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Post  eddie on Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:45 pm

Ebooks don't spell the end of literature

E-readers pose no threat to books – quite the opposite, they may just re-Kindle a generation's love for the written word


Kind of cool ... Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos introduces the new Kindle Fire tablet in New York. Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

The other day I was on a train, reading a book. The young woman seated next to me was also reading a book. We were both enjoying classics of English literature – hers was a Charlotte Brontë novel. The only difference was that my book was made of paper, and hers of light on the screen of an e-reader.

Books are changing; but are the fundamentals of reading and writing? Seeing a reader gripped by digital Brontë made me aware that electronic books are giving literacy a new dimension. Many people like this new way of enjoying a book, and some may prefer it. Look at it this way: since the 1960s when transistor radios and – by the end of the decade – colour televisions transformed popular culture, every new technological gimmick has strengthened the appeal of the sort of media that rivals the book. Music and film, TV and video games: all have outshone books in technological glamour. Now, suddenly, here is a techie way to read a book. It's kind of cool.

I don't believe this technology will destroy the printed object; real books will never lose their charm. But Luddites who see today's new ways of reading as an assault are fantasising. Literacy has been under attack for decades, from all directions. Reading suffered its worst assault, perhaps, from television. My nain (my Welsh grandmother) used to read all the time – in fact she was the village librarian – but you wouldn't find many people in that same village today with the TV off, their heads in books. It is therefore surely arguable that e-readers are not the destroyers but the saviours of the book. A generation may return to the written word because of this technology.

But even if we agree that ebooks add a new, interesting sheen to literacy, what about the writer? Damaging publishers' returns and reducing authors to penury will surely wreck literature? But once again, this is false nostalgia, based on the absurd proposition that writing was ever a secure, easy, practical way to make a living. How many authors make any decent money?

The careers advice I was given in the 1980s was that journalism – not even "creative writing", journalism – was a foolhardy career choice. The chances of making a decent living as a newspaper writer were remote; better to go in for law … But young people did try to be journalists then, and they do now, and some of them go even further and become novelists and poets. What poet ever did it for the money?

The wealthiest writers are rarely the best. The poorest writers may pen undying words. That is an ancient truism, and to hear people complain about the writer's lot today is unseemly. If you go into writing – and I include criticism here – as a cosy career choice, you are misguided. Writers deserve to be paid. It is work. But it has never been easy work to do, or to get paid for. There were garrets a long time before the Kindle came along.

© 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.


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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Feb 05, 2012 12:40 pm

I begin to see the point of Kindle and Bebo.

In my living room I have a piece of furniture which has served me well for twenty years or more. Imagine a tallboy extended horizontally along the length of one of the shorter walls of this rectangular room. At the base is cupboard space, containing a rarely used tent, sleeping bag and my collected dramatic works from a previous life as a Bohemian playwright. Above that is a shelf on which sit many books: weighty tomes, History of Art stuff, for the most part. Above that, various niches for one thing and another.

Problem is that over the past year or eighteen months the accumulated weight of books has gradually caused the whole cabinet to start BOWING DOWN IN THE MIDDLE, warping the fabric, twisting it out of shape.

The cupboard doors at the base no longer close properly. Above the shelf of books, the doors of a glass cabinet holding certficates and photos have to be held closed with Blu-Tack because the warping of the fabric means that gravitational forces have now defeated the efficacy of the magnetic lock.

The object has become a terrible embarrassment.

When Woolworth's went bankrupt and had their big 'everything-must-go' closing down sale I'd intended to invest in some of their steel shelving, but I couldn't arrange transport for one reason or another and the opportunity passed.

Mario's offered to build me a whole new set of shelves at 'mates rate'.

Certainly, something must be done about this ghastly situation.

And yet..and yet.. Despite everything, I wouldn't swap my old-fashioned books for an electronic box on the coffee table.

Books do furnish a room, don't they?



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Re: ebooks

Post  Constance on Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:52 pm

I'm far from anti-books--how could I possibly be? But Tom buys books (I get mine from the library) and has never thrown out a book. He still has the heavily-underlined paperbacks he read in college. I put some books into recycling once--he found out and was mightily angry.

But we are drowning in books. Our basement is wall to wall bookcases and that's a poor place for books but we've run out of space upstairs.

And the newspapers he saves are even worse!

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Re: ebooks

Post  Constance on Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:56 pm

But neither of us is interested in an ereader.

But Tom is interested in Twitter. He follows Stephen Fry's tweets and those of a few other writers/celebrities.
The big girls are mildly interested in Facebook...not obsessesed like some kids. My social media is just email and AATU.

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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:59 am

Beautiful bookshelves - in pictures

Most of us can only aspire to Ikea, but Alex Johnson's Bookshelf takes a beguiling look at the possibilities available if your budget, your rooms and your library are big enough. Here he takes us on a browse through some of the most beautiful

Alex Johnson

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 1 March 2012 16.26 GMT

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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:01 am


6 degree
A modular, geometrical shelving system: two blocks placed horizontally on top of each other equal the height of one module in an upright position, while the eponymous '6' is the number of degrees that separate it from a right angle
www.lovekompott.comPhotograph: Thames & Hudson

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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:03 am


Archive I
The Archive series from Danish design studio David Garcia examines the physical weight of information and the relationship between books and humans. Archive I features a reading chair, elevated according to the weight of volumes in the bookcase
www.davidgarciastudio.comPhotograph: Thames & Hudson

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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:06 am


Bookinist
This bookchair/pushcart by Nils Holger Moormann offers a comprehensive reading experience: not only can it hold around 80 paperbacks in the arms and backrest, it also sports a reading lamp and hidden drawers for writing equipment
www.moormann.dePhotograph: Thames & Hudson

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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:09 am


Equilibrium
Colombia-born Alejandro Gomez Stubbs, the designer of Equilibrium, says 'The concept was to design a piece that contrasted stylish modern design with playfulness and animation'
www.malaganadesignPhotograph: Thames & Hudson

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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:12 am


Estante Vaco
Designer Denny Tormen won first prize in the inaugural Brazilian Sustainable Design Competition with his cow-shaped bookcase: all materials were sourced from a cooperative that turns waste paper into a hard, plate-like material
www.dennystormen.comPhotograph: Thames & Hudson

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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:15 am


Etagere KC
Although the lower shelves become increasingly less useful for storing books, the collapsed feel of the Etagère KC adds a unique visual touch to any library
www.parsydebonsdesign.comPhotograph: Thames & Hudson

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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:18 am


Human Furniture Collection
Belarus-born, Paris-based designer Dzmitry Samal says: 'The Human Furniture Collection was created as a mix between the pragmatism and efficiency of the geometrical shapes and sculptural beauty of the human body'
www.samaldesign.comPhotograph: Thames & Hudson

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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:21 am


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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:26 am


Metamorphosis
The shelves of Sebastian Errazuriz's one-off, handcarved bookcase evoke ivy creeping across a wall. It was inspired by the branches that grew on his childhood home in Santiago, Chile – branches that he and his brother used as shelves for their toys
www.meetsebastian.comPhotograph: Thames & Hudson

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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:29 am


Osisu Elephant
Thai design company Osisu produces handmade objects from waste material that has been found at construction sites, or thrown away during manufacturing processes. The materials used range from reclaimed teak to sawdust and from discarded food packaging to salvaged ventilation grilles
www.osisu.comPhotograph: Thames & Hudson

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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:34 am


Read-Unread
Read-Unread is constructed out of leather straps hung across wall-mounted supports. The design literally weighs what you have read against what you're still getting round to
www.nikoeconomidis.comPhotograph: Thames & Hudson

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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 04, 2012 1:37 am


Staircase
Architects Levitate constructed this staircase in a London flat, where space limitations led to the creation of a library staircase that holds around 2,000 books. The staircase was designed by structural engineers Rodrigues Associates to transfer the weight of the stairs and books back to the main walls of the building. It dangles from the upper floor, thereby avoiding any complicated issues with neighbours living below
www.levitate.uk.comPhotograph: Levitate

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Re: ebooks

Post  pinhedz on Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:23 am

Are all those books worth saving for decades? study
I'm getting inspired to give my library a good weeding, there's all kinds of confirmed poppycock in it.

And I suppose digital storage devices could become even bigger messes than basements and attics. affraid

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Re: ebooks

Post  pinhedz on Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:37 am


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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Sun Apr 01, 2012 8:48 pm

How to reorganise your bookshelf using the honesty system

Tom Cox's bookshelves were less about him than about a stranger he subconsciously imagined would one day visit his house – and so began the great sort

guardian.co.uk, Friday 30 March 2012 17.18 BST


Tantamount to reclassifying your own internal organs ... a man shelves. Photograph: Aliaksandr Ilyukevich/Corbis

I reorganised my book collection a couple of weeks ago. I'd been meaning to do this for three or four years for a bunch of reasons, but mostly because I wanted to find a scheme where I didn't get the constant sense that the worthy books I'd repeatedly chickened out of reading were getting together to look down their noses and whisper about me. The task took a couple of days in total, which might seem like a long time, but was perhaps only to be expected for a job I'd convinced myself was tantamount to reclassifying my own internal organs.

Having dismissed my initial idea of filing my books in descending order of self-delusion, I decided to go for the more traditional approach of alphabetisation. Reference books that I would never read from cover to cover would be stored separately. This struck me as the most straightforward system, but led to some grey areas. I'd always intended to read Sir James George Frazer's 756-page guide to magic, The Golden Bough – a book that inspired The Wicker Man, but only because director Robin Hardy was so immobile in recovery from a heart attack that he actually got time to read it. Perhaps after a decade of resolutely failing to do so I should accept that it was a "dipper-inner"?

As someone without A-levels or a degree, who read no books except (some of) his GCSE English texts and golf instruction manuals from the age of 11 to 18, reading has always felt slightly like a game of catch-up, and I constantly beat myself up for what I haven't read. But getting my collection off the shelf taught me that I have, despite what I tell myself in my more self-flagellating moods, spent a fair bit of the last decade and a half having a decent crack at improving myself through literature, some of which was even written by proper grownups and everything. Though the fact remains that if I had a pound for every Camus book I have read I would have 27 pence, it turns out that I have read all of John Irving, Richard Russo, Meg Wolitzer and David Sedaris, and approximately 312 "great American novels" by TC Boyle, only approximately 471 fewer than he has written.

From 1999-2001, while living in London, I would go on epic, overambitious book-buying sprees, telling myself I was heading into town to "write in a cafe" only to return with bags laden with books from the hipper end of the US literary canon, perhaps hoping that the sheer fact that I owned them would turn me into the writer I wanted to be. When I think of the way my book shelves looked when I was 23, I realise they perhaps were no more about me than they were about a stranger I subconsciously imagined would one day visit my house. This stranger was an uncommon combination of extremely tasteful, hugely judgmental and ridiculously attractive.

I waited very patiently for this stranger for quite a while, only for the finicky bastard not to show. Somewhere along the way, I became a more honest book owner: I now know that nine times out of 10 I'll enjoy a book about a dysfunctional family or the comedies of small-town American life more than I will one about a drug addict or rock star. I don't hold on to books I didn't enjoy – even those that critical wisdom told me I "should" have – and I no longer keep a copy of Gravity's Rainbow around the house for hypothetical purposes.

Still, in seeing my books spread across the floor, I realised that a hint of my fantasy life as a reader remained. Did I actually enjoy The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles, or did I just convince myself I did, because the person who told me that I would when I was 19 spoke in a very persuasive, quiet voice? I really enjoyed the lone Robertson Davies book I've read, but owning the latest versions of all his books and the original Penguin paperbacks of six of them is more a mark of the hardcore, epic Canadian mystical comic novel aficionado I want to be than the slightly touristy one I am.

Of course, some of these excesses are simply a by-product of that elastic thing that can happen to time when we are in a bookshop, where our sheer good intentions and excitement overrule everything we have previously learned about how many hours there are in a day. Just as I keep on subscribing to the New Yorker magazine in the expectation of a lengthy, debilitating illness that will allow me to catch up on 15 years' worth of issues I have hardly skimmed, I'm keeping The Golden Bough in preparation for the non-fatal heart attack that will ultimately enable me to read it. That's a lot of sickness in my future, but I'm embracing it. I suppose that's the joy of a proper, unexpurgated book reorganising session: it makes you look forward to the good times, and the bad.

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Re: ebooks

Post  tatiana on Tue Jul 17, 2012 12:36 am

A few people seem to have the eBooks now, so.they must be okay

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Re: ebooks

Post  Doc Watson on Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:16 am

I think they would be good for travel and save you taking or buying stuff to read. I am going away on friday there is a free books app on the ipad which has many books now in public domain which can be down loaded and read on the ipad . I will be using that.

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Re: ebooks

Post  eddie on Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:37 pm

eddie wrote:I begin to see the point of Kindle and Bebo.

In my living room I have a piece of furniture which has served me well for twenty years or more. Imagine a tallboy extended horizontally along the length of one of the shorter walls of this rectangular room. At the base is cupboard space, containing a rarely used tent, sleeping bag and my collected dramatic works from a previous life as a Bohemian playwright. Above that is a shelf on which sit many books: weighty tomes, History of Art stuff, for the most part. Above that, various niches for one thing and another.

Problem is that over the past year or eighteen months the accumulated weight of books has gradually caused the whole cabinet to start BOWING DOWN IN THE MIDDLE, warping the fabric, twisting it out of shape.

The cupboard doors at the base no longer close properly. Above the shelf of books, the doors of a glass cabinet holding certficates and photos have to be held closed with Blu-Tack because the warping of the fabric means that gravitational forces have now defeated the efficacy of the magnetic lock.

The object has become a terrible embarrassment.



You see the problem? Anyone got a pit prop?

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Re: ebooks

Post  usеro on Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:36 am

what does your monster suggest?

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Re: ebooks

Post  Doc Watson on Thu Apr 25, 2013 2:28 pm

Maybe Eddie time to move ! , buy more shelves or have a cull!

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Re: ebooks

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