by Joseph T. Sin­clair

Tac­til­i­ty, vis­i­bil­i­ty, facil­i­ty! One can only con­clude that elec­tron­ic books are the future, and it’s just a mat­ter of time before print­ed books dis­ap­pear, relics of a bygone mil­len­ni­um. Ebooks have already replaced print­ed books in How2 and many oth­er gen­res. Ama­zon has 41% of all book sales, and they sell more ebooks than print­ed books. Ebooks have made an amaz­ing pen­e­tra­tion of the book mar­ket in just a mere decade.

Con­se­quent­ly, this blog is devot­ed to elec­tron­ic books because they are the future of pub­lish­ing. But pub­lish­ing isn’t the same with dig­its as it is with print. There are many more pos­si­bil­i­ties due to the real­i­ty that elec­tron­ic books can accom­mo­date diverse media. Books will nev­er be the same, and twen­ty years hence we will have expe­ri­enced the ini­ti­a­tion of a rich media book pub­lish­ing indus­try. Yet today we are still at the begin­ning.

This blog intends to explore the pos­si­bil­i­ties, new tech­nolo­gies, new soft­ware, new hard­ware and new mar­ket­ing for elec­tron­ic books. Or to put it blunt­ly, I believe print­ed books are in their death throes, and are no longer worth pay­ing much atten­tion to even though book print­ing will remain a viable indus­try for a few more years.

With the above in mind, we can get start­ed with this blog.

Joseph T. Sin­clair


by Joseph T. Sin­clair

Peo­ple don’t like to read on their com­put­ers. Dis­com­fort! Peo­ple use desk­top com­put­ers sit­ting in a chair view­ing a mon­i­tor on a desk. This is a work­ing posi­tion. Lap­tops are more flex­i­ble in regard to posi­tion­ing one’s body for read­ing, but they are still large and bulky, designed more for work­ing than for com­fort­able read­ing.

Tablets, how­ev­er, are at least as com­fort­able as print­ed books, and I believe more so. Full-size (10-inch) tablets are a lit­tle larg­er than most books but nonethe­less have only one view­able page, not two. You can use them eas­i­ly in almost any com­fort­able body posi­tion. Mini-tablets (7-inch) are about the same size as the aver­age book but again have only one page. The size and con­fig­u­ra­tion of tablets facil­i­tate com­fort­able read­ing at least as much as books do. Indeed, this char­ac­ter­is­tic is one of their major fea­tures.

Don’t over­look smart­phones. It turns out that more peo­ple read on smart­phones than on tablets. And phones are the ulti­mate con­ve­nient device for facil­i­tat­ing read­ing any­where and every­where.

Con­sid­er also the stor­age bonus. Each sum­mer I went to a home away from home for two months and luged three full box­es of books with me. Each year the books got heav­ier and the gas to trans­port them got more expen­sive. At home with five floor-to-ceil­ing book­shelves, I have run out of space for books and have an addi­tion­al four full box­es of books in my office—more in my garage. At my sum­mer place, where there are no book­shelves, I stack the books on the floor. After the sum­mer of 2013, I decid­ed, no more print­ed books.

The Kin­dle holds hun­dreds of ebooks. Tablets and phones can hold many more depend­ing on how much mem­o­ry one wants to buy. Mem­o­ry cost much less than book­shelves and takes up no room. Tablets and phones seem des­tined to free up tens of mil­lions of square feet of floor space now devot­ed to book­shelves.

But books are cheap, and tablets are expen­sive, right? Not real­ly! Tablets are not even ten years old, and a new Kin­dle Fire (amaz­ing res­o­lu­tion) is only $49.

But from a pover­ty stand­point, $49 may be expen­sive. Nev­er­the­less, most orig­i­nal tablet own­ers trade up for new­er mod­els and flood the pre­owned (used) mar­ket with plen­ty of nice qual­i­ty tablets avail­able at a low cost (e.g., under $20 on eBay). There is no short­age of tablets for any­one, rich or poor, who wants one. Already well more than half of US house­holds own at least one tablet.

As for smart­phones, over two bil­lion peo­ple own them, a fig­ure that’s esti­mat­ed to grow to four bil­lion in just a few more years. Over 75% of US adults own a smart­phone. About 95% of adults own a cell phone, if not a smart­phone.

Tablets and phones facil­i­tate com­fort and space-sav­ing con­ve­nience. If you don’t own a tablet now, you will soon. And you prob­a­bly already read on your phone. The reduced cost of books (i.e., ebooks) for poor peo­ple who acquire tablets and phones are facil­i­tat­ing a boom in learn­ing and lit­er­a­cy.

Indeed, smart­phones and tablets will facil­i­tate a new age of read­ing, spread­ing Gutenberg’s move­able type to every per­son on earth.


The author of this arti­cle, Joseph T. Sin­clair, is the author of twen­ty How To books pub­lished by nation­al pub­lish­ers.

For low-cost non-exclu­sive reprints rights for this arti­cle, con­tact sales@AuthorsAndPublishersDigitalReview.


©2014 Joseph T. Sin­clair. All rights reserved.


by Joseph T. Sin­clair

Ebooks are now eas­i­er to read than print­ed books. They are more vis­i­ble, in effect. There is one caveat. Dif­fer­ent ebook sys­tems look best in dif­fer­ent light­ing sit­u­a­tions. Let’s look at the orig­i­nal Kin­dle first.

The orig­i­nal Kin­dle uses liq­uid ink, not an LCD back­lit screen. The liq­uid ink needs light in order to pro­vide easy read­ing. Thus, it works well in sun­light (e.g., at the beach) and in well-lit rooms in day­light. At night indoors it needs a lamp close by. The more ambi­ent light in the room, the brighter the lamp needs to be. How­ev­er, if the ambi­ent light is bright enough in the room, a lamp is not need­ed. This is a dig­i­tal read­ing sys­tem that favors a sub­stan­tial light source.

The tra­di­tion­al flat screen LCD screens (e.g, com­put­er mon­i­tor) are back­lit. With pro­longed read­ing they tend to cause eye­strain, par­tic­u­lar­ly with black type on a white back­ground. Peo­ple gen­er­al­ly don’t like to read much on com­put­er mon­i­tors (includ­ing lap­tops). The pri­ma­ry rea­son is eye­strain. There is a lack of con­ve­nient screen con­trols for many desk­top com­put­ers and the soft­ware that goes with them. As a result, you can­not be con­ve­nient­ly dim the back­light to avoid eye­strain, and most of the soft­ware doesn’t fea­ture non-white back­grounds for text.

Smart phones and tablets (e.g., Kin­dle Fire) have LCD screens. Because they are back­lit, they are very read­able when out of the sun­light, par­tic­u­lar­ly indoors and at night. They need no exter­nal light­ing, such as a lamp, even in the dark. And in sun­light you can even read LCD screens in the shade unless there’s a lot of ambi­ent glare.

Phones and tablets, such as the iPhone and iPad, solve the eye­strain prob­lem. They are designed for read­ing as well as for oth­er dig­i­tal activ­i­ties. One can eas­i­ly adjust the back­light­ing to avoid eye­strain. Some soft­ware (e.g., read­ing apps) adjusts the back­light­ing or back­ground col­or auto­mat­i­cal­ly. Most book apps or ebook read­ers fea­ture non-white read­ing back­grounds, and some soft­ware even pro­vides sev­er­al choic­es of read­ing-friend­ly back­grounds.

Don’t over­look anoth­er fac­tor: res­o­lu­tion. The orig­i­nal com­put­er mon­i­tor res­o­lu­tion was 72 ppi (pix­els per inch). Late­ly, it is more often 96 ppi. This res­o­lu­tion is ade­quate for read­ing and for view­ing attrac­tive col­or pho­tographs, at least at a dis­tance. But most tablets have at least 140 ppi with 180 ppi being more the norm. And the newest tablets have LCD screens with between 210 ppi and 350 ppi. Bedaz­zling! Com­mer­cial qual­i­ty col­or print is 240 dpi (dots per inch – com­pa­ra­ble to pix­el per inch) with 300 dpi con­sid­ered very high qual­i­ty. Thus, tablets can now pro­vide the same vivid­ness as high-qual­i­ty col­or print­ing with very high res­o­lu­tion. High res­o­lu­tion relieves eye­strain and pro­motes read­ing enjoy­ment.

What about smart phones? They typ­i­cal­ly have high­er res­o­lu­tion than tablets. Thus, col­or images are vivid, and print is very high res­o­lu­tion.

Are smart phones and tablets suit­able for read­ing? They are bet­ter than desk­top mon­i­tors and lap­top screens and as good or bet­ter than print.

We’re in a new age of dig­i­tal read­ing.




©2018 Joseph T. Sin­clair. All rights reserved.


by Joseph T. Sin­clair

Men­tion ebooks and the first response of the non-eliterati is, “I like the tac­tile feel of books. I don’t want to give that up for a device. I want to hold a book in my hands.” This is a weak argu­ment, in my opin­ion, put forth by the uber Lud­dites of the read­ing pub­lic of which there are many.

Indeed, it’s a trite argu­ment first expressed by the tra­di­tion­al literati on Day One some­time back in the 1990s. But I doubt that in the future tac­til­i­ty will dic­tate how we read. Yet I’m now will­ing to con­cede tac­til­i­ty is a fac­tor.

What about the tac­til­i­ty of tablets? My first tablet many years ago was an iPad 2 10-inch. For a num­ber of rea­sons, I found read­ing books on the iPad very sat­is­fy­ing, a sur­prise real­ly. Not least of all is that it felt good. It was easy to hold and about the size of one book page. A tac­tile rev­e­la­tion!

But the iPad seemed a lit­tle too big, too heavy, and too thick. Minor com­plaints. But then tac­til­i­ty itself is ulti­mate­ly a minor con­sid­er­a­tion.

My next tablet was a Sam­sung Tab 2  7-inch which I came to feel was a bet­ter size. When I reached for a tablet to read, watch a movie, or do a lit­tle casu­al web surf­ing, I seemed to reach for the Tab 2, not the iPad 2. This had to do with size, not Apple or Android. Yet the Tab 2 seemed a lit­tle too small, too heavy, and too thick. What now?

Next, I pur­chased a Tab S 8-inch. It was just the right size, the right thick­ness, and not too heavy. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, recent­ly I man­aged to destroy my Tab S and looked for an updat­ed tablet to buy.

Samsung’s lat­est tablet at this date is the Tab S3, which hap­pens to be a 10-inch tablet. It’s very thin. It’s not too heavy. But it’s a lit­tle big for me. I would pre­fer to have an 8-inch tablet, but Sam­sung doesn’t make an 8-inch S3. Nonethe­less, I find my Tab S3 a very ele­gant read­ing and view­ing device. And its tac­til­i­ty, although dif­fer­ent than a print­ed book, has its own attrac­tion.

Apple, of course, offers tablets com­pa­ra­ble to Sam­sung: thin, light, and ele­gant. And oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ers also make com­pa­ra­ble tablets.

So tac­til­i­ty does mat­ter. The prob­lem print­ed books have, as I now see it, is that the Tab S3 has supe­ri­or tac­til­i­ty to any book I’ve ever read. It’s the thin­ness; it’s the one-book-page size; and to a less­er extent, it’s the light weight. Thus, I now cau­tious­ly agree that tac­til­i­ty is an issue with read­ing, but the Tab S3 and com­pa­ra­ble tablets win, not print­ed books. Of course, there are and will be many more tablets like the Tab 3: the size you want and thin­ner and lighter.

Or to state it con­cise­ly, I now have lit­tle doubt that an up-to-date tablet is a tac­tile expe­ri­ence supe­ri­or to print­ed books.



©2018 Joseph T. Sin­clair. All rights reserved.


Copyright 2018 Joseph T. Sinclair. All rights reserved.