This blog is dedicated to the topics of Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education. it is intended as an information source for the college store industry, or anyone interested in how course materials are changing. Suggestions for discussion topics or news stories are welcome.

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Upcoming e-readers and tablets

Here is an interesting article from The New York Times that features a listing of the tablets and e-readers that will complete against the Apple iPad when they hit the market later this year.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Apple iPad vs. Amazon Kindle

Since the Apple iPad was announced, there has been a lot of discussion about whether or not the iPad can put the Kindle out of business. Below is a listing with some of the links.

  • The Bits Blog has postings from each perspective. Here is a posting with three reasons why the iPad WILL kill the Amazon Kindle and here is one with three reasons why it WON'T.
  • CNET created a side-by-side comparison
  • TechCrunch lists 10 Reasons why the iPad will put the Kindle out of business
  • Forbes lists five reasons why it won’t
  • TechFlash argues both sides

What do you think?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Elsevier and Follett enhance e-book offerings

This week, both Elsevier and Follett announced changes to their digital textbook offerings. According to a press release from Elsevier, the company has launched an interactive digital learning platform called Pageburst. The new platform will feature e-textbooks that do not expire, integrated multimedia, text-to-speech, social networking tools, and an integrated instructor grade book. Students can also download an app for their iPhone/iPod Touch and potentially the iPad. Currently, 550 e-textbooks are available on Pageburst.

Follett has announced that it will begin offering a Try Now, Buy Later program for its CafeScribe eBook platform. Students and professors will be able to download the e-books for free for seven days before purchasing. According to the press release, this will give students a chance to try out the digital version and will assist students that are not able to obtain a print copy of a textbook at the beginning of the semester because it is temporarily out of stock.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Applet iPad tablet has arrived

Well, we all new it was coming. The Apple iPad tablet was announced yesterday and today there is an enormous amount of coverage from pretty much every news source and tech blog you can think of. The opinions about the device’s capabilities and potential for success vary widely. Donald Bell from CNET probably summed it up best when he said, “The Apple iPad is a bit of a misfit.” Bell went on to say, “Fortunately, I’m fond of misfits. More importantly, I’m a fan of disruptive technology – and for all the snickering, jaded, eye-rolling comments the iPad will get, it is going to change the way we think about mobile technology beyond the smartphone.”

As expected, the iPad is much like a larger version of an iPod Touch. The device has a 9.7 inch touchscreen and comes in three models 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB. Each of the models can be purchased as Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + 3G with service options from AT&T. Users will be able to watch TV shows and movies, read newspapers, play music, use the internet, send e-mails, use any app that is currently available in the App Store, as well as new apps that are being designed specifically for the iPad. But more importantly, users will be able to read e-books and textbooks on the device. During the event Steve Jobs commented, “Amazon has done a great job of pioneering this, but we’re going to stand on their shoulders and go a step further.” Jobs confirmed that five publishers (Penguin, Harper-Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette Book Group) have signed on to provide e-books that will be available through a new app called iBooks. Details about which textbooks will be offered and pricing were not provided at the event but it was noted that the books will be in ePub format and publishers can add videos to the books. An article from Wall Street Journal provides some information about the pricing for the trade e-books and notes that the Apple business model will provide publishers with more control over e-book pricing. The agreement could also help publishers negotiate with Amazon on future pricing.

The Wi-Fi version of the device is expected to begin shipping in 60 days and the 3G model will ship in 90 days so we can anticipate that more details about the e-book and e-textbook offerings will unfold as the ship date approaches. As noted above, this device has the potential to change the way we think about mobile technology and in addition it could change the way we think about textbooks. If interactive textbooks that enhance the learning experience are offered, the device could be a game changer for our industry.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

McGraw-Hill confirms Apple tablet

There is a ton of buzz this morning about the Apple event that will held in San Francisco later today. For weeks, many news sources have been reporting that the tablet will be announced at the event and yesterday Terry McGraw, CEO of McGraw-Hill, confirmed those reports. In an interview with CNBC McGraw commented, “Yeah, very exciting. Yes, they’ll make their announcement tomorrow on this one. We have worked with Apple for quite a while. And the Tablet is going to be based on the iPhone operating system and so it will be transferable. So what you are going to be able to do now is we have a consortium of e-books. And we have 95% of all our materials that are in e-book format on that one. So now with the tablet you’re going to open up the higher education market, the professional market. The tablet is going to be just really terrific.”

We look forward to finding out more this afternoon. The event begins at 1 p.m. eastern/10 a.m. pacific. For those that are interested, Ars Technica and CNET will feature live blogging from the event.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vook to launch new publishing platform

We first heard about a company called Vook in September when Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, released four “vooks” or e-books that incorporate video. According to Publishers Weekly, the company is now launching a new service called MotherVook to give publishers the ability to create their own enhanced e-books. Publishers will be able to upload content to a software platform and manage their titles through a central database. The software will also give publishers the ability to create one file that will work on multiple platforms and devices. In addition, publishers will have access to a book video creator company called TurnHere that can assist in the creation of the video content.

Over the last several months, we have been hearing more and more about interactive digital content. There are already some versions of interactive textbooks available but we can expect that the technology will improve in the coming months and years to provide students with a new way of learning.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Media use among 8-18 year olds increases while time spent reading books remains steady

A new study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that daily media use among children and teens has increased dramatically since 2004. In 2009, 8-18 year olds consumed an average of seven hours and 38 minutes of entertainment media a day. This is up from six hours and 21 minutes a day in 2004. The increase in media usage is driven largely by access to cell phones and iPods/MP3 players. Over the past five years, cell phone ownership among 8-18 year olds increased from 39% to 66% and iPod/MP3 player ownership increased from 18% to 76%. Activities such as social networking and high levels of media multitasking also contributed to the increase.

According to the report, the amount of time spent with mediums such as music/audio, TV content, computers, and video games increased while movies and print decreased. Print media decreased from an average of 43 minutes per day in 2004 to 38 minutes in 2009. The decrease is attributed to time spent with magazines which dropped from 14 minutes in 2004 to 9 minutes in 2009 and newspapers which dropped from 6 minutes to 3 minutes. Interestingly, the time that children and teens spend reading books has remained steady at 25 minutes per day. In addition, 8-18 year olds now spend an average of two minutes per day reading magazines and newspapers online.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

E-reader galleries

To see photos of the most promising e-reader technologies for 2010, check out the galleries on TheStreet.com and Wired's Gadget Lab.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

e-reader review site

Here is an interesting site worth checking out. Best-eReaders.com features reviews, ratings, product descriptions, and video demos for many of the e-readers on the market.

Friday, January 22, 2010

NACS Media Solutions launches website and Facebook fan page

We keep commercial announcements on this blog to a minimum, reporting instead on other news happening in the world of digital course materials and ebooks. However, we have some exciting announcements to share with you today.

First, you probably noticed our new logo and look for the blog. The content and approach will remain the same, but with several initiatives starting to come to fruition, over the next few months we will provide updates on what we are doing within NACS and NACS Media Solutions (NMS) related to this area.

Second, we have just launched our new NMS website http://www.nacsmediasolutions.com/ and our Facebook fan page. On our website, you will find more information about how we are working to build and support a foundation of technology, content solutions, and a network of partners that enable collegiate retailers to be an effective and value-adding channel for digital course materials and other pertinent digital content, products, and services. Many of our service offerings are still in development so check back frequently for updates. We are working on some really exciting initiatives and look forward to announcing these in the coming months.

Don’t forget to show your support for NMS and become our fan on Facebook! You can access the fan page via this link or by searching for NACS Media Solutions.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Preparing for the Apple Tablet

The latest reports say that the long awaited Apple tablet will debut at an event in San Francisco on January 27th and begin shipping in March. On Monday, Apple sent an invitation to journalists with minimal information about the event. The invitation notes, “Come see our latest creation” with the Apple logo surrounded by colorful splatters of paint. An interesting posting on the Bits blog features comments from Tech bloggers about what the invitation could mean.

The Wall Street Journal is also reporting that HarperCollins is in discussions with Apple and will likely make its e-books available on the tablet. Other reports say that all the major publishers are in discussions. According to the WSJ article, the e-books will feature enhanced content and HarperCollins will set the price. It is not clear if the e-books will be sold through a new e-book store or the iTunes Store but Apple will likely receive a percentage of all sales. The article notes that Amazon could face significant competition from the tablet because the new e-books will require color and video capabilities that the current Kindle models do not offer. This would give Apple a new e-book product and an advantage over Amazon. In addition, by working with Apple, publishers may be able gain back some control over e-book pricing which has been dictated by Amazon in recent months.

Amazon has clearly taken note of these recent developments because on Wednesday Amazon issued two press releases. The first press release announces a new deal for Kindle publishers that is similar to the Apple iPhone App Store business model with a 70-30 split in favor of the content provider. The press release notes, “Today, authors often receive royalties in the range of 7 to 15 percent of the list price that publishers set for their physical books, or 25 percent of the net that publishers receive from retailers for their digital books. We're excited that the new 70 percent royalty option for the Kindle Digital Text Platform will help us pay authors higher royalties when readers choose their books." An article from Fast Company points out that those who participate in the new model must meet a specific set of criteria defined by Amazon and the press release is misleading. "Assuming publishers do choose the higher royalty option, there's absolutely no guarantee it'll translate into larger pay checks for the author--it'll depend on contractual agreements between publishers and their writers, and the only authors who'll clearly benefit are self-publishers. Furthermore, the entire press release, spun expertly to look like a positive move by Amazon, is covering up the fact that until now Amazon's maintained a strict stranglehold over its e-book content with a lower royalty share scheme that has increasingly come under fire from the publishing world as a threat to the future of good book writing.”

Amazon’s second press release announces the release of a Kindle Development Kit to give developers the opportunity to build apps for the Kindle. This is interesting news because the current black and white E Ink screens on the Kindle will not support apps the way Apple devices can. Is it possible a next generation device is in the works? If anything is clear, Amazon is anticipating some big news from Apple next week.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

November 2009 e-book sales statistics

E-book sales statistics for November 2009 have been released by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) via IDPF. Trade e-book sales were $18.3 million for November 2009, a 199.9% increase over November 2008. IDPF reports calendar year to date revenue is up 185.2%. Note: These figures represent the 12 to 15 trade book publishers who have been willing to supply their data to IDPF.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Predictions from the higher ed CIO

Inside Higher Education had a good article by Lev Gonick last week on the outlook for higher education IT in the next year. I have great respect for Lev among higher ed CIOs for his perspective and expertise on emerging technology and higher education, and some of his well-connected insights.

Among his list of trend predictions for higher ed IT in 2010 of interest to this blog are the pieces on both gaming and open content. However, most who follow this blog will probably appreciate the following trend prediction most:

(5) The E-Book Reader Grows up and Goes to Campus. 2009 marked the birth of the e-book reader in the university marketplace. The first set of entrants put the already nervous higher education (text)book market on notice. New business models, publishing models, revenue sharing strategies, and new models around intellectual property and the assigned ‘text’ for a course proliferated and served to dislodge the staid legacy economy for many universities. If buying second hand books online was not enough, the new e-book readers were perceived by some to disintermediate traditional providers of services and economic benefit in the college supply chain. In 2010 a whole new generation of e-book readers will emerge as the life cycle of innovation really takes off for this class of mobile smart pads. Dedicated, single purpose readers will be eclipsed this year by new, integrated platforms supporting new functionality, Web services, rich media, open application development environments, and a wide range of new experimental interface approaches. Publishers, bookstores, technology, and entertainment giants will all clamor to the market, marking a significant if not final shift from the traditional bound book toward fully repurposable content for learning, including traditional texts.

This is not the first quarter from which we have heard a similar prediction regarding e-readers and course materials. I would not expect a complete change in this space in 2010, but as Lev suggests, there are some powerful shifts at work here as we rapidly move from one generation, to the next, to be followed by yet another --all within a very compressed timeline. The potential for e-readers and e-textbooks in higher education has not missed the attention of college CIOs, publishers, new entrants, device manufacturers, or a myriad of other players (both new and established).

2010 could very well be the start of a new decade in more ways than one.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mobile learning at Abilene Christian University

Abilene Christian University created a short video about their iPhone mobile learning initiative that is worth watching. In the video, students and faculty share their experiences and discuss how the initiative has positively shaped the learning environment at the university.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Local Books iPhone app

LibraryThing created a great iPhone app to help users locate their local bookstores, libraries, and upcoming book events. The app is called Local Books and it includes maps and details for 51,000 venues. LibraryThing notes that the current app does not show inventory for the bookstores and libraries but points out that it would be a great idea.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ready or Not, Change is Here

There was a great piece in the CACS newsletter this month by Suzanne Donnelly, CCR from the Bronco Bookstore about change in the industry. It is a one-pager worth the read as she made several points about innovation at the store level far more effectively than I have. Some of the pieces I liked best...

From the opening:
We've been hearing for nearly a decade now that our industry is changing, that stores and publishers alike will have to adapt or be left behind. Some of us have been convinced for years, others have been skeptical, but as the last days of 2009 fly by, even the most hard-core doubters have seen the signs that doing what we've always done the way we've always done it would be courting disaster.
And later:

All of this is happening at a time when many of us are harder pressed than ever just to stay on top of "business as usual". As our stores and institutions cope with furloughs, layoffs and attrition from hiring freezes, the phrase "do more with less" is on everyone's lips. I know many days I feel I barely have time to think - let alone think outside the box! Trying a new program, implementing a new strategy, can seem impossible on days when, like Alice with the Red Queen, we're running just as fast as we can to stay in one spot. Nevertheless, carving out time to imagine and plan, and making the decision to act on those plans, is no longer optional. And no store or course materials department is immune from that imperative… not even mine!

And then further down:

The important point is that no matter how well we think we're doing in one area, innovation is still imperative. No matter how busy we already are, we can't tell ourselves we're too busy to try something new. Even if administrators are not banging at our doors we should be imagining what we'll tell them when they do - or better yet, be getting ready to knock on their doors with our own proposals for change.

She goes on to note that this year, the CACS Course Materials committee "will do our best to help our members find new energy for innovation even in hard times."

All I have left to say is "Hurray!" If it doesn't hurt, you have my support.

Marketing to students...

Here is a site some might find interesting -- "Big Brand On Campus" has a set of videos on entrepreneurship and marketing to students or in colleges. A recent video featured Mary Adler-Kozak from NACS talking about the upcoming CAMEX 2011.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Korea moves toward more e-books in education

Korea is quickly moving forward to a future where e-books in education are the norm. They distinguish between e-textbooks (essentially the .pdf version of the printed text) and digital textbooks (as the more interactive, multimedia version of a textbook). A recent news story in JoongAng Daily discusses the plans of Korea's Education Ministry for digital textbooks in elementary through high school over the next two years. The country will be moving to a more flexible model for textbook pricing, and at the same time encourage greater adoption of digital course materials. The plan calls for printed textbooks at school and digital versions for home, beginning with select subjects such as literature, language, and mathematics.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A definite date for digital textbooks...

Wondering when digital will finally take off for textbooks? Well, if inventory (i.e., availability of a digital version of a print book) is currently a barrier, that will soon be changing. California has passed legislation mandating that companies which sell textbooks to California universities must offer digital versions by 2020. Of course, most companies will be compliant with that requirement long before that deadline, but it does establish an end date for the problem.

What this means is that if you are a bookseller serving a college or university in the state of California you can expect that 100% of the print books you sell will have an alternative digital option available in less than a decade. It also means that if the content is available for California, it is likely going to be available in every other state as well. Therefore, if you are not currently getting experience selling, marketing, and delivering e-books, then you are probably already giving up market share, and will certainly do so in the future. If your store cannot offer digital, then your competitors will (and in some cases already are).

We now have a more definitive deadline: a decade at maximum. Waiting 9 years and 11 months to prepare would not be good business strategy. One could liken this to a tsunami, which may not be all that visible until it gets closer to shore. We may see warning signs, such as the tide pulling out to dramatic levels. Early warning beacons may go off. Waiting around on the beach to see what might happen next is probably not a good idea, no matter how sunny the sky may seem today. We have all the lessons from other industries around us which gives book retailers the best chance of survival in the face of digital. Relying on a future of just print does not serve our customers, and does not position a store for continued success. We have a decade at most before our tsunami hits -- and that is if you estimate VERY conservatively.

So, what are you doing to prepare for digital textbooks today? (Seriously, we would like to hear.)

View of CES from NYT

The New York Times had a great story on e-readers at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)last week. The piece focuses on some of the next generation readers, many of which will be tablet-like devices from companies like Apple and HP. While many think the mythical Apple tablet will dominate or at least radically alter the e-reader device market, Apple could have some competition this time. The future devices make the current Kindles look like the old model-T.

In addition to the news story, The NYT also has a video on the e-readers at CES. It is 3.5 minutes long and worth watching.

Entourage adds content deals and joins Blackboard Alliance Program

Earlier this month, Entourage, creator of the eDGe dualbook reader, announced that 100 of McGraw-Hill’s top selling textbooks will be available on the device. Since then, Entourage has also partnered with Oxford University Press and John Wiley & Sons. According to the press release, the Oxford University Press deal includes e-book titles and the incorporation of the Oxford American College Dictionary directly into the device’s dictionary application. Entourage has also just announced that it has joined the Blackboard Alliance Program. According to the press release, the library application on the eDGe device will be linked to the Blackboard Learn Content Module to allow for file sharing between students and teachers.

The eDGe made its official debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week and has received lots of press from the show. A demo of the eDGe at CES is available here. The device will begin shipping next month and the Blackboard software is expected to be released in June.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Update to yesterday's post

I have received a few e-mails about yesterday's posting on the eCampusNews article that the link is not working. The link was working on Friday. I can not find a working link to the main article that is working today. Here is a link to the sub-story on e-textbooks that is working as of two minutes ago.

Why e-commerce matters to booksellers

I think I shared these numbers, but in a presentation from the London Book Fair day of digital education last year, the presenter from Bowker noted that in 2001 online sales of books were expected to never exceed 5%--ever. In 2008, Bowker reported that 23% of all book sales were happening online, making it now the largest channel for book sales. At the end of 2009 at least two sources are reporting to us that the number is now 39% of all book sales are happening online—a 16% increase in market share for the online channel in just 12 months. Our most recent student data says that the percentage of textbooks they are buying online (from the college store and other sources combined) is greater than that. Before we reach the end of 2010, one half of all book sales to consumers are expected to occur via a website or online transaction. (Note: hang tags in a college store do not count as an online transaction). On Christmas Day, e-books outsold printed books for the first time at Amazon. Not surprising given the number of those devices given for Christmas, but significant all the same. Some of our internal (i.e., proprietary data) suggest some related and interesting trends for online sales in higher education.

Forgive my bluntness, but it *IS* 2010. If you are a bookseller (collegiate or otherwise) and do not have a website capable of e-commerce transactions, do you really expect to be in business another decade? Can you afford to give up 10, 20, or 50% of your sales to online sources because you do not have an online capability? I could go on, but I am already breaking my New Year's resolution not to get on a soapbox for the 9th or 10th time. My point is, that if booksellers do not want to end up like other content industries being replaced by digital and new channels, they have to invest in the capabilities that allow them to participate in those channels. You have to go to where the customers are -- not expect them to stay with you because they always have. That world just is not our world anymore.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

e-textbooks -- one of 2009's big stories

I am sure some of you have seen this already. eCampus News put out their list of the five most significant developments/stories in higher-education technology during the past year. The #1 development/story (even ahead of all of the Google-library-bookscanning news) is that “Digital textbooks open a new chapter in the history of higher education.” All of the press coming out of the CES show this year about e-readers should also be heightening the concern among book retailers who are still only thinking about physical sales of physical books via a physical location.

2010-2011 should be transitional years for this technology as the first “SmartBooks” are being announced at CES – a new product category that will likely replace e-reader devices as they currently exist. There are several interesting innovations here – and most are geared toward textbooks and student usage. The latest rumor is that Apple is projecting to sell 10 million units in the next year – reasonable given sales of 13.5M iphones in the first year. Although this time I think Apple will have some competition. With that many devices, people will want content. E-textbook sales that have been lackluster to this point could be about to hit the knee of the curve—hard. In 2007 we predicted about 5 years to see e-textbooks have a real impact on the higher ed market. The next two years will be the beginning of that impact to be felt. Many other players are moving into online e-book sales recognizing that most books in the future will likely be sold via online channels rather than store channels, and setting up an online store is quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive.

So, some good news for campus booksellers amongst all of this – we are making progress in NMS. We are on schedule to have a number of positive announcements by the time we reach CAMEX. However, the importance of industry education and change management related to the future of these technologies cannot be underestimated. 2010-2014 will be the pivotal years where the fate of physical booksellers will likely either follow that of record/music stores, or create a positive example that other organizations and industries will want to follow. The time to act in an emerging technology market is before other players can take the market away from you. College stores must not let the current low volume of e-textbook sales lull our own actions into complacency. The clock is ticking too quickly for that.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

SixthSense technology

As mentioned in previous postings, the video presentations on the TED website are a great resource for ideas and inspiration. The presentations are given by the world’s leading thinkers and doers at the TED conference each year. The presentation by Pranav Mistry, the inventor of SixthSense technology, is definitely worth checking out. Mistry has developed a wearable device that enables interactions between the real world and the world of data. When the device is worn and a user interacts with a physical object, the device will project information about the object onto it. For example, live video can be projected onto a paper newspaper or book reviews can appear on a paper book. The technology even enables a “paper laptop.” You really have to watch the video to believe it!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Future predictions

MediaBistro’s Galleycat blog is featuring an interesting series of articles with predictions for the publishing industry in ten years. They posted predictions from Seth Godin, Richard Curtis, Mark Coker, Jane Dystel, Richard Nash and Scott Steinberg. A few interesting items are Richard Curtis’ prediction that college students will begin using tablet PCs this fall and by 2011 or 2012, tablets will replace laptops on campuses across the nation. Mark Coker believes that in ten years, 95% of all reading will be on screen and Seth Godin says,
“This is the decade when book publishing will (finally) be transformed from a business that chops down trees and puts returnable books into bookstores... into one that finds ideas, funds the writers that need it, and uses their (authors' and publishers') leverage and skills to promote those ideas to people willing to pay for them, in whatever format is the most efficient way to get that transaction to occur. If that doesn't happen, and the industry (led by reactionary old-school CEOs) persists in defining itself as being in the book business, it will be 15% the size it is today by the end of the decade. It's our choice."
Gallycat also has a number of interesting posts about different e-readers and developments at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) out in Las Vegas. Such as their Video Tours of e-readers.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

McGraw Hill to deliver higher education content to the eDGe e-reader

According to a recent press release, McGraw-Hill Education has announced a strategic alliance with Entourage Systems to deliver higher education content to the dual screen eDGe e-reader. McGraw-Hill plans to make 100 of its top selling titles in business, economics, science, math, humanities, foreign languages, and social sciences available for purchase through the Entourage e-book store. As mentioned previously, the eDGe device is a hybrid e-reader with a black and white E Ink screen for reading and taking notes, and a color LCD screen for viewing images, videos, and the internet. Textbooks are better suited for this type of e-reader because color graphics and illustrations that are imperative for certain disciplines can be displayed on the LCD screen. The eDGe e-reader will launch at the CES show this week and will begin shipping next month.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Smartbook tablets to debut at Consumer Electronics Show

While e-readers will surely make a mark on the industry in 2010, we are beginning to hear more about smartbook tablet devices that offer more than just the ability to read books. According to an article from CNN, several new tablet technologies are expected to debut at the Consumer Electronics Show this week and Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, says that overall there will be more innovation at this show than any in history. In regards to tablet devices, Shapiro noted, "There's the large screen, which is the television. There's the small screen, which is the wireless phone or the smartphone. Then there's a middle category, where there's a tremendous opportunity for growth. That's the netbook, the smartbook, the dualbook, the nettop, the desktop, the laptop -- tablets. There's a lot going on in that middle screen-size space."

One of the devices expected to debut is an affordable smartbook tablet from Freescale Semiconductor. An article from CNET features some photos that show a 7-inch color touch screen that detaches from the keyboard. The specs include 3G connectivity, an Android or Linux operating system, and 4 to 64 GB of internal storage. Another innovation is a platform called “Blio” that was developed by Ray Kurzweil and is intended to run on tablets and other devices. An article from Wired’s Gadget Lab says that Blio retains the layout, typsetting, fonts, and pagination of a books format. Blio also supports video and animation, text-to-speech functionality, and the ability to synchronize bookmarks and highlights across multiple devices. There are also reports that a few Android tablets could be introduced from makers such as HTC and Dell. It is not expected that Apple will make any announcements at CES but a tablet device could be unveiled at an event on January 26th according to the latest rumors.

2010 has just begun but it already looks like it will be a very interesting year.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Neotake search engine for e-books

The Teleread blog recently featured a posting about an impressive new search engine that indexes all e-book files on the Internet. The search engine is called Neotake and it allows users to search for e-books in 14 languages and six formats. The formats include: ePub, PDF, Mobipocket, Plucker, Qioo, or TXT. Users that own devices such as the Sony Reader and Nook can download ePub files and Kindle users can find Mobipocket e-books via the mobile version of Neotake. Teleread reports that the mobile version is very user friendly and works great with the Kindle.