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Old 06-17-2010, 02:54 AM   #31
Worldwalker
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These things bring pleasure only through association with the pleasure of reading.
Yes, this is quite true. I doubt if anyone (well, anyone sane, which probably excludes most hardcore foodies) gets major pleasure out of admiring pictures of beautiful plates of food they will never eat. However, engaging other senses can enhance the primary activity.

Continuing with my food analogy, there's a reason why a full meal mushed together into sort of a meatloaf is used by prisons as a punishment, not by restaurants. It's the same thing, isn't it? After all, as my mother used to tell me when I carefully kept my peas separate from my mashed potatoes, it all gets mixed together in your stomach anyway. Think how much more convenient fast food would be if they just put your burger, fries, and drink in a blender, and served it up like a shake, maybe with an extra-long straw, so you could drink it on the road without even having to take it out of your car's cupholder. I haven't seen McD's doing that, though, and they'll do anything that makes a penny, so I have to presume there's just not much market demand. While eating is about ingesting nutrients, just like reading is about ingesting words, the way we ingest them, and the setting we ingest them in, can enhance or detract from our enjoyment of the activity.

Maybe most people only use one sense at a time. I wouldn't know; I can only go by my own feelings.

And here's a weird one ...

I was going to write about how, when I was a kid, my uncle gave me some old books he'd read as a boy, books which I avidly read but, like most of my books, I eventually traded in at the used bookstore (which I have regretted for many years). One of those books was "The Boy Scouts' First Camp Fire", and there were a couple of the Tom Swift books, etc. My uncle died many years ago, but those books started me on my hobby of collecting the old boys' series books. Well ... as I was writing this, just on a whim I googled my uncle's name. He was probably the only person in the country with his highly unusual name, and certainly the only one in his very small hometown in 1936. That's when, as I just found out, he -- a Boy Scout -- swam out and saved a child from drowning when a boat overturned during a school outing; she was one of only three survivors out of the fifteen children who had been on that boat. I listened to a recording of her (now, of course, an elderly lady) describing the tragedy for an oral history project. My uncle was a hero. I never knew.

I wish I still had his books. I wonder if those stories of heroic boys inspired him to rescue that little drowning girl. When I handle the old books, I always think about the people who first owned them, the ones who ordered them from the lists at the back of the book ... $1, cloth-bound, with color dust jacket ... maybe slipped off to read them when they should have been doing their chores, or read them at night before bed. There's a connection with the past there, in holding the things they held. I have "The Boy Scouts' First Camp Fire" on my Sony Reader. I've read it again, and it's still a fine book. But I wish I still had the book, the exact physical book, that had been owned by, and read by, and maybe inspired, my uncle.

And now I've been thrown totally off ... not even sure what I was meaning to write, or where I was going with this post. I suppose I should go back and edit it, and take out the stuff about my uncle, and keep the focus on the whole multi-sensory thing. But what the heck, I'll toss it up there as it is. I'm a little freaked out at the moment; it's kind of startling to find out about something like that.
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:08 AM   #32
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I find tradeoffs between e-books and print books.

I like history books and am finding that I'm missing the convenience of laying print books side by side and quickly flipping through for comparison's sake. For instance, when I read about a historic event that jogs my memory about something in another book, I sometimes want to cross-check.

I think that might come up with textbooks and other nonfiction reading. People who read only fiction probably are less likely to encounter that problem.

There's also historic value to print books. The Jefferson collection at the Library of Congress is a sight to behold, for instance:
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/overview.html

From a personal perspective: I've bought print books while abroad, and it's nice to still have 'em in their non-U.S. forms, with covers that vary from the U.S. versions, with the foreign price stickers and such, and to remember walking down such and such a street and exploring a specific bookstore. I find that evocative, nostalgic quality lacking in e-books.

Likewise, I remember the covers and illustrations of books I read as a kid, and that was part of the reading experience that I miss. To see the same book with the same cover today, for instance, would be like picking up a Life cereal box with Mikey on the front. A trip back in time.
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:43 PM   #33
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I do have to admit that there are some things about paper books that possess a certain charm that eReaders may not be able to reproduce. Things like mis-aligned, faded text... The smell of old paper.... yellowing of pages, random left behind notes of a used book, the ability to rapidly flip through it... papercuts (actual, this one I can do without)...

It seems like a sense of charm may come from imperfections and unique qualities. Turning words digital and displaying them perfectly everytime just about kills any of that "charm" you may find appealing in a book. You no longer own something that you can uniquely call yours (even if the uniqueness is just in the frayed corners or wrinkled front cover).

This could be compared to how some people just cannot stand music that is digitally produced like trance, techno, etc. They think it's soulless and robotic.


that is a nice point, I didn't even think of that at first. But you are spot on. I always liked a little defect here and there in a book.
I also loved the old defects of when the paper were cut and differen lenghts. Not what you see today where it is done on some books for "looks" but the real ones, where the edges weren't a clean cut etc.

If I can find an authentic one, no matter what the book or author, I usually buy it. Nothing like a great small time bookstore on a mainstreet.
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Old 06-17-2010, 02:06 PM   #34
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that is a nice point, I didn't even think of that at first. But you are spot on. I always liked a little defect here and there in a book.
I also loved the old defects of when the paper were cut and differen lenghts. Not what you see today where it is done on some books for "looks" but the real ones, where the edges weren't a clean cut etc.

If I can find an authentic one, no matter what the book or author, I usually buy it. Nothing like a great small time bookstore on a mainstreet.
There are plenty of defects and imperfections in ebooks. However, those are "flaws" and in no way contribute towards what most nostalgic people think of as "character".
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:06 PM   #35
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Then came MP3s and they were going to kill CDs. Music shops still exist, CDs are still bought and sold. Now of the people I know who buy MP3s still buy a CD of their favourite music and only buy MP3s for mainstream songs they like to have. I do the same with ebooks, buy mainstream books that I want to read but buy the paperbacks of books that I really like and for no real recognised reason I just want to have sitting on my shelf.
I pretty agree with you but I think that the two things are a bit different. The need to collect real objects (CDs and books to put on your shelves) is the same in both cases but I think that with a CD the way you are approaching music is a bit different if compared with a digital album.

As someone was saying you are listening to the music with the booklet in your hands and your attention is all there... but when you download an album the first thing you do is listening to it on your computer and it's practically impossible to stay focused on music in front of a monitor. So I see a lack of attention in the way a user approaches "digital music" that is something new (and bad) compared to the "old style" and IMO that's also a reason why we are still buying CDs. We still can perceive a difference.

But I don't see the same difference of approach between reading a book or reading on a device so I think that with books the change will be more relevant than the one we are seeing with music.
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:04 PM   #36
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These discussions can frankly amaze me.

I'll be fifty this year. Needless to say, I grew up with books. Great ones and silly ones. I've got hundreds of them. But when I read, I am capable of becoming completely engrossed in the book. And when I'm engrossed, it doesn't matter if I'm in my home, on a beach or on a commuter train, reading from paper, PC or cellphone... I see and hear nothing of that. I am only aware of the book, and even the process of advancing to the next page happens unconsciously, a reflex I barely notice.

When I hear about all the preparations some people need to read and enjoy a book, I can only think: There must be something wrong with the book, if it can't hold your attention without immersing yourself in an isolation environment.

And when I hear about the "touch, feel and smell" of paper, I can only think: You're engaging all but the proper organs... the eyes, and the mind. Put the rest on standby, and read your book!

I'm not saying I pity anyone who can't "read a Great Novel on an eReader," or anything like that. But I do think you might want to work on those concentration skills...
I have ADD; what the heck are concentration skills (oh look, a butterfly)? Still, I can read and be fully absorbed by what I'm reading in almost any environment (standing in a driving rain does dampen my enthusiasm somewhat). However, having a quiet place with nice scenery, certain comforts on hand, someone's head resting on my knee (oops), etc. can enhance the reading experience.
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:10 PM   #37
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...I gave a book that I really liked to a neighbors kid who likes to read. He gave it back. He NEVER reads used books...
The story loses its flavor on the bedpost overnight?
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:28 PM   #38
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I do have to admit that there are some things about paper books that possess a certain charm that eReaders may not be able to reproduce. Things like mis-aligned, faded text... The smell of old paper.... yellowing of pages, random left behind notes of a used book, the ability to rapidly flip through it... papercuts (actual, this one I can do without)...
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that is a nice point, I didn't even think of that at first. But you are spot on. I always liked a little defect here and there in a book.
Seriously?

I think back to books with text so faded, I could barely read it against the text showing through from the back of the stupidly thin pages... books bought from used bookstores with library stamps on every few pages, or on the page edges... torn and missing pages... notes about something that was obviously important to someone else, but not to me. I don't consider any of these "defects" as positive additions to a book.
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:45 PM   #39
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Max Planck once said "Science advances one funeral at a time." So will it be with e-books. Over time, the people who must read a book on paper will all grow old and die. And future generations of young people who will be the future generations of adults will never give electronic book reading a second thought, because it is perfectly normal to them. (Okay, there may be an occasional fad of nostalgia for the past, but it will pass, as fads do.)

The mistake every person who resists change because "we never did it that way before" is in thinking that the future belongs to them-- it doesn't.
Absolutely brilliant post

So true about so many things. Most people cling to the familiar, and refuse to see that change is the way of the world. There are still groups that refuse to use an automobile, and instead use a horse and buggy. But over time, the outdated technology's become nothing more than curiosity's.

I bet somewhere there is still a little sect still using scrolls.....
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Old 06-17-2010, 08:19 PM   #40
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PSA: There is no circumstance under which a word is pluralized by use of an apostrophe.

I wouldn't be surprised to find out the the British heralds still use scrolls. It's the kind of thing they'd do.

As far as the perceived necessity of using the most recently-developed technology and throwing anything older on the rubbish heap: Hogwash.

People still have clocks and watches with hands (hands!) when digital watches have been available for decades. They still buy wooden furniture when perfectly good plastic furniture can be bought at any Wal-Mart. They even keep live pets when little robot puppies are available. And have you ever seen a C-130? It's got actual *whispers* propellers instead of righteously modern jet engines. There are people who still cling to antiquated languages like English instead of learning Esperanto. And, confidentially, I've heard there are even people who still study Latin! Why are all these people refusing to see that change is the way of the world, and throwing out their analog watches, burning their wooden furniture, and signing up for Esperanto lessons?

Maybe there are other considerations than how new something is?

In many things, but especially in those things we do for entertainment, there are more factors involved than how quickly a task can be completed, or how bleeding-edge the tools used for it might be. Aesthetic issues matter. Ask any single-malt Scotch drinker to trade you a bottle of his favorite brand for a precisely-calibrated mix of ethanol and water, with his choice of synthetic flavorings (cherry, bubblegum, blue raspberry...) and you'll be lucky not to get your offering returned directly in your face. An art collector is no more likely to look kindly on your offer to swap his Frederic Edwin Church original for a poster-sized photograph of the same scene.

Why should anyone draw or paint when we have digital cameras?

Why should anyone ride a bicycle when we have cars?

Why should anyone bake cookies when every grocery store sells them?

Why should anyone drive a classic 'Vette when they could have a new Toyota?

Why should anyone climb a cliff when there's a road up the back side?

Why should anyone participate in a tea ceremony when all they need is a teabag?

Why should anyone ... well, do anything in any way but the most modern, most efficient, most high-tech way?

Neither modernity nor high technology is a virtue unto itself, and efficiency is often the antithesis of pleasure.

I'm a bit of a contradiction. My ebook reader is a Sony PRS-505, and probably will be until it stops working. It's in a cover made of processed animal skins instead of titanium or polycarbonate or something else suitably modern. The book I just finished reading (this one) was written almost a hundred years ago. When I'm not typing on a computer, I write with a fountain pen. There's a straw broom propped up next to my Roomba. I'm listening to MP3s of Renaissance-era music performed on period instruments. I play World of Warcraft and chess; in fact, I've been known to play chess in WoW. My cooking relies on the freezer and the microwave, but I also bake sourdough bread from scratch (or I did until my starter died). I have compact fluorescents inside my stained-glass lamps.

What it comes down to, really, is what you enjoy. I'm one of the people who likes to savor the journey, not just warp directly to the destination. Not only your mileage but your route may vary.

And now, having ranted long enough, I'm going to go read a great novel on an eReader.
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Old 06-17-2010, 08:43 PM   #41
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Absolutely brilliant post

So true about so many things. Most people cling to the familiar, and refuse to see that change is the way of the world. There are still groups that refuse to use an automobile, and instead use a horse and buggy. But over time, the outdated technology's become nothing more than curiosity's.

I bet somewhere there is still a little sect still using scrolls.....
Don't you be messin' with my scrolls!

All seriousness aside, you are so right that most people cling to the familiar (heck, I'm still on XP). Well, time to feed the horse.
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:13 PM   #42
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...As far as the perceived necessity of using the most recently-developed technology and throwing anything older on the rubbish heap: Hogwash...

People still have clocks and watches with hands (hands!) when digital watches have been available for decades...

I'm a bit of a contradiction...
I had to laugh at parts of your post (although you make a good point). You're not the only contradiction. I wear an analog dial watch because I work Renaissance Festivals and have to keep track of time (I hide the watch under my sleeve). Since I don't wear my 21st century glasses (they had glasses in the 16th century but they are a pain in neck to wear) and I'm pretty much blind from about 10 foot in (I wear trifocals), I have to have a watch that I can see without glasses. A large dial analog works fine for that. I have a mix of analog and digital clocks scattered around the house; the analogs for distance when I don't have my glasses on and the digitals to fill in the gaps. Digitals are more accurate but analogs are easier for me to see, especailly at a glance.

To keep an already too long post from becoming too much longer. There is nothing wrong with keeping some older technology while being willing to adopt new technology. I grew up and lived much of my adult life before cell phones became available (and the early ones were monsters). I have a bare bones cell phone and plan for emergency use only but I'm comfortable with not being connected at the hip (lip?) 24/7. But at the same time, I've become dependent on computers. I accept new technology when I need it but will still cling to the old when I prefer it. But then, I'm old (61).
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Old 06-18-2010, 12:43 AM   #43
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I guess the fella has never read a great novel on an ereader.
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Old 06-18-2010, 12:53 AM   #44
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I'm actually more likely to read the "great books" on my ereader than I'm likely to either buy them or take them out of the library. I've already got 100 that came with the reader, some that I've always been meaning to read. I haven't actually used my library in years; most the genre books that I like come out only in paperback and my library doesn't buy them, and their SciFi section is abysmal.

But man, if you want sagas about an Irish girl who emigrates to the USA in the early 1900's and subsequently founds a family empire, or stories about 40-ish women whose husbands divorce them for a younger model and who have to subsequently face a life-threatening condition alone, then that's your library.
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Old 06-18-2010, 06:19 AM   #45
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Here's the thing, the people that say they wouldn't read a great novel on an ebook reader haven't tried one, at least not a decent one.

Cause if they had, they wouldn't say that.

Once you discover that all you have to do is push the page turn button and read, as fast as you can read the words, well there is no going back to paper.
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