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Novelists On the E-Book Experience 215

Posted by timothy
from the war-and-peace-batteries-dead-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes "How is reading different on a Kindle, a Nook, or an iPhone? The NY Times asked two writers what they thought. Joseph Finder, the author of thrillers, misses the indices compiled by humans and finds it annoying the way that all of the fonts are the same. Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels, actually likes the simplicity because he can concentrate on the words themselves. And then there's the issue of monopoly, which must give the authors the willies."
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Novelists On the E-Book Experience

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  • No problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:23PM (#30313718)
    I love the -idea- of Ebook readers, nothing is more awesome than being able -in theory- to carry around all my college text books and all my favorite novels on a thin little device that has a huge battery life. But in general all the systems that I've thought about buying I've turned down for being to locked down, or to expensive. DRM and Price is really a deal breaker, and the idea of rebuying books I already own so I can read them on my ebook reader is a little obnoxious. I love the Idea just hate the execution thus far, but I'm still hopeful for the tech to catch on.
    • Re:No problem (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FrankSchwab (675585) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:42PM (#30314014) Journal

      I agree; why the hell would I pay $300 for a device just so I have the right to pay $10 for each book I want to read?

      A device with an unprotected screen that I don't expect to last a year?
      A device that, should Amazon or Sony decide to get out of the market, will become a paperweight that I can't read my purchased content on anymore, and can't transfer my purchased content anywhere (see Yahoo Music Store, MSN Music, Walmart online music, etc ).
      A device that can, at any time, decide that some of my content is no longer "acceptable", and delete it (see Amazon and "1984"/"Animal Farm")?

      The concept is great; the current implementations just suck. /frank

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        A device with an unprotected screen that I don't expect to last a year?

        Ever heard of a cover? Jeeze, it's not that hard man. I assume you don't buy laptops either because they'll break in less than a year, that screen is so unprotected!

        A device that, should Amazon or Sony decide to get out of the market, will become a paperweight that I can't read my purchased content on anymore, and can't transfer my purchased content anywhere (see Yahoo Music Store, MSN Music, Walmart online music, etc ).

        While you are absolutely correct about Amazon (which is why I don't recommend the Kindle), you are completely wrong about Sony and everybody else. Sony now only sells e-books in the ePub format, and has offered to update all of their old readers' firmware, which don't support the format, so that they will. EPub is ubiquitous, there are dozen

        • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

          by Zerth (26112)

          Since when did the kindle not appear as a mass storage device?

          I copy all my kindle books to disk to prevent Amazon from "repossessing" them and to crack them to allow speech to text.

          I'd miss browsing on the free cell connection if Amazon tossed it, but I've got a browser on my phone, even if the battery life is shorter.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by supermank17 (923993)
          Just to chime in here, you have a few facts wrong about the Kindle (which I do own).
          You can mount it as a USB mass storage device, and archive your books or add books that you acquired separately from the Amazon store. Only the encrypted books you purchased from Amazon will be unreadable on any other device you may have (although theoretically you can crack the encryption on the DRM'd books). I believe you can even reload books that Amazon may have "revoked" from your backup and still be able to read them
      • by ISoldat53 (977164)
        What a great project for OLPC. They would make a great ebook reader if someone could put together an OLPC activity that is easy to install and use.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by genghisjahn (1344927)
        Good points all, but Amazon did send an email apologizing for the Animal Farm hubub AND offered a return of the book OR a $30 Amazon credit. And promised not to do it again.

        Here is the email they sent in full -

        Hello,

        On July 23, 2009, Jeff Bezos, our Founder and CEO, made the following apology to our customers:

        “This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our “solution” to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by JohnBailey (1092697)

          "This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our "solution" to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.

          Translation.. Sorry I shot your dog and ran over it five times in front of your kids. Here's the

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I wouldn't have much need for one. It would be great for school (if I'd had one when I was still going; computers used Hollerith cards back then), except you'ld have to pay full price for new textbooks instead of buying them used, and you couldn't resell them when the school year was done. It would be great for vacation, except I rarely travel and when I do, reading is the last thing on my mind. When I read, I'm IN the book; when I read Pratchett, I'm not in Illinois, I'm on Diskworld.

      Most of the books I re

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        I love my e-book reader, but I would never recommend it for school books.

        Imagine one of your books on a 6" (or smaller) screen - yeah, it sucks. So if you don't read for pleasure don't bother.

        The only good ebook reader for technical books and documents is the iRex (I wouldn't touch a Kindle with a 10-foot pole, because of their obscene lock-in), and that would set you back about $800. The Plastic Logic Que should be out early 2010, and it may or may not be cheaper, they have not released pricing yet.

        Most of the books I read come from the city library anyway. It's not much use there, either.

        The e

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mcgrew (92797) *

          The ePub DRM allows libraries to lend books now, and libraries are starting to pick it up.

          Once it becomes common enough that most books are available from the library in ebook form, I may get one.

          there are over a million public domain books available for free from both Google Books and Project Gutenberg

          I've not found any free on Google Book; in fact, they seem to discourage your reading books that are in the public domain. Project Gutenberg is a good source, though. There are also writers like Doctorow and

          • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

            I know you can get the public domain Google Books for free via the Sony store, I have no idea why they wouldn't offer them through themselves in the same way, unless it is because of a stupid deal with Sony.

            In any case, since Sony is doing ePub now, you don't need a Sony reader to buy (or download for free) ebooks from their store.

            There are also writers like Doctorow and Lessig that publish under the GPL and host their books in many formats on their websites. I wish someone would set up a list of these writers with links.

            Check out Mobile Read [mobileread.com], they have regular uploads of free e-books (non-public domain, about 500 in there now, as I recall) as well as a great community of e-book enthusiasts.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by cmiller173 (641510)

            Go to books.google.com and browse any genre. On the left select "Public domain only". Not all of the books are in ePub only, some can be in pdf.

            However I like manybooks.net. Most every book the have (25,439) is available in 20+ formats including the original Sony(.lrf) format, ePub(.epub), Kindle(.azw), mobipocket(.prc and .mobi), palm DOC(.pdb) heck even Newton(.pkg) format is supported.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      Basically everything but the Kindle is opening up. Everyone is switching to at least supporting ePub, and a number of stores sell only ePub now instead of their formerly proprietary format (like Sony). Eventually even the Kindle will have to compete or die as competition grows via the ePub format.

      Your requirement of a lack of DRM is, frankly, silly. This is the modern digital age - you will not be able to avoid DRM completely no matter what you do. Do you refuse to watch DVD's because they have copy pro

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by Nyeerrmm (940927)

        To be clear, and this FUD has been going around since the thing came out, you can use non-DRM formats on the Kindle. TXT and MOBI/PRC files can be read no problem -- the device mounts as a flash drive, you copy them over and they appear readable on the home screen. You can also get DOC and HTML files converted for free. The lack of ePub could be a frustration if a good DRM-free ePub store appears, but given that the spec leaves room for any DRM scheme to I expect that it will be just as fractured as anyth

        • http://www.webscription.net/ [webscription.net] for Baen Books and several other related imprints.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          To be clear, and this FUD has been going around since the thing came out, you can use non-DRM formats on the Kindle. TXT and MOBI/PRC files can be read no problem -- the device mounts as a flash drive, you copy them over and they appear readable on the home screen.

          Text has been available for everything, and mobi pocket is going the way of the dinosaur. I appologize for not including them, but it's a non-issue as everything else does it too, and text ebooks suck monkey balls. However, anything other than those (like .doc or .pdf, the most common document formats in the world) must be sent to Adobe and, at their grace, sent to your Kindle. Also, books purchased from Amazon for the Kindle are non-transferable, even to another Kindle, and you cannot buy books from ano

          • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

            Looking at the B&N ebook store, it looks like everything thats not public domain is still DRM'd. To me this isn't any better than the amazon store, since while both are built on a decently open format (ePub and Mobi), you still can't read them without authenticating them. DRM is going to make incompatibilities, there is no way around it. While there are no sources of DRM free movies, there are plenty of sources of DRM free music. This was done because the music labels were scared to death of being b

          • Just to correct you on one point, the kindle 2 and DS read PDF natively. Only the Kindle 1 needs you to send it thru Amazon. Books are transferable to up to 5 kindles on one account, not to a stranger. Although most of the ebooks that claim this as a feature have it crippled. (For example the Nook lets you lend a book only one time for 14 days). Your other points are all valid; however, I like my families kindles and they treat us well. YMMV
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by WalkingBear (555474)

          "There is no source that I know of for new, legal novels without DRM."

          Wrong. Baen publishing has been selling their entire catalog for almost 10 years with NO DRM. RTF, HTML, Mobi, epub, sony, and rocket formats. Direct support from their store for e-mailing to your kindle and relatively simple support for the iphone/ipod touch.

          They're also selling several other publisher's books through their store now too. Including a direct competitor, Tor.

          Scott

    • But in general all the systems that I've thought about buying I've turned down for being to locked down, or to expensive.

      The bookstores linked to each device may be DRM-laden, but most will read ebooks loaded from other sources that are DRM-free, and there are plenty of DRM-free ebooks in formats usable on reader devices available from publishers over the web rather than the through the bookstores linked to the readers.

    • by Alinabi (464689)
      Then get the Astak EZ Reader. It reads any format under the sun (including .djvu, which means you can put scanned documents on it), it is not tied in to any particular store, and it sells for $265. The battery lasts for 5,000 page turns, it takes a 4Gb SD card, and you can plug it into a USB port on your computer and treat it as a USB hard drive. I had it for 3 months and so far I have no complaints.
    • by bazorg (911295)
      Well let's see you put your money where your mouth is. right now at ebuyer.com item: 176445

      that's £120, no DRM. There are 270 in stock right now, I expect to see them all gone tomorrow after my post is read by a lot of /.rs.

  • stupid (Score:3, Funny)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:27PM (#30313798) Homepage

    Fonts the same? The Kindle can do multiple fonts. It can do bold and italic. It can even do illustrations. Why are we asking this guy's opinion if he obviously has never even used the device?

    • The /. summary is very poorly worded. He means all the fonts are too similar to each other. If you RTFA, you'll see that he uses his Kindle regularly.

      • Re:stupid (Score:4, Funny)

        by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:53PM (#30314170) Homepage

        If you take time to read the stories on slashdot, by the time you post you will be so far down the page nobody will ever read, reply to, or moderate your comment. Reacting to the summary is all we can reasonably expect!

        • You've been modded funny but I think this is really true; Slashdot's comment moderation system is one of the best on the Net, but the major down side is that comments posted after a while get buried. A lot of good comments just get buried in the mess. I wish there was some way to counter act that but nothing seems readily apparent to me.

          • I wish there was some way to counter act that but nothing seems readily apparent to me.

            Well, it only helps if many people do it, but you can change the order in which comments are displayed. Sometimes I view chronologically without threads, sometimes chronologically with threads. Sometimes I'll pick another format for the hell of it.

            I read at -1, raw and uncut.

            Anyway, it's long been known that threadjacking is great for karma whores... most people who've been on slashdot for a while know that the best d

      • by jank1887 (815982)

        I'm guessing he'd like to see more Comic Sans

  • by srussia (884021) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:28PM (#30313802)
    a revival of "Choose Your Own Adventure" books.
  • finds it annoying the way that all of the fonts are the same.

    One thing that made "The Road" striking was indeed the unique font, which shared a touch of the same depressing tone as the terse text. Times New Roman et al would have degraded the reading experience.

    When might we see eBook readers which allow inclusion of text-specific fonts?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stagg (1606187)
      What it NEEDS is screen fonts that are analogous to the original print font.
    • When might we see eBook readers which allow inclusion of text-specific fonts?

      We already see them: for instance, readers that support PDFs exist--including the Nook and the Kindle DX. The non-PDF eBook formats that are popular for use on readers, while they may support specifying fonts, generally don't (much like HTML) require it, and default to whatever default font is set on the device.

      As the same document in these formats can be viewed on different types of readers (e-paper vs. small LCD vs. larger LCD co

      • by Brandee07 (964634)

        Some books from the Kindle store are in a format called Topaz (.tpz) which allows for embedded fonts- including foreign languages like Japanese.

        There is also a hack out there that lets you install your own fonts and choose which font your books display in.

    • To me it wasn't so much the printed font, but the lack of all quotation marks which gave the physical text a stark feeling. I have both a printed copy of "The Road" and a Kindle copy, and that starkness came through in both.

      My other two cents: The Kindle sucks for any reference type work. I don't like reading newspapers or reference non-fiction because jumping around is awful. This has potential of being solved soon, but now now. The K2 came with a free cookbook that's just painful to use.

      However, if y

    • by Mprx (82435)
      Consistent fonts are a good thing. People argue over hinting and serifs and kerning and the like, but the single most important factor in font legibility is familiarity. Always use the same font and you'll read faster and more accurately. This is a big reason why I prefer to read on screen.
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:32PM (#30313876) Homepage

    There are now four or five e-book readers, each with their own incompatible "ecosystem". Until that settles down, don't get one. Most of them are going to fail, and you'll lose your content. Just like the people who signed up for WalMart Music or Microsoft PlaysForSure.

    • by WillAdams (45638)

      Actually a fair number of ebook readers are standardized on .epub files --- Sony in particular was early to support this, and one can use .epub files from any store which supports Adobe Digital Editions DRM (if one wants DRM). Other readers include the Netronix, Hanlin, Bookeen and Jetbook.

      One can even use ADE to read .epub files on a Tablet PC or laptop.

      William

      • by $1uck (710826)
        I believe the nook is also able to read epub files. I also thought I read the nook was running android. Am I wrong to assume this means the device will be pretty "open"? I buy a lot of books from Amazon, the onlything that could sell me on a Kindle was if they *gave* me an electronic copy of every book I had previously purchased. If the nook is as open as I think it is, well I'll probably be buying books from B&N (and who ever else sells epub books).
        • by Qzukk (229616)

          Am I wrong to assume this means the device will be pretty "open"?

          Mostly, yes. Running on Android doesn't mean much unless they produce a SDK to allow people to write applications that can use both screens and the touch sensor, and possibly (but almost certainly not, though one can hope they'd allow use of wifi) the internet.

    • Any of them will work with non-DRM books. For example, O'Reilly tech books can be purchased in non-DRM digital form. You would only have to worry about losing access to DRM books if you get them from a company that may go bankrupt or stop making ebook readers.

      Personally, I never re-read books, and I consider the probability of Amazon going bankrupt to be very small, anyway. So I have no worries with buying digital books from them, and I love my ebook reader.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gyrogeerloose (849181)

        I consider the probability of Amazon going bankrupt to be very small

        Of course, go back a few years and you'd hear people saying the same thing about General Motors. Up until the Eighties, GM was considered a huge industrial powerhouse that couldn't possibly fail. Not so much any more. But if you never re-read your books, you definitely have a point--it really doesn't matter if Amazon or whoever goes under.

        The thing that worries me is this: if all publishing goes electronic, with DRM, what happens to public libraries? There are a lot of new books that I'd like to read but do

        • Libraries will become meeting places and cybercafes, rather than book storage. With a tweak in the law, we could force book publishers to provide digital copies to libraries. But as it stands, DRM will eventually kill libraries in the same way cell phones killed phone booths.

          • I can already check out ePub electronic books from my library.
            • For copyright-expired stuff, sure. But for books less than seventy years old, you can't get your hands on them without the publisher's consent. And they are, for the most part, not consenting on DRM-free books.

        • Some metropolitan libraries are already moving into the 21st century and lending e-books (e.g. New York Public Library). They use DRM to enforce only checking out N copies at once.

        • by Brandee07 (964634)

          Libraries are repositories of knowledge. It doesn't matter if that knowledge is in the form of printed books, papyrus scrolls, or electronic text... or, in the case of the library I used to work at: CD, LP, or Cassette.

          The need to store large amounts of data for public consumption is not going to go away, although the way that data is stored and accessed may change wildly.

      • by radtea (464814)

        You would only have to worry about losing access to DRM books if you get them from a company that may go bankrupt or stop making ebook readers.

        What? [wikipedia.org]

        DRM obsolescence of content sold by perfectly viable companies is a known problem. It has nothing to do with companies going out of business or ceasing to sell a particular device. It's all about the DRM technology and the chance for the company to get a sweeter licensing deal from someone else, and by-the-way force their customers to repurchase any content th

        • A near certainty? Over a few years? When did all the iTunes songs stop working? I must have missed that in the news.

    • There are now four or five e-book readers, each with their own incompatible "ecosystem". ntil that settles down, don't get one. Most of them are going to fail, and you'll lose your content.

      Well, if you mean the linked bookstores, sure, that's a risk. Of course, all of them will read at least oneof the common formats (e.g., Mobi, ePub), and many ebook publishers sell multi-format e-Books on the web which you can download and use with any compatible device (even the ones that aren't dedicated readers.)

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:33PM (#30313896) Homepage Journal
    Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels, actually likes the simplicity because he can concentrate on the words themselves.

    Someone at work suggested I might like his books. I found one at a used book stand and started reading. The words to describe his writing style are stilted and simplistic. I felt like I was running into a wall at the end of every sentence. (get the hint?)

    I think I got through the first paragraph before skipping around the next few pages then finally giving up. There might be an interesting story somewhere in those pages, but I couldn't stay around long enough to find it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Minwee (522556)

      I think I got through the first paragraph before skipping around the next few pages then finally giving up.

      You read one whole paragraph before pronouncing it unreadable? I admire your dedication.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      A bad writer can ruin the best story. A good writer can keep your interest in a story about mowing the grass.

    • The man's a bestseller so clearly he appeals to someone; that someone is just not you. I've read four or five Reacher novels. They read like action movies - low brain power, lots of explosions - and for that I find his style enjoyable. Like Robert Parker, you can literally read the entire novel in about 3 hours. Easy to take, easy to forget. If suddenly I was the supreme arbiter on what constitutes an entertaining book, Stephanie Meyer would be mopping floors as McDonalds.
      • by RoboRay (735839)

        "If suddenly I was the supreme arbiter on what constitutes an entertaining book, Stephanie Meyer would be mopping floors at McDonalds."

        Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        The man's a bestseller so clearly he appeals to someone

        Sure, and McDonalds sells billions of hamburgers so they must be good, right?

  • by ideonexus (1257332) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:34PM (#30313912) Homepage Journal
    The greatest benefit of these e-readers is the fact that I can download tons of free books like Lawrence Lessig’s, Richard Stallman’s, the entire collection of Project Gutenberg, and the works of Creative Commons authors everywhere, and read them in the comfort of reflected light in bed rather than emitted light through a hot laptop or tiny cell phone. So long as Amazon doesn't try to erase the library of texts I got from independent sources, I'll continue to be very happy with my Kindle.
    • by aminorex (141494)

      What I don't understand is why anyone would want a DRM'd straightjacket. I read PDFs on my Droid, which at 480x852 is sufficiently high res to read a full page in one screen. I can do anything I want with my files, and I can get new material online without let or hindrance. The reader fits in my pocket and I carry it anyhow, even if I don't plan to read. It was cheaper than a Kindle, and it also makes phone calls, let's me ssh to a server, plays music, downloads music, does IM, SMS, HD video recording,

    • by rwv (1636355)

      the works of Creative Commons authors everywhere

      Citation needed, and I'm not just trying to be a dick... I am geniunely curious about how you search for CC licensed manuscripts.

      I am a CC author [2076book.com] and to my knowledge there are no methods to reliably search for CC licensed manuscripts that raise the bar above the "self-published" garbage that's out there.

      I'll be putting out a "Version 2.1" of the linked novel sometime next year and the reason for all the revisions is because good writing requires many hours of editing. Editing is what separates "traditi

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo (196126)

      If only they could get the screen refresh rate up so you could read textbooks and PDFs properly... There are huge amounts of free books, magazines and scanned books (Google Books etc) but at the moment you can't access them on an e-reader because they are designed for a page larger than the screen and scrolling/zooming takes 2 seconds per screen update.

  • Index? (Score:5, Funny)

    by rjstanford (69735) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:35PM (#30313920) Homepage Journal

    An index? In a thriller? How does that normally work?

    killer, identity of - page 274
    tension, sexual, relief of - page 102
    gun, finding of - page 79

    • Re:Index? (Score:4, Informative)

      by somersault (912633) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:43PM (#30314028) Homepage Journal

      Actually, the summary makes him sound like an ass, while his statements in TFA are pretty reasonable:

      Joseph Finder, the author of high-tech thrillers like “Vanished” and “High Crimes,” praises the ability to pack an entire bookshelf into his carry-on luggage. “I read a lot of nonfiction, particularly for research,” he said, “and since I read a lot when I travel, I like the convenience of being able to lug a huge pile of books in one slim device.”

      But e-readers don’t always make research easy. Mr. Finder said that many books he has read on the Kindle lacked a real index compiled by a human, adding that the ability to search for keywords was hardly an adequate replacement.

      • by hcdejong (561314)

        But e-readers don't always make research easy. Mr. Finder said that many books he has read on the Kindle lacked a real index compiled by a human, adding that the ability to search for keywords was hardly an adequate replacement.

        Mr. Finder has a real issue, however it's got nothing to do with ebooks. Human-compiled indices are more expensive to create than automatically-generated ones, so not that many books include one. That goes for dead-tree books just as much as for ebooks.

        Granted, if you're going to publish a book only in electronic format, it may be tempting to forego the index altogether and rely on the search function, but that's merely the next step.

        • by Brandee07 (964634)

          A good ebook should not just have a human-compiled index, but a hyperlinked one. It's not that hard, but people will cut corners whereever they can.

    • by selven (1556643)

      What about a computer generated index?

      the - page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 1

  • Monopoly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:41PM (#30314006)

    " And then there's the issue of monopoly, which must give the authors the willies."

    WHAT monopoly? They already sign to a single publisher for a book as it is. That publisher has always gotten to make all the publishing decisions. It's business as usual!

    And if the answer is 'DRM', then they are doubly fools.

    • by selven (1556643)

      If one publisher is publishing a paper book, anyone can buy it for $15 (or whatever). If one publisher is publishing an e-book in a proprietary format for their reader only, the 90% of people that don't already have the reader will have to pay $300 to buy it.

      • by Aladrin (926209)

        So again, DRM is the answer, according to you.

        DON'T USE DRM. Then you won't be locked to a specific reader.

        Yes, the answer really is that simple.

        • by selven (1556643)

          Where did I say DRM is the answer? I'm just stating that if publishers use DRM that kind of market segmentation is what will happen. What exactly do you mean by "Don't use DRM"? Are you making a recommendation to the publishers, the authors (who are, as you said, powerless) or the consumer? I'm not arguing against you, just trying to understand what you're saying.

  • Having never used one of these Nooks or Kindles, I know that this is a feature I would like:

    To be able to press my finger to a page which will then put the book on its binder, pages facing me. Then I could slide my finger back and forth to a random spot and let go...and the book would open to that page. This is how I re-read books I really liked the first time through...they sit on my bedstand and when I want to read a bit, I just pick it up and open it to some random spot.

    If I have to type in a page numb

    • by aminorex (141494)

      I suggest adding that feature to an open source PDF reader, and using a google phone instead.

  • While the Kindle and Sony eReader have been coming down in price and being heard of more, I haven't seen an increase in PDF sales from the RPG/Fantasy front. Speaking with many of the indie publishers at sites like rpgnow.com and paizo.com has pretty much confirmed this. Maybe once they become mainstream... (mainstream = I walk around San Jose State university and see every other person on the park benches reading an eReader of sorts instead of on their laptop or phones)

    • While the Kindle and Sony eReader have been coming down in price and being heard of more, I haven't seen an increase in PDF sales from the RPG/Fantasy front. ...

      Speaking of gaming books, one issue here is probably the cost of the devices themselves. I may have over a thousand dollars worth of gaming books on my shelf, but they were all bought for $15 to $35.

      While I had significant disposable income in college, now I only occasionally (1 or 2 times per year) have the spare money to shell out $20 to $30 for a new gaming book, and it is truly rare to find myself with a spare $250 to $500 to spend on a single purpose piece of electronics. Most other gamers I know

  • If you have any of these devices...

    Can you do a fast page mark and go back and forth between them quickly? I like the idea of the reader but since many of my books I'd like to have on it would be reference books it would be important for me to be able to switch between 3-4 different pages at a time with no real thought involved. It's easy enough with dead trees since I can just use my finger as a fast book mark while I thumb to another page but if it's an involved process on an e-book reader it defeats the
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lord Ender (156273)

      You can set bookmarks. However, navigating the bookmark screen is slower than flipping to the page you have a post-it hanging off of. So if you go digital with your reference books, you will gain the ability for text search, but it will come at the cost of slower access to existing bookmarks.

    • by Simulant (528590)

      Screen refresh is far too slow on the ones I've used. In their current form, e-paper readers are really only good for reading things straight through... like novels. I also read a newspaper (grabbed from a web site) or two. I find that I don't get through a e-paper as fast a real one, mainly because I'm forced to read the whole thing sequentially. I don't mind this too much. I think I read more of the paper now, but... the point is, they make terrible reference/text books unless y

  • Consider the source (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alerius (851519) on Thursday December 03, 2009 @02:49PM (#30314120)

    Why ask an author about reading? A successful author may be a good source of information about writing, but that doesn't necessarily make him a good reader. [Obligatory car analogy] A mechanic may be able to drive, but I'd probably get better answers about driving from...well...a driver!

    Now an author's complaint about limited control of fonts may have merit if he is saying that as part of the presentation of his art, he would prefer to set the font type and size. Judging from the novels I've read, font selection rarely enters into the equation.

    I travel for work so the ability to carry half a dozen novels and a bunch of reference books in my pocket is rather handy. To me the limitations of electronic reading technology are things like battery life, availability and selection, and DRM (which I've had no personal experience with yet because I don't have a Kindle). What's kept me from jumping on the Kindle bandwagon now that they're apparently available in Canada are some of the horror stories I've read of people losing books they've legitimately paid for. I don't want to pay full retail cost of a book to license it and be at the mercy of a nameless faceless entity that can revoke my license at any time.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Indeed!

      Ask editors, agents and other professional readers as well: you'll find they love e-Readers because a stack of manuscripts is heavy! It's way easier to carry around and read a stack of electronic manuscripts on your Kindle or Sony E-Reader than it is to manhandle all that paper around.

      Ask a group of extremely avid consumer readers: romance readers. This is a group whose typical readers go through multiple books a week, bought and paid for, not freebies from Project Gutenberg. They were the first grou

    • by tool462 (677306)

      There are a couple of places I can think of where font-control can be useful for the writer.

      Technical books -- particularly programming books. They will frequently use the font to separate code from text visually.
      Various forms of fiction that may make use of flashbacks, multiple plot threads, etc, using various fonts to separate the pieces without having to explicitly state what context they are jumping to.

  • I have a Sony E-Book reader.

    You *can* imbed fonts.

    You are not stuck with Sony's proprietary formats (it reads several, including PDF, and freeware programs like calibre' allow conversions).

    • by selven (1556643)

      From what I heard, Sony's (embed memory of rootkits here) ebook reader is actually more open than many of the other ones, including the Kindle.

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