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The Evolution of Reading In the Digital Age

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the can't-wait-until-we-need-to-patch-our-books dept.

Books 143

Doofus writes "'Print is dying. Digital is surging. Everyone is confused.' is the subtitle of Craig Mod's thoughtful discussion aboutthe evolution of reading material from printed dead-tree to flowing digital content. I stumbled upon his blog post from a related NYTimes article, Former Book Designer Says Good Riddance to Print. He breaks reading material down into two basic categories: 'Formless,' in which the content and meaning of the writing has no dependency on presentation, and 'Definite,' in which layout and presentation play a role in conveying meaning. Mod makes the point that as digital presentation improves, devices such as the iPad will bring authors newer and improved platforms upon which to display Definite content. Despite this, he says, some works will be better consumed in physical print because 'They're books that embrace their physicality or have stood the test of time. They're the kinds of books the iPad can't displace because they're complete objects.'"

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143 comments

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Ahh. (4, Funny)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381248)

Like pop-up books. Or scratch-n-sniff.

Re:Ahh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381818)

This guy is way too artsy-fartsy. The books I read are just a matter of getting the information. I'd like to see a "Definite" content item that's not a catalog or a sales brochure. I don't care so much about aesthetics as long as the text of the book is clearly legible. I just want a convenient and portable and open format.

Definite and Formless (5, Insightful)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381258)

Also known as PDF and anything but PDF. PDF and fixed layout where it's needed, but please stop producing novels as PDF. They don't reflow nicely on smaller screens.

Re:Definite and Formless (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381948)

PDF and fixed layout where it's needed, but please stop producing novels as PDF. They don't reflow nicely on smaller screens. Depends on the software (and device, I suppose) you're suing to read the PDF... some are quite configurable.

*gavel* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31382000)

Objection, you're out of order!!!!

Re:*gavel* (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382316)

What do you expect from a person who sues his software? :-)

Print is dying. Digital is surging-Nobody confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381272)

Except for the print dinosaurs that are little more than scare merchants for fretful mothers and defenders of the status quo. The dead tree merchants are the only ones confused. And they think they only need a re-branding when what they need is what they will get - nothing. You will become history because of your sad performance.

Re:Print is dying. Digital is surging-Nobody confu (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381302)

Um, I don't think any "merchants" are confused. It is the publishers that are confused. Book stores as a whole have embraced E-Readers, look at Amazon and the Kindle and Barnes and Noble and the Nook. Other than Borders and a few other stores, the rest basically specialize in cheap books, something that E-readers lack (and pre-1920s works only get you so far) and book exchanges.

Read this to someone in a third world country (2, Funny)

voodoo cheesecake (1071228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381282)

Save the books..... burn the ipads!

Problems.... (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381288)

The main problems with e-readers is A) books are expensive B) there are no libraries. How many people actually -buy- all the books they read? Yes, occasionally there is the odd book where the waiting list in the library would give me a copy sometime in the next decade and I will buy a book. Or the odd book on sale at Barnes and Nobel for $3 that is a hardback, and occasionally I wish to annotate a classic work of literature so I will buy it, but for the rest, I just go to a library. As for newspapers, I generally don't read any. I don't see the point. Any community event traditionally advertised in the local paper is easily found via Facebook or Twitter. National or international news is best found online where you can see all sides of the story rather than the one or two expressed via print media. It allows for more specialized interest stories, good luck finding a newspaper with coverage as complete as even Endgadget. Newspapers also rarely follow up stories or allow for user feedback except for some cherry picked editorials.

In short, E-Readers aren't going to replace print media when it comes to literature and print is already dead for most people under 40 for news.

Re:Problems.... (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381348)

The main problems with e-readers is A) books are expensive B) there are no libraries.

You forgot DRM.

Re:Problems.... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381370)

Yes, but DRM is going to go away much like with music. Perhaps even faster when people start adding programs to the E-readers, wouldn't it be nice to have a search feature that searches all public domain sites, the book stores, and torrents to find the best solution for you?

Re:Problems.... (3, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381378)

Actually, DRM enables e-book libraries. There are quite a few libraries actively loaning out e-books.

Re:Problems.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381652)

So does no DRM. What's the point on putting an expiration on something that won't affect other people? It's not like physical books where there are finite copies on the shelves.

Re:Problems.... (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381706)

Simple: Gaining consent within the existing legal framework.

Re:Problems.... (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382060)

Simple: Gaining consent within the existing legal framework.

The problem with that is that building upon the existing legal framework amounts to an endorsement of that framework. It gives the illusion that the framework "works" and is not fundamentally broken whenever such products are successful in spite of it. It further entrenches something that really should be reformed.

Besides, there's nothing under the current legal framework that would prevent the copyright holder from releasing a DRM-free electronic copy of a book to a library. They are free to do that anytime they want. For the most part, they prefer to restrict information and it is those restrictions that the legal framework enables.

The main reform I would advocate is a return to a 12-year copyright term. Twelve years was considered adequate back when the most advanced technology for the dissemination of information was movable type. Now during those same twelve years a publisher can produce many more copies at a much lower cost, reach many more people, and make more sales. Yet that's not good enough for them because copyright has become another entitlement. Once this mentality is changed, namely by society's refusal to continue supporting it, I believe that related issues like DRM will rather easily sort themselves out.

Re:Problems.... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382098)

You honestly expect all libraries to either only offer drm free e-books or wait for copyright reform?

(Also, I think you may be overestimating the costs of reproduction and underestimating the costs of production)

Re:Problems.... (5, Insightful)

maztuhblastah (745586) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381682)

Actually, DRM enables e-book libraries. There are quite a few libraries actively loaning out e-books.

And that, dear reader, is an excellent example of why our entire notion of copyright and intellectual property is horribly, horribly wrong.

The *only*, I repeat: *only*, reason for a library to lend books was so that more than one person might access them over a period of time. Lending is a vestige of when information was inseparably bound to the media upon which it was printed; lending and late fees were necessitated by the scarcity of the good itself.

