Join 3,521 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Epilogue: The Future of Print
June 26, 2012 9:29 AM   Subscribe

This documentary is a humble exploration of the world of print, as it scratches the surface of its future. It is built upon interviews with individuals who are active in the Toronto print community and question whether or not they expect to see the disappearance of the physical book within our lifetime. The act of reading a “tangible tome” has devolved from being a popular and common pastime to one that no longer is. I hope for the film to stir thought and elicit discussion about the immersive reading experience and the lost craft of the book arts, from the people who are still passionate about reading on paper.” — Hannah Ryu Chung, the filmaker

"..It's not either/or. It's and..."
posted by Toekneesan (20 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hmm. I much prefer the interface of a book (from texture to the ability to flip back and forth quickly), and dislike both the appearance and convenience of e-book readers. On the other hand, I'm reading a ~1600-page tome right now and It's simply unwieldy.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:35 AM on June 26, 2012


Oh piffle. Ebook readers are a rich person thing, if that. Maybe a pet rock-level phenomenon so far. I live in a lower-middle to middle-middle class area and work in an upper-middle one. I'm not sure I've ever seen a single person reading an ebook whereas I still still many reading paper (not to mention the hundreds of people I see at each of the 3 libraries I regularly visit).
posted by DU at 9:36 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah and that's not to mention the many physical and rights-oriented problems ebooks have.
posted by DU at 9:40 AM on June 26, 2012


*shrug* I see them all over. Obviously somewhat less in lower average income areas. Anyway, many things that end up widely used start as "rich person things" (see VCRs, color TVs, personal computers, automobiles). Can't see why ebook readers won't be at Dollar Tree eventually. Regardless of the problems ebook readers have, lots of people use and love them and the number of owners is rapidly increasing as far as I know. Full disclosure: I do not own an ebook reader.
posted by glhaynes at 9:56 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


You ever have that sensation where the people you agree with are so annoying it makes you want to change your mind?

This is an subject I think about a lot--as a special collections librarian, my job is to help select, preserve, and make accessible the material that represents our best guess about what future generations of scholars will want to study. Printed books are by far the largest part of that mission right now, because they have been the main tangible form of knowledge communication for the past 500 years (with whatever caveats are necessary to avoid the derail that happened last time I said that). They will always have been the form that predominated in that period, so they will always be important for that reason. No matter if we digitize every book in my library, there will still be a need to retain the originals, because their tangible aspects are an indispensable part of studying their history.

Printed books on paper will NOT be the dominant form of the next five centuries, nor the next five decades. It's already happening, hell it's already over. All the handwringing about the old order passing away will not change that. Trust me, I am someone who is super in love with the aesthetics of paper and books, and I don't doubt that those aesthetics will continue to have a certain appeal. Just like photography didn't kill painting, print will continue to have a role, but it will be a very specific and marginal one. The enormous physical and economic infrastructure created to make and distribute printed books will go away, because we don't need it anymore. You can pout about it all you want, but you are King Canute and ebooks are the sea.

That's why me and my colleagues just spent 3 days not going outside in gorgeous San Diego weather, so we could think about what these inevitable changes mean for our profession. If you're at all interested in this subject or in the UVA debacle, I highly recommend Bethany Nowviskie's keynote, Reality Bytes, which blends the two topics beautifully.

I have to go, I am late for my shift slinging dead trees in the reading room.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:58 AM on June 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


Oh piffle. Ebook readers are a rich person thing, if that. Maybe a pet rock-level phenomenon so far. I live in a lower-middle to middle-middle class area and work in an upper-middle one. I'm not sure I've ever seen a single person reading an ebook whereas I still still many reading paper (not to mention the hundreds of people I see at each of the 3 libraries I regularly visit).

I know we're just swapping anecdotes here, but I see people using ereaders every day on the subway. While they are obviously more prevalent among people with more disposable income, I see them used all the time by people whose other outward indicators would suggest that they are low-middle class. Certainly they are unremarkable among people whose outwards class indicators suggest that they are middle-middle class.
posted by OmieWise at 10:00 AM on June 26, 2012


I have a sort of flowchart of reading choices.

If it's 20th-21st century, I'll check my local libraries first before heading to Barnes & Noble (the only "local" bookstore left around here, unfortunately). Ordering online (whether ebook or physical) is last resort; I like to support my local businesses with sales taxes that go to my city.

If it's early 20th or before, I'll usually check Project Gutenberg first and load it on my Nook if they have it, before going the library -> B&N -> online route.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:01 AM on June 26, 2012


Horace Rumpole, who in the video was annoying?
posted by Toekneesan at 10:18 AM on June 26, 2012


As someone with low vision, I love my e-reader, particularly since I had a cataract removed and the corneal implant moved my focal point. It's very nice to select a large typeface and get on with things. I love books, and have lots of them, but I really appreciate the convenience of e-books, particularly for pleasure reading.
posted by wintermind at 10:49 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eh, why can't we have both? I have the Kindle app on my iPhone and use it a lot, but I still buy books too! Crazy, I know. In fact, I recently picked up a the trade paperback of The Lies of Locke Lamora (ripping fun read, btw) and was so pumped to read the next book that I couldn't wait to go to the bookstore and buy it, so I just bought it on my phone right there and didn't have to delay my gratification for but two minutes.

For pulpy books and light reads I'm more than happy to use ebooks. For weightier stuff, tomes I wish to study, to pore over and obsess about, well that's a good reason to have the hard stuff.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:53 AM on June 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The act of reading a “tangible tome”

Bishes, please, it's "codex."
posted by octobersurprise at 10:56 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Printed books on paper will NOT be the dominant form of the next five centuries, nor the next five decades. It's already happening, hell it's already over.

Well, we haven't had the full weight of print-on-demand yet, so there's that to consider as well.

I think much depends on the type of book. Beach reading is perfect for a Nook - all linear, all one shot reading, eminently disposable. Which is where, I am guessing, this dominating number of ebook sales is coming from. Lee Childs more than Julia Child. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)

Reference material, I want/need the quick access of page flipping. Maybe other ereaders are faster than my Nook, maybe future ones will be faster still - but for now, the thought of an ebooks dictionary makes me cringe. (Let's not even discuss the warm up time and search time and all the other folderol that comes with the ebook - if the trivia question must be answered at the dinner table, I'm off to the bookshelf, not the machine shop.)

That video! Herky jerky, in and out of focus, quick cuts, not great audio - I find this hard to watch, even though I really wanted to. She needs to slow down the pacing. Or something.

(On preview - was Doleful said.)
posted by IndigoJones at 11:09 AM on June 26, 2012


Aaaagh, just watched part of the video. BUDGET FOR SOUND please. Jeezus, why would you spend months/years of your life and thousands and thousands of dollars on making a documentary only to produce something that's going to make people lunge for the volume knob to turn it down/up every 30 seconds. Oh let me guess, you don't have any more money because you spent it all on a larger camera than you need. Bad sound destroys more documentaries than anything else: people don't really care what your doc looks like (within reason) but nobody is going to sit through a film that has bad sound.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:20 AM on June 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I like and use both. I prefer a book outdoors to my eReader. My eReader is much more than just a book. It is an entire library, a communications device, a reference device, scanner, GPS etc. Both offer advantages over the other in certain ways. I know the next time I move I will not be lugging hundreds of paperbacks with me at least as ink on paper. Just information is so much easier.
posted by pdxpogo at 11:42 AM on June 26, 2012


Horace Rumpole, who in the video was annoying?

Oh, not the folks in the video really. I was more (over) reacting to the somewhat twee rhetoric of the director's description, and venting some general frustration about this issue.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:56 PM on June 26, 2012


I work in the publishing industry, and ebooks are NOT a pet rock. They are completely changing the publishing business. The particular (large, non-fiction) company I work for gets 45% of its sales in ebooks. They are growing exponentially. It's an interesting time to be in publishing, in an ancient "May you live in interesting times" proverb/curse kind of way.
posted by papercake at 1:00 PM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh piffle. Ebook readers are a rich person thing, if that.

A Kindle is $79. I got mine because I couldn't afford to buy books any more. I have read 300+ books in the last 8 months. Kindle is full of $0 books, and books at full retail are almost always at least 20% cheaper than the paperback edition. It does require internet access and a credit card, though, so I am not saying it is accessible to everyone, but certainly it is a middle class thing.

Ironically, one of my favourite books I've read in the past year is Last Bookstore in America, about exactly this question. It's $2.99 and only available in E-book format.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:28 PM on June 26, 2012


BUDGET FOR SOUND please.

I mark it off as incompetence. Only an amateur would think, it was a good idea to put voice in the right channel and music in left. So if I'm hard of hearing in either, I only get half the audio.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:09 PM on June 26, 2012


I don't think this film had a budget. The filmmaker is a student. She apologizes for the sound quality in the comments on the Vimeo page.
posted by Toekneesan at 3:28 PM on June 26, 2012


I keep seeing ebook used like "book == text". I'm currently reading several art history texts, and they wouldn't be worth reading if they were just text.
posted by The River Ivel at 3:51 PM on June 26, 2012


« Older Fuck Yeah Hotel Hallway...  |  "Boxes where parents can leave... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments