If you’ve ever been visiting a site that’s offering free .epub files and wished you could just click the link and immediately start reading – with none of that “open with… ” or “download to you computer first” nonsense – then I’ve found exactly what you want. An eReading app that allows quick and easy EPUB reading, right there in your web browser.
EPUBReader is one of the more recent software only EPUB readers and has grown into a very stable and good looking ebook reader since it’s release. The eReader itself is actually an add-on for the very popular Firefox web browser – for those still using Internet Exploer (IE) this is yet another good reason to change over to Firefox.
Once installed all you have to do is visit any website with DRM free EPUB files (why not try some Charles Dickens or Edgar Allen Poe from my own catalogue) and click on the download button. The book will open right there in the browser/reader for immediate enjoyment.
Reading from a computer monitor is not a comfortable practice for everyone, but for those who don’t mind this it’s certainly a great solution.
Please note: you won’t be able to read any DRM encumbered EPUBs with this eReader – I don’t expect that to ever change while it remains a web browser plugin – so let’s hope more publishers release DRM free ebooks in the future.
The software is in constant development and there’s always new features being added so it’s worth keeping it up-to-date. For more information visit the official website (epubread.com) or to install now jump right over to the EPUBReader Add-on page at Mozilla.
There are a number of people in the eBook world who really know their ePub format – luckily for us they enjoy sharing this knowledge among the community. One of these such people is Bookworm developer, Liza Daly.
There’s a lot of a misconception around the ePub format with the belief that it is not a very advance format to work with, this is certainly not the case. Being based on several web standards, ePub can do pretty much whatever those standards can do themselves.
In a recent blog post, Liza conducted an experiment to include a HTML5 <video> in an ePub file, which she accomplished by using out-of-island XML mark-up. Okay, so this is something of a hack, and very few ePub readers will render the content (although Bookworm does), but this just goes to show there’s some power in the ePub standard.
All you ePub developers out there might want to keep an eye on Lizas blog as she will be sharing lots of ePub tips throughout this month.
The private education sector in the UK is being forced to become more competitive in the current economic climate. We are not talking about the Etons and Harrows who will always have waiting lists but the lesser know schools which take in pupils with average ability and learning difficulties with the aim to have them leave with the best exam results possible. This is the sector that needs to attract more pupils.
So how do you attract more pupils? One of the key ways is to use Value Added Scores which compare the pupil’s ability when they enter the school to that of when they leave. If a school is taking pupils with predicted C or D grades at GCSE and sending them out with A or B grades then that school becomes an attractive proposition for parents. The problem is how to achieve such a rise in grades.
One of the best methods is to offer more courses that cater to a pupil’s strengths. However this does lead to the problems of providing staff to teach them and a classroom to teach them in. The staff problem is relatively easy to overcome as most good teachers can teach most subjects to GCSE level.
The second problem of where to teach them is a challenging one. No school achieves one hundred percent utilization of their classrooms. At the same time no teacher wants to carry around all the textbooks required to teach their course around with them all day. So it would seem that the obvious answer is to give the pupils the textbooks so they can take them from lesson to lesson. The problem is of course that some pupils will forget them, causing the inevitable disruption to the start of the lesson as pupils are moved around so they can share. The other problem is the amount of weight a pupil would need to carry around with them.
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I’ve had a crazy old time since I returned home from the Frankfurt Book Fair last week so this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and write a little about my time there, and an interesting time it was.
I again had the pleasure of having lunch with IDPF Executive Director, Michael Smith. There was no real agenda, it was just a chance for us to have a good chin-wag about ePub, how things are moving for the format and such other things. This year the IDPF held three sessions but due to my day job duties in London I only managed to attend one of his sessions; missing what I’m sure was an extremely interesting ‘EPUB Update and Tweaks and Tricks for EPUB on Devices’ session presented by Keith Fahlgren from O’Reilly – I’m wholey dissapointed about that.
Still, I did manage to attend the ‘New and Updated eBook Reading Devices’ which was rather interesting.
For this session there were four speakers; Michaël Dahan (Bookeen), Neelan Choksi (Lexcycle Stanza), Willem Endhoven (iRex Technologies) and finally Richard Siegersma (ECO Reader). All the speakers had some interesting things to say but a couple of points stuck out.
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A few days ago I had the pleasure of being invited up to Stockholm to sit with a bunch of like minded people and talk about eBooks – specifically the ePub format. This was a very eye-opening experience indeed.
I was invited to Sweden by Publit, a company who have set themselves the task of making all the Swedish out-of-print books available as PoD (Print on Demand) titles. Considering that 95% of all Swedish books ever in existence are now out of print, this is a very worthy project, if perhaps somewhat daunting. Although Publit’s main business is PoD, they are making use of this opportunity to also provide these titles as ePub eBooks.
During my time in Sweden we discussed the many different areas of the eBook world, including DRM (of course), the processes involved in going from scanned document (TIFF/PDF/DOC) to an eBook Master format and onto ePub creation itself.
Now, the people at Publit are a group of very talented individuals with plenty of technical knowledge, yet there were aspects of ePub which has left them somewhat perplexed. There were two main points which I found interesting and have heard before around the web so I thought I would share them here. [click to continue…]
Fancy an eBook reader with two screens? Then you might want to take a look when Asus release their Eee Reader, which could be out before the end of the year.
I’m not totally convinced that having two screens will improve peoples reading experience, though perhaps the one book type that could benefit woud be the textbook. The ability to have the book on one screen and a web browser on the other, looking up a spelling, or word meaning over the internet would be quite handy too.
There is also speculation on what book format the device would use. Well, if this reader is based on the normal Asus netbooks I would say that every book format would be readable. Adobe DE? Mobipocket Reader? And why not, as Steve Jordan commented in his recent Teleread article, maybe we need eBook readers to support every format. If the Eee Reader is a Windows based system then that could be a reality, we’d even see Adobe Digital Editions on there, meaning ePub formated books will be readable to.
Steve Jobs talks again about dedicated readers, insisting that, “general-purpose devices will win the day”. Well, as usueful as it is to be able to read books on an iPhone/iPod Touch, the small screens just don’t hack it for me, so perhaps the Asus will be the first company that makes a viable general purpose device. The image above is not likely the real thing so it will be interesting to see what they come up with
If you didn’t already know, I come from the UK, so you can imagine my delight when I saw that the two new Sony Readers (Pocket Edition & Touch Edition) are on pre-order over at Waterstones UK and W.H.Smith.co.uk. I fully expected that us Brits would have to wait another year before being able to buy them, but it seems that Sony have done the right thing!
For those of you who have not already heard, Sony are releasing three new eBook Readers. They are all e-paper devices that can read ePub books. The Pocket Edition has a 5″ screen. The Touch Edition is 6″ like the PRS-505, but with a touch screen. The Daily Edition, which was announced just today, has a 7″ tall touch screen and wireless connectivity via AT&T. At the moment the Daily Edition looks like it will only be released in the U.S.
The costs of the readers over at Waterstones is £179.99 for the Pocket Edition and £249.99 for the Touch Edition. Keeping in form with the PRS-505 prices, these are yet again much more expensive than our U.S. counterparts can get them for; $199 (~£120) and $299 (~£180) respectively.
Waterstones does not have the Daily Edition reader for pre-order and I wouldn’t hold much hope either that it will be released in the UK this year; Sony would still need to find a mobile provider who would allow them to piggy-back on their cell service. The general assumption is that Amazon have been trying to arrange this on their Kindle for quite sometime, without success.
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.
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.
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
- BeBook One
- BeBook Mini
- Cybook Gen3
- Cybook Opus
- Elonex eBook
- Hanlin V5
- Hanlin V3
- iRex Digital Reader 1000S
- 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.