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So, you Kindle people...is it worth it?

 
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 06:57 pm
@sozobe,
I just read his article and the comments. He has some legitimate qualms with it:

1) Not all books are found in the Kindle store. Not all books are found in any store, but if you plan to make something the center of your book world this is important. And this is one more reason that the closed format they use sucks. If the kindle supported epub you'd have more options to purchase the book.

However, no competing service has all the books either and they certainly have more than your local bookstore does.

2) Images and non-text don't display as well. This is certainly true, this is not a full-color device and the presentation is changed. For most books this won't matter, but if the book has a lot of tables and illustrations this may not display well.

3) Page turning isn't as fast as you might expect, because of the way the screen is rendered. It doesn't sound like a big deal for a few moments of lag but this is the kind of thing that actually does aggravate people. Just like the internet seems more awesome when you move from dialup to broadband this will be noticable and irritating to some.

4) He just doesn't like electronic paper. He prefers LCD screens. LCD can do more than electronic paper, but the back lighting does tire the eyes. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, with backlit screens (computers, iphone etc) you can read in the dark (which he liked to on his iPod touch) and you can get full-color representations. But others find it tires their eyes too much, and didn't like ebooks for this reason.

I get his position, because backlit screens don't bother me too much but there is a fundamental advantage to reflective viewing on the eyes that others might appreciate more.

And he briefly mentions something I forgot to, the rumored Apple tablet. It's a pretty strong rumor, and it goes something like this: Apple is developing a big huge iPhone. Like a magazine-sized iPhone.

There's not much more to the rumor, but if true it would almost certainly have a strong reading angle. Laptops aren't used for reading books much for several reasons. One is the backlit screen but the other is that it's not comfortable to hold. One of the main advantages of tablet format would be to address this kind of concern.

So yeah, that might be another one to watch for.

Another thing I forgot to mention that is unrelated to his articles, is that one of the biggest advantages for digital books can already be realized. Google Books already lets you input ISBN's to make your own collection and then lets you search your own book collection. More info on how to do that is in this FAQ but a couple of notes: 1) full-text search only works for books they have scanned, which number in the millions but still the first two books I put in my collection are not full-text searchable.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 07:07 pm
I got his name wrong, it's Nicholson Baker. He's a bit of a library grouch but I've seen his points in the past.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/08/03/090803fa_fact_baker
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 07:04 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

Technology is a tool, it can be isolating or very social. It's what you make of it.

I think you are just a bit of a technophobe. ;-)



mmmm....not in this case.

I mean, if someone is reading a kindle, all you see is them looking at a white device.

You can't see a partial title between the thumb and forefinger of the reader, or the name of an author you love, or have an interest in trying.
You don't see the enticing cover, making you wonder what in the world that's all about.

Beyond the intital, "what's that, a kindle?" which of course the novelty of that would quickly disappear, you really don't have the opportunity to have one of those encounters with someone, where you find you have a lot in common. Just last week, I was in a deli picking up some lunch, and I saw a woman reading something I'd wanted to get. Long story short, we ended up having about a 15 minute conversation together, she inviting me to sit at her table for a bit. I've never seen a person sitting at their laptop and wanted to ask "what're you doing/reading?" I think I'd get a weird look if I did.

Heh, thinking back, I even ended up going on a date with a guy that started the conversation with something like "Is that a good book?"

I think the problem could be solved if there was a way to display the cover of the ebook, authors name, etc. on the back of the kindle while the person is reading.

I think it would be good advertising also. How many books have we bought because we saw somene else reading it?
I'm sure the author and their publishers would love to have the public see what a person was reading on a kindle.

You could have the option of turning that off, if you want to be left alone.

A book can be social, if you're reading it in public.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 07:08 am
@chai2,
Huh?

If I see anyone I know reading a book, whatever it is on, however it looks, I ask.

I just generally ask friends what they are reading.

And I cannot imagine I would be more or less likely to ask a stranger based on whether I can see the cover or not.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 07:08 am
@chai2,
I've started conversations with people reading Kindles. Hey, is that a Kindle? Do you like it? What are you reading? The gamut.

I know what you mean about a laptop but that feels different -- maybe they're talking to their boyfriend/girlfriend or doing sensitive work stuff or whatever. Stuff I wouldn't want to interrupt/ be nosy about. But if they're reading a Kindle, you know they're reading something, akin to reading a book.

The main difference I think is not asking but commenting on something that you can see that someone's reading, which I've also done. (Hey, I've read that book... what do you think of it?) (Yes, I'm a regular chatty Cathy.)
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 07:13 am
@sozobe,
Cathobe.

Heheheheeheehehehe
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 07:41 am
@dlowan,
my sister had one...I gave her a haircut

http://www.cglen.com/SendIns/PREV/200801/ET327.jpeg
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 08:30 am
@panzade,
um....I see just a cross sign.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 08:31 am
@dlowan,
Hehehehe....Chatty Cathy doll, eh?

Is that where Soz's phrase came from?
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 09:25 am
@dlowan,
Yep.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 10:05 am
@sozobe,
sozobe wrote:

Yep.


Chatty Cathy was the inspiration for the The Twilight Zone "Living Doll" episode originally broadcast November 1, 1963. June Foray, who had been the voice of the original Chatty Cathy, provided the voice for Talky Tina, the episode's evil doll. One of her phrases was, "I'm Talky Tina...and I'm going to kill you."
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 10:15 am
@chai2,
chai2 wrote:
I mean, if someone is reading a kindle, all you see is them looking at a white device.

You can't see a partial title between the thumb and forefinger of the reader, or the name of an author you love, or have an interest in trying.
You don't see the enticing cover, making you wonder what in the world that's all about.


You should do something like ask "what are you reading" then if you want to talk. If the title is displayed visibly I don't get why you find the question more appropriate.

Quote:
A book can be social, if you're reading it in public.


Anything can be social. I've seen you call headphones anti-social too. Once on a bus a big homeless dude (looked like the black guy from Green Mile) was drinking from a bottle in his backpack (he had it on the front) sitting next to me, and then started leaning onto me. At first I thought he was just a tilting drunk but when I looked over at him (with his head almost on my shoulder) he cracked a huge smile and said "sweeet home Alamaba!" (the song I was listening to).

He started singing, I started singing and soon the whole bus was stomping and singing (including the driver). It was way cool.

But yeah, all newfangled technology is antisocial... if you are off put by technology.
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 11:37 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

chai2 wrote:
I mean, if someone is reading a kindle, all you see is them looking at a white device.

You can't see a partial title between the thumb and forefinger of the reader, or the name of an author you love, or have an interest in trying.
You don't see the enticing cover, making you wonder what in the world that's all about.


You should do something like ask "what are you reading" then if you want to talk. If the title is displayed visibly I don't get why you find the question more appropriate.



don't go off saying I'm anti technology, I'm not even going to go there.

As I said in the rest of the post above, if someone is out in public, staring at a laptop screen, most of the time people aren't going to walk up and say "watcha doin'?"

Just as, I don't feel most people would be that interested to go up to someone looking at something that looks an awful lot like a laptop screen (smaller of course) from the back, nothing but an anonymous piece of plastic. I also mentioned that right now, I could see someone asking "is that a kindle, tell me about it"....but that wouldn't last long. Can you imagine saying to someone today "wow, is that one of those cell phones/pda's/ipods? How do you like it?"

I see lots of people reading books, that, if I take a 2nd to glimpse the cover, I'd have no interest in talking to them about it.
I can see they're reading, let's say a book on the political climate in some country I know nothing about, and don't have a big interest in learning about. It could be a book about sports cars, baseball, some mushy romance, etc. I'm not going to flair up a conversation with someone who is reading about engines, or how Duke Alfredo is making advances on Mary Lou Higgenbotham of Farmland, America. If they're friendly, I'm going to be trying to hold my end up in a conversation about basketball, which I would totally be unable to do, and was not prepared to politely disengage. It would be ackward to say the least.

If I see they're reading something medical, phychological, a thriller, or a new book out on by an author I love, I'm likely to ask them about it.

So, what's wrong with the idea of putting a screen on the part of the book others can see?

Personally, I think that's a brilliant idea of marketing, and I deserve 50% of increased profits for coming up with that idea.

Just like on an ipod someone else can see what's playing, a kindle will soon have a way to show people what you're reading.

The woman I sat down with? I wouldn't have asked her if I was just walking by with my ruben sandwich, noting she was reading. There were probably 3 other people there reading. I wouldn't have walked up to everyone in the place asking them.

But, what she was reading caught my eye. I noticied the authors name, I shared with her another author who I thought she might like. Before the conversation even began, I knew we had at least one little thing in common.

Oh God, I just had a thought...you walk up to someone reading a kindle, and randomly ask "What are you reading?"

Oh, it's a book about how we can live our lives the way Jesus would, if he was here today. But, we know he IS here today, because he died on the cross to save us all from our sins.....Are you a christian? You not? Well let me talk to you all about it while you're trying to back away and escape.

I don't think I would ever have talked to the person reading that, if I could have seen the cover.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 01:29 pm
@chai2,
chai2 wrote:
Can you imagine saying to someone today "wow, is that one of those cell phones/pda's/ipods? How do you like it?"


Yes, happens all the time. "Oh, you have the iPhone? How do you like it. Can I give it a spin?" "Is that the new touch Windows Mobile phone from HTC? How do you like it?"

Those are both real conversations I had.

Quote:
So, what's wrong with the idea of putting a screen on the part of the book others can see?


Other than reduced battery life I don't think there's much wrong with it, I just don't think it's antisocial just because it isn't already there. You could also argue that all books are antisocial, because I might be more inclined to talk to someone who wasn't reading, or that sunglasses are etc.

I guess what I'm saying is that it doesn't have to be antisocial to everyone.

Quote:
I don't think I would ever have talked to the person reading that, if I could have seen the cover.


Then I guess it could be antisocial to see what they are reading as well... Laughing
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 01:30 pm
This has really got me thinking. I'm actually amazed that kindle and other ebook devices haven't already incorporated this into their design.

So what if no one can see the cover of what you're reading?

Well, if that were the case, why don't all books just look like this?

http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:kaBJkLzJuAvd8M:http://sonrisewg.com/SonriseWG/images/generic%2520book.jpg

Why doesn't every can of soda look like this? As long as you know what's in the can, it tastes the same.

http://www.istockphoto.com/file_thumbview_approve/9262557/2/istockphoto_9262557-blank-drink-can.jpg
I mean, what difference would it make? Right?

Back when books were an uncommon object, a item of luxury, it wouldn't matter if there was artwork on the cover.

If you were one of the few people who could read, and knew other people who could read, the quality/storyline of the book was through word of mouth.

When the masses became literate, appearance became more important, to attract readership of people who wanted to choose from the wide array now available.

Sure, people who devour books may or may not care what it looks like, but what about the casual reader?

There are lots of people who only read 1 or 2 books a year, if that. Others read maybe half a dozen. I'd say that's a large portion of the population, and booksellers/publishers/writers compete for their seldom spent dollars.

If I were a writer, I would want the thoroughly enticing cover of my book prominently displayed in as many places as possible.
To download a book off the internet, one has to actual make an effort to go to that website.
I'm sure a fair amount of books are sold by people who happen to be walking by a bookstore, and see something that interest them.

dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 03:41 pm
@sozobe,
THAT'S not very Chatty.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 03:42 pm
@chai2,
Quote:
Why doesn't every can of soda look like this? As long as you know what's in the can, it tastes the same.


Advertising.
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 05:22 pm
I actually like the privacy a Kindle offers. I was always a little annoyed when someone (usually a male) would sit next to me on a train or airplane and suddenly bend forward or back trying to see some text or the book cover before asking 'so whatcha reading". This often led to conversations I didn't want to have. I remember one situation when I reading a book about Jimmy Carter while flying from NY to NC. A man sat down next to me and, once he saw the book, proceeded to give me all his political thoughts about the Carter administration, hostages in Iran, the economy of the last decade and even a few opinions as to why you should never eat raw peanuts. It should have been a short flight, but it seemed like it took days. I cherish my privacy at home and abroad. If I want to discuss my reading material with strangers I will join a book club.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 05:25 pm
@Green Witch,
You know what I hate?

It's when someone comes to your home, examines your book shelves, and starts to criticise.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Oct, 2009 05:30 pm
@Green Witch,
I thought someone might say something like that and I'd planned to post a caveat but forgot... anyway, the caveat is that when I strike up conversations I go for cues first. Catching someone's eye, seeing what their reaction is, etc., before jumping in. And also stopping if they're being terse/ otherwise indicating they want to just read already.

I've had the obnoxious people yabber at me too, I know what you mean.

Dlowan, yeah, that sucks.
 

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