Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 9 May 2014

Posted: 08 May 2014 09:30 PM PDT

Top stories this morning include a couple must-read  posts on gender bias (link, link), the failure of a braille ereader (link), book art (link), and more.

The post The Morning Coffee – 9 May 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Adobe Launches Voice App for the iPad, Wants to Make Storytellers of us All

Posted: 08 May 2014 04:28 PM PDT

Adobe-Voice-app-for-iPad-allows-users-to-create-a-video-presentation[1]iPad owners have long been able to create everything from ebooks to powerpoint presentations on their tablet, and earlier today Adobe added a new app to the toolbox.

Adobe Voice is a free multimedia iPad app that makes it easy for users to create short animated videos by using a combination of their own recorded voice, imagery, music and cinema-quality motion graphics and effects.

This simple app automates much of the process, including smoothing the graphics, sweetening the audio, and uploading the video so it can be viewed online.

“Adobe Voice puts the power of Creative Cloud’s industry-leading video and audio technology into the hands of the masses,” said Winston Hendrickson, Adobe’s VP of Products for Creative Media Solutions.

A user can use entirely their own content to create a story, but the app also includes a bevy of useful music and images which can be incorporated into whatever you like. In addition to a library of over 25,000 professionally designed icons, the app also has 30 stock themes to use as a starting point, 30 music tracks to play in the background, and example videos and starter ideas to inspire new works.

You can find the app in iTunes.

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Instapaper Launches Revamped Website, Adds New Highlighting and Article Management Features

Posted: 08 May 2014 01:21 PM PDT

instapaper-icon-200x200[1]Instapaper has seen a number of major changes since it was sold to Betaworks a year ago, and today’s update is IMO the best. Betaworks has updated the Instapaper website and apps with a whole new design and a bunch of new features.

To start, the overall look and feel of the website is much simpler and more intuitive. The black sidebar and clunky interface has been thrown out in favor of a cleaner white interface. What’s more, the website is also now capable of being a fully-functional file system for organizing and acting on the articles and videos users save online.

Users can now reorganize their saved articles by simply dragging-and-dropping the stories on the webpage. They can also select articles as a group and move/delete/archive all the articles at once. The folders have also been moved in the interface so they are easier to access and manage.

And then there’s the big change.

tumblr_inline_n59gkbudvc1rof3ra[1]Instapaper has also added highlights. Readers can now highlight the text of the articles. The highlight feature is available in the iOS and Android apps as well as the website, and it syncs across all three platforms. There’s also an option to automatically share the highlights, though of course that is disabled by default.

The new highlight feature isn’t free; paid users can highlight as many times as they like, but free Instapaper users are limited to only making 5 highlights in a given month.

Speaking of paying users, the monthly cost of an Instapaper subscription is under a dollar and includes features like search, support for third-party apps, and unlimited support for sending articles to your Kindle.


Instapaper blog

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Asus Launches New MeMo Pad 8 Android Tablet in Japan

Posted: 08 May 2014 11:37 AM PDT

asus-memo-pad-8-front-and-back The MeMo Pad 8 proved to be a decent mid-level tablet when Asus launched it in the US last year, but the model which is about to launch in Japan is another matter. The Japanese telecom KDDI has just unveiled plans to sell a new version of the MeMo Pad 8, and this time it’s going to be a model equipped with LTE and WiMax.

The new MeMo Pad 8 is going to be running Android 4.4 KitKat on an Intel chip with extra RAM, storage, and other improvements.

The tablet will be  one of the first to use the new Moorehead chipset. With a 2.33 GHz quad-core CPU and a 533 MHz PowerVR G6430 graphics chip, the new MeMo Pad 8 will be a powerful little beast. It will also have 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, and a pair of cameras (1.2MP and 5MP).

In terms of connectivity, this tablet has Wifi, Bluetooth, NFC,  and the aforementioned cellular connectivity. It will also have a microSD card slot and a 4.35Ah battery. This tablet also sports a decent 8″ display with a screen resolution of 1920 x 1200.

asus-memo-pad-8-back asus-memo-pad-8-front-and-back asus-memo-pad-8

All in all, this is a significantly more powerful tablet than the previous MeMo Pad 8. That device had a slower quad-core Rockchip CPU, which means that the newer model is effectively two or three times as fast as the older model.

