Another Reason For Public Library eBooks

November 29, 2008

Chicago doubling its library fines

Starting Jan. 1, the Chicago Public Library will double the daily fine for overdue library books to 20 cents instead of the current dime. If you return the book very late, you’ll face a top fine of $10 instead of $5. Lose a book and you’ll still have to pay the full replacement cost.

And:

The new fine will be in the same range as other major urban library systems. The New York Public Library charges 25 cents a day, while the fee is 30 cents in Los Angeles and 15 cents in Seattle.

eBooks borrowed from public libraries go POOF! when they expire. They check out, but never have to be checked back in.

Free reading without fines.


Penguin Books Does iPhone App

November 29, 2008

I’m not able to wrap my head around this one.

First, the posts that led me to it:

Readerville: Penguin Embraces the iPhone; Amazon Does Not?

INDEX // mb: Penguin US Launches iPhone App

Here’s some snaps from its iTunes App Store listing:



Readerville notes:

[. . .] the notion of being able to download books directly from publishers is almost mind-bending.

Well, that’s what Sony has in mind for the wireless version of its Sony Reader.

As for me, I find this app to be very strange. I really don’t know what to make of it. It’s like they’ve set up a “Penguin Books Channel” on the iPhone. Will other publishers do this too? That’d pretty much be a nightmare, having to launch separate apps for each publisher. Isn’t that what Safari Bookmarks and well-designed websites are supposed to provide?

As it is, there are now multiple eBook readers and multiple comic book readers available for the iPhone. Each app does things its own way and can — in most cases — only read files formatted for it. What Teleread‘s David Rothman justifiably calls the “Tower of eBabel” has gained a few new floors with the iPhone.


Dying Dinosaurs Of Print: CHOOSE!

November 29, 2008

Over at Kung-Fu Monkey, Leverage co-creator/producer John Rogers posted: Streaming Mac to 360: Rivet.

It’s all about how on-demand streaming video via the Net is not the future — it’s right now.

This coincidentally dovetails nicely with my recent DVD epiphany.

And there’s one paragraph that I must quote:

The tone of voice when I talk about these things tend to be a disdainful “Well, sure but how are we supposed to monetize this?” Right question, wrong tone. We. Don’t. Have. A. Choice.

Emphasis added by me.

The music industry has been usurped by technology. Now television has been too. And movies.

The one remaining industry is book publishing.

Google has already stolen all of the historical backlist.

All that’s left is recent and not yet published.

It’s as if the book publishing industry was situated on a giant iceberg — which suddenly cracked apart, leaving publishers on a precarious floe.

Over there in a big rescue ship are eBook readers screaming, “We’ll save you! Just publish eBooks quickly and at reasonable prices!!!”

On the other side are the pirates on a self-built makeshift archipelago in international waters free from all law enforcement. They don’t care what book publishers do. They have worldwide distributed teams with scanners and free proofreaders ready to “set everything free.”

And on the horizon are writers themselves in small boats trying to figure out how to best survive on their own, liberated from the constraints of ink-and-paper publishing.

Book publishing — unlike music, unlike TV, unlike movies — Still. Has. A. Choice.

Will it allow eBook readers to rescue it?


Converting Kids Print Book To eBook

November 29, 2008

It is entirely coincidental I have three posts in a row about Amazon! Unless there’s a conspiracy “in the air” against me …

Kindle-izing a Kid’s Book

Ten days ago, we took on a project to convert a kid’s book for the Amazon Kindle. This one had quite a few detailed graphics and used many different, specialized fonts to set off particular sections, highlight key pieces, and provide highly graphical chapter opening pages. Problem is, Kindle only supports one font (a Times variant).

What to do?

There’s more text and some screensnaps!


More Amazon eBook Nightmare Talk

November 29, 2008

Kindle Gossip

I think they’d be better of licensing the library. Kindle software on the iphone and the Sony Reader and the Dell Mini and the whatever with access to an ever expanding Amazon e-book library makes more sense than trying to version 2 of the ugly stick.

OK, now I’m getting worried.

I’m a big believer of things “being in the air” — that people can pick up what’s about to happen.

This is the second post speculating like this in the past few days. (I just posted: Amazon eBook Rentals?!)

Is something like this going to happen in 2009?!


Amazon eBook Rentals?!

November 29, 2008

Amazon to Sell Online Mobile Rentals??

Has the Kindle 2 release been delayed for commercial, technical or strategic reasons? Why would Amazon miss out on the Christmas season sales?

Perhaps the answer is down to a change in strategy. Perhaps the explosion of smartphone applications has fired a shot across their bow and woken them up to the fact that maybe; just maybe, the kindle isn’t and never will be sexy or cover all the bases. No matter how many Ophra endorsements are given it’s still a clunky device which will find it hard justify the consumer investment. Maybe Amazon has realized that if there is a significant mobile swing and the world goes online as opposed to offline they are in a better position than anybody to take that market, or at least go head to head with the potentially biggest ebook retailer – Google.

Let’s step back and look at potential Amazonian moves. These may be far from the reality of what happens but they could happen:

Amazon introduces a Kindle mobile application for the major mobile platforms.

Amazon promotes an online book service based on their mobi format.

Amazon smartens up the Kindle reader and make it interoperable with the online service.

Amazon offers online rentals for both kindle and mobiles.

He’s not the first to wonder about a Kindle reading app for cellphones. But he’s speculated several puzzle pieces others haven’t.

A move like this would be positively … Microsoftian.

Suddenly, the Sony Reader — and all others — would be stranded.

Words that strike fear into everyone’s hearts: Kindle eBook Reader for iPhone!


eBooks: Studying Vs. Reading

November 29, 2008

This post is from August but the Comment to it raises an important point.

Med Students: Would a College Edition of Kindle be Worth it?

From the Comment:

When I study, I usually have four or five open books in front of me with only a glance needed to go between one of the other, all marked up, with my notes as well. Studying on a Kindle just doesn’t add up to this.

That being said, I would definitely buy such a device for the times when it is really called for, i.e., a long plane flight where you might want to take a few books but don’t want to carry around 25 extra pounds, etc.

He’s right. Look at this:

the dual-display ebook reader project

It’s been a long time since I had to deal with textbooks, but that Comment brought back memories of — yep! — having more than one book open at a time.

Subliminally, perhaps that’s why I focus on eBooks for personal entertainment use. It’d really be hell to jump between multiple texts on all current eInk devices.

Of course, Study Tables would be great …




SharePoint Nick Meets eBook Pricing

November 28, 2008

Sony eBook Reader

So although there are no storage, transport, shelf or shop staff costs for ebooks, you actually have to pay more for them!!!

Ridiculous! If the ebooks were half the price of the paper books I’d buy one without thinking but while the ebook prices are this way they can *%$* off!

Will the dying dinosaurs of print keep trying to tell people their common sense personal observations are out of whack?

Hey, dying dinosaurs, these are the people who want to buy your eBooks.

Just not at the ridiculous prices you’ve been setting!

Previously here:

eBook Pricing 101: The Magic Formula
eBooks And Pricing


Writer David Hewson Meets Sony Reader

November 28, 2008

Author meets the future: how electronic is it?

[L]et’s say it out loud, reading on screen just isn’t the same.

At least not on a conventional flat screen, which the Sony very much does not have. I won’t bore you with the technology but it is nothing like the flat screen in your TV or computer monitor. This is a kind of electronic ink. A tedious fact in itself were it not for two things: it actually looks very good indeed, sharp and very much like real text. And it has no backlight so the Sony uses no power whatsoever when you are simply reading a page — only when you ‘turn’ to a new one.

How close to paper is it? Very close, particularly in bright daylight (when most electronic screens are utterly readable). The background isn’t as white a you’d expect, and you can’t see much in dark situations where a laptop would be very readable. But it’s a lot better than I expected, and I was quite happy flicking through books very quickly with it indeed.

So there’s the first lesson I learned about the Sony. You need to see it to believe it. Prejudices, for or again, really don’t count for much because this is quite unlike anything else you’ve ever encountered before.

Here’s the second big surprise: the size and feel of the thing. It’s tiny, little bigger than a paperback book, beautifully made, with a sturdy and expensive-looking satin metal shell encased in a cover that feels very like brown leather (which it isn’t). I’ve seen other book readers and they all, let’s be frank, look like calculators that have spent too long in McDonalds. The Sony isn’t plasticky, doesn’t shout ‘geek’ and feels very, very nice in the hand.

This is the first part of what promises to be several installments.


eBooks Vs. ePrint

November 28, 2008

eBooks and Digital Editions

All the Exact Editions publications already work on the iPhone, all our pages are web pages, so its not in our plans to develop a comparable solution for fungible text. We think (and more important Google Book Search thinks) that pages and page lay-out matters. This ‘conservative’ or ‘post modernist’, ‘hyper-referential’ preference comes with predilections for colour, illustrations, complex layout, paginated references and citations. All the gorgeous apparatus of print that is lost when books, magazines and newspapers are boiled down to a simple ASCII/XML stream.

And:

Hardware Standards Proliferating

The very diversity of these devices will make it impractical for publishers to create different versions of their properties for different platforms. Rather than re-format and re-package content for devices with varying interfaces and form factors, much better to offer a digital edition that can be served and used through any valid web browser. Let the browser take the strain as Apple have done so magnificently well with the new Safari on the iPhone. Safari defeats the small scale of the screen by allowing web pages and images to be squeezed and slid around within the browser.

Just when I think, “At last! ePub! A standard! We can all move forward now!”, comes Exact Editions offering another counter-argument.

I’d like to Fast Forward five or ten years from now to see what everything has settled on.