The odd animosity toward ebooks

Someone called my attention to an Aeon article by Craig Mod describing his abandonment of digital books, returning to the traditional paper variety.

From 2009 to 2013, every book I read, I read on a screen. And then I stopped. You could call my four years of devout screen‑reading an experiment. I felt a duty – not to anyone or anything specifically, but more vaguely to the idea of ‘books’. I wanted to understand how their boundaries were changing and being affected by technology. Committing myself to the screen felt like the best way to do it.

I found this opening odd.  Mod took up digital readings because of a “duty”?  This, to me, is the wrong reason right from the outset.  It makes sense to read things digitally, instead of via paperback or hardback, not because you’re supposed to do it, but because it’s more comfortable, convenient, or pragmatic, not because you feel any obligation to.

Anyway, after describing the way the Kindle enhanced his reading experience, he discusses how things changed for him.

But in the past two years, something unexpected happened: I lost the faith. Gradually at first and then undeniably, I stopped buying digital books.

…As a consumer of digital books I feel delighted, but as a reader, I feel crestfallen. All of the consumption parts of the Kindle experience are pitch-perfect: a boundless catalogue, instant distribution, reasonable prices (perhaps once too reasonable, now less so with recently updated contracts).

…Take for example the multistep process of opening a well-made physical edition….The object – a dense, felled tree, wrapped in royal blue cloth – requires two hands to hold. The inner volume swooshes from its slipcase. And then the thing opens like some blessed walking path into intricate endpages, heavystock half-titles, and multi-page die-cuts, shepherding you towards the table of contents. Behbehani utilitises all the qualities of print to create a procession. By the time you arrive at chapter one, you are entranced.

Contrast this with opening a Kindle book – there is no procession, and often no cover. You are sometimes thrown into the first chapter, sometimes into the middle of the front matter. Wherein every step of opening The Conference of the Birds fills one with delight – delight at what one is seeing and what one anticipates to come – opening a Kindle book frustrates. Often, you have to swipe or tap back a dozen pages to be sure you haven’t missed anything.

I can sort of see where Mod is coming from.  For decades, I often enjoyed the experience of opening and holding physical books, particularly ones that were well made.  Except that most of the physical books I actually read were trade paperbacks, where the experience was decidedly more pedestrian.  And, at least to me, all of that pales in comparison with the ease and convenience of digital reading.

Back in 2009, I started with the Kindle 2, and after a year or two of tentative experimentation, pretty much switched wholesale to reading electronically.  These days, most of my book reading is via the free Kindle app, which I use on an iPad when at home, or from my iPhone when out and about.  Sometimes, I use the Kindle cloud reader to read from a laptop or desktop computer.

What makes this super convenient is that my position in any book that I’m reading stays synchronized across all of these devices.  And, as Mod described, acquiring a book I’m interested in can now be done in seconds.  (Although I’ve found that it definitely pays to read the almost universally available preview chapters prior to actually shelling out money.)

It’s also extremely convenient to be able to look up the definition of any unfamiliar word or phrase, or to google details on a concept I come across in reading.  And if I’m looking for a particular passage in a book, full text searches save enormous time over the old and often incomplete indexes that were only occasionally available in nonfiction books, and never in fictional ones.

I’ve reached the point where virtually all of my reading is done digitally.  The only time it isn’t is when I want to read something that, for one reason or another, isn’t available electronically, then I might begrudgingly order a physical copy.  The idea of going back to physical books is, for me, like returning to reading scrolls.

Aside from personal convenience, digital publishing has largely created a new industry of indie published books.  Yes, a lot of what’s being put out there is junk, but a lot of it is competent well written stuff, and some of it is brilliant.  Just this week, I read three ebooks on writing, books that probably wouldn’t have existed without the Kindle platform, or if they did, would have been extremely difficult to find.

There are still plenty of people who thumb their noses at indie books, but then people used to thumb their noses at the 19th century penny dreadful novels and 20th century pulp magazines.  There was always a lot of dreck in the old pulps, but a lot of classics emerged from them.  And many genres today, such as fantasy, science fiction, superheroes, and hard boiled detective stories, largely developed in the pulps, with major writers such as Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Jack Vance, and many others developing their craft in them.

Over the decades, these old magazines have largely disappeared, a victim of shifting markets as the proportion of the reading population declined, largely due to the rise of competing forms of entertainment such as television, video games, home video, cable channels, and the internet.  As the economics caused the outlets for published works to shrink and consolidate to a few large publishing houses, it became increasingly difficult for aspiring writers to get published.  Indeed, a few short years ago, getting published was about as likely as breaking into show business, requiring not only talent but also an enormous amount of luck.

Digital publishing has resurrected the pulp layer of writing, one that I think is much needed for a healthy publishing ecosystem.  Authors now have a new proving ground similar to the old magazines and penny dreadfuls, readers have access to a lot more writing, including more experimental works, and traditional large scale publishers can now assess a prospective author’s selling potential by looking at their actual sales history as an indie author.

There’s been a lot of press this year about ebook sales being in decline.  What that press appears to be missing is that it’s not ebook sales in general that are in decline, it’s the ebook sales of traditional publishers.  Given the high prices that traditional publishers want for their books, this shouldn’t be too surprising.  A lot of ebook readers are switching to lower cost indie books, which typically sell for under $5.

And publishing snobs should remember that the current hit novel and movie, ‘The Martian’, started as a self published book.  As did ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and many other hits from the last few years.  You might regard these books as hopelessly low grade entertainment, but I’d argue they’re no lower grade than a lot of stuff that got published traditionally.

All of which is to say, that I hope digital publishing and reading are here to stay.  For me, returning to the world of only paper books, with a handful of large publishing houses acting as the gatekeepers to what gets published, is a bleak and depressing proposition.

Yes, the new paradigm isn’t problem free.  I do occasionally worry about what happens to my book collection  (or increasingly my video collection) if Amazon tanks, and I wish they and other online retailers did a better job policing their customer ratings.   (A depressing number of the ratings are obviously purchased.  Amazon is making some highly publicized attempts to combat it, but it’s not clear how well it’s working.  Again though, previews are your friend.)

But to me, the solution to problems with the new paradigm is to find ways to improve it, not to retreat to forms we find comforting only because they are centuries old.  If our ancestors had done that, we’d still be reading clay tablets.

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34 Responses to The odd animosity toward ebooks

  1. john zande says:

    I, for one, love my reader.

    Like

    • I’ve gotten a lot of good recommendations from you over the years. Often they were ebook novellas, which would have been difficult to obtain in 2005.

      And of course, you yourself are an indie author: http://goo.gl/XrmE66

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hariod Brawn says:

        I’m firmly stuck in the tree-slaying past, and bought John’s physical book, unable to abide those nasty little e-readers.

        Like

        • Haha, well, with print on demand, you do get the opportunity to buy physical copies of indie books, which is very cool. Though you do miss out on a lot of novellas and short stories which are often only published electronically. But if you tried e-readers and they weren’t your thing, I can certainly understand avoiding ebooks. Life is too short and reading too pleasurable to do it in any manner that takes away from your enjoyment of it.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. el Ted says:

    I love my kindle. I’ve read Proust’s A la recherche … on it (and on paper.) It was much easier lugging the kindle around. I thought it might be a money maker to bottle essence of paper in a spray can and a paper rustle app- to mollify the luddites. Oddly, and maybe sadly, I have lost the love I once had for browsing bookstores. I suppose that it’s been replaced by browsing the internet. Also, my reading tastes are very much aligned to Project Gutenberg, hence I can read the best for free.

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    • I know exactly what you mean on bookstores. I used to enjoy spending hours browsing in them. Now I rarely go in. I have replaced it with internet browsing, although that browsing is only occasionally at Amazon itself; I usually find books I want to read by reading about them in reviews or getting recommendations from internet friends.

