Ebooks

On Futuristic Door Stops

Recently, I faced the hideous situation of dead hardware. I had gotten dependent upon my Palm T|X. That model of personal digital assistant ("PDA") was great as it had built in 802.11b WiFi as well as Bluetooth. As long as I was within range of a wireless access point that I had rights to use, I had the Internet in my pocket. Early on, it worked quite well with a wireless infrared keyboard. I had a precursor to a netbook in basic form as I could use the keyboard to compose Word-compatible documents on a small screen. The device was great for trying to read online content such as Mobile Twitter, The Dysfunctional Family Circus, Instapundit, and more.

Unfortunately the PDA got stuck in a soft reset loop. It was showing its age. Three years of dutiful service is beyond what would reasonably be considered "mean time between failure". Although I was able to eventually break it free of the soft reset loop, it is now stuck at the digitizer calibration phase of initial setup. After multiple efforts, the digitizer could not be re-calibrated. I had a very futuristic looking doorstop.

Replacing it was an interesting battle. Initially I was carrying a legal pad and pen with me. While my "analog PDA" worked well for me, it was not small. It also looked quite anachronistic in today's world. That did not work well in the end.

Getting a smartphone was out of the question. Nobody calls! As it is now, I don't really have a cell phone simply because the usage for inbound calls was so light. For outbound calls, I use Skype. While devices like the Palm Centro, the Android G1, and the iPhone exist they really do not meet my needs. If I get a phone, I want one that makes calls. I would much rather have a separate PDA let alone a separate camera.

Getting a replacement PDA is a complicated adventure. The market for stand-alone PDAs is virtually non-existent as of late. I visited retailers like Office Max, Office Depot, Best Buy, and even a pawn shop in search of something comparable. Nothing was available as the trend today is the marriage of the PDA and the cellular telephone.

In the end, I had to turn to eBay. In addition to securing a Terminal Node Controller for certain projects, I picked up a replacement. Instead of getting a Nokia N800 as was sought, I wound up with a Palm IIIx. The Palm IIIx, while serviceable, is a very old device. This PDA is actually old enough that it has a battery door to replace the AAA batteries it runs on. I did get a keyboard to go with it but I need to get a suitable cradle to hook it up to a host computer. The device not only does not have Bluetooth, it does not have 802.11b WiFi either. IrDA-compliant infrared is the most the device has for signalling.

With these recent travails in replacing a PDA, I had given quite a bit of thought to eBooks. How truly valuable are eBooks? How do they compare with an old-fashioned RadioShack book light? As neither my paper books nor the Kindle have any backlight in them, such cannot be curled up with in bed without a booklight. Having to shine a booklight on the screen of the Kindle would be no different from shining one on the Palm IIIx. In that situation, you have a better chance of seeing your own reflection than seeing what you want to read. I am twenty seven years old and should not need "The Clapper" to be able to use an eBook device effectively in bed.

While the eBook may seem to be the way of the future, it does seem to be excessively involved and expensive compared to picking up something from the shelf. For those that feel the need to have everything available to them in one place, I suppose eBooks have a place. Right now I am finding print material to be easier and more enjoyable than the eBooks promoted today.

What is important to you: cute or practical?

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On Futuristic Door Stops by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

More and more books digitally published

A shrinking economy and rising technology have transformed how, and how many, books are being published. But the number of "on-demand" books, a category featuring works with tiny, digitally stored print runs, topped 285,000 in 2008, the first time they outnumbered traditional texts. In 2006, there were fewer than 22,000 on-demand titles, which have become an increasingly popular way to bring old books back in print or keep recent releases from going out of print.

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Steal This Book (for $9.99)

David Baldacci, the best-selling thriller author, learned what some of his fans think when “First Family,” his latest novel, went on sale last month. Amazon initially charged a little over $15 for a version for its Kindle reading device, and readers revolted.

Several posted reviews objecting that the electronic edition of the book wasn’t selling for $9.99, the price Amazon has promoted as its target for the majority of e-books in the Kindle store. Hundreds more have joined an informal boycott of digital books priced at more than $9.99.

Full piece in the New York Times.

Contrasted with this story: Amazon losing money on $9.99 e-books and this one: Amazon Enters Publishing with AmazonEncore it will interesting to see how things shake out.

If we Really Read Bradbury, Orwell [et.al]...

The following thoughts come in the afternath of reading the article entitled New Look for Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451' from Publisher's Weekly http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6654436.html?industryid=47140/. As a lover of Ray Bradbury's work, as well as that of George Orwell and other futuristic authors, I pose a few questions.

If we really read Bradbury, Orwell [et.al]...

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Amazon Unveils a Big-Screen Kindle

Most electronic devices are getting smaller. Amazon’s Kindle electronic book reader is bucking the trend.

Amazon on Wednesday introduced a larger version of the Kindle, pitching it as a new way for people to read textbooks, newspapers and their personal documents.

The device, called the Kindle DX (for Deluxe), has a screen that is two and a half times the size of the screens on the two older versions of the Kindle, which were primarily aimed at displaying books. The price tag is also larger: the DX will sell for $489, or $130 more than the previous model, the Kindle 2, and will go on sale this summer.

Full article here.

Photos, details leaked on expected Kindle

Thanks to an apparently surreptitious cameraphone photographer, Engadget has posted some blurry photos of what looks to be the dry run of tomorrow's presentation.

Story here.

This story links to an article in the WSJ titled: Amazon to Launch Kindle for Textbooks

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Looking to Big-Screen E-Readers to Help Save the Daily Press

The iPod stemmed losses in the music industry. The Kindle gave beleaguered book publishers a reason for optimism.

Now the recession-ravaged newspaper and magazine industries are hoping for their own knight in shining digital armor, in the form of portable reading devices with big screens.

Unlike tiny mobile phones and devices like the Kindle that are made to display text from books, these new gadgets, with screens roughly the size of a standard sheet of paper, could present much of the editorial and advertising content of traditional periodicals in generally the same format as they appear in print. And they might be a way to get readers to pay for those periodicals — something they have been reluctant to do on the Web.

Full article in the New York Times

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Reinventing the Book in the Age of the Web

Tim O'Reilly: "The web has changed the nature of how we read and learn. Most books still use the old model of a sustained narrative as their organizational principle. Here, we've used a web-like model of standalone pages, each of which can be read alone (or at most in a group of two or three), to impart key points, highlight interesting techniques or the best applications for a given task. Because the basics are so easy, there's no need to repeat them, as so many technical books do. Instead, we can rely on the reader to provide (much of) the implicit narrative framework, and jump right to points that they might not have thought about."

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There's a Kindle in your (and my) future.

CNET says 70% of Kindle owners are over 40. And half are over 50. So I guess technology isn't just for young whippersnappers. (Kindle is easier on arthritic hands.)

It's not based on a scientific survey, but it's all we got.

I didn't think I wanted a Kindle for my next birthday (soon), but numbers never lie: I'm destined to get one. Soon.

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