Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ebook Readers Arrive in Malaysia - Finally!

Last Sunday's Starmag carried the news that MPH will be bringing in stocks of an e-reader - at last! The device in question is called Hanlin, and is produced by China-based Tianjin Jinke Electronics.  (Pictured on the left in the hands of MPH's Rodney Toh.)

It will most probably be followed by models from companies such as Samsung, Toshiba and Asus (and Sony? A rather odd omission from the list.).

Hanlin was chosen, apparently :
... because of its flexibility: it can read a wide range of files, including the new eBook industry standard, Adobe ePub, as well as PDF and text files. ... This means it can download eBooks from different online stores, not just MPH’s.
(This is important to me, since much of what I need to read are unpublished manuscripts which are expensive and time consuming to print off, and impossible to read comfortably on present computer screens.)

MPH plans to sell 200,000 eBooks of current titles in the first half of this year through its online bookstore mphonline.com

One particularly interesting point made in the article is that mphonline is in a great position to promote Malaysian literature overseas. Donald Kee says :
There are a lot of Asian authors that are underrepresented, such as Malaysian, Singapore and Thai authors ... we want to become a platform to showcase these writers to rest of the world.
The device is reviewed in next Sunday's edition, so we'll see how it measures up.

But, one wonders, is it already too late for the eBook reader?  The newly unveiled Apple iPad looks impressive and can do so much more ...

8 comments:

imaginarylands said...

Although the iPad is impressive, its LCD/LED screen is the deal breaker for me. It's simply not comfortable to read a 400-page novel on an LCD screen with backlights. eInk is the way to go.

I'm sticking with my Sony Reader :) Love it to bits though it's showing some wear and tear after I dropped a wee bit too many times. (Cries)b

Ted Mahsun said...

Great news I suppose. But what's the price?

Also I'm very skeptical of the usability of a lesser-known (read: no-name brand) device.

Also also, there's no backlight. Guess I won't be reading it in bed while the missus is asleep.

Still, no backlight might mean it's affordable (and hopefully not cheap in the negative sense) and kudos to MPH for bringing it in.

Web Sutera said...

Nevertheless, I don’t know when an e-book can replace paper based book that dominated the market for a very long time. To be honest, I still don’t see any drastic change in people’s habit to see, touch and hold book. In Malaysia, e-book seems not popular, yet.

http://pasalbuku.blogspot.com

Faizah Roslaini said...

The price is like over a thousand ringgit. For that kind of money I might as well get the latest Kindle, with 3G some more. But will have to check first whether the 3G feature is working for Malaysia.

-ROCKprincess- said...

wow...
i'm waiting for this one...
easier for me to bring reading materials everywhere I go...
huhu...

Biblibio said...

I wouldn't recommend the iPad as an eReader for the same reason as imaginarylands: it doesn't have the eInk tech which makes reading so easy and the "backlight" feature actually lowers the quality significantly.

Check it out in person, if you can. Make sure you like how it feels in your hands. I tested out my Sony before buying it and turns out I did well - the device is awesome.

It's good to see eReaders getting around the globe. Hopefully there will soon be a homegrown eReader in my neck of the woods...

Anonymous said...

It's Rm1,249. At that price I might as well get a laptop. I might get one of those Sony Readers.

peekaboo2267 said...

Hi All!
I am a Malaysian and have never owned an eBook reader before but would love one. I read a lot of novels and a bit of travel guidebooks. What I see as the main reason to get the eBook reader is for when I travel. It would be good to not have to lug along a few books each time. I have been deliberating between Kindle and Sony (Hanlin despite being sold locally by MPH, but being a Chinese product and not as cute as a Sony, so I am trying to avoid buying it from MPH). I will highly likely be visiting US sometimes in Aug-Sept. Or else, my friend will definitely be going for 3 months. So there is no issue getting it from there.

I think I am leaning towards Sony since it is so complicated being a Malaysian getting Kindle and Amazon’s eBooks here. But I did read this very informative forum on how to go about using Kindle here http://forum.lowyat.net/topic/1053076

Another reason I am leaning more towards Sony is I also read that Kindle’s screen is pretty fragile. Plus, I can’t use Kindle’s wireless connectivity in Malaysia.

I am leaning towards PRS-300.

The only thing I feel Sony loses out to Kindle is when it comes to the availability of the eBooks. Then again it is so difficult to buy eBooks from Amazon for Malaysia. Even though for now it seems we have found ways around the loophole but who knows what other ways will Amazon find to stop their eBooks being sold here? Also, I am not that well versed intech issues!
I have some questions for any Malaysians out there that have been using eBook readers, especially a Sony ebook reader like PRS-300.

Question 1
Sony book store is not extensive but we can also buy eBooks from Google Book. When I checked Google Book it says that we can purchase from stores like Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, Borders, etc. But being in Malaysia, is it easy to purchase online from these sites (since I read that Malaysians can’t purchase eBooks for Kindle from Amazon.com)?

The Sony Reader Store is currently available in the United States and Canada only. So that means we can't purchase from them here in Malaysia.

Many publishers are only permitted to sell their ebooks in specific countries due to
"geographical restrictions", and this is enforced by the eBook stores where appropriate. Which eBook stores are user friendly for Malaysian users?

Question 2
I know that the eBook reader can be charged via USB through the laptop. For when I don’t have my laptop with me, I will need a normal AC Charger, which I know is available for purchase and it had been mentioned that any PSP AC Wall Charger will do the job. Then what about the difference in voltage between US and Malaysia? Would I need to use the converter here in Malaysia and anywhere else outside US and Japan?

Question 3
Even if the eBook reader enables us to borrow library books, is that possible for Malaysians? This is only for local libraries and I don’t think Malaysian libraries have ebooks…

Question 4
The PRS-300 doesn’t use user replaceable battery, right? What will happen once the battery dies in 1-2 years? I live in Malaysia and currently ebook readers are not sold here. (the only ebook reader in Malaysian market is Hanlin). Not even sure if Sony will ever sell theirs here… I am just wondering if I buy any of Sony’s ebook reader (I am leaning towards PRS-300) will I end up just using it for the duration of it’s battery life? What are the options available for someone who lives in a country where Sony ebook readers are not sold? Sometimes with all these uncertainty I wonder whether it is simpler for me just to purchase the locally available Hanlin V5...

Question 5
Calibre - Read that this is very good. Has anyone use it in Malaysia?

I hope someone would be able to assist and answer some of my queries.

Thanks!
Mel