Pub Ex Machina Tales From the Crossroads of Publishing and Technology

Admittedly, yesterday's news could have been much better. In some alternate reality, William Lynch could have gotten on that earnings call and announced that things were so smashingly good for the NOOK tablet business that Barnes & Noble was stepping up production and launching bigger (NOOK HD+ LANDSCAPE)  and smaller (THE POCKET NOOK!) versions.

But in this reality, Lynch announced that competing with the likes of Amazon and Apple in the tabletsphere was not working for the retailer, and that while it would continue to manufacture its popular NOOK eInk e-readers (Simple Touch & w/GlowLight) and develop NOOK apps for other devices, B&N would cease manufacturing NOOK tablets and look for a third-party partner to license and manufacture co-branded NOOK tablets.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what's a picture of words worth?

This month's Harper's Index featured a fascinating snapshot (see photo), in just a few lines, of a current trend in book publishing:

Percentage change in the past twenty-five years in the Consumer Price Index: +41

In the price of beer: +40

Of books: -1

I guess I'd forgotten. Now that all the the publishing players have settled, abandoning agency pricing and returning to the wholesale slums, the DOJ/ebook antitrust case, which popped up again in everyone's news feeds this week, feels a little anticlimactic.

The DOJ, perhaps simply because it's what it found, or perhaps because there's no one left to pick on, is framing the last defendant standing, Apple, as the "ringmaster" in the price-fixing suit, according the New York Times.

In anticipation of a rare week-long block of reading time (electricity is limited in Tulum, Mexico, and, as a result, so are televisions), I loaded up my Nook Simple Touch with another rare treat: fiction. I've found my reading habits have tended toward nonfiction in recent years and, in the last year or so, toward my tablet (at home) or phone (in transit) and away from fiction and my trusty eInk reader. But last week, as I was loath to get sand up in my iPad's, let's call them delicate areas, and wary of trying to read from that back-lit screen under the Yucatan's intense glare—not to mention that I was anxious to get caught up in an epic tale—the Nook and Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings won the dias day.

It's hard to believe it's already/only been three years since the iPad descended from the heavens Apple introduced it's category defining iPad. On the one hand, it seems like only yesterday. On the other hand, for those of us with tablet computers of one stripe or another, it's hard to imagine life before our new constant companions. 

There's a great piece on Ars Technica today in which its editors reflect on the device, their initial impressions and its impact on their lives since.

I recall my own pre-iPad days as ones of awkwardly balancing a MacBook on my knees or an ottoman while doing my couch computing, or lugging it to the kitchen—and exposing it to risk of spills, splatters and crashes to the floor—while cooking. I resisted forking over the big bucks for a long time until I had the opportunity to buy one, and I was hooked, springing for the then-New iPad (aka iPad 3). Now I ponder not only when I should upgrade, but whether one tablet is enough. With the new Nexus 7 on the way, I have a feeling I'll be dipping into the 7-inch form factor soon enough.

Do you know your Hobbitses from your Uruk-hai? Your Rivendell from Mordor? Your Gandalf the Grey from Gandalf the White?

Now's the time to put your Middle Earth trivia knowledge to the test: It's Tolkien Day.

The good folks at The Guardian have a quiz up to celebrate.

Sample question:

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