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Old 02-15-2012, 12:17 PM   #1
Polyglot27
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Are books and the internet about to merge? A new way to look at books and knowledge

There is an interesting blog on The Guardian on books and the Internet by Damien Walter.

This is the concluding paragraph.

"For centuries the book has been the highest symbol of knowledge. The object that has enshrined and preserved knowledge through history. The book is so inextricably linked with our concept of knowledge that for many people it is hard to separate one from the other. But for human knowledge to reach its full potential, we may have to let go of the book-as-object first, or open our thinking to a radically different definition of what a book is."

The full text can be found here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012...internet-merge
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:30 PM   #2
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I don't think the author understands either. The internet is nothing but a method of data distribution. People often confuse the internet with the world wide web, but they aren't the same thing. The web is still just a method of data distribution.

We already get e-books via the internet, that's nothing new. But using the web to read books, I'm skeptical of that. The web is better suited for things like newspaper articles. As it is, you can read the articles in paper newspaper or read them on the web, it's the same article. Newspaper articles tend to be read in a single sitting, where books are often read in many sittings over a number of days. People like to have access to their books whenever they wish, without needing to have internet access.

It wasn't uncommon to serialize books, putting one chapter at a time in the newspaper, but books and newspapers didn't merge. People will read articles online for free, and not be bothered by the ads. But they only read the article for a few minutes. I can't see free ad-supported books being common, because articles might be written every single day, but writing a book takes considerably more time.
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:36 PM   #3
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A similar point was raised in another article not that long ago.

The only problem with the idea of "merging books and the Internet" is that it doesn't account for those who are paid "by the book," so to speak. The original intended users of the Internet, those who would be putting all those documents up for everyone to access, were scientists and engineers who were earning a salary for their work, not for their web-intended publications. It's easy to put your text online, if you're already offering it for free to collaborators.

But for those who are paid for the book itself, a system of monitoring who accesses those books (and how) is needed, in order to compensate the authors for their work. Then, of course, you need a method of compensation. And oh, yes, it will have to be a universal system to work for all countries on the web that may share documents.

So the issue is not nearly as cut-and-dry as this blog or the other article would suggest; which means the phrase "about to merge" is seriously understating the timeframe needed to accomplish this. The process--if everyone agreed to it in the first place--could take decades.
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Old 02-15-2012, 12:47 PM   #4
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Not many people want to read a book in a web browser, even if being ad supported was viable for a book. Even for free books, few people want to read them in a browser.
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Old 02-15-2012, 02:17 PM   #5
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I don't think the author understands either. The internet is nothing but a method of data distribution.
So is a book. So is a scroll. So were the walls of a cave.
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Old 02-15-2012, 02:38 PM   #6
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I can't see free ad-supported books being common, because articles might be written every single day, but writing a book takes considerably more time.
I plan to do this with my debut novel, but I'll also be posting it on Amazon, B&N, etc. It'll be interesting to see how the ads pan out over time. I'm hoping to snag the "bored at work" crowd.
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Old 02-15-2012, 02:38 PM   #7
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So is a book. So is a scroll. So were the walls of a cave.
Those are mediums. The internet is not a medium, it is a series of protocols for how data is transmitted. Telegraph, semaphore or smoke signals are better analogies to the internet than is the internet.

You could take any novel and put it on a scroll, or you could paint it on a wall. I don't know anyone who wants to read their books in scroll format or on cave painting format, but they are welcome to do so if they really wish. A book is still a book whether it is in codex format, scroll format, web page format or painted on the wall of a cave.

People will read articles in their web browser, but few would want to read books in their browsers. E-books have been around for some time, but few wanted to read them until the advent of e-readers, people didn't want to read books on their computer screens.
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Old 02-15-2012, 02:49 PM   #8
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People will read articles in their web browser, but few would want to read books in their browsers. E-books have been around for some time, but few wanted to read them until the advent of e-readers, people didn't want to read books on their computer screens.
It's more complicated than that. I have dead time at work and would LOVE to read novels on my computer, but the firewalls in place make that a bit fiddly to do. And I can't install the Kindle or B&N app on my work computer.

Please keep in mind that everything you are saying right now, someone said would spell doom for eReaders. (People will read books on paper, but few would want to read books on a machine!) You may be right, you may not be, but it's WAY more complicated than just "few...want to read books in their browsers".
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:14 PM   #9
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It really isn't that complicated. E-books have been around for decades, they are considerably older than the Web. If people wanted to read books in their browsers, e-books would have taken off much sooner than they did. People had ample opportunity to read e-books on their computers, and decided not to.

One of the objections to e-books was people saying that they didn't want to read on a screen, but many people drop this objection when they try an e-reader, and find that it isn't like reading on a screen.
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:26 PM   #10
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So is a book. So is a scroll. So were the walls of a cave.
FAIL.

Every single one of those is also on site storage, and not subject to loss of access if there is a problem in another location.
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:50 PM   #11
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It really isn't that complicated. E-books have been around for decades, they are considerably older than the Web. If people wanted to read books in their browsers, e-books would have taken off much sooner than they did. People had ample opportunity to read e-books on their computers, and decided not to.
Because massive cloud systems and cheap large file storage and the handy tablets, phones, and constant connectivity to reach them have been around for decades and people just chose not to utilize them. Because we've always had a richly formatted ebook format that was not proprietary and which could be easily read by, say, Firefox extensions.

No, no, you're right, Internet reading is a dead end. If people were going to read books on the Internet, they would have done it in the 1960s.
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:16 PM   #12
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When CDs and access to the internet became popular in the 1990's, people had ample access to e-books, but they mostly remained curiosities. The CD bundles that were so popular often came with CDs packed with e-books. People liked the idea of e-books, but not many people wanted to read them on their computer.

There has been more than enough room to store e-books on computers for a very long time, vast servers were not required. The big problem with cloud storage is that if you don't have access to the internet, you don't have access to your books. Local storage space is cheap. With a couple gigabytes, you have access to a vast library of books. It is getting hard to find a flash drive with a capacity of less than 2 gigabytes, at Best Buy, they don't show anything less than 4 GB.People tend to have their MP3s stored locally, and e-books are considerably smaller than MP3s.

There are apps for reading books on computers, but for most people, that is a supplement.
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Old 02-15-2012, 04:47 PM   #13
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Not many people want to read a book in a web browser, even if being ad supported was viable for a book. Even for free books, few people want to read them in a browser.
Actually, a lot of people read books from browsers. That was the PDF's essential use, and a lot of people read PDF books, even today.
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:37 PM   #14
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When CDs and access to the internet became popular in the 1990's, people had ample access to e-books, but they mostly remained curiosities. The CD bundles that were so popular often came with CDs packed with e-books. People liked the idea of e-books, but not many people wanted to read them on their computer.
*sigh* You simply do not live my life. Smart phones + cloud storage + constant connectivity provide a privacy and immediacy for reading that wasn't there before. You can't load a CD onto a phone, so a CD full of books != useful. You can't load a CD onto a company computer without the contents being scanned, so a CD full of books is STILL not useful.

Most places still allow internet usage, however, and leaving open a browser with a book to glance at during breaks is VERY useful.

But, meh, you know best.
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Old 02-15-2012, 05:38 PM   #15
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Actually, a lot of people read books from browsers. That was the PDF's essential use, and a lot of people read PDF books, even today.
And this.
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