Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Medium Goes Retro, Launches an iPhone App

Posted: 20 Mar 2014 06:32 PM PDT

The hotmedium-logo-150x150[1] tech story today concerns the up and coming blogging platform Medium, and its decision to go retro. This 18 month old startup, which has made a name for itself by exploring new ways to display and publish stories and articles, now has an iPhone app.

How very 2010 of them.

I know that few will see it this way, but Medium is actually bucking the latest trends in developing for the web. While they followed one trend by developing a website which can be comfortably used on most screen sizes, they are also going against another trend: releasing apps which work on all platforms.

Medium released an iPhone app today, and not an HTML5 app (like the Kindle Cloud Reader) which could be used on other platforms. Given that Medium is arguably a trendsetter for web publishing and website design,  that makes their move retro.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not being critical of their efforts. I just thought that it was worth noting that they went for a single platform app rather than one which we could all use. Perhaps I am misreading the importance of HTML5 apps, or the value that brings, but I do wish Medium had broadened their focus.

You can find the app in iTunes. You can also find a review on TechCrunch.

The post Medium Goes Retro, Launches an iPhone App appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Publishing to Expand in US, UK, Worldwide

Posted: 20 Mar 2014 05:26 PM PDT

While many AmazonPublishing_thumb.jpgin the press have framed Amazon’s publishing efforts as being in retreat, or a failed effort, or having been stymied by B&N, Amazon doesn’t see it that way.

An internal memo “leaked” earlier this week, and it revealed that Amazon has by no means given up on disrupting the publishing industry. According to Jeff Belle, the VP of Amazon Publishing, they’re planning to hire dozens of more people and  vastly expand their publishing efforts, particularly in the UK.

This news comes on the heels of Amazon's announcement that they were expanding their German-language publishing division, but that was just the tip of the iceberg. Amazon is planning to release 200 titles in Germany this year and they are also making a major effort to enter the UK book market, where they plan to release 500 titles this year. Many of the titles will go to print simultaneously in the US and the UK.

Amazon has been publishing ebooks in Germany since at least last July, but to be honest this is the first I have heard that they were pursuing a major presence in the UK. While Amazon did of course publish Kindle Singles in the UK, the new effort is going to require a significant increase in staff as the production scales to meet Belle’s ambitious goals.

In fact, Amazon Publishing is going to be hiring at least 70 more staffers in a number of locations, including Seattle, New York, Luxembourg, London, and Munich. The jobs will range from editorial to operations and business development.

“We owe our growth to a talented group of authors, such as Helen Bryan, whose sales across her two Amazon Publishing books War Brides and The Sisterhood recently surpassed 1M copies,” wrote Belle in the internal memo.

Amazon has 15 piblishing imprints at present. According to Mr. Belle, Amazon’s publishing division ranks  as the third largest publisher on Kindle in the U.S. for paid units, and it ranks first on copies sold per new release.


The post Amazon Publishing to Expand in US, UK, Worldwide appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Will Give You $20 to Trade in Your Old eBook Reader

Posted: 20 Mar 2014 04:09 PM PDT

March is aScreenClip1-300x269[1] good time for Spring cleaning, and of you’re in the mood to clean out your old ereader and buy a new one then I have some good news for you.

Amazon has a new trade in program. I don’t know how long they’ve been running it, but it just crossed my desk today. Sign up for the program and Amazon will give you an immediate $20 discount on your next Kindle, and what’s more they will also give you a gift card when you trade in your old ereader.

Yes, Amazon is offering 2 discounts here, not one. The offer is good if you want to buy the basic Kindle or the Kindle Paperwhite (but not the Kindle Fire tablets), and the trade in offer is only good on a limited number of older models.

The trade in values are as unimpressive as Amazon’s other trade in programs for book and electronics, with Amazon only offering $15 for their competitor’s hardware. But if you choose to part with an old Kindle Paperwhite you could get up to $68.



The post Amazon Will Give You $20 to Trade in Your Old eBook Reader appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Analyst Makes Wild Guesses About Amazon’s Smartphone

Posted: 20 Mar 2014 11:00 AM PDT

Still not the smartphone you are looking for.

Still not the smartphone you are looking for.

There’s a story going around today about Amazon’s next smartphone, but I wouldn’t pay any attention to it.

Boy Genius Report got the scoop today, and they reported:

After years of rumors, Amazon will finally launch an own brand smartphone within the next three to six months. So says KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, whose reputation for accurately revealing device vendors' plans long before they are announced definitely precedes him.

…"We predict Amazon (US) will launch its own brand smartphone in 3-6 months, using the same hardware strategy as used for its e-reader and tablet," Kuo wrote on Thursday in a note to clients obtained by BGR. "The supply chain will start stocking up materials in 2Q14 for production. We estimate required components will amount to 700k-1.2mn units, and assembly to 300-600k units. Related suppliers will start to see benefits in 2Q14."

You can safely ignore this story, for a couple reasons. For one thing analysts, along with Digitimes, are a source which cannot be trusted simply because far too often their guesses about product details and launch dates are simply wrong. That’s why I don’t report on their speculations.

For another, this analyst in particular reportedly has a bad reputation. When I wrote back in January about my reasons for avoiding rumors and speculation, my source mentioned Ming-Chi Kuo by name as making accurate predictions only about half of the time:

And despite claims that Ming-Chi Kuo is a “typically accurate” Apple analyst, his track record in 2013 is almost the same as 9to5 Mac’s; in other words, approximately half of Kuo’s predictions ultimately turn out to be either partially or substantially incorrect.

Sure, BGR might claim that Ming-Chi Kuo has a high accuracy rate, but BGR will reprint any old rumor. Absent actual statistics which show his accuracy rate, I simply don’t trust their judgement.

And I don’t believe this speculation either.

The post Analyst Makes Wild Guesses About Amazon’s Smartphone appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Wattpad Announces New Writing Contest

Posted: 20 Mar 2014 10:22 AM PDT

For the logo-wattpad-prize[1]past 4 years Wattpad has been running an annual writing contest called The Wattys, and after the latest one proved quite popular this online community decided to take things in a new direction.

Wattpad has just announced a new writing contest called The Wattpad Prize. Rather than judge submissions simply as a popularity contest, Wattpad plans to select a jury of Wattpad members to help the judges identify original works of fiction and nonfiction.Yes, only original works will be accepted, meaning that the fanfic and popfic which might have been submitted to The Wattys are not eligible for this contest.

Few details are available at this time, but I do know that the jury will be made up of experienced readers and writers who are active in the Wattpad community, and that the winning stories will be chosen by theme and not by category or genre.

Wattpad plans to release more details on 2 April.

The post Wattpad Announces New Writing Contest appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Kobo Wins Stay of Execution on the End of Agency Pricing in Canada

Posted: 20 Mar 2014 06:50 AM PDT

Kobo just Kobo_Mini_colors_1_610x334[1]won the first battle in their month-old fight to keep price competition out of the Canadian ebook market. The Canadian Competition Bureau announced on Tuesday that they were delaying the settlement that 4 publishers had agreed to in early February 2014.

According to the Financial Post, the Competition Tribunal has pushed back the deadline on that settlement agreement until after Kobo’s challenge can be heard. “Given the test for a stay, it is clear that the Tribunal agreed with Kobo that there are serious questions that need to be answered about the terms of the [deal],” said Nikiforos Iatrou, counsel for Kobo Inc. “The Tribunal has given Kobo the green light to proceed with its challenge, so long as it proceeds swiftly.”

The settlement, which was negotiated by 4 publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster) and the Canadian Competition Bureau, would have required those publishers to renegotiate their contracts with ebook retailers, including Kobo, as well as give up control of the retail price of their ebooks (more details here). The settlement was intended to increase competition in the Canadian ebook market. It would have ended agency pricing in Canada for these 4 publishers, and it closely mirrored the similar settlement that the 5 US publishers agreed to in the US.

While it does not imply that the publishers did anything wrong, this agreement is a sign that the Canadian govt thought that the market lacked competition. The settlement agreement was due to go into affect on Wednesday, but it has been indefinitely postponed.

Kobo objected to the settlement because they do not believe they can compete on price. According to their filing:

The losses would impact Kobo’s ability to compete in the Canadian market. By analogy, in the US, when Agency Lite was brought into existence, Kobo saw its net revenues steadily decline. Kobo has since stopped investing in marketing in the US, closed its office in Chicago and is focusing on other markets. Its market share and revenues are now negligible there.

And now Kobo will have the chance to argue their case.

Will Kobo win? Maybe.

They can still maintain the pretense of being a Canadian company, even though they are owned by Rakuten now, and Canada has at times taken a protectionist position when it comes to industry and trade. Canada has in the past protected their local market against international competition, and Kobo might be able to turn that to their advantage.

Of course, what we really have here is a subsidiary of a Japanese retail giant which objects to having to actively competing against the subsidiary of an American retail giant, so it’s not like there’s a need to protect a Canadian company. Arguably Rakuten doesn’t deserve help any more than Amazon, so I would hope that the Competition Tribunal rules against Kobo.

But at this point it is too early to say.

The post Kobo Wins Stay of Execution on the End of Agency Pricing in Canada appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment