Monday, December 19, 2011


I was at Suhrawardy Udyan on Victory day, 16th December, with thousands of other people. It was great fun.

At one point they brought out this hot-air balloon (with the requisite equipment - a pretty expensive setup) and inflated it.

But they never released it. People were waiting... and waiting... but eventually they deflated it.

Does anyone know the story on this? The weather seemed ok for a balloon flight.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Victory Day

Flag Seller in Old Dhaka.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

ebooks, Amazon, Apple

I wrote about the emergence of ebooks in this week's Tangents but there are some things I left out for various reasons.

One is the EU (and now US govt) investigation of whether Apple colluded with some top publishers on the ebooks front (price-fixing).

The issue here is, there is hardly any material cost involved, why do ebooks have to cost so much?

Anyways, the battle between Amazon and Apple on this front promises to be an epic one. Amazon, to their credit, have tried to keep prices down - for a long time most Kindle books were selling for $10. But when Apple introduced iPad, things changed, I think, because the publishers now had a choice and Apple was more amenable to their pricing schemes. Amazon, otoh, was apparently quite tough with publishers.

In the meantime, I understand that Barnes and Noble is betting their entire farm, so to speak, on the Nook.

I have not seen the new Kindle Fire yet, so do not know how good their graphic display is, but it is Amazon's volley against Apple in the ebooks wars. But ipad has a leg up on the b/w Kindle when it comes to illustrated and photo books. OTOH, the Kindle is great for reading text. Really great.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Narrative Non-fiction

I just re-read a speech on the long-form narrative that I find fascinating, because every time I read it I glean something new from it. Good stuff from the editor of the New York Times Magazine.

For example, having recently acquired a Kindle and an iPad, I read his observations about reading substantive things on electronic devices with renewed appreciation.

Incidentally, it is the New Yorker which excels (or maybe excelled) in this kind of journalism: in-depth and broad coverage of a particular issue by a journalist who spent several months digging in and writing about it. In the 90s, some of their reports of events in Africa, Balkans and parts of Asia, as well as those on health/medicine, innovation and technology, etc were astonishing.

I am thinking, in particular, of the non-fiction of Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers), Richard Preston (The Hot Zone), Atul Gawande (from the frontlines of medicine and surgery) and others. Just amazing stuff.

Speaking of which, there is plenty of raw material right here in Bangladesh for this kind of in-depth reporting (and it does not all have to be negative - there are many positive stories, too...) And while the NY Times Magazine spends over $40,000 for one of these stories, ours can be done on a much smaller budget.

Would the reading public pay for anything like this? Or, perhaps more relevant, would the advertisers see value in it?

(Thanks to Mahmud Rahman for pointing me to this article.)