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Old 03-19-2008, 01:58 PM   #31
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I am old enough to remember when Television first became popular, after WWII. Newspapers were doomed because we could get the news faster on the TV. Movies were doomed because TV was free. Magazines were doomed because we were all mesmerized by Ed Sullivan. And books were also doomed because everyone was staring at the "idiot box". Anybody out there even notice that none of these things happened? I have heard of the utopian prediction that we would all be downloading our newspapers to an e-ink device by now. I am not saying this will not happen. I am saying that predictions rarely come true, but something will happen, just not that which we expected.
From what you've said, I think we can conclude that technologies are closely linked to their specific purpose. Only when that purpose is perfectly matched by a better technology is the older one displaced, and even then it could take a long time if the older technology still works well.

Here's a short list, off the top of my head, of such technologies that still work well for their specific purpose: telephones, fax machines, am radio, fm radio, analogue television, typewriters (for filling out forms).

Paper books and magazines not only work well, they have not yet been matched by a better technology. When someone comes up with a technology that matches the contrast, resolution, portability, price, and durability of paper, only then could we expect it to displace paper.
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Old 03-19-2008, 02:07 PM   #32
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I am very happy with my Cybook and love the convenience of carrying around a ton of books on it. But there are some things I miss.....

When I get a paper book, especially if it is nonfiction, I like leafing through the book, scanning chapters, looking it over. Then when I read the book, I sometimes mark passages that I want to go back to, dwell over, maybe share with someone else.

I recently put an eCookbook on my Cybook. After fiddling around with it, I don't think I'll be buying many eCookbooks.

I also bought an eBible recently. I like the convenience of having the eBible on my Cybook, but the navigation leaves a lot to be desired....The eBible is fine for my personal reading, but I don't see myself using it much when I go to church and have to jump from passage to passage.

Using pbooks (versus ebooks) for these kinds of books is just more enjoyable to me...pbooks are easier to browse, easy to bookmark favorite passages, recipes, etc., and for a recipe book anyway, the color pictures are nicer to view. Of course, as ebook readers and ebooks evolve and as they improve their navigational and bookmarking features, I could change my mind....
The advantage of the pbook is that it requires no special effort on the producer to make it a "random access" book. That happens automatically. However with an ebook, a special effort must be made to make it easily accessible in a random manner. Such easily accessibility will happen as the industry matures, just as time-sharing did with computers.

It used to be that one program ran until it finished before another could start. Today we take time-sharing for granted to the point some younger people can not imagine life without it. I believe that eventually random access in ebooks will reach a similarly transparent level.
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Old 03-19-2008, 02:25 PM   #33
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Paper books and magazines not only work well, they have not yet been matched by a better technology.

What technology represent paper books?
White paper and black text on it. E-ink devices do the same thing but e-books are cheaper.
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Old 03-19-2008, 03:50 PM   #34
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Here's a short list, off the top of my head, of such technologies that still work well for their specific purpose: telephones, fax machines, am radio, fm radio, analogue television, typewriters (for filling out forms).
Faxes are actually an interesting study in how older technology hangs on. E-mail is essentially superior to faxing in almost every way (with the exception of sending hard copies that you simply cannot scan into a computer). Yet, Faxing is still regularly and constantly used... it is often even preferred, despite its lesser quality. It is linked to the same tendency some people have to printing out e-mails.

So, even when a superior tech exists, old tech can hang on just by sheer force of will...

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Paper books and magazines not only work well, they have not yet been matched by a better technology. When someone comes up with a technology that matches the contrast, resolution, portability, price, and durability of paper, only then could we expect it to displace paper.
When you look at paper vs technology on a one-to-one basis, I'd agree. But there are other qualities to consider, and as the link I posted earlier indicates, an economy of scale can render technology as superior to paper in the eyes of many. In other words, I would willingly sacrifice some of the qualities of paper to gain in other areas (such as carrying an entire library in a laptop).
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Old 03-19-2008, 03:56 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by AMacD View Post
I am old enough to remember when Television first became popular, after WWII. Newspapers were doomed because we could get the news faster on the TV. Movies were doomed because TV was free. Magazines were doomed because we were all mesmerized by Ed Sullivan. And books were also doomed because everyone was staring at the "idiot box". Anybody out there even notice that none of these things happened? I have heard of the utopian prediction that we would all be downloading our newspapers to an e-ink device by now. I am not saying this will not happen. I am saying that predictions rarely come true, but something will happen, just not that which we expected.
There's a bit of a difference here, though. The closer the ebook readers come to the quality of the print media, they become a direct competitor to fill the SAME requirement. TV content and print content have markedly different appeals. The content is usually more in-depth in print, but quicker and flashier on the TV. Back then, you had to get your programming on the TV at home and when they scheduled. Print was a portable and convenient way to get content when you wanted it. With the ebook and the pbook, the content is the same. The convenience is increased. As the technology gets better, the gap between the experience narrows.

Of the examples you mentioned, I think movies vs. TV is a pretty apt one. And we have seen quite a change. As home theater systems have gotten better, people are renting more movies. The movie theater has gotten a lot more expensive. People aren't going every weekend like they used to. Most people I know only go to the theater when they feel a film needs the big screen experience. Otherwise, it's cheaper and more convenient to rent a movie and watch it at home. I hardly know anyone without a Netflix account. Movies haven't gone away, but the market has changed. I don't think print books will go away, either. People will just be less likely to buy them in the numbers they have before. Folks will probably still want art books or great printings of their beloved books. These will be expensive. Many will stop buying paperbacks, newspapers and magazines in print as reading devices improve.
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Old 03-19-2008, 04:24 PM   #36
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Nobody spend money for ..paper. We all buy books to read text not to touch or smell paper.
I actually own a copy of "american gods" because i loved the way the pages felt. It is a very high quality paperback, and the pages have a soft but not flimsy feel that reminds me of nice linen sheets.

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Originally Posted by AMacD View Post
I am old enough to remember when Television first became popular, after WWII. Newspapers were doomed because we could get the news faster on the TV. Movies were doomed because TV was free. Magazines were doomed because we were all mesmerized by Ed Sullivan. And books were also doomed because everyone was staring at the "idiot box". Anybody out there even notice that none of these things happened? I have heard of the utopian prediction that we would all be downloading our newspapers to an e-ink device by now. I am not saying this will not happen. I am saying that predictions rarely come true, but something will happen, just not that which we expected.
There are several parts of this discussion that are, um, missing. First, people keep acting like paper is a static technology, and book production is as well. look at a hardback book that was produced this year, 5 years ago, 20 years ago, 50, 100, 200, 300, 500 (printing press?) and 900+ years ago... do the same with paper, and pay special attention to the last 200 years , and in the past 20. What about actually usable print on demand services... devices that can print, bind, package and ship... and they just need a person to clear the paper jam in section 21b every once in a while

The second thing is the way we access the data. How many people want to brows a text file on the internet rather than html? right now ebook readers are in the papyrus and boiled ick phase. Any decent publisher knows how to reference, create a decent TOC and can higher a good artist and technician to make the whole thing look wonderful.
Currently the "device" that reads p-books is also more evolved. It has the ability to understand dozens if not thousands of formats of p-books. It will even interface with some content rich slim editions from other countries (I like Italian photography magazines). Eventually the p-book format will show its limitations, and its lack of rapid cross reference, and large media size will prevent it from being the obvious choice.
Right now I am glad that there is a special format of p-book for my 6month olds to devour, in a similar and yet completely different way that their bibliovore mother does. It will be a long time before you will be able to find a better device for them to consume their books with, and good luck doing it for the price of 10-20 diapers.
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Old 03-19-2008, 06:02 PM   #37
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Nobody spend money for ..paper. We all buy books to read text not to touch or smell paper.
my father regularly buys used books (books he has never heard of by authors he has never heard of, i specify) for the sole reason that he happens to like the cover, or the paper has a nice feel to it, or the editor chose a really handsome font for the body.

he is quite intrigued by my eb1150 and absolutely sees the convenience that etexts represent compared to paper books, and may soon become the happy owner of his own. however nothing could ever replace paper books completely in his life.

it's not always all about the content. in fact, it's not even *only* about the content when we are talking about digital versions : i cannot read a PG text directly from the site without formatting it first to make it graphically more attractive ; the plain text format is too brutal for me, it ruins the reading experience.
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Old 03-19-2008, 06:17 PM   #38
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For a book-selling hot shot, he knows surprisingly little about the range of reading habits out there!

Anyone else out there a 'grazer'?

Another take on it - coming back to Steve Jobs and the death of reading (again) - wasn't part of Jobs point that reading is becoming more fragmented? I don't agree about the death of reading, but I do agree that the what and how of people's reading habits is undergoing a change.
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Old 03-19-2008, 06:18 PM   #39
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Luddite.

Exactly.
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Old 03-19-2008, 06:54 PM   #40
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I actually own a copy of "american gods" because i loved the way the pages felt. It is a very high quality paperback, and the pages have a soft but not flimsy feel that reminds me of nice linen sheets.
Some people wants to build luxury and expensive collection of books, but we talk about reading books, not collecting them.
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Old 03-19-2008, 07:05 PM   #41
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Right now I am glad that there is a special format of p-book for my 6month olds to devour
Exactly - my children are fascinated by my cybook and while they're older than yours at 12, 13, 14 & 16 - I'm not sure if I would trust them with a device that cost around £300!

When they were younger, they went through the stage of 'bomb struck' bedrooms and drawing all over anything in sight...I think my complete freak attack over pen in a book taught them I WON'T have that soon curtailed that habit!

But I wouldn't personally buy them an e-book reader because I can't guarantee they'd take care of it and at least they'll still be alive if they destroy a pbook - not quite sure if they would live after destroying an ebook reader When they go out and get jobs, they can buy their own damn readers
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Old 03-19-2008, 09:55 PM   #42
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Listen, I love the smell and touch of paper as much as the next person. That musty bookish smell and that brittle touch of the paper to many of us means 'a la recherche du temps perdu'. It means childhood, fond memories and a thousand evocations from happy and sad stories we have read and cherished over many years and that have sparked our imaginations.

I feel rather sad that in years to come future generations will never know the tactile and olefactory happiness of a real book. However, it will come to pass that Ebooks will become the norm as surely as each one of us here will no longer exist. Future generations will not fret about real books, because they will merely become exhibits in glass cases. They will only be bothered about the knowledge and pleasure that the reading devices and their electronically reproduced symbols can give to them. Amen.

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Old 03-20-2008, 07:55 AM   #43
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Mediahistory is a funny subject to study. One can well locate more or less the same social actions/reactions/discussions on a media change or lets better say media "enrichment" since the older media is hardly ever completly moved out.

Also I have to agree that "paper" is also a technology and a complicated also, just because the book in your hand doesnt beep and blink doesn't mean there is a lot of tech involved until you can get hold in your hand. Printing machines, paper recycling, publisher distribution and so on.

One interesting media change was from handwritten books to printed books in the 15th century. There were interesting discussons going on on how the printed books will change the value of the book, the quality of print or content, availability and so on. Also involved with big social implications, would the protestant movement have been possible without the Gutenberg machine and Luthers bible for everyone?

Another interesting media enrichment discussion was on the ending edge of the 19th century, when printing tech and wellfare became developed enough to allow daily printing. The newspaper was created. Oh some people already announced the degeneration of society to be caused by this . Newspapers will replace the book for good?!?!

Interesting enough almost the same accusations newspapers had to defend itself from, they raised against the radio when it came up a few decades later. Now it was the radio that was said to lead to cultural degeneration.

Again almost the same discussions came up when the TV hit on the radio establishment. Nowadays you have an interesting competition between TV and internet. I was amused to see a TV-news being shocked that a research has shown most people would pick their internet over the TV if they had to decide for one of these two. (I'd sure decide for the internet also)

But today you still see books, newspaper, radio, TV and internet coexisting. So I hardly believe the e-books will make paper obsolete. They are an enrichment, sure they will take some of the market, but hardly move the books out of existence. I'd just hope the e-book producers get more a hang of the enrichment part they can do over normal paper, like inserting assertion notes on pages (thats more than iliads scribble feature (however can be done with paper note-its as well)), jumping between books, jump to internet discussions about a particular page of a book and so on.

Oh altough I like the smell paper, I love the smell of my iLiad, I hope it wont lose its factory smell too soon And I hope book producents will take care more about quality prints due to e-books. A Horror story was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, altough not expensive you washed of the ink with your dry (!) thumb when going over the page. Or books that are bound so bad, pages start getting lose after reading it the 3rd or 4th time.

Last edited by axel77; 03-20-2008 at 08:04 AM.
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Old 03-20-2008, 08:01 AM   #44
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I really don#t get the whole "feel of the paper" thing. I don't feel, smell or rustle the paper, I just open the book, start reading and depart this planet, returning only when it's time to do something else.
I get the same effect with ebooks. As long as the reading device is "non-intrusive" and has a good display (eink for example) I can use it just like I do a regular book. Since it's usually designed for one-handed use it's even better for reading on the go and whilst eating (I know I'm not supposed to do that...^^) so there really are only advantages imho.
What can be tedious is the content management (although Mobipocket is fairly easy there) and the fact that we still have to wathc the battery-meter with most devices these days...apart from that I'm fully digital where my reading is concerned.
If a book is not available as ebook I don't read it...well, if it's something I really want to read badly, like the last potter volume then I do get it as paper book...
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Old 03-20-2008, 10:29 AM   #45
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everybody has certain senses that they are more sensitive to. I have a hard time getting completely wrapped up in a book, unless I read very slowly, and almost listen to the words. On of my best "reading" experiences in recent years was when my wife read me "Sunshine" by Robin McKinley. The experience I think was further enriched because the main charictor was female, and the narration takes place not from her... but very close by.

I am an obsessive cook. In college I worked in a bakery, a candy store, and a catering company(I also worked in the machine shop). Recently I have had time to play with chocolate again, and to save some money I have been trying to use chocolate flavored confection. Honestly only about one in three people can tell that its not "chocolate" when given it alone, and in a direct comparison only about 2 in 3 can tell there is a difference. To me the way that it melts is so far inferior that they are not the same food. It has a much wider plastic range (the temperature where it feels fudgey), and it never looses some of its viscosity, no matter how long you keep it in your mouth. Humorously, my wife is one of those people that in a bind taste test wouldn't notice.

My wife is a conosour of the written word. She loves seeing how an author matures over time, their exact choice of words, how they inject humor into a tense situation. She consumes books with the same speed and enjoyment that I am able to use my senses to take apart food at a restaurant, so that I can make it at home. She has an attachment to having a collection of books... she likes having them alphabetized, and like her filing cabinet, they give her great joy. However, when given the choice between a book she has in paper or in digital form, she will choose digital ALMOST every time. The major exception is when she will be doing something that may cause harm to her digital reader. I had to save up the money to replace it, so that she felt safe taking it with her to south america for a month, because the idea of its loss was even worse than the thought of being without books that she loves for 4-6 weeks.

paper books will eventually go away, but it is FAR into the future. Once every country in the world has the resources that they can afford to give each person a tool that takes so much work and knowledge to produce. In the mean time we have reduced the cost of paper books so far that for people who do not consume 100's of books a year, or have extra resources to throw at a rely convenient toy, a paper book will remain the standard. However, like the Ipod, the ebook readers day is coming, and it would not surprise me if in another 5-20 years everyone in a university is required to have one.
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