Posts Tagged ‘ipad’

Men Don’t Read! (but they do!)(but boys don’t!)(and what about that Ipad?)

May 5, 2010

well, I guess when you essentially disappear from the blogosphere for a week you tend to miss things like the dust-up caused by Jason Pinter’s article about men not reading any more (except they do!) and Laura Miller saying  not to blame the feminine editors, men just don’t want to work low paying jobs while Will Weaver sneaks a little article in about how young men don’t have many options in the library (except for his own book, of course, geared towards boys, which he mentions repeatedly).

I can’t say I buy Pinter’s argument at all. For one, he seems to be calling for more crappy writing geared towards men. I don’t really care who is lining up for Tucker Max. He is not a good writer. He’s entertaining for guys the same way Kathleen Woodiwiss is entertaining for women. And while I’m sure Jericho has led an interesting life, getting more guys to read celebrity bios doesn’t seem like a great goal.

I also don’t buy Miller’s argument, what there is of one. It’s more of a plea not to blame women for being editors while slamming guys for taking jobs that pay better.

Weaver is the one I would put money on for being on the right track. And I know from experience. I have a six year old boy who is a voracious reader who is running out of material to read. There isn’t any. And not just because the majority of it is geared towards girls (though it is) but because there literally just isn’t a lot out there for his reading stage where he’s getting past needing pictures and what is out there is crap. Or geared almost exclusively for girls. Going to the library is grueling. Thank god for Bunnicula lately. And, apparently, Carl Sandburg (who knew the kid would be a fan of rutabegas?).

By the time guys get old enough to buy books the publishing world has already lost them. Their reading experience has likely sucked and they haven’t even taken the necessary courses in high school to be prepared to read serious fiction. And Miller is wondering why more guys aren’t becoming editors? Not surprising considering their test scores on reading/writing when they were younger and how fewer of them are going to college in general.

And, no, it won’t matter if the Kindle is marketed differently. Apple markets the Ipad as an Apple product, occasionally mentioning the few things it does (and here’s a review of the keyboard dock so it can be at least a marginally functional piece of tech). throw the Apple logo on Kindle’s and they’ll sell like crazy. Well, even more crazy than they were selling before.

You want guys to read? Take a lesson from Big Tobacco and Alcohol: Get Them While They Are Young.

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Apple IPad – hands-on

April 25, 2010

I finally got my grubby little mitts on an IPad yesterday. It’s a cute little thing. Very light, pretty comfortable. Found some of the controls awkward. Tried typing, which was alright but only comfortable when done one-handed. My complain with it is pretty much the same, though: a lack of use/functionality.

Give it a stylus and I think it would excel as a notepad. It’s size is perfect for even tiny desks and it weighs next to nothing. Instead of having the ruffled pages of a couple of notebooks crammed into a backpack, this thing could be a wonderful substitute.

But beyond notetaking, it seems pretty limited. It’s not overly powerful, it doesn’t have even a USB connector and to set it up with an actual keyboard and what not you have to go out and buy a bunch of accessories.

What it seems to be targeted at is stuff like Kindle and the Nook, devices which have also drawn my ire. As a media viewer, it’s nearly ideal. The screen is a good size for personal viewing, very bright and, after a fwe minutes of acclimation, the system was easy to navigate. I didn’t have a problem with text, though I think Kindle still has a better screen, but I’ve also never had much of a problem reading off a computer screen for long periods of time so I might not be the best judge for that.

So I guess my question comes down to do you want to spend that kind of money just to watch/read downloaded content? I’ve already made taht decision regarding the Kindle and other e-readers – it’s just not worth it to me.

The device I’m still curious about is the Lenovo U1 Hybrid. Significantly more expensive base price than the Ipad (though similar prices when all of the accessories for IPad are bought) but with more function built into it.

Amazon Upping EBook Prices and Babs in New York

April 1, 2010

Quick blog, noticed a couple of news stories about Amazon upping prices on their ebooks. It’s clearly in response to people going (undeservedly) gaga over the ipad and the various deals publishers have been cutting with Apple. I’m still not a fan over the overly expensive dedicated ereaders but I’m also not a fan of the very underwhelming ipad. Also, the ebook thing is still pretty boring. Just the equivilant of .doc files that have been around forever. Until we start seeing more texts taking advantage of the opportunities the format can really give you (think the equivalent of footnotes or author commentary taken to bizarre extremes with embedded links, pics, etc. Still, for everyone who is into the ebook thing right now, strike while you can because the prices are going up. Thanks to Apple and their mediocre attempt at a tablet.

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I’ve never been a big Barbara STreisand fan but I’ve also never had anything against her. What I don’t understand, though, is why she’s headlining  reception at this year’s book expo america.  Never really followed the Book Expo America before but it just seems like maybe they could have picked someone more literary.

Atwood,Rushdie, IPad Stuff, Australia and some other bits

March 23, 2010

Margaret Atwood was the recipient of $1 million from The Dan David Prize. Beyond the ten percent she is required to share through Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Scholarships, she is sharing the prize money with another writer, Amitav Ghosh.

Salman Rushdie has archives on display at Emory University. The Rushdie-specific content is interesting (you can pull up a draft of one of his novels and edit/re-write bits of it, a weird bibliophile’s Eden somewhat analogous to an Air Force fanatic climbing into a military flight simulator) but the issue of preservation. John Updike donating fifty 5 1/4 inch disks shortly before his death is a good example of an author passing on a technology that simply no longer exists (admit it, how many of you have ever seen, let alone used, those big 5 1/4 inch disks?).  At some point, and quite likely in our life times if not within the next twenty years, we will see computing move entirely beyond decides like harddrives with moving parts and possibly even beyond solid state memory (like flashdrives) to lord knows what. are we at risk of losing great swathes of information simply because we’ll no longer be able to access it?

Blogging on demand? Well, maybe. IBM is working on a widget to connect bloggers and readers in a unique way. It’s essentially backwards from how the writer/reader dynamic has been accepted. The writer plugs away at something, throws it out there, and hopes to God someone reads it. Well, IBM is looking to find a way for readers to suggest topics for blogging and for those suggestions to be forwarded to the appropriate blogger to then do with it what he is told to do. On the one hand, as a rarely visited blog writer (unless I criticize illustrators, heh), I can certainly see the appeal. On the other hand, I write about what I write about because it interests me – not necessarily because I want to get a thousand hits a day. My reviews/critiques are dry and not for everyone. And that’s okay.

Make poetry your career and be the best at it. Over night. While it reads as a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way of pushing for commercial success and societal significance as a poet, there is also an undeniable scent of truth to the vast majority of it.  I read lit journals, I glance through the annual year end Best Of collections, and am largely unimpressed with the vast vast vast majority of the poetry.  It lacks something. What it lacks is hard to put into words but there is just a gut reaction that is missing when reading it. At risk of sounding melodramatic (or maybe just wistful), it seems as if poetry is too much a way to make ends meet and not a way of life. The idea of Poet as Occupation should be a liberating one. Instead, it seems we may have become Henry Ford’s dream given artistic form. Maybe i’m not taking from it what was meant to be taken from it, but this is what it made me think about. There is a typed version of the same article at Huffington Post.

Finally, Australia is falling behind the EBook revolution. And they’re not happy about it. And they’re trying to figure out how to catch up. And Amazon is selling Kindles there without any real product support. And Apple hasn’t even hired anyone to run their Australian version of the ipad virtual store thing yet. Australia is really just being patently ignored.  And from it all, what really stood out to me, was the attention the IPad is still generating despite it looking like a fairly mediocre blow-up of the IPhone. I haven’t been thrilled with the IPad but if it somehow leads to EBook industry being opened up some more, then it’s done a good thing. Another piece of interesting info was the fact that publishers aren’t just creating digital copies of their novels, but things that are closer to app files than documents. I’m not a huge computer guy, despite the (numerous) IPad postings. But I keep seeing talk of HTML5 coming out in the near future and how it will do away with Flash and whatever else. I think this could also be the avenue for e-literature to eventually head down. Instead of apps, just use a powerful, multip-purpose programming language (as the next HTML appears to be) that allows different e-texts to be opened with a single browser.  Which makes me wish even more that I had any idea whatsoever how to create a webpage strictly through code (and not through those fuzzy point and click editors like Dreamweaver).

Apple and Literature: books will be shorter!

January 29, 2010

Alright, there are some things that just astound me. Daniel Akst’s apparent backing of less literacy carried on the back of eliterature is one of them. In an article talking about the future of publishing and how Apple’s Ipad could affect it he has the following quote:

Shorter is always better on screen, and so expect shorter books. Many nonfiction works are too long anyway — think of all those cinder-block-sized biographies — in part because right now there’s no mechanism for bringing to market anything between a magazine article (perhaps 5,000 words) and a short book (perhaps 70,000). Tablets will allow the length of works to be tailored more closely to the need.

More important, an Apple tablet will offer not just text but also sound, images and video — which will all be commonplace in books someday, in a balance we can’t yet foresee. This may undermine the primacy of text, but the text in most books today is far from sacred, and a little multimedia can do a world of good in most genres — in how-to books, for example. Think back to the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages; even when text was sacred, people liked a little multimedia on the side.

Now, it’s entirely fair to point out that Akst is pointedly mentioning nonfiction work but his statement that less text could be viewed as better on a screen is a solid point and could easily be something that bleeds into fiction. But while I disagree that shorter is necessarily better in regards to his “cinder-block-sized biographies” such a move could be a positive thing for what has become a bit of a lost art: the short story.

Anyone who has been in an MFA program for creative writing, or hangs around people in an MFA:Creative Writing program, has likely heard that short stories are not a path to publishing in book form. Collections don’t sell, novels do, despite the fact that many of our most beloved American authors excelled in the form of the short story.

The cliff’s edge that will need to be avoided, however, is where brevity falls into a lack of depth. Hemingway had an economy with words but his works still carried tremendous depth. Toni Morrison often sits in the 250-300 page range and she’s a nobel winner. Nabokov excelled in the form.

This also isn’t to say that a work should have to be shortened to meet an imagined requirement of a form. While many biographies are long, that doesn’t mean their length is not necessary. Personally, I hope that when I die that it most certainly takes more than 500 pages to recount my life and whatever achievements I attain. And for any moderately influential (though not necessarily famous) person, brevity could become an insult to thoroughness. We aren’t talking about the life and times of Nicole Richie but the life and times of presidents, senators, inventors, etc. A recounting  of Nikola Tesla’s life should probably resemble a cinder block.

As for the multimedia aspect, it’s something I’ve pushed myself. but only now am I wondering what the multimedia might entail for the various romance genres.

Ipad – unImpressed

January 28, 2010

I probably shouldn’t have had my expectations set quite as high as they were. Right off, I admit, that I am partly to blame for how let down I am over the recent unveiling of Apple’s Ipad. If you have an Ipod touch, you essentially have the Ipad in miniature. But listing the shortcomings of the Ipad is probably something best left for another site (like this one). Instead, I’ll just mention how it falls short from a writing/reading perspective.

First, it’s funny to see Simon&Schuster ignoring earlier comments about where they see prices for ebooks as Apple pushed for a much lower ($13-15) price point:

Publishers acknowledge that digital content should be priced lower than the print content. “We listened to what consumers have said,” said Carolyn Reidy, chief executive of Simon & Schuster.

Anyone who wants to go back and look at a previous blog entry, I have a quote from a Simon and Schuster representative saying that they envisioned ebooks costing about the same as a hardcover ($35) because they would chuck some extras onto it, like the bonus features on a DVD.

Unfortunately, I don’t see a big difference between this and a Kindle beyond the Apple having color and, at least, a $300 higher price tag. Considering it’s questionable that the Mac will debut with nearly the size of library Amazon already offers, while also pushing a higher price point, it’s not a great short term outlook. When you add in that the Ipad doesn’t support flash (you know, that technology that makes youtube possible) and its utility as a blog/news reader becomes hindered as nearly any embedded video becomes unwatchable.

On the writing front, it’s primary input seems to be an on-screen keyboard. I’m not a huge fan of laptop keyboards because I find their compact size uncomfortable for long stretches of typing. The onscreen keyboard looks even more crammed together and not built for any sort of writing session. There is a keyboard accessory that comes attached to a re-charging dock. Looking at the pictures and reading specks on Apple’s website, however, and it appears that the keyboard is literally attached to the dock like your head is connected to a neck. I have to assume that it’s on a wire to allow you to sit back in your chair a bit and type but I could just as easily be wrong.

On top of that, it appears the Ipad also doesn’t support the use of a stylus. One of the most substantial positives, for me, when I look at buying a tablet is the ability to flip it around, grab a stylus, and literally jot notes down on it. For attending class, it seems ideal. I can do away with a notebook that tears and wears, that often has several classes intermixed through out it or the need to have several competing notebooks. Instead, I can just open separate document files and keep ALL of my notes in one little place that I can tote with me anywhere. If it has a mic, I can even simply record the lectures/class and maybe convert the audio into text. Not including the ability to use a stylus obviously removes this ability entirely. So instead of being a useful tool for a writer/student, it loses a lot of functionality.

Also, there’s the inability to multitask. Like to listen to music while you write? Well, you better go buy an ipod then. Want to do some research on the web while you work on short story? Better save because you can’t open both.  Want to work on a story you’ve already started on another computer? You’re going to have to buy an adapter because the Ipad doesn’t even have a USB port.

Maybe I was expecting too much simply because it was being made by Apple. While I’m not a huge fan of their OS, I love their basic style and the functionality of their equipment. Having been looking at “convertible” tablets for awhile, as well as conventional tablets, I was hoping Mac would find a way to improve on the basic concept and at a price point that would make it a realistic option for myself. Unfortunately, Apple appears to have made a device with no real purpose. It can be good for viewing movies you download (as long as they aren’t flash) or just reading something (though not both at the same time) but nothing much beyond that. If you’re looking for a device to just read e-literature with, though, I think you’re better off just buying a kindle or one of the similar devices. They are cheaper and the screens are easier on the eyes. If you’re looking for something to write on, and are investing at least $500, I have to suggest going with a more full featured laptop (of whatever configuration you like).  The convertible tablets are bit heavier than the Ipad, but they have far more functionality. And if you’re set on a tablet, you should be able to find one that at least offers the use of a stylus.

edit: just found this article about a third party company offering a stylus compatible with the Ipad. at least someone out there is realizing that a stylus is actually a pretty useful device when all you have to interact with your computer is a touch screen.