Tag Archive for ‘E-Book’

Book Lending Coming to Kindle ➝

From an announcement on Amazon’s website:

First, we are making Kindle newspapers and magazines readable on our free Kindle apps, so you can always read Kindle periodicals even if you don’t have your Kindle with you or don’t yet own a Kindle. […] Second, later this year, we will be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. Additionally, not all e-books will be lendable – this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending.

This is something that needs to happen for e-books to be successful. The only addition I would love to see is more lenient lending periods. If I lend a book to a friend I’m not going to tell them that it must be returned in two weeks. They’ll return it when they are finished reading or have read enough to decide whether or not they will purchase it themselves.

Apple E-Book Pricing ➝

Apple appears to have a little more leverage than originally thought in regards to e-book pricing in the iBookstore.

Motoko Rich writes the following for the New York Times:

according to at least three people with knowledge of the discussions, who spoke anonymously because of the confidentiality of the talks, Apple inserted provisions requiring publishers to discount e-book prices on best sellers — so that $12.99-to-$14.99 range was merely a ceiling; prices for some titles could be lower, even as low as Amazon’s $9.99.

What this means is that if a book is released to the iBookstore at $14.99, if that book hits one of the best-seller lists it would be discounted to $12.99 or less.

Ephemera ➝

I Came across Ephemera recently and as I said on Twitter, it blew my mind.

Ephemera is one of those applications that does one thing incredibly well. Ephemera syncs your saved items in Instapaper with your e-book reader. I’ve been using it with my Kindle but it will also work with Sony’s e-readers and pretty much any other device that is capable of reading HTML, Mobipocket or EPUB files.

Set up is simple, just give Ephemera your Instapaper credentials and you’re all set. Ephemera defaults to creating HTML files for each unread item, but you can also have the option to use Mobipocket or EPUB format which will sync your most recent 20 articles in one single file.

I’m currently using the Mobipocket format but Ephemera has a really neat feature when you’re using HTML files. When using the HTML format whenever an article is deleted from your e-reader it is automatically archived in Instapaper the next time you sync your device.

The app was already good enough but the next couple of options is what really got me excited: “automatically sync after connecting” and “disconnect after syncing.” I have both of them checked, now when I plug in my Kindle Ephemera grabs the latest 20 articles from Instapaper, transfers them to my Kindle, and disconnects. Absolutely perfect.

Spring Design Partners with Borders ➝

Spring Design has partnered with Borders to sell their Alex e-book reader. Borders will be selling the device in their retail stores  and will create a digital book store and some “mobile eBook applications.” Spring Design has also announced that the device will cost $359 when it is released on February 22, 2010.

So, Spring Design sues Barnes & and Noble for stealing their design and then partners with their biggest competitor for the Alex. Wise decision.

I couldn’t find the press release on Spring Design’s website but Engadget is hosting it on theirs.

Previously:
10/23/09:
Spring Design Announces ‘Alex’

Barnes & Noble Sending $100 Gift Certificates to nook Pre-Orderers ➝

Laura Northrup reports for The Consumerist that those who have pre-ordered the Barnes & Noble nook have received emails from informing them that if their nook is not delivered by December 24 they will receive a $100 Barnes & Noble gift certificate.

For those that do not receive their nook by December 24, Barnes & Noble plans to ship it overnight on December 29.

Barnes & Noble has really botched the launch of this device, after missing ship dates left and right and their overall inability to fulfill orders, this is obviously their way of trying to cool tempers. I’m not sure if it’s going to work though, those who ordered the nook as a gift would surely rather have the nook on time. But, at least their trying.

On a lighter note, the nook is slow, and it’s differentiating features come with some major caveats, but it’s incredibly hackable. Engadget’s Thomas Ricker reports that clever nook owners have managed to get a web browser, Twitter, and Facebook app on the device.

Then again, how useful are these hacks if Barnes & Noble can’t actually ship units in any reasonable capacity.

Previously:
12/10/09:
Barnes & Noble nook Reviews Start Pouring In
10/22/09: Barnes & Noble ‘nook’
10/17/09: Barnes and Noble E-Book Reader

Barnes & Noble nook Reviews Start Pouring In

Reviews of the Barnes & Noble nook have started appearing from all the usual suspects. The general opinion is that although it is a decent device, it is slow and all of the differentiating features come with major caveats.

Barnes & Noble will be updating the nook’s software soon but for now here’s what the reviewers have to say.

David Pogue regarding the nook’s screens:

Worse, the touch screen is balky and nonresponsive, even for the Nook product manager who demonstrated it for me. The only thing slower than the color strip is the main screen above it. Even though it’s exactly the same E Ink technology that the Kindle and Sony Readers use, the Nook’s screen is achingly slower than the Kindle’s. It takes nearly three seconds to turn a page — three times longer than the Kindle — which is really disruptive if you’re in midsentence.

Wilson Rothman mentions a huge caveat to one of the nook’s biggest features:

Lending is another non-Kindle function rolling out this week that I’ll be following up on. You select a book from your collection, lend it to someone listed in your Nook contacts, and they receive a message via email and on their Nook’s “Daily” screen, where periodicals, offers and other notices show up. When they accept, they can read the book for two weeks. During that time, you can’t read it, and when it reverts back to you, they get a notice to buy. You can’t lend the same book to the same person twice.

Walt Mossberg regarding the size of the nook’s catalog compared to the Amazon Kindle’s:

Nook claims a catalog of just over one million digital books, versus 389,000 for the Kindle. But this is somewhat misleading, because over half of the Nook catalog is made up of free out-of-copyright titles published before 1923, the vast majority of which are likely to be of little interest to average readers. Barnes & Noble refuses to say how many modern commercial titles it offers, or even whether it has more or fewer of these than Amazon (AMZN).

Joshua Topolsky has this to say about the nook’s user interface:

At first blush, the Nook’s user interface and navigation is a bit overwhelming. If you’re coming off of any traditional reader, even one as complex as the Kindle, what Barnes & Noble offers seems far more daunting. Aside from having to learn a completely new way of getting around, adding that dual screen interaction to the mix is rather confusing when you first flip the switch. The foundations of the UI aren’t hard to understand, but if you walk into the device without knowing your way around, you’ll end up feeling pretty lost at first.

I was excited about the use of two screens to interact with an e-book reader. Using a touchscreen LCD to navigate menus and an e-ink display to show text sounds like the best of both worlds, but unless Barnes & Noble can find a better way to implement this it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a hit with consumers.

But, the biggest downfall of the nook to me is the lack of web browser. The Kindle’s browser isn’t perfect but since my main use for such a device would be to read text from the web, having a web browser is a huge win.

Previously:
10/22/09:
Barnes & Noble ‘nook’
10/17/09: Barnes and Noble E-Book Reader

Update 12/20/09: Barnes & Noble Sending $100 Gift Certificates to nook Pre-Orderers

Ibis Reader and BookServer ➝

Ibis Reader

Ibis Reader is an upcoming e-book reader built for Android, iPhone, and webOS as a web app. It uses HTML5 for offline storage and will have cross-device syncing and bookmarking so you can start reading on your iPod touch and pick it up where you left off on your Palm Pre.

Ibis Reader uses BookServer for its content and all of the books are completely DRM free. They’ve even gone so far as to allow you to export your books and put them on any device that supports ePub.

The app won’t be launching for several months but I’m excited to see where it goes.

Spring Design Announces ‘Alex’ ➝

Although I reported about the Barnes & Noble nook yesterday, Spring Design’s Alex is the first Android based e-book reader. Like the nook, Alex has two displays, one e-paper display and one touchscreen LCD.

Alex has Wi-Fi and 3G but, unlike many of the recently announced e-book readers, supports “full Internet browsing.” Alex also brings a new feature to the e-book market that they refer to as “hyperlinking text with multimedia.”

Dr. Priscilla Lu, CEO of Spring Design, regarding the feature:

This is the start of a whole new experience of reading content on e-books, potentially igniting a whole new industry in multimedia e-book publishing for secondary authors to create supplementary content that is hyper linked to the text. We are bringing life to books with audio, video, and annotations. This gives readers the ability to fully leverage the resources on the Web, and the tools available in search engines to augment the reading experience.

Alex has a 6-inch e-ink display (seems to be the de facto standard) and a 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD. Users will will be able to capture and cache web content from the LCD screen and “toggle to view it on the [electronic paper display] without taxing the battery life.” Browser bookmarking, history, and settings, are all there.

The focus on web content is what gets me excited about this e-book reader in particular. I’ve mentioned several times in the past that my primary use for an e-reader would be for web content and this seems like the best device for the job. The only downside I’ve found so far is that it’s ugly.

Update 11/6/09: Maximum PC has had some hands on time with Spring Design’s Alex and, looking through the pictures, I’ve realized I was wrong about the design of this thing. The images of the device that were initial released didn’t do it justice, this thing looks fantastic.

Update 11/8/09: Spring Design revealed earlier this week that it has sued Barnes & Noble for infringing on the design of their Alex e-book reader. Spring Design says that they had been working with Barnes & Noble since spring of this year and that Barnes & Noble stole their idea. After both of these e-book readers were announced it was rather obvious that they both had the same idea. Since Barnes & Noble is an established company with no previous hardware history I wouldn’t be too surprised if Spring Designs allegations were true.

Update 1/5/10: Darren Murph reporting for Engadget regarding the Alex:

the reader was intensely thin and remarkably snappy. We had some gripes with the speed of the Nook, but every action we took on the Alex was relatively lag free. We even downloaded a book and watched it open up immediately, and the touchscreen response was also satisfactory.

He seems to like the device. And, just after looking through the gallery and watching the video, I like the device as well.

Update 1/14/10: Spring Design Partners with Borders