Subject: E-books
From: Emru Townsend <etownsen -at- Softimage -dot- com>
To: "'techwrl'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2000 17:00:26 -0500

Sharon Burton-Hardin wrote:

> And there is something lovely about holding a printed book in your hand...

No, that feeling can't be replicated. But this is the sacrifice of every
advance in media. Someone -- I wish I could remember who -- once wrote that
with each new advance in a medium, you always gain something and lose
something else. He was writing about film (the advent of sound, color,
etc.), but it applies just about everywhere else.

But the book isn't the be-all and end-all. As I briefly mentioned earlier
in the discussion, there were oral histories before books. The printed word
killed that. And of course books were very much the province of the elite
before the Gutenberg press gradually eroded reading's class boundaries.

The history of reading and storytelling (and yes, this includes technical
writing) has always been ever-shifting.

> And I can't read an ebook in bed to go to sleep...

Have you tried? I had no problem, and since I didn't have to turn the lamp
on as brightly, my wife (for once) wasn't bothered by my reading before bed.

Philomena Hoopes writes:

> How many copies of, say, Dante's Divine Comedy or the Foxfire series have
> sold, as compared to, say, Danielle Steele's latest?

That has little to do with availability, I think; I can find Shakespeare in
any library or bookstore, but how many people will voluntarily go and buy
his works? Besides, since many of the classics are in the public domain,
Dante's Divine Comedy and other classics are available for free online... or
(surprise, surprise) for a couple of bucks from e-book vendors. In fact, I
remember that SoftBook Press offers the Divine Comedy for something like $2.

As for the LP/CD analogy (snipped for space): I still have a turntable and
my collection of LPs and 45s. (In fact, some music is still recorded on
vinyl. I bought my last 12" single just two years ago, and was rifling
through some releases just last week.) But most of what I have on vinyl is
now on CD, and as insurance against my turntable dying, I've started to burn
CDs of my favorite records.

Ginna Dowler writes:

> E-books have the potential to actually vastly increase the number of
> marginal books which get printed.

Right. Just look at the Web. Once it became cheap and easy, budding
authors and alternative media sources came crawling out of the woodwork.

Jo Byrd writes:

> And an e-book can NEVER take the place of curling up in a chair and losing
> yourself between paper or cloth or whatever covers.

And why not? Did you get lost in the paper, or in the words on it?

Bonnie Granat writes:

> Has anyone seen a demo of [Microsoft Reader] it or know anything more
> about its due date?

You can read all about it at http://www.microsoft.com/READER/.

Marilynne Smith writes:

> Why go to a bookstore? Why not select the book from an online bookstore,
> either print it on your computer or have them send it to you? They can
bill a
> credit card.

That's great when you know exactly what you want. But specialty bookstores
have a level of personalized service an online bookstore can't match.
Nebula Bookshop, a local SF/fantasy/comics/film/etc. bookstore, kept me as a
customer (over ten years now) because the people who worked there could
recommend things to me before I knew I wanted them -- not just based on the
books I've bought, but because they know me.

Phew! Okay, break's over. Back to work.

Emru Townsend, Information Developer | etownsen -at- softimage -dot- com
Softimage, Inc.
Personal Web site: http://purpleplanetmedia.com
Recent musings: http://www.janmag.com/artcult/anime.html

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