Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 1 October 2014

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:23 PM PDT

The reading list is slightly longer today, and includes a paean against publishing a first novel, responses to Mike Shatzkin’s latest missive, and more.

  • Bookstores, publishers sue to stop law against "revenge porn" (Ars Technica)
  • Four Methods For Choosing What To Read Next (BOOK RIOT)
  • The Hidden Costs of E-books at University Libraries (Times of San Diego)
  • How NOT To Publish Your First Novel (IAIN RYAN)
  • The motivation of the publisher-bashing commentariat is what I cannot figure out (The Passive Voice)
  • Pearson’s REVEL aims to replace the traditional textbook [Educause 2014] (Education Dive)
  • Why Rumors Outrace the Truth Online ()

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Findaway World Gets a Half Million Dollar Contract to Sell Secure, Pre-Loaded eBook Readers to the USAF

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 04:33 PM PDT

NeRD Device and CaseHere’s a bit of news we all could have seen coming.

Last Thursday US Air Force awarded a contract to Ohio-based Findaway World, makers of the Playaway music player and the Lock secure ereader, to provide $499,000 in equipment and services in support of a locked down ereader similar to the NeRD device which Findaway launched earlier this year.

I can’t find any specifics on the contract, so i don’t know how many units are involved, but we do know that the similarly equipped NeRD cost $3,000 each. This suggests that the USAF bought somewhere under 200 units.

If you’re wondering why they cost so much, the answer is simple: government contracts. Edit: And as one reader points out, we don’t know how much the pre-loaded content costs. Thanks, Gbm!

Or if you are looking for a slightly less snarky explanation, the NeRD, Lock, and the still as yet unnamed Air Force model, aren’t your typical ebook reader.

In designing the Lock, Findaway World took a basic ebook reader with a 6″ E-ink screen and customized it to make it more secure. The Lock purposefully lacks the microSD card slot and microSD port found on most mobile devices, and it also lacks Wifi and a touchscreen. As a result of the modifications, all the content has to be pre-loaded by Findaway World before each unit ships.

The Lock was locked down for obvious reasons: security (or in the case of the civilian model, control). Institutions and the military lock down their computer systems for much the same reason: to prevent hacking (or as I like to put it: stopping industrious personnel from pulling either a Scotty or a Romanov).

So far as I know, Findaway World is the only company that makes a restricted access ebook reader. This company also makes the Playaway, a music player designed to contain a single audiobook.


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Google Drive for Education Offers Unlimited Storage for Schools, Students

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 12:27 PM PDT

google_education[1]Google’s well-known for the personal and work services they provide and now they’re getting serious about education sphere. Earlier today Google launched Drive for Education, expanding the Apps for Education program with unlimited cloud storage – and best of all, it’s free. 

Billed as the “free bookbag for the 21st century, Drive for Education enables the 30 million plus students to save all of their content and school work online, with no concern for access or space limitations, including the class work from Classroom.

In addition to the free storage, Google is also promising to also add Google Apps Vault, their email backup solution, by the end of the year. Other future improvements include reporting and auditing tools which will help users track where a file has been and how it has been accessed. Those features are coming in the future, but for now users will have to content themselves with the ability to upload individual files up to 5TB in size.

Launched not quite 7 years ago, Google Apps for Education has slowly grown to be a serious contender in the edtech market, boosting Chromebook sales past those of the iPad.


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The NYTimes Uses a Flawed Premise to Argue Against Owning a Paper Book Entitles One to a Digital Copy

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 09:48 AM PDT

QuestionMarkEver since book scanning became practical (and long before it got cheap) there’s been an ongoing debate over whether possession of a paper copy of a book entitled the owner to also have a digital copy. (As we all recall, this was even the focal point of several major lawsuits against Google over the past decade.)

This debate will probably be settled right around the time that direct brain downloads first hit the market, but that hasn’t stopped everyone, including yours truly, from weighing in.

The NYTimes ethicist column jumped in on Friday with an argument that is sadly flawed:

Reading a physical book is a different experience from reading that same book on an electronic device, just as seeing a movie in a theater is different from watching that same film at home. If you bought a ticket for the theatrical release of a film and asked if it was now ethical to rip it off a site like Megaupload for home use, I would say no. Your situation with the book is different, but only slightly.

The problem with his argument is that his analogy isn’t just flawed; it’s invalid. A movie ticket can’t be used as a metaphor for a book; one admits you to a performance of a work, while the other is a copy of the work itself. The two are in no way equivalent.

A better analogy would be to compare a book to a DVD, but that would present a serious problem for the ethicist. It is widely accepted that you can rip your CD and DVD collection and carry around a digital copy, and that has led many to argue that one should have the same right to carry around a digital version of the paper books one owns.

Admittedly, book scanning is still tedious enough that few want to do it, but is that any reason that one should not be allowed to download a copy of   a paper book one owns?

Just to be clear, I am not presenting an argument either way; I merely wish to point out that I think the NYTimes should have addressed this issue head on. Instead they sidestepped it with a bad analogy, which is unfortunate because I would like to see this question answered.

What do you think?

The post The NYTimes Uses a Flawed Premise to Argue Against Owning a Paper Book Entitles One to a Digital Copy appeared first on The Digital Reader.

HP Cracks the $99 Windows Tablet Barrier with the Stream 7

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:50 AM PDT

stream7_galleryZoom_img2 HP has just announced a pair of Windows 8 tablets which will cost $99 and up.

Launching  just in time to edge out the Toshiba Encore mini as the first of the $99 Windows tablets in the US market, the HP Stream 7 will feature an Intel Atom Z3735G CPU, and it will be matched by the $149 Stream 8.

Both tablets will run Windows 8.1 on an Intel chip with with 1GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. They will reportedly have the same screen resolution (1280 x 800), which is great for the 7″ screen but not so much for the 8″ screen.

Both tablets are expected to ship in November.


A hands on report tells us that the Stream 7 and Stream 8 also have stereo speakers, Wifi, and microUSB ports, but they don’t have card slots or HDMI ports. That’s a rather unusual checklist for the budget tablet market, where you would expect the card slot but not the stereo speakers.

HP is also going to offer a 4G model of the Stream 8 which will com bundled with a 200MB monthly mobile data plan from T-Mobile.

All in all these are intriguing machines, but given the limited RAM and limited storage I would not consider one for my main work computer. That’s just not enough RAM for real work, and 16GB (or rather whatever is left after Windows 8) is simply not enough to fit my media library.

On a related note, there’s no sign that either tablet has BT, and that means no keyboard. That alone could kill my interest as a work machine, but then again at $99 I would be looking for a tablet to complement my main equipment, not replace it.


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Tolino to Launch WaterProof Vision eBook Reader at Frankfurt Book Fair

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 08:06 AM PDT

RTEmagicC_tolino_vision_06_Kopie.jpg[1]Move over Aura H2O, there’s a new waterproof ereader about to hit the market. Unconfirmed reports are coming out of Germany today that Tolino will be launching a new waterproof Vision ebook reader at the Frankfurt Book Fair next week.

Few details are known about the new Vision, but lesen.net is reporting that it will cost the same as the existing model and derive its waterproof ability from a nano-coating technology, rather than waterproof shell like you can find on the Aura H2O. I can also confirm that the new Vision will have both the frontlight and touchscreen found on the current model.

The current Vision sports a 6″ Carta E-ink display, costs 129 euros, and was launched in April. It’s not clear what will happen to the existing model, and while there’s a chance that it could be discounted or discontinued I don’t plan to jump to any conclusions.

I’m taking this report with a grain of salt. While I wouldn’t be surprised if Tolino did release a waterproof ereader, I have trouble believing that the price will be so low. That nano-coating tech is not cheap, so I really don’t think the new model will cost 129 euros.

Remember, Waterfi offers an aftermarket Kindle which has been waterproofed using a related technology. Waterfi tacks on a $99 premium for the modifications, and that makes it hard to believe that Tolino could add the feature without raising prices at least 20 euros.

But in spite of my questions, I do think that at least part of the report is true. According to the latest estimates from GfK, the German ebook reader market is still growing. What’s more, Tolino (a consortium of German and Dutch media retailers and booksellers, and Deutsche Telekom) has a share of the German ebook market that rivals Amazon’s, which again justifies the launch of a new model.

The post Tolino to Launch WaterProof Vision eBook Reader at Frankfurt Book Fair appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Simon & Schuster Signs Deal With Mofibo, But Not Kindle Unlimited

Posted: 30 Sep 2014 06:32 AM PDT

mofibo[1]Simon & Schuster may have just given us a clue about their interests in the subscription ebook market, and just who they want to work with.

The Bookseller is reporting that S&S has cut a deal with the small Scandinavian ebook subscription service Mofibo. The full terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but it will reportedly boost Mofibo’s catalog to over 20,000 titles in English, Danish, and other languages. (According to one source, Mofibo offered 14,000 titles at the end of August.)

Mofibo charges 99 kroner a month, and according to the press release they represent 60% of the Danish book market.  The deal with S&S will cover titles published in the US, UK, Australia, and India, including works from Dan Brown, Stephen King, James Lee Burke, and Stephen King.


Launched last summer, Mofibo is one of two ebook subscription services in Denmark, but it’s not staying there. This company is planning to expand internationally, and their service is scheduled to be available in Sweden by the end of the year.

And now Mofibo, a company which will generate a relatively small revenue stream compared to Kindle Unlimited, has a contract with Simon & Schuster. While the deal isn’t a huge surprise, I am surprised that a tiny Danish service scored a deal which Amazon has yet to secure for Kindle Unlimited.

Does this mean S&S won’t sign a deal for KU, can’t come to terms, or is still negotiating?

I don’t know, but if S&S signs more deals with small fry while avoiding KU then Amazon is going to be put at an increasing disadvantage in this market. While KU may boast a large catalog, most of the titles are indie and not big names like Stephen King.

And yes, I am expecting to read that S&S has signed with more ebook subscription services, but I wouldn’t hazard a guess whether KU will be one of them.

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JukePop Launches KickStarter Campaign to Bring Serial eBooks to Libraries

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 10:51 PM PDT

jukepop_logo[1]A two-year-old ebook platform stepped into the limelight last week when it launched a Kickstarter campaign, with the goal of funding its expansion into the crowded library ebook market.

Launched in 2012, JukePop Serials is a crowd sourced discovery platform with a staff of three and an unusual focus. This service finds compelling stories by good writers and serves the best ones up for users to read and rate. Users can browse the stories chapter by chapter in JukePop’s apps for Android (Google Play), iPad/iPhone (iTunes), or on the JukePop website. The stories are free to read, and registered members can vote and comment on the stories.

If that description reminds you of Wattpad, you’re not alone. JukePop shares many of the characteristics of its larger and better known competitor, but it also adds an element of curation which Wattpad has made strictly optional.

I can’t see how many readers have joined but JukePop does boast that they have over 1,000 contributing authors and a reader  base in the tens of thousands.  That’s a relatively small number compared to Wattpad or even Red Room, the author site which Wattpad acquired this summer. This could explain the shift to focus on a new market; JukePop is going to focus on a market which Wattpad isn’t directly addressing.

In fact, they’ve already shifted their focus. JukePop has been running a pilot with the Santa Clara County Public Library since April 2014, developing its platform so it would better serve libraries.

And now JukePop has launched a KickStarter campaign so they can expand their efforts. JukePop is trying to raise $15,000, and they plan to spend $10,000 to streamline their  software, with the remaining $5,000 used to launch the service to libraries.

They’ve raised about $4,500 so far, and I bet that they will be able to raise the rest. Crowd sourced ebooks are a hot topic right now, what with Amazon planning to launch their own platform, so this past week was exactly the right time to launch a campaign.

But will JukePop have any success on the market? I don’t know, but if they stick around for long this is going to be an interesting time in the library ebook market.

In addition to the big boys that “sell” ebooks (OverDrive, 3M Cloud Library, and Ingram MyiLibrary) and the publishers who rent their content on an annual license, there are also several alternative service providers. Freading and Hoopla, for example, offer pay per use models, while Biblioboard is a nonprofit that offers a number of services, including a discovery service for self-published authors.

And into that maelstrom goes JukePop. Will it be successful?

It has no appeal to me as a reader, but I can see some of the reasons why it might appeal to institutions like libraries (or schools, for that matter). As noted in one of my source articles, the DRM used by existing library ebook providers gets in the way of users. JukePop says that their ebooks will be DRM-free, and that will make them much easier to load on to ereaders and other mobile devices.

The Digital Shift, Publishers Weekly, FastCo

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The Morning Coffee – 30 September 2014

Posted: 29 Sep 2014 08:46 PM PDT

The reading list is short this Tuesday morning.

The post The Morning Coffee – 30 September 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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