Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 26 February 2014

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 09:08 PM PST

Top stories this morning include a jaw-dropping library (link), Apple’s latest intransigence in the ebook antitrust lawsuit (link), a debate and dissection of the latest installment in the Author Earnings Report (link), and more.

  • Apple Wants to Move E-book Damages Trial (PW)
  • Adaptive, Attractive, Interactive: A New Chapter for Digital Textbooks (FutureBook)
  • The Author Earnings B&N Report (The Passive Voice)
  • Confessions of a "Pretend I've Read It"-aholic  (Book Riot)
  • E-books taking over 'reading habits' (Kashmir Life)
  • The Mechanics’ Institute: a subscription library model from the past and for the future (MobyLives)
  • Outread now helps you speed-read from your iPad (The Next Web)
  • Paranoid Writer Mistakes Technical Glitch For NSA Tampering (LitReactor)
  • Self-Pub Platform Autharium Issues Bogus DMCA Notice In Hopes Of Whitewashing Its Past (Techdirt)
  • This stunning image of a crowded, multi-layered library is not the work of M.C. Escher. (Gizmodo)
  • Upworthy details why it fact-checks every post (and why it used GIFs in a correction) (Poynter)

The post The Morning Coffee – 26 February 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Antutu Benchmark Test Now Available in iTunes, Confirms that the iPad 2 is a $400 “Budget” Tablet

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 08:35 PM PST

When imagethe Antutu benchmark app showed up in iTunes a few weeks ago, hardly anyone commented on the opportunity it presented to make a more general comparison between Android devices and Apple’s hardware.

A similar app has long been available for Android, and it’s my preferred benchmark test because it offers a more balanced result than most tests. Even though there are several benchmark tests which can be run on both Android and Apple hardware, this is the one that gives a general result that doesn’t focus on graphics.

I had expected that the release of the Antutu app would raise all sorts of interesting questions about whether Apple’s hardware lived up to the hype, but unfortunately I haven’t seen any commentary on this topic. Allow me to repair that lack.

I’ve run the Antutu test on my iPad 2, and do you know what I discovered?

This tablet, which was initially released 3 years ago, scored in the same range as the $99 budget Android tablets I have been reviewing for the past 5 months. A tablet which Apple is selling for $400 is assembled using components (RAM, CPU, Flash storage, graphics chip) of about the same quality as found in tablets that cost a quarter as much. In fact, a couple tablets, including the ClickNKids tablet, actually scored higher.

imageIt’s simply amazing that Apple can pull the wool over so many people’s eyes, isn’t it?

Well, no.

As much as I would like to slap Apple around for conning people into buying a piece of junk, in reality the iPad 2 is an example of why i don’t like benchmark tests: the test results don’t match up with my hands-on experiences.

Sure, the Antutu test can offer a basic technical summary of how well a tablet should perform, but the iPad 2 reminds us that there is a difference between lab tests and field tests.  The Antutu test says that the Android tablets have similar scores, but my eyes and hands tell me that the iPad 2 has a much more polished software, better construction quality, and significantly better battery life.

This is part of the reason why I avoided running benchmark tests until recently. At best it offers half the picture, and a fuzzy one at that.

So have you tried running this test on your Apple hardware? What was the score?

The post Antutu Benchmark Test Now Available in iTunes, Confirms that the iPad 2 is a $400 “Budget” Tablet appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Oyster Updates Their Reading App with a New “Explore” Section

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 05:15 PM PST

Oyster oyster logorolled out a new update for their iPad and iPhone app yesterday.  The app, which lets subscribers read an unlimited number of ebooks for only $10 a month, gained a number of features which should make it easier for readers to find their next book.

In addition to layout and typography improvements, the app now enables users to look at a book’s details and see which other Oyster users have read, rated, or saved the title to their reading list. The menus have also been redesigned to focus more on recommending titles, and there’s also a brand new "Explore" tab that enables readers to browse Oyster’s library by genre.

Oyster was the first of the ebook subscription services to launch last Fall. They got a lot of positive press, but they were soon supplanted by Scribd when the latter launched its competing service a few weeks later.  While Oyster offers around 100,000 titles which can be read on the ione and iPad, Scribd now boasts a catalog of over 300,000 titles which can be read in your web browser as well as on Android, the iPad, and the iPhone.



The post Oyster Updates Their Reading App with a New “Explore” Section appeared first on The Digital Reader.

