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Thread: Electronic books

  1. #1

    Post Electronic books

    I would like to be able to turn the pages of a book while lying down and would like to be able to use speech recognition on my laptop to turn the pages of an electronic book. I would like to be able to have the book on the memory of the computer rather than have to be online. I wondered if I could purchase a book and download it on my computer.

    Does anyone have a recommendation and know where to purchase or download books that are in something like a PDF format where you could read a novel while you are in bed?

    I was trying to find out information about Sony e-books but was unable to find out about their costs and I wondered if there was other places to purchase e-books? Is there a way for libraries to loan e-books?

  2. #2
    You can download books from Project Gutenberg:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/

    Some are in HTML, all are available as plain text. Load them in a browser and just scroll down.

    Some are translated into PDFs:

    http://www.planetpdf.com/free_pdf_ebooks.asp

    There's Microsoft Reader, which works surprisingly well:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Reader

    There are a few places to purchase ebooks, including FictionWise.com, Amazon, and eBooks.com.
    ...it's worse than we thought. it turns out the people at the white house are not secret muslims, they're nerds.

  3. #3
    Baen Books, if you like science fiction & fantasy. Also, they are free to people with disabilities.

    http://www.webscription.net/

    Specifics for people with disabilities:

    http://www.webscription.net/news.aspx?showarticle=2

    Which includes how to sign up. They also have books from a couple other science-fiction publishers: Del Rey, Meisha Merlin, SRM Publisher, Subterranean Press, Tor Books.

    And they just teamed up with E-Reads, which publishes a lot of other genres, like westerns & Romance.

    ETA: the different formats they are available in: HTML Format Zip, Ebookwise/Rocket Format Zip, Mobipocket/Palm/Kindle Format Zip, RTF Format Zip, Microsoft Reader Format Zip
    4/6/97, car accident, C5. http://raccoon-kathleen.blogspot.com/

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by dw
    I would like to be able to turn the pages of a book while lying down and would like to be able to use speech recognition on my laptop to turn the pages of an electronic book. I would like to be able to have the book on the memory of the computer rather than have to be online. I wondered if I could purchase a book and download it on my computer.

    Does anyone have a recommendation and know where to purchase or download books that are in something like a PDF format where you could read a novel while you are in bed?

    I was trying to find out information about Sony e-books but was unable to find out about their costs and I wondered if there was other places to purchase e-books? Is there a way for libraries to loan e-books?
    dw,

    I use a Irex Iliad (Source) but have not seen any voice-recognition device that can turn pages on this device or the Sony ebook. However, Illiad is programmable and has wifi. Somebody probably can figure something out with the number of options that it provides (Source).

    I bought my Illiad nearly two year ago and I think that it has saved me over $700 in book costs (I use to buy books at the airports but have not done so since I got the Iliad), and have been happy with it. For example, I may buy as many as $40-$60 of books every time I go into a bookstore (usually 2-3 books). I use to do this every 2 weeks. Now, I buy my ebooks from http://www.fictionwise.com (yes, the name was what first attracted me). I buy $50-$60 of books (about 10 books) every 1-2 months. So, I am probably saving over $500 a year, as well as not carrying 15-20 lb of books when I travel.

    The Iliad reads just about every format and there are few books that it cannot read. Fictionwise.com has quite a large selection of fiction: romance (6624), erotica (4818), science fiction (4269), mainstream (3790), mystery (2601), business (2395), fantasy (2205), classic literature (2105), science/technology (1740), history (1192), and historical fiction (1172). Prices are typically $5-8 and there are about 10,000 books that can be downloaded for free. I load the books onto my computer and then transfer them to the Iliad. It can easily hold 150 books on its internal memory and I can fit a lot more if I use any of the storage devices they have.

    The Iliad Second Edition unfortunately is ridiculously expensive. When I bought it nearly two years ago, it was about $600. Now, it costs $900 list price but can be purchased for $699 from Amazon. This is of course because the Euro has gone up in price. I don't think that the hardware or software has changed very much. By the way, I carry a blackberry and a number of other devices that claim to be able to read or display ebooks. However, I don't use any of them for this purpose because their screens are too small and the laptop is not great for reading. The iliad is the first and only device that I have used consistently for reading. I use my Iliad mostly on the airplane. I have yet to run out of battery on a flight and most of my flights are 15-16 hours long.

    The Sony eReader is significantly cheaper than an Iliad. On Amazon, it is selling for $282 (Source) but if you get the Synching cradle, it is $324. So, it is about half the price of an Iliad. It has a smaller screen, better battery life, fewer ports and options, and fewer formats that it can read. Some people who have both the Iliad and the Sony eReader say that the Iliad image is better because it has 16 shades instead of 4, and the overall image contrast is better on the Iliad (Source). The Iliad is apparently faster.

    Amazon recently started to offer ebooks for its Kindle device. In general, the prices of Kindle books are 20% higher than Mobipockets. Discounted books are going for $9.99, compared to list prices of $21-$30. In contrast, Mobipocket formats (which is also from Amazon and read by Iliad) are in the range of $6-8 for discounted books and $17-$26 for non-discounted books. You can get major newspapers for 75 cents from Kindle or $9.99 for a month's subscription. One Iliad user who used a Kindle said the following:
    http://egofood.blogspot.com/2008/02/...re-i-tell.html
    February 26, 2008
    Kindle vs Iliad: Future! The Future I tell you.

    So I'm sitting in Washington, DC's Union Station waiting on a train to take me north to Boston when I glance over at the dude sitting a few seats away. He's reading the Wall Street Journal and there is an article on the cover that I'd like to read.

    I whip out the Kindle, download that days copy, and seventy-five cents later, I'm reading it.

    It was pretty cool, actually, I read my article and the rest of the paper there on the Kindle, and it was really neat. The only real problem with the Kindle is the size of the screen, having used the Iliad e-book reader with it's significantly larger screen, reading a book on the Kindle feels claustrophobic, and the inter-screen flash that is endemic on screen readers right now (both the Iliad and the Kindle do this and it is part of the nature of the technology) seems worse on a smaller screen due to the fact that there is less information gained during any one page turn.

    Anyhow, so I've been experimenting with the Kindle, and here's some thoughts I have on it and how it rates next to the Iliad. I've used both of them to read multiple purchased books, including the Diamond Age (Iliad) and Snow Crash (Kindle), blogs, and personal documents, when possible.

    Also, the Kindle screen actually broke on me, but I'm not sure whose fault it was, as there was no precipitating event, but amazon was -really- great about replacing this, and I felt as if this was the norm, not an exceptional, event.

    Kindle:

    Pros:

    * Really amazing software, seriously.
    * Bitchin' little scroll wheel display thingy.
    * EVDO whispernet is from the future.
    * Great battery life and sleep management.

    Cons:

    * Buttons everywhere. I challenge newcomers to the platform to pick up the device without hitting a button.
    * Absurdly silly keyboard. Angled keys seem strange and hard to press interesting combos like alt-p one handed or in low light.
    * No usb port for mounting a usb light, which is super handy to do for reading in low light situations on the iliad.
    * Weird importing rules. In fact, I'd say damn stupid importing functionality. Great on things you buy, shitty on things you don't/shouldn't have to like blogs /technical docs and pdfs.
    * Hacker hostile
    * No charging from usb (trickle-charging is a lie).
    * Stupid non-standard power.

    Iliad:

    Pros:

    * Awesome, amazing, screen size
    * Decent battery life.
    * Just barely okay device software.
    * More hacker friendly, SDK is available as are some 3rd party programs.
    * Fantastic memory support.
    * USB port for handy use of a usb-light, external edvo/cell connection or memory stick (it's intended purpose)
    * Amazing device for on-screen editing (All hail the wacom stylus pad built into the device)

    Cons:

    * Shit sleep support, you basically need to do a full shut off/turn on the device to use it. It's fast at this, but still.
    * Shit fonts in the mobipocket viewer. Ever heard of serif fonts, iRex and Mobi? They make people happy when reading smaller fonts as it gives the eyes hints.
    * No bitching amazing whispernet.
    * Software is shit if you leave the stylus behind.
    * No charging from the usb.
    * USB/Power dongle makes me want to smash with hammer.
    * Deeply shitty/baffling client software (thank goodness for mobipocket desktop)
    * Bug on first power-on means the first or second rendered mobipocket page should be rerendered by doing a forward/back page.

    Commonalities:

    * Both are lighter than the Deathly Hollows.
    * Both hold tons of books.
    * Both are super readable during the day, in full sun.
    * Both have less albedo so night reading is trickier than a regular book.
    * Both have the same/extremely similar inter-page flash.
    * Both should have better client/pdf support.
    * Both should have better support for RSS feeds. Whether through Amazon or Mobipocket, they both suck. This isn't a coincidence, as Amazon uses and owns Mobipocket.
    * Both need a way wider selection of books (again, both are mobipocket consumers) or they will both fail. There simply isn't the selection to support the market. So I still carry books.

    Final thoughts:

    Domestically, the Kindle will win for the EVDO bitchenness. But I'll actually carry around the
    Iliad. Both are too expensive and need more books to be made available before they'll be popular.


    3 comments:

    R said...

    I have both devices, too. I prefer the Kindle to the Iliad because its lighter, doesn't feel cold in my hands, and Whispernet.

    The Iliad's larger screen is nice but I'm used to reading on Palm screens and the Kindle's size is a great compromise between being too small to read and too big to fit in a handbag. Usability vs. portability.

    There are tools out there to get just about any content, outside of DRMed PDFs, onto the Kindle. If interested visit the MobileRead forum and nose around.
    11:22 AM PST
    Patri Friedman said...

    I'm happier with my Kindle since I started downloading ebook torrents. Enough of them are .txt to keep me reading for awhile. But it's kind of ridiculous that I'm contemplating writing a program to convert the ebooks in my library from html, lib, pdf, and rtf to txt or whatever, rather than the device just doing it for me. I mean, it runs linux, can't they run rtf2txt on it??
    5:44 PM PST
    Dan Abramov said...

    A little typo: "Deathly Hallows", not "Hollows" :-)
    9:26 PM PST

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    Iliad vs Kindle
    Kind of a short but interesting blog summary from a guy who owns and uses both. http://egofood.blogspot.com/2008/02/...re-i-tell.html Gotta love it when he says: "USB/Power dongle makes me want to smash with hammer."
    Posted by Kingston at 10:16 PM PST

  5. #5
    By the way, let me explain the reference to the USB power dongle. The Iliad has one of these complex plugs at the bottom that receives both USB input from your computer and power. So, they provide you with two such "dongles". One is strange with some kind of cover and is clearly intended for desktop use. The second is a smaller dongle. Both dongles allow you to plug in a charger to the dongle and a USB cable to the dongle. So, you travel around with the Iliad, a dongle, a charger, and a USB cable. Wise.

  6. #6

    Thumbs up Thank you

    This is all some really fantastic information. I downloaded a few free e-books for my laptop. I really think I would like to have a reader that is mobile but the major problem is trying to figure out if there would be a way for me to utilize it remotely because I cannot press the switches when lying down.

    I could get a benefit from a reader just using it when I was sitting up.

    The very best reader seems really expensive.

    I wonder if I could purchase a special display for the laptop so that it would be able to read like one of the readers but retain all the functions of the laptop? Again many many thanks for your wonderful response! I will enjoy these options.

  7. #7
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    After nearly losing my mind, I found some ebooks here that I didn’t find elsewhere, and it offers different formats: http://www.powells.com/ebookstore/ebooks.html

    And I don’t know if it was in this thread or on-line that I found this conversion program: http://www.convertlit.com/

  8. #8
    Thanks for the link to Baen Books. It's a great site and I got all signed up for it. BTW they will also give a free subscription to veterans and people that cannot read due to vision problems.




    Quote Originally Posted by Raccoon
    Baen Books, if you like science fiction & fantasy. Also, they are free to people with disabilities.

    http://www.webscription.net/

    Specifics for people with disabilities:

    http://www.webscription.net/news.aspx?showarticle=2

    Which includes how to sign up. They also have books from a couple other science-fiction publishers: Del Rey, Meisha Merlin, SRM Publisher, Subterranean Press, Tor Books.

    And they just teamed up with E-Reads, which publishes a lot of other genres, like westerns & Romance.

    ETA: the different formats they are available in: HTML Format Zip, Ebookwise/Rocket Format Zip, Mobipocket/Palm/Kindle Format Zip, RTF Format Zip, Microsoft Reader Format Zip

  9. #9

    Harvard-Google Project

    Good news for e-readers! 15.8 million volumes!

    "Harvard-Google Project

    The Harvard University Library and Google are collaborating on a project to digitize a large number of Harvard's library books that are out of copyright and to make them available to Internet users. The project, which is one of several collaborations between Google and major research libraries, could bring millions of works to the web.

    Building on a successful pilot conducted by Harvard and Google throughout 2005, the project combines the skills and library collections of Harvard University with the innovative search skills and capacity of Google. The Harvard-Google Project will benefit students and scholars wherever they are. Google has launched related projects with Oxford, Stanford, Princeton, the University of California, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia, the University of Texas at Austin, the New York Public Library, the University Library of Lausanne, the Bavarian State Library, the University Complutense of Madrid, and the National Library of Catalonia along with four affiliate Catalonian libraries.

    The project will dramatically increase Internet access to the holdings of the Harvard University Library, which, as the largest academic library in the world, includes more than 15.8 million volumes, both in and out of copyright, in approximately 80 physical locations. While physical access to Harvard's library materials generally is restricted to current Harvard students, faculty, and researchers, or to scholars who can come to Cambridge, the Harvard-Google Project will enable both members of the Harvard community and users everywhere to discover works in the Harvard collection. Harvard users will be able to find and retrieve books in the Harvard Library more efficiently. Users elsewhere will be able to discover books that they might not otherwise find, to locate booksellers or local libraries where desired books might be available, to read out-of-copyright books online, and to print out copies.

    For each out-of-copyright work that Google scans from its collections, Harvard will receive a digital copy to use in a variety of ways that advance its educational and scholarly mission. Libraries are unique in their charge not only to acquire, organize, and disseminate information, but also to preserve it for future generations. The presence of these digital copies can help to ensure that the intellectual content of these works—many of which are aging and fragile—would remain available in cases of unforeseen decay or catastrophic situations such as fire.

    Over time, Harvard also intends to use the digital copy of these public-domain works in its teaching and research activities, which increasingly take place in a digital environment. Through its Library Digital Initiative, Harvard has developed a technical infrastructure to acquire, store, and deliver a wide range of digital library materials to library users. The University expects eventually to integrate digital copies of the books scanned by Google into that infrastructure and to extend its capabilities. This is a large and challenging undertaking, but in due course should yield substantial benefits for education and research.

    Notwithstanding the benefits of having digital copies, the Harvard University Library remains committed to the preservation, stewardship, and continued growth of its physical library collections. The digital copies will not supplant books, but rather will facilitate and complement their use.

    According to Sidney Verba, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library, "The Harvard-Google Project links the search power of the Internet to the depth of knowledge in Harvard's world-renowned libraries. Harvard has been collecting books for nearly four centuries. Among our out-of-copyright books are countless unique copies, unusual editions, and neglected or forgotten works. Our efforts with Google will bring about the broad dissemination of the knowledge contained in those books and, with it, significant information about the world views that those books represent.

    "It is our hope," Verba states, "that the project also can one day make in-copyright works searchable on the Internet. By working with Google, Harvard is furthering an essential aspect of the University Library's mission, which is to serve scholars around the world." "



    http://hul.harvard.edu/hgproject/index.html

  10. #10

    Update

    Just a quick update. I spoke to I believe the distributor for the US but I'm not sure it's exclusive for the Iliad:
    http://www.ereaderoutfitters.com/

    I think that there might be some software and switches that might work with it to make it more adaptive. If I find anything further I will post it on his thread. They mention that there was a quadriplegic in Colorado who has been adapting it.

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