Posts Tagged ‘e-book’

 

After I finally convinced myself that I wanted an iPad, I vaguely expected that I would use it primarily as a larger form factor of my older, smaller handheld devices. I figured I would download a lot of the classics and enjoy them on a more book-sized screen. I’ve been playing with my iPad for just under a week now, and I’ve already noticed several changes in my reading – or perhaps more accurately – book acquisition habits.

 

First, and perhaps most significantly, I finally bought an e-book. Heretofore all of my e-book reading has been of out-of-copyright material that I could find on any of a number of e-book websites. However, I finally purchased one with the advent of the iPad. Actually I decided to make the purchase in the week leading up to product delivery, and I settled on Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic.

 

(Here’s an interesting tidbit about this one. I’ve been wanting to read the Discworld series for quite awhile, but every time I check in a bookstore, they never have the first novel. Well of course I could just order it, but who wants to wait? Instead I usually just pick something else. So I went to purchase this title through iBooks, and I was surprised that it wasn’t there. Well that certainly threw a wrench in my gears, so I went for another series only to find that it wasn’t there either. I came back to Terry Prachett the next day, and I found that the book really was there: It was listed as The Color of Magic instead of The Colour of Magic. Interesting little “gotcha” there.

 

Next, I’ve been poking around a bit in an area that I haven’t visited in a long, long, time: comic books. Both Marvel and DC have very nice apps, and the iPad is a great platform for viewing comics. The rich, vivid colors and crisp screen make even old comics seem fresh and vibrant. (And of course a good story is always a good story.) So far I’ve just read a few free comics. I haven’t actually bought any comics yet, and I may not in the future. But that’s not the point. I walk past comic books all the time and never pick one up or give it more than a passing glance. Because of the iPad though, I’ve read a couple of titles in a genre I haven’t explored in years.

 

When I was in the airport yesterday heading for ALA, I walked past the bookstore. Walked past it. Didn’t stop. That’s unusual for me. I actually buy quite a number of books from airport bookstores during waits and layovers. At the very least I spend a lot of time browsing. This time I did neither. I just walked on by with the knowledge that I can grab a lot of titles over the air whenever I like. I’ve done this for out-of-copyright books for years, but now that I’ve made the leap into more recent titles, the world – as they say – is my oyster.

 

Finally, I have to say something about iBooks. I’ve read books on PDAs and smartphones for years. The screen is small, but it works, and I’ve read hundreds of books this way. iBooks is changing that though – not by completely replacing the handheld – but by enhancing it. iBooks provides the option for syncing bookmarks, highlighting, and notes between the book on my iPad and the iBooks application on my phone. In the short term, this has meant that when I wrap up a reading session on the iPad, I can pick up in exactly the same place in my book even if I don’t have the iPad with me.

 

It will be interesting to see how things play out with the iPad over the next couple of months. These are pretty minor changes admittedly, but I’m still at less than a week on the platform. I wonder what the future will bring?

 

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When I saw the iPad preview information, I was struck with a lot of the same impressions that others had: it’s a big iPod Touch. To a great extent, that’s still my opinion. However, several days ago I read a review that (somewhat) changed the way I think about the iPad.

David Pogue, writing in the New York Times, did a two-part review that looks at the iPad from both a techie perspective and an “everyone else” perspective. In his closing, Pogue wrote, “ . . . the iPad is not a laptop. It’s not nearly as good for creating stuff. On the other hand, it’s infinitely more convenient for consuming it — books, music, video, photos, Web, e-mail and so on.” Strangely enough, these few lines made the difference for me.

When I look at a product – computer, camera bag, kayak, whatever – I take a “be all that you can be” approach. I expect the item to have loads of functionality. In short, I expect it to be the be-all-end-all device. That’s unrealistic of course, but I still expect it! So whatever the device, I look at all potential uses to which I might put it, and then I evaluate it based on how well I think it will meet my expectations.

This was the test that the iPad failed when I initially considered it. In my mind the iPad was the PERFECT form factor for a true tablet PC. However, it lacked the one-two punch I consider essential for a tablet: a stylus and good handwriting recognition software. In spite of what Steve Jobs has to say, I can see the value of a stylus, and I wish the iPad had one. I have previously used Microsoft OneNote under Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. The handwriting recognition software was really very good for either print or cursive writing, and I saw a lot of possibilities there. Unfortunately, the PC itself was just too heavy. That’s why I thought the iPad would have been perfect, but alas, no stylus.

But David Pogue’s review made me rethink the iPad. Once I resigned myself to the fact that it’s not a great device for creating stuff, the idea became a lot more palatable. When I think of it as a device for consuming stuff, it makes a lot more sense. Since my first portable device, I’ve read a lot of e-books. The iPad should be fine for that. The browser and add-on apps should make it a good device for consuming lot of other content as well.

This seems to make all the difference to me. In trying to accept the iPad for what it is, I have (somewhat) rejected what I think it could be. And it truly looks like a great device for consuming content.

So . . . maybe I do need one after all.

I am conducting two anonymous surveys to gather information from libraries and library users regarding the use of e-books, e-book readers, and e-book software on portable devices such as smartphones. The information gathered will be used to consider ways in which libraries acquire and support e-books and how library users interact with the library in using e-books. The results of the survey will be presented during the International Conference on the Book at the University of Edinburgh later this year.

I am trying to gather data from as many library employees and users of e-books/e-readers as possible, so please consider completing one of the surveys listed below. If you are a library employee AND a reader of e-books, please consider filling out both surveys.

Survey for users of e-books, e-book hardware, and e-book software:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=EHFSuOFp_2fXK_2f_2bjYZ3SI9ZA_3d_3d

Survey for library employees:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=RNCPWl326UK7Y8oPB2af0A_3d_3d

This study has been reviewed by The University of Mississippi’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB has determined that this study fulfills the human research subject protections obligations required by state and federal law and University policies. If you have any questions, concerns, or reports regarding your rights as a participant of research, please contact the IRB at (662) 915-7482.

<begin rant> Okay there was no reason for writing it as "mE" except that I’m fed up with companies that use funky capitalization to try to make themselves and their products stand out. </end rant>

I’m currently at ALA for the annual conference, and I realized something shocking today. I brought a book with me. A paper book.

Does that sound counter-intuitive – being shocked at the idea of someone taking a book to a library conference of all places? Well it shouldn’t, but for me it is. I’ve owned PDAs and/or smartphones for around 10 years, and one of my very first and very favorite applications was iSilo, a book reader. I’ve upgraded each time iSilo had an upgrade, and it was easily my most heavily-used application. Since I had this great book reader I really liked, when I traveled I just took several eBooks along on my handheld. Less to pack, a variety of books, easy, convenient. I liked it so much and it worked so well for me that I stopped taking books along. Sometimes I would buy a buy while traveling, but I had basically reached the point where I didn’t take them with me anymore.

Enter the iPhone. For various reasons, I just couldn’t stay with the Palm OS any longer. After switching to the iPhone, iSilo was one of the first apps I downloaded. (Incidentally, I was right in the middle of a book when I made the switch.) Unfortunately, I really dislike the iPhone implementation of iSilo’s autoscroll feature. I used it all the time on the Palm. Loved it. iPhone implementation? Not so much. The iPhone’s limited battery life and iSilo’s autoscroll problem have conspired to make me really go easy on actually using the phone. Yeah, that’s right. I’m afraid to use my iPhone too much, because I’m afraid the battery will run down leaving me unable to receive a call or send a text at the end of the day.

So . . . as I was heading out the door for ALA I picked up a paper book I bought in the airport on the way home from my last trip. Totally weird. I bought a new device that I thought would help me enjoy eBooks even more. But the limitations of the device and the program have actually pushed me back to paper. Who would have guessed?

To Be or Not to Be . . . DRM-Free
McCormick Place West, Room W470b
8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Opening statements from speakers

DRM – Digital management of digital objects; the policies and practices that surround the delivery; creator -> resource -> end-user. At the University of South Florida we currently have about 300,000 e-books: NetLibrary, eBrarary, Early English Books Online, etc. If the books are DRM-free, we buy those wholesale. We are buying fewer and fewer books that have barriers to use.

Question from audience: Can you currently buy just certain chapters of a book?
Answer: No

Some Problems with current eBooks
Visual verification
Printing
Having to login after you’ve already been "authenticated"
Software installations

Publishers frequently don’t own the copyright to the material that they’re making available. The author may license the content to the publisher. The publisher may have some control, but they have responsibility for protecting the content as well. For books that run through many editions, authors may not be willing to update the contract to accommodate new technologies.

Many libraries are seeing e-use up and print-use down. An audience comment notes that ease-of-use is a key factor driving this. Panelist notes that some libraries in underprivileged areas continue buying print simply because their clientele don’t have computers at home.

Vendor perspective: There are no standards for DRM. Some publishers are offering DRM-free content on their site, but they’re requiring the vendors to use it! Double standards from publishers.

 

Vendor perspective: There are no standards for DRM. Some publishers are offering DRM-free content on their site, but they’re requiring the vendors to use it! Double standards from publishers.

 

Publisher response: I let my kids do more in my own house than when they go to a friend’s house. When we control the content on our site, we can be a little more relaxed. When we license content to a vendor, we have a responsibility to copyright owners, too.

 

Publisher: If our books are so encumbered with DRM that they can’t be used, libraries will stop using our product. It behooves us to let our decisions be informed by the issues that libraries are facing.

 

Vendor perspective: Quality content still needs DRM. Publishers provide a service that blogging doesn’t really replace. Libraries select and purchase content that has value to their readers. Publishers are still struggling with ebook revenues. Print revenues are shrinking, and ebook revenues are miniscule. The new revenue models are not making up for falling revenues in the traditional models. Although publishers are embracing ebooks, they still have to find a way to survive. Piracy is still a significant problem for publishers. What is the appropriate level of DRM? There is a huge social cost when we lose quality content.

 

Audience comment: When technology comes on board without standards, there are always problems. This needs to be addressed as a joint effort between libraries, publishers, and vendors.

 

Will the market define the standards?

 

Publisher: As a publisher, I can’t see much plausibility in all publishers coming to an agreement on how to implement DRM.

 

Vendor: Springer Publishing is often cited as a positive example in the DRM arena. However, they’re currently up for sale. The argument was made that Springer’s model focused on short-term revenues where other publishers are focusing on long-term survival.

Audience comment: Some countries essentially don’t have copyright laws. They don’t understand the concept of copyright, and they don’t see why they can’t just share everything they find on the Internet.

Audience question: What are some of the different forms of DRM?

Visual verification

Login name and password

File tethering to a certain device

File encryption

Limiting access (viewing, printing, copy/paste)

Watermarking (doesn’t prevent anything, but it serves as an identification)

 

This watermarking approach sometimes links files to specific institutions. If a publisher suddenly sees dozens of files watermarked for a particular institution appearing on freely available websites, they can address security/DRM issues with that particular institution.

 

Problem for publishers with Google Books

The Google Book project requires publishers to make 20% of the content available through the site. This amount is non-negotiable. For publishers of reference works, this is practically untenable because the nature of the work lends itself to snatch-and-grab use. People just need a quick fact and then they move on. If 20% of a reference work is available, this significantly impacts the publisher’s revenue stream.

 

For publishers what is the final measure? Do you get more or less revenue from DRM-free content? Once you have the numbers, then you have a basis for comparison and can make intelligent decisions.

Amazon is currently unveiling the Kindle DX. Larger screen. More features. Three particularly interesting tidbits:

1) Partnerships with textbook publishers
2) Partnerships with higher ed: Arizona State University, Case Western Reserve University, Princeton University, Reed College, University of Virginia
3) Partnerships with newspapers: The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post

Check Engadget’s report for more details.

It was announced yesterday that today’s edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer will be the final print version of this 146-year-old paper. One can’t help reading the story without hearing the “Print is dead” cries echoing in one’s ears. Amidst all the talk about new business models and transitioning to a new online format, I can’t help thinking that “20 news gatherers and Web producers,” “20 newly hired advertising sales staff,” and “150 citizen bloggers” will never be able to cover the news like an experienced news staff.

We know that the Kindle can deliver content from major U.S. newspapers. Is the SPI “major” enough to merit some Kindle attention? Even if does, you still won’t be able to read it on the plane during takeoff and landing. And therein lies part of my concern with the whole “print is dead” movement. Now don’t get me wrong – I like electronic books. I’ve been through many, and I have about 50 on my Palm Treo now. But there are some places/times where/when my device is not allowed. Beyond that, traditional print books and newspapers never need to be recharged, they never need a network connection, and they never have to be migrated to a new hardware/software platform. I can easily loan my print book to a friend, but I’m certainly not going to loan them my Treo!

I hope that the various facets of the publishing industry can find a comfortable balance before the pendulum swings too far.

(For the record, I first read this story on my Palm Treo when it was delivered through Pocket Express. I read follow-up material on various web sites.)

Seattle P-I to publish last edition Tuesday
Seattle Post-Intelligencer prints final edition in online transition
First big US newspaper goes web only