Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 2 April 2014

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 09:30 PM PDT

Top stories this morning include cute things kids say in bookstores (link), amore accurate report on Amazon’s textbook deal in Brazil (link), the effect pf the comment section on how an article is perceived (link), and more.

The post The Morning Coffee – 2 April 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Microsoft Bought its Own Google Glass for $150 Million

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 05:06 PM PDT

Mere days microsoft osterhoutafter Facebook announces that it was buying HUD maker Oculus VR, Microsoft makes its big play for the wearables market. The sultan of Seattle has just bought IP from Osterhout Design Group, a quiet little hardware developer that specializes in wearable computing devices and other gadgets.

In a deal said to be worth up to $150 million, Microsoft bought a collection of 81 patents registered in the US and elsewhere. The deal reportedly went down in November 2013, and it did not include the rest of Osterhout Design Group.

The specific details have not been disclosed by either company, but Ralph Osterhout, the principal at Osterhout Design Group, has confirmed the news. He’s keeping the company independent and already has new tech under development.

Microsoft's answer to Google Glass?

Microsoft’s answer to Google Glass?

The Osterhout Design Group is primarily a government contractor with military and other government organizations as its customers, but according to Osterhout the firm doesn’t build weapons. “In terms of what we're doing, we don't make weapons. We make things that can help people do their jobs,” he says. “The real focus are features that are applicable in the consumer space, too.”

There’s a lot of speculation going around concerning what Microsoft might do with the new IP, including the possibility that they might integrate it with the existing Kinect motion tracking tech.

But whatever Microsoft may be planning, it’s probably going to be coming sooner than you might expect. Osterhout has been showing off tech (like the HUD glasses shown above) for several years now. I even found a presentation he gave back in 2011:

This is the tech Microsoft picked up for around $150 million. I’d say that changes the Facebook-Oculus deal slightly, don’t you?

Rather than Facebook making a timely acquisition of a hot tech company, what the Oculus deal now looks like Facebook overpaid, possibly because they were in a hurry to catch up to Microsoft and Google. The Oculus deal doesn’t look like nearly as good of a deal as it did yesterday – not for Facebook and its stockholders, anyway.


The post Microsoft Bought its Own Google Glass for $150 Million appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Apple Releases Safari Update v7.0.3

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 03:25 PM PDT

Apple safari-logo-lg[1]is rolling out quite a few software updates today, including one for the Mavericks version of Safari.

Safari v7.0.3 has been available as a beta release for the past few weeks while Apple has been working out the bugs. The update adds a number of subtle improvements, including an option to turn off push notifications, security fixes, stability improvements including better sandboxing, and more.

The update is available now through your Mac's Software Update mechanism. Apple says that the Safari 7.0.3 update is recommended for all OS X Mavericks users.

Changelog for Safari 7.0.3:

  • Fixes an issue that could cause the search and address field to load a webpage or send a search term before the return key is pressed
  • Improves credit card autofill compatibility with websites
  • Fixes an issue that could block receipt of push notifications from websites
  • Adds a preference to turn off push notification prompts from websites
  • Adds support for webpages with generic top-level domains
  • Strengthens Safari sandboxing
  • Fixes security issues, including several identified in recent security competitions

iDownload Blog


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17,000 Penguin eBooks Now Available to US School Libraries via OverDrive

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 02:18 PM PDT

OverDrivepenguin_Schools[1] expanded their catalog late last week with titles from Penguin. Teachers and school librarians now have access to 17,000 titles from Penguin – their full catalog of best selling and classic titles, previously offered only to public libraries.

Just over a month ago OverDrive announced a similar deal with Macmillan which involved 12,000 titles, and like that deal Penguin titles are offered on a one user at a time license which expires after a year. OverDrive hasn’t revealed the cost, but they can confirm that the catalog includes works from beloved authors including Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, John Green, Holly Goldberg Sloan and many others.

Must-have titles include James and the Giant Peach, Superfudge, Counting by 7s, Grapes of Wrath, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Matched Trilogy, The Secret Life of Bees, The Kite Runner, Of Mice and Men, and many, many more.


The post 17,000 Penguin eBooks Now Available to US School Libraries via OverDrive appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Tolino Vision eBook Reader Confirmed in Leaked Product Listings

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 12:28 PM PDT

When tolino vision screen protectorthe Tolino Vision leaked last month on a design website, all I had to prove this 6″ ereader existed was a product render and a short blurb, but no real details on the price, specs, or release date.

Today I don’t have much more in the way of information but I do have some evidence that the Tolino Vision is going to launch soon.

Johannes Haupt of lesen.net has discovered several product listings for accessories for the Vision, including cases and a screen protector. There was no listing for the Vision itself, and what little detail we have on the accessories does not include anything useful about the tablet, but at the very least we now know that this ebook reader exists.

I have embedded 3 of the product photos below. I had to copy them from the Google Cache because the listings were removed nearly as fast as they went up.

tolino vision case stand tolino vision case tolino vision screen protector

The Tolino Vision is probably going to launch in Germany some time in the next month. It will be carried by all of the members of the Tolino consortium, a motley bunch of tech companies and retailers that collectively claim the second largest share of the German ebook market after Amazon.

