Apple tablet could be a game-changer for e-readers

An interesting post over at Gizmodo have me thinking about e-readers again. I went to an e-reader summit a couple of weeks ago hosted by the Digital Publishing Alliance here at the Reynolds Journalism Institute.

It was pretty clear that the folks in the room all thought that e-readers would be a part of their business model. What wasn’t clear is how large a part of the business model they would be, or how exactly newspapers would monetize content that’s being delivered on an e-reader. There were reps at this meeting from Sony and Plastic Logic (no one from Amazon, unfortunately) and there was a lot of talk about the next generation of e-readers, which would feature quicker page-turning and refresh rates, be thinner and lighter, etc. Color might be coming in 2011, and so on.

Well, if Apple really does intend to put out a tablet — and the signs point to it being a when, not an if — it would pretty much blow any current e-reader out of the water, simply because at a similar price point, the tablet would have massively more functionality than an e-ink device.

Beside the functionality, though, a tablet (being also a full-on computer) could also pave the way for multimedia presentations and new ways of creating and linking digital content. For current books, that’s a “meh” — are you going to provide photos of Victorian England to go along with Bleak House? (Well, actually, that sounds kind of interesting …) But it would be really interesting to see what newspapers and magazines can do to provide multimedia and interactive graphics on a device that’s close to an e-reader in size — something that’s got the read-in-bed capability that laptops and larger devices are lacking. It might eventually come close to the vision Roger Fidler and I had for our eMprint project at the Missourian.

(Cross-posted from my other blog)

GIFmation for the Mac rocks

Here’s the challenge I was presented with: We wanted to display a banner on the home page of our Web site to promote ColumbiaTomorrow.com, an RJI project designed to be the go-to site to learn about growth and development issues in Columbia.

I’ve been playing with the idea in the back of my head for a while that there must be some kind of nifty little freeware package that could create an animated banner. Ideally, I’ll find time in my busy schedule to learn Flash sometime soon. Until then, I give you GIFmation.

Here’s what I created for the Missourian’s Web site with it:

columbiatomorrowfinal

Not bad for a beginner, eh? (you can also view it here)

All I did was make a pair of quick slides in Photoshop, then imported them into GIFmation. I added a 2-second delay between slides and saved it. Voila!

One important note: Add .gif at the end of the file. I had to do that to get WordPress to take it.

The installation was seamless, and the software is easy enough to navigate if you poke around a little. The downsize tool and crop tool are both really difficult to use and require a proportion wheel to get right. So make sure your slides are the size you want before loading them into GIFmation.

Although that aspect is clunky, for free software, you can’t beat how easy it is to slap your slides together into an animated .gif file. For the above example, it was load the slides, set the delay, hit save. Short and sweet.

The interface feels like it should be part of Creative Suite, making it easy to figure out if you’re familiar with InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, et al. For simple banners and other animated images, it’s just the right tool.

A registered copy is $49.95, but the demo version allows use of up to three slides per .gif. And really, if you’re going to use more than three, shouldn’t you be using Flash?