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The eBook Backlash 418

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that people who read ebooks on tablets like the iPad are beginning to realize that while a book in print is straightforward and immersive, a tablet is more like a 21st-century cacophony than a traditional solitary activity offering a menu of distractions that can fragment the reading experience, or stop it in its tracks. 'The tablet is like a temptress,' says James McQuivey. 'It's constantly saying, "You could be on YouTube now." Or it's sending constant alerts that pop up, saying you just got an e-mail. Reading itself is trying to compete.' There are also signs that publishers are cooling on tablets for e-reading. A recent survey by Forrester Research showed that 31 percent of publishers believed iPads and similar tablets were the ideal e-reading platform; one year ago, 46 percent thought so. Then there's Jonathan Franzen, regarded as one of America's greatest living novelists, who says consumers have been conned into thinking they need the latest technology and that e-books can never have the magic of the printed page. 'I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn't change.'"
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The eBook Backlash

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:36PM (#39249083)

    Keep your tablets and Fire, thank you very much. I like the fact that a basic Kindle allows for NO distractions while you're reading. Even the ad-supported model will only show ads during menu screens, never while you're reading. The e-ink looks a lot crisper than anything on a conventional tablet too. And a single 3-hour charge can last for weeks. I imagine the basic Nook has a similar setup too.

    The only advantage I can see with a tablet is for reading comic books or other books with lots of large, color-intensive graphics. Otherwise, you'd be a lot better off just spending the $80 for an actual dedicated e-reader. The text won't give you a headache, there are no distractions, and you won't be constantly recharging it.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:41PM (#39249175) Journal

      I completely agree with you. One thing you left out that I think people who have really not compared the experience on both types of devices is that e-ink really is a vastly better way to read lots of text. I can read much faster and more comfortably on my Kindle than on the iPad. The quality fonts etc is very good on both but there is something to be said for reading on a display that is not backlit. Especially if you try to read out doors.

      • by centuren ( 106470 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:56PM (#39249455) Homepage Journal

        The Slashdot headline & summary is a little misleading. The article isn't about an ebook backlash, it's about people reading ebooks on tablets and the ease of distraction. It's no surprise people are getting distracted trying to read a book using ebook reader software running on a tablet that's meant for checking Facebook, email, watching videos and the like. Ebooks can be read on computers, tablets, and smart phones. I read ebooks using Aldiko on my Android phone for a couple years before I finally bought a Kindle Touch, and my Kindle is approximately as likely to distract me from my reading as a paperback. The phone has always been a successful platform on which to read ebooks, but I never expected the notifications, messages, etc that are a big part of the reason I own a smart phone to go away (and let my level of distraction be on my own head).

        • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:10PM (#39250683) Homepage Journal

          Because this whole "distraction" thing is complete and utter nonsense. If I want to read, I read. If I want to do something else, I do it. Nothing "distracts" me. The tablet is not a "temptress", lol. It's a machine, and it does what *I* tell it to, not the other way around.

          And then there's that poignant call: "a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience" As an owner of thousands of books, let me tell you what that "permanence" is... it's a spine that will crack when you open the book years later. It's the incredibly lousy, acid infused paper that has yellowed, and smelled-up, and eventually caused to crumble, the pages of many of my otherwise treasured reads. It's being unable to find the title because someone has put it back funny, or not put it back at all. Or folded the pages. Or spilled spaghetti sauce on it. Or their lovely child has ripped out the conclusion to chapter three. Or ask a college kid or graduate about the "sense of permanence" that is the reality of a backpack filled with heavy texts. Not exactly a pleasant experience, or a lovely fashion accessory. And it cuts down the amount of actual cool stuff you can carry.

          Whereas the e-book experience... the litany is long and distinguished: You don't lose 'em; you don't misplace them; they don't age; you can read them in the dark (well, unless you went with e-ink, but then you can read in the sun if you're so inclined... me, I think reading in the sun is insane, but that's just me.) There are hot dictionaries, hot notes, hot highlights, sharing of same so you can see if what you think is interesting is what everyone else thinks is interesting. There is linkage to summary and statistical info on the book; YOU control the font size, and trust me, as an older guy compared to most of the rest of you puppies, that's a big deal; you can dim the thing and read late at night without disturbing your SO (you'll get girlfriends... really, you will. Patience.) You can read silently, page turns are noiseless. You can read with music, if that's pleasing to you. You can't lose your place -- an e-reader keeps track of what page you were on for every book you're reading, no matter how many that might be. As of recently, they've come up with a way to lend the book and you can't lose it, it simply "snaps" back into your library after the lend is up... you can self-publish without having to have an agent (that's me!), an editor, a publishing house, a marketing plan, and years of fruitless trying; you can carry your whole library with you, and I'm talking a LOT of books, so not only is all your fun reading with you, now you can always have your programming references and textbooks and so forth with you too... that part is just getting off the ground, but it was of direct help to me when I began to learn infrared photography and Apple's Cocoa so I'm personally sensitized to how great it is; and now, with the whole "its backed up in the cloud", you can't even lose your books if you drop your reader down the face of the Hoover dam. From the space shuttle. And the actual reality of that "distraction" is that your reader, if you so choose, can do a myriad of other useful and fun things for you.

          But that was a funny article from a luddite. :)

          Again speaking as someone involved with the publishing industry (I own a literary agency and I'm a published author, also the offspring of same), let me tell you why the publishers aren't so hot on e-books. The writer has ideas and stories, but surprisingly often, isn't all that great at telling them. The agency has agents on staff who can help -- a lot -- with that, and also (historically speaking) know which publishers are looking, and what they are looking for. An old boys network in the classic sense. Publishers can get the writer into print. And, if the writer is a GREAT writer, they might even throw in a little publicity work. But great writers don't really need publicity. If there's a new Ursula Le Guin or Michael Moorcock or Alan Dean Foster novel and you li

          • No one else in the world gets distracted by their tablet functionality because you don't? That's not a good perspective to have.

            And the article here says eBooks are bad because tablets are distracting, which obviously makes no sense. You are arguing that eBooks are good, but your only argument that addresses the article's premise is that it doesn't happen to you. And plenty of people would rather have a physical item to hold, mark up, dog-ear a page or two, or swap between two far apart pages for referen

            • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @03:42PM (#39252171) Homepage Journal

              Look, if you get distracted, that's a not a problem with the tablet: That's a problem with you. Notifications bothering you? Turn off the wifi, cellular... in the case of the iPad, just flip it into "airplane" mode. Can't stay off Facebook? Not an iPad problem. A "you" problem. Have to see tweets? That's 140 characters of you-fail. Don't go blaming technology because you fail to use it well. And don't clamor for it to change because you suck at coping. You change. Then you can benefit from judicious use of technology instead of letting it knock you around.

              Hmmmm... this reminds of the old canard "There are no atheists in foxholes." That's not a flaw in atheism. That just demonstrates that foxholes are really fucked up. You dig? lol...

          • by DadLeopard ( 1290796 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @03:24PM (#39251849)
            Speaking of Publishers. The only ones I know of that seems to be doing it right is Baen! They have been doing ebooks for quite a while, do not use DRM, have a free library where readers can get hooked on the start of any one of a number of series that their authors turn out, are bringing new authors into the field, Hopefully they will continue to flourish as they have most of my favorite authors in their stable!
          • by unassimilatible ( 225662 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @04:12PM (#39252701) Journal
            The NY Times saying tablets are bad for books is kind of like a T-Rex telling an Stegosaurus, "those silly mammals will never succeed."

            A modern-day dinosaur whistling past the graveyard...
        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:33PM (#39251073) Journal
          It seems to be about a number of things:

          Ebooks on dedicated readers vs. general purpose devices: Shockingly, a 'book' that keeps throwing notifications in your face may not be the best for your sense of focus. Luckily, the e-ink brigade now has quality offerings under $100, with fairly fast refresh and crazy-long battery life.

          Publishers 'cooling': There's a shock. Publishers, because they simply couldn't accept the thought that this might be the end, held a cargo-cult belief that something had to save them, and if tablets were the flavor of the month, it must be tablets! Wake up and smell the reality, chaps. It has been plausibly suggested that the ease of purchase and transport makes owners of dedicated ereaders somewhat heavier readers than they were previously. However, the self-selected "Yeah, I like reading enough to buy a reader device" market is rapidly saturating, since they've gotten so cheap, leaving them to knife-fight with Angry Birds and Facebook for the attention spans of the rest of the population...

          Some novelist waxing nostalgic: Books die. A lot. There are a few very lucky winners, lovingly maintained by archivists and preservationists of various stripes; but the attrition is massive. Texts survive because they are easy to copy. Assuming DRM insanity doesn't get us all, ebooks are even more booklike that books. Sure, your reader widget will probably be in the landfill in five years; but electronic texts can be copied in the blink of an eye.
      • by spd_rcr ( 537511 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:15PM (#39249789) Homepage

        Completely agree.
        I'm reading way more now on my Kindle Touch than I was before. While the cost of books is about the same regardless the format, physical vs e-book, I only like to keep really good hardcovers in our library. With the Kindle I can find a quiet seat almost anywhere and immerse myself because I can carry it anywhere and when one book is finished, I just select the next book and carry on.

        Tablets are not e-book readers, they're little computer screens. I don't like reading anything for very long on the computer, even code I want to go over, I'll print out to review. If it's not interactive,

      • by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:15PM (#39249795)

        Completely agree on the text. After reading a few books on my iPhone, reading on the Kindle is like reading a normal book page. I can go for hours without any eye strain. One thing that sold me on the Kindle was the "Free Sample" you can get with most books. Could be anything from 10 to 100 pages of a book, but especially in the dodgy-writing realm of Sci-Fi/Fantasy, it's key to be able to sample the writing before buying. Bookstores let you do that, and the Kindle does as well. There are also authors giving away free books which opens up a whole other world.


        • by DES ( 13846 ) *

          One thing that sold me on the Kindle was the "Free Sample" you can get with most books.

          All books, actually; it's auto-generated. You get the first 10% of the book, up to a certain number of pages. The problem is that with large works (such as collections or compilations) with detailed ToCs, the auto-generated sample might turn out to contain only the cover, the title page, the ToC and (if you're lucky) the first few paragraphs of the foreword.

      • by icebike ( 68054 ) *

        I can read much faster and more comfortably on my Kindle than on the iPad. The quality fonts etc is very good on both but there is something to be said for reading on a display that is not backlit. Especially if you try to read out doors.

        Nook owner chiming in to fully agree.

        I recommend the cheapest E-reader you can by that has wifi for downloading. I prefer not to have any other capabilities built into the device, I have other toys for that.

        Spending the big bucks for color and backlighting is just a waste of time, and money unless you are limited to owning a single device. I've tried reading on the tablet, just don't like it as much. Reading on the phone is a non-starter given my prescription. Darkened room is the only place I switch to

    • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:44PM (#39249225)

      We'll probably eventually get decent colour out of e-ink, although I doubt the refresh rate will ever be fast enough for real-time motion. The whole "physically moving around ink capsules" probably would prevent that sort of thing. And you know what? That's fine. I don't need fast refresh rates on my e-reader, just fast enough to make page turns workable. The current speeds are good enough, although I wouldn't complain if they got bumped up anyhow.

      I'm much happier reading on my Kindle 3 than a "real" book, particularly when comparing to a hardcover. My kindle is a fraction the weight and size of a hardcover. I can slip my kindle into a pocket or backpack, while a good sized hardcover is not nearly as portable. My kindle is also far easier to read in bed than a hardcover.

      The advantages are less when comparing to paperbacks, but there are still size advantages there, not to mention durability; a lot of my older paperbacks are pretty worn out from re-reading, while an eBook (particularly a DRM-free one from Baen) will never wear out.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:11PM (#39249703)

        The advantages are less when comparing to paperbacks, but there are still size advantages

        One big size advantage is the size of the text. For many of us, the fixed size of test in printed books is not a problem. But for people who's eyesight has diminished, it can be the difference between being able to read for any significant amount of time and not. My mom is a lifelong, voracious reader. But about 8 years ago, her reading dropped significantly because she had eyesight problems. When the original Kindle came out, I got her one and showed her how to make the text larger. It has (forgive the pun) rekindled her interest in reading. She's now got 3 Kindles, is back to the 1+ book/week pace and loving it again.

      • []

        And.... sales of B&W e-ink readers plummet... Not suitable for first person shootemups.

        I still prefer real paper and the prices for ebooks are still far too high but is handy to have a library at my fingertips to choose from.

        You can't sell your read books on ebay or pass them on to friends. Big disadvantage.

        • by ghostdoc ( 1235612 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:56PM (#39250439)

          I paid for my Kindle within 6 months, purely from the difference in retail prices for books (in Australia we have ridiculously high prices for books because we have retarded protectionist laws on book publishing). I'm paying $10ish for a download to the Kindle, $25 for a dead tree paperback...doesn't take many books to pay back the cost.
          There's third-party library management software (I use Calibre: [] ) that will manage your library on the PC and allow you to format-shift which then allows you to email the books to friends (provided they've got an e-reader of course).

          And then of course I discovered that most of the pirate sites have a few thousand ebook torrent links. Not being able to sell second-hand books becomes pretty irrelevant when you can just grab what you want from the tubes for free, send it to your friends for free (and still have your copy available too of course).

          I understand why a published author dedicated to the appreciation of fine literature would be worried about ebooks. The business model for novels is pretty much screwed by ebook piracy. However, as usual, I think all we'll lose is the commercial shite and the people who really want to write will continue to write. It's just harder to see how they'll get paid to do it.

          • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

            Baen has proven (and by this, I mean they have sales numbers proving it) that eBook piracy is so not a problem that it actually increases sales. Hence why Baen gives away many of their books for free (free library) and indirectly (distribute-freely license on their CD ISOs).

            In terms of published authors, they make a lot more money from an eBook sale than a paperback sale, so as long as they see eBooks as replacing paperbacks and not hardcovers (which make far more money than either), they don't seem to mind

        • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

          Colour is coming this year. Worthwhile colour isn't. I love eInk's pearl displays, but Triton, their first colour display, is garbage. The 10:1 contrast ratio on monochrome e-Ink is fine, and better than paperback books (which I believe are 8:1). But their Triton (colour) displays merely stick some colour filters on top of existing eInk pearl displays to produce an RGBW display, and those contrast ratios are just not high enough for that to work.

          You compromise the monochrome image quality, and the colours a

      • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

        We'll probably eventually get decent colour out of e-ink, although I doubt the refresh rate will ever be fast enough for real-time motion.

        I predict the next big hipster thing will be "flipbook" Tetris on their Color E-Ink Kindle:

        To rotate L block left 90 degrees, go to page 12,587.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If I had a vote to give, I would vote you up for this. Saying that full-fledged tablets are not ideal for reading is one thing, using that to bash the ebook idea entirely is another. Kindle (and similar, I assume) eReaders provide a very book-like experience for me. I still buy hardbacks for my favorite authors because I like to have their books on my shelves, but the Kindle has been great for reading and discovering new series.

    • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:46PM (#39249281)
      I agree, I got my 11 year old daughter a Nook for Christmas (the Nook is not ad-supported). We talked about multi-tasking and I told her a got her the Nook specifically because it's a SINGLE-tasking device, and she got it.

      I hope the next generation develops some sort of immunity to distraction because, whoops, here I am on slashdot again.

      • by stephencrane ( 771345 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:59PM (#39249523)
        Mod up. This is primarily why I got the Nook Simple Touch. (That, plus it can be rooted, reads epub, and there are already lots of easy ways to buy from Amazon.) Dedicated single-purpose devices, so long as they are inexpensive enough, tend to have the advantage over multi-purpose devices. I have an iPad, and they're two totally different animals. I only read pdfs on the ipad.
    • I agree. I use a kobo now and I doubt I will rarely buy a paper book again. Tablets are too big and bulky - my wife even dumped her iPad for reading and bought a kobo too. Colour would be nice if you read magazines or something, but for printed word, the straight eReader is great - Compact, light weight and I will never lose my bookmark!
    • I agree with you 100%. I have a 3rd-gen kindle dedicated e-reader with e-ink while my Galaxy Nexus functions as both my tablet and smartphone. Seeing as I do so many things on the Galaxy Nexus (phone, email, notes, to-do list, web surfing, games, etc) it would be WAY too much of a distraction for reading. Besides it (Kindle e-ink) is much easier on the eyes and allows my Kindle to last for a month on a single battery charge, whereas my Galaxy Nexus has to be recharged every day.
    • by b0bby ( 201198 )

      The only times I get annoyed with my nook are when there are illustrations like maps and photos and there's no way to zoom in to get a decent view - right now I'm reading 1493 by Charles Mann, and most of the maps are essentially unreadable. Mostly though, it's great - easy to read, long battery life, no distractions.
      Magazines on tablets, on the other hand, are also great - the color and the interactivity are a plus there, and with shorter articles the interruptions aren't bad. You can also turn off most no

      • Even on the iPad, illustrations and maps are pretty substandard. That's my biggest beef with Amazon's offerings. They seem to use some horribly compressed jpg that doesn't scale to the full reader screen, much less above that. It's a real problem with anything other than pure text.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      It's not a problem with tablets or ebooks, it's a PEBCAK problem. If your email client isn't open, your email won't distract you. If your IM client is closed, your IM won't distract you.

    • by Shadow99_1 ( 86250 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .99wodahseht.> on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:01PM (#39249561)

      I'm writing this from my tablet as we speak, but personally I don't get why 'distractions' are such an issue. I'm quite content to simply read an ebook and I have enough discipline to avoid distractions if I want. Usually however simple distractions like an IM from a friend are equally distracting on my tablet and for a real book. I may opt to answer a message or not on either, but those simple distractions are not really bothersome to me either way.

      On the other hand a tablet makes a very nice computing device for other things I may want or need to do and not just for reading books. The fact that I don't need to own multiple computing devices that can only handle a single function is very important to me.

    • by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:05PM (#39249623)

      There's still one thing you can't do on a printed book: retcon.

      Imagine if Lucas took all of your Star Wars VHS's (including the ones you recorded off the TV) and made Han shoot first in all of them.

      Give me a printed page any day.

    • Basic e-ink readers are fantastic for reading things in one direction start to finish. Things like novels, biographies, etc.

      I love my simple kindle.

      E-ink devices suck at anything with diagrams or text books that need flipping through back and forth. They definately have uses- but they are not a solution for all things book.

      • by icebike ( 68054 ) *

        This is so true.

        If reading any history that involves maps, or technical manuals with tables and illustrations, with an ereader (e-ink or otherwise) the need to frequently refer to maps, or illustrations the jumping around is pretty painful, unless the device has a good book marking capability. Even then, its not the same as having a finger in the book at the reference page and being able to flip back and forth quickly.

        I've noticed that I had unconsciously gravitated away reading this type of subject matter

    • by hal2814 ( 725639 )
      Indeed. The Kindle is for people who like to read. The Kindle Fire is for people who like the idea of reading.
    • by AJH16 ( 940784 ) <aj&gccafe,com> on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:25PM (#39249939) Homepage

      Yes, I believe this article belongs in the "No Shit" category. Tablets are back lit devices that are not well suited for lengthy reading to begin with, let alone the fact that such a multifunction device is distracting to use. That said, I think they are fantastic for research reading, where having quick access to a variety of sources of information is ideal. For casual or relaxed reading however, e-ink is the go to technology if you are looking to lose the paperback.

    • by aqui ( 472334 )

      The Publishers and book sellers are their own worst enemy.

      I've found I use my tablet extensively for reading, but I've stopped using kobo and other vendor supplied readers because of their built in advertizing spam / preview "features" that couldn't be turned off. One reader went as far as to start downloading "sample" books on my 3G connection. At that point I had to firewall the app to keep it from wasting my data plan bytes. The app was shortly replaced shortly after that.

      I use my e-reader exclusively

      • I bought a few e-books in the beginning but found myself often wishing I could lend the book to someone and share it. That meant in some cases I had to buy a second book.

        This is my biggest problem with my Kindle. I enjoy giving away and lending books that I found worthwhile and think someone else may also find worth reading, the Kindle doesn't provide a convenient means of doing this. Yes, I've used Calibre to strip away DRM, but it really shouldn't have to work like that. Additionally, I frequently give books away to people who aren't prone to reading books on the computer. When my Kindle was new I purchased books for it. After a while I grew frustrated with not being able

      • At this point I don't plan to buy any more e-books (unless they are DRM free) except in special circumstances where I use the book as a reference so much that portability (it weighs nothing extra and I can have it with me anytime I have my tablet) out weighs all the negatives of DRM.

        You know that stripping the DRM out of any ebook you purchased is trivial, right? There are scripts out there to do that with minimum effort. In fact, these scripts are even available as 3rd party plugins to calibre [], in which case the DRM stripping becomes transparent (you'll have to Google around though -- for obvious reasons they aren't officially supported). Add to this calibre's ability to freely convert DRM-free (and DRM-stripped) e-books from one format to basically any other format, and everything th

    • by l00sr ( 266426 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:51PM (#39250347)

      While it's nice to pine for the days of old when reading was a solitary escape, it's also important to acknowledge that things have fundamentally changed, and there is no going back. How many people really go as far as to hide their smartphones while reading a printed book? The fact of the matter is that we are immersed in a world that is inherently more connected and more distracting than ages past. There are downsides to this, but apparently they aren't considered sufficiently compelling for most people to forsake cell phones, email, blogs, social networking, streaming video, etc. Whether these things are accessible from the iPad a person uses to read a book or from the smartphone in their pocket or the laptop in front of them, makes very little difference.

    • by Cinder6 ( 894572 )

      The basic Kindle is great. I was a holdout for years, but I finally broke down and got a Touch a couple weeks ago.

      That said, I still just can't bring myself to trust either the publishers or device makers (in this case, Amazon and Apple) not to try to screw me. I look at these Kindle ebooks, and the vast majority of the ones I'd be interested in buying are full retail price. I'm not saying they should be free--far from it; authors deserve compensation, publishers have to pay for marketing, etc.--but they

  • Newsflash! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:38PM (#39249105)

    Self discipline is dead.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:40PM (#39249153)


    • by Megahard ( 1053072 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:47PM (#39249285)
      So what we need is a game that pops up a bunch of buttons, links, ads, and challenges the user not to click on any of them.
    • Re:Newsflash! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:51PM (#39249377)
      I think it's more to do with environment than virtue. If you took a guy off a 19-th century farm where there was NOTHING but chores to do and gave him an iPad, he would probably forget to eat for the next 4 days. Look at how they went overboard with alcohol and religion back then.
    • I wouldn't say that. How much would anyone be distracted if they were constantly interrupted by a phone ringing, a doorbell ringing, or someone tapping them on the shoulder?

      • by robmv ( 855035 )

        I don't know about others, but my tablet has an option to disconnect from Wifi and 3G enabled Android tablets has the option to disable data. When I really want to read I disable Wifi (no 3G version) and read. Probably it is difficult for some people to use that options, but it should not be hard to write an Ebook reader app with an option to activate a "Do not disturb mode"

    • Re:Newsflash! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:04PM (#39249613)

      Self discipline is dead.

      I'd disagree in that the hidden assumption of the cruddy article is reading is a virtue and puritan style self denial of the much more fun alternatives is the only reason anyone reads anything. F that bad idea. I'm a big boy and no one tells me what to do in my spare time and if I wanna look at boring youtube videos I do so, and if I wanna read, I read, because I want to. I just finished Stross's laundry series and most recently Halting State. No I'm not being paid to astroturf and yes those were entertaining kind of light hard science fiction and I didn't read them out of some desire for hair shirt denigration but because I greatly enjoyed them.

      If I'm reading and I want to stop reading, I'm a big boy, I can just stop, I don't need some far fetched explanation of how its all the devices fault that the email app zapped out of cyberspace like a bad ST:TNG episode and pulled me away while wearing a Sherlock Holmes costume. Its very much like people who blame the gun after one gang member shoots another, instead of blaming the person who intentionally pulled the trigger. Lame.

      Once you operate and excise the lameness from the article, there's sadly not much left to it. Whoops.

      • Another angle is that I'm reading a novel, some historical event is mentioned, and I pop over to Wiki or something to fill in any knowledge gap. I learned something. Yay.

    • Re:Newsflash! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:58PM (#39250479)
      I have a condition where my eyes cannot easily follow straight lines. This makes reading books very hard for me. While I am reading a screen I tend to highlight the line that I am reading otherwise my eyes will drift to words in the next line and adding confusion, causing me to reread the line over again.

      I prefer to read off of a screen for it makes it easier for me to follow the line... First I don't have the curve from the bend in the paper throwing me off, allowing me to use a pen/ruler to keep my line pointed, most readers allow me to highlight the text line that I am reading. Also most screens you still can see the Pixels outlines on your screen that makes following straight lines easier.

      Before I was diagnoses with that condition I was figured to have problems with actually learning to reading comprehension,they figured that I was just being lazy while I tried to read a book. But I got tired of reading the same line over and over again, and being disciplined for following the text with my finger. So reading became a major chore and I really never gained the joy of reading. But my reading comprehension was much better when I had books with a big fonts and a lot of white spaces, but the smaller fonts and more dense the page the harder I had reading.

      I am willing to expect that people who are use to reading paper books and can do so, may find the extra technology distracting but if you are use to it, you know to ignore the feeling to click on something else. Sure the extra features on tables can distract us, but that is probably more due to the reading material being more boring then the other options. If the story is really engaging then you want to read the story and not watch a You Tube video.

  • by dragisha ( 788 ) <(dragisha) (at) (> on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:38PM (#39249117)

    That's it.

    Don't use iPad for reading.

    • Actually I wonder if people who buy a tablet and cannot focus on the reading of a book were the people who bought and read paper books before tablets ever existed. By purchasing a tablet and all its technological luxury some people forget that it doesn't do everything, like avoiding the concentration and all the brain work that has to get involved when someone wants to read a book. There is still no direct transfer from a computer network to a human neural network.
      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        There is still no direct transfer from a computer network to a human neural network.

        Sure there is, it's an optical network that's almost instantaneous. It's called "reading".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:40PM (#39249163)

    If _only_ tablets and eReaders came with more self control, I'd read more!

  • ...into thinking that it is much easier to a nice selection of books with me in a tablet than it is to carry them any other way.
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:42PM (#39249185) Homepage Journal

    Printed is still the form I enjoy the most. First off I never fear losing a physical book, the value is low enough I don't care. Get e-readers down in that value and I might think the same.

    Then again probably not. For some reason I feel more relaxed with a paper book. For me there is still that put down, pickup, which just works better that way.

    I do enjoy reading on the Kindle much more than the Fire! or iPad. Mostly because I can take it outside and still read it.

    I would love to see publishers include a scratch off code or receipt activated code with books to get the ebook version. Kind of similar to how you can get the portable version of a movie.

    • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:31PM (#39250041) Homepage Journal

      There are many reasons I prefer a printed book to eReader or tablet forms.

      The first and most obvious is durability. If it gets wet, you just dry it out. It doesn't mind being tossed on a shelf or a desk (even violently). It's ok with being caught out in the rain if an unexpected downpour comes up.

      The second is portability. Books don't mind being crushed in a backpack. They can be used in almost ANY lighting conditions equally well. They can be safely mailed or lent to friends without worrying about whether they're going to "break" it.

      The third is loanability. It's easy to borrow or loan a book. You just hand it to the person, and hope they bring it back. DRM one-reader systems? Not so much.

      My remaining reasons are intangibles, like the pleasure of perusing shelves fully of books to see what someone likes to read, to find something you want to borrow, to have that visceral knowledge that "this is a person who likes to read and educate themselves" when you walk into a room and see boxes or shelves full of books.

      Reference materials are much better suited to online or eBook distribution because they need to be updated to correct any errors or omissions, and to add new information as it comes up. But for recreational reading, a paperback or hardcover that tells a tale doesn't need to be maintained.

