Next step in ebook evolution

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Guest » 02/19/07 12:19 AM

If you're tracking the development of the ebook, or if you'd just like to see the future before it actually arrives, take a look at Polymer Vision\'s new Readius. This is the coolest thing I've seen in quite some time. It's like an iPod for books.
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Postby Guest » 02/19/07 02:19 AM

That is the next step in the evolution of the e-ink screen. A flexible screen dramatically changes the use model, because one only carries a small device but can unfold/unroll to a large screen.

But so far I have not heard any concrete product releases using a flexible screen. There are also still some problems around the polymer/organic TFTs, but in 3-5 years I expect to see the first real products for sale.

This also starts to change the observation that 'one cannot cosy up with an ebook'. For example Richard Kaufman wrote in another thread:
There is no "comfort" in online reading--it's a cold and clinical experience. The "warmth" of reading a printed book is something that will be lost to younger generations as they start using e-book readers in schools to eliminate the cost of printed textbooks.
I can see myself develop quite a warm and cosy feeling and experience reading an ebook on such a flexible-screen device.

Best,
Chris....
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/19/07 09:10 AM

I had no doubt that you would tell us that you find electronics warm and cozy.
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Postby Guest » 02/19/07 09:22 AM

Anyone who has ever worked in a TV shop and accidently leaned into a 30,000 volt High Voltage transformer know how warm a feeling you can get from electronics.
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Postby Guest » 02/19/07 10:24 AM

While the Polymer site showed endless computer generated pictures of the device rotating around, there was nothing answering the magic question: How much?

Also, no info that I saw about whether the input will be open or proprietary.

Designers can come up with a lot of "neat stuff" but whether it is cost effective and actually usable are often other matters entirely.
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Postby Guest » 02/19/07 01:47 PM

Once the iPhone is available it'll be difficult for a one-use device to compete...

Although the screen real estate is smaller on the iPhone, the high resolution screen plus video/phone/internet capabiltiies should trump other offerings like this...
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Postby Guest » 02/19/07 01:59 PM

The Treo already works really well as an ebook reader, and it's what I use. It's a lot easier to put in your pocket than most magic books.

Remember, everyone who's reading this forum has an "ebook reader", whether it's desktop, laptop, or tablet.
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Postby Guest » 02/19/07 02:10 PM

David, as far as I understand this website, it is a screen manufacturer who shows design concepts of how its screen can be used. I don't think there is any device currently slated for release.

The usability issue is pretty straight forward. Would a flexible screen be better than a rigid screen? Everything else being equal, yes, of course. There is no reason a phone couldn't have a flexible screen, too. Whatever one wants to call the device is unimportant. The major development is that there will be screens that will come awfully close to the experience of reading from paper.

Let me tease Richard a bit more with the 'warm and fuzzy' feeling. Imagine the following scenario:

You sit with the book "Greater Magic" in your preferred cozy reading sofa/chair. Everything is perfect, the light the sounds, you brued some hot tea and start reading the tome. After a few minutes your hands start to ache because it is a hefty book and too heavy to be held comfortably for extended periods. On top of that you read a paragraph where you would like to consult your "Encyclopedic Dictionary of Magic" which is on a shelf that you can't reach from your sofa. So you put down "Greater Magic" get up and walk to the shelf. Jesus, where did you put the dictionary? Just yesterday you thought you put it right there next to the "Card College" volumes. Oh my - you start searching. "Honey, were you in the library yesterday? Did you CLEAN UP!?" Finally, you are lucky - you found it among notes about your latest research project into who was Erdnase. You walk back to your sofa. For Christ sake "Greater Magic" closed and you lost the page you just read. It takes you another five minutes to find the page. Ok, what was this appartus called? You look it up in the Dictionary. Then a flash in your mind - somewhere I remember reading about this - but where in the 1000 books in my library would it be? You give up.

Compare this to:

You sit with the ebook "Greater Magic" in your preferred cozy reading sofa/chair using the latest flexible screen e-ink reader from Gizmo Co. Everything is perfect, the light the sounds, you brued some hot tea and start reading the tome. It is remarkable how light this thing is. You read a paragraph where you would like to consult your "Encyclopedic Dictionary of Magic". Well, you have it on the same e-reader. You just highlight the word and click the look-up function which brings you directly to "Encyclopedic Dictionary of Magic". Great here it is. You read intently. You quickly switch back and forth between "Greater Magic" and the dictionary. How convenient. Then a flash in your mind - somewhere I remember reading about this - but where? Well, no problem, you search your e-Lybrary on your e-reader and voila, here it is in "Modern Magic" by Hoffman. "Of course", you think to yourself "how could I forget this".

In a few years, believe me, this scenario will play out many times. Welcome to the warm and fuzzy digital world.

Best,
Chris....
www.lybrary.com
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Postby Jon Elion » 02/19/07 03:01 PM

The " Sony Reader " was mentioned on another thread a while ago; it seemed appropriate to re-post the link as this likes a very practical form factor and approach to the hand-held electronic book.
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Postby Guest » 02/19/07 04:24 PM

OK, Chris, let me tease you a bit with two "warm and fuzzy" scenarios.

I'm sitting in my den looking through a copy of Greater Magic on my Gizmo digital reader. It contains my magic library so research is, as you describe it, easy and simple to do.

I set the Gizmo reader down and walk to another room. While I'm out of the room a friend's child walks into the room and accidentally spills a drink on my Gismo reader. It shorts out and is ruined. I have access to my library as soon as I pull the memory chip and pony up another $500 for a new device, if the memory chip isn't ruined as well.

This, of course, is the third time this year that the device has been damaged - once it fell out of my pocket and another time it just stopped working after the warrantee had expired - so I'm out over $1,000 for new devices, money I could have spent on other things. With a digital library I have access to the information only as long as I have a working device with working batteries.

Or, I'm sitting in my den reading my real book version of Greater Magic. I set it down and a friend's child accidentally spills a glass of liquid on it. The spill is caught right away, the damage is minimal and at worst, the book has a few stains on the cover and edges of the pages. The information in the book is still there, as is the rest of my magic library, being on shelves out of the way, and I not out anything.
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Postby Jeff Haas » 02/19/07 04:55 PM

As Uncle Duke from Doonesbury has said, Duct Tape is the solution to many child-care problems.
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Postby Guest » 02/19/07 05:35 PM

Replacement cost aside, digital information is fleeting. One big electromagnetic pulse could really ruin an e-book reader's day ....

Chris' scenarios are certainly attractive vis--vis research. But the attractiveness would seem to decline precipitously when purely recreational reading is involved. I dont know, but my gut tells me that most people in the world read recreationally or for news and not for purposes of research.
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Postby Guest » 02/19/07 06:42 PM

I'm not a huge fan of cozying up with digital media for reading.

I read a couple of novels on screen and really did not like the experience.

That said, these "whoops an EMP just lost my library" scenarios are really silly. If there's an EMP... we have other problems.

On the other hand, since you have a license stored offsite for well managed digital media, you can get to it from anywhere via a browser and your password. And if (God forbid) you have a fire or flood ... guess what... you still have your library.

As to the Dennis the Menace situation mentioned above... sure, he might pour soda on your Shakespeare First Folio or use your Greater Magic to make paper mache or paper airplanes or ... okay... get the picture?

Electronic media are (IMHO) still not cozy and never will replace the full sensory experience of a nicely made and printed book (think of Blake's prints and poetry or something hand crafted) BUT it will serve the scholar doing first level research.

PAX

:)
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Postby Guest » 02/19/07 08:30 PM

... these "whoops an EMP just lost my library" scenarios are really silly. If there's an EMP... we have other problems.
We will indeed, but one of them won't be the loss of printed literature. JT must not believe that literature is mankind's heart and soul. To each his own. But as technology progresses and computers become woven into the core fabric of our existence, attacks on that technology will have increasingly devastating effects. Its unwise to equate unlikelihood (at the moment and given the state of things) with silliness.
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Postby Guest » 02/19/07 10:09 PM

My chief objection to these things is that the screen is too small for me to read. I would need to carry a big magnifier with me so I could read this tiny bugger.
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Postby Guest » 02/20/07 01:27 AM

Gimme a break! Backups, people, backups....

I have at least 4 copies of my eBooks on different drives on different machines. Not counting various CD/DVD-based backups. Not counting the permanent copies Chris keeps of the tomes I have purchased from him.

If I had a fire in my home (far more likely than a rogue EMP) I will lose far more printed info than digital. Fire smoke and water damage will wipe out my printed library, but with my off-line backups (.Mac provides a great way to sync all of my critical data to a central site which allows me to access it from any computer anywhere) all I need to do is pony up for a new piece of hardware and I am back in business. Much cheaper than replacing my printed library!

Don't get me wrong - the very reason I HAVE a printed library is 'cos I prefer reading books to eBooks for relaxation. But some of you come up with some real spurious reasons for preferring one over the other.

I look forward to the day when the eBook experience IS just as warm and fuzzy as the printed book experience, 'cos right now I am moving house yet again and I would much prefer to pack a single hard drive in my bag than lug all those boxes of heavy books about!

Bob
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Postby Guest » 02/20/07 03:54 AM

Several feeble attempts to justify paper my friends :-)

1) Liquids: These flexible screens, being made out of plastic are by definition waterproof. And the electronic part could easily be made waterproof and be ruggedized, as is already done for many years with laptops, cell phones, walkmans, etc. (BTW David, I am around kids a lot and they are not that clumsy :-))

2) EMP: Optical storage such as CDs, and DVDs are immune against an EMP. Also flash memory, as far as I understand the electronics, would not necessarily be destroyed during an EMP. And as Bob Walder mentioned before, the fact that digital contents can easily be duplicated for backup purposes, there is a much bigger chance to avoid data loss due to much more common and likely disasters big and small.

3) Pleasure Reading. Even the pure pleasure reader who does not need to research and search will derive significant benefits from such a flexible screen e-reader. i) They are smaller than the average book, but can be unrolled to have a screen just as large or larger than the average book. This is true for the single book comparison. But I bet most read from various sources during the day, say a novel, newspaper, magazine. ii) They are lighter. Even with a single book comparison, an e-reader would be lighter than the average book. iii) One can have several ebooks, newspapers, magazines available for reading. Choice is the keyword. Why do people need 10,000 songs on their iPods? Can and do they listen to all of them? No. But they like to have the choice. Same with books. Once readers find out that they could carry their entire unread stack of books with them they will not want to have it any other way.

Best,
Chris....
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/20/07 09:53 AM

These arguments are annoying, and bound to continue for years.

Chris is simply wrong about, for example, the issue of water regarding electronics when he cites, for example, his cell phone.

I don't know about you folks, but I had a cell phone get wet and it died. I dropped another cell phone--it died. Had either of these instances involved a book, dropping it would have dented it, but not destroyed it. Water spilled would have dampened the rear cover, but not ruined the book.
Books can be dropped, dampened, thrown out of the window, and abused in many ways. You can still read them afterward. That's one of the beautiful things about the printed word--"It takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'." Electronics? Kiss your $400 goodbye.
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Postby Guest » 02/20/07 10:24 AM

And with books, they age well (I love the smell of musty books), can be EASILY read on a train, plane, taffic-jam...in a cafe...in bed etc., etc. Yes, I know e-books can be read that way, but not without a PC of some kind! Too much PC reading gives you snow-blindness! Hooray for hardcopy books...good old Caxton!
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Postby Guest » 02/20/07 10:39 AM

Richard,

a bit of Googling would have provided confirmation of what I wrote:

waterproof cell phone: Sony-Ericsson
waterproof cell phone: LG
waterproof iPod shuffle
rugged & waterproof PDAs

And these are just a few examples.
I will be glad to wait until a cigar-sized ebook-reader with a flexible screen hits the market. It will rest in my shirt pocket and whenever I feel like reading I will take it out, pull out the screen and read. When I am done everything retracts to the cigar-shaped tube and goes back into my pocket. No, you can't smoke it.

Best,
Chris....
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Postby Guest » 02/20/07 11:53 AM

Years ago I got into a discussion with an historian of science who could not understand why the Dvorak keyboard was not in widespread use. Dvorak was far more efficient and easily learned and made for fewer mistakesand has been around for over 50 years. I pointed out that the installed base was QWERTY and that QWERTY would remain the standard for the foreseeable future regardless of the benefits of Dvorak.

The QWERTY keyboard was designed to slow down typists who typed faster than the early mechanical keyboards could accommodate. Once the keyboard was standardized schools that taught touch typing came into existence and the installed base became widespread and codified into business and society.

The need to slow down the typist is no longer a consideration with electronic keyboards, but the QWERTY layout remains the standard in most trainings and production. Even though Dvorak can be easily installed on an electronic keyboard, it has not gained the purchase it needs to become THE standard.

Now, substitute printed books for the standard keyboard and e-books for Dvorak layout and you have a similar situation.

While e-books have certain advantages over traditional ink and paper publishing, the installed base has a certain social and business inertia that must be overcome. Then there is the efficiency of design and convenience not to mention cultural bias and expectations think libraries, publishers, bookstores, etc. - that will take decades to overcome.

As Ive said before, e-books are fantastic for niche/special interest publishing where information is the desired purchase and reprinting an old text would be cost-prohibitive given the small market. However, the greatest potential market for e-books is in colleges and universities where a student could download all the texts and required reading for a course into a reading pad at a far cheaper price that the cost of traditional ink and paper texts today.

Doing this would eliminate the great problem faced by all publishers: the inability to make money off subsequent readers of a book when it is sold to a second owner. This problem is eliminated by the reader pad and electronic publishing, the downloaded texts being eliminated after the course has been completed. Why textbook publishers have not realized this and converted is anyones guess.

When textbook publishers start offering that scenario, the e-book will have arrived.
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Postby Guest » 02/20/07 12:11 PM

David,

Nice try, but your analogy is wrong on pretty much every level one wants to look at it.

For an existing keyboard user, the Dvorak keyboard would mean a big investment in acquiring the new skill to use it. Once you know how to write on QWERTY you are not going to relearn to use DVORAK. The marginal benefit is too small, because most are far away from reaching a speed limited by QWERTY.

There is no skill to acquire to read and benefit from ebooks.

Of course, there are habit and behavior hurdles, and there are economic, business practice and infrastructure hurdles. But nothing like your QWERTY/DVORAK example.

Once ebooks have their iPod the ebook adoption rate will speed up. The flexible e-ink screen could very well be the enabler to the 'iPod' for the ebook.

Best,
Chris....
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Postby Guest » 02/20/07 12:19 PM

FWIW: I happened to stumble upon the Sony e-book reader at Borders Books. What I thought was a demo unit with a paper insert was actually a working device. The 'look' was very unusual to me as I expected a backlit display. It is astonishingly accurate to a paper print. The screen is matte not glossy, larger screen than a PDA, not back lit, and extremely easy on the eyes. The only way to appreciate it to to hold it and try it out.

However, I'm sticking to my iPaq PDA for versatility purposes.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/20/07 12:35 PM

Just a quick comment on QWERTY vs. Dvorak:

At one point in my college career, I decided to make the switch from QWERTY to Dvorak. The investment was minimal -- I used my regular keyboard and simply popped off and replaced the keys in the appropriate manner. Then I simply changed the setting in Windows to recognize the Dvorak layout rather than QWERTY. So right off the bat, there's no financial investment. The only necessity was taking the time to relearn where the keys were. Since my keyboard had been re-laid-out, and I was using it constantly, I'd say that within a couple of days I was fluent in Dvorak. Not only that, but I was able to seamlessly switch between the two -- I could work on my computer in my dorm room using Dvorak and later sit at a computer in the lab and use QWERTY without thinking. The process was easy and simple. The worst of it was probably the tediousness of popping off the keys and placing them back in the Dvorak positions. I had a friend who solved that problem -- his computer used a regular keyboard, but the computer was mapped for Dvorak. So he'd hit the 'O' key, and get an 'R' onscreen. Confusing, but it worked for him.

Not sure where I was going with that...

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 02/20/07 12:56 PM

Jim,

Just wondering, do you write faster than before? I think most would stop where they need to pop-off keys from their keyboard, particularly when it comes to laptops where it isn't so easy to exchange a broken keyboard.

Best,
Chris....
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/20/07 01:26 PM

Well, I don't use it anymore. I share a computer with my wife, who, despite the fact that it would be of use to her*, was simply too stuck in QWERTY mode to make the switch. I should note that she uses the computer FAR less than I do -- I'm certain that if she sat in front of it as much as I do, she would have no trouble switching over.

My friend who used the Dvorak mapping with a regular keyboard endless frustrated his girlfriend at the time who would type on his computer only to find garbage on the screen. This prompted her to exclaim "Why can't this type like a HUMAN!" His response was to set up a macro so that if you typed "human" it would switch between Dvorak and QWERTY.

Anyway, I never timed myself, but my informal feeling was that I did type faster when using Dvorak. You definitely fall into a good, alternating rhythm when typing on a Dvorak keyboard, I think.

Certainly popping off the keys is not something the average person would do, but if you want to make a minimal financial investment, you can purchase an actual Dvorak keyboard or, for even less money, stickers which you can place on top of your current keyboard. Obviously, for laptops, switching out the keyboard isn't really a viable option, but again, you can get stickers to put on top of the current keys.

-Jim
*About ten years ago, she was involved in a tragic brownie-cutting accident** that sent a knife through her left hand. She was lucky that there was barely any nerve damage, and most people wouldn't even know unless they looked closely at her hand, but still, it doesn't operate at full potential. If she has to do any prolonged typing, the hand will tend to ache and typos become more frequent.

**To the best of my knowledge, the brownies were OK.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 02/20/07 01:35 PM

My son has washed his cell phone three times, my wife has washed hers once, and they still work fine.

Now, if I wash mine, which is the same model as theirs, two will get you ten that the SOB doesnt work afterward; its just my luck that it wouldnt.

But frankly, who gives a good rats rear-end?

If we survive the asteroid, electronics will eventually replace books. Its a done deal because it will cost less for publishers to do so and thats all they care about: Their bottom line.

And it will be a sad day.

Dustin

(Not Dannielynns father.)
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Postby Guest » 02/20/07 02:06 PM

From Dustin: "...it will cost less for publishers to do so and thats all they care about..."

Not all publishers care just about /$$! If it was just about making money - I'd go into property development.

Paul Gordon
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 02/20/07 05:24 PM

Paul,

Im talking about mainstream publishers, most of which answer to stock holders.

When these giant companies go electronic, the domino effect will eventually take everyone down whether they like it or not.

No doubt there will be boutique publishers still putting out real books, but their product will be astronomically priced.

I suspect that the relative economic status of magicians of this future will not improve over what it is today.

Hence, magic publishers of the future will be forced to go electronic due to simple economic forces.

Dustin
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Postby Guest » 02/20/07 10:57 PM

Hi Dustin...oh, I see! Yes...good point, too.

Another thing: I think it's sad that SO MANY young magicians ONLY learn magic via DVD and scorn books. The EXTRA sad thing in the UK is that education is getting so poor...they can't read anyway! So - DVD is their only choice...
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Postby Guest » 02/20/07 11:36 PM

Chris,

Apparently I wasn't clear enough for you to understand my post. I'll try again. The point of it was that there is a massive amount of social and cultural intertia to overcome - the "installed base" of ink and paper books - before e-books become mainstream.

That "installed base" is analgous to the installed base of millions of typewriters

Many websites that talk about converting from QWERTY to Dvorak indicate it takes about a month, so the amount of time involved is minimal. Jim's experience shows even faster adaptation....but in the mainstream, computers, after how many years of availablity, are still produced with QWERTY keyboards. Again, the inertia of the already installed base and the various businesses that service that installed base.

My position still stands - that for the time being, e-books are an excellent solution to niche publishing, the selling of information, and, eventually, college textbooks, if and when textbook publishers wise up.
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Postby Guest » 02/21/07 01:44 AM

David, your point is well taken.

The only thing I would add is that a month of relearning to type during which time typing is a real pain and slow, is for many not an option. At least for me it is not an option. And I wonder how much the average Joe really benefits in terms of faster typing. Does anybody know of data measured on average computer users, not secretaries or other need-to-write-alot folks.

Best,
Chris....
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 02/21/07 07:37 AM

David wrote:
Many websites that talk about converting from QWERTY to Dvorak indicate it takes about a month, so the amount of time involved is minimal. Jim's experience shows even faster adaptation....
I just wanted to note that, while I did find the transition fairly painless, I wouldn't hold myself up as a "typical" user. Remember that I was in college at the time, working towards a computer science degree. Most of my day was spent in front of a computer -- much more than an average user. The month of use that you indicated is likely to be a more accurate estimation.

What I really want to know is when someone will develop a keyboard that's been designed for efficiency when typing with only your thumbs.

-Jim
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Postby Guest » 02/21/07 01:08 PM

Chris wrote:
David, your point is well taken.

The only thing I would add is that a month of relearning to type during which time typing is a real pain and slow, is for many not an option. At least for me it is not an option. And I wonder how much the average Joe really benefits in terms of faster typing. Does anybody know of data measured on average computer users, not secretaries or other need-to-write-alot folks.
___________________________________________

Thank you. This was one of the points that I made to my historian-of-science friend, that regardless whatever efficiencies demonstrated by Dvorak, the vast majority of typists who use QWERTY never hit a high enough speed to push the limits of QWERTY requiring a change over to Dvorak. As a consequence, the retraining would have little payoff in real-world benefits in the long run. Few people can type at speed for hours on end, day after day.

I do, however, envision a day in the far future when the last bit of information on the planet is digitized. Of course, with mass digitization, the need for high level skills in search engine use (and newer, more efficient search engine protocols) will be nearly universal because without it, people would be awash in massive number of "hits" that do not provide answers to their questions.

Even today, Google seems good for three-word searches and after that one must further refine the search to eliminate the massive amounts of dross. (A Google search for "ebook" brings up over 76 million hits, followed by a search within results for magic whittles that down to almost 1.5 million hits.)

Computer indexing will also have to improve dramatically else we will drown in a sea of non-specific information. Without huge leaps in search engine protocols, finding answers and doing research will become more cumbersome than efficient. And, of course, this does not factor in the level of error that a lot of digitizing creates as I've learned with a search through a number of newspaper databases.

Probably, the best solution will be some sort of artificial intelligence that can do the primary searching/sifting first, but all that is probably decades in the future.
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Postby Guest » 02/21/07 04:51 PM

Dustin:

There is still a huge percentage of people who do not have access to computers. There are people who never will have access to them. Do you honestly believe that publishers will ignore this part of their market? I don't think so.

What do you consider an "astronmical" price for a book?

Have you ever priced what it costs to publish a book?

Where do you think the real expense in publishing is?
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Postby Guest » 02/22/07 10:19 PM

David Alexander's scenario points up a few common misperceptions of how the ebook future will unfold.

I set the Gizmo reader down and walk to another room.
This is a bit off the track, but the whole point of the device is that you don't set it down -- you slip it in your pocket. Especially if there's an unsupervised child running about carrying a drink. I can understand that you would not want to tote Greater Magic about, but the Readius, sure.

While I'm out of the room a friend's child walks into the room and accidentally spills a drink on my Gismo reader. It shorts out and is ruined. I have access to my library as soon as I pull the memory chip and pony up another $500 for a new device, if the memory chip isn't ruined as well.
All of your ebooks will be stored on your computer and synched up to your Reader as desired/needed. If your reader is lost or stolen you will not lose any of your content. This is exactly how iPods work.

Apple, by the way, will be the leader seller of ebooks. The iTunes Music Store already leads the markets for songs, television, and movies. The Readius will only be a success until Apple introduces their iPod Reader using the same technology but with an iTunes-based front end.

This, of course, is the third time this year that the device has been damaged - once it fell out of my pocket and another time it just stopped working after the warrantee had expired - so I'm out over $1,000 for new devices.
This exact same argument can be made against the iPod. It is obviously not true.
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Postby Guest » 02/23/07 01:06 AM

Bill - same could have been said of radios and TVs at one point. I believe that (a) the reader cost will eventually tumble to the point where they become virtually disposable, and (b) the market for those without computers (dwindling all the time) will be catered for by publishers by offering content on memory cards (already dirt cheap), etc.

Bob
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Postby Guest » 02/23/07 11:58 AM

While some of what people want to happen possibly will happen, several factors have not been considered. Comparing the iPod and the ubiquity of radio at one time with the possibility of electronic readers being widespread fails to take into account that listening to music is a passive activity while reading is not. Listening to music on an iPod is not analogous to reading on a digital reader. As an example, nearly every car has a radio. It is not against the law to listen to music while driving while those who read and drive are usually selected out of the gene pool by Darwinian processes.

Secondly, at least one news outlet has reported that the rate of failure of the Apple IPod is 15%. I dont see that in traditional paper and ink books. Then there is the issue of power vs. longevity. I believe it was the Chicago Tribune that reported that iPods were good for about four years of use, and, of course, will work as long as they have a charged battery.

Contrast that with my first copy of Greater Magic, purchased from Joe Berg for $15 when I was a kid almost 50 years ago. It was printed in 1938. Now, almost 70 years later, all the power it needs to be functional is me turning its pages. At almost 70 years it still works just fine. The Kaufman edition, printed on superior paper, will last at least 200 years, the information still accessable since the "operating system" will remain the same for all that time.

I dont see this as an all or nothing scenario. I think electronic publishing will find a niche and be cost effective in certain areas that Ive mentioned previously, but the idea that electronics will eliminate the traditional book in the lifetimes of people reading this is highly unlikely.
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Postby Guest » 02/23/07 12:23 PM

Just to clarify, I agree with David Alexander that books will still be around through my life. My point was that people who make long-term pronouncements on the future of ebooks without taking into account the ongoing development of technology are bound to be mistaken.

I find it hard to believe that someone as smart as David Alexander gives any credence to the idea that the iPod "failure rate" is 15%. Apple was the subject of a class-action lawsuit over a scratch problem on the original iPod Nano which affected less than 1% of users. Do you really think 15% of iPods are failing and you're not hearing about it?

I know hundreds of people who own iPods (I teach middle school). I know of one that failed. I promise you, if 15% of them failed Microsoft would make sure you knew it.
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Postby Guest » 02/23/07 09:33 PM

Apparently a reporter at the Miami paper mis-heard the Apple spokesperson and reported "for years" as "four years." Corrections were printed for that, but not the failure rate.

The following may give some info on the rate of failure. From CNNMoney.com by the FORTUNE technology staff:

A story on iPod repairs that originally ran in the Miami Herald earlier this month and got picked up on the Chicago Tribune's Red Eye had a sensational quote from Apple spokesperson Natalie Kerris about the iPod's lifespan, reporting that she'd said iPods were meant to last "four years." The Tribune's Web story, published on Monday, prompted a number of reports across the blogosphere, including one right here in an earlier version of this post in the Browser. But on Friday, Kerris started telling bloggers that she'd been misquoted. Kerris claimed that she'd told the Herald that iPods are meant to last "for years," not "four years." That's one heck of a convenient homonym, but the Herald and Tribune ran corrections.

The report nonetheless raised the awkward topic of iPod failure rates, sparking conversation on numerous blogs. Kerris, for her part, claimed the iPod failure rate was a "normal" 5 percent, but the Tribune cited a Macintouch survey suggesting a higher number: "The survey reported a failure rate of 13.7 percent, roughly half of which were battery-related, while the other half were hard-drive-related." The newspaper then found another expert who claims 15 percent is the industry average for device failures. One out of six gadgets a dud? Is that really acceptable for any manufacturer?

The bottom line, writes Matthew Himmler at Bloggingstocks, is that Apple should worry more about the failure rate. Himmler, a self-described iPod junkie, points out that should the problems persist, the chances for Microsoft's Zune look that much better.
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