Tuesday, September 8, 2009

STOP! This Blog Has Moved To WordPress!

I'm in the process of moving over to WordPress.

No new posts will appear here.

Go to The eBook Test at WordPress.

Update your RSS!

WordPress also has rssCloud!

Monday, September 7, 2009

RSSCloud: This Will Be Huge For eBooks

Tease! Tease! Tease!

WordPress Just Made Millions of Blogs Real-Time With RSSCloud

RSS in the Clouds

Just two things right off the top of my head:

1) Being notified by a publisher when an eBook from an author you want to read has been put on sale (not everyone gets the months-in-advance Dan Brown hype treatment)

2) Being notified by your local library that an eBook you've been waiting to borrow has just been returned right now

Is Steve Haber and his upcoming 3G-enabled Sony Reader Daily Edition paying attention?

Should I Move This Blog To WordPress?

The advantage of Blogger is that I can get a post up faster than at WordPress. The posting interface is less cloggy to my browser (which is Firefox 2.x because of my crap desktop hardware).

Trying to divine reader stats for this blog is a royal pain with Blogger.

Also, paradoxically, I've always found WordPress to be incredible for getting my posts into Google and other search engine results quickly.

Last, I don't like the way photos are handled here. I can never tell how or when Blogger will resize something -- or the why of it, either.

So, I've imported all of this blog into WordPress as a test.

None of the graphics have been imported -- they simply link back to here to for now.

Should I move or not? Comment!

The Continuing Horror Of ePub

Kat Meyer RTed this. After reading it, I got pissed because it was some of the same things I said before and took crap for saying so.

On Formats and Friction
Let me state up front that I think all the current formats suck beyond words. We live in a world where a web app can behave just like a really fancy desktop app… where onscreen design can easily surpass what is economical in print design, and where a great many devices (desktops and smartphones at least) have enough raw power to get the job done. And yet we’re stuck with something akin to a spit-and-polish version of the Mosaic browser.

After expressing my anger on Twitter ...

Not me!

Another Adobe Milestone In eBook History

Asus Atomic Bomb eBook Reader?

Two reports today confirming that Asus plans at least two models of an eBook reading device:

Tech news: For the smarter kind of bookworm

The budget version of the Asus ereader will be more in keeping with the Taiwanese company’s reputation for producing cut-price gadgets. Dubbed the Eee Reader, after Asus’s cheap-as-chips Eee PC netbook range, it is likely to take on the competition on price rather than features. The cheapest rival on the market is the Cool-er, which costs £189. Asus is thought to be aiming nearer the £100 mark.

There's many things one can say about Asus, but none of them are what I've heard about the Cool-er. The Cool-er is fall-apart hardware from PVI that lives down to its bottom-feeder reputation. Asus EeePCs, on the other hand, have had generally stellar ratings all across the board.

ASUS planning dual screen Eee Reader: world's cheapest e-book reader
According to president Jerry Shen, the Eee Reader will become the planet's cheapest e-book reader, though a premium model could also be launched to satisfy those craving higher-end features -- probably amenities like inbuilt 3G, a web browser and expandable storage.

Asus is also a company that dares to dream.

It pioneered netbooks, popularized them, churned out more of them in a shorter period of time than Sony did of PalmOS-based CLIEs, put MultiTouch in them, made them easily hackable, and created an entire new category of portable computing device.

They came out of nowhere and created an Apple-like earthquake in digital devices.

And now they are aiming at the eBook.

To say that the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, and all other eInk devices have just been sent to their doom is to state the obvious.

Here are a bunch of photos I've culled from the Net of a prototype eBook reader Asus recently displayed:

The Register Click = big

TechArena Click = big

The Register Click = big

Ferra Labs Click = big

As for a screen, really, there is only one choice for Asus: Pixel Qi, which states on its website:
Our first screens will be 10" diagonal screens for netbooks and ebook readers that are sampling now and will ship in high volume in late 2009. These screens rival the best epaper displays on the market today but in addition have video refresh and fully saturated color. The epaper mode has 3 times the resolution of the fully saturated color mode allowing for a high resolution reading experience without sacrifice to super color fidelity for graphics. In addition these screens can be used in sunlight. Look for them in the market in the second half of 2009.

This is a photo comparing the Pixel Qi screen in ePaper mode to the eInk display of the Amazon Kindle in outdoor sunlight:

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It's obvious the Pixel Qi screen is superior in terms of resolution and contrast.

Asus could crank that sucker out at massive scale and plummet the per-unit cost. It could also then move it into its netbook line, causing refresh upgrades there for people interested in better battery life and outdoor use.

It'd be all-win for Asus.

The one question remaining is: Adobe-DRM ePub compatibility?

Do we need to even ask that?

Asus is the company that brought Microsoft to its knees, causing it to slash the price of Windows XP.

They will do the same with Adobe and its license.

You think Adobe hasn't seen what happened to Microsoft? You think Adobe doesn't realize Asus = jillions of sales?

All of you companies that are planning on eInk eBook devices? Don't bother. Stop now. Liquidate your companies. You're dead.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Qisda (Formerly BenQ) To Do eBook Reader

Inflate that eBook Bubble!

You wouldn't know it from the Wikipedia entry, but Qisda was formerly well-known as BenQ.

Now their website lists an eBook reader as in the pipeline:

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Qisda to Carve Out Niches with E-Book Readers

Previous eBook Bubble posts:

Toshiba: We'll Do An eBook Device Too!
Yet Another eBook Device: Oaxis
The eBook Bubble Coming To CES 2010
eBook Bubble Notes

Friday, September 4, 2009

Would A US$50 eBook Reader Be A Disaster?

Study: Everyone Wants a Kindle–For $50

New Forrester Report: The eReader Price Squeeze
What we found was that the price points for how most consumers value eReaders is shockingly low--for most segments, between $50 and $99.

Emphasis added by me.

I've been down this road once before: Wednesday, October 8, 2008, Sony Reader PRS-700: Part Three:
When it came to Jim Malcolm, Sony's Director of Corporate Marketing for Mobile Lifestyle Products, I brought up the hardware pricing issue.

He saw this poll result:

I've wailed for lower prices. As recently as this week, so has Dear Author.

This is basically what Malcolm told me. The poll results are from those who are tech-savvy early adopters. They already know the price of things and so, of course, would love eBook reading devices to even be as low as five for $20.00. Malcolm claims that Sony's own research shows that hardware price is actually not a factor. Can I argue with their expertise and proprietary, professional research?

Yes. I know. I'm stubborn. Or I'm just an absolute eejit when it comes to real-world marketing, but I can't but help to point once again to the example of Henry Ford and the Model T. Plus, there are the more recent examples of the Commodore-64 and the Asus EeePC.

Since then, that poll has added votes:

But wait, as the bad TV ads say, there's more:

If half the people who own these devices are buying nothing, then there are at least three things happening here:

1) Piracy is rampant. That depends. So far, the only popular eBook format that has not been cracked is Sony's own BBeB. Most people say it's because the market is too small to attract the pirates. Most of the pirated material I've stumbled on has been either plain text or PDF -- not file formats for the Kindle, the Sony Reader, or other such devices. So I doubt piracy.

2) People are reading only free eBooks. Really? I doubt this too. Why spend money on an expensive single-purpose device to read free?

3) There is no market for eBooks people must buy. And yet there's the Kindle Store, the Sony eBookstore, Smashwords, et al. Yet none of them have actually published sales figures. And when writers have, the amounts of money mentioned have been equal to less than a one-month rent payment in New York City. Plus: that earned amount is not sustained over the long run. Is there no real market -- yet?

Would a US$50 or even US$99 eBook reading device explode the market?

That's possible ... but the ramifications of that would not be good for many.

Right now, people are paying at least US$200 for an iPhone (a little more for an iPod Touch) -- and there is resistance to paying for software!

See: iPhone piracy - the cold hard figures.

That app retailed for an impulse-buy price of just US$1.99!

And yet people were stealing it right and left.

So what would happen when someone buys an eBook device for only US$50 or $US99?

Do you think people are going to look at an eBook priced at US$9.99 as being reasonable?

Hell no!

"Wait a minute. If I buy just five (or ten) eBooks, I've paid as much for them as for this hardware. The hell with that!!!111"

This does not bode well for the future. At least in the United States. Elsewhere, such a low price for an eBook reader would be a boon. See: In the footsteps of Carnegie.

And speaking of Carnegie, we don't exactly live in a society where people express the sentiment he once did:
When I was a working-boy in Pittsburgh, Colonel Anderson of Allegheny – a name I can never speak without feelings of devotional gratitude – opened his little library of four hundred books to boys. Every Saturday afternoon he was in attendance at his house to exchange books. No one but he who has felt it can ever know the intense longing with which the arrival of Saturday was awaited, that a new book might be had.

Has anyone ever witnessed a line to a public library to rival, say, one to buy an iPhone?

No, don't bring up Harry Potter and bookstores. That's an event. The lines disappeared after that event.

Learning is not a one-off event. Yet public library patronage increases only during tough economic times. Like now.

So where does this leave us?

1) A public that is generally indifferent to book buying

2) A public that if given an inexpensive eBook reader would likely resist current eBook prices

3) The continued devaluation of the eBook

None of this is good for things as they are currently arranged.

Toshiba: We'll Do An eBook Device Too!

Toshiba to launch an e-book reader mid-2010 - EXCLUSIVE
Due to launch in "mid-2010", Simons claimed they are "looking at 7 and 9-inch models", however they'll have to "see how much the 9-inch would cost", before that size ever makes it to the market.

Interestingly, Simons said Toshiba won't be going down the touchscreen route like Sony did with its Reader Touch model (pictured), instead preferring a non-touchscreen model. Simons told us "you don't need a touchscreen to make an e-book reader work", with the buttons doing it justice apparently.

Toshiba's JournE touch to get VoIP and ebook functionality, dedicated e-reader planned for 2010
Perhaps more intriguing is confirmation that Toshiba is planning a new ebook device with similar inspiration as the JournE (Toshiba already makes the much different Biblio reader for Japan), but is holding off until a standard book format and distribution model is nailed down by the industry.

I predict it will never come to market. It will be killed in early development after the upcoming Christmas sales bloodbath and early 2010 burst of the Axis of E Bubble.

Google Books Settlement Notes #2

Publishers Weekly: Authors Guild Slams Amazon Over Its Google Settlement Stance; Other Groups Opt Out of Settlement

National Post: Deadline looms as opposition mounts to Google Book Settlement

Guardian UK: Google tries to sidestep criticism of $125m book project

ZD Net: Sniping over Google Books Settlement intensifies

Library Journal: Library Groups Step Up Criticism of Google Settlement; Some Academic Institutions Support It
“Sony wants to file an amicus brief in support, since they think the Google Book project will boost e-reader sales.”

If you do that, you suck, Sony!

Google Book Search Will Win – But It’ll Be Pyrrhic

Google Book Search Settlement Deadline

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cooler Adds Google's One Million ePubs Of Crap!

Click = big
Red underlining by me.

COOLERBOOKS.com announces Google partnership

Wow. Just wow. So eager to proclaim themselves "the largest ebookstore in the world," they apparently don't give a damn that they're palming off utter unreadable crap to their customers.

Previously here:

Suckups, Suckers, And Sloppiness Mislead eBook Readers
Google's One Million eBooks Of Crap!

And Sony Thinks IT Can Format eBooks?!!?

Just look at this:

It's The Collectors by David Baldacci.

That's done by Sony's people (whether in-house or a service bureau doesn't matter -- these are the Formatting Priesthood Sony blesses with paychecks for their toil!).

That's an eBook in Sony's locked-down proprietary -- and now being kicked to the curb -- format, BBeB. You know BBeB, the format that Sony created just for its Reader. BBeB, the format that Sony wouldn't provide creation tools for everyone to create their own eBooks. BBeB, the format that Sony charges at least two hundred dollars for each title to a publisher to convert into.

Sony still requires publishers to go through its people even for ePub.

How stupid is that?

What kind of world does Sony exist in where there is no Atlantis and no SIGIL?

If Sony had created the Internet, it'd be exactly like AOL was: based on a proprietary and stupid scripting language (Rainman -- I kid you not!) that made grown men cry.

Let go, Sony!

Your own formatting is shown to be crap at times. You think writers who want to succeed would do worse on their own?!

Sony Drowns In Its Own Juices Of Unreality

Scott McKain clued me in to a post by Bob Lefsetz that is absolutely worth reading in its entirety, but I can't resist quoting two bits of it.

My inbox is cluttered with mail from people railing against pirates, telling me that music is fairly priced at over ten dollars a CD. Think of all the effort! Think of all the mouths to be paid! Think of all the enjoyment!

What I love to tell these assholes is to continue to stare into the screen… What’s the value of their computer? You can buy one for $400, but the CPU, the RAM, never mind the monitor…what’s the value? Oh, don’t tell me about creativity, the artist toiling in isolation. Do you know how much research, how much effort goes into these technological revolutions? Furthermore, unlike you and your lazy ass, these programmers, these researchers, work almost ’round the clock, not tweeting to the faithful saying how great they are, but focusing on breakthroughs. The work ethic of the average person stinks…and you wonder why he’s broke and complaining.

Emphasis added by me.

Although I disagree with his perspective on how artists work (there is much slack time precisely because it isn't science, like those researchers do), that still made me laugh.

And a stab at Sony, which really deserves it:
Meanwhile, Sony, a name revered only in the minds of oldsters, has a competing product that’s overpriced and under-featured. But Sony just announced that they too will have wireless downloading. With a one inch larger screen, which will be touch-sensitive, yet more expensive. Howard Stringer needs to be waterboarded. Doesn’t he get it, that the old Sony paradigm is dead? Where you overpay for the name, believing you’re getting a premium product? Sony’s TV sales have tanked, the PS3 is a disaster, yet he can’t compete on price with e-books?

Emphasis added by me.

Howard Stringer has been and continues to be a disaster for Sony.

Read the entire post by Lefsetz. It's sooo good.

And what the hell is Sony doing with its Publishers Portal? Nothing as far as I can tell!

Here's a lesson for Steve Haber, who apparently still frikkin needs to learn what the hell to do with that Portal:
Order generated without design can far outstrip plans men consciously contrive.

-- economist F.A. Hayek

Stop trying to plan success, goddammit. Open the gates and let loose the dogs of war!

We now live in a world with Atlantis and SIGIL. Any writer can now create 100%-compliant ePub!

Previous posts about Howard Stringer:

Will Sony Even Exist In Five Years?
Sony's Howard Stringer Is Delusional
When Will Sony Wake Up?
OMFGZZ!!!1 Sony’s Stringer Has Heard Of eBooks!
Sony Fumbles Its eBook Reader
Sony, The New Titanic?
Sony’s In Worse Shape Than I Thought

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Yet Another eBook Device: Oaxis

Because the market hasn't been flooded just yet.

6 Inches Electronic Paper Display

600x800 pixel (16bit Greyscale )

Samsung Arm 9 Core

Operating System
Linux 2.6

RAM Memory

900mAh Li-ion Battery

High Speed USB 2.0

Expandable Memory
SD Card/ MMC

Text Format

Supported Audio Formats
MP3 (32kbps-384kbps)

Supported Image Formats

Language Supported
English (UK), English (US),Chinese (Traditional /Simplified),German, French, Spanish, Dutch,Portuguese, Italian, Russian

178(L) x 128.4 (W) x 9.9(H) mm


Google Books Settlement Notes #1

An author's guide to the Google Books flap -- if you have a book in danger, there are only two words you need to know: OPT-OUT. Period!

The Google Book Search Settlement Goes Meta

Symposium Report: The Google Books Settlement and Future of Information Access

The Library of Google

Germany: Google book deal violates copyright law

eBook Notes For Tuesday, September 1, 2009

iRiver's new e-book reader 'Story' -- at first glance, it looks like a K2 clone. But the buttons look flat, hinting at a touch-sensitive area below the screen (shades of Palm Pre's Gesture Area!).

Pass the lubricant as we’re getting fucked by Apple too
Stories of developers being absolutely bent over the barrel and fucked hard aren’t new, but I’ve got no other recourse so I’m throwing Blunder Move’s story into the ring. What makes our story different? I’m lucky enough to personally know people at the iTunes store. People who actually work at Apple that I drink beers with. I’m guessing most iPhone developers are in a different boat, but it doesn’t matter (just look at the Facebook app, which was featured in an iPhone commercial, taking 10+ days to get approved) that I know people there. At least Apple are equal opportunity ass fuckers.

When is Apple going to grow up and start getting this corrected? Application updates should have their own Express Lane. Apple is opening itself up to lawsuits for contributing to the besmirchment of developers. They are ruining reputations.