No, I didn’t mess up the math; Intel’s x86 chips really are that much better than ARM-based chips like those of Rockchip. Of course, they also tend to be more expensive, but you can’t have everything.

KDDI says the MeMO Pad 8 supports LTE and WiMAX networks. It's not clear whether Asus also plans to offer a WiFi-only version of the tablet.


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B&N College Plans to Add 300 Bookstores to Their Roster

Posted: 08 May 2014 09:32 AM PDT

B&N’s1099291562_1f6e8ff031_o[1] ebook efforts may have fizzled, and their retail chain may be withering, but the college bookstore division has high hopes for the future.

The bookseller is working to grow their presence on college campuses. With 696 bookstores, Barnes & Noble College is the second largest operator of college bookstores, and they plan to become the largest in the near future. Max Roberts, chief executive of B&N College,told Reuters that the retailer plans to have about 1,000 locations within five years.

B&N College is planning to convince more college to sign contracts for B&N College to run their bookstores, and the bookstore operator is also planning to poach stores from Follett. This distributor and wholesaler currently operates around 940 college bookstores under contract.

While this might appear optimistic, B&N College has reportedly added 50 stores in the past couple years. They have a strategy that is working, and a large number of college bookstores to try it on.  Around 1,500 colleges still operate their bookstore independently, including the University of Washington (the school where Amazon poached customers back in January).

In addition to signing new contracts, B&N College is also expanding the footprint of existing stores to offer more services. “We want to make our stores the center of the community, and appeal to other consumers, not just students,” said Roberts.


For example, last summer B&N College opened a new and larger bookstore at the Mananas campus of Northern Virginia Community College. At 3,000 square feet, the new shop was about 3 times the size of the old location.

“The biggest difference is the addition of a café and a marketplace with an expanded selection of convenience items, such as more Pepsi coolers, a freezer for frozen goods, and a reach-in cooler for sandwiches and salads,” said Barnes & Noble General Manager Jack Smith. “There's also more room for general merchandise such as school supplies and electronics.”

B&N College is also experimenting with a superstore concept.The B&N operated bookstore at Rutgers University, for example, is around 30,000 square feet in size, putting it far closer to the retail stores B&N operates in malls and shopping centers. Barnes & Noble College thinks they will eventually be operating 75 college superstores, compared to 35 now.

B&N’s college store division may not get the same press attention as the retail chain, but it is arguably the healthiest part of Barnes & Noble. In a time when bookselling is struggling to survive, B&N College has shown a slight but consistent positive growth over the past few years.

Compared to any retail bookstore chain, B&N College is the picture of health.


images by bclinesmithkeone






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GoodReader Hits v4.0, Adds PDF Editing and Creation Features

Posted: 08 May 2014 08:04 AM PDT

goodreader-ipadGoodReader is without a doubt the best PDF app for the iPad and iPhone and it just got better. A new update was rolled out yesterday for this venerable iPad app, and it adds more improvements and new features than you can shake a stick at.

The app has always offered a good reading and editing experience, but now it also lets users do more. The developers at Good.iWare have added new options, including creating a PDF from scratch and inserting new pages into an existing PDF.

Users can also split a PDF into parts, add pages from one PDF to another, delete single pages from a PDF, or share single pages by email. And in addition to the new editing options, the interface in the app has also been polished.

goodreader 4.0 goodreader 4.0 2 goodreader 4.0 1

This sounds great, right?

Unfortunately it comes with a price tag. GoodReader 4.0 is a paid update, even for existing users, so we’re going to have to buy it again.

But on the upside, it is on sale right now for $2.99. You can find the app in iTunes.


  • add blank pages for your notes and drawings
  • rearrange pages
  • rotate individual or all pages
  • delete pages
  • extract individual pages as separate files
  • email individual pages
  • split PDF files in halves
  • append pages from other PDF files
  • Migration Assistant – use it to migrate all your files and settings from an older version of GoodReader (v.3.21) with a single click of a button
  • grid view for file browser – files can now be presented as icons with larger previews
  • the entire tool area to the right of the file list can now be hidden
  • new file management button – New PDF, creates a blank file for your notes and drawings
  • PDF viewer: page slider now shows page previews
  • PDF Portfolios and PDF File Attachments can now be viewed in-place, without having to extract individual files from the container file

The post GoodReader Hits v4.0, Adds PDF Editing and Creation Features appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Expands Sunday Deliveries in the US

Posted: 08 May 2014 07:20 AM PDT

amazon delivery box pileAmazon is expanding Sunday delivery into 15 additional metro areas today.

