Announcement (once again from The Unofficial Apple Weblog) of yet another dedicated ereader device, this one to be sold by Borders.
Over on The Unofficial Apple Weblog, writer–and reader–Michael Grothaus compares reading a novel both in its traditional, printed format with reading it on the iPad. For his experiment he read alternating chapters of the same novel in paperback and in the iPad’s iBooks application. He also read each format in the kinds of situations in which one normally reads: at home, during his commute (on London’s tube), and at a park or cafe.
Grothaus’s treatment seems balanced and fair overall. However, as some commenters point out, if you’re a reader of new novels, you’re more often reading a hardcover book than a paperback, and that’s a significant difference when comparing the printed book and the iPad in terms of weight and of ease and comfort in handling.
I’d like to see someone carry out this same experiment using one of the other dedicated ereaders (e.g., Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s Ereader, or B & N’s nook) in place of the iPad. A comparison between the various forms of reading and the act of listening to an audiobook, particularly while commuting or driving, could also be informative. I won’t have time to try out any of these things for myself until I finish my dissertation, but if someone else carries out the experiment, I’d love to hear about it.
In a blog for the Christian Science Monitor Rebekah Denn asks, “Do you think Amazon is invading privacy by tracking which passages readers most often highlight on their Kindles?” What she says about the most-quoted books may surprise you, but don’t forget that the sample size here is quite small.
Even more interesting, I thought, is the question she asks about these notes in the margin: “Am I in the minority here, or do people highlight differently on an electronic reader than they do using neon markers on paper?”
For those of us whose heads are still spinning from trying to understand all the hoopla, both philosophical and financial, over pricing and distribution of ebooks, this article gets to the dollars and sense of the matter.
For example, on a hardcover book priced at $26, “the publisher is left with $4.05, out of which it must pay overhead for editors, cover art designers, office space and electricity before taking a profit.” For a $12.99 ebook, the publisher is left “with something ranging from $4.56 to $5.54, before paying overhead costs or writing off unearned advances.”
In fact, the industry is based on the understanding that as much as 70 percent of the books published will make little or no money at all for the publisher once costs are paid.
Some of these books are by writers who are experimenting with form or genre, or those who just do not have recognizable names. “You’re less apt to take a chance on an important first novel if you don’t have the profit margin on the volume of the big books,” said Lindy Hess, director of the Columbia Publishing Course, a program that trains young aspirants for jobs in the publishing industry. “The truth about this business is that, with rare exceptions, nobody makes a great deal of money.”
All of this explains, if nothing else, why publishers are no longer spending the money for copy editors to clean up all those annoying little errors that have become so prevalent in printed books.
The act of reading is going through a number of radical transitions, but perhaps none is more fundamental than the shift from reading on paper to reading on screens. As consumers decide whether to make this jump and which technology to use, one key question is how reading on a screen affects the eyes.
The whole recent news flurry over (1) the introduction of Apple’s new tablet computer, the iPad, and its potential as an ebook reader and (2) the price war between Amazon, maker of the Kindle, and publishers over the price of ebooks was too fast and furious even to try to keep up with.
But here’s a topic we should all take an interest in: How will reading ebooks affect our eyes? According to this article, the news isn’t bad, but you might want to check out these recommendations for avoiding eye strain.
As for reading ebooks, that’s one activity I personally plan to do until I go blind.
You’ve heard of Amazon.com’s Kindle. And you probably know that Apple is likely to introduce a tablet computer this year. Soon you may also be hearing about the Alex, the Que proReader and the IdeaPad U1 Hybrid.
Those products are part of a new wave of slender touch-screen tablets and electronic reading devices that dozens of companies, both well known and unknown, brought to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.
This article from the New York Times includes a three and a half minute video focusing on several new ebook readers under development around the world.
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A lot of the talk about digital reading devices has centered around their usefulness for textbook-toting students. Although the ability to carry a lot of hefty textbooks around on one much smaller device is a big plus, the drawback has been that the monochrome screens of current ereaders don’t allow for presentation of material that involves more than just text (i.e., illustrations, figures, tables). But, according to this article, all that may be changing:
Now there is a new approach that may adapt well to textbook pages: two-screen e-book readers with a traditional e-paper display on one screen and a liquid-crystal display on the other to render graphics like science animations in color.
Expect news of these new devices in January and February 2010 to compete with Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and the Sony Reader.
David Pogue, technology writer for the New York Times, reviews the Nook, which he says is astonishingly similar to the Amazon Kindle. He calls the Nook’s missing features “symptoms of B&N’s bad case of Ship-at-All-Costs-itis. But the biggest one of all is the Nook’s half-baked software.”
The Kindle and other electronic reading devices have already started to make their mark, but they may begin to change the very words authors commit to posterity. Lynn Neary talks to Rick Moody, Lev Grossman and Nicholas Carr about the way these devices are shaping the publishing world.
In the war between Amazon’s Kindle, the Sony Reader, and Barnes and Noble’s new Nook, here’s another contender: smartphones. Despite the miniscule screen, our phones are always with us, allowing us to read a bit now and then when waiting to meet someone or to have food delivered to our restaurant table. Apparently more and more people are now willing to trade off the larger screen of the dedicated ereaders for the convenience of the smartphone.
Here’s a run-down of some of the latest news in the continuing ebook wars:
E-Book Fans Keep Format in Spotlight: From The New York Times.
Nook from Barnes & Noble, available for preorder now.
Borders how has the Sony Reader available in several editions:
A New Electronic Reader, the Nook, Enters the Market: The New York Times‘s take on the new ereader from Barnes & Noble.
Related Post: Nation’s Retailers Engage In Online Book Pricing War
Earlier in the decade, before the so-called ‘tech bubble’ burst, then-Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan warned of ‘irrational exuberance’ in the stock market.
I feel the same way about electronic readers.
And I feel that articles like this miss the point. I have always been a fan of electronic book readers for their convenience and portability. But neither I nor most other ebook readers whom I know think that the ebook will completely replace books. I, too, love opening a brand new book. But when I’m traveling and can carry with me either 6 books or 1 Kindle, I’m going to choose the Kindle nearly every time.
How about you?