Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Reference: Writer Beware

Writer Beware Blogs!
Writer Beware, a publishing industry watchdog group sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, shines a light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fox TV: Lie To Me

There's a terrific new series on Fox, called Lie to Me.

What makes it sliiiiightly eBook related is this exchange:

Gillian Foster: We're not all hiding something.

Dr. Cal Lightman: OK ...

You think I'm naive just because I don't share your twisted view of the world.

That -- and you read Romance novels.

Yes, I do. Because they make me happy.

Whoa, Zoe Winters and Ann Somerville and everyone at Dear Author! Don't blame me! I'm just reporting this.

Blame creator, producer and writer --

Samuel Baum.

You should still watch the series, ladies. It's damn good!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Print Vs. ePublishing: 3 Views And Then Mine

I will link to these in a certain order because they build on one another.

First, there's wicked-smart Kat Meyer:

The Double-Edged Sword of Self-Publishing (and other mixed metaphors for a monday)
You see, self-publishing services are about one thing – they are about getting books published. The better self-publishing firms will offer some copyediting and design services, and see to it that the book is made available by online retailers, but they will not create a demand for that book, nor make that book worth reading. It’s like that shiny, gleaming, rock-stuck, double-edged sword just sitting there for the taking – it certainly looks easy enough; and there are very few barriers to getting your book published (money being the main barrier, though there are options where not even money is required). But the barriers to getting your self-published book read? Those barriers are real and they are many.

This is because the so-called “barriers” that the self-pubbed author managed to avoid by circumventing the traditional publishing route, were not simply barriers. They were check points. They were safe guards. They were opportunities for a lot of industry trust agents to jump on board and show they not only believed in the book, but were willing to risk their own money, time, and/or professional reputations to see that book make it in the world.

For traditionally published books, this vetting manifests as a byzantine process where millions of seemingly unconnected people work together, but apart -- each taking some kind of personal and/or financial risk on a title. Agents, editors, designers, marketers, publicists, sales reps, reviewers, TV show hosts, bloggers, booksellers, librarians, etc., (I’m sure I’m forgetting a few people here) – boldy stand up and put their money where their mouths are, all so a traditionally published book can have a chance of making it in the marketplace. And usually, these players are not just idly signing on to support a book because it's "popular" or "trendy" (i love these "scare quotes"). They are often supporting a book because they are quite passionate about it. Their love for, and belief in the book is worth a lot to others in the list of industry players, and eventually enough people willing to risk enough time and money on that book translates into readers being willing to risk their time and money on the book.

On the other hand, for the majority of self-published books, there is no vetting, or gate-keeping, or author platform building, or curation process. And, the majority of self-published authors will find themselves trying to gain the trust and willingness of readers with no collateral to offer in return.

All of that is true. And it's why over and over again I've stressed the great importance -- the do or die vitalness -- of having professionals on hand for any writer who wishes to go the direct-publishing route. Copyeditors, proofreaders, eBook designers, cover artists. Just because the entire world has been transfered to a writer's shoulders doesn't mean the post-manuscript phase becomes extinct! It doesn't become extinct. It becomes a pre-publication expense the writer must now bear.

Next up is writer Cliff Burns, with: Preserving the Future: A Modest Proposal
My wife Sherron has thrown down the gauntlet.

The other night she told me: "Listen, you’ve had your fun insulting editors and publishers, belittling their intelligence, always going after them. Now, how about something constructive? You’ve got ideas on how to improve things and make the system run better so let’s hear them, wise guy."

Right. Here goes.

Cliff then goes on to propose a system that is half of that new HarperCollins imprint (which I hated on, here and here), combined with POD (Print On Demand).

Third is David Nygren at The Urban Elitist, with: Business Model for eBook Only Publishing House

Among the proposals made:
-eBooks only (or mostly).

- The publisher accepts authors, not manuscripts.

- Therefore, authors can publish whatever they feel is necessary: something book-length, something article-length, a short story, a paragraph, a sentence, a poem, a play, a script or a rant. Fiction or non-fiction. Finished or not finished. The idea is not to create and package “books” but rather to create a forum and content delivery system for quality writing that will appeal to a certain type of reader. Think of it almost like a hybrid book/magazine publisher.

- The publisher focuses on developing content to suit the tastes of readers in that publisher’s market. Not a niche, necessarily. Just a shared taste.

- The publisher publishes hundreds or perhaps thousands of writers.

Well, that finally forced me to codify at least a portion of my thinking about the way the future should work out. I left this Comment:
No ads, no "publishes hundreds or thousands" of authors, and probably no subscriptions.

We have too many ads in our lives already. Ads in paperbacks were tried in the 1970s. FAIL then, FAIL now.

eBook-only publishers who succeed will focus to a tight audience. I keep thinking of Hard [Case] Crime in the US and Do Not Press in the UK. Both are publisher brand names I trust and would read anything they put out.

That's what's needed for eBooks.

Once a reader understands what a publisher is offering, they will be more willing to sample more of that publisher.

This is why current print publishers devised imprints. Unfortunately, the imprints have a diluted "focus" and really act only as guides to bookstore shelving and marketing.

What eBooks need is an Apple-like cult status for marketing. Apple doesn't do certain electronics. Likewise, an eBook publisher wouldn't do all kinds of books.

By slicing everything this way, readers know where to go for what they like, publishers know the audience, and there's room for as many publishers as possible without the interference of a distant corporate Board.

And that's not everything I have to say about it, either. But I have an entire blog to dribble that out over time.

As a postscript of sorts, there's this in Time magazine: Books Unbound
Put these pieces together, and the picture begins to resolve itself: more books, written and read by more people, often for little or no money, circulating in a wild diversity of forms, both physical and electronic, far outside the charmed circle of New York City's entrenched publishing culture. Old Publishing is stately, quality-controlled and relatively expensive. New Publishing is cheap, promiscuous and unconstrained by paper, money or institutional taste. If Old Publishing is, say, a tidy, well-maintained orchard, New Publishing is a riotous jungle: vast and trackless and chaotic, full of exquisite orchids and undiscovered treasures and a hell of a lot of noxious weeds.

Not that Old Publishing will disappear -- for now, at least, it's certainly the best way for authors to get the money and status they need to survive -- but it will live on in a radically altered, symbiotic form as the small, pointy peak of a mighty pyramid. If readers want to pay for the old-school premium package, they can get their literature the old-fashioned way: carefully selected and edited, and presented in a bespoke, art-directed paper package. But below that there will be a vast continuum of other options: quickie print-on-demand editions and electronic editions for digital devices, with a corresponding hierarchy of professional and amateur editorial selectiveness. (Unpaid amateur editors have already hit the world of fan fiction, where they're called beta readers.) The wide bottom of the pyramid will consist of a vast loamy layer of free, unedited, Web-only fiction, rated and ranked YouTube-style by the anonymous reading masses.

Unfortunately, that piece stresses how writers made a leap from direct-publishing to Big Bucks From The New York Dying Dinosaurs of Print.

I'll have none of that.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sony Reader: U.K. Buys 30,000!

Waterstone's reveals Sony Reader sales
Waterstone's has sold "almost 30,000" units of e-book device the Sony Reader, following its launch in the stores at the beginning of September. It is the first time the retailer has divulged the number sold.

Nice work!

I believe Waterstone's exclusive arrangement has ended and other retailers are now stocking it. Aside from silver, the gorg-o-licious Red is now available.

eCub Adventures Update #1

It occurred to me that I should make a MobiPocket version of The People of the Abyss so I can look at it on my LifeDrive to see what it's like.

Unfortunately, eCub failed when I told it to create a MobiPocket version. Of course, it was all due to human error, as the developer informed me:
If it just failed with no helpful message, probably the command line is not set up properly in Preferences/Helpers - you need to get mobigen.exe and tell eCub where it is.

Yes, that was the case. I didn't have the needed file.

However, earlier yesterday I'd downloaded the necessary MobiPocket software.

And, eejit that I am (because veterans of that software will already know what's coming next), I discovered that the MobiPocket desktop software could import ePub.

So I gave it the ePub file I'd created with eCub.


Here are some screensnaps of it on the desktop:

That cover is only temporary. I need to find or create a better one.

I dropped the font size on the desktop down to 12 to make it appear more book-like.

What's interesting is that Mobi scales the photos depending on my LifeDrive's screen orientation. In landscape, that photo gets bigger!

A pleasant surprise was the text was right-justified (something I've not so far been able to get the ePub version to do!) and has hyphenation. The hyphenation is sometimes spectacularly bad, however (I saw "pol-iceman," for example), and there are still too many gaps between words to make it look book-like.

I also tried using the MobiType option. The type becomes nearly microsocopic unless I specify the largest one. And then, italics are lost in the process!

Abyss is still in pre-alpha form. I have to get the photos for it, format the text that opens each chapter, and tweak the tables. Tables aren't handled well in Mobi, by the way, nor are blockquote and pre-formatted text.

But the Mobi version is just for me to look at.

It's the ePub version that will matter.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

R.I.P.: Patrick McGoohan

Prisoner star McGoohan dies at 80
Emmy-winning actor Patrick McGoohan, best known for starring in cult 1960s TV show The Prisoner, has died at the age of 80.

He died in Los Angeles after a short illness, his film producer son-in-law Cleve Landsberg said.

First episode of The Prisoner series, Arrival, unnamed secret agent played by McGoohan in the sanctum of Number One, and perhaps the first eBook ever envisioned:

-- a dossier of the agent's life, seemingly from cradle to the present, with each paper page turn synchronized to a corresponding image on the screen.

He has finally escaped The Village.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hard Case Crime To eBooks!

Dorchester Publishing to Deliver Entire Frontlist and Selected Backlist in eBook and Digital Formats
Dorchester Publishing has published mass market books since 1971, making it the oldest independent mass market publisher in America. Known for its collection of romance novels, Dorchester also publishes world-class horror, thrillers and western titles, as well as the award-winning Hard Case Crime line of pulp-style mysteries, science fiction and fantasy titles from the award-winning Wildside Press. In addition, Dorchester is now distributing the bestselling Family Doctor series of health guides in the US and Canada.

Emphasis added by me.

I have waited and waited and waited for this!

For years I've been drooling over the Hard Case Crime series. Who wouldn't, given their delicious classic pulpy covers?

... but they've all been on paper!

Now, e is coming!

I am going to go soooo broke buying these.

Free eBook: The Catholic Orangemen

The Catholic Orangemen of Togo and Other Conflicts I Have Known is in the center of a free speech dispute. The original print publisher canceled its commitment due to a legal threat. The author is giving the book away for free in PDF format and has self-published in paper to sell.

See this post and this post for details.

Why freedom of speech matters.

Quote: Dorothea Salo

The DRM Ponzi event horizon
Personally, despite my neverending love affair with the written word, I’m getting tired of owning print books. There, I’ve said it. They take up a whole lot of space, they clutter, and they’re obnoxious to pack (yes, I’ve moved twice in the last five years and that may not be the end of it, how about you?). For my purposes, with most books, ebooks would be far preferable both for one-time and many-time reads… if I could be assured of keeping my many-time reads.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Several New eBook Videos

REVEL is a new Yanceyware YBK compatible Ebook reader the has been written for the Android platform. some new exciting features include existing library of Yanceyware YBK file compatible. Live online internet download of new YBK's allows in church updates :)

Standard Works eBook Reader
A demonstration of the Standard Works eBook reader using the Charles Dickens library.

There are also more videos about the Standard Works eBook Reader here.

CES 2009 - Hanging with Astak's eBook

In which the interviewer obviously knows nothing about current eBook readers. But a bit of a scoop here: Astak is negotiating for DRMed ePub with Fictionwise!

What's also interesting is at Astak's site, ePub is already claimed as being compatible:

Here is the Mobiebook site mentioned in the video.

For newbies, this eBook reader is nothing new. It's being sold under a variety of brand names, probably the best known of which is BeBook.

Sony Reader PRS-505 - What Sony Doesn't Want You to Know Before You Buy
This is a demonstration of the Sony Reader. It is not a full demonstration, rather, it shows how it would work in real-life, when one is simply reading a book.

It is a great little device, but this is clearly still very much an early adopter choice.

In the example, I show a Japanese-English dictionary. The benefits are clear, even in this limited example: carry a 750g dictionary, or carry a 340g Sony Reader. And of course, since there are more than 200 other books stored on the 2GB SD card, the choice becomes an even easier one.

However, if you do not have oceans of time, that choice may not be so clear-cut. Watch and decide for yourself.

A painful yet unintentionally funny video. Obviously he's using an eBook in the File Format From Hell: PDF. I hope at some point -- said point being sometime in 2010(!) -- he'll try this test on the Plastic Logic eReader too.

Here's the text review for th above, in which he does not reveal that above video is of a PDF.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Samsung's eInk Papyrus ... Thing

Hands On Video With Samsung’s Papryus E-Ink Device
Sierra did a great of unearthing Samsung’s Papryus E-Ink device. It has generated a lot of comments and interest from the community. Today, I spent some some hands-on time with the device and shot this video. It’s worth pointing out that Sierra happened across a black one, while the one I played with was green. Still no word on price and availability.

There's a video there, but WARNING! It brought my PC to its knees. GottaBeMobile apparently encodes at a very high bitrate and resolution. Too much for this crappy 1.8GHz(!) Celeron to deal with.

I had to download the video and convert it to a DiVX AVI so I could watch. I also took some screensnaps:

It's open to the Notes applications.

Side view: stylus well at bottom, micro-USB post.

Front, "about the size of a Moleskine."

Side again, with stylus in its spring-loaded well.

It requires use of the included stylus to write on the screen ...

... fingertips and other styluses won't work. Odd!

Calendar view of month.

Year calendar.

Choice of ink thicknesses. Lots of icons!

Top. Notice how it's clamped to case. Notice too: NO storage card slot!

"GBM" written in two line thickenesses.

All those icons and the gray remind me of the original Everex Palm-size PC interface!

Icons of some apps.

Fuller front view.

This is a very strange device. No mention of eBooks. Is it basically an eInk-screened PDA?

The size seems to be almost identical to the jetBook, execpt slimmer at the side. That's a five-inch eInk screen.

I can't help wondering what it would be like to have that.

Samsung had to have put a good deal of money into its development. I guess they're not ready to market it for anything yet. If they could get it to do ePub eBooks, it'd be a real contender against both the Sony Reader and the jetBook.

However, knowing how Samsung likes to graft "additional value" onto its even most basic products (see how overpriced the budget-specced Q1 UMPC became!), I expect they wouldn't sell this without a cellphone radio and WiFi in it -- thus giving it a ridiculous price of $400, if not even higher.

I neglected to mention that it was jkk of jkkmobile fame who first alerted me to the GottaBeMobile posts. Thanks, jkk! (He is offering a scaled PDF of the VAIO P! Print one out actual size to play with! Post -- not PDF -- link.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Stanza: Over One Million Downloads!

Interview with Lexcycle cofounder Neelan Choksi

Think about how staggering that is.

There has never before been any eBook hardware or software to even approach one million -- yet Stanza has passed that.

1) Can you imagine the eBooks sales that would generate if all eBooks were standardized on ePub as well as being DRM-free?

2) Can you imagine how absolutely gigantic this will get when the iPod Air/iPod Touchbook is released in late 2009?

The dying dinosaurs of print had better wake up to this ASAP.

Barnes & Noble, Borders? You guys will look like this in 2010.

Generation D (For Dinosaur)

Here is the lesson for today: Very few ever changed their minds

Plastic Logic eReader To Do ePub

Even though I got this tweet:

I couldn't see the mention of ePub. It was then pointed out to me here, at 31 seconds into the video:


That means DRMed ePub. Like loans from public libraries. (Do you see that, ECTACO? ePub, not MobiPocket!)

ECTACO Needs To Change Course!

I sent Judie Lipsett of Gear Diary to do my filthy bidding at CES, to specifically visit the ECTACO booth and get the word on developments for their jetBook eBook reader.

This is from her encrypted Top Secret email:

1) There will be an upgrade to the software within two months to support ePub, HTML, and MobiPocket.

2) DRMed MobiPocket is uncertain at this time.

3) ePub support will not permit DRMed public library loans.

4) But if they do DRMed MobiPocket, public library loans for that will work.

5) No WiFi for this year. That's planned for 2010.

6) No reduction of current price ($299.00, which is already down from $399.00 and then $349.00).

7) They intend to stay in the eBook game despite Amazon and the Sony Reader due to buyer response. Also, they believe the pocketability factor gives them a niche.

