New stuff: AirPods, Kindle and Watches

Apple today announced new AirPods, the second generation of the world’s most popular wireless headphones. AirPods revolutionized the wireless audio experience with a breakthrough design and the new AirPods build on the magical experience customers love. The new Apple-designed H1 chip, developed specifically for headphones, delivers performance efficiencies, faster connect times, more talk time and the convenience of hands-free “Hey Siri.” AirPods come with either a standard charging case or a new Wireless Charging Case for convenient charging at home and on the go… More here.

Would have liked to see noise isolation above anything else, but some decent improvements have been included here.

Adjustable front light lets you read comfortably for hours, indoors and outdoors, day and night.
Purpose built for reading, with a 167 ppi glare-free display that reads like printed paper, even in direct sunlight.
Distraction-free reading. Highlight passages, look up definitions, translate words and adjust text size, without ever leaving the page.
Select from millions of books, newspapers and audiobooks. Holds thousands of titles so you can take your library with you.
Prime members read for free with unlimited access to over a thousand titles.
A single battery charge lasts weeks, not hours.
Enjoy more books with Audible. Pair with Bluetooth headphones, or speakers, to switch seamlessly between reading and listening… More here.

Totally standard features in the new Kindle, but at £69.99 I can see trouble for the higher priced models. This does 99% of what 99% of Kindle owners want and it is so much cheaper.

Baselword 2019 is now in full swing and last year we were treated to some superb new watches. It is, however, almost as if this year the tide has completely turned. Some of the new watches on offer, such as the Tudor P01 above, are startlingly bad.

And then came the Tudor Black Bay Chronograph Steel & Gold, below, which is trying to be far too pretty for its own good.

Don’t worry though. There’s always Rolex to take things even further in terms of poor taste as is demonstrated by the Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 126719 BLRO With Meteorite Dial In White Gold below.

Thankfully, the Zenith El Primero A386 Revival, below, offers a sense that one brand is happy to simply improve rather than turn down crazy alley.

For more news from Baselworld 2019 check out the excellent Hodinkee.

Time for a change

In 1913, Ariste Racine and his wife Emma Blatt started a watch manufacturing company in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. They named the brand ‘Enicar’. That’s right, that is ‘Racine’ spelled backwards. This seemingly small detail sparked my passion for the brand. Just look at the fantastic Saturn planet logo, the innovative and outspoken watch designs and the cool adverts and brochures. So much to like. There is enough to write a book about it.

And that is exactly what I’m doing, because it has not been done before. In fact, for a very long time, Enicar was more or less forgotten. In 1984, Enicar S.A. ended and all the archives were destroyed. But thanks to a small, but very enthusiastic Enicar collectors community, the brand is finally getting the attention it deserves… More here.

I never pledge on kickstarter, but I am tempted with this one.

It’s a Gas!

It’s a Gas! explores the surprisingly diverse world of the gas station—a functional high tech temple, a transit zone, a film set, a converted residence, or an abandoned ruin hidden in a backyard. The world of pumps is full of surprises, ready to be discovered in this book. The preface was written by US-American talk show legend and passionate car collector Jay Leno… More here.

Not sure the book will be amazing, but the image above really is.

Going For A Song

Garth Cartwright has travelled the length and breadth of the country, conducting more than 100 interviews with some of the icons of the record shop trade and the wider music industry, including Martin Mills (Beggars Banquet), Geoff Travis (Rough Trade), Andy Gray (Andy’s Records), Ralph McTell, Chris Barber, The Specials and many more. Featuring a foreword by the renowned comedian and writer, Stewart Lee. From the UK’s first record shop, Garth traces the history through more than a century of unprecedented social, cultural and political change… Available here.

Looks like a really good book and it’s available at HMV for £4.99 with any other purchase. Best to grab it from HMV while it is still there…

Strange Horizons

Strange Horizons is a weekly magazine of and about speculative fiction. We publish fiction, poetry, reviews, essays, interviews, roundtable discussions, and art.

Our definition of speculative fiction includes science fiction, fantasy, horror, slipstream, and all other flavors of fantastika. Work published in Strange Horizons has been shortlisted for or won Hugo, Nebula, Rhysling, Theodore Sturgeon, James Tiptree Jr., and World Fantasy Awards… More here.

If you are unaware of Strange Horizons, take a look. You may be surprised at how good the content is.

Download the Books That Just Entered the Public Domain

So, how do you actually download these books?

It largely depends on what site you go to, and if you can’t find a book on one site, you can probably find it on another. For instance, ReadPrint.com, as well as The Literature Network (mostly major authors), and Librivox (audio books), Authorama (all in the public domain), and over a dozen other sites all have vast selections of free ebooks… More here.

Useful article. There are some seriously good books now available for free if you want to check them out.

Just under 191 million books were sold in the UK last year

The sale of printed books rose in the UK in 2018 for the 4th year running. Just under 191 million books were sold last year; sales grew 2.1% in value & 0.3% in volume. Not bad, given that a few years ago, when e-books took off, books were being dismissed as moribund. Tweeted by John Simpson.

It does make me wonder if this is a case of people sticking to what they know and love or choosing to go back to a simpler form of content consumption. Something tells me it is the latter and that this trend may continue in many other areas as well.

Kindle Paperwhite 2018 first impressions

Photo 12-11-2018, 16 32 40

Buying a new Paperwhite is a bit like buying the one you already own. Not much changes and the overall experience feels so familiar that you are left wondering what you spent the money on. It is, however, a product that many, including myself, feel nailed its intent from the very first release and if it ain’t broke…

The latest release adds serious water resistance (IPX8 rated) which is ideal when on holiday and a must have feature which is long overdue. For such a simple product I am surprised it took this long.

It is also lighter (182 grams) and slightly smaller (167 x 116 x 8.2 mm) than the previous generation and this is noticeable at first. It doesn’t take long though to forget that and to feel that the new Paperwhite is just the size it should be. The only other noticeable hardware change is the flatness of the display with no bezel ridges anymore. Theoretically this is an improvement, but for me I kind of like the dip in the middle.

You can now pair it to Bluetooth headphones to listen to audiobooks which is a nice bonus and of course your place in the book is synchronised whether you are reading or listening, a feature that still impresses me to this day.

Photo 12-11-2018, 16 33 38

There are also some software adjustments including the ability to save settings for multiple people which makes it a useful reader for the whole family and besides that it all feels, as I said before, very familiar.

The fact that I cannot write much about the new Paperwhite is a compliment. It has always been my preferred reader of choice, even above real books, and the latest version is a subtle improvement that keeps it high up in my list of products that are worth every penny. I only bought this because my current Paperwhite was damaged in a fall and it had served me perfectly for many years and many many books. I fully expect this new Paperwhite to be just as good and truth be told I don’t really want it to change much.

Iconix

BIC Lighter

Iconix is a comprehensive collection of iconic product design objects, chronologically organized from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to the present. Each spread of this richly illustrated book showcases the author’s representation of the chosen design, expressing its essence and capturing its spirit. In the introductory text, he shares his concept of the term iconicity to help the reader understand what makes these products stand out and why they are considered icons today… More here.

Looks like a decent book with some nice imagery to demonstrate iconic designs, but likely not something you will keep coming back to.