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Electronic books, and devices for reading them, are really taking off. In a way, this is reproducing the effect the digital revolution had on music.

One parallel may be with the purchase of music as “singles” rather than albums. The eBook format seems to be ideal for novels and trade books. But it looks like it may be even better for shorter books – the equivalent of music “singles.” Short books can be provided rapidly and cheaply. And they may be more suited to common reading habits than the longer more detailed books.

Amazon thinks so anyway. They recently launched their Kindle Singles selection. Relative short books  each presenting a compelling idea “expressed at its natural length.” And costing no more than a few dollars.

Enter TED Books

Now TED has taken hold of this idea. Many of you are aware of TED - the outfit which describes itself as “a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.” It promotes conferences, events and prizes. These bring together people from Technology, Education and Design. And the ideas are disseminated by videos of the short and stimulating talks given.

You have probably downloaded and watched some of the videos. If not – I recommend you try them out.

TED have just announced the launch of TED books. The publication of short books as eBooks. Effectively taking their videos into a book format. And they are being release through Amazon in the Kindle format.

So TED Books at Kindle Singles is really a book version of TED videos. Their press release announced the first three TED books published as Kindle Singles (The Happiness ManifestoHomo Evolutis and Beware Dangerism!)

This is great and I look forward to many more TED Books.  Well, I would if I could only read them on my Sony eBook reader!

My complaints

So here is my bitch. When the hell are book publishers going to get themselves sorted out? When are they going to overcome the problems presented by different formats and digital rights management?

Why can’t I read kindle books on my eBook reader? (It already accepts ePub and pdf).

Why should I have to purchase another reader (a Kindle) which may not be as good as my Sony Reader Touch, or less suitable for my purposes, just because of the format difference?

Of course I could use a Kindle app on an iPad. But why should I be forced to buy an expensive iPad just to do this? (And don’t tell me about iPods. I have one of these and, No, they are not suitable for comfortably reading eBooks. Nor is reading from a PC monitor comfortable).

Why can’t publishers produce their books in multiple formats? Some already do, but why don’t Amazon make available multiple formats (Kindle, ePub and pdf)?

I hope we are in a transitional phase and these problems will soon be resolved. But if they aren’t it will only encourage production of software which eBook buyers can use to convert formats. This will inevitably mean software for removing digital right management from eBooks to enable conversion.

And that will make eBook piracy a dream – something the publishers surely don’t want.

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