Friday, 21 February 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Private Equity Firm Wants to Buy B&N for $22 a Share

Posted: 21 Feb 2014 03:29 PM PST

Barnes barnes noble logo& Noble has just received a buyout offer from G Asset Management, a little-known private investment firm. This firm is looking to acquire a 51% stake in the bookseller, and they’re willing to put up $672 million, or about $22 a share.

The firm has stated that they plan to spin out the Nook division as a separate venture apart from the retail stores and the college stores. If G Asset Management cannot buy B&N, they made a second offer for the just a controlling interest in Nook Media at $5 a share.

Barnes & Noble stock price jumped at the news, but it is still trading below $18 a share at this time.

If you’ve been following bookselling news for any length of time then G Asset Management is a name you might recognize; they made a similar offer in 2012. At that time they wanted a 51% interest in B&N College, the division that runs college bookstores. That deal fell through, with B&N instead choosing to form Nook Media by combining the Nook unit and B&N College, and selling a chunk to Microsoft and Pearson.

And last November, G Assett Management proposed separating the Nook business in a deal that would have valued the retailer at $20 a share. That deal also fell through.

Len Riggio, chairman of B&N, made his own attempt to take control of B&N and split the company in 2013.  he wanted to take the retail stores private and let the rump of B&N go its own way. He later withdraw his plans after winning some unknown internal power struggle.

B&N has yet to comment on the offer, but they have confirmed that they received it.

IMO, they would be fools not to accept. I think they should have take the earlier offer. This would have set them free from their most toxic asset, the Nook platform, while also giving the retail chain an infusion of much needed capital.

B&N’s revenues have continued to decline over the past few years, with the most recent holiday season showing a 6.6% decline in sales, with the digital sales showing an even steeper decline.

But B&N being B&N, I am also going to put money on their declining to sell the Nook unit. I also don’t think that G Asset Management has much of a chance of gaining a controlling interest in B&N; Len Riggio is the single largest stockholder and at one point last he controlled around 45% of the company. That’s going to make it really easy for him to block this deal.

Update: And it looks like Riggio might not have to offer. According to Bloomberg, GAsset Management only has a few million in assets, not the nearly $700 million it would take to carry out this deal.

The post Private Equity Firm Wants to Buy B&N for $22 a Share appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Nvidia Tegra Note 7 LTE Adds a 4G Upgrade

Posted: 21 Feb 2014 01:41 PM PST

Nvidianvidia tegra note announced on Friday that the Tegra Note 7, the cutting edge slate which Nvidia launched in September, will soon be available with a 4G chip.

The new Tegra Note 7 LTE is expected to ship next quarter, and will retail for $299, or about $100 more than Wifi-only model. The new tablet is going to feature the same speedy CPU, decent screen, and stylus as on the cheaper model, which coincidentally is also going to gain new partners next quarter.

The Tegra Note 7 LTE will feature the 7″ 1280 x 800 resolution display, and it’s going to be running an optimized version of Android 4.4.2 KitKat on Nvidia’s own Tegra 4 quad-core CPU, with a 72-core GPU. It has a 5MP rear camera, a VGA camera, 16GB of storage, 2 front-facing speakers, and of course the specially developed stylus.

That stylus is probably this tablet’s strongest selling point; the same cannot be said about the construction or overall build quality, which many reviewers found lacking.


The tablet will ship in 2 different LTE flavors (for the US and Europe) as well as a 3G version for regions that lack an LTE network. In the US it will be carried by EVGA, and in the rest of the world you’ll be able to find it under different brands. Check the Nvidia blog for more details on that point.


The post Nvidia Tegra Note 7 LTE Adds a 4G Upgrade appeared first on The Digital Reader.

New Demo Video Teases the Return of the NoteSlate Writing Tablet

Posted: 21 Feb 2014 01:09 PM PST

RememberNoteSlate_color the Noteslate?

This was an epaper writing tablet which first appeared in early 2011, with amazing product renders and a shocking $99 retail price, only to be revealed 6 months later as a figment of its developer’s imagination (they didn’t even have vaporware, much less a prototype).

That writing slate is back again today, over 3 years after it initially appeared. It seems someone (who may or may not have been behind the earlier vaporware) has posted a demo video on Youtube.

The video shows someone’s hand writing on an epaper screen. There aren’t any details on the screen tech, or the device, but the video was uploaded from an account named Noteslate.

Is this the Noteslate writing tablet we were promised 3 years ago? I can’t tell, but I do know that the old Noteslate website has been updated with this demo video on the front page.

TBH, I can’t even say for sure which epaper screen tech we’re looking at. (I’ve put out a few queries, but I haven’t heard back yet.) Does this look like an E-ink screen to you?

Thanks Antonio!

The post New Demo Video Teases the Return of the NoteSlate Writing Tablet appeared first on The Digital Reader.

New Reports Reveal that 2013 was a Dickensian Time for Indie Booksellers

Posted: 21 Feb 2014 11:31 AM PST

The109330496_eb9acd96b2_m[1] American Bookseller Association and its UK counterpart have each released new details this week on their membership rolls, and they have revealed that this is both the best of times and the worst of times for booksellers.

The ABA reported last week that nearly four dozen new bookstores opened in the US, while the UK-based Bookseller’s Association reported that almost the exact opposite happened in the UK.

According to Bookselling this Week:

The American Booksellers Association welcomed 44 indie bookstores that opened for business in 2013 in 20 states. Among them were six branches of existing businesses. California was home to 10 new stores; Michigan and New York, four; Pennsylvania and North Carolina, three; and Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, and Washington State, two.

In another sign of the vitality of independent bookselling, last year 14 established ABA member stores were bought by new owners.

This is great news, especially when you consider the long running lament that Amazon is slaying bookstores left and right.

Unfortunately, the good news doesn’t extend across the pond. According to my source, the Bookseller’s Association has reported that the number of independent bookstores in the UK dropped below 1,000 last year. A total of 67 indie bookstores in the UK closed in 2013, while 26 opened. This leaves a deficit of 41 empty, dust-collecting ex-bookstores.

There are now only 987 indie bookstores in the UK, down from 1,028 in February 2013. In fact, the number of bookstores in the UK is down from its peak of 1,535 in 2005, meaning that a third of the UK’s indie bookstores closed in the last 9 years.

That’s a marked difference from here in the US, where the ABA reports that their membership bottomed out in 2005 and started increasing again, with new records being set each year as indie bookstores saw a resurgence.


It’s not clear why indies are doing so much better in the US, but if I had to guess I would blame the decline of Borders and the other big box bookstore chains. Each shuttered big box bookstore is another hole in the book market for indies to to go after.

On the other hand, that is a terribly simplistic explanation which doesn’t account for Borders closing hundreds and hundreds of stores in 2011 without causing a similar spike in the number of indie bookstores launched.

Why do you think indie bookstores are doing so well in one English speaking country but not the other?

ABA, The Bookseller

images by phooky, juhansonin

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Amazon’s Set Top Box Rumored to Ship in March – I’m Not so sure

Posted: 21 Feb 2014 09:43 AM PST

There’s aamazon-logo3 new rumor going around today that Amazon’s long rumored Android gaming console slash streaming video set top box is due to ship next month.

According to re/code:

Industry sources say Amazon is getting ready to launch a Web TV box that would compete with Apple TV and Roku's line of products, which make it easy to move video from the Internet onto your TV.

People I've talked to who are partnering with Amazon believe the company is aiming for a March rollout.

I’m not so sure that this rumor will come true.

Yes, like pretty much everyone I too think that Amazon is working on a set top box; it makes too much sense for them to not have one in development. But I’m not convinced that said product is going to launch next month.

I don’t know whether it’s part of their marketing plan or not, but Amazon tends to leak badly before a product launch. In 2011 we knew a lot about the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire, in 2012 there were quite a few leaks about the Paperwhite and the Kindle Fire HD, and last year we not only know what the Kindle Fire HDX looked like we also knew the codenames for all 3 tablets, the specs, and approximate prices.

How much do we know about the set top box?

Absolutely nothing.

All we have at this point are a few rumors that it exists, and that it runs Android. That’s just not enough to convince me that it’s going to hit the market soon. Until more information leaks, I don’t plan to take this rumor seriously. It doesn’t meet my standards for credibility yet.

Where are the photos? Where are the leaked details about price and features?

Heck, at this point the rumors don’t even agree as to what this device will be able to do; some rumors say streaming video while others say gaming console. Sure, this could be the same device but why don’t the rumors agree?

P.S. Does anyone think that it’s possible this might be a SteamBox, one of those commoditized gaming console that Valve has been pushing over the past couple years, with Amazon as more of a content partner? This would fill Amazon’s desire to get into the living room, and it would explain all the rumors as well as the lack of hardware leaks.

The post Amazon’s Set Top Box Rumored to Ship in March – I’m Not so sure appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Geeksphone Revolution Smartphone Combines Firefox OS, Intel CPU in a $300 Smartphone

Posted: 21 Feb 2014 08:17 AM PST

The geeksphone-logo-660x595[1]Spanish smartphone maker Geeksphone has just unveiled the perfect smartphone for those who can’t settle on just one OS. The Revolution phone, which is now retailing for 222 euros, ships with Android but also enables users to install the open-source Firefox OS.

Geeksphone has long been working on developing Firefox OS smartphones, and the Revolution shows much improvement on their earlier efforts.

This phone features a 4.7″, 960 x 540 resolution display with 1GB RAM, 4GB of Flash storage, and a microSD card slot. Out of the box it runs Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean on a dual-core 1.6 GHz Intel Atom Z2560 CPU, but owners also have the option of reflashing the firmware with a version of  Firefox OS.

This smartphone also has Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a pair of cameras (8MP and 1.3MP). It supports both GSM and HSPA networks.


While the Revolution supports two different OSes at this time, it’s technically not a dual-boot phone.  Switching between Firefox and Android takes more than simply rebooting the smartphone; users have to flash the OS using the integrated recovery tools.

Early feedback suggests that this phone might be over priced for the underwhelming specs, and while that might be true this is still the best phone to run Mozilla’s Firefox OS yet. And as you can see in the demo video below, it is a cute little phone:



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Amazon Expands Prime Instant Video Service in Germany, UK

Posted: 21 Feb 2014 07:24 AM PST

amazon primeAmazon announced today that they were expanding both the Instant Video Service and the Prime Instant Video in the UK and Germany.

They’re building upon and rebranding LoveFilm Instant, the video streaming service which Amazon owns in the UK. It’s now going to be called Amazon Instant Video, marking the first time that Amazon has offered this service outside of the US.

In addition to the free streaming, Amazon is also going to offer the paid Amazon Instant Video service to the UK and Germany, enabling customers to buy or rent individual titles.

Starting next Wednesday, Amazon Prime subscribers in Germany and Great Britain will have the option of streaming video as part of their Prime memberships. Amazon will be offering a catalog of 12,000 movies, TV shows, and other videos in Germany, and 15,000 titles in the UK.

The price of the service will be going up. It currently costs £49 or€29 in the UK/Germany, but new subscribers will be charged £79 and €49. Existing subscribers won’t have to pay until the next time they renew, which for some users might not be for another 10 months.

That’s a good deal for anyone who was both a Lovefilm Instant and a Prime subscriber already, but not such a deal if you don’t find the video catalog appealing. But on the plus side, Prime subscribers in the UK and Germany can finally make use of one of the more nifty features found on the new Kindle Fire tablets; they will be able to download the videos and watch them offline.

Along with the streaming video Prime subscribers also get access to reduced or free shipping (depending on the market) on certain items sold by Amazon as well as access to the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, where readers can borrow a single ebook each month from a catalog over 475,000 titles.


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Watch an Advert, and Opera Will Let You Browse the Web for free

Posted: 21 Feb 2014 06:09 AM PST

OperaOpera-icon-high-res reminded us today that even though there’s no market for selling their web browsers to consumers, there’s still plenty of money to be made in selling web access.

The Norwegian web browser maker is launching a new service today for carriers called Sponsored Web Pass. It’s an expansion on their existing Opera Web Pass service, and it adds a new advert-sponsored option to the tech that lets mobile carriers grant users free access to the web.

Opera Web Pass enables telecoms to sell time-limited mobile data plans similar in concept to the hour, day, or week access plans offered by Boingo at certain Wifi hotspots. And now with Sponsored Web Pass, those telecoms can trade limited free access in exchange for a user watching an advert.

opera max

I don’t use mobile data all that much but I have seen similar ideas being applied in various airports. For example, Chicago-Midway lets travelers browse the web over Wifi for 20 minutes before requiring them to pay for a Boingo plan (or log in via some other service). And I have been in a couple airports over the past several years that allow free access to the Wifi after watching an advert.

And now Opera wants to offer a similar service for mobile web browsing.Here’s how Opera described it:

All the user has to do is to is watch a short advertisement from the sponsor before continuing to their content, similar to the way an ad from a sponsor airs before the start of a TV program. Users are then free to engage with the content in their Web Pass for its entire duration.

When the Sponsored Web Pass expires, users are given a soft landing with the option to continue browsing after purchasing a paid Web Pass, or to re-engage with different sponsors and continue browsing at no charge. Opera's Sponsored Web Pass now allows operators to increase their revenues from data services by enabling their participation in ad revenue monetization.

Do you really suppose there’s a market for this?

TBH I’ve found that free Wifi has been so readily available that I’ve only very rarely been tempted to pay for mobile data. In fact, free Wifi is so prevalent that I haven’t paid for a mobile data plan for (I think) 2 years now. I’m pretty sure the last time I used either 3G or 4G to browse the web I was at CES 2012. Ever since then I have been using the free Wifi at hotels, airports, coffee shops, and convention centers.

It’s tough to compete with free, but I bet Opera has already done the math and found a way to do just that.


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