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Old 07-04-2008, 09:41 AM   #1
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Nick Hornby is not an e-book fan

Nick Hornby has written a guest post on The Penguin Blog. Nick Hornby doesn't think e-books will take off.

His first point is one that's often heard: "Book readers like books (...) For readers, a wall lined with books is as attractive as any art we could afford to put up there." Right. I still think this isn't (entirely) true. While there are definitely some books I want in paper format, there are plenty of books I am more than happy to read only in digital format. Similar to the fact that I used to get a lot of books from the library and some books I really wanted to own and bought for myself. Obviously, I don't agree with Hornby on this one.

Here's another one I really don't agree with: "Book-lovers are always late adaptors, and generally suspicious of new technology." Need I even address this?

I also noticed this point: "But – and this is the most depressing reason – the truth is that people don’t like reading books much anyway (...)". I suppose that's true, and I agree with Hornby here: it is depressing indeed.

Anyway, have a read here, as he's got a few more arguments too.
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Old 07-04-2008, 09:44 AM   #2
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Nick Hornby, i love your work, but you disappoint me here.
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Old 07-04-2008, 11:19 AM   #3
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When compared to the list of Mr. Hornby, I can only assume that I am not a reader. Or, maybe he's just never met a reader like me

Maybe I'm the odd one out, but I really don't think so. My response to his list is as follows:

1. I'm a book reader that likes to read. I don't read in spite of, nor because it is on bound pages, but because it's there.

2. I have books that I've kept since I first purchased them. Nothing prevents me from purchasing them as an e-book and adding them to my reader if I need or want to and I have no issue with doing so. Nothing says, that it is, has to, or will be one over the other.

3. Seven per person per year? There are more months than not that I buy that and more and run out of material. A 3 for 2 deal would cover me for a few days, possibly a week in most instances.

4. I'm one of those oddities again I guess. I'm a techie, I'm a reader. I Love new gadgets and toys I love to read. Finding something that fits both parts of my personality has me turning in circles giddily.

5. Cereal boxes, food labels, someone else's newspaper (when my vision was better...), signs, brochures, the free handouts at various stores... in desperate times, I've read anything that has words on it. My reader means that I now have something to read no matter where I am.

6. My tv was off for about 3 months until recently. It wasn't broken, I'm just not all that into it... and even when it is on, I've usually got something in hand that I'm reading while looking up at the screen occasionally. Don't get me wrong, I have shows that I enjoy watching when they're new and I'll rarely pass up one of the crime story shows, but while the tv may get a bit dusty over there in the corner, it's a rare day when I'm not reading.

As for the poll he mentions, that is quite depressing. Growing up, a trip to the bookstore was as exciting as a trip to the toy store for me if not more so. While we couldn't always afford toys, there was always enough for a book.

I'm a reader. My dad was a reader, my mom still is one. Maybe that's part of it. My dad loved history, both World and US. Maybe it was by osmosis, but he instilled a love of reading and history in me that remains with me today. I started reading when I was 3 or 4, and by the 4th grade I'd read every one of his history books. I can remember sitting there with a dictionary on one side and one of his books on the other, looking up whatever word I didn't understand. I can remember asking him about Elijah D. Taft, about the Celts and about ancient Greek civilization.

I love music. I have an ipod, a pc (okay, more than one), a pda, an e book reader, a ds ( I like my games too!) and a cell phone. I've got a closet full of boxed up books that are keepers and that, from time to time, I go back and reread an old favorite.

I've read on every one of those devices, and while any of them will do in a pinch, I like the reader the best. It has found it's way into my bag every single day since I purchased it. It comes out at the store when I'm waiting on line, at lunchtime while I'm waiting for a friend to show up, it has come out while I'm at a total standstill in 5+ mile traffic jams and when I've been waiting to be seen at the doctors office. It comes out after dinner, and during if I'm eating alone.

I Am a reader. Long after the printed page is but a memory and the prototypical readers of today are interesting gadgets from the past, I will Be a reader and I feel sorry that I seem to be such an anomaly in his experience.
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Old 07-04-2008, 12:29 PM   #4
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4. I'm one of those oddities again I guess. I'm a techie, I'm a reader. I Love new gadgets and toys I love to read. Finding something that fits both parts of my personality has me turning in circles giddily.
You're not odd.

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Old 07-04-2008, 12:37 PM   #5
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OK,

So, first he says the people that DO read won't like them because they like books.

Then he says, "most people don't read". So what? Only people that read, read books anyway. So, why do non-readers all of a sudden need to start reading for ebooks to be successful?

I don't like people who don't think before they speak. I also don't like people who give there opinion on something that they have no experience about. Does he have a reader? Does he buy and read ebooks?

You know, most people don't ride motorcycles. There is no way that motorcycles will every be popular and mainstream.

BOb
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Old 07-04-2008, 12:54 PM   #6
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Posted on the Penguin site ....

As to Mr. Hornby's various points:

1. Book readers like reading. Many of us live in spaces too small for a large collection of books. For us, ebooks are a perfect solumtion.

2. None of us own e-books. Not a problem, since thousands of the classics are available for free on the internet. Or ... perhaps you were unaware of that fact??

3. "We" don't buy many books. Not certain who you are referring to. I didn't used to purchase many books because I had no more room to store them all (and I have a good sized library). Since purchasing my Kindle, I have read 4 books in the past 2 weeks, bought at least 14, and downloaded (for free) another 100.

4. Book lovers are "late adopters." Another unsupported generalization. I am a book lover. I always have been. I've also been building computers from scratch for the past 20 years. I purchased my first ebook reader several years ago (the first Rocket Ebook), and I have always been an early adopter.


5. Some of us don't always like to watch tv or listen to music. Some of us actually enjoy reading. And, there are even people who like to have a choice in their entertainment. And ... big shock here ... not everybody liked the Sopranos. The iPod is not going to decrease my reading ... at least not now that I have my Kindle with me everywhere I go. I might even listen to music while I read. What a concept.

6. I would be willing to hazard that a survey of 2000 adults would find they can't locate India on a map of the world. Perhaps if they had learned to read in school, they'd know a little more about the world outside of the little patch of earth on which they live.
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Old 07-04-2008, 01:32 PM   #7
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The power of a library on your bag can't be overstated. For a few books, an e-reader is of marginal values. For a portable library of a 1000+ books, it is a tremendous value. The bigger my library grows, the happier I get with my old CYbook....
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Old 07-05-2008, 06:43 PM   #8
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i love that all the comments on the penguin blog are from MR members.
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Old 07-05-2008, 09:22 PM   #9
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I've been reading these "ebooks aren't going to work out" articles for almost 10 years. Well, ebooks are quietly gaining users every year. These speculative articles usually have an ebooks vs. books angle. I don't think it really is a competition. It's going to be books AND ebooks. Both have pros and cons.

The biggest problem with ebooks is the price of a dedicated reader. It's not easy for most people to plunk down $200 to $400 for a specialty gadget, which is the best way to gain the benefits of ebooks. Although most people have computers, very few people want to read a whole novel sitting at their desk.

As someone who reads quite a bit, I've been wanting an ebook reader for some time, but just recently had the extra cash to get one. Now I'm on board. This does not mean I'll be forsaking books. I go to my library 1 or 2 times a week as it is. I simply now have another means of accessing written material.

Lastly, Hornby's statement about book lovers not being early adopters and suspicious of technology is bone-headed. I'd say that most early adopters ARE readers. You have to be a reader to find out about new things! And I've noticed that my library parking lot has a much higher percentage of hybrid cars than other parking lots, and that's not a joke.
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Old 07-05-2008, 09:32 PM   #10
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I've been reading these "ebooks aren't going to work out" articles for almost 10 years. Well, ebooks are quietly gaining users every year. These speculative articles usually have an ebooks vs. books angle. I don't think it really is a competition. It's going to be books AND ebooks. Both have pros and cons.

The biggest problem with ebooks is the price of a dedicated reader. It's not easy for most people to plunk down $200 to $400 for a specialty gadget, which is the best way to gain the benefits of ebooks. Although most people have computers, very few people want to read a whole novel sitting at their desk.

As someone who reads quite a bit, I've been wanting an ebook reader for some time, but just recently had the extra cash to get one. Now I'm on board. This does not mean I'll be forsaking books. I go to my library 1 or 2 times a week as it is. I simply now have another means of accessing written material.

Lastly, Hornby's statement about book lovers not being early adopters and suspicious of technology is bone-headed. I'd say that most early adopters ARE readers. You have to be a reader to find out about new things! And I've noticed that my library parking lot has a much higher percentage of hybrid cars than other parking lots, and that's not a joke.
A number of this guy's comments could be termed "bone headed." And, that's a very polite way of saying it.

I mean ... really. His argument comes down to saying that people who read books are technophobes. That's just plain insulting. Come the ebook revolution, I can tell you who's head I'd like to see on a pike. (Snicker.)
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Old 07-05-2008, 09:55 PM   #11
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Authors write stories. While I can imagine that there's a great deal of satisfaction in seeing the book and holding it and seeing it on shelves in the stores -- I'm not sure that the author set out to write a *book*. It's the ideas and plot and story that the author is all about.

I can imagine that many people in the publishing industry are hostile to the eBook trend since if the bulk of readers adopt eBooks, their jobs may be at risk. (Book design, printing, art, binding ...)

I am a READER. I read an average of 12 books a month. I buy some *paper* books every month. It's not unusual for me to make a trip to the book store and come home with 2-10 new books. And I'm even more uninhibited when I go to the used book store. I have enough *paper* books stockpiled that I can read at my current pace for at least a year without buying another book. And now I have hundreds of eBooks -- purchased and free -- available to support my habit.

Nick Hornsby doesn't know what he's talking about. Readers read. Non-readers only buy books as gifts, so there's no need to even consider them when debating whether eBooks have a future. Yeah, there are proportionally fewer readers today now that people have so many other ways to be entertained. But us readers are the marketplace.
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Old 07-05-2008, 10:24 PM   #12
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I can imagine that many people in the publishing industry are hostile to the eBook trend since if the bulk of readers adopt eBooks, their jobs may be at risk. (Book design, printing, art, binding ...)
Maybe, maybe not. Book design is still necessary, and often art. Printing and binding go away, but publishers don't do that in any case. They contract with printers and binders to manufacture the books.

Quote:
I am a READER. I read an average of 12 books a month. I buy some *paper* books every month. It's not unusual for me to make a trip to the book store and come home with 2-10 new books. And I'm even more uninhibited when I go to the used book store. I have enough *paper* books stockpiled that I can read at my current pace for at least a year without buying another book. And now I have hundreds of eBooks -- purchased and free -- available to support my habit.
I basically tell people that buying books and reading them are two separate and distinct pleasures. It's a sophistry, of course, but it soothes my guilt when I buy six books and have time to read two before the next purchase.

The nice thing about ebooks is that it won't be necessary to call the paramedics if my To Be Read stack topples over one me...
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Old 07-05-2008, 11:26 PM   #13
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I got my first reader this year. I've been reading ebooks off my computers for over a decade. I still read a few pdf on my mac but I am always using my Kindle. For a while it was my Macbook that was my reader, not anymore. However, I still have a huge comic book and Illustrated novel collection that I don't see going away.

I have always read. I remember thinking "Go Dog Go' was the greatest book written. I still smile when I see it in stores.
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Old 07-06-2008, 12:09 AM   #14
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Having been a dedicated reader of any and everything since I was eight and got hold of the Harvard Classics. I personally think Mr. Horny is off on all counts.
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Old 07-06-2008, 01:12 AM   #15
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I'm kind of insulted by this article because I READ a lot and he pretty much implied that readers are too stupid to keep on the ball when it comes to new innovations??? WTF I figured readers as a group are way ahead of the curve because we do read!

I also think it's the content that counts more than the packaging so I don't see ebooks going away anytime soon.
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