First Ubuntu Smartphone Debuts at MWC

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 04:35 PM PST

The ubuntu smartphonesfirst smartphones to run the open source Linux distro Ubuntu are expected to ship later this year, and the Chinese phone maker Meizu was on hand this week in Barcelona to show off their first UbuntuPhone.

The MX3 is a $400  smartphone with 5.1″ (1800 x 1080 resolution) screen, an octa-core Samsung Exynos 5410 CPU, 2GB RAM, 16GB Flash storage, and 2 cameras (2MP and 8MP). It was initially released in October 2013 running Flyme OS 3.0, Meizu’s own custom version of Android, but later this year Meizu plans to release a new version that runs Ubuntu.

GizChina got their hands on the MX3 earlier today, and they posted this video. It’s in Spanish, unfortunately, but even if you turn off the sound the visual story will still tell you a lot.

Both of the phones shown in the video are the MX3; one runs Ubuntu while the other runs Flyme. According to GizChina, the version of Ubuntu shown in the video is a developmental release which was not intended for the public. The bloggers say that they were warned that the version was very unstable, but they thought it worked smoothly and provided excellent performance.

For the most part the global smartphone market is dominated by 2 operating systems: Android and iOS. How much longer do you think that will last? As we’ve seen this week, new challengers, including Firefox OS and Ubuntu, are starting to come out of the woodwork. Will they successfully challenge the dominant Android and iOS or simply end up also-rans like Tizen, webOS, and Maemo?

GizChina, Liliputing


The post First Ubuntu Smartphone Debuts at MWC appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Author Earnings Takes a Look at the Nook Store, Finds a Lot of Best Selling Indie Titles

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 03:03 PM PST

Hugh Howey logo-ae[1]overturned the publishing world’s apple cart with his first Author Earning report a couple weeks ago and he’s back again today with more unsettling revelations.

That first report looked strictly at the Kindle Store and the top 7,000 best sellers from a number of best seller lists, and today’s report turns a similar focus on the Nook Store.

Barnes & Noble hasn’t shown nearly the same interest in their Nook Press self-pub platform as Amazon has shown in KDP, so this blogger was deeply curious to learn whether self-published titles would prove as successful in the Nook Store as they did in Amazon’s ebook store.

Sure, last year Barnes & Noble reported that 25% of the Nook Store was made up of self-published works, but it was never clear exactly what that meant. And given how much has happened in 11 months since that detail was released, there was no way to tell how the situation may have changed.

It turns out self-published authors have an even stronger presence in the Nook Store than in the Kindle Store. Well over half of the titles on the fiction best seller lists  were self-published:


That’s fantastic news, IMO. Now if only the estimated sales were equally as one-sided. The report goes on to crunch some numbers and reveal that the Big 5 are selling the most number of copies.


The report goes on to show that the the Big 5 are also generating the most revenue, which probably comes as no surprise. As a rule, indie titles tend to have a lower average selling price and less promotion than titles from the big 5, and that naturally results in a smaller stream of revenue.

But that’s okay, because the amount of money that ends up in  indie authors pockets isn’t that much smaller than the amount paid to authors who signed with the Big 5.


Indie authors aren’t getting quite as large of a piece of the pie for their titles in the Nook Store as in the Kindle Store, but they still represent a significant part of the market. And that’s all money that is going direct to the authors in a monthly basis rather than the twice a year if you’re lucky schedule maintained by the major publishers.

I call that win, now matter how you slice it.

Author Earnings

The post Author Earnings Takes a Look at the Nook Store, Finds a Lot of Best Selling Indie Titles appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Scribd Expands Their eBook Catalog – Now Offers 300,000 Titles in Their Subscription Service

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 12:48 PM PST

Scribdscribd-logo-blk_100x28 announced on Monday that they have 300,000 reasons for you to sign up with their ebook subscription service. This service, which launched worldwide in early October 2013, has quickly grown to offer the second largest catalog of any of its competitors.

Scribd now boasts over 300,000 titles, including everything from best sellers to indie titles from Smashwords as well as ebooks published by HarperCollins, Kensington, Red Wheel/Weiser, Rosetta Books, Sourcebooks, and Workman.

The Scribd catalog is now second only to the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, which at 475,000 titles still manages to reign supreme. The KOLL also wins on price (it’s bundled into Amazon Prime) but Scribd is more widely available on a number of platforms including web browser, Android, and iOS, and both Amazon and Scribd offer far more titles than their closest competitor, Oyster, which at last report had just over 100,000 titles.

To mark the new milestone, Scribd released a new infographic with a few interesting details about their readers. Enjoy.










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Fujitsu’s Haptic Tablet Probably has a Rough Future

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 11:08 AM PST

FujitsuFujitsu_Fujitsu Laboratories_Touchpanel_01 has long been experimenting with new ways for users to interface with technology.  In the past they’ve shown off tablet that used its camera to create a virtual virtual keyboard, a hybrid digital interface based on paper, and they’ve shown off ereaders with new screen tech on more than one occasion.

Fujitsu is in Barcelona this week for MWC, and today they showed off a new touchscreen tech that let users feel a texture. It’s being displayed on a tablet, and according to Engadget the sensation is very convincing. They report that the slippery setting was quite convincing, and they were also pleased by the screens ability to convey and change several textures at once.

The new tech reportedly works by emitting ultrasonic vibrations below the touchscreen. The vibrations can be pulsed with varying force on any part of the screen with varying results. For example, a rapid but irregular series of pulses will make the display seem rough or even bumpy, while steady high frequency of pulses can create a high pressure layer of air which will make the surface of the screen seem slippery.


I can’t find any details on how granular the pulses are; I for one would like to know if Fujitsu can focus the pulses on a thin row of pixels and not just large regons of the screen. This could prove useful when typing because it would enable you to keep your fingers lined up in the correct spots without having to look. This would enable touch typing, something you cannot do with touchscreens.

According to my source, Fujitsu has 4 different examples to show off, including the strings of a harp, an alligator’s scales, the dial on a money safe, and a DJ’s mixing tablet, complete with CDs.

Akihabara News


The post Fujitsu’s Haptic Tablet Probably has a Rough Future appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Alcatel Launches a 7″ Android Tablet, Will Sell it for 79 Euros

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 10:24 AM PST

Rememberalcatel-pixi[1] that 7″ Firefox OS tablet that Alcatel and Mozilla announced on Sunday? Alcatel has just announced a 7″ Android tablet with similar specs, and it too has the funky screen resolution.

The Pixi 7 sports a dual-core 1.2GHz MediaTek CPU, 4GB Flash storage, 512MB or 1GB RAM (depending on the market), and a pair of VGA cameras (that’s what everyone is reporting). If early coverage is to be believed, it’s going to run Android 4.4 KitKat, but I’m not so sure that’s the case.

According to Alcatel, the Pixi 7 is going to have a 7″ screen with a resolution of 960 x 540. As I pointed out on Sunday, that’s a rather unusual screen for a 7″ tablet. In fact, I don’t know of any other 7″ tablets with a similar screen resolution. The closest standard resolution for a 7″ screen is 1024 x 600, which you can find on many a tablet (including tablets from Samsung).


I don’t know quite what to make of the specs released by Alcatel, and unfortunately I have not heard back from them about this. So I guess I am going to have to simply report these specs as is, and wait for confirmation from early buyers.

I know for sure that I won’t be one of them; this tablet is scheduled to ship in EMEA and Latin America, but not the US. But even if it were available I wouldn’t want it; 512MB RAM is simply not enough RAM. The performance is going to be hampered by the limited amount of RAM so i would recommend against buying this tablet.

P.S. If anyone knows of another 7″ tablet that has a similar screen resolution, please leave a comment. You’ll be able to count coup on me and teach me something I didn’t know.

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The Digital Reader is now on Google Plus

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 09:56 AM PST

This is just a quick note to let my readers know that I have succumbed to the Google. I now have an account on Google+, which you can find here.

I know that I’m probably the last person you’d expect to join Google+, given how much I have foamed at the mouth, but let me share the 2 words that changed my mind:

Google Authorship.

I have been told by a number of people that not setting up a Google+ account can negatively affect my blog’s search result listings.  I don’t know for a fact whether this is true, but I’ve read it from enough different sources that I have to take it seriously.

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Netflix Reminds us Why Downloads are Better than Delivery (video)

Posted: 25 Feb 2014 09:30 AM PST

What with everyone from Amazon to pizza places, breweries, and even an Australian textbook startup now experimenting with drone delivery, it’s past time that someone took the new tech down a peg or too.

Luckily for us, Netflix has stepped up to the role. They’ve posted a promo video for the drone delivery service that they’ve been developing. According to their spokesperson, they’ve been working on it for days without end, with predictable results:

See, this is another reason why I love ebooks. I don’t have to worry about getting a concussion when a drone delivers a hardback book or a textbook. Digital for the win, IMO.

The post Netflix Reminds us Why Downloads are Better than Delivery (video) appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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