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I thought this was one of the better articles on ebooks that I've encountered. I also thought your criticisms were quite good.

I'd question his basic premise, as seen in the title. When exactly will be ebooks be "there", when they are all things to all people? Of course they're evolving, but right now millions of people are reading ebooks. They are "there" for many of us!

You might as well argue that cars aren't "there" because they run on smelly fossil fuels and pollute the air and break down and 30-40,000 people die in them in the US every year. (Hm...maybe cars aren't "there!")

But, yeah...you cannot simultaneously fit all of your ebooks in your Kindle AND have them to display in your home. However, you can get rid of a bookshelf and put a label on it that says, "This wall space brought to you by Kindle...."
 

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Jan Strnad said:
I thought this was one of the better articles on ebooks that I've encountered.
You know, looking back at it, I don't want to seem like I'm completely ragging on the article. Abell does dismiss a lot of the silly objections to eBooks ("I like the feel of paper") and seems very much in support of them. It reads kind of like he's saying, "E-books are cool, and here's a few last things that could happen that would make them super-awesome." I just keep thinking that those last few things don't really matter much to me (aside from lower ebook prices from traditional publishing houses).
 

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I like your rebuttal!  My responses:

1) An unfinished e-book isn’t a constant reminder to finish reading it.  I agree with your comment that it is the book itself not the physical presence that makes me read it.  I actually am much MORE likely to finish a book on my Kindle than I am a paper book.

2) You can't keep your books all in one place.  Yeah, that's just weird.  I never kept my books all in one place. 

3) Notes in the margins help you think.  Happily I am shallow and read for pleasure and escape.  No Deep Thoughts required.  :D 

4) E-books are positioned as disposable, but aren't priced that way.  I don't like the current prices either
but I don't like paper prices for that matter. 

5) E-books can't be used for interior design.  Yes and no.  I can't display them, but ebooks have definitely helped me achieve the uncluttered, neat look I like in my house.  I am thrilled to have vastly reduced my collection of paper books.  That is a huge bonus in my book, pardon the pun.  ;)

 

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I think the article has a point.  Ebooks are not quite "there" yet.  However, that is what I like about it.  I like that it is new and evolving and that readers and authors are still trying to figure out how to publish, promote and market the books.  I like that we Kindle fans are kind of an exclusive club (albeit a growing club) and we know how special the device is and the books are and people are slowly finding out.  It's like being there at the beginning of VCRs and stuff like that.
 

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Joe Konrath had an excellent post on how ebooks are in the same place where electric lighting was when it first came out. Prior to electric lights candles and lamps were the lighting business. Candles and lamps didn't go away, they just became a niche market. I really think the same thing will follow for ebooks and books. We'll always have books. People love books. I love books. Yet they will become a niche market. And I think I'm okay with that. One of my most prized possessions is my great grandfather's family bible. For a year now I've been planning on building a coffee table that will protect and show off this book. Then my grandmother's bible and a few old German Bibles as well.  Now, with that said, when it comes to just reading - I'm leaning towards ebooks more and more, especially when all I care about is the content. The fact that I can sit in the DMV line and read a book, and check my email, and play Angry Birds all on one device is heaven for me.

When it comes to physical books, what I find myself doing now is spending more money on very nice books. Books that I read, but then want to keep. I'm not talking about paperbacks but beautiful leather books that I plan on willing to my children and grandchildren. I find myself reading more now then I have in the last 10 years. Yet most of that reading is from an ebook. In fact, if an ebook came with everyone of these leather books I bought......I would really be in heaven.
 

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1) An unfinished e-book isn't a constant reminder to finish reading it.
I really don't understand this at all - it's never been a problem for me. It's the written word which captivates me and motivates me to read more - I don't need a physical reminder of it and even if I did, why wouldn't the Kindle itself be enough of a physical reminder? This complaint just makes no sense to me.

2) You can't keep your books all in one place.
In principle, it does bother me that I am limited in my choice of retailers to buy from if I want to read it on my Kindle but in reality, I haven't found it to be a problem. If it's not on Kindle, I haven't found it anywhere else as an ebook.

3) Notes in the margins help you think.
I never, ever wrote in the margins of books. It felt wrong to me. That's actually one of the reasons I love ebooks - I can make notes without feeling like I'm ruining the book.

4) E-books are positioned as disposable, but aren't priced that way.
Agreed - for me,the only major downside to ebooks is the inability/limitations of sharing an ebook with friends or family. But as for price, I do feel like most ebooks are priced lower then paper books - yeah, sometimes it's only minimally but we've had plenty of discussions where it's been pointed out that the cost of printing and binding a physical book actually works out to be very minimal per book, especially mass market books. You're paying for the content, not the format.

5) E-books can't be used for interior design.
They were never a part of my interior design anyway. I only kept a handful of my very favorite books and I didn't exactly display them in splendor - they were usually just piled on top of a nightstand or something. Honestly, this complaint goes along with the "I like the feel and smell of 'real' books" one to me - it never really interested me... I'm most interested in the written word, the content... how it's presented is not a big concern for me as long as it's easy to use/read.

So points number 2 and especially 4 have merit but the rest I don't agree with.
 

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Starting next year, libraries will be lending Kindle books, which will be a big shift. The article mentions a lack of "added value." One such added value not mentioned is the ereaders' ability to promote tourism by providing related tourism links to settings in a novel.

When enough Kindle novels start promoting tourism in this way, the national media will pick up the story fast, which will sell more Kindles.
 

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I read the article and can see where he's coming from.  But, I wonder why most of the critiques always assume that a Kindle owner has to have all ebooks or all paper books?  I imagine most Kindle owners have both ebooks and DTBs. 
 

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The article seemed shallow, to me.

The idea of the physical library or filled set of bookshelves in the home originated in the days when only really rich people could afford printed copies of books -- a status symbol in the same way collections of rare biological specimens or trophies brought back from far away lands were status symbols. Collections of any physical object or set of objects seem intimately bound up in a subconscious human need to accumulate stuff. There are collectors, and there are non-collectors, or minimalists, or barbarians (or whatever you want to call us  ;) ).

The point the author could have delved into in much more depth was the one about annotations. A subset of the annotation problem is the flipping issue, intimately related to the post-it-note (preferably in sizes individually tailored to the note to be made on the item of interest on that particular page) issue. Anyone who's done much research in bound volumes knows what I mean. It could be more of an age issue, and perhaps we're too old to relearn the research skills we acquired in our youth. However, just for recreationally reading fiction, this isn't a serious problem. Ebooks as research material have a long way to go, IMHO.
 

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The only thing I find I can vaguely relate to is four.

1. A physical book not being read. There must be a reason for it. I have a" to read" collection for that

2. This doesn't happen to physical books either. I only own amazon books. On my iPod I have apps for other companies but they have no books on there.

3. I can't bring myself to mark an actual book

5. Decor. No need for books as decor when there is no more space for it.
 

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I agree that the highlighting and notes feature on the kindle just doesn't work for me.  By the time I actually have the text I want highlighted I've forgotten what kind of comment I wanted to add.  When I'm reading something for research or analysis, I will always buy a hard copy so I can sticky note and tab and mark on.  The other items on the list didn't really bother me, though I agree that e-book prices are too expensive. 
 

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I totally agree on the pricing issue.  That is my biggest pet peeve.  Publishers have jacked up the pricing on popular authors and are really sticking it to the consumer.  DRM ensures there is no competition so they can charge whatever they want.
 

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There's some meat in that article, but a lot of, fat, for lack of a better word.

The pricing question certainly is meaty. Mass market/big publisher books are overpriced in many cases. That's likely to be the case for some time as they try and establish a high price ceiling so that they can continue to exist in a form that resembles their current one. I'm not sure that this is realistic, but it will be a driving force. Comic book publishers are in the same boat (DC having just announced day and date digital comics for the same price as paper comics -- a losing proposition, and hardly the way to grow a new market.) So, sure, you can argue that point in the author's favor.

Seems to me that most of the other points all refer back to "eBooks aren't paper books." There's good sides to that and bad ones. Right now, it sure seems that the good outweighs the bad, at least for me.

Frankly the "you can't keep them all in one library" is nothing short of ludicrous. Do you have bookshelves large enough to keep all of your books in one? Do you have a room big enough to keep all of them in the same place? I sure don't, and I don't have *that* many books, but I do have a lot of shelves. Now, I won't argue against the desire to have a single index of eBooks across all applications. But it's hardly a deal-breaker.
 

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One objection to e-books I've heard is that it takes electricity to charge the battery whereas paper books obviously doesn't. BUT, it takes electricity to read paper books at night (or candlelight). I'm of the mindset that if you can't find enough electricity to recharge your Kindle, you've got bigger problems than ebook vs. paper.
 

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What a bunch of malarkey, really.  eBooks are disposable but not priced as such? I've never read a dumber statement in my life. How much cheaper than 99 cents would they have to become to be considered disposable?
 
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