September 28, 2010

"With Physical Books Obsolete..."

"... The Strand Resorts to Luring Customers With Candy."

46 comments:

Scott M said...

Physical books obsolete? BLASPHEMY! Nothing beats the tactile experience of reading an actual book made from dead trees and such.

E.M. Davis said...

Maybe they just need to visit a Barnes & Noble in Columbus, Ohio. Books all over the damn place, and people buying them, too.

GMay said...

"... The Strand Resorts to Luring Customers With Candy."

Sweet, new idea for a mobile bookstore!

edutcher said...

They're obsolete?

Maybe, after forty years of public education by union teachers, functional illiteracy is so bad, there aren't enough people who can read.

Richard Dolan said...

Ann is in a NY frame of mind today, revisiting old haunts -- here the Strand and (next) Joey Ramone Place (a/k/a/ the Bowery and 2nd). The Strand is still pretty crowded on most days, especially now with the college kids back (NYU, Baruch, Cardozo are near). I suspect that the Strand's problem, if it has one, isn't eBooks but sites like Bookfinder.com. It's so easy today to find and price books, and then compare them to Strand prices, without leaving your desk. Candy isn't going to help with that.

What you miss by buying books that way is the sheer extravagance of the place, with lots of titles and authors on the endless shelves you've never have heard of or thought of picking up. It's nothing like a B&N -- so many of the titles are out-of-print and so oddball that you'd never find them in a place like that. I still go to the Strand, but not as often as I did 20 years ago, and enjoy it every time I do. No add'l sweets necessary.

traditionalguy said...

The NAMBLA approach may work in NYC.

Lem said...

As far as I know most of the hundreds of thousand of inmates in our jails are not allowed Kindles or computers.. but they are allowed books..

or something..

I saw it on The Shawshank Redemption (1994) ;)

Lem said...

The NAMBLA approach may work in NYC.

LOL.. that made my day.

thanks

former law student said...

Obsolete?

Books I bought in the 60s can still be read while cassettes, 8-tracks, Betamax, and VHS tapes are useless, fit only for the landfill.

Bob_R said...

Good one for fls. Books (and vinyl records) are remarkably stable technology, so they will probably be around for a long time as archival material.

On the other hand, when I sit at my desk with a wall of math books behind me I still go to google first when I want to look something up. I rarely have to turn around for anything at the undergraduate or elementary graduate level. I don't see many grad students building a library (though I still have to bug them to return my books.)

Of course, math is unusual in that you don't have to rely on authority. The proof is either correct or it isn't. You don't have to trust the source.

Palladian said...

I hate attention-getting hyperbole by "journalists".

Even though I'm very pro-technology, and do a lot of work in the digital realm, I can't stand to read long texts electronically. Digital technology isn't a replacement for all physical books, it's an adjacent medium.

I have books printed in the early 17th century that are perfectly readable. Suck on that, Kindle!

Scott M said...

Assuming it's not a groundburst over a library, books are EMP-hardened at the publisher.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Bob_R, you remind of the Britannica. I grew up in a house with Britannica on the shelf. I remember sitting on the hearth with as many as six volumes open at a time, as I jumped from article to article (kinda presaging my web browsing habits today). For a curious kid, that was paradise.

All my adult life, I've wanted a new Britannica set. But realistically, I know that whenever I need information, I would jump online before I opened the Britannica. And I can't spend over a thousand dollars on a nostalgia item I'll never really use.

The Crack Emcee said...

"With Physical Looks Obsolete,...The Strand Resorts to Luring Customers With Candy."

Beautiful.

Robert Cook said...

Whenever I go to The Strand, which is not infrequently, they're always packed with shoppers. Of course, if you're making $1,000,000.00 in weekly revenue and your weekly expenses are $1,000,001.00, you're in the red.

I don't know how well or badly The Strand is doing, but their appeal (to me) is not the candy, but the out of print or hard to find books they often have on hand, and their discounts.

I've bought four books there in my last two visits, (within the last week and a half).

Scott M said...

Bob_R, you remind of the Britannica. I grew up in a house with Britannica on the shelf. I remember sitting on the hearth with as many as six volumes open at a time, as I jumped from article to article (kinda presaging my web browsing habits today). For a curious kid, that was paradise.

Ditto. Funny enough, the local branch library was giving away old books when I went to vote a few weeks back. My 6-year-old grabbed one and I didn't realize until we got home that it the T-U of an encyclopedia set. She absolutely loves that book...even though it's dated circa 1964.

Tell you what I would really like to have, though, are both the Civil War and Wild West series from Time/Life. Remember the leather-bound sets? My dad has part of the Wild West set and they are still fun to read. Thus begins a quest....

Nichevo said...

Part of the trouble for publishing is the horrible costs. When I was biking to grade school I could pass the B. Dalton's and pick up the next Hornblower book, the next Lawrence Sanders, the new Conan, and we'd be talking maybe $1.95-3.95 for anything not the thickness of a Bible.

Now all paperbacks are - what, 8, 10, 12 dollars and up? (and I'm not talking tradebacks either).

IMHO (semi-serious) some dark conspiracy wants to limit reading to the wealthy or to library clients and the masses should just watch TV.

Alex said...

Nonsense. I bought a Nook a few months ago, have been enjoying it a lot. But I just stopped into Borders last Friday and picked up 3 hardback science books that just caught my eye. I won't be buying ALOT more physical books due to space limitations, but I will never stop buying them.

HDHouse said...

..not reading books isn't so hot....

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)
OH RLY...physical books are obsolete?

So my Kindle/Nook whatever...it can only hold so many "books," right? Whereas my bookshelf/shelves can hold THOUSANDS, but books are obsolete...

ScottM, as usual, over-states the dangers of EMP, but makes a very good point about books...which works for power outages or Civilization Ending Zombie Apocalypses (CEZA). A CEZA is MUCH more likely than a high-end EMP attack, it must be don’t see any movies about EMP, but lots and lots of shows and movies about zombies! HAH, got you now ScottM…boxed into an irrefutable intellectual corner, you are now….

Alex said...

Joe - actually a Kindle/Nook can hold 1000s of eBooks with onboard memory and the Nook comes with a dongle for connecting up unlimited microSD card which would expand your mobile eBook collection to infinity. But sure, it's not protected against an EMP attack.

Scott M said...

@Joe

Of course, you realize that the hardest part of being in the middle of a zombie apocalypse is trying to forget how totally awesome it is.

WWZ is on tap with possibly Brad Pitt stepping in as the interviewer. Mark Hammil's too old to do a proper Todd Wainio, but his voice work on the audiobook was outstanding. I'd buy an older Todd Wainio if Hammil were to star in the roll. Shades of his Big Red One performance so many years ago.

traditionalguy said...

Just wait until General Secretary Obama takes up the emergency powers that will include logging into and re-writing anti-Obama parts of the books on your Kindle whle you sleep.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

I get a little tired of the "can't survive EMP" argument. Yeah, and books can't survive fire or floods or bookworms or toddlers who love the sound of paper tearing or people desperate for a toilet paper substitute.

If durability is the trump card that proves which format is superior, it's time we all dust off the clay tablets and brush up on our cuneiform skills. Durability is a benefit. Each format has unique benefits and drawbacks.

Scott M said...

Martin makes an excellent argument for returning to clay tablets. Howard Johnson is right!

Joe said...

A work colleague just bought a kindle. I find the page turning annoying, but was very surprised and impressed at how readable it was, though not enough to buy one.

Shanna said...

What I want is a free ebook with the purchase of the hardcopy. Then maybe I would get a Nook/Kindle…

That or for prices on ebooks to drop significantly.

Joe said...

EMP?

If we have an EMP episode, whether our electronic books survive will be the least of our problems.

Remember the Twilight Zone episode where the last surviving man, a loner, is so excited and then breaks his glasses?

Scott M said...

What I want is a free ebook with the purchase of the hardcopy. Then maybe I would get a Nook/Kindle…

Excellent point. I could be moved to buy one if this was case. Plus, I would have something to lord over Joe when the EMP wipes out all the Kindles anyway.

The biggest problem though, Joe, is after it happens, we're all going to be a tad too busy to blog, so I won't get to say I told you so. More's the pity...

Joe said...

Should the "Strand's" tag line be "18 miles of books, most of them rubbish"?

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)


I did not realize that Alex….but I’m a Luddite when it comes to such things.

ScottM, I read a review of World WarZ, and I’ve read and seen previews for “The Walking Dead” and I guess it’s fashionable, now, but I really am tired of zombies. What sank it for me, was a portion of World WarZ, IIRC, about the Battle of Brooklyn, where the US Army is defeated by zombies…because the they shot centre of mass, rather than head, used hi-tech weapons…you know what empty 3 or more 3 round bursts of 5.56mm into a zombie, head or otherwise I’m betting no zombie…hit a zombie with a burst of 7.62mm ammunition, no zombie…call in mortars, artillery, or air strikes and blast and fragmentation will cause mass zombie “casualties”….and then the preview for “The Walking Dead” our hero is taking refuge in an abandoned M-1 tank…please someone tell me how zombies defeated an M-1?

At the battle of Omdurman 20,000 Dervishes inflicted NO dead on the Anglo-Egyptian Army, under Kitchner. Why, because the Brit’s had repeating rifles, Maxim guns, and breech-loaded artillery and the Dervishes had swords…Technology/firepower KILLS. The Dervishes represent the “zombie threat” hand-held weapons versus firepower, and it’s a guaranteed loser. Were it otherwise spear-wielding humans would never have climbed tot eh top of the food chain over lions and other large predators.

Bottom-Line: I can no longer suspend my disbelief to accept that something far less dangerous than a lion is going to overcome millions of humans with fire arms. I’ve gotten to the age where I like my science fiction, fairly hard..and can no longer just “accept” that zombies win, even though a history of humankind would suggest they won’t.

Post-script: so now I’m really a geek aren’t I? I mean discussing the “science” and “history” of zombie outbreaks… just call me Dr. Sheldon Cooper, I guess.

former law student said...

actually a Kindle/Nook can hold 1000s of eBooks with onboard memory

Can I download a book from Barnes and Noble onto my Kindle? Or am I locked into just one provider, once I buy an eBook reader?

And we learned when that kid had his book remotely erased that the danger to your books on Kindles is not EMP, it is Amazon.

Scott M said...

The context of the Battle Of Yonkers is that it came on the tail of the "last brushfire" war, which are references to Iraq and Afghanistan. The narrator even mentions some of the heavy equipment still painted desert camo.

The whole point of that part of the story was that the world was already starting to fall apart (The Great Panic), but the administration decided they needed a morale-boosting smackdown to show the populace they were still in control. From the professional soldier's point of view, the narrator, the leadership only did two things right...picking the location (Yonkers) and clearing the civilians. Everything else, from top to bottom, was a clusterfuck.

They had the soldiers in total MOPP gear on one of the hottest days of the summer. They had them dig standard fighting positions (concealment and cover) against an enemy that cares not a whip for either. They were blowing tank fighting positions into the parking lots of local stores...fighting positions for crying out loud.

The narrator even mentions an entire set of mobile latrines in exasperation when he says every toilet in every store and house was still working. His point was that the leadership had brought out all the pretty things (1 reporter for every two uniforms) but hadn't considered the actual enemy or had enough ammo for sustained operations.

He also highlighted an Achilles heal in the net warrior concept, but that's kind of beside the point. I've talked to a lot of professional servicemen that loved the Battle Of Yonkers and insist Brooks had good technical advisement on that part. Ditto for the Battle Of Hope, given the circumstances he lays out.

Alex said...

FLS - the Nook being a superior device was just one reason I went for it over the Kindle. The other was big-brother Amazon.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Joe (The Crypto Jew),

But- but- but- THE ZULUS!

I kid, I kid. I was on a mail list once where there was an unofficial rule: no discussions of Ewoks vs. Stormtroopers were allowed. The Ewok supporters had basically two arguments:

1. George Lucas said it, so it must be true.

2. But- but- but- THE ZULUS!

While it may seem unfair to conflate those two arguments -- one based on a movie, the other based on history -- the arguments were essentially the same. See, their knowledge of Zulu battles was also based almost entirely on movies. The fact that those movies were all based on one battle that was a textbook case in inept leadership, and the fact that every other encounter between well-led/well-supplied British troops and Zulus was a major Zulu defeat, were facts that never made it into those movies.

But it hurt their little feelings to point that out; so I kept silent on my opinion: a squad of 21st century US Marines with only 21st century armaments would've been standing around, looking at a small mountain of dead teddy bears.

ironrailsironweights said...

books can't survive fire or floods or bookworms or toddlers who love the sound of paper tearing or people desperate for a toilet paper substitute

With respect to the last of those threats, leaves would work better than book pages.

And corn cobs are the best of all.

Peter

peter hoh said...

Who's Candy?

And what does she look like?

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)


How I HATED the Ewoks! Never was there a more blatant toy sale tie-in…there is NO way the Ewoks, win. Not if Joe the Crypto Jew is in charge…we open up with Chemical Weapons and advance by bounds, lots of orbital fire power or indirect fire on-call…

So the Zulu lovers only watched “Zulu Dawn?” Because “Zulu” does a very creditable job of portraying the interaction of spears and Henry-Martini repeating rifles. Had the Brit’s at Isandlwana formed “square” rather than spreading themselves out they’d have put short shrift to the Zulu Impi’s, IMO. “The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the Strong…but that’s how the smart money bets.”

For sci-fi in the future, I’d recommend any of Frezza’s tales of the 1/35th Imperial Rifle Battalion or the first 8 books of Ian Douglas’ Nonology concerning the US Marine Corps in the future.


Lastlyy, yes a "pile of dead teddy bears" is such a heart-warming image....

Revenant said...

If durability is the trump card that proves which format is superior, it's time we all dust off the clay tablets and brush up on our cuneiform skills. Durability is a benefit. Each format has unique benefits and drawbacks.

Well said.

Joe said...

Plus, I would have something to lord over Joe when the EMP wipes out all the Kindles anyway.

I don't have a Kindle. And I plan to purchase high powered weapons just before the EMP event and I'll just take what I want--or make you vice-lord of the library. But, you will still serve me! (And together we'll fight off those leather wearing bastards and/or zombies.)

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)

Joe, will you be known as Humungous, Lord of the Wasteland?

Kirk Parker said...

Re: ewoks

Remember Darth Vader's blog? And all the hilarious faux comment-spam about Ewoks for sale?

Synova said...

Physical books are not obsolete. They're a luxury.

Which they were before as well.

Particularly hard covers. Buying an e-book isn't that different from waiting for the paperback.

Also, there is no longer the feeling that one must purchase a book before it goes out of print or miss it altogether.

Deb said...

Something to do with all those obsolete books.

peter hoh said...

Here are a whole bunch of things to do with obsolete books.

My favorite is the sidewalk covered in books.

But I'm glad I wasn't there. It would have been too much to bear.

Bryan C said...

Obsolete? I have a Kindle and two e-reader apps on my iPod, and even I don't think books will ever be obsolete.

w/v "baringin" - the third dyslexic stage of grief.