The iPad of 1935


The book reader of the future (April, 1935 issue of Everyday Science and Mechanics)

There’s no denying that devices like the iPadKindle and Nook have dramatically changed the way that many people consume media. Last year, online retailer Amazon announced that electronic book sales had surpassed print book sales for the first time in history.

The future of the book has quite a few failed predictions in its wake. From Thomas Edison’s belief that books of the future would be printed on leaves of nickel, to a 1959 prediction that the text of a book would be projected on the ceiling of your home, no one knew for sure what was in store for the printed word.

The April, 1935 issue of Everyday Science and Mechanics included this nifty invention which was to be the next logical step in the world of publishing. Basically a microfilm reader mounted on a large pole, the media device was supposed to let you sit back in your favorite chair while reading your latest tome of choice.

It has proved possible to photograph books, and throw them on a screen for examination, as illustrated long ago in this magazine. At the left is a device for applying this for home use and instruction; it is practically automatic.

Additional text accompanying the illustration reads, “You can read a ‘book’ (which is a roll of miniature film), music, etc., at your ease.”

Though René Dagron was granted the first patent for microfilm in the year 1859, it was New York banker George Lewis McCarthy who developed the first practical use for microfilm in 1925, allowing him to make miniaturized copies of bank documents.

Eastman Kodak bought McCarthy’s invention in 1928 and the technology behind the miniaturization of text was adopted rapidly throughout the 1930s. In 1935 the New York Times began copying all of its editions onto microfilm.

Microfilm was a practical instrument for archiving printed material for a number of institutions in the 1930s, including Oglethorpe University, which was preparing the Crypt of Civilization. The Crypt was sealed in 1938 and is intended to be opened in the year 8113. The December, 1938 issue of Popular Science included an article on the preparations necessary for that enormous time capsule, including the use of miniaturized text not unlike the concept above.

Paperus: Ereader of the Future? [Video]

Dear reader,

Here is something very interesting to look at, if only as a novelty.

This is a very thought-provoking concept of the ereading device, designed by Paperus, Germany.

The idea restores the ancient way of navigating through the book, back to the times when papyrus was being used. The design is based on rolling (or scrolling) instead of page-turning.

Does it have chances? Would you be willing to try it and use it? Or is it just one step too far?

Via Paperus on YouTube.

Video-comparison of 3 e-readers

Dear reader,

I admit, this video is somewhat dated. It is from October 2011, which in current times is not exactly stone-aged yet, but close to medieval times. Still, the information presented is good, even when Amazon.com has released their Kindle Fire by now. The Fire inherited the closed format of the original Kindle, so that is still valid.

Buying a Kindle Fire for Europeans. Worth the trouble?

Dear reader,

This might be an interesting article for European e-reader friends. I found it and thought it good to share:

“Recently, a friendly colleague brought a Kindle Fire back to the Netherlands after his US trip. I had bugged him for weeks to buy this tablet for me because I really think the Fire matches my needs: “reading books and blog articles on a back lit tablet that is small enough to hold in one hand for one to several hours”. Also, I am Dutch, so yeah, low prices will score bonus points with me ($200) 😉 As an avid tablet user I also own a Ipad 2 and, although a fantastic machine, it is not ideal for e-book reading. Too bulky. Still. So I decided purchase the tablet with the second largest market share ( http://goo.gl/mJJWJ ) in the world.

Frankly, I am also quite the Amazon fan. I already own a Kindle Keyboard (based on e-ink, a bliss to read in well lit environments) and purchased several books on the Amazon store that are smoothly synced with my Kindle apps and tablets. Through whyspersync, I can always continue reading where I left of on any Kindle app or Kindle tablet. Its ecosystem truly works like a charm.

Unpacking the fire, I noticed how thick it is. Although much smaller than the Ipad, it feels solid even borderline clunky. Not too heavy to hold in one hand for several hours though, so that’s good.
Its screen is great and crystal clear. I was surprised that watching high quality movies/series is actually above all expected standards.

The Amazon UX layer for Android is fully content driven. On iOS or Android you start by opening a program. The kindle expects you to start with content, e.g., a movie, mp3, magazine or book. It is geared that way. No suprise with the world’s biggest content merchant behind it.

Watching movies & reading books works great on the Fire. But if you are expecting a regular Android / iOS user experience you might get disappointed. Yes, you can “root” the Fire to get such an experience but you will lose your guarantees and some of the “Amazon experience” build in the Amazon UX.

A big, no huge, disadvantage is you need a US address/credit card and IP address to stream movies or series delivered by Amazon. This is the reason why the Fire isn’t sold outside the US yet: there are too many content rights issues for non US citizens. It is simply not sold beyond the US yet.

My conclusion/friendly advice to you, European or non US citizen, is that you should not get a Kindle Fire right now. The tablet works great, is relatively cheap but is not worth going through the troubles of importing UNLESS

  • You may use a valid US address;
  • You obtained a US credit card;
  • For movies/music consumption: you have access to DNS utilities that can change your ip address to a US ip address (and your ISP does not block this);
  • You are an Amazon fanboy/girl like me.

An Android tablet for Children

Oregon Scientific has announced the MEEP! Android tablet for Kids, dear reader.

Now this has not directly something to do with reading and writing, I do think it is significant, because this way children will be immersed into the world of words much easier. After all, tablets are not only about pictures, also about words.

The MEEP! will have a 7-inch touchscreen display, WiFi, an SD card slot, and a “G-sensor” for improving viewing angle. The Android version is  as yet unclear. The makers claim it’s suitable for ages six and up, and parents can monitor and limit web access via an online control panel.

I hope there will be an e-book reader installed on it as well, but otherwise it won’t be difficult to install a reading-application like that of Kobobooks, Amazon.com and/or Aldiko.

(Information found through Engadget.)

Kindle Devices: Availability and Prices for International Users

Kindle 4

KINDLE 4 | PHOTO: AMAZON.CO.UK

In this post I’ll track changes in prices and availability of Kindle devices for non-US customers.

I’ll update it every time a price will change or a new model will become available.

The chart below lists devices in Kindle Stores localized in six countries: US, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Kindle devices from US store are shipping to over 170 countries and destinations – here is the country list for Kindle 4.

However, the recently added Kindle Touch can’t be bought by users from 5 countries where there are local Kindle Stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. This fact leaves non-US users confused as to what is available, for which price, and in which store. This post gathers all info from different stores to show a clear picture.

Versions with special offers are excluded from a list, as they are offered only for US customers. Kindle Touch WiFi has replaced Kindle Keyboard WiFi in US store. In fact, the last model has disappeared from the offer at all. If you’re desperate to buy it, you can get it… from a German store.

At today’s currency rates (07.02.2012), the cost of Kindle 4 in localized stores converted to dollars is:
– $132 (€99) for Germany, France, Italy and Spain ( 1 EUR = 1.33 USD )
– $142 (£89) in United Kingdom ( 1 GBP = 1.59 USD )

I’ve checked if this is possible for users in one of the 5 countries to order the device in Kindle Store US, even when this particular model is available in their local store. To do that I’ve added a shipping address in France. First, I double-checked Kindle Touch and confirm – it’s not possible.

When it comes to Kindle 4 – you can order it from Kindle Store US. Shipping and handling from US to France is $20.98, plus import fees deposit $25.48. Total to pay is $155.46. It looks like for users in countries with their own Kindle Stores, it’s more cost-effective to buy in the local store.

(Post courtesy of Ebookfriendly.com, thank you Piotr Kowalczyk)

E-reader lookup

Dear reader,

Do you know how it feels when you have to crawl all over the internet to find information on one specific topic that can be presented in multiple ways? Well, this happened to the creator of ereaderlookup.com. This person became, as he put it, frustrated that there is no website that has all the ereaders in one place, to make comparing and selecting one easier.

The website is basically an ereader database and comparison engine. Its sole purpose is to allow people to quickly find and compare ereaders according to one’s needs. There is a fairly user friendly filter form on the home page that allows to play with various ereader parameters, and as you adjust it the list of ereaders that match is being updated below on-the-fly. You can then select the readers you like and compare them side-by-side.

The site is the result of countless hours researching various devices and collecting information. Currently there are 125 devices in the database, but that number continues to grow. So, if you are looking for a good collection of information on ereaders, do not hesitate, but go directly to ereaderlookup.com.

Improvement in tablets may ‘doom’ the e-reader

Is the e-reader doomed? According to Matt Alexander on The Loop, it might just be on its way out as tablets get better and better.

Alexander’s argument basically boils down to the fact that e-ink is an intermediate step, a necessary compromise between readability and display quality. E-ink is evolving toward being able to present color and full motion video, he suggests—and when you have an e-reader that can do that, it won’t be an e-reader anymore, but rather a tablet.

And really, the naming of these devices, the Kindle Fire and the Nook Tablet/Color, is resounding evidence of the looming death of dedicated readers. The Fire is sharing the Kindle name not only because it helps in marketing a new product, but because the concepts are on an inevitable path toward merging. The e-ink Kindle is limited, but with the converging technology in displays, its brand and legacy will live on in an entirely different form. The e-ink Kindle and Nook will fall into a niche category, while tablets (or similar) will continue to thrive.

The craze for the fire-sale TouchPads, Alexander suggests, shows that consumers are only putting up with e-readers but what they really want are tablets. (I know that my uncle, who prior to last Christmas was quite pleased with his 3G Kindle Keyboard, is now looking to sell it and buy a Kindle Fire like the one he got for his wife and then fell in love with himself.) E-readers are just a “stopgap” to tide people over until tablets get good enough, and it looks like they’ll be there before long.

This reminds me of what happened to PDAs. They used to be the mobile computing device. but they gradually vanished as smartphones took over everything they could do and added communication capability too. Now phoneless PDA devices like the iPod Touch and the Galaxy Player are very much the exception rather than the rule. Perhaps that future is coming for e-readers, too, if tablets can get good enough and inexpensive enough to take over the niche.

WeltBild Reports Record E-reader Sales in Germany

The German publisher and media retailer Weltbild reported earlier this week that their new ebook reader, the Trekstor eBook Reader 3.0, is positively flying off the shelves. In the few short months since it launched, it has sold, according to Weltbild Managing Director Klaus Driever, in the high six-digits.

Sales of this e-reader exceeded Weltbild’s projections by a factor of 3 or more. They also reported that this ebook reader has sparked an exponential growth in ebook sales, with 2011 expected to show a several hundred percent increase over that of 2010.

The e-reader was launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October of this year with a low retail of €60. It’s quite the basic e-reader, and it lacks Wifi, a touchscreen, or many of the features found on more expensive models. But its success shows that price often wins over features (it has few). Weltbild supports it with an ebookstore stocked with over 130 thousand titles, including new releases that are reportedly 15-10% cheaper than the paper editions.

I have reviewed a similar model, which was imported into the US by Southern Telecom. To be honest, I didn’t think much of the Slick ER-701, but I appear to be in the minority.  A number of owners have commented that they like the device and appreciate the value.

BTW, I was a little surprised to see this e-reader launch in the US. The big boys (Amazon and B&N) are fighting a price war, and they are dragging the market lower and lower. I’m not sure we’re going to see more budget models here in the US next year.

(via The Digital Reader, by Nate Hoffelder)