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Digital Reading

Call me old fashioned, but i just cannot see the attraction to eBooks.

Don’t get me wrong…the idea of digital books does have a coolness factor. Finally, a truly portable format! Save space on bookshelves! Searchable text! Electronic bookmarks! This is all cool stuff indeed.

Alas, I have no use for eBooks. Utilmately, when it comes time to actually read the text, I find the medium sorely lacking. I find it difficult to read stories on a computer monitor (or as HAHA calls it, a CRT) or even a PDA screen. The cool features such as searchable text and electronic bookmarks are worthless if I find the content hard to read. I just won’t bother.

And now today I came across this byline about a new innovation in eBooks. From the site:

The allure of reading a book in the Digital Web Book format is the almost tactile effect of 3D turning page transitions, which roll gently as if reading a traditional printed paper book. With the large, high quality computer screens found today in most homes and offices, the reading of eBooks is now a pleasure as opposed to the usual onerous task of struggling with awkward eBook reading devices and their often-buggy software.

I don’t know about you, but when I read from a book, the paper does not roll gently. And what kind of marketing nonsense is the “almost tactile effect of 3D turning page transitions”? Does it also come with the New Book Smell? Gimme a break. Digital reading is onerous no matter what cool features it sports.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: For me, there is value in holding a book.

And not just for reading. In some admittedly deranged way, a book is like a trophy to me. To be displayed on a shelf as a achievement. Look at me! I read that book! (Let’s pretend here that I have enough shelf space for the insane amount of books I buy, OK?)

The one good thing I can say about eBooks is that, in order to gain market acceptance, several sites offer free eBooks. Many are public domain stories but then there are others who provide fresh content. Science Fiction publisher Baen offers a free library of books founded on the belief that offereing it for free will actually increase sales (they publish the data to back it up, too).

And why do I think that free eBooks good? Because I can download them and print them out on good old fashioned paper.

Just the way I like it.

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

2 Comments on Digital Reading

  1. I’ve read severl ebooks recently, well, not books really but short stories. I think the format works best with short fiction and I mean short. Even a novella or the featured story in Asimov’s is too long. The problem I have is that a PocketPC or Palm just doesn’t feel right, the screen is too small and the fonts are good enough for long term reading.

    I did purchase two issues of Analog just to see what it would be like reading it on a PocketPC. Blah. I found that I missed the ads (I know…) and I really missed the pictures that are found in a magazine. I also think the layout of a magazine adds a lot to the reading experience. You don’t get that, at least currently, with the e-version.

    I do think ebooks will take off once the electronic paper stuff is nailed down and we have an electronic device that looks and acts like paper with all the layout possibilities. Like the USA Today paper seen in Minority Report. That will be cool…

  2. Well I am new to digital reading. But I enjoy the thought of it very much. Yes, I understand the feeling of holding a book, and I understand the trophy feeling of books on a shelf. My problem is that I don’t find time to read the books on the shelves. They are bulky and I don’t like to read unless I can sit and be comfortable. But my life is so busy and so full of kids that I can’t get myself comfortable long enough to read more than a few pages at a time. It’s the pits to have to jump up after I just got myself, my book, my pillows and anything else I need placed all around me. Also,when the day finally settles down at the end of the day, I can’t find a good place to read because I have children sleeping in every room of the house (24/7 daycare). I can’t read with lights on. I’m looking forward to my new device I’ve ordered that will have back lighting and I’ll be able to read it in the dark or at least seriously low light. I’ve never found a book light that would be comfortable and work long and allow me to read in the dark.

    So…let’s see.. I’ll have a device that is light enough that I can read it without feeling the need to nestle into an easy chair with my feet up and prop my turning arm with pillows….awe…I know I’m lazy LOL!… I’ll have one instrument to keep track of. When I take the kids to some indoor playground where I can read while they play I have sometimes left my book in the play area and not realized until I drove away. I certainly won’t let a 300 dollar instrument out of my sight!

    Then there is the resell factor. When I am done with 20 books or so I can bundle them on a memory card and sell them to someone else for at least part of the money…I think. I haven’t looked into the legality of that. But if we are paying 15 dollars for a book and we don’t keep it on our computer or make bootleg copies, then we should be able to pass it a long. I’d never sell a regular book and I rarely give them away because yeah, I love my books! πŸ™‚ But my shelves are overfull and I’m tired of having boxes and boxes of books around the house needing to go to the thriftstore. Some day I’ll have to start my own used bookstore!

    Look at the sony digital readers and the Kindle. At least according to what I see online the screens look nice and about the size of a small paperback.


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