Friday, January 30, 2009

Local Knowledge by Liza Gyllenhaal eBook edition

This week got off to a slow start.  Kinda of like Goldilocks and the tree bears.  I tried three other books before I finally settled down and was able to actually read this one.  When it comes to the original three:  one was too boring, one was too depressing and the last one was written in a style I actually hated. 

So it was a relief to actually pick up a book that I could read more than the first chapter.  is narrated by Maggie.  She tells the story by alternating along two distinct paths -- the present and the past.

Maggie is a precise and effective narrator.  She tells the story without sparing herself or glossing over her faults.  I could argue that some of the descriptions and the rehashing of the past are too long and possibly unnecessary.  But in the end, all of that background and all of those descriptions made the place and the characters live.  After awhile it was hard to remember that Red River, New York is really a fictional place.

This is a story about change.  Changes in community.  Changes in perceptions.  Changes in attitudes. It is about changing roles.

It is also a story about families and how they shape your life -- the resentments, the feuds, the quiet discontent.  About parents aging and dying and children growing up. 

And finally it is about friendships.  What we invest in them.  How easy it is to prejudge people and how seldom those prejudgments actually hold up. And the tempering of those prejudgments with experience, circumstances and time.  Ultimately friendships can alter us and our world view forever.

For a first novel, this cover a wide range of very complex themes.  It goes on my recommended list.

Here is what the publisher says:

From an exciting debut author, a novel about three people haunted by the mistakes of their past and their plunge into an uncertain future. Maddie Alden has always longed for more than her small town could offer. Now that it's being overrun by wealthy New Yorkers looking for a respite from the city, Maddie has gotten herself a lucrative new job in real estate. And her first sale brings her a charismatic new friend who is everything Maddie longs to be. Little does Maddie realize that the glamorous Anne will shake up her quiet marriage and will force Maddie to face the truth about the past, and the terrible secret she shares with her husband and his best friend.

Monday, January 26, 2009

eBook and eReader update

Last September. Waterstone's, the British bookseller, began selling the Sony eReader. Last week they released sales information.

The chain claims to have sold almost 30,000 readers and their downloads have passed the 75,000 mark. Which works out to about 2 1/2 books per reader. Very interesting. . .

Particularly interesting since Amazon refuses to give out any sales numbers on the Kindle other than Jeff Bezos' statement that "sales are great." And an estimate that 12% of book sales are for the Kindle editions.

The one sure thing is that eBook sales are on the upswing, whatever anyone says about individual eReader sales. The IDPF (International Digital Publishing Foundation) reports that between January and November, 2008 sales were up 63.8%. The disclaimer on this is that the IDPF number reflects only the sales for 13 of the many trade book publishers.

Alternatively, Ingram's Education Solutions unit reported that eBook sales from January to May, 2008 surpassed the 2007 figures by 400 percent!

Both of these stats sound really great until you realize that eBooks sales are about .5% of all book sales. And when you consider the number of smart phones (including the iPhone) in use .5% is shockingly low.

My original supposition was that much of the reading on these devices are downloads from project Gutenberg on other free eBook sites. But if Juniper Research is correct, my supposition is dead wrong.

The Juniper analyst predicts that the worldwide mobile adult market will hit $4.9 Billion within the next five years. Hmmm. I suppose that is good news for Larry Flynt, but not so good for Amazon and the major publishers.

No matter what you choice of reading material is I want to remind you that Read an eBook Week starts March 8th. We will have more info about how you can help promote this week and make it a success.

Short post today -- have to spend the week getting all my tax info to the accountant. I do hate this time of the year!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Black Ops by W.E.B Griffin eBook edition

Henri shares his latest reading experience.

I’ve been on a reading binge and filling my spare time with books that stir up emotions around the themes of war, heroism, and patriotism.  The latest is Black Ops by W.E.B. Griffin.  He has been an author of note for nearly as long as I have been reading.

Griffin entered the military in 1946 and combines his experience with his considerable talent to draw plots and characters that compel you to keep reading.

Griffin’s main character is a blend of virtues and vices that compel me to like him. He is the son of two wealthy families who was raised in Europe and Texas. He has language skills and other capacities that made him stand out in the military roles he played but now he has become a Special Ops Warrior. How Griffin makes all of this work is a mystery to me but it works marvelously.

With Griffin you always feel like you have a seat at the big table and are watching significant events unfold. Black Ops is no exception. I bought it immediately and read it in two sessions separated only by family obligations. As usual it left me hungry for the next novel in the series.

I really enjoy reading novels that explore human values and the strengths and weaknesses of various social and political approaches to life. They do have to ring true in my ear past the fact that they are obviously only works of fantasy. Griffin’s latest book does ring true.

It comes down to something as simple as this, I read fiction to be entertained and if I am happy I chose that book at the end that is all I can ask of any author.

Black Ops delivers.

Here is the publishers take:

The Russian bear is stirring and its hungry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series thrilling fifth novel.The first disturbing reports reached Delta Force Lieutenant Colonel Charley Castillo in the form of backchannel messages concerning covert U.S. intelligence assets working for a variety of agencies suddenly gone missing and then, suddenly, inexplicably, found dying. Or dead. One in Budapest, Hungary. One in Kiev, Ukraine. One in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, mere klicks from the Iran border. And then one in Virginia, along the Potomac River, practically in the shadow of CIA headquarters.Castillo finds the information both infuriating and fascinating, particularly after a recent experience with two CIA traitors whose own deaths were swift and suspicious.

Despite there being some similarities, though, he thinks there's something different with these new cases, something he can't quite put his finger on. At first, its an idle thought, but Castillo expects it's only a matter of time before the commander in chief assigns him and his group of troubleshooters in the innocuously named Office of Organizational Analysis to look into the deaths while all those intel agencies fight among themselves trying to put the pieces together.

Meanwhile, Castillo has problems of his own; fallout from recent missions involving a clandestine rescue of a DEA agent from South American drug runners, and the confiscation of some fifty million dollars from thieves in the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal. He's made more than a few enemies, he knows both foreign and domestic. And then comes another back-channel message, this one delivered personally by his lethal friend, the Russian mobster arms dealer. All that has happened so far, he says, is just a warm-up for what's about to come out of the Kremlin.

Could sabers be rattling for a new Cold War? Or worse? Presidential Agent C. G. Castillo is about to find out. . . .

Filled with Griffin's trademark rich characters and cutting-edge drama, this is another exceptional novel in an exceptional series.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

eBook Specials 01/21/2009

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This week the hands down winner is Stephanie Meyers -- evidently her books are what everyone wants to read this year.  So we are offering any of her titles at a 15% discount. 

Use coupon code 2SJme1 when you check out to get your discount.


Take your pick -- read them one or all:

Twilight  eBook edition

New Moon eBook edition

Eclipse  eBook edition

Breaking Dawn  eBook edition


Our guarantee: If you have bought one of these titles from eBooks About in the last 15 days -- we will gladly offer you a rebate on the book; just contact us


Monday, January 19, 2009

The NEA says there are more readers and many of them read digitally!

CoverReadingonRise This may be the first good news about reading that I have seen in years!

A new National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) study reveals that for the first time in 25 years American adults are reading more.  How about that!

The biggest increase is among young adults (18-24).  A full 21% over the last six years (2002-2008). The NEA is quick to credit reading programs such as their own "Big Read" initiative for this dramatic turn around.

I am somewhat skeptical about this conclusion.  Conspicuously absent is any reference to the publishing phenomena of J K Rowling or Stephanie Meyers.  I remember that Scholastic, the publisher of the Harry Potter series, reported a significant loss in earnings every quarter they did NOT have a new Harry Potter title.

My (admittedly limited) exposure to this particular age group tells me that they are reading J K Rowling and Stephanie Meyers and not a whole lot else.  I think the NEA is perhaps slightly more impressed with themselves than is truly warranted. 

The most curious increase to me is this:  15% for readers in the 75+ age demographic.  I would love an explanation here.  Large print books?  Seems unlikely.  Faulty polling in earlier polls?  Not that they would admit to!

One part of the report that is not necessarily highlighted is the statistics that correlate book reading and online reading.  Of course, I find these worth these worth taking a close look at:

  • 84% of adults who read literature (fiction, poetry, or drama) on or downloaded from the Internet also read books, whether print or online.
  • Nearly 15% of all U.S. adults read literature online in 2008.
  • For adults who read online articles, essays or blogs, the reading rate is 77%.

It seems that perhaps the Internet will not be the death of books.  Or at least not yet. 

Which brings me to my final observation about this report.  The NEA carefully defines a book as something between physical covers.  It does not account for eBooks or audio books.  In the case of audio books because (evidently) listening is not really reading.  In the case of eBooks because of their strictly defined poll format.  They are proud to let you know that the questionnaire has "remained fundamentally consistent for 26 years." 

A lot has changed in the last 26 years!  In 1982 the internet as we know it did not exist.  There were no Ipods, MP3 players, or cell phones.  I would like to see the NEA catch up with current technology and include eBooks and even audio books in their computations. 

Probably a small complaint in the scheme of things!  Because in the end, any increase in reading is a good thing!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Lost Recipe for Happiness eBook editions

Ghost stories are not my thing.  Nor, frankly are lonely, deeply damaged individuals.  And yet, I was entranced by Barbara O'Neal's The Lost Recipe for Happiness.

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon.  A nap seemed like the thing so I picked this book up as something to read myself to sleep by.  Six hours later, ravenously hungry and snuffling slightly I put the book down with a sigh.  Seems I read the whole thing in one sitting.

The writing is fluid, the plot tight and the characters surprisingly complicated with out being terribly convoluted even if all of the characters are damaged in some way.  On some level, you have to admire them because they have found ways to function and cope. 

These are quintessentially lonely people who almost in spite of themselves begin to recover.  At some point each of them realizes that somehow happiness has crept up on them.  Even when they know that happiness never lasts.

As a sideline, one of my favorite aspects of the book are the recipes between the chapters.  They are bound to make you salivate -- especially if you love good Southwestern/Mexican cooking the way I do.  I might actually try a couple of them. 

O'Neal not only loves food, but she obviously loves the Southwest; particularly Colorado and New Mexico.  Her descriptions of the scenery are beautiful and evocative.  Made me want to take a quick trip to Aspen and/or Santa Fe.

This is a story of recovery, new starts and taking chances.  It will make you laugh and cry.  And I guarantee you these characters will haunt you long after you finish the last chapter. This is a great read; don't miss it!

Here are the publishers notes:

In this sumptuous new novel, Barbara O’Neal offers readers a celebration of food, family, and love as a woman searches for the elusive ingredient we’re all hoping to find….

It’s the opportunity Elena Alvarez has been waiting for–the challenge of running her own kitchen in a world-class restaurant. Haunted by an accident of which she was the lone survivor, Elena knows better than anyone how to survive the odds. With her faithful dog, Alvin, and her grandmother’s recipes, Elena arrives in Colorado to find a restaurant in as desperate need of a fresh start as she is–and a man whose passionate approach to food and life rivals her own.

Owner Julian Liswood is a name many people know but a man few do. He’s come to Aspen with a troubled teenage daughter and a dream of the kind of stability and love only a family can provide. But for Elena, old ghosts don’t die quietly, yet a chance to find happiness at last is worth the risk.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

eBook Discounts for January 14, 2009

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A new year and evidently it is time to get things in order -- spirituality, physically and financially. And then if it gets to be to serious you can escape to romance or straight-up fantasy.

To get your discount use coupon code B2J8G at checkout

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Broken Open eBook edition
by Lesser, Elizabeth
During times of transition, amid everyday stress, and even when we face seemingly insurmountable adversity, life offers us a choice: to turn away from change or to embrace it; to shut down or to be broken open and transformed. . . In this beautifully written, often funny, and always inspiring book, Lesser has gathered together true stories about ordinary people who by design or disaster decided to step boldly into a fuller life.
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List Price : $14.00
Your price $11.97 (Using your 10% discount and $ .63 points in eBook Reward points)
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Fire and Ice eBook Edition
by: Garwood, Julie
Julie Garwood returns to contemporary romantic suspense with this wonderfully sexy, exhilarating blockbuster. Filled with sizzling passion and breathless adventure, Fire and Ice features a feisty heroine whom Garwood’s devoted readers already know and love from her hugely popular novel Murder List.
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List Price : $26.00
Your price $20.01 (Using your 10% discount and $1.05 in eBook Reward points)
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Never Say Diet eBook edition
by Hobbs, Chantel
Chantel Hobbs lost two hundred pounds without the help of surgery, pills, point systems, or a trendy diet. And just as important, she kept the weight off. . . Her dramatic turnaround began with five decisions–personal, no-excuses commitments that kept her from losing sight of her goals. It worked for Chantel and it will work for you.
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List Price : $l13.99
Your price $10.76 (Using your 10% discount and $ .57 in eBook Reward points)
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Fire Study eBook edition
by: Snyder, Maria V.
When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder--able to capture and release souls--spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena's unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena's fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before....
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List Price : $12.55
Your price $10.73 (Using your 10% discount and $ .56 in eBook Reward points)
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Pring on Price Patterns (Adobe Reader) eBook edition
by Pring, Martin J.
The use of price patterns is changing theface of technical analysis and trading. InMartin Pring on Price Patterns, today’sunquestioned technical trading mastercovers all key aspects of technical analysisas they apply to price patterns, in text andexamples that are clear, convincing, andeasy to understand.
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List Price : $55.00
Your price $47.03 (Using your 10% discount and $2.48 in eBook Reward points)

Our guarantee: If you have bought one of these titles from eBooks About in the last 15 days -- we will gladly offer you a rebate on the book; just contact us

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Revolutionary Road -- The Movie Version

It is a rare thing when the movie and the book actually resemble each other.  Which, of course, make Revolutionary Road a rare movie adaptation.

It didn't hurt that I re-read the book just before seeing the movie.  In many ways it made it a richer experience.  I was free to enjoy the powerful performances.  And, having just read the book, I was able to compare the movie and the book for content and impact.


I know that sounds like a lot of work; but eventually I got so caught up in the performances that the reading experience hardly mattered anymore. I was riveted to my seat. 

My only criticism is that the "back story" of why Frank and April see themselves as special gets short shrift.  Although, I am not sure how it could have been added without lengthening and somehow diluting the story line.

This is an amazing piece of work; go see it! Tags:

Monday, January 12, 2009

eBooks on the Cell Phone/PDA (the 2009 version)

When I was younger I never went anywhere without a book.  Besides commuting there were two other basic reasons:

  • I was so enthralled with my book I could barely put it down
  • I never knew when I would get stuck somewhere and (Heaven forbid) I would have to just sit there. . . waiting

I am sure that some of my back problems as an adult come from years of lugging a heavy book in my shoulder bag.  But that is another story.

Life is different now!  Instead of a book, I carry my PDA with me (usually in a pocket). I am not exactly unique!  Walk down any city street, almost anywhere in the world, and you will see that almost everyone has a cell phone or PDA.  You see iPods, Blackberry''s, Pocket PCs, Palms and too many Smart Phones to name.

Closeup of young men and women holding cellphoneThe other thing you see is people peering at their screen; reading. 

You might think they were actually reading a book, until you notice their fingers flying over the keys as they answer the text, twitter or IM. 

Seems that for those under 30 there is much more peering than talking going on.

I am not a big texter or twitterer (no patience with those little buttons) and I rarely do IM, so it would seem logical that I would be reading more books.  Right?  Well, not exactly. I find that books have a lot of competition these days!

Now when I have to wait I have so many choices!  Most of them infinitely more interruptible activities than reading.  So, I usually opt for something easier:  do a sudoku, talk on the phone, answer email, surf the net, watch TV or (even occasionally) text. Reading has become something I do when I know I have a long stretch of time ahead of me -- like on a train or a plane.

I never carry a book around with me anymore.  And I find that reading on a handheld device has subtly changed my reading habits in other ways as well:

  • I read faster and with better comprehension when the text is in smaller chunks.
  • I actually look up words I don't know or want clarification on because I can do it easily and immediately.
  • I am reading the classics again.  They are almost always free (
  • I buy books I would not have ever bought before because they are relatively cheap

Which makes me wonder about you. 

Has reading on a digital device changed your reading habits?  And if so, how? 

Friday, January 9, 2009

Revolutionary Road eBook edition

When I was in college, Revolutionary Road was one of those books that was considered de rigeur for anyone with intellectual pretensions.  Reading it gave you entrée into an exclusive club dedicated to disparaging the lives our parents lead.

Of course, I read it.

What I remembered was how dreary the book was.  These were dreary characters living in a dreary world.  The had boring, meaningless jobs and lives and were totally unlikable.  Reading it was like being smothered in a thick gray cloud.

So, you can imagine my surprise when the title popped us as a "must see" movie.  And now it is an Awards contender.  I will grudgingly admit that a DiCaprio/Winslett pairing is probably noteworthy, but Revolutionary Road??

Only one thing to do:  I bought and downloaded the book last week.  If nothing else, I wanted to see if my memory was failing.

Well, it turns out my memory was not exactly failing.  But it also turns out that there is a big difference between my young reading self and the adult I turned out to be which should probably be a relief.

What I failed to understand as a young person is the power of Yates' writing.  The vivid and stark simplicity of his narrative, the tight dialog and his quiet, relentless perceptiveness.  My biggest surprise was how humorous some of the dialog really is.  My younger self evidently totally missed that aspect of his writing.

Reading it this time, I actually found myself empathizing with these characters.  I know exactly what it is like to get caught up in a role, how subtly it all happens.  And how you wake up one day and wonder how you got here from there.   That particular theme is timeless -- not some relic of a 50s style American dream.  Surprisingly, the novel is as relevant to life today as it was when it was written.

Revolutionary Road got me to thinking about the subtle ways in which we differentiate ourselves from our circumstances.  The ways in which we hold ourselves above the reality of our daily lives.  And the tyranny of the belief that we are somehow special and different.

My adult self recommends this book for its narrative, dialog and social commentary.  In fact, I am going to got see it tomorrow and find out if Hollywood does it justice.

Here are the publisher notes:

In the hopeful 1950s, Frank and April Wheeler appear to be a model couple: bright, beautiful, talented, with two young children and a starter home in the suburbs. Perhaps they married too young and started a family too early. Maybe Frank's job is dull. And April never saw herself as a housewife. Yet they have always lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. But now that certainty is about to crumble.

With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves.


From the moment of its publication in 1961, Revolutionary Road was hailed as a masterpiece of realistic fiction and as the most evocative portrayal of the opulent desolation of the American suburbs. .

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

eBook Discounts for January 7, 2009

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I didn't plan it, but it truly amuses me that we start the new year with rules for men and women. In between we have rules for the anyone who wants love. . . Fiction is all about marraige (but is that love?) and just to round it all out--a murder mystery.

Enjoy any or all of these discounted titles when you use coupon code A9JG4 at checkout. And have a Happy New Year!

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The Bro Code eBook edition
by Stinson, Barney
Everyone's life is governed by an internal code of conduct. Some call it morality. Others call it religion. But Bros in the know call this holy grail the Bro Code. Historically a spoken tradition passed from one generation to the next, the official code of conduct for Bros appears here in its published form for the first time ever
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List Price : $11.99
Your price $9.23 (Using your 10% discount and $ .49 points in eBook Reward points)
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Revolutionary Road eBook Edition
by Yates, Richard
From the moment of its publication in 1961, Revolutionary Road was hailed as a masterpiece of realistic fiction and as the most evocative portrayal of the opulent desolation of the American suburbs. It's the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, beautiful, and talented couple who have lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner.
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List Price : $14.95
Your price $12.78 (Using your 10% discount and $ .67 iin eBook Reward points)
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How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You eBook edition
by Lowndes, Leil
Here, from bestselling author Leil Lowndes, is a surefire guide to love for anyone seeking romantic bliss. In How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You readers will find 85 techniques based on scientific studies regarding the nature of love . . .By using these pragmatic, down-to-earth strategies, anyone can turn new or casual relationships into lasting ones--or make current relationships deeper.
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List Price : $14.95
Your price $12.78 (Using your 10% discount and $.67 in eBook Reward points)
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Scarpetta eBook edition
by Cornwell, Patricia
Kay Scarpetta accepts an assignment in New York City, where the NYPD has asked her to examine an injured man on Bellevue Hospital¿s psychiatric prison ward. The handcuffed and chained patient, Oscar Bane, has specifically asked for her, and when she literally has her gloved hands on him, he begins to talk and the story he has to tell turns out to be one of the most bizarre she has ever heard. . .
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List Price : $27.95
Your price $21.51 (Using your 10% discount and $1.13 in eBook Reward points)
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All the Rules: Time-tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right eBook edition
by Fein, Ellen
The two bestselling phenomenons now together in one timeless, definitive edition. In their #1 New York Times bestseller, The Rules, Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider shared their time-tested techniques for finding the man of your dreams. Controversial and effective, these 35 rules changed millions of women's lives all over the world. In their sensational sequel, The Rules II, the authors showed readers how they could follow The Rules in even the most difficult situations.
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List Price : $9.99
Your price $7.69 (Using your 10% discount and $ .40 in eBook Reward points)

Our guarantee: If you have bought one of these titles from eBooks About in the last 15 days -- we will gladly offer you a rebate on the book; just contact us

eBooks and Screen Technologies

So a lot of power is wasted in displaying the images on our current cell phone screen. That makes building batteries that are compact enough and light enough but still powerful enough difficult. Now the technical whizzes who brought those tiny phones down to a size where you can lose them in a purse are fixing that problem. The eInk display and other power sipping device types are appearing in full color glory in prototypes today.

The article in the NY Times technology section today is only one source of this news. We are reading more and more about the power saving capabilities of various new technologies. This may actually be the year when some of these ideas turn into real phones. Reflecting light from outside sources selectively is the basis of some of these technical marvels. That makes the display brighter in sunlight than it is in a shady spot nearby.

The display design by Qualcomm based on MEMS technology is particularly interesting because it uses tiny mirrors that selectively reflect red, green or blue light. The amount of power used by this screen can be as low as one mw (milliwatt) versus over 200 mw in your current scriStock_000002038586XSmalleen. This type of screen is not backlit and thus will need a frontal light source if you are addicted to using it in the dark.

A higher energy use backlit screen but one that is still substantially lower than current technology uses LED lighting and tiny shutters to display images. This version of the future uses around 50 mw to supply a bright color display but is not as useable in daylight as the lower power choices. All of this technology is aimed at solving the recharge problem that plagues any serious cell phone user.

I’m still anxiously awaiting the new technology that allows me to read on a five by seven inch display for up to fifty hours without recharging my phone once. Of course it will still have to fit in my pocket so it should fold up or roll up when I am not using it. Ideally we ought to be able to build these displays so that they can generate power for recharging the whole device from ambient light like a calculator so we never have to plug the damn thing in at all.

Posing nearly impossible problems for engineers to solve is more fun than adapting to their latest and greatest idea in the form that it finally reaches the market. eInk is still slow and not available in full color. MEMS technology is still in the future. Flexible displays are still largely fantasy but reaching the realm of the possible quickly. I expect my ideal display will appear by the end of this decade if not sooner.

Electromechanical marvels like 300,000 tiny shutters on a small display do amaze me a bit. But then I think about all of those huge old monitors that are on the scrap heap today. We are living in a totally flat panel world now, and that happened in less than ten years. The pace is constantly accelerating and new technologies are competing for our interest daily. EBook dedicated readers will not survive long in this world.

That they appeared at all is a statement about how inefficient markets can be when they move this fast. Of course the truth is the gadget happy among us are driving this rate of change faster and faster. At what point can this all slow down enough to make it possible for me to learn how to use all of the features in my new phone before it is obsolete? Maybe that is just not important after all but it would be nice wouldn’t it?

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Sad Tale of Shrinking CD Sales: Will Books be Next?

There was a sad little tale in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about the decline in music CD sales. Seems that sales declined for the seventh time in the last eight years. Even more devastating was the fact that sales declined a full 20% over the last year.decline graph

The Journal states that the industry has ben decimated by illicit online downloading.

Wait a minute!  I haven't bought a CD in several years but I have legal access to each and every song that I have downloaded in those years. 

It is hard to fathom the stupidity inherent in that statement.  I guess the writer doesn't get out much.  If he did, he would see that there are a whole lot of places that allow you to buy the song of your choice for 99 cents. Perfectly legal and legit -- not illicit in any regard.

I don't know about you but I doubt I will ever buy a packaged CD again.  I mean why?  I have a legal Napster account that lets me listen to (and carry around) almost anything I want for one low monthly subscription fee.  And if I want to burn it on a CD and make my own mix I can buy the song for 99 cents.

Besides, everyone knows, that on every CD there are two or three songs you love, several you tolerate and if you you are really lucky only one or two you hate. 

Back in the good old days, when music came on records, it was too much hassle to get up and risk scratching the vinyl to skip one of those songs you hated.  You just suffered through it. 

Tapes were a little better, but still a hassle.  You could at least fast forward.  And then came CD players and even better CD players with remote control.  Once little press of the button and the song was skipped forever.  You still had to pay for, but at least you didn't have to listen to it.

That was the thing that finally convinced me to replace many of my tapes with CDs.  Mind you, I had replaced records with cassettes -- very costly and was really hesitant to do it all over again with CD.

And finally MP3 downloads.  I actually adopted this technology pretty quickly once I figured out I could subscribe to a service, carry one tiny little device to the gym and hear hundreds of my favorite songs. 

Does it get much better than this?  I can listen to almost anything for my monthly fee and decide what I like. Then I can decide what tracks I like well enough to want on a CD and I can burn them at will. Mostly there aren't many.

Most of the songs I buy and burn to CD are presents for people I love.  People like my friend Laurie who is a technophobe or my mother and her sisters. 

So what does all this have to do with eBooks? 

Well, publishers (and some authors) have a huge level of paranoia about piracy.  All of the hassle with DRM (90% of our support issues are because of DRM issues) are a direct result of this particular paranoia.  I am sure that many of them read the article and saw it as vindication for their position. 

Unfortunately, this particular vindication is patently absurd.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Lady Luck's Map of Vegas eBook edition by Samuel, Barbara

Barbara Samuel is an insightful and graceful author and  Lady Luck's Map of Vegas is an incredible story about love, loss, fear and a road trip.

This is not really a romance so much as it is a quiet family drama that starts slowly and grabs you by the throat.  The first few chapters are choppy as the narrative jumps between India and Eldora.  The styles are very different and the first couple of transitions are jarring.  But as the story builds, the transitions work to move you through the plot.

This novel explores family secrets and how they effect future generations.  What happens when a parent specifically obscures their past?  How important are genetics? What are the ramifications of choices made and roads not taken?  How do you live with the results of the choices made -- especially when they don't necessarily turn out well? 

I suppose I am going to overuse my allotment of cliches about families here, but somehow for this book they seem right.  So here goes:  Love is messy, complex and scary; nothing in life is certain;  relationships and families involve an incredible risk and much forgiveness. 

The synopsis below gives you the story line, but doesn't convey the emotional punch this book delivers. All I can say is grab your Kleenex and settle down to enjoy an incredible road trip.

And as side note (if you aren't up for the story)the book is worth reading just as a guidebook to New Mexico.  Samuel beautifully captures the landscape and the wildness of the west. 

Oh yeah, one more thing, look for Samuel's new book --The Lost Recipe for Happiness which is due out next week.

Here is the publisher synopsis:

A successful Web designer, forty-year-old India has a fabulously hip life in Denver and a sexy Irish lover in New York who jets out to see her on bi-weekly visits. The long-distance romance suits India just fine: Though Jack is the only man who has ever made India feel truly alive, she doesn’t want things to get too serious. But then her father passes away, and India must honor the promise she made to him: to look after her mother when he’s gone.

Suddenly India finds herself back in Colorado Springs with the woman who both intrigues and infuriates her. Eldora is sixty something and exquisitely gorgeous, but her larger-than-life personality can suck the air out of a room. True to form, Eldora throws India a curveball, insisting that they hit the road to look for India’s twin, Gypsy, a brilliant artist who lives a vagabond’s existence in the remote mountain towns of New Mexico. It looks like India can’t avoid her mother’s intensity any longer, especially after she discovers stunning secrets from Eldora’s past.

Thirty years ago, Eldora regaled her twin girls with glamorous stories about her days as a Las Vegas showgirl– stories of martinis and music at the Sahara, back when Frank and Sammy ruled the town. But the story of how she really ended up in Sin City, and the unsavory life she’d run from with her daughters in tow, is full of details she’s never seen fit to share–until now.
As mother and daughter sail down Route 66, the very road Eldora drove those many years ago, looking for Gypsy, while passing motels, diners, and souvenir shops, Eldora must relive a lifetime of memories that have tormented her before she can put them to rest once and for all. . . .

Award-winning author Barbara Samuel brings us a heartfelt story of second chances and unexpected detours. As two women come to terms with themselves and each other, the past unravels and the future spreads out before them like the open road.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year


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