Using Stanza for my stuff; Google embraces EPUB

I’m not entirely convinced about this whole ebook thing anyhow. I have, though, been playing around with Stanza on my iPhone. It’s a free app from Lexcycle (terrible name choice, for an IT company; it makes me think about exercising, not computers), and you can also download Stanza Desktop, and convert files on your hard drive to be uploaded to Stanza. In a variety of ways, thankfully, because I can’t get the my iPhone to sync with Desktop, which it’s supposed to do wirelessly through a little side-program called Bonjour. (“Bonjour!” Of course it’s named Bonjour. Apple is just so très Continental, it’s cute as hell.) I suspect it’s something to do with my wireless network, which I don’t feel like monkeying with. I found a fun work-around using a site called Bookworm; you upload your EPUB files there, visit the site on your iPhone, and then you can open what you put there in Stanza. It’s also a nifty place to store your ebooks online, no matter where you’re going to be using them.

If I’m not convinced about ereaders and ereading in general why do I care? For my own stuff. Unpublished stuff. I’ve done some writing in my time, and so have some of my friends. I can convert those files and read them any time, now. A short story a friend has written, favorite poetry I’ve collected over the years. That kind of thing. I only had this stuff digitally to begin with, so it’s fun to be able to carry it around with me as well. Fun, but not worth $299; however, Stanza-for-free (well, since I already have an iPhone) seems like a bargain.

As a side note, Google announced this morning that they will adopt the EPUB file format for Google Books; users will still be able to download files as PDFs, but the EPUB format is a free & open standard, usable by pretty much every ereader out there, so that’s a plus. Apparently this is a bit of a strike back against Amazon’s Kindle, which can certainly read EPUBs, but the Amazon Kindle Store sells its ebooks in a proprietary format that can only be read on the Kindle. Google’s move is seen as one that backs Sony instead; Sony just announced last week that it will be embracing the EPUB open format as well.

I love this whole little ebook mini-drama. There’s Google, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony. Everyone’s mad at Google for stealing all the books. But everyone thinks Amazon’s a big ol’ snob with their proprietary files and whatnot. Sony’s givin’ it to the man, and then there’s Barnes & Noble out there going, “Wait! *We’re* the book people!”

I’ll stick with paper – Sony has another new e-reader, but it’s too rich for my blood

Sony announced today that they’ll be selling a new e-reader with a touch screen and wireless capability (obviously to rival the Kindle) for $299. This new Sony e-reader, coming on the heels of the release of their Reader Pocket and Reader Touch Editions which lacking wireless capability, will be available in December and is being called the Daily Edition. Meh, to the name. Though it does make me think of some kind of cross between The Daily Show, the Daily Planet and  NPR’s Morning Edition, all good things.

Is it just me or are the price tags for all these e-readers — Kindles, Sony, what have you — just still unappealing? $299? I don’t have that just lying around. Oh, I know it’s not ridiculously exorbitant. You can’t feed a third-world nation with that money, or even buy a decent lcd tv. But it’s not peanuts, at least not to me. And yes, I know, I was willing to shell out that much for my iPhone, but, well, it’s an iPhone. It calls people, and plays music, and goes on the Internet, and has games, keeps my calendar, gets me places, and makes the world generally a better place. The Daily Edition will just store books for me to read, and that’s it. Technically my iPhone (and yes, that’s as in “my preciousssss) can do that, too. And, you know, I may not have $299 lying around, but I do have all these books, old-fashioned and all, sure, but lying around already paid for, and waiting to be read. I can just keep reading those, and buying some new ones every now and then (most of them cost much less than $299) and even borrow them for free from the library. A lot of us reader-folk aren’t that annoyed by having to carry a book around, and most of us, when struck with the sudden urge to read a particular book, can wait the very short time it would take us to acquire it, should we so desire. (Amazon and Barnes & Noble both have pretty fast shipping. And again, the library.) My point is, the price tag is just too high. You’ve already got to convince me to change the way I do something, the way I read, something that’s fundamental to my life. Making it pricey just isn’t going to sweeten that deal… especially since, and I’m one of those gadgety people, you actually haven’t yet convinced me it’s worth doing at all.

Sony Plans to Adopt Common Format for E-Books

Following up on earlier posts about ebooks and ereaders… this is interesting:

By BRAD STONE
Published: August 13, 2009
To counter Amazon.com, Sony and other device makers as well as several publishers will use the same technology, called ePub, for digital book sales.
The article talks not just about Sony’s decision to embrace a common format (as opposed to Amazon’s Kindle & their whole mess of you-don’t-really-own-this-we-can-zap-it-off-your-reader-anytime-ness), it also brings the looming spectre of Apple into play:

Allen Weiner, an analyst at the technology research firm Gartner, says there is one more company that must declare its allegiance to either an open or closed world for e-books: Apple.

If, as expected, Apple soon introduces a tablet computer that can function as a reading device, and if it embraces an open standard like ePub, Amazon will have to reconsider its closed approach, Mr. Weiner said.

“If you see some Adobe executive up on stage with Steve Jobs when they announce the tablet, at that point Amazon has a lot to worry about,” he said.