Monday, 29 September 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Qooq Launches new 10″ Kitchen Tablet

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 02:59 PM PDT

1540-1With a name like Qooq, you can tell that this French tablet maker doesn’t take itself too seriously. But the same can’t be said for their tablets, because Qooq just announced a new based on last year’s Nvidia Tegra 4 CPU.

The Qooq V3 runs Android 4.4.2 KitKat on a Tegra 4 CPU with 1GB RAM, and 16GB internal storage. It has 2 cameras (5MP and 1.2MP) Wifi, Bluetooth.

This tablet sports a 10″ display with a screen resolution of 1280 x 800. It also has a microSD card slot and a microHDMI port. Weighing in at around 700 grams, it measures 290 mm by 210 mm by 11.5 mm and somehow manages to fit in a 5.8Ah battery.


All in all this is not a bad tablet, although I do wish it had more RAM for the price. The Tegra 4 CPU, on the other hand, may not be Nvidia’s most powerful chip but it’s still far more powerful than you’ll need in the kitchen.

This tablet retails for 399 euros on That’s about $506, which is a little steep for this blogger but not entirely unreasonable. This tablet does ship with Qooq’s cookbooks and software, after all, so it could well be worth buying if you cook a lot.

In any case, this is a far better tablet than the last kitchen tablet I covered on this blog. That sad excuse for a cooking tablet was made by Archos, and it lacked Bluetooth and front-facing speakers. The new Qooq tablet might not have front-facing speakers either but you can pair with Bluetooth speakers.


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Kindle for iOS Updated for the iPhone 6

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 12:32 PM PDT

iphone 6iPhone 6 owners, take note.

Amazon rolled out a maintenance update today for the Kindle app. According to the changelog they did not add any additional features, but they did add support for Apple’s latest smartphone.  You can find the app in iTunes.

Apple reported selling 10 million iPhones over the launch weekend, so I’m sure today’s news is going to make at least a couple million iPhone owners very happy.

The iPhone 6 comes in two sizes, including with a 4.7″ smaller screen and a small 5.5″ screen (compared to 6″ and 7″ Android phablets, the iPhone 6 is small) with screen resolutions of 1334 x 750 and 1920 x 1080, respectively. These rather pricy phablets are outside of the price range of this blogger, but they have been providing some entertainment value. There are an unknown number of reports that the iPhone 6 Plus can bend if placed in a front pocket. Several bloggers have also demonstrated that it was possible to bend the 6 Plus using nothing more than their hands.

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Hachette’s Media Allies Strike a United Blow Against Amazon

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 12:04 PM PDT

sovietsuperhero01[1]Earlier today no fewer than 4 media outlets launched simultaneous attacks on Amazon. With a strong coalition of media allies that spans the Atlantic, Hachette now has the obstreperous and obstinate retailer on the run.

Led by David Streitfeld of the NY Times, today’s salvos take Amazon to task for daring to continue to ignore previous media attacks. Featuring a lead photo of Philip Roth in a $9,000 throne chair, David writes:

Now, hundreds of other writers, including some of the world's most distinguished, are joining the coalition. Few if any are published by Hachette. And they have goals far broader than freeing up the Hachette titles. They want the Justice Department to investigate Amazon for illegal monopoly tactics.

They also want to highlight the issue being debated endlessly and furiously on writers' blogs: What are the rights and responsibilities of a company that sells half the books in America and controls the dominant e-book platform?

David is joined by, which points out that Amazon is playing political favorites:

Here, courtesy of the Times, is a tale of two Hachette books:

"Sons of Wichita" by Daniel Schulman, a writer for Mother Jones magazine, came out in May. Amazon initially discounted the book, a well-received biography of the conservative Koch brothers, by 10 percent, according to a price-tracking service. Now it does not discount it at all. It takes as long as three weeks to ship.

"The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea" by Representative Paul Ryan has no such constraints, an unusual position these days for a new Hachette book.

Amazon refused to take advance orders for "The Way Forward," as it does with all new Hachette titles. But once the book was on sale, it was consistently discounted by about 25 percent. There is no shipping delay. Not surprisingly, it has a much higher sales ranking on Amazon than "Sons of Wichita."

An Amazon spokesman declined to explain why "The Way Forward" was getting special treatment. A spokesman for Mr. Ryan, the 2012 Republican nominee for vice president, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Hachette declined to comment.

zx620y348_1108737[1]And even Canada’s Globe and Mail is getting into the fight, noting that Amazon is evilly harming Canadian authors as well:

The Betrayers, a new novel by Toronto author David Bezmozgis, was published in the United States on Tuesday. But American readers trying to order the hardcover edition from are being informed that the novel "usually ships within 2 to 3 weeks," a surprisingly long wait for an anticipated new release such as this. The novel's American publisher, however, is Little, Brown and Co., a division of French conglomerate Hachette, and if you know anything about the publishing industry, you'll know the company is locked in a months-long war of attrition with the giant online retailer.

And last but not least, The Bookseller scored an interview with Douglas Preston, who explained that Authors United was still not taking sides and was sending the letter to the DOJ more with a sense of sorrow than anger:

In an email to signatories of the first two letters, Preston said: "I am very sorry that this step [the call to the DoJ] is necessary. I had hoped our efforts would have resulted in some gesture from Amazon, which is well aware of the damage it is doing to the careers of several thousand authors. Instead, we have been met with disparagement and what seems to be an escalation in sanctions, at least in terms of the number of books that are affected."

With this massed firepower, surely Amazon’s knees will buckle, Jeff Bezos’ will will break, and authors and publishers will march forward into a triumphant future!

images via the Sofia Echo

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Readfy Opens to the Public in Germany, Will Face Competition From Scribd, Kindle Unlimited

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 10:36 AM PDT

readfy_logo_cmyk__large_500_500[1]Following 8 months of private beta tests, the much anticipated advert-supported Readfy ebook service opened to the public this weekend. The service is launching with a catalog of 25,000 titles which can be read in apps for Android, iPad, and iPhone – at no cost to the user.

Rather than charge readers directly (like Scribd and Kindle Unlimited), Readfy subsidizes a free reading experience by selling adverts, and inserting the ads into ebooks. Banner ads occupy the upper edge of the screen while an ebook is open, and Readfy also inserts ads at chapter breaks. According to one source, the interstitial ads are currently images, but Readfy does plan to replace them them with auto-playing video ads.

readfy-banner[1]And in exchange for watching ads, readers can immerse themselves in ebooks published by a number of German publishers, including around 6,000 self-published titles.

Readfy’s not the first to try to fund an ebook service through ads; Wowio launched one years ago (before shutting it down) and plans to launch a new service later this year. But Readfy is perhaps the most uniquely financed ebook service. The Düsseldorf-based startup raised 500,000 euros this spring in a crowd funding campaign which drew the support of 1,363 investors.

It’s going to need to use those funds to walk a tightrope, balancing the need to not drive off readers with the need to show ads and charge for them. That is a far more difficult job than the one which faces Readfy’s competitors.

Speaking of which, Readfy is facing fierce competition In addition to Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, Scribd and  the local competitor Skoobe, Readfy will soon have to contend with Amazon as a direct competitor. Many sources are saying that Amazon will launch the Kindle unlimited service in Germany around the time of the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is less than two weeks away.

Kindle Unlimited launched in the US in July 2014, and only last week started its international expansion with a UK launch. With a catalog of over 650,000 titles,  KU could well be the juggernaut of this market, but its general lack of traditionally published titles gives its smaller competitors like Oyster and Scribd an advantage in the market. Both of those services have signed two major US trade publishers, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. This enables them to offer a catalog which Amazon cannot match (not without paying through the nose).

On the other hand both Scribd and Oyster have committed themselves to paying for each ebook after a certain percentage is read. This potentially turns their obligations into a bottomless pit, while most of Amazon’s costs are limited to a pool of money ($2 million in August 2014).,

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Update on the Ellora’s Cave v. Dear Author Defamation Suit

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 08:13 AM PDT

5751301741_aa8463e472_b[1]Much has changed in the three days since I brought you news that Ellora’s Cave was suing well-known romance book blog Dear Author for defamation, and few of the changes favor Ellora’s Cave.

Jane Litte, the pseudonymous editor of Dear Author, announced this morning that she had hired the big guns to defend her in this lawsuit, noting that:

But in a culture cluttered with people who are famous for no good reason whatsoever, Marc Randazza is an outlier: someone who is becoming famous as a First Amendment badass whose First Amendment badassery actually exceeds his rep.  If I ever get sued for defamation, he's my first call.– Popehat 

This is great news for Jane, but even if she wins this lawsuit it will still be a blow against bloggers, authors, and editors.

When I covered this story on Friday one of the details I noted was that this case bore all the hallmarks of a SLAPP, a type of lawsuit which was filed less for compensation than to silence critics.

While the lawsuit hasn’t deterred Dear Author it is having that effect on bloggers and editors who are understandably leery of being sued themselves. In the Morning Coffee post I linked to one blog which freely admitted that they were afraid of being sued, and Friday’s post also drew comments from book bloggers who wondered if they would be sued for posting a negative review. One even noted that a friend had been threatened with a lawsuit last year, just for posting a review.

What’s more, this lawsuit is also intimidating editors who had previously worked with Ellora’s Cave. I had noted in Friday’s post that authors were complaining of unpaid royalties, and a number of readers left anonymous comments saying that they had also gone unpaid for the editing work they had performed for Ellora’s Cave.

In short, Ellora’s Cave may lose this lawsuit but it is still a partial victory for them. They’ve succeeded in silencing potential critics.

Of course, this suit has also publicized EC’s atrocious business practices and behavior (just like I predicted on Friday), resulting in romance authors avoiding Ellora’s Cave like the plague and recommending that their readers do the same. So even if the critics are silenced this lawsuit could still torpedo EC’s publishing business. (One can only hope.)

image  by winnifredxoxo

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The Guardian Sees Crowd Sourced Editing as the Next Frontier, But They’re Actually Confusing Beta Readers With Editors

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 05:41 AM PDT

2233349300_9646c5864e_b[1]With some indie authors convinced that they don’t need a professional editor and more than a few major publishers skimping on the costs, developmental editing is unfortunately becoming more of a luxury than a requirement in producing a book.

In some circles it is often confused with simple proofreading, and a recent article in The Guardian certainly isn’t helping that trend. On Saturday this newspaper published an article which looked at a new digital publisher’s beta reader program and confused it with crowd sourced editing.

Now, a publishing startup has entered a new frontier: crowdsourced editing. Advance Editions aims to "make good books better" by drawing on the wisdom, knowledge and proofreading skills of readers around the world.

An Advance Editions title is professionally edited before being soft-launched as a low-cost ebook, with the first half available to download free. Readers are then invited to suggest ways the author could improve the book, before it is finally published a few months later in ebook and print versions.

While I applaud this publisher’s novel way of involving readers in finding errors, this isn’t really editing. It’s closer to proofreading, and it’s not new.

Difficult Book Club

What Advance Editions is doing here is a modern example of an idea which has been around for decades if not a century or more. Publishers have long used beta readers as the final step in the publishing process, so aside from The Guardian confusing this program with actual editing there really is nothing new here.

That said, I think that confusion is a sign of a worrisome trend. Book editing is an often invisible addition to the quality of a published book, so it is difficult to show that it has value. This has led some to discount what a developmental editor can add to the finished product.

Luckily for me, I do have an example of just how much a good editor can contribute.

In 1974 Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle wrote a book called The Mote in God’s Eye. Before they sent the manuscript to the publisher, they first sent a copy to Robert Heinlein and asked him to critique it. He responded with a 14-page letter which shows just how much even successful, professional authors can benefit from the assistance of a developmental editor.

He effectively rewrote the book by advising them to discard the first 100 pages and change several key plot points. He also caught numerous errors which only an expert would notice.

You can find that letter in the The Virginia Edition of Heinlein’s collected works, and it can also be found in the sample PDF which has been floating around. If you are an author or simply interested in literary analysis, it is well worth your time to read.

images by Benson KuaEditor B

The post The Guardian Sees Crowd Sourced Editing as the Next Frontier, But They’re Actually Confusing Beta Readers With Editors appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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