New Year -- New Resources

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Still reading books

I was kind of relieved that I enjoyed reading a print book again so much last night. I had ordered Paul Harding’s TINKER, the Pulitzer Prize winning-novel, which is published by a small press. I wasn’t surprised that the ebook had not been released when the Pulitzer was announced a few weeks ago, but it has been now.

I guess I was afraid that the convenience and the “gadget” appeal of my iPad might have ruined books for me. Silly me; a printed page is a beautiful thing to touch and read, although I have to tell you a perfect bound, small format paperback like this, which is stiff and hard to hold open with one hand, has it’s limitations for reading in bed too. I saw a note in our local library newsletter and volunteered to show the librarian my iPad. I’ll be interested to hear what she thinks the client demand for ebooks will be in our bookstore-less town.

I still find few of the books which I look for in ebook format in the iBookstore, which surprises me only because I know a lot of ebook distributors who convert and transmit books for smaller publishers as a middleman are working out deals with Apple. So far only 5 large commercial houses (minus Random House) have direct deals with the iBookstore. Clearly the agency model* demand of Apple is slowing things down, but that isn’t really affecting consumers yet because Amazon or Kobo can pick up the slack. (When will B&N release their iPad App? The iPhone version is unreadable in the 2x format!)

Meanwhile, from non-fiction to novels, I am happy to have my current reading list instantly at my fingertips without having all my side-tables covered with stacked books. It hasn’t stopped me wanting to run my hands over my library shelves.

And I don’t want to mislead you that I only read books on the iPad. I read news (easier on the eyes than my lap top), manuscripts, but I also watch YouTube, Netflix, listen to new music, and test out a few games.

The instant Video is distracting but I have yet to see “enhanced” ebooks that are truly multi-media. Even the fabulous Elements App is so far above my science and math head that I can’t figure out how to do much more than watch the enhancements! A glossary (probably aimed at middle-schoolers) would save me going back and forth to Safari to find out what a quadratic equation is. I’m still working on that – and what relevance it has to a chemical compound.

*for more about the new business model, which is arcane, check out Publishers Weekly on line.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

iPad jokes and Web research tools

It is harder than I thought it would be to keep up with notes on the iPad and ebook readers, but meanwhile, here is a very funny piece from the New Yorker:

FYI, I do find the page turning more satisfactory in the iBook reader than the Kindle App, but I am still finding fewer books in the iBookstore.

If you find yourself overwhelmed when researching on Google or even within Google Books or Scholars, check out this new subscription service from Oxford University Press, as reviewed in Ars Technica:

The OBO tool is essentially a straightforward, hyperlinked collection of professionally-produced, peer-reviewed bibliographies in different subject areas—sort of a giant, interactive syllabus put together by OUP and teams of scholars in different disciplines. Users can drill down to a specific bibliographic entry, which contains some descriptive text and a list of references that link to either Google Books or to a subscribing library's own catalog entries, by either browsing or searching. Each entry is written by a scholar working in the relevant field and vetted by a peer review process. The idea is to alleviate the twin problems of Google-induced data overload, on the one hand, and Wikipedia-driven GIGO (garbage in, garbage out), on the other.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Nook wifi only versions to come

If you don't need the iPad video or color display, and you're intrigued ebook readers, keep an eye out for some "lite" versions of existing black-and-white ebook readers. This Wi Fi only Nook from Barnes and Noble may cost only $200. Keep watching for more such less expensive competition to be released by other vendors, including, we hope, Amazon Kindle.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ever wonder if anyone else is "out there" in the Universe?

I’m reading a wonderful new science book on my iPad (via the Kindle App), Paul Davies’ THE EERIE SILENCE. He’s a long-time SETI researcher (looking for signals of life on other planets), a Templeton prize-winner (an award for reconciling science and faith ecumenically).

The book explains the basic physics, biology, chemistry, and geology needed to even evaluate the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. The review I read mentioned that Davies is arguing for a much broader kind of search for radio transmissions than SETI has used so far, but the book is much less technical and policy oriented than it might seem from such a goal.

If you need to be reminded about why life needs water and why amino acids are not sufficient alone to create life, this book will help you ease yourself back into memoires of your younger self, when wondering about and testing hypotheses were equally fun.

A practical note: This ebook was not yet in the iBookstore, and even if it had been, there would have been little difference in the reading experience whether I had bought the Apple vs. the Amazon format. It is all text. Furthermore, the iBookstore has very little information about the books (although the sampling feature is helpful.) You can get a lot of detail from the Amazon pages for the printed book. Making a decision about a book you’ve only read one review of is much easier on Amazon.

It’s not likely that iTunes will start adding a lot of retail promotional copy to their offerings, but I do hope books get a little more attention as books, since they are bought and sold very differently, I think than music or TV shows. Being able to zero in on Pulitzer or Booker Prize winners, NY Times and USA Today bestsellers, for example, would be nice, but that will have to wait until more of them are released as ebooks. Of course by showing publishers that people are looking for books they can’t find in the iBookstore, Apple would have leverage to get more companies to want to stock their books everywhere.

Friday, April 9, 2010

New book review site on law and justice

Publishers Weekly makes note of a new site for book reviews, excerpts and author interviews about law and justice, from the NYT Law School’s Brennan Center. This is a welcome supplement to dwindling mass media book reviews:

On the site, *Just Books is described as “a new, first-of-its-kind book site about justice, books and ideas. The inaugural posts include contributions from David Remnick, Garry Wills, Eric Alterman, Gretchen Rubin, Dahlia Lithwick, Jeff Shesol, Hon. Mickey Edwards, Theodore Marmor, suggested reading from Michael Mukasey, Robert M. Morgenthau, Bill Clinton and more.”


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

iPad is great for books, dowloaded movies

I'm still getting a few kinks worked out in using my iPad (mostly involving problems with my Windows lap top and syncing through iTunes, which is probably my HP hardware problem.)

Nevertheless, the Amazon Kindle App is a great reader, and it was easy to bring my Kindle books over.

I haven't ordered new books through on Kindle yet, because of having to go through the bowser. The iBook store has the "one click" advantage here, but is not as good a shopping experience -- they really send you to the few, top books in every category, and as I said before, they don't have much metadata as a real bookstore does.

I will be glad to try the B&N reader too, since I've liked that very much on my PC. I'm finishing War and Peace on Kindle and started Moby Dick (free version) on iBook. You do really have to watch your budget when you don't even see your order total unless you look for it.

I wish I could search across my several different ebook reader libraries. I can go back, of course, to Google Books to build a single list, which gives me a reason to explore Google's Library feature.

The Netflix App is fantastic for watching videos on-line. The small screen is perfect for watching in bed (bluetooth headphones will make it even better). I'm not sure if I would ever use iTunes for videos, even "rent to own," and I don't know how my 16g memory will feel if I do. Flying or a long train trip, where I won't be in a WiFi spot, is the only reason I would need to keep the video I think.

Did you see that game?

I'm a person who only watches a few sports games on TV, usually championships, more often a sport I grew up playing (tennis, baseball), but I don't think I've ever seen a more exciting basketball game than last nights Duke Butler contest.

It's more fun than watching NBA players (almost all of whom seem 7 feet these days) dunk and hang on the basket.

Although Butler lost, the game was awesome, and I love reading how likely another great 2011 season will be. It may change March Madness forever for me.

Monday, April 5, 2010


I have had my iPad for two days now. As an ebook reader it's
Wonderful. The iBook store is simple is simple to use, but very short on meta data about the books. Sampling is much more limited than Amazon print info which is so easily accessible from The Kindle store. You need to know the book you want.

But reading is wonderful in iBook formats. More to come soon on Kobo, Kindle, and barnes and Noble apps.

As you can see, still getting used to keypad.