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True here, that's for sure.
Rebecca McMillan's profile photoBernard Yu's profile photo
NB: I'm not the photographer. A friend posted this to my FB wall. Not sure whom to credit.
Among many other problems, over 95% of the books on my shelf aren't available as ebooks in any format.
Personally, I'd miss olfactory and tactile pleasure of books. I'd also miss the yellowed pages and coarse texture of older books.

For me, ebooks are a reasonable substitute for periodicals, newspapers and fiction, but not for non-fiction that requires close reading and note-taking. I'll get there eventually I suppose, but I'm definitely not there yet.
Given the amount of material I need to digest in the coming year, I should probably make the transition now. Somehow, my mental filing system for what I read on screen isn't as accurate or complete as that which I read in books or on paper. My visual cuing system hasn't transferred to the computer yet, it seems.
+Steven Sudit yes it will, and I fully intend on contributing to that in the future. :)

+Rebecca McMillan There are a lot of reasons for that. First, digital typography still isn't anywhere close to print typography. And I'm not just talking about fonts and subpixel rendering. The mainstream text rendering engines are still abysmal at things such as kerning and word spacing.
Second, most ebook readers themselves are terribly at typography, it seems to me that essentially none of then care about properly proportional text blocks. Until relatively recently orphan and widow management was abysmal (pages that begin with only 1 or two lines, and paragraph ends that end with one or two words), now it is merely mediocre. Almost none of them even care about properly proportioned pages, whitespace, or even readable measures. Finally, despite our wonderful neuroplasticity, our minds think about the world in predominantly spacial terms. When you're trying to look for a passage in a book, you probably know it's "somewhere near the bottom of the page" "somewhere around the middle third." This sort of positional fidelity is almost completely lost in digital form.

At the moment, most ebooks are to publishing what the typewriter is to offset printing. While this is fine with things like are supposed to be read and discarded, digital is supposed to be a set forward, not backwards. Some digital books are doing this: the iPad app for T.S. Elliot's The Waste Land ( and The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (, for instance. Also, +IDEO's Nelson, Coupland and Alice ( present an amazing picture of what digital books could be. When we move from physical to digital, we're supposed to gain fidelity, current ebooks lose fidelity in a really bad way. At least, I'd like to be able to sketch in my margin notes.
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