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:

Click = big

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:

Click = big

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).