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Old 03-18-2016   #31
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Re: Print vs. EBooks

Quote Originally Posted by qcrisp View Post
One thing I dislike about much of what has happened in the past ten years (in the publishing and writing scenes) is the shift of emphasis from literature as a sanctuary from the world, to literature as just another colony of the allied forces of consumerism and technology (in other words, literature is pushed to the periphery of its own world). For the most part, literature is not shoved in anyone's face. Technology, routinely, is.
Have you seen the following? It's worth reading (which I just did myself -- digitally).

The novel is, and has always been, a moving target. Once a popular idea about its inner nature or social function takes root, some novelists at least can be relied upon to resist it. The choice of monologue over character perspective, or self-display over empathic connection, is such a refusal. It imagines a different task than the one implied by Rorty’s theory of the novel, of providing communitarian glue, of encouraging the comforting acceptance of difference. Instead, it imagines teaching us how to be separate. We read alone, our received story goes, in order to conjure up what others are like and to soothe our isolation. But if we are not isolated? If we are now relentlessly connected, every marginal identity gaining collective recognition, becoming assimilated, ever more rapidly? If that is where we stand, then something like a stubbornly solitary voice may be welcome, even necessary, telling us that what it means to be human—and what may keep us human—is to feel alone in a strange room, with our seclusion the thing that defines and can save us.

-- "The New Fiction of Solitude," The Atlantic, April 2016

On the subject of ebooks vs. paper books when it comes to the relative durability of the medium, my own thoughts have been influenced by Richard Heinberg's cogent reflections on the matter as it relates to the broad subject of cultural transmission and preservation:

Ultimately the entire project of digitized cultural preservation depends on one thing: electricity. As soon as the power goes off, access to the Internet goes down. CDs and DVDs become meaningless plastic disks; e-books become inscrutable and useless; digital archives become as illegible as cuneiform tablets—or more so. Altogether, digitization represents a huge bet on society’s ability to keep the lights on forever.

Without precious kilowatts, what would survive? Sculpture and architecture would persist. Previous generations of sound and visual media might be decipherable: old phonograph records could still be made to emit music, given a hand crank, needle, and megaphone, and silent films would be relatively easy to show. Books and collections of physical newspapers and magazines would fare reasonably well for a few decades, but deteriorating acid-laden paper threatens the survival of about 85 percent of books and nearly 100 percent of newspapers and magazines (ancient books written on parchment and acid-free paper could last many more centuries).

It’s ironic to think that the cave paintings of Lascaux may be far more durable than the photos from the Hubble space telescope.

Altogether, if the lights were to go out now, in just a century or two the vast majority of our recently recorded knowledge would be gone or inaccessible. . . .

[F]or librarians the message could not be clearer: Don’t let books die. It’s understandable that librarians spend much effort trying to keep up with the digital revolution in information storage and retrieval: their main duty is to serve their community as it is, not a community that existed decades ago or one that may exist decades hence. Yet the thought that they may be making the materials they are trying to preserve ever more vulnerable to loss should be cause for pause.

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Old 03-18-2016   #32
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Re: Print vs. EBooks

As a regular purchaser of ebooks I can think of many reasons why they're convenient, from availability (maybe even the paperback is out of print) to price (maybe the shipping costs double than the book). But I don't think anyone actually finds them preferable to the real thing.

Justin is right that ebooks present a lot of problems in terms of formatting and content. That said, I think the physical books can also be problematic. A good book is more than the content; there has to be a balance to all its elements, from the proofreading to the typesetting (font, line height, number of lines per page, margins, et al) to the binding. If all someone cares about is the content, then they might as well just get the ebook! It pains me to say that some books I've bought by authors I admire and with superb content are, well, less than ideal in terms of design. Tacky fonts, ridiculously huge indents, the tiniest margins, no hyphenation* not even when it creates troublesome lines (i.e. a line consisting of only four or five long words with a lot of empty space inbetween), not using smallcaps (or using fake smallcaps... not all types are designed with such feature), questionable design choices—like, off the top of my head, SETTING A DEFAULT NUMBER OF (SMALL)CAPS AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH chapter even if they cut off mid sentence. And many more.

I realize taking all this into consideraion is time (and money) consuming, particularly for smaller presses, and that, well, not everyone is aiming to make gorgeous editions like Egaeus or Centipede. But, if the idea is to make books more valuable than their digital counterpart, then some thought and work must be put into them. If both the ebook and the paper/hardback are hastily put together, then, well, that doesn't help much, does it.

But that was probably a rant for a different thread...

*English hyphenation is very tricky, since the words have to be broken up etymologically. In Spanish, for instance, the division is syllabic so even a monkey could do it.
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Old 03-18-2016   #33
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Re: Print vs. EBooks

Quote Originally Posted by ramonoski View Post
But that was probably a rant for a different thread...
It was a fine rant nonetheless.

Speaking of ebooks, I should specify that I own, and enjoy, a Kindle Paperwhite. It actually delivers a decent reading experience. But I use it almost exclusively for "disposable" reading consisting of articles and essays found on the Internet and send to the device, which allows me encompass a far wider swath of material in my reading than I could access by print alone, even as its e-ink design frees me up from backlit screens. So I definitely recognize and enjoy the benefits that can be offered by digital reading devices, even as I continue to prefer by a vast margin the physical book over its digitally luminous facsimile. Regarding which, John David Ebert is keenly insightful in his book The New Media Invasion: Digital Technologies and the World They Unmake on the subject of the luminous, dreamlike nature of the the virtual world we're creating with our current technologies that effectively dematerialize physical reality into a virtual/digital copy.

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Old 03-19-2016   #34
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Re: Print vs. EBooks

Almost all the fancy tech I own I have got it as gifts from my family; ipods, ipads and kindles. I'm not one to spend money on that, but when the gizmo is given to me, I make the best out of it. I own a kindle, and honestly, I don't mind reading on it if I haven't been able to find a book I am looking for. I even read Justin's first short story collection there.

Like many, I prefer printed books, and I have a growing library that I take pride on. But sometimes I do go back to the kindle. I own some titles from Tartarus press in my unit because the physical ones are so limited and hard to come by here in Spain, and ordering them is out of the question, considering some of the horrible experiences I have had.

However I agree with what has been said regarding a book's format. Today I bought a beautifully illustrated hardcover edition of Lautremont's Chants de Maldoror that Valdemar (the same guys who publish Ligotti in Spanish) recently released. I can't imagine how horrid that book would be in digital format.

Anyway, people die...
-Current 93

I am simply an accident. Why take it all so seriously?
-Emil Cioran
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Old 03-21-2016   #35
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Re: Print vs. EBooks

A couple of articles that seem relevant:

"As the Director of one of the five greatest museums in our Eastern States has more than once remarked to me, From the Stone Age until now, what a decline!" - Ananda Coomaraswamy
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ebooks, print

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