Your View: ebooks or printed books?

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Steve Bryant
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Steve Bryant » August 5th, 2014, 1:16 pm

I vote for books, even though I love having favorites available on my iPad. For the present, John LeBlanc's idea of buying a hardback and getting a free digital version is the ideal. The last music CD and the last season of True Blood that I bought came that way. Very nice. Long term, we just can't trust technology to stand still and therefore don't want to invest too heavily in content that may be unaccessible in the future. "Own it forever" only works with books.

Searching, as RK says, is a really cool advantage to digital. Outside magic, I love using Google books to search for words or lines in texts. For research I wish they had digitals of the magic books as well.

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Tom Frame » August 5th, 2014, 1:24 pm

I only buy printed books. The ebooks that I own were given to me as gifts from author friends, or sent to me for review. I won't pay for one.

And I detest downloads and one-trick DVDs. They constitute little more than a symptom of the "creator's" laziness, cheapness or illiteracy.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby mrgoat » August 5th, 2014, 3:36 pm

Steve Bryant wrote:For research I wish they had digitals of the magic books as well.


If only there was a searchable database of books...I wonder if some dedicated German magician could take on such a task?

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby erdnasephile » August 5th, 2014, 6:41 pm

I will weigh in on this zombie thread.

I much prefer printed books. When possible, I like to learn magic in a nice easy chair with a book, a deck of cards, and a close-up pad--free from the modern conveniences and the electronic noise that permeate my everyday life. I find it relaxing.

That said, I still maintain that the best ebook I've ever read is Michael Close's "Closely Guarded Secrets" because with it's embedded videos, I think it is one of the few ebooks that fully takes advantage of the medium. It isn't just the existence of the videos that make this book such an effective teaching tool, but rather the incredibly thoughtful way they were laid out and applied by Michael and Lisa. The high level of technical and magic chops this project encompasses isn't likely to be replicated easily.

I am looking forward to the next generation of ebooks, where one will hopefully be able to not only view illustrations that move, but also possess the ability to rotate the point of view of the media in three dimensions, as well as zooming in and out in high definition with resizing capabilities. I would also like the ability to make parts of the video transparent when they obstruct what I wish to see.

A feature that allows you to film your own hands and view it alongside the expert video execution of the sleight would be cool as well. (We old timers call that a mirror and a mentor :D )

If/when that kind of tech becomes available, the only thing missing would be the rap on my knuckles when I do a sleight wrong. Then again, I'm sure there will be an app for that too.

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby lybrary » August 5th, 2014, 9:57 pm

When I started offering ebooks to the magic community almost 15 years ago I made a prediction. I wrote: "In one generation's time (meaning 30 years) ebooks will have surpassed books. With surpassed I mean economically more important as in generate more revenue or profit than printed books."

Half way into my prediction I have nothing to modify. I am convinced that in another 15 years publishers will primarily worry about the digital formats, because they will make them the bulk of their profit, and they will print books as an add-on for those who want them and who are willing to pay more for them. Most of that printing will be done POD.

If you look at the economics of book versus ebook it is an inevitable conclusion. Ebooks win.

As to what is better really depends on the use case and established habits. But if you deal a lot with non-fiction books, if you like to have a research library, if you like to look things up, etc., then ebooks and their searchability cannot be beat. Searching is the killer app for ebooks. It is simply not possible with printed books. The amount of information and knowledge accessible to you via searching is orders of magnitudes greater than even reading a lifetime. Probably the second biggest advantage of ebooks is portability. I still 'fondly' remember the days when my travel bag was filled with half a dozen books. Today all I have is an iPad or an even smaller Google Nexus tablet and I can have 100 times more ebooks with me. And should I really run out of reading material I can buy and download almost anything available today.

We have become an on-demand society. We have been trained to expect to have access to anything at anytime. Ebooks and other digital media fulfill that expectation. You can be anywhere, in your favorite chair, in the smallest room of the house, in bed, on the sofa, on the floor, in the park, on the train, in the car, ... and read on a tablet just as comfortably as with a printed book in your hands. Actually in many cases it is more comfortably because a tablet is typically lighter than the average books I tend to read.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Brad Henderson » August 5th, 2014, 10:49 pm

comfort is subjective. I find it very uncomfortable to read on a screen. And studies show that retention from Ebooks suffer ostensibly because those who process information visually and perhaps even kinesthetically lose key date points such as the position of the information within the text. Plus I have seen studies that suggest the tactile sensation of progressing through a book also aids retention and comprehension as it provides a sense of location and direction

I have printed out every Ebook I have ever tried to read.

I can't imagine ever reading a book on a screen.

I'm ok with that.

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 6th, 2014, 1:37 am

I am a book guy.

But after 18 years in magic - I find not much in magic really grabs me these days.

As such - I quite like being able to scan through an ebook and being able to quickly find what jumps out at me. And then I can print it off for longer term study.

For an experienced reader - that gives me the best of both worlds.

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby MManchester » August 6th, 2014, 12:09 pm

I am convinced that in another 15 years publishers will primarily worry about the digital formats, because they will make them the bulk of their profit, and they will print books as an add-on for those who want them and who are willing to pay more for them.


But there were a number of articles last year that discussed a "decline in ebook sales growth, a trend that started in 2012 and seems to be continuing" into 2013. For example:

Ebook Sales Are Flattening Out: Are Tablets to Blame?
http://publishingperspectives.com/2013/08/ebook-sales-are-flattening-out-are-tablets-to-blame/

eBook sales flatten out as study shows readers want more freedom to share their books
http://www.talkingnewmedia.com/2013/11/05/ebook-sales-flatten-out-as-study-shows-readers-want-more-freedom-to-share-their-books/

I think a reader's comment made the best point:

Flattening out, growth slowing as the ebook market matures or reaches a saturation point, that was bound to happen. Tremendous sales growth before was when it was new and few people had ereaders or ebooks. It was the next, shiny new thing and everyone was jumping on the bandwagon to see what it was about. But as we all know, the lustre comes off at some point and people move onto the next shiny, new thing. Oh, yes, there will still be the die hard readers, some of whom have moved over to ebooks entirely. Some will still prefer print, and some will straddle the fence and do both.


The research advantage of e-books can't be disputed, but I much prefer physical books for the reasons Brad has mentioned as have others. Magazines are a different matter though. The iGenii app for the iPad offers an incredibly immersive experience for an article's content and keeps getting better. The ability to add video, audio and links is extraordinary. I think the physical magazine pales in comparison except for those who don't need a tablet and don't want to buy one just for this purpose.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Gordon Meyer » August 6th, 2014, 3:21 pm

It is difficult to generalize from the broader "printed books" market to our tiny niche. Overall, it seems that book reading (in any format) among adults is depressingly low. But when it comes to magic books, the picture might be quite different.

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby lybrary » August 6th, 2014, 5:24 pm

Gordon makes a good point. The magic market is unique and it will not necessarily follow the same trends we see in the general publishing industry.

Let me say a few words to the notion that 'ebook sales growth has flattened'. It is completely normal that growth rates go through ups and downs. When the Kindle was introduced growth was beyond anybodies wildest dreams. It is therefore completely normal that we have now maybe 2-3 years of slow or no growth. On average over the last 10 years growth is still large. But to assume that ebooks are a fad and that customers will move to the next best thing or move back to print exclusively is a gross misunderstanding of the market and its economics in my opinion.

When I look at kids today, my own and others I observe, I don't see them holding printed matter. I see them with iPads, tablets, and smart phones. In another 15 years these kids and teenagers will be adults. My money is on them buying digital media, however it is packaged and presented, and not print.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby lybrary » August 6th, 2014, 5:28 pm

MManchester wrote:The research advantage of e-books can't be disputed, but I much prefer physical books for the reasons Brad has mentioned as have others. Magazines are a different matter though. The iGenii app for the iPad offers an incredibly immersive experience for an article's content and keeps getting better. The ability to add video, audio and links is extraordinary. I think the physical magazine pales in comparison except for those who don't need a tablet and don't want to buy one just for this purpose.


Take a look at the recent ebook releases by David Walsh, or the earlier Works ebooks by Ian Kendall and Michael Close, or the even earlier Card College I released. They all have embedded multimedia. I think we will see more of that.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 6th, 2014, 6:01 pm

My daughter reads both printed books and digital books and moves seamlessly between them.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Ian Kendall » August 6th, 2014, 6:47 pm

Embedding multimedia is not difficult, but it does require an extra step, and extra investment. While pretty much anyone can type something up in word and export it to PDF, if you want to embed video you need to be running Acrobat (or possibly InDesign). These cost extra, and I'm not convinced that the average bedroom typist would stump up the license fee (assuming they are not running warez in the first place, natch).

While everyone who reads will prefer the feel of paper, the benefits to e-publishing far outnumber the loss of a tactile experience (if mainly for the publisher). The end user pluses have been discussed ad nauseam, but for producers of content - especially cottage industry ones - the lack of physical stock is a huge incentive. There's no initial outlay for printing, no need to estimate a print run size and no pallets of unsold books in the back room. The ability to add video is a very happy bonus.

For me, as a customer, I like the immediacy of delivery. I have a frightening number of ebooks that I have bought over the years. The good ones get compiled into volumes and printed through Lulu so I still get the paper feel.

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby cardmaster » August 9th, 2014, 6:18 am


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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Yves Tourigny » August 9th, 2014, 1:23 pm

Even though I have now quite a few e-books, some are very good with good materials, I much, much preferred to read a real book, and the book is what i buy if both are available. So Richard go for books all the way.

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Leonard Hevia » August 9th, 2014, 4:51 pm

That was a great link Cardmaster on e-books and its relation to the publishing industry. Thank you for posting it. You haven't been here on the Forum for very long but your few other posts are well written and informative. Whoever you are, I salute you.

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby rpmagicshop » August 16th, 2014, 10:44 am

I enjoy a printed book over a e-book any day,
the e-books are hard to study as you need a computer or I-pad which is harder on your eyes.
Give me a hard cover book any day , much easier to read and learn from in my opinion.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 16th, 2014, 11:29 am

I just read somewhere, think it was The New Yorker, how disgusted the executor of George Orwell's estate was with the way that Amazon had completely twisted Orwell's intent in their letter and felt it was like old Russian propaganda. I agree.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby McKitterick » August 17th, 2014, 4:53 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:I just read somewhere, ...


Perhaps @ http://nyti.ms/1sHB531

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby atkinsod » August 18th, 2014, 10:16 am

I prefer real books to e-books, but I'm actually going the opposite direction. My children didn't pick up my interest in magic tricks, so the many books that I had been saving for them are now just sitting on a shelf, where they are subject to decay. I think it is better they get into the hands of those who will use them.

I have thoughts of keeping some for the potential grandchildren - but will they want to open a book or prefer an online video or e-book? So I will keep some, but I'm going to get rid of most of my physical books.

I created the magic table of contents section at magicref.tripod.com just so that we could have an index of all the magic books out there. While certainly indexing the complete text of every magic book would be better, there are copyright issues involved there. The work at Lybrary.com and the Conjuring Arts Research Center have some good advances in this area.

Certainly my project will never be complete, and hopefully will simply be overcome by more advanced full-book indexing, but for now it does seem to fill a gap. I only wish I had more time to devote to it!

As with other opinions here, e-books feel dry and I don't like that it is more difficult to flip back and forth between two bookmarked pages, but overall they take up much less space (even with backups!). Tablets have certainly helped the situation from what it was in 2003 when this thread first started!

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 18th, 2014, 1:31 pm

I can assure you, with a reasonable amount of certainty, that your grandchildren will probably have little interest in a big pile of old books. They'll want it all neat and clean on their little machine.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Chris Aguilar » August 18th, 2014, 3:10 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:I can assure you, with a reasonable amount of certainty, that your grandchildren will probably have little interest in a big pile of old books. They'll want it all neat and clean on their little machine.

A while back you posted that you intended to release some of your books in e-book format. Is that still the plan? If so, which books?

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 18th, 2014, 8:38 pm

Any time that I might have had to devote to getting my books redone as ebooks has been taken up by Genii, the Tenyo book, various other projects (even a little bit of Mr. Jennings Takes It Easy), Cliff Green's book, and working on the Genii convention.

I suppose the point is that it's far more interesting for me to produce new books than spend time on old books, even if it means not making some money.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby fred kirchner » August 19th, 2014, 8:09 am

good old fashioned books are still the best kaufman&co. are my favorite...i still have the houdini books and after 20 something years still mint

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Ted M » August 19th, 2014, 11:32 pm

Digital media is simply not nearly so robust as print on paper. Factory-pressed CDs are already failing earlier than expected. Surprise!

http://io9.com/the-lifespan-of-a-cd-is- ... 909743/all

Books need not be periodically transferred to other media, nor updated to new formats as players/readers become obsolete. Simply kept dry, in a couple hundred years they'll still be readable -- just with your eyes. No need for any extra equipment that may or may not understand their format.

Cloud storage, you say? Cloud storage is lovely until your cloud storage provider suddenly goes out of business without warning. Poof. (Heck, I look forward to Revizzit's demise.)

The searchability of ebooks is fantastic, and I embrace them as a massively useful supplement to real books.

But digital media files are perched atop a rickety scaffold of technology and business. I use them, but I do recognize the fragility and impermanence of that infrastructure, and I am wary of it.

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 20th, 2014, 1:11 am

Here's the full text of that article. But we're not talking about putting ebooks on CDs, or at least I'm not. Everything has to be digitized onto hard drives, and with multiple backups. That's what I do with my stuff.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Leonard Hevia » August 20th, 2014, 2:13 am

Here is the full text of the article:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconside ... ot-forever

The Comments section is the best part. A few commentators noted that the article does not differentiate between factory pressed CDs and burned CDs. One commentator mentioned "Factory pressed (molded) CDs are made up of tiny pits and lands that the laser reads. Burned CDs replicate this by using dye--and this dye is very sensitive to temperature. Factory pressed CDs do NOT have the same sensitivity!"

I agree with Ted that kept dry and in relatively climate controlled environments, books can survive 200 years, and way beyond that. Journals like the Phoenix and the Sphinx have been transferred to CD, so it appears that this shift also has a limited shelf life.

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Gordon Meyer » August 20th, 2014, 10:27 am

It's not entirely about having backups, it's the format the bits themselves. Although PDF seems ubiquitous now, 100 years from now it will an unreadable blob of 1s and 0s. (You can experience this already, try to open a WordStar file, or even a 1996 "interactive" PDF. They can barely be read.)

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 20th, 2014, 11:47 am

Yes, there is a big difference between "pressed" and "burned" CDs and DVDs.

For example, instead of cheaping out on The Skinner Tapes and burning the CDs and DVDs in small batches, I spent the money to do "pressed" CDs and DVDs, even though it meant doing a large quantity upfront.

"Burned" DVDs are easy to spot: they're purple on the back, and it's this purple dye that's affected by temperature and other factors. I don't know how to spot "burned" CDs--there is no visible dye color on the back of these discs.

I should mention that for purposes of safety, I also print out everything and keep paper versions on file, which can be scanned later if necessary.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby atkinsod » August 20th, 2014, 1:08 pm

It's all a challenge. Physical books take up a LOT of room, and are thus sometimes relegated to boxes and bins in attics and basements, where they then get moldy or dried out. Or kids find them and draw nice little pictures on them and have fun tearing pages. I have some manuscripts in my collection that are almost impossible to read as they ink has faded (an uncommon mimeographed lecture notes, for example).

But the digital world has its challenges as well. CDs, as mentioned, don't last forever, and even a DVD only holds 4.7Gigs or so, which isn't that much for well scanned archives.

My primary plan is to keep multiple digital backups. I have some magic articles on my drive that date back to 1998, so almost 14 years old. Certainly far from hundreds, though!

Also, Gordon's point is a good one. PDFs may need to be converted to some other format in the future so they can continue to be read, and sadly PDF took over rather than a more open source format like XML. While PDF can be exported to other formats with the professional Adobe tools, certain features and formatting is sometimes lost.

Doug

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 20th, 2014, 2:14 pm

I went to the local Barnes & Noble to look for current fiction - opened a book and saw a little almost transparent critter running around the page. No it was not a floater but a critter. Then recalled stories about items disintegrating inside museum drawers.

There's nothing like a book. And if you're searching ... there's nothing like searchable electronic media.

Just about done with a research project on "Clarke's Third Law" that required all three editions the book "Profiles of the Future". Hardcovers. Post-its stuck to pages... And in that process the layout, page finish and even the typeface became more noticeable.

Perhaps it comes down to abracadabra or hocuspocus, the words or the artifact.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Leonard Hevia » August 20th, 2014, 3:31 pm

I've seen those really tiny critters inside books. What the heck are they?

We speak as if our human lifespans will go on for centuries. If we lived for 200 years, I would be worried about information storage. So far, my CDs and DVDs are working fine, but I try to keep them in a climate controlled environment.

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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby lybrary » August 20th, 2014, 4:29 pm

A couple of other points to consider:

Cost of ownership:
A printed book comes with a higher cost of ownership. It typically costs more to buy, but that is not what I am really getting at here. You need a shelf to put it on. You need the space for the shelf. And you might have to move. All of this costs much more for printed books. I made 3 major moves in my life, two across continents, and 2/3 of the boxes were books. The cost of moving printed books was many thousands of dollars not including my time for boxing and unboxing.

Ease of Preservation
It is true that digital forms of storage have a shorter life span than paper, but that is more than offset by the ease of copying. It doesn't take that long to copy discs onto a hard drive and then say periodically make copies of the hard drive. It is trivial, fast and low cost. Copying books once they start to decay is a very costly undertaking and for most individuals not an option.

Every year or so I buy the largest possible hard disc available at that time, copy all important files on it and then store it away. Some of these hard discs I have even taken back to Austria in case my house here in the US burns down. I do this on top of my regular backups. It doesn't cost much and takes only a few minutes of my time, the rest of the copying takes place during the night when I sleep. So essentially it is very easy to make copies periodically and avoid all those longevity problems that come with digital storage.

Digital has error margins, Analog does not
In principle the digital format is far superior for preservation than analog. And that has to do with the error margins built into digital. If you look at a bit then a small change in the underlying value of the bit, say the magnetization of the medium does not change the bit. In contrast even tiny changes to an analog value are permanent, because one does not know what its former value was. Further with digital content one can add error correcting coding which can restore damage and deterioration of the original so that the exact original can be retrieved. No such thing is possible with print on paper or other analog formats.

Bottom line is that a well managed digital repository can last forever with no loss whatsoever, while an analog repository will decay over time no matter how well it is cared for. For me digital wins hands down as long as you develop the right habits to care for it. On top of this a digital repository is much more useful due to its search feature. At Lybrary.com we have integrated all this for our customers. We store your ebooks in the cloud, so even if your desktop craps out it is a simple matter to download them again from your digital shelf in your Lybrary account. And through our Magic Knowledge Base you can search all your ebooks, too, with full text access and all others without full text access.
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Re: Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 20th, 2014, 5:56 pm

Having your ebooks stored on a cloud from the place you bought them is very useful.

I have lost lots of ebooks every time my laptop breaks down (every 4-5 years?). I really appreciate the service that lybrary.com provides in this area.

I am a book guy - but after spending decades in magic I know that 99% of the magic books consist of tricks that I will never want to perform.

As such - having the ability to print off the 1% you want to study is handy. Since it cuts down on storage space.

That is how I feel today. Having spent decades studying physical magic books. Which was a learning curve which I will always treasure.

As such - I feel the advantages of digital technology are of most use to those experienced magicians who are looking for a simple way to filter out most of the magic they come across.

The truth is that most magic books I come across are rarely interesting enough to deserve a second read through. This is just a side effect of having read thousands of magic books and magazines.

Of course - just as I am happy cutting through 99% of a magic book to get to what I want to study further. There is still that 1% of magic books (such as the upcoming Tenyo and Lubor Fiedler books - and the Gaetan Bloom books that came out last year) that I would only ever want in a paper format. Since they are books that I know will contain lots of content that I will want to come back to again and again.

As for wider digital publishing. You have to remember that a lot of great ebooks would never have been released as physical books in the first place. I really treasure my Gregg Webb ebooks. And even though some of his ebooks are digital scans of paper newsletters he put out. I still feel they are products which would not be easily and widely available if it were not for the availability of digital publishing.

So - when considering ebooks. You have to remember that a lot of ebooks would never see the light of day at all if it were not for this technology. Of course a lot of ebooks don't deserve to see publication. But I don't mind the bad ones - since the intelligent and experienced magic consumer should have the skills necessary to side step those publications which are a waste of money.

And whilst fewer proper books are a waste of money. There is still plenty of traditional magic books which never really should have being published in the first place.


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