Is the future of the book digital?

Arno Enslin's picture

http://www.netzpolitik.org/2009/die-zukunft-des-buches-ist-digital/

What do you think – is the future of the book digital? Will "e-book-displayers" replace printed books?

Arno Enslin's picture

I should have used the board search instead of starting a new topic.

blank's picture

Yep. That horse is quite dead around here.

david h's picture

...the future of the digital booked?

bowerbird's picture

arno, did you type that post on your selectric?

here's the newest scoop:
> http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1910868

-bowerbird

BlueStreak's picture

For those who missed it, more Kindle humor from the AIGA Make|Think National Design Conference last week...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJwyBmu-O-o

DanNisbet's picture

I have a tough time seeing eBooks completely take over- but then again, there's something about the printed page that seems to hold my attention better. Might not be the same for everyone though...

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

BlueStreak, that was hilarious! Thanks. :-)

Arno Enslin's picture

Thanks, BlueStreak! Good pro-book-agitprop. The latest argument, that I had to dry up, is the pollution through the production of paper. But if all people destroy the kindle shit …

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

The latest argument, that I had to dry up, is the pollution through the production of paper.

Arno, tell 'em that discarded computers also create pollution. And the ones that are plugged in consume electricity, and if the electricity comes from consuming carbon, it's contributing to global warming. :-)

Richard Fink's picture

>Yep. That horse is quite dead around here.

James, I know what you mean, but I disagree. This is one of those meta-topics that seems to move under our feet.
Even basic words like "book" that we use to discuss the issue are undergoing subtle changes in meaning.
That's my take, anyway. Better to let it start fresh yet again, than append to the existing.
And then we can reference the latest amusing videos!
Maybe we can start giving "digital book" threads sequential numbers. Or just schedule one for every month. ;)

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

...if the electricity comes from consuming carbon...

carbon = coal (my bad)

Arno Enslin's picture

With regard to the pollution through the production of the paper used for books, my arguments are these:

1. The production of paper needs much energy and water, but most of the paper is used for magazines, newspapers, toilet products and in offices. That’s just an assumption. It should be clarified.

2. The production of computer controlled devices also needs energy. Additionally it needs unrenewable resources. The mining of some of these resources needs water. Additionally the regions, in which the biggest deposits exist, are politically instabil. I am talking about the raw material Coltan and oil (for the plastics).

3. Paper can be easier recycled than computer devices.

4. a) You never buy a computer device for the eternity. (This also means, that it is harder for the user of ebook devices to get a personal relationship to the ebook device.)

b) For optimal legibility of different kinds/genres of literature you probably need more than one device. (Think about the meaning of the page margins in a book.)

How often do pure ebook readers have to buy new devices?

5. Electrosmog because of wireless connections (download of ebooks).

6. The operation of an ebook device needs energy.

7. The servers, on which the ebooks are stored, need energy.

-------------------

And I have another good argument for printed books:

You can comment the text in a much more immediate way. A graphic tablet or a keyboard is less immediate than a pencil.

Rob O. Font's picture

> Is the future of the book digital?
>...the future of the digital booked?
I think we book digitally now, like hotels and car rentals, and sometime in the future more people will recognize how many books are already digital. I agree that it's moving from over our feet, I don't envisage the digital coffee table book anymore, more people can see a screen. There is also the misapprehension, I think, that the digital book is mostly text, perhaps rightly brought on by the ample evidence of specialized devices for presentation of mostly digital books of text. This too, @fontface will change I think, right now they are all in Times on the web. Has anyone here read a whole book on the web?

Arno>And I have another good argument for printed books:

But your first, environmentally-based argument is flawed, in my opinion, in a basic way. Nearly all printed books start as digital books. The number of readers who buy books and do not already own and plan to continue the use of their computer, is tiny and shrinking. So, if nearly all books start digital on computers, and some of them go directly to people's existing general-purpose computers, or even to specialized computers for reading, removing the printing and recycling process, is not bad, is it?

This is not to say all printed books are bad, but if the reader wants them digitally, and they are not available except in print, isn't that bad?

Cheers!

Arno Enslin's picture

David

In my opinion it is easier to find non environment arguments against the ebook devices. Ebook devices are not as legible as printed books and I doubt, that they will be in the coming 20 years. I can imagine, that the problem of the low resolution will be solved, but I doubt, that the problem with the size will be solved then. The margins of the pages have a function. If they are too big, your impression of the contrast between text and background is different, at least I assume, that it is.

"The number of readers who buy books and do not already own and plan to continue the use of their computer, is tiny and shrinking."

But actually you need a special device because of the backlight (?) of TFT and the extremely low resolution. And a computer is not as easy to handle and hold as a printed book in the same size.

„This is not to say all printed books are bad, but if the reader wants them digitally, and they are not available except in print, isn’t that bad?“

The reader? I don’t know, which kinds of paper you can buy in the office shops of Massachusettes, but in Germany you can decide between high bright and low quality recycling paper only. If you want to have a natural paper, you have a problem. Why? As more white as better it is. That’s the way, the reader buys his paper on one of his non eco days. On the other days he buys the recycling paper. (You can order natural colored paper online. There is one semi good German online paper shop.) I am talking about the paper, that people buy for their laser and inkjet prints. Most readers think, that the content of a text is complicated, if they don’t understand it. They never think, that the typography or the printing quality are the reason. So it is not enough to trust in the market. Do you mean, that those things are the best, which are sold the most? No. That’s not the way, in which capitalism works, at least not the capitalism of these days.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Has anyone here read a whole book on the web?

Yes, most recently just a couple of weeks ago. Funny thing is, I even own a printed copy of the same book, but it hasn't been unpacked yet.

http://www.mit.edu/hacker/hacker.html
Admittedly it's a short book, maybe 100 pages in printed form? I also wouldn't have read the whole thing online if it had been in Arial or Times.

Cheers,

T

Richard Fink's picture

@Arno Enslin

"Ebook devices are not as legible as printed books and I doubt, that they will be in the coming 20 years."

Wow, Arno. What have you been looking at?
I own an iRex 1000 E-Reader and use it all the time.
Usually the typesetting stinks because the books/files/e-books or whatever you want to call 'em are machine-generated from raw ascii to pdf but the glyphs are as clear and sharp as print.
Sorry, you're just plain wrong on this. And in 2010, many new devices with improved technology and lower price points are coming.
Perhaps you're basing this statement on something you've seen in the past. But it's long-gone, I assure you.
Those babies are gonna fly off the shelves. Better book one early.

Rich

Arno Enslin's picture

Richard

"[…] but the glyphs are as clear and sharp as print."

If this would be true, the very most stuff, posted on Typophile, would be waffle. The iRex 1000 has a relative resolution of 160 dpi. I have not hold the iRex 1000 in my hands, but I doubt, that it can preserve the fineness of the very most typefaces, which are designed for body text (sizes), with such a low resolution; doesn’t it need typefaces, which are optimized for it? Can all existing body text typefaces be optimized for it? And if, are those optimized typefaces still the same typefaces with regard to the design, or are they new typefaces? And if they are new with regard to the design, why do some type designers invest years in the fineness of the curves of their typefaces? Do they invest the time for improving the beauty or for improving the legibility. Or are beauty and functionality ever the two sides of the same medaillion?

I am not an enemy of technology. Ebook devices have big advantages in comparison to books. There may be people like you, for that ebook devices already are useful. But for the case, that they replace books, before they are on the same level of legibility and feeling, and I am forced to buy one, because books don’t exist anymore, I solemny promise, that I will not pay for ebooks, as long as I can get illegal copies. And for sure I don’t let force me from the industry, to make me to a test object. If an ebook device is good as a hammer and if it does not cost much more than a hammer, then I will buy one and then I am willing to pay a price, that is comparable to the price of a printed book.

I hope, that the European Union will not forbid books. We are already loosing the classic light bulbs; no, not for the environment, but for the wallets of the lightning industry. And the whole world wants to build new nuclear power stations for the environment. CO2 beats radioactive contamination. It is absurd. Maybe the strategy of our "democracies" is, to make books too unlegible and too expensive for the "electors". And even if one device would cost 100 Euro, it is much more than the price for the taste of reading in form of a paperback. So the poor ones can be kept stupid. And our governments can continue to castrate democracy in the fight against the enemies of democracy.

However, I don’t make books, but I just would miss them. And how much are 20 years?

Rob O. Font's picture

>I will not pay for ebooks, as long as I can get illegal copies.

So, if a book is only available in electronic form, you feel the right to steal it is yours?

>And our governments can continue to castrate democracy in the fight against the enemies of democracy.

Which is more democratic? electronic media, or print media?

Cheers!

Arno Enslin's picture

David

Which is more democratic? electronic media, or print media?

Which is more democratic? A piece of soap or a bone? Things cannot be democratic, but humans. People can be better controlled in the computer world. And people better can attract attention in the computer world. All in all I doubt, that computers have made the world better. But it is not the fault of the computers, although I don’t want to imagine, what dictators like Hitler, Stalin or Mao had made with them. Maybe I should.

So, if a book is only available in electronic form, you feel the right to steal it is yours?

That’s dependent on the reason for the non-existence of a printed version and it is dependent on, who the publisher is. But aren’t there enough EULA discussions on this forum? I am relatively bored of them. And what do you expect from a socialist? What’s with lending libraries for example? But a discussion about licenses would probably end in quarrel. I only say, what I would do, if the book industry is unable, to learn from the mistakes of the music industry: I would not pity them.

blank's picture

Arno, are you taking the piss? Or are you just typing out these long rants because the sound of your tinfoil panties crunching makes it hard to walk around in public without the agents of democracy’s enemies locating you?

Arno Enslin's picture

James

I am stopping myself from saying something about the political system of the USA, except from this: For sure it is not just a chance, that you are New Yorker, isn’t it. My pity with your country is very limited. My pity is with all the victims of the political system of your country and (or inclusively) with the victims from 09/11. A discussion about this would end in quarrel. This is NOT my intention. I really wanted to know, what you think about ebooks and ebook devices. I don’t take the system of my own country for a democracy. You don’t want to know, what I think about the USA.

Rob O. Font's picture

>Things cannot be democratic, but humans.

Right. Maybe think about the question, and not preconceived answers, and you can cross the political gulf and talk socially about technical issues without beckoning dictators to a little book talk.

Cheers!

Arno Enslin's picture

David

Do you think, that you can get the advantages of electronic media without the disadvantages? We are more and more controlled with the help of computers. That’s the price, that we pay for the comfort. The development of new computer chips could not be payed without our money. You have asked. The electronic medium ebook is a waste-product with regard to the chips, but probably most personal computers are not used for anything else than the organization of our leisure time. So at least my answer touches your question. Additionally my impression is, that members of typohile.com don’t let miss any opportunity to talk about piracy and license agreements. And that’s often ridiculous in my opinion. More to the point – ridiculous is, that you want to know, if I am willing to steal anything under certain circumstances, and then you believe to know, what you have to think about me.

Richard Fink's picture

@all
"Do you think, that you can get the advantages of electronic media without the disadvantages?"

Since, indeed, we have veered away from a little book talk, I like this sentence. And I'm going to steal it and keep it for later which I'm sure Arno won't mind.

[Re: the text on an iRex being as clear and as sharp as print]
"If this would be true, the very most stuff, posted on Typophile, would be waffle."

How so? Does the function of type change because it's on a screen?
Besides, I love waffles. My wife and I have them for dinner quite frequently. [No joke.]
Eggos - Family Style. You should try it, just pop them in the toaster and butter 'em up.
Delicious. And a nice carbohydrate charge-up after a busy day.

Arno Enslin's picture

Richard

Even if the sentence would be original and worth to be quoted with naming the author, there is a difference between stealing ideas and stealing media.

With regard to the waffles I prefer to put baked hearts of finches onto them. The quality of my English is as low as the quality of your arguments, but I am grateful for corrections.

"How so? Does the function of type change because it’s on a screen?"

Naturally not. Most of was exaggerated. But I was regarding to the details of the letters in body text, at least that was my intention. I know, that they should not be as contrasted and detailed as letters in display sizes, but even the optical styles of Arno Pro probably variate in stroke width in a way, that can’t be displayed with 160 dpi. And how good a typeface works with regard to the legibility, is also dependent from the surface of the paper. So what do you mean with "sharp and crisp"? My TFT also is sharp and crisp. It even would be sharp and crisp, if it would display 2 pixel per 20 inches only.

Today I bought essays from Tschichold and Gerard Unger’s "While you are reading" (the German edition). Except from the fact, that there were fat black finger prints from the bookbinder on the first page (transparent and slick paper; I was able to rub them out; wow, now I know another advantage of ebooks!) of "While you are reading", I am very happy, that they are no ebooks. (Gerard, for the case, that you are reading this stupid thread, these transparent pages with the big [parts] of letters, they don’t seem to make the book better. Maybe I discover their sense later. Or shall they increase the aesthetic value of the book? However, if it would be an ebook, I would remove them, although I probably wouldn’t be allowed, because ebooks can be licensed only, as far as I am informed. Wow, another advantage of ebooks! But I like, what I have read up till now.)

Rob O. Font's picture

>People can be better controlled in the computer world.
How do you get people inside computers. ;)

>We are more and more controlled with the help of computers.
You seem insistent on this dark and groping thought.

I personally, think paper controlled us worse.

Anyway, you love books, I can see. I love old books. But where, Arno, in the disposability-of-print-spectrum do you draw the line?

Cheers!

John Hudson's picture

Richard: the glyphs are as clear and sharp as print.

How sharp is that? What kind of print process? What kind of paper?

bowerbird's picture

there are more horses now than there were
back when we used them for transportation.
(or so i have heard.)

likewise, thanks largely to print-on-demand,
paper-books will survive and thrive even when
e-books are the primary method of distribution.

want an e-book printed out? fine. just do it.
(and choose the font you want, and the size,
and the margins, and the text-colors, and
the leading, and a slew of other parameters.)

so no one will have to give up their paper-books.

at least not until the great tree-disease epidemic
of 2033, when most of the trees on earth will be
wiped out, causing the cost of paper to skyrocket.

of course, most people then will miss toilet paper
far more than they miss paper-books. i sure will.

there will also be that thing about trees converting
carbon dioxide into oxygen, causing problems too.

-bowerbird

Arno Enslin's picture

@bowerbird

I never have seen a book, that was printed on demand. Somehow I have doubts, that such a system can secure high quality, at least not, if you order your book online, because you cannot see the paper and the print, before you order it. This may be a prejudice. I apprehend a loss of culture – more throw-away products, than we already have.

(The ebook device industry will tell us each year, that there is a brand new device, that is more legible or better colored than the predecessor. It’s new, it’s better, it’s nauseous!)

want an e-book printed out? fine. just do it.
(and choose the font you want, and the size,
and the margins, and the text-colors, and
the leading, and a slew of other parameters.)

This requires (conscious) typographical knowledge, which most readers miss. Many, if not all of these parameters are dependent from each other. If this would be so easy, I wonder, why there are professions like typographer. An excessive supply is not necessarily freedom. It can be just the other way around.

when most of the trees on earth will be wiped out

How much of the paper, that is produced worldwide, is needed by the book industry? I am relatively good in estimating. I really don’t know it. I would say 8%.

I assume, that it will be possible to produce cellulose synthetically in 2033. Probably this already is possible today, but not for a rational price. Maybe Bamboo could be used. Bamboo grows very fast.

@David

How do you get people inside computers. ;)

Well, Big Brother is even to fat for the case of a supercomputer. Don’t you know, what I mean? I am talking about the state and the industry. They know, what you buy when and where. They know, which telephone and email contacts you have – with whom and how often. And more and more biometric data are stored. Not to forget all the fu**ing cameras in the cities. Do you really think, that all this is for your protection?

BlueStreak's picture

One thing I’ve noticed that gets left out of the equation when comparing the sustainability of digital communication to print is transportation. With electronic media we just have to push a few electrons around. With printed media you have to transport raw materials to a mill, then from the mill to the printing plant (which also needs ink transported). Then the finished printed material is shipped to a distribution point before being sent to stores and/or readers. If that material is to be recycled then it is shipped back to a recycling center and the whole transport cycle is done over.

That’s a lot of in-between steps versus skipping all that raw materials transport and just taking the same electronic communication and piping it directly to the reader using electrons. To me that seems like an exponentially more efficient way to communicate. We all know that the current ebook media is primative, and society in general isn’t used to reading on them. But kids learning to read today are more accustomed to reading electronic media and as they grow up the media is going to get far better than we can imagine.

I thought Pong was the end-all, be-all, greatest video game ever when it first came out. My brain would’ve oozed out of my ears if someone had shown me today’s current video gaming systems back then. Printed books will survive though. I can still find an old-school pinball machine too.

Arno Enslin's picture

Printing on demand seems to be laser printing. This confirms me in my doubts. I don’t know, if this happens with all laser printers, but the text, printed with my laser printer, is sensible with regard to the direction of the light, because the toner is on, but not in the paper. More to the point – there is no deep connection between toner and paper. There is a 3D-effect, that is more or less visible and that is dependent from the direction of the light. The paper doesn’t seem to be saturated with color, because the toner is not evenly spread out. Additionally there is a slight uneven brightness, because the toner doesn’t seem to melt completely. Although the printer prints very precise, there is something missing in comparison with professional offset printing. (Laser printing is also offset, isn’t it? But I miss the right term.)

johnnydib's picture

Pollution is relative. If the book title is set in Comic Sans and the text is Papyrus then shipping it in a hybrid vehicle and reading it under candle light is very polluting.
But if the title is embossed in Bodega and the text is nicely justified in Minion with appropriate ligatures then you can ship it in a 70s airplane and read it under a Tugsten (not to be confused with the H&FJ typeface) and the pollution would be minimal. You can even put it in your living room fridge (the one you use to store "paper" books). Pollution is relative trust me :D

Is Bodega embossed really a great idea?

bowerbird's picture

bluestreak said:
> With electronic media we just have to
> push a few electrons around.

bingo.

there aren't enough trees in china for them
to print out schoolbooks for all of their kids.

***

arno said:
> I never have seen a book, that was printed on demand.
> Somehow I have doubts, that such a system can secure
> high quality, at least not, if you order your book online,
> because you cannot see the paper and the print,
> before you order it. This may be a prejudice.
> I apprehend a loss of culture – more throw-away products,
> than we already have.

print-on-demand books have the same quality as offset books,
or at least they can... most people cannot distinguish the two...
(_you_ might be able to tell 'em apart; but most people couldn't.)

print-on-demand books are most definitely not "throw-away".
at least, not any more so than the books that are mass-printed.
(which do not seem to be of a very high quality to me these days,
but maybe that's just old age, remembering "the good old days".)

> This requires (conscious) typographical knowledge, which
> most readers miss. Many, if not all of these parameters
> are dependent from each other.

you know, it's funny, because even though individual people might
make some choices that would be so far from "optimal" that they
would make _you_ -- a professional -- _cringe_, the odd thing is
that these people actually _prefer_ to have it the way they order it!

in other words, if you offered them an "optimal" version as a choice,
they'd stick with the one they chose as their own personal "optimal".

what can i say? it's obvious they don't appreciate your expertise...

> If this would be so easy, I wonder, why there are professions
> like typographer.

well, to tell you the truth, it's not actually "so easy", not quite yet.

we still haven't figured out how to give people precisely what they
want, with an interface that enables them to easily make the choices.
because this is a new range of possibility. but we'll solve the issues.

as to why there are typographers, or book designers, or however you
want to call them, it's because -- in the old days -- when we printed
thousands of books in a run and everybody had to use the same size,
it made sense to listen to professionals who would study up on how to
make that size be the most pleasant for the greatest number of readers.

but if we don't have to print in a "one-size-fits-all" mode, why do it?

> Maybe Bamboo could be used. Bamboo grows very fast.

yeah, except that the bamboo trees will be the first to catch the disease.

-bowerbird

Rob O. Font's picture

>They know, what you buy when and where. They know, which telephone and email contacts you have – with whom and how often...

They? What They has time to pursue the minutia of innocent nobodies? It doesn't sound like "controlling me" to me.

I agree, bamboo grows very fast, but perhaps paranoia grows faster.

(Laser printing charges the paper where the image is to be and opposite charges the toner to be attracted to the charged area. It is I guess, magnetic offset, laser xerography, I can't remember another term either.)

Cheers!

david h's picture

> Is the future of the book digital?
>...the future of the digital booked?

> I think we book digitally now.... There is also the misapprehension,
>I think, that the digital book is mostly text...

only David B got it? :)

Arno Enslin's picture

@bowerbird

the odd thing is that these people actually _prefer_ to have it the way they order it!

in other words, if you offered them an “optimal” version as a choice,
they’d stick with the one they chose as their own personal “optimal”.

Well, it is comparable with plebiscites. If you take a vote on death penalty, it would get a majority. If you would vote on waterboarding for the national security, it would be the same. It is a classic dilemma. I am against plebiscites. But the problem is, that our leading politicians miss competence, humanity and respect for the constitution likewise. I think, that the only solution is, that you give the people access to education (knowledge) independent from their origin (and for sure not for the price to go to the army). But just that is not wanted by our political leaders, because an intelligent plebs would not vote for incompetence, avarice and slavering lust for power. Politicians want to have a stupid plebs.

I don’t think, that the free market can guarantee advanced civilization. On the other side an overcontrolled market neither can guarantee advanced civilization. But, and there is a difference between artists and politicians: A person, that works for his audience, but not for his spiritual welfare, is no artist, but a corrupt politician. While the politician should be responsible for his electors, the artist is responsible for himself only. That’s the reason, why many artists, that mix they work with politics, are dilettantes.

Well, I don’t think, that book typography should be art, but there should be more typographers, that talk with the readers about their trade. But my impression is, that they have a tendency to prefer the talk with other typographers, because they miss the respect of the reader and they avenge with arrogance. In book typography it is part of the profession of the typographer, to stay in the background.

print-on-demand books have the same quality as offset books,
or at least they can...

That sounds promising, although offset printing is no guarantee for quality likewise.

k.l.'s picture

@ Arno Enslin

With most people discussing here it is evident what they do, what their relation to type is, what their positions are. But I still have no idea who Arno Enslin is. Could you please provide some information about yourself? What is your profession? Are you a designer or a programmer? How does what you do relate to type, typography, books? It would help to get a better understanding of your comments in various discussions.

Don McCahill's picture

A thought here: when I worked at the University of Toronto Press, we produced the Canadian Math Bulletin. The editor told me that while the journal had several thousand subscriptions, generally to university libraries, occasionally papers were published where only four mathematicians in the world would have an interest in the material (and only a few dozen would even be able to understand it). But the publication was the only way to communicate that knowledge about, since you couldn't know which four of the thousands would be interested.

This was pre-Web, and today I assume that those papers are only published electronically, since that provides an alternative to the wastefulness of broadcasting something to such a narrow audience.

paul d hunt's picture

i must admit that i haven't read all of the above comments in depth, so if i am repeating what has been said earlier i apologize. that said, to me the book will never be digital. that is to say that the book is a physical object in my conception of the world. texts may become digital, but the book is a thing that is made (typically) of paper and words printed with ink on that paper. that said, perhaps at some point i will consider some type of e-reader device a book, but texts (content) are separate from the book (form).

Arno Enslin's picture

@Karsten

In various discussions? You mean this discussion, don’t you? The others were about technical things.

My profession is not related to design, art, typography or programming. Am I disqualified now or was I already before? Did you google for Arno Enslin? I did. And because I did not find an Arno Enslin, I decided to be him.

k.l.'s picture

Feel free to take on any name you want. This does not disqualify per se. But as said, lack of context makes it hard to understand your point in a discussion. I am referring to this discussion as well as to the technical ones here and on the FontLab forum.

Why am I not surprised about your reply ...

Arno Enslin's picture

@bowerbird

as to why there are typographers, or book designers, or however you want to call them, it’s because — in the old days — when we printed thousands of books in a run and everybody had to use the same size, it made sense to listen to professionals who would study up on how to make that size be the most pleasant for the greatest number of readers.

Human individuality does not mean, that two humans belong to different species. I doubt, that the human visual perception varies so much. Otherwise we could not interpret the face mimic of other persons. It is true, that our faces are different, but what would happen, if you (yes, you!) transplant the face of person number X to person number Y? How would the face of X harmony with muscles and nerves and tendons of Y? (We are not talking about people, that were reared by wolfs.)

but if we don’t have to print in a “one-size-fits-all” mode, why do it?

That’s true. But you could say the same about the content. I just imagine a reader, that asks for "The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle" in the creationists edition. We urgently need truth- and multi-truth-templates for books. And naturally we also need "author templates". Everything goes. Jesus, I already have a problem, when I have to choose a sponge in a drug market.

On the other side the visual perception requires eyes. And the powers of vision varies. There are people, that would profit from a bigger point size or another font.

Arno Enslin's picture

@Karsten

For me the discussion on the FontLab forum was a win of knowledge and competence. One of your two points is from me. I wanted to finally clarify the naming. It is still not absolutely clear with regard to the consequences of certain names in the menus of different programs and platforms, but it was a win. I wanted to eliminate all open questions, that one can have with regard to the naming. And I am relatively sure, that it also is a win for other people, which are interested in font naming. In contradiction to this thread, I cared about the order very much. The order was my point. You are German, too. Then you know the hard lot of our mentality, don’t you?

bowerbird's picture

arno said:
> Well, it is comparable with plebiscites.
> If you take a vote on death penalty,
> it would get a majority. If you would vote
> on waterboarding for the national security,
> it would be the same.

it's great that you're willing to tackle the deep subjects,
arno, but i fear you've made this much too complicated.

print-on-demand lets each _individual_ customize the
print-out to their particular and unique preferences...

so it has nothing do with with a "plebiscite"...
or a stalactite or a stalagmite, for that matter.

it's almost certain that one person's preferences would
make another person puke, and vice versa. and so what?

> On the other side the visual perception requires eyes.
> And the powers of vision varies. There are people,
> that would profit from a bigger point size or another font.

it's interesting that most people understand the idea implicitly
if you phrase it in terms of point-size or font-choice, but they
aren't as willing to let it extend to margins, leading, or whatever.

for me, as a programmer working to give the choice to people,
what i want to create is the ability for the person to give my app
the specs they prefer, and to have the program make it look nice,
in much the same way that a professional typographer would do
the same thing were s/he to be given the specs by that individual,
_even_if_ that professional typographer would be tempted to say,
"well, i'm not sure it's going to look as good as it could otherwise,
but if this is really the way you want it, i'll give it to you like this."

-bowerbird

Richard Fink's picture

@john hudson

RF>the glyphs are as clear and sharp as print.
JH>How sharp is that? What kind of print process? What kind of paper?

I see your point. Print technology is too varied to pigeonhole like this. (And, actually, it got me thinking about the assumption, by a lot of people I think, that the more print-like text appears onscreen, the more it simulates ink-on-paper, the more readable it will be, and I think that notion is very incorrect. And it can be proven so. But back to your question.)
Let me rephrase. Forget glyphs, clear, sharp.
The text on the iRex appears very much like ink on paper and I can read from it with the same ease as I read from a printed book. (But one is not necessarily following from the other.)

@bowerbird
"we still haven’t figured out how to give people precisely what they want, with an interface that enables them to easily make the choices. because this is a new range of possibility. but we’ll solve the issues."
Oh yeah? In what century? My understanding, gleaned from web stats that measure such things, is that the large majority of browser users seldom fiddle with their browser settings and accept the pages they are shown "without question" presentationally. What proportion of folks do you think are feeling the need to be their own typesetters, compositors, and/or graphic designers?
No waffling, now!

William Berkson's picture

>the glyphs are as clear and sharp as print.

I see on line that the resolution of the Kindle is 167 dpi. The resolution of type printed photo offset is about 2500 dpi. I haven't seen the Kindle screen, but I just can't believe that it is as sharp. We are talking about an order of magnitude different here, which is huge. You'd have to make the "digital paper" type 20 x as big and move 20 x further away to get the same experience.

Arno Enslin's picture

@Richard

If the distance between the plastic border and the display of your iRex is not too great, you could scan a bit of text, that is displayed on your iRex. I would propose relative scan resolutions of 600 and 1200 dpi and Palatino in 12 points (on the iRex). Store the scans in uncompressed tiff format please.

I would print the same text in the same font and the same point size with my laser printer then and scan the print.

Naturally this would not allow a conclusion about the legibility, but it hopefully shows the differences of the variations of the stroke widths.

With regard to the sharpness I think, that MS ClearType can be interpreted as an unsharper. The text is more sharp without ClearType. Without ClearType curves are broken, the pixel are loose and the backlight dominates the text. We cannot press legibility in terms like contrast and sharpness.

Richard Fink's picture

@arno, et al:
Published PPI or DPI measurements are not accurate guides.
In the early nineties I worked with dye-sublimation printers rated at 300dpi that produced photographic-quality output. How do you get photographic output from 300dpi? Well, there are reasons. And it did.
What constitutes the "dot"? What is it's shape? Are we dealing with color, grayscale, or back and white? All will have a great effect. And more.
I have some scans of the output from the iRex, I'll review them, re-do them if necessary, and get them up online somewhere, or here, and revive this thread.
One thing I haven't done is look at the e-paper screen with a loupe or something, and see exactly what it looks like magnified. That will help explain, too.
rich

William Berkson's picture

Rich, photos looking good and type looking good are two different things. I think that type is much more demanding on resolution, because it is usually read at small size, compared to a photos, which are usually printed at relatively big size. A photo can look great at 300 dpi and type look like mud.

Arno Enslin's picture

A photo can look great at 300 dpi and type look like mud.

Exactly that. Additionally the distance, that you have to a photo, is often bigger. (Although unimportant in this context: The low resolution can be a method of style and you cannot compare the resolution of a photo, taken with an analog camera and the resolution, taken with a digital camera. The most impressive photos, that I have seen, are photos from wars. The grain was often very coarse there. The difference between grain and pixel or print dots is the evenness of their spreading. The one is "nature" [the chemical reaction in the film] and the other is technology [a matrix].)

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