Readersforum's Blog

May 2, 2013

Do e-readers inhibit reading comprehension?

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 9:28 am

kindle_amazons_e_book_reader_is_hereResearch suggests that the devices can prevent readers from wholly absorbing longer texts

By Ferris Jabr

In a viral YouTube video from October 2011 a 1-year-old girl sweeps her fingers across an iPad’s touchscreen, shuffling groups of icons. In the following scenes she appears to pinch, swipe and prod the pages of paper magazines as though they too were screens. When nothing happens, she pushes against her leg, confirming that her finger works just fine — or so a title card would have us believe.

The girl’s father, Jean-Louis Constanza, presents “A Magazine Is an iPad That Does Not Work” as naturalistic observation — a Jane Goodall among the chimps moment — that reveals a generational transition. “Technology codes our minds,” he writes in the video’s description. “Magazines are now useless and impossible to understand, for digital natives” — that is, for people who have been interacting with digital technologies from a very early age.

Perhaps his daughter really did expect the paper magazines to respond the same way an iPad would. Or maybe she had no expectations at all — maybe she just wanted to touch the magazines. Babies touch everything. Young children who have never seen a tablet like the iPad or an e-reader like the Kindle will still reach out and run their fingers across the pages of a paper book; they will jab at an illustration they like; heck, they will even taste the corner of a book. Today’s so-called digital natives still interact with a mix of paper magazines and books, as well as tablets, smartphones and e-readers; using one kind of technology does not preclude them from understanding another.

Nevertheless, the video brings into focus an important question: How exactly does the technology we use to read change the way we read?

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December 11, 2012

E-readers reading your reading: A serious invasion of privacy?

The end of private browsing ...

The end of private browsing …

A new report shows that almost all such devices monitor users’ activity. This doesn’t really bother me, but should I be more worried?

By Alison Flood

In the light of a feature I wrote this summer, about how our e-readers can track our reading habits – complete, I’m ashamed to say, with the obligatory Orwell references – I thought I’d point anyone who’s interested in the direction of this new report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

It’s the organisation’s latest guide to e-reader privacy policies, including Amazon’s Kindle, Kobo and Sony, and it finds that “in nearly all cases, reading ebooks means giving up more privacy than browsing through a physical bookstore or library, or reading a paper book in your own home”.

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October 24, 2012

Amazon wipes customer’s Kindle and deletes account with no explanation

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 5:50 am

Unlike paper copies of books, Kindle users don’t own their content they rent it.

A Kindle user had her account deleted because it had ties to ‘previous abuses of company policy’, but the online retailer blanked all follow-up enquiries.

By Mark King

An Amazon Kindle user has had her account wiped and all her paid-for books deleted by Amazon without warning or explanation.

The Norwegian woman, identified only as Linn on media commentator Martin Bekkelund’s blog, approached Amazon when she realised her Kindle had been wiped.

She was informed by a customer relations executive that her account had been closed, all open orders had been cancelled and all her content had been removed, but has been unable to find out why.

The move, which will shock ebook fans, highlights the power digital rights management(DRM) offers blue-chip companies. DRM is used by hardware manufacturers and publishers to limit the use of digital content once it has been purchased by consumers; in Amazon’s case, it means the company can prevent you from reading content you have bought at the Kindle store on a rival device.

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September 11, 2012

Choosing your first ereader

  By Arthur Attwell

So you’ve decided that that many people can’t be wrong: it’s time to get an ereader. But which one? The industry of ereaders and other mobile devices is filled with big and small companies promising you the world, and you don’t trust half of it. The cruel truth is that no one can tell you exactly what’s best for you. Everyone’s preferences are different. You simply have to figure it out for yourself, and this might be an expensive journey. That said, if you’re going to take the plunge, here’s my two cents’ worth. It might help you dodge a few bullets along the way.

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January 22, 2012

Apple launches self-publishing app, partners with textbook publishers

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 8:11 am

By Lisa Campbell

Apple has announced a new multimedia app called iBooks Author, allowing writers to create their own e-books, in a move to rival Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.

At an event taking place in New York’s Guggenheim Museum today (19th January), Apple’s Phil Schiller said the free app was “the most advanced, most powerful, yet most fun e-book authoring tool ever created” designed to simplify the process of designing and selling digital textbooks through the iBookstore.

Authors can simply drag a Word file into a book creation space and the app will automatically design the book, creating appropriate sections and headers. Users can then drag and resize images within the text and add terms and definitions – and film can even be added to the ibook.

The app was announced at the same time as a new textbook experience for iPad, iBooks 2, a free app which includes a new ‘textbook’ category.

So far publishers Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have partnered with Apple to supply content for the textbook category, which the company said will eventually include “every subject, every grade level, for every student”.

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December 22, 2011

A Tumultuous Year in Books

Filed under: Publishers — Tags: , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 5:23 am

By Peter Osnos

 Borders fell and Kindle soared as more and more people adopted e-readers

This has been a tumultuous year for the book business, a time of profound change in the way books are distributed and read. It is no exaggeration to say that the widespread acceptance of digital devices and a simultaneous contraction of shelf-space in stores qualify as a historic shift. The demise of Borders, the country’s second-largest book chain as recently as a year ago, was largely offset by the sale of millions of e-readers and electronic books on a vast scale in a market now dominated by Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Google. In May, Amazon announced that it was selling more e-books than print books. On “Black Friday,” November 25, Amazon said it had sold four times as many Kindles in a single day as it did in 2010. At this rate, it seems increasingly likely that e-books will match printed books in the next few years, and eventually overtake them.

The popularity of multi-use tablets–Apple’s iPads, the Kindle Fire (which has drawn criticism for a variety of technical glitches), B&N’s Nook, and several others–has been another dominant feature of the year, serving up thousands of apps for games, music, magazines, and news sites, depending on your choice of device and price. As measured by IHS iSuppli research, and reported in the New York Times, Apple will ship about 18.6 million iPads in this quarter; the Kindle Fire, which went on sale in November, will sell about four million devices; and the Nook tablet will ship 1.3 million. While tablets have scores of uses, e-books have so far held their own as defining attractions in the digital era. Their role is reminiscent of the way DVDs transformed the movie business in the 1990s, posing a major challenge for theaters while expanding the market for players to be used at home.

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December 19, 2011

Apple’s struggle to defeat Amazon set to be exposed by European ebook inquiry

Filed under: Publishers — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 6:06 pm

Britons bought 12.7m ebooks in the first half of 2011, according to the Publishers Association. Photograph: Tooga/Getty Images

The deal that the iPad maker struck with publishers could be threatened by an inquiry into the prices people in the EU pay for their digital reading.

By Juliette Garside

For book publishers, Christmas will come twice this year. After the festive trade in hardback tomes, the celebrations will begin again on Boxing Day, as the millions who got Kindles from Santa go online to stock them with reading material.

Amazon already sells more ebooks than paperbacks. It claims sales of Kindle devices have reached 1m a week, while 13m iPads will find a home this quarter. Juniper Research forecasts 25m e-readers sales globally this year, and 55.2m tablet sales.

The British bought 12.7m ebooks in the first half of 2011, double the amount for the same period last year, according to the Publishers Association. By common consent, January will be a record month for digital books.

But regulators, both in Europe and the United States, are worried that shoppers may be overpaying. This month, both the European commission and the US department of justice have announced investigations into ebook sales. They are to lift the lid on a power struggle between the publishing industry and Amazon that could determine the shape of the book trade for years to come.

The European commission will probe the “agency” deals signed between Apple and five of the biggest publishers: Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Macmillan.

The trouble began in early 2010. Worried about declining physical book sales, publishers feared Amazon’s eye-catching discounts would devalue their electronic product. So they agreed to a business model proposed by Apple just before the release of the first iPad. It was a move intended to force the world’s largest bookseller to relinquish control over pricing.

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November 15, 2011

US Authors Guild attacks Amazon over Kindle Lending

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 1:13 pm

   15.11.11 | Graeme Neill

The US Authors Guild has accused Amazon.com of “boldly breaching its contracts” with publishers by signing them up to its new Kindle Lending programme without permission.

It claimed it is doing this to drive sales of its Kindle Fire, which is up against the Apple iPad and Barnes & Noble Nook in the US’ increasingly fraught e-reader wars.

The lending service was launched in the United States earlier this month although none of the “big six” publishers – Random House, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan – have signed up to it. US Kindle owners with Prime membership can download one book per month for free, but only borrow one at a time.

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October 5, 2011

The future of reading: iPad, Kindle … and hardback

The hardback novel: surprisingly resilient. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

It’s not a surprise that ebooks are booming, nor that mass-market paperbacks are suffering. What’s fascinating is how well hardback books are still selling.

By Peter Preston

Can it be good news or bad news that the six Booker prize contenders have already sold a record 37,500 copies, some 127% more than 2010’s chosen sextet managed last year? Bad news, sniff some, because high-minded quality ought to come first. Good news, say bookstore owners, beaming all the way to the bank and getting ready for a Jamie Oliver Christmas bonanza. But maybe the crispest conclusion is simply that this is fascinating news. Because the last time I looked, traditional books, involving words printed on paper, were supposed to be dying as the tornado of digital destruction swept on.

Monstrous gloom is still easy to find, sure enough. Take the latest book sales revenue statistics – for June – from the Association of American Publishers. They show adult paperback cash sliding by an eye-watering 63.8% in 12 months, nearly $85m gone missing. And hardcover sales are down 25.4%, too, while ebooks, via Kindle, iPad and Nook, boom away, up 167% for the month, a $50m rise.

Yet even America, in the teeth of the economic storm, can find some comfort in the relative resilience of many hardback categories, as well as books for children. And while the tablet surge may not quite be covering the losses on printed pages yet, it’s still buoyant enough to allow cannier differential pricing. Factor in the happy thought that ebooks don’t sit around in warehouses waiting for pulping, that demand and supply are cost-effectively matched, and there are some new reasons for a cautious grin.

And Britain? Here, too, the Kindle is surging forward: sales up 20% last year, and this year Amazon.co.uk says it is selling 242 ebooks for every 100 hardcovers. Enter last week, on the US horizon, the new all-singing and dancing Kindle Fire plus two updated ebook versions, priced ever more competitively. The worldwide rate of change is fast, fast, fast.

Yet observe that, according to the Publishers Association, UK book sales were only 7.5% down for the first three months of 2011, and only 4.9% down in revenue terms. Moreover (a consistent, significant theme) hardbacks aren’t suffering nearly as much as paperbacks.

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September 7, 2011

Humans Pay Fearful Price for Cheap E-Books

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , , — Henry Greeff @ 5:28 am

By Richard Curtis

A while back we wondered what was going to happen to your Kindle, Nook, or iPad when the next generation of e-readers replaced them. “If what’s happening in Europe is any guideline,” we wrote “it will end up in a toxic e-waste landfill in Asia and Africa where the destitute, many of them children, will scavenge it for scrap. These scavengers incur horrifying and often fatal skin, lung, intestinal and reproductive organ ailments from the plastics, metals and gases that go into discarded cell phones, televisions, computers, keyboards, monitors, cables and similar e-scrap.”

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