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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

eInk, eInk, eInk....Bloody eInk

I'm going to rant a little here - The Archive has been pro-eBook since day one. That's not to say that I don't love conventional books because I do but I'm fed up of reading articles and listening to reports on eBooks given or written by people who don't know the difference between a dedicated eReader and a tablet computer, people who haven't been bothered to research the subject. And many of these people are industry people - no wonder conventional publishing is is the mess it is.

The otherwise excellent online radio show, Litopia falls flat on its face when talking about eBooks simply because most of the folks talking do not have a clue what they are talking about. Radio Four also did a report on eBooks and were mumbling on about the Ipad. And only today I read an article by Hadley Franklin that bemoans the loss of real books. You can find this article HERE but it ends with Miss Hedley writing -  "But if the next generation grows up reading past bedtime by the glow of an ipad… well, I hope that their books will hold the same power".

Now an iPad is a mini computer and if one  read entire books on it they'll probably end up visiting the opticians. Dedicated eReaders like the Sony, The Kindle, The Nook and others use a technology called eInk which closely simulates ink and paper and doesn't have a backlight. You'll still need a flashlight to read in the dark, Miss Hedley.

Miss Hedley also writes (note the word Tablet) - "I’m not running from technology or the virtual writing world. But here’s why I haven’t bought a tablet: I love the aesthetic of books. I love that smell, I love the lines of colorful spines on a shelf, I love pulling a book in front of my face and shutting out the world."

Now anyone wanting to really experience eBooks won't truly get it if they read-in on a phone or an iPad. They really need to visit a shop and test out a dedicated eReader, one that uses eInk. That is the only way to truly see what all the fuss is about. Reading on a dedicated eReader doesn't feel like reading on a computer screen - it feels like, well reading a conventional book but without the bulk. Yes you can read eBooks on computer screens and phones and iPads but the difference is immense. No screen glare with eInk, no artificial feel to the pages.

To offer an explanation - the difference between eInk and PC screens is as great as the difference between reading a real book or reading that book as badly photocopied pages. Your task is to inform not misinform.

Come on guys, get with the program.

If anyone owns a dedicated eReader - Sony, Kindle whatever then please leave a comment and explain how alike conventional paper and ink eInk is.


djfanboy said...

Of course it's not 100% like paper, it's an electronic version of paper. but reading it IS like reading a paper book, either paperback or hardcover, and 100% UNLIKE reading on a computer. No screen glare, no back lighting, no having to blink every several minutes or so to keep your eyes from crossing. I LOVE my Kindle 2 (prefer it over the K3 for the added side length to rest my big thumbs on).

That said, I really do NOT think eBooks and eReaders will squash physical books flat. I think people will always be reading their physical books; hell, there are a bunch I have kept myself and don't plan to get rid of. But I think eReaders are a good alternative, especially for those people with physical problems; i.e., hand/arm issues, eye problems, etc. Not being able to hold a paperback book open with one hand may be literally crippling a lot of people. So having an eBook and eReader present in hospitals, retirement homes, those places and more, may be beneficial. And a great source of business for eReader companies

But that's me.

Davieboy said...

I love my new Kidle, easy on the eye and does away with handling huge unwieldy books.
Having said that I'm still buying physical books, mainly to keep pristine as collectors' items whilst actually reading on the Kindle.
I think anybody paying for a conventional hardback book should get the ebook thrown in for free.

Matthew P. Mayo said...

We have an iPad and it's a pleasure to read books on. No eye strain or any of that silliness. The graphic quality is amazing.

As someone who spends all day reading and writing at a computer, you're off the mark on saying that someone who reads entire books on an iPad will end up visiting opticians. Baloney.

Also, the ebook "experience" is just as nifty on an iPad as a Nook or Kindle. I've used them all and the "experience" is there, fine and dandy. The difference between reading a real book and badly photocopied pages? Again, not hardly.

These are my opinions based on substantial experience. Your mileage may vary.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

Matt - I love my own iPad. In fact I have it with me and use it for net browsing and various other internet related things. Though to be honest it's not as good for reading eBooks as my Sony eReader. Don't get me wrong. It's an excellent pocket computer but it's no eReader. Great for digital comics though.

old guy rambling said...

-With Tongue Firmly Planted In Cheek-

You stole my fire. I was just about, when I get around to it, to blog about this very same topic. The reason, did you know that if you turned a calculator upside down you could write a few words with the calculator’s numbers and read them right from the old calculator? My post, when I got around to it, was then going to compare reading an upside down calculator to reading a printed book. I would then make the point that reading from a book is, and get this, far better than reading from an upside down calculator.

By the way—I love my Kindle, and I still buy books. When you love to read, it’s really all about the words and story.