Paper Books vs. Digital Books

There has been a long, highly repetitious discussion of eBooks vs. proper books, fueled mostly by a mention in Freshly Pressed (which highlights sites on this service) and I don’t see a good reason to post any additional comments but rather will post a few considerations here.

First, the viability of printed books in the growing age of digital books is strictly a reflection of market forces. No matter how many subscribers to a weblog dedicated to reading announce that they prefer books, the smell of books, the juvenile prestige of being seen reading a big fat book, the love of idly flipping through pages or desperately flipping through pages looking for a vaguely remembered passage, or the glory of bookshelves full of books (read or unread), if the publishers can make a bigger profit off of digital editions, the traditional books will soon be priced as luxury items and effectively disappear from most of the reading market.

I don’t suspect all books will disappear. There are many that are more easily accessed in traditional book form, at least for now. Two types of books I have heard mentioned are children’s picture books and student text books. These are bad examples.

Printed books are a relic of the past and will never improve whereas digital books are today mostly just copies of traditional books with a few digital enhancements like a keen search feature that eliminates endless page flipping to find a passage. But we are beginning to see more digital books incorporating other digital media which expands and enhances the book. I have several digital books today which are interactive, embed video or audio, link to footnotes or alternate texts, allow changes to text size, bookmarks, notes, etc. The best I have ever seen a proper book do in this direction is to tape a CD on the back inside cover.

Some first edition hardbound books are printed using different colored text where the author indicates and including color plates but this is very expensive and usually disappears after the earlier editions. By the time the book comes out in paper it is all black and white. Multiple colors (not just four but thousands) are trivial enhancements to digital books. True, color requires a color reader but most vendors have been enhancing their readers and a color option is readily available.

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Checks and Balances

A television spot I saw yesterday summed up the general polls in this country by saying,

Americans don’t want to go to war and want to raise the taxes on the rich.

What are we hearing from the Republican, conservative, neo-cons that are vying for power?

Prepare for war with Iran and under no circumstances raise the taxes of the rich and super-rich.

Why is it that these people are even listened to, let alone voted for? I know, they create a false reality, foment fear and distrust, manipulate or buy the elections, and prevaricate to the max. Don’t blame them:  they have to:  they are Republicans.

Furthermore they are an aging plutocracy of selfish white men, for the most part, that is not going to survive the quiet take-over of this country by women, gays, Latins, blacks, Asians, and youth. But beware:  a dying beast can lash out and do a lot of damage.

Bill Maher admitted that he had tweeted something pointing out the open-admission by the Republicans in congress that they would do nothing until after the election since they didn’t want to take a chance on making a mistake that might help Obama. Maher, although he later suggested it might be too strong a word, called this action (or non-action) treason. Let’s see, if a person or body of people openly do things (or not do necessary things) that will harm the government and the people of the United States of America, is that treasonous?

Probably, but the Republicans have done that for years. If this government was operated as a business (listen-in Mitt) then most of the congress would be looking for work instead of looking for corporate handouts. If we truly have a system of checks and balances, then I don’t see why the Executive Branch doesn’t step up to rap the knuckles of the rogue Supreme Court and make the do-nothing congress go stand in the corner while the real members of the Legislative Branch work to get things done and to better life in this country for all Americans, not just the one-percent.

A Common Misconception

I’ve lost the attribution for this quotation but whether it’s Howard Zinn or Sarah Jessica Parker, it’s a good one:

There is a common misperception, fed primarily by Conservatives and corporations, that Progressives are anti-business. That isn’t true. Progressives just don’t happen to think corporate interests should supersede human interests and Progressives don’t believe corporate interests should supersede peoples’ rights. That doesn’t make Progressives “anti-business,” it simply makes Progressives pro-democracy.

Conservative judges have ruled and both Democratic and Republican politicians have claimed that corporations — lifeless entities existing only on paper — are to be granted rights equal or greater to those possessed by the people. Regardless of the value of a corporation’s capital, Progressives do not believe an inanimate object can possess rights. How can something that exists only in concept possess the unalienable right to free speech? The CEO and all the people working for the corporation have rights, but a non-living corporation certainly doesn’t have any rights. What’s more, a corporation certainly should not have the “free speech right” to bribe politicians so that they act in ways harmful to the welfare of the people. Progressives do not believe a corporation should be allowed to override the vote and Will of the people. No corporation’s interests should ever be allowed to trump and nullify the wishes and desires of a community.

Corporations exist solely for the purpose of turning a profit. Progressives recognize this reality and accept it. However, Progressives do not think corporate profits should outweigh what is best for the people and resources. If a corporation is forced to choose between water quality or increased profits; if a corporation is forced to choose between reducing air pollution or increased profits; if a corporation is forced to choose between reducing toxic effluent or increased profits; if a corporation is forced to choose between reducing childhood leukemia-causing byproducts or increasing profits; if a corporation is forced to choose between decreasing the discharge of a chemical known to cause breast cancer in women or increasing profits; and if a corporation is forced to choose between using non-lead-based paint in children’s toys or increased profits … corporations are going to choose increasing profits. Corporations exist for no other reason than to increase profits. Progressives understand that paradigm and believe it is the government’s job to ensure wealthy corporations and their drive for increased profits do not cause harm to the people or their environment.

It might be easy to paint Progressives as “anti-business,” but it isn’t true. Progressives are pro-people and pro-democracy, but that doesn’t make Progressives “anti-business.” Progressives simply expect the people operating within the limited confines of a corporation’s interests to conduct their business in a manner that respects the people, communities, and environments within which they operate. That isn’t “anti-business,” that is pro-humanity.

Hmmmm … if you spin the argument and admit that Progressives are actually anti-business (as well as pro-people and pro-democracy), then it follows that those supporting business are themselves anti-people and anti-democracy. And it’s really not a stretch to also say anti-humanity: after all, are the 99% people seen as needing opportunity and support or are they seen as markets to insure greater profits?