Trying to consume an e-book can be an infuriating experience.
Consumers like me want to enjoy the digital version of a book when, where and how we want. We love to be able to read it from multiple screens, search it automatically, share annotations, even have the text read aloud as we drive or do dishes.
In theory that’s the promise of the new world of book publishing. But in practice, we’re blocked at many turns and end up looking for other solutions. For publishers and booksellers, that’s not a good thing, and can even be quite costly.
With less than two weeks to go before the new Kindle is in the hands of the masses, Amazon is aiming to stoke sales with more benefits. Wednesday night it announced a new program that loans eligible customers a free e-book every month.
The program, the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, is open to Kindle users who are also members of Amazon Prime, the $79-a-year fast shipping and video-streaming service. Customers can keep a selection for as long as they want but it will disappear if they choose another book the next month.
Amazon touts “over 100 current and former New York Times best-sellers,” but a quick check of the 20 top Times sellers listed in Amazon’s Kindle Store show none in the lending library. Traditional publishers are obviously leery of this program.
The full list of 5,156 available titles, sorted by their best-selling status, begins with Suzanne Collins’s popular “Hunger Games” and includes efforts by Anthony Bourdain and Michael Lewis, along with a host of volumes that may be familiar only to ardent Kindle readers: “Dixie Divas” by Virginia Brown, “101 Ways to Find a Ghost” by Melissa Martin Ellis, and “Already Gone” by John Rector.
I suspect the limited number of titles available right now won’t draw many people in, but this is Amazon, so it’ll have more appeal than if some other company were doing this and offering only ~5,000 titles. And considering you can only borrow a title a month, heavy readers will still be buying/using the public library even if they do opt to use this program.
Clearly, there is a disconnect between the phenomenon of rampant piracy and the scarcity of perpetrators, and the reason seems to be semantic. If we can develop better definitions we may be able to develop better solutions.
Towards that end we offer the following categories of pirate:
A team of computational linguists at Carnegie Mellon University… has used geocoded tweets to build maps of regional language use across the United States. …
From these mountains of data can be gleaned hidden patterns of informal English, like the profusion of hella as a form of emphasis in Northern California, as in, “It’s hella cold out there.” Slangy phonetic spellings also show distinct patterns of distribution, with New Yorkers preferring suttin to sumthin (for something) and Californians writing koo or coo for cool. Even emoticons differ from region to region
The researchers, Andrew G. West and Insup Lee, wondered what content on the enormously popular Web site could be so troubling that Wikipedia administrators would decide to remove it forever. “Wikipedia is at that paramount example of open-source transparency,” Mr. Lee said. “So when you see them behaving in a nontransparent manner, you want to see what motivates them to do this.”
Copyright infringement was the most common reason Wikipedia stated for deleting material, Mr. West and Mr. Lee found.
During the Tuesday afternoon rally, as about 500 people gathered outside the city’s main library at 14th and Madison streets, organizers announced that police “called the library in anticipation of our gathering and asked them to shut it down. They said, ‘No,’ because they know what side they are on.”
“we are a symbol of civil society for a lot of groups, including this one.”
- Oakland Public Library Director, Carmen Martinez
Librarians might frown on P.D.A. in the library — that is to say, Public Displays of Affection by canoodling college couples.
But another kind of P.D.A. might bring a different, more welcome sort of disruption to the library; a disruption that, once libraries pass the e-book tipping point, could save some universities thousands in annual purchasing costs.
That would be Patron-Driven Acquisition, a model of e-book licensing that aims to relieve library purchasing agents from spending thousands on books nobody will end up reading. A new report on the future of academic libraries identifies such demand-based services as an inevitable trend for libraries under pressure to prove that their expenditures are in line with their value. And one university says its own experimentation has produced damning data exposing the inefficiency of tradition collection-building compared to new methods that could prevail in the digital era.
“P.D.A. offers the opportunity to provide a much larger collection of books to patrons at a small fraction of what it would cost a library to put every item on its shelves,” says a report released this week by the Advisory Board Company, a D.C.-based consulting firm. “It also corrects the library’s fundamentally inefficient delivery model in which librarians guess at what patrons will need, rather than allowing the patron to guide the provision and acquisition process.”
Bloggers rejoice, eh! The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that online publications and websites cannot be charged for libel for linking to defamatory material.
The ruling found that the act of linking was distinct from publishing or repeating libel, provided the link itself was not libelous. The decision follows a case in which Wayne Crookes, a Vancouver businessman and campaign manager for B.C.’s Green Party, claimed a website defamed him by linking to a libelous article. The website’s link was titled “Free Speech in Canada,” reported the BBC.
The decision is a huge win for Internet freedom in Canada and the spread of information online, which, the judge explained, rested on the use of links:
“The internet cannot, in short, provide access to information without hyperlinks,” Justice Rosalie Abella wrote in the court’s decision. “Limiting their usefulness by subjecting them to the traditional publication rule would have the effect of seriously restricting the flow of information and, as a result, freedom of expression.”
“There’s nothing more valuable in the war against stupidity than the public library. These are hard times, but you are each guarding a beacon. The book is second only to the wheel as the best piece of technology human beings have ever invented. A book symbolises the whole intellectual history of mankind; it’s the greatest weapon ever devised in the war against stupidity. Beware of anyone who tries to make books harder to get at. And that is exactly what these closures are going to do – oh, not intentionally, except in a few cases; very few people are stupid intentionally; but that will be the effect. Books will be harder to get at. Stupidity will gain a little ground.”—Philip Pullman (via thelifeguardlibrarian)
QR codes for marketing are an interesting concept in search of a more efficient solution. They have been adopted by the advertising industry, but were not created for it. Developed by a division of Toyota, they were initially used to track parts in vehicle manufacturing. It is not the QR codes fault that the vast number of agencies are as creative as dryer lint; it is no wonder, in an advertising age of increasing focus on direct response metrics, that creativity has been sucked out of agencies.
Creative usage of a technical solution increases its viral potential and positive brand association. If you are going to use a QR code, then be creative with it. I get paid to come up with digitally strategic sound ideas for agencies and clients, so I am going to provide you with five ideas for better uses of QR codes. I believe that if you tell someone their ideas suck it really does not help them “unsuck,” and that is sadly too often the feedback many Creatives get. However, if you show them the types of ideas that are possible, then you can help catalyze their own ideation to be more successful. These are but a few.
Giving validation to Occupy Wall Street protests over the increasing burdens of student debt, a new report indicates that the total amount of outstanding student loans this year will exceed $1 trillion for the first time.
In addition, the amount of student loans taken out last year was greater than $100 billion, another new record, according to USA Today, citing the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
I’ve got roughly $40,000 in student loans from grad school (I paid off my undergrad loans with my grad loans -it was either that or deal with interest accruing while I was still in school). I am paying about $300 a month on them (and have been for 3 years now), and that’s pretty much just the interest. It sucks, but the degree is the reason I have my current job, so… *shrug* At least I’m employed.
“Few institutions have been more challenged by the rise of the internet and mobile connectivity than the local library,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet Project. “Many libraries have responded with innovations and sweeping overhauls in the way they deliver on their missions. With the Gates Foundation’s support, the Pew Internet Project will provide an in-depth, data-driven analysis of how libraries are responding to technology trends, and how communities’ expectations are changing at a time when library functions are in flux.”—We’re very happy to announce our new 3-year research initiative to study the changing role of public libraries and library users in the digital age, supported by a $1.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation! Learn more… (via pewinternet)
Every time we don’t say sorry first and end the stalemate, we are losing time. Every time we focus on our regrets, we lose time. Whenever you look in the mirror and judge yourself a failure, you are losing time. Strangely, this made me think of golf balls.
There is not one golf ball in the world that judges itself a failure. Sometimes they land in the hole. Other times, they get lost in the woods. But they are still primarily the same object. The same is true for you. Failure is something about a moment. Failure is a great thief of time. Learn. Embrace your learning. Move. Time only goes in one direction, and that’s away from you.
Amazon does not intercept encrypted traffic, so your communications over HTTPS would not be accelerated or tracked. According to Jon Jenkins, director of Silk development, “secure web page requests (SSL) are routed directly from the Kindle Fire to the origin server and do not pass through Amazon’s EC2 servers.” In other words, no HTTPS requests will ever use cloud acceleration mode. Given the prevalence of web pages served over HTTPS, this gives Amazon good incentive to make Silk fast and usable even when cloud acceleration is off. Turning it off completely should be a viable option for users.
We are generally satisfied with the privacy design of Silk, and happy that the end user has control over whether to use cloud acceleration. But this new technology highlights the need for better online privacy protections. As companies continue to innovate in ways that make novel uses of—and expose much more personal data to—the internet cloud, it’s critical that the legal protections for that data keep up with changes technology.[…]
This is fresh in my mind because I just attended an interesting day-long virtual conference on ebooks in libraries. In fact, I was a panelist for a session on marketing ebooks to students in academic libraries. Sadly, what I had to say probably wasn’t what the audience came for. Our students aren’t interested in ebooks, so we aren’t buying lots of them and thus have nothing to market. Frankly, I would much rather see libraries fund the production costs of open access monographs, the way the University of Michigan is doing with their Digital Culture imprint or what the National Academies Press has been doing for years, rather than become the open wallet used to fund another digital transition.
Huzzah! :) (It’ll be interesting to see how they do this…)
Proponents of pseudonymity scored a major victory today [10/19], when Google executive Vic Gundotra revealed at the Web 2.0 Summit that social networking service Google+ will begin supporting pseudonyms and other types of identity.
As we all use the internet to store more and more of our personal information, documents, music, etc., we need to be mindful of the risks involved and take measures to defend against hacking and other intrusions into our data.
… Her move to the cloud had coincided with the larger and irreversible shift of business, personal, governmental, and every other sort of activity to the cloud. The shift is irreversible because it brings so many advantages. Who would go back to searching for addresses on paper maps after using online mapping services? Needing to save and file canceled paper checks rather than inspecting them online, or doing a thousand other chores in pre-cloud form? In addition to these corporate and public services, whose users are increasingly conducting their business and storing their data in the cloud rather than on paper, our personal data has moved to the cloud as well, with the premise that we’ll be able to retrieve and work on our correspondence, our contacts, our photos and documents, from any computer connected to the Internet. But, of course, the more we rely on the cloud, the more we expose ourselves to its vulnerabilities. These include the breakdowns that affect any complex system. …
“The honest answer to this last question should disappoint everyone: Publishers can’t charge enough money for 60-page books to survive; thus, writers can’t make a living by writing them. But readers are beginning to feel that this shouldn’t be their problem. Worse, many readers believe that they can just jump on YouTube and watch the author speak at a conference, or skim his blog, and they will have absorbed most of what he has to say on a given subject. In some cases this is true and suggests an enduring problem for the business of publishing. In other cases it clearly isn’t true and suggests an enduring problem for our intellectual life.”—
If you have ever read or heard a statement from an executive at a record label, movie studio, or book publisher, you’re likely familiar with the set of assumptions:
Piracy is the biggest threat to sales
Deterring piracy will mean higher profits
DRM restrictions reduce piracy
Obviously, if you buy into these assumptions, the logical conclusion is that more DRM means less piracy and higher profits. As the Duke and Rice researchers show, none of these things should actually be assumed.
Truth, Lies and the Internet, a just-published report from the British think-tank Demos, shares that, despite their feelings of efficacy, young people are not careful, discerning users of the Internet.
The researchers note that young people who do not apply fact checks, and who are unable to recognize bias and propaganda, will not seek a variety of sources and are likely vulnerable to the pitfalls and rabbit holes of ignorance, falsehoods, cons and scams and that (chillingly) the potential danger of these deficiencies is that young people are more likely to be seduced by extremist and violent ideas.
I feel like I’ve heard this before… but I suppose having an official report saying it is useful in getting others to believe it if they don’t already.
“There was a conversation at my workplace the other day that I want to pose as a question to my readership: should a librarian ever use the phrase “I don’t know” when trying to help a library member?”—
Over the past several years we’ve seen an ever-increasing move towards digital media as the preferred way of distributing books, magazines and newspapers. Whether it’s eBooks, websites or some other form of digitized distribution mechanism, the writing is on the wall for the printed “dead tree” medium.
Within 20 years, perhaps even as few as 10, virtually almost all forms of popular consumable written media will be distributed exclusively in an electronic format. While there are clear advantages to digital media, such as the instantaneous purchase and delivery of that content, elimination of book shortages at bookstores as well as the obvious portability benefits, it has a sociological impact that many have not considered — which is that the “Have Nots” of society may find themselves denied access to an entire range of content they enjoyed previously with the printed book, newspaper or magazine.
The footnote jousting could soon be moot, as the e-book may inadvertently be driving footnotes to extinction. The e-book hasn’t killed the book; instead, it’s killing the “page.” Today’s e-readers scroll text continuously, eliminating the single preformed page, along with any text defined by being on its bottom. A spokesman for the Kindle assured me that it is at the discretion of the publisher how to treat footnotes. Most are demoted to hyperlinked endnotes or, worst of all, unlinked endnotes that require scrolling through the e-reader to access. Few of these will be read, to be sure.