Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Books Handhelds Technology

The Evolution of Reading In the Digital Age 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-wait-until-we-need-to-patch-our-books dept.
Doofus writes "'Print is dying. Digital is surging. Everyone is confused.' is the subtitle of Craig Mod's thoughtful discussion aboutthe evolution of reading material from printed dead-tree to flowing digital content. I stumbled upon his blog post from a related NYTimes article, Former Book Designer Says Good Riddance to Print. He breaks reading material down into two basic categories: 'Formless,' in which the content and meaning of the writing has no dependency on presentation, and 'Definite,' in which layout and presentation play a role in conveying meaning. Mod makes the point that as digital presentation improves, devices such as the iPad will bring authors newer and improved platforms upon which to display Definite content. Despite this, he says, some works will be better consumed in physical print because 'They're books that embrace their physicality or have stood the test of time. They're the kinds of books the iPad can't displace because they're complete objects.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Evolution of Reading In the Digital Age

Comments Filter:
  • Ahh. (Score:5, Funny)

    by FooAtWFU (699187) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:30PM (#31381248) Homepage
    Like pop-up books. Or scratch-n-sniff.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Phoobarnvaz (1030274)
      Too bad Playboy & other men's magazines never developed the pop-up or scratch-n-sniff.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by SirWinston (54399)

        >Too bad Playboy & other men's magazines never developed the pop-up

        You must be using them wrong...

  • by deniable (76198) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:31PM (#31381258)
    Also known as PDF and anything but PDF. PDF and fixed layout where it's needed, but please stop producing novels as PDF. They don't reflow nicely on smaller screens.
    • by IANAAC (692242)

      PDF and fixed layout where it's needed, but please stop producing novels as PDF. They don't reflow nicely on smaller screens. Depends on the software (and device, I suppose) you're suing to read the PDF... some are quite configurable.

      • by deniable (76198)
        What PDF viewers run on a smartphone and reflow pages designed for A4 or US letter? I want something that can do that. Heck, I've found PDFs set up for a small screen that are painful to read on a desktop. Software that goes that way would be good too.
  • Save the books..... burn the ipads!
  • Problems.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:36PM (#31381288)
    The main problems with e-readers is A) books are expensive B) there are no libraries. How many people actually -buy- all the books they read? Yes, occasionally there is the odd book where the waiting list in the library would give me a copy sometime in the next decade and I will buy a book. Or the odd book on sale at Barnes and Nobel for $3 that is a hardback, and occasionally I wish to annotate a classic work of literature so I will buy it, but for the rest, I just go to a library. As for newspapers, I generally don't read any. I don't see the point. Any community event traditionally advertised in the local paper is easily found via Facebook or Twitter. National or international news is best found online where you can see all sides of the story rather than the one or two expressed via print media. It allows for more specialized interest stories, good luck finding a newspaper with coverage as complete as even Endgadget. Newspapers also rarely follow up stories or allow for user feedback except for some cherry picked editorials.

    In short, E-Readers aren't going to replace print media when it comes to literature and print is already dead for most people under 40 for news.
    • Re:Problems.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:46PM (#31381348) Journal

      The main problems with e-readers is A) books are expensive B) there are no libraries.

      You forgot DRM.

      • Yes, but DRM is going to go away much like with music. Perhaps even faster when people start adding programs to the E-readers, wouldn't it be nice to have a search feature that searches all public domain sites, the book stores, and torrents to find the best solution for you?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by maxume (22995)

        Actually, DRM enables e-book libraries. There are quite a few libraries actively loaning out e-books.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          So does no DRM. What's the point on putting an expiration on something that won't affect other people? It's not like physical books where there are finite copies on the shelves.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by maxume (22995)

            Simple: Gaining consent within the existing legal framework.

            • by causality (777677)

              Simple: Gaining consent within the existing legal framework.

              The problem with that is that building upon the existing legal framework amounts to an endorsement of that framework. It gives the illusion that the framework "works" and is not fundamentally broken whenever such products are successful in spite of it. It further entrenches something that really should be reformed.

              Besides, there's nothing under the current legal framework that would prevent the copyright holder from releasing a DRM-free electronic copy of a book to a library. They are free to do that

              • by maxume (22995)

                You honestly expect all libraries to either only offer drm free e-books or wait for copyright reform?

                (Also, I think you may be overestimating the costs of reproduction and underestimating the costs of production)

        • Re:Problems.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by maztuhblastah (745586) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @01:38PM (#31381682) Journal

          Actually, DRM enables e-book libraries. There are quite a few libraries actively loaning out e-books.

          And that, dear reader, is an excellent example of why our entire notion of copyright and intellectual property is horribly, horribly wrong.

          The *only*, I repeat: *only*, reason for a library to lend books was so that more than one person might access them over a period of time. Lending is a vestige of when information was inseparably bound to the media upon which it was printed; lending and late fees were necessitated by the scarcity of the good itself.

          We live in a different world now, one in which that scarcity is purely artificial. The purpose of public libraries -- to use public funds to provide public access to books and the like -- remains the same. Our notion of copyright, however, has shifted from that of an incentive to contribute towards a society's creative output to a sense of entitlement. At first, copyright functioned to reward those contributors with a limited-term grant of exclusive rights to their contribution. Those same contributors now view it as their god-given right to profit from said contribution in perpetuity. Worse still, this corruption of copyright's purpose has endangered the modern function of libraries by encouraging the use of restrictive technologies to enforce a limitation which has no reason to exist in the modern world, save to line the pockets of those responsible for said corruption.

          Please, I beseech you, do not think of DRM as an "enabler" of public libraries. Rather, see it for what it is: an artificial restriction on public resources designed to wrest control from the public, to limit access to societal contributions, and to discourage the distribution and dissemination of culture -- all in the name of maximizing profits for the select group of individuals responsible for manipulating the legal and public concepts of copyright.

    • by 1s44c (552956)

      B) there are no libraries. How many people actually -buy- all the books they read?

      I do. I thought everyone did.

      Without access to a university library the only option is a public library, in which case I wait a month and have a very long trip to get a copy of a book with every third word underlined and some pages ripped out. Most books are so cheap that buying a new one is worth it just to save the pain of having to deal with a library. The exception would be out of print or hard to find books.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        Hm, perhaps your library situation is different then mine, but with mine I have access to about ~20 different libraries across the region, and if one library doesn't have the book, one of the 19 may have it and will get it to you in about a day. And while it isn't the best stocked library (in their entire system they had 3 books about the Welsh Language) for simi-recent books (~2000-2008) you can get any book within a day or so.

        It also depends on what you are reading, for novels it is a lot easier to us
        • by Narpak (961733)
          I don't think I have used a library since high school. Currently I average about a dozen books bought each year, maybe a few more, some hardcover and some paperbacks. Most of my friends with an interest in literature average about the same.

          As for e-readers I would claim that the main problem right now is that it's still a new technology lacking proper refinement. I have no doubt that over the next couple of decades the readers themselves and the underlying tech, software and services will drastically im
          • My wife and I read about a book every few days, sometimes every other day. We buy pocketbook versions of books we know we will reread and hardcovers of books we know we will want to reference and which will be hard to find otherwise. I think we have around 1500 books in our apartment.

            We go the library every few days. We take out fiction, non-fiction, and a lot of DVDs. The local library system allows us to search for books and place holds online, they ship the books to whatever branch we want etc.

            I see DRM

      • Re:Problems.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by godrik (1287354) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @02:09PM (#31381866)

        So do I. I never use library for several reasons:

        -The books are ripped off, broken or people wrote on them.

        -Last time I checked the 3 libraries close to me, they had less than 30% of the book I have at home.

        -I think book is one of the cheapest entertainment. I read approximatively a page in 1 minute to 1.5 minutes (non native english speaker). The last 3 books I read are "halting state" by charles stross, 8 USD for 324 pages, "the dreaming void" by peter hamilton 9 USD for 600 pages and "the engines of god" by jack mcdevitt 8 USD for 418 pages. The price per hour are respectively 1.18 USD, 0.72 USD, 0.91 USD. This is approximatively 5 time cheaper than a movie at the cinema (just for me, not talking about my gf that join me for this 'boring science fiction' movie or if I join her to the latest 'same over again love story' ).

        -I can still lend them to friend or even give them as gift.

        -(Call this one luxury if you want) I like to have at home several books that I haven't read yet but that I will so that when I want to read a book, I can just pick the one that fit my mood NOW.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BarryJacobsen (526926)
      Regarding libraries - I think there's actually a fairly simple solution (though the publishers may dislike it):

      A library buys a digital copy of a book when someone requests it for the first time. They have a "check out" iPad application (and/or other application) that will log in a database that the book is checked out for 2 weeks, and not let that copy be checked out until that copy is either manually checked back in or it automatically expires after two weeks. When a book is attempted to be opened in
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxwell demon (590494)

      C) The readers themselves are expensive (but then, over time this will probably change)
      D) They are more easily damaged.
      E) Books never run out of battery.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      National or international news is best found online where you can see all sides of the story rather than the one or two expressed via print media.

      In my opinion, you get a much more balanced view of the world's news by reading all/most of a quality newspaper each day rather than hopping about between a dozen different web sites.
      Even if you're just skimming a lot of the articles, you get to see a much wider selection of news, not just the usual headline-grabbing stuff.

  • Dredge? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by srussia (884021) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:39PM (#31381312)
    From TFA: We’re losing the dredge of the publishing world: disposable books.

    Sounds like "dregs" I guess--if you talk like Sean Connery. I stopped reading right there. That's just a bit too much illiteracy for an article about books.
    • Seriously, the dredge are Tyrian mole-people, completely unrelated.

    • He's probably confused the verb "to dredge" with the noun "dregs". Give the chap a break, he's only a writer after all, not an editor. ;)

      you hear me slashdot editors? *shakes fist in rage* we expect perfection from editors. (I know, I know, I must be new here.)

  • Of all the recent discussions / ruminations on the apparently inevitable replacement of bound paper by ebooks I think this article is one of the more insightful.
    It is midway down in the article (around figures 7 and 8) where I think Craig really gets to the thrust of his argument. Few books (and no traditional novels that I am aware of) have attempted to break out of the "two page spread canvas" convention. The coming dawn of larger-format (and colour) "readers" of all sorts, however, will allow content c

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MollyB (162595)

      The problem I see with content creators using this new canvas is that it subtracts from the freedom of the reader's imagination. In other words, it replaces an idea (a story) with a specific representation of that idea, which is rather like having a book author at your side jabbing you periodically to see if you 'get' it.

      "Stop poking me, Mr. Dawkins! I'm just using 'Goddamit' as an interjection."

      • by maeka (518272)

        The problem I see with content creators using this new canvas is that it subtracts from the freedom of the reader's imagination. In other words, it replaces an idea (a story) with a specific representation of that idea,

        I see no reason at all to think that an ebook need be more rigid in its presentation than a paper one. Might some be published which do "force" the consumer in the manner you describe? Sure. Just don't confuse the ability with the inevitability. The cut-up techniques of Burroughs and Gysi

        • Indeed. For example, as one example of "definite" content he mentions a book which is written from the view of two people, where you have to flip the book to see the other view. Which is actually a quite crude way of switching viewpoints, but probably the best you could do with books. With an e-book reader you might be able to switch viewpoints at any paragraph. At the end of a paragraph there might be two buttons, one for each viewpoint, and depending on the button you press, you remain in the current view

      • by westlake (615356)

        The problem I see with content creators using this new canvas is that it subtracts from the freedom of the reader's imagination.

        Generations of readers have found value in Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, and hundreds of other greater and lessor known illustrators.

        Illustration enriches and enlarges your own visual imagination, your intellectual vocabulary, if you will.

         

      • The problem I see with content creators using this new canvas is that it subtracts from the freedom of the reader's imagination.

        I imagine a 1920's film maker complaining how sound might subtract from the freedom of the viewer's imagination.

        Sure, the world being represented has one less degree of freedom. But it still has so many that the reader's (or viewer's) imagination has a large enough "playground" to not run out of things to wonder about.

        I wouldn't worry. Yes, it's going to be different. No, it's not going to be worse. It won't make people stupid and illiterate, just like radio didn't, TV didn't, the internet didn't, rock

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zappepcs (820751)

      Well, there are a few other things that seem to fall out when you go to ebooks, diagrams and pictures can 'move' if you want. The book's language can change. If your eyes are tired, the book can read to you. The book can remember what page you last read. It can find related material regarding any of the characters, both fictional and real. It can find a map for you of the country the story is set in. The list gets longer if you want, and all things you can't get from a printed version. When people eventuall

  • Not yet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ClosedSource (238333) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:45PM (#31381342)

    If we get to the point where leaving your reader behind in a public place isn't any more likely to result in theft than leaving a book, readers will be well positioned to overtake printed books.

    I think that day is still far off.

    • The same thing could be said of any technology. Isn't your iPod more likely to be stolen then a CD player? Yet that really didn't slow down the adoption of digital music.
      • One difference is that you can leave the iPod in your pocket during usage, and furthermore usage required a physical connection between the device and your ears (earphones). Both reduces the probability of losing it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AndrewBC (1675992)
      I think it's even further off than that. It's unlikely to happen until everyone who comes across it already has one, and isn't just a prick. (There are lots of those...)

      It's more akin to leaving a bookshelf of all your books, and room for new books to be added as well, complete with a dolly for easy carrying by one person -- much more valuable than just one tattered eared paperback.
  • Mod makes the point...

    Well, what kind of point? Insightful? Funny? Interesting?

  • iPad's Killer App (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord Grey (463613) * on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:48PM (#31381360)

    Electronic books are probably one of the iPad's killer apps. Maybe not the ones we'll see immediately -- the ones basically just ported from the Kindle or something -- but the next generation of books, or the ones after that. Interacting with the book is where the technology will really shine. Think about A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (from The Diamond Age [barnesandnoble.com]).

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Fact: The original Kindle's codename was "Fiona" because of this book.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Textbooks. They must have diagrams and a lot of them also require colour.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      Think about A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer

      Interesting example in this context, given that, in The Diamond Age:

      • the Primer relied on human actors to provide the interaction (Outsourcing FTW!).
      • the Primer was designed to be a unique, one-off physical object, in a world where nanotech replicators were the norm.

      So, not your Kindle or iPad (unless Steve has some manufacturing problems he's not letting on about).

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Electronic books are probably one of the iPad's killer apps

      Isn't it a bit too big? I like being able to put a paperback in a reasonably sized jacket pocket.

  • by derGoldstein (1494129) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:49PM (#31381372) Homepage

    'They're books that embrace their physicality or have stood the test of time. They're the kinds of books the iPad can't displace because they're complete objects'

    A) Leave the iPad out of this. We're talking about consuming text which isn't printed on paper, and we've been doing that since even before the *gasp* kindle.
    B) Is this some kind of metaphysical crap? "they're complete objects"? WTF does that mean? I've been reading Descartes' Discourse on the Method [gutenberg.org] off the screen of a netbook. Does this mean that somehow the information that I've consumed isn't "real enough"? If I printed that out on paper, read it, and then burned the paper, would that have made the content "embrace its physicality"?

    Either I'm missing something, or this is a serious case of "get off my lawn".

    • Books that embrace their physicality is like a pop-up book, with flaps to open, wheels to turn, and tabs to pull. While I really don't see his point (how many people buy lots of pop-up books after their kid has turned 5?)

      Leave the iPad out of this. We're talking about consuming text which isn't printed on paper, and we've been doing that since even before the *gasp* kindle.

      Sure, but it is only after the Kindle that people have really started to read things traditionally done with print using a screen. Yes, most of us have been getting news online since we got our first AOL subscription, but how many of us have read novels until recently? And recent novels,

      • by derGoldstein (1494129) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @01:10PM (#31381512) Homepage
        I'm rereading TFA, and it's really even more out-there than I thought initially. I thought he was using the "unusual formats" as a metaphor for something, but does he literally mean books with fold-out charts and translucent overlays? Is the point that primitive? Has he not met the computer? Hasn't he ever seen an interactive presentation? I don't even have to go looking for anything specific, just go to HowStuffWorks [howstuffworks.com] and pick something. Many Wikipedia articles will do the same thing, except with animations and videos instead of Flash. Isn't this [wikipedia.org] better than a pop-up book?
        • by Zerth (26112)

          Preface: Ebooks are my preferred format these days, as otherwise my home wouldn't have any room left.

          He's also talking about books with odd materials or peculiar shapes that change how it is interacted with. Also, books that can be made into non-books like those with tear-out foldable cardstock airplanes and pre-colored origami.

          Stuff you can't do with an ebook, barring recreating them with some paper and a printer.

    • by jenik (1030872)
      Proper typography, book design, binding, nice paper, interesting format, etc. can make a book into a work of art. Unfortunately most books produced these days are anything but that. For a good example of great book design look at Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style or Edward Tufte's books. I doubt their electronic versions would be anywhere as beautiful.
      • For a good example of great book design look at Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style

        I just opened a page at random and looked for the first thing that digital publishing would make easier:
        Elements of Typography and Style, version 3.1, page 161, 8.3.2: "Choose page proportions suited for the content, size and ambitions of the publication".
        Note -- "ambitions of the publication". In a digital version, you have no bounds. You can choose to shape your pages according to the type and needs of the content. You can choose to have a certain page size and proportion for most of the book, and still

        • by jenik (1030872)

          You make some good points. Digital technology absolutely makes it easier to design books. No doubt about that. The problem with digital publishing is that (at the moment) you have limited control (even with pdf) over how the reader will see your 'book'.

          The format of a book, the font, binding and paper should ideally complement the content—that's pretty hard to do if you read all your books on one e-reader. Now, don't get me wrong, nice books have always been a niche product and will remain so. I have

    • B) Is this some kind of metaphysical crap? "they're complete objects"? WTF does that mean?

      I don't know why people are talking about pop-up books: all books are tangible. Your "copy" of a book is forever linked to a physical object that, as time passes, becomes different from all other instances of that book.

      Can you imagine someone paying $1m for a first edition [bbc.co.uk] of an ebook download? (that's just a recent, extreme example that happens to be a comic book - people cherish rare editions of books of all kinds, even when the content is widely available elsewhere).

      Imagine you were giving someone a

      • I don't know why people are talking about pop-up books: all books are tangible. Your "copy" of a book is forever linked to a physical object that, as time passes, becomes different from all other instances of that book.

        So what? What value has the content gained? Is the content in first edition of a book written 50 years ago different than the digital version I bought 5 minutes ago, apart from possibly having a few typos?

        Can you imagine someone paying $1m for a first edition of an ebook download?

        No. Why would I want to? Is reading from that one going to be more interesting/entertaining than reading a version that was scanned?
        We're not talking about art or vintage collectibles, we're talking about the value of the content. It doesn't change, it just becomes more convenient to move around and consu

        • by itsdapead (734413)

          So what? What value has the content gained?

          None - but the object has gained immense value. Its not all about content.

          No. Why would I want to? Is reading from that one going to be more interesting/entertaining than reading a version that was scanned?

          Didn't say you'd want to. Heck, I wouldn't want to pay that sort of money - but plenty of people do. Meanwhile, I have lots of books with personal sentimental value or memories attached which, even if they wouldn't fetch $1 at auction, I wouldn't want to give up.

          We're not talking about art or vintage collectibles.

          Yes we are - we're talking about the vintage collectibles of 10, 20, 30 years from now. Where will they come from?

          They'll have to adjust. Now we're talking about the worth of signatures, and that's an unrelated subject.

          No, we're talking about the worth of signatures on books whi

      • How will future authors cope at book signings?

        The same way actors and actresses do at conventions? They'll sign an 8x10 picture of themselves.

        • by itsdapead (734413)

          How will future authors cope at book signings?

          The same way actors and actresses do at conventions? They'll sign an 8x10 picture of themselves.

          So much for ugly people who want to write... :-)

    • Just answer with a “UNDEFINED_TERM_ERROR: In this context, this term is not defined.” ^^
      And follow up with a “INVALID_ARGUMENTS_ERROR: Your arguments are invalid, because they contain undefined terms.”

      It has nothing to do with lawn-related age. ;)

      Some people use perfectly cromulent words to elevate themselves above you. So they can act as if they were wiser and exclude you from the discussion. Or in short: So that it’s harder to tell them that they are talking stupid bullshit.

  • Sometimes content includes presentation, but not always content needs it. Most books in particular, as flow of words, of ideas, not of something physical, should be independent of presentation, so any way to transmit it, comfortably enogh for the receiver, should be equivalent, so either audio, reading in a cellphone, pdf, computer montior, printed book or wallscreen should be more or less the same.

    There are some special books that pushes the possibilities of that media, that does some trick with the mater
    • by Compholio (770966)

      Sometimes content includes presentation, but not always content needs it. Most books in particular, as flow of words, of ideas, not of something physical, should be independent of presentation, so any way to transmit it, comfortably enogh for the receiver, should be equivalent, so either audio, reading in a cellphone, pdf, computer montior, printed book or wallscreen should be more or less the same.

      I have two reasons I won't buy electronic books:

      • DRM, a solvable problem - if I can actually "own" my book a
      • by gmuslera (3436)
        Collecting? Then you are talking about presentation, not the actual content of those books. Could have all white pages inside for what matters

        At least for me, the main reason i keep book is because i could read them again later, or give to another person. In both cases should not matter presentation (unless the person i give it is not as comfortable as me with the particular media on which i have it, of course). While i could find them, don't matter so much how look my library.
  • iPad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @12:55PM (#31381406) Homepage Journal

    Do people get paid to throw Apple branding around like this? Are any of these issues in any way unique to, or only now forthcoming because of, Apple's late entry into the tablet computing market?

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      While it is a distinct possibility, I think it's more likely that it's just cult of Mac.

      That is, until Apple does it, it is irrelevant and unimportant. It's born of the fact that Apple is a major brand that commands control of what's "hip" and "cool" so anything they do is a hot topic that needs to be discussed at every opportunity [to prove how cool and with-the-times you are]. Ironically, this will usually involve talking about how great Apple's products are and how nothing like it existed before —

    • It's just SEO. Also, this article wouldn't have been slashdotted if it didn't heavily feature the iPad (or at the very least, it would have had a lower chance). The iPad is what people are looking to read about right now, so why not adjust the article you were writing (possibly with e-ink readers in mind) to include it -- surely you'll only attract more attention.
    • by godrik (1287354)

      but, but, it is from APPLE!!!!
      *faints*

    • Yes. It was the first product from Apple, that was so crappy, that not even the fanbois liked it. Let alone people who did’t have money to throw out of the window. ;)

      I realized that the way Apple marketing works, is very similar to trolling: The more you fight it, the more you mention it... and hence the more publicity/hype it will get. Especially since fanbois are so drowning everything else out right after it.
      You may hate it. But you have to admire its elegance.

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @01:03PM (#31381478)

    Although the format change is a big part of this, the real change afoot is the amount of effort it takes to publish something. In the past, with the exception of self-publishing, the only way to get your work out there was to pitch your idea to a book publisher, who would then decide what was and was not print-worthy. Today, I can go to blogspot.com, sign up for an account, and spout off about anything I want, making it accessible for the world to see.

    That means big changes for the publishing business. I'm actually not thrilled about paper books going away; it's not easy for me to read a sceen, even a Kindle screen, for hours on end. But the publishers and bookstores are really terrified. I could defintiely see Barnes and Noble or Borders turning into something like a coffeehouse/social club, marketing e-books and e-media, and still making money off of ancillary stuff. Problem is that you can't support thousands of places like that. Time, Random House, McGraw-Hill and all those guys in New York are probably shaking in their boots. Eventually, they're going to have to find a way to make money on something that's easy to disseminate and hard to resell. It's similar to the music industry...they've been on the same talent search --> contract --> album --> hit song(s) --> concert revenue --> album business cycle forever. Now publishing has to switch to something else from talent search --> contract --> book --> sales revenue --> book.

    It's also going to be extremely difficult to make a living writing material. I really love to write, but I know it's not a sustainable career. Those of us with the itch to write have had magazines to submit articles to, but even that might dry up. The worst change IMO is going to be journalism. Instead of a newspaper of record, we're going to have thousands of bloggers, all with their own agenda, Twittering and blogging all over the Web about current events. I really think investigative journalism is going to go downhill, which is bad. You need to pay reporters to go out and spend the time digging up actual facts, not posting opinions. That's how we get the conspiracy theorists sneaking into the mainstream with things like Obama's citizenship being questioned.

    • Journalism is another subject entirely -- the change there is already mid-way, and it's going to be a much more significant change than stand-alone books. I don't know if this has to be a change for the worse -- what newspaper/writer truly *doesn't* have an agenda? Things will/are becoming more chaotic, but it's a transition. Some will fare better than others.

      It may be more difficult making a living as a writer, but more people will do it, or at least try, which is a good thing. How many good writers hav
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      "The worst change IMO is going to be journalism."

      Journalism, newspapers and magazines are in for some lean years. Then we'll all realize that no, a million random bloggers on the Internet are not a replacement for a trained, professional journalist/writer.

      • by grcumb (781340)

        "The worst change IMO is going to be journalism."

        Journalism, newspapers and magazines are in for some lean years. Then we'll all realize that no, a million random bloggers on the Internet are not a replacement for a trained, professional journalist/writer.

        I agree completely with your first statement. Journalism is undergoing a radical transformation. 'Interesting Times' (pun intended) in the worst sense of the Chinese curse.

        Your conclusion, though, is too reductive. You're begging the question by implying that the only way to be a skilled journalist is to have training and to be a professional. History tells us otherwise. Many, if not most, of the stars of journalism never went near J-school and a substantial number of the ones who did the most to define jo

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          I didn't mean to imply that good journalists have to go to journalism school. All of the pioneering photojournalists you mentioned were trained - McCullen worked as a photographer's assistant, for example, and Capa worked as (or at being) both a photographer and writer before he did the work he's recognized for. You can be self trained, or trained through apprenticeship, or whatever, but I disagree with the idea that people dedicated to their art can be replaced by a mass of random dabblers.

          Professionalis

          • by grcumb (781340)

            You can be self trained, or trained through apprenticeship, or whatever, but I disagree with the idea that people dedicated to their art can be replaced by a mass of random dabblers.

            Of course you would, as would I. The examples I gave, though, were not 'random dabblers'; they were people who would go to any lengths to perfect their craft. This kind of person still exists today. And they are the ones I'm talking about.

            I chose the examples I did because they initially worked for very offbeat employers, and li

    • by Ostracus (1354233)

      "Although the format change is a big part of this, the real change afoot is the amount of effort it takes to publish something. In the past, with the exception of self-publishing, the only way to get your work out there was to pitch your idea to a book publisher, who would then decide what was and was not print-worthy. Today, I can go to blogspot.com, sign up for an account, and spout off about anything I want, making it accessible for the world to see."

      The only issue the publishing industry has to address

  • I love eBooks and readers a lot. I have over 100 books loaded onto my iPhone. But a paper book or journal doesn't go blank after a few hours reading. I want to read in a dark tent at night after 2 weeks backpacking in the Rockies.
    • by GUmeR (1689060)
      True. But on the other side copy/paste, find, links, and lets-google-this-phrase work kind of doggy with paper. Guess there are no perfect things on this world.
      • Copy/paste? With a printed book?
        I don't know what you tend to do with your books, but I usually just read them. :-)

    • by viralburn (606633)
      How about a usb solar charger ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by godrik (1287354)

      or perhaps, you should get a real e book reader instead of using a mobile phone to do that...

    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      Do you have "Dial M for Murder?"

  • by Giant Ape Skeleton (638834) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @01:13PM (#31381544) Homepage
    tl;dr ;-)
  • Print is dying. Digital is surging. Everyone is confused.

    Yeah. Everybody. Except everybody. ;)
    Really only publishers are confused.

    That’s all there is to say.

  • In the present age when resources are becoming scarce and we have to conserve more, I see the value of the electronic reader. I prefer reading in print to reading on a screen because I have the freedom to highlight and make notes in margins. But, seeing as trees are very important, it may be time to make the adjustment. I am sure the cost to operate say, a kindle, is far less than the cost to the environment to produce the paper, the ink to print, and the energy to run the presses. The trick to making t
  • Crowd: YES! Everyone is confused!

    Me: (raises hand) I'm not.

    Crowd: SSHHHH!

    'Definite,' in which layout and presentation play a role in conveying meaning.

    But... wait... I thought the CSS purists said we're supposed to separate layout and content and spew semantics all over the place?

  • And not the other (AT LEAST) 33 other, much better (IMHO) ebook readers!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_readers [wikipedia.org]

    I have the Astak EZReader Pocket Pro and the
    Ectaco JetBook Lite
    And I've been collecting ebooks from various sources in many formats for at least fifteen years.

  • I like reading a newspaper more than reading news online. I like reading paper books more than ebooks. To be honest, while I do read online news, I'd never really consider buying an e-reader, unless I was going on a hiking trip or something where I expected to read 3-4 books and didn't have the space to pack them.
  • Some primary characteristics of a book: it can loaned to a friend; it can be resold; it can be purchased second-hand; it can be purchased once by a library and read by many people; it has a useful life of at least twenty-five years (for the cheapest paperbacks) to well over a century (just about any hardbound). Although there are minor changes in e.g. typefaces, punctuation, and other stylistic elements, the format is stable enough for a century-old book to be easily read. If you are able to read a Macmilla

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

Working...