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Why Beatrix Potter Would Love a Digital Reader 98

Posted by timothy
from the bunny-centerfold dept.
destinyland writes "In 1906, children's book author Beatrix Potter tried creating her own new, non-book format for delivering her famous fairy tales. 'Intended for babies and tots, the story was originally published on a strip of paper that was folded into a wallet, closed with a flap, and tied with a ribbon.' This article includes a link to actual images from one of Potter's strange wallet-sized stories — 'The Story of A Fierce, Bad Rabbit' — plus an image showing you exactly what Beatrix Potter thought 'a fierce, bad rabbit' would look like!"
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Why Beatrix Potter Would Love a Digital Reader

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  • huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:11PM (#32479288)
    err okay. Who cares?
    • Re:huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Okonomiyaki (662220) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:20PM (#32479338) Homepage

      Nobody. But if anyone did, they'd immediately find the premise of the article ridiculous. Good luck teaching a baby to use a Kindle. Also, I doubt babies would be interested in monochrome rabbits.

      I used to have an ereader, not a kindle but similar, and I liked it a lot until it broke. But I really don't see why anyone would choose a kindle or similar device over an iPad. Am I missing something?

      • Re:huh? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Lunatrik (1136121) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:28PM (#32479394)
        E-ink for me, but I think I might be in a minority. LED reading for >3 hours gives me a heck of a headache....
        • Re:huh? (Score:5, Funny)

          by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @09:14PM (#32479912)
          There's actually a setting on the iPad to increase the power of the Reality Distortion Field (TM). Once it's up high enough you won't even notice the eye strain.
          • I'm not entirely convinced that a backlit screen causes as much eye strain as people think. It may sound strange, but I think part of the blame is on badly rendered fonts. I rarely, if ever, get eye strain reading text on a Mac or iPod but chunky Windows fonts will do it to me. Or maybe it's just psychological...

            • I rarely, if ever, get eye strain reading text on a Mac or iPod but chunky Windows fonts will do it to me

              you have the Reality Distortion Field (TM) increased to the proper levels then. This feature, admittedly, is broken on all Windows machines, but hey, some see this as a feature.

            • That's certainly part of it. Actually, it's not the bad rendering so much as the bad kerning. I have one eBook which is particularly engrossing in terms of content but the typography is horrendous. I start to feel tired after reading it for more than about half an hour (on an eInk device), while I don't have the same problem with anything else read from the same gadget.

              The backlight is definitely part of it though. It's much easier to read a PDF from the eInk device than from my Nokia 770, in spite o

      • Re:huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Aladrin (926209) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:36PM (#32479440)

        I don't know about the kindle, but an iPhone doesn't seem to be too hard. I was at a theme park the other day and the guy in front of my was carrying a baby that couldn't talk yet. It was holding his iPhone and I watched the baby repeated slide-unlock his iPhone, then wait for it to reset, and hit the button and unlock it again. Granted, it didn't manage to get the slide-unlock every time. It took about 4 tries. But there was no doubt that the kid had a good handle on what it was doing.

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Yeah, my nephew was a master of the iPhone by about 1.5. What did confuse him though was the screenshot of the iPhone screen in my photo collection. The image just kept zooming in and out as he tried to click the icons.

        • My three year old loves the damn thing, and he's savvy enough to get out of whatever game I want him to be in, and start up other stuff...Had to turn the sound on so I'd know when "Angry Birds" became "Assassins Creed"

          Say what you will about Apple, the fricking UI is intuitive to toddlers. I mean, jesus christ!

      • Re:huh? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @08:00PM (#32479564)

        But I really don't see why anyone would choose a kindle or similar device over an iPad. Am I missing something?

        E-ink. Really, its a lot nicer on the eyes than an LCD, yeah, some people can stare at text on an LCD with no problem, but for me, I tend to get headaches staring at an LCD for too long. I can handle short articles, videos, etc. just fine but when I read a large wall of text that takes more than 15 minutes to read, I tend to get a headache.

        Plus, iPads are completely overpriced, you can get a cheap E-reader for $130 and a great one for $250, a cheap laptop for $350 and a great one for $500. With an iPad you have none of the benefits of E-ink nor the benefits of a real laptop.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by maxume (22995)

          Exactly. Why would I buy a Sony Reader rather than an Ipad? $350 of beer.

        • E-ink. Really, its a lot nicer on the eyes than an LCD, yeah, some people can stare at text on an LCD with no problem, but for me, I tend to get headaches staring at an LCD for too long.

          This is completely ridiculous. Exactly how do your eyes know the difference between reflected photons and backlit photons? Do the reflected photons go into your eyes in an "easier" way? If you're having trouble with an LCD, then TURN DOWN THE BRIGHTNESS to the level of a book. You are allowed to, you know.

          I was having thi

          • by jesset77 (759149)

            This is completely ridiculous. Exactly how do your eyes know the difference between reflected photons and backlit photons?

            It's a matter of how badly your eyes have to hurt themselves in order to gather the photons required to view the text. That's how they can "tell the difference".

            The major optical difference between an LCD screen and a standard book is that the pages of a book are single, bleached, refractive surfaces with dark pigment over the letters and illustrations. No matter how much you want to believe than an LCD is identical, it is not. An LCD is instead much closer to shining a flashlight through the back of a tran

            • Sorry for the delay in answering your post. There's a lot I could extract, but I'll focus on this as representative...

              ...and through the LCD pane again (so every darkened LCD pixel has a distracting offset-shadow) and through the front pane again, The first two passes of reflection generate a noiseful glare that books do not have, reflecting light into your face that does not represent the intended image, and two more passes of partial reflection occur as light exists the LCD panel which simply creates int

              • by jesset77 (759149)

                This is all hand-waving nonsense. Photons don't know remember their own history.

                But I said nothing about photons knowing or remembering their history. I am talking about large groups of photons passing through 4 reflective surfaces. Some pass through at each stage and some reflect. Each group of photons which reflect when they are not supposed to generates visual noise. Your eyes see glare and reflection at stages when they should be seeing the image represented by the pixels.

                Try looking into a pond [asfm.edu.mx]. Do you see the fish, plants and rocks under the water? Do you see reflections of the s

      • Re:huh? (Score:5, Funny)

        by greenguy (162630) <estebandidoNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday June 06, 2010 @08:42PM (#32479740) Homepage Journal

        Also, I doubt babies would be interested in monochrome rabbits.

        Actually, for their first several months, babies prefer black and white to color. As a proud new papa, I can assure you it's true.

        With that in mind, I thought for a long time that it was dumb that more baby stuff didn't come in black and white, instead of all these pastels. Then I figured out: spit-up washes out of pastels easier than black and white.

        In much the same vein, I strongly suspect spit-up washes out of a pamphlet-book more easily than a digital reader.

      • Re:huh? (Score:5, Informative)

        by DeadboltX (751907) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @08:45PM (#32479754)
        Kindle is for reading books. iPad is for multimedia entertainment.

        Reading a novel for hours on a backlit screen makes my eyes feel like they are bleeding. Even a half hour before bedtime will keep my head buzzing enough to where it is more difficult to get to sleep, and decrease the quality of the sleep.

        E-Paper devices are perfect for reading because they are not backlit and reflect natural light almost like paper, so it is readable anywhere paper is readable (Try reading an iPad on a sunny day at the beach...)
      • Epic Fail... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by thesupraman (179040) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @09:28PM (#32479966)

        These people obviously dont have young children.

        Young children dont *read* books, that is about the 5th to 6th use of them.
        #1 is they eat books (chew on them whenever possible)
        #2 is they use books as hammers (apparently hitting things with large flat objects is fun!)
        #3 is they throw them the moment they are more than 5 inches above the ground

        Can someone lend me a kindle (/ipad/whatever) and a stopwatch? I have an experiment in mind...

        I suspect Ms.Potters idea was more about making books MORE disposable, not less (the foldups could be printed more cheaply, as no binding).

        • by Gulthek (12570)

          Young children also shouldn't be generalized I guess. My two year old uses books for reading.

          Getting back to the article, he also finds the iPad highly enjoyable, but not as a book reader. Fish pond is the favorite there.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by thesupraman (179040)

            Sigh, does your two year old use books ONLY for reading?

            as I pointing out, reading does come on the list, its just not always at the top, and children
            certainly dont treat delicate electronic devices with respect that their cost and complexity
            would warrant.

            Or do you disagree with that?

            It is quite obvious that Ms.Potters approach to making a book was exactly the opposite of an e-book....

        • by delinear (991444)
          I think you're spot on - making books incredibly cheap so that people could give them to children without having to worry if they got destroyed definitely seems to be the goal, here, possibly with the secondary goal that it's easier for little fingers to manipulate than pages. TFA's assumption that, because Potter was experimenting with a different format, she would automatically embrace digital readers seems a bit of a stretch to say the least. Maybe she'd be one of the people who think digital readers are
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Abraxas26 (68609)

          Respect for books(and electronics) is something that must be taught. Since young children are fantastic at mimicry the best way to teach them is by example. Read with them, flip the pages, encourage them to treat the book gently. If they want to throw something give them a ball. If they want to hit something give them a pot and a wooden spoon. If the child insists on treating the book badly then take it away and don't give it back until they finish crying. If you teach respect for books then your electro

          • by operagost (62405)

            If they want to hit something give them a pot and a wooden spoon.

            Heh heh heh... Well, I'd recommend a drum: preferably a rubber-head one that doesn't get very loud.

      • by joe_kull (238178)

        Battery life.

      • by sqldr (838964)

        No, this is headline news... "woman might like ipad if they existed"

      • Interesting...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) *

        It's even more amusing if you know why she wanted the weird format in the first place: it was so the "book" could be printed in fewer runs through the press, so she could have color on more pages, and still be affordable.

        So yea, she'd have hated the Kindle. I personally hate the Kindle because it's a single function device, and because the ebook format is still so overpriced.

      • by nobodie (1555367)
        well i own 3 e-readers with e-ink and actually seldom read books any other way. I find that reading on an LED/LCD/ backlit screen of any kind is really uncomfortable for the kind of reading that I do. (relaxed pleasure reading where i like to carry the "book" with me various places through my day). I really am surprised by the iPad success, but i live in China and we lack two things here (no, not the iPad) the constant barrage of unpaid media hype about Apple products together with the Apple zealots who con
    • by rjames13 (1178191)
      Benjamin bunny.
  • WTF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Shouldn't this be in idle?
  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BonquiquiShiquavius (1598579) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:17PM (#32479324) Journal
    Maybe I'm missing something, but what is the link between publishing a book in a pamphlet style and a love for digital readers?
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JeffSh (71237) <[gro.0m0m] [ta] [todhsalsffej]> on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:19PM (#32479336)

      What he said, tenuous link at best. slow news day, stupid conclusions, etc etc.

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:21PM (#32479350)
      Exactly. It appears that Ms. Potter wanted a different experience for the readers, one that included a very tactile experience. That's the exact opposite of a digital reader.
      • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jd (1658) <imipak@nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Sunday June 06, 2010 @09:27PM (#32479964) Homepage Journal

        Beatrix Potter was clearly interested in the telling of stories and was including the medium as part of the story, not something independent and transposable. As best as I can tell, it relates to eBooks only in that Beatrix would have used eBooks for stories that called specifically for an eBook format. In other words, she would neither be afraid of the format NOR use it merely because it existed. If it would be important, it would be used. If it wouldn't be important, it wouldn't be used. Since I cannot see any way in which it could be important to any of her work, I can't see any circumstance in which she would prefer it.

        (Considering the medium to be intrinsic is very alien to much of modern thinking, which portrays the medium as merely the mechanism by which information is delivered, not information in is own right, or metadata for the interpreting of information.)

        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Actually, no. There's a lot of contemporary literary theory (especially in New Historicist circles) that considers the degree to which the medium can contribute to the overall effect of a book. Even 20 years ago, I took a class in which we discussed at length how the material characteristics of "A Christmas Carol" interacted with the text (the first edition was deliberately designed as a Christmas gift, with cloth covers with gilt lettering and green endpapers and illustrations - http://www.gutenberg.org/f

      • It's not even new, and Potter probably knew that as well. The Aztecs and the Maya both made books exactly this way. If you have foldable paper -- which the Mesoamerican cultures had, in contradistinction to the papyrus and parchment using classical western civilizations -- it's either that or unwieldy scrolls. The postclassical codex style of book is actually very complex and labor-intensive to make, at least prior to industrialization and the availability of modern polymer adhesives.

      • Reading accessible to the masses. Hence, economical formats. ebooks are the most economical kinds of books ever produced by civilization.
        • by delinear (991444)
          Economical? I can almost always find a real world version of a book cheaper (sometimes considerably cheaper, especially if you bring used bookstores into the equation) than the ebook version, even though the ebook has virtually zero production and distribution costs in comparison. To me, ebooks are the opposite of an economically accessible format, and that's before you even discount the pricey reader and the fact that you lose the intrinsic value that a physical book maintains (i.e. there will always be so
    • Maybe I'm missing something, but what is the link between publishing a book in a pamphlet style and a love for digital readers?

      It's what you get when you combine a revolution with a little magic.

      TA-DA!

    • by ascari (1400977)

      published on a strip of paper that was folded into a wallet, closed with a flap, and tied with a ribbon

      Wow! That sounds just like my kindle! Old Betty P. was lightyears ahead of her time!

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      She tried to sue used book stores out of existence and lobbied against public libraries.

    • Maybe I'm missing something, but what is the link between publishing a book in a pamphlet style and a love for digital readers?

      It's a leap, but it's not as big as you think. It's not so much that Beatrix Potter was pining away for the day when you could have a book that changed what its only page looked like rather than having to flip pages. It's that she conceived of another way of presenting the story other than the conventional book form, and that shows she was more likely to embrace other non-conventional forms.

      To belabor the point a bit, it might be worth noting that the form she chose is at least marginally more portable and multifunctional to boot.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        t's a leap, but it's not as big as you think. It's not so much that Beatrix Potter was pining away for the day when you could have a book that changed what its only page looked like rather than having to flip pages. It's that she conceived of another way of presenting the story other than the conventional book form, and that shows she was more likely to embrace other non-conventional forms.

        It's a bigger leap than you are making it out to be.

        Potter simply understood that children experience books more from a tactile standpoint, as opposed to adults who approach them primarily from a visual standpoint. All of her 'alternate' book formats were designed to appeal to young children's tactile needs, as opposed to simply being a medium which conveys information.

        So it's highly unlikely she would have bothered with any kind of e-reader at all, unless someone released one which could be chewed, bitten,

        • by expatriot (903070)

          Mainly Potter was interested in money. Although her illustrations were cute, she was a money grubbing monster.

    • Maybe I'm missing something, but what is the link between publishing a book in a pamphlet style and a love for digital readers?

      Ladies and gentlemen, this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a... hey, where were you going? I was going to help you make sense of things here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jmichaelg (148257)

      You missed that it was a Timothy post. He tends to fall for PR flak nonsense.

    • Maybe I'm missing something, but what is the link between publishing a book in a pamphlet style and a love for digital readers?

      The amazing ability of a fanboy to twist any subject to be about their object of devotion. The only reason it wasn't "Why Beatrix Potter would love an iPad" was because it was written by a Kindle fanboy.

  • This article should have been titled:

    Bunny say no hav carret! LOL

    Maybe then the story would have been marked as binspam.

    • by AdamHaun (43173)

      It should have been titled "Glorified Wikipedia Link". Seriously, there's nothing else in the blog entry but a link to the Kindle versions of Beatrix Potter stories, which makes this a slashvertisement.

  • Uh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:31PM (#32479404)

    What're you doing with that carrot [wordpress.com], Peter. No, wait, no, seriously, man, ...

  • Zappa (Score:5, Funny)

    by dn15 (735502) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:32PM (#32479412)

    In related news experts say Frank Zappa would have used Linux.

  • by heptapod (243146) <heptapod@gmail.com> on Sunday June 06, 2010 @08:19PM (#32479666) Journal

    Oh Amazon! I may be a luddite but at least my books will still function after the collapse of civilization.

    I know with my books I can bump them, drop them, get them wet (protip: freeze wet books so they dry out and don't puff up) and even SHARE them with other people. Sadly they're not fireproof.

    With a kindle I have a single electronic gadget full of books that Amazon and publishers can recall at any time for any reason [slashdot.org].

    Beatrix Potter's book 'alternative', and calling it an alternative is quite a stretch but anything's possible if you pay off the right blogs, has all of the flexibility of the dead tree format and none of the drawbacks of some proprietary e-format laden with DRM.

    She was being creative and nowhere near trying to introduce a new format which would supercede a content delivery system which has been proven over the course of centuries not a mere handful of years.

    • by mark-t (151149)

      "I know with my books I can bump them, drop them, get them wet ... Sadly they're not fireproof."

      It's actually entirely theoretically possible for an ebook to be rugged enough to survive all of these circumstances as well, although the market for the necessary robustness is unlikely to be high enough anytime in the near future to drive the extra costs involved down to a point where it is economically practical to sell commercially at a price point that would be tolerated by most people. Of course, that's

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Got a book wet once. Used a hair dryer on it and then ironed it on the lowest setting. Now I can't remember which book it was, I can't tell.

    • The new digital world is pervasive and more permanent than you could ever imagine. In a world of 6 plus billion people, the only way for everyone to have access to books, literature, everything written down by the humans for the past 10,000 years is through digital form. This is the future. A single paperback book costs on average, $20 today. A near future netbook/ereader will cost around $100 and will have access to millions of works via a cheap connection to the internet. You can't compete with that with
      • by delinear (991444)
        You do understand that this story was actually about Kindle, right? You understand that, come the revolution or the end times or whatever you're talking about, there'd be no need to go round up all the book hoarders or burn the libraries if we were all using Kindles, because one trip to Amazon's HQ and a flick of a virtual switch later every single copy of every book ever purchased could instantly be deleted via the wonder of DRM? I'm sorry, but in this scenario my money's on the book hoarders to preserve s
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If so, she'd probably get nothing but Tom Clancy on her digital reader.

  • What, no colour? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scdeimos (632778) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @08:43PM (#32479744)
    TFA talks about how Beatrix Potter would love the *Kindle*, not just any old reader. I think the author missed the fact that her watercolour illustrations include colour, something the Kindle can't do yet.
    • by game kid (805301)

      her watercolour illustrations include colour, something the Kindle can't do yet.

      The Kindle also lacks water, and would surely be damaged by it.

      So it probably isn't even half of what Potter had in mind.

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