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Buying E Books

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Buying E Books

Postby Carola » Wed Oct 22, 2003 11:21 pm

Has anyone tried purchasing downloaded Ebooks from Amazon (esp. any Latin or Greek texbooks)? There are isn't a lot to choose from at the moment but the idea has definite appeal - cheaper, faster etc. Especially as I am now used to reading the Textkit books on my laptop.

I would be very interested to hear some feedback on this - I think the idea of Ebooks will revolutionise reading as much as the invention of printing (which took quite a few years to "catch on" as people were a bit unsure of reading a book printed by a machine!). It also means that obscure textbooks, poetry and other non-bestselling items can be published without worrying about print over-runs - a sort of "publish to order" system.
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Postby mingshey » Thu Oct 23, 2003 12:43 am

Paper books still have some advantages and charms. E-books have theirs. As for me, the physical existence by itself appeals.
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Postby klewlis » Thu Oct 23, 2003 12:53 am

I hate reading from a screen. I think it's because I spend so much time *working* at a computer that I get tired of staring at it... I have to force myself to read articles and things that people send me, and only once have I read an entire book online. It's hard on the eyes (even with an lcd, though less) and you can't pack it around the house and in the car and everywhere else--unless you have a pda, in which case it's so tiny that it's still irritating to read.

I *don't* see it catching on as well as books, at least until they create a device specifically for that purpose and solve the lighting problems. The device would have to be book-sized... smaller than a laptop (and lighter!) and bigger than a pda. And it'd have to have a killer battery, since laptop batteries die so quickly. Only then do I see myself going for it...
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Postby benissimus » Thu Oct 23, 2003 1:07 am

I hate reading from a computer screen too :(
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Postby Carola » Thu Oct 23, 2003 1:35 am

Sure, everyone hates reading from current computer screens, but I'll bet that in 10 years time you'll be doing it. There are some new innovations in screens (flexible etc) that will transform screen reading. I have a flat liquid crystal screen at work and the eyestrain difference between this and an old "TV" type screen is very marked.

Of course, the answer is cost - printing a book on paper is risky (if they don't sell you're stuck with them) and expensive. See what's happening to the recording industry these days and you will see the future of book publishing.
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Postby benissimus » Thu Oct 23, 2003 4:58 am

Yeah, I do have a much easier time reading off of my new computer screen. It's flat-screen, not LCD, but it is much kinder on the eyes.
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Re: Buying E Books

Postby Jeff Tirey » Fri Oct 31, 2003 6:01 pm

Carola wrote: It also means that obscure textbooks, poetry and other non-bestselling items can be published without worrying about print over-runs - a sort of "publish to order" system.


Hi Carola - Yes, I agree with you that ebooks are a great publishing choice for low demand books - you could say that Textkit is an example of this too. There's also nice for promotional techniques like, "read the first 3 chapters" I see that a lot of technical books.

I do think that paper printed books will be here to stay for anything popular. I like to read on paper and I actually print any Textkit material rather than reading it on a monitor.

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Re: Buying E Books

Postby Carola » Fri Oct 31, 2003 10:58 pm

jeff wrote:
I do think that paper printed books will be here to stay for anything popular. I like to read on paper and I actually print any Textkit material rather than reading it on a monitor.

jeff


Perhaps some very inventive person could produce a true double sided cheap printer (ie - not just turning over the paper!) for those who like printed books. I also saw somewhere (New Scientist?) that a flexible screen material is now in the development stage - it is a computer screen on a flexible plastic sheet which can be bent and and is very light. I think the electronic "book", about the size and weight of a paperback is only a few years away. A backlit screen that plugs into a power source wouldn't really be a problem (unless you are on a camping trip when you would need batteries) as I usually take a little clip on "booklight" with me when travelling and even use it at home if I want to read when partner Brian wants to sleep. Existing CE technology could easily power a little book computer and the storage space could be those little data storage chips like the one in our digital camera.
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Postby Keesa » Fri Oct 31, 2003 11:41 pm

My own feelings on ebooks are a little bit mixed. Certainly, I wouldn't buy one. If I'm going to spend the money, I'm going to buy a "real" book.

At the same time, I can't count the number of out-of-copyright books I've read for free online...right now I'm reading through Bullfinch's Mythology online, and I couldn't have afforded it if I had to buy it (my list of books-to--buy would take two weeks just to read!). At the same time, if I had a choice between free ebooks and free print books...no contest!

But I don't like ebooks well enough to buy them.
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Postby klewlis » Sat Nov 01, 2003 8:00 am

Keesa wrote:My own feelings on ebooks are a little bit mixed. Certainly, I wouldn't buy one. If I'm going to spend the money, I'm going to buy a "real" book.


I think a lot of people share that feeling (myself included) but I also think it will disappear over time, with new generations. It is already happening with music... it used to be that a person had to have the physical object, for the inherent value of the cd/cassette/lp itself and its jacket. but now the object has no value aside from the actual music and more people are turning to purely electronic forms (and not just pirates ;). So I imagine that the same will happen with books over time.
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Postby Keesa » Sat Nov 01, 2003 2:59 pm

I hope it doesn't disappear completely. That would, I think, be a real shame.

And, we still have my mom's entire collection of LPs, although for their own sakes we listen to our copies more often than we listen to the records.
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Postby klewlis » Sat Nov 01, 2003 4:22 pm

Keesa wrote:I hope it doesn't disappear completely. That would, I think, be a real shame.


Sure, but you and I only think that because we're coming at it from this end... objectively, what's the problem? Music is just music, books are just books, and the format in which they come really isn't inherently important... Every new technology involves some loss, some gain, and much resistance, but in the end the problem is simply that we like to keep what's old and comfortable (and we can't ;).
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Postby Bert » Sat Nov 01, 2003 9:38 pm

klewlis wrote:
but in the end the problem is simply that we like to keep what's old and comfortable (and we can't ;).


