Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 29 January 2014

Posted: 28 Jan 2014 09:30 PM PST

Top stories this Wednesday morning include a satirical justification for ebooks being superior to paper books (link), a gripe about how paper books are better (link), HarperCollins’s misstep in reporting their own book listings as pirated content (link), and more.

  • Apple to close down, because the company is just so sick of analysts (Revert to Saved)
  • Google+ Explore turns misunderstood network into social Reader replacement (SlashGear)
  • I Know, I Know… but Still! (A Different E-Readers vs Print Rant) (The Trek BBS)
  • Jason Calacanis launches Inside, a mobile news-curation app powered by humans (GigaOm)
  • The Mac at 30: what publishers can learn about innovation, obsolescence, and persistence (Talking New Media)
  • Mainframe Bookselling and Internet Commerce (PWxyz)
  • Medium, Evan Williams's Post-Twitter Media Startup, Raises $25 Million Round (Re/code)
  • Mystery as HarperCollins Hits Apple With Agatha Christie Piracy Claims (TorrentFreak)
  • The superiority of eBooks over paper books (John L. Monk)
  • Vanity Press WinePress Out of Business (PW)
  • What Do Readers Want? (Dear Author)
  • Why I'll Never Love My Kindle (Daniel McFadin’s Other Blog)

The post The Morning Coffee – 29 January 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Epic Launches New Kids eBook Subscription Service in a Very Crowded Market

Posted: 28 Jan 2014 01:11 PM PST

The US epic logosubscription ebook market has grown quite crowded with Scribd, Oyster serving the general trade market and Reading Rainbow, BookBoard, Sesame Street, and others serving the kids market, but as I look over the press release sitting in my inbox I think there’s room for one more competing service.

Epic, a new startup with $1.4 million in capital, launched their ebook subscription service today. Their service is only available on the iPad, and it offers access to around 2 thousand from a variety of publishers, including S&S, Kids Can Press, Lerner Publishing Group, and Open Road Integrated Media.

That is a larger selection of titles than most* of Epic’s competitors in the kids market, and they are available at a quite reasonable price of $10 a month. Yes, that is about twice as expensive as Reading Rainbow, but given that the latter has a much smaller catalog the extra cost could be worth it.

But is this a better deal than Kindle Free Time Unlimited? That would depend on whether you have an iPad, and want to pay $10 a month just for books, or have a Kindle Fire, and want to pay $5 to $10 a month for access to a catalog of “thousands of the most popular books, games, apps, and shows”.


It’s still too early to say whether the service will succeed, but it is clear that by following in the footsteps of Netflix and signing deals with major publishers (rather than developing the ebooks independently) Epic has an advantage over their direct competition.

But along with that advantage Epic is also saddled with the same disadvantage as Netflix; both services are subject to the foibles of their suppliers. Netflix (and its customers) in particular has suffered at the hands of the major media conglomerates and their capricious policies of making content available and then removing it. Let’s hope Epic won’t have the same problem.

The post Epic Launches New Kids eBook Subscription Service in a Very Crowded Market appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Rumors of Amazon’s Gaming Console Continue to Leak, Torturing Bloggers Everywhere

Posted: 28 Jan 2014 10:09 AM PST

Rumors amazon_instant_video_google_tv_1-580x326have been circling since September 2012 that Amazon is working on a set-top box slash gaming console, and while there’s still no solid evidence that it exists that hasn’t stopped the rumors. VG24/7 is fanning the flames today with new “details” about the latest rumor.

According to their unnamed sources, the gaming console will run Android (this we could have guessed), and compete with both streaming set top boxes like Roku and game consoles like the Xbox:

Senior publishing sources have been meeting with Amazon for a briefing on the hardware – which currently goes by a number of different codenames – and popular Android and iOS games have been used to demo the device.

The unit being shown to publishers at this point is said to be roughly the same size as the PSone redesign, grey in colour, oblong in shape and with sharp edges. However, the pre-production unit is likely to have a full makeover before any official release.

The hardware is being created in conjunction with subsidiary Lab 126, designers of Amazon's Kindle devices.

They also added that the device is expected before the end of the year with a retail of $300.

Did you catch that bit about the iOS games? If that is accurate (and the device exists, and it hits the market) we could be looking at a very different device than simply a gaming console.

iOS games can only be played on the iPad and iPhone, so if they made an appearance on the Firetube (a trademark filing suggest that this could be the name) then that might be a sign that the Firetube might be able to pair with the iPad and mirror its display on a large screen TV. You could play the game on the iPad while looking at the TV, much like the Nintendo WiiU pairs a tablet-like controller with its console.

The above speculation might strike you as implausible given that Amazon doesn’t sell iOS games and thus would have no interest in the iPad, but Amazon has just started letting developers charge for HTML5-based apps. If Amazon wanted to profit from selling apps for the iPad they would have to be based on HTML5. And given the sheer number of iPads (nearly 200 million as of last quarter) I would bet that Amazon is looking at the iPad covetously.

