Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 9 October 2014

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 08:26 PM PDT

The reading list this morning ranges from the humorous to the snarky, from the technical to the critical.

  • 5 Things NOT To Include If You Set Your Story In Seattle (Bad Menagerie)
  • Adobe’s Half-Assed Response To Spying On All Your eBooks (Techdirt)
  • Nook and OverDrive partner to provide digital magazines and newspapers to libraries (OverDrive Blogs)
  • Simon & Schuster launches social media initiative with Milq … who? (TeleRead)
  • Verifying our tools; a role for ALA? (Meta Interchange)
  • Who is still blocking text-to-speech access? (I Love My Kindle)

The post The Morning Coffee – 9 October 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Kindle For Android Updated with Support for Dutch, Signalling Imminent Launch of New Kindle Store

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 09:14 PM PDT

kindle itunes logoDo you know all those rumors I have been repeating about Amazon launching a local Kindle Store in the Netherlands? Amazon just confirmed them.

The retailer rolled out a new update earlier this week for the Kindle app for Android. In addition to the usual bug fixes and improvements, the app also gained a couple new features. Users can now start listening to an audiobook before it is fully downloaded, and they can also tap on a highlight to edit it.

While the new features are cool and all, they’re not the big news today.

Thanks to a new editorial policy, I wasn’t planning to write about app updates (not enough page views) but this one is a big deal. Amazon has added support for Dutch to their Kindle app for Android. That, when combined with the fact that the new Kindle ships with support for Dutch, tells us that Amazon is just about ready to launch a Kindle Store in the Netherlands.

Local sources say that it will launch this month, and I think they’re right. And that is going to be a very interesting event.

The interesting thing about the Dutch ebook market (besides the fact it’s very small) is that it is largely dominated by ebook retailers that sell either DRM-free Epub or Epub with digital watermarks. There’s no walled garden, which means that those retailers can cobble together support for conversion from Epub to Kindle and offer to deliver ebooks to a Kindle account – if they want to put in the effort.

Amazon could well face direct competition on their own platform. Or at least that is what I am hoping will happen; I had similar hopes about Hachette, but they keep chickening out.

You can find the app in Google Play.


• Start playing narration before audiobook download is complete
• Localized support for Dutch
• Tap on highlight to edit
• Several bug fixes

Android Police

The post Kindle For Android Updated with Support for Dutch, Signalling Imminent Launch of New Kindle Store appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Bluefire Comments on Adobe Spying Scandal: It’s Not Our Thing, Baby

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 03:57 PM PDT

bluefireFollowing in the wake of the news that Adobe was tracking users’ activities and then uploading the data to their servers without encryption, many ebook users, including librarians, readers, and even those in the digital publishing industry are wondering just how safe other Epub apps actually are.

At the request of several readers, I checked with Bluefire, one of the leading developers of Adobe compatible Epub apps. Bluefire makes an reading app for Android, iDevices, and Windows, but they use a very different standard when it comes to privacy:

We have been asked if we perform similar data collection in our free Bluefire Reader apps. The answer is No. While our apps are built on Adobe Reader Mobile SDK (RMSDK) versions 9 and 10, we are not aware of similar data collection by Adobe in these SDKs.

We do support an optional Bluefire developed sync feature that (when enabled by the user) sends anonymous, encrypted data to our servers. This data is used to sync the user's reading location across the user's activated reading devices. We also collect a limited amount of anonymous aggregated usage information. All of this is spelled out in our "Terms and Conditions" and "Privacy" statements.

We want you, our users, to know that we respect and value your privacy. While it is true that some technologies (like page location sync) require the transmission of user data, we believe that it is essential to implement these services in a manner that respects and protects the privacy of our users. We believe that our current apps meet this standard.

For those just tuning in, on Monday I broke the news that the latest version of Adobe Digital Editions was logging my reading activities and uploading the data to their servers in clear text. This feature, which has not been found in earlier versions of Adobe DE, was added for no clear reason. It involved collecting detailed into on everything a reader was doing inside of an ebook, including pages read, ebooks opened, and more.

Adobe defended the tracking with the claim that the data was “collected solely for purposes such as license validation and to facilitate the implementation of different licensing models by publishers”. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether knowing which pages had been read will help with that purpose.

As for me, I will simply remind you that the data was sent in the clear.

The post Bluefire Comments on Adobe Spying Scandal: It’s Not Our Thing, Baby appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Pioneering Digital-Only Magazine “The Magazine” to Close By the End of the Year

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 09:51 PM PDT

TheMagYearTwoPrintCover_small[1]Once heralded as the future of news publishing, The Magazine is about to suffer the same fate as many startups: it will be shutting down in just over 2 months from today.

Glenn Fleishman, owner and publisher of The Magazine, announced the news today on its website and added more details on his blog. The last issue will be published on 17 December, after which all existing subscriptions will be cancelled and pro-rated refunds offered either through Apple or directly to readers.

Launched in late 2012 by Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper, The Magazine was the poster child for subcompact publishing, a new type of minimalist digital publication that focused on a handful of great stories published at regular intervals. The Magazine was not the first to try this idea, but it was the most visible example and it inspired great hope in news organizations that there was a way to go forward.

Sadly, while there was a lot of hope, there wasn’t all that much money. Fleishman reveals that The Magazine had seen declining subscription rates since the first buzz wore off:

My labor of love the last two years has been The Magazine, first as its hired hand and then, in May 2013, as its owner. The sad truth has been that, while profitable from week one, the publication has had a declining subscription base since February 2013. It started at such a high level that we could handle a decline for a long time, but despite every effort — including our first-year anthology crowdfunded a bit under a year ago — we couldn’t replace departing subscribers with new ones fast enough. We’re a general-interest magazine that appeals to people who like technology, and that makes it very hard to market. “Pivoting” to a different editorial focus would have lost subscribers even faster.

The Magazine will be survived by an industry which it inspired, including the subcompact publishing platform TypeEngine, where the publication had been based for the past couple months.

While I won’t speculate why it failed, I will add that I thought The Magazine represented a transition stage in what could have been the rebirth of the news industry.  I thought that subcompact publishing applied the idea of startup to publishing, and would inevitably lead to some publications growing out of that stage and becoming full-fledged media organizations.

Many blogs went through a similar growth cycle, but unfortunately The Magazine has come up against the reality of startups: many fail, and only a few succeed.

The post Pioneering Digital-Only Magazine “The Magazine” to Close By the End of the Year appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Survey: Apple, Amazon in Race for Mobile Readers? I Think Some Are Reading Too Much Into the Data

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 09:50 PM PDT

10263099536_0fff2d5c25_m[1]Released just in time for the Frankfurt Book Fair, there’s a new survey report out this week which looks at smartphone owners and asks how they read.

According to early coverage, Amazon is facing fierce competition for readers on mobile phones. While the retailer is the dominant ebook retailer among respondents, the survey claims that in certain key age groups iBooks is coming in a close second.

Or at least that is the spin that some are putting on this report; I have a different opinion. I’ve read the publicly available data, and I am less than impressed by the report and the news coverage surrounding it.

To start with, I’m not sure that the survey group represents either the population as a whole, smartphone owners, or even just people who read on smartphones. As you can see in the report (embedded as slides at the end of the post), the survey group consists of 3,000 consumers in the US and UK.

Rather than a random sampling of smartphone owners, the group was artificially divided in two groups: 1,000 who (have/do) read ebooks on their smartphones, and 2,000 who (do not / have not) read ebooks on their smartphones.

15455219752_9d15050462[1]That bifurcated survey group creates a few problems. For example, the report shows that 43% of respondents had read an ebook on their smartphone.  How many of that 43% came from which group?

The report also shows that 59% of U.K. readers, and 72% of U.S. readers, read more on their smartphone than last year.  But from what group? I can’t tell you because it’s not spelled out.

And that’s not the only issue. Publishers Weekly got an early look at the non-public data, and yesterday they reported that:

Overall, Amazon and Apple represent 81% of the mobile reading market, with the Kindle app enjoying a 50% to 31% total edge over iBooks. But among 18-24 year-olds, the split is nearly even, with 41% reading via the Kindle app, and 39 % reading on iBooks. And that gap could soon evaporate, given Apple's device edge. The Apple iPhone was voted tops in the mobile device category of the survey, with 40% claiming to be iPhone users, with 28% owning a Samsung device.

That report in the PW initially caught my eye because of the focus on the 18-24 age group. While I can agree on the value of watching this group as a bellwether of hardware adoption, they are not quite so important as book buyers.

It’s not just that teens as a rule have less money to spend, but also that an unrelated survey showed a few weeks ago that the 16-24 age group in the UK preferred paper, and that when it comes to buying ebooks they are price sensitive. A large chunk of that survey group said that ebooks should cost less than £3:

When it comes to paperbacks, 37% of young people said they would pay £5.00-£7.00 and 35% said they would pay £3.00-£5.00. However, they are less willing to pay as much for e-books, with 43% saying they should cost less than £3.00 and 27% saying they should cost between £3.00 and £5.00.

All in all, I am having trouble placing this survey report in context of either readers, book buyers, or mobile device owners. It is true that people are reading more on smartphones and tablets, and that those mobile devices outnumber ereaders by a factor of 20 to one, it’s not clear how this survey report relates to that.

And so I don’t plan to give it much attention after today. Am I wrong? The comments are open.

images by JD Hancocke3Learning

The post Survey: Apple, Amazon in Race for Mobile Readers? I Think Some Are Reading Too Much Into the Data appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Tolino Launches Waterproof Vision eReader, Adds Novel page Turn Button

Posted: 08 Oct 2014 09:48 PM PDT

RTEmagicC_tolino_vision_06_Kopie.jpg[1]Germany’s answer to the Kindle just launched an innovative response to the Kindle Voyage. The new Vision 2 ebook reader sports a waterproof shell and an unusual solution to the page turn button issue.

This ereader, which was launched today at the Frankfurt Book Fair by the Tolino ebook consortium, improves upon the existing model by adding a waterproof feature. According to early press reports, the new Vision’s internal electronics were coated in a nanoparticle solution which it is believed will make the Vision waterproof.

This differs from the Kobo Aura H2O or the Pocketbook Aqua, which have waterproof shells. Those other ereaders also have IP certification, which the new Vision lacks. Not to disparage the new ereader, but that lack of a certification means that the Vision’s waterproof feature comes with a big asterisk and a reasonable question that it will be effective.


But I wouldn’t let that turn you away, because the Vision’s other new feature sounds quite nifty. The new Vision has the same 6″ Carta E-ink screen, frontlight, and touchscreen found on its predecessor, so it should have similar performance in most circumstances, but it also has a touch-sensitive rear shell.

Tolino calls this Page2Flip, and they say that readers will be able to turn the page simply by tapping the rear of the Vision with one of their fingers. This effectively turns the entire backside into a page turn button, bringing am end to the discord between those who want page turn buttons and those who want a sleek design.

I don’t have details yet on how Tolino pulled off this feature, but I have seen similar tech demonstrated at past trade shows so the new Vision didn’t come as a complete shock.

When I was at SID Display Week earlier this year, I saw the Zephyr, a 21″ blueprint ereader prototype from Printless Plans.  That device sported folding design with a unique touchscreen tech that put the touch layer behind the screen. That probably sounds like a Wacom touchscreen, but the Zephyr’s screen didn’t require a stylus. Instead it had a net of pressure sensors which could detect when the screen was pressed.

That pressure sensitive touch tech was developed  by Tactonic Technologies, and you can find more info on the tech in that older post.

I can’t say for sure that the new Vision uses Tactonic’s tech, and I also can’t report that it works well. According to hands-on reports, the new feature is described as as being anything but intuitive; one blogger seemed relieved that this feature could be disabled in the settings menu.

To be fair, we’ll have to wait for user reports to know for sure. Until then, we’ll just have to be satisfied with this demo video:

The new Vision is going to be sold in Germany by Tolino partners, including Bertelsmann, Deutsches Telekom, Thalia, and others. The retail price will be 129 euros when the new Vision ships in November, when it will replace the existing model.

Update: There is some disagreement on the price. The Tolino Vision 2 is listed on Thalia’s website for 149 euros, not 129. That includes a case, but there is no listing for a model at 129 euros.

That’s going to make the Vision a lot cheaper than other premium ereaders, but then again it lacks the high resolution screen found on the Kindle Voyage or the larger and sharper screen on the Kobo Aura H2O. To be fair to all, the other devices have good reasons to command higher prices.,

The post Tolino Launches Waterproof Vision eReader, Adds Novel page Turn Button appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment