Is a Tablet in Your Favorite E-Reader’s Future?


E-book consumers are increasingly shifting to tablets from dedicated e-readers as their first choice for reading e-books, according to the Book Industry Study Group’s Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading Survey, powered by Bowker.

In August,

  1. 17% of e-book consumers cited Amazon Fire as their first choice for reading e-books (up from 0% last August),
  2. 7% cited B&N’s Nook (up from from 2% the previous August).
  3. 10% Apple’s iPad (a number which has remained constant).

Tablets are now the first choice for about a third of the e-reading public. Simultaneously, dedicated e-reading devices have slid in popularity in direct proportion to the growth of tablets. No surprise there.

Of frequent e-readers–people who purchase e-books at least weekly– 38% indicated that tablets were their primary e-reading device, compared to 19% a year earlier. Reading by frequent e-readers on dedicated e-reading devices meanwhile slipped to less than half from more than two-thirds a year earlier.

UPSHOT: Those who like to use technology for reading, like that reading technology to be a part of a more versatile technology they are able to use in other ways. So does that mean you should buy your reader a tablet? Read on.

According to an online poll of e-book readers conducted in June and July and sponsored by OverDrive with the American Library Association’s Office for Information Technology Policy . . . .

Devices on which e-books borrowed by patrons of libraries were read included

  • 84% dedicated readers;
  • 20% desktop or laptop PCs;
  • 19% smartphones;
  • 18% tablets.

People who borrow ebooks from libraries tend overwhelmingly to own a dedicated eReader, however, they might equally used other technology to read that ebook! See, people who like eReading like versatility. Moving on . . .

  1. 57% of respondents said that the public library is their primary source of book discovery.
  2. 44% said their e-book purchases have increased in the past six months.
  3. And 35% purchased a book (print or e-book) after borrowing a copy of it.

Also, on average, library e-book patrons buy 3.2 books (both print and digital) a month.

UPSHOT: Readers are a highly individual bunch. Just write off eReaders and Tablets as gifts. Stick with bookstore gift cards so your beloved reader can buy the type of book they want and read it the way they want.

Published in: on November 19, 2012 at 1:19 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Before You Buy That E-Reader As A Holiday Gift . . .

Here’s the skinny– Over One Third of All eReaders Are Used Just Once Before Being Set Aside and Kindles topped the survey list of unused devices!

A recent poll showed that a third of US ereader owners said they only used their device once before putting it away or selling it.  (A survey conducted in the UK yielded an even more anti-eReader message: nearly half given as Christmas gifts had yet to be opened a month later.)

A group of almost 2,ooo ereader owners, when questioned about average usage

  • 17% used their ereader at least once a week.
  • 29% use it once a day.
  • 35% indicated that they used the device just once — ever.

The survey went on to ask why those owners who only used the ereader once, did so.

  • 57% stated they didn’t have the time to use it; they are too busy.
  •  22% said that they’d received it as a gift and didn’t have a need for it.
  • 25% simply preferred to read actual physical books.

The survey data went on to show that 37% of the regretful ereader owners did not think it was a good buy, and another 29% planned to get rid of their ereader because they used it so rarely.

Upshot?

  1. Only buy an ereader for yourself. It’s a waste of money buying it for someone else. It won’t be used, it won’t be appreciated.
  2. If you plan to buy an ereader for yourself, buy it after Christmas when unhappy owners are unloading them.
  3. If you plan to buy a gift for a reader, the best gift is still a real physical book or a gift card to a bookstore!

(This post was based on an article by Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader that ran Nov 11, 2012. We encourage every would-be gifter to read it!)

Published in: on November 15, 2012 at 1:53 AM  Leave a Comment  
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The Roofs of Tibet

We’ve been reading a lot of ePub-related posts lately. In doing so, we stumbled onto a video by author and designer Craig Mod, which was posted on I Love Typography (one of our fav sites).

We highly recommend everyone interested in ebook and the future of books to take a look. It’s worth the 40 minutes.  But we will tell you up front, it’s a story without an end.

Much as we loved the lecture, we kept coming back to the opening. We wanted to know what happened on the roof in Tibet as a result that might not have happened if the protagonists had been holding ebooks.

Also, we want to put forward our little thought for the future — that someday eReaders will be ultra thin and come with flexible video displays (such as the OLED shown below by Sony — so it’s on them to make this thing work) wrapped to them.

With an OLED wrapped onto an eReader we could display the cover of the book being read (as an option — obviously if the reader didn’t want it displayed, it could be turned off). If this were accomplished, a reader could hold a book in his/her hand that would be paper thin and yet show the cover on the back in a reasonable size.

If the OLED flexible video display could be wrapped onto reader or tablet made with a thin plastic cover protector hinged to it to keep it on the front or fold completely to the back (so in essence it could open like a book), the reader could then have an actual front and back cover, that could still be all books with all covers all the time.

In essence, the reader would be holding a book, that was every book in the world, able to displaying a new cover each time they chose a new book, and therefore retain that shared experience of “You’re reading that too?”

Anyway, that’s our vision. Maybe Craig and Sony can give us a call to discuss it further?

Free Book Fridays, with the Nook

Some of you are trying to create an ePub out of your current manuscript. We get that.  If you want to look at how ePubs look through a Nook, you can actually download software to multiple devices, including your PC or Mac, and view the books there.

Barnes & Noble offers a Free Book Friday with Nook.  If you sign up for a Nook account, really just a way to buy books more than a device if you don’t have one, you can start creating a library of free ebooks and books they offer for free on Fridays.  The books will remain in your Nook library perpetually, stored in an archive, if you desire.

Should you buy a Nook, you can use those books in your library on the Nook. However, if you don’t, you can still read your Nook ePub materials on your computer, or other device,  by downloading Nook software — similar to Kindle. To create your account, you will have to give them a credit card, even if the only books you want to collect are free.

The virtue of starting a Nook account and library is that you can use your collection to see how an ePub book is structured. You might be surprised by what you see. Something you’d expect to find in the front of a printed book, such as copyright info, is today typically in the back of many Nook ePubs. Not sure if that shift is to keep readers from thinking about the IP law involved or just a convenient way of cutting down on the front matter.

Anyway, in case you were wondering, we were at Barnes & Noble looking at Nooks today. There are 3 versions, all very interesting with a lot of cool features.  But a major complaint would be no real selection of fonts, and no ability to upload fonts to the Nooks.  This is always disappointing to people who derived a great deal of pleasure from the typography.

The tablet Nook is the largest of the three, holds the most books, runs the longest without recharging, costs the most, orients both horizontally and vertically, which is helpful, and is able to display PDFs.  But it’s very heavy and the battery incredibly strong, by that we mean one can feel the electrical current. Quite scary really.

The tablet version becomes very prickly and hot if one holds it more than a minute. The other Nooks have the same problem, but to a lesser degree. Definitely, if we bought a Nook of any kind, it would have to come with a stand, because honestly no one wants to touch it for fear of getting burned, electrocuted, or developing an inability to use one’s hand because it continues to buzz with excited electric current long after the Nook is put down.

So, would we buy a Nook? Yes, if it were inexpensive enough, say under $100, but it would only be used for testing ePubs on. Nook is a good idea, it has huge potential, but it’s got a long way to go.  We will also say that compared to a Kindle, Nook seems like the better made, more user friendly product.  But if you’re going to the trouble of buying a Nook tablet, why not just buy an iPad?

Published in: on September 21, 2011 at 1:25 PM  Leave a Comment  
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PDFs as eBooks that won’t make eReaders weep

PDF Page set up    If you are going with PDF, you will need to reformat your book so that the pages are small.  The average eReader screen size is something you need to focus on.  If the display is 6″ wide, you cannot have your static PDF text running at a width of 6.5″ with additional white margins!

In the example we showed you Friday, the PDF was created on 8 x 11 pages, but the text box itself is only 4.75 inches wide and 8 inches long (including the header).  In other words, it was created to become a 6 x9 Trade paperback.

This is why, once you manipulate our PDF slightly in Adobe Digital Editions, it’s easy to read.  It’s just like reading the book version, because it is the book version.  And in fact, you and could read it, with friends at a book club, on readers or in hardcopy and be seeing the same thing with the same pages.

But to be honest, it could have been even better, ie easier for eReader users, if we’d simply made set the page set up for the PDF to custom, and set the text box on a page size that smaller to begin with, to match the size of the reader screen.

It’s something we’ll fix this time around simply because it’s easy to do, even in InDesign!

If you have your text set up on the custom paper size, and that size is smaller than a screen display (6″ wide), with it a tiny margin all around .25″ (it’s probably more like 50 pixels), then your resulting text boxes will fit into an eReader and display well without any manipulation once your text has been PDF’d.

In our case, we’d probably want to set the page size to w 5.25″ by h 7.75″  (A kindle DX display is 5 3/8 x 7 7/8). As it stands, our text box at 4.75″ w is fine, but it needs to be reduced to 7.25 in height.  This will create more pages in the final PDF, and a different numbering than the hardcopy edition, but a better eReader experience for anyone using a Kindle DX or iPad.

Remember, once it’s PDF’d there’s no going back, no one can manipulate it very much. So if the E-reader can’t present it in a readable fashion . . . your book won’t get read.

More on PDFs, tomorrow.

Text   This doesn’t mean you should change your text size (unless you’re using something like a 10pt).  Using a 12pt Times New Roman throughout is probably for the best (although some people prefer non-serif fonts).  Because it’s large enough that people of many visual abilities can read it.


If you love your font selections, that’s ok too. But you need to make sure they travel with the PDF (think embedded journalist, traveling with troops).  Most people don’t understand how to convert to a PDF with embedded fonts (that would be, PostScript the file first, then open the Acrobat Distiller then choose open and select the PS file, at which point it converts to a PDF with embedded fonts). If you do know this, great, do what you want.

With a PDF, it is what it is. Your readers get some of the experience of the physical book because you can duplicate the typography. Many eReaders change the font, or allow it to be changeable, but you can’t do that with a PDF on an eReader. It is, what it is.

You want to be sure that you have your PDF version set up to be either a) as useable as possible, or b) exactly as you want it in your book, but you’re ok with that because you’re using it more to send around as a “Galley” version / review copy of a print book that’s coming out soon.

Marketing   People with Nooks and Kindles  and iPads can read PDF version documents.  But, people have to hear about your book before they go to your website and download it.  Since you can’t market your PDF versions on B&N or Amazon or iBooks platforms without converting them to proprietary formats first,  . . . . .

Things your PDF eBook should have: TOC, bookmarked to chapters so people can navigate it quickly. A good cover which you can do yourself create cheaply with images from photostock places. Text boxes that will fit into the display window of  e-readers easily. Page numbers (because otherwise it’s hard to remember where you were or discuss the book with a friend).

Things you don’t really need: Headers. Headers, as you’d find in a traditional book, or even a PDF, with book/author name? Don’t need those.