Monday, 17 March 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 18 March 2014

Posted: 17 Mar 2014 09:36 PM PDT

Top stories this Tuesday morning include a video about the Oxford comma (link), how to make time to read (link), a ruling in the Julie of the Wolves ebook rights dispute (link), OER textbooks (link), and more.

  • 11 Ways Busy People Make Time To Read (LifeHack)
  • Are You For or Against the Oxford Comma? (GalleyCat)
  • Jillian Michaels on the death of paid-for media (TeleRead)
  • Judge Rules for HarperCollins in Open Road E-Book Dispute (PW)
  • Kindle User Misses Old Time Feeling Of Leaving Book Unread On Shelf (The Lonely Petunia)
  • Lessons Publishers Can Learn From Harlequin's Annual Results (The Passive Voice)
  • Online e-books replace heavy school textbooks in Mesa classroom (USAToday)
  • Scrabble dictionary in search of new words (MobyLives)

The post The Morning Coffee – 18 March 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Nook Press Launches in Europe Today

Posted: 17 Mar 2014 07:16 PM PDT

The longnook_stUKflag[1] anticipated global expansion of B&N’s self-pub platform is finally happening. B&N announced on Tuesday that Nook Press is available in parts of Western Europe, including the UK.

Nook Press is now available to authors in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium. The platform supports all of those countries' languages, and it offers authors the opportunity to earn up to 65% of the price they set.

B&N has revealed the pricing schedule for the UK, and promises that a similar schedule has been set for the other newly supported countries in Europe. Authors who price their books between £1.50 and £7.99 will receive 65% of the list price for ebooks sold in the UK Nook Store. For books priced outside that window (as low as 75p, as high as £120.00), the royalty drops to 40%.

In comparison, authors who sell their titles via KDP earn a 70% royalty (minus delivery fees) if their books are priced between £1.49 and £7.81, but books priced outside this range will only yield a 35% royalty rate. Unlike KDP, B&N does not tack on additional fees to the selling price nor do they also charge authors delivery costs. Of course, the Nook Store is also a visibly withering platform, but you cannot have everything.

Curiously enough,  while I can find details on UK prices in the FAQ on the Nook Press website, there’s no mention of the pricing schedule for the other 30 countries where B&N has been selling ebooks since November 2011. That would imply that B&N doesn’t distribute Nook Press titles to any of those countries, a detail which my source article appears to confirm.

Nook Press is available in 8 countries as of Wednesday morning, and B&N plans to make their self-pub platform available Canada, Australia, and Switzerland in the near future. That will bring the total number of supported countries to 11, which would leave authors in 2/3rds of the countries with local Nook Stores with no option for uploading their titles to Nook Press other than through a 3rd party service like Smashwords.

But even though only a limited number of countries are supported, B&N is promising to promote select titles in the Nook Store. The titles will be chosen by the Luxembourg-based Nook International team, which is lead by Colin Eustace. The works will be selected from any number of genres and topics based on popularity and sales. “We're excited to promote any content,” Eustace said.

The Bookseller


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Flyne The Offline Reader Updated

Posted: 17 Mar 2014 05:22 PM PDT

The flynedemise of Google Reader last year spurred the creation of any number of news reader apps, but none are quite like Flyne.

This service, which launched last Fall as an Android app, gathers news articles and blog posts for you to read based on the links shared by the people you follow on Twitter. (It also pulls content from your Feedly account, but so do many apps.) You’ll have to pay $1.99 to get the twitter feature, and another $.99 to add your Feedly account.

Flyne has been updated today with a few useful improvements.

The app now boasts a two way sync with Feedly, and it has a new tablet layout and a new list based navigation, with small or large article previews. There are also several navigation changes, including a double tap gesture to close articles and an option to mark as read while you scroll. The app also downloads articles faster, and you can now zoom in on images.


Flyne looks interesting, but I’m not willing to pay $2 just to try a news aggregator option which may not suit me. Has you tried Flyne? How does it compare to more traditional aggregators like Flipboard, Feedly, etc?

You can find the app in Google Play.

The post Flyne The Offline Reader Updated appeared first on The Digital Reader.

SnapWatch Reveals Smartwatch Prototype with a Flexible Screen, Band

Posted: 17 Mar 2014 02:42 PM PDT

Onesnapwatch 1 common problem with smartwatches is that the large screen and fixed wristband results in a one size fits some watch.

SnapWatch has a solution. This UK-based firm is now showing off a prototype smartwatch which has a flexible band that adjusts to fit almost any write size.

The watch is based on a principle similar to the snap bracelets that were so popular in the 1990s. While it is stretched out flat it is nearly rigid, but bend it just a little and it will wrap itself around your wrist (or whatever else is handy).

As you can see in the diagram below, a SnapWatch contains a battery and a small amount of circuitry at one end, while the rest of the watch is taken up by a flexible screen and the metal band that acts to keep the SnapWatch either straight or curled.


SnapWatch has been working on this idea for over a decade, and they have reportedly patented the design. They’re now looking for licensing and/or developer partnerships, but they are also open to the outright purchase of the IP, according to CEO Vincent Douglas. He comments: ‘We have patented the fit, form and function of the device – including the bistable steel snap band, the control unit, and the display integration.’

The company has produced a prototype device that combines a steel snap band with a wraparound, bistable display. You can see it in the gallery below.

It’s not clear to me what it can do at this point or even if it is functional, but it occurs to me that this curved screen design might present some serious issues with touch input. Can you imagine trying to put a full touchscreen across the entire band?

I’m not sure that would work – but a touch sensitive strip placed to either side of the screen might be possible, and it would offer nearly as many input options as a full touchscreen.

snapwatch 1 snapwatch 3 snapwatch 4 snapwatch 2

+ Plastic Electronics

The post SnapWatch Reveals Smartwatch Prototype with a Flexible Screen, Band appeared first on The Digital Reader.

New Rumor: Amazon’s Set Top Box Will Be A Dongle

Posted: 17 Mar 2014 01:36 PM PDT

With the amazon-chromecast[1]expected launch date for Amazon’s gaming console slash set top box rapidly approaching, the rumors are coming fast and furious. TechCrunch has a new rumor for us today; according to their source Amazon’s newest gadget will be a dongle like Google’s Chromecast:

Amazon is readying a game console/set top box of its own, and we've learned from multiple sources familiar with the device that the Lab126-produced gadget will have a form factor similar to the Chromecast, or in other words it'll be a stick or dongle as opposed to something like the Apple TV. In addition, one source claims it should have support for streaming full PC game titles, and as such might be able to compete with consoles including the Xbox and PlayStation, instead of just Android-powered living room game devices.

While there is no solid evidence to support this rumor, it is entirely plausible.

It’s long been possible to squeeze most of the functions of a PC into a case the size of a dongle like the Chromecast (shown in the lead photo), and quite a few models have been released over the past few years. Most plug into the HDMI port found on modern TVs and draw their power from that port, and they pack enough processing ability to run Android 4.0 or above.

Existing devices work okay, so if Amazon released a dongle they should be able to offer a more than adequate movie watching experience. But can the same be said for gaming?

I don’t know, but it is possible. And Amazon’s device wouldn’t be the first dongle to support full PC games.

In January of last year Dell introduced a dongle which plugged into a TV’s HDMI port and turned the TV into a wireless monitor. That dongle was designed to work with your existing computer to mirror your existing monitor.

Amazon could well have a similar goal in mind for their dongle (it would explain the rumor about support for iOS games) – assuming this rumor is true.

It could be true, but  TechCrunch doesn’t have a good record for screening out bogus rumors. I would not pin too much hope on this one.

The post New Rumor: Amazon’s Set Top Box Will Be A Dongle appeared first on The Digital Reader.

For the Second Time in 6 Months, Whitcoulls Shut Down the eBook Section of Their Website

Posted: 17 Mar 2014 12:03 PM PDT

Here’s a whitcoulls-logo1[1]surprising bit of news.

Whitcoulls, Kobo’s leading retail partner in New Zealand, has shut down the ebook section of their website. There’s been no announcement from either Kobo or Whitcoulls, but a check of Google cache Twitter has indicated that this section has been down since at least Friday, 14 March, and it could possibly have been disabled as far back as Wednesday of last week.

Whitcoulls has been a partner to Kobo ever since Kobo launched in late 2009, so I was more than a little surprised when I was told today that Whitcoulls appeared to be walking away from a 4 year old partnership. No explanation has been given, but the warning message which replaced the ebook listings does not inspire confidence that the ebooks will be returning:

goodereader ripped off the digital reader

Please note that there is no mention of a temporary issue; instead the message uses fairly definitive language and says that Whitcoulls “can no longer display the Kobo eBook catalogue”. This has lead some, including my source (Thanks, Mick!), to speculate that the ebooks have been permanently removed, but it might be too early to say that for sure.

The last time that Whitcoulls disabled the ebook section of their website was in October 2013, during that whole media frenzy concerning self-published erotica titles. As you might recall, that affair initially started with UK tabloids wringing their hands at the thought of erotica showing up on bookstore websites, with the UK bookseller WHSmith taking the extreme response of shutting down their entire website. The ruckus then spread to other parts of the globe as Kobo yanked indie titles left and right.

Whitcoulls responded to the media frenzy by shutting down their ebookstore. They temporarily replaced it with a message that explained that the ebooks would return shortly. This time around, on the other hand, the message is much more definite and I think we can guess why.

One of the outcomes of the media frenzy last October was the decision on the part of Kobo to filter out certain types of content, mainly the less desirable categories of erotica. I suspect that Kobo was not doing a good enough job in keeping the undesirable content from showing up on the Whitcoulls website, leading Whitcoulls to simply remove the ebooks entirely.

Yes, this is pure speculation, but can you offer a better explanation?

I cannot at this time. Kobo and Whitcoulls have both been contacted on this story, but neither has replied at this time with an explanation or other details.

Should they respond I will update this post.

Thanks, Mick!

The post For the Second Time in 6 Months, Whitcoulls Shut Down the eBook Section of Their Website appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Microsoft OneNote Launches on the Mac, Now Free Everywhere

Posted: 17 Mar 2014 09:52 AM PDT

Microsoftonenote[1]  has just announced the debut of the OneNote app for OSX. Mac owners now have a new opportunity to ignore another of Microsoft’s products in favor of its Apple equivalent, and just to make this chance even more tempting Microsoft has gone one better.

OneNote is now free for all users on all platforms, including Windows, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. (Or at least that is what MS is saying; a brief check of the MS website shows that they’re still selling OneNote 2013 licenses.) Some features are limited to premium users, though.

OneNote was initially launched 10 years ago as part of one of Microsoft’s earlier tablet initiatives. This product has long been bundled into the retail price of MS Office and into the Office 365 subscription, but now it is (reportedly) freely available on its own.


Like its better-publicized competitor Evernote, OneNote offers an easily organized digital notebook typed and handwritten notes. Notes can be organized by project, color-coded, tagged, and of course users can format the notes to their heart’s content. Users can also attach image and other files, and create and listen to audio notes.

Also like Evernote, OneNote gained new support today for partner apps. Microsoft is debuting an API which developers can use to connect OneNote with third-party services.

They’ve already signed a number of developers and device makers to use the API to add OneNote support. Brother, Doxie Go, Epson, Feedly, Genius Scan, IFTTT, JotNot, Livescribe, Mod Notebook, News360, and Weave have all produced OneNote apps or integrated a new option for exporting content from their product into OneNote.

So do you think Evernote is worried about today’s news?


The post Microsoft OneNote Launches on the Mac, Now Free Everywhere appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Microsoft’s Windows RT Tablet to Ship With LTE Tomorrow – Will Cost $679

Posted: 17 Mar 2014 08:50 AM PDT

Microsoft S2_5F00_Cellular_5F00_SIM_5F00_Card_5F00_Networks_5F00_7C04DA77[1]has just officially announced that the least useful Windows tablet on the market now has a more expensive model with AT&T compatible LTE connectivity.

The new Surface 2 tablet is going to be available tomorrow on the MS website as well as in Best Buy and AT&T stores. Retail will be $679, or about $230 more than the Wifi-only model.

Microsoft hasn’t revealed the specs yet, but we do know the Wifi model runs Windows RT on a 1.7GHz Nvidia Tegra 4 quad-core CPU with 2GB RAM, either 32GB or 64GB storage, and a microSD card slot. The screen measures 10.6″, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. This tablet has Wifi, Bluetooth, and a pair of cameras. The Wifi model retails for $449.

The new Surface 2 is priced about $50 less than a similarly equipped iPad Air with 32GB of Flash storage, but it does not present as good of a value.  While the iPad Air has the support of an extensive network of iOS developers, the Surface 2 runs Windows RT and thus is limited to only running apps which have been developed for that particular version of Windows.


If you are in the market for a Windows tablet, I strongly urge you to get one which runs Windows 8. This will enable you to run legacy Windows apps originally written for Windows 7, WinXP, and earlier versions of Windows. And a Window 8 tablet will also cost less than a Surface tablet, thus presenting a better value in monetary terms if nothing else.


The post Microsoft’s Windows RT Tablet to Ship With LTE Tomorrow – Will Cost $679 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Update: New (Faked) Photos, Specs Reveals Details About the New iPhone 6

Posted: 17 Mar 2014 07:22 AM PDT

Update: Given that the original source has been shown to be less than reliable, I am retracting this entire story.

Any iphone 6 4uncertainties you may have concerning the rumored iPhone 6 can be put to rest today; new leaked photos and specs have revealed that the new iPhone will indeed sport a larger screen and be both thinner and faster than the iPhone 5s.

Sonny Dickson tweeted a number of revealing details about the new iPhone on Friday. According to his sources, the new iPhone 6 will be just 0.22″ thick, and that it will pack an Ultra-Retina screen with a sharpness of 389 pixels per inch (ppi). He also said the phone will have an A8 CPU clocked at 2.6GHz. In comparison, the iPhone 5s has an A7 CPU that runs at 1.3GHz.

He’s also tweeted a number of photos of what could be the shell for the next iPhone.  These were leaked last month, but I only learned of them today. As you can see, these images show an iPhone which looks to be as thin as the rumored .22 inches. It also has the larger screen and thinner bezels mentioned in past rumors.

Update: These images have been convincingly proven to be fakes. Sorry for sharing them; my source didn’t retract the story so I thought it was still good.

iphone 6 4

So is this real or simply a convincing fake?

I would be terribly shocked if this turned out to be a fake. Sonny Dickson has proven in the past to have reliable inside sources at one or more of Apple’s manufacturing partners. I last wrote about Sonny in September of last year when he revealed shells for the iPad Air and the new iPad Mini. Those turned out to be real, and they’re not the first time he has shared  accurate info.

Until he is proven wrong, Sonny is one of the sources we can trust. We’re looking at the iPhone 6, folks, and since the shells are showing up in March there is a very good chance that the iPhone 6 will hit the market in April or May.

Is anyone planning to get one?

iphone 6 3 iphone 6 5 iphone 6 4 iphone 6 1


The post Update: New (Faked) Photos, Specs Reveals Details About the New iPhone 6 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

EU Votes to Adopt Standard Connector for Mobile Devices

Posted: 17 Mar 2014 06:34 AM PDT

Late last week the European Parliament voted to push for a single standard charger for mobile devices. I’m sure you can guess what will happen next:


This new initiative, which passed with an overwhelming majority, came as part of a effort to update laws and regulations that cover radio equipment (including mobile devices). Technically last week’s vote was only a draft of the new law; it won’t become a law until the European Council approves the provisions, and after that EU members will have 2 years to change their national laws so they comply with the new rules.

The new standard has not yet been chosen, but the proposed design for a universal charger uses a microUSB connector – the one which is already used by a significant minority of device makers, including Amazon, Samsung, Asus, and others. (Apple, of course, does not use the same connector.)

On some levels this move makes sense, but I have to question whether it will achieve the stated goal. According to rapporteur Barbara Weiler, this is intended to reduce electronic waste: “I am especially pleased that we agreed on the introduction of a common charger. This serves the interests both of consumers and the environment. It will put an end to charger clutter and 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste annually,” she said.

I seriously doubt anyone discards a mobile device simply because the charger is dead – not unless it was nearing the end of its life anyway. Universal replacement chargers are readily available in Radio Shack and other electronics stores, and you can even find plugs which will fit virtually any mobile device made in the past 20 years.

I also wonder why the EU is going to push for a standard connector but not wireless charging. It would seem that they are planning to adopt a standard which is rapidly going out of date.

Sure, wireless charging is still uncommon, but by the time the regulations percolate through the bureaucracies that will probably no longer be true. I would bet that wireless charging will be more common than not 2 years from now. Anyone want to take that bet?


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