Archived entries for e-books

Calibre QuickStart for Kindle

As a followup to last week’s post about the METRO SIG – now it’s even easier to use Calibre to get e-books of any format onto a Kindle. Adding Books to the Kindle With Calibre is a simple and clear guide to using Calibre with a Kindle. No Amazon conversion fees, and all you need is the USB cable and the program. Recommended. Via the always excellent TeleRead.

Further IA e-book news

I attended a meeting of the newly reformed METRO Smartphone & Mobile Computing SIG this week, and at one point I mentioned that Biodiversity Heritage Library books were available in ePub format through the Internet Archive. Someone answered that ePub couldn’t be read on the Kindle. When I answered that they could if converted using Calibre, they said that conversion was too complicated a process for the average library patron. A point which I’m not sure I’m ready to concede. In any case, it’s a moot point, as IA just began offering Mobipocket format as well, the basis for the Kindle’s native format. I’ll post what I find out when I get the Apples of New York in .mobi from the site.

Update: I’ve downloaded Apples of New York, and it appears to be identical to the ePub version, save the introductory cover images. The OCR is broken in exactly the same places.

First BHL e-book experiments

Last week the Internet Archive announced that all their online books were now available in ePub format as well, which meant that the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) books were too. Nice when you get stuff like that for free. Anyway, I went and downloaded one of MPOW’s contributions, a particular favorite of mine, The Apples of New York. Since all of IA’s ebooks are in the open ePub format, they couldn’t be read on my Kindle without first converting it to .azw format – I used Lexcycle’s Stanza for this, but you could as easily use calibre, an open source app which has a multitude of great features. I loaded it on my Kindle, opened a copy of the ePub in the Stanza app on my iPhone, and tried reading it in the Stanza desktop app on a Mac.

Screenshots below:

Stanza desktop:

mac stanza book.jpg

Stanza iPhone:




The books have some problems – there are OCR issues, but for the most part they’re remarkably readable. This is a great development, and makes the BHL material even more accessible, an important part of the consortium’s mission.

Still no E-Z book ripper

Levy: Rip This Book? Not Yet. | Newsweek Voices – Steven Levy |

“Then I tested a BookSnap for myself. Short verdict: not a revolution. More a thud than a snap, the device—an ominous three-foot high construction draped with a thick black darkroom-style shade—looks like a Goth puppet theater and weighs 44 pounds. Under the shade is an angled cradle for a book and a glass platen to hold the pages down during scanning. You turn the pages yourself. It costs $1,600, not including the two Canon digital cameras (about $500 each) necessary to capture the page images and send them to your computer, where software transforms the pictures into files that can be read on a screen or an e-book reader. It takes considerable fiddling to get images set up properly. Supposedly, once you get started you can digitize 500 pages per hour, much faster and at higher quality than with flatbed scanners (which are much cheaper but not optimized for book scanning). I never got that far, but I imagine such a feat would require considerable caffeination.”

It’s almost impossible to sell self-digitization to the iPod generation, because – as Levy points out here – it’s so much more labor-intensive than ripping a CD. Even ripping vinyl albums to MP3 is much easier and can also be started and then run mostly unattended. Scanning a book is a tedious process and you can’t really do anything else (well, maybe rip CDs) while you’re doing it. Atiz is commendably trying to get to an appliance model for book scanners, but the BookSnap isn’t it. You’d really need something along the lines of the Kirtas technology for that.

(Via Digitization 101.)

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