Round up #15: Calibre, UK Kindle?

Round up #15: Calibre, UK Kindle?

Does Calibre now correct author names in DRM files?

When you get a book from the Kindle store, it contains information called “Metadata”.  That information isn’t intended for the reader, and it doesn’t show up when you open the book.

It’s really intended for the device showing it.  It contains, among other things, the name of the author of the book, and the title of the book.

The way it is supposed to work, the reader doesn’t interact with the metadata at all. 

The problem with that is, well, you may want to change the metadata.  For example, some books in the Kindle store list the author by first name first, and some of them by last name first.  That leads to the weird sorting you see sometimes on your homescreen.

The same goes for titles…you’ll find some where the word “The” is in the beginning, and some where it is at the end…like this: “End, The”.  It would be also nice if you could identify series the way you wanted.

One popular program to edit metadata is called Calibre.  It’s free software, and it does a lot more than that (like convert files from one type to another and get you periodicals), but right now, let’s focus on the metadata.

The problem has been that DRM (Digital Rights Management) which is used in many book files to control the uses that can be made of that file, has prevented people from making these changes.

Recently, though, it has been reported that you can edit the author metadata, even if the file has DRM.

Amazon Kindle Community thread

I have not tested this out myself yet…I do have Calibre, but just haven’t had the chance.  Hmmm…on consideration, I wonder if this violates the Amazon Terms of Service?  You aren’t reverse-engineering anything…I’ll have to think about that one.   I’m reasonably comfortable that it doesn’t violate copyright.

UK Kindle

Right now, everybody shops for Kindle books from the same website (Amazon.com).  Based on your country as indicated in the

Manage Your Kindle page

you are told which books you can buy.  You may see others, by the way.

Those books vary considerably. 

Would it make a difference if people shopped from the Amazon site (Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, UK) closest to them?

Probably not, in terms of e-books.  That seems to be handled reasonably well by the main site.

However, Europeans (for example) are missing some of the best things from the US store: free books, and blogs like this one.  :)

In a recent article in The Scotsman

Amazon faces a fight in new chapter for e-book

there was an interesting statement attributed to Brian McBride, Amazon’s managing director for Amazon.co.uk since 2006.

The article said that McBride said “…there are plans to introduce a dedicated UK version of Kindle.”

Hmm…I wonder why that’s important? It certainly could make the device cheaper, if you could avoid import fees.  It wouldn’t really make much difference for the available books, though.

One interesting thing…it could come with a British English accented voice.   That may sound funny (not the voice, the idea).  ;)  British people hear American voices a lot in the media, just as the reverse is true.   Still, it may seem weird to them to listen to Alice in Wonderland and not hear British pronunciations.

“Ha!” you say.   “They wouldn’t develop a new voice just for that!”

They don’t need to develop anything.  Amazon didn’t develop the voice of the Kindle, they just licensed software from Nuance. 

Nuance already makes a British English voice…three of them, in fact.  They also have an Irish and Scottish one.

You can hear those voices, plus a wide variety of other voices, here:

Nuance demo voices

Does that need a whole new Kindle, though? 

I think we will likely get the ability to select a voice at some point.  Digital Text Platform publishers can now publish in a variety of languages, and to get the new seventy percent royalty structure that’s coming, they have to allow text-to-speech.  However, the American English voice of Tom just doesn’t do a good job with other languages.  That would be a lot to take away from people who bought non-English books.

Could it be that we’ll get the choice for other voices in the near future, to go along with the books in other languages? 

All of the authorized DTP languages (English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish) have voices from Nuance…more than one, in several cases.  For instance, they have both Portuguese voices for both Brazil and Portugal.  We can currently switch between two genders for American English, so they could probably switch between the two.

I have suggested before that dedicated EBRs for certain language markets make sense…but that’s primarily ones with different alphabets.

It seems a bit silly to me to need a different device, but we can’t really help that with a physical keyboard.  People want Cyrillic and Asian languages, which I completely appreciate.  How are you going to enter search terms, though?

That’s one place where the iPad (and other devices that use a virtual keyboard) may have an advantage.  I assume you can just summon a keyboard with the appropriate character set.

By the way, I thought I’d see if Amazon is carrying the iPad yet.  When I searched for it, I did find a few accesories…and the Kindles came up as well.  :)

The Kindle Kandle

My birthday just went by (I was born on the same date as Lincoln, Darwin…and Arsenio Hall), and one of the things I got was the Kindle Kandle.  That’s a booklight specifically designed for the Kindle (any EBR, pretty much).  It’s quite different from most…it doesn’t have a big neck apparatus, but it’s more like one of those clips you would use to close a bag of potato chips. 

The light does work, as a light.  I can read the Kindle (I have the US only version of the six inch).  Depending on where I put the clip, though, there is quite a bit of overspill.

That’s one concern I have…where to put the clip.  I read with my Kindle inside an M-Edge platform cover.   That cover (which I really like) flips over the top rather than opening side to side.  I can get the clip on the top of the Kindle, but it’s kind of a squeeze and I’m concerned about stretching out the elastic that holds in the Kindle.  I can clip the light on the side of the cover…there is a lip there.  That works okay, but the lip is only on one side, so there is considerable spill on the other side.  I still need to play with how I’m going to adjust the light itself.

The bigger concern I had was getting into the battery compartment.  First, the instructions are tiny…I missed making the text size bigger!  They could maybe let us get to a text file…maybe they do on their website, I didn’t check.  That’s okay, I got by that.

The battery cabinet door, though, uses a micro screw…I don’t know if that’s the right term (I’m not a hardware person), but I needed a teeny tiny screwdriver to remove it (like you would use for glasses).  Fortunately, I had one where I could find it.  After I took the cover off, there were already batteries there…they had given me an extra set, which is nice.

 I also don’t know yet how long the batteries will last.

So, summing up, it is the best light solution I’ve had so far.  I like that it is a low profile, so it fits in a pocket more easily than the long-neck styles.  I don’t like the tiny screws, and the light does spill over.  However, I would say you might want to think about it.  It is $25, which is relatively expensive for a booklight.

Kindlelove has been recommending that people may want to wait to buy a light until the Octovo light is released, and other tech writers who have seen seem to agree that it is a good device.  Kindlelove’s

review

does a nice job of comparing the various lights.

The Measured Circle

You know what’s protecting you ILMK readers from articles on Avatar, corn-syrup filled action figures, and schools spying on students with webcams?  My new blog, The Measured Circle.  :)  If you enjoy the style of ILMK, you might want to give it a free trial for your Kindle.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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2 Responses to “Round up #15: Calibre, UK Kindle?”

  1. Peter Says:

    I am living in Caracas, Venezuela.
    I am able to get “I Love My Kindle”, “Kindle Nation Daily” and other blogs. Also newspapers and magazines, since I got my kindle in December. The only problem is that I have to pay an extra 4.99 $ a week.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Peter!

      Does your country show as the United States? American customers when abroad can get blogs by paying the wireless fee you describe, but customers who show with a country of Venezuela are not supposed to be able to subscribe:

      “Blogs and the experimental web browser are currently not available for your country. You will have free access to Wikipedia if wireless is available.”

      By the way, you can avoid that charge by using your USB to get the blogs…although I know wireless is cooler. :)

      You go to http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, and click the plus next to your subscription.

      I have to say, that’s really great to hear ILMK is being read in Venezuela! :)

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