While the Reading Ahead project was a couple of years ago, we continue to find stories that resonate with or extend beyond our findings. Here’s a few!
For Their Children, Many E-Book Fans Insist on Paper [NYT.com] – A key Reading Ahead finding was that people select different content for different environments, situations, etc. By extension, it makes sense to see that people are also making choices among platforms for similar reasons. Reading is a multi-headed beast.
Print books may be under siege from the rise of e-books, but they have a tenacious hold on a particular group: children and toddlers. Their parents are insisting this next generation of readers spend their early years with old-fashioned books. This is the case even with parents who themselves are die-hard downloaders of books onto Kindles, iPads, laptops and phones. They freely acknowledge their digital double standard, saying they want their children to be surrounded by print books, to experience turning physical pages as they learn about shapes, colors and animals. Parents also say they like cuddling up with their child and a book, and fear that a shiny gadget might get all the attention. Also, if little Joey is going to spit up, a book may be easier to clean than a tablet computer.
Fulfilling the status role of books [Applied Abstractions] – An admittedly facetious concept that pokes at the ongoing struggle between objects, in this case books, as physical tangible demonstrable symbols versus digital and generally invisible personal content, an issue that arose clearly in the Reading Ahead research
The Norwegian publishing and bookselling industry yesterday introduced a new concept for e-books that is rather harebrained. They want to sell e-book tablets where you can buy books not as downloads (well, you can do that, too) but as files loaded on small plastic memory cards, to be inserted into the reader. According to their not very convincing market analysis, this is aimed at the segment of the book buying market who do not want to download books from the net (but, for some reason, seem to want to read books electronically.) I initially thought I would make a joke about having to replace my bookshelves with neat little minishelves for the plastic cards, when it dawned on me that perhaps we have the solution here – i.e., a model where we could get the accessibility of digital books with the status display of the paper version. Why couldn’t the publishing industry sell you a digital book (for downloading, if you please) bundled with a cardboard book model, with binding and all, to put in your bookshelf? This would look great, allow you to effortlessly project your intellectualism and elevated taste, while avoiding the weight, dust, and (since these books would only need to be a in inch or two deep) space nuisances of traditional books. You could even avoid physical distribution by letting the customer self-print and cut and fold the “shelf-book” in the right format. You could even electronically link the two, so that you cold pick your cardboard book from the shelf, wave it in the direction of the e-book tablet (using transponder, 2D barcoding or other identifying techniques) and the book would show up in your reader. If you really wanted to show off, you could add a little color coded bar indicated how far you were in each book, much like a download bar for your computer, to be displayed on each book. Moreover, such as book could be lent from one reader to another.
A Digital Whiteboard for the Kindle [WSJ.com] – Already two years old, this post evoked for me another key tension: are digital book platforms translations (with relevant, reading-related enhancements) of the book reading experience or are they new digital platforms for a range of digital activities? Our research suggested a stronger desire for the former, with fears of distraction around the latter.
Luidia, the maker of an interactive whiteboard technology called eBeam, is extending its reach onto another screen: Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader. The start-up is launching a system that automatically zaps a copy of notes and scribbles left on whiteboards into people’s Kindle or Kindle DX. It works by turning the notes (captured digitally by the eBeam system) into an image file, and then emailing that file to a Kindle. “We saw the potential not just to read a novel and textbooks, but also have other kinds of content created live in the classroom by students and teachers themselves,” says Jody Forehand, Luidia’s vice president of product planning…But apps that extend or go beyond reading are one of the most anticipated additions to e-book readers in the coming year. Kindle competitor Irex has said it would release a software development kit so that programmers can make their own apps for its e-reading device.