Trying Again to Make Books Obsolete

Story in the New York Times about the new Sony Reader. Article opens: "The market for downloadable books will grow by 400 percent in each of the next two years, to over $25 billion by 2008," predicted the keynote speaker at the 2001 Women's National Book Association meeting. "Within a few years after the end of this decade, e-books will be the preponderant delivery format for book content." Story continued here, and more, including cartoons, from Gizmodo.


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I heard

We'll all be living in colonies on the moon by 1979, at the latest.Also, there will be jet-packs.

From article

And last month, bloggers discovered that is working on an e-book reader (and store) of its own. (Search Google for "Amazon Kindle.")

Link to info on Amazon Kindle

Re:I heard

If you read the story you will see that the opening paragraph that is on LISNEWS is making the exact point that this did not happen.

When paper books do die

When an electronic reader provides an indentical or better experience to reading from a paper book the paper book will finally die.

From the article:The result looks like ink on light gray paper. The "ink" is so close to the surface of the screen, it looks as if it's been printed there. The reading experience is pleasant, natural and nothing like reading a computer screen.

We are now one more step down the path. Not only does e-ink provide a better reading experience you also don't have to worry about your battery charge as much. This gives the electronic device much more freedom because you don't have to worry about being around a plug in. Inch by inch ebooks and electronic book readers will overtake the paper book.

Re:When paper books do die

Worthy of an anonymous comment. "The paper book will finally die." Why?

One question continues to be: What problem do ebooks solve? (For textbooks and other large niches, there are good answers. For books in general? Not so much.)

Well, after more than a decade, ebooks have grown to almost one-twentieth of one percent of the book market. "Inch by inch" indeed.

Re:I heard

Remember "Space 1999"? It came and went. I still want my jet-hover car.

Re:When paper books do die

ebooks have grown to almost one-twentieth of one percent of the book market
The book market. Now there is an interesting concept. Books are also attacked from another angle. With more an more computers and Internet access in homes is the population of children, as a whole, reading more or less books?

Another note. Ebooks have had such major flaws, up to this point, that they have never been serious competition for books but as the technology progresses that is going to be less and less the case. To help my eyesight I am very interested in the Sony Reader both because it has a printed page resolition and the fact that all the things I read can be large text. I don't think the Sony Reader is going to be the death of paper books but ideas like e-ink take away to of the major flaws the previous electronic book readers had. Screen resolution that rivals the printed page and battery life.

Re:When paper books do die

Overall book sales are rising--slowly, but rising. (Incidentally, U.S. book sales considerably outweigh U.S. sound recording sales or DVD sales.) Book circulation in most public libraries is rising, apparently. Children's books are going great guns, as are juvie books.

People are certainly reading more from the screen. But most people get tired of reading from the screen, and aren't willing to read lengthy text that way. Note "most people"--if there was a really great ebook reader that wasn't DRM-crippled (which leaves out the Sony) at a good price with great selection of well-priced ebooks, there could be millions (maybe tens of millions) of people who *do* want to use it. More power to them. It wouldn't kill print books, but it could open new and worthwhile markets and uses. There's room for both.

(I'd be careful about "printed page resolution"--the Sony Reader offers roughly 170ppi resolution, which is a whole lot better than predecessors, but still a long cry from book resolution, given that even laser-printed PoD books are likely to be 600dpi, or about 12x as much resolution overall (3.53 squared). Even Sony's own website says "almost paper-like.")

Re:When paper books do die

" Note "most people"--if there was a really great ebook reader that wasn't DRM-crippled (which leaves out the Sony) at a good price with great selection of well-priced ebooks, there could be millions (maybe tens of millions) of people who *do* want to use it. "

The DRM only applies to new books (and even then its not that big a headache to be a turnoff). There is a large volume of material available that isn't DRM-crippled at all and can be read on this reader.

Re:When paper books do die

"The DRM only applies to new books (and even then its not that big a headache to be a turnoff)."

"New books"=books under copyright. That is, pretty much anything post-1923. "Not that big a headache"=loss of all first-sale and (almost) all fair-use rights. You don't own the ebook; you own the right to read it on one particular device. Period. To me, that's a big headache. DVDs may rob me of fair-use rights, but at least I can still sell them, lend them, or give them away: Try that with a DRM-heavy ebook.

But hey, it's your money. I'm certainly not saying you shouldn't buy a Sony Reader if that's what you want to do. But it isn't the Promised Land of ebook readers.

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This message has been brought to you by the eBooks Advisory Council and the Microprocessor Manufacturers of America. Move along please.

Re:When paper books do die

I don't know what dpi the Rocket e-book was at, but I loved reading books on that screen. I liked loading 5-6 books on it and taking it away on vacation with me. I liked sitting in the dark and reading the back-lit screen. If a standard format had been decided upon by now, that is how I'd be reading a lot of books. And I am not a spring chicken.

Re:When paper books do die

I don't plan on paying full hardcover price for any e-book so I consider that a fair trade-off over resale. Not to mention that I now have pretty much free and easy access to all books pre-1923, ones that might be free to download to a computer but not very readable in that form and would still cost me $7-8 in a fresh paperback or $.50 in a used one as long as I didn't mind the smell.

A $350 device isn't going to replace printed books in the world but if a person can afford a $350 device then its quite possible it could replace printed books for them (assuming the device is all its hyped to be).

Re:When paper books do die

Well, until they make a waterproof version? Count me out. I read when I take a bath...and the number of times I've dropped a book in the water? If it were electrified, I'd be dead or close to it.

I read fanfic onscreen/online almost everyday--but I don't have a lot of choice, because the majority of it isn't in print...and I don't want to waste the money printing it out.It doesn't bother me to read electronically...but sometimes, I just want a book in my hands.

To me, there's nothing like a good paper book...I'd much rather have the actual book of Stephen King's revised edition of The Stand in my hands than the ebook version. But that's my choice. I've read that book so much that I can flip open to any part of it and immediately know where I am in the do you flip open an ebook?

And what about picture books? Some children's books have exquisite drawings and/or designs? If the book is 11x17, how do you translate THAT to an ebook screen. It's like looking at the Mona Lisa on the internet (or even in a photo). You see it, but you don't really get the full effect of it.


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