Simon & Shuster & the VOOK.

We talked about the Vook before. Well, it’s back. Simon & Schuster has started an online video book (VOOK) service available in formats for iPhone and Web browsers.

Okay, to recap from an article at Internetnews.com, vooks “blend text and video into ‘a seamless reading experience to advance the plot and enhance the sense of place.'” You’ll have to read the rest to understand this thing. I tried to ‘get’ it until I read the following statement by Ellie Hirschhorn, vice president and chief digital officer at Simon & Schuster: “Vook is a game-changing model for reading in the age of digital multimedia, the first viable combination of text and video that is user-friendly and that addresses today’s multitasking audience and how it absorbs information and entertainment.”

?

I kind of get it, but in all honesty it sounds very much like a movie or a video, but with parts that haven’t been filmed yet. What’s the matter with good old-fashioned eBooks, yah?

eBooks and the Future of Publishing

Thanks again to Jorgen for digging up this excellent feature in The Globe and Mail’s Technology section.

It’s an in depth piece regarding the future of publishing as seen through a digital screen. Impossible to predict, the technological advances leave us in a wide field of speculation. Interestingly, the Globe leads the story with mention of the rumored Apple Tablet. In this case, they’re predicting that the ‘mythical’ multi-function device will redefine the eBook Revolution by introducing digital books to the mainstream. Those consumers are used to having music, video, the Internet and phone service at their fingertips and will want more from the eBook Reading experience.

It’s clear that the future will be written in E Ink, yah?

A List of EPUB-Friendly eBook Readers from Adobe

I have to share this information with all current and prospective owners of eBook Readers. I was just tracking down an article about Wattpad announcing its adoption of the EPUB format when I came across this chart from Adobe. The listed devices support the cross-platform open format and PDF. (I know PDF is not an eBook format… god people get testy about that, yah?)

We’ve got, what 16 Readers from 10 different companies. I guess the writing’s on the wall for proprietary format proponents. (This means you Kindle!)

Complete adoption of the format will streamline the process for publishers and Indie authors. If you haven’t checked out an EPUB formatted eBook, dig around the Adobe site and download one of their free examples. (You’ll have to install Digital Editions, but it’s a good looking program and easy to use.) I think you’ll see why EPUB is all the rage.

A Pivotal Moment for Sony and the eBook Revolution

I have to hand it to the people at Sony. (Read their press release.) They’re charging into the eBook Revolution with their eyes wide open and market dominance in mind. After a few stumbles with outmoded attempts at DRM and proprietary formatting that were corrected with their adoption of the ePub format, they’ve gone on to embrace the flexibility and availability of the new technology by opening up their eBook offerings to the widest range of content: traditional publishers, small publishers and now independent authors.

Their press release says it all so I’ll quote right from it: “Continuing to deliver on its promise to provide customers access to the widest selection of content available, Sony today announced relationships with Author Solutions and Smashwords. Together with Sony, these companies will give independent authors and small publishers the opportunity to offer content through The eBook Store from Sony.” Read the full press release here.

This is cause for celebration, yah? and a signal for established publishers that it’s time to adopt the new business model.

Know Your Mobile

KNOW YOUR MOBILE is a really cool web site that gives the lowdown on pretty much every mobile, cell or smart phone out there. All makes and models are linked to pages with specifications, reviews, themes and downloads. It’s certainly time to give the mobile it’s due as the unsung hero of the eBook Revolution since it’s been with us from the start as an alternative to the eBook Reader.

Take a look around this impressive site, especially if you’re a mobile or smart phone fan who prefers this handheld multi-function platform for reading. (Or if you’re interested in getting into the game…it’s a great place to start your research.)

Here’s a link to their review of an iPhone App we’ve mentioned before, Wattpad.

New Alliance Joins the Fray

Arbor Books dropped a press release about Best Buy and Verizon joining forces with the new iRex DR800SG wireless reading device to tackle the exploding eBook Marketplace.

Europe’s most popular e-reader, the iRex is pricy at $399 but a worthy adversary for Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader Touch with its wireless 3G network access to Verizon, ATT&T and Sprint. Content suppliers Barnes & Noble and NewspaperDirect are offering a wide selection of newspapers to sweeten the pot.

Everyone knows the machines and the eBooks you read on them are still too expensive. But this article goes on to predict the promising price point somewhere out there in the near future: The $99 eBook Reader, yah? It will happen sooner than you think.

Astonishing Adventures Magazine – Issue 7 … Revisited

Forgive for the repeat, but tech issues kept us off the net for most of the day, so we’re running this article and interview about Astonishing Adventures Magazine again. It’s worth another view. Look around the issuu.com site, you’ll see the first six issues are available too… (J.C.)

I found an interesting online magazine while I was out cruising the web researching other ways of doing the publishing thing digitally–it can’t all be about the eBooks, can it? Anyway, this one impressed me.

Astonishing Adventures Magazine is an interactive ‘virtual’ publication uploaded to issuu.com. Issuu.com is an online clearinghouse for digital content from independent and corporate publishers. They’ve got a really bold display that utilizes Flash animation technology–very cool. (I checked and there’s a hard copy version of the magazine (Issue 7) for sale at Amazon too…) I was so impressed with the quality of the writing and artwork in this their Issue 7, that I tracked down the editor Katherine Tomlinson who kindly consented to answering a few of my questions.

1. When did Astonishing Adventures Magazine start publishing?

Our first issue came out in 2007. We’re a quarterly, so the winter issue (#8) of 2009 will be our second anniversary edition. (You won’t want to miss it. It will be a special double issue with work from novelists Brian Trent, Peter Mark May, Christine Pope and G. Wells Taylor included in the mix.) Continue reading

Audio Books Need Love too…

“By way of introduction, our friend Jorgen sent in this post to draw attention to the audio book features on various eBook Readers out there. Many thanks! J.C.

Since many ebook-reading devices can play mp3, I thought some of you would find the following links interesting.

I prefer reading to listening, but the history podcasts by Lars Brownworth in mp3 format are incredibly interesting and I would strongly recommend that you give them a try even if you are not a history buff. All the podcasts are free of charge.

Mr. Brownworth was a history teacher when he created the first set “The History of the Byzantine Empire,” but resigned in order to research and write the book published earlier this month “Lost to the West” and, yes, there is a Kindle version, but as far as I can see, nothing for the rest of us.

More recently, he has started a new series based on the Norman Centuries.

If you are a history buff, try searching Google for an example: “history podcasts.”

Jorgen’s World

eBook Format Options

What’s new about this article at the New York Times is the rather matter-of-fact tone it takes when discussing a relatively new technology. That suggests a comfort level that few expected this early in the eBook Revolution.

What also stands out is that the number of eBook formats is shrinking rapidly, with ePub (as predicted) moving quietly into the lead.

It’s an excellent article that puts the onus on the actual eBooks while grouping the machines from Kindle to Sony together with “small, low-end phones that can display just a few lines of text at a time.”

It’s all about the content, yah?

eBook Apps for iPhone

Okay, we’ve been so obsessed with the rumored Apple Tablet that we’ve quite neglected the iPhone and iPod Touch, both technological workhorses (wonders?) making their own contribution to the eBook Revolution.

Macworld Canada’s Danny Bradbury offers a list of new and upgraded free (or mostly free) APPS that will transform your handheld device into an eBook Reader.