Friday, July 30, 2010

Unsung features of Kindle 3. PDF contrast, Web Zoom-ins, Time-setting etc

SEE THE MAIN NEW KINDLE INFO SECTION for details on features announced.  The following are the features that were Not announced but more quietly part of the User's Guide.

First, Len Edgerly's The Kindle Chronicle's Friday Podcast has his "Extra" audio report on the Kindle 3 seen during his visit July 26 with Kindle Team members Jay Marine, Director of Product Development for the Kindle, and Stephanie Mantello, Senior PR Manager for the Kindle in Boston.

  These are first impressions of the new Kindle, recorded immediately after the preview as well as some information from the press release.

 Friday's regular podcast will be an interview with Jay Marine.

New unheralded aspects are in BOLDface.

No-fee delivery of personal documents direct to Kindle
  "For Kindle models that include 3G, you can avoid 3G delivery fees for the personal document service by addressing the e-mail so that the second part of your Kindle e-mail address is  The document will be delivered to your Kindle when your Kindle is connected via Wi-Fi and it will also be e-mailed to your Amazon e-mail address.  If Wi-Fi is not available, you can transfer the personal document to your Kindle's documents folder by connecting your Kindle to your computer. "

Adjust the contrast!
  "While reading a PDF document, you can zoom in or adjust the contrast to make the document easier to read."

  "Pressing the Text key [Aa-key] will let you choose zoom and contrast options for a PDF page."

  The options are "lightest lighter default darker darkest."

However, into each life, some rain must fall:
  "table of contents -- this option is NOT available for PDF documents"

Place Cursor in Page
  "Press up or down on the 5-way controller to display the cursor.  If you are zoomed into a PDF page, you can also press Menu and choose 'Place Cursor in Page' to display the cursor.

    — displays a blinking cursor on the page.  Use this option when you are zoomed in to a PDF page and you want to create a note or highlight, or use the dictionary lookup."

  My note here: We were never able to access the words before.  Highlighted passages can now be forwarded to Facebook and Twitter, if social networking is enabled where you are.

Zooming into Web Pages
"You can zoom in to any web page to magnify the page. Additionally, if you see a magnifying glass displayed on a web page, you can use it to magnify a specific area of a web page."

More options similar to the PDF ones
Fit to Width, Zoom-in options, Actual Size
  My note here: Very nice!  Unfortunately, though, we can't adjust the contrast on webpages, which sometimes don't translate well to b&w.

Article Mode
"While viewing articles on a web page, you can switch to Article Mode ... allowing you to focus on the main text on the page.
  Choose "Web Mode" to return to the standard Web Browser view."

  "Lets you set the current local time on your Kindle.  On Kindle models that include 3G, you can have Kindle automatically set the device time."

  My note here: This can be done manually, finally!  When people are out of Whispernet areas, the most recent files would have no date and be placed last.  Now we can set the time ourselves.

"Microphone— the microphone is not currently enabled but is provided for future use. "

"If one or more items are in the process of downloading from the Kindle Store or Archived Items to your Kindle, you can monitor the download progress.  From Home, press Menu and select “View Downloading Items” to display a list of the items that are in the process of downloading and their download progress.  (If this option is dimmed, then all items have finished downloading to Home.)"

 This is good because I'm always wondering if it's through yet.  Sometimes it takes extra Check & Sync'g to get a blog update.

"Once you open a book, when you go to the next or previous page, the header automatically disappears to allow the page to fill the screen.  To temporarily display the header (for example, if you want to check battery status), press Menu.  Pressing Menu again hides the header."

"Your Kindle automatically turns 3G coverage off when you connect using Wi-Fi.  If you disconnect from a Wi-Fi network or if you move out of Wi-Fi range, Kindle automatically switches back to 3G coverage.  If you want to turn off 3G coverage, you can turn Whispernet off.  Keep in mind that turning Whispernet off also disables Wi-Fi connections.

Your Kindle can connect to a Wi-Fi network at home, at your favorite cafe, or at Wi-Fi hotspots around the world.  Connecting through Wi-Fi offers fast downloads, free delivery of personal documents, and allows your Audible audiobook purchases to be delivered wirelessly to your Kindle, with no computer required.

For U. S. customers traveling outside the United States, there is no additional charge to have your books, periodical subscriptions, and personal documents delivered to your Kindle if you connect to Whispernet using Wi-Fi.

Turning wireless off applies to both 3G and Wi-Fi connections"

  My note here: A humorous thought from K. Rector, posting in Amazon Kindle forums who wonders if, since AT&T offers Kindle users free WiFi at AT&T hotspots everywhere and they list Barnes and Noble as one, whether one can be in the store and browse with the Kindle, using B&N's WiFi  :-)

And the 2nd one is the Oxford Dictionary of English!
This must be a result of the UK getting its own Kindle store Aug. 27.

  Note that the hardcover version of this is $53.

 In the U.S. at least (maybe the UK too, since the User's Guide is for both the U.S. and the UK), the default dictionary is The New Oxford American Dictionary.

ALT-DEL key-combo is back to delete an entire line that was typed instead of deleting one by one slowly.

"The bottom of your Kindle contains the volume controls, headphone jack, micro-USB/power port, power switch, microphone, and charge indicator light."
  Some feel this should be 'unsung.'

BATTERY CONSUMPTION CAUTION that can use a repeat.
"Keep in mind that subscribing to multiple blogs that update frequently may increase power consumption and decrease the battery life.  Weak signal coverage can also increase power consumption."

I just noticed this capability in the User's Guide and didn't remember this being available.  Tried my Kindle 2 and, yes, it's there.

  We can now (if we want to do such a thing) write a review via the Kindle and assign a rating to a product with the K2 and DX's.

That's it for today's report :-)

U.S. and International (except UK) Kindle 3's
  Free 3G/WiFi - $189  (White/Graphite) and WiFi-only- $139  (Graphite)
    Cover, with light powered by Kindle's battery - $60
    Cover, w/o light - $35

UK-Only Kindle 3's
  Free 3G/WiFi - £149.00  (White/Graphite) and WiFi-only- £109.00  (Graphite)
    Cover, with light powered by Kindle's battery - £50
    Cover, w/o light - £30

Kindle Touch 3G   Kindle Touch WiFi   Kindle Basic   (UK: KBasic)   Kindle Fire
Kindle Keybd 3G   (UK: Kindle Keybd 3G)   K3 Special Offers   K3-3G Special Offers   DX

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

  *Click* to Return to the HOME PAGE.  Or click on the web browser's BACK button

Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wired: Amazon strikes back. Bezos interview with Charlie Rose.


Steven Levy of Wired's Gadget Lab writes that "Jeff Bezos has survived the iPad" and then some.

His opener is that the iPad has not, despite the many dire predictions, been a "Kindle Killer" for all the reasons we've seen and describes the new Kindle 3 models as "a canny evolution that enhances the device’s raison d’etre: reading."

  "The new size and lightness "makes Kindle lighter than a paperback, while the iPad is heavier than Infinite Jest.
  "What’s more, the revelation that Amazon sells more Kindle books than hardcovers is only the beginning of what now looks like an inevitable mass migration to e-books.

  " 'Our best estimate is that Kindle books will outsell paperbacks at Amazon sometime in the next nine to twelve months,' Bezos says. 'And then at some point after that they’ll overtake the combination.' "

I neglected to include that link in last night's blog article on this detailed hands-on lookover, so here it is.

I watched this in a repeat last night and the first thing I noticed is they both interrupt each other a lot.  Jeff Bezos relaxed into easier conversation when talking about Japan and non-Kindle-specific matters.

Viewable online at Charlie  (Another link given didn't work.)

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Kindle 3 vs Kindle 2 in size + Hands-on report by PC World's Perenson - Photos also


This image at the left shows how much smaller the new Kindle 3G/WiFi and Kindle WiFi-Only are when seen next to the Kindle 2 International model.

I saw this image from Amazon when reading Wilson Rothman's excellent summary for MSNBC of the new Kindle features, putting it all into perspective.  It was refreshing after reading another report, one representing the Kindle as a giant reptile that won't die although the unnamed writer really wants it to be buried.

That's the headline by Melissa J. Perenson at Washington Post's posting of the PC World report today.
' As soon as I took the Kindle in hand, I knew that this Kindle marked new territory...
For the first time, I could comfortably hold a Kindle e-reader in one hand. At 8.7 ounces, the Kindle is not the lightest such device on the market...But it is lighter than Barnes & Noble's Nook (11.6 ounces for Nook Wi-Fi, 12.1 ounces for Nook Wi-Fi + 3G)... The unit felt very balanced in-hand, and the buttons felt like they were in convenient, ergonomic places.
... my experience, the darker border enhances readability, as would be expected given the visual perception a dark border provides. But the display is dramatically better in its own regard...
... the difference felt more dramatic when holding the device (an act also made easier by the rubberized backing). '

 She mentions the smaller bezels, a redsign that helps the 6-inch screen now dominate although there's still enough room round the edges to comfortably hold the unit.
  She also feels the buttons have been redesigned "to great effect" and that placing the Prev/Next buttons on both sides makes it convenient for both left- and right-handed readers.

  I'm surprised that the slimmer buttons for page-turning are now depressed AWAY from the screen, which she prefers, and she doesn't seem to have experienced the old inadvertent page turns, calling it "a vastly superior experience."

  She finds the keyboard buttons easier to type on than the Kindle 2's.

  The reorganization of the navigation buttons was easy for her to adapt to, "and certainly better than the comparatively stiff joystick" though further time with this when she gets her shipping unit will give her a better idea, she says.

 The navigation is "noticeably faster" as she was able to "breezily scroll through menu items with practically no lag" (I look forward to THAT) -- and she mentions the Kobo is "interminably slow" so that must be really bad.)

  She didn't realize the Kindle 2 line-spacing could be changed by pressing the alt-shift and number keys to decrease or increase the spacing between lines (it's not well-documented) and appreciates the explicit line spacing options given with the text-key ["Aa"] as well as the