To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: ebooks
From: David Adams <>
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2010 14:50:56 +1100
There are a lot of pros and cons to ebooks, apps, and paper guides. A
few points, in no particular order:

* Paper has been working great for a long time. To make an electronic
format better, the new system needs to improve on real life. That's a
tall order. Electronic field guides manage this by integrating sounds,
pictures, and search along with greater portability.

* Authors and publishers need to make money - this hasn't been so easy
using PDF and other ebook formats. (Many, if not most, manuscripts are
actually sent to printers as PDF or Postscript files so it's not as
though the production of the PDF is the hard part. With something like
an iPhone App, the anti-piracy stuff is build in kind of seamlessly.
It doesn't get in your way much as a purchaser but you can't get
around it easily either. This has made it possible for (some) authors
to make money, even when selling apps at a low price. (Birding guides
aren't sold at low prices, sadly.)

* I've used Australian and US field guides on an iPod Touch now and
they're *great* to have. For the US one (iBird Explorer Pro), having
plates, photos and sounds all in one place is incredibly great.

* Books are heavy. Too heavy. I have close to entire book boxes I'd
like to take to some destinations. If I could only take a few on paper
and the rest in my pocket or backpack, that would be great.

* The electronic field guides I have work well, I suspect, because I'm
already familiar with the birds of North America and Australia enough
to make them useful. If I were going someplace entirely unfamiliar,
trying to narrow down what bird I'd seen on a tiny screen would drive
me mad pretty quickly. (A short drive on a good day, granted.)

* It's not an either-or situation, I see plenty of uses for paper and
electronic guide, I'm thrilled when I have a choice.

* Yeah, platform wars and risks. It looks like iOS will be around,
Android looks like it's getting a lot of momentum and Microsoft has
enough money to make Windows 7 a player, eventually. Why does this
matter? Well, developers are writing apps for the platforms that they
think they can make money off of, pure and simple. Right now that's
iOS #1 and Android #2.

* I don't know about ereaders much and the companies that are big in
that space are pretty secretive about their actual unit sales.

* You really have to try out one of these electronic field guide apps
to see how great they are and how much better than a rendering of a
regular book as a PDF or some such.

* Yeah, note-taking would be nice, I think we'll see more and more
integration of that sort in the's still relatively early

* A smart phone is a bit small...I wish Apple would make a 7 inch iPod Touch.

* Batteries :( The smaller the device, the less space there is for
battery. Color is also a huge drain. So, the iPad gets rave reviews
for lasting 10+ hours on a charge. A black-and-white ereader can go
for weeks on a charge - and they're dead tiny.

* Gadgets are great. Until they get wet, break, get stolen, or lost.

* I'd really like to see an electronic version of Pizzey available.

* Can't people in Aus buy stuff from the US Apple Store? I'm not sure,
I have accounts at both but I also have access to a mailing address in
the US for that sort of thing.

Overall, I think it's great to have more choice.

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