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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Are Books Going The Way Of The Dinosaur? (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Are Books Going The Way Of The Dinosaur?
Zoot
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I've never really been into the whole e-book thing, maybe because right now the e-reader technology is not up to scratch, and I have a certain emotional attachment to the real thing anyhow. Blame it on my age. I'm guessing the majority of you feel the same.

But what of the next generation, and the one after that? They will surely scoff at us old fogies for lugging around those great paper bricks everywhere, and I must admit there is a certain attraction to being able to carry my whole bookcase around in my pocket as most of us do with our record collections these days, but then I look at the situation with the big record companies at the moment and wonder how the publishing industry will cope with piracy, or whether it will be negligible compared to the profits once the technology is standardized and it goes mainstream like the Mp3.

What do you lot think?

[This message has been edited by Zoot (edited January 31, 2007).]

[This message has been edited by Zoot (edited January 31, 2007).]


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Avatar300
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Books will be around at least until they invent an ebook reader that's comfortable to take into the bathroom.
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Survivor
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Aaand we're done here

Seriously, I don't see that the particular printing process is that important a thing. How long has it been since anyone ever actually printed books? And did anyone even notice the change? I think that in the future books will change somewhat, but some things will remain the same.

Some people definitely prefer electronic books, because you can read them on a computer screen (the way you write, neh?) Some people will always prefer paper, and I'll let them explain the attraction. As long as there are people out there willing to pay a couple of bucks extra for the hardcopy (or unwilling to shell out extra for an e-reader, if you look at it that way), they'll always be available.

Heck, if nothing else, you're doing your part to contribute to carbon draw-down and alliviate global warming. Um, just so long as you don't burn your books, that is


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RMatthewWare
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I am a lot more fond of paper books. They're much more portable, they don't crash, and they don't bother my eyes as much as a computer screen (I have to keep turning down the brightness here).

I think in time there will be a sort of iPod for books that will work for a lot of people, but books have been around for 400 years, and I don't see them disappearing. But I do see publishing houses trying to make eBooks more mainstream because they will be much cheaper to sell.


Matt


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Leigh
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Reading on a computer screen is easy, but what if you have a desktop and not a laptop which doesn't allow you to lie down comfortably and read like you could with a book?

I'd prefer to read stories as books. I'm part the generation that should consider books a thing of past, I'm 20 btw, but I don't really see the fuss of e-books at the moment as not everyone has a credit card or debit card that allows the purchase of them. I'm good for about an hour staring at a screen, but then I get tired and my eyes get hazy. I'd much rather pay $40 AUD for a hard cover book then pay $5 AUD for an e-book that would go missing if your computer crashed. At least I'd still have the book if my computer crashed.


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RMatthewWare
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After the apocalypse, all we'll have is books anyway. Just make sure you don't break your eye glasses when you're the last man/woman on earth.

Matt


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Robert Nowall
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The bookstore I was in must have had at least a hundred thousand of these dinosaurs. It seems to be thriving.

Reading from a computer screen is fine for awhile, but I get cramped and uncomfortable as that same while whiles away...and beside, it's utterly dependent on electricity. If the power goes out, I can take a book out into the sunlight and read it at least until the sun goes down.

So e-books will need a radically different design to be a truly practical alternative to books.


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Zoot
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Luddite ALERT!!!

Of course we laugh it off, hardcopy books have been around for thousands of years, and they will be around for many years to come. But they WILL be superseded by technology, no doubt there will be e-readers you can take in the bath just like the shower radio, and suped up batteries that will outlast a power cut.

I guess so long as there's literature who cares what medium its on, right? I just wondered what damage illegal file sharing software will do to the market if any. Maybe those problems are a little too far in the future to be worrying about.

As for the apocalypse, we'll all be too busy fighting evil robot monkeys to read


<EDIT> spelling the word literature - which is worrying.

[This message has been edited by Zoot (edited February 01, 2007).]


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Ray
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The only advantage a physical book has over an e-book (and it's a big one) is that you can close it and not have a problem finding your spot when you open it again, whether by bookmarks, dog-ear the page, or lying it face down. Once e-books all come with a tool that lets you jump to the spot you were last at, the trees can breathe easier.
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RMatthewWare
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Anything that is shared electronically can be pirated. Even with encryption software that can be broke. That may be a reason booksellers will be reluctant to go to the e-book format. I think a lot of small presses will go e-book though to save on price.

I would like to think that most readers are honest enough not to pirate material, especially when you can get books for free from the library.

I think books will go like VHS/DVD, or cassette/CD. More publishers will offer both formats, paper book and e-book, so people have the choice. I'm the kind of guy that likes to have paper books on my shelves. Maybe it's to brag that I have a lot of books. A lot of other people will prefer e-books because they can get it cheaper, read it once, and not worry about it again.

I remember several years ago a company selling an e-book reader. It was a sort of hand held device that would display the text of the book on a screen about the size of a regular book. You would plug it in the phone line and download the book you wanted. The problems with it were these: expensive, fragile, need for battery, no safeguard in the event the thing crashed or was broken.

But I do see publishers giving you the choice, like Christine's book that will be published in both paper and e-book format.

Matt


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rstegman
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I read SCIENCE NEWS regularly. Every six months or so, they have articles about electronic inks where the molecule has two colors. Apply one charge and the dark side will show. Apply a different charge and the light side would show. Remove the charge and they remain where they were placed.

The "paper" would be more like plastic sheets, and at the binding, would be the electronics that would allow you to erase and re-print the book according to whatever text document you might have available to load.

While they have to perfect this technology, this is likely how E-books will go. One would only need a few binders to read hundreds of books.


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Robert Nowall
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C. M. Kornbluth described something like that as a filip in "The Little Black Bag."

It might be useful...but there are certain refinements of technique that would have to be addressed. Power source. Illumination---can you read it without light shining on it? How do you turn to page fifty if you're on page four hundred and fifty?

Ah, well...if I could make an idea like that work, I'd be typing this in from my palatial mansionn on my vast estate. We writers can dope out the implications of a gadget, but can't do much of the nitty and the gritty that would make it work.


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Zero
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I don't think books will be replaced by e-books any faster than cars will be completely replaced by public transportation, and by that I mean it'll never happen.

I personally hate the strain of reading a book on my computer, I'd much rather grab a hard copy and flip the pages the old fashioned way. Much more manageable to hold a book on my bed, on in my hot tub than a laptop, and more portable too.


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franc li
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I met someone the other day who had 5,000 books, mostly sci-fi fantasy paperbacks. I mean, my mother-in-law has 17,000, but she's my mother-in-law and she has illusions of composing a great library. This other person was much younger than me, and she said on a good day she reads 6 books. Well, the good news is someone is still hungry for new stories, even if they all tend toward being the same type of story so I thought you folks who write spec fic might like to hear that.

And whenever the discussion about electronic something making "analog" stuff obsolete comes up, I just point to the soundtrack of The Princess Bride, which was done entirely on synthesizers. I mean, real photography may go back to being something you have to buy at a special shop instead of being in every grocery store, but it's never going to disappear completely. It's like how there are still matches even though we have butane lighters and the electric type in cars. Heck, I just saw my striking flint while I was looking for something else in the basement.


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BruceWayne1
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In America no one needs to go out and kill a deer to eat, yet millions of people do it. no one needs to go to the mall when they can go online and get anything, yet they do it. Even when all 'books' are available online or electronically (orwhatever) people will still buy and read books for generations to come. especially non fiction books. ever try to highlight your e-bible (or other self-help or how to book) and flip through it to find your place or favorite passages? of course it can be done but at what time-cost.

Even when they fix all the 'problems' with e-books it will takes a generation or two after that to switch. this is not like cd vs. records. The rapid disemination of information via books literally built our civilivation. it will not be in our lifetimes that books go the way of the 8-track.


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RMatthewWare
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I would like to see sites like Amazon kill Barnes and Nobles and Borders. Then maybe we'll see better books and the little guy will be able to compete a little better. I love the comment section on Amazon. You see the official review for the book, then you can see if people thought it sucked or not.

Matt


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Avatar300
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quote:
I would like to see sites like Amazon kill Barnes and Nobles and Borders. Then maybe we'll see better books and the little guy will be able to compete a little better.

Your confusing thesis intrigues me. Tell me more.


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Robert Nowall
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Barnes & Noble and Borders run their own sites---if they kill off Amazon.com, they'd only take their place.

Besides, anybody who thinks the major chains are keeping the books from the customers either (a) has never set foot in a major-chain bookstore, or (b) is delusional.

(I stopped counting my SF paperback books around two thousand about, oh, geez, twenty years ago---and they were the only ones I kept a count on. My aggregate total of all books (SF and otherwise, hardcover and paperback), magazines (also SF and otherwise), and such must exceed ten thousand easy---it's long since filled all my available shelf space. (Yes, I looked up the spelling of "aggregate."))


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hoptoad
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No.
Books are not going the way of the dinosaur.

Trust me, I'm from the future.


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Avatar300
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Got any good stock picks?
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kmckendry
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Yes and no.

No, if you consider that we still have some dinosaurs today. Yes, if you think a book must have front and back covers with paper pages in between.

I listen to books more than I actually read books lately. There is a different power found in an audio version of a book. I say 'different' because the written form is powerful, it just that there is something about the spoken word.

I consider the audiobook and the written book to be books. (Does that make sense?)

I listened to Ender's game last year. At the end of the audibook, Orson Scott Card explains about the movie plans for the book. He explains how, "I loved the book, it'd make a great movie." is not really a compliment. Then, toward the end of his commentary, he notes that you have just experienced the book the way it was meant to be experienced. I took it to mean that spoken word is how books, particularly books in story form, are meant to be enjoyed.

I think that the paper form could see a decline, but that the audio version will cover the reduction and then some.

I see that I'm rambling. I'll stop now.

Keith

[This message has been edited by kmckendry (edited February 07, 2007).]


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Survivor
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Sell. Everything that isn't a necessary good in hand, sell. Soon.

Not that it makes a big difference. In a decade, the entire concept of money will be so yesterday

As for me, I'm rather better at maintaining computers than paper, though I like both. I prefer ebooks because I like reading while sitting upright and looking straight ahead, and paper books are not ideal for this because they must be held up and lit and handled at every page turn. I've never found another position that is ideal for reading. Curling up or lying down tend to make me inattentive and sleepy, besides which it's still quite a hassle to hold the book in position and all.


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Pyre Dynasty
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I wonder how the emergence of E-Ink will change the situation, you don't get the eye strain that comes from looking at a computer all day. (which is only slightly more than looking at black and white all day.)

As to the original question, are books going the way of the dinosaurs? yes, in that dinosaurs are incredibly interesting and inspiring.


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Tara
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I cannot imagine reading an entire book on a computer screen, even on a laptop. But if it saved the trees.... ehh.
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Survivor
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I think that most computers use enough energy to kill a book's worth of a tree in the time it takes to read a book...depending on how fast you read
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Zero
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Trees aren't going the way of the dinosaur.

And if they were then all you'd have to do is make sure that the forests were owned. Then the problem would be solved. (Whoever had the property rights would have incentive to protect their crop.)

That's why african elephants are going extinct for their ivory and cows are not going extinct for their beef (which is, incidentally, in even greater demand.)

The cows are owned and therefore protected, the elephants are not owned and therefore vulnerable.

The same principle could be applied to the trees.

[This message has been edited by Zero (edited February 17, 2007).]


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Rommel Fenrir Wolf II
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You must remember that elephants reproduce a lot slower than cows or trees. And in a way the elephants are owned by the African Park Serves but the recourses to watch all of them are too little.
Trees that are used to make paper are usually grown on tree farms then harvested after 20 years and they are almost all pine.
Rommel Fenrir Wolf II

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Zero
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The point is if you own the trees for harvesting of paper you have a huge incentive to not over mine them. If you don't own them and your business does as well as the amount of paper you can harvest, then you'll harvest all you can with absolutely no incentive to slow your pace. If the trees aren't owned and you don't harvest them someone else will. When they're all dead the consequences are shared equally. To the victor the spoils. Human behavior is rational.
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Robert Nowall
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If logging operations treated their operations like farms, where they had to replant for the next harvest fifty or a hundred years away---well, there wouldn't be a problem. Twenty years is the cycle for trees-for-paper, then? I know pine trees are fast growers. We had one scrub pine in our backyard grow to about, oh, almost a hundred feet in ten years. (Lightning got it.)

Trees do come back, in time. I gather in New England, after the farms went away, the trees came back enough that the possibility of resuming logging in many areas has been debated. (I don't know what was decided, though.)


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Zero
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Yeah. Oh and Survivor, I don't think energy consumption kills trees. Unless in your city the electric plant runs off of tree burning . These days most of the rest of us use coal.
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Rommel Fenrir Wolf II
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Coal is the most used recourses to produce electricity. Most of the electric plants not only in America but all over the world burn coal. Me I favor nuclear power plants. And I only hope that the “Next Generation” nuclear power plants will be permitted to be built. It solves both problems. It also solves the problem of Oil because the “Next Generation” nuclear power plants are designed to produce Hydrogen that can be used to power cars, etc.
Rommel Fenrir Wolf II

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Survivor
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Realistically, most books are printed on recycled material nowdays, so it isn't like they're killing trees either.

I'd like to get my books printed on a nice linen stock anyway

Ooo, how about hand brushed on silk scrolls?


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Zero
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I was thinking of getting mine sewed onto the backs of rhino carcasses with thread made from panda intestines.

[This message has been edited by Zero (edited February 18, 2007).]


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Hunter
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Like RMatthewWare, I think more books will be offered in multiple formats. I work at a library that offers many books electronically. Sometimes the only available format is the e-book, but luckily, I have not had a student yet have to read an entire book online. One chapter is usually all that is assigned.

But just so you know, the 'young people' don't care for extensive online reading. Students print out the reading at their expense rather than read it off the screen.

Another industry is already dealing with the dieing of a format. A recent article in Rollingstone compared album sales from Jan. 1997 (55 million), Jan. 2002 (50 million), and Jan. 2007 (34 million). Now it didn't point the finger at downloaded music as the culprit for low sales, but it's the pink elephant in the room. The I-pod made putting A LOT of music on a small device easy. Once the publishing industry finds a way to create an electronic package that's easy to read and store books on, print runs will diminish even more.

However, until that gadget is created, books are here to stay.

[This message has been edited by Hunter (edited February 18, 2007).]


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dee_boncci
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For me, I would switch to audio books long before I ever considered abandoning paper books for electronic reading. eBooks - blech! A well done audio book I find quite enjoyable. They sort of remind me of the old radio shows I used to listen to on WBBM out of Chicago when I was a kid. There weren't many such shows left by then, but you could still catch "Mystery Theater", reruns of "The Shadow", and the like, late at night on Fridays and Saturdays.
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rstegman
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you can listen to a good number of the old radio programs at

http://www.otr.com/index.shtml

AS to the question about the electronic ink, you would still have all the pages of the book. YOu would just change the text on the pages when you change books. You might buy a 300 page volumn. Then you would buy the book to be loaded in. Whe you finish reading a book, you plug in and change the text, and then read another book.
As long as the pages don't get dog-eared, you can keep using the same volumn for every book, as long as you have enough pages. There might, of course, be a way to shift the text when the pages are too long. Or, one might get a 150 page volumn and change the pages when you get to that page, so they run from 150 to 300.
The idea, though, is that you would have the book in your hand, to read whereever you would read a normal book, but could change the story as needed or at will.


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Robert Nowall
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There are a number of practical considerations that will have to be addressed before such a book is on the market. Dog-eared pages would be one---if you're one of those who can't help doing that, what will you do if you can't?

How about those barbarians who underline things? What are their options?

Will you have adjustable type sizes, for those hard-of-vision?

Modern computers aren't exactly what I would call "durable"---at least not as durable as a printed book. What level of durability is acceptable?

Will there be audio or other sensory enhancements?

What about cost? What will it take to buy one of these, and how much will the downloaded volumes be?

How about competing formats and garbled text?

Those are just a few that come up off the top of my head. Doubtless there are many more...


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franc li
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quote:
Unless in your city the electric plant runs off of tree burning

Actually, I think that city is powered by hydroelectric to a large degree, though I guess there is a coal burning supplement generator. So instead of trees or dinosaurs or dinosaur trees that shoot bees out of their mouths, the cost of Survivor's electricity is the native fish population. Fortunately, the native fish are being replaced by bottom feeders that thrive in reservoir conditions and which people refuse to eat. So maybe it's made the ecosystem kinder and gentler.


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Zero
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Speaking of making the ecosystem kinder and gentler, did you know that recycling actually reduces the population trees?
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Murphy7
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Not for me, anyway. Though I enjoy the computer, there is nothing that compares with a comfy chair, a good book, great light and all the trappings of reading a book. The tactile quality of the paper, the scent of old books being revisted, the sound of the page turning, the heft of the book in your hand. No, I will always LOVE books.
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franc li
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Reduces the population of trees in the same way vegetarianism would reduce the population of cows, or prohibition would reduce the population of grain? (I heard somewhere that 40% of the grain grown in America is turned into fermented beverages. It sounds outrageously high, but I imagine it's supposed to.)
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Zero
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Yeah. By reducing the demand, the supply is reduced. If people demand less papers then corporations will only upkeep and maintain smaller forests.
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hoptoad
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quote:

Speaking of making the ecosystem kinder and gentler, did you know that recycling actually reduces the population trees?

that's a specious and USA-centric generalisation


I happen to live in a place that harvests old growth and native forest for paper production. Recycling certainly doesn't decrease the tree 'population' numerically here.

and this is in no way the only place that is doing this

most tree plantations are monocultures lacking species diversity so although the number of trees rises per sq kilometre, biodiversity reduces.


like I said

monocular
and
insular
perspective


don't forget: reduce, reuse, recycle


Edited to remove clearly emotive words.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited February 22, 2007).]


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RMatthewWare
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Don't bash on Zero until you do your research. He may be right. "Emotion clouds everything."

Matt


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hoptoad
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quote:

Don't bash on Zero until you do your research. He may be right. "Emotion clouds everything."

not disputing the simple, obvious numerical fact as it relates to trees alone in monoculture plantations in developed nations . You know, the plantations that are replacing native forests.

but thanks for the advice roy

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited February 22, 2007).]


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RMatthewWare
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This is how it could work. Apple is coming out with a new iPhone that will have a large, bright display. It will also have the option of zooming in on text, so you can read things easier. You can turn it sideways to give yourself a wide viewing area. And it has full internet capabilities.

With this format it would be simple to download an e-book and read it right on the phone. I still love paper books, but if I was at an airport, or the DMV, or anywhere I was bored and didn't have a book with me, or where a book would be too bulky, I could whip out my phone, download a book, and read it right there. Battery life is the only question, the iPhone has a 5 hour battery for phone and web browsing, but that would be fine for only needing to pass a few hours.

So, I think with this kind of technology an e-book could find a good format. I think I'll still always prefer the standard paper book, but I feel myself closer and closer to buying Christine's e-book.

Matt


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RMatthewWare
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Hoptoad, why are you consistently rude? Your tone seems to emit hostility on a regular basis. And you know I go by Matt, as I always sign my posts "Matt" and have only mentioned my first name once. You should tone it down a little. We're not here to fight.

Matt


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hoptoad
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I'm just teasing you matt.

That's what the smilies were for.


BTW:

WOW I never considered myself as 'consistently' rude or hostile, especially not on a 'regular basis'. I don't know how to fix that. As I usually try to be the opposite.

Perhaps you can email me some examples of where, in your opinion, I went wrong.

andrew.mcgown@rtbg.tas.gov.au

I agree, the above comments were designed to make zero think about the validity and usefulness of broad generalisations. Perhaps I should remove the clearly emotive bits.

Will do.

[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited February 22, 2007).]


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RMatthewWare
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Okay, maybe consistently was the wrong word. It took me five minutes to figure out how to spell it, so I stuck with it.

Some of the comments seemed brash, but I see that was not your intention. They got me a little hot under the collar, but you obviously didn't mean for them to.

So, I'm sorry for attacking you. Let's all go back to writing and being friends.

Matt

PS: My spell check says 'okay' should be spelled 'tokay'. Isn't that some kind of drink? I don't know.


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franc li
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I do think zero was being facetious. But looking back over things, that quip was just the tip of the iceberg. I'm with hoptoad. At least, the edited version of hoptoad that I'm able to read at this stage in the game.
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