Smartphone learns to Read

Palm Pre

Palm Pre

Rumor has it that in an effort to stay relevant Palm’s Pre is being reissued with onboard apps, games and eBook software. Its broader hardware profile that people love is being tested for mulitformat reading.

Palm is reeling from an $80 million loss last quarter and plans to jump back into the fray with a refit for the webOS operating system that will including the reading software.

Makes sense to me. We’re still waiting for similar surprises from Blackberry.

Cybook available from Bookeen

Okay. I had no idea! They’re coming out of the woodwork now.

Cybook New Edition is available from Bookeen. It uses e-ink, has 512 MB internal memory storage. For full product specifications, images and price just click here here.

It will cost you $350 dollars for Cybook Model: CYBGEN310BS – non-deluxe model. Still too much for wide adoption, but the growing competition will begin to force the price down. Yah!



They offer a battery guaranteed for 8,000 page flips–roughly 80 pages per day. Also say that Cybook e-ink display does not consume power as long as it displays the same page. Others make the same claim, so we’ll find out if it’s a myth one day.

Read full hardware specifications here:

You can find a detailed list of software specifications here. Cybook will read mobipocket PRC, Palm Doc, html, txt and pdf.

And this is really the tip of the iceberg. eReaders have been put on the top five things you “must have” in 2009. Can you believe it? It’s an Invasion!

The jetBook from Ectaco.

The jetBook is a charming little machine from Ectaco.

These guys suggest the jetBook is the newest generation of handhelds and is an example of eBooks finally coming of age. While I think it’s still a little early to call that one, it is a sharp looking device.

jetBook eBook Reader

jetBook Reader

First of all, the price is similar at $299.00 and is in the range of most devices on the market. Still pricey, though I have to say I do like the available color/shades and its got fun, stylish lines.

Mac and Windows-based PC compliant, the jetBook e-Book Reader supports .txt, .pdf and .jpg file formats. The jetBook also supports books in the new and popular Linux-based .fb2 format. Click here for an overview  or here to visit the fb2 site.

It comes with translating dictionaries installed, which I think is a cool development. I mean, what’s next? That little whirring do-hickey that Dr. McCoy used to check your blood alcohol level?

With USB hookup for eBook file transfer, and 112MB internal memory expandable to 2GB SD card for “thousands more books” the jetBook looks like it answers most of the questions I’ve ever had about eBooks Readers.

They boast its high contrast TFT (5-INCH VGA MONOCHROME REFLECTIVE-TYPE TFT LCD) display runs at a much faster refresh rate than screens using e-ink. They also provide a fairly detailed comparison chart between the jetBook, Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle right here. (I’d like to see more of this, yah? Especially if these Readers are taking so long to get into the shops for us to play with… (I’m telling you guys, these things sell themselves!)

There doesn’t appear to be any exclusive jetBook eBook library deal you have to make with Ectaco (ala Kindle or Sony) and they say they’ve got 500,000 titles that are available for FREE. Either they’ve discovered the Library at Alexandria or they’ve got some complicated copyright deals going on–perhaps through an offshore account. That remains to be investigated, but they claim all titles are free.

They’ve built an Mp3 player in for audio files, etc. and I’m starting to think that this is the fly in the ointment for eBook Reader designers. How much do we want an eBook Reader to do? Do we want it to receive email, telephone calls and play video too? They’re trying to invent the next iPod, and that’s tough. Especially when you know the winning design will become the standard–and make someone millions of dollars.

And you can see why it’s a tough job. When you consider that with the onset of new devices on the market, iPods, phones, cameras, etc. we’ll soon need a utility belt like Batman’s to lug the gear around. Likewise, if they’re going to keep loading up the individual devices with crossover functions, i.e. it’s a phone, music player, camera and moustache trimmer, we’re going to need advanced degrees in engineering to operate the damn things.

It’s an exciting time in eBook development, yah!

Adobe eBook Reader on the way?

Acrobat Tablet? Adobe is making it’s own reader. Mark S. informed us that eBook Reader designers are not in a hurry to make their readers PDF compatible because Adobe is quietly partnering with Apple on a wide-format “tablet” device designed to do just that. Industry insiders say Apple is coming up the middle capitalizing on Adobe’s net cred and the eBook interest encouraged by the still pricey Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle. Such a partnering would dominate.

Holy Free eBooks!

I can’t believe my luck ! Googling around, looking for content to offer Ebook Rumor visitors to read on their new eReaders and I found this.

Go to Free Online Novels hosted by Jennifer L. Armstrong. She’s posted an impressive list of free online novels by an incredible variety of authors.

She’s also written an armload of novels you’ll be able to test drive as free download or to purchase as paperbacks.

This is a treasure trove of free e-Books, yah? Looks like a fair bit of promotional Author-direct material free as PDF files available from various author sites or through Others are available for reading as html–or as serial blog entries. A few audio books too. Wow…

Just passing this along. I’m slowly wading into it myself and I’ve already bookmarked a couple to peruse.

iLiad – Haven’t we met somewhere before?

iLiad from iRex Technologies
They call its display “Stunningly, Paper-like,” I call it “Stunningly Kindle-like…” I’m kind of kidding, but come on. They’ve got to let us know when this machine was developed. It looks like one of you guys was looking over someone’s shoulder. Having said that, it is a nice looking machine. I’ve heard its related to Kindle but only through marriage. Ok, seriously, I’ve got to let this go but for $599.00 maybe I want a bit of originality…

The iLiad is a comfortable looking piece of tech with an 8.1-inch display using electronic paper technology. You can read its specs at home base here.

Stunningly Paper-like

Stunningly Paper-like

They make the claim that their high constrast, hi-resolution display reduces eyestrain when reading but that remains to be seen.

With an internal memory expandable up to 8 GB you can keep your entire library of eBooks on it, with a storage capacity for up to 10,000 eBooks. (At $9.99 per eBook…don’t let your iLiad out of your sight.)

It connects to your PC by USB cable. That’s something I like because you’re not dependent on Whispernet or wireless technology to get your eBooks. I don’t have a problem with wireless tech, but eReaders should have a USB or memory card option.

Regarding the actual eBooks, it looks like they’ve got a deal worked out with right down to using eBooks in their format. “The Mobipocket Reader software works seamlessly with the iLiad.”

Mobipocket’s software also lets you convert from other formats so that’s an excellent feature. (Don’t worry, I’ll be paying a little visit to Mobipocket for eBook price check, etc.)

The iLiad supports the following eBook formats: PDF, PRC (Mobipocket), HTML and TXT. They’re promising support for additional eBook formats in the near future.

The machine itself looks cool. I would love to play with that “intuitive” flip bar for turning pages. That sounds right, but again we’ll need to play with it to know.

I wish these companies would start sending out their eReaders for us to play with. It all “looks” fine until you get it in your hands. I know they’ll be handing these things to focus groups but there’s nothing like the public to field test a device for positives and negative.

We’ve all seen it work with digital cameras. Once those started showing up at parties and on vacations, people started playing with them and everybody had to have one…

The fact that I’ve only seen a couple eReaders in the ‘real’ world shows how new the technology is–or the early adopters are being protective. Pictures alone won’t do it. I saw the Sony eReader sell itself to five people when they got their sweaty little hands on it. Everyone who touched the device did not perceive themselves as eBook readers before they saw it, and everyone of them felt they could be an eBook reader after they’d handled it.

It’s as simple as that.

More Free eBooks

It’s worth visiting, especially if you’re curious about author-direct releases or you’re building up an eLibrary of your own. The PDF eBooks I downloaded are clean, simple layouts. “Download unlimited eBooks for FREE – anytime! Welcome to Find the help you need, the information you seek, or fun reading to enjoy.”

Looks like they’ve got a backlist of public domain works submitted from various sources, old classics, i.e. Carmilla, and various author-direct releases. Yah. Also a variety of advertorial and how-to books…

An Interesting Truth at the Ebook Online Store

They answer to or the syntactically challenged: The Ebook Online Store – download ebooks for $10 and less.

This is their reason for being: “More eBooks — more DISCOUNTS! Every eBook costs $10.00. The more you buy, the more discounts you earn. 2 Ebooks cost $19, 3 Ebooks cost $28, 4 Ebooks – $36, 5 Ebooks – $44, 6 – $51, 7 – $58, 8 – $65… 30 eBooks – $199…These are updated every few weeks.” They offer fiction, comic books and technical manuals.

Does anybody buy eBooks that way? Uh, I just wanted one maybe two eBooks because I’ve come all the way down here, I might buy three; but I see that if I buy 30 titles for $199.00, then I’ll drop the individual price to $6.63 per book.  Excellent deal, yah? Now, what 30 titles do I need…

It’s a twist on an old sales model. You pay less because you want more. (That usually applies to multiples of the same item, doesn’t it?) I’m not sure how they justify the discount.

There might be some incentive from the consumer side if it took more than the click of a mouse to visit the online store, if there was some bother to get there, fight through crowds and if getting home required putting the kids in the van and driving through traffic.

And from the store’s point of view individual eBooks take up very little space on a server which flies in the face of the traditional idea behind discounted merchandise that was usually linked to a store being “overstocked” or it was time to move old merchandise to make room for the new. You can’t overstock a single file from which multiple copies can be downloaded, can you?  Whuh, am I missing something?

The truth is: if they can offer the book for $6.63 when you buy 30, there’s no reason they can’t offer the same price for one. Is there some kind of voodoo they’re working to influence these prices? There isn’t some virtual clerk walking around there, packing stuff, stocking shelves… Strange…

Unless they and other eBook sellers, are forced into no-win sales scenarios with the traditional publishing houses, and have to sell high for the right to offer the books… hmmm. That wouldn’t surprise me at all. So what kind of margin are they making that they can offer these items for ten or six dollars?