      I can understand that if you already have a tablet or reader that you're carting around, they have the advantage of being able to contain your entire library of books, and that's a HUGE benefit to students and researchers. But when it comes to entertainment reading, I don't have multiple volumes on the go at one time -- I'm reading A book, from start to finish, and enjoying every minute of it.

      Perhaps the most important feature of a printed book is the fact that I OWN it. There is no chance of the publisher or author coming knocking at my door and saying "we changed our mind -- we want your book back" as has ALREADY happened with the eReader market. Even if I bought my book from an "illegal vendor" of some kind, it's still MY BOOK. There can be no "takedown notice" for it.

      And that last point is the most important of all, because it means that in the future when some asshole demands that the book be taken off the market and censored, I'll still have my copy.

      • by msobkow ( 48369 )

        One last point on the censorship: The printed page is also not subject to "Lucas Edits" of the story.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Durability: You may be able to drop a paper book, but you can't back it up. Destroy both a paper book and an ebook reader, and you still have the ebook. So no clear winner here.

        Portability: Are you serious? I have close to 1,500 books on my ebook reader. Despite your valid points, as soon as you find a way to shove 1,500 paper books in your backpack, then you can come back and talk about portability.

        Loanability: Since I never buy ebooks with DRM, I can "loan" all my books to whomever I want, and keep t

      • by OFnow ( 1098151 )
        Buy from Baen, their books are drm free and the publisher cannot take it back any more easily than they can take a physical book back. And you can loan it to a friend.
    • by Jonner ( 189691 )

      There's nothing wrong with preferring printed books and I'm sure most people will for some time. There is something wrong with attacking a technology as "damaging society" just because you don't understand it and don't like to use it personally as Franzen has done.

  • eBooks are meant for eReaders with eInk not iPads with nasty iCancer light emitting screens.
  • by Per Wigren ( 5315 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:43PM (#39249209) Homepage
    Moving and/or interactive stuff: Use a tablet.
    Reading books: Use a REAL e-book reader with an e-ink screen.

    E-books are still the future, people new to them just have to learn to read them on a proper reader, like the Sony PRS-T1, Kindle, Nook etc.
  • by ip_freely_2000 ( 577249 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:44PM (#39249233)
    I have a tablet and a Kindle (e-ink) and they are very different devices when it comes to reading. I can read for hours on my Kindle, but on my Xoom, the backlight and glare gives me headaches after about 20 minutes or so.
  • I have a young kid and regularly read while he falls asleep in my lap in the evening. Using a tablet means I don't need a light shining on my kid and impeding sleep.

    It also means that I can use the device that I already have. As for headaches and eye strain, I've never had a problem. That said, I do look forward to the spread of high-resolution screens with the advent of the ipad3.

    Personally, my biggest problem with ebooks on the tablet is that there isn't a great selection available from the public libr

  • Arrogance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mseeger ( 40923 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:48PM (#39249313)

    How i love terms like

    serious readers

    It is the reader, that has become faulty. Our good product is not appreciated and understood by him. He doesn't use it according to specs.

    Wake up guys! This is still the customer we are talking about ;-).

  • I have not yet seen an electronic display that is as comfortable to read, in varying light conditions, as printing on paper, although the Kindle is considerably better than most. Books don't require chargers or power adapters, and they are quite durable. I have books that I got 40-50 years ago, including my high school yearbooks, that are in fine shape; I rather doubt your tablet will make its first decade. And, as exemplified by those yearbooks, people can interact with a book easily. I wouldn't write
    • Kindle DX. Seriously .. borrow one from somebody and try it.
      Assuming non-DRM'd .mobi files that are properly backed up, they will be 100% identical forever.
  • here is this text that doesn't change.

    The printed page offers some authentication: yellowing of the page attests to age (or carbon dating for more precision), missing pages are readily apparent due to the running sequence counter, and alterations to the typography are difficult to forge. In essence, the printed page employs a redundancy of quadrillions times over -- quadrillions of molecules are involved to present one character of text to the reader. It is this redundancy that affords the secure authenti

  • I dunno. I've been using the hell out of my Nook Tablet since my wife got it for me for Christmas, and it's provided a nice middle ground for me. The web browser is good enough to check Facebook or read a few newspaper articles, but not good enough to provide a fully interactive experience beyond typing a couple of one sentence emails or hitting a "like" button. On the other hand, I've probably dropped two hundred bucks on ebooks in the last three months. Instant gratification has its merits. Instead of h
  • Seriously, this guy sounds like hundreds of other e-book complainers. Meanwhile, every person I have given a Kindle to try out who said they would never give up paper books are converts within a week. eBooks are great because you can have tons of books always with you, they are light, and if you finish one you boook you instantly can get another one.

  • by PhrostyMcByte ( 589271 ) <> on Monday March 05, 2012 @12:58PM (#39249497) Homepage

    The only problem with e-books and e-readers is that they're clearly not made by readers.

    Books, the good ones at least and most of the bad ones too, pay attention to typography. Paragraph-optimized justification, hyphenation, hanging punctuation, ligatures, etc. All these little things that you take for granted with a dead-tree book, but without them it's a significantly poorer experience.

    You find books with left-aligned text, an ugly and jagged right edge carving out a large chunk of empty space on the right. Or worse, you get one that is justified. This is bottom-of-the-barrel justification, without hyphenation and very commonly leaving huge spaces between words [].

    I've owned a Nook since launch day. I've read a large number of books on it, and I love it. But there is still a lot of room for improvement. I shouldn't need to import my ebooks into Adobe InDesign to make a PDF with proper typography.

  • by repetty ( 260322 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:05PM (#39249625) Homepage

    I enjoy the immersible experience of recreational reading but you can't smell a f*cking eBook!

    I love to plant my face right in the middle of a book and breath deeply and long. I like to fan out the pages of a book and then allow it to compress slowly, burping out its scented air. I know that I've enjoyed a particularly good reading session when I sport ink smudges on each side of my nose.

    For work and reference tasks, however, eBooks have a couple strong advantages.

  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:10PM (#39249683)

    ...only it went like this:

    "I really hate these new 1200-baud modems. 300 baud is just the right speed for me to follow along, read, and think about what I'm reading. At 1200, I'm always having to control-S to pause the stream, and when there are a few short lines, I can lose my place in the text."

    Eventually, e-ink displays will be just as dynamic as today's tablets, maybe more so. Heck, eventually, paper will be that dynamic.

    If there's a mismatch between the content being displayed and our cognitive needs, fix the content. "Translating it down through a lower-Zone protocol" shouldn't be necessary.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:14PM (#39249759) Homepage

    What bothers me about e-readers is the impermanence of the content. If the service goes away, will the content go away? That's happened many times with on-line music. Remember Wal-Mart Music? PlaysForSure? MTV Urge? Zune? If the service goes down, can you move your content to a new device? This is really tough with devices that talk to nothing but the service. Can you back up your e-reader? Maybe, sort of, sometimes. []

    Even if the content is on the reader, will the service push an update that makes the reader dependent on the service? That's happened with games. There have been updates that made e-books go away. []

    And don't even think about leaving your books to your kids.

  • by Vrallis ( 33290 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @01:27PM (#39249975) Homepage

    My only real issue with eBooks, period, is cost. Why the fuck does the ebook cost more than a paperback copy?!?!? Why does it usually cost as much as the damned hardcover?!?!

    eBooks were supposed to bring about a revolution. More people published, high profits for everyone involved, all while still costing radically less for the consumer. Instead it's become a pure money grab.

  • offering a menu of distractions that can fragment the reading experience, or stop it in its tracks.

    People try to make it news that users can't organize themselves? For years I have read e-books on my laptop just fine. Not even in the full-screen mode. On one side.

    On the other side, IMO it is more about the fact that most of the books are at best mediocre. So when given a choice, and e-book+tablet gives that choice, brains say "I'd rather watch cat videos on the YouTube." When I'm reading an interesting book on my e-book reader (not tablet), with laptop being readily available at hand, I rarely have the impulse to do something else. Because the book is interesting.

    It is an open competition between the entertainment forms for the free time (and money) of the user. Many books (just like many movies or games), sadly, lose to the cat videos in entertainment value. And that's nothing new.

    But I can image that some have missed the fact that books became predominantly an entertainment form - and have much less cultural value than they had say few decades before. That is rather normal: book publishing become cheaper and many things which previously were not deemed before to be worth the paper, now are published. Especially with e-books, literally anything can be published cheaply. And thus everything gets published. But that, unlike some time ago, doesn't give automatically everything published the same value as the books of the masters.

  • by professorguy ( 1108737 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:09PM (#39250659)
    An eBook cannot be HIDDEN. History teaches us any book not hidden will, at some point, BE TAKEN FROM YOU.
  • by AtomicDevice ( 926814 ) on Monday March 05, 2012 @02:12PM (#39250709)

    Who cares what publishers (or many authors for that matter) think about what's good for reading? Publishers have shown time and time again that the little they know about e-publishing terrifies them. They just want to stick their head in the sand and go back to paper, they latch on to any tidbit of evidence that people might not like e-books or e-reading. They do all they can to minimize e-book sales to protect their paper business.

    If publishers were smart, they could get way more people reading way more books, and make a lot more money off it. They need to get over their fears about e-publishing and move fast before piracy becomes the norm in the book world, just like it did in the music and video world.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.