November 17, 2008

Amazon 101: The Economics of the Kindle

This post comes to you, courtesy of kdawson, via Slashdot:

"Just how many books a year would you need to read before the cost of Amazon's Kindle e-Reader is justified? The answer is not so cut-and-dried. If you're a college student and all of your texts were available on Kindle (possible but unlikely), you could recover the cost of the reader in a semester and a half. For consumers to break even in that time, they would have to be in the habit of buying and reading four new hardback books per month — if the convenience factor wasn't part of the equation. At two books per month, breakeven would be in three years."

Here is the spreadsheet if you want to play with the numbers.

Thanks kdawson!

November 2, 2008

Another e-Paper ???

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Monday October 27 on Slashdot:

Samsung and Unidym Showcase Their Carbon Nanotube-based Color E-paper

Samsung Electronics and Unidym have demonstrated the world’s first carbon nanotube-based color active matrix electrophoretic display (EPD) e-paper. The revolutionary color e-paper was demonstrated on a 14.3 inch display. The e-paper device jointly developed by Samsung and Unidym uses a carbon nanotube (CNT) transparent electrode developed by Unidym. CNT is a novel material that has extraordinary electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties.

Interestingly, the new film is electrically conductive while remaining almost completely translucent and only 50 nanometers thick.

"The company also mentions that the EPD [electrophoretic displays] has important advantages over conventional flat panel displays. EPDs have very low power consumption and bright light readability, which means that even under bright lights or sunlight, the user would be able to
view the display clearly.

Furthermore, since the device uses the thin CNT films, applications can include e-paper and displays with thin, flexible substrates. Power consumption is lowered due to the EPD's ability to reflect light and therefore able to preserve text or images on the display without frequently refreshing."

One breakthrough after another ... looks like the e-paper and display technologies are on a tear now to conquer consumer markets and mainstream applications.

October 29, 2008

$125 Million Settlement in Authors' Guild vs. Google Books

Authors, publishers, and Google are announcing a huge settlement deal today in their lawsuits over the scanning of millions of copyrighted books in library collections. Google has agreed to a huge payout for books that were scanned without permission, but now they'll be allowed to scan the books legitimately. Most importantly, they'll be able to put millions of books online, including those still in copyright — not just for searching and not just as snippets.

The groundbreaking new licensing system, hammered out during the trial and agreed to by both sides, is meant to make the books as widely available as possible, while protecting the authors' copyrights and enabling them to share in the revenue.

Some of you might differ, but I think, both as a publisher and an avid reader, that the outcome is beneficial for our authors and readers alike. Hence I commend Google and the Authors' Guild for creating this new sign post in our wild digital frontiers, that hopefully will make navigating and expanding it much easier.

You can read the settlement details here.

September 9, 2008

The Real Deal -- See How Cool This E-Ink Magazine Cover Is!

Why do I cover this cover to avidly? What’s the big deal, you ask? How about this technology’s ability to:

• Make printing totally obsolete?
• Converge books, magazines, newspapers, video, and movies in one medium?
• Stream all this content free to you, if you’re willing to be buried in ads?

Since you’ll probably won’t find Esquire's 75th Anniversary issue on newsstands, here's a video of what the VERY FIRST E-Ink cover looks like.

Want to learn more about the very first E-Ink cover, as well as how to recycle and potentially even hack the issue? Visit the links below.

• How the E-Ink Cover Was Made

• How to Recycle the October Issue

• Can You Hack Esquire's E-Ink Cover?

Video cast credit: YouTube. And no, it doesn't play on the cover. Yet.

July 30, 2008

Esquire Is the First Mass Publication To Use Electronic Ink

Hearst says Esquire's 75th anniversary issue in October will feature a cover across which various words and images will scroll, news-ticker style, utilizing technology developed by Cambridge, Mass.-based E-Ink.

E-Ink uses what are known as segmented display cells to show simple images and alphanumeric text on a paper-like material. The system requires a small battery. In the case of Esquire's October issue, the battery should last for about 90 days.

E-Ink developed similar technology for to power the online retailer's Kindle portable reader. Coincidentally, Esquire in 2002 featured E Ink in a story on the business world's "best and brightest."

Hearst claims it's a first for the magazine industry. "We've spent 16 months making this happen," Esquire editor David Granger said in a statement. The issue's content will eye how digital technology is affecting the world. "The entire issue is devoted to exploring the ideas, people and issues that will be the foundation of the 21st century," he said.

Magazines have been steadily losing circulation (and advertising dollars), to the Internet as marketers begin to favor the Web's interactivity and personalization potential. Electronic ink, if it catches on, could help the print industry reverse the trend -- or at least hold its ground -- in the contest for readership.

I'm following these developments closely -- our a@$$ is on the line too!

June 26, 2008

Researchers Demo Flippable-Page E-book Reader

This is a repost of the article below, written by timothy on Slashdot, Wednesday June 25. Another stab at coming up with a truly functional ebook reader.

"E-readers are getting better but still limit users to keyboard-style interaction. Researchers at Berkeley and Maryland Universities have changed that with a reader that has two "pages". The two displays can be moved like a real book's pages to leaf through a document, or detached to compare and share virtual pages. If they are folded back to create a tablet with displays on each side, you can turn it over to flip pages. This video shows it in action. You be the judge.

You may be reminded of the promised second-generation OLPC device, which looks somewhat similar."

You can discuss this story at:

Thanks Timothy!

May 17, 2008

Do You Need Photo Quality Hard Cover Editions?

We decided we did, if for no other reason but to keep up with the latest in online publishing technologies. Here is the scoop about one of the Print-on-Demand web services that have made a splash lately:

I found the work flow to design a new edition of one of our titles straightforward, YET time consuming. Just follow the steps to see why:

1. Register at
2. You download and install the free book design software (Mac / Windows).
3. Play around to figure out how it works.
4. Find the layouts closest to the ones you use.
5. Redo and/or resize images to Blurb's requirements.
6. Transfer images into Blurb's content directory.
7. Design your cover.
8. Lay out each page separately.
9. Transfer image(s) and text page by page.
10. Proof on screen
11. Upload to your account in
12. Set price, add description, activate Preview
13. Check out you book in the Blurb store. Save the link to it.
14. Place order for one book, to use as your proof copy.
15. Re-proof after receipt. Make corrections as needed.
16. Upload and register your final copy on Blurb.
17. Use the built-in email and social bookmarking links for marketing.


A) Make your images at least 300 dpi, 400 pixels minimum on shorter side.
C) Upload in off-hours if your book layout file is larger than 20 MB.
D) Prices are not outrageous, but are definitely on the high side. Quality is excellent, though.

Took us about 20 hours total to create and set up the third hardcover edition of From Love to Triumph. We've already switched over to it in our iBook store. It's an absolutely gorgeous "coffee table" book for $49.95.

Go peruse it now - you'll see what I mean when I say it's a gorgeous book!