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Old 07-22-2010, 11:45 AM   #1
Scott Nicholson
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Why my daughter's bookstore will be 10 inches tall

I posted on my blog about my recent visit to Borders and how it felt like a museum, but the most important thing was my 10-year-old daughter, a huge reader, was way more interested in the Sony reader that didn't work--she'd trade ALL her books for an e-reader. Her sample comment:

“I like the smell of paper, but I think this would be easier because you can read any book you want, and you don’t have to carry 3,000 books everywhere you go.” And she didn’t even read the marketing material. Her generation gets it.

The whole thing is at http://hauntedcomputer.blogspot.com

I believe her generation will not have the nostalgia that causes so many people to get fightin' mad over the idea their paper books will be taken away.

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Old 07-22-2010, 12:49 PM   #2
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I'm not certain my generation has it either, actually. I think for most people, it's the idea they seize on to justify their phobia of change. If it was such a big deal, you'd see bookstores selling spray cans of "old book smell" just like you can buy "new car smell", and sales of fancy leatherbound, slipcased books would be a whole lot higher than they actually are. Most people aren't very good at examining their own thinking. They know this new/different/scary e-reader makes them uncomfortable -- "it's not what I'm used to!" is a huge roadblock for a lot of people -- so their mind fills in some kind of justification to explain it.

As I posted in another thread a month or two back, I'm a multi-sensory sort of person. I really am someone who likes the sight of rows of books on my shelves, the feel of them in my hand, the smell of new ink or old mildew, the rustle of the pages, etc. But I've transferred that to my ebook reader ... my "reading is coming!" cues are the ritual of peeling off the stretchy cover cover, opening the closing tab of the case, the smell of the leather, the feel of the power switch under my fingertip, the tiny click of the page-turn button, and so on. I like ... I depend on ... all the sensations associated with reading, or with anything else enjoyable. But there's no reason why one specific set of sensations -- those associated with reading a pbook, for instance -- are necessarily better than another set -- reading an ebook. I can enjoy them both.

I'm sort of a temporal contradiction. I write computer programming notes with a fountain pen. I read Plato on a Sony Reader. I load my MP3 player with 75-year-old radio shows. On chilly days, I wear a medieval-style cloak over my T-shirt and jeans. I see absolutely no conflict between my love of physical books and my love of electronic books. If anything, having my 505 means I can restrict my dead-trees book collection to those books that have real meaning for me in their physical form, and use the 505 for the cheap, often used, paperbacks that otherwise threaten to overwhelm them (and me, and my shelves, and my cat...).
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:53 PM   #3
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Depending on uses, I still find print books useful. No need to give up one for the other. It's not a religion.
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Old 07-22-2010, 02:00 PM   #4
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Its not a religious thing. But it *is* a cultural thing. A matter of expectations.
Yes, there will always be a place for print books but entire classes of print books *will* vanish.
Simple test: when was the last time anybody saw a door to door encyclopedia salesman?
An encyclopedia promotion at the supermarket?
I used to buy world almanacs religiously and *read* through them. Stopped long ago.
Map books.
AAA Triptiks.
All those things would make a modern ten year-old roll her eyes and snicker and mutter about "ten foot snowdrifts on the way to school".
I've seen kids as young as three take to modern electronics like fish to water; they have no preconceived notions of what the world should be like so they take it as they find it and work from there.
It'll be fun to see where they take us all.
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Old 07-22-2010, 02:14 PM   #5
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Its not a religious thing. But it *is* a cultural thing. A matter of expectations.
Yes, there will always be a place for print books but entire classes of print books *will* vanish.
Simple test: when was the last time anybody saw a door to door encyclopedia salesman?
An encyclopedia promotion at the supermarket?
I used to buy world almanacs religiously and *read* through them. Stopped long ago.
Map books.
AAA Triptiks.
All those things would make a modern ten year-old roll her eyes and snicker and mutter about "ten foot snowdrifts on the way to school".
I've seen kids as young as three take to modern electronics like fish to water; they have no preconceived notions of what the world should be like so they take it as they find it and work from there.
It'll be fun to see where they take us all.
Yes, it'll be fun to see how things develop. My nephew started enjoying iPhone games as a 1-year-old. We don't let him play with them much, though.

Print books will be around for a long time yet, partly because they're affordable, long-lasting and easily accessible. I'm talking about practical uses, not nostalgia. If they stopped printing all books tomorrow, we've still got plenty that people will keep reading. No hardware required. No money required, if you borrow.

I love e-reading. We're luckier than most, though. We can afford to choose. Many cannot. Expectations are often based on what you can afford.
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Old 07-22-2010, 03:01 PM   #6
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Map books.
Actually, I just purchased a road atlas. I don't have a smartphone, looking at large-scale maps on the GPS is a pain, and it takes time/effort to hunt down a public hotspot for the netbook. There are times when just pulling out the road atlas and looking at a paper map is the best way to plan or check a route. It's not about high tech or low tech, it's about the best tech for the job.

A quote from "Pulling Through" by Dean Ing, a man who (along with being a damn good writer) is, among other things, an aerospace engineer:

Quote:
d office so that gravity swung it open, and Ern's dictum to avoid an automatic door closer. That would've required a selenium cell, pressure plate, or capacitance switch—all fallible—when all I needed, quoth ol' Ern, was a handle.
You use whatever gets the job done most reliably. Don't build an automatic door closer when what you need is a handle (says the gadget freak who has ThinkGeek on speed dial).

(by the way, "Pulling Through" is included in the ebook "The Rackham Files", which you can buy at Baen; I highly recommend it)
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Old 07-22-2010, 04:24 PM   #7
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I'm not talking about suitability, though, but of expectations.
Door handles are great inventions.
And map books (especially historical ones) are fascinating; I have a bunch.
I'm just not sure that the kids that grow up with a plastic ebook reader in their back pocket are going to value the permanence of a print edition over the convenience of an online mapping app.

On the fiction front; I'm rather fond of Asimov's "THE FEELING OF POWER".

"Nine times seven, thought Shuman with deep satisfaction, is sixty-three, and I don't need a computer to tell me so. The computer is in my own head.

And it was amazing the feeling of power that gave him. "
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Old 07-22-2010, 04:32 PM   #8
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I'm just not sure that the kids that grow up with a plastic ebook reader in their back pocket are going to value the permanence of a print edition over the convenience of an online mapping app.
Whose expectations, though? If you can afford an e-reader for your kid, that will be his expectation, I'd guess. Many people can't afford 'em, though. I think prices will fall, but market penetration will take lots of time.
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Old 07-22-2010, 06:13 PM   #9
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Whose expectations, though? If you can afford an e-reader for your kid, that will be his expectation, I'd guess. Many people can't afford 'em, though. I think prices will fall, but market penetration will take lots of time.
Define time, please.

I expect ready availability of US$49 ereaders by 2015.
Blister packs in drugstore aisles and whatever B&M bookstores survive.

Or:

How prevalent are cellphones?
I expect many smartphone features will migrate to feature phones.
I don't think the US will ever go the way of Japan with a massive ebook market focused almost exclusively on cellphone reading but there's 100 million iPhones out there and an ever growing number or Blackberries, Androids, and Palm phones all of which are ebook-capable.

Or:

How soon willl we see plastic-substrate ebook readers in the K-12 education market? (See pricing above.)
Pocketbook global is launching their 901 model on the back of contracts for their use now in schools in Ukraine and are reportedly in talks with India. Plenty of school districts in the US are evaluating iPads for etextbook use.

The technology is straight out of the cellphone playbook.
The only thing holding it back are the screens but since it is a massive potential market everybody wants a piece of it.

Or:

Nintendo is marketing an ebook reader pack for their DS game box.
They are talking about settingup some kind of download service to go with it.
V-Tech and Leapfrog are currently marketing ebook readers for kids, both well under $100 ($59, I think)
It's coming.

Yes, it's early and mostly a US middle-class thing for now but they'll transcend national and class boundaries soon enough. Its already doing so. Smartphones and Webpads should be very helpful there.

The only long-term limits on ebook reading are the same as for any kind of reading; literacy.

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Old 07-22-2010, 07:24 PM   #10
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Depends on many circumstances, but I don't see schools moving to e-books for years beyond 2015. I think they're more likely to switch with tablets, rather than e-readers, because e-readers aren't serviceable enough for studying purposes, as various Kindle trials have shown. The cost of tablets will have to come down enough so that schools can afford to hand them out to every student. Public schools cannot demand that parents equip their kids with tablets. Many will not be able to afford them, especially if they have several children. Schools might have to subsidize needy families' purchases, or be sued for in effect denying children an equal education. With many state governments (the source of most school funding) in poor fiscal shape, that's going to be a painful upfront cost. I think that, not technology, will delay the transition.

Of course, private schools can move much more quickly; some have started. Again, we're back to finances determining expectations.

I'm basing this on available knowledge. There are scenarios that could speed the transition. For instance, Apple or other tablet makers might offer to subsidize tablet costs in exchange for exclusive deals, etc. And of course I dunno how quickly tablet costs will drop, depending on how quickly they penetrate the mass market.
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Old 07-22-2010, 08:41 PM   #11
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I posted on my blog about my recent visit to Borders and how it felt like a museum, but the most important thing was my 10-year-old daughter, a huge reader, was way more interested in the Sony reader that didn't work--she'd trade ALL her books for an e-reader. Her sample comment:
Hey Scott. Get your daughter the e-book reader and let her alone with the device. How many kids are reading (e-)books for fun today? There are certainly worse gifts than one of these devices.

With her advanced reading skills she will be a step ahead.

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Old 07-23-2010, 10:48 AM   #12
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Hey Scott. Get your daughter the e-book reader and let her alone with the device. How many kids are reading (e-)books for fun today? There are certainly worse gifts than one of these devices.

With her advanced reading skills she will be a step ahead.
Totally agree. One of the biggest favors one of my teachers did for me when I told her I was bored was to tell me "Go read a book!" I was around your daughters age & has been a life long habit ever since.

So go on back to that Borders & get her one!
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Old 07-23-2010, 07:07 PM   #13
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Public Schools have always demanded some financial expenditures from parents, such as for school books, even more so for extra curricular activities, so I can see parents being expected to buy tablets for their little darlings in the future. It probably would save money in the long run. Buying and selling school books is such a racket.
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Old 07-23-2010, 09:35 PM   #14
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Public Schools have always demanded some financial expenditures from parents, such as for school books, even more so for extra curricular activities, so I can see parents being expected to buy tablets for their little darlings in the future. It probably would save money in the long run. Buying and selling school books is such a racket.
College kids pay for books, of course. You're not legally guaranteed a college education. U.S. kids are legally entitled to education through high school, and their parents don't pay for textbooks (outside of taxes). There's a difference between paying for an extracurricular activity (voluntary) and paying for something you're legally entitled to.

As for whether it would save money, the question is whether schools can come up with the upfront costs. It would save money to do many things upfront, but states often do them incrementally, because they don't have all the money upfront. That's why it takes them forever to do many big projects.
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Old 07-23-2010, 10:51 PM   #15
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I posted on my blog about my recent visit to Borders and how it felt like a museum, but the most important thing was my 10-year-old daughter, a huge reader, was way more interested in the Sony reader that didn't work--she'd trade ALL her books for an e-reader. Her sample comment:

“I like the smell of paper, but I think this would be easier because you can read any book you want, and you don’t have to carry 3,000 books everywhere you go.” And she didn’t even read the marketing material. Her generation gets it.

The whole thing is at http://hauntedcomputer.blogspot.com

I believe her generation will not have the nostalgia that causes so many people to get fightin' mad over the idea their paper books will be taken away.

Scott Nicholson
Did you get her a reader or are you going to get her a reader?
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