Lookout Kindle, Here Comes CellStories.net
The future of digital reading, says Sinker, is the cellphone, not dedicated reading devices like the Kindle and the Sony Reader.

He's right.

Nick Cave joins publishers' push for phone ebooks
The novelist and music legend Nick Cave is sprinkling a little rock'n'roll glamour over publishing's latest front in the battle for readers, by releasing an iPhone version of his new novel, The Death of Bunny Munro. The text, which scrolls downwards on chapter-length virtual pages, is accompanied by readings and music specially recorded by the author himself.

Try that with eInk.

E-texts roil market
"If it catches on, we’re doomed," said Iowa Book manager Joe Ziegler.

You're doomed.

Adobe makes mystery web buy
Adobe Systems quietly acquired web platform outfit Business Catalyst (BC) for an undisclosed sum on Monday.

The software maker has remained silent about the deal, but BC said that Adobe had bought Business Catalyst and its sister firm, GoodBarry, according to an official statement on the company's site.

Business Catalyst, which was founded in Australia in 1997, offers a one-stop-shop to internet businesses that want a single platform for their developers to work on.

This sounds like B-2-B, but I think Adobe has something else up its sleeve here.

Japanese boffin boasts electrospray OLEDs
Displays created using self-illuminating organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology "could be manufactured as inexpensively as printing newspapers," according to one of the researchers involved in developing the new manufacturing process.

Emphasis added by me.

That's a claim we've heard over and over and over. When the hell does it actually happen?

The First World War Poetry Digital Archive: The Edmund Blunden Collection
Edmund Blunden was born in London on 1st November 1896, the eldest of nine children. When Edmund was four the family moved to Yalding, Kent, where he discovered the love of rural life and natural history that were to be a major influence on his writing.

100 Useful Online Libraries for Nurses and Nursing Students

UT Health Science Center (San Antonio): PDA Resources

The Great Web Site Die-Off: Why It Matters -- not even the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine is permitted to capture everything. History is being lost.

Despite changes, Wikipedia will still "fail within 5 years" -- wikipedia becomes the new Politburo of the Internet. This is a story that should be read by anyone engaged in social media. There is a lesson here.

And to end this post on a cheery (yes, really!) note, go see this at Maud Newton's blog: Scene from the era of the supposed Death of Reading

The eBook Bubble Coming To CES 2010

Oh is that eBook Bubble inflating, inflating, inflating!

eBooks TechZone Sells out for the 2010 International CES; Additional Space Added to Meet Customer Demand
"The eBook category is experiencing astounding growth, with more than one million units expected to sell in the United States this year," said Karen Chupka, senior vice president, events and conferences at CEA. "We have received overwhelming response from companies interested in exhibiting in the eBooks TechZone for the 2010 CES. In fact, the original space allocated for the TechZone has already sold out and we are adding additional floor space to accommodate our customers. This exciting new TechZone is sure to draw plenty of attention at the 2010 CES." Consumer demand for eBooks continues to increase significantly, as eBook sales are expected to reach $317 million in 2009, with $647 million in sales projected for 2010. Additionally, shipments of eBooks are expected to increase by more than 100 percent in 2009, with 1.19 million units expected to sell.

Emphasis added by me.

Future exhbitors that make me wonder:

Onyx International, which has now set up an actual site for the Boox reader first seen at a recent tradeshow. A video at that site shows impressive PDF handling that's clearly superior to what Sony has done. Also, the built-in web browser is based on WebKit. And although ePub compatibility is not mentioned, I'm certain if someone wanted this to be the platform for their branded device, such an arrangement with Adobe could be made.

Entourage Systems, which has a sparse and very vague website that touts it's aiming at the educational market.

LiquaVista, which claims to have a revolutionary color eInk superior to the junk we've seen in the Fujitsu Flepia device. This screen has several display modes, which makes me wonder how it'd do against the Pixel Qi screen we've seen.

Hanwang, whose hardware has been the basis for the ECTACO jetBook reader (ECTACO will also exhibit). They keep putting out new models -- more than any other hardware manufacturer, it seems. Will all eBook hardware eventually be cheap and from China?

Click = big

Freescale, whose chips power the Sony Reader. Hackers might be interested in this PDF datasheet for the Freescale MC9328MXL, which powers the Sony Reader PRS-300.

Ominously, Aiptek is also listed as having an eBook device. Aiptek does very low-end hardware. A $150.00 -- or even $99.00 -- eBook reader in 2010? Good luck putting the squeeze on Adobe, Aiptek, to get that Adobe DRM compatibility!

Finally, a company called Cydle is also listed under eBooks. Their product page is mainly GPS and HD radio hardware. Some of which is running Windows CE 5.x. What do they have in the wings?

Book Covers Turn To Bleh

Via a tweet from Maud Newton, I wound up at Alison Bechdel's blog and eventually came upon this post.

But since her Flickr item was designated All Rights Reserved, I had to go steal the covers from elsewhere. Which was better, as I came upon a third one.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I think the most recent cover lacks character and is very generic. How many other covers sort of, kind of resemble that? Too many, I think! Some cover designs are just too full of themselves, imparting a gravitas that might not exist in the book itself (note that I don't mean this book, which I haven't read and didn't know of til now).

Monday, August 31, 2009

Suckups, Suckers, And Sloppiness Mislead eBook Readers

On Wednesday, August 26, 2009, I posted: Google's One Million eBooks Of Crap!

On Thursday 27th August 2009, Computer Shopper did: Google turns classic books into free gibberish eBooks

No other coverage of the one million eBooks from Google mentioned they were crap!

And how many linked back to the original story?

Here is the list of shame:

Click = big

Click = big

Click = big

Once again, I can't trust most of the coverage out there.

How much of a suckup do you have to be to pimp free?

How unqualified to write about eBooks are these people that they never even took a simple few minutes to check the quality?

Update: One other site did. Munsey's Technosnarl: Did Google Just Give a Million Reasons for Publishers to Opt Out?

eBook Notes For Monday, August 31, 2009

How eBooks plan to save libraries, newspapers and make us read: Can DRM be a good thing for once?

How to borrow an ebook: What you need to know -- a very good overview, even if they leave out that MobiPocket books and PDFs are available in public libraries using Overdrive. After reading that, see: Sony Reader 101: Borrowing Public Library eBooks

German Buch News: 65,000 Ebooks Sold in Germany So Far in 09 -- it's a start.

Google English: eBooks will replace print in 20 years -- waiting for the generational shift to happen. (Original item.)

A New Masthead

Because I want it made clear that I do what I do for them.

I answer only to them.

Cheated, ridiculed, crushed into poverty during their lifetimes.

I am their agent of vengeance.

The Devaluation Of The eBook

Hachette chief hits out at e-books
“On the one hand, you have millions of books for free where there is no longer an author to pay and, on the other hand, there are very recent books, bestsellers at $9.99, which means that all the rest will have to be sold at between zero and $9.99,” Mr Nourry said.

First of all, the "millions" of books are primarily unreadable crap (Google) or poorly formatted (Gutenberg). They are no true threat.

Second, whining about a $9.99 eBook price is too little too late. The race-to-the-bottom of eBook prices has begun. You got in bed with Amazon's Kindle and now you complain about the blisters? Who forced you?

Third, what makes you think your customers see an eBook as having the same value as a $25.00-$30.00 hardcover? Wake up: they don't!

Fourth, don't sit there like a weakling and whine -- do something!

Really, keep acting like this and my fantasy of buying Random House from Bertelsmann for a measly US$1.00 will come to pass. Thanks!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Victor Gischler A Go-Go

Victor Gischler's got a new book coming. Suprisingly, it's announced to be available as an eBook the same day as the printed version!

According to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, these eBook stores will stock it: Amazon's Kindle Store, Amazon.com, eBooks.com, ebooksabouteverything.com, Fictionwise, Mobipocket, Palm Digital Media, and Powells.com.

Which is, not surprisingly, a big FAIL from the publisher. Because -- if the following listing is to be believed -- right now it can be bought at the Sony eBook Store. Which isn't even listed!

The first chapter can be sampled here.

Where Victor Gischler will be touring is here.

Victor has also set up a Vampire a Go-Go website.

And this is Victor Gischler's Blogpocalypse.

I've read all of Victor's books. They're a hoot! You'll want to get every single one.

And yes, Marvel comic fans, this is the same Victor Gischler who wrote Punisher and is writing Deadpool.

Previous posts about Victor Gischler:

Victor Gischler
Go-Go Girls Of The Apocalypse
Writer Victor Gischer Gets Library Luv
Transcript: Gischler Vs. Smith Live On Twitter!
Victor Gischler Breaks Under Questioning!
Videos: Out of the Gutter Magazine Party
Austin, Texas: Meet Victor Gischler TONIGHT!!!
I Wade Into Shit For Victor Gischler
Victor Gischler Wants You Punished!
Victor Gischler: Alternate Covers
Victor Gischler’s Next Book
Congratulations To Victor Gischler!
Victor Gischler Has To Get Busy
Victor Gischler Has A New Internet Berth
Someone Tap Victor Gischler On His Noggin

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sony Reader 101: For Mac Users

There is some confusion regarding the Mac and the Sony Reader.

Some people are confused, thinking it's necessary to use Adobe Digital Editions to transfer eBooks to the Reader from the Mac.

No. Do not use Adobe Digital Editions. Use the Sony eBook Library software exclusively.

See this screensnap of About Sony eBook Library:

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See the red highlighting? This means the Sony eBook Library software now takes over the functions of Adobe Digital Editions. While it's probably still necessary to have ADE installed -- for Adobe DRM authorization -- ADE should not be used to transfer eBooks to the Reader. Only the Sony eBook Library software should be used for that.

Mac owners, feel free to chime in with Comments.

Previously here:

Sony Reader 101: Borrowing Public Library eBooks
Sony Reader 101: If You Insist On Buying One...

Sony Reader 101: Borrowing Public Library eBooks

This is a companion post to Sony Reader 101: If You Insist On Buying One...

Most public libraries use a system from OverDrive. This presents a semi-standardized user interface across public libraries offering eBooks, so the steps below detailing borrowing an ePub eBook from the New York Public Library will be similar at other public libraries. Here I am using Firefox 2.x as my browser.

Sign into the system:

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As stated above, it requires the library card number and PIN you've supplied.

This is the entry screen shown at the NYPL site:

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Here I will be going straight to my Wish List. This is a list of books I want to borrow, based on my browsing all 450+ ePubs at the NYPL site. You will love your Wish List because the OverDrive system is frustrating!

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Above you can see the status of two eBooks I've highlighted. Request Item means that eBook is currently borrowed. Add to eList means that eBook is available for borrowing. I click on Add to eList and see this:

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Once an eBook is in the eList, it's off-limits to others at the NYPL for 30 minutes. If I don't borrow it within that time period, it's erased from the eList for others to borrow. I can go back to browsing, but this is a primer, so I click Proceed to Checkout and see this:

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The NYPL offers three lending periods: 7, 14, or 21 days.

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Once I've set it for 21 days, I click Confirm Checkout to get this:

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If I've decided to borrow more than one eBook, this will be a list. NYPL offers a maximum of 12 eBooks at one time. Note: Each book will have its own Download button. That can mean clicking twelve Download buttons. There is no Download All option (yet?).

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The download dialog box will appear. Note the file is URLlink.acsm -- every eBook will have that name. This is not the eBook! It's a link to Adobe's content server. The eBook resides there, not at the local library. And this is very important: Have your options set to open with Sony's eBook Library software. If you Save to Disk, you'll be all bollixed. If that happens, just hit the Download button again and select Open with eBook Library.

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The file -- a small link -- downloads in seconds and launches Sony's eLibrary software:

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Above look at the left panel. Status is highlighted in yellow. As the eBook is being downloaded from Adobe's server directly to the Sony software, those arrows will spin. Once complete ...

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It will appear at the top of the list of eBooks. (Strangely, Sony's software lists borrowed eBooks under a Purchased category, not Borrowed.) Double-clicking on it will open the eBook:

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Yes, some eBooks actually lack covers. It's a scandal!

Once the eBook is in the Sony eLibrary software, sync the Sony Reader to copy it over.

Sony Reader 101: If You Insist On Buying One...

Only God knows what changed in the zeitgeist recently. Suddenly the Sony Reader is Flavor of the Moment.

Even though it's been able to do so for nearly two years, only now have the masses of people awakened to the fact that OMGZ!! You can borrow eBooks for free from a public library to read on the Sony Reader!!!111

I guess Sony is due credit for finally breaking through the wall that's been holding them back.

Even though I'm no longer cheerleading the Axis of E.

Nevertheless, I guess I should be glad that electronic reading is gaining a foothold and that will pave the way to smart digital books that will be worth the money paid for them.

So, with that in mind, this is a mini-guide for all of you thinking of buying a Sony Reader, to get you all ready for that momentous day.

Here's what to do:

1) It might be necessary to download and install Adobe Digital Editions (ADE). Although in my own case, I've found that Sony's newest eBook Library 3.0 software (below) now seems to take over all prior ADE functionality (including DRM -- Digital Rights Management copy protection -- and returning eBooks to the public library), that could be due to the fact I already had ADE installed on my PC. If not all Sony eBook Library functions work -- like borrowing from a public library -- then installing ADE would fix that. ADE will prompt you to register the software and authorize your desktop/notebook machine. Do so! This is required to enable your machine to deal with the necessary Adobe-provided copy-protection (DRM).

1b) Note: In Windows XP, ADE puts eBooks in My Documents->My Digital Editions

2) Download and install Sony eBook Library 3.0 software. There are links for both the Windows and Mac OS X versions. See Windows XP installation process in this prior post. Sony doesn't bundle a CD-ROM of this software with the Reader, so you'll have to download it later anyway. Best to get it out of the way ahead of time so you'll be ready. Sony has a tutorial here. You do not have to set up a Sony eBookstore account to use the software. You can create that account anytime, when you want to actually purchase eBooks at Sony's Store.

2b) Note: In Windows XP, Sony's eBook Library puts eBooks in My Documents->My Books

2c) If you're running Windows 7, you'll have to employ a hack to get the software to run. I'm sure Sony will update it for Windows 7 at some point.

3) If you live in the United States, visit the Library Finder site. Enter your zip code to see if your nearby public library is offering Adobe DRMed ePub eBooks and Adobe DRMed PDF files. If it does, and you don't have one already, visit your local library to get a library card -- no borrowing eBooks without one. Your library card's number and a PIN you supply are your login to the library's site.

3a) Note: There's been some confusion on this public library issue. You will be able to borrow eBooks only from your local library -- not any library in the United States! Up until recently, many libraries offered non-resident cards. That window of opportunity has been closing. Part of this is due to the licensing restrictions for the eBooks available for borrowing.

3b) Note: Although the Sony Reader can do PDF reflow, it's not a very satisfying experience. It's a Better Than Nothing proposition and is barely tolerable for PDFs that are only text (such as fiction, or non-fiction that lacks charts and graphs). I expect most people will find PDF displeasing, but sometimes a library has only a PDF file of a book, not ePub.

4) This is a post that illustrates borrowing an ePub eBook from the New York Public Library (NYPL). This procedure will be similar for many public libraries that use the OverDrive system.

5) If you have a library card and have established that your local library has eBooks, then start browsing the library site for eBooks. Don't be discouraged if most of the books have already been borrowed! First, you'll most likely be able to place a Request. You'll get an email when the book is available and will generally have 72 hours to go grab it. Second, your library site might have a Wish List capability. Just add the titles you want to borrow to that list. You'll love your Wish List because searching -- and even browsing -- OverDrive is not fun!

6) When you find a book you want to borrow, you'll be prompted to enter the duration of the lending period: 7, 14, or 21 days. Think carefully! Especially if you're going overboard and taking out several books at once. If you take everything out for the maximum period, you're depriving others from borrowing. eBooks are licensed by libraries on a per-copy basis, just like a set number of printed books are bought. It's entirely possible for your library to have only one copy of each eBook. Most importantly: once you've read an eBook, return it! Don't wait for the lending period to expire. Let others have their turn too.

6a) The one wonderful thing about borrowing public library eBooks: no more overdue fines! When the lending limit is reached, the eBooks "expire" (are locked up) and can be deleted. (Yes, you can go and borrow them again, although some libraries might impose a waiting period between consecutive loans.)

6b) Warning! For this post, I took out about 24 eBooks (NYPL's 12-eBook limit, twice!) for a seven-day period, but returned them all in less than twenty-four hours (so others wouldn't have to wait!). That flagged the OverDrive system (scroll down at that link) and a limit was placed on my account for several days. So, don't cycle through a bunch of eBooks in less than seven days, as I did! If you're a fast reader and gobble a book a day, let the books all expire on their own at the end of the seven days.

6c) ADE and Sony's software handle borrowed eBooks differently. When an eBook is returned via Sony's software, it also deletes the eBook from the hard drive. ADE does not. You must explicitly tell ADE to Delete the book or it will remain on the hard drive, taking up space, uselessly. Most likely, you'll stick with Sony's software to keep things simple.

7) Syncing eBooks between a desktop PC and a Reader does not move the eBooks from the desktop. They are copied. It's still possible to read both on the desktop and the Reader (important if the Reader is lost, broken, or otherwise drops dead).

8) It's not a particularly good idea to carry your entire eBook library in the Reader. This is because its memory can become corrupted. A sign of this is the Reader not turning off. The only solution is to erase everything and reformat the memory (see the User's Guide links below). I know Sony brags about the capacity of the Reader, but that claim is to be taken with some salt until the time no one ever again posts about their Reader going FUBAR. Having a ton of eBooks on the Reader will mean a great big Restore syncing later on (remember: the eBooks are still on your desktop/notebook's hard drive, so they haven't been lost).

9) Back up your eBooks! Especially if you've bought them. It should be the case that every eBookstore should simply allow a purchaser to redownload eBooks, but this isn't always the case. Back them up and preserve that monetary investment!

10) Sony does not include an AC charger with the Reader. That's a separate purchase. Charging the battery via USB is a slow process. There's a rumor of a cheaper Sony charger than the one sold for the Reader, but I hesitate to provide a link to it without yet knowing if it'll work successfully with the new models, PRS-300 or PRS-600.

11) Which model? That's up to you. I say go cheap. To help you decide, use these links:

PRS-300 eSupport page -- has link for PDF of User's Guide

PRS-600 eSupport page -- has link for PDF of User's Guide

Recently discontinued in the United States:
PRS-505 eSupport page -- has link for PDF of User's Guide

12) Should you buy used? That depends on the age of the unit. I say stay away from the original model, the PRS-500. Lithium batteries degrade over time, so the older the unit the more likely it is the battery will not hold a full charge.

13) No, you cannot buy eBooks from Amazon to read on the Sony Reader. The Kindle uses its own file format which is incompatible with the Sony Reader (as well as being incompatible with every other eBook reading device!).

14) No, you do not have to buy only from Sony's eBook Store! Any bookstore that's selling ePub-formatted eBooks will work on the Sony Reader. In fact, it pays to find and bookmark eBook stores to comparison shop. Some stores offer bargains from time to time. Some stores will also offer free eBooks too.

15) Bookmark Mobileread. That site's forums are a goldmine of Sony Reader user information and expertise. Register to become a member. They can solve just about any problem you might run into. It's faster than using Sony's miserable Support system!

16) There are more free ePub eBooks than there are public library ePub eBooks. Don't ignore them because they're old or unknown or free. Why get less than full use out of the Sony Reader? Here are some places for free ePub eBooks:

Web Books -- not all are ePub
Project Gutenberg*
Adobe Sample eBook Library -- full eBooks and sample chapters
Baen Free Library -- SF & fantasy
Finding Free eBooks -- not all are ePub
eBooks Just Published -- not all are free or ePub
Smashwords -- not all are free or ePub

*Note: Project Gutenberg ePubs too often have a lot of frontmatter to page through before getting to the story!

Note: Some sites will state "Sony Reader format." That's very different than ePub. Ideally, look for ePub. But if that's not available, then take "Sony Reader format."

Any questions or additional tips? Leave them in the Comments.

Nano-Fondle: Sony Reader PRS-300

J&R had in the three colors of the new Sony Reader PRS-300. I did a quick fondle of it.

First, let's get that Rose Red color out of the way: It's PINK! Some photos showed it approaching actual red, but it's not. It's a nauseating, vulgar pink! It's even lighter than the above image. It's a shame Sony didn't reprise the luscious Sangria Red of the 505.

Second, the other two colors: Navy Blue and Silver. The Navy Blue is better than the Dark Blue of the 505. It actually looks Navy Blue, and not black. I like this blue better than the 505's. The Silver is still silver, although it doesn't have the gloss of the 505's Silver. I came away with the impression: Navy Blue = Corporate, Silver = Machine.

This thing is made primarily of plastic. The front is aluminum -- but the matte color finish makes it feel like plastic. The back is all plastic. The strip that runs along the side and top/bottom is glaringly plastic. Did it feel cheap? No. But it did feel as if it was really pushing that $199.00 price tag to the limit.

My initial impression was one of weight. It felt dense and heavy. Heavier than I expected to be. It's also thick. I was very surprised by its thickness. The 505 was thin and sleek. How did Sony manage to pork it up? This might be uncomfortable to carry in a jacket pocket -- especially with the added weight and thickness of the slipcover or optional flip-cover. Though YMMV, as they say.

Sony has deleted the wonderful lower left-corner page turning button in favor of the 4-way in the center. I didn't find it particularly onerous to use the new control. But given my past fondles of the Readers with the corner control, it took some getting used to doing things so differently.

Two things about this new button scheme:

1) You'll need a second hand to set a Bookmark. No way will your thumb be able to crawl over to hit that Bookmark button without the risk of dropping the Reader.

2) Man, having a fold-over cover on the PRS-300 is going to be Teh Suck! Because your thumb is no longer at the bottom left to keep that cover standing up. With your thumb in the center, that damned cover is going to flap down and be annoying as all hell. So, you can either hold it in one hand to prop up the cover and change pages with the other, or be annoyed over and over again by the flapping cover.

It's a laggy little beast! To me, it seemed as if Sony took the original slower 500 and repackaged it with more memory in a smaller form factor. The CPU specs seem to bear this out:

Sony PRS-500: FreeScale Dragonball MC9328MXL (ARM920T core, 200MHz)

Sony PRS-300: Freescale i.MXL MC9328MXLVP20 (ARM920T core, 200MHz)

It felt slower than the 505 to me. Books opened slower and the first pages turned noticeably slower than moving several pages in. It seemed as if it was still loading the book or still waking up. This caused the 4-way button to seem unresponsive at times -- and when it finally kicked in, I wound up overshooting the page I was aiming for and going two and even three pages past!

The eInk was ... eInk. I didn't see much difference than the 505's screen. Blacks were dark and grayscale images were OK -- in terms of eInk.

Sony used to bundle several free eBook samples on the Reader. All of them would be excerpts from recent books, to entice you to buy them. Sony includes eleven freebies on this -- but they are in English, German, and French! I suppose this reflects the new internationality of the Reader and it saves Sony additional effort to cater to each region. Not all of these are recent for-pay books, either. Only one of the English ones was recent (if my memory is correct, it was The Strain by Guillermo del Toro). Two of the French books were freebies from Feedbooks! -- one by Dumas, one by Stendahl.

What I found interesting about the samples was the strangeness of the typeface size. Feedbooks looked simply gorgeous at the Small font setting. It looked like a mass-market paperback page, with lots of type on the page. A BBeB eBook at Small setting had type that was twice as large as the Feedbooks text at the same setting. I don't know what accounted for that.

I didn't test for things such as glare or viewing angle. I was too busy moving around the wrong way due to the new 4-way navigation system. I also didn't pop into Settings or anything other than the sample books. This was a nano-fondle -- and at that it took a good ten minutes due to having to "unlearn" my prior Reader button use.

If you want to fondle the PRS-300 head to J&R in lower Manhattan. I hear that SonyStyle at 55th Street has both the PRS-300 and PRS-600 out for fondling too.

My verdict is to hold off buying this until Apple's September 9th announcement. I still expect an iPod Touch with a six-inch screen to be unveiled. At even triple the price of this, it'd be a better buy in so many ways.

UPDATE: It didn't hit me til later. The PRS-300 lacks Rotation. Every model of the Sony Reader has been able to rotate the screen 90-degrees, which was helpful for wide PDF files. The PRS-300 lacks that feature.

SECOND UPDATE: Yes, there is Rotation. This is from the Owner's Manual:

It's now using a different button and it's also under Settings, which I already stated I failed to check.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Google's Great Writer Rip-Off

Google's One Million Books
Imagine that your home and the homes of millions of your neighbors are burglarized. Now, say you catch the perpetrator and the case goes to trial. What would you expect--the return of all of your valuable possessions, stringent penalties for damages and jail time for the perpetrator? But instead, the judge agrees to a settlement that lets the perpetrator avoid any penalties, jail time or probation; he lets the perpetrator use the stolen contents for as long as he wants, provided he pays each victim a one-time fee per item; and, for those victims not knowing that their contents were stolen, the perpetrator can keep and use it, without any compensation or penalty at all. Would such a settlement seem fair?

While just an illustration, there are similarities to what is happening now in a court case involving online scanning and use of millions of books, which is in direct violation of copyright protections given to authors and, in this case, the Department of Justice has taken notice, as have a number of state attorneys general and the European Union's competition commission.

Emphasis added by me.

While I'm glad to see more voices opposed to the Google Book Settlement, I have to ask, What the hell took these people so long?


Google's One Million eBooks Of Crap!
Where I Stand Now
Reject The Google Book Search Settlement!
The Google Book Robbery: I’m Not Alone
The Great Book Bank Robbery
Is Another Suit Against Google Book Search Coming?
Reference: Google Book Search Settlement Site
Google Book Search: Medialoper FTW [-- where I woke up!]
Google Book Search: Now Legal [-- which I now retract!]
Read Nathan Singer — Like A Thief!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Root Of Why Print Is Dying

The Plight of Print's Lucky Ones
"Basically," he goes—and Q was being totally serious when he said this—"I'm 31 and at a professional dead end. And so are most people in here."

"I'll be 35. What the hell am I gonna do with the rest of my life?"

And, the root of it all, entitlement:
When I graduated from college several years ago, the boilerplate career arc in publishing went a little something like this: pay your dues as an editorial assistant for a couple years, biding your time until you either 1) got promoted and became an associate, or 2) jumped ship to a magazine (or newspaper, or book editing shop) where a better gig opened up. Hang in that new station for a couple years before rinsing and repeating, upwards and onwards. It was an arc that, if you played your cards right, culminated with a six-figure job you'd stick with for the rest of your professional career.

An article filled with self-pitying spoiled brats.

You deserve to lose it all.

Welcome to real life.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Google's One Million eBooks Of Crap!

Today Google cut itself loose from the exclusive arrangement it had with Sony to offer one million free ePub-formatted eBooks.

This is not something Google should brag about. The eBooks are utter crap!

Exhibit One, the original image scan:

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Exhibit Two, the ePub text:

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A typo right at the start. And it gets worse! There are typos throughout and paragraphs are even broken up too!

Exhibit Three, the Table of Contents is just an image scan with no links:

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I really don't know why I expected this to be worthwhile. I've been down this road before: Google Book Search Goes Mobile: Teh Suckage

Now all you Google Book Settlement supporters: How about considering that this is what will happen to the millions and millions of Settlement books too!

For those who are technically minded, here are two screensnaps of the underlying XML:

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