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Paper or e-book?  RSS feed

 
pioneer
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Posts: 11302
Location: Left Coast Canada
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What's your favourite and why?

I love ebooks because they don't have ink stink, I can change the font and the size of the text.  Lightweight and easy to read.

I love paper books because of the texture, super-easy to look things up and remember the 'location' in the book where the information is.  I love how the spine cracks in my favourite recipe or page.  Easy to lend and borrow.  I always buy my reference books as paper and occasionally an e-copy too. 

What do you love best?  Why?  What quality is important to you in the book.  Pictures, size, weight, information, text...? 
 
pollinator
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If its something I consider a reference book I want paper. Gardening books, solar, how to forge a knife, how to slaughter a sheep, create a food forest, water harvesting,  Etc.

If its fiction, where I read it one time and I am done, an e book is fine.

I still have a collection from the 1980's and i still refer to them. They were bought used so they are older than that. When i look at music and how storage has changed (8 tracks until now), i have to question how i would access books in a few years. Or video recordings since the reel to reel up to now.....
 
Posts: 265
Location: Abkhazia · 400m elevation · temperate climate
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Both!

A printed book will not disappear when you really need it. It is readable in sunlight and can be printed at a much higher resolution that any screen today can display.
E-Books (I only use PDF) are nice because you can keep all books without needing additional physical space. And it is easy to send them to other people that need it.
 
pioneer
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For me, paper! I love holding a book and turning the pages. Digital screens eventually fatigue my eyes whereas books do not. I enjoy seeing my books on a bookshelf and I know exactly where they are. And books don't crash
 
Posts: 167
Location: New Hampshire
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E-books ONLY!!!

I can no longer read physical books. Just the act of holding and manipulating them puts me to sleep.

I can't use Kindles because they idiotically choose to keep one of the worst features of physical books - turning pages. With a physical book you have to use pages, but they are an artificial construct unrelated to the content. Content is made up of letters, which make words, which make sentences, which make paragraphs, which make chapters, which make books, which make volumes. Each of those has natural breaks between them, which allow you to ingest the info. But a page break is unnatural and takes you out of the flow.

I can understand why they kept the page in their E-ink readers. That's because the screen technology uses so little power that they can't refresh fast enough to keep up with scrolling. But they also keep it in their phone and tablet apps. Even if they just had a button that scrolled to the next paragraph that might work - that's how I read, read a paragraph then scroll to the next one. It keeps the entire para in view so I can consume it all at once.

And I despise PDF. It is a poor hack of a data format (I had to look into it a long time ago as a programmer) designed specifically for printing - and it can't even get that right. It doesn't allow text to reflow when you resize it, so if you need to make the text larger to read it then you often end up having to move the screen left & right constantly to see the entire line. To me PDFs should ONLY be used when something MUST be printed and MUST be printed in the exact same layout each time. (And that's where it fails the worst. I've tried making PDFs where I needed exact measurements, down to the millimeter. But the same file will come out different on different printers, voiding PDF's entire reason for existing.)

These are in addition to the obvious advantages of E-books like being able to have a virtually unlimited umber of books. And a friend posited another advantage most don't consider: if your stuff is being stolen or seized, e-books can be easily deleted, preventing the thief from gaining from their crime.

Finally, most newer phones and tablets, as well as good E-ink based readers, have a resolution so good that it is virtually indistinguishable from paper. IIRC most humans can't see at any better than 300DPI. (But I can still see how paper's illumination profile can sometimes be better.)
 
pioneer
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Posts: 1014
Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
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Books! Books get read many times in my house.

E-books get partially read and are abandoned. It takes great effort to dig into one.

Besides, I can't curl up with my desk top.
 
Sebastian Köln
Posts: 265
Location: Abkhazia · 400m elevation · temperate climate
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I am not aware of any alternative to PDF (PS, DVI, PNG, …) that can break and render the text in a way that looks good enough not to trigger the typographer in me all the time.
HTML + CSS gets close, but not close enough.

Edit: PDF and co. don't do anything smart, but they allow to define the exact position of each glyph, line, picture. So it is possible to make a good layout and then store it in any of these formats.

I fully agree that the page breaking algorithm needs to be adjusted for E-books where empty space is almost free.

Regarding the resolution of E-ink readers: I have not found a single one that has at least 300 dpi (I would prefer 600) and a reasonable page size (A4).
For now most of the digital books are PDF, and the page has to fit on the screen, in order to be usable.
 
raven ranson
pioneer
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I dislike scrolling.  I find it very difficult to discover my place when the text moves, and it makes me motion sick.  With page turns, however, the text changes all at once and always goes to the top.

My kindle paperwhite has scrolling options for some (possibly more) files and books.  It eats up the battery a lot faster.

That's another thing I love about a kindle vs a tablet.  The tablet needs charging several times a week.  My kindle paperwhite (with the glowing screen and at least half an hour a day) requires charging every two or three months.  The old Kindle that I've had forever and has since given to a family member who uses it more than I did, only needs charging three or four times a year.  If the battery wasn't so efficient, I don't think I would like e-readers as much. 

The reasons why I bought reference books on an e-reader when I already have a paper copy on my shelf is because my e-reader is lighter and smaller than most books, so it's portable.  But I also find it more difficult to find information in reference ebooks. 
 
pioneer
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Posts: 1024
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r ranson wrote:
The reasons why I bought reference books on an e-reader when I already have a paper copy on my shelf is because my e-reader is lighter and smaller than most books, so it's portable.  But I also find it more difficult to find information in reference ebooks.



I'm amused, I'm the opposite, if I read something online that I like, I'll buy a paper copy for my shelf, so I can find the information when I need it. I read a lot online (pdf's, not ebooks, just seems to work out that way) and print or buy anything I want to see again. If nothing else, paper doesn't crash. I don't trust my tech. And enjoyment reading, fiction etc, is definitely paper in my world.

 
pollinator
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Location: Vancouver Island
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I like real books... but, as I have grown older, I have found I can read a well back-lit tablet or even phone without having to find, clean and use reading glasses (and I don't have to take them off to walk around either). I don't even need to expand the font.

Information online vanishes with time, I tend to "print" to pdf things I want to keep, but in the end, all hard drives die and even cd/dvd backups need to be rewritten every 10 years... books can last 100s, but even poor quality paper books will last the rest of my life.
 
Posts: 226
Location: SE Oklahoma
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Len Ovens wrote:Information online vanishes with time, I tend to "print" to pdf things I want to keep, but in the end, all hard drives die and even cd/dvd backups need to be rewritten every 10 years... books can last 100s, but even poor quality paper books will last the rest of my life.



Be aware that online books and those stored in an internet-attached device can actually be changed IN YOUR DEVICE without your permission. Ironically, Amazon chose to delete two George Orwell ebooks "1984" and "Animal Farm" from Kindle readers and got sued over it. https://www.pcworld.com/article/169408/kindle.html

So just be aware that if some other entity controls your e-reading device, they can rewrite history or outright delete things they consider inconvenient to have out there.
 
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Love reference e-books (PDF) because I can search and find what I am looking for quickly. I use an e-book for my Bible that is a Filemaker relational database.
 
Posts: 29
Location: Northern AZ
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I'm putting in effort to embrace reading on my tablet. I tried a kindle years ago and ended up giving it to my dad.
To me, the devices are too heavy because I can't use my whole hands for leverage without hitting buttons. And I think the backlight really screws with my circadian rhythm... way more than reading a book in bed ever did.

The only thing I find difficult about books is storage. I've gone through about 3 book purges over the years... such a painful thing for me. My newest (dream) plan to keep bookshelf space within reasonable borders is to build a little library near the road for my less precious books and resources my neighbors might enjoy (we are all off grid out here). It doubles as a practice project for cob building as well.
 
pioneer
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Paper all the way. In college, we often had assigned readings that were in PDF format, and I found them so hard to concentrate on. Granted, I've never used a  kindle or a tablet to read, just computer screens. But, it was really difficult to concentrate--my mind would wander a lot more when reading on a screen, and I had a much harder time finding the information again.

When I read a paper book--or even PDFs printed out--I can generally remember where on a page a quote or scene was located, and what the paragraph looked like. I can flip through the book or papers until I find the same spot, When I read on a screen--whether a PDF or a forum--I cannot  remember where information is located and I have to do word searches or skim through everything.

Also, I'm a tactile learner. I learn through writing and through feel. It helps my brain concentrate and record the information. Just the act of holding a book and turning pages helps me concentrate. When I'm scrolling through something online, I generally cannot think deeply about it, whereas I can if I'm reading about it with a pencil in hand, jotting notes and underlining key words.

I honestly will likely NEVER pay money for an ebook. I read one book online that was the last in a series (all the rest in the series were printed, but the author couldn't get the last published). It was free at the time that I read it. It's now available in an ebook I'd have to pay for. I LOVE the series, and I own the other three books in it, but I do not own the ebook. If it were printed, I would purchase it in a heartbeat.

In summary: If I have to pay for it, I want it printed. If it's a textbook-like book, I want it printed, so I can jot notes in it. I do not own any ebooks, and hopefully never will have to.
 
gardener
Posts: 4956
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I use both paper books and e-books, the e-books can go with me to the gardens and orchards (my carry along outdoor references),while the hard bounds are in the library for reference use indoors.
I tend to store my e-books on memory sticks and also on a portable HD., just for safety and if I'm traveling I can take more memory sticks than I could books.

Redhawk

I need to add that I love to sit in my library, surrounded by books and play guitar or flute or clarinet to relax.
 
pollinator
Posts: 369
Location: SoCal USA
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Currently all my books are paper format, mostly those on permaculture I've bought over the last year or two. But a Kindle or equivalent is awesome for space savings. I bought a previous girlfriend one for her birthday as she had a massive book collection taking up a whole wall, so I downloaded as many of those books as I could find plus many more that I had liked in the same genre. She said it was the best gift she'd ever received, and uses it every day since. She probably has 2-3 cords worth of books on that little 2 once device by now, and as mentioned you don't charge it very often and it can save your page and bookmarks for later reference.

I'll probably go to a dedicated reader device down the road, rather than building a larger cob/log home in retirement just for book storage 
 
gardener
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Location: Soutwest Ohio
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I'm sort of the opposite of Ron. I much prefer physical books over e-books and the e-books are what put me to sleep. Years ago, I bought an e-reader because I wanted to make sure how my e-book releases would look on an actual e-reader device. Once the novelty of holding a library of books in my hand wore off, I grew dissatisfied with it. Eventually it became something I only pull out when I am working out formatting or when I don't own a physical copy of a book yet. I find myself never finishing anything in them.

As reference, they absolutely fail for my needs since I don't want to take the time to make a million bookmarks. What takes me a few moments with a physical book can take ten minutes of seeking on an e-book. With reference books, often the time I most need them is also the time where recharging an e-reader is going to be much harder. Anything that can destroy a physical book could just as easily destroy an e-reader. Physical books don't suffer from power failure or data corruption (does smudging count?)

I've had several experiences early on where I would make notes in a book and then someone would change something on the author's end and the notes would all be lost. Another few times I would have books I had loaded disappear and when I went into my purchase history, the links to the originals were gone. No hope to redownload. The fact that someone can (more or less) steal from my library by taking down their content is infuriating. Limited space means I need a wifi connection to download things if I use it regularly, which is more a frustration out in the field than at home. A flood of cheaply offered, unedited, low quality works has come about thanks to the e-book market and I can point to very real numbers of how it is destroying the income potential of writers. The days of living wages and reasonable advances are coming to an end. Physical books are feeling the crunch because of this too. It's become much harder to make a living as a writer full-time without being a content-mill or already famous.

I'm not saying they don't have value though. I have used them to get out library books and skim the contents to decide if I wanted to buy something. Some books only come in e-formats, so no choice there. I just think that overall, I don't really fit with them well. I'd much rather have a real book in my hand where I can flip to exact points in seconds, read casually all day without plugging in, or at least PDF (sorry to disagree again Ron) where I can print the work out as needed and know exactly what I am going to get. Especially if I need to print only a single section.

I suppose the conclusion is that I am glad the format exists for those who prefer it, but I personally dislike using it and am somewhat frustrated with how it has done so much damage to the stability of my chosen career path.
 
