New EPUB eBook Reader to be sold in Argos…Cool!

Although news on the release of the COOL-ER eBook reader isn’t new, what is interesting is that the makers have struck a deal to sell this in the Argos stores.

For those of you who are not from the UK, Argos are a household name — if a Brit hasn’t bought from Argos, you know their neighbour has!

The BookSeller.com article also states that the COOL-ER book store has 3/4 million titles (although not all in the ePub format).

I don’t have a one of these readers myself – I can’t justify spending £189 when I already have a Sony 505 – but as it uses the Adobe Digital Editions, any ePub books you download from epubBooks.com or buy from one of the many book stores around, should render the same as they do on the Sony Reader.

For me, the importance of this Argos/COOL-ER deal shows that eBooks (including the ePub variety) and the digital readers for viewing them are finally entering the mainstream.

Sony announce new PSP Digital Reader – EPUB Support?

This evening a friend of mine pointed me to the Sony annoucment of the PSP and the new PSP Go over on cnet news. Why did I find this interesting enough to write about? The article also mentioned that the PSP’s will be getting their own “Digital Reader”…!!! The article says,

The PSP will also be getting a Digital Reader in December with various comic book publishers onboard to offer content. Marvel will be providing Spider-Man, X-Men, and Fantastic Four comics to start, with Wolverine, Captain America, Iron Man, and the Hulk all to follow. Compatibility with other Sony readers and more digital comics publishers will be announced soon.

The initial focus will be on comics, but that paragraph also mentions “compatibility with other Sony readers”. Is that a reference to the Sony Reader? The Guardian also makes mention to the Sony Digital Reader annoucement but again nothing beyond the comics angle.

This annoucement comes just days after Sony announced that they will be dropping their propriety BBeB format and their eBook store will start selling ePub books exclusively (Adobe DRM flavour) by the end of 2009. I can’t imagine that Sony will not open their PSP reader for use with the Sony store.

With over 50 million PSP’s already sold and many, many more once the new PSP Go is released, this could be a huge boost for both the Sony eBook store and the ePub eBook format!

Sony could be making those few hundred thousand Kindle’s seem positively niche.

There are currently 17 Adobe EPUB eBook Readers

I was just over at Bill McCoy’s blog (Adobe) reading his latest post about the current number of dedicated eBook readers which support the Adobe DRM’d EPUB format. Of course there are a number of other reading devices, such as the iPhone that can read non-DRM EPUB eBooks, but it is still surprising how many there actually are.

The Adobe Digital Edition Devices page has a little more details on each but here’s a very quick run down;

  • EZ Reader
  • EZ Reader Pocket Pro
  • Mentor
  • BeBook One
  • BeBook Mini
  • Cybook Gen3
  • Cybook Opus
  • Cool-er
  • Elonex eBook
  • Hanlin V5
  • Hanlin V3
  • iRex Digital Reader 1000S
  • NUUT2
  • Sony Reader PRS-300
  • Sony Reader PRS-505
  • Sony Reader PRS-600
  • Sony Reader PRS-700

Have you heard of all these?

Bill himself seems suprised, saying, “this is faster take-up than even this optimist had hoped for, given our launch less than six months ago of the enabling Adobe Reader Mobile 9 SDK that’s been integrated into all of these products.”

Whether you believe DRM is right or wrong, the positive side of this is that we are seeing more vendors supporting the one eBook format.

We are however still waiting to see if the Amazon Kindle’s will start supporting EPUB; will they use their own DRM – will they use any DRM at all. Let us also not forget Apple, what formats will they support on their upcoming tablet.

Bookeen releases the Cybook Opus

I just noticed on the Bookeen website that their new mini eBook reader, the Cybook Opus, is now available. I have to say this does look a very cute reader.

There’s nothing spectacular regarding the specifications but with a 5″ screen (4″ x 3″- 101mm x 76mm), this is a very pocketable eReader. The best part about this for me is their support for the ePub format, which includes the Adobe DRM (EPUB and PDF).

It looks like they’ve teamed up with BooksOnBoard, who will be providing the official Opus eBooks.

At £215 it’s not exactly the cheapest reader out there, but many will be happy to pay the extra penny’s just for its portability.

Blackewell opens new eBook store with ePub download option

While all the U.S. publishers/eBook stores remain reluctant to embrace the ePub format, the UK, and Europe in general, is really forging forward with its adoption. The latest to release an eBook store selling ePub books (plus PDF and other popular formats), is the UK academic publisher, Blackwell.

In addition to the 45,000 titles they have launched with (in partnership with the eBook wholesaler Gardners), Blackwell will also be stocking the BeBook eReader, a reader which is becoming quite popular among UK users.

It’s uncertain as to whether they will use any DRM (I can’t imagine they won’t) but at the moment the BeBook does not suopport the Adobe (ePub/PDF) DRM. However, there was a recent annoucment from Endless Ideas, who sell the BeBook, that their new WiFi BeBook reader will be supporting ePub DRM. Perhaps there will soon be a firmware update for the current model.

Borders UK release the Elonex: their very own eBook Reader

In a press release on thebookseller.com, Borders UK have announced the release of their own ePub eBook reader, in an effort to compete with the Waterstones/Sony partnership.

According to the article this reader has been specially developed for Borders, although it gives no details on exactly what the specifications are. All I know is that it is an E-Ink device that readers EPUB and “Adobe formats” (presumably PDF). As it has been released to work with the 45,000+ titles available at borders.co.uk, it must also be able to read the Adobe DRM protection.

At the moment it seems exclusively for in-store release as there is no mention at all on their website.

It’s great to see some comptetition for the Sony and of course more choice for the consumer. If I find out anything else about it I’ll let you know.

Sony Readers are coming to every town!

If you’re lucky enough to live in the U.S. then you have plenty of options when it comes to a dedicated eBook reader. For those of us from Europe however, the pickings are much slimmer. That is until now!

In case you’ve been living under a log – come this Thursday we in the UK will have our very own Sony Reader Digital Book (PRS-505)!!

According to the SonyStyle.co.uk website; they will start shipping the new Readers on the 4th September 2008. The regular shipping takes 5 working days but pay an extra £13 and you’ll receive it within 24 hours. Just think, you could be reading on your very own Sony Reader this weekend!

What do you get for your £199 (+ shipping)

I’m sure you all know the details by now so I’ll be very brief;

  • 6″ E-Ink paper like reading screen
  • Space enough for 160 books (10,000+ if you use the memory slots)
  • 6,800 continuous pages turns (avg. users may charge just once every 2 weeks!)

And What About Books?

  • Tens of thousands of bestsellers from the Sony Book Store and Waterstones (plus many others websites.)
  • 100,000+ Free public domain books via sites like Project Gutenberg (H.G. Wells, Jane Austin, Alexandre Dumas, etc.)

Now, if you’re thinking about ordering a Reader from the Sony website why not use my link below. By clicking on this link I will get a chance to win my very own PRS-505! Yep, those great people at SonyStyle.co.uk are running a competition and for me to be in with a chance of winning, I just need to place their link on my website and hope some of you lovely people will click it before ordering.

If I do win, I will however be putting the Reader to good use – I am currently developing tools to convert the Project Gutenberg txt eBooks to the ePub format and expect to start releasing them for free on ePubBooks.com before the end of the year. Having a Reader to test them on will be a big benefit! So…[link removed]

What About Other European Countries?

As the title of this post indicated, it seems the UK is not the only country that will be receiving a Reader release this year. MobileRead.com user doctorow posted on the site that perhaps Germany will also be getting their own Reader before the year is out. According to Spiegal.de (written in German) they have spoken with Sony Germany and there are plans for a release there. Perhaps an announcement will be made during this year Frankfurt Book Fair.

There is also speculation that France will follow suite before the year is out.

UPDATE: We’re now hearing that Waterstones book shops in Amsterdam and Brussels will be stocking the Sony Reader.

This could be an interesting year for us Europeans.

An Opera ePub book reading widget is being developed

Not so long ago Liza Daly released Bookworm to the public, an ePub web application for reading .epub formatted eBooks.

Another alternative is now being developed by Opera Software for their popular web browser in the form of a widget. Jon Noring has been advising Haakon Lie over at Opera to develop the browser plug-in, which is currently at a beta stage of development.

Please note: to use the widget you will need to download a version of Opera with File I/O support from Opera Labs.

[Read more…]

Sony Reader now reads ePub books!

Very early this morning, 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time to be precise, TeleRead.org broke the news that Sony are officially releasing a firmware update allowing the Sony Reader Digital Book PRS-505 to read the IDPF ePub formatted books – available from their website today.

The ePub standard has seen great interest of late from both professionals and amateurs alike but this is the first time were are going to be able to read ePub formatted books on a dedicated eBook device such as the Sony Reader.

The new firmware allows the Reader to view both DRMed and non-DRMed ePub/PDF files, which also means Sony users can now purchase books from vendors other than Sony itself (Fictionwise, O’Reilly, Penguin UK, etc). A short time ago we had confirmation from several publisher that they will start to provide ePub formatted books – Penguin UK announced they’ll have plenty of ePub books available from September 2008.

Waterstones/SonyStyle to sell Sony Reader in the UK!

For those of us who are UK eBook fans, Sony have partnered with the Waterstones book store in the UK to start selling the Sony Reader, available from 3rd September 2008, they will have over 25,000 titles available when they go live! You can also Pre-Order your Sony Reader UK (PRS-505) from SonyStyle.co.uk. The eBook titles to be made available at Waterstones will be released in the ePub format.

[Read more…]

Use the web-based Bookworm reader to read your ePub books

If you are looking for a web-based ePub book reader then look no further than Bookworm. Developed by Liza Daly (see also tei2epub Converter), the Bookworm ePub reader will allow you to read ePub books directly from your web browser, there is also a “mobile web-optimized” version for those of you with an iPhone.

The reader is currently in an open-beta status, so as always, expect some bugs and of course many improvements over the coming weeks and months.

To use the reader you will need to create an account on the Bookworm site, all your books will need to be uploaded there. At the moment there is no way to organise your books so if you upload more than a couple dozen, navigation may be a little cumbersome. Liza is working to improve this.

Unlike most other ePub readers, Bookworm allows for full use of stylesheets and images, which is especially critical for technical books which include HTML tables and code samples.

[Read more…]