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FGRSK8
02-12-2011, 01:41 PM
Exactly. I don't think libraries are going anywhere soon and I don't want them too. I borrow many many books. But you can't stop human technological progress. No one has been able to do that for over 5000 years. It's just how it is. And chances are, it won't be bad.

Totally agree!

Our town library has always and continues to be jammed with people from 6 to 96 who are reading and borrowing books.

I still have to wait up to a few weeks for a book I want to check out.

modern_muslimah
02-12-2011, 02:45 PM
You both do realize that we're talking evolution, not revolution, yes?

Yes, of course. At the moment we don't live in a society where most reading material is digital. That's why I said by the time this does occur, my hope is that eReaders (or smartphones, computers, tablet, whatever we use to read books, magazines, etc.) will be as common and as cheap as basic cell phones are now.


If we do get to a point where the majority of books are in electronic form, my one hope will be that by that point maybe eReaders will be like cell phones in that no frills eReaders will available and cheap enough for poor people to buy.


When books were first published, most people couldn't afford them. It was a long time before they could. Not that a lot of people could read, then, either. Aren't you glad that mass printing forged ahead anyway?

Yes, Prancer, I know the history of books. Yes, I'm glad that mass printing went ahead and I actually am glad for eReaders and tablets. I'm not a Luddite. That being said, no one knows for sure how eBooks will evolve or at what rate. Technology tends to evolve rather quickly now. If the majority of books are put into electronic format in five or even ten years, I do worry that will be a significant segment of the population that will be left out.


No one is going to pack up all the books and burn them. Publishers are still printing, libraries are still open, bookstores still sell books.

For now. We just discussed in this thread how libraries and bookstores are evolving. B&N is definitely focusing more on their digital business than the brick and mortar business and even in their brick and mortar stores, there is definitely a growing focus on the Nook. I don't even want to discuss Borders (I went to one yesterday and the selection was rather sparse. There were also a lot of clearance items. I think this one will probably close very soon) and there aren't a lot of independent bookstores.


Even if the publishers stop printing, there will still be millions of print books around for people to read. They won't vanish. It's going to take a while.

IA, print books will be available. That still leaves new books that haven't been published yet.


As technology improves and people upgrade, they will donate their used e-book readers just as they donated books,

I hope. The majority of electronics are not recycled and are simply discarded. I don't really see how eReaders will be different.


I was talking to a research librarian a while back who told me that the day that she realized the library needed to step up and deal with e-books was the day that she saw a little old lady reading a Kindle in Panera. When grandmas are using the same technology that the grandchildren are, you are no longer talking about something that might happen. It already has. We just haven't reached saturation yet, and even after we do, there will still be some transition.

Again, I don't really disagree. I think my only point is that access to books always be equal not that we not make books digital. I don't have a problem with digital books. I just want all people to have access to them. I hope none of the potential issues that I or PDilemma brought up are ever real issues.


The question for me is not HOW people will read in the future, but IF. It may very well be that we have no reason for books in any form because no one reads them.

That would be very sad.

barbk
02-12-2011, 07:37 PM
I went into our Borders yesterday -- and bought a hardcover book!-- and I noticed that in the cafe, at least three quarters of the chairs were taken up by people using their laptops. They have free wi-fi -- as does the library -- but Borders has comfier chairs. It was a reasonably well-dressed group; nobody looked like he was homeless, and I'd guess that most of these folks probably have internet at home. (One study put our city's percentage of households with broadband service at >89%.) I guess that a lot of people like working alone with their computers in the semi-social environment of the store. None of them had ebook readers, at least not that I saw.

There were more people in the cafe than there seemed to be in the rest of the store, which does not bode well for Borders' survival, imo. We have a B&N nearby too, but while there are lots of folks in the cafe, there are always a ton of people in the book areas of the store and frequently a line to buy books.

I always bring a stack of books over to the cafe, and have a coffee while I browse through them and decide what to buy. Ten years ago, I wasn't uncommon doing so. Yesterday, I was one of two people doing that. (A few others were having a conversation; the rest were working at their computers.)

kwanfan1818
02-12-2011, 10:22 PM
Probably depends on what it is. I'm a science major and a lot of science figures would not fit on an e-reader screen unless you zoomed in (if you can, I'm not sure if you can) and that sort of ruins the visual memory placement.
amazon makes a bigger version that's supposed to be textbook sized. Early reviews were negative on table and illustration formatting, but I expect these to improve rapidly.

Electronic publishing for textbooks makes a lot of sense, and it should be economically feasible to sell electronic update packages.

Prancer
02-13-2011, 01:33 AM
I think my only point is that access to books always be equal

Access to print has never been equal, or anywhere close to it. Do you think the people who live on the reservations near PDilemma have the same access to print that you do?

When I lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere, my choices were what was in the small library in town and what the local grocery store had to offer in part of one aisle.

When I moved to a town, I had access to a bigger local library, a small school library, and a few stores with those partial aisles. Then I moved to a city and had more access, and then I went to college, where I got to use the card catalog and The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, which I could use within the college library. And I thought that was amazing--hundreds of books at my disposal.

I could go on, but here's the thing--the farm I grew up on is still there. The school I went to still doesn't have a library, although it has a book collection scattered through the classrooms. There is is still no bookstore for miles; the nearest library branch is still 40 miles away. And the school is using textbooks that are at least 20 years old, some of them older.

The people in my little farm town who have the best access to print are also the people who have the best access to electronic sources--because they are the ones who can access the internet and find the print sources they want and need.


I went into our Borders yesterday -- and bought a hardcover book!

:cheer2:


There were more people in the cafe than there seemed to be in the rest of the store, which does not bode well for Borders' survival, imo. We have a B&N nearby too, but while there are lots of folks in the cafe, there are always a ton of people in the book areas of the store and frequently a line to buy books.

The nearest Borders to me hardly ever has anyone in the cafe and rarely someone on a computer. The cafe is small, the tables are really small and there are no outlets. Since it's a relatively new Borders, I think it was designed that way deliberately. I'm not sure what they were thinking, but if it was to keep non-paying customers from hanging around, it worked.

Borders used to be a really good store. Their marketing decisions over the past decade have been disastrous for them--and I am not just referring to their halfhearted attempt at the e-book market. Really, really a shame; I remember when I used to go way out of my way to go there.

A blog post about the difference between books and literacy that I think makes some very good points: http://wewhoareabouttodie.com/2011/02/08/is-the-future-of-physical-book-publishing-the-same-as-the-future-of-reading-and-writing/

okb1947
02-13-2011, 06:23 AM
SORRY--I spent my birthday at B&N)! I wanted to clarify my original point about reading Dr. Seuss.

All three Munchkins occupied my lap. The artwork spread across almost two feet of paper. Think of the detail in the Grinch's view of the Whos' noisy celebration--or the "dark and gloomy snide field that was almost nine miles wide" in What Was I Scared Of from Sneetches and Other Stories. Big, colorful images that they shared with me.

I just don't see a digital image in a much smaller place having the same impact--and for me, that's what Seuss should be. Sort of putting Mona Lisa on a postage stamp, it's possible, but why would anyone want to?

Anita18
02-13-2011, 06:58 AM
SORRY--I spent my birthday at B&N)! I wanted to clarify my original point about reading Dr. Seuss.

All three Munchkins occupied my lap. The artwork spread across almost two feet of paper. Think of the detail in the Grinch's view of the Whos' noisy celebration--or the "dark and gloomy snide field that was almost nine miles wide" in What Was I Scared Of from Sneetches and Other Stories. Big, colorful images that they shared with me.

I just don't see a digital image in a much smaller place having the same impact--and for me, that's what Seuss should be. Sort of putting Mona Lisa on a postage stamp, it's possible, but why would anyone want to?
Reminds me of the Winsor McCay book (http://www.amazon.com/Little-Nemo-Slumberland-Splendid-Sundays/dp/0976888505/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1297580225&sr=8-11) that reproduced his comics at original size - the entire expanse of a newspaper. Gorgeous gorgeous work to behold...but oh so $$$$. :lol:

Prancer
02-13-2011, 07:55 AM
I just don't see a digital image in a much smaller place having the same impact--and for me, that's what Seuss should be. Sort of putting Mona Lisa on a postage stamp, it's possible, but why would anyone want to?

It may (or may not) be that the impact isn't the same, but that doesn't mean it's less. To quote the blog I cited above, "reading is an experience, not an interaction between a person and a thing, no matter how much more authentic or un-reproducable we may think reading a physical book is."

And to quote you, "my grandfather read me the farm futures, but it didn't matter--an adult I loved was sharing with me!!"

gkelly
02-13-2011, 04:07 PM
I think there are some purposes (soon to be many) for which digital delivery of type is/will be preferable to print

When I submitted my dissertation in 1999 I certainly wished I could have included videos in an appendix; instead I just brought tapes to the defense.

The scientific journal I work for now can include video clips as online supplements but there isn't a way to include them in the ink-and-paper journal we still produce and send out. Within a few years our journal probably be online only; many already are.

In most cases the important part is the conveying words from the writer's brain to the reader's and the physical medium that carries the words doesn't matter.

But on the other hand sometimes the sensual interaction of the consumer with the object is the point.

Works designed for digitial media can use the physical characteristics of those media to add meaning to the words, just as print books often use the physical characteristics of ink and paper to add meaning. There are surely whole new interactive genres waiting to be invented.

But those that specifically rely on the characteristics of ink (or other materials) on paper will either still need to be produced on paper or else will disappear into history.

That's especially true for books designed for the youngest children. I mentioned popup books; something like Pat the Bunny would be even more pointless to translate to digital.

Digital music recordings have replaced vinyl and tape. But they haven't replaced live performance.

There is still a value to direct live experience that is different from virtual experience.

The question is how much of the direct experience of flipping paper pages is value added for enough consumers of enough kinds of books to keep printing technology alive, and for how long.

Then there's also the question of what kinds of artifacts can survive technological changes. Not so much an issue relevant to individual lifetimes, but to future historians.

Digital recordings, and most types of analogue recordings for that matter, are only useful if we have the technology to play them back.

The content that's valued at the time of a technological change will get converted to the new technology and preserved. Ephemeral or insignificant content will not.

So what happens when future generations discover an artifact that was digitized according to a protocol that has itself been lost?

How useful would discovery of a stack of computer punchcards with historically important data be today? Or a floppy disk? How about in 50 or 100 years when there's no one alive who remembers using them? How about a phonograph cylinder?

rjblue
02-13-2011, 04:41 PM
Then there's also the question of what kinds of artifacts can survive technological changes. Not so much an issue relevant to individual lifetimes, but to future historian.
To future historians, we are going to have seemed to move from the late 1800's to mid 2100's in a blink, with very little record of how it happened. Most of the paper in the 20th century is so acid that it is crumbling away, so all the letters and photographs of the first half are already disappearing. Film is also slowly burning up. And then we switched to digital media, which is indestructible- unless wiped- which happens all too often, but also has evolving formats which often render older media unreadable.

The current generation doesn't even email- they text, which is the most ephemeral of all.

It is very odd that the most recorded century is going to be a dark age to the future.

Cheylana
02-14-2011, 03:55 AM
My Lasik guy told me that reading glasses would be inevitable as we move into our forties (I'm currently 35).


Is that new? Because I am 49 and still don't need bifocals, which makes my eye doctor all giddy.
I dunno, he told me that a few weeks ago. Anyway, may I be so fortunate as to follow in your footsteps! :D

Stormy
02-14-2011, 03:54 PM
NOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I rely on inter library loan. In fact, I mourn the fact that where I live isn't part of my old library system, which was part of NYC's system - even with inter library loan up here, my choices are constrained. If we had no inter library loan, I don't think I'd use my library, period. It's tiny and it's got nothin'.

Me too! Interlibrary loan is the best thing since sliced bread for me. I'm constantly getting books on interlibrary loan. My first ever real job in highschool was in the interlibrary loan department of my city's library and I loved it.

barbk
02-14-2011, 04:34 PM
I dunno, he told me that a few weeks ago. Anyway, may I be so fortunate as to follow in your footsteps! :D

I'm even older, and don't need reading glasses at all. I do need glasses for distance.

moojja
02-14-2011, 04:39 PM
So what happens when future generations discover an artifact that was digitized according to a protocol that has itself been lost?

How useful would discovery of a stack of computer punchcards with historically important data be today? Or a floppy disk? How about in 50 or 100 years when there's no one alive who remembers using them? How about a phonograph cylinder?

Like how the entire Egyptian language was lost until the Rosetta stone was found? It's not a new problem. But it's simpler to upgrade from a floppy disk to a CD to a whatever...as information gets more compact, it should be easier to save more data. After-all paper rots, and books needed to be recopied. Even in ancient times, only the content that is valued gets recopied. Nobody bothered to copy the tax documents from the Roman Empire, and historians would love to read one now, just so they can find out how the different providence were governed.

I actually love the smell and touch of old books. Reading Fahrenheit 451 on an used book added a level of depth that would be lost on a kindle. (Especially since it has paragraph on the touch, the smell and the feel of holding a book in your hand.) I also can't really browse on my kindle. I can't just randomly flip though the book and pickup a word or a sentence that peak my interest.
But in term of data storage and access, kindle wins. I only have 30 books on my kindle, and 90% I download for free on project gutenberg. My friend doesn't own any e-reader but has several epub books that he reads on his computer.

Prancer
02-14-2011, 09:36 PM
And then we switched to digital media, which is indestructible

Digital media is not indestructible; it degrades and fails. There's even a bacteria that eats it.


I'm even older, and don't need reading glasses at all. I do need glasses for distance.

Yes, but my point was that most people need reading glasses as they enter their forties; I'm unusual in NOT needing them, and so are you. But I don't think this can be attributed to reading on screens. It's normal to develop presbyopia in middle age; AFAIK, it always has been. It was when I worked in an optical shop, and that was more than 25 years ago. And it was normal for my parents' generation AFAIK, too.