Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pug ugly

Oh, how I hate ebooks. Certainly the kindle is the greatest threat to publishing to come along in the past 100 years. Another problem is publishers: How can they produce a hardcover book that retails for $24.95 and turn around to let Amazon and the like sell it for $9.99. Publishers, in this case, are probably the greatest threat to publishing since ... well, the ebook.

I'm not sure why there is now a larger size ebook from kindle. It's bulkier and more expensive. It's plastic, beige and impersonal. You can take a paperback book to the beach without fear. Not so the the ebook: They hate sand and water, not to mention magnets, hot coffee, iced tea and a whole lot of other things. Drop a paperback in the tub and you are out $7.99;
drop an ebook in the tub and you are out $300.

I guess I simply don't understand the appeal of these mass-produced I like the feel of paper, the progression of turning pages, the typography, the drop caps and so much more.

I'm not the only one. A recent article in Wired puts it very succinctly. ebooks are just ugly.

go to:

www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/05/e-book-design/

1 comment:

becomearobot said...

I stumbled upon your site while searching for "hate eBooks". I don't hate eBooks (in fact, I own a Sony Reader), but I'm always trying to learn more from the people who do hate them.

I really hadn't thought about book specific typography until I read your post and the Wired article you gave the URL for. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate typography. I'd like to say I'm more aware of it than your average reader. And I care about it in my eBooks too. In fact, I've replaced the default font on my Sony Reader with some much more respectable ones, and I often format my eBooks with drop caps (yes, the Sony Reader can do drop caps and much more if the eBook itself is formatted to include them).

I'll point out that a few publishers ARE finally realizing that most good eBook devices do support custom fonts, drop caps, in-line images, and more (I'm not sure how much of this Kindle supports... it's an inferior device). The Lord Of The Rings trilogy was just released in various eBook formats, and it appears to have been lovingly designed and formatted to take advantage of the medium instead of just being a text dump.

I have to STRONGLY disagree that eBooks are the greatest threat to publishing. ANYTHING that gets more people to read is a good thing. As long as what they're reading is good, a bland (yet serif and proportionally spaced) font should be the least of our worries.

Also, note that Amazon's $9.99 price point isn't the publisher's doing, but Amazon's. They're subsidizing prices at a loss to get an edge over other hardware manufacturers and eBook stores. Regardless, eBooks SHOULD be much cheaper; there are no manufacturing, shipping, storage, or retail costs.

Thanks for the post and Wired link.