage of electronic readers. If the university library could provide students with readers, waiting lists for books could be a thing of the past.

The place of the XO OLPC project laptop in the digital classroom
Paper based handouts and notes are also liable to get torn and crumpled if not carried properly. I look forward to being able to buy a device such as the OLPC laptop to replace my textbooks and notes, which has a high resolution in monochrome mode for reading, is lightweight, has long battery life, low energy consumption and, of course, a low cost. It is also promised that the laptops will be loaded with Wikipedia. Depending on how much RAM it has and its features, it may be able to replace my desktop PC for most simple tasks. Yes, it's not e-ink (although an e-ink monitor could be very interesting), but it may be good enough. Unfortunately I may have left university by the time it becomes available to the public, if ever, but there's always hope. Perhaps I will have another application by then.

Electronic reading and libraries
Public libraries are trying all sorts of ways of attracting visitors. The library my father works at is perhaps too successful at this, and provides free access to the Internet. It is, shall I say, a rather "challenging" environment for the library staff, who have to deal with all sorts of users who are very different from the visitors the library used to have before it relocated and started offering this service. If public libraries, or the government, could provide immediate, free access to electronic books and newspapers - which they currently provide free physical access to - for library members for a set period of time, funded by taxation, it would surely cost no more to run than it costs currently, access to books would be immediate and not limited to an individual library's stock, and the physical costs of replacing books and chasing lenders would be reduced. There would still be an incentive for the public to buy books, as consumers still like to be able to own books, and the reading of books could increase substantially with universal, immediate access.

The convenience of web reading
I think that I would read a lot more books and newspapers if it was as convenient and no more expensive than what I currently read on the Internet. What I want is interesting content, but when the Internet already provides this without physical media's barriers of convenience of use and price, why change? Yes, I could pay for a subscription to a magazine or newspaper, but if I don't have to, I won't. It's human nature. I listen to podcasts rather than radio because I don't have to read radio listings magazines and manually set the times to record on a hifi, or listen at time which could be inconvenient. I watch television rather than vodcasts because the difference in quality between broadcast and Internet programming makes the inconvenience of setting a DVR worthwhile.

At home, I don't need an electronic reader, as I have access to the Internet. During my commute, however, I don't have access to the Internet, and alternatives are expensive or inconvenient - broadsheet newspapers are difficult to handle for the interesting content they provide, while textbooks add excessive weight to my backpack.

The change from books to web reading
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsgreer View Post
I just wanted to jump in here. Everyone speaks of the decline of reading. I don't agree. I think it's content that has changed. My 17 year old son, and his many friends, aren't really reading a lot of books. But watching him and his friends, I notice they are reading a lot of blogs and forums.
So do I.
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Originally Posted by tsgreer View Post
They are always looking up game info, stats, wikipedia, movie news, etc.
There is a lot of useful information on Wikipedia - it is where I go to first, and has articles on subjects such as popular culture which are not covered by a traditional encyclopedia. When I am without Internet access, I think of things to search for, which I have to write down for when I am at home. Most of the information I seek in these searches would be found in Wikipedia - so having the text of Wikipedia on a reader with a touch screen to allow for searching and following hyperlinks would be convenient. (As an aside, I have read that it is possible to put Wikipedia on a specific generation iPod. Is it possible to put it on a Creative (Nomad) Jukebox? I wouldn't want to buy an iPod just to put Wikipedia on it)

Quoting from electronic text
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsgreer View Post
They also IM constantly. I know everything there
is to know about Halo 3 (video game) because he is always reading and quoting to me.
I also collect interesting quotes from what I read on the Internet and in print. The ability to do this would make an electronic reader more convenient for this than print. There are, however, devices on the market for doing this - it's just another expense and device to carry. It would be bad enough reading a broadsheet on my commute.

Overall reading by the youth
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsgreer View Post
So reading novels has declined, but time spent reading in general seems to be the same or even more. I see this in his friends too. They tend to read a lot of content if the content is something they have an interest in.

Book reading though isn't what they enjoy. I would even venture to guess that they read more than the generation before.

Before video games, everyone had activities outside (a good thing!). Now teenagers spend much more time at the computer "reading" stuff than being outside.

Good thing? Bad thing? I'm not sure. I mean, sure I read a lot when I was younger, but it was all sci-fi and pulp stuff. So it wasn't what most would call quality reading--but I loved it. Same with my son reading Halo stuff. They read as much or even more, just not the same stuff in the same way.
This is true in my case. Although I have read many children's books as a child, I now hardly ever read fiction, except for occasionally re-reading my old books, some of which are children's books, as well as the Harry Potter series which I started reading as a child (and from a review in the local newspaper, before it became so popular, I might add). You may laugh but there is apparently a whole generation out there the same, and a declining market for books. I have read some non-fiction books which were discussed on the radio or the Internet, but it has taken from a few weeks to about month from a request for these to either become available at my university library, or be ordered at my local public library, where my father is a librarian.

Reading list
I have a list of books which I mean to read which have been recommended by posters on the Internet, in the comments on blogs or in Usenet posts, but I have only got around to reading a few of them. I only read books and other printed material if they are interesting to me, or if they are the only reading material available, rather than out of habit as my parents seem to.

My electronic reading
For example, I read the articles in weekend newspapers which I am interested in, such as reviews and technology. I also read issues of Reader's Digest when I am staying with my grandparents, who do not have unmetered Internet access as I have at home, not because they are resistant to new technology (my grandfather has used Linux for years and is more technical than I am) but because they refuse to pay a monthly fee for it. Many of these issues refer to books which I have added to my reading list, but since some are twenty years old it may be difficult to find some of these books.

The equality of reading mediums, inconvenience and user generated content
I treat all other mediums the same, whether they are newspapers, magazines, forums, newsgroups, radio programmes, podcasts or television programmes. I do not have an emotional attachment to paper, and in many cases it is inconvenient compared to electronic mediums. I remember when I was in an English class nine years ago we had to bring a newspaper to class. My newspaper would not fit on the desk while open. When I was in the sixth form at secondary school, with (quite filtered) Internet access and free periods, I spent my time reading the Guardian newspaper's online politics section, since I was studying politics at the time, and my teacher recommended the newspaper's politics articles. It may have been to the detriment of my studies, but I noticed that my understanding of the articles improved over time. Perhaps I could have read the newspaper copy in the school library, which as a sixth former I was allowed to enter at any time after years of the door being locked at lunchtime. I did the same with technology blogs such as Engadget and Gizmodo at university, and at home, mostly because of the interesting comments.

When I was reading the Guardian online politics section I also read the associated blog, which allowed comments to be made. Although I rarely make them myself, they are sometimes very interesting. When I am not able to access the Internet when away from home, I read letters pages in newspapers and on teletext, but they are a poor alternative.

Last edited by quig; 09-06-2008 at 12:36 PM. Reason: inserted date of article in .net magazine
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Old 09-18-2007, 10:00 AM   #43
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Welcome to MobileRead, quig!

Great first post too, well organized and presented. Glad to have you around.
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Old 09-18-2007, 10:20 AM   #44
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Nice first post, quig. I am also a quote collector. You may be interested in commenting in a thread about tools for this purpose: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9231
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