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There can only be one

One thing about the iPhone - it makes a cracking little ebook reader. I started out using several different readers, but I've slowly been converging down to one, as more and more of the online services where I've bought books in the past have offered interfaces to the various reader platforms.

For some time Bookshelf had my vote, as it let me read all the Baen Webscription books I'd bought back in my Palm days - with direct access to the Baen site. However, I recently started using Stanza, as the Del Rey free ebook offer included T.A. Pratt's Blood Engines, something marypcb insisted I read, and the Random House servers could be read straight from Stanza.

It turned out to be an easier tool to use than Bookshelf, and less prone to hanging when opening new book sections. It was also far more configurable, so I settled in to switching between two different tools - especially as Staze supported Fictionwise, so I could uninstall eReader.

Today I was able to uninstall Bookshelf - as Webscriptions now supports Stanza. Now I can read all my ebooks in one place - removing another icon from my application list. I've still got one other ebook reader installed, Amazon's Kindle, which I loaded using my US iTunes account. I've still not put any books on it, and at this point I suspect it's there mainly as a curiosity rather than anything useful.

So a few less icons.

That's a good thing, I had too much installed.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 17th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
Another toy for you: Calibre. Ebook library management software -- cross platform (Linux, Windows, Mac), GUI front end, handles all sorts of file format conversions, and can be configured to act as a content server for Stanza!

I'm still mostly using my Sony PRS-505 for home and long journey reading, because I own it, but Stanza and a copy of my Calibre library sits on my iPhone for walking-about outside the house; it's more likely to be there if I want it and haven't planned to carry a gizmo bag.
Apr. 17th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
How do you find the iPhone's screen in terms of e-reading utility? It's only 320x480 resolution; I use a VGA-res PDA (640x480) for reading ebooks and I consider that barely OK in terms of font clarity and the amount of text on the screen at one time.
Apr. 18th, 2009 10:52 am (UTC)
Not speaking for Simon ...

There are several variables to take into account. Contrast ratio is one; the iPhone is very high contrast, and I suspect it's better than your Fujitsu. Secondly, there's physical size and pixel size: this is going to be a problem for older eyes regardless of the contrast and brightness of the display. Thirdly, there's font/typeface rendering, and here the iPhone wins hands-down over either the Sony Reader, and is as good as or better than any Windows Mobile gizmo I've seen. Finally, there's the user interface -- the iphone's multitouch is genuinely easier to use than WinMo or the crappy buttons on the Sony, once you learn the gestures.

My verdict is that if Apple did a 10" multi-touch device running iPhone OS/X, it would kick the shit out of all other ebook readers on all aspects of usability except battery life (eink wins here) and readability in direct sunlight (ditto, unless Apple were to do something creative in the display tech department). And as Apple have contracted to buy a large supply of 10" touch-sensitive displays for an unnamed product in Q3/Q4 of this year ....
Apr. 18th, 2009 11:21 am (UTC)
All TFT displays nowadays are high contrast, pretty much (high-gamut panels are lower contrast than TN and there are some special-purpose displays like the IBM T221 with low-contrast figures too). Typeface rendering is a solved problem and Apple's lead in that respect was eaten away a long time ago.

Apple was constrained by a lot of things in choosing a low-res screen option for the Jesusphone -- the half-VGA display panel is a lot cheaper than a full-VGA unit and more commonly available from the parts makers. The full-VGA display also sucks more power which would cause problems with the power budget in a phone that has no swappable battery and severe internal space constraints preventing it having a larger OE battery to start with. Battery restrictions also means less-capable backlighting for reading the screen in daylight; I was easily able to use my PDA in Japan outdoors during the summer, but that was with the third-party hi-cap battery I got for it off eBay.
Apr. 18th, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
You can use external batteries with iPods/iPhones -- but they use a dock connector to recharge the thing, so they're kind of ugly. The best of 'em are a sleeve with a bulge in the back, doubling as a case.
Apr. 18th, 2009 12:02 pm (UTC)
I like Stanza too, though the economist in me worries about your heading because it is uncomfortably accurate.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )