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Digital or paper books?
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mariathomas



Joined: 13 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 12:34 pm    Post subject: Digital or paper books?  Reply with quote

Well  according to my point of view, I think that readers are being pulled between traditional books and e-reading devices, Millions of Americans are abandoning printed books to pick up electronic reading devices, but also among people who are trying to decide whether they should stick with paper or step into the future and go electronic. I think that By the end of the year, 10.3 million people are expected to have electronic reading devices, buying about 100 million books. Last year, there were 3.7 million people with e-readers, buying 30 million books. Well Book publishers are trying to find ways to accommodate both traditional readers and e-readers with bundles — an electronic version along with a hard copy of a book.
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Freyda



Joined: 04 Jan 2009
Posts: 425



PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As one who prefers paper books, I was reading about Books of Hours recently and it occurred to me that it is much easier to access and research centuries of writings on paper - from the very grand like Books of Hours to the humble, such as household accounts and scraps of paper, lists, notes, random letters - than it is in other forms. Already, over probably less than 20 years, I have informal family records and so on in various forms I no longer have the functioning technology to look at - videotapes and even audio cassettes, since the tape playing bit of my music system has decided to crunch up the tapes, and it isn't worth investing in new, even if I could find it. Likewise the car tape player has been replaced by a CD player, and cassette tape is notoriously fragile. I know that you can get these things moved to DVD/CD but then that will soon be outdated too. Yet old diaries and photo albums are still available without any problem!

I enjoy watching the TV programme "Who Do You Think You Are?", and although the subjects often use the internet and computers to access old census data, it is very moving to see, and they are often very moved by handling, the actual parish records or old documents in which their ancestors' key life moments are recorded.


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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
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Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think paper's going - it's inevitable. The short shelf-life of storage media is irrelevant - it will simply be moved to the new media as technology develops - that's the beauty of digital data, very easy to copy/transfer. CDs, DVDs, USB sticks, all that personal physical media, will very likely disappear altogether over the coming decades - it will all be stored 'in the cloud', for better or worse.

The whole model of owning texts will change - probably it will be a pay-per-access rather than own-a-copy model. You will be able to quite easily access any text whatsoever at the click of a link - but of course it will cost you!



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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
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Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't expect paper books to disappear in what remains of my life. I don't think I'll be buying an electronic device. Not with all the unread books in this house.  
Will electronic books ever have the beauty of some traditional books? I'm thinking of my 'Midsummer Night's Dream' published in 1908 with tipped in pictures by Arthur Rackham.  My copy of Ray Bradbury's 'The Martian Chronicles' a large book bound in black cloth covered in silver stars. My tiny copy of Eleanor Farjeon's 'Mrs Malone' illustrated by Edward Ardizzone. My luxurious copy of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' illustrated by Al Herschfeld. And many othewrs which are things of beauty as well asa texts to read. M.


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Freyda



Joined: 04 Jan 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

However inevitable it  is, I still prefer tangible to virtual. I am a bit suspicious of the cloud and access to it (not that I really understand it). For example, my Norton-backed-up pc files - where are they!?  And the ease of transferring digital data does not get round the problem of things stored on pre-digital but non-paper methods.

I think also that tangible paper books may well become, as the other Mike says, valuable treasures, and will be produced perhaps as lovely artefacts. Have you seen the latest limited edition Penguins? (The only one I really fancy is The Secret Garden with a cut out tree on the cover.)


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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although I have to confess to being a bit of a Luddite, I'm not actually opposed to books in electronic format: I can see circumstances where I might well prefer them. At the moment, I simply can't afford to purchase the hardware neeeded, but I would if I could. I think it is often forgotten that the Codex book form is a relatively new invention in itself (relative to the history of mankind, that is) and the printed book a mere new-comer on the scene.

Having said that, I do love the traditional book, and have no immediate expectation of its demise. When I was a student of Librarianship, back in the 1960s, the death of the book was already being predicted, but it hasn't happened yet. More recently, it has been fashionable to talk of 'the paperless society', yet my experience has been that we use more and more paper. Whereas once we jotted down some information we wished to record on the back of an old envelope, these days, we hit 'print' on the computer and produce, at minimum, an A4 sheet.


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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've linked to this before when the subject came up, but in case anyone's bored enough to want to read it, here's an online version of an essay I wrote for my MA a couple of years ago. I can't remember what mark I got, so it may be a bit irrepressibly drab and awful.


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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
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Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree books will continue to be valued as artefacts - but they will become economically non-viable save as luxury collectors' items. The affordability of books depends on the mass market, and economically this distribution model simply can't compete with digital media in the long run, just as the scrolls and books produced by monastic scribes couldn't compete with those of the printing press.

Those of us with a sentimental attachment to books (I include myself) will go the way of all flesh, and newer generations will wonder why anyone ever got attached to such an inefficient and limited medium in the first place.

(Caveat: this is of course no more than speculation, though I've left all the 'probably's and 'perhaps'es out)



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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
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Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Only skim-read your piece Gareth, but unless I missed something you didn't mention some of the key advantages of digital text, such as searchability, indexing, hyperlinking, cross-referencing and annotating without harming the source text. Also, all of the above with multi-users in a collaborative environment.

The finger-turning and other tactile elements of reading have already been addressed to some extent by devices like the iPad, and we can expect more of this in the future (tactile interfaces are an exciting research area at the moment, even extending to technologies that give an illusion of touching solid objects where none exist - though all this is in its infancy).

It's only fair to confess that I don't yet own an e-reader. This is because a) I tend to be a late-adopter, and b) I'm also a tightwad!



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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I probably mentioned searchability, but I'm too lazy to check. But if I wanted to I could do it in seconds.



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