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Monday, March 15, 2010

Today in eBooks

Posted by on Mon, Mar 15, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Many people (myself included) believe that tablet computers will make e-ink ereaders into a thing of the past. Wired says that ereaders—that is, devices dedicated solely to books— will survive the tablet onslaught.

“In the short term, every company is likely to have two lines of products,” says Robert Brunner, founder of Ammunition, a design firm that worked with Barnes & Noble to design the Nook e-reader. “If you think of a paperback-like reader, E Ink does a fantastic job. But color will definitely happen and it is likely to be LCD or OLED. It seems logical.”
...
In the digital world, that’s likely to translate into two sets of products: Full-featured tablets with color displays and lots of features that cost $400 or more, and inexpensive black-and-white E Ink-powered e-readers that will be available for $150 or less.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is getting ready to launch an ebook version of the NYT Book Review that will be available separately from the newspaper. The Sony Reader edition will be first, but Kindle and Nook editions will soon follow.

 

Comments (19) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Let me do the market analysis for you, aided by insider knowledge from the EU, Japan, China, the ABA, and other sources.

1. Paperbacks will be fine.

2. Manga will be fine.

3. Hardcover books are in peril, other than cookbooks and coffee table books.

Everything else is sound and fury, signifying the dominance of the iPad over all competitors.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 15, 2010 at 3:50 PM · Report this
Fnarf 2
[Hysterical laughter ensues]
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 15, 2010 at 4:02 PM · Report this
Fnarf 3
Why do you even comment on shit like this, Will? You don't read, you don't shop in bookstores, you don't have an e-reader or and iPad even an iPhone. You know nothing about publishing or bookselling. What are you getting out of this? Who do you think you're fooling?
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 15, 2010 at 4:19 PM · Report this
Fnarf 4
Why do you even comment on shit like this, Will? You don't read, you don't shop in bookstores, you don't have an e-reader or and iPad even an iPhone. You know nothing about publishing or bookselling. What are you getting out of this? Who do you think you're fooling?
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 15, 2010 at 4:21 PM · Report this
Fnarf 5
Why do you even comment on shit like this, Will? You don't read, you don't shop in bookstores, you don't have an e-reader or and iPad even an iPhone. You know nothing about publishing or bookselling. What are you getting out of this? Who do you think you're fooling?
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 15, 2010 at 4:22 PM · Report this
Fnarf 6
Why isn't my comment showing up?
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 15, 2010 at 4:27 PM · Report this
Fnarf 7
Ah, fuck me with a red hot fireplace poker. Sorry about that.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 15, 2010 at 4:39 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 8
Interesting that the Times is starting to offer itself a la carte: you can buy just the crossword already, and soon you'll be able to buy the book reviews separately. I wonder what other properties they can sub out. The Sunday Magazine, maybe?
Posted by Free Lunch on March 15, 2010 at 4:45 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 9
Okay, when writing, an author is using Word or some other sort word processor or text editor (95% use Word, I'm guessing).

So after editing, the publisher must convert the Word file into some other format, for reading on the Kindle or whatever. This conversion must be fairly simple, right? You are simply taking an almost entirely text-based file, and changing the format slightly into another mostly text-based file format. This can't be rocket science; probably any decent software engineer could write something like this in their sleep.

So I would think it would be fairly easy to publish any book in a wide variety of formats. Convert to InDesign (or whatever they use) to create the actual printed book. Convert to Kindle format. Convert to iPad format. Convert to Sony reader format. And so on.

The market will sort out which device readers prefer. I still prefer paperbacks, personally. But why should publishers care? It should be pretty easy and inexpensive to offer books in a variety of formats. No?

Maybe someone with more computer knowledge than me can answer. Why is this even a big deal? Maybe I'm wrong.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on March 15, 2010 at 4:55 PM · Report this
Fnarf 10
@9, you'd think it would be that easy, but there are a million pitfalls that text conversion falls into. I've got the e-books with millions of formatting errors to prove it. Though even with another editing pass your point is still more or less correct. The market will find an answer without the help of publishers; the only decision publishers have to make is whether they want to shoot themselves in the foot or not (by blocking access from device X, Y or Z).
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 15, 2010 at 5:08 PM · Report this
Fnarf 11
One thing to consider is that a couple of million e-readers have been sold already, and those people are probably the most avid seekers of this kind of technology. We are unlikely to drop our Kindles or Nooks for an iPad, except for the incurable gadget-hounds who have to have everything.

So Kindles aren't going away until they start to break, which should be in a year or two (mine's already got some problems with the power plug). Then, those people will have to decide whether they want to switch or just get an updated device.

This is going to limit iPad adoption, at first, to those people who are more casual e-book readers (plus of course all the people who don't care about e-books at all; the iPad can do plenty of other things).

Presumably there will be a Kindle app for the iPad, too, which means that the Kindle format may have more longevity than the physical devices; Amazon is here in the situation of Microsoft, sort of, where they offer competition to Apple but also sell software for it.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 15, 2010 at 5:26 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 12
@3 - wow, three lies in one post - that's a record, Fnarf.

By the way, I'll bet you don't even know what the global warming impacts are of your cellphone. Or where the parts are actually sourced, not the tertiary supplier that printed their name on the package ...
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 15, 2010 at 5:34 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 13
@7 ftw.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 15, 2010 at 5:35 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 14
One of the few true things was what Fnarf said @10. It's not that simple, sadly, and the form implications are different for different devices and capabilities. One of the things that HTML5 doesn't fully address, sadly. I'm yearning for the days of HTML6 already ...
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 15, 2010 at 5:37 PM · Report this
15
Fnarf Wins!
Posted by Official Slogomment Ref on March 15, 2010 at 5:42 PM · Report this
Fnarf 16
@12, what kind of cell phone do you think I have, Will?

@14, the formatting issues have nothing to do with HTML5 or any other kind of HTML. But you knew that; you've got all that "insider knowledge from the EU, Japan, China, the ABA, and other sources." Oh, wait, no you don't -- you're full of shit, but you're trying to make yourself look like you're hep to what's really happening. Sad, delusional little twat, you are.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on March 15, 2010 at 6:04 PM · Report this
17
Oooh! An ebook version of the NYT Book Review?! Can I pay for it please? That sounds far preferable to the free, non-DRMed version automatically downloaded to my Calibre once a week!

@8: Calibre offers a few separate, tunable feeds of NYT content; only read the Style section? There's a feed for that. Also? Free.
Posted by thename on March 15, 2010 at 6:30 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 18
@17 - I assume if they charged for it, any form of free access to it would vanish. They're trying to duplicate the success of selling to their crossword puzzle (which - you'll notice - doesn't show up on your Calibre).

Seems like a good strategy. I wonder if the book review section has as avid of a fan base as the crossword does, though.
Posted by Free Lunch on March 15, 2010 at 8:07 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 19
@16 - in case you wondered, I've actually worked at Nextel (did GPS mapping s/w for them among other things), and have owned direct shares in Nokia, NTT Telecom, and many US cell phone providers.

I stand by my statement. Jerk.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on March 16, 2010 at 11:00 AM · Report this

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