The Sword and Laser discussion

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Bored woodless

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Paul | 97 comments Minor rant alert!

Ok, so everyone is happy with Kindles and reading apps and when new tech comes in it is de rigueur to provide the old tech with a snappy pejorative tag.

But it is very tedious to keep reading the phrase "dead wood book" Which actually is not that snappy.
Book works just fine. If you wish to distinguish books from ebooks the, well, just call ebooks ebooks and books books.

To say that a book is dead wood, might apply to a stinker of a read, but a good read means the wood is still living. ;)


Jim (kskryptonian) | 202 comments I think "dead tree" version implies a moral disgust with killing a living thing to print ink on it. Sort of like the anti-fur people campaign against fur. You killed a living tree and pulped it to make that paper. Man, you are reading a dead tree, not a book. Save the forests!


message 3: by Nick (last edited Jan 09, 2013 09:00AM) (new)

Nick (Whyzen) | 1260 comments I disagree. Book refers to the content. Dead tree, Paperback, hardback or eBook refer to the format. Grab some tums cause I doubt people will stop distinguishing the format when it is relevant. Trying to make people behave the way you'd like them to on the internet is like herding cats. I know because I've ranted before about other things.


Janny (JannyWurts) | 34 comments Just a comment, definitely not trying to raise hackles - but a responsibly managed forest (that is harvested sustainably for paper) provides habitat for wildlife and preserves open space.

A tree that provided a book requires no further energy use to reach out to generations. And a forest harvested with wise management is a far cry from a clear cut.

Some publishers use Forest Council Stewardship paper - look for the logo on the back of the books. (HarperCollins London is one of them, though HarperCollins USA is sadly NOT, yet.)


From this perspective, paper vs electronic format is not an 'either/or' situation. Paper forests sold off for development amounts to a loss beyond words, as it takes open land and covers it with infrastructure - usually not reversible by today's values, as removing it Costs Bundles.

I think there is a healthy purpose for both formats, why the line drawing controversy?


message 5: by Jonathan (last edited Jan 09, 2013 12:22PM) (new)

Jonathan | 183 comments My thought on books is this. As long as they're readable, I'm happy. It doesn't matter about the format distinctions. Whether they are more traditional formats of books (dead tree paperbacks and hardcovers), audio or ebooks, I have an extensive collection of both that ends up getting a lot of use.


message 6: by Ruth (last edited Jan 09, 2013 10:05AM) (new)

Ruth (till-tab) | 1098 comments Janny wrote: "I think there is a healthy purpose for both formats, why the line drawing controversy? "

Yes, I agree with Janny's comment - it isn't like ebooks don't leave their own imprint on the environment - I would never think of reading ebooks for environmental reasons, and never saw 'dead tree edition' as a term criticising paper books.

I like 'dead tree edition' myself, and find it to be a purposefully long winded and literal, quirky and amusing way of referring to physical books, just like when my dad asks for 'cow juice' instead of milk. I don't think people really use 'dead tree edition' for convenience, since 'paper edition' would work fine for that, so it doesn't have to be snappy; I think it's popular simply because people are amused by it.


Daran | 534 comments Jim wrote: "I think "dead tree" version implies a moral disgust with killing a living thing to print ink on it. Sort of like the anti-fur people campaign against fur. You killed a living tree and pulped it to ..."

Which is the more environmental choice is far from a settled. I think the conventional wisdom is that if you read 40 or more books per year (a safe bet for us chickens) then an ebook is the more environmental choice...if it's then disposed of properly.

Say you give one as a gift, and the person uses it once or twice (which will happen more and more as price drops), and then just tosses it in the garbage. That's much worse than if the same happened with a traditional codex.


library_jim | 208 comments I concur with an aversion to the term DTE or "Dead tree edition." It makes it sound like there are (environmentally) better options and that's not really the case. I have a friend in China that did a photo essay on e-waste which makes regular paper books look pristine by comparison.

I like reading in all formats, so don't really distinguish between paper, electronic or audio (unless I'm commenting on a narrator or something).


Daran | 534 comments from The Sierra Club.

I particularly liked this part:
Here’s the best answer, though: go to the public library next time you are downtown. Borrow three or four books, finish them all, then return ‘em next time you’re near the library. This is truly the most sustainable way to read: the good old fashioned public library. At Sierra Club Green Home, we preach “reduce, reuse, and recycle” and library books can be read by dozens of people over their lifetime. And once they are finally too dog-eared and beaten up to grace library shelves, they can be easily recycled since they are generally all paper (even the leather on deluxe bound editions can be recycled).


Sean O'Hara (SeanOHara) | 1723 comments People don't say "dead tree" to make some environmental point -- it's because paper is an old and outdated technology. Reading something on "dead trees" makes it sound primitive, like a clay tablet.


Paul | 97 comments There is no real environmental issue with the term.
Most if not all books these days will be printed on paper pulped from wood specifically grown for the purpose, or at least felling.
Such trees will be replaced. The only problem is if forestry replaces natural or ancient habitat.

Nor am I intending to herd cats. People will say dead tree whether I will or no. Possibly to engender feelings of self worth and well being at being pro active in new tech.
It may be old tech but "dead wood" seems to be used overmuch and in a pejorative context. I am NOT against ebooks and new formats. If it means folk are getting imaginative and creative stimulus losing themselves in literature then it doesn't make a ha'p'orth of difference if it is print or pixils.
I am uninterested in the "which is best/either or" argument.

To put it a more romantic way, the tree has been felled, but it provides us with so much as a book.
It lives and breathes with the thoughts and emotions of the author. Probably going too far to say that there is an unfurling and blossoming of those thoughts and feelings into our own being. It is anything but dead wood as far as I am concerned and worthy of respect.


Jon (jon17) | 27 comments I have coined the original term tbook (tree book).
It has no negative connotation associated with the word "dead" yet still helps differentiate from ebook when necessary.
Feel free to spread my invention.


Paul | 97 comments Tree book
Simple but effective.

Message 12 by Jon wins thread! lol


Israel | 65 comments I have always seen "dead tree edition" as similar to "snail mail". It's just disambiguation that makes me smile.


Emy (EmyPT) | 98 comments Just a thought: What about those older books printed on pulp made from, say, rags?


Jim (kskryptonian) | 202 comments I enjoy saying things I made up and then being schooled. I did not know the info about the watermark, or Sierra club having an official stance. That was pretty neat to learn. Thanks!


bookthump | 44 comments The term "dead tree edition" has always rubbed my fur the wrong way. To me, it sounds elitist, a term designed to shame those who prefer to read a physical book. Personally, I prefer books. I like the weight of them, the feel of the pages, the smell of the paper and ink, the sound a thick hardcover makes when I close it. I do not begrudge anybody's choice of reading media and do not think those who choose e-readers over books are superior or inferior and vice versa.

I understand that most people who use the term do not do so to suggest elitism or to shame page-turners like myself. Their intent is not to establish some kind of class division between the tech-forward and the plebeian book readers. It is just a tongue-in-cheek term established in a digital age. Allowing myself to get offended about it isn't going to affect anybody but me so I have learned to ignore term and not be bothered by those who use it.

On a rainy day, I am not interested in curling up with a good handheld tablet computer.


Ruth (till-tab) | 1098 comments Daniel wrote: "On a rainy day, I am not interested in curling up with a good handheld tablet computer. "

Neither am I, but I don't think that's how anyone reading ebooks thinks of it. Whether I'm reading on my kindle or reading a paper book, I still think of myself as curling up with a good book.


Emy (EmyPT) | 98 comments Daniel wrote: "The term "dead tree edition" has always rubbed my fur the wrong way. To me, it sounds elitist, a term designed to shame those who prefer to read a physical book. Personally, I prefer books. I li..."

I agree with everything you say Daniel!

Books are books. eBooks are so-called to separate them from Books as a generic description, because 'book' is still perceived as the thing technically described as a Codex. While linguistically a 'tree book' is the nearest I can get to the word, to me that conjures up images of either a tree sculpture or a book with a trunk for a cover... I've seen pbook used, meaning paper book. That at least conjures up visions of paperbacks or A4 bound dissertations!


OR

(or even this)


message 20: by Paul (last edited Jan 11, 2013 05:45PM) (new)

Paul | 97 comments Those look great Emy - thanks for the images.

I had a hazy memory concerning the etymology of the work "book".
Interestingly, on checking:

'The word comes from Old English "bōc" which (itself) comes from the Germanic root "*bōk-", cognate to beech.[2] Similarly, in Slavic languages (for example, Russian, Bulgarian, Macedonian) "буква" (bukva—"letter") is cognate with "beech". In Russian and in Serbian and Macedonian, another Slavic languages, the words "букварь" (bukvar') and "буквар" (bukvar), respectively, refer specifically to a primary school textbook that helps young children master the techniques of reading and writing. It is thus conjectured that the earliest Indo-European writings may have been carved on beech wood.[3] Similarly, the Latin word codex, meaning a book in the modern sense (bound and with separate leaves), originally meant "block of wood".'
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book#Ety...

Since electronic readers like to distinguish between "dead wood" and electronica, they technically have no right to use the word ebook! lol

I propose a portmanteau of Font and Kindle = Fontle.
Deliberately close to the lost tactile experience of handling a physical book. :P


Rik | 501 comments I just find dead tree book funny which is why I use it and will keep using it.


bookthump | 44 comments Rik wrote: "I just find dead tree book funny which is why I use it and will keep using it."

Yup. I figure that's why most folks say it and why I decided to stop getting my hackles up about it.

And noooooooooo! Veronica just said it in the Tad Williams intro video. Why, Veronica, why?!


Paul | 97 comments Whimsical yes funny maybe a few times.
By the time it has been said/heard numbering in to 3 figures it is still funny?

Why did the oak go to the bridge?
To fill in the captain's log.

Joke startdate 66498.3


L.S. Burton (lsburton337) | 56 comments I think terms like 'dead tree' and 'snail mail' are catchy terms that more e-prone people use because it's slightly witty. It then catches on, though it's slightly degrading to these things which still have value, but just not to their own personal tastes, just not new.


message 25: by Veronica, Supreme Sword (new)

Veronica Belmont (veronicabelmont) | 1096 comments Mod
Israel wrote: "I have always seen "dead tree edition" as similar to "snail mail". It's just disambiguation that makes me smile."

Yes, I just say it because I think it's funny. Nothing environmental or political about it.


message 26: by Thurman (last edited Jan 20, 2013 02:33PM) (new)

Thurman (nycblkboy) | 145 comments Daniel wrote: "I understand that most people who use the term do not do so to suggest elitism or to shame page-turners like myself. Their intent is not to establish some kind of class division between the tech-forward and the plebeian book readers. It is just a tongue-in-cheek term established in a digital age. Allowing myself to get offended about it isn't going to affect anybody but me so I have learned to ignore term and not be bothered by those who use it."

I totally agree.

I don't care what other people call a book. WHy do you? :)


Paul | 97 comments Thurman wrote: "Daniel wrote: "I understand that most people who use the term do not do so to suggest elitism or to shame page-turners like myself. Their intent is not to establish some kind of class division between the tech-forward and the plebeian book readers. It is just a tongue-in-cheek term established in a digital age. Allowing myself to get offended about it isn't going to affect anybody but me so I have learned to ignore term and not be bothered by those who use it."

I totally agree. I don't care what other people call a book. WHy do you? :) ..."


I think Daniel said he is not bothered by it ;)

The expression, even if tongue in cheek, does seek to distinguish a sense of superiority.
The term is decidedly pejorative, in exactly the same way that "snail mail" was coined to show the superiority of instantaneous communication over letters that could take days to be delivered.

The connotation of dead wood is one of a carcass.
Or else of something superfluous that needs to be removed.

In my opinion the expression lacks insight into what a book is. Which is anything but dead wood. Which is to answer your question, I do care about what other people call books. It is a matter of respect.
If you can't figure out why that is so important then maybe go read Fahrenheit 451 ;)


Louise | 343 comments It does seem to imply one is better than the other, that those reading kindle versions are somehow doing something better for the environment. Which they're not. I let it pass and don't care much, but I do find it odd and short-sighted.


Kirsten Bailey (klbailey) | 82 comments Wow, there is some heated discussion here!

I never saw the term "dead tree edition" as derogatory, just a funny way to make the distinction.


I really don't think it is disrespectful of books. We are all readers here. We all grew up reading paper books (unless there are some very young people on this forum!) We wouldn't be here if we didn't love books. I've often heard paper books referred to as "real" books, which I think is more derogatory towards ebooks than "dead tree edition" is towards paper books.

I love paper books - I love the way they smell, the way they feel in my hand, I love collecting my favourites on my bookshelf, and being able to lend them to others. I always swore I would never switch to reading ebooks.

BUT a couple of factors changed my mind. To get the books I want to read, mostly I have to order them from overseas. It takes forever for them to get here. When S&L were reading Hyperion, I ordered it the day the book was announced, and didn't receive it before the end of the month. So, I switched to Kindle so I could get the books straight away. For me, I do think the Kindle is a better environmental choice than buying books and having them sent halfway around the world.

I know I'm rambling here, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that regardless of the format, they are still books, and I think books are respected by the people in this group. I don't think anyone using the term "dead tree edition" is trying to be derogatory.


Thurman (nycblkboy) | 145 comments Paul wrote: "In my opinion the expression lacks insight into what a book is. Which is anything but dead wood. Which is to answer your question, I do care about what other people call books. It is a matter of respect. If you can't figure out why that is so important then maybe go read Fahrenheit 451 ;) "

To me a book is a book. As long as it is enjoyable i'm happy no matter what it is called. I love books but as long as I have the text of the book I'm good.

Fahrenheit 451 is about burning ideas. If you have the text/ideas the physical book doesn't matter as much.


Paul | 97 comments It is not about disliking eBooks.
Kindles are not necessarily a better environment choice unless you power it up with a windmill or solar panel.
But that is beside the point.

Not sure about it being a witty moniker. It is waiting behind the chicken to cross the road in terms of hilarity.

I find it odd that people on a forum about reading have so little regard for how words and label are used.
My OP was an attempt to understand that a book is not just a bit of old dead tree. It is so much more.
It become a vital energy of ideas.
If you refer to my post with the etymology explained, the word book has it's root (pun alert) in tree/wood.
The tree from which the book was made would have been regarded as having a vital spirit. The runes were not just letters of an alphabet, they had an inner meaning. You don't have to believe in the metaphysics of ancient peoples to get a sense of wonder about the nature of books. But you start to lose that when they are habitually called dead wood.

As a matter of interest, why is it so bad to have to wait?
Is it so hard to wait for the molluscy postman to slimeslide up the path with the book?
Couple of weeks is hardly forever.


Ruth (till-tab) | 1098 comments I believe the person you are referring to said she had to order the books she wanted from overseas. That may take more than a couple of weeks, and also makes it more difficult to participate in groups like this. I expect the postage isn't overly cheap either, so an ebook reader is probably a wise investment. I was living in Japan when we read Hyperion, and would have struggled to get hold of it had I not already owned a kindle, which I bought so I wouldn't have to leave all my precious books behind, and could get new ones whenever I wanted.

Also, paper is made from dead wood. I'm not sure what about that term is so offensive; it's factual. It is the words that are alive, in any format. When people say 'dead tree edition' there is no implication that the words or the story are dead. The sense of wonder comes from the words in the book, not the format.


Kirsten Bailey (klbailey) | 82 comments Paul wrote: "As a matter of interest, why is it so bad to have to wait?
Is it so hard to wait for the molluscy postman to slimeslide up the path with the book?
Couple of weeks is hardly forever"


Until I started participating in online book clubs, I didn't really mind waiting to order books. But if I want to participate in the discussions with everyone else, I need to have the book AND get time to read it. That's just not possible when it takes a month for the book to get here.

I'll admit that it's partly laziness - I didn't try to get the book from the library, and I could have. I chose to get an e-reader because it was convenient for me. I'm not saying it's the best choice for everyone, or that e-books are better than paper books. I'm just saying it was a good choice for me.

We're getting sidetracked from the issue here anyway.


message 34: by Rick (last edited Jan 20, 2013 03:23PM) (new)

Rick "Kindles are not necessarily a better environment choice unless you power it up with a windmill or solar panel."

An iPad costs $1.36 to charge. For a year. You can make the argument that building the device has a significant impact but the storing and transmitting the books and charging the device has close to zero impact where as paper is at least partially using a resource that has impact (see a clear cut hillside and the resultant erosion) as does shipping the book.

However, I dont think the environmental impact is an issue of much significance. I buy most things in electronic form now for practical, personal reasons - storage space, ease of finding a given book and the ability to look things up easily in an ebook. I rarely loan books and selling them makes no sense in my market (I get about 1/8th the original price and only if the book is in Like New condition) so I don't care about those reason.

"Also, paper is made from dead wood. I'm not sure what about that term is so offensive; it's factual."

Dead tree is a pejorative term and annoys me. It's juvenile and meant to demean paper books and isn't needed since we have perfectly good words for them - paper books. Print edition. No one used 'dead tree' until ebooks came about and if you think the term's meant neutrally, you're naive.


message 35: by Louise (last edited Jan 20, 2013 03:31PM) (new)

Louise | 343 comments Its not so much the making of and charging I have issue with, but the piles of them that are going to end up in landfills the moment they break. That's one of the biggest impacts of electronic devices these days. Also, whereas kindles are made from plastic, in turn made from oil, which is finite and in fact, originally made from dead trees as well. Books are made from trees, which can be (and usually are) replaced by planting more. So, all in all, I suppose its a silly argument. They're both dead trees.

I don't have a storage issue because I nearly always go the library for books these days, or a second hand shop that will take the book off my hands again once I'm done with it.


Rick Couldn't agree more Louise. People can and should find a responsible e-recycler who doesn't ship the things overseas or bury them. Electronics can be recycled - too often they're not.


Ender | 59 comments I don't think dead tree edition term is meant to demean paper books, or at least I don't see it that way. It's not really making any environmental point by itself, it's just the redundant description some people find funny. I do anyway.
I know some vegetarians who kept calling meat meals "dead animal" (and similar names) and later they expanded it on leather boots and clothes. So I started to use it as well. And when I use such term I am not saying: "They had to kill a tree/an animal to make this product and I find it bad thing so stop doing it, people!" No, I am saying: "I know."


Ruth (till-tab) | 1098 comments Rick wrote: "No one used 'dead tree' until ebooks came about and if you think the term's meant neutrally, you're naive."

There wasn't a need to differentiate until ebooks. I've never said 'dead tree edition' in a demeaning way, and plenty of others here have said the same, so it isn't naive of us to find it neutral. I love my dead tree books and my dead tree furniture, and my dead tree pencils too. I also love my plastic made from oil made from dead tree ebook reading device. I'll stop now, though, because it's silly to argue about what we call something.


Ender | 59 comments Ruth, exactly - dead tree furniture and so on...


Camilla Hansen (MalazanShadowDancer) | 51 comments I dislike the term "dead tree" myself, but I think the problem lies elsewhere: You might not mean it as demeaning to printed editions, but how will other people know that? It can create terrible first-hand impressions and in general impressions of one's opinion on printed edition and/or the term "dead tree".

Well, I think it's relevant to rethink one's use of specific terms and/or words in such cases, if one doesn't want to be misunderstood, since many (like me) think of the term as a negative stand towards printed editions.


message 41: by Rick (last edited Jan 20, 2013 04:00PM) (new)

Rick Ruth & Ender - Yeah, sure. You use dead tree neutrally. Right. Because you can't call it a paperback or 'the print edition.' And I do not, for a second, believe you call your wood furniture dead tree furniture nor do I believe that you call your pencils dead tree writing instruments. Try again because that's simply not credible. Google the terms.

Like someone else above it boggles my mind that people who post here about the writing in the books we read can turn around and claim that they don't think the words they use have any power or meaning.


Ender | 59 comments It's really just a matter of language evolution. When you are told 'break a leg', you don't really freak out and get angry. We shall see what DTE will become in the future.


Rick Oh lord, now you're trying to take the high ground and present it as some positive evolution in English? Really? Go google 'dead tree books' and you'll notice that it's not considered a neutral or postive term. You'll also see tens of thousands of results and virtually none for other 'dead tree' uses.

And I'm not freaking out and getting angry. You're coming close to resorting to personal potshots at people who don't agree with you, which means you don't really have an argument in my eyes.


Camilla Hansen (MalazanShadowDancer) | 51 comments But there's really no need to start a new term that causes confusion at first and then having to wait for it to settle in and people to start understanding it. At least not when there are perfectly good other words for it - like the specific terms paperback and hardback. Then we're definitely sure of which kind of books we're dealing with.


message 45: by Ender (last edited Jan 20, 2013 04:15PM) (new)

Ender | 59 comments @Rick
Pardon? Why do you perceive my comment that way? I just noted an idiom which would literally mean something negative but in fact is positive, something similar that could eventually happen to the dead tree edition term. And 'freak out and get angry' was just a description of possible behavior you could experience if the person you wish the luck that way didn't know the idiom.
I don't know English language to pull out more examples but I know languages evolve this way... Czech does.
Oh I forgot - I don't use dead furniture and so on, I use the thing with dead animals I mentioned earlier, though.

Camilla, then we don't really need synonyms either, one word for one thing...


message 46: by Louise (last edited Jan 20, 2013 04:17PM) (new)

Louise | 343 comments Except that technically "break a leg" was and is intended to be negative, because being positive is bad luck. Saying something positive will, to anyone superstitious, cause something negative to occur. Which would mean you're saying "dead tree" edition intentionally to be negative...or something...

Ok, now I've confused myself...


message 47: by Ender (last edited Jan 20, 2013 04:22PM) (new)

Ender | 59 comments Louise, yes, in my language we break necks in the very same meaning. When you hear it, you know they don't really want you to die that way, which was the point I was trying to make.

...Which should have meant that pointing out the fact that for the book a tree had to die doesn't necessarily mean that we find it a bad thing.


message 48: by Louise (last edited Jan 20, 2013 04:27PM) (new)

Louise | 343 comments Maybe its because *I* find trees dying a bad thing. Not that I don't think its still just the way it works, but I can't help it.

Anyway, that might be why I find the phrase distasteful.


Thurman (nycblkboy) | 145 comments Now i'm sorry I restarted this discussion. :(


message 50: by Ender (last edited Jan 20, 2013 04:46PM) (new)

Ender | 59 comments @ Luise
Well, yeah, but that's only when you mention it as a separate event. Trees, animals, people - everything dies every day and after it's death is transformed into other things (food, soil...) and one of those things can be a book. The death itself (while being certain 'sacrifice') is a part of complicated process of maintaining the environment. In my country (and I'm pretty sure in most countries it is similar) we don't only chop down trees, we also plant them so they can be eventually used again (and of course before they are used they serve just as natural forests would). And from this perspective the death is not really a separate event that should be considered a bad thing, in my opinion.

Edit: OK, I can see you basically mentioned it in the post.

Also one more thing - it reminded me how piggies (from Ender's saga) were treating their forests. I think they would consider the use of DTE term a way to honor their ancestors ;)


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