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A piece appearing on the Time magazine site looks at the future of traditional and 21st century publishing and reading habits.
"A lot of headlines and blogs to the contrary, publishing isn't dying. But it is evolving, and so radically that we may hardly recognize it when it's done. Literature interprets the world, but it's also shaped by that world, and we're living through one of the greatest economic and technological transformations since--well, since the early 18th century. The novel won't stay the same: it has always been exquisitely sensitive to newness, hence the name. It's about to renew itself again, into something cheaper, wilder, trashier, more democratic and more deliriously fertile than ever."
The Science Fiction Blog io9 has a shorter post summarizing the Time article.
Error Correction of Project Gutenberg eBooks: This is a great and wonderful thing because the one thing in the history of eBooks that separates Project Gutenberg is an everlasting continuing process of improvement.
Hundreds of our eBooks are reissued each year with a variety of improvements, some technical, some in format and/or style of presentation, many with various error corrections.
Seeking to be everything to everyone, Nintendo is set to launch the 100 Classic Book Collection for the Nintendo DS. Since it’s UK-specific, the cartridge with cost £20 (US$30) and will headline dead British authors William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and more. Presumably, if British consumers are willing to shell out £20 for a collection of public domain works, Nintendo will release similar collections around the globe.
Could book lovers finally be willing to switch from paper to pixels? Some could...but others, to quote the Times, "maintain an almost fetishistic devotion to the physical book".
According to the New York Times "the ebook is starting to take hold". Many Kindle buyers appear to be outside the usual gadget-hound demographic. Almost as many women as men are buying it, Mr. Hildick-Smith, president of the Codex group said, and the device is most popular among 55- to 64-year-olds. Codex is a book market research company.
Nobody knows how much consumer habits will shift. But the technology may have more appeal for particular kinds of people, like those who are the heaviest readers.
Perhaps the most overlooked boost to e-books this year — and a challenge to some of the standard thinking about them — came from Apple’s do-it-all gadget, the iPhone. Several e-book-reading programs have been created for the device, and at least two of them, Stanza from LexCycle and the eReader from Fictionwise, have been downloaded more than 600,000 times. Another company, Scroll Motion, announced this week that it would begin selling e-books for the iPhone from major publishers like Simon & Schuster, Random House and Penguin.
All of these companies say they are now tailoring their software for other kinds of smartphones, including BlackBerrys.
Here is the opening paragraph of a thoughtful essay about the future of books and reading.
"The book is modernity’s quintessential technology — 'a means of transportation through the space of experience, at the speed of a turning page,' as the poet Joseph Brodsky put it. But now that the rustle of the book’s turning page competes with the flicker of the screen’s twitching pixel, we must consider the possibility that the book may not be around much longer. If it isn’t — if we choose to replace the book — what will become of reading and the print culture it fostered? And what does it tell us about ourselves that we may soon retire this most remarkable, five-hundred-year-old technology?"
One of my favorite comments: "For an increasing number of librarians, their primary responsibility is teaching computer research skills to young people who need to extract information, like little miners. But these kids are not like real miners, who dig deeply; they are more like ’49ers panning for gold. To be sure, a few will strike a vein, stumbling across a novel or a poem so engrossing that they seek more. But most merely sift through the silty top layers, grab what is shiny and close at hand, and declare themselves rich.”
First Brain Age and now ebooks. The Nintendo DS expands beyond games according to this London timesonline article:
"Nintendo, the Japanese video games company that brought us Donkey Kong and Mario the Plumber, is to announce a deal with the publisher HarperCollins today to make literary classics available to read on its DS portable games consoles.
The 100 Classic Book Collection ranges from Shakespeare and Dickens to Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. It will cost about £20 and will be available initially only in Britain. "
For the physical design, it looks ugly, it feels flimsy, and seems a bit tacky. You can’t even hold the device in your hand without accidently pushing one of the buttons. It’s not a case of having sausage fingers, it’s more the palms of your hands which end up mashing the buttons. Whilst I’m aware this is a technology website, I never thought I’d recommend people stick to their books rather than a device which is meant to revolutionise reading.
Top publishers are revving up their libraries of digital books to capitalize on the presumed success and hype of the Amazon Kindle — actual sales are still based on speculation — but one big name is putting its money on a device that has proven its popularity: the iPhone.
“We’re very bullish on that as a platform. We think it’s gonna be a great competitor to Amazon,” said David Langevin, VP and director of electronic markets for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
Digital Textbooks Gaining Favor: As printed books get more expensive, electronic versions are on the rise as a popular, cost-saving alternative. Mary Hughes Stone, a psychology professor at San Francisco State, often directs her students to iChapters. Stone says it's an "optimal system" for visual learners and she sees "definite value" in the multimedia components. Because the e-books are distributed on the Internet, they also have the advantage of being weightless and easily accessible from any computer.