Archive for the ‘eBooks’ Category

Why Tablets Need a Stylus Option

February 20, 2012

After reading a number of posts reviewing the Samsung Galaxy Note such as this one on Droid Life and one from Cnet discussing whether anyone really wants or needs a stylus, I decided to chime in from the standpoint of a student and a future lawyer. First, some background, I live firmly in both the Android and iOS worlds, by having an iPad 2 for a tablet and a Droid X2 for a phone, so this post is going to be platform agnostic. I have been using apps such as Kno (itunes link) and Westlaw Next (itunes link) as well as Apples own iBooks to read cases and PDF files for class and the various clerking/internships I have had.  I think people are under the mistaken impression that the primary function of the stylus is for taking handwritten notes, as opposed to entering text with a keyboard (be it soft or mechanical).  Although, having that option is nice, and is especially useful for capturing signatures, it is not the primary reason I want a stylus to be fully supported by a tablet. The pen has survived because it is a great tool for marking on paper. And that is how I want to use a stylus, marking up existing content be it text or pictures and annotating, as opposed to a means of navigating around the tablet OS or writing long documents by hand.

I need to be able highlight relevant sections of legal cases (ideally with multiple colors to choose from) and add notes in the margins.  For school I often want to make simple annotations, such as a TC or AC next to the holding of the Trial or Appellate Court to distinguish it from the higher court rulings.  I might want to make a section as the Rule of the case, or use a different colors for dicta and the holding.  I find highlighting text using my fingers somewhat difficult in all of these apps.  Yes, it can be done, but if there is a link in or near the text I am highlighting, I often find it “activated” taking me out of the case and to the linked material.  Then, when I go back I am not at the same location in the case, but have to start again from the “top”.  Additionally, because fingers are relatively large blunt instruments compared to the size of the text, it can be difficult to accurately touch the screen to select the exact words I want.  I am becoming more adept in each of the applications at using the tools provided to adjust the highlighted area to be accurate, but it is not a frustration free experience.

Ideally, by using a stylus, the tablet would know I am highlighting or writing and would not activate or select a link. It would distinguish between the navigation being accomplished by fingers and the more precise and specific input from the stylus. It would enable me to readily change colors and annotate the material I am reading with a few words (optionally converted to text, but not that is not a necessity).  I think that would be a more fluid experience than what is currently provided today.  I agree that if I am going to take pages of notes, a keyboard (for me a mechanical one) provides an optimal method to do it. I will leave the comparison of note taking apps for another day, but for now I want to say, “Give me a stylus!”  I am hoping that is Apples “one more thing” for the iPad 3, and it would work well with there interactive iBooks initiative. Further, Apple adding a stylus would make it “cool” as opposed to the throwback to the days of the Palm Pilot that some reviews see it as.

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Kindle eBooks outsell paperbacks and hardbacks combined

May 20, 2011

Amazon.com customers are now purchasing more books for the Kindle than print books — including hardcover and paperback — combined. Since April 1st,  for every 100 print books that were sold on Amazon.com, the Amazon sold 105 Kindle eBooks. “Customers are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books,” Amazon’s CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos said. “We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happy this quickly — we’ve been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years.”

Amazon.com Now Selling More Kindle Books Than Print Books

SEATTLE, May 19, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) –

(NASDAQ:AMZN)–Amazon began selling hardcover and paperback books in July 1995. Twelve years later in November 2007, Amazon introduced the revolutionary Kindle and began selling Kindle books. By July 2010, Kindle book sales had surpassed hardcover book sales, and six months later, Kindle books overtook paperback books to become the most popular format on Amazon.com. Today, less than four years after introducing Kindle books, Amazon.com customers are now purchasing more Kindle books than all print books – hardcover and paperback – combined.

“Customers are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books. We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly – we’ve been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon.com. “In addition, we’re excited by the response to Kindle with Special Offers for only $114, which has quickly become the bestselling member of the Kindle family. We continue to receive positive comments from customers on the low $114 price and the money-saving special offers. We’re grateful to our customers for continuing to make Kindle the bestselling e-reader in the world and the Kindle Store the most popular e-bookstore in the world.”

