Saturday, February 5, 2011

e-books are here

Oh well, I woke up to the fact that e-books are real when I was given an e-book reader at Xmas... and realized it was handier than I had assumed.

The reader is the Literati Reader and it has not been well received by reviewers, seemingly mostly because they reviewed early versions before Xmas, and presently the device has been upgraded significantly, and I have to say it is pretty nifty. I also found I liked it for ideological reasons because the main formats it supports are EPUB and ADOBE Digital Editions, aka ADOBE DRM, which are to all intents and purposes the main open formats that operate cross platforms. The proprietary formats such as Sony, Amazon Kindle, and Barnes and Noble's Nook are doing their level best to keep their users walled-in, an approach which I believe is doomed.
And, if you're in doubt about e-readers, currently, Bed Bath and Beyond has a clearance sale on this device for just $39.99, so that will be a perfect chance to experiment, and you won't lose out because the EPUB/Adobe DRM formats are universal, so you'll still be able to read them if you get another e-reader later: Further once you register on the BBB website, they'll send you one of their fantabulous 20% off coupons, so now, for $32 you have your starter e-reader, and then later, when you decide you need a fancier one you can move up to something more advanced.

Then there was the recent announcement that A Course in Miracles is now starting to appear in e-book formats, although unfortunately they started out with support only for proprietary formats, Sony, Kindle, Amazon - when it would have been easier to use the above formats, which run across all readers.

Then I found out that my publisher has taken the plunge, and came out of the gate with support for EPUB, Kindle, and Nook, with Google on the way. Here they are:

  • EPUB/Adobe DRM:
  • B&N Nook:
  • Kindle:
    So, now it is for real, the rest is the format wars all over again, though this time it won't be as much of a cliff hanger as was the Betamax/VHS battle.
And, now that I'm used to it, I'm realizing this technology is a real convenience. 

I don't have to have all these bookshelves, though I like books, and see myself keeping some but I'll become much more selective.

With my publisher I've had an ongoing argument that their whole strategy was wrong, trying to produce low quality, low cost books for a niche markets. I've argued with him for years that the cheap reader is going to go for the e-book so that the remaining buyers of physical books will want a quality edition. I am hoping to accomplish that with the upcoming 2nd edition of the book. No questions, please, with the upcoming 2nd edition I mean to say that some time in the next twenty years I'll revise the book enough to warrant a 2nd edition, but don't ask me when that will be.

Lastly, for all of you who have struggled with e-book formats, there is help in a crossplatform tool for managing e-books, Calibre e-Book Manager 

  • One thing I realized once I had the e-reader is that there were a few e-books on my PC, but I never read them, because I spent enough time at the PC already. Therefore, once I was able to take them on the bus courtesy of my e-reader, everything changed, and I suddenly read them.

  • The second major realization was that some books, such as Edward Gibbons' The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, are must-reads which you never read, even if you own them, because they are so bulky.

In short, I'm sold, and I'm convinced that e-readers have arrived, even The New York Times has noticed:
... and that's the home of "all the news that's fit to print." 

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