Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Authors United Considers Next Move Against Amazon

Posted: 04 Sep 2014 04:35 PM PDT

2350197001_e7f893f5cf_m[1]It’s been almost a month since Authors United spent $104,000 on a two-page advert in the Sunday NY Times, and this group of 900 plus authors is contemplating what to do next.

In a recent letter to the group’s members (first posted by PW), author Doug Preston continued to criticize Amazon for its conduct in its contract dispute with Hachette, noting that “Amazon is continuing to sanction books: 2,500 Hachette authors and over 7,000 titles have now apparently been affected“.

He also expresses concerns about what might happen to Simon & Schuster authors, which is reportedly in friendly negotiations with Amazon at this time, and concludes with a few hints that Authors United will be soon be taking additional steps to express its disapproval of Amazon’s conduct in the Amazon Hachette contract dispute.

The Letter:

Dear Author,

I want to thank you for signing the letter, and I would also like to welcome those of you who have recently added your name to our effort.

As you may have noticed, the letter we published in the Times generated a great deal of media attention and changed the conversation. In reaction, Amazon established a “readers united” website that seems to be a corporate creation posting official Amazon corporate statements. In the process Amazon managed to misquote George Orwell (which generated this response from the George Orwell estate.)

Amazon is continuing to sanction books: 2,500 Hachette authors and over 7,000 titles have now apparently been affected. Hachette authors have seen their sales at Amazon decline at least 50% and in many cases as much as 90%. This has been going on for six months and it has been particularly damaging to struggling debut and midlist authors. Amazon is reportedly in negotiations with Simon & Schuster and we can only hope they will not start targeting S&S books next.

Amazon has been falsely trying to depict us as “rich” authors who are seeking higher e-book prices, while it is fighting on behalf of the consumer for lower prices. Unfortunately, some media outlets have bought this Amazon disinformation campaign. We have not, of course, made any statements whatsoever on book pricing. Our point is simple: we believe it is unacceptable for Amazon to sanction books as a negotiating tactic. Amazon has other negotiating tools at its disposal than harming the very authors who helped it become one of the largest retailers in the world. Amazon could stop the sanctions tomorrow while continuing to negotiate with Hachette.

And so we are forced to move on to our next initiative. I will be asking you once again for the use of your good name — perhaps as soon as next week. Stay tuned.

Again, I want to thank you most sincerely for your courage in standing up for books and the literary community. I will be in touch.

Warm regards,
Doug Preston


image  by Valerie Everett

The post Authors United Considers Next Move Against Amazon appeared first on The Digital Reader.

The Toshiba Encore Mini is a Windows Tablet that Goes Where Only Android Tablets Had Dared to Tread

Posted: 04 Sep 2014 12:57 PM PDT

encore-mini_WT7-C8-tablet-420[1]Intel has been promising for the past 5 months that we would see $99 Windows 8 tablet this year, and while the Encore Mini doesn’t quite prove the chipmaker right it does come close.

This $119 tablet is a very slightly upgraded version of the Excite Go Android tablet I reviewed a couple weeks back. It features the same unimpressive 7″ screen, Intel Bay Trail CPU, and limited battery life, only now with Windows 8.1 instead of Android.

The Encore Mini  runs Windows 8.1 on an Intel quad-core 1.33GHz Z3735G chip with 1GB RAM. Like the Excite Go, this tablet has a decent enough 7″ display with a screen resolution of 1024 x 600. It has the same estimated battery life, RA, single edge-mounted speaker, and the same general lack of ports as the Excite Go, but Toshiba did improve the Encore mini’s specs in a couple places.

This tablet has 16GB internal storage, and it also has an additional 2MP camera on the back to complement the (IMO) unusable VGA resolution camera on the front. You’ll also find Wifi, Bluetooth, and an accelerometer under the hood.

encore-mini_WT7-C8-tablet-420[1] encore-mini_wt7-c8-600-04-1 encore-mini_wt7-c8-600-03-1 encore-mini_wt7-c8-600-06 encore-mini_wt7-c8-600-08 encore-mini_wt7-c8-600-09

All in all this is a very light Windows 8 tablet which could probably have benefited from a bump in RAM.

It’s not the first Windows 8 tablet to break $150, but it is likely going to be the first to crack $99. Toshiba lists the Encore Mino for $119, but I am expecting Best Buy to put it on sale for $99 in the near future.

So tell me, would you get one? I’m not, but then again I am not a fan of Windows 8; I’d much rather get an Android tablet in this price range. But even if I set my preferences aside, this tablet still doesn’t meet my standards for battery life – not unless it can improve on the estimated 4 hours of battery life of its Android counterpart.

I have to say, I’m almost tempted to buy it just so I can find out.


The post The Toshiba Encore Mini is a Windows Tablet that Goes Where Only Android Tablets Had Dared to Tread appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Evernote for Android Updated With New Navigation, New Look, and More

Posted: 04 Sep 2014 10:21 AM PDT

evernote_logo.jpgEvernote rolled out an update for  their Android app today which adds a slew of features as well as several improvements to the design and navigation.

To start, Evernote had added a new floating menu to version 6 of their Android app. As you can see in the following gif, users can press the small green circle in the bottom right corner of the screen and be offered a half dozen different ways to quickly make a note.


In addition to enabling  you quickly make a note inside the app, Evernote is also making it easier to clip content viewed in a web browser.  Simply find a webpage that you'd like to save, tap on the Share menu, and choose Evernote as a destination. Tapping the big elephant button lets you choose a notebook or add tags. 

They’ve also added a navigation panel similar to the one found in many current Android apps. Swipe from the left edge of the screen (or press the menu icon in the upper left corner next to the elephant) and a pop-out menu will appear,  displaying your notebooks, tags, and shortcuts.

And not only has Evernote made taking and managing notes easier and faster, they’ve also imported the search function and they’ve made it easier to add users to a shared notebook.

You can find the app in Google’s App Store.


A fresh look for the app, redesigned to serve you better!
Quick note
-Tap the round green + to create different types of notes
Revamped navigation
-Simpler navigation drawer with direct access to shortcuts
Improved note editor
-Cleaner layout
Handwriting improvements
- Shape recognition
- Pinch to zoom
Evernote Web Clipper
- Collect and organize articles, research, and other content from the web
And more bug fixes.


The post Evernote for Android Updated With New Navigation, New Look, and More appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Tw-ePub lets You Embed an Epub eBook in a Tweet

Posted: 04 Sep 2014 08:12 AM PDT

logo[1]Authors have long been told that they should promote their books on Twitter, but until now there was no easy way to embed a sample of an ebook in the service so it can be read without leaving Twitter.

That changed today. I’ve just learned that a Japanese ebook retailer has developed a simple service that will take an Epub and return a link which can be tweeted.

I’m not sure who owns the ebookstore, but I do know that the service is called Tw-ePub and that it is open to the public. It enables authors to upload an Epub, add a title and brief description, and then generate a link which can be added to a tweet.

You can test the service for yourself here. When tweeted, that link triggers Twitter’s embed protocols, making it load an Epub viewer. I already tested it in a tweet, which you can view here. The resulting embed looks something like this:

embed epub twitter

That’s not a good screenshot, I know, but this does work out in practice. I’ve been playing with this service for a few minutes, and it generates a readable Epub with a few basic features like text that can be highlighted and copied. It is a little slow, but given that it loads the Epub before displaying it that is to be expected.

If you like, you can see the same Epub displayed in your web browser.  I don’t know who developed this web app but it is pretty good.

This Tw-ePub service only crossed my desk today, but I can see that it was announced in early July (in Japanese, which is why I missed it).


The post Tw-ePub lets You Embed an Epub eBook in a Tweet appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Pocketbook InkPad 840 8″ eBook Reader up for Pre-Order – 179 Euros

Posted: 04 Sep 2014 06:07 AM PDT

678-large_default[1]With the camera-equipped Ultra, the InkPad, and the 13.3″ CAD Reader, Pocketbook has released the most eye-catching ereaders of 2014 – devices which are also quite difficult to purchase from the US. And that is why I was thrilled yesterday when a reader tipped me to a retail site in France which not only carries Pocketbook hardware but is also willing to ship to the US.

The exact ship date is still up in the air, but at the moment Pocketbook’s official website in France has the InkPad 840 up for pre-order for $179 euros (plus shipping).

The Pocketbook InkPad has an 8″ E-ink display with a screen resolution of 1,600 x 1,200. According to earlier press reports, it runs Pocketbook’s proprietary reading software on a 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM. it has both a frontlight and a touchscreen and ships with 4GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, Wifi, and a 1.5Ah battery which is expected to give up to a month of runtime.

This device doesn’t run Android, but with a 250 ppi resolution screen it is almost as sharp as the screen on the newer Aura H2O only on a much larger scale. That makes this a highly desirable screen for anyone who has been wanting a larger ereader with a sharp screen.


The InkPad 840 compares well to larger ereaders like the Onyx Universe and the Kindle DX. Those devices feature a 9.7″ E-ink screen with a resolution of 825 x 1,200, or about 150 ppi. The InkPad also costs significantly less than the Universe, although the Universe does have the advantage of running Android.

All in all this is a desirable ereader, but it is not without issue. There are a number of  early user reports from Russia which complain about the poorly developed software, unimpressive build quality, and disappointing screen.

While the InkPad does have a sharp screen, the screen tech is also reportedly a couple generations out of date. I have an unconfirmed report (which is itself based on the early user reports from Russia) that the InkPad has a Vizplex screen. This is E-ink’s second gen screen tech, and it was originally released in 2009 before being replaced by Pearl in 2010 and Carta in 2013.

Update I’ve been told that:

It doesn’t have a Vizplex display but the Russian buyers claim it does look like one. PocketBook itself confirmed that there was a problem with the first batch and that it was fixed with the second batch which will be available on September 15th in Germany. 

I am trying to confirm that report, but alas Pocketbook is ducking my emails at the moment. If this report is correct then it means that the InkPad’s screen will be noticeably grayer and fuzzier than the top of the line Carta E-ink screens. I think the size and sharpness would be enough to make up for that issue, but that’s just my opinion.

At this point I think i will have to wait to see if my unit has a disappointing screen.

Pocketbook France

Thanks, Paul!

(Thanks, Chalid!)

The post Pocketbook InkPad 840 8″ eBook Reader up for Pre-Order – 179 Euros appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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