Random Thoughts: Spines… Really?

I just spotted this comment on a podcast over at SF Signal (after a tweet by Catherynne Valente pointed it out):

If your panelists only read spines, I have no use for you. The last time I bought a spine was January 2011. It still has the bookstore sale-tape on it, which means I have never opened it.

The same month that I bought my last spine, I got my Kindle. I have read more than a hundred books on it in — what? — 16 months. I bought 2 books and downloaded 2 samples this last weekend.

In future, please tell me up front — in the program listing — the format that your reviewers read. If they read eBooks, I shall listen. If they read only spines, I’ll pass.

Spines? Really? Do we need a silly term like this to distinguish between book formats now? How exactly would it affect the quality of the podcast if the panelists were holding Kindles or Nooks rather than paper books?

After some initial resistance, I read books in whichever format they’re presented to me. I tend to prefer paper books, simply because I like the feel of them, but thanks to the wonders of Netgalley and the fact that many publishers are cutting back on paper ARC’s, I read a good many review books in e-format now too. At a guess, probably about a third of my reviews are based on electronic ARC’s.

Both formats work fine. I’m happy either way. I really don’t see why I should specify in the review whether I read a book in paper or electronic format. Anyone disagree?

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10 Responses to Random Thoughts: Spines… Really?

  1. Bryce says:

    I guess on the internet you can complain about anything. I would never imagine this would be something to complain about because it makes absolutely no sense, but I guess that’s the beauty of the internet. Everything’s game. 😀

  2. “Reading spines” conjurs up an image of a gaggle of half-blind crones, huddled around a fire in a cave somewhere and peering at the spines of various rodents and amphibians, trying to scry out some portend while a nervous royal retinue hovers nearby.
    Seriously though, I can’t see why it makes a difference. I guess the guy won’t come to my blog, since I haven’t gotten around to spending money on a Kindle yet. (Instead of buying, you know, shoes or vegetables for my kids.) Apparently this isn’t just damaging my reading experience, but it emotionally degrades the unfortunates who follow my ramblings.

  3. Sarah says:

    I prefer paper books (or “spines” which is just a ridiculous term – IMO). However, now that I have a baby, the sad truth of the matter is that ebooks get read and reviewed much faster than their paper counterparts.

    Why it should matter that format I read a book is beyond me. The ebook Game of Thrones has the exact same words in it as the “spine.”

  4. Until e-books become enhanced in some fundamental way over its paper counterpart, it doesn’t matter and shouldn’t matter to the reader of the review.

  5. Mieneke says:

    I think the only reason to state upfront whether something is an eBook, is when it’s only available as an e-version. It’s rather frustrating reading a really good review and then not being able to purchase the book due to not having an ereader. Or even worse not living in the right territory to buy it! But I’d never mention it when there are both paper and e-versions available!

  6. Gerry M. Allen says:

    If you were reviewing formats, the format identity could be stated. But, I thought the reviews ere about books. You know, content and stuff. Name the book and author; the energetic reader can determine the rest through a simple search.

  7. Ken says:

    I read both electronic and paper versions. I really don’t see how one form is superior to another at the moment. I think the message is that haters are always gonna hate.

  8. Camille says:

    It was a profoundly silly statement by an egregiously entitled individual, and you should ignore it.

  9. If you read the book in audio format you should indicate that because someone else’s narration could affect your perception of the book. But print words are print words. They get in your brain the same way whether you read them on e-paper or tree-paper. No need to specify. Ridiculous.

  10. James Oliver says:

    ‘Spines’ sounds ridiculous, but it conjures up images of my apartment being littered with a grisly collection of human remains. That alone makes it better than the established ‘Dead Tree Books’, which just comes across as condescending and lame.

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