e-Readers shipping like hotcakes

Think for a minute about the history of books, and the joy of reading. Now think about how this has become an integral part of electronic reading, in our modern society. First, we had humans writing on caves and walls. Quickly we can move from the discussion of writing on stone tablets to the mobility of writing on paper. Next, we can jump to the invention of the printing press, and how this changed the mobility of distributing pamphlets and books. The speed in which the Christian Reformation spread from Italy to the United Kingdom was just one shift in the history of communications (Farman, 2012. 10,12). The transformation of the idea of reading, from stone, to papyrus to microchip has affected many different devices, especially the cellular devices of today. According to Jason Farman, engineers from Bell laboratories conceptualized the idea for our current cellular system in 1947 (Farman, 2012. 16). Sometime in the early 1990’s texting became fashionable, from the email world. Between 2007 and 2014, device based readers have been selling like hotcakes, at electronic retail companies, because of these scientific revolutions. Many mobile media scholars today, debate the future of publishing and book writers. So there is a reality and vision that the programming languages of today, and specifically, the code which is causing a metamorphosis in societal resources of reading, is effecting our global economy, and the future of our cell phones of tomorrow.

Cellular phone work
It seems the late 1940s were a time of innovation. The first commercial mobile phones were installed (1946 in St. Louis)

Let us fold into the conversation, the revolution of e-readers that have been sold in the United States in the last seven years. The question should be asked, how does this relate to tablets and e-readers in todays mobile world? Well the story begins, when Apple became the top dog with its e-reader apps for the iPhone, in mid-2007 (Goggin & Hamilton, 2012. 112). Goggin & Hamilton argued, that it was Apple that was the pioneer in developing the phenomenon of e-reading. The bottom line sales pendulum continues to shift back and forth between the giants of electronic reading retailing. Products like; Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s e-Reader, and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, fill the trucks shipping to American homes.

This video is about programming on e-readers and why each manufacture wants their software to run their e-reader, so basically, you’re forced to buy their books from their stores. Tracy Muenz, Technology Specialist at NoMoreBooks.net explains why programming of an eReader on one platform doesn’t necessarily mean it will work on another platform.

Can Programming on One eReader Platform Work For Multiple Platforms?

One of the arguments that Goggin and Hamilton are presenting in, “Reading After the Phone: E-readers and Mobile Media”, is in the section titled, “Tablet Politics: The Centrality of Reading in the Smartphone Era”. Basically if a reader unpacks what Goggin/Hamilton are saying, in this section, it is about Apple being the pioneer of the e-Reader industry in the US.  Although the numbers of e-Readers sold have been “underwhelming so far” (Goggin, 2012. 116), the transformations in the programming of cell phone capabilities has much room for growth. The authors noted that the big companies that produce these device-based readers are changing their business models, forced to rethink, and another paradigm shift is again underway. The authors also use examples of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Canadian Kobo, and note their positioning from 2007 until 2012. The authors notion of “mobility is written in the first sentence, “[books] constitute the first and most enduring form of mobile media” (Goggin, 2012. 103). Goggin and Hamilton also mention the programming software, that was launched, and how it works on laptops, tablets and smartphones.    

One of the best resources here at Temple, is using Lynda.com, to teach yourself programming and code essentials. This idea comes from the question, what code/programming is the most popular when discussing the front-end and back-end of the United States e-Reader products? As you heard from Mr. Muenz, there are many different types of computer programming languages. This author, recently attended a Tech job fair here in Philadelphia, and had a lengthy conversation with a programmer about her opinion. Asking her which is the industry standard? She noted that the most basic e-Readers use the API or Applications programming interface, which is explained here. In contrast, there is another language called, ABI or Application binary interface. Here is a quick explanation of how an application programming interface (API) language works.

An API, or application programming interface, is kind of like a coding contract: it specifies the ways a program can interact with an application. For example, if you want to write a program that reads and analyzes data from Twitter, you’d need to use the Twitter API, which would specify the process for authentication, important URLs, classes, methods, and so on.

For an API or web service to be RESTful, it must do the following:

  1. Separate the client from the server
  2. Not hold state between requests (meaning that all the information necessary to respond to a request is available in each individual request; no data, or state, is held by the server from request to request)
  3. Use HTTP and HTTP methods.

Works Cited

API Programming. (2014, February 8). API Programming lesson. Retrieved from http://www.codecademy.com

Farman, J. (2012). Historicizing Mobile Media. The Mobile Media Reader, Volume 73, 9-22.

Goggin, G. and Hamilton, C. (2012). “Reading After the Phone: E-reader and mobile media,” in N. Arceneaux & A. Kavoori (Eds), The Mobile Media Reader. New York: Peter Lang. p. 102-119

Muenz, T. (2011) NoMoreBooks4Me.com video retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6q7adT-1nk

Photo Credit. (2014, February 8). Retrieved from Google images www.telephoneymuseum.com



One thought on “e-Readers shipping like hotcakes”

  1. I think it is interesting to look at this topic not from the viewpoint of the e-reader as a popular item, but of e-reading as a popular activity.

    Amazon was the first company to really go after the e-reading market, giving the Kindle the competitive edge as the device that everyone wanted. Sure, there were plenty of other suppliers, but it was kind of like comparing a standard MP3 player to an iPod: the iPod was just cooler.

    However, as you point out, other technologies caught up to what the Kindle and other e-readers were doing. The cell phone transitioned from a device that was mostly audio-based to one that was mostly visual-based. Today, people read on their phones much more than they talk on them, and this still falls under the concept of ‘e-reading’. And now that tablets are becoming more popular (and some speculate they could go on to replace desktop and/or laptop computers), these related industries are seeing even more changes in the way that people are consuming books, newspapers, and magazines.

    As you argue, there is no standard format for e-reading technology because these companies are in competition with one another and want people to use their respective devices. But I think that plan of action can only go so far.

    Consider the history of the radio industry. Radio stations were started by radio manufacturers to entice people to buy radio units. Once everyone had radios (or some device capable of receiving radio waves), the main source of income transitioned to that of the stations themselves and the advertising revenue that they could bring in. Similarly, I think the e-reading industry is experiencing a paradigm shift in which the focus is less on being a manufacturer, and more on being a supplier of content.

    I can download the Kindle and Nook apps onto my iPad and buy books from Amazon and Barnes & Noble without having either of those companies’ devices. They are still using their own technologies for their respective softwares, but these companies have had to make adjustments in their business models and focus on building their brand loyalties to keep making a profit. I may not care enough to buy a Kindle, but if I want to buy a book, I still want it on that Kindle app — because the Kindle is ‘cool’.

    The entire concept of e-reading has expanded since the technology was first developed. The competitive edge will be given to whoever can predict where that concept is going to continue to grow from here.

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