No more books?

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No more books?

Postby Matt Seattle » Sat Sep 17, 2011 8:30 pm

Mike Dixon wrote:the ‘age of the music book is in fact coming to its close’


The end of print has been predicted for a long time now. Although I've get several really useful out of print books (e.g. the Köhler) on my computer as pdfs downloaded from archive.org and elsewhere I still go to the physical book shelf more often than to the virtual one. When the new Dixon edition was being discussed 'in another place' (dunsire) a while ago the consistent call was for a hard-copy edition. Books will be around for a while yet and maybe longer. They are a more secure data storage medium than anything electronic (how many computers have you said goodbye to so far?).
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Re: No more books?

Postby Julia Say » Sun Sep 18, 2011 11:05 am

Oh, dear. Obviously I win the "out of context quote of the year"

the full quote was "the committee will need to consider whether the age of the book has in fact come to an end"

and the remark (which I wrote ) was intended to provoke NPS member reaction, thus enabling the committee to decide one way or the other.

If members feel books are still desirable, production will continue!

Matt, what happened to those "pink" and "purple" volumes (in the green & yellow series!) that were on the cards some years ago? Do we need to discuss them??

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Re: No more books?

Postby Barry Say » Sun Sep 18, 2011 11:09 am

I split this post out of the ABC thread because I think it raises some interesting general points with far wider implications than NPS publications. Julia wrote her post while I was writing this.

Books will indeed be around for quite some time, and like Matt I would generally rather go to a physical book than use a screen version. However, the wide availability of music on the net will, I think, reduce the number of customers for books and some publications will become unviable. In the case of new editions of existing publications it is quite often hard to make an economic case for reprinting, except where highly specialist or very popular publications are involved. If the number of customers goes down, prices go up which makes the publication seem less attractive and we are into a downward spiral.

Once upon a time there was a PDA called the palm pilot and someone wrote an ABC conversion program to run on it. A dance band in the US was asked for a tune which only some of the band members knew. One of those called up his computer at the office, downloaded the ABC, converted it to 'dots' and showed the result to the band who had a quick run through an played it later.

How long before people are carrying their music on a Kindle or iPad or whatever?

Matt is quite right to raise the issue of the short life span of digital media. There is also the problem of organizing files on the computer so you can find the ones you want. However, the process of Digital Archiving allows the possibility of publications which will outlast paper. In Digital Archiving there are multiple copies of files which are copied and recopied. Matt and I now have .pdfs of the Kohler and I presume there are many other copies scattered around the world which can generate further copies at virtually no cost. So if Matt's computer breaks and archive.org goes down, I will happily let him have a copy of my pdf

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Re: No more books?

Postby Mike Dixon » Sun Sep 18, 2011 12:22 pm

Sorry to have selectively quoted you Julia but at least it seems to have provoked the feed-back you were after!

One more vote for books - and that is as a keen .abc user. As I said in the ABC thread there is a place for both for me; I do agree with Barry though that the economics of production might be a challenge in the future.

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Re: No more books?

Postby Matt Seattle » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:30 pm

Barry wrote "If the number of customers goes down, prices go up which makes the publication seem less attractive and we are into a downward spiral." - I read this as 'a download spiral'...

The economics of printing are indeed a challenge. Although production of the new Dixon was kindly subsidised by NPS (+ BagSoc + LBPS) my own outlay was considerable. Representing the earliest substantial record of Northumbrian piping, two or three generations before Peacock's Collection, they are lovely books, they want to be your friend, please give one a loving home.
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Re: No more books?

Postby Barry Say » Wed Sep 21, 2011 4:10 pm

Matt Seattle wrote: The economics of printing are indeed a challenge.


Matt is, I am sure, all too painfully aware of the challenge and the appalling attitude of the taxman. When I were a lad, publishing houses charged their printing costs as expenses against tax, and the publications were treated as valueless until they were sold. In the 1970s (as I remember), the rules were changed and the publications stored in warehouses were considered as income. The immediate effect of this was that the publishing houses were required to do a stocktake of their warehouses and pay tax on their back-catalogue stock. Did they do it? No. They went through the warehouses and anything that wouldn't sell reasonably quickly was shredded. Penguin and OUP dumped tons of books. The result was that classic texts became unavailable and academic publications rose in price by a factor of 5 to 10 times.

Some of the most important publications have a limited readership and publishers take a long while to recoup the costs.

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Re: No more books?

Postby John Gibbons » Sat Sep 24, 2011 2:48 pm

It's easier to fit a tunebook than a laptop into a pipecase,
and paper is often easier to read from.
Electronic formats have their place, but a session is not it.
Mind, a decent session is not the place to be playing off a cribsheet either!

A further addition or 2 to the multicoloured piper's pocket books would be very welcome.
Helping this happen would be a good use of NPS resources.
Of course, this depends how many tunes Matt has in the cupboard, waiting to be published.

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Re: No more books?

Postby Dally » Sat Sep 24, 2011 6:58 pm

Note that the electronic media rights of anything you put on a Kindle are owned by Amazon. They can remove it if they want without informing you, and you have to pay them for the priveledge to put it there.
It's different with Apple products, which operate more like your own property. Still, everytime you go on line they have access to your files, they know where you are in the world, and they sell that information to marketers.
If you really want to be cool get a chip implanted in your arm. You can store all your files there, as well as your financial information, medical information, and other important documents. When you buy something it will be your arm than gets scanned, not your credit card.
Of course, if Big Brother suddenly decides that he doesn't like pipers he can turn all these "tools" off. That might be a blessing if you have a library to hide in.
I have several books of pipe music from the 19th century. I doubt anyone will boast of owning a hard drive containing a pdf of pipe music 150 years from now. The hard drive will have become toxic waste long before that.
Sorry to be so grim, but I take the denegration of the book very personally. Many social critics call it "the demise of the book" but that's because they haven't read many, a fact most brag about for some reason.
"The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur." - George W. Bush
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Re: No more books?

Postby Barry Say » Sat Sep 24, 2011 7:21 pm

John Gibbons wrote:It's easier to fit a tunebook than a laptop into a pipecase,

but with modern tablet devices, no keyboard, all screen one of these could be the same size as, say, 3 tunebooks and hold as much music as 10 or more.
and paper is often easier to read from.

Very true, but this merely says that the format of the digital version has to be carefully thought out. I actually enjoy reading from older typeset versions which some may think less clear than modern printing, but I find that after a little while working with a publication I come to read it much easier. I really like working with Peacock in the facsimile nowadays. Familiarity makes things more readable.

Electronic formats have their place, but a session is not it.
Mind, a decent session is not the place to be playing off a cribsheet either!

I think a tablet device could well be less obtrusive than a carrier bag full of tunebooks. And you might locate the tune quicker. But yes, far better to do without. I think that merits its own topic.
A further addition or 2 to the multicoloured piper's pocket books would be very welcome.
Helping this happen would be a good use of NPS resources.

I would cautiously disagree with this one. Publishing music offers an income stream to the Society, but I do not think it is a bottomless pit. If the NPS increases its catalogue I think it will be competing with itself. I think compilations should only be published if they are economically viable. The folio offers a great route for dribbling new tunes into the repertoire, and since it reaches all member it would seem to be an effective way of getting tunes 'out there'.

On the other hand one could argue that there are specialist publications which are so important that the NPS should publish them irrespective of a financial return. This is not a recipe for extravagant expenditure. Sales income should, in the long term, at least cover publication costs. The Clough and Pigg books could well come into this category. Let us not forget the Charlton Memorial Tune Book (see separate topic).

Barry
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Re: No more books?

Postby John Gibbons » Sat Sep 24, 2011 10:56 pm

Barry,
A carrier bag full of tunebooks is indeed not much use in a session, as I know far too well.
But in the absence of an adequate cataloguing system, any large capacity storage device gets cluttered,
as my laptop's filespace shows clearly.
John D's idea of chip in one's arm is a more useful road to go down,
though my own (erratic though it is) is in my skull.

I wasn't suggesting the variegated tunebooks, or any others, primarily as an earner for the society
- though of course they should cover their costs - but as a way of getting a good collection of pipe tunes out there,
which is well in line with the Society's aims.
The green and yellow books did this excellently - as well as CMB and later editions of the 1st book did.
An electronic tunebook - FARNE - made some fine older tunes partly accessible again,
but you rarely hear those tunes played, unless they were already current or have appeared in print since.
The folios work as a tune-sharing mechanism, which is a slightly different job.
They have a much broader viewpoint, the union of those of the contributors.

John
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