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Amazon scoops up developer of leading eBook iPhone app

post #1 of 42
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Online mega-retailer Amazon.com has purchased the development firm behind the most popular eBook reader application for Apple's iPhone in a bid to extend its reach of the digital book market beyond its Kindle device.

Lexcycle, makers of the Stanza application for the iPhone and iPod touch, announced the acquisition on its website this week, saying its "excited" about the transition and that it "could not think of a better company to join during this exciting time."

A free application downloaded more than 1 million times by App Store shoppers, Stanza (App Store) offers users 24-hour access to a catalog of over 100,000 eBooks in the open ePub format, an eBook container not supported on Amazon's popular Kindle digital reader device.

Outside of broadening its reach to alternative eBook technologies, the retailer's strategic motives behind the move are unclear. However, Lexcycle told customers the deal shouldn't affect the way they acquire and enjoy eBooks through Stanza.

"We are not planning any changes in the Stanza application or user experience as a result of the acquisition," the company said in a blog post. "Customers will still be able to browse, buy, and read ebooks from our many content partners."

For Amazon, the acquisition comes a little less than two months after it announced a free application that lets users of Apple's iPhone and iPod touch tap into its catalog of over 270,000 eBooks formatted for its $359 Kindle 2 wireless reading device (review).

During a conference call last week, the retailer said sales of the latest Kindle, introduced earlier this year, continue to exceed its own expectations but would not provide exact sales figures.

Stanza, which offers access to 100,000 ePub-formatted eBooks, is now in the hands of Amazon.

Amazon similarly refused to break out sales numbers for its inaugural Kindle device (review) that arrive ahead of the 2007 holiday shopping season, though analysts have estimated the device went on to sell approximately half a million units during the 2008 calendar year.

With industry watchers largely gravitating towards the notion that Apple will eventually introduce some form of tablet-based touchscreen device, many believe company may eventually cross paths with Amazon on the eBook front.
post #2 of 42
I don't see Apple introducing a LED screen doubles as a low power, reader friendly E-ink screen. But it sounds possible though joining the e-book thing. I think the biggest potential for e-books is for students. If someone pulls of a per-university distribution model for student litterature and a "notepad" we might have a winner.
post #3 of 42
Mmmm...mixed feelings. I can't imagine why Amazon would buy Stanza other than to try to lock in more folks into Kindle at the expense of other book stores.

I buy all my books from webscription and have almost two hundred titles (half free, half purchased). Mostly $6 ones in lieu of paperbacks and I get those in several open formats (HTML, RTF, epub and mobi) just so I know I can read them on any sort of device I might buy in the future.

I've not gotten any Kindle titles despite their iPhone reader because I don't trust that kindle format won't get "playsforsure'd" again in the future like they did to mobi.

And there's still no desktop kindle reader...despite owning Mobi and their secure mobi format. So why Stanza? What does that buy them that buying Mobi didn't? Other than an attempt to marginalize epub and ereader even further.

DRM doesn't bother me that much as long as there's some expectation that it will survive to work on future devices. Secure eReader, Secure Mobipocket, Kindle, secure ePub and MS Reader all have significant risks of becoming content stuck on an obsolete DRM format and unusable in future eBooks.

Which is why I'm also hesitant to buy from fictionwise.com (Barnes and Noble).

If the eBook vendors would standardize on one DRM format that would be fine.
post #4 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinea View Post

Mmmm...mixed feelings. I can't imagine why Amazon would buy Stanza other than to try to lock in more folks into Kindle at the expense of other book stores.

Does there have to be another reason.
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post #5 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Does there have to be another reason.

No, but it's not good for the eBook market. Not unless Amazon gets its act together and decide if they want to sell hardware or sell books.

Because right now, kindle books are too expensive to move Kindles in volume (aka the iPod strategy) and Kindles are too expensive to sell in sufficient quantities to make selling ebooks a big market (aka the razor blade strategy).

What they have is expensive hardware and expensive titles keeping eBooks in a niche market.

Amazon can't make ebooks cheap so they ought to be licensing the .azw format to all ebook makers and trying to drive the cost of ebook hardware down as quickly as possible and then make money on the ebooks.
post #6 of 42
I've now used the Kindle App to read 2 books and to access several Rick Steves books while visiting Europe. (Had a great time, thank you.)
I truly welcome this news because the Kindle App is clearly a thrown-together hack.
  • Zoom is accomplished via idiotic "small to larger 'A' icons" instead of pinch.
  • Zoom only enlarges text, not images.
  • Returning to where you left off is unpredictable if you're reading multiple books.
  • No clear indication of where you are in the book... just some cryptic numbers at the bottom that look more like character count than pages.
  • Poor control of bookmarks (such as they exist at all.)

I could go on, but the point is that its not a proper App, but a lazy port. If this acquisition turns it into a proper app I'm all for it.
I'd also prefer to get my book content through iTunes instead of having to go through yet-another-store, but that's pretty unlikely.
I loved having the e-books on my touch rather than lugging around hard-copies, but the app really needs improvement.
post #7 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinea View Post

Mmmm...mixed feelings. I can't imagine why Amazon would buy Stanza other than to try to lock in more folks into Kindle at the expense of other book stores. ...

They're just covering their bets. eBook reading is about to take off on the iPhone platform. They already have their Kindle book app to protect their revenue, but when it takes off with the mainstream there is often a big push-back on the locked in models.

Especially because it's books, and because most books are in the public domain, readers will be fighting back against Amazon's attempts to monetise the platform and rip you off for even more money. Buying Stanza gives them the leading free-book reader n their back pocket.

The poor developer actually posted something about how this "won't change anything" with Stanza and actually seems to believe it! He should know that these guarantees are only good for the short term. Amazon is out to dominate, and is more "Microsofty" than Microsoft in it's own way. They wouldn't have bought the thing if it wasn't part of the "we own all the books in the world" plan Amazon seems to be running with.
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post #8 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

I've now used the Kindle App to read 2 books and to access several Rick Steves books while visiting Europe. (Had a great time, thank you.)
I truly welcome this news because the Kindle App is clearly a thrown-together hack.
  • Zoom is accomplished via idiotic "small to larger 'A' icons" instead of pinch.
  • Zoom only enlarges text, not images.
  • Returning to where you left off is unpredictable if you're reading multiple books.
  • No clear indication of where you are in the book... just some cryptic numbers at the bottom that look more like character count than pages.
  • Poor control of bookmarks (such as they exist at all.)

I could go on, but the point is that its not a proper App, but a lazy port. If this acquisition turns it into a proper app I'm all for it.
I'd also prefer to get my book content through iTunes instead of having to go through yet-another-store, but that's pretty unlikely.
I loved having the e-books on my touch rather than lugging around hard-copies, but the app really needs improvement.

You should have bought a Kindle!
It's just an App to give you a taste of Kindle. Why would you expect SO much for FREE?
Geesh.
post #9 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

You should have bought a Kindle!
It's just an App to give you a taste of Kindle. Why would you expect SO much for FREE?
Geesh.

Because the Kindle is a butt-ugly one trick pony. The only thing it has going for it is ePaper, but when I turn brightness on my touch down by half, battery life is perfectly acceptable and very easy on the eyes.
If I were going to lug another thing around on my vacation, it would have been the books, not a Kindle.
(And I'm not the one who set the price point... I'd gladly pay for a decent app.)
I also disagree that its a free-taste app. Amazon is in the content business and make the Kindle because they have to. It'll be dead within a couple of years as their content becomes usable on decent multi-purpose hardware.
post #10 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

Because the Kindle is a butt-ugly one trick pony. The only thing it has going for it is ePaper, but when I turn brightness on my touch down by half, battery life is perfectly acceptable and very easy on the eyes.
If I were going to lug another thing around on my vacation, it would have been the books, not a Kindle.

