What impatient folk we are. While publishers are delaying the release of a book's Kindle edition to give the hardcover edition a chance to sell, Kindle readers (kindlers?) despair over the wait.
Case in point: the much buzzed about new book "Game Change," which spills secrets about the 2008 presidential election. The book has been deluged with one-star, negative reviews from apparent Kindle fans who are protesting publisher HarperCollins' decision to delay the Kindle version to Feb. 23. Those one-star reviews have contributed to a ho-hum average customer review rating of a 2.5 stars (out of 5). Customer reviews are an important factor for book sales on Amazon, and it will be interesting to see if the Kindle protests spread.
Here's one example of a customer's review of "Game Change": "This is time-sensitive material. No one is going to care in 6 weeks when it is released for the kindle. People want it now. The publisher is shooting themselves in the foot. They'd have made more money overall by offering the kindle version now."
Shelf Awareness contributing editor Jenn Northington, general manager at breathe books in Baltimore, MD offers her opinions on the pros and cons of a variety of e-readers, particularly as they pertain to booksellers:
"The first order of business was to pick my weapon of choice. Lord knows, there are umpteen million e-readers. However, I tend to ignore reviews in favor of my "poke it before you buy it" policy--if a piece of software or hardware doesn't do what I want or expect it to do, I move right along (unless I am absolutely forced to use it for some reason). This puts 90% of e-readers out of the running; the only ones you can try before you buy are the Sony Touch and Pocket Editions, and Barnes & Noble's nook. (The Kindle was out of the running automatically because--need I say it?--if it doesn't support the ePub format, it doesn't support independent bookstores. Plus, you can't get your hands on it without purchasing it.)"
She concludes "Because of the high demand for e-readers, the only one available immediately (when I went looking; things may have changed in the past week) was the Sony Pocket. So I'll be waiting until February for my nook to arrive. But not to worry! The next of the installment of her column in Shelf Awareness (the Nitty Gritty): what to do while you're waiting for your e-reader."
John Naughton says The ebook reader may have advantages over unwieldy printed tomes, but it has unexpected drawbacks. "You don't have to be a lawyer to know that this would not be tolerated in the real world of physical objects.Yet it's commonplace – indeed universal – in the world of information goods. And what makes it possible is the "End User Licence Agreement" (EULA) that most of us click to accept when we first use hardware, software or online services."
7 October 2009
There is a film titled "A Mighty Wind". It is a great film in the genre of the mockumentary. Unfortunately this piece is not about that film. Instead we get to talk about mighty winds.
Overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, northeast Ohio was battered with high-velocity winds. Wind gusts were estimated at points around forty-five miles per hour. Rain was scattered. Branches were felled by this mighty wind. This was something that would lead into something worse.
I was already woke up once by the whistling winds outside my bedroom windows. After I caught another two hours of sleep, I woke up to find a lack of power. The first priority, though, was to secure down the facility in light of the winds. This meant running around locking up the barn, checking on the corn crib that doubles as the "cat house" and more. The barn cats were no dummies and seemed to fly inside as soon as a door was opened.
After waiting a while in case the power outage was transient, we departed for somewhere with power. This part of Ohio has two seasons: "snow" and "not snow". It was getting cold and when we called the outage in to First Energy we were not even given an estimated time of restoration.
The outage pointed out some problems. First and foremost, my battery-operated transistor radio worked fine. I could hear WWOW's morning program just fine. The time signal on shortwave from WWV was still audible. Computers in the house were fancy-looking door stops. Laptop batteries have a particular mean time between failure and unfortunately some batteries were miserable failures. Desktops could not be fired up without electricity. The Apple portable media player had a decent battery charge but it was preserved for as long as possible.
While we went driving, we saw what looked to be part of the problem. Kingsville Township Volunteer Fire Department was out responding to a downed electrical line. The line was sparking and the field it was being buffeted around in due to the high winds bore scorch marks from the fires it started. This felt all too reminiscent of the huge outage in 2003 that covered a significant chunk of the northeastern United States as well as the Canadian province of Ontario. In that case a tree that fell started a cascade that wiped out power to many.
For librarians, this presents some interesting points. While the data cloud might be proposed to be a great tool, it would have been a miserable failure in the face of a power outage. If a Kindle were possessed on the farm it would have been useless for downloading as Sprint has no coverage at the farm. Although news was just released that AT&T will be eventually providing data coverage for Kindles, that would still not help here. Power had to be shepherded in battery operated devices as there was no way to know when service would be restored. That would wipe out any hope of mobile broadband or similar backstops for accessing the cloud. Thankfully the backup power supplies at the cell towers were intact long enough to call in outage reports but I would not have pushed my luck in seeking data through those means.
This was a case where books won out. Candlelight or the light from a hurricane lamp would be sufficient provided I could find my glasses. Analog tools like that did not need power to operate and would have carried through.
Fortunately the outage only lasted a few hours and service was restored for us by the early evening. Not everybody in northeast Ohio affected by this have seen service restored yet. This does leave an issue for librarians to ponder. While issues like irregular power are normally thought of as things happening to the poor abroad, what happens when the homeland does not seem as impervious to such problems? How do you plan effective information access over digital means in light of such?
An Ill Wind Blows by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Scott Douglas:My guess is there’s going to be some bigger announcement by Amazon regarding public domain by the end of the year. Which begs the question: what happens if I want to re-download a book that was removed because of this new policy? And further isn't this make a little bit too much of a monopoly for the company? Publishers big and small have successfully republished public domain works with new covers and different authors providing introductions for the past hundred years. A larger percentage of the publishing industry is made up of this kind of practice. For Amazon to say that they will only let one publisher sell something like Huck Finn seems a little odd, and frankly illegal to me.
An Essay of the LISNews Summer Series
I'm a conflicted person, it would seem. I regularly use, and encourage the use of, open source software. In some settings -- public computing, thin client, and cloud environments -- there isn't, in my mind, any closed system that comes close to delivering what an open platform offers.
I believe heartily that open source code benefits both developers and end-users -- in perpetuity. Open source development efforts can (and do) die -- but the application, the code, the vital organs that sustained it during development live on. An abandoned open source software project is much like what the medical profession calls a beating heart cadaver. I learned this from Mary Roach's book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.
The fact that I read books about corpses that have more of a life than I do isn't what makes me a conflicted soul. The fact that I read it on my second generation Kindle most certainly does. -- Read More
The Kindle and the Future of Reading by Nicholson Baker in the current issue of the New Yorker. It starts...
"I ordered a Kindle 2 from Amazon. How could I not? There were banner ads for it all over the Web. Whenever I went to the Amazon Web site, I was urged to buy one. “Say Hello to Kindle 2,” it said, in tall letters on the main page. If I looked up a particular writer on Amazon—Mary Higgins Clark, say—and then reached the page for her knuckle-gnawer of a novel “Moonlight Becomes You,” the top line on the page said, “ ‘Moonlight Becomes You’ and over 270,000 other books are available for Amazon Kindle—Amazon’s new wireless reading device. Learn more.” Below the picture of Clark’s physical paperback ($7.99) was another teaser: “Start reading ‘Moonlight Becomes You’ on your Kindle in under a minute. Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.” If I went to the Kindle page for the digital download of “Moonlight Becomes You” ($6.39), it wouldn’t offer me a link back to the print version. I was being steered."
From San Francisco's Green Apple Books Blog (video piece), Pete writes:
"People keep asking me, as an owner of an old-fashioned brick-and-mortar independent bookstore, what I think of the Amazon Kindle, one of the many “e-readers” available. So I bought one.
I admit, I was curious. The buzz is nearly screeching; and there must be a reason we don’t sell as many John Grisham novels as we did when I started 16 years ago; and who can resist the appeal of a new gadget dedicated to one of life’s necessary pleasures: reading.
Sure, I had heard some bad stories: there’s the class-action lawsuit against Amazon concerning screens that crack. And the recent brouhaha about Amazon silently removing 1984, Animal Farm, and other titles from Kindles (albeit for a good reason—they had sold pirated copies). And having seen Amazon founder Jeff Bezos laughing on Jon Stewart's Daily Show is enough to make anyone scared.
And while there are some thoughtful, balanced articles out there, like Nicholson Baker’s piece in the current New Yorker, I wanted to see for myself.
So Green Apple's crack video crew came at it with an open mind, pitting “The Book” against the Kindle in a smack-down of the most literary sort. We had plenty of help from some, um, "talented" folks, as you'll see."
This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for—thought they owned.
But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved.