Charles Petzold on writing books, reading books, and exercising the internal UTM

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E-Books Are Better Books

September 6, 2007
New York, N.Y.

I've always considered the printed book to be an excellent medium for transferring and assimilating information. Consequently I've been baffled in recent years when people have proposed replacing this technological marvel with some clumsy battery-powered device or, even worse, the computer screen. What's the point?

An article on the front page of the business section in today's New York Times entitled “Are Books Passé? Web Giants Envision the Next Chapter” (available online here) has convinced me that I've been wrong. Here's the passage that made me a convert to the new e-book readers:

Better books: Now that's a concept I can appreciate!


I always thought the killerapp for eBooks would be textbooks. Kids carry backpacks of hefty hardbound books between classes and home when they could carry a reader preloaded with their texts.

Lugging physical books around might someday be remembered as an inefficient system that placed a big burden on little children just to keep the existing educational infrastructure system in place.

If they can work out royalties and DRM, why not?

— a. avrashow, Thu, 6 Sep 2007 19:22:30 -0400 (EDT)

First of I would like to say that I understood the blog post as an irony. English is not really my native language, but I would say that tone of the post is indeed ironical.

I am pretty sure that arguments from the NYT article is not something that can be considered convincing at all. And the main problem is that 'quality' of the book has nothing to do with the technical characteristics of the data storage be it a piece of paper, flash drive or a cave painting.

I also would like to add that I totally agree with the opinion expressed in some of the previous blog entries, saying that having all kinds of hypertext in the book just distracts the readers from the book itself.

Lev Kurts, Fri, 7 Sep 2007 04:11:21 -0400 (EDT)

Actually I prefer to traditional books because I find it really tiring to read on any electronic facilities! Those screens do a lot of harm on my eyes,I think.

But as what you said, if ebooks can improve into a new stage with better quality and more fantastic characteristics which physical books don't have, I will buy them.

Jin, Fri, 7 Sep 2007 04:20:28 -0400 (EDT)

I've recently purchased one of the new electronic paper based e-books (Sony's). While these first generation models have shortcomings and foibles (quite a few in fact), I must say that the nearly paper-like display quality as well as the ability to carry around a small library makes the expense and inconveniences worthwhile to me. I also have every expectation that they will continue to improve as well.

I do not find it at all difficult to believe that electronic books are the future.

— Bart, Mon, 10 Sep 2007 22:10:55 -0400 (EDT)

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