Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 4 September 2014

Posted: 03 Sep 2014 08:29 PM PDT

There’s an ecclectic set of links on the reading list this Thursday morning, including a post arguing that The Doctor is a Mary Sue, the effect anonymity has on feedback from readers, and more.

  • Dishing Junk: Ten Ways to Piss Off a Book Blogger (Parajunkee)
  • The Doctor and Sherlock are Mary Sues (Things Matter)
  • Is Amazon Poised to Steal Print On Demand? (Brave New World)
  •  KU or KO? On streaming, subscription and big data (FutureBook)
  • Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum offers refuge to embattled authors (MobyLives)
  • The Reader/Writer Relationship… a Cautionary Tale (Mark Capell)
  • Research shows that if you remove anonymity, you won't hear from most of your readers (GigaOm)

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Amazon Launches Kindle Kids’ Book Creator, Announces KDP Kids

Posted: 03 Sep 2014 03:21 PM PDT

Kids_Page_Hero._CB345447331_[1]Making an ebook is easy – so long as it mainly consists of text. But if you want to want to make a fixed layout ebook like a kid’s picture book, that’s a little harder, which is why Amazon launched Kindle Comics Creator last year and why Amazon just launched the Kindle Kids' Book Creator.

This new tool helps authors and publishers combine artwork and text into an illustrated kids' book which can be read in a Kindle app on smartphones, tablets, and computers. I haven’t had a chance to use it myself, but Amazon says that it will create a great reading experience for kids and parents alike.

From the description in the user manual, I can see that the app lets authors import manuscripts in html, PDF, Epub, Mobi, Word (doc/docx), and other formats, and that the supported image formats include ppm, png, jpg, and tiff.

“Authors want to focus on telling great stories and we want to help them do that. No one should have to be a computer programmer to create a beautiful, illustrated Kindle book for kids,” said Russ Grandinetti, Senior Vice President, Kindle.

In addition to launching the new app, Amazon also opened a new section of their self-pub platform. KDP Kids complements the new app by offering authors age and grade recommendations so parents can better choose the books suitable for their kids.

All in all this looks like it will be a pretty useful tool – assuming that all you want to do is make Kindle ebooks.

You can download the app from Amazon; it’s available for Windows 7,8 and for OSX.

The post Amazon Launches Kindle Kids' Book Creator, Announces KDP Kids appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Kobo Aura H2O Now up for Pre-order – My Review Unit Has Arrived

Posted: 03 Sep 2014 02:22 PM PDT

aurah2o_blk_angledleft_single_home_caAs promised by Kobo, their latest and greatest ebook reader the Aura H2O went up for pre-order on Monday. And much to my surprise my loaner review unit arrived today from Kobo, meaning that I should have time to post a review before Kobo starts shipping orders at the end of the month.

The Kobo Aura H2O is a premium ebook reader with a 6.8″ Carta E-ink screen, frontlight, and touchscreen. It’s the first ereader to use this screen, and it is also the first premium ereader to ship with IP67 certification.

Like its predecessor, the Aura H2O runs kobo’s proprietary reading software on a 1GHz CPU with 4GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, and Wifi. It ships with much the same features and the same bonus apps like a web browser.

The new Aura H2O is currently sitting on my desk, and while I have just started playing with it I can conform that it feels much nicer in my hands. It’s slightly thinner than the Aura HD, and it also has a rubberized layer on the rear shell which is both easier for me to hold and offers a more pleasant texture than the cheap plastic shell of its predecessor.

kobo aura h2o

My Aura HD is still charging, so I can’t do a long comparison, but I can tell you right now that I can really see the difference in the screens. The newer Aura H2O has a Carta E-ink screen, while the Aura HD has a Pearl E-ink screen, and it is easy to see which one is using the older screen tech.

The screen on the Aura H2O has a whiter and brighter frontlight. The colors stronger. I know that it is strange to say that one grayscale screen is better than another, but in this case it is true.

I can also see that the software is slightly different, but since my Aura HD just went into an update cycle I don’t think that difference will last long. I’ll let you know if it is different when I post my review in a couple weeks.

The Aura H2O is up for pre-order from Kobo, with a retail price of $180. It is scheduled to ship at the end of the month.

The post Kobo Aura H2O Now up for Pre-order – My Review Unit Has Arrived appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Digg Expands Digg Deeper with Reader, iOS App Integration

Posted: 03 Sep 2014 12:39 PM PDT

digg_logo-617x416[1]The news aggregator cum social network Digg announced today thatthey were expanding their two-month-old Digg Deeper service.

Designed to show you what your friends are sharing on Twitter, Digg Deeper takes the idea of idea of news aggregators in a new direction – one which is more personal and less aggregate. As of today, Digg Deeper has been integrated into Digg’s RSS reader service, and it has also been added to the Digg iOS app in a recent update.


Digg Reader now shows you the most rapidly trending stories and videos among the people you follow on Twitter. If you’ve ever wanted to keep up on your news feeds while still sampling the links your Twitter friends share, now you can.

The Digg app for iPad and iPhone was updated today to version 5.4.1, and it can be downloaded from iTunes. readers can now see their friends' recommended stories as a stream they can scroll, as as-they-happen notifications, or as a real time alert.  It's an amazing way to get the collective recommendations of your friends, and then quickly scan what they had to say.

And last but not least Digg is also added a daily email digest. Digg has long offered optional real-time Digg Alerts for the most-shared stories and videos among your friends, and now Diggers can elect to have all their Digg Deeper links gathered into a single email and delivered as a daily email.

Digg Deeper launched in early July. I haven’t gotten around to using it (access was limited during the early days, and then I forgot) but I have been using a couple similar services.

The launch of Digg Deeper inspired me to sign up for, a service which is kinda the parent of Digg Deeper. I also tested Vellum, a web app from the NY Times which tries to fill a similar need.

Neither Vellum nor have proven very useful, but that could be because I already spend so much time on Twitter. If I were kept away more often I would probably value having the shared links filtered out and sent to me in an email.

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The $69 Kindle is Out of Stock – Could This be a Sign of a New Model on the Way?

Posted: 03 Sep 2014 09:23 AM PDT

Amazon-Kindle[1]Initially released in late 2011, the basic Kindle set a new standard in the ebook reader for minimal features at minimal price. With only minimal hardware updates (it was re-released in 2012 in black), it has proven to be a mainstay in Amazon’s dominance of the ebook reader market.

And now it seems to have begun to go out of stock.

My competitor noticed earlier today that the budget-priced Kindle is no longer quite so budget priced. The ad-supported model which sold for $69 is no longer available on, and not so coincidentally, the $89 international model is not available either.

Amazon has replaced the buy button for these two models with links to marketplace sellers which have them in stock - a telling detail, IMO. When Amazon runs out of an item, they usually tell you how long you will have to wait before new stock arrives. The absence of that estimated arrival time raises questions as to whether the models will be back in stock.

kindle chinese

While Amazon is still selling the full-priced version of this ereader for $89 (and it is still in stock on several of Amazon’s European websites), the stock issue with the ad-supported model has my competitor wondering whether Amazon is going to upgrade it with a new model.

I’m not so sure.

The thing we have to keep in mind with the basic Kindle is that it is designed to be the cheapest Kindle which Amazon could make.  I don’t see Amazon upgrading it, not unless the replacement can be made as cheap (or cheaper).

What’s more, this Kindle model hasn’t received a firmware update since January 2013. It’s missed out on several major feature changes, including Goodreads integration. That suggests that Amazon is not investing in this model because they don’t have any plans to keep it around.

In short, I think this model is on the way out.

If I were going to speculate, I would posit that either Amazon has decided they don’t need a cheapie Kindle any more, or they could be planning to replace it with a Kindle Paperwhite whose price was knocked down to (say) $99.

Given the shrinking ereader market and the rise of reading ebooks on tablets and smartphones, I think the first possibility is the more likely one.

But this is pure crystal ball territory, so your guess is as good as mine.

The post The $69 Kindle is Out of Stock – Could This be a Sign of a New Model on the Way? appeared first on The Digital Reader.

French Railway SNCF Launches Free Digital Reading Program

Posted: 03 Sep 2014 08:06 AM PDT

Biblio_facebookRail travelers have a lot of time on their hands but they don’t always have a good book to fill it, and that’s why SNCF has launched a new digital library program.

Passengers riding on the French state railway can now take advantage of a selection of free public domain ebooks. Developed in partnership with Storylab and Parallel Publishing, the bibliothèque digitale TER offers short reads which can take anywhere from 15, 30, 45 minutes, to 1 hour , perfect for short trips.

The program also features full-length public domain novels, including free classics of French literature like La Fontaine’s Fables, Emile Zola’s Germinal, the Saturnine Poems by Paul Verlaine, and many others.

In addition to the free works, readers can also buy ebooks, with prices starting under one euro. I have fewer details on that, so any first hand accounts would be appreciated.

There’s long been an emotional connection between books and the rail, leading a number of cities to equip their commuter stations as digital libraries. The idea is still uncommon, but cities as diverse as Philadelphia, Bucharest, and Mexico City have started programs which enabled riders to download ebooks as they pass through certain stations.

According to Boersenblatt, this digital library grew out of SNCF’s plans to equip all stations and express trains with Wifi. I would bet that it was also influenced by similar program which launched in Spain in 2012, or the program that Piper Verlag started in Germany in February of this year.




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Opera Mini for Windows Phone Now in Beta

Posted: 03 Sep 2014 07:00 AM PDT

Opera-icon-high-resThe web browser aficionados at Opera have just launched an invite only beta program for the new version of Opera Mini. Opera has been promising for a year now that they were working on a version of Opera Mini for Windows Phone, and it looks like the app is almost ready.

Alas, it’s a little too late to get in on the beta test.

Opera’s web browsers for Android, iOS, Windows, and OSX are used by over 300 million people worldwide, so it should probably come as no surprise that the beta program is over-subscribed. According to the Opera website, they already have enough testers that they stopped accepting new ones and instead invite  you to join the mailing list for notice of the public launch.

I, for one, don’t have a Windows Phone, but I am on the list as well.



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