Monday, February 22, 2010

YouTube video of my ebook reader collection

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 to the concept of electronic-book readers. I just hope that we actually get the ideal hardware device, a decent´╗┐ price point, and the ability to share the content [between devices]." -- Robert J. Sawyer
Devices shown and discussed (with the dates I acquired them and the price I paid):
  • October 19, 2001: Handspring Visor Neo (Cdn$299)

  • October 20, 2001: Franklin eBookman 911 (US$229)

  • December 20, 2001: RCA REB 1100 (US$249?)

  • January 22, 2003: Sony Clié PEG-SJ20 (Cdn$269 -- not shown in the video))

  • September 7, 2004: Sony Clié PEG-TH55 (US$259)

  • September 26, 2006: eBookwise 1150 (US$115 with 64MB SmartMedia card)

  • May 3, 2008: iRex iLiad (a gift, list US$699)

  • December 18, 2009: ECTACO jetBook - Lite (U$149)

  • December 19, 2009: Foxit eSlick (US$259)

  • February 13, 2010: Barnes & Noble nook (US$259)
You can watch the video here.
Robert J. Sawyer online:

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Foxit eSlick: poor line justification

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 under the new 2.0.1 build 0205 firmware. The eSlick retails for US$259, the same as the Kindle and the nook.

Every line shows the same error: instead of justification putting an equal amount of space between each word on a line, there is always more space just before the last word on each line.

It's not a LOT of extra space -- but it's enough to be visually irritating. You can clearly see it on this line: "purpose of this book, then, is to educate. It is a."

There is way more space between "is a" than there is between "It is."

Or look at the last line: again, there's way more space between "reality the" than there is between "in reality."

This happens with every eReader DRM format (.PDB) commercial ebook I've tried.

I've already complained to Foxit that there should be an option to turn justification off altogether, but when the device does fully justify lines, it needs to do it properly.

On why users should have the option to turn justification off: One of the big sales points for ebook devices is that they can be used by those who need large print, but the larger the print gets, the worse right justification looks. By forcing it on at all times you take one of the great strengths of ebooks (user-selectable type sizes) and turn it into one of the great weaknesses (aesthetically ugly pages).

Robert J. Sawyer online:

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