Books I Loathed discussion

E-Books - Love or Hate?

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message 1: by Lena (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:50PM) (new)

Lena I just finished reading this Newsweek article about Amazon's new e-reader, the Kindle:

As much as I love the idea of being able to carry hundreds of books with me at one time and have instant access to anything ever published, I can't imagine how a cold, gray electronic device could ever be as sensual and wonderful as a bound book. "Snuggling up" and "computer" just don't mesh for me. But then, I am pushing 40, so maybe I'm destined to be old-fashioned. What do you all think?

message 2: by Maria (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:50PM) (new)

Maria | 19 comments Well, while I wouldn't regularly read books on a PDA, I do understand the appeal of taking an e-book on the metro or on a plane. It's small, light, you can take as many books as you like with you, etc.

It might not be as nice and cozy as a paper book, but it sure is convenient. Especially if you suddenly get hit by an urge to reread that bit in "H.M.S. Suprise" where Jack and Stephen have a fight about the sloth, or look up a quote from "The Little Prince" that you couldn't quite remember, or whatever. Two weeks ago in the middle of the workday I got the most insistent desire to reread "Three Men in a Boat." So I went to Project Gutenberg and printed it off. If I had a device for e-books, I wouldn't have had to kill that tree, you know?

I completely understand how this sort of thing is incomprehensible to someone who loves the old-fashioned pleasure of cracking open a new book, or letting an old book open by itself to a favourite passage, but it's sort of like my old algebra teacher complaining how CD sound quality just can't convey emotion like vinyl does. That may be true, but CDs and mp3 players sure are convenient.

message 3: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:51PM) (new)

Jason (gireesh42) There is nothing I look forward to more than an effective e-book. While old fashioned books are going to be around for a while (at least until your generation has largely passed, Lena), e-books are inevitable and I've dreamt of them since I first started using a computer at the age of six or seven. Still, I will continue to build my paper library even as I begin to discover the pleasure of e-reading.

There are two big problems which this Kindle may or may not have solved. The first (and most important) is a display that won't strain my eyes. It sounds like their new technology may address this, but I won't know until I've held one in my hands and played with it. Second, I read far more older literature than contemporary, so I probably won't buy somethign like this until electronic libraries have a sufficient number of volumes. Of course, copywright and publishers and all that stuff is going to slow down the process of transferring old volumes to digital, but it sounds like all sorts of entities are working on overcoming that issue as fast as possible. This process will increase exponentially as products like the Kindle become popular.

In "The Singularity is Near," Kurzweil speaks briefly about the book as the next technology that must evolve. He makes a good point when he shows that there is always a stepping stone in this evolution (i forget what he calls it exactly), a "false" technology which everyone thinks is "IT" until the evolution is complete and we are left with a whole new reality. He cites the record as an example: the cassette tape was the "false" improvement which lasted briefly, until it was completely overwhelmed by the CD (and we're well on our way to a complete digital music world).

The question is where does teh Kindle fall in this spectrum. I think we've passed the "false" stage, and the Kindle is merely the Beta version that has to test the water. It will be surpassed very quickly.

I hope to have an e-book I use all the time in about five years. It's the reference capabilities that really excites me. Say I'm reading a book that cites another author. I click the link, and bang! I'm reading the exact sentence quoted in the original text. The possibilities are endless. Plus, I read a LOT of books at once and I hate having to choose which volume to take with me...

message 4: by Kristin (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:51PM) (new)

Kristin Thanks for the link, Lena. Fascinating reading. I am always lugging around a too heavy book or two with me wherever I go and so the idea of having everything, including internet connectivity, in one small machine sounds like heaven. You can highlight passages to save and not have to transcribe them into a journal or type them into a computer to have them at ready access, you can read heavily footnoted books with the original sources right there,and the concept of installments like in Dickens time are all really exciting prospects. And cheap classics at the prices you wouldn't even get at a used book store! Best of all, I love the idea of library e-books just disappearing from the Kindle's database when the book expires. As soon as major libraries are on board, I'm saving up and buying myself a Kindle.

message 5: by Aimee (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:51PM) (new)

Aimee It definitely isn't the same, but the one website I use,, has been handy for me to catch up with on classics I may have otherwise never gotten around to.

I'm currently reading Anna Karenina in snippets sent to my email every day, and I like it!

Though, I do prefer snuggling under my blankets at night with a book I can't put down. So not the same using electronics...

message 6: by Lori (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:51PM) (new)

Lori (tnbbc) Maybe I am behind the times, what are you using to download and store these novels... on a PDA (one of those handheld mini computer-ma-jigs?) or is there an actual electronic book downloading thing that I should be asking my husband to buy me for xmas? I feel a little lost.

I mean, I know you can download to your home pc, which I have never done before (I much prefer holding and handling the actual book...)

Oh Dear, I hope no one is laughing at me.

message 7: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:51PM) (new)

Jason (gireesh42) I doubt anyone is laughing much, Lori. The world of eBooks is convoluted, messy and confusing. Which is partly the reason it is taking so long for it to catch on in the main stream. Personally, I'm trying to figure it out myself and would appreciate advice from others. This is probably not the best place to have involved conversations about it...i'm sure there are other communities that can tell you a lot more.

There are several dedicated ebook readers like the Kindle discussed here. The Sony Reader i think is the only other one that uses E-ink, or whatever the technology is, as a display method. Both of these offer books that are of a proprietary file type so you can only read them on those devices. There are lots of books in other formats, however, offered by all sorts of different services that you can read on PDA's, computers, etc.

I think what kind of device you decide to get depends largely on what you read regularly...

I'd appreciate it if someone knew of a site that puts all this information in one place...

message 8: by Lori (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:51PM) (new)

Lori (tnbbc) Jason, thnks for the reply. I checked out the video that was linked above, and while i think that the e-book looks like a pretty convinent thing, I dont know if I could really get lost in it the same way I do with a real honest to god printed book...

Plus, I wouldnt be able to show off my ever-growing library (something I never quite cared about when it came to CD's -- I was happy to burn and download every song that came to mind)....

I also think 10 bucks is a bit much per book when you really think about it, its only words on a screen that you bought, not anything hard or concrete. Perhaps if the books were only a few dollars a pc.....

message 9: by Xysea (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:52PM) (new)

Xysea  (xysea) I am in agreement with Lena. I am destined to be old-fashioned. There's something about holding an actual book in your hands. Also, its not always convenient to read an e-book - either on a reader or a laptop. It can be a bit awkward.

But I'm a young foagie. Maybe I need to get with the times?

message 10: by Aimee (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:52PM) (new)

Aimee ok. I'll admit it.

Not only do I love the way books smell...but I love the feel of a shiny new cover on my cheek. It's so smooth and cool!

ok. I'm a little weird.

message 11: by Shannon (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:52PM) (new)

Shannon  (shannoncb) I'm with you Aimee, nothing will ever replace books for me. I love to breathe in the pages - especially the cheap paper, for some reason that smells really good! - and feel it between my fingers, the thickness of the book between my hands. For me, it's the matte covers that I love. No matter what technology they come up with, they can't compare.

On the practical side of thigns, books are great for curling up on the couch with, reading in bed, at the table, on the subway, walking to the subway... And I don't get eye strain from staring at a screen! What's not to love?

And as for the environmental side, several publishers are now using recyled paper (Raincoast Books in Canada did this for Harry Potter - they were one of the first), and what goes into computers is toxic as hell and not recyclable at all. I just wish they didn't publish so many terribly-written books - that is a waste of finite resources!!

message 12: by Erica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:53PM) (new)

Erica Poole | 65 comments Hm, I think that the ebook will have it's place, but it really cannot replace the experience of a paper book. Besides, how could I read my ebook in the bathtub? Worst that happens if I drop a real book in is that it puffs up and has to dry out, with this sucker, I could electrocute myself. If I was young and had a small studio apartment but still had as many books as I do, I would probably like this for some stuff, but I like my bookshelves to hold books!

I guess I could also see it as good for travel. I hate to have to buy tons of books when I am traveling or having to lug them around with me, because if I like the book, I want to keep it and it is no fun carrying tons of books around. But at the price of this thing, and the price of ebooks not sounding much cheaper, I wouldn't pay for it as an addendum to the real thing.

message 13: by Holly (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:53PM) (new)

Holly | 40 comments Neil Gaiman got an "advance copy" of this gizmo and wrote about it on his journal:

I personally think it's a great idea but would never pay for it, plus I would probably never use it. I love paper. And collecting books.

message 14: by Brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:53PM) (new)

Brian (bhall) | 4 comments Aside from the "can't replace a paper book" argument, I see the Kindle as having one serious flaw: It's a subscription service.

Purchasing and downloading books sounds like a good idea (and it is), but you can't transfer other documents or books that you already own to it without incuring a "transfer charge". Nobody wants to buy a book, then pay again to put it on their Kindle. That's be like buying a song from iTunes, but then having to pay a service fee to use it on your iPod (which you also already purchased).

With Wi-Fi being free and everywhere, I think they're hurting themselves by not allowing data transfers to happen without being charged.

The sad reality is, people have been spoiled by the ease of the digital age. You don't have to pay anything to email a friend a digital copy of a photo. But rights management groups want you to pay to send a digital copy of a song. Same with books. And until media can be shared easily, without recurring charges, and without insane rights management restrictions, gadgets like these won't catch on.

Show me an e-reader that can use Wi-Fi and without the noose of a DRM and I'll get interested.

message 15: by Red (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:53PM) (new)

Red Evans | 11 comments I think i have to react. There's a thread about words I loathed going on. I'll put "old-fashioned" among those I loave. The idea that printed material will one day vanish and become "old-fashioned" is silly. Audio books, e-mags and ebooks are conveniences, handy and worthwhile but cannot stand the test of time until committed to paper in one form or another from papryus to microfish. Electonic deteriation is inevitable but that is not so with hard copies. If one doubts that, note that we are aleady losing the battle to save old video.

Red Evans author On Ice a href=" Amazon

message 16: by Margo (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:53PM) (new)

Margo Solod | 18 comments you aren't weird, aimee, because that would mean i am weird. i admit i am a luddite in some ways, but to me a book will always mean paper.

message 17: by Lena (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:53PM) (new)

Lena I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who loves the sensual feel of a's good to know there's enough of us out there that they aren't going to disappear anytime soon. But I hadn't even considered Erica's point about the possiblity of electrocution in the bathtub--as if reading weren't exciting enough!

message 18: by Elizabeth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:54PM) (new)

Elizabeth For me, the jury is still out in regards to e-books. While a e-book device would be rather convienient, it doesn't have the same sensual appeal of a book. You can't rub the cover of an e-book device, can't rub a finger absently through the pages as you read and block out the world.

There is also the factor of eye strain, and electrocution in the bathtub.

Plus, in my opinion, there is nothing so beautiful as a bookcase brimming with books.

message 19: by Chrystal714 (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:54PM) (new)

Chrystal714 | 47 comments Ok, I maybe in the minority but I love how many tree's this would save. Also the light weight convenance.

message 20: by Shannon (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:54PM) (new)

Shannon  (shannoncb) It's not that it's not a bad idea in that sense, but I'd rather we just publish more discerningly or something, because nothing scares me more (seriously) than thinking about all the millions upon billions of electrical, computerised gadgets never ever breaking down, leaching their toxic chemicals into the earth etc. Seriously, this non-composting of computers etc. scares me silly.

message 21: by Melody (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:55PM) (new)

Melody (runningtune) It scares me silly too!

message 22: by Rachel (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:55PM) (new)

Rachel i don't hate them, but i can't read them. there's just something about holding a physical book.

message 23: by Kate (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:55PM) (new)

Kate (katemaver) I am hesitant about ebooks. First of all, at least the Kindle model is 'way too expensive. Then there's all that indestructable plastic for the planet to cope with and they must use some sort of battery or electricity or power source of some sort, so the ecological impact is probably a negative--not that paper books don't have any impact. While it would be nice not to have to build up deltoids hauling real books onto planes, etc., just how wussy have we become, not being able to manage a couple of one pound books on vacations? Or maybe my complaints are covering up the real issue--nostalgia for the scent of the page, the feel of the paper.

message 24: by Lisa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:04PM) (new)

Lisa Ponti | 12 comments I can barely stand reading lengthy news articles on a computer screen, can't imaging replacing my books. That being said, I was wondering if its just my age showing, but every semester I poll my students (undergrads) about using a e-textbook in an effort to save them money but even they have no interest.

message 25: by Zoe (new)

Zoe Rider (zoexrider) | 6 comments Erica said (way back in November), "Besides, how could I read my ebook in the bathtub?"

I have a waterproof case for my Palm (Tungsten T|X), which means I can finally relax with my book in the bathtub--with print books I always fret about getting the pages wet.

I read ebooks about as much as I read print books these days, and I only read print books at all because not everything's available as an ebook. (I keep hoping some of these thicker print books I have in the "to read" pile will come out as ebooks before I actually get to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell *sigh*.)

One thing I miss when I'm reading a print book is autoscroll. All three of the ebook readers I have installed on my Palm (Plucker, eReader and MobiPocket) have an autoscroll function. You can adjust the speed, it's easy to stop and restart it if you need to.... Yeah, I know, how lazy am I that I don't even want to turn pages? I tell myself it's good speed reading practice.

(Amazon's Kindle, however, doesn't have autoscroll--the eInk screen technology can't handle it (which means Sony Reader's doesn't either, nor any of the other ebook readers that use eInk). Those eInk readers are also too big for my tastes. You'd think reading off a screen the size of a deck of cards would be frustrating (and I'm sure it is for some), but I have no difficulty with it. And my husband reads novels off an even smaller screen on his Palm Treo!)

(Amazon's Kindle has done something really nice for ebooks, though--they've forced the prices from other ebook providers down to a more reasonable level. For years the typical practice was for ebook providers to charge hardcover prices for ebooks (!!!) until the paperback edition of the book came out, at which point the ebook price would drop to that of the paperback. What a ripoff. So, yay for competition! The only way Amazon could make a bigger improvement on the ebook market would be to make Kindle-format-compatible software available for handhelds so that we're not forced to pay $399 and give up autoscroll and the other nice things our handhelds offer us in order to take advantage of Amazon's selection and pricing. (And hey, I'm not buying a $399 Kindle from them no matter what--it just comes down to am I paying Amazon for my ebooks or Right now, it's Booksonboard.))

I do like the weight of a paper book, though, the heft of it in my hands when I first pick it up. That does make me happy. But after the first few, I'd be at least as happy holding my lightweight Palm in one hand while watching the story crawl up the screen.

message 26: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth If I were to get an e-book reader, well, for one thing it'd have to come way down in price (or my funds would have to skyrocket) and I would use it mainly for reference- blogs, newspapers, encyclopedias, etc.

I'd love to have something handy to look up a reference or if I need clarification of something... 'Cause I, like others, take a guilty pleasure in seeing the books lined up on my shelf.

message 27: by Zoe (new)

Zoe Rider (zoexrider) | 6 comments You know what I'd love? All my favorite magazines available for e-reading. Magazines just pile up like nothing else.

message 28: by Rachael (new)

Rachael | 10 comments I guess it would be cool to be able to carry 100s of books on a little gadjet. But, I just love books. Nothing could replace that. :/

Girl with the Blue Flower | 7 comments I like e-books because you don't lose your page, you don't have to get up to turn on the light to read it at night, you won't have to worry about ripped pages, and you won't have to run back and forth to the library! But I like traditional books better I won't forget the books as fast as I do e-books

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