When I wrote last Fall about iPad interest in different areas, libraries were far behind, and they still are, as shown in the chart at left. The blue columns are from Sept and red columns are from now, March 2011. The red numbers above the red columns are for March; for Sept numbers see the previous article.

The notable jump for “medical” in the chart since Sept is not surprising to anyone who has been following news and commentary — The iPad is proving to be very popular for doctors, hospitals and medical education.

The decline for “magazines” and “newspapers” is also not surprising — The highly-anticipated iPad boost for those media has not happened, and interest has sagged.

Whither libraries? — As I said in the Sept article, it continues to be surprising that libraries have not caught the iPad interest, since books and eBooks are so popular. With the great iPad interest in medicine, maybe medical libraries are just the ones to lead the pack in generating iPad interest in the library world.

The new data (red columns) is the average of counts done in Twitter searches on Feb 25 and March 31. The launch of the iPad 2 on March 2 had a notable effect on the these counts — The number of tweets was significantly higher on March 31 for most areas, except “libraries” and “newspapers,” for which it actually declined.

For more on methods used in this informal study, see the previous article.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

Twitter is notorious for having a short attention span – Trending topics tend to last for just a few days — The iPad has been a remarkable exception to this — Since it was introduced in April, its popularity on Twitter just seems to continue on and on. I experience this clearly myself because my tweets on the iPad are invariably the most popular ones.

With so much being written on the iPad, I often search in Twitter by combining “iPad” with another word — libraries, librarians, schools, learning, healthcare, medical etc. I’ve been surprised that combining iPad with library-related words consistently retrieves very little. So I did a little survey, counting the number of tweets retrieved in Twitter searches for some of these words, as shown in the graph at left (details on method below).

I don’t want to read too much into this quick-and-dirty little survey — Maybe it’s just a matter of time before the iPad surge filters down to libraries. But I still have to wonder … The apparent lack of interest in the iPad in the library world is especially surprising in view of the search figures in the chart for books, magazines, newspapers, and ebooks – the content of libraries.

As I was writing this post, I happened upon Brian Kenney’s article encouraging libraries to join the party and get into the “eBook game” like their patrons are quickly doing. The advice about libraries and eBooks in his catchy title fits the iPad also: You have to be in it to win it! – With the iPad having quickly established itself as the most popular device for reading digital books and magazines, and with its booming sales predicted to hit 28 million in 2011, isn’t it time for librarians to join the iPad party?

Methods — The numbers in the chart are the average of two searches done on Thurs, Aug 19 and Fri, Sept 3, each of the searches going back four days. I counted the number of pages for each search and multiplied by 10, assuming 10 tweets per page. For library related words, how about “library”? — I didn’t include it because of the varying contexts of the word — in particular iTunes library and iPod library — which are unrelated to libraries that are run by librarians. I did do a close examination of the 172 hits for library (on Sept 8th) and found that about 22 seemed to have some connection to the desired context, which would have raised the numbers in the chart a bit, but not enough to change the overall impression that the iPad is not mentioned much in connection with libraries. So I’ve chosen to stick with simple unambiguous words, especially so that the test can be easily repeated over time.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

Keith Peters used his new USB microscope to take pictures of magnified text, snips of which are below. His article on this included the pictures and a discussion of iPad and Kindle. He says little about the book and magazine pictures, and they’re far down in his article. I thought they added an interesting comparison with the iPad and Kindle …

The voluminous comments to Peters’ article, mostly on iPad vs Kindle, are interesting, with many heated opinions and citing of tech issues like dpi, bit depth, resolution and contrast. The arguments give an indication of how little scientific proof there is on what makes text readable/legible — Seems to be a case of who can shout the loudest! Not only is it difficult to define clear criteria to judge text on computers and eReaders, it’s also surprisingly difficult to find evidence about text on print vs computer – Googling for subjects like readability screen and readability screen print turn up little that’s relevant (Please email me if you’re a better googler than I am!) In Wikipedia, the most relevant subject seems to be Typography, but it also doesn’t speak much to the issue of print vs computer.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

Scott Stein at CNET wrote yesterday about what he calls iPad App fatigue — the growing realization, after the first flush of  iPad interest, that there aren’t many good iPad apps. This fits nicely with articles I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks suggesting that the primacy of Apps-Thinking is a holdover from the iPhone, where it IS valuable to have a separate app to tailor information for a small screen. But people are realizing that the iPad screen is big enough that it’s not necessary to have a separate app, that most web sites do just fine with the iPad’s Safari browser.

On this theme, Newsweek’s Daniel Lyons says that although many publishers have succumbed to Steve Jobs’s App fever, some more cautious ones are unconvinced. He reports his conversation with Nick Denton, publisher of Gawker Media: “Every single time something new comes out and people wonder what’s the killer app, the answer is the same. It’s the Web every time.The boring old Web.” The Web has grown into its own organic “ecosytem” — What advantage is there, Lyons and Denton suggest, in trying to create a separate ecosytem-app for each media source, a separate app that doesn’t talk to the ecosystem of the Web?:

Denton has looked at some of the news-media apps and says he’s unimpressed. … “I loved the look of the Time app, but then I tried to select and copy a paragraph to send to a friend. I did the action automatically, without even thinking.” And guess what? You can’t do that. “You can’t e-mail. You can’t bookmark. It made me realize how much the experience of reading has changed. Nobody really just reads anymore. They copy text, send links, tweet,” Denton says.

Dan Frommer, in a follow-up article, captures Lyons & Denton’s thoughts with his snappy title: Hey, Media Companies, The ‘Boring Old Web’ Is Way More Important Than Your Crappy iPad App.

Jacob Weisberg, over at Slate, writes on the same motif. He says traditional publishers’ idea that they’re going to make big bucks selling iPad apps for their magazines is off-target because the Web version of magazines is at least as good as the app versions:

The first problem with the publishers’ fantasy … is that you don’t need those cute little apps to read newspapers and magazines. On the iPhone, apps bring real advantages—it’s no fun navigating a complex Web page through that 3.5-inch window. The iPad, by contrast, has a 9.7-inch display that is big, bright, and beautiful. The Safari browser is a great way to read any publication on the device, so long as you have a good WiFi connection.

And finally, new media journalist Jason Fry weighs in — He says news sites are finding that their iPad apps are superfluous because the web version is just as good or better:

What surprises me most after a few weeks playing with the iPad is that the browser is so good. So good, in fact, that I don’t bother with apps from news organizations, or most anybody else. The iPhone taught us that the browser was only to be used in extremis and apps were king, but the iPad reverses that.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

It’s been occurring to me that our old categories — books and magazines — are losing their meaning in the transition to eBooks and eMagazines. So I was interested to stumble last week on the serendipitous series of Twitter tweets below that nudged me to write this article …

Just as I was about to tweet this message …

ericrumsey: Difference Between “Web Pages” & “Magazines” is Getting Blurry http://bit.ly/7AmmsT View Tweet

What should appear in my Twitter stream but this …

doingitwrong: Worst thing about this piece: The assumption that in 2020 eReaders will be about the same as they are now. http://is.gd/5rEZQ /via @PD_SmithView Tweet

And the day before, I had tweeted this …

ericrumsey: Prognosticating eBooks – “What Exactly will Define a Book at the End of 2010?” (LA Times: @paperhaus) – http://bit.ly/4vL1JxView Tweet

The three articles linked in these tweets, on eMagazines, eReaders, and eBooks, have the common theme that the digital world is very much in flux, that old formats are likely to change in unpredictable ways. I think this is especially true in the case of picture-laden magazines –The experience of reading an article on the Web that combines text and pictures is pretty much the same, be it on a blog, news source, miscellaneous webpage, or part of a “magazine.” So I’d guess that “magazines” will fairly soon disappear as a category separate from other Web sources. The category of “books,” on the other hand, I think will take longer to lose its meaning – For now, the experience of reading a book is quite similar whether its in paper or online — The game-changer for the “book” category will be when eBooks become connected to each other so they all blend into the ocean of the Web.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

This is a subset of my list that has all titles as of November, 2009, when Google announced that they would provide their own list. The titles below are my subjective picks, based on generality of interest and/or length of availability.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

John C. Abell, in his recent Wired article Steve Jobs’ Legacy Is the Missing Clue to the Apple Tablet, suggests that in the same way that he invigorated animated film with Pixar, the music industry with iTunes, and the mobile phone market with the iPhone, Jobs’ next mission is to invigorate the publishing industry with the Tablet. Abell talks specifically about the newspaper and magazine publishing industry, but his comments, I think, can easily be broadened to books also, as he talks about making readers forget about the printed page. I’m excerpting here because the words about publishing may be missed by many readers — Short excerpts, but with considerably more valuable nuggets than will fit into a 140-char Tweet:

If he is looking for One Last Thing, saving journalism would be the Holy Grail. … The device will have to make readers forget — really forget — the printed page. E-readers, for all that they do, don’t do this yet.

After detailing Jobs’ accomplishments in invigorating other industries, as mentioned above, Abell concludes with these words:

Even given this track record — and what we choose to believe is the all-trumping motivator of perfecting his legacy — a device-centric initiative that saves newspapers and magazines that seem to be in perpetual, some say irretrievable, decline, sounds next to impossible.

But is anybody seriously willing to bet against the house — of Jobs?

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

The recently announced addition of thumbnail navigation to Google Book Search is, unfortunately, only available for full-view. But all magazines in GBS are full-view, so thumbnails are especially useful for them, since [because] they have so many pictures. To use thumnails, go to Read this Magazine (or Book), and click the 4-square grid in the top row of icons (shaded below).

There are relatively few public-domain, full-view books with pictures in GBS, but thumbnail view is valuable for them, to get a quick overview of the proportion and nature of the pictures, as shown in the example below.

In Dec, 2008, Google announced that they had begun adding recent popular magazines to Google Book Search. Because Google, inexplicably, chose not to provide a list of titles that were included, I made a list of about 40 titles, and until recently I hadn’t added to it, assuming that Google hadn’t added any more titles, since none had appeared on the Google Book Search home page. Recently, though, I saw in Twitter that people were mentioning new titles, so I did some searching to see if I could find more. And indeed, I did find about 10 new titles that have apparently been added recently, and I’ve added these to the list at Google Magazines – Titles.

A suggestion: If you find an interesting new magazine title in Google Book Search, put it in Twitter, and include the hashtag that I just created, #gbsmag (Clicking this will retrieve tweets in Twitter Search, with examples from the new titles I recently found). If you don’t use Twitter, of course, feel free to put new magazine titles in a comment to this article.

Adam Hodgkin, in Google Pictures and Google Books, wonders why Google has chosen to put Prado paintings in Google Earth rather than in Google Images. In December I asked a similar question about Google’s putting Life Magazine pictures in Google Images, but putting other picture-laden magazines in Google Books. And, in another recent launch they’ve put newspapers, which also have many pictures, in Google News.

Once again I come back to the theme of this blog — Pictures are just different — They don’t fit neatly into our categories. Pictures are an important part of several different media — books, magazines, newspapers, and (of course) art — So what slot do we put them in?

Even before the recent questions arose with Life Magazine pictures, Google Magazines, Google Newspapers, and Prado paintings, there’s the ongoing, but little-noted question of pictures in the growing collection of public domain books in Google Books. In my experience, these are completely absent from Google Image Search — When will Google make this connection?

Figuring out what category to put them into, of course, is a relatively minor problem compared to the BIG PROBLEM with pictures, which is making them searchable! If there was one category to put them into that was searchable, then of course that would be the place for Google to put them!