RetroRead Stuff

Cute little feature: you can now select an option in your RetroRead profile to enable your library to be externally visible (e. g.

Here’s a link to mine, careful it’s rather long!

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Google Books and other stuff

Well this week Google did finally launch their ebook venture.

Right now it’s a bit of a yawn although I’m relieved to see that it is not just about the cloud (Amazon’s announcement of web reader is sort of “me too” but gives them more or less equal rights in having your books “in the cloud”). So you can have Google books on all kinds of clients (Android, iPhone, Nook, Sony) EXCEPT Kindle, and likewise, you can have Amazon on all kinds of clients except other e-ink readers (Nook and Sony). Seems, I think, that this leaves Amazon way out in front for now. It’s not clear at the moment that Google is adding anything (much) to the party, other than of course their ponderous weight — although apparently with Google you can search inside of the books (to find them) although no preview snippets were available (searching ‘ikea magazine blomkvist’ quickly yielding Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is not the case with an Amazon search — Amazon I think would do well to take notice. is now screen with links to the store or search of the classic “” — a radical de-positioning it seems of the free scanned stuff.

Unsurprisingly, they are using epub format and Adobe’s DRM.

I did buy a book and downloaded the iPhone reader, which I thought was pretty immature, but should get there.

Meanwhile, speaking of Nook, I bought one when they came out a year ago and was unimpressed. My wife uses it (she likes it well enough) and last night I noticed that the software has silently revved a lot and took a quick look at their beta web browser, which on first glance I thought was quite impressive. It does a hi-resolution render of the page image AND renders a “window” on the color touch screen that lets you “roll over” the page and see it rendered in color! Kind of cool, finally using the color screen for something interesting. Not sure ultimately how usable it is, but bears further examination.

Finally, got a nice note from a blogger who includes RetroRead on his list of “10 Kindle websites, apps & goodies you can’t live without“. Thanks!

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More Preview Content ..

In line with the new browsability by title, the detail page for any title (follow the link from either the latest listing or browse by title) now includes an excerpt from the first few pages of the book; so if you are just browsing through the site you can get a flavor of each book.

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New ways to browse RetroRead / Mostly about searchability

… not really that exciting for most folks probably, but every title in the RetroRead library now has a “permalink” url formed from the title and author; and there is now an alphabetical index of titles, so search engines can “crawl” through to every title. Navigation is perhaps a bit funky — right now you can only get to it from the “latest” listing page (makes some sense there). Also, some really interesting problems with titles with accented characters in them … so these links are broken. Will fix soon, but meanwhile, have it more or less sorted out.

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BLTC Sales doings

Well, the absolutely wild sale of the BLTC Press Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is down from its 500/month peak, but still puttering along nicely … meanwhile our updated Alice edition is moving along quite nicely, thanks to some nice reviews and a generous discount from Amazon ($2.99 list, $1.99 discounted).

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Bringing it all back home

Print and ebooks go together — someday, when I purchase a print book at the bookstore, the clerk will ask “oh, and would you like the ebook with that too? It’s only another 15%.” If I say yes, it will update through my store loyalty program, and I’ll receive the ebook in my reader library.

… Meanwhile, we can now offer the reverse at RetroRead: when you download your (free) converted ebook for the Kindle, you can also quickly add a print copy, if one is found. Every day, we update our library and if we can find a copy of a title in the inventory of used and rare book online merchant Alibris, we make a note of this and add a link to the title next to the download link.

I’m not in love with the layout (maybe too busy), but I do think the feature is neat. Plus, through our participation in the Alibris affiliate network, your purchases help the free service at RetroRead.

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Thoughts on the things Google

Always of interest as Google Books is of course the source of content for RetroRead. Some random observations: I just caught up with the fact that one of the driving forces behind the Google book project, Daniel Clancy, has apparently moved on to a focus at YouTube, although will remain involved in high-impact decisions with the project. Meanwhile, the settlement seems more or less out of the news and also noticing that ‘Google Editions’ — announced as in the works as early as last January — still haven’t materialized.

And this week, estimates are published that the ebook market is expected to break $1 billion in 2011. If something close to 90% of that isn’t going though Amazon I’d be more or less amazed. It seems that with the focus on the settlement and its cloud-centric view of epubs, Amazon has more than stolen a march on Google and it is hard to see where they will go. The origins of Google’s ebook efforts pre-date the advent of e-ink readers, and this reader, at any rate, can’t imagine why anyone would want to buy a book they can’t have wherever they go and in a readable format. And the cloud isn’t everywhere.

What is Google’s best destiny in the ebook world? Certainly, everything wants to be searchable; beyond that I think they are going to have to think very out of the box if they (or anyone) is going to pry Amazon’s domination away.

Not that it isn’t possible: there are many forces at work conspiring against Amazon, but so far they are riding the crest of the wave. And Google has plenty of leverage, but they will need to take it to the e-ink readers “in anger” because that is where the game is. Android could be a factor here.

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Nice notice for RetroRead in Wired

See How to do (Almost) Everything With a Kindle for a nice plug for RetroRead in Wired’s “Gadget Lab” — nice spike in traffic day after posting!

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Reintroducting GoodMountain Books

A while ago I launched a series of public domain titles under the imprint “GoodMountain Books”. The content was all sourced from Project Gutenberg and the Gutenberg trademark is used to identify them. They are meant to be higher quality renditions of the titles broadly available through Amazon, often with generally inferior formatting and other production quality issues.

Anyway, the series has more or less languished with too agressive pricing amid the glut of free and $0.99 editions … so, if you can’t beat them, join them. Introducing GoodMountain Press editions for $0.99! (As soon as Amazon can update the prices, that is)(Search for them here). BTW, Project Gutenberg gets a 10% royalty on my cut from Amazon.

BTW, “Gutenberg” is German for “Good Mountain!”

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… the ssl cert for failed to renew resulting in “untrusted site” errors on login for last two days — fixed.

Also, Henry von Ofterdingen still not published…

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