Posts Tagged ‘ebook’

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

We had a mailshot from the Frankfurt Book Fair yesterday.

It said “Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) and the Frankfurt Book Fair are this year asking again for entries to be submitted for the DAM Architectural Book Award 2013. All art and architectural book publishers worldwide are invited to do so.”

Excellent, I thought. Our profusely illustrated Heritage Ebooks will be just the ticket, and will get us some much needed publicity — and maybe some sales as well.

But apparently not.

My proposal was curtly answered: “I am sorry but online publications are not to be considered.”

Well, they are not online publications. They are ebooks, in Kindle and EPUB formats. The titles are not available in print format, as the Active Location Finder we use to physically locate the buildings described in the books can only work in an ebook.

So I told them. Now they have sent us a holding letter while the Deutsches Architekturmuseum and the Frankfurt Book Fair deliberate as to whether an ebook can be regarded as a book.

Should I be holding my breath?

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Readers may recall the troubles I’ve recently had with an enhanced ebook: The Guide to Birds of Britain and Europe.

Ever the early adopter, I rushed out and plonked my money down when the immortal Oxford English Dictionary was first published electronically in 1993. We didn’t use the word ebook back then.

It was merely called “The Oxford English Dictionary on Compact Disc”, and it came in a chunky A4 sized white plastic box. This was considerably smaller and lighter than the 16 volumes of the printed work, and of course somewhat cheaper, as well.

Inside the plastic box came a printed instruction manual, a floppy disk which contained the program and the necessary fonts, and a CD-ROM which held the data.

I can’t use it any more because it only runs on Mac OS 7, 8 and 9, and I no longer have a computer that uses those operating systems. Or a floppy disk drive.

But all is not lost. In June last year I had a cheery letter from Oxford University Press offering me, as a registered user of Version 1.0d, the Oxford English Dictionary 2nd ed — new Mac-compatible CD-ROM v4.0 on a Special Offer!

For a mere £149.25 more I would be able to read my version of the OED on a more up-to-date computer.

Of course for the same amount of money I could buy all 16 volumes second-hand from Abe Books.

And I wouldn’t have to chuck it away when Apple finally release Mac OS XI.

But now OUP have announced that the next edition of the OED may well be available only as an ebook — no print edition at all. So we’re moving to a situation where we will have to pay out regularly for upgrades to carry on using a necessary reference work.

It’s what the software and publishing giants have dreamed of. Books that expire after a certain time. After all, who is still using Photoshop I nowadays?

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

This morning The Times, The Telegraph and The Independent all had front page solus photographs of Steve Jobs holding up the new iPad. If only fotoLibra could have just one day’s worth a year of the publicity Apple gets!

iPad is a much better name than iSlate. Whoever thought iSlate would win out?

So Apple’s latest gottahave has finally been released. It’s as lovely as anticipated and it does several of the things that were expected. No phone, no camera, not even a little one buried in the frame looking at you so you can do video conferencing. Not needed because there’s no phone. But I suppose as it’s an internet browser it can Skype, so it could be used as a phone?

Of course I want one, and I want it now.

But what will I do with it? What basic need does it fulfil?

Most of us in the sedentary Western world live a three screens life — mobile, laptop, TV. When I’m not reading, I’m usually to be found staring at one of these objects. What I’m not so certain about is how much I hanker after a four screens life.

Which was always a good argument against Amazon’s Kindle, that clunky black and white book sales outlet. The new iPad blows the Kindle out of the water. It is incomparably more desirable. Put the two together and they look as if they’ve come from different centuries (which they probably have). Of course the iPad’s bookstore feature only works in the US, as Kindle’s did until very recently.

When all the brouhaha and hyperbole have been swept away, what have we got with the iPad? It’s a big screen iPod Touch with some software packages thrown in. It’s a big iPhone — without the phone.

I can live without it. For now.

But when Version 2.0 comes out …

Here’s an index to the fotoLibra Pro Blog for the whole of 2009.

As I complained 6 months ago, it takes a surprising amount of time to compile, so if there are any WordPress experts out there who know how to automate this process, we’d love to hear from you.

If you’re new to fotoLibra, welcome, and may we suggest you read through the HINTS & TIPS section, and if nothing else read Great Expectations. If you enjoy a bit of controversy, read BAPLA Shock Horror.

Comments are welcome, even on old posts, and will be read and often responded to.

HINTS & TIPS

ABOUT FOTOLIBRA

ADOBE

BAPLA

CUSTOMERS

E-BOOKS & PUBLISHING

IT

LAW


MISCELLANY


NETWORKING

NEWS

PICTURE CALLS

SECURITY

TRADE FAIRS

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Avid readers of this blog (me) will remember that last March I posted a wish for an ebook that actually did what I thought an ebook should do. The piece was titled “The Killer Book For eBooks” and in it I described what I expected to get from an ebook. And what the Kindle was dismally failing to do.

Well, I’ve just seen it. And it’s come from a most unlikely source: the American periodical Sports Illustrated. So it’s an emagazine rather than an ebook, but it’s almost exactly what I described. It’s not yet available, so I have no idea of timescale or cost, and American sport is incomprehensible to me and the rest of the world, but watch this video and you’ll get the picture.

The timescale and costs are irrelevancies to anyone but the earliest of adopters. What I know is that it will be here soon, and it will get cheaper soon. And in ten years’ time we’ll come across the device mouldering in the back of the garage and smile to remember how impressed we were with it at the time.

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

In BBC’s Question Time, recorded in affluent suburban Chorleywood, the panelists were asked if they liked the idea of ebooks.

Harriet Harman said No — you can’t lend a book you like to a friend.

Tristan Hunt said Don’t lend books — buy them! (He has just had a new book published).

Philip Hammond said No — you can’t hide behind them on the tube.

David Steele (the oldest panelist) thought the ebook was a rather good idea.

Chairman David Attenborough asked the questioner how she felt. She hated the idea.

Then he asked the audience. Amid laughter, he announced the result was that “they are not going to sell very well in Chorleywood.”

Amazon’s Kindle is now allowing blogs to be posted. Here’s one user’s experience, which can be read in full at http://www.daniweb.com/blogs/entry4341.html:

When I looked at the preview of what my blog looked like in the Kindle after adding my first blog to the system, I was shocked at the terrible quality.

First of all, it was black and white. My blog has pictures and on the Kindle they were not just black and white, they were low resolution black and white. It changed my carefully chosen font to a Times New Roman. In short it looked horrible. Sure, you can get away with a black and white eBook Reader for books, but if you are going to add other content, you need it to be full color or it just looks ghastly (or you are asking bloggers to come up with a special Kindle design, which is an unreasonable expectation).

It was at that moment, staring at that horribly ugly preview of my blog that it hit me. This is clearly a job for Apple.

Rumours of Apple working on an e-book reader have intensified over the past few months. Would it be like a big slender iPhone? Will it actually come? Or is this just wishware?

To many people, me included, the look and feel of a thing is as almost as important as the content. If I see my work in Times New Roman (a wonderful typeface, drowned by ubiquity) I feel physically sick. Fonts are the clothes words wear, as I quoted in my Encyclopaedia of Fonts.

And from fotoLibra’s point of view, the sooner we have colour e-books the sooner we can sell images to e-book publishers.

It will happen. So we are preparing for it.

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

It’s not on the market yet, but we can do it now. All we need is the content.

As ebooks stand at the moment, they offer less than conventional books do. You can’t get anything from an ebook you can’t get from a paperback at a fiftieth of the price (once you include the hardware). The big advantage is search/indexing, not particularly relevant to fiction, the major ebook market. As yet, there is no killer app.

But when ebooks get color, there’s no reason why the images that now grace illustrated books shouldn’t just be still pictures. There will be mini-movie and sound clips embedded in the text.

Imagine a travel book with the sounds and bustle of a Hong Kong market; a bird book which shows the distinctive jizz (behaviour pattern) of each bird as well as letting you hear its song; a D-I-Y book where you could actually see how to apply putty; a cookery book with techniques clearly demonstrated — the method of carving a shoulder of lamb, for example — or a history book with a WWI tank lumbering over the trenches.

That would make the purchase of the ebook as reading tool worthwhile.

fotoLibra’s holding company is called VisConPro Ltd. It stands for VISual CONtent PROvision. At the moment ebooks are almost solely sourced from unillustrated texts, because today’s ebooks can only handle 16 shades of grey. I had a computer like that in 1983. So the publishers are currently providing content simply as text — TEXtual CONtent PROvision.

We have the images. We can shortly have the movie clips, on the same basis that grew fotoLibra from a dream to 300,000 images online. We can collaborate with a publisher to produce a few sample titles and a snappy generic name. Alas, Prentice Hall already has Active Book.

It’s perfectly possible to create any of this content right now. All we need is for Kindle to add colour and Quick Time compatibility.

THEN as a consumer I will be thrusting my dollars into Mr. Bezos’s ever-open palm.

And as a Visual Content Provider I expect Amazon will be doing the same to me in return.

Kindle 2

March 4th, 2009
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Kindle is Amazon’s ebook reader, and they’ve just launched a new version.

I’d love to be given one as a toy, but I’m going to be a late adopter on this one — I like to hug trees after they’ve been converted into books.

And as I’ve already got over 4,500 books, and I’m not a big novel reader, and I don’t do a huge amount of travelling, and $359 would buy me an awful lot of reading matter which would still be extant when the Kindle is forgotten landfill, and it only works in one country in the world (admittedly the third largest), and it’s only available in black and white, and every book would feel the same and smell the same and look the same and weigh the same and you could lose your entire library on the tube, if it’s all the same to you I’ll pass for the moment.

The ads say “Shop the Kindle store wirelessly, anytime, anywhere!” Not true. Like Kindle 1, Kindle 2 doesn’t work in Europe or in the rest of the world outside North America.

“Images are sharper than ever, in 16 shades of gray!”

Perhaps. Most books are printed in colour, and fotoLibra sells 98% colour to 2% grayscale imagery. It’s not vitally important for a novel, but in every other branch of publishing, colour is imperative.

At the moment there’s a careful stand off between publishers and picture libraries over the issue of digital rights. Prices for images (which are tumbling) are based on page sizes, print runs and territorial rights. Ebook readers don’t yet impinge on our consciousness, because nobody buys an ebook to look at the pictures.

But colour will eventually arrive. Who knows, Kindle 4 may run to 256 colours. T&H, Phaidon & Abrams won’t be holding their breath.

And we will start addressing the situation when publishers start making money from illustrated ebook sales.

Meanwhile we’re keeping an eye on it.

Kindle doesn’t yet light my fire.