Friday, 19 September 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

B&N Says They Took Away the Download Option as a Security Measure – Here’s How to Get Around It

Posted: 19 Sep 2014 02:00 PM PDT

microsoft nookWhen I first reported yesterday that B&N had removed the option to download ebook purchases from its website, I didn’t know whether that was a technical snafu or an intentional move. Sadly, B&N has confirmed that they did it on purpose:

The ability to download from the NOOK® website and then sideload certain NOOK eBooks has been discontinued as part of a recent security update. Content that has previously been downloaded can continue to be sideloaded to NOOK devices. Customers can continue to access all of their content through the NOOK Library® on any NOOK device or Free NOOK Reading App™ as they have always been able to do. Customers can also continue to sideload other supported file formats.

Given the ease with which one can strip the DRM from the ebooks bought at the Nook Store, I’m not sure exactly what security is gained by blocking the direct download option. (Kudos to Chris Meadows for guessing that B&N was foolish enough use security as their justification).

But never mind B&N; let’s look at what readers should do next.

How to Download Nook eBooks

You can still download Nook ebooks, but since we can no longer trust B&n to allow us access to our purchases I think you should go ahead and take the extra step of stripping the DRM as well.

Whether you choose to take that step is your business, but how you go about it will depend on how you read Nook ebooks.

For example, if you read on a Nook ereader, you can use the DRM-stripping instructions I posted in late 2012 to automatically transfer your ebooks off of your device and on to a computer via a USB cable. I updated those instructions in late 2013, so they don’t quite match the current version of Calibre, but they can still be used as a guideline.

If you don’t have a Nook device, I think your best bet would be to install either NookStudy or Nook4PC and use those apps to download your ebooks. Of course, they can’t download everything, just the ebooks which they can open ( N4PC does not support digital comics, for example).

Neither app is supported any longer by B&N, but you can download ebooks – and then you can strip the DRM.

But what if you don’t want to strip the DRM, but simply want to download the ebooks? In that case, you might want to consider a handy little userscript for Firefox and Chrome.

B&N’s change in policy has upset a lot of people, and a couple helpful souls over at MobileRead have dredged up a userscript that adds a download link for each ebook on your My Nook page. It’s really easy to use, and it doesn’t do anything other than help you download an ebook. It won’t strip the DRM, but it does give you a copy of your purchases.

In order to use the script, you will first need to install either GreaseMonkey (Firefox) or TaperMonkey (Chrome). These are plugins which you will need to run the script.

You can find the script at this link. I got it to work on both Chrome and Firefox. As you can see in the screen shot below, it adds a download link, not a button.

barnes noble download links

The post B&N Says They Took Away the Download Option as a Security Measure – Here’s How to Get Around It appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Authors United Revises Letter to Amazon Board, Adds More Insulting Language

Posted: 19 Sep 2014 11:42 AM PDT

14081276688_e52785f073_c[1]Apparently Authors United has decided that they haven’t received enough criticism for the open letter they sent to the Amazon board of directors earlier this week, because they’ve quietly revised said letter to be more insulting.

That letter still has the typo in the first line, and it still misquotes Russ Grandinetti, but where the original letter made a swipe at Chinese authors, the new version of the letter replaced it with a general dig at all non-US writers. 

Author Laura Kirwan noticed the revision yesterday, and I can confirm the change. The version of the letter which I found in the Wayback Machine at the internet Archive does not match the version currently residing on the Authors United website.

If you are interested, you can see the differences here:

There are several minor changes, but the important changes can all be found in this paragraph. I’ve bolded the new bits, and crossed out the deletions.

Amazon has every right to refuse to sell consumer goods in response to a pricing disagreement with a wholesaler. We all appreciate discounted razor blades and cheaper shoes. But books are not mere consumer goods. Books cannot be written more cheaply, nor can authors be outsourced to China another country. Books are not toasters or televisions. Each book is the unique, quirky creation of a lonely, intense, and often expensive struggle on the part of a single individual, a person whose living depends on his or her book finding readers. This is the process Amazon is obstructing endangers when it uses its tremendous power to separate authors from their readership.

I had missed the dig about China when I covered the letter on Monday because I was distracted by the illogic in the other part of that sentence, but others caught it and criticized AU for bashing China.

In response, Authors United decided to disparage all non-US authors as equally inferior to US authors. I guess AU, a group ostensibly started to protect authors from the trepidations of Amazon, is only interested in defending the right kind of authors.

Never has any group so clearly epitomized the definition of a committee: the only life form with 12 stomachs and no brain. Clearly no more thought went into this revision than into the original letter – not unless the skull sweat was invested in how to make it worse.

image  by Anne Worner

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AAP Reports eBook Sales Up in the First Part of 2014

Posted: 19 Sep 2014 10:09 AM PDT

aapThe American Association of Publishers posted their monthly irregularly released snapshot report of the state of the US trade publishing industry today, and the news is generally good.

The 1,200 US publishers who supply data to the AAP reported that their collected revenues reached $2.6 billion in the first 5 months of the year, up 3.9% from $2.55 billion last year.

As you can see in the chart below, the adult segment was down 3.6%, religious presses dropped a fraction of a percent,  the kid’s/YA segment grew by 30.1% (don’t you just love those movie inspired market fluctuations?).

In terms of formats, ebooks were one of the two bright spots in this report. The AAP says ebook sales totaled $670 million, up 7% from $626 million last year. Surprisingly, sales of paperback books also increased by 6.3%, while hardback books dropped a fraction of a percent. (Audiobook sales continued their steady incline, growing by 25.3%.)

eBook growth has picked up since the last AAP report, which covered the first 3 months of the year, while hardback sales have dropped. This likely reflects general market fluctuations rather than (as I would hope) a sign of serious growth.

Here’s all the sales data I received; note that there is a typo in the first chart.

aap first 5 months 2014 may


The post AAP Reports eBook Sales Up in the First Part of 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Facebook Updates Their News Feed Algorithm (Again)

Posted: 19 Sep 2014 08:31 AM PDT

facebookIt’s been just over a month since Facebook announced their last change to the filters they place on your news feed, and the social network is back with even more tweaks.

While the last changes were designed to discourage clickbait, the new changes are hoped to help improve relevancy. Facebook announced yesterday that the new algorithms would try to factor in the timeliness of an update. Or as they put it:

We've heard feedback that there are some instances where a post from a friend or a Page you are connected to is only interesting at a specific moment, for example when you are both watching the same sports game, or talking about the season premiere of a popular TV show. There are also times when a post that is a day or two old may not be relevant to you anymore. Our latest update to News Feed ranking looks at two new factors to determine if a story is more important in the moment than other types of updates.

Facebook hasn’t explained why they made the change, but it could be in part a response to criticism of how little blue handled coverage of the Ferguson protests. Updates which mentioned the St Louis suburb were buried under virally popular content like ice bucket challenge videos.

To emphasize timeliness, the new algorithms place more weight on updates that correlate to trending topics on Facebook. When the topic stops trending those updates  will drop to a lower position in your news feed or simply disappear altogether.

Facebook will also apply a similar filter to your personal updates;  if it sees  high engagement when the update is new, but fewer comments or likes later on, FB will assume your update’s 15 minutes of fame has passed and will decrease its prominence.

I for one would prefer a simple chronological feed which only I could tweak, but we all know FB would never go for that. If FB didn’t exert control then they couldn’t charge for promoted posts or insert unasked for adverts.



The post Facebook Updates Their News Feed Algorithm (Again) appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Don’t Like Amazon’s New Kids’ Tablet? Here are 5 Alternatives

Posted: 19 Sep 2014 07:32 AM PDT

kindle-fire-hd-kids-3[1]Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition tablet is going to be getting a lot of press over the next few weeks, but it’s not the first tablet to launch in this market – nor even the twenty-first.

Here are 5 kids tablets that you might consider in place of the Fire HD Kids Edition. (You might also retrofit your existing tablet as a hand-me-down, but this might not work for everyone).

The $150 Fire HD Kids Edition has many things going for it, including an extended warranty, but its competitors have strengths of their own (for example, not giving your user data to Amazon). Some are based on general purpose Android tablet designs (Samsung), while others are highly focused academic tablets (XO tablet from OLPC).


Skin_Kurio_pink_persp[1]This company makes a line of kid-safe tablets and smartphones. I haven’t had my hands on one, but I do know that you can find 7″ and 10″ models (as well as a 4″ smartphone).

The hardware has mixed reviews and Kurio is not getting much buzz in the ed tech blogs I follow, so further research is warranted.


nabi-tablet-2-420x380[1]Fuhu is a name that anyone who follows tablet news should recognize. Their Nabi line of Android tablets are highly regard by many reviewers.

Fuhu offers Nabi tablets with 5″, 7″, and 10″ screens. They have multiple models, including ones which focus more on entertainment (Dreamtab) and ones which are more academically focused (Nabi Jr).

They in fact offer so many models that I can’t link to just one, and have to link to the website home [age

Chromo Orbo Jr.

orbo-jr-tablet-review[3]Here’s a 7″ tablet with not too terrible specs from a little know company, which can be picked up cheap.

It’s so cheap that I would normally avoid it, but it did get a good review online. This might be a good choice for some parents.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids Edition

SM-T2105GYABTU-185363-0[1]Released last year, the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids Edition offers a premium priced alternative for the kids tablet market. Samsung has a reputation in the Android tablet market for quality hardware and long battery life, but that comes with a high price tag.

This tablet costs $199, and I don’t know about you but I would rather get two tablets for that price.  What’s more, reviewers noted that there were issues with a lack of software features and with bundled apps, so if you get this tablet you’ll need to double check and make sure it can do what you want.

OLPC XO Tablet

hands[1] OLPC  is widely known for their XO educational laptop, and last year they followed up with the launch of an educational tablet.

The XO tablet is an Android tablet running customized software. It has a strict focus on academics, so it won’t be the right tablet for everyone. But it did get high reviews, and it does have decent hardware plus a lot of educational software.


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