Friday, 7 November 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Facebook is Giving Users (Slightly) More Control Over What They Read in Their News Feed

Posted: 07 Nov 2014 07:10 PM PST

3185202042_059b9623d9[1]Facebook has been getting a lot of grief over the past year. While Twitter and all of the news blogs were buzzing with Ferguson, all you could find on Facebook was the Ice bucket challenge. This led some to grouse about how the stories that received the most attention on Facebook were quizzes and puppy videos.

The social network responded by getting clickbait out of the news feed, and then rejiggering the news feed so it gave more emphasis to time sensitive posts. And today Facebook is taking a step to hand users more power over the content of their news feed.

Facebook has just rolled out a new tool which will make it easier for users to control just what they see in their News Feed. FB will show users which pages and people take up the most space each user’s News Feed, and then offer the option of seeing fewer posts from a source.  Users will also be able to unfollow these sources without unfriending them. Facebook has long offered the option  to unfollow without unfriending, but the new tool puts the feature front and center. Facebook will also offer users

Facebook product manager Greg Marra said that the change is part of a larger effort to make users’ feeds more relevant to what interests them.  He told Mashable that about 1,500 different stories have the potential to appear in a user’s News Feed in a given day, but people only see about 150.


This new tool should give users a better idea of what the pages and people they follow are posting, and what Facebook isn’t showing them. Or at least that is the way it is supposed to work; I’ve been looking through Facebook for the past 20 minutes and I don’t see where this tool is hidden.

Based on what I have read so far, this new tool is really only a slight refinement on the existing follow/unfollow options which shows you volume data before letting you make a choice.

While this could give users a better idea of what they’re not seeing, one thing it won’t do is give them any real control over the News Feed. No matter what Facebook might claim, that will ultimately lie with Facebook.

image by mkhmarketing_Max-B

The post Facebook is Giving Users (Slightly) More Control Over What They Read in Their News Feed appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Onyx Boox AfterGlow 2 Launched – Android 4.2, Dual-Core CPU

Posted: 07 Nov 2014 12:54 PM PST

Onyx-Boox-AfterGlow-2Onyx has just quietly launched a new ebook reader, the Boox AfterGlow 2, and it is available today through Onyx’s Polish partner Arta Tech.

The AfterGlow 2 sports a 6″ Pearl E-ink screen, not Carta, but other than that this is some ereader. It runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean on a dual-core 1.2GHz CPU with 512MB RAM, 4GB internal storage, Wifi, audio, and a microSD card slot. It has both a frontlight and a capacitive touchscreen.

In terms of software, the AfterGlow 2 ships with Googe Play as well as Ivona TTS and the other apps found on the Onyx Boox T68 Lynx, including a web browser, note-taking app, and both of the Mediopolis apps that the Lynx got in an update this week as well as the more than adequate reading app OReader.

The AfterGlow 2 weighs in at 184 grams and measures 8.7mm thin. Its 1.7Ah battery is said to offer up to 8 weeks of battery life. With a price tag of 124 euros, this is not the cheapest ebook reader on the market but it does offer a good value in comparison to the Kindle Paperwhite (which costs 109 euros on

It also offers features some of us would like to see on more ereaders, like page turn buttons on either side of the screen and a more powerful CPU. And since it ships with Google Play and is sold by a European company, it’s also a viable alternative to the Boyue T62.

Are you planning to get one? I’m going to add it to my todo list, but I’m at least a month behind on reviews so i don’t know that I’ll be able to get to this one soon.

Onyx-Boox-AfterGlow-2 Onyx-Boox-AfterGlow-1 Onyx-Boox-AfterGlow-3 Onyx-Boox-AfterGlow-4 Onyx-Boox-AfterGlow-5 Onyx-Boox-AfterGlow-6

via my competition

The post Onyx Boox AfterGlow 2 Launched – Android 4.2, Dual-Core CPU appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Blockbuster Hits, Acquisitions Drive Revenues at S&S, HarperCollins

Posted: 07 Nov 2014 11:50 AM PST

Feel free to use this image just link to www.rentvine.comEarlier this week  S&S and HarperCollins released quarterly reports which showed opposite results for almost the exact same cause: blockbuster hits, or rather the lack thereof.

According to the 10-Q filed by CBS Corp, Simon & Schuster revenues dropped $25 million last quarter from the same period last year, ($224 million to $199 million). The decline was attributed to the lack of a blockbuster hit comparable to “the popularity of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King and Si-Cology by Si Robertson”, both of which were released in the 3rd quarter last year.

Revenues in general were down, but it would seem that digital revenues were one of the bright spots. Digital content sales made up 28% of revenues, and PW reported that sales of digital content (which were down in the first half of 2014) were “flat to a little down” in the third quarter.

HarperCollins, on the other, reported a much better quarter – and for exactly the same reason. PW has a good summary so I will quote them:

Total revenue at HC rose to $406 million, from $328 million in last year’s first quarter. …

HarperCollins completed its acquisition of Harlequin at the end of July, one month into the last quarter and HC parent company News Corp.said that excluding Harlequin results, sales would have increased 6% and EBITDA would have increased 23%.

PW goes on to say that  HarperCollins attributed their increase in revenues to the YA dystopia series Divergent, which had been selling great ever since the movie was released earlier this year. 3.5 million copies were sold last quarter, helped by sales of Four: A Divergent Collection.

So what we have here are two publishers whose fortunes are dependent on blockbuster hits and buying up smaller publishers. (Actually, based on Hachette’s quarterly report from August, we could make that 3 publishers.)

That does not strike me as being conducive for the long term health of the companies in question, although it does present an interesting opportunity for the authors of the blockbuster hits. I wonder if they know how much power they have?

image by Dave Dugdale

The post Blockbuster Hits, Acquisitions Drive Revenues at S&S, HarperCollins appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Blurb Launches Skills Marketplace For Hiring Collaborators

Posted: 07 Nov 2014 09:34 AM PST

Hi-Res-Blurb-logo[1]As the publishing industry continues to fragment into an increasing number of independents (and a shrinking number of giants), there’s growing opportunity in connecting those indies with the publishing pros they need to get their books to market.

Blurb is seizing on that opportunity today with the launch of a new marketplace. It’s called Dream Team, and Blurb has recruited industry veterans Molly Barton and Richard Nash to run it.

I missed out on the press briefings, but from what I can see in the coverage on TNW and Venturebeat this looks a marketplace much like the one Reedsy launched last month. TNW reports that:

The Dream Team group, operating under the Blurb aegis, is comprised of 50 creative professionals who provide expertise in copy editing, developmental editing, book design, art direction, illustration, photography, cover design, ghostwriting, ebook conversion and more. Authors and businesses can pick and choose their own custom team without having to submit to a package deal.

Team members are spread across the UK/EU, Canada, US and Australia, and are equipped to work on projects in English, French, and Dutch for both print and digital books.


Blurb won’t be taking a cut of the deals between authors and the pros, but they will be benefiting from the increased number of projects brought to fruition. Blurb’s past research has shown that projects done entirely by a single person have the lowest completion rate.

Some time back Blurb conducted a survey of 40 book projects on the site, and discovered that when an expert is hired to assist on a project, the completion rate tripled to 30%. Hiring a second pro bumped the completion rate to 90%.


The Dream Team  marketplace is only in its earliest stages, and Venturebeat says that Blurb plans to let it grow based on the needs of authors:

The marketplace will eventually add new types of collaborators like ghost writers, publishing business managers, marketers, publicists, and more. The idea, Gittins said, is to slowly transform Dream Team into a platform that offers all the services of a traditional book publisher, and then some.

As the Dream Team marketplace grows it will have to outcompete other marketplaces, including the ones run by Reedsy, Bibliocrunch, and Book Machine. That last startup is focused on building an online community of publishing pros through local events in NYC, London, and elsewhere.

The post Blurb Launches Skills Marketplace For Hiring Collaborators appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Cybook Ocean Goes up for Pre-Order, Also Cleared the FCC (video)

Posted: 07 Nov 2014 07:26 AM PST

cybook-ocean-2Bookeen’s new ebook reader went up for pre-order this week, and is scheduled to ship on 24 November. The Cybook Ocean sports an 8″ epaper screen, and thanks to the FCC filings I can also confirm the listed specs.

This ereader went through the FCC back in May (the 6″ Muse cleared the FCC this week), and based on what I can see in the internal photos (PDF) I can say that it is running on an 800MHz Freescale CPU with 128MB RAM, Wifi, and a microSD card slot hidden under a flap on the rear of the device.

