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If we're not in pain, we're not alive

You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website], the long-delayed "sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Aug 25, 2014 - 72 comments

What's not to like?

46 Photography eBooks to download for free. Among the free resources compiled by LS are National Geographic‘s “Ultimate Field Guide to Photography,” Strobist‘s “Lighting 101,” Adorama‘s “Guide to Lighting” and many many more.
posted by spock on Aug 15, 2014 - 12 comments

Amazon vs. Hachette, an Epic Battle Faught with Letters and Addresses

Best Selling author Douglas Preston, along with 907 other authors, signed a letter that ran as a double full-page ad in yesterday’s print edition of the New York Times, asking Amazon to stop blocking or delaying the sale of books on their site as a tactic to lower the e-book prices that Amazon is charged by the publisher Hachette.* The three month dispute between Hachette and Amazon previously prompted a response by Amazon’s self-published authors and readers, but it took an odd turn Saturday night when Amazon posted this letter on a site called ReadersUnited.com, after sending it as an email to all of its Kindle Direct Publishing authors. In that letter they include Hachette’s CEO’s email, and have asked their KDP authors to write to Hachette’s CEO telling him what they think about cheaper ebooks. [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Aug 11, 2014 - 145 comments

Virtual tip jars and tours: digital-age music outreach and fan support

There are numerous ways that bands reach out to potential and current fans, and you can add a few more to the list with Noisetrade, Stageit and Concert Window. Noisetrade allows artists and bands to give away music, like a few tracks and covers from Dr. Dog and Saint Rich, to the whole First Album Live from They Might Be Giants, and now e/audio books, too, in trade for an email address and zip code. If you prefer live music, Stageit and Concert Window allow fans to watch unrecorded, streaming shows from bands anywhere in the world, for whatever price fans see fit. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 9, 2014 - 4 comments

That’s technology for you, always making an ass out of someone.

Sarah Wendall, of the romance book blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, discovers a disturbing quirk of optical character recognition used to digitize older texts: the word "arms" is converted to "anus". [more inside]
posted by almostmanda on Jul 7, 2014 - 77 comments

"I can keep it on my bookshelf without worry of remote recall."

"E-book backup is a physical, tangible, human readable copy of an electronically stored novel. The purchased contents of an e-book reader were easily photocopied and clip-bound to create a shelf-stable backup for the benefit of me, the book consumer." [more inside]
posted by jessamyn on Jul 1, 2014 - 31 comments

Routledge Gives Free Access to 6,000 eBooks

After digitizing over 15,000 books, Routledge has made 6,000 of these e-texts free for viewing during the month of June.
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jun 27, 2014 - 8 comments

Your tax dollars at work

The book on Wood-Frame House Construction (with diagrams) is brought to you by the USDA Forest Service. Here is the full online index of USDA Agriculture Handbooks. They're public domain. [more inside]
posted by aniola on Dec 14, 2013 - 15 comments

Always a Borrower or a Lender Be

"Douglas County Model" gives libraries new e-book leverage — The public library system in Douglas County, where bedroom suburbs rub shoulders with century-old ranches, might seem an unlikely game-changer in the world of publishing. But the county's innovative e-book lending platform, which aims to flip the dynamic between publishers and libraries, is giving hope to cash-strapped libraries from Alaska to Australia that they'll be able to offer more electronic material to users, for less money. From The Denver Post, 11/21/2013.
posted by cenoxo on Nov 22, 2013 - 14 comments

Should a six-year-old be permitted to read Robert Caro?

The Perils of Precocity by Thomas Beller.
posted by xowie on Nov 1, 2013 - 59 comments

Preservation or facilitation?

A bookless library opens in San Antonio. But is it really a library? Yes it is.
posted by Potomac Avenue on Oct 7, 2013 - 52 comments

18 Books Ernest Hemingway Wished He Could Read Again for the First Time.

18 Books Ernest Hemingway Wished He Could Read Again for the First Time. "I would rather read again for the first time Anna Karenina, Far Away and Long Ago, Buddenbrooks, Wuthering Heights, Madame Bovary, War and Peace, A Sportsman's Sketches, The Brothers Karamazov, Hail and Farewell, Huckleberry Finn, Winesburg, Ohio, La Reine Margot, La Maison Tellier, Le Rouge et le Noire, La Chartreuse de Parme, Dubliners, Yeat's Autobiographies and a few others than have an assured income of a million dollars a year."
posted by paleyellowwithorange on Sep 23, 2013 - 24 comments

"[Amazon's] alleged violation of antitrust laws is not an excuse..."

