Sony Plans to Adopt Common Format for E-Books

Paper books may be low tech, but no one will tell you how and where you can read them.

For many people, the problem with electronic books is that they come loaded with just those kinds of restrictions. Digital books bought today from Amazon.com, for example, can be read only on Amazon’s Kindle device or its iPhone software.

Some restrictions on the use of e-books are likely to remain a fact of life. But some publishers and consumer electronics makers are aiming to give e-book buyers more flexibility by rallying around a single technology standard for the books. That would also help them counter Amazon, which has taken an early lead in the nascent market.

Full story in the New York Times


New Bedfellows: Sony ebook Reader and Overdrive

OverDrive, the leading global digital distributor of eBooks and audiobooks to libraries, announced today a joint marketing agreement with Sony Electronics, Inc., developer of the Sony Reader Digital Book (www.sony.com/reader). OverDrive and Sony will cross-market OverDrive's library network and the Reader, the leading eBook device that is compatible with industry standard eBook formats offered by libraries.

More from Overdrive.

Astak's $199 EZ Reader Pocket PRO wants to give Kindle 'a run for its money'

Device is able to support over 20 open file formats along with DRM-laced PDF files; also of note, a sure-to-be-controversial text-to-speech feature can read back documents aloud. The six-ounce device will be available in a half dozen hues, and within you'll find a 400MHz processor, 512MB of memory, an SD expansion slot, 8-level grayscale E-ink screen, a replaceable battery good for 8,000 page turns per charge and an MP3 player that can operate in the background.

Full piece here.


We've Built a Library -- Now Let's Open It

An Essay of the LISNews Summer Series

I'm a conflicted person, it would seem. I regularly use, and encourage the use of, open source software. In some settings -- public computing, thin client, and cloud environments -- there isn't, in my mind, any closed system that comes close to delivering what an open platform offers.

I believe heartily that open source code benefits both developers and end-users -- in perpetuity. Open source development efforts can (and do) die -- but the application, the code, the vital organs that sustained it during development live on. An abandoned open source software project is much like what the medical profession calls a beating heart cadaver. I learned this from Mary Roach's book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers.

The fact that I read books about corpses that have more of a life than I do isn't what makes me a conflicted soul. The fact that I read it on my second generation Kindle most certainly does.

Kindle in danger of becoming ebooks' Betamax

Amazon's competitors, after fumbling about like the Washington Nationals for the past couple of years, are starting to get their act together. They're moving toward a shared e-book format, called ePub, that's different from the one on the Kindle.

And Allen Weiner, an expert in the e-book business at technology consultancy Gartner, Inc., says he knows that other manufacturers are poised to launch new reading devices with Kindle-style 3G wireless connections. Some may be announced as early as the next few weeks, he says.

It's been a busy summer for Amazon's competitors.

Last week, Sony announced two new e-book readers, including one for $199. A third, with a wireless connection, is thought to be coming.

Barnes & Noble recently has waded back into the e-book business, after a six-year absence, by acquiring online seller Fictionwise. It is likely to partner with other e-book readers to compete with Amazon.

Oh, yes, and a little-known company called Apple, Inc.,(AAPL) is rumored to be readying a handheld tablet that would also be an e-book reader.

Full story here.


The latest craze: Free e-books offerings

James Patterson's latest best seller, "The Angel Experiment," is a little different from his usual hits. The novel isn't new; it came out four years ago. Readers aren't picking it up at bookstores, but mostly on the Kindle site at Amazon.com.

And the price is low even for an old release: $0.00.
"I like the notion of introducing people to one book, while promoting the sales of another," says the prolific and mega-selling author (and co-author) of numerous thrillers." His Kindle download is the first book of Patterson's "Maximum Ride" young adult series.

"We've given away thousands of free e-copies," Patterson said. "`Maximum Ride' is big already and we think it could be a lot bigger. That requires getting people to read it."

Story also discusses concerns that other authors have. Full piece here.


Petition for a DRM-free Kindle

The Free Software Foundation is calling them out, joining with readers, academics, librarians and authors (including Lawrence Lessig, Clay Shirky and BB's own Cory Doctorow) in a petition against Amazon's ebook DRM. The petition opens: 'We believe in a way of life based on the free exchange of ideas, in which books have and will continue to play a central role.

Story at Boing Boing


Amazon scores another college textbook publisher for Kindle DX

Amazon is making progress getting the major college textbook publishers on board with its Kindle electronic reader. Today, McGraw-Hill Education said it will begin offering 100 higher education titles on the Kindle. McGraw-Hill joins the other major textbook publishers, Cengage Learning, Pearson, and Wiley, which are already selling Kindle editions. Amazon is positioning its new large-screen Kindle DX reader as a replacement for physical textbooks -- and needs to get as many titles as possible into electronic form.

Full piece here.


Amazon Should Let Kindle Go

Today, people buy Kindle e-book readers from Amazon’s Web site. But if the e-commerce giant wants to continue dominating the e-reader category in the future, that needs to change, according to a new report from consultant Forrester Research.

Here’s why: Demographics of e-book reader buyers are shifting, as the device starts to enter the mainstream, writes report author Sarah Rotman Epps. In the past, Kindle buyers were mainly comprised of business users, who were mostly male. But “future prospects for the devices look completely different,” Rotman Epps says. “They’re more likely to be female, less tech optimistic, and they read a lot (on average, 5 books per month) but they buy and borrow books from multiple sources, as opposed to buying lots of books online. The big takeaway is that this could spell trouble for Amazon, if competitors can move in to better serve the later waves of adopters who don’t have as strong a relationship with the eCommerce giant.”

Basically, unless Amazon makes the Kindle available everywhere — at competing, traditional bookstores, for example — the device’s growth could peter off.

Full piece here.


Apple tossing out e-books from iPhone app store

Apple’s bullies are tossing out e-book offerings for the iPhone even when the copyright risks aren’t that high. I’m not sure how this affects existing items. But either way, it’s bad news and smacks of Apple’s war on Google VOiP—well, assuming that the news reports are correct, which they might not be, considering the extent of the cluelessness ascribed to Apple.

Full piece at Teleread



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