- The Morning Coffee – 17 November 2014
- E-ink Reported Q3 Revenues Down from Last Year
- Amazon Losing eBook Market Share in Germany?
- Pocketbook InkPad Review: eBook Formats
Posted: 16 Nov 2014 07:30 PM PST
Links Good. Click Links. Read Stories.
Hot stories this Monday morning include how to read a publishing contract, Dear Author’s bad math on Kindle Unlimited, a discussion over The Author’s Guild’s “hope” that author royalties will rise, and more.
Posted: 16 Nov 2014 07:08 PM PST
While E-ink usually does their best to tell a less than complete story about their financial state, the slides from E-ink’s investor conference last week (found by E-ink Info) say more than E-ink would like.
The screen maker reported earnings of approximately $133 million USD in the third quarter of 2014, down from $154 million in the same period last year. Both gross and net profit were down, with E-ink reporting a net of around $3.3 million.
E-ink also reported carrying significantly less stock on hand as compared to last year while at the same time boosting its cash reserves and reducing debt.
During that quarter E-ink saw the launch of two new ereaders with next-generation screens: the Kobo Aura H2O, which has a 6.8″ Carta screen, and the Kindle Voyage, which has a 6″ display with a screen resolution of 300ppi.
Posted: 16 Nov 2014 03:29 PM PST
Amazon’s dominant position in the global ebook market is largely dependent their strong position in a handful of the most-developed markets: the US, UK, and Germany. And now it looks like Amazon may be losing their grip on on Germany.
BuchReport reported on Friday that the the latest figures from market research firm GfK show that the Kindle Store was losing market share to Tolino. In the 3rd quarter of 2014, the consortium of media retailers that make up the Tolino alliance accounted for 45% of the German ebook market, while Amazon only accounted for 39%.
GfK also estimated that 22 million ebooks were sold in Germany in 2013 for a total market value of about 163 million euros, a 63% increase from 2012. Around 9% of Germans own an ereader, with 43% of that figure owning a Kindle, 12% a Tolino device, and 11% either a Sony or Trekstor ereader.
Formed in early 2013, the Tolino alliance initially consisted of 4 German media retailers (Thalia, WeltBild, Hugendubel, and Bertelsmann) and Deutche Telekom which had pooled their resources and launched a single shared ebook platform to share development and operating costs.
Earlier this year Tolino expanded internationally when the Belgian retailer Standaard Boekhandel joined in July, followed in September by the Dutch bookstore coop Libris, and in November by the Italian retailer IBS.it.
With the addition of IBS, Tolino has partner retailers spread across 4 countries in central Europe with around 1,500 retail stores in Germany and 300 stores in other countries, including 145 stores in Belgium, 100 stores in the Netherlands, and 44 stores in Italy.
Tolino partners support the Vision ereader, as well as several tablet models and apps for Android and iOS.
image by Mark B. Schlemmer
Posted: 16 Nov 2014 09:09 PM PST
Pocketbook has long boasted that their ebook readers support an impressive number of file formats, including PDF, Epub, Mobi, FB2, and while that’s nifty and all I for one have always wondered how well all those formats actually worked on Pocketbook’s devices.
And now that I have the InkPad, I decided to find out.
Pocketbook’s 8″ ebook reader has iffy software, but the hardware is good enough that I feel it’s worth my time to critique the software features and how well the various file formats are supported.
The following post is Part One of X of my review of the InkPad, and I will add more detail as I write other parts of my review or at the request of readers.
According to Pocketbook, the complete list of supported formats include:
This of course leaves out the image formats (JPG, TIFFF, BMP, PNG) and audio format (MP3), which I intend to cover in a post on the InkPad’s apps.
Let’s start with PDF.
This is one of the Inkpad’s best and worst features. While text based PDFs look great on the InkPad’s 8″ screen, graphic novels are slow to render (2 seconds per page, or more). Text to Speech also didn’t work more than a single time.
I tested a 10MB graphic novel, and several other PDFs of various sizes. So long as the PDFs weren’t image intensive they worked just fine. I found 8.5×11 PDFs to be quite readable with the margin cropping option set to automatic. That removed the need for zooming in most situations.
For the sake of completeness: I tested English language PDFs, but not (so far as I know) ones with unusual embedded fonts. So I might have missed something.
Epub is one of the more common formats and its various flavors (Kobo, Apple, etc) make up a significant share of the global ebook market. With that in mind, you would think that Epub would be the best supported format.
Frankly, it’s not.
I noticed while reading that the Epub renderer repeatedly forgot what it had just shown on screen. In other words, most of the times that I tried to use the left page turn button to go back through what I just read, instead of seeing text I saw a blank page. Pressing the page turn button again sometimes moved another page back, but sometimes it did nothing.
It was also slow to turn the page. In comparison to my my Kindle Paperwhite (2013), which was showing an ebook I bought from Amazon, the InkPad took noticeably longer to turn the page.There were also times where the InkPad simply froze.
Mobi & PRC
While I am sure that some ebook users look at the Mobi support and think that the InkPad is the answers to their need for a single platform which supports both Epub and DRM-free Kindle ebooks, I’m going to have to burst your bubble.
The InkPad supports Mobi, but it does not support much in the way of formatting. It won’t show you the formatting created by the publisher, just a very basic text layout. It also cannot show you the cover, but it does support the external TOC.
From what I can tell, the Mobi files are rendered using code different from Epub files. They share some details, including font sizes, line spacing, and margin options, but I have noticed that the Mobi files didn’t have the same issue with left page turns.
They also had a “back button” which I didn’t see with the Epub files; it enabled me to go back to the inline TOC, for example. And the InkPad was faster at turning the age in a Mobi file than it was in an Epub file.
RTF,DOC, DOCX, & Txt
Similar to the incomplete Mobi support, the InkPad doesn’t completely support these office formats. It will open the files and display the text, but certain details like formatting, page breaks, and a TOC are ignored.
Or at least, those details were ignored in the test files I created with Libre Office; I can’t say for sure whether they will be respected in office files created with other apps.
Most of the features available for the ebook formats worked with the office formats.
Originally Microsoft’s help file format, the CHM format has never been very common. It can still sometimes be found with Windows apps, but I don’t think it’s in widespread use any more. In fact, Microsoft doesn’t really support it any more; Windows can open the file but it uses the a frame design that hasn’t been updated since 2002 (I checked the about page).
The page turn speed was comparable to my Kindle Paperwhite (2013) which was showing an ebook I bought from Amazon.
The InkPad can open the files, but most of the formatting is ignored. The TOC works, though, and you do get the same features as the office formats mentioned above.
I freely confess that I know little about this format this morning, and after having used it I still don’t know much. Described online as a compressed image format, the files I tested more closely resembled a PDF-like file format. The text was in fixed layout like a PDF, and there was actual text and not just page images. (The search worked, for example.)
The page turn speed was somewhat slower than my Kindle Paperwhite (2013).
I don’t think DJVu is terribly useful, but it does work to some degree. To be honest, I can’t tell you how well it worked; I was only able to find a handful of files from a single source so I don’t know whether the imperfect performance was the quality of the files or the InkPad.
I had similar issues with testing this format. Originally developed for FBReader (a Russian ebook app), this format is from a US perspective incredibly obscure. I was able to find one file I could read. To be more exact, I found one file in English; if I were able to read Russian I could have used any of a few dozen files.
The page turn speed was comparable to my Kindle Paperwhite (2013), which was showing an ebook I bought from Amazon.
The FB2 support closely matched the support for Epub, though I am not sure whether the formatting was displayed correctly. I can also add that I did not encounter Epub’s missing text bug.
Due to my inability to find a test file, I did not try TCR. I also did not test html beyond a cursory test to confirm the files opened; I lack test files with inline formatting or CSS embedded in the header.
In summary, Pocketbook’s software offers good support for PDF and FB2, marginal support for Mobi and office doc formats, and flawed support for Epub. That list of supported formats doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as it did this morning.
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