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The End Of Books As We Know Them?

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the e-porn-magazines-coming-soon dept.

Technology 266

coxjohnson writes: "Ray Bradbury may have been partially correct in Fahrenheit 451 when he wrote that books would not exist in the future. Technology Review recently published a story predicting the demise of today's paper books with tomorrow's electronic paper books." This story about the continuing development of "electronic paper" has a nice overview of the history of the field and a some good info about current technologies under development.

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The paperless office exists (1)

twisteddk (201366) | more than 13 years ago | (#432493)

I've seen it, but I don't work there.. I'm too much of a slob to get my documents scanned (yeah, bledin' low-tech'ers still send me stuff on PAPER of all things), so a lot of paper just lies around. Anything that goes OUT of my office however is on disks/CD's or in a mail.

Where I work, we have all documentation in electronic format, readily available, and a LOT more searchable that a zillion books and little post-its.

Really it's just a matter of WANTING it enough. Though I still go print the contracts before I read them, simply because it's easier to read that way, but when I'm done, it's to the schredder.

But hey, don't take my word for it, just look at all the ways to take the peper out of the office. They're there someone is using them, it may not be You. But eventually more and more paper is gone from the offices. Try walking through the halls where You work, how many people still get more regular mail than email ? I'd bet not many.

Same thing will happen to the books. More and more books sold will be e-books. But it will take a while.

Take a look at Oticon [] (page is in english) for a company that employs the paperless office, it's kinda cool to see the schredded paper blown through a glass tube in the lobby.

the napster of ebooks? ebooks = bookwarez (1)

dogas (312359) | more than 13 years ago | (#432495)

obviously, if ebooks get popular, so will warez'ing them around. 2 megs per book. tell me that won't happen. all people will need then is a good printer or a REALLY good monitor.

Re:Real Books will continue for a long... long tim (1)

jck2000 (157192) | more than 13 years ago | (#432497)

People are funny about preferring physical goods over electronic or intangible goods. You mention O'Reilly -- they a good example of the strong preference even heavy computer users have for paper. In the past year and a half I have probably spent $100 on software (a Linux distro and BeOS), but several times that much on computer books. In the time I have been dithering over spending $50 on JBuilder 4 Std Ed I have spent several times that amount on O'Reilly Java books (Servlets, XML, Examples).

Re:It won't happen... (3)

Leon Trotski (259231) | more than 13 years ago | (#432502)

(face it, your average bourgeois motherfucker has a shelf full of leather-bound, unopened "classics")

As a matter of fact, I do.

who posted this? (1)

alprazolam (71653) | more than 13 years ago | (#432504)

michael? hmm that must have been a jon katz article, surely by now he has a patent on the 'end of as we know it, new digital age' article.

That's comfy... (4)

bziman (223162) | more than 13 years ago | (#432520)

Nothing like curling up next to the fireplace with a 19" monitor and a whirring hard drive...


LOTR (1)

EMlNEM (267524) | more than 13 years ago | (#432522)

Tolkien will always be better with real paper pages...people will never really give up "Real books" it is to much of our history...

Re:That's comfy... (1)

zaius (147422) | more than 13 years ago | (#432596)

If you unplug your CPU fan and use a CRT monitor, you won't need the fireplace...

I doubt it (1)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 13 years ago | (#432600)

There's a certain tactile sensation to a physical book. The turning of the pages (and the corresponding rustle), the physical weight (which to some extent implies the weight of the ideas. I doubt that this can be done electronically. Not to mention that you don't have to boot up a book to read it....

End of books? Probably no. (5)

Christianfreak (100697) | more than 13 years ago | (#432601)

I don't think that books will go away anytime soon, they may decrease in popularity but I think that there are enough people out there who absolutely hate reading for long periods of time from a computer screen. Its hard on the eyes for one thing. E-book is an okay idea for some people but I don't think its the same as being free from electronic devices, curling up in a nice warm place with a good book.

Its sort of the myth of the paperless office. People have been saying we'll stop using paper for years and even though we could do that doesn't mean that we should or will. I work for an ISP and we have paper all over the place. I think the same will be true of books.

"One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

I need to get glasses (1)

moodyweasel (229047) | more than 13 years ago | (#432608)

I prefer real books with paper. Unless they highly improve what is already on the market than they can keep their ebooks to themselves. I already spend way too much time in front of my monitor, I don't really want to make my eye-sight any worse by reading ebooks. I'm hoping this electronic paper will improve otherwise I'll have to stay with the tree-cutters.

I don't know about that... (1)

Jim Haskell (162156) | more than 13 years ago | (#432614)

There's something about paper that makes physical books easier to read. Plus, doing away with books would require someone to type in the book (yeah, yeah, OCR, but then they'd still have to go and check the book for errors, and that would be a pain as well) and very few people would want to do a job like that. Of course, menial labor is what 3rd world countries are for.

One step further (2)

TheOutlawTorn (192318) | more than 13 years ago | (#432620)

Why even bother reading in the future? Matrix style data jacks will be the rage, right? We'll just bypass that annoying low-bandwidth optical interface!

prediction - books will stick around (3)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 13 years ago | (#432623)

The advantages of electronic paper are numerous, to be sure. But it may be a long time before books disappear, if ever.

People have an affinity for "things", especially in the case of the written word. As much as some of us might want to live in a Bauhaus, minimalist world, there's something warm and reassuring about a shelf filled with books.

It's an ego thing as well - "see how many books I have!". If we didn't like the physical qualities of books, of having them in our own homes, we'd all use the library a lot more ;-) .

Finally, there's something pleasurable in a tactile and visual way about a well-designed book. That's why people love coffee-table books about Bavarian castles. It's as much the book itself as the pictures and fluff text.

Of course, I'd love to have true electronic paper. But I don't see it killing paper books. Remember how the computer was supposed to do away with paper in the office? Maybe we'll see something similar with books.

E-books (3)

Gorbie (101704) | more than 13 years ago | (#432633)

It will be a long time before e-books replace real ones, if ever. If for no other reason than books don't need to be powered, they will always be around. Heck, there are places in the world where paper books aren't really in e-books are very far off for them.

Think outside the more advanced nations, and the need for paper books is evidant.

Insert... (1)

SquadBoy (167263) | more than 13 years ago | (#432636)

a Diamond Age smart paper and/or drummers joke here.

Sure, that'll happen right after (3)

tomreagan (24487) | more than 13 years ago | (#432638)

we finish converting to the paperless office. Remember how computers were going to free us from the confines of forms, memos, and various other forms of paperwork? And how now we are up to our eyeballs in paper because computers make it so easy to generate?

If anything, I buy more books now to keep up to date on emerging computer technologies. So, I guess once again computers are having the opposite of the intended effect.

It won't happen... (4)

Leon Trotski (259231) | more than 13 years ago | (#432643)

I'm a lifelong technologist who's been on the Internet since the late 1980s. I make my living designing and promulgating services that run on the World Wide Web. I should know better than most that print is dead, the book is obsolete, the future belongs entirely to digital transmission, and the screen's the place for reading.

But books continue to matter, now and for any plausible future. Not as the only means to transmit information, entertainment, and knowledge--that hasn't been true for more than a century. Not as the dominant force among media--that hasn't been true for decades. But as a vibrant, healthy medium--one that serves a variety of needs better than any alternative and that makes good economic, ecological, and technological sense for the new millennium--the book just isn't going away.

One absolute article of faith in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s was that the DynaBook, or its equivalent, was just around the corner. This device offers better readability than a book and easier navigation. It is light enough in weight and has a high enough battery life so that it is as portable as a book; with rapid replacement of contents, it functions as a universal book. Every projection I've seen had such a device on the market long before now, at an extremely modest price.
It hasn't happened, and there's every reason to believe that it won't. Reading from digital devices, whether portable or desktop, suffers in several areas--among them light, resolution, speed, and impact on the reader--and there has been essentially no improvement in any of these areas in the last five years.

Many futurists have conceded this point. They now admit that people will print out anything longer than 500 words or so. It's just too hard to read from a computer, and it doesn't seem likely to get a lot easier. If every long text is printed out each time it is used, there are enormous economic and ecological disadvantages to the all-digital library: briefly, a typical public library would spend much more on printing and licenses than its current total budget and would use at least 50 times as much paper as at present.

What ever happened to Sony's BookMan, their portable digital book? Why didn't the DynaBook ever emerge as a real device? Why aren't we all using Personal Digital Assistants for most of our reading? The answers are complex, but the overall situation is clear. The PDAs being produced today and designed for tomorrow aren't intended to function as book replacements: the screens are small, hard to read, and awkward to navigate for lengthy text. It's increasingly clear that the public as a whole has no need for--or interest in-- digital book equivalents.
Two-thirds of adult Americans, and a higher percentage of children, use their public libraries. Roughly two-thirds of adult Americans purchased books last year. I'd guess that an even higher percentage reads magazines or newspapers. Is it possible that electronic tablets could achieve such ubiquity in the next few years--or even the next couple of decades? I doubt it.

Real Books will continue for a long... long time (2)

noahbagels (177540) | more than 13 years ago | (#432649)

I can't wait until it's easy to download pirated versions of Java/Oreilly books via gnureadster(tm). But seriously:

I will have a bookcase with real books on it, until someone with guns forcefully removes it from my house. You can't display great works of literature, or get the inspiration from a library, by reading an MP3-style playlist, and double clicking "War and Peace".

I enjoy not having to crypto-sign a release for a friend to borrow my copy of "1984", or even "Java in a Nutshell".

I think the only place for this is high-volume, low-cost books/literature:
etc... etc...

When Computer books cost $80 or more, and travel books the same size/weight in paper can cost $9.95, it makes you wonder. The cost in publishing, is writing, editing, promotion, and distribution - of which only distribution is made partially easier with e-books.

I don't think many people would choose to have Java in a Nutshell for a mere $4.95 discount, in e-form only, dependent on electricity, etc...

No more comic strip clippings (1)

athakur999 (44340) | more than 13 years ago | (#432651)

How long until we start hearing tech support horror stories of people trying to cut out passages from an epaper book?

This could have some very interesting uses in the children's book market though. Reusable coloring books come to mind, as well as small animations and the like.

Washington post on the same thing (1)

swestcott (44407) | more than 13 years ago | (#432655)

this was written a while ago on the same topic sort of interesting ok /

camping (1)

zaius (147422) | more than 13 years ago | (#432658)

If I take my e-newspaper with me camping, can I still use it to start a fire?

Paper will always be with us (3)

Sheeple Police (247465) | more than 13 years ago | (#432659)

The paper medium has survived the "killer apps" of Radio and Television, whose to say it won't survive now? I know I myself enjoying laying in my room reading Asimov, Tolkein, and Faulkner, and the mere tactile feedback of reading a book that is yellowed with age from being from the 70s and before is enough as a reminder that whatever great authors today - Stephenson, Clancy, Crichton - they are merely standing upon the shoulders of the greats who went before them.

Incidentally, check out this study [] by Xerox/EuroPARC comparing computerized methods of studying versus their paper equivalent. If I recall correctly, they found paper based studying led to higher grades then their computerized equivalents. However, the computer was much more popular for items such as research. Paper and e-Paper both have their roles within society, just as technology and agriculture remain two vitally different but vitally important aspects of human culture.

They can keep e-books and e-paper (4)

mav[LAG] (31387) | more than 13 years ago | (#432665)

Rather give me a bunch of plain old printed pages with content that I can:

  • read when I like and where I like
  • read in any order I like
  • quote from for the purposes of research or in the creation of a derivative work
  • sell to someone else
  • lend to someone else
The new technology may be great but it's how the content will be restricted that worries me.

Content is still King (3)

dingbat_hp (98241) | more than 13 years ago | (#432667)

e-Books - going to be huge, no question about it.

Will paper die out ? Well, I still covet first editions in nice bindings, solely because of the aesthetics. Taking a lesser version of that, one-use paper will always be more cute & cuddly than that impersonal info-gadget, so I certainly wouldn't hold my breath waiting for paper to vanish.

The real difference though is one that this article skated right over. Paper is one-use with pre-packaged content, e-Books are on-line and live. The difference between "The History of..." and "What's Happening to..., Right This Minute" is a very big difference. It's not so big for Tolstoy. It's not even very big for Steven King. But it's enormous for a medical textbook.

Like the rest of you web-dev geeks, I must read through the whole of the W3C site every few weeks, what with checking the odd snippet ten times a day. Usually it's because of my failing memory, but often it's because some small part was revised last week and I need the current version. Now can you imagine how you'd work with that on static paper ? It's cases like that that will push the e-Book, not some chapter-by-chapter "stop if you don't like it" licensing deal on a new novel.

Re:End of books? Probably no. (4)

sid_vicious (157798) | more than 13 years ago | (#432670)

I think that there are enough people out there who absolutely hate reading for long periods of time from a computer screen. Its hard on the eyes for one thing.

You're missing the point -- electronic paper (the kind described in the article) is a system where tiny spheres (black on one side and white on the other) are rotated to form words and images. It's not hard on the eyes like viewing a standard monitor -- that's the whole point! The overall experience is supposed to be very much like viewing a real sheet of paper.

When will... (1)

maroberts (15852) | more than 13 years ago | (#432671)

..authors such as Stephen King invoke the DMCA to prevent people making unauthorised copies of his latest book, as a result of the fact dead tree versions are predicted to disappear ?

It's not about the technology.... (3)

mblase (200735) | more than 13 years ago | (#432672)'s about the medium. Books will always exist for a few simple reasons:
  • They're portable. An e-book text file may be lightweight and easy to recycle, but if you don't have a reader or batteries, it's unreadable. Paper books can be read anytime, anywhere, in any conditions save soaking wet.

  • They're easy to understand. There's no learning curve for using a paper book. The read-flip-read "book user interface" has been in place almost since the invention of paper, and it actually has advantages that computer files don't. You have an intuitive sense of where you are in a book (near the beginning, halfway through, etc.) that you don't have with a computer file; you can stick a bookmark between the pages or dog-ear the corner; you can highlight important passages; you can scribble notes in the margins. And you can do all this no matter what book you're reading or how old it might be.

  • They're durable. Books can be burned or soaked, but short of that they're remarkably hard to destroy. Books from centuries ago have been preserved and read, despite the aging fragility of the paper; I can't even emulate computer software that was written forty years ago.

It's not like we haven't heard this spiel before. For years the likes of Lotus and Microsoft have been saying that our offices will be completely digital any day now and paper documentation will become a thing of the past, and all the while companies like Xerox have continued to make money on the simple reality that everyone, everywhere, still needs paper.

It's natural and obvious that the e-book publishers would be announcing that "that the day of ordinary books, magazines and newspapers was almost over." They, after all, want to make money on its replacement. But there are some things computers just can't replace, and this is one of them. E-books will supplement paper books in the Western world, but they will never replace them.

Fahrenheit 1700C (1)

xFoz (231025) | more than 13 years ago | (#432675)

In the future chip burning protests will be hot.

waitaminute... (1)

JohnnyKnoxville (311956) | more than 13 years ago | (#432680)

Don't people buy books to learn how to use computers?

Twisted firestarter (1)

dingbat_hp (98241) | more than 13 years ago | (#432681)

What do you think Li-ion batteries and Apple chargers are for ? 8-)

Ray Bradbury (1)

woody_jay (149371) | more than 13 years ago | (#432682)

Having read Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, and the coda written by Bradbury that followed, I feel that he probably would not mind too awful much as long as his books were not censored in any way shape or form. Fahrenheit 451 was more about the censorship of these books than the actual non-existance of paper books. Personally, I don't like staring at a screen all day, but I do love to read books. I think something is going to be lost if we start curling next to the fire with a blanket, glass of YO-J and our palm pilots to read my old Dr. Seuss books. Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

If this were true... (1)

Seinfeld (243496) | more than 13 years ago | (#432683)

...wouldn't computer books be the first to go? Yet if you've been to any large chain bookstore lately, the computer section is huge. Computer books are selling more than ever. If you can't get diehard techies to replace their books, you ain't gonna get Oprah's book club to go e-book only.

Re:One step further (1)

Bobo the Space Chimp (304349) | more than 13 years ago | (#432684)

> We'll just bypass that annoying low-bandwidth
> optical interface!

Wrong! The optical interface is plenty high enough, thank you.

It's the OCR software that is the disgusting bottleneck in this situation.

Re:prediction - books will stick around (1)

Mr_Icon (124425) | more than 13 years ago | (#432685)

As much as some of us might want to live in a Bauhaus, minimalist world, there's something warm and reassuring about a shelf filled with books.

It's an ego thing as well - "see how many books I have!". If we didn't like the physical qualities of books, of having them in our own homes, we'd all use the library a lot more ;-).

I predict that whenever we have some sort of hologram imaging mainstream, this problem will go away. Imagine -- punch in a few keys and your wall becomes a shell full of most exquisite works of literary art. Quite a thing to impress dates, too:

"And over there is my collection of Grecko-Roman philosophers... in their original tongue..."

Same goes for framed art works. Just click a few buttons and the walls of your house display a nice set of Van Gogh.

One day we'll have a downloadable set of skins for the interior of your house. "Hmm... I'm getting tired of this Austin Powers Shagadelic theme. I think I'm in the mood for some late 17-th century French.

Ahh... I give it 50 years. ;)

Dead-tree books will live for a loooong time... (1)

c.r.o.c.o (123083) | more than 13 years ago | (#432686)

Every time I see something like this, a prediction of all dead-tree books dissapearing, I'm thinking of one thing. Myself.

I can go for hours at a time (my record is around 6 hours), reading from a paper book without even stoping. It does not matter on what topic: novels, computer, math, etc. However, I am simply unable to do the same on a computer. Even on a 17in Samsung 753DF monitor that I have at home, set at 1024x768, I cannot read for more than an hour at a time, and that is a stretch. And laptop displays, or PDAs are even worse for me.

And this is not because I have bad eyes. I just had a check-up, and I have 20/20 vision (or whatever you call not needing any glases of any sort). It's just that I get tired a lot sooner when I have to read from a computer screen then when I read from a paper book.

So as far as I'm concerned, if I'll ever have a choice between an elecronic book and a paper one, I'll always choose the latter. And if only the electonic media would be available, I would still print it out.

Re:It's not about the technology.... (4)

banky (9941) | more than 13 years ago | (#432687)

Not to mention: one time I printed out a bunch of documentation on some obscure configuration setting, which included copious info on "what to do when your computer won't boot". Someone saw my stack of dead-tree dox, and in before you can say "Digital DNA", they chucked it and wrote me a nasty email about dead trees and things of that nature.

You can probably infer what happened. I needed the docs, they were on the computer that wouldn't boot, along with the bookmarks and pointers to said data.

True story.

e-books will become obsolete, regular books, not. (1)

MetalHead (54706) | more than 13 years ago | (#432688)

Let's see now, how many 5 1/4" floppies do I have in my closet? How can I read them without a 5 1/4" floppy drive? And what about that RLL encoded 30Mb hard disk with no working controller? And these are only 15 years old or so and already I can't read them.

Regular books are in it for the long haul.

E-anything is bound to be obsolete and inaccessible in a ridiculously short time. Well, publshers might even prefer it that way. But, for things which are to last a long time, electronic media is generall not hte way to go.

(albeit CDs seem to last a long time, and devices to play them don't seem to be disappearing.)

Re:I don't know about that... (2)

spinkham (56603) | more than 13 years ago | (#432689)

1) The article is about making a sort of paper that prints itself.. Would be just as easy to read.
2) Books are in digital form before they are printed... Often in TeX format I understand... Would be trivial to either distribute that, or some encrypted, compressed form of the same thing...

Scientific journals already heading this way (1)

call -151 (230520) | more than 13 years ago | (#432690)

Scientific journals already have begun to become increasingly paperless. I refuse to submit any of my work to journals that do not at least have an electronic version, and there are plenty of researchers who submit only to electronic-only journals.

Many of the issues are obvious, like

No extra cost for beautiful color charts and images

Quicker distribution, particularly internationally.

Generally wider distrubution

Easier to search from one's desk, instead of tromping around from library to library or ordering obscure journals.

Some electronic-only journals are free or much less expensive than print ones.

Rob Kirby [] , a prominent mathematician, has an excellent summary [] of the ridiculousness journal pricing (profit margins on the order of 40%) and it is great to see experts working to try and straighten things out.

The Paperless Revolution! (1)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 13 years ago | (#432691)

I can remember when the ushering in of the computer era (early 80's) would eliminate the use of paper everywhere. Nope, did not happen. Paper use went UP. So much for the paperless office.

Will paper books dissapear? Yes, but not for quite some time. Our current generation grew up with paper books. We like the smell and feel of them. My copy of The Lord of the Rings has pages falling out of it, and I would not have it any other way. The technology may be there, but the consumer desire to use something other than the dead tree version other than for the "nifty" factor is not.

Something about the way material is distributed will have to change for this to happen. What do I predict? Napster. Napster for books. MP3's were around before Napster, but Napster is a major influcence on the proliferation of MP3 devices. When books are more easially distributed, E-books will take off. Yes, you can get them now, I read Moby Dick on my Palm Pilot, or rather, I STARTED to read Moby Dick on my Palm Pilot, then I went out and bought the book because it was annoying on my Palm. I like my Palm for occasional reading, I read A book of Five Rings and Sun Tzu's Art of War on my palm, but I read those in brief stints. True, this new technology is *NOT* a palm pilot - its better, but I have a bias, and I will stick with what I know, as I suspect will most people until they are given an incentive to switch.

Anyone else think it ironic... (1)

1024x768 (113033) | more than 13 years ago | (#432692)

that the story below this one is about a "paperback book" on the subject of online romance?

Books still have a long life ahead of them.

Yeah, right... (3)

mbessey (304651) | more than 13 years ago | (#432693)

I keep hearing every couple of years or so that "books are doomed"

I don't doubt that eventually, it'll be possible to produce an electronic book that is acceptable to the vast majority of people (as opposed to today's solutions, which are generally not acceptable to most people).

For those of you following along at home, here are the major issues you need to resolve before electronic books replace the paperback:

Display resolution & contrast - I see good progress here, maybe in a couple more years.

Portability - Okay, no problem there

Batteries - You need either really long life, or solar cells. If I can't read it on the beach when I'm on vacation, it's not a "book".

Content rights management - I don't want to have to buy a new "e-book" for each novel I want to read, that'd be a waste. On the other hand, the authors need compensation.

Distribution outlets - Yeah, well, obviously the Internet. But who's going to manage the whole author->reader chain? Traditional publishing houses?

A reasonable user interface - Take a look at Acrobat Reader for an excellent example of how >b>not to design an interface for reading books. Ideally, you want something that takes advantage of the unique strengths of the medium (hypertext, multimedia, etc)

And, last but not least, cost. Books are still pretty darn cheap. Any electronic competitor needs to be either far superior, or not much more expensive, to compete.

On the other hand, anything that reduces the demand for paper has got to be a good thing...

I love it when (2)

tcd004 (134130) | more than 13 years ago | (#432694)

marketing gurus decide to tell us that they've got a better replacement for a 1,900 year old technology, (paper) which is still going strong.

fully replacing paper, or even just physical printed books, will be feat equal to reinventing the wheel.

Check out the guts of the PENTIUM 4 []
BWstockphotos []

Interesting aspects (1)

vinnythenose (214595) | more than 13 years ago | (#432695)

There are many benefits to these digital books. Mostly it comes from a convenience or laziness aspect. Libraries could become online libraries and the books equipped with wireless networking capabilities. You connect to the Internet, sign out a book and read it on your sheet of paper.

But from an historical point of view, this could launch our society into sort of a dark age. Not dark as in an unenlightened age, but dark as in, if something happened to destroy our technology and knowledge, future archaeologists would have nothing to learn about our society from.

Books can be thought of as analogue, as they degrade, they are still usable for a long long time, whereas digital, when it starts to degrade, it is very usable and then can become unusable in a relatively short amount of time.

And personally, I kinda like holding a book when I curl up to read (like I ever get the chance these days!)

It's really neat what we can do now a-days. I remember hearing about this digital paper last year. Cool...

end of books? I think not... (1)

rprycem (113790) | more than 13 years ago | (#432696)

What comes to mind is two words... Paperless Office.
That didn't real happen now did it. Computers just made us consume more paper.

Re:End of books? Probably no. (3)

IronChef (164482) | more than 13 years ago | (#432697)

Its sort of the myth of the paperless office. People have been saying we'll stop using paper for years...

You have it exactly. Wish I could mod you up.

The idea that a perfectly good older technology (printing presses, paper) will be blown away by a more sophisticated, more expensive technology is BS. Electronic books may be great for some things, but they will suck at other things -- a LOT of other things -- and printing companies will stay in business.

Then again, since I am in publishing maybe I am an old-fashioned dinosaur who is going to get modded down.

I can't see it happening... (2)

canning (228134) | more than 13 years ago | (#432698)

I work for a company that delivers investor communications on behalf of brokers. We have just started to offer delivery of information over the internet, this makes sense to both sides because of convience and lower costs. Even though through my eyes and the eyes of the brokers this makes more sense than the "old fashion" way of delivering paper copies, there still are people out there who prefer a physical copy.

I am continuously guilty of printing of text from web pages so I can read it. It's easy to say, and it has been said in the past, that paper will dissapear but I haven't seen any evidence of this, at home or at work. The truth of the matter is that the faster we can work with the aid of a computer, the more paper we'll generate.

It's much more convienient to take a book on a subway, to the park, on a plane, etc. than it would be to plug in a laptop and scroll though one. Why would people want to use up their laptop's valuable power to read a novel anyway? It would make more sense to download the novel or resource material and then print it out to read it.

But maybe I'm too old fashion.

Re:I doubt it (1)

CrazyJoel (146417) | more than 13 years ago | (#432699)

Perhaps the book experience could be simulated with e-paper. The info could be digital and dynamic while the pages would be still flexible enough to be turned.

Re:End of books? Probably no. (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 13 years ago | (#432700)

Even so... books will not die.

There will always be people who prefer a real book over electronic ones. Its the whole feel. The whole "I put it on my bookshelf and there it is". The ability to hand a book to a friend and say "Hey, I think you will enjoy this".

no doubt about it! (1)

emars (142040) | more than 13 years ago | (#432701)

Everybody loves the books. They are everywhere. On the trains, in the planes. Books will never go away. I hate books. I hate to read.

He predicted what now? (2)

OlympicSponsor (236309) | more than 13 years ago | (#432702)

If books don't exist in Farenheit 451, what were the "firemen" burning all the time? Grocery lists?

Let's keep the stupid (not to mention incorrect and irrelevant) literary references to a minimum, shall we?

Books Dead? (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 13 years ago | (#432703)

I think books will die when we have a true paperless office

Just look at how many books technology sells, and tell me that books are gonna die.

History (1)

HongPong (226840) | more than 13 years ago | (#432704)

I have heard futurists say that this era will be among the most poorly recorded times in human history, simply because digital information can be destroyed far more easily. The Library of Congress archives every issue of every periodical around as far as I know, but does it archive Slashdot comments?


All books electronic only....A very bad idea. (1)

FooGoo (98336) | more than 13 years ago | (#432705)

Let's say starting tomorrow all books will be available in electronic format only. Lets also say that one hundred years from now cataclysim strikes and we are all back to the stone age. I can still read but with no electricity to power my nifty PocketKnowledge PDA I am scewed.

How could the human race be expected to rebuild civilisation without access to the knowledge of previous generations. Remember folks it's happend before....the dark ages, the burning of the library at Alexandria....

Re:I can't see it happening... (2)

nezroy (84641) | more than 13 years ago | (#432706)

You should probably read the article before making a comment on it. The whole point is exactly to overcome your issues: e-PAPER will enable e-books. Material that is as flexible, portable, and cheap as paper, but that displays information based on electronic input rather than static ink.

Lounging on the beach... (1)

bziman (223162) | more than 13 years ago | (#432707)

enjoying the newest John Grisham novel. Just as the killer is about to be revealed...
  • Your battery dies...
  • The book prompts you to renew your license...
  • The embedded Windows OS GPF's...
  • A kid runs by with a squirt gun and shorts out your e-book...
And damn, you can't pick up your new thousand volume capable device at the local grocery store.

I'll keep my paperbacks for now...


Re:Sure, that'll happen right after (2)

Klaruz (734) | more than 13 years ago | (#432708)

Background: I'm in the Air Force, enlisted, I fix mainly vax clusters.

In our office we have lots of nt4/office machines. I do almost everything on a computer, even though I maintain our mostly paper/fiche library of tech data, I keep all that information in a card catalog type app I wrote. We use ms exchange for keeping track of most apointments, and exchanging messages between shifts. All our data on what we did on each job is tracked on a computer (secured properly of course).

What I find odd is, with all this technology, and we still go through ALOT of paper. It's not the worker bees doing it either. It's 80% bureaucratic bs. ALOT could be solved if we had digital signatures. Why should I have to sign my leave form? I fill it out on the computer, but I print it out and save my copy, copy for my boss, copy for the main office. Why couldn't this be done with a computer? Why do people feel a need to print emails? In my mind, printing an email falls under FWA (Fraud Waste and Abuse, what the military calls using things the wrong way), there is NO need for somebody to print out an email saying, "This meeting is now at 1300". Why does the MPF (Military Personal Office) need to send me a rip of my current data on paper to check? Why not pgp it and send it to me through email on the unclassified lan? Why do I walk in every day and find a new breifing on something for me to sign? Can't I be emailed this?

On a good (or sad, depending on your point of view) I think the Air Force has one of the best paperless offices I've ever seen. All our publications/forms are online, in electronic searchable form. I can find the latest regs on what my uniform should look like in a few keystrokes, no trees kill once a year printing the newest version for everybody. Almost all our tech data is going electronic, so I can carry a computer with all I need on it, instead of grabbing a few books/fiche out of our almost half million page library. Having a find key for my data would speed up my ability to fix things ALOT. I can email somebody at another base, or a contractor, and have a response in a few minutes, no need to go through mail/distro/whatever, and no trees killed.

The bottom line is, if the 'old timers' could get past wanting everything on paper, and people used secure digital signatures, we could save alot of paper.

Re:That's comfy... (3)

JWhitlock (201845) | more than 13 years ago | (#432709)

Nothing like curling up next to the fireplace with a 19" monitor and a whirring hard drive...

You still have a fireplace? Most of the houses I've seen had fireplaces, but they have been bricked up because they weren't built to modern code...

Most people argue for dead tree versions out of some similar romantic notion of curling up with a good book. But how often do we do this? I read in the morning, to wake up, during the day, for interest or work, and at night, to get to sleep. Never in front of a fireplace, and never in a hammock (just reminds me of yardwork I should do).

For me, I'd love a good, high-resoultion, light electronic book. I'm reading Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun (all four in one bindind), and loving it. However, it's heavy, hard to hold when in bed, I need a light turned on, and I wish I had a decent dictionary to look up half the obscure words (Autarch? Triskele?).

A good electronic book could do that. It could use a standard dictionary, and have a special dictionary for difficult words. Translated works could have both versions, and some translator notes. I could use backlight at night, and it would remember what page I'm on. For technical books, I could enter notes in the side, and it could keep track of the ten pages I visit the most. A Shakespeare play could live alongside ten great commentaries, as well as the Cliff Notes.

Nope, I wouldn't use the 19" monitor either. But it's easy to be flippant, and harder to actually think about it, and how it will be an improvement over paper versions. Do you still use a horse to get to work? Or maybe you grab your self-carved walking stick, and curse urban planners for inventing sidewalks.

But will the dog like it? (2)

sharkey (16670) | more than 13 years ago | (#432710)

Will e-paper be as effective at containing messes during housebreaking the dog as the New York Times?

On another topic, will the e-paper give off toxic fumes when burned? Newsprint makes excellent kindling for the fireplace: it burns fast and hot, is easy to manipulate, and doesn't poison the people settling in for a romatic glass of wine in front of the fire.

All in all though, it would be nice to have tough, waterproof pages that can stand up to reading and rereading as well as assaults by toddler.


comfy troll (3)

eric6 (126341) | more than 13 years ago | (#432711)

troll troll troll.

1. i love books too, as i love horses. doesn't mean we still ride them to work.
2. electronic paper IS something you can hold in your hands. it has all the advantages (clarity far better than CRTs, etc.) without the disadvantages (weight, size).
3. my favorite part: "Technology can do wonderful things, but it will never replace genuine human communication." i could make all manner of clever comments about "genuine communication" and its relation to technology, but i find most humorous the irony that this was a post on slashdot...


Re:prediction - Paper Books = LPs (2)

JWhitlock (201845) | more than 13 years ago | (#432712)

Electronic paper just hasn't reached the technology point, yet. Paper works because it is relatively inexpensive, easy to aquire, and the industry is using it. It has many downsides, though - it is not re-writable, it's creation is harmful to the environment, it's heavy, non-portable, non-searchable, etc.

Electronic paper has disadvantages now, but they are most technological. When they become technologically possible and cheap, they will be quickly adopted. Tech manuals will be first (can you imagine a Linux book that updates with kernel revisions?), because the industry can afford it. Schools may be next, since textbooks are so expensive anyway. Once college kids start using them (trade in my 100 pound textbooks for one cool-looking textpad? Sure), they will slowly make their way into the workplace, then into homes.

In terms of quality, CDs are inferior to LPs, but they are smaller and easier to keep in good working condition. Eventually, I expect digital formats without physical medium (provide your own) will take over. Paper will go the same way. I can't imagine a future where geeks go to Mars carrying 500+ kg of paper manuals. Mission Control won't allow it.

Re:That's comfy... (1)

madoc69 (316102) | more than 13 years ago | (#432713)

First in Star Trek paper books are still around and cherished... they all will be. Second... I hate reading off of monitors prefer paper everytime. But as for reading in the bathroom I recently helped a friend wire his LAN... including a jack in his bathroom so he could surf from the throne. Every real house needs a fire place... unbrick them and enjoy 500,000 years of huuman heritage. The use of fire from Hommo Erectus to now is the one one thing that makes use human. Chimps, Sea otters, and tons of other animals use tools, fire is ours and makes all the difference in the world.

Actually I like ebooks (1)

grapeape (137008) | more than 13 years ago | (#432714)

Since aquiring my PocketPC i have actually been reading much more often. At any one moment, I keep around 10 novels on compact flash and have found myself reading between appointments, in bed (no booklight needed) and in meeting its great you can read a book and still look very busy. When travelling I dont have to lug around 4-5 paperbacks and I never loose my place if i fall asleep reading, since if remembers where I dropped off. Sure I still enjoy the smell of printed paper and still buy my share of both paperbacks and hardbacks but for convenience sake I find ebooks a more than worthy addition to my library.

Re:prediction - books will stick around (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 13 years ago | (#432715)

You miss the entire point of owning something. Its not that you can show/see it, its that you can brag about it. How much bragging can you do if anyone can just obtain the picture from the Internet?

Original, physical, one-of-a-kind objects have that bragging ability.

See here is the thing. (1)

Neck_of_the_Woods (305788) | more than 13 years ago | (#432716)

This will happen of course, but it will be the day that battery life is next to endless or the low power is dirived from a passive source so the the longevity of the media is like a book. Also there will need to be non-backlit screens, surfaces that mimic paper to the point that it is no longer adventageous to store books in the current format. Books are just a median, like anything else. Right now books are perfect. They are to cheap to product, have a long life, and don't need power. Once you can stick it on a shelf without a external powersupply and come back and read in 10 years later, that is when book will vanish.


Re:That's comfy... (2)

Patrick McRotch (314811) | more than 13 years ago | (#432717)

Never happen. Technology can do wonderful things, but nothing can replace the experience of reading a good hardback book. I, for one cherish the experience of opening up a weathered classic and smelling the musty scent of paper and ink. Flipping the pages of an old book is a comforting and relaxing experience that no amount of technology can replace. In my experience, a good read is not based solely upon text and pictures, but the sum of all the readers surroundings come together to provide an almost surreal experience.

Sadly, some people seem to be under the impression that shiny gadgets can replace age old methods of human communication. Books have been an integral part of human enlightenment for several thousands of years. Would the Bible be the same had it been written on a microchip instead of parchment. Would the works of such great literary minds as Shakespere or Mark Twain have had the same impact on our society if they had been strings of ones and zeros on magnetic media. Would Uncle Tom's Cabin have caused the same revolutionary way of thinking if was something intangible that you could not hold in your hands? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding "NO!" Technology can do wonderful things, but it will never replace genuine human communication.

Re:ebooks (1)

MadAhab (40080) | more than 13 years ago | (#432718)

It will? According to the article (oh, that), it looks like paper. I think the strain is a few inches behind your eyes.

Boss of nothin. Big deal.
Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

XP and eBooks. (1)

banuaba (308937) | more than 13 years ago | (#432719)

I read in the Wall Street Journal today that, because of the patent that has been filed on behalf of Johaan Gutenberg for movable type and for the concept of 'two-eyed reading', Whistler is going to require all users of WinXP to wear a specialized pair of glasses (called 'DigiOpthoLooker Things', or 'DOLT' by MS) that, unless the text being displayed onscreen has been licensed (licenses are valid for 12.3 minutes or whenever the reader gets off the toilet), will turn jet black.

MS, in turn, is being sued by God and Douglas Adams (who filed for a speculative patent for his 'peril sensitive sunglasses' used in HHGTTG) for patent infringement on, in God's case, patent 0000000000001: Looking at stuff.

According to the WSJ, God has a pretty good case, and MS is looking to settle out of court, but only if God will turn Linus into a turnip.
This latest barrage of lawsuits does not bode well for the elimination of the paper book as we know it.

Jesus H. Christ on a crutch, I need to stop drinking so much coffe.


I would have thought so too, but (2)

twisteddk (201366) | more than 13 years ago | (#432720)

I would have thought so too, but this new tech is NOTHING like what You see today. The advantage of the mylar coated tech-thing they're creating now, is that it's so much more like a "real" book than the ones that are around now.

I've actually been to my local library to check out an "e-book" in it's present form, and it's not really nice to read on those limited calculator like pads. But that's not what this development is about. This will be so much more like a real book, have the general feel and look of paper end everything, only diff is that You can set bookmarks, make searches, and don't even have to strain Yourself to turn the page.
In my opinion, the E-book WILL survive, but for the very foreseeable future it will co-exist with the regular book, since As You point out, they're part of our history. Additionally the production costs are a lot bigger at present. But as the E-book becomes cheaper and easier on the eyes, I truely believe that it will eventually become accepted.

the Present day state of eBooks (1)

LISNews (150412) | more than 13 years ago | (#432721)

Though they will be sooner or later, here's a couple stories that paint a less rosy picture.

A couple not so encouraging eBook stories.
E-Books Barely a Blip on Publishing Radar [] says E-book sales barely show up in the $96 billion U.S. consumer electronics or publishing markets.

""Reading an e-book is just like reading a book ... but it's just less fun, more expensive and heavier," said Robert Hertzberg, an analyst with Jupiter Research. "That's not much of a marketing motto."

While Wired [] asks What if E-Books Cost Less? [] , one publisher is lowering prices to sell more books.

technology technology? (1)

zoftie (195518) | more than 13 years ago | (#432722)

There is more to replacing books, but simply
inventing something bettrer. One way it will happen,
technology is much cheaper and as easy to use as
books themselves are. The law is made that reading
paper books is illegal, so everyone hands them in
and starts to use new technology.
Other way, is it would offer nothing else was
offering to us before, like books were in the

Simply being a better techology, is not always good
just 2c

Re:That's comfy... (1)

eric17 (53263) | more than 13 years ago | (#432723)

Ummm, a book, last time I checked, is an instance of technology, not "genuine human communication".

Libraries (1)

r_j_prahad (309298) | more than 13 years ago | (#432724)

Publishing companies view public libraries as their worst enemy. Publishers want to be able to collect fees for every time their product is read, and want the "free" libraries to start passing this cost on to their patrons. This would have the effect of denying knowledge to the segment of our society most in need of it.

E-books will become a deadly weapon that can be wielded by publishers in their war on libraries.

Re:End of books? Probably no. (2)

GypC (7592) | more than 13 years ago | (#432725)

They said radio would kill books and newspapers, and television after that. You're no dinosaur. Just because paper is an old technology doesn't mean it doesn't kick ass.

Paper should be made from hemp instead of wood-pulp, though. Making paper from wood-pulp is like making hamburger from racehorses... it's wasteful and not as good.

The Bible is not my book, and Christianity is not my religion.

Re:Ray Bradbury (1)

woody_jay (149371) | more than 13 years ago | (#432726)

Don't have a fireplace, merely an analogy.

Re:That's comfy... (1)

haystor (102186) | more than 13 years ago | (#432727)

I just had a house built in Dallas, Tx and couldn't get a builder not to put in a fireplace. They were quite concerned about being able to sell the house if I should back out of the deal. Add to that the fact they all want to put the fireplace in the living room right where any sane person would put the tv. I kept saying to myself, "We're in Texas, who uses a fireplace?"

Six months later I managed to get a fireplace in the corner out of the way of the tv, but that was the best I could do (without paying extra).

The wrong idea (1)

ThirdOfFive (313093) | more than 13 years ago | (#432728)

I think people are getting the wrong idea about this e-paper. Everyone's complaining about CRT- and LCD-like eyestrain. The e-paper talked about in the article actually used ink. It's just that the ink they use changes color in response to a magnetic field. Once they get the resolution to an acceptable level, you would be hard pressed to tell a piece of e-paper from dead-tree paper by looking at it (it probably wouldn't feel like paper, but we're talking about eyestrain here).

Will e-paper ever replace regular paper? Probably not. But I for one wouldn't mind getting at least some of my reading material directly from the internet.


Re:End of books? Probably no. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#432729)

But I think that the whole point of this electronic paper thing is to create "virtual books", that is, an actual book with many pages that feel like paper but that can magically change the whole contents of the book with a click from Moby Dick to Neuromancer.

Heck, they'll probably even include the same art of the covers just to make it completely appealing.

Wouldn't you want a book that magically transformed itself from looking like the latest copy of Cryptonomicon to Rand McNally's Atlas?

I think that'd be pretty cool.

Re:I doubt it (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 13 years ago | (#432730)

There's a certain tactile sensation to a physical book. The turning of the pages (and the corresponding rustle), the physical weight (which to some extent implies the weight of the ideas. I doubt that this can be done electronically. Not to mention that you don't have to boot up a book to read it....

I have two consumerist rushes I experience. One is ripping shrink wrap off of something new and cool (that's rare, because I don't buy boxed software any more, and I haven't bought many CDs in a long time), and the other is my first full leafing through a book I've just bought (not like the superficial leafing in the bookstore). Maybe if they shrink-wrapped e-books I'd be OK, but I like the diversity of consumerist rush experiences I already have. Don't take that away from me.

Re:That's comfy... (1)

marcop (205587) | more than 13 years ago | (#432731)

Hauling my computer on a cart into the bathroom so I can read while I ... is loads of joy too.

Most people agree that the main replacement would be something along the lines of a PDA. Others have already commented on their disadvantages (small screen, poor navigation, etc.). I don't like reading notes on a computer - stresses my eyes after a while. Also, I find it more comfortable to have a reference book sitting just beneath my screen so I can quickly glance between it and the work on my monitor.

I really think that e-book reading (ala Star trek) will be the future. It will simply be a while though. Also, Star Trek doesn't address the issue of pay-per-use that I am sure will come up in our future.

Re:End of books? Probably no. (1)

sid_vicious (157798) | more than 13 years ago | (#432732)

Even so... books will not die.

I agree whole-heartedly -- I can't imagine a future where we don't have paper books, even if "electronic paper" does catch on for some applications.

All the same, the guy missed the whole point of the article -- electronic paper is specically made to OVERCOME the problem of eyestrain associated with computer monitors.

Re:Room Temperature (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#432733)

In the future book burning protests will be replaced with magnets.

Books need tech too (2)

dingbat_hp (98241) | more than 13 years ago | (#432734)

Books also depend on technology. You can't read them if it's dark, or if it's raining. Assuming that civilisation hasn't collapsed completely, is it easier for me to give you a copy of a book by beaming it Palm-to-Palm, or by photocopying a paper version ? Will a quality-made computing device outlive a cheap paperback on corrosive paper ?

The digital longevity issue is a good one. I can (and do) read 40 year old data sets, but I often can't read a 5 year old one. The reasons behind most of these happenings is that >20 years ago we defined data formats by doing just that; defining a format as fields, groups, rows etc. Ten years ago we instead would choose "WordPerfect" format -- devolving the format definition to an application vendor. Now it's these application-based formats that are the ones being lost (mainly), not those where the format was explicitly noted.

Fortunately, the future looks brighter. XML is a good start, but the increasing usage of schema-based formats with simple and commonplace syntaxes can free us entirely from application dependency. Who cares if the last XML parser is lost ? The XML syntax spec is shorter than a French holiday phrasebook, and we can just re-write one from scratch. Schema languages are increasingly self-describing and semantically powerful, so we can re-interpret our data by reading them.

the problem with electronic books (2)

gol64738 (225528) | more than 13 years ago | (#432735)

i've recently purchased a book from
first of all, after downloading the book, i realized that the book was in a proprietary format and i was forced to use a proprietary player (which basically sucked because it stuttered from time to time). i was unable to hear the book on my linux machine and had to install a microsoft product just to listen to it. what the hell is wrong with this picture?
that's like purchasing a book from the bookstore and having to read it with a special decoder spyglass! or how about purchasing a music cd that only plays on Sony CD players?
this is a serious issue and it needs to be fixed before it gets out of hand.
for this, i played the book on one machine, and recorded the audio onto another. then, i changed the recorded format to MP3 so i'm able to listen to it on my linux machine. i should make the MP3 available to the public just to spite those idiots...



Been There, Done That (1)

Lew Pitcher (68631) | more than 13 years ago | (#432736)

Three words:
Ben Bova "CyberBooks" []

It's an eye issue (1)

Baconboy99 (316107) | more than 13 years ago | (#432737)

Whether books are supposedly going to go away the issue still remains. When is there going to be a good way for people to read without using projected light. Is there any alternatives for this? Books seem to be the best alternative so far.

Try this vision: (2)

Minupla (62455) | more than 13 years ago | (#432738)

I have a fondness for long novels, unfortunatly they are hard to carry around in a pocket all day, being so bulky, like the Cryptonomicon hard cover I carried around. Lately I've been greading them on my palm pilot. It's perfect, light, backlit, I don't have to carry another thing around with me (since I carry my palm anyways).

It has all the convience of a book (I can read it in front of the fireplace, etc), and all the convience of a light small device.

A year ago I would have said no way. Now it's 'bring on the ebooks!'

Remove the rocks to send email

Books are obsolete. (1)

reubenking (220479) | more than 13 years ago | (#432739)

So are all musical instruments. Fragile violins -- obsolete. Bulky pianos and gargantuan pipe organs -- relics. Trumpets, clarinets, cellos, viols.. All are legacy instruments. Incredibly difficult to learn to play well enough to even produce a somewhat pleasing note, bulky, expensive, delicate.. Clearly these need to all be phased out in favor of Casio keyboards, what with their rugged solid-state design, practically infinite expandability, etc.

Books are just another irritating reminder of our heritage and culture and must be stopped at whatever cost!

Re:e-books will become obsolete, regular books, no (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 13 years ago | (#432740)

Let's see now, how many 5 1/4" floppies do I have in my closet? How can I read them without a 5 1/4" floppy drive? And what about that RLL encoded 30Mb hard disk with no working controller? And these are only 15 years old or so and already I can't read them.

Regular books are in it for the long haul.

E-anything is bound to be obsolete and inaccessible in a ridiculously short time. Well, publshers might even prefer it that way. But, for things which are to last a long time, electronic media is generall not hte way to go.

(albeit CDs seem to last a long time, and devices to play them don't seem to be disappearing.)

I've dealt with a well-known large aerospace company. Do you know how they long-term archive their design data? Microfilm. Because in 30 years, it will be relatively easy to get back. A microfilm viewer would still be easy to build, if there are none around. Put it on microfilm, and forget about it (OK, you think about it a little once in a while: "do we still have viewers and printers?").

They don't want to archive data in some application format, because in 30 years, they would have had to do constant maintenance on their archive, to ensure they could get the data back ("is Adobe Acrobat Reader 75.3 able to read our old pdf files?" "Nope." "Data migration!"). That is not the point of a long-term archive. You put it away, and if you need it in 15 years, you go over and get it.

Nope! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 13 years ago | (#432741)

I keep my grocery list on my palm pilot!

Maybe they'll be burning palm pilots...

It may happen...someday... (1)

StToast (222470) | more than 13 years ago | (#432742)

Do you think the world was saying "Oh..well there go paintings..with photographs, nobody will bother with having paintings done."

Just because there is an "alternative" to paper based books doesn't mean it's a "replacement"

Book versus "ability to read books" (reader) (4)

dmorin (25609) | more than 13 years ago | (#432746)

Since I just got a Rocket eBook I've had this conversation a few times recently. Something that my friend pointed out is "I can't loan you my ebook after I'm done with it." He's right -- when I buy them, they're hard coded to my device. Unless I loan him the reader, which would be in sticking with the old "book license" methodology that only one person can read it at a time. The problem, of course, is that then I can't read any books while he has my reader. That's no good. Something that's assumed about paper books that's different from ebooks is that paper books have the "reader" inherently installed. Each book is therefore a standalone thing. eBooks, at least for the moment, are not. You have to think of the book and the reader (the content and the display?) as two different things having two different licenses.

Yes, but how's the quality? (1)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 13 years ago | (#432748)

Disclaimer: I hate PDF software documentation. I know that it's cheaper for manufacturers to include the manual on the CD, but there's something about being able to pick up the book and read it when you're looking something up. I actually sprang for the Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit because of that. Sure, it may be free with TechNet, but it would take me reams of paper and a few toner cartridges to print the whole thing.

If the technology ever gets good enough, we'd never have to worry about books becoming obsolete again. The problem is screen resolution. MS Reader's ClearType is pretty decent, but until someone comes up with a screen that won't hurt your eyes after a few hours, there'll always be a market for books.

Re:That's comfy... (1)

onepoint (301486) | more than 13 years ago | (#432750)

Ahhh... the joy of reading a paper based book. And if it's an old one that you didn't read for a while it will bring back the fondest memories.

I bet there are tons of guys/gals whom recall their girl/boy friends walking up to them almost totally nakid and you putting down that book. Years later you've picked that book up again and say to yourself HMMM :)

Paper also has a smell and i think that has an intergral part in the reading.

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we're already there... if we choose to be (2)

dogas (312359) | more than 13 years ago | (#432751)

I recently wandered into a channel called #bookwarez on IRC. Instead of going to Barnes n' Noble to *buy* books the way you're supposed to, you can get them for free in PDF or HTML format. Most of the books I've seen available are tech-related (Teach yourself [language/app/cert] in 21 days), but I've also seen many fiction titles as well. This form of warez is new to me, but the fact that it's out there is kinda interesting. Most of the books I've seen are zipped up pretty good and I'd say 1000 pages = 2 megs. Makes you wonder what *won't* be available for free if you search hard enough. This brings up many ethical issues, and I don't advocate or reccommend that you go out and do this, but it is something to think about.

Re:End of books? Probably no. (1)

eric17 (53263) | more than 13 years ago | (#432753)

I'm sure that's true, there are people who collect old stuff just 'cause they like old stuff. Me, I can't wait until I can carry around my whole library in my pocket, transmit a book to a friend, and say "Hey, I think you will enjoy this".

Re:It's not about the technology.... (1)

WebMistress (72354) | more than 13 years ago | (#432755)

Aside from the practical reasons that paper books will endure (as described above by mblase), there are also more emotional reasons for them to remain strong.

Ever walk into a dusty used book shop and just inhale the scent of old paper? I know that I'm not the only one who finds this to be fantastic.

Next, books are very tactile. You touch them and turn the pages. This is a different feeling than hitting the "next page" button.

Books are more restful on the eyes than a backlit lcd or radioactive monitor. This is many people find them more relaxing. This is also why so many people read before bedtime. Conversely, study after study complains that monitors are straining on the eyes and cause headaches.

I love my computers and I love my PDA, but they have an entirely different appeal to me than my library. These are completely different media and while their functions can over-lap, they do not replace eachother.

Just my two cents...

!Smooth Transition (2)

maggard (5579) | more than 13 years ago | (#432756)

Of course with today's headlines reading:
Clearly the transition to e-paper won't be a smooth one.

while e-paper is nice... (1)

jmccay (70985) | more than 13 years ago | (#432757)

I see it as being too easy to tack on more charges to the consumer. When you buy a printed book today. It is yours. You can look at it when you want, and how you want. It is hard, if not impossible for a company to charge you for every time you read it.
Now, consider e-paper. It would be easy to come up with means to charge you everytime you want to read the book. You could be charge everytime you use index. You could even be charge on on the number pages you read. Essentially, buying a book and reading it will become services. You pay for the priviledge to "read" or "use" the book in only the methods the companies want you to use it. Think it won't happen? It will. Why? This could eventually happen if publishers/authors decide they don't like you reading a book more than once. Since they own the information, and with the current changes in the laws, they could easily dictate where, when, and how you read a book with e-paper.

I deffinately have mixed feeling about e-paper. I like the idea, but I don't like giving the publishers a new way to charge me.
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