Tag Archives: ebook readers

Asus re-redux

I haven’t read any more on the Asus since my last post about it. However, it recently paid for itself when I had a computer emergency. For three days that little thing was an absolute workhorse. It was a little slow and klunky, but it did the job and it kept me earning money. I NEVER expected to need it for that.

So for around $250, I have an emergency work computer, an e-book reader on which I can read ANY DAMN FORMAT I WANT, listen to music, surf the net, keep my data, and write.

And I should buy a Kindle/Sony/Nook/JetBook . . . why?

More on the Asus

I haven’t used my eBookWise in a while. I’ve been reading *gasp* paper and on my Asus EeePC in my recliner. So last night I went back to my eBookWise.

It’s cold here (well, for early October, it is). It was toasty warm in my bed. I ducked under the covers and read my eBookWise, holding it in one hand (and the ergonomics on this are prescient).

I could not do that with the Asus.

Just sayin’.

The handy-dandy all-purpose digital reader

Some time back ago, I said I wanted an Asus EeePC to read digital books because it was kind of an all-purpose device. As time went on, I decided maybe I’d rather have an iPhone or a BlackBerry, but then I found out about their mandatory data plans and I’m a cheap bitch, so no thanks. I wanted something reasonably portable that I could 1) read digital books on in any format I wanted; 2) listen to music; 3) keep my personal data on (now that I have this awesome personal information management standalone app); and 4) to basically be able to haul my brain around with me. I don’t like talking on the phone, so I would rather not have one at all, but must. I want to keep the phone separate from my other tasks.

Anyhoo, money’s been a little too tight for frills, but then our old (you don’t want to know HOW old) desktops (all three) started nickel’n’diming us to death, so we bit the bullet. I have been given an assignment to return and report the specs and my digital reading experience.

The assignment:

On the Asus, install:

1) Adobe Reader
2) Adobe AIR
3) Adobe Digital Editions (requires AIR, hence 2)
4) Microsoft Reader
5) MobiPocket Desktop
6) Sony eBook Library
7) FBReader

Then BLOG wtf it’s like to use them on that Atom CPU. (You DO have ATOM, right, not Celeron?)

ADDITIONAL: Try a GOOGLE BOOKS PDF!!

Here are the specs:

Asus EeePC 901 (black, if you care)
Intel Atom
CPU N270
1.6 GHz
1.99 GB RAM
Windows XP Home
2-1/2 pounds (about the weight of Atlas Shrugged, I believe)
~5 hours battery life (>2 hours better than my Dell laptop)

Here’s a gallery with examples of Adobe Reader, ADE, Microsoft Reader, MobiPocket, and FBReader. I have no reason to care about Sony Reader, but will do later, and I haven’t done a Google Books PDF yet.

So, for the reading part. Thus far, I’ve just been on MobiPocket, reading Soul Identity by Dennis Batchelder, in my recliner. For regular reading, it’s a bit heavy, but if you find your “sweet spot” where you can press the arrow with your thumb and still be comfortable holding it, you get used to it. Naturally, the back light is sweet in the dark.

The only real annoyance I have (besides the weight) so far is how long it takes to turn it on and off. It’s not like my eBookWise, where it’s one button and on, it turns itself off after 15 minutes (or whatever you set). The Asus acts like a computer because, well, it is.

More later after I’ve had a little more time with it.

PSA for LDS publishers

Y’all probably don’t read my blog. I curse muchly and there is “sex” in my banner, not to mention a bare nekkid lady.

Before you read any further (if you are still reading or the least bit interested), please go to these websites and study them. Ignore the content; I want you to see what they’re doing. Then come back. I’ll wait.

B10 Mediaworx.

My Bookstore and More (mostly Samhain Publishing‘s titles, but look under the “manufacturers” tab and see the other e-book publishers).

Loose-Id.

Ellora’s Cave.

Baen Books.

Zumaya Books.

eBooks.com.

Project Gutenberg.

Fictionwise.

Back? Cool. Now, please go here:

Amazon Kindle.

Sony e-book reader.

iPhone.

iTouch.

BlackBerry.

Palm Pre.

A more complete list of e-book readers.

Did you understand what I wanted you to see? Awesome!

As a consumer of e-books, I would like to offer you a friendly suggestion, which is to embrace the digital distribution of your titles. The e-book publishers I linked are making money hand over fist. The devices I linked are the way people read e-books. This will grow.

You probably don’t understand the seduction of having an entire library in your palm, and that’s okay. There are lots and lots of people who say they won’t give up print for anything, and then they get to live with an e-book reader for maybe two or three days, and they’re hooked.

There’s also something very seductive about being able to log onto an e-bookstore and download a bunch of books onto your device immediately. No driving. It’s all about impulse. I can talk myself out of an Amazon purchase because it involves shipping time. It leaves the shopping cart and goes into the wish list, never to be seen again. I don’t even want to go to a bookstore anymore.

I’ve now encountered three small LDS presses and individuals somewhere in the LDS publishing arena dismiss e-books as so much of a passing fad, a waste of time or, worse, think that “e-book” is synonymous with “PDF.” I simply have to shake my head at their short-sightedness.

Be on the cutting edge of the digital age of books. Take a cue from the church’s rabid embrace of the interwebz and streaming audio and its ability to reach its members nearly effortlessly.

But beyond that, the take-home message here is this: E-bookstores are dangerous to the health of my checkbook.

Want to know the real reason I don’t buy anything from Deseret Book, Zarahemla, Signature Books et al? No e-books. I want to read your books; really I do, but I’m not going back to paper unless you give me something terribly compelling. I buy e-books on impulse. Impulse. Hear that? IMPULSE.

Please give me a reason to throw my money at you in the middle of the night when one of your titles catches my eye. Pretty please?

Eating a little bit of crow…

Yesterday, I got a little mouthy (see this post), which will surprise no one.

I was sent an EPUB file that had embedded fonts that rendered perfectly in ADE. I cracked the file open and what did I see? Perfection. The file wasn’t bloated, it was neatly organized, the CSS sheet was reasonably tidy for its detail, and the detail was compact. It worked and it worked beautifully. I can see how it’s done.

In Sony Reader, it MOSTLY rendered the way it was coded (still no full justification).

In FBReader, it did NOT render the way it was coded AT ALL.

I then cracked open The Proviso file that BookGlutton made. It was a lot leaner; granted, I didn’t have embedded fonts, but it still rendered nicely.

Then I cracked open the file of Stay I had made as an experiment using Atlantis, and it was lean, albeit not as lean as The Proviso because Atlantis broke out each chapter as its own file.

Both The Proviso and Stay look “nice” in ADE, Sony, and FBReader (insofar as anything looks nice in FBReader). That’s right. They look nice. Not spectacular. They do not have Teh Pretteh.

And you know what? That’s okay. I can see that Teh Pretteh EPUB file would take a whole lot more work than I’m willing to invest in either time to hand code or money in software that will do it automatically. I simply see no return on the investment of the extra time for Teh Pretteh with the tools that are available now. I have no doubt that those tools will become available in time.

I’m selling a $40 736-print-page book in 8 ebook formats for $6. The print version is Verra Pretteh, as is the PDF file that comes in the e-book file your $6 buys you. But let’s be real. People who seek out and read e-books—especially on an iPhone, SmartPhone, Kindle, or dedicated reader—are doing it for the content.

After basics: full justification, paragraph indents, line spacing, chapter breaks, a hyperlinked table of contents (and other hyperlinks, if necessary), and those conventions of book reading that move the reader seamlessly through the text, anything else is a waste of time.

Why? Because at the price point that is acceptable to an e-book reader who believes that e-books are cheap to produce and should, then, cost a whole lot less than print books, either A) hand-coding Teh Pretteh or B) purchasing the software that will run Teh Pretteh yields little to no return on investment.

So mea culpa for saying it can’t be done.

No mea culpa for saying it’s a waste of time to do it.

For now.

Yo, EPUB evangelists!

June 26, 2009

For those of you EPUB designer/evangelists who talk about the way EPUB allows you to embed fonts, listen up: It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.

The only thing that makes a difference is what the EPUB reader has available to it, to wit: Adobe Digital Editions will display one font and one font ONLY.  ITS OWN.

So will Sony reader.

So will FBReader.

You can mark up the text like crazy, but I’m here to tell you, your CSS theatrics is a big fat waste of time. Ask me how I know.

Now, I didn’t set out to become in anywise an expert at this and I’m not and I’m not saying I am. But until such a time as you can make ADE, Sony Reader, and FBReader  display your brilliant design, the EPUB “embed font” “feature” is a non-starter.

Remember: People who seek out and read e-books DON’T CARE about fancy design. They care about content and the ease of its readability.

The book is dead. Long live the book.

Had a very instructive morning, dear boys and girls. The power in my neighborhood went out for a while.

The devil! you say. No, truly, it did. No lights, no TV (poor Dude and Dude’s daily recordings), no stove (electric, ptooey), no dishwasher, no washing machine or dryer (not like I personally use those things), no hot water (after what’s left is gone), no Internet (gasp!), and, my personal favorite, no data because my laptop went on battery immediately, but I keep everything on my grab’n’run emergency preparedness external hard drive.

Pffft.

So what did I do? Went hunting for my eBookWise. That’s right. I’d had it charging and it was all fresh and ready to go, but what would happen after my charge ran out in 12 to 15 hours (depending on what light level I had it set on)? I would not be able to read, that’s what would happen. And I would thus be forced back to dead-tree books.

And writing long-hand on lined paper. (Er, well, I do that anyway.)

Take away from this what you will, but while I am still a pusher of electronically transmitted stories, nothing but nothing will take the place of dead-tree books.

The forbidden Apple

So let’s try this again and I will make myself very clear: I’m seriously pissed.

Apple rejected my book from its iApp store on the basis that it has the F-word. Now, I’m sorry, but the fact that the F-word is in my book is the least of its crimes (they must have missed the “cunt”), so…“fuck”? Really? But that’s not the point.

And you can download the Stanza (free) or eReader (free) applications to your iPhone, download my book, and read it that way, so all is not lost. But that’s not the point.

Some people call this censorship. I don’t; they’re well within their right to accept or reject any book they want. But that’s not the point.

The point is also not that Apple is cutting off its nose to spite its face. For whatever reason I don’t understand, they’re wishing-washing on e-books.

1) There is no iBooks.

2) There is no restriction of explicit lyrics and explicit/violent games and R-rated movies in the iApp store, which leads me to believe that the restriction is solely for e-book applications. Why? Are we discriminating against reading as a leisure activity? Why?

3) At the same time, Apple made a deal with ScrollMotion to provide a host of e-books as applications, but I notice they are of the young adult variety, which is a pretty safe bet, content-wise. However, they’re wrapping these up in DRM. Why?

4) Not only that, but some of them are seriously over-priced. More than the hardback!!! Gah.

5) When I actually looked at what was in the e-book section if the iApp store, it was classics in the public domain (good!) and puppies-and-kittens (no, seriously, books on puppies and kittens) and manga (in which I have no interest whatsoever). Yeah. Selection. I can get a better selection of books to read at Wal-Mart, albeit I have to go there and buy dead-tree books.

6) On Teleread, the speculation is that spikes in iTouch sales are good for e-books, but is that true for e-book applications?

Nothing Apple is doing on this front makes sense to me. David Carnoy’s Knife Music (read his whole post) was rejected for the F-word, but this wouldn’t have even come to light if he weren’t already semi-high-profile (which fact is okay with me, but it’s happening all over the place, not just with him). I mean, they’re adding e-book applications a little bit. Here and there. Snootily.

On a purely capitalist pig basis, wouldn’t you think this would be a market they would want to exploit? I can only conclude that Jobs simply carries an utter abhorrence for The Book and does not want to exploit it for another revenue stream.

Seriously.

Music.

Movies.

Games.

But not…books?

A rose by any other name

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the definition of a “book,” or more specifically, the proper formatting of an e-book, and the definition of a “page” and its importance in the New eWorld Order.

I’m here to tell you: Unless it’s on paper or in PDF, they ain’t no such thing as a page.

I’ll admit that it took me a while to get used to reading on my eBookWise. Between the whacked-out spacing and the left justification and the lack of paragraph indents, it looked…sloppy. Inferior. But I stuck with it and realized that each book is formatted differently; some are prettier and easier to read than others, but mostly not. I did, however, have problems even with the “prettiest” of the formatting. I was able to adjust my expectations of the presentation once I realized it was a function of the DEVICE and that the DEVICE was not a print book. The print book and the e-book simply have nothing in common except the words they contain: not headers, not footers, not design, not formatting, not…page numbers.

To use the “page” as common ground, each user must have the same edition of a paper book and/or the same edition of the PDF file, but that’s a fairly easy task to accomplish.

In any other format, however, it’s nearly impossible without each user having the same device, the same font settings (i.e., large or small), the same page view settings. Gentlemen, let’s synchronize our devices. Taking the probability of that into account, then, the concept of the “page” vanishes.

The latest argument I have seen for the need for strict pagination in e-books to approximate or duplicate that of a print book is for reference books and the uses of academia viz. for annotation and bibliography, tables of contents and indices, footnotes and end notes. What this demonstrates to me is ignorance or lack of vision or an inability to understand the vast differences in the format, and the capabilities and limitations of each.

ANNOTATION and BIBLIOGRAPHY

quadWhen your bishop or your preacher or your pastor or your minister or other Protestant-type ecclesiastical leader gets up and wants everybody to flip open their Bibles, does s/he say, “Please turn to page 1436 in your Bible”? No. He says, “Romans chapter 15.” (Cause that’s where mine is. In the King James Version. What if you prefer to use a different version? No problem! Romans chapter 15 is still where it’s supposed to be, which is between Romans 14 and Romans 16.)

When your English lit professor or your director or your acting coach directs you to a certain passage in a Shakespearean play, does he say, “Please turn to Hamlet, page 783”? No. (Well, first of all, he’s OBVIOUSLY working from an anthology if it has 783 pages to begin with.) He says, “Please turn to Act 2, Scene 2, Line 35.” So what this means is I was smart and brought my little bitty Hamlet and everybody else was stupid and brought their big fat anthologies. And it makes no difference whatsoever.

The two print books, Bible and Shakespearean anthology, have page numbers. But they aren’t referred to or necessary for annotation or bibliography. In fact, the only thing they’re used for is within the book itself to create tables of contents and indices.

So let’s talk about that.

TABLES OF CONTENTS, INDICES, and FOOT/END NOTES

There’s only one thing a table of contents and/or index is good for: To find your place in the book. Thing is, in a print book, that’s the only way you can find anything…maybe kinda sorta quickly.

In an e-book, the tables of contents and indices have completely different purposes. In fact, an index isn’t even necessary in an e-book, although I would argue that a table of contents is. However, their function and mechanism of use are entirely different from that of a print book.

1. It’s called a hyperlink.

Now, don’t be scared. I’m sure you’ve seen them before here and elsewhere on the interwebz. You put your cursor over it and click and boom…you’re somewhere else on the interwebz. Cool, huh?

You can do that in an ebook, too.

A list of hyperlinks in the beginning of the e-book serves the same function as the table of contents serves in a print book. A print book has page numbers after the chapter name. An e-book has a hyperlink you touch with your stylus and boom, you’re there, same as it works on the interwebz. No page numbers? No problem! Not necessary at all.

But hyperlinks are good within the text, too. If a word is hyperlinked, you touch it with your stylus and it takes you to further reading. They used to be called “footnotes” and “end notes.” Don’t need those anymore, either. Oh, they’re still footnotes and end notes, but they have no precise structure because it’s not necessary. The device will take you where you need to go.

2. It’s called the “find” function.

You can’t do this in a print book. There is no CTRL-F. There is no “Find.” You go to the table of contents and/or the index and if you’re lucky, that book had an excellent indexer. If you’re not, well, good luck to you then. I’m going out to get some Chinese while you look for that reference. Want anything?

Is there an e-reading device that doesn’t have a “find” function? If there is, smash it and get something else, ’cause there is no point to an e-reading device without a “find” function. Because why? Because there are no page numbers.

If the argument (with regard to reference material) is that e-reference books can’t be annotated or bibliographed or referenced, there’s a simple way around that. Organize the book in some other fashion, a la the Bible or Shakespeare. It’s been done. The system’s only been around for a few hundred years now. If it ain’t on paper, it ain’t got pages.

And if it’s inevitable, just lay back and enjoy it.

Jukeboxes and libraries

I have a bunch of beautiful books. They’re mostly in hardback because I don’t see paperbacks as objets d’art the way I do my hardback books. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I read hardbacks, certainly. If I have it, I read it. But there’s just something substantial about a hardback book. Specifically, I’m thinking of my faux leatherbound books, but no matter.

As I go around the ebook blogs like Teleread and The Book is Dead, a bunch of dissociated rememberies from my childhood plague me. They’re always the same ones, played in different order, but in a loop:

pandaradioRemembery #1.

The mp3 player was only a Wish when I was a child (think 1970s) with my little panda transistor radio barely capable of tuning in the jazz station, but playing disco just fine and dandy. Rock the boat, don’t rock the boat, baby. Rock the boat, don’t tip the boat over.

I had my Wish in my mind like a jukebox, playing all the songs I loved and none of the songs I didn’t love, all in one place, in the palm of my hand. Even as I got older, I couldn’t afford to buy albums and then, once I got a “boom box,” couldn’t afford to buy cassettes, either. I taped random songs off the radio and tried my best to come up with as clean a version as a K-Tel compilation cassette as I could. It didn’t work and my wish became a longing so intense sometimes I couldn’t bear it. Then I got a Walkman, which was a step up, but my ADD/OCD could not be happy. Why, oh why, was there no way to buy a song at a time? What would that look like? How could it be done?

My Wish: a jukebox in my hand, with all the songs I loved and none of the songs I hated, with the ability to purchase one song at a time.

Remembery #2.

Dark house post family bedtime. Flashlight. Book. Covers. You all know this routine. For my mother, it was hiding in the back of a closet. With a flashlight. And a book. Why didn’t my book come with a light? You know, something handy, that I could clip onto it? That way I didn’t have to give my flashlight a blow job every time I had to turn the page.

Remembery #3.

Jean-Luc Picard sitting in his cabin reading a hardback book. To me, this was nothing until a crew member questioned him. Wesley, maybe? I can’t remember. Too young to know what a hardback book with paper pages was. To Picard, it was an antique. To Wesley, it was a novelty.

DISCLAIMER: I didn’t watch Star Trek much. Not the original, not the Next Generation, not Voyager, or many of the spinoffs (although I actually enjoyed Deep Space 9 because everybody on that show had serious faults and weren’t a bunch of Mary Sues and Gary Stus running around knowing how to deal with every situation). This is why my remembering an STNG episode is so…exceptional. And it had to do with a book and what must have happened to books to evoke the reaction Picard’s hardback paper book evoked.

Something that could store a library in one spot? Like my dream of a jukebox in my hand. Could it be? A library in my hand?

Don’t get me wrong. At that point, I was old enough to know it could be done, but I wasn’t getting my hopes up because the jukebox in my hand hadn’t materialized yet or if it had, I didn’t know about it.

You have to know something about me that makes my need for such things a compulsion (you know, besides my mental disorders): I am an anti-packrat. I hate Stuff. I have Stuff I don’t hate, really, but if it can be condensed, packed, and stored out of sight until I need it, so I can have SPACE, I am more kindly disposed toward Stuff. (Oh, Space Bags, how I would love thee if every blanket we own weren’t in use because it’s as cold as a witch’s tit outside.) I don’t like knickknacks, either. And as I get older, the Mies van der Rohe school of architecture (mid-century modern) gets more and more attractive to me.

The only things I collect and store without driving my OCD/ADD batty is data. And mp3s. And now, ebooks.

(I like lots of art, though, so as soon as the Tax Deductions stop coloring on the walls, I’ll paint and put up my art. It’s difficult to deal with the child who writes her name on the wall and then blames her little brother, who doesn’t know how to read, much less write.)

I haven’t quite figured out how to go completely minimalist, given the life of a family and its needs for Stuff.

But the jukebox-and-library in hand is a good start.

The perfect bookstore

Hey, publishers and booksellers. Let me help you solve all your problems, ’kay? Behold the perfect bookstore:

The problems? You know exactly what they are and obviously you aren’t interested in solving them.

You booksellers have been rolling around on the back of the consignment system like it’s catnip for too long—and it’s still going to bite you in the butt.

You publishers are doing everything you can to stymie ebooks and are determined to cling to your outmoded ways. You can lay off people all you want, but you’re not actually willing to do what it takes. Never fear, though! The economy will help you with that.

Now, in a quaint little town that is a suburb of Kansas City, they have a town square surrounding the 19th-century county courthouse. In one of those slender 19th-century 2-story buildings, there is a mom’n’pop bookstore that has been there for, oh, EVER. The top floor was always for used books, the bottom floor stocked to bursting with books. Then they put in a coffee shop. Last week, we found out they were phasing out the books altogether. Now, I ask you. What is a bookstore without books? It’s not. It’s a coffee shop.

I’ve been thinking about these issues for a long time and shaking my head sadly, wondering how long it’ll take before the consignment system collapses.

Say the above drawing is the bottom floor of the aforementioned 2-story 19th-century storefront on the town square. The 2nd floor could house a coffee shop or used books or books that you wanted to order to keep in stock (and you paid for them up front on a wholesale basis) because you’re a bookseller and you love books and books are a perfectly reasonable thing to have in a bookstore.

But do you see what is going on? A way to be inventory-free, using the just-in-time inventory system that half the rest of the retail industry in the world has been using for going on 15 years now.

You, Random Reader, are a book lover. You want a book you can hold in your hands. You go to Quaint Bookstore and they do not have what you want in their meager stock. NO PROBLEM! You sit down at one of the book stations. You browse the computer catalog (probably Ingram or Baker & Taylor). You pick your book. You punch in your credit card number (tied to the store’s point-of-sale system). The order goes directly to one of the Espresso machines behind you. You wait 10 or 15 minutes (by which time you’ve probably already ordered another 3 books), and out pops your book. You are GOOD TO GO.

Or hey! Maybe you don’t want to wait the 10 to 15 minutes, so you tap into your Quaint Bookstore account from home or work or school and order the book that way. You can pick up your Espresso when you pick up your espresso on the way to or from work or school.

And say you want an e-reading device, but you don’t want to get burned. You go to Quaint Bookstore and you pick up one of their demo devices loaded up with ebooks. You sit go upstairs to get an espresso (heh) and read for a while to see if you like it. If not, go back, pick up another one, and make sure you like what you’re getting. Then you buy it and boom, healthy profit for Quaint Bookstore on an e-reading device (which will probably get the customer back to buy at least 1 print book for every 10 ebooks they read—okay, I made up that number, but still!).

Honestly, I do not know why this has to be difficult. The technology’s there, waiting—no, begging—to be used. The consumers are there and will grow as the economy cycles back up again. With one Espresso machine, Quaint Mom’n’Pop Bookstore could get rid of its book stock, but still be a bookstore.

Did I mention there is a small liberal arts college in this town, too? Can you say “bypass the college bookstore for your textbooks”? Ka-ching.

But you know, I’m not even sure this particular Quaint Mom’n’Pop Bookstore ever heard of an Espresso and probably are afraid of ebooks, and are unwilling to look past the death of the consignment system. (I should probably ask them those questions before I assume things, eh?)

I tell you, the time is (almost) right for a new breed of independent bookseller.

My way or the highway

Lately I’ve been reading a snowballing number of posts in the ebook community about adopting EPUB as the international (and pleasepleaseplease DRM-free) standard. This is great and I’m SOOO on board with that. What’s got me disturbed is that the subtext (and sometimes it’s not even that subtle) is that in order to adopt EPUB, publishers ought to ditch every other format, I assume, to force the issue of EPUB format adoption for everyone.

No fucking way!

Are you serious?

As a consumer and producer of ebooks, let me tell you, this is simple crackpot evangelism. EPUB is the future; I do not disagree and I would love to see it come into its own and beat the competition.

HOWEVER

The competition exists for a reason and that’s because there are competing machines out there. Why in the world wouldn’t a producer find and exploit every digital outlet he could while they exist?

Now, I understand it’s perfectly reasonable for a producer of analog music to give up making vinyl records and 8-track tapes when there are few enough record players and 8-track players that it makes no sense to spend the time to do so. But if there is fairly equal money in each format, it would be foolish for the producer to give up producing even one of those formats.

In short, there is no way we would give up any one of the (now) 10 digital formats we publish in unless and until all devices can and will read one format and that the majority of the users of those devices are choosing one format:

AZW (Kindle)

EPUB (any device using Stanza or Adobe Digital Editions)

HTML (a lot of devices, plus any browser)

IMP (eBookWise)

LIT (Microsoft Reader)

LRF (Sony PRS)

MOBI/PRC (any device using Mobipocket)

PDB (Palm)

PDF (any device that reads PDF), and coming soon,

iApp for the iTunes store (iPhone/iTouch)

The fact of the matter is that once you’ve formatted for one of the above, you’ve formatted for over half the rest with minor tweaks. Yeah, it takes time to make each pretty for its own device, but it’s worth it as long as people feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth.

And every single one of those formats has a serious issue or 3 that consumers don’t like. However, each consumer still has the choice of the format with the least number of annoyances for him. Giving me 1 format (or, in the case of a book I really really really wanted to buy) 4 formats that are pure hell on me isn’t going to get me to adopt those formats; it’s only going to jolt me out of my impulse buy and now that I’m not BUYING paper books anymore, I’ll get it at the library.

So, Hachette Book Group. Thanks for saving me some money, ’cause I wasn’t strong enough to withstand the temptation if it had been in a format I could use.

For future reference

Over on Teleread, there’s a new blog post today about ebooks being fertile for annotation. I envision this somewhat like a post littered with Wikipedia links to explain things so that the reading audience who doesn’t know what he’s talking about can go get a little primer, and the part of the audience that does know won’t have its reading flow interrupted.

I could have (and still could at any point in the future) litter The Proviso with references and annotations embedded in the ebook editions, but my question is this:

If you had an ebook reader (or if you HAVE an ebook reader), how do you think you’d like such a thing?

On the ebook front, nothing much to report except the iLiad just released a new thingymajig that’s not getting rave reviews. And the Kindle’s not coming out in the UK this year.

On the publishing front, The Mysterious They say that if you’re a midlister or a new author–or an agent specializing in such–y’all are just SOL ’cause the PTBs at major houses are tightening their belts (which means either the smaller houses will be, too or they’ll step in to take up the slack and make a mark).

Yeah. I don’t have that problem.

Oh, one more thing. As a reader, I have a suggestion for you e-publishers: Put the blurb of the book on the first page. That way I haven’t forgotten what the book is about when I open up my ebook reader and see titles and author names. I’m terribly forgetful and have no wish to dive into a book I don’t know what it’s about. Yeah, I downloaded it so it must have intrigued me but now I don’t know why. With my print books, I always go to the blurb to figure out what I want to read next, but obviously, there is no back-of-book on an ebook.

And by the way, we did put The Proviso‘s blurb in the front for that very reason.

Target: Sony

So, update on the Sony ereader: Not impressed.

Besides no backlight (my all-time favorite feature), the text was grainy (grainier than my eBookWise’s dot-matrix-on-best-setting text).

That is all.

Er…no, it’s not. I still want Sony to kick Kindle’s ass. I think Amazon has an end-game in mind that’s going to come back to bite consumers in the tokhes.