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02/14/2010

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Jim

There are books and there are books just as there are readers and there are readers. Certainly the ebook phenomenon will cut into the sales of hardcover novels and lighter works but it would be very difficult for a serious learner or researcher to rely only on electronic media. Going backward and forward is very inefficient on an ereader as is reading and referencing more than one book at a time. I know that when I am pursuing a serious subject, the desk and the floor are covered with books. In addition, people who love books and learning love the tactile aspect of books. They nurture the mind and the soul and technology cannot replace that.

Robert Johnson

I don't think it's true that "Total music recordings are down considerably due to the competition from digital sales." Do you mean that sales of recorded music are down? Or that sales of CDs are down? I think that music continues to be recorded at an ever increasing rate as the cost of recording and editing falls thanks to digital technology.

I wonder how print media, whether on paper or digital, will fare against audio recordings of the same material, as mp3 players become increasingly ubiquitous. After all, for those of us who spend long hours driving each week recorded books and commentary are safer and easier to consume than print media.

Brian Davis, Austin, TX

I see the same MP3 parallel. The e-books supply chain will exploit the low-hanging revenue from "early adopters." Then the brands and the broadband carriers will collaborate to establish common technical "standards" for content delivery. Devices will become cheap commodity goods, certain to erode prices paid for the IP value of content. Who else's pocket is left to pick? The telcos? Forget it. They learned an expensive lesson in the era of dial-up Internet. They won't be giving their pipes away again. Creators and publishers of popular hardcopy content are sure to grow weaker. Professional, technical, and trade publications targeted to a core subscriber base will probably survive but the rate of industry consolidation will accelerate.

tamara

You cannot replace the touch of paper on your fingertips,how you can just carry it around with you. Books are here to stay and not everything needs to be digital and fast. There´s a placer in simple things and reading books is one of them besides the fact that this technology is now available doesn´t meand that the human body is ready to take it. I cannot read for long periods on my screen because my eyes hurt. I just dont thinks books will be eliminated because they are just fun and you can read the lines outloud when it gets good and what´s left of your imagination (if mtv hasnt eat all away) flies with the words.
I do, however, see an adjusting period for the publishing industry not of textbooks because thats just not practical but of novels, and past the time by books.
Also more junk literature is going to appear trying to make a profit out this new market; diet books, learn to love yourself and hug the world, my romantic and lusty life,dating books, etc.
But, no matter how much advertising people who read will continue to do it. I just cant imagine reading Hemingway on a kindle is just dumb.

Jaime L. Manzano

Kindle, and other recorded books, throw down the gauntlet to lovers of print. Once scanned, books will become available cheaply through the internet, even free! Coupled with programs that convert digitized words into sound, learning to read becomes unnecessary, overtaken by technology, so to speak.

The written word was invented to capture the sounds of speech. Now, one can bypass learning to read, and go directly to speech. Interestingly, along with being freed from learning to read, when coupled with another program, the digitized text can be translated into a preferred language.

The experience of the Gutenberg press is instructive. It made written material cheap and accessible to the literate. Control over knowledge was no longer restricted to those who had access to manuscrupts. Today, the barrier of literacy is breached further by providing direct access to voice, independent of literacy This may explain why alternative media, like radio, is supplanting newspapers.

Before, Everyman had to learn how to read, a prerequisite to becoming educated. No longer. A powerful paradigm shift has occurred Written history and thought is no longer the dominant preserver of, or vehicle for, knowledge and authority. Voice has returned to reclaim its role and challenges paper and ink for the time and attention of Everyman.

The new reality is that, armed with a nano-library, Everyman can learn without needing to read. Translation programs make the study of foreign languages marginally necessary. Everyman can choose and listen to the words of whomever he chooses. Voice content might even challenge the present dominance of popular music as a consumer staple on i-pods.

This change, and "creative destruction" is stealthy. Literacy loses. English diminishes as the lingua franca of commerce and technology. Literacy and languages lose their power and prominence, like Latin. Books will survive, of course, in the hearts and minds of the learned. Like manuscripts, they will enter the world of antiquarian collectors of first editions, who appreciate their craftsmanship, beauty and residual functionality.

Sort of like a Duesenberg.

tamara

I dont think that reading will become obselete. And we are selfishly talking about kindles, ipods and technology when we know is not available everywhere in the world. There are countrys or regions where ipods are not gonna improve the quality of life a little bit nothing but investment in education, roads, sanitary infraestructure will help this forgotten regions.

Prasanna

I beg to differ with Becker on his opinion that e-readers are less attractive for technical books. In my opinion, e-readers will find larger audience for technical books (proportionately speaking) because of two reasons. First of all, the needs of technical book readers that Becker mentions (such as need to go back and forth thorough the book, or need to search for specific "bookmarks") are much better addressed by e-readers. For example, I personally find it much easier to use PDF reader because I can create bookmarks, underline texts (and even remove them later when I find out that I did too much of underlining!) and search through the document much better than I can do on a printed copy. I think, it s for this reason alone that test books will find e-readers more attractive. Another reason is that most text books readers represent younger generation, who grew up reading online documents and are also more likely to embrace new technologies.

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Personally I agree with Tamara, being an avid reader myself, you cant replace the smell and texture of hold a book in your hand. However, when it comes to certain kinds of book for example reference book, textbooks etc, e-readers are perhaps a better option (esp when considering the weight of some textbooks!)

Wijnen

Yes, without any doubt e-readers are the beginning of the end for books. But I do also think that books in their current 'static' form might be disappearing. The current (and) future generations are used to a lot of interactivity and I think that e-readers will get more and more advanced and in time will offer lots of interactive elements that can add to the reading experience.

K.R.Srivarahan

There is one more aspect worthy of consideration. An e-book is read by the purchaser only whereas a paper book is normally read by others in addition to the purchaser.This is especially true of communities of modest means.Therefore, when turnover of e-books increases, the number of total books sold (e and paper editions) will go up. This is one reason why e-books will become cheaper.There could be a strange twist here.Instead of the e-books becoming less expensive, they might as well subsidise the paper edition.

Fisher

Just an FYI- you mentioned that most of the profits from digital music sales (presumably via iTunes) go to Apple. This isn't factually accurate. Apple has a 70/30 split with artists, meaning if a song is sold for $1- Apple only keeps $0.30 (although one can presume that such deals sway heavier in favor of bigger artists such as The Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews Band, etc. to where the split would likely be around an 85/15 split or similar). The remaining seventy cents goes to the record label to be distributed according to the contract terms with the artist.

However, the main difference between the music industry and books is that musicians make almost no money off of music sales (be it an actual CD sale or a digital sale) in the first place. The musician makes the lion's share of his money via touring. There is no such equivalent revenue source for authors.

Duffy

No one has brought up fair use?

Has anyone here tried to sell, trade or give an ebook? None of those activities are permitted with digital media under the Copyright Act of 1976; see duplication.

It is a pity laws cannot keep pace with technology.

Will

One particular advantage of e-book reading is the modified facilitation of syntopical reading. I'll often find myself hitting the electronic stacks at my library, and searching through digital versions of texts and journals in PDF form. Because these texts can be searched by keyword, I can get directly to (probably and hopefully) relevant content in a snap. This is a little better than hitting physical indicies and looking up certain words or subjects, in that if I am writing on "Rorty" I can not just look up the name "Rorty" in the index, but also do quick searches for keywords like "relativism" and "pragmatism", or other such keywords that might be tightly related to my topic, but not listed in an index.

However--and this is the 'but'--after I have sought out those digital passages, I then take the relevant page numbers and passages, hit the physical stacks at my library, and take out the hard copy editions. I can't read PDF's for more than 15 minutes without getting monitor-itis. Hard on the eyes.

$499 might be a reasonable deal for a good quality reader. I might use it for newspapers, which I'd love to eliminate from my mailbox altogether. The bestsellers, as you say, or vacation type reading, all seem to fit. I suspect, though, that to some degree, that once a person has become a book person, they will always be a book person. Even if I did migrate successfully to newspapers on an iPad type platform, even if my research is often making use of digital books, I know that one of my great pleasures is to sit with the Rubaiyat or whatever is ready to be pulled off my shelf at home. Perhaps they'll invent a iHearth or a myBookshelf someday.

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silvia n. pena

No one has mentioned what the weight of a hefty hardback does to hands suffering from the pain of old-age arthritis. I have been reading the great novelists of the 19tu century in English, French or Spanish all free from the Guttenberg Project. My Sony Reader has three levels of magnifying the print. As a book addict and owner of about 60,000 used-book inventory in my store I must say that I have more than satisfied my craving for the feel and smell of my favorite drugs. Unfortunately I fail to find the more contemporary academic books in digital form. So we, the idiots who still enjoy learning beyond a college textbook, will hope and pray that things beyond the Stephen kings of this world are not rejected by the publishing houses. t

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You cannot replace the touch of paper on your fingertips,how you can just carry it around with you. Books are here to stay and not everything needs to be digital and fast. There´s a placer in simple things and reading books is one of them besides the fact that this technology is now available doesn´t meand that the human body is ready to take it. I cannot read for long periods on my screen because my eyes hurt. I just dont thinks books will be eliminated because they are just fun and you can read the lines outloud when it gets good and what´s left of your imagination (if mtv hasnt eat all away) flies with the words.
I do, however, see an adjusting period for the publishing industry not of textbooks because thats just not practical but of novels, and past the time by books.
Also more junk literature is going to appear trying to make a profit out this new market; diet books, learn to love yourself and hug the world, my romantic and lusty life,dating books, etc.
But, no matter how much advertising people who read will continue to do it. I just cant imagine reading Hemingway on a kindle is just dumb.

teeshirt

I don't think e-reader means the end of paper book because we'll still prefer to read on a paper than on a lcd screen

Dan

So long as people are reading and our children are encouraged to read and enjoy the written word then surely that is what's important. Think of the savings on trees if we all read off a tablet (I haven't used one yet).

It is mentioned is that itunes destroyed the album, well the album is actually the body of work so itunes is giving a whole lot more choice than you would have found on the limited shelves of the local record store. Did CD kill Vinyl? The industry was in decline anyway and CD regenerated it to some extent with re-issues. New media can help rejuvenate old and push it forward and bring otherwise hard to get items to a wider audience.

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