Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

It’s Been a Year and a Day Since Google Reader Shutdown. Has Anything Changed?

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 07:20 PM PDT

google-reader-logoAlmost 15 months have passed since Google announced that they were shuttering Google Reader, and yesterday marked the one year anniversary of its demise. Mashable was the first to notice the anniversary, and they inspired me to look back and see just how much has changed.

I for one am still reading RSS feeds in much the same way I did the day before Google announced the Readerpocalypse, but while I have stood still the industry as a whole has changed.

In the months following the March announcement, dozens of existing feed readers came out of the woodwork or were launched in response to the news. Everyone from Digg to AOL launched a feed reader (and even Zite and Flipboard made plays for former Google Reader users). Some of the news readers were good, others were bad, but of the multitude only one managed to end up on top.


On the day before the announcement, Feedly had a set of reading themes which were prettier than they were functional, and a service which was dependent on Google Reader. But they had 3 aces up their sleeve; a crack marketing dept, a beta project which would enable Feedly to break free of Google Reader, and the engineering talent to back it up.

In 3 weeks Feedly grew from 4 million users to 7 million, eventually growing to 15 million users and 24,000 paying customers in February 2014 and earning the crown of leading Google Reader replacement.

Feedly took that title because they had the tech and luck, but not all feed readers were as blessed by the demise of Google Reader. Some were unable to cope with the growth, while others were acquired.

The Old Reader, for example, was a niche service with 10,000 users the day before the announcement, and 130,000 users a week later. The team behind that service were left scrambling to keep it functional as it ballooned to 420,000. The Old Reader came perilously close to being shut down before being sold to a new owner which had the skills and funds to keep it operational.

And they’re not the only ones to be acquired; LinkedIn surprised us all when they acquired Pulse in April 2013. But when Flipboard acquired Zite in March 2014, I doubt anyone was surprised. Both of these services had made bids for casual readers, but with over 100 million users Flipboard was by far the larger service.

In the year since they bought it, LinkedIn used Pulse to build LinkedIn’s own internal blogging platform, but they’re not the only one to make a nontraditional play for the attention of readers.

In addition to trying to push readers into finding new content on Google Now and Google+, Google also launched Google Newsstand in November 2013. The new app combined the Flipboard-esque Google Currents with the existing Google Magazines app, giving readers a single place to read both the content they paid to subscribe to and the articles which Google found for them.

Shortly after Google announced the Readerpocalypse, many pundits proclaimed that the end of Google Reader as a sign of the imminent death of RSS feeds as redundant and outdated tech. But a year later and all that I can see that is different is that Zite is now Flipboard, Google Newsstand is now Zite, and Feedly is now Google Reader.

There are also incremental changes, including the increased reliance on robot reporters and and the changes to platforms like Medium as they grow, but those are really incidental to the closure of Google Reader.

It’s been some 15 months since the announcement and aside from the changing of name tags (and the fragmentation of the market among dozens of small competitors), I would say that little has changed in the news reader market.People are still using news reader apps, and some readers are paying for the service (but that’s not new).

Or am I wrong? Tell me, did the end of Google Reader drastically change your reading habits? How do you follow the news?

P.S. If I missed an important event that should have been mentioned in this post, please let me know in the comments.


The post It’s Been a Year and a Day Since Google Reader Shutdown. Has Anything Changed? appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Name Your Price for the Humble Dynamite Comics Bundle

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 01:15 PM PDT

Humble-Dynamite-Bundle[1]Dynamite Comics is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month with a bang.  They’ve partnered with Humble Bundle to bring you a special deal. Act fast, and you can get up to 130 issues for a low low price.

Humble Bundle

As with all deals at Humble Bundle, you can set your own price (even as low as a penny). You can name your price and buy Project Superpowers Vol. 1, Vampirella Masters Vol. 1 & 2, Sherlock Holmes Vol. 1: The Trial of Sherlock Holmes, Chaos! #1, Vampirella vs. Fluffy, My Little Phony: A Brony Adventure and Cryptozoic Man #1-4 plus the entire collections of Amanda Hocking’s The Hollowland and The Mocking Dead.

But if you beat the average price (currently $11.30) you will also get Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: War Cry #1, Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure #1-3, Pathfinder: Dark Waters Rising Vol. 1, Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues Vol. 1, Vampirella Masters Vol. 4, The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow #1, Miss Fury Vol. 1 and Kevin Smith’s The Green Hornet Vol. 1 & 2 along with the complete George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards and Jungle Girl Omnibus.

And if you pay more than $15 or more and you will qualify for the bonus titles. In addition to the titles listed above, you will also receive all 36 issues of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time Vol. 1 and The Dynamite Art of Alex Ross.

eBook bundles like this are a great way to experiment and find new authors to read, but as with any experiment it doesn’t always work out. I have had mixed luck myself; between the Doctor Who graphic novel bundle (bad artwork) and uninteresting titles in the mixed SF/F bundle, I have been discarding a fair number of ebooks after only reading a few pages. (And then there is the bundle I seem to have misplaced entirely, but that isn’t relevant here.)

To be fair, when I started buying ebook bundles I pretty much expected that I would not like most of the titles. Back when I used to buy game bundles, I usually only found 1 or 2 games out of a bundle of 6 that I thought were worth playing.

I prefer to read than to play computer games, so naturally I have been having better luck with ebooks.

Have you bought any ebook bundles? Who has had the best ones?

Humble Bundle

The post Name Your Price for the Humble Dynamite Comics Bundle appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Nvidia Shield Tablet Shows up on Certification Website

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 10:59 AM PDT

61I67mT6pPL._SL1000_[1]Rumors have been circulating for a couple months now that Nvidia was going to release a tablet to compliment their Shield handheld gaming device (at right), but up until this week there was hardly any evidence to support the rumors.

Notebook Italia discovered that a new certification report for a device called the Nvidia Shield tablet showed up online last week. The report doesn’t tell as much about the tablet, but it does confirm that something by that name exists.

According to the report, the “Shield Tablet” from Nvidia will have LTE connectivity. There’s no mention of Wifi or Bluetooth, but I think it is safe to assume that the Shield tablet will have those as well.

shield nvidia certification tablet

Following a leak on an Nvidia website last month, this new report is only the second bit of evidence to prove the existence of the Shield tablet. (While a set of benchmark test results for an Nvidia Mocha tablet did leak a few months ago, it’s still not clear whether the Mocha is the Shield.)

According to the rumors, the Nvidia Shield tablet will be run Android on Nvidia’s incredibly powerful Tegra K1 chip. This is Nvidia’s best CPU, and it’s only been used in a couple devices so far (the Google Project Tango tablet and the Mi Pad from Xioami). That chip also showed up in the Mocha tablet benchmarks, leading some to speculate that Shield and Mocha are codenames for the same device.

I am not convinced, but TBH no one knows for sure at this point.

Update: As one commenter reminded me, another FCC tablet cleared the FCC a few weeks ago. The details for that tablet suggest that it is not the Mochs/MiPad, and that means it is probably the Shield tablet. Thanks, jjj!

The post Nvidia Shield Tablet Shows up on Certification Website appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Publishers (Again) Object to Apple Antitrust Ruling

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 09:06 AM PDT

481654727_978e2e9dd3_b[1]Last week US publishers demonstrated that old adage that insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result.

Publishers Weekly reports that the agency publishers which were part of the 2010 price fixing conspiracy and then settled the antitrust lawsuit out of court are once again objecting to the agreement between Apple and the DOJ.

As you may recall, the 5 publishers settled and agreed to give up retail price maintenance for a period of two years. Apple fought this case in court and lost, and received harsher penalties including staggered negotiations with the 5 major US trade publishers which prevent Apple from renegotiating contracts with two or more publishers at once.

Lawyers from two of the 5 publishers were back n court last week, objecting to the terms of Apple’s settlement. In appeals filed last week, lawyers for Macmillan and S&S argue that Judge Denise Cote's 2013 final order against Apple made it virtually impossible for the publishers to successfully negotiate new agency model contracts which included retail price maintenance.

With Apple blocked from adopting retail price maintenance, Amazon will be able to keep control of the retail price. And with only a single publisher negotiating a new contract with Apple at any one time, there won’t be enough pressure on Amazon to force the retailer to knuckle under.

The publishers argue that this restriction illegally alters the terms of their settlements.

“The parties bargained for (and the district court approved) a two-year cooling-off period” reads a brief filed by S&S attorneys last week with the Second Circuit. However, the brief continues, S&S must “now wait four years, instead of two, to negotiate discount restrictions with at least one key retailer. And if other retailers insist on the same pricing discretion that [the Apple injunction] bestows on Apple—as Plaintiffs intended—the extension will apply across all of Simon & Schuster's accounts.”

The publishers are effectively arguing from the position of companies which were caught breaking the rules, apologized and got a slap on the wrist, and then object to the lone holdout getting a harsher punishment. It is that simple.

Of course, anyone who follows publishing news already figured that out; this has come up before.

Last year the publishers objected to the proposed terms of Apple’s settlement. In August 2013 they raised much the same objections as they made last week, saying that Apple’s settlement would “effectively eliminate the use of the agency model” for five years with Apple. The arguments didn’t work last year, and something tells me they won’t work this time around. But that didn’t stop the publishers from trying.

image by shane o mac

The post Publishers (Again) Object to Apple Antitrust Ruling appeared first on The Digital Reader.

BlueFire Reader for iPhone, iPad Now Supports Dropbox

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 07:19 AM PDT

Open-Dyslexic[1]iPad users, rejoice. The best Epub app for iDevices was updated yesterday with a bunch of new features. The app has new themes, a new font, and (finally) integration with Dropbox. It also unfortunately supports the new Adobe DRM, and you just know that’s going to come back to haunt users.

The Bluefire Reader app now supports the Open Dyslexic font. This font was created to help readers with dyslexia, and it offers subtle visual clues which help dyslexics recognize each character. You can see an example at right.

The app also features updated themes, including support for a new sepia mode for PDFs. And last but not least, readers can now store their ebook libraries in Dropbox and download them directly into the Bluefire app. What’s more, the Bluefire Reader app now syncs your reading location across BF apps on multiple devices. Early reports suggest that this feature is not working perfectly, but it is bound to improve.

In related news, Bluefire recently revealed that they are also working on a Windows reading app. It too is based on the Bluefire platform, and it is the app I referred to last night in my rant about Windows reading apps.

You can find the updated iOS app in iTunes. The Bluefire Reader app for Windows is due out some time in the next week.

The post BlueFire Reader for iPhone, iPad Now Supports Dropbox appeared first on The Digital Reader.

WSJ: Amazon Exec Defends Its Stance Against Hachette – Except He Doesn’t, Really

Posted: 02 Jul 2014 05:56 AM PDT

9409921931_1e3c8e6c7d_b[1] The Wall Street Journal scored a scoop last night in the ongoing Amazon-Hachette contract dispute – or so they would have you believe.

In what the WSJ describes as an Amazon exec defending its actions against Amazon, Kindle VP Russ Grandinetti largely reiterated the statement Amazon had already released over a month ago:

Amazon has been criticized for its negotiating tactics, including attacks from some Hachette authors whose careers have benefited from Amazon sales.

But in an interview, Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s senior vice president of Kindle content, indicated the retailer was willing to suffer some damage to its reputation and was simply doing what is “in the long-term interest of our customers.”

“This discussion is all about e-book pricing,” he said. “The terms under which we trade will determine how good the prices are that we can offer consumers.”

Grandinetti was commenting on an ongoing contract dispute between Amazon and Lagardère, the French media conglomerate. Amazon is fighting with Hachette Book Group, Lagardère ‘s US subsidiary, over a new distribution contract. No one knows exactly why the retailer and publisher are at odds, but unconfirmed leaks from Hachette have indicated that that Amazon wants increased co-op fees, and possibly better terms on ebook sales. It would seem the latter has been confirmed by Grandinetti.

You’re welcome to read the article if you like, but Grandinetti really doesn’t say much more than what I have quoted above. And aside from the mention of ebooks, there’s very little which is new. There are a few factual statements like the following, but little actual defense from Grandinetti.

Mr. Grandinetti pushed back on the notion that Amazon is a goliath battling small players, observing that almost all of the major publishers are “part of much larger media conglomerates.”

The rest of the article is really just filler that has little to do with the headline other than providing context. It’s a good read but the headline is still highly misleading.

All in all, I continue to be impressed by Amazon’s ability to stay on focus and leak as little as possible. When I first read the WSJ headline, I was shocked that someone had broken ranks and actually talked about what Amazon is really doing. Amazon didn’t even send a spokesperson to the debate hosted by the NYPL last night, which made the WSJ interview doubly surprising.

But now it is obvious that what is really going on here is that the WSJ is not above using a clickbait headline. Given their coverage of hardware rumors, that comes as no surprise.

Don’t get me wrong, I too would like to know what Amazon really thinks and their true motives, but at this point we still don’t really know what that is.

image by keyofnight

The post WSJ: Amazon Exec Defends Its Stance Against Hachette – Except He Doesn’t, Really appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment