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Old 07-13-2008, 07:45 AM   #1
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Cybook for a week and conversations with Pauline (from Bookeen)

english version of this thread.

If you've been following the MR apéro thread, you know that Bookeen rocketed to the top of my list as hero of the month by offering to lend me a cybook for a week (completely spontaneously, i swear !). i haven't said much about it so far since (despite any allegations to the contrary), like a true geek, i was far too busy playing with it (pshrynk, i'm going to need my geek card back now).

so here we go. i went to meet Pauline and pick up my Cybook-for-a-week friday evening. i had a very interesting discussion with her ; it was great to hear her ideas and get an idea of how things happen at Bookeen. first, i can tell you (sneak preview !) that they are currently working on a new firmware. i asked specifically whether it would support folders, but she didn't know ; she does know there is a lot of demand for pdf support, so perhaps that will be part of it. i'll try to get more info at the apéro.

she is really enthusiastic about the apéro and can't wait to organise more in the future (preferably an evening when she is available, next time), because she thinks it's really important for the Bookeen team to be able to exchange ideas with the public, in an informal friendly ambiance. in fact, in a striking example of great minds thinking alike just before we proposed this apéro over here she was talking with a colleague (who will probably be at the apéro, next friday), and they were saying that bookeen should organise some kind of informal meet, like a picnic or something, to break out of the conference meetings. because one of the biggest hurdles for ebooks right now (particularly in france, much more so than in the US) is that ebooks are still not known by the general public.

also, other than wanting to meet the general public and be able to show them the device in person, she thinks it's very important to lower the price, if they really want to become more mainstream. however for the moment, pvi has them more or less by the throat... so it's really important for pvi to increase their production and decrease their costs. they're also looking forward to seeing what will happen when plastic logic opens their factory in Dresden, but so far PL is not communicating much about their production calendar, so it's hard to know what to expect. but hopefully that will help to unblock the situation.

i thought it was really great to know that Bookeen thinks really a lot like we do, and has the same concerns and hopes, and especially that they're so open to hearing our ideas.

as for the cybook, i have not had it very long so i still have a lot to discover, but here are my first impressions :

(first of all, y'all were right, i'm seriously thinking about fleeing the country with it, because i don't want to give it back. heehee... no seriously, i'll give it back, but it will be hard.)

ok seriously now, to start with, it's so pretty !! you don't really realize, from photos, how much it *really* looks like paper. in fact, at first, i was not so much reading it as looking at it, because i'm still so amazed (sincerely).

next : it's so tiny !! it makes a huge change from my eb1150 (more about that later). same thing, from the photos, you really don't understand just how tiny it is. when i held it in my hand the first time, i couldn't believe how small and light it was, i could barely feel it.

as for ergonomy, since i'm used to the two big buttons of my eb1150 for turning pages, as i expected i found the directional pad somewhat less comfortable, because it really limits the possible ways to hold it. i really hope that future evolutions will address the design as well. but apart from that, it's really a pleasure to hold and to use. the one i have came from the most recent shipment, arrived only the day before, so perhaps there have been some ameliorations, since i did not encounter any of the difficulties i have seen mentioned. all the buttons are very reactive, i've not missed a page turn / selection yet. page turning is much faster than i expected. almost too fast ; sometimes, in the menu, i got carried away and before i knew it i was already past the option i wanted.

next i will talk about the format, that's one of the points which interests me the most, particularly html support and images... and i'll add some photos, to compare with the eb1150.

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Old 07-13-2008, 08:39 AM   #2
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No need to flee the country. You could have just sewn yourself up a Fedex uniform and picked up the NAEB shipment but now they'll recognize you.

I hope you've loaded it up with all the fonts you could find. It's one of the features I really like about the Cybook. Lately I've been changing the font every time I read a new book to give a little variety to my life. Georgia is still my favourite though.

On the html support... maybe Bookeen could make use of a web designer to help them with the html support.
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Old 07-13-2008, 09:16 AM   #3
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No need to flee the country. You could have just sewn yourself up a Fedex uniform and picked up the NAEB shipment but now they'll recognize you.

I hope you've loaded it up with all the fonts you could find. It's one of the features I really like about the Cybook. Lately I've been changing the font every time I read a new book to give a little variety to my life. Georgia is still my favourite though.

On the html support... maybe Bookeen could make use of a web designer to help them with the html support.
damned. why didn't i think of that ??? and now it's too late.

yep, i tested out the fonts right away. i think that feature is brilliant. more on that in just one minute.

as for the html support... i'd be perfectly happy to volunteer my services to help with that, in exchange for a free liseuse.
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Old 07-13-2008, 09:30 AM   #4
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cybook vs. eb1150

when i am not showing off with my cybook-for-a-week, i read on an eb1150. so here's a short comparison of the two.

you'll understand better, seeing the photos, why i was so impressed with the tiny size and especially the tiny weight of the cybook ; the eb1150 has a screen barely smaller, but it is about twice as thick at it's thinnest part, and more than 3 x as thick at it's thickest part. let's not even talk about the weight : according to the wiki, it's 18 ounces, so 510g, compared to 174g for the cybook !!! you understand why i don't carry it all over the city with me, but only use it at home.

i won't compare the screens, because the eb1150 has an lcd screen, not e-ink. i'll just say it's going to be hard to go back to it, now that i've tried out e-ink... especially since, i don't know where they dug out the font on the eb1150, but it's pretty ugly, and you can't change it.

speaking of which, being able to add your own fonts is an amazing feature on the cybook. i tried with Gill Sans, it's really nice. it happens that i prefer a serif font for reading, and Georgia (furnished by default) is one of my favorites, but i can easily imagine a situation where a specific font might be really useful, for example for showing special characters (enormous shortcoming of my eb1150 which i have already encountered, when i tried to convert a book which has a lot of greek characters).

on the other hand, and i expected this before ever having my mitts on the cybook, i continue to find that the eb1150 succeeded brilliantly in creating a really ergonomical design. first, the 2 big buttons on the side mean you can turn the page without any effort, quite naturally. you can hold your liseuse with one hand quite comfortably, without moving a finger (never was the expression so apt...) to turn the page. and, the cherry on top, when you are all snuggled under your quilt with a good book, which you're barely holding with one hand, and you want to change position, you can rotate the screen to hold it with the other hand ! yeah baby ! and when you do this, the buttons are automatically remapped, so that the top one is to page forward, and the bottom one to page backwards (unless you modifie this preference in the options). bravo !! not to mention the enormous advantage for, say, someone who is handicapped in their left arm (i'm being completely sincere here), and who can only hold it with their right hand.
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Old 07-13-2008, 10:00 AM   #5
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So, are you tempted to buy a Gen3, having seen how wonderful it is?

Have you tried dictionary lookup yet, by the way? I think that's one of the nicest features of the Gen3.
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Old 07-13-2008, 10:17 AM   #6
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oh, believe me, i was tempted before !!! now i'm even more tempted, but i only just bought my eb1150 about 6 months ago and i can't quite justify the expense of it so soon yet. if it were a bit less expensive, i think i would though.

i love the dictionary lookup on the eb1150 already and that's definitely a key feature for me ; i would not consider a liseuse which did not have it. i've tried it out on the cybook but only for testing purposes, since there is a demo dictionary on it which has only the letter L. so i looked up a word which i knew but which began with L ("lent"). very nice. it gave me a choice between "lent" and "Lent" which turned out to be the religious meaning, and i was able to easily navigate between both definitions which was really nice since i would probably always want to read all proposed definitions (especially if, one day, i have one of my own and buy several dictionaries for it, which i probably would do. i love dictionarires).
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Old 07-13-2008, 03:51 PM   #7
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file formats : html

one of the key features for me, is the formats supported natively (without conversion). ideally, i would like to read html files, and some text formats like .txt, .rtf, maybe even .doc). the most important to me is html, for several reasons.

it's an open format, which i think should remain accessible pretty much forever. i can't imagine a day when html will become so obsolete that it would not be possible to decode it anywhere, unlike, for example, the .imp format, which is completely closed (cannot be converted into anything else)).

it's a format which can show any character, as long as you have an appropriate font.

with css rules, you can give styles to the text to create really beautiful books which are a pleasure to the eyes. just because we appreciate the convenience of digital reading, doesn't mean we should give up the pleasure of a beautifully laid out text.

html, normally, can also handle images, so you can make illustrated books.

luckily, the cybook already supports several of these formats, including html. brilliant ! however, a few oddities : the text displays perfectly, but not the images ! not at all. you can see that in the photos i posted a few posts back : the two liseuses are showing the same text, an illustrated version of Three men in a boat. but, on the cybook, no illustrations. it's really a shame, for the illuminated first letters in particular ! i tried putting the illustrations in a sub-folder next to the html file, i tried putting all the images on the same level as the html in one folder, i tried putting them in a .zip (you never know)... nothing doing. so there are still some elements of html to implement, and i think this should be priority for a future update.

another problem, but a mobipocket problem this time : i sent the same html file thorugh the mobipocket creator, to resolve the problem of the missing images. ok, the images are there now, but my nicely formatted text with images floated inline left and right, is all broken : the text does not wrap correctly. i've made some screen caps to illustrate this : to the left, the .imp file (native eb1150 format, which is based on very early html), to the right, the same source html file, converted with mobipocket creator and displayed in the pc mobi reader. you can see the images are not at all where they belong.

this could be because i don't have much experience with mobipocket : don't hesitate to tell me if there is a way to do this.

ok, now it's dinnertime, so more later...
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:04 AM   #8
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And page numbers! Page numbers would be good.
Not a huge deal for my leisure reading, but for my work stuff it's a useful reference point.
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:33 AM   #9
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On the HTML, I have noticed that it get lost swapping in and out of italic mode, staying jammed on in italic mode.
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:49 AM   #10
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I find the CYbook's case improves the "bookishness" of the reader, giving the feel of a small hardback book, (12mo, or duodecimo, for those into sizing and building books from scratch. (Yes, I have, but I'm going all digital nowadays.))
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Old 07-14-2008, 01:38 PM   #11
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a few oddities : special characters

i have a book with a lot of special characters (greek, phonetic transcriptions, etc.) which are encoded in html or included as images. the special characters don't work at all on my eb1150, which is a shame. so i thought it would be the perfect opportunity to enjoy this book, since the html displays perfectly, so logically i should be able to make a lovely .prc without losing anything.

oddity 1 (mobipocket) : when creating my mobipocket, first i wanted to use the html file. so i imported the the .htm and all the images into mobipocket creator (drag / drop in the window). when i launch the "build" of the book, i can follow the progress and it indicates the conversion of each image file. if it converts them, it means it found them, logically. yet, at the end, it gives me a list of errors saying it was UNABLE to find the images, and they are not in fact in the book. why ?? also, i had a .css style sheet which it did not want to take. that's kind of a shame.

oddity 2 (bookeen) : through perseverence, i did eventually manage to make a really nice .prc edition, by starting from the .opf file created by convertLit, so now i have a beautiful mobi book, perfectly formatted, with all the images and every special character, when i preview it in the pc mobipocket reader. yay ! BUT, when i transfer the book to the cybook, arg !! a lot of the special characters disappear !!! and i have those stupid blank squares instead. i thought, maybe the font i am using is not complete, so i charged Times New Roman (i don't think there is a glyph in the world which is not represented in TNR). still those squares. so, it must come from the firmware, which only supports a partial charset. and frankly i find that very disappointing. it would be really nice to have that fixed in a firmware update.

other mobipocket oddity which i forgot to mention the last time, concerning html and images : when i catch an RSS feed with the mobipocket reader, it doesn't take the images. i can tell you, when you want the RSS of a comic strip, if you don't have the images, there's really no point.
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Old 07-14-2008, 01:42 PM   #12
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On the HTML, I have noticed that it get lost swapping in and out of italic mode, staying jammed on in italic mode.
do you mean that it doesn't notice a closing italic tag, and continues to italicise the text ? what do you mean by italic mode ?
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Old 07-14-2008, 02:37 PM   #13
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i sent the same html file thorugh the mobipocket creator, to resolve the problem of the missing images. ok, the images are there now, but my nicely formatted text with images floated inline left and right, is all broken : the text does not wrap correctly.
I'm impressed that you got any text at all in-line with an image. I can't recall another example where MobiPocket did even this well. Given that Mobipocket does not float text around images, it is usually best to center the image - which MobiPocket does not do by default.
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Old 07-14-2008, 02:48 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by zelda_pinwheel View Post
i have a book with a lot of special characters (greek, phonetic transcriptions, etc.) which are encoded in html or included as images. the special characters don't work at all on my eb1150, which is a shame. so i thought it would be the perfect opportunity to enjoy this book, since the html displays perfectly, so logically i should be able to make a lovely .prc without losing anything.

oddity 1 (mobipocket) : when creating my mobipocket, first i wanted to use the html file. so i imported the the .htm and all the images into mobipocket creator (drag / drop in the window). when i launch the "build" of the book, i can follow the progress and it indicates the conversion of each image file. if it converts them, it means it found them, logically. yet, at the end, it gives me a list of errors saying it was UNABLE to find the images, and they are not in fact in the book. why ?? also, i had a .css style sheet which it did not want to take. that's kind of a shame.

oddity 2 (bookeen) : through perseverence, i did eventually manage to make a really nice .prc edition, by starting from the .opf file created by convertLit, so now i have a beautiful mobi book, perfectly formatted, with all the images and every special character, when i preview it in the pc mobipocket reader. yay ! BUT, when i transfer the book to the cybook, arg !! a lot of the special characters disappear !!! and i have those stupid blank squares instead. i thought, maybe the font i am using is not complete, so i charged Times New Roman (i don't think there is a glyph in the world which is not represented in TNR). still those squares. so, it must come from the firmware, which only supports a partial charset. and frankly i find that very disappointing. it would be really nice to have that fixed in a firmware update.

other mobipocket oddity which i forgot to mention the last time, concerning html and images : when i catch an RSS feed with the mobipocket reader, it doesn't take the images. i can tell you, when you want the RSS of a comic strip, if you don't have the images, there's really no point.
Yep. Bookeen hasn't quite got all the bugs out of its HTML handling. And I've learned to live with the quirks of .mobi on Cybook vs .mobi on the PC - which one would presume did not need to happen given that Bookeen should be working from the Mobipocket SDK.

Derek
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Old 07-14-2008, 02:49 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wallcraft View Post
I'm impressed that you got any text at all in-line with an image. I can't recall another example where MobiPocket did even this well. Given that Mobipocket does not float text around images, it is usually best to center the image - which MobiPocket does not do by default.

Yeah... I usually center the image when embedding. Sure, it breaks up the flow of the text, but at least it's consistent behavior in all my ebooks.

Derek
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