Category Archives: Ebook Readers

iRex Looks to be No Dog

Amazon’s been sitting pretty so far with their Kindle 2 and Kindle DX.  The competition has been fairly light, with Sony’s E-Reader being recognized as it’s only real competition.  But with Christmas just around the bend (3 months away as of this writing), retailers are starting to make their announcements now, just in time for holiday shopping to begin.

Two big retailers are throwing their proverbial hats into the E-Reader ring.  Verizon and Best Buy are backing the iRex, a touch screen E-Reader.  Already a well known brand in Europe, the iRex is coming out in the US with an 8.1 in touch screen and 3G wireless connection provided by Verizon Wireless, and will be sold through retail giant Best Buy.  The device will retail at $399.

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The Prius of E-Books

Another manga publisher has jumped on the Kindle bandwagon.  Seven Seas has announced that some of their titles will now be available for purchase on the Kindle.  It’s good to see manga publishers embracing e-books, but I would hope they are looking not just at the Kindle/iPhone, but beyond at the other devices that are coming out.  Soon.

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Shot Across The Bow

new_reader_open_angle_f_610x568We knew it was in the works, and now Sony has unveiled it.  The third e-Reader in their hardware line, the Reader Daily Edition.  Sony announced the new device on Tuesday at a press conference.  The Daily Edition is different from it’s older brothers in 2 important ways.  One, it has a larger touch screen, coming in at 7 in.  And two, it has built-in wireless capabilities, provided by AT&T.  Finally, Sony has a device that can truly compete with the Kindle!  ….Maybe.

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A Better Alternative…For Now

Recently, Amazon quietly announced a price drop for it’s Kindle 2 e-reader.  Slashing $60 from the price to $299, the Kindle is now coming closer to the price of other ebook readers.  If Amazon wants the Kindle to be competitive in any way, it had too.  Sony, not to be out done, not only slashed prices, but also came out with two new devices.  The E-Reader Pocket for $199 and the E-Reader Touch for $299 and will be out by the end of August.  The older Sony E-Reader 505  is $279, and can be found at Staples stores now.  Bebook, another competitor is also $279.  Cooler Books has it’s own e-reader now, the Cool Reader, which looks a lot like an iPod and comes in different colors, and is only $249.

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Possible Marketing Strategy for Sony?

e-reader-pocketSony, in an attempt to be competitive with the Amazon and it’s Kindle, announced this week it would be releasing two new versions of it e-reader and a price drop on it’s books.  The Reader Pocket edition is slightly smaller than the original e-Reader, with a 5 in diagonal screen, and a price point of $199, $100 lower than the Kindle 2.  The Touch Edition will have the standard 6in diagonal screen  and has a touch screen with virtual keyboard.  The touch screen will give the reader a more book like experience with page turns and the ability to highlight and add notes with a finger or stylus.  And Sony will now match Amazon’s price on new, bestsellers of $9.99.

e-reader-touchWhile the drop in prices are nice, and may attract more people to Sony, it still doesn’t have a wireless connection.  Users of the Sony E-Reader have to download their books to their computers and then upload them to the E-Reader.  After Amazon’s “1984” fiasco, is that really a bad thing?  Sure, it might be convenient to be able to download a book anytime (in the US only), but Amazon has shown it can and will take back books from the Kindle.  Even though they’ve said they won’t do that again, can they really be trusted?

I think Sony marketing should grab up this ball and run with it!  Turn the lack of Whispernet into an advantage, instead of the disadvantage everyone keeps making it.  “The Sony e-Reader: No Takebacks.”  Push that the user has control over the device and what goes on, AND comes off it.  I personally prefer to have control over the content I buy and put on the hardware I buy.  I’m enough of an adult to take responsibility for what I download and install, and don’t need a “big brother” looking over my shoulder.  If Amazon wants to be another Apple, then Sony should try to be a Google.

Small Screen Comic/Manga Readers

As Amazon ships its Kindle 2.0, bloggers and tech sites, just to be contradictory, have been talking a lot about the alternatives to the Kindle.  And it’s usually the iPhone that gets the spotlight.  Sorry, the iPhone is not Job’s gift to man.  There are plenty of other small screen devices that can do the job without the stranglehold.

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What Would It Take?

kindle 2.0What would it take to get you to buy a Kindle?  Amazon’s ebook reader seems to be selling okay (not that we’ve seen any numbers), but there are a lot of people who haven’t taken to it, or any other e-book reader device.  And why should they?  Books work just fine, and buying them is cheaper than the electronic gadget.  Amazon boasts to have thousands of ebooks, but very, very few that would interest readers of this blog, namely manga.  What if Amazon tried to sweeten the deal?  Would you go for it?

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Wanna Read Manga (Blogs) on Your Kindle?

159173-kindle2-product-shot3_1801When I last looked at the Amazon Blogs, just after the Kindle 2.0 came out, there were no blogs available.  Whispernet is rather pointless if there aren’t any books or blogs to get through it.  But that is starting to change finally.  A tweet from Erica Friedman about her Yuri blog Okazu being published on the Kindle made me take a look to see if there were any others.  I was pleasantly surprised to see there were a few others.

Comics Worth Reading is a group blog run by Johanna Draper Carlson.  It’s a terrific place to get reviews of not just manga, but comics, graphic novels and everything related to them.

Okazu is run by Erica Friedman and is the oldest blog about Yuri manga.  You won’t find better or comprehensive information on Yuri than here.

There it is, Plain as Daylight is a review blog by Melinda Beasi.  You’ll find lots of reviews of manga and commentary here.

The Anime Almanac is a blog by Scott VonSchilling.  It covers manga, anime and commentary on the medium.

The Anime Blog is a group blog.  It covers anime and manga, as well as Japanese culture such as cooking, culture and fashion.

People may ask, “Why pay for something you can get for free?”  The answer is simple; convenience.  The big innovation of the Kindle is Whispernet, the ability to get content delivered immediately.  Getting a blog on your Kindle means you don’t have to constantly check if there’s an update.  It comes to you, ready to be read.  If you do subscribe to the Kindle edition of any of these blogs, give the bloggers feedback.  Help them improve your reading experience.

Kindle DX: One Step Closer to Digital Manga isn’t resting on it’s laurels with the Kindle.  The Kindle 2.0 was only just releases in February, but less than 3 months later, they already have a new model out, the Kindle DX.  It features a larger screen, 9.75 in, integrated PDF support and auto rotating from portrait to landscape.

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While looking around for links to add to my e-reading section, I stumbled upon these posts about putting manga on the Sony E-Reader.  They feature the PR-500, but the current, less expensive version, the PR-505, is essentially the same.  These include an extensive comparison of color comics, scanalated manga, and Tokyopop manga available through Sony’s store.  There are also links to a conversion guide to convert scans to a format optimal for reading, and Manga2Ebook, and RasterFarian, programs used in the conversion guide.

Here are some videos as well, showing manga on the E-Reader:

You won’t have to turn your head sideways for this one:

E-books of calibre

Being a wanna-be tech hound, I watch the tech news for interesting posts about the tech subjects I like.  I found one over at Channel Web that I’d thought I’d share with all my readers who are interested in E-books.  They have a slide show showing all the current and future/possible E-book Readers, with specs.  Check it out.

At the end they mention a few software programs as well.  But there is one that I think anyone considering purchasing an E-book Reader should look at.  I found out about it when I was exploring the MobileRead website and forums.  It’s an open source free program called Calibre.

Calibre is an ebook management program that works on all the major platforms (Windows, Linux and Mac OS X).  It works as a library, a format converter, and, best of all, convert news feeds to ebook format!  With this program, which hands all the major formats, including Kindle and Sony, it doesn’t matter which reader you get.  You can read any ebook on your reader.

What I like best about it, is that it can take RSS feeds and make them available to read on the e-reader.  The Kindle charges you for the feeds it makes available, and both Amazon and Sony only give you a limited number of feed to get.  With calibre, you can take any feed you want to read anywhere.  You don’t have to be tied to a computer to read them.  It’s not an automatic download, but you have the freedom to get what you want, and not just what’s popular.

I believe the Kindle has resparked the popularity for ebooks and readers.  The last year has seen a reported 235% jump in e-book reader sales.  I don’t know if I’ll stick by the claim that the Kindle is the “ipod of ebooks”, but it was definitely brought interest to a previously fringe technology.  The competition it has sparked can only be a boon to us, the consumers.

Kindle 2.0: Is It Worth It?

Today, had a big press event to unveil the newest generation of its e-book reader, the Kindle.  Speculation has been running about for while now that Amazon would release a new reader with leaked photos, increased orders of screens, and a long reorder wait at the Kindle store.

So, what’s new about it? Well, not much.  There were some cosmetic changes, which many people called for when it first came out in late 2007.  It’s lighter and thinner, has an estimated 25% increase in battery power, and more memory that will allow it to hold nearly 6 times more books.

What’s in it for manga readers?  Again, not much.  It does boast a new screen that is capable of showing 16 shades of gray, as opposed to the first generation that could only show 4.  This would definitely improve the quality of black and white pictures, which makes up most manga releases.

What hasn’t changed?  The two most important things that would make the Kindle relevant to manga readers; price and content.  The price hasn’t changed, so it’s still $359.  But in this economy, that prices the reader out of LOT of people’s range.  Prices under $200 seems to be the magical limit for most consumers.  The Kindle was designed to be and remains a tool for the affluent and/or business person on the go.  This is most reflected in the content available for it.  You can get  103 of 110 New York Times best sellers, 230,000 total e-books, and 250 blogs and 23 newspapers.  A search of the Kindle store will give you just three manga volumes; Maximum Rider and World of Quest from Yen Press, and Japan Ai from Go Comi, and zero blogs.

This upgrade of the Kindle is more of a 1.75 than a 2.0.  They fixed some little issues and made some cosmetic changes, but little else.  There’s still no graphic support without hacking, and although files can be converted, there’s no support for other formats than the Kindles mobibook.  The SD slot was also taken out, so your 2GB of memory is it.

Jeff Bezos says “Our [Amazon’s] vision for the Kindle is to have every book ever printed, in any language, all available in under 60 seconds.”   I would think that would include manga, manga publishers would have to get serious about the format, and not just scoff it.  And then there are issues of licensing and price to consider, with Amazon pushing for lower prices, and taking 65% of that price.  Like the Apple Apps store, maybe it’s just not worth it to publishers, which would truly be a shame.

Is the Kindle 2.0 worth it?  Unless you’re a tech hound, or travel a lot for business, no.  Stay with paper books for now.