One trick pony? Can you subscribe and read newpapers on your iPhone with the ease of a Kindle? Newp[apers are only on a Kindle. It's a free taste App - a bridge to the Kindle like an iPod/iPhone is a bridge to a Mac.
post #11 of 42
Any word how much Lexcycle got bought out for? Was the company created for the iPhone platform like so many others or did they exist before? How many people are they? I'm glad to see the maker of a free app getting a payout and I hope make the Kindle better, though they will be severally limited without the iPhone SDK. No fluid transitions.
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post #12 of 42
Classics is a nice experience for reading on the iPhone. Not ideal, bit laggy, bit small, but not bad. I like the way they add a new classic book now and then in a free update. Nice touch, keeps the app interesting. As for that Kindle (hardware). If it was €69 it might be interesting, as the books (a bit of data) are quite expensive.

I love the idea of e-ink, but only Apple could pull of a hardware design here that appeals to the masses, and Apple's thing would also be a computer. Without e-ink Apple's tablet will never be a Kindle though.
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post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

One trick pony? Can you subscribe and read newpapers on your iPhone with the ease of a Kindle? Newp[apers are only on a Kindle. It's a free taste App - a bridge to the Kindle like an iPod/iPhone is a bridge to a Mac.

??? you're kidding, right?
Reading newspapers just needs the app and the contract. Just a matter of time.
Listen, you clearly like the Kindle... more power to you. Buy all the single-purpose devices you want for your briefcase.
But to believe Amazon's product is the Kindle and not the content it delivers is just plain naive.
Amazon makes the Kindle only because they had to, not because its their business.
Kindle dead in 2 years, but Amazon will be rolling in content money because of proper multi-purpose readers (which they won't be making.)
post #14 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

??? you're kidding, right?
Reading newspapers just needs the app and the contract. Just a matter of time.
Listen, you clearly like the Kindle... more power to you. Buy all the single-purpose devices you want for your briefcase.
But to believe Amazon's product is the Kindle and not the content it delivers is just plain naive.
Amazon makes the Kindle only because they had to, not because its their business.
Kindle dead in 2 years, but Amazon will be rolling in content money because of proper multi-purpose readers (which they won't be making.)

It's both- the Kindle and the content. The device's larger screen size is appealing along with it's thinness. Reading on a 4 inch screen is akin to watching Lawrence of Arabia on a 20 inch screen- it's doable but not fulfilling and not the intent of the content.
post #15 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

It's both- the Kindle and the content. The device's larger screen size is appealing along with it's thinness. Reading on a 4 inch screen is akin to watching Lawrence of Arabia on a 20 inch screen- it's doable but not fulfilling and not the intent of the content.

I have a nice comfy box I'll sell you to do your thinking in.
iPad, techstud... iPad.
post #16 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

I have a nice comfy box I'll sell you to do your thinking in.
iPad, techstud... iPad.

iPad monthly perhaps? Or what about Mac nighty wipes?
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post #17 of 42
This is not very mysterious. It actually makes a lot of sense. Consider:

Once upon a time, there were two main ebook reading apps on the iPhone: Stanza and eReader. (Classics is nice, but has no facility for finding new books or reading current, copyrighted books.) Stanza and eReader both had access to the Fictionwise online bookstore. This online store had a decent but not great selection, and high prices.

Then, Amazon comes on the scene with a Kindle app and access to the Amazon ebook store. The app is crappy, but the online store has much more content and much more reasonable prices. The iPhone ebook landscape is poised to be shaken up; even with a poor app, Amazon has good prices, strong ties to its Kindle hardware, and strong brand exposure.

Suddenly, Barnes & Noble, a print-book behemoth late to the ebook party, buys the Fictionwise online store and (I believe) the eReader iPhone app. Now B&N has a better app than Amazon, and the ability to throw its weight around to expand the Fictionwise online store. Now Amazon has some serious future competition.

Natural reaction: buy Stanza. Turn Stanza into the Kindle v2 iPhone app. I figure we will settle into a fairly stable environment in which Amazon has the best app and best online store and best prices; while B&N nips at its heels with a nearly-as-good app and an improving online store, and plenty of brand power and money. Competition will heat up, Amazon and B&N will make lots of money, and ebook consumers will have more books available to them. And Classics will remain in its niche as a best-of-breed reader for public-domain books.

If things do shake out that way, it's fine with me. Look for a partnership between B&N/Fictionwise and Sony (with its runner-up ebook hardware) to round things out.
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

I have a nice comfy box I'll sell you to do your thinking in.
iPad, techstud... iPad.

When? When?
post #19 of 42
They have the Kindle because there are no readers out there that support their e-book sales. Now there is a second option with the Kindle app, but that needs to mature.

And Apple needs to provide a larger tablet.

I'm pretty sure they intend to do just that. But the Apple tablet will be a general purpose device, with a much larger screen (apparently close to 10") and color.

This means it will be possible to publish magazines on it. Digital delivery of magazines is a new market. Delivered to your computer screen, they don't make much sense. However a tablet is a good substitute for a physical magazine. You can read a tablet on the couch, at the beauty salon, or on the train or bus. Notebooks are no good in those types of situations.

Also a large color tablet would be suitable for books that depend on photography or illustrations.

Digital magazines would have no paper or printing cost and much lower distribution cost. They would radically improve the equation for the magazine publishing industry. Digital magazines would also be "green".

Ideally the screen would be either transreflective (can use either natural light or be backlit), or OLED, for due to lower power use. Both technologies exist in shipping products, but neither is massively used at this point.

Jobs was not quite right. People do read less. But they skim, a lot.
post #20 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

One trick pony? Can you subscribe and read newpapers on your iPhone with the ease of a Kindle?

Yes. I use pressdisplay.com.
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post #21 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinea View Post

No, but it's not good for the eBook market. Not unless Amazon gets its act together and decide if they want to sell hardware or sell books.

You don't understand Amazon's strategy. They want to be the "Walmart of the Web" by offering whatever people want, wherever and whenever.

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

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post #22 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by subtledoctor View Post

This is not very mysterious. It actually makes a lot of sense. ...

Interesting scenario and probably close to what will happen IMO.

I would hope that Apple might shake things up a bit by making the iBook/iTablet (hopefully not "iPad"), a good document creator as well as reader and putting a mobile version of Preview on it so that we have some options that fall outside of the capitalist cage Amazon and B&N want to keep us in.

I have an absolutely huge book collection and as soon as there is a good digital alternative I wouldn't shirk at spending my time digitising them all for public consumption before the paper falls apart. Someone has to actually save all the printed stuff that's being lost while Amazon and others fight over who gets paid.
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post #23 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alonso Perez View Post

... the Apple tablet will be a general purpose device, with a much larger screen (apparently close to 10") and color. ...This means it will be possible to publish magazines on it. ... a tablet is a good substitute for a physical magazine. You can read a tablet on the couch, at the beauty salon, or on the train or bus. Notebooks are no good in those types of situations. ... Also a large color tablet would be suitable for books that depend on photography or illustrations...

This highlights something that most people haven't "got" about digital books.

For the people who really like books and like to read, the layout, the fonts, the pictures and the colours are a major part of the experience. I have thousands of crappy sci-fi paperbacks for instance. I still read them from time to time but the main attraction is the physicality of the book itself. The retro drawings and fonts and especially the cover art are all a big part of the reason those books still exist and entertain.

Almost all eBook tech to date ignores this fact and re-wraps the book onto whatever screen is available. Further, they either don't have the rights to the artwork and thus leave it out, or they hire some idiot to do a passable version of a new cover for the "digital release." Love of books is about specific books and specific editions of books, as works of art, not just about the ascii characters on the screen.

If Apple does come out with a tablet, it will be the first eBook reader that you can actually read a book with that has a similar experience to a real book and I'm sure they are aware of that.
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post #24 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

They're just covering their bets. eBook reading is about to take off on the iPhone platform. They already have their Kindle book app to protect their revenue, but when it takes off with the mainstream there is often a big push-back on the locked in models.

Especially because it's books, and because most books are in the public domain, readers will be fighting back against Amazon's attempts to monetise the platform and rip you off for even more money. Buying Stanza gives them the leading free-book reader n their back pocket.

Maybe. But they own mobipocket too and did very little with it. Other than orphaning it from being able to buy and read kindle books.

You know what would make me get into Kindle? Offering the kindle version with every hardback version Amazon sells. Then after the paperback version hits, sell the kindle version for the same price.

For the hardback books I buy, I'd purchase from Amazon (which is currently split between impluse buys at Borders and directed purchases from Amazon).

And I buy the ebook version over paperbacks these days but only when the price drops low enough. Which takes a lot longer than it takes for paperback release.

Quote:
The poor developer actually posted something about how this "won't change anything" with Stanza and actually seems to believe it!

I dunno that he believes it as much as needs to sell it.

Quote:
He should know that these guarantees are only good for the short term. Amazon is out to dominate, and is more "Microsofty" than Microsoft in it's own way. They wouldn't have bought the thing if it wasn't part of the "we own all the books in the world" plan Amazon seems to be running with.

I agree...IMHO they haven't faced stiff competition thus far.
post #25 of 42
Its a simple covering play surely? Amazon's Kindle is fine as far as it goes but if Apple has a viable alternative coming to market then they know its game over. They need to have a strategy to utilise whatever Apple comes up with. Quite why they couldn't write their own CocoaTouch reader I don't know. Every publisher should be seriously thinking about this right now otherwise they will 'Appled' by Amazon.
post #26 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinea View Post

Mmmm...mixed feelings. I can't imagine why Amazon would buy Stanza other than to try to lock in more folks into Kindle at the expense of other book stores.

I buy all my books from webscription and have almost two hundred titles (half free, half purchased). Mostly $6 ones in lieu of paperbacks and I get those in several open formats (HTML, RTF, epub and mobi) just so I know I can read them on any sort of device I might buy in the future.

I've not gotten any Kindle titles despite their iPhone reader because I don't trust that kindle format won't get "playsforsure'd" again in the future like they did to mobi.

And there's still no desktop kindle reader...despite owning Mobi and their secure mobi format. So why Stanza? What does that buy them that buying Mobi didn't? Other than an attempt to marginalize epub and ereader even further.

DRM doesn't bother me that much as long as there's some expectation that it will survive to work on future devices. Secure eReader, Secure Mobipocket, Kindle, secure ePub and MS Reader all have significant risks of becoming content stuck on an obsolete DRM format and unusable in future eBooks.

Which is why I'm also hesitant to buy from fictionwise.com (Barnes and Noble).

If the eBook vendors would standardize on one DRM format that would be fine.

Hmm. Other than duplicate copies in digital I buy all hardbound and a few softbound to have a physical library. I've no need to stare at a screen in digital format all day long. The duplicates in digital are exclusively technical for the use of having ease-of-use while working on the computer.
post #27 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

You don't understand Amazon's strategy. They want to be the "Walmart of the Web" by offering whatever people want, wherever and whenever.

Sure. And locking in content to .azw format that is supported by only one expensive eBook fits this strategy how? Would it not have been better to use the mobipocket secure format (that they already owned) and sold Kindles, Sonys and iLiads?

On the plus side, the window exists for Apple to get into this business if they desire. We're balkanized into .azw, .mobi/.prc, .pdb, .lit, .epub, .pdf (secure), and a dozen dead or mostly dead formats plus whatever Hearst will do for their ebook.

Amazon could have taken the lead as opposed to have been another niche ebook hardware competitor. Why? To sell their own hardware? That's not their forte. They sell products and content.
post #28 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Hmm. Other than duplicate copies in digital I buy all hardbound and a few softbound to have a physical library. I've no need to stare at a screen in digital format all day long. The duplicates in digital are exclusively technical for the use of having ease-of-use while working on the computer.

And I buy ebooks so I can read on a plane, in a line, or wherever suits my fancy on whatever hardware I happen to be using. iPhone, netbook, laptop, etc.
post #29 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

The device's larger screen size is appealing along with it's thinness. Reading on a 4 inch screen is akin to watching Lawrence of Arabia on a 20 inch screen- it's doable but not fulfilling and not the intent of the content.

I had a K1 AND I had a K2, and also have Kindle Reader and Stanza on the iPhone. Of the three, I tend to prefer the iPhone.

I can easily read text on the iPhone at one level below the standard font size, while the low-contrast screen on the K2 required me to INCREASE the size up one level in almost any situation other than sitting outdoors in direct sunlight.

The result? At those settings one can actually see MORE text per page on the iPhone, even though the Kindle has a much larger screen.

E-Ink is a temporary technology. Lack of color, lack of backlighting, readability and contrast issues, and extremely poor refresh rates will soon relegate it to the technological scrap heap. Its ONLY saving grace is its extremely low power consumption vs that of current model LCDs, and forthcoming OLED screens will mitigate that advantage severely.

Who's going to care if an e-ink reader lasts four days when a reader/mdia device with full-color high-resolution high-refresh-rate self-lit OLED screen lasts for two?
post #30 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

This highlights something that most people haven't "got" about digital books.

For the people who really like books and like to read, the layout, the fonts, the pictures and the colours are a major part of the experience. I have thousands of crappy sci-fi paperbacks for instance. I still read them from time to time but the main attraction is the physicality of the book itself. The retro drawings and fonts and especially the cover art are all a big part of the reason those books still exist and entertain.

Almost all eBook tech to date ignores this fact and re-wraps the book onto whatever screen is available. Further, they either don't have the rights to the artwork and thus leave it out, or they hire some idiot to do a passable version of a new cover for the "digital release." Love of books is about specific books and specific editions of books, as works of art, not just about the ascii characters on the screen.

If Apple does come out with a tablet, it will be the first eBook reader that you can actually read a book with that has a similar experience to a real book and I'm sure they are aware of that.

Most of my ebooks have the original cover art and drawings. 90% of my ebook collection are science fiction novels that would have otherwise been purchased as paperbacks or duplicate books I already own.

For some folks the physicality is important. For others the stories themselves. I reward baen for both having authors I like and having a forward looking business model by buying their books...both ebooks and physical ones. Most of the free Baen books I have a physical copy of anyway.

Most books sold today are not great works of art, either in terms of authorship or bookmaking. These are great as ebooks since they take no shelf space, gather no dust and you can have with you whenever you want to do some light reading.
post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

I have thousands of crappy sci-fi paperbacks for instance. I still read them from time to time but the main attraction is the physicality of the book itself.

I too have quite a few crappy sci-fi paperbacks purchased over the decades, and unfortunately I CAN'T read most of them. The paper has yellowed and the spines have all cracked and hardened and pretty much the ONLY thing many of them are now good for is sitting on a shelf.

What good is a book that can't be read?

On the flip side I also have quite a few ebooks that I've read on a Palm, a HP iPaq, a notebook, and now on my iPhone using Stanza. Between those and the audiobooks I practically have an entire library in my pocket, always available, no matter where I go.

I suspect that, like music and movies, the future for most books is digital. Other than art books, special editions, and the like, I have no want or need to own (and have to move) a half-ton or so of books, CDs, DVDs, and tapes.
post #32 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinea View Post

Most of my ebooks have the original cover art and drawings. 90% of my ebook collection are science fiction novels that would have otherwise been purchased as paperbacks or duplicate books I already own.

Didn't know this. Things have changed somewhat since the last time I tried to get into eBooks I guess.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinea View Post

... Most books sold today are not great works of art, either in terms of authorship or bookmaking. These are great as ebooks since they take no shelf space, gather no dust and you can have with you whenever you want to do some light reading.

Granted, but I take this the opposite way.

Because most books sold today are indeed "not great works of art" I hardly ever read them. Most of the stuff I would read eBook wise is non-fiction, and most of the fiction I would read would be older titles. That's why from my point of view the ability to buy current books and read them on the reader is almost irrelevant, and what I would really enjoy is the old classics and the books from my youth, but presented in a format that reproduces their original publication.

I'd like a book reader that you can read comics on. I'd like to be able to re-buy all my old Metal Hurlant mags or even old Playboys, or Life magazine and have it look just like the original magazines. I'd also like these things to cost just a buck or two (as they should), because that's what they cost now in the physical versions in a bargain bin at my local bookstore.

Needless to say Amazon is not focussing on this market at all, but if the reader (iTablet) exists, at least I could make my own content or convert the physical books and magazines I already have, and so could others. I'm hopeful that the arrival of a decent, ubiquitous, "open" reader will give the impetus needed for some of these older titles and magazines to be saved from certain destruction since there is little monetary reason to save them.

Another good example is course books for University students. The information provided within never changes significantly, but the publishers have a cosy deal with the professors wherein a new edition is produced every year or every two years. The students are forced to buy these at hundreds of dollars a pop even though the material is public domain. If the reader is ubiquitous and the device itself is "open" enough to allow for anyone to publish to it, these kinds of strangleholds won't last very long.
In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
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In Windows, a window can be a document, it can be an application, or it can be a window that contains other documents or applications. Theres just no consistency. Its just a big grab bag of monkey...
Reply
post #33 of 42
I haven't tried the Kindle app because it is not available in my country, Hong Kong.

I found Stanza last week and love the software, how it functions on my iPhone. I can read all the books I have bought but have stored away since my apartment is small. I downloaded a few of these books to read thinking it won't be anything close to holding a book. But I was wrong. Stanza is superb and convenient since I won't take a larger machine like the Kindle with me everywhere. I only use my iPhone. I also love the quick short cut light adjustment to dim down the screen when reading without the light in a dark room. I take it with me to bed to read, in the toilet (heh), when I eat alone in a restaurant, public transport, and I have read about 40% of a book already which to me is a great achievement for such a small screen. I found that I have better use of my reading time in situations where I could not bring the book with me, and I just have my phone in my pocket.

I worry with the Amazon changes in future versions will start blocking the PDF or text files I have (I am thinking like the mp3 songs that one purchases with a closed system). I have previously bought books on my Palm many years ago and I converted them to be read in Stanza. I just hope Amazon won't kill a already great software because they want to make us read Amazon ebooks only. That would be lame, and then some other great programmer will come up with a software that will free people of whatever they wish to use and Stanza Amazone version will slowly die out.
post #34 of 42
As a long-time user of Stanza, I really can't think of any upsides of this. The app is wonderful, and they have been marvelously responsive to user requests, continually updating the app in significant ways, many I never had imagined before, but which made the app the best e-book reader I've ever encountered. I have no desire to consume DRM in any media, Amazon can only hurt the customer-service appeal of Stanza, and a big company -- even Amazon -- inevitably damages the functioning of a well-working little company that it buys. Plus, it seriously diminished competition and variety in the iPhone market, never a good thing. Boo Amazon.
post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinea View Post

And I buy ebooks so I can read on a plane, in a line, or wherever suits my fancy on whatever hardware I happen to be using. iPhone, netbook, laptop, etc.

I carry a book and stick to actually reading it through that fits in my hands, not the palm of my hand or in some hard shell.

I just like the feel of quality published books.
post #36 of 42
Maybe they scooped up this developer before Apple does.

Maybe Apple will be coming out with its "Category Defining" 99cent bookstore and Amazon already knows something.
post #37 of 42
I have downloaded all the dreams I could ever wish to dream. 155 classics. What Stanza opened for me was my own library in my pocket. I have read 20 titles in the past two months. The nearest library (for me) is 20 miles away and I doubt if they even have War and Peace on the shelf. What Stanza does is allows one to have all the reasons to sit quietly and enjoy the story without the hassles of a trip to a public library. Being downsized in my job means I would not be a potential buyer of a Kindle into the distant future. But I found Stanza on my iTouch and I now have a reason to stay up late and enjoy the work of writers I was always to busy to find time for before. The best. And Stanza my hat is off to you. I pray Amazon has enough sense to leave well enough alone... Now back to reading.
post #38 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virgil-TB2 View Post

This highlights something that most people haven't "got" about digital books.

For the people who really like books and like to read, the layout, the fonts, the pictures and the colours are a major part of the experience. I have thousands of crappy sci-fi paperbacks for instance. I still read them from time to time but the main attraction is the physicality of the book itself. The retro drawings and fonts and especially the cover art are all a big part of the reason those books still exist and entertain.

Almost all eBook tech to date ignores this fact and re-wraps the book onto whatever screen is available. Further, they either don't have the rights to the artwork and thus leave it out, or they hire some idiot to do a passable version of a new cover for the "digital release." Love of books is about specific books and specific editions of books, as works of art, not just about the ascii characters on the screen.

If Apple does come out with a tablet, it will be the first eBook reader that you can actually read a book with that has a similar experience to a real book and I'm sure they are aware of that.

Personally, I don't see why the cover or color would matter for novels. It would for comic books and textbook diagrams. Typefaces can be adjusted, but I think that would affect readability if it strays too far from the norm.

I think you can divide the book buying market into many different segments. At the moment, I think the epaper books are for people that want the convenience or like gadgets and are willing to pay extra for it and don't mind the other trade-offs. There may be other segments that want ebooks but want certain other issues to be settled out, such as cost of the reader or the cost of the books vs. the value lost because it's not a physical book. Those that want a certain experience for the experience's sake are in their own segment, I imagine that a lot of them will be the last to adopt ebooks.
post #39 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Personally, I don't see why the cover or color would matter for novels. It would for comic books and textbook diagrams. Typefaces can be adjusted, but I think that would affect readability if it strays too far from the norm.

I think you can divide the book buying market into many different segments. At the moment, I think the epaper books are for people that want the convenience or like gadgets and are willing to pay extra for it and don't mind the other trade-offs. There may be other segments that want ebooks but want certain other issues to be settled out, such as cost of the reader or the cost of the books vs. the value lost because it's not a physical book. Those that want a certain experience for the experience's sake are in their own segment, I imagine that a lot of them will be the last to adopt ebooks.

When we have hair thin, translucent, flexible sheets that can be added and folded into a book with the contents refreshed with each book loaded then I expect pulp based books to disappear, but only if they are fire proof and waterproof while being insulated from electrical surges of high levels.
post #40 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahmlco View Post

I too have quite a few crappy sci-fi paperbacks purchased over the decades, and unfortunately I CAN'T read most of them. The paper has yellowed and the spines have all cracked and hardened and pretty much the ONLY thing many of them are now good for is sitting on a shelf

Exactly how old are they? I have some ~30 year old books, inexpensive paperback and regular hard bound books and they're fine. The one or two books that have fallen apart fell apart early, a symptom of simply bad manufacturing and not old age. If your examples are a much older than that, then I'd say you probably got more life out of those books than you will with digital book files that you might buy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

When we have hair thin, translucent, flexible sheets that can be added and folded into a book with the contents refreshed with each book loaded then I expect pulp based books to disappear, but only if they are fire proof and waterproof while being insulated from electrical surges of high levels.

I don't expect paper books to disappear, but I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a niche market in a couple decades. For example, vinyl isn't dead, but it's not a mass market item anymore.
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