Along with one or more new Kindle Fires, we’re expecting refreshed E Ink models in Amazon’s e-reader line at the company’s Los Angeles event next week as well. One of those appears to be a refreshed Kindle Touch — the button below the display is gone, and the bezel has changed from light to very dark gray. The overall shape of the product and the location of the USB port and power switch appear to be essentially unchanged.
When you read a book on your Kindle, Amazon knows how fast you’re reading, where you got bored, and what you underlined. And publishers are using that data to try to write snappier books.
We talked to WSJ reporter Alexandra Alter about how this works and whether it’s going to make every book more like the Da Vinci Code.
“The books had been left to the elements and as a result their appearance was decayed, fragile, almost romantically beautiful. These books had been part of an installation, a performance work and now are presented as sculpture. By removing the binding, and replacing it with wire, she was able to seal and bury the book and let natural corrosion take place.” (+)
I wonder if a mangled e-reader will be beautiful in a few decades.
Narratives in a Digital Age
Writers Caught in the E-Book War
Not all writers are thrilled by Amazon, and some are equally as skeptical of e-books and e-readers.
- Jonathan Franzen, National Book Award winner told the Telegraph that: “A screen always feels like we could delete that, change that, move it around. So for a literature-crazed person like me, it’s just not permanent enough.”
- Children books author Marice Sendak ranted on the Colbert Report: “F— them, is what I say. I hate those e-books. They cannot be the future. They may well be. I will be dead, I wont give a s—.”
- Ursula K. Le Guin worried about “the potential for piracy, an uncertain publishing model, and the control that companies such as Amazon and Apple have over content.”
- Sherman Alexie spoke on the Colbert Report worrying that the book industry would go the way of the music industry.
- Ray Bradbury told The New York Times: “Yahoo called me eight weeks ago. They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? ‘To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the Internet.’”
In another article, “Amazon’s Hit Man,” published in Businessweek, the librarian and author Nancy Pearl talked about announcing a book deal she had with Amazon and facing nasty criticism via social media:
“I suspected people would not be happy with this…But I didn’t expect the vitriol.”
And in the NYT piece this week, Ted McClelland, a writer in Chicago, talked about how Amazon dropped his two e-books after his publishing company didn’t settle for Amazon’s terms.
Half of his modest income on the book came from Kindle sales on Amazon.
“I don’t know whether Amazon is being greedy or IPG is being cheap, but I’m caught in the middle,” Mr. McClelland said. “What matters to me is getting my books back on Kindle.”
— LJ Digital
Narratives in a Digital Age
Reading List: ”Fatal Voyage”
For Wednesday, we will be reading journalist John Hooper’s Kindle Single, “Fatal Voyage: The Wrecking of the Costa Concordia.” Hooper is the Rome-based correspondent of The Economist and Guardian, who has been reporting from the Mediterranean for nearly 25 years.
Kindle Single description via Amazon:
“Fatal Voyage is the first comprehensive account of the wrecking of the Costa Concordia - an enthralling narrative of events before, during and after the 114,000-ton liner slammed into rocks off the Mediterranean island of Giglio.
Focusing on the experiences of a Californian family, Fatal Voyage brings to life the terrifying reality of being trapped aboard the listing, crippled Costa Concordia. And it shows that some of the issues raised by the Titanic disaster are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.”
— LJ Digital
Narratives in a Digital Age
“How I Read”
There are more ways to read now than ever. From cell phone, to book, to tablet, to laptop, reading has become a multi-platform experience. This week, LJ Digital features essays from writers and readers, discussing reading habits, and how they experience the written word today.
Why should I read on paper when I can read on backlit screens? They don’t kill trees, they don’t need to be composted, and anything can come up on then at my will. What’s the use of paper in this digital age?
I wake up at around six o’clock in the morning (regardless of what time I go to bed, I always get up at six). My hand will fall over the bed and begin to search for my iPad lying on the floor, after about five minutes of lazily fumbling around for it, I pick it up and I hit the button and the light blinds me for a few seconds before I start reading. I read online comics first: xkcd, Questionable Content, MegaCynics, ect. It’s nice to wake up to a good chuckle in the morning.
While still in bed I then catch up on gaming news. Specifically gaming news, I want to be able to write about an industry that I love (should being a lawyer ultimately fail). Many of the articles I read are from many of the smaller sites, sites that hold themselves to higher standards of journalism than many other blogs and sites. Giant Bomb’s Patrick Klepek has written brilliant articles about Kickstarter and reactions to the ending of a well-loved series.
The Penny Arcade Report’s sole senior editor and writer, Ben Kuchera has been someone I’ve been following since he started writing about gaming for Ars Technica. Recent articles about pinball enthusiastsand the recent Smithsonian exhibit looking at the Art of Video Games are particularly stand out articles that show the style and reporting that I hope to be able to bring to the table if I ever go into games journalism.
From Comics to Journalism
After an hour or so of reading comics and exposing myself to actual journalism in games, I finally get up from bed and stumble into the kitchen with my iPad. I stumble into the kitchen and put some bread into the toaster (apparently all I eat in the morning is toast; bread is an infinite resource in my apartment). As I wait for the toast to get ready I begin reading a few articles from various newspapers online. Just like the gaming articles, I scroll through the New York Times, LA Times, NPR, and the BBC to find anything of interest in the world or the US. To be perfectly honest I skim through the headlines until something peaks my interest, recently it has been the Republican primaries in the US (although hopefully that’s coming to an end) while I read up on the current Syria situation. Most of the time as I read the article I’ll activate the link that allows me to view video of the events, especially on the BBC’s website. It’s rather nice to listen to a quick clip after reading through the article. Then I smell burning toast, quickly rush over to the toaster and lament that I have to throw two black pieces of bread just because I forgot to set the dial to 3.
E-Ink vs. Dead Trees
Skip forward to the afternoon, in-between classes I’m inside of the Student Center getting over some Panda Express I ordered. This time I take out my Kindle to read a chapter or two from whatever book I’m reading. This time it’s my yearly reading of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and it’s not just the first book but the whole “trilogy in five parts.” The e-ink display is a bit easier on the eyes and feels like real paper, without the entire dead tree.
Yet I can’t help but think how close Adams got to describing electronic books, a screen with a few keys and a big red button that would read the passage on the page. According to the novel, the Guide still had all the trappings of an actual book, it looked like a book it still had an index and had a cover. Yet you could search for anything in the universe and get an article about it. In the end, it’s still rather amazing how close Adams got to describing books of the future, technology that is still has all the trappings as a book. That’s why I have the cover of the Guide as my wallpaper on my iPad, because it’ll be the closest I’ll ever have to an actual Guide.
Overall I rarely ever touch paper; I’m dependent upon screens for my reading. All the way from my iPad to my Kindle, I look at screens. Because I honestly believe that the future of books and the written word will be the screen.
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