Thursday, May 17, 2007


First, just let me say that yes, it is annoying that every discussion of ebooks turns into a bitchfest about the ebook format. Second, yes, it is annoying that ebooks have so many DRM and other restrictions. But...

Over on the TrekBBS, Terri Osborne asked:
Last I checked, a book in electronic form is a book in electronic form. What's the difference between an eBook page and an Internet page? You read both of them on a screen, don't you? No, don't answer that.
Sorry, but I will answer that. Books and newspapers can both be read on paper. Doesn't mean I read a novel the way I read a newspaper. With newspapers, I skim some bits, skip some bits, devote some real attention to a few bits, but don't generally mind interruptions. Doesn't matter what kind of distractions are going on around me. With novels, I need a fair amount of time devoid of interruptions and distractions, because I need a greater degree of concentration in order to remember a cast of characters and visualize them, their settings, and the events unfolding around them, over the course of dozens of pages rather than a couple of column inches.

I read stuff like the TrekBBS the way I read a newspaper. It's not immersive. In the time I was online there this morning I listened to the new Arctic Monkeys album and moved on to the Heptones, answered a few phone calls, had a conversation about last night's episode of Lost, and swapped back and forth between a few sites and applications in other windows.

I couldn't read a novel this way. Some people do, but it doesn't work for me.

Reading TrekBBS (or the LJ friends page) is not the same as reading a novel. Not for me. I buy the ebooks to support the line and support the authors, but I've read maybe one downloaded ebook so far, in two or three years of buying them. And I read that one on paper, because reading a BBS or a few blog posts is not the same as reading fiction.