Wonderbooks

From Sony… a hybrid of game and reading, using print and the PS3. From Time:

The name of this work in progress is Wonderbooks. It’s an augmented reality book that works with the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Move accessories, with 12 pages of thick card stock on the inside that the Move’s camera can read. On-screen, users see an image of the book at their feet, with 3D imagery superimposed on top, and they can interact with the book using the Move motion controller.

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Makes Scents

I did a few talks about the dead book a couple of weeks ago and the audiences always seemed to return to that old faithful ‘but I love the smell of printed books.’ So I made the usual quips about scratch and smell and eau d’page. Well somebody’s done it. Erica Sadun writes:

Enter “Paper Passion“. Created by Geza Schoen, Gerhard Steidl, and Wallpaper magazine, with packaging designed jointly by Karl Lagerfeld and Steidl, the perfume offers a bouquet of “freshly printed books, the best smell in the world,” according to Lagerfeld.

Phew…

(via TUAW)

The Amazon Effect… (link)

Longread in The Nation by Steve Wasserman with an overview of the seismic shift in book publishing, with a particular Amazon focus. Good piece – for example:

The inexorable shift in the United States from physical to digital books poses a palpable threat to the ways publishers have gone about their business. Jason Epstein got it right two years ago when he wrote, “The resistance today by publishers to the onrushing digital future does not arise from fear of disruptive literacy, but from the understandable fear of their own obsolescence and the complexity of the digital transformation that awaits them, one in which much of their traditional infrastructure and perhaps they too will be redundant.”

 

Curious…

And I’m no retail CEO, but it strikes me that selling a device which is locked into someone else’s virtual retail space is akin to signing your own death warrant. I’m sure there’s a reason that Waterstone’s has done this deal, but at first blush, I don’t get it. From Richard Lea in The Guardian:

Monday morning and already it’s the end of the world. Instead ofteaming up with Barnes and Noble to cast out the “ruthless money-making devil” Amazon, a tired-looking James Daunt has pulled up a chair and supped with him, striking a deal to “launch new e-reading services and offer Kindle digital devices through its UK shops”. Is that what he meant when he talked about being “different from Amazon … [and] better“?

16/100

In a broader opinion piece surveying the changing landscape of business and innovation fromThomas Friedman in the New York Times, there was this snippet:

This is leading to an explosion of new firms and voices. “Sixteen of the top 100 best sellers on Kindle today were self-published,” said Bezos. That means no agent, no publisher, no paper — just an author, who gets most of the royalties, and Amazon and the reader.

The (next) Library of Utopia

Nicholas Carr on Harvard’s latest attempt at a universal online library in Technology Review:

It sounds straightforward. And if it were just a matter of moving bits and bytes around, a universal online library might already exist. Google, after all, has been working on the challenge for 10 years. But the search giant’s book program has foundered; it is mired in a legal swamp. Now another momentous project to build a universal library is taking shape. It springs not from Silicon Valley but from Harvard University. The Digital Public Library of America—the DPLA—has big goals, big names, and big contributors.

Pew – the Rise of E-Reading

Latest surveys from Pew in the US. As well as an increase in the number of adults who have read an e-book (from 17% to 21% from December to February), this nugget:

Those who read e-books read more books than those who don’t have the devices: The average reader of e-books says she has read 24 books (the mean number) in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by a non-e-book consumer.

Of course, p is still bigger than e, but the number of e-book readers is growing fast – and we read more 🙂

Amazon v the High Street

Tim Waterstone in the Guardian on how Amazon is killing (his) bookstores:

No trader has ever been so successful in its concentration on consumer pricing – all this impervious, of course, to the broader considerations of the overall welfare of the industries in which it is operating. It’s all so simple. Make and build your brand on a reputation for absolutely rock-bottom pricing. Do this single-mindedly and ruthlessly. Even say it upfront, insultingly and aggressively, in your advertising – go, Mr Consumer, go to Harrods or wherever it is, inspect and admire the goods, then come home and buy them from us. Online. At a deep, deep discount. And fuck Harrods or whoever it is for their trouble. More fool them. And more fool Waterstones.

Of course, just like similar debates in the music business, there are those who think that the existing industry needs a whole lot of shaking up, and that “the welfare of the industries in which it is operating” is less important than the welfare of customers – and authors – for whom there may be different ways of doing things…

Rose coloured Glasses

I’ve often said that we remember the past through rose coloured glasses; that there never were golden ages of literature where everybody read widely before they were distracted by television, and then the internet. Here’s some more data (from a piece in The Atlantic) that confirms that view:

Check out these stats from Gallup surveys. In 1957, not even a quarter of Americans were reading a book or novel. By 2005, that number had shot up to 47 percent. I couldn’t find a more recent number, but I think it’s fair to say that reading probably hasn’t declined to the horrific levels of the 1950s.

All this to say: our collective memory of past is astoundingly inaccurate. Not only has the number of people reading not declined precipitously, it’s actually gone up since the perceived golden age of American letters. 

Children’s and YA are driving eBook growth

The Association of American Publishers has released its January 2012 data and whilst ebook sales are clearly climbing dramatically overall (+49.4% year on year), the biggest growth is in Children’s and Young Adult titles:

While Children’s/Young Adult physical format Hardcover and Paperback both saw strong double-digit growth (68.9% and 61.9% respectively), AAP’s first monthly data on Children’s/YA eBooks showed a massive +475.1% increase from 2011 to 2012. Some publishers have attributed this to the availability of more options for devices aimed at those demographics as well as a number of popular new releases.