Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Books · The eBook Revolution
. . . .

The eBook Revolution

Harley L. Sachs - January 3rd, 2011
The eBook Revolution
By Harley L. Sachs
The electronic book has finally come into its own, and chances are you
may even have received one under the Christmas tree this year, with an
estimated 6.6 million ebook readers sold in 2010.
If you are one of the electronically challenged, an ebook is read on
a screen instead of being printed on paper. An ebook, digital magazine
or newspaper can be downloaded off the Internet to your PC, Mac,
Kindle, Nook, iPad, or any number of screen gadgets, even in some
instances to your digital phone. Not everyone wants to read a novel on
a tiny cell phone screen, but times are a-changing.
Thanks to the mass marketing of ebook readers there has been explosive
growth in the digital book business. Amazon.com, which got its start
selling hard and soft cover books and branched out into marketing
almost everything, now sells more downloads of books to e-readers than
it does of books printed on paper. It’s estimated that there will be
world-wide sales of 11 million ebook readers in 2011.
Black and white e-readers use electronic ink, which has a low power
demand, adding to the battery life. New this season are backlit color
e-readers which are following in the footsteps of the iPad.

This has been a long time coming. There have been many short-lived,
unsuccessful attempts at selling ebook readers, such as the Franklin
eBookMan which was sold between 1999-2002. I obtained an eBookMan on
sale for $50. It was about the size of a Blackberry and was powered by
a couple of AAA batteries.
The eBookman was cool. Besides being a gadget for reading ebooks, it
could act as a portable voice recorder and play music, but it had a
couple of flaws. Because it had a built-in clock that was always
running, it ate batteries. If you put it in the drawer for a couple of
weeks and came back to it, it would be dead. Not only would it be
dead, but it had no memory and when fired up again had to have the
operating system reinstalled from your computer.
The eBookman also worked with a stylus. To change pages you had to
poke the screen, and what if you lost the stylus? I finally installed
a memory stick to back up all the files and learned to pull out the
battery when I was done with it. If Franklin had put in memory and a
rechargeable battery they might still be in the ereader business. They
dropped the eBookman in favor of selling portable translators and
What really kicked off ebooks was Amazon’s release of the Kindle.
Initially costing about $300, it was pricey, but had several
advantages over the eBookman. The Kindle rechargeable battery (from
your computer or a wall socket adaptor) has a life of a couple of
weeks if the wireless browser is turned off.
The wireless feature means you can be sitting at a bus stop, turn it
on, browse the Kindle bookstore, download a sample of a book, buy the
book—charge to your credit card—and read. The current third generation
Kindle can hold about 3,500 non-illustrated books. The type on the
screen can be adjusted to six different font sizes. The orientation of
the screen can also be changed. To turn the page, forward or backward,
no stylus is necessary. Just click the edge, left or right, to advance
or retreat. It remembers where you left off, even if you turn the unit
off. If you want to move to another part of the text, there’s a
sliding bar at the bottom of the screen.
The price on the Kindle has come down to $139, with the ebook readers
now offered at big box retailers such as Target. You don’t actually
need a Kindle to read digital books; with free Amazon software, you
can download ebooks to your PC. Also, early December saw the arrival
of Google Books, a “cloud based” digital bookstore offering millions
of books online that can be accessed over either your PC, Mac or ebook
reader via free software.

Barnes & Noble has their own ebook reader, the Nook, which looks like
the Kindle except its newest model is in color and is back lit for
reading in the dark. There’s no clicking on the edge of the unit to
change pages; just wipe your finger across the touch-sensitive screen.
But the Nook’s capacity is much lower than the Kindle and the battery
life is only about eight hours, so it won’t keep you reading on that
flight to Australia.
Apple has a super deluxe gadget in the iPad. It is larger and heavier
than the Kindle or the Nook and has a battery life of a few hours
because it, too, is in color and has all those battery-eating
features. The iPad can access the Kindle or Google books libraries.
Prices start around $440.
Not to be undone, Sony has a similar ebook reader, as does The Sharper
Image and a number of smaller companies. There is a scramble among the
big boys to glom onto the ebook market. Thanks to Google and other
internet libraries, literally millions of public domain books can be
downloaded to your ebook reader for free. You can have them all right
in your pocket and with a wireless connection just about anywhere a
cell phone signal can be picked up, you can download a book.

The per download price? It’s generally cheaper than a paperback. As an
author with books on the Kindle and the Nook, I set my own price for
the books I sell online. For the Kindle, it’s between $2.99 and $9.99.
There are more expensive books, but from this author’s point of view,
that’s the range.
Of that amount, the ebook author receives a royalty from the online
bookseller. Amazon.com pays either 30% or 70% for Kindle ebook sales,
which is deposited directly to the author’s checking account. Compare:
if I had a book at a New York publisher that retailed for $25, the
royalty would be 8% or 10% of the wholesale price after returns.
Wholesale means as little as 40% of retail. You do the math. If I sell
a download for $5 on the Kindle list, I get $3.50. No New York
publisher is going to pay that.
What this means for the book business is desperate times for
bookstores. Sales of books printed on paper have fallen 40%, thanks to
ebooks. In Portland, Oregon, Borders Books just closed. Small
independents are struggling. Bookstores may go the way of farriers. If
you don’t know what they are, it’s the people who put shoes on horses.
Is the book on paper dead? Let’s hope not. You can read a “real” book
in the bathtub or on the beach. There’s nothing like the joy of
browsing a bookstore or opening a fresh hardback with the fragrance of
the paper, the cover, and the glue.
I always said that when an ebook reader gets down to $100 and is in
Walmart, digital books will take off big time. They already have with
the Kindle and the Nook.

Visit the Kindle, Nook and Google libraries to find Harley Sachs’ books.

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