Tag Archives: Amazon

What are the Dark Passages of Scripture?

So…I have a new book coming out entitled “Light on the Dark Passages of Scripture.” It will be released on September 20 from Our Sunday Visitor press. In the time leading up to the book release, I’ve put together a YouTube channel called “Bible Broccoli” and I’ll be posting several videos related to the book. This video above is my very first YouTube video and I address the first question you might ask about the book, “What are the Dark Passages of Scripture?” I hope you enjoy this video and I hope you check out my new book!

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E-Readers for Academics

I have made several posts about the Amazon Kindle and my hope that a color version will be offered soon with ability to annotate text. It turns out I’m not alone. Another academic, Kevin Stolarick has the same wish–although, I’d have to say he’s a bit more fanatic about the whole thing considering he’s bought almost every device that came close to our shared desire. What we want is rather simple:

  • An e-ink reader (for long battery life, natural eyestrain-free reading)
  • 8 1/2″ x 11″ size (for reading academic articles that are scanned PDF’s and for reading student papers in Word DOC and DOCX format)
  • Ability to annotate in color (for highlighting and underlining academic articles and for annotating student papers)
  • Annotation must work with a fine point stylus (so it feels like writing with a pen rather than smushing pixels with a finger)
  • Good storage choices (whether SD card, Dropbox, etc.)

It seems like it would be a no-brainer for a tech company to offer a product like this. It would be custom built for the academic market (both students and teachers), but I think a lot of business folks would be interested too–for reports, policy binders, and other documents.

The makers of ereaders (Amazon, Sony, B&N) have focused on the book reader market because there’s money there. But they have missed the market of people who still use paper and would like to upgrade to the digital age. The 8 1/2″ x 11″ format may sound silly, but in a world that uses paper in that format all the time, there must be some level of interoperability between paper and ereaders. We want a paper-like experience without all the mess of paper. We want to read the same documents as our paperphile friends. It seems simple and when a tech company wakes up and provides us with a product like this for a good price, I’ll be first in line to get one.

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New Amazon Kindle Lending Library

One of the reasons I have eschewed the Kindle from Amazon is that you can’t use the device to check out ebooks from your local library. Many public lending libraries now lend ebooks. They can be read on PC’s, Android devices and things like the Sony eReader. But they have never worked on an Amazon Kindle. I suppose some people might have found a way to convert proprietary file formats from libraries to work on Kindle, but I doubt it. It’s a big turn off for a book lover not to be able to get FREE library books on your electronic reading device when you can pick up real books at the library or use a compatible device. Rather than working with the library community, Amazon just performed an end-around. If you have an Amazon Prime membership (which I do) you can now read books in the Amazon Kindle Lending library for free. The catch is, you can only read them on a Kindle device. Weird, huh? Part of the draw of Kindle is that you can read your books on your Kindle, your PC, your phone or whatever device that can run the Kindle app. But with this lending library, the books are ONLY available on a Kindle device. To read a loaned book on your phone, you’ll have to pony up some cash and buy it. That seems to go against Amazon’s philosophy of ubiquity, but hey, free books! Now, of course, not everything is available in the lending library and it would take some time to sort through the available books to see if it is worth it. The content of the library seems to be mostly new stuff like NY Times bestsellers. But if you read a lot of new stuff and own a Kindle, the Prime membership could be worth its weight in gold. This new library will really change both the book selling market and the library scene. Revolutionary? Perhaps. I think a lot of public lending libraries that pay gobs of money to grant their patrons access to ebook collections are going to be up in arms. It also reveals a changing dynamic in Amazon’s business model. Their goal is to get people paying subscription fees (the annual $79 Prime fee) forever. If they get enough people to jump in and they continue to crush the competition, they’ll be free to crank up that annual price over time. I’m very curious as to what the pundits will have to say about this one. I also wonder if publishers are going to throw a fit. But knowing Amazon’s style, they probably worked out some kind of contract with publishers ahead of time. It’s bizarre to think that books are going the way of Netflix online streaming, but here it is in front of our faces.

Update: So I looked further into the details and the Amazon Library is not as golden as it seems. You get to “check out” 12 books per year, that’s one per month. It says there are no due dates, so why would you ever “return” a book. That’s a bit of a mystery to me. It seems like you would want to keep every one of your 12 annual books in your library and not return them. I’m sure this will get hashed out as people start using the library. Maybe an un-returned book will expire after  year or something, but that would seem to undo the “no due dates” claim. What if you’re a slow reader and you check out a 2000 page book? Will they take it away when your on page 1701?

Ok, I think I figured it out. It says you can only “check out one book at a time.” That means if you don’t read a book a month, then you won’t be able to check out 12 per year. Seems like a good service for short books you can read in a few weeks, but not for long stuff.

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Amazon Kindle Fire (but I’m still waiting)

Amazon just released their new Kindle Fire tablet…sort of. You can pre-order one, but it won’t arrive until after November 15. I, however, will pass on the neat device and wait until Amazon produces a full color E Ink touch screen Kindle, hopefully with a keyboard. I told you before how the E ink company has developed a color version of their technology. That is way more attractive to me because of the super long battery life, the light weight, the ability to read in bright light. Overall, I see the E Ink technology way more conducive to reading than any kind of LCD screen. We’ll see, but I’m hoping to see a full color Kindle in the next 18 months.

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