Archive for the ‘Tech – Sony’ category

eSlick eBook Reader: GTFOH! Srsly!

December 19, 2008

Via Twitter from booksin140:


ESlick E-Book Reader Cheapest, Ugliest Yet

From the Specifications page:

eBook Formats: PDF, TXT, Any printable document(after converted to PDF using included software)

I have one primary question: Why are you bringing this piece of shit to market?

PDF and TXT?

Are you all out of your fucking minds?

Why are you going to add to the existing confusion about eBook file formats by releasing something that can read none of them?

What greed-infected jackass at your company thought this shit was a good idea?

What, you got wind that “eBooks are the New New Thing” and decided to pickpocket a few pennies from suckers wandering down that garden path?

Do you really think there aren’t people out here in Blogland who can’t see this shit for what it is — and won’t call it the shit that it is?

Well, surprise! This is your lucky day. You’ve just run into the one person in Blogland who will call it the shit that it is!

This is an embarrassment.

No, really. It is. You look like a pack of doofuses.

Call it a mistake. Claim you all had a collective aneurysm and this somehow got loose onto the Internets because someone hit Send instead of dialing 911 for an ambulance.


Just get rid of it.

It’s not good for one fucking thing, no matter what the price.

And that slugline? “Save money to buy more e-books”? — to what? Read on a Sony Reader? Your piece of shit can’t read eBooks!

Here’s a more honest slugline: “Save your money for a Sony Reader.”


Soft Skull Press eBooks Soon!

December 17, 2008

Happy happy joy joy!



Soft Skull Press website

Nano Fondle: Sony Reader PRS-505 Vs. 700

December 15, 2008

This morning I was in lower Manhattan and made it a point to stop into the Borders down there.

Sony has upgraded their locked-down Sony Reader kiosks to now display both available models: the PRS-505 and the PRS-700.

People can now have an immediate side-by-side comparison.

Let’s get the big issue out of the way: The eInk is darker on the 700 than the 505. The contrast is less and it’s all rather unfortunately murky. Mind you, this is with both units standing straight up with light shining down on them — not with light directly on them.

Still, for sharpness and contrast, the 505 wins.

I understand why too:

1) The 700 screen is recessed to accommodate the sidelights

2) The 700 screen is beneath a touchscreen

Both of these will tend to make the screen feel slightly “underwater” and also affect sharpness.

On the other hand, it really is keen to flip through eBook pages with a side-swipe of the finger, to select an eBook by touching it, to scroll through the new Library Shelf by running a finger along the right side of the screen. These are things — along with Search and Notes — that can’t be dismissed. (And, yes, iPhone owners, I know these things are available on that. But I’m discussing the Sony Reader here.)

I had zero trouble with the touchscreen, by the way. It was totally and speedily responsive. Just like an iPhone!

The 700 overall feels peppier than the 505. There is not so great a difference in page turn refresh — perhaps a fraction of a second. What tends to make page-turning on the 700 less stark is what I raised at the beginning: the reduced screen contrast.

Call up the menu to in/de-crease font size and it’s immediately responsive. It’s nonchalant in displaying its strength for tasks like that. It’s overall a pleasure to use, without any sensation of it being underpowered.

The 700’s screen seems a step back to the original 500. But there’s the increased speed and touchscreen and other features to compensate. People bought the original 500 despite its reduced contrast. I think the same will happen with the 700 too.

And judging from the interest I saw people elicit for the Sony Reader later on at J&R, I think Sony is going to have a damned good number of sales this holiday season.

Sony Reader Gets Some Ellen Love

December 14, 2008


TaxMan45 alerted me via Twitter that the Sony Reader had been featured on the Ellen Degeneres Show.

Smells like product placement, but still, good for Sony. As you’ll see in the video, the entire audience got a free Sony Reader and “101 free downloads” — which I suspect are 100 free classics and Ellen’s book. But still!

Here’s the video:

Ellen And Sony Reader

And here are the relevant screensnaps:





And this is from the website:

Click = big

Proving that Ellen and her audience can manage a USB cable while Oprah can’t. And I’m certain the audience was ecstatic to get a Sony Reader.

Reference: Voluminous, eBooks For Mac OS X

December 11, 2008


Voluminous finds free books on the Internet. It makes a catalogue of every book it finds, and you can search this, and download any book you like. You can read the books from within Voluminous, or export them to read elsewhere.

Now, since the Mac has PDF creation built in, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch — perhaps with some AppleScripting — to take plain text files and automagically make them Sony Reader-optimized PDF files.

Hmmm … maybe this developer can even include such a script with the program?

Memo To Sony: Treat The Temps Better!

December 11, 2008

I know Steve Haber has ambitions for many more titles at the Sony eBook Store, but apparently things are going awry in this death march:

Click = big

Steve Haber once admitted he’s read this blog.

Let’s see if this is still true.

I’m not going to point this out to anyone via email.

Everyone keep track of how long it takes for them to fix this.

Now the world is watching you, Sony!

Are eBook Reading Devices Doomed?

December 9, 2008

Sony announces it’s in trouble.

I don’t know if that will affect the eBook group. That division is now housed entirely in the U.S., has been profitable, and has begun its international campaign. I hope Sony will see the wisdom in continuing it. To surrender the field to Amazon would be a defeat Sony could not afford.

And yet: Could it all be for nothing?

There are three recent signs — as well as a total wild card — that point to possible dramatic changes in the eBook-reading hardware landscape.

The first is Samsung hitting the pedal hard on OLED screen manufacturing. There have been exciting rumblings that Samsung intends to put these incredible OLED screens in notebook computers. Samsung recently displayed a folding OLED prototype screen.

OLED screens are a huge deal. This is what I previously wrote:

This past weekend, I was in J&R. I made it a point to go see that OLED TV Sony’s Howard Stringer has bragged and bragged about.

It’s no brag!

You have to see it for yourself. Color, contrast, brightness, and viewing angle just shame every other television on sale.


That’s a side view. The screen really is shockingly-thin. (Of course, that’s a bit of a gimmick, isn’t it? If you add the electronics that are separated into the base to make it wall-hanging, there goes the thinness, right?) Now, what happens when Sony finally nails the production run of OLED screens? Would a six-inch one finds its way into a future model of Sony Reader? It’d probably be expensive as all hell, but that’d be only for the first model (targeted to businesses and publishing professionals). Prices would eventually drop.

Let me say one more thing about that Sony OLED TV that pertains expressly to eBooks: it would make eBooks on par with high-quality full-color printing that’s now available. In fact, it’d be higher quality than what we see in weeklies such as Time and Newsweek. We’re talking high-quality full-color Japanese magazine printing (which, if you haven’t seen that, you should!).

The second development has been Hewlett-Packard demonstrating color eInk screens.

Truly, the first device that can do color eBooks will change things forever.

And that just might doom all existing dedicated eBook readers!

For here’s the third piece of this puzzle: Amtek Rumored to Show Slate Netbook at CES 2009

The specs are familiar to netbook fans — Intel Atom N270, 512MB RAM (upgradable to 2GB), 80GB HDD, 10.2” XGA TFT(1024*600) — albeit with less RAM and hard drive space than we’re used to seeing these days. The touchscreen may make up for that, if it brings the awesome.

Those specs just kick the hell out of all current eBook reading devices. And it has a color and touch screen.

Throw Adobe Digital Editions on that and it’s immediately ePub Heaven.

And, of course, it’s not only an eBook reader. It’s a full-fledged portable computer in which eBooks are only one application.

Let’s say it comes at a premium price of US$700.00. That’s twice the price of a Sony PRS-505 and $300 more than the new touchscreen PRS-700.

Suddenly the entire eBook reading equation is changed. It’s no longer, “I need this small device that’s made for eBooks.”

It becomes, “I can get this small computer and also have eBooks.”

I’ve argued since I first saw it that the Sony Reader is the absolute ideal size for a portable device:

The Oh. My. God. Moment came in picking it up. This is a masterpiece of design and engineering. It is what a totable computer should be. This is what the Nokia 770 and all UMPCs should be like. Just this exact size and thickness. This is science-fiction come to life. It is worth your time to get to any store that has it just to hold it.

I still believe that.

This puts Sony in a tight corner.

1) It can find itself — as Amazon will — with eBook hardware sales going to zero by the end of 2009


2) It can go All Hands On Deck, cross company boundaries, and quickly change course from a dedicated eBook device to the best damned portable computer available.

And what’s the Wild Card in all this?

Pixel Qi, which brags it has revolutionary screens that will basically run on electrons by osmosis instead of the greedy sip-sip-sip of current technology.

Someone is going to put these pieces together:

1) Sony Reader-sized touchscreen computer

2) Revolutionary screen

3) Included Adobe Digital Editions software

Will it be Apple? Hewlett-Packard? Asus? MSI? Amtek? Or Sony?

It will take just one company to start the ball rolling. Just as it did with Asus and the original EeePC. The pile-on quickly followed, with every manufacturer leap-frogging one another, culminating in the Samsung NC10 which gets a startling battery run-time compared to all the rest.

Amazon wouldn’t really care if its abominable Kindle sales went to zero. It could release a Kindle Reader app and still make money from selling eBooks (although I’d quickly expect those $10 prices to go bye-bye). Amazon would doubly clean up because it also owns MobiPocket, which already runs on conventional computers.

The dying dinosaurs of print wouldn’t really care because they’re selling standardized software now — ePub files. They don’t care what reads them — Sony Reader, desktop Adobe Digital Editions, or Stanza on an iPhone — they would still make sales.

This leaves Sony very vulnerable. It also threatens with extinction all the other dedicated eBook devices out there, such as the ECTACO jetBook and the BeBook.

Next year really is going to be the year everything changes for eBooks.

Free eBooks From Baen Books

December 7, 2008


Baen has been doing this for quite a while, but the population of eBook reading devices is now larger, so a reminder is in order.

Free Library

Introducing the Baen Free Library
by Eric Flint

Baen Books is now making available — for free — a number of its titles in electronic format. We’re calling it the Baen Free Library. Anyone who wishes can read these titles online — no conditions, no strings attached. (Later we may ask for an extremely simple, name & email only, registration.) Or, if you prefer, you can download the books in one of several formats. Again, with no conditions or strings attached. (URLs to sites which offer the readers for these format are also listed.)

These are the file formats available:
* Ebookwise/Rocket Format
* Mobipocket/Palm/Kindle Format
* Microsoft Reader Format
* Sony Digital Reader Format
* RTF Format

See the long list of free eBooks!

You Will Want To BUY eBooks

December 6, 2008

I had a few unexpected hours off the Internet today due to a connectivity issue.

I didn’t feel as isolated as most people do when that happens because my hard drive contains a ginormous backlog of To-Do Things.

One of these had to do with eBooks.

I played around with Sony’s eLibrary software and some free eBooks I’d downloaded of various formats. Note that most of these eBooks were legitimately free. A few weren’t, but were for Research Purposes Only (such as today’s research).

I discovered that Richard Herley’s free eBooks when put into Sony’s LRF file format — by ManyBooks, I think it is — look absolutely dreadful. I don’t understand why there are blank lines between paragraphs. I also don’t know why one of them has formatting conventions included at the beginning!

I discovered that many free PDFs are completely free. No security restrictions at all. I was able, for example, to run one of Charlie Huston’s free PDF eBooks through a PDF-to-HTML converter. However, the results were not very happy to see. This same PDF — and others — also allowed text to be extracted via Save As. In all cases that I tried, however, paragraphs of text are interrupted by any headers in the document as well as page numbers. And typeface formatting is lost.

I also discovered that some utilities I downloaded ages ago were absolutely useless for creating Sony Reader-format eBooks. I forget where I got them from, but I do recall thinking they’d be useful for that purpose. Instead, one of them was for actually taking an LRF file and converting it to other formats. Why would I want that?!

In all, with viewing a variety of free eBooks that are translated on-the-fly and several PDFs, I concluded that anyone who thinks they can build a library of eBooks via format piracy is an absolute moron.

It would be very, very hard work, for example, to take the Charlie Huston PDF and make a near-professional LRF version for the Sony Reader. The amount of time and effort would be greater than the price of buying a legitimate copy.

Also, I noticed that several free PDFs offered by one publisher was infected with fat borders containing notices to Buy Buy Buy a printed copy. This made the file just about worthless for even on-screen reading. And I think PDF reflow on a Sony Reader would have a heart attack trying to parse it.

So, all that free free free stuff you’ve been socking away on your hard drive in anticipation of building a ready-to-go eBook library for a Sony Reader or other device?

You better start taking a serious look at that stuff now.

I think you’ll find you’ll want to buy eBooks that are professionally formatted and free of spam!

Let’s just hope the dying dinosaurs of print progress to impulse-buy pricing so we can buy lots and lots and lots of eBooks!

Because most free just isn’t worth it!

How Amazon’s Kindle Will Bite Your Ass

December 5, 2008

All of you people with are so enthralled with the selfish instant gratification feature (read: wireless downloading of eBooks) of the Kindle will have no tears shed by me.

1) You cannot read eBooks on your desktop. Your Kindle breaks? Do without until replacement.

2) You’re locked into one eBook store: Amazon. Don’t expect every publisher to jump on board. Amazon offers a criminal 65-35% split.

3) You’re locked into the bastardized MobiPocket format. Amazon owns MobiPocket. They tweaked the file format for Kindle. All Kindle can read is that and free (not DRMed!) MobiPocket.

4) You can’t share books with other Kindle owners, even in your own family.

5) You’re locked out of the ePub future — which is what book publishers have standardized on for eBooks.

6) You can’t borrow eBooks from public libraries.

Contrast that with the Sony Reader:

1) eBooks are downloaded to your PC and can also be read there with Sony’s eLibrary software.

2) You can buy from Sony’s eBook Store or any eBook store that offers ePub files.

3) You are not locked into Sony’s BBeB file format. There’s ePub and PDF text reflow too (albeit this last is touchy).

4) Sony allows sharing on up to five devices: So, PC plus four Readers. And the Readers don’t have to be under the same roof or in the same family!

5) Sony is in the midst of the ePub revolution and several publishers attended the PRS-700 debut to show public support.

6) You can borrow eBooks from public libraries.

So when wireless comes to the Sony Reader in 2009 (Sony won’t commit to a date, so I will for them!), what are you left with on your Kindle?

Just your undisciplined desire for NowNowNow and nothing else.

Now you’ve been warned.