Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 30 January 2014

Posted: 29 Jan 2014 09:38 PM PST

Top stories this Thursday morning include a new direction for Flipboard as it changes its aggregation AI (link), news about Amazon’s venture into POS retail (link), a rant about HTML (link), another rant about authors being taken advantage of (link), and more.

  • Amazon to Offer Kindle Checkout System to Physical Retailers (
  • Few Buyers Reading eBooks On Tablets (Self Publishing 2.0)
  • Flipboard wants to tame the unruly stream by becoming more like a traditional magazine (GigaOm)
  • HTML is too complex (Studio Tendra)
  • Rant: Hiring an editor (Janet Reid, Literary Agent)
  • A Step by Step Guide to Evaluating Your ePub Files on Kindles, iPads, and Smartphones (The Book Designer)
  •  There isn't enough money to keep educating adults the way we're doing it (Clay Shirky)
  • Will Water Be Your Next Printer Ink? (Txchnologist)
  • Writers Guild of America tells US government that copyright shouldn’t trump free expression (Boing Boing)

P.S. Do you know what I find most interesting about the Amazon retail rumor? It’s how this project would fit quite nicely with the retail stores rumors (the WSJ missed that link). This payment platform could also work well if Amazon embarked on popup stores or booths at trade shows, wouldn’t you agree?

The post The Morning Coffee – 30 January 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Two Years Later And Amazon Still Blocks Competitors’ Reading Apps

Posted: 29 Jan 2014 07:37 PM PST

Did youscribd-logo-blk_100x28 catch the news today about Scribd?

They put out a press release this morning touting their new reading app for the Kindle Fire, which can be downloaded from the Scribd website.  The new app has all the features as the current Android app (including access to the 4 month old subscription ebook service), along with a few technical adjustments to adapt it for the Fire.

I almost didn’t report on the story, given that there is an Android app and it has long since been available in the Amazon Appstore, but then I read Teleread’s coverage and decided the larger story was worth a post. You see, Scribd is hosting the new app on their website because they can’t make it available in the Amazon Appstore:

We submitted the Scribd app several times to Amazon over the past three months, but did not receive a response to our requests, so we decided to publish it directly, making it available to everyone.

This comes as no surprise; Amazon has been blocking their competitors’ reading apps ever since they launched the first model 2 years ago.

I noticed, shortly after getting the original Kindle Fire, that Amazon was blocking the Nook, Aldiko, Kobo, and other reading apps. And just to be clear, Amazon was blocking apps which would otherwise work just fine on the Kindle Fire – just like the Scribd app mentioned above.

Sure, you can find the apps elsewhere and download them from other sites and install them, but by blocking the apps in the Appstore Amazon is probably discouraged a majority of users from getting the apps. It’s just too much effort.  Those apps are still blocked today, with a couple exceptions. The Wattpad app is available on the Kindle Fire, and so is the OverDrive Media Console app.


Well, Amazon has never explained their actions, but it’s pretty clear that Amazon doesn’t want you to spend ebook money elsewhere. I’m not sure why Amazon decided this, but if you check the Appstore you will see that this policy extends to Bluefire Reader, Aldiko, Moon+, and many others. Curiously enough, the policy doesn’t extend to Hulu, Netflix, or any other media app, most of which are listed in the Amazon Appstore as being compatible with my Kindle Fire HD.

The double standard policy is puzzling, yes, but it looks like it has had some success in stymying Amazon’s competition. For example, Amazon’s restrictions were such a bother for Bluefire that they posted a copy of their Epub app on their website in early 2012.

And then there’s the Nook app and the Kobo app. Neither app is available in the Amazon Appstore anymore, even though they were present when the Kindle Fire launched in late 2011. I know both were available at one time, but neither can be found today. That raises some interesting questions, I think.

Did Amazon actively remove the competing apps, or did Amazon use a more subtle “ignore them until they go away” trick and simply not approve the app updates?

I don’t know, but given how Amazon is behaving towards competing reading apps, either option is possible. Sadly, I probably won’t be able to find out the truth; this is a topic that almost no one is willing to discuss on the record.

If anyone wants to talk off the record, you know where to find me.

P.S. Another unrelated point worth noting here is the apparent double standard between Amazon and Apple. One quietly blocked apps, while the other publicly slapped around their competition. It’s interesting how one got all the attention while the other got almost no coverage at all.

The post Two Years Later And Amazon Still Blocks Competitors’ Reading Apps appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Apple Sold 2.5 Million iPads to US Schools in 2013, Still Leads Tablet Market in Q4 (IDC)

Posted: 29 Jan 2014 03:02 PM PST

Chitikaidc q4 2013 might be reporting that Apple’s tablets are losing their edge in the US tablet market but it certainly looks like Apple still sold quite a few tablets this past quarter. IDC released a new guesstimate today for global tablet sales in the last quarter of 2013, and Apple is still in the lead.

With 26 million iPads sold around the world in Q4, Apple is still the leading tablet maker tracked by IDC. Coming in a distant second was Samsung with an estimated 14.5 million tablets (nearly double the 7.8 million sold in Q4 2012). Amazon, Asus, and Lenovo fill out the top 5 with 5.8 million, 3.4 million, and 3.1 million tablets sold. The rest of the market collectively sold 23.3 million, bringing the total to 76.9 million tablets sold worldwide in Q4 2013 (up from 60 million).

If these figures are accurate then I can see at least 2 major surprises. Amazon didn’t do nearly as well as I would have expected. They actually sold fewer tablets than in Q4 2012, meaning that their market share shrank.

Samsung’s market share grew, but that comes as no surprise; throw enough different models on the market and you’re bound to sell a few units. No, the other surprise is Lenovo. They went from not even being ranked to knocking B&N out of the top 5. That’s not bad.

But it is also a data point that should be taken with a large grain of salt.  While writing this post I double checked estimates for previous quarters and I see that IDC believes that Amazon didn’t rank in the top 5 tablet makers in Q2 or Q3, and they just barely made it in in Q1. I’m not sure I believe their estimates, but TBF I don’t have better data.

idc q4 2013In other news, Apple reported in their investor conference call earlier this week that they had sold 7 million iPads to schools and universities in the US. If you subtract the 4 and a half million iPads reported sold around this time last year, we get a new estimate of Apple’s penetration into the education market.

Around 2.5 million iPads were sold to schools across the US these past 11 months, giving Apple the single largest share of the educational tablet and laptop market. Coming in a distant second are devices running Windows, with Chrome taking a surprise third place (or so says the WSJ).

via Publisher’s Lunch

The post Apple Sold 2.5 Million iPads to US Schools in 2013, Still Leads Tablet Market in Q4 (IDC) appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Samsung’s New 12″ Android Tablet Will Set You Back $1,075

Posted: 29 Jan 2014 11:26 AM PST

Samsung’sgalaxy-tab-pro-1[1] latest and biggest Android tablet, the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, will be launching in the UK next month. Retail price for the base model (32GB storage and Wifi) has been set at £649 (or about  $1,075 USD). It’s scheduled to ship on 4 February, and buyers that pre-order the tablet will also get a free Gamepad, which otherwise retails for £59.

With its huge screen, stylus, and svelte size, the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro was one of the highly anticipated launches of CES 2014, and it did not disappoint. I saw it myself, and it was thinner and lighter than I would have believed possible, and I am still trying to figure out how Samsung pulled it off. This tablet has a 12.2″ screen with a resolution of 2560 x 1600. Underneath that screen runs Android 4.4 Kitkat on a 1.9GHz Exynos 5 Octa CPU with 3GB RAM, 32GB Flash storage, and a pair of cameras (8MP and 2.1MP). In terms of connectivity it will have Wifi, Bluetooth, an IR blaster, and optional LTE.

Samsung galaxy note pro 12.2

There’s no info on when the LTE model will ship in the UK, and there’s also no info just yet on a US ship date, but never mind that. The more interesting question today concerns the price of this tablet, and whether anyone will take out a mortgage to pay for it.

Why yes, a retail price of £649 is as expensive as it sounds; the iPad Air retails starting at £399 in the UK; a 32GB/Wifi model will set you back £479. In comparison, you can find 8″ and 10″ Windows 8 tablets in the UK with prices starting at £474 for a 10″ model from Dell.

There aren’t very many Android tablet as big as the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 and none are nearly as nice, which means that Samsung doesn’t really have any direct competition in the market. Even the Archos model is more of a budget tablet than the premium tablet Samsung plans to sell, but the Windows tablets can be quite nice (if not for the fact they run Windows 8).

I could be looking into the wrong magic 8-ball, but it’s my guess that the high price of the Galaxy note Pro 12.2 is probably going to drive away buyers. IMO it’s hard to justify £649 when you can get 2 very nice tablets for that price.

Samsung UK







The post Samsung’s New 12″ Android Tablet Will Set You Back $1,075 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Digital Content Reseller ReDigi Awarded Patent for, Guess What?

Posted: 29 Jan 2014 09:37 AM PST

A newredigi_logo_340[1] press release crossed my inbox this morning from ReDigi, the startup that offers a marketplace where you can resell digital music. They have been awarded a patent on their business model and method for letting you resell that music.

According to the press release, the patent describes a way for ReDigi to act as a digital locker, thus enabling the service to transfer rights to a song or other digital content without making a copy. This is a different process from the unrelated Apple patent application on selling used digital content, and it is also different from Amazon’s patent, which was awarded last year.

Today’s news might come as a surprise to some, given Redigi was sued in 2012 and lost a lawsuit last year which found their service to be infringing, but not to me. The newly awarded patent neatly routes around the ruling handed down last March, and it matches closely with my estimation of how ReDigi would continue to operate after having lost the lawsuit.

redigi-5237682[1]The tl;dr version of the ruling can be summed up as saying that buyers can resell digital content only they have to sell the physical media that the original digital file is sitting on, otherwise a copy would be made.

This struck me as a particularly tortured decision where an uncomplicated idea was twisted to fit legal precedent, but ReDigi set out to comply with it anyway. The patent mentioned above details ReDigi’s plans to comply with that ruling.

Here’s how I predicted it would work in May of last year:

I believe that ReDigi is going to argue that their servers will host the original copy. That would let ReDigi argue that the digital music that is now being sold via their marketplace does not reside on a user’s computer. While users might have copies of the file on their computer, the original copy is regarded as existing on ReDigi’s servers.

That could be what makes it possible for the music file to be sold, or rather instead of selling a file ReDigi will enable a user to sell the space that the file occupies on the ReDigi server. And because the original copy resides on the ReDigi server there will be no copying of the file during the transfer.  This will enable ReDigi to skirt the copying==infringement issue.

ReDigi has continued to act as a music reselling marketplace ever since they lost that lawsuit in March, and last year they also announced plans to also act as an ebook, app, and other used digital content marketplace. That does not appear to have happened, and I can’t get any confirmation as to when it will happen, but I expect that ReDigi is still working on the idea.

Thanks to their new patent ReDigi is well-placed to lead the digital content resale market. They are the one company that has a legal marketplace up and running, and they own the patent on one way to comply with US law. Both points give ReDigi a distinct advantage over their competition.

Hat tip to Chris Meadows because he got the embargoed press release, and I did not.

The post Digital Content Reseller ReDigi Awarded Patent for, Guess What? appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Chitika Reports Amazon, Apple Were the Big Winner and Loser This Holiday Season

Posted: 29 Jan 2014 05:33 AM PST

Chitika-Logo[1]As survey after quarterly report after survey has shown, the holiday season is the prime tablet buying period in the US, with tens of millions of devices being sold in just a few short weeks.

All those tablets and smartphones changing hands mean that the holiday season is just as high stakes for device makers as it is for retailers, and Chitika has been keeping score. Chitika surveyed a sampling of devices on their ad network, and they’re reporting that Apple was the big winner in the smartphone market and that Amazon and Microsoft were the big winners among the tablet makers.

Thanks to bumper iPhone sales, Apple hardware accounted for about 2% of of the smartphone ad impressions than it did before the holiday season.  Google was the other winner, going from 0% to 0.7%, but all the other smartphones tracked by Chitika showed noticeable declines.

And in tablets, Amazon showed the biggest gain, with the Kindle Fire accounting for 9.4% of ad impressions (up 0.6%). MS also showed a healthy bump in sales, taking home a 2.3% share. And the big “loser” was Apple, who’s iPad only accounted for 76% of ad impressions (down 1.3%).

The data is based on ads served in the US and Canadian markets, and it only reflects the devices that browsed the web, and it is only based on a sampling of the ads served, and as a result it’s not a perfect view of the market. But even as an incomplete snapshot, the chart below (and the report that Chitika is selling) reminds us that Apple’s lead in tablets is slowly being nibbled away by other device makers (very very slowly).

As DisplayMate’s recent screen study showed, Apple’s competitors are getting better at a faster rate than Apple. They’re catching up with Apple’s ability to produce good tablets, and consumers are beginning to notice. Sales are shifting, and unless Apple pulls amazing tech or marketing out of their hat I expect the sales to continue to shift away from the iPad.


The post Chitika Reports Amazon, Apple Were the Big Winner and Loser This Holiday Season appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Infographic: What Kind of Book Reader are you?

Posted: 29 Jan 2014 04:01 AM PST

classifications of book loversAre you the type of reader who loves borrowed books so much you don’t want to give them back? Or are you a conflicted reader? Do you like to share what you’re reading (perhaps a little too much)?

Writing consultant Laura E. Kelly has created an infographic called, "Which Book Reader Species Are You?," which explores different classifications of readers. It details 49 different types of readers, including a couple that don’t read at all.

Check it out:


classifications of book lovers


The post Infographic: What Kind of Book Reader are you? appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment