Ebook

  • A couple of days ago, I read at The Conversation a post titled Weighing the environmental costs: buy an eReader, or a shelf of books?. Since that (overall pretty good) article missed a few important points, I explained them here. Today, I found on the Conversation article a new comment, containing some uninformed or irrelevant statements, including: a book is a lasting thing that can serve many people. An electronic device… fails the longevity test.
  • Yesterday I explained a few things about e-books that were missing from the article Weighing the environmental costs: buy an eReader, or a shelf of books?. One of the Conversation readers commented the original article with several misleading or irrelevant statements, which I criticized as you can read in the first part of this post. All I got was more of the same: two more comments, both missing the point and showing little understanding of what file formats are and how e-books and all other digital documents interact with hardware devices.
  • The Conversation just published an article that tries to compare the environmental costs of eReaders and shelfs of books. While overall that is a good article, I see no mention in it, or in the comments, of three important facts about reading, readers and ICT. First, all kinds of information can be digitized, e.g. coded as bits, and all bits are equal. The same USB drive can store books, movies, music and so on, and the same electronic devices can play them all.
  • 67 years ago Primo Levi was deported to Auschwitz. 64 years ago he published a book about that experience titled If this is a man. 24 years ago Primo Levi died. Today Primo Levi reminded me of the absurdity of certain laws and wastes of public money, and how the technology could help culture. Today I met a high school student who, having to read If this is a man to write a report, borrowed in the closest Public Library the copy that you see in these photos.
  • Last month Corriere della Sera, one of the major Italian newspapers, asked several novelists and other writers if and how the age of ebooks is changing fiction and the general approach to creation of literature. It was an interesting read, because it contained both pearls of wisdom and things that are either irrelevant or simply wrong, but all said by the same “gurus”. Italian writer Alberto Bevilacqua never imagined any of his books in electronic format, also because he can’t fathom “how its cover could be, or where I could write a dedication”.
  • On February 2nd, 2011, Italian publishing house Garamond left the Association of Italian Editors (AIE) and proposed to abandon the official Italian procedure for adoption of textbooks by schools because: every year Italian families with children in school spend 700 millions Euros (whereas other European countries spend from 25 to 80% less) to buy expensive, heavy textbooks that often are only half used and cannot be resold because every 2⁄3 years arrives an “updated edition” that becomes THE adopted textbook even if it isn’t really necessary
  • Todd Woody has written an interesting piece for the Grist magazine about the “iPad’s potential as a green machine”. In “iPadding into the future” Todd explains why and how, besides being very good for the environment, reading newspapers and magazines on an iPad also is a much more pleasurable experience than reading their paper versions. Todd then concludes that this isn’t going to happen until a digital (i.e. “/immaterial”) subscription costs five times more than the print subscription.
  • Personally, I believe that copyright has a reason to exist (1) and that copying and sharing online 24⁄7 every file you can lay your hands on, “just because I can”, makes it easier to pass things like ACTA and therefore is a stupid, counterproductive habit. This doesn’t mean that I like the current copyright system. I am convinced that copyright must be reformed and that, even before that, its duration must be heavily reduced.