Friday, October 22, 2010

Books Relating to the Decline of Print

My goal is to review all of these (I've read most of them) but until then here are some excellent books about the decline of print and the future of reading and publishing.

One of the first books I've on this topic. Well-written and accessible; offers a frank appraisal of the future of books.

Sven Birkerts has been writing about the negative impact that technological advances will have on reading. Thoughtful, well-written, sometimes overreaching, Birkerts is the Neil Postman of the digital era.  

A Case for Books is probably the best book written on the subject thus far. Darnton combines a love of print with an open-minded appraisal of the benefits that can come with the digitization of knowledge. I strongly encourage this book for any bibliophiles who fear the future.

Reading this book right now. In a world where newspapers are dying left and right, and traditional journalists are being replaced by bloggers and pundits, McChesney and  Nichols discuss the dangers that a dying fourth estate will have on our society, and the ways that journalism can be saved.

Tom Rachman's thoroughly readable - yet slightly over-hyped - debut offers a look at the various figures who work at a dying English language newspaper in Rome. This testament to the declining world of the newsroom has the tone of dispatches from the closing frontier.

Any comic fan will tell you that if you want to learn about comic books you need to read Scott McCloud. In Reinventing Comics the respected writer and creator discusses the possibilities that new technologies may have for expanding and revolutionizing the medium.

In a time where news stories and broke by anonymous bloggers and traditional news is dying, Keen's book offers an aggressive critique of a world where anyone with an opinion can reach millions of readers.

Monday, October 18, 2010

News and Updates: Books Gone in 5 years, and E-book sales up 193%.

For all you e-reader owners: check out this site which has price comparisons for ebooks on the Kindle, the Nook, and the Ipad.

- Author Nicholas Negroponte predicts that in five years printed books will be gone.
- The Huffington Post reports on authors who are choosing to self-publish through Amazon's kindle and avoid the big publishers completely.
- discusses on the difficulty in defining a book in the digital era. 
- Mashable reports that e-book sales are 193% so far this year.
- Publisher's Weekly has an article on Border's new self-publishing site, BookBrewer.
- eBooknewser discusses the ePaper display on the new Pandigital Novel.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

News and Updates

- Wired has an article on how to digitize your library from home.
- Barnes and Noble unveils its new PubIt feature - publish your book for the nook!
- reports on China's massive e-book market.
- Techland on Amazon's new kindle singles.

- Angry Birds versus Steig Larssen: Wired on the kindle in the post-Ipad world.

- Blogcritics discusses the future of publishing.
- Mashable has an excellent article the way apps are changing print.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bibliophile meets Techno-Geek: A Guest Blogger Reviews the Nook

Hi, my name is Jennifer and I own a nook.

First and foremost let me say that I love books and reading. To whit there are approximately six large bookcases overflowing with books in my house. Yes, I have read almost all of them (except the comic book “trades”) - even the Twilight series. I spent a large part of my childhood in the Tyler Public Library, where my grandmother worked. Recently though adult life has gotten in the way of spending an entire day reading. I read less often and usually when I’m waiting in line or before bed.

As my husband and I are self proclaimed “techno-geeks” acquiring the latest gadget is high on the priority list. We yearn with an almost visceral hunger at new products that claim to make our lives easier, or connect us with friends instantly. We are PC but own a large assortment of Apple products.

So when my 39th birthday came around earlier this year I naturally told the husband that I wanted the nook. So a couple of days before my birthday we took ourselves to the local Barnes & Noble where a store associate was eager, nay excited, to sell us the nook Wi-Fi. The associate even took us to the back of the store where another associate assisted us in setting up the nook (bonus points to B&N for making this seem standard). While I wasn’t sure I needed the help – I went ahead to see what the experience was like. After telling me how to sign up for an e-library and signing into the nook with my information, the clerk sent me on my way the happy new owner of yet another electronic device. (Have I mentioned that my biggest phobia is that during the zombie apocalypse there will be NO electricity? I have plans for solar panels so I can charge all my stuff…)

Setting up the eBook library was easy and I had actually done it weeks before. My Saturday morning ritual now includes perusing the free eBooks section at I currently have a library of 113 eBooks – 3 of which I paid for. Note, however, that even to download free eBooks the website requires a credit card.

Suffice to say – I bought a coffee and spent the next hour or so downloading eBooks and playing with my new toy in the CafĂ©.

The nook has all the usual (ok, I may be assuming here) eReader capabilities.
You can change font size. You may have to turn the page more often, but hey where else can you get large print books at the drop of a hat?
It automatically saves the page you were reading and opens up to the same page when you come back.
There are games – Chess and Soduku. (I personally would prefer Maj-jong or Solitaire.)
I don’t know about other eReaders, but the nook is beta testing an internet web browser (note to B&N associate – THIS is why I would have wanted 3g+Wi-Fi). I actually tweeted on my nook. (insert geeky squee here)
And has audio capabilities. MP3 and AAC (the iTunes file extension) small speakers are in the bottom of the nook next to a headset port. – Not very loud, but would probably work listening to an audio book in the car as long as the road noise isn’t too bad.
A minor but neat point – the screen saver for the nook (which can be changed) is black and white “sketches” of famous writers.
It’s about the same size as my day-planner (6x8 inches, in its cover) so fits easily in my purse. For a girl that’s REALLY important.

The first thing a nook owner needs to learn – do NOT loan out your nook. My husband currently has custody of the nook at bedtime because I bought a book he wants to read but doesn’t want to buy.
When recharging the charger plugs into the bottom of the nook. Convenient when charging on my desktop – not so comfortable when charging while reading in bed.
As far as I can tell, there is no privacy function. If you are showing off your nook folks can see your ENTIRE reading list. So if your guilty pleasure is trashy romance, erotica or the periodic table of elements – BEWARE – unless of course you don’t care.
Due to the completely awesome technology that allows you to read on a screen but not have the whole “I have a headache from looking at the computer” thing – it is not possible to read the nook in the dark. I have noticed comments from several nook owners about book lights being a perfectly fine solution.
eink® technology isn’t in color. There are no illustrations; the web browser is all in black and white. Surprisingly photos seen this way didn’t look as bad as I thought they would but still… I might have liked uploading my photo of Yosemite Falls as a screen saver. Or a photo of my latest costume. Although if you “require” a color display – I’m sure an ipad or a netbook would be a better choice and you can download an e-reader (multiple versions even!) to them at any time.

Suggested upgrades/changes:
The ability to sort by type of book would be nice. Or the ability to categorize books with key words. Looking for a type of book to read can get a little time consuming when you can only sort by date purchased, title or author.
A privacy function that “hides” book from your list. Cause if my husband can’t find the latest Sookie Stackhouse book he can’t read it…

So on to the burning questions. Would I buy it again? You bet, but with the 3g upgrade. Would I recommend it to my friends? Yes, especially the commuters in my life. Would I turn up my nose at a paper book? Not at all. Will I buy one for my family members? My husband or daughter? Maybe. My mom? Nope. She reads in the bath… nuff said.

In closing I have to say that a little part of me is constantly gleeful about being able to carry an entire library with me at all times. And thanks to the free e-books I’m getting an impressive collection of the classics that I otherwise might not have purchased. Cause let’s face it. If it’s a classic and I don’t already own it chances are that I wasn’t gonna buy it anyway.

Author’s postscript: While the nook (and other e-readers) can download and let you read PDF documents, (go to to find out more about Google’s attempt to provide access to out of print texts) they can’t read each other’s formats. Ideally an e-reader would allow you to download books from any retailer, but alas we live in an imperfect and profit driven world.