Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cool-er eBook Reader & eBookstore

Second update: Confusion continues to surround the true capabilities of this device as well as the format of eBooks for sale at its store. Until all that is sorted out with undeniable proof, proceed with caution.

This post has been updated with corrections and clarifications.

The Net has been abuzz over one of the first of a coming flood of new eInk eBook devices.

This one is called the Cool-er.

Oh wait. Wrong picture. This is it:

Photos over at Engadget show a shitty hardware UI: page button on the right side, other controls on the spine. So far, only Sony and the designers behind the jetBook have reader-friendly hardware UIs that take into account the book part of hardware design.

Dismissing the hardware -- which may or may not use either Adobe for its ePub rendering engine or FB Reader (the Engadget photos reveal these seeming to co-exist!) -- what remains is an eBook store that could be their salvation.

UPDATE: eBook format confusion just bit me! OK, at this bookstore, Adobe Digital Editions is a PDF file, not ePub. This also explains how this device contains both Adobe and FBReader. The Adobe is used for PDF. FBReader is used for ePub. This means ePub rendering could be problematic!

I browsed through it and while some of the prices are shocking -- due to the continued eejitcy of the dying dinosaurs of print establishment currently hastening their own deserved extinction -- there are books here and there that could steal customers away from, giving one example, the Sony eBook Store.

Look at this.

Cooler has four books from Christopher Fowler:

Click = big

$5.59 is a great price! Here's Sony's price:

Click = big

$6.64 -- discounted from $6.99.

And get this: the Cooler eBook editions are ePub, while the Sony are proprietary BBeB. Anyone who would buy the Fowler eBooks from Sony is a moron! Update: The Cooler editions are PDFs. These should in fact be avoided.

So Cooler could be taking money away from Sony, never mind whatever revenue they hoped to gain from the hardware. Update: PDF will not win -- especially not on a device with a six-inch screen! If Sony does indeed release an 8.9" reader, then perhaps these PDFs might be worthwhile. Although buying ePub is the best bet for the general public.

There are still some rough spots at the store:

But anyone who buys eBooks should bookmark the site and check it out for bargains. It'd also be helpful if the store had a Twitter account and tweeted what's added -- this is something Sony doesn't do with its own store. Update: Any such tweets should also make it very clear what eBook formats are available.

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