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Old 09-15-2006, 11:12 AM   #1
yvanleterrible
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Question Is Paper Stubbornness Generational?

It is now often said that older people will not read anything else than books printed to paper. So I believed until I started on this trek.
A little while ago, just about when the first widely published news of the existence of e-ink surfaced, I started asking around my surroundings if anyone had heard about it. To my surprise, although not quite completely, no one did, not a snippet, blank stares, then...

-"Oh! That thing on Discovery! I did'nt quite... get the concept!"

And there start the long explanations about the little bicolored spheres changing orientation between charged grids and of the e-books we’ll soon be able to read...

-"E-books ?"
-"Yes e-books, "e" for electronic books that are in digital form, like before printing. You can read them on a computer a PDA or some other gadget."

After the instruction of several people I suddenly realized that I'd become an e-ink evangelist. I took to it quite quickly and I must admit, with a certain pleasure. In everyone I met I managed to instill a certain curiosity about the subject and got very passionate answers from those in total denial. Every teaching was different in its responses, mainly; people did not react as predicted. In the most striking answers, my father's came second as unexpected. A gentleman, classical musician and teacher, he is husband to a brilliant historian, my mother, writing her seventh book on a PC. He categorically refuses to accept the computer as a whole. Even music in portable MP3 format clashes with his sensitivity. But when informed about e-ink and e-books, he opened his mouth...and paused...a long time, and said...

-" That could be interesting!"

Of course I'll have to do the collecting and the formatting but it is with great anticipation that I look forward to the sharing of readings with such a fine educated gentleman.

My main surprise was all in the opposite direction. While at a family gathering, after a copious meal I found myself seated next to one of my nephews. As it is now a custom, following the traditional salutations I immediately came to my baby subject of e-ink.
First I must mention that this young man represented the Green Party in his district for the last two Canadian federal elections, and gathered a record 6% of votes. Quit a feat indeed, proving his worth and competence in the ecology field.
After starting my spiel and then extracting a 2 GB SD card out of the digital flash video camera I always carry, I told him...

-"This card can carry 5,000 e-books, the whole of what I can manage to read for the rest of my life. We'll soon be able to do that. Is'nt it great?"

-"What!" he says "I don't want to! I love the feel of paper between my fingers and its smell, and the heft of the book and to see them all in the library. I like to stand in front of them all and be able to browse through the pages without purpose and look at the pictures..."

-" You'll still be able to do that with PDF. You'll even be able to listen to MP3s while reading."
Being computer savvy he agrees and then again resists...

-"But I love books?"

-"You'll still have them around, and also in a new portable library that you can easily carry with you everywhere. Also, don't you realize the impact books have on nature, the woods are being cut faster than they can grow, the bleaching of paper pollutes rivers, you have to build libraries to house your books, many inks pollute and poison, only half the paper is adequately recycled..."

-"Yeah! I know I know, but I won't have it, I'll keep my books as they are."

I gave up as soon as I recognized in him the stubborn young man I once was.

This all brings me to this. Have you met these symtoms? Have you ruffled feathers around you? What do you think the impact will be on e-books?

I'll tell you what I found out later in this thread.
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Old 09-15-2006, 11:39 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yvanleterrible
This all brings me to this. Have you met these symtoms? Have you ruffled feathers around you? What do you think the impact will be on e-books?
Yep... Everytime I mention items like the Illiad... I think its going to be the same as mp3's and Vynl/Cds... For a long time people couldn't see the point of buying iPods because of the cost. But once you get to a point where the device is easy to use (and perhaps more importantly) when its easy to buy content to put on the device, then you will get mainstream adoption of e-print.

In about 20 years I would guess buying print books is going to seem as old-fashioned as buying vynl...
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Old 09-15-2006, 12:28 PM   #3
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Can't wait til they make a PADD with an LCARS file system
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Old 09-15-2006, 05:35 PM   #4
yvanleterrible
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kosst Amojan
Can't wait til they make a PADD with an LCARS file system
Don't you think this gadget is on the way to do it? http://www.mobileread.com/forums/sho...?threadid=7616
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Old 09-19-2006, 11:40 AM   #5
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I thought more of you had to deal with non knowledgeable people about e-books but okay! Here it goes!

This is not scientific but is what I found out. The answers that I requested in both genrations turned out this way.
50% of people in the older generations were for e-books, 30% against and 20% with no idea. In the younger folks, 50% for, 10% against, 40% with no idea.

This does not mean that older people are techies, only that most younger people have no wish to read period. To me this is the biggest hurdle for e-book readers, more than DRM and price...
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Old 09-22-2006, 09:16 AM   #6
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Interesting assumption yvanleterrible ... does this really mean young people have no wish to read, or does it mean they have no wish to read "books" - you asked about e-books, not e-readers ...
...perhaps (young) people do read, just not in the format of books anymore.
...just a thought ...
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Old 09-22-2006, 11:05 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdam
Interesting assumption yvanleterrible ... does this really mean young people have no wish to read, or does it mean they have no wish to read "books" - you asked about e-books, not e-readers ...
...perhaps (young) people do read, just not in the format of books anymore.
...just a thought ...
There are'nt too many voluntary reading categories.
Books comprising novels and essays; mostly entertainment stuff. And then there are news and learning info. Most of the young people I know read about gaming, cars, computers and the occasional, but rarer, fantasy novel.
But they do read for work or study. This category alone does not justify the expense of a reader unless they are doing higher studies, or that it be required by a superior.
Novels are a passion. This alone is justification to any extraneous expense. In these days of continual media bombardment, the time needed to apply at reading is shorter, and passions are different.
While growing up in a small rural community, with lots of time at hand, reading was the only way to keep sane. I read a lot! I had to! Today unless you are asocial or disfunctional in voluntary or unvoluntary way, there is to much to do. I can understand why many young people don't read, I probably would do the same, but fortunately I love books. I wish every one would do too.

An e-reader is too expensive to be a toy, they won't buy it unless it's required for a higher purpose, or that it comprises a slew of bells and whistles like most toys they grew up with, but that is a touchy philosophical subject I rather not discuss here.
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Old 09-22-2006, 11:32 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yvanleterrible
An e-reader is too expensive to be a toy, they won't buy it unless it's required for a higher purpose, or that it comprises a slew of bells and whistles like most toys they grew up with, but that is a touchy philosophical subject I rather not discuss here.
I think you are still thinking of devices like the Illiad or the Sony Reader as "book" readers, rather just a "reader". My Illiad has much more on it now than just "Books". Technical documentation, travel information and maps, brochures, magazines, newspapers, receipts from website ordering and bank transfers for reference (print as PDF) just to name a few types of PDF. Oh, and you will find the odd book...
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Old 09-22-2006, 11:43 AM   #9
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In these days of continual media bombardment ... there is to much to do.
These are precisely the sorts of things that I'm trying to excape for a while by reading!
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Old 09-22-2006, 04:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by yvanleterrible
An e-reader is too expensive to be a toy, they won't buy it unless it's required for a higher purpose
So ingoning the bells and whistles theme - I agree, not for discussion here. What was the higher purpose of the PDA (a $200 diary/phonebook for most buyers) or the higher purpose of the iPod?

I agree about the additction of novels being a reason, but as people spend more (too much!) time working, and part of their work could involve media review (blogs, news, corporate intranets, journals) document review (procedures, proposals, whitepapers, essays) as well as traditional manuals, texts, handbooks et al - doesn't such a reader suddenly have expanded uses beyond traditional tomes that would or could be compelling?
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Old 10-01-2006, 12:48 PM   #11
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I think you all may be touching on something that you don't quite want to accept. It may be that e-readers will become successful... but the e-book won't be the thing that gets them there.

It's been pointed out that kids "don't read," or to be more specific, they don't read novels much. However, they do voraciously read magazines. (You wander by a newsstand, and you tell me if all the mags you see on those shelves are being bought by adults!) Magazines are short articles (and occasionally stories), pictures and color, and ads everywhere. An e-reader can take advantage of this by adding sound and motion to an e-magazine. Assuming that sound and video isn't just the ads, what kid wouldn't go for that?

Textbooks are also experimenting with e-book distribution. Based on the loads of books I've seen students carry (not to mention the loaded-down backpacks, and doctor's warnings about permanent back injury to young kids), texts will eventually be a huge e-book market.

The adults are often not against the idea of an e-reader, but don't see where it fits into their lives yet. They will probably be swayed by an iPod/iTunes-easy service, in something they already do. Newspapers are the natural product here. Some newspaper publishers are working on giving away e-readers with an e-newspaper subscription. The right price point and ease-of-use, not to mention hammering home the conservation of paper resources and slowing Global Warming, will convert newspaper readers to e-readers.

So, as much as we novel writers would like to think we will deliver the e-book market to viability and profitability, I think we'll have to settle for "also-ran" status here. In other words: "I bought my e-reader to get the morning paper, and to read Popular Science and Scientific American every month. And oh, yeah, the occasional novel."

However...

Writers, do not despair. Presently, the e-book market is chock-full of romance novels... the dominant book type by far. Romance novels are feel-good stories, short and sweet, easy to read on the bus, hanging out at the laundromat, at lunch, etc. They tend to be low in cost, and so are considered disposable. It is also a bit more private... it's easier for those who might feel embarassed to be found reading romance novels to hide the content, since there's no cover to expose. So romance e-books take advantage of the best aspects of e-readers.

That teaches us that the right material will help make its own e-book market. If you want to be a big e-book writer, therefore, figure out what genre will draw people into the market. It might be comics. It might be self-help books. It might be TV show novelizations (check out the Star Trek and Star Wars markets). It might be porn. (Hey, I had to say it!)

I think it's inevitable that e-readers will be mainstream. The interesting part of the equation remains, what content will get them there.

Last edited by Steven Lyle Jordan; 10-01-2006 at 12:58 PM.
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Old 10-01-2006, 03:30 PM   #12
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I think it's inevitable that e-readers will be mainstream. The interesting part of the equation remains, what content will get them there.
I think that the first adopters (after us gadget-people) will definately be the textbook crowd, followed quickly by those of us who need to have several (hundred?) pounds of reference books for our jobs.

After that, I don't know.

I know that, for me, I have several years of backlogged public domain books that I want to read. Not to mention all the eBooks that I've "acquired" over the years. Then there's the new stuff that appears on Fictionwise weekly, and the authors who use Creative Commons.

I have a feeling that by the time eBooks are adopted by the majority of people, I'll be on my 3rd one, having worn out the two previous ones.
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