Friday, August 24, 2007

More book ramblings...

...sort of tied in with yesterday's post.

1) I'm not really sure I completely trust someone who doesn't read for pleasure. It's unnatural. Like not liking music. I mean, sure, you say you're human, but isn't that just what one of them would say to keep people from looking for its pod?

2) For some reason, reading from electronic media isn't the same. Vishnu knows I do plenty of reading and writing on a phosphor screen myownself, but it just ain't the same. It's like empty calories from rice cakes and lettuce. It's like decaffeinated coffee or alcohol-free beer. It's like driving down a challenging and curvy road in a sports car with an automatic transmission. It's like nicotine from a plastic patch. There's Just Something Missing from the eWord, something fundamentally less satisfying about pushing a button or scrolling a wheel than turning a page.

24 comments:

Ben said...

Something my colleagues and I used to mutter to ourselves or each other after dealing with some moron here in lovely Charlotte, NC:

'I ain't much for no fancy book learnin.'

Cybrludite said...

On the other tentecle, it can be hard to find the Anabasis over at Borders or B&N

Breda said...

The beauty of a book is that it is a tactile, sensory thing. You can hold it in your hands, stick it in your bag, stash it under the bed, admire the cover art, and people everywhere claim to love the smell of old books. You create a relationship with books.

GreatBlueWhale said...

I've been reading a lot of Eric Flint's 1632 universe alternate history online, and it's killing me. I'm about ready to kill some trees and print out a lot of it. It's been better since I started using a dual-page reading view in Word; it makes it look like a paperback. It's just a bit difficult to lay down on the couch and read with a 17" widescreen laptop.

Zendo Deb said...

Ah, a sure sign you are growing old when the inborn Luddite tendencies start to come out.

Baen in general and David Weber in particular has a lot of stuff in various electronic formats. I like being able to increase the font size so that I can see the darn stuff. (Old age is not for sissies.)

7.62x54r said...

Okay Tam, where do I sign up for the newsletter? I'd rather not post my snail mail address here so check your e-mail. ;-)

I've tried reading books on screen a couple of times and agree that it ain't there yet. However, there's a lot of useful information that isn't printed in book form, or can be very difficult or expensive to get a printed copy of (short of printing it out yourself).

Yosemite Sam said...

I agree that there is nothing like the printed word, but one thing I love about the electronic format is the sheer volume of material that is in the public domain that is also available online.

Right now, I reading through Mark Twain's lesser known works. All for free. The 21'st century does have its good points.

Eilthireach said...

Some of us think that reading is a bit unnatural - 2000+ years of oral tradition will do that to you. I'd rather hear a story than read one. Just sayin' - potahto....

Alan said...

I find the convenience and portability of ebooks out weigh the paper thing. I've been reading books on my Axim X50v for so long I'm annoyed when I can't find an electronic version of a book and have to read the dead tree copy.

When there's a ebook reader for my iPhone I'll be in heaven.

Eric said...

Considering my dad just gave me all his old Edgar Rice Burroughs books and Im getting to reread the Chessmen of Mars, I happen to agree.

There are some John Jakes books in there and a Michener one called The Source which is turning out to be very interesting.

Oldsmoblogger said...

My thing is the eyestrain. It's just not as comfortable to read online.

I will always love a well-made book. I plan to purchase both the full Britannica and the 20-volume OED in print one day. But the only advantages a mass-market paperback has over electronic ink (for now) are:

* The paperback doesn't need electricity (light, but not necessarily electricity).

* You don't weep (usually) when you drop a mass-market paperback into a bathtub or sinkful of dishwater. Yer laptop, not so much.

In one of William Gibson's novels (the one where the pop star was marrying the virtual avatar), there was a company called Sandbenders that made fancy computer enclosures from wood, metal, etc. The owner just kept upgrading the guts and kept the furniture/art grade case.

Someone could come along with a nice wooden or leatherbound (or steampunk leather and metal) aftermarket eReader case that would be more aesthetically pleasing than plastic. If there is demand, supply will follow.

Improvements in the eReader itself will have to come first. They're better than they were, but making them easier on the eye in a variety of lighting conditions and longer battery life (or kinetic charging, or possibly even solar power) will make them a viable option.

Hmmm. Somewhere in there is a business plan (rummages for fountain pen and paper).

Anonymous said...

Best thing about Books is they DON'T require power. Kind of liberating when you think about it.

Canthros said...

A book requires neither power nor an internet connection. Its interface is simple, well-understood, and obvious besides. It can accomodate any data format you care to write upon the page, effortlessly embedding images, music (alas, music playback is still beyond the capabilities of the humble printed page), and can mix languages with abandon and as many typefaces as the printer felt necessary. Books provide far sharper text than can be had on a modern computer screen, and are less likely to cause eyestrain due to flaky backlights or interaction with flourescent lighting.

Honestly, I prefer a good hardcopy reference on, say, C# to the online, instantly indexed help docs that come with the IDE. It's not so much that the online docs are bad, but if it's not important enough to print in the book, I'm probably going to have to resort to Google to find out, anyway.

forlorn boater said...

Ebooks are getting closer to the real thing, though:

http://www.engadget.com/2007/08/24/cafescribe-gives-ebook-readers-musty-smell-of-the-real-thing/

comatus said...

http://www.blackwell.com/

Anabasis, facing page and interlinear, in stock. I think it's the only thing I ever bought from them, but in may day when you started philosophy grad school a Blackwell's account was the first thing you got.

Who is..... Carteach0? said...

Books have personality. Some can become old friends, cherished no matter how ratty or tired they get.

Puter's are just... machines. I can get emotional over a machine, but it's rarely ever love.

Books.... those can be loved.

Anonymous said...

Funny....I'd always thought that the unnatural thing was to content oneself with the artificiality of the printed word rather than to get out and revel in the splendor of the world.

Bookstores and libraries are to me the most depressing places on earth, filled with people who do not experience for themselves, but rather are content to live vicariously through those who do.

JMHO, you understand!

Jeff said...

Tam -
I'm a little off topic here, but can you explain your use of myownself? I sense a touch of sarcasm or "here's a goofy word I say for fun". I know someone who uses "yourownself" often and it just drives me nuts. Is it a word that I've been missing all these years that I should start using?

And thanks for reminding me that I haven't learned anything from a book for a while except for the psychology from Alex Delaware.

The eBook Guy said...

......... I also don't listen to music.

Look, I never quite understood why my brother and sisters would spend $15 on a CD for music. For that kind of money I could get something much better.

(I forgot to mention, I also have an eye strain problem which affects my reading speed. The eye strain seems more of a problem with books than a computer screen.)

aepilot_jim said...

Being on the road as much as I am. I don't have the luxury of printed books. Ebooks are a god send. I can carry a dozen CD's full of books and not run out of stuff to read on the road. If I had to carry that many books I'd need an extra airplane to carry it all.

Anonymous said...

No way in hell I could read a book for fun on the web. Annoying enough when doing research for my worthless degrees. Amazing what's out there though.
Still have the books that were in my cargo pockets when flying down to for the '83 Grenada livefire exercise(RF Jones' "Blood Sport" and "the Monkey Wrench Gang") "Herodotus" is going to Afganistan next year so hopefully my daughter wil flaunt it wen se gets to high school. That'd be cool.
Lit. on the web? Oy veh.

DirtCrashr said...

eBooks...jeeze it seems like a lifetime ago now that TVG won the internal war, Henry got the boot, and Rupert's boy-commander Jeff Shell ran out of vision and they shut us down... It appears you can still get 'em from Amazon. If you fly they're pretty handy and can store a large library with generous-sized CF card boost.
Mine's a paperweight now - they should have implemented the MP3 player - it would have worked great in foreign language Dictionary function...

Christina said...

I don't remember not being able to read. I remember learning how to WRITE my name, but I always remember reading...Sesame Street rocks!
I feel antsy if I don't have a book with me. There is always at least one book in my purse, and my apartment is loaded.
Thankfully all of my children love to read, and I've held on to many books from my childhood that they can enjoy now!

Strings said...

Of all the places to draw the words to express my opinion from, I'm gonna use Buffy. The character Giles summed up my attitude: books have a certain odor, which to me is quite comforting...

Not to say I don't use eBooks: my Palm has several stored on a memory card, and I'd like to add more titles. It's ALWAYS in my pocket, so i can read whenever I have a bit of downtime...