ebooks & mp3s

i currently have a huge wishlist of books i would like to read/purchase. and always more cds/records.
but when i look around my room i almost faint. i have tons of stuff – way way WAY too much stuff as it is. mostly the 5000+ records and books weigh heavy on the virtual scale…
my next time moving house will be a bloody nightmare. just the thought of it makes me cringe.

thats why recently i have been contemplating going all digital? why not start buying all books in the form of ebooks and all music as mp3s?
ecological reasons also makes me want to make this move.
books are printed on dead trees. cds are produced on smelly, non-biodigradable plastics. vinyl records are based on oil [just think, my record habit justifying the war in iraq?].
so why don’t i do it? why don’t i go digital?

the first problem – still! – is availability. not all books and certainly not all music is available in digital form – yet.
as an example in music right now i am interested in the new si begg album [available @ bleep.com!] and an album by the german band munk on gomma rec. [nope! or at least i have not found it yet]. it seems that often smaller bands are still unavailable. and same goes for older releases – in tendency its easier to find the newer releases in digitalised form.
and two examples in books: mindhacks, o’reilly, is available as an ebook, you even get to download chapters of the book in pdf form to preview. very cool.
but i also would like to read edward abby’s the monkey wrench gang, and i can’t seem to find that as an ebook.

the second problem: my oldschool habits. i don’t mind paying quite a price for a cd but having to pay almost as much for a mp3 download somehow still feels odd. then there is the tactile experience. for me its still very different to listen to a record while holding its album cover in my hand than to have it as a mp3 download. this, i am sure will change over time, i mean i did get used to the switch from the lovely 12″x12″ album covers to those small ass, glossy cd booklets in those awful cases. although i admit, i still prefer vinyl albums.
but with books this is even more pronounced. to hold a book in my hands, to sometimes almost carress it, to turn its pages, still feels so very different than to read a book onscreen. i have by now read a few ebooks. but somehow, and this is gonna sound odd, i am better able to form a “relationship” to a classic book than to an ebook. and print outs still use dead trees, so no use there. now, having said that, an ebook about tech stuff can be a very cool thing digitally, you get acces to all the cool ‘puter features like search functions and you can copy/paste text into other applications. so that really works. but a novel… hmmm.

3rd problem: hardware. i think cool hardware could help. i have read a cory doctorow novel on my clie. a royal pain in the ass that was! the bookmarks are an okay feature, but i still found it quite hard to get into the book somehow.
awhile ago i saw a interesting ebook gadget produced in japan. that could be cool. but it still depends on how it is done. sometimes it comes down to the details.
i have similar issues with mp3 players. i have often stated that i am really dissapointed with the iPod, with its artificially imposed technical limitations, its iTunes dependency, its lame and meager display, its artifically blocked features, that i know will get introduced next season, so another “generation” of iPod can be sold. but the other mp3players have not convinced me either. my solution for now has been a mp3 capable cd player by iRiver, that actually works quite nicely for me. i can group my mp3s thematically and 700MB is still alot of mp3s.
a cool all-in-one gadget is what i wait for in hardware, mobile phone, external harddisk, pda, camera, mp3player, videoplayer. i know it can be done. and then maybe a nice tactile ebook reader.

maybe my switch to digital will have to be a gradual process. i admit that alot of it are just my personal limitations, my habits and cranky old ways. there is hope that a next generation of hardware will help even me along in the switch. and a next generation will be much more at ease to read and play all digital.

About Jan Zuppinger

Jan Zuppinger has been writing this blog since 2002. He likes to grow vegetables. He likes to eat them too. He has opinions on everything, but sadly no one cares. Jan Zuppinger is not joking, just joking, he is joking, just joking, he's not joking. *click.