Astak eBook Reader

September 27, 2008

MobileRead has the press release: Astak’s press release for the EZ Reader

Astak has an old description of three models of eBook readers here.

One bit of the press release I can’t allow to go unscathed:

This unit has been a total of 8 years in development. Our band of eBook Reader bashers tried hard to get this to “hang up” or show a glitch. and it is as error-free and solid as you will find!

Emphasis added by me.

Uh, say what? Eight years?

Sony did its original eBook reader, the Librie, in 2004:

The LIBRIe reader is the result of a three-year collaboration between Sony, Royal Philips Electronics, Toppan Printing and E Ink.

Emphasis added by me.

That would put the Librie in 2001 for a development start.

Yet Astak (who?) claims it began in 2000?

Friday eBook Notes

September 27, 2008

Pirate Bay Co-Founder Plotting E-Book Plunder?

Peter Sunde, one of the founders of Pirate Bay, wrote a mysterious blog post today asking for someone in the U.S. to send him an Amazon Kindle, and hinted that he might be working on a new project involving e-books.

“Do [sic] anyone wanna help me out? I’m looking to make an interesting service together with some friends in the New Media Market…,” he writes.

Cracking Kindle eBook DRM and putting all those titles up for free? That gives me the creeps. Writers don’t need organized robbery. The current disorganized robbery is already too much.

Waterstone’s e-book bestsellers — too expensive!

Waterstone’s e-book store is a good reason not to get a Sony Reader

Let me be very clear from the outset: I’d love a Sony Reader. I’ve read the reviews, I know the limitations, I know I’d miss the feel of a physical copy of the book and the logical part of my brain tells me that it’s probably best to wait at least a year before buying an e-reader. But I love gadgets and I love books so I’d be very tempted to buy one, at least I would if Sony would make them work with a Mac.

That incompatibility rules me out of the market but even if it didn’t, the Waterstone’s e-book store would put me off. If I had to describe it in a word I’d go for ‘rubbish’. But I don’t have to describe it in just one word so let’s also throw in over-priced, under-stocked and virtually impossible to navigate.

Emphasis added by me.

The first bit — Mac OS X compatibility — is something I hope Sony will address in less than a week.

The second bit — Waterstone’s ebook store — is what I said earlier.

Ebooks offer VAT but not value

It was The Enchantress of Florence that got me started. Perhaps it wasn’t good enough for Michael Portillo, but I’ve always been a fan of Sir Salman (though I preferred the earlier, funny ones). I was just about to add it to my new Sony Reader when I noticed the price: £15.19. That’s just a snip off the full price of the hardback, which is widely available for around a tenner.

Most publishers are pricing their ebooks in parallel with the print editions, which means The Enchantress ebook is due to swoop down to around £7 sometime in January to coincide with the paperback edition. Looks like Rushdie’s off my Christmas list.

Publishers say that making ebook editions cheaper could cut into hardback sales – though with only a few thousand machines out there, it’s hard to see how. They also say that the commercial potential of the paperless read is hampered by the fact that unlike their dead-tree ancestors, ebooks – as with audiobooks – are vatted at 17.5%. It seems that those visionary souls who made an exemption for printed matter back in 1972 weren’t quite as visionary as all that.

Emphasis added by me.

Your eBook pricing tutorials, dying dinosaurs of print, previously published herein: eBooks And Pricing and eBook Pricing 101: The Magic Formula

How many many many times must this message be delivered?

The Word On:..Sony’s E-Reader

There are three opinions, but this one is a good idea that should be repeated:

I think I’d also throw a few quid in the direction of Project Gutenberg and provide a Sony Reader-friendly version of every single thing in their vast collection. And I’d make it easy to pop 500 classic novels on to the Reader for those just-in-case moments.

Emphasis added by me.

Yeah, Sony! That’s a great, great idea!

Could the BeBook beat the Sony Reader? Time will tell

[It plays] a ridiculous amount of formats. At last count it was compatible with 25, including pdf, mobi, prc, epub, lit, txt, fb2, doc, html, rtf, djvu, wol, ppt, mbp, chm, bmp, jpg, png, gif, tif, rar, zip, and mp3.

Ummmm … some of those are actually graphic files. And it won’t do the PDF text reflow of the Sony Reader.

Bibliotheek biedt e-books gratis aan
Library offers e-books for free — Google machine English link

AMSTERDAM – In an Internet e-book or download luisterboek often costs between 10 and 30 euros, but for members of the library is a new option: free loan.

The library Almere begins today with a test called ePortal. Through this system, subscribers can log in from home on a website, where 250 e-books and 250 listening books are free to download. Who borrows a title, the file on his MP3 player, a laptop or on a special e-book reader.

Just as with paper books usually the case, the loan period is three weeks. If the loan period expires, the downloaded file automatically unusable. Never a penalty for late back then.

“We are making use of a so-called digital rights management system from America,” says Maarten Tiebout, who developed the ePortal for NBD / Biblion, a company that delivers products to libraries. “There is a complex technology needed to ensure that the files not be copied, and that after a few weeks become unusable.”

No mention is made of what format the text eBooks are in. DRMed MobiPocket? DRMed PDF? DRMed ePub?

Sony Reader volgend jaar in ons land
Sony Reader next year in our country — Google machine English

The Reader came in 2006 for the first time in the United States. Since then, there is a new version of published and is also in Britain and soon in France for sale. The Netherlands will therefore follow.

According to the spokesman the device will be launched large-scale, after the success overseas. Information about the price has not yet been released.

Whoa! Sony Reader to conquer The Netherlands next year!

Red Sony Reader: REAL Pictures!

September 24, 2008

A kind soul who wishes to remain uncredited sent me three real pictures of the red Sony Reader!

Click to make big!

OK, now is it tempt-o-liciously gorgeous and lustitastically irresistible?


Previously here:

FIRST PHOTOS! Red Sony Reader!!

Print Book Publishers: eBook Enlightenment

September 23, 2008

Shoyoroku – Case 86: Rinzai’s Great Enlightenment

Rinzai asked Obaku, “What is the great meaning of the Buddha-Dharma?”

Obaku hit him. This happened three times. Rinzai then took his leave and went to see Daigu.

Daigu asked, “Where have you come from?”

Rinzai said, “From Obaku.”

Daigu said, “What did Obaku have to say?”

Rinzai said, “I asked him three times, ‘What is the great meaning of the Buddha-Dharma?’ and I got his stick three times. I don’t know if I was in error or not.”

Daigu said, “Obaku was overly gentle like an old grandmother; he completely exhausted himself for your sake. Yet you come here and ask if you were in error or not!”

With these words, Rinzai came to great enlightenment.

Emphasis added by me.

Previously here:

Charlie Stross: eBooks Nailed, Period
Mitch Ratcliffe: eBooks
eBook Pricing 101: The Magic Formula
How Print Publishers Are Killing Writers
Print Book Publishing: DOOMED
DRM = Destroy Remaining Market
Laugh Today, Die Tomorrow, Print Dinosaurs!
eBooks And Pricing
The Print Dinosaurs Will Starve To Death

MacArthur Grant’s Missing eBook Man

September 23, 2008

Via Twitter from kottke:

MacArthur Fellows Program: Meet the 2008 Fellows

Commonly known as The MacArthur Genius Grant.

It’s criminal that David Rothman of TeleRead hasn’t been nominated and granted. He’s been banging the drum for eBooks, a standard global eBook file, and government/consumer eBook advocacy for years and years. TeleRead was the first eBook site I encountered on the Net and I’ve stayed with it since.

There’s not another person on the Net who has thought and about promoted the eBook cause like Rothman.

He should get a grant!

Intriguing Feedbooks Q&A

September 23, 2008

Q&A with Hadrien Gardeur, Co-Founder of Feedbooks

Have established book publishers used your service to create ebook editions?

No, we’re still working on those features. I expect major publishers to use XML+XSLT or Adobe InDesign rather than a dedicated service. We’re creating our publishing feature with the end-user or small publishers in mind rather than major publishers.

Do you plan to sell ebooks?

We do. I believe that free content and user-generated content in general shouldn’t be in a different environment than the rest of ebooks. It makes a lot more sense to have both in the same environment and create an optimal experience for the user.

Emphasis added by me.

This is exciting news.

There’s still no inexpensive and easy way for writers to create an eBook file for the ePub format other than the very expensive and expert design tool, Adobe InDesign. This is a speedbump on the road to the liberation of writers via direct publishing.

I had no idea that Feedbooks had a commercial endeavor planned. They have established a mindshare among eBook readers and have been embraced by iPhone and iPod Touch users via the Stanza eBook reader.

They could become a linchpin of direct publishing.

Charlie Stross: eBooks Nailed, Period

September 22, 2008

Writer Jules Jones in the Comments pointed me to this very interesting post by writer Charlie Stross: Why the commercial ebook market is broken.

I had two reactions:

1) Yes, yes, yes!!!!

2) Why do I bother even writing about the subject any more? It’s already been said by others!

But, I’ll continue to bang my sometimes foul-worded gavel because as someone once pointed out (paraphrased):

It all has to be said again and again because no one listens the first time!

Like me, those non-listeners might have missed Stross’s 2007 post. So maybe they’ll encounter one of mine. And go on to read more posts here and finally, Bingo!, be led to Stross.

And then, finally, to doing the right thing for eBooks.

Mitch Ratcliffe: eBooks

September 22, 2008

eBooks: The first step of a long change

However, we are at precisely the same stage in the digital book reader device market as when Audible saw the first challengers to its portable digital audio player emerge, in 1998. Music had not changed—that is, it hadn’t been unbundled from the concept of an “album”—and did not change until the iPod appeared.

I don’t want to wait ten years.

This market evolution needs some speedup, dammit.

More than 30 formats vie for adoption by device and eBook software developers, authors, publishers and, most importantly, readers. You cannot buy an eBook and expect it to work on a particular device, unless you buy it through the developer of your reader. This means we have a bunch of sites trying to be iTunes, the provider of titles and the interface for reading, rather than a lot of standards-based titles competing for the reader’s attention, which is analogous to the MP3-based music market that has shattered the music business.

I’ll take his word on the thirty, but I think most people are immediately familiar with these formats:

1) PDF
2) eReader
3) MobiPocket
4) Sony Reader BBeB
5) Kindle format (bastardized MobiPocket)
6) ePub
7) DRMed ePub (Adobe bastardized ePub)

(Note that only the Sony Reader can do more than one file format: PDF, BBeB, ePub, DRMed ePub. And when I cite PDF, I mean text reflow PDF.) (And that list isn’t supposed to be in any order, but subconsciously probably is, based on my perception of their current popularity. Although 6 & 7 should really be swapped then. And I don’t count TXT or Palm DOC because of lack of type attributes [bold, italic, etc].)

The market needs a robust standard format, which the ePub format appears poised to deliver, especially when the DTBook XML vocabulary is implemented to preserve page location in a form that can be used to cite page and edition for a highlight, note or copied text.

This is the first time I’ve heard of the DTBook XML vocabulary. As a writer who wants to be able to easily create his own eBooks, I bang my head on my desk over yet another complexification. Just Make It Work!

To date, the format wars in eBooks have undermined the most important feature of a paper book, the ability to point to a part of the text on a certain page of a specific edition, which is the basis of academic and professional citation, which is the key to dialogue taking place through books. Without support for citations without losing one’s location because the reader software/device has reflowed the text for a particular device, eBooks are less than paper books. That’s the biggest barrier to wider use today, because even authors cannot use electronic versions to refer to another work.

I understand that point, but can we first get fiction going, then worry about non-fiction citations later?

It’s a very good article — aside from not acknowledging the popularity of the Sony Reader — and should be read by everyone interested in eBooks. It looks like he intends to do some kind of series.

A (Free!) Clue For Sony

September 21, 2008

Macintosh owners are doing that.

Macintosh owners!

The people who are supposed to be enthralled with the iPhone and iPod Touch as eBook devices.

Yet they are still interested in the Sony Reader!


When will someone over at Sony get it?!!?

Sony Reader Revolution: FAIL!

September 21, 2008

I had to know, so I went to that Borders I mentioned yesterday to see the Sony Reader Revolution campaign in real-life action.

According to Sony’s own site, these were supposed to be today’s hours for the Revolution:

I got there at about 4:15PM. I got there within an hour of departing for it because I spent carfare to take the bus and subway. OK? I. Spent. Money. I didn’t walk (which, aside from the ferry in-between, I’d sometimes do).

I went in and looked around, not wanting to ask where these exciting eBook festivities were taking place.

Nothing on the Ground Floor.

I go up to the Second Floor.

Nothing there.


So I break down and ask.

I’m told the Sony Reader area is next to the “first information booth” — back on the Ground Floor.

Get this: I walked right by it on my way to the Second Floor!

That gives you an idea of the FAIL! of this alleged Revolution.

Sony, I don’t know if you hired a temp or if Borders was supposed to task someone to pimp the Sony Reader, but there was no one.

N.o. o.n.e!

What there was, was this sad-assed kiosk that — I repeat — I walked right by while I was looking for it!

Here is the sad sad sad evidence from the Philips crapcam:

The forlorn easy-to-miss kiosk.

How forlorn? Just one accessory on it! One!

See the Revolutionaries? I sure didn’t!!

Very craptastic: even the skirting was put on lousy!!

But I did walk away with some cheap swag:

Borders pamphlet, actual-size Sony Reader brochure, actual-size jetBook eReader card

Oh, that jetBook card got in there because after Borders, I stopped in J&R. Where I was ejected for spraying drool all over the counter protecting the red Sony Reader!! (Half true. I fled after spraying!)

Look! You can see it says Borders. Shame!!

Other side of the FAIL brochure.

And the FAIL is even compounded!

The Borders brochure gives you a code as a Thank You for submitting to a demo. It allows you to download ten free classics eBooks! But get this: Because some retard at Sony spackled frikkin DRM on those public domain works, you must sign up for a Sony eBook Store account and give them your credit card number in order to get these “free” classics!


Sony, when will you get a frikkin clue?!

Look, hire a goddammed temp. Have him/her do up your own versions of these classics so you can get rid of the damned DRM. Then at least people can really, really get them for free.

Expecting people to jump through confiscatory hoops for free is just Major Dumb.

In fact, let me go further: You’re outright lying. They’re not free. They’re “free in exchange for” — which, hello McFly!, is the definition of a sale!

You’re not getting money, but you’re getting something.

And that’s a transaction.

Christ, Sony, when will you guys stop pissing me off?

Will that happen on October 2nd? I hope so!