Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Modern World

These days I always seem to be around a computer and a printer but when I want something as simple as a ruler I can never find one and Rymans will be shut. Luckily we have the internet.

How cool is the modern world? Or is it a tragedy that I'm surrounded by a computer and printer and not something as simple as an old wooden device for measuring things?

In an aside and related to a post below about e-reader stuff here are a selection of things which I reckon means there won't be an 'ipod moment' for electronic books (general trade like what we sell, not educational or academic or journals or newspapers for which the e-reader is destined). They are all things for which the ipod is a genius bit of kit:

  • You can't dance and read an e-book
  • You can't go for a run and read an e-book
  • You can't ride a bike and read an e-book
  • You can't go to the gym and read an e-book
  • You can't ride a skateboard and read an e-book
  • You can't go rollerblading and read an e-book
  • You can't go hiking and read an e-book
  • You can't do the washing up and read an e-book
  • You can't do the ironing and read an e-book
  • You can't do the hoovering and read an e-book
  • You can't drive a car and read an e-book
  • You can't just lie back and listen to music and read an e-book
  • etc.
And can you think of a single instance where you'd be reading your e-book when you couldn't be listening to your ipod also/instead?

In a nutshell then, the ipod is universal, the e-reader is specific. All of the above and more are why there was an 'ipod moment', it's not transferable to books, it's just not the same and surely that's obvious and those are my thoughts until the next time.


  1. Chris WildJuly 07, 2008

    This is of course missing one important point... the iPod, well at least the iPod touch, almost is the perfect eBook.

    Although not great, reading web pages on a iPod touch/iPhone is a good experience. And although I would never choose to read that way by default, I would happily use it in those times where I find carrying a book problematic or indeed I just find myself without my book.

    Secondly, I now listen to more audio books - for exactly all those iPod reasons you gave. Sometimes I consider these the equivilent of a "first read", and then may read the actualy book again later.

    So, if I could just upload the book to my iPod/iPhone eReader and have DECENT speech software, we'd have a perfect solution. ( We are still many years from this, but we WILL have it)

    - Not as a replacement, but as an parallel.

  2. I have just been given the HB of a new translation of Les Miserables which is 1330 pages long. I can barely lift it. There is no way I am going to be able to take it anywhere out of the house with me. This is one of those occasions where it would be handy to have an e-book version that I could read in parallel when on the move.

    I think e-books will have their uses, but unlike mp3 players I don't think they will make the original obsolete. And am I not getting something - you can just lie back and listen to music and read an e-book, no?

  3. AnonymousJuly 07, 2008

    yes but you can't lie there gazing at shelves of e-books for hours can you?

    With music you can listen to an album in 45 minutes and put another one on. Books take weeks - months sometimes - to get through. And while they're being read 200 others taunt you from the shelf. "I know" you say, "I do want to read you, badly, but this Howard Hughes biography is *serious* and I may be some time."

    But still you lie there at night and after you’ve put Howard down you stare at the other lovely books. All the knowledge coming your way *one day*, all the thrills of reading really clever people writing really good words. Yay!

    Then the day comes and after a four year buildup you try to read Thomas Pynchon, get confused, and feel like an idiot, but never mind, there's lots more to choose from. Will I ever brave Don DeLillo? Is it wrong to keep going back to crime fiction whenever I’m in a rut? Who’s next in the biography queue? Can I read a book about Paraguay over a Tour de France history *during* the Tour de France? (Not really, no).

    And so on. I just can't see the sort of excessive attachment to an e-book. Books are very tangible things.


  4. AnonymousJuly 08, 2008


    Yes you and I can "just lie back and listen to music and read an e-book", but that is because we are women. You forget that the creators of this blog are mere men.

    It's called multi-tasking and, like the decent speech software, man is many years away from achieving it.



    Paste that into yer browsers for Nick Hornby's 2p worth.

    E-Books? I think we have a good few years watching idiots try to fix something that ain't broke.

  6. Chris WildJuly 10, 2008

    Oh, Nick Hornby must be right... it's never going to work because it doesn't work now...

    ( We can never deliver films online, because no-one will download them on a modem at 300baud! )