According to Booker Prize-winning author Penelope Lively, e-books are for "bloodless nerds". Considering her somewhat advanced 78 years, one might assume that this was simply a reaction to new technology, but Lively owns an iPad (although she "wouldn't dream of reading a book on it" unless she was traveling or in hospital) and, for what it's worth, thirteen of her books are available as ebooks, including Moon Tiger (which won the Booker Prize in 1987).
To be fair, although the "bloodless nerd" soundbite is being quoted far and wide today, her full comment was, "It seems to me that anyone whose library consists of a Kindle lying on a table is some sort of bloodless nerd." Do you think she has a point? If a person's entire literary collection was contained within an electronic device, might their experience with reading be a tad soulless? Or does the written word rise above the confines of the media containing it?
NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu is upset that passages on his Kindle ebook reader are, all of a sudden, turning up pre-highlighted:
"I'm reading a new book I downloaded on my Kindle and I noticed an underlined passage. It is surely a mistake, I think. This is a new book. I don't know about you, but I always hated underlined passages in used books.... And then I discovered that the horror doesn't stop with the unwelcomed presence of another reader who's defaced my new book. But it deepens with something called view popular highlights, which will tell you how many morons have underlined before so that not only you do not own the new book you paid for, the entire experience of reading is shattered by the presence of a mob that agitates inside your text like strangers in a train station..." (listen to the full 3 minute broadcast, read the transcript)
Today, Google has finally opened its much talked about online bookstore with over 3 million titles available for free plus hundreds of thousands available for purchase.
Here's hoping that the Google eBookstore will somewhat level the playing field for indie bookstores. In fact, many independent bookstores are already signed up with Google's eBookstore, and early indications are that they're not wasting anytime getting up and running!
In a move that seems destined to put consumer and corporate noses out of joint WOWIO Inc, a provider of digital media content and eBooks (wowio.com) announced on Friday that they have received a Notice of Allowance from the US Patent and Trademark Office for a broad patent application, filed in 2006, covering a variety of methods for delivering ads in eBooks, including contextual ads based on the personal information or demographic criteria of the reader. A Notice of Allowance effectively means that the patent has been approved, and will be issued once the required fee has been paid.
Update Feb 5: Scott Westerfeld's article in the Guardian (UK) summarizes the whole contretemps in one easy to digest article.
Update Feb 4: Truepenny's blog is a great starting point for an update on what's been happening. It includes commentary and links to a follow up letter from Macmillan CEO John Sargent; and an excellent post from Joseph E. Lake Jr. explaining all the people involved in getting one of his books to print and the stages it goes through - which in turn explains why ebooks don't have a much cheaper cost basis than printed books.
Steve Jobs today unveiled the all new iPad tablet which, to quote him, is a "mobile video-watching, book-reading, game-playing, photo-perusing, music-listening, web-surfing, and email-emailing device."
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that its base price starts at $499, which is much lower than the ~$1000 price point industry watchers predicted. At this price it is likely to give dedicated e-readers such as the Kindle and Nook serious competition, and also significantly impact the market for smaller computers known as netbooks.
You will find a thorough description of the new device, as described by Jobs himself here
And for more about the likely pricing and availability of e-books on the iPad click here
Lastly two particularly salient paragraphs lifted from Rik Myslewski's article in theregister.co.uk.....
"And speaking of Amazon's Kindle, Apple clearly is in a gauntlet-throwing mood when it comes to ebooks. But putting aside the epaper-versus-backlit display debate, it's difficult to compare the iPad and the Kindle. The Kindle, for example, can download books from (sorta) anywhere at anytime over Sprint's wireless Whispernet service. To accomplish the same degree of convenience, an iPad owner will not only have to pony up the extra $130 for 3G connectivity, but also pay AT&T $14.99 for 250MB a month or $29.99 for an unlimited data plan.
That said, however, the Kindle is merely a monochrome reader for ebooks (and enewspapers and emagazines and blogs), while the colorful, oleophobic, LED-backlit, 1024-by-768 iPad includes a range of entertainment, creative, and productivity software, plus access to those aforementioned 140,000 iPhone apps. If you're already an iPhone or iPod touch owner, by the way, the iPad will also run all the apps you've purchased for those two handhelds. Another bonus: when docked, the iPad can double as a full-color digital photo frame."