Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Archive for the 'ebooks' Category

Iterations ebook!

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

For the next 17 days, until February 28, for the first time ever, my first short-story collection Iterations and Other Stories is available as an ebook, along with five other great books by the likes of Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch — all six books for just $2.99 from BookBale.com. Iterations features an [...]

Starplex ebook available for one month only

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

The first BookBale.com ebook bundle has gone on sale! The basic bundle includes my Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated Starplex, available for the first time ever as an ebook. Also included are five other books by major, award-winning writers. The bundle is on sale for one month only, until the end of November. Until then you [...]

Lightwedge Flex Neck ebook light

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Just under a year ago, I reviewed the Lightwedge Verso ebook light. I thought it wasn’t bad, but could use some improvements. Now, Lightwedge has brought out a new ebook light called the Lightwedge Flex Neck Tech Light — and this one I don’t like at all. I’m unhappy for four reasons: (1) The clear [...]

Ten years of reading ebooks

Friday, September 16th, 2011

This week marks my tenth anniversary as a reader of ebooks. I got in early because, as a science-fiction writer, I’d long been expecting this technology. After all, Captain Kirk read reports off a wedge-shaped device back in 1966, and the astronauts in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey used tablet computers for viewing [...]

My Love Affair with Ebooks

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

That’s the title of my guest-blog posting at the official Kobo blog. You can read the whole thing there. Robert J. Sawyer online:Website • Facebook • Twitter • Newsgroup • Email

New York Times to add ebook bestsellers’ list

Monday, November 15th, 2010

The New York Times will be adding an ebook bestsellers’ list to its prestigous weekly book-review section, according to this article. I think that’s wonderful. Services like BookScan (in the States) and BookNet (in Canada) have given us reliable pictures of paper book sales for several years now, but all we’ve had is hype about [...]

Fleming estate publishes ebooks directly

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

As The Guardian reports, the estate of James Bond creator Ian Fleming has chosen to withhold ebook rights from Penguin, his UK publisher, and instead market the electronic editions directly themselves. I’m a proud Penguin author myself (in the US and Canada; my UK publisher is Orion), but I’m not surprised by this development. Back [...]

Lightwedge Verso ebook light

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

E-ink devices are not backlit, so if you want to read in the dark, you need a light source. Lightwedge’s Verso ebook light is one option. The “technical specifications” for this light, as listed on the Amazon catalog page, include: “Flexible neck adjusts to eliminate reflection or glare.” So it’s ironic that the flexible neck [...]

New ebook reader comes bundled with Sawyer short stories

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

The new jetBook mini ebook reader from ECTACO comes bundled with my short-story collection Iterations and Other Stories for free. Included are 22 stories and my notes on each one. Here’s the table of contents. For more on the jetBook mini, see here, here, and the ECTACO site here. Robert J. Sawyer online:Website • Facebook [...]

Are the days of the full-time novelist numbered?

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

I was the only author invited to give a solo talk at this year’s Canadian Book Summit, which had the theme of “Hot New Models” — the implicit assumption being that new technologies and ways of doing business, such as ebooks and print-on-demand, were going to be the salvation of traditional publishing. My talk was [...]

Fingering your nook

Monday, March 1st, 2010

A suggestion for Barnes and Noble re the nook ebook-reading device: The very first Palm Pilot going back all the way to 1996 and the original Rocket eBook from 1998 allowed you to do handwriting recognition (on Palms, using the Graffiti or Graffiti 2 system, the former of which used simplified characters, the latter of [...]

B&N nook: There’s no justification for this!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

It’s bad enough that the Barnes & Noble nook forces text to be fully justified left and right, whether the user wants that or not, but it does an atrocious job of producing that justification — among the worst I’ve ever seen on any e-reading device (and I’ve been using such devices for nine years [...]

YouTube video of my ebook reader collection

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

My first-ever YouTube video, recorded Saturday, February 20, 2010: a survey of nine different devices I’ve used over the years to read ebooks. “You’re looking at in aggregate at about $3,000 worth of ebook-reading hardware here, and my own personal use almost nine years now of using devices to read ebooks. I’m an absolute convert [...]

Foxit eSlick: poor line justification

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

I’m getting tired of high-priced ebook readers that are brought to market without anyone who knows anything about book layout and design having vetted the software they use. Have a look at this photo, which shows a Foxit eSlick ebook-reading device displaying a .PDB eReader book from Barnes and Noble’s Fictionwise.com under the new 2.0.1 [...]

The scandalous state of ebooks

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

An email I received this morning from my colleague Jamie Todd Rubin: I ran into the same problem with the Kindle that you reported with the Nook regarding hyphenation. They implement full justification without adherence to any hyphenation rules and that makes some lines look awkward (4 words, widely spaced). The other thing I’ve noticed, [...]

nook suggestion: swap page buttons

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

I sent this suggestion to Barnes and Noble tech support today, and posted it on the nook discussion forum: To my way of thinking, the page-forward and page-backward buttons are in the reverse of where they should be, given the weight and design of the nook. If you hold the nook with your thumbs over [...]

Why the aesthetics of ebooks suck

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

A perfect example of why ebook readers are so crappy at formatting these days: the people who make them don’t even have a rudimentary familiarity with typography. As I observed in my review of the Barnes & Noble nook, the algorithms used to justify text there are atrocious, making for awful-looking pages. The Foxit eSlick [...]

A nook of the north!

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Last weekend, in Chicago, I bought a Barnes & Noble nook ebook reader. Since they’re not for sale in Canada, I probably have one of the very few units in all of Canada now — a nook of the north! (Yes, it was worth the US$259, just to get to make that pun.) My initial [...]

Letter in The Mail on Sunday

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Britain’s The Mail on Sunday (which has a circulation of 2.2 million copies) solicited a Letter to the Editor from me about the forthcoming Apple iPad and its science-fictional precursors. Here’s what I had to say in full; a shorter version appears in today’s (14 February 2010) print edition of the newspaper: Once again, science [...]

Amazon reinstates sales of Macmillan titles

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

After six days of being unavailable for purchase there, paper editions of Macmillan books — including Tor Books such as my novels FlashForward, Hominids, and Rollback — are now back on sale at Amazon.com. Robert J. Sawyer online:Website • Facebook • Twitter • Newsgroup • Email

Hey, Fictionwise! Use this book for your in-house testing!

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Although eReader is a very robust application on Palm OS devices, and the Windows implementation isn’t bad (although the B&N Reader version has lots of bugs, and many features stripped out), other recent implementations have left much to be desired, especially when dealing with complexly formatted ebooks. The Foxit eSlick, as I observed before, can’t [...]

Amazon has not backed down; Times and Post are wrong

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

First The New York Times and now The Washington Post have reported that Amazon gave into Macmillan’s demands, and it’s been flashing all over the web that this is the case for four days now. But check the source. The only reference is to this unsigned anonymous post buried deep on the Amazon.com site; that’s [...]

Amazon vs. Macmillan: increasing jeopardy and rising stakes

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Last week in Montreal, I gave a talk about how one structures a story. I spoke about how the stakes should get higher and higher with each subsequent plot revelation. This weekend, we encountered a perfect real-life example of that structure: First revelation: my books are no longer on sale at Amazon.com (personal jeopardy) Second [...]

eBook pricing

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Scott Westerfeld says it well in his blog: All discussions of [the Amazon/Macmillan war] will draw commenters who think they magically know how books should be priced, and who say there is no reason for electronic editions to be more than $9.99. A quick note to them: You don’t know what you’re talking about. Seriously, [...]

Amazon.com no longer carrying Tor Books

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Holy crap! See this coverage from The New York Times. Tor is the publisher of the current North American editions of my novels Golden Fleece, Far-Seer, Fossil Hunter, Foreigner, End of an Era, Frameshift, Factoring Humanity, FlashForward, Calculating God, Hominids, Humans, Hybrids, Mindscan, and Rollback, all of which are still in print. This really, really [...]

Kindle vs. iPad

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

So different: e-ink vs. backlit LED; dedicated ebook reader vs. multipurpose device. Not sure which one I want — may have to get both! :D Robert J. Sawyer online:Website • Facebook • Twitter • Newsgroup • Email

A great article about ebooks

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

I’ve been trying to find time to write a tirade about the quality failure of most ebook editions (recent travesties in books I’ve bought from commercial publishers: the entire book being centered in one, no indenting or blank space between paragraphs in another) But it doesn’t have to be that blatant to still result in [...]

Amazon’s 70% royalty

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Sounds pretty good — but note that Tor (well, its parent corporation, but Tor has to toe the line) recently cut ebook royalties paid to author to 20% of net proceeds. Which frankly sucks. So, for a $9.99 eBook sold on the Kindle under this new scheme: Tor’s share: $5.60Amazon’s share: $3.00Author’s share: $1.40 Other [...]

More Foxit eSlick / eReader woes

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Trying to read the book The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, purchased from Fictionwise, locks up the Foxit eSlick (a dedicated ebook reader using e-ink technology, sold by Fictionwise and Foxit). You can turn pages until you reach the page with the dedication (page 8 at the default font size in portrait mode), [...]

ECTACO jetBook – Lite firmware apparently fixed

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

It’s gonna be a few days before I have time to play around with doing a firmware upgrade, but over at the ECTACO forum, user JeePea reports that the various problems I and others have reported with the ECTACO jetBook – Lite handling ebooks in eReader format (Fictionwise and Barnes and Noble’s DRM ebook format) [...]