Comments on

Print and Sentiment

Original entry posted: Thu Nov 29 18:22:46 2007

wheat @ Fri Nov 30 09:37:44 2007 EST

I like the idea of an electronic reader. I used to do quite a bit of reading on my Palm V. At one point, I was on a kick to read the entire Old Testament that way. It made it pretty far, actually, and being able to hit it a few minutes at a time (stuck in an elevator or whatever) was very handy.

I like (well-made) books and the feel of paper. I also like being able to mark them up (in pencil, of course), which is something that I do quite a lot, even when I'm reading casually.

The biggest sticking points for me are price and openness. When these get down to $200, I might consider one. But I'd want to be able to put any PDF and/or Text file I like on it (I haven't checked out the features yet, so I don't know if it can do that), in addition to the proprietary format stuff from Amazon. (Just as I can mix DRM-free mp3s with DRM-crippled stuff on my iPods).

Disclaimer: I am an Amazon Associate (And so can you!)

Thomas @ Fri Nov 30 09:58:52 2007 EST

It doesn't do PDFs very well right now, by all reports. The screen res isn't high enough to fit an 8.5x11" image in there and still make it readable, and scrolling is a pain. The screen's too small, in other words.

It will open .txt, and it will load anything you run through the free Mobibooks converter. Since those are PRC files and were originally Palm format, your old e-books might even still work.

I guess the price for the reader is a relative thing. It doesn't bother me, because I actually think it's pretty cheap for a web tablet and free connectivity. But I can see how other people would take issues with that.

pseudonymous @ Fri Nov 30 11:12:59 2007 EST

Insisting that a book has to be on paper is like insisting that music has to be on vinyl, because without the feel of a record's grooves "it's just not the same experience." It was a silly point of view then, and it's a silly point of view now.

I read somewhere once about paper's continued use being somehow tied to the language and metaphors we use for comprehension. Once the metaphors change to accommodate new modes of production, we'll no longer need the paper.

The problem I have with all this, though, is redundancy. Imagine what we lost when the ancient Library of Alexandria burned to the ground. Not everyone is going to move to digital delivery and it's simply paranoid to think that some fool with a computer virus or EMP is going to wipe out human knowledge. Nonetheless, I am concerned at how ephemeral our communication has become.

That's the whole point of digital distribution--indeed, that's the whole promise of the Internet: it eliminates the physical space that, while traditional, is also cumbersome and prone to interference by powerful actors.

Who's your ISP again?

Thomas @ Fri Nov 30 11:37:53 2007 EST

Nobody said it's flawless.

Tim Wu consistently calls out for Internet access to be treated like any other kind of infrastructure--for which he is no doubt branded a godless commie. But your point is exactly why he's right.

wheat @ Mon Dec 3 07:01:37 2007 EST

Okay, now I've read up on the product a bit more and I do think there's a lot of bang for the buck. First off, I love the wireless document delivery idea. And I like that Amazon (like Audible) allows you to (re)download your purchases at any point in the future (I wish iTunes followed this route).

It looks like a very cool piece of technology and they've obviously put a lot of work into the relationships with book publishers so they can offer such cheap prices on content.

But it's not truly an internet tablet. You can't surf just anything with it, can you? Adding a dictionary and Wikipedia is a great idea.

Here's what I do think, though. The newspaper companies really need this thing (or something like it) to take off. They've had a lot of trouble, as a market, making the transition to digital. But this thing plus subscriptions to your favorite morning newspapers would be the perfect thing and would be a substantial improvement over newsprint.

To see if it's worth it for me, I'd have to spend some time seeing what texts are available for it, as I'm mostly a reader of classics and literary fiction, the best-seller connection (though it is marketing genius) doesn't add value much value for me. But, now that I've read up on it, this is a device I want to like and one I could see myself using.

Thomas @ Mon Dec 3 08:03:49 2007 EST

You might check Project Gutenberg for the classics--any of those texts (in .txt form) could be read by the Kindle.

Jud @ Mon Dec 3 10:03:10 2007 EST

Hey Thomas!
While e-books are sounder than their paper counterparts, I imagine that consumers are more reluctant to embrace this aspect of the digital revolution because books are more sacred than music or movies.

I've had discussions about E-books with numerous people who stigmatize them through the romantic experience of "snuggling up to a good book"; while paper has appeal, when will it be outweighed by practicality?

Love your blog!

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