Wednesday, 19 March 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 20 March 2014

Posted: 19 Mar 2014 09:30 PM PDT

This Thursday morning finds me at the CoSN conference. Here are a few stories to read while I am taking a commuter bus into DC.

Top stories this morning include revelations about amateur music videos generating more revenue than official videos (link), a look at robots replacing journalists (link), a debunking of the recent Enders Analysis report (link), and more.

  • Book Industry Too Busy Playing with the Wrapping Paper (DBW)
  • Enders Analysis report reaches questionable conclusions on UK ebook growth (TeleRead)
  • The Pointlessness of Unplugging (The New Yorker)
  • Recording industry earns more from fan videos than from official music videos (Toronto Star)
  • Robots vs Journalists? It’s happening (baekdal)
  • Washington Post pilots new partner program, expanding access to Post digital content (WP)
  • We test a “bulletproof” iPhone screen protector. With a gun. And bullets. (Ars Technica)
  • Wylie versus Amazon: Idiotic jibes about idiocy (TeleRead)

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Introducing the Calmer, Less Angry Digital Reader Blog

Posted: 19 Mar 2014 08:41 PM PDT

Anyone who has been reading this blog for more than a few months is probably familiar with my writing style, and you may have noticed a marked change to that style over the past few weeks.

The posts on this blog have been shorter, more numerous, less snarky, and covered a broader range of topics than what I was writing 6 months or a year ago, and they’re going to stay that way.

I’m announcing a new editorial policy today. I’ve been trying a few new ideas for the past several weeks, and based on the increase in traffic I plan to keep doing what I am doing. Aside from The Morning Coffee, which will not change, future posts will continue to be brief and to the point, with only a minimum of snark. (The post this morning about Rakuten and endangered animals is a mistake I don’t plan to repeat.)

Don’t get me wrong, I like snark, but unfortunately I often cannot tell the difference between wit, snark, sarcasm, or bile. I am happy to write any of the 4; I am enough of a misanthrope that I enjoy it. But since hardly anyone wants to read the latter two it’s best to avoid them all.

For those who are interested, this change in policy is entirely driven by website traffic. My site traffic should be trending downwards this time of year after peaking around Christmas, but over the past month it has been trending up week over week. As I see it, whatever I am doing to pick up readers – in a down season no less – is worth repeating.

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The Rooster App is a Solution in Search of a Problem

Posted: 19 Mar 2014 05:31 PM PDT

WhenRoosterApp-ScreenandDevice-copy[1] the Rooster reading app debuted a couple weeks ago, I commented that I didn’t see what need it filled. Now that the early user reviews it appears that I was correct.

This service charges $5 a month to send bite-sized chunks of a novel to your iPhone on a regular schedule, ostensibly so readers aren’t intimidated by a large novel and so they won’t forget to finish it.

I’ve never suffered from either problem, and neither has Juli Monroe, who reviewed the service over at TeleRead:

I don't have a problem remember to read throughout the day. So sending reminders to me is of no value. I'm a voracious reader, so $4.99 a month for two books, which I may or may not like, is not a compelling proposition. My iPhone is my last choice of reader, so the current single-platform element of the service is off-putting. (Did anyone else notice the image on their homepage of someone reading on what I think is an iPad Mini?)

Incidentally, I wasn't crazy about either choice this month. Melville is not a writer I enjoy so I skipped Billy Budd, and I couldn't get into the other story. It appears as if they are appealing to the literary fiction crowd, and I'm not one of those. I did read that they are considering adding genre fiction, which is probably a good move.

What about the pushing of bite-sized content? I found it distracted me from reading because I was too aware of the limit. Yes, you can download the next installment when you finish the current one, but it's not the same as getting immersed in a book. Again, the service isn't aimed at immersion, and I get that, but it distracted me. I keep a short story anthology on my reader if I need something quick to read on the go, and that approach works better for me.

Oh, and it's set up to keep you on one book at a time. To switch, you have to "suspend" the other title. It's easy enough to switch, but there are a couple of extra steps involved.

Juli suggested that a reader would get a better deal from subscribing to Scribd or Oyster. Not only do those services offer a much larger selection, they also don’t restrict how and when you read.

And if you don’t want to shell out the money, I would suggest getting a free reading app like Bluefire and downloading ebooks from a free ebook site. This option can be quite satisfactory and cost no more than electricity.

The post The Rooster App is a Solution in Search of a Problem appeared first on The Digital Reader.

New Samsung Advert Pokes Fun at the iPad, Kindle Fire, and Surface (video)

Posted: 19 Mar 2014 04:28 PM PDT

Samsungsamsung galaxy pro commercial has often used its commercials to take its competition down a peg or two, they may have out done themselves with the latest one. A new commercial has been uploaded to Youtube. It promotes the new Galaxy Pro line by comparing Samsung’s tablets to the iPad, Kindle Fire, and the Surface.

In the past Samsung has promoted their hardware by comparing it to the competition and talking up features which other devices lacked, but few of those commercials were as funny as this one. It’s quite amusing, and I especially liked the way Samsung burned the Surface.

In the past Samsung has promoted their devices by comparing them to the

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Bookeen’s 8″ Cybook Ocean eBook Reader Delayed Again

Posted: 19 Mar 2014 03:38 PM PDT

When the Bookeen Cybook OceanFrench ereader maker Bookeen first announced their 8″ ebook reader 6 months ago few imagined that it would be in the running for the most delayed gadget of 2013.

The Cybook Ocean, which was supposed to ship in November 2013 before being delayed until the first quarter of 2014, is now expected to ship in May or June of this year. According to the latest news on the Bookeen blog, it’s going to cost 179 euros when it arrives.

This ebook reader is equipped with an 8″ epaper screen. It’s running Bookeen’s proprietary OS on an 800MHz CPU with 128MB RAM, 4GB Flash storage, Wifi, and a microSD card slot. Screen resolution is a decent but not impressive 1024 x 768, and the Cybook Ocean has both a frontlight and a touchscreen.

The Cybook Ocean is going to be shown off to the public at the Paris Book Fair, which kicks off on 20 March 2014. This will be the world premiere of the Cybook Ocean, and Bookeen will have it on display in their booth so it can be fondled by visitors.

bookeen cybook ocean

An eight inch screen is unusual for ebook readers, and only a handful of models have one. There’s the Pocketbook Color Lux, which has a color E-ink screen, and there’s the Onyx Boox i86, which has a very high resolution screen.

eReaders with the same 8″ screen as on the Cybook Ocean have been launched over the past year, including the Pyrus Maxi, the Russian teXet TB-138, and the Icarus 8. That last model is no longer available.

The Cybook Ocean has a much lower resolution screen than the screen on the not-yet-released Onyx Boox i86, which will have a screen resolution of 1,600 x 1,200. While the sharp distinct in resolution might sound odd, there’s a simple explanation.

The i86 is using an epaper screen produced by E-ink, while the Cybook Ocean is using a screen developed by Ganzhou OED Technologies. This company is jokingly referred to as producing knockoff screens, though of course it’s not clear to an outsider whether that is true or not. All we know is that the screen from E-ink and Ganzhou OED look very similar to the naked eye.

The post Bookeen’s 8″ Cybook Ocean eBook Reader Delayed Again appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Huawei Cancels Plans for Dual-OS Smartphone

Posted: 19 Mar 2014 10:14 AM PDT

Last weekHuawei_Ascend_W1_Blau[1] Huawei reportedly said that they wanted to release a dual-boot Windows-Android smartphone in the US, but now it seems the company has changed its tune. A newly released statement from the Chinese gadget maker explicitly denies any interest in the idea.

“Huawei Consumer Business Group adopts an open approach towards mobile operating systems to provide a range of choices for consumers,” the company said in a statement to Fierce Wireless. “However, most of our products are based on Android OS, [and] at this stage there are no plans to launch a dual-OS smartphone in the near future.”

Huawei didn’t provide an explanation for their change in heart, but they did confirm that their plans had changed since their spokesperson gave a statement to Trusted Reviews, which they indicate happened several weeks ago at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

huawei-ascend-g600-2-1[1]Rather than create dual-boot smartphones, Huawei plans to continue developing Android smartphones as well as models running Windows Phone.

This is an unexpected turnabout, but it does not come as a complete surprise.  There is a reliable report that Microsoft won’t allow dual-boot devices, and there are also rumors that Google has raised similar objections.

It’s entirely possible that one or both squashed Huawei’s device plans. But it is also just as likely that Huawei has new market research data that suggests that no one wants to buy said smartphone. I could easily see that happening; frankly I don’t see any value in running multiple operating systems on a smartphone.

Fierce Wireless

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Dropbox to Add Support for Multiple Account Access Next Month

Posted: 19 Mar 2014 09:26 AM PDT

If you dropbox-logo[1]happen to use Dropbox’s cloud storage service for both work and your own personal needs then I have some good news for you.

The Verge is reporting that Dropbox will be holding a press event on 9 April where they plan to unveil new support for accessing multiple Dropbox accounts. Dropbox users with a Business account will soon be able to also access their personal account without having to log out and back in. According to an email sent out to Business customers, Dropbox also plans to roll out new tools for administrators at the event.

The features will go live on 9 April, and will probably require updates for the Dropbox apps for Windows and other platforms.

Dropbox has long been paying more attention to their business customers than to consumers, but that makes sense given that the latter group is less willing to pay for what many companies, including Google, Dropbox, Microsoft, and Apple are giving away as freebies.

I can’t speak for Dropbox’s business services, but at this point there’s no way I would get  space on their servers. Google is a much better value, now that it has reduced their price schedule. And with Google giving away the first 15GB free, there’s little reason for me to even bother signing in to my Dropbox account and access the free 2GB they offer.

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UK eBook Market Grew by 20% in 2013

Posted: 19 Mar 2014 08:23 AM PDT

Nielsen hasamazon-kindle-uk revealed today that ebook purchases in the UK rose by 20% in 2013, with self-published titles making up one sale in five.

The details were released at the at the Nielsen Books & Consumers Conference on Wednesday, and according to Nielsen researcher Steve Bohme the UK ebook market reached £80 million in 2013. eBooks accounted for about 1 in 4 book purchases last year, but they also represented a far smaller share of the market than one might assume.

Like the US, paper books still dominate the UK book market, with an estimated £2.2 billion spent on them in 2013. This is about a 4% drop in sales from 2012, which had two blockbuster releases (Hunger Games and 50 Shades).

Nielsen’s stats peg the UK ebook market at 3.5% of the overall UK book market. This would seem to be rather low to me, given that ebooks accounted for 25% of unit sales, but I suppose that if readers were buying a large volume of free ebooks, that might be throwing the calculations.

Self-published ebooks accounted for one in five ebook purchases, but they only represented 12% of the money spent. Given that self-published ebooks often sell for less than books from legacy publishers, this makes sense.

It would also explain why Nielsen has noticed a drop in the average selling price of ebooks. “The rise in self-publishing meant that in 2013, the average price paid for fiction e-books dropped to around 60% of that paid for fiction paperbacks,” Bohme said.

The Bookseller

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Pocket Goes Global – Adds New Language Support

Posted: 19 Mar 2014 07:38 AM PDT

The save-for-laterpocket logo service Pocket rolled out a major update today that many non-English readers will appreciate.

This service lets you save articles, videos, and other content to be consumed later, and now its going to be easier for people who read French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, and Russian to do.

Pocket has updated their iPhone, Android, Chrome, and web apps today with support for the new languages, and they are promising to add more languages in the future.

According to Pocket, more than 40% of their users speak a tongue other than English as their native language, and around 3 out of 5 users live outside the US. A total of 22% of Pocket’s users speak one of the languages listed above, with Spanish and Japanese representing the two largest groups.

As of September 2013, Pocket boasted 10 million users. With the new language support, that is bound to grow.


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First-Gen Yotaphone Now Available in the UK

Posted: 19 Mar 2014 07:11 AM PDT

Yota Devices131312323123[1] is still the one and only gadget maker to release a smartphone with both an E-ink and an LED screen, and they’ve just launched the Yotaphone in the UK.

The Yotaphone, which launched in Germany and Russia last December, is now listed with a UK retail price. It now costs £419, a couple euros higher than its 499 euro retail price, and about £10 cheaper than the new 8GB iPhone 5c.

This smartphone, which is not to be confused with the second-gen model launched last month,  comes equipped with a 4.7″ LED screen and a 4.3″ E-ink screen. The LED screen has a capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1280 × 720, while the E-ink screen sports a resolution of 640 × 360.

The Yotaphone runs Android 4.2.2 on a dual-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro CPU. It has 32GB of storage, a microSD card slot, 2GB of RAM, and a pair of cameras (13MP w\Flash and 1MP).


In terms of connectivity, the first-gen Yotaphone has Wifi, BT, GPS, FM Radio, and support for LTE and GSM cell networks. It also has bevy of sensors including  an accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, proximity sensor, the kitchen sink, and an ambient light sensor.

This phone retails for 499 euros in Europe. It hasn’t been launched yet in the US, but Yota Devices has stated that they planned to do so. But if you ask me I would bet that we are more likely to see the second-gen model instead. That device is expected to ship in Europe and Asia in late 2014, and reach the US no later than early 2015.

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