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:

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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,,,, Fictionwise, Mobipocket, Palm Digital Media, and

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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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sony eLibrary 3.0 For Windows XP

Even though I looked on Sony's site, I couldn't find any links for the 3.0 version of the Sony Reader eLibrary software. Nevertheless, those wizards over at Mobileread did! UPDATE! Mobileread now has a link for the Macintosh OS X version too!

This is the installation process, which shows me upgrading from the prior version.

The 2.x desktop shortcut icon:

This is what the 2.x software looked like minutes before:

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Install dialog:

Intermission dialog:

I did click on Details for the Just In Case. This is the web page. Note this still:
Using the eBook Library software with 64-bit versions of Windows® XP operating system is not supported.

And after a few minutes, behold 3.0:

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Ignore what's in my library. Most of the links were actually dead! Just look:

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By now, your reaction is probably the same as mine: Wow! That's fugly!!

Strangely, it had cached the covers of the dead links!

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FeedBooks ePub in full-screen view:

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Sample ePub via Adobe in full-screen mode:

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Unlike 2.x software, the bottom controls no longer fade away when the pointer isn't touched. The controls seem to persist.

Cover of an Adobe DRMed ePub borrowed from the New York Public Library in full-screen mode:

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First page of same in full-screen mode:

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After I cleared out all the dead links, I was left with this small list. And here I am returning that ePub to the library:

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The new XP desktop shortcut icon:

Well, the software is still fugly. It's still unintuitive. It launches slower than 2.x but seems to run OK. This hasn't been a beat-down stress test, just a quick documenting of the upgrade.

I was really hoping for some user interface and eye candy improvement. I guess such things are beyond Sony's ability. Too bad.

iPod Touch II On September 9, 2009

The two tablet rumors make absolute sense to me.

1) Six-inch screen Tablet that is based on the iPhone OS

2) Ten-inch screen Tablet that is based on Mac OS X

I believe we will see the first next month. It will have an iPod branding. I wouldn't be surprised if it had a rather plain name like the iPod Touch II. "Now Double the Fun."

Why do I see this happening next month?

Because of Cocktail.

If Apple wants to replicate the fun of album covers and liner notes, they're not going to settle for having people look at that on a wee three-inch screen. People would react with So what? and Why do I need that?

So I'm certain a bigger screen is in order for that.

Plus, it will be an iPod, not a Mac.

This distinction is crucial. It means none of us can look forward to it being a productivity device. It will be an extension of the iPhone and iPod Touch continuum -- which emphasizes fun and leisure.

In short: no Bluetooth keyboard for it. Give up that notion right now.

And eBooks? I don't see Apple giving Adobe money for its ePub DRM scheme. People will have to rely on Stanza for DRMed ePub.

I still believe that Steve Jobs has nothing but utter contempt for ePub -- as well he should! -- and so should everyone! -- so if Apple is going to do eBooks, it will be via the Cocktail platform.

Yes, I do believe that Apple will get into digital books. Steve Jobs can't help but to look around and see how absolutely pathetic his so-called competitors in the field are. It's wide open for Apple to take. And it doesn't require a full-blown Mac OS X notebook for that. An iPod Touch II would do just fine.

A Tablet based on Mac OS X will most likely appear next year, probably in Spring or Fall. There is no compelling reason to rush something as important as that. We've all seen what rushing a tablet to market did for Microsoft's failed Tablet PC plans.

Apple will be making money hand over fist with an iPod Touch II in the meantime. And learning a lot in the process too, which it can incorporate into a Mac OS X tablet.

ePub: The Death Of The Index?

Screensnap from the Appendix of an ePub eBook borrowed from the New York Public Library. This is not the first one to have a worthless Index. But it is the first one to offer such an insulting suggestion!

This is unacceptable.

One more nail in the coffin of the Axis of E.

Sony: Not All Words Allowed!

Of course I wind up pushing the envelope once again.

I've joined Sony's new Words Move Me site.

But the first literary quote I put in flagged the bluenoses!

The quote was this:
I disliked them all immediately, sitting around acting clever and superior. They nullified each other. The worst thing for a writer is to know another writer, and worse than that, to know a number of other writers. Like flies on the same turd.

-- Women by Charles Bukowski

This is how it appears on Sony's site:

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Now I ask you, which is worse? The word "turd" or making people think the actual word was "shit"?

Nevertheless, I went on to add nineteen snippets to the site:

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I'm mikecane there.

What I like about the site is the crawl of quotes on the main page:

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One other person has begun to add quotes too after I did.

It will be interesting to see if Sony leaves the Bukowski quote looking so damaged or if they'll realize that "turd" is better than what people can imagine in their own filthy minds.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Assorted eBook Notes For Monday August 24, 2009

Publishers Weekly: Jane Friedman Raises $3 Million

Paid Content: Jane Friedman’s OpenRoad Gets $3 Million Funding For eBooks Venture

Raising three million dollars is not an insignificant task. But I predict failure.

Above is Jane Friedman captured in a video embedded at the Paid Content site.

As innovative as Friedman may have been in her career, I think she is ill-suited to the new world of digital publishing. She is someone who has made her mark, risen to a certain level in life, and is not about to get into the down-and-dirty guerilla tactics of digital publishing. If Jane Friedman was on Twitter, I think we'd see that blatantly. I think Jane Friedman is the type who would do Twitter by proxy.

This is not to be disrespectful of her achievements, but to acknowledge reality. Apple, Google, Amazon, et al, were not founded by Jane Friedmans. And yet the kind of people who created those companies are the very ones Friedman will have to compete against. Three million is a mighty war chest, but if you really think you need that amount of money, you'd either better have one hell of a business strategy or else requiring that amount is an admission of failure at the very start.

Friedman's OpenRoad Integrated Media -- which doesn't even have a website! -- will be going up against agile startups such as Quartet Press. In a year, I think it will be obvious which of these two companies has made a mark. If I had to put real money down, it'd be on Quartet Press.

Over at Munsey’s Technosnarl is a post that raises very uncomfortable questions: Questions For Sony viz Kindle.

I'm not attending tomorrow's Sony event. I wasn't invited and since it's in the bloody morning, I don't want to go anyway (only Steve Jobs could command morning attention from me -- and thank god he's on the west coast, so me being on the east coast works out well). But if I was going, I'd bring along a printout of this and corner Steve Haber and slash him with them.

Another reason, aside from my lack of faith in the Axis of E, for not wanting to go to Sony's event is that I think they've already conceded my point they stubbornly resisted less than a year ago:
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.

Emphasis added by me.

Less than a year later, the PRS-700 is gone and Sony is diving in with a $199.00 Reader. I win.

I particularly like this question in the Munsey's post:
Your latest ebook strategy has you making the device and actually selling titles, Adobe providing DRM, Bowker supplying "neccesary" ISBNs, Overdrive on the back-end, and conversion houses like PublishingDimensions producing the content on behalf of a publisher. What manner and quantity of drugs must one take before one can actually believe that strategies involving said middlemen, required by "standard" and all taking their cut, will somehow result in lower ebook prices for readers, and more money to publishers and authors, when compared to the Kindle model of publisher+Amazon?

So much for the world of disintermediation! Hey, Sony! This isn't 2008 anymore. We now have Atlantis for creating ePub and SIGIL for editing ePub. Which part of that sentence don't you guys understand?

Next, both the PRS-300 and the PRS-600 are out in the wild somewhere in Canada. There have been stills and videos posted. I grabbed two screensnaps from a video to make this:

What disturbs me about the 300 is the big text gap at the bottom of the screen. There should be room for another sentence there. The page margins also look to be wider than those on the 505. See a larger version here.

And, finally, a head's-up for those of you with a public library offering eBooks via the OverDrive monopoly system. Returning too many eBooks too soon can get you in trouble!

Shortly after doing this post, I was greeted by a message that prompted me to email OverDrive:
My local library is giving me

Error code: 710
Error details: Early return error

Which aborts the Checkout process.

What does that mean?

OverDrive replied:
We are sorry you are having trouble with your Adobe eBooks. This error is being shown because you have returned an excessive number of Adobe eBook titles in a brief period of time. Please try checking out you Adobe eBooks again in a couple of days. However, you should still be able to check out titles of other formats without difficulty.

Well, look. I don't have an eInk device and didn't want to hold on to all of those titles for the seven day loan period when other people likely wanted to read them.

So let that be a warning to everyone: you cannot even browse eBooks!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The eBook Cover Scandal

Who can deny that a good cover plays a part in the overall book buying and even reading experience?

I've done several posts about the necessity for direct publishers to pay attention to good cover design. After all, just because a book is electronic doesn't mean people won't be attracted to -- or repelled by -- its cover.

One of the few things I haven't complained about with print publishing is the design of book covers. This is because it's an art that stretches back for decades and there have been some seriously great covers (see The Book Design blog for some samples).

There is even a science to book covers!

But with print publishing turning to eBooks, all of that learning is being flushed down the eToilet.

I submit these exhibits as proof. They were ePub eBook loans from the New York Public Library. If these reflect what eBook purchasers get, there's trouble ahead!

American Rust, A Novel by Philipp Meyer; Publisher: Random House Publishing Group; Imprint: Spiegel & Grau

The print cover:

The eBook cover:

Black Boy by Richard Wright; Publisher: HarperCollins; Imprint: HarperCollins e-books

The print cover:

The eBook cover:

Burn by Sean Doolittle; Publisher: Dell Publishing; Imprint:Dell

The print cover:

The eBook cover:

Business Stripped Bare, Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur by Richard Branson; Publisher: Random House Publishing Group; Imprint: Virgin Digital

The print cover:

The eBook cover:

Fault Line, A Novel by Barry Eisler; Publisher: Random House Publishing Group; Imprint: Ballantine Books

The print cover:

The eBook cover:

Gang Leader for a Day, A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets by Sudhir Venkatesh; Publisher: Penguin Group USA, Inc.; Imprint: The Penguin Press

The print cover:

The eBook title page (yes, this one does not have a cover!):

Lincoln Unmasked, What You're Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe by Thomas DiLorenzo; Publisher: Crown Publishing Group; Imprint: Three Rivers Press

The print cover:

The eBook cover:

The Civil War, The complete text of the bestselling narrative history of the Civil War--based on the celebrated PBS television series by Geoffrey C. Ward, Kenneth Burns; Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group; Imprint: Vintage

The print cover:

The eBook cover:

The Real Deadwood, True Life Histories of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Outlaw Towns, and Other Characters of the Lawless West by John Ames; Publisher: Penguin USA, Inc.; Imprint: Chamberlain Bros.

The print cover:

The eBook title page (another one that doesn't have a cover!):

I picked these eBooks because they were of interest to me.

Some of you at this point might be saying, "Well, these are generic covers because these are library copies." Then explain these:

Amazing Tales for Making Men Out of Boys by Neil Oliver; Publisher: HarperCollins; Imprint: HarperCollins e-books

The print cover:

The eBook cover:

Lowboy by John Wray; Publisher: Canongate Books

The print cover:

The eBook cover:

If they can do that, why not everyone else?

And understand this too: An argument cannot be made that the electronic rights for the covers haven't been secured. Because the print versions I'm showing are displayed electronically in the NYPL catalog (OverDrive system)!

I consider this to be a scandal. It's tantamount to bait-and-switch and I foresee the day of many eBook buyer complaints and perhaps even inquiries by State Attorneys General.

And it's another reason why I think the entire Axis of E will fail.

Prior posts elsewhere about covers:

The Topic Of Covers ... Again!
eBooks: The Issue Of Covers, Again
Free eBook: Password Incorrect
Book Covers: Murder
Book Cover: What?!
eBooks: More About Covers
eBooks: A Cover Test
They Don’t Write These Anymore