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The Green Apple of My Eye

posted August 4, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling E-books books

Amazon’s Kindle has stirred up its share of controversy. It seems people either love it or hate it. It would probably be safe to assume independent booksellers would lean toward the “hate it” category, but let’s not jump to conclusions. Green Apple Books, an independent bookstore in San Francisco, has decided to evaluate, with an open mind, the Kindle on its blog in a 10-part webisode battle of sorts. Each round explores different aspects of reading and compares how the book and the Kindle fare.

So far there have been three rounds. In the first the book and the Kindle test their mettle in the used-book-selling category. The second round explores the experience of purchasing a book. In the third the book and the Kindle go head-to-head in terms of borrowing or sharing a book. Spoiler alert: so far the book is in the lead 3-0. Care to place any bets on the final outcome?

So pop some popcorn and take a look at these clever and humorous webisodes. I can’t wait to see the final score!

The Book vs. the Kindle: Round 2

The Book vs. the Kindle: Round 3

Reading on the Go

posted May 18, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in technology

Stanza e-reader for iPhone

A while back I mentioned the Amazon Kindle e-reader and how I am enjoying the new gadget. It is certainly a different kind of reading experience using an e-reader as opposed to a traditional book, but I wouldn’t say it is drastically different. If something can motivate you to read more, does it really matter if it’s battery operated?

After getting the Kindle, I immediately downloaded the iPhone Kindle application. It syncs up with my Kindle so I don’t have to search around for the right page. It’s perfect for when I’m in a long line at the post office or waiting in a doctor’s office. You’d think that trying to read on a tiny iPhone screen would be distracting or unpleasant, but the text is very crisp and easy to read.

More recently I downloaded Stanza, another e-reader application for the iPhone (and iPod Touch). Not only does Stanza offer content for sale but it also offers a vast assortment of free books, including many of the classics. I opted for Huckleberry Finn, since I have never read it (I know, can you believe it?). Now I can sneak out my iPhone whenever and wherever I please and read to my heart’s content!

Me and My Kindle

posted April 13, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in technology

While I do like gadgets, I don’t consider myself to be a fanatic, and when the Amazon Kindle e-book reader first came out, I was not one of the clamoring fans. I did warm to the idea of the Kindle, though, mostly when I realized I could eat with both hands and read at the same time. I preordered a Kindle and was fortunate enough with the timing to qualify for the second generation Kindle (the Kindle 2).

Here’s another confession: I did very little research on the Kindle before ordering it. I had just heard it was great, that many felt they read more since buying one, that sort of thing. Now, another main reason I bought a Kindle was because I assumed it had a backlight that would allow me to read in bed or in dark rooms. Imagine my surprise when the Kindle arrived, and it had no light! Later I learned this was intentional: the Kindle is supposed to mimic actual paper as closely as possible, plus a backlit screen can cause eye strain. Still, it would be nice to have the option.

My initial impression of the Kindle was, I must admit, a bit more negative than positive. There were some little things I didn’t particularly love about it: the lack of a backlight, the small size of the screen (you can adjust the size of the text, which does help, but it seemed I was turning pages every few seconds), and the inability to adjust the contrast or grayness of the screen (the screen is a wee bit dark for my eyes). It’s a bit of a challenge to buy something sight unseen!

Despite my first reaction, I have grown to appreciate and enjoy my Kindle. I have now read about five books on the device and am fully comfortable with it. I won’t give up actual physical books, but it’s very handy to have the Kindle. The price of $359 is still quite steep, though, and makes it inaccessible to most people. Plus you should really get a case, which will run you an additional $30, but I suppose that is better than dropping the thin sliver of a Kindle and breaking it. If prices come down to around $200, I think we’ll see a lot more Kindle owners.

What do you think about the phenomenon of the Amazon Kindle or of e-book readers in general? Do you have a Kindle? How do you like it?

Publishing on Amazon’s Kindle

posted March 23, 2009

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in publishing technology

Here at Thomas Riggs & Company we are readers as well as writers and editors, so when the new edition of the Amazon Kindle came out, I decided to order one (you know, for research purposes). The whole Kindle revolution is an interesting one. There are already some quarter of a million books, an impressive selection, available for the Kindle. As a book publisher, Thomas Riggs & Company is thinking about launching a Kindle version concurrently with a paper version. So how hard is it to publish for a Kindle?

Amazon has made it pretty simple to publish books for sale on a Kindle. You basically just have to have an Amazon account (and who doesn’t these days) and a book to which you own the electronic publishing rights. The book can be in a number of formats, including HTML (the Amazon-recommended format), PDF, plain text, and Microsoft Word (but not .docx). You upload the file, Amazon then automatically converts the file to Amazon DTP (digital text platform), you set the Suggested Retail Price (Amazon pays you 35 percent of the Suggested Retail Price), and voila! Kindle book for sale!