Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure about that. Did the average horse owner only have one horse? I think the country was still mostly agrarian 100 years ago.
Probably a more pertinent question would be how much the average farrier makes per-job today compared to 100 years ago in equivalent dollars. Would a smaller number of book purchasers willing to pay a premium be sufficient to keep a small printer/publisher with a global reach (the "long tail") afloat?
Because many horses in use during the 1800s were rented, and because most farmers had more than one horse that worked as part of a team, it is unlikely that the average horse owner had only one horse.
My great uncles were farmers who used horse teams for work. Each of them owned a team of two work horses. One of my great uncles supplemented his income by working as a blacksmith. I have a friend who currently works as a blacksmith performing work for the Amish. Farriers are still in demand, and are still necessary to treat the hooves of domesticated horses. Since farriers are a more scarce commodity than in the 1800s, we shouldn't be surprised if they made a lot more money per job, measured in equivalent dollars. It's those pesky laws of Supply and Demand ...
The answer to your question about a small, niche book publisher would probably be yes. But there might be only one or two, and their products would probably be very expensive and not to be found on the NYT Best Sellers List.
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I think you are over-exaggerating the negative impact of DRM. Why are you so sure that future devices will not be able to read today's e-books?
Are you so sure that they will? If Amazon ultimately succeeds in dominating the ebook market, what guarantees are there that epub purchasers will be able convert their DRM-laden epub books to an Amazon format? Are you sure the terms of the publisher licenses will allow some sort of conversion free of charge?
Just for the sake of argument -- and this is completely hypotetical -- let's say that one of the giants responsible for one of the few non-Amazon DRM schemes were to suffer a security breach resulting the the exposure of the personal and billing information relating to millions of customers. In the course of investigation, it is discovered that this firm did not adhere to the legal requirements for protecting customer. I've read estimates that cleanup from a breach can cost a firm $300-$800 per customer. For whatever reason, that firm decides to get out of the DRM business. What guarantees are there they they'd support some sort of exchange? Will the publisher licenses allow them to do so? While Borders and B&N may have worked something out, would Amazon see any advantage in doing so, particularly if they've effectively won the format wars? Did VHS manufacturers help Betamax library owners transition at low/no cost?
Your analogy about cars does not seem to apply at all. Perhaps you could find a better one?
I thought your original use of the analogy was bad, and said as much. There is no direct comparison in terms of functionality.
[...] If a book retailer had to rely on a total market space of only 0.6% of the US population, it might be able to survive, but not at the levels enjoyed by book sellers for the past thousand years or so.
Ah, but the discussion was whether ebooks would completely replace paper books as suggested by TnTexas, not whether booksellers will continue to flourish as in the past. You seem to be answering a question that was not asked.
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deesy58 wrote:bobstro wrote:With the advent of computers, the age of the paperless office was surely just around the corner. Hasn't exactly happened yet, and cheaper printers have produced an explosion of paperwork (TPS Reports). [...]You are a bit mistaken.No, actually I'm not.I worked at an aerospace manufacturing firm in California that had eliminated about 90% of the paper involved in a manufacturing enterprise. The company employed "workflow" technology and electronic QA testing capture to keep almost everything within its ERP system.You are able to cite some companies that have been successful in doing so. Had I written that "no companies have made it to paperless", you would be correct. I did not state that, however.Enlightened firms can, and some actually do, eliminate great volumes of paperwork by using computer technology wisely."Can" and "some actually do" underscore my point. While the expected promise was for most businesses to go paperless, that hasn't actually happened yet.You seem to be responding to a comment that I did not actually write.
Dare I say that sailboats are used, primarily, for entertainment these days, and not for transportation. When was the last time you saw a container ship or oil tanker that was sail powered?
TnTexas suggested that ebooks might completely replace ebooks. None of the responses implied that paper books would remain the primary source of reading material. Had anybody suggested that paper books will remain the primary means of reading for the vast majority of the world, you'd have a point. Nobody did.
Citing an exception does not make it a rule.
Isn't this the same Deesy that just cited a handful of companies that have made it to paperless?
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[...] The answer to your question about a small, niche book publisher would probably be yes. But there might be only one or two, and their products would probably be very expensive and not to be found on the NYT Best Sellers List.
The discussion hasn't been about the relative size of the market, but rather whether ebooks will eventually replace printed books. Much as sail-powered boats are still around, and have not yet completely replaced by powered boats, I see no reason to expect paper books to be completely replaced any time soon. Indeed, much as innovation continues to be made in sail, I can't think why innovations won't happen with print.
If you'd like to change the topic to the relative size of such an as-yet hypothetical market, you might find some who'll find it interesting enough to argue about.
I'm not so sure Bobstro, print would need to keep innovating at a significantly advanced rate once eprint catches up. And lets not pretend eprint wont catch up to print in the capabilities of text manipulation seen in some books. Ebooks are still in their infancy and have already gotten a firm (for their age) hold on the book market.
I can see a day when ebooks will come with multiple fonts embeded and in use, changing the overall font would select two (or more) fonts from a table to replace the fonts used.
To make that a bit more clear, an author uses Times New Roman, and Helvetica, TNR being the primary and Helevtica as a secondary to draw attention to the text. The user changes the font to Garamond, which replaces TNR, Helvetica would then be changed to say Dante. The font names I chose were at random, I can see authors choosing fonts for their artistic value relative to each other.
It's my understanding that publishers already practice some of that, typeface selection plays a part in the production of DTBs.
I can see the manipulation of other parts of the epage as well as the technology advances.
Will ebooks replace printed books entirely? Probably not. Mankind has shown it is very much a sentimental group, we like to remember the past and feel it enriches us in some way. Does everyone have equal need to do so? No, but to one level or another I would argue we all have held on to something for far longer than was needed because of the memories associated with that item. However I do feel that ebooks will replace printed books in common use.
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I'm not so sure Bobstro, print would need to keep innovating at a significantly advanced rate once eprint catches up.
Oh, I agree 100% that eprint can be much more agile. Even if ebook formats themselves don't change significantly, the devices they are read on certainly could use some improvements.
I don't see them as necessarily mutually exclusive. Much as the technologies are evolving, the publishers are evolving as well. While nonfiction differs from fiction, I am enjoying watching O'Reilly adjust and tweak their sales model. Buy a paper book and you can buy the same electronic title for $4.95. Buy an electronic book and you can buy the paper book for 1/2 price. Club members get 1/2 off all electronic titles. Buy that and you can still buy the paper edition for 1/2 price. If a new edition comes out, get that for 1/2 off. (Hard to do the last with fiction.)
[...] To make that a bit more clear, an author uses Times New Roman, and Helvetica, TNR being the primary and Helevtica as a secondary to draw attention to the text. The user changes the font to Garamond, which replaces TNR, Helvetica would then be changed to say Dante. The font names I chose were at random, I can see authors choosing fonts for their artistic value relative to each other.
That capability exists in the epub format today. Epub books are really just collections of HTML (web) pages. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are used to define the formats for different styles within a document (e.g. heading 1, paragraph text). An ebook reader can (usually) override the default style sheet. If you have a non-DRMed epub, you can go in and easily tweak the style sheet if it's causing you problems.
[...] Will ebooks replace printed books entirely? Probably not. Mankind has shown it is very much a sentimental group, we like to remember the past and feel it enriches us in some way. Does everyone have equal need to do so? No, but to one level or another I would argue we all have held on to something for far longer than was needed because of the memories associated with that item. However I do feel that ebooks will replace printed books in common use.
In common use, I'd certainly expect to see a shift. However, just as people still sail wind-powered boats, watch accoustic performances made using archaic instrucments and listen to live, unamplified singers, I think paper books will remain. Rather than just being old fuddy-duddy sentimental mementos, I expect some people will value the subjective and qualitative aspects of books.
I think the comparisons to cars and buggies are silly. A car moves you faster and more safely than a buggy. An ereader doesn't make you read "better", faster or more safely. After reading a paper book, I'm left with the same experience as an ereader. While ol' Beach NOOK is a worth companion on summer days, it's not as disposable as a paperback if it gets wet, nor am I likely (today) to pick up a new ebook while waiting in line to buy a dozen eggs at the supermarket.
One difference I can't really put my finger on is why I can often remember where and when I read a paper book, yet I have a hard time remembering such details when reading ebooks. I can distincly remember laying on my back reading one of the Hitchhiker's Guide books one evening over 30 years ago, yet can't remember much about reading equally funny stuff more recently on my tablet. One study (sorry, I didn't keep the link) noted that most ebook users have a harder time remembering the titles of what they last read when compared to paper book readers. While driving from A to B is mostly a matter of getting there, reading is (or can be) more of an experience and less of a race.m (Not to say that you can't have a pretty drive down a country lane in the fall.)
This may well just be me, or an "age thing", but I much prefer to study from a print book. While highlighting and color coding works well enough in my ereaders, I find flipping through a book looking for colored annotations far faster and effective. I was surprised to find that my sons (23, 25 now, in computer engineering and med school, respectively) much prefer paper books. Perhaps it's not age?
I'm no more qualified to predict the future than the next person (speaking of which, where did SoylentGreen get off to?) but I'm expecting to see print and electronic books evolve in independent but complimentary ways. Yes, we'll see less of print, to be sure. While the B&N or its successor of the future might not be an anchor big box store at every mall, I could envision it becoming more of a specialized store, offering something online-only retailers can't. Looking at sites like Goodreads, there seems to be a real desire (demand) for tying print and electronic collections together in meaningful ways.
In the meantime, I'm amusing myself contemplating how a typical Lovecraftian tale might need to be updated to account for an ebook-only generation of readers. Is it the Necronomicon if it's on my NOOK and the cover is nylon printed with little flowers instead of human flesh?
"Is it the Necronomicon if it's on my NOOK and the cover is nylon printed with little flowers instead of human flesh?"
Your first clue is that your Nook cover develops weeping sores and the flowers all look dead the morning after you buy it from Amazon... The BN version, of course, doesn't have that effect - central to the incantation is the act of installing the Kindle app on a Nook and buying product through it.
I don't think the music comparison is fair, both accoustic and electronic music have benefits that the other can't claim. They both sound different even when producing the same song. The gap is getting narrower, but I suspect it's going to remain for quite some time. There is, afterall, a reason different materials are used for the strings in string instruaments.
I'd agree with your observations about studying, but perhaps that's because of the way we were taught. Highlighting is only part of the process, getting to the page that has the highlight in a print book is very different than in an ebook and while it's easier in an ebook that doesn't mean it's better for those who are already accoustomed to the print way. In a novel you typically go from A to B to C and so on, but in a textbook you can go from A to E to C to R to B, and that process will feel different. I suspect that the generations growing up with ebooks will be more comfortable studying in ebooks.
As to your feeling of remembering where you were when you read something in print versus an ebook, I think it's the flaw in ereaders. Every book you read will look and feel the same. The weight, the font, the 'paper', the cover (unless you muck around on the Nook to get it to display the cover of the book as the screensaver which I have heard is possible but have not seen done. Sure the story is different, but that's only part of the memory. With so much else being the same maybe the mind just starts to blend it together.