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  3. amanimal says:

    Have you read any of this stuff?

    ‘The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens’ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/

    I haven’t really looked into it, but skimmed the piece and saw “haptic dissonance”(links to a paper) – sounds interesting. I do read quite a bit online and on paper “the old way” 🙂 I don’t use an e-reader, but only because the portability isn’t an issue for me(that reminds me – think I left ‘Darwin’s Cathedral’ in a Dr’s office somewhere in the county).

    I’m pretty sure I recall a scene from Star Trek:TNG where Picard, in his Ready Room, responds to a friendly jibe about his preference for books over screens with an impassioned elaboration of the joys of holding a book in your hands. That said, I’m having ulnar nerve problems in part I think due to holding a book in my hands, specifically the constant, though slight, pressure on my already irritated “funny bone”. I doubt an e-reader weighs as much as 500 pages of text. The ergonomic improvement might help – definitely have to look into it, thanks!

    I hope(and think) it’ll be the case that we’ll have both for some time.

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    • Thanks. I’ve read similar articles to the Scientific American one. I’m definitely not an expert on this, but I think you have to be careful because not all onscreen reading experiences are the same. Reading a paper white Kindle reader while curled up on the couch is a very different experience from reading a PDF on your desktop computer screen.

      I also think we just have to admit that most of us have been reading physical books all our lives, and only started reading the ebook variety a few years ago. We’ve been doing the paper book thing for so long that we’ve forgotten any awkward or limiting aspects of it. It takes a while to reorient our intuitions to the new experience. If someone studies us during that transition, the new way will almost always look inferior.

      Sorry to hear about the ulnar nerve problems. A reader is definitely much lighter than a large hardback book, and you can get one for around $50 these days, although if you have a smartphone or tablet, you might want to try the free app first. If you go the phone or table route, one tip I’ve learned is to make the brightness substantially lower in the Kindle app. I use the white background but with the brightness so low it looks grey. Helps substantially with eye fatigue. (This is a non-issue with the paper-white Kindles.)

      I definitely think we’ll have both for a long time to come, if for no other reason than there are too many people who just don’t want to change their reading experience.

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      • amanimal says:

        Thanks, my mother uses one – I’ll have to talk to her. Lately I’ve been doing more reading in the car, waiting for my wife who can’t drive at the moment. The 534 pages of McGilchrist’s ‘The Master and His Emissary’ is a bit awkward(and gets heavy) in the confined space. I can see an e-reader being a huge improvement in that aspect.

        Thanks on the elbows, they’re really a minor distraction(though fascinating to learn about) as long as I address them now ergonomically – just related to my reading 🙂

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        • The Master and His Emissary? Sounds like your usual light reading 🙂

          Reading electronically is definitely nice in enclosed spaces. I find it much better to read off my phone on a plane than a book or magazine.

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          • amanimal says:

            “light reading” – LOL, what can I say, I still haven’t figured out how we work 🙂 … and ‘TMaHE’ goes back to a recommendation from my early HP days, so it’s been waiting 4 or 5 yrs.

            (I’m a couple chapters in and McGilChrist has covered the basics and foundational info and is now getting to where it’s starting to get really-don’t-want- to-put-it-down interesting)

            Liked by 1 person

          • amanimal says:

            (errr … McGil”C”hrist – Fruedian slip? I think I can’t help but “see” the Christ in McGchrist every time I look at it)

            Liked by 1 person

        • amanimal says:

          (“Fruedian“?! – argh, I give up), (LOL)

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  4. For me, whether or not to use my kindle/ipad depends on a lot of things. If I go to Amazon and see that the paper book is significantly cheaper than the e-book version, I’ll go paper (unless I want to read it immediately). Plus, I find it easier to go back to passages in paper books. I know you can type in a phrase with e-books, but often times I don’t remember that phrase…maybe I only have a vague notion of what I want to find. However, I usually remember the relative location of the passage (for instance, somewhere at the bottom left side, somewhere between pages 20-40, or somewhere after that spot I dog-eared, etc.) For me, paper books are not an aesthetically superior experience, but I find them easier to navigate.

    On magazines, I like paper. I get the New Yorker and several cooking magazines, and I like to be able to clip out recipes or whatever. It’s nice for photocopying and sharing with friends.

    On the other hand, If I get into a phase where I like to read at night, I certainly don’t want to be holding War and Peace above my head. I fear my arms will give out as I fall into slumber and I’ll give myself a black eye. Plus, if I’d had this technology in college, I could’ve saved a TON of money. Most of the classics are either free or dirt cheap. It’s also wonderful to be able to carry around a whole library while traveling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really annoys me when the ebook is more expensive than the physical version. I’ve avoided buying the book at all before out of protest, although admittedly it hasn’t stopped me when I really wanted to read something.

      I can’t remember the last time I bought or read a physical magazine. The internet pretty much killed them for me. In most cases, I don’t even frequent the magazine web sites. I always found info in most magazines to be pretty poor quality, propagating a lot of common myths and pseudo-scientific nonsense. In the old days, I didn’t have any alternatives, but not now. Not that we still don’t have to be very careful about our information sources on the internet.

      Watch out for those War and Peace books. 🙂 I remember being annoyed with how thick one of George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books were, how awkward it was to just hold and read. Now I notice how long a book is, but its size isn’t the constant presence it used to be when reading it physically. One of my friends bought the whole series (up to that point) in one uber ebook, something that wouldn’t have been possible physically.

      Liked by 2 people

      • My husband is definitely a physical paper book kind of guy, so we get the New Yorker and NY Times, plus a few cooking magazines. I think he’s given up on the New Yorker and I just read the short stories to see what’s considered “literary” these days. (Most of the stories feel empty or incomplete to me, to be honest, but occasionally there’s a jewel.) Oh, and, of course, he cartoons. (Although, those are often over my head…maybe I’m just not au courant enough.)

        On magazine web sites, I agree. I rarely go there unless I’m looking up a recipe. I guess it’s mostly the annoying pop up ads. Once they start flashing at me, I just don’t care about the article any more.

        On thick books, I’ve literally cut them into chunks in the past just so my arms wouldn’t get tired! (I’m not one of those people who takes care of books or finds them precious.) When I’m done, I just tape the book back together, unless I’m feeling lazy. Unfortunately, War and Peace wasn’t a paperback and it was my husband’s, so I couldn’t take the scissors to it. Plus, it was a nice edition…something I usually avoid. I prefer to be able to destroy at will. 🙂

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        • “Most of the stories feel empty or incomplete to me, to be honest, but occasionally there’s a jewel.”

          I have to say that’s the attitude I’m developing toward short stories. As market research, I read a ton of them over the summer. Most fit your description: empty or incomplete. Given all the SFF short story markets, I was thinking they might be a good proving ground for an aspiring SFF writer. But I didn’t enjoy reading most of the stories in those markets, and can’t summon enthusiasm for trying to meet the editor expectations.

          That, and I now strongly suspect that most of the readership of those markets (these days a small fraction of what they were decades ago) are primarily writers, or aspiring writers. (Ironically, it was one of the editors arguing against that notion that convinced me of its likelihood.)

          I’ve had better luck reading independent ebook novellas, although I usually stick to ones by authors I already trust.

          “I’m not one of those people who takes care of books or finds them precious.”

          Me either, which probably made it easier for me to switch almost completely to ebooks. I used to drive some of my friends crazy by bending the pages to mark where I was (on my own books, not theirs), even on hardbacks. But I’ve never chopped a book up before; that’s pretty hardcore, but I guess you did what you needed to for a comfortable read.

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          • I’m surprised that the Sci-Fi short story market is like that. I would’ve expected a lot of variance in styles there. Does it feel overly literary?

            I just started “Infinite Jest” and it’s quite a heavy book…I’m thinking about taking my scissors to it.

            I know what you mean about other people’s books. I try to be careful with them, but honestly, I rarely borrow them unless I’m sure that person isn’t too picky about them. I just don’t trust myself.

            On “Infinite Jest” and somewhat off-topic, my first impression is that it’s got that fresh-out-of-Iowa-Workshop feel. On the other hand, it’s drawing me in. There’s a chapter written in a kind of parallel world ebonics. It took me a long time to figure it out, but once I did, I was impressed by the linguistic internal consistency and power. So far the book feels like it belongs to Fantasy, except that it’s not. There’s a lot to puzzle out, which is a ton of fun for me. (And gives me hope that my own novel won’t feel too difficult. Mine’s nothing compared to this.) I have hopes that this one will go somewhere.

            On the other hand, I was totally drawn in by “Corrections” (Jonathan Franzen) even though on the whole I didn’t think it was a great novel. Stylistically, I guess I like the “literary” stuff—or maybe I should just say “clever writing”—even though I often feel disappointed at the end.

            BTW, I just read an article in the NYT book review that you might find interesting:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/29/books/review/workshops-of-empire-by-eric-bennett.html?_r=0

            The review isn’t wonderfully-written, so no need to read it. I just found it fascinating that the author being reviewed, Eric Bennett, came up with the thesis that Cold War politics helped shape the rules of writing workshops today. (Rules like, “Show, don’t tell.”) The idea is that anti-Communist writing would be apolitical, tending toward the individual and concrete rather than philosophies and ideology.

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          • On SF short stories, some of them were definitely literary, in the sense of being about a character’s personal struggles, although that in an of itself wouldn’t necessarily turn me away. It’s just that too many of them weren’t actually a story, just a setting, mood, or situation description. Or if they were more than that, if there was an actual plot, it was often incomplete with no clear resolution. Others were only barely science fiction or fantasy at all, more about, for instance, someone’s love life problems that were only tangentially effected by the speculative elements.

            Writing short stories is difficult to do well. I fully realize that. But given the sheer number of stories that get submitted, it’s hard for me to believe that the editors can’t find actual stories with a recognizable beginning and end. They seem to be selecting for the stuff they’re publishing.

            I’m not saying it’s all bad. Just after posting my comment above, I read a flash fiction story that was pretty cool. But they seem to be a minority of the stories, and I found going through the chaff too tedious.

            I’ve never read ‘Infinite Jest’. I’m not big on dystopias. I often like stories set in a dystopian setting, but when the whole story is about how miserable life is in the dystopia, I tend not to enjoy it.

            That review is interesting. Thanks for sharing! Show-don’t-tell comes from an attempt to avoid being ideological, specifically Communistic? I guess I can see it. It reminds me of an article I read years ago which described the effect Ernest Hemingway had on modern literature, reducing the proliferation of purple prose substantially with his objective newspaper reporting like style.

            Several weeks ago I read the book ‘Self-Editing for Fiction Writers’ (which I highly recommend) and was impressed when the authors cautioned against too much earnestness in adhering to show-don’t-tell. To me, show-don’t-tell works best when you can show something through story, such as (for instance) showing a character’s bigotry through his actions rather than just noting that he is a bigot. But when show-don’t-tell gets applied to things like physical descriptions, I find it eye glazing. I much prefer just being told that someone is old rather than being given all the details of oldness.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I can totally see the world-building aspect of Sci-Fi getting all the attention. That makes a lot more sense than what I was thinking. I think a lot of what draws people to Sci-Fi and Fantasy is that aspect…or at least, that’s what people talk about. But I have to say, I’m shocked that the plot gets so ignored in that genre (in short stories). In fact, that’s where I would’ve thought to look to find a tight plot. Fascinating.

            I’m generally not big on dystopias either. I remember reading 1984 back in HS. It took me forever to finish that book. It was so depressing.

