Books of Interest for April 2013

The weather is getting quite nice down here and although I enjoy sitting out on my lanai reading and watching the alligators, books are getting more and more challenging for my eyesight. You will notice that I am attempting to gather and read digital editions of my books, even the ones I already own in ink and paper form. I really must have the ability to increase the font size to make them readable so my trusty iPad gets quite a workout.

04-01-13 – North and South — Elizabeth Gaskell
04-02-13 – Gravity’s Rainbow— Thomas Pynchon
04-03-13 – Le rouge et noir — Renate Stendhal
04-04-13 – Heat and Dust — Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
04-05-13 – Oliver Twist — Charles Dickens
04-06-13 – Hotel Iris — Yukio Ogawa
04-07-13 – Steppenwolf — Hermann Hesse
04-08-13 – A Death In the Family — James Agee
04-09-13 – As I Lay Dying — William Faulkner
04-10-13 – The Blood Oranges — John Hawkes
04-11-13 – The Magic Mountain — Thomas Mann
04-12-13 – Burmese Days — George Orwell
04-13-13 – Tortilla Flat — John Steinbeck
04-14-13 – Washington Square — Henry James
04-15-13 – Man’s Fate — Andre Malraux
04-16-13 – The Seamstress and the Wind – César Aira
04-17-13 – The Ravishing of Lol Stein – Marguerite Duras
04-18-13 – Two Years Before the Mast – Richard Henry Dana
04-19-13 – Dream of Scipio – Iain Pears
04-20-13 – Captain Blood — Raphael Sabatini
04-21-13 – Not Quite One of the Boys — Vincent W. Sakowski
04-22-13 – L. A. Confidential — James Ellroy
04-23-13 – Middle C — William H. Gass
04-24-13 – The Foundation Pit – Andrey Platonov
04-25-13 – Elective Affinities — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
04-26-13 – The Hive — Camilo José Cela
04-27-13 – The Forty-Five — Alexander Dumas
04-28-13 – The Garden of Departed Cats — Bilge Karasu
04-29-13 – Out — Natsuo Kirino
04-30-13 – La Vita Nuova — Dante Alighieri

Don’t Burn Your Books

Nicolas Carr writes in the WSJ,

Don’t Burn Your Books—Print Is Here to Stay
The e-book had its moment, but sales are slowing. Readers still want to turn those crisp, bound pages.

Lovers of ink and paper, take heart. Reports of the death of the printed book may be exaggerated.

NookEver since Amazon introduced its popular Kindle e-reader five years ago, pundits have assumed that the future of book publishing is digital. Opinions about the speed of the shift from page to screen have varied. But the consensus has been that digitization, having had its way with music and photographs and maps, would in due course have its way with books as well. By 2015, one media maven predicted a few years back, traditional books would be gone.

Half a decade into the e-book revolution, though, the prognosis for traditional books is suddenly looking brighter. Hardcover books are displaying surprising resiliency. The growth in e-book sales is slowing markedly. And purchases of e-readers are actually shrinking, as consumers opt instead for multipurpose tablets. It may be that e-books, rather than replacing printed books, will ultimately serve a role more like that of audio books—a complement to traditional reading, not a substitute.

Read the entire essay at The Wall Street Journal.

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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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