September 23, 2009

Can't complete your KBN registration? Maybe it's your darn spamblocker.

It looks like some philosophers, radio announcers and politicians are having trouble completing their KBN registration because they cannot receive their KBN e-mail confirmation. Bummer. The problem seems to be that they have set up some sort of spamblocker on their e-mail which is not all that smart about identifying actual spam, and blocks out the incoming registration notice coming from
    If that has happened to you we hope you have somehow figured it out by now and have told your anti-spam service to let any message from KBN's through the gate. Or, you can perhaps look in the e-mail folder that holds your incoming spam and see if you can find your KBN registration notice there.
    Finally, before you try to register with KBN, if you have a spamblocker on your system be sure to inform it to add our address to your let-it-in "whitelist." That way you can complete your registration and start downloading your free books from the KBN library.

September 2, 2009

Do the math.

We don't want to appear anti-technology by proposing that the classic paper book is still the most advanced and flexible technological form today for reading with both efficiency and pleasure.
      Some years ago we bought and deployed the first general purpose PCs in American business, and we have always appreciated the opportunities and possibilities inherent in new technology. But each new form of communications technology that comes along doesn't necessarily replace a previous technology.
    Gurus and pundits with gravelly voices announced that the arrival of television in 1948 would mean the end of radio. But 50 years later the radio industry was more prosperous than ever.
      So what's wrong with the idea that electronic books of one form or another will soon replace classic paper books? A number of factors are easily miscalculated.
      Do the math.
      Let's start with a look at the new, improved electronic book device that will almost certainly come out next week or next month, and let's call it the Dwindle. The Dwindle will cost approximately $200. If the buyer reads 100 books with the Dwindle before it becomes obsolete in one or two years, that would be pretty darn good. Let's say the Dwindle reader pays $8 bucks for each electronic book he reads, inexpensive compared to the cost of any conventional hardback novel today. But the total cost for one person to read 100 books is now $1000.
      The bottom line, then, is that 100 electronic book-reads costs $1000. Got that?
      Now let's say we take the same thousand bucks and buy 50 hardback on-paper novels or 50 non-fiction works in history, philosophy or science. But these novels or other works are stored on paper, which won't become obsolete in two years. They might be around and still very readable for ten or even a hundred years. And in a school or public library, it's quite possible that in ten years at least 10 people might read these humble on-paper books.
      This means that, for the same $1000 investment, instead of just 100 book-reads, you might get the investment payback of 500 books read by book readers. Which means, of course, that classic paper-format books today are still about 5 times as cost-efficient as the snazzy electronic Dwindle.
      Plus, you've got all the other advantages.
      For example, if you absentmindedly leave your current paper book on the seat of a taxi, or it gets beach sand in its circuitry or eaten by your dog, you're don't have to immediately shell out another $200 bucks for another Dwindle.
     Which takes us to the next issue, recycling.
     Most paper today is recycled, used over and over. So your dog-eaten paper novel might return a few months later as a new novel, or as almost anything else people do with paper today. Environmentally-speaking, then, the classic paper format for narrative and data storage is pretty clean.
     But we can't quite say the same yet for your pricy Dwindle.
     Reducing the toxic pollution of landfill sites from lead in the circuits of obsolete electronic equipment is becoming a significant issue. On a global basis, many millions of outdated computers and other electronic components with lead-solder circuitry are dumped in landfill sites each year. And rate of pollution will only worsen with present technology.
      The simple paper book, on the other hand, is completely lead- and battery-free.
      We're not saying that the paper book will someday replace the Dwindle completely. Technology will evolve, costs and prices will drop, and users will identify new uses of convenience. Just like television, the advantages of compact electronic text-face products will eventually find their mature media niche.
      But the classic paper-based book will also continue to prosper. And as a way to experience reading, in new forms like the KBN neobook, it is likely become more popular than ever.