            I haven’t gotten far in “Infinite Jest” since I’m also reading “Submission” (which is really creepy to read right now, considering Paris). So far it—Infinite Jest—has been delightfully clever. I can’t say much more about it, but clever writing goes pretty far for me. If nothing else, I figure I’ll glean some interesting techniques from it.

            On that article, I can see how the “show, don’t tell” rule could come out of avoiding Communistic ideology, but who really knows. In any case, I doubt it’s continued use has anything to do with Communism, although it might have to do with avoiding ideology in general (specifically, the ideology of novice writers). If I were a writing instructor, I might find myself using the rule as a way to avoid reading boring work. But that would be lazy of me…and I’d probably do it anyway.

            I have to admit, as much as I love him, Tolstoy’s philosophical rants were boring. If he were more of a philosopher, I wouldn’t have had a problem with them. On the other hand, “all happy families are alike” is telling at its best.

            Telling works quite frequently, but I haven’t pinpointed why or how. In some cases, it works because it’s specific and interesting, in others because it moves things along or provides a great transition. I’m sure there are other times when it works, and it’s probably one of those things that’s highly individual. When writing in 1st person, it seems you have the liberty to do a lot of telling since you’re only giving that person’s POV (and that may be why writing instructors like to turn writers toward 3rd person limited.)

            On “oldness,” I can see how a quick one sentence “showing” could do a lot of heavy lifting. But I tend to find physical descriptions pretty boring, so it had better be either short or interesting in itself. The latter is much harder to pull off.

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          • “Telling works quite frequently, but I haven’t pinpointed why or how.”
            I’m definitely still figuring this out myself, but I currently think it comes down to whether the details further the plot.

            For example, in a story about a hiking trip, if a character needs to buy a backpack and there was nothing interesting or difficult about doing so, just telling the reader that they did it is probably the way to go. (And then only if telling it conveys something to the reader, like maybe this character is not a regular hiker.) On the other hand, if details about the purchased backpack later become important, then showing the purchase, with maybe a debate with a friend or salesperson about those details, is probably worth doing.

            ” But I tend to find physical descriptions pretty boring, ”
            Totally agreed. I recently read the preview for a book that, based on the description, I thought I’d really enjoy. But the opening pages spent so much time describing things that I found it hard to pay attention. I’m sure there were people entranced by the detailed setting descriptions, but I couldn’t even finish the preview, and so didn’t buy the book.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for an excellent post. It had never occurred to me how the burgeoning indie publishing movement is serving the same function as the penny dreadfuls and pulps did in earlier publishing ecologies. And I wonder: with the profit margins of the big publishing houses getting hammered by e-books and by competition with non-reading leisure activity, perhaps the day is coming in which the big publishing houses won’t write a contract for anyone who hasn’t proven themselves in indie publishing or the blogiverse, (unless the writer is a celebrity of some kind beforehand). It sounds analogous to what is happening in many genres of music, and for the same reasons..

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    • Thanks. I think that’s a very real possibility. It may become even harder to get published traditionally in the future if you haven’t built your creds in the indie market first. Traditional publishers reportedly lose money on most mid-list authors and I could see the publishers cutting them loose to focus on the bestselling authors.

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  6. James Pailly says:

    I collect fancy leather bound versions of my all time favorite books, but beyond that reading from a Kindle feels about the same to me as any other format. Good writing is good writing, no matter what format it’s in (which is also true of bad writing).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wyrd Smythe says:

    “All of which is to say, that I hope digital publishing and reading are here to stay.”

    Oh, I’m sure they are. At the same time, I doubt physical books will go away, either. I do wonder if someday our home 3D printer will print books on demand and after reading, we’ll throw them in a recycle so the material can be reused.

    If you’re someplace without electricity for a while (say camping), a paper book is nice. And if a bear steals it, you’re only out the few bucks for the book.

    The way I look at it, my music library has gone from vinyl to cassette to 8-track to CD and finally to iTunes. And my video library has gone from VHS to DVD and BluRay and finally to OnDemand. I’ve re-purchased any number of albums or movies…

    But all my books (the larger collection) are still gen one paper versions. High time to update those, too. I’ve mostly been waiting for superior screen rez and long battery life. I want a device that feels like a piece of cardboard, contains thousands of books, and lasts for weeks.

    We’re pretty much there. 🙂

    (FTR: I bought a paper copy of The Martian. I still haven’t gotten around to buying any kind of a tablet, yet. No doubt I will eventually.)

    Like

    • On 3D printing, you might be able to print a reader at some point, although the raw materials for it might be a lot more expensive than for a paper book.

      I enjoy reading on my iPad, but tablets can be pretty pricey. Amazon has one of their Fires for $50, although the word from friends who picked one up is that it’s very basic. Still, as a tablet it will come with a lot more options than a straight reader. But based on what you say above, for just reading, the Kindle paperwhite might be your best starting point.

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      • Wyrd Smythe says:

        Well, you know the hot ticket these days is the 3D printer that prints another 3D printer. Kind of the beginning of the Von Neumann probe idea!

        You might print a reader to replace yours, but printing “disposable” books would be the thing. (Heck, right now, your periodicals can be electronically delivered to your laser printer — and that paper recycled — so we’re pretty much there already. The only thing a 3D printer would do is give you nice binding and a fancy cover. 🙂 )

        When I say “tablet” I just mean a flat keyboard-less touch screen computer. I’d never buy just a reader.

        And the thing is, the bulk of my computer use (writing code and writing text) demands a full keyboard and a good monitor, so the urge to buy any kind of tablet isn’t very strong. More that it would be nice to leverage some of the advantages of electronic text (bookmarks, searching, synchronized notes and markup).

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        • Not sure what to tell you there. I use my iPad for reading books, but also surfing the web, tweeting, watching videos, and a few other things. That said, I never blog from it, or seldom even comment from it, preferring a solid keyboard for those things. Not sure if I’d be willing to shell out $500 just for the reading part.

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          • Wyrd Smythe says:

            Yeah, that’s pretty much what I’d use any tablet for (minus the tweeting). I just don’t do those things nearly as much as I use the computer for writing or research.

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  8. Steve Morris says:

    Agreed. I borrow my wife’s Kindle and am now getting one for Christmas (from my wife, so I don’t keep borrowing hers!) I like both paper books and ebooks. I would never pay more for an ebook than a paperback.
    What I enjoy about paper books is the initial voyage into the book, as you discussed, plus the ready availability of the “blurb” on the back, plus the experience of seeing the cover each time I pick up the book. These are things that allow you to become more attached to the book as you read it. Without that strong cover image in my mind, I find the experience of reading the book is subtly lessened. I also lose the sense of the length of the book, i.e. whether it is a novella or a blockbuster.
    These things could be fixed by Amazon if they showed the page number rather than the percentage, and displayed the book cover every time you opened the book.
    As for the huge potential that ebooks have opened up (mainly thanks to Amazon) for indie writers, this is absolutely massive and is only just beginning to play out. Even people like me have been able to publish books, which is an extraordinary privilege.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure what the Kindle devices are showing these days, but the Kindle app on iOS and the cloud reader now show page numbers, at least for newer books.

      I know what you mean about covers. In truth, the cover barely registers with me anymore, except perhaps when I’m browsing. I don’t know if I’d want the cover to come up every time I opened the book, but it might be nice to have it as an option, or to have a quick way to look at it without having to bookmark my current location, go to the front of the book, gaze at it, then return to the bookmark.

      You’ve published two books under the name Jackson Radcliffe, right?
      http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=jackson+radcliffe
      Did I see you tell Wyrd that you were working on a new one?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Steve Morris says:

        Thank you for the cough advert. I have several novels and short stories in production, but whether any will see the light of day, I have no idea.

        My new Kindle arrived this morning, but must remain in its box until the appointed hour. I’ll be interested to see if it is different.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Kindle Oasis: a quick review | SelfAwarePatterns

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