"Not wanting to come at this completely from a gadget side of things we hunted out an expert, a rare book dealer, to ask him what he thought of the e-book reader." – Cybook review in Pocket-lint


  1. “At the end of the day, the device is simply feeding you text – albeit in a friendly way – and provides little of the ‘touchy-feely’ experience you get from a book – dog-eared pages, colourful artwork and that cream background.”

    If he wants to get touchy-feely, he should go in and edit the ebook file to offer the kindly sort of homemade format conversions that machines can’t seem to do.

    Also, David, I noticed a couple ePub files popping up on that flashy new Tor site! In particular, Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa (at the bottom of the list of all the former weekly giveaways) and the two short stories (by Scalzi and Stross) have ePub download links (though Scalzi’s short story download link for ePub appears broken). Now is there anything that will let me read them on my Palm yet, or will I have to opt for a different format?

  2. GN, that’s great news about Tor—many thanks. My fave e-book reader for the Palm is the PalmFiction reader. And last I knew, it didn’t do ePub. In fact, I don’t know of any Palm reading apps that will; does anyone else?

    My Nokia 770 reads ePub books without any hassles—thanks to FBReader. Hmm. Too bad you down own that one. Not that this will bail you out, but speaking of Palm stuff, I wonder if there’s finally a decent emulator for the 770 that displays good-looking fonts.


  3. …you don’t get page numbers unless it’s a PDF file

    With reflowing text, page numbers are no longer a good reference system, but they remain essential for readers to feel the pages (even if they do change every time the style is changed).

    Despite the fact that the book dealer loves the paper product (if he didn’t he is in the wrong trade), what makes a book a book is its pages. He got that bit very right.

    The arbitrary break-up text into numbered, area-based, units (for non-trivial reading), is as essential to the reader as paragraph-breaks. Even going so far as to have different inner and outer margins (left and right) helps gauge the general progress through the work, somehow progress bars/numbers are too fuzzy to be real.

    White space, widow and orphan control, variable leading, the visual displacement of figures and illustration above or below their reference place is part and parcel of book design.

    Pages should tell the reader what they are reading (header/footer), I don’t know how often I have reopened my iliad having momentarily forgotten what text I was previously reading (it could always be turned off or made more discreet).

    I usually make few changes to the style (font-size) and once I do I leave it, page numbers would be relatively stable in other words). Better book marking (top paragraph at least) is needed, but the slider should be one to one with the page number (confusingly this is not always the case).

    We must have “real” pages, with headers/footers and virtual page numbers – then we have e-books that are books, instead of scrolls!

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