The post Tolino Vision eBook Reader Confirmed in Leaked Product Listings appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Tablets Debut

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 11:55 AM PDT

Samsung officially Galaxy-Tab4-10.1-SM-T530-White_1launched the new Galaxy Tab 4 Android tablets today and it looks like all the past leaks were true.

All 3 tablets will indeed have the same CPU, screen resolution, and cameras, and they will run the same version of Android.

The Tab 4 line will be running Android 4.4.2 KitKat on a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon CPU with either 1GB or 1.5GB RAM. Like last year’s models the tablets have 2 cameras, this time with a 1.2MP front-facing camera and a 3MP rear camera. Screen resolution will be 1280 x 800, and the tablets will of course have both Wifi and Bluetooth.

The 8″ and 10.1″ tablets will be offered in both a Wifi-only and LTE, 2G, and 3G models, depending on the market, and the amount of storage will vary between the tablets.

Launch pages, w\specs:

Galaxy-Tab4-7.0-SM-T230-White_1 Galaxy-Tab4-8.0-SM-T330-Black_1 Galaxy-Tab4-10.1-SM-T530-White_1

Just to be clear, Samsung didn’t announce today that the tablets would have a Snapdragon CPU; that came from a leaked benchmark. But given the accuracy of that benchmark in matching up with the announced specs, I am willing to bet that detail is correct.

All in all, these specs represent a minor upgrade for the seven inch model and downgrades for the 8″ and 10″ models. The Tab 4 10.1 has a slightly weaker CPU than the dual-core Intel chip found in its predecessor, and the Tab 4 8.0 has weaker cameras.

Samsung is basically treading water in terms of the Galaxy Tab line, and I would expect that they now see the Galaxy Tabs as a line of budget tablets. If you’re in the market for a quality tablet then this is not good news.

I have reviewed the Tab 3 7.0, and I (as well as many other reviewers) found it to be a very disappointing tablet. It is unstable, performs poorly, and costs too much for what it can actually do.

I am expecting the new Tab 4 tablets to be as disappointing, but we will have to wait for reviews to know for sure.

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New AAP Stats Show that the US eBook Market Saw Excellent Growth in 2013

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 09:28 AM PDT

The American aapAssociation of Publishers released the year-end StatShot report for the US book market today, and it had good news for ebook enthusiasts.

The overall book market (as reported by the 1200 odd publishers who submit data to the AAP) was down about 1% from 2012 (to $7.01 billion from $7.07 billion), with the adult and religious book segments showing a slight increase and the YA segment dropping considerably (6.6%, in fact).

I have the publicly available data embedded below, but for this post I will focus on the good news about the ebook segment. The combined Adult/YA/Religious ebook segments were down only about half a percent in 2013 from the bubble in 2012 (t0 $1.53 billion from $1.54 billion).

Adult trade ebooks totaled $1.3 billion 2013, up 3.8% from $1.25 billion in 2012. Children's and YA ebooks decreased significantly from their peak in 2012, with that segment dropping 26.7%, down to $170.5 million from $232.5 million in 2012. And finally, religious ebooks continued their steady growth with a 9.7% increase in sales (from $57.9 million in 2012 to $63.6 million in 2013).

While some are going to point at the statistics and describe the market as flat or growth as having flattened out, I see that the AAP data actually shows a decent growth rate in 2013.

No, this post is not a practical joke and no, this blogger has not been doing drugs. The very slight dip in the US ebook market in 2013 is actually a sign of a decent growth rate.

My interpretation of the AAP data is that the 2013 ebook market grew at a fast enough clip that it almost matched the ebook bubble from 2012, a year when 2 blockbuster titles (Hunger Games, 50 Shades) were credited with distorting the market.

Yes, the market looks flat but a truly flat market, one in which there is no growth, would show a noticeable drop (10% to 20%) in sales following the 2012 bubble. Do you see that difference in the 2013 data?


With that in mind, does anyone want to take bets as to whether the US ebook market will remain flat in 2014?

I predicted in January that the market growth would pick up again, but I was the only one to do so. Mark Coker, Jeremy Greenfield, and everyone else that I read predicted a flattening  or contracting market. How much do you want to bet they are right?

aap year end statshot 2013 aap year end statshot 2013 adult aap year end statshot 2013 children aap year end statshot 2013 religious

The post New AAP Stats Show that the US eBook Market Saw Excellent Growth in 2013 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Reuters Reports larger iPhone 6 Screens to Go into Production in May – About That

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 08:32 AM PDT

This blogiphone6-iphoneplus-noir-01-580x435[1] has a policy of avoiding the more speculative of the unsubstantiated rumors, so today I would like to take a different approach to the latest Apple gossip.

Reuters has posted an article that looks to be the classic Spring rumor about Apple:

Apple Inc suppliers will begin mass producing displays as early as May for the next iPhone, expected to be launched this autumn, with a 4.7-inch screen likely to be produced first while a 5.5-inch version could be delayed, supply chain sources said.

