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The late 2008 E Ink Readers

When I was at RWA, I had the opportunity to see the Kindle and the new Sony Reader with booklight and the Asus EEE PC. These are all viable ebook readers that you can purchase today, along with my personal favorite, the iTouch/iPhone.

Neither the Kindle nor the Reader is a perfect device and frankly, I don’t know if there is a perfect device in the near future. The perfect device has the instantaneous purchase ability of the Kindle with the versality and look of the Reader. The keyboard of the Kindle is quite nice as is the ability to highlight and annotate. The Reader’s lightwedge style booklight accessory provided two levels of brightness for the light flooding the surface of the screen. It’s a perfect look and fit that the Kindle doesn’t have.

Last week, though, I said that if you were interested in eBook readers you should wait until October. The reason for this is that there are fairly credible rumors that Amazon is going to release an updated Kindle. I find the report a bit odd given that the Kindle was released in mid November of 2007. It would make more sense for the Kindle 2.0 to be released a full year later rather than eleven months later, but, having said that, let’s take a look at the rumor which surfaced at CrunchGear.

There are two “new” Amazon Kindles to appear for this holiday season, the first to appear in October. Given that the Kindle was released mid November 2007, I suspect it’s latter October rather than early October. The first is supposed to be the Kindle 2.0 with “same sized screen, a smaller form factor, and an improved interface”. The second is a larger Kindle, “shaped like an 8 1/2 x 11-inch piece of paper”, and due out in 2009. Both models are purported to come in more colors than the white and possibly aimed at the younger reader. E textbooks have increased 400% and thus Amazon’s marketing toward the student crowd may make perfect sense.

Generally speaking, the eink screen clarity is not going to vary from device to device because there is only one manufacturer doing eink screens at this point (due to patents). Therefore, it might make sense to the wallet to wait for an Astak ebook Reader . Astak is offering three different eink reading devices, a 5″, a 6″ and a 9.7” that features a screen size the same as an 8/5″ x 11″ sheet of paper. The 9.7″ inch has wi fi and a touch screen. Wi fi and touchscreen is optional on the 6″ and not available on the 5″ one. All three devices read the following formats: TXT, PDF, RTF, HTML/CHM; and have the ability to play MP3s. The drawback, and I think is increasingly a drawback, the device cannot read secure DRM files.

It is said that Astak is going to make its products available in Wal-mart and Costcos. Astak does have a distributor relationship with those retailers for other devices so it is a possibility. The first Astak, the 5″ one, was supposed to be on sale in August but the release date has been pushed back to October. The interesting thing about the Astek is that it runs on a Windows CE platform.   Note according to the guys at MobileRead, only the larger devices will run Windows CE.   The 5″ one runs on Linux. Mobipocket, Adobe, eReader, and MS Lit both had readers compatible with Windows CE. It is conceivable then, that the issue with the formats could be resolved if there was some way to install those programs on an Astak device.

There are currently several eink devices on the market:

  • Kindle ($349 with cellular access * 6″ screen * MS Word, html, txt, prc and mobi (unsecured unless you know how to hack), mp3 and audible, pdf * SD card)
  • Sony Reader ($299 * 6″ screen* Sony, Adobe/PDF (secure and unsecure), txt, rtf, MS word, mp3, aac * Sony Memory Stick and SD card)
  • Rex Iliad ($599 or $699 with wi fi capabilities * 8.1″ Touchscreen * Mobipocket (both secure and unsecure), html, txt, pdf, mp3 * MMC or CF card)
  • Cybook ($350 * 6″ screen * Mobipocket (both secure and unsecure),
    PalmDoc, html, txt, pdf (unsecure), mp3 * SD card)
  • BeBook ($349 * 6″ screen * pdf, doc, txt, rtf, MS lit, html, djvu, chm, fb2 * SD card)

Until the Astak comes out, the Sony is the best buy for the money unless you want instantaneous access to an online bookstore (and truly that is a seductive feature) but it may make sense to wait for the Astak which is supposed to be sub $200 for the 5″ screen and comparable with the Sony Reader for the 6″ screen + wifi and touchscreen capabilities. Additionally, if the Kindle is really going to release an updated version, it makes sense to wait until October or November to see what it has up its sleeve. At the very least, if the Kindle does upgrade, you would be able to pick up a used Kindle off the secondary market for less than the current retail price.   Additional Note: Angie James and I browsed through a book on both the Reader and the Kindle and the Kindle does have a slightly faster refresh rate.

What is in the future for eReading devices? e Ink appears to be the best technology for ereading so long as there is adequate lighting. Sony’s beautiful e ink reading light is a step in the right direction.

The perfect device is not immediately on the horizon is because Kindle’s instantaneous purchase ability (which is really seductive) is only possible through a) a free cellular service for each user and b) through access to online content.

It’s possible that Apple, a device manufacturer, has the ability to create a competing content + device marriage akin to the Kindle. There are rumors that Apple is bringing a mini touchpad device to market, something larger than an iPhone, has wifi and cellular capabilities, a touch screen, and an Apple OS. If that happens, a reader could obviously buy eReader books. If Apple does try to enter the ebook market, I forsee it doing it one of two ways. Either it will introduce yet another DRM wrapper into the market or go DRM free. I believe that the former is more likely.

Apple’s only other choice is to partner with an existing content provider such as Fictionwise (ereader) or Adobe. It is unlikely to be able to partner with Mobipocket as that is owned by Amazon. Apple hasn’t had a past history of partnering with content providers, instead preferring to provide its own content with its own special DRM wrapper. Having said that, a larger iPhone/iTouch is intriguing and while I am tempted by both the Kindle and the Sony with its fancy booklight, I am waiting until January to see what Apple might have up its sleeve.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

120 Comments

  1. J L Wilson
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 07:01:03

    I have a Kindle and an Ebookwise (and used to have an old REB 1200 and still have a NEC 790) and I have an Asus, Palm TX, and Ipod. I really miss the touchscreen capability on the Kindle when reading ebooks. I’m finding, more and more, that I prefer the touchscreen interface. It can sometimes be awkward to use, but no more than a mouse can be awkward sometimes, too.

    I got the Kindle as a gift from my DH (I’m an ebook author and he felt I need an excellent ebook device on which to see my books. Can’t argue with that logic). I was tempted by the Sony and probably would have bought one had I not been given the Kindle. The instant purchase power is awesome. I’ve tried out more authors because of it than I would ever do in a bookstore (just as I’ve tried out more music because of my Ipod than I would ever do in a music store).

    I’ll be curious to see what comes down the pike in the next few years. With more textbooks, etc., going digital, I think the impetus is there to expand the technology. It promises to be interesting ….

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  2. Shiloh Walker
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 07:31:07

    Until the Astak comes out, the Sony is the best buy for the money unless you want instantaneous access to an online bookstore (and truly that is a seductive feature)

    I love my Sony and don’t really miss the ability to instantly purchase at all. In all honestly, the last thing I need is the ability to purchase things instantly-that on the go impulse would have me broke. Buying for my Sony, I’m sitting at my PC, I can check out the author websites, make sure I really want the book that caught my interest, etc.

    Not to mention that the Kindle doesn’t work well in all places.

    But I gotta admit, the Astak’s touch screen sounds very appealing. ;)

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  3. Keishon
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 08:19:40

    I’m waiting for that article where you say this is the perfect device for ebook readers: BUY NOW. Otherwise, I’m throwing my hat in with Apple, too. They have the ability to create a device that can blow the Kindle out of the water.

    I read somewhere that Best Buy will be selling the iPhone. I can’t help but think that with the millions of new iPhone users out there, surely, there will be more ebook readers since there is Stanza app for MAC users only, eReader app and Bookshelf app for the iPhone.

    If I did buy an ebook reader today, it would be Cybook.

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  4. Jessica
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 09:08:46

    Thanks for this update. I am on the fence, but I don’t think I can wait until January. I hope the rumors about a new Kindle are true, because although I cannot use the wireless feature where I live (the boonies), it will work with my Macbook, which Sony’s won’t.

    And yes, Best Buy will start selling the Iphone in September, although AT&T service is not 3G speed where I live, and is actually spotty at best.

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  5. Hilcia
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 09:32:45

    Thank you for this information. I’m a MacNut and I’ve been wondering if Apple had anything at all on the works as far as eReaders go — I’ll definitely be waiting until January to see if they come up with it! Yesssss.

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  6. Janine
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 09:44:23

    Jane — If Apple comes out with a device, is it likely to use the e-ink technology?

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  7. Keishon
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 09:46:29

    I take that back about Cybook. There’s nothing out there I want right now.

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  8. roslynholcomb
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 10:16:49

    This past weekend I finally got a chance to play with the iPhone. OHMIGOD. (Yeah, I know I’m late. What else is new?) I didn’t think I’d be able to read on that small screen, but it was fine. I will definitely be waiting to see what Apple comes up with. They rarely miss and always create things that are user-friendly. Crucial for me. Besides the hubster refuses to buy anything that ISN’T Apple, so there you go.

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  9. Michael
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 10:25:04

    I would find it unlikely that Apple will introduce a dedicated ebook reader, since this is what Steve Jobs had to say about the Kindle “It doesn't matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don't read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don't read anymore.” (http://tinyurl.com/yoj5mc).
    Though a new device like a tablet macbook that would work as an ebook reader is certainly a possibilty. Though you would be looking at an LCD screen and not e-ink in that case.

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  10. Teddypig
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 10:25:28

    I have been upset this year that the Panasonic Words Gear just never made it over to this side of the ocean and then they stopped production.
    I liked that it was multi-function AND supported Adobe PDF DRM.

    BUT Sony made a smart move recently with their eReader also supporting the Adobe PDF DRM format which was also updated by Adobe to allow flowing text and several more viewing options.

    This development actually left the Kindle behind since it still only supports it’s particular flavor of DRM.

    So at this point I would either purchase the Sony eReader or continue to support the iPhone and the awesome potential it has despite it’s small screen.

    With the iPhone you can use the Fictionwise Reader App and then buy your books through them or you can simply buy books directly from the iTunes store and install them individually through the application area on iTunes which has even more possibilities for eBook Publishers who might not want to be limited to Fictionwise formats and delivery.

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  11. Keishon
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 10:51:05

    So at this point I would either purchase the Sony eReader or continue to support the iPhone and the awesome potential it has despite it's small screen.

    I’m thinking of purchasing the Sony eReader since it has a backlight now. I do a lot of reading at night and mostly during the day. I also have the iPhone so I think I’d be happy with them both :-)

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  12. Trumystique
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 12:08:29

    Oh the confusion!!! I was almost ready to buy the Sony Reader. What excites me is the form factor, the new PDF reflow ability and ability to use Overdrive. I dont care about wifi cause I am not an impulse book buyer. Plus I read alot from the library and read lots of medical journals.

    My other option was the iPhone. And the only reason to get the iPhone was for its ebook reading capability. I am pretty much a gadget phobe so have an ipod but only use it at home and have the cheapest cell phone and refused to get a Blackberry (because do I really NEED to be reachable all the time?). Anyway the iPhone seemed attractive cause I could read ebooks and also do other stuff. Doing Other Stuff seems important since I am not yet reconciled on blowing more than $100 on myself. But I still cant believe folk who say that reading on the iPhone is a comfortable as reading a paperback. My hope is to be able to fiddle about with it since my sister just got one for her birthday.

    Anyone else want to comment- should I wait or should I go for it?

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  13. Jane
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 12:13:38

    Janine – no I suspect any future Apple device would be LCD.

    Trumystique – I really enjoy reading on my iPhone and when I had both the Sony Reader and the iPhone, I ended up sending my Sony to a friend (Jayne). She has read on both a small device and a larger one so she might be able to provide some perspective.

    The real reason that I stopped reading on the Sony Reader was because I read most of the time in bed and could not do so with the Sony Reader without a booklight and I had a real problem finding a booklight that worked. Most booklights left a pinpoint glare on the screen that required me to maneuver the device one way or another.

    The Kindle’s advantages, besides the instant on, is the ability to email one’s self and have the Kindle software (at the Amazon server) convert it and deliver it straight to the Kindle. I know, though, that this is dependent on the cellular service and when it is down or you are in an area that does not have Sprint service, the immediate access is not available to you.

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  14. Keishon
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 12:15:30

    I still cant believe folk who say that reading on the iPhone is a comfortable as reading a paperback.

    It’s not that comfortable. I love reading on it, don’t get me wrong but to buy an iPhone just to read ebooks on it – er no. That’s just my opinion, others may feel differently.

    I see Jane chimed in too.

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  15. cecilia
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 12:26:06

    I used to do most of my e-book reading on a desktop PC, with some on a pocket PC (iPAQ). This year, I bought a Cybook and love the e-ink. You’d have to pay me to read on a iPhone. I don’t care about backlighting – I don’t expect tree-books to be readable in the dark, and find gazing at a glowing thing with darkness all around to be hard on the eyes. I also like Mobipocket the best, and found that all my old (non-secure) PDF books transferred well into prc files, and they’re getting new life on my Cybook (yay).

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  16. SonomaLass
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 13:45:50

    I’m still reading ebooks on my Mac laptop, in PDF, and likely to keep doing so for now. I was lusting after an iPhone, but then the kids bought me a Blackberry for my birthday. I’m several generations behind on my iPod, but I just don’t use it that much. Not on the cutting edge of technology, me.

    I firmly believe that ebooks are the future, but not until some things get settled by the marketplace. I don’t think the transition will be all that fast, either, and so I’m content to come behind the curve.

    I think it is great that Jane does all this research and posts helpful updates and comparisons. It’s a fabulous service to those of us without the time, inclination or skills to figure all this out.

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  17. Janine
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 14:00:27

    Janine – no I suspect any future Apple device would be LCD.

    I don’t know if I’d be interested in it then. I really lust for something with e-ink.

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  18. Collette
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 14:33:21

    Thanks Jane for this update. Great information! I just bought a Sony Reader a week or so ago and was worried that maybe I’d done it too quickly after I read your hint last week. I now feel pretty confident about my selection. I really like it despite the fact that I have a Mac (I run Windows parallel on my Mac and that’s how I transfer files).

    I purchased a Mighty Bright flex light which I like a lot. I haven’t noticed a pinpoint beam and I was looking for it. Not a lot of glare and it’s about $17 bucks on Amazon. I don’t know if this is one you’ve tried yet but you might take a look at it.

    It helps to be okay with my decision when my husband says, well, nobody says you can’t have more than one! (Yeah, I think I’ll keep him. Mostly I think that.)

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  19. Midknyt
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 16:13:34

    After a lot of anguish over the options I bought a Sony in June, and I’m very happy with it. With using programs like ConvertLIT and Calibre I can buy pretty much any book I like and read it on my Sony (and they are really easy to use if you are scared, like I was). Also, with the new PDF fix I’m able to check out ebooks from the library – I have the whole Twilight series on my reader for free for three weeks. The format isn’t quite as nice as the ebooks I’ve paid for, but it’s still good, and for free I can’t complain.

    As far as the light goes, I was working at a camp and reading it with my headlamp on works just fine, but the new light looks nice.

    Also, until September 30th, if you buy a reader and register it at sonystyle.com, you get 100 free classics to get you started. You don’t have to buy from them either – I got mine for $200 new on, ironically, Amazon Marketplace, and was able to get the free classics as well. You can also get a lot of free books on Mobile Read too.

    Not that I’m happy with my Sony or anything. ;)

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  20. Meriam
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 16:25:23

    I just ordered a Sony reader (finally available in the UK). It was spur of the moment, and I have a Mac, so I’m not sure it was the greatest idea, but… but I’m really excited!

    Everything I’ve read on this thread is very reassuring, although largely unintelligible (the techno-speak, I mean).

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  21. DMcCunney
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 16:36:55

    Personally, I read ebooks on a Palm OS PDA. Dedicated readers are all very well, but I require color (not currently supported on eInk devices), and the ability to do other things *besides* read ebooks.

    My question in which reader to buy would come down to what I wanted to read, and whether it was available in a format that reader supported.

    The Kindle, for example, uses ebooks in the Mobipocket format (and amazon owns Mobipocket.) While Amazon offers superior prices on Kindle titles, you have to have a Kindle to buy them. And while the Kindle can also read Mobipocket format books from elsewhere, you can only do so with books not protected by DRM. Amazon uses a different DRM scheme than their own subsidiary, so you can’t read a DRM Mobipocket title purchased elsewhere on the Kindle (unless you want to hack and break the DRM.)

    The Sony Reader handles Sony’s LRF format, and a recent firmware update adds ePub to the list, plus improvements in PDF display, but there isn’t very much currently available in ePub format, and PDFs are still problematic. Most are not created with the tagging that lets them reflow to fit a smaller device screen..

    We need the dust to settle, and everyone to settle on and support a common ebook format, so we can read any title on whatever device we happen to have, and we need DRM which will let us do that.

    I have about 3,500 ebooks on my device, in a variety of formats, and one strength of my solution is that I *can* read pretty much any format. The screen is smaller (320×480), and backlit LCD, but battery life is good enough to keep it going all day, it charges at night, and I’m comfortable reading on the screen.

    I *don’t* buy DRM protected titles, but there is far more that I *want* to read available in unprotected form than I have time for, so I’m not really missing out on anything.

    I’m staying put, thanks.

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  22. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 17:12:43

    Last Thursday, I broke my ebookwise, so I’m in mourning. Currently I’m reading on my old Palm VX, but I have an Ipaq coming my way, which should do for now. I would buy the Sony, which is finally going to be available in the UK, but at £199, it’s a bit steep.
    We really need that sub $100 ebook reader. I think the ebookwise still holds magic for me, but they don’t sell them in the UK, so I might opt to manage with my little Asus and my Ipaq until I get over to the US next year.

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  23. Jayne
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 17:56:31

    I love the screen size of the Sony but was doing just fine with the old IPAQ that Jane loaned me. However, even the IPAQ screen was larger than the iphone. I can’t imagine reading on something that small and would hate to have to flip the page or advance the text or whatever you have to do with it. Since I only used the IPAQ to read books, it wasn’t a hardship for me to go to the dedicated ereader Sony.

    Midknyt, I’m like you in that I haven’t found it a hardship to find formats I can read on it. It does take longer to convert and load ebooks onto the Sony than onto the IPAQ but it doesn’t take that much extra time.

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  24. Jane
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 18:12:39

    You can use the Sony with a MAC if you use non DRM’ed ebooks and an SD card. I.e., you can put an RTF or Adobe book on an SD card from your MAC and it will be recognized by the Reader.

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  25. Kaetrin
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 18:13:32

    Hi, I would love to get an ereader of some kind but, being in Australia, it seems my options are limited. Do you know what is available in Australia and, if so, what would you recommend? Is Amazon planning to release the kindle outside the US?
    My bookshelves are too full and I like the idea of getting an ereader instead of new furniture!

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  26. Miki
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 18:18:46

    Astak is offering three different eink reading devices, a 5″, a 6″ and a 9.7” that features a screen size the same as an 8/5″ x 11″ sheet of paper. The 9.7″ inch has wi fi and a touch screen. Wi fi and touchscreen is optional on the 6″ and not available on the 5″ one. All three devices read the following formats: TXT, PDF, RTF, HTML/CHM; and have the ability to play MP3s. The drawback, and I think is increasingly a drawback, the device cannot read secure DRM files.

    Jane, is this bit about not being able to read DRM new?

    There are whole threads over at mobileread.com about this reader. Astak’s owner has been fairly vocal over there. The last I heard, there would be two variations (of each of the 3 sizes). I can’t remember what they were naming them, but one would be able to read DRM’d eReader format, and one would be able to read DRM’d Mobipocket. They had to do it that way because Amazon will not allow DRM Mobipocket on any dedicated ebook device that shares another DRM format.

    (It’s likely that Cybook will never offer the Adobe Digital Editions for that same reason).

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  27. Janine
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 18:20:47

    I read ebooks on a Dell Axim 51V PDA. It does have advantages like being easy to use and working with many formats, as well as having other functions like playing music, doubling as a GPS, etc. Although I’m not really sure if that’s a plus or a minus since my significant other often borrows it to listen to music.

    I’m not crazy about the size of the screen, either, so I really hear you, Jayne, when it comes to iphones and flipping pages. I find that most of the time I opt for reading paper books over ebooks because I have such a strong preference for the look and feel of paper, and I wonder whether or not e-ink would make the difference for me.

    I hate to say this but I’m feeling the lure of the dark side (Kindle) since I think the ability to purchase the books when I want to read them would actually save me $$ in the long run. Right now I do most of my book shopping online and I often add books to my order to qualify for free shipping. I end up with more books than I can possibly read cluttering my home, but it gives me a very good feeling to know that I have so many books to choose from.

    If I could have that same feeling of having a large selection of books right at my fignertips, as well as get books at online prices one at a time without paying for shipping or too much hassle, and then be able to read them on an e-ink device — well, it’s prettty tempting.

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  28. Lam
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 18:22:21

    I have the same problem as Kaetrin…except I’m in Canada. The sony ereader was just released here in April, and that it definitely what I’m leaning to at the moment. But I find it frustrating that we still don’t have access to the Kindle. The ease and speed of the Kindle’s book buying system is extremely appealing. Hopefully (though I don’t hold out much hope due to licensing and publishing agreements) we in the great white north will see some sort of kindle soon.

    I did have a question though, is there any downside to the Sony reader in terms of being in Canada? or are we Canucks still able to access all of the same content as in America?

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  29. Jane
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 18:28:23

    Miki – I got the specs off the Astak website so I stand corrected on the DRM issue. I think that any device today has to be able to read a DRM’ed ebook because of the technical hoops that one has to jump through in order to read the non DRM.

    For Australia, I know that there was a version of the Iliad released over there from Dymocks. Otherwise, you could get the Cybook which is actually a French manufacturer. I think that company ships worldwide.

    Have no idea about the international accessibility of the Kindle.

    Janine – I’ve thought all day that the Kindle might be the best for you because it wouldn’t require you to fiddle with any conversion software.

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  30. BevQB
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 19:16:41

    I’ve got an HP iPaq and have had one brand or another of PDAs for a few years now. One advantage of NOT having direct download like the Kindle is that I download ebooks to my desktop first before downloading to my PDA. So I always have a backup on my desktop (and on my desktop’s backup media) and it means I can just delete ebooks from my PDA when I am done (unlike my desktop, I prefer to keep my PDA clutter free). So, to me, direct download really won’t affect my purchasing decision.

    However, my tired old eyes just can’t handle that little PDA screen anymore and I HATE reading off my desktop or laptop. In fact, my ebook reading is down to nothing lately. ::WHIMPER::

    So it’s time for e-ink. But as it stands now, I’m holding out for an Astek with Windows CE– mainly because of the ability to read multiple formats.

    MIKI and/or Jane: any word on whether Microsoft has finally given the go ahead to Astek to support .LIT files? I have hundreds (thousands?) of ebooks in .LIT. I REALLY don’t want to have to convert them to re-read them.

    Barring that happy occurence (which may not matter anyhow if DRM reading capabilities aren’t supported), what software do you recommend for converting .LIT files to… uh… whatever. (GAK! I hate navigating anything but .LIT/MSReader so I don’t even know what format I’d want to convert to). I use ABC Amber to convert PDF to .LIT and it really screws it up (page breaks in the middle of the screen, hidden MSWord fields displayed). So I’m hoping to get some conversion software recs from users who are happy(ier) with their converted formats.

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  31. Tinabelle
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 19:31:50

    I am not sure why some people refer to the Kindle as “the dark side,” but I am there and loving it. I purchased my Kindle in May primarily for the e-ink technology and the ability to download books instantly, bypassing the computer completely. I am a low-level technology person and the ease of use appealed to me. I am unlike others who want a device that does all sorts of things. My biggest fear is that the Kindle will become a multifunctional, complicated device.

    I love reading on my Kindle and find it awkward now when I do read a hard copy of a book. There is no eyestrain like you get on a computer. The battery lasts for days. I have been very happy with the book selection and the prices; most, but not all, of the the books I want are available in a Kindle edition. My fantasy is that any book published will be available for the Kindle. I wasn’t aware that the Sony worked with a Mac, but that is good to know. Right now, the Kindle meets my e-reading needs.

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  32. Marcus
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 19:40:04

    I don’t consider it a drawback to not support digital restrictions management. (And c’mon, let’s call DRM-infested files by what they really are, namely restricted, not “protected” or “secured”!)
    In fact, everyone who buys DRM-restricted ebooks are collectively ruining it for everyone, and in the long run even for the whole ebook industry. If you absolutely feel that you have to buy some DRM-restricted ebooks then you should at least have the decency to crack it and upload it to some file sharing site, just to hasten the end of such anti-progress, anti-mankind shenanigans that DRM is.

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  33. Janine
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 19:49:33

    Thanks Jane — I really appreciate the advice. I will definitely wait for late October to see what new Kindles Amazon has up its sleeve before I get something more.

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  34. azteclady
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 19:51:39

    you should at least have the decency to crack it and upload it to some file sharing site

    Decency–I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    So-called “file sharing” sites deprive the authors of their royalties. In my book that’s quite far on the other side of the spectrum from “decent”

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  35. Janine
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 19:54:01

    I am not sure why some people refer to the Kindle as “the dark side,”

    Mainly because if I understand correctly (please do correct me if I am wrong), books I purchase using the Kindle can’t be transferred to other devices. That means that if I buy a Kindle, my e-library will be dependent on Amazon and I will be married to Kindle devices as long as I want to be able to read those books I have purchased using the Kindle.

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  36. DMcCunney
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 20:09:14

    @Janine
    “Mainly because if I understand correctly (please do correct me if I am wrong), books I purchase using the Kindle can't be transferred to other devices.”

    You’re correct, for titles protected by DRM. The DRM relies on a PID unique to your device. Amazon used a different DRM method than Mobipocket, so you can’t read DRM protected Mobipocket titles in the Kindle, and you can’t read titles purchased for the Kindle on anything else. They are locked to the Kindle.

    This does not apply to Mobipocket format titles not protected by DRM: those can be read on anything supports the Mobipocket format, including the Bookeen Cybook reader, and PCs, Palm OS and Windows Mobile PDAs, Symbian smartphones, and Blackberries, all of which have a Mobipocket reader version available.

    But yes, ebooks you buy from Amazon are locked to the Kindle, and that sort of vendor lock-in is the intent. If all you ever intend to use is a Kindle, and all of th3e content you want to read is available from Amazon, that may be acceptable to you. It’s not acceptable to me.

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  37. Marcus
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 20:13:22

    So-called “file sharing” sites deprive the authors of their royalties.

    No, they don’t. At least not directly, and there’s plenty of evidence supporting that they don’t indirectly either. But that wasn’t my point. My point was that selling tons of DRM-infested ebooks to the public is anti-progress and anti-mankind (this isn’t the place to go into the various downsides to restricting documents, but you shouldn’t have any problem googling for it if you’re interested) and will only hurt the whole ebook industry. We really need to get the industry to stop DRM-infesting their goods if we want there to be books in the future as well. The downsides of file sharing networks (if there really would be any) are tiny compared to the downsides of DRM. So, even assuming file sharing would be bad it’d still be the lesser evil, and thus it’s the decent choice. (And here I’m not advocating file sharing non-DRM’ed books.)

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  38. DMcCunney
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 20:14:34

    @Marcus
    “If you absolutely feel that you have to buy some DRM-restricted ebooks then you should at least have the decency to crack it and upload it to some file sharing site, just to hasten the end of such anti-progress, anti-mankind shenanigans that DRM is.”
    That sort of action is precisely what those who impose DRM are trying to prevent, and why they impose it in the first place. By doing so, you are adding fuel to that particular fire, not helping to put it out.

    Better to refuse to buy DRM protected titles, and to tell the publishers you are refusing to do so, and why. (I suggest an old-fashioned written letter, sent by snail-mail, to the CEO at the publisher. That carries a weight electronic communications don’t, even if you knew the right email address to send to.)

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  39. Marcus
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 20:21:39

    [cracking and sharing DRM'ed ebooks] is precisely what those who impose DRM are trying to prevent, and why they impose it in the first place.

    Exactly, and therefore we need to show them that DRM’ed ebooks get pirated MORE than non-DRM’ed ones. That convinces them more than thousands of snail-mailed letters.

    Better to refuse to buy DRM protected titles

    That was my first suggestion. I only suggested cracking and file sharing it if you absolutely had to “buy” something DRM-restricted.

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  40. An Overview of Six E-book Readers « Decoding the Kindle
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 20:28:41

    [...] a Catalyst for the Kindle? An Overview of Six E-book Readers August 18, 2008 In the latest post over at Dear Author, several e-book readers are featured in a detailed overview. They’ve done quite a nice job of [...]

  41. DMcCunney
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 20:38:19

    @Marcus
    “Exactly, and therefore we need to show them that DRM'ed ebooks get pirated MORE than non-DRM'ed ones. That convinces them more than thousands of snail-mailed letters.”

    And just how do you plan to show them? Send them URLs of file sharing sites and say “See all the DRMed books of yours people have cracked and uploaded here?”

    I fear all that will do is get the sites shut down and the publishers determined to come up with less crackable forms of DRM.

    As I said, you don’t want to add fuel to that particular fire.

    Simply refusing to buy DRMed titles doesn’t tell them anything. I doubt they have any basis on which to project what sales of an ebook title should be to wonder why sales aren’t as expected. They might fear it’s because titles have been pirated. They will not think a title that isn’t DRM protected will be less likely to be pirated. They’ll simply assume that losses to piracy are due to a desire to get something for nothing, and will bite on non-DRMed titles even more than DRM protected ones because it’s easier since DRM isn’t in the way.

    Sellers learn nothing from refusal to buy their wares unless you tell them that you are refusing, and why.

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  42. Marcus
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 20:57:17

    And just how do you plan to show them? Send them URLs of file sharing sites

    They will find them on their own. It’s not exactly hard, and although the decision-makers are obviously extremely stupid there are certainly several not-so-stupid people working for them and thus it is talked about on meetings etc.
    By refusing to sell non-DRM’ed ebooks they force potential customers to go to such sites and thus those potential customers will get used to getting their books for free and get familiar with easy ways to get books for free. That’s bad for the industry.

    I fear all that will do is get the sites shut down and the publishers determined to come up with less crackable forms of DRM.

    Oh, c’mon! Shut a site down and two will pop up. And “less crackable” really means nothing, since it’ll still always be easily crackable.

    Sellers learn nothing from refusal to buy their wares unless you tell them that you are refusing, and why.

    Sure, it helps if you tell them. I usually do it indirectly by asking them where/how I can buy some particular item without DRM-restrictions (that prevents me from reading it on my phone or making backups or whatever), and when they reply that it’s impossible I politely reply that in that case I’ll spen my money elsewhere. I’ll still read the book, though, and if it’s good I’ll even buy the paper version (just to support the author, I never actually read from paper anymore.) I’d rather send money directly to the author, but almost no authors accept such donations.

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  43. Miki
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 21:14:03

    so you can't read DRM protected Mobipocket titles in the Kindle, and you can't read titles purchased for the Kindle on anything else. They are locked to the Kindle.

    Not unless you’re willing to find the tools to hack it, anyway. I understand in certain countries, it isn’t illegal to use those tools to “format-shift”, but I guess it’s moot, since Kindle is only for sale in the U.S.

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  44. Miki
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 21:19:18

    Miki – I got the specs off the Astak website so I stand corrected on the DRM issue. I think that any device today has to be able to read a DRM'ed ebook because of the technical hoops that one has to jump through in order to read the non DRM.

    The thread – which was started by the guy at Astak, by the way – where the new readers have been introduced, discussed, updated, and described is very long, but if you’re interested, the link is here.

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  45. Miki
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 21:36:02

    MIKI and/or Jane: any word on whether Microsoft has finally given the go ahead to Astek to support .LIT files? I have hundreds (thousands?) of ebooks in .LIT. I REALLY don't want to have to convert them to re-read them.

    Sorry, Bev, but I don’t remember Microsoft LIT even being mentioned as being a choice for the Astak reader models. I remember a post where the Astak guy (Robertb) said they’ve been trying to get information from Adobe about it’s Digital Editions, but Adobe hadn’t been replying timely (or something like that).

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  46. BevQB
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 22:00:47

    Sorry, Bev, but I don't remember Microsoft LIT even being mentioned as being a choice for the Astak reader models. I remember a post where the Astak guy (Robertb) said they've been trying to get information from Adobe about it's Digital Editions, but Adobe hadn't been replying timely (or something like that).

    Interesting. That’s basically the answer he gave me about Microsoft too. After Jane’s first mention of Astak a few months ago, I sent them an email begging them to consider .LIT support. In his reply, RobertB said that they had approached Microsoft a few times about working together but that Microsoft tends to consider these things slowly and had yet to give them a yes or no. He also said he was forwarding my email to TPTB at Microsoft.

    The thing is, when I first started purchasing ebooks, I selected .LIT format and MSReader because I figured, since it was Microsoft, it would always be supported. But now it’s ironic that if Microsoft wants to keep their .LIT format relevent, they are going to have to start playing nice with the producers of e-ink readers or there is a good chance that .LIT will become a dinosaur.

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  47. DMcCunney
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 22:07:49

    @Marcus
    “And just how do you plan to show them? Send them URLs of file sharing sites”?

    They will find them on their own. It's not exactly hard, and although the decision-makers are obviously extremely stupid there are certainly several not-so-stupid people working for them and thus it is talked about on meetings etc.
    Maybe. I live in NYC. Most of the folks I hang out with are connected with publishing. I know a little about the industry and the thought processes.

    Bear in mind that most major publishers are part of larger entertainment conglomerates, who have movies, TV, and music as well as books as part of the content they produce. The corporate parents will think in terms of what they perceive as the state of the music and film industry: savaged by piracy. They will not see removing DRM as a solution.

    Consider the leading example of offering offering commercial titles without DRM protection: Baen Books, with their Webscriptions program. Baen’s paper books are manufactured and distributed by Simon and Schuster, but Baen is an independent. The late Jim Baen could decide DRM was an impediment and not impose it because he wasn’t answerable to a corporate parent.

    Tor Books CEO Tom Doherty was an old friend and former boss of Jim’s. He saw what Baen was accomplishing with Webscriptions, and cut a deal with Baen to offer Tor content through the Webscriptions program. Unfortunately, Tor is not an independent. They are a unit of Holtzbrink, and the deal was canceled after it had been announced by Tor and Baen when someone in Holtzbrink discovered Webscriptions does not use DRM and pulled the plug.

    Holtzbrink has subsequently gotten a new CEO who is reportedly opposed to DRM, and the deal might be on again, once the lawyers finish hashing out details. But even then, Holtzbrink is a “pure play” in publishing, and not part of a media conglomerate.

    “By refusing to sell non-DRM'ed ebooks they force potential customers to go to such sites and thus those potential customers will get used to getting their books for free and get familiar with easy ways to get books for free. That's bad for the industry.”

    Nope. The vast majority of the market doesn’t do that. Many won’t know how, and even many of those who do will prefer not to. Too much of what is out there on the darknet requires more work to put into a form readable on whatever device you might use, even assuming you have the tools to do it.

    “I fear all that will do is get the sites shut down and the publishers determined to come up with less crackable forms of DRM.”

    Oh, c'mon! Shut a site down and two will pop up. And “less crackable” really means nothing, since it'll still always be easily crackable.

    And everybody will be able to find the two new heads of the hydra after you’ve cut off one? Consider all the folks buying Kindles and getting content from the Kindle store, or the folks buying Sony Readers and patronizing Sony Connect. Do you suppose all, or even most, of them are sophisticated enough to go find file sharing sites? I don’t.

    Granted, DRM will always be crackable. But all the time spent trying to come up with new, less crackable forms is time the content isn’t offered without DRM in the first place.

    “Sellers learn nothing from refusal to buy their wares unless you tell them that you are refusing, and why.

    Sure, it helps if you tell them. I usually do it indirectly by asking them where/how I can buy some particular item without DRM-restrictions (that prevents me from reading it on my phone or making backups or whatever), and when they reply that it's impossible I politely reply that in that case I'll spen my money elsewhere. I'll still read the book, though, and if it's good I'll even buy the paper version (just to support the author, I never actually read from paper anymore.) I'd rather send money directly to the author, but almost no authors accept such donations.”

    The authors usually aren’t set up to accept donations, and might incur the ire of their publishers if they did, so no surprise.

    I still buy and read a lot of paper volumes, and expect to continue to do so. For me, ebooks are an additional format for books, and not a replacement for paper volumes.

    But bottom line, cracking DRM protected books and uploading them to file sharing sites won’t cause the demise of DRM. The folks who wish to see DRM imposed don’t think that way, and may not be capable of thinking that way.

    Right now, the biggest problem with ebooks is simply getting more publishers to offer them at all. The last thing you want to do is perform actions that make them wonder if they really want to offer content so easily pirated, and whether they should just stick to paper editions.

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  48. Helen
    Aug 17, 2008 @ 22:14:25

    LAM

    I did have a question though, is there any downside to the Sony reader in terms of being in Canada? or are we Canucks still able to access all of the same content as in America?

    I am in Canada and broke down and bought the sonyyreader a few weeks ago (love it). Had to order it as nowhere had any stock, and it is only being sold at sonystyle stores at the moment. As to content, I have had only one book come up as availible to US buyers only, and when I went back to check it the next day, suddenly I could buy it, so I did. Also, it seems you can only buy in US $.

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  49. Lam
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 00:08:53

    Great, thanks for the info Helen.

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  50. valor
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 00:30:22

    I’m sure somewhere in all that tech-talk it was mentioned, but which readers, if any, support Adobe DE? Cause that’s what my eLibrary is, primarily.

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  51. Ian P. Christian
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 01:55:01

    It’s great to see these devices getting more notice. I love my ebook reader, and wouldn’t be without it now. If anyone’s interested in seeing the BeBook from a technical perspective, I have a review on my blog which has a video showing it’s features.

    http://pookey.co.uk/blog/archives/61-BeBook-review.html

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  52. Sandra Schwab
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 01:57:03

    No, they don't. At least not directly, and there's plenty of evidence supporting that they don't indirectly either.

    Marcus, you have to explain that particular bit of wisdom (file sharing sites not depriving authors of their royalities). So hundreds of readers download a copy of a book from a file-sharing site, the author gets no royalities for these hundreds of copies, and you think it’s not affecting the author directly? Oh please.

    Besides, the pirated books that you find on file-sharing sites aren’t only formerly DRM-protected books, but also non-DRM ones and even those which have never been published in a digital format.

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  53. Marcus
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 03:29:00

    No, they don't. At least not directly, and there's plenty of evidence supporting that they don't indirectly either.

    Marcus, you have to explain that particular bit of wisdom (file sharing sites not depriving authors of their royalities). So hundreds of readers download a copy of a book from a file-sharing site, the author gets no royalities for these hundreds of copies, and you think it's not affecting the author directly?

    Copying something does not affect the original (or anything related to it) directly pretty much by definition. In your example the author is obviously no worse off whether those hundreds of readers downloaded copies or not. That is, the action of downloading a copy does not directly affect the author. (In fact, the author might be better off (indirectly) if people did read his/her book without paying royalties than if they didn’t read the book at all.)

    Besides, the pirated books that you find on file-sharing sites aren't only formerly DRM-protected books, but also non-DRM ones and even those which have never been published in a digital format.

    (Please, stop calling restricted books “protected”. They are restricted, not protected. Calling them “protected” is simply newspeak-like propaganda.)
    Here I haven’t been advocating file-sharing non-DRM-restricted books. If you find a book that you like on some file-sharing network I urge you to first check whether it’s available in an unrestricted format from some legal source before resorting to downloading it from the file-sharing network.
    When it comes to books that have never been published in a digital format I suggest you get the paper version, at least if you like reading from paper. (I don’t, though, so I either get the digital version or no version at all.)

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  54. Marcus
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 03:56:19

    The corporate parents will think in terms of what they perceive as the state of the music and film industry: savaged by piracy. They will not see removing DRM as a solution.

    That’s acceptable as long as they get through their thick skulls that DRM isn’t a solution either.

    By refusing to sell non-DRM'ed ebooks they force potential customers to go to such sites and thus those potential customers will get used to getting their books for free and get familiar with easy ways to get books for free. That's bad for the industry.

    Nope. The vast majority of the market doesn't do that. Many won't know how, and even many of those who do will prefer not to. Too much of what is out there on the darknet requires more work to put into a form readable on whatever device you might use, even assuming you have the tools to do it.

    Right now it’s not very easy, but it gets easier all the time. And people learn. I’ve seen old, non-technical people download audiobooks from the pirate bay quite successfully. Just because the vast majority of the market doesn’t do it now doesn’t mean it’d stay that way if the publishers keep abusing their customers. When the demand goes above a certain threshold something like napster will surface and then the game is pretty much lost, or at least ruined for a long time. Once people get the taste for getting something for free it’s hard to get them used to paying for it again.

    “I fear all that will do is get the sites shut down and the publishers determined to come up with less crackable forms of DRM.”

    Oh, c'mon! Shut a site down and two will pop up.

    And everybody will be able to find the two new heads of the hydra after you've cut off one?

    Yes. Once it’s popular the word of mouth (including the google “mouth”) will always spread much faster than the industry’s tries to cut off those ever increasing hydra heads.

    And “less crackable” really means nothing, since it'll still always be easily crackable.

    Granted, DRM will always be crackable. But all the time spent trying to come up with new, less crackable forms is time the content isn't offered without DRM in the first place.

    The sooner we get people to realize that there is no uncrackable (or even hard-to-crack) form of DRM the sooner they will stop using DRM to try to restrict normal usage.

    cracking DRM protected books and uploading them to file sharing sites won't cause the demise of DRM. The folks who wish to see DRM imposed don't think that way, and may not be capable of thinking that way.

    Well, I disagree. They will notice that their DRM isn’t working. They might try some other DRM, even ten different ones, but eventually they will realize that their DRM wet dream just won’t work in real life.

    Right now, the biggest problem with ebooks is simply getting more publishers to offer them at all. The last thing you want to do is perform actions that make them wonder if they really want to offer content so easily pirated, and whether they should just stick to paper editions.

    They really have no choice but to go digital and DRM-less. They could try to stop publishing digitally, but then people would continue to OCR like they do now. And keep in mind that not everyone has to know how to crack DRM or scan+OCR a book. It’s enough if one person does and then spreads the unrestricted copies to all who can’t.

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  55. Lynne Connolly
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 05:36:03

    Copying something does not affect the original (or anything related to it) directly pretty much by definition. In your example the author is obviously no worse off whether those hundreds of readers downloaded copies or not.

    I took a few deep breaths. That’s hundreds of copies for which I’m not receiving royalties. We ebook authors do not get a lump sum, in the form of an advance, we get paid per number of copies sold. It’s a percentage.
    If the book is stolen and reproduced, we get nothing. It sounds as if you aren’t aware of that.

    It will eventually come back and bite you in the bum. I know of at least three authors who have given up writing anything, because, despite their promotional efforts and other investments, they’ve been losing money and selling very few books. There are many more who are doing the same. And publishers watch sales numbers too, and will drop an author who is failing to perform. Since they don’t count thefts, that will affect an author, too.
    Eventually, if piracy gets out of hand, that will increase and you’ll have fewer authors to choose from, whether you buy the book or steal it.

    I dislike DRM, but I dealt with it by writing to the publishers, and saying why I wouldn’t be buying any more of their books. Because at the time I had an ebookwise, which works on a proprietory format, and so DRM books were useless to me.
    Uploading it to a pirate site puts you on the wrong side of the law and forces the author to reconsider her career. It will continue to happen.

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  56. Sandra Schwab
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 05:51:20

    Marcus, any form of book piracy is stealing. It’s as plain as that. Don’t try to make it into anything else.

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  57. Marcus
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 06:21:14

    Copying something does not affect the original (or anything related to it) directly pretty much by definition. In your example the author is obviously no worse off whether those hundreds of readers downloaded copies or not.

    That's hundreds of copies for which I'm not receiving royalties.

    And not downloading those copies is also the same hundreds of copies for which you’re not receiving royalties.

    if piracy gets out of hand, that will increase and [...]

    Exactly, which is why the industry SHOULD NOT be pushing potential customers to download books illegally. But it does, as long as there are no legal ways to buy non-DRM’ed ebooks. Now when people just got their new kindles and sony readers and whatnot people haven’t yet been bitten by the moronic DRM-restrictions a lot, but once they do they certainly won’t accept it for long.

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  58. Jayne
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 06:23:10

    Sandra, how is your Cybook doing? A friend of mine bought one, loved it then ran into problems with it and couldn’t get any help from the support people so she had to end up ditching it. Luckily she had bought it with a credit card and got reimbursed from them for the purchase.

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  59. Bruno Rives
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 06:25:29

    May we add the Ganaxa GeR2, one of the first Vizplex on the market, delivering since september 2007 10 editions a day of the financial French newspaper Les Echos, now adding wireless support with the SFR e-book platform?

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  60. Marcus
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 06:35:14

    any form of book piracy is stealing. It's as plain as that. Don't try to make it into anything else.

    Please, stop that obsolete propaganda. No sane person would call copyright infringement stealing when that very activity is discussed (the same way no sane person would call littering stealing or murdering stealing). Just because something is against the law doesn’t make it stealing. By using the terms “stealing” and “theft” you are misleading the discussion/debate or at best are guilty of an appeal to emotion fallacy by using a loaded word.

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  61. Midknyt
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 07:13:06

    Please, stop that obsolete propaganda. No sane person would call copyright infringement stealing when that very activity is discussed (the same way no sane person would call littering stealing or murdering stealing).

    Huh?

    You are getting something that you should be paying for without paying for it through illegal methods. Complements of MSN Encarta, to steal is “to take something that belongs to somebody else, illegally or without the owner’s permission”

    Sounds pretty accurate to me – you are taking the book without the owner’s permission.

    I also don’t like DRM and I admit I hacked the first ebooks I bought, and will hack them in the future. But I’m hacking them to put them on my Reader, and while it may not be 100% legal (I actually have no idea), I’m doing it so I can read the books myself and wouldn’t be buying them otherwise, so I don’t think there is any problem with that. However, if I buy a book, hack it, and share it with my friends, or worse, stick it online for everyone to have, that’s a big difference.

    I would think the solution to the DRM thing would be somehow making a DRM that allows you to switch formats but keeps the protection/restriction. I don’t think there is a problem with you wanting the book not to go anywhere as long as I get to use what I pay for.

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  62. Sandra Schwab
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 07:17:50

    Sandra, how is your Cybook doing? A friend of mine bought one, loved it then ran into problems with it and couldn't get any help from the support people so she had to end up ditching it.

    Jayne, I’m so sorry to hear about your friend’s Cybook. Did she order it from Bookeen? It seems that their customer service is … not so good.

    My Cybook is doing fine and I love it! I’m basically reading only e-books now (for entertainment, that is; for work I’m currently digging into rare and dusty 19th-century tomes). And I’m buying much more books per month than before I got the reader: not only because e-books are incredibly cheap thanks to the current Dollar-to-Euro rate, but also because now I don’t have to worry anymore about the lack of shelf space in my library. (Instead I can concentrate on worrying about the lack of shelf space in my study … *ggg*)

    That said, there have been several reports on the mobileread forums about screen breaks (which are not covered by warranty due to the fact that the Bookeen people assume if your screen’s broken you must have done terrible things to it). This worried me enough to decide I wouldn’t take the Cybook with me on travels. Instead I bought a Nintendo DS Lite, which I’ve just successfully transformed into an e-book reader. :)

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  63. Jayne
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 07:23:40

    Yes, she ordered it from Bookeen. I can’t recall right now what exactly the problem she had with it was but suffice it to say it’s enough that she can’t use it anymore. And considering what she paid for it, she was pissed. Up until then though, she loved it. Glad to hear yours is holding up fine.

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  64. Jane
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 07:24:46

    I'm sure somewhere in all that tech-talk it was mentioned, but which readers, if any, support Adobe DE? Cause that's what my eLibrary is, primarily

    The Sony Reader (the new one PRS-505) can read Adobe DE, I believe.

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  65. Collette
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 07:46:27

    The Sony Reader (the new one PRS-505) can read Adobe DE, I believe.

    Yes, the 505 version can read Adobe Digital Edition. In fact, I’ve been using on my Mac (running Windows).

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  66. Coral
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 07:56:30

    I wouldn’t buy a dedicated ebook reader – too restrictive. I read my ebooks on my Palm TX with either eReader, Mobipocket or Plucker software – Adobe PDF reader was terrible so got rid of that – that’s what I like about the Palm – you are not limited re reading software. I did find the backlit screen too bright at night but solved that problem by changing the background colour to a pale yellow. I do buy DRM books because they are what I want to read but as Miki suggested, I do “format shift” to html. I am not going to be caught out owning books that can’t be read because software is now obsolete due to a system upgrade, etc. Also I download my ebooks onto the Mac first then transfer to the Palm to make sure I have a copy – no way would I leave my purchases in an electronic bookshelf that could disappear tomorrow – does the Kindle operate on these lines? not available in Australia so wouldn’t know. And I must admit that I have downloaded an audio book from a file sharing site – not a book I think I would have bought from reading the blurb on the back but loved it so much I went and bought all 4 ebooks in the series.

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  67. SandyW
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 09:34:05

    Instead I bought a Nintendo DS Lite, which I've just successfully transformed into an e-book reader. :)

    Sandra, how did you do that? That sounds incredible. And can you still play games on it afterward?

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  68. Marcus
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 10:05:28

    Please, stop that obsolete propaganda. No sane person would call copyright infringement stealing when that very activity is discussed (the same way no sane person would call littering stealing or murdering stealing).

    You are getting something that you should be paying for without paying for it through illegal methods. Complements of MSN Encarta, to steal is “to take something that belongs to somebody else, illegally or without the owner's permission”

    Sounds pretty accurate to me – you are taking the book without the owner's permission.

    Think, please. If I make a copy of a chair I’m not stealing the chair, I’m copying it. See the difference? The same applies for ebooks.
    However, it’s not the ebook (or even the contents of it) that is claimed to be stolen, but the monopoly of copying it. However, after you’ve “stolen” the copyright you still don’t have the copyright, so the whole idea of “stealing copyright” doesn’t even make sense any which way you look at it. So, no matter how you try to look at it copyright infringement simply can’t be compared to “stealing” as the word commonly is used.

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  69. Keishon
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 10:28:52

    I wouldn't buy a dedicated ebook reader – too restrictive.

    True that but I did buy a Sony reader and love reading on that sucker.

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  70. azteclady
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 10:30:08

    Please. Copyright infringement is not stealing?

    Intellectual property is not property, then?

    Talk about not having the same definition of decency, stealing, and a host other things.

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  71. Marc
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 10:59:54

    Keishon, the Stanza Desktop is also available for Windows, so it is no longer Mac-only.

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  72. Marcus
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 11:26:45

    Copyright infringement is not stealing?

    Exactly. No matter how many times I “steal” some copyright I’ll never have it, so it obviously can’t be taken and thus not stolen.

    Intellectual property is not property, then?

    Not inherently, no. It’s “property” only because it has been redefined as such for some (but not all) legal purposes, but it’s not “property” in the same way as is understood by the common man. (E.g., you don’t pay any property tax on “intellectual property”.)

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  73. Sandra Schwab
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 11:54:31

    No sane person would call copyright infringement stealing when that very activity is discussed

    With the exception of p.o.ed authors. Who are losing money thanks to any form of book piracy. But hey, that’s their problem, right?

    Now please excuse me while I go and bang my head against the nearest wall.

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  74. Anne Douglas
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 12:09:54

    For mac users: I was hunting around looking for how mac users had coped before I got a sony for myself. I found CALIBRE. I haven’t tried it yet (I haven’t scraped up the $$ to by the reader yet), so I don’t know if this is a good or bad rec at this point. Another was Docudesk? Otherwise the PRS505 loads as storage space to the mac so you can transfer your files easily enough.

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  75. Sandra Schwab
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 12:16:53

    Instead I bought a Nintendo DS Lite, which I've just successfully transformed into an e-book reader. :)

    Sandra, how did you do that? That sounds incredible. And can you still play games on it afterward?

    Sandy I got the idea from reading this post on TeleRead. Basically, all you need is an adapter (which will go into the DS-Lite card slot), a micro SD card, and a micro card reader for your computer. I bought a M3DS Real bundle, which already included all of these. The software is not pre-installed, you have to download it and copy it to the micro card.

    Insert micro card into M3 adapter, insert M3 adapter into your DS Lite – and voilà, you’ve got a new e-reader (txt files seem to work best; allegedly Microsoft Word and html are also supported), MP3 player, portable movie player and a PDA of some sorts.

    Now I just need to figure out how to change fonts and the background of the e-book programme, and then I’ll be very happy indeed. :)

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  76. Robin
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 12:21:49

    Exactly. No matter how many times I “steal” some copyright I'll never have it, so it obviously can't be taken and thus not stolen.

    While I agree that the inherent artificialities in intellectual property law mean that common terms do not have their exact same meaning within an IP context, I believe that the concept of theft can apply to copyright. Of course you cannot “steal” a copyright in the sense that you can steal a lamp. But you can deprive someone of their exclusive use granted by copyright, which *can be* (depending on a myriad of factors generally parsed subsequent to someone suing for infringement) a form of intellectual theft, even if it’s not within the traditional parameters of the term.

    I’ve always liked this quick and dirty distinction between copyright infringement and plagiarism by this law professor. I think it’s an easy and precise way of introducing one of the most basic differences to someone unfamiliar with copyright, especially.

    IMO, where the real difficulty is in explaining copyright infringement is in parsing out all the ways in which it’s okay to infringe and the ways it’s not okay, and how those differences are not generally made known until someone decides to sue for infringement. In that sense, I can see where you object to the concept of theft, but within IP law, there still must be some sense of transgression, even if there are not — in most circumstances — criminal penalties at stake. And the concept of stealing most definitely applies to more than real and personal property concepts, both within the law and in common parlance.

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  77. Mireya
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 12:34:00

    Marcus, are you talking about just making a copy i.e. you purchased the ebook and are making a copy for your personal use v. making a copy and then making it available to others without the legal owner’s authorization? I am trying to follow the arguments and am not sure I am understanding.

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  78. Ian P. Christian
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 12:40:41

    The idea that a bebook reader ties you in to a specific format is actually ill informed. Even if bebook were to close down tomorrow, the device would like on. Have a google for ‘open inkpot’ to see what i mean. Also, the screens on the readers just can not be compared to the screens no a DS. Anyone that has used an eink display will never in back in my opinion.

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  79. Marcus
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 13:22:01

    No sane person would call copyright infringement stealing when that very activity is discussed

    With the exception of p.o.ed authors. Who are losing money thanks to any form of book piracy.

    No, no exceptions. If those authors are trying to participate in a discussion/debate about the issue then it’s not sane (or at least not honest) of them to use such a loaded word for copyright infringement. And they are NOT losing money to every form of book piracy! They are only using money whenever someone uses a pirated book INSTEAD OF buying a new copy legally.

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  80. Marcus
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 13:35:51

    Exactly. No matter how many times I “steal” some copyright I'll never have it, so it obviously can't be taken and thus not stolen.

    While I agree that the inherent artificialities in intellectual property law mean that common terms do not have their exact same meaning within an IP context, I believe that the concept of theft can apply to copyright. Of course you cannot “steal” a copyright in the sense that you can steal a lamp. But you can deprive someone of their exclusive use granted by copyright, which *can be* (depending on a myriad of factors generally parsed subsequent to someone suing for infringement) a form of intellectual theft, even if it's not within the traditional parameters of the term.

    Uh… are you really trying to say that it’s theft because it’s a form of intellectual theft? That’d be circular reasoning.

    And the concept of stealing most definitely applies to more than real and personal property concepts, both within the law and in common parlance.

    That’s irrelevant. The words “theft” and “stealing” are very loaded words, and therefore must not be used when discussing/debating that very issue.

    As you can see from the ignorant reply I got above about “taking something that belongs to somebody else” people really do think in terms of physical objects when they say “theft” or “stealing”. Since that kind of theft doesn’t even make sense when talking about immaterial things that’s actually a very nasty fallacy called equivocation.

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  81. Nora Roberts
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 13:37:51

    ~If those authors are trying to participate in a discussion/debate about the issue then it's not sane (or at least not honest) of them to use such a loaded word for copyright infringement.~

    Then by your–we’ll call them standards–I’m insane and dishonest–because theft is exactly the word I’ll use for copyright infringement.

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  82. Nora Roberts
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 13:44:04

    ~The words “theft” and “stealing” are very loaded words, and therefore must not be used when discussing/debating that very issue.~

    So you are to set the ‘standard’ again for what words must not be used in a discussion?

    That’s fairly pompous of you.

    While I disagree, strongly, with your take on the issue, I wouldn’t call you either not sane nor not honest in having that opinion. You have no problem calling those who disagree both.

    Therefore, it becomes impossible to discuss the issue with you.

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  83. cecilia
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 13:50:06

    Using sophistry to try to justify depriving someone of rightful earnings for their work is pretty shabby, imho. And to try to claim that that person is somehow better off for being so deprived…Well, I’m speechless.

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  84. Sheryl Nantus
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 14:02:55

    obviously Marcus doesn’t write for a living otherwise he’d “get” the concept of theft. Whatever he does I bet he’d be screaming blue murder if someone stole his spatula or whatever and tried to sell it as their own.

    me, I’m holding out for a cheap ebook reader under $100 that also does color. I refuse to believe that with all the technology out there that we can’t produce one that’ll duplicate the size of a paperback and also be affordable by the general public.

    if ebooks are EVER to take off for the average reader you have to provide a cheap and easy ebook reader – two, three hundred bucks is still way out of most people’s range.

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  85. Jane
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 14:08:36

    Just curious, but how expensive was the iPod when every kid started getting one for Christmas?

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  86. Robin
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 14:16:01

    Uh… are you really trying to say that it's theft because it's a form of intellectual theft? That'd be circular reasoning.

    Uh . . . no. What I’m saying is that 1) theft is not a term that’s limited to real and personal property law, 2) that depriving someone else of their right to do something (i.e. exclusively copy a work) can rise to the level of and be classified as a type of theft, and 3) intellectual theft is itself a valid term, used by myriad lawyers, judges, and legal scholars, and 4) that copyright infringement can rise to the level of intellectual theft (i.e. be classified as such).

    That's irrelevant. The words “theft” and “stealing” are very loaded words, and therefore must not be used when discussing/debating that very issue.

    No, it’s not irrelevant, because you keep insisting that the concept of theft/stealing is not applicable to non-material things, but, in fact, it’s used that way all the time, both within and outside IP law.

    IMO your rejection of the concept of theft is ironically undermining your insistence on using correct/accurate terminology. That while you believe others are propagandizing the issue, you are IMO flattening out the very subtleties you seem to want to highlight and obfuscating rather than illuminating the complex legal principles at work in IP law around copyright. And ultimately, I believe it works against your arguments against DRM by focusing the debate on terminology (and changing them, a la equivocation, in your insistence on using them so-called correctly and in your assertions like “no sane person . . .”) rather than on the ways in which DRM undermines the valid and IMO essential limitations on copyright. DRM has significantly undermined important copyright limitations, and the DMCA is well on its way to debilitating the First Sale Doctrine, which is very worrying, IMO, and in need of more civil discussion.

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  87. Shiloh Walker
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 14:18:10

    The words “theft” and “stealing” are very loaded words

    Yep, and implying it’s okay to share my copyrighted work and hurt my income and my way of living is a very loaded implication.

    Oh, dear, what we were all thinking? Silly authors, thinking we’re actually entitled to earn a living by doing what we love. How foolish of us.

    My fellow author friends, sorry but I guess we all just need to stop writing the stories we love, because it’s selfish of us to expect our rightful compensation–but without that compensation, we can’t exactly make a living, so we gotta go back to work in the real world.

    Hard to write for a living when you can’t actually MAKE a living doing it…but we all have to make a living just to pay for things like food, electricity, a house payment.

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  88. veinglory
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 14:28:45

    If I plant the seed, and I water the seed, and I keep away the crows, why should some other bastard get to sell the fruit? Mass ebook filesharing is theft. It is exploitation of a worker and trampling on their right to benefit from their own labor. I don’t understand how anyone could see that as a virtue.

    My grandfather worked in the mines, and I work on a computer–and then as now we have to fight every day for our right as workers to earn a fair wage. Only the excuses of the exploiters have changed. And if I sould like a socialist it is because I am one, a *real* one.

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  89. trishkit
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 15:03:34

    Prior to reading Jane’s articles here on Dear Author, I had never considered reading an ebook. Then again, years ago I never imagined that I would ever forgo the pleasure of spreading a newspaper over my kitchen table in the morning. Now I read all of my news online and have become a happy ebook reader.

    I first tested out the ebook experience on an old Blackberry. I was so delighted that I purchased a Cybook from Books on Board last month. I chose the Cybook because I wanted to be able to continue reading DRM Mobipocket books. I purchase most of my ebooks from Fictionwise and was reluctant to give up their great selection and prices if I moved to the Sony reader. I’m Canadian, so the Kindle isn’t available and I already had amassed a fair library through Fictionwise anyways.

    I’ve been very happy with my Cybook and will happily continue to purchase DRM ebooks if it means that authors can be properly paid for their works. DRM may not be the best solution, but I’m willing to work within its confines. I don’t find the restrictions confining at all. Since Fictionwise allows you to register 4 PIDs for your reading devices, my sister and I share the account and she is able to read on her Palm. All of our paper books are passed back and forth between us anyways and usually continue on down the road to our mother and then to her pals. At least now we are a bit more organized and can see what the other has purchased. There have been many occasions when we have unknowingly bought the same paper book at the same time.

    Last year my sister and I brought 14 books along on our annual camping trip. My Cybook and her Palm will make the load a little lighter this year…on second thought we’ll probably just bring more beer…

    Thanks Jane!

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  90. Marcus
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 15:04:52

    Using sophistry to try to justify depriving someone of rightful earnings for their work is pretty shabby, imho.

    Who has done that, how and where? I certainly have not.

    obviously Marcus doesn't write for a living otherwise he'd “get” the concept of theft.

    Huh?!? Whether or not I suffer from something is completely irrelevant to whether that should be called “theft” or not when discussing the issue.

    Whatever he does I bet he'd be screaming blue murder if someone stole his spatula or whatever and tried to sell it as their own.

    If someone stole my spatula then that would obviously be theft. However, if there was a discussion about whether or not spatulas should be taken without permission then I wouldn’t use the term “theft” as a hidden argument against it.

    you keep insisting that the concept of theft/stealing is not applicable to non-material things

    I have done no such thing! (At least not intentionally.)
    Your posts are like springs in the desert here, but please stop arguing with me against something I’m not arguing for.

    The words “theft” and “stealing” are very loaded words, and therefore must not be used when discussing/debating that very issue.

    So you are to set the 'standard' again for what words must not be used in a discussion?

    Huh? No, I’m not. Maybe you should read one of the links I already provided about loaded language

    People, “it’s wrong, therefore it is theft” is not a valid argument. I can’t believe that I really have to point out something this obvious to someone (that’s presumably sane).

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  91. Jane
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 15:07:57

    trishkit – I am so excited that you are a convert. And yes, bring more beer.

    Marcus – I appreciate that you have a POV and are willing to state it, no matter now unpopular. It is, however, a complete derailment of the topic to which you are posting. If you want to continue this discussion perhaps you could do so at your own site or another’s.

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  92. Meriam
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 15:13:51

    Anne Douglas:

    For mac users: I was hunting around looking for how mac users had coped before I got a sony for myself. I found CALIBRE.

    Yes, I was doing some research last night and came across this, too. I’m just waiting for the reader to actually arrive. Which won’t be for another two weeks…!

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  93. Nora Roberts
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 15:45:07

    When one uses the phrase ‘must not be used’ one is declaring an imperative. Must not be used.

    When one says authors who term copyright infringement theft are either not sane or not honest, one is again marking a very solid line. On this side is reason, on the other insanity and/or dishonesty.

    Your words. I did not steal them. I simply quoted them back.

    I am not saying ‘it’s wrong therefore it’s theft’. I’m saying you’ve taken my work without my permission and without due payment–therefore it’s theft.

    Disagree, that’s your right. But tell me I’m crazy or dishonest for my opinion on the issue, you’ve opened a very squeaky door.

    I won’t argue the issue with you. We can’t possibly agree or even find middle ground. But I will argue that when you choose to state that opinion in such inflammatory terms, you shouldn’t appear so surprised when those terms inflame.

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  94. Marcus
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 15:53:05

    I appreciate that you have a POV and are willing to state it, no matter now unpopular. It is, however, a complete derailment of the topic to which you are posting.

    It’s not so much a POV as it’s the logical conclusion that I’ve come to after discussing, debating and thinking about these issues as objectively as I can. But you’re right, it’s quite off-topic, so I will stop (but I reserve whatever right I have to reply shortly to some replies I might get to my earlier postings).

    So, on to the topic then; I’m personally waiting for some (preferrably DRM-less) device with a decent reaction latency, e.g. when flipping the page. I’m currently using my very slow E61 phone for reading, and I’m almost (but not quite) annoyed by the (imo) long, 200 ms page-flip time QReader suffers from on it. Now, compare that to the current crop of readers that have a 2000 ms page flip time. (In fact, I can take the E61 out of my pocket, unlock it and open a book where I left it, all in the time it takes a sony reader to flip a page.)

    The new eink controller chip that was announced not so long ago is a step in the right direction, but there’s still some way to go before they get the latency down to decent levels. I’m looking forward to that day, though.

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  95. Marcus
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 16:02:43

    When one uses the phrase ‘must not be used' one is declaring an imperative.

    With the wording I ended up using I should have changed “must not” to “should not”.

    I'm saying you've taken my work without my permission and without due payment-therefore it's theft.

    And I already wrote quite clearly that in that case I have not taken your work without your permission. Once more, the thing that is “stolen” in copyright infringement is not your work, but your monopoly in copying your work. Your work isn’t stolen or taken at all. It’s copied. And the copying-monopoly isn’t really stolen/taken either, it’s just breached.

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  96. Sara
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 16:26:36

    Going back to the original post – I am completely in love with my Cybook ebooks reader. It’s really light, has an enormous range of titles available, is easy to read and transport… I can definitely recommend the Cybook without reservations.

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  97. Robin
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 16:33:47

    Robin: you keep insisting that the concept of theft/stealing is not applicable to non-material things

    Marcus: I have done no such thing! (At least not intentionally.)

    This is what I was responding, too, Marcus:

    As you can see from the ignorant reply I got above about “taking something that belongs to somebody else” people really do think in terms of physical objects when they say “theft” or “stealing”. Since that kind of theft doesn't even make sense when talking about immaterial things

    IMO, if we’re talking about a right rather than actual work being owned, and someone else infringing on that right, in some cases I believe that can be referred to as theft or stealing. In many cases that right may not be owned by the author, and certainly “stealing someone’s work” is very different from infringing on a copyright. If that’s the point you’re trying to make I agree with you, but I’m not sure anymore, lol. So I’ll heed Jane’s admonition that we’re off on a tangent and try to let it be.

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  98. Sally C.
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 16:51:39

    I have a Sony Reader and really love it thanks to calibre. Unfortunately, I have a Mac so I can’t use the sony store to buy lrf formatted books. I have to buy them in other formats and then remove the DRM and reformat so I can read the book that I’ve purchased on my Sony Reader. For this reason I wish that there was either a universal format for books or that books came without DRM. Since I’m paying for the book anyway, why should my ability to read it be limited to an inconvenient format?

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  99. Ian P. Christian
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 17:06:23

    That’s one thing the BeBook will have over the Sony when it’s intergrated with mobipocket format:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_formats#Mobipocket

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobipocket

    This puts the device at a huge advantage in my opinion – and transfering files from a Mac couldn’t be easier, no software is needed at all.

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  100. roslynholcomb
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 21:18:08

    The more I read these reviews the less concerned I get about spending several hundred dollars for a one-function device. I have no interest in instantaneous purchasing, so that’s not an issue for me. I fear possibly losing my whole stash if I somehow left the little gizmo on a bus or something. I’d probably always download to my computer and then to my reader. If the Sony reader can work with the .pdf format books I already own, I would probably go with it.

    The fact that I have no money is probably to the good at the moment, as I’d be much too impatient otherwise to wait for them to come out with a ‘perfect’ device.

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  101. kirsten saell
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 22:52:53

    Marcus might understand better if it were put in different terms. Instead of a copy of a chair, how about a drug. How about if a drug company invested millions of dollars into research to develop a drug for hair loss. That company holds the patent for that drug.

    A second company, through hacking the first company’s computers, gets a hold of the formula and begins to produce the drug. Because the ingredients are cheap and they invested nothing in the research, this second company can sell the drug at 10% what the first company–who must earn back their research costs–can.

    Now, this isn’t a cure for cancer–it’s a hair loss remedy. And the second company isn’t preventing the first company from marketing its version of the drug. Many of the thousands who purchased it at a 90% discount would have difficulty paying price the first company offers it for, and arguably therefore would not have purchased it. No one can prove definitively that the first company has lost any money, can they?

    But what the second company is doing is illegal. And ethically wrong. And will land someone in a world of trouble if they don’t stop doing it. Even if they’re only doing it to protest the insanely difficult to remove, child-proof caps on the first company’s pill bottles.

    Patents are granted to companies that develop new products to ensure that they can afford to continue developing those new products. If not for patent protection (or restriction), there would be no incentive for any company to research anything. And unless they’re paid for their copyrighted work, authors may still write, but they lose a major incentive for making their work available to readers.

    Don’t get me wrong. DRM pisses me off, and I agree that it may contribute to piracy rather than prevent it. But idiotic comparisons of books and chairs, and constant attempts to minimize (or deny) the damage done to authors by insisting that piracy actually helps them piss me off even more.

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  102. kirsten saell
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 22:58:00

    me, I'm holding out for a cheap ebook reader under $100 that also does color. I refuse to believe that with all the technology out there that we can't produce one that'll duplicate the size of a paperback and also be affordable by the general public.

    I’m wondering if the only people out there with the savvy to do that is Nintendo. Maybe I’ll write them a letter…

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  103. Keishon
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 23:23:23

    I just want to say I love ebooks.
    Yeah, it’s been long and sucky day.

    ::ducking outta here::

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  104. Mary Winter
    Aug 19, 2008 @ 00:47:26

    I have to say, if Nike+Ipod got me to running (and to spend lots of money on a new generation ipod), then can’t wait to see what they do for ereaders. Barring that…. I’m pretty in love with the kindle. Thanks for a great, informative article (as always!).

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  105. Robin
    Aug 19, 2008 @ 14:12:12

    kirsten, it’s interesting that you should bring up the patent process, because that’s one of the most problematic areas of IP law right now. Because patent applications are public, you wouldn’t have to hack into someone’s computer to see what patent they’ve applied for (and there is an incredible level of specificity required in a patent application). Patents are different from trade secrets (patents require novelty but not secrecy and vice versa for trade secrets), which is more, I think, the kind of thing you are talking about in your example.

    In any case, there is a real problem right now in the way patents are awarded, a strong belief among IP scholars and others that patents are given out too liberally. One of the big issues around this is the existence of “prior art” — that is, the existence of the very thing (or close enough) that the patent request describes. So let me flip your example a bit and suggest that a big problem with patents right now is that company A applies for a patent for something that has already been invented, and when company B, which is much less financially flush and slower to file, discovers this, they must then challenge the patent of company A, which got its patent in first but did not invent first. And patents are dependent on the first instance of invention, not filing, at least in the US (which is different from most other countries in this regard). An expensive endeavor, so say the least, and one that can itself crush creativity, especially of the entrepreneurial sort. Patents are intended to protect a very high level of originality in design, but many believe that the granting of patents now actually contravenes the original Constitutional grant to Congress of power over patents.

    Anyway, I bring this up merely to say that any intellectual property protection is focused on maintaining a balance between incentivizing the creation of original work and promoting public exchange and use of knowledge. Obviously these two things are symbiotically related. That doesn’t mean that the way to protest certain things, whether that be DRM or patent grants, is to engage in piracy or corporate theft or whatever. But I think that there is a HUGE misunderstanding about the nature of IP rights, how they are distributed, what they mean, what they actually protect and grant, the logic behind their limitations, etc., and whenever you get into a conversation about these rights, it can be frustrating to see responses on both sides of the extreme (aka “an an author I have unlimited rights to my intellectual property” and “as a reader I can do whatever I damn well please with this book, regardless of whether or not it’s legal”). At least I get frustrated, lol. Neither authors (or publishers, for that matter, who are often the ones holding the rights at stake in these discussion) or readers have unlimited rights, and both sides can overestimate their rights, IMO, which just makes it that much harder to elucidate the middle ground.

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  106. Chrissy
    Aug 19, 2008 @ 14:33:22

    I was one of the first people to own an ASUS EEE and I love that bloody thing. It was incredibly cheap, and I can not only read e-books on it, I can surf, write, check my email, whatever. It weighs 2 pounds, so I chuck it in my pocketbook.

    Luuurve my EEE!

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  107. DMcCunney
    Aug 19, 2008 @ 14:40:02

    @Marcus
    “They really have no choice but to go digital and DRM-less.

    I concur. Where we disagree is the belief that uploading cracked copies to pirate sites will make it go away sooner. It won’t. It will slow that process.

    What will make it go away is the example of folks who publish ebooks without DRM, and are doing just fine, thank you, like Baen.

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  108. nicholas
    Aug 19, 2008 @ 23:02:15

    It is worth considering the humble cell phone; it has the huge benefit of being something you ‘have to’ own in any case. I find reading a novel on a phone a perfect substitute for a paper book as far as experiencing the narrative. The range of material is limited to the freely sharable – but I imagine if the cell phone were taken more seriously and used more widely then regular content would soon follow.

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  109. XandraG
    Aug 19, 2008 @ 23:45:04

    Chrissy, I’ve been holding out for an EEE or a Sony, and have to say the EEE appeals more to me because I can be out and about and either read, or if I get inspired or have an idea, I can switch to writing or making notes for my own stories and be using a qwerty keyboard that is a little easier on my hammy butterfingers…but EEE’s been holding me back because the screen size seems just a leeetle too small for average sized webpages. But on the other hand, it’s eminently hackable from the Linux end, and Writer’s Cafe (my writing software of choice) actually comes in an EEE version.

    I’m currently using a combo of ruBooks and PDFviewer on my iTouch, but ruBooks keeps crashing on me at about page 103 of a book, and neither one of them offer the two simple and necessary functions of letting me flip to landscape, or letting me put a bookmark on a page to easily find it when I pick up where I left off. If there are better programs out there for the iTouch, somebody let me know. It’s not my favorite way to e-read (screen’s just a little too small/pdf’s are just a little too awkwardly-sized, and I’m not really that great at massaging the files from one place and format to another), but it’ll do until I can make up my damn mind.

    Thank you, as always, Jane, for your insights on the eReader offerings. These days, it’s not as easy to justify gadget experimentation.

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  110. DMcCunney
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 09:12:57

    @Nicholas
    Which cellphone?

    Content isn’t limited to the freely sharable: Mobipocket has a reader version for Symbian based phones (most of Nokia’s line), Windows Mobile phones, and Blackberries. eReader has reader versions for Symbian and the Blackberry, and recently released a version for the iPhone/iTouch which has apparently been *very* popular. (Fictionwise, who now owns eReader, had their servers straining under the load as all the folks who got the iPhone version promptly went online and downloaded their entire library…)

    Both support their respective DRM and allow you to read purchased content.

    Lots of folks read on their cellphones/PDAs. (My device is a Palm OS PDA.) The question seems to be form factor, and comfort level reading on the small screen. My device has a 320×480 screen, and while a did a little hacking to use custom smaller fonts, I read comfortably on it and have for years.

    (I dodn’t do so on my cellphone. That’s a tine low end Nokia with a screen to small to read on, even if a reader were available.)

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  111. DMcCunney
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 09:41:03

    @XandraG
    I’ve been fascinated by the Asus eee, too. One reason I don’t buy a dedicated reader is that I need a device that does other things as well as display ebooks. I’ve held off because the original screen was too small. The eee needs to replace my laptop for most purposes, and there’s no such thing as enough screen real estate. The newest 9″ screen model looks quite compelling, though I’ll pass on the windows XP option. I can deal with Linux, thank you.

    PDFs are problematic on handhelds. I *can* read them on my PDA, using a splendid open source application called PalmPDF, but if I have a choice, I get content in another format. Most PDFs are produces with the tagging that permits reflow for smaller screens, and side scrolling is painful.

    Now that Apple has an SDK for the platform, I expect to see more solutions become available. eReader’s new iPhone port seems to be quite popular and well regarded.

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  112. nicholas
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 17:39:42

    @DMcCunney

    Thanks for the pointers. Mine is an old LG and so won’t run any of the readers you mention. I think that high end phones like iPhone, Blackberry, and ‘smart phones’ in general are only a small portion of all the phones out there.

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  113. DMcCunney
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 20:09:41

    @Nicholas
    Which old LG model, and what do you use to read ebooks on it now?

    I read on a Palm OS PDA. Fortunately, I have a relatively large (320×480) screen, and versions of eReader and Mobipocket available for it, as well an open source offline HTML viewer called Plucker, a superb open source PDF viewer called PalmPDF, and an open source viewer called PalmFiction which can handle Palm “doc” and zTXT files, plain ASCII files on a card, and Word and RTF files on a card (which it displays as plain text), so I can handle pretty much anything.

    My cell phone is a very low end Nokia, which has no book viewers available for it, and a screen to tiny too attempt to read on if any existed. All it does is place and receive calls, but that’s all I *want* it to do. For anything else, I pull out the PDA.

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  114. nicholas
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 20:56:56

    @DMcCunney

    You have a lot of options.

    I have a U8360, the screen on the diagonal is smaller than my thumb. I don’t really notice the size when I’m reading.

    I read books from mobile.booksinmyphone.com It’s a mobile phone internet site where you can install a book as a java application. You search to get to a particular book and then click an ‘install’ link. I find it easier to browse what’s available on their http://www.booksinmyphone.com and you can also download the books there to install to your phone directly – without needing mobile internet.

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  115. DMcCunney
    Aug 20, 2008 @ 21:12:08

    @Nicholas
    Okay, I looked up the specs on the LG. There might be a Mobipocket reader for you: Mobi has an alpha version of a Java based reader available for Sony Ericsson and Nokia phones, that also works with other Java based devices. Look here:
    http://www.mobipocket.com/dev/beta/j2me.asp

    Meanwhile, while booksinmyphone is interesting, I don’t need the option. My PDA goes everywhere with me, and I have no need, let alone desire, to read on my cell phone.

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  116. MCWhite
    Aug 21, 2008 @ 00:14:03

    There are a bunch of features that I’m waiting for before I make the change to eBooks from paperback ones.

    My first question is why are the ebooks still so expensive when compared to a regular paperback or hardcover book? Most of the pricing I’ve seen has been similar between electronic/paper versions when you take into account the “New Release” discount or the “membership savings” that most stores offer for the print versions. I would be more likely to pay a higher price for the device if I was able to get an ROI by saving on each book I purchased. Right now I buy a book or two a month, not three or four a week, so this doesn’t seem all that economical. I think the trick in getting people to switch to eBooks is not in lowering the price of the device, but lowering the price of the content or developing a method for current owners of content to put it onto their device. Remember, the digital version of an album (mp3) was around long before the portable mp3 player and that people who bought mp3 players were able to use software to convert all their CDs (and tapes if you really wanted to bother with it) into mp3 format to put onto their players. I imagine that eBook adoption will be slower because people who have extensive libraries won’t be able to convert them into a digital format, they’ll have to buy a whole new copy (more like upgrading from VHS to DVD, but without any real performance upgrades). I also imagine that the eBook will take off a lot slower because reading requires the person to be engaged fully in the book, unlike music. I don’t envision many people reading their eBook while driving, mowing the lawn, riding their bike, or surfing the internet.

    My second question is why don’t publishers offer an upgrade to buying the printed copy of the book to include a digital version? I would be more likely to pay full retail price (versus the discounted store prices) directly to a publisher (via their online store or something) if they provided me with a digital copy of the book as well. This way I still have the paperback version and have an electronic version which is more convenient for me to read on my commute. This is similar to buying a CD and being able to obtain a digital copy of it for your mp3 player.

    If DRM won’t let me share a file after I’ve downloaded it, how is that a replacement for a real book? The ebook will probably do the same thing for printed media as mp3s did for audio. The only difference is that it’s happening after mp3s, so people have already figured out DRM and all the content management restrictions that weren’t available when mp3s tipped and became mainstream. The ebook has the advantage of learning from other’s mistakes. My friends and I pass (printed) books around and borrow them from one another all the time. It’s actually good because I’ve found a lot of new authors by doing so whom I probably wouldn’t have chosen to read otherwise. With DRM, I imagine that this “networking” aspect would be diminished by people who adopt the ebook technology and it would return once ebook pricing reached a point where people could justify taking a chance on the unknown. If a friend buys a new release from an author I haven’t heard of and raves about how great the book is, I’m not very likely to go buy the $20 hardcover that’s available without first reading an alternate title that’s available in paperback. The same thing will happen with digital content that’s protected, people won’t be likely to chance it for the initial price because once they have it, their stuck with it. There’s no market on eBay or flea markets for “used DRM eBooks”.

    I would be interested to know if the print copyright laws are subject to anything similar to the Home Recording Act of 1992 which would let me make a perfect digital copy of a CD for a family member. Can one theoretically make a full photocopy of a book as a backup for personal use or to give to a family member provided it’s a noncommercial use?

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  117. The Mini PC As an Ebook Reader | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Aug 24, 2008 @ 04:01:25

    [...] to read on a laptop or any device with a LCD screen. I suggest that you take a hard look at the eink devices I profiled last week. If you want something that is more multi function, like the iPhone, but want something [...]

  118. William Hostman
    Sep 08, 2008 @ 03:24:53

    iPhone
    For those wanting an iPhone just for reading and other non-internet apps, the iPod touch is the same form factor, same OS, just no cell-phone.

    Sony PRS-505
    I got a PRS-505 for father’s day. I like it a lot. But the screen is too small for many PDF ebooks. 8.5×11″ PDF is the de facto standard for role-play-gaming industry ebooks, some DRM, some merely “watermarked” with purchaser’s name on the bottom edge, and more and more, no copy protection. It really does handle text-based PDF quite well since the update. The scanned PDF’s, however, are not so happy, and one can’t control the grayscale points. Also one can not zoom in on images well. I’ve emailed Sony and Adobe on that issue.

    I’m hoping for the Astak 9.7″ to come out soon. I want one. Why? Reading gaming books at a more reasonable size.

    Calibre
    I like calibre. It allows me to do almost all sony stuff except system updates from my OS X box. For system updating and purchasing, I use parallels.

    Calibre has also allowed me to author content for use on my reader… and to take HTML and make it sony-format (which renders fast).

    I’m mostly happy with it.

    MobiPocket
    So long as content providers require exclusivity on the device, it’s bad for everyone.

    ReplyReply

  119. DoopySork
    Sep 30, 2008 @ 04:55:18

    nice post i haave RSS’d you, please update more often

    thankyou

    ReplyReply

  120. Gina (BookDragon)
    Jan 12, 2009 @ 01:55:51

    I bought a Kindle and returned it. The pages “turned” too slow for me and every time the page turned, the screen would black out first – it was giving me headaches. I have a Touch now but am looking at netbooks. Not as portable as my touch but more versatile

    ReplyReply

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