I even like the smell of books, especially old books. The smell of a computer screen doesn't do anything for me.
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Postby Keesa » Sun Nov 02, 2003 12:56 pm

Bert wrote:I even like the smell of books, especially old books. The smell of a computer screen doesn't do anything for me.


Have you ever tried washing the computer screen (I use vinegar instead of window spray) then sitting in front of it and writing for an hour? :D The results are...interesting. I wrote some strange things that day.

Klewlis, I'm sure you're right. I just don't agree with you. I believe books are important, although I can't say why. I can't think of an objective problem with the disappearance of books; I just feel that there is one. And I hope if they do disappear, it won't be in my lifetime or my children's.
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Postby Emma_85 » Sun Nov 02, 2003 1:10 pm

One of the problems I see is file format. You don't want to find out that in ten years when you go through the books you burned on CD's today, that you can't read half of them anymore, because they aren't compatible with win 2013. Also I think the magnetism on the CD's might wear off faster than the print in books (although paper doesn't seem to keep as long as it used to because of new paper making techniques or materials.)
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Postby Carola » Sun Nov 02, 2003 10:12 pm

Emma_85 wrote:One of the problems I see is file format. You don't want to find out that in ten years when you go through the books you burned on CD's today, that you can't read half of them anymore


Yes, this is a problem and printed books are good for this. Of course even books won't last forever - don't we wish a lot of the Greek and Roman authors had had taken the trouble to have their works carved on stone or baked clay tablets! However, the film archives of old celluloide (spelling?) film have now mostly been transferred to a more permanent medium, so it's possible to keep updating as years go by. The .TXT format is probably the best for preserving texts on a CD. Many years ago I remember having to transfer data from my old 5 1/4" disks to the smaller floppies, and now I have transferred everything to CD ROM. I guess in 10 years time I'll be doing the same job and moving everything to some sort of crystal storage or whatever.
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Postby klewlis » Mon Nov 03, 2003 6:59 pm

yes, there will always be people like jeff who take the time to convert books into useful formats. in the end we will lose much less than we have already lost to paper and the passage of time.
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Buying E Books

Postby Lisa » Mon Nov 03, 2003 7:14 pm

Most publishers are already pulling back on Ebook development:
"Bubble Bursts for E-Books"
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20031010/wr_nm/arts_frankfurt_electronic_dc_3

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Re: Buying E Books

Postby Carola » Tue Nov 04, 2003 4:30 am

Lisa wrote:Most publishers are already pulling back on Ebook development:
"Bubble Bursts for E-Books"
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20031010/wr_nm/arts_frankfurt_electronic_dc_3

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I think part of the problem was that the technology for reading the texts is still in its development stage. Don't worry, I can remember a guy I used to work with saying that computers will never take on - too complex to learn, too bulky, very limited in their application. This was about 1967 and I hope he's still around to eat his words! I can also remember buying a new computer in the early 1980's and being asked "why do you want a 40mb hard drive, you'll never fill it up?". That's no misprint - 40mb not 40gig! In my lifetime we have seen changes in technology that no-one could even dream of 50 years ago.
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Postby benissimus » Tue Nov 04, 2003 5:56 am

Haha 40 mb....

A fleet of floppy disks could hold that much!
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Postby klewlis » Tue Nov 04, 2003 6:52 am

40MB in the 80's?? wow, you were really ahead of things. in the 80's my family had a tandy color computer 2 which had no hard drive at all--everything was stored on cassette tapes. we upgraded our memory from 8kb to 16kb and were really excited about it.

it wasn't until the early 90's that we got a new computer, with a 105MB harddrive, which we thought we'd never use. it had windows 3.1 and we had our first experiments with the internet (but we didn't use it a lot because we had to dial long distance in order to get online....).

how things have changed, even in my short life! i have no doubts that the problems with software and hardware for ebooks will be vastly improved within a few years and we will all start becoming converts.
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Postby Carola » Wed Nov 05, 2003 12:10 am

Yes, it was the last word in computers at that time! It didn't run on Windows, I think it still just used DOS. I have actually used computers since 1967 - running on punched tape and needing to sit in a specially temperature controlled room! I think my microwave oven has more computing grunt these days! I am actually a shameless techno-junky but I can't afford to upgrade everything as fast as I'd like. By the way, I still have one very old computer at home running Win3.1 which controls a midi keyboard. Every attempt to "modernise" this set-up results in disaster so we now just leave it be. It's an interesting antique these days, I guess it will eventually become valuable like an early Moog synthesiser. (And having used one of these years ago I have to say they were much more fun than modern equipment). For those too young to be familiar with these - I think they were used for the music on the earliest "Dr Who" series.
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Postby Keesa » Wed Nov 05, 2003 3:51 am

Carola wrote:By the way, I still have one very old computer at home running Win3.1 which controls a midi keyboard. Every attempt to "modernise" this set-up results in disaster so we now just leave it be.


Do you still use it? I have an old Brother wordprocessor (old, I mean, to me) which I still use, on those rare occaisions when I can find ribbon for printing. I really like the low-tech feel of it. I've actually been trying to talk my mom into locating her old electric typewriter...so far, no luck.
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Postby Carola » Wed Nov 05, 2003 6:33 am

Yes, I use it all the time for writing midi and as an "electric piano/organ". We turned it off recently whilst moving things around - first time it had been switched off in several years. We buy a new cooler fan for it every few years but apart from that it is left as is. It is plugged into a keyboard and a sound system and that's about all it does (apart from playing some old games on it when you get sick of playing music!)
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