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Our arts specialists give you the lowdown on what to look forward to in 2011|Lastest Kindle News]

Our arts specialists give you the lowdown on what to look forward to in 2011
FILM SIOBHAN SYNNOT THE film forecast for 2011 may not be bright exactly, but sunny spots include the Coen Brothers' version of True Grit, Mark Wahlberg in the rousing c
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Take a look at Feedbooks for free and purchased ebooks

download.jpegFeedbooks is a great resource and now The Gadgeteer has an excellent article on how to make the best of it.

So I had this series all laid out in my mind. Start with borrowing current books, then into free books, and finally into sources for paid books. Thing is, Feedbooks has mucked it up by adding a store for selling e-books. I have been a big Feedbooks fan for years. They are a great source of public domain books formatted for your device. Once I found them, I stopped rolling my own from project Gutenberg. The site has continued to improve over the years, and now sells ADE DRM books.

So let’s take a look at this source for e-books.


Looking back at a look ahead: My e-book piracy prognostications from 2006

I was just looking back at a post I made in August of 2006—my first post here as a regular contributor, in fact. This came well before the advent of the Kindle, and was sparked off by a discussion of e-book piracy on the eBook Community email list. It’s interesting to look back on it in light of the sea change in e-book demand brought about largely by the Kindle, Nook, and (more recently) iPad.

The article was a discussion of the relative e-piracy situations between music, movies, and e-books. My thesis was that, at the time the article was written, the music and movie industries were worrying a lot more about e-piracy than the publishing industry, largely because there was relatively little demand for e-books at the time.

I looked at the philosophy of the Pirate Party, who admitted that file sharing could harm rights holders—but so could progress in general. They felt it was not their job to come up with a new business model for rights holders, but rather to make the flawed current system untenable so the rights holders would have to innovate. I also brought in some interesting survey results that showed significantly more teenagers believed it was legal to copy CDs or movies their friends paid for than ones their friends got for free.

And I compared the birth of piracy of music and movies to the state of e-book piracy. Whereas the music and movie industries immediately felt threatened by Napster and Gnutella, mp3 and DeCSS/DivX, book scans had been circulating on the Internet since well before Sean Fanning’s last haircut but—apart from certain irascible types—no one in the publishing industry seemed to feel threatened enough to take action. Why?

Because unlike e-music and e-movies, e-books currently fail to offer a compelling experience in comparison to their original format. Far fewer consumers want to read commercial e-books than printed books, let alone the “It Came from Planet Typo” scanned ASCII versions that make up the majority of peer-to-peer. Part of this is the “Tower of eBabel” that David Rothman likes to harp on, the confusing surplus of available e-book readers and file formats, but I would say a larger part is the lack of a high-resolution, high-contrast screen reading surface that is acceptable to the majority of readers. Add to this the poor quality of most illegitimate e-book scans (though they are getting better as technology improves) and you have the peer-to-peer equivalent of a “Someone Else’s Problem” field: the majority of readers barely even notice peer-to-peer e-books, because they’re just not anything they would be interested in reading.

I predicted that e-book piracy would not be seen as a major problem until we had such a “high-resolution, high-contrast” e-reader. And like magic, it was only a matter of months before the first Kindle came out. Now that we’re on the third Kindle, not to mention the iPad, we’re finally seeing that magic moment start to happen. Maybe they’re not as cheap as “a cheap transistor radio yet, but they’re already dipping below the magic three-digit divider as sales and refurbs. Given a few more years, lower prices will come, too.

And book piracy is getting a lot more attention lately. When a New York Times ethicist discussed the ethics of downloading (or, by derivation, scanning) a copy of a print book one already paid for earlier this year, you would have thought he was advocating roasting puppies. Then in October, Adrion Hon at the Telegraph was surprised to discover just how easy e-book piracy really was (whereas I was just surprised it had taken anyone so long). Echoed by Nick Harkaway on FutureBook, he warned it was going to be a big problem.

It seems to me it’s playing out just as I predicted back in 2006. E-books are finally becoming convenient and desirable for the average person, taking off among the general public—and so is e-book piracy. And so are publisher fears of e-book piracy. (And for that matter, publisher fears of e-book sales. Just look at agency pricing; I would never have predicted that in 2006.)

In the rest of the 2006 piece, I moved away from predictions and talked about the ease of scanning that promoted book piracy, and led to such things as illicit e-copies of the Harry Potter books, which the publisher refused to release legitimately “citing security concerns”, coming out literally within hours of the books’ print releases. Nobody has yet figured out a way around that particular problem; indeed, scanning has only gotten easier (especially with innovative do-it-yourself scanning rigs such as this one, this one, or this one). And someday it might be possible to scan a book with your cell phone just by riffling through the pages.

And I talked about the inverse relationship between piracy and obscurity, as remarked upon by Eric Flint, Tim O’Reilly, and others. We’ve seen a number of people trying further experiments in publicity, whether or not piracy (or legitimately free e-books) is involved—notably published authors such as Joe Konrath going over to Amazon and selling their titles directly as e-books at much lower prices and making much better royalty rates than through traditional publishers. And Baen has continued to give away freebies, and has continued to thrive even after the death of its founder. Perhaps these methods don’t rely on “piracy” for their success, but they do have a few things in common with e-books circulating for free.

It’s hard to say where we’re going to go from here, but I still stand by some of those original predictions: e-books are only going to get cheaper and easier to read from here on out, piracy is only going to get more attractive, and print publishers are going to have to figure out how they’re going to adjust.

But even then, I said that the e-book wouldn’t kill the print book in our lifetime, and I can’t see that changing. Whether the print book becomes primarily an object d’art (and presumably less attractive to people who just want cheap books now) or not, there are still enough of them around and they are still easy enough to manufacture and to read even in the most dire of circumstances that there will always be a place for them somewhere in the world.

Perhaps I’ll look again in another four years.

Update: As if by magic, right after I posted this I saw a CNet report on a campaign by New York City to raise awareness of the job costs of Internet piracy (they call it “web piracy”. God I feel old).

Most of it is about music and movies, but there’s also this bit:

"I wasn’t aware that book publishing was being affected by illegal downloading before," [New York City commissioner of media and entertainment Katherine] Oliver said. "But I now know as reading digital books becomes more popular to read on different devices, piracy is moving into publishing. I think this is an international problem and we want to raise awareness."

That’s basically a recapitulation of my entire thesis right there. (Though, as with most commentators, she seems to think that it’s a new problem because she only just noticed it.)


eReaders lined up – A look at some of the currently available ereaders out there

Some ereaders – a sort of oversight:

I felt the time has come to line up some of the various eReaders I have looked at so far in one post.  Obviously it wont be an exhaustive link as new eReaders are appearing almost weekly just now, and thus there are a heap I have yet to look at, but it is a start, and I hope will be helpful to anyone who is trying to work out which eReader is suitable for them.

So here goes….. I hope you will find this useful.

Note for music lovers out there………….

If it seems chaotic in any way, blame it on the fact that I am listening to a concert from Janis Joplin as I write this post.  I know this has nothing to do with eReaders, but I thought perhaps you might like to check out this amazing music website (www.wolfgangsvault.com).  thousands of rock, country and blues live concerts that were recorded by Bill Graham over the years at the various Filmores… and they can be listened to for free with high quality streaming audio…..  Superb site!

Back to eReaders now…….

I shall list the eReaders in no particular order, and shall restrict my comments on them to the minimum, as many of them are reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

Sony PRS-505

This is one of Sony’s earlier models, and probably hard to find now, but it is a good, basic simple eReader, minimal frills, but it works beautifully .

  • Size: 175 x 122 x 8 mm (6.9″ x 4.8″ x 0.3″)
  • Weight: 250 g (9 oz)
  • Display:
    • size: 15.5 cm (6 in) diagonal (approx 1/4 area of letter-sized page)
    • resolution: 170 dpi, 8-level gray scale
  • portrait: 90.6 x 122.4 mm (3.57″ x 4.82″), 600 x 800 pixels | effective 88.2 x 115.4 mm (3.47 x 4.54 in), 584 x 754 pixels | for the Pictures application effective resolution is 600 x 766 pixels
  • minimum font size: 6 pt legible, 7 pt recommended
  • Memory: 256 MB standard (200 MB Accessible), Sony Memory Stick Pro Duo 8 GB, SD card up to 2 GB (some non-SDHC 4GB cards may work), or up to 32 GB with SDHC cards and version 1.1 firmware
  • Lithium-ion battery, up to 6800 “page turns” per charge
  • PC interface: USB port 2.0

My review: ereader-sony-prs-505


Sony PRS 350

This is the baby of the latest Sony ereaders, a case of small but beautiful.

Gray Scale: 16-level gray scale
Resolution: 800 x 600 pixels
Screen Size: 5 inches
Technology: E Ink® Pearl
Media Formats Supported
DRM Text: ePub (Adobe DRM protected), PDF (Adobe DRM protected), BBeB Book
(PRS DRM protected), Text, RTF
Memory Size: 2GB User available capacity: Approx. 1.4GB:
Operating Conditions
Operating Temperature: 41°F to 95°F (5°C to 35°C)
AC Power: Built-in rechargeable battery: 3.7 V DC, 940 mA
Battery Life (Approx): Approx. 10,000 pages turns
Recharging Time: 3 hours with a USB connection, or about 2 hours by the optional
AC adapter (PRSA-AC1)
System Requirements
Windows or Mac.
Weights & Measurements (PAL):
Model Dimensions: 5.71×4.11×0.33 inches (H/W/D)
Model Weight: 0.7143 lbs.

Link to review here: sony-launch-their-new-ereaders-on-the-world-the-prs-350-and-prs-650-are-here/


Sony PRS 650 (daily Edition).

Here we have the middle sized new Sony, this having a 6 inch screen, but in all other aspects the same as the PRS-350.

Specifications:  PRS-650: (Daily edition)

Gray Scale: 16-level gray scale
Resolution: 800 x 600 pixels
Screen Size: 6 inches
Technology: E Ink® Pearl
Media Formats Supported
DRM Text: ePub (Adobe DRM protected), PDF (Adobe DRM protected), BBeB Boo
(PRS DRM protected), Text, RTF
Unsecured Audio: Unsecured Adudio: MP3 (Non encrypted), AAC (Non encrypted)
Unsecured Text: ePub, BBeB Book, PDF, TXT, RTF, Micrsoft® Word,
(Conversion to the Reader requires Word installed on your PC)
Memory Size: 2GB User available capacity: Approx. 1.4GB Dual Memory Card
Expansion Slots for Memory Stick Duo™ and SD Card up to 32GB.
Operating Conditions
Operating Temperature: 41°F to 95°F (5°C to 35°C)
AC Power: Built-in rechargeable battery: 3.7 V DC, 940 mA
Battery Life (Approx): 14 Days
Recharging Time: 3 hours with a USB connection, or about 2 hours by the optional
AC adapter (PRSA-AC1)
System Requirements

Windows or Mac

Weights and Measurements
Dimensions (Approx.): 6.61×4.68×0.38 inches (H/W/D)
Weight (Approx.): 7.93 oz

Link to review here: sony-launch-their-new-ereaders-on-the-world-the-prs-350-and-prs-650-are-here/


Bookeen Opus:

  • OS : Linux 2.6
  • Adobe® ePUB/PDF Reader
  • Multi-format reader
  • Bouton Retour
  • Folder support
  • USB driver

Price:  Around 250 USD

My review: bookeen-opus-ereader-review


X2 iTablet:

This device is a bit of a special case, in fact it is really a sort of Windows version of the iPad, but it is being pushed as an eReader rather than a normal Tablet, and thus I include it here for your interest.

As it isnt actually available yet, I don’t have a lot of information about it yet, but the company have issued the following specifications.

  • 2 screen sizes a 12 ” and a 10.2″, both 1024 x 768 resolution.
  • 25o GB Hard Disk
  • Built in Bluetooth, optional 3G and GSM and built in WiFi.
  • Weight: This is the killer.  it weighs in at 1.8 kilos, no small weight to cart around with you all day.
  • Operating system: It works with XP and Win 7, so no surprises there.
  • Built in 1.3 Mp Web Cam.  For some inexplicable reason they have mounted this on the back of the iTablet!   This I find a truly odd decision.
  • Price: not yet announced.
  • Available: Some time in April 2010 apparently.

My review: x2-computers-introduce-a-rather-odd-machine


Aigo EB 6031.

This is one of the increasing number of eReaders being manufactured in China just now, and seems to be a good and tough bit of engineering.

As yet, not much is known about this device as it hasn’t really appeared outside China yet, but it will!  It supports a lot of media file formats, which would suggest it is seen more as a media player than a pure eReader, which is novel.

Anyway, here are the few specs we know so far.

  • 6″ Vizplex screen
  • 2GB storage
  • TF (micro SD) card slot (8GB limit)
  • document formats: PDF, DOC, TXT, HTM, HTML, CHM
  • connectivity: USB2.0
  • speaker
  • Audio: MP3, WVM WAV
  • Price around 250 USD

My review: and-now-for-something-different-a-chinese-language-ereader


Ectaco Jetbook:

The chief point about this device is its size, it is seriously small, not to a ridiculous point, but definitely a pocket sized book.  I rather liked it when I did my review of it as it seemed to meet all reasonable needs in a straightforward eReader, not too many functions, but all the ones that are actually needed in such a device.  Well worth looking at.

  • True pocket-sized portability for thousands of eBooks
  • Support for eBook contents in Albanian, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, English, Faeroese, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Croatian, Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian and other European languages
  • Bidirectional dictionaries for certain European languages are available
  • Supports books in the new and popular .fb2 format
  • Multilingual interface options that include German
  • Pre-loaded with CIA World Factbook and a German Dictionary
  • Bookmarks and auto page turn functionality
  • Adjustable font type and size
  • Screen rotation support for both portrait & landscape modes
  • Built-in player that supports background playback
  • SD card slot
  • Internal Li-ion polymer battery
  • 7000 page turns

Price: About 180 USD

My review: ectaco-jetbook-ereader-an-interesting-versatile-and-cheap-ereader


Kindle DX:

This is the lagest device from Amazon and obviously has a whole army of functions built into it, the most interesting from our point of view is the fact that one can now download books (3G and WiFi) almost anywhere in the world for this device, not only in the USA.   A very good move on Amazon’s part.

My review: kindle-dx-wireless-reader-new-wonder-from-amazon


Asus DR 570

Asus (makers of very fine computers) have entered the eReader field with three models, the one shown to the left is actually more of a sort of tablet, as it is HUGE and has colour, the other two are pretty normal eReaders.

Apparently they are thinking of bringing out three models this year:

  • DR-570.  With a 6 inch screen…and colour!!!!
  • DR-750. With a 5.7 inch grey scale screen
  • DR-950. With a 9 inch grey scale screen.

Main features:

Apparently all three eReaders will have the following main specifications:

  • Built in memory of 4GB,
  • 1 SD slot for expanding the available memory,
  • Built in voice recognition,
  • Text to speech capability,
  • Translation between 26 languages!
  • Handwriting recognition system!
  • WiFi,
  • 3G,
  • Optional WiMAX service.
  • e-Ink touch screen,
  • Virtual keyboard,

Supported formats:

  • PDF
  • TXT
  • MP3
  • ePub
  • HTML
  • JPEG
  • GIF
  • PNG
  • BMP

Price: DR-950 will cost in the region of 490 USD.

My review: asus-join-battle-with-the-rest-new-ereaders-announced


Onyx (or if you prefer….BeBook)

Yet another eReader from China, or if you buy it from Holland, as the BeBook Neo, it is a Dutch eReader – we live in confusing times!.

Another good straightforward eReader.

Supported formats:





Webkit browser is standard

Language support:

English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Simple and Traditional Chinese, etc.

Touch screen: 6 inch Wacom touch screen.

Font sizes:

Not only does it have a number of built in font zooms, one can also magnify sections of the screen and change the contrast

Price: About 350 USD.

My review: onyx-boox-yet-another-ereader-from-china


Aztak EZ Reader:

A couple of very basic eReaders here, minimal functions other than the ones we actually need if our purpose is to do no more than read eBooks.   Good simple devices both.


Dimensions: 4.1 inch wide, 0..4 inches thick, 6 inches tall.

Available colours: Pink, Red, Black and Silver.

Weight: 6 Oz.

Text to speech.

Included accessories: Head Phones, wrist strap and carrying case

Slot for SD card

Internal memory: 512 MB

Display:  5 inch monochrome (8 grey tones) e-ink

Resolution: 800 x 600

Audio: Inbuilt speaker(s) and earphone slot.

Audio format;  MP3

eBook formats: CHM, DOC, FB2 (huh?), PDF, RTF, TXT, WOL (huh?), DJVU (also huh?), ePub, HTML

Image formats: BMP, GIF, PNG, JPEG, TIFF.

Price: Between 170 and 250 USD

My review:astak-ez-reader-a-very-interesting-range-of-ereaders/


Alex Dual screen eReader:

This is one of the growing number of eReaders that use two screens in an attempt to compete with tablets and notebooks, one screen is a regular e-ink one, the other a small LCD screen.  So far I haven’t had my hands on one of these devices, so I have no comment yet…….


Company website:  https://www.springdesign.com/us/index.action


Entourage eDGe dualbook

enTourage eDGe is a half reader, half tablet with 9.7″ e-paper and 10.1″ LCD displays. Battery life for such kind of device is six hours when using the LCD screen, or seven days when using just the ereader. The device has 4GB of internal memory with 3GB available to the use and Android OS on board. enTourage eDGe will cost 0 . [enTourage eDGe]

Dimensions: 8.25″ x 10.75″ by 1.0″ (closed)

Weight: approx. 3 lbs.

Internal Memory: 4 GB (3 GB for user)

E-reader File Formats: ePub, PDF

LCD Touchscreen Display Size: 1024 x 600 (10.1″)

E-paper Display Size: 9.7″ e-Ink®(1200 x 825), 8 shades of gray

E-paper Input: Wacom® Penabled®

Operating System: Linux with Google® Android®

Screen Rotation: 90 and 180 degrees

Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth capability

Battery Life: 16+ hours utilizing the e-reader screen / up to 6 hours running the LCD screen

Battery Type: Lithium-ion polymer

External Memory: SD card slot, 2 USB ports

Audio and Microphone Jack: 3.5 mm each. Includes internal microphone and speakers.

Audio playback: MP3, WAV, 3GPP, MP4, AAC, OGG, M4A

Video playback: 3GP, MP4, Adobe Flash Lite (H.264)

Input: Stylus input on e-paper and touchscreen. Virtual keyboard. USB keyboard (optional)


iRiver Story

This sexy device has similar to the latest models of iRiver’s players. Looks like they understood that mp3 players aren’t going to envolve in near feature but e-readers will. QWERTY keyboard under the screen, ziplock-style case, price and availability make this device quite interesting at the moment. 6-inch E-Ink screen, MP3 player, USB 2.0, a battery supporting 9,000 page turns, 2GB of internal memory and a SD slot are other things that characterize iRiver story.

  • Memory:  On board;- 2 GB!  SD card:- up to additional 32 GB!  enough to carry the entire Library of Congress around with you, but very useful for Audio Books and music.
  • Supported formats:  All MS Office formats, PDF, ePub, TXT,
  • Screen size: 6 inch (800 x 600 pixel)
  • Screen orientation:  Portrait and landscape
  • Other functions: Basic comic reader, Text memo, Voice recorder and basic organizer (not possible to synchronise this with your computer).
  • Battery endurance:  9000 page turns
  • Tints: 8 grey tones
  • Zoom (font size) 3 step.

Price: Not the cheapest eReader out there, but not unreasonable either, price is about 260 USD, depending where you buy it.


Jinke A6 / Jinke A9

Jinke has presented A6 and A9 readers with SiPix panels. 16 levels of grayscale, multi-touching, accelerometer, WiFi, 3G and supporting of usual formats (FB2, EPUB, PDF, most image formats, and MP3) are their specs. The first model is 6-inch (600 x 800) device with 2GB of storage. The A9 features a 9-inch (1024 x 768) panel, and 4GB storage. Both the A6 (5) and the A9 (0) should be available in March.

  • Onboard memory: 128 MB
  • Slot for SD/SDHC and MMC memory cards
  • Both models use e-ink displays, so easy to read in bright light.
  • WiFi support
  • USB 2.0 port
  • Both models have touch screens and the A9 has a QWERTY keyboard as well.
  • Optional support for: EV-DO, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA and 3G.  ( note to self…find out what on earth those things are…..)

Price and availability:

As yet I haven’t been able to get any details about these two rather important points, nor which formats they will support.  I just thought I would report that yet another Chinese company was hurtling into the eReader battle, which is a development that intrigues me somewhat, as the Chinese are a people noted for their good business sense, and this indicates strongly to me that they have decided that eReaders are definitely going to succeed, not only in their domestic market – which obviously is huge – but also in the outside world.  I have seen for myself how much the Chinese love reading – a visit to any bookshop anywhere in China will confirm this..   You see people of all ages and types sitting on the floor, leaning on the bookstacks with their noses deep in books that they are browsing.  A wonderful thing  to see a people who truly do love books!

[more on Jinke]

Other interesting e-readers were:

  • RCA Lexi: 6-inch (800 x 600) 16-level grayscale display, 2GB storage, and a battery life of some 7,000 page turns.  9,99.
  • Orizon by Bookeen: 6-inch touchscreen display, built-in WiFi, Bluetooth, ePub support, and an accelerometer for portrait or landscape reading. No release date yet, but the price would be about 0.


Kindle 3:

The best selling ereaders out there, amazing 3G connectivity, beautiful clear screens, easy to use, generally superb.   Pity they wont work with ePub though……


Link to my post: kindle-3-the-newest-ereader-on-the-block-amazon-produce-an-answer-to-the-ipad/

And so it goes on…and on….. and on…..

I shall do the same as this again soon, and include the Kobo, the Nooks, the Pocket book and a lot more of the ereaders that are lurking around the place just now.  In fact, it is now pretty well impossible to make a truly exhaustive list of all current ereaders,there are simply too many of them to keep up with.



Sync: A look at Sony’s “Touch Edition” eBook Reader

sony ebook:Sync: A look at Sony's "Touch Edition" eBook Reader
Sync blogger Marc Saltzman waxes about Sony's latest electronic book reader, now available in Canada.


iPad First Look: Ebook Functionality

Ipad ebook:iPad First Look: Ebook Functionality
In our first hands-on look at the iPad we set about answering questions from readers about Apple's latest device. First up, we check out the ebook reader functionality, and the new iBooks app.