New Asus Eee Reader with Dual Screen

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

EPUB books can now be borrowed from the library

I Twittered (@epub) about the Cleveland Public Library press release when it was first announced, and David from TeleRead has also written a post on this. “This” being that the Cleveland library is the first library to offer up eBook downloads in the EPUB format! Naturally this is great news for the EPUB fans, but more importantly it’s great for the general public at large.

OverDrive are providing them and another 8,500 libraries access to EPUB books for borrowing. We must also presume that as OverDrive increase their number of EPUB titles , all these libraries will be offered them too.

As TeleRead mentions, it would be great if they could also offer their books via popular iPhone readers such as Stanza which could then encourage younger readers to get back to books.

I expect 8,500 libraries is a good coverage across the U.S. but as an European I hope our libraries can strike a similiar deal. If both sides of the big pond can offer up these services then there’s potential for more countries to follow suit, which would be particularly useful for those where moving a ton of paper books around can be quite difficult and expensive.

Easy ebooks with eCub EPUB creator

Recently the TeleRead blog discussed the need for an ePub desktop word processor application that would allow authors and non-techies to easily (and cheaply) write and save their work in the EPUB format. There are a number of OpenOffice proponents but otherwise there is no solution yet.

So what are your options?

One possible sollution could be the free eCub EPUB creator, “a simple .epub creation tool” written by Julian Smart that allows you to import XHTML or text files and export these into an EPUB formatted file. Okay, so you won’t get any nice WYSIWYG editing tools but the basic editing (notepad style) is enough to make basic adjustments from within the programme.

Versions are available for Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD and Solaris – there is even a portable version for use on USB devices.

I tried a quick test project which had 13 HTML, 2 images and a CSS file. I filled in all the appropriate fields from within eCub, used the built-in Cover Designer, changed a couple of options here and there then hit Compile. Done and Dusted!

Here are the basic features of eCub EPUB Creator;

  • Creates unencrypted EPUB files from text or XHTML files
  • Edit text or XHTML files with its simple internal editor
  • Built-in (simple) cover image designer
  • Optionally creates title, content and cover pages
  • Command line execution options
  • Portable Mode (data and settings are stored locally)

When the eCub created EPUB file is opened in Adobe Digital Editions it views just fine, however, when trying to open the same file on my Sony Reader and iPod Touch it failed with, according to Stanza, an OPF error. I will need to do some digging around to find out why it fails on these two devices, but I’m sure there is a simple explanation.

It’s been just over a year since the official release of the EPUB spec and we are now starting to see some great tools released in aiding the creation, conversion and viewing of EPUB formatted books. This is certainly what the ePub community needs and I have a feeling we will only see more tools like eCub being created during 2009.

ePub Books Project Part 1: An Introduction

In this three part series I am going to introduce the ePub Books Project; a project to convert the Project Gutenberg Plain Vanilla .txt eBooks to the .epub format and make them available to download for free. In these articles I’ll be talking about how the project came into being, the current status, and how I hope to develop it in the future.

When I first setup the ePub Books blog the sole intention was for it to be a platform where I could discuss my experiences as I learn to produce .epub formatted documents from a ‘Master Format’, and with the hope that others may also find the information useful.

The world of ePub has taken off considerably quicker than I, and many other people would have thought and as a result the objectives of both my eBook project and that of the of the ePub Books website have changed.

As I work through and learn about the epub conversion process I will also start work on setting up as a repository. This will be a place where anyone can come along and download ePub formatted eBooks (no DRM) for use on whatever epub compatible reading platform they may have.