BOOKISHNESS: What Makes a Book a Book?

April 22, 2013

In our madcap rush to digitize the book we’ve been all too willing to attempt both to replicate the physical book experience in the digital realm and to just as quickly discard any feature of physical books that proved too challenging to emulate online. (more…)

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The Kindle Changed Oprah’s Life

October 26, 2008

According to an entry on Oprah Winfrey’s blog, called “Oprah’s Favorite New Gadget,” “This summer, Oprah received a gift that she says changed her life. ‘It’s absolutely my new favorite favorite thing in the world,’ she says.” 20081024_tows_kindle1_350x263.jpgIt’s nearly November and she hasn’t found another favorite favorite thing in the world? I guess she already has the Oral-B Pulsonic Sonic Toothbrush.pulsonic_ip.jpg

The blog gushingly continues, “Although the Amazon Kindle costs $359, Oprah looks at it as an environmentally friendly investment. ‘I know it’s expensive in these times [Ed: not for Oprah; hers was free], but it’s not frivolous because it will pay for itself,” she says. ‘The books are much cheaper, and you’re saving paper.’ [Ed: although by purchasing a device with a far nastier non-biodegradable high carbon footprint than paper] New York Times Bestsellers and New Releases are $9.99 or less, unless otherwise marked.

“As a special offer for Oprah Show viewers, Amazon.com is giving $50 off the price of Kindle. Enter the promotional code OPRAHWINFREY during the checkout process at Amazon.com to receive the discount. This offer is valid through November 1, 2008. [Ed: A generous 8 days.]

It’s a four-page blog entry, and I’m starting to feel vomitous quoting from it, but I’ll stave off the bildge for another moment with this quote: “Oprah says she will talk about her Kindle with anyone who’s willing to listen. ‘Anyone who knows me knows I’m really not a gadget person at all, but I have fallen in love with this little baby [emphasis mine],’ she says. ‘If you’re like me and a little computer challenged, do not be afraid of the Kindle–do not be afraid [emphasis mine]–because you don’t even have to have a computer for it to work. That’s the brilliant thing about it.'” Yes, quite brilliant. Unless you already have a computer.

The conclusion: “‘You can tell a lot about a person by what’s on their [Kindle] homepage,’ Oprah says.” Included on her homepage are “Crack the Fat-Loss Code: Outsmart Your Metabolism and

Conquer the Diet Plateau” by Wendy Chant. There are certain things that don’t change.

An article by Antone Gonsalves in Information Week notes: “Winfrey’s endorsement of the Kindle could lead to more than just a sales boost. It could go a long way toward moving the Kindle to the mainstream from a niche market.” How depressing. Another chapter in the future of publishing has just been written. Loggers will be picketing her show, and getting into fistfights with workers from the semiconductor industry and the employees of E Ink.

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Esquire Magazine Takes a Stab at the Future of Publishing

July 23, 2008

A glowing article in last Monday’s New York Times alerted readers that Esquire magazine, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, has figured out a trick to gain admittance to the future of publishing party.

The cover of its September issue, or rather the cover of the newsstand version of the September issue, will be “printed” with E-ink technology. It’s not 100% clear exactly what kind of razzle-dazzle Esquire will be providing newsstand browsers as a result. It could be fun…we’ll soon enough see. Esquire went to some considerable pains to make this technology leap. The article provides the details, including “first Esquire had to make a six-figure investment to hire an engineer in China to develop a battery small enough to be inserted in the magazine cover. The batteries and the display case are manufactured and put together in China. They are shipped to Texas and on to Mexico, where the device is inserted by hand into each magazine. The issues will then be shipped via trucks, which will be refrigerated to preserve the batteries, to the magazine’s distributor in Glazer, Ky.” The article notes that unfortunately the battery will lose power in 90 days, although any unsold copies will no doubt be in the recycling machines by then. It may however be a disappointment to the folks who are hoping for an eBay bonanza as a collector’s item.

The blogosphere has been underwhelmed by the announcement. Brian Lam at Gizmodo comments “This is really slick in some ways—as far as attention goes—but the bigger thing it shows is the terrible lack of understanding that most magazine editors have in dealing with the digital future of their publications.” Later in his piece he even uses the “f” word!

In the comments section of Paul Constant’s brief entry on SLOG, we’re treated to Fnarf’s snarky comment: “When you open it, will it play a tinkly electronic version of a popular Christmas carol, like those godawful greeting cards that came out 20+ years ago?” Jubilation T. Cornball chimes in with a quote from the article in the NYT and then adds a comment: “‘I fully expect that in 25 to 30 years, this cover will be in a museum,'” is noted in the original article.

Mr. Cornball adds: “I fully expect ALL magazines will be in a museum by then.”

Oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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