Printed E-Books

Tech pundits are quick to decry the demise of printed books, but as an old codger of sorts, I think printed books on pulp have nothing to fear. The number one reason I feel that print will be around for a good long while? It boils down to eye strain – or lack thereof, when reading a physical book compared to viewing the same contents on a screen.

Reading text on a computer display for long periods of time gives me noticeable eye fatigue. For me, printed books don’t have that problem. I think it has something to do with the fact that when I’m viewing a computer screen, I don’t blink quite as often as I should.
Full disclosure: I haven’t tried reading books on devices like an iPad.

So… what are your thoughts on Milton’s prognostication? Think printed books are going the way of the dodo? Or are print books here to stay? Share your points below!


Update: caption was tweaked a few hours back, in case you saw it earlier this morning.

These beautiful and intelligent people wrote

  • Ebby PeterReply
    October 18, 2010 at 12:49 am

    E-book readers are making headway.. they dont cause eye-strain too…
    So maybe in the not so near future, there might be a chance… :)

  • NV PhiReply
    October 18, 2010 at 4:43 am

    I don’t think paper books have much to fear. Methinks peaceful coexistence will be the paradigm for a long while. Besides, who wants to be locked down to electric-powered digital devices all day and all night?

    As a performing musician I look forward to getting my scores digitized for easy reference and stage use at a piano (via laptop), but at the same time the fundamental printed page has its undeniable qualities. You can toss your printed scores around the room with wild abandon, but do that with your portable computer and you’re liable for a trip to the sanitarium.

  • Theala SildorianReply
    October 18, 2010 at 8:31 am

    I think ebooks make a good compliment to physical books, but won’t replace them for several reasons:

    1. Eye strain, like Krishna mentioned, is important but probably not being considered by most younger folks who tend not to think about such things.

    2. Rapidly changing technology means rapidly changing formats. Kindle may be popular today, but it has fierce competition from iPad, which uses a different format. Because formats change so often, ebooks are really not permanent in the sense physical books are.

    For example, I have a number of important documents written years ago that I have difficulty accessing because they are so old. Most of them are in Claris Draw or an early form of Word Perfect. I keep an older iMac capable of opening them on hand, but it won’t last forever. Yet reformatting them into current formats is time consuming, and I know I’ll have to do it again in the future.

    3. Electronic books are often nearly as expensive as printed books, for no good reason. Which means people usually buy one or the other, but not both. Given the limitations of ebooks, if I have a choice I buy the physical version. I can loan the physical version out, have it loaned to me, borrow it from the library. You can’t do that with ebooks.

    4. Physical books are easier to flip through if you want to go back and forth between pages. This is especially important in non-fiction works used as references.

    5. I don’t own an ereader, so this might not be true . . . but IIRC you can’t highlight passages in an ebook. You can’t tab pages for quick opening of the book to reference.

    I’m sure there are other reasons, but these are the ones that pop into mind.

  • Tony JReply
    October 20, 2010 at 7:58 am

    NV Phi – electronic sheet music readers are already here. I saw a demonstration at a brass band contest about 2 years ago in Perth, Scotland, although I can’t remember the name of it now.
    A Google search did come up with this, though;

    Expensive, but would do the job and may not be that extortionate for a professional musician to purchase.

    Personally, I can’t see paper ever being replaced for books. Whilst there are still trees to use to create the paper, books will exist in my opinion. I’m NOT so sure about newspapers and magazines, however….

  • Kevin RubinReply
    October 22, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Well, I only read my first ebook this week, on my iPad… I sort of resisted, first in India because knowing I was going to move back to the U.S. I wanted to read all my paper books so I wouldn’t have to carry or repurchase them, then here in the U.S. I read a couple of paper ones…

    But as I don’t have furniture in my apartment yet, there’s nowhere to lay comfortably with a physical book and the right lighting to read, so I started one on the iPad… It’s great so far.

    And you can highlight passages on the iPad’s software. Granted, you can’t easily flip amongst pages (or at least, not that I’ve tried) back and forth and things. But it’s so much cooler than Adobe Acrobat Reader on the desktop or laptop…

  • ThomasReply
    October 26, 2010 at 1:11 am

    Printed books can be read anywhere, will suffer but not die when read on the beach, in the tub, on a rainy day at the bus stop AND
    books can be purchased and sold and purchased and sold without any worry about digital rights, forbidden copying or exotic file formats nobody uses (anymore).
    They look great on your shelf and you can make a good impression to literate people.
    Printed books forever!!

  • Keith C. SmithReply
    November 28, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I actually find my eye strain is a lot less reading my kindle than reading a physical book. Plus the one major advantages is the lack of clutter around the house this creates, no more need to have all those star wars books on my book self, that equates to a big win in my mind.

Tell me what you think!