“When you buy a book, you’re also buying the right to read it aloud, have it read to you by anyone, read it to your children on long car trips, record yourself reading it and send that to your girlfriend etc. This is the same kind of thing, only without the ability to do the voices properly, and no-one’s going to confuse it with an audiobook. And that any authors’ societies or publishers who are thinking of spending money on fighting a fundamentally pointless legal case would be much better off taking that money and advertising and promoting what audio books are and what’s good about them with it.”—Neil Gaiman’s Journal: Quick argument summary
Why would text-to-speech of a legal work that you have purchased be a problem as long as it’s for personal use? And, why isn’t the Authors Guild applauding a product and a technology that might actually get more Americans to read and thus sell more books overall? These guys make the RIAA look enlightened.
We’ve had a chance to spend some time with Amazon’s next-generation book reader, and nearly every aspect of the device is a big step up from the first version. There’s little that’s truly new about Kindle 2, but the result of the evolutionary changes is far more than the sum of its parts: Amazon has made a good device, and in the process, shown that it has what it takes to make an even better one.
“Fun as it may be to watch someone’s kitten playing with a piece of string, last night’s episode of “The Office” makes for a more compelling experience. Turns out those old-media guys still know something about how to capture an audience—and make money from it.”—Dan Lyons commenting on YouTube versus Hulu. (via Newsweek.com)
The Tumblr staff has now gotten large enough than I’m creating a Group in my Address Book for all the staff email addresses. I’m doing this because I’m tired of typing the recipients’ names individually. I wonder if everyone who works at a startup has these little “wow, we’re getting bigger now” feelings as the company grows. It’s all good stuff, but it still amazes me that nine months ago I only had two co-workers.
The late mystery writer’s fans now can wander rooms of the house that may have been a setting for her many country-house murder mysteries. Her 18th-century vacation home near London is newly restored and open to the public. There’s no body in the library, just a body of work including first editions and manuscripts.
Amazon is learning from Apple. The Kindle 2 packaging is pretty cool. It uses letters in lots of different typefaces and languages as the first Kindle did. But, The packaging now says “Once Upon a Time…” on an outside edge. And, the external packaging is all black while the internal packaging is all white. It makes for an elegant contrast.
Text does look crisper in 16 shades of gray instead of four and pictures are much more detailed. Page refreshes do feel slightly faster.
The five-way controller is a big interface improvement over the earlier silver ribbon.
I was hoping the new “Whispersync” system would know what books and magazines I had stored on my original Kindle and offer to put them all on the Kindle 2. Instead, I am having to move magazine subscriptions and download books one by one. Not a huge deal, but not elegant either.
I got the case and I think it’s attractive and holds the Kindle securely. With the original Kindle, I would always read the device out of the case. I’ll be interested see if I still do that or if I leave the Kindle 2 in the case. My guess is I’ll still take it out most of the time.
Apparently you don’t turn the Kindle 2 off. You just put it to sleep or wake it up. Nice. Edit: Actually, you can turn it off by holding the slider down for four seconds. But, I will probably leave it in sleep most of the time.
Having a physical switch for wireless on the original Kindle made syncing fast and easy. I will have to see how doing it via a software switch often feels.
Want to get the nice new rendering speed and features of Safari 4 but not the new interface? Drop these three commands into Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.Safari DebugSafari4IncludeToolbarRedesign -bool NO defaults write com.apple.Safari DebugSafari4LoadProgressStyle -bool NO defaults write com.apple.Safari DebugSafari4TabBarIsOnTop -bool NO
This will give you the old Safari 3 interface (including tabs below and the old loading bar) as well as the older Safari 3 behaviors for the tab bar like double-clicking dead space to create a new tab.
Don’t forget to customize your toolbar and add the Stop/Reload button.
I’m trying hard to embrace change and live with the top tabs and without the old loading bar. Because, maybe once I get past my initial resistance, I would actually like the Safari 4 UI and be made more productive by it. But, right now it’s just annoying and even painful. I keep staring at the Terminal icon and then talking myself back down. We’ll see how long I last.
“The point everyone is missing is that in Technoland, nothing ever replaces anything. E-book readers won’t replace books. The iPhone won’t replace e-book readers. Everything just splinters. They will all thrive, serving their respective audiences.”—David Pogue in his Kindle 2 review (via marco)
American Express is offering some customers $300 — if they pay off their bill and cancel their credit card. Not everyone is eligible for the offer — only those the company no longer wants to do business with. American Express says it will notify those eligible for the offer by mail.
The current recession may be most serious since the 1930s, but these are boom times at Nespresso — the seemingly omnipresent brand of coffee and coffee makers owned by the Swiss food giant Nestlé.
Presenting its 2008 earnings Thursday, Nestlé said sales of Nespresso products grew 30 percent in 2008, taking annual revenue past its goal of 2 billion Swiss francs, or $1.7 billion, two years ahead of schedule.
My parents got me a Nespresso machine a few years ago for Christmas and I’ve been hooked ever since!
“The mobile phone industry promised Monday to standardize phone chargers by 2012 at a trade association meeting in Barcelona, Spain. Most major handset manufacturers agreed to this, except for Apple.”—Coming Soon: Universal Phone Chargers : NPR
“The middle of an article should reflect the solitariness of reading with a design that neither interrupts the text nor the reader.”—Mandy Brown writes in defense of readers for A List Apart, with great advice about minimising the interruptions that can divert our attention (sidebars, pullquotes) while reading long passages online. (via matthewb)
A good piece. Though, I remain skeptical that the iPhone (at least in its current form) will become a mainstream platform for long-form reading. A small, backlit screen and short battery life don’t lend themselves to reading at length.
A new book says snark is threatening to take over how Americans converse. Snark is a tone of teasing or snideness. David Denby is the author of Snark. He talks with Ari Shapiro about how clever put-downs and cheap shots are coarsening public debate.
My wife lauren is a voracious reader. She’ll read at least a book a week. Sometimes she’ll read a few books in parallel.
And even though she is having fun with her tweets and iphone, she isn’t an early adopter of new technology. Lauren watches me configure, play with, evaluate and maintain new technology at home and often wonders why I do it.
I didn’t even try to buy her the Kindle when it first came out. I’ve known her too long to try a 1st gen product out on her.
The other day I noticed the growing pile of books on the nightstand next to her side of the bed. I told her about the next kindle 2.
Her reaction? No interest whatsoever.
The feel for the pages is a big part of her experience. I get that even thought I don’t read as often. But that sentiment resonates with me as I’m loving my new trip down vinyl record lane. The feel of the record, the linear notes, the album cover. There is much to be said about analog.
But the other thing for her is that reading is about getting into a zone, into another world and simply enjoying. Its not about improved efficiency or anything like that. Why deal with a (real or perceived) hassle, ie keeping it charged, dealing with bugs or screen defects that one day might appear.
I don’t know if that view resonates with other bigtime readers. My oldest daughter is serious reader just like her mom.
I wonder what she will think of the Kindle.
(Disclaimer: pls excuse typos. Wrote this on my blackberry)
One of the things I wish Amazon would fix is that there is no way to test drive a Kindle unless you know someone who owns a Kindle. I think if people could hold one and read on it for ten minutes that most of their concerns would be allayed.
When it comes to getting into the reading zone, I think the Kindle is a better experience than a physical book. You don’t have to keep a Kindle propped open to read it, it is often lighter and thinner than a physical book, you can read text in six different sizes, you never lose your place, and the definition of any word is a few clicks away. Getting into the zone is not a problem at all. And, if you read multiple books at once, having them all in one Kindle is wonderful.
I’ve read dozens of books and magazines on the Kindle without ever experiencing a bug or a screen defect. I don’t even charge it once a week and charging typically takes less than an hour. When I look at the time it would take me to get books at a bookstore or the time delay involved in delivery of books to my house, getting books in under a minute on my Kindle is far from a hassle.
My wife had similar concerns to yours and ended up getting a Kindle after she had a chance to use mine. If your wife is a serious reader, chances are she’d come to love one.
Publishers looking for a way into the digital world are warily optimistic — they also don’t want Amazon calling the shots on prices, the way iTunes now does. And booksellers, already threatened by Amazon, are saying A.B.K. — anything but the Kindle.
Slim: Just over 1/3 of an inch, as thin as most magazines (Very nice.)
Lightweight: At 10.2 ounces, lighter than a typical paperback (Very nice.)
Wireless: 3G wireless lets you download books right from your Kindle, anytime, anywhere; no monthly fees, service plans, or hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots (Isn’t really news. 3G is faster, but the v1 wireless was plenty fast for downloading ebooks.)
Books in Under 60 Seconds: Get books delivered in less than 60 seconds; no PC required (Isn’t really news.)
Improved Display: Reads like real paper; now boasts 16 shades of gray for clear text and even crisper images (Nice.)
Longer Battery Life: 25% longer battery life; read for days without recharging (Very nice.)
More Storage: Take your library with you; holds over 1,500 books (Meh. Storage was fine on v1.)
Faster Page Turns: 20% faster page turns (Woohoo! The best reason to buy or upgrade in my opinion.)
Read-to-Me: With the new Text-to-Speech feature, Kindle can read every book, blog, magazine, and newspaper out loud to you (Good idea. But, the voice hurts like nails on a chalkboard. That said, I will be interested to see how this improves over time.)
Large Selection: Over 230,000 books plus U.S. and international newspapers, magazines, and blogs available (Isn’t really news.)
Low Book Prices: New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases $9.99, unless marked otherwise (Isn’t really news.)
They left out one other new feature:
Integrated power and USB: You can now use a single cord to charge your Kindle from a power outlet or connect it to a USB port for charging and file transfer. (Nice.)
Overall, a solid evolutionary upgrade for the Kindle. But, I think price will still be the deciding factor for many people.
The Kindle is still $360, which is pricey. But, you now have to shell out another $30 for a case if you want one, where v1 came with a (crappy) case. (This is taking a page from Apple’s iPod playbook.) So, a Kindle with case is now $390. That’s steep and will hinder mass adoption. I think it will be v3 or v4 before the Kindle gets cheap enough to go truly mass.
At a time when most airlines are skimping on basics like food and pillows, one carrier is going in a different direction. Rather than just offer peanuts or movies for purchase, Virgin America is selling environmentally conscious passengers the chance to fly guilt free. Virgin has become the first domestic airline to offer carbon credits in-flight.
We were in Whole Foods this evening and I got a small cannoli that was just excellent. The entire dessert case looked amazing, so I pulled out my iPhone to capture the case’s beauty for posterity. But, I was then told in no uncertain terms from the woman behind the counter that all photography is banned in Whole Foods.
Apparently Whole Foods is worried that competitors will come in and photograph products. Even if there are no people or activities in your shot and you’re using a low-res phone camera with no flash, photos are verboten.
This policy seems completely asinine to me. I wonder what Whole Foods’ plan is if a competitor tries to buy a product rather than simply photograph it. And, can looking at a product for too long be considered an act of mental industrial espionage?
A stupid policy like this one shows that if you strip away the crunchiness, Whole Foods is a big corporation with bureaucratic rules like any big corporation. Sad.
The experiments showed that with the red background, people did as much as 31 percent better at tasks like proofreading or solving anagrams, which require attention to detail. But for creative tasks, like designing a child’s toy, a blue background improved performance.