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E-Books On a $20 Cell Phone

timothy posted about two weeks ago | from the embracing-constraints dept.

Books 116

An anonymous reader writes "Moon+ Pro Reader, FBReader, Kindle, you name it--many popular Android e-book apps can run on a smartphone available for $20 and shipping. The trick is to respect the device's limits and keep down the number of apps you install. This fun isn't for eager multitaskers. On the bright side, the $20 phone can do Acapela TTS, includes a 4GB memory card and works with cards of up to 32GB--easily enough for scads of pre-loaded books. Plus, the WiFi is great. And the screen of 3.2 inches isn't that much smaller than the 3.5 inchers on the older iPads. What could cell phone e-reading mean in the many "book deserts" of the U.S.? And how about the U.K. where miserly pols are closing libraries even though the Guardian says "a third of UK children do not own a single book and three-quarters claim never to read outside school"? The smartphone post on the LibraryCity site tells how librarians and others could start "cell phone book clubs" to promote the discovery and absorption of books as well as smarter use of technology."

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Seriously? (5, Insightful)

drdread66 (1063396) | about two weeks ago | (#47815301)

Reading e-books two or three lines at a time on a 3.2-inche screen would turn anyone off of reading. If you're trying to interest people in reading more, it's going to have to be a pleasant experience.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815469)

That is exactly how I enjoy reading: few lines of large print I flick through at a reasonable pace. My eyes often go to the wrong line when read larger books and smaller print. I also prefer the weight and size of my phone over a book. Also, I am annoyed by the effort it takes to keep a paperback open wide enough to see the text closest to the spine.

Re:Seriously? (1)

butalearner (1235200) | about two weeks ago | (#47815647)

I used to read on a Droid Eris (2009 phone with a 3.2" screen), and it was perfectly fine for my purposes. Well, not for the Kindle app. That worked very slowly at first, then they "upgraded" it and it was unusable. Aldiko worked and looked great, though. In fact, that was pretty much all that phone was used for after a while, since it wasn't connected to any cell phone service. With it on airplane mode, the wifi off, and the brightness at minimum, the battery would last several days. I've since graduated to an old Droid Incredible with a 3.7" screen, which felt huge at first. Put the latest Cyanogenmod on there with the same settings, install Aldiko, and you're golden.

Granted, I couldn't imagine using a 3.2" screen if I needed a larger font, and my Nook Touch is a whole lot more pleasant, but the phone is easier to carry around, so I ended up reading on it more often than the e-reader. The only bad part is losing your place; it's difficult to control the little slider to get back to where you were even on large screens...on the tiny screens it's painful.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47819905)

Exactly.

Re:Seriously? (3, Interesting)

Bohnanza (523456) | about two weeks ago | (#47815511)

Reading e-books two or three lines at a time on a 3.2-inche screen would turn anyone off of reading

I prefer to read on my phone over any other format. I can hold it and turn pages with one hand, and since only one paragraph fits on a page, I never lose my place even if I am distracted. I read MUCH faster on my phone than when reading from a paper book.

My current phone is bigger, but I read many books on my Iphone 3, with a screen size of only 3.5 inches, so I think the experience would be similar with these small phones.

And I am not alone, e-reader apps have always been among the most popular.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47816289)

You have no idea what you're talking about until you've read a book on an Archos Jukebox using the RockBox mod.

Re:Seriously? (1)

AC-x (735297) | about two weeks ago | (#47815527)

3.2" is a bit small, but you don't need a massive screen either. I read many books on my Nexus S, even though it only has a 4" 233ppi screen it was fine for reading on.

Re:Seriously? (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about two weeks ago | (#47819573)

I've tried a 4" screen but found it to be too much strain. I now use a samsung media player 5 and the 5" screen is just about perfect and it fits my pocket fine. I think it really is a matter of personal preference and with all the variable size tablets and phones available I think anyone can be happy.

Re:Seriously? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about two weeks ago | (#47815541)

If my eyes were on their way out, such a small screen would be truly brutal; but if smallish print isn't an issue small screens really aren't bad(for texts that reflow well, PDFs, technical documentation, images/diagrams, etc. are a total clusterfuck). Back in the day, I burned through a lot of Project Gutenberg stuff with my Visor Edge [wikimedia.org] (mine was silver; but same 160x160 pixel screen) and Weasel Reader. Slim, light, good battery life, backlight was alien-abduction-green but perfectly functional, and zTXT format stored a small library even in the teeny sliver of storage that classic PalmOS devices offered.

Barring the (legitimate and serious; but only if you are one) case of the visually impaired and dealing with documents that reflow poorly, you can do surprisingly well with seriously lousy specs.

Re:Seriously? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about two weeks ago | (#47815545)

I used to read books on a Palm Pilot and I still read them on my phone. Handy for a train other idle moments although nowhere close to ideal.

Anyway, I see a $20 e-reader as something which is viable and useful particularly if governments started issuing them to kids instead of a heap of text books. It's not even clear to me why governments pay (or expect parents to pay) for text books from publishers when they could use the same money to commission the text books and then distribute them electronically and DRM-free for nothing.

Re:Seriously? (2)

pnutjam (523990) | about two weeks ago | (#47815763)

My daughters school required Ipads this year, which parents had to either purchase or rent. They indicated they would offset books by using resources on the Ipad, since the rental fee was about the same as book fees usually are.
Oddly enough, when book fees came out, hers were twice the normal amount.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815601)

I like small phones ( they fit safely in the back pocket of my jeans, I wish more manufacturers would make them ).
I read books for about an hour every night on my 3.5" screen Acer Liquid Z2.

Have you tried doing the thing you are complaining about ?

Re:Seriously? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about two weeks ago | (#47815687)

Not at all. My first foray into ebooks was way back on an old Sony Clie back in the PalmOS days.

Re:Seriously? (2)

Dan East (318230) | about two weeks ago | (#47815707)

I've read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, and dozens of other ebooks, on a Blackberry Pearl, which has a 2.25" screen. It's really not that bad. The text size / appearance is the same as anywhere else, you just have to manually interact with it more often. But, the smaller the device, the easier it is to comfortably hold and thus easier interact with to turn pages.

Re:Seriously? (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about two weeks ago | (#47815749)

Recent studies show some people have less trouble reading on a small screen. I love reading on a small screen. I've been using ebooks since I got my hands on a palm m505. http://www.fastcoexist.com/167... [fastcoexist.com]

Re:Seriously? (2)

MacTO (1161105) | about two weeks ago | (#47815907)

Reading on a 3.2" screen isn't all that bad, but I wouldn't present that as a solution for children. Books for the youngest are illustrated, and present part of the story as part of those illustrations. Early chapter books use larger text, presumably because the audience is still learning the shape of letters. Even later chapter books have illustrations that would be difficult to enjoy on a small screen.

Yet the real problem with closing libraries in favor of elending is the lack of availability of ebooks for lending. (That, and libraries offer much more than books.)

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47818297)

As others have said, The old Palm Pilots were where I started e-reading - I read hundreds of books on mine.

The real problem though, is getting people to want to read in the first place.

Re:Seriously? (1)

ghighi (1416473) | about two weeks ago | (#47819717)

I have read a lot of books on my Galaxy S3. A lot more on my IPhone 3G before that. A fair amount on a freaking P910i and a M600 (look them up, they have screens like your average contemporary cellphone) before all this. And on my palm Tungsten... You get the idea. The "nothing beat the paper experience" mantra and all its variation are getting old. These are books: the fun is in the words. Now that being said I now read on a 13" Yoga 2 pro and it's great too.

It is much smaller than the iPads screens (3, Insightful)

aliquis (678370) | about two weeks ago | (#47815309)

But it is much smaller than the iPads screens.

It is less than 1/9 the size of the 10" of an iPad.

Also can I expect the resolution to suck too?

Why cares? Why is this slashvertisment posted on /.?

It may not be much smaller than an old iPod Touch and maybe it doesn't have worse resolution either who knows but so what? It's still poor and shitty. Small, low-res and no e-ink.

"Shitty smartphone can do smartphone stuff although shitty" - You don't say?

I know the later may come out as trolling but .. it's just the truth.

Re:It is much smaller than the iPads screens (1)

asylumx (881307) | about two weeks ago | (#47815599)

Ya, I have to imagine they were talking about iPods and typoed the iPad --- I'm pretty sure there never was a 3.5" iPad, at least not on the market.

Also, agreed, this sounds like a very obvious slashvertisement for the specific phone they are referring to. Especially this part:

the $20 phone can do Acapela TTS, includes a 4GB memory card and works with cards of up to 32GB--easily enough for scads of pre-loaded books. Plus, the WiFi is great.

Either way, this is a terrible story.

Re:It is much smaller than the iPads screens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815961)

I've seen people read on iPod touches. They can read on a third-world cell phone if properly motivated. By poverty.

Re:It is much smaller than the iPads screens (1)

evilviper (135110) | about two weeks ago | (#47816105)

Why cares? Why is this slashvertisment posted on /.?

You really think linking to a $20 phone is a slashvertisment?

It's actually an interesting subject I've discussed around here quite a bit lately. Cheap smartphones are immensely useful, for everything from WiFi video surveillance cameras, time-lapse cameras, inventory/barcode scanners, etc. A little thinking out-of-the-box, and these dirt-cheap cellphones can replace a lot of expensive equipment.

"Shitty smartphone can do smartphone stuff although shitty" - You don't say?

That "shitty smartphone" would have been a bleeding-edge high-end $600+ smartphone ~4 years ago. It's ridiculous to claim it's useless now, when it was invaluable back then.

Re:It is much smaller than the iPads screens (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about two weeks ago | (#47816383)

It is less than 1/9 the size of the 10" of an iPad.

You either entirely missed the point of the submission or you are actually trolling despite implying that you aren't.

The $20 cell phone is less than 1/15th the cost of the cheapest iPad. There are a lot of people who don't have an extra $300 for an ebook reader and live in areas without easy access to books [laschoolreport.com] .

A $20 device may not be the best reader available, but it's affordable and provides access to books that might not be available any other way.

Why cares?

This may be hard for you to believe, but some of us aren't entirely self-centered and we actually give a shit about poor people who can't afford the same access to information that others have.

Why is this slashvertisment posted on /.?

A slashvertisement would be an article about a specific product, not a general discussion of $20 cell phones and their capability as ebook readers. If you're going to throw insults around, at least try to make them relevant to the thing you're insulting.

Re:It is much smaller than the iPads screens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47819571)

what about people who can't afford ipads? what about people who don't give ipads to all their neices and nephews for christmas? what about people who don't go to schools that provide them with free ipads? what about people who don't need an ipad or the latest 5G smartphone just to read a damn book?

did you miss all of the information and links for free e-book resources? i had to dig to find information about the actual device, because the whole point of all the articles was cheap/free e-reading, not the latest high-tech, high-priced toys for snobs.

Re:It is much smaller than the iPads screens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47819977)

Why is this marked insightful? There is nothing of value here. Point by point:

iPod, not iPad.

iPod, not iPad. Critical thinking would have helped you here, but you were too caught up in your self-righteousness to do it.

Oh no, my text is low res. Whatever will I do?

This is a how-to, not a slashvertisement. It's a great idea.

Jesus Christ, can your elitism be any more obvious? They mention kids who DON'T READ and have NO ACCESS TO LIBRARIES. Not everything is for you.

Yeah, every great idea is obvious after someone's mentioned it.

Your truth is not the truth. You are a troll whether you like it or not.

"older iPads" (3, Informative)

Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) | about two weeks ago | (#47815311)

What "older iPads" had 3.5" screens? Did you mean iPhone?

Re:"older iPads" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815363)

iPODS, genius.

Re:"older iPads" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815503)

Except the article CLEARLY states iPADs, genius.
Which is stupid and wrong, but still what it says.

Re:"older iPads" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815565)

OMG a one letter typo! SHUT. DOWN. EVERYTHING. This injustice cannot stand!

Re:"older iPads" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47816733)

Only a moron would think the article meant an iPAD since I'm sure Apple never made one with a screen the size of my nutsack.

Re:"older iPads" (1)

Nimey (114278) | about two weeks ago | (#47818383)

Nobody's ever made a tablet with a 1" screen, surely.

Re:"older iPads" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815513)

timothy, 'nuff said.

say what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815321)

Did Carlos Slim buy up Dice? Makes a lot of sense if so.

The argument for libraries: who wants them? (1)

zephvark (1812804) | about two weeks ago | (#47815331)

>how about the U.K. where miserly pols are closing libraries even though the Guardian says "a third of UK children do not own a single book and three-quarters claim never to read outside school"?

So, the argument here is that at least 75% of the children never use libraries, so libraries should be kept open? Interesting but, I'm afraid you've lost me there.

I don't really see reading books on a phone. The text is too small. On a tablet, sure, that works, and I've been very happy to dump all my shelves and shelves of books for a simple single slab of electronics.

Re:The argument for libraries: who wants them? (1)

umghhh (965931) | about two weeks ago | (#47815463)

Phones are out of the question. I also gave up on tablet though as this was too cumbersome. If I read I use either a PC or dead tree versions.

Phone-reading (1)

AC-x (735297) | about two weeks ago | (#47815561)

Phones are out of the question

Don't knock it until you've tried it; While a proper e-ink screen is nicer, new phones with large, high-res screens are really nice to read on, and even older phones aren't bad (I read loads of books on my 4" Nexus S). More importantly phones have the big advantage that you have it with you practically everywhere by default and they're almost always connected.

On a train? Read a book on your phone. Waiting in line for something? Read the same book on your phone. Waiting for a late friend? Read the same book on your phone. On the can? Read the same book on your phone. In bed? Read the same book on your phone. Finished your book? Buy/download/torrent a new one straight away.

Sure you could specifically carry round a book or e-reader everywhere you go, but that means yet one more thing to carry round and remember.

A bigger monthly bill (1)

tepples (727027) | about two weeks ago | (#47815635)

More importantly phones have the big advantage that you have it with you practically everywhere by default and they're almost always connected.

And the disadvantage that upgrading from a dumb phone to a smart phone may inflate your cellular bill by $300 per year or more. One may have to upgrade from $7/mo low-minutes voice-only service to $35/mo voice and data service if the CDMA2000 carrier refuses to activate voice-only service on a smart phone or the GSM carrier exercises a provision in the boilerplate terms of service to automatically add a data plan the subscriber's voice-only SIM [slashdot.org] .

Re:A bigger monthly bill (1)

AC-x (735297) | about two weeks ago | (#47815685)

Wow, US phone companies really have you guys by the balls eh? Anyone in Europe can swap a dumbphone for a smartphone without any contract change or even having to contact our provider.

Of course this isn't really relevant to this thread as zephvark and umghhh aren't talking about not having a smartphone, they're talking about not wanting to read on a smartphone.

Re:A bigger monthly bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47818449)

I got my first cell phone last January. It cost me $20, and I paid $10/mo for (limited) voice, text, and data.
But that phone only ran J2ME apps and was pretty restricted, so in November I got a new one for $30. Android 2.3.6, so now I can do a lot more with it.
I'm still paying the same $10/mo for my service.

Re:The argument for libraries: who wants them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815721)

I prefer pizza over ham burgers.

So no one will want ham burgers, they're out of the question.

Right.

sponsered phones. (5, Informative)

leuk_he (194174) | about two weeks ago | (#47815343)

These phones are sim-locked and sponsered by the provider. So the 20$ mark means not much, the real price is 10-40 dollars higher.

Using a phone for reading zaps through your battery life (1-3 hours) to light the screen.

But the discusssion stays, since for $99 you can get a reasonable e-paper reader. How to get content for this.... i leave to your imagination.

Re:sponsered phones. (4, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about two weeks ago | (#47815397)

For $70 you can get a fantastic e-ink reader. The 6 inch kindle with offers is $69.

Team that up with Calibre on a PC and you are all set. That is how I do all my reading now.

Re:sponsered phones. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about two weeks ago | (#47815551)

How is the modability of the Kindle firmware these days? I know earlier versions are relatively tamed at this point; but any time I see 'with offers' my loathing gland swells.

Re:sponsered phones. (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | about two weeks ago | (#47816159)

I know there are methods to remove the ads - but I have to say that when they planned this out they did it right. I've never felt a need to remove it from mine. They only show up on the home screen (where they are crazy small) and on my screen saver thing. When I'm reading there is no difference. I really don't spend any significant amount of time not actually "in" books on the thing so I forget about it. Every so often it will remind me to connect to wi-fi if I haven't done so in a long time but if it really helps keep the cost of the readers down I don't mind it at all.

I think that calibre plus the kindle means that I have access to pretty much everything. It's like having the worlds largest library in my home. And since I don't live in a country that has libraries with books in my native language that's a pretty nice thing.

And I have moved enough that I really don't want physical books much any more. There are instances where they are better but for anything I'd read as a paperback I much prefer electronic now.

Re:sponsered phones. (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | about two weeks ago | (#47816695)

How is the modability of the Kindle firmware these days? I know earlier versions are relatively tamed at this point; but any time I see 'with offers' my loathing gland swells.

I bought the B&N Nook for $99 and rooted it. Works great, I use it to study with Ankidroid.

Re:sponsered phones. (1)

Nimey (114278) | about two weeks ago | (#47818395)

You can always pay $20 or $30 (whichever it is) to turn off "with offers".

Then carry two devices (1)

tepples (727027) | about two weeks ago | (#47815593)

If you have to buy a device locked to a particular prepaid carrier, you could always carry it alongside your existing dumb phone, just as people who couldn't afford an iPhone used to carry a dumb phone and an iPod touch. Use the phone to make calls and the $20 PDA to read books.

Re:sponsered phones. (2)

wren337 (182018) | about two weeks ago | (#47815639)

You can pick up a CDMA smartphone with a bad ESN for next to nothing on ebay, and with wifi it's a pocket-size game and internet platform for kids. No need to activate a call plan.

Sources for books (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about two weeks ago | (#47815975)

http://www.mobileread.com/ [mobileread.com] --- forum for books where the members create nicely formatted books, and are willing to fix errors when reported
http://www.gutenberg.org/ [gutenberg.org] --- mass-produced books by the masses --- getting errors fixed is a bit more difficult, but can be made to happen

http://onlinebooks.library.upe... [upenn.edu] --- The Online Books Page, John Mark Ockerbloom's attempt to list all freely available electronic versions of printed texts.

Re:sponsered phones. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47817163)

But the discusssion stays, since for $99 you can get a reasonable e-paper reader.

I got a Kobo-mini on sale for $40. Works great Sadly, it's no longer available. But you can get a Kobo touch for $80. I would not go with locked-in Amazon product since all library books in my area are all Adobe DRM which Kindle does not work with.

Subsidies (2)

angryfeet (2876521) | about two weeks ago | (#47815349)

The phones are only that cheap because they're subsidised. If too many people bought them just for books then they would stop being so cheap.

Too small (1)

dugancent (2616577) | about two weeks ago | (#47815361)

I would rather read a book printed on business cards than a cell phone. I'll stick to my kindle, eink (most important part, I think) and a decent sized screen.

or... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about two weeks ago | (#47815375)

Generic E-Readers are cheaper than that.
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html... [ebay.com] |R40|R40&_sacat=0&LH_ItemCondition=3&_nkw=ereader&_udhi=30

You can even get used kindles for between $5 and $10

Those librarians need to kick the hobos browsing porn off the library computers so they can get on ebay.

Re:or... (1)

Nyder (754090) | about two weeks ago | (#47815509)

...>

Those librarians need to kick the hobos browsing porn off the library computers so they can get on ebay.

Great idea, pick on the homeless.

Re:or... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about two weeks ago | (#47815589)

It's a real pity that the 'lemon market' [wikipedia.org] effect is so strong on the dodgy end of the a variety of categories of electronic devices...

In terms of specs, such devices are obviously inferior to their more expensive counterparts; but you often don't need as much power as the expensive stuff offers. In terms of quality and niceties like warranty support, it can be iffy; but solid-state gear can be pretty durable once the infant mortality period is over, and if it costs little enough you can 'self insure' rather than depend on a warranty.

However, the software/firmware/localization is usually utterly dire, and the branding and details of the internal hardware are so volatile that it's hard to consistently get your hands on a given set of components reliably, and it's hard to build an OpenWRT-style 3rd-party community around them.

If the absurdly low cost of mystery-OEM pacific rim gear could be combined with the localization support and non-awfulness of 3rd-party firmware, you'd have some killer devices; but bringing the two together seems to be tricky.

Re:or... (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about two weeks ago | (#47815769)

For $20, it's a burner device ... no support.

Re:or... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about two weeks ago | (#47815815)

What on earth are you talking about? I have piles of these things (I love e-readers) they are like like MP3 players, you dump the files in flash memory and all the thing needs is a way to select files and turn the page. The Sony Ereaders are $30, are those lemons? lol
I can walk down to the local grocary store and they have them on end-caps for under $40.

Re:or... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about two weeks ago | (#47815897)

It's not that they are lemons, it's that amidst the vast sea of cheap and minimally known devices, you don't know which are or aren't lemons.

That's the lemon market effect: It doesn't mean that all devices are lemons(many aren't), it's that if you have no particularly good way of determining which are or aren't lemons, you are forced to be more cautious than would otherwise be good even of devices that are not lemons.

"Book Deserts"? WTF? (2)

c0d3g33k (102699) | about two weeks ago | (#47815413)

What could cell phone e-reading mean in the many "book deserts" of the U.S.?

Citation needed. I've never heard of this phenomenon. Sounds like a made up term to add extra drama.

Re:"Book Deserts"? WTF? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about two weeks ago | (#47815625)

I'm not certain what the category is called(there must be a term for it; but I don't move in linguistics circles); but 'book desert' is an example of a specific class of made up term, the one that is novel; but is an explicit extension of an earlier and better recognized term(the best known example I can think of is, at least in the US, the ability to add "-gate" to almost anything to imply that it is a scandal. The result is always a made up word; but it creates a direct connection to 'Watergate').

In this case, the 'root' is 'Food Desert', a term describing the areas (mostly poor urban neighborhoods, and likely some rural ones as well) where grocery stores are effectively nonexistent and the population subsists on a mixture of convenience store fare and fast food, with a variety of types of food either atypically expensive or simply unavailable. By extension, a '[something] desert' is a region where local conditions make some good that you might expect to be available based on the overall development level of a country scarce or unavailable.

Anyone know what this type of coinage is called? It isn't merely a neologism; but I don't know what the subcategory is called.

Re:"Book Deserts"? WTF? (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about two weeks ago | (#47815629)

Of course the idea is that some areas don't have libraries (and likely don't have bookstores). My current city is fairly large, 225,000 people, and basically only has one library.

Reading on computers and phones and e-readers is indeed an alternative for people who live in such areas. I love my e-reader, but just because it's easier I read on my cell phone almost as much. It may seem ridiculous, but you quickly adapt and honestly I don't really mind it. It works for fiction, not so much for a cookbook or programming book or something where you'd want to flip back and look over pages.

Citation for "book deserts" ... (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about two weeks ago | (#47815803)

Re:Citation for "book deserts" ... (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | about two weeks ago | (#47818045)

Yeah, that's pretty much the only use of the phrase I found when searching as well. One other was this: http://laschoolreport.com/comm... [laschoolreport.com]

Re:"Book Deserts"? WTF? (1)

MacTO (1161105) | about two weeks ago | (#47816025)

Sigh. May I suggest working on your reading skills? Determining meaning from context and imagery are important aspects of literacy. While they may not have a place in technical writing, where the precision of language is essential, they do allow for more engaging reading experiences.

Re:"Book Deserts"? WTF? (1, Troll)

c0d3g33k (102699) | about two weeks ago | (#47817933)

Sigh. Another /. response that opens with a veiled insult in the form of an ad hominem argument. I hope your self esteem got a little boost, person who is clearly better than I.

The problem wasn't determining the intended meaning of the phrase. That was pretty clear: it implied that "many" areas in the US are literary wastelands devoid of life and nourishment (for the mind) with haggard readers thirsting for relief crawling slowly along in the dirt, bathed in the harsh life-sapping light of modern media, hoping to come upon an oasis. I get it.

The problem is, this isn't a poem or creative piece of prose where such imagery can provide a more engaging reading experience. It's a summary set in the real world about a cheap smartphone with ereader software installed and a statement about the potential impact of said phone (in the real world). So dramatic language isn't warranted unless there are actually many places in the US suffering so horribly from lack of real books that this phone and ereader meets a pressing social need. I see little evidence in the real world (via much traveling, talking to people, watching the news, reading the news, listening to the news, reading books and magazines, visiting used bookstores swimming in donations, looking around me at parks/on the bus/at the beach/etc.) that this is actually true.

So it comes across as overly wrought handwringing with no real basis in fact. It should read in the voice of the sad persona of the Mayor of Halloween Town [wikia.com] to help people really feel the intended emotion.

If there is some truth to it, another solution might be for some enterprising socially minded entrepeneur to come up with a viable way to move books from where they are in oversupply to places where there's a dearth (and more importantly, demand). Or people could just, you know, order cheap used books from Amazon and have them delivered right to their doorstep.

moD 3own (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815415)

was what got me you down. It wa5 official GNAA irc Do, and with any

Answer - The E Dumbing Down Of Society {ModMe} (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815429)

As a an early adopter of the the first i pod touch I shelled out 600 dollars Australian with the intention that within a matter of months a decent .pdf reader and asociated apps would spring up allowing me to reads books and all of the scientific literature i could get my hands on. The E reader and the true in you pocket democratization of information was the true killer app of this new wave of technology... At least i thought. Instead a slew of social network, picture sharing casino gaming apps sprung up and kids just idle away not knowing the true spring of knowledge at their finger tips.

I really blame Apple and their fear of lawsuits, combined with businesses protecting ruthlessly their corners of the market.

Hell 7 years on i am still using SSH / Afc2 into my I devices to read eBooks. Making I tunes the only conduit for information was a stupid idea and the current literary state of technology affairs is truley sickening.

-Keegan

Re:Answer - The E Dumbing Down Of Society {ModMe} (1)

pepty (1976012) | about two weeks ago | (#47815955)

As a an early adopter of the the first i pod touch I shelled out 600 dollars Australian with the intention that within a matter of months a decent .pdf reader and asociated apps would spring up allowing me to reads books and all of the scientific literature i could get my hands on. .

-Keegan

I went the opposite route because no matter the .pdf software, scientific literature means text that can't be reflowed, tiny fonts (the subscripts and superscripts tend to be important), and needing to see the entire page at once to avoid spending more time flipping pages between the figure legend and the figure than trying to understand the content. A 10" color screen is pretty much the minimum.

Uhm, no... (1)

kenh (9056) | about two weeks ago | (#47815437)

And the screen of 3.2 inches isn't that much smaller than the 3.5 inchers on the older iPads.

You mean iPod Touch...

Re: Uhm, no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47816853)

When one can buy a non-contract month-at-a-time Android cellphone for $40 that supports the Google Play store and even has an SD slot to add a cheap 32g flash memory, the iPod touch is a dead product.

Re: Uhm, no... (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about two weeks ago | (#47817021)

If it's non-contract, why would you want to buy monthly service? Just tell me which Android phone that supports the Google Play store for only 40$. I'll get one to serve as a portable media player, screw the phone part.

What the... how is this a story? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about two weeks ago | (#47815453)

What is this I don't even

Re:What the... how is this a story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815549)

Sadly, your comment is more comprehensible than the summary.

why (1)

umghhh (965931) | about two weeks ago | (#47815455)

I mean for powers that be we are all prols. Why would any prols need any reading?

Truth (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815475)

>a third of UK children do not own a single book and three-quarters claim never to read outside school

Well, the UK *is* a nation of morons.

hSpoNge (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815499)

Fucking SERIOUSLY, editors? (1)

sootman (158191) | about two weeks ago | (#47815517)

"This fun isn't for eager multitaskers."

Fun?!? Did you perhaps mean "phone"? I really wonder sometimes if you even read the submissions at all or do you just automatically approve every Nth one.

So much for the new corporate overlords classing up the joint any.

Meh (1)

c (8461) | about two weeks ago | (#47815519)

A feature phone with a Java-based reader [albite.org] worked decently for me prior to getting an Android phone. Screen sizes wasn't huge, but as long as scrolling doesn't get in the way it's manageable.

Not sure how this is news?

Re:Meh (1)

zlexiss (14056) | about two weeks ago | (#47819459)

+1 same here, used Sensybook on my dumbphone for a few years. Calibre on the desktop to convert any format into plain text.

I prefer FBReader (1)

Shaman (1148) | about two weeks ago | (#47815615)

It's free, it's fast, it's regularly updated and the reading experience is quick and convenient. I've tried Moon+ and it's good too.

ebooks? No, but good for other uses (1)

DaveJ45 (685257) | about two weeks ago | (#47815627)

My eyesight would never accept trying to read on a screen this small.
But I have used this same approach for creating a dedicated device to assist with tracking my diabetes.
A used $20 phablet + android diabetes tracking app = great diabetes tracking device

Anyone notice there's no link to the original? (1)

Nate the greatest (2261802) | about two weeks ago | (#47815633)

For those who can't find the link to the original article, here it is: http://librarycity.org/?p=1097... [librarycity.org]

it's not a technical problem (1)

water-and-sewer (612923) | about two weeks ago | (#47815675)

It's obvious American kids aren't reading enough, and the impact and consequences of not reading are pretty well known. But this is a cultural problem, not a technical problem, and proposing a hardware solution is not the right way forward and therefore won't work.

If kids wanted to read, they could do so basically for free already by getting a free library card and going from there. New hardware won't fix this.

Re:it's not a technical problem (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about two weeks ago | (#47815827)

Your suggestion assumes all American kids have either 1.) A library within walking distance, 2.) Access to transportation.

Re:it's not a technical problem (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about two weeks ago | (#47816923)

I'm getting a bit worried to be honest, these days I'm running into more and more people of all ages, but younger people in particular, who almost proudly admit they don't read for pleasure.

Sounds uselesss to me (2)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | about two weeks ago | (#47815689)

I have a phone with a 3.5" screen. It's just about useless for e-reading. Also, the idea that if all the troubled youth were just given books they'd read them is bogus. They *can't* read and if they could they still wouldn't want to.

Re:Sounds uselesss to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47816609)

The funny thing is that the current Gen is probably MORE literate then others. Most of their social structure lives on social networking sites, to the point that they probably have more discourse by the written word then their parents or grandparents, who may have not written anything longer then a note or their name since high school.

I used to read on a 3 inch palm Tungsten E, and managed to make it through most of HG Wells collected works just fine (in spite of the damn thing's Backlight Whine)

expose kids to the written word and don't make reading a chore, while making it easier to accomplish, and you got a stew going.

Re:Sounds uselesss to me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47817363)

Youth won't read until they aren't forced to by their schools. I was forced to read all the literary classics, most of which are depressing and a product of their own time. Their biting commentary on the state of things is lost on the current generation that isn't living through it. As a result, you couldn't get me to go near a book. But I would read. I'd read the news, I'd read useful articles, I chatted all the time in the dark days of text only, and I'd read things that helped me achieve something I wanted to do. Reading for pleasure is still something I haven't got the hang of because it is a means to an end, not a leisure activity. And I 100% blame my schools for making me read dross that the ivory tower considers good.

Re:Sounds uselesss to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47819435)

I have a phone with a 3.5" screen. It's just about useless for e-reading. Also, the idea that if all the troubled youth were just given books they'd read them is bogus. They *can't* read and if they could they still wouldn't want to.

I have a 3.5" screen on my phone, and it works okay for e-reading. It puts words on the screen and I can read them. Is your phone having trouble doing this? What exactly do you expect from an e-reader for it to be more than "about useless"?

err... Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47815713)

Err... Why? Even the peeps in the trailer park down the street have nice smart phones thanks to subsidies. The rest of us can afford anything we want. Lots of tablets on the market well under $100 outright.

This fun isn't for eager multitaskers (1)

koan (80826) | about two weeks ago | (#47815717)

"eager multitaskers" synonymous with "distracted liability".

How short our memories... (2)

evilviper (135110) | about two weeks ago | (#47816055)

The trick is to respect the device's limits and keep down the number of apps you install.

What?!?! That phone has better specs than the highest of the high-end $600+ smartphones just 4 years ago. It's got specs as good as my $200 mid-tier smartphone from 2 years ago.

They could handle multiple apps back then, they can now, too.

Re:How short our memories... (1)

mlts (1038732) | about two weeks ago | (#47816679)

Even earlier than that, my ancient HTC Wizard, a 2006 vintage device, could handle a couple gigs on its miniSD card, and for e-books, that can hold a lot of stuff. The 2009 vintage Motorola CLIQ with a MicroSD card, similar.

It doesn't take much for a device to handle e-books.

Re:How short our memories... (1)

c0d3g33k (102699) | about two weeks ago | (#47818035)

Indeed. I first started reading ebooks on my original Motorola Droid (the backlit screen allowed me to read in bed without disturbing my wife with the bedside lamp on). It was a decent enough experience with the phone held in landscape position and using a reasonable font size. I had quite a little library on the microSD card. And plenty of apps and games too.

The only problem was not being able to have most or all of the text equating to a printed page on the screen at once, which prompted me later to get a tablet, which is a much better form factor for reading. But I still have books on my current smartphone (bigger screen than the Droid, but much smaller than the tablet) for those times when my tablet isn't with me.

Re:How short our memories... (1)

Nimey (114278) | about two weeks ago | (#47818415)

Sure, if you want to stick with old apps.

You sound like people who have a Pentium 4 and load it up with modern programs, then wonder why it's so slow - it used to run the same number of programs lots faster, after all... it's just that this was in 2002 and they're not using Windows XP RTM and Office 2000 anymore.

Re:How short our memories... (1)

evilviper (135110) | about two weeks ago | (#47818517)

Oddly enough, MP3 players aren't using up any more resources today than they did 4 years ago, so no.

And being that this phone runs Gingerbread, yeah, some of the newest apps won't be available.

mod Up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47816263)

But that little screen... (1)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | about two weeks ago | (#47817071)

Trying to read on that little cellphone screen might eventually drive you nuts though... You'd be better off buying a Chinese-made 7" Android tablet like I did. (I four of them for ~$40 each, half off though.) Make damn fine readers, and good for a lot of other tasks, too.

Though I also picked up an Android phone with a bad speaker for $13 on eBay that I use as a wifi mouse/keyboard and Mediaplayer remote for my PCs. All in all, a pretty good supplement to my 'digital life'.

Re:But that little screen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47817507)

Small screens are good for those with dyslexia.

Step 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about two weeks ago | (#47818841)

Provide a link to the damn phone. FAIL.

here it is [amazon.com] .

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