Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

The Book vs The Kindle

Funny set of videos put together by Green Apple Books extolling the virtues of printed books over the kindle. As the Deeplink blog suggests:

It’s great to see a bookstore remind us of the advantages that paper books still have over digital ones. That said, bookstores should not simply hope that digital books will go away any time soon.

(via Boing Boing)

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The view from New York(er)

Nice, long piece in the New Yorker, based on a long-term test drive of kindle. Nicolas baker shares my concerns:

The problem was not that the screen was in black-and-white; if it had really been black-and-white, that would have been fine. The problem was that the screen was gray. And it wasn’t just gray; it was a greenish, sickly gray. A postmortem gray. The resizable typeface, Monotype Caecilia, appeared as a darker gray. Dark gray on paler greenish gray was the palette of the Amazon Kindle…

After several thousand words, one of his conclusions is this:

But, fortunately, if you want to read electronic books there’s another way to go. Here’s what you do. Buy an iPod Touch (it costs seventy dollars less than the Kindle 2, even after the Kindle’s price was recently cut), or buy an iPhone, and load the free “Kindle for iPod” application onto it..

Go read…

More on Barnes and Noble…

From PC World:

The eBookstore, launched Monday, offers 700,000 titles according to Barnes & Noble’s press release, but in a conference call after the release went out, Barnes & Noble clarified that it includes Google’s 500,000 free public domain books as part of that number. That means for now, Amazon’s Kindle store has the edge: It offers more than 300,000 titles. As on Amazon’s Kindle store, the Barnes & Noble eBookstore will offer new releases and bestsellers at $9.99. Barnes says it expects its selection to increase to over one million titles over the course of the next year, including e-books from established publishers, independent direct-to-e-book publishers, and Google.

More interesting is the partnership with Plastic Logic – the B&N kindle killer:

The Plastic Logic eReader device will be 8.5 by 11 inches, with a wireless connection—making it a direct threat to Amazon’s Kindle DX (also about the size of a sheet of paper, with wireless, and integrated Amazon Kindle bookstore). The on-device bookstore integration is a critical component of the puzzle.

Nicer looking than kindle anyway 🙂

iphone – ebook bits and pieces

You might remember a post flagging the possibility from a few months ago – well, Barnes and Noble have released their ereader application (itunes link). A not very positive review is here. It is available on the Australian itunes store, which is interesting and I’ll give it a go when I have time – to see what regional restrictions apply to purchasing content.

I noticed the app in the app store when I was browsing for books and also noticed that Random House have released some books as iphone apps, rather than content for a reader. (James Paterson example here -itunes link). Sort of works at a couple of dollars, but at $15.99 I want to be able to easily lend my airport blockbuster to my partner when I’ve finished reading it.

I also found some tips on getting kindle titles outside the US, and whilst I haven’t tried the entire process, I did find that free kindle titles work fine. So I’m currently reading Chris Anderson’s new title – ‘free’ 🙂

Big B(r)other

All over the web this morning is news that Amazon has reached out and deleted books already downloaded onto customers’ kindles. From David Pogue in the New York Times:

This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for—thought they owned.

Pogue goes on:

This is ugly for all kinds of reasons. Amazon says that this sort of thing is “rare,” but that it can happen at all is unsettling; we’ve been taught to believe that e-books are, you know, just like books, only better. Already, we’ve learned that they’re not really like books, in that once we’re finished reading them, we can’t resell or even donate them. But now we learn that all sales may not even be final.

If the industry continues to treat its customers like this, the idea of e-books just ain’t going to catch on. People want a better experience than print, not a worse one. And of course, the story wouldn’t have had the same resonance if the author in question wasn’t George Orwell. Really.

Skate to where the puck is going…

slightly tangential headline, but with all the brouhaha surrounding the Australian Productivity Commissions Report on Parallel Importation in the book industry, an interesting counterpoint from Elizabeth Farrelly in the Herald, basically suggesting that the debate is moving to a different place:

So, with all this fuss about parallel importation and the death of the local book industry, I’m wondering if the cat isn’t out of the bag and halfway onto the neighbour’s roof already…

In championing the advantages of electronic books and their place (or lack of) in the current debate, Farrelly seems to be the first SMH op-ed author (apart from yours truly) to go public in support of e-books!!:

Maybe it’ll change nothing. Maybe we faithful-as-a-sheepdog Aussies will go on spending our annual $2.4 billion in local bookshops. But me, the minute there’s a Kindle you can read in the bath, I’m gonna have me one. Even if I have to move to Mauritius to do it.

I reckon you can already read a Kindle in the bath – you just don’t want to drop it. Then again, maybe you do!! 🙂

Every Child gets a prize…

A couple of years after Kevin Rudd’s computer in every classroom promise come news of a US Democratic Party idea for a kindle for every schoolkid. According to Gizmodo:

The “New” Democratic Leadership Council in Washington has proposed that the government buy a Kindle or other “eTextbook” for each of the 56 million K-12 schoolchildren in America.

There’s a whole lot of reasons why this is a good idea (textbooks are heavy and expensive etc) and lots of reasons why this isn’t a good idea (Kindle still sux). I think politicians need to ask enlightened educators what they would like kids to *do* with laptops and kindles, and work from there. It’s not the device, stupid 🙂

Bringing back the Dead…

In a perfect example of digital technologies bringing the dead back to life, the world’s oldest bible, whose fragments have previously been scattered around the globe, has now be digitised and made available online. From ReadWriteWeb:

The Codex Sinaiticus is the oldest version of the Christian Bible in book form, and, according to many scholars, one of the world’s greatest written treasures. The actual leaves and fragments from the book are in the British Library in England, as well as in various archives in Germany and Russia, and the St. Catherine’s Monastery of Sinai, where the text was originally discovered. Starting today, however, anybody with access to an Internet connection and a modern browser can now see a virtual facsimile of the book online.

OUP on the Google Book Settlement

Nice piece in the Chronicle of Higher Ed from Tim Barton (president of Oxford Uni Press in the USA) in support of the Google Book settlement. Won’t go into the details of that here, but there’s a Jeff Jarvis line I use a bit  – print is where books go to die. Barton emphasises a corollary of that:

What once seemed at least debatable has now become irrefutable: If it’s not online, it’s invisible. While increasing numbers of long-out-of-date, public-domain books are now fully and freely available to anyone with a browser, the vast majority of the scholarship published in book form over the last 80 years is today largely overlooked by students, who limit their research to what can be discovered on the Internet.

(Via Clay Shirky)

Random House Australia gets on board Stanza

Random in Australia have just made Wil Anderson’s book “Survival of the Dumbest” available for free via Stanza. Details on Neelan’s blog. Good to see an Australian publisher dipping their toes in… I told my partner yesterday and she ended up downloading a load of books from Bookglutton instead 🙂

(Thanks Neelan)