My Pile of Work Books

Do you see that picture? That’s just the books I keep at work. They are almost all hardback and the ones on the corner of my desk are mostly ones I’ve purchased in the last 2-3 months.

This doesn’t count my book cases at home full of books or even the books Jen and the kids buy. We buy a lot of books. Emma and I both have this bad habit of reading multiple books at the same time and as we travel during the summer packing half a dozen books is cumbersome (Jen’s a book monogamist - one book at a time).

I’m really excited about ebooks. I am. I know I’ve held out on this little piece of tech longer than I normally would have. I really want to be able to carry around the hundreds of books I regularly reference. Okay hundreds may be an exaggeration but I really do regularly reference a lot of books. After carrying around 5 physical books in my backpack all week I’m finally ready to make the leap.

The Kindle* is really close to being the right device for me because it works on the device and across multiple devices, I like that. But after years of being burned by iTunes I don’t want yet another proprietary format. I like that Borders is offering the option to purchase ebooks in PDF. That’s a step in the right direction.

But there’s one big problem for me: I still want my physical book. When I have the preference I still like to read the physical book (it’s a tactile thing).

Will someone please sell the physical book with the option to purchase the PDF? I’m not going to buy the same book twice but I would honestly pay an extra $5-10 above the hardback price to download a PDF version of the book. I realized this could work after I downloaded Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations from and then still bought the physical book. Correy Doctorow and other authors are doing this more and more. I downloaded Makers and then still bought 3 hardcover copies for my brothers and one for myself.

I’m not even asking you to give away the electronic copy, I just want both. It’s not a revolutionary business model, it’s called bundling (I think I have a book that talks about it). Companies do this all the time. [Update: My friend and former business partner Rich Breton just informed me that O'Reilly has been doing this for years] If I had to, I could forgo the the PDF version for a proprietary format as long as I could still have the physical book and the e-format. I wouldn’t be happy about it and I wouldn’t pay a full $10 but would still pay at least $5. Put the handcuffs on me but just give me some options.

*Disclosure: Amazon is a client of my employer Waggener Edstrom

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The Non-Blog and Dr. M von Vogelhausen

On February 26, 2010, in Comm, by Tac Anderson

BlogWhat do you call blogs that aren’t on a blogging platform? I call them non-blogs? I noticed this trend a few years ago when I would discover very active people in the social media space who didn’t have blogs using tools like StumbleUpon and then later FriendFeed for their blog. Not in addition to a blog like many of us but as their primary content hub.

Using Flickr or YouTube like a blog isn’t anything new but some people like Thomas Hawk take it to a new level. I know PR Newswires Michael Pranikoff uses Delicious as a blog even though it’s a bookmarking service.

What about a collection of short witty reviews on Amazon? (h/t YC) I present Dr. M von Vogelhausen with over 100 wonderfully random and amusing reviews on Amazon (UK)

Here are but a few gems:

A review for the Mastrad Ice Cube Tray

Since I was an infant I have been entranced by ice. I loved to spend hours staring into the stillness of its depths, as my family searched the small ads for hidden messages from Enid Blyton. However, the mystery of the origin of the humble ice cube has always eluded me. After several frustrated visits to the north pole, and an ill-judged expedition to a place that has since been stripped of its name, I found a faded picture of the Mastrad Ice Cube Blue Tray on the window of an abandoned snood store within earshot of the Slough Barrier Reef. Its worn edges shifted slightly in the wind like a tennis player’s pride. I received it on a Thursday; I loaded it; I had cold drinks on the Friday. O tempora, o mores! Water, but not water; hard but slippery. I looked over at Jasper, my dog and my editor, and his eyes seemed to say, “Ice…ice…baby.” He is presumptious.

The Chef’s Choice Elevtric Diamond Hine Sharpener

The door to the old Roberts house was slightly open when I arrived. I entered cautiously, hearing the creaking of the hinges echo in the waiting darkness. The house had seen better days, and there was a faint smell of sherbert lemons in the hallway as I guided myself towards the kitchen. I took a deep breath before entering, and adjusted my panama hat to a more jaunty angle.

The kitchen was just as they had left it: on the worktop, half-chewed Shreddies arranged in a collage depicting a scene from “Diagnosis Murder”; scrawled across the cabinets in jam, a haiku about penguins. A day like any other, then, interrupted by some mysterious event. I turned to leave, and stopped. Beside the microwave, I saw it.

The Chef’s Choice Electric Diamond. Of course, I didn’t know that then. All I could say was that I was in the presence of an object of boundless power and majesty. What happened next has been well documented by the knife-sharpening media. The upshot was that I took it home; and now it sits near my microwave, waiting, always waiting, for the bluntness. Recommended without reservation.

And for those feeling undue pressuer this week, the pressure washer:

Kärcher K2.36M+ Pressure Washer and T50 Patio Cleaner

I purchased this little monkey based on a fundamental misunderstanding. Nonetheless, I have been much gratified by it. Essentially, not wanting to beat around the trees or go around the burning bush, I have a lot of pressure (such is the lot of the Thames Valley Icelandic Chocolatiers Association secretary) And I often wish the cleaning away of this pressure were easier. The Karcher K2.36M+ washes away stains and spillages, yes, and if this impresses you I am both sad and happy, and uncomfortable (my belt is too tight). However it does nothing with pressure itself, which hangs around mockingly, its tongue out, holding a sign saying “you can’t deal with this”. In this respect only, the item failed to make me happy. In other ways - its colour, the way it sat, brooding, on my carpet; its name, when spoken aloud inside a grain silo in Minnesota - in these ways, it finds triumph and beats it until it itself is beaten. Highly recommended.

Do you have any favorite non-blogs? Twitter doesn’t count.

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