A new e-reader

Dear e-reader,

No, I don’t consider you a device but this is mainly directed to people who, like I do, like to read on an electronic device. An e-reader for electronic book-readers.

I have acquired a new one. It’s the Onyx Boox T68 Lynx. My old Sony PRS-350 is getting a bit dated, the screen’s getting a bit blotchy (travel abuse, sorry screen) and since Sony stopped making e-readers I was on the look-out for other options. They are plentiful. There ‘s the Kindle paperwhite and the Kobo Aura HD, for instance. In places I am sure I can still get a B&N Nook Glow which also is a nice device. Still I decided on the Onyx. My main reason for that is that it’s an Android device. This has the benefit that I can install my favourite reading app (Moon Reader+) on it. Moon Reader+ syncs where I left off reading via Dropbox so regardless of (Android) device I pick up, I can read on where I stopped the last time.

Onyx Boox T86 lynx

I chose an e-ink device because it’s the primary device for reading when I go on vacation, and reading outside is a must then (weather permitting).

Outside, E-ink beats any LED or OLED screen with ease as far as I know, although the new Samsung Nook seems to do a good job too. I have a regular Android tablet on which I read at home, but outside it’s hopeless. I’ve tried. The Onyx has a built-in light so reading inside is no problem either.

I’m impressed by the clarity of the screen and the time a charged battery lasts. After about a week it went from 100% to 80%.

A real book. Is it what you hold in your hands?

Dear reader,

Many a question’s being asked about what is a book. A real book. I think that’s a valid question, and also something that only can be answered from the right point of view. Books

A book always used to be something made of paper, with a cover around it, and words inside that smell of ink.

 

 

 

 

ebook

The digital revolution bestowed the e-book upon us, with a cover around it that looks like a little machine (e.g. e-reader, tablet or even a smartphone), and the smell of ink is absent for now (but wait for it, technology will catch up on that!).

So what is a book? Is it the medium that carries the story, the paper, the ink, the weight that comes with it? Or is it the story that’s conveyed, regardless of the medium it’s read from? Do you read a book or do you read a story? I think it’s fair to say that both options are true and real, and books are books, be they paper or e. As for the weight that comes with a book… e-readers have weight too and that can be a blessing for people who have problems holding up the big paper tomes.

There will always be paper books. There will always be e-books. And that’s the grand thing. Stories appear on both media, so you can take your pick. There is no absolute in what’s the best. The absolute could be your personal preference, and that’s not even a fixed point because there are people who appreciate a heavy, smelly book when they’re at home, but who take their e-reading device along when they travel (for instance when they don’t want to risk damaging the paper version).

The choice is yours.

Do E-Readers Really Present a Threat to Airplanes?

By Dan Eldridge from Teleread

The increasingly heated national debate surrounding the use of personal electronic devices on airplanes has been chugging along steadily for years now. And yet thanks to the laudable effortsof the New York Times‘ Nick Bilton, the conversation has once again become news.

As many of you are undoubtedly aware, a now-legendary Bilton piece appearing in the Times in late March—in which he criticized the F.A.A.’s  rules against using e-readers and tablets during taxi, takeoff or landing—actually resulted in a somewhat positive governmental response: The F.A.A. promised to take “a fresh look” at the issue.

Frequent fliers everywhere, of course, have long been equally befuddled and frustrated by the confusion surrounding the PEDs-on-planes regulation: Most of us, I’d like to believe, would be only too happy to stow our Kindles and iPads during the required periods … if only we knewwithout a doubt that such devices could indeed cause interference with an aircraft’s electronic transmissions. But we don’t know that.

In fact, in an Aero magazine article published in March 2000, Boeing admits that after undertaking several investigations, it “has not been able to find a definite correlation between  [personal electronic devices] and the associated reported airplane anomalies.”

* * *

Here’s another reason this issue is so endlessly frustrating: The vast majority of passengers who discuss it, or journalists who write about it, seem to approach the issue with their minds already made up. And yet because the F.A.A. itself doesn’t seem too terribly clear on the hows, whys and wherefores of its own regulations, it’s understandably difficult for those of us who are paying customers of the airlines to take the inconvenience laying down.

I found Kate Bevan’s recent piece in the Guardian to be especially even-measured. (My earlier reference to the Aero magazine article, by the way, came directly from her write-up.) Because she so smartly points out the logic behind both sides of the argument, I’d consider it a must-read for anyone who might be even slightly interested in the topic.

Meanwhile, Nick Bilton and scores of other journalists, bloggers and consumers are continuing to press the issue. I think it’s a fair guess to suspect that it was the ceaseless barrage of noise coming from both the media and the airlines’ consumers that eventually forced the F.A.A. into announcing its upcoming investigation.

Just five days ago, for those of you who may not be aware, the F.A.A. distributed a press release announcing plans for an “industry working group to study [the effects of] portable electronics usage” on aircraft. This almost certainly would not have happened if no one had discussed the current regulations–or debated them–in the first place.

And here’s where you come in. According to the aforementioned press release:

“As the first step in gathering information for the working group, the FAA is seeking public input on the agency’s current [personal electronic device] policies, guidance and procedures for operators. The Request for Comments, which will appear in the Federal Register on August 28th, is part of a data-driven agency initiative to review the methods and criteria operators use to permit PEDs during flights … Comments can be filed up to 60 days after the Federal Register publish date.”

To view or download the actual 14-page Request for Comments document, click here(PDF)

So if this is a situation you would personally like to see resolved at some point in your lifetime, please: Write about it, blog about it, mention it on your favorite social networking sites, discuss it in online forums, discuss it with fellow passengers and airline employees during your next flight–whatever it takes.

What is remarkable about this sentence?

I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly, perplexing, handwriting nevertheless, extraordinary pharmaceutical intelectuality counterbalancing indecipherability transcendentalizes intercommunication’s incomprehensibleness.”

What is it about this twenty-word sentence that marks it out from the ordinary?

No, there’s something other than the fact that it makes some sort of sense and the original writer had a remarkable vocabulary and a tendency to verbosity.

Continue Reading…

The Science of Storytelling

Dear reader,

Brain training

 

 

Via Lifehacker I found this very interesting bit of information:

 

The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains

A good story can make or break a presentation, article, or conversation. But why is that? When Buffer co-founder Leo Widrich started to market his product through stories instead of benefits and bullet points, sign-ups went through the roof. Here he shares the science of why storytelling is so uniquely powerful.

In 1748, the British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, spent a lot of his free time playing cards. He greatly enjoyed eating a snack while still keeping one hand free for the cards. So he came up with the idea to eat beef between slices of toast, which would allow him to finally eat and play cards at the same time. Eating his newly invented “sandwich,” the name for two slices of bread with meat in between, became one of the most popular meal inventions in the western world.

What’s interesting about this is that you are very likely to never forget the story of who invented the sandwich ever again. Or at least, much less likely to do so, if it would have been presented to us in bullet points or other purely information-based form.

For over 27,000 years, since the first cave paintings were discovered, telling stories has been one of our most fundamental communication methods. Recently agood friend of mine gave me an introduction to the power of storytelling, and I wanted to learn more.

Here is the science around storytelling and how we can use it to make better decisions every day:

Our brain on stories: How our brains become more active when we tell stories

We all enjoy a good story, whether it’s a novel, a movie, or simply something one of our friends is explaining to us. But why do we feel so much more engaged when we hear a narrative about events?

It’s in fact quite simple. If we listen to a powerpoint presentation with boring bullet points, a certain part in the brain gets activated. Scientists call this Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. Overall, it hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. And that’s it, nothing else happens.

When we are being told a story, things change dramatically. Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.

(There is more in the article, if you are interested in that, please follow this link to the original post.)

New Survey Reveals Library Borrowers Are Also Buyers

from The Digital Reader, by Nate Hoffelder

A number of the major publishers dislike library ebooks because they fear that each ebook checked out is a lost sale. While this new survey data suggests there is some substance to that fear, the survey also shows that library patrons who borrow ebooks also buy them.

Back in June and July of this year, OverDrive sponsored a survey which was  conducted by the ALA. Library patrons were polled via the virtual library branch website OD operates on behalf of partner libraries, and asked about their borrowing, buying, and reading habits. A total of 75,385 people responded to the survey and they came from a broad spectrum of education, age, and income.

But in spite of the broad spectrum, the majority of the respondents fell into certain categories. The respondents were overwhelmingly female (78%), earned more more than $50 thousand a year (75%), were in their 40s or older (72%), and were college educated (73%).

This concentration is particularly noteworthy because it is similar to the data presented by Bowker in their annual surveys.  Educated, well-paid women are the dominant book buyer in the US, though not quite to the same degree as shown in this survey.

The survey includes questions on a number of topics, including how, why, and how often patrons use the library, but I am mainly interested in the questions on buying ebooks.

The respondents reported buying an average of 3.2 books a month and reading them on an ereader (83%). The survey data also showed that for most patrons both borrowing and buying of ebooks had increased over the past 6 months (60%, 44%), or at the very least held steady (33%, 44%).

But it’s not all good news. It looks like there is some truth to the belief that library ebooks cut into retail sales. A solid majority of library patrons (64%) said that they had never bought a book after checking it out of the library.

Of course, that number does not mean much until and unless we get data on browsing in bookstores (both offline and online) which could tell us how many samples are read without leading to a sale and how many books are picked up and then returned to the shelf. Then we would have something to compare that 64% to.

The reason I want to compare browsing vs buying behavior is because I want to see how borrowers compare the the book buying population as a whole. Putting the 2 surveys together would tell us whether library patrons buy more or less books than the average consumer.

I suspect library patrons buy more the average consumer, but the survey data I would need to prove it is available in an $800 report from Bowker. Sorry, but that’s just not worth it for me.

Survey (PDF)

image by twechy

New Survey Reveals Library Borrowers Are Also Buyers is post from The Digital Reader

All Hallow’s Read

Dear reader,

With Halloween approaching it is time to focus on something to read for that time. Here is the advice of none other than Neil Gaiman:

So what is All Hallow’s Read?
All Hallow’s Read is a Hallowe’en tradition. It’s simply that in the week of Hallowe’en, or on the night itself, you give someone a scary book.

If you want to know more about All Hallow’s Read, please visit this website.

Nexus 7 32GB Model Coming Soon – Thank You, Amazon

Via The Digital Reader by Nate Hoffelder:

So you’ve probably heard the rumor that Google would be releasing a new model for the Nexus 7 Android tablet, one which finally has enough storage to match the Kindle Fire HD. If you have not read about the rumor then you have probably read about the product listings which have shown up on several websites.

I never reported on the rumor myself, but I never doubted that it was true. This was one of the side effects which I expected to see ever since Jeff Bezos first held up the Kindle Fire HD.

The thing is, when Jeff announced that the KFHD would ship with not 8GB of storage but 16GB,  he raised the minimum standards for competing tablets. It may have taken a couple weeks or more for this to percolate through the industry, but as you can see from the actions of Google and Kobo (they upgraded the not yet released Arc) it is having an effect.

While I suppose this is a good thing, I’d much rather have a card slot. Removable storage would allow for several useful tricks for sharing content across my several devices, including giving me the option fo taking high quality photos with a camera and then tweeting them from the tablet. (And that’s not as silly as it sounds.)

But I have come to accept that Apple, Amazon, Google, et al are going to release tablets and ereaders without card slots so there’s little point in complaining. (Thank you, B&N, for bucking the trend.)

On a related note, one thing that surprised me about the recent Nexus 7 news was the price. According to one screenshot the 32GB model will be priced at $259.  That’s $10 more than the comparable KFHD or Kobo Arc model, and while you do get more hardware for the price it is still surprising to not see Google match or beat the $249 price for the 32GB KFHD. You would think they would be more price conscious.

(Nexus 7 32GB Model Coming Soon – Thank You, Amazon is post from The Digital Reader)

E-reading devices compared

Dear reader,

More and more signals appear that the E-ink technology that is used in many popular e-reading devices is getting beating upon beating from the realm of the tablets. Not very surprising, as tablets become more and more affordable and offer more versatility compared to e-readers that you can ‘only’ use to read.

♦ So what is the difference of the reading experience between the two?
Here is some imagery from my own devices (forgive my lack of craftsmanship on these):

E-reader, large overview

Image from a piece of text on my e-reader. It almost looks like a book to me.

E-reader, detail

Up here you see a close-up of the text on the e-reader.

Tablet, black on white, overview

Here you see a snip of text on the tablet, with the device set to a white background and black text.

Tablet, black on white, detail

A close-up of the tablet’s display. Of course, you would never lie with your nose on a tablet this way, unless you fall asleep on it.

Tablet, white on black, overview

Here is the same text but then reversed in image. White text, black background.

Tablet, white on black, detail

And to be complete: here is a close-up of the text in white on black.

As you see, there is quite a difference when you look at the devices this way. The display on the e-reader seems a bit smoother. This of course has to do also with the way the tablet lights up its text: from behind, and the fact that this is an extreme close-up. When reading from it, the difference is hardly noticeable.

♦ And what is the similarity of the reading experience between the two?

Both devices do what I want from them when I read on them. The display is flicker-free, the response when paging is good (remember that you get what you pay for, do not expect snappy responses from a low-budget tablet). Both devices can hold a large number of books, font sizes can be adjusted and everything just works.

The tablet has an added benefit here: I can install free reading apps from anywhere (Aldiko, Kobo, Amazon, etc.) so I can purchase books from everywhere and read them immediately. This benefit also is a drawback. I want to read a book. Where did I buy it? Oh, yes, so I need that app to read it. That is something you don’t have to worry about on a dedicated e-reader, everything is on there. Which has in turn the drawback that when you want to buy something on Amazon and read it on for example a B&N Nook, you will need to do some trickery with conversion and DRM removal before you can load your purchase on your own device. Especially the latter part needs some attention as it is not legal to tinker with these things, even when you have bought the book.

For now there is one clear point where an E-ink device wins hands down over a tablet: reading outside. A tablet does not display anything clearly when you take it outside in bright light. And the brighter the light, the clearer E-ink is.

♦ The decline of E-ink.

I see why it happens. Tablets are more versatile. You can read on them, you can also browse the web, you can listen to music (which is possible on most e-readers as well), and you can run all kinds of programs and games on them. E-ink will have a hard time beating that – as well as getting a facelift to displaying colours.