I'm a huge ebook dork. I've had Sony's first and second generation e-readers and loved them both. I started out with the Japan-only Librie, and after being initially frustrated with the DRM, eventually managed to crack the firmware and fell in love with the device.... Until the unit stopped booting one day.
And then came the PRS-500 reader, with its instant boot, better refresh rate, English operating system and DRMless firmware. The gigantic improvement has kept me reading from the PRS-500 for over a year now. I've been through dozens of novels since purchasing it.
Now Sony is hitting us with yet another generation, so though I'm too happy with my 500 to upgrade, the 505 does have some useful qualities that will make it more appealing to some. First, the contrast ratio is better, as good as a modern paper back. The whites are whiter, the blacks are blacker. Also, a doubling of intermediate grayscale shades (from four to eight) makes images and text even more crisp.
I have an eBook reader, the Sony Reader, which I'll be doing a review of soon. I love it, for many reasons, but the worst part of the Sony Reader is that it is difficult to find the book you want to buy with their store, and then it's not as easy as it should be to get the book into the thing.
Well, a year ago, Amazon filed an eBook device called the Kindle with the FCC that would be very much like my Sony Reader (high-resolution, low-power, paperback-sized, etc) but has the added advantage of Amazon.com's entire inventory.
Even cooler, the device contains a wifi card that allows direct download to the book. Frikkin' awesome. So WHERE IS IT!
Well, Engadget just discovered that links have been showing up on Amazon.com for Kindle downloads. Currently, the links are dead ends, but this little slip seems would lead us to believe that Amazon.com is on the cusp of releasing its Kindle to the public.
Bruce Sterling has been tracking the future as a SciFi author for years. Now, he's working on creating the future. He's postulating the possibility of a fully downloadable world. Raw materials would be manufactured into whatever you want (in this case, a chair) based on downloadable designs. You pay for the design, not the chair. When you're done, you give the material back to the manufacturer, and they turn it into something else.
The process would eventually expand beyond simple items, like furniture, allowing appliances and electronics to be manufactured in a similar local, sustainable, not-being-shipped-from-China kind of way. Of course, Sterling's "Spimes" are a ways off, but that doesn't mean we aren't hanging on every word.
Another interesting development in downloadableness...TreeHugger has started up it's first Niche blog, which seems to be largely paid for by Absolut Vodka. The subject...downloadable everything. It's worth a read, if you can get past the fact that every third word is "Absolut."
Last week we had the second in our series of EcoGeek science-fiction
author interviews with Karl Schroeder
. It was a
great, thoughtful and wide-ranging interview, and if you haven't read it
yet, you should go back and take a look.
If you were intrigued by the interview, but wanted to find out more about
his writing, we've now got some great news for you. Karl has made his first novel,
Ventus, available as a free, Creative Commons licensed e-book.
"I've released this book under a Creative Commons license,
which means you can read it and distribute it freely, but not make
derivative works or sell it. At the moment it's available in PDF, MS
Reader and zipped HTML formats."
He is also looking to make it
available in Palm reader and Mobipocket versions, so those are likely to
be made available before long, too.
Remember, too, that our first EcoGeek science-fiction author interviewee,
also had the first third of his two novels available to read online, as