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Old 12-12-2007, 02:32 AM   #1
Stephen Cole
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Introduction: eb20 Online Reader by eBooks.com

[Stephen is founder of e-book retailer eBooks.com. The eb20 Reader he's introducing could become quite the killer application -- I'm curious if you agree. --Alex]

At Wallcraft's suggestion, here's some information about our new-ish online ebook reader. I say new-ish, because it's been out for nearly a year, but has received a fair amount of attention in the past few weeks because of partnerships we've announced with Dymocks Booksellers in Australia and Cambridge University Press. Both companies chose eb20 as their platform for providing online access to their customers.

Because of the commercial nature of this post, I'll keep my comments to a minimum, but I would be glad to hear your thoughts on the reader, and especially any criticism or suggestions.

You can see the reader in action here. To access the ebook, you'll need to register, which is free.

The idea behind eb20 Reader is that anyone who buys a book from eBooks.com or Dymocks also acquires perpetual online access to the work via eb20. Almost all of the 400 publishers who provide ebooks to Ebooks Corp have signed on to the eb20 program.

One of the virtues of eb20 Reader is that it's really just a web page, and there's nothing for the user to install. This is particularly good for people who are new to ebooks, who often get beaten to a pulp by the complexities involved in DRM reader software. But also, many of our customers have said they rather like the sense of security that we're minding their books for them. If their device is lost or dies, they can always log in and start reading where they left off; or download another copy.

The two biggest deficiencies at present are a) there's no zoom function (which we're working on now) and b) no read-aloud function, which is a whole big thing. Not scheduled yet.

Best wishes,

Stephen Cole
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Ebooks Corporation Limited
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Old 12-12-2007, 11:51 AM   #2
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I've used the online reader when I was without a handheld device and away from my home PC. I'm not a big fan of reading on my PC but the online reader works fine.
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Old 12-12-2007, 06:14 PM   #3
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TallMomof2 I am of exactly the same opinion. The software works well, and while my aim is download and use a reading device, the fact is that the idea of also having internet access to some of these works and not being tied to a particular device is also attractive, even though I could only see this as a fall back.

Stephen, just an aside , would your software allow me to also use my own web site as a depository for my other reading material? I was thinking that this might make your software more central to people like me as a preferred portal for all reading where-ever. I realize such an extension might not be practical for all sorts of reasons.

Plus I must compliment you in writing an article in such a way that is informative, yet acknowledges a pecuniary interest, and does not hawk your wares in salesmanship. Nicely done, I wish all such articles were so well done, explicit, clear and concise and honest. Considering how natural it is for any creator to see their own baby as the best, it is hard to be level headed and restrained - congratulations on doing a hard job well.
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Old 12-12-2007, 08:24 PM   #4
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How do you get the whole page to show up at the same time? I'm getting 2/3 of a page.
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Old 12-12-2007, 09:17 PM   #5
Stephen Cole
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GregS View Post

Stephen, just an aside, would your software allow me to also use my own web site as a depository for my other reading material? I was thinking that this might make your software more central to people like me as a preferred portal for all reading where-ever. I realize such an extension might not be practical for all sorts of reasons.
Greg, that's a great idea and not out of the realms of possibility. Someone mentioned that in-house last week. I think it would add a great deal to the appeal of the application

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Plus I must compliment you in writing an article in such a way...
So now I'm blushing.

TallMomof2, I'm glad you liked it!

lmarie, I'm concerned that you can only see 2/3 of a page. I think it'd be preferable if you could see the whole page . If you don't mind, I'll follow this up with you offline to see if we can get that fixed.

Cheers,

Stephen
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Old 12-12-2007, 11:17 PM   #6
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Greg, that's a great idea and not out of the realms of possibility. Someone mentioned that in-house last week. I think it would add a great deal to the appeal of the application.
Stephen
I have a problem with my Firefox, but the 2/3rds display of the page, if it is a limitation, needs a fix.

If you could get the add-on of private webspace to the software, it would make your software critical to me. First it would give me a reason to use my webspace as backup, I have lost so much over the years with crashing HDs.

Second I don't know how often I have been with someone, and thought, I have just what you are looking for, with your software I could add "let me use your computer for a moment and I will get it for you." Or been at work and had left something at home.

Could you consider also supporting some XML based Word processing documents (OpenOffice for instance), or even a simple XML wrapper for files so that they could be seen if not directly read (see how not being able to do much allows free development of features, at least, in my mind).

One more thing worth considering, its a biggy - book shelving. It needs, I believe a book numbering system, especially if the thing grows, as well as it might given your approach (which surprises me as at first it appeared as not really for me, and now it seems it could well be ideal for me). Please consider the universal decimal system for the distant future at least.

But for me if I could add in my own webspace I think I would be using it a lot, when I first saw it, I thought I might use it a tiny bit, but more as a means of simply buying books. Now with this possibility things change quite dramatically.
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Old 12-12-2007, 11:46 PM   #7
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I think the only part of this that doesn't thrill me is this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Cole View Post
One of the virtues of eb20 Reader is that it's really just a web page, and there's nothing for the user to install. This is particularly good for people who are new to ebooks, who often get beaten to a pulp by the complexities involved in DRM reader software. But also, many of our customers have said they rather like the sense of security that we're minding their books for them. If their device is lost or dies, they can always log in and start reading where they left off; or download another copy.
What many of us at MobileRead have experienced, has been e-book companies (like yours) that either go belly-up or change their focus/systems, resulting in any books people bought being lost to them completely. I'm not saying you will, but things happen... and with e-books, they've happened way too often already. If I could keep my own copy of the book I bought on my computer, I'd feel much better about it.
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:03 AM   #8
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If I could keep my own copy of the book I bought on my computer, I'd feel much better about it.
You do. I download and still have a copy on the bookshelf et ebooks, it is a back up service, that if it went out of business, I would still have my copies on my machine. I assumed it worked the same as you suggest at first, but it downloads and also keeps your copy there.

I was not thrilled originally, but I like the logic, I am getting the best of two worlds, and if they extend it so my own webspace can be integrated I think they are on a real winner (much less likely to change needlessly or go out of business).
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Old 12-13-2007, 09:06 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
What many of us at MobileRead have experienced, has been e-book companies (like yours) that either go belly-up or change their focus/systems, resulting in any books people bought being lost to them completely. I'm not saying you will, but things happen... and with e-books, they've happened way too often already. If I could keep my own copy of the book I bought on my computer, I'd feel much better about it.
Steve, Greg's comment is right: at eBooks.com, you do get to download the book to your computer / device and, in that sense at least, you are able to keep it forever. Also, the online version is also there whenever you need it.

But your reservations are fair too. Things are still too ephemeral in the e-world. PCs die, businesses fold. BN.com's sudden exit from ebooks was a case in point.

Stephen
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:07 AM   #10
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Well, I feel better, then.
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Old 12-13-2007, 02:17 PM   #11
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If I wanted to be tied to my PC...

I'd just smash my X51V, IPaq 2215, PRS-500 and Cybook Gen3. Oh to heck with it. I'll go ahead and smash my Pavilion a1560n, Dell 1505 and Compaq 2598 as well and just go back to lugging around a candle to pore over my dead tree books.

Geez! Dymocks sure doesn't have a friggin' clue! Introducing Yet Another PC/Web-browser-based Ebook Reader is *NOT* promoting the sales of ebook readers! D'Oh!

Derek

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Old 12-13-2007, 06:09 PM   #12
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delphidb96 that is what I thought when I first looked. However, the software is in-between-ware more than THE reader-ware as such. A download manager cocked to reading material, that supports PC reading, it is a shopper, but also a storage keeper.

It is in a sense a net based docking system, allowing browsing of books you have already bought, and repeated download - that is for me the nice feature. If it is expanded to include my other books that I place on my own web space, then it comes into its own IMHO.

Then anywhere in the world I can use a computer to access my reading material, download it into my reading device. Of course it is not quite there yet, but it is the first piece of software I have seen that really does have that possibility. Plus it would be nice to continue reading when I do not have the device handy.

In this respect it is not earth-shaking, just potentially very very handy.
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Old 12-14-2007, 05:47 AM   #13
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Yes, I think that's the point. eb20 is meant to supplement the functionality of downloaded files, not to replace them.

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Old 06-05-2009, 05:19 PM   #14
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HELP!!! Is there any way to change the font of a book that is viewed by eb20? I downloaded two books and they were fairly large print. Then I downloaded a third and the print is extremely small. Very difficult for me to read! I contacted eb20 HELP and they have yet to respond and that was several days ago.
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Old 06-05-2009, 05:46 PM   #15
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Hi konfettigold,

For now, there's no "Zoom" in eb20 Reader.



However that will change with the next release, due at the end of June.

For the time being, I can only suggest a magnifying glass.

Stephen Cole
CEO, www.eBooks.com
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