RE: e-books and heritage

Subject: RE: e-books and heritage
From: SteveFJong -at- aol -dot- com
To: TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Sat, 8 Jan 2000 18:11:52 EST

I had the chance to play with an e-Book at Barnes & Noble during the shopping
season, and I was favorably impressed. You can rotate the display, making it
right- and left-handed or landscape; for Susan Burton-Hardin, who has to put
a book up to her nose, it has large-type mode; it has search and dictionary
capabilities; and you can set bookmarks to keep your place. It does have
drawbacks, mainly the $199 price tag (though that'll come down). More
seriously, imagine trying to read a novel from the screen of an original
Macintosh (6.5x4 in); the screen is small. You can make annotations, but only
using a painful video keyboard. Finally, it's really best for text only, like
works of fiction or classics; good graphics display is still a ways off.

As the keeper of a home library of over 1,500 volumes, I take a back seat to
no one in my enjoyment of books. And of course, any time Microsoft embraces
an open standard, I reach for the Jaws of Life 8^) However, I must say that
many of you sound like Luddites. Given the chance to replace all of my books
with e-books, the only ones I would keep are "coffee table books" such as
atlases and art books; _Creation_ and _The Cosmic Connection_, which are
autographed; and _Word Processing For Small Businesses_, which I wrote
myself. Specifically, the science-fiction paperbacks my father collected in
the fifties, all of which I've read, are falling to dust; my sons can't read
them.

The cost of environmental impact of harvesting trees for paper are a drag on
the information economy. Agreeing with Lisa Higgins, I'd prefer to minimize
the cost of getting information to my readers. (Lisa, try looking for the
Nixon LPs in the comedy section 8^) As a sorta fiction writer, I'm more
threatened that Barnes & Noble stocks 1,000 copies of Stephen King and Tom
Clancy (at $29.95 each) and maybe 9,000 copies for every other writer
combined.

Are you really that taken with the look and feel of books, or are you
subconsciously afraid that without books, the book-writers will vanish too?
Mark Baker is right: e-Books are a good delivery medium for linear text, such
as fiction. The last time I checked, I'm in the business of providing
nonlinear text and graphics. I for one am not worried whether readers read my
documents using paper, a monitor, or an e-Book. Just let them read it!

-- Steve

Steven Jong, Documentation Team Manager ("Typo? What tpyo?")
Lightbridge, Inc., 67 South Bedford St., Burlington, MA 01803 USA
mailto:jong -at- lightbridge -dot- com -dot- nospam 781.359.4902 [voice]
Home Sweet Homepage: http://members.aol.com/SteveFJong




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