- The Morning Coffee – 8 May 2014
- Feedbin Updated With New Sharing Options
- Textbook Publisher Claims License on New Edition, Demands Students Return the Paper Textbook
- OverDrive eBooks are now Compatible with Kindle FreeTime
- New TouchScreen Tech Enables the Blind to See with Their Hands (video)
- Findaway World Expands Playaway Distribution with new NeRD (Navy eReader Device)
- Microsoft Surface Mini Said to Use Qualcomm chip, Run Windows RT
Posted: 07 May 2014 09:30 PM PDT
Posted: 07 May 2014 06:04 PM PDT
The news reader service Feedbin rolled out a major update this morning.
Readers will now find that they have a wide variety of sharing options, including email, Facebook, Twitter, and more. The update also adds options to save an article to be read later, including Pinboard, Pocket, Instapaper, Readability, Evernote, and there’s also an option to send an article to a Kindle account.
Having launched only a couple days before Google announced the Readerpocalypse in March 2013, Feedbin was one of many services poised to pick up the reins. This service now supports apps on Android and IOS and includes features like search, tags, filters, a recently read menu, and more.
With a less common 3 column design, Feedbin stands out in the crowd:
Feedbin costs $3 a month or $30 a year, with a 14 day free trial. You can find more details on the Feedbin website.
Posted: 07 May 2014 01:38 PM PDT
No publisher hates the first sale doctrine more than textbook publishers. Over the years they have tried numerous tricks to stop students from reselling their books, including releasing new editions containing minimal revisions, bundling licensed digital content, and convincing professors to create custom editions.
Wolters Kluwer, via their law publisher subsidiary Aspen, has come up with a new scheme to discourage law students from reselling their legal casebooks. According to Josh Blackman, a law professor in Texas, they are attaching a license to the sale of paper books:
He goes on to quote the email he received, which says in part:
This almost certainly won’t stand up in court, but you have to give Wolters Kluwer credit for a novel attempt at rewriting constitutional law (and for using law students as its victim).
Th thing is, this is not the first time that a publisher has tried to attach a license to the sale of a paper book. It has been tried before, and in 1908 a lawsuit over a similar license led to Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus, the Supreme Court decision which formalized the First Sale Doctrine.
According to Wikipedia:
That case is not identical with the trick Wolters Kluwer is trying to pull, but it is clearly close enough that it can be cited as a precedent. With that in mind, I don’t see how a student who buys their casebook online or via a college bookstore can be forced to give it up.
Sure, if the casebook is bought directly from the publisher it might be able to extract a contract from the student, and it is also possible the ToS for the website might also include a clause which would require the casebook be returned (and even that might not be enforceable; a student could simply refuse to use the site).
In any case, law students have a strong financial incentive to not go with the flow. According James Grimmelman:
That’s a heck of a lot of money for a student, even for one who is already working a day job and going to law school at night.
The post Textbook Publisher Claims License on New Edition, Demands Students Return the Paper Textbook appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 07 May 2014 11:20 AM PDT
The library ebook distributor OverDrive announced on Wednesday that their ebooks were now compatible with Kindle FreeTime.
Kindle FreeTime (not to be confused with the paid Kindle FreeTime Unlimited service) is a suite of parental control software that Amazon has built into the Kindle Fire Android tablets and the Kindle ebook readers. It allow parents to filter or restrict certain content to protect their kids from mature material, stop the kids from messing around with the device's settings, and otherwise lock down one of Amazon’s devices.
And today OverDrive announced that their ebooks were compatible with Kindle FreeTime. (They weren’t already?) Parents can check out ebooks from more than 20,000 schools and libraries in the US and use them with Amazon's Kindle FreeTime.
eBooks borrowed from libraries and schools in the Kindle format may be added to FreeTime profiles on a Kindle Fire by following these instructions, or through the "Manage Content & Subscription" section in FreeTime by taking the following steps:
1) On the Start screen for FreeTime, tap "Manage Content & Subscription."
2) Tap "Add titles to [name of profile]'s Library."
3) Select "Books" from the dropdown menu.
4) Check the box next to the desired title and tap "Done" in the upper right corner. The title will be added.
OverDrive is the only library ebook provider integrated with the Kindle platform, and that integration is still limited to the US. Tablet owning parents outside the US as well as those who don’t have a Kindle Fire might want to consider adding the OverDrive Android app to your kid’s tablet. That will probably take less effort since it would only have to be approved once, rather than repeated each time an ebook is checked out.
More details as well as an FAQ can be found in Amazon's Kindle support pages.
The post OverDrive eBooks are now Compatible with Kindle FreeTime appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 07 May 2014 10:16 AM PDT
Researchers at Japan's University of Electro-Communications have developed a new way for the visually disabled to feel what is on the screen in front of them. Dubbed Hamsa Touch, the prototype device converts images from a camera into a pattern of electrical impulses that can be felt on the palm of your hand.
The Hamsa Touch, which is detailed in the video below, is designed to be used with either a smartphone or larger screen. It incorporates a grid of 512 photo-sensors which are mapped to a similar grid of electrodes (think of them as mini-Tasers). This device is intended to be placed directly over a screen, and when a photo-sensor detects a shift in light it triggers the corresponding electrode.
The prototype, which was shown off in Toronto last week at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, is rather low in resolution, but if this were ever commercially released that would likely change.
The post New TouchScreen Tech Enables the Blind to See with Their Hands (video) appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 07 May 2014 08:02 AM PDT
The US Navy, in partnership with Findaway World, is announcing a new basic ereader today. Originally based on a hardware design licensed from a Singapore-based OEM, the NeRD (Navy eReader Device) a 6″ ebook reader which lacks a touchscreen or Wifi. It has also been made more secure via the removal of external storage and the USB port.
The NeRD is going to be distributed starting this summer, and each unit will come pre-loaded with 300 titles. The content will be a mix of newer bestsellers and public-domain classics, including titles from major publishers like Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette and Penguin Random House.
This device is the product of Findaway World, which both is and is not a surprise. Findaway World is best know for distributing content (audiobooks, in particular), and they have deals with a number of ebook companies to provide audiobooks for a variety of platforms.
But Findaway World also distributes Playaway devices. This is an audiobook player about the size of pack of cards, and you can see one at left.
Each Playaway device comes preloaded with a single audiobook, enabling libraries to check out an audiobook title much like they check out a paper book. Findaway World sells them to libraries and institutions everywhere, including all branches of the US military.
In short, this Ohio-based company has adapted their audiobook distribution system to support a similarly locked down ebook reader. From a technical standpoint, that is very cool.
Update: I now have a partial list of specs for the NeRD. It’s running Android 2.3 on a 600MHz CPU (+ 600MHz DSP). The screen resolution is 600 x 800, and the device comes with 4GB of storage.
An initial order of 365 devices will be distributed this summer by the Navy General Library Program, which will be using the NeRD to complement its existing ebook library catalog of 108,000 titles.
There are no plans for a consumer release, but schools and other institutions that are interested in buying NeRDs should contact your local Findaway World rep. I’m betting they will be happy to sell them to you.
The post Findaway World Expands Playaway Distribution with new NeRD (Navy eReader Device) appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 07 May 2014 05:52 AM PDT
Rumors continue to circulate concerning the new smaller Surface tablet which Microsoft is expected to launch in a couple weeks, and for once I am hoping that the rumors aren’t true.
Bloomberg reported this morning that:
Well that’s disappointing (assuming this rumor is true).
The problem with a Surface Mini running on a Qualcomm chip is that it can’t be running Windows 8, but instead has to be running Windows RT. That moves the Surface Mini firmly into the “why the Bleep would I want to buy it” category.
As has been reported elsewhere, the biggest shortcoming of Windows RT is that it cannot run Windows apps, only Windows 8 apps. This renders the OS much less useful that Windows, much less Windows 8, which is why Windows RT is on my AVOID list.
The Surface Mini is expected to have an 8″ screen, but unless it also ships with an Intel chip it simply won’t be worth buying. My recommendation is that anyone looking for a 7″ or 8″ Windows tablet instead look to Dell, Acer, Lenovo, etc rather than Microsoft. Those other device makers all offer one or more small Windows 8 tablets in the $200 to $400 range. Those tablets can run Windows apps, and are much better values.
But it is worth noting that this rumor might not be true, and we might also see a Surface Mini Pro at the event a couple weeks from now. There is a mention of Surface models with Intel chips, and that could be the Surface Mini Pro or it might be the next-gen Surface Pro.
The existing Microsoft Surface tablet models have a 10.5″ screen, and it has been close to a year since the last new models were released. Microsoft might be planning to debut new models a couple weeks from now.
The post Microsoft Surface Mini Said to Use Qualcomm chip, Run Windows RT appeared first on The Digital Reader.
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