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An Essay of the LISNews Summer Series
I'm a conflicted person, it would seem. I regularly use, and encourage the use of, open source software. In some settings -- public computing, thin client, and cloud environments -- there isn't, in my mind, any closed system that comes close to delivering what an open platform offers.
I believe heartily that open source code benefits both developers and end-users -- in perpetuity. Open source development efforts can (and do) die -- but the application, the code, the vital organs that sustained it during development live on. An abandoned open source software project is much like what the medical profession calls a beating heart cadaver. I learned this from Mary Roach's book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.
The fact that I read books about corpses that have more of a life than I do isn't what makes me a conflicted soul. The fact that I read it on my second generation Kindle most certainly does. -- Read More
Amazon's competitors, after fumbling about like the Washington Nationals for the past couple of years, are starting to get their act together. They're moving toward a shared e-book format, called ePub, that's different from the one on the Kindle.
And Allen Weiner, an expert in the e-book business at technology consultancy Gartner, Inc., says he knows that other manufacturers are poised to launch new reading devices with Kindle-style 3G wireless connections. Some may be announced as early as the next few weeks, he says.
It's been a busy summer for Amazon's competitors.
Last week, Sony announced two new e-book readers, including one for $199. A third, with a wireless connection, is thought to be coming.
Barnes & Noble recently has waded back into the e-book business, after a six-year absence, by acquiring online seller Fictionwise. It is likely to partner with other e-book readers to compete with Amazon.
Oh, yes, and a little-known company called Apple, Inc.,(AAPL) is rumored to be readying a handheld tablet that would also be an e-book reader.
James Patterson's latest best seller, "The Angel Experiment," is a little different from his usual hits. The novel isn't new; it came out four years ago. Readers aren't picking it up at bookstores, but mostly on the Kindle site at Amazon.com.
And the price is low even for an old release: $0.00.
"I like the notion of introducing people to one book, while promoting the sales of another," says the prolific and mega-selling author (and co-author) of numerous thrillers." His Kindle download is the first book of Patterson's "Maximum Ride" young adult series.
"We've given away thousands of free e-copies," Patterson said. "`Maximum Ride' is big already and we think it could be a lot bigger. That requires getting people to read it."
Story also discusses concerns that other authors have. Full piece here.
The Free Software Foundation is calling them out, joining with readers, academics, librarians and authors (including Lawrence Lessig, Clay Shirky and BB's own Cory Doctorow) in a petition against Amazon's ebook DRM. The petition opens: 'We believe in a way of life based on the free exchange of ideas, in which books have and will continue to play a central role.
Amazon is making progress getting the major college textbook publishers on board with its Kindle electronic reader. Today, McGraw-Hill Education said it will begin offering 100 higher education titles on the Kindle. McGraw-Hill joins the other major textbook publishers, Cengage Learning, Pearson, and Wiley, which are already selling Kindle editions. Amazon is positioning its new large-screen Kindle DX reader as a replacement for physical textbooks -- and needs to get as many titles as possible into electronic form.
Today, people buy Kindle e-book readers from Amazon’s Web site. But if the e-commerce giant wants to continue dominating the e-reader category in the future, that needs to change, according to a new report from consultant Forrester Research.
Here’s why: Demographics of e-book reader buyers are shifting, as the device starts to enter the mainstream, writes report author Sarah Rotman Epps. In the past, Kindle buyers were mainly comprised of business users, who were mostly male. But “future prospects for the devices look completely different,” Rotman Epps says. “They’re more likely to be female, less tech optimistic, and they read a lot (on average, 5 books per month) but they buy and borrow books from multiple sources, as opposed to buying lots of books online. The big takeaway is that this could spell trouble for Amazon, if competitors can move in to better serve the later waves of adopters who don’t have as strong a relationship with the eCommerce giant.”
Basically, unless Amazon makes the Kindle available everywhere — at competing, traditional bookstores, for example — the device’s growth could peter off.
Apple’s bullies are tossing out e-book offerings for the iPhone even when the copyright risks aren’t that high. I’m not sure how this affects existing items. But either way, it’s bad news and smacks of Apple’s war on Google VOiP—well, assuming that the news reports are correct, which they might not be, considering the extent of the cluelessness ascribed to Apple.
Novelist Moriah Jovan has come up with a plan for a bookstore without books.
From Media Bistro's Galley Cat, Ron Hogan writes:
"You want a book you can hold in your hands," Jovan fantasizes. "You go to Quaint Bookstore and they do not have what you want in their meager stock. NO PROBLEM! You sit down at one of the book stations. You browse the computer catalog (probably Ingram or Baker & Taylor). You pick your book. You punch in your credit card number (tied to the store's point-of-sale system). The order goes directly to one of the Espresso (print-on-demand) machines behind you. You wait 10 or 15 minutes (by which time you've probably already ordered another 3 books), and out pops your book. You are GOOD TO GO."
Jovan's dream store also allows customers to test drive e-book readers, and maybe even keeps a few old-timey books around on a second floor, for those booksellers who aren't ready to let go completely. So what do you think? Is this where bookstores are headed? Is it where they should be headed?
Is a library without books next?
Competition is growing in the eBook reader market. There have been plenty of electronic book devices in the past, but in the past year or so the Amazon Kindle has grown in popularity and built some credibility for the struggling market. Now, Amazon claims that Kindle eBooks account for more than 30 percent of the company's overall book sales for books that are available in the Kindle format, and Sony is jumping in again with two devices to compete with the Kindle.
Conventional wisdom has long held that the advent of the personal computer and the Internet will result in the salvation of billions of trees as paper is rendered archaic and we get all of our information digitally. I have been hearing that for 20 years or so. But then again, I've also been hearing that the United States is going to switch to the metric system…eventually.