Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 18 September 2014

Posted: 17 Sep 2014 08:28 PM PDT

The reading list this morning includes a list of signs that you are addicted to tech, a takedown of Malcolm Gladwell, 10 things you shouldn’t say to a writer, an explanation of why you might not be reading as broad of a range of views as you thought, and more.

  • The 6 Signs You’re Tech Addicted and What You Can Do About It (
  • 'The Idiot's Guide to Smart People' Takes on Malcolm Gladwell: VIDEO (GalleyCat)
  • Dutch court refers questions to CJEU on e-lending and digital exhaustion  (The IPKat)
  • Ten Things To Never Say To A Writer (terribleminds: chuck wendig)
  • Using the Kindle store's Advanced Search (I Love My Kindle)
  • Why Nobody Is Paying for Expensive Textbooks Anymore (vocativ)
  • Why publishers should listen to Clay Shirky (Brian O’Leary)
  • WTF is the filter bubble? (Digiday)

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Amazon to Add New Reading Features to the Kindle Platform This Fall

Posted: 17 Sep 2014 08:25 PM PDT

feature-accessories._V325449456_In addition to launching a couple new Kindles on Wednesday, Amazon is also saying that they’re launching a whole slew of new reading features (some of which, including Kindle Unlimited, aren’t quite as new as Amazon would have you think).

Amazon is pitching Kindle Freetime Unlimited, X-Ray, Kindle Unlimited, and GoodReads integration as being “all-new reading features”, but I don’t see anything new there so I will skip them. (If I missed something, please leave a comment, and kudos for pointing out my omission.)

But some of the features are new to me, or at least sound like they’re improved versions of existing features, including a new assisted reading option called Word Wise, Family Library, an enhanced search function, and a new about section.

Amazon says that the new new features will be added this fall in a firmware update.

About the Book

This one sounds appealing. The About the Book section offers information about the book as you start to read, including its place in a series and author information, plus mark. This feature builds on Amazon’s book social networks and existing features like “About the Author” to provide more details for the engaged reader.



Word Wise

I also don’t see that I have the Word Wise feature, which i suspect may be an improved version of the Vocabulary Builder. Word Wise was developed for kids learning to read and for readers learning English, and it is intended to make it easier to understand challenging books.

According to Amazon, after Word Wise is added in a future update readers will find their ebooks peppered with short and simple definitions floating above difficult words. To learn more, a reader can tap on the word to bring up a simple card with definitions, synonyms, and more. Amazon says that this is an optional feature, and that you can select the density of the hints with a simple slider.


Enhanced Search

The search function has been one of my favorite features since the Kindle launched 7 years ago, and Amazon says that it’s getting better. The new enhanced search function will make it even easier to find what a reader is looking for by combining and previewing results from their Library, Goodreads and the Kindle Store – all on the same page of search results. I’m not sure that I see how that is better, but I could be wrong.


Family Library

And last but not least, there’s the Family Library. Want to share ebooks with your close relatives but don’t want to let them have access to your account? Then you’ll like this.  I don’t have many details on it yet, but Amazon says that it will enable readers to access not only their own Kindle books, but also books from the Amazon account of a partner or relative. I don’t know about you but I can’t wait to try it; I can finally get my mom off of my account.


According to the press release, the features above will be delivered as part of a free, over-the-air software update sometime this fall.

The post Amazon to Add New Reading Features to the Kindle Platform This Fall appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Launches the Kindle Voyage, Will Charge an Arm and a Leg

Posted: 17 Sep 2014 07:55 PM PDT

Kindle-VoyageWith the cat long out of the bag, Amazon officially launched the Kindle Voyage Wednesday night.

This new Kindle model is everything that the TechCrunch story from last November said it would be. It sports a 6″ E-ink screen with a screen resolution of 1440 x 1080, or 300 dpi. It has a touchscreen, an adaptive frontlight with ambient light sensors, and those fancy page turn sensors which I am dying to try out.

In many ways this is a souped up, premium version of the existing Kindle Paperwhite, and since it has many of the same features as that well-known I won’t repeat them here.

