Posts Tagged ‘kindle’

Daily Book Links 10-26-12

October 26, 2012

a letter from Charles Bukowski. Have to admit, I like Bulowski’s writing. I’m never sure what to say or write about it, but I enjoy reading it. All of it. The novels. The newspaper articles. The poems. It’s all good. This letter is just more Bukowski. Enjoy.

Here’s an article on zdnet by Eileen Brown defending Amazon’s right to wipe your Kindle. The bad thing is that she has a point about their EULA, and it’s nothing new since software companies have been doing it for years now with things like MS Office, Windows, etc. The whole idea that you don’t actually buy something when you “buy” it at Amazon, but are really just buying the right to access it (which, to me, sounds a lot like renting rather than buying) and not the actual whatever it is itself.  This is something I have long complained about in those venues, too. You “buy” something, you “own” it. And I don’t understand why any consumer willingly takes a stance that opposes this. You’re just pointing a gun at your foot and pulling the trigger at that point. Maybe you shouldn’t own the car you paid for, but just the license to insure it, drive it, park it, maintain it, etc. But if you do something that Saab isn’t happy about, they should just take their car back, keep your money, and leave you hanging out to dry. Does that sound fair? Does that sound right? Of course not. And using the boogeyman of fighting media pirates and protecting copyrights is just bull. If someone rally wants to steal your stuff, DRM is not stopping them. It has never stopped them. It never will stop them. Know why? This is why. And I support Ars Technica in this because you should have that copy for yourself, even if you have to break a ridiculously unfair and likely illegal EULA agreement to get it. Or maybe no one will listen to us until we chuck a few barrels of Kindles into Boston Harbor.

Here you can download a short Halloween themed recipe book. It’s a quick download, the recipes look alright, if you don’t mind baking some cookies or making a cosmo, might be worth your time.

I really don’t know what to make of hitrecord.org, but they have their second tiny book coming out and JGL’s web site just interests the hell out of me. If anyone has any experience with them, or just an opinion to share, hit up at the bottom. Just wondering what some other’s thoughts are on it.

Alright, that’s all for today.

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Book links 10-22-12

October 22, 2012

I know I hammer on Amazon a bit, but they’ve really gone out of their way to meet me in the middle today. First, a Kindle user claims that Amazon hijacked his reader and then deleted all of his ebooks. This, of course, flies in the face of an earlier court case and numerous promises by Amazon from a few years back. Making this case a bit worse is the labyrinthine correspondence record between Amazon and the accuser that seems to end rather bluntly with an email that can be cleanly summarized as, “screw you, all your eliteratures belongs to us!”  Maybe I’m just an old fogey, but I don’t believe any company should retain that type of control over a device you have paid for and own. It’s not like you’re renting your ereader. It is your device, it is your ereader. It’s just too much control to give away for a product you have bought. It makes me unhappy.

 

The next article is that Amazon is playing tax games in Europe. Essentially, they seem to be paying a 3% vat tax in Luxembourg, while collecting a 20% vat tax charge from British publishers. Yeah, can probably find examples of similar work by other countries as they seek to pay as little tax as possible,  but this still has a nasty stench to it.

 

This is pretty straight forward.  A saved video chat from earlier today involving Mark Z. Danielewski. I’ve listened to about half of it. Nothing earth shattering but not a bad listen.

Book Links 9-7-2012

September 7, 2012

Not a pure book/literary link, but The New Yorker  talks about Bill Clinton’s spontaneous riffing during his speech at the DNC. I think it’s a great article, and really shows how amazing Clinton is at giving speeches. But I think it also gives some good points on creating good dialog. All of those folky things Clinton throws into his speech as he goes, all of the little asides he makes to pull the listener in…that’s not just an incredible speech maker, it’s awesome story telling.  There’s also a link in the The  New Yorker article for someone who took the original speech and compared it to the one given.

Judge Cote okayed the settlement between the DOJ and three publishers, and now Bob Kohn has filed a motion to stay the settlement because of the harm it would do to the industry.

Lastly, Fast Company has an article about Amazon’s serial publishing about how authors could take data mined by Amazon about how people react to different elements of one part of the serial so that the author can tailor future parts to fit what’s going over the best in the current part.  I hate this idea. No offense to readers, but we’re often idiots and what we like doesn’t necessarily point to what makes something good. And because a reader, or group of readers, doesn’t get why something is happening right now doesn’t mean they’ll hate what it leads to. I’m sure there will be some money to be made off of this, but tailoring a piece of work to reader’s most immediate desires just seems like an idea whose time should never come.
On a related note, I’m kind of downbeat about admitting I like the Kindle Paperwhite.  I don’t like it enough to pay for it, but I think it’s neater than the traditional e-ink displays. Still, I just can’t find enough justification for a device that does so little. Also, such things still force eliterature to behave in the same way as traditional print literature. If we’re going to start reading in a digital medium, all of the benefits of the medium should be taken advantage of. So maybe literature should (or at least could) have some video or audio components, some graphs, still photos, something. With that said, I just don’t like tablets yet. They aren’t functional enough. the closest things that I really really like are the ultraportable laptops like the macair. I think Lenovo has something, or has something coming out, where the screen and keyboard can either be attached or run separately, which is neat. I’m really looking forward to the MS Surface tablet. Something I’m wondering, though, is what you do with the keyboard/cover when you don’t want to use it. Does it fold over and clip to the back somehow? Do you just stuff it in your bag? A bit off-topic,but that’s what I’m wondering right now.

 

edit: alright, just as I posted this, PC Mag put up this blistering article about the Kindles and Amazon’s putting ads on them to subsidize their costs (and then charging a good bundle to take them off).  I’m not a fan of it, but I think they’ve been doing it for awhile and I don’t know why anyone would buy a kindle without knowing this. All the more reason to buy a Nook, imo, and support a real book store.

Book Links 8-19-12 Early (?) Edition

August 19, 2012

Alright, I had these links to put up on the 18th, but I got sidetracked screwing around and being generally unproductive and didn’t get them posted before the clock turned over.  So I guess I’m just going to get a big jump on tomorrow (today’s) links.
First is this digital essay by Will Self called Kafka’s Wound. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it, but I really appreciate the attempt. At the very least, it’s worth checking out.

Remember that bit about the government buying a crap ton (technical term) of Kindles from Amazon while simultaneously pressing a major lawsuit against their major competitors and publishers? Remember how that kinda sounded like a bullshit move? Well, apparently the government has agreed. Now, it seems the government is saying that they want to now explore other possibilities, but a few months back they seemed pretty positive that the Kindle was the best bet for whatever it is they wanted it to do (something I’m still highly doubtful of considering things like the iPad are out there that do everything the Kindle does and then some-oh, and Microsoft has Surface coming out that seems even further along the path of actually being more than a media box). I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple’s aggressively countering the DoJ’s attempts to hurriedly push through some sort of agreement about the whole ebook price fixing thing  didn’t play into this a bit. I hate to say it, but I’m hugely in Apple’s corner over this.

Because beer steins are awesome, and I’ve ended up being a fan of Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim novels, I love these Sandman themed steins.  If you’re not interested in looking at merchandise, don’t click the link, but it’s something I’ve really liked and considered throwing $20 down for. Not a huge fan of the shirts, though, which is a shame.

Don’t cry for me Argentina, just give me a decent pension plan. They are giving pensions to writers. It’s awesome. While I live in a nation where a presidential candidate is for cutting the meager funding for the NEA and the NEH (who, combined, are given less money than we give our military just to manage their bands), other countries who are far less economically robust are finding new ways to spend more money on the arts.  One of the few (many) places I don’t want to take this blog is into the world of politics and everything it entails, but lately I’ve realized how my stances are pretty much a polar opposite from what appears to be a pretty fair share of my country. They want to spend more money on making better guns to kill more Arabs, I want more money thrown at space exploration and artists.

Finally, because I’m horribly ignorant of massive exhibitions by national institutions, here’s a much belated link to the Library of Congress and their Books that shaped America. Like any list, it’ll probably generate more discussion for what’s not on it as much for what is. For some info on what went into slim pickings, here’s an interview with someone who was involved in the process.

Alright, that’s all for today, maybe more later today. 🙂

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.

– – –

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.

Publishers ask: how to deal with e-books? follow the music industry!

January 25, 2010

Well, apparently the publishing industry isn’t completely behind the curve of adapting to e-commerce like the music industry was. Unfortunately, their goal isn’t to find new revenue streams and ways to make their product more attractive to an online audience, but to just preserve their price structure.

So while Apples and other e-music retailers have effectively led the way in altering the music industry’s way of doing business (like by selling .99 songs and allowing you to buy an album for less than $20), the publishing industry, or at least Harper Collins, is hoping to broker deals that allow them to maintain current prices.

But there’s a problem with that. The problem is that the price would be artificially high to cover costs that no longer exists. Gone would be the costs to physically print the book. All of the people needed to run the printers, binders, etc., the costs of the materials, the costs of the storage and shipping, etc. There’s no justification behind charging $30 for something when the cost of making it has fell the comparative floor because, suddenly, all you have to cover are the costs of the editor and the writer. If need be, I’m sure that Apple or whoever could even provide a conversion application for changing over a .doc file to whatever file type they dream up to include some sort of encryption code.

This artificial price point will bloom into a larger problem, a problem the music and movie industries have already encountered and were left reeling from. At least some of the appeal of a digital reading device IS the price point. After shelling out a couple of hundred bucks for a reader, the books better damn well be a few bucks cheaper – and they are. But what happens when the price point explodes and the costs go through the roof – especially when they’re coupled with a move to a more expensive (though likely more versatile) machine like an Apple tablet PC?

Just a guess but I’m betting the same thing happens that happened with the music industry charging $20 a CD and the movie industry trying to pull $10 a ticket at the theater – people will pirate the stuff. While the industry’s worry about WalMart’s momentary flirtation with $10 hardcovers setting a new price point was somewhat ridiculous, considering how entrenched hardcover prices were and how other forces help dictate the costs so much, the price for an e-book has become equally entrenched.

Not only that, but anyone buying an ebook sees the cost savings involved as they can just as easily forward a massive text document to anyone in their address book for nothing. They don’t have to buy ink, buy paper, pay s/h, etc. They just attach and hit send. So seeing the price for their reading material jump from $10 to $30 is not going to go over well.

And, despite whatever encryption is thrown into any file document or how secure any device is made, once it is put out to the public, someone will be working to get around it and spill all of its secrets out across the web or a youtube video. So the biggest obstacle to people pirating books – a simple lack of availability unless some individual types or scans the book themselves, vanishes. So while the publishing industry simultaneously attempts to adapt to the digital world and use it to maintain a cost point that no longer makes any sort of sense, they will also be providing the files that will be ripped, converted to something like RTF or PDF and torrented.

And what makes it stupid is that it could all be avoided now, when the whole e-book thing is still in its infancy. From the CNN article linked above:

The news comes as e-readers and e-books rapidly rise in popularity. Led by the Kindle, 1.7% of all books sold in the third quarter of 2009 were e-books, according to a Book Industry Study Group survey released this week. That’s up 42% since the beginning of 2009. The survey also found that 20% of e-book readers stopped buying print books altogether. Shatzkin expects that figure to double by next year.

Okay, so while ebooks have been a new buzz word and can flash impressive numbers like 42%, they still only make up 1.7% of book buying. Even if they jump by another 42%, they’ll only be around 2.4% of all book buying. Then, even if we take Shatzkin’s guess that 40% of ebook buyers will stop buying print books entirely, that’s still only 1.4% of the book buying public.

Maybe Harper Collins looks at these numbers and sees ebooks as something they can maybe stomp out of existence with a ridiculously high price point. Maybe that’s their goal. But if that is their goal, then they are destined for failure. Even if you’re not a fan of reading your bestseller off an LCD screen, it is fairly clear that it is becoming an eventual reality. This isn’t to say that regular print books will cease to exist, just that digital forms of entertainment are here to stay and will only grow. trying to counter this is only going to result in a violent negative reaction (piracy).

Harper Collins hits at part of the solution with its assertion that

enhanced e-books with video and other functions could be released simultaneously with hardcovers in the future “at a price more in line with the print edition

I don’t believe readers necessarily want to pay for video to go along with their books – unless it is in some way a vital part of the text – and they will still desire a simpler, cheaper “bare bones” version. My guess, though, is that the “video and other functions” will be like the massive amounts of shovelware dished out for the wii. Things that make the product look good on a shelf but are cumbersome and unenjoyable in practice. If they wish to offer “enhanced” texts for additional costs, fine, but I am betting the majority of readers would rather a plain text at a cheaper cost. And if this is not offered, they will find alternative ways of procuring them.

Tech and Books, Books and Tech, Mortal Enemies

December 15, 2009

a couple of links today. The firstis an excellent blog entry from Nick Bilton regarding the publishing industry’s backward approach towards e-publishing. Nick tackles the publishing industry’s decision to back up e-book sales in fear that it harming their hardcover sales. Is this line familiar? If you followed the music industry’s fight against file sharing it should be. If you’ve read this blog in the past, you have probably noted that I am very e-friendly and have at least hinted towards where i think the publishing industry, and e-literature, needs and will go. And I agree with pretty much everything Nick says in his blog.

What amazes me is how similar the fears and reactions are between the way the publishing industry is approaching e-commerce and the way the recording industry approached it (and got beaten like a mule).  If I’m a big book publisher, I am going over what the recording industry did and attempting to do just the opposite. Instead of running from the concept of selling literature online, look for ways to make it more lucrative. Look for ways to package other stuff with it that might be enticing to readers while also cost effective. Maybe even open up  a whole new division dedicated to publishing new authors ONLY online where the costs of the publishing can be more tightly controlled and publicity more easily attainable.  Once an author has established an audience through cheaper e-lits (maybe with novellas and short stories) then move on to publishing that author’s first novel in hardcover.  suddenly you have an affordably created audience for a first time author and stand a better chance of not losing your hat over publishing the guy.

In other words, e-lit can be the new paperback. Where writers once cut their teeth selling gobs of paperbacks before getting a hardcover release, they can now sell billions of bits.  There could be a whole new world for writers here if publishers would only go with it rather than try to fight it.

the second blog is from chris dawson at  zdnet. He steps into the e-reader fray with an angle on Stephen Covey’s recent choice to sign an exclusive deal with amazon to release his books only for the Kindle.  He’s against the closed format for e-readers, pushing for an open format that would open up the e-publishing world for everyone to take part in.

The scary thing is his comparison to how Apple’s Iphone effectively cornered the cell phone market because of the ridiculous amount of exclusive apps it offers is quite possible. If any one company can convince a great number of high-selling authors to sign only with them, it would effectively cut the e-reader and e-literature markets off at the knees. Regardless of how powerful or versatile a tablet PC from Apple might be, no one will buy it as a reader if they can’t download the newest Stephen King or Nora Roberts book to it.

But I think money will keep it from happening. While Amazon can entice an author here or there right now, authors/agents aren’t dumb and they know that once the e-lit market takes off, there will be more money made from whoever can sell to the biggest audience. Which points to an open format that can be read on a variety of devices.

also, there is the simple force of ego. Writers (and I know, I kinda am one, albeit an unpaid one) like to be read. the idea of limiting their audience can’t be overly appealing.  While there will always be someone taking the largest payday out there, and I don’t blame them at all for it, I think a lot of writers would rather sacrifice a couple of bucks if it means they greatly enhance their exposure.

(E)Magazines Galore

December 9, 2009

Awhile back I posted an article linking Conde Nast Publishing and Apple’s development of a tablet PC rumored to hit the market in the fall/winter of 2010. The thought was that Apple was forming some sort of partnership to help pull E-readers to their tablet to help break into a market dominated by specialty readers like Kindle or Nook.

Whether Apple is involved or not, five major publishers have banded together to push for a more open e-literature world.  Demanding a universal standard that allows their magazines to be accurately transferred to a digital medium across a wide range of viewers – rather than the specialized files used by current readers – it is clear that this is but a prong on a multi-faceted attack to allow PCs into the suddenly lucrative E-reader world.

If a standard is established and all magazines, newspapers and novels are published in that one form that is open for all computers/readers/cell phones/etc. to download and read, it’ll open up a world of competition for Kindle, Nook and the Sony Reader. Instead of having to make a severely specialized product to compete in the market, a company like Apple (or Del or HP or…) would be able to do what they do best: make a jack-of-all trade machine that hits a specific price range. We’ve seen the proliferation of the netbook (which I find horribly unusable with their smurf sized keyboards…) so we know big box computer companies can easily shift their gears to make smaller computers.

This is something to keep an eye on in the next year and maybe make you re-consider throwing down that two to three hundred bucks on that brand spanking new e-reader. While their displays are nice and they do what they do very well, the e-lit world could be on the cusp of a minor revolution.

Apple Tablet Going Organic?

November 22, 2009

Apple keeps not saying anything but leeks keep bubbling to the surface regarding a possible tablet PC in the next year.  Now there’s word that there might be an option for an OLED screen along with the less expensive LED versions.  As I’ve said before, while pushing e-literature with one hand while slapping the very unversatile e-readers with the others, I like the idea of being able to download/purchuse digital books but I don’t see a reason why it can’t be done with a fully functional computer.  Leave it to Apple to fill the void.

Considering that the majority of the praise for Amazon’s Kindle device has been for its screen and how closely it resembles the look of actual paper, I have to think that has played into Apple’s apparent courting of an OLED version of its much rumored tablet PC. Personally, a reported cost of $2,200 turns me off entirely but I have a feeling that I wouldn’t exactly be Apple’s target audience for such a product. But a nice multi-functional tablet PC for $500? I’m in. Even if I don’t download the latest STephen King novel to it, I’d be happy with something that I could use either as a notepad or (hopefully) hook a keyboard up to and use as a regular computer. I’m very much of the word processor/internet box computer buyer segment of society – video/photo/music editing has never been a hobby of mine – so a lack of processor power isn’t a big deal to me. Also wouldn’t mind the ability to hook the tablet up to my television or a regular computer monitor if the screen proves to be too small to use as a monitor in and of itself.

Also of note from the article, Conde Nast is said to be preparing a host of magazines under its publishing umbrella for download to tablet PCs. for those who don’t want to follow the link, among Conde Nast’s publications are Vanity Fair, Wired, Vogue, GQ, and The New Yorker.