Paper vs. Digital Books

Discuss products and their reviews in Genii.

Postby Matthew Field » 08/19/01 11:11 AM

Or Chris Wasshuber takes on all comers.

Having drifted from Jamy Swiss's review of the Annotated Slydini book, let's get this puppy organized.

E-books -- I hate 'em. I printed out all 1000+ pages of the Whaley Encysclpedic Dictionary of Magic, that's how much I hate 'em. And I'll probably print out the whole new Whaley Who's Who in Magic (you do know about this, don't you?), that's how much I hate 'em.

But they're coming, or some simulacrum thereof, maybe on e-paper, maybe not.

Chris is on the vanguard, along with Peter Duffie, Martin Lewis, Bart Whaley and others.

And you -- what do you think? Genii on a disc? Little Egypt Gazette in your mailbox?
Wassup here??

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Postby CHRIS » 08/19/01 02:04 PM

Matt,

thanx for opening a new topic on ebooks. You might want to consider moving the tail of the 'Slydini review' thread over here since it would belong here.

Coming to your question "Genii on a disc?". I would then definitely subscribe to Genii, which I am currently not doing. Actually, a while back I made Richard an offer in this direction. But he declined. I think he hates ebooks as much as you do.

I would like to have some opinions on the 'Linking Ring on CD'. The Michael Close review in Magic magazine wasn't that favorable. Some other opinions? Things which could have been done better? Things you like a big deal about it?

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Postby Guest » 08/19/01 05:07 PM

I subscribe to Genii, but I would pay an additional subscription fee to receive an enhanced version on CD (or other multi-media distribution). Many computer magazines and books come with a digital version of the edition, as well as, samples, examples, demos, and utilities on an additional CD. Other magazines have online versions of the magazines with additional multi-media content.

A case in point for the type of thing that can augment a digital copy of a book or magazine are the Harvey Rosenthal Movies (as mentioned in the General Forum ). A digital book can describe a move with text, illustrate it, animate it, show it from the audience view, and show the move from more revealing angles.

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Postby steve » 08/19/01 08:59 PM

It's all personal preference, isn't it? I personally would buy ebooks for reference, but I would not buy a new book as an ebook nor would I subscribe to Genii any longer if it was not a paper, in my mailbox, magazine. You see, ink cartridges are expensive. 35 bucks in many cases, and I have no intention of using $35 worth of cartridge for a $4 magazine. So, I'm not sure where all the savings mentioned on ebooks exists, except on the person selling the book. The end user could end up paying in supplies to print the thing, or pay for the electricy to spend 100's of hours over time, reading the book and referencing it. But, this is only my opinion. I'd buy them for reference, such as the many old books available, but if it's a new book, I wouldn't buy it. Can't take my ebook into the "reading room" with me :) (unless I buy a laptop)
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Postby CHRIS » 08/19/01 11:32 PM

Printing ebooks on your own printer isn't really the way to go. It can be a nice thing to print a few pages with a routine or a move on it to take with you to places where you do not want to take your laptop/PDA.

It is not really the price of printing it yourself. For example my Epson black ink cartridge costs just below $30 and lasts for 1200 pages. Take a typical 300 page book, add the cost for paper and you end up with ~$10 per book.

But it misses the whole point of ebooks if you print them out and don't use the electronic version. You loose all the major benefits (searching, tiny shelf space, ...). And I wonder what the print-out-guys do with ebooks which embed videos. How are they going to print them out?

I can see in a few years that some will use a personal-printing-on-demand setup when affordable printers come with book binding modules and the whole thing keeps further dropping in price. But my feeling is it will not be a mainstream thing.

A question for Matt and all the other ebook-haters. So you hate ebooks because you do not want to read on your computer - right? If this is the case I don't understand why you guys are online? You write and print long messages to this forum and most likely spend more time online with emails, surfing, a.s.o. Further, books and magazines these days are written and produced on a computer. Now you guys want to tell me you hate doing that? You should find a different occupation then.

I think you are not totally honest with this absolute 'hate for ebooks', otherwise you shouldn't be here online. Or what am I missing in my assessment?

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Postby Steve Hook » 08/20/01 02:25 AM

Chris:

No reply necessary because this is just my opinion and preference:

I want a hardcopy book with paper pages.

I make my living in the computer industry, so it's not that I'm resistant to new technology. I'm just not interested in reading at great length via a computer monitor.

There are still many people out there who will buy your product. Mine is just a single voice. But Richard, et al, please keep publishing hardcopies (softback is OK...)

Best wishes to all,

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Postby Matthew Field » 08/20/01 10:59 AM

Originally posted by Chris Wasshuber:
A question for Matt and all the other ebook-haters. So you hate ebooks because you do not want to read on your computer - right? If this is the case I don't understand why you guys are online? You write and print long messages to this forum and most likely spend more time online with emails, surfing, a.s.o. Further, books and magazines these days are written and produced on a computer. Now you guys want to tell me you hate doing that? You should find a different occupation then.

I think you are not totally honest with this absolute 'hate for ebooks', otherwise you shouldn't be here online. Or what am I missing in my assessment?


What you're missing in your assessment, Chris, is that being online is not my "occupation," as you call it. Actually, misinterpretation seems to be a rather large aspect of your posts.

We're talking, when referring to books, about reading material for serious comprehension, not spending a few minutes with banter, which is what I consider online stuff.

Many articles have been written about the fault with reading on a screen (in Wired magazine and elsewhere) and you can go back to McLuhan to see the difference between the screen and the printed page.

You've got an axe to grind, Chris, as your signature line continualy tells the world. There's no doubt in my mind that in 50 years we'll be absorbing information from some sort of e-media in greater proportion than we do now, but I'm equally sure that those media will be easier to use than a CRT, LCD screen or the other options presently available. Until then, books remain, for me, the medium that's most user friendly.

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[ August 20, 2001: Message edited by: Matthew Field ]
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Postby CHRIS » 08/20/01 01:01 PM

Matt,

I am just trying to understand your position better, which I have a hard time. But that may be because of different background and/or different world view.

[I would also like to know where you think I misinterpreted, beside your occupation thing.]

In order to address the hurdles you see in ebooks I really would like to find the core of your hate.

Let's say there would be a PDA that is of the same size as a book, would have the same weight, the screen would have laser print resolution (300dpi), and the batteries would last for one year reading. Would that make you read ebooks instead of printing them out? Or do you need the smell of paper and ink, the sound of page turning and the feel of paper? Or are just categorically always against ebooks no matter how they will evolve?

Chris.... Lybrary.com preserving magic one book at a time.

[ August 20, 2001: Message edited by: Chris Wasshuber ]

[ August 20, 2001: Message edited by: Chris Wasshuber ]
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Postby Jim Morton » 08/20/01 02:27 PM

I'm not a big fan of ebooks. Having worked in the printing industry for many years, I'm not even that big a fan of offset-printed books. I still get a thrill when I open an old letterpress edition! Some folks out there will understand this; most will not.

Nonetheless, there is a time and a place for ebooks. Eric Lewis's Personal Magic, for instance, would not have seen the light of day if not in ebook form. The extensive use of color made traditonal printing methods cost prohibitive. Ebooks also get points (if set-up for it) for the ability to search any word. How many times have you encountered an index that listed things in ways that made finding certain items even harder than simply paging through the book?

I agree with Matt that reading a two paragraph post in a newsgroup and reading the text of a book (or chapter of a book) are not the same thing. I have a few ebooks, and the only way I can comfortably deal with them is to print out the sections I want to read (I do this with the longer posts on the newsgroups as well).

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Postby Guest » 08/20/01 11:05 PM

Somehow this topic has devolved into a pitched battle between two absolutes. I certainly don't see the issue as a "one side or the other" choice. And neither do the paper companies: if you haven't noticed paper use is WAY up since the dawn of the digital age.
In my business (semiconductors) we enginurds get tons of technical material from an organization named the IEEE that publishes MANY periodicals. You get a monthly publication sent in the mail. You attend a "convention/trade show" and they give you several telephone book thick tomes filled with technically challenging material; text and graphics. But ALL this material is also available digitally either on CD or off the web in easily readable, searchable, printable PDF format. And you can use search engines to lookup 10-15 years of publications and then print them out off the web. And yes certain works, which must be taken as a whole, are still published in hardback format only (for now).

The other day I went to look up an item regarding e-books that was published in Genii sometime during the past 12 months or so. I had to look through every issue and I never really found the one item I was looking for. How much easier if I could have searched electronically (say from an online version of Genii?)and then printed out the relevant material. Yet I still want to get that glossy covered mag in the mail to read each month!
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Postby Bill Duncan » 08/20/01 11:30 PM

Hard to choose one format over the other. For the Books of Wonder or any of Eugene's books I want paper because I'm sitting and reading and that's something i enjoy like a good cup of coffee.

EText would be great for other books though, because a text to speech converter can read the text to you. Imagine how easy it would be to learn slight of hand if someone were reading the instructions to you and your hands could be free to follow...
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Postby Guest » 08/21/01 03:59 AM

I have given some thought to this recently while working on my book on the three card monte. It sure would be nice to have all the photos in color--they were taken that way-- and many of these photos could be linked to short videos of the various moves, or audio of the street hustlers in action, say, or of various lines of patter in the correct time with the moves.

I prefer the layout of books to that of video or even dvd, but the occasional short illustration with video or sound would be great.

I am not overly fond of reading from a computer screen, especially when dealing with a book such as mine that is over 150 pages, but I see that there will be better alternatives in the very near future, and a book sized ebook reader that can be taken to bed with you, does not need a light source, and can play video and sound without disturbing your bed partner--that would sell me.

In the couple of years since I have turned 50, I have begun to wish that all books could resize their typeface to suit my eyes. Ebooks have that real advantage.

In the more distant future, we may have books made of "electronic paper" that can reproduce photos and print on simulated paper, and change at the press of a button. There are already people working on this who predict that eventually a single hardbound book might contain a hundred different books in this fashion. Ah, brave new world!
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Postby Matthew Field » 08/21/01 09:15 AM

Originally posted by Chris Wasshuber:
Let's say there would be a PDA that is of the same size as a book, would have the same weight, the screen would have laser print resolution (300dpi), and the batteries would last for one year reading.



I'll take one!!!

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Postby CHRIS » 08/21/01 10:14 AM

Bill and Whit gave two very nice features of ebooks, the resizing of fonts and the automatic speech synthesis. Both are significant improvements to the interface.

The 300dpi screen will come very soon. Actually screens have been built with resolutions higher than 1200dpi which is equivalent to a very high quality print. (Currently a good PDA has ~100dpi and a good monitor has ~150dpi)

Products like e-ink and e-paper might hit the market in 2-3 years. Flexible screens from organic semiconductors are in the prototype stage.

Reading devices as well as reading software will continue to improve. So will the ebooks themselve. I am soon off to shoot the videos for an upcomming ebook which will be exactly as Whit mentioned in his last post. There will be short video clips for every move explained. So beside the text and illustrations there will also be a little video clip, perhaps from different angles, which will aid the studying and comprehension of the mechanics.

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Postby Jim Morton » 08/21/01 05:20 PM

Let's say there would be a PDA that is of the same size as a book, would have the same weight...


Make that less weight please. My back is killing me. :D

Seriously, I think you are right Chris that future PDAs and ebook readers will eliminate most of my problems with ebooks. I just don't think we're quite there yet. I do applaud your efforts to rethink the ebook on its own terms. Video clips, hyperlinks, color, and word searching and some of the things that ebooks have in their favor and it's nice to see someone exploring this new territory.

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Postby CHRIS » 08/21/01 11:45 PM

Jim,

thank you for your encouraging words. I will keep working and improving.

Make that less weight please. My back is killing me.

Aha - another possible benefit for ebooks. PDAs are typically lighter than the average magic hardcover. Depends mainly on the battery size.

Sometimes I get a little bit frustrated by the feedback I received here in the Genii forum. However, the responses I get from people who actually tried one of my ebooks is overwhelmingly positive. And that keeps me motivated to try to push forward.

But I have always an open ear for suggestions and constructive criticism.

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