Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Facebook Profiles and Google eBooks

Two kind of large things happened yesterday. The first was the redesign of Facebook profile pages. Up until now, Facebook profile pages (the pages for each specific user) have stayed fairly static over the years. There have been some tweaks here and there, but until now, nothing major. And it's not like this redesign has been earth-shattering, either. Basically it's an attempt to make it more visual. There are places to post what your favorite sports teams are, for example--and then instead of just listing them, it shows the teams' logos. You can have "featured friends" on your profile. It's not like it's to the point where you can tweak the page to make it look how you want it to look, but it's changed enough that it'll look at least somewhat different from everyone else's page. Facebook is rolling this out bit by bit, but if you don't want to wait, you can click here to activate the changes right away.

The other tidbit is that Google has now officially launched its eBook store. 3 million out of copyright, public domain works available, plus hundreds of thousands of copyrighted eBooks for sale. They're all available in multiple formats, and they all stay in the cloud. What does that mean? It means that you don't really download them to your reading device--you read them online. So when you finish reading a page on your iPad, you can pick up right where you left off on your PC or your iPhone or whatever. Also, they've added page numbers. Not page numbers for the eBook. Page numbers for the physical book. So if you've got the font sized cranked up, you might be on page 53 for seven or eight pages, if that makes sense.

What do I think of this?

I'm not sure. I think eBooks are definitely coming into their own, but it's going to take some time before we've worked out things like standard formats, prices, etc. Eventually one of these competing formats and stores will win out, and then life should improve for eBooks. As it is, how do you tell which horse to bet on? Usually, innovation and competition is a good thing in technology, but I think in this case, it's kind of getting in the way. Libraries, for example, have no idea where to put their money. Users want eBooks, but if the library bets on the Kindle, and the iPad ends up winning, then all those funds are gone. (Imagine a library that invested heavily in Betamax videos instead of VHS.) I personally don't think this will take too long. A few years, and we'll have a much better idea of what's going on and where this is head.

But enough about me. What do YOU think?

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