Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pbooks are a PITA

(PITA = Pain In the Ass)

As the photo implies, I've been reading book for a great many years. I have about four thousands pbooks (printed-on-paper books) on the shelves of my house and probably a dozen in my car. I have hundreds more on my iPad, two Kindle Fires and smart phone. I buy books from Amazon several times each week, and have many pbooks and ebooks waiting to be started or finished.

I am addicted to books, and to technology.

I don't mind being called a geek. The consumer electronics industry classifies me as an "early adopter" or "influencer/adviser." Fellow addicts (and critics) say we are on the "bleeding edge."

I know that if I wait for the second generation of a new product, I can get a better gadget for less money. Most of the time, passion overrides logic and I get the first one. 
I spent $1,200 on my first Blu-ray DVD player on the first day they were available (they now sell for as little as $77). I spent over $5k on my first HDTV (Sony 32-inch plasma). I managed to delay getting an iPad for one week. I'm sorry I waited

I've heard lots of traditionalists (technophobes? Luddites?) speak lovingly about the feel and smell of pbooks. I get no kicks from fondling books, and the only time I've noticed the smell of a book is when it got wet and became a host for mildew. 

I do enjoy, however, being surrounded by my books. I like walking past my bookshelves, glancing at titles and being reminded of past pleasures, and being reminded of anticipated pleasures from books I've paid for but have not read.

On one recent morning I plucked one of those books from a shelf and took it into the bedroom. I assumed my standard book-reading position: face-down on a double-stack of pillows, with the book between the pillows and the headboard of my bed. I aimed my lamp perfectly, selected some appropriate music, bent back the cover of the paperback, positioned a bookmark for future use, and then got really pissed off.

I have two pairs of glasses. One is optimized for "computer distance" and the other is for "book distance." Unfortunately, the type size in this book didn't work well with either pair, even if I tried adjusting the eye-to-page distance. I longed for an e-version of the book where I could experiment with different type sizes, typefaces, page colors and even try both landscape and portrait page orientation.

I found something interesting on page 17 and grabbed my always-handy red pen. I underlined a few words and then turned to the inside-back cover and scrawled "17" for future reference. I realized how primitive my procedure is, compared to just tapping the words in an ebook to highlight them.

After I was finished with the reading session, I searched for the bookmark. It had somehow gotten stuck between my two pillows. With an ebook, there is no need to bookmark when I stop reading. I just stop. The Mighty Amazon knows where I left off, and allows me to resume a book I started on my iPad in my bed, on a Kindle Fire in my car, or at a PC on my desk.

The mere reading of a pbook requires the use of one or two hands to hold the book open and to tilt it upward. An ebook stays open to the proper page and stands at the proper angle without human intervention.

If I use a finger swipe to "turn" an electronic page, I always advance to the next page. With a pbook, pages sometimes stick together and I may move from  113 to 116. 

Printed pages just can't compare with the convenience of ebooks.

I know that today's ebooks don't offer the design flexibility of pbooks.

I know that current tablets and e-readers probably won't be working a century or a millennium from now, and I have urged authors to publish in both e and p formats if they want future readers to know what they thought in the early 21st century.

HOWEVER, compared to ebooks, pbooks are a Pain In The Ass to read, and I can't easily transport hundreds of them to read while in a doctor's waiting room, in a car, on a plane, in a hotel room or while waiting for a movie to start.


photo of mildewed books from Thanks.  

1 comment:

  1. Interesting idea about the e-book kit. I must say that I enjoyed reading your remarks. Thanks for sharing this as I agree with most if not all that you say. very best regards from Mike Wilkins.