Holmes on the Range revisited!

Wow, seems like only last week that I was re-directing interested readers to Steve Hockensmith’s blog to find their copy of the first Holmes on the Range short story featuring the Amlingmeyer brothers…wait…it was, wasn’t it?

At the time I was ecstatic to be able to read an original (to me, anyway) short story about Gustav (Old Red) and Otto (Big Red) Amlingmeyer and their adventures sleuthing in the old West.  Originally published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (if my contacts at Wikipedia are accurate), these stories have not been available to those without a subscription stretching back to 2003.  Having jumped on the Holmes on the Range chuckwagon only recently, I’d lamented ever getting a chance to complete the series.

Until now.  

After conducting a poll of his faithful readers as to what an anthology of Holmes on the Range stories should be called, the final version will be called, “Dear Mr. Holmes: Seven Holmes on the Range Mysteries.”

According to Steve’s post on the subject, the new anthology should be available as either an e-book or dead tree version sometime in March 2011.

Ion Audio’s Book Saver: Digitize Your Library!

So, what’s to be done with all those books cluttering up your apartment/house? 

You ditched your C.D. collection years ago, converting everything to digital and loading up your iPod, but those pesky books,  they’re everywhere!  From the bedroom to the living room, you’re using them as coasters, as an end table, maybe to even out an off kilter table.  Hell, there’s even a couple sitting on the back of the toilet tank!

What can you do? 

Well, lucky for you, there’s no need to go to such extremes.  The good folks at Ion Audio have the answer to your problem.  Scan it!

Debuting at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, the Ion Audio Book Saver promises to do for the world of books what the home P.C. did for your C.D. collection. Simply put, it’s a super fast photo scanner, optimized to scan print and store it on an SD card in digital form.  From there, it’s a virtual hop, skip and a jump, and there you go, the book is now a pdf file on the computer available to be uploaded to your eReader of choice.  Ion Audio claims their scanner can scan 2 pages per second (they claim similar products can only scan one page every seven seconds) using two cameras and a flash while the book sits comfortably in an angled cradle.  The only thing that slows down the process is the operator; pages do have to be flipped by hand after all.

Promoted as a quick way to convert your books, comics or magazines to a digital format, the Book Saver is projected to cost about $150 U.S. (and I would imagine slightly higher in Cdn funds).  It is also projected to cost the textbook publishing industry much more than that.  Vito Pilieci’s  January 13 article in The National Post outlines some of the copyright issues the advent of the Book Saver might have. 

Just like the music industry was ravaged by digital piracy, there are fears that the publishing industry might undergo the same trials.  After all, in the case of textbooks, why would everyone in the class pay full price for a textbook when they can pay their entrepreneurial friend (who has a Book Saver) a discounted price? 

However, this leads to the next question: what if the book is out of print?  Does the publisher really have a legal right to intellectual property that they’re not willing or able to disseminate?  I suspect the lawyers will be busy for years with questions of copyright and who owns what.

My point of view: I bought the book.  I own the book.  I’m going to convert the book and save myself some space around the house.


 (For a neat demonstration video of the Book Saver, check out this video on youtube)


Google challenges Amazon for ebook supremacy

Uh, oh.

Google’s on the move again.  Not content with being the foremost search engine on the web, nor the foremost video provider (Hello?  Youtube?), nor a young schoolboy’s best way to spy on that cute girl next door, nor dominating the email market…now they’ve decided to challenge Amazon’s dominance in the market of ebooks.

As of Monday December 6, 2010, Google has announced their plans to become the foremost provider of digital books in direct competition with Amazon.com.  With access to over 3 million current and out of copyright titles, they’re set to make them available (for a price) in a customer’s personal e-library (much like Amazon) and easily read on any internet ready device, whether it be phone, computer or ipod.  Surprisingly (?), while their titles will be compatible with most ereaders…the Amazon Kindle is not one of them.

So, what does this mean for your average eReader?  More access to out of print books? More variety in how they view these tomes?  More savings when choosing your next ebook?

Yes!  Yes! and um…maybe?

Amazon is not taking this lying down however, trying to block Google’s access to millions of out of print titles.  Should be interesting to see what happens. 

But seriously, if you want to take a look at the new Google bookstore, here’s your chance.

For further reading and an in depth story on developing Google/Amazon rivalry, Jefferson Graham’s article in USA Today is a must.