Recent milestones for Kindle include:

Since April 1, for every 100 print books Amazon.com has sold, it has sold 105 Kindle books. This includes sales of hardcover and paperback books by Amazon where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle books are excluded and if included would make the number even higher.
So far in 2011, the tremendous growth of Kindle book sales, combined with the continued growth in Amazon’s print book sales, have resulted in the fastest year-over-year growth rate for Amazon’s U.S. books business, in both units and dollars, in over 10 years. This includes books in all formats, print and digital. Free books are excluded in the calculation of growth rates.
In the five weeks since its introduction, Kindle with Special Offers for only $114 is already the bestselling member of the Kindle family in the U.S.
Amazon sold more than 3x as many Kindle books so far in 2011 as it did during the same period in 2010.
Less than one year after introducing the UK Kindle Store, Amazon.co.uk is now selling more Kindle books than hardcover books, even as hardcover sales continue to grow. Since April 1, Amazon.co.uk customers are purchasing Kindle books over hardcover books at a rate of more than 2 to 1.
Kindle offers the largest selection of the most popular books people want to read. The U.S. Kindle Store now has more than 950,000 books, including New Releases and 109 of 111 New York Times Best Sellers. Over 790,000 of these books are $9.99 or less, including 69 New York Times Best Sellers. Millions of free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are also available to read on Kindle devices. More than 175,000 books have been added to the Kindle Store in just the last 5 months.

All Kindle Books let you “Buy Once, Read Everywhere” – on all generation Kindles, as well as on the largest number of devices and platforms, including iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, Mac, PC, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Android-based devices, and soon HP TouchPads and BlackBerry PlayBooks. Amazon’s Whispersync technology syncs your place across devices, so you can pick up where you left off. With Kindle Worry-Free Archive, books you purchase from the Kindle Store are automatically backed up online in your Kindle library on Amazon, where they can be re-downloaded wirelessly for free, anytime.

Kindle study

May 3, 2011

The information discussed here shows why I was so interested in the Kno, because the biggest part that seems to be lacking in tablets/eBooks is in the note taking department. I really think the stylus handwriting method of input is what is going to drive the next wave of tablet adoption.

Found on Crunchgear:

Researchers at the University of Washington have found that, while useful, Kindles (specifically that larger Kindles DX) aren’t all that popular with students – yet. Their issues, arguably, are UI problems including the need for a “skimmable” abstract of content and better note-taking systems. 

“Most e-readers were designed for leisure reading – think romance novels on the beach,” said co-author Charlotte Lee, a UW assistant professor of Human Centered Design and Engineering. “We found that reading is just a small part of what students are doing. And when we realize how dynamic and complicated a process this is, it kind of redefines what it means to design an e-reader.”

The study also reported some additional issues with reading on e-readers among them:

Students did most of the reading in fixed locations: 47 percent of reading was at home, 25 percent at school, 17 percent on a bus and 11 percent in a coffee shop or office.
The Kindle DX was more likely to replace students’ paper-based reading than their computer-based reading.
Of the students who continued to use the device, some read near a computer so they could look up references or do other tasks that were easier to do on a computer. Others tucked a sheet of paper into the case so they could write notes.
With paper, three quarters of students marked up texts as they read. This included highlighting key passages, underlining, drawing pictures and writing notes in margins.
A drawback of the Kindle DX was the difficulty of switching between reading techniques, such as skimming an article’s illustrations or references just before reading the complete text. Students frequently made such switches as they read course material.
The digital text also disrupted a technique called cognitive mapping, in which readers used physical cues such as the location on the page and the position in the book to go back and find a section of text or even to help retain and recall the information they had read.

E-book sales grow over 200% year-over-year, print books decline in every category

April 16, 2011

Textbook publishers are you listening?  Please get on the bandwagon before I am out of school.  That basically means you need to do it now.

From the Association of American Publishers Press Release:

E-Books Rank as #1 Format among All Trade Categories for the Month

April 14, 2011; New York, NY– Powerful continuing growth of books on digital platforms–both e-Books and Downloaded Audiobooks–are highlights of the February 2011 sales report of the Association of American Publishers, which is being released today.

The report, produced by the trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry, tracks monthly and year-to-date publishers’ net sales revenue in all categories of commercial, education, professional and scholarly books and journals.

According to the February results, once again e-Books have enjoyed triple-digit percentage growth, 202.3%, vs February 2010. Downloaded Audiobooks, which have also seen consistent monthly gains, increased 36.7% vs last February.

For February 2011, e-Books ranked as the #1 format among all categories of Trade publishing (Adult Hardcover, Adult Paperback, Adult Mass Market, Children’s/Young Adult Hardcover, Children’s/Young Adult Paperback).

This one-month surge is primarily attributed to a high level of strong post-holiday e-Book buying, or “loading,” by consumers who received e-Reader devices as gifts. Experts note that the expanded selection of e-Readers introduced for the holidays and the broader availability of titles are factors.

Additionally, Trade publishing houses cite e-Books as generating fresh consumer interest in–and new revenue streams for–“backlist” titles, books that have been in print for at least a year. Many publishers report that e-Book readers who enjoy a newly-released book will frequently buy an author’s full backlist.

For the year to date (January/February 2011 vs January/February 2010), which encompasses this heavy post-holiday buying period, e-Books grew 169.4% to $164.1M while the combined categories of print books fell 24.8% to $441.7M.*

According to Tom Allen, President and Chief Executive Officer of AAP, “The February results reflect two core facts: people love books and publishers actively serve readers wherever they are. The public is embracing the breadth and variety of reading choices available to them. They have made e-Books permanent additions to their lifestyle while maintaining interest in print format books.”

Allen added that book publishers have been leaders among content providers in identifying and serving new audiences. “Publishers have always strategically expanded into all the markets and formats where readers want to find books, whether it was Trade Paperback, Mass Market or now digital. By extending their work as developers, producers and marketers of high-quality content to emerging technologies, publishers are constantly redefining the timeless concept of ‘books.’”

Other highlights in the February 2011 report (all February 2011 vs February 2010 unless otherwise noted):

Digital categories:
E-Book sales were $90.3 Million, growing 202.3% vs February 2010. Downloaded Audiobooks were $6.9M, an increase of 36.7%.

Trade categories:
Adult Trade categories combined (Hardcover, Paperback and Mass Market) were $156.8M, down 34.4%. Children’s/Young Adult categories combined (Hardcover and Paperback) were $58.5M, a decline of 16.1%

*Year-to-date 2011 vs YTD 2010: E-Books increased by 169.4% while all categories combined of print Trade books declined by 24.8%

Religious books:
February sales of $48.5M were an increase of 5.5%; this reflects growth as well in the category for year-to-date, up 6.1% to $93.9M.

Education categories:
Higher Education sales for YTD (January and February 2011) were $406.9M, down slightly by 5.6% vs YTD 2010. In K-12, YTD sales were $173M, declining 8.9% from 2010.

Professional/Scholarly categories:
Total sales for professional books and journals were $42.9M, a slight drop of 3.6% vs February 2010. Combined sales of University Press (hardcover and paperback) were $6.7M, falling 6% vs last year.

The AAP monthly and year-end sales report represents data provided by 84 U.S. publishing houses representing major commercial, education, professional, scholarly and independents. Data on e-Books comes from 16 houses. The report does not include all book and journal net sales but provides what’s acknowledged as the best industry snapshot currently available.

Intel Capital, Condé Nast Owner Invest $30 Million in Kno; Intel Licenses Student Tablet Hardware Design

April 8, 2011

According to the article linked below, Kno is out of the hardware business. I hope this is a positive thing, and allows Know to focus on the software and encourage the “heavy hitters’ in the tablet space to make tablets which support both, “finger based” and stylus input, which should expand the business practically of tablets.

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Intel Capital, Condé Nast Owner Invest $30 Million in Kno; Intel Licenses Student Tablet Hardware Design.

According to sources close to the situation, Intel Capital and Advance Publications will lead a $30 million investment round in Kno, the high-profile student tablet start-up.

In addition to the funding from its venture capital arm, Intel itself will license the hardware design of Kno, which will now focus on its software to manage the devices that are aimed at the college market.

Intel will not manufacture tablets, but take its hardware blueprints and share it with their OEM partners.

Kno is now officially out of the hardware business.

Pen-based Apps? HTC’s Scribe Technology Will Open to Third-Party Development

March 27, 2011

From Phandroid

Even if the HTC Flyer comes off as a bit last-generation compared to the current rank of tablet heavyweights, it does offer one feature that few others have: a stylus used not for basic interaction and navigation, but rather for taking notes, doodling, and procuring and annotating screen grabs.

HTC plans to open up their Scribe technology to third party developers, enabling them to see uses they have for the pressure sensitive stylus that comes packaged with the Flyer.

I have been advocating for this type kind of tablet/stylus for use with eBooks, particularly textbooks and for use to mark up exhibits or depositions for use at trial.  I hope it catches on and we see its use expand. The beauty is that you do not need the stylus to use the tablet, it is not required for navigation or apps at all. It only comes into play when you want to take advantage of its ability to act as a pen for highlighting or writing.  It is that choice that may make the Flyer stand out.

I also think it is unfortunately that manufacturers are continuing to focus on gaming and movie watching  as opposed to more business functionality.  I think that is holding back the tablet market.

eBook Sales increase 115% in January over last year’s numbers

March 20, 2011

E-books and downloadable audio books continue to grow in popularity according to the January 2011 sales report of the Association of American Publishers.

Figures for the first month of the new year show that E-book net sales increased by 115.8% vs January 2010 (from $32.4 Million to $69.9M).  E-book sales have increased annually and significantly in all nine years of tracking the category.

Among the other highlights of the January 2011 report:

  • Total books sales on all platforms, in all categories, hit $805.7 Million for January. This was a slight drop from January 2010’s $821.5M sales (-1.9%).
  • Adult Hardcover category fell from $55.4M to $49.1M (-11.3%), Adult Paperback dropped from $104.2M to $83.6 (-19.7%) and Adult Mass Market declined from $56.4M to $39.0 (-30.9%)
  • In the Children’s/Young Adult category, Hardcover sales were $31.2M in January 2011 vs $31.8M in January 2010 (-1.9%) while Paperbacks were $25.4M, down 17.7% from $30.9M in January 2010.
  • Sales in the Higher Education category were $382.0M for January 2011, a slight drop (-1.4%) from $387.6M the previous year. K-12 sales hit $82.6M for the month vs $97.0M for the previous year (-14.9%).
  • In Professional and Scholarly Books, sales grew 1.3%, from $51.2M to $51.8M. Sales of University Press Hardcovers were $3.9M in January 2011 vs $4.5M the previous year (-14.0%) while University Press Paperbacks were $6.2M vs $6.7M (-7.8%).

All figures cited represent domestic net sales for U.S. book publishers.

So outside of the education markets, which have been lagging behind the rest of the industry in moving to eBooks, readers are continuing to move away from paper to electronic books.  This shows the continuing need for students and educators alike to request that textbooks be made available electronic and to continue to encourage the tablet manufacturers along with Apple and Google to focus on this space.

Kno maybe selling tablet hardware business, focusing on software instead

February 21, 2011

From all things Digital: Kno Student Tablet Start-Up in Talks to Sell Off Tablet Part of Its Business

Kno–the much-funded and high-profile Silicon Valley start-up aimed at making tablet computers focused at students–is considering selling off the entire hardware part of the business and is in talks with two major consumer electronics manufacturers to do so, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources said Kno execs have recently decided that the quicker-than-expected uptake in tablet production by a multitude of powerful device makers had made its efforts to package a seamless offering less critical.

Instead, the company will focus on its robust software and services to offer students on the Apple iPad, as well as upcoming tablets based on Google’s Android mobile operating system and others.

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Leaving aside the effect this has had on those who had preordered tablets from Kno (here’s hoping the company finds a way to make it up to them) I think this is great move for Kno and one I had personally recommend to them through their advisory panel. I think working with a major manufacturer to keep the hardware costs low and including a digitizer that enables both finger and stylus input is the wave of the future. I am picturing Kno being an application running on top of Android or iOS  and enabling this functionality.  You could use Kno to then read and annotate a PDF file or case and then print it with markups/highlighting to use at trial.

The company is apparently still in a quiet period and has announced intentions to inform interested parties of their plans on April 14, 2011.   Though it is disappointing that the last update on their Press/News Page is from January 25th, 2011 touting their student ambassador program.

 

Kno Shipping update

February 17, 2011

Ironically, the same day I post an update talking about the Kno, the company has started calling customers who had preordered and letting them it would be approximately 60 days until the tablets shipped and not all pre-order would be filled. Kno’s facebook page also indicates that the company has laid personnel and is going through some significant changes.  Some of the posts are speculating that Kno maybe reconsidering its future as a hardware company and perhaps moving to a software only model.  As my previous post, mentioned the HTC Flyer supports a stylus and handwriting.  Further rumors are swirling that Google is building handwriting support in future releases of honeycomb (their tablet focused version of the Android OS).  In my mind, handwriting recognition and support is the differentiator that will drive tablets into the education space.

Stay tuned for future updates.

HTC Flyer vs. the Kno vs. the Xoom

February 16, 2011

Well HTC has just shown off their new table the HTC Flyer.  I am intrigued because they have heavily featured its ability to use a stylus.  As my posts about the Kno have said, I really think stylus will be a game changer for attorney’s and students. The ability to highlight (specifically listed for the Flyer, and it will automatically collate your highlights) and write directly on eBooks or documents may give HTC an edge. The 7″ form factor has not proven itself a success for the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which is now going to come in a 10″ model as well, so we will see if that holds back the Flyer.  There is also the possibility HTC will incorporate the same features into a 10″ model to compete with the Motorola Xoom.

Exciting times for Android and hopefully attorneys are ahead.  I will watching eagerly to see this technology make its way into the classroom and the court room.

As far as the Kno goes as of today, no updates have been released on their shipping delay.


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