Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 19 December 2013

Posted: 18 Dec 2013 09:30 PM PST

Top stories this morning include a fun demo video for a new type of pop-up book, a new law in Italy which could lead to tax breaks on investments in publishing (link), a funny commentary in the current state of library ebooks (link), and a growing movement among parents of young girls to reframe stories with female protagonists (link), and more.

  • tumblr_mnz51bwiDJ1qb0wfxo1_1280[1]Bilbo Baggins is a girl: Until children's books catch up to our daughters, rewrite them. (Slate)
  • Evernote improves note editing, attachments and keyboard support (Android Central)
  • The Future of Indie Publishing (Russell Blake)
  • Help Me, I Love a Writer! (IndieReader)
  • Italy Targets 19 Percent Book Tax Rebate to Promote Readership (TeleRead)
  • Tablets make it impossible for kids to get lost in a story (Quartz)
  • Unlatched or Unglued, It’s All Good (The Digital Shift)
  • Watch a Story Literally Unfold From the Creases of this Kids’ Book (Gizmodo)
  • Welcome to the Internet of Thingies: 61.5% of Web Traffic Is Not Human (The Atlantic)
  • You can read some of the ebooks on some of the ereaders… (Unshelved)


The post The Morning Coffee – 19 December 2013 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

The Txtr Beagle Hits the Market in Hungary, Will Cost 30 Euros

Posted: 18 Dec 2013 01:08 PM PST

It’s txtrbeagle_press06_1-423x500[1]been well over a year since txtr first unveiled the beagle (and about 3 months since I incorrectly proclaimed its death) and txtr has found a telecom willing to take it on.

I have just learned that txtr has signed a deal with the Hungarian subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. txtr has a long history of providing ebookstores for Deutsche Telekom’s various divisions, and now txtr is going to provide hardware as well.

The beagle will be bundled with certain new smartphones (Samsung Galaxy Young, Sony Xperia M, or LG L7 II) as part of a 2 year contract. The subsidized price will be 30 euros (3 times the price that txtr had originally planned to charge).

And for those who don’t want a 2 year contract the beagle will be available separately with a retail price of 60 euros. That  price is going to make it more expensive than a number of ereaders on the German market, so I am not sure that there will be much interest.

But I could be wrong. The beagle was briefly available from txtr earlier this year, and it was selling for 59 euros (the same price as the Amazon Kindle). Sales were reportedly good enough that they were the deciding factor in the decision to carry the beagle in Hungary.


The beagle, which is really more of a smartphone accessory than an ereader, is equipped with a 5″ E-ink screen, Bluetooth, and is powered by a couple AAA batteries. It’s capable of holding 5 titles at a time, and is designed to work in partnership with the txtr app for Android and iPhone. The beagle cannot work without the txtr app, and that is because it cannot actually display ebooks. Instead txtr’s reading app has to convert an ebook from an Epub or PDF file to a collection of page images.

The Inkcase E-ink smartphone case I reviewed last month uses basically the same trick, albeit with a different set of hardware. The trick does work, to a limited degree, but it also comes at the expense of any of the more useful features found in most ebook readers like annotation, book marks, and a TOC.

Deutsche Telekom will be supporting the beagle in Hungary with an ebookstore that has a catalog of over 900,000 titles, including 3,000 titles in Magyar (the Hungarian language).

The post The Txtr Beagle Hits the Market in Hungary, Will Cost 30 Euros appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Dilbert, Pearls before Swine, and the Digital / Pen and Ink Grudge Match (video)

Posted: 18 Dec 2013 11:47 AM PST

We live sstephen pastis pen ink comicand work in an age where it is possible to create, edit, and distribute a new content without a physical copy ever existing, so it might surprise you to learn that not everyone uses the latest tools. Some, in fact, use tools that are positively Victorian.

Take Stephen Pastis, for example. As you’ll see in the following video, he draws his Pearls before Swine comic strip in ink on paper. Just to put this in a writing perspective, this would be like a writer choosing to forgo even a typewriter and instead use a pen and a pad of paper to write stories. I have trouble picturing it; how about you?

And in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t have to be that way.  This video, which was sponsored by Wacom (they make graphics tablets), also stars Scott Adams. He draws his Dilbert comic strip on a Cintiq Companion.

TBH, this video is a humorous advert for Wacom, but I thought it was worth watching just to show how dated some current tech really is. Sure, Pastis’s method works, but it takes so much time and uses so much in the way of resources.

The next time that you think publishing is inefficient, just think of how much a comic can cost.

The post Dilbert, Pearls before Swine, and the Digital / Pen and Ink Grudge Match (video) appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Kindle for Android Updated with Collections, New Option to Enable/Disable Publisher Formatting

Posted: 18 Dec 2013 08:33 AM PST

kindle itunes logoAmazon rolled out a new update for the Kindle Android app yesterday. In addition to the usual bug fixes, the app also gained a couple new features, some improvements which you might not notice, and at least one feature that took me several minutes to find.

