Pixel Scroll 10/17/17 If I Have Scrolled Further Than Others, It Is Because I Stood On The Pixels Of Filers

(1) NOW YOU KNOW. Ron Howard says the movie will be called Solo: A Star Wars Story.

(2) ATOMIC AGE LORE. Tony Rothman kicks off his American Scientist article “The Forgotten Mystery of Inertia” with – of all things – a Worldcon anecdote.

In days of yore, at a World Science Fiction Convention in Boston, a Harvard graduate student polished his reputation as a brilliant mad scientist by roaming the convention halls, brandishing what at first glance appeared to be a rather peculiar steel bowling ball. Portholes perforated its surface, providing a glimpse of electronic hardware inside; tangled wires sprouted from the same holes, and a gear train surrounded the mysterious object’s equator.

“What’s that?” I asked him.

“It’s the gyro platform for an intercontinental ballistic missile,” he replied. “If you put it on a Titan rocket, it will fly to Kiev.”

“How do you know?”

“It’s an inertial guidance system, stupid. It knows where Kiev is.”

“I know how inertial guidance systems work, but how do you know it knows where Kiev is?”

“Oh, that. It was stamped on the box.”

This sorcerer’s apprentice had discovered that for $900 you could buy a surplus intercontinental ballistic missile, 10 years before the electronics were declassified. His Titan was delivered on two railway cars, “Kiev Titan Missile” stamped on the crates. He junked the body, donated the engines to an art museum, and saved the electronics for his research. A tall tale? Sounds like one, but the gyro platform was there for all to see.

That is the question. At what, exactly, is the gyroscope pointed? According to the law of inertia, objects tend to continue doing what they’ve been doing: If at rest, they remain at rest; if moving, they continue moving at the same speed in the same direction. The gyroscope also bends to inertia’s will, but in confounding ways. Touch it, and the gyro opposes you by veering in unexpected directions. If it is spinning extremely rapidly, the gyroscope remains rigidly locked in the direction it has been set, its sights fixed on…Kiev—hence the term inertial guidance systems. If a rocket veers off the gyro’s fixed course, a sensor detects the error, and a servomechanism realigns the missile with the gyroscope axis.

Was that Russell Seitz? When I first got into fandom that was the story going around about him, of which the following is one version:

In the late 70’s, when most of our nuclear arsenal was converted from liquid to solid fuel, the U.S. Government auctioned off a number of obsolete missile silos and their contents. Mostly the silos got bought by local farmers who converted them for grain storage. I only know what happened to one of the missiles. It was offered at sealed bid auction and a friend of mine, Russell Seitz, bought it. When you bid on something like this, you have to send in a check for 10% of your bid as a deposit. He looked at his bank account, and figured he could spare about $300 that month, so that’s what he sent. When he discovered that he’d won the bid, he had to scrounge up the rest. Now the buyer must pick up the goods himself, but he can request that his purchase be delivered, at government expense, to the nearest military base. Being an undergraduate at M.I.T. at the time, he had the missile shipped to Hanscom Airforce Base, about 12 miles away. He then arranged for a truck, and donated the missile to a local modern art museum (I forget which one). Tax laws were a little different in those days, and if you donated something to an art museum, you could deduct not the just the purchase price, but the original value of the object, which was considerable. Income averaging allowed him to spread the “loss” out over a number of years so that he didn’t have to pay taxes for a long time! He was legendary at M.I.T. for quite a while, and acquired the nickname “Missile” Seitz.

(3) ED KRAMER BACK IN THE NEWS. Ed Kramer, Dragon Con founder and convicted sex offender, has sued the producers of The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway, claiming they owe him for his work in creating and developing the program. The Huffington Post has the story: “Sex Offender Claims Responsibility For Natalee Holloway TV Series”.

Just when it seemed the Natalee Holloway case couldn’t get more peculiar, HuffPost has uncovered another twist in the teenager’s 2005 disappearance: A registered sex offender is claiming responsibility for a recent television series about the mystery.

Edward Kramer is suing producers of “The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway,” a TV series that began in August on the Oxygen Network, alleging he is “co-owner, developer and writer,” according to his lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in California. Kramer wants unspecified “just compensation” for his work, plus punitive damages.

Kramer’s personal website claims:

Edward E. Kramer is the creator and developer of the six-part series, The Disappearance of Natalee Holloway for Brian Graden Media (BGM) and NBC Universal’s newly re-branded Oxygen Crime Network. This landmark series, featuring Dave Holloway and Private Investigators T. J. Ward, Kathy Wainscott, Trace Sargent and Eric Bryant, Detective Frank Karic and Forensic Scientist Jason Kolowski, which finally puts to rest the 2005 murder of Natalee Holloway.

The defendants in the lawsuit, Brian Graden Media and Lipstick Inc., filed an answer to the suit, denying they owe anything to Kramer.

He wasn’t “named as a writer, screenwriter, or co-creator,” they said, and was working as an “employee or agent of T.J. Ward,” a private investigator who appeared on the series with Holloway’s father, Dave Holloway.

Read a copy of the original lawsuit filing and the defendants’ answer here.

(4) MARVEL EXEC’S COMICS COLLECTION LOOTED. Marvel’s Joe Quesada is looking for help to recover or reacquire comics and other art stolen from his collection. He gives the background in a long public post on Facebook, leading up to recent discoveries of his artwork for sale, and the arrest of the culprit.

In early June I was contacted by a longtime friend, he was looking at some comic art auctions and was curious as to why I was auctioning a piece that he knew was part of my personal collection and something I would never, ever sell. He sent me a link where I discovered 24 pieces in total from my private collection up for auction including pieces I did long before I was a working professional. While at the moment I’m not at liberty to give the details, investigating this further it turns out that the artwork that was up for auction was all originally purchased from a Mr. Francesco Bove.

Further investigation uncovered that, since the time he was thrown out of my house, at least 185 more pieces of my stolen art were sold at auction and all of it originally purchased directly from Mr. Bove. That’s 185 pieces, sold and gone! How much more was sold privately is unknown at the moment but I’m not feeling optimistic.

So why is this news breaking now? As the case was being investigated the Detective in charge discovered Mr. Bove had left the country and had gone to Italy. Upon his return he was arrested which brings us to right now. From what I know so far it’s believed that Mr. Bove has sold portions of my art to comic shops, dealers and collectors in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, as well as parts of Long Island and New Jersey. It could be wider spread than that but I’m not at liberty to say.

And here’s the thing that keeps me up at night. These were pieces that I was never intending to sell, art that had deep personal meaning to every member of my family. There was an enormous collection of Archie art from various artists like Stan Goldberg, Harry Lucey, Sam Schwartz but the majority of it by Dan DeCarlo. There were also Laugh Comics pages by Bill Woggon, The Adventures Of Pipsqueak by Walt Lardner as well as Pat The Brat and Shrimpy by Joe Harold and a huge assortment of other artists from the 50s and 60s to today. I lost pages of my own professional art as well as art I purchased from dear and talented friends. But what stings the most is that Mr. Bove took artwork that I had discovered many years ago stored in my father’s home after he had passed away. Drawings and paintings I did in elementary school, high school and college. Practice sample pages I had done before ever seriously thinking I could be in comics. This was art I was leaving behind for my daughter just as my father had left it for me. It kills me to think that I’ll never get this stuff back now that it’s been scattered to the four winds perhaps bought and sold more times than I care to imagine… or possibly even destroyed. So yes, heartbreak after heartbreak. Not only was the thief someone who I trusted, allowed into my home and helped during rough times, but the items he stole in order to keep himself afloat once he realized he irreversibly burned his bridge with me were the ones most irreplaceable and of personal importance.

Now here’s the part where I could use your help.

While I’m hopeful that now in custody Mr. Bove may lead the Detectives to the people and locations where he sold the art, perhaps some of you reading this might be able to point the Sparta New Jersey Police Department in the right direction. If you’ve purchased any art from Mr. Francesco Bove and have it in your possession or know someone who does please contact

Det. Jeffrey McCarrick at (973) 726-4072

Or the Sparta New Jersey Police Department spartanj.org or on their FB page https://www.facebook.com/sparta.police/

You can also reach out to me here on FB as well. Please know that I understand completely that this was sold under false pretenses and I fault no one for not knowing that. All I want is to retrieve as much of the art as I possibly can especially the attached Dan DeCarlo cover for Archie #322 which means the world to me and my family. Unfortunately it has been sold at least twice over that I’m aware of but if you know where I can find it I will gladly purchase it back.

(5) BOOTS ON THE GROUND. The Planetary Society reports on the first meeting of the newly reconstituted National Space Council in “We choose to go to the Moon and do the other things”.

Returning to the Moon

The biggest news to come out of today’s meeting was [Vice President] Pence’s authoritative declaration that Americans will return to the lunar surface.

“We will return American astronauts to the Moon, not only to leave behind footprints and flags, but to build the foundation we need to send Americans to Mars and beyond,” Pence said.

This wasn’t unexpected, considering prior statements by Pence, other administration officials, and the backgrounds of space council executive secretary Scott Pace, and NASA administrator nominee Jim Bridenstine.

Very few details were given on how a return to the lunar surface would work, or when it would occur. Pence did not say whether the Americans on the surface would be government or commercially-employed astronauts. And the agency’s exploration goals already include a return to lunar space via the Deep Space Gateway, a small space station in lunar orbit, which would provide a test-bed for closed-loop life support, deep space maneuvering, and other technologies necessary for travel to Mars.

In a statement, NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said the agency has “highlighted a number of initiatives underway in this important area (cislunar space), including a study of an orbital gateway or outpost that could support a sustained cadence of robotic and human missions.” That implies the Deep Space Gateway is still on the table, and could theoretically fit within the broad plans outlined by Pence.

The fate of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule have been a perennial point of discussion among space advocates, particularly during the transition to this new, business-friendly administration. Though it wasn’t stated explicitly, today’s discussions seemed to assume the continuation of SLS and Orion, at least for now. The programs have always had strong congressional support, and were intended to be destination-agnostic, both by design and congressional directive. NASA can thus shift its focus without a drastic restructuring of its major hardware programs.

(6) TAKE A SHOWER. Space.com tells you — “Orionid Meteor Shower 2017: When, Where & How to See It”.

One of the year’s best sky shows will peak between Oct. 20 and 22, when the Orionid meteor shower reaches its best viewing. The meteors that streak across the sky are some of the fastest and brightest among meteor showers, because the Earth is hitting a stream of particles almost head on.

The particles come from Comet 1P/Halley, better known as Halley’s Comet. This famous comet swings by Earth every 75 to 76 years, and as the icy comet makes its way around the sun, it leaves behind a trail of comet crumbs. At certain times of the year, Earth’s orbit around the sun crosses paths with the debris.

(7) NOTABLE SIGNATURES. Michael Burstein posted copies of some historic letters his grandfather received from Einstein, Teller and Isaac Asimov.

Among other things, my grandfather Rabbi Abraham Burstein was secretary of the Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences. One of his tasks was reaching out to various luminaries to see if they would be interested in joining the academy. Sometimes he reached out to people whom he knew were Jewish but who might not be very public about it; joining the academy was a way to express solidarity without becoming too public. From what I understand, the academy had annual meetings with speakers.

I do not know what was in the letters my grandfather sent out to these three recipients, but we can see what they said back.

The earliest letter is from Albert Einstein, dated June 7, 1936. The next letter is from Edward Teller, dated December 21, 1962. The last letter is from Isaac Asimov, dated October 21, 1965.

(8) HONOR AN AUSTRALIAN SFF CONTRIBUTOR. The A. Bertram Chandler Award is calling for nominations.

So why is a person awarded this honour?  It’s because the recipient has demonstrated over many years untiring commitment and selfless work within Australian fandom or the Aussie SF scene in general.  Work such as convention running, local club activities, publishing, writing of merit in the genre whether that be blogs, fanzines, short stories or novels, artistic endeavours such painting, graphics or other such forms.  The criteria is not limited to any one activity; but mostly it is for activities that are visible and evident to the Aussie SF community.

So, do you know someone who has made a significant contribution to Australian science fiction and/ or Australian fandom, not just over the last year, but year in, year out? Feel that they should be honoured / recognised for this work? Then why not nominate them for the A Bertram Chandler Award. It is really easy to do: just write to the ASFF and outline why you think that the person is deserving of the award.  No forms to fill out, no entrance fee, nothing but a simple few paragraphs outlining the person’s achievements.

For more information about the A Bertram Chandler Award and the Australian Science Fiction Foundation visit our website ( www.asff.org.au )

To nominate a worthy person, send to [email protected]

(9) EBOOK TIDE RECEDING? A Wall Street Journal blogger relates what publishers had to say at the Frankfurt Book Fair in “Book Publishers Go Back to Basics”.

Book publishers are giving an advance review of the industry’s future, and it looks a lot like the past. After a decade of technological upheaval and lackluster growth, executives at the top four U.S. consumer book publishers say they are done relying on newfangled formats to boost growth.

It has been nearly 10 years since Amazon.com Inc. introduced its Kindle e-book reader amid the financial crisis, destabilizing publishers and challenging their well-honed business models.

Now, e-book sales are on the decline, making up a fraction of publishers’ revenue, and traditional book sales are rising. The consumer books industry is enjoying steady growth in the U.S., with total revenue increasing about 5% from 2013 to 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers.

Executives gathered in Frankfurt for the industry’s biggest trade fair said they are returning to fundamentals: buying and printing books that readers want to buy—and they are streamlining their businesses to get them out faster than ever before.

It is about “knowing what [readers] want,” said Markus Dohle, chief executive of Bertelsmann SE and Pearson PSO -1.91% PLC’s joint venture Penguin Random House, “to drive demand at scale.”

The shift is a surprise reversal for an industry that experts just a decade ago predicted was facing radical change, if not a slow death, because of digitization and changing reading habits. Instead, e-book sales in the U.S. were down about 17% last year, according to the AAP industry group, while printed book revenue rose 4.5%.

…Mr. Murray blamed flagging e-book sales on “screen fatigue,” and said HarperCollins was upping investment in printed books, “the value anchor” for the entire business. Printed books are “more beautiful now,” he said. “You’ll see endpapers [and] a lot more design sensibility going into the print editions because we recognized that they can’t be throwaway.”

(10) IT’S THE PRICE. Amanda S. Green’s opinion about the above news is that trad publishers constantly talk around the real obstacle to e-book sales, which she identifies in “The delusions continue” at Mad Genius Club.

…Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy claims that nothing “went wrong” with e-books. It seems she believes people have gotten tired of reading on their screens. Again, a complete disconnect from reality. People don’t want to pay as much — or more — for an e-book as they will for a print copy. But the laugh out loud moment comes further down in the article when Reidy says she firmly believes “a new version of the book based on digital delivery will come eventually, though she does not know what it might look like.”


Blink. Blink.

Hmm, wouldn’t that be an e-book? The bells and whistles might be a bit different, but it if walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, isn’t it a duck?

And what about her argument that e-book sales have leveled off because we are tired of reading on our screens?

It constantly amazes me the way these folks continue to tie themselves into knots trying to explain how e-books are bad, or are a passing fad or a way for writers not good enough for traditional publishing to get their works into the hands of readers. All I know is that the real numbers, the numbers that look at more than the Big 5 titles, tell a different tale. As a reader, I know I find myself picking up more and more books from indie authors because they are writing stories I want to read and they are doing it at prices that allow me to read two or three or more books for the price of a single Big 5 title. When is the point going to come where an accountant who isn’t afraid of rocking the boat says they can actually sell more — and make more money — if they lower their prices to something reasonable?

(11) SPLATTERPUNK AWARD SEEKS NOMINATIONS. As announced recently on Episode 136 of The Horror Show with Brian Keene, the SplatterPunk awards are now taking nominations for works of horror.  The categories are:

  • BEST NOVEL (for works of more than 50,000 words)
  • BEST NOVELLA (for works from 15,000 to 50,000 words)
  • BEST SHORT STORY (for works from 500 to 14,000 words)
  • BEST COLLECTION (for single-author works over 50,000 words)
  • BEST ANTHOLOGY (for multiple-author collections over 50,000 words)

Anyone registered to attend next year’s KillerCon is eligible to nominate.  Early registration is $89.99 until the end of 2017.  Registration is capped at 250 attendees.

Dann sent the link along with an observation, “The nomination form is a little unusual in that there is only one space provided for a nomination.  The attendee is supposed to indicate the appropriate category in one box and the work being nominated in a second box.  It isn’t clear how an attendee is supposed to nominate works in more than one category.”

Guests of honor at next year’s Killer Con include Brian Keene, Edward Lee, and Lucy Taylor.  Special Guests include author Matt Shaw and freelance editor Monica J. O’Rourke.

The 2018 Splatterpunk Awards jurors are David J. Schow, Gerard Houarner, Monica J. O’Rourke, Mike Lombardo, and Tod Clark.

The Founders of the SplatterPunk Awards, Wrath James White and Brian Keene, will select the Lifetime Achievement Award winner.


  • October 17, 1937: Huey, Dewey, and Louie (Donald Duck’s nephews) first appeared in a comic strip.


  • Born October 17, 1914 – Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman.
  • Born October 17 – Michael J. Walsh, publisher, Old Earth Books, and former Worldcon chair (1983)

(14) THE NEIGHBORS’ HALLOWEEN DISPLAY. That would be a two-story tall Star Wars Imperial Walker —  “‘The Force’ is strong in Parma as residents unveil towering Star Wars’ robot”.

Everyone wants to see Nick Meyer’s latest Halloween decoration.

“That is an imperial armored transporter from (‘Star Wars: Episode V – The) Empire Strikes Back,’” said Meyer.

Star Wars’ fans would know the official name for the towering rover: an AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport).

Seven years ago, Meyer and his family started the tradition of building a Halloween display in the front yard.

“I love it, I encourage it,” said Nick’s wife Becky Meyer.

It gets bigger every year.

“I liked the clowns we did one year. Last year we did ‘Friday the 13th’ cabin, that was one of my favorites,” Becky said. “Last year was pretty awesome, and he topped it,” said next door neighbor, Amber Johnson.

One would think some neighbors might not want to stare at a two-story Star Wars robot for a few weeks, you’d be wrong.

“No, this is our fourth year living next door to them, and we love it,” Johnson said.

(15) IN MEMORY YET GRAY. Lawrence Schoen asks the inevitable question of Vivian Shaw, author of Strange Practice, in “Eating Authors: Vivian Shaw”.

LMS: Welcome, Vivian. What’s your most memorable meal?

VS: If you’d asked me this two years ago, I would have had no difficulty whatsoever in coming up with the best meal I’d ever eaten. That was in 2004, in Chicago, the same day I met Scott McNeil and George Romero: I was at a Transformers convention and decided to take myself to an actual steakhouse for an actual steak, and I can still so clearly remember the gorgeous rich mineral taste of that first-ever filet mignon, the way it almost dissolved in my mouth. The vivid greenness of the two asparagus spears on the plate, the peppery kick of the Shiraz that accompanied it — even thirteen years later it’s incredibly easy to recall.

(The most memorable, however, was the time on British Airways in the 1990s where for reasons known only to themselves somebody had decided to add bits of squid to the fruit salad. Memorable doesn’t equal pleasant.)

(16) LECKIE’S PROVENANCE Camestros Felapton reviews the new novel Provenance by Ann Leckie.

The people of Hwae (or at least the high-ranking ones) obsess over social status in a way that the Radch obsesses over rank (and tea). Central to this cult-like obsession is the veneration of ‘vestiges’ – artifacts that demonstrate the age of a family and possible connections to historical events. Vestiges can be anything from physical objects to letters and postcards or ticket stubs.

When we first meet Ingray she is off planet, embroiled in a scheme that is within her cognitive capacity to execute but for which she is not temperamentally prepared. As events unfold, a prison break, stolen spaceships, a murder of foreign dignitary and an invasion plot unfold around Ingray in a story that has elements of a mad-cap caper along side space-opera and Leckie’s trademark examination of the potential variety of human culture.

Above all Ingray is an honest person caught in a story in which most people she meets (both the good and the bad) are liars. This is such a clever trick by Leckie, as she manages to encapsulate Ingray very quickly as a character very early in the book, while giving her a backstory that gives her reasons to attempt a devious scheme (returning a notorious exiled criminal/disgraced vestige keeper to Hwae to embarrass her parent’s political rival). Ingray’s basic niceness wins her some useful allies and her naturally bravery pushes her further into the events.

(17) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Andrew Finch tells the inspiration for his short film Others Will Follow.

But Why?

Thanks for watching, Others Will Follow was inspired by this speech written for President Nixon to deliver in the event that the Apollo 11 astronauts were stranded on the moon. Fortunately they never used it, so I figured I would. NASA has parked its space ships in museums in the decades since the contingency speech was written. Most humans alive today didn’t exist the last time humanity left low earth orbit. I wanted to make something that would outline the importance of human space flight by imagining a brute-force mission to Mars in the early 2000s that, despite disastrous circumstances still manages to pass the torch of inspiration. I spent 4.5 years making this short and attempted to do every aspect of its creation myself, from pyrotechnics to music composition. Many of the disciplines were completely new to me like designing and building the space ship and constructing the space suit, others like VFX and cinematography I had a background in.

The lone survivor of the first mission to Mars uses his last moments to pass the torch of inspiration.

Making of: Others Will Follow

VFX Breakdowns and funny funny stuff from the set of Others Will Follow


[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mark-kitteh, Dann, Michael J. Walsh, Steve Davidson, Cat Eldridge, Andrew, and Rose Mitchell for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brad J.]

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122 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/17/17 If I Have Scrolled Further Than Others, It Is Because I Stood On The Pixels Of Filers

  1. @Steve Davidson

    6. don’t dare read an ebook while in the bathtub
    I have never read int he bath. However there are waterproof ereaders out there.

    9. Carting around thousands of physical books has never bothered me.
    You’ve obviously put more time in at the gym than me. I’ve been away on holidays for 3 or 4 weeks in places where access to English language books is very low. I can get away with packing a dozen or so books but I still run out of reading.

    7. I can make fire in a variety of different ways. I can’t “make” a charging point; when the batteries run out,
    You mean you don’t have a number of USB power banks. Unless the power is out for weeks I will cope happily. If I lived somewhere sunny and the power had a habit of being out for weeks on end I would invest in a solar powered charger too.

  2. (2) ATOMIC AGE LORE. IIRC, the kind of “always points at Target Object” doohickey can be found in (one of) E.E. “Doc” Smith’s (and, according to Wikipedia, a co-author at least for the first) SKYLARK series.

  3. Count me with those who love physical books. I love my library (organised by colour for serendipity). I like to pick up a book and turn to just the right page by physical feel.

    I do read ebooks too – especially “throw away” books (not that I actually throw them away – just ones I don’t keep). I’m currently mainly reading ebooks as I have a 2 month old baby and ebooks mean I can read while holding her, or at night when she’s awake (without waking my other half). I’m still buying hardbacks though.

    Anyway, I have a theory about why I retain less from ebooks compared to physical ones. I have studied palaeography and there are some insights from medieval manuscripts (I think). For a long time they had no concept of an alphabetical index so to move around a text you used and memorised visual cues – where you were in the MS; the page (recto/verso); markers – from large illuminated initials with memorable pictures, through red or blue capitals, the shape of the text and any pictures previous users had drawn in the margins. It’s surprisingly effective if you try it. So there are centuries of gradually perfected design in a physical text – much of which we are not conscious of (of course – not all the elements above survived). For me it is the perfect technology: navigable, tactile, memorable, portable and hard wearing (if the book is decent quality). It doesn’t rely on charging, it is complete in itself. And it can be loaned to my friends if I’m ever feeling especially generous 😉

  4. ebooks vs physical books.

    I prefer physical books for:
    Advance reader copies (Ask me about Adobe Digital editions. UGH)
    RPG manuals
    Non fiction (especially heavy on maps or photos)
    Books by treasured authors who might inscribe (“Sign”) it for me, to me.

    Else, I love the portability of ebooks.

  5. @ steve davidson-trips to the bookstore being unnecessary is now touted as a “good thing”?
    That just reinforces my (somewhat smug) belief that too many e-reader advocates are merely looking for product. How can a visit to a bookstore be an imposition?
    5. do not like the idea of perpetually “leasing” books that are presented in a fashion that makes it appear I am “buying” them That, for me, is the deal breaker. The idea that a ‘book’ I have could be removed by someone else chills me.

