Posts Tagged: e-books

The Web Isn’t Nirvana (But You Can Get All Their Albums For Free)

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On February 26, 1995, just about twenty years ago, Newsweek published an article by Clifford Stoll called “Why the Internet Won’t Be Nirvana.” In it, Stoll provides a litany of faults to be found in the nascent web. Although there’s a decidedly un-zen tone to the article, Stoll makes some surprisingly accurate predictions—right alongside some laughable ones.

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By Any Memes Necessary

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The long-awaited release of The Autobiography of Malcolm X in ebook format is on track for May of this year, to commemorate what would have been the activist’s 90th birthday. The print edition has been available from Ballantine, an imprint of Penguin Random House, for some time; the author’s estate is spearheading the digital publication in keeping with his principles, according to attorney L.

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I, Reader

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Somewhere amid the fray of criticism, support, and speculation over e-books, linguistics professor Naomi Baron thought to ask readers whether they even liked them:

…you have to ask: What do you want to measure? Do you want to measure comprehension? That’s a fairly plain, middle-school way of talking about what it means to read.

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Not-So-Young Adults

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Good news! Early reports show that book sales are up 4.9 percent in 2014. Who can we thank for this Christmas miracle? Adults who read e-book versions of YA novels, that’s who. Sales are up by a dramatic 53 percent in YA/Children’s e-books, while sales in Adult Fiction/Nonfiction are down 3.3 percent—maybe because all the adults are reading The Hunger Games on their Kindles instead.

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Who Digitizes the Books?

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Of course books don’t digitize themselves. Human hands have to individually scan the books, to open the covers and flip the pages. But when Google promotes its project—a database of “millions of books from libraries and publishers worldwide”—they put the technology, the search function and the expansive virtual library in the forefront.

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Year One of Day One

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Whether Amazon proves friend or foe to the literary cause, its year-old literary journal Day One seems to be putting everyone in an awkward position. Boris Kachka covers its birthday party for Vulture:

Genres sell briskly as e-books, while the literary mid-list is still largely hand-sold in physical bookstores, so the Amazon authors hurt most of all by the lit world’s hostility are those it might like the most.

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Surveillance in the Stacks

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Librarians have hard-won reputations as defenders of open information and patron privacy, but what about third-party providers of library services? Slate’s Future Tense explores some recent revelations from companies like Adobe, whose Digital Editions e-book software has been criticized for transmitting reader data in plain text—making it an easy target for surveillance by the government, and other private companies.

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From Papyrus to PDF

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Mike Kelley delivers a useful overview of the outlook for preservation of e-books for Publishers Weekly. In addition to the upkeep necessary to combat digital decay, which is at least analogous to the challenges of paper-book preservation, libraries are now confronting the particular difficulties of texts in proprietary file formats, with limited licenses, and without common identifiers like an ISBN.

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e-Books Threaten Libraries

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Libraries have adapted to the modern era by lending out e-books. In many cases, electronic books provide patrons easier access to materials. But a new study says that they also threaten an old system of distribution, reports GalleyCat. The main problem is how electronic content is never really owned, but instead, licensed:

Unlike the print book business model, in which libraries buy a certain amount of books for a set price and distribute those texts widely, most digital content is licensed with specific conditions about when and where it can be distributed.

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Amazon Attempts to Drive Wedge Between Authors and Hachette

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The standoff between Amazon and Hachette has harmed authors more than either corporation. The corporations are surviving on massive war chests and alternate revenue streams. Authors, however, are far more adversely affected by reduced book pre-sales and the sale of electronic books (available immediately) versus physical books (artificially delayed by Amazon).

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Digital Age Changes Writing

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Technology has changed the way writers write, and that change is not just about the rise of e-books. Composition in a digital world is much more malleable and fluid, and changes in methodology alter the structure of sentences and words. Author Tom McCarthy tells the Guardian:

Writing with word processors has given a new organisation to shaping sentences but it has also given flexibility; paragraphs can be switched, flipped and thrown out with an ease that would’ve been impossible when working with a typewriter.

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Wimpy Bookstore with Strong Ideas

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How does a child experience a book? It’s such a different experience reading on a tablet or a smartphone. A physical book has a heft, a permanence that you don’t get digitally. So our hope is that the bookstore will remain a vital, important part of communities across the country and the world.

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