Want an ebook reader but can’t stomach the prices either for the devices, the data plans, or the ebooks?

Get an eBookWise.


See, we all know the biggest objection to all the other devices on the market: Too expensive for a one-trick pony that you’re not even sure you like the trick anyway.

There are the lesser-known problems (until you encounter them): Kindle (could get your library taken away from you, and what if you really don’t like reading on an eInk device?). Nook (apparently shittastic all the way around—if the device can’t read EPUB, it’s an epic fail, trust me). Sony (I’ve heard various and sundry objections to this, so I’ll let you do the googling).

Then there are the people who are waiting on technology to work itself out before they pop for any device, and some of these people are waiting on the iTablet or MSCourier. They still might like to have an ebook reader, but can’t stomach the cost:limitation ratio of any current devices, so they’ll wait until technology catches up to their needs.

Now, it is true that LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of people read ebooks on their BlackBerry et al and iPhone/iTouch. It’s my opinion most people don’t want a one-trick pony device. They want a multifunction device. Why? Because *I* want a multifunction device and EVERYBODY is like me, right?

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But…since I’m a cheap bitch and don’t want to fork over for the dataplan for a smartphone, I have a one-trick pony device, and you know what? I love my one-trick pony device. Mike Cane mocks me for it, but the more devices I see rumored, debuted, trashed, complained about, the more I fall in love with my little workhorse. Worse! He sees ebooks (currently) as little more than tarted-up text files (which is true).

So you know what’s so lovely about my little workhorse? It’s $90. That’s right. Know what you give up for that $90? You have to spend a little time learning A) which formats to buy for it and B) perform a few software gymnastics to get it on the device. I mean, for little more than a tarted-up text file, it’s absolutely the most perfect device ever, especially for the price.

Want a starter ebook reader that is ergonomically divine? Backlit so you can snuggle under the covers in the dark and read while staying all warm and toasty? That you can eat and read at the same time? That has a bunch of the same bells and whistles all the expensive devices do, like highlighting, notetaking, mp3 capability (audiobooks), search, long battery life, and the ability to put your own documents on it.

Get the eBookWise.


I don’t care how sophisticated it’s not. It’s a dream.

I have no connection to this company other than I love its product. I very rarely get so excited about a product and if I do, I very rarely maintain that excitement because eventually its flaws will make me pissy. I’ve had my eBookWise going on 2 years now and I love it more now than I ever did.

I swear, until such a time as A) the iTablet/MSCourier actually appears and B) ebooks cease to be little more than tarted-up text files, I see absolutely no reason to pop for anything else. I’m not anti early adopter. I’m anti early adopter of very expensive but ultimately deficient products in the very thing they are created to do.

And yes, I still have and love my Asus Eee PC, but um…it kinda sorta got appropriated by Hero, which is perfectly okay.

UPDATE: Mike Cane’s mockery continues.

mc-tweetHe sent me to this picture:


The eBookWise is the one on the far right. It is a blimp, isn’t it? That is exactly why my hands love me for using it instead of anything else (including print). It’s also why it can stand up on the table, propped against a drinking glass, to enable me to read while I’m eating.

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?)


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.

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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.

A cautionary tale for authors and agents

You know, I shove a tanto in my gut and bleed all over the interwebz about my issues with embedded font evangelism in the name of book designer job security, then I get over it and I think I’m done.

Well, Penguin Books has reminded me this morning that not only am I not done, I’m now pissed off as a reader and not as a writer/publisher/e-book mark-up-er, except . . . this is really not about Teh Pretteh. It’s about DRM. I’m fighting the wrong battle. The book designers can go figure out their own lives. I’m a reader first, dammit.

Way back in the day (six months ago), Penguin offered the novella “You Can Count on Me” by Roxanne St. Clair as a free PDF download you could snag from Ms. St. Clair’s site. (It’s not there anymore.) It was part of a Christmas anthology called I’ll Be Home For Christmas and features characters from her long-running series called The Bullet Catchers. I believe there are currently three books in this series, with probably more to come.

Now, I don’t like romantic suspense and I don’t like anthologies and I don’t like Christmas romance novellas, but this looked like a good way to ease me into a romantic suspense series that already had me intrigued.

And it was free. No question.

Yet I forgot the cardinal rule of life: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

Dear Penguin:

You suck. And not in the good, hot, naughty kind of way.

The novella is 97 PDF pages long, but it’s 5.25 MB. Why? BECAUSE IT’S A SCAN WITH A BIG FAT KANGAROO WATERMARK ON EACH PAGE.

To give you an idea of how big this is, my 736-page doorstopper’s PDF
is 7 MB. 736 pages >97 pages.

I converted this novella before I realized it was a scan. Easy enough. PDF–>RTF–>IMP.

Except it wouldn’t load onto my eBookWise. WHY WHY WHY? Well, because it’s just too big. The IMP file is 68 MB.

To sum up: Not only am I NOT going to read this free PDF (because I don’t read books on my computer), I’m also going to dump it from my computer (which I never do because even the bad books still belong to me) because it’s a space hog and severely cramps my Vostro’s innards when it tries to open the damned file, and I’m going to remember Ms. St. Clair (poor dear, I know it’s not her fault) for this and only this.

You cost me a lot of time with your chastity-belted freebie, time I could’ve used to make money to buy the anthology the novella came from and buy more of Ms. St. Clair’s work if I liked the novella.

Perhaps authors and agents negotiating contracts with you would do well to remember that your DRM process never gave me a chance to get hooked off your free hit.



Update @8:38 p.m. It was just pointed out to me that the PDF file didn’t actually have any DRM on it. It was just a wildly bloated scanned-and-watermarked PDF. The effect, however, is the same: Make it as difficult as possible for the consumer to read the book. Every time I open the PDF, whatever else is in those graphics (it’s a scan, remember), it nearly crashes my computer.

One could argue that this is where book design and fear of piracy converge to create a virtually (heh) unusable product.

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.


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.