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Posts Tagged ‘eBooks’

I came across this cartoon the other day:

personal library

The message evokes a sad smile and a nod of the head as the realization that yes, this does look like the future, dawns on us.

Having dinner with some ‘bookish’ friends the other day, I listened to their lament of how libraries are being closed and those that do stay open often sell off ‘old’ fiction books for paltry sums.   And what, they queried, defined ‘old’.  Sad.  Very sad they said.   They are in the publishing business and I guess feel the squeeze in a different way to those like me – the consumer.

An article in The Canberra Times last week: Library book dumping signals a new dark age  highlighted the demise of so many of our book depositories – libraries – most especially university libraries are being converted into alternate spaces devoid of books.   Shelves previously available for browsing have been replaced with computer monitors which allow you to browse in a different way.   The author of this article, Elizabeth Farrelly who has just published a book of her own, poses the inevitable question:

And what do we lose, if anything, in the physicality of the book, and of its trove, the library?

I admit to still not being a committed eBook reader.   And on the occasions that I have read a super book on my eReader, I’ve lamented not being able to loan the prized book to another.   Worst of all though, I cringe at the thought of our children’s children not being able to browse the bookshelves of homes they visit.
Will the book collections many of us so value still today, really disappear, or is this a ‘phase’ we are moving through in our collective march through time?
Your thoughts?

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If, like many others around town, you received the latest IKEA catalogue in the mail last week, you’ll enjoy this parody about the bookbook    which was created by IKEA and narrated by IKEA’s chief designer Jörgen Eghammer.  Hefty and bulky, the catalogue, if paged through from start to finish, included an amazing array of goodies available for purchase.

This short parody will bring a smile to your face as it highlights everything there is to enjoy about a book!

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Launched in June 2011, BookLikes uses a highly sensitive algorithm which considers factors such as reading preferences and social behaviour to determine book suggestions tailored to an individual’s reading habits.   Incorporating a strong social media component, users can share their bookshelves with others via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as well as read, review, chat and share opinions and thoughts with other book aficionados. BookLikes’s free mobile app also allows users to get information about books by just scanning a book’s ISBN with either an iPhone or Android.

If you’re not sold by my description here, check out the video which appears on the BookLikes homepage!

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With the recent closure of the Borders and Angus & Robertsons book shop chains in Melbourne, it had been feared that the demise of all book shops was imminent.

Not so, says a recent Age newspaper article: Bookstores without Borders find life not so bad. While there are certainly the challenges of eBooks and online sales to contend with, several of the book shop owners mention in this article contend that book lovers seem to be rallying around their local book shops.

Commenting on sales, Chris Redfern, of the Avenue book shop in Albert Park, says that sales are up 5% since July – an encouraging sign.

Matt Boyle of Benn’s Books in Bentleigh similiarly commented:

”Since the collapse of those two chains, people have been coming in saying they are glad we are still here, so there is still a future for bricks-and-mortar bookselling,” he said.

Strategies, such as reduction or scrapping of GST on books or opportunities for medium sized book sellers to compete online with big overseas sites, just a couple of stretegies to boost the book industry included in a recent report to the Federal Government, may well be a boost to help our local book shops not only stay in business but to prosper.
Here’s hoping!

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There’s nothing like Government backing to get a job done!

That’s exactly what’s happened in South Korea.  At a cost of just $2.3 bilion, it was announced on Digital Trends last week that by the year 2015 all school textbooks will be eBooks.  Although an announcmenet is yet to be made about which make or model is to be used, it is understood that by 2015 students in all state run schools will be able to download digital textbooks on a variety of platforms – computers, smart phones and tablets.

And to set the ball rolling, it was announced by South Korea’s Ministry of Science and Technology that by 2014 the entire elementary-level educational textbooks and materials will be digitized.

Apart from re-writing the routine of school kids carrying those heavy school bags to and from school, there is bound to be a big impact on the lucrative educational publishing industry.   Anyone who has been involved with textbook selection in our high schools, will be aware that these kinds of issues have been looming on the Australian market for some years now.

Indeed ….. intereting times are ahead for us all.

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It was about three months ago that I first wrote about the advent of Flipback Books which was then just being released in the UK, France and Spain.  Back then I wrote:

This cute little innovation, small enough to fit into a shirt pocket, is a sideways-bound book.  With wafer thin pages, flipbacks with over 500 pages can still easily fit into a shirt pocket.   Just image ….. reading with one hand will allow you to ‘get on with life’ with your other hand!

Well ….  according to a brief article spotted in last weekend’s Sunday Age newspaper, this cute little product is, next week, to be released for sale in Australia!  Being published by Sceptre on July 12th, the recommended retail price will be just $19.99.  The initial release of 11 titles, including Stephen King’s Misery, John le Carre’s Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy and James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, with a further six copies to be released in October followed by another six during the lead up to Christmas.  Measuring just 12 by 8 centimetres and weighing less than 150 grams, the Age article recounts the history of these little books:

The format was invented in 2009, when Dutchman Hugo van Woerden, the CEO of Christian printing house Jongbloed, was looking for ways to use excess Bible paper. He put the lightweight, high-quality ”onion skin” into a series of miniature sideways books that can be read with one hand, perfect for crowded buses and trains.

The books were an instant success, prompting some to claim the paperback was fighting back against electronic readers.

It will be interesting to see if these little gems become a big seller in the very competitive book market.   Whether they tackle head on the popularity of eBooks will, I guess, remain to be seen.

Nevertheless, I really liked the hard copy headline for this article….  “Wee books vs eBooks”   It has a charm that packs a good punch!

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Radical to say the least!   But is this the future for all of us as we kiss our books and libraries goodbye?

As I look fondly at our school library shelves, laden with books, I wonder whether they – the books – are really on a path of no return.  Will they, like the books at Wellington College in Dukes Ride, UK, be replaced by eBooks and all manner of technology?

A recent news article in getworkingham about the intention by Wellington College Library to ditch it’s paper and hardbacks in favour of eBooks certainly makes confronting reading for those of us who relish the feel, smell and look of hard copy books.   Intending to distribute handheld devices to all students so they can download books from the Internet, this new school centre will be called  “The Centre for Innovation and Resources”

With work on the development due to commence in September and completed by January 2012, we will, no doubt, be hearing more about this school in coming months.

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Borders Bookshops the world over have been synonymous with great books on just about any topic imagineable.   But, recent reports suggest that this mega bookstore, which has steamrolled over so many small independent bookstores over the years, may be about to fold.

A report in today’s Wall Street Journal: Chapter 11 for Borders, New Chapter for Books suggests that by early next week, Borders may be filing for Chapter 11 Bancruptcy leading to the closure of as many of its stores across the US as well as the loss of thousands of jobs.   The Wall Street Journal cites Borders’ failure to stay up with the times by embracing the shift toward eBooks and new technology as one of the major reasons for its downfall.

This US Channel 7 News report makes a similar prediction.

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Experiment completed!  I read an eBook over my recent summer break!

At last I’ve joined ranks with the many others before me who have already adopted the new world of eBooks!  A few months ago, on my other blog – NovaNews – I wrote:

With the impending summer break I’m hoping to explore eBooks in a big way ….. well that’s the plan anyway!!  Will let you know how I get on!

Well ….. here I am on the other side of my summer break and I’m pleased to report back on my holiday learning experience.

  1. While the experience was novel and different – it was fun!
  2. The ability to enlarge print to absolutely any size is really fantastic!
  3. Books in suitcases can now to be consigned to history: the portability of reading provided by eBooks is second to none!
  4. The idea of purchasing a book anytime or anywhere was quite empowering.
  5. Instant gratification!  Purchasing, downloading and starting to read a new book within minutes is certainly satisfying!
  6. eBooks are easier on the pocket too – much cheaper than the printed copy.

But …… I don’t think I’ll ever be a complete convert to eBooks …..

  1. I love the look, feel and smell of a good book in my hands.
  2. I can’t cope with the idea of having my bookshelves naked of books!
  3. Climbing into bed with my old friends is so warm and comforting.
  4. Reading and sharing books with youngsters just isn’t the same with an eBook.
  5. I want to continue being able to ‘lend’ a good read to friends.
  6. Working in a libraries as I do, I honestly feel that the books on the shelves are ‘my friends’ – an intimacy develops between the books and its readers that just can’t be duplicated with an eBook.

So ….. even though the experiece was fun …..  I think for sometime yet, I will be flicking between eBooks and Real Books!!

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Inspiring kids to read is one of the joys of working in a School Library.   Convincing them to take a book in hand that will hook them into hours of joy and discovery is so inspiring, so invigorating.

‘Read a book …..  learn about the world!’

This has to be one of my all time favourite signs to pin up in my Library displays.   Chatting with kids, getting them on board with the joy of discovery …..   Wow ….. it’s so inspiring, so fulfilling.  Having one of those bubbly

‘Have you read this?’   ‘What do you think of that?’   kinds of bookish conversations with kids is so much fun.

Reading, the joy of reading, sharing the passion I have for reading …. this has always been the icing on the cake for my work with kids in schools.

Discoveries of recent months though, in which my life has become so overwhelmed with all things web based has made me wonder ….. just for a fleeting second ….. whether all this ‘new stuff’: social networking, social media, Web 2.0 tools, embedding technology into the curriculum ….. whether all this ‘new stuff’ will challenge the previous status held by books in our schools.  That heaven forbid, kids today will have no time to read books or explore the wonders they hold.

Just a few days ago, I was asked how I’d feel if all the books we currently have in our Library were removed.

A second of panic hit me ….. a gasp ….. the thought: ‘no ….. it’s just not possible’ reverberated through my head.  Before I knew it, I blurted out my reply: No, it won’t happen, it couldn’t happen!  I love to curl up with a book in my hand.

Then someone sent me this clip of Phillip Roth talking about the future of the novel:

Roth’s forlorn tone when he states that the book

can’t compete with the movie screen
can’t compete with the television screen and
can’t compete with the computer screen

nearly had me believing him.   Throw into the mix, articles reporting the negative stats on book sales vs eBook sales and wow…. the traditional novel, the one you relax with on the couch, curl up with in bed, crave to read in between the daily routines, certainly does seem like it’s under a death sentence.

Take a look at our children though ….. the ones that sit wide eyed on our laps or in clusters at our feet in our classrooms or Libraries listening intently as we share the joy of a story.   Are they not being inculcated from an early age into the joy of reading, the wonders of books?

Is the book about to disappear?  Is it to become a relic of past life?  Have a listen to this podcast Is the book Dead? a recorded discussion held at the State Library of Victoria on September 6th 2007, then let me know what you think about the future of the book!

(Previously posted on NovaNews – October 10th 2010)

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