Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reading Is An Investment In Thinking

The Long Decline of Reading
It takes hours to finish a book, even for the fastest readers. This wasn’t a problem when books had less competition, but with the three massive timesinks of cable TV, videogames, and the internet, people look at that massive time investment, and they get apprehensive. Sure, they know that books can be just as enjoyable as movies or games, if not more. They may even feel guilty about not reading. But what if this book is no good? What if I end up hating it? What if I can’t understand it? Imagine all the time wasted! And so they stop before they even start.

A long, detailed, and excellent article.

Strangely, public libraries aren't mentioned at all.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Horror Of Paper Books

This is a post I've kept putting off. Things happen.

Then Wayne MacPhail tweeted this photo he took inside a bookstore:

It gave me a feeling of absolute horror -- and I knew the time had come to actually do this post.

There I was several months ago in a bookstore. One of the few still remaining in Manhattan that offers overstock at incredibly-reduced prices.

And I found a book I would have liked to have.

But I couldn't bring myself to buy it.

I kept having flashbacks to all the times I've had to get boxes, put the books in boxes, carry the damned boxes, move the damn boxes, unpack the damn boxes, and again arrange the damn hundreds and hundreds of pounds of printed paper books.

That book would have been another pound to lug around. Another frikkin object hanging like an albatross around my neck, limiting my mobility, weighing me down, reminding me that it will remain when I'm gone.

Let me say again: I really wanted the book.

But I physically could not buy it.

I've developed a bizarre allergy to printed books -- of the kind that are bought and owned and have to be moved around and that are always looked at and that are also a reminder of one's mortality.

Library books I don't have that problem with.

I can temporarily lug them home, even have a pile, read them, and then poof! back to the library they go.

But I want to own books.

I feel a guilt at not giving writers their rightful payment for reading.

Plus, with things being the way they are -- and have been -- I can no longer count on any public library having a copy of anything on its shelves. I once had to go to the Northern part of Manhattan just to read a short story by Barry N. Malzberg because only the City University had a back issue of the pulp magazine it was printed in!

This is another reason why I am an eBook militant.

I've never been a paper fetishist. My first collection of books were mass-market paperbacks. I never liked the size and weight of trade paperbacks and hardcovers. But I eventually amassed a collection of those too. I couldn't help it: Publishing had changed and there was no longer a guarantee of anything in hardcover or trade paper moving down to cheap paperback!

But the book as an object I came to see for what it is: A cage for the words within it.

It's the words -- it's always been the words -- that interested me. Never the packagaing, never the jail the words were locked-up in.

I can't be the only one out there who feels a sense of material liberation with eBooks.

Recently, a writer I've written about in this blog left a Comment offering to ship me a whole big bunch of books I'd blogged about. I never published that Comment because I couldn't explain why I couldn't accept more printed books. Even free ones. Even free ones from a writer whose work I admire!

So, this post has been something I've needed to do, in reply to that writer.

And to also explain why I have come to absolutely hate printed books.

Yes: But they're better weapons as eBooks!

ECTACO jetBook: Built-In WiFi Coming?

I'm asking ECTACO directly about this.

I got a bit of a shock with YahooMail moments ago. Not one of their usual useless banner ads. This one was aimed right at me:

Composite image. Click = big.

Of course I had to click on that M218!

Click = big

I knew as of last night that this was being sold in China. I never thought it'd be sold here in America.

And yet here it is listed on ECTACO's American store!

This is the paragraph to note, the built-in WiFi and its unique feature:

Click = big

The text of that:
With built in high-speed Wi-Fi, Chinese eBook reader M218B can easily connect to wireless network. Then you can immediately search and download numerous eBook, Pdf files and music. Another exciting feature of Chinese eBook reader M218B is that it supports end-to-end transmission. You can copy and exchange files, music, picture with another user, who can be your friend or just another "eBook-pal".

Emphasis added by me.

I can hear the nascent heart attacks of the dying dinosaurs of print out there!

Alas, the beauty photo of the M218 highlights the calculator-like nature of its screen, and not its ability to be mistaken for eInk under direct lighting:

But I have to wonder: Will ECTACO be releasing an English-language jetBook version of this?

Would WiFi then justify its $299 price tag? Well, not just WiFi -- but its upcoming ePub and MobiPocket capability too!

An ePub/MobiPocket WiFi eBook reader would suddenly help shake things up.

Both Amazon and Sony would have a formidable new competitor, I think.

Previously here:

ECTACO jetBook And ePub
Eejit Geeks. Things Should Just Work!
Micro Fondle 2: ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader
ECTACO jetBook Ups ePub Stakes
ECTACO jetBook At Blowout Price!
More About That ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader
Micro Fondle: ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader

eBooks Search Milestone

Five of the ten terms that have led people to this blog (at WordPress) today are eBook-related:

This has special significance because this is the holiday gift-giving aftermath.

I've already seen stats in search for this blog this week that show an incredible number of people got either an iPhone or iPod Touch as gifts. The number towers over those for the Sony Reader -- but the Sony Reader has not given up the fight yet and has made a consistent good showing.

Dying dinosaurs of print: You better heed this milestone and amp up eBooks to Setting 11 in 2009.

Free eBook By Ken Wohlrob

"Happy Bus" now available as a free eBook for iPhone, Sony Reader and more.
I'm proud to announce that I've made "Taking the Happy Bus on Home," a short story from my collection The Love Book, available as a free eBook for the iPhone, Sony Reader, Kindle and a just about every other device on the planet.

At FeedBooks for ePub, Mobipocket/Kindle, PDF, Sony Reader, iLiad, Custom PDF (the last option requires registration; all others do not):
One of the short stories from Ken Wohlrob's new collection, The Love Book. An epidemic of suicide hits a retirement community in Ohio and one couple begins to question the value of their final days together. These are very modern fables, with a great heart, a very biting sense of humor, and fully-fleshed out characters that you can sink your teeth into.

Buy a copy of the book or learn more about the author at

iPhone/iPod Touch users can grab it using Stanza. See details here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

ECTACO jetBook And ePub

My curiosity won't let me rest, of course.

I found out the jetBook is also in China, called the Dr. Yi. (I don't, however, know if this means the jetBook is of Chinese creation. But I wouldn't be surprised.)

Of particular interest to me is this:
CPU: ARM9 200MHz

Because look at this for the Sony Reader 505:
CPU: Freescale i.MXL, ARM920T core, 150-200 MHz

That says to me the jetBook should have the horsepower needed to deal with ePub files. I had been wondering about that.

Reference: GutenMark

GutenMark Home Page
Attractively formatting Project Gutenberg texts
What is GutenMark?

GutenMark is a command-line tool for automatically creating high-quality HTML or LaTeX markup from Project Gutenberg etexts. As of April 2008, there is also a graphical front-end called GUItenMark that greatly simplifies usage for casual users. Both Windows and Linux 'x86 are supported. Mac OS X is also supported, though in some respects it lags the others. Limited iPhone support is also possible.

In combination with other freely-available conversion tools GutenMark aims to convert Project Gutenberg etexts into publication-quality Postscript or PDF, for print-on-demand applications. The goal is for this conversion to be completely automatic, without manual markup or editing, but for the forseeable future some manual intervention will almost always be needed—at least, if your standards are at least as high as mine.

I took the Project Gutenberg plain text file of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and ran it through this.

Amazingly, this:

To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman.

was transformed to this:

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.

As it should be!

I was impressed with the available options and did some light testing. It could be a very useful tool for Project Gutenberg etexts that have only a plain text version available.

On the other hand, I also downloaded the Project Gutenberg HTML of the same Holmes and it was superior.

But this tool remains a very painless way of changing those text files into a format that can then go on to further processing to create an eBook.

Eejit Geeks. Things Should Just Work!

Ectaco Jetbook downloads
I do not know what a line feed, text editor or DRM is, nor do I know how to convert!

I've just wasted a good part of two days playing around with various "tools" to create an FB2 (FictionBook) file format eBook.

I'm no novice, but the task defeated me.

The tools were shit.

1) One converter from HTML to FB2 ignored photos and styled text weirdly.

2) An entire program devoted to creating FB2 eBooks was buggy as hell and the files I thought were perfect turned out all FAIL!

3) A desktop FB2 file reader couldn't display italic text (but it could display JPEGs -- go figure!).

All I wanted to do was see one -- just one! -- FB2 eBook, even if I had to create it myself!

And here, in the above thread, eBook geeks are trying to convince a member of the general reading public to develop some g33k ski77z in order to do some eBook reading.

That's just half-assed stupid.

That's like everyone having to be a frikkin financial expert (and I choose that example to rub your FAIL 401K in your face!).

Now just imagine the general public encountering that Zero-G Toilet of Adobe ePub DRM!

That's just another formula for FAIL!

The Monthly Digital Lifeline Bill

Numbers to keep in mind
$260 a month. That’s how much the average US household is spending each month on digital services that did not exist a generation ago. They include: mobile phone, broadband access, cable or satellite television, personal video recording. This number comes from a survey by the Center for Digital Future, a department of the University of Southern California. Even more interesting is the amount of money spent by the poorest households: their monthly bill of digital services isn’t as low as one would imagine: $180. This suggests two thoughts: one, these services are no longer a luxury but have become as basic as a car; two, given this amount of money, hoping to squeeze a few dozens of dollars more per month for content services is unrealistic. Except for highly specialized premium services (almost never paid by the end-user), editorial on the Internet is very likely to remain free. European spending is lower, but catching up. — FF

Emphasis in the original.

Yeah, I can see that.

I know my book spending will go stratospheric when I go all-e.


That will end the days of my picking up used paperbacks for cheap. Even if eBooks level out to an impulse-buy price, there'd still be no matching a fifty-cent paperback!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Apex Book Company Needs Some Sales!

Brother, can you spare $15.95?
The economy has taken a huge bite out of Apex Publications. Starting with Bear Stearns dying, you can see an immediate drop in our revenue (September/October/November/December). December has been the worst with a drop of 75% in revenue compared to the August numbers.

The recession hit at the worst time possible. I literally have spent every penny in the coffers doing things like: reimbursing old lifetime subscribers (and yes, there are a couple of you still waiting on money), paying back the Apex Digest printer $12,000 (done, huzzah!), reprinting and reshipping stolen copies of I REMEMBER THE FUTURE (goodbye $600), replacing almost 90 USPS damaged ORGY OF SOULS hardcovers to Horror-Mall (goodbye $2000). I'm not asking for pity. This stuff happens to good people and bad. But stuff happening with the downturn in the economy has the Apex bank account crying for mercy.

What this means is that Apex Publications needs an influx of revenue. Quick.

What this means is that if you've ever thought of buying an Apex book, now would be a damn good time to do so.

The most effective, easiest and most fun way to pump some blood into Apex is to buy a book directly from our store. You get damn fine literature (and free media shipping if your order is $25 or more (applies to US orders only)).

If you're strapped of cash, then blog about our books or authors and try to coerce people into giving us a try.

I figure we need about $2500 in revenue over the next two weeks.

We're taking pre-orders on The Convent of the Pure by Sara M. Harvey, Open Your Eyes by Paul Jessup, and The Monster Within Idea by R. Thomas Riley.

Catacombs and Photographs by Brandy Schwan is now available and all pre-orders have been shipped.

All back issues of Apex Digest are half-priced.

Emphasis added by me.

Apex is a small publisher. The kind of publisher we'll all count on in the eBook future, so give them some sales love.

Apex Book Company store
Apex Book company eBooks at Fictionwise (which look to be mostly DRM free as well as being in lots of formats -- including Sony Reader!)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Reference: Public Libraries And eBooks

The fine folks over at MobileRead have put together a wiki for public libraries that offer eBooks.

I live in New York City, so I don't have to pay the $100/year fee to get an NYPL card.

Suck it up, baby!

Besides, for that $100 fee, you are competing against my domestic borrowing rights!

I hate you for doing that. You know that, don't you?

The Zero-Gravity Toilet Of Adobe DRMed ePub

There's a classic shot in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey when the main character has to first consult instructions on how to use a zero-gravity toilet:

Imagine having to through all that!

And yet -- there is something actually worse than that.

It's the instructions on how to go about using Adobe DRMed ePub eBooks!

Here are the Zero-Gravity toilet instructions:

Now contrast the amount of text there to instructions for using Adobe DRMed ePub:

Can you imagine the poor technically unsophisticated schmo having to deal with all that?

"For God's sake, all I want to do is read eBooks!!!"

Really, it turns out it's easier to take a shit in space than to deal with Adobe DRMed ePub eBooks!

Micro Fondle 2: ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader

Ever since ECTACO emailed me about upcoming ePub capability for its jetBook eBook reader, I've gotten a renewed interest in it.

So yesterday morning, since I was in the area anyway, I made it a point to stop in at J&R to give it yet another fondle. This did not put me in good stead with the hapless salesman, who had to cycle through all four display models (in colors red, black, white, and gray!) to find the one that had a charge on its battery! As it turned out, he had to plug it into AC for a moment to get one to work.

All of what follows is from my memory. I didn't take notes and I didn't pull out the crapcam (I was feeling sorry for the salesman!). The above photo is from the original micro fondle.

Again: the hardware is just solid. Even though the case is all plastic, it has a thick, industrial-like feel to it. Not any part of it feels cheap or flimsy. The casing has a pebbled finish, so it's not likely to easily slip out of the hand. All of the buttons feel solid and do not wobble.

Also again: in direct-lighting conditions, the backlight-less LCD screen can be mistaken for eInk -- except, being LCD, there is no flashing when turning pages.

I went through Settings and discovered there are six font sizes, ranging from 12 point all the way to 32. This is one more size than the newest Sony Reader, the 700, offers.

There are, however, only two built-in fonts, and both are sadly sans-serif: Arial and Verdana. I would have liked at least one serifed font, even if it was simply Times or a variant thereof. I don't know if it's possible to add fonts.

There's a built-in dictionary! The Sony Reader still lacks this. I don't know how extensive the dictionary is, but I'll give ECTACO the benefit of the doubt here because its main business has been electronic dictionaries and translators. I have to think the dictionary is good. In fact, I just went to look at the User Manual (PDF link; with another PDF version too), and it states:
The English/Russian, English/Polish, and English explanatory dictionaries built into ECTACO jetBook allow you to instantly translate an unfamiliar word.

So, yeah, the dictionary is solid.

Unlike both the Sony Reader and the abominable Kindle, eBooks can be grouped together into folders (the new Sony Reader 700 offers Collections, but it's not quite the same). There is also access to the filesystem with a directory display. I'm not sure, however, if any file commands can be carried out on the device itself. Again, looking at the User Manual, apparently so:

Select the Books folder, Music folder, or Pictures folder and then press OK. You will see the Files menu which has the following options: Open, Copy, Delete, and Rename. Select the desired option and then press OK.

The jetBook had one image on it. A 600K-plus JPEG that was a flyer for the jetBook itself. It took a few seconds to open but was worth the minor wait because it looked gorgeous. Since it was most likely shrunk down from an 8.5 x 11-inch size to fit the 5-inch diagonal screen, text was very tiny.

The screen can be rotated ninety-degrees. This worked well and was fast.

I had two problems. When moving backward through the menus, I encountered one in Russian. This seemed to be the list of eBooks, which a moment ago had actually been listed in English! I don't know how that happened.

The other thing was the slider on the left side, which can be used to page forward and page back. It was the one weak link on the device. I couldn't see how to use it with one hand without threatening to have the jetBook slip out of my hand to the ground. At least, unlike the abominable Kindle, it's a button that can easily be ignored and I doubt it can be accidentally invoked.

Operation of the unit had an acceptable speed. It didn't have the horsepower pop I felt with the Sony Reader 700, but it didn't feel altogether sluggish, either.

I wouldn't rely on the jetBook for MP3s, however. User reviews over at newegg give MP3 playback a FAIL:
The MP3 player is a joke. It can be suitable for listening some spoken word lower quailty audio, but if you want to play music, expect poor sound quality. It seems like it doesn't have enough power to play higher bitrate MP3's.

I don't see the point of putting MP3s on a reading device, anyway, so this feature is superfluous to me.

It seems the user reviewers at newegg bought the jetBook primarily to deal with PDFs. PDF is the File Format Of The Damned. It's best for reading on monitors or even perhaps on that upcoming ginormous Plastic Logic reader. I can't see the sense of trying to deal with a file formatted for 8.5 x 11-inch paper on a 5- or 6-inch screen. PDFs can be optimized for eBook devices -- but I don't think most PDF publishers will do that. They're likely to figure such problems are a piracy speedbump (and I'd actually tend to agree).

The jetBook doesn't require a desktop client for eBooks. Simply plug it into a USB port and it appears as a Removable Drive. Drag and drop eBooks, MP3s (bleh!), and graphics onto it.

Two questions I have and don't know the answers to:

1) What is the CPU and its speed? I'm wondering if the current hardware will have the necessary horsepower to deal with ePub and MobiPocket files. As for non-DRMed MobiPocket, I expect so, because even Palm PDAs could do those. But even non-DRMed ePub? I don't know.

2) Since no desktop client is being used, does that rule out DRMed ePub and DRMed MobiPocket files? Someone who knows, leave a Comment!

It's too bad the price of the jetBook is so high. It's perceived value just isn't equivalent to that of the Sony Reader. It's not. I still think slashing the price by a third could excite interest in it -- especially if it will actually be able to do DRMed ePub and DRMed MobiPocket files.

I'd like to see a second dedicated eBook reader that can do ePub. That'd put further pressure on Amazon and its abominable Kindle file format lock-in. It'd also offer an alternative for people who foolishly believe they can't deal with the page-turn flashing of eInk. And if the jetBook underwent a price cut, it could increase the potential audience for eBooks.


ECTACO jetBook photos on Flickr
MobileRead jetBook review and discussion thread
MobileRead jetBook owner photo

Previously here:

ECTACO jetBook Ups ePub Stakes
ECTACO jetBook At Blowout Price!
More About That ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader
Micro Fondle: ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader

Flickr Slideshow: Sony Reader 505 And 700

Another one found via TwitteRel:

An excellent Flickr slideshow of someone who -- via Xmas gift -- is upgrading from a silver Sony Reader 505 to the new 700.

Give particular attention to the last photo. It shows the Zoom and Pan options for dealing with images and text/PDF files.

eBooks And Pricing: No Argument Now!

I was going through my LifeDrive memos and came across a Stephen Levy column from Newsweek that nails the argument for lower-than-print pricing of eBooks.

This column is from 2004 -- four years ago!


This is the key point:
This summer [2004] provided a clue to further harnessing the force of digital nature. For three weeks, Real Networks tried to lure new customers by slashing prices to 49 cents a song and $4.99 per album. Since Real paid the full royalty load to the labels (almost 70 cents a tune), the company lost money on every transaction. CEO Rob Glaser says that the company did get new customers, but here's the real news: Real sold six times as much music and took in three times as much money.

This reflected the experience of Audible, which sells audiobooks on the iTunes Store. Working in conjunction with publishers and Apple, Audible offered some online titles at a fraction of the normal price. One of those buyers was me -- I had been thinking of getting a David Sedaris audiobook to entertain my family on a summer drive, but balked at paying $11 for something I might play just once. After I got an e-mail informing me I could get it for $2, I snapped it up. Audible CEO Don Katz says the featured books on that single e-mail were downloaded at 60 times the previous rate.

