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Nintendo Businesses Books Handhelds Media Portables (Games) Hardware

Nintendo To Start Publishing Ebooks On the DS 216

Miracle Jones writes "Nintendo is going to start publishing ebooks for the DS in conjunction with HarperCollins. The first cartridge will go on sale December 26th in the UK, will cost around 30 dollars, and will feature 100 classic books — stuff like Charles Dickens and Jane Austen."
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Nintendo To Start Publishing Ebooks On the DS

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  • DRM? (Score:5, Funny)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:34PM (#26061673) Homepage

    Dickens and Austen, eh? So what sort of DRM is Nintendo going to use to "protect" this "IP"?

    • Re:DRM? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Justin Hopewell ( 1260242 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:35PM (#26061693)
      A 48 character "Friend Code".
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by spazdor ( 902907 )

      Um, basically none. Have you ever tried using pirated content on a DS?

      It's easier than easy.

    • Re:DRM? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:44PM (#26061857)

      No need. They'll just get Fagin to "send the boys round" if they catch you doing anything untoward.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Teilo ( 91279 )

        To whomever modded this "Offtopic": What the Dickens is the matter with you?

        Yet another illiterate modder who can't even be bothered to use google.

    • Re:DRM? (Score:5, Funny)

      by NuclearError ( 1256172 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:53PM (#26061997)
      Wouldn't the fact that the material is by Dickens and Austen be enough to stop copying? I, for one, wouldn't pirate it if you paid me.
      • Re:DRM? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @01:04PM (#26062167)
        Wouldn't the fact that the material is by Dickens and Austen be enough to stop copying? I, for one, wouldn't pirate it if you paid me.

        As a matter of fact Dickens faced enormous problems with piracy at the time. It seems that certain rogue countries in that pre-Berne Convention era saw fit to disregard Dickens's copyrights and allowed pirate printers to profit by his works without paying the author so much as a penny.

        • Re:DRM? (Score:4, Funny)

          by kanweg ( 771128 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @01:21PM (#26062439)

          But it gave him new inspiration to think up stories about Scrooge. He didn't pay for the inspiration that the pirates gave him, so they called it even.


          • by Moryath ( 553296 )
            Actually it's more interesting than that. The other thing Dickens did was ship his brother off to America in order to cut him out of the family inheritance. Charles Dickens WAS the template for Scrooge.
        • >>>certain rogue countries

          United States..... they steal the works of good British men and don't have the decency to protect his copyright..... those damn colonials!

        • by ErkDemon ( 1202789 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @03:50PM (#26064747) Homepage
          You mean like the United States?

          As far as books and the Berne convention are concerned, I think the US was probably a rogue state until, what, ... 1986?

          Until then, the US had a thing called the Manufacturing Clause, which (as far as I can recall) meant that the US refused to acknowledge copyrights on any books that weren't physically made in the US. Basically, it meant that if you wanted to sell a book in the US, you had to employ a US-based printer ... if you didn't employ one of them to produce copies of your book, the US printing community had a legal green light to print as many pirate copies of your book as they liked.

          Basically, the US printing lobby lobbied the government to protect them from foreign imports, and they got their way (and copyright be damned).

          There are two slightly shocking things about the Manufacturing Clause:

          • One, that the US was technically a safe haven for (non-US) book piracy as late at 1986. This is at odds with the image that legislators typically present of the US as a country that has historically been a strong believer in copyright law. When we criticise China as a rogue state for not following international copyright conventions, it's important to remember for context's sake that the US also didn't respect some key international conventions on copyright until comparatively recently.
          • Two, that because the Manufacturing Clause is kinda embarrassing, most people today don't seem to know that it ever existed. It currently only has a brief single-paragraph entry on Wikipedia with no discussion page, and it didn't seem to be mentioned in any of the general histories of US copyright law that I've just googled (until I specifically set "manufacturing clause" as a search term).

            For a while, I think that some overseas publishers were getting around the Manufacturing Clause by sending their books to the US in unbound form, and paying a US printer just to put the covers on in the US, on the basis that this counted as "manufacturing". I think this was considered by some US printers as cheating.

    • Their IP in this case is the reader software itself. If somebody knocked that off (God knows why they would, look at the awful 6-line-per-screen font) then they'd be in bother. As for "what sort of DRM" I believe the DS cartridge had some sort of DRM baked into it by design, but it was trivially cracked a long time ago, and essentially doesn't exist as far as the end user is concerned these days.
    • Nobody will be able to stay awake long enough to figure out how to pirate it...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right

    • Realistically, probably no DRM. It uses a cartridge and that alone makes it difficult to copy.

      I wonder how "readable" a book is on the DS? I may have to buy a DS and this cart for my niece, assuming she can actually read it.

  • First ebooks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Smelly Jeffrey ( 583520 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:35PM (#26061691) Homepage

    The first ebooks should be should be of old Nintendo Power [wikipedia.org] magazines!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I agree. I might even buy it if they did that.
    • Excellent idea. I recently got my first house and my parents finally found a reason to dump all the old magazines I had been collecting over the years on me. Hundreds of issues of Nintendo Power, EGM, Game Players, Incite, Ultra Game Players, Game Pro, Computer Gaming World, PC Gamer, strategy guides (from SMB3 to Chrono Trigger), etc.

      They're awesome to flip through but they take up so much space. I'd really like to keep them but shove them away somewhere but still have easy access to them. Ugh...

      • My old copies of Atari Age are scanned online for quick and easy perusal; no need to keep the old yellow copies. Hasn't somebody somewhere done the same for Nintendo Power, et cetera?

  • $30? Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mweather ( 1089505 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:35PM (#26061695)
    So I get to pay $30 for books I can legally download for free?
    • Re:$30? Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:37PM (#26061725) Homepage

      No actually you pay $19.95 for a R4 and then $11.95 for a 2gig miniSD card then download everything you can from project Gutenberg.

      If you own a DS, you NEED to own a R4.

      • Is there a good ebook reader software already available for the DS? Then one could load it on the R4 with whatever. I googled and didnt' find anything.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by OrangeTide ( 124937 )

          You could write one. I would have written one if I knew there was any demand for ebooks on DS. Didn't realize that gamers were into Dickens.

          • by rob1980 ( 941751 )
            Didn't realize that gamers were into Dickens.

            Why? "Gamers" encompasses more than frat boys playing Call of Duty 4.
            • by colmore ( 56499 )

              Yeah, but it's still a lot of adults who have "being entertained by toys" as a top hobby.

              *ducks and runs*

              • Entertainment is entertainment..... it doesn't matter if it's a video game, tv show, or newspaper serial (what Dickens published). No format is superior to any other.

            • Why? "Gamers" encompasses more than frat boys playing Call of Duty 4.

              I think you missed my point and decided to rant instead. Do "gamers" encompass people who read Dickens in any significant way?

          • Re:$30? Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by d'fim ( 132296 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @01:31PM (#26062607)

            I think the intended market is guilty parents trying to pretend that their kids will get some educational benefit from the $200 Pokemon game system they bought for their kids last Christmas.

            • I think the intended market is guilty parents trying to pretend that their kids will get some educational benefit from the $200 Pokemon game system they bought for their kids last Christmas.

              My kids are hooked on "My (French|Spanish|Japanese) Coach". I think that counts.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          Is there a good ebook reader software already available for the DS?

          Between rounds of Lockjaw, you can read plain-ASCII or HTML ebooks in DSOrganize 3.1129, or you can read XHTML ebooks in DSLibris.

      • Well, I own an R4 but it's not supported anymore. No more official firmware updates and unofficial ones are sketchy... A sibling suggested the AK2 which I'm not familiar with, but I'm sure the best replacement will rise to the top.

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          Not supported anymore means nothing. I have yet to find a rom that does not work in it. Also the homebres DS comic reader works incredibly well.

      • Isn't the R4 out of production now?

        I'd buy a DSTT or Acekard2.1

        And don't these things some how suck up more battery life? (but how much are we talking, and what about things like the M3 Perfect?)

      • by fm6 ( 162816 )

        If you own a DS, you NEED to own a R4.

        Why? Pocket devices just aren't very good as eBook readers. If you read with any speed at all, you have to turn the page every 3 seconds. It gets old.

        Right now, I often read eBooks on my Motion Computing tablet, where the screen is a little bigger than that of most hardbound book pages. And when the price comes down to something reasonable, I'll probably get a Kindle or Sony. These have a screen the size of a paperback book page, which is probably the minimum practical size for a reader.

        I'll save my DS for

      • Hmm what is an R4? (for the uninitiated among us)
    • The content is free; you're paying for the convenience.

      Really, how little do you value your time?

    • by Haoie ( 1277294 )

      Exactly: Most of these classic books were in the public domain years, if not decades ago.

      Still, I guess they can charge what they want.

    • If you're a parent, and your kid spends all day playing shoot-em-ups on a portable computer game, and you have trouble persuading them to put down the console and open a book ... and you're worried about their literacy level, because they don't seem to spend any time reading, and their school reports say that their spelling and grammar sucks ...

      ... then yes, the idea that you could get them a hundred-book library on a Nintendo cartridge or a PS2 disk and give it to your kid as a christmas present might ha

      • Something like this only has appeal as a parent if you are too lazy to spend time instilling an appreciation of books in your kid.

        I love books because it my parents took the time to instill an appreciation of books in me. My kid loves books because, every day, we help her establish and grow her love of books by having her read, reading to her, providing her with new and challenging reading material, and setting an example by reading ourselves. Except in extreme cases (e.g., learning disabilities), it's just

  • ... Nintendo and literacy. What's next, Smith & Wesson diet supplements?
    • by Speare ( 84249 )
      Granny Smith Wesson Oil Recipes
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sparton ( 1358159 )

      Well, Nintendo has pushed the Brain Age games and "keeping your brain young", so this seems like a logical step for them. Targeting only Britan with it's initial launch (which doesn't currently have Kindle available locally) seems like an interesting way to gauge the market in areas that don't have a worldwide-known competitor.

  • about time, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jaymz2k4 ( 790806 ) <jaymz@@@jaymz...eu> on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:37PM (#26061737) Homepage
    I'd prefer a PDF reader for homebrew. ComicBookDS [gnese.free.fr] is quite a cool little application that will let you read CBR files, you'll need to convert them first but its essentially just scaling & rar'ing them in a particular way.
    • I've used that extensively and really liked it. I never really thought that reading a book on the DS would be worth it though, but maybe this from Nintendo will change my mind.

  • by JCSoRocks ( 1142053 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:42PM (#26061835)
    This sounds like the ultimate excuse for playing your DS during class / at home when you're supposed to be doing homework. Now there just needs to be an alt-tab equivalent so you can flip over to the ebook and pause playing tetris long enough to convince them that you're reading.
    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Now there just needs to be an alt-tab equivalent so you can flip over to the ebook and pause playing tetris long enough to convince them that you're reading.

      Or you can try to build an e-book reader into the pause screen of Lockjaw [pineight.com].

  • Selection (Score:5, Funny)

    by gehrehmee ( 16338 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:43PM (#26061843) Homepage

    I know I was just clamoring to get my my hands on the Jane Austin books when I was a kid. If only there was a way to get it digitally, and in a form where I could read it while making people think I was playing video games! Oh, that would have been too much to ask.

  • Ah My Eyes! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:45PM (#26061881) Journal

    The DS has a decent screen, but I think I (and most everyone else) would start getting a headache in about five minutes if they tried to read lots of text on it. After five weeks, I'd be lucky to see anything at all!

    • Yeah, atually trying it out would be too hard. Let's just guess at the results.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rsmith-mac ( 639075 )

      I was thinking the same thing. For those unfamiliar with the specs, the DS has 2 256x192 pixel (62mmx 46mm) screens, giving it a dot pitch of .24mm. In terms of resolution this puts it above most 320x240 PocketPCs, but well below newer devices such as an iPhone/iPod Touch at 320x480. The bigger issue is that a .24mm dot pitch is extremely coarse for a mobile device (.24 would be around that of a desktop monitor) - compared again to the iPhone at .16 or so, it doesn't give much room for font anti-aliasing.


      • The bigger issue is that [the DS Lite screens'] .24mm dot pitch is extremely coarse for a mobile device (.24 would be around that of a desktop monitor) - compared again to the iPhone at .16 or so, it doesn't give much room for font anti-aliasing.

        But each pixel has blue, green, and red components side-by-side, so you can get closer to .08 if your reader software uses subpixel [wikipedia.org] antialiasing.

    • Are there no RPG's that have a lot of text for he DS?

      • Someone actually recreated the Lone Wolf paperback RPG as homebrew. It's perfect for this format.
    • Nope, I use it for 7-10 hour plane flights and it reads fine. I use DSReader for top-bottom reading, and when my eyes or hands get tired, switch to the Readmore app to read it like a book. You can change the font, font size, the background/text color, etc until its comfortable to read. I haven't found any homebrew that offers an auto-scroller, but otherwise this is the best handheld reader that I've used.
  • to buy a most hated Christmas Present. Can you imagine a kid getting this, "Yay, a new DS game" "Boo, it's just books."

  • by tuffy ( 10202 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @12:51PM (#26061975) Homepage Journal

    and it'll be like a DS RPG, but with better stories and fewer boss battles.

  • It's already exhausting staring at that thing for hours, especially with Japanese RPGs which already feature a novel's worth of writing to begin with. I can only imagine how uncomfortable it will be trying to read a book with that thing.

    In the very least, I think the DS needs a much higher resolution screen before they start considering anything like this.

  • by objekt ( 232270 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @01:03PM (#26062157) Homepage

    Damn! Sure I can buy it on Ebay, but I speak American.

    • but I speak American.

      You're not supposed to speak to it, or listen to it, you are supposed to *read* it.

      Hell, some folks read Hieroglyphics, Sumerian and Mayan, without being able to speak it.

      Just look at English as a challenge for you to learn how to read another ancient language.

      I don't think that last sentence came out quite right.

  • You have to wonder whether Nintendo's all one company or a fragmentary band communicating by carrier pigeon. The DSi is about to come out and NoE decide to publish a collection of public domain books on cartridge? Wouldn't it be more sensible to charge some nominal fee for an ebook reader program on the DSi store and then let people "beam" books from the intertrons? Come to think of it, the DSi has a browser built in which will merrily read the contents of Project Gutenberg.
    • The DSi is about to come out and NoE decide to publish a collection of public domain books on cartridge?

      Nintendo DSi is the only major handheld video game system whose games are region-locked.

    • I'm sure they'd absolutely LOVE to not sell a single thing to the millions of people who already own a DS or DS Lite, and ONLY sell this to the people who buy a system that won't even exist in the country these books are being sold in for months.

      There's no reason they can't release this, AND do what you're suggesting once the DSi actually, y'know, exists. No reason to ignore possible profit now when it wouldn't interfere with profit later.
  • by Chabil Ha' ( 875116 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @01:06PM (#26062189)

    I imagine that this product is not geared to twitchy eight year old kids, but a bid to capture older generations (35+). First they came out with their memory enhancement games that had broader appeal to non-gamers. This is just another step in that direction.

    • Exactly, the DS ads in the UK all feature famous middle-aged-ish celebrities, and programs like the Jamie Oliver cooking one are aimed squarely at non games players.
      • by hey! ( 33014 )

        It certainly fits in with Nintendo's marketing philosophy, which is to broaden the appeal of its platforms beyond traditional gamers.

        Economy of scale in tech hardware ultimately trumps everything. It doesn't matter how far "behind" you are on tech specs, if you sell enough units eventually you can challenge your competitors in any market segment by any metric they choose.

        • I'd rather have battery life and novel controls that everyone is going to copy next generation than "better graphics".

          How many people were actively looking for touchscreens on things like netbooks before the DS? Motion control before "Revolution" was said to have it?

          • How many people were actively looking for touchscreens on things like netbooks before the DS?

            Anybody who had used a PDA. But back then, they weren't called "netbooks" but "tablet PCs".

  • More details... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kev-san ( 66245 )

    The article submitter (Miracle Jones) just posted a good article on this here [fictioncircus.com].

  • Before they kept selling the same titles over and over again (buy the classic NES games for the SNES, and then again for the GB, and now again on the Virtual Console!) and now they're selling public domain works.

    In all fairness, I guess reissuing old games is better than letting them fade away into obscurity when most people don't have the old systems to legally play old games anymore.

    I just wish Nintendo would focus more on new products. My N64 and Gamecube both gathered dust from not enough quality relea

  • by Thaelon ( 250687 ) on Wednesday December 10, 2008 @01:26PM (#26062525)

    Is anyone else sick of proprietary ebook formats?

    I have an N810 that I bought primarily for an ebook reader since it runs it runs Linux, the theory behind my purchase was someone out there had or would probably would create something that could read most formats, or I could find converters that could convert many things to some format it could read.

    And then Amazon released the kindle with it's ultra-proprietary ultra-PITA format. There's mobi, Microsoft's format, and I'm sure Sony has something since they have a reader, and Sony is the biggest proponent of proprietary formats ever.

    My personally preferred format is OEB [openebook.org] which is really just html with an xml document specifying book information. That FB reader that my N810 uses renders beautifully and pre-populates author/title information for me.

    Does anyone know of a converter for some of the DRMed proprietary formats that convert to OEB? I have Linux (Ubuntu) and windows available to run things on.

    • by Rycross ( 836649 )
      According to wikipedia, the Kindle supports a variety of non-DRMed formats. [wikipedia.org] Wikipedia doesn't have any info on the N810. Going off only my memory (and gut), most of the ebook readers I've seen do support non-DRMed formats. I think that the problem is with publishers.
    • by rlp ( 11898 )

      Baen books offers non-DRM sci-fi e-books (including many free ones). I've been reading the 1632 series on my Nokia 770 tablet. Michael McCollum offers his books (Gibralter Earth, etc.) at his site (http://www.scifi-az.com/) without DRM.

  • Objection! (Score:2, Informative)

    I thought the DS had a lot of interactive books already available. Namely all of the Phoenix Wright series.
    • There is also homebrew of the old-school Lone Wolf paperback choose-your-own adventure RPG. I think there's only 1 or 2 of them, but it's amazing and perfect for the DS, like the PW series.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sparton ( 1358159 )

      Two things:

      1) This is about normal books on the DS, not interactive novels. One is passive, the other is not.

      2) You call four Phoenix Wright games and half a dozen other interesting titles "a lot"? It definitely seems impressive compared to what any other current-gen gaming console or handheld has, but compared to the level of books that are published throughout the world (heck, even compared to the number of book hits each year), that's nothing.

  • I would purchase virtually every book I read from Amazon if I could get it in a format my Nokia N810 can read, but they're determined to lock you into their Kindle, it's pay to play service, and it's proprietary AZW format.

    Does anyone know how to get your purchased kindle books other than wireless delivery, and also, how to convert them (preferably to OEB)?

    I haven't tried yet, but I'm not even sure they'll let me buy an ebook if I don't have a kindle I can tie to my Amazon account for them to send it to.

  • Selling an RSA encrypted cart containing a collection of books in the public domain is hypocrisy at its best. I concur with some of the others in this thread who recommend loading ebooks onto flash cards; I actually bought a handful of DSTT cards from DealExtreme for under $7 each, shipped. I loaded 'em up with a couple of dozen homebrew titles - including the moonshell video player (with an assortment of PD cartoons and short films) and an ebook app. My friends and family will be getting one, as an example
  • The DS is awkward to hold, even more so when it's on its side. The screens hold only a small amount of text. Books are FREE to read at a library, and they don't require electricity!
  • Will they have "David Coperfield?"

    That's "David Coperfield" with one P, by Edmund Wells.

  • "will feature 100 classic books"

    You mean books that they won't have to pay licensing fees for?

User hostile.