The Barbarization of Culture?
Page 2 of 3

Author:  George Berger [ Sun Sep 06, 2009 8:05 pm ]
Post subject: 

Sure I'd use the IPHONE (here this week I hope) as a reader if I could. Then down with books! But if I threw away my many books I'd have to buy wallpaper to decorate all that empty space. No way.

Author:  Rolnikov [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:56 am ]
Post subject: 

The new generation of ebooks (the Kindle, Sony Reader, iLiad, BeBook) don't give you headaches because instead of computer-style displays, the words are physically created on the device by a rearrangement of the e-ink.

So it's more like reading the letters printed on your keyboard than reading a computer screen. There's no flicker or brightness, which is what gives people headaches when reading from a computer screen.

For example, when I put my Sony Reader down, I don't have to turn it off, because it doesn't use any power to display the page. It only needs power when it's time to redraw the e-ink into new shapes. It's more like an etch-a-sketch than a computer monitor.

Author:  George Berger [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 6:39 am ]
Post subject: 

Hi Rolnikov. OK, you have convinced me. I'll give it a try in the "near" future. Right now the IPHONE has absolute priority. Another reason to wait, or at least to ask around, is the rumor that Amazon does not yet have a Kindle network set up here in Sweden. If you have time, please make your salespersonship even more potent by telling me about this. Thanks.

Author:  Rolnikov [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 7:58 am ]
Post subject: 

Yes, that's the same thing holding up Kindle everywhere in Europe. In the end I got tired of waiting and got the Sony PRS-700, and I've been very happy with it.

The Sony devices are nowhere near as restrictive as the Kindle, for one thing - you can buy books from all over the place instead of just from Amazon (e.g. Interzone and Black Static from Fictionwise).

The bundled ebook management software is atrocious, though, and gave me a bad case of buyer's remorse on the first day I had it, but downloading Calibre solved that problem.

You might want to have a look at Stanza for your iPhone - though I imagine the iPhone isn't ideal for reading, Stanza will give you access to lots of books on places like Feedbooks (including my own TQF!).

Author:  Roy [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 9:08 am ]
Post subject: 

Hi Rolnikov, Fictionwise say they support Kindle. Is that correct or is it it difficult to use a Kindle for Fictionwise books?

Author:  Mike A [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 9:27 am ]
Post subject: 

I'm not buying into ebook tech yet. I think it will happen, though, and there are some good points in its favour as a technology. In particular, when you look at how the economics of book publishing have shifted us to a position where the majority of what is available in the high-street is ephemeral mass-market trash (celeb biogs etc) and it is allegedly harder than ever to produce and market interesting fiction in book form, there's much to be said for the low-overhead route of ebook publishing. On the other hand, I do like to read in the bath!

I suppose one advantage of the electronic route for academic libraries is that students can all take out the same book at the same time. I remember from my uni days, we'd be set a certain assignment, and there were maybe three or four books in the library that covered the relevant ground - cue sprint-race to the library as soon as the lecture was over!

What makes alarm bells ring with the prep school library George has mentioned is the spectre of corporate sponsorship. This smacks of a PR operation by the various corporations involved. And really - a twelve grand coffee machine?! Please!

Author:  Rolnikov [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 9:42 am ]
Post subject: 

Sorry, Roy, you're right of course. I got a bit muddled up there!

What I meant to say was just that the Sony ones can handle a wider variety of file formats, including the open format, epub, giving you more options. And Amazon can't reach into your Sony and decide to delete your books!

But a lot of Fictionwise books will work on Kindle too. All the non-DRMed, multiformat ones, including the TTA press ones.

Author:  Tony [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:26 am ]
Post subject: 

Rolnikov wrote:
In the end I got tired of waiting and got the Sony PRS-700

It's common that early adopters of new tech become a little over-enthusiastic, and occasionally evangelistic (no offence intended, Rolnikov), about their favourite gadgets - whether iPhone (“you only bought one, you didn’t invent it!” said one feedback comment I spotted), e-book readers, or whatever…

I’m guilty of similar ravings (about hi-def big TV & blu-ray player… which means I’ll probably never watch another VHS tape), and have now started grumbling over shoddy image quality of single-layer 4.7 gig DVD-R copies!
However, my PAYG, second-hand mobile phone is practically an antique, only capable of calling and texting.

At least, first users will help sort out bugs and other problems in time for buyers of second-generation devices to reap the full benefits (whatever they turn out to be) of new digi-tech systems. Yes, e-readers, or some kind of palm-top PC, are the - unavoidable? - future (‘cloud tech’ computing seems a promising addition to the discussion of progress) as part of the ‘integrated media world’ where shops/ libraries/ internet cafes all become one big corporate franchise.

Should we, as SF fans, be complaining about such developments?

Author:  Rolnikov [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:54 am ]
Post subject: 

I'd say my mood is as much defensive as evangelistic... :D

If someone's only reason for not considering them is the headaches, then I think it's fair to say that's not an issue. But if someone was going to ask if they're worth buying at all, my answer would be much more fuzzy.

I've got loads to read on mine (books for review, story submissions, proofs, etc), and I could quite happily spend the next three years reading nothing but the freebies from Baen Books. It could be a much less essential purchase for someone with different reading habits.

Author:  George Berger [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:21 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thanks for all that information, prejudices, and even mere points of view concerning ebooks. I now agree that they are here to stay, but my fears stand. So I'll buy one, after gathering more information. Two things are not clear. Can the Sony gizmo download from Amazon? Can Kindle download only from Amazon?

Author:  Foxie [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:22 pm ]
Post subject: 

Ebooks leave my ambivalent. The potential for access to a million books at the touch of a few buttons, and the ability to reach the market without having to commit to costly print runs are benefits which are very hard to argue against.

I have some worries however...

I mean, if I buy a book, then it's mine. The only way someone can take it back is to come around my house and steal it. The only way someone can stop me lending it to someone else is to come and find me, find me in the act of lending, and drag me off. The paper and ink is my property and I can do what I want with it. I can read it where ever I like, whenever I like, wearing whatever I like, using whatever lights I like...

Using the music industry as a comparative model, if I buy a book from a Sony retailer, what is going to happen if I decide, in a few years time, to ditch my Sony and buy something from Apple? Can I read my Sony ebook on an Apple reader? What if Sony bring out a new reader that won't read the books I already own for their old reader, and they discontinue support for my old reader? What if some bright spark decides that a good revenue stream would be pop-ups while I'm trying to read? What about when the first generation of ebook readers become redundant? I mean, there are some albums I've brought half-a-dozen times, simply because the formats have changed (LP, cassette, CD, minidisc etc etc.)

To be honest, I think it's going to end up the way I treat music: If I want to give something a go, I'll download it; if I really love something, I'll go out and buy a physical hard copy. Maybe it will force publishers to give us bibliophiles something a little more than just the words, the same way CDs and DVDs do these days. Can't be a bad thing. As I'm picking up a habit of saying, remove the necessity and you'll rediscover the art.

Author:  Foxie [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:24 pm ]
Post subject: 

Bah! Late to the party :(

Author:  Pete [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 1:34 pm ]
Post subject: 

Tony wrote:-
Should we, as SF fans, be complaining about such developments?

As a horror fan I'm still sulking over the loss of illuminated manuscripts, preferably bound in human skin and written in blood :twisted:

More seriously, while I will read the occasional PDF for review, it's not something I like doing, I'd much rather be looking at a book. Partly that's because I think, as a reviewer I'm supposed to comment on presentation as well as the story itself, and you can't do that if all you have is an electronic version. Partly it's a matter of comfort - my computer is in the coldest room of the house, so sitting in front of the fire with a book is preferable (but those concerns are addressed by the e-reader). And finally it is sentiment - I work on a computer most of the day, and so when it comes to leisure activity I prefer a clean break, to get away from reading from a screen (also, in part addressed by the e-reader).

I do think electronic publishing is the way of the future though. It makes sense economically, and a lot of the objections will fall by the wayside as the technology develops and prices drop.

That doesn't mean that books will go away though, any more than the coming of a superior way of capturing images (photography) meant that painting was abolished. There will always be people who prefer the 'tangibility' of books, though books will inevitably become more rare. We already see something akin to this, with the growth of the collectors' market. And, as a side issue, it's sensible to have hard copies of any text so that we're prepared in the event one of those solar flares/magnetic storms that wipes all electronic media in apocalyptic stories and Michael Bay films comes along.

Instead of bemoaning the shift from print to electronic, we should be anticipating the problems that might arise and how to deal with them.

My main concerns are a) the malleability of electronic text and b) the lack of quality control.

Regarding the former, while it might seem like paranoia, the amazon case referenced earlier shows that there are legitimate concerns. If documents can be erased from e-readers without so much as a by your leave, then perhaps they can be altered with a similar ease. This is something we need to guard against, or we may well slip into a Big Brother scenario, where the historical record is revised to suit the whims of those in power.

Similarly, POD and desktop publishing have reduced the element of quality control in the literary marketplace, and electronic media makes self-publishing even easier and cheaper. This is a democratising process, but the danger exists that anything of value could be lost in a sea of mediocrity. You can, of course, argue that it's only the current situation writ large, but I fear the proportion of 'good' work to 'bad' could be radically reduced without some interface (editor, publisher) between the writer and his/her audience.

Author:  Mike A [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:34 pm ]
Post subject: 

I remember an editor raising concerns about quality control during a Q&A session about writing and this funny new thing called the Internet, way back in the mid-90s!

It seems to me the challenge is to create distribution channels where a certain level of quality is guaranteed, and to get people to pay for this content. People seem oddly averse to paying for online content, as the newspapers have discovered.

Author:  Pete [ Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:47 pm ]
Post subject: 

Mike A wrote:-
I remember an editor raising concerns about quality control during a Q&A session about writing and this funny new thing called the Internet, way back in the mid-90s!

Oh yeah, and before that there were people banging on about the dangers of POD and self-publishing, so not a new concern.

The easier/cheaper it is to get work out there the more people doing it, but I think the ratio of signal to noise diminishes.

I'm not so sure that charging for content is the answer - there are plenty of free webzines with solid content, such as Clarkesworld, Subterranean, The Future Fire. I'd prefer more to place the onus on review sites like The Fix - reliable sorters of wheat from chaff.

The problem is going to be the sheer amount of the chaff, and of course that it will be easy for chaff to come back under another name.

Page 2 of 3 All times are UTC
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group