One thing I'm unclear about. Judie says ECTACO stated they're using FBReader. That's odd. The betting was that ECTACO was using Coolreader. I wonder if this is actually an announcement of them switching from Coolreader to FBReader when the firmware upgrade is released?

I'll be emailing ECTACO the link for this post, so I hope they'll be reading this.

ECTACO, don't go with DRMed MobiPocket! Go with DRMed ePub instead!

MobiPocket is a legacy format. The majority of print publishers have adopted ePub. Most of these ePub books will no doubt have DRM wrapped around them -- from Adobe.

It's leaked out that MobiPocket demands DRM exclusivity for licensing their format. This is clearly Restraint of Trade. MobiPocket and eReader have both worked on the same hardware -- on Palm PDAs and Pocket PCs. MobiPocket's exclusivity demands are nothing more than monopolistic bullying. It's a bet they can't win because the tide of the future is against them.

MobiPocket format eBooks are often more expensive than any others too. Why do you want to lock your customers into a format that is costly?

ePub is what public libraries will be buying. ePub is what most publishers and eBookstores will be selling. This will be a very competitive market and thus there will be pricing bargains for eBook buyers. jetBook owners can benefit greatly from that.

Think about this too: If you offer DRMed MobiPocket, you will always have to offer it. You'll have customers who will have built libraries of DRMed MobiPocket eBooks and they'll want future models of the jetBook to support that investment. You'll be painting yourself into a corner with that. It's better not to create a set of customers you'll someday have to alienate!

ePub is the format that will get the Big Push. It will be what people will look for when buying eBooks.

Look at what Sony has done in England! Instead of setting up another UK-only eBook Store, they partnered with bookseller Waterstone's. And Waterstone's is selling ePub eBooks -- not Sony's own BroadBand eBook (BBeB) format.

Please, please consider dropping plans for MobiPocket. Go instead with ePub, even if it means getting a DRM license from Adobe.

Full ePub support will signal the jetBook is embracing the future. It will indicate to people a jetBook purchase is a safe investment. It will also make the jetBook an instant alternative to the Sony Reader.

OK, that ends my pleading.

Now some photos from CES courtesy of Kevin from Gear Diary.

Most photos are click = big.

Promotional poster. Eh. Not entirely compelling.

Store demo display. I haven't seen one of these anywhere yet.

High-contrast non-backlit LCD screen. None of the refresh of eInk. And can be mistaken for eInk in direct lighting.

The range of four color: black, tan, white, red. The case is textured plastic so it lacks sex appeal but provides a good grip.

The top, where mini-USB port and SD Card slot reside.

Cover for mini-USB and card slot open. The jetBook only accepts SD cards as large as 2GB. I hope an OS update can increase that.

The right side: combo numeric and letter buttons. T9 is used to enter Search terms.

The left side: that silver ribbed thing is a slider to change pages. It can really be ignored and the jetBook can be held without accidentally using it.

In the center of the bottom is a wee power button, which is pushed in. Varying press duration for either total Off or simply Sleep/Standby. At the right is an standard-sized earphone jack. At the front surface left are page turn buttons. The cluster at front surface right provide access to Library, Find, Rotation (90-degrees), and Back; with 4-directional and OK center button.

The entire jetBook design would be very familiar to any Sony Reader 505 owner.

Thanks again to Judie and Kevin for the intelligence gathering!

Plastic Logic eReader: Three Videos

Plastic Logic e-book prototype

Plastic Logic e-book prototype video 2

plasticlogic demo

They clearly say it won't be out for another year: 2010.

Leaving aside my predilection for economic Doom, just from a tech timescale perspective, that's very strange. A lot can happen in a year. I'm still waiting for Pixel Qi and their new screens. Who's to say that a color screen for eBooks won't happen between now and then?

Samsung eBook Reader: More Info

More on the Samsung Papyrus E-Ink Device

It's a short item.

Look at this enlarged photo.

It has PDA applications on it!

I don't see any buttons on the front, either.

No word on eBook formats yet.

This is a very strange duck.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Buying eBooks Via Stanza-Fictionwise

Buying an ebook from the Stanza-Fictionwise store
I while ago I wanted to read Nam Le’s, ‘The Boat’. It’s currently only available in trade hardback. I haven’t bought a hardback for ages. I don’t like carrying them around and they are comparatively expensive. Anyway, I wanted an ebook version.

At the moment there aren’t that many options, the Kindle is only available in the US and frankly I’m not sure I’d want one. I do, however, have an iPod Touch which makes my commute into and out of London almost fun. It has music, video, games, ebooks and I even write on it.

Then I discovered that Fictionwise stocked ‘The Boat’ and their catalogue was being made available on my favourite iPod Touch ereader - Stanza.

This post is about my experience buying though the Stanza-Fictionwise store directly within the Stanza app itself.

It's a detailed step-by-step with screensnaps.

New iPhone eBook Reading App: Shortcovers

Welcome to Shortcovers!
Shortcovers is a new digital destination for people to discover and experience their next great read. Both an online and mobile service, it gives readers instant access to the newest books, hottest authors, and most popular magazines and blogs - as well as new content formats and user-inspired writings such as subway novels and fan fiction. It’s not just for avid readers, it’s for anyone who wants the convenience of accessing and reading their favorite content, anytime, anywhere, on the mobile devices they already own.

The INDEX // mb blog has extensive coverage of this with a video.

Samsung Doing An eInk eBook Reader?

The merry mobile madmen over at GottaBeMobile have unearthed a lonely eInk eBook reader from Samsung.

And it looks like freehand notes can be scribbled on the screen and it also contains applications of some kind.

Click here to see the brief item and picture.

I've looked all over the Net and can't find additional information yet.

Not Biting My Tongue Yet, Colligan!

I'm still studying all the information coming in about the new Palm webOS and Palm Pre phone.

It's contradictory and nonsensical and I can't make sense of any of it yet.

I do think it's the first CloudPhone -- and that would have been a better name for it than "Pre," which Twitter wags have stated:

Click = big

And while they did not announce any sexy mini-tablet, this is a Social OS, as I stated. And it is the axis around which the Internet revolves. It is a phone for the Nerdi.

I have absolutely no idea what app development for this will be like and so have no clue how this will impact on eBooks. We'll have to see which developers announce support for it. Fictionwise/eReader, MobiPocket, Stanza? Hello?

Second Free Suze Orman eBook Via Oprah

Suze Orman's Free Book Download
Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan

Get your copy of Suze Orman's latest book, Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan, for free!

This is a PDF, so right-click and do Save As...

-- via Twitter via TweetGrid from Freebies4mom

A New Version of eCub Is Released

eCub - a simple to use EPUB and MobiPocket ebook creator
Version 1.02, January 8th 2009

* Corrected initial image browser directory from documents directory to Templates.

* Added preflight checker option.

* Added first-line indent and paragraph spacing options to CSS generation, and added styles to the CSS for TOC heading, TOC entries and chapter heading.

* Fixed poor cover image quality problem on Windows.

* Document now marked as modified when changing level and ordering in Files tab.

I'm taking today off from converting The People of the Abyss by Jack London into an ePub eBook using eCub. Monitoring CES news!

Awaiting Today's CES News!

There's at least one big announcement due today, possibly two.

The first ...

... is Palm introducing its still-unnamed new operating system, formerly known under the code-name of Nova.

To remind everyone, it was the original Palm Pilot that gave birth to mass-market eBooks, with the creation of Fictionwise and the original Peanut Press (now eReader, and owned by Fictionwise).

I'm hoping this new OS will be the "breakthrough level of innovation" Ed Colligan has claimed it will be.

I want to see Palm succeed again. I want this new OS to inspire Stanza to port to it and allow ePub eBooks to be read on it.

The second news is possibly from ECTACO. I'm hoping for word of a WiFi-enabled jetBook and a demonstration of its upcoming upgrade that will support both MobiPocket and ePub books.

A WiFi-enabled jetBook would be serious competition to the Sony Reader. Remember, the jetBook uses a non-backlight LCD screen. This would provide superior web access than an eInk screen.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tell The FTC You HATE DRM!

FTC to hold DRM referendum

Go here to fill out the online form.

This is what I told them:
Digital Rights Management -- commonly known as DRM -- is a hindrance to full-ownership of digital media.

1) It prevents buyers from placing digital media on any compatible device they might own.

2) It restricts the number of owned devices such media may reside on.

3) It often restricts the kind of device digital media may be placed on. For example, only Kindle-format eBooks can be read on a Kindle eBook reading device.

4) It leaves buyers at the mercy of DRM servers and DRM schemes which might not persist through the full-lifetime of the purchaser.

5) It is antithetical to the entire definition of "purchase." DRM at its worst redefines "ownership" to "ownership at-will."

6) DRM is against the tide of history. Just this week, Apple announced DRM-free music on its iTunes Music Store. This is the way and wave of the future.

7) DRM prevents universal adoption of digital media due to problems with authentication and restriction on types of devices used.

8) DRM is often a way for a company to employ monopolistic practices. It has been said that MobiPocket -- an eBook vendor owned by Amazon -- will not license its technology unless it enjoys sole DRM presence on a device. This is Restraint of Trade because we have had devices -- Palm PDAs and Pocket PCs -- which could simultaneously employ MobiPocket *and* other DRM schemes.

9) DRM is an annoyance to legal purchasers and merely a ridiculous challenge to the technically adept. So far, there has not been a single DRM scheme that has *not* be broken.

DRM is not in the best competitive interests of the United States technology industry, not in the best interests of fostering digital goods, and not in the spirit of what is universally and traditionally known as purchase "ownership."

The FTC then confirmed with this:
Your comment has been successfully recorded! A tracking number of *OSCAR*-00047 has been assigned on: 1/7/2009 4:58:45 PM. Please Print this page for your records.

Go and give them hell!

Quote: Donald Clark

Libraries are barriers to reading

An excellent must-read post, but this is the key point for me:
[. . .] [T]o turn books into a fetish is simply to deny learning and access by those who need it most. Real books are great, but let’s not confuse the medium with the content. Just as journalists and newspaper owners fail to realise they’re in the ‘news’ not the ‘newspaper’ business, so book fans and publishers fail to realise that this is about reading, not books.

Emphasis added by me.

I Am An eBook Militant

This post from Mike Cane 2008 never made it here.

Apparently it's time for me to pimp it here (I'm too lazy to reproduce it!).

I'll also point new readers to this prior post here: The Horror Of Paper Books

(Yeah, lots of "here" there. Shut up.)

A Missed eBook Opportunity?

CES 2009: iLuv Portable Multimedia Player

Imagine being able to read eBooks on that larger screen!

But no mention is made of that capability. Nor can I envision how it's possible with the current design.

Ah, that would have really been something!

Wireless Sony Reader: Via Verizon Network?

Verizon To Support Kindle Competitors
Amazon’s Kindle may soon be just another electronic reader among a handful of choices on Verizon Wireless. In an interview with Reuters just ahead of CES, Verizon exec Tony Lewis, who runs a program to help third-party vendors get their products certified to work on the operator’s networks, said he expected Kindle rivals to launch in 2009, though he declined to specify who these competitors might be.

Supporting electronic readers is part of Verizon’s Open Development program started last year, in which the operator said it would support independent devices sold by vendors other than itself.

Emphasis added by me.

There's more. It's a short item, and I've already quoted more than I'm comfortable doing under Fair Use. So go see the rest at the link.

Sony has global cellphone experience via its Sony-Ericcson joint venture.

I'm certain that Steve Haber's desire for the Sony Reader to be an open platform would extend to openness towards cellphone networks too. Although this story highlights Verizon, I'm certain a wireless Sony Reader would also work with T-Mobile, AT&T, or Sprint. It might not happen all at once at the launch, but it would just take one network to agree and the rest would fall in line to get their share of the pie too.

Also, a wireless Sony Reader would be the first such device to work worldwide, on any cellphone network anywhere.

ePub and ubiquitous wireless coverage would be an unbeatable combination.

Update: Mike Elgan chimes in with some thoughts.

A Variety Of eBook Notes For January 7, 2009

Downloads boost 2008 single sales
The UK singles market grew by 33% in 2008 thanks to a growth in download sales, the BPI has said.

And with the iTunes Store now going DRM-free with music, there are lessons to be learned here for the dying dinosaurs of print.

30,000 eBooks for iPhones and iPod Touch from BooksOnBoard
Apple iPhone and iPod Touch owners will be happy to know that BooksOnBoard has released no less than 30,000 eBook titles for these devices. The eReader eBook format books include titles by Gena Showalter, Nora Roberts, Michael Connelly, David Baldacci, Stieg Larsson, Susan Mallery, and Harlequin's One Click Buy January Blaze Bundle.

All Romance eBooks Makes Thousands of Romance Titles Available to iPhone and iPod Touch Users with Lexcycle Stanza.
Palm Harbor, FL (PRWEB) January 6, 2009 -- All Romance eBooks, an on-line bookstore that specializes in the sale of romance eBooks, and Lexcycle, the company behind the critically acclaimed Stanza electronic book reader for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch, announced today that All Romance eBooks has made more than 6000 romance titles accessible via Stanza's Online Catalog.

Stanza is the Little Software That Could. There will always be people who treat reading as a catch-as-catch-can thing, and those people will be satisfied with reading off an illuminated and relatively wee cellphone screen. But I see Stanza as being a great advertisement for devices such as the Sony Reader and the ECTACO jetBook.

Flickr Group: Book Cover Club -- this can in via bookoven over Twitter.

Digital Editions: News, info and tips about Adobe Digital Editions
-- blog

ePubNow! Reader
ePubNow! Reader is a reading system that renders EPUB eBooks with XHTML vocabulary. It will soon be upgraded to read EPUB eBooks with DTBook (Digital Talking Book) vocabulary also.

Readers may use this online reading system for viewing EPUB format ebooks which are not encrypted. When you sign-in as a reader, you are offered few free EPUB format eBooks. You may like to upload your own inventory and access it on the Internet from anywhere, anytime.

It requires registration, which I won't do, so I don't know anything more than that. eCub is suiting me just fine right now, so I won't investigate further.

ePub Books
Where to download ePub Books online

ePub is an eBook file format for both consumers and publishers that offers interoperability between software and hardware for reflowable digital books - you can think of epub as the book equivalent of mp3.

By owning your eBooks in the .epub format you will be able to read them using a wide range of software and eletronic book readers including the iPhone (using the Stanza eBook Reader application), the Bookworm web browser reader and the Sony Reader PRS-505. As the ePub format is fast becoming the preferred industry standard world-wide, we are now seeing more publishers, book stores and developers supporting this format - there's no better time to explore the world of eBooks.

Below is a listing of all the current commercial and free eBook download sites offering ePub Books.

This is one everyone with a Sony Reader, ECTACO jetBook, and iPhone using Stanza should bookmark. There's also a Twitter account: Follow ePub.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

More Luv For Sony Reader

Sony Reader: I Like it!

Go see! He has a great pic of the Light Wedge cover that people wonder about. Click on it to enlarge!

Monday, January 5, 2009

eCub ePub Screensnap

This is test build #16 open in Adobe Digital Editions.

Oh, ignore the fact it's crap. This is still all the Learning Curve.

Stuff none of you will have to go through, once I've done it.

Because I intend to do three blog posts:

1) My misadventures
2) A full-blown tutorial
3) A checklist

You lot will be spitting out your own ePub and waving buh-bye to that crap, PDF.


Sony Reader In Two Blog Posts

Comment: Sony Reader PRS-505 UK Edition
Overall, I’m really impressed with the experience of reading ebooks on the Sony Reader 505. I am not a fan of reading on my computer, I’ve warmed to using Stanza on my iPhone but the Reader has been the most comfortable. I’ve read two books on it already and eager to start the next one.

Who Else Got A Sony Reader From Santa?
If you didn’t get a Sony Reader or Amazon Kindle from Santa this year, then I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you that the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, or Boogeyman brings you one soon!

He got the lust-cramp-inducing Red one. And he did a video too!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Trying ePub With eCub

I've longed wailed that there isn't a writer-easy method to create an ePub file.

Well, there has been one.

I just didn't know about it.

It's called eCub.

And it's all based on Wizards.

I've been using it the past three days, trying to create an acceptable ePub eBook.

There have been plenty of problems.

Not with the software itself, but with traditional typesetting things vs. HTML/web things.

I want an ePub eBook that looks like a book, not some lousy piece of crap spit out from a computer.

I've been keeping notes.

When the eBook is finished, I'll do a blog post.

Just not any time soon.

This will be a long slog.