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back to article Adobe captures ebook standard. What now?

Among the charming aspects of the fledgling electronic book industry is the way very large corporations can skirt ethical boundaries in the field - yet not make much money. Adobe Systems, the company whose EULA prohibited reading Alice in Wonderland aloud, and an outfit that once arrested a Russian programmer for pointing out …

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Have you seen the prices at MobiPocket?

It's f'king insulting.

Amazon Paperback: $8

Amazon Nardcover: $16

MobiPocket eBook $20+

Sadder still there must be muppets out there that think this is a good deal or they wouldn't be trading, the same muppets that click on spam and buy ringles no doubt.

The Golgafrinchans had the right idea.

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Anonymous Coward

When?

I just want to know when a little truth will be told. None of these so called "readers" actually reads anything. They should be called e-book displayers or viewers because they don't actually read the book only the file and display the text on the screen.

That isn't to say they couldn't make a reader but the current state of the art in synthesized voices is poor at best. They need to be able to handle tone and inflection, especially if handling a Chinese text, in order to get the full meaning across. Maybe it could be adjustable with the equivalent of a simple bass / treble knob on the cheap units and an equilizer on the high end kit.

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Kindle....ing

Amazon's ebook erm displayer, will retail at about 400-500 dollars, my archos 404 displays pdf's, plays divx/xvid/mpg movies, mp3/wma music, displays pictures has a 20 Gb hard drive all for 155 dollars, amazon's on a hiding to nothing on this one.

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-Seen the prices at mobipocket? part 2...

Mobipocket $21.95

http://mobipocket.com/en/eBooks/BookDetails.asp?BookID=48403

Sony ebook at Connect store R7.99

http://ebooks.connect.com/product/400/000/000/000/000/035/179/400000000000000035179.html

hmmmm....

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the future

i sincerely believe eBooks & ebook readers are the way forward especially in the world of education.

I've seen (and briefly used) a sony reader and i'm very very impressed by it - you actually forget that you're holding something electronic and think you're reading a paper book - something that is simply not possible on a clunky notebook or a small-screen PDA

I'd like to give my kid an eBook and have him go to school with that instead of him lugging 20 books / day - thats just nasty

BUT its still early - sony sells for 300+ and Amazon for 400+ (when it eventually is released) and books are expensive too.

Once it gets going and becomes mainstream prices should go down a bit

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Anonymous Coward

They just can't help themselves

I'm actually a great fan of the technology. It's got to a point where you can comfortably read a book on an electronic device and carry a library in your bag.

The trouble is it's just like to music industry. The media owners just can't seem to stop themselves ripping off the consumer. eBooks cut out all the publishing and distribution costs. This should make them much much cheaper, but no. eBooks cost similar money to the good old fashioned paper version. They are priced by what the greedy companies think the market will bear and they have got it spectacularly wrong. This is the reason they have not gone mainstream.

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You mean people pay for Mobipocket titles?

I have Mobipocket Reader on my phone and enough free books from manybooks.net to keep me occupied for a good while. As a highly trained Yorkshireman, I certainly wouldn't buy an electronic text for £10 if I could buy the paperback for a fiver.

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@ jubtastic1

You seem to forget where they landed ... which is exactly why we are in that situation right now. As for the rest of the Golgafrinchans... they died out from something they contracted from an unsanitised phone ...

so count your blessings :p

anyway it is indeed outrageous. yet another ebook format. ah well, there's always iSilo ...

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Speech Synthesis

Adobe reader has support for the use of SAPI for synthesised text output, provided the book/PDF exposes the textual data and grants the right (say, could that be what Adobe means by "Permission to read aloud"?). For publishers paranoid about text copying, we - the blind users - have a little war to wage against the publishers, whilst the screen reader vendors work with Adobe to make the reader work just well enough to be usable. Oh, the joys; the unadulterated pleasures of it all.

Speech synthesis, I think, is something you get used to. I'm blind and use it all the time, and I've heard pretty much all synthetic variations from the 30s onward. Perhaps, rather than using concatenated elements, you should look into formant-based synthesis by rule? It's more unnatural (more computer-sounding), but much more agreeably consistent. The inflection is really there, carried by punctuation, and the synthesisers do their best to make things sound smoothe and responsive. ScanSoft now owns most of the best commercial synthesisers. There's a heavy license tag on them, though, for use by licensees who, in the AT market, rub a bit off on the end-victim. Then there's Fonix, whose latest generation is a mix using samples and DSP for a minimal footprint - a runtime for Linux can be had at $30. Open Source is available, quite good in cases and mostly in the by-rule category. Festival, which uses diphones and sounds not bad-ish, was once truely open; it seems to have become dubiously licensed since. But ESpeak, FreeTTS and Flite are still in evidence, and have their approvers (flite being, in essence, a fast-performing festival - until recently, anyway).

Human-sounding? Try http://www.nextup.com/ for all that's best in synthesis for use by the easily-impressed great unwashed. Go on, surprise yourselves. You'll pay for your sin with large disk space requirements.

I've read Project Gutenberg (I *love* Project Gutenberg! Check them out at gutenberg.org ) from Shakespeare through JKJ through Crompton using TTS. I think I've been most impressed by ScanSoft Elloquence's rendition of As You Like It. It's just amazing. And beautiful. Synthesisers that make you concentrate too hard on their output (I.E., those not blessed with very intelligent exception dictionaries, grammatical processing and with huge gobs of diaphone data at high-quality rates using a less-than-average blessing of emphasis rules for a big bite of CPU) are just hideous to use for anything serious. These are, I think, what you really want in a narrator for your EBook though, and what humans not needing synthesis in an assistive market think of as somehow necessary. It isn't that you don't need a better synthesiser, it's just that you're already hard-put-on to get anything more human-sounding onto your desktop computer. Surprising though how many people can listen to and learn Elloquence (rule-based) in little more than a few minutes before understanding it flawlessly, clearly and consistently. Hmm. If you can take the stereotypical robot-sounding voice, you'll soon master it and love the privileges it brings you.

Cheers,

Sabahattin

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