Saturday, January 29, 2011


Alan is happy that dead tree books are dying and, honestly, I agree with the sentiment. Gone will be the days of dumpsters full of throwaway paperbacks and libraries monopolized by multiple copies of the newest James Patterson. Soon (and once again) books will be treasured works of art made by skilled craftsmen, pop-up engineers, and master bookbinders.* They will be placed with care on shelves in homes and libraries and will be passed down through generations. Book burning will have real meaning again.

*here's a video to show you what I mean.


Borepatch said...

What I worry about is changing file formats, with older ebooks gradually becoming unreadable because "newer and better" technology takes over the market.

I have some old 5.25' floppy disks in my basement (or did until our recent move). They had real data on them, but they were unreadable because there were no 5.25' floppy disk drives.

I suspect that a whole bunch of ebooks will no longer be readable in 10 years time.

Alan said...

There will always be ways to convert formats. It's still just text.

Even the "DRM" files are trivially easy to convert to something else.

Chad said...

If there was a system used where I kept control of my digital library, I'd be all for it.
But how long until a digital book gets banned by law, and within seconds it has disappeared completely from everyone's digital interface.

JP said...

Baen and it's html versions are my main source, but I finally broke down and got reading glasses (Besides, Breda forced me to by that Lego gun book a while back. Hed to be able to read it), so I guess a Hard Cover of certain favorites will be in order.

I'd like to try Binding some time. But there are many things I'd like to try and have not the space, Time, or skill often enough, to do them.

JP said...

er, Chad..the gov't can't keep crackers and Script Kiddies from plaguing the 'net with malware and viruses, what makes you think they are competent enough to erase files saved on CDs and DVDs?

Borepatch said...

JP, a cynic might say that the Fed.Gov is not strongly motivated to keep crackers and s'kiddies off the Internet. A cynic might also say that the Fed.Gov (or other govs) might be strongly motivated to disappear certain books.

Boy, howdy - I sure am glad that I'm not a cynic ...

Justin Unbounded said...

Breda, I remarked to a librarian friend of mine a couple of years ago that as a technology, the library is obsolete and that libraries would only remain for those who would actually want to hold a paper book in their hands. My friend didn't react well. I take it by your post that you agree.

MSgt said...

You're not alone, Breda.

I asked for and got this for Christmas. It's a keeper.

Roberta X said...

So, Alan, you read that thing in the hot tub?

....There are apps where the cheap paperback book is the best tool for the job.

Ed Rasimus said...

I don't fear changing e-file formats. They don't come overnight and transport is simple to the new medium.

More insidious is the limitation implied by "books" reverting to the historical "manuscript" (in the literal sense). Leather bound, illuminated volumes, jealously guarded by a nomenklatura and denied to the common man who is viewed as lacking the intellect to appreciate and understand them.

Can the Inquisition be far behind?

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

Chad: Check out Calibre. It's free, open-source, and works in Winblows, Mac, and Linux. It lets you manage and convert ebook files in about 28 different formats, including the currently most common ones.

I also keep copies of all the books I've downloaded to my Nook on my computer, just in case - it's easy, since my computer sees it as just another USB storage device. Of course, I tend to also buy a dead-tree version later anyway, because I just like the idea of having a real book - no e-ink could ever copy the feel and smell of ink on paper.

If the .gov decides to ban a book, I'm sure I could just look up how to kill the DRM and make a copy under another file name to use. Alternatively, a DRM-free would surely spring up all over the internet practically overnight if that were to happen.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

On the other hand, I hope our future also has a place for printing books on demand:

I like the experience of reading on paper, and this makes all the digitized history and specialty books available as an ebook - or as a pulp book for me to haul around and read.

Geodkyt said...

I tend to end up coverting any digital text I intend to keep and repeatedly read to PDF. (Or if its a Baen work or similar, buying a dead tree copy, because I don't like reading on screen. I even print out PDFs like RAND reports, just because I prefer reading paper.)

The problem is if future e-books are only available in a digital format that is not "stand aloe", but requires a live link to an authentication source to display.

But I have yet to see a format that prohibits my saving of screen shots and then running those through an OCR program for translation into a searchable PDF. (A bit clunky for works longer than a page or two, but still possible, if someone is motivated enough.)

Mark said...

Kindle early adopter here, had one for over two years now. When my wife first suggested getting me one for my birthday I said no, didn't want one, I like books. Then she did buy me one a few months later (when Oprah (spit) had her discount on them), and I haven't bought a dead-tree book since, this from someone who used to buy three or four books a week. I no longer have to consider the size of a book (I commute by public transportation), I can keep multiple books going at one time, I don't have to choose between the big, heavy, expensive hardcover book with readable print and the small, light, cheap paperback I need a magnifying glass to read.

I learned that I don't so much love books as love to read.

My wife bought herself a (much smaller and cheaper) Kindle last week, so we're now a two-Kindle household. Oh, for the record, this is the first time I've EVER been an early adopter of any new tech, I've always stayed a generation or two back to give them time to work out the bugs.

John B said...

Ah memories of when I was a sweet young thing. I looked a lot like that bearded child in the video. Back when I bound books.

As you say dear, the newest and wowest James Patterson isn't worth immortalizing in this fashion. Apparently, they aren't even worth the level of binding a cheap note pad gets. Once every two or three years, I trot out my most recent paperbacks, and set up my garage to re-bind them. Books published in the 50's or 60's could be stored in an un-heated garage for 10-15 years, and still have integrity. Sometime in the 70's, when prices went above a dollar, the binding process of paperbacks went to hell.

I found out my college instructors were impressed by fancy binding, so I turned in all my papers looking like they were ready to shelve in a library.

I have a tome in my library, that contains everything I ever originated in six years of college.

It's right here with the Louis L'Amour leather-bound westerns. I'd say it's the most worthless pap ever published in hand tooled leather, except I couldn't hope to compete with the pros.

It's fair enough to say, it never would have been published unless I did it myself. A limited edition run of five. Two of which I still have. One each is in the libraries of my two universities, I attended. One is in the custody of the Chemical Dependency head of studies at SFCC. She reads it annually to check for plaguerism in students' papers.

How about it Breda? Care to read the arguably most boring book in existence? I just couldn't give it the punch that Alexandre Dumas or Miguel de Cervantes could have.

Of course if those two had to slog through six years of American College, they probably would have become raving loons!