The Cybook Ocean has an 8″ epaper display with a screen resolution of 1,024 x 768, a capacitive touchscreen, and a frontlight. And according to the listed specs, the Cybook Ocean ships with 4GB internal storage and runs Bookeen’s proprietary readign software with support for Epub, PDF, and other formats.

cybook ocean FCC 1 cybook ocean FCC 2 cybook ocean FCC 3 cybook ocean FCC 4

It’s listed for $189 on the Bookeen website, and yes you can (theoretically) order it from the US. Unfortunately, Bookeen’s payment processor has repeatedly declined my credit card so in effect I can’t order it.

Until Bookeen gets that fixed I will have to content myself with the Cybook Ocean promo video:

It’s a cool looking ereader, but I’m not sure it justifies the high price. It’s about in the same price range as the Kindle Voyage, Kobo Aura H2O, Pocketbook Inkpad, and the Onyx Boox T68 Lynx.

All of those devices have a sharper screen, faster CPU, and other features which set them apart as premium ereaders. The Cybook ocean, on the other hand, has a relatively low resolution screen and a slower CPU.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the Cybook Ocean does, given the fierce competition.



The post Cybook Ocean Goes up for Pre-Order, Also Cleared the FCC (video) appeared first on The Digital Reader.

You Don’t Have to (Finish That Book!)

Posted: 06 Nov 2014 07:24 PM PST

BooksIf there’s one thing I hate about book culture it’s when someone gets up on their high horse and tells me that I am reading the wrong books, or reading them the wrong way, or reading them in the wrong format.

Juliet Lapidos is one such person. Writing in The Atlantic, she takes the position that you should always finish all of the books you read.

I finish every single novel I start. If I happen upon the first line of a 1,000-page novel, I of course don't feel compelled to read to the end. But as a matter of personal policy, when I decide I'm going to read a novel, I read the whole thing.

I've gathered over the years that my persistence—or stubbornness, depending on your point of view—is unusual. Most people I encounter think nothing of dropping a novel halfway because they find it boring or because they can see where it's going or because they forgot it on the subway and moved on to the next thing.

This behavior, common though it may be, seems lazy to me. Wrong, even. Once you start a book, you should finish it.

This is one of the links in tomorrow’s morning coffee posts, but after having read and thought about it today I have decided to respond directly.

Lapidos presents several arguments, none of which are compelling. For example:

First: Pleasure. When you stop short, you risk missing something incredible. I can't count how many novels have bored me for a hundred or even two hundred pages only to later amaze me with their brilliance. Charles Dickens's first novel, The Pickwick Papers is long and dated. I quickly grew tired of Samuel Pickwick's adventures, which were probably funny for 19th-century readers but which I found annoyingly quaint.

I don’t wish to sound like I am criticizing her reading choices, but I don’t find boredom pleasurable. It’s boring, and I don’t see why I should spend any of my limited time on this planet reading a book that is tedious. I’ve already made that mistake too many times.

Second: Fortitude. When a book makes me antsy I sometimes think of the famous Stanford marshmallow experiment from the late 1960s, which found, in brief, that children who were able to wait longer before stuffing themselves tended to do better in school and have a healthier body mass index later in life.

Let me cut her off at the knees: People like her are why some kids grow up hating to read. She is the type of person who would hand a kid a boring or difficult book and tell them to finish it anyway, thus instilling in that kid a hatred for the experience of reading.

But since she also brought up willpower, I will point out that there is research to suggest that willpower is a finite resource. The more a person must force themselves to finish a book, the less willpower they have to use for other things.

Like, you know, work.

Third: Respect. …

To drop a novel after a few chapters is, then, to disregard what makes it a formal work of art rather than a heap of papers that reside in a desk drawer. Today, books and authors need all the help they can get; if you care about literature as an artistic endeavor and the people who create it, then you should do so fully.

Rebecca Schinsky tweeted a good response to this. Earlier today she asked: “Does music suffer when you change stations mid-song? Does food culture die when you don't finish a meal?”

She’s not wrong.


I don’t usually pay attention to people like Lapidos, and to be honest I don’t think enough of her arguments to come up with a clever closing argument which ties this post together.

I say read however you want, whatever you want, wherever you want. And while you’re at it, please extend the same courtesy to other readers.

image by jlz

The post You Don’t Have to (Finish That Book!) appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment