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Posts Tagged ‘literature’

Take THAT English Majors!

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

By tom Gauld

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Are eBooks Really Killing Paper Books?

October 21, 2010 1 comment

I love to read. Always have. Ever since I was a kid I’ve always had my nose in a book. So when eReaders started appearing on the market I had some mixed feelings. Sure they are portable and kind of cool, but they don’t feel like a book. They don’t smell like a book. There is just something about a good dead-tree book isn’t there?

Last month it was my birthday, and I got a Kindle. And in a word, it’s awesome! The screen looks better than I had imagined, its light, portable, and I can carry around an entire personal library of books at once.

My Kindle. Yay!

But there seems to be a growing fear that eReaders and eBooks will spell the inevitable doom of the printed word. And perhaps those fears aren’t completely unfounded.

I spent my first couple hours with my Kindle downloading all the free classic books that have had their copyright expire. Dracula, White Fang, Alice In Wonderland, and so on. I actually have real copies of these books hidden in a basement somewhere; but let’s be honest, I never actually read them. But since I got the Kindle I’ve already gone through a couple of Sherlock Holmes novels and re-read all my favourite Edgar Allan Poe short stories (Seriously, how awesome is ‘The Cask of Amontillado‘?).

But those poor old paperback versions of the same books still sit collecting dust in my basement. However, I think this is a great advantage of eBooks. Imagine all the eReaders out there with copies of Oliver Twist and Moby Dick and all the classics. Everyone will be carrying them around and, eventually, they may even read them!

I also never read a real newspaper anymore. I get all of my news online. Now you can have a newspaper electronically delivered to your Kindle every single day, wherever you are. Who needs all that ink smudging on their fingers anyway?

A couple of months ago Amazon fueled this fear of eBooks when it announced that eBooks were outselling hardcover books. This was quite an announcement, but be sure to take it with a grain of salt. Hardcover books only contribute a small portion of their total sales. But this still shows a growing trend in the market: people want to buy eBooks.

So does this mean that the printed book is doomed? Of course not!

I think the growing popularity of eReaders is just like the advent of mp3 players like the iPod when it came out 10 years ago. The term “mp3” was still unknown to most people, but already the winds of change were coming to the music industry.

Digital downloads of music took the market by storm. iPod sales have been climbing for years, though now they have started to level off as the market gets saturated.

This did mean declining CD sales. Used CD stores started going out of business.

Sam the Record Man, one of Toronto's most famous record stores, closed on May 29, 2007 after more than 75 years in business. Photo by David Sherret from Flickr.

But the CD never went away. It is still around. I still like to go to a dark, dirty, smelly club to see an independent band rock out harder than any big name band could ever do. They always have a box in the corner where they sell their personally pressed CDs, and this is where the CD market will live on. Sure, it’s not big business. But people love to support bands that they love, and this will never change.

Not to mention Vinyl! I think printed books are probably going to end up just like vinyl records. Any music enthusiast probably owns a vinyl player. A lot of indie bands release their albums as vinyl records, with a passcode for the digital download from iTunes. People still buy vinyl and keep them for their aesthetic and purist appeal. But for everyday listening we all still carry around an iPod; so for everyday reading, people of the future will all be carrying an eReader. But you bet your ass they will also have a collection of real paperbacks on their shelves at home.

That eReader could be a Kindle, or an iPad, or simply a smart phone. But the technology is here to stay. And yes, it will probably result in declining paper book sales and some books stores going out of business. I feel bad about that, but at the same time the market has to evolve. Technology has to improve, and it was only a matter of time before this affected books. Read on!

“Damned Fools Won’t Pay 10 Minutes Attention to Science and Technology…”

June 28, 2010 1 comment

So if you’ve read this blog, you know I am more than displeased at how Science is reported in the media, and how little credit is given to the work of scientists.

People find Science boring. And while I do sympathize sometimes, at other times I get pretty frustrated.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I’m a big Sci-Fi/Fantasy geek. I just started reading “Lucifer’s Hammer” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Its about a comet which strikes Earth and civilization needs to rebuild. Pretty cool.

Photo from Wikipedia

There is one part near the start of the story where a news reporter is speaking with an Astronomer. It sums up my feelings really well, so I thought I would share it with all of you:

“Yet the damned fools won’t pay ten minutes’ attention a day to science and technology. How many people know what they’re doing?

Where do these carpets come from? The clothes you’re wearing? What do carburetors do? Where do sesame seeds come from?

Do you know? Does one voter out of thirty? They won’t spend ten minutes a day thinking about the technology that keeps them alive. No wonder the research budget has been cut to nothing. We’ll pay for that. One day we’ll need something that could have been developed years before but wasn’t -“

And get ready for my next post, its gonna quite a rant…