We live in a different world now, one in which that scarcity is purely artificial. The purpose of public libraries -- to use public funds to provide public access to books and the like -- remains the same. Our notion of copyright, however, has shifted from that of an incentive to contribute towards a society's creative output to a sense of entitlement. At first, copyright functioned to reward those contributors with a limited-term grant of exclusive rights to their contribution. Those same contributors now view it as their god-given right to profit from said contribution in perpetuity. Worse still, this corruption of copyright's purpose has endangered the modern function of libraries by encouraging the use of restrictive technologies to enforce a limitation which has no reason to exist in the modern world, save to line the pockets of those responsible for said corruption.

Please, I beseech you, do not think of DRM as an "enabler" of public libraries. Rather, see it for what it is: an artificial restriction on public resources designed to wrest control from the public, to limit access to societal contributions, and to discourage the distribution and dissemination of culture -- all in the name of maximizing profits for the select group of individuals responsible for manipulating the legal and public concepts of copyright.

Re:Problems.... (-1, Offtopic)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381720)

I might have read your comment more closely if it wasn't written in an obviously preachy tone.

As it is, you missed me. Sorry.

Re:Problems.... (2, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381964)

I might have read your comment more closely if it wasn't written in an obviously preachy tone.

As it is, you missed me. Sorry.

I didn't find the tone too preachy, perhaps because I've seen far worse. I'd call the GP's post "impassioned" not "preachy", myself. As in, it contains a bit more feeling than a bunch of mathematical equations, but quite a bit less than anything I would consider calling "zealotry". Considering that people who want copyright reform generally view the current system as profoundly unjust and exploitative, I believe GP was rather restrained in his approach.

Even if I thought it was the worst example of pontification ever written, that would never stop me from deriving all possible useful information from it, or from understanding why the author was motivated to write that way. It's not personal, but honestly when I see posts like yours, the first thought that occurs to me is "get over yourself" because it contributes little or nothing. Not everyone is a good writer, and not all good writers agree on how to best reach an audience. Therefore, it makes sense to be willing to give people some slack on this, especially when they're not seeking advice on composition.

The irony is that you're being rather condescending yourself (as if to say "your style isn't worthy of me") while complaining about his tone. At the same time you seem to believe that losing you as an audience is a great loss for which you are sorry; maybe this is a "bandwagon appeal" meant to imply that your disdain represents the majority of readers. It's just the truth that not everyone is going to write in a way that you can personally appreciate. You have no choice about this.

The choice you have is whether a style you dislike is going to be an obstacle for you. You can determine whether a thing like that is going to stop you from participating in an otherwise good discussion, from responding to a post that otherwise makes a number of good points. The GP either has a valid point and a defensible position, or he has no such thing, and this is independent of the tone and style with which it is expressed.

Re:Problems.... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382026)

'dear reader' and 'beseech' have every appearance, to me, of attempting to frame the relationship between the writer and the reader.

As far as my tone, sure, it's hard to respond to snottiness without being a little bit snotty. As far as my expectations, I don't expect that they will care much at all about what I think.

As far as rejecting internet rambles based on tone, it is a simple time saving measure, there is plenty of other content that may or may not be a more interesting use of time, I will start trying to treat it all fairly when I figure I have read most of it.

Re:Problems.... (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382202)

'dear reader' and 'beseech' have every appearance, to me, of attempting to frame the relationship between the writer and the reader.

I suppose the difference is this: I never feel like the way I relate to anything is determined by how someone chooses to exercise their free speech rights. So, he can say whatever he likes, I need not feel that it represents me. It represents only his subjective viewpoint. Whether he's correctly or incorrectly assuming a relationship between the reader and the writer is his problem.

Personally I didn't detect anything nefarious or manipulative there. "Dear reader" and "beseech" are merely antiquated terms that were once much more common. The only thing these indicated to me is that perhaps this person is significantly older than I am, which again isn't something I would frown upon. It would take actual evidence of malicious intent for me to reconsider this.

As far as my tone, sure, it's hard to respond to snottiness without being a little bit snotty. As far as my expectations, I don't expect that they will care much at all about what I think.

I appreciate your honesty. I agree it's difficult to do that, but worthwhile. Most people rarely see an example of snottiness overcome by grace. Usually if snottiness is overcome by anything, it's by someone who's even better at being snotty. It's one of the reasons why the world is the way that it is. Note, I am not agreeing that the GGGP post was actually snotty. I am merely saying that if you're right about that, it's my personal opinion that there are better ways to handle it.

As far as rejecting internet rambles based on tone, it is a simple time saving measure, there is plenty of other content that may or may not be a more interesting use of time, I will start trying to treat it all fairly when I figure I have read most of it.

I don't really understand this part. I don't have to know all human beings to fairly treat a particular person in front of me. By that standard, no one would ever be fair towards anyone. Clearly there is at least some fairness in the world, so others have found ways to be fair without having to talk to every human on the planet or read every written work on the planet.

I also don't understand the need to save time since reading Slashdot is a leisure activity. In my opinion, it makes no sense to to apply production metrics to it, like the number of posts read per hour or the time spent per post. Of course, it is not necessary that I see this your way, but this isn't the first time I've seen fellow Slashdotters show some concern about their Slashdotting efficiency. It's possible that I'm the oddball here because I don't view it this way.

Re:Problems.... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382228)

I take no pleasure in reading something that appears to be intentionally condescending and so seek pleasure elsewhere. 'saving time' is the wrong idea, it is about making the best use of the time available.

Re:Problems.... (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382636)

I take no pleasure in reading something that appears to be intentionally condescending and so seek pleasure elsewhere. 'saving time' is the wrong idea, it is about making the best use of the time available.

Thank you for taking the time to clarify this for me. I hope this discussion wasn't too tedious and I truly appreciate being able to discuss this with you in a calm, non-Flamebait sort of way. With all the other people who are so eager to engage in petty pissing contests, this is most refreshing.

As far as I can tell, this is just a matter of personal taste. My own is a bit different. If a post really is snotty etc., that's an opportunity for me to do something about that if I don't like it. Whenever there is a choice, I'd generally prefer to change (rather than avoid) what I believe is lacking. Sometimes that means directly confronting the tactics used; most of the time it means leading by setting (what I believe to be) a better example.

