Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Kobo Has Landed!

If you've been following my new-fangled twittering, then you may already know this. I'm a Linux user, and I took a big chance, getting an e-reader today. It's called a Kobo, and out of the box, it doesn't exactly play nice with Linux, specifically Ubuntu. But you can make it work. OH YES, you can make it work.

(That's said in a triumphant tone of voice, by the way)

If you don't like to hear little boys geek out about their new little toys, then maybe this isn't the post for you. But Karl: Fellow Ubuntu user, this might pique your interest a little.

So out of the box, what it does is twofold: first, it'll charge; second, it'll ask you whether you want to install in Windows or Mac OSX.

You see my issue.

So I thought, well, I don't need their software, I'll be fine with open-source. But here's the thing: you kinda DO need their software. Well, a little. If you want to buy new books you do. The reason? DRM. I suppose if you want to strip the DRM from your purchased ebooks (not impossible, I'm told, though I've never tried) then you won't need their software. But if, on the other hand, you want to read, say, the latest Stephen King book without being at odds with the DMCA (which, frankly, is just hard to do. I mean everything is illegal here. Boy.) then you need their software.

Guess what isn't released for general use? Their Linux version.

Guess what I got? Their Linux version. Found it online. If you're a Kobo user, who uses Linux, and you hate running their software through a Windows emulator like WINE, then leave a message in the comments and I'll get you the .deb file. It works in Ubuntu 10.04, anyhow.

But the problem with their software is that it only lets you read things that you buy (or download for free, they do have a lovely selection of out-of-copyright books from Project Gutenberg) from Kobo. And I wanted to read some things I'd gotten from Google Books. Maybe some JSTOR articles. So back to open source, and enter Calibre.

I'd read that Calibre, an open-source ebook management program, had gotten Kobo compatibility working, but try as I might, I couldn't convince it to recognize my reader. Long story short, the version of Calibre you download through Ubuntu's Synaptec Package Manager is an OLD OLD version, and you have to go to their website and get it by using the terminal commands provided there.

And boy does it work. Not only does it read epub format, you can just drop .pdfs on there (JSTOR articles, anyone?) and go to town. I liked it before, but now? Now I officially love this little thing.

The detriment (and you'll find it true of all e-ink devices for now) is the delay between page turns. I'm no speed-reader, in fact I'm downright slow at it, so it doesn't bother me a bit. But Vaulting? Hates it. I have a friend in the publishing business who's the same way. For them I'd suggest an iPad or, you know, paper. For now, it's keeping me from printing out all those JSTOR articles, and giving me a reason to read a lot of out of copyright material.

For tonight? A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court.


Ria said...

can I have the
.deb file
Thank you :)

Vellum said...

e-mail me and I'll send you the link :) (My e-mail is in my blogger profile)