But at this point that is all speculation, and I wouldn’t put too much weight into it. There’s been no real evidence to prove that the FireTube exists outside of a lab, and until a benchmark leaks online or until a reliable site like Boy Genius Report posts photos or specs, I don’t intend to take it all that seriously.

And while I do tend to believe that Amazon has some type of set top box under development, I also know that simply because it is under development doesn’t guarantee that Amazon will ever release it. They might decide that it simply isn’t practical or profitable, or it could die as a result of internal politics. Who knows.

The post Rumors of Amazon’s Gaming Console Continue to Leak, Torturing Bloggers Everywhere appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Shenzhen Zhengfang Shows Off a Sub-$90 Smartwatch (video)

Posted: 28 Jan 2014 08:46 AM PST

CES 350X350_cb3dcc2dbd2014 has come and gone but the hands on videos continue to be posted to Youtube.

In this recently posted video Charbax caught up with Shenzhen Zhengfang Enterprises, and they showed him one of the more than a dozen smartwatches listed on their website.

Both the video and the website are scarce on details, but I’m fairly certain that we’re looking at this model. It doesn’t have a name, but we do know that it’s a true smartwatch running Android on a single core MediaTek CPU with a camera, 3G (and Wifi, probably).

This watch can make phone calls, but it can only get about 3 hours of battery life from its 600mAh battery. After that you’ll need to recharge the battery via the included custom dongle. The sample price is $90 for serious potential customers, but if you want to buy in bulk the minimum order quantity is 100 pieces.

I’m not the type of person to wear a watch, and in fact I’ve never worn a watch, but I can’t help but be fascinated by the tech. As I watch new entrants into the market reveal more and more models, I can’t help but hope it’s the beginning of a new stage of miniaturization with more and more abilities packed into smaller volumes. With luck, all this effort to produce a compact smartwatch will enable the development of tablets with better battery life that weigh even less than what we can buy today.

I know that might sound optimistic, but similar side effects have happened in the past. Cheaper components developed for netbooks and touchscreens and battery tech originally developed for smartphones enabled tablets like the iPad to be lighter and better than anyone expected. We could see that trend happen again thanks to the smartwatch market.

I still don’t think much of smartwatches per se, but nonetheless I’m keeping an eye on the market because I anticipate that it will cause ripple effects in other mobile device categories, including the tablets I might be reporting on next year.

The post Shenzhen Zhengfang Shows Off a Sub-$90 Smartwatch (video) appeared first on The Digital Reader.

BookFinder Releases New List of Most Wanted Out-of-Print Books, Also Includes Titles That Are Available POD/Digitally

Posted: 28 Jan 2014 06:43 AM PST

Thewww.bookfinder.com_logo_500x400[1] used book search engine BookFinder released their annual list of most searched for out-of-print books yesterday, and it raises some rather interesting questions concerning what exactly qualifies a book as out of print.

The list includes many of the same titles as last year’s list, and the one before that, but this year BookFinder chose to also point out that the list includes titles which can be found as ebooks or as print-on-demand books.

Thus, some of the titles, including such works as the Harvard Classics collection and Richard Gale’s On the Nature and Existence of God, are technically not out of print. Both titles are available as free ebooks or as a POD title, and you can probably also find the Harvard Collection as separate print titles should you want them.

So why are these titles on the list? Well, BookFinder has a rather antiquated definition of in print:

For our report we do not consider a title currently published as an eBook or POD to be in print. We felt that In Print meant printed on a page, with ink; so while a book only available electronically may be handy, it did not fit our criteria. We also decided some years ago that we would not consider POD published titles to be In Print. This was less to do with the quality of printing and binding (some PODs are indistinguishable from basic trade printings) but more that The BookFinder.com Report is meant to highlight books which traversed the entire traditional book lifecycle from life to death, and yet are once again sought after for one reason or another.

Given how the publishing industry has embraced ebooks and the degree to which it has embraced print-on-demand, I would bet that BookFinder will find little support their interpretation.

There’s no need to remind you of the prevalence of ebooks, but consider how many publishers have partnered with On Demand Books, for example. You can use their Espresso Book Machine to print books from Penguin, HarperCollins, and titles distributed via Lightning Source. And those are just the publishers that have signed deals with ODB; there are probably several more that are using POD as part of their internal production process so they can minimize the number of copies kept in their warehouses.

And what about the digital-first or digital-only imprints launched by both indie and major publishers? Are titles from those imprints technically out of print (or never in print, for that matter) simply because they are only available digitally?

I would say that they are in print. Yes, that tortures the definition of “in print”, but I believe the concept could use a good thrashing out.

What do you think?

The post BookFinder Releases New List of Most Wanted Out-of-Print Books, Also Includes Titles That Are Available POD/Digitally appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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