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Old 09-08-2010, 02:37 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
Which ones?

I have an assortment here, including Mobipocket for the PC and for Palm OS, eReader for the PC and Palm OS, Plucker for Palm OS, The Kindle and nook apps for the PC, the eBook Viewer app for eBookwise IMP files, FBReader (a cross platform app for Windows, Linux, and other platforms supporting a variety of ebook formats, several different PDF viewers for Windows and Linux, and an assortment of miscellaneous other things.

There are some basics I demand of any such app. The first is that it properly display the ebook formats it's designed to read. The second is that it gives me some control over the precise display of the content, allowing me to adjust what fonts are used, the font display size, the line spacing and margins, and the amount of margin used. The third is that it provides some means of classifying and categorizing the books, so I don't necessarily see one huge list of all 4,000+ plus volumes in my electronic library, and can sort books by user defined criteria, and display only specified subsets of my library according to selection criteria I specify.

Of course, I want acceptable performance when I am reading a book, with commands to let me navigate through the book, find specific sections of text, and set bookmarks. And I want the ability to follow hyperlinks and display images in the text, scaled to fit the screen.

Most of what I use can do those things, though there are differences in precisely how the app does it, and I am sometimes constrained by the underlying platform.
Kindle for PC, Nook for PC, Kobo for PC, and eReader Pro for Windows. I found Kobo to be ok, and Ereader Pro to be the best (I do like the customization it offers) but they don't match my ereader for usability (Ereader Pro might. I haven't used it much).


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It's still anecdotal evidence. You may well be right that the majority of the market will like a non-backlit screen better, but at the moment there's no real evidence either way.

I do wonder, however, if the type of content being read has an effect on this. Almost everyone reading ebooks on whatever device also has a computer, either desktop or laptop, that they use for web surfing, email, videos and the like. They are also likely to have and use a computer at the office as part of their job. So they'll wind up spending quite a few hours in any particular day looking at a backlit screen and reading what's displayed on it.

People reading ebooks are reading large masses of continuous text, whether it is fiction or non-fiction, and the text is all related and part of the same content stream, unlike the more scattered text viewed in standard PC usage, where the presentation and topics vary widely, and you aren't reading a lot of text about any particular thing.
Interesting. And probably true for lots of people. I just know that for me at least, trying to read on my computer for long at all messes my eyes up for the rest of the day and can give me a headache. (Yes, I do wear glasses and no, I'm not over 50. )


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That's a matter of software. It's also in part constrained by the deice it's implemented on. For instance, I can read Mobipocket format ebooks on my PDA and on my desktop and laptop, but the Mobi software on the PCs can do things the version on the PDA cannot, because the PDA platform does not support the operations.

Platform, format, and software are all moving targets.

But I don't see what a dedicated reader that acquires other capabilities should become worse for reading. If it still does what it did before the same way it did it then, and you found the existing behavior acceptable, how would the ability to do other things as well damage that?
As long as it still did reading great, it wouldn't. But generally, I've found devices that try to do lots of things, fail at at least one of those things.

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As nearly as I can determine, then, the only thing that truly defines a product as an "ereader" is, um, well, whether it has the word "ereader" stamped somewhere on the box. That is, without doubt, an interesting methodology you have there for determining a product's market potential. I would assume, then, that if Apple had printed the word "ereader" on the box, you would happily extol its virtues to the ereader community?
Not at all. I would claim that the iPad is not an ereader for two reasons (#1 being the main one);
1. It is not a dedicated (no, I don't mean "does only does one thing".) device. (Remember those definitions?)
2. It's screen is backlit. (This is not necessarily a reason, but added to 1, it does generally push it farther out of the "ereader" realm.)

I would say that the iPad (and other devices) can be used as an ereader (and for some people they will work just fine), but it is not inherently an ereader as many articles that I have seen seem to think it is.

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Now, considering (a) first, it would seem that in all reality, the quality of the reading app is actually of very little importance for the device to be termed an ereader. For example, take the Sony 505. This is, you may or may not realize, a tablet PC running Linux as its OS. I'm sure by this point you are thoroughly horrified. But to press on: if you peruse MR on this particular ereader (although I'm not exactly clear on whether we can still call it that, but its box does have that word printed on it somewhere, so I believe we're still on safe ground here), you will find that a goodly number of folks consider the ePub rendering capabilities of the 505 to be fairly sub-par. Not really the highest quality out there. If you then compare that to the iPad's native ePub and PDF app, iBooks, you are left with the distinct impression that there are good things and bad things about both. The two apps, the 505's unnamed app and iBooks, are both fairly simple ePub renderers with limitations that may or may not be important to the particular end user. Consequently, since we can roughly conclude that the iBooks app is generally on par with the quality of the 505's reading app, but the 505 is an "ereader" whereas the iPad is not, we seem to have determined that the actual quality of the reading app is not what defines a device as an ereader.
I have actually never seen/used either device. However, you have made me think quite a bit about the ereader/tablet differences and I would like to try reading on an iPad when I get the chance.
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Old 09-08-2010, 08:45 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
I used to feel that way, but my attitudes changed over the years.

One of the things I began to do was replace PBs with durable hardback reading copies. I was aided in this because my preferred genre is SF, and the Science Fiction Book Club tended to create hardcover anthology editions of books that had been paperback series. I actually reduced storage space in some cases. (The SFBC also published some where the SFBC edition was the only hardcover edition, making them collectibles.)

Part of the motive was declining paperback quality. I had book where the paper was beginning to turn brown and crumple, and where the glue folding on the cover was failing due to gae, and the book was literally falling apart.

I buy books to keep, and want books I can keep.


You would still have to wait. There is a year between hardback and paperback release, precisely to give the hardback time to sell. Getting a paperback+ebook bundle would of necessity include that wait.
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Since these are "special editions" hardcovers ( i love omnibus editions) I second your opinion.
Funny enough here in germany such omnibus editions appear often enough in pback:

the original Conan stories, gibsons neuromancer trilogy, asimovs foundation trilogy, harrisons deathworlds, leGuins earthsea, just to name some i personally have.

but i was not speaking about such special HC editions (which clearly do not exist universally) I spoke about the average 1st print done HC edition.
One can be kucky if they have double the mass of the later coming pback, sometimes it is 3-4 times as much. A waste of shelfspace and my poor back for carrying.
that s why i said i'd rather pay more for a pback+ebook attached (drm-free of course) than to wait the year as long as they are selling the leadbricks.

ah btw. the SFBC you spoke of - they don't have a stainless steel rat omnibus do they?
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Old 09-08-2010, 09:19 PM   #33
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Good to see some bundling. I've said for ages, if Amazon, for example, offered the hardcover of a book, plus an ebook version for another dollar or two, I wouldn't buy books anywhere else.

In fact, I was waiting for this kind of thing to happen before buying an e-reader (because I hate DRM).

I still love the idea. I'd even put up with DRM on the ebook if we got a real hardcover that we could loan out / have as a backup / etc.
But we do not know what format will be bundled. And the problem is what about DRM? Last time I saw a bundle, it was PDF. And we all know how poor that will be overall for the reading experience. Unless of course they give us copies in ePub, Mobipocket, MS Reader, and PDF with no DRM, then it will maybe be OK. But otherwise, it could be a nightmare.
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Old 09-08-2010, 09:21 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by MR. Pockets View Post
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_e-book_readers

While the terms "ereader", "ebook reader" etc, are still not clearly defined, that definition (the complete wikipedia definition is a little narrow) is what I consider an ereader to be. The iPad clearly does not fit that definition. I'm not trying to be in your face/argumentative. I just have a problem with people calling the iPad (or other tablets) an ereader.
Actually, the term ereader to mean an electronic reading device is incorrect. eReader alread has a meaning and the meaning does not mean electronic reading device. Now what I do like is eBook reader or just reader. But ereader is bastardizing eReader and will never be correct.
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Old 09-08-2010, 09:33 PM   #35
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Once reason I'm not interested in a dedicated reader is that current dedicated devices mostly don't do color, and I need color support. Among other things, I collect illustrated editions, and have ebooks with drawings or paintings by people like Caldecott, Rackham, and Wyeth. Grey scale conversion of work originally in color is not acceptable.
OK, I have an iPhone 3G. It has a lot of functionality. But to be honest, it's sub-par at a lot of them vs. other dedicated devices. Yes you can read eBooks with it. But the Sony Reader PRS-505, & PRS-650 are both much better at it. The 3G has a camera but my Fuji digital camera blows that away. Yes, it can play games, but to be honest, you can do better on a Nintendo/PSP. The 3G can play music, but that's not all that wonderful because Apple lost focus and put in cheap hardware for the audio. My Rio Karma blows away the iPhone in terms of audio quality.

What has happened is that as some devices go multifunction, a lot of those functions get dumbed down/made worse. The iPod when it first came out was a good MP3 player. It wasn't wonderful, but it was good. it got better as newer models came out. Supposedly the iPod 4th generation is really good. But Apple then decided to add more features and cheapen the components used in the audio part and they lost quality/focus.

Sometimes a multifunction device just doesn't do well enough because it's doing too many things and cannot do any one of them them better then a stand alone device.

Even the iPad has problems. The version of Safari on their has a number of bugs and really needs a rework from the ground up. I've seen too many websites where you cannot type in the text box using Safari on the iPad (for example) and Apple has not allowed Flash so out go a large number of websites that you can use with the iPad.

So really, it's a matter of do you take the dumbed down multifunction device (this does not include netbooks, laptops, or desktop computers) or do you get better functioning stand alone devices?

Even my GPS is better then the iPhone if nothing else then because the batter lasts longer.
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Old 09-08-2010, 10:50 PM   #36
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Actually, the term ereader to mean an electronic reading device is incorrect. eReader alread has a meaning and the meaning does not mean electronic reading device. Now what I do like is eBook reader or just reader. But ereader is bastardizing eReader and will never be correct.
Do you mind expounding on the real definition/meaning?
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Old 09-09-2010, 05:51 AM   #37
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But we do not know what format will be bundled. And the problem is what about DRM? Last time I saw a bundle, it was PDF. And we all know how poor that will be overall for the reading experience. Unless of course they give us copies in ePub, Mobipocket, MS Reader, and PDF with no DRM, then it will maybe be OK. But otherwise, it could be a nightmare.
I think it's safe to say the nightmare is now where to get an e-copy along with the printed book for extra mobility occasionally you have to pay close to double the price. This is preposterous. Any format, even pdf, they decide to give us now will be better than the current parody, and it will be welcome.
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Old 09-09-2010, 05:56 AM   #38
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Do you mind expounding on the real definition/meaning?
eReader is the name of the program used to display eReader format eBooks.
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Old 09-09-2010, 05:56 AM   #39
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I think it's safe to say the nightmare is now where to get an e-copy along with the printed book for extra mobility occasionally you have to pay close to double the price. This is preposterous. Any format, even pdf, they decide to give us now will be better than the current parody, and it will be welcome.
Actually, if it is PDF and it costs more, it will not be welcome. It will be cursed and hated.
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Old 09-10-2010, 01:30 AM   #40
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eReader is the name of the program used to display eReader format eBooks.
And before that it was called Palm Reader, and the original version was called Peanut Reader.

It was first developed by Peanut Press, an early ebook publisher targetting Palm OS handhelds. It displayed files in PML format, an early markup language supporting color, embedded images, hyperkinks and text attributes, and PalmDOC files, a form of plain text file compressed to save space in memory and decompressed on the fly by the reader.

Palm bought Peanut Press and made them the Palm Digital Media division, and called the product PalmReader. The freeware version was distributed with most Palm OS devices. An enhanced payware version offered a more attractive UI and support for custom fonts, but was otherwise unchanged.

Palm sold the Digital Media division to Motricity, a B2B mobile content solutions provider, who renamed it eReader. They also operated the Palmgear and Pocketgear sites offering software for PalmOS and PocketPC devices. Motricity seemed to view the sites as "We eat our own dogfood" examples of the mobile content solutions they could provide, and eReader was allowed to languish. They sold commercial ebooks through the site, but their selection lagged farther and farther behind their competitors.

Motricity then sold the eReader operation to Fictionwise, and Fictionwise was in turn bought by Barnes and Noble.

The eReader viewer application is freeware, and available for Android, Blackberry, iPhone and iPod Touch, Linux, Macintosh, OQO, PocketPC, Symbian, Windows, and Windows Mobile. eReader files are supported as a legacy format by the Barnes and Noble nook, which uses ePub as the primary format.

You can get the viewer here: http://www.ereader.com/ereader/software/browse.htm

There is also a payware WYSIWYG app for creating PML format books called Ebook Studio, and a freeware app called DropBook you can use to generate eReader texts if you wish to write PML code by hand. You can get them here:
http://www.ereader.com/ereader/softw...studio_win.htm
http://www.ereader.com/ereader/help/dropbook/

And if you happen to have a Palm OS device and the original Peanut Reader, you can still read any PML formatted book. There have been no changes in the file format or markup language.
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Old 09-10-2010, 01:40 AM   #41
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So really, it's a matter of do you take the dumbed down multifunction device (this does not include netbooks, laptops, or desktop computers) or do you get better functioning stand alone devices?
It's not an either/or. Agreed, multi-function devices usually don't do everything well. If they dumb down a function they formerly did well, it's a very questionable design decision. But if they don't, the question becomes what functions you need them to do well, and whether a multifunction device that does that particular set well exists.

I'm unlikely to care about a camera, for example, as I already have a digital camera. So if the particular handheld has one but it isn't very good, I probably don't care. It's not why I got the device.

Purpose built devices designed for specific functions are likely to do them better than multi-function devices that include that function among others, but the question becomes how many you want to carry around.

I'm willing, for example, to carry my tiny cell phone for placing/receiving calls, and my multifunction PDA for everything else including reading ebooks. I'm not willing to carry phone, PDA and reader.
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Old 09-14-2010, 10:50 PM   #42
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It's not an either/or. Agreed, multi-function devices usually don't do everything well. If they dumb down a function they formerly did well, it's a very questionable design decision. But if they don't, the question becomes what functions you need them to do well, and whether a multifunction device that does that particular set well exists.

I'm unlikely to care about a camera, for example, as I already have a digital camera. So if the particular handheld has one but it isn't very good, I probably don't care. It's not why I got the device.

Purpose built devices designed for specific functions are likely to do them better than multi-function devices that include that function among others, but the question becomes how many you want to carry around.

I'm willing, for example, to carry my tiny cell phone for placing/receiving calls, and my multifunction PDA for everything else including reading ebooks. I'm not willing to carry phone, PDA and reader.
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The iPod used to be quite good for music playback. Then Apple decided to cheapen the parts used in the iPods. Now the iPods/iPhone do not sound nearly as good as they used to. Do you called this dumbing down?
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Old 09-15-2010, 12:29 PM   #43
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The iPod used to be quite good for music playback. Then Apple decided to cheapen the parts used in the iPods. Now the iPods/iPhone do not sound nearly as good as they used to. Do you called this dumbing down?
No, I call it what I did above: a questionable design decision.

I don't have an iPod/iPhone, and can't comment from experience on whether the sound quality you hear has declined. I'll take your word that it doesn't sound as good to you as it used to.

I'm thinking more in terms of a function that the device formerly did well which was reduced in capability, like UI changes that reduced the options you had in a previous version to do whatever the device does, because the vendor thought those options generated too much confusion and support calls. "These features are too confusing for the average user, so we'll just remove them..."

Agreed that a multi-function device won't do everything well. As a buyer, my question is "Does it do the following features that are important to me well enough to suit my requirements?"

My usual ebook viewer is a PDA. It performs those functions well enough that I feel no particular urge to get a dedicated reader instead. The things it doesn't do all that well aren't what I use it for, so I largely don't care.
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