Ebook Readers: Why Do They Always Fail?

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  • Reply 21 of 49
    giantgiant Posts: 6,041member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by @_@ Artman View Post


    I collect art books and photography books. Never in this century will Ebooks reach the quality of printed reproduction in that category.



    And there's not much reason for them to try. The main benefits electronic readers can provide are all related to convenience and accessibility.



    Considering how much reading consists of articles, online and off, the fact that electronic reader discussions are so exclusively focused on books illustrates the back asswards thinking book people have when it comes to contemporary reading and technology. Seriously, if book people were in complete control of technology we'd need to have rabbit ear antennas and dial tuners on our computers (complete with CRT laptop displays) to watch youtube videos.



    Reading is moving online. Books are more complicated, but book people are too shortsighted to understand how reading is evolving and how "books" fit into it all. The only people I've ever met who have any sort of reasonable ideas about it are tech people first and book people second.
  • Reply 22 of 49
    iposteriposter Posts: 1,560member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by giant View Post


    Considering how much reading consists of articles, online and off, the fact that electronic reader discussions are so exclusively focused on books illustrates the back asswards thinking book people have when it comes to contemporary reading and technology. Seriously, if book people were in complete control of technology we'd need to have rabbit ear antennas and dial tuners on our computers (complete with CRT laptop displays) to watch youtube videos.



    Reading is moving online. Books are more complicated, but book people are too shortsighted to understand how reading is evolving and how "books" fit into it all. The only people I've ever met who have any sort of reasonable ideas about it are tech people first and book people second.



    Hyperbole much?



    I'm an admitted tech geek, I use Windows, OS X and Linux, build my own PCs/gaming boxes, and have taken over 20 college courses in C++, Illustrator, A+/Network+, etc. (I was working on an IT degree, but the VA will no longer fund IT degrees due to the poor US job outlook, so now I'm going into medical imaging.)



    And incredibly, my family and I have a collection of a few hundred books!
  • Reply 23 of 49
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 709 View Post


    Is this a study of eReader technology in general and/or its viability in the real world or does an eBook Reader have some advantage over a simple laptop that I'm not seeing? I'm admittedly not up on the eBook phenomenon, so I'm genuinely curious. Myself, I just can't seem to read long, continuous pieces of written word on-screen. If a pdf gets over 20 pages I'll go ahead and print it out to read it. Yes, I'm that guy.



    I'm that guy, too.



    But this is a study, on my end, of the difference between the experiences of dealing with the texts in this digital way versus in an analog fashion.
  • Reply 24 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by 709 View Post


    ... I guess I still don't get the advantage over a laptop other than size. ...



    Well, battery life... if these things are half-way well designed, the battery life should way better than a laptop can provide. (A laptop with a 2+ hour battery life dies well before the end of a 6 hour flight ... an eBook reader should be able to last for the entire flight.



    That said, I recently finished reading "Shogun" again, and in paperback form, I never had to recharge it for the entire two weeks it took to read the 1000+ page book! And i think I recall dropping it a couple times... quite a durable piece of hardware!... and while not quite water-proof, I had no qualms about reading it while soaking in a bath!, etc, etc,...
  • Reply 25 of 49
    giantgiant Posts: 6,041member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPoster View Post


    Hyperbole much?



    No.

    Quote:

    I'm an admitted tech geek...



    Huh? I honestly have no idea what point you are trying to make with this and everything following it.
  • Reply 26 of 49
    icfireballicfireball Posts: 2,594member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPoster View Post


    Personally, I find that if I have to read more than a handful of completely text pages online, my eyes start to get fatigued much more quickly than reading printed text, even with a high quality (iMac) LCD.

    Just my .02 USD.



    Eye fatigue is a result of backlighting displays. eReaders uses a display technology that provides high contrast black and white displays without backlighting, thus eliminating eye strain. Perception of those not familiar with eReaders may still be that they cause eye strain, as you just demonstrated, so this might be a reason why they are not yet popular, but not a reason why they couldn't become popular.



    Here is why eReaders haven't succeeded yet:



    1) Who reads more than one, or maybe two, books at one time? Most people don't, unless your a student, but then you're talking about text books, and text books aren't available in digital form yet. The "everything-in-your-pocket" approach to music works because you might listen to 500 songs on a long road trip, but more important than volume of content, is the randomness of what you listen to with music.



    2) One of the nice things about a book as that you don't need anything else but the book. If you're on a plane, you can read during take off, for instance. If you're in the car and you forgot to charge your eReader, you're SOL. I bet you wish you had a regular book right then.



    3) No one really cares if that novel you're reading has a creased spine or a few bent pages. But I think people would care if their $400 eReader got dropped.



    4) Mechanics. People like to underline, notate, and browse through books. While possible with eReaders, it's a lot more cumbersome.



    5) Education and photocopying. Teachers can't photocopy eReaders can they? I know you could say that digital files could be easily printable, but they aren't, at least for now.
  • Reply 27 of 49
    shawnjshawnj Posts: 6,656member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by midwinter View Post


    I get most of my pleasure reading from Project Gutenberg and Manybooks.



    Nerd.



  • Reply 28 of 49
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ShawnJ View Post


    Nerd.







    HAHAHAHA! I like how you call me, a professional book nerd, a nerd on a forum devoted to rumors about upcoming technology from a technology company that makes up a tiny percentage of computer usage on the planet.
  • Reply 29 of 49
    I spend way too much timing working at a computer. I don't want to read at one. I like the "book experience"
  • Reply 30 of 49
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Flat Stanley View Post


    I spend way too much timing working at a computer. I don't want to read at one. I like the "book experience"



    I'm mostly interested in what, precisely, this "book experience" is.
  • Reply 31 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by midwinter View Post


    I'm mostly interested in what, precisely, this "book experience" is.



    It's hard to explain. It might be an age thing



    I also prefer to read professional journals in a paper form. I download the PDFs, print them out and read them in a coffee shop.
  • Reply 32 of 49
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Flat Stanley View Post


    It's hard to explain. It might be an age thing



    Perhaps, but I doubt it. Ebook readers seem to be failing across generations pretty much equally. People who read books seem to prefer the "book technology," not the digital recreation of that experience.
  • Reply 33 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by midwinter View Post


    Perhaps, but I doubt it. Ebook readers seem to be failing across generations pretty much equally. People who read books seem to prefer the "book technology," not the digital recreation of that experience.



    Maybe it is the feel and smell of the book. Maybe it is increasing the separation between work and leisure.
  • Reply 34 of 49
    midwintermidwinter Posts: 10,060member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Flat Stanley View Post


    Maybe it is the feel and smell of the book. Maybe it is increasing the separation between work and leisure.



    I was thinking the other day that ebook readers need to have a book smell.
  • Reply 35 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by midwinter View Post


    I was thinking the other day that ebook readers need to have a book smell.



    preferably the scent of a well-read book. The blend of sweat, coffee and pulp.
  • Reply 36 of 49
    iposteriposter Posts: 1,560member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by giant View Post


    No.



    Huh? I honestly have no idea what point you are trying to make with this and everything following it.



    That you were attempting to make a generalization that 'book people' are technophobic, and that technological awareness and book reading are mutually exclusive.



    Quote:

    Considering how much reading consists of articles, online and off, the fact that electronic reader discussions are so exclusively focused on books illustrates the back asswards thinking book people have when it comes to contemporary reading and technology. Seriously, if book people were in complete control of technology we'd need to have rabbit ear antennas and dial tuners on our computers (complete with CRT laptop displays) to watch youtube videos.



    I also second what FlatStanley said.
  • Reply 37 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post


    As iPoster said, eye fatigue.

    Even the most expensive displays can't come close to the contrast ratio of ink on paper. Reading from a screen is more tiring and much slower than a book.



    There also are people in the world who have trouble with books because of the small print. I can last much longer in front of a blown-up PDF, but that's a personal vignette. Eink has contrast that matches traditional ink printing, so the contrast argument is not a good one. That's not to say that I don't agree with you that ebooks aren't ready yet for the general market.
  • Reply 38 of 49
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    For me it has something to do with the way the narrative topography maps onto the physicality of the book.



    As you move through a novel, there is a constant sense of "where you are", respective of the entire arc of the thing. The accumulation of pages on the left, the erosion of pages on the right. If you choose to flip back or forward, that, too, is a gesture within "the thingness" of the book.



    In my experience of a novel, that literal marker of position within the book is inseparable from the feel of the movement of the narrative.



    I'm also reminded of the essay you recommended, some time ago, by Nicholson Baker on the passing of card catalogues.



    Attempting to translate the experience of a novel into an information retrieval system seems to me to engender some of the same kind of impoverishment Baker was describing. That we lose, for instance, the opportunities for serendipitous association and insight that come with thumbing through pages-- pages that likely bear the marks of use and some of the history of our (or others) encounter with the text. Dog eared pages, marginalia, coffee rings, ad hoc book marks, a spine that wants to open to that particular chapter.......



    The part of ourselves that co-create the books we read want heft and imperfection and mutability as necessary friction for our senses, a way of engaging with our bodies as well as our minds, is what I think. Reading a novel on an electronic screen is like trying to paint on formica- what's called for is something with some tooth to take the paint. Something for imaginations to soak into.
  • Reply 39 of 49
    709709 Posts: 2,016member
    ^ This is one of the reasons I check in on AI's AO. Just gorgeous, truly.
  • Reply 40 of 49
    giantgiant Posts: 6,041member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPoster View Post


    That you were attempting to make a generalization that 'book people' are technophobic, and that technological awareness and book reading are mutually exclusive.



    Maybe your misunderstanding of my statements is the lack of context. Most of my career has consisted of working in major academic libraries dealing with the issues of moving a previously print-based world online. Large portions of my work life have been dominated by the whole roller coaster of attitudes the print-loving world has had toward technology over time, and an easy summary is that on the whole, it's been excessively reactionary and emotional, switching back and forth between irrational scorn and irrational exuberance.



    The fact is that print-lovers (both consumers and those working in print industries) pretty consistently misunderstand how technology affects their beloved medium. I have years of examples. Do you know what the biggest tech development academic librarians were talking about on that blahgs and at their conferences last winter? Second Life. No fucking joke. The book people at the world's top universities believed that a hyped-up, porn-filled MMO trendy waste of time was the most significant development in technology that could be applied to scholarly text.



    Look at any individual working with print and technology and you'll see the pattern I describe. Most print-lovers, even those who have become developers, can't wrap their brains around how technology interacts with text. On the other hand, people who love technology first and print second tend to have a much more holistic and rational understanding of what's happening.



    Print-lovers also tend to be tremendously near-sighted. Novel readers tend only think about how technology impacts reading fiction. Article readers tend to only think about how it impacts their articles. The whole way that people even conceptualize "ebook readers" is ridiculously archaic.



    There are a handful of individuals, organizations and companies actually doing interesting things, but the print world is still basically playing catch-up. Innovation is pretty much actively discouraged. Publishers actively discourage innovation because they are terrified of technology, and libraries actively discourage innovation because they are still run by people who don't get it and are just followers. Most of the big developments come out of tech companies, some of which are doing interesting things, like google, while others, like amazon, are dependent on maintaining the status quo, albeit with some bling.



    The fact is that books are a "thing." Novels in particular. I honestly believe on of the biggest obstacles is a pervasive emotional attachment to "Book" that makes people impulsively defend the format. You see it with people in publishing, you see it with people in libraries and you can even see it in statements in this thread.



    Print industries have always struggled trying to understand technology and tend to try fitting in without actually changing. That's basically what we are seeing with "ebook" readers. No one knows what to make of them because no one has a good idea yet about what role such a device is supposed to fill and what problems it can solve. Yeah, the devices suck, but that's just one highly visible symptom of the overarching problem.
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