The Kindle Android app now supports the collection feature which lets readers organize their ebooks, magazines and documents into directories (I’m old fashioned). The app also gained better support for the accessibility features in later versions of Android, including both Talkback and Explore by Touch.

The changelog also mentions a prompt that asks you to rate an ebook when you’ve finished it. I’m not sure what Amazon changed, but I do know that some version of this feature was already present in a previous version of the Kindle app; I remember writing about it.

And then there’s the biggie. According to the changelog, the Kindle app will now let you choose to turn on or off the publisher’s font choices. that’s not quite true. I’ve been playing with this feature this morning; it’s the one that was hidden and it took me some time to figure out that I had to press the Android menu button to see the menu where this option had been placed.

Edit: And now the option appears to have vanished after I reset the Kindle app. Weird.

Update: If you don’t have the menu button I mention, look in the upper right corner of the Kindle app. If you see an icon resembling 3 dots, press it. That is the menu where I found this option (confirmed on a Sero 7 Pro).

This option doesn’t just enable a publisher’s font; it also turns on and off the publisher designed formatting. Turning it on radically changed  the formatting of A Song of Fire and Ice.
The font changed, of course, but the screen margin also got wider and the the line spacing increased.

Here is a pair of before and after screenshots:

before after

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but this is a new feature. And while I don’t care to use a publisher’s formatting (it often gets in the way of reading fiction), it’s still a good addition to the app.

Judging based on how often the topic comes up over at MobileRead, lots of readers want to use publisher formatting.  I can’t recall how many times I have read a complaint about Aldiko or some other reading app not supporting publisher formatting (or rather the reader didn’t know the option had to be enabled), so I am sure that Amazon has had similar requests.

Edit: And as a reader reminded me, controlled is often very useful for nonfiction where the text and illustrations have to fit just so or the reading experience could come up short.

You can find the app in Google Play and other fine establishments.


• Organize your books, magazines and documents into collections
• Accessibility improvements for Talkback and Explore by Touch
• Turn publisher fonts on or off
• Rate the book before you go


The post Kindle for Android Updated with Collections, New Option to Enable/Disable Publisher Formatting appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Apple’s 2013 Best-Seller List Suggests That Apple is a Friend of Big Publishers

Posted: 18 Dec 2013 05:53 AM PST

As the year iBooks-BookShelf[1]draws to a close, Apple releases their ”Best of 2013” lists for iTunes and iBooks. The iBooks lists include both editor’s choice and best-sellers, and they reveals some startling differences from the lists that Amazon revealed a couple days ago.

You can only find Apple’s list inside iTunes, and since I can’t copy and paste the list that makes it rather hard to share and discuss. But I took a few minutes and typed up the 15 titles on the Fiction best-seller list.

As you can see below, the list includes both titles found on Amazon’s lists as well as a few surprise additions. Dan Brown’s Inferno led the list, but after that Apple’s list diverged sharply from Amazon’s:

  1. fifty+shades+of+grey[1]Inferno
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey
  3. Gone Girl
  4. Entwined with You
  5. The Great Gatsby
  6. Fifty Shades Darker
  7. Fifty Shades Freed
  8. The Cuckoo’s Calling
  9. The Fault in Our Stars
  10. Safe Haven
  11. And the Mountain Echoed
  12. A Song of Fire and Ice Omnibus
  13. The Hit
  14. Bared to You
  15. Six Years

A couple details jumped out at me. For one thing, the 50 Shades trilogy is on this list but not Amazon’s, leading me to wonder whether Amazon filtered that series from their list (they’ve done it before) or perhaps iBooks has more male customers (female customers would have tended to buy that series in 2012).

But the more important story here is that there are no indie pub titles on this list. This stands in stark contrast to Amazon’s lists, which included no less than 9 titles from indie authors (out of 40 titles) as well as other titles from small presses.

In fact, all of the titles on Apple’s fiction best-seller list and nonfiction list were published by one of the Big 5/6 US publishers; there aren’t even any titles from small publishers, much less indie authors.

I’m calling this out specifically because some in publishing see Apple as potentially being a strong ally against Amazon, but if this list is any indication then Apple is really only a friend of the major publishers. The small fry aren’t getting the sales and marketing attention in iBooks that would be needed to make it into the best-seller list, and that could translate to lower sales over all.

Yes, I know that Apple has launched a promo section in iBooks in some markets which focuses on Smashwords, but that effort doesn’t seem to be translating into sales. It’s also a far too specific promotion which doesn’t include indie titles from other sources.

In a way, this should come as no surprise. Amazon’s self-pub option requires a web browser and an internet connection. Apple asks that an indie author first buy a Mac before they upload any ebooks. If you cannot afford an Apple computer then Apple won’t sully their hands by dealing with you; they want you to use a distributor (Ingrams, Smashwords, etc).

Amazon is still the better friend to small presses and indie publishers. Or am I wrong?

Best of 2013

Apple Insider

The post Apple’s 2013 Best-Seller List Suggests That Apple is a Friend of Big Publishers appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment