eBooks

Einstein’s Life Goes Digital!

I was fascinated by Albert Einstein as a kid. I didn’t really grasp the details of his work, and to this day my grasp of physics is a bit shaky, but I still thought he was awesome. Call it nerd hero-worship. Learning more about what made him so awesome involves learning more about the man behind the math, and that’s why I am excited that the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is digitizing his correspondence and creating a portal where you can read and browse their archives. It’s certainly cheaper to read it online than hop a flight to Israel to…


Does B&N Have an International Strategy?

B&N confuses me greatly. There are moments when it appears they have a master plan, with a clear strategy and vision, such as the release of the NOOK Simple Touch. Then they completely ignore the international markets, only to hold a “Hey, we’re…here…but not” meeting like they did this week in London. Techcrunch had some insight into B&N’s bizarre non-event: In packed room of app makers, Barnes & Noble’s director of developer relations, Claudia Romanini, took the audience through some of the basics of developing apps for the Nook tablet. In attendance, a lot of Android developers. We caught up…


Marvel Comics Bridges the Digital-Paper Divide

I admit I don’t follow comics terribly closely, but I do keep one eye on Marvel Comics. They have my favorite superheroes (Spiderman and the X-Men) and I’ve consistently enjoyed their comics when I’ve had the opportunity to read them. I’ve noticed they’ve tried to keep up with the changing eBook world, and they’ve offered e-Comics through apps and ebook programs for a while. But they’ve made a giant leap forward in their embracing of digital content this week, one that eBook fans have begged publishers to try forever! Yes, Marvel is trying to bridge the digital and paper gap…


Prepare for The Hunger Games With the Book Trailer for … The Hunger Pains!

If your family is like mine, everyone has read the Hunger Games trilogy and is anticipating the film release next week. Perhaps you have even re-read the first book more recently to refresh your memory (though you also likely skipped the last book to leave the memory of THAT rushed mess out of your mind), but were you aware that the Harvard Lampoon had just released a parody book? Released just a few weeks ago, my son got it for his birthday and both my boys have already torn through it and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you have checked out…


The End of a 244-Year Era As Encyclopedia Britannica Goes Out of Print!

For anyone under the age of 30, the concept of needing a set of encyclopedias in your home is at best archaic. I remember consulting the books as a regular part of doing homework in social studies and geography classes in particular, but also to feed curiosity for dinosaurs, biology, space, physics and more. Well, Britannica has just announced that they will not be producing a 2012 edition and that the 2010 version will be their last print volume. Britannica president Jorge Cauz said the move is a natural part of his company’s evolution. “Everyone will want to call this…


The Agency Model Is Under Fire, but the Author’s Guild Is Fiddling As It Burns

Last week, news broke that the Department of Justice is pursuing legal action against publishers and Apple for their “agency model” pricing structure. Under the Agency Model, books are not sold wholesale but at a fixed price with a set amount going to the retailer and the publisher. No retailer has pricing flexibility, and they are barred from offering coupons, discounts, and other ways to undercut the competition. This is, to put it bluntly, incredibly anti-consumer. Imagine shopping for eggs, and the grocery store has to offer eggs at the same price as Target, 7-11, and the gas station because…


Does the Concept of “Fat Books” Still Matter in an eBook World?

Photo courtesy of 3D Photoshop Actions  “I never read fiction online. I read for substance, and to me there’s no substance in a pixel. ” –Jonathan Franzen, BarnesandNobleReview.com (ironically), 2008 I’m basically as different from Franzen as it is possible to be–I pretty much only read fiction (and everything else, for that matter)–online.  And as I was reading yet another book review for some massive new book–I think it was the new translation of Haruki Murakami’s “1Q84”–it struck me how often in book reviews the reviewers mention the length of the book: “It’s a thick book”; “it’s a slim volume”; “Rowling’s…



Staples Asks, ‘How Fast Can You Read?’

It’s no secret that I love to read. Even as a kid I was an avid reader, and my parents had trouble finding books to keep me occupied for long periods of time. When I was in 5th grade my mom gave me “Gone With the Wind”, and I finished it in three days. Basically, I read a lot, and very quickly. Still, when Staples sent their “Speed Reading” test, I was surprised to see my results:


Game of Thrones on iTunes Introduces New Pricing Tiers for TV Shows?

Sean Bean of HBO’s hit “Game of Thrones”–today’s bone of contention! Last week, Carly put up a very interesting post that referred to a post by the folks at The AV Club.  The AV Club post talked a lot about piracy and concluded that “Be Patient” was the best solution for one’s desire to pirate content in the face of the current gallimaufry of release and pricing variations and unpredictability for electronic content, but the discussion it spawned between Carly and myself was on a more proactive, “What the heck can big media companies do while their normal channel market share…


B&N Is Hungry for the Hunger Games

Looking to buy a NOOK this spring? The odds are suddenly in your favor that you’ll get a good deal! If you want to read The Hunger Games on your new NOOK device that is! Buy a NOOK between March 10th and 20th and receive a free copy of the first Hunger Games book! Moreover, if you live in New York, LA, or a few other cities (check out the specific ones here) you can also see the movie for free at your local B&N! And there’s more! B&N will be hosting cast appearances and other assorted goodies are planned…


Penguin Books Rips the Carpet out from eBook Library Patrons

It’s no secret that publishers hate library ebooks. Essentially they are everything publishers hate about ebooks in one place; the cost is zero (once you have an ebook reader), and libraries don’t have to replace them due to wear and tear. According to The Verge, Penguin previously pulled all their support for Overdrive-powered library lending, and it looks like any books they are making available have an extra requirement-you must download them to a computer, then sideload them to a Kindle (or NOOK, or Kobo, etc.) It doesn’t sound too terrible until you read this email from a Gear Diary…



Should PayPal Be Allowed to Dictate eBookstore Content?

Now here’s a slightly unusual, and extra sticky, case of censorship. Smashwords sells all sorts of self-published works, from regular old fiction to instructional works, to erotica. It’s that last category that has Paypal’s metaphorical undies in a bunch, and in a really upsetting turn, they’re using their position as a payment processor to force Smashwords to pull titles. (Warning: Some of the links below are NSFW) According to The Digital Reader, Smashwords made this announcement over the weekend:


Amazon’s Ban Hammer Gets Itchy

Despite my spirited defense of Amazon a few days ago, I go back and forth about supporting them sometimes. It’s not that I feel guilty, it’s just that they tend to lean on the same tactics to get what they want, mainly their leverage based on market share. That’s what’s happened this week with Independent Publishers Group. Amazon and IPG had a contract dispute, and Amazon pulled their ebooks from the Kindle Store. There are two sides to every story, and Amazon is being typically tight-lipped, so all we have to go on is the IPG account (via Teleread and…


$199 NOOK Tablet Rumored

B&N has been selling the older NOOKcolor for $199 since the NOOKTablet burst onto the scene. Now it looks like B&N is aiming to retire the NOOKcolor and (hopefully) face off against the Kindle Fire with a NOOK Tablet for $199-the only catch is that it will only have 8GB of memory, and not 16GB like the original NT.


Is Amazon Evil, or Is It Just Business?

With all the upheaval in bookselling, there seems to be a growing distrust and backlash towards Amazon. Borders imploded, B&N is struggling with their physical stores, independent bookstores are disappearing, and Amazon is waiting with open arms for any lost consumers. The anti-Amazon discussions boil down to two main arguments; the idea that as convenient as Amazon is, buying “local” is worth the higher costs, and the idea that Amazon is just plain evil. I understand the “buy local” argument, but the “Amazon as an evil entity sent to suck the life from the competition” argument is, to put it…


Kno, Cengage, and Why Digital Textbooks Are Failing

Digital textbooks are a bit like alchemy. Everyone wants to find the magic formula, but the experiments just come out as useless lumps, rather than shiny bits of gold. Even iBooks 2 has many skeptics, despite Apple’s deep pockets and impressive publishing contacts. But the best illustration of how tangled and inefficient the eTextbook market is can be seen in the fight between Cengage (a publisher) and Kno (one of the 49,000 services trying to cash in on digital learning).


Farewell Mr Gutenberg and Thanks for All the Books

Patchen Barss’ book The Erotic Engine has the subtitle “How Pornography Has Powered Mass Communication from Gutenberg to Google”. An article on it highlights ten technologies that “secretly owe debts to the pornography business” Among them, E-commerce, Streaming video, Webcams and Bandwidth; you can read the fascinating post here. But if the Pornography industry drove forward electronic communication, it was an entirely different arena that drove the print world it is replacing. What was it? Religion.


Movie/Book Retrospective: The Accidental Tourist

I have said before that I have been reading much more since getting my Nook Touch last June, which has really been wonderful. The Nook Touch in my Oberon case is just a thing of beauty to hold and behold. It has allowed me to catch new books like Robopocalypse and recent releases like The Art of Racing in the Rain, re-read almost my entire Kurt Vonnegut collection, get ready for The Hunger Games, and grab books I always meant to read but had long forgotten – like The Accidental Tourist. Whenever a movie is made from a book, the…


Does Barnes & Noble WANT to Kill the Bookstore?

Barnes and Noble is taking an extremely strong anti-Amazon stance this week. Engadget is reporting that They’ve declared all books published through Amazon or in an exclusive deal with Amazon will not be carried in their brick and mortar stores, just online at BN.com.