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Death of Printed Books May Have Been Exaggerated 465

New submitter razor88x writes "Although just 16% of Americans have purchased an e-book to date, the growth rate in sales of digital books is already dropping sharply. At the same time, sales of dedicated e-readers actually shrank in 2012, as people bought tablets instead. Meanwhile, printed books continue to be preferred over e-books by a wide majority of U.S. book readers. In his blog post Will Gutenberg Laugh Last?, writer Nicholas Carr draws on these statistics and others to argue that, contrary to predictions, printed books may continue to be the book's dominant form. 'We may be discovering,' he writes, 'that e-books are well suited to some types of books (like genre fiction) but not well suited to other types (like nonfiction and literary fiction) and are well suited to certain reading situations (plane trips) but less well suited to others (lying on the couch at home). The e-book may turn out to be more a complement to the printed book, as audiobooks have long been, rather than an outright substitute.'"
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Death of Printed Books May Have Been Exaggerated

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  • Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozduo ( 2043408 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:34AM (#42493509)
    there are still candle makers in existence.
    • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @06:49AM (#42494221)

      I have gifted my mom a kindle, the paperwhite to be exact. It's not bad. But at the same time it's a total piece of shit.

      Here's the problem. It's a closed ecosystem. When you buy a dead tree book, who you bought it from falls out from the equation. It doesn't matter anymore. You can read it, you can loan it with abandon, you can photocopy parts you need to reference easily, you can tear out the pages and wipe your ass with it.

      People who ever used a computer in one form or another the last 25 years know all about closed ecosystem. It made itself first apparent in computer programs, where you take an Apple program and run it in DOS and vice-versa. Same with video games. But people tolerated that, there are certain technical reasons to do it that way, and besides, to people computers were new and they didn't know any better.

      But once accustomed to an open ecosystem, people tend to stay away from closed ones. iPods sold music for a time DRMed, but Apple was in the business of selling hardware and was tired of the headaches that came with it -- iTunes has been selling normal MP3s for a while now. If anyone could have made a closed ecosystem with music, it was Apple. But people were used to the relatively open CD format - plays in any brand CD player, no hassles.

      Now comes the Kindle. Books DRMed to the Wazoo. Amazon is the only store place to buy. It charges huge commissions, bigger than physical goods iirc - what the hell is that? No secondhand market unless the publisher greenlights it. Fuck, my mom can't even access German Amazon kindle store - she would need a German billing address. Something to do with publishers having area rights. She's an immigrant. The biggest potential plus out the window.

      The kindle is an excercise in unmitigated greed and a step backwards in many ways. Greed of Amazon's monopolistic ambitions and publisher trying to stay relevant. No, we're talking a lightbulb constrained to the brightness of a candle (to make you buy more), expensive as all get out, having to lay electric lines and sockets for it's use, and the only upside is that it's less likely to cause a fire. All it's other potential upsides vanquished to placate candlemakers or to line the pockets of the single bulb manufacturer. And we're here sitting around wondering why people still use candles.

      • by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @07:21AM (#42494343)
        This only applies to the Amazon Kindle store, not to the Kindle hardware itself. Plug the thing in, and it's a USB Mass Storage device you can drag-and-drop DRM-free ebooks (in .mobi and a few other formats) perfectly fine.
      • by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @08:04AM (#42494501) Journal

        I found this whole thing so offensive, I started working on, to provide a path out of the walled garden. Google, Apple, and Amazon typically charge 30% for nothing other than having sold you the tablet or reader. Apple is the worst, forcing publishers to insure that no ebook store was allowed to offer lower prices than Apple. All three DRM all their ebooks. The basic idea is that users and authors should split most of that 30%, and not have to pay the new middle men who don't even to pretend to add value. With the dawn of ebooks, prices were supposed to drop tremendously. There's no more printing costs and no more brick and mortar store we have to support. The job of the publisher becomes simply editing and publicity, reducing costs dramatically. Instead, Amazon, Apple and Google teamed up with the big publishers to figure out a way to keep all of the savings for themselves.

        Authors still want access to readers without these guys in the way, and readers still want non-DRMed low cost ebooks. The demand is there, and if we can find a way to bridge the gap between them, sales of ebooks would skyrocket. The reason only 16% of us have e-readers or tablets is simple: ebooks don't save us enough money, if any. If we could save 50% on every ebook we buy relative to a printed version, everyone would read ebooks.

        If candle manufactures got together and demanded that all the savings available through electric lighting had to go to candle makers, electric lighting would still be a novelty item.

        • by nyctopterus ( 717502 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @08:27AM (#42494595) Homepage

          Having just published an ebook, I can tell you that DRM is a choice made by the publisher. Amazon will happily sell ebooks without DRM, and are doing so with mine right now, I didn't check "provide copy protection".

          • by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @08:59AM (#42494697) Journal

            True, Amazon is not forcing DRM down our throats. It's actually the big publishers that provide Amazon most of it's popular titles that do that. Had you landed a publishing deal with a major publisher, you're ebook would be DRM-ed.

            If you and all the other self-published authors were to begin dominating sales, we'd see a major drop in ebook prices over time, leading to a snowball of more ebook self-publishers and more people with e-readers. Unfortunately, most people still buy paper books, meaning the popular authors are more concerned about being in Barnes and Noble than Amazon. If your ebook does well, you'll likely land a nice publishing contract that gets your book printed and distributed widely. At that point, you'll likely have to sign over ebook rights, and your ebook will become DRM-ed. Thus, this whole rape of authors and readers continues non-stop, as a money printing machine for the middle men who do little to add value.

            I really hope Apple, Amazon, and Google get taken to the cleaners by the government anti-trust people. Free competition is being trampled. I should be able to start my own app store for Apple devices which offers many of the same popular apps and ebooks, just 25% cheaper. Just because Dell and HP sell most laptops in the US is no reason they should get 30% of every on-line sale. We'd all freak out if they tried that. Why do we accept this from our tablet vendors?

        • I bought a kindle for my girlfriend quite a while ago, and have used their store many times (one of the early models, and she is an avid reader.)

          Your assertions are factually incorrect with regards to amazon (no idea about other vendors.) This is not a case of it changing over time either, the below has been true since the introduction of the kindle, and remains true to this day.

          1) Not all e-books are DRM restricted.

          Amazon offers many books which are out of copyright for free (which has probably led to a s

      • by Pembers ( 250842 )

        Book paper is too rough to wipe your arse with, and if the publisher used cheap ink, you end up dirtier than you were to start...

        Blame the publishers for DRM. They're the ones who refused to let Amazon sell electronic versions of their books without it. The Kindle is perfectly happy to display un-DRMed ebooks in any of the formats it supports. KDP, Amazon's self-publishing programme, allows the author to choose whether to add DRM to the book. I've left it off all of mine, for reasons that will be familiar t

  • by slackware 3.6 ( 2524328 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:35AM (#42493519)
    I just can not become totally immersed in an e-book. It started when I was a little kid and I read every book I could get my hands on. E-books will never replace the feeling of nostalgia from my childhood. Unfortunatly I rarely read anymore unless it is a manual or some such.
    • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:10AM (#42493673)

      As an avid reader, I am entirely fine with not having a house full of books and DVDs. It's fantastic to have so much space reclaimed that other homes have stuffed with shelf upon shelf of books, video games, movies, and albums. It kind of sucks on a tablet, because of the back-light, but that's what I use due to the fact that I don't want to carry a tablet *and* an e-reader (e-ink, that is -- which would be preferable, all other things being equal). But a physical book? Nope. I saw enough homes when I was growing up that were just consumed with walls full of books that just sat there forever. I'll take the option without clutter, thanks.

      Also, you don't have the worries of fingerprints, bent spines, dogeared pages, and everything else that drives a book-lover like me nuts with a physical copy.

      • Also, you don't have the worries of fingerprints, bent spines, dogeared pages, and everything else that drives a book-lover like me nuts with a physical copy.

        But you do have the worry of DRM. It might be better but it's not perfect.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          But you do have the worry of DRM. It might be better but it's not perfect.

          This is my problem and it hit home recently when I upgraded my smartphone and discovered there's no Kindle ap for my new model phone and I couldn't read the rest of the book I'd bought on Amazon with any of the available aps. I enjoy the ability to stop reading on the Kindle, PC, Laptop, or smartphone and being able to pick up where I left off on the other devices. And what happens if the vendor where you bought your DRM'ed e-book goes under or is bought out? I think of buying e-books as being more like ren

      • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @05:13AM (#42493899)
        I don't think that even Ray Bradbury could have imagined that people would have entirely given up their books, and put control of all formerly printed media in the hands of a few giant corporations, due to "clutter".
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2013 @05:30AM (#42493951)

        It's fantastic to have so much space reclaimed that other homes have stuffed with shelf upon shelf of books, video games, movies, and albums.

        shelf upon shelf of books piled on top of more books.. sounds like home sweet home to me.

        i'll keep my books and videos and albums and compact discs, thank you very much.. for the rights and freedoms that come with the physical formats as well as i just very much prefer a real book to staring at a display. there's only one powered device i want to curl up with by the fire on a cold rainy night, and i can assure you, i certainly won't be doing any reading while it's turned on. ;p

        and have fun (legally) lending a book (or movie, or game, or whatever drm-ed media you have foolishly bought into) to a friend, relative or neighbor. not gonna happen. the producers and publishers will make sure of that. same goes for reselling your old stuff you don't want anymore. and please, also enjoy repurchasing (i mean, re-licensing) your media files over and over when you want to shift formats to whatever the next great thing is.

        until digital media is SOLD, not licensed... physical formats are the best formats.

        • by muridae ( 966931 )
          I mostly agree, AC. My walls are lined with books of all sizes. And my bedroom could be confused with a library and a comfy reading area. But I still like my kindle. I never got around to buying big copies of "The Complete Works" of anyone, so downloading those public domain ones and reading them in a form that can be held in a single hand is nice. The same can be said about many sci-fi books, they are bloody heavy in hard back form. I'd have killed for an ebook when i was reading Otherland; 4 books with 15
      • I am buying all my reading material as e-books where possible now - I have an iPad and a Kindle, but I only use the iPad for reading large page PDF files, the Kindle is used for novels etc.

        My main irritation is when I see e-books priced more expensively than hardcover books. Sure, I understand that ebooks are taxed at full rate in the UK as opposed to a reduced rate for paper books, but on the flip side there's no printing, materials, quality control, shipping, etc which is needed with physical goods. If

      • by VocationalZero ( 1306233 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @06:13AM (#42494109) Journal

        It's fantastic to have so much space reclaimed that other homes have stuffed with shelf upon shelf of books, video games, movies, and albums

        I still find it strange that people would not like to have shelf upon shelf of books, games, movies and albums.

        • by muridae ( 966931 )
          I find it odd as well. Maybe it is the social network generation, their friends already know what they play/read/saw/did so who cares to display it. But my bookshelf, with accompanying trinkets, tells more about me in less space than most could imagine.
    • Unlike you, I still read a lot - and it's almost strictly ebooks nowadays. What does that prove? Admittedly nothing... but at least my anecdotal evidence is from a person who still reads.

      Think about it though. You stated you hardly read anymore - so just how strong can that nostalgic pull you speak of be, anyway?

    • by Eskarel ( 565631 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:10AM (#42493677)

      I can't get into an e-book on a back lit screen, but on e-ink, I can and have read till the wee hours of the morning just as I did when I was a child and as a bonus my library fits in my pocket.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      For me it was just the other way around (well mostly). I read a lot of books as a child (1 or 2 a week) but somehow got disinterested. Then I got an e-reader and I'm now reading 1 or 2 books a month (not as much as before, but the books have become larger and available time shorter).
      E-readers suck for manuals and reference books though; I tend to heavily bookmark those books and use the index, glossary and appendixes a lot, which is where e-readers don't have good solutions yet.

    • E-books will never replace the feeling of nostalgia from my childhood.

      And kids growing up today will have nostalgia for the iPads of their childhood.

  • Depends on the book (Score:5, Informative)

    by evil_aaronm ( 671521 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:36AM (#42493523)
    If it's something unwieldy or I know I'll be flipping back and forth between pages, or need to see multiple pages simultaneously, like Practical Electronics for Inventors, I'll buy the paper book. If it's a novel, or casual reading, I can go with e-book format. That said, I donated to a local library a lot of my old books: I hadn't read them in years, and most anything I need to know, now-a-days, I just Google for. For technical information, it's quicker to Google it than look it up in a book.
  • Books (Score:4, Insightful)

    by toygeek ( 473120 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:36AM (#42493525) Homepage Journal

    They don't need batteries
    You can buy them used without DRM
    They smell interesting
    Old books have their own story aside from what is printed in them
    Each book feels different
    Do not require infrastructure to maintain
    I don't have to buy something to reads my book- I just buy the book, the "reader" is free.

    While an e-book is technically the same thing, content wise, the *experience* of reading a book is something that cannot be duplicated. A large, LARGE portion of the population apparently agrees.

    • Re:Books (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:50AM (#42493595)

      A large portion of the population is technically and otherwise illiterate. Or of low enough level that they don't do much reading and don't set up their own electronics.

      I do agree that for quick reference, a paper book is hard to beat, but it's hard to believe that an ebook won't be as efficient any time soon. With more power and a better display, I could definitely see them being easier to search.

      As far as the "experience" goes, only hardcore bookworms are likely to consider that to be desirable. I've read paper books and they're not ergonomic at all. My Nook Glow OTOH can be read in the dark and I can prop it up, only touching the thing when I need to turn the page. I can also search for text in it, which is something I've never been able to do with a paper book.

      What's more, I can bring an entire collection of books with me when I travel. Ebooks don't really require infrastructure, if you've gotten to the point where that's an issue, you've probably got other things to worry about. Yes, you do have a point about electricity, but you can do a ton of reading on a charge.

      And I don't have to buy any books, I can just check them out electronically on my computer without even having to leave the home. Seriously, it looks like you're going way out of your way to bash ebooks without similarly bashing paper books for their flaws.

    • Re:Books (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:14AM (#42493701)

      They don't need batteries
      Do not require infrastructure to maintain

      No, instead of batteries, you require shelves, lots and lots of shelves in a clean, dry environment.

      You can buy them used without DRM

      You're generalising, not all vendors do this.

      While an e-book is technically the same thing, content wise, the *experience* of reading a book is something that cannot be duplicated. A large, LARGE portion of the population apparently agrees.

      That LARGE portion of the population is aging, the technophobes will still hate tablets and e-readers, but this is the future, it will take a lot more decades though, until the percentages switch.

      They smell interesting

      NOT a feature, having asthma, like an ever growing percentage of the population, I can tell you, dusty books, are not something I enjoy being around, let alone read.

      Here's one thing that you neglected to mention about e-books: They cost almost nothing to publish. It means a lot of rubbish makes it through, but a lot more good authors will get published. With paper books, I guarantee, that over the past hundred years millions of manuscripts became forgotten, because of the printing costs.

      The future is here and now. I have thousands of books on my tablet all in a 350 grams package, which I can back up anywhere and any time.

      Honestly, you people make me think of those monks handwriting books, calling the ban of the printing press. WTF!

      • Re:Books (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Zumbs ( 1241138 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @05:30AM (#42493953) Homepage

        That LARGE portion of the population is aging

        And as they age, their eyesight will deteriorate, leaving many of them with a choice between audio books, books with large print or ebooks where the font size can be adjusted. Wonder what they will pick?

        • That makes me think that my mother really likes ebooks because with the large font setting she can read without her glasses.

          • Re:Books (Score:4, Interesting)

            by PhotoJim ( 813785 ) <jim@p h o t o j i> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @10:55AM (#42495351) Homepage

            I favour physical books over ebooks by a large margin, but this is an undeniable advantage of ebooks. No special large print edition is required.

            In fairness a person can use a magnifier on a paper book, but they're usable on any eInk ebook reader too (LCD displays are probably not as fun to read when magnified, Apple Retina possibly excepted). But when you can increase the font size yourself, that makes life a lot easier.

            I'm only 45... but I have my Kindle set to be one font size bigger than default just to make it a little more comfortable to use.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      They also can be easily lent around to anyone and everyone.

      They are cheap enough to be left on a bench or a seat if you finish and don't want to keep it.

      Even more importantly, they still work even after being soaked in water.

      They also are really easy to use.

      If you're freedom oriented, you can print and distribute your own books without having to explain how to use it (part of the reason Baen books signed up with Amazon was so readers don't have to go through a bunch of steps to sideload books).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 )

      They don't need batteries

      I'm sorry this is one of the lamest arguments I have heard. Your typical e-book reader will last MONTHS in the hands of a heavy reader without recharge. The most common problem around our house is that by the time these things need charging we need to try and actually find the charger.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Knuckles ( 8964 )

        Amazon claims the Kindle will run for 8 weeks w/o using wifi and a reading time of 30 minutes per day. That's not "months".

      • It's a standard micro-USB charger. You should have plenty of those. Good phones use the same cable.

    • I don't necessarily disagree with you, but

      They don't need batteries

      Neither does a hard drive, and a hard drive can store MUCH more data, it's not even comparable. Now, you need a computer to read it, but don't you need light to read a book?

      You can buy them used without DRM

      You can get ebooks without DRM, and you can replicate and distribute them infinitely. Can you do that with a physical book? Nope.

      They smell interesting

      ...Oookay. Whatever floats your boat.

      Old books have their own story aside from what is printed in them

      True, but everything has a story. Even ebooks (well, DRM free ebooks anyway). Maybe it was passed around piratebay (hopefully

  • by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:41AM (#42493553)

    I read ebooks on my computer. When I'm sitting in front of my desktop computer, I use that. When I'm sitting in front of my netbook, I log into my desktop from there and read on that. That way the page that I left off at is always synchronized.

    The computer holds the book for me so all I have to do is sit back and read -- hit the space bar once in a while to turn the page.

    If I find a reference that I want to follow up on (what in the world is a medieval chatelaine?) I can immediately look it up and research that as much as I wish to.

    What's not to like?

    I can't remember the last time I read a book on paper. It's been at least a few years...

  • by geek ( 5680 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:41AM (#42493557)

    I prefer reading e-books. I haven't read a paper book in years. That said I've given serious thought to moving away from ebooks simply because of the prices and DRM. I can loan a book once to my wife via kindle or I can just buy the paper book and give it to her or anyone else when done.

    What I've been doing lately is stripping the DRM via Calibre and giving the books I buy away to my mom, wife and mother in-law. I have no moral issue with this since I could do it with a paper book too. But if DRM changes and prices keep going up like they have, then I'm going to say fuck it and go back to paper books.

    • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:16AM (#42493709)

      Yep. The only downfall I see (other than a back-lit screen kind of sucks for reading) is DRM and the inability to maintain ebooks if the world came to an end. One of those can eventually be dealt with; the other not so much. Either way, I'm a big fan of keeping things on the digital side, where I don't have to have my life and home cluttered with crap, like generations before us.

      But, man, that DRM thing . . . is really a major killjoy. The only real stab against fully embracing digital.

      It's hard not to love the idea of having more content on a device that you can carry in your hand than you could store in your home, even if you turned every wall into a stack of filled shelves. Unfortunately, publishing is like every other content industry. They have to be kicked dragging and screaming into the modern world and undermine their own interests every step of the way, by doing things to drive customers *away* and foster ill-will with them.

      • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @05:29AM (#42493947)
        There are plenty of other downsides. When you have 1 device to view N books, you can only do so serially. With paper books, each book has its own built in "screen" and you can open several of them on a table. With paper books, you can look up references easily without typing, whereas ebook readers are really designed to be easy for linear traversal only - just like an audio "book" - but quite unwieldy for random access. With paper books, there are several sizes to suit the content, whereas ebook readers force you to zoom around and tap the screen or some buttons unnecessarily when the size isn't right. Finally, with paper books you get two pages open at the same time, saving you a lot of fiddling with pages that you have to do with ebooks. There's nothing worse to break your concentration than having to press a "next" button after every second paragraph.
      • by Zumbs ( 1241138 )
        Yeah, the DRM thing is quite annoying. Fortunately, more and more publishers are starting to offer their books DRM free, e.g. Baen Books and Tor/Macmillan, so I make it a point to only buy unencumbered ebooks. Many vendors do not make it easy to see which books are DRM free and which are DRM chained, though.
      • by rdebath ( 884132 )

        All you really have to realise is that the DRM thing is a con.

        Those people claiming that DRM software can stop anyone getting a non-DRM copy are wrong. DRM can do two things

        1. Make it more difficult for a "legitimate" user to get at the data
        2. Prevent EVERYONE, including "legitimate" users accessing the data.

        For the people that DRM is supposed to stop, one of them has to do a little work. All the rest have an easier time than any "legitimate" user.

        DRM on Ebooks is actually one of the easiest to break; the

      • Just don't download any crap with DRM.

    • I also do the DRM stripping thing but all my family's Kindles are registered to the same Amazon account so it's really not an issue. If brother / girlfriend / whoever wants to read a book then they're all in the same shared pool.

      I have a mixture of eBooks and paper books, the thing I really love about my Kindle is that all the old out-of-copyright books are free and easy to get. Some older books are difficult to find on paper these days, and without stuff like Gutenberg (though many of them are available
  • I wonder... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ikonoclasm ( 1139897 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:45AM (#42493579)

    Is there any data on e-reader habits based on age? As with most technological sea changes, there's resistance in the older generations that gradually evaporates. With e-readers, I'd very much expect a bit of a downswing in sales right after the initial surge. The less tech-friendly are convinced that easy-to-use e-readers are worth having by those young folk who know what they're talking about, but then decide that maybe they're not so keen on it after all. Meanwhile, the younger generations are adopting it at a steady pace that's only visible when you look at sales in specific demographics. I don't know if my hypothesis holds water or not, but from personal experience, this is not a new phenomenon.

    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      I will give you a sample from my personal life

      I and my wife are are in our mid 30's and use e-readers
      My mother, her step mother, and father all use e-readers
      her grandmother, who stuggles to use a modern cable box does not

      so in this poll people over 80 do not use e-readers

      • by Zumbs ( 1241138 )
        My grandfather (age 87) is considering to buy an iPad to read ebooks. He eyesight is not as good as it has been, and the ability to adjust font size of the book he is reading is a killer app for him. Neither my parents (60something) or my brother (40) owns a dedicated e-reader or tablet. They do have a computer.
  • The ebook lacks the short battery life and sun glare of computer screens, it also is weightless. It was meant to let us carry all of our texts along, but...
    While casual fiction readers tend to be tech unsavy, those of us that are want to carry around complex texts to study from. Sadly there's no right way to get a simple web page into most ebooks without formatting issues. And PDF is the final insult, where words are split without any rules, paragraphs get slaughtered and images disappear into the void.

  • I don't know (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Evtim ( 1022085 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:51AM (#42493603)

    Seems to me that the usefulness of an e-reader/book was spoiled by the industry - both hardware and content. Locking, removing content remotely, DRM books, price of e-books (!!?)....add to that that most readers suck at displaying technical info (most, not all).

    As as consumer I just know how I fell about all those recent "revolutions" - the smart phone, the tablet and the e-reader. They suck, big time, even though the idea is brilliant. I never expected that the phone and the tablet would not be just small computer, fully compatible with your PC. Never expected the price of an e-book to be the same as a paper one. Never expected .the Spanish inquisition..... Our socioeconomic model sucks, people! Even when we have fantastic technologies we make crappy, annoying products that do not expand our horizon but rather lock us in a box and hinder us. No second hand selling, no lending of e-books, cameras from the TV watching if you are not "breaking" the license....just read any random page of news on /. and you will come with at least one example of industry idiocy labeled "for your convenience and enhanced consumer experience" ....

    So, give me back my paper book that I can buy without telling what I had for breakfast and how did my mother's milk taste like. It cost the same as e-book, I can browse through it faster, it is more robust (do you think your files will survive 50-100 years and if they did that there will be compatible device to read them on?), I can give to anyone I like, does not have tracking device that calls home and says what and when I read....thank you!

    • by Zumbs ( 1241138 )

      Never expected the price of an e-book to be the same as a paper one.

      This may come as a chock for you, but the printing cost of a paper book is something like 10% of the total production price of the book. As far as I can decipher, the only way to get ebooks significantly cheaper is to cut out the middle men (distributors, bookshops and eshops) and buy directly from the publisher/author. However, as the middle men own the market place, most publishers shy away from offering their books at wholesale prices online.

  • by Scholasticus ( 567646 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:52AM (#42493609) Journal
    If I buy a copy of a paper book then I own that copy. On an e-reader or a tablet I buy a license that lets me have a copy on a device. Unless I back up my copy, the seller can take it away from me without even asking. Also, there's something about a nice solid bound book that you don't get from an electronic copy. Personally I prefer electronic formats for more ephemeral things (news, computer books that are out of date before they're published, etc.) and bound paper copies for longer lasting things, e.g. Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I suppose we'll see how things turn out.
    • by sl149q ( 1537343 )

      Haven't bought a Real(TM) book in over three years now!

      I simply ran out of room for more physical books (just under 10,000 paperback novels...)

      Reading on an eReader is just as good and the epub files take up far less room.

      Technical documents (PDF's) are reasonably OK as well on a full sized table (aka iPad).

  • that e-books are well suited to some types of books (like genre fiction) but not well suited to other types (like nonfiction and literary fiction)

    Why not literary fiction? I've been travelling the world for the last several years now and haven't read as much classic literature as I would have liked to, because there's only so many books one can put into a backpack. But my significant other got a Kindle as a birthday gift, and after discovering a prominent pirated book site with epub/mobi/lit downloads, we'

    • by Kijori ( 897770 )

      I suspect that the GP means the particular subset of (largely modernist/post-modernist) fiction that uses formatting, foot-notes and deliberately fragmented writing (so that flicking backwards and forwards is often necessary). Ebooks are indeed not much good for those.

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:04AM (#42493657)
    Perhaps its some sort of act of defiance but if an ebook is not offered for a lower price than the paper version I tend go with paper.

    Currently my digital books tend to be technical references that I want to carry around with me in case I need to look up something at work or old classics that are available at no charge.

    Stuff I read for fun still tends to be on paper. Perhaps that will change if pricing changes, or maybe I'll just move on to another excuse ... I want to read in the bathtub might work until the Kindle Paperwhite becomes water resistant.
    • by Eskarel ( 565631 )

      Depends where you live. Here in Oz, the price of an average paperback is about $AU20, you'll only pay that for an ebook from amazon if it's a new release(which in hardcover would be well over $AU30 here). Can I find cheaper books if I get them shipped or find them used, sure, but the price is better than local and I will have the new book in about a minute, no matter where I am which isn't half bad.

  • I dont read ficton (Score:3, Informative)

    by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:06AM (#42493659)

    My wife does and quote "loves her nook" which was a simple touch, turned tablet

    I got her simple touch, rooted it, and use it constantly for office documents, technical PDF's like mechanical drawings and other things such as email, news and weather

    as someone who does not read for escapet, I love being able to drop a doc on a tablet and walk it around, she loves it cause its an entire bookstore AND local library, one click away that also lets her take a moment to check facebook, or play a round of scrabble, while listening to her music while between classes

    sure the devices have taken a drop, most people are happy with ones they bought... most people now days are not stupid and buy the product they like instead of this weeks fad / toy, and as time marches on the difference between printed and ebook preference will shift

  • research (Score:4, Interesting)

    by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock@ p o> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:09AM (#42493669)

    I hope I never have to do research in a paper book again.
    No random access, useless index, no xref, no links, no instant glossary...

    The books I studied in school weighed far more than a tablet, cost nearly the same, and offered far less. A tablet could contain 1000 such books and provide pulp fiction too if I wanted that. Not to mention that the tablet provides the internet, Wikipedia, other media and access to all my friends and associates.

    The only real books I keep are those that have not been digitized or are very rare. OK, some have value and I'm not going to burn them. It's the same philosophy that helps me to decide which LP records, audio tapes, and video tapes to keep. Once they are properly digitized, the old media is out of here.

    I'm a writer. Unlike those of the past who refused to learn to type or use a computer, my feeling is that the technology is irrelevant- it's the story, stupid. If you read it from an illuminated parchment or a pixellated screen or the wall of China, what difference does it make?

    I do keep a paper book in the bathroom, just in case the other paper runs out.
    Take that you paper snobs!

    • I agree that doing research in paper is much harder. Full text searchable volumes are great for finding exactly what you want quickly. However, when I read for pleasure, I prefer paper. The paper is so much easier on my eyes. Also, I spend the day reading stuff on a computer so when I get home reading on paper is a nice way to change up.
  • by ( 245670 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:30AM (#42493763)

    Point by point.

    1) This example is absurd. A cromulent contrast would be "pure text" vs. "mixed text and images". Novels work fine with flowing layouts that adjust to the size and pixel density of the display. Doesn't matter if they're fiction, non-fiction, or historical fiction. However, if you have material with a lot of pictures and diagrams (textbook, magazine, etc.) then printed books have a distinct advantage. Most e-readers are not good at handling images and re-flowing the content can separate images from their associated text. However, that is starting to change. The iPad and a few Android tablets are sporting 2048x1536 displays which have enough pixels to adequately reproduce something pretty close to the quality of a printed page. And now there's the Nexus 10 at 2560x1600 that does an even better job.

    Also, pretty significant advances have been made in the design of electronic "printed" media. I used to work for a large magazine when they were first starting to produce content for phones and tablets, the result was pretty crude. I took a look at what they're producing today on Google Magazine using my Nexus 10 and it's amazing. Razor sharp text, sliding columns, Pullup/pullout sidebars, print quality images, etc. So even the "mixed text and images" presentations are improving significantly on portable devices. It's just a matter of time before color e-ink is available in densities of 300ppi or higher, bringing a similar experience outdoors.

    2) While I may be an early adopter, I'm not much of an early consumer on the content side. I didn't use my first e-reader much until I had a way to remove DRM from the content. Amazon's Kindle hardware and content sales were booming long before I started making content purchases. That was regular folks who were dazzled by the tech and didn't care about the high prices and content controls. Ebooks outsold paper books at Amazon over 1.5 years ago.

    The author says 59% have no interest in ebooks. So that means as many as 41% do have an interest in a new form of literature consumption that's only been around for a few years. That's one hell of an adoption rate. Amazon's done for print distribution what Apple did for music distribution.

    3) Oh, my gosh! People who are being paid to market a new thing might be exaggerating. That's unpossible!

    4) LP to cassette to CD to MP3. VHS to Laserdisc to DVD to Blu-Ray. Same thing. So people re-purchase their favorite titles in a big chunk when they get the device then slow down to their regular rate of buying 5-10 books per year. That seems like the expected pattern for existing content being re-released on new media.

    5) This statement makes no sense at all. The fact that I can read my content on my phone and tablet has increased my adoption of ebooks. When I had to carry a dedicated reader, ebooks were far less convenient. There was little advantage over a regular book because it was still a single-purpose object that had to be carried around. Now I can read anywhere on my phone because I always have my phone with me. And it syncs with my tablet so I can pick up where I left off on either device. So if I know I'm going to have some downtime, I can bring the tablet. If I have unexpected downtime, I've got my phone. And, since I've stripped the DRM from all of my purchased content, it doesn't matter which device I used to buy the titles. I can see how there would be adoption problems for people who get stymied by DRM. That is the kind of thing that will turn people off.

    6) I actually agree that ebook pricing is bullshit. I can understand premium prices for new releases but, once a title gets to "paperback" phase, the price should be significantly cheaper than paperbacks because so much of the production and distribution cost has been eliminated. As I said, I worked for a large magazine. I know what it costs to print and ship all those dead trees. Not to mention the coordination required to make sure everything happens at just the right moment.

  • Price driven... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Raxxon ( 6291 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:31AM (#42493767)

    You want eBook adoption to work? QUIT BEING PROFITEERING BASTARDS.

    They already have the book in an electronic format before printing begins. It's what they send to the damn printer that actually puts ink on paper. Why then is the "cost" of an eBook more than the paperback counterpart? I could see justification for a higher price when the book is Hardback only (usually the first 9 to 18 months the book is available) but once the paperback hits shelves, why is the ebook still so much more expensive?

    I've actually seen some eBooks at a higher price point than the hardback.... dafuq?

    • by tsotha ( 720379 )
      Yep. That's my problem with 'em. I love my kindle, but when I can get a dead tree book for half the price of the ebook with free shipping.... how does that make sense? The death of printed books would be a hell of a lot less exaggerated if they didn't overprice ebooks.
    • I don't understand why they don't start doing what I have seen on DVDs now and again. Where they give you the digital copy free for buying the disk. They should give me the e-book when I buy the paper one.
  • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:37AM (#42493785) Journal

    I have had three e-readers, the first way decent but it had cheap plastic keys like on a really cheap small calculator, it did have a high rez display (iRiver device) and had a wide format support. But it was slow. So it was well suited to reading a page BUT flipping a page took a long time, PDF's were especially a nightmare, it was best for manga with high text content since it displayed those very well and then the relative slow page turning with lots to read isn't that distracting.

    I have bought a very big e-reader for manga reading, it is beautiful but the device is so big (9 inches) it is not all that suitable for on the go reading. For books it is to large.

    recently I bought a Odyssee HD from Bookeen. It has a build in light and is small. It is a very nice device for reading books BUT its manga support is dismal (no archive support) and its directory structure is arcana. Calibre helps but it needs to convert zip archives to epud files. It DOES have nice PDF support with a reflow option.

    ALL the devices have margins in margins, it is traditional to print a page and leave a wide border BUT on a computer screen IT IS NOT because I PAYED for those bloody pixels so fucking USE THEM, I want a SMALL margin. Only the last device has tiny bit of support for it but you STILL have well over a centimeter of wasted space on either side. The device already has a wide physical border, I don't need one on the screen.

    What does this rant mean?

    E-Readers just ain't mature yet, they are in the state of MP3 players before the iPod when the likes of Sony found it perfectly acceptable to only support their own format which nobody else used while iRiver had support for formats you could even find on google, but used a directory format that only a unix wizard could grasp.

    That a player like bookeen still doesn't support archives shows an attitude that "we do what we want and standards, fuck em, we are the standard" (the device also can't fit epub images to the screen (no zoom)). I knew this in advance, it is my book reader, not suitable for manga.

    Page turns are getting really fast, almost capable of playing animation. In device lighting has made a HUGE difference (it also removes a bit of glare in bright light) but they still as said, MP3's before the iPod. Or mobile phones before standarized OS'es.

    iOS en later Android STANDARIZED software behavior on a wide array of devices, especially with android you didn't need to check that it would support your media files, it would, because it was android and even Sony now supports a long list of formats.

    What e-readers need is a base OS on which perhaps companies can build their own actual reader software UI but in which the basics are simply present and standard supported. Perhaps EVEN allow third party apps to be installed so the community can come up with a manga reader that is actually suited to the subtleties of manga and not comics.

    Right now, (small) e-readers of the latest lighted generation offer:

    • Light weight (if you take them out of their cover)
    • Cheap content (piracy, lets be honest here, I have a LOT of bought paper books, only 1 payed for ebook, I do have more then one file on my e-readers)
    • Entire library on the go (see above)
    • In confined areas, like public transport, they are easier to hold then a larger book, mine easily slips into my pocket, a thick paperback, not so easily.

    But they have downsides

    • Arcana usage, that a confusing program as Calibre is praised for making it so much easier to manage your device says enough. If your car became easier to drive by operating it standing it on your head, you would want a word with its designer.
    • Uncertain format support
    • Loosing the pixel race with tablets.
    • UI operating is slow.
    • SLOOOOOW searching, flipping of multiple pages, indexing.
    • Inconsistent operation, ctrl-c for copy on the PC is such a nice standard but handling bookmarks etc on a e-reader changes b
    • Arcana usage, that a confusing program as Calibre is praised for making it so much easier to manage your device says enough. If your car became easier to drive by operating it standing it on your head, you would want a word with its designer.

      I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds Calibre simultaneously necessary and completely awful.

      I class it with things like XBMC and every single digital music library tool I've every used: software that does some stuff I really want to do, but that I dread using because

    • e-readers use e-ink, which is for plain text only.
      It's not suited for manga.

      For manga, you need a tablet.

  • by beachdog ( 690633 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:44AM (#42493807) Journal

    I went to Stanford University bookstore to see if I could purchase a few graduate level textbooks in human motor development, neurology and (a separate interest) particle physics (easy stuff like alpha particles).

    Wikipedia beat Stanford University Bookstore on each of these topics. I walked in with $200 plus a credit card and spent only $.75 on parking.

    Eventually, my daughter who is in college got me an old edition of the motor development book I needed.

    The paper book is shrinking due to the economics of printing: The weight and cost of paper, the taxes on unsold book inventory, the system change where fine printing is typeset in USA and printed in China. In contrast, electronic books are 2% for the webserver, 49% to the publisher and 49% to the author.The markup or profit on an electronic book is basically set by the marketing skill and chutzpah of the publisher. You can weigh a book and look up the wholesale price of paper and see that relatively little is left for the publisher and author.

  • But I'm quite positive that there's going to come a time when using paper as opposed to digital is going to get prohibitively expensive, and when that happens, the printed form will finally become the uncommon exception.
  • Quarter of a ton of books in my study, most over 50 years old, reference not fiction, long 'out of print'. e-media won't help. But sometimes I find vital things all mixed up from Google Books or PG scans, and can then buy originals from specialist dealers or Abe Books. Good news for a certain kind of bookseller.
  • I am a convert to E Books from 2005 onwards - starting with a primitive Sony E Reader (by the way Sony still makes good E Readers - the software was coded by Monkeys though.)

    I use a Nook and an iPAD. The former for books - classics, non fiction, fiction and all that, the latter for magazines - mostly The New Yorker, comics etc.

    This is an incredible age...I have on my fingertips, anywhere in the world any book or any magazine as long as I have an internet connection. No printed dead tree book idea / sh
  • And by that I don't mean pdf, mobi or whatever else is around. I mean a format that combines the text with abilities that can't be found in classic paper books. Imagine reading a military history book with animated maps showing the movement of troops. Or a thermodynamics book where you can scroll, move and change the attributies of a graph so that you understand how they fit together. Imagine a book about electromagnetism where you can actually see the field lines and how they change when you move the coils

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger