Link-N-Blogs: Feb 15

“Until recently, I was an ebook sceptic, see; one of those people who harrumphs about the ‘physical pleasure of turning actual pages’ and how ebook will ‘never replace the real thing’. Then I was given a Kindle as a present. That shut me up. Stock complaints about the inherent pleasure of ye olde format are bandied about whenever some new upstart invention comes along. Each moan is nothing more than a little foetus of nostalgia jerking in your gut. First they said CDs were no match for vinyl. Then they said MP3s were no match for CDs. Now they say streaming music services are no match for MP3s. They’re only happy looking in the rear-view mirror.”-Charlie Brooker

  1. Ebooks as Easy to Read as Print: A controversial new study has been released saying that people comprehend just as much when reading from an electronic source as when reading from paper. Read about the study and the debate it has caused in this article from Discovery News.
  2. Things that Happen When We Read: More than just a list, this article from the Open Education Database shows what happens in our brains as we read and also gives fun facts like “It only takes seven days for our brains to adapt to a new technology, like reading ebooks.”
  3. The Breakable/Unbreakable Rules of Grammar: The English language can be confusing. Is it okay to split an infinitive? Is it “It’s me” or It’s I?” This article from The Huffington Post doesn’t directly answer these questions, but it shed some light on to why some grammar “rules” are meant to be broken and others are law.
  4. 11 Words That Don’t Mean What They Sound Like: Words are fun, but they can sometimes be confusing, especially when they don’t mean what they sound like. Mental Floss has put together this list of confusing words. Do you have any that you’d add to the list?
  5. 100 Years of Bookmobiles: Remember getting excited when the Bookmobile was coming to your school? For some reason, even though there was a school library, there was something special about a moving, ever-changing, mini-library. Nowadays, bookmobiles are a rare commodity, but they’re making an interesting and artful comeback. The LA Times has put together this gallery of images detailing bookmobiles of the past and present.

“The greater part of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.”-Michel de Montaigne, The Complete Essays

openclipart.org
openclipart.org

Books, Print Vs. Digital

Ebook sales are at an all time high, and the numbers keep rising. It seems in this world that people are either completely for or completely against ebooks and ereaders. Personally, I read both physical books and ebooks, whatever is more convenient for me at the time. Of course, there are pros and cons to each. Below is a list that details just some of these aspects. Read these over, then hit the comments with your own pros and cons!

Print

Pros

  • The texture and feel of a book. This is one of the biggest arguments I hear for the perseverance of physical books. “I just like they way they feel in my hand!”

    Image by Steve Lamberty from http://openclipart.org
  • They fill a library, which can be both decorative and a great conversation piece. I love my massive bookcases. They’re the first thing you see when you come into my house, and they never fail to get a reaction.
  • THE SMELL! I love the smell of a new book. Come’on, admit it. You can’t go into a bookstore without taking a deep whiff either.
  • You can buy used books. I LOVE going to yard sales and flea markets and perusing the books. There’s something happy about filling up a plastic shopping bags with paperbacks and only paying 3 bucks.
  • They’re conversation starters. You see someone is reading the same book that you just finished, and you start talking about it. This is one way us nerdy people make friends

Cons

  • Books can be cumbersome. I read a lot of epic fantasy. These books can sometimes weigh in at a multiple pounds (1200 pages, AUG!). That’s a couple of extra pounds in my bag that’s weighing down my shoulder.
  • Books take up lot of room. Unless you have a nice place to store books, you can’t keep them all. Not everyone has the room or can afford to maintain a library.
  • They’re made of paper. Paper tears. Paper wrinkles. Paper gets eaten by mischievous little puppies (Twinkie, our middle child, had an affinity for eating paperbacks when she was a puppy).
  • People will judge you for what you’re reading. “Oh, you’re reading Twilight? That’s so three years ago. You should be reading Hunger Games! It’s like 47 times better.”
  • They’re conversation starters. Wait, what? Didn’t I list that as a Pro? Well, it’s true that this can be a con as well. Sometimes, I just want to read. If you see that I’m reading and you want to talk to me about that book, there might be a good chance that I just grunt at you because I JUST WANT TO READ. Don’t talk to me.

Ebooks

Pros

  • The books are relatively cheap, sometimes even free! My Kindle is loaded with stuff that I would have never bought otherwise.

    Image by Micha? Rzeszutek from http://openclipart.org
  • They’re portable. It’s nice that I can just toss one in my bag and it’s not too heavy. They’re great for long trips where all you have to take for entertainment is your ereader, and you’ll have multiple books to read!
  • They’re anonymous. You can read whatever you want in public and no one will judge you for reading Fifty Shades of Grey (though if you blush easily, that may give it away).
  • E-ink/E-paper is great. I love being able to adjust my fonts. When I’m working out on my stationary bike or treadmill, the HUGE fonts I can use make for a more enjoyable workout.
  • Instant gratification. If a friend tells you about the awesome book they just finished and you want to read it immediately, but don’t live near a big box bookstore, then you’re out of luck unless you have an ereader. You just download the book and begin reading. Maybe your friend doesn’t have the greatest taste. Heck, you can even download a sample for free first to see if you want to purchase the book.

Cons

  • The ereaders themselves are a bit pricey. While the prices of the Kindle has gone down with each version, they’re still $100+
  • Although durable, they are breakable. I’ve been lucky. I have dropped my kindle and only cracked the case, but it could have been catastrophic. Also, you have to make sure that they are nice and secured when traveling with them. Screens can get crushed, and then you’re out not only your reading materials, but out of money as well. This goes back to the con about price. They are pricey to replace.
  • You will get questions. This situation doesn’t happen as much as it used to since more and more people are getting ereaders. But it still happens. I usually get something along the lines of “Oh my, is that a Kindle? Do you like it? I don’t think I’d like it. I like reading REAL books too much. What do you think about it? Does it give you headaches? I’ve been thinking about getting one for my nephew. He’s seven, do you think he’ll like it?”
  • There aren’t page numbers on all ereaders, and it’s more difficult to flip back and forth between “pages.” Perhaps you wanted to reread the prologue after something happens in the main story? You can use the table of contents to jump back and forth, but you may lose your exact place and spend several minutes pressing the “next page” button trying to figure it out.
  • One-Click buying. Ebook dealers make it almost too easy to purchase books. If you have no control over your spending, you can easily go over your book budget. And sometimes, those books are just going to “sit” there. Click Responsibly.

The truth of the matter is that neither of these mediums is going anywhere soon. You are free to prefer which ever, but please don’t be critical of others who chose the other.

Do you have additional Pros and cons for print or digital books? Hit the comments and tell us!

E-Book Price Fixing Busted by DOJ

(Image Courtesy of Amazon)

As we move ever closer to a world where digital distribution becomes the standard for media and entertainment delivery, we’re bound to run into a few snafu’s along the way.  One such issue reared its unsightly head back in April when it was discovered that a number of major e-book publishers were holding meetings where they planned to fix market prices on their products.

Apple and five other major publishing groups had been in talks to set mainstream e-book prices at around $12.99 to $14.99. By using this pricing method, publishers would be able to pocket around 30% of each e-books cost while distributors like Amazon would receive a smaller commission for the sale of each e-book

The aforementioned process is referred to in the publishing business as agency pricing.  This model allows book publishers to set a price for their merchandise, while the agent, the group or organization that distributes the merchandise, receives a commission.  Under this business model, the publisher is the only party that can give discounts on e-books and the price of said e-book must remain the same across the market.

The idea was initially organized by late Apple CEO Steve Jobs.  The United States Department of Justice recently published an email from Jobs to one of the publishing houses which read, “Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream e-books market at $12.99 and $14.99.”

It’s not hard to see why this model was so appealing to publishers, considering that a price hike would earn them more money and the model also netted them the ability to limit supply to major distributors should they fail to comply to the publishers’ terms. While this practice certainly does very little to benefit distributers or consumers, it does raise an important question:

“Is it illegal?”

(Image Courtesy of US Department of Justice)

The Departments of Justice in both the United States and Europe certainly thought so, as both agencies filed lawsuits against Apple, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Penguin, MacMillan, and The Hatchette Group.

“This took place at the highest levels of these companies.  This action drove up e-book prices virtually overnight.  Let me be clear: When companies enter agreements that prevent price competition, that is illegal,” said Sharis Pozen, head of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division.

The DOJ in both countries have strict antitrust laws that prevent top market competitors from making joint pricing decisions, a process referred to as colluding, in order to increase prices in goods and services. The European Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice both began antitrust investigations back in December of 2011 and on April 18of this year; Apple and the other publishers had suits filed against them.

The Department of Justice hopes that the law suits will result in a market reset, effectively terminating the fixed price model, and force Apple and the other publishers to cooperate with Amazon on lower, more consumer friendly e-book prices.

Three of the publishers, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, and The Hatchette Group have agreed to settle.  It would appear that Apple and the two remaining publishing houses, Penguin and MacMillan, show no signs of backing down.

During the initial hearing, Apple lawyer Daniel Floyd stated, “Our basic view is that we would like the case to be decided on the merits. We believe that this is not an appropriate case against us and we would like to validate that.” The next court hearing for USA v Apple Inc et al is set for June 22.

Publishing Workshop and Reception

Bringing Appalachia to the World: Using Digital Technologies to Publish World Wide at Little to No Cost is a workshop to be put on by the University Press of North Georgia (UPNG) along with the Georgia Appalachia Studies Center on the North Georgia College and State University campus. The workshop, which will be led by UPNG Director B.J. Robinson, will focus on the widening areas of blogging and e-book publishing and only costs $10! Join us February 3rd at 4:00pm for the workshop. Sign-up soon, space is limited to the first 12 participants. To reserve your seats, call the Georgia Appalachia Studies Center at 706-864-1540 or email them at gasc@northgeorgia.edu.

Meet the Press: From 5:30-6:30pm (Feb 3rd) UPNG and GASC will hold a reception at the Vickery House on the NGCSU Campus. The reception is FREE and open to the public. Come meet the staff, check out the Press’s books, and learn more about the University Press of North Georgia and the Georgia Appalachia Studies Center. Oh and there’ll also be free refreshments!

For more information about either the workshop or the reception, email April at upng@northgeorgia.edu