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Is Print Dead?

Discussion in 'Pop Culture Board' started by scotchcrotch, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. scotchcrotch

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    Borders, and to a lesser extent Barnes & Noble, are struggling to stay afloat amidst the popularity of e-readers.

    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40719268/ns/business-retail/?gt1=43001" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40719268/ns ... ?gt1=43001</a>


    I find it hard to believe book stores would ever become totally obsolete. I'm sure there will always be a smaller niche market out there for them, similar to vinyl record stores. But I don't think they'll be nearly as commonplace 10, or even 5 years from now.

    It's a shame too, as book stores are one of the few places in the mall I enjoy when the wife wants to go shopping.

    Focus- Will traditional books and bookstores go the way of the dinosaur?

    2nd Focus- Do you own a tablet, kindle, other e-reader? What are some unexpected pros/cons?
     
  2. Rob4Broncos

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    I don't know if I could ever get a Kindle or any other e-reader. Call me old-fashioned, but I genuinely get enjoyment from reading out of a book, not on a screen. I read off of my computer screen enough as it is. It's the same reason I get print subscriptions to magazines, as opposed to online subscriptions.

    Maybe one day, my opinion on those devices will change (to be fair, I've never actually used one), but I can't imagine they'd replace books entirely. Besides, how else would middle schools get their students to load 30 pounds of shit in their backpacks each morning?
     
  3. Juice

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    Im with you on that one. I enjoy the tactile feel of turning pages when Im reading a book, theres something satisfying about it. And I dont think print will ever fully die, at least not as quick as people think. Even in a hundred years I think it will still exist, even if its just for the sake of it.
     
  4. Dr. Gonzo Esquire

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    Print is not dead. It's in a persistent, vegetative state.
     
  5. Crown Royal

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    That's because persistant vegetables are the ones killing it. Drooling idiots that think Wikipedia is the architect of worldly knowledge and use Cliffnotes and fucking movies to get the lowdown on books and stories make it that way. I don't picture books on the way out, look at i like I do vinyl records (I'm a vinyl guy, sue me): It's the first and best of its kind, so it will always be around.
     
  6. Harry Coolahan

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    Eventually the convenience and price of e-books will overcome the few benefits that books have over e-books, especially as e-book readers striver to improve on those discrepancies. It's inevitable.

    There are three things that presently keep me from switching from books to e-books:

    1. I like to heavily annotate my books. I typically dog-ear 50+ pages in any given book I read, with notes scribbled in the margins. This helps me better understand the content of the book, connect the ideas to other thoughts, etc. I don't even bother reading if I don't have a pen handy anymore. E-books have a shitty system for annotating, so I can't bring myself to use them as long as this is in place. I'm sure over time this will improve, though it will probably take a while since it's not a heavily used feature.

    2. It is really difficult to skim e-books for specific information. If I want to reference a specific paragraph in a book, I can scan through hundreds of pages in a matter of minutes. I don't think that's easily doable with an e-book. I realize that searchable text will help augment this issue, but it's not a perfect substitute. This is especially true for books whose contents are not chronological, e.g. Marcus Aurelius' Meditations or The Art of War. I have a feeling that this also isn't a feature that most readers consider critical, and in the long run I'll probably work around this inconvenience.

    3. I can display all my books on a library shelf, with all the annotations proving that I've read (and presumably understood) those books. Can't do the same for e-books. I realize that probably sounds entirely pretentious, but I think it's a legitimate signaling tool. The books I read represent my interests, which are an inherent part of who I am. Letting someone look over my library is a great way of revealing to them what kind of person I am. It's also a good way of sparking interesting conversation.
     
  7. audreymonroe

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    I don't think print is dead, or even dying as much as the media coverage makes it out to be. The only thing I really fear for are newspapers. But I don't see books, or even magazines, going anywhere anytime soon.

    I don't like e-readers, and barely see the point of them. I will almost certainly never own one. I've played with my friends', and using one so goes against the muscle memory I've been building up for my whole life that it's really unpleasant to use one. It's not just a preference for the tactile feeling of it, but that I'm so used to holding a book, and feeling its weight, and turning its pages, that being in the mindset of reading a book and not going through those motions was very uncomfortable. I also don't have anywhere near the attention span I have with reading something on a screen than I do with books. I get bored when blog posts are more than a few hundred words, so I can't imagine reading hundreds of pages on a screen. Even if I pretended I was, I know that my comprehension of it would be a minuscule of the percentage I'm capable of with books. Also, unlike an MP3 player, where it makes sense to have access to your entire music collection anywhere you go, I don't see the advantage of having the equivalent with books. Even if I'm reading a few books at once (which I'm usually doing) I can usually accurately predict which book I'll be in the mood for that day on my commute. And it's not like the e-reader saves space or is even that much lighter, except for hardcover books which are a bit larger. And there really is something pleasing about the visual of a book, and especially a collection of books.

    Not to mention how bookstores are one of my favorite places in the world. If I'm bored and don't have any plans for a day, nine times out of ten I'll pick out an independent bookstore or used bookstore and go over there and spend the afternoon just roaming and it is the best day ever.

    All this is to say that I think these are common enough opinions, and that enough people have similar opinions, that the industry will stay around.

    Although I am really curious, for all of those that didn't read books but are now e-book readers, what was it that attracted you to them and make you become a reader with them?
     
  8. KIMaster

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    I am absolutely in love with e-readers and reading from a computer monitor. I find it superior to a book, and so do many of my friends and relatives that read giant amounts.

    For starters, one thing I always hated was how tiny the font for certain books was. Well, on an e-reader, I can simply make it larger with a snap of the fingers. Even better, reading on a monitor is super convenient, as I have hundreds of books "sitting" on there, just waiting for consumption. On the other hand, how the hell would I store that many books in real life? Sadly, I live in a small apartment, and don't have my own study.

    I have physical books too, from the library and bookstore, but most of the ones I read are in a digital format on my laptop.

    On that note, I don't understand the point of Kindle. When you're on the go, a small book is way more convenient than an expansive contraption.

    Anyways, yes, I think bookstores will largely go out of business, partly because of e-readers, and partly because people read a lot less nowadays in general.
     
  9. Fracas

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    There are always unseen factors, and I'm not much good at predicting these things. The music industry forced CDs on consumers in a very contrived way that I never would have predicted - even if you think CDs are superior, it's odd to think the record biz was once powerful enough to make yuppies by all their old albums over again at a 50% markup.

    My personal preference is for books, for almost all the reasons already stated. I especially like taking lots of notes. (In fact, Mortimer Adler insists that this is the only proper way to read, in an essay that influenced me early.

    What I find more interesting are the ways written communication has changed because of computers and the different challenges they pose to the eyes and brain, and the factes of book-readin' that will be lost forever if/when the last book disintegrates. Serif fonts will be finished. Long, complex paragraphs will be threatened. I have a lot of great books on PDF, and although I think e-books are currently a shitty technology with massive opportunity for improvement, I'm glad to live in an age when I can read so much so conveniently.

    But I would not want to live in a world where the only literature left is whatever listicle will "pop" on Digg.
     
  10. KIMaster

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    Why?

    This is exactly the type of exaggerated, alarmist, unsupported claim that usually makes such topics so generic and content-less.

    Books going from paper to digital will not threaten the existence of literature any more than going from hand-written books to the printing press did.
     
  11. Fracas

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    I do a lot of copywriting for the 'net, and it's pretty well accepted that scanability means a hell of a lot more on-screen than it does in print. Short 'graphs. Break it into chunks. Numbered lists are good.

    Your mileage may vary. But people at large react differently to text in print and online, and it's not just marketers saying so. (There's a lot of conflicting academic research out there, if you're really fascinated by this, but I think the differences are fairly obvious.) They're different on eyes and brains, and e formats will continue to offer more and more tempting distractions from getting immersed in one self-contained work.

    That's not to say e-readers aren't awesome or won't get awesomer. I can see the advantages of, say, stuffing my whole collection into a backpack before my next move. Print will eventually become a largely obsolete niche thing, and I won't be bitching about it. Ashes to ashes and all that.

    With that last part, I was taking the piss. I'm confident we'll never be forced to read 19 Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber in lieu of Joyce. But I think it's interesting to speculate on how longform writing itself will change as it accomodates to computers and especially when it fully incorporates techniques like hyperlinking. I can't see everything staying the same.
     
  12. SwampDonkey

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    I've had my Kindle for a little over a year now and I love it.
    Pro's:
    I can't count how many times I've read a review of a book (many on here), and immediately downloaded it and started reading. Many times in the past I would hear about a book that interests me, and forget about it the next time I went to the book store. I read more often because of this. It is cheaper to buy hardcover new-releases on the Kindle than a physical book (~12$ compared to ~25$) Another thing I like is that I can hold it with one hand, and at odd positions while laying in bed, which would have been difficult with a regular book.

    Con's:As stated in another post, it is extremely difficult to skim through a book or find a specific spot. I read novels almost exclusively on my Kindle, but buy physical copies of science books (The Greatest Show on Earth-Richard Dawkins) and books where you can bounce around without missing anything (In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks-Adam Carolla)
     
  13. scotchcrotch

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    As the music industry taught us, you can't fight technology.

    E-readers will drop in price and become more natural to read from.
     
  14. KIMaster

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    Great...but what does copywriting have to do with serious novels?

    It's already changed and evolved a tremendous deal in the latter part of the 20th century. I'm not so sure hyperlinking is going to be incorporated into books, either; I find it annoying and distracting from the main text even when I read it on blogs.

    By the way, this reminds me of a story I read about Japanese cell phone novels (does hyperlinking here make me a dirty fucking hypocrite?), which can be seen as a new type of book technology.

    <a class="postlink" href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/20/world/asia/20japan.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/20/world ... japan.html</a>

    Fracas's gloom-and-doom outlook is prescient here.

    Cell phone novels are sleazy high school romances about a teenage Japanese chick who falls in love/gets raped by (it's all the same over there) a bad boy (dyed blonde hair, piercings, rude to his businessman father), and emotional melodrama ensues, usually with prostitution, pregnancy/abortion, and cartoonishly evil rival girls and guys.

    It's written by Japanese teen girls themselves as well as slightly older women, and is consumed by the same audience.

    You know...just like Twilight.
     
  15. Rick M

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    Whether or not print will die, I don't know, but I'm not sure I'd mind too much. I recognize that it's way more convenient for moving purposes to have my entire collection on one machine, but I haven't yet gotten a Kindle or anything else because I'm simply waiting for things to get improve even more.

    The way they release new "generations" of products just isn't for me (still got an original Ipod), so I'm waiting till the advances in things like the Kindle get so good that I can keep mine for many years. Mostly in terms of things such as the note taking and searchable text that have been mentioned above.

    The other problem I have with it is that my print book collection is already quite extensive. I'd like to see some sort of discount program where I could transfer these books to a Kindle at a lower cost than actually buying them again, but I realize that this is extremely unlikely to happen. Course, this may already exist and I just don't know about it.
     
  16. Volo

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    Haven't done much e-reading, and the couple times I have I've had serious headaches from staring at a bright white screen all day. Kinda turned me off of the whole thing. Perhaps things have changed, and better options are available, but it's hard to disassociate that kind of pain with something usually so pleasurable. That, and I generally don't care for a lot of new age technology, although that's just a personal thing.

    Anyways, I think the answer here is pretty obvious. Just like damn near every other medium, ever, the printed word will eventually get left behind, only to be picked up by some truly devoted individuals who will carve out a niche market. Books will be around, but not in the numbers we have now. Personally, I will still pay whatever price is necessary to keep my book collection growing. That's not to say that e-reading doesn't have its benefits, but I personally don't want anything to do with that movement.

    I also hope that libraries continue to stick around, no matter what happens.
     
  17. KIMaster

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    Well, except that this would buck every historical trend we've ever seen. Books are less popular nowadays, but there are MORE being written and published in some capacity now than ever before.

    Uh yeah, dude. I think those are pretty safe, for a plethora of reasons.
     
  18. cllrbone11

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    I really like having a physical book that I can hold in my hands and look at and lend to my friends. As a result I spend way too much money on books and rarely end up reading them all because I can't find the time. Like has been said, I liked having my bookshelves filled and like showing my collection to people because I'm proud of the collection I've gathered and because I like to lend my favorite books to friends who I think will appreciate them. I also like to dog-ear and write in my books.

    I've thought about getting an e-reader and probably will eventually get one. Though I like having all my books together and on my bookshelves, I can see how having your whole library on one device is useful, especially if you're traveling a lot. I'll be spending four months in Europe and am trying to figure out what books to bring and how much space I can afford to devote to these books, a problem I wouldn't be having if I had an e-reader.

    Something I think people will miss as e-readers gain popularity and start to replace books more and more is the ability to lend and borrow books from friends. I like lending books to my friends and I give them permission to dog-ear or write in them, and seeing what they thought was interesting in the book once they give is back helps me notice things I previously would not have and adds a separate story to the book itself. With e-readers reading is going to be more separated from other people than it currently is.
     
  19. KIMaster

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    Wow, after reading cllrbone11's post, I suddenly realized I didn't know what the hell e-book readers were! I just thought they were a simple program installed on your computer to read books. Turns out, they're an electronic device to carry with you, similar to Kindle.

    At home, reading off a computer monitor is optimal for me. Outside, I'll just bring along some paperback.
     
  20. cllrbone11

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    Guess I'll stick with my stone tablets and leave the technology stuff to the grown ups.