Tag Archives: eReaders

eBooks: 1998 – The first ebook readers

How about a book-sized electronic device that could store many books at once? The first ebook readers were the Rocket eBook and the SoftBook Reader, launched in Silicon Valley in 1998.

These dedicated electronic readers were the size of a (large and thick) book, with a battery, a black and white LCD screen, and a storage capacity of ten books or so. They could connect to the internet through a computer (for the Rocket eBook) or directly with a built-in modem (for the SoftBook Reader).

They got much attention from book professionals and the general public, with few of them buying them though, because of their rocket-high price — several hundreds of dollars — and a small choice of books in the digital bookstores available on the companies’ websites. Publishers were just beginning to digitize their own books, still wondering how to market them, and worried with piracy concerns. Continue reading eBooks: 1998 – The first ebook readers

Fnacbook Touch eReader

The biggest bookstore chain in France is about to release their very own eReader. Although not the first eReader to come from France (Cybook has that honor), the new Fnacbook Touch is the first to be released solely into the French market.

The hardware will seem pretty familiar to most; 6-inch E-Ink touch screen, WiFi and 3G, but the design is quite different; the looks are more playful than they are sleek design, and I have to say it looks pretty cool!

To coincide with the launch, fnac will be making 80,000 French titles available, which will cost around 20-30% less than their paper counterparts. Like Amazon, fnac will also be releasing an iPhone app (November) and an Android app in the first half of 2011.

Fnacbook is being released on November 10th for 199 euro, around $277 USD. Quite a high price tag, although there are more expensive eReaders out there.

Have an iPad – now what?

Although the iPad has been out in the U.S. for several weeks, today finally sees the day when it’s released in Europe and Australia. Taking a looking over the news sites it seems there’s been a lot of people queuing up to get hold of their own iPad which I guess now makes it big hit everywhere.

So then, you’ve dug deep and forked over hundreds of pounds/dollars/euros for your brand new toy, but you’ve now nothing left in your pocket to go buying books with. Well, no fear, why not go download some free books.

Although iBooks comes with an option to download PG books directly, I wanted to tell you about the free ebook project called epubBooks.com, that I’ve been working on.

I’ve taken titles from Project Gutenberg and created some very fine quality EPUB books, many of which include images (when available) and I’ve made all footnotes (endnotes) clickable, so you don’t have to go searching through the text for the appropriate entry. Another click sends you back to the last page you were at.

I spent a lot of time working on the conversion tools so the book coding is very clean and tidy, which means they render very nicely under the iPad iBooks application as well as any other E-Ink reader (Sony Reader, Cybook OPUS, BeBook, etc.) and Apple apps such as Stanza.

As well as free EPUB books, I have a number of eReader reviews and also a resource for finding places to buy EPUB ebooks from (none work directly in iBooks but may do via 3rd party apps).

Transfer EPUB eBooks from epubBooks to the iBooks App

At the moment it doesn’t seem possible to just click a link on my site and have the book load directly into the iBooks App. Therefore, you’ll first need to download the book to your computer. Once you’ve done this just drag the file onto iTunes and then hit the “sync” button. The book will be available in iBooks on your iPad.

I’m constantly adding new titles to the site so hopefully everyone will find something they enjoy.

Libraries check out the eBook

NY Public LibraryAcross the U.S., thousands of libraries are embracing eBooks. No longer the familiar home of tomes and periodicals only, these foundations are now using new technology for more than just computerizing their catalogues. Libraries, like so many other businesses of the book, are eager to attract the digitally savvy new generation. This downloadable wave has been a gradual transition for the library, and the books of yesterday are not yet extinct. The New York Public library currently offers over 17,000 eBook titles, just a fraction of their 800,000 circulating print titles. Comparing these numbers, it’s obvious that eBook acquisitions still represent a small percentage of their budget.

Why the seeming reticence to stock up on eBooks? It’s not only because the library still clings to the spine (pardon the pun) of its institution, which lies in the not so modern, good old fashioned pages of yester-year. The road to eBook downloads, as history has proven (i.e. Google) is often a bumpy one. One obstacle libraries face is the inability to keep up with new devices now dominating the industry. Although most libraries offer eBooks that are compatible with computers, Sony Reader and a handful of other digital devices, many of their downloadable offerings cannot be read on Amazon’s Kindle or the Apple’s iphone, both very popular e-readers. Another issue slowing down eBook acquisitions for libraries is the publishers themselves. Many publishers are thus far loath to permit eBook versions of their print copies to be allowed in libraries, due to concerns it will decrease sales of their print editions. This decision comes despite the fact that checking out a downloadable eBook greatly mirrors a checkout of a print copy. Instead of physically walking out of a library with book copy in hand, all is done at home, or anywhere else, with a digital device. The differences, in the instance of library patronage, seem more academic than financial.

Yet even in the wake of these problems, eBook circulation is expanding at an amazing rate. eBook checkouts have increased to more than one million in 2009, up from 600,000 in 2007, according to OverDrive. eBooks are quickly proving an unstoppable force, and opening the floodgates have given libraries the chance to increase readership and cater to a new age of information seekers. Downloading a book in the comfort of home is no longer just a concept for most. It’s a daily reality. For libraries, it is still a relatively new venture, riddled with many obstacles, but even more opportunities.

Project Gutenberg release Mobile Edition eBooks

PG Mobile is going to be a new addition to gutenberg.org, which will allow mobile/cell phone users to download and read eBooks. The files will be available on the normal download page of any PG eBook. Here is the full Press Release.

Look For PG Mobile – Project Gutenberg’s Mobile Edition

Why using Amazon’s proprietary Kindle when you can use your mobile phone instead? Today’s cell phones offer excellent screens and massive computing power to ensure best reading comfort. Mobile books do not weigh much and you can carry them with you wherever you are. Each Java / MIDP 2.0 enabled cell phone is sufficient – the most common computing platform in the world: There are by far more cell phones shipped worldwide than personal computers.

PG Mobile is a software that transfers the plain text format provided by Project Gutenberg onto small handset screens – together with all the features known from physical books like turning pages, page numbers and bookmarks. Just download the PG Mobile version of any eBook and read it on your phone: All Project Gutenberg mobile eBooks will soon be available for download as an additional file format in the download section of each Gutenberg title on Gutenberg.org. Stay tuned!

PG Mobile is based on the common Java file format (JAR) readable on nearly all mobile handsets. The superior features of the PG Mobile reader offer benefits like landscape mode and bookmarks, among many others. There’s no book size limit, the book size is only limtated by the individual capabilities of your handset.

All mobile books can be downloaded as Java-applications and can then later be installed on the cell phone by using Bluetooth, serial connection, infrared or data cable. Additionally it will be possible to install the books directly over the air by using WAP: Just browse to Gutenberg.org and click on the JAR-link. And soon the mobile book will automatically be installed on your phone.

Please visit the homepage of the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation: www.gutenberg.org.

PG Mobile developed by QiOO Interactive, PG Mobile – JAR-book Technology by QiOO Interactive, www.qioo.com.

QiOO Interactive is the first producer of free mobile books worldwide. As a result of a university spin-off project at the Institute of Electronic Business e.V., www.ieb.net, the first mobile books were created in summer 2003.

Apple iPhone, Stanza and Project Gutenberg

With the introduction of the Stanza eBook reading application the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch have become major platforms on which to read eBooks. Since Stanza was released there have been several other eBook readers released for the iPod Touch allowing eBooks in many different file formats (including the ePub eBook standard) to be downloaded from any one of the many sources that have both free (public domain) and commercial eBook titles.

The goal of my own personal project is to provide Project Gutenberg eBooks formatted in the ePub eBook standard and make freely available from epubBooks.com. Because of this I knew I would need to test how my conversions look on an iPhone or iPod Touch, therefore I decided to purchase an iPod Touch.

I’m not a fanatic of Apple so as you can imagine, I wasn’t really expecting much from the iPod Touch other to test my ePub formatted books and listening to music.

I won’t go into too many details in this review about the different Apple apps available on the iPhone/Touch (there are already plenty of other reviews like that) as I want to keep this focused on the eBook aspects, specifically targeting Project Gutenberg fans.

During the review I will only be focussing on the iPod Touch but it must be noted that the Touch is exactly the same as the iPhone, just without the cellular phone abilities or persistent internet access. So anything that can be done with the iPod Touch should also be available on the iPhone.
Continue reading Apple iPhone, Stanza and Project Gutenberg

BeBook eBook Reader

I had been reading some very interesting things about the BeBook eBook Reader, so when it arrived in the mail, I was not disappointed. On the surface this reader from Endless Ideas BV is pretty much the same as any other. However, once you start to get a little more involved you soon realise that this is a pretty cool device with some great features that make it stand out from the rest.

As with most E-Ink readers the BeBook also uses the newer Vizplex screen technology, which gives a much brighter and faster screen. To help in displaying your books it comes bundled with its own font which gives a very solid text.

There are the normal three sizes of fonts available, although this device implements them in a slightly different way to others. At the maximum zoom setting the display switches to landscape view – this actually makes sense. If you really need the maximum font size then viewing in landscape mode will actually give a more satisfying reading experience, very clever – and particularly useful for those technical PDF documents.

One of the most common issues people have when buying a dedicated reader is regarding eBook formats and whether they will still be able to read their purchases if they change devices in the future. Well, to help relieve these concerns Endless Ideas BV have not only enabled the BeBook to view MobiPocket [DRM protected] eBooks, but also EPUB, PDF, Microsoft LIT, CHM, HTML and a plethora of other formats. Giving you more choice in where you buy your books from.

Continue reading BeBook eBook Reader

UK Release of the Sony Reader PRS-505

So here we are, just over a week until Waterstones start shipping out those lovely new Sony Reader PRS-505’s to all us UK residents!

This is going to be the first E-Ink reader from one of the big boys to enter the UK market . The Sony Reader has been getting substantial coverage in mainstream media of late, so it will be interesting to see what the take up will be. If forums such as MobileRead are anything to go by then there will be quite a demand.

Don’t know what the Sony Reader Digital Book (PRS-505) is?

The Sony Reader is an electronic book reader that uses an E-Ink screen to give a paper like reading experience. The Reader can hold around 160 books in its 250MB internal memory, but by using the two memory slots (10GB) you could potentially hold 10,000 books. If you don’t think you could fill this then remember that the Gutenberg.org archives have over 20,000 English language books to download for free!! Continue reading UK Release of the Sony Reader PRS-505

ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader

ECTACO jetBook eBook ReaderECTACO are probably better know for their electronic hand held translators, but now they gone and released their very own reader; the jetBook eBook Reader.

The jetBook does not use an E-Ink screen, however, this does give it an advantage over all the other eBook readers that are currently out there; a crisp and very white screen! One of the issues people have with the current E-Ink (and VixPlex) standard is that the page contrast is not high enough – usually with E-Ink screens you have a light gray background displaying dark gray text, making low light reading a challenge.

Well, if you think this will be an issue then perhaps you would be better suited to a jetBook. These use a reflective monochrome LCD screen so that the background is nice and white, allowing the text to be read much easier.

[The jetBook has] an easy to scan high-resolution 5-inch display and a viewing angle close to 180°, it is fully customizable. Even readers who have difficulty seeing print books will benefit from its adjustable text size and font face. And weighing in at only 7.5 ounces, this handy device fits perfectly into the palm of your hand.

They go on to say that this “revolutionary display reflects light without the need for backlighting”, which according to reviews gives a similar reading experience to an E-Ink screen.

For me however, the most impressive feature of the jetBook is its ability to search and cross-reference the text using bookmarks making it a great choice for dictionaries – I’m not sure if this means you can do a word lookup from within a book. I’ll try to find out and post an update.

Continue reading ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader

Stanza eBook reader for the iPhone and iPod Touch

UPDATE: Stanza is no longer maintained so I’d recommend you try out Bluefire Reader. Checkout my iPhone review or iPad review over on epubBooks for some more information on reading EPUB books on the iPhone with Blurefire and other apps.

If you are looking for a free eBook reader for your Apple iPhone or iPod Touch then you might want to try the new Stanza reader from Lexcycle.

I don’t have an iPhone or iPod Touch myself so have no first-hand experience, but Feedbooks co-found Hadrien Gardeur, has made a post over on mobileread.com that Stanza [link removed] has the ability to download ePub books directly from FeedBooks.com using their API. FeedBooks have many of the top classics found at gutenberg.org, from Jane Austin to Alexandre Dumas to Jules Verne.

For those of you who don’t know, the IDPF ePub format is an open standard eBook format that is fast being adopted by many big name publishers including Penguin UK and O’Reilly as well as projects such as Feedbooks.com.

Over the coming months we are likely to see a number of iPhone apps that will allow you to read those free, public domain eBooks from Project Gutenberg, and Stanza will certainly continue to be one of the top ones. So, if you want to read Project Gutenberg books on your iPhone, then just stop by the app store and download Stanza now.

For more information about Stanza on the iPhone visit www.lexcycle.com/iphone

For more information on accessing FeedBooks.com from within Stanza visit www.feedbooks.com/help/iphone