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  • Making Friends with E-Books

    This weekend, the New York Times suggested that “E-Books Make Readers Less Isolated.” The article asserts that someone carrying a new e-reading device or tablet is inviting conversation and interaction.

    Strangers constantly ask about it,” Michael Hughes, a communications associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, said of his iPad, which he uses to read a mix of novels and nonfiction. “It’s almost like having a new baby.” An iPad owner for four months, Mr. Hughes said people were much more likely to approach him now than when he toted a book. “People approach me and ask to see it, to touch it, how much I like it,” he said. “That rarely happens with dead-tree books.”

    But the social aspect of e-books isn’t limited to curiosity about devices. People who are reading on tablets are often connecting to internet and sharing content or conversations while reading. Of course, the ability to connect has been a core value at Vook from the beginning.

    One of our earliest Vooks, Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It, drew in readers with relevant hyperlinks and access to Gary’s Twitter stream.  Less than a year later, you can email your friends videos and highlighted passages from within a Vook you’re reading on your iPhone or iPad. The ability to interact with authors and co-readers always seemed like an obvious next step in innovative publishing, but it turns out that it’s also essential to the sharing of ideas, on and offline.

    The benefits of connectivity don’t end inside the binding of an e-book.  Dialogue online creates a welcoming environment for dialogue in person. The Times says:

    Suddenly, the lone, unapproachable reader at the corner table seems less alone. Given that some e-readers can display books while connecting online, there’s a chance the erstwhile bookworm is already plugged into a conversation somewhere, said Paul Levinson, professor of communication and media studies at Fordham University.

    Are e-Books bringing us closer together? Tell us what you think in the comments below, or tweet us @vooktv.

    What Will They Think of Next?

    To those who think the magazine industry just doesn’t get it — and I know who you are, all 20 million of you — I direct your attention to this cool little thing vook’s Joel Burshem turned me on to:     It’s a video ad stuck smack in the middle of an issue of good old fashioned Entertainment Weekly.  As Joel said, it might scare the pants off you if you didn’t know it was there, but if the goal of magazine editors and publishers is to get your attention — and live in the 21st century — it’s a great way to start.

    Google Moves the OS up in the Clouds

    Big news this morning. Google announces a brand new operating system based on its Chrome Browser – Google Chrome OS. Details on what it’ll look like are bit sketchy, but there is no doubt. This is huge, huge move for the search giant to make.

    Why, you ask?

    The New York Times categorizes this as a first leap into the clouds where ultimately all applications are hosted online.

    Google’s plans for the new operating system fit its Internet-centric vision of computing. Google believes that software delivered over the Web will play an increasingly central role, replacing software programs that run on the desktop. In that world, applications run directly inside an Internet browser, rather than atop an operating system, the standard software that controls most of the operations of a PC.

    Put more succinctly, Michael Arrington, writing at Techcrunch, sums it up best. He says:

    The Internet Is Everything. All the OS has to do is boot the damn computer, get me to a browser as fast as possible and then stay the hell out of the way.

    Google expects to put this free (yes, free) operating system on millions of computers starting next year.

    For us at Vook, this is especially exciting – the new Chrome Browser and Google’s vision for cloud-based computing dovetails exactly with our vision for taking digital books and bringing them to the Internet.

    When we first started talking about this project we often referred to Vook as putting books in the cloud.  And today we are even one step closer to making that a reality.

    New Firefox Browser Brings Speed and Video

    I sound a bit like a broken record these days. Speed and video. Speed and video.

    Only last week it was the new iPhone touting these two words. Now it’s the turn of the Mozilla Foundation who today released a new version of its wildly popular Firefox browser.

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    Firefox 3.5 comes with a slew of new features but the ones that most interest here at Vook are its pronounced improvements in rendering Javascript (in layman’s terms, makes everything feel faster) and the addition of the new HTML 5.0 support for audio and video files (two words, embedded video).

    The combination of both of these advances make our vision for rich, interactive vooks that live inside your browser that more exciting.

    Now, if we can only convince everyone to upgrade!

    To download the latest version of Firefox, visit the getfirefox.com web site.

    A Date with the new iPhone 3G S

    I wasn’t going to upgrade. I swear. But my gadget lust got the better of me and I caved.

    So I spent the weekend with a new toy; my brand new iPhone 3G S.

    This is now the third generation iPhone I’ve owned after its launch weekend. Pretty pathetic I know. But I’ve kept my batting record at 1000.

    In my defense, it’s all for research purposes. Yeah, that’s right… research purposes. (At least, that’s what I told my wife)

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    But it’s true. Vook is betting pretty heavily on the iPhone space and I had to see if our prototypes worked on the new hardware. (Good news, it does!)

    So here are some thoughts on the new handset from Apple.

    The S is for Speed. And well deserved. A bump in memory and processing power means this is the snappiest iPhone to date. I never really thought of my old phone as slow. But going back to it now and it feels like a slug in comparison. Streaming videos and reading pages is a breeze on the new S.

    V is for Video. The new iPhone should really be called the iPhone 3G V. The integration of a video camera and software in the device stands poised to revolutionize the way we see our world. Imagine a scene where everyone has access to a video camera and access to the web to instantly upload and share what they are seeing. Well it’s now a reality and I predict we’re going to see an explosion of new uses of video — to share memories, report on current events and eventually, I suspect, tell stories. Exciting stuff – especially for a platform like Vook.

    If you are interested in upgrading to the new phone, check your eligibility on Apple’s web site. I’d give it an enthusiastic thumbs up.

    Top 3 Vook Readers of the Future

    Here at vook we always have one eye on what’s coming down the pike in terms of hardware. We love our iPhones and Kindles but are anxiously anticipating the day that technology catches up with our dream of integrated video and text. The good news is I think we’re almost there.

    Here’s a handful of devices that are getting us excited right now.

    1. Fujitsu’s FLEPia

    Shown here as a prototype in 2024. FLEPia is color e-paper (which does not play video, yet). Launched commercially in March 2024 in Japan.

    2. Techcrunch’s Crunchpad

    Popular technology blog Techcrunch has been cheerleading a new device in this space and, frustrated by the lack of response by manufacturers, commissioned a product themselves.

    3. Google Android based netbooks

    One of the first Android based netbooks manufactured by GNB – demo’d here in June 2024.

    BONUS! The long rumored Apple tablet

    Much has been bantered about online about a forthcoming tablet device from Apple. Shown here in a rendering made by a fan.

    iPhone 3.0 changes up the eBook game

    If you are as big a geek as me, you spent yesterday glued to the Engadget or Gizmodo live blog of Apple’s WWDC keynote speech.

    As expected, we got a look at the new iPhone (3G s) and some of the new apps that will be launched when iPhone 3.0 comes out in a few weeks time.

    Personally, I’m really excited about the new iPhone – video alone is enough to get me to spring for a new device (though I’m less enthused about AT&T’s uncharitable upgrade options).

    But what really got me excited about iPhone 3.0 is all the new options it presents to developers like Vook.

    On stage in San Francisco, we saw ScrollMotion show off the latest version of their Iceberg reader which has long been one of my favorite eBook apps in the iTunes store.

    The big change in 3.0 is that Apple now allows developers like ScrollMotion and Vook to deploy in-app commerce for their books. What does that mean? Simply that I can now buy additional books from inside the application and not have to go through iTunes anymore. Not only does this promise to clear up the clutter on our phones — don’t know about you, but I have a couple dozen apps on my phone at any given time — but it also kickstarts whole new marketplace for digital content.

    I suspect this is going to only increase the adoption of eBooks (I’m already reading far more on my phone that I ever thought I would) and give consumers a whole new way to begin to access more of their favorite literary works. As has already been demonstrated by the Kindle, instant, on-demand access to content can be a powerful behavioral change. One that bodes well for this medium.

    Now, if only we’d seen the oft-rumored Apple tablet… that would have really made my day!

    eReader market ready to explode

    We certainly saw that last week at BEA – with newer, cheaper devices from Cooler and BEbook starting to steal a little of the thunder from the Kindle and Sony readers.

    Now, this week, a new report from Forrester that points to growing market for eBooks and eReader devices.

    So why the growth?

    Epps acknowledges that Forrester’s initial reaction to the Kindle as a niche device that would only attract a small number of book-loving early adopters underestimated the fact that consumers would fall in love with the Kindle’s one-step shopping system and the immediate gratification of buying books in the Kindle store…

    Of course what was most of interest to us at Vook was the prediction that by Q4 2024 we’ll be seeing video enabled readers hitting the market.


    Here’s hoping it’s sooner than that!

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