bit-tech.net

Waterstone's making own eBook reader

Waterstone's making own eBook reader

Is Amazon's Kindle under threat?

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme, the managing director of Waterstone’s, James Daunt, has revealed the company's plans to design and sell its own eBook reader.

According to the BBC, Daunt said: ‘We in Waterstone's need to offer you a digital reader which is at least as good, and preferably substantially better, than that of our internet rival, and you will have a much better buying experience purchasing your books through us.

However, the move isn't a complete surprise, given that Waterstone’s has sold eBook readers from Sony and other manufacturers for a while, and you can also buy eBooks from the Waterstone’s site. The decision makes sense from a business perspective too, given that Amazon is now selling more eBooks for its Kindle device than physical books.

According to Daunt, the Waterstone’s eBook reader is ‘well down the planning line’ and due for release in spring next year. In the meantime, rumours abound that Amazon is developing a new colour tablet Kindle device with a capacitive touchscreen, although apparently the company isn't planning to develop any new e-ink displays until next year.

Do you have an eBook reader? Is this too little late from Waterstone’s? Let us know in the forum.

30 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
longweight 9th September 2011, 13:57 Quote
Good luck with that.
r3loaded 9th September 2011, 14:04 Quote
I do want an eBook reader, but I'm not prepared to buy eBooks until they come without DRM. Until then, dead tree wins out for me.
GuilleAcoustic 9th September 2011, 14:15 Quote
I'm waiting for eBooks to be cheaper than printed books. Except tree saving, I see no point in buying eBooks right now. It is less confy, has no appeal and cost the same price than books.
Pieface 9th September 2011, 14:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuilleAcoustic
I'm waiting for eBooks to be cheaper than printed books. Except tree saving, I see no point in buying eBooks right now. It is less confy, has no appeal and cost the same price than books.

Each to their own, I find ebooks more comfortable to read, especially as if you're lying down and in a comfortable position you don't have to fidget to change a page, and instead just press a button.
TheStockBroker 9th September 2011, 14:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
I do want an eBook reader, but I'm not prepared to buy eBooks until they come without DRM. Until then, dead tree wins out for me.

What's the problem with DRM on eBooks?

TSB
GuilleAcoustic 9th September 2011, 14:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pieface
Each to their own, I find ebooks more comfortable to read, especially as if you're lying down and in a comfortable position you don't have to fidget to change a page, and instead just press a button.

In that case ok, but the smell, the feeling when touching the paper ... plus I'm mainly bying "technical" books and I need to be able to look at more than one page at the same time or having more than one book opened. It only involves me, but eBook will never replace book. They are another medium, but are worse.

An example, I've started to read the discworld books in pocket edition and then switched to a 3 time more expansive edition printed on higher quality paper. Trust me or not, but the reading experience is really improved.
r3loaded 9th September 2011, 14:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheStockBroker
What's the problem with DRM on eBooks?

TSB
Several of them, that you don't experience with ordinary books. Amazon sell plenty of eBooks, but you're tied into using their device (which incidentally does not play well with other stores which use Adobe DRM with ePub). You can't return them or sell them on, nor can you borrow eBooks for free from your local library. There's the possibility that the software goes belly-up and locks you out of your own books. Linux support is practically nil.

Oh, and there's the fact that music is sold DRM-free and online sales are doing really well, despite the fact that music is much easier to copy than books.
Furymouse 9th September 2011, 16:31 Quote
I love my nook. The local libraries have ebook lending and most everything I want to read is available on Project Gutenberg so I'm set.
MrJay 9th September 2011, 16:34 Quote
I love my Kindle, would be good to see a bit of comitition in the market, DRM free would also be a plus.

And for the whole physical book vs digatal / real books are cheaper...50% of the books i have on my kindle are out of print with only a few first editions knocking about, yes they would be nice to own but i dont have thousands pounds : )
Grimloon 9th September 2011, 16:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
Several of them, that you don't experience with ordinary books. Amazon sell plenty of eBooks, but you're tied into using their device

Nope, Kindle app for PC/iPhone/iPad/Android allows you to read them perfectly fine on other devices. No restriction on how many copies you have or what devices they are on, only that you can't give it to someone else or sell it on.
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
(which incidentally does not play well with other stores which use Adobe DRM with ePub). You can't return them or sell them on, nor can you borrow eBooks for free from your local library.

There's no such scheme available from my library and I don't want time bomb infused DRM copies of software on my device anyway.
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
There's the possibility that the software goes belly-up and locks you out of your own books.

There's the possibility that my house catches fire and all 1,500+ of my paper books go up in flames. I take appropriate precautions for each situation - backups for the former, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers for the latter. Common sense applies to both.
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
Linux support is practically nil.

Twas ever thus. Why are you surprised?
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
Oh, and there's the fact that music is sold DRM-free and online sales are doing really well, despite the fact that music is much easier to copy than books.

Frequently by Amazon and the Kindle format doesn't have any active form of DRM.

This isn't meant as a dig or flame but you do appear to have a few misconceptions where the format and device are concerned.
edzieba 9th September 2011, 17:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimloon
Nope, Kindle app for PC/iPhone/iPad/Android allows you to read them perfectly fine on other devices.
Only devices that run the Kindle app. Yes, that is an issue: anyone remember Real Player? Imagine if you bought a DVD that would only play in real player? Not a great prospect.
Additionally, the Kindle app may do all you want it to do, but if you're used to a program that does more, or need the program to do something specific, you're SOL.
Quote:
There's the possibility that my house catches fire and all 1,500+ of my paper books go up in flames. I take appropriate precautions for each situation - backups for the former, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers for the latter. Common sense applies to both.
Except your backups of DRMed files are often non-functional. For the Kindle DRM specifically, the file needs to be signed to the device you read it on. You buy a new kindle, and your DRMed backups no longer work on it unless you can connect to a remote server. Server goes, your books are gone.
r3loaded 9th September 2011, 17:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimloon
Nope, Kindle app for PC/iPhone/iPad/Android allows you to read them perfectly fine on other devices. No restriction on how many copies you have or what devices they are on, only that you can't give it to someone else or sell it on.
I meant for other eBook readers like the Sony ones - if I buy one I don't think there's any way to read Kindle eBooks on it. In turn, I don't think the Kindle can read ePub books, particularly DRM-protected files.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimloon
There's the possibility that my house catches fire and all 1,500+ of my paper books go up in flames. I take appropriate precautions for each situation - backups for the former, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers for the latter. Common sense applies to both.
Good point but insurance covers that! ;) The thing with DRM is that unlike a potential fire, you can't take any step to mitigate it. You're pretty much at the mercy of the provider, and if they're not interested in helping you, you'll have to delve into cracking tools. All this just to read a book!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimloon
Frequently by Amazon and the Kindle format doesn't have any active form of DRM.
Really? Everything I've read about it seemed to imply a DRM lock-in on all books. Is there any way to tell whether a particular book on Amazon has DRM or not?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grimloon
This isn't meant as a dig or flame but you do appear to have a few misconceptions where the format and device are concerned.
The industry isn't really helping a lot with dispelling these misconceptions. They just rather you didn't ask questions and buy their stuff already. :p
Grimloon 9th September 2011, 18:13 Quote
AFAIK the Kindle format is only locked to the device if you download directly to it from the Kindle store. Otherwise you can pull the file down to your PC and there is no active DRM on it. As long as you can read the format you can move the file to another device.

ePub is not supported on the Kindle, nor is lit but mobi definitely is. Pretty much every site I've bought books from offers the mobi format which is what I choose by preference. Much easier as it'll work on PC, Kindle or mobile if required.

And r3loaded, insurance would definitely NOT cover some of my books - the first editions, signed copies from authors no longer with us and those that have been out of print for over 20 years aren't something I can easily replace. Not a chance I'm prepared to take!
mrbens 9th September 2011, 18:49 Quote
The title of this news story says Watersone.
longweight 9th September 2011, 18:54 Quote
Meh ebooks have their place, yes DRM is a bit restrictive but hey ho.

Things will change with time.
Cei 9th September 2011, 19:09 Quote
I own a Kindle, and it's good for novels, but I'm finding way too many typos in the text. In addition I really want:

- Colour e-Ink screen
- Large screen, such as the Kindle DX, which allows...
- Medical textbooks! Not gimped copies, but the full thing
azazel1024 9th September 2011, 20:51 Quote
Yeah my semi-issue is DRM as well with buying eBooks. If it was a standard DRM across the industry, I'd have no issues. However, since if I buy a kindle book it isn't portable to other formats, an iTunes book isn't portable to anything non-Apple, Sony uses Adobe eBook DRM which is mostly just a Sony used thing (I think Kobie uses it as well), Borders Nook like uses their own DRM, etc.

Though, the Kindle will read non-DRM'd .mobi files and the others AFAIK will all read non-DRM'd ePub files. There are a handful of publishers who you can purchase non-DRM'd eBooks (Baen books line of eBooks I think are all non-DRM'd which is nice at least the couple I have bought from them don't seem to have DRM)

I have plenty of eBooks for my iPad

If it is a format issue, download Calibre ebook software. It is an ebook content manager, has a webserver to host your books on for your devices (I don't feel like storing all 6-7GB of books (mostly PDFs, some of which are books) in my iPad and sometimes I don't want to have to turn my computer on and synch to iTunes, I just hit wake-on-lan to my file server, open the webpage hosted on the file server through calibre and pull down the book) and it'll convert from just about any eBook format to any other format. It does an excellent job between mobi, epub, lit and topaz files. A decent job also coverting any of those to PDF. So-so at best from PDF in to a real ebook format, especially if there are any graphics, but meh.

Most Kindle books I've seen downloaded to a PC are DRM'd and looked to the kindle/kindle reader app. I plan on getting a nook touch at some point for a dedicated ereader, but I hate the nook app on my iPad, I like iBooks a hell of a lot more.

Just my 2 cents, I think non-standardized DRM, and to a lesser degree formats, is hurting the eBook industry to at least some degree on top of a price structure that is built around hard copy format prices as well (an eBook version SHOULD be cheaper than a paperback, at least at the time the paperback comes out. I can see an initial release where the eBook is slightly cheaper than the hardcover and then once the paperback comes out the eBook is somewhat cheaper than the paperback, but I refuse to pay more for an eBook than a paperback, and that is the case with 98% of the stuff I've seen or am interested in).
supermonkey 9th September 2011, 21:47 Quote
I thoroughly enjoy my Kindle. I was skeptical at first, but after my parents bought me one for Christmas I decided I may as well give it an honest try. I find I'm reading more now than I did before, partly due to the sheer convenience of carrying around my books wherever I go.

Certainly I don't think it's crucial to be able to read any book I own at any time, but for me the convenience is the ability to carry large books in such a small portable format. The two things that annoy me are the lack of Kindle support from my local library (though Amazon states this is coming in "late 2011") and the ability to loan books to my wife (and her to me). Although the Kindle technically supports the capability to loan books, Amazon place the ultimate decision with the publisher. Therefore, most of the popular books are restricted and can't be loaned. My parents worked around this by connecting both of their Kindles to a single account. That way either one of them can read anything the other one purchases. That method only works because both of the devices are tied to the same credit card, so it doesn't really help in the case of friends who want to share books, but there you go.
loftie 9th September 2011, 23:42 Quote
I want a colour ebook reader :( The one by the chinese company, can't remember it's name, looked good, but the colours need to improved.

And i dont mean an lcd screen. :P
Instagib 10th September 2011, 00:09 Quote
I love my Kindle. And to be honest, the DRM really doesn't bother me. I only own a Kindle, so i'm not fussed about not being able to read my ebooks on the iPad i don't own. I'm not going to read them on my phone, and nor am i going to read books on my pc.

I recently had to send my Kindle back to John Lewis who replaced it for me. Not a problem recovering my books; just go online, de-register my old one, register my new one, and re-send my books. Next, hook it up to the wireless network and it goes about receiving all the books. Simples.

That's why i love it; it's just so easy. The e-ink is great. It looks almost fake when you see it at first; as if it's a display unit that's had the text printed on it but you get used to it. The battery life is impressive also.
Guinevere 10th September 2011, 01:40 Quote
Good work Waterstones. Like the world calling out for another under powered android tablet running a "My first UI" skin and sporting a half-baked "also ran" app-store.
SubtleOne 10th September 2011, 02:16 Quote
I hate to break this to you, but they are NOT selling more ebooks than physical books and that is a GROSS misinterpretation. The ebook category includes all types of literature from self-help to science-fiction all put together, and as a single category it outsells the physical category of science fiction, and the physical category of self-help, but not all the physical books lumped together.
uz1_l0v3r 10th September 2011, 02:36 Quote
I've had a Kindle since Christmas and it's one of the best things I've ever bought. I still read just as many paper books, but now I have quick and easy access to thousands of classic. I'm reading Catch 22 at the moment which I downloaded as a free PDF from the web, then converted to .mobi format for the Kindle. I also have got loads of the free books that Amazon provides. So far I've only bought one e-book and that was because it was going for a quid, and the paper book was a fiver.
jimmyjj 10th September 2011, 10:01 Quote
I am not a Luddite (far from it I built my own rig) - but to me there is something sacred about paper books.

The smell of a new book takes me back to the smell of opening a new book as a kid, or the smell of opening a new board game - like Space Hulk. Still gives me a tingle.

When they can recreate that on an e-book then we shall see...
do_it_anyway 10th September 2011, 10:03 Quote
I'm buying a second kindle for my wife. I can go into my account and send all the books I own to her kindle. That way we can both read the same book at the same time. In fact I believe you can have it on as many devices as you like, but that book can only be read concurrently on 4 devices. So I can have the book available to read from my PC, phone and 2 kindles all at the same time. Thats brill.
Couldn't do that with a dead tree book.
There is DRM involved, but not intrusive. The only thing it reallly interferes with is the ability to "share" books with other people.

In answer to borrowing books, in the US they are doing a library borrowing scheme and I believe its coming over here too. So that argument is invalid. And I heard rumour that you WILL be able to lend books, but they will be deleted from the other persons Kindle after 30 days. So tahts good too.

Back on topic. Waterstones will have to release someting special to compete with the Kindle. There are not many things that it doesn't do, and there can't be many people thinking " I'm not buying an e-reader until they fix........"
This has the making of a similar story to Sony releasing an MP3 player that would beat the ipod. It just didn't. Commercially anyway.


Edit: Actually, just thought of one thing that waterstones could do to improve of the Kindle (although its only a software/server thing). Browsing and buying books in the kindle store is nowhere near as much fun as being in a book shop. In a shop your eyes are drawn to books; you see the size, the front cover, the description/synopsis on the back etc and often walk out with a book you'd never heard of but sounds great.
On the Kindle its hard to get drawn to something you don't know. I frequently find myself in book shops looking for inspiration on what to get for my Kindle. It should be that the Kindle store gives me inspiration. If Waterstones improve the stores front end, they may do well.
PCBuilderSven 10th September 2011, 11:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
Linux support is practically nil.

Calibre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calibre_(software), http://calibre-ebook.com/).

It has support for Linux, Windows and Mac OSX

It supports reading of (and converting to other formats of): CBZ, CBR, CBC, CHM, EPUB, FB2, HTML, LIT, LRF, MOBI, ODT, PDB, PDF, PML, PRC^, RB, RTF, TCR, TXT.

Aswell as these it supports cataloging (but not viewing) of: AZW, AZW1, IMP, LRX, OEBZIP, OPF, PDB, PMLZ, RAR, SNB, TPZ and ZIP.

It supports syncing to the:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia
Sony PRS 300/500/505/600/650/700/900, Cybook Gen 3, BeBook (mini), Amazon Kindle (1, 2 (international and DX), and 3), Kobo, iPhone (with iBooks (via iTunes or ePub download) or Lexcycle Stanza reader software), Palm Pre, Entourage Edge, Longshine Shinebook, Ectaco Jetbook, Irex Illiad/DR1000, Foxit eSlick, PocketBook 360, Itallica, eClicto, Iriver Story, Airis dBook, Teclast K3, SpringDesign Alex, Hanvon N515, Binatone Readme, and Android phones (with the WordPlayer reader software) and both Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7 phones using the Freda reader software.
longweight 10th September 2011, 17:46 Quote
Waterstones will also have to compete on price, something they have never been able to do with real books either in store or online in my experience.
wst 11th September 2011, 16:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by do_it_anyway

Edit: Actually, just thought of one thing that waterstones could do to improve of the Kindle (although its only a software/server thing). Browsing and buying books in the kindle store is nowhere near as much fun as being in a book shop. In a shop your eyes are drawn to books; you see the size, the front cover, the description/synopsis on the back etc and often walk out with a book you'd never heard of but sounds great.
On the Kindle its hard to get drawn to something you don't know. I frequently find myself in book shops looking for inspiration on what to get for my Kindle. It should be that the Kindle store gives me inspiration. If Waterstones improve the stores front end, they may do well.
A barcode scanner shouldn't be hard to build into the waterstone's device. Look around the shop, see a book you like the look of, scan it, buy it, put the book back on the shelf. It'd also let you get digital versions of your books at home for if you want to go travelling light. Just get the book out of your bookcase, scan it, buy it!
longweight 11th September 2011, 16:47 Quote
Waterstones could give you a free digital version of each physical book you buy so that if you did want to take some away on holiday you could read some of your old books on the reader for no extra cost.
Burnout21 12th September 2011, 12:33 Quote
love my kindles, yes kindles. I have one and the other half has one. we swap once in a while less hassle.

I wasn't loving the idea of an ebook until i picked up a kindle and played with one and could see the possibilities. few days latter i purchased the 3G version incase i didn't like it, i could sell it on after.

Love it, books could be cheaper but access to free classics which would have otherwise be purchased means i kinda win.

Soon to start the Charles Stross series. :)
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums