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Posts from the ‘iPad’ Category

Friday’s Popcorn, Served on Monday

I typically round out every week with some fun popcorn for the weekend.
I was busy preparing for my guest spot over at Motherese today, where we are launching her book group with Raising Happiness. Check it out.

It’s raining here. Still.
And it’s Monday.
So why not send it today?

1. Carolyn Kellogg at the Los Angeles Times has a much more positive view than I did on the iPad as an e-reader.

2. Break out the Lily Pulitzer, whale corduroys, and Bermuda bags! The Preppy Handbook is back! Not really my style (admittedly: anymore), but still worth a good laugh.

3. The 2010 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced today.

Fiction: Tinkers by Paul Harding.
Non-Fiction:  The Dead Hand by David E. Hoffman

4. Finally, My kids got an email this weekend from a former babysitter who is now a teacher. She sent this video to them with a note: Gotta Keep Readin’! They thought this set of middle schoolers recreating a Flash Mob in Florida was pretty darn cool.


For more juicy little tidbits like these, follow me on Twitter.

Reminder: on Wednesday, I will be reviewing the first 100 pages of BrooklynOur April BookSnob selection.


I Love You, iPad, But I Don’t Really Need You.

Well, I almost held out an entire week.

Trying to play it cool, I assured myself (repeatedly), that I didn’t need an iPad.
There was really no pressing need to own it. At all.

Unless, of course, you count lust.

Like a drunk dying for a martini, there I was in the Apple store on Thursday. I timed it like a pro, the salesperson on the phone said: “Our daily ship arrives at noon.”

We breezed in at 12:45: two children, one 85-pound Bernese Mountain dog  (I swear, they insisted I bring her in, those perky little Apple helpers) and giddy me. We could have been shooting their friggin’ commercial. We all smiled a lot, the kids showed me how to use the damn thing, our credit card was swiped and the handy white tote bag was in my hand…all in about 30 seconds.

It’s hard to imagine a Medellin drug drop going down more smoothly than this.

So now. The truth.

It’s gorgeous.

For those who describe it as a really large iTouch, they’re fundamentally right. But they grossly underestimate the vibrancy that the big screen brings to simple things as email, calendar, video and pictures. It’s nearly mesmerizing it is so beautiful. On this point, I could argue that it is truly the most clever consumer device ever built.

In some respects, it feels superior to a laptop. I can assure you, the interface of my email has never ever been this good on my MacBook. The keyboard feels great. The application store is still thin, but no use betting against this. The bigger size apps (6 or so I have downloaded so far), are in-cred-ible. Marvel comics rocked my kids world.

But before I swoon from my Apple delirium, I will admit to you, I am kind of confused.

While I can’t dispute its superior engineering, I am now a 4-device Apple consumer. It’s excessive. Does this thing do something that my iPhone, laptop, or desktop can’t do? Not really. Except books. Which I is why I really bought it in the first place.

In simple terms, it is hard to see the iPad as more than a luxury item, a gadget fetish. You may recall when I saw the launch of the iPad months ago, I mentioned it was going to be a Kindle killer. Well, hmm, I am not so sure about that. They seem to serve different buyers.

You need to take my comments with a grain of salt because I don’t own the Kindle. But here’s the detail on the iBooks piece:


1. Love that I can change fonts–both size and type to one that is more digestible for me. It’s less about readability and more about, hey–let us fit this to you.

2. Love the highlighting of key passages that get bookmarked and I can refer back to easily. Nice touch that I can change the highlight color and it really looks all uneven like a highlighter. I am feeling productive now!

3. Like the double tap of a word to look  it up, or go to Google and/or Wikipedia.

4. Like that buying books go on my visual shelf. Makes me happy every time I look at that damn thing. Thanks for the eye candy. I like to see the covers.

5. Like that turning a page is like turning a page. Thanks for letting me hold on to that.

6. Appreciate that buying books is so ‘frictionless’. They are going to sell me, unfortunately, a lot of books.


1. You can’t hold it in your hand too long while reading, it gets heavy for me. I need to prop it against my knees or in the cross of my lap. This is not a cuddly item.

2. The book selection is down right stinky at this point. As a data point, if you look at 25 books covers on BookSnob right now, Apple has less than 50% of them in iBooks version. I tried to find the next 3 books I was interested in reading. Strike out. I know this will get better with time, but if iBooks is the key driver of your purchase, hold tight.

3. Let’s be clear–it is reading on a screen. I am only about 25 pages into my first iBook, so I can’t say for sure…but it could be a bit hard on the eyes.

It’s hard for me to see the book addicts loving this, and I can see why the Kindle may still be the object of their affection. But may be it is too soon to tell. Hopefully, the book inventory crisis will pass.

So the question is who really NEEDS an iPad?

1.  Me. That’s obvious. Thanks for helping me with my guilt.
(I can say “You” too, if it helps yours.)

2. Families. It’s not difficult to see this as a household device. The first time you step on that spring break flight and the device is loaded with movies, games, everyone’s books…this seems like a home run. I can see it docked in the kitchen when home with cookbook recipes, family calendar, photos etc. It seems like the device we use to see in our minds when talked about swiping the empty milk carton bar code to add to the grocery list (anyone else remember that?)

3. Laptop dropouts. I talked with a friend today who is in the process of replacing the laptop in her kitchen. She does lightweight work on it (she works for herself and is mostly in Word and email) and suddenly the option of swapping a $2000 laptop for a $500 iPad is incredibly attractive. Those blessed careers that don’t require Excel–I definitely think its worth exploring the use of Pages and Keynote on an iPad.

4. Students. Hard to dispute a vision of students on their iPads taking notes, doing research, and yes, checking Facebook pages during those lectures. It’s kind of hard to imagine anything but.

5. Medical Professionals. At a doctor last week, I signed off on paperwork and privacy statements on an assistant’s ThinkPad. Man, it looks like a dinosaur compared to the iPad. With custom applications, this thing is a medical professional’s dream.

But I suppose you could argue no one really NEEDED an iPod. We had different ways to listen to our music. Apple has always been masterful at anticipating the future need of how we work and play. And maybe they have done it, yet again, and I can’t even see it.

If Apple is right I’ll say: “oh yeah, totally. I bought one, like, the first week it was out…my dog can vouch for me.”


BookSnob in April: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Hello, my friends.
It’s time, once again, to get on the same page.

I have a nifty, slender April selection for you.

Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin.

Named a best book of 2009 by The New Yorker, SF Chronicle, and The Seattle Times.
The Sunday Times called it the novel of the year.

Plus, you have me strongly encouraging you.
What more do you need?

As a hat tip to Kristen at Motherese (where I am partnering on her book group in April), here’s a bit more structure to keep you on track:

Part I and Part II will be discussed April 14th.
(A scant 100 pages of reading!)

Part III and IV April 28th.

Grab the book, join us, and let me know below if you are in.

Oh, and I have some goodies in store for those who do…


I know how you BookSnobs love mind candy.
So here is your quiz for this week, courtesy of Sporcle.


And finally, I am well aware that the iPad’s big day is tomorrow.
(Good lord, how can you miss it? Even I am growing weary of the press…)

All I can say is
Isn’t it my BookSnob duty to get this thing in my hot little hands and review it???
Stay tuned.

Enjoy your weekend.


The Book is dead. No.Yes.No.Yes.No.

I can’t seem to go a day without reading BIG STATEMENTS about the book industry.

Everywhere I turn, someone is proclaiming death! victory! revolution! transformation! unprecedented opportunity! or just plain chaos! in the publishing and reading industries. I don’t think this is just a BookSnob poking around, this is becoming a mainstream conversation.

Look no further than the cover of Fortune this month who devoted the March issue to “The Future of Reading“–a fascinating article and definitely worth a read. Or a more detailed industry view in the New York Review of Books with this piece on “Publishing: The Revolutionary Future“.

As a Bay Area resident, I am no stranger to inflammatory statements.
As a marketing professional, I am even guilty of creating them.

The mantra? “Have a point of view and be bold”. How else can you get their attention? Particularly with new technology…hype helps.

Exhibit 1: Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and master marketer. In 2005, he declared the death of software, proclaiming that all enterprises would use software as a hosted service rather than purchase it for on site. In 2011, industry analysts cite that 75% of all enterprise applications will still be on premise software. Seems to be still alive and kicking then, Mark, by my calculation.

Don’t get me wrong. I generally subscribe to Mark’s vision about this sea change in technology. But the timeframe is off. As a former boss of mine used to love to say: “There are no unreasonable goals, there are just unreasonable timeframes.”

In these big, breathy statements I’m taking in, it’s hard to sift out what I really actually think about what’s happening in reading and publishing. It’s difficult, so to speak, to separate fact from fiction.

So let me try this on for size:

1. Reading is not going away. Content is easier to acquire and competition is making it cheaper than ever. New creativity in what a book is: (mashups, ebooks + Video) are bringing non-readers into the fray. I would argue that the market for readers will grow. Please note that I despair to think otherwise.

2. The technology + reading trend is irreversible. Ebooks were only 3% of sales in 2009, but this isn’t a trend I would bet against. The introduction of the iPad and a tablet from every major hardware manufacturer will only accelerate growth of electronic reading. But, please note, I won’t call for death to the book for at least 10 more years. If ever.

3. There will be carnage in media, publishing and book retailing. We’re already seeing this happen. Power dynamics are changing. Consumer tastes are evolving. And big, clunky, static competitors will and should fail. Sorry, but that’s the way capitalism works. I grew up in Michigan and, well, I can think of at least one other industry that is facing the same. It’s sad and it’s painful–but the opportunity to reinvent and compete is also there. Change is good.

4.  Consumers love choice but their choices aren’t always binary. You may love your Kindle, but like a hardback for the beach. Pass on a paperback to a friend. Can’t read on a screen after a long week at the office. Must have your iPad for travel. Different audiences want different platforms and they might vary by different uses/situations. Tomorrow’s competitors are going to need to be more sophisticated about their consumers’ tastes and preferences–and be flexible enough to serve a wider set of end points. Some call this era the ‘splinternet’.

5. Now is an awesome time to be a BookSnob! If you love to read and you love the creation of the written word–who cares for a moment how its delivered–then you can’t deny, great things are happening. Where there is attention, there is likely innovation. Where there is innovation, there is excitement. It’s virtuous and fun.

So, I for one, love the hype…..

Do you think reading is dead? What’s in your crystal ball about media, publishing, reading?

Have a point of view and be bold, right?