Wednesday Links: 12-09-09

I’m only recently back in the country, so this might be a bit strange since I’ve been out of the loop for two months. In any case, here’s some news about books and ebooks from around the web:

  • The Barnes & Noble Nook: We’ve learned a few things from the “nook,” primarily that nobody takes it seriously when you try to uncapitalize your product’s name (and, really, it does look silly). We’ve also learned that people love love love to talk about which gadgets are going to “kill” other gadgets. So is the Nook a Kindle-killer? I could care less; there’s room for more than one device. In reality, the Nook and the Kindle are roughly 95% identical. The Nook has the touchscreen interface, which Engadget says isn’t all that hot, while Gizmodo likes it despite the interface hiccups. CNET says the perks (like lending books to friends) make it a worthwhile device. The big difference in my eyes is that the Nook does Adobe ePub, which means library ebooks, though I’m guessing they won’t work over wireless. We’ve also learned that Amazon isn’t the only one who has trouble filling ereader orders. Oh, and also… remember Borders? I’d say they have about 2 years of financial solvency left. It’s going to be like a brontosaurus dying.
  • Something called Opium, which is evidently a funny lit mag, has launched an iPhone app. Sounds promising; their interview about it was pretty funny. They publish quick stories and daily content—so far, no word on price.
  • Canada’s version of the RIAA, the CRIA, has been viciously hoisted by their own petard. For decades, they’ve been using songs for anthologies without compensating the artists, roughly 300,000 times. That’s piracy! In fact, it’s worse than piracy, because they’ve been profiting on their theft. Now they’re getting sued for $20,000 per song (actually a deal compared to the RIAA’s $80K per)—that works out to $6 billion. Ouch. And, ha ha.
  • Sony’s proprietary BBeB format is dead as of Friday. They’re adopting ePub as planned, meaninglessly rebranding their “eBook Store” to be the “Reader Store,” and rolling out a new 3.1 version of their desktop software. Which was necessary. Very necessary. I’ll give 3.1 a shot and let you know how it goes. Next on Sony’s docket: the Reader Daily Edition, with wireless. Something tells me it might be a Kindle-killer…
  • It’s the end of the year, so everybody’s doing best book lists, including us (you can keep track of our Best Books of 2009 series here). Sam Jordison at the Guardian’s books blog has a different take: here’s his hilarious post about the worst books of the decade. It’s good therapy, Dan Brown has a starring role—seriously, 80,000,000 readers?
  • Random of the week: “Mark the Spot” is an official AT&T iPhone app that lets customers tell AT&T where their coverage is thin, and detail specifically how they suck (dropped call, etc.). I’m guessing Mark the Spot won’t be making a cameo on those Luke Wilson commercials anytime soon. Pretty hilarious.

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