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Old 10-02-2011, 04:04 PM   #1
Michael Wallace
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Paper and Pixels

Twenty years ago, I read paper. Books, magazines, and newspapers. All the books were paperbacks, usually used, because I was a student, and poor. I was almost never the first reader of anything I picked up.

Ten years ago, my newspaper reading went almost entirely online, I started to buy my own paperbacks, and picked up the occasional hardback of favorite writers. Magazines were still second hand. I occasionally listened to audio books checked out from the library when setting off on a long trip.

One year ago, I stopped buying paperbacks, replacing them with cheap Kindle books instead. This is great for travel (except takeoff and landing -- grrr) because I no longer have to lug around a bunch of books or take the slim pickings in the book exchange at some guest house in Latin America. My magazine reading is all online, my audio books are digital (see podiobooks.com), and my newspaper reading has almost entirely gone away except for the occasional linked article. I still buy hardcover, though, as well as the occasional trade paperback, when I want to buy a book from one of my favorite writers or in the case of non-fiction that looks interesting. Interestingly enough, I probably read twice as many words per day as I ever did when I was reading only paper.

How about you? Have your reading habits changed and if so, how? Is there anything surprising, that you wouldn't have guessed would ever happen?
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Old 10-02-2011, 05:10 PM   #2
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I'm almost entirely paper-free at this point in my personal media consumption.

I work for a paper that still goes to print, and I still get the occasional handout in classes (though I encourage my professors to send me the files instead and many of them do, and I'm very involved in stepping up our web integration on the paper).

News? Online/RSS/recipes. Blogs? Same. Magazines? Rare for me, but online when I read them. Books? Digital. And I do find I read a lot more now than I did at any point in the past since I was in primary school.

I think the most surprising thing is actually books. As I got older and busier, I read fewer books and more news and short stories. Partly due to space, partly due to eyestrain, and partly due to having a back that doesn't like extra weight.

There's a lot of issues to solve, in terms of making books viable in the digital world. Shorter works are easier - you can ignore the eyestrain issue, and you can also lay them out on a typical website or mobile site. But books? That really did require a whole new formatting and screen approach.

I think ebooks will be as significant as the printing press. It's no surprise novel-reading rates were declining in an increasingly digital world where heavy bricks of paper really just don't fit into the lifestyles of a lot of people anymore. I know that was the primary reason for my reading decline.

And I think we're going to see a resurgence of the novel now that e-ink and ebook formats are available. It will be interesting to compare the numbers of people who report reading novels regularly in, say, 2015, versus 2005.
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Old 10-02-2011, 07:37 PM   #3
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for me the biggest change has simply been the discovery of independent authors. far and away they're just as good, if not better, than stuff i was buying off the shelves of Borders. genres that are pretty much dead at retail like science fiction and horror are available and thriving in such quantities that i can't afford them all.

i just feel like i'm not at the mercy of what stores put on their shelves or what publishers decide to publish. theres always something i want to read, theres never a feeling of "meh, theres nothing i want".

that would be the biggest change for me, the ability to truly read what i want to read.
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Old 10-03-2011, 09:02 AM   #4
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I don't know if eBooks have increased my reading or not. I recently retired and read a lot now that I have the time, and that coincided with my acquisition of an eReader. The eReader online community, in turn, has opened up a world of indie authors which have tempted me away from reading volumes of 'big name' authors as @xg4bx has said. I still roam the BAM store 25 miles away and a favorite used book store, and I am a very strong supporter of our local library which subscribes to Overdrive and loans eReaders. I suspect that my eReader does make it a bit quicker to read a book without having to separate pages when turning and by retaining my place when I might otherwise forget to bookmark during an interruption.
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Old 10-03-2011, 10:01 AM   #5
Michael Wallace
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As one of those independent writers, of course I'm happy about the development of the digital book industry. I can't see the new marketplace hurting the great writers, but I wonder about the mediocre writers who nevertheless sell zillions of copies in tiny airport bookstores. There are some writers I've read only because there were so few choices and I knew that while uninspiring, their books wouldn't be bad, per se. But if I can preload my Kindle with a dozen books, I don't need those kinds of books anymore.
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Old 10-03-2011, 10:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Wallace View Post
As one of those independent writers, of course I'm happy about the development of the digital book industry. I can't see the new marketplace hurting the great writers, but I wonder about the mediocre writers who nevertheless sell zillions of copies in tiny airport bookstores. There are some writers I've read only because there were so few choices and I knew that while uninspiring, their books wouldn't be bad, per se. But if I can preload my Kindle with a dozen books, I don't need those kinds of books anymore.
When the time comes I'm sure they will have ebook vending machines in airports for people to fill up their readers with Katie Price type books. They will probably be provided by corporations that we currently call publishers, so there won't be any of those nasty indie titles to compete with.
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Old 10-03-2011, 11:41 AM   #7
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Me too I never buy paper books anymore, and I use Calibre for newspapers.
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Old 10-03-2011, 11:51 AM   #8
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I suppose I am of the age that I never read paper in the first place, I have always got my news online. I did not really read books till ebooks came along, that does not mean I did not read, I just read other things. I do read less news now that I have a ereader..
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Old 10-04-2011, 05:15 PM   #9
Michael Wallace
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Originally Posted by mr ploppy View Post
When the time comes I'm sure they will have ebook vending machines in airports for people to fill up their readers with Katie Price type books. They will probably be provided by corporations that we currently call publishers, so there won't be any of those nasty indie titles to compete with.
Blech, you're probably right. Unlike with paper, however, I have no excuse not to load up on books before I get to the airport.
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Old 10-04-2011, 05:24 PM   #10
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I've not bought a newspaper or magazine for a long time. I don't actually visit newspaper sites, but the internet has filled that slot. The screen has also substituted for reference books, either through search engines, or dictionary apps &c.

Apart from a few books (well, probably into three figures!) on my iPhone in case of emergency, I haven't really switched over from paper books. I've just ordered an eReader, so I think that's about to change. I've been disappointed with the quality of the paperbacks I've bought recently - pages falling out as soon as you open them and that sort of thing - and I'm very careful about how I open books. Even new hardbacks often aren't properly bound. What I think is going to happen is that I'll buy a few old versions of books that are really special, well printed and bound, on good paper. For the rest I'll go electronic.
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Old 10-05-2011, 07:43 AM   #11
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I have bought 1 paperback in the last 3 years and that because it came bundled with a photographic book. No newspapers for 6 months and as my magazine subscriptions are coming up for renewal I am phasing them out. No more Fortune, Time, Procycling, Ride or Bicycling magazines. I get them on line or not at all. Still debating the National Geographic.

The Iliad then Cybook then Kindle did for the books. The ipad has done for the magazines and the internet has done for the newspapers.

A lot less clutter in my house now
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