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote has found that Apple conspired with publishers to fix the prices of ebooks. Publishers Weekly describes Apple's defeat as "a major blow". Writing before the ruling, Roger Parloff at Fortune Tech delved into Apple's "agency model" for ebook sales and noted that Amazon's business model is "the missing piece... of this jigsaw puzzle". Philip Elmer-Dewitt reviews Judge Cote's findings. (Review the decision and other trial information yourself here.) Michael Clarke at Scholarly Kitchen explains why he considers this a loss for the public.
posted by Going To Maine on Jul 11, 2013 - 49 comments

"Publishing is tremendously susceptible to the availability heuristic"

What Is the Business of Literature?
Publishing is a word that, like the book, is almost but not quite a proxy for the “business of literature.” Current accounts of publishing have the industry about as imperiled as the book, and the presumption is that if we lose publishing, we lose good books. Yet what we have right now is a system that produces great literature in spite of itself. We have come to believe that the taste-making, genius-discerning editorial activity attached to the selection, packaging, printing, and distribution of books to retailers is central to the value of literature. We believe it protects us from the shameful indulgence of too many books by insisting on a rigorous, abstemious diet. Critiques of publishing often focus on its corporate or capitalist nature, arguing that the profit motive retards decisions that would otherwise be based on pure literary merit. But capitalism per se and the market forces that both animate and pre-suppose it aren’t the problem. They are, in fact, what brought literature and the author into being.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 27, 2013 - 62 comments

For eccentric book-lovers with beards and cats

"..it is refreshing to see Jason Merkoski, a leader of the team that built Amazon's first Kindle, dispense with the usual techo-utopianism and say, “I think we’ve made a proverbial pact with the devil in digitizing our words.” [more inside]
posted by stbalbach on Apr 9, 2013 - 90 comments

All this energy calling me, back where it comes from....

The Cleveland Memory Project is an archive of photos, postcards, videos, recordings, clippings, ebooks, personal papers, maps and other historical "goodies" about the city. "It's a collaborative endeavor of many local historical societies, public libraries and government agencies who have mounted their own local history." On Flickr. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 18, 2013 - 5 comments

Ebook Index of Free Ebooks for the Kindle

Ebook Index of Free Ebooks for the Kindle [via mefi projects]
posted by aniola on Mar 9, 2013 - 43 comments

Pristine Condition! Super Fast Shipping! Five Stars!

Amazon contemplating the used ebook market. But will they still have used book coffee rings on the pages? [more inside]
posted by weeyin on Feb 7, 2013 - 69 comments

I don't want to set the world on fire/I just want to start a flame in your heart

Five years ago today Jeff Bezos’ Amazon.com released the Amazon Kindle, a move that would revolutionize the publishing industry. While often controversial, most recently for its international tax avoidance schemes, Amazon has been very successful and has made millions for its founder. What has Bezos done with some of his tax-free millions? Well for one, he launched and landed a rocket vertically, and posted the video to YouTube, just yesterday. [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Nov 19, 2012 - 99 comments

Outlawed by Amazon DRM

Outlawed by Amazon DRM: A couple of days ago, my friend Linn sent me an e-mail, very frustrated: Amazon just closed her account and wiped her Kindle. Without notice. Without explanation. Leaving her without recourse. [via] [more inside]
posted by AceRock on Oct 22, 2012 - 98 comments

free & cheap ebooks

Books on the Knob, Pixel of Ink, and iReader Review are three blogs that feature free & bargain ebooks daily. If you want to start simple there's OpenCulture's 375 Free eBooks list but if you don't mind doing some footwork then there's this very comprehensive 614 Places for Free eBooks Online post (with divisions of content by genre) on Gizmo's Freeware. [more inside]
posted by flex on Oct 4, 2012 - 12 comments

Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff

Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff, a podcast in which writer and game designer Robin D. Laws (Hamlet's Hitpoints, The GUMSHOE system) and game designer and writer Kenneth Hite (Tour De Lovecraft, GURPS Horror) (previously) talk about stuff. Stuffs include: Why vampires are assholes and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, stopping WWI and Beasts of the Southern Wild, Margaret Atwood and the difference between a mystic and an occultist, why no invented setting is as interesting as the real world and Woodrow Wilson, Gencon and sundry RPGs, Neil Armstrong, HP Blavatsky and theosophy, the ebook prcing settlement, what big publishing could learn from RPG publishers, and the many crazy fictional possibilities of Charles Lindbergh and his UFO investigating chums, and Dungeons and Dragons edition wars and Aliester Crowley.
posted by Artw on Sep 30, 2012 - 30 comments

Baby's on Fire

Following much speculation Amazon has refreshed the hardware for it's Kindle range, including the Kindle Paperwhite (featuring a "flattened out fibreoptic display") and an updated version of the sold out Kindle Fire and a new 8.9 Inch Kindle Fire HD. Earlier Kobo announced their new range, including a Kindle Fire like tablet. Between this, speculation that the Surface RT will have an astonishingly low price and rumors of a 7" iPad coming soon (probably to be announced sometime after Apple's September 12th iPhone 5 event) is the window of opportunity for stock Android tablets closing?
posted by Artw on Sep 6, 2012 - 249 comments

If it was good enough for Ted Roosevelt, it's good enough for me

Classicly is a curated collection of pre-1923 books in Kindle format, ranging from haughty epics to intellectual fiction, without taking away from the no-brow everyman's novel and even some timeless non-fiction. A great way to sort your way through their impressive inventory is their annotated collections, but there's enough serendipity going around in the main page that you get around to books you even forgot you wanted to read.
posted by syntaxfree on Aug 14, 2012 - 14 comments

Beyond Books

"This technology cannot simply substitute for the great libraries of the present. After all, libraries are not just repositories of books. They are communities, sources of expertise, and homes to lovingly compiled collections that amount to far more than the sum of their individual printed parts. Their physical spaces, especially in grand temples of learning like the NYPL, subtly influence the way that reading and writing takes place in them. And yet it is foolish to think that libraries can remain the same with the new technology on the scene. The Bookless Library, by David Bell (print ready version). [more inside]
posted by codacorolla on Jul 18, 2012 - 13 comments

And a great anger was Nookd in the hearts of the e-readers

While reading an e-book copy of War and Peace on his Nook, North Carolina blogger Philip noticed a minor glitch in the text: "It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern." He ignored it and moved on, but then encountered a similar error shortly thereafter. As it turned out, the word "kindle" had been systematically replaced by "Nook" throughout the whole book. [more inside]
posted by BlackLeotardFront on Jun 1, 2012 - 67 comments

Coming Soon: That Book Place

Set on the stage of current book buying and reading habits, where bookbuyers browse local shops then buy online and universities move the books out of their libraries (prev), Tony Sanfilippo (MetaFilter's Toekneesan) imagines book stores of a different sort, part bookstore with new and used books, part lending library, part something more. (via) [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 29, 2012 - 24 comments

Hack The Cover

Hack The Cover "This is an essay for book lovers and designers curious about where the cover has been, where it's going, and what the ethos of covers means for digital book design."
posted by Fuzzy Monster on May 29, 2012 - 11 comments

Amazon Versus the E-Book Universe

The E-Book Wars: Amazon Versus the Rest. Publishers, distributors, booksellers, and authors weigh in on Amazon's ever-increasing presence and influence in the electronic publishing world. The author also takes a stab at forecasting the future for the major players in the e-book industry.
posted by Rykey on May 26, 2012 - 32 comments

Nook finds it's niche

Barnes and Noble is spinning off Nook into a subsidiary business after a $300M deal with Microsoft which gives the Redmond company a 17% stake, bringing an end to a patent dispute between the two companies and sending shares skyrocketing. Commentary from John Scalzi and Tobias Buckell. Meanwhile the Kindle Fire, Amazon's competitor to the Nook tablet, has grabbed over 50% of the Android tablet market.
posted by Artw on May 1, 2012 - 91 comments

How to use printed books in the digital age

Ten gorgeous buildings made out of books. More views of some of them: Scanner — Book iglooTower of BabelCadiff/MillerArgument (with other book structures). Want to build your own? Order books by the yard from various outlets, some quite pricy, others more affordable: BookDecor, Half Price Books Outlet.
posted by beagle on Apr 30, 2012 - 20 comments

Free at Last

Tor/Forge, the Science Fiction and Fantasy subsidiary of Macmillan, has announced that it is going DRM free on all of its ebooks. Mefi's own Charles Stross shares a presentation he recently made to executives at Macmillan that may have partially influenced this decision. Stross had previously predicted that publishers would need to go DRM free to prevent Amazon from gaining too much power in the ebook market.
posted by bove on Apr 24, 2012 - 74 comments

Apple and the Big Five

The U.S. has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of the largest publishers, alleging a conspiracy to rig the pricing of e-books. Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins have agreed to settle, though Macmillan, Penguin and Apple continue to contest the charges. Some background from WIRED: Bigger Than Agency, Bigger Than E-Books: The Case Against Apple and Publishers
posted by Artw on Apr 11, 2012 - 192 comments

"The only answer I received from Paypal was silence."

Paypal is coming down hard on online erotica retailers. The service has sent demands to such ebook self-publishing sites as Smashwords, AllRomanceEbooks and Bookstrand, demanding that they remove all titles containing bestiality, rape-for-titillation, and incest- including the popular 'pseudo-incest' category of stepparent or stepsibling sex. [more inside]
posted by showbiz_liz on Feb 28, 2012 - 56 comments

"I don't have a crystal ball."

Jonathon Franzen doesn't just hate ebooks - he thinks they are having a detrimental effect on the world. [more inside]
posted by Megami on Jan 30, 2012 - 263 comments

"Maybe I should finally mention WOOL..."

Hugh Howey was a self-published novelist of no real success. Until WOOL, that is - a 15,000 word "little throwaway story" he uploaded to Amazon's Kindle Marketplace one day and promptly forget about. The story he didn't blog, didn't tweet, and didn't even sell on his site hit #2 on the Kindle SciFi Bestseller list and "changed the course of e-books." [more inside]
posted by DarlingBri on Jan 15, 2012 - 140 comments

Serialized eBooks

Despite the popularity of long-arc, serialized TV shows, no one really wants to read serialized fiction, apparently. That's not stopped anyone from trying, though, like say Stephen King with The Green Mile and The Plant, semi-successful efforts from a mega-successful author. That was before the current rise of the ebook, though, and a few authors (also here and here and here) are betting technology will turn serialized novels into the next big thing, that we're in "the perfect environment for a resurgence."
posted by nospecialfx on Dec 7, 2011 - 44 comments

And just like that, I can read my copy of The Lusty Argonian Maid on-the-go!

"Skyrim is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to Skyrim. [...] Lately, one of my favorite parts of Skyrim are the in-game books. At any time, you can pull a book off the shelf, and get a nice fresh slice of lore to go along with your hearty adventures. I’ve even gone so far as to break into houses in the middle of the night just to read their books." — So says the blogger who decided to extract all 1000+ pages of text contained in the books of Skyrim and format them for EPUB and Kindle. (Skyrim previously)
posted by 256 on Nov 29, 2011 - 95 comments

“If I have a little money I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.”

Books seen in new ways: the Book Drum World Map (popular books mapped to their locations, and more). The Infinite Helical Bookcase. CodexCloud (store, search and share your eBooks online). Also: galleries and blogs of unique bookshelves, Bookshelf Porn and BookPorn. [more inside]
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Nov 10, 2011 - 5 comments

Check it out!

Kindle Lending Library is now live. (discussed previously). The good news is there are lots of titles and no due dates. The bad news is that there is a one-per-month limit. Oh, and you have to be an Amazon Prime! member. Not everyone is thrilled.
posted by TwoToneRow on Nov 8, 2011 - 98 comments

$2 a Word? Chump Change!

Byliner and The Atavist might be heralding a change in how and how much longform article authors are paid.
posted by reenum on Sep 20, 2011 - 14 comments

Borders liquidating remaning stores

Borders is liquidating as soon as this Friday, closing all 399 stores, ending 40 years of business, and 11,000 jobs. Brought down by e-books and Amazon. Scenes From A Borders Liquidation Sale. Map of (soon to be vacant) Borders stores.
posted by stbalbach on Jul 18, 2011 - 311 comments

Dripread

Most of us know and love Dailylit. But, if you want to have more current book snippets emailed to you every day, you can upload your own ebooks to Dripread. [more inside]
posted by reenum on Jul 3, 2011 - 8 comments

The History of Cartography

Free PDFs of The History of Cartography, vol. 1 and 2, from University of Chicago Press.
posted by Stan Carey on Jul 3, 2011 - 13 comments

Set aside some free time; you're gonna need it

Launching today is Byliner, both a portal to the best narrative nonfiction from around the web, and a publishing platform for original works. Some additional background here.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Jun 21, 2011 - 15 comments

"My lower intestine is full of Spam, Egg, Spam, Bacon, Spam, Tomatoes, Spam."

Do you want some Spam with your Kindle? Spam has hit the Kindle, clogging the online bookstore of the top-selling eReader with material that is far from being book worthy and threatening to undermine Amazon.com Inc's publishing foray.
posted by Fizz on Jun 17, 2011 - 95 comments

The Fiction Liberation Front

The Fiction Liberation Front: cyberpunk/slipstream/transreal author Lewis Shiner has released his collected writings under a Creative Commons license, including his award novels Frontera, Deserted Cities of the Heart, and Glimpses. Shiner may be best known for his inclusion in the seminal 1986 cyberpunk anthology Mirrorshades, alongside the likes of William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and Rudy Rucker. A few years later he was pronouncing the movement dead.
posted by unmake on May 27, 2011 - 27 comments

SLRP (R=reddit). PDF Paradise!

"Have any of you ever found a great PDF online?" [more inside]
posted by grumblebee on Mar 26, 2011 - 52 comments

The "flipback", a new kind of book

A new kind of book has been created in Holland, where its sold over 1m copies since it came out in 2009. Now finding its way to England, called the "flipback", the pages are super thin Bible paper with a special lay-flat spine and small format, making it suitable for reading with one hand, thumb page-flips, and shirt pocket storage.
posted by stbalbach on Mar 21, 2011 - 63 comments

That's an awful nice box you got there.

Best-selling author Seth Godin has launched a challenge to traditional publishing with The Domino Project, the first publishing imprint to be powered by Amazon. [more inside]
posted by crackingdes on Mar 15, 2011 - 42 comments

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