Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 5 December 2014

Posted: 04 Dec 2014 07:35 PM PST

The Friday morning list includes a mix of the banal, the nonsensical, the useful, and the overlong.

  • Big Districts Pressure Publishers on Digital-Content Delivery (Education Week)
  • Google Books: Authors Guild and Google Meet in a Federal Appeals Court (Roundup) (LJ INFOdocket)
  • Longform: Why do we measure the value of content by its length? (GigaOm)
  • Longform overload (Columbia Journalism Review)
  • RedShelf Adds Publishers to E-Textbook Distribution Platform (DBW)
  • This Comic Book Tells You Everything You Need to Know About Copyright (Lifehacker)
  • Wal-Mart Should Buy Barnes & Noble’s Struggling Nook Division (TheStreet)

The post The Morning Coffee – 5 December 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss that 4 inch iPhone rumor

Posted: 04 Dec 2014 12:34 PM PST

iPhone 5cThere’s a new rumor going around today that Apple is planning to launch a 4″ iPhone next fall as a smaller compliment to the 4.7″ and 5.5″ models they launched a couple months ago.

Some blogs think this rumor is complete hooey, but I am less certain. According to Cult of Mac:

We're not convinced!

Personally, I'd suggest the report is 99 percent likely to be nonsense. Apple only just upgraded to the larger screen size with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, to both critical and commercial acclaim. Between them, the two handsets smashed records with 10 million+ sales in their first weekend on sale, and analysts arepredicting 71.5 million more units will sell over the holidays.

My usual rule is to disbelieve Apple rumors until I see solid info like an attributed statement, parts, photos, or diagrams, so I won’t come out in support of this rumor. But I also won’t dismiss it cavalierly.

While it may sound unlikely that Apple would release a 4″ iPhone, there was a time where I would not have expected Apple to have 5 iPad models (with a new larger one probably coming in the spring). I also would not have expected Apple to have 2 iPhone models.

And yet Apple has all those models. And if Apple has 2 iPhone models, can you say with absolute certainty that they won’t add a third model to the lineup?

I wouldn’t be so sure. What do you think?

The post I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss that 4 inch iPhone rumor appeared first on The Digital Reader.

iVerse Comics Plus app updated with support for PDF, CBZ, CBR

Posted: 04 Dec 2014 11:42 AM PST

icon175x175[1]With the US digital comics market dominated by Comixology, iVerse has had to adopt a different strategy to catch and keep readers. That’s why iVerse rolled out a new version of their digital comics app yesterday.

With the v8.0 update, the Comics Plus app for iOS and Android gains parental controls, improved filter and search functions, and more.

Chief among the improvements is support for comic book rentals (iOS8 only). Readers can rent one of a selection of titles for a day, 2 days, or 5 days, with costs ranging from $2 to $4 for most titles.


The update also adds support for several of the DRM-free comics formats, including PDF, CBZ, CBR, and Epub. Readers can sideload their own files, and then create a guided reading mode for their favorite comics. This mode, which iVerse is calling uView enhanced reading experience, is intended to give a reader the optimal reading experience by directing them from one part of the page to the next.

And once a reader has scripted the best way to read a comic, they can save that script as a separate file and then share it online with another enthusiast.

I’m still playing around with the app. Well, actually I’m having trouble with iOS8 not letting me sideload any files, so at this point I can’t confirm that the new format support exists.

But if you would like to try it yourself, the new app can be found in iTunes and (I think) Google Play. The GP listing shows that the app was updated yesterday, but it still has the old description so the update may or may not have been applied.


  •  All-New Design
  •  Graphic Novel Rentals w/ OFFLINE READING
  •  uView enhanced reading experience
  •  Enhanced Search w/ Popular and Saved Search Options
  •  Import Digital File support (ePub, PDF, CBR, CBZ)
  •  uView creation and editing for imported files
  •  In-App Parental Controls


Google Play

The post iVerse Comics Plus app updated with support for PDF, CBZ, CBR appeared first on The Digital Reader.

B&N to buy out Microsoft’s interest in Nook Media for $120 million

Posted: 04 Dec 2014 08:07 AM PST

microsoft nookBarnes & Noble released their quarterly statement today. Mixed in with the usual dry statistics was a bombshell: B&N is buying out Microsoft’s share of Nook Media. After almost two years of co-owning a moneypit, MS is selling off their interest and walking away.

In financial news, B&N reported that total revenues dropped 2.7%, to $1.7 billion, as compared to the same quarter last year.  Second quarter EBITDA also decreased slightly, from $76 million a year ago to $68 million. The press release mentions that retail was down, college bookstore sales were up, and of course Nook revenues were down.

B&N’s nook segment had sales of $64 million for the quarter, down 41% from a year ago. Hardware sales decreased 63% to $18.7 million for the quarter, a new low for Nook Media, Digital content sales totaled $45.2 million for the quarter, a decline of 21.2% from a year ago, largely due to customers fleeing a sinking ship.

And in the important news, Microsoft and B&N have decided to  go their separate ways. They’ve filed divorce papers today with the SEC stating that the two companies have terminated their commercial agreement.

Microsoft paid $300 million for a one sixth interest in Nook Media when it was spun out of B&N in early 2012, and they also committed to paying $300 million in operating expenses should Nook Media hit certain goals (expanding internationally, for example). According to the form 8-K, B&N will buy out MS for $63 million in cash and 2.7 million shares of B&N stock.

B&N is trading for around $20 right now, so the total purchase price will be around $120 million (plus or minus $5 million). In other words, Microsoft’s interest in Nook Media lost about 60% of its value in the time since Nook Media launched.

While that’s bad news for MS, it’s great news for Nook Media. While the company is losing out on a source of revenue, it’s also free from the constraints MS imposed. For example, the international Nook store was effectively confined to Windows 8 (the Nook iOS and Android apps were limited to only US and UK). Now there is a chance that B&N will expand the platform to also let its international customers use the other Nook apps.

Nook Media is still going to be spun out into a separate publicly traded company, but the launch day has been pushed back from spring 2015 to August 2015.

more to come




As a result of today's announcement, the Company expects that the completion of the potential separation of the Company’s businesses could occur by the end of August 2015, although there can be no assurances regarding the timing of such potential separation or that such separation will be completed.

The post B&N to buy out Microsoft’s interest in Nook Media for $120 million appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Apple deleted rivals’ songs from users’ iPods, and other clickbait

Posted: 04 Dec 2014 05:56 AM PST

308291335_a62c585c5c_m[1]Along with the upcoming appeal in the ebook price-fixing antitrust suit, Apple is currently embroiled in a decade old lawsuit about iPods and Apple’s possible misdeeds in maintaining their dominance of the music market.

I’ve only been following that story at a distance, but yesterday a story crossed my desk which deserved a comment. The WSJ is covering the trial and they ran a story with the clickbaity headline that Apple was deleting songs from users’ iPods:

Apple deleted music that some iPod owners had downloaded from competing music services from 2007 to 2009 without telling users, attorneys for consumers told jurors in a class-action antitrust suit against Apple Wednesday.

"You guys decided to give them the worst possible experience and blow up" a user's music library, attorney Patrick Coughlin said in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif.

When a user who had downloaded music from a rival service tried to sync an iPod to the user's iTunes library, Apple would display an error message and instruct the user to restore the factory settings, Coughlin said. When the user restored the settings, the music from rival services would disappear, he said.

While I don’t dispute the fact that files were deleted, to frame this event in terms of Apple deleting the files is simply nonsense. It’s not true in a technical sense and it is not even a vaguely accurate description of Apple’s actions.

338087600_28c77d1b0e[1]Let me give you an example to explain the context better.

When Amazon went into users’ Kindles and removed a copy of 1984, that was an act which was best described as deleting a file.  Apple, on the other hand, merely forced users to perform a factory reset (and it’s not clear how much pressure was applied).

Were files deleted in the factory reset? Yes, but that is exactly what is supposed to happen when you reset a device to factory settings.

I’ve been providing tech support on this blog for I don’t know how many years, and I’ve owned gadgets for even longer. And every time I’ve performed a factory reset I have lost files when the internal storage was erased. That is SOP, folks, and to imply otherwise is simply nonsense.

Don’t get me wrong; I think Apple was being shitty when they forced the reset; it was a clearly user-hostile move and I am happy to see Apple slapped around for it. But I also would not characterize that event as “Apple deleted songs from a user’s iPod”.

That is hyperbole, and anyone who covers tech should have a good enough grasp of the technical details that they should see through the lawyer’s rhetoric.

images by @cdharrisontonystl

The post Apple deleted rivals' songs from users' iPods, and other clickbait appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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