Emphasis added by me.

Let me hammer down the point.

Audible was selling an audio-eBook. It sold at sixty times the previous sales rate once the price was slashed.

Let me run some math, and I'll use simple numbers because math usually gets me in trouble!

An eBook at $10.00 with a 10% royalty, one copy sold = $1.00

OK, that's the "normal" rate of sale.

Now let's do the Audible price cut numbers.

An eBook at $2.00 with a 10% royalty, sixty copies sold = $12.00

Which would a writer rather have? A guarantee of $1.00 per copy with an increased risk of piracy?

Or sixty copies sold at a piracy-prevention price that makes him twelve times as much money than expected sales?

I will keep hammering this point home again and again, dammit.

I want to walk into a printed bookstore and witness this conversation:

Shopper 1: "Oh, this book I want to buy!"
Shopper 2: "Me too. But it's cheaper as an eBook for my Sony Reader!"

That is the Marketing Point for eBooks, the one that will drive hardware sales and then increase eBook sales exponentially:

If you buy it as an eBook, it's cheaper.

Remember: eBooks are not like music. People will listen repeatedly to a song. But people don't read an eBook over and over again. Once it's been read, people want to buy something else.

And the resistance to eBooks is not as strong as anyone believes. See Vox Populi: eBooks.

Vox Populi: eBooks

Found via TwitteRel (which I recommend):

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

"To my big brother, George. The richest man in town!"

I don't care what anyone says.

This is the greatest movie America has ever made.

Merry Christmas to all of you.

No more posts until Friday.

ECTACO jetBook Ups ePub Stakes

This news caught my eye a while back.

ECTACO jetBook Now Includes Fodor's Travel Guide
With The International Digital Publishing Forum newly released EPUB specification format based on XML, this is the new standard for eBook production and leading eBook device manufacturers.

Ectaco announced that the jetBook eBook reader will support both - most popular in US MobiPocket format and open EPUB format in Q1,2009.

No one ever did a follow-up and it nagged at me. I'd forgotten about the MobiPocket support (and frankly, that doesn't interest me, being a legacy file format), and only inquired about the addition of the ePub capability.

I wondered if current jetBook owners would have to buy a new unit for ePub. This is what I got in reply via email moments ago:
The latest version of firmware is expected for release in the first quarter of 2009.

You will not have to exchange Your hardware at this point. You will need to obtain the link from ECTACO Technical Support Department and the link would be provided free of charge.

So it seems the current jetBook is go for that!

However ... I'm skeptical after having gotten excited over past tech developments that turned out crap.

I'll remain this way on this development until I can try it for myself.

What needs to successfully happen:

1) It can do Adobe-DRMed ePub (Adobe Digital Editions)

2) It can do eBook borrows from public libraries

This is what the jetBook looks like:

More pictures at the last link below.

The hardware feels solid. The screen can, in certain light, be mistaken for eInk. And it's already damned better than that upcoming eejitastic eSlick reader.

I just wish ECTACO could drop the price by $100. It's being sold for $199 at newegg (see below). If that price could be made permanent, they'd make some serious sales -- especially with both MobiPocket and ePub!

Previously here:

ECTACO jetBook At Blowout Price!
More About That ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader
Micro Fondle: ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader

Twitter Novel By Arjun Basu


Follow Arjun Basu on Twitter.

Update: Arjun basu writes in the Comments:
Thanks. But it’s not a novel. I just want to clear that up. Each tweet is a single story. At the max 140 characters. I’m calling them Twisters. Thanks for the support.

That makes what I screensnapped above even more remarkable!

Dying Dinosaurs Of Print: Red Alert!

Americans prefer news from Web to newspapers: survey
The Internet has surpassed newspapers as the main source for national and international news for Americans, according to a new survey.

Television, however, remains the preferred medium for Americans, according to the survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Seventy percent of the 1,489 people surveyed by Pew said television is their primary source for national and international news.

Forty percent said they get most of their news from the Internet, up from 24 percent in September 2007, and more than the 35 percent who cited newspapers as their main news source.

Emphasis added by me.

Hey, the Newspaper Fetishists used to whiiiine, "Oh, I can't think of a Sunday without curling up with The New York Times."

So, question: Did they all drop dead -- or get electronic religion?

And, no, book publishers, the moral here is not "books on TV."

Get real. Make with the flood of eBooks in 2009!

Free Classic eBooks At Planet eBook

These are all PDF files but they are very well done. Some real work went into these.

Planet eBook website

And for today, I point out: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Taqwacores: Free Sample Chapter

I noticed several people who were led to this blog under the search term "taqwacores pdf" and I contacted publisher Soft Skull Press.

I hope that search term doesn't indicate a pirate edition of the book is on the Internet. Isn't stealing from writers haram according to The Quran?

Soft Skull Press has given me an URL for the first chapter of The Taqwacores. That should be enough to incite interest in the book and let people know if they want to legitimately buy it.

PDF link.

Previously here:

Writer Michael Muhammad Knight In NYT
Two Books To Read By Michael Muhammad Knight

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

This Is The Future Of Book Tours

I need to do this again because people weren't listening the first time -- and, frankly, many still had jobs in the dying printed books industry and so were too smug to pay attention.

This is what the book tour of the future -- the future being 2009! -- will look like:

Click = big

That's Darren Rowse of ProBlogger doing a special "Christmas party" live streaming videocast via UStream.

What was his big outlay to do it? His existing MacBook Pro! And the connection was via WiFi too!

He was in Australia. There were people all over the world tuning in. One person was from Brazil!

The dying dinosaurs of print have asked: "Well, how can we do an author tour for an eBook? There's no ... um, book for people to bring to a store!"

That's how. The author doesn't go to any store. He goes to where the eBook store is -- the entire Internet.

People can type questions. See and hear the writer respond. No one has to deal with bad weather or bad schedules. And the videos can be archived for people to see again later.

What about autographs? I did that earlier too.

Instead of sending a writer out on bad plane (or train or bus) trips to bad hotels and the mercy of weather, everyone can stay where they are -- the writer at home, the readers at home (or likely stealing bandwidth from work!). It's all win.

The writer can even, if so inclined, show the missus and child:

(Happy holidays, Mrs Rowse!)

Previously here:

Reference: Internet Video Chat
How Our Future Does Things
I Am Internationally Persecuted!
Live jkk & Chippy!

Dying Dinosaurs Of Print Slow Suicide

Read it and weep
The economic news couldn't be worse for the book industry. Now insiders are asking how literature will survive.
The end of days is here for the publishing industry -- or it sure seems like it. On Dec. 3, now known as "Black Wednesday," several major American publishers were dramatically downsized, leaving many celebrated editors and their colleagues jobless. The bad news stretches from the unemployment line to bookstores to literature itself.

