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 Unpublished stuff.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!”