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Is technology killing old loved books?

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In this age of electronic books, are we losing the magic of passing on a well-thumbed paperback, perhaps with a name scribbled inside - or even notes in the margin that tell a story of where a book has been? Or can the two happily co-exist, giving us the best of both worlds?
Josh Spero, author of Second Hand Stories and editor of Spear's Magazine, and the author Erica Wagner, a former literary editor at the Times newspaper, mulled over the question of new tech and old books.
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One thing has changed for sure ... the speed that stuff ceases to be "iconic".

In the SciFi field for example, in my childhood my favorite trick was to (benignly) abuse the pricing policy of Annie's Bookstop used book pricing. "Half Cover Price". As a mid aged biz trained adult it had a long term benefit, aka raising the overall price of the store stock, but for a sweet golden period, there was lots of wonderful Gold and Silver age stuff there. So Dad's $20 allowance could let me bring home 15 books!!

And back then, stories lasted a lot longer. Isaac Asimov's Nightfall, while a nice little story itself, magically found itself as a the Golden Child of Reprint Anthologies, and stuck around for *twenty years*. Today we're lucky if anyone gestaltly remembers anything before Obama's 2nd election.

I don't know what to say about these kinds of things, or even where I stand.
I like the nostalgic experiences of these kinds of things.  I miss the days when we anticpiated albums coming out and meeting with friends to listen to them for the first time (I remember Guns n Roses was particularly exciting), and from what I've heard about the 60s and 70s, I missed that also.

On the other hand, despite its unintended antisocial consequences, I love having all this content so accessible these days.  Old books on the web, tablets, ebooks, ipods...I'm devouring these things at a pace I could never do before.

I don't know...I just see more opportunities here and more options, not less.  I've tried to recreate those evenings where we sit around and introduce new music to friends and stuff, that's not that hard.  Invite a bunch of people over and listen to music and drink/eat.  The problem is the people.  My friends mostly don't really give a shit, if I'm being frank.  I feel we are getting bored too easily.  And even that is ok!  Because we're in a great time for that!  If you're bored, go on youtube, or check out a new song or album, or movie, or all sorts of free stuff right in your computer browser there.  But then people start complaining about how it's not good to be in front of a screen for so long.  Look...screen, nose in book, head inside a car engine, who cares?

Anyway, yeah I miss the physical books a little.  But I certainly don't wish to be back in those days.

Regarding how longs things are iconic...this is a more interesting question to me.  Because I often wonder how all this stuff is going to affect the economy once it really becomes mature.  How are most people going to make money in such an environment, especially in capitalist countries?  I have this huge fear that artists and writers and such are not going to be able to make any money without resorting to either other jobs or BS kinds of content creation, even though that fear seems to always have been around with artists/writers, so maybe its an irrational fear.

I view it as just another choice for the reader.  Something new.  An alternative.

Back in the late 90s we listened to The Radio Reader on WLRN-FM at work.  A National Public Radio station (NPR).

Most of the morning programming on that station, Modern Jazz, was pretty distracting so we listened to other stations or 8-tracks until 11am.
That's when the "Consummate Radio Reader... Dick Estell" came on.  Everyone within ear-shot looked forward the next 30 min.

Did this make me want to buy an iPod and listen to books being read to me?  No.  It's just fond memories.

I believe people will do what people do best... please themselves.

I don't think it’s so much the technology as changes in the publishing business and the gradual elimination of the "mid" or "middle list" by most publishers.

If it ain't selling in large quantities (~50K and up), a title is either tossed on the bargain rack or into a shredder fairly quickly these days. New tax rules for how back and mid stock inventory has to be valued also plays a part. Nobody can afford to carry"slow inventory" on their financial books any more.

The end result is that the only books by major publishers that can be sure of survival are the ones that cater to the lowest common denominator. Classic, cult, and niche interest titles disappear fairly quickly after their first press run. So in some respects, electronic editions make many more titles available for longer since there's no production costs or physical inventory to carry. Under this scenario, it actually behoves a publisher to keep their entire catalog available electronically. Something they can't do with paper.

Oh yeah...just for the record, I still prefer paper and enjoy buying and giving away used books. That's something you can't always (or simply or aren't allowed to) do with e-books.



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