Tag Archives: ebooks

Why eBooks are backwards still in 2015

I was very early when it came to eBooks. I had one of the first e-ink devices from Sony even. And by early I am talking about the year the original Kindle even out. (Sony PRS-505 I believe is the model) This was a time period where page turns were measured in seconds and nobody was talking about backlighting e-ink or high resolution. Back then though there was something very different. You wouldn’t buy an eReader based on the store (unless you bought the Kindle) it supported. I mean when it came to stores Sony’s was really never good. The difference was that Sony could play books from pretty much every store online (not Amazon but who cared since Amazon barely had any eBooks at that pooint) now a bunch of those was through some crazy Adobe DRM scheme or you had to find some DRM free books.

Now this may not sound very different but lets look at where we sit today. Now we are down to two major eBook stores. Ok there is Kobo but they really aren’t as big. The only real players anymore are Amazon and Apple. Now why does this really suck? I mean you can read your Amazon books on pretty much any platform and Apple well those can be read on a bunch. The real issue in my mind is the book stores have moved 100% cloud based. Ask anyone how to get the ePub from Apple or the Kindle azw. I can promise you nobody knows how. Most don’t even realize there are alternative readers like the Kobo which while sounding pretty cool is just the 3rd of the evils in this whole fight.

So why does this matter? Lets start by talking about issues with the two main platforms first.

Amazon

Now Amazon has always been the lockdown king. They started with mobi and have only gotten worse when it comes to DRM. To make matters worse Amazon eBooks seem to be horrible formatted and any older ones are in a pretty sad state when it comes to editing. Why is this? It really seems like Amazon wants quantity and really doesn’t care if it looks all that good. I mean look at the Kindle fonts and app. It would be awesome if they would give us one amazing font and a clean app. I mean its 2015 and I have a tablet or phone why is it I CANNOT scroll through a book? Really I still have to flip pages on a phone? This isn’t an e-ink device I have to wait a second to render the screen. And on the Kindle devices why such big margins? It’s not paper Amazon the text can goto the edge of the screen and my fingers wont go over the text (unless I’m holding it wrong).

Apple

Apple is also a lockdown king. I mean you still have to authorize your computers for iTunes. The craziest thing though about Apple’s eBooks is that you CANNOT read them on non-Apple devices! Now why would I want Apple’s eBooks in the first place. I mean it’s so locked down. First off it has scrolling which call me crazy but it changes how you read a book when you can just keep scrolling till you get to the end. Second, they are the only company which seems to realize now that we have HiDPI screens we can have some amazing fonts and that formatting matters. Apple eBooks generally have seemed better put together and they do something really crazy they seem to update more. Now this could be that I have just more recently bought Apple eBooks that are more popular then the books I got while using the kindles. Third, did I mention you can scroll in their app instead of flipping pages? Crazy I know!

So basically Amazon has some great e-ink devices which really need a UI expert (all the e-ink devices have needed this since they got HiDPI screens). At the same time I could live with Apple if it played in more places. But overall the issues comes down to one think DRM and the lack of easy exporting has made the whole ecosystem worse. Vendor lock-in is horrible. I mean I have book in Kobo (Sony books transferred there), Amazon and Apple along with some random publishers who are awesome to distribute DRM-free eBooks. If there was just a way for me to pull down an epub even if it had to be authorized would be awesome. (Part of Apple’s formatting advantage is epub)

So eBooks are backwards since they haven’t picked up on what saved the music industry with DRM-free music. If you really want to read eBooks try and find a DRM-free source of epubs. That is the best long term option to speak with your wallet. As for what to do right now if just must jump into the DRM lake? Well if you got a iPhone and iPad personally I would with iBooks but just cause it is a better experience for me. If you’re using Android or really paranoid about switching (and don’t care about scrolling) jump on Amazon. I mean the only reason I would avoid eBooks right now is just cause you have to choose one which sucks.

Advertisement

Will the Kindle DX change the way we look at books?

Amazon pulls out a really interesting release with the Kindle DX. While there were rumors of a larger Kindle I don’t ever remember reading about native PDF support. This is the big killer for it. On a 9.7-inch screen with native PDF support that means you no longer need a printer to view your PDF on a shit of … well e-ink paper. Sure this all sounds amazing. What we don’t see here though is the one most important feature that Amazon is still lacking! WHERE IS ePUB SUPPORT!!! I fear for the future of ebooks if Amazon is the leader and from the looks of it is actively trying to KILL off what was created to be the standard ebook format! The only result of what is currently going on is Amazon will take over with its proprietary format or PDFs will become the main eBook style which would suck as well as they do not scale well. I guess though the real question is how will Schools and newspaper companies use this. The Kindle DX could easily be used to provide very cheap newspaper subscriptions and by this I mean cheaper for both the consumer and the newspaper companies which would have a better chance to stay alive if they didn’t have to deliver which would probably lower their prices into the ranges people are more willing to pay. On this larger screen it would become much more usable for reading like a newspaper. In schools the question is can students soon start just getting an ebook version of some textbooks? This should help save money on textbooks but more importantly reduce backpack weight which has been a rising problem for students. I really think the Kindle DX could be the first on the way to really changing the way we read on a large scale but do we need another iTunes repeat? Cause that is where we are currently going.

Links:

btw: The iTunes analogy works on more then one level. First, DRM vs non-DRM which took way to long to win for music. Second, iTunes uses AAC instead of the defacto standard MP3 where ePub is the actual standard and Amazon goes on with its perversion of the mobi format.

Sony expands ebook library by deal with Google

In an interesting move Sony has made another large push into the ebook market. This most likely caused by the challenge of Amazon’s Kindle which has most likely surpassed the Sony eReaders in sales in its first year. By adding Google’s public domain books to its ebook store Sony’s store has surpassed Amazon’s with Sony’s store reaching over 600,000 books (thanks entirely too Google’s 500,000 books). Sony has been lagging behind Amazon since the Kindle came out when it comes to the number of books in its book store. This is most likely because Amazon has been very good at getting much better deals with publishers and I would not be surprised if Amazon has been trying to prevent the books they carry from being sold in other stores. Of course these books from Google could all be read on a Kindle the thing is that Amazon has no direct way yet to download the books. Plus some of these books Amazon is selling a more expensive version of the same book on their site and so I wonder if these will ever be brought to the Kindle Store for free? I doubt they will at this time but who knows. The more interesting thing here is Sony is doing a good job on working on improving their customers experience in finding more books. I personally think the Sony Readers are superior to the Kindle the only problem now is that Sony needs to really work on fixing up its eBook Library program which feels like it has come from the 90s. This move though still makes me really happy as it proves Sony is not abandoning its eBook Reader market.

Links:

Brick and mortar book stores jumping on the ebook bandwagon.

Amazon was the first major bookseller to jump on the ebook bandwagon but now we are seeing Barnes & Noble join Amazon with the acquisition of Fictionwise. This can only mean good things as currently vendor lock in is being attempted by Amazon. Barnes & Noble does not directly make a ebook reader though I have heard that they sell Sony Readers. This hopefully means that the idea of walking into a bookstore and buying ebooks will be closer and hopefully means we will have at least another option of major retailer pushing ebooks. Also Fictionwise has been one of the biggest online ebook retailers for awhile now and tries to do multiple formats for books as much as possible unlike Mobipocket which Amazon bough which only releases books in the mobi format. Hopefully Barnes & Noble will use its position to push for more epub support if it has DRM support or not I really don’t care I just am hoping to see a good standard format win the format war.

Links:

Amazon releases Kindle app for iPhone

Amazon has released a Kindle application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. This will allow people access to the Amazon library from their iPhone and iPod Touch expanding the kindle library to a much larger amount of users. At the same time this si kind of problematic if you do not support drm with ebooks. The problem is also with the fact that this will further expanding Amazons messed up format that is based off the mobi format. Personally I am hoping that Amazon starts releasing  books in epub format soon I really do not care if there is drm or not but come on Amazon support what is considered the standard for ebooks. So in the end a good move for iPhone and iPod Touch users but rather disappointing when it comes drm and format support.

Links:

Good Gizmoto article on ebook readers

Gizmodo ran a good article called “Giz explains why there isn’t a perfect ebook reader” which talks about the future of ebooks. It does a good job of explaining the current state of ebooks. The only mistake I think that is made is that he just believes the LCD manufactures about the idea that these LCDs would actually give e-ink a run for its money. I doubt this since first off books are different then most other viewing devices. At least I know that when I sit down to read a book I don’t want any distractions. Why would i want to read books on my phone? I don’t want my book to start ringing! Also something left out from this article is how much e-ink looks like real paper this is the killer for LCD’s. Reading documents may be better on your eyes but what about when people prefer the paper look? I know I prefer it. Really what I am seeing here is the LCD industry talking vaporware just like Microsoft did in the 90s. “Oh yeah we got something better and cheaper!” I highly doubt they will be able to beat e-ink to the punch mostly because of the fact that LCD’s battery use can never be as low as e-ink which only refreshes when something changes (for reading a book this doesn’t happen that often) unlike LCDs which waste huge amounts of energy to read a book on.

Kindle 2 Announced

So finally Amazon has announced the Kindle 2 which I wrote about eariler as the way for ebooks to main mainstream. This is looking more and more possible since not only is the screen better with 16 scales of grey and 20% faster screen change time. Also the new Kindle 2 looks better with a more sleek design with it being thinner and lighter. The only really bad thing I see with it is no SD card slot anymore so hopefully you don’t need more then the 1.4 gigs of usable space. Mind you 1.4 gigs is a lot of space for books but if you start throwing Audible books on there too it might get full alot faster.

Overall I think my earlier prediction that Kindle 2 will make ebooks mainstream is going to be true. I just hope that I can find the money to get one sometime soon and I hope that they will not be continuously out of them with the Kindle 2 (sorry Amazon but when your trying to sell a million a year you have to keep it in stock to reach that goal!). Links to reviews follow.

P/Reviews:

eWeek

ars technica

PC Magazine

Links:

Kindle on Amazons site!

Maybe the Kindle will bring ebooks mainstream!

So now according to AllThingsDigital Citi is claiming that Amazon has sold 500,000 kindles in 2008. That is quite a huge number for a product that when it came out ebooks were thought to never be able to really take off. Back when the Kindle was released e-ink paper was brought up in the mainstream media every few months as a “maybe this will save newspapers” solution but then the Kindle came out. The Kindle if you don’t know allow a person to have the days newspaper every morning when you wake up. And you don’t even need to leave your house to get it in paper (well e-ink) form! This of course costs more then using your computer but your getting the full newspaper delivered to you thanks to Amazons Whispernet (read sprint) before you wake up most likely. Now that is convince. Plus it wont hurt your eyes like a computer screen or smear ink all over your hands like a newspaper normally. I for one cannot wait for the Kindle to get more affordable. The only real problem with the Kindle is the fact that all the books come with DRM but that is mostly caused by very scared publishers worried they are going to loose money to pirates. So who wants to bet the Kindle 2 will come out with a price drop and more attempts by Amazon to mainstream its use. Of course Amazon hopefully will have by then gotten their supply issues solved by then! If not we could just see a delay in ebooks only because of supply issues now that is really sad!