I’ve seen quite a few new ebook developments over the past few days that have caught my attention and look like they will have some form of impact on the personal ebook market that has come to be dominated by the likes of Amazon Kindle.
Strange name but a really interesting development in ebook devices. txtrbeagle has a 5″ e-ink display and is powered by battery. Ebooks are added to the device through bluetooth, so the device essentially works with an app on your phone. An android app is available with an iphone app to follow. The app allows you to transfer ebooks from your mobile to the reader and looks to be positioned as a mobile add-on that offers a more comfortable reading experience than trying to read material on a small phone screen. Although the storage space is quoted as 4gb that is only sufficient to store 5 books at a time, which seems to imply some form of transformation of the ebook format onto the device if 5 books take up so much space.
What is really interesting about the device is the price. $13 or 10 Euros. Almost a giveaway price. But it opens the world of ebook readers to potentially a wider audience who wouldn’t want to pay $100, have already got a phone, but wouldn’t want to read a book on their phone. Or lets you, say, control what your children can read on an ebook reader that it so cheap that you are happy for your four-year old to play around with it.
Bookshout is a book importer tool that lets you import your books directly from your Amazon or Barnes and Noble account into a single platform. In itself that’s a great idea, as although tools like calibre can help with managing ebook content from multiple formats, DRM is often a restriction on being able to use the content on different platforms. But there’s also another layer on top of that idea, which is to add sharing and social features into the tool, with Google+-like circles and the ability to share notes on the book you are reading, which look great for book groups.
The tool seems to have also thought about the perspective of authors and publishers, offering ways for authors to interact with readers and for it to act as a sales and marketing channel. It’s an intriguing idea and even without the social dimension, offers a potentially useful tool to pull your ebooks into a single bookshelf.
wikipedia and ebooks
Wikipedia have recently announced a feature to allow users to export wikipedia content in an epub ebook format. http://blog.wikimedia.org/2012/09/17/new-e-book-export-feature-enabled-on-wikipedia/ Called the Book creator, the tool lets you select pages or categories of material from wikipedia. Once you’ve slected your content you can download into a small number of formats including pdf or epub or even order a print-on demand copy. It’s a useful tool to quickly extract some content for wikipedia that you want to read offline. The formatting from the epub version I tried was a little messy but all the content was extracted neatly and you end up with something that will work on your ebook reader or Adobe digital editions quite well.
At a presentation at FOTE last week about ebooks it started to become obvious that the idea of offering a feature to allow people to export content from your website in a ebook format, especially epub, is a really sensible idea and something that has interesting applications for repositories and digital libraries. Packaging the content into a neat and easily consumable package is a really good idea for websites and something that projects like anthologizr are already working on with their eprints ebook work.