Monday, 25 November 2013

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 26 November 2013

Posted: 25 Nov 2013 09:30 PM PST

Top stories this morning include the second part of a an iPad in the classroom case study (link), longform journalism Byliner expands via acquisition (link), a critique of the Kindle HDX’s limitations as a work device (link), another look at parents reading to kids (link), and more.

  • 6a00d8341c5dea53ef019b013f317c970cAre Book Machines the Right Fit for Indies? (PW)
  • In Its First Acquisition, Byliner Buys Seesaw, The Startup Led By CoTweet Founders (TechCrunch)
  • Instapaper for Android: Now Optimized for Tablets (Instapaper)
  • iPads In Schools | A Case Study, Part 2: Growing Pains (TeleRead)
  • Kindle Fire HDX: The business person's frenemy (GeekWire)
  • Kindle Paperwhite 2 Jailbreak Hack (The eBook Reader Blog)
  • Parents not keen on reading ebooks to kids; teens still prefer paperbacks: study (CTV News)
  • Retailing: Do Trade Books on College Campuses Have a Future? (PW)
  • What's happening at Bloomberg is the logical extension of a paywall-focused media business (GigaOm)
  • Why You Can't Click "Publish" (Ideas and Thoughts)

The post The Morning Coffee – 26 November 2013 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Polish Telecom Play Partners With Legimi, Launches an eBook Subscription Service

Posted: 25 Nov 2013 03:39 PM PST

The Polish telecom playPlay introduced a new service today. This firm, which is the 4th largest telecom in Poland, is now offering a paid ebook subscription service to their customers.

The Czytelnia (or Reading Room?) service costs 29.90 Polish zloty (~$10 USD) each month and offers access to a catalog of 3,000 titles.  Readers have a choice of apps for Windows Phone, iPad/iPhone, Android, and Windows 8 and can register up to 4 devices. The apps support offline reading, and a reader can also transfer the ebooks to an ereader if they prefer.

I can’t find clear details on the number of titles available (public domain vs commercial ebooks), but I do know that Play’s partner boasts that they have 2,500 titles in Epub, Mobi, and PDF.


The Czytelnia service was developed in partnership with the Polish ebook startup Legimi, which offers its own similar service for 19.90 zloty per month. This name might be familiar to you; it briefly popped up in the English language tech news in late 2011 and then again in December 2012. It was tipped as being one of the hot prospects for the title of “Spotify for ebooks”. Obviously that hasn’t happened, which is itself a rather interesting story.

If I had to guess, I would bet that Legimi has yet to succeed because they were laboring under the same handicap as 24Symbols, Bookmate, and other non-US ebook startups. None of those startups are based in the US, the one country with the biggest ebook market and the 5 largest sources of ebooks.

Tell me, what are the 3 most successful ebook subscription services today? I would say  Oyster, eReatah, and Scribd (assuming we exclude Kindle Owner’s Lending Library).

It might sound odd, but at this point I am beginning to think those 3 startups all owed their success to where they launched (to some small degree).  I can’t help but wonder if the lack of language and cross-border legal complications helped smooth the way, and I also think that being located in the US lowered their travel costs when they went to negotiate with HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and other US publishers. These kind of deals can take a year or more, with numerous meetings.  A flight across the US costs about a tenth as much as one across the Atlantic, and that adds up.

Then again i could be wrong. But if this trend is real then it could mean that the US will continue to be the center of innovative ebook enterprises for the near future. Thoughts?

Czytelnia W\Play


The post Polish Telecom Play Partners With Legimi, Launches an eBook Subscription Service appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Black Friday Gadget Deals

Posted: 25 Nov 2013 01:37 PM PST

The insanity 5968465045_83f2d9e94b[1]of the Black Friday weekend is rapidly approaching, and when you’re ready to take a break from practicing the 7 essential nerve pinches of the successful shopper I have some gadget deals to share.

First up is a deal which ends on Wednesday. Best Buy has last year’s Nook Glow on sale for $49. it’s only available in store.

And the next item is not strictly a sale, but – B&N is selling their tablets cheap; you can find the Nook HD and Nook HD+ for $129 and $149, respectively.

BTW, there is also going to be a fair number of not bad Android tablets priced under $50 this year. They might be worth checking out; just don’t expect very much.

Click the links to see the leaked Black Friday adverts for more deals.

Amazon is having deals all week, including deals that start every 20 minutes. I would check their Black Friday Deals page regularly.

Best Buy will have a cornucopia of sales starting at 6pm Thursday night, including a $50 Kindle, a $100 Kindle Fire HD, the iPad 2 at $299, iPad Air for $50 off, and other decent deals.

  • Apple iPod Touch (5th gen) w/32GB for $250
  • Apple iPad 2 w/16GB for $300
  • Apple iPad Air for $450
  • $100 iTunes gift card for $85
  • Amazon Kindle for $50
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD (last year’s) for $100
  • HP Split 13 2-in-1 tablet for $500
  • HP Chromebook 14 (1st gen) plus $30 Google Play credit for $229
  • Microsoft Surface RT (1st gen) for $200
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 for $150

Fry’s opens at midnight Friday morning and will have the Surface RT, an unidentified Android table for $47, and other mobile gadgets on sale.

  • Surface RT with bk case for $229
  • Asus 14″ laptop  for $174

Dell doesn’t have any stores, so you can find their deals online.

  • Dell Venue 8 Android tablet for $130
  • Dell Venue 8 Pro Windows 8 tablet for $300

Should you somehow become horribly lost on Friday and find yourself at a Microsoft Store, you’ll find the Surface RT on sale. You can also find the deals online, including early sales.

  • Asus Transformer Book T100 2-in-1 tablet for $299
  • Microsoft Surface RT for $199 (32GB) or $379 (64GB)
  • Discounts on Xbox 360, games, headphones, speakers, and more

If you’re at Toys R Us on Thursday at 5pm you’ll find the Kindle Fire HD at $20 off. You’ll also find a refurbished Archos Arnova 7 (yech) and a gift card offer Samsung tablets.

  • Refurb Archos Arnova 7 Android tablet for $40
  • Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9 for $180
  • Polaroid V7 for $49
  • Acer Gateway 10″ touchscreen Windows laptop w/Celeron CPU for $280
  • $20 gift card when you buy a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7, 8, or 10 inch tablet for $160 to $300

The best deal at Target will be available at 8pm Thursday. It’s going to be either the Nook HD for $79 or the iPad Air. Do you want Apple or Android?

  • B&N Nook HD (Snow, 8GB) for $79
  • iPad Air plus $100 gift card for $479
  • iPad Mini plus $75 gift card for $399
  • iPod Touch plus $50 gift card (retail)

Walmart is going start their sales at 6pm Thursday. They’ll have last year’s iPad Mini at a decent price, the Nabi 2 at a good price, and HP’s new bottom of the barrel Intel Android tablet for $89. I would only get the latter because I know that it can be returned.

Starting Thursday night at 8pm Staples is going to have the Kindle Fire at a good price, but please note that we’re not talking about the Kindle Fire HD. They’ll also have the Nexus 7 at a decent sale price and thumb drives will also be marked down.

  • Amazon Kindle Fire for $79
  • Google Nexus 7 w/16GB for $199
  • HP Pavilion Chromebook (1st gen) for $180
  • Dell Venue 8 Pro Windows 8.1 tablet for $280
  • Toshiba Encore Windows 8.1 tablet for $300

Starting some time on Friday, Verizon will have their 7″ Android tablet free with activation and a 2 year contract. They’ll also offer a decent discount on 10″ Samsung tablets.

  • Verizon Ellipsis 7″ Android tablet for free w/new 2-year activation
  • $150 off any Samsung 10″ tablet
  • Jawbone Jambox Bluetooth speaker for $100

Liliputing, DearAuthor, and others

image by Andypiper

The post Black Friday Gadget Deals appeared first on The Digital Reader.

New Leaked Benchmark Confirms New BNTV800 Nook Tablet With Tegra 4 Chip

Posted: 25 Nov 2013 08:23 AM PST

Remember that newnookshd[1] Nook Android tablet that my sources said would be launched in October but B&N said would not be launched this year? B&N might not be planning to ship the tablet this year, but they do have it under development and it just showed up on a benchmark website.

According to GFX Bench the new Nook device, which I am calling the Nook X, will have the model number BNTV800 and run Android 4.2.2 on an Nvidia Tegra 4 chip.

There’s very little other information available, but I can tell you that the CPU speed registered at 1.8GHz. I also know that the screen resolution is 1620 x 1008, but I can’t tell you about the screen size.

That’s not a standard resolution, so there’s really no way tell how big B&N’s new tablet really is. While it is possible that B&N might have a tablet with a nominal screen size of 1620 x 1200 and decided to reserve the missing 192 pixels for onscreen buttons, I would not bet on it.


And I wouldn’t bother trying to guess the screen size from the model number; one has nothing to do with the other. The new Nook Glow, for example, has a model number of BNVR500-A, even though it has a 6″ screen. in fact, the only relevant detail I can deduce from the model number is that this is a tablet (bnTv800, the T is for tablet).

The Nook X has yet to be confirmed by B&N but past leaks have given us a few hints. I know that B&N has commissioned a for Dummies book, and I know that a product listing for a BT keyboard showed up on the B&N website. I still haven’t managed to get my hands on either item but they tended to support B&N’s past statements that they had a new tablet in the works.

Update: That B&N branded BT keyboard is now available on the B&N website.

This new model hasn’t shown up on the FCC website yet, and I have not found it on any other resource website like Google’s list of supported Android devices. But I am sure it will show up in short order.

The Droid Guy

The post New Leaked Benchmark Confirms New BNTV800 Nook Tablet With Tegra 4 Chip appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Acquires Audiobook Catalog from Bankrupt AudioGo

Posted: 25 Nov 2013 07:21 AM PST

Amazon solidifiedaudiogo their position in audiobook publishing today.

The Sunday Times (paywall) reports that Amazon has licensed the back catalog from the bankrupt audiobook publisher AudioGo. This firm had gone into administration last month and clearly will not be coming out of it.

Update: The Bookseller reports that this deal only includes 5,000 titles, and that it won’t take effect until February.

AudioGo was one the leading audiobook publisher in the UK. Originally known as BBC Audiobooks, it was spun off in 2010 and sold to a group of private investors and venture capitalists. AudioGo currently has a catalog of over 10,000 titles, including audiobooks from leading authors like Dick Francis, J.K.Rowling, Stephen King, and more.

The Bath-based firm went bust after financial irregularities  were uncovered, resulting in  the closure of its UK offices and the sale of its US operations. The US operations were sold to Downpour, an audiobook retailer that AudioGo acquired in late 2012. Downpour also got the US rights to the AudioGo catalog, which suggests that Amazon only has the UK (and possibly global) rights.

At this point all we know is that Amazon has acquired the catalog; there is no info on whether Amazon will also acquire the business, records, or production facilities.

Amazon already owns a couple audiobook publishers here in the US (Audible and Brilliance Audio), but I don’t know about the UK. There is an Audible UK, but there’s no sign that it produces its own content. A more general acquisition could suit Amazon’s interests.

Amazon bought Audible in 2008 for $300 million. It is the world's largest producer and retailer of audiobooks and the exclusive supplier of audiobooks in iTunes.

The post Amazon Acquires Audiobook Catalog from Bankrupt AudioGo appeared first on The Digital Reader.

B&N Launches New Nook Windows 8 App – Now Available in 32 Countries

Posted: 25 Nov 2013 06:47 AM PST

Barnes & Noble hashero_windows8_101613[1] long been promising to expand internationally, but aside from a Nook Store in the UK that promise has only been a promise. That changed today.

B&N has rolled out a new version of the Nook app for Windows 8, and along with the app they are opening up new branches of the Nook Store. Readers in 32 countries (Australia, Canada, the US, and 29 European countries) can now buy ebooks, digital comics, magazines, and newspapers from B&N.

Assuming they have a Windows 8 PC, that is.

The Nook Store is not mentioned as being available internationally via B&N’s other apps, and there is no news today about an international launch of the Nook hardware.  B&N had recently launched an updated Nook Glow and delayed plans for a new tablet, but they have not shared any info on possible retail partners to go along with the expanded Nook Store.

This could be a sign that the international effort is less a B&N program and more the work of Microsoft.

Microsoft does own a chunk of Nook Media, B&N’s ebook sub, and B&N has said that their international plans would go forward under the auspices of their partner. At last report B&N planned to expand the Nook Store into 10 countries by the end of the year. I think they met that goal.

On a related note, the Nook app for Windows 8 has been updated a few times in the past 9 months or so, which is more than can be said for the Nook apps and NookStudy apps for Windows 7 and OSX.

B&N has been talking about their international expansion plans since early 2012, but they have been planning for this day since at least September 2011. As I reported in early 2012, the Nook Store has been selling ebooks in a multitude of languages for over 2 years now – more languages than either Kobo or Amazon, in fact, including some surprising additions like Urdu, Afrikaans, Finnish and Polish. (For an ebookstore which was only available in the US, yes, those were surprises.)

The Nook Store was even set up so the number of supported languages could be readily expanded. You can find more details here.

Of course, just because the Nook Store is available in a country doesn’t mean that the selection is any good. The newly expanded Nook Store still only offers a limited selection in some languages; for example there are fewer than 600 titles in Polish, and another 600 in Finnish. And while there are around 40 thousand titles in German, the Italian language catalog is limited to only 19,000 titles.

The Nook Store is facing stiff competition in much of Europe, with Amazon, Kobo, Google, and Apple all operating ebookstores or planning to open ebookstores in many countries. And then there’s the local competition, and the white label ebookstores supported by OverDrive and txtr.

Still, this is a good start for B&N/Nook Media, and it finally moves them out of being a US-centric content store.

The post B&N Launches New Nook Windows 8 App – Now Available in 32 Countries appeared first on The Digital Reader.

When an Editor Matters

Posted: 25 Nov 2013 03:30 AM PST

a guest post by Rich Adin, a professional editor

It isn't too 0307271609.01._PC_SCLZZZZZZZ_[1]often that the worth of a good editor is hinted at by a reviewer, but when it happens, it stands out.

In "The Surprising Empress" (The New York Review of Books, December 5, 2013, pp. 18-20), Jonathan Mirsky reviewed Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang. I have always been fascinated by Chinese history, so the article caught my attention (I subscribe to the print edition of the NYRB and read the articles in print, not online). This looked like a book I would add to my future list of books to buy in hardcover, until…

Yes, the until raises its "ugly head" in this quote from the article (p. 20):

I have one small and two serious criticisms of Chang's usually impressive biography. She occasionally lapses into slang or uses the wrong word. A woman "sashays" into a room, British merchants "showcase" a railway, a "roller-coaster of events" is said to have disturbed the emperor, and a concubine is described as a former "high-class call-girl." "Winsome" is only one of the words misused.

Mirsky goes on to write:

More serious is the matter of sources.…Chang has drawn on the "colossal documentary pool" of twelve million documents in the First Historical Archives of China, which have to do with the reign of Cixi.

It would be useful to say something about these documents and how they are organized,…[R]eaders would like to know why she has chosen this or that source. I liked this biography, but have been troubled as a reviewer because the sources are not easy to check.

What Mirsky complains about are editorial failings. The publisher, Knopf, may or may not have hired a professional editor. Based on the first complaint of wrong words and slang, I wonder if Knopf did hire a professional editor familiar with American language usage (the market/target audience, at least for the reviewed version, is Americans) to copyedit the book. The second complaint, about the sources, makes me wonder if the book had undergone any professional developmental editing.

Or did Knopf take the easy path and simply hire the least-expensive editor it could find and let the author do as she pleased?

Basically, the review, which was written by Jonathan Mirsky, a well-known historian of China who was formerly the East Asia Editor of The Times of London, is complimentary because the book corrects 100 years of misinformation about Cixi's reign. But for me, who is not a well-versed historian of China and who cannot read between the lines to determine that Chang's book is a respectable addition to the repertoire, Mirsky damns the book by his quoted comments. I see, instead of a great addition to the history of China literature, a book that is questionable.

It is questionable not only because of the use of slang and wrong/inappropriate word choices, but because the sources are not verifiable or accessible. The message I receive is that neither the publisher Knopf nor the author Chang cared enough about either the book or the reader to ensure accuracy and provability. When I edit a book and see sources that cannot be accessed or identified as dominating the references, I tell the author that it reflects badly on the substance of the material. As a reader, how can I be certain that the same indifference was not given to the text?

In Chang's case, the problem goes a bit deeper. When I am editing a book, I at least know it is being professionally edited. Granted, a consumer wouldn't know, and if the author doesn't follow my advice and correct the references or change incorrect word choices, the book would appear to the consumer as Chang's book appears to me — unedited.

Editors do matter. The choice of editor does matter. The type of editing does matter. A good working relationship between author and editor does matter. And it is vitally important that an author not believe that each word he or she has written is sacrosanct and cannot be changed for the better. I'm sorry to say that in my career I have encountered several authors who wrongly believed that what they had written was already perfect and that my role as editor was simply to make sure there were no typographical errors.

There is a dual failure in Chang's book. The first failure is that of the publisher. The publisher clearly should have had Chang's book developmentally edited by a professional editor who has mastery over American language and usage. I would like to think that the sources problem would not have passed by such an editor. The publisher should have followed up the developmental editing with copyediting, again done by a professional editor with mastery of American language and usage. Many of the wrong word choice and slang problems might (would) have been avoided.

The second failure in Chang's book is that, if the book was professionally developmental edited and copyedited, either the publisher did not insist on Chang following, or at least seriously considering, the suggestions of the editors (again, assuming there were editors involved) and offering justification for not following the suggestions, or Chang failed to seriously consider the suggestions on her own. It is not for the editors to be the experts on China history or the reign of Cixi, but it is for the editors to be the experts on word choice and source accessibility. (Again, all this rests on the assumption that whatever editing there was, was done by professional editors with mastery of American language usage.)

As I have written above, it is questionable whether the book was edited. But assuming it was edited, there is one other matter that could be problematic: What were the instructions to the editor?

Several factors actively impede a high-quality edit. These factors include schedule, author cooperativeness, publisher and author instructions that define the task for the editor to perform, and fee. We have discussed these many times, and the limitations each of these factors imposes do not change. It is difficult to obtain a high-quality edit when you pay a pauper wage and demand an unrealistic turnaround. (I recently was asked to edit a book on a schedule that would have required editing 116 manuscript pages each day. The material was very complex and a realistic schedule would have been 25 to 30 pages a day at most. I declined, but I do know that an editor who agreed to the schedule was hired — and was being paid less than I had been offered, which was not a celebratory amount.)

Which of these factors was present in Chang's case, I do not know. I suspect, based on the reviewer's comments, that several were present. Because I know that quality editing by a professional editor is important, perhaps more so in a book like Chang's than in some other books, the reviewer's comments are the red flags that tell me "do not buy this book" — and so I won't.

Editors do matter and the right editor for the right job matters greatly.

reposted with permission from An American Editor

The post When an Editor Matters appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment