Tag Archives: Twitter

Are ‘phablets’ a rival for e-reading devices?

The above video is a shocking yet accurate depiction of the growing smartphone-obsessed culture which is becoming apparent within society. The New York Times posted this intriguing article a couple of weeks ago, ‘More Connected, Yet More Alone‘, and talks of Charlene deGuzman’s reasons behind making the video. Nick Bilton, the person who wrote the article, speculates whether smartphones are having their ‘TV-in-the-kitchen-moment’?

From the video, I can definitely see how it relates to today’s society. Particularly with social media playing a prominent role in people’s day-to-day lives, and the recent developments in mobile phone technology over the years, it is so much more easier to connect virtually than it ever has been; so much so that I believe that people are becoming obsessed with it. The day after the New York Times posted this article, The Guardian published an article stating that phablets are big in Asia-Pacific, equalling tablets and laptops combined.

The Guardian reported that 25.2 million phablets – ‘large-screened phones with screen sizes of between 5in and 7in diagonally’ – are shipped in the Asia-Pacific (excl. Japan), roughly the same amount of devices shipped as tablets (12.6 million) and laptops (12.7 million) combined (figures from research company, IDC). It is believed that it is Samsung’s Galaxy Note, inspired by Dell’s Streak phone in 2010, which has truly sparked the surge in phablet technology.

Looking at the evidence, it made me wonder how it will affect publishing in the future…

I wrote about this earlier in the year with my blog post: ‘Adaptive Web Technology and Publishing‘ and even the figures mentioned there stated that by 2016, 2.1 billion mobile browsers will use HTML5 browsers, therefore adding to the current 17% of the world’s population which has a mobile subscription.

As it can be seen from the articles in the NYT and The Guardian, more phablets than laptops and tablets combined are being shipped in Eastern parts of the world – imagine what the figures would be should Western parts of the world be included, too. For me, it poses the question as to whether e-reading devices such as the Kindle could soon become old news, especially if technology is moving towards a smartphone future…

Publishers are already recognising that ensuring their content is available through smartphones is adamant. For example, academic publisher, Cambridge University Press’s ‘Cambridge Journals Online’ platform has launched a Mobile version. In addition, publishers such as Penguin have launched various Apps to use on mobiles and tablet devices, Kindle has an App which is available to use on devices other than Kindles, and with social media sites such as Twitter, publishers are able to interact with the end-consumer on a regular basis.

What’s to say, that we ourselves, aren’t publishers? For those who use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets, every post, tweet, and status is published for the world to see. Phablets make this easy and with the growing obsession of ‘connecting’ with one another, it appears that we are increasingly moving into a world where access to content is constantly in demand.

Personally, I do not believe that phablets are a serious threat to e-reading devices… yet. The article from The Guardian only takes into account the figures for Asia-Pacific, and it is already common knowledge that the technological market is by far greater and more advanced than other parts of the world. E-reading devices such as the Kindle will continue to develop, and while the ‘I Forgot My Phone’ video shows people using their smartphones, not Kindles/iPads etc., I believe that the majority of people may not necessarily make the link of reading books on their smartphones just yet. Saying that, I do feel that the concept of publishing on a wide scale is pretty much there when it comes to smartphone technology.


Creating a ‘vibe’ is the new way to ‘discover’ books

In and amongst the depths of the internet, I’ve read blogs and articles which state that browsing for books in a bookshop is the most effective way to ‘discover’ new books. I even popped into the independent bookshop in Aldeburgh, Suffolk (I strongly recommend you go and have a gander if you’re ever around that area) a few weeks ago and got chatting to one of the owners who specified that customers don’t necessarily know what they’re looking for when they come in and come into the store to discover.

Saying this, it appears that all may not be lost in terms of internet book browsing. Lloyd Page wrote a blog entry via The Bookseller speculating about a new way to ‘get your book to the front of the queue’. BookVibe.

BookVibe logo

BookVibe is a book discovery tool which aims to aggregate information by feeding into your Twitter feeds.

Essentially a phone app, users will be able to tap in 24/7 and see what their friends, followers and following are reading there and then. The integration with social media site Twitter (and soon to join the ‘vibe’, Facebook), is a savvy way for publishers to see into the reading habits of millions of people. Could such an app take on recommendation site gaints such as Goodreads? It would certainly boost ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing which undoubtedly has the power to make a book into a bestseller. Lloyd writes that Parakweet, the company who thought of BookVibe, have plans to introduce extra features, such as book alerts for new releases. I think this would be a good idea, particularly so readers can keep up to date with their favourite authors. I think a great feature of the app which Page mentioned was the fact that you could ‘thank the author within the app with a tweet that uses a template text message (promoting BookVibe…)’. This creates interaction with authors on a brand new level. In addition, it also allows publishers to see what authors (and book genres) are currently favourites amongst the general public. Another way which the app could be used to enhance author-reader interaction, is if the app alerted the user of upcoming book talks or events in their local area which the author (or other authors equivalent to the user’s favourite) would be at present at.

I guess one of BookVibe appthe most important things to consider is how user-friendly the app will be. The BookVibe website currently shows an image of what the user can expect if he/she signs up to receive weekly emails of book recommendations from friends.

The use of the ‘Buzz’ rating also links well with the new ‘vibe’ feel which the app is no doubt hoping to create.

Of course, Page does speculate on possible flaws of the app: ‘The claim is that the tool can surf through 500m tweets a day, drill down into those which mention books and decipher if the vibe is positive or negative’. The BookVibe website also states that it has ‘analysed over 100 billion tweets to detect book discussions’. Page further wonders as to whether the app will have the capacity to distinguish the differences between books, should two books share the same/similar titles for example.

Only time will tell whether BookVibe will be successful or not and whether it will create the desired ‘buzz’-effect around new and upcoming books and authors. Anything which promotes reading can only be a good thing…