Archive for the technology Category

Will the Kindle fulfill those decade-old eBook prophecies?

Posted in books, rambling, technology on 19 November 07 by mikevc

kindle.jpgWhen I first started in libraries about a decade ago, I remember hearing much about the death of the book. The book was supposedly going to go digital. While this has happened w/ research materials such as scholarly journals and some reference works, it has failed to occur with books, magazines, and other printed paper that we read daily. Part of the problem has been inferior and overpriced technology (remember the Rocket e-Book). And no matter how much I tried to pretend, reading on my PDA was never the same as reading from a book–although I did read my share of books on that sucker.

More recently, the folks over at Sony seemed to have a major breakthrough with their Reader and its paper-like eInk technology. The problem is that no matter how cool the devices become they will not be successful until someone realizes folks will never pay the same amount (or close to the same amount) for a digital book as they will for a physical one. We realize that it is much cheaper for a company to create a downloadable book that has no costs for materials, transportation, or stocking and until they pass that savings on to the consumer, I hope the consumer is not stupid enough to embrace eBooks. Witness the iPod and iTunes. It has been so successful not only because of the device but because Steve Jobs offered complete digital albums for $9.99, which was significantly cheaper than most CDs.

With Amazon’s heavy holiday press on the Kindle, which is undeniably cool with the wireless and all, they might be headed in the right direction. Though the thing is quite pricey ($399), I am sure it will come down in price. But, where I am convinced they are on the right track is what they are charging for books. As an example, say you wanted to read David Halberstam’s final book The Coldest Winter: American and the Cold War (and I do), you could but the print version from Amazon for $20.99 plus shipping; the Sony store eConnect sells their digital version for $20.76; the Amazon Kindle version is available for a mere $9.99 as is every other title I saw. Magazines and newspapers are equally cheap and it is all available to be downloaded wirelessly. I think Kindle (even with its’ Buck Rogers looks) is a step in the right (if still overly expensive) direction…finally.

As for me, this pricey technology does not factor into the budget of a librarian; I will observe this from the sidelines and continue checking out books until a wide array of eBooks for a reasonably-priced device are freely available from my local library–much as MP3 players have become the cost equivalent of a few CDs and free downloadable audiobooks services are currently proliferating at public libraries.

From Browsers to iPods to Records to Nostalgia

Posted in music, rambling, technology on 15 June 07 by mikevc

A while back I made the switch away from IE6 to Firefox 2 and have not looked back. I am a huge fan of Firefox. Now, folks are telling me about Apple’s Safari, which is now available in beta for Windows. In fact, I am using it as I type this. Early evaluation is that it’s claims of being 1.7 times faster than Firefox have not materialized. I haven’t really taken the time to explore features but I remain cautious. Keep in mind that I was a Netscape devotee for years.

Speaking of Apple and Mr. Jobs, I had heard much about how he was finally going to move iTunes to selling DRM-free music. Somewhere along the way I missed the information that it would cost 30 cents extra per song. You can go back and update all your purchases to DRM-free versions but I think you will get hit with a 30 cent charge per song. I am unimpressed. Besides, I will not go back to iPods until Jobs makes it possible (or easier) to use the iPod on multiple machines. I am backing the folks at Creative Labs even if it has me using Gates’ Windows Media Player.Plus, I was able to record some LPs to my creative player sans computer and I will always have a love for anything that contributes to extending the life of vinyl.

I know LPs are impractical in this day and age but I love them. I remember spending hours at record stores. Remember that feeling of anticipation when you put the needle on the vinyl of a new record for the first time and it made that quiet sound as it circled before hitting the groove in the vinyl of the first song? That experience is gone forever in the digital age. One of my favorite things about the record era were those little yellow 45 adapters that cost a quarter or two that were always in a jar or case at the register. I remember I always used to buy one or two whenever I hit the record store just in case I needed them. I miss seeing those little guys. Don’t get me wrong…I love the digital age of music…25 albums on my Creative Stone (smaller than my thumb or roughly the size of a 45 adapter but thicker) is amazing. But, well…just feeling a little nostalgic.