The mid-sized retailer announced early Thursday morning that the service was now available in an additional 7 states, including Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Confusion.

According to the press release, millions of packages have been delivered on Sunday to Amazon customers since the program launch.  Amazon is pleased with how it’s goingand they plan to “continue to roll out Sunday delivery to a large portion of the U.S. population this year”.

The Sunday delivery service initially launched in Los Angeles and NYC last November, followed a few months later by the launch of a similar service in 7 cities in the UK. There were also reports in March of an expansion in St Louis, but it’s not clear whether that has occurred.

In most of the metro areas the Sunday deliveries are contracted out to the US Postal Service, but in select areas Amazon is handling the delivery themselves. For example, some parts of San Francisco have access to Sunday deliveries, but that would appear to be part of the pilot program Amazon is running in San Francisco.

So far, the most common items delivered on Sunday include baby supplies such as newborn apparel, books and toys—Sunday delivery is clearly crossing errands off the weekend to-do list,” said Mike Roth, Amazon's vice president of North America operations. “We know our Amazon customers love the convenience of everyday delivery, and we're excited to be offering Sunday delivery in more cities across the US.”

Here is a list of cities where Amazon us expanding this service:

  • Austin, Texas
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • College Station, Texas
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Houston, Texas
  • Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Lexington, Ky.
  • Louisville, Ky.
  • New Orleans, La.
  • Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Philadelphia, Pa.
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • Shreveport, La.
  • Waco, Texas

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The Other Shoe Drops – Sony to Close Worldwide Reader Store, Hand Customers to Kobo

Posted: 08 May 2014 05:50 AM PDT

The ebooksony kobo logo retailer formerly known as Sony sent out an email to its customers this morning, telling them that it plans to close the Reader Store in Europe and Australia in the middle of June.

It’s official: Sony is (mostly) getting out of ebooks.

Following just over a month after shutting down the NA branch of the Sony Reader Store, Sony is now shutting down the Reader Stores in Australia, Germany, the UK, and Austria. The stores will close by 16 June, and any existing customers will be invited to join their fellow ex-Reader Store customers and transfer their accounts to Kobo.

Oddly enough the Sony Reader Store in Japan has survived the extinction, or at least there is no notice on that site announcing the closure. Given that that site added features only a couple months ago I am not surprised it remains unaffected.


Having launched the Data Discman in the year 1990, Sony has a long and storied history with ebooks. This Japanese tech giant was one of the first companies to enter the commercial ebook market close to 3 decades ago, a market which for most of the 1990s it shared with very few companies. And with the US launch of the Sony Reader in 2006, Sony was the first company to enter the third wave of ebooks, preceding the launch of the Kindle by over a year.

You would think that Sony was poised to be a major player in ebooks, but that never happened. While Sony put a lot of work into developing beautiful ebook readers, they neglected to put equal work into their ebookstore or platform. The support software was terrible until well into 2010, and even as far back the PRS-500, some of the Sony Readers’ best features were the work of 3rd-party hackers, not Sony.

And even at its height, the Sony Reader Store only operated in 7 countries. That’s not a sign of great interest or investment on the part of Sony.

Over the next few weeks Sony should be sending out an email to their customers with instructions for switching over to Kobo. For more details, visit the Reader Store help page.

As part of the hand over to Kobo, Sony will be releasing updates for the Sony Readers. These update will enable Sony Reader owners to buy ebooks from Kobo from the device. The first update was released in late March, but since it only cut the connections to the Sony Reader Store there is little reason to install it. A second update is in the works which will add the ability to sync purchases with Kobo, and it is expected to be released in late May 2014.

On a related note, it’s not clear how this update will affect customers in other markets where Sony never launched a Sony Reader Store. For example, Sony is selling the Sony Reader PRS-T3 in Spain and France even though they never opened a branch of the Reader Store in those countries. This update also offers no clue as to whether Sony will release a new ereader this year or next, but I don’t think that will be happening.

The post The Other Shoe Drops – Sony to Close Worldwide Reader Store, Hand Customers to Kobo appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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