"It's going to be very hard for the next few years across the board in literary fiction," says veteran agent Ira Silverberg. "A lot of good writers will be losing their editors, and loyalty is very important in this field."

Who was it that said, "If you want loyalty, get a dog"?

Yes, writers who are treated well are loyal. Stupid us. The rest of the world runs on money.

This is key:
Finally, experts suggest that publishers missed crucial opportunities to cope with digital books, Internet innovations and economic pressures. "The big houses proved incapable of looking at the future. I've always been struck at how relatively un-nimble the big houses are," says Tom Engelhardt, a consulting editor at Metropolitan books and the author of the prophetic novel "The Last Days of Publishing." He recently wrote an essay about the crisis at his Web site,, and says he predicted the crash for years -- but no one would listen.

Emphasis added by me.

He's right. Just ask the newspapers.

Here comes the future:
Neelan Choksi, Lexcycle's chief operating officer, agrees that the midlist will suffer in coming years. "There's going to be less support for smaller writers in the traditional publishing model, in the big buildings in Manhattan," he explained. "But self-publishing and digital books haven't been considered. This upheaval will cause many authors to look at the alternatives more seriously." The Stanza reader, for instance, stocks thousands of e-books at varying prices, from free public domain books to self-published titles to 40,000 titles from Fictionwise, one of the leading digital book vendors. That list includes a variety of bestsellers like David Wroblewski's "Story of Edgar Sawtelle," Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series and the nonfiction hit "Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World."

Emphasis added by me.

Lexcycle will wind up with a store of its own at some point. I hope they do it right, unlike Apple. (Stanza, by the way, just got a glowing PC Magazine review.)

What's needed is a WordPress-type thing, where authors can set up a site to flog their books. Basically, a blog with transactional capability. It has to all be blogging-easy, too. Writers don't want to be techies and web designers. In fact, I'm surprised WordPress itself hasn't added this yet.

This bit was a surprise to me. Writer Iain Levison (who still lacks a new website) alerted me to it via email this morning:
Rumors of publishing's demise are probably overstated, but the future of publishing may depend on what those laid-off editors, publicists and industry leaders do next. The morning after Black Wednesday, a publishing blogger and e-book aficionado named Mike Cane stirred up his readers with a bite-size manifesto on Twitter: "If the FIRED NY pubstaff are such hot fucking shit, let them coalesce and form an EBOOK-ONLY IMPRINT to crush their fmr employers." However callous this Twitter-versy seemed at the time, it posed an interesting challenge: Can the publishing world channel all of this collective anger, bewilderment and fear into industry-altering strategies?

Emphasis of me by me.

But really, that guy is a pain in the ass! I should know.

Still, that challenge holds. I'd like to see those book people get back into books -- as eBooks. Apple isn't doing writers any favors and we need book people.

We just don't need Big Corporate Dying Dinosaurs of Print book people.

And neither do the Big Corporations, either.

Apple Approves Of Shooting Nurses In The Face!

mj via Twitter informed me of a game available on the UK iTunes App Store, called Silent Hill: The Escape.

This is the listing at the UK App Store:

Click = big

In this not-so-charming little game, one of the things to do is shoot nurses in the face:

Don't look for it in the American App Store. I already did. It's not there.

That raises several questions:

1) Was it rejected for inclusion in the American App Store?

1a) If so, how can Apple approve it for the UK App Store?

2) If it's still pending approval for the American App Store, will it now get it?

3) How is shooting a nurse in the face not worse than using "objectionable" language?

4) If an argument is made that the nurse is "imaginary," guess what? So are the characters in an eBook!

5) Is provoking people to actively shoot nurses in the face better than passively reading, say, the word fuck in an eBook?

6) Does Apple at this point have any leg to stand on in terms of defining what's "objectionable" and what's not?

7) How can Apple claim a moral high ground in terms of eBooks when it continues to make epic profits from music and movies that are far worse than language in eBooks?

8) When will Apple stop making itself a hypocritical laughingstock?


Silent Hill on App Store

Previously here:

God Bless Writer Derek Raymond
How Many Of THESE eBooks Will Apple Ban?
Apple Bans ANOTHER Book From App Store!

The POPE Endorses eBooks!

Sacred texts: Vatican embraces iTunes prayer book
VATICAN CITY - The Vatican is endorsing new technology that brings the book of daily prayers used by priests straight onto iPhones.

The Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications is embracing the iBreviary, an iTunes application created by a technologically savvy Italian priest, the Rev. Paolo Padrini, and an Italian Web designer.

The application includes the Breviary prayer book - in Italian, English, Spanish, French and Latin and, in the near future, Portuguese and German. Another section includes the prayers of the daily Mass, and a third contains various other prayers.

After a free trial period in which the iBreviary was downloaded approximately 10,000 times in Italy, an official version was released earlier this month, Padrini said.

Don't be fooled. The Pope has the Final Say over there.

And dig it:
Pope Benedict XVI, a classical music lover who was reportedly given an iPod in 2006, has sought to reach out to young people through new media. During last summer's World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, he sent out mobile phone text messages citing scripture to thousands of registered pilgrims - signed with the tagline "BXVI."

Emphasis added by me.

Who knew?

Monday, December 22, 2008

God Bless Writer Derek Raymond

Death at One's Elbow: Derek Raymond's Factory Novels
Their stories are baroque, bizarre, even repellent. The characters inhabit the outer limits of the fringe of those who can be thought of as society's victims, and yet the extremity of their tales marks them as doomed messiahs, their suffering meant to stand for, if not absolve, the suffering of all victims. And while the books end with the cases solved, the evildoers either dead or destroyed, there is no sense of triumph, no illusion that justice has been restored.

Apple is not worthy of having Derek Raymond grace its App Store in eBook form:
Writing about I Was Dora Suarez presents the temptation to play at the critical form of hard-boiled braggadocio, saying in effect to the reader, "I was tough enough to take it. Are you?"

I'm not sure I am.

Reading the book made me nauseous. Rereading it for this piece, I found it necessary to restrict my time with it to daylight hours. Reading it after dark gave me nightmares. Nor do I want to play at listing the specifics of the book, thereby feeding the kind of interest that will send people to it for a kick, the way they go see the latest piece of horror-movie torture porn. I don't know if I Was Dora Suarez can be called literature at all. If it's possible for a book to be utterly repugnant and deeply compassionate at the same time, then I Was Dora Suarez is.

Emphasis added by me.

I Was Dora Suarez is one of the grimmest, unrelentingly bleak books you will ever read -- and possibly that has ever been written.

And where the writer of the article isn't sure, I am: It is Art.
But if it were all to do over again, I would do it all over again; I know my hands are clean.

I felt like going outside for a minute, so walked down to the bottom of Palmyra Square, where long ago I had been sent down to see into the deaths of a young couple who had lived in the top flat at number eight. There had been no point in my going, really, because they were both dead, and there was nothing I could find out or add to what the Brighton police already knew, that they had been credit-card ripping and it was catching up with them --had caught up. They had a great lunch at Wheelers, where they had invited people over to their table for brandies, after which they walked hand in hand down the pebble beach where I had just been standing and then on out to sea. The sea did for them what they had asked it to do and then afterwards brought them back to the beach in its own time, wet as fish and green with weed, their faces greyish white and their arms still half trailing round each other, and I don't know why, but when I saw them like that in Brighton morgue, I was convulsed with what I felt in myself to be a rightful fury.

I looked out to sea again. It was the end of February, the twenty-sixth, and all at once the short afternoon had had enough; it scattered its way off towards the night chased by short, dirty clouds. I remember I got home to my wife Edie in the end at about two in the morning and she said: 'You look dreadful, what was it?'

'A double suicide at Brighton, boy and girl. Banks, credit cards. They asked the Factory to send someone down.'

'Why get in a state?' said Edie. 'It happens all the time, you've only to open a paper.'

'I know it does,' I said, 'and I always want to know why.'

'Well, that's what they pay you for, to find out, if you call that pay, what you draw.'

'That's what I've just been doing,' I said, 'and it isn't that, it's a question of two deaths down to a square of fucking plastic.'

'The pubic has to be protected,' she said.

I said: 'They were the public, you stupid woman.'

'They tried to get their hands into the till and it didn't work,' said Edie severely. That was always one of the troubles with my wife Edie. For her and for her father the low-grade police was beneath her socially; she wasn't the daughter of a big wheel in the fruiterer's trade for nothing, apples by the ton up from Kent. 'Scratch my back for me, will you?' I remember she said then. 'I've got an itch between my shoulder blades where I can't reach it.'

We went to bed and I said: 'I've seen them.'

'Seen what? Look, just settle, will you? Why won't you settle?'

'Seen their bodies,' I said.


'The sea had turned them surprisingly fucking little,' I said.

'Oh?' she said. She added: 'I do wish you wouldn't swear.'

'You just can't help it in my job, Edie. Don't you see, the words sometimes take the place of tears.'

'I wish you'd just go to sleep,' she said, 'it's nearly four.'

'I can't, Edie,' I said. 'Oh, why can't you just be a wife to me for once, just hold me quietly for a while and don't say anything more just now.'

But she said: 'I think you really ought to know it, and Dad agrees with me, you're a dreadful load on me at times -- all this perturbed thinking of yours and you nothing but a detective sergeant who'll never go up in rank because you insist it isn't rank that matters.' She sat bolt upright in the bed, pointed to her stomach and screamed: 'Well, all right, then, if that's the way you want it, look at the load I'm carrying thanks to you, Mr Police Officer with the Lofty Ideas -- I think you're altogether too sensitive for the police sometimes, I really do, and now there's the child due in May with all the expenses it'll bring, and a fat lot you care! She's due on the twentieth, the doc says, and I tell you I am near the point when I don't want to know.'

But presently she lay down again and her voice faded; I was glad of that. That night I realised that I had married Edie for her fatal, extraordinary body, not her opinions. I understood that no body could ever be enough if it held opinions in dead opposition to my own. I already knew that I wanted the coming child, who was, for nine short years, to be my daughter Dahlia, far more than Edie did; I loved Dahlia even before she was born, which may have been why Edie always hated her, who knows, and my love for the child meant that I would always find a means of tolerating Edie on account of Dahlia; I would find some means of growing deaf. All I had wanted that night was to hold Edie against me in my vulnerable hour after that day in Brighton. It was her primitive security that I needed; just a fraction of what Edie's body was giving to the child she bore. That was all I needed to recover and so, through being reassured, feel enabled to get into perspective that greenish couple still in their trailing decomposed embrace, their swollen, expressionless faces nibbled by fish -- what I needed from Edie then was her kisses, her comfort, just for a few minutes, and so prove to me that love can banish the frozen, lazy rottenness of eyes that have been eight days underwater.

We all have our weak moments.

-- I Was Dora Suarez by Derek Raymond; pgs. 34-36

But those eejits at the Apple App Store would deny you this.

I'd like the bluenoses at the Apple App Store to read I Was Dora Suarez. Maybe it would encourage them to suicide and thus improve the human species. At any rate, it'd get rid of them.

Hey, Apple App Store eejits, this applies to you lot:
[. . . ] Disinformation is invariably one of the most powerful weapons available to any regime whose members know perfectly well that they should never have been allowed to occupy the positions they do.

-- The Hidden Files by Derek Raymond; pg. 143

Emphasis added by me.

In other words, Apple, get some real fucking book editors in there to do eBooks.


Derek Raymond tribute site

Previously here:

Writer Derek Raymond Tribute
Writer Derek Raymond

At the old blog:

Derek Raymond: He Makes All Others Look Like Shit

eBook Author Gaps Closing!

When I began this, The eBook Test, blog back in July, one of the writers I searched for was Frank Herbert.

The result was pathetic.

Tonight, via a tweet I saw, I was prompted to go look at The Sony eBook Store for Frank Herbert.

I got this very, very exciting and pleasing result:

Click = big

Prices ranged from You're Kidding Me! to reasonable (e.g., mass-market paperback).

All of you lucky, lucky people getting a Sony Reader for Christmas are going to have a larger selection of books than was previously available!

Hmmm ... maybe after my Mike Cane 2008 blog dies on December 31, I should take another pass at this blog to update listings.

Caliban's End Is POD Available

Following up on an earlier post, after Lulu sorted out all the problems they caused him, Paul F. Stewart reports he has a satisfying POD copy of his novel, What Lies Beneath, in his hands at last.

It looks like this:

Happy ending?

No, not near.

When you use a service such as Lulu, you are at its mercy.

If Stewart wonders why he's not getting any sales, it could be due to the fact Lulu apparently hasn't found time to actually list it.

Look at this pathetic search result:

Click = big

Despite searching both by title and "creator" (WTF?) name, what came up was not his book. Not even close. (I've redacted the result because the guy in it is not the subject of this post and can damn well get his own post pimpage somewhere else!)

This is not good for any writer.

Does Lulu care? Ya think?

How Many Of THESE eBooks Will Apple Ban?

App Developer Strikes E-Book Deals With Major Publishers
ScrollMotion, a New York mobile app developer, has concluded deals with a number of major publishing houses, and is in talks with several others, to produce newly released and best-selling e-books as applications for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Publishers now on board include Houghton Mifflin, Simon & Schuster, Random House, Hachette and Penguin Group USA.

Having these big names is a big step forward for iTunes itself in becoming an e-book shop and the iPhone in becoming a legitimate e-book reader and competitor to products like the Kindle and the Sony E-Reader.

Emphasis added by me.

Cue maniacal laughter of Doom.
The first official books will begin to roll out Monday and include titles such as Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight," Philip Pullman's "The Golden Compass" and a number of others by Christopher Paolini, Brad Meltzer and Scott Westerfeld.

There are already several e-book readers in the app store, as well as a number of out-of-copyright e-books, but ScrollMotion’s product is unique in that these are stand-alone and newer in-copyright titles and best-selling novels.

Each book is a separate application using Scroll Motion's new reader technology called Iceberg and is wrapped only in the FairPlay iTunes DRM, putting Apple directly into the e-book business by allowing them to pick up a certain percentage of each sale.

Emphasis added by me.

What? FairPlay DRM on eBooks?

Unlike other e-book applications, each title keeps the same pagination as the print book, while still allowing the reader to zoom in and scroll down as well as skipping ahead with a feature called "Book Skim." Current functionality also includes note taking, text search and the ability to purchase additional books using a recommendation service over a Wi-Fi connection.

Emphasis added by me.

That's some coding voodoo there.

On any other day, this news would be exciting.

Given Apple's propensity for being censorious, book-banning eejits, it's not.
They plan to eventually roll out the apps on both the Android and Blackberry platforms as well.

And so the eBook ball will be taken away from Apple.

Deservedly so!

2009: Dawn Of The eBook

Opinion: Will 2009 be the year of the eBook?
Will 2009 see mass market adoption of electronic book readers such as the wonder that is the Sony Reader?

For those of us on TechRadar that have had the pleasure of living with a Sony Reader in 2008, we can only hope that the coming years will see these wonderful gadgets find their ways into the hands of the millions of avid readers worldwide.

Robert McCrum, respected literary editor of The Observer, is also a huge fan of the e-book, posing the basic (but fundamentally vital) question this week: "will people carry on buying books?"

"Framed like that, it's a no-brainer," writes McCrum.

While TechRadar largely agrees with McCrum's assertion that e-readers are currently "the kind of gizmos the trade will use to lighten its load (literally)" and that "the reading public has yet to make the switch" he is surely bang on the money when he claims that "the iPod moment" for books, while it has not yet occurred, is on the near future horizon.

Emphasis added by me.

Ironically, that "iPod moment" is now very unlikely to have anything to do with book-banning Apple!

The upcoming wireless Sony Reader will be a move towards that.

But I'm also keeping my eye on Palm too.

And who knows what Asus will do, if anything? Let's not forget the impetus for the original EeePC was to empower kids with an inexpensive computer. Could Asus do a US$99 eInk (or Pixel Qi) ePub-capable eBook reader? (And at $US99, would lack of wireless matter?)

Things aren't settled hardware-wise yet.

But bring on those ePub eBooks anyway!

Apple Bans ANOTHER Book From App Store!

And this time it's an eBook with nothing but words!

E-Book Banned from App Store for Obscene Content
David Carnoy's book, entitled Knife Music, was rejected twice by Apple. Yesterday, Apple deemed some of its content objectionable, saying the book does not follow the company's guidelines in its software-development kit, according to Carnoy (who is also the writer behind CNET's Fully Equipped electronics column).

One line in particular, where a teenage girl uses expletives during a romantic encounter, is at the core of Apple's objections.

"The app was resubmitted last week, and the only reason cited for the rejection was because of the obscene content," Carnoy said.

Emphasis added by me.

Why is he surprised?
"And furthermore, there's 'explicit' content all over iTunes, with lots of rap music (they have the 'explicit' bug on those items). And obviously, Apple does serve up some R-rated movies," Carnoy added. "Beyond that, Apple sells audiobooks through iTunes that feature profanities. It has plenty of best sellers that are in the same genre as my book (Michael Connelly's Brass Verdict, for instance). So, obviously, the whole thing is hypocritical and unfair. My book is R-rated at best. It's not porn."

Welcome to the Apple App Store of Hypocrisy, Carnoy!

Previously here:

Direct Publishing Via POD: A Primer (David Carnoy article)
WHY Freedom Of Speech MATTERS, Dammit! Part Three
Sony eBook Store: Publishers Portal
2010: Back In Your Box, Bitch
WHY Freedom Of Speech MATTERS, Dammit! Part Two
WHY Freedom Of Speech MATTERS, Dammit!
Takiji Kobayashi: Writer’s Revenge
Murderdrome: Eleven Years Old!
Print: Dying. And The Net: No Future?
Apple And A Tale Of Two Bannings
Apple Forfeits eBooks By Banning A Comic Book!

eBook Winners: RH And S&S

Random House recently announced it will increase its eBook offerings thanks to exploding sales.
The publisher already has more than 8,000 books in the electronic format and will have a digital library of nearly 15,000. The new round of e-books is expected to be completed within months; excerpts can be viewed online through the publisher's Insight browsing service.

And now Simon & Schuster announces it's been a big eBook winner too.
Simon & Schuster expects to have nearly quadrupled e-book sales by the end of 2008, according to its c.e.o. Carolyn Reidy. In her end-of-year letter to staff, Reidy said that in response to the growing demand the publisher was making an additional 5,000 titles available.

This is good news, but still not the best news.

Thousands of titles sounds great, but there have already been that available and I've noted significant gaps in writer collections and entire authors not yet available in eBook format here at The eBook Test blog.

I don't think these moves will make a significant dent in that deficit.

I think for every current title one of these publishers releases as an eBook, anywhere between five to ten of the mid- and back- list should be released too. Stop allowing Google to steal from writers!

One thing I have to comment about is Random House's earlier announcement that it's changing the formula to calculate royalties to writers.

I've stayed more or less mum about this but now I think it's time for me to take a stand: It's a good thing.

Yes, I know it will cause immediate pain to writers, but the Right Now isn't my concern. I take the Long View.

Random House is recognizing that eBooks cannot continue to be sold at price parity with printed versions. The majority of book buyers will not stand for that. I don't stand for that.

So lower prices are the future.

But with these lowered prices will come many more sales. I'm convinced of that.

Take the pain today, writers, for tomorrow's better profits.

Will Mac OS X Have THE ePub Program For Writers?

One of the big frustrations for writers who wish to direct publish eBooks using the industry-standard ePub file format is the complexity of that format and the current expense of the tools. Basically, unless you're a real techie, you need to be a professional typesetter because what the on-shelf choices currently boil down to is the pricey Adobe InDesign.

Last week I learned of a new desktop publishing package for Mac OS X called iStudio Publisher.

I immediately read the description of it and emailed the publisher to ask them to consider adding ePub file output support. This led to the revelation by that publisher that another program is under development, called iStudio Bookbuilder -- which will be specifically for building eBooks and which will also feature ePub file creation!

Without divulging any information about the state of its development, let me quote some of an email I received today:
[I]t will be very similar to iStudio Publisher, which is focussed on drawing / layouts, and turning the focus more to writing. There will be lots of features for writers, such as allowing the writer to make notes and save URLs against certain parts of the text, auto indexing, advanced stylesheets, outputting to ePub and many more features.

We aim to sell Bookbuilder at $149 -- however, we will give a discount to early adopters of iStudio Publisher -- and the two file types will be compatible with each other.

That sounds wonderful!

The price is affordable and it sounds as if they're thinking beyond static book-like files, with the ability to tap on URLs to reach out to the Internet. That would be especially helpful for non-fiction eBooks that are tied into timely information.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Loudness Of Dust Settling

The Axe, the Book, and the Ad
A friend (and author) called me recently after visiting a large bookstore in Northern California and, his voice suitably hushed, told me that, on a weekday, he had been the only customer in sight. That's typical of the nightmarish tales about traffic in bookstores and book sales now ripping through my world as 2008 ends.

Emphasis added by me.

Why is this a surprise?

Back on June 20, 2008, I posted:

Even at Shakespeare & Co.’s NoHo store (which used to have great stock; and which now doesn’t).

But they weren’t.

And then I looked around.

And, dear God almighty!, the stores should have had tumbleweeds running through them because they were like abandoned ghost towns!

This was all in Manhattan.

This has never, ever happened before.

Even in past recessions, I’ve seen people in books stores. The places were alive. Now they are dead.

Which now really amps up my contempt for the shitheads running the dying dinosaurs of print.

Do you ever get out of your fucking offices and visit the places that actually sell your books?

How could you miss the fact the loudest noise you'll hear in those bookstores is the sound of dust settling?

eBooks grew at over seventy percent in the last year.

Why isn't that a big enough hint for you lot to change course? To sound the Red Alert klaxon and get busy as all hell adapting to the new marketplace? Is it your intent to avoid being where your customers are?

All of you former publishing employees -- again: If you're such hot shit, Get It Done.

eSlick eBook Reader: GTFOH! Srsly!

Via Twitter from booksin140:

ESlick E-Book Reader Cheapest, Ugliest Yet

From the Specifications page:
eBook Formats: PDF, TXT, Any printable document(after converted to PDF using included software)

I have one primary question: Why are you bringing this piece of shit to market?

PDF and TXT?

Are you all out of your fucking minds?

Why are you going to add to the existing confusion about eBook file formats by releasing something that can read none of them?

What greed-infected jackass at your company thought this shit was a good idea?

What, you got wind that "eBooks are the New New Thing" and decided to pickpocket a few pennies from suckers wandering down that garden path?

Do you really think there aren't people out here in Blogland who can't see this shit for what it is -- and won't call it the shit that it is?

Well, surprise! This is your lucky day. You've just run into the one person in Blogland who will call it the shit that it is!

This is an embarrassment.

No, really. It is. You look like a pack of doofuses.

Call it a mistake. Claim you all had a collective aneurysm and this somehow got loose onto the Internets because someone hit Send instead of dialing 911 for an ambulance.


Just get rid of it.

It's not good for one fucking thing, no matter what the price.

And that slugline? "Save money to buy more e-books"? -- to what? Read on a Sony Reader? Your piece of shit can't read eBooks!

Here's a more honest slugline: "Save your money for a Sony Reader."


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Soft Skull Press eBooks Soon!

Happy happy joy joy!


Soft Skull Press website

Stanza Reader: Not Just iPhone?

Here's a tantalizing tweet:

TONS Of Free eBooks

Well, it would be tons if you put all these on nasty paper.

Finding Free eBooks
All Free eBooks, All The Time.

It detoured me and devoured a half hour as I grabbed free eBook after free eBook. There is plenty.

All legal too.

-- via writer Richard Herley

Previously here:

An Entire Site For Free eBooks!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Palm: Revenge Of The Nerdi

See this post at the WordPress blog.

Nano Fondle: Sony Reader PRS-505 Vs. 700

This morning I was in lower Manhattan and made it a point to stop into the Borders down there.

Sony has upgraded their locked-down Sony Reader kiosks to now display both available models: the PRS-505 and the PRS-700.

People can now have an immediate side-by-side comparison.

Let's get the big issue out of the way: The eInk is darker on the 700 than the 505. The contrast is less and it's all rather unfortunately murky. Mind you, this is with both units standing straight up with light shining down on them -- not with light directly on them.

Still, for sharpness and contrast, the 505 wins.

I understand why too:

1) The 700 screen is recessed to accommodate the sidelights

2) The 700 screen is beneath a touchscreen

Both of these will tend to make the screen feel slightly "underwater" and also affect sharpness.

On the other hand, it really is keen to flip through eBook pages with a side-swipe of the finger, to select an eBook by touching it, to scroll through the new Library Shelf by running a finger along the right side of the screen. These are things -- along with Search and Notes -- that can't be dismissed. (And, yes, iPhone owners, I know these things are available on that. But I'm discussing the Sony Reader here.)

I had zero trouble with the touchscreen, by the way. It was totally and speedily responsive. Just like an iPhone!

The 700 overall feels peppier than the 505. There is not so great a difference in page turn refresh -- perhaps a fraction of a second. What tends to make page-turning on the 700 less stark is what I raised at the beginning: the reduced screen contrast.

Call up the menu to in/de-crease font size and it's immediately responsive. It's nonchalant in displaying its strength for tasks like that. It's overall a pleasure to use, without any sensation of it being underpowered.

The 700's screen seems a step back to the original 500. But there's the increased speed and touchscreen and other features to compensate. People bought the original 500 despite its reduced contrast. I think the same will happen with the 700 too.

And judging from the interest I saw people elicit for the Sony Reader later on at J&R, I think Sony is going to have a damned good number of sales this holiday season.

Sunday, December 14, 2008