Tag Archives: eBook

My perfect ereader

I’ve had my Kobo Aura HD for just over a week now, before that I had a Sony PRS605, Kindle Keyboard and a Kindle 4 non-touch. Each had it’s pros and cons and it’s got me thinking about what my perfect ereader would be.

Screen
The size should be between 6 and 7 inches, the Sony and Kindles were around 6 inches and my new Kobo is 6.7 inches, any bigger and it would become too unwieldy and probably too heavy for easy portability. It also should be eInk as opposed to LCD, the battery lasts longer with eInk and my eyes prefer it over a backlit screen when reading for longer periods of time.

There shouldn’t be any possibility of dust becoming trapped between the screen layers. After a while some dust particles had worked its way between the layers of the Sony, my first ereader, after moving around for a while they became stuck almost in the middle of the screen. That was very distracting when reading.

The screen also should be lighted. I like the relatively even lighting of the Kobo Aura HD, only at the bottom there is a very, very faint darker shadow. I prefer a warm lighting over a cool, blueish or greenish light. Also, the lowest setting should be low enough to be able to read by in total dark.

Controls
The Sony had both a touch screen and buttons, though the page turn buttons weren’t in a very practical location. The Kindles had a page forward and page back buttons on both side of screen, which was ideal. The way I usually hold my ereader is with my thumb on the side of the screen, where the Kindles buttons were, I just had to press the button to go to the next page. Most ereaders with a touch screen nowadays seem to have no buttons at all. My ideal reader would have the page turn buttons of the Kindles but also a touch screen. The touch screen should be adjustable so you can decide which area to press to page forward, back and open the menu.

Library Management
Most importantly it should work with Calibre, which is so much better than any of the software developed by ereader manufacturers.

I wish it would be easier to manage shelves/collections. For the Kindles I used the Collection Manager plug-in, but found it bothersome and with the newer Kindles it won’t work at all. Both the Sony and my Kobo can create shelves automatically if you set up Calibre just right. I have it now set up to shelf books according to series, but you can also choose to set it up to make shelves for genres or authors.

My ideal method would be that I would be able to make shelves/collection manually on the reader when it’s connected to Calibre and I could drag books over it. It should also have the possibility to add books to multiple shelves.

Storage
A lot of people are upset that Amazon has chosen to reduce the storage space of newer Kindles from 4GB to 2GB. I personally didn’t care, I don’t keep my entire ebook library on my reader. However, 2GB would be my minimum. Many manufacturers have started working with a cloud, if you buy a book in their store it will be added to your cloud and you can easily download it to your reader. I wouldn’t like to be dependant on that system, I often buy books from stores other than that of current ereader I’m reading and convert it to the good format. I would never buy an ereader where I can’t sideload an ebook with Calibre.

I like it that the Kobo has got a slot for a micro SD card, I think the Sony also had the possibility to use a SD card. I probably won’t use it, but I love that I have the possibility to just copy all my books to an SD card and my reader being able to read it.

Format
My ideal reader would be able to read all formats, epubs, kepubs, mobi, azw3, etc. With and without DRM. No matter what format all options would be available; my current Kobo’s got nice features when using kepubs, but not when using epubs.

Flexibility
I love the flexibility of my Kobo, it’s got a lot more font than my Kindles or Sony plus I can load my own fonts. Like all readers you can change the font size, but also distance between lines (I prefer reading with a bit more space between the lines) and how much white space you want around the text. You can also set the weight of the text (how bold) and it’s sharpness.

Other
I love the Kindle’s option of emailing an ebook to your reader. So, my ideal ereader’s got to have wifi, also to receive updates. I would be able to shop at any ebook store and have them send my purchases to my reader.

I’m pretty happy about battery life. Most manufacturers promise 2 months when you read half an hour a day, for me that means I have to recharge ever week to two weeks. Longer battery life would, of course, be welcome.

Most important of all, something that really isn’t part of my ideal ereader is that all books would be available as ebooks and done well.

pBook Invasion

Ever since I got my eReader I’ve mostly been reading eBooks. Occasionally I read a paper book (pBook) because it isn’t available at all as eBook or not it isn’t available in my region. The last week there has been a pBook invasion. Last week I got Inkheart by Funke, it used to be available as eBook but has disappeared since the stupid Agency Model has been introduced. Today I ordered The Relic by Preston and Child, it isn’t available as eBook, though later books in the same series are (this happens quite a lot). And I ordered The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Braun, this one is available as eBook but only in the US (so I could get it with my workaround) but only in PDF. PDF’s of older books are often hard to read because they are scanned from the paper version and often seemingly not proofread so you get silly mistakes and/or the lay-out/formatting is weird. So I try to avoid PDF’s altogether.

I borrowed an omnibus from the first to novels of The Vampire Diaries series from my sister. Next week I’m going to the Efteling and I want a book for the trip (because of work my train is taking a longer route), but The Vampire Diaries is bigger than I would like to bring so I just bought Beckett’s Whispers of the Dead (The Cat… and The Relic won’t be here before my trip).

Before getting to any of my pBooks I still have to finish The Historian by Kostova, which I am enjoying very much, and should be able to finish it within a couple of days.

Too many new eBooks

Before, when I read paper books I never really follow the releases. When I wanted a new book I’d search either online or in the bookstore for something that I would like or see if one of my favourite authors had a new book out.

Since I got my eReader I keep an eye on the new releases on BooksOnBoard. This results in my wishlist having 93 books on it at the moment. Not all are new, some are older books I want to read or are the start of an interesting looking series and others are old time favourites of mine (like Stephen King’s It and The Stand).

On my eReader I am reading  Notes from a Big Island by Bill Bryson at the moment and I have a mystery I want to read next, plus I have several classics (both ones I have read and want to reread and ones I haven’t read yet) I want to read.

I really want to shorten my wishlist too, it seems to grow each week by several books. I kinda have decided that this summer I want to read (most of) The Dresden Files. I’ve already read the first two and really liked it. I’ve also watched the tv series of which, unfortunately, only one season was made.

So many ebooks, so little time (and money)!

Required eBook Pricing

An interesting post on the BookOnBoard website. From April 1st 5 of the 6 big publishers demand that eBook sellers sell their ebooks at a fixed pricing. The publishers are: Hachette, Penguin, Harper Collins, MacMillan and Simon & Schuster. No eBook store can sell books of these publishers at a lower price than they set them. This means no more discounts, I don’t know if stores can offer things like reward dollars, reward point or anything similar on these books. Besides set prices they also demand US customers to pay taxes on their ebooks.

Is it me or does this sound like (illegal) price-fixing?

I suspect the price set by of all of these publishers will be very similar and I am wondering if they would win if they would be taken to court. They need to be working together on this otherwise why would they all start with this nonsense on the same day.

I know I have books of these publishers on my wishlist, I hardly every buy an ebook priced over 10 dollars or euros (I know their not worth the same but it’s just easier to stick by this rule than having to calculate exchange rates). I make exceptions, mostly for non-fiction books or books that are just released (though I usually wait until the price is lowered). I will make an exception for these five publishers and vow not to buy their ebooks when they are priced over my 10 dollar/euro limit.

I hope they will see a drop in sales and are forced to lower their prices. I also hope that authors will protest this decision, in the end they are the victims if sales of their books drop due to price fixing of their publishers. They also do not realise that they are sending people over to “the dark side” (downloading the book from website who offer it illegally for free), they give people more reasons to justify illegal downloading to themselves because they feel like they are being ripped off by these publishers.

Don’t get me wrong I can understand some pricing decisions. When a book is just released in paper edition it’s usually as a hardcover edition, which is more expensive. When the paperback is released it’s cheaper. I think it would be wisest for publishers to release the ebook at the same time as the hardcover (not like some publishers do and wait 3 months or so) and for the same price, when the paperback is released lower the price of the ebook. In other words: keep the price of both paper and electronic edition (nearly) the same. That way people can make a decision if they want to pay full price when an ebook is released or wait, just like many do when a paper book is released. I can’t justify it to myself to buy an ebook version of, for instance, Stephen King’s The Shining for nearly $30 whilst the paperback is less than €10 no matter how much I would like to have a digital edition of this book.

After checking my wishlist on BooksOnBoard (74 ebooks at the moment) I see that I have not many books of those publishers on my lists and only two or three that are priced below my maximum. I advice other readers to buy the books they want of these publishers before April 1st (BTW this is not an April Fool’s joke).

Publishing eBooks

Ever since I found BooksOnBoard I check the new release list every day (one of the reasons why I now I have a 60+ wishlist). I noticed two things that often occur and it makes me wonder if some publishers actually want to sell ebooks. It regularly happens that ebooks don’t have a cover like the printed version, BoB uses their stand-in image. I understand that the rights of the cover of paper books are often seperate from the book and that the publishers haven’t got the rights to digitally reproduce it, but is it so hard to put something simple together, even if it is only the author’s name and the book title on an unpatterned background? I have a tendency to skip these books, not even looking what they are (you have to pass your mouse over it to see the details).

Even worse is that ebooks that haven’t got a cover often don’t have a synopsis either. Some ebooks with cover also haven’t got synopsis or it has spelling mistakes in them making them virtually unreadable (often it seems that those typos are made by converting the text from one format to another). I just wonder how a publisher thinks that he can sell ebooks without providing a blurb telling the potential reader what the book is about?! Maybe they expect you to guess by the cover (when there is one) what the ebook is about, that people who think they might like the book get the information elsewhere, or when there is a blurb but one with spelling mistakes people read it anyway.

I assume BoB puts up the information they get from the publishers. If they do not get a cover they use their generic image and if they don’t get a synopsis they cannot put it up, you can’t expect the BoB staff to read all the ebooks they sell. I can even understand that they haven’t got the time to spellcheck every synopsis they get and I even suspect that publishers forbid them to change anything about the synopsis even if it contains typos and/or spelling mistakes. However, I have no patience for these books. I might read the blurb from a coverless book when I get it back when I do a specific search, but books without synopsis or one with bad typos I skip entirely.

eBooks

I’ve had my eReader now for two and a half weeks and have nearly finished my 5th book on it. I really love my reader but I am a bit annoyed with the availabillity of eBooks.

Bol.com expands their catalogue daily it seems, but a lot of the new books they offer I’m not interested in. It’s remarkable how many steamy romance novels and science fiction stories are available for eReaders, it seems that the publishers have decided that women and nerds are their target audience. Luckily Books on Board offers more choice, I’m into horror stories at the moment and they have a lot of interesting books, though I have to say that a lot of books found in the horror catagory have a cover which shows either half naked men or women *sigh*.

Then there are the region restrictions. More books are available for download if you live in the US than when you live in Europe. I think this is ridiculous! In bookstore I can buy and order American versions of books I want to read but I can’t download them. I would love to read the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel or try a Joe Abercrombie novel but alas, not where I live. Sure, I can fake IP address and go through other hoops to get ebooks that are region restricted to the US, but I don’t want to have to do that, I just want to read.

I understand that writer can have different publishers on different continents, but how hard is it to have these various publishers agree that a novel will be simultaniously released as ebook too? They can do that with the treebook version why not with a digital version too? This week Stephen King’s latest novel Under the Dome is released, publishers have decided to release the ebook next month, the price will be $35 (probably won’t be available in Europe for a while), which is as expensive as the hardcover is officially priced and  twice as expensive as the hardcover on offer at Amazon.com at the moment. I ordered the treebook version before I got my ereader but haven’t cancelled because of the delay, price and high probability of it not being released in Europe as ebook.

But thanks to Books on Board I have discovered some new books and authors I’m interested in. The local bookstore doesn’t stock that many English horror novel, mostly those of well known writers as Charlaine Harris, Anne Rice and Clive Barker. Novels of unknown writers are seldom found and it’s even hard to find books of writers as John Saul and James Herbert cannot be found and when asked if they can order it they don’t know the writer. BoB offers 3 ebook and 3 audio book suggestions on the page of each ebook and audio book which made me find some ebooks that seem interesting and now await buying on my wishlist. My only wish would be that BoB offers not only a wishlist but also a favourite author list on which you can add your favourite authors and keep track of new releases.