Wednesday, July 27, 2011

“Sigil VS Calibre” by Meredith Greene -- is really Sigil AND Calibre

“Sigil VS Calibre” by Meredith Greene | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics:
"The pros of this program are immediately apparent: the interface is rather DIY friendly, the icon design seemed crisp and best of all the creation of the TOS (Table of Contents) couldn’t be simpler. One merely highlights the chapter heading as an h1 or h2 (or any ‘h’, really) for each chapter, then hit a button and “voila!” the beautifully-linked chapters appear in a list on the right hand side, glowing in their success and all ready to be tested. This contrasts to the more involved, coded approach that users of Calibre have struggled with, sometimes abandoning their TOS altogether."

I find the TOC feature a bit annoying when I try to tweak a published book that doesn't use this standard. There is still way too much non-standard and simply stupid implementation of HTMl and CSS to create an ebook so an application that assumes some type of sanity in an ePub is limited in what it can do.

Overall the Calibre ePub creation is very good for converting existing content into ePub. Where Calibre stands out is the WYSIWYG editor intelligently coupled with the nuts and bolts ePub components creation and publishing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Omnivoracious: Jonathan Wood's Smoking-Hot Debut Novel "No Hero"

Omnivoracious: Jonathan Wood's Smoking-Hot Debut Novel "No Hero":
"Sometimes sheer bravado and break-neck pacing can lift up a potential cliche into something more. In the case of Jonathan Wood’s first novel, No Hero, the author has created a riff on supernatural noir that’s rollicking good fun and acknowledges its debts with good humor. It also one-ups its influences with some excellent action scenes. What’s the set up? The main character, a cop, asks himself one question a lot: 'What would Kurt Russell do?' It’s not a question he’s had to answer a lot—until a secret government agency recruits him to fight the Progeny, be-tentacled horrors from another dimension. Omni checked in with Wood to find out more…"

Fantasy Book Critic: "The Clockwork Rocket" by Greg Egan (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu)

Fantasy Book Critic: "The Clockwork Rocket" by Greg Egan (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu):
"So when I read about his planned new series that takes place in a 'Riemannian universe', one where the metric - the math concept that encodes the basic physics of the universe - is positive definite and symmetric in space and time as opposed to the indefinite antisymmetric metric in the Einsteinian universe we seemingly inhabit, I was truly intrigued and indeed The Clockwork Rocket was what I expected and more and so far it is my all around top novel of the year for the combination of sense of wonder, great world building, characters and general 'human interest' - the shape-shifting, weird biology aliens of The Clockwork Rocket are both strange and familiar and the story of the main character Yalda is as emotional as any I've read this year..."

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist: Embassytown

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist: Embassytown:
"Well, this one was a chore, no question about it. Had I not been reading this during my trip through the Southern Balkans and had access to my collection, I would never have finished reading this novel. It's been a while since I've been this underwhelmed by the work of a quality author."

A decent review (I mostly agree) but more disappointed than I was.

I thought this was more of a return to Perdido Street Station and Scar. I think there may be some disappointment after Kraken, which I thought was a great book. I thought this was much more interesting then The City and the City.

Another list of books.

Another list of books.:
"Our main criteria selection were books that were strong in: Worldbuilding, Characterization, and Language. (As those are areas where Pratchett excels).

We tried with somewhat less success to bring up titles that focused on other things we liked about Prattchett’s writing: the inclusion of humor, careful handling of ethical issues, and a “feel-good” quality to the books themselves. This was somewhat less successful, as these are more ephemeral things, and harder to point at in a book.

What to read after you’ve read all available Pratchett books:"

No Robert Asprin? Tom Holt? Robert Rankin?

Fantasy Book Critic: “Prince of Thorns” by Mark Lawrence (Reviewed by Robert Thompson)

Fantasy Book Critic: “Prince of Thorns” by Mark Lawrence (Reviewed by Robert Thompson):
"PLOT SUMMARY: When he was nine years old, Prince Honorous Jorg Ancrath saw his mother and younger brother murdered before his eyes. By thirteen, he commanded a band of bloodthirsty mercenaries. By the time he is fifteen, he intends to be king."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Judge and jury - Writers and Writing -

Judge and jury - Writers and Writing -
"But Grossman, the chief book reviewer for Time, has softened over the years, and he admits that has something to do with his own success as a novelist. 'The Magicians,' his dark fantasy novel set in a universe part J.K. Rowling and part C.S. Lewis, became a 2009 best seller. A second installment, 'The Magician King,' arrives next week. And suddenly Grossman is thinking about hanging up his literary judge's robe."

Sigil has a new caretaker - The Digital Reader

Sigil has a new caretaker - The Digital Reader:
"As of today, the official maintainer for both Sigil and FlightCrew is John Schember (“user_none” on MobileRead). He’s a very bright and competent guy. He’s got what it takes, trust me. As a community, please give him the same consideration and respect you gave me. It will take him many weeks (if not a few months) to get fully up to speed with the codebase, so patience and a warm welcome from the community will make sure things go smoothly."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why ebooks are riddled with typos | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics

Why ebooks are riddled with typos | TeleRead: News and views on e-books, libraries, publishing and related topics:
"The short (somewhat obvious) answer, aside from errors introduced by OCR: because publishers cut corners by laying off proofreaders and copy editors, then rush the manuscripts out too quickly for their skeleton crews to catch gaffes. At least that’s what one editor confessed to Virginia Heffernan at the New York Times. Another editor, however, says in the era of word processors authors have gotten lazier and stupider: “It is amazing how little review seems to have occurred before the text is sent to the editor. Seriously, you have no idea how sloppy some of these things are.”"

Lazier and stupider authors? What a steaming pile of crap. The (huge) majority of the errors I've found in ebooks has been OCR related. Awkward grammar and (word-processor generated or original) misspellings are much more rare.

Unfortunately I think that the mess that is the current state of ebook publishing is lowering the standards of writing. It it not surprising that writers are cashing in on the lowered standards. We can only hope that the craft of writing benefits those who pursue quality over quantity. Frankly only time will tell. Talented writers will always be able to get their message out there and discerning readers will always be able to find talent.

We can only hope that the (rvolving) infrastructure rewards talent.

In Search of the Semicolon - The Digital Reader

In Search of the Semicolon - The Digital Reader:
"I recently edited a book in which I made consistent use of the semicolon — only to receive instruction from the client to replace the semicolons with commas. When I asked why, the response was that neither the particular inhouse editor nor the author approves of semicolons and thus they wanted use of semicolons minimized."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Kobo Touch Firmware 1.9.6 released - use dictionary with ANY ebook

Kobo Touch Firmware 1.9.6 released | Good E-Reader Blog - ebook Reader and Tablet PC News:
"First of all one of the new changes allows users to access the dictionary with books that you have loaded in yourself (sideloaded.)"

These days you can't try to force users to buy from your store. Fixing this feature has made the Kobo Touch (and the Kobo line of readers) more attractive.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Finished reading Once a Hero by Michael Stackpole

A good fantasy novel. There is really nothing new here. Men and elves and other species are at war with each other. The coming back 500 years later after being in suspended animation is the only twist and this is a twist that has been used before.

Stackpole is an experienced writer so the writing is clean and effective whether he is dealing with the action adventure or the emotional laundry that needs airing out.

A pat ending, but satisfying.

Kobo Now Accepts Paypal - eBookNewser

Kobo Now Accepts Paypal - eBookNewser:
"Kobo has just added another payment option to its ebookstore. Along with Visa, Mastercard, your immortal soul, or Gift Cards, Kobo now accepts Paypal, the payment processor of last resort."

A good reason to have Paypal as an option is that it makes the reader more accessible to teens who don't have a credit card (yet).

Ebook vending machines now showing up in Japan | The Digital Reader

Ebook vending machines now showing up in Japan | The Digital Reader:
"The system is geared towards smartphones, which makes sense. There aren’t any ebook readers that can support downloading 3rd party DRMed ebooks in this manner."

I could see this catching on. I don't see why this sales method can't extend to a "vendor" app on a tablet where independent authors can make a sale at a convention, public reading, or a street corner.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Top 5 Best eReader apps - there can only be one... not yet

The Top 5 Best eReader apps for Android Tablets | Good E-Reader Blog - ebook Reader and Tablet PC News:
"It is no secret that Tablet computers have been rising in popularity and so has peoples desire to use them for reading books. There are many ebook reading apps out there for Android, but where do you start?"
Read the pros and cons for each reader at I've found so far that no single app gets the job done. Aldiko renders the CSS part of an ePub the best but Cool Reader and Moon+ both have some nice features (scrolling options and access to a locally installed dictionary/thesaurus to name two)

FBREADER continues to be one of the most popular e-reading programs for the Android operating system and performs well for larger screen tablets. 7/10
Aldiko continues to lead the current generation of Android Reading Apps for Tablets and does not disappoint on many levels. It reads fewer ebook types then rival applications but does the job effectively with EPUB and PDF books. You can even import books you have purchased from other stores which is very solid. 9.5/10
Moon+ Reader for Android is another application with a lush book shelf interface that greets you when you load up the application. There is also a handy automatic drive scanning utility that will look at your SD card and main memory and import books into the shelf. I liked the fact it scanned both and imported everything without any prompts, complete with cover art. 8/10
The Cool Reader application for Google Android allows you a wide variety of book formats that it can read. Currently the program has the ability to read fb2, doc, txt, rtf, html, chm, tcr, pdb, epub, prc and mobi formats. 7/10
(Mantano Reader) This application does not read many formats at all, mainly PDF and EPUB. Good thing most books on the internet are in these two formats, it does involve you converting books manually if they aren’t. 8/10

Illuminating texts -

Illuminating texts -
"This essay is the first in a three-part series about the past, present, and future of reading. Part two will focus on readers in transition between the page and the screen. Part three will look at the future of reading."

As the screen overtakes the solid page, and the ground floors of libraries have begun to look like the decks of starships, and the page has become its own lamp, as millions of books become available at the click of a key, and a simple search will turn up almost anything one needs to recall, surely the memory of what is read is dissolving all that much faster.

Byte Magazine is back | The Digital Reader

Byte Magazine is back | The Digital Reader:
"The most important name (for me, at least) is Jerry Pournelle, who will be reprising his column from the print edition."

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Wertzone: Blackout by Connie Willis

The Wertzone: Blackout by Connie Willis:
"At almost 1,300 pages (between the two volumes), it's instead a massive, bloated and swollen book so packed with filler and minutiae that it's hard to plough on through the novel. The author has spent weeks and months researching the Second World War in extreme detail and by God, every single last bit of that research is going in the novel whether you like it or not."

I read the first couple of chapters last week and have not been able to pick it up again. After finishing a couple of books since then I am still not particularly motivated to pick it up again. The Wertzone review is on the mark with exactly what bothered me with the book.
I may take my medicine and plow through the book sometime later. I'm in no rush.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Google For Freedom

Google For Freedom:
"Everything is encrypted in https, preventing your communications from being (easily) intercepted.
You can conceal who is in your Circles, and who has you in their Circles.
Unlike Facebook, you don't have to use your real name.
Google Takeout will let you export all your data. So if a journalist has to take down their account, they can take that contact information elsewhere."

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kobo WiFi eReader Touch Edition - best in its class, available in Canada

Kobo Touch Review and Comparisons - Kobo WiFi eReader Touch Edition:
Kobo Touch"The Kobo Touch is the latest addition to Kobo's line of ebook readers. It replaces the Kobo WiFi but maintains many of the same features while adding some software and hardware upgrades.

The Kobo Touch comes in four color varieties: Lilac, Blue, Silver, and Black. Staying true to Kobo's low-priced approach, it sells for $139 in Canada and a competitive $129 in the United States, $10 less than the Kindle 3 WiFi and new Nook Touch."

If I were going to get an e-ink reader for friend or family I would probably go for the Kobo Touch. Firmware needs to be upgraded a time or two to get the wrinkles out. Some minor, but essential functions are missing, and I don't like how the dictionary only works with Kobo books, but otherwise it looks simple enough for anyone to use but powerful and flexible enough for rooting and fiddling.

Its competitor, the Nook Touch, is not available in Canada (yet) and Kindle doesn't have anything comparable in this price range.

A Hard Day's Knight by Simon Green - Book Review

Finished reading A Hard Day's Knight by Simon Green. It is the eleventh book in the Nightside series.
Heres the blurb from Simon Green's website:
John Taylor is a P.I. with a special talent for finding lost things in the dark and secret centre of London known as the Nightside. He’s also the reluctant owner of a very special—and dangerous—weapon. Excalibur, the legendary sword. To find out why he was chosen to wield it, John must consult the Last Defenders of Camelot, a group of knights who dwell in a place that some find more frightening than the Nightside.

London Proper. It’s been years since John’s been back—and there are good reasons for that.

Obviously, if you haven't read the first ten books you won't get much out of this book. As far as a Nightside book goes it is pretty good. Unlike some of the earlier books not every paragraph ends with the tag "in the Nightside". The strangeness in the Nightside is really not an issue in this book but we might see it in the next book. The lack of the tag is probably why the book is so short. It felt more like a side-plot pulled out of a bigger novel than a book in its own right. I know this is a concern for all series of any length, but this book's modest word count seemed to stand out in this collection of slim novels.

A straightforward plot with an easy resolution, but a pleasant read nevertheless.The soap opera cliffhanger ending isn't much of a surprise if you know that the name of the next book is The Bride Wore Black Leather.