Saturday, July 28, 2012

One more vote for bigger tablets

Finally I found another call for bigger tablets, and for exactly the reasons I have written about it myself: they are needed for magazines, comics, art books, technical books...
I can live with the idea that e-books will replace mass-market paperbacks and other tomes that are mostly about words, not visuals. But I love art books–and with art books, bigger is better. Among of my favorites: The Sunday Press’s Little Nemo volumes, which reprint vintage newspaper comics at full size. They’re about the height of a small child, and there’d be no way to recreate them on an iPad, let alone a Galaxy Tab or PlayBook. I don’t want to see the art of the art book die when dead-tree printing goes away. [Emphasis mine]

I also have the hardcover collection of Little Nemo, (full page sample) and it's a colossal book, like two feet high. And the art is made for that format. Admittedly that's an unusual example, but it is far from unusual for illustrated books of many kinds to not fit well on the iPad's screen.
Yes, the weigh issue needs to be solved, but you anyway will want stands for larger tablets, and they will be needed sooner or later. Especially since print is bound to get even more expensive as ebooks take over.

Friday, July 27, 2012

I'm an Apple business customer

Here's a tip:
I was called today from Apple. And it seems I've missed a good trick: even though I own a business (a Limited company here in UK), I've been buying from Apple through regular consumer channels. But if I just register with them as a business user, I get all kinds of advantages, for example free on-site support! A techie will come to my home office to fix my computer for free. Sounds good to me!
There didn't seem to be any downside. I guess they just sell more to those registered thusly.
Just a tip, in case you buy from Apple and have a business.

Generic ereader, anybody?

A friend of mine lives in Singapore, so he can't use a Kindle or a Nook. He does use Kobo apps on devices, but he is thinking about getting an e-paper ereader. He would like it to be able to read PDF, and a browser would be good. And he would like one which is not bound to a single store, unlike Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and Sony. At least it should be able to show ePub books with generic protection, from various stores.
Any recommendations?
(Maybe the Kobo device would be the thing, even though I personally couldn't get it to work with Google Books via my Mac and Adobe Digital Editions, that was probably just my machine.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

UX Write review, and why write on an iPad? (updated)

UX Write: A First Class Word Processor for iPad, review.

I think I must have bought more text processors for my iPad than I have written stories with any of them! But even though UX Write is amongst the more expensive ones (amongst iPad apps, which admittedly are cheap), I got that one too. What sold me was the touch pad it introduces when you press a special key on the virtual keyboard. Finally a solid attempt at solving what I have said even recently, that one of the big weaknesses of the iOS is cursor insertion and text selection. It's embarrassingly tricky, really, and sort of negates Apple's postulate of the iPad as a production device.

UX also works in HTML 5, which I think is a wise choice, lets face it, text these days is electronic, and HTML is basis for so many things, including the standard ebook format ePub.
Admission: I've only started with the app myself, but read John M's review above, he knows his stuff and then some.

Why would one write on an iPad instead of a laptop? Well, it's a judgment call. But say you're carrying your iPad anyway, as an ereader, web browser, entertainment center, navigator, gaming device, etc etc. If the iPad were to be a powerful word processor, you could save a lot of money and weight by not having to carry a laptop also. And the iPad certainly has the screen and all the power anybody needs for word processing. And now it seems the software is coming along also. (Rumor has it MS has Word in the works too for iPad.) For some people like me, an external, physical keyboard might be needed, but that's just a fraction of the price and weight of a laptop. (There are many options, from Apple's own beautiful aluminium model to very light and cheap knock-offs. Here's a (slightly outdated) article of my own on that.)

There's also the "toaster-fridge": Brydge. I may get that one, I'm not sure. They are right in that the quality of the many keyboards for the iPad has never quite been up to snuff. That might be nice, and it might be nice to be able to carry them as a unit, and to not have to bring a case or a stand.

Bruce said...
I'm keeping an eye on the Android Netbook category, which is promising in the long term. Right now you can buy a crummy one that runs Android 2.x for around $100.00, but that's about it. There are quite a few of these for sale at Amazon. A decent one that runs Android 4 for $200 would be very interesting. With a netbook, you always have the keyboard, but sacrifice the touch screen for a trackpad.

Making a netbook with Android, manufacturers save money on a Windows license, can use a less powerful ARM processor instead of Intel, and customers still have a huge ecosystem of apps at the Google Play store. Manufacturers also save money by eliminating the touch screen, and have a larger case in which they can use larger, less expensive parts.

None of the big names are making these, but if some off brand in China or elsewhere can step up their game just a little bit I think they could sell quite a few of these things.

Eolake said...
Yes, that's a quite interesting idea. It might make for some quite interesting machines. 
If there are enough good apps. 

I don't know if they'll save a lot by eliminating the touch screen, if not I wouldn't mind keeping it along with the trackpad, for many things it's a good interface. 

A good keyboard would be important. Not too short travel. I have an old Psion NetBook (before "netbooks" arrived). It's a solid portable word processor. With that as a model and progress since then, it could be interesting.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book pricing

Publishers are always arguing that print and distribution are very small parts of the expenses of making a book, so they have to price ebooks not far below the prices of paper books.

My first comment to this is that if print and distribution, which are a lot of money, are insignificant expenses to big publishers, then their expenses are wildly out of control. To make a good book you need the author's time, and a few thousand dollars for editing and design. You don't need a host of staff in an overpriced highrise on Manhattan. Then comes promotion, but publishers don't do that that anymore anyway.

My second is that the argument, very oddly, totally overlooks the fact that when you lower the price of something, you sell more of it. And in many cases you sell so much more of it that your profit grows. It's a whole science.

In fact it's impossible that the publishing industry is not aware of this simple fact, which tells me that they are using a disingenuous argument to try and keep their prices artificially high, like the CD industry managed to do with CDs for many years (15-20 bucks for a CD, woa).

I heard that many authors who have a book published by the very biggest houses (Random House for example) and who gets ads in NYT and the book in every Barnes And Noble in the country, still don't manage to sell even a thousand copies. So something is broken about the traditional model, they only survive on the few bestsellers, less than one in twenty I think.

The Net age is favouring the lean-and-mean independent. I'm a webtrepreneur and I am making a really good living, but only because I'm doing everything myself. I only work about half time, and I work from my office in my smaller bedroom. If I had had the idea that the only way to run a business was to have an office in town and acquire staff, then I'd be more stressed and very probably have less at the end of the day.