Friday, 14 March 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Stephen King’s Joyland to be Released as an eBook

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 08:12 PM PDT

When Joyland, Joyland-Cover[1]Stephen King’s latest horror novel, was announced in 2012 the publisher and Mr King made a big deal about only releasing it in paper. And when it was published in June 2013, Mr King stuck to his guns and insisted that he wanted people to read the book on paper.

Mr King gave a number of different reasons for not releasing an ebook, including wanting to support bookstores and wanting readers to have the traditional reading experience.

None of that matters any more, because I’ve just learned that Joyland will soon be available digitally. The ebook edition will be out on 8 April, and it is up for pre-order at Kobo, Nook, Kindle, and other ebook sites.

Or perhaps I should say the legal ebook edition is coming out next month. A pirated version of this book was posted only days after the print edition was released in June 2013; multiple enthusiastic fans scanned the book and posted their work online.

There’s a lesson here.

Mr King has at times been both the vanguard and the rearguard of the digital age. He was one of the first to release a commercial ebook. He is widely credited for sparking interest in ebooks in 2000 with the digital release of Riding the Bullet, which was available at Amazon, B&N, and other sites. That ebook saw hundreds of thousands of downloads in the first day, and it is probably what encouraged B&N to launch an ebookstore in partnership with Microsoft that year and for Amazon to launch their ebookstore in late 2000.

He was also one of the first to attempt to crowd fund a serial novel, The Plant. This latter project was financially successful (it generated over half a million dollars) but was ended early because not enough readers paid.

And today Mr King is among the rearguard. Joyland reminds us that even a famous author can’t actually control the digital release of his books; the ebook was released despite his disapproval.  Like JK Rowling and Lucía Etxebarria, Stephen King might claim a copyright and he might claim moral rights over his work but actual control is a fiction.

The post Stephen King’s Joyland to be Released as an eBook appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Launches new Installment Plan Offer for Kindle Fire, Kindle

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 01:23 PM PDT

AmazonInstallements-400x32[1] must be pleased with the response to the installment plan pilot test they ran back in December, because they’ve just launched a very similar program.

The retail giant is now offering prospective Kindle owners the chance to buy a Kindle or Kindle Fire on an installment plan. The deal is good for all of Amazon’s ebook readers and Android tablets, and it spreads the cost across 5 payments.

A fifth of the price, plus taxes and shipping, is due when you order the device and the rest of the cost is paid in 4 monthly installments. That’s a little different from the installment plan Amazon tested in December; that older plan spread 4 payments out over several quarters, not months. And that older program was only good for the Kindle Fire HDX.

The basic Kindle can be had for 5 payments of  $13.80 (plus tax and shipping), while the Kindle Fire HD costs $27.80 per payment. You can find more information, and apply for the plan, on Amazon.

Are sales of Amazon’s hardware slowing down, do you think?

When I wrote about that plan in December I argued that it was not a sign that Amazon had excess stock; it only included a single model and was not open to everyone, so it was arguably an experiment.  But now that all of Amazon’s hardware is available for low monthly payments, you have to wonder whether they are getting worried about sales.

The Passive Voice

The post Amazon Launches new Installment Plan Offer for Kindle Fire, Kindle appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Pottermore Publishes New Work by JK Rowling

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 11:39 AM PDT

If you’re Quidditch™_World_Cup_Poster_-_Harry_Potter_and_the_Goblet_of_Fire™[1]looking for a new Harry Potter fix, check out Pottermore. On Friday the site announced the release of new original work by JK Rowling, and the first part is now available to be read online.

The History of the Quidditch World Cup is a 2,400 word history of the fictional game Rowling invented for the series. It’s played by witches and wizards on flying broomsticks, and is a key plot point in a couple of the novels.

“We're thrilled to have the opportunity to publish such an imaginative and engaging story from J.K. Rowling about the history of the Wizarding world's most exciting sport,” said Susan L. Jurevics, Chief Executive Officer, Pottermore.  “We're committed to being the only digital destination where fans can discover new original content about the world of Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling.  'History of the Quidditch World Cup' helps us not only fulfill that mission, but it also serves to entertain and delight our community.”


The History is going to be released in 2 parts. The first section, which was posted today, focuses on historical background about the tournament, information about how the tournament works, and examples of controversial tournaments, including the infamous 1877 match played in Kazakhstan's Ryn Desert now known as the Tournament that Nobody Remembers.  The second section will be published next Friday. It will feature amusing recaps of some notable recent matches that have been held every four years since 1990.

Based on the quotes provided in the press release, it sounds like an amusing read. For example: “The rulebook concerning both on- and off-pitch magic is alleged to stretch to nineteen volumes and to include such rules as 'no dragon is to be introduced into the stadium for any purpose including, but not limited to, team mascot, coach or cup warmer' and ‘modification of any part of the referee's body, whether or not he or she has requested such modifications, will lead to a lifetime ban from the tournament and possibly imprisonment.’”

The post Pottermore Publishes New Work by JK Rowling appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Scribd Apps for Android, iOS Updated with Search, Clipping, and Dictionary Lookup

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 10:03 AM PDT

When scribd-logo-blk_100x28Scribd launched their subscription ebook service last Fall their apps were missing a few key features that a lot of ebook readers expect. Scribd has repaired that shortcoming today.

The Scribd apps for iOS and Android gained a bunch of useful new features in today’s update. Readers can now change the screen brightness from inside the app, and they can also select words from the text.

Once a reader has picked a word, they can look it up in the dictionary or search for it elsewhere in the ebook. User can also select a section of the text and share it via Twitter, FB, email, or SMS.

You can find the apps in iTunes and in Google Play. The apps are free to download, and can be used to download and read documents uploaded by users, but if you want to read an ebook from Scribd’s 300,000 title catalog you’ll need to pay the $8.99 a month subscription fee.

Here’s the changelog from iTunes:

* Ability to search within e-books
* Ability to select text within e-books to copy, search, or share via email, SMS, Facebook, and Twitter
* Built-in dictionary
* In-app brightness control
* Bug fix: device will now go to sleep when left idle for 10 minutes
* Various bug fixes throughout

The post Scribd Apps for Android, iOS Updated with Search, Clipping, and Dictionary Lookup appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Flipboard Now Lets Readers Share Stories With Other Readers

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 08:55 AM PDT

Fresh flipboard-qu35zm[1]from consuming one of their smaller competitors, Flipboard  released a new update today for their news aggregator app for iPhone and iPad. Today’s update adds just a few new features, chief among them the ability to share the articles, photos, or videos you enjoy with your friends within the app.

Flipboard has long had the option of sharing by email, Twitter,  or BD, and now you can share a link directly to other Flipboard users.

When you’re reading a story you’d like to share, simply select the red profile avatar in the share menu and enter another user’s name or email address. The user will receive the message in Flipboard and in an email, and you can get them as well when other people on Flipboard share stories with you.

Flipboard now has over 100 million users around the world, and that’s not even counting the millions of user Flipboard inherited from Zite after that smaller service was acquired earlier this month.


P.S. I checked, and the Android app in Google Play doesn’t have this new feature.

The post Flipboard Now Lets Readers Share Stories With Other Readers appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Microsoft Now Blocking Dual-OS Devices

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 07:30 AM PDT

Rumorsapple_vs_android_02[1] have been circulating for the past month or so that Google objected to Asus making devices that ran both Windows and Android, but it looks like they may have been off base.

The WSJ is reporting this morning that it wasn’t just Google that objected to the idea, but also Microsoft. The WSJ got their hands on an internal Asus memo which laid out Microsoft’s new policy:

Microsoft has its own reasons for not wanting to share space on computers with Google, particularly on business-oriented desktop and laptop PCs that could give the Internet giant an entry point into a Microsoft stronghold.

Besides the new convertible device, Asustek will stop selling the dual-OS Asus Transformer AiO P1801 and P1802 all-in-one PCs launched last year due to Microsoft’s “new policy” of not supporting dual OS products, according to an internal Asustek memo circulated to some employees and obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

Asus Transformer AiO P1801

Asus Transformer AiO P1801

(The WSJ also repeated the Digitimes rumor about Google objecting to the dual-boot devices, but until I get confirmation I will regard it as a Digitimes rumor.)

Now this makes a lot more sense than the rumor about Google. It might not be good for consumers, but it’s obvious why Microsoft might not want to see Google get a toehold in consumer laptops and desktops. Sure, Android isn’t terribly functional as a desktop OS, but a lot of desktop PCs can double as tablets, and Android is a serious threat to Windows 8 in that regard.

So do you suppose that Microsoft’s new policy would extend to smartphones as well?

This would be bad news for Huawei, which has committed to releasing dual-boot smartphones in the US and other markets in 2014, but they probably have no reason to worry.

2014-03-03[1]For one thing, Microsoft has already signed off on the idea. Karbonn announced only a couple weeks ago that they are going to release a dual-boot smartphone in India, and that would not have happened without Microsoft’s explicit support.

Also, Microsoft is only a bit-player in the smartphone OS market, so they probably want to get Windows Phone on as many devices as possible – even dual-boot smartphones.

The post Microsoft Now Blocking Dual-OS Devices appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Google Adds New Password Option for Purchases in Google Play

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 06:37 AM PDT

Arriving nexusae0_Untitled-7_thumb[1]too late to prevent a class action lawsuit, Google rolled out a new update this week for Google Play. The update adds a new option for requiring passwords, it rearranges a few of the menus, and it adds a bulk install option.

Google has been catching a lot of flack lately because of their security policy of locking the door while leaving the windows wide open.  While Google does offer users the option of requiring a password, that option also included a 30 minute window where Google wouldn’t ask for passwords again.

This window created an opportunity where some unauthorized soul could run up huge bills on someone’ else’s Google Play account, but luckily this update will bring that to an end. The new version of Play Store adds a second password option that lets users require a password on every purchase.


That really should have happened a long time ago; parents have been complaining about this issue since at least 2010, if not earlier. The timing is also not conducive to the lawsuit; Google has more or less admitted that they were at fault.

In other news, the update also moves the settings menu option from the top menu bar to the slide-out menu on the left. You’ll also find the help menu there.  And last but not least the new version of Google Play adds a new option for bulk installing apps from the My Apps menu. This will come in handy when you need to set up your next device.

The update should be sent out to all compatible devices, but if you don’t want to wait you can download the new version of Google Play from Android Police.

The post Google Adds New Password Option for Purchases in Google Play appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon’s Wireless Gaming Controller Leaks Online

Posted: 14 Mar 2014 06:32 AM PDT

We still amazon controller 1don’t know for sure whether Amazon is going to release a gaming console slash set top box, but today we did get our first glimpse of what may be the Bluetooth controller which Amazon plans to release alongside their console.

Dave Zatz of ZatzNotFunny reported this morning that he found an Amazon branded gaming controller on the website of “an overseas regulatory agency, similar to our very own FCC”. He doesn’t say exactly where he found it (The Verge says that this came from Brazil), but he did post a few photos and share a few details.

Update: Engadget posted a link to the original PDF.

This controller has the usual excess of triggers, joysticks, and buttons. It is powered by a couple AA batteries, and if you zoom in on the photos you’ll see familiar Android home, menu, and back buttons on the face. There’s also a button for Amazon GameCircle (or at least it looks similar to that service’s logo).

amazon controller 1

I followed up on this with Dave, and he says that he has found the controllers on a couple different regulatory websites, which means that Amazon could be planning a global launch for this controller and its related gaming console.

Amazon has long been rumored to be interested in releasing some type of game console or streaming video box, with rumors circulating for well over a year (it even has a name: FireTube), but this is really only the third solid piece of evidence to show that the rumors aren’t just gossip.

amazon controller 1 amazon controller 2 amazon controller 3 amazon controller 4

In early February 2014 Amazon bought a gaming studio, and a few weeks later a BB planogram leaked which which showed that Amazon would have an Apple TV competitor in that store by May.

And now that we have controllers to look at, I would say that it is a pretty safe bet that Amazon will launch a gaming console this Spring. It will probably run Android, be tied into Amazon’s content stores, and it will likely ship with both Hulu and Netflix apps.

But there’s still no solid info on price or the exact launch date, so stay tuned.

The post Amazon’s Wireless Gaming Controller Leaks Online appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment