While the last few months have been dominated by publisher drama, it looks like things are quieting down, and we’re starting to hear more about upcoming readers (hardware and software). We have a lot to cover, including the (supposed) upcoming release of a much-anticipated reader, so let’s get started!
First, let’s start with the big picture. eBook sales increased 176.6% in 2009, showing they are easily the fastest growing segment of the publishing market. Not to be outdone by Amazon’s constant crowing about the Kindle being their best-selling item ever, Barnes and Noble is making the same claims about the nook. Not to rain on B&N’s parade here, but how exactly are they measuring this? It’s not like it’s outselling Harry Potter or the Da Vinci Code. Still, it’s great news that the nook is selling so well, and Barnes and Noble is making it clear they plan to make digital media their future. Now, if only they would fix their pricing disparity…
Next, apparently just about anything and everything can be turned into an ebook reader. Nintendo has announced a cartridge of 100 classic novels for their upcoming DXi handheld gaming device. There’s some great symmetry to this…Nintendo started with gameboys and they have evolved into ebook readers, while Apple started with a media device that has evolved into a gaming platform.
Meanwhile, if you decided your digital picture frame was too boring, and you can’t find the cash for a new ebook reader, try this python script. It turns each page into a JPEG, so it’s a poor man’s Kindle! One of Teleread’s commenters pointed out they used a similar program to read ebooks on a PSP, so presumably, you could try this on devices beyond just digital picture frames! It looks like it takes quite a bit of work (you need to figure out the font, how many lines per page, etc.) but if you absolutely must read an ebook on every device you own, this is your big chance!
Spring Design is breaking their post-CES silence, with a promise of pre-orders coming soon. They’ve posted this little note under the section of their website:
Thanks for your patience. We’re almost ready with our Alex store.
Keep checking in and by the first week of March you’ll be able to order your Alex online.
–The Spring Design Team
Hands-on reports of the Alex continue to be very positive, so hopefully, it will be worth the price when it eventually comes out. Of course, by the time the Alex actually hits stores, the iPad will be out, the Notion Ink Adam Tablet will be that much closer to release, and on the pure ebook side the nook, the Kindle and the Sony Reader are all coming in at around $100 cheaper. Is there enough of an audience to sustain the Alex? We’ll find out!
The titular Nate of “Nates eBook News” had the chance for some hands-on time with the Astri reader, an Android-based eBook reader that is similar to the Entourage Edge. After reading the write-up and watching the video, I really hope Astri comes through with this! It looks like a really unique device, and with the smaller screen (5inches) it would make a fabulous pocketable ebook reader AND android tablet rolled into one!
Finally, one more bit on the hardware front. iRex has announced their DR800 reader is now available at. It’s an 8-inch eInk reader, with 3G coverage through Verizon Wireless. The big twist here is that this is the first of the 3rd party readers to be accessing Barnes and Noble’s ebook store. In addition, the iRex has a touchscreen, so if you prefer handwritten notes this may be an attractive option for you.
Book Review: Obnoxious Librarian from Hades by Dennie Heye
I downloaded this book solely based on the title alone. As it turns out, this is a book version of an ongoing blog documenting the daily life of a (mostly) fictional corporate librarian. While some of the stories tried too hard, or the jokes fell a little flat, overall the stories are quite funny. You don’t need to have a library background to enjoy it; several times I felt like you could have inserted any retail job into the storyline and it would have been equally funny. Each “chapter” is a new episode of the Librarian’s adventures. The author brings a sort of Dilbert meets liberal arts feel to the whole theme, and overall it’s a quick and entertaining read.
(As I promised in my alternate ebookstores post, as part of my ebook coverage I will be including occasional book reviews from Feedbooks or Smashwords. These books can usually be found for free or at reasonable prices, and buying them supports unknown or new authors.)