But I do notice that there are a few improvements, in addition to those light sensors. Amazon is boasting that this is new Kindle is their thinnest yet; at 7.6mm, it is even thinner than the recently discontinued basic Kindle. And at 6.3 ounces, it is also noticeably lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite.

feature-techspecs._V325436006_ feature-accessories._V325436015_ Kindle-Voyage

Speaking of which, the Paperwhite will not be going anywhere. It’s going to stay at its current price point, and keep the 4GB of storage. It’s now Amazon’s mid-tier ereader, with a price and features in between the $79 Kindle (or Paperwhite Junior, as I think it should be called), and the $199 Kindle Voyage.

Yes, the Kindle Voyage is going to cost $199 – for the Wifi and ad-subsidized version. The 3G model will cost more, with the highest price point at $289. Both models are expected to ship on 21 October.

That price point is going to make the Kindle Voyage a damned expensive ereader. It will cost more than the Kobo Aura H2O, which will sell for $179 and has a larger screen and pretty design.

While I understand why Amazon is charging so much (production costs for the screen and other components), I think the price tag on the Voyage may be a mistake. It is far more than I am willing to pay for a 6″ ereader with no sound or card slot – high resolution screen or no.

I have been thinking about the Voyage ever since the news leaked this morning, and this might surprise you but if I were choosing between the KV or one of the two 6.8″ ereaders on the market (Kobo Aura H2O or Onyx Boox t68 Lynx), I would go for the latter. I like the bigger screen over the sharper screen.

I’ve been wanting a Kindle with a 6.8″ screen ever since the Aura HD appeared last year. If it had launched today I would have already pre-ordered. Alas, Amazon continues to disappoint.

But that’s just me; what do you think of the new Kindle?

The post Amazon Launches the Kindle Voyage, Will Charge an Arm and a Leg appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Replaces the Basic Kindle With Touchscreen-Equipped Model, Will Ship it on 2 October

Posted: 17 Sep 2014 05:50 PM PDT

Kindle_00F_USThe blogosphere is all abuzz today with the news of the new Kindle Voyage, but that’s not the new Kindle that Amazon has on the way.

Lost in the excited chatter about the Kindle Voyage comes the news that Amazon is indeed replacing the now discontinued basic Kindle with a touchscreen model.

Details are still scarce, but that screenshot from the German blog tells us that the new Kindle model will have a 6″ screen and a touchscreen. It’s expected to ship on 2 October, and cost 59 euros in Germany, or about 10 euros more than the current basic Kindle.

Update: The new Kindle has officially launched, and it will ship on 2 October. Retail is $79 (ad-supported), or $10 more than the model which was just replaced. The new device has the same screen resolution, a touchscreen but no frontlight or sound, 4GB internal storage. In many ways it looks like a slightly bloated Kindle Paperwhite, only with 4 weeks battery life and weighing about half an ounce less.

It will have the same features and abilities as the Kindle Paperwhite, and look like this:

Kindle_00F_US feature-accessories._V325449456_ feature-techspecs._V325754553_



There are no details on the screen resolution, and I still have unanswered questions (ohne spiegeleffekte?), but it looks like I wasn’t too far off when I speculated that Amazon might replace the basic Kindle with a reduced price Kindle Paperwhite. (I also said that the replacement would cost the same; let’s see if I got that right as well.)

If this listing is real then the mention of the touchscreen tells us that the new Kindle model will not be running the same software as the late and beloved basic Kindle. Instead, the new model will likely be running the same software as on the Kindle Paperwhite.

As you may or may not know, the basic Kindle ran Kindle OS4, while Amazon’s touchscreen-equipped Kindles ran Kindle OS5. Both versions of the Kindle software offered many of the same features, but Kindle OS5 was customized to support touchscreens. And so if the new model has a touchscreen there is a good chance that it will run Kindle OS5 and have all the same features as the Kindle Paperwhite.

Will it have the same screen resolution as the Paperwhite? What about the frontlight?

I don’t have answers to those questions yet, but I suspect Amazon is going to announce the new device shortly – as in, some time in the next few hours.

Keep an eye on the blog feeds; this story isn’t over with yet.


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Comixology Expands DRM-Free Offerings With Second Wave of Publishers

Posted: 17 Sep 2014 02:46 PM PDT

comixology mobilePleased with the response to their DRM-free comics offerings, Comixology announced today that they were expanding the selection of DRM-free comics.

Fourteen comics publishers, including DW Publishing, Valiant, Oni Press, Fantagraphic, Aspen Comics, Action Lab, Th3rd World Studios, A Wave Blue World, Blind Ferret, Caliber Comics, Creative Impulse, Devil?s Due, GT Labs Comics, and Kingstone, are following the 6 publishers who helped Comixology launch the DRM-free offering just over 2 months ago.

Announced at San Diego Comicon in early July, the DRM-free option had reportedly been one of the most requested features from readers. “We do this 'Ask Us Anything' — we have done it for many years — and inevitably, a question every year is, 'Why is there DRM on my book? I want to own it,'” said Comixology CEO David Steinberger. He continued: “My answer has always been that it is more important to get all the publishers on board than to do DRM-free.”

He added, “It's just the right time. Image started offering DRM-free, Top Shelf been doing it for a while — I just felt like I couldn’t sit up here and answer that question any more with a straight face.”

Thes 14 publishers are  joining Image Comics, Dynamite, Zenescop, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, and Top Shelf in offering their readers the option of downloading a DRM-free PDF or CBZ “backup” copy of their purchases.

Comixology describes the DRM-free versions as backups because they’d much rather have readers stay in the Comixology apps, and because these are the plain vanilla version of the comics, which lack the guided view and other bonus features found in the Comixology app.

Robot 6



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Acer Iconia Tab 8W Windows 8 Tablet Clears the FCC

Posted: 17 Sep 2014 12:40 PM PDT

The Acer Iconia Tab 8W might not be scheduled to ship until early November, but its pass through the FCC this week gave us an early look inside this $150 Windows 8 tablet.


The Iconia Tab 8W  runs Windows 8.1 on an Intel Atom Z3735G CPU with 1GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage, and it features an 8″ display with a screen resolution of 1280 x 800.

It also has 2 cameras (resolution unknown), Wifi, Bluetooth, a microSD card slot, a microHDMO port, and it weighs in at about 13 ounces. According to past reports from Acer, this tablet should get up to 8 hours of battery life.

The Iconia Tab 8W is but the latest tablet to ship with the Bay Trail Z3735G chip. this is one of Intel’s newer and cheaper Atom chips, and it was developed with low end Windows tablets in mind – in particular the type of tablet that would barely meet the  minimum hardware specs (the 1GB/16GB rule).

It’s not the first tablet to aim for the bottom, and it is by no means the cheapest (not even for Windows 8 tablets). There’s also the $99 Excite Go from Toshiba, which wastes a very powerful chip in the body of a budget Android tablet.

8w_07 8w_08 8w_09 8w_06 tab-8-w_06 tab-8-w_04



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LongForm Releases New Curated News App for iPad, iPhone

Posted: 17 Sep 2014 09:55 AM PDT, one of two services that curate and promote quality non-fiction writing on the Web, released its new iOS app today.

The service is replacing the paid iPad app which it had initially released in 2012 with a new app that is free and runs on both the iPad and iPhone . (There is no Android app).

Capital NY reports:

The new app is far more exhaustive, and for the first time is customizable. Instead of the 50 or so magazines that were available on the iPad app, over 1,000 publishers will be specifically included on the new one.

Users will also have the option to “follow” specific publishers and writers—doing so will generate a feed of published content that is similar to a curated Twitter stream.

And, like on Twitter, users can “follow” one another; as a result, articles recommended by one user will show up in the feed of another.

You can find the app in iTunes.

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Do you follow Longform? What about its recently acquired competitor, Longreads?

I follow the RSS feeds offered by each service, where they tweet links to the articles they find. Not counting duplicates, the two services link to (I think) about 15 articles a day. I don’t have enough hours to read nearly that many articles, but I do click through on some of the stories with interesting titles.

Even though I skip most of the links, these services are still useful. They keep my reading habits from getting too narrow and too focused on digital publishing, while also introducing me to better writers that I might emulate.

The post LongForm Releases New Curated News App for iPad, iPhone appeared first on The Digital Reader.

On Mourning the Passing of Barnes & Noble

Posted: 17 Sep 2014 07:43 AM PDT

36d04ea[1]a guest post by Rich Adin

After this week's news that Barnes & Noble has lost money yet again, I decided that perhaps I should begin thinking about writing B&N's obituary. After all, I am a B&N member and I buy a lot of books from B&N and I will miss it when the last store and website is finally shuttered.

But I was told not to don my mourning clothes yet. B&N has a plan. Great, I thought, until I realized that the same people who have brought B&N to its knees are the ones with the plan to save it. Not very likely.

The problem with B&N is simple: management that cannot see even a baby step's worth of distance in the future. There are any number of relatively simple steps that could bring B&N back from the precipice, but each would have to begin with a recognition that today's management team needs to be gone yesterday.

Start with customer service. How poor can customer service be? I don't know but B&N is surely leading the way. Consider what happens when you call customer service. If you are lucky, you get someone who speaks English like a native and without a thick brogue that makes them incomprehensible. You know you are in trouble when the representative calls you "Mr. Richard." The reason this is a problem is that the reps do not understand the problem you are trying to convey and so insist on a solution that is no solution.

For example, I recently ordered a book from Amazon Canada. I had to order it there because neither B&N nor Amazon US was showing the book except in their marketplace and the marketplace pricing for a clean copy was double or more the price Amazon Canada was asking. (The book cost over $100 to begin with, even at Amazon Canada.) When I received the book from Amazon, it was the right book but not the advertised book. The advertised book was for the correct print year and did not state that it was a print-on-demand reprint; in other words, I thought I was buying an original copy.

I realized that because of the book's age, all that would be available would be like this, so I wrote Amazon Canada and told them I intended to keep the book but that they should note on their website that the edition they were selling was a POD reprint. Within a few hours I received a reply thanking me, telling me that the information had been passed on to the appropriate people, and because I planned to keep the book, Amazon was refunding 25% of the price.

The book from Amazon was the first volume in a nonfiction trilogy. Volumes 2 and 3 were available from B&N, and so I ordered them from B&N. Volume 3 was just released, so it was not a problem. Volume 2 was released several years ago but not so long ago that I should expect a POD reprint — but that is what I got. So I called B&N customer service (sending an email is, I have found, an utter waste of time). I got one of the "Mr. Richard" representatives. I tried to explain the problem and explicitly said I planned to keep the book and that my only purpose in calling was so that they could adjust their website to indicate that it is a POD reprint. After all, this was another very expensive book and the website implies you are getting an original.

I might as well have been talking in a hurricane for all that the representative either understood or cared. The rep "resolved" the problem by ordering another copy be sent to me because he agreed that website did indicate it was not a POD reprint that was being offered. I tried to prevent this, but after a few minutes, I gave up. I received the second copy of the POD reprint and sent it back with a detailed note indicating what was wrong and what I thought they should do. And so the tale ends.

There was no follow-up from B&N and the rep didn't understand the problem or the solution I was suggesting. (He did say that there was nothing he could do about the website. Apparently that includes notifying anyone of an error at the site.) Bottom line is that B&N customer service continues to be an example of what not to do and Amazon continues to be an example of what to do. This same complaint about customer service was made several years ago on AAE and elsewhere and the same management team continues to do nothing.

The second place for B&N to go is to improve the interaction between buyers and B&N. B&N needs to be innovative, especially when it comes to its members. How difficult, for example, would it be to let members create a list of authors in which they are interested and for B&N to send a monthly email saying that a new book by one of my listed authors has been announced; click this link to preorder.

Along with that, B&N should guarantee that the preorder price is the highest price I would have to pay (which it B&N already does do without saying so) but that should at anytime before shipment the price be less, B&N guarantees that the lower price will be the price I will pay. As it is now, because I preorder books months in advance, I need to constantly recheck and if a price is lower, I need to cancel my existing preorder and re-preorder. Can B&N make it any more inconvenient for the customer?

In addition, B&N should be sending me monthly emails telling me of upcoming or newly released (since the last email) books that are similar to books I have previously bought. I know they have the information because both online customer service and the local store management are able to peruse books I have bought. To entice me to buy from this list (or even to preorder), B&N should offer me an additional 10% discount on the listed titles, which discount is good until the release of the next email and the next list of books.

Members of B&N are the prize for B&N. Members are likely to be those who buy exclusively or primarily from B&N and not Amazon and are the people who are more than casual readers. If you buy 1 or 2 books a year, you wouldn't pay for a membership; it is people who buy a large number of books who pay for membership (e.g., just before writing this essay, I preordered 1 hardcover and ordered 2 others). So why not reward members based on their buying? For example, buy 15 books and beginning with the book 16, you will get overnight shipping or an additional 5% discount or something. Buy 20 books and get a gift certificate. Think up rewards that encourage more buying and offer those rewards to members. Make membership valuable. It isn't rocket science.

Much (but not all) of B&N's problems are from a mismanaged ebook division. Even though ebooks aren't the bulk of sales, B&N should not be conceding the market. It doesn't take much imagination to figure out how to improve sales or get more Nook loyalty. A simple way is to make it so that when a person buys the hardcover they can get the ebook for $2 more if they would like both options. Buy the first ebook in a trilogy and if you buy books 2 and 3 at the same time, you get book 2 for 50% off and book 3 for free. Maybe these won't work but they are worth exploring and cutting special deals with publishers to make them happen.

The publishers have an interest in B&N remaining afloat. Should B&N shutter its brick-and-mortar stores, publishers will lose showrooms as well as major sales outlets. Publishers should create special editions available only at B&N. They should make shopping at B&N and at brick-and-mortar stores worthwhile. Make these deals available only through physical stores.

There are a lot of things that B&N — and publishers — can and should do to rejuvenate B&N. Unfortunately, these things require imagination, something B&N has in very short supply. Consequently, because I do not expect any miracles at B&N, I will continue to prepare its obituary. Maybe I'll be fooled and my masterpiece will never see the light of the Internet; if so, I'll be pleasantly surprised. But until B&N calls me and asks me for my ideas and calls other members and asks for their ideas, I won't get my hopes up.

What would you do if given the opportunity to turn B&N around?

reposted with permission from An American Editor

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New Leaks Reveal the Kindle Voyage with a 300 DPI Screen

Posted: 17 Sep 2014 05:17 AM PDT

kindle voyage imageRemember that TechCrunch story from last November about the Kindle Paperwhite codenamed Ice Wine and the 300 dpi screen?

Update: The Kindle Voyage has  launched. It will cost $199 and up, and ship on 21 October.

It turns out that, aside from the launch date, the details were mostly true. 

A German blogger has discovered leaked product pages on the website that revealed that Amazon’s next Kindle could be called the Kindle Voyage. Said product pages didn’t include images, and in fact they have since been removed, but not before the blogger took a screen shot:


The mentions on don’t say much about this device’s specs or abilities, but there are hints that it has an improved frontlight and a new way to turn the page (page turn buttons like in the TechCrunch story, perhaps). It’s also clear that there will be 3G and Wifi models, but I think we could have guessed that.

Edit: the 300 dpi screen spec suggest that the screen resolution is 1440 x 1080, the same as on the larger 6.8″ E-ink screen used by the Kobo Aura HD/H2O.

There isn’t much information to be teased out of the leak, but luckily for us Amazon suffered a similar leak on their Japanese website.

The Verge found a copy of the Japanese product page for the Kindle Voyage in the Google Cache. We still don’t have pictures, but we do have confirmation that this isn’t a work of fiction. We also have a few extra specs.

Weighing in at 186 grams, the Kindle Voyage will be thinner and lighter than its predecessor. The Japanese product page confirms the 300 dpi screen, although it’s not clear what the screen will be made from. It also tells us there are page turn areas built into the bezel around the screen, just like in the Techcrunch story.

Update: And thanks to, we now have an image of the new Kindle Voyage:

kindle voyage image

And last but not least, the leaked product page lists the ship date as 4 November. That is rather late in the year, but it also suggests that the US launch could take place about a month before, with the Kindle Voyage shipping in the US in mid-October.

That’s still late, but I find it plausible.

Do you?

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