If I screw that up, the person I deal with will view me as an adversary and will then be unwilling to consider anything I suggest no matter how well-founded. Lots of people just want to be "right", especially when they think (falsely in my case) that you're an adversary who will lord it over them if they admit fault.

If I don't screw that up and do it correctly, then I can give the person something to think about that may even change their mind on how they do things. Those who have done this for me have rendered a great service onto me, and I have learned many things this way. I feel privileged if I can contribute something similar. Even the most stubborn people will often reconsider things if you can overcome their assumption that you operate from a need to make them wrong so you can feel right. To me, the key to this is the recognition that you cannot convince anyone of anything without their active participation.

Re:Problems.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381832)

No, DRM hobbles e-book libraries. It imposes all sorts of restrictions that don't exist for paper books and it defeats many of the benefits of digital books. It's like giving someone a ham sandwich and telling them they can't eat the ham. (A car analogy is left as an exercise for the reader)

Re:Problems.... (1)

ascari (1400977) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382634)

Parent got modded interesting. The only interesting bit is the sheer whackiness of the concept of "loaning out e-books". Think a little deeper about that, please!

Re:Problems.... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382694)

It's only wacky if copyright doesn't exist. Given that society has been actively granting copyrights for hundreds of years, it is perfectly natural that copyright will come up when dealing with new technologies.

Re:Problems.... (1)

1s44c (552956) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381412)

B) there are no libraries. How many people actually -buy- all the books they read?

I do. I thought everyone did.

Without access to a university library the only option is a public library, in which case I wait a month and have a very long trip to get a copy of a book with every third word underlined and some pages ripped out. Most books are so cheap that buying a new one is worth it just to save the pain of having to deal with a library. The exception would be out of print or hard to find books.

Re:Problems.... (2, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381468)

Hm, perhaps your library situation is different then mine, but with mine I have access to about ~20 different libraries across the region, and if one library doesn't have the book, one of the 19 may have it and will get it to you in about a day. And while it isn't the best stocked library (in their entire system they had 3 books about the Welsh Language) for simi-recent books (~2000-2008) you can get any book within a day or so.

It also depends on what you are reading, for novels it is a lot easier to use the library then to pay $9 for a book that you are only going to read once. For a book you are going to read multiple times you have to pay $30 for a book without crappy binding. I simply don't have the money per enjoyment out of buying books. I read an interesting book (out of the library on the formation of the English language) but it took me only 2 days to read it, the book cost $14 if I would have bought it normally, making me pay $7 per day of reading, which is rather expensive.

Re:Problems.... (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382390)

I don't think I have used a library since high school. Currently I average about a dozen books bought each year, maybe a few more, some hardcover and some paperbacks. Most of my friends with an interest in literature average about the same.

As for e-readers I would claim that the main problem right now is that it's still a new technology lacking proper refinement. I have no doubt that over the next couple of decades the readers themselves and the underlying tech, software and services will drastically improve. Feel fairly certain that by the end of this decade I will have purchased a reader and use that for much of the literature I'd be interested in. The current level of readers on the market isn't quite there yet for me to get one, but as I state; I feel certain that they will get there eventually, at which point reading "books" on e-readers will become commonplace.

Re:Problems.... (4, Interesting)

godrik (1287354) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381866)

So do I. I never use library for several reasons:

-The books are ripped off, broken or people wrote on them.

-Last time I checked the 3 libraries close to me, they had less than 30% of the book I have at home.

-I think book is one of the cheapest entertainment. I read approximatively a page in 1 minute to 1.5 minutes (non native english speaker). The last 3 books I read are "halting state" by charles stross, 8 USD for 324 pages, "the dreaming void" by peter hamilton 9 USD for 600 pages and "the engines of god" by jack mcdevitt 8 USD for 418 pages. The price per hour are respectively 1.18 USD, 0.72 USD, 0.91 USD. This is approximatively 5 time cheaper than a movie at the cinema (just for me, not talking about my gf that join me for this 'boring science fiction' movie or if I join her to the latest 'same over again love story' ).

-I can still lend them to friend or even give them as gift.

-(Call this one luxury if you want) I like to have at home several books that I haven't read yet but that I will so that when I want to read a book, I can just pick the one that fit my mood NOW.

Re:Problems.... (2, Interesting)

BarryJacobsen (526926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381526)

Regarding libraries - I think there's actually a fairly simple solution (though the publishers may dislike it):

A library buys a digital copy of a book when someone requests it for the first time. They have a "check out" iPad application (and/or other application) that will log in a database that the book is checked out for 2 weeks, and not let that copy be checked out until that copy is either manually checked back in or it automatically expires after two weeks. When a book is attempted to be opened in the application it makes sure that the check out is still valid before allowing the book to be opened. If there is more than a 2 - 3 month wait for a book, another digital copy is purchased and added to the pool. This could easily be a national library as there are no physical copies to store (only servers storing the files) and no need to check things out in person. I would love this system and would probably use it even if it was not government funded and had a monthly fee. I'm aware of safari books online, but I'd like something with a broader appeal.

Re:Problems.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381674)

Thanks for mentioning the ipad. I'm glad there's a digital book reader on the market now.

Re:Problems.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31382370)

Ah, hate to wake you up, but that already exists in most libraries that lend ebooks.

Most of the use Adobe Digital Editions, and the OverDrive servers, which assures that the library lends only as many copies as they have paid for, and ebooks are "returned" automatically at the end of the lend period.

Ebook readers already enforce the rules, and you can also read on your computer. Usually this all costs the reader zero money.

You have re-invented what is already in common usage all across north america.
http://www.adobe.com/products/digitaleditions/ [adobe.com]

Re:Problems.... (2, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381830)

C) The readers themselves are expensive (but then, over time this will probably change)
D) They are more easily damaged.
E) Books never run out of battery.

Can't displace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381292)

"'They're books that embrace their physicality or have stood the test of time. They're the kinds of books the iPad can't displace because they're complete objects.'"

Depends on how cheap e-book readers become, doesn't it? iPad, now, he's right.

But I've sometimes bought books that cost $100. While a single-purpose/publication e-book reader would be ridiculously extravagant right now, I'm not confident that will always be the case. If cost came down sufficiently maybe I could end up stacking my e-books on the shelf beside the paper ones. "Buy the book and get a free, reusable e-book reader" isn't *that* far off, I think.

Re:Can't displace? (2, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381326)

If cost came down sufficiently maybe I could end up stacking my e-books on the shelf beside the paper ones. "Buy the book and get a free, reusable e-book reader" isn't *that* far off, I think.

But that defeats the entire purpose of an e-reader. The point isn't to use e-ink and be all fancy but allow for one device that eliminates the eye strain of reading on an LCD, that can store lots of books and not take up lots of room and have great battery life. For example, when traveling rather than putting 4 paperbacks in a backpack, they can store one Kindle and have 200 novels in the same space.

Dredge? (3, Interesting)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381312)

From TFA: We’re losing the dredge of the publishing world: disposable books.

Sounds like "dregs" I guess--if you talk like Sean Connery. I stopped reading right there. That's just a bit too much illiteracy for an article about books.

Re:Dredge? (1)

dougisfunny (1200171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381640)

Seriously, the dredge are Tyrian mole-people, completely unrelated.

Re:Dredge? (1)

korean.ian (1264578) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382028)

He's probably confused the verb "to dredge" with the noun "dregs". Give the chap a break, he's only a writer after all, not an editor. ;)

you hear me slashdot editors? *shakes fist in rage* we expect perfection from editors. (I know, I know, I must be new here.)

The new canvas (1)

maeka (518272) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381330)

Of all the recent discussions / ruminations on the apparently inevitable replacement of bound paper by ebooks I think this article is one of the more insightful.
It is midway down in the article (around figures 7 and 8) where I think Craig really gets to the thrust of his argument. Few books (and no traditional novels that I am aware of) have attempted to break out of the "two page spread canvas" convention. The coming dawn of larger-format (and colour) "readers" of all sorts, however, will allow content creators to create nearly unlimited canvas types - even if only in abstraction.

Re:The new canvas (2, Insightful)

MollyB (162595) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381466)

The problem I see with content creators using this new canvas is that it subtracts from the freedom of the reader's imagination. In other words, it replaces an idea (a story) with a specific representation of that idea, which is rather like having a book author at your side jabbing you periodically to see if you 'get' it.

"Stop poking me, Mr. Dawkins! I'm just using 'Goddamit' as an interjection."

Re:The new canvas (1)

maeka (518272) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381602)

The problem I see with content creators using this new canvas is that it subtracts from the freedom of the reader's imagination. In other words, it replaces an idea (a story) with a specific representation of that idea,

I see no reason at all to think that an ebook need be more rigid in its presentation than a paper one. Might some be published which do "force" the consumer in the manner you describe? Sure. Just don't confuse the ability with the inevitability. The cut-up techniques of Burroughs and Gysin were linearly "forced" upon the reader through the two dimensional nature of bound paper, but electronic representation would have given them the chance to explore into the third (or greater).

Re:The new canvas (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382138)

Indeed. For example, as one example of "definite" content he mentions a book which is written from the view of two people, where you have to flip the book to see the other view. Which is actually a quite crude way of switching viewpoints, but probably the best you could do with books. With an e-book reader you might be able to switch viewpoints at any paragraph. At the end of a paragraph there might be two buttons, one for each viewpoint, and depending on the button you press, you remain in the current viewpoint or switch it for the next paragraph. Indeed, the text may even be more "fluid" in that when changing viewpoints you might be given extra information (e.g. in the form of some text which has been carried over from previous paragraphs, or in the form extra text purposely written for this) which you missed by reading the other viewpoint, but which is important to understand the current paragraph in the current viewpoint. This would also make the re-reading value of the book higher, because every time you may get a slightly different text (which nevertheless tells the same story). However, it would probably drive literature scientists crazy if they want to cite from it with exact reference. :-)

Re:The new canvas (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382500)

The problem I see with content creators using this new canvas is that it subtracts from the freedom of the reader's imagination.

Generations of readers have found value in Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, and hundreds of other greater and lessor known illustrators.

Illustration enriches and enlarges your own visual imagination, your intellectual vocabulary, if you will.

 

Re:The new canvas (2, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381514)

Well, there are a few other things that seem to fall out when you go to ebooks, diagrams and pictures can 'move' if you want. The book's language can change. If your eyes are tired, the book can read to you. The book can remember what page you last read. It can find related material regarding any of the characters, both fictional and real. It can find a map for you of the country the story is set in. The list gets longer if you want, and all things you can't get from a printed version. When people eventually have fond memories of sitting in the front room reading a story on their ebook, paper books will be a thing of the past. When there is an ebook laying in a basket in the bathroom with Readers Digest and that almanac thingy on it, paper books will be a thing of the past. When you can go to a library and 'borrow' a cartridge with a book or two on it, paper books will be a thing of the past. The problems are part cultural and part functionality. Both will be overcome. ebooks have the capability of combining moving images with text, creating an art form that does not yet truly exist. Remember when people used to say the book was much better than the movie? Any of these features can increase the value of the media, the price, or the DRM capabilities. Publishers will have to get over the desire to sell a separate copy to every person who reads and just let them share. Anyone remember when they thought photocopiers were going to ruin their business? This is more or less the same thing.

Not yet (3, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381342)

If we get to the point where leaving your reader behind in a public place isn't any more likely to result in theft than leaving a book, readers will be well positioned to overtake printed books.

I think that day is still far off.

Re:Not yet (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381394)

The same thing could be said of any technology. Isn't your iPod more likely to be stolen then a CD player? Yet that really didn't slow down the adoption of digital music.

Re:Not yet (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382186)

One difference is that you can leave the iPod in your pocket during usage, and furthermore usage required a physical connection between the device and your ears (earphones). Both reduces the probability of losing it.

Re:Not yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381408)

How exactly is theft a real consideration for ebook readers over print media? I suggest you consider other reasons for their failure to overtake print media, like the egregiously expensive readers and books, as well as the limited selection of books. More books are being offered as ebooks every day but there are still some that are not available in digital format yet.