That’s something someone could please clear up for me. Anyone out there know what kind of deals these sellers have to work with?

So, my test items, all of them from New Moon to Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth would cost you the same $10 for the one item, or $6.63 if you’ve got 28 other books you’d like to read. When they get them. I see they don’t list those particular books as of Jan. 14/09. They do offer many of Stephen King’s books (again King…), and you know what, that might be one author you could name 30 titles for. But would you want to pay $199 for his publisher’s backlist as digital files?

Not to sound too negative, but if you look around you’ll see the site’s a little drab. Could it hurt them to post a few book covers? But I do like the way they acknowledge an interesting truth about eBooks.

There is no fundamental difference book to book to book that warrants a difference in price. They’re digital files right? Other than maybe slapping a premium on new releases (which will unfortunately encourage piracy) eBooks really should be available at affordable and relative prices. That way you can enjoy the author you know and love on your Kindle or Sony, or take a chance and try a new author… at the same low, low price. I think $5.00 and under is the direction this should be taking.

We should keep an eye on this site. It’s delivery may be somewhat austere and two-dimensional, and $10 is still too much to charge for eBooks and avoid piracy, but the one price for all is my kind of thinking.

Is the ISBN an irrelevant cash grab?

Ok, some publishers are arguing the new technologies are making the ISBN irrelevant. As the eBook revolution is making it affordable for publishers to dust off their backlists, those publishers are now looking at the old ISBN rules and crying foul. ISBN rules say you’ve got to have individual ISBN for all issues and re-issues of a book, as well as eBook or CD versions of the same product. (Let’s say a minimum of 2 ISBN per book and it adds up.)

A bit of checking around showed that  ISBN prefixes cost as much as $250 for a block of ten pre-numbered ISBN purchased from any of the 160 authorized ISBN agencies worldwide.  When publishers reissue products in multiple formats from a backlist of several thousand titles, they say it’s an extra cost that is unjustified because of modern technical advances in web search, store search engines and computer databases.

Read the full lowdown on ISBN from ISBN.ORG

What is the purpose of an ISBN?
The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition, allowing for more efficient marketing of products by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers and distributors.

What do I do when I receive the ISBN and where is it printed?
An ISBN should be assigned to each title or product, including any backlist or forthcoming titles. Each format or binding must have a separate ISBN (i.e. hardcover, paperbound, VHS video, laserdisc, e-book format, etc). A new ISBN is required for a revised edition. Once assigned, an ISBN can never be reused. An ISBN is printed on the lower portion of the back cover of a book above the bar code and on the copyright page.

Sounds like a nice little racket. I was okay until I read you have to assign a new ISBN for each revised edition. With today’s printing technology, e.g. Print-On-Demand and the adoption of the eBook (where, frankly, editions can be revised continuously) one’s options are considerably restrained by this necessity for reclassification. Having to acquire a new ISBN for each revised edition unnecessarily complicates a process that the ISBN should streamline, one would think and it seriously restricts the flexibilty that the new publishing technology offers. Yah!

What happened to the Dewey Decimal System?

The Plastic Logic Reader – Very Cool!

The Plastic Logic Reader and its revolutionary Plastic Electronics Display is on the road to stardom. Have a look at the product specifics here and you’ll see what I mean.  Fantastic machine!

It’s got an 8.5×11 inch display surface, which answers a lot of questions about PDF documents for business, law firms and governments, etc., and looks perfectly suited to newspaper and magazine display too. It’s a given that eBooks will play on it, and with that display surface will allow for original formatting, etc. It’s a sharp little gizmo.

Sweet Ride

This Looks like One Sweet Ride

While the site says that their list of playable document formats  is forthcoming, and that the device loads wirelessly, the video mentions a Plastic Logic Library, which sounds a bit like that system other eReader designers are setting up to control where you get your content, and how much it will cost you. It would be quite nice if they’d offer such a libary, just please don’t make it mandatory. Let us Google for best prices, yah?

It will undoubtedly have growing pains, as have all other aspects of the new eReading technology, but one look at this thing tells me that it (or a clone) is going to be a big player in the field.

I am amazed that CNN’s story on the device says that newspapers in the future “might” be read on these things. Come on! Might? Pretty much every newspaper out there has an online version. Some have shifted entirely to that format.

I can imagine such publishers are champing at the bit to get ahold of these things. No printing or delivery costs, just pay your contract reporters and designers and collect subscription and ad revenues. Ya-hoo!

Not to mention the video crossover that is coming close on its heels… Wow.
Have a look at their web site, and check out the video here.

I’m going to harp on it. If they can keep the price of these devices affordable we will see another revolution in publishing, simple as that, yah? I mention that because the Yahoo News video says the Plastic Logic Reader will be pre-released later this year to product partners and while its price will not be known until 2010, it will be priced comparable to other eReaders on the market. Well, that’s still averaging just under $300 bucks today, I’m pretty sure that will have dropped a lot by 2010. I can’t wait!