Monthly Archive for July, 2009

Interview on CBC Business News: Examining eBooks

On 12th June 2009, producer @NishaPatel invited me onto CBC Business News to talk about the eBook phenomena. I think I talk a little slow for television, but oh well, that’s that.

I initially passed this opportunity to Dr. Alex @Halavais, whom I knew was in the process of digitizing his entire personal book library. He had given me great advice on the evolution of media industries from analogue to digital, specifically on how the book publishing industry is likely to mirror the course of music and movies industries into the digital domain.

Here are some questions from CBC News, as well as my responses:

1. Why are eBooks taking so long to turn mainstream?
Short answer: Aesthetic experience. Music and movies tend to be experienced same way be it analogue or digital (i.e. screens, headphones), while the experience of browsing a physical book hasn’t been replicated in the electronic form. I think we’re compensating by recognizing the new-found features of ebooks, including the ability to search within books and to carry along more books with us than physically possible.

2. Who are going to be the real losers here? Bookstores, publishers?
If we were to look at the demise of Tower Records, or the state of Blockbuster today, it’s quite certain that if ebooks were to take off, then the brick and mortar bookstores would be next to go. As much as we romanticize the loss of physical browsing, bookstores might have to adapt themselves around alternative aspects of business. I’m seeing many bookstores take the Starbucks route by turning themselves into The Third Place, which focuses the business on communal aspects of books, such as operating cafes, hosting author readings, and catering to book clubs.

3. Which device do you think will lead the ebook revolution?
I personally enjoy reading on my Amazon Kindle, as well as my iPhone. They compliment each other very well, and the convenience and comfort these devices bring to reading ebooks make them strong contenders as mainstream devices for the publishing industry.

If you’re interested to see why the Kindle and the iPhone rock for reading, check out this recent discussion I had with my fellow Kindle fans.

UPDATE: The RamblingLibrarian now offers his thoughts on ebooks as well.

Sneak Preview: Pukka 1.8 = Tighter integration between Delicious and Mac OS X

Sneak Peek: Pukka 1.8

If you’re on a Mac and find yourself bookmarking the entire Internet on Delicious, you’ll want to check out Code Sorcery Workshop’s upcoming Pukka 1.8.

While it’s easy enough to use the Delicious bookmarklet to tag sites you love, having a desktop app integrates Delicious with your entire Mac OSX experience.

The Basics
Upon launch, Pukka may look diminutive, but the real power lies in how it speeds up your social bookmarking workflow in two key ways: Bookmarking and Searching

After entering your Delicious (or Ma.gnolia) account into Pukka (supports multiple accounts), it starts to cache your bookmarked links, tags and descriptions in the background. This action helps with your tagging and searching efficiency.

To bookmark, tag and describe a link, you would first install the Pukka bookmarklet from the app into your favorite web browser. At your favorite site, hitting the bookmarklet launches the app and auto-fills the URL and Title of the page. If you highlighted text on the web page before hitting the bookmarklet, that specific text would also appear in the Pukka’s Description area (a real time-saver!).

While the earlier versions let you browse your recent delicious bookmarks in a pull-down menu, the new version features live search your bookmarks from the menu icon. Mind you, with Command-F to find, it’s lightning fast!

As you can see, almost everything in Pukka can be executed with simple keyboard commands, making the entire bookmarking and searching experience ridiculously quick once you get the hang of it.

New features of Pukka 1.8
While Pukka has always had a ton of features, here are the new ones you can look forward to in version 1.8:
* New search feature
– available from Window > Search (Command-F)
– also available from menu bar
– global keyboard shortcut assignable
– allows filtering by title, URL, tags, description, or all four
* Ability to drag-and-drop reorder accounts in preferences
– allows you to set a preferred account at startup (first account)
* Auto-expanding description field
* AppleScript access to all bookmarks and their properties

On the whole, the live search feature is where I feel the app is given a second life, while Applescript access would let hardcore users get the most out of Pukka. The description field has a unique touch of auto-expanding, though I’d simply prefer to be able to resize the entire window so I can also see my lengthy tags with less clicks.

Code Sorcery Workshop notes that pricing remains the same as the last version, $16.95. Current owners of Pukka 1.x get this as a free upgrade. Look for Pukka 1.8 this week or so, which will run on both Mac OS 10.4 and 10.5.