Tag Archives: iPad

The joys of eBook readers – the Sony PRS-650 Touch

Well, I finally succumbed and got myself an eBook Reader. I am certainly not one of those who take up new technology early. Mind you, eBook Readers have been in New Zealand only since last May, so I do feel like a rapid uptaker in this case.

Of course the late arrival in New Zealand has more to do with rights management than technology. But the wait means that now eBook Readers have arrived many of the technological problems have been sorted. (And it has given me time to research the subject).

So far there are just four eBook Readers on the local market (the Kobo and two Sony models), plus the Kindle from Amazon. And they aren’t easy to find in local shops! I did my own comparison and decided on the Sony PRS-650. Here are my comments on this model, together with my general experience of using an eBook Reader overt the last few weeks.  It’s not a detailed review (I haven’t had hands-on experience with other Readers) but you might find it useful if you are contemplating purchase of an eBook Reader.

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Are ebooks taking off?

Martin Taylor at eReport reports this amazing statistic (See US stats show 9% ebook share, grim news for print):

The latest US book industry sales figures from the Association of American Publishers show ebooks are now tracking at 9% of domestic trade book revenue for the 8-month period January to August 2010.

To put this in context I have plotted the ebook share of  total consumer book sales in the US for the last years.

This certainly looks like ebook sales, and presumable sales of ebook readers and similar devices, is taking off in the US.  As Martin points out Amazon’s Jeff Bezos claims that when both printed and e-book formats are available their  sales are about 35% ebooks!

Mind you, I think this sudden increase may be partly caused by the more recent  availability of improved ebook readers, devices like the iPad, and on-line ebook stores. If so, we might expect the increasing trend to slow and some sort of equilibrium reached in the next few years between sales of ebooks and printed books.

Unfortunately in New Zealand we are well behind. Ebook readers, and the iPad, have only become available this year. So far there are just four ebook readers on the local market (the Kobo and two Sony models), plus the Kindle from Amazon. And try to find them in the local shops!

On the other hand the price of the Kobo has dropped $50 recently suggesting that we will soon see more competition, and lower prices, in the New Zealand market, as overseas.

Footnote: I was interested to see that science writer Carl Zimmer is experimenting by releasing his most recent book purely as an ebook. (see Brain Cuttings). He found it quick to produce and it’s certainly quicker for the reader to obtain.

If this catches on with authors I am going to have to splash out and get my own ebook reader.
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Check out your ancestors

Here’s a handy little resource of anyone interested in evolutionary science – The Timetree of life.  It enables you to find the last common ancestor of two species. Or, as the website describes it:

“TimeTree is a public knowledge-base for information on the evolutionary timescale of life. A search utility allows exploration of the thousands of divergence times among organisms in the published literature. A tree-based (hierarchical) system is used to identify all published molecular time estimates bearing on the divergence of two chosen taxa, such as species, compute summary statistics, and present the results. Names of two taxa to be compared are entered in the search window and the results are presented on a separate page.”

You can try it out at the search page. Just enter two names and click on search. This is the summary of what I got for humans and onions. Yes, we diverged 1408 million years ago. Continue reading