Your Thoughts on Books

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Bassoon
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Your Thoughts on Books

Postby Bassoon » Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:00 pm UTC

Yes, wow, general topic. Although, I'll clarify that here. What I mean is, setting aside all other aspects of a book, and only looking at the noun "book." What do you think of them? Are digital books best? Are you a bibliophile?

Personally, I could never use a digital book. A book is more than the plot, characters, and plot devices...It's the texture of the paper, the typeface, the feeling of the text under your fingers, the smell of the paper, the papercuts...Maybe I'm nuts, but a book is more than a plot to me.

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rutebega
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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby rutebega » Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:01 pm UTC

I read books.

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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby cathrl » Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:40 pm UTC

Bassoon wrote:Yes, wow, general topic. Although, I'll clarify that here. What I mean is, setting aside all other aspects of a book, and only looking at the noun "book." What do you think of them? Are digital books best? Are you a bibliophile?

Personally, I could never use a digital book. A book is more than the plot, characters, and plot devices...It's the texture of the paper, the typeface, the feeling of the text under your fingers, the smell of the paper, the papercuts...Maybe I'm nuts, but a book is more than a plot to me.


I was going to say "me too" and then my husband looked over my shoulder and said "but you read fanfiction onscreen all the time."

He's right. It would never occur to me to print out fanfic before reading it. And yet I love my real books. Guess I'm just weird.

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Mr. Beck
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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby Mr. Beck » Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:42 pm UTC

Books: I'm a fan.

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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby Skwee » Sat Aug 30, 2008 1:52 am UTC

Bassoon wrote:Personally, I could never use a digital book. A book is more than the plot, characters, and plot devices...It's the texture of the paper, the typeface, the feeling of the text under your fingers, the smell of the paper, the papercuts...Maybe I'm nuts, but a book is more than a plot to me.

You're absolutely right.

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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby OmenPigeon » Sat Aug 30, 2008 3:34 am UTC

Bassoon wrote:Personally, I could never use a digital book. A book is more than the plot, characters, and plot devices...It's the texture of the paper, the typeface, the feeling of the text under your fingers, the smell of the paper, the papercuts...Maybe I'm nuts, but a book is more than a plot to me.

I can empathize with this a great deal. A few years ago I was forced (by Circumstances) to sell around 200 books out of my personal library, and it was a surprisingly painful process. Most of them were books that I knew I was never going to pick up again, and yet letting go of the physical artifacts was distressing. There's definitely something deeply resonant with look and feel of rows of spines on a shelf, and the feel of flipping through pages and remembering why I dog-eared this chapter or drew exclamation points next to that section. PDF files don't capture this at all.

At the same time, I can't fathom at all the hatred you (and others across the Internet) seem to feel for digital texts. I think as a culture we're still in the beginning stages of figuring out the differences between books in treeware and books in software, and I feel like dismissing one out of hand as completely inferior is absurd. It's true that reading trying to read a poorly formatted .txt file in whatever that hideous monospace font is that Notepad uses is painful, but books on a computer can be so much more than that. Read all the way through the various bits of The Dionaea House and tell me that it would be as good printed on pulp. And reading words on screens has a powerful appeal for a lot of people --- just look at how well Cory Doctorow's done getting people to read entire novels on a computer.

Basically, what it means for something to be a book is changing. And while I may not ever love a Kindle the same way I do my taped-together book of essays by Camus, words on screens are becoming much more important than words on paper.
As long as I am alive and well I will continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in scraps of useless information.
~ George Orwell

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LL Cool J
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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby LL Cool J » Sat Aug 30, 2008 3:36 am UTC

I'd much rather a "real" book than a digital one. Most of my reading is done on the train, in the car, in bed or outside, and I don't fancy carting a computer round everywhere just to be able to read. I also find that scrolling down on a computer screen is much more disruptive of the flow of the reading than turning a page. I even print out all my lecture powerpoints and notes rather than read them online.

But I guess if there was something relatively short, or something I really wanted to read, I'd rather read it on a computer screen than not at all.
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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby Avelion » Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:10 am UTC

I like regular books. Owning them makes me feel smart and digital books of today make my eyes hurt. That being said though I would kill someone for one of those holographic readers from Ergo Proxy.
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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby Azrael001 » Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:17 am UTC

I prefer standard paperback sized books for any type of reading. I don't like printer paper as it is too big, and huge chunks of text on screen make my head hurt. Also holding the book is nice.
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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:29 am UTC

Everyone denouncing digital books should try an ebook reader before you're so quick to decry them. I agree that scrolling on a computer screen, dealing with staring at what is essentially a pattern of lights for a while, etc, can be irritating. Ebook readers, in my small experience, are absolutely wonderful, however, and virtually indistinguishable from print, except for the fact that they're much smaller, lighter, and can be read in a windy environment. I like paper books, I do, but I for one welcome our new digital text overlords. I imagine what I'll eventually do is buy/pirate ebooks first and particularly well-loved pieces of literature will be bought.
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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby sje46 » Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:31 am UTC

I like fiction. Novels. The longer the better.

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Invertebrate
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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby Invertebrate » Sat Aug 30, 2008 1:47 pm UTC

While I am not adverse to reading the occasional fanfic or webcomic, my usual desire is to go up to the author and say, 'When are you getting it published?' I can think of no pleasure greater than a new book. Buying it at the shop, peeking at it all the way to the bus. Reading the first four chapters on the way home, and then crashing into people in the street as you go from the stop to your house. Running up the stairs to leap onto your bed and smell your book and look at your book and maybe even taste your book, and then reading it all in one dizzy sitting, then reading it again, and then finding a little spot for it on your shelf...I'm drooling, I want more books. My room is a shrine to the written word. I was dizzy with excitement when the last Harry Potter book came out, and I honestly don't think it had all to do with the expected content. I just...love books. I have three full works of Shakespeare, simply because they are beautiful editions.
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Narsil
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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby Narsil » Sat Aug 30, 2008 3:18 pm UTC

OmenPigeon wrote:Read all the way through the various bits of The Dionaea House and tell me that it would be as good printed on pulp.

It would be much better actually, because it would be a book called House of Leaves. This totally had me going for a second, but I was done when it got to discussing the house's sentience. So shameless, it isn't funny.
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OmenPigeon
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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby OmenPigeon » Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:39 pm UTC

Narsil wrote:
OmenPigeon wrote:Read all the way through the various bits of The Dionaea House and tell me that it would be as good printed on pulp.

It would be much better actually, because it would be a book called House of Leaves. This totally had me going for a second, but I was done when it got to discussing the house's sentience. So shameless, it isn't funny.

Yes, the comparisons are obvious and unfortunately if you stopped halfway through you didn't get to the part where Dionaea House really does one thing better than House of Leaves.

House of Leaves does pretty much everything you can do to confound a reader's expectations of how a book (printed on paper, bound and sold on shelves) works --- the colors, the footnotes in footnotes, the text falling all over the page, important parts of the story contained in the appendices, all that fantastic stuff. For all that though, it's still a book printed on dead trees and for the most part you read it from front to back and then it's over.

If you get to the end of Dionaea House, there's a couple links to blogs and other websites that actually continue the story from the perspective of characters in the story, reverse chronological posts and all. Then, if you pay attention to the comments on the blogs, some of which are by readers and not the author, you can find even more blogs and websites by people not even mentioned in the first text.

I find this unfathomably cool. The idea that, if you happened to be hip to this at just the right time you could have actually watched the story happen in an RSS feed, or that someone might somehow come across one of the ancillary blogs first without ever having read the main text, and still find a way to reconstruct the entire story. For all its flaws (and there are many) Dionaea House is the first novel(la?) sized work I've seen that really takes a good run at being deeply hypertextual.

Imagine if Mark Danielewski had spent ten years meticulously crafting websites, and finding just the right page in Wikipedia where he could get part of his story into the article and make sure it didn't get deleted or edited out. Tell me that wouldn't be even more awesome than House of Leaves. And, to bring this around back to the topic, only ever possible to read digitally.
As long as I am alive and well I will continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take pleasure in scraps of useless information.

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Aequitas
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Re: Your Thoughts on Books

Postby Aequitas » Thu Sep 11, 2008 2:02 am UTC

I'm not interested in things like Kindle due to DRM issues. I typically have 5 or so books sitting on my shelf that I want to read, so being able to "instantly" get a book has no inherent appeal for me as I just instantly move on to the next planned read. Plus, a non-digital book advertises what you like to read and who you are in a way. I keep hoping that will be useful for dating purposes. Maybe I'll eventually see an attractive lady at a bookstore who is reading something I've at least heard of. Most of the time it looks like they are reading chick-lit. You may call that unfair, but I am as equally uninterested in people who read overly manly books.


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