Len Ovens
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Gail Gardner wrote:

Len Ovens wrote:Information online vanishes with time, I tend to "print" to pdf things I want to keep, but in the end, all hard drives die and even cd/dvd backups need to be rewritten every 10 years... books can last 100s, but even poor quality paper books will last the rest of my life.



Be aware that online books and those stored in an internet-attached device can actually be changed IN YOUR DEVICE without your permission. Ironically, Amazon chose to delete two George Orwell ebooks "1984" and "Animal Farm" from Kindle readers and got sued over it. https://www.pcworld.com/article/169408/kindle.html

So just be aware that if some other entity controls your e-reading device, they can rewrite history or outright delete things they consider inconvenient to have out there.



Good to know. Though I tend to download files with a web browser not an ebook reader. I quite often have to reformat them anyway or directly use the files from inside rather than read them directly. This makes it hard for someone else to remove things from my device without my say so. But my situation is not normal
 
gardener
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Part of me wants to say print books but ebooks are my favorite these days. Mainly just due to the ease of access. My local library is hooked up with Overdrive which lets me check out ebooks like I would print books. I can then read them on my phone. I love always having the books with me - often print books would not be with me when I would actually have time to read them.

But these days I'm moving away from ebooks in favor of audio books. Really just due to the ease of access - I can listen to audio books while driving which is great. My commute is really short and I mostly bike but I have to drive to field sites sometimes and audio books are great for those drives - I also listen to podcasts during these times.

So in regards to what is my favorite it really comes down to what is the easiest format for me to access. Often that is a digital format and hands free (audio books) is often the best these days.
 
gardener
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Given my intercontinentally bifurcated life, electronic reading has been a good thing for me. Also, I'm moving into a new house soon, and I just have so many books to move! Too much Stuff!

I got Kindle for Mac last year and have really enjoyed it on my little feather-light skinny macbook air. I've read a lot more books lately, thanks to it (I had limited access to new and interesting paper books here in the remote place I live in).

I got the f.lux app on my laptop, so the colour of it goes reddish at night, and it seems to help my circadian rhythm. I don't stay up all night reading as I used to do sometimes.

Permaculture books, garden-related books, building and architecture books -- anything with important images doesn't work well in the Kindle app. I can't expand the images to read the details in them.

The Kindle app has been great for novels and any mainly text based book. But the comments above about content disappearing from the Kindle is scary! Thank you for the warning!

A major difference between pdfs and Kindle or other ebook formats is that pdfs can be shared around freely, so the author and publisher don't get paid. We enjoy it today, but will it lead to a collapse of well-edited publishing?
 
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I have come to appreciate eBooks for their portability and space-saving function. Also eBooks tend to cost less than the paper ones.

That said, I'll never stop loving printed books. It's a sensory thing--the weight of the book, that new book smell, the sight of a beautiful cover. Also I don't have to remember to charge them.

 
pollinator
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As a reader, I like ebooks for their portability. ePub and PDF are my choice.

To manage my library, I am using open source Calibre software

On Android, I like AlReader

As an author I only publish as a PDF. I published as an ePub once and readers requested PDF so I converted that to PDF.

PDF is somewhat harder to slash&hack than an ePub.

I enter the name of the reader on footer at every page to prevents sharing to some degree.

Some books though, I have it in print. They are not published electronically (sadly).

I realized that I read more with electronically published books than printed ones.

And, I hate it when my print books get scars by some monstrous friends of mine. Oh also borrowed from me, they never come back.
 
pollinator
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I love paper books. For some reason or another, I remember things that I have read in paper better than anything I have read electronically. And there's this tactical thing, too. I like the feeling of touching a book and turning the pages, and I like that it has some kind of smell. All of these qualities give the book a certain "presence" that I do not get with e-books. I also find it harder to focus when reading an electronic book than with a paper book. And I never have to worry about my paper book running out of power. I can just read it by the light of the sun or turn on the lights when the sun goes down. Ok, trying to describe the presence aspect better. Paperbooks just have a "presence" for me, which gives some kind of credence to its ideas, well, kinda like the difference between talking with someone face-to-face versus over phone or by text. That's more of my difference in response to having read something in paper versus in electronic form.
 
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If it is something I am going to read one time and is very brief, an E-book is fine.  For anything I really need to study or read again, or a favorite, I want a real paper copy so it can go into my library for future reference.  A part of me wants to live primitive and get away from modern technology, so I can curl up in a tent or outdoors with a real book, not a computer or I-phone.  And besides, if the SHTF, we can always use the paper pages for TP.  So it is a multi-use item.  But we should make sure we've memorized the contents before going to that extreme and wasting a valuable resource best used for reading. 
 
Posts: 179
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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I spend a lot of time at work reading plans and reports, and writing, in front of a screen. So definitely a paper preference when reading novels and for recreation.

Also, collect certain books for reference and enjoyment.

When travelling on holidays I leave the electronic time-wasters behind and carry a good 'Ol paperback.
 
Posts: 88
Location: Youngstown, Ohio
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Paper.  The smell, the touch, the ability to find the page I was looking for just by flipping, but mostly my eyes prefer it.  I have a few ebooks but even on vacation where it would take less space to just read a book on my phone, I tuck a few books in. 
 
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If it's important, I like to have a physical copy.  No electricity required, which if you make your own you are very aware of, and no internet required, which if you live in an area with sketchy or limited access, you are also aware of. 

I don't really like reading onscreen, though I love e-books for travelling, since most of my luggage always seems to involve books or references of some sort.  I grew up before computers--they came into common use in the nick of time for me to integrate into the culture but still be conversant with the 'old systems'.  Though I can finally edit onscreen, I still do it much better on paper where I can navigate faster and scribble on the pages, and I find physical books easier to actually study carefully.  For me, reading onscreen seems to prompt me to skim.  Good for getting a general idea, but bad for absorbing details.  Plus, books are great insulation!  The several thousand I have line my walls (and every other available nook and cranny) and help keep the place warm.

So yeah, for me, both have a place, but if I had to choose, physical books all the way.  And I also listen to recorded books a lot, as I work on projects requiring hands and eyes but not necessarily brainpower.  A good story helps keep the work going.
 
pollinator
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I love both. FOr me, like many people, I prefer an ebook if it's a fiction or something new to me like that. But if it's something I know I'll want to read multiple times or refer to frequently, I'll want a paper copy. I tend to stock with paper copies for my homesteading books, especially.

Also worthy of noting - I manage my Kindle myself without Amazon being connected to it, I use Calibre only. I never connect it to the internet either, not really, so I *think* that makes it safe from uninvited "updates"
 
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I prefer books.  They don't crash when the power goes out.  They are great to have on hand when you are trying to create something new in the workshop, kitchen, in the garden, and anywhere else you might want some visual guidance.  When you have floor to ceiling bookcases you have extra insulation on the walls.  In the sixties they had scifi preppers survive radiation using books as insulation in their bunkers.  On the other hand working with really old rare books that smell like vomit, and trying to turn brittle pages with white gloves on, gets old really fast.  I support making e-versions of the rare books to give more access to the general public without putting the books at risk, and it means that you can work on them in comfort, when you want, and for as long as you need.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 297
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For a pleasure of reading, and for learning as well - paper books.
For a fast reference (manuals, etc.) - ebooks.
Very often I have both. I read paper book first, and then upload PDF into my laptop. If in a future, when I want to find something quickly, I search PDF.
 
raven ranson
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I was giving an interview for my book to a farming magazine the other day (it's a weird feeling being the interviewee for a change) and we talked a lot about print vs electronic. 

What interested me is the estimate that one third to one-half of the subscribers of that magazine do not access the internet or other electronic resources.

I'm also thinking a lot about what's important to me in a community and the thing that keeps coming up time and again is small shops.  The shops have a handful of employees, maybe.  They are run by families and individuals.  People meet and gather in these places to share information.  They spend money that stays in the community.  These shops often have items grown or made locally.  I want to support places like this.  I'm trying to drive the first flush of sales to these shops by having a paper book.  After a while, I'll place the book for sale on Amazon and in a year or so, I'll probably make an e-book. 

This is pretty much the opposite of how I SHOULD be doing things according to the internet.  I wonder if it will work. 
 
Poop goes in a willow feeder. Wipe with this tiny ad:
One million tiny ads for $25
https://permies.com/t/94684/million-tiny-ads
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