New Year -- New Resources

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The best book news in Ages

In the NYT today a great story about how Google eBooks will help independent bookstores compete with the Chains:

Now one element of Google Editions is coming into sharper focus. Google is on the verge of completing a deal with the American Booksellers Association, the trade group for independent bookstores, to make Google Editions the primary source of e-books on the Web sites of hundreds of independent booksellers around the country, according to representatives of Google and the association.

The partnership could help beloved bookstores like Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore.; Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, Calif.; and St. Mark’s Bookshop in New York. To court the growing audience of people who prefer reading on screens rather than paper, these small stores have until now been forced to compete against the likes of Amazon, Apple and Sony.

Monday, June 28, 2010

iPad books I've bought

I thought I should make a list of the eBooks I’ve bought and read, excluding gratis classics, since I got my iPad at the beginning of April 2010. 

I think I am probably reading at twice my usual rate.   I also own more books now, since I don’t have to worry about investing in more bookshelves.  (I can’t yet download my public library eBooks onto the iPad; so I can’t test if I’d borrow rather than won a percentage of these books.)

Most eBooks are ones I would own.  I purchased several heavily illustrated books not available in eBooks during this time.  I downloaded Paul Harding’s novel, TINKER as soon as the eBook was released after it won the Pulitzer, and bought a paperback as a gift.

iPad Apps
Alpha Wolfram, App Developer and Thomas Gray, photographer, THE ELEMENTS -- The most innovative, authoritative and interactive iBook on the iPad. It makes me wish I'd been awake in Chemistry class!

Bill Clark, ACADIA: The Story Behind the Scenery (Just screen shots of pages with text and color, but good for planning a trip.)

Benjamin Vu, Michael Kingerly, Stephanie Olesh, TRUCKS! (If they add spelling the letters of the word on each page to the drawings of single trucks -- audio is really good for "Monster Truck" -- I'd pay for the upgrade for my great-nephew the kindergartner.)

I have, of course, also bought print editions during this time at my normal rate. 

Many of these eBooks are ones I probably would have postponed purchasing in print, since I do not have a bookstore within 15 miles of my house, and it is easy to browse through “sampling” on the bookstore Apps, easier than the Amazon online store.  I also find it easier to read books on related subjects simultaneously (such as Wood and Rakov, who each write about early American politics).

Kindle, B&N, iBookstore, and Kobo eBooks

Fyodor Dostoevsky, THE DOUBLE AND THE GAMBLER, Translated by Richard Pavear and Larissa Volkhonskey
Kathryn Schultz, BEING WRONG
Laura Skandera Twombley, MARK TWAIN’S OTHER WOMEN
Stefanie Pintoff, THE SHADOW OF GOTHAM
Virginia Woolf, MRS. DALLOWAY
Otto Penzler, Ed., THE LINEUP
Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, THE PHYSICS OF NASCAR
Stephen Prothero, GOD IS NOT ONE
Paul Harding, TINKERS
Connie Willis, FIRE WATCH


Friday, June 25, 2010

There's a book for that!

Quote of the day, from Nina Ayoub's article in the Chronicle of Higher Education

Authors should ask themselves: "What do you want to happen after the reader has finished your book?" Bill Germano, Dean and Professor of English, Cooper Union College.

Not the metrics, not the pixels, not the typeface only. It's the words that matter.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Who lives long enough to retire later?

Check this article out at, Web site of the Columbia Journalism Review:

Whose Longer Life? In a recent CNBC Squawk Box segment about Social Security and the possibility of raising the retirement age, Alice Rivlin tossed out the assertion that "people are living longer" so such a hike wouldn't hurt terribly. But who, exactly, is living longer? The wealthy, points out CJR's Trudy Lieberman, and the press should question the blithe assertion that everyone is.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The mobile office Redeux

This is a blog entry that began almost a week ago, when I was taking Amtrak’s Acela to DC from New Haven, Connecticut.

I boarded the train with a suitcase I knew I didn’t have to open, and my iPad carried lightly in my purse. I was equally pleased with my carbon footprint (despite the hour drive to the nearest station) and the efficiency with which I was prepared to read manuscripts, send email, and maybe even download a new book to read in the 4 hours it would take to arrive in Washington, where I was looking forward to a visit with my oldest friend and a conference which I always find invigorating.

For those of you outside the Northeast, Acela is the business-class train from Boston to our nation's capital. It is more expensive, depending on the time of day. All cars have free WiFi. That's why I was looking forward to being online even though my iPad has no 3G, and I don’t try to type on my Blackberry.

What Acela doesn’t have is any better track bed than the regular Amtrak trains, which is why it is not what any European or Japanese would call a “fast” train, and it only saves you time (30 minutes from New York to DC) because of fewer stops.

The first hour and a half of my trip I was a very happy camper.

I browsed the NY Times, efficiently read and sorted email, mostly newsletters that early in the morning, and enjoyed being in “The Quiet Car.” The Times had a great review of a new book that sounded very interesting, and I opened the iBookstore App, where, not surprisingly, the book wasn't on sale, since only about 20 percent of eBooks are so far. Barnes and Noble didn't have the eBook yet either, but the Kindle edition was already online. Seconds later the book was on my iPad and I was glad to find it as interesting as the review predicted.

Feeling happy as a Nerd in Bits, I proceeded to start writing a blog entry about my digital success. Not wanting to bother cutting and pasting, through my iPad Pages program, I went online opened my Google blog and began writing.

I was in the middle of waxing eloquent, when the Acela WiFi connection broke. And, of course, my draft disappeared, and I cursed my stupidity for not writing off line. My bad. We had just pulled into New York's Penn Station. I thought going underground might be the problem, and I bravely vowed to rewrite from scratch and post when we had passed through Newark.

Unfortunately, for the next three and a half my iPad network recognized and let me connect to the Acela WiFi -- only to drop me anytime I wanted to download or refresh an App. I was so preoccupied with trying again and again to get the WiFi working, I didn’t spend time recreating my enthusiastic endorsement of the new mobile office.
I didn't want to hassle the conductors for tech advice, because the car was crowded. I could read, and because of the iPad, I could choose from over 25 books I had downloaded since April, some of them well worth rereading already.

Of course, I had to reward my one success with WiFi by opening the new book. The best part of train travel for me is enough time to read (unlike planes) and no highway motion sickness. I was dozing comfortably in minutes. When I woke around Baltimore, I thought I would just plug in headphones and wait until later in the day to go back online.

Then I remembered that my host had said she only had email at work. Suddenly I knew my poet friend probably would not have WiFi. To add to my consternation, I had not done a new synch with my Blackberry with all the DC contact info I needed; I had not researched the DC WiFi hotspots or downloaded a Metro transit map or street guide. I have often been a tourist and business traveler in DC, but not often enough to avoid getting lost while I try to adjust to a city unlike the easy grid of Manhattan and. Subway system with variable fares and lines with no obvious way to tell “uptown” from “downtown.”

I had to resort tom calling home so my spouse could read me the right phone number off my left-behind-because-too-heavy laptop.

Who failed whom? Do I regret depending on the iPad? Not at all. Do I think I know how to use the electronics I have already bought? No way.

Do I wish that Amtrak trains got to DC faster than they did 40 years ago when I took the first “Metroliner” on a High School trip?

You betcha!

To be continued

Friday, June 11, 2010

Reading and writing on Train

First, I thought it would be really cool to blog about using the Acela amtrak (thank you VP BIden) wifi network to read the NY
Times online, see a book review, and download the ebook -- which I just 30 minutes ago.

But I forgot to hit "save" before there was a bug in the server as we entered Penn Station and so I have to start all over again. More after I save this.