Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

First Impressions of the New Budget Kindle

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 05:58 PM PDT

Kindle_00F_USAmazon’s newest budget Kindle is shipping today, and since I managed to snag a review unit I thought I would post my first impressions.

With a touchscreen and twice the storage, the $79 Kindle is in some ways an improvement on the unit it replaces. It runs the latest software, and the touchscreen saves users from having to use a d-pad to type in one character at a time. This is great, but based on the time I have spent with it I would say that in some ways the new Kindle is inferior to the model it replaced.

To put it simply, the new Kindle feels cheap.

While the older model felt like a minimalist but solid design, the new Kindle feels cheap and junky. It has a simply black plastic shell which lacks the rubberized rear shell found on the Paperwhite and on the older basic Kindle. It also lacks the smooth curves of the older Kindles, opting instead for sharp angles.

new touch kindle

Holding the Paperwhite, older basic Kindle, and new Kindle in my hands, I think there is a perceptible difference in quality.  The newest device feels the cheapest, which is ironic because it actually costs $10 more than the model it replaced.

It does work well, though. In many ways it is a cut down version of a Kindle Paperwhite, and it runs the same software while costing a third less. So one should really expect that many finer details were left out either to encourage owners to upgrade or to reduce Amazon’s costs.

What’s more, it is just as responsive and quick to turn the page as my 2013 Kindle Paperwhite.

To be fair, how the new device feels will matter less to some users than what it can do, but  I can’t help but feel an intense dislike  when I look at the device and hold it. If I had bought this, I would be returning it as soon as I finished the review.

Did you buy one? What do you think?

P.S. I will (probably) be posting a review next weekend.

The post First Impressions of the New Budget Kindle appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Dropbox for Android Updated With Option to Export Your eBooks to an SD card

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 02:01 PM PDT

dropbox-logo[1]Dropbox rolled out an update yesterday for their Android app, adding a feature which many budget tablet owners will appreciate.

In addition to miscellaneous bug fixes and improvements, Dropbox v2.4.5.10 for Android now enables users to shift files to their SD card or other removable storage.

Don’t have enough space in internal storage on your device because video apps are taking up all the room? You can now shift any files you download from your Dropbox account out of the default location and onto an SD card.

Or at least that is how it is supposed to work; I just tested the app on my Kobo Arc and did not get the dialog box shown below:

dropbox android

Dropbox did say in their blog post that this feature was being rolled out over the course of today; perhaps I have the earlier app. Or perhaps the labels on the storage in my Arc confused the Dropbox app, I don’t know.

You can find the app in Google Play. I don’t have any info on when the iOS app might get this feature, but it would likely depend on Apple adding a card slot to iDevices.


The post Dropbox for Android Updated With Option to Export Your eBooks to an SD card appeared first on The Digital Reader.

European Booksellers Call for European Commission to Investigate the Amazon Monopoly

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 06:29 PM PDT

4592786358_947e161e05[1]Break out the popcorn; the Amazon v publishing 3-ring circus just launched a new sideshow.

PCWorld reported on Thursday that European booksellers are joining the chorus of groups in the UK, US, and Germany which are demanding that Something Must Be Done about Amazon. They are requesting that the European Commission start an investigation into Amazon’s supposed monopoly of online book sales:

The booksellers urged the Commission to make sure that consumers will have a rich and diversified online book offering, said Françoise Dubruille, director of the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF), the umbrella organization for the EU's national booksellers associations. The group met this week with Despina Spanou, director for consumer policy at the European Commission, she said.

"In the end, if you only have one big retailer on the market like Amazon, this retailer will impose its bargaining, its rebate and its commercial conditions on the publishers. And if publishers have limited choice in retail channels they will be squeezed by that giant retailer," Dubruille said.

News of that meeting comes less than a day after the WSJ revealed that The Authors Guild had had a similar meeting with the US Dept of Justice in August, and it echos a request made in the UK by the Publishers Association and a complaint filed in June in Germany by Börsenverein, the German book industry trade group.

In short, Amazon is now facing pressure from the book industry of every country where it has a sizable market share. It is also worth noting that Amazon doesn’t have a monopoly in any of those markets, nor even a majority share in any single market, so it is unlikely that Amazon has done anything to be punished for.

I’m really not sure what everyone is trying to accomplish, but I can say that I find the spectacle deeply entertaining.

image by tiseb

The post European Booksellers Call for European Commission to Investigate the Amazon Monopoly appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Scribd Expands Its Catalog With Titles from Harlequin

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 09:53 AM PDT

HarlequinCollectionThe HarperCollins acquisition of Harlequin earlier this year bore expected fruit today.

Scribd announced on Thursday that it had signed a deal with the romance publisher to add 15,000 titles to Scribd’s ebook subscription service. The Harlequin Scribd deal will run for one year, and like the deal that HarperCollins struck with Scribd the Harlequin works will be drawn from Harlequin’s backlist.

Readers who subscribe to Scribd’s $9 a month service will find titles from a variety of Harlequin imprints, including Harlequin Series Romance, HQN Books, MIRA Books and Carina Press. They’ll be able to read books by bestselling authors, including Debbie Macomber, Shannon Stacey, Robyn Carr, Susan Wiggs, and Heather Graham.

Scribd is saying that they have an exclusive on Harlequin’s catalog, which means Scribd is going to be the only subscription service to find the ebooks.  While I am sure Oyster is gnashing their teeth at the news, it’s worth noting that both Oyster and Kindle Unlimited have a more than adequate selection of romance titles. In fact, thanks to its reliance on indie authors KU might actually have more romance titles than either of its competitors.


In related news, Scribd will also be adding the entire Harlequin catalog to its retail site.

The post Scribd Expands Its Catalog With Titles from Harlequin appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Shares New Details on Their Crowd Sourced Publishing Program

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 06:27 PM PDT

4552277923_f921822e69[1]Reminding us that Amazon always has multiple irons in the fire, the retailer launched a new writing community yesterday, and today they sent out a new email with an update on the crowd source publishing program which I first discovered last week.

Although it was easy to get them confused, the two programs are completely unrelated and represent two separate efforts to engage with authors.

The crowd sourced program, which Amazon still has not revealed the name, is much more focused on actual publishing and less on community.

According to the email Amazon sent, participating authors will have to have a valid US bank account and tax ID or SS number. When the program launches, writers will be able to submit a novella length manuscript (at least 50,000 words) with a cover image, description, one-liner, and other useful info. They’ll have to agree to the contract terms when they submit their work, which could be an issue.

From the way Amazon makes it sound, once a work is in this program Amazon has the sole option of choosing to accept it. Authors won’t be able to back out after they’ve submitted their story, which means that they’ll need to be positive that they want the deal Amazon is offering before they begin.

You can find this information, and more, in the email Amazon sent out yesterday. I haven’t gotten the email, but GigaOm did get their hands on a copy.

Dear Author,

Thanks for subscribing to receive updates on Amazon's new publishing program! We're excited to announce that we'll be opening for submissions in a couple weeks. We'll be welcoming submissions for English-language books in Romance, Mystery & Thriller, and Science Fiction & Fantasy genres.

Any adult with a valid U.S. bank account and U.S. social security number or tax identification number is eligible. It only takes 15 minutes to complete a submission.

Here are the things that you should prepare to successfully submit your book:

Complete, never-before-published manuscript & book cover image

We're looking for 50,000 words or more in Word format and a book cover image that reflects the essence and uniqueness of your book. Make sure your work is ready for others to read. Only the first pages will be posted to the website (approx. 3,000 words).

Book one-liner – A very short pitch (no longer than 45 characters) for your book that will be used on the homepage and throughout the website. Think of examples like "Space opera meets the Middle Ages" or "How far will one woman go to save her family?"

Book description- Help readers understand the content and quality of your book. Keep the description to 500 characters or less.

Your bio & picture – Give readers a chance to learn more about you. You will also have a chance to answer relevant questions regarding your book and personal story in a short Q&A section.

We'll also ask you to review and accept our submission and publishing agreement that grants us a 45-day exclusivity period to post your excerpt and tally nominations.

If chosen for publication, you will receive a $1,500 advance, 5-year renewable term, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions, and Amazon-featured marketing. If not, you automatically get all your rights back at the end of the 45-day exclusivity period.

We'll send you an email as soon as we're open for submissions. Looking forward to hearing from you! Have a book ready but still have questions? Email us at

 image by ginnerobot

The post Amazon Shares New Details on Their Crowd Sourced Publishing Program appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Huawei’s New 8″ Phablet to Cost $184

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 06:26 PM PDT

huawei-honor-tablet-1[1]If you think the Asus FonePad isn’t big enough then I have some great news for you.

Earlier this week Huawei announced a new 8″ Android tablet that will come with the ability to make phone calls. It’s not the first 8″ tablet with this feature, but even though the idea of holding an 8″ tablet to your head is absurd nothing is going to stop me from promoting the Honor tablet as a phablet.

The Huawei Honor tablet runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean on a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 200 chip with 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, and a microSD card slot. This phablet sports an 8″ display with a screen resolution of 1,280 x 800, and it also has a pair of cameras (5MP and VGA), a proximity sensor, and an accelerometer.

In addition to Wifi and Bluetooth, the Honor will have 3G HSPA+ connectivity, supporting download speeds up to 42Mbps. Weighing in at 360 grams, the Honor is 7.9mm thin and manages to squeeze in a 4.8Ah battery.


All in all, this is a rather odd beast.  Aside from the cellular connectivity, this has the specs of a budget tablet which I would consider buying. And if I were on the go more, the connectivity would tempt me to get this tablet.

Alas, I don’t think I’ll have the option.  It’s going to ship in Malaysia on 16 October with a retail of around $184 (you can find it here), but I don’t know that it has been announced for the US market.


The post Huawei’s New 8″ Phablet to Cost $184 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon Launches a New Writing Community, Write On

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 06:25 PM PDT

logo._V342995659_[1]Yesterday Amazon officially took the cover off of the writing community which they’ve been developing without anyone noticing.

The Amazon Write On program is the unnamed crowd sourced program I reported on, but it seems to be just as much a writing community as it is a publishing program.

Update: An Amazon spokesperson told me in an email that “Write On and the new publishing program are different and unrelated programs.”

Amazon has been quietly working on Write On since at least March 2014. References to the program popped up on KBoards on 4 September, and in Amazon’s own forum on 28 August, but the most interesting detail is that some forum posts date to March of this year.

Before I cover the program, let me share a couple useful details. The Amazon Write On is now live at, and if you’d like to check it out for yourself you can use this code to get in: X9RJTE9H.

Also, if you’ve already joined Write On, I would like to know what you think.

amazon writeon

I have only had a chance to explore Write On for a few minutes, but based on that and on how Amazon is pitching it I would say that this is just as much a writing community as it is a publishing program.

I’ve used it for a few minutes, and I can report that it has sections where writers can upload their latest work. Readers can like or follow a work, and they can also leave comments and discuss specific details. There is also a discussion forum where authors can meet and discuss issues related to writing.

Here’s how Amazon described it in yesterday’s announcement in their forums:

It’s called Write On by Kindle, and it’s a community where readers and writers come together around the creative process to make good stories great and great stories better.

Whether you want to polish an original work, hone your feedback skills, or just find a group of other passionate readers and writers to connect with, we’re building a community that will support you. Plus, you’ll get a chance to help guide the direction of a new Kindle project that’s still in beta. It’ll be a little experimental, a little seat-of-our-pants, and hopefully a pretty sweet time for all involved.

In short, Amazon is testing crowd sourcing as a publishing idea, but they are could also going after writing communities like KBoards, Wattpad, and Absolute Write –  in two completely separate programs.

The post Amazon Launches a New Writing Community, Write On appeared first on The Digital Reader.

StoryBundle Launches New Bundle of eBooks on Writing for NaNoWriMo

Posted: 02 Oct 2014 06:24 PM PDT

storybundle-logo-large[1] Indie authors, take note.

The ebook deals site StoryBundle wants to help aspiring authors get an early start on NaNoWriMo and it has launched a new bundle of 12 ebooks on writing and being an author. There are 12 books in the bundle, including works from Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Chuck Wendig, and Dean Wesley Smith.

For those just tuning in, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, and it is an annual creative writing project held every November. it exists for a single purpose: to get aspiring authors writing and keep them motivated throughout the process.

And to help authors get started, here is a bundle of books on writing, authoring, and freelancing from some of the best names in the business.


As with all bundles from StoryBundle, you can choose your own price and how to divide the revenue between Story Bundle and the authors. Anyone who pays the minimum price of $5 will get the basic bundle:

  • Shadows Beneath: The Writing Excuses Anthology by Brandon Sanderson
  • Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing by David Farland
  • Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Publishing by Dean Wesley Smith
  • Million Dollar Productivity by Kevin J. Anderson
  • Million Dollar Professionalism by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta
  • The Pursuit of Perfection and How it Harms Writers by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

If you pay more than $15, you’ll get another six books:

  • The Non-User-Friendly Guide for Aspiring TV Writers by Steven L. Sears
  • 500 Ways to Write Harder by Chuck Wendig
  • Charisma +1: The Guide to Convention Etiquette for Writers, Geeks, and the Socially Awkward by Jessica Brawner
  • The Freelancer’s Survival Guide by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • 21 Days to a Novel by Michael A. Stackpole
  • Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland

I’m not going to be writing a novel this year but I still picked up the bundle.  I can see several titles that could help me be a better blogger.

(Thanks, Nighty!)


The post StoryBundle Launches New Bundle of eBooks on Writing for NaNoWriMo appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment