retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

• The New York Times reports that next month, a new product will be unveiled that answers a question unique to the current literary environment - how do you get an author to sign your book if you have it on your Kindle, iPad, or in some other eBook format?

According to the Times story, “Here’s how an Autography eBook ‘signing’ will work: a reader poses with the author for a photograph, which can be taken with an iPad camera or an external camera. The image immediately appears on the author’s iPad (if it’s shot with an external camera, it’s sent to the iPad via Bluetooth). Then the author uses a stylus to scrawl a digital message below the photo. When finished, the author taps a button on the iPad that sends the fan an e-mail with a link to the image, which can then be downloaded into the eBook. Wait time? About two and a half minutes. Bragging potential? Endless: Readers can post the personalized photo to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.”

This becomes important because, as the Times writes, “By 2015, sales of eBooks in the United States are expected to triple to nearly $3 billion.”

• The Los Angeles Times writes that “a school district in Maine is proposing to spend about $200,000 on Apple iPad 2s to get the devices into the hands of about 300 kindergartners.” The story notes that the proposal contends that “the iPad is a powerful tool for education when equipped with some of the hundreds of apps available that can aide in interactive learning.”

Not everybody thinks that this is a good idea; some say that there is no evidence that computers can help kids learn, and others say that kindergarten is too early to introduce computers into the educational experience.

But the other argument is this - that anyone who believes that kindergartners are too young to engage with computers, too young to be engaged by computers, and that the potential exists for greater learning through technology...well, that anyone who believe such things probably isn;t spending a lot of time around kids.

And those are our Eye-Openers for Friday.
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