Japan Display Inc, Sharp Corp and South Korea’s LG Display Co Ltd have all been tapped to make the screens, said the sources, who asked not to be identified.

One thing I’ve noticed over the past 4 years is that Apple gossip tends to run in seasons, with rumors of products launching more than 6 months away tending to be the least accurate (in this case, an autumn launch of a larger iPhone).

For example, it was around this time last year that rumors circulated concerning a cheaper plastic iPhone intended for the emerging markets. And in October the latest Apple gossip said that the iPhone 6 would launch this Spring, which (based on the lack of hardware leaks) doesn’t appear to be happening.

On a related note, both of those rumors were originally reported by analysts, which does not speak well of that profession’s ability to make accurate predictions.

Sure, the plastic iPhone 5C launched in Fall 2013, but it wasn’t cheap. And I can also recall reading around this time last year that the larger iPhone 6 was supposed to launch last Fall; that didn’t happen. (And don’t even get me started on the iWatch.)

My point, folks, is that Apple gossip with a 6 month or longer expiration date is notoriously inaccurate. I think we would have a better chance of being right if we simply invert the rumor and assume that there won’t be a launch, or that there won’t be a device.

I have been looking at older Apple rumors over the past week and so far that rule of thumb has been holding up quite well. Would anyone care to bet whether the iPhone 6 rumors will fit the same pattern?

The post Reuters Reports larger iPhone 6 Screens to Go into Production in May – About That appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Readers Report that eBooks, Credits Aren’t Transferring From Sony to Kobo

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 06:53 AM PDT

Sony sony kobo logoannounced in February that they were shutting down the NA branch of the Sony Reader Store and transferring their customers to Kobo, but that process really only started about a week ago – and it’s not going very well.

Numerous former Sony customers are reporting that store credits and some ebooks did not make it from one retailer to the other, while some are reporting an even more worrisome tale. What’s worse, several readers have shown up in the comment section of this blog with reports that they still have not received an email with instructions on how to transfer their account.

Many of those who have gotten the invite email report that most but not all of their ebooks have transferred:

  • I checked my gmail account this morning at about 3 AM and there were my instructions. When I finished the click trail, 31 out of 37 books transferred to Kobo.
  • 38 of my 41 books transferred. 3 didn't. 2 of those that didn't transfer automatically are available for purchase at Kobo.
  • I finally got my transfer email. 621 out of 729 books transferred over in a matter of minutes. The list of ones that didn't make it looked suspiciously large though, so I took a closer look. Over 40 of the books that didn't transfer are available on Kobo.
  • 92 out of 110 transferred successfully. It claimed the others didn't transfer because they are not in the Kobo store.

On a related note, Kobo has also confirmed that not all of the existing store credits have transferred; they are working on fixing this issue.

Readers are getting mixed reports for why certain titles didn’t transfer even though Kobo sold the titles in question, with Kobo CS telling some that the titles would be added to their account manually while others have been told that it simply wasn’t possible for the ebooks to be added manually:

I just had a long talk with Kobo's help desk. I was told that they CAN NOT add these two books to my Kobo account manually. When I told them that others (such as yourself) have reported that books are being added to their accounts manually, the customer service agent went off-line to talk to a supervisor, and then stated once again that if the automatic transfer failed to transfer some books, then the missing books CAN NOT be added manually to the Kobo account.

Furthermore, the service agent stated that they (Kobo) have a list of books; titles and authors; that they have determined are not eligible to transfer from Sony to Kobo, and that my two books are on this ineligible list. (Note: I made up the name 'ineligible list' Kobo's service agent didn't call it this.)

That last bit about a list of titles which Sony and Kobo have refused to transfer is new to me; Kobo has not shared that list publicly nor even mentioned it on their website. What they do say is:

Most of the Reader Store catalogue is available in the Kobo Store, so there are very few eBooks that won't transfer to your Kobo library.

That is by no means the same thing. I have queried Kobo for an explanation, and I will report back with their response.

In spite of the bumps in the road, anyone whose books have transferred is in a much better position than some former Sony customers. Several people have left comments as recently as last night with reports that they not received an email notifying them of the option to transfer their account to Kobo.

Given that Kobo explicitly states that emails were sent out in late March, anyone who has not gotten an email should probably start panicking. I would suggest that you contact Kobo and ask them about it.

While the deadline for the transfer is still a couple months away, there is a concern that anyone who didn’t get an email from Kobo in late March might also miss later warning emails about the deadline. This is a matter which should not be left to the last minute.

Over the next couple months Sony and Kobo will be sending out other emails with new details, including news about firmware updates. The Sony Reader will be getting a couple firmware updates in April and May which will tie the device in with Kobo’s bookstore.  The update is only going to be released for the T1, T2, and T3, but not any of Sony’s earlier models.

With the exception of the PRS-9xx models, Sony’s earlier models lacked wireless connectivity and thus will not be affected by the transfer. Kobo ebooks can be loaded on to those older models by transferring the ebooks over USB, just like with any other Epub ebook.

The post Readers Report that eBooks, Credits Aren’t Transferring From Sony to Kobo appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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