Archives
Sep 1999
Oct 1999
Nov 1999
Dec 1999
Jan 2000
Feb 2000
Mar 2000
Apr 2000
May 2000
Jun 2000
Jul 2000
Aug 2000
Sep 2000
Oct 2000
Nov 2000
Dec 2000
Jan 2001
Feb 2001
Mar 2001
Apr 2001
May 2001
Jun 2001
Jul 2001
Aug 2001
Sep 2001
Oct 2001
Nov 2001
Dec 2001
Jan 2002
Feb 2002
Mar 2002
Apr 2002
May 2002
Jun 2002
Jul 2002
Aug 2002
Sep 2002
Oct 2002
Nov 2002
Dec 2002
Jan 2003
Feb 2003
Mar 2003
Apr 2003
May 2003
Jun 2003
Jul 2003
Aug 2003
Sep 2003
Oct 2003
Nov 2003
Dec 2003
Jan 2004
Feb 2004
Mar 2004
Apr 2004
May 2004
Jun 2004
Jul 2004
Aug 2004
Sep 2004
Oct 2004
Nov 2004
Dec 2004
Jan 2005
Feb 2005
Mar 2005
Apr 2005
May 2005
Jun 2005
Jul 2005
Aug 2005
Sep 2005
Oct 2005
Nov 2005
Dec 2005
Jan 2006
Feb 2006
Mar 2006
Apr 2006
May 2006
Jun 2006
Jul 2006
Aug 2006
Sep 2006
Oct 2006
Nov 2006
Dec 2006
Jan 2007
Feb 2007
Mar 2007
Apr 2007
May 2007
Jun 2007
Jul 2007
Aug 2007
Sep 2007
Oct 2007
Nov 2007
Dec 2007
Jan 2008
Feb 2008
Mar 2008
Apr 2008
May 2008
Jun 2008
Jul 2008
Aug 2008
Sep 2008
Oct 2008
Nov 2008
Dec 2008
Jan 2009
Feb 2009
Mar 2009
Apr 2009
May 2009
Jun 2009
Jul 2009
Aug 2009
Sep 2009
Oct 2009
Nov 2009
Dec 2009
Jan 2010
Aug 2010
Sep 2010
Oct 2010
Nov 2010
Dec 2010
Feb 2011
Mar 2011
Apr 2011
May 2011
Sep 2011
Oct 2011
Nov 2011
Feb 2012
Mar 2012
May 2012
Apr 2023
May 2023

May
15
2005
You know, programming probably isn't the best career choice for myself. I've always been a visual, tactile person - I fared better at geometry than calculus, chemistry lab than physics papers, because there's something that can be visualised in the real world, maybe even actualized so I can pick it up, turn it around, and look at it from all sides. Trying to imagine all sides -- especially if it's something that can't exist in reality as we know it -- is something I've had some difficulty with.

As I've probably mentioned, I've been a book person for forever. Reading at an early age, I've always surrounded myself with ink-on-paper texts. Again, it's the tactile feature of it. Books-on-tape confuse me; I tune it out. I can't more than a few paragraphs at a time off of a monitor, because it's so uncomfortable to do.

Portable EBook readers don't appeal to me. How can you flip a couple pages back, stick a finger in there to hold the place, then flip a couple pages more, to go over what happened? What could be easier than sticking whatever piece of paper on-hand in as a place-marker? Just carrying one around is more cumbersome, heavier, and unwieldly compared to a plain old book. The fear of breaking it alone is enough to discourage me from wanting to carry one around on the random chance I get an opportunity to sit and read. There's the smell of the paper, the feel of the page edges against the thumb as you hold the book in the only comfortable position you can sit. Ebook readers I've seen aren't quite so friendly with viewing angles and the ability to run the controls. It's really easy to run every single control on a paper book, from any angle and even one-handed.

In this month's Fine Books & Collections magazine, there's an article on Google's book search features. that dwells less on Google's technology and more on the future of books themselves.

One feature someone suggested -that completely flew by me - is the possiiblity of Google entering the same market as us by offering Print-On-Demand versions of their scanned books. It's an interesting idea -- searchers can find exactly the information they want, then order the book it originates from. Amazon is probably drooling at the mouth for such capabilities, and their recent acquision of a POD publisher make it more likely they reach this capability sooner. I'm not completely convinced Google would do this, though: they tend to sell services more than products, so unless they teamed up with a POD service to handle every aspect of the fulfillment, it probably wouldn't be to their advantage. Let's just hope they scan the books our business is selling, so people go hit Froogle once Google tells them the title they're looking for.

Bookseller John Durham of Bolerium Books in San Francisco had a quote that explains some of my fetishist desires for real books. He says, "The market will still be there for a certain segment who wants to possess the physical object." When you consider a webpage, is there anything actually there? From a quantum standpoint, does it even exist before it's interpreted, analyzed, converted and adapted by a long list of computer programs from the server to the PC? Books can be owned; electronic data is stored.

Richard Ring, librarian at John Carter Brown Library, said, he has "an inherent distrust for online systems. When the system goes down, it's gone. It's the ultimate ephemera."

Magazines and books can still fit the ephemera mold. Some books were only printed in runs of a thousand, maybe only a couple hundred, before the type was broken up and the printing methodology lost. As those books deteriorate and are destroyed, eventually they won't exist any more. Intel was willing to pay $10,000 for a magazine that wasn't very old, on a paper scale, because so few ever survived the past decades.

(D mocks my stacks of magazines; I've destroyed many, shredding them as packing material, but quite a few lie around here in loosely organized piles. I still read them, really I do.)

Books and magazines still last longer than electronic data. Heck, we had a tough time finding a way to read MSWorks files created six months ago, after a software upgrade. And, besides the value of compatibility, people have been trained to assign value to books. A binding company I once had contact with encouraged businesses to put everything they send to customers in a hard cover, to make it appear booklike. Even if it's a price quote, it will end up on someone's shelf. Who in their right mind throws away a book? We didn't buy their binding equipment, but this lesson stuck with me. Unconsiously, people have a special place in their hearts for books, no matter what's in them.

In the early 20th century, a new publishing industry popped up offering real books - paperbacks - for a quarter each. They were sold in non-bookstore environments, like five-and-dimes and department stores. Other publishers didn't believe they could make money off such a discounted book, others worried it would dilute their market, but in the end the publishing industry remained strong, with many of the "greatest American works" occuring in the 20th century. Book adaptations still dominate high-rated TV shows and films. People want books. There's no disputing that. The market has changed; book sellers are finding themselves overpriced, compared to what buyers will pay, but the market will change to accomodate it. Small publishers (like us) are even demonstrating profitability beyond what's been predicted.

So, I happily expect the next fifty years (and more) years of my life to continue to be full of paper and cardboard, impressed with all the known letters and characters, combined in recognizeable patterns for easy interpretation of the data. Centuries have proven that having one of these in-hand is far more efficient -- and enjoyable -- than any other delivery method. For a guy like me who needs to hold information in his hands, it should be good.

No comments at this time.


Your Name:
Email:
Webpage:
Your comment:



blog advertising is good for you
Looking For "Wookies"?