Monday, July 27, 2009

The Digital Debate - Ben Johncock's Thoughts

This morning, faced with kicking off the discussion of e-readers and digital books, I took the coward's option and decided not to weigh in with my views first (this will give me more time to poll the local population - here read trips to the pub). So, scanning the tweets of the morning, I stumbled across the wonderful Ben Johncock who describes himself as an unpublished author, freelance writer who blogs for The Bookseller. I think Ben's website does a far better job though. He made the mistake of tweeting a link about Apple's new tablet pc here. I shamelessly asked if he would share his thoughts which he did via tweets.... (I have edited out the @lizfenwick except at the start!)

@lizfenwick Hi Liz, glad to be of help! It's an interesting question you ask, as I'm both a book lover and Apple nut.

I think it's important to remember that digital is all about convenience and quality (more and better). Books are consumed in a totally different way to music. A novel you consume slowly over time, whereas a song is only a few mins.
Walkmans sucked because you could only carry 20 songs, tops, with you at any one time. Quality was an issue too, and access.
With music, you dip in and out, listen to many different songs (products) in a short space of time. No so with books.
Digital Books are trying to solve a problem that no one has.
I remember @ meandmybigmouth saying something like, you don't start your morning with a bit of Amis, then skip to McEwan, then onto Rushdie.
Watching the book trade trying to keep up with the digital age is like watching your dad dance at a wedding...they're having a go, but it's a bit embarrassing at times.
The success of the iPod was down to the software anyway, and no one I've seen re eBooks has even remotely addressed this.
And who can then? What electronics company does good software? I can only think of one.
Hardware, ok, even if it does look like the hideously deformed bastard child of a Spectrum & a microwave (Kindle), not software.
So that's what I think, at least for novels. Scott Pack has some interesting ideas re cook books, travel etc.

What are your thoughts? Thus far only 20 of you have voted in our poll. Come on and join the debate...


Louise Allen said...

I'm not anti, I'm just baulking at the technology and the choice. What to buy? It will never replace paper books for me, I'm sure, but I'd like to be able to reduce the extra suitcase I lug on holiday or to buy books that are only available electronically, especially having just had one out myself in Harlequin's Undone Historical series (Disrobed & Dishonored)
I want easy to read, easy to use, easy on the eyes. Price not quite such an issue if I can get something I can live with comfortably, so I'm hoping this debate will give me a firm recomendation.

Anita Burgh said...

I am excited by the concept but still a mite confused. I have problems with my eyes (AMD) and can no longer read last thing at night, so I play with my Nintendo (I am only 9!) So, I'm hoping that this will solve the problem for me since I gather I can change the font size. Can't wait.

Jenny Haddon said...

I have come close to buying one a couple of times but, like Louise, I can't decide which one.

Every time I'm nearly there, though, I realise that I found it really irritating to read one lying on my front (scroll down with your nose?) And they're not really bath-friendly, either. And they don't smell right.

But, for planes and trains and keeping the weight of the suitcase down, they definitely have their place.

Only - which?

Ben Johncock said...

Wait, ladies, wait! See what Uncle Steve will pull out of his hat later this year. You'll have an easy to use, seamless and stable experience, which will also allow you to surf the web and watch movies on it too.... All this is just rumour at this point, you understand :)

Liz Harris said...

Digital books is an interesting idea, but I'd be almost scared to buy any of the technology at present available in case something more satisfactory came out the following week! Technology is moving so fast.

I, too, will be very curious to see if anything emerges from this discussion that has proved to be head and shoulders above the other options.