Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Colour edging

ThE 2008 D&AD annual

Text: Symbol Freelife Satin 130gsm
Endpapers: Splendorgel EW 300gsm 
Slipcase: Sirio Black/Black 700gsm


Sirio Color Promotion 2010 
Category - Marketing Material

Sirio Color White/White 135gsm Poster, 
Sirio Color Black/Black 290gsm Envelope, 
290gsm Sirio Color Boxes:

Cherry & Arancio (Red & Orange)
Verde & Lime (Green & Green)
Perla & Smeraldo (Grey & Blue)
Limone & Gialloro (Yellow & Yellow)


'rint 'inishes:
'edregoni Splendorlux Black Glossy 240gsm
Century 'remium White 100gsm
Litho’d Offset black
'oil Stamp
Die Cuts

VAG Rounded

Sunday, 27 November 2011


Books have been around, well, for centuries. The demise of "dead tree" books has been predicted for years, but somehow they've managed to survive. Electronic readers have come (and mostly) gone, victims of bad software, limited title selection and high prices. But now, the Amazon Kindle seems to have taken off. Will this be the end of bound books?

Newsweek thinks it's a championship fight between books and ebooks. Who will win?

I say books! Books are better! However, I'm willing to listen to the other side. Here's my take, then tell me what you think.

How ebooks will replace printed books
Do you remember when film photography was ubiquitous and consumer digital cameras were just starting to come onto the market? (Worryingly, there will be readers of this blog that won’t.)
At the time, there was any amount of commentary from the tech boosters who said that of course digital photography would supplant film soon enough. Meanwhile the naysayers trotted out a list of reasons why they wouldn’t be trading in their “real” cameras for these second-class substitutes and couldn’t see why anyone would.
I don’t need to tell you how that one worked out, but let’s look at the process by which this happened.
Mass-market consumer digital cameras started with the Casio QV-10 in 1995. With a resolution of a quarter of a megapixel (0.25MP) combined with pathetic image processing it was clearly a pale precursor to the intelligent and vivid cameras we enjoy fifteen years later. Yet it was essentially a modern digital camera: A (large) pocket-sized device producing colour pictures, with internal memory, a colour screen on the back and the ability to transfer pictures to a computer. The digital camera technology of today may be better but it isn’t fundamentally different.
In this first stage, the mass market and many pundits view the new technology as a loser. It’s both far more expensive and has far worse quality and usability than the thing it’s supposed to replace. This is the “birth” phase of a technology, where the early adopters spend a fortune to get something that’s massively compromised, yet shows promise and provides a fair amount of exclusivity.
I got my first digital camera in 2000, five years after the QV-10. It was aFuji MX-1700. Costing around £400, it produced 1.3 megapixel images and had a 3x zoom lens. There were cheaper cameras, but they had even lower resolutions, worse image processing and no zoom lens. On the upside, it was extremely pocketable and produced crisp, well-exposed pictures. On the downside, the pictures were still very low resolution and it was very slow to use, with a lag of what seemed like around a second between pressing the shutter release and the camera capturing and storing the image. Compared with most compact film cameras, it was incredibly expensive toy. Yet for these faults, it was a good replacement for much of my film photography. I could see my images immediately after they were shot and show them to other people. Having paid for the camera, each shot was effectively free. Best of all, I could transfer them to my computer and put them on my website, which was in the process of becoming a far more common way of sharing photos than making prints. For its time, and for the things I did, it was fantastic. But not everyone “got it”, or was prepared or able to spend that amount of money to replace the “perfectly good” film camera they were used to using.
This is the “growing-up” phase of a technology, where products reach a wider audience who are prepared to make some compromises in respect of older devices in return for benefits in areas which they consider to be more important to them. Often these benefits are in cost and convenience rather than quality.
Now digital cameras are ubiquitous. When we talk of “cameras” we mean “digital cameras” and tend to specify “film cameras” if we mean otherwise. Film is the preserve of retro enthusiasts and a tiny minority of professionals. Businesses based around film technology have either died or revolutionised their operations towards digital. Any discussion of “will digital replace film?” now seems anachronistic and nonsensical.
In this “mature” phase of the technology, the new technology is superior in almost every way to the old. Generally, it’s cheaper, quicker, more convenient, more flexible and has better quality. Not using it involves a large degree of compromise to get a niche benefit that the mass market simply doesn’t care about.
This is where I see ebooks and ebook readers going. Right now they’re in the “birth” stage. Often they’re more expensive, lower quality and more hassle than just buying a printed book. It’s easy to see why relatively few people bother — and why those that do are considered a little strange. To most people it makes little rational sense.
But before long — and I believe we’re just entering this phase with devices like the Kindle and particularly the iPad — we’ll be in the “growing-up” phase. There will be definite pros and cons to ebooks and printed books, but not a clear-cut overall benefit either way. Which you choose will depend on what matters most to you. Cost, convenience (of carrying, purchasing and storing), display/reading quality, the ability to share and annotate, style and image. Some (richer) students will plump for an iPad over carrying a rucksack full of half a dozen fat textbooks. Other people will stick to the venerable printed book for a variety of reasons, including simple cost.
So how long before ebooks reach their “mature” phase? Five years? Ten? Almost certainly not any longer. Whatever device you’ll use to read them (phone, tablet, laptop, something else) you’ll have anyway, so no-one will think of that as a significant cost. The ebooks themselves will be much cheaper than their paper equivalents, where those even exist. Ebook reader quality will far exceed what’s possible on the printed page, in resolution, clarity and flexibility. Annotating ebooks and sharing those notes will be far easier and more powerful than on a paper page. You can’t search a printed book in any automated way at all, yet the ways we’ll be able to search, analyse and navigate ebooks in a few years will seem incredible compared to the best search technology we have today. And while some will wax nostalgic about the heft, the texture, the smell and the patina of the traditional printed book, in most cases they simply won’t be buying new ones. “Book” will mean “ebook” in common speech, and discussions about “ebooks vs. print” and will seem as quaint as the battles between digital and film photography advocates in the mid- to late-1990s.
I’ll miss printed books in some ways but I’ll be constantly reminded that the ebooks that have replaced them will have done so because they’re in every reasonable sense better. Rapid, incremental technological advancement will turn that potential into reality.
I just hope I’ll have the time to read more, but I won’t bet on that.

There are no disadvantages to reading from electronic reading devices compared with reading printed texts,” according to a study by Research Unit Media Convergence of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with MVB Marketing- und Verlagsservice des Buchhandels GmbH, operator of the ebook platform Libreka!.
The study was conducted after readers in Germany became skeptical about reading from electronic devices like ereaders and tablet PCs compared to traditional printed books.
Participants in the study read a variety of texts with different levels of understanding on an Amazon Kindle 3, Apple iPad and in print. Their reading behaviors and brain activity were examined using an EEG machine and eye tracking tools.
The study proved that reading from an electronic device instead of print has no negative effects, contradicting the misconception from German readers.
“There is no (reading) culture clash – whether it is analog or digital, reading remains the most important cultural technology,” said Professor Dr. Stephan Füssel, chair of the Gutenberg-Institute of Book Studies and spokesperson for the Media Convergence Research Unit at JGU.
Although there are no differences in reading performance on a screen or a printed book, one group of participants displayed faster reading times when using the iPad.
Even in today’s digital age, most of the participants in the study stated that reading printed text is still more comfortable than reading from a screen. But ebook use is certainly on the rise, especially now that libraries have begun checking out ebooks. One recent report found that ebook checkouts at libraries rose 200% in 2010.
What do you think? Do you prefer reading a book in print, or from your ebook or tablet?

One aspect of the electronic reader that tempts me – and I'm an old fuddy duddy so I have to admit it might be the only one – is its space-saving ability. Is there a reader out there who doesn't occasionally feel crushed by possessing too many books?

We're in book acquiring season now
. Winter's coming, so we stock up on autumn's prize-winners and runners-up. Christmas is around the corner, which means many of us will receive gift books or tokens. What will be the destiny of all these tomes? Unless you're a compulsive hoarder, you make a decision each time you finish reading a book that belongs to you. To keep or not to keep, that is the question.
But what's the answer? One could say, "Good books get kept, bad books go to Oxfam", but that would be oversimplifying. All of us, I suspect, have our systems. Me, I'm as likely to hang onto a thriller as a literary novel if I foresee a second reading in the future – but I move a lot, and space and transport costs make choices necessary. They're often hard ones, for example choosing to shed bigger books on account of the weight. But for any book lover, I believe the most satisfying route for a book enjoyed is its continued circulation. There's a pleasure in lending books to others – as long as they aren't dog-earing philistines who spill wine, wreck bindings through one-handed reading, or otherwise send books to early destruction. Alas, many of my friends are just such readers – so they don't get to read books I plan to reread.
Books I don't plan to reread I loan to friends then give up: as donations, as sales to used bookstores, as parting gifts to visitors seeking something to read on the flight home. I enthusiastically endorse the sales approach taken by Berlin's expat hangout Another Country, which combines secondhand bookshop with lending library. Approximately 20,000 books in English are colour-coded by price; you can keep your purchase after reading or return it for a full refund minus €1.50.
I love everything about books – the smell, the feel, the design, the covers – so parting is often sad. Because there is no foolproof method of culling it's also fraught with anxiety. I've saved books for several years, sure I'll read them again, then moved them along without a second thought, much less another reading. I've given books to friends only to buy them again. Some simply disappear: I'm on my fourth copy of Patrick Suskind's Perfume and my third of Beryl Bainbridge's The Bottle Factory Outing.
Like most people, I've clung to a few books for sentimental reasons: some boys' mysteries from 1920s (Poppy Ott and the Galloping Snail) because they were my father's childhood favourites; my original copy of The Joy of Cooking; the complete Lucia series by EF Benson, which I've had since the 1970s and reread many times. These books have journeyed to many homes in several countries and survived intact. I've also kept everything by, for example, Alan Bennett and Michael Frayn but am now reacquiring Kurt Vonnegut without having the slightest idea when in the past 30-odd years his works and I parted ways. Having just seen the covers of the latest Great Ideas Penguins, I'm reminded that some books must be kept just because they're too pretty to give up.
After all of us have made our decisions – to keep, donate, sell or give to a friend – a whopping 7m books in the UK alone end up in landfills each year. This figure would be vastly reduced if people took better care of them, but, even so, all books made of paper eventually disintegrate. That sense of a book's mortality makes it mean all the more to one who's loved it and will, I think, keep electronic readers from killing off books.
The destiny of books? I think it's that they exist to be read again and again, by you, me or someone else. We look at other people's bookshelves and feel we know them a little bit better. Our own remind us where we've been and where we might choose to retur
Richard MacManus at ReadWriteWeb has written a pair of articles considering the advantages that e-books and printed books have over each other. E-books get the nod for social highlighting, notes, look-up of words, ability to tweet and Facebook quotes, and search; paper books get it for feel, packaging, sharing, keeping, and second-hand books.
I can’t help but find both of these lists a little lame.
The e-books list seems to place an undue emphasis on social networking (the ability to tweet and Facebook quotes? Really? Something that only the Kindle has, and even it only got in April?) and leaves out such huge advantages as the ability to carry dozens or hundreds of books in one pocket-sized device, the instant gratification of having a book in your hand immediately after you decide to purchase it, or the way any e-book can be large-print with a simple font setting tweak.
Furthermore, despite the claim in the paper books list that they can’t, e-books can be “lent” in some cases more easily than printed ones. The Nook allows you to “lend” an e-book to a friend, for instance (though the feature does come up a bit lacking in the actual execution)—and needless to say, any book without DRM can be “lent” by e-mail.
As for the paper books list: again, why should “feel” even be in the running as an advantage? It’s nice and all, but I don’t consider the tactile experience to be a factor in any purchasing decision. And as for “keeping”, e-books can be copied, backed up, and stored in ways that paper books can’t. (And what about the days when books were printed on acidic paper that slowly crumbled away into dust? How “keepable” were thosebooks?)
Still, I do agree with MacManus’s conclusion:
In summary, there are pros and cons for both paper books and eBooks. The eBook market is ripe for innovation and breakthroughs in how we read, so eBooks will only improve over the coming years.
In the final analysis though, the real value of any book – whether read via paper or electronically – is in the words.

he question about ebooks is not if they will pass print, but when.
The short answer is ... not yet, but we'll have a much better idea in January.
Buzz around the young format has been building since the first mass-market ereader, the original Kindle, sold out in less than six hours in 2007. Amazon, which has estimated it holds over 70% of the ebook market, has stayed in the spotlight with new devices like the Fire tablet (see "Amazon Kindle Fire vs. Apple iPad 2") and two new Kindles it unveiled in September, but also with repeated declarations of how ebooks are flying off its virtual shelves.
The company said in May that its digital books were outselling its print books, after reporting last year that they had eclipsed hardbacks. The latest pronouncement was headline-perfect and ricocheted around the Internet and media outlets as the latest sign that paper books are on their way to extinction.
Amazon doesn't disclose its metrics, however, and some pointed out that the company's numbers refer only to unit sales, which could easily be swayed by the thousands of cheap titles available, many for less than a dollar. In July, Amazon said its Kindle store had 950,000 books on offer, 800,000 of which were $9.99 or less.
In the overall market, ebooks represented just 6.4% of total revenues for books published for the general public last year, according to the Association of American Publishers, whose membership includes the country's major publishing houses.
But that is changing. The group later released a report on the first five months of 2011, showing that ebook sales had risen to about a fifth of the overall pie during that span, soaring 160% while total hardcover and paperback sales were both down nearly 20%. Retail sales have taken a hit this year as the national Borders chain closed its stores after declaring bankruptcy.
The trend will accelerate as more readers buy dedicated ereaders as well as tablets and phones that can display the books, which is why this holiday shopping season is important. Analysts have long held up $100 as the line for general acceptance for such devices, and while Amazon's $199 Fire tablet has drawn much of the attention because of its matchup with the iPad, the company's two new kindles are $79 and $99 when purchased with advertising. Offerings from Barnes and Noble (See "Android lovers: don't overlook the Nook" and dedicated manufacturers like Aluratek have offerings slightly higher, near $130.
One disappointment to users so far has been the pricing of ebooks; Amazon currently lists many books where the Kindle version is more expensive than the print version, after it lost a battle with publishers to fix the pricing of its ebooks. Prices should come under pressure as competitors such as Apple and Google assert their own ebook offerings run on their native software.
So as ereaders become more popular, users will naturally look for alternative, cheaper ways to fill them with content. One sign of their popularity will be libraries, which monitor their users closely to make better use of tight budgets. Already 67.2% of libraries offer some access to ebooks, according to a report issued by the American Library Association in June. Local media reports mirror this trend - an October article in the Boston Globe said ebook borrowing rates are climbing quickly at area libraries, although print titles are still far more popular.
Another factor that could drive readers to the devices is exclusive content. J.K. Rowling's new "Pottermore" website, for example, will begin offering Harry Potter ebooks from 2012.
The remainder of 2011, with cheap ereaders and tablets on the market in plenty of time for the holiday shopping season, and ebooks more widely available then ever before, will show the strength of ebooks vs. print.

Many of us love to get lost in a good book. The digital era has taken reading to a completely different level with the introduction of ebook readers.  Today, the debate is ebooks vs books. We will dive into the differences between the two and find out which is your perfect match.  
 Amazon Kindle Touch - Ebooks vs Books 
An ebook is an electronic book that is viewed in digital form. These books can be read on an electronic book reader, like the new Kindle 4, a computer, tablet or even a cell phone. Ebooks have many advantages. In 2009, there were over 2 million free ebooks available for download. A typical ebook reader can hold about 2,000 digital books; it all depends on how much space is available.
Ebooks are certainly more convenient then books. Say you want to spend the day at the beach and you want to catch up on some reading. Would you rather lug four heavy books in your knapsack, or one light-weight ebook reader?
Ebook websites can easily translate a book into a different language for you, which makes reading easy for everyone. Though the ereader will cost you some money, it pays for itself in the long run.  
Books are not cheap. Free electronic books number in the thousands. Ebooks are more eco-friendly, which means it does not use paper and ink or even gas to transport them to the bookstore.
Ebooks are quite amazing but there are disadvantages as well. A printed book is always accessable. It never changes it's form. On the other-hand, some electronic books may not be readable without the proper software installed.  Another negative is that the visual appeal of a hard cover book is lost when viewed on an ebook reader. You cannot touch the book, look inside,or even appreciate it's binding.
A book will never shut down on you, it will always be open for business.  An ebook reader can malfunction from time to time. A book will not break and if it is damaged it can easily be replaced. With an ebook, it is only as good as the device you are reading it on.
Ebooks are quickly gaining in popularity. They are easy, quick, and convenient.  Books vs ebooks is a battle still being fought.  Stay tuned!
This poster from Newsweek summarizes the printed book versus the e-book debate. There are some really interesting stats in the graphic like:
1. Book authors, on an average, get $3.90 per sale of every printed book while the author royalty amount is $2.12 in the case of e-book downloads.
2. Average production cost for a $26 printed hardcover is $4.05 while the average cost for $9.99 e-book is around 50¢.
3. When people buy an e-reader like the Kindle or the Nooks, only 15% of them will actually stop purchasing printed books.

Are ebooks really greener than physical books? the debate is still going on and the final word hasn't been said yet. Eco-Libris is following the discussion and providing you with links to articles, reports and other sources of information that address this issue.
The links are brought to you in a chronological order. We hope you will find them useful!

Sales of ebooks in 2010: E-books once again increased significantly on an annual basis, up +164.4% for 2010 vs 2009 ($441.3M vs $166.9M). E-book sales represented 8.32% of the trade book market in 2010 vs 3.2% the previous year. (source: APP)
Forecast for e-books as a percentage of total books sold (source: David Houle):
2011: 15%
2012: 20%
2015: 40%
2020: 60%
2025: 75%
Earlier today, Amazon announced that Kindle books are now outselling hardcovers. Are we witnessing the dawn of the e-book?
That is the subject of today’s Web Faceoff, our weekly series where we pit two web apps against each other in a competition for supremacy. For this week’s episode though, we decided to compare two mediums for information: the printed word vs. the electronic book.
Books have been the cornerstone of our society for centuries, especially after the invention of the printing press — perhaps the most important invention in human history. Digital technology has begun to radically change the role of books in our society though. The e-book has exploded in popularity, especially since the launch of the AmazonKindle. The e-book’s portability (it takes up no space, can be read on multiple devices) has helped it gain momentum. The ability to interact with e-books digitally (e.g. digital notes, bookmarks, zoom) has even made hardcovers and paperbacks obsolete for some.
That’s why we want you, the Mashable readers, to weigh in on an important question: Which do you prefer: e-books or print books? Cast your vote in the poll below. Be sure to leave your rationale/arguments in our comments section!

Which do you prefer: e-books or print books? ( Poll Closed )
Total Votes: 2,143

Previously in my series on ebooks, we discussed a number of the best places to get ebooks for your Palm handheld, but we haven't yet discussed the advantage ebooks has over print books. While ebooks haven't been widely accepted yet, they continue to provide readers with a number of advantages over more traditional paper volumes.
The case for ebooks
In many circumstances, reading an ebook is far superior to reading a traditional paper book.
The wonderful thing about electronic text is that it takes up virtually no room, in both a physical and digital sense. If you have a storage card, you can walk around with at least a dozen books, and probably many more than that. Even if you don't have a storage card, you can still walk around with a fair collection of three to six books (again, depending on book size and available memory).
In many situations it's hard to carry even one book around with you. The storage abilities of most ebooks allow readers to carry a reasonable collection of reading materials and/or reference texts. Because you probably carry your handheld around with you everywhere anyway, the convenience factor increases nearly exponentially.
Because ebooks are digital, not only are they super-portable, but they also open up the possibility for some really useful features. For starters, since most ebooks are in some form of digital text file, you can search the text for words or phrases. This is helpful when you want to find a quote or another specific section of the book. This can cut minutes, if not hours, off of wild goose chases for particular passages.
Additionally, digital formats--assuming copy protection doesn't get in the way--can be duplicated forever without decay or any real expense. We'll dig deeper into the specifics of this issue later in the series, but if your ebook allows it, this duplication ability can make it possible for you to share books with your friends without ever having to actually give up one of your possessions.
This is good for publishers (and hopefully writers as well), who don't have to pay any production costs. This in turn should drive the prices down for the readers. While the digital nature of the ebook in theory raises the effectiveness of ebooks, it also brings up a few ideas that are interesting and worth perusing in this series.
Easy to read
The electronic format offers readers even more benefits over traditional paper books. eBooks can be read in a variety of lighting situations, and due to the backlighted screens that most Palm computers have, you can read an ebook in most low or no light situations, such as on the subway, during nighttime road trips, or in bed when you don't want to disturb your partner.

paper publishers seem to be in a kind of crisis at the moment. It can be debated as to what the causes are, but the end result is that many are cutting back on titles, and the titles they are publishing seem to be more of the tried and tested old reliables. This doesn't mean no publishers take gambles on new authors anymore (thank goodness that isn't so yet), but broadly speaking they are cutting back.
There are more writers now, and more excellent writers, than ever before. We are living in what I'm convinced will be seen as the early part of a renaissance. Not only are there more writers, but reading is incredibly popular now too. Despite the fear-inspiring doom-cries of certain politicians, the new generations seem to be the most literate in history. They consume vast amounts of verbal, visual, and textual culture, largely on the internet. And we of the older generations continue to relax with books too.
As fuel costs continue to rise (some projections expect it to rise to $300 to fill the family car in a few years -- not so surprising when I consider that my first car cost a tenth to fill that my current one does) and as raping the wild forests gives way to more expensive, but sustainable paper plantations, we can expect paper books to rise in price and decline in volume.
Many of the large software companies gleefully expected to make vast profits from ebooks, but were dismayed when these didn't materialise. Of course it isn't hard to see why, if you look with a clear eye at the ebook scene. There is massive consumption of free, unencumbered ebooks, but commercial ebooks with all their paranoid locks are hardly moving. I have bought a number of ebooks and have had the infuriating experience of being locked out of them. The locks are extremely difficult to negotiate in the first place, and then are tied to a particular computer. If your computer crashes and your operating system needs to be re-installed (all too common an experience) or if you simply upgrade your operating system or hardware then you become locked out of your commercial ebook. When this happens once it is very annoying. When it happens twice there is great reluctance to ever submit to that indignity again.
Most authors, musicians, and artists I've spoken to on this subject believe the line they've been fed, that in order for their work to be safe it has to be locked up, but this is wrong for a number of reasons.
  1. Think of your favorite writers. Did you initially buy them brand new, perhaps after liking the book covers or reading reviews? Or did a friend hand you a book and insist that you must read it? Or did you borrow it from a library first? Or did you begin by buying their works in second hand bookshops? If you borrow from a friend or library, or buy from a secondhand shop then the author receives no direct benefit, but of course the indirect benefit is undeniable. Free and cheap secondhand books are a terrific way to propagate works. Word of mouth is the best advertising. Baen Books publish a number of their books for free downloading. They find that it reinvigorates sales of other works by an author when one of their works is published free.
  2. The internet makes it possible to distribute books for effectively zero cost. This means that for the first time we creators can cut out the middlemen and go direct to the public. The locked books argument uses fear to convince creators that we still need the middlemen, and uses fear of readers... who are actually the writers' greatest allies. Publishers, if they adapt to the new environment, will still provide editing and promotional services, but I think -- I hope -- the shift in power might favor the small publishers who already have closer relationships with their writers.
  3. With such a large reading public now (and bearing in mind that many of the poorer parts of the world are about to enter the middle classes) the potential audience is exploding. We can make use of monetary return from just a fraction of the readers. It sounds counterintuitive, but it has worked in a number of cases. The people who can afford to, pay what they want, and those who can't afford, don't. You would think this would never work, but LiveJournal has exactly this system and it earns a very tidy income. The proliferation of websites sites that provide free content accompanied by a donation button is an interesting development along that line.
  4. With the world about to become awash in writers, those who make their voices heard by utilising the most efficient medium are the ones who will be remembered most.
  5. Locked ebooks are readable only within particular, circumscribed, often pathetically impractical viewer programs. Often (e.g. Microsoft Reader and Adobe pdf) they attempt to emulate paper books... but ebooks are not paper. They have vastly greater potential. Free ebooks (e.g. the tens of thousands available from Project Gutenberg) are not restricted in viewer software and can make use of wonderful viewers that can exploit the great advantages of electronic text.
I am hopelessly addicted to reading. I consume all in my path. If I have a preference I read science fact, science fiction, and romance, but I'll read anything. I have a couple of thousand paper books (they took up most of the back of the truck when I moved house last) and I've now been trying to replace as many as possible with electronic books. Currently I have about 3,000 electronic books (they can fit in my pocket on an ordinary DVD). Everywhere I go I take my little handheld Palm computer. It is my preferred reading medium, and every night I curl up in bed to read (and sometimes write) on my Palm computer. Modern, inexpensive handheld computers are neat little devices; smaller than a paperback, they can hold hundreds, or even thousands of books. Paper has become an annoyance for me that I avoid if possible.

What Makes a Book?

In essence, the two formats are very similar. Both allow you to do the most important thing - read a book. The text is the important thing, not the medium. Reading Sumerian legends on clay tablets can feel more "authentic", but doesn't necessarily enhance your understanding of the subject matter - just your experience.
Depending on the type of material you'd like to read / look at, however, one does have advantages over the other.

The "Classic" Paper Book.

Paper books offer multiple advantages:
  • They're easily obtainable (Bookstores are everywhere).
  • They're easily portable.
  • They don't normally cause significant eye-strain.
  • They're cheap.
Okay, that much was obvious. Specifically, some types of content paper books are better for are:
  • Textbooks (or any books which are generally large-format).
  • Picture / Photo books.
Another factor to bear in mind is that paper books don't need power to function. They can be read anywhere with sufficient light, and are perfect travelling companions for exactly this reason.
The obvious cons are:
  • Paper books are bulky and heavy. Carrying more than 2-3 around can become a chore.
  • You need a light source to read them - another thing that you'll probably carry around.
  • If you make notes in them, those notes are there to stay (Yes, even pencil. You can always see the imprints, even if you erase every last shred of graphite).

The eBook

eBooks offer the following obvious advantages (assuming you have an ebook reader):
  • They're easily readable. Most readers offer zoom functions, letter resizing, and so forth.
  • They're easily portable. You can carry multiple books on one device.
  • They're much more environmentally friendly. You don't have to kill a few trees for each book, and let's not even talk about the ink. Recycling only goes so far.
  • Note-taking is much more powerful, and the notes you write can be found and referenced quickly and easily. And they don't have to be permanent.
  • Lighting conditions essentially become meaningless. Many readers incorporate display lighting allowing you to read whenever and whereever you like.
eBooks are useless without a reader. There are a few on the market, such as Amazon's Kindle, Jinke's Hanlin reader series, Sony's eReader series, and a few others. These are mentioned because they incorporate a technology called e-ink, which resembles paper very closely, and eliminates most eye-strain issues.
Some types of books especially suited for a reader are:
  • Novels or non-fiction books without many pictures.
  • Web-sites with html links and cross references.
The disadvantages of ebooks generally stem from the hardware you're reading them on. If it's a computer, you've got the normal computer problems which detract from your reading pleasure:
  • Eye strain and RSI. Long periods spent in front of a computer are healthy for nobody.
  • Power. Your average laptop has 4-6 hours of battery life.
  • Portability. Why lug a laptop around if you can simply carry a book?
The cons of the reader devices are a little more subtle:
  • You still have battery life to worry about.
  • Nasty software bugs in the reader can cause it to freeze up.
  • They're not very robust. If you spill <insert beverage of choice> on them, chances are that's the end of your reader. Not to mention scratches, dropping them, and so on.
In general, ebooks suffer from other cons as well:
  • They're not readily available, and format wars are making the decision to buy a reader very difficult. Will you go for the Amazon one, and buy books (only) there? Or the Sony?
  • The pricing model hasn't been worked out yet, causing some major discrepancies.