Keeping your place in the book: Adobe’s Bill McCoy favors open syncing
April 10, 2009 | 8:21 am
I’m not the only TeleRead guy with a newspaper-related novel. Stephen Walkwalker, one of our newest contributors, has written Say My Name, a thriller about a Boston newspaper guy framed for financial and sexual sins.
Steve’s book starts far too slowly. But like a train racing along in the open countryside after a pokey departure from a downtown station, this one really picks up. I can’t wait to read what happens to Steve’s hero, Stanley Branford, the victim of the ID theft.
The novel is a Kindle-format book written under the name of Steve Holt. And if I owned a Kindle II E Ink gizmo, I could go on an e-walk outside and automatically resume where I left off on the Kindle app on my LCD-lit iPod Touch. Caught up in the suspense of a courtroom scene, I wouldn’t have to waste time searching through the book for same “page.”
Time for open syncing capability
I’d love to see the synced-autobookmark feature in many other e-readers—with interbrand capability and the standard ePub format, and ideally without DRM to muck it up. That way, I might start in Stanza or another app on the Touch and go on to enjoy Say My Name on my Stony PRS 505, which, like the Kindle, has sunlight-friendly E Ink.
This scenario of open synching would be a win for most everyone, vendors and readers; even Amazon would benefit in the long term since e-book would be less of a hassle. The Lexcycle people, the developers of Stanza, loved the open sync idea when I discussed it with them over lunch at Tools of Change. The key is to have the right standards for syncing and reading among different apps and devices, and meanwhile, if Steve can release an ePub version of Say My Name, then so much the better.
Another friend of the sync idea: Bill McCoy at Adobe
Now the sync idea has yet another supporter, IDPF board member Bill McCoy of Adobe (who, you’ll recall, has joined Lexycle and others in championing another good idea—open distribution, formally proposed by Lexcycle).
In an e-mail responding to my query, Bill has actually gone beyond me, and I like where he’s coming from:
When you say "find their old places", do you mean stores/repositories or digital publications? Anyway, I would say "absolutely" to either.
The latter is a feature that I like to call "bookshelf in the sky.” Amazon Kindle now has a closed proprietary version of this with their iPhone app (and the experience as you upgrade from one Kindle to another), as well as a separate silo in their "Amazon Upgrade" [sic] browser-based reader.
Part of this is up to publishers. Forward-looking publishers realize that if they sell a digital book to someone they should enable them to read it wherever and however they like.
The former—finding preferred sources—is analogous to favorites in a browser. Makes sense and not particularly hard.
Whether it’s via a bookmark arrangement or maybe an interlibrary or interstore virtual "locker," e-bookdom would benefit from the wherever-and-however concept. Toward this end, both open distribution and open synching have important roles to play.
Update, 11:57 a.m.: Tim O’Reilly likes the open sync idea.
Disclosure: Steve not only is a TeleRead contributor but also said nice things, in his newsletter, about The Solomon Scandals (he decided on his own to write up my book). Judge for yourself, but I think that once you’re past the start of Say My Name, you’ll get caught up in Steve’s own book. I originally was planning to mention Say only at solomonscandals.com.