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Rogue Mutt Classics: E-books & Muffins!

July 11, 2011

This was the first Sunday entry wherein I employed my misguided notion of letting people vote on what topic they wanted to read.  That didn’t work because just as in real life, people couldn’t be bothered to vote on it.  Which was why I abandoned that format quickly and started choosing my own lame ideas before realizing (finally) that no one really reads blogs on Sunday anyway.

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Welcome to the inaugural edition of Super Sunday Smackdown (better name pending) wherein I write an entry based on the suggestions of you, the people.  It’s democracy in action!  Or based on the number of replies this week, democracy inaction.

I only got two responses to my request for topics:  e-books vs. print books and muffins.  So let’s tackle both of those.  Ready…go.

It’s hard for me to say much about e-books.  I don’t have an e-book reader, so I’ve read exactly 1 e-book to date.  I do have an archive website where you can read most everything I’ve written in blog form.  And I do have 3 books for sale for Amazon’s Kindle, all for a mere $0.99 each.  That’s the extent of my knowledge on e-books.

To me here’s why I don’t read more e-books yet.

1) I am poor.  Amazon’s Kindle goes for about $200, Apple’s iPad will retail around $500, and so forth.  I don’t have that kind of money!  I only spent $50 on my MP3 player and that was about two years ago–which in technological terms means it’s like one of those stone arrowheads people find in their backyards.  And really I have a lot more use for the MP3 player while I’m writing, so if I’m not shelling out big bucks for something I use a lot, I’m not going to do it for something I’ll use far less.
2) The format is still evolving.  Remember the VHS vs. Beta wars back in the late ’70s and early ’80s?  I don’t overly well, but I’ve heard of it.  Basically there were two formats for playing back and recording videotape.  In the end VHS won, which meant if you had Beta you were screwed.  This recently happened again with HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray.  There was a great summation of this situation in “Tropic Thunder” where the nerdy actor explained that basically Blu-Ray won because it won over the porn industry and gamers by including it with PS3s.  So now if you bought an HD DVD player you’re screwed.

And remember 8-tracks, cassette tapes, Laserdisc?  There’s a lot of dead-end formats out there.  Actually one of the reasons I don’t care about Blu-Ray is that it will probably be replaced in a couple of years anyway, so I’m not going to buy another copy of everything in my library for that.  As for e-books, as I said we’ve got Sony’s E-Reader, Amazon’s Kindle, B&N has theirs, Apple is coming out with the iPad…there’s no way to know who’s going to win this war.  Why should I shell out $200 for a Kindle when in six months it’ll be collecting dust with my Betamax and HD DVD players?

In marketing I’m what’s known as a “late adopter.”  Actually I’m a late, late, late, late adopter.  Your “early adopter” is the sucker who shelled out $5000 for the very first plasma and flat screen TVs or bought the first electric car to roll off the assembly line.  Those are the people who always want the newest thing to show off and don’t care that it costs an arm and a leg and the bugs haven’t been worked out.  Whereas someone like me besides being cheap likes to wait until the kinks have been worked out and the prices come down to reasonable levels.  Like now that flat screen, HD TVs are going for $300-$500 I might finally get one.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that until there’s one champion in e-book technology and prices come down, there’s really no point for me to get involved in that.  I’m sure a lot of other people feel the same way about that.

Though most people who say they won’t read e-books use the excuse my sister does in saying she likes to feel books.  Of course she also has a collection of books to rival Roger Ebert or Neil Gaiman.  Me, I only keep two bookshelves.  Then again I’ve moved a number of times and books are a pain in the arse to cart around.

Eventually though e-books will rule the day.  Why?  Think of Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, or any other sci-fi show.  Do they run around with clipboards and paper forms?  Did Captain Kirk write his captain’s logs on paper?  Hell no!

This is because despite the romanticism around paper, it’s annoying.  Take it from someone in the accounting field:  all those government forms pile up!  I spent hours on Friday filing all of my 2009 bills into storage boxes, which will then go into our storage room Indiana Jones-style to wait to be examined by “top men.”  We’re going to be moving our office, which means all those boxes now will have to be moved as well.  Hooray!  What I’m saying is that paper isn’t portable.  And if you have a fire or flood or rats or badgers in the storage room all that paper will be destroyed.  With digital records it’s far easier to keep backups somewhere and they require virtually no storage space, except on the hard drive.  And considering you can now get a 1 TB (as in terra-byte) hard drive for $200 or less that’s not really a problem.

So it’s just a matter of time before e-books unseat paper books as the format of choice.  There’s just one major thing besides price and standardization holding them back:  muffins.  It’s easy to sit in bed or on the couch and eat a blueberry muffin while reading a paper book.  If a few crumbs get into the spine, so what?  If you smear a little blueberry juice on a page, big deal.  On the other hand, if you’re sitting there with your Kindle and eating a blueberry muffin it can be disastrous.  Crumbs could get into the nooks and crannies of the machine and short something out.  If you get blueberry juice on your fingers then it’ll stain the keys or screen for all eternity.  You could be out $200 thanks to a $2 muffin from Starbucks.

Until this problem is resolved, I don’t think e-books can replace print books.

That is all.

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11 Comments
  1. I like ebooks. I’m going to buy a friend an e-reader and have entertained giving away a kindle or a nook on my blog for something in the future. I haven’t decided yet. I’ve also thought about giving away my used iPad when it comes time to upgrade.

    I loved Battlestar Galactica btw…although the last episode left me wanting.

    • I never watched the new Battlestar Galactica. I think I watched the old one when I was a kid. There was a great parody on “Robot Chicken” where the show’s creator reveals how easy the show is to write because when he gets stuck he just makes another character a Cylon. I heard though that in the last episode it turns out they go to Earth way in the past. Which reminds me of that “Terra Nova” show coming to Fox where people go back in time to live with dinosaurs. Why would you go back that far? Didn’t they see “Jurassic Park?” I’d go back just a few thousand years when there weren’t swarms of giant man-eating critters running around, but that wouldn’t be as exciting I guess.

  2. The last episode of Battlestar Galactica was terrible — so terrible I ranted about it:

    http://www.troublewithroy.com/2009/03/best-and-only-real-explanation-for-how.html

    As for e-readers,

    1. I have trouble eating & using an e-reader for the very reason you cite. Last week, I ended up propping my Kindle up on the arm of my chair and eating my ice cream as I read that way. Very unsatisfying, but I made it work because that’s the kind of derring-do I display.

    2. Late adopters can save: XKCD had a comic in which a guy bought year-old gaming systems and tech, etc. He got discount prices but was able to upgrade every year anyway. You can get an original iPad for $350 on eBay right now. The original Kindle, which I have, probably goes for $50. I’m still using my old iPod, the one with the small video screen. I got it as a present. So if you want an e-reader, pick up an original (not the new model) Kindle; it works great. I tend to not trade up in gadgets, but wait for them to break, then get the newest/best I can. So we used our old laptop for years, and then when it had to be reformatted and had all kinds of problems, we upgraded to a newer one that I’ll use for years now.

    3. You started out your blog with voting? I did that with The Best Of Everything. You’re right: people don’t vote on the Internet. (Or in real life.)

    • The thing is now that I know so many people with eBooks through Twitter and Facebook I’m really thinking about buying one. Probably a Kindle since that’s where most of my sales come from and still cheaper than an iPad.

      For some reason people only seem to vote online for things like American Idol and all star games. Then there are millions of votes. I ask people to vote on a topic for my blog and…nothing.

  3. I’ve never used an e-reader, either. Mainly because they’re expensive–and because they probably will catch on in the future, as technology changes, lowering the price and making them easier to use.

  4. An iPad is only useful Mutt if you want all the other stuff that goes with it. I use my iPad to surf the internet, to play games on, to read books, to watch television shows sometimes, to check movie listings through apps, to read newspapers and magazines (through their apps), and to sometimes listen to music. If all you want to do is read…don’t buy an iPad. Oh btw…did you get my email I sent you?

    • Probably, but Yahoo! is being obnoxious today. Actually our Internet at work is funky today. It will load some things like Blogger, Facebook, and WordPress (eventually) but others like Yahoo! or AOL or Amazon it locks up.

  5. Finale of Battlestar Gallactica: I totally saw that coming. I had two scenarios that I expected, and that was one of them.

    Briane, I just saw an ereader pillow in some catalog. It has elastic to hold the ereader in place, and you can prop it up anywhere.

    And the VHS/Beta wars. My dad went with Beta. Oh, that was a mess to switch over. Now, we don’t even have a flatscreen (and probably won’t this year or next), and I don’t own an mp3 player. I feel kinda left out, though.

  6. Bwahaha! You know, I’ve gotten cream cheese on my iphone screen before. Damn bagel. 😉

  7. It will be a sad day when and if (and I am not saying you’re not right!) the ebook rules the day- both for writers and for readers. There are bunches of people that will be locked out of that technology and I don’t see it ever really being cheap and affordable enough for, say, kids to have as a thing to carry around. I work in a library where middle class folks use ereaders. Guess which folks don’t? The poorer folks don’t. I know it’s not terribly fashionable to care about what the poor folks do, but then more and more of us are getting poorer and if we can’t afford to buy the gadgets (and I personally don’t see myself buying any gadgets in the near future- I am just praying my computer will hang tough for at least the next two years!!!) then we won’t be able to read books. And if there are fewer readers (and there are already too few!!!) then we are in worse shape then we are currently in. BTW: your book does look interesting but I don’t have a ereader and WON’T read on my computer and I can’t afford the paperback (no kidding, I am really poor right now! I only buy real gems and all books I read come from the library. Want to donate a copy? I’ll see if I get it in Denver Public Library?)

  8. Lisa Potts permalink

    I have a dedicated e-reader and an iPad. The e-reader I could do without but I cherish my iPad (it runs apps for all of the e-readers so it’s like having them ALL).

    I will never give up printed books though. Call me nostalgic, I guess.

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