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eBook revenues outpace print in Q1

Net sales revenue from eBooks have surpassed hardcover books in the first quarter of 2012, pointing to a historical moment in publishing.

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eBooks outsold hardcover books for the first time

According to the Association of American Publishers’ (AAP’s) net sales revenue report, adult eBook sales were $282.3 million, while adult hardcover sales counted $229.6 million during the first quarter of 2012. During the same period last year, hardcover sales accounted for $223.5 million in sales while eBooks logged $220.4 million.

“In Q1 2012, net sales revenue for eBooks was higher than that for Hardcover; this represents a switch of positions in the category vs Q1 2011. In both quarters, however, Trade Paperback remained a clear #1 in net sales revenue despite some erosion. While eBooks continue to show growth, downloaded audiobooks also keep accelerating vs last year – as some experts have said, tied to ongoing popularity and acquisition of smartphones and mobile devices.”

A glimmer of hope for bibliophiles is in the Young Adult and Children’s category which saw growth in revenue for hardcovers, up nearly 67 percent to $187.7 million. This category saw a 233 percent increase for eBooks to $64.3 million, but remains far behind print sales.

Personal story about my bibliophilia

Hi, my name is Lani, and I am a bibliophile. Whew, that feels good to get off of my chest. It may surprise some of you that know me well, because I report on technology and operate a digital publication, but despite the changing technology, I can’t shake my affinity for physical books.

When I was young, we lived in the Texas country with not much to do nearby. Before Kindergarten, I would hide in my grandmother’s classroom as she taught dyslexic children to read through the Phonics program. Like magic, I picked it up, and out of curiosity and boredom, I began reading the Nancy Drew series, which was the only thing that looked interesting in my grandparents’ giant wall of books. Before I started school at age four, I had finished the entire series which made school quite boring as children recited the alphabet and I smuggled novels into the classroom to read while they struggled.

By age six, I was writing poetry and had been published, and my book collection was massive. I was always the kid in the class who read the highest volume of literature, and I won a contest in sixth grade for my reading so much, which I seriously thought would be the pinnacle of my entire life. All of this led to my enthusiastic trip to Dallas that year to a shell of a second story retail location my aunt and uncle had just leased, as they were opening an independent children’s bookstore. The green grass carpet had just been laid, a stage was built, the walls were covered in chalk board material (before chalk board paint existed), a castle had been built in a corner, and there were boxes and empty shelves everywhere. I distinctly remember the smell of fresh hardback books in a box that no shopper had ever touched, and the softness of every single page. There was a glowing pride that swelled up inside of me with every book I had the honor of neatly putting on a shelf.

I worked at the bookstore every summer in high school and the first few years of college, and was able to meet many famous authors, and perform dozens of story times in costume. I loved it. There was this inherent understanding that it was an honor to be around books, because each word was poured out from someone’s soul and shared with the world.

In college, I studied English Literature as well as Spanish Literature, and I was again honored to be educated by novelists and students of the written word. I kept all of my textbooks and novels from college, and every so often visit them when I have time.

To me, physical books are more than just an author’s word that can be translated across any medium. I read eBooks, and I purchase print books, but I still have a different physical reaction when turning pages than I do reading digitally, and I am able to retain more from the pages that smell like a new bookstore. While not everyone has the same affinity for booksas I do, and not everyone could possibly care as much, I still choose print over digital, even as a digital publisher myself. The next generation may feel differently, but for me, nothing beats being honored with a writer’s soul that spilled onto a page that I smuggled into a classroom when I was four.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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1 Comment

  1. HannahShaner

    June 19, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    As a book publicist for many indie author imprints, I completely understand your sentiment! There’s nothing quite like the smell and feel – and just overall experience – of a printed book. As a publicist for a free DIY e-publisher (Booktango), though, it’s such a different world. I truly hope print books never go out of existence, but it’s only logical to be able to access books like we access everything else – right this second, wherever we are. Interested to see where things go…

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Experts warn of actual AI risks – we’re about to live in a sci fi movie

(TECH NEWS) A new report on AI indicates that the sci fi dystopias we’ve been dreaming up are actually possible. Within a few short years. Welp.

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AI robots

Long before artificial intelligence (AI) was even a real thing, science fiction novels and films have warned us about the potentially catastrophic dangers of giving machines too much power.

Now that AI actually exists, and in fact, is fairly widespread, it may be time to consider some of the potential drawbacks and dangers of the technology, before we find ourselves in a nightmarish dystopia the likes of which we’ve only begun to imagine.

Experts from the industry as well as academia have done exactly that, in a recently released 100-page report, “The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, Mitigation.”

The report was written by 26 experts over the course of a two-day workshop held in the UK last month. The authors broke down the potential negative uses of artificial intelligence into three categories – physical, digital, or political.

In the digital category are listed all of the ways that hackers and other criminals can use these advancements to hack, phish, and steal information more quickly and easily. AI can be used to create fake emails and websites for stealing information, or to scan software for potential vulnerabilities much more quickly and efficiently than a human can. AI systems can even be developed specifically to fool other AI systems.

Physical uses included AI-enhanced weapons to automate military and/or terrorist attacks. Commercial drones can be fitted with artificial intelligence programs, and automated vehicles can be hacked for use as weapons. The report also warns of remote attacks, since AI weapons can be controlled from afar, and, most alarmingly, “robot swarms” – which are, horrifyingly, exactly what they sound like.

Read also: Is artificial intelligence going too far, moving too quickly?

Lastly, the report warned that artificial intelligence could be used by governments and other special interest entities to influence politics and generate propaganda.

AI systems are getting creepily good at generating faked images and videos – a skill that would make it all too easy to create propaganda from scratch. Furthermore, AI can be used to find the most important and vulnerable targets for such propaganda – a potential practice the report calls “personalized persuasion.” The technology can also be used to squash dissenting opinions by scanning the internet and removing them.

The overall message of the report is that developments in this technology are “dual use” — meaning that AI can be created that is either helpful to humans, or harmful, depending on the intentions of the people programming it.

That means that for every positive advancement in AI, there could be a villain developing a malicious use of the technology. Experts are already working on solutions, but they won’t know exactly what problems they’ll have to combat until those problems appear.

The report concludes that all of these evil-minded uses for these technologies could easily be achieved within the next five years. Buckle up.

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Daily Coding Problem keeps you sharp for coding interviews

(CAREER) Coding interviews can be pretty intimidating, no matter your skill level, so stay sharp with daily practice leading up to your big day.

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Whether you’re in the market for a new coding job or just want to stay sharp in the one you have, it’s always important to do a skills check-up on the proficiencies you need for your job. Enter Daily Coding Problem, a mailing list service that sends you one coding problem per day (hence the name) to keep your analytical skills in top form.

One of the founders of the service, Lawrence Wu, stated that the email list service started “as a simple mailing list between me and my friends while we were prepping for coding interviews [because] just doing a couple problems every day was the best way to practice.”

Now the service offers this help for others who are practicing for interviews or for individuals needing to just stay fresh in what they do. The problems are written by individuals who are not just experts, but also who aced their interviews with giants like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

So how much would a service like this cost you? Free, but with further tiers of features for additional money. Like with all tech startups, the first level offers the basic features such as a single problem every day with some tricks and hints, as well as a public blog with additional support for interviewees. However, if you want the actual answer to the problem, and not just the announcement that you incorrectly answered it, you’ll need to pony up $15 per month.

The $15 level also comes with some neat features such as mock interview opportunities, no ads, and a 30 day money back guarantee. For those who may be on the job market longer, or who just want the practice for their current job, the $250 level offers unlimited mock interviews, as well as personal guidance by the founders of the company themselves.

Daily Coding Problem enters a field with some big players with a firm grasp on the market. Other services, like InterviewCake, LeetCode, and InterviewBit, offer similar opportunities to practice mock interview questions. InterviewCake offers the ability to sort questions by the company who typically asks them for that individual with their sights targeted on a specific company. InterviewBit offers referrals and mentorship opportunities, while LeetCode allows users to submit their own questions to the question pool.

If you’ve really got your eye on the prize of receiving that coveted job opportunity, Daily Coding Problem is a great way to add another tool in your tool box to ace that interview.

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Quickly delete years of your stupid Facebook updates

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Digital clutter sucks. Save time and energy with this new Chrome extension for Facebook.

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facebook desktop

When searching for a job, or just trying to keep your business from crashing, it’s always a good idea to scan your social media presence to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure with offensive or immature posts.

In fact, you should regularly check your digital life even if you’re not on the job hunt. You never know when friends, family, or others are going to rabbit hole into reading everything you’ve ever posted.

Facebook is an especially dangerous place for this since the social media giant has been around for over fourteen years. Many accounts are old enough to be in middle school now.

If you’ve ever taken a deep dive into your own account, you may have found some unsavory posts you couldn’t delete quickly enough.

We all have at least one cringe-worthy post or picture buried in years of digital clutter. Maybe you were smart from the get-go and used privacy settings. Or maybe you periodically delete posts when Memories resurfaces that drunk college photo you swore wasn’t on the internet anymore.

But digging through years of posts is time consuming, and for those of us with accounts older than a decade, nearly impossible.

Fortunately, a Chrome extension can take care of this monotonous task for you. Social Book Post Manager helps clean up your Facebook by bulk deleting posts at your discretion.

Instead of individually removing posts and getting sucked into the ensuing nostalgia, this extension deletes posts in batches with the click of a button.

Select a specific time range or search criteria and the tool pulls up all relevant posts. From here, you decide what to delete or make private.

Let’s say you want to destroy all evidence of your political beliefs as a youngster. Simply put in the relevant keyword, like a candidate or party’s name, and the tool pulls up all posts matching that criteria. You can pick and choose, or select all for a total purge.

You can also salt the earth and delete everything pre-whatever date you choose. I could tell Social Book to remove everything before 2014 and effectively remove any proof that I attended college.

Keep in mind, this tool only deletes posts and photos from Facebook itself. If you have any savvy enemies who saved screenshots or you cross-posted, you’re out of luck.

The extension is free to use, and new updates support unliking posts and hiding timeline items. Go to town pretending you got hired on by the Ministry of Truth to delete objectionable history for the greater good of your social media presence.

PS: If you feel like going full scorched Earth, delete everything from your Facebook past and then switch to this browser to make it harder for Facebook to track you while you’re on the web.

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