Thursday, 7 May 2009

It was a dark and stormy night....

In spite of my brother's opinion, I like reading and I like it a lot.

I do not have a great love for classics, that is true, but that is just because whichever molecular phisics book is more exciting to me of any sigh of Madame Bovary ( excellent) or the cast of Wuthering heights ( Booooooooooring).

I have to state that even if everyone almost chokes itself in proclaiming that we live in a figurative Era, the quantity of written documents that is available today is amazing.

Thanks to internet, we can now really reach every bit of information in every part of the globe in every moment we might want to.

That said wherever we find the documents, we will have to read them on the screen of out PC and this, our body ( all of it, eyes, arms, torso, back, butt) does not quiet appreciate.

No matter how refined your LCD screen matrix might be, it will never be at the same level of a plain paper page covered in ink.

Since we started converting each document in electronic format, we had the issue of reading them and for years we dreamed of electronic books that would have given us the same sensations of the real thing.

Loads of Bs, we are in the Lord's year 2009 and are still at the beginning.

Promising beginning, nonetheless :)

Let's start

At the beginnign was the Franklin Ebookman, after that momma Palm and it's PDA took over the low cost market and we geeks felt so superior reading black and white text on 2 inches screen on a 160*160 pixels grid.

The LCD's prices dropped still and still and we told each other that one day we would have a paperback sized LCD screen that would allow us to read an A4 page in one go instead of split in 6 parts.

Then, all of sudden, a new technology took over thescene, the E-ink.

E-paper screens are superior to plain LCD screens. They are yet black and white, but color and backlit screens are on their way, so the future , as they say, looks bright ( if we can get backlight to work, that is)

Digitalize this

So the green holocaust is over? We will never ever have to feel a lump in our troath each time a complete reprint of the Encyclopedia Britannica is announced?

We need to examine the issue from a different angle, starting with the question " what is a book?"

If the book was just a medium to transmit a message, then it would already have disappeared, chocked to death by the power of digital medias.

That said, have you noticed that nonetheless everyone owns an Ipod or similar player, Cds ( even Vinils ) did not disappear? It means that people want first of all quality ( MP3s are nice but tend to compress sound at butcher level) but, in my opinion, more than all a phisical experience of the disc.

With a few exceptions , if you look at any Mithology, Heaven is always the home of unspeakeable pleasures and Hell of unending agony.

Why? Because no matter how much you try to divide the soul from the body, when you arrive to the point in which you have to explain a theory like that you will have to pass through human sensations to make someone understand that one is a price and the other a punishement.

No matter what you could try instead will fail ( let's face it, we Christians have the most boring Heaven and the most Gruelsome hell in the world), because we would not understand it.

I follow the Ebook readers scene since the first moment, but not even now that I own one ( more in that later ;) ) I would ever buy the latest Cornwell in digital instead of paperback format, and that for the simple reason that I want to touch it, feel it and feel that I own it.

Everything I said, strangely, a file does not deliver.

That said there are great advantages in digital content. You can store dozens of books in very little memory and since the price of memory cards is falling, the size of the library of congress might not be that relevant anymore.

The ecological impact would be important as well, if we could migrate all papers and magazines in digital format we could spare our dwindling green reserves another ordeal.

As this artichle shows, a year subscription ( and wasting) of the new York Times costs 147.000 squared feet per person each year. You do the math.

"But paper can be recicled!" I can hear you scream, which is true indeed, but each time you do it the quality degrades and the editors, to spare the image of their papers decide that they need immaculate paper to tell us who slept with Britney Spears this week.

So here I am, in the middle of the battle between the book lover and the geek.

The geek can speak, you'll hear the book lover later :)


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