Books Useful stuff

Is it a VHS tape?

My wife returned from Israel with a cool gift for me. At first I thought it was a VHS tape …

Books Useful stuff

Loose-leaf South African legal textbooks looking for a new home

I have a number of loose-leaf legal textbooks which I don’t need anymore and I would like to sell them as quickly as possible. None of these volumes are up to date and while I have a couple piles of updates, they may not be complete and certainly are not the most recent ones either. Basically, you can have the lot for R250 and you need to come collect them from my office by the end of this week (that is, by 16:00 on Friday, 13 April 2012).

If we don’t sell this stuff by then, we’re either donating it to a library that doesn’t have enough paper or it all goes into a recycling bin.

Contact me if you are interested. First come, first served and thanked.


Correlation between being gay and being a computer user?

I noticed this odd book section placement at Exclusive Books in Rosebank The Zone. Is this a trend?

Books Useful stuff Web/Tech

20 things you can learn about browsers and the Web … from an ebook

I just came across this awesome ebook from the Google Chrome team titled “20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web“. One of the cool things about the book is that it is not downloadable but is rather coded in HTML 5. I haven’t read it yet but it looks like a goodie!

Books Devices Mobile Tech

"PDF" ebooks from won't work on your Kindle

I got excited when I saw that offers “PDF” ebooks and bought a book on the Consumer Protection Act (the link contains an affiliate link) in the hope that I could read it on my Kindle DX. It took a little doing to get the book as experienced a glitch with its system and only processed my payment 4 days later but I downloaded the file this morning only to discover that its file extension is “.acsm“. According to the MobileRead wiki:

When you start to download a protected Adobe PDF or ePUB a small file with the extension .acsm is first downloaded. This is used by Adobe Digital Editions to send the activation ID to the delivery server which will use that ID to generate an encrypted PDF or ePUB eBook, which is then downloaded to your PC.

I located the PDF version of the book that Digital Editions downloaded but it would only open with Digital Editions on my MacBook. I transferred the book to my Kindle and I was told the book has embedded features my Kindle doesn’t support. So much for that idea.

It is handy to have the ebook on my MacBook but that is really not where I want to read ebooks. I want to read it on my Kindle. also sells books in epub format which is also the preferred book format for Apple’s iBookStore (not available in SA so you need to have an US iTunes Store account) and probably also for Google’s anticipated ebook store when that launches sometime this year. Amazon doesn’t support epub yet and this also presents a challenge. We are starting to see the effects of a fragmented ebook format system where not all ereaders can support the main ebook formats. That may suit the providers and publishers but it doesn’t suit users at all. Ideally my ereader of choice should support the books I want to read, DRM’d or not.

Books Business and work Mindsets Mobile Tech

Amazon Kindle free 3G – "free" as in $2 more

It turns out that when Amazon says international Kindle users get free 3G for their 3G enabled Kindles, they really mean international customers pay an extra $2 for their books.

I just read a post on Download Squad that points out a $2 discrepancy between Canadian (and presumably US) pricing and international pricing.

Since I’m so anxious to start using it, I decided to get a head start on building up my electronic library. I decided to start with the classics – for example, Moby Dick. Yes, I know it’s available for free online, but this edition is typeset for the Kindle so I figured it must be worth the modest sum Amazon asks for it ($2.95, as you see in the screenshot above).

When I sent the link to my friend, who has an Amazon account with a Canadian billing address, we were amazed to discover that Amazon list the same exact item at $0.95 when she’s looking at it.

This charge is apparently a markup for roaming charges and these charges will apply regardless of whether your Kindle is 3G enabled or not. I suspect it will apply regardless of whether you are even using a Kindle because the pricing appears to be based on billing address than anything else. Not nice Amazon! If you really have to charge extra for international roaming then don’t advertise “free 3G”.

To his credit, David Greenway mentioned this to me on Twitter a while ago and I didn’t really think much of it at the time (didn’t realise what he was referring to, more like it).

Books Business and work Mobile Tech Useful stuff

Kindle for Android app is now available

I just noticed that the Kindle app for Android is available. DeWitt Clinton posted a few thoughts about the Kindle for Android app on Buzz and I rushed to the Kindle for Android page on the Amazon site for the lowdown and a link to the download page on the Android Marketplace.

Amazon’s Kindle service is now available on the iOS platform (iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad), PC, Mac, Android devices and, of course, Kindle devices themselves. It seems pretty clear that if the Kindle service is to dominate, it will be because of its cross-platform availability rather than because of Kindle devices themselves. I have already read reports about how nicely the Kindle app works on the iPad and having the app on my Android phone makes Kindle ebooks a pretty attractive option to me. I often wind up reading feeds in bed before passing out (my reading time ranges from about 3 minutes to half an hour … give or take). Having the Kindle app on my phone means I can actually read a couple books when I am out and about.

Google is also rumoured to be about to launch its answer to the Kindle service. That should be pretty interesting because one of the rumours is that the Google ebook service will be largely Web/browser based rather than through an app, per se. If this is the case it will probably be an HTML 5-based Web application which probably won’t be all that different to a conventional app on the device. It will create real competition for Amazon which seems to be rubbing publishers the wrong way lately.

There is quite a lot to say about ebooks and ebook formats alone. Amazon would probably entrench itself if it enabled users to load ebooks using the epub format or even sold its books in that format. It seems to be the format of choice for the Apple iBooks Store and, if the rumours are accurate, the Google Books initiative.

For now, I am really pleased the Kindle for Android app is now available and have a couple books lined up in my wishlist for purchase. Maybe I’ll actually get through these ebooks – I haven’t done so well with their paper-based cousins.

Books Business and work Devices Useful stuff Web/Tech

Want an eReader? The iPad probably isn't for you.

I have been resisting the urge to speculate about the iPad since it was announced. I have a history of seizing upon the latest Apple/Nokia gear and proclaiming it to be the next best thing since the printed word (or the last Apple/Nokia gear). I have generally been wrong about just how awesome the device initially appeared to be and so I have decided to avoid the repetitive speculation about the iPad (except for the speculation below) until I have had a chance to actually fondle one.

The one topic I can’t resist writing about is the iPad as an eReader. My interest in such a device would be largely as an eReader as well as a general tablet Internet device. eReaders seem to be pretty special beasts. The biggest issue seems to be the screen which needs to be as close to paper while remaining versatile enough to handle a variety of publications. We have all had eReaders in front of us for years now, we call them laptops and desktops, but they haven’t been convenient eReaders for a variety of reasons including size, portability, orientation and, well, the screens themselves. I haven’t done a lot of ebook reading on my MacBook but the little reading I have done isn’t really as comfortable as a paper book.

One of the apps on the iPad is the iBooks application which is only available in the United States. Apple has signed up a couple publishers and the iBooks demo showed me a beautiful user interface, typical of just about anything Apple does. Steve showed us how turning the page is an experience in itself and the swish looking bookshelf. I don’t think I was the only person who cringed a little when I saw the Kindle on that big screen behind Steve right before it transitioned to the gorgeous looking iPad. There was obviously some clever psychology behind that Kindle portrayal and, having spent a good portion of the Stevenote looking at this gorgeous new device, listening to Steve’s superlatives, the Kindle does look a little dated and clunky.

Having said that, I wonder just how effective the iPad would be as an eReader. I haven’t heard anyone say that an LCD screen is as good as or better than the e-ink displays you find on modern eReaders when it comes to visibility in varying lighting conditions, general comfort or even power consumption (10 hours is still pretty respectable on the iPad and you can recharge the device). I came across a conversation thread on gdgt about LCDs compared to e-ink displays as an illustration of the general consensus. So the iPad may present a better looking interface for ebooks but will it be a good experience if you are going to use the device as your primary paper book replacement? The Kindle, for example, is often touted as pretty close to paper and so readable in every lighting condition a paper book works in, you probably won’t look back at your paper library again. That sort of thing makes a difference. On the topic of paper books, also remember that they tend to be pretty simple in terms of visual aesthetics and our reading experience need not be all that different. Of course our expectations will change when publications become more dynamic and start incorporating multimedia elements which e-ink devices currently don’t support all that much.

One big factor pretty much takes the iPad out of the equation as an eReader for anyone outside the United States. The iBooks application looks like it will only be available in the USA and, as yet, unspecified countries. If the iBooks’ availability is limited to those countries that support the iTunes Store then those people with illicit US iTunes Store accounts will probably be able to benefit from the application nonetheless. That still leaves those people with the question whether the iPad gives bibliophiles the sort of experience they would have on a Kindle?

Just to add to the debate, also consider Amazon’s Whispernet (free data wherever the Kindle is supported which is almost everywhere there is a GSM connection) and its catalogue (I am sure Apple will also boast a substantial catalogue soon enough).

I have had my eyes on a Kindle DX since they were first announced and I’ve been that much more excited about it since the global wireless version was announced last month. It is pretty big compared to the Kindle 2 (based on size comparisons) but my line of work makes it more useful to me. I really haven’t made my mind up about the iPad and probably won’t till I get to play with one. At the same time I am still pretty keen on the Kindle DX, even with its monochromatic screen and clunky form factor.

If you are going to buy yourself a Kindle, please consider doing so through the banner at the top of this blog. Any purchases will be tied to my Amazon affiliate code and will help support this blog and my own Kindle fund! 😉