Bob Haas highbob at MINDSPRING.COM
Thu Sep 14 17:05:26 UTC 2000

Thought the list might be interested in this, and wanted to comment.  I'm
not certain that there will be a great rush to call books "p-books."  The
usage of "e-book" and other such terms is going to have to become so much
more established among hoi polloi that the very paradigm of "book"
necessarily finds itself upon a web page.  I don't think that's about to
happen in my lifetime (but hey, I never thought I'd have a communicator just
like on STAR TREK; Nokia changed my mind).  I think "book" as both a word a
concept, as the culture at large now knows it, will be around for a bit
longer.  People, reading people, like books.  Any other name, for the time
being, is fashion, and fashions change.


> From: "Paul McFedries" <wordspy at mcfedries.com>
> Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 11:46:23 -0400
> To: <wordspy at mcfedries.com>
> Subject: The Word Spy for 09/14/2000 -- p-book
> p-book (noun)
> A paper book (cf. "e-book").
> "E-books range in price from $ 1 for Dean Wesley Smith's Star
> Trek: S.C.E. #1: The Belly of the Beast to double-digit figures
> for books such as Susan Sontag's In America ($ 26), and
> they can be downloaded in seconds. E-books, in general, cost the
> same or are cheaper than their p-book versions."
> --Tara McKelvey, "Easy-on-the-eyes typeface clears screen for better
> content," USA Today, August 30, 2000
> See Also: dead tree edition, treeware
> Backgrounder
> ----------
> As today's word shows, the apparently inevitable e-book revolution is
> forcing the language to change in anticipation. Within a year or two, using
> the word "book" without any kind of modifier will be confusing because
> people won't know if you're talking about a book printed on paper or one
> that's printed on electrons (so to speak). So I predict that p-book (or
> pbook, which I've also seen) will become a common noun that will help us
> distinguish between the paper and electronic formats.
> In linguistic circles, a word such as "p-book" is known as a retronym: a
> word formed from an older word by attaching a previously unnecessary
> modifier. For example, there was a time when the words "guitar," "mail," and
> "transmission" were unambiguous. However, the advent of the electric guitar,
> e-mail, and the automatic transmission forced the creation of the retronyms
> "acoustic guitar," "snail mail," and "manual transmission."

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