eBooks and the future

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I sort of started this off in another thread, but the purpose of that thread was something else entirely. As I kept writing it became more complex and I decided not the hijack his thread and make my own.

eReaders and eBooks are becoming more prevalent, bit by bit, but surprisingly slowly. The convenience of being able to carry around your book collection in the palm of your hand is something that was unprecedented until quite recently, but could this new power be more harmful than good? The effects would be widespread, and effect many many people. Obviously this sort of thing would be a slow transition, but as it goes, it takes out the middlemen, as numerous as they are and removes them from the equation.

First off, who would a transition from paper to kilobytes effect?
-Publishers. No doubt that production costs for eBooks would be significantly cheaper than publishing millions of hard copies, but, as with anything on computers, a move to the digital world leaves your product vastly more susceptible to piracy. Would the gain and loss even out? Tough to say.
However, would a time come when we no longer even need the publishers, what's to stop anyone from George R R Martin to Joe Shmoe from writing the book themselves, converting it to the appropriate format and distributing it online? Publishers would need to adapt their business model in the way media companies have been kicking and screaming about, or fall into ruin, as authors realize that they don't need to go through the stiff middle man any longer.
-Libraries. Slowly, but surely, as eReaders become more affordable and as people accept the transition, libraries would disappear as video stores have done. The Internet will be the worldwide library, with every book available there.
-Newspapers. We've already seen this medium begin its death throws. The Internet has become more mobile than ever and news can be accessed from anywhere. With eReaders becoming commonplace, beaming the news to someone would be a no-brainer.
-Lumber Industries. Oh yes, as hard copies begin to sell less, paper becomes less used, and many people would lose their jobs in the paper manufacturing process.
-Students buying textbooks for college and university, it's difficult to determine if the costs of the eTextbooks would be lower or not, but the textbooks could be updated much easier across the board. Without having stacks and stacks of outdated textbooks, one program on an ereader that updates regularly.
-Schools. Textbook costs go down for high schools and below, profits from textbooks go down for schools that charge for them. This could require some serious overhauls in pretty integrated systems. It could also pave the way for far more advanced self-schooling or homeschooling programs.

Other effects: With a slow death of libraries and publishers as we know them, we'd see an emergence of online libraries... Youtubes for texts. Places where people can share their works, for free or for money. Hopefully not as juvenile as YouTube but you get what I mean. A major drop in price for eReaders would be a no-brainer. In a world of eBooks, everybody would be expected to carry one, either as part of our phones or separate.

Now my own personal conspiracy theories. Why haven't eBooks caught on to a great extent? To me it's a huge surprise that these things haven't boomed in the same way cell phones have. Carrying every book you have everywhere you go is amazing, and eReaders and eBooks aren't overly expensive either. So why? Perhaps the publishing companies are holding them back, for fear of the things mentioned above? Perhaps it's that reading simply isn't as popular as it once was, as it is replaced my Internet, video and games.

Discussion questions:
What other effects do you think a rise in eReading would have?
Why do you believe eReading has risen so slowly? Do you even agree that it has been slow?
Do you not want eBooks to rise to the same use as hard copies? Why not?
Do you own or use an eReader or eReading program yourself?
What other applications could eReaders provide?

I apologize for my terribly written thread.

Well, with regards to publishers dying out as authors went independent, there's already a place where any schmuck with a keyboard, an Internet connection and a story in their head can put it to the public: fanfiction.

Now, of course, not all fanfiction is terrible, nor is all of it unedited. But as Sturgeon's Law goes, a good deal of it is pretty unreadable. You know how fandoms generally dislike original characters, because a lot of people have difficulty balancing them and making them believable as opposed to overpowered self-inserts? Yeah. Now imagine those same people trying to concoct a whole cast of characters, plus a universe, all plausible and well thought-out and such.

See, there would be freelance editors, and likely entities similar to the partnership channels such as Machinima and TGS on YouTube that could help fund budding authors and promote good reading material in this brave new open-source world, but it would also lead to a deluge of sub-par to awful fictions being produced, drowning out the good. People would throw down their electronic devices in disgust, unable to find a good story amongst the dross.

If you want a picture of the eBook-only future, imagine a Kindle loaded with My Immortal being smashed into a human face... forever.

Amazon allows people to self publish their own books.
By and large, there's a reason they never went through proper publishers. Because their books are terrible and the dialogue is totally unbelievable.
Though I suppose if you go rummaging through the sewers, you can't expect to find much jewellery.

Keep in mind that most of the world doesn't even own a computer let alone a ebook so I think that future is a lot more distant than made out to be. Either way it concerns me that with every new tech we get more and more jobs go obsolete especially since we don't have enough jobs to support the people we have as it stands and things are only going to get worse.

R.Nevermore:
What other effects do you think a rise in eReading would have?
Why do you believe eReading has risen so slowly? Do you even agree that it has been slow?
Do you not want eBooks to rise to the same use as hard copies? Why not?
Do you own or use an eReader or eReading program yourself?
What other applications could eReaders provide?

I don't own a dedicated eReader, but I do use the software on my iPad (and frankly I wouldn't have bought one of those either - it was part of our Christmas bonus at work). The main the issue that I have with eReaders is that they have limited functionality for the amount of space that they take up, so why not just use your phone or tablet? I think that's part of the reason that it's a slow moving market.

It might also be worth considering how people read books - people who buy a book and pass it around to their friends can't do that with most eBooks. People who read on transit and have forgotten a paperback on a plane/train/bus are going to be wary of doing the same thing with a more expensive item. Same thing with reading a book on the beach or in the pool when you're on holiday - if you get a paperback wet it's no great loss.

By and large, there's a reason they never went through proper publishers. Because their books are terrible and the dialogue is totally unbelievable.

And this. There's already a lot of crap out there - fewer editors just means there'll be more of it.

I will never stop buying paper books. I just hope we don't see an overall decline in quality of material published due to the disappearance of editors.

I don't want no high-falooting ebooks. I want a dagnabbing proper book I can hold with my own two hands and smell! Not some blasted bright screen straining my eyes.

I think the publishing model weather its digital or physical exists because we want an indicator of "quality" (in theory obviously)

no one wants to dig through a space like fan fiction.net just to find somthing to read

Redlin5:
I will never stop buying paper books. I just hope we don't see an overall decline in quality of material published due to the disappearance of editors.

To contrast, I will never buy another paper book again. I actually intend to set aside a portion of my income to slowly replace and get rid of all of my physical media. No more books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, or games. With cloud storage being the way it is, why would I want to pack up box after box of books when I can just buy them from Amazon and download them at my leisure? They'll never get worn, never tear, never scratch or get dirty. And I can carry a dozen books at once on my iPad. Death to physical media!

That said, publishers will be around for a while. We're looking at at least 20 years before physical books are so rare as to be surprising. And once that is the case, they'll simply transform into publicists. The financial investment in getting a book to print will be gone, but all the other aspects of making a best seller are still there. You still have to get a professional editor (though I've noticed a great many books go to print with obvious mistakes anyway) and you still need people to promote the book. Their jobs will change, and they may employ fewer people (they may also employ more, as taking on a new author is suddenly much cheaper and thus less risky), but they will not be gone.

Aris Khandr:
I actually intend to set aside a portion of my income to slowly replace and get rid of all of my physical media. No more books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, or games.

We are on polar opposite ends of the spectrum. As cool as having all digital games is, I prefer to have my hard copies of everything. Sure that requires space for putting things but that's what shelves are for. ;)

Redlin5:

Aris Khandr:
I actually intend to set aside a portion of my income to slowly replace and get rid of all of my physical media. No more books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, or games.

We are on polar opposite ends of the spectrum. As cool as having all digital games is, I prefer to have my hard copies of everything. Sure that requires space for putting things but that's what shelves are for. ;)

Out of curiosity, when was the last time you moved? And do you plan to move again? Because for me, the answers are "August" and "yes", respectively. And let me tell you, after you move eleven and a half boxes full of books, you'll hate the things too. If you don't plan on moving again, physical media is fine. But moving it is a giant pain in the butt, and completely not worth it.

Aris Khandr:

Redlin5:

Aris Khandr:
I actually intend to set aside a portion of my income to slowly replace and get rid of all of my physical media. No more books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, or games.

We are on polar opposite ends of the spectrum. As cool as having all digital games is, I prefer to have my hard copies of everything. Sure that requires space for putting things but that's what shelves are for. ;)

Out of curiosity, when was the last time you moved? And do you plan to move again? Because for me, the answers are "August" and "yes", respectively. And let me tell you, after you move eleven and a half boxes full of books, you'll hate the things too. If you don't plan on moving again, physical media is fine. But moving it is a giant pain in the butt, and completely not worth it.

I moved a year ago. So yes, I know the hassle. I still consider it worth it and that's why I pick what I want to take with great care.

Genocidicles:
I don't want no high-falooting ebooks. I want a dagnabbing proper book I can hold with my own two hands and smell! Not some blasted bright screen straining my eyes.

Yo, eReaders can have eInk, which is like reading a normal book.

I'm in the process of moving at the moment and books are like 50% of my stuff, and I'm not even that old and I don't have dozens of thick academic textbooks. Just regular Harry Potter, Chuck Palahniuk, Star Wars, Wheel of Time etc.

For most stuff, if it's text based, it's fine on an ereader, but you can't really study for an anatomy exam on your kindle.
I'm hoping textbooks for foreign languages get onto the ereader bandwagon, because those things are expensive. Not having to constantly look for a translated word in a separate book is dope. eReaders are simply great if you're trying to learn a foreign language. In fact, apart from books with tons of drawings, ereaders can become quite the educational capital we (as in my country, not yours) need.

I'm hoping libraries will be more friendly to ebooks in the future. That would be awesome.

Long story short, I'm for 'em

they have allowed more people world wide access to books than ever before and in alot of cases have reduced the prices as you skip the middle men as such.
they are also one of the worst things to happen to books

libraries world wide are having their budgets cut, the physical space they have for books reduced as they have to make room for computers, coffee shops, etc to try and get people through the door. the side effect of all this and an open secret in the industry is that more and more libraries are going online and digitising their collections and generally after that happens the original is sent to the local dump or burned.

a book with proper care can last centuries. but you simply cant guarentee an ebook file you have be in any way accessable in 50 years let alone 500. you cant even stick them on a disk and preserve them. for starters the technology wont be available to read that disk in 50 years and regardless the data degrades and is unreadable in 30-40 years on disks, etc. the ebook industry is putting all its hopes into the internet existing in its current form forever

The academic book industry is an amazing rip off. So long as students have no issue taking college loans to purchase these books that should be hand me downs, we will continue to allow this cancer to continue.

I would also like to say that audio books are the future. I used to be in the ebook camp but once you start using audible it's hard to go back.

eBooks are the future, they have the potential to be more than books ever were.

I bought an iPad3 for textbooks this year, by the end of next year the savings on books will have paid for the ipad. Besides doing almost everything that i do on my computer excluding gaming i also have: recordings of all my classes' lectures (that i record with the ipad), several news paper apps, several Rosetta stone-esque language learning apps for multiple languages, several 3d model apps of things like a complete human anatomy and the solar system, and finally i have movies/netflix. The one thing i didnt think when i got the ipad is how much i would use it for things besides just reading and how much it would enhance my learning.

I'm the most interested in how much eBooks will cost when there no longer are any paper books to compare them to (if we ever reach that point, that is).

For instance, on Sherrilyn Kenyon's webpage, she charges exactly the same amount of money for the eBook version of her books as for the paperback version, but since I doubt that the cost of printing a book is as high as the cost of not printing it, it's pretty obvious that it's just greed. And that raises the question of how much you charge for something like that. I mean, if we're going to be honest it doesn't make any sense that on Amazon.com the kindle version of The Hunger Games actually costs more than the paperback version. They could charge $2 and still make a profit, so charging any more than that is just an attempt to get more cash that actually makes people buy way less books than they might have otherwise. I mean, imagine how much more books people would buy if they cost no more than a bag of chips.

I actually like a model I've seen with a few music artists where you buy the CD/vinyl and get the mp3 download code or whatever. I haven't seen any books yet with this though.

Besides the obvious ability to read if the power/wifi/battery goes out, and not being at the mercy of Amazon or whoever deciding to suddenly yank the book.

And yeah, theres a certain aesthetic sense to having the physical books handy. Also an e-book tends to lose of its stlye as it has to be cramped onto the screen. That and I find the screens uncomfortable to look at for long periods of reading.

image

I believe that picture of my collection conveys my stance on eBooks. And that's not even all of it.

Going complete eBook is going to make reading absolutely shite. Just imagine every book in the picture above as 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight... yeah, no.

I have an eReader - a Sony eReader, which I like very much. But I still prefer to buy physical books, if I think they are worth it. Many of the books I buy are non-fiction books, with diagrams, charts, figures and pictures of buildings or places. It doesn't always display correctly on an eReader. And even though my eReader is easy on the eyes, I still prefer to read off of paper than off the screen. My eyes still find paper more comfortable.

Got nothing really against eReaders - I use them and I hope they'll stick around, but I still like physical books and I have hundreds of them on my shelf at home and I can't bring myself to throw them away.

I read ebooks and love that I can carry many books in my phone or tablet.
However, I will never stop buying hard copies.
Especially for studying.
I want find that I remember things better when it is on a hard copy because I remember it by its physical location in the book.

I think epublishing has opened up our chances of running into unexpectedly good books, but again, not all works are worth publishing or reading. I guess as consumers we need to learn to find only the ones that matter.

I still like to mix it up. I read both eBooks and classic books (I even have bought paperback versions of ebooks I enjoyed), but I can see a future where paper books are an oddity. I am not against any advance in technology, but they both have pros and cons:
Paper
- Chances of building a collection that is visually pleasing and easily accessible for reference.
- Personally, I find easier to search for a particular section or reference in paper books...
- Paper allows for some less lineal experiences. Diagrams, charts and pictures don't translate well to eReaders, and many don't even support multiple fonts and formats (and I think something like House of Leaves is not translatable to ebook)

Electronic
- Convenience to carry. I could carry a single device with more content I would be able to read in my entire life. Consequently, is a better companion for long trips.
- Convenience to buy. Amazon makes it extremely easy to access content almost instantly. In my personal case, most books out there are not available, those that are take some time to be translated and published and finding them is not easy. I spend a significant time trying to find a copy of "Tale of Two Cities", until I decided to try the electronic store and it was instantaneous (and free)
- Multimedia. New versions of ebook allow for more interactive experiences. Videos, audio, references and photos that accompany the book are easily accessible, which makes some items available in those versions not translatable to the classic format.

I find it pretty hard to defend the mainstream industry when absolute trash like the 50-shades trilogy (and the glut of knock-offs that appeared over night) can be published. I think that was the day my faith in publishing professionals as gate keepers of quality finally completely died.

Prices that are sometimes even higher than the price for the paperback version and DRM bullshit are holding it back imo.
I was searching for stephen kings dark tower saga once and there was not a single sanely priced version without phone-home DRM on it.

Fluffythepoo:
several Rosetta stone-esque language learning apps for multiple languages

Do you have any recommendations on that subject? I've been looking into programs on languages for my iPad, but haven't decided on one yet. A review from someone who has actually used them would be good. :)

R.Nevermore:
Why haven't eBooks caught on to a great extent? To me it's a huge surprise that these things haven't boomed in the same way cell phones have.

I think the main reason eBooks and eReaders haven't really caught on yet is that your average person don't really read a lot of books, which makes it hard to justify buying a dedicated device for it, also reading magazines and really anything illustrated won't be possible on it, and if like most people you only read a book or 2 a month it doesn't seem all that attractive. Novels just isn't all that popular anymore, people read newspapers, articles, magazines, but not a whole lot of of the longer novels anymore. Also the idea of buying your entire collection again or perhaps splitting it up by beginning to use an eReader might not be all that appealing either, some people who love reading, though the actual content of the book is of course the main factor, also care about it is a collection, switching format might not appeal to them.

R.Nevermore:
eReaders and eBooks aren't overly expensive either.

Depends on where you live. Apart from the bestsellers or hyped book of the month, eBooks are just as expensive, and often more expensive than hardbacks where I'm from, not only does it put people off digital books if you can get it for your shelf at the same price or cheaper, but seeing as most people capable of reading understand that digital goods are inherently cheaper than physical ones, why should you then have to pay the same price.

There's also older people, I know it's a stereotype and not all elders are like this and all that, but it still holds true for the majority of them. Most people aged 60+ won't even consider eBooks as they are not all that interested in tech and therefore don't care much about their existence at all, and old people read a lot more compared to younger people who knows about the digital format, but don't care much as they consume less written material.

All in all I'm not at all surprised this hasn't caught on at this point.

Also people are cautious, they want to see if this format will catch on or maybe change further, I personally also think the dedicated eReader is a transitional device much like the netbook was, it will eventually merge together with tablets and/or smartphones, I think there even is a model of smartphone being launched soon with a normal display on on side, and a more reading friendly display on the other much like the kind eReaders currently have.

Now I agree that paper factories, lumber mills and other industries and businesses involved in actual production of physical books will inevitably suffer from this transition, but I view that as natural and not a bad thing, it's simply necessary change to meet a changing demand.

Libraries would of course also have to change, but again I imagine the way libraries are structured and work differ greatly from country to country. Here in Denmark libraries are public and not just storage houses for books with a librarian who knows whats there and what isn't and who puts books on shelves (in fact restocking shelves is mainly done by part time workers). Librarians here will help you find relevant articles for you school assignment regardless of educational level, and have access to several large online databases with lots of scientific and literary works and articles, they subscribe to and archive every newspaper in the country and most magazines (a lot of international ones too) and you can mostly get permission to take scans of individual articles or graphs or whatever it is you need. If you book isn't at your local library or is currently not in, they will get a copy from any other library in the country, and even sometimes from libraries outside the country, and you can also to an increasing extent get support-like help with digital material if you experience problems.

ebooks won't put librarians here out of work, their function will simply change a little and adapt to meet a change in format.

Newspapers and magazines are already transitioning to digital form as well, most newspaper subscriptions include a digital copy you can log in to check wherever you are, and will in the long run probably evolve to fit a format that can be updated in real time, instead of needing a daily deadline for printing purposes.

Books and other written media will eventually become predominantly digital I believe, however the printed book will not die anytime soon as having something physically is still quite important to a lot of people, what I can imagine might happen is you would get a digital key with your physical which could allow you to read it digitally but still have the physical book maybe at a slightly higher price, but without paying full price for 2 copies, it would certainly seem like a good way to do things without any real downsides to me.

Shit, what a wall of text, might have gone slightly off on a tangent at some point, but won't go over it again.
TL;DR
My views are:
Digital books will become the norm.
People are cautious of the change as they don't want to commit to something that may not catch on, when books are as time proven and "safe" as they are.
eReaders are transitional and will merge with tablets/smartphones within the foreseeable future.
Change in the format will affect various businesses and industries, but change isn't a bad thing and companies who can't adapt will naturally be left in an undesirable position.

SomeLameStuff:
image

I believe that picture of my collection conveys my stance on eBooks. And that's not even all of it.

Going complete eBook is going to make reading absolutely shite. Just imagine every book in the picture above as 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight... yeah, no.

If im not mistaken the collected stories of sherlock holmes next to a copy of the BNF. We have shockingly similar bookshelves.

Well I think there are always going to be physical hard copies of books around. They have been with us for too long to just be tossed to the kerb as a new technology comes around.

A significant amount of people like having a real book in there hands because...well there's just something pleasant about having a real book, I think it's the weight of it and the smell of the paper for me.
Books can develop personality over time too, the foxing around the edges and the way the pages colour as the book gets older all lend character. I've got books that have been half way round the world with me and that are almost completely destroyed, I could just go out and get a new one but I never will because that copy is mine and we have been through a lot together it holds a sentimental value that an e-reader just couldn't hope to. But hey maybe I'm just odd like that...who knows?

Also if I recall correctly you read around 10% slower when reading from a screen as opposed to paper, so there's that as well. E-paper displays solve this problem but as of now only monochrome e-paper is readily available in consumer devices. I know they are working on colour e-paper but it's a little while off from becoming freely available yet.

So yeah to sum it all up:

E-books and readers are going to become more and more prevalent in the future for sure but paper copies are here to stay too. It's just going to be a case of deciding which one you prefer to read from.

Aris Khandr:

Fluffythepoo:
several Rosetta stone-esque language learning apps for multiple languages

Do you have any recommendations on that subject? I've been looking into programs on languages for my iPad, but haven't decided on one yet. A review from someone who has actually used them would be good. :)

Depends what you want it for, for vocab i find WordPower is the nicest, groups vocab together, categorises the groups into difficulty level so that you learn basic words first, all words have associated pictures, audio of a someone reading the word and example sentences in which its used. Its one crime is it doesnt tell you gender right off the bat, and learning a word without learning its gender in some languages is like only learning half the word. It also has a nice word of the day, that sends you push notifications so you never forget to learn at least one word daily.

Beyond vocab you get a bunch of language specific apps, but spanish/french/german all have idiom dictionaries for about 2 bucks that are definitely worth it.

I don't think eBooks will be the death of physical books. Even if eBooks become more prevalent having a physical book could be seen as a sign of quality as publishers wouldn't go to the expense of publishing a shitty book on paper. Yes it is cheap and convenient to have thousands of books on something potentially smaller than any of those books, but book collectors would still rather have the real thing (maybe buying both). And what about special editions? First Edition books could be a good way to keep people interested in physical books. Sure it's more expensive but you have one of a limited edition, go to a book signing with it and in a few years that could be worth big money. You can't do that with an eBook.

Publishers might not go out of business provided they are smart and jump on the ePublishing train before it leaves the station. Publishers are often trusted names, so something with their name on it is seen as a sign of quality so they might still have some value to authors. Whilst it is much simpler these days to publish your own work online, going through a publisher can make it even simpler plus you get some legal protection as people stealing your work means the publishers wade in with their legal teams and handle it at no cost to the author and given that piracy is the number one concern for eBooks that could be a very tempting benefit.

As for libraries, a library is limited by the amount of space available. Having eBooks means that you could have every book in the world, translated into every language, in every library on the planet. Free access to all of those books could make libraries even more useful, obviously you can't leave with your book but there is no reason why you couldn't read in there. With all of the space they would save not having to have physical books they could have loads of seating and a coffee shop, so it's more comfortable to spend a long time in the library reading. Libraries don't have to die, they just need to evolve.

R.Nevermore:
I sort of started this off in another thread, but the purpose of that thread was something else entirely. As I kept writing it became more complex and I decided not the hijack his thread and make my own.

eReaders and eBooks are becoming more prevalent, bit by bit, but surprisingly slowly. The convenience of being able to carry around your book collection in the palm of your hand is something that was unprecedented until quite recently, but could this new power be more harmful than good? The effects would be widespread, and effect many many people. Obviously this sort of thing would be a slow transition, but as it goes, it takes out the middlemen, as numerous as they are and removes them from the equation.

First off, who would a transition from paper to kilobytes effect?
-Publishers. No doubt that production costs for eBooks would be significantly cheaper than publishing millions of hard copies, but, as with anything on computers, a move to the digital world leaves your product vastly more susceptible to piracy. Would the gain and loss even out? Tough to say.
However, would a time come when we no longer even need the publishers, what's to stop anyone from George R R Martin to Joe Shmoe from writing the book themselves, converting it to the appropriate format and distributing it online? Publishers would need to adapt their business model in the way media companies have been kicking and screaming about, or fall into ruin, as authors realize that they don't need to go through the stiff middle man any longer.

I have a feeling publishers are scared to transition to electronic books because the more accepted e-books are, the more feasible self-publishing becomes. Self-publishing is already starting to grow, but as long as publishers dig in their heels and hold onto paper publishing they can keep it at bay. Because honestly, apart from marketing, the biggest thing publishers do that you can't do on your own is print the books en masse. It used to be that you could have had the greatest story ever written, but if you couldn't get a publisher to bite you just couldn't get it off the ground. Unless you just had the money to print off 20,000 books or so and distribute them across your region.

But with self-publishing, putting out a book on your own becomes about as easy as sticking anything else on Amazon. Which is great for upstart authors, but terrible for publishers. And their fear is understandable--when a new technology that comes out threatens the viability of your service, it's usually something you want to avoid like the plague for as long as you can.

-Libraries. Slowly, but surely, as eReaders become more affordable and as people accept the transition, libraries would disappear as video stores have done. The Internet will be the worldwide library, with every book available there.

I don't know if libraries will "disappear." They still have a role as physical buildings for housing computers that are free for the public to use, as well as providing a public space for people to meet and do stuff. The libraries in my town host lots of local events and meetings for groups. Also, they already have a massive database set up that has all the books in the entire region, and you can reserve books online and have them sent to whichever library you want in the system. Many of their books also come in e-reader format. I'm not really sure how it works since I don't have an e-reader, but I believe you're basically being lent a temporary license to use the book. They only have a few licenses, so until one expires another person can't borrow the book.

So even if libraries do become obsolete as physical buildings, they'll still have a purpose in online form to lend e-books.

And to be perfectly honest, I'm rather skeptical of books completely disappearing as physical objects at all. The point of a library is that even if you're penniless you can borrow a book and learn something. It's a public service, just like parks or campgrounds. Unless e-readers become so cheap and disposable that it becomes more financially reasonable for a library to provide an e-reader to every person who comes in than to purchase and keep physical copies of the books, books will still have a purpose and a market as physical objects. I'm not saying that can never happen, but I don't think it will happen quite as soon as some people are thinking.

And I don't really have much else to say about the others you listed, apart from what I've already said.

Other effects: With a slow death of libraries and publishers as we know them, we'd see an emergence of online libraries... Youtubes for texts. Places where people can share their works, for free or for money. Hopefully not as juvenile as YouTube but you get what I mean. A major drop in price for eReaders would be a no-brainer. In a world of eBooks, everybody would be expected to carry one, either as part of our phones or separate.

Ah, there it is. Yeah, I agree with you here. But again, the use of libraries as buildings extends beyond simply housing books these days, so I'm thinking they'll simply transition into being more public gathering places than simply being destroyed.

Now my own personal conspiracy theories. Why haven't eBooks caught on to a great extent? To me it's a huge surprise that these things haven't boomed in the same way cell phones have. Carrying every book you have everywhere you go is amazing, and eReaders and eBooks aren't overly expensive either. So why? Perhaps the publishing companies are holding them back, for fear of the things mentioned above? Perhaps it's that reading simply isn't as popular as it once was, as it is replaced my Internet, video and games.

Again, I think big-name publishers are a safe bet here. Self-publishing may not completely do them in, but it could certainly take a bite out of their profit margins, so they are doing their best to circumvent this as much as possible. As far as I know, no publishers are making any deals with the Kindle and Nook and whatnot because they don't want to encourage them. I think if publishers weren't trying to stave them off, then you'd see more books being advertised as "Amazon Kindle Exclusive" or "Nook Exclusive." You'd see them working with Amazon and Barnes and Noble to try and bolster sales together, sort of like console-exclusive games. But publishers aren't at all keen on encouraging the e-reader market, so they haven't done any team-ups like that.

I apologize for my terribly written thread.

Nah, I wouldn't say this is poorly written at all :-)

I have nothing against eReaders. My spouse has one and loves it.

However, you can't take an eReader in the bath. Well, you could, but it would be really dangerous (to your eReader).

eReaders still can't capture the feel of holding a proper book. Leather covers help, but only so much.

That's not to say that, for some uses, eBooks aren't better. Reference and research materials I use almost exclusively in e-versions. They're just easier to search for one thing.

But for pleasure reading, I just can't do better than an old fashioned paper book.

Edit: Oh, and to the comment about eReaders "turning all books into Twilight" - I have no idea what that's even supposed to mean. Pretty much ALL books now come in both formats - paper and eBook. Owning a Kindle, I'm quite aware of this. I particularly enjoy getting deals where I buy the paper book and get an eBook for free - that way my spouse and I can read the same book at the same time (one hardcopy and one digital copy). eReaders aren't my favorite thing, but they aren't going to hurt good fiction. Good fiction will continue as it always has.

R.Nevermore:
I sort of started this off in another thread, but the purpose of that thread was something else entirely. As I kept writing it became more complex and I decided not the hijack his thread and make my own.

eReaders and eBooks are becoming more prevalent, bit by bit, but surprisingly slowly. The convenience of being able to carry around your book collection in the palm of your hand is something that was unprecedented until quite recently, but could this new power be more harmful than good? The effects would be widespread, and effect many many people. Obviously this sort of thing would be a slow transition, but as it goes, it takes out the middlemen, as numerous as they are and removes them from the equation.

First off, who would a transition from paper to kilobytes effect?
-Publishers. No doubt that production costs for eBooks would be significantly cheaper than publishing millions of hard copies, but, as with anything on computers, a move to the digital world leaves your product vastly more susceptible to piracy. Would the gain and loss even out? Tough to say.
However, would a time come when we no longer even need the publishers, what's to stop anyone from George R R Martin to Joe Shmoe from writing the book themselves, converting it to the appropriate format and distributing it online? Publishers would need to adapt their business model in the way media companies have been kicking and screaming about, or fall into ruin, as authors realize that they don't need to go through the stiff middle man any longer.
-Libraries. Slowly, but surely, as eReaders become more affordable and as people accept the transition, libraries would disappear as video stores have done. The Internet will be the worldwide library, with every book available there.
-Newspapers. We've already seen this medium begin its death throws. The Internet has become more mobile than ever and news can be accessed from anywhere. With eReaders becoming commonplace, beaming the news to someone would be a no-brainer.
-Lumber Industries. Oh yes, as hard copies begin to sell less, paper becomes less used, and many people would lose their jobs in the paper manufacturing process.
-Students buying textbooks for college and university, it's difficult to determine if the costs of the eTextbooks would be lower or not, but the textbooks could be updated much easier across the board. Without having stacks and stacks of outdated textbooks, one program on an ereader that updates regularly.
-Schools. Textbook costs go down for high schools and below, profits from textbooks go down for schools that charge for them. This could require some serious overhauls in pretty integrated systems. It could also pave the way for far more advanced self-schooling or homeschooling programs.

Other effects: With a slow death of libraries and publishers as we know them, we'd see an emergence of online libraries... Youtubes for texts. Places where people can share their works, for free or for money. Hopefully not as juvenile as YouTube but you get what I mean. A major drop in price for eReaders would be a no-brainer. In a world of eBooks, everybody would be expected to carry one, either as part of our phones or separate.

Now my own personal conspiracy theories. Why haven't eBooks caught on to a great extent? To me it's a huge surprise that these things haven't boomed in the same way cell phones have. Carrying every book you have everywhere you go is amazing, and eReaders and eBooks aren't overly expensive either. So why? Perhaps the publishing companies are holding them back, for fear of the things mentioned above? Perhaps it's that reading simply isn't as popular as it once was, as it is replaced my Internet, video and games.

Discussion questions:
What other effects do you think a rise in eReading would have?
Why do you believe eReading has risen so slowly? Do you even agree that it has been slow?
Do you not want eBooks to rise to the same use as hard copies? Why not?
Do you own or use an eReader or eReading program yourself?
What other applications could eReaders provide?

I apologize for my terribly written thread.

I actually, just yesterday, wrote a blog entry asking whether publishing is as much the victory it used to be anymore.

I mean, self-publishing is scarily easy to do, but then the entire challenge is moved to marketing the book. So it becomes about social media and organising your own ways of spreading the word because you don't have the hefty weight and connections of the publisher there.

I think this might be why there hasn't been a huge over-throwing of paper books like some surge of grubby e-peasants with their e-complaints about word dictatorships or .. I don't know where that's going. What I mean is, because it's so easy to make the book you end up with a LOT of crap e-books out there, since it takes one click on Amazon to sign in and you can upload your Word document about Mary Sue's Adventures in Not-Narnia. No barrier to entry, no quality assurance. The quality assurance comes from the sharing afterwards. Being published isn't the mark of success it was, it's finding the audience that assure you there was a reason for the ebook to be written in the first place.

I think, though, that ebooks are going to get much more effective if typical publishing doesn't take a few steps back and examine how archaic their systems are. I mean, the format of a YouTube style page is all coming into play, where everyone shares their writing and the best ones get put on the front page for attention...

Sorry, I didn't really answer all the questions. First time post though, hooray!

The only problems regarding the economy, publishing, industry, etc. aren't really problems at all. The faster the consumerism dies out, and we move on the better.

I put an E-Reader, and put it aside a library of books. Which one better promote's sustainability in society? that's my opinion on the matter. My main considerations are the materials that composes the e-reader gadget in comparison to the materials that makes up a library of books.

It's generally the same as anything that gets converted to digital information. You cut out the middle man, and obsolete industry/production practices. But that's how society currently runs, and you'd have to reshape every aspect of our everyday living to really get the fruit.

So considering our current monetary system, things like ebooks conflict with it. The way we live is problematic though, and probably the source of all of this trouble to begin with.

Kind've go off topic but okie....

Recently I've been toying with the idea of getting a kindle but I'm not sure. Even my mum, usually a complete technophobe has one! I tried hers but I think I just prefer holding a real book. I don't have to worry about real books getting damaged (as much), I don't have to charge them and I can flip through them easily to find the page I want without having to click buttons or use an annoying menu system.
For my course, we're expected to make notes on our books and I find it easier to just go in with a pencil instead of trying to use a keyboard or touch-screen. Also, about the possibility of textbooks being bought once and then updated... I don't think there is any way that this will happen. Textbooks are expensive and more textbooks = more money for the publishers. They want to make as much money as possible and aren't going to let something like the advent of digital media stop them. Also, I can buy second-hand books on Amazon for 1p or in charity shops for about 20p that cost 6 or more as an ebook.

I know I seem really against e-readers but I can see the benefits. It would be nice not to have to carry so many books around all the time and have my entire library in my pocket. It would mean that I wouldn't have to put more books up the attic or under my bed or pile them up in a corner.

I'm just not ready to give up physical books yet, and I'm sure there are many others out there like me. Although e-readers seem to be becoming more and more common. I don't think that physical copies of books will be entirely phased out, although I can't see the future so who knows?

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