eBooks in the Cloud – Own or Just Renting?

Booki.sh have just announced they’ll be launching an ebook store in Australia, where the books are not downloaded but streamed from the cloud.

With the implication that we’re only renting/licensing our purchases, this news has caused quite a bit of a stir with some people denouncing it as, the worst thing to happen to publishing. Of course, some people would say that DRM has already killed off any possibility of actually owning our ebooks, including Booki.sh themselves.

This “ebooks-in-the-cloud” scenario isn’t new. I’ve been mulling it over for a while and my conclusion is that it’s not such a bad idea – but only if the book industry change the way we pay for them.

If all our books are stored in the cloud – meaning that we can’t download them to external storage – then we really are only renting them. I don’t find this such a big deal because if I actually wanted to own a book, I’d probably go out and buy a paper version anyway (wow, did I just say that).

(Ok, so that’s no completely true, but most of the ebooks I do buy are DRM-free professional books, from O’Reilly, A Book Apart, etc., so I do actually own them.)

It’s only recently that I’ve come to realise (or is that admitted to myself) that I mostly only read books (novels) once and if I ever read them again, it’s likely years after the first time, so I don’t mind having one-off/temporary access to them. But, if these cloud books imply that we’re only renting them, then I’d expect the price to be reflected in that.

The business model for ‘ebook Rental’ could be something similar to what we have with DVD rentals, where you can get pay-per-view movies streamed over the internet for anything from 25% – 50% of the purchase price. If I take a monthly subscription package then I could get them even cheaper.

So publishers, are you going to let me rent my ebooks – will you let me read Stieg Larsson for $2.00?

…no, I didn’t think so.

Library Books & eReaders

Now firmly placed as a mainstream item, ebooks have grown in popularity enough for many libraries to have started making digital versions from their catalogue available for lending.

The only thing you’ll need, except your eReader and an appropriate library card, is an Adobe ID (see below).

Most libraries that do provide ebooks are using the Adobe DRM protection system, which also means that most dedicated eReaders (Sony, Kobo, etc) and several eReader apps (Bluefire, OverDrive) can be used to read these DRM protected library ebooks.

I’m going to write three very short tutorials on how to get your library ebook onto your eReader/App. One of these three options should give you enough information even if yours is not actually covered here. Continue reading “Library Books & eReaders”

Apple iPad and EPUB Books

It’s been a few weeks now since the Apple iPad announcement; a 9.7-inch multi-purpose tablet with native Book, Magazine and Newspaper options. Although Apple hasn’t released this as a dedicated eBook reader or as a direct competitor to popular eReaders such as the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader, in essence, it is an eReader nonetheless.

So, the iPad is an eReader, and one that reads not only books and newspapers but web pages, emails and numerous other electronic documents. It can also do the stuff that an iPhone and iPod Touch can do – running thousands of third party applications from the iTunes App store. For this article though I’d like to focus on the book aspects, especially in relation to the EPUB eBook format. Continue reading “Apple iPad and EPUB Books”

New ORIZON eBook reader with WiFi from Bookeen

Today, Nicolas Gary from the French website www.actualitte.com contacted me about their exclusive first look at the next generation Bookeen eReader, the ORIZON. As the article is in French, Nicolas has kindly written a short overview in English.

Bookeen is introducing a new eBook Reader called ORIZON, supporting ePub files (with or without DRM) of course. It comes with a 6 inch touchscreen display, WiFi and Bluetooth (Have fun! This is the first Reader in France with a wireless connection!) What else? An accelerometer, so you can read in landscape or portrait mode.

Weight : 226g for 12.25 x 18.5 x 0.75 cm and we know a few specifications like the resolution, 167 dpi and 16 levels of grey.

Bookeen says there will also be a new version of the Boo Reader software.

And about the Opus…just few new colours…

If your French is up to scratch you can read the full exclusive over at actualitte.com.

When I was at the 2009 Frankfurt Book Fair, Michaël Dahan from Bookeen did mention there would be a new 6 inch reader this year. I was very impressed with the Bookeen Opus when I reviewed it in November and said to myself at the time that if they had a 6 inch version this would be my choice of eReader.

For the last few months I’ve been using the Sony Reader Touch Edition and although I think there are many amazing features, that dark shiny touch screen really does bug me. The shininess I could live with, but I really do hope the Orizon’s screen brightness doesn’t suffer from the addition of the touch screen like the Sony does.

At the moment there are a multitude of eReaders coming onto the market (all supporting EPUB it seems :- ) but I get the feeling the Bookeen might be one step ahead of most of them.

Read EPUB ebooks in your Web Browser

If you’ve ever been visiting a site that’s offering free .epub files and wished you could just click the link and immediately start reading – with none of that “open with… ” or “download to you computer first” nonsense – then I’ve found exactly what you want. An eReading app that allows quick and easy EPUB reading, right there in your web browser.

EPUBReader is one of the more recent software only EPUB readers and has grown into a very stable and good looking ebook reader since it’s release. The eReader itself is actually an add-on for the very popular Firefox web browser – for those still using Internet Exploer (IE) this is yet another good reason to change over to Firefox.

Once installed all you have to do is visit any website with DRM free EPUB files (why not try some Charles Dickens or Edgar Allen Poe from my own catalogue) and click on the download button. The book will open right there in the browser/reader for immediate enjoyment.

Reading from a computer monitor is not a comfortable practice for everyone, but for those who don’t mind this it’s certainly a great solution.

Please note: you won’t be able to read any DRM encumbered EPUBs with this eReader – I don’t expect that to ever change while it remains a web browser plugin – so let’s hope more publishers release DRM free ebooks in the future.

The software is in constant development and there’s always new features being added so it’s worth keeping it up-to-date. For more information visit the official website (epubread.com) or to install now jump right over to the EPUBReader Add-on page at Mozilla.

Sony announce new PSP Digital Reader – EPUB Support?

This evening a friend of mine pointed me to the Sony annoucment of the PSP and the new PSP Go over on cnet news. Why did I find this interesting enough to write about? The article also mentioned that the PSP’s will be getting their own “Digital Reader”…!!! The article says,

The PSP will also be getting a Digital Reader in December with various comic book publishers onboard to offer content. Marvel will be providing Spider-Man, X-Men, and Fantastic Four comics to start, with Wolverine, Captain America, Iron Man, and the Hulk all to follow. Compatibility with other Sony readers and more digital comics publishers will be announced soon.

The initial focus will be on comics, but that paragraph also mentions “compatibility with other Sony readers”. Is that a reference to the Sony Reader? The Guardian also makes mention to the Sony Digital Reader annoucement but again nothing beyond the comics angle.

This annoucement comes just days after Sony announced that they will be dropping their propriety BBeB format and their eBook store will start selling ePub books exclusively (Adobe DRM flavour) by the end of 2009. I can’t imagine that Sony will not open their PSP reader for use with the Sony store.

With over 50 million PSP’s already sold and many, many more once the new PSP Go is released, this could be a huge boost for both the Sony eBook store and the ePub eBook format!

Sony could be making those few hundred thousand Kindle’s seem positively niche.