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Is this the future of the Field Guide?

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Have you heard about the new Mini-Books? These tiny books where inspired by the way people read everything on the smartphone. You can actually fit a Mini-Book in your pocket. The first of these on the market are from Penguin books and include the author of The Fault in Our Stars, John Green. If I understand correctly, this experiment to see if readers can get behind the idea of a book that is only 3-1/4 inch wide by 4-3/4 inch high. It is designed to be held in a sort of landscape position; so when you read it the spine is horizontal and in the middle. The pages flip from bottom to top. You can see this in the inset to the photo. 

I wondered if this could be the form factor for a new kind of truly pocket field guides to birds? Yes, the pages would be very think and probably hard to turn. You would have to use really small print. There are just lots of things wrong with books, right? Printed books destroy trees, they can't be updated without reprinting them, water can hurt them, bugs eat the pages, etc.

What do you think?

Next-Field-Guide-800.jpg

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I'd like to hear what others say, but I personally don't see much value in the idea. The main reason people look in field guides is to get an identificaton. Birders generally would find much more value in images, rather than a description, especially when time is limited in the field. How is an illustration on a tiny page going to accomplish that? 

What's the best way to get that visual? I don't think that a mini pocket book would be very beneficial in making an ID. The size seems to be the obviously problem, IMO. Why not just use a smartphone app (or even just the internet) that provides an essentially unlimited supply of high quality images at numerous angles, lighting, distances, age, sex, molt condition, abnormal birds, hybrids, subspecies, etc. I don't see how a mini hand-held paper book could provide anything near what an app or even just a Google search, All About Birds, eBird Media/Macaulay, Audubon, etc can. The internet in itself uses no trees 🙂

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On 11/10/2018 at 3:16 PM, akiley said:

I'd like to hear what others say, but I personally don't see much value in the idea. The main reason people look in field guides is to get an identification. Birders generally would find much more value in images, rather than a description, especially when time is limited in the field. How is an illustration on a tiny page going to accomplish that? 

Hi Akiley...thanks for your thoughtful response, much appreciated.

I believe your basic argument is: "why do I need a printed book when an app or the internet can provide me so much more?" The counter is a) not everyone has the Internet available when they are birding, b) not everyone can afford a smartphone, c) smartphones need batteries, which can lose capacity just when you need them, d) apps can be overly complex to understand compared to just turning pages, etc. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who has created a successful business around a smartphone app, so I can preach the reasons apps are so superior all night long. I normally point out that paper is very old fashion tech, a destroyer of entire forests, etc. But what I am doing here is not presenting a replacement for the birding field guide app, but rather an alternative. One that is low tech, except for size, which is really amazing when you hold it in your hand.

I'd also point out that if paper based field guides are so inferior how do you explain the millions of dollars people spend every year on the popular printed guides like National Geographic, Audubon, Peterson, Stokes, Kaufman, etc? 

Regarding your criticism that the size is too small--keep in mind I am not showing all the pages for the species account, the bird illustration would also show off the field marks, there would be photos of the bird and much more information. 

So I'd suggest you look at this as a supplement rather than a competitor.

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I don't care for this idea. I find field guides extremely useful especially in comparing two bird species so I'm not against paper books. Firstly: I have tons of bird books including Sibley, Stokes, National Geographic, and even some vintage Peterson's and all of them have better illustrations that iBird(which I assume is the idea for this), no offense. Secondly: I also have several smaller pocket-sized guides and they sit on the shelf and I never use them - particularly because it's very easy to bring a regional Sibley that's infinitely better than a tiny pocket book. Also, I feel like most people who bird wear some sort of backpack or something else that holds essentials like a water bottle, a camera, lenses, etc., maybe a snack, in which they could place a Sibley without much discomfort (we're already dealing with discomfort with binoculars and everything else, what's a relatively lightweight field guide gonna do?).

I get the idea, but it's just not for me. I'd rather bring a high quality Sibley's. 

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1 hour ago, Administrator said:

Hi Akiley...thanks for your thoughtful response, much appreciated.

I believe your basic argument is: "why do I need a printed book when an app or the internet can provide me so much more?" The counter is a) not everyone has the Internet available when they are birding, b) not everyone can afford a smartphone, c) smartphones need batteries, which can lose capacity just when you need them, d) apps can be overly complex to understand compared to just turning pages, etc. Keep in mind this is coming from someone who has created a successful business around a smartphone app, so I can preach the reasons apps are so superior all night long. I normally point out that paper is very old fashion tech, a destroyer of entire forests, etc. But what I am doing here is not presenting a replacement for the birding field guide app, but rather an alternative. One that is low tech, except for size, which is really amazing when you hold it in your hand.

I'd also point out that if paper based field guides are so inferior how do you explain the millions of dollars people spend every year on the popular printed guides like National Geographic, Audubon, Peterson, Stokes, Kaufman, etc? 

Regarding your criticism that the size is too small--keep in mind I am not showing all the pages for the species account, the bird illustration would also show off the field marks, there would be photos of the bird and much more information. 

So I'd suggest you look at this as a supplement rather than a competitor.

Yes, that’s the main point I’m thinking, but I think I was confusing about the rest of it. I wouldn’t rely on it as a primary source for IDs, but as a supplement, it could be interesting. I just think that an app would provide more information, but as you mentioned that’s not always possible. Maybe it would be popular just as an add-on as you’re saying, or as a resource for “bird trivia” with the factoids. It’s not what I would use personally, but I don’t mean to judge it so harshly- my apologies for sounding that way in my post.

About apps vs paper guides, I actually prefer a book like Sibley or Stokes over an app, but I know that apps are more popular with a lot of birders. 

I guess it’s just everyone’s personal preference. 

Edited by akiley
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I feel the same way as @Melierax. I see the idea, but it’s just not for me.

I actually don’t really carry anything around for ID when I’m birding. I very rarely take a field guide with me, unless I’m on a long or far away trip. I have my phone for something if I need it, but I usually don’t. I personally study field guides and other resources at home, rather than in the field. 

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4 minutes ago, akiley said:

Yes, that’s the main point I’m thinking, but I think I was confusing about the rest of it. I wouldn’t rely on it as a primary source for IDs, but as a supplement, it could be interesting. I just think that an app would provide more information, but as you mentioned that’s not always possible. Maybe it would be popular just as an add-on as you’re saying, or as a resource for “bird trivia” with the factoids. It’s not what I would use personally, but I don’t mean to judge it so harshly- my apologies for sounding that way in my post.

About apps vs paper guides, I actually prefer a book like Sibley or Stokes over an app, but I know that apps are more popular with a lot of birders. 

I guess it’s just everyone’s personal preference. 

Based on the few responses here so far, this may not be the best place to ask my question. Because users here have already formed their usage patterns and don't feel any need to change them. It may be this question won't work anywhere. Steve Jobs wisely pointed out that most people don't know what they want or can visualize a new product until its in their hands and they can buy it. I don't mean the feedback here isn't useful, more that I won't be able to draw conclusions from it.

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1 minute ago, akiley said:

I feel the same way as @Melierax. I see the idea, but it’s just not for me.

I actually don’t really carry anything around for ID when I’m birding. I very rarely take a field guide with me, unless I’m on a long or far away trip. I have my phone for something if I need it, but I usually don’t. I personally study field guides and other resources at home, rather than in the field. 

Different strokes, for different folks right?

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How thick would this book be?  Regular guides run about 3/4" to an inch thick for eastern or western, but they have four to six species on each page, front and back.  The sample shown uses multiple pages for a single species.   This format may result in a book too thick to hold as shown, may weigh more than a conventionally formatted guide, and take an eternity to page through.   It better have a heavy-duty spine.

Me, I quit carrying guides to the field long ago, printed or electronic.  I decided I'd rather spend the time observing birds, taking photos or making notes, and that identifying them could wait until I got home.

I can see the format maybe making sense for content that's read only from front to back, but not as a reference.  For that kind of serial or consecutive reading, what's the advantage?  I can one-hand most paperbacks already.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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On 11/9/2018 at 1:14 PM, Administrator said:

What do you think?

Since you are looking for more feedback, I'll offer mine, although I'm not sure it's what you're looking for. Sorry, but I think that flipping the book sideways is a silly gimmick that has no advantage, other than a marketing hook for people that want to have something different than everyone else. Books oriented horizontally can't hold any more information than the same sized book that's oriented vertically, so what's the point?  While a field guide with thinner pages and smaller print would have the advantage of potentially holding more data, I see thinner pages as being more fragile and smaller print as being harder to read. The horizontally oriented marketing hook directed at smartphone users might work, but I suspect that the smartphone users that prefer reading from their phone instead of a book would rather read from their phone than a book regardless of the books orientation. I took my camera's user's manual, which is just slightly bigger than the size you mentioned, and turned it horizontally to try and flip pages and get a feel for the different orientation. It felt weird and awkward holding it that way with one hand and it felt even weirder flipping the pages upwards, my fingers and thumbs just aren't used to turning pages that way. I think the idea of a small field guide with lots of info is a great idea, if it's durable and readable. I think the idea of making such a book and flipping it horizontally is a silly gimmick that would turn more people away than it lures in. I can only speak for myself but the horizontal orientation would be a big turn off for me. Sorry, but you asked what I thought and the simple answer is, not much at all. 

 

Edited by lonestranger
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1 hour ago, lonestranger said:

Since you are looking for more feedback, I'll offer mine, although I'm not sure it's what you're looking for. Sorry, but I think that flipping the book sideways is a silly gimmick that has no advantage, other than a marketing hook for people that want to have something different than everyone else.

Your points are logical and make sense. The only problem is reality gives another story. These mini-books are selling very well. Why? They were designed for the way kids, millenniums and even some adults read their smartphone. You've seen them. Head bent, phone 8 inches in front of their eyes, oblivious to everything around them. I find this activity very annoying not that I mind how they read, but that they rudely ignore everything in front of them including crosswalks, fences, cars, people, etc. They need a sign over their heads that says "WARNING TOTALLY UNCONSCIOUS PERSON WALKING". Let's leave that argument alone and just focus on the fact this new format has found a market. Its real pocket size, super thin pages have caught the fancy of a lot of readers. Clearly not the birders in this forum feel.

For your real life test lonestranger, kemosabi recommends you copy the mockup field guide pages in this post to photoshop, scale them down to the size of the mini book, print it out and imagine hold a rigid version of it. You still may hate the idea. 

I could spend a lot of time debating your points but I think you have made up your mind. I'm not surprised either because the people that work on iBird and Whatbird had the exact same reactions. A bunch of luddites LOL.

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20 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

How thick would this book be?  Regular guides run about 3/4" to an inch thick for eastern or western, but they have four to six species on each page, front and back.  The sample shown uses multiple pages for a single species.   This format may result in a book too thick to hold as shown, may weigh more than a conventionally formatted guide, and take an eternity to page through.   It better have a heavy-duty spine.

The Penguin books An Abundance of Katherines is 5/8 thick and has about 520 pages. By pages I mean a top and bottom landscape shaped page, so really 2 pages per Penguin page number.. For some reason the last 20 are blank and unnumbered. We have about 963 species accounts in iBird and Whatbird. So if we could condense our information to fit in 1 Penguin pages (a top and bottom page like my example), we would be able to fit all of our species information in about 500 pages, or the same thickness. Note National Geographic softcover is about 560 pages. But its pages are 20% taller and wider than the open mini-book.

We'd much rather take of 1,000 pages and have the book be 1 inch thick, but that might be impossible. There is also the issue of color...the Penguin books have nice drawings but lack color. Oh that is the other bummer; there is only a single printer in the world that makes these books and they are in Norway. 

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21 hours ago, akiley said:

About apps vs paper guides, I actually prefer a book like Sibley or Stokes over an app, but I know that apps are more popular with a lot of birders. 

Akiley I think this is a really important point: Sibley is the highest selling printed book format field guide, and my personal favorite too. National Geographic is the 2nd best selling field guide printed book. Both sell up to 250,000 copies a year.  Each new edition has mostly minor changes but they are still a lot of work to update. The books take totally different design and layout paths.

Personally I think each book has great appeal and both are good to own, because of the different views they give of our hobby of ID. But here is an interesting little known fact--these are not the best selling field guide apps. Sibley is the #3 best selling bird app. iBird and Audubon are 1 and 2. In early 2018 National Geographic removed their app from the app store and gave no reason! It could not have been that NG was a poor app, because it wasn't. It worked very well and very much like their book. It may be the cost of app maintenance was too high, or they had some fall out with the 3rd party developer; who knows. 

My point is the design goals for a field guide app and a printed field guide are really different.

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3 hours ago, Administrator said:

For your real life test lonestranger, kemosabi recommends you copy the mockup field guide pages in this post to photoshop, scale them down to the size of the mini book, print it out and imagine hold a rigid version of it. You still may hate the idea. 

If that's your idea of a joke I fail to see the humour there.... *shakes my head*

You can tell Kemosabi that he can take that idea and....(use your imagination)

You asked for opinions and then call people luddites because their opinions don't agree with your's? I will keep my opinion to myself from now on and wish you all the best in marketing your silly gimmick to those that are silly enough to buy into it.

 

 

 

 

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18 minutes ago, lonestranger said:

If that's your idea of a joke I fail to see the humour there.... *shakes my head*

Yeah it was my idea of humor, sorry you took it wrong. I've been very respectful in all my responses, and there was an LOL at the end of the luddite sentence.

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4 hours ago, Administrator said:

Its real pocket size, super thin pages have caught the fancy of a lot of readers. Clearly not the birders in this forum feel.

You're asking us for opinions on something we haven't seen, based only on a couple of rough sample images.

4 hours ago, Administrator said:

I could spend a lot of time debating your points but I think you have made up your mind. I'm not surprised either because the people that work on iBird and Whatbird had the exact same reactions. A bunch of luddites LOL.

You asked for opinions.  It appears you now have your nose out of joint because no one responded the way you hoped.  Like @lonestranger, I'm not likely to bother you again with when you belittle those who don't agree with you.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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I have always loved tiny versions of everyday things, so a mini book holds appeal for me, and I have some. But not because they are full-sized books shrunk down to tiny size; rather because they are short books designed for a small format. 

However, I don't see much advantage to these personally. I imagine I'd get used to the orientation in time, but tiny print and super-thin paper sounds like a terrible idea for a field guide. Since I'm not a 20-something I'd need to pack strong reading glasses and possibly a magnifying glass, so no one-handed use. I can read a regular field guide in the field without glasses if the light isn't too bad, so no need to fish the reading glasses out of my pocket or backpack most of the time. And hard-to-turn pages won't offer much advantage when you're trying to hold the binocs in one hand, the camera in the other, and the field guide in the other... and the granola bar that has just come out of its wrapper, of course, when the unidentified rarity shows up.

How will they stand up to sweat, mustard smears from your sandwich, coffee drips from thermoses, sudden rain (or rarites seen in a downpour, causing the field guide to come out of the waterproof bag), dropping open page side down on a damp mossy log in the rain forest, bird poop, grease spots from all the *itos that birders eat in the field, etc.? I also normally don't take a field guide into the field anymore, and when I do often only use them for something to browse through while I take a meal break. I do study and them at home, and prefer to get first a good description (which I write in my field notebook) and then if possible photos, for later ID at home. When I do take a field guide, it's not my Sibley or my Howell and Webb, because they are like hauling around a couple of bricks, but a smaller one; and I put a pocket for that purpose on my birding vest. BTW some of us need the big Sibley, because we get both eastern and western migrants here. 

I also believe you when you say the tiny books are selling well, but are they going to be a long-term success or just a fad? Why won't the kids, etc. just go back to reading on their phones once the novelty wears off, and you still need a pocket stuffed with books for a trip instead of hundreds of books in your phone? I am having trouble getting used to reading books on phone, iPod, etc.; I got the new Central American Peterson in digital form, and it's just not the same, even though I can take it into the field on my phone. But if I felt totally comfortable using books on electronic formats, why would I want a paper book to imitate that experience? Why not just read it on my phone?

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20 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

You're asking us for opinions on something we haven't seen, based only on a couple of rough sample images.

You asked for opinions.  It appears you now have your nose out of joint because no one responded the way you hoped.  Like @lonestranger, I'm not likely to bother you again with when you belittle those who don't agree with you.

I asked for opinions and agreed with all of them. However I continued to present another side of the argument by suggesting that perhaps there is a market for these mini-books but it just doesn't meet the needs of some of people in this forum. I had absolutely no hope for how people responded. I thanked each person for their opinion. I made a small joke at the end with a LOL to indicate it was in jest. It seems like a few people took that the wrong way. Based on this I"m not going to do anything different in the future. If you are worried about getting a response from me you don't like you can simply not respond. 

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12 hours ago, Aveschapines said:

I have always loved tiny versions of everyday things, so a mini book holds appeal for me, and I have some. But not because they are full-sized books shrunk down to tiny size; rather because they are short books designed for a small format. 

However, I don't see much advantage to these personally. I imagine I'd get used to the orientation in time, but tiny print and super-thin paper sounds like a terrible idea for a field guide. Since I'm not a 20-something I'd need to pack strong reading glasses and possibly a magnifying glass, so no one-handed use. I can read a regular field guide in the field without glasses if the light isn't too bad, so no need to fish the reading glasses out of my pocket or backpack most of the time. And hard-to-turn pages won't offer much advantage when you're trying to hold the binocs in one hand, the camera in the other, and the field guide in the other... and the granola bar that has just come out of its wrapper, of course, when the unidentified rarity shows up.

How will they stand up to sweat, mustard smears from your sandwich, coffee drips from thermoses, sudden rain (or rarites seen in a downpour, causing the field guide to come out of the waterproof bag), dropping open page side down on a damp mossy log in the rain forest, bird poop, grease spots from all the *itos that birders eat in the field, etc.? I also normally don't take a field guide into the field anymore, and when I do often only use them for something to browse through while I take a meal break. I do study and them at home, and prefer to get first a good description (which I write in my field notebook) and then if possible photos, for later ID at home. When I do take a field guide, it's not my Sibley or my Howell and Webb, because they are like hauling around a couple of bricks, but a smaller one; and I put a pocket for that purpose on my birding vest. BTW some of us need the big Sibley, because we get both eastern and western migrants here. 

I also believe you when you say the tiny books are selling well, but are they going to be a long-term success or just a fad? Why won't the kids, etc. just go back to reading on their phones once the novelty wears off, and you still need a pocket stuffed with books for a trip instead of hundreds of books in your phone? I am having trouble getting used to reading books on phone, iPod, etc.; I got the new Central American Peterson in digital form, and it's just not the same, even though I can take it into the field on my phone. But if I felt totally comfortable using books on electronic formats, why would I want a paper book to imitate that experience? Why not just read it on my phone?

Very good points Helen, and they will all bear on the success of any Mini-book based Field Guide. I too wonder how the thin pages will stand up in the field, how hard will they be to turn, what is there shelf life if they get wet or stained.

I found on the copyright page that these thin pages are called Thinopaque by Tervakovksi in Finland. The copyright page also included this: Dwarsligger (TM) is a new book concept created by printer and publisher Royal Jongbloed bv (Heerenveen, the Netherlands). The web site is https://www.dwarsligger.com. I emailed dwarsligger yesterday and asked if they have the capacity to print in color, which is critical for the success of any field guide. I'll let everyone know what I get back.

I'm not sure why kids (or whoever is buying these books) prefers them over the phone, that would need a long study to determine. You can slip the tiny mini-book (they call them Flipbooks) in any of your pockets along with your cell phone and so I think maybe its not an "either or" type of purchase. 

Truth be told I think the majority of birders that own guides won't be excited about these books. But another factoid is that 90% of sales of apps and field guides go to people that are new to birding, rather than experienced birders. 

Thanks for your feedback.

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I agree with the above responses. I would like to add to Aveschapines' response and say that I think this is a fad. Being a 16 year old birder who I would say is well versed in modern culture, this idea is not going to take off. You say this should appeal to young people who have their faces stuck in their phones - I say quite the opposite. I am part of the online teen culture of birding and they would not like this idea, even new birders. They prefer online websites like birds of north america, all about birds, and now eBird (new explore species feature), even when in the field. When the internet is out or people want better comparisons, they use a normal field guide and at that point it would be pointless to have a smaller guide. (It's pretty much a miniature meme that young birders don't like iBird (mainly because of the illustrations)). In an online world where the culture can change within a month, week, even a day, this will fall by the wayside as just another fad. People like simple, ordinary, and practical. I think someone might buy it just for the idea, but then realize that it's hard to use in the field and, as Aves said, does not withstand the heavy use that comes with birding.

At first I thought you posted this to see what we thought about the idea in order to decide whether or not this should be put into production. But it seems you showed up with preconceived notions as to what the response was going to be, and now you're disappointed it's not what you had hoped. Since birders like the people on this forum are your audience, I suggest you take into account their responses instead of throwing them aside simply because they don't look positively on the idea. True, we're just a small sample of people, but we essentially represent your audience. Not trying to be rude, but I think you're just looking for affirmation and anything other than that is just something to be argued away without full consideration. But it's not your opinion that matters - it's the consumers'. If people see a product like this on the market, this is the response people will give. Since the consumers on this website are obviously looking on this idea negatively, I think you should reconsider putting this into production unless you want to risk it on the few people who buy it once and never recommend it to anyone else.

You say that other people have already made up their minds, and that if people are worried about a negative response, they should "simply not respond". So far you've posted already having made up your mind (complete with articles and other facts that argue your idea), and with all the negative responses you've replied with "this may not be the best place to ask my question", indicating you're choosing ignoring the opinions simply because they don't agree with yours. But it doesn't matter how stupid the consumers' opinion is - it's the opinion that dictates whether or not this will be a success. You can't change the minds of your entire audience unless you have a highly skilled advertisement company and a lot of money, at which point it might have been better to simply forget about the idea.

If you don't believe me, I can post this topic to all 60 or so young birders, many of them new, on discord and ask their opinion. I'd be glad to and it'd hopefully be good info for you.

I wish you the best of luck.

Edited by Melierax
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@Administrator, understood.  I was composing my reply before your previous explanation hit the page.  I've also seen too many posts with 'LOL' in at the end even when there's no joke, to the point that it no longer has any meaning to me.  Some people append it to every post, as it were a period or a editor's '-30-'.  But based on the peer messages I've received, lonestranger and I weren't the only ones confused by your phrasing.

It doesn't help that you're being inconsistent with your descriptions:

On 11/9/2018 at 1:14 PM, Administrator said:

Yes, the pages would be very think and probably hard to turn. You would have to use really small print. There are just lots of things wrong with books, right? Printed books destroy trees, they can't be updated without reprinting them, water can hurt them, bugs eat the pages, etc.

That's not going to encourage positive feedback for this or any other print format

On 11/12/2018 at 1:01 PM, Administrator said:

b) not everyone can afford a smartphone,

Then they won't already be accustomed to holding one, or holding a book shaped like one.

On 11/12/2018 at 1:01 PM, Administrator said:

But what I am doing here is not presenting a replacement for the birding field guide app, but rather an alternative.

That may be, but I saw it as a replacement for standard sized printed field guides.  Based on the comments, that's the comparison others are making, too.

On 11/12/2018 at 1:01 PM, Administrator said:

keep in mind I am not showing all the pages for the species account, the bird illustration would also show off the field marks, there would be photos of the bird and much more information. ... We have about 963 species accounts in iBird and Whatbird. So if we could condense our information to fit in 1 Penguin pages (a top and bottom page like my example), we would be able to fit all of our species information in about 500 pages, or the same thickness.

 

I don't see how you can condense the information described in the first quote above into just a top and bottom page; maybe ditch the ''Fun Facts'?  The glaring omission is a range map.

Also, I don't understand what information is being conveyed by the icons at the bottom of the page.  I'll assume there would be a legend in the front.  In that case, you'll have to avoid having too many different icons for people to conveniently remember.  Otherwise they'll have to check the legend regularly,  which may be a turn off.

On 11/13/2018 at 11:22 AM, Administrator said:

These mini-books are selling very well. 

Are any of them reference works readers will jump around in, or are they all fiction and other genres written to be read front-to-back?

I'm certainly playing Devil's Advocate here, but I doubt we're being as rough as a venture capitalist or board of directors would be.  And we're still opining on something we don't have access to, which makes informed opinions difficult.

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On 11/13/2018 at 11:22 AM, Administrator said:

These mini-books are selling very well.

 

18 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Are any of them reference works readers will jump around in, or are they all fiction and other genres written to be read front-to-back?

Another thought on this point: novels aren't usually read repeatedly, week-in and week-out.  They're read once, maybe paged through a couple of times to find a previous plot point, then shelved until re-read months or years later.  The pages are going to hold out longer for fiction than a reference being thumbed dozens of times a day, several days a month.

I realize I'm making comparisons of this format to novels only, but so far those are the only two examples you've cited.

Do you think you could produce these for substantially less than a standard sized guide?  If not, when I'm in the bookstore looking at this beside Sibley's, etc., portability appears to be the only advantage to this format to this Luddite.  I don't see that as a winner for comparably priced products.

Edited by Charlie Spencer

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I had to look up the term Luddite [**see below]...yep, that would be me, especially since I'm 70+%  English. I do not own a Smart cell phone or even a Stupid one...I have a telephone sitting on a table in my living room and one hanging on the wall in my kitchen...no joke! 
I hear this all the time, ''I tried to call you but no answer''
...''yeah, well I wasn't home''
...''you need a cell phone''
...''um, no I don't...I have an answering machine, leave a message, I'll get back to you''
...''well, I don't talk to answering machines''
...''well, I don't walk around with a phone in my hand so good luck trying to talk to me.'' 

**LUDDITE:[per Wikipedia]
The word Luddite is generally used as a derogatory term applied to people showing technophobic leanings. The name is based on the historical legacy of the English Luddites, who were active between 1811 and 1816. 

As for the new-fangled book...Would I buy it? No. I do not carry a guide in the field...usually, all I take is a camera, binoculars and maybe, if I remember to grab them a pen and notepad. For me it doesn't sound like a '' user-friendly'' book...small, thin pages with small print. I've been birding since I was old enough to say, ''birdie''...so about 60+ yrs. As you can most-likely imagine given my age,  the old eyes are not the best even with bifocals and fumble-fingeritis has set in...plus I already own a slew of bird books so this book won't be on my wish list. And, I've never been one to fall for everything that comes down the pike as some folks do...darn Luddite DNA!  🙂

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Alright here's my take, as a teen birder:

I honestly just don't see the value here. I have never heard of "minibooks" before this, and I will likely never buy one. I see no problem with just getting a paper/hardcover and plopping down somewhere to read for a few hours. I don't need to feel like I'm swiping through an Instagram feed to read.

I rarely take a field guide into the birding with me as is, and really haven't since I started birding. I never used one of those "pocket-sized field guides" just because they did not have the detail that I could get within a Sibley or NatGeo. I'm just trying to imagine something with even smaller font/images. When I started birding in mid-2015, my NatGeo proved to be a very useful guide, as I could see similar species and compare the two on one page. It seems to me that in a "minibook" that this would not be possible, just due to the tiny page size. With the smaller page size too, I think that many of the illustrations would lose much detail, with many of the key identifying features being harder to see/not visible at all. 

I honestly don't see the problem with a phone either. Granted, they do have battery life (which I just pack a good portable charger for), but the cellular issue can be fixed fairly easily by downloading packs and whatnot for offline usage. The advantage about the field guides on a phone too (I only have Merlin), is that they offer birds in multiple natural positions, as well as a variety of sounds. 

To me, there really would be no need for a minibook field guide. I'd much rather save my money for something I'd actually use.

PS: The demo image technically violates forum rules, the words second from top left and somewhere in the middle on the bottom page seem to be a bit expletive. 

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5 hours ago, Administrator said:

But another factoid is that 90% of sales of apps and field guides go to people that are new to birding, rather than experienced birders. 

That makes perfect sense to me, since new birders buy field guides and then they have them; experienced birders generally they won't buy them again unless a new field guide comes out. Even more so for apps, because they update. I bought all of mine in the first year I was birding, except for the new Peterson's that just came out two years ago.

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