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Old 07-28-2008, 04:07 AM   #1
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Post Guardian article about e-book readers

The Guardian featured a largish article about e-readers. Author Naomi Alderman writes about her experience with the iLiad. A quote: "The story's still funny, moving and gripping and the iLiad quickly became almost invisible - surely what one wants in any reading technology." She's also got some gripes, of course. Peter Conrad, an Observer columnist, also describes his experience with the iLiad: "Reading on it left me feeling alienated from books I know well.". And of course, some skeptics saying the usual stuff but also some enthusiasts doing some enthusing.
They've also got a guide to e-book readers and a competition to win an iLiad.
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Old 07-28-2008, 04:49 AM   #2
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Peter Conrad sounds a little obsolete himself.

Quote:
"As I unpacked the iLiad, struggling to assemble its plug and to slot it into the proper socket"
And I love Will Self and Lynne Truss, but they are both wrong.

Quote:
"if enough people begin to use them, the consequences for writers are, frankly, disastrous"
Why? We still want content! It is the publishing houses that need to change, not the writers.

Last edited by acidzebra; 07-28-2008 at 04:51 AM.
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Old 07-28-2008, 05:18 AM   #3
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Hi

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Originally Posted by acidzebra View Post
Why? We still want content! It is the publishing houses that need to change, not the writers.
Maybe Him want to say that writers must start to write well. ^___^
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Old 07-28-2008, 07:08 AM   #4
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Quote from the article:

Quote:
The reader also takes about two seconds to 'turn the page'; turning a page of a printed book takes milliseconds.
Mrs Alderman does maybe not know too much about digital publishing, but she would sure be a huge asset for the Google book scanning project!
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Old 07-28-2008, 07:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prospect View Post
Mrs Alderman does maybe not know too much about digital publishing, but she would sure be a huge asset for the Google book scanning project!
!!
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Old 07-28-2008, 07:39 AM   #6
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oh my, there is so much in these articles...

i very much appreciated Naomi Alder's conclusion :
Quote:
What we're seeing isn't the death of the book, but the creation of a new art form.

That form is still in its infancy, but as a novelist I'm excited by the creative opportunities it will bring. Meanwhile, as a reader, I'm simply excited by the possibility of regaining some floorspace. The e-reader will never completely replace paper books, but it's got an awful lot to recommend it.
it's nothing new to us, but it's true and well put, and it's nice to see her recognizing the benefits and pointing out some of the real values of ebooks, whilst acknowledging that they can live side-by-side with paper books, to the benefit of everyone.

by contrast, Peter Conrad sounds like a real imbécile, with his silly, fantanstical doom and gloom scenario. i find it revealing that his strongest criticisms have nothing to do with either the device or the medium taken absolutely, but only, specifically (and more or less irrelevantly) with the *formatting* of the specific edition he is reading ; it's poorly done, unattractive, and that makes ebooks as a whole undesirable.

well, i don't know about you, but i've seen plenty of cheap paper books which were printed on low-quality paper, too-small typeface, dirty print, not well proofread, no illustrations or lovely cover... in the inverse of his example, i bought a cheap school (paper) edition of Pride and Prejudice to take on vacation last summer, but i was so rebuffed by the unattractive edition that i couldn't get started. i only got around to reading it when i got an ebook of it, which was infinitely more agreeable to look at (and i'm not even talking about harry's illustrated version available here, which is even *more* attractive than the one i first found, and orders of magnitude more agreeable than the paper book i had).

he calls the iliad "a fashion accessory". well naturally. i always choose my reading material to match my handbag, don't you ? but my favorite part is his conclusion as well :
Quote:
The Iliad is about the fall of a civilisation; the iLiad, aiming to render books made of paper obsolete, wants to bring about the end of a culture. Some hope!
good god !! man the pumps !!! alert the authorities !!! send up the bat-signal !!!! IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT !!!!

it sincerely amazes me how dense some people can be ! i honestly can't even understand how he could arrive at such a conclusion ; it doesn't seem to follow logically from *anything* you could possibly say about ebooks, liseuses, the act of reading... has he confused the iliad with WMDs ? seriously, who is this guy ? and where did they find him ???
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Old 07-28-2008, 08:34 AM   #7
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I wonder whether the advent of ebooks could be more important than we guess.

I'm currently working on Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris. One of the characters sees a Gutenberg printed book for the first time, looks at the church building, with its stories told in stone carving and says about the book, "This will kill that."

Hugo then adds a chapter on the significance of changing written media. Here's a quotation:

"In the fifteenth century everything changes.
Human thought discovers a mode of perpetuating itself, not only more durable and more resisting than architecture, but still more simple and easy. Architecture is dethroned. Gutenberg’s letters of lead are about to supersede Orpheus’s letters of stone.
The book is about to kill the edifice.
The invention of printing is the greatest event in history. It is the mother of revolution. It is the mode of expression of humanity which is totally renewed; it is human thought stripping off one form and donning another; it is the complete and definitive change of skin of that symbolical serpent which since the days of Adam has represented intelligence.
In its printed form, thought is more imperishable than ever; it is volatile, irresistible, indestructible. It is mingled with the air. In the days of architecture it made a mountain of itself, and took powerful possession of a century and a place. Now it converts itself into a flock of birds, scatters itself to the four winds, and occupies all points of air and space at once."

Arguably, we are at the beginning of another revolution.

(NB I'm hoping to get the book uploaded later today. The source file needed a lot of work.)
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Old 07-28-2008, 08:38 AM   #8
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Well, one would assume that he is a "book expert" and like most "experts" in their fields they truly love what they are doing. Probably to a point that anything that infringes or is perceived as a threat is bad.

I would agree from reading the article that he IS a "book expert" (one who is an expert on books). But there is the problem. We don't need reviews by "book experts" but by "reading experts" since most of us get a dedicated reader for its ability to present material to READ. We see the reader as a means to an end and not the end itself.

As more and more of the dedicated readers are making their way out in the world, it seems that it's getting easier to spot these types of book lovers. They're the ones who take pride and comfort in their collection of books, finely bound and prominently displayed. Children will not be allowed to look at them. Nor will teens. Or adults. (Sadly the only ones who will ultimately enjoy them will be the mice eating out the backs of them.) Most of them will be unread or read enough to pass in basic conversation. Some time with these people and it will be realized that it's the books themselves and not the contents, the ideas inside that they love.

Not that a good book isn't a wonderful thing. I feel sure that we all covet certain books and would take great pride in having them on our shelves. But for most of us it would be a splendid packaging of an idea (ideally in beautiful paper, crisp typeface and some sort of cover that fits the contents) and not a beautiful package that has some ideas in it.

The reader is really taking the place of the paperback at my home, not the place of my cherished books. As I can replace paper with data, I have more room and reason to collect genuinely nice hardbound editions of books that I can point to with pride and say "this is a good book", lend to friends, share with kids (if appropriate), and just have because they are great ideas in a splendid packaging.

Hmmm, it might be time for new terminology. Previously, a "book expert" also meant "reading expert" simply because to read required physical books. Now the act of reading and the physical manifestation of the book can be separated and an expert/lover in one area does not automatically imply fair standing in the other.
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Old 07-28-2008, 08:44 AM   #9
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patricia, i completely agree with that description for the advent of the printing press. that really *was* a revolution which completely overturned the existing hierarchy of knowledge by taking it out of the hands of the few (the educated priests and men of the church) and making it potentially available to *anyone*. but i personally see ebooks as an innovation more equivalent to cds or mp3s (after vinyls, etc.) than than to the printing press. it's another form of access to the text, and it is revolutionary to a certain degree and in some ways, but not in such an extreme one i don't think.

then again, if it makes previously obscure or inaccessible texts available to anyone including underdevelopped countries via internet and therefore opens up a new world of information, perhaps it *can* be equated with the democratisation of information that was first embodied by the original gutenberg press.

but in a way, revolutionary or not, the church / printing press example should serve to reassure reactionaries like Conrad : despite the invention of the printing press and the advent of increasingly cheap and widely available mass-produced texts, and some might say despite the best efforts of some, the church may no longer hold a technical monopoly on information but it is still present and going strong...
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Old 07-28-2008, 09:31 AM   #10
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The closest we've come to a printing press style revolution would be the the creation of internet as a whole. It's "freed" information in many ways, making it easy for anyone to become a "publisher" via websites/blogs/podcasts/forums, with the ability to create new content and distribute information to an audience of millions.

It's also brought the world "closer" together. Consider how many people now regularly chat and interact with people from countries all over the world. Be it playing games, talking about eBooks, or any other common interests. No longer is the only source of current information the common media TV/Radio/Newspapers. We can now read/watch/listen to information directly from people around the world countries and form our own opinions of events. That imo is along similar lines to the printing press.

Yes there's still the hurdle that many don't know how to create their own blog, their own website and some struggle to even post on forums. But is that any different to when the printing press took off and the general public didn't know how to read?

The invention of eBooks is imo nowhere near as revolutionary, it's really just a small evolutionary step such as Tapes to CDs to mp3 were.

Last edited by JoeD; 07-28-2008 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 07-28-2008, 10:05 AM   #11
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I don't understand this gripe about page turning time. The Sony Reader isn't very fast either but it never bothers me. And really, turning a paper page isn't all that fast either. I think some people expect it to be instantaneous the way CRTs are.
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Old 07-30-2008, 12:07 AM   #12
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All great points made here. I used to feel the same way. While I don't have a e-reader (yet) I don't feel this is "death to the book". My feelings were initially the same. I love my "books", the stories, the physical essence of them being in my home. However, have a small apartment, my space is limited. And truth be told, there are some books I would rather just discard, rather than have them or trade them. Not that they weren't good.. just taking up space that I really don't have.

I personally have come to this conclusion: The e-reader is NOT the death of a book. Someone recently posted that it is just merely another medium in which authors may be published. And that is just it. Think about mp3 players... it wasn't death of music.. not by a long shot. In fact, it brought forth podcasts of all sorts of shapes and sizes which people can now share the discussion of topics of interest. The music industry didn't die. Did it?

In the current day and age.... we are getting greener. Think of all the trash we will save. How much of the ozone we will restore by not getting in our cars to drive to the bookstore to purchase them. Okay, this is replaced by the consumption of power by the reader and the internet.. but no carbon emissions.

No, I personally think this is a good thing. You will always have those who are reluctant to change... and perhaps they never will. But what is important is that we, as individuals, realize the potential. In addition, that the publishers, computer technicians, and most importantly the authors themselves warm to the idea. That in and of itself is an accomplishment.
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