December 5, 2008

The new technology devil - eBooks!

See the "dissertation" on TeleRead blog here on how we are again demonizing a new book technology, just like 500 years ago.

imageHistory replays itself!

Originally books were handwritten (copied) by specialized scribes, often with extreme artistry.

Then one day a new technology was "invented" - the movable type printer, which promised cheap, mass production of books that (shock! horror!) would ALL LOOK THE SAME, and were ugly. They put the scribes jobs at risk and the end of an art form loomed.

This new technology was the devil incarnate, and "real books" were under threat.

Fast forward 500 years and the same type of argument is happening with eBooks. They are "just not the same" as real paper books, and surely will never take off, much less take over?

The details of this specific argument aside, we just never seem to learn do we?

New technologies that intersect with art and culture and that break long tradition come under attack.

There is a lot of talk about the limitations of the new technology and we separate into two polarized bands, those for and those against. Those who stay on the fence are the worst, they won't even take a "position"!

Surely, if it were all limitations then it would no doubt fail on it's own - lack of- merit no, and no attack would be necessary?

In these cases we seem to fear the new technology. But surely if we look back, taking the growth of the printing press as our example in this case, the new technology has contributed hugely to society and culture.

December 3, 2008

Turn Your iPhone Into an e-Book - get romance everywhere

The adoption of the iPhone/iPod Touch as general phone, media and internet devices is known and more than covered.

It appears that they are also being adopted as devices for reading eBooks, although when based on free download numbers you never know. They do seem to indicate a lot of interest.

This can only be encouraged when mass media such as J.D. Biersdorfer over at the New Yorks Times covers the fact and the Stanza reader for them.

It seems that publishers are catching onto this quickly, and scrambling to make their content available in the Stanza and other eBook reader formats supported by iPhone eBook reading software (see also "eReader" and "Classics" covered in earlier posts on this blog).

One recent addition is "All Romance eBooks".

If you have eContent you'd like to sell and see this as an opportunity to capitalize on, then the TeleRead blog has some tips and links to help you out here.

December 2, 2008

Cafescribe - A resource for student

CafeScribe state on their web-site that:

CaféScribe is all about helping students save money and get better grades. Our digital textbooks and free MyScribe reader take you where traditional printed media can't. Think of us as textbooks 2.0.
Thus they seems a good resource for students looking for eTexts and a good follow-on to my previous post on the economics of buying your text books in electronic book format for using with the Amazon Kindle.

Now, off on a personal rant....
Stop talking about saving trees for goodness sake!
Trees used for paper making (as opposed to hardwoods in the Amazon - a different Amazon! - Rain forest) are a crop, just like rice or wheat. They get planted, they grow, get taken care of (thinning etc) and then get harvested and used. The land is allowed to rest, remains are ploughed under, it gets planted and the cycle starts again.

Permanent cutting of trees and deforestation is a different problem, and not caused by people reading books on paper for Pete's sake.

The issue about using paper books is mainly about energy usage, and hence CO2 and other pollutants production, in their production and distribution. Some energy can actually be regained from them (through burning in thermal power plants). Water usage could be a problem, but is not usually in the regions where paper manufacture takes place, where water is abundant.

I will make sure to post some future posts expanding on this subject, including some links to serious studies on the subject. These studies are complex and depend a lot on the assumptions made for the analysis. Examples would be:-
  • How many people may use a paper book through re-sale over it's entire life?
  • Where are the printed materials produced, how far to ship them to point of use, and by what transport means.
  • Do you read in daylight, lighting that would be on anyway, or have a reading light?
  • Did you buy a computer or eBook reader JUST to read a given set of contact instead of on paper?
  • How long do you leave your device on for beyond the time needed for reading, and how much energy is used in that time?
  • How much energy is wasted by your computer when it is OFF, by the power brick?
  • Can your computer/device be recycled when out of date? How much energy used to recycle that material? Does it have heavy metals that will leech out?
  • etc etc etc.
Don't listen to simplistic "save more trees by buying eBook" arguments by electronic vendor's who's ONLY business is in selling you that device. Inform yourself, and consider your overall energy use and production of pollutants.

December 1, 2008

Direct download your Stanza eBooks to your Apple iPhone or iPod Touch

Over here at TeleRead forums they explore the direct download of eBook content to the iPhone or iPod touch for the Stanza eBook reading software.

I've commented on the Stanza eBook reading software for iPhone/iPod Touch previously in these posts:-
The news is though that now you can download content to read directly to the device, from the device, from the BooksOnBoard web at least when downloadign non-DRM-ed epub formatted content.

If there are any readers who have done that, then please share your experiences by submitting a comment to this post.

Cyber Monday Nintendo DS - yet another eBook platform in the making?

TeleRead blog has a veritable splurge of news and rumor or speculation on the Nintendo DS (Lite) as a possible eBook reading platform. Here are the main links if you want to read more:-
The DS does have great little screens (note: small!) and a great battery life, touch/stylus screen for page turning and annotation. It can already be used for eBook reading with non-Nintendo expansion cards, micro-SD adapters and cracked firmware and games. Will a official Nintendo push make a difference? Probably.

Note how the DS when showing Japanese eBook content (here) is portrait two-page "book-like" device!

With all the recent news and growth in use of Apple iPhone and iPod Touch as a reading platform, and some previous efforts for Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) are we seeing eBook reading becoming a "functionality" of virtually all computing and consumer electronic devices?

If so, is there a space for a dedicated, or at least optimized, device for reading eBooks - with a specialized display (E-Ink and the like), optimized battery life, and ergonomics optimal for handheld reading in multiple places and while on-the-go?

Off course if technology developments produce displays and devices that don't need to make those trade-off decisions ("Multi-media or eBooks?) then we'll probably see devices with all of these functions.

Amazon is offering a special Cyber-Monday price of just $99 for the Nintendo DS here. See Engadget coverage here. That's a great price! If you consider it a valid eBook reading device then it's the cheapest around I think.

Your thoughts welcome, post a comment.