Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Faber boss on ipad and ebooks

Stephen Page from Faber presents a publisher’s view of the ipad  in the Guardian. He (correctly) suggests that the ipad itself is not the revolution, but simply part of a much bigger movement:

Two shifts seem particularly apparent. The recent history of publishing has been dominated by the creation of mass-market success via booksellers and traditional media, not through a direct relationship with the reader. But new technology has challenged this. Digital publishing and marketing do not work to the rhythm of the trade and publishers need to respond to this. Second, the certainties of price in the print world, despite heavy discounting in the UK, have underpinned confidence in the creation of value for books. In the digital age these notions of value are yet to be established in relation to written works.

(via teleread)

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Twenty eight days with an iPad

On the eve of its Australian release, it’d be remiss of me if I didn’t take the opportunity to gloat a little and write a few words about how I feel about the iPad after close to a month of use. So here goes.

Firstly, I want to answer the question that everybody who doesn’t have one seems to ask. What’s it for? Of course, everyone will have a different experience, but there’s two things that I do regularly that together have made my iPad my most used device.

The first thing I do is go to a lot of meetings. Three or four a day, most of which have agendas and minutes that are sent around electronically. And for those meetings, the ipad is perfect. Almost – and I’ll get to that shortly. I use iAnnotate and sync the required papers, allowing me to quickly tab between minutes, agendas and working papers and making notes if I have to. Intriguingly, more than a few colleagues have commented positively about my iPad – with the key comment being that they appreciated the lack of a vertical screen between us (I used to lug around a Macbook to meetings). Who knew that laptop screens were considered so intrusive? Apologies for years of intrusion I guess. The only thing that prevents the iPad From being the perfect meeting machine is the fact that I can’t hide behind the screen and surreptitiously check my emails. Which probably explains the positive reactions!
The other thing I do is wind down of an evening over a beer and some trashy video entertainment. I’m a sucker for food shows but need to multitask whilst watching. I used to use my iphone for browsing the web etc, but the iPad really is the perfect couch computer. I’m reading – websites, tweets, magazines (zinio – and can’t wait to download the new Wired app in the morning when my broadband plan goes off-peak again!). And there’s even the odd work article – journal drafts, green papers etc. And books. but I’ll get to that.
In short, the ipad has replaced paper for me. At least as much as any device currently can. Its where I do almost all of my reading. Apart from its general ‘readyness’ (you hardly wait for things to start, or load, or happen) the iPad’s killer app is battery life, which, amazingly, is as good as advertised. I can easily get through a day without even thinking about conserving power. Of course it does a whole bunch of other stuff (just ask the kids about games, video, music, drawing etc) but instead of printing, I sync to iPad.

So to books, which is probably what readers of this blog are interested in. And a confession. I haven’t yet read an entire book on my iPad. I’ve got a few, mostly epubs I hadn’t yet read and I’m well into a couple of titles. But not yet all the way through. Which might be of some concern given my public stance on matters ebook.
There is nothing wrong with reading books on the iPad, and I will finish a book soon. Promise. but a part of me wonders if the distractions of a convergent device are stopping me from focussing. Maybe and if so, as the novelty wears off, then I may get more book reading done. But the iPad is not yet (for me) the perfect ebook reader. IBooks is pretty good (yes the bookstore needs more titles, but that’ll come) I love the side by side layout when you turn the iPad to landscape but its typography is not totally convincing. And when the text is sized up, you do notice the jaggies which you don’t on an iPhone because the screen is so much smaller. And it could do with some tweaking of bookmarks and annotation. But all that’s just software and will come. And given that there’s Kindle and (soon) Borders for the ipad, the ebook scene is looking pretty promising.

The bigger issue I have with the iPad as an ebook reader is its size. Whilst it’s perfect for magazines, newspapers and websites, it’s just a bit too big for books. A little too bulky and heavy to get really comfortable for a long period of time, to become totally immersed. I suspect a case might help (it’s a slippery bugger naked) and I’ll probably get used to it. And there’s even the chance that I just need a more compelling book to read!! But for the moment, I’m keen on an in between device. Bigger than an iPhone and smaller than an iPad. Sort of kindle sized in screen and overall mass.
I think the ipad is way better than the kindle in every way but that one. The kindle seems to be a more natural size for reading books. Having said that I haven’t read an entire book on the family kindle yet either 🙂
So that’s my first four weeks. My iPad hasn’t totally replaced my Macbook, nor has it totally replaced my iphone. But it does a little of both better than either of them. If you’re lining up on Friday morning and you’re anything at all like me, you won’t regret it.

Colour Kindle still a way off… apparently

From Engadget, a report on Jeff Bezos’ speech at Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting. For kindle users hoping for colour to compete with the iPad (etc…) here’s the killer quote:

In addressing concerns that LCD-based tablets may seem more attractive due to their ability to showcase color images and video, he noted that developing color electronic ink remains a challenge, and while he’s seen things “in the laboratory,” the prototypes are simply “not ready for prime-timeproduction.” He also stated that these lust-worthy, mythical displays were “a long way out,” but that the Kindle would remain focused as a dedicated e-reader moving forward.

A post-publishing experiment from Neal Stephenson

Snowcrash defined a lot of things for me when I was quite a lot younger than I am now, and it appears that its author, Neal Stephenson, is still doing interesting stuff. Together with a few buddies, he’s announced a series of ipad/iphone/android/kindle apps that “will be something of an experiment in post-book publishing and storytelling.” Whatever that means. We’ll find out in a few days 🙂

via TUAW

Quick Links

A couple of quick links to break the too busy-to-post drought. From The New Yorker a little while back, a piece on ipad, kindle etc. Choice quote :

Asked to describe her foremost concern, Carolyn Reidy, of Simon & Schuster, said, “In the digital world, it is possible for authors to publish without publishers. It is therefore incumbent on us to prove our worth to authors every day.”

(via Daring Fireball)

And this from today’s Sydney Morning Herald:

The Australian Publishers Association said more competitive pricing will feed the appetite for e-books but that the death of the paperback has been overstated.

”There is an incredible amount of hype surrounding the e-book – it’s just another channel to market,” said the association’s CEO, Maree McCaskill. ”The best predictions around the world are that for at least the next 10 years it will be 30 per cent e-book and 70 per cent print [market share].”

WikiPediaBooks…

News that wikipedia’s book compilation service is now widely available after having been in limited release for a while:

Users can create the book without leaving Wikipedia. A “create a book” button has been added in the print/export section of Wikipedia‘s left navigation sidebar that brings them to the book creator. When you browse the site, you can add articles to the book by clicking the “Add the Page” button.

Users can then arrange the order of the articles, choose a cover photo and
give the book its title and an editor‘s name. The price of the unique books depends on the number of pages and starts at $8.90. Books are ready for shipment within two working days.

If you go to the book creator page, you can also download the compiled book as a pdf. Interesting…
(vida TechCrunch)

I love this…

Don’t you love it when the big guns start blazing. For years, the e-book space was the domain of those companies you’d never heard of. Lots of them did great work, but you knew that the big time was only going to happen when there was commitment from companies that want to rule the world. First Amazon, then Google, then Apple, now Google again with its entry into the paid-for books domain. From the BBC:

Search giant Google is set to launch its own online e-book store in 2010.

Google Editions books will allow people to download e-books to a range of devices

The Amazon Kindle is linked to books from the company’s own store and similarly with Apple’s iBookstore.

“It is a different approach to what most readers today have and the vision is to be able to access books in a device agnostic way,” said Google spokesperson Gabriel Sticker.

This is great news for all those who bought the iRiver Story from Harvey Norman the other week and might have been wondering where to get their books. But it’s also good news for ipad users – who in all likelihood will be able to access titles from all the big guys. Despite the tone of the BBC piece, Amazon’s kindle store is right there on the Apple device already and hopefully the google store will  be too… 24 months ago, there was no decent integrated ebook ecosystem. Now they’re breeding like flies. Bring it on 🙂