Round up #185: royal librarian, B&N CEO steps down

Round up #185: royal librarian, B&N CEO steps down

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Barnes & Noble CEO steps down

According to this

Press Release from Barnes & Noble

William Lynch, CEO for three years, and architect of the NOOK strategy, has resigned.

This may be seen by stockholders as a positive. The NOOK has been seen as an underperformer, recently, and as I wrote about recently, B&N decided to stop making their tablets on their own.

However, while it might be good for the company overall, it isn’t particularly good for the world of e-books and EBRs (E-Book Readers). Competition is good for us: it drives innovation and creates downward price pressure.

If other companies look at this and say, “See? Lynch had to resign because of e-books,” which wouldn’t be a good assessment of the situation, it could still make them more reluctant to commit future resources.

Mini-review: Apocalypse Z

Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End
by Manel Loureiro, translated by Pamela Carmell
text-to-speech, lending, and X-ray are all available

I decided to break down and borrow a book from the KOLL (Kindle Owner’s Lending Library) that was under $6.58. ;) Why $6.58? If you take the $79 you pay a year for Prime, then divide it by twelve to get a monthly amount, that’s what you get. We get a lot more value out of Prime than the KOLL, but I was enjoying having it be that what I borrowed from the KOLL over the course of a year was worth more than $79.

I’m glad that I did. :)

Apocalypse Z is a zombie novel, but novel isn’t exactly accurate. It started out as an epistolary blog…we are reading blog entries from a lawyer, as a situation gradually emerges. I’m careful about spoilers, so I don’t want to say too much about the plot.

I will say that, when I read the first entry, I was discouraged. It mixed tenses in a way that wasn’t professional…but I thought that might be the voice of the character, not of the author. As it progressed, the writing became much stronger. Again, I’m not sure if that’s because the character or the author (or the translator)  improved, but either way, I’ll take it. :)

The book is like a whole season of The Walking Dead. I found the feel pretty similar…while some things were perhaps too convenient, it’s generally not unrealistic. I particularly empathized with the main character’s relationship with a pet cat.

I did find the translation to be a bit awkward…sometimes English idiom would be used correctly, sometimes it didn’t seem natural. That said, getting a European perspective on the situation was really nice, and quite different from many American takes. For example, there was this:

“The United States has called up the National Guard. What you see on the satellite channel is amazing — armed troops patrolling New York, Chicago, Boston, and so on. Those Americans are crazy. What’ll that accomplish? Scare the viruses? Are they going to shoot someone? They’re overreacting, as usual.”

Overall, I found it an engaging, fast read. It will be too violent for some, but it isn’t just gore for gore’s sake. It’s much more about how the character reacts than it is about that. I always like to let people know about the use of the “F word”, and that’s here, but not really out of place. I have a lot more trouble with books that just indicate everybody is horrible, and that isn’t the case here. I like that. :)

Job opportunity: Royal Librarian

I have readers all over the world, and it would be so cool if one of them became the Royal Librarian in England!

Telegraph article by Tim Walker

The job doesn’t pay that much (£53,000 a year), but come on! 125,000 titles…at Windsor Castle? I’m not qualified, and I like what I’m doing now, but that’s a dream job for somebody…

Two more fun things to do with your Kindle Fire

I really try to keep a mix of topics in this blog, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to exclude the Fire. Interestingly to me, one of my most popular posts is Fun things to do with your new Kindle Fire HD. I’m going to add a couple of apps to it, and I thought I’d mention them here as well.

First

Vine (free)

has come to the Amazon Appstore. That’s the app for making and watching six-second videos. Can you actually make a Vine video on a Fire? Yes, but remember that the camera is really designed for Skype and videochatting. The quality of the video isn’t that high…and when you are looking at the screen, the camera is looking at you. That can make it a bit awkward.

I haven’t played with it much. I can tell you that I prefer just watching the random videos on http://www.vpeeker.com/ to the way that the app lays them out initially (where you have to scroll to see the next one)…but Vpeeker is, um…unfiltered. ;)

Second, there is

Abalone $1.99

When I managed a brick-and-mortar gamestore, we sold a lot of this…and I’ve had the physical edition of it for years. It is a two-person strategy game, but in this case, you can play against the computer.

One weird thing is that part of the real attraction of the game is the tactile feel of it. You are pushing these big, elegant marbles…and they push other marbles with a satisfying feel and sound. Of course, you don’t get the feel with the app.

However, I did like the levels of opponent skill you can choose. The beginning level will challenge you as you learn (it doesn’t take long at all to understand the rules…and there are helpful arrows on the screen), but the highest level isn’t a pushover for me (and I’d say I”m a good player). I do usually win on the highest, but it isn’t easy for me to score a shutout.

I’d say a typical child of eight could play it, and on up to adults. You can change difficulties…not just by level, as I mentioned above, but my setting a time limit and changing the number of scores it takes to win.

You can leave a game and come back to it, and that’s nice.

As far as I can tell, though, it doesn’t give you an aggregate score over time (you can’t tell what your win percentage is, or even what your current streak is, unless I’ve just missed it). It doesn’t always properly recognize the move I am doing, although that’s easy enough to fix.

I’d recommend this if you like something that just relies on thinking, not on how quick you can twitch. ;)

7-11 will pay you to watch an ad

Okay, yes, this is another Kindle Fire thing, but I did find it interesting. If you go your Offers on your Fire, you can see it. What happens is that you watch an ad from 7-11…and they give you a $3 credit to buy MP3s from Amazon. It’s tied into their “Slurpee Dance” promotion for July 11th…you know, 7-11 (um, at least in the USA…in most of the world, that would be November 7th). ;)

What age group reads the most p-books?

Which group would you think reads more p-books (paperbooks): those over or under 30 years old?

It may surprise you, but according to this

Pew research report by Kathryn Zickuhr, Lee Rainie and Kristen Purcell

it’s the younger people.

75% of those surveyed who were between the ages of 16 and 29 (inclusive) had read a p-book in the last year…it was only 64% of those 30 and older.

The article (which I highly recommend) also shows how younger people embrace public libraries. I don’t want to take too much away from it, but I will mention one more. While 75% of the younger group had read a p-book in the past year, only 25% had read an e-book. There was likely a lot of overlap there…the same people might read p-books and e-books, of course. Still, a three to one comparison might seem odd. I do think it’s possible that e-books appeal more to older people than to younger people at this point…some of the key advantages (lighter to hold, increasable font size) aren’t as significant for your typical 25 year old as they are for your typical 75 year old. Not enough data to draw that conclusion, though…that’s just my guess. :)

Still, this information may make a lot of people more hopeful about the future…

What do you think? Is this the beginning (or maybe the middle) of the end for B&N (or at least the NOOK)? Does it surprise you that younger people might read more p-books than those thirty and over? Have you ever played Abalone? Does how much a book costs affect whether or not you borrow it from the KOLL? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting non this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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3 Responses to “Round up #185: royal librarian, B&N CEO steps down”

  1. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Well the BN resignation was not particularly surprising. Reading a WSJ article on the post-Lynch reporting structure to Chairman Leonard Riggio, it struck me how oddly and disjointed BN is structured.

    It would not surprise me if going forward BN retreats back into the college book business, and contracts the BN consumer bookstore network markedly. Also whatever residual ebook interest they have may be sold. Both Microsoft and John Malone’s Liberty media have expressed interest in this in the past (we’ll see :grin)

    One reason young people may resort more to pbooks than ebooks might have to do with economics. EBR’s cost money — as do p-books. With limited disposable income young persons may have no recourse but to use the library where the pbook still (for a while longer) reigns supreme.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Well, B&N’s stock was up about 5% today…as I was guessing (and I’m not always right on stocks, certainly), the investors seemed to have liked it.

      I think one possible way for them to go with the tradestores would be franchise them. There would be people who would buy into the franchise, and that can work very well for the franchisor…even if the franchisees constantly lose their shirts. :)

      I’m not sure that it’s economically more effective for those under 30 to use p-books. In the same way that many of them aren’t paying for Netflix because they are on the family’s account, the same thing might be true with an Amazon account. I don’t have enough data, though…

  2. 50 Kindle books for $2 each | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Round up #185: royal librarian, B&N CEO steps down […]

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