Re:Not yet (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382208)

Of course the readers are likely to be stolen exactly because they are expensive.

Re:Not yet (2, Interesting)

AndrewBC (1675992) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381438)

I think it's even further off than that. It's unlikely to happen until everyone who comes across it already has one, and isn't just a prick. (There are lots of those...)

It's more akin to leaving a bookshelf of all your books, and room for new books to be added as well, complete with a dolly for easy carrying by one person -- much more valuable than just one tattered eared paperback.

Mod points (1)

ndogg (158021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381346)

Mod makes the point...

Well, what kind of point? Insightful? Funny? Interesting?

Re:Mod points (0, Flamebait)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381354)

If its any type of /. mod probably overrated, troll, offtopic or flamebait.

iPad's Killer App (3, Interesting)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381360)

Electronic books are probably one of the iPad's killer apps. Maybe not the ones we'll see immediately -- the ones basically just ported from the Kindle or something -- but the next generation of books, or the ones after that. Interacting with the book is where the technology will really shine. Think about A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (from The Diamond Age [barnesandnoble.com] ).

Re:iPad's Killer App (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381816)

Fact: The original Kindle's codename was "Fiona" because of this book.

Re:iPad's Killer App (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381824)

Textbooks. They must have diagrams and a lot of them also require colour.

Re:iPad's Killer App (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382182)

Think about A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer

Interesting example in this context, given that, in The Diamond Age:

  • the Primer relied on human actors to provide the interaction (Outsourcing FTW!).
  • the Primer was designed to be a unique, one-off physical object, in a world where nanotech replicators were the norm.

So, not your Kindle or iPad (unless Steve has some manufacturing problems he's not letting on about).

embrace their physicality? (3, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381372)

'They're books that embrace their physicality or have stood the test of time. They're the kinds of books the iPad can't displace because they're complete objects'

A) Leave the iPad out of this. We're talking about consuming text which isn't printed on paper, and we've been doing that since even before the *gasp* kindle.
B) Is this some kind of metaphysical crap? "they're complete objects"? WTF does that mean? I've been reading Descartes' Discourse on the Method [gutenberg.org] off the screen of a netbook. Does this mean that somehow the information that I've consumed isn't "real enough"? If I printed that out on paper, read it, and then burned the paper, would that have made the content "embrace its physicality"?

Either I'm missing something, or this is a serious case of "get off my lawn".

Re:embrace their physicality? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381432)

Books that embrace their physicality is like a pop-up book, with flaps to open, wheels to turn, and tabs to pull. While I really don't see his point (how many people buy lots of pop-up books after their kid has turned 5?)

Leave the iPad out of this. We're talking about consuming text which isn't printed on paper, and we've been doing that since even before the *gasp* kindle.

Sure, but it is only after the Kindle that people have really started to read things traditionally done with print using a screen. Yes, most of us have been getting news online since we got our first AOL subscription, but how many of us have read novels until recently? And recent novels, not just The Canterbury Tales or Candide.

If I printed that out on paper, read it, and then burned the paper, would that have made the content "embrace its physicality"?

No, he was referring to the few books who have strange things with their books, like pull out pages or pop-up books. I really don't see his point, how many people really buy those?

Re:embrace their physicality? (4, Informative)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381512)

I'm rereading TFA, and it's really even more out-there than I thought initially. I thought he was using the "unusual formats" as a metaphor for something, but does he literally mean books with fold-out charts and translucent overlays? Is the point that primitive? Has he not met the computer? Hasn't he ever seen an interactive presentation? I don't even have to go looking for anything specific, just go to HowStuffWorks [howstuffworks.com] and pick something. Many Wikipedia articles will do the same thing, except with animations and videos instead of Flash. Isn't this [wikipedia.org] better than a pop-up book?

Re:embrace their physicality? (1)

jenik (1030872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381870)

Proper typography, book design, binding, nice paper, interesting format, etc. can make a book into a work of art. Unfortunately most books produced these days are anything but that. For a good example of great book design look at Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style or Edward Tufte's books. I doubt their electronic versions would be anywhere as beautiful.

Re:embrace their physicality? (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382094)

For a good example of great book design look at Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style

I just opened a page at random and looked for the first thing that digital publishing would make easier:
Elements of Typography and Style, version 3.1, page 161, 8.3.2: "Choose page proportions suited for the content, size and ambitions of the publication".
Note -- "ambitions of the publication". In a digital version, you have no bounds. You can choose to shape your pages according to the type and needs of the content. You can choose to have a certain page size and proportion for most of the book, and still make exceptions for charts, graphs, images, photos, etc., far easier that you would in a printed version.

Proper typography, book design, binding, nice paper, interesting format, etc. can make a book into a work of art ... I doubt their electronic versions would be anywhere as beautiful.

Binding and nice paper are nostalgia. Their modern equivalent is reading from a more esthetically pleasing laptop or e-reader. I don't need a thick leather-bound cover as an indication that "oh, this here book must have all 'em big words, for thinkin' folk".
As for typography, what about it? What can you do with a physical book that you can't in its digital version?

This is all about will and competence. If writers want and know how to present their writing, they will. The digital format will just give them more tools and additional flexibility.

Re:embrace their physicality? (1)

jenik (1030872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382244)

You make some good points. Digital technology absolutely makes it easier to design books. No doubt about that. The problem with digital publishing is that (at the moment) you have limited control (even with pdf) over how the reader will see your 'book'.

The format of a book, the font, binding and paper should ideally complement the content—that's pretty hard to do if you read all your books on one e-reader. Now, don't get me wrong, nice books have always been a niche product and will remain so. I have no problem with that and many (maybe most) texts will be fine in electronic form. I just wanted to explain that there are some aspect of paper books that can't be replicated in e-readers.

Re:embrace their physicality? (1)

jenik (1030872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382270)

One more thing: I didn't mean you should look at the content of Bringhurst's book, I meant look at the book.

Books are tangible objects (2, Insightful)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382082)

B) Is this some kind of metaphysical crap? "they're complete objects"? WTF does that mean?

I don't know why people are talking about pop-up books: all books are tangible. Your "copy" of a book is forever linked to a physical object that, as time passes, becomes different from all other instances of that book.

Can you imagine someone paying $1m for a first edition [bbc.co.uk] of an ebook download? (that's just a recent, extreme example that happens to be a comic book - people cherish rare editions of books of all kinds, even when the content is widely available elsewhere).

Imagine you were giving someone a gift or a presentation? Which would be better: (a) hardback copy of their favorite author's latest work with a suitable inscription or (b) an iTunes gift card.

How will future authors cope at book signings? Hey, Mr Pullman, could you validate this X.509 certificate and write it back to the SD card? Its not for me, you understand, its for my daemon...

My 1979 paperback copy of "The Hitchhikers Guide" (the yellowed and dogeared one) is certainly a "complete object". It's still got the price tag on the back (80p!?)

...and what is that funny stain on page 30 of "American Gods"... :-)

Re:Books are tangible objects (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382286)

I don't know why people are talking about pop-up books: all books are tangible. Your "copy" of a book is forever linked to a physical object that, as time passes, becomes different from all other instances of that book.

So what? What value has the content gained? Is the content in first edition of a book written 50 years ago different than the digital version I bought 5 minutes ago, apart from possibly having a few typos?

Can you imagine someone paying $1m for a first edition of an ebook download?

No. Why would I want to? Is reading from that one going to be more interesting/entertaining than reading a version that was scanned?
We're not talking about art or vintage collectibles, we're talking about the value of the content. It doesn't change, it just becomes more convenient to move around and consume.

Imagine you were giving someone a gift or a presentation? Which would be better: (a) hardback copy of their favorite author's latest work with a suitable inscription or (b) an iTunes gift card.

If you want to give someone a physical object, and you think that they're the type of person who will appreciate a paper version of a book, you may do so. If, due to the popularity of digital content, this becomes more expensive (since it'll become a niche industry), then that's an acceptable sacrifice (if it's a sacrifice at all).

How will future authors cope at book signings?

They'll have to adjust. Now we're talking about the worth of signatures, and that's an unrelated subject. If you like an actor, do you ask him to sign a DVD of a movie that he's been in? What if he's a stage actor? Do you ask him to sign the theater ticket?

This is nostalgia. It's the same as vinyl records. The value of the content didn't change, just the container.

Re:Books are tangible objects (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382852)

So what? What value has the content gained?

None - but the object has gained immense value. Its not all about content.

No. Why would I want to? Is reading from that one going to be more interesting/entertaining than reading a version that was scanned?

Didn't say you'd want to. Heck, I wouldn't want to pay that sort of money - but plenty of people do. Meanwhile, I have lots of books with personal sentimental value or memories attached which, even if they wouldn't fetch $1 at auction, I wouldn't want to give up.

We're not talking about art or vintage collectibles.

Yes we are - we're talking about the vintage collectibles of 10, 20, 30 years from now. Where will they come from?

They'll have to adjust. Now we're talking about the worth of signatures, and that's an unrelated subject.

No, we're talking about the worth of signatures on books which plenty of people are clearly prepared to queue for ages to obtain, and book signings which are quite an important element in book publicity (and quite important to some authors).

If you like an actor, do you ask him to sign a DVD of a movie that he's been in? What if he's a stage actor? Do you ask him to sign the theater ticket?

Not me, personally - but an awful lot of people would if they got the opportunity.

This is nostalgia. It's the same as vinyl records. The value of the content didn't change, just the container.

Vinyl records were around for a couple of decades, yet attained such significance as objects that people even convinced themselves (against all evidence) that they sounded better than CDs. Books have been iconic objects for hundreds of years.

If, due to the popularity of digital content, this becomes more expensive (since it'll become a niche industry), then that's an acceptable sacrifice (if it's a sacrifice at all).

I'd agree that is likely (but, unlike TFA, I don't see the "niche" consisting entirely of pop-up books and suchlike). Its just a continuation of the paperback vs. hardback tradition. Of course, at the moment its pretty academic with no particularly attractive savings between ebooks and paper books and DRM schemes which make it unlikely that your ebook library will still work in ten years' time.

(It'll also be interesting to see if music continues to be released on CD or DVD for the same niche - last time I looked, some albums still get released on vinyl, so its not that unlikely).

Re:Books are tangible objects (1)

Joe Mucchiello (1030) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382562)

How will future authors cope at book signings?

The same way actors and actresses do at conventions? They'll sign an 8x10 picture of themselves.

Re:Books are tangible objects (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382874)

How will future authors cope at book signings?

The same way actors and actresses do at conventions? They'll sign an 8x10 picture of themselves.

So much for ugly people who want to write... :-)

Re:embrace their physicality? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382156)

Just answer with a “UNDEFINED_TERM_ERROR: In this context, this term is not defined.” ^^
And follow up with a “INVALID_ARGUMENTS_ERROR: Your arguments are invalid, because they contain undefined terms.”

It has nothing to do with lawn-related age. ;)

Some people use perfectly cromulent words to elevate themselves above you. So they can act as if they were wiser and exclude you from the discussion. Or in short: So that it’s harder to tell them that they are talking stupid bullshit. ;)

Medicine is well-known for this. Especially classical psychology, since they actually don’t know what they are talking about. (Still mostly not based on neurology, and hence on physics. ;) Also management buzzwords like “synergistic vertical chunnels” fall into this category. Really the area doesn’t matter, and i’m sure we “IT” people have those types too.

Content vs. Presentation (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381398)

Sometimes content includes presentation, but not always content needs it. Most books in particular, as flow of words, of ideas, not of something physical, should be independent of presentation, so any way to transmit it, comfortably enogh for the receiver, should be equivalent, so either audio, reading in a cellphone, pdf, computer montior, printed book or wallscreen should be more or less the same.

There are some special books that pushes the possibilities of that media, that does some trick with the material, the pagination, what you should see at once in that physical form, etc. But for most of them don't matter that much how you "read" them.

Re:Content vs. Presentation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381492)

I agree...or maybe it's something to do with the art of writing, or perhaps the typography used. But reading a book is def. different than a novel formatted like medical white-paper (ie. the Bible).

Re:Content vs. Presentation (1)

Compholio (770966) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381638)

Sometimes content includes presentation, but not always content needs it. Most books in particular, as flow of words, of ideas, not of something physical, should be independent of presentation, so any way to transmit it, comfortably enogh for the receiver, should be equivalent, so either audio, reading in a cellphone, pdf, computer montior, printed book or wallscreen should be more or less the same.

I have two reasons I won't buy electronic books:

  • DRM, a solvable problem - if I can actually "own" my book and not worry about losing it then I won't care. After they are eventually forced to solve this problem I might actually end up trying more books, but I'm not holding my breath.
  • Collecting, an unsolvable problem - a hardbound book is very much the equivalent of a "collector's edition" and you will not be able to replicate that with an eBook.

Re:Content vs. Presentation (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381880)

Collecting? Then you are talking about presentation, not the actual content of those books. Could have all white pages inside for what matters

At least for me, the main reason i keep book is because i could read them again later, or give to another person. In both cases should not matter presentation (unless the person i give it is not as comfortable as me with the particular media on which i have it, of course). While i could find them, don't matter so much how look my library.

Re:Content vs. Presentation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381700)

So for example, if a particular translation were to print Dante's Inferno so as to continue the rule of 3 which he has established?

iPad (4, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381406)

Do people get paid to throw Apple branding around like this? Are any of these issues in any way unique to, or only now forthcoming because of, Apple's late entry into the tablet computing market?

Re:iPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381556)

+ Insightful for sure.

A late entry that has yet to make it to market.

Here's another piece of the electronic age: Writing your blogs to get picked up by Google searches.

Re:iPad (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381574)

While it is a distinct possibility, I think it's more likely that it's just cult of Mac.

That is, until Apple does it, it is irrelevant and unimportant. It's born of the fact that Apple is a major brand that commands control of what's "hip" and "cool" so anything they do is a hot topic that needs to be discussed at every opportunity [to prove how cool and with-the-times you are]. Ironically, this will usually involve talking about how great Apple's products are and how nothing like it existed before — Reality Distortion Field [Willful Ignorance] FTW.

Re:iPad (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381654)

It's just SEO. Also, this article wouldn't have been slashdotted if it didn't heavily feature the iPad (or at the very least, it would have had a lower chance). The iPad is what people are looking to read about right now, so why not adjust the article you were writing (possibly with e-ink readers in mind) to include it -- surely you'll only attract more attention.

Re:iPad (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381884)

but, but, it is from APPLE!!!!
*faints*

Re:iPad (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382062)

Yes. It was the first product from Apple, that was so crappy, that not even the fanbois liked it. Let alone people who did’t have money to throw out of the window. ;)

I realized that the way Apple marketing works, is very similar to trolling: The more you fight it, the more you mention it... and hence the more publicity/hype it will get. Especially since fanbois are so drowning everything else out right after it.
You may hate it. But you have to admire its elegance.

Re:iPad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31382716)

Slashdotters don't understand that there are people from other backgrounds who are interested in different things than them.

To a designer (in this case, someone who designs book layouts), a netbook or a kindle, does not particularly excite them, because it's nothing particularly new for them to take advantage of. The kindle is limited to black and white and can't support video (even black and white video) due to the screen's refresh rate. The netbook doesn't give you anything you can't already do on a laptop today, except uh, it's smaller and more underpowered.

To a designer, the iPad present an entirely new way of interacting with media. It supports the same cool stuff you can do with computers and even netbooks, such as video and interactive content, but then presents it in a much more book-like fashion: A) it's portable, and you hold it in your hand like a book (not like a netbook!), B) it's got a cutting-edge touch-based interface, not just like, but similar to the intuitive way we navigate books with our fingers, and C) the iPad's industrial design is simple and allows the content on the screen to take over the user's experience.

This is why they are specifically talking about Apple's product. Nothing else similarly interests someone who's job and passion is to design the formats in which media is consumed.

Believe it or not, Apple does not find random people and pay them millions out of their evil advertising budget to talk about their products. It happens on its own, and I'm sorry you can't appreciate the significance of that.

There's a bigger shift at hand (3, Insightful)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381478)

Although the format change is a big part of this, the real change afoot is the amount of effort it takes to publish something. In the past, with the exception of self-publishing, the only way to get your work out there was to pitch your idea to a book publisher, who would then decide what was and was not print-worthy. Today, I can go to blogspot.com, sign up for an account, and spout off about anything I want, making it accessible for the world to see.

That means big changes for the publishing business. I'm actually not thrilled about paper books going away; it's not easy for me to read a sceen, even a Kindle screen, for hours on end. But the publishers and bookstores are really terrified. I could defintiely see Barnes and Noble or Borders turning into something like a coffeehouse/social club, marketing e-books and e-media, and still making money off of ancillary stuff. Problem is that you can't support thousands of places like that. Time, Random House, McGraw-Hill and all those guys in New York are probably shaking in their boots. Eventually, they're going to have to find a way to make money on something that's easy to disseminate and hard to resell. It's similar to the music industry...they've been on the same talent search --> contract --> album --> hit song(s) --> concert revenue --> album business cycle forever. Now publishing has to switch to something else from talent search --> contract --> book --> sales revenue --> book.

It's also going to be extremely difficult to make a living writing material. I really love to write, but I know it's not a sustainable career. Those of us with the itch to write have had magazines to submit articles to, but even that might dry up. The worst change IMO is going to be journalism. Instead of a newspaper of record, we're going to have thousands of bloggers, all with their own agenda, Twittering and blogging all over the Web about current events. I really think investigative journalism is going to go downhill, which is bad. You need to pay reporters to go out and spend the time digging up actual facts, not posting opinions. That's how we get the conspiracy theorists sneaking into the mainstream with things like Obama's citizenship being questioned.

Re:There's a bigger shift at hand (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381620)

Journalism is another subject entirely -- the change there is already mid-way, and it's going to be a much more significant change than stand-alone books. I don't know if this has to be a change for the worse -- what newspaper/writer truly *doesn't* have an agenda? Things will/are becoming more chaotic, but it's a transition. Some will fare better than others.

It may be more difficult making a living as a writer, but more people will do it, or at least try, which is a good thing. How many good writers have we lost since they didn't get the job they wanted at a major publication (and they didn't get it because the person who interviewed them didn't like how they dressed, how their accent).

I know a couple of people who have problems reading long-form text off of monitors/readers, and I'm sure that this will be addressed as technology progresses. It's a matter of getting the most eyeballs on your content. Even if only 2% of the population has problems reading from an e-reader, that's enough incentive to develop better e-readers. I don't think that people are going to be "left behind" -- it's not the profitable thing to do.

Note that right now you are writing on a public forum. What makes this of lesser value than something that was inked into paper? This way, we get a lot more people voicing their opinions, and it's far easier to do.

Re:There's a bigger shift at hand (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381844)

"The worst change IMO is going to be journalism."

Journalism, newspapers and magazines are in for some lean years. Then we'll all realize that no, a million random bloggers on the Internet are not a replacement for a trained, professional journalist/writer.

battery life (1)

Katchu (1036242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381484)

I love eBooks and readers a lot. I have over 100 books loaded onto my iPhone. But a paper book or journal doesn't go blank after a few hours reading. I want to read in a dark tent at night after 2 weeks backpacking in the Rockies.

Re:battery life (1)

GUmeR (1689060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381576)

True. But on the other side copy/paste, find, links, and lets-google-this-phrase work kind of doggy with paper. Guess there are no perfect things on this world.

Re:battery life (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382264)

Copy/paste? With a printed book?
I don't know what you tend to do with your books, but I usually just read them. :-)

Re:battery life (1)

viralburn (606633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381848)

How about a usb solar charger ?

Re:battery life (2, Insightful)

godrik (1287354) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381886)

or perhaps, you should get a real e book reader instead of using a mobile phone to do that...

Re:battery life (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381916)

Do you have "Dial M for Murder?"

I'm a digital reader and I say... (4, Funny)

Giant Ape Skeleton (638834) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381544)

tl;dr ;-)

Rechargeable books = total loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381622)

Until e-book readers come with batteries that can be replaced, and some standard battery format for these rechargeable devices emerges similar to the good old AAA battery, e-books will be a total loss. Imagine sitting down for an multiple-hour wait in a hospital, pulling out your e-book, and the battery dying. That doesn't happen with paper! What we need is some kind of standard, replaceable battery so you can put a totally charged, fresh one in your e-book reader/MP3 player/etc before you leave. The real flaw in all these devices at this time is they have a totally contained battery that can't be replaced, so the only way they can be recharged is to be taken out of action during the recharge. There is no way to recharge an old battery by itself and put a fresh one in the device that has already charged. Until this is fixed, I wouldn't even consider an e-book reader. My paper book is always available. I already bought a digital camera that used AA batteries instead of the batteries that can't be removed, so if I am outdoors photographing and the battery dies, I can just put new batteries in.

Here's the best digital book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381724)

(1:47) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZRhlcqPef0

I don't think so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31381736)

Having read the article (yes, I know that's not a Slashdot procedure), two things strike me;

i Its a piece of puffery in favour of the latest piece of Apple product.
ii He has a point.

I won't bother arguing about i because you'll either like or dislike Apple product and either have a use for the iPad or not.

Point ii is more interesting. The thing is, as defined in the article, books that fall into the "formless" category are those that people buy to read on holiday, at a whim and so onb, but they won't necessarily want to tote a piece of electronics about to consume them. Book v1 doesn't need a power source or access to the internet to enjoy, in most cases it doesn't matter if they get left out in the rain or fall into the bath or get lost. Most people can lose quite expensive things quite easily. The photographer Roger Deakin was sacked by Vogue magazine for repeatedly "losing" Rolleiflex cameras in taxis. Its cheaper to lose the latest boink/blockbuster airport novel than it is to lose your Kindle or iPad. And you can lend it, or give it to a charity shop or whatever.

Even in his "definite" category, booklike publications score higher in usability and utility than an electronic version. And again, once you've finished with a technical book you can sell it, lend it or give it away. Try doing that with a DRM encumbered software for an iPad.

The only form of "definite" product that his analysis does support is for the consumption of magazines and newspapers. These relatively disposable products are ideal fodder for a jazzy colour display though you'd have to be quite mad to want to pay for the medium of display and STILL fork out fot the product subscription!

Of course, I'm of the older generation and my attention span is longer than that of 20-30 yos who are the target audience for product these days.

Re:I don't think so... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31381944)

The only form of "definite" product that his analysis does support is for the consumption of magazines and newspapers. These relatively disposable products are ideal fodder for a jazzy colour display though you'd have to be quite mad to want to pay for the medium of display and STILL fork out fot the product subscription!

Maybe the same model as with cell phones would work for them: Subscribe to the paper, get the reader for a reduced price, or maybe even free.

Confused?? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382018)

Print is dying. Digital is surging. Everyone is confused.

Yeah. Everybody. Except everybody. ;)
Really only publishers are confused.

That’s all there is to say.

Environment (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382022)

In the present age when resources are becoming scarce and we have to conserve more, I see the value of the electronic reader. I prefer reading in print to reading on a screen because I have the freedom to highlight and make notes in margins. But, seeing as trees are very important, it may be time to make the adjustment. I am sure the cost to operate say, a kindle, is far less than the cost to the environment to produce the paper, the ink to print, and the energy to run the presses. The trick to making the e-reader environmentally friendly is to slow down the pace at which they are being rendered obsolete. Whereas a book lasts centuries, we may be adding to a silicon garbage pile at the rate of our present innovation. I will adopt the e-reader when there is no DRM and there is a standard so I can freely move what I rightfully purchased between devices.

We're all different! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31382746)

Crowd: YES! Everyone is confused!

Me: (raises hand) I'm not.

Crowd: SSHHHH!

'Definite,' in which layout and presentation play a role in conveying meaning.

But... wait... I thought the CSS purists said we're supposed to separate layout and content and spew semantics all over the place?

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