Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 18 December 2013

Posted: 17 Dec 2013 09:42 PM PST

Top stories this morning include a fascinating brain teaser from xkcd (link), a rant about the monetarily-inspired addition to Dragon Tattoo trilogy (link), a look at how website traffic is shifting from search to social networks (link), and more.

  • clark[1]At what point in human history were there too many books to be able to read them all in one lifetime? (xkcd What If)
  • The Girl With The Bank Account Tattoo (Mike Cane's xBlog)
  • In Japan, public libraries embrace digital tech with NFCs (Springwise)
  • Launching open value-added bundles in Italy (pbook+ebook) (FutureBook)
  • New Readability: Focus, Do Less, Enjoy More (Readability Blog)
  • Search Traffic Drops, Social Traffic Doubles (TNW)
  • Shit Book Snobs Say: Translations (BOOK RIOT)
  • Shut up and start blogging, Clark Kent (JIMROMENESKO.COM)
  • The Terrifying Permanence of the Internet (Medium)

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Apple Adds Gifting options to iBookstore

Posted: 17 Dec 2013 03:08 PM PST

Just apple-ibooks2-537x307[1]in time for the last of your Christmas shopping, Apple has added a new gifting option in the iBookstore. Now a realtive or friend will no longer have to give an iTunes gift card to a book lover; they can give a specific title.

Customers can now elect to “Gift this Book” rather than buying it directly. The process works the same as in iTunes, which has had this feature for some years now. It’s even been available for iOS apps since 2010, but it wasn’t until today that Apple’s ebookstore joined the fun.


Gifting in the iBookstore works the same as in iTunes. Just choose the tile you would like to give, the gifting option from the dropdown menu (on OSX) or the Share button (on iOS), and then simply add the recipient's email, the sender's name, an optional  brief message, and the date that the gift should arrive.

Like all of Apple's other content stores, you can only gift an ebook to someone in the same country as you—there's currently no support for gifting internationally. This is going to be a downer for those of us who, thanks to this new invention called the Interwebs, have friends in other countries.


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Microcenter Reaches New Low with $40 Android Tablet

Posted: 17 Dec 2013 02:03 PM PST

When moxx2l5WTJFTuKVbvwT6OaQ[1]Datawind announced the US release of the Ubislate 7Ci Android tablet yesterday I knew it wouldn’t be long before a competitor released an even cheaper tablet. And now Microcenter has.

The Azpen A700 is the most basic of 7″ Android tablets. With a single core CPU, VGA camera, and 4GB of Flash storage, this tablet is a steal at $40. (No, seriously, I would deeply appreciate it if someone would steal the one I have.)

The A700 originally shipped about a month ago. It runs Android 4.2 on a 1.2 GHz CPU with 512MB RAM, Wifi, and a microSD card slot. It also has a speaker, microphone, and a g-sensor. Weight is estimated at .77 lbs, and battery life is specced at 4 hours.

There’s really not much to read in the Microcenter listing, but early user reports confirm that this tablet has Google Play as well as the rest of the standard Google apps. My source also noted that this is a rather ugly and bulky tablet which seems to be convinced that it is a smartphone.  That same early user says that the 7″ screen isn’t too awful given the price and resolution (800 x 480).

The A700 is only available in Microcenter stores, and that’s going to make it rather hard to acquire. But if you do get one you might want to install a replacement firmware. This tablet is the subject of a thread at XDA Forums where it has already been rooted.


So should you get this tablet?

I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you have to get a tablet in this price range then the A700 is definitely a better value than the Ubislate 7Ci. The A700 is sold by a retailer that has a not unreasonable return policy, and it has Google Play. That counts for a lot, trust me, because it makes the tablet more useful and because says that the A700 met a certain minimum standard in order to get Google Play certification. The Ubislate 7Ci did not, so I would be willing to bet it is inferior.

And if you don’t live within a reasonable driving distance of a Microcenter store, you might also want to look at the $50 tablet that Chris meadows found at Office Depot and wrote about on Teleread.



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Readmill Expands Partner Network with 4 Indie Reading Apps

Posted: 17 Dec 2013 11:16 AM PST

Amazon’s next ebook acquisition isreadmill[1] back in the press again today with the news that they’ve formed partnerships with 4 new reading apps.

Readers who are using Marvin (for the iPad and iPhone), Bookinist (OSX), Librarus (web browsers), and The Floating Book (iPad) can now transfer their ebooks to and from their Readmill account. (Marvin actually added this feature close to 2 weeks ago, but it only crossed my desk last night.)

These 4 reading apps are joining a growing network of over 90 retailers, self-pub services, app developers, and publishing companies that have all elected to help each of their customers combine a customer’s ebook purchases into a single location. The resulting personal libraries are accessible from multiple reading apps, including Readmill’s own apps for Android and iOS. Readmill’s partners are a diverse bunch of companies including publishers like Penguin UK, ebookstores like Feedbooks, metrics apps like ReadMap, and even self-pub services like Tomely.

The 4 reading apps making the news today include Marvin, one of the leading reading apps for iOS, The Floating Book, which offers an “adjusted” reading experience that is designed to reduce problems with motion sickness, Librarus, a platform agnostic reading app for your web browser, and Bookinist, a DRM-free reading app for OSX.

So far as I know these 4 reading apps represent the first partners who aren’t joining as sources of ebooks (whether DRMed or DRM-free) or as apps that enhance/support your (paper or digital) reading experience, and thus they represent a shift in Readmill’s plans. Up until yesterday Readmill could be viewed as the end point of a network of suppliers, but today they have become a major node in an indie ebook network.

It’s also a pretty nifty way for the reading apps to add support for shared cloud storage, isn’t it?

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New Estimates Show That Amazon’s eBook Market Share is Shrinking in Germany

Posted: 17 Dec 2013 08:18 AM PST

Ask Tolino-Shine-300x199[1]most publishing industry pundits and they’ll tell you that Amazon dominates 4 ebook markets: US, UK, Germany, and Australia. If current trends continue that list could be knocked down to 3.

The market research firm GfK has released a few details from their latest report on the German book market. I don’t have the full report, sadly, just the driblets shared with the German-language press, but it does not present a pretty picture for Amazon.

GfK is estimating that Amazon’s share of the German ebook market slipped to 43% in the third quarter from 48% in the second (source). Their report also says that ebooks accounted for 5% of the German book market in the first half of 2013; this is over twice as much as 2012, when ebooks accounted for an estimated 2.4% of the market.

There is also mention that ebook prices are averaging 20% lower than print book prices, and that more consumers are starting to buy directly from publishers. There weren’t any specific details on that point, though.

The Tolino consortium, which is the second largest ebook platform in Germany, has siezed on this as great news. Deutsche Telekom has an article posted on their website which boasts that Tolino accounts for 37% of the German ebook market. They don’t explain where they got this detail and I’m not sure that GfK released it, so we probably want to take it with a grain of salt.

tolino-tab-7[1]Tolino initially launched in March of this year with a generic looking ereader and a plan: to beat Amazon. Four media retailers and Deutsche Telekom decided to combine their ebook efforts and share a single ebook platform while still operating competing ebookstores. At the time they had an estimated 35%  to 40% of the ebook market (it depends on who you ask).

In the nearly 9 months since launch, Tolino has sold a reported half a million Tolino Shine ereaders, released a pair of tablets, and managed to hold on to their market share as the ebook market nearly doubled in size. But one thing they have not managed to do was take market share away from Amazon. Someone else is doing that, but I don’t have specific details as to who it was.

The leading candidates include Apple, Google, and Kobo, and it is difficult to guess which one is coming out ahead.

Any thoughts?

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Amazon Drops Minimum Payment Threshold for Indie Titles

Posted: 17 Dec 2013 05:59 AM PST

Amazon kdp-logo-stacked-a[1]has an early Christmas present for indie authors, and like most of Amazon’s innovations it is going to gall some legacy publishers.

The retail giant sent out an email yesterday to KDP authors and publishers with some good news. According to the screen shot I saw (and confirmed online), payments for ebooks sold in the Kindle Store will now be sent out on a monthly basis, 60 days after a given month ends. Amazon is no longer going to require a minimum payment threshold. Instead payments from each of the Kindle Stores will be processed automatically (with the exception of the Brazilian Kindle Store).

Amazon has always managed more timely payments than legacy publishers, some of which make royalty payments to authors twice a year (if you’re lucky), and now Amazon is going a step better.

My only puzzlement today is why this took so long. Amazon announced a similar change to their publishing division’s payment processing back in March 2013. That was when Amazon Publishing announced that they would be sending royalty checks monthly instead of quarterly, in much the same way that I get my Amazon affiliate payments on a monthly basis.

Amazon has confirmed the change in payment processing on the KDP website.

Thanks, Tristan!



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