New forum for knitters


A friend of mine has started a new forum for knitters, experienced or beginning knitters.

Her name is Vickie and she has been operating her own knitting web site called Simple Knitting for over five years now. Her Simple Knitting web site is mainly for beginning knitters, although experienced knitters also have enjoyed her articles.

Vickie decided to create a forum so beginning knitters and knitters with experience can connect and share their love of knitting. Her forum is called Knitters Digest.

Her Knitters Digest forum is in beta testing at the moment, and is open for membership while testing. Below are links to her Knitters Digest forum and her Simple Knitting web site. Please drop by and help build the forum membership. It’s free to join.

Link to Vickie’s Knitters Digest forum: Knitters Digest.

Link to Vickie’s Simple Knitting web site: Simple Knitting.

No, eBook Sales Have Not Fallen in the UK

The following is an article about ebook sales not falling in the UK from the Digital Reader web site.

There’s a story going around today which reminds us why one should always understand the limitations of a set of statistics before one repeats them in a news article.

The Telegraph took a look at the UK Publisher Association’s annual stats for 2015 and used them as the basis for recycling that old trope about ebooks not killing paper books after all.

For years, book-lovers have been lamenting the inevitabledemise of the printed book in the face of competition from a digital behemoth.

But reports of the death of the traditional book have been greatly exaggerated, according to the definitive annual survey of the industry.

The Publishers Association study has revealed that sales of print books are rising, while digital sales are down for the first time since the invention of the e-reader.

Experts have hailed the figures, saying the claim that the “physical book is doomed” can “finally be refuted”.

Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of The Publishers Association, said: “Those who made predictions about the death of the book may have underestimated just how much people love paper.”

This year’s annual report shows physical book sales up to £2.76 billion in 2015 from £2.748 billion in 2014.

Digital sales dropped from £563m to £554m, the first year-on-year fall since 2011 when PA started measuring e-book sales.

The change has been attributed to readers realising the pleasure to be taken in a physical book, as well as a host of lifestyle non-fiction, which does not translate as well onto digital.

The problem with this piece is that The Telegraph is working from a data set that does not include the entirety of the UK market.

Like the NYTimes last fall, The Telegraph has misinterpreted data collected by a trade group and assumed that it represented the entire market. As the UK Publishers Association explained when I followed up, this is simply not true:

The figures related to publisher invoiced sales, grossed up from the PA sales monitor which represents 75% of UK publishing industry turnover (both members and non –members ) and involves both publishers and distributors.

And the PA’s data is even less than complete when it comes to ebook sales. Remember, the Author Earnings report showed that 30% of the ebook sales in the UK Kindle Store went to indie authors, and another 15% went to Amazon.

This means that 45% or more of the ebooks sold in the UK’s dominant ebook store do not show up in the PA’s annual stats. And the figure is probably worse than that given that the PA has said that their data is not complete.

And while we’re on the topic of ebook sales in the UK, it’s also worth noting that there is conflicting data. Last November Nielsen reported that ebook sales rose 5% in the UK in 2015.

Nielsen’s data is based on consumer surveys, and so they are not completely reliable either, but the fact that they disagree with the PA’s annual stats suggests that we should trust neither, and most definitely avoid reporting either statistic as a fact.

The Telegraph has already made that mistake, unfortunately, but hopefully avoid repeating it.

View the article on the Digital Reader web site here.

E-Book Sales Fell in the U.K. Last Year

The U.K. Publishers Association has released its latest annual sales figures, recording the first fall in e-book sales (at least, those from traditional publishers) in the seven years they’ve been tracked.

E-book sales fell 1.6% from £563 million ($811 million) in 2014 to £554m in 2015. Over the same period, physical sales rose 0.4% from £2,748 million to £2,760 million—the first rise in physical sales in four years.

“Digital continues to be an incredibly important part of the industry, but it would appear there remains a special place in the consumer’s heart for the aesthetic pleasure that printed books can bring,” said Stephen Lotinga, the association’s chief executive.

It seems there was a particular boost in physical sales of non-fiction and reference books. Audiobook downloads rose by 29% year-on-year.

Lotinga told Fortune that digital was “very much here to stay,” and he did not believe the fall—which mirrored figures from the U.S.—showed ebook were “going to go into terminal decline.”

“I believe it’s part of a general settling-down in how people choose to consume literature,” he said.

So why did print sales go up? Lotinga put this down to two factors: The publication last year of blockbusters such as Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman and E.L. James’s Grey, and big investments from the publishers into lavishly-designed print books, such as the 150th anniversary edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. 2015 also saw things like so-called adult coloring books become popular, too.

“People want to buy these things,” said Lotinga. “It gives them aesthetic pleasure and they want to buy them as gifts.”

It should also be noted that, at the start of 2015, a change to EU laws on the tax added to digital products meant e-book sellers such as Amazon AMZN -0.87% had to start levying the U.K.’s 20% VAT rate on ebooks sold in that country, rather than the 3% rate they previously charged due to being headquartered in Luxembourg.

Read complete article at Fortune magazine site here.

IDC reports show tablet sales continuing to fall

“The tablet market shrunk worldwide, according to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, something that would have been big news a couple of years ago, but today produces only a yawn. Yep, tablets are dead.

Well, kind of. Amazon’s sales are growing, as it pursues a low price strategy.

TabletSalesw-IDC-Q1-16“For Amazon, the low price is part of a strategy that CEO Jeff Bezos has referred to as “the Amazon Doctrine.” In a nutshell, Amazon cares less about tablets as end products and more as direct commerce channels for users to buy products from Amazon,” ZDNet said in their report yesterday.

“But the Amazon news was not at all surprising, for two reasons,” Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader said today.

“Amazon’s most-promoted and cheapest tablet last quarter cost half as much as the Amazon’s most-popular tablet from the same period last year. That is obviously going to boost sales, but more importantly IDC wasn’t counting Amazon’s best selling tablet last year – not as a tablet, anyway.” Hoffelder said.

The AAP released its eBook sales report recently, which once again said that eBook sales were down. That report is a bit controversial because it takes its data from the large book publishers and so really is only a snapshot at their sales. Many think the eBook market, while maybe not booming right now, is not declining when sales from all channels such as Amazon and self-publishers are considered.

But with tablets, forgetting for a minute whether one product is included in the report or not, the picture does indeed seem to show a declining market. Why? Is this the effect of smartphones becoming more powerful, larger? Yes, very likely. But I would argue on other thing: where tablets are best, outside of reading, the market is small.”

Read complete article at:

Why a familiar bed provides a good night’s sleep.


That people often experience trouble sleeping in a different bed in unfamiliar surroundings is a phenomenon known to psychologists as the “first night” effect. This is because if a person stays in the same room the following night they tend to sleep more soundly. Yuka Sasaki and her colleagues at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, set out to investigate the origins of this effect.

Dr Sasaki knew the first-night effect probably has something to do with how humans evolved. The puzzle was what benefit would be gained from it when performance might be impaired the following day. She also knew from previous work conducted on birds and dolphins that these animals put half of their brains to sleep at a time so that they can rest while remaining vigilant enough to avoid predators. This led her to wonder if people might be doing the same thing and suffering from fatigue the next day as a result.

Dr Sasaki found that, as expected, the participants slept less well on their first night in the lab than they did on their second, taking more than twice as long to fall asleep and sleeping less overall. During deep sleep (as opposed to the lighter phases of sleep which are characterised by rapid eye movement), the participants’ brains behaved assymetrically, in a manner reminiscent of that seen in birds and dolphins. More specifically, on the first night only, the left hemispheres of their brains did not sleep nearly as deeply as their right hemispheres did.

Curious if the left hemispheres were indeed remaining awake to process information detected in the surrounding environment, Dr Sasaki re-ran the experiment while presenting the sleeping participants with a mix of regularly timed beeps of the same tone and beeps of a different tone made sporadically during the night. She worked out that, if the left hemisphere was staying alert to keep guard in a strange environment, then it would react to the random beeps by stirring people from sleep and would ignore the regularly timed ones. This is precisely what she found.

Read the complete article on The Economist here.

Democracy Index 2015. The Economist Intelligence Unit report.

Democracy Index 2015: Democracy in an age of anxiety

“The fearful era in which we live is not conducive to defending democratic standards or extending democracy’s reach across the globe. The latest edition of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index reflects the situation in 2015, a year in which democracy was tested in the face of war, terrorism, mass migration and other crises, and, in some cases, suffered serious setbacks. In our age of anxiety, the first casualty of fear and insecurity is often freedom.

The Democracy Index provides a snapshot of the state of democracy worldwide. Almost one-half of the world’s countries can be considered to be democracies, but, in our index, the number of “full democracies” is low, at only 20 countries.

Download the complete Democracy Index 2015 report in PDF: