Will Your Children Inherit Your E-Books?
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Another article on the pros and cons of e-books:
My child will also inherit my buggy-whip, my slide rule, my T-square, my horse hair drafting brush, my bit brace and my yellowed, bound piles of cellulose and tiny-font ink.
I don't have e-books. And my parents joke that my inheritance will be their physical books, because that's probably what we spend the most money on. It's very interesting to be able to flip through the same books, in some cases, that my grandfather and even great-grandfather had in their personal libraries.
I expect I will give my e-reader or whatever it has morphed into, to my kids, and that they will have access to it, at least I hope so. But many of the books I buy for it are not the kind of books I hope to have my kids inherit - they are often politically topical books that will be dated very soon, or silly mysteries.
No e-books for Mr. Richard Russo. Nossir:
Re: The previous Russo article (#5)
There seems to be an underlying question (or accusation) associated with e-books and the devices associated with them: namely, that people who read on Kindles, Nooks, etc., aren't "serious" readers, that "serious" readers still prefer their books bound and printed, with pages that wrinkle and tear and dog-ear. "Serious" readers are smart, choosy, well-read, better educated. E-book people are dilettantes and posers.
It's these e-book people who are driving up sales of garbage like FIFTY SHADES and TWILIGHT, they're the ones downloading enormous amounts of crap and distorting the value of valueless books. They're undiscriminating, gadget-crazy, with enough disposable income to indulge themselves and their vacuous tastes. If it wasn't for THEM, the bestseller list wouldn't consist of bathroom reading and spanking fantasies. If it wasn't for THEM, we'd be finding more literature in our bookstores and less bottom feeding.
Anyone else picking up on this perception? And is there any truth to it?
Back when they were paperbacks rather than e-books the perception was the same.
Well, I heard that loud and clear, even if you didn't use the (sarcasm) tag...
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No sarcasm intended, Anna.
Honest, I wasn't aware that the PB format was disparaged to that extent. Cheap and trashy fiction for the masses, eh? Smut available to everyone.
Great parallel. Really.
Surprises me you weren't aware of past mass market paperback perceptions.
I will admit when I first got my nook I tried some free and cheap stuff to see if I would like e-reading. Since then I am more discriminating. My latest purchases were Canada by Richard Ford and Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Both writers of whom I own several 'real' books.
I grew up in pretty modest circumstances, working class and dern defensive about it, too. Paperbacks were the norm, hardcovers mostly seen in libraries.
What I like about the ereader is the amount of classic stuff you can get for practically nothing. But I do use it for light reading mostly, I have to admit. I still really prefer reading books with pages.
Shortly after Christmas this year, I helped my boss close up his used book store. A beautiful store. Nice selection of books, all in good shape, the owner was picky about the condition. The books were priced at 55% off, a little less than Half Price books. Needless to say, it broke my heart. Loved the store , the job and our regular customers.
The store was in business for six years, the first five showed a steady growth, the last year tanked....less than half the profits from the year before. We attributed this to two things, the economy and e-readers. The first section of the store to take a hit was the large print section, which makes sense, since readers can easily adjust the fonts on a Kindle or a Nook, the second and most important section that went completely dead, and I mean dead, no sales, was the romance section. Like it or not, the romance section was the bread and butter of the business....kept the store going. Of course we sold other titles, often sales were brisk but the romance section was "dependable". Romance readers were the first readers to change over to an e-reader....
At our closing out sale we sold books for a buck a book......interesting the order in which they sold. The History and Science section sold out first. Then the craft books and cookbooks. General fiction laged behind a bit but eventually cleaned out as well. We sold 27,000 books is 10 days. Three of us ! When we locked the doors the only books left in the store were the romance novels and the Sci-Fi paperbacks.
Personally, don't believe that hardcopy of books will every go away (bibliophiles have been around since parchment was invented) but I do think that the publication numbers will go down and the price will rise accordingly. The Kindle and the Nook are great for students or the elderly who can not get out, but I will hang on to my hardcopies and pass them on to my kids. I collect old childrens' books, not sure how they could ever duplicate the book on a screen.
Changing world....miss my job. There is absolutely nothing can compare to "hand selling" a book and the future for this is shrinking fast. We will have MORE to read but I'm not convinced that MORE is always better.
Hope I don't offend anyone but I read a lot...do a lot of research before I buy my books, not afraid to try something considered "outside of the box" and I find that the "Best Seller List" is somewhat sad. Sad because Nora Roberts can have two books on at the same time. She doesn't even write her own books anymore...pays others to do it and then tweeks it to make it her own.... Sad because the best seller list is so darn predictable, when someone like Russo, Irving or many other talented authors have worked hard to try to create a work of art. Romance and mystery series all have their place in the world of literature but I sometimes wonder why many readers don't move on.....I would be bored silly.
Oh and I forgot......My kids were going to inherit my VHS tapes. That ought to explain a lot ;>)
Yes, a sad post. I love used bookstores and am always sad when I hear one's gone out of business. Buying online isn't the same. The chance, the risk, the exploration, is all removed - you just type in what you're looking for, browse some "similar titles" and check out.
I scorn e-readers. I want my music on CD and my books on paper - else it is immaterial, there's no weight and wear. Any book I have read is given an instant history, a time and location individual to itself. A mass market Lovecraft volume by candlelight, Zorro read while barefoot outdoors, my copy of Just Kids starting to look a little worn from all the times I've thumbed through it, etc. I treasure the memories almost as much as the reading itself and it is left for the book to become its own memento.
I wouldn't trade that for an e-reader unless I needed adjustable type.
Simple thing is your children, in most cases, will not care a tinker for your books. They are children of the electronic age.
Thankfully, since giving my teenage children Kindles last Christmas, they are now reading more than they ever did.
I have over 5000 books on my shelves but since becoming a 'Kindler' two years ago they are just dust collectors now as far as I'm concerned.
The greatest thing about e-readers is that they have given me access to books and authors that I would never have come across any other way.
My children can read my e-book any time they wish--even whilst I am reading them if they use a different reader. Likewise, I read the e-books my children have acquired. Old books are pretty, but read Ship of Fools Canto #1
I am the first fole of all the hole nauy
To kepe the pompe, the helme and eke the sayle
For this is my mynde, this one pleasoure haue I
Of bokes to haue grete plenty and aparayle
I take no wysdome by them: nor yet auayole
Nor them perceyue nat: And then I them despyse
Thus I am a fole and them that sewe that guyse.
But yet I haue them in grete reuerence
And honoure sauying them from fylth and ordure
By often brusshyinge, and moche dylygence
Full goodly bound in pleasaunt couerture
Of domas, satyn or els of veluet pure
I kepe them sure ferying lyst they should be lost
For in them is the cunnynge wherein I me bost.
But if it fortune than any lernyd man
Within my house fall to disputacion
I drawe the curtyns to shewe my bokes then
That they of my cunnynge sholde make probacion ...
I beg to differ with you. My grandson's have Ipads and e-readers, yet one of the first things they ask for on a birthday or at Christmas is a book.
I agree with more material being available but as I said before, more isn't always better. Books went through an intensive vetting process for a reason. Will have to sift through a lot of junk to find the gem.
Back to :
Yes ! A thousand times over...yes ! I read "Up The Down Staircase" in high school. My maiden name and homeroom number are inside the cover. Have a couple of old paperbacks from the Good will Store. Bought those for 25 cents when I had little money to spare. Also a book I bought when my kids all chipped together for a gift card at a Walden Book Store. Was a luxury item at the time....a hard cover. Attended many Book Expo's and have signed copies of many novels and remember the discussions with the authors . And then there is the book I dropped in the bathtub :>( Tried to squish it back together. Still have it and remember exactly when it took a plunge. Books are my history and my kids may not care for MY history but some of my books are works of art and nothing on a computer can compare.
Nope. Can not get that experience from a screen. There is a reason that ink and paper are important and I don't think that reason will go away. Electronics may become more popular but books will endure, as will the love of them.
#19 I usually just lurk in here, but I have to come out and say my sons prefer books. My 10 year old is an avid reader and always prefers a hard copy to a reader, and he spends a lot of time looking on my shelves since he's pretty much allowed to read anything in the house. My five year old just likes big letters and pictures.
Yolana 22, I did say my teenage children. I can perfectly understand young children preferring paper books.
The above answer was rather flipant in light of how the e-reader is going to change the landscape of the publishing business....of course children like "paper" books better. They are tactile, mysterious and often beautifully illustratated. The question seems to me to be whether or not the big publishing houses will be able to produce childrens books at an affordable cost. It is almost certain that the big publishers will have to shrink their operations. I am not "for" or "against" the e-reader...to me it just IS. A product of our time. But I think we often see something new as the "greatest" and fail to realize what we are losing.
Then there is the cost issue. Amazon has had a rash of "One Star" ratings on some books due to the pricing of Kindle editions...another thing we don't tend to think about is cost. Technology has made things easier, faster, more convenient but NOT cheaper. We have more...but we pay for this. E-Books are not going to cost us less in the long run. Just as the cell phone isn't any cheaper than a land line.
Heck, I remember when we bought a television set, took it home and plugged it into the wall. End of story. Now buying a televison is just the start of monthly bills.
My 10 year old advanced reader also prefers paper books. He prefers video games to board games (chess excepted), and loves a gadget like nobody's business, but when it comes to books (and he reads at a young adult level, no pictures involved), even when it's on the kindle he asks for the paper copy.
I was stung by that Russo article. He's my favorite contemporary author and has, since day one, been the sole favorite listed on my LT profile; I've championed him to dozens of fellow readers. Yet nearly every book I read is an e-book because I've spent most of the past few years deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, so the only quality books I have are e-books that I've downloaded. I've read all of Russo's works and had been eagerly awaiting his next, but apparently I was waiting in vain.
You might think that military bases overseas have small book collections for borrowing, and for the larger bases you'd be right. However, those print books are almost exclusively trashy thrillers; perhaps those are the books that the resource manager likes, or that kind-hearted donors back home statistically assume we want because they top the best-seller lists, or that my predecessors brought with them and left here. The consequence is a curious inversion of the stereotype cited in #6; the only print books I encounter are schlock, while classics and literary fiction are encountered only on e-reader.
Seeing my favorite writer announce that he doesn't want me as a reader was therefore quite a blow, a bit like being served divorce papers. Alas, Mr. Russo, you'll have to try harder than that if you want to lose me as a fan.
You have a point. However in the BIG picture...we are going to see a change in the quality of our literature. Russo was published because he had talent....the e-reader is going to make it much easier to get stuff out there. Think of it this way....if you are getting mostly schlock, imagine how much schlock one is going to have to sift through on line. Russo has a name already....probably many of the authors you down load do as well.
I think that an e-reader is a great thing under some circumstances....as you pointed out. None the less, it is going to change things. Not sure we will know exactly how till it actually has changed. Kind of like the cell phone, nice, handy, business friendly but they have made many public places a pain in the rear as well. Have to listen to all kinds of stuff you really don't want or need to hear.
19: I'm a teenager, and I refuse to get a Kindle or other variety of e-reader. Physical copies all the way. Getting stuff online just takes the fun out of finding books in stores, finding room for them on your overflowing shelves, and flipping through a real ink-and-paper book.
On the mass market paperback debate, I love finding used paperback copies of classics and *some* sci-fi, fantasy, and historical fiction. Overall, though, I can't see paperbacks as being much more than crappy mass media because I've seen waaay too many trashy or pulp novels that, in paperback form, utterly outnumber more "snobbish" novels in bookstores and other venues.
Ah a bibliophile ! Over flowing shelves, hunting through book stores, flipping through ink and paper are all symptoms. Good for you ! The trashy or pulp novels keep the boat afloat. I kept some of my paperbacks from years back....in fact a couple of them are rubber banded together as the glue dries out. Valley of the Dolls, Peyton Place, Inside Daisy Clover, Twilight on the Floods to name a few. However some of my older smaller paperbacks are great pieces of literature, The Confessions of Nat Turner, The Doll Maker and a couple of them by Joyce Carol Oates. The newer bigger size of paperback was not around when I was younger. Not sure when they started publishing the bigger size. I belonged to a mail order book club called "Quality Paperback Books" and I believe that was the only place one could buy the bigger paperback at first.
27: I was once in the foreign service and embassies always had a book lending donation point where we could donate our old paperbacks and read ones we had not read before. When I was in Nigeria I remember finding out that the Marines (the guards for the embassy) had a bigger and better paperback collection than the embassy itself. Unfortunately it ran heavily to Tom Clancy et al, but there was enough good stuff that it was always worth a visit. I am glad that ereaders have made it better for our personnel stationed overseas, I well remember being without intelligent reading material and, in desperation, starting in on the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990. Kinda dry.
You're right about the decline in average quality, skewed downward by a large quantity of self-published material present on the e-book market but not in the print market. But averages don't really affect me: as long as quality e-books are available, it doesn't impede me that books I don't want to read are also available.
In a Library of Babel situation where books weren't searchable in any way, the growing amount of schlock would indeed harm me. Fortunately, I don't think we're headed toward that scenario. The tools I use to find books to read are the same, regardless of whether they're e-books or print books: book reviews, discussions with friends, awards, and so on. If anything, more tools are available for e-books, particularly the "readers who have downloaded X also downloaded A, B, and C," which has led me to quite a few discoveries.
As for availability, my situation is admittedly extreme, but all readers' access to print books is limited by factors outside their control: what libraries and bookstores choose to stock (based on popularity at least as much as on quality), how much space readers have in their homes, how many books they can transport each time they move, and so on. By contrast, access to e-books rests almost entirely under the readers' control: what they choose to download. The consequence should be a better match between what someone wants to read and what s/he can read; for a seeker of quality, the average quality of books read should increase.
The one thing that can guarantee a lack of quality e-books is if first-rate writers such as Russo boycott the medium. On the plus side, the same article said Stephen King refused to make his next book Joyland available as an e-book, so at least he's doing his part to reduce the percentage of e-books that are schlock. This is the only time I'll ever say this: thumbs down to Richard Russo, thumbs up to Stephen King.
"Stephen King refused to make his next book Joyland available as an e-book"
Pointless. An ebook version will available within hours on the DarkNet and it will cost King money. Not because of the lost sales to run-of-the-mill pirates as that will always happen but to his fans who are now committed to ereaders and need 'the fix' at all costs.
To Kill a Mockingbird has never been officially released as an ebook because Lee has refused permission however it's available all over the 'Net. The same goes for The Catcher in the Rye.
Authors buried their heads in the sand is not going to make ebooks go away. Ebooks on Amazon now outsell hardcovers.
I'm reading more and better books since getting an e-reader several years ago. I'd struggled to work through my print copies of War and Peace and The Brothers Karamazov and they ended up languishing on my shelves. Small print and heavy tomes to hold up while lying in bed made for an unpleasant reading experience. Once I got my e-reader, I finally finished both.
My 13-year-old says she prefers print books but she'll happily read an e-book if it's the only version available. Many times I've downloaded a library e-book for her on a Sunday evening or holiday when all our local libraries and bookstores are closed. I don't really care if my kids inherit my print books or e-books. If they inherit my love of reading, that's good enough for me.
I too rely on book reviews and friends' recommendations to find the books I want to read and am not worried about the amount of garbage out there on the Internet. (There is plenty of garbage in the stacks of my public library too.) The only thing that's changed in the past few years is that I now rely heavily on recommendations I get from LibraryThing.
#35 I hear you about the big ones, especially for fiction. I took one look at the game of thrones series in the store and promptly ordered the ebooks instead.
#34 I think most authors will offer as e-books, but there will always be the holdouts who are no more bothered by ebook pirating than they are by used book sales.
Don't really see the e-reader as a "for" or "against" issue so much as a matter of personal taste. What the e-reader is going to do is change publishing as we know it. HOW it is going to change we are merely guessing at.
I believe that there are two kinds of readers. One of them loves the stories for the stories sake only, the other loves the book. People who love stories will "share" their books, easily adapt to e-readers and probably fair better in the technology age. People who love the "book" are not so inclined to hand their books out, their books mean more than the story and they tend to buy books that are visually pleasing....odd formats, beautiful cover art....strange subject matter or degree of difficulting in finding the edition.
Totally different types of readers. Not a for or against proposition since the interests are not driven by the same emotion at all, other than a love of the written word.
Yes, I see your point, however, I was in the second category all my life until a year or so ago. I rarely lent books and if I did, made a note of it and gave strict instructions on the book's care and what I'd do if it got marked or damaged. I also made sure it was returned in a reasonable amount of time. Very few people asked to borrow my books. :)
After getting my first Kindle in January 2010, I gradually made the transition to your first category. A crease in a paperback spine or a dog-eared page no longer cause me sleepless nights which were more often than not relieved by buying another copy.
Well, the only answer to that may be "degrees of illness" ? You may have had a "touch" of the book thing while some of us suffer from a full blown case of it ?
Would actually go out and BUY a person a copy of the book they asked to burrow rather than give them my copy.
So be happy that it was easy for you to make the switch.....some of us have a long painful way to go ;>)
(Don't like reading off of a screen....is one of my problems. If something comes through on my computer and it is more than two pages in length, I will print it out to read it. )
@ 39 I don't like reading on a computer screen either despite working in IT since 1969 (of course, we didn't have screens then!) and always print things out too.
A Kindle screen is different though; it's not backlit and is very comfortable to read for long periods.
Julian Barnes says books will survive:
Your e-book is watching you:
(Another one from Gord)
Well, if ever I considered an e-reader, it would be while moving. My family moved yesterday. I was fine with packing and then loading/unloading all my books onto the truck, but I'm wimping out with the tediousness of unpacking and organizing and shelving everything...
>43 We should help each other move then, packing is ok, but I hate the actual moving of them. I love the unpacking and organizing part. My books are always the first thing to get unpacked and sorted through and put away and that is the one bit of moving I don't really mind.
> 42: Scary to think this is happening. Even scarier to think publishers and even authors are using this data to skew their books for marketing to lowest common denominator groups.
42: "We want you, Big Brother!"
Nope, I'll stick to paper.
"The writer writes alone and the reader reads alone and they are alone together." A.S. Byatt (if I'm quoting it right).
Ironically, by opening up the communication between writer and audience, the communication is destroyed. At least, that's how it looks from where I'm standing.
46: Byatt has that right. And I think that's critical to any kind of art.
46: "by opening up the communication between writer and audience, the communication is destroyed."
I think you're exactly right.
I lead three book groups and one of the most mentioned complaints by readers is the "ending of the book". Seems every reader wants their own ending.....Always tell them that it isn't "their" story. The story belongs to the story teller. I don't believe that most literary author's write stories to please an audience, of course it is nice when they do but I think good story tellers just need to tell their stories. When author's start mucking about trying to please everyone, we are going to lose something. Correct me if I am wrong but isn't part of the mystery of the book ? what is going to happen next and how is this all going to shake out in the end ? Reading is all about stretching the imagination, if authors start tailoring their books around the imagination of the reader, isn't that somehow stunting the growth of the reader ? If we are allowed to make our own directions and/or endings, what then is the fun of the story ?
This is probably an over reach but here we go with the control thing....the "all about me" society we find ourselves living in.
I don't want to create my own ending.....(won't be my own ending in the long run anyway....wink .....wink)....I want the author to tell me a story...want to wonder why he/she took the story where they did and how on earth they picked the ending they did. If I want to make up my own story, I would write it down and then read it back to myself.
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