    All that aside, the persistent whining by some e-book writer/advocates is exhausting. If you’re all doing so well with e-books, what do you care about trad publishing? Or is it that you have this feeling that you just don’t measure up?
    @DAX-The kinds of ‘throwaway’ books I enjoy, which I used to buy as softcovers, now are purchased as ebooks. I’ve thought for a while that too many of these e-books are at that level of cheesy 60s/70s paperbacks with cover art that makes you cringe and typos through-out. And that’s fine. I devoured those books at the time. But I have too many options now–bad cover art just makes me think that the story inside will reach the same level. Seriously–some of that cover art looks like they got their 5 year old to do it.

    Another big plug for WINTER’S TIDE from me. It’s a Hugo short list IMO.

    When I do get some kind of reader–it will probably be more for having copies of my favorite books available when traveling or visiting family.

  6. @Daniel P Dern: yes, the “object-compass”, a rod of sensitized metal which was “attuned” to a particular object with some sort of beam, and which would then always point at that particular object. I think that was how they tracked down Dorothy when DuQuesne’s kidnap attempt went all “Lost in Space” on them… it’s been a while since I read Skylark, though.

    Books and ebooks – well, they’re both different reading experiences, and they’ve both got advantages and disadvantages. I’m honestly not sure which one I prefer, on balance – I like the feel of physical books, I appreciate their many conveniences – but I do love me my cool 21st-century gadgets, too. Seems pretty clear, though, that there is room in the marketplace for both.

  7. I prefer physical format for cookbooks.
    (I don’t generally buy a book if I don’t expect to read it more than once.)

  8. Seems pretty clear, though, that there is room in the marketplace for both.

    See? That’s what I think but i dunno, some of the e-book advocates seem to feel like e-books will suddenly vanish and then where will they be? Particularly, the ones who have this fantasy that trad publishers are trying to smash e-publishing into nothingness. It seems hypocritical to me that they’re up in arms about the publishers trying to expand or control their market, while ignoring the fact they do business with AMAZON.

  9. I’m on the fence with regards to paper vs. electronic books. I enjoy the paper experience.

    But e-books let me read anytime and anywhere. My current read, The Core by Peter V. Brett – highly recommended FWIW, is a doorstop of a book. It has enough heft to kill a cow if it was put down with any enthusiasm. I can’t lug that thing around all day long.

    E-books also let me adjust the font size to suit my needs.

    And lately, it seems that E-books are more cost-effective.

    People like what they like. I’m ill-inclined to question their personal justifications.


  10. @SamJ: I do much the same thing. It was an extremely useful method of navigating a text when I was a student, and remains so now that I’m a critic. I often can’t even remember what the thing I’m looking for *is*, only where I can find it in the geography of the book (approximately this far from the front cover, approximately this far down the left or right hand page, etc.). Spatial cues can be incredibly important to learning and memory, and ebooks eliminate them completely.

  11. Dann sed:

    And lately, it seems that E-books are more cost-effective.

    Than library borrows?

  12. Lis Carey, crossed fingers for your apartment!

    I like books. I like dead-tree books, but I’m getting older and I really, really like adjustable-sized fonts, so my Kobo has become my primary reading source.

    And because I’m nervous about my ebooks being repossessed or changed (c.f. Amazon and 1984 — it’s not paranoia if it’s actually happened!) I have a backup of my library on my own computer, and an offsite backup, just in case. So I try to avoid buying DRM books; not because I want to do anything nefarious with them (I want authors to be PAID, so they keep writing!) but because I want control.

  13. Personally I prefer ink and paper. My eyes are getting older, and I find it easier to read ink and paper books. I’m also a collector, so I like having the physical books around, even though my storage unit is filling up! Other people have other preferences, and if I travelled more, I would consider carrying an e-reader. But for my everyday commute, 2-3 books in my bag work just fine.

    But the biggest plus for regular books, for me, is author signing. I went to Ann Leckie’s signing for PROVENANCE, and brought my copies of the Imperial Radch trilogy as well, and she signed and personalized all of them!

    How do you get an author to sign a copy of an e-book?

  14. @Steve Davidson: I don’t think of (most of) those freebies as being the “manager’s special/must sell before it spoils” bin, but as “the first one’s free,” handing out samples, though the samples are usually larger than the bite of food or three sips of a beverage that are offered at the grocery store.

    Sometimes that’s enough to make me think “I like this, I will buy some,” and sometimes I’m glad to discover that I don’t like the thing in question without buying a half gallon. How many people would take home a half gallon of, say, watermelon juice from Trader Joe’s because they liked the watermelon juice they had years ago on another continent, or just like watermelon, I don’t know. TJ’s clearly thinks it’s worth giving people a couple of ounces to taste.

    When the budget is tight, I’m not paying ten or twenty dollars for a book I know nothing about; lacking samples, I’m likely to see what’s available at the library, even if I have to wait for the new books by authors I already know I like.

    @Harold Osler: This may be a disability issue (if walking around a bookstore is physically draining), or a time-and-energy issue. Sometimes I enjoy wandering around bookstores, but if someone only has an hour or two a week to spare for recreational reading, does she want to spend half of it in the process of buying the book? I may browse if I don’t know what I want to read: if I want a specific book, and the bookstore is out of the way, ordering online or by phone saves time for actually reading.

    Similar reasoning applies to people whose schedules don’t match the bookstore’s, and the parent who can’t count on their child to keep quiet long enough for them to find and buy a book. Sometimes I want to walk into Pandemonium or Porter Square Books and see what catches my eye; other times I want to go to the library, Powell’s, or Amazon website and see whether they have a specific book I’m thinking of. (Library ebooks can also be instant gratification.)

  15. @Beth in MA

    John Scalzi signed the back of my Nook. I’m not sure it lasted very long, but it sure was fun!


  16. Paper vs. e-books: I was a very long holdout for the sensual pleasure of hard-copy novels. But you know what? When I opened my life to e-books, I actually started reading again. Because the shape of my life had changed, and the place in it where fiction reading could happen worked a lot better with an iPad than a paperback. And for me that was the kicker. In that period when e-books were becoming a thing but I hadn’t tried them, I was barely reading anything. And I’d rather be reading.

  17. Moving my parents out of their house and into my house last summer (due to health issues that prohibit them from living on their own) caused me to start purging my collections (rather than make my own children dispose of all my crap some day). 3 longboxes of comics, gone. Several boxes of paperbacks that I’m never going to reread, gone. $600 of RPG stuff (about three to four boxes), gone. The remaining stuff is highly curated: you have to be one of my favorites to get purchased in hard copy. I just don’t have the space anymore to store books that I’ll read once, maybe twice, over the course of the rest of my lifetime. Storing that sort of read on my phone reduces the clutter and simplifies my legacy.

  18. An e-reader gives me crisp, clear letters in the size I want – no small, badly-printed letters on a paperback page. I don’t have to force open a paperback spine (or worry that the book will disintegrate because I’ve bent the spine too much.) I don’t have to use two hands to hold a heavy doorstopper. I can lay on my side when reading in bed, something that’s plain impossible with a book. I find the Kindle screen to be less glaring and wakeup-inducing than turning on the bedside lamp.

    My Kindle currently holds around 700 items. Bookshelf space for a similar number of books would require a bigger apartment. Bringing enough books for a vacation is also vastly easier. DRM or not, I feel more confident in my ability to keep my ebooks files “forever” than in keeping my paper books around. While serious water damage would be a bigger deal on an e-reader than with a single p-book, I worry less about a few raindrops on the Kindle cover or screen than on a paper book.

    I see some advantages with paper books – but overall, I’m totally sold on this new hitech ebook thing.

    Harold Osler:

    some of the e-book advocates seem to feel like e-books will suddenly vanish and then where will they be?

    Actually, the only people here who’ve expressed a fear that “e-books will suddenly vanish” are p-book advocates.

    Anyway: I don’t fear e-books going away in the sense that I can’t buy any e-books. But I fear publishers not taking the format seriously.

    Due to silly bureaucracy and lazy, cowardly politicians, e-books are subject to VAT in Norway while p-books are exempt. Coupled with international competition for readers like me, this almost completely kills the market share for e-books in Norwegian. I’ve read reviews and wanted to read that book, then found there’s no e-book edition. I’ve had one case where the e-book failed to important typography. So yes, I fear disregard of e-books can make it difficult for me to get the e-books I want.

  19. My experience is the same as Heather Rose Jones’–ebooks got me back in the habit of reading books again. Especially with Kindle books being shared across devices, I can be reading a book at home on my ereader, then pick it up on my phone if I have, say, an unexpectedly long wait at the doctor’s office or the bank. It made books fit into my life better.

    (I generally don’t carry a purse and try to lug around as little as possible. So while one could do that with physical books, it wasn’t going to happen for me.)

  20. Looked at that theMystery.Doc book at the library recently. My first thought on lifting it off the shelf was “I could bash in a skull with this.” Over 1600 pages. Browsed a few pages. Lots of white space, lot of visual elements. My guess is there’s maybe a normal novel’s worth of actual text in it. Not something I think would work well in ebook, even allowing it -might- work in print.

    I always buy heavily visual books (cookbooks, the SPECTRUM art books, etc) in hardcopy, rather than ebook.

  21. Regarding books, e-books, and memory retention…

    I wonder if the found lesser retention on e-books is related to the ‘Boundary Effect’ or ‘Doorway Effect’ where people are less likely to remember what they were immediately going to do after passing through a doorway into a different room, due to effectively resetting their local context. The physical act of turning a page may represent such a psychological boundary, and the fact that you have to mentally hold onto the context across that boundary while turning the page may press the information a little more firmly into memory than might otherwise happen.

    Sure, entirely guesswork, but I can’t be the only one who ever got distracted while turning a page in a book, and then had to turn back to remember what the heck was going on.

  22. Anecdata about ebooks vs paper vs me:

    1. While I don’t read in the bathtub I have been caught in the rain while carrying books of both kind in less-than-waterproof bags. The Kobo H2O (as the name suggests – a waterproof ereader) came through the experience in better shape than any of the paper books.

    2. I am currently reading the Broken Earth trilogy (I have given up on socks – they ain’t ever coming back down). A few days ago I was on public transport when I hit the end of The Obelisk Gate. A few short taps of the screen later I was into chapter one of The Stone Sky. When I finish that, Vallista is all ready to go and I have several year’s best anthologies to dip into if I feel the need for something shorter but my bag is still mostly empty and my back unstrained.

    3. I first came to realise I needed glasses while reading in bed. With the room light off so Mrs Dalliard could sleep, I couldn’t focus properly on the text by the dimmer lamp light. With a paper book I would have had to give up and go to sleep.* I turned up the font size and kept going.

    4. Some ebooks do have horrible, horrible formatting issues. So do some paper books. Sometimes the problems are bad enough they can throw me out of the text. With an ebook and Calibre I can fix those problems.

    5. Comics. The iPad has a wider colour gamut than ink on paper. Saga is gorgeous on paper, it’s better on screen. I haven’t bought a paper comic in years

    * Absolutely not an option. (Implied Spaces by Walter Jon Williams in case you’re wondering.)

  23. I’ve moved too many times to justify anything but ebooks for my go-to reading, but I still get hardcover of my favorite authors and releases.

    But every time I get a physical book, I end up regretting not having it electronic at some point. I love the brand-new-physical-release reading experience, but inevitably when I want to re-read it on a trip or something a year later what I actually want is the electronic version.

    I’m actually kind of surprised that publishers are not including a redeemable ebook code with new hardcovers. Blu-rays come with digital versions and I buy more of them as a result.

  24. I love physical books, but ebooks are easier on my hands now, and adjustable fonts are easier on my eyes. Also, I no longer have either my large physical collection, or any place to put it. Even my new apartment, assuming nothing goes wrong tomorrow, is a studio.

    But paper is permanence. We have bound codex books 1500 years old. Bound books on low-acid paper are what you want for your best shot at true archival permanence.

    Cassy, thanks.

  25. @Chip:

    thanks for finding the reference; I own the book but wouldn’t have thought to look there for the story.

    No problem; I recently reread N-Space, so it was fresh in my mind.


    For fiction, DRM really doesn’t bother me. Sure, DRM might cut off access to a book sometime in the future, but paperbacks also had a limited life span in my collection.

    Makes sense. I’ve got paperbacks that I bought decades ago that I’m just finding the time to read, so I’d hate to obtain an ebook and find out some years hence that I can’t read it.

    As far as the general question of ebook vs paperback (or hardback) they each have advantages. I certainly know how it is to remember that a particular passage was about a quarter of the way in, top of the right hand side, which is a lot easier to go back to find in a physical book, but on the other hand, I can search for a particular word electronically pretty quickly too. I find that books that I expect to need to page back and forth in work better in a physical book than an ebook, but for (say) reading in line at the airport, an ebook is terrific (and I can load it up with the Gutenberg collections of Sheckley, Tenn, Smith, and a half dozen Uncannys and go on the road with that which could be awkward in paper). For trips out of town, I’m the kind of guy who packs books before clothes, and even with an ereader, I still do (for one thing, there are some facilities that don’t let me take an electronic device inside, but a paperback can go anywhere). Also, in a physical book, I can check off which stories in an anthology I’ve read (on a sticky note posted in the TOC, not on the book itself!), while in an ebook, it’s a little harder to keep track, which leads me to read the stories in sequence, which is not always what I’d prefer. So I’m delighted to live in a world where I can use both formats to suit me, recognizing that some folks will prefer a different mix that suits them.

  26. I’m mystified by the people who say they prefer paper, why?

    Paper will never become obsolete.

    If I misplace a paper book, it only costs a few dollars to replace it – I have absentmindedly left a few books on the bus, and they were easy to replace. Not so much with an expensive e-reader.

    My attention wanders when I am reading a book on a screen. Yes, I read articles on the internet, but those are shorter and my mind doesn’t drift when reading them. I often struggle to complete my Hugo short form reading for this exact reason, and because of that I try to read the finalists in paper form if possible.

    Retention of material read on e-readers is often terrible, and for me especially so.

    I like paper. I like the feel of turning pages. I like seeing physically how far I am through a book. I like bookmarks.

  27. Ryan H: But every time I get a physical book, I end up regretting not having it electronic at some point.

    I don’t know if this helps you, but you can buy many of the e-books to go with your physical book purchases from Amazon through Kindle MatchBook.

    Similarly, the audiobooks to go with the Kindle e-books you buy are frequently available at a deep discount via Audible Matchmaker.

  28. @Daniel P. Dern: that might be the oldest cite for a technomagical pointer (I wouldn’t assume that neither Wells nor Verne had anything), but there are plenty of them — even some unintentional, like the psi-sensitive cylinders (try saying that 3 times quickly!) that picked up the imprinter’s desire to be out of a certain place in a Mark Clifton story.
    wrt e-books: note that library borrows don’t always work; I’ve had several recommendations here that weren’t findable in the Massachusetts-wide catalog, and (if I read the response correctly) at least one suggested purchase turned down. And (as noted) some people like to own the books; among other things, it means they can be consulted any time, where library fetching takes days. (I know; I’ve been doing a lot of it recently as I’m out of space to keep books accessibly.)
    I get e-books when there’s no print copy, or a much longer library queue for the print copy; touchscreens don’t seem to respond to my subaverage-dexterity fingers as I’d like them to. I don’t buy them because I’ve already shown that my cheap tablet can’t hold many (I had to reduce a guidebook to critical parts to fit it in with no other books on) and doesn’t play well with other systems; I’m reluctant to drop the money on a better one.

  29. I like my e-reader. It’s not backlit, so I can read at night without causing sleep disturbances, and I can carry a library in my purse or on trips without causing back issues. Until fairly recently, insufficient difference in price was the only thing that would prompt me to go for paper over pixels for fiction, but then I noticed I found difficult books – literary density, taxing subject matter, very long books – much easier to read as a physical book. There is something about the tangible evidence that I am making progress that increases the progress I make. Plus, my retention is better, which doesn’t matter when I’m reading fluff but very much does matter if I’m reading more challenging work.

    Count me as very pro Murderbot. As soon as I finished it, I started a re-read. I also really loved her Fall of Ile-Rien books and was sad that the Raksura series didn’t work for me.

    Oh, and whoever recommended Strange Practice, which I’m almost certain was someone here, has my deep gratitude. It was such a kind book and just what I needed this week.

  30. Ebooks make reading a wide range of recent SFF an accessible hobby for me, so I’m very happy my Kindle exists and can pluck books out of the ether from anywhere with a Wifi signal. I’ve never noticed a difference in my reading retention between formats (though that’s not to say it doesn’t exist) and while I do still take paper books on holiday, I’m generally also carrying too much scuba diving gear to also fit the required number of novels. Also, I have a very snazzy galaxy themed case and a bunch of 3D sea animal stickers around the border, so I like to think it’s about as stylish as a Kindle can get (it’s not).

    That said, I now consider paper books – and the act of shopping for them in actual buildings – a massive treat, and I notice myself appreciating the look and feel of the ones I do have much more. Yesterday I picked out my copy of The Heart Goes Last (the Virago press reprint) and ended up just sort of gently stroking the pages instead of getting much reading done – so soft and silky! And the page layouts are pretty and the cover is great and I can admire it in full colour whenever I want, so all of those are really nice add-ons to the reading experience which are different to the benefits of Kindle.

    My other gripe with the Kindle specifically: the more I upload onto it, the more I find myself frustrated the software – collections and reading lists are hard and laborious to organise, getting non-Amazon documents from Calibre onto the machine only seems to work half the time, and my device currently hates connecting to my home wifi making the download process really irritating most of the time. I suspect most of the problems are just because it’s had almost three years of heavy use and constant humidity (the paper books succumb to the effects of that too!) but I still have infuriating feeling that I’m accepting a substandard product just because Amazon is such a convenient monopoly that it knows I probably won’t leave it…

  31. @Andrew,
    I’ve got paperbacks that I bought decades ago that I’m just finding the time to read, so I’d hate to obtain an ebook and find out some years hence that I can’t read it.

    We definitely have different reading habits then. I don’t think I’ve ever had a pile of unread books. I buy one or a few, I read them, I buy some more.

    I do have old paperbacks, but most of them survived moves and purges because they were favorites. When I encounter an ebook like that, I’ll often pick up a physical copy, usually a hardback these days. My favorite novel of all*, I own in four formats: the paperback I bought 30 years ago, a second paperback I bought at a used book store for loaning to friends, a hardback first edition, and an ebook. Pretty sure I won’t ever lose access to that novel.

  32. To me my Kindle has meant I can read the latest Peter F Hamilton door stopper on my commute while still having enough space in my backpack for the work laptop (all 2.5kg/5.5lb of it) My retention of what I’m reading is still easily good enough to refind my place in different copy if sync to furthest page read doesn’t work for some reason, or in a physical copy.

    I still do browse in book shops and will buy physical books if it makes sense to do so due to price or availability.

  33. Up until last week, I was very much on the physical book side of the debate. Then we had to do a sudden move, and boxing then carrying boxes of books down a flight of stairs, and up there flights of stairs absolutely wrecked me. I don’t feel secure in my living situation anymore- I don’t want to have to take days to pack things if need be.

    Also, with the wildfires up north, I’m seeing the advantage of being able to shove a single reader into my pack along with a charger and batteries, and flee within minutes. I don’t want to see my library burn and be left with nothing.

  34. @August I tried to find the paper referred to in that article, “Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds” (The Guardian, August 19, 2014), but I looked at the researcher’s publications, and it seems it never got printed. My guess would be that journals wanted to see a comparison with experienced users of Kindles, of which she only had three in her study.

    So I would say that the claim that people who read Kindles don’t retain information as well is not proven.

  35. By the way, you don’t lose your books if you lose your Kindle. You just buy a new Kindle, sync it with Amazon, and, presto! all your books are still there.

    In fact, I run the Kindle app on my phone too, so if I’m stuck waiting somewhere, I can just open the book I was reading at home. It’ll find my place, and I just keep on reading. I wouldn’t want to read on the phone for very long, but it’s a great way to pass 15 or 20 minutes. When I get home and open the book on my Kindle Voyage, it knows I was reading on the phone and updates my place.

    As far as sharing goes, Eric and I are registered as a household, so we both have full access to all the books either of us buys. We can both be reading the same book at the same time with no problem.

    I don’t notice any real difference in the actual reading experience between paper and eBook. I get immersed in either, and the rest of the world goes away. But I very much like that I can press on an unfamiliar word on the Kindle and get a dictionary definition, a translation, or even a Wikipedia lookup. And if I find the name of a character I’ve forgotten about, I can search inside the book (or even across all my books) to find other references to the person. Usually just a dozen words from the person’s first reference is all I need. This is especially useful when reading volume 2 a year or more after you read volume 1.

    As someone else mentioned, it’s a lot easier if your eyesight is failing because you can easily change the point size. I do that whenever I’m somewhere I can’t use my reading glasses.

    Others have talked about the big advantages on plane trips, and I’ll echo that. Also, I’ve found that the Kindle Voyage is lighter than even most paperbacks, and quite comfortable to read with one hand.

    I was initially skeptical–I only bought a Kindle because I had joined Amazon and wanted to at least be able to say I’d tried it–but the experience was so pleasant and the advantages were so great that the only paper books I’ve purchased since then were non-fiction books that weren’t available on the Kindle.

  36. @jayn Nice catch. Thanks!

    So I got a copy of the actual paper and read it. As The Guardian article said, the students were reading PDFs on LCD screens, not on Kindles. In the discussion at the end of the paper, the authors list lighting issues as a possible cause, and they mention the Kindle specifically. Another factor is that students who read on the screen had to juggle multiple windows to give answers. Students who read on paper didn’t have to do that. (No word on whether they were allowed to search inside the documents, though.)

    Even so, the results are very weak. As the paper says, the results supply support for the hypothesis that students do better reading from paper vs. screens. But it’s not definitive by any means, nor does it claim to be.

  37. Kindles will of course be a specific case, and are not synonymous with ebooks or ereaders (I have two ebook platforms, for instance, neither of which is a Kindle). My resistance to ebooks is a separate thing from the specific Kindle experience, as my resistance to the Kindle and Amazon is more about them being an execrable company and just an all-around corporate bad actor, and I have enough of those in my life that I can’t avoid; I’m not about to lock myself into the ecosystem of one that I can.

  38. I notice that no one has mentioned that Tony Rothman is the son of Philadelphia eofan Milton Rothman (founder of PSFS, attended the first convention, chaired two Worldcons, GoH at Bucconeer), and has written at least one pretty good novel himself.

  39. @Mark Olson: By the way, is SF author Chuck Rothman related to Milton Rothman? I realized the other day that I had always assumed that was true, but never known for sure.

  40. @NickP:

    We definitely have different reading habits then. I don’t think I’ve ever had a pile of unread books. I buy one or a few, I read them, I buy some more.

    A perfectly reasonable strategy. Years ago, I made the mistake of buying books at the usual rate, although my time for reading had declined. Thus, a TBR mountain.

  41. Andrew: If they’re related, it’s not closely. Looking at Chuck Rothman’s website, I’m pretty sure he would have mentioned both Milton and Tony if they were father and brother. And ‘Rothman’ is a pretty common name. A more distant relationship is of course quite possible.

  42. @Greg Hullender–

    So I got a copy of the actual paper and read it. As The Guardian article said, the students were reading PDFs on LCD screens, not on Kindles. In the discussion at the end of the paper, the authors list lighting issues as a possible cause, and they mention the Kindle specifically. Another factor is that students who read on the screen had to juggle multiple windows to give answers. Students who read on paper didn’t have to do that. (No word on whether they were allowed to search inside the documents, though.)

    LCD screens are a very different experience than reading on eInk screens. The Kindle Paperwhite and the Nook Simpletouch are eInk screens, far more like paper reading than on LCD screens. I’m not as familiar with Kobo, but I assume they have eInk readers as well. And it was the advent of eInk readers that initially led to e-books becoming truly commercially popular.

    Show me someone that compares retention from paper vs. eInk, and I’ll be interested.

  43. When I went through my major reading slump in grad school, I continued buying novels at the same rate because some of them might be hard to find years later when I caught up. Or I might forget entirely that I desperately wanted to read them. And now, of course, even though I’m reading fiction at a steady rate, it’s nowhere near the rate at which I buy. I still buy some series in hard copy simply for the sake of having a complete set in the same format.

  44. I have the Kindle application on my PC and in my Iphone and it just horrible. One of the lousiest GUIs I’ve seen with no good way to organize my books. Is it better if you buy a Kindle device? Because if it is not, it can’t be an alternative for me.

  45. @Hampus

    It’s a slightly-harder-to-use version of the iPad/iOS app. Easily the worst thing about Kindles is the software. The hardware is pretty good, the software makes me want to throw things.

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