E-Readers: Future or Fantasy?

Technology and media bloggers have been quick to declare the death of print, both in newspaper and book format. The bold new future will come to us through e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle, they say. Do the promoters of these devices really know what the public wants or are they happy to cash in on our materialistic cravings?

Today I take a look at the demand-side of e-readers.

paid Content:UK, which covers digital media from across the pond, is skeptical that e-readers can deliver greater value than books. While Sony and Barnes & Noble are already getting into the e-reader market, Apple and Microsoft’s reported hesitancy has to do with the devices’ limited functionality. Who wants to pay hundreds of dollars for an e-reader when it can only do one thing, I hear you say? My computer does at least five things!

The Go-Go Gadget iPhone already has apps for e-reading, bringing its functions up to around a zillion. But is the iPhone, and computer for that matter, already too much of a good thing? The New York Times collected some qualified opinions on e-readers and a constant worry was distraction. If every book I read could take photos, check my email and browse the internet, I’d never finish!

Besides e-readers’ shortcomings (remember the first generation iPod?), book suppliers are upping the value of the old ink-and-paper medium. Wal-Mart will sell bestselling books, which are the hottest items on e-readers too, for $10 on its website. This isn’t very good news for publishers, however. As the public gets used to cheapo books, they will be asked for lower wholesale prices.

Amazon, too, isn’t betting it all on the Kindle. In select cities, on select items (didn’t you read the fine print?), it will offer same-day delivery. No more regrets for the impulsive book buyer who has lost interest by the time the book arrives.

SpaceX catches Falcon Heavy nosecone with net-outfitted boat

It marks another milestone in SpaceX's long-standing effort to make spaceflight cheaper.

Technology & Innovation
  • SpaceX launched Falcon Heavy into space early Tuesday morning.
  • A part of its nosecone – known as a fairing – descended back to Earth using special parachutes.
  • A net-outfitted boat in the Atlantic Ocean successfully caught the reusable fairing, likely saving the company millions of dollars.
Keep reading Show less

Are these 100 people killing the planet?

Controversial map names CEOs of 100 companies producing 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Image: Jordan Engel, reused via Decolonial Media License 0.1
Strange Maps
  • Just 100 companies produce 71 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.
  • This map lists their names and locations, and their CEOs.
  • The climate crisis may be too complex for these 100 people to solve, but naming and shaming them is a good start.
Keep reading Show less

‘Climate apartheid’: Report says the rich could buy out of climate change disaster

The world's richest people could breeze through a climate disaster – for a price.

(Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new report from a United Nation expert warns that an over-reliance on the private sector to mitigate climate change could cause a "climate apartheid."
  • The report criticizes several countries, including the U.S., for taking "short-sighted steps in the wrong direction."
  • The world's poorest populations are most vulnerable to climate change even though they generally contribute the least to global emissions.
Keep reading Show less