Thursday, 15 May 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 16 May 2014

Posted: 15 May 2014 09:15 PM PDT

Newsworthy stories this morning include a profile of Apple’s favorite judge (link), the hassles of trying to retire an ebook from the Kindle Store (link), an author’s take on Game of Thrones being written on Wordstar (link), and more.

  • Buffer adds RSS-style news feed and content suggestions to the social sharing mix, as it hits 1.5m users (TNW)
  • Humble Bundle Offers Dr. Who Digital Comics (PW)
  • The Judge that Apple Hates (Vanity Fair)
  • OverDrive Adds 2,100 Libraries, More Consumer Services (PW)
  • Removing EBooks from Amazon: It's Not That Easy (Reba Kennedy.Lawyer.Writer.)
  • So Game of Thrones is written in Wordstar (David Hewson)
  • Stupid UK prison book policy change: starting to unravel around the edges (Diane Duane)

The post The Morning Coffee – 16 May 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

B&N Launches Windows-Only Promotions in the Nook Store in France, & Let’s Not Even Talk About Sweden

Posted: 15 May 2014 06:57 PM PDT

Barnesmicrosoft nook & Noble launched another free ebook promotion today, this time in France.

Like with past promotions, anyone who downloads the Nook app for Windows 8 will receive free popular books and five free magazines.

Titles include the ebooks Thomas Passe-Mondes by Eric Tasset and L'homme volcan by Malzieu Mathias, along with current issues of top selling magazines ELLE France, Paris Match, Premiere, Public, and Le Point. As an added bonus, readers will also receive an assortment of samples including Le grand livre des idées reçues, Insolite et grandes énigmes, and Hôtel – Chambre un. Customers will also get the Serial Lecteurs 2014 Collection, which contains the first chapters of popular thrillers from Harlen Coben, Eric Giacometti, Karine Giebel and Claude Izner.

There’s still no word yet on the launch of the Nook Android app or iOS app in France or the other 29 countries where it is not available; with the exception of the UK and the US, the Nook Store is strictly a Windows operation.

And while we are on the topic of the Nook Store, here’s an interesting bit of gossip.

About a month ago I penned a post on Amazon’s interest in selling ebooks in Sweden, and I happened to mention that Apple, Google, and Nook all had ebookstores in Sweden. The following day I got an email from someone who worked for a Swedish bookselling magazine, asking me for more information on the Nook Store.

They honestly did not know that B&N had launched the Nook Store in Sweden in November 2013, and I think that says a lot about how much of a presence B&N has. I think it also offers an explanation for why B&N is running these country specific promotions.

Barnes & Noble’s international effort is so lackluster and their presence is so low-key that without the free ebook promotions I don’t think anyone in those countries would know that the Nook Store had opened there. I know that is a mean thing to say, but if the local industry rag doesn’t know about the Nook Store then I seriously doubt that it has crossed anyone else’s consciousness either. And so long as the Nook Store remains this obscure, it might as well not exist for all the market impact it will have.

Or am I wrong?

The post B&N Launches Windows-Only Promotions in the Nook Store in France, & Let’s Not Even Talk About Sweden appeared first on The Digital Reader.

E-ink is Back in the Red in Q1 2014

Posted: 15 May 2014 04:17 PM PDT

The generalrollable e-ink decline in ereader sales and lackluster economy hit E-ink in the pocketbook last quarter.

The screen manufacturer reported yesterday that they lost NT$603 million ($19.9 million USD) in Q1, up from NT$490 million in the first quarter of last year, due to seasonally weak demand. Revenues for the first quarter of 2014 totaled NT$2.96 billion ($199 million USD), or about half of the revenues for the last quarter of 2013.

E-ink also reported that they were in the red in the first three quarters last year, but earned a net income of NT$1.01 billion in the fourth quarter largely due to a seasonal spike in ereader sales.

Taipei Times



The post E-ink is Back in the Red in Q1 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Xiaomi Mi Pad One-Ups the iPad Mini with a Tegra K1 CPU

Posted: 15 May 2014 01:02 PM PDT

Everyonemipad and their cousin has made an Android toting iPad Mini clone and now Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is joining the fun.

Earlier today Xiaomi unveiled a new 7.9″ tablet which runs Android 4.4 KitKat on an Nvidia K1 chip. With a retail of 1499 yuan (or about $240), the Mi Pad is going to be a powerful gaming platform when it ships in China later this year.

The Xiaomi Mi Pad is one of the first tablets to use the Tegra K1 chip, and it’s backed up by a Retina-quality display with a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536. It packs in 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, and a microSD card slot. According to Xiaomi this tablet has a 5MP front-facing camera, an 8MP rear camera, Wifi, Bluetooth, and stereo speakers.

mipad mipad_01 mipad_03 mipad_08 mipad_06 mipad_09

It’s not clear when Xiaomi will release the Mi pad, but they have announced that they launch an "open beta" program in China in June.

I could be wrong, but it looks like the MiPad might be the first tablet to be built on what looks to be the Nvidia Mocha reference design.

According to the leaked benchmarks, the Mocha has a 7.9″ screen, a Tegra K1 chip, 2GB RAM, and a number of other details in common with the Mi Pad. While we don’t know that the Mi Pad is the Mocha there is a good chance they’re the same.


The post Xiaomi Mi Pad One-Ups the iPad Mini with a Tegra K1 CPU appeared first on The Digital Reader.

The Old Reader Adds Speed Reading Tech from Spritz

Posted: 15 May 2014 11:13 AM PDT

Spritz 3027008-inline-56tvouk[1]has been wowing many bloggers and pundits with glimpses at their new take on an established speed reading technology, but it wasn’t until today that anyone could make real use of it.

The Old Reader announced on their blog on Thursday that they had added a new reading option. This news reader service has partnered with Spritz to enable their users to quickly read blog posts and news articles.

The new reading option requires a free Spritz account, and it is available to both The Old Reader’s free and paying users. Users will need to enable the option from the settings menu, and then open a post and press I. This will bring up a popup with either the Spritz window or a prompt to create a Spritz account.

It will look something like this in use:

spritz the old reader

So far as I know, this is the first widespread practical example of the tech (the static demo with Oyster notwithstanding). I had asked Spritz to point me at other apps or services that make use of Spritz’s tech and they were unable to do so.

As you may know, the Spritz tech is based on an old idea called rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP). It works by flashing a single word in front of you at a time, at speeds ranging from 250 wpm to 600 wpm. RSVP been around since the 1970s, and it has seen mixed results.

For example, it's quite easy for readers to miss vital information, and studies have shown that a reader's ability to retain and comprehend what they're reading drops as their reading speed increases. In fact, new research is showing that backward glances (saccades) over already read text may be the key to comprehension:

All of this suggests that, although saccades may not make for the most efficient means of ingesting words, they’re often critical for the comprehension of sentences. And as the length and complexity of an article or book increases, the number of places where comprehension can go awry grows accordingly. “Removing eye movements from the reading process is precisely the fatal flaw in such speed-reading apps and the reason why they will not be useful for reading any text that is not extremely easy or short,” the authors conclude.

That research is based on a study with only 40 test subjects, so I don’t know how much weight it should get.

But I do know I’m not planning to use Spritz again. I signed up for a The Old Reader account just to try Spritz, and after about a minute I decided I don’t like it. I’m too afraid to blink, look away, or fidget in fear of missing a key word.

That forced concentration just won’t work for me; even a moment’s distraction might make me lose my place.

But that’s just me; what do you think of it?

The post The Old Reader Adds Speed Reading Tech from Spritz appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Google to Launch “Right to be Forgotten” Option in Germany in Two Weeks

Posted: 15 May 2014 08:08 AM PDT

google streetview germanyTuesday’s ruling against Google in a privacy lawsuit is already having some entirely expected consequences.

The WSJ is reporting that Google is going to be launching a new service in Germany in the next couple weeks. The search engine giant is going to give Germans the option of requesting that links be removed for privacy violations.

The news comes via German privacy officials. “They promised to come up with a process within two weeks for users to log their complaints,” Ulrich Kühn, deputy commissioner for Hamburg's data-protection authority, said in an email following conversations with local Google representatives.

Google is moving forward quickly in Germany in part because they already have the mechanisms in place. As you might recall, Google Streetview has a turbulent history in Germany. While that service is completely legal in Germany, it was sufficiently unpopular that in 2010 Google started allowing Germans to blur their houses and businesses from Google Steetview. Google later abandoned Streetvieww in Germany in 2011. (Thanks, Olivier!)

This change in Google’s policy follows a lawsuit filed last year in Spain. In that lawsuit a Spanish individual sued Google to force the firm to remove search results that reflected badly on the plaintiff. According to the EU Court of Justice, those links to publicly available information constituted a violation of that individual’s “right to be forgotten”, forcing Google to remove them.

The information Google was linking to remains online, though now that the EU Court of Justice has issued its ruling I don’t think it will be online much longer.

And as many have expected, the primary use of this so called right is to whitewash one’s history. The BBC is reporting that at least 3 individuals  are trying to rewrite the historical record:

An ex-politician seeking re-election has asked to have links to an article about his behaviour in office removed. A man convicted of possessing child abuse images has requested links to pages about his conviction to be wiped. And a doctor wants negative reviews from patients removed from the results.

Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

The post Google to Launch “Right to be Forgotten” Option in Germany in Two Weeks appeared first on The Digital Reader.

To Heck With Winning Awards: Orbit (Hachette) Goes Excerpt Only in the Hugo Voters Packet

Posted: 15 May 2014 06:10 AM PDT

Thehugo_sm SF publisher Orbit is taking a risky bet with this year’s Hugo awards. Orbit has 3 novels up for the Hugo this year, but rather than provide copies to voters this Hachette imprint has decided to only offer excerpts.

The Hugo award recognizes excellence in SF, fantasy, and related works, and it has become the norm  for the awards committee to put together a bundle of all the works (both short and long, fiction and non) nominated  for a Hugo.

The packet was originally gathered together by John Scalzi, with all of the content being contributed voluntarily by publishers and authors. Over the past few years it has become customary for the novels to also be included in the voter packet, but Orbit is bucking the trend.

This year Orbit has 3 novels on the shortlist, including works by Ann Leckie, Mira Grant, and Charles Stross, but Orbit won’t be providing ebooks for voters to read. Instead they will only be offering excerpts of the novels.

This decision, which according to Charles Stross was made by Orbit’s CEO, was defended on the Orbit blog:

We are of course very much in favour of initiatives that help readers to engage with important awards, and we are always looking for new ways to help readers discover new authors. However, in the case of the voter packets, authors and rights holders are increasingly feeling that if their work is not included in the packet it will be at a disadvantage in the awards. It's difficult for anyone to know for certain whether this is the case, but either way we don't feel that authors and rights holders should feel under pressure to make their work available for free. There are a lot of different attitudes to the idea of giving work away for free, but we hope most people would agree that writers and rights holders should be able to make their own choice, without feeling that their decision might have negative consequences.

I am told that for last year’s Hugo packet Orbit only offered password protected PDFs (Thanks, Edward!), so their decision to cut back to excerpts should come as no surprise.

Still, I think Orbit’s justification for this decision is a highly questionable argument. If you know that one option has potentially negative consequences and you choose it anyway, you can’t blame anyone but yourself for the blowback.

And yes, I suspect there will be consequences; some voters are already unhappy, but even the voters who have no opinion on this issue will be affected. I’m sure that many will feel that they cannot vote for a work they have not read. This is going to put the Orbit titles at a disadvantage.

And that goes double when you factor in the detail that both of the other titles nominated for the Hugo this year, one from Tor Books and the other from Baen Books, will be offered in multiple DRM-free formats (Epub, Mobi, and PDF). Speaking of which, last year’s Hugo Award winning novel, Redshirts by John Scalzi, was also offered in multiple DRM-free formats.

I don’t know about you but I think there is a connection between making it easy for voters to read a work and it winning the award. But even though there is no proven connection (frankly there isn’t enough data), there might be a connection so it is best to try to take advantage of that connection.

And even if there is no benefit from providing the free ebooks, Orbit Books handicapped their Hugo nominees this year by provoking negative attention both among voters and the media.

I hope that decision was worth the fallout.

The post To Heck With Winning Awards: Orbit (Hachette) Goes Excerpt Only in the Hugo Voters Packet appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment