Round up #241: messy bookstores, color screens

Round up #241: messy bookstores, color screens

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

Just around the corner: a color non-tablet Kindle?

pdurrant made this interesting

MobileRead post

It has to do with noticing new job openings at

Liquavista

a company Amazon bought from Samsung in May of last year.

Why does that matter?

Liquavista makes color screens…for non-backlit devices. I prefer the term “reflective screen”, but I know that confuses some people. You read a reflective screen by the light reflecting off it…the same way you read a p-book (paperbook).

There have been a lot of challenges to bringing a color reflective screen to market. They are likely to cost more, refresh the screen more slowly, and use more battery charge.

The real question is, do people want one?

I think the answer is yes…I believe there would be a market for it.

The trick would be to make that the choice for a reflective screen device at the moderate price level.

Let’s think of it like the frontlighting on a Kindle Paperwhite.

You can get the least expensive Kindle, or you can  move up one step and get a frontlit device.

The market is supporting frontlighting.

If you had another device which was the equivalent of the Paperwhite, but didn’t have a frontlight, and was, say, $20 cheaper, which one would be more popular?

I think that’s harder to say.

If Amazon brings out a color reflective screen device, not as a more expensive upgrade, but as the next generation of device, I think that would be attractive to people.

It wouldn’t replace a tablet…it’s not going to do animation, most likely.

Many people, though, want both: a largely dedicated e-book reader, and a tablet.

I don’t think the vast majority of people would reject color for their EBR…if the costs for it (money, efficiency, and so on) were low.

Color can be useful for textbooks, and especially for magazines…which just aren’t an optimal experience on EBRs now.

We’ll see what happens, but that could really make a splash (which might not be an inappropriate term for “electrowetting” technology).😉

“Why libraries deserve to be hip”

In this

Salon article by Mary Elizabeth Williams

the author makes an argument that libraries should be more “fashionable”…

One of the points is that the author likes having the sense that a book has passed through many hands, contrasting that with a Kindle (about which the author says, “…I’m sure someday I’ll get around to getting a Kindle or an iPad”).

My adult kid at one point mentioned the same thing.

It’s an interesting perspective, and one that many people share…but many don’t.

I love that people at another time read the same book…but for me, I don’t need it to be that they read the copy in my hands.

I don’t like finding marginalia, or dog-eared pages, or broken spines.

When I read a hundred year old e-book, I can imagine how it impacted someone a hundred years ago.

However, for me, it’s a bit like Shakespeare. People forget that audiences in Shakespeare’s day weren’t hearing archaic language (to them). If you wanted to experience Shakespeare the way those audiences did, it should be written in your contemporary language…with all the slang, double entendres, and dialectical humor that would be the equivalent of what they understood.

That doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t read Shakespeare in the original! Absolutely not…I loved getting some education in Shakespeare, so that I could recognize what six “feet” in a line instead of five meant, for example.

It’s just that…revering the object on which the play (or book) is written is not the same experience as people had when it was new. For them, it was like watching television is for us today (well, Shakespeare often was more exclusive than that, especially what were essentially commissioned works, but you get the idea).

Public libraries are great, and p-books are great…but should they be fashionable? I think that might go against their special status. Libraries do not equal reading…there is a lot more to them than that, and reading a current book for pleasure may be best done for many people on an e-book. Libraries serve in part as a place of honor for books…and it makes sense to me that history there is more important than fashion.

“In praise of neat and tidy bookshops”

In a related case of variant perceptions, this

Book Riot post by Peter Damien

criticizes messy bookstores (including used bookstores).

For myself, I like my bookshelves in my floor-to-ceiling library (in my home) to be very organized…but I do have books stacked horizontally on top of other books. The shelves of mass market paperbacks may also be two or three books deep, when possible.

They are, though, in alphabetical order and organized by category, typically.

I like order…people see that as an indicator of certain psychological conditions, and I don’t dispute that. I don’t have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)…it doesn’t interfere with my life, but I do like things in order.

For example, I was once in a videostore for, oh, a good forty-five minutes or so. Finally, one of the employees trepidatiously approached me, and asked me what I was doing.

Me: “I’m alphabetizing the shelves.”

Videostore employee: “They’re already alphabetized.”

Me: “Well, all the “A”s are on the same shelf, but they aren’t alphabetical within A.”

Yep…I was going through the whole store, putting the shelves in order…and having the best time!

What makes it not compulsive is that I could stop any time (they didn’t ask me to stop, by the way). It’s just fun!🙂

That said, you might imagine I, like Peter Damien, would disdain disorganized bookstores.

Not at all…

It’s one of the attractions for me of a used bookstore (this is not the same for me in a new bookstore, by the way).

I want it to feel like I’ve made an  archaeological discovery…a lost city in the middle of the Fawcettian jungles…and I might stumble on a treasure no one has seen in decades.

Yes, I guess that’s sort of weird…but I do like it like that, and my guess is that some other people do.

I mean, some people like the dusty-musty smell in a used bookstore. Due to allergies, I’m really not one of those, but I want a sense of adventure and serendipity.

What do you think? Should your bookstores be neat? Should your libraries by trendy? Would you want a color reflective screen device, if performance and cost were roughly equivalent to a grayscale one? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

8 Responses to “Round up #241: messy bookstores, color screens”

  1. Harold Delk Says:

    Loved your video store tale. I appears to have been better received than when a friend and I moved all the Bibles in a B&N to the science fiction section. They were not amused neither with our help nor with our explanation that we were trying to help them “put things in their proper place.”

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Harold!

      There was somebody who used to come and do that in our store, too.

      I think that situation is a bit different. The people who are looking to buy the Bible in the religion section (and there are so many kinds of Bibles, we might have only a copy or two of a particular one) wouldn’t find it where you put it to make your point. That would likely result not only in the loss of the sale of that particular one, but might also make the customer believe that the store wasn’t well stocked…so they might lose them as a customer.

      While you were making your philosophical point, you were probably costing the store money. The Bible is a perennial bestseller, and I doubt that they would sell an equal number of them in the science fiction section.

      There would also be people shopping the SF section who would not like to find the Bible there…especially a large number of copies. They might be convinced that the store misfiled them…paperbacks usually had the publlishers’ intended section right on the book. Those shoppers then might also believe that the store was incompetent, and that there were science fiction books they weren’t seeing.

      Let’s say you walked into a store, planning to buy a copy of The Origin of Species. It wasn’t in the science section, because someone felt that it belonged in fantasy…or, for that matter, religion (I’ve heard that argument). You probably wouldn’t go hunting for it in other sections, and might believe the store wouldn’t serve your needs.

      In other words, and sure, I may be prejudiced because my living depended on my serving my customers well when I was a bookstore manager (and that means taking their expectations into account, regardless fo my personal opinion of the classification of a book), I can understand why amusement wouldn’t have been their reaction…

  2. Tom Semple Says:

    Liquivista screen works with or without a backlight. The main advantages over conventional screens are 1) better readability outdoors, and 2) lower power consumption (when no backlight or high performance is required). Production costs should be low as it can use existing manufacturing infrastructure. It will do video, animation, etc. While they say it has ‘vibrant’ color, from the video and pictures I’ve seen, it is not nearly as good as conventional screens, which probably limits applications.

    Still it will be interesting to see if it reaches market on a dedicated ereader device (optimized for low power consumption, light weight, readability in all environments) or as a full blown tablet that offers ‘everywhere’ readability and more frugal power consumption, while trading off some display quality (smaller color gamut or resolution).

    http://www.liquavista.com/media/1984/BrochureNew_small.pdf

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      It’s going to be interesting to see what capabilities are actually delivered in a commercial product. I think the last time I saw (online) video demonstrated on a Liquivista, it was pretty good, but not like a backlit device. Of course, I think that was back in 2010…maybe I need to look into a more recent demo.🙂

  3. Edward Boyhan Says:

    Have I said how much I enjoy your “round up” posts. In this one I could comment on all three items, but I’ll just add some more to Tom Semple’s comments about Liquavista.

    I can’t believe it’s only been nine months since Amazon acquired Liquavista from Samsung (it feels much longer). I went to their web site, but most of the material there is 4-5 years old. I wonder what improvements they’ve made in the interim?

    They are looking to hire 10-15 product management, operations, and manufacturing staff. Several have commented that this represents a delay, and a return to R&D in the Netherlands. If you look at the individual job postings on the Liquavista web site these new hires will be located in Eindhoven, Lab126, and Asia. The nature of the hires is not R%D, but product management, and manufacturing. Several of the positions will require extensive international travel.

    This is clearly not an R&D focused hire, but a ramp up of some kind of third party manufacturing in Asia. The question is whether this is a product sampling effort or a ramp to a full product introduction. Assuming all these positions are filled by the end of March (optimistic?) that would give them six months to ramp up to a new product launch in October 2014 — seems overly ambitious to me.

    The liquavista technology has several advantages, and several disadvantages. One big advantage is on the manufacturing side. These displays can be run down lines very similar to those used for LCDs, but in many respects electrowetting is simpler, and (if you don’t have a backlight), then the quality assurance is much easier as precise registration of the panel layers won’t be as much of an issue (you won’t have any of the flash lighting, and other lighting artifacts that plague high end LED LCDs).

    Power draw: they compare it to OLEDs. If the OLED isn’t displaying much motion, then they have lower power consumption, if the OLED has a lot of motion, then power consumption is higher than Liquavista. Liquavista power consumption is fairly low, and fairly constant — no matter what is being displayed.

    Motion Video: Liquavista claimed pixel switching times of around 20 ms. The standard these days for high quality video is 60 frames/second which requires a pixel switching time of around 16 ms. Liquavista can do about 50 frames/second. Tellingly, all of the demos of motion on their web site are cartoons where frame rate is not as noticeable.

    Muted color: This is a fact of life for all reflective technologies. Four color offset printing is perhaps the epitome of the best that can be accomplished using reflection. Liquavista is far from this. Color vibrancy will be best — the brighter the incident lighting — ie outside in sunlight.

    Liquavista displays can be flexible (bendable) and transparent — so may lead to some out of the box product developments. Almost all of the displays that have been demoed are small (less than 6-7 inches). I’m wondering if Amazon isn’t targeting this NOT at the EBR product category, but perhaps a phone, or a remote to go with a rumored set top box product?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      I’m so glad you said that! I’ve always sort of assumed that people like the Round-ups, but I really appreciate you letting me know that you do.

      That’s a great technical analysis!

      A phone would be an excellent use of the screen! While many people are used to vibrant color HD video, having animation (and numbers, for that matter) that you could read outside on a phone? That could be a very disruptive product, similar to the original Kindle. With a phone, you’d have to include some sort of lighting option…we use them in the dark too often (like waking up with them next to the bed). Frontlighting might work well…

  4. rogerknights Says:

    Videostore employee: “They’re already alphabetized.”

    Me: “Well, all the “A”s are on the same shelf, but they aren’t alphabetical within A.”

    Yep…I was going through the whole store, putting the shelves in order…and having the best time!

    So I’m not the only one!

    (I got into the habit while working as a page in a library as a kid.)

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Roger!

      Welcome, fellow weirdo!😉

      Gee, I picture you standing there in the library as Tom Sawyer with a paintbrush…you know, being a specific page.🙂

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