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The problems of pBooks

Written By: - Date published: 12:01 pm, January 13th, 2012 - 30 comments
Categories: humour, parody - Tags:

This morning my iPad was drained of power because I’d left a charger in a hotel in Dunedin at New Years so didn’t have one by the bed*. So for the first time in a month I reached into the vast numbers of books that litter our shelves. I was curious because I’d recently read and resonated with Ken Perrot’s post on pBooks at Open Parachute.

People talk about the attraction of a pBook’s smell. Can’t say I noticed that. But I was frustrated that my habit of checking the meaning of new words with a simple click to a loaded dictionary was not available. It is so much more effort to take a dictionary down off a bookshelf and look a word up. I see this will also be a hassle with footnotes and endnotes in more technical books.

I agree with him and he also put up a great video on the support problems of pBooks.


Apart from the usability issues you also have to consider the bulk of the thousands of books on our shelves. We’re moving in a month so I can get a larger home working space (and room for more screens). That means I’m going to have start raiding the local supermarkets again for boxes to transport these bulky information sources with. Selecting a new residence when in the possession of large numbers of pBooks has the additional complication of finding one with enough bookshelf space or walls to drop book cases on. It was bad enough when I had an entire corridor of my apartment lined with them. Then Lyn brought all her books in to increase the wallspace required. And then there is the aesthetics of having mismatched book sizes and clashing spine colours in our living areas…

The hundreds of books and short stories on Calibre on my  computer, and with other copies on my cell phone and pad, move with ease. Now all we have to do is get the batteries better and reduce the power consumption…..

* After having dinner with my parents and a horde of family in a raucous bedlam I wasn’t going to sleep. So I was playing Civ Rev in bed in the dark last night after reading the pad. It was too much effort going downstairs to plug the pad into a computer to power up when I finally did fall asleep.

30 comments on “The problems of pBooks”

  1. tc 1

    I still find pBooks better on the eyes than a screen after all day on computers as it’s rather more soothing than a screen, no matter how high def it is.

    You find they also come back up alot quicker when they go down and make much better door stops.

    • lprent 1.1

      My best door stop from many years was a full height SCSI 1GB drive from the early 90’s after it died. Nice compact and very very solid and weighty. Ummm a bit like this one

      It beat the hell out of my previous one – a tome called “After the Australopithenes” which was somewhat bigger but nowhere near the same density.

      There are better door stops than pBooks.

  2. ianmac 2

    The bookcase above is magnificent. I enlarged it so I could see how a whole new world operates. Intriguing. My own overcrowded bookcase looks just like it but has no gremlins that I can see – so far.

  3. Rich 3

    I’m thinking about having sliding stacks in my new home. I’ve been reading Kapital online and am unimpressed with the ease of use – then again, it might be Mr Marx’s turgid prose – chapter I in bullet points:
    – things have value
    – different kinds of things have different per-quantity values
    – you can express the value of one sort of thing as being a different quantity of another thing

  4. prism 4

    Great vide clip. Looking up a physical dictionary is good value though, you go for one word and get others around it as well. Like mosque and mosquito – humorous people can build a whole skit out of that.
    An intriguing bookcase too. I also have numerous books to which I am attached (invisibly). I now have a copy of Adam Smith on CD – this is a new way for me to gather info. – while I am doing the chores (the mindless ones).

    • and great for scrabble too – the dictionary that is. We’ve been having major scrabble sessions over the hollys and what a game it is. I’ve learned many new words and not just the ‘Qi’s’ either. Yes sure you can look up the word via the smartphone but the satisfying thump of closing the dictionary after a word has been confirmed cannot be equalled IMO because so many senses are acivated at that moment.

  5. Populuxe1 5

    The great thing about pBooks is that no one can control who you give it to, and no one can alter the contents. Also the tactile pleasures of turning a page cannot be ignored.

    • Descendant Of Smith 5.1

      Last time I moved towns about six and a half thousand books had to go – it’s quite cool that I can now get them back as e-books without the bulk.

      I’ve never been able to find a copy of The Dog Crusoe in a second -hand bookshop – one of my favourite childhood books – but it’s free electronically.

      Having built up a quite large collection again I’m thinking my fiction will probably be replaced over time electronically – less so for my non-fiction and rugby and cricket books.

      It seems a reasonable compromise for now that I’m comfortable with – that will also keep my wife happy who never understands why I have so many books.

      I do like the smell and physicality of books though.

      While iPad has a bit more glare than Kindle etc it has colour so comics go well with it – it remains my favoured e-option.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      If we were being rational about it then all books would be digitised and be available to read by everyone world wide. None of this DRM BS. There is absolutely no reason any more for people to own books.

      • Vicky32 5.2.1

        There is absolutely no reason any more for people to own books.

        I disagree! For one thing, I don’t like reading off a screen – and I can’t see that changing even if I had a tablet or an e-reader. You can’t comfortably curl up in bed with a screen, or scribble marginalia.. Having and reading physical books is very satisfying sensually!

        • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.1

          You can’t comfortably curl up in bed with a screen, or scribble marginalia..

          Actually, you can.

          • marty mars 5.2.1.1.1

            I think vicky32 is talking about humans D 🙂

          • Vicky32 5.2.1.1.2

            Actually, you can.

            Really? 🙂
            If I had an e-reader, there is still aun irreducible minimum of pbooks that I would want to keep… Although I like the idea of going mimilalist and having less clutter…

      • marty mars 5.2.2

        what happens when the power ceases?

        I agree with vicky32 – there is a sensuality with books that digital just cannot achieve. A tactile pleasure hard-wired into us – maybe it reminds us of checking to see if the fruit is ripe.

      • John D 5.2.3

        and therefore book authors work for free? and musicians too?

        I am all in favour of easy access to media, but how do the creators of such work get paid?

  6. the ideal would be to have the facility to print out an e-book if so desired.
    otherwise it is great to have acces to books that were stolen immediately from the public library such as “The Secrets of the Temple” by William Grieder.
    by right wingers of course.
    this book is an explaration of how the reagan white house and the federal reserve smashed the american economy in the 80’s.
    its essential insights are still relevant today as the world is in a comparable state of deflation and asset theft by right wing technocrats who know how to work the system.
    see the poal debacle.

  7. Sanctuary 7

    I have an iPad and a kindle. I used them initially for books, but now I have gone back to buying real books for stuff that I actually want to absorb. iPads and Kindles are fantastic for comics (brilliant for comics actuially), magazines, the internet, email, all that stuff. My iPad has a 3G connection as well, and it has also replaced my Wises guide.

    But you can’t read an e-reader in the bath (my favourite refuge of contemplation) or dog ear important pages, or scribble notes in the margin, or use a highlighter to mark pages with significant quotes. You can’t hold your place whilst flicking back a few pages quickly using an e-reader.

    So I wouldn’t be without my iPad ever, but for serious stuff the technology of the first century AD (the codex book) is still the hot dog on my street – which shows just what a revolutionary and advanced invention it actually was 2000 years ago.

  8. Ms X 8

    How do you lend someone an ebook? I know they can buy/download it for themselves, but for me there is nothing nicer than sharing a book with a friend who will appreciate it. Seems more personal to me.
    Am I missing something?

  9. Populuxe1 9

    Books furnish a room, from leather-bound antiques to garish paperback cover art. You don’t get that with an iBook – there’s none of the “thingness” of it. An iBook doesn’t really exist when it’s switched off, but a book is a thing of aesthetic beauty – a well-stocked bookshelf is a display of personal taste and learning.

  10. Populuxe1 10

    Actually, if anything, iBooks are the tools of Capitalism and authoritarian forces because it dramatically increases the ways that information can be controlled.

    • Descendant Of Smith 10.1

      No not really.

      If you wanted you can still print and read and share – so no worse off.

      You can if you wish access as many e-books as you like via the internet and anyone can publish / make available anything that is currently suppressed or not available in this country as an ebook or text.

      DRM isn’t a barrier in e-books any more than it is with music or movies unless you want it to be.

      The fact is that if you wished to get e-books without paying via a capitalist model you can in reality do so quite easily and with little fuss – it is much easier to avoid capitalism albeit via a capitalist invention – than it is to try and get hold of a real book that is not available here – even then you will need to use a capitalist system to obtain it e.g. shipping and mail and customs.

      It’s an enhancement not a backwards step.

      • Populuxe1 10.1.1

        But there’s nothing to stop me or anyone else altering that text before handing it on, just as – I suspect – it would be far easier for a dedicated group of hackers to eliminate the electronic version of a text from the web than it would be to track down and destroy every last printed version. I’m simply arguing for the contingency of respecting the paper book over fanboy presentism. Right now Canterbury University is ditching much of its real book collection in favour of electronic versions covered in various restrictions and full of technical issues that make me really hate using them – I think it’s one of the shittiest things a university can do (for instance, it’s very difficult to casually browse iBooks as you might a real bookshelf).
        Some links to consider:
        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203893404577098343417771160.html
        http://cardiffbookhistory.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/interview-robert-darnton/
        I also fear the loss to historical archives represented by email
         

        • Populuxe1 10.1.1.1

          And of course the initial cost of a kindle or iPad is astronomical compared to buying a book or joining a public library

  11. Lanthanide 11

    eBooks can’t do this:

  12. Populuxe1 12

    Which would you rather accidentally drop on concrete, an eBook or a pBook?

  13. I was fortunate to get a Kindle for Christmas – I love it! I hate reading large documents on computers, but the e-ink screen is just fantastic. Add to that how cheap it is to buy a vast range off books off Amazon – it’s a winner!

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