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Is this the future of the Field Guide?

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This  has been a very interesting discussion.  I stopped to take stock of what I already have, and how I use each.

For paper I have Sibley's,  Natgeo, Crossley, The Warbler Guide, Hawks in Flight, Birding by Impression, a Shorebird guide, and a few regional issues.  Some of those aren't really guides,and definitely aren't meant to be used in the field. I rarely carry any of these into the field - mainly too bulky for me,personally.

For electronics, I have  iBird  and the Warbler Guide that I use.  These are on an iPad mini,which makes them a little harder to carry than a phone would be.  I carry the iPad sometimes, but not always.

I also carry a camera some of the time.

I use the  paper stuff at home, but I'm more apt to use the electronic stuff. 

Would I buy the minibook reference?   No.  Would I buy an iBird Wallet? Yes, and I would carry it all the time,even when not birding.

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21 hours ago, crazed4birds said:

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

This is very useful feedback. I am curious when you were getting started 3 years ago, did you look at David Sibley's matrix/table approach to arranging content, as opposed to Nat Geo's more vertical stack of a composite drawings of 2 to 6 species? Seems they both have pros and cons. If you were advising someone starting in birding today, would you suggest they start with one of these guides, or would you tell them to skip it, and just get a few apps?  

I understand all your reasons for not being interested in these mini-guides and they are all valid. One of your objections is the fact the pages are so small that it would take many more of them to cover the same information in the exciting popular book-based guides. I completely agree. But wonder if there were enough pages to equal the existing printed guides would you be more curious about these mini-books? Or if the content was unique would you look closer? I understand that unless someone discovers an incredibly ingenious new way to deliver printed materials--I'm looking at your promised for years flexible LCDs--I doubt printed books will come close to equaling the data density of the smartphone.

I'm glad the field guide apps running on smartphones and tablets, coupled with the mobile internet, but bummed that they have relegated the poor the printed book to second place status. I estimate market size of field guide apps are probably close to or exceed that of the popular printed field guide books.  With the way paper is dwindling resource, while with apps we are simply manipulating and switching electrons, I do wonder if the app market will eventually make the printed guide a very difficult economic venture?

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18 hours ago, JP48 said:

Would I buy the minibook reference?   No.  Would I buy an iBird Wallet? Yes, and I would carry it all the time, even when not birding.

JP48 you made me laugh. 😂But you are totally right--iBird Wallet makes great sense. The mini-book idea is way more iffy. 

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19 hours ago, Aveschapines said:

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.

That apps are constantly updated is a beautiful thing for us customers. But as publishers we sometimes curse it. Mainly because the economic model has been turned upside down with apps compared to books. But I digress...

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4 hours ago, Administrator said:

That apps are constantly updated is a beautiful thing for us customers. But as publishers we sometimes curse it. Mainly because the economic model has been turned upside down with apps compared to books. But I digress...

That works both ways, though; one of the biggest downsides to electronic books and apps, in my opion, is that they can't be loaned, sold, or given away.

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8 hours ago, Administrator said:

This is very useful feedback. I am curious when you were getting started 3 years ago, did you look at David Sibley's matrix/table approach to arranging content, as opposed to Nat Geo's more vertical stack of a composite drawings of 2 to 6 species? Seems they both have pros and cons. If you were advising someone starting in birding today, would you suggest they start with one of these guides, or would you tell them to skip it, and just get a few apps?  

I understand all your reasons for not being interested in these mini-guides and they are all valid. One of your objections is the fact the pages are so small that it would take many more of them to cover the same information in the exciting popular book-based guides. I completely agree. But wonder if there were enough pages to equal the existing printed guides would you be more curious about these mini-books? Or if the content was unique would you look closer? I understand that unless someone discovers an incredibly ingenious new way to deliver printed materials--I'm looking at your promised for years flexible LCDs--I doubt printed books will come close to equaling the data density of the smartphone.

I'm glad the field guide apps running on smartphones and tablets, coupled with the mobile internet, but bummed that they have relegated the poor the printed book to second place status. I estimate market size of field guide apps are probably close to or exceed that of the popular printed field guide books.  With the way paper is dwindling resource, while with apps we are simply manipulating and switching electrons, I do wonder if the app market will eventually make the printed guide a very difficult economic venture?

I personally don't feel as if the whole app market has taken over birding. My go to when I need to review empid/gull/other tricky ids would be a printed out guide. NatGeo was the first field guide I owned, and I picked up quite a bit from how they formatted that, and I would most certainly recommend people get a printed field guide when they start birding. I think part of the problem with me not being all that interested in the product would be because I have numerous field guides from all over as is, I am accustomed to using them, and they are all greatly detailed and allow for interspecies comparison. 

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this from another "luddite" - 70+ years old and just getting into birding the last oh 5 years or so.  I do not have a smartphone but see the day when one will be required to survive !  I do have a dumbphone and get kidded about it all the time, ( oh be the way..it worked in parts of Canada where the smart phones didnt...could be the carrier but...grinning. That said  I have not found field guides of any type all that useful in the field...perhap I am going about the wrong way but find taking pictures then opening  them on my computer the best way for me to ID then....I do use a "field guide"  then and the Internet...in the comfort of my home - there will be times when even that does not work so am doubtful that a mini book would work. I found Whatbird and think that the most amazing thing ever.  Can post a picture and in minutes (usually) I have an answer that I then check once more on my less that field handy "field guide"

Soooooooooooooooo guess I would say. I for one would not use a mini book field guide as I do not find the present less then field handy books useful to me.  But as a last thing I  would like to add that I did not pick up on any  disrespect from the administrator...my wife does tell me I have the sensitivity of a rock but still..

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On 11/17/2018 at 12:45 PM, jcarscadden said:

this from another "luddite" - 70+ years old and just getting into birding the last oh 5 years or so.  

I was delighted by your post. I know a lot of people do birding like you, in the field they observe. Some take photos. Most sit down at home and use a combo of books, field guides and the Internet to identify the birds they saw and were not sure about. 

Also I think a large number of sales of field guides is for learning about birds, and may never end up being used as a reference in the field. So even a mini guide might be purchased as a way to learn about the birds in your area  

 

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Guest MikeB

Just the fact that so many think this is a bad idea, makes me think it’s worth a try. You obviously think it is. Trust your instincts. 

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13 hours ago, Guest MikeB said:

Just the fact that so many think this is a bad idea, makes me think it’s worth a try. You obviously think it is. Trust your instincts. 

Steve Jobs once said: "I think Henry Ford once said, 'If I'd asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, “A faster horse!”' People don't know what they want until you show it to them. That's why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.” Steve Jobs.

So, trying to describe a new product idea, with a few screenshots and some explanatory text, is usually an exercise in futility. I still find discussing these ideas is useful. It gives you an idea of how people think about a new product. Tells you potential barriers you may face when showing it around or talking about it. And the reasons some people give for why they are not attracted to the idea tells you a TON about how they view the category. We all know that when Steve was working on a new product idea he had a small core of associates that he confided in. Not all agreed with his visions. For example, Jeff Raskin, the founder of the Macintosh project, wants a computer that’s going to be affordable to everyone. Jobs wants a computer that’s going to be the best, regardless of price.

When we published technology books in the 70s - 90s we had no time to get people's opinions of our ideas. Each year I would put together two gigantic document packages containing 15 to 20 book proposals. These proposals were stand-alone templates that not only explain the idea, they cover every reason the book idea will be a marketing success. Publishers would buy the ideas they believed were important. It was like inventing 40 new product ideas a year. Sometimes it was 52 proposals in a year. I got turned down a lot for ideas that I knew would be huge. Can't win all the time was a lesson I became good at.  You can see the results of these "experiments" at mitchwaite.com

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Ford and Jobs were introducing what were basically completely new products.  This strikes me as a hybrid of two existing tools, or the resizing of one tool into the dimensions of another.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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Guest LovesBirds

I always have my phone in hand, but remembering to put a book in my pocket is not very likely.  I really do not care for the idea.

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On 11/19/2018 at 7:47 PM, Guest MikeB said:

Just the fact that so many think this is a bad idea, makes me think it’s worth a try. You obviously think it is. Trust your instincts. 

I for one and a few others did not say it was a ''bad idea''' I believe we stated, ''that it was not for us''...some of us have been birding for 30-50+ years so we already have an abundance of reference/field guides. Plus most people these days have cell phones that can provide internet access making it super easy to look things up in a few seconds. 🙂

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20 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Ford and Jobs were introducing what were basically completely new products.  This strikes me as a hybrid of two existing tools, or the resizing of one tool into the dimensions of another.

Actually Jobs had been working on the iPhone for several years and so had lots of others. The iPhone started as the Newton, then the iPod music player and evolved from there. He had great examples around him, such as the General Magic "persona digital communicator." Here is a new documentary about their development. https://www.generalmagicthemovie.com/ 

Pretty much every product today is built on the shoulders of many before it, and so they are all derivative. General Magic was actually too early and as they were developing the internet appeared and messed up all the plans. Jobs had the internet in his rear view mirror and the iPod on the market and was in a much better position to realize his dream. But he also had an amazing superpower of determination to "make it happen" and the only other person in my lifetime that I feel is like him is Elon Musk.

Quote

On the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, Sarah Kerruish and Matt Maude talk about their new documentary, “General Magic,” which tells the story of a pioneering tech startup that tried and failed to invent a smartphone in the 1990s. Kara appears in the documentary, as do some of the most important figures from the company’s history, such as Andy Hertzfeld, John Sculley and Tony Fadell. Although few people know the name General Magic anymore, Kerruish and Maude say the team’s failure paved the way for the Silicon Valley we know today.

 

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39 minutes ago, lonesome55dove said:

I for one and a few others did not say it was a ''bad idea''' I believe we stated, ''that it was not for us''...some of us have been birding for 30-50+ years so we already have an abundance of reference/field guides. Plus most people these days have cell phones that can provide internet access making it super easy to look things up in a few seconds. 🙂

Yes I didn't hear "bad idea" but rather "not for me".

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Guest Patti

“Click the READ MORE button for all details of the 12.0 update in our forum, and also to find out why iBird Ultimate and Plus have been discontinued and what you can do about it.”  

I followed the email link but haven’t found any news about why IBird Ultimate and Plus have been discontinued and what I can do about it.  Does this mean that I must pay for the new, improved app?

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Yes,  they have their issues and yes,  many consider them outdated but, personally I am a big fan of real print and paper books. Call me old-fashioned, I like holding them in my hand and being able to flip through the pages. That being said I don't think I would like the Mini-guide due to it's size. While the size would make it convenient to fit in a pocket or backpack, I think it would just be too small for practical use. While the written information is important, the pictures are the biggest help to me initially and I think they would just be too small. I like to be able to easily differentiate between male, female, and juvenile  and it doesn't seem that such a small picture would be able to readily show such detail. Also while there are many young birders, It seems to me the majority are middle-aged or older. I myself started bird-watching at a very young age at the side of my older than average and poor sighted mother. She was always handing me the field guides we had because my vision was better and she couldn't make out the details good enough. I always had excellent vision until recent years, and while I do wear glasses now I still struggle with the fine print on cans and such. I guess the point I am getting at is that considering a goodly portion of Birders are retirees and older in years, many might find the small print of the mini book highly annoying. I don't usually use apps while in the field but I do snap multiple pictures with my phone quite often. Then when I get home I will review the best of them and search in my books and online for appropriate matches. I prefer more detailed information to quick summaries though. I want to know range, habitat, food preferences... I used to buy every book I could find on my subjects of interest. Now I find I am more discriminating and don't invest in a book unless it offers new and interesting information or is incredibly knowledgeable.

Best wishes with your book, no matter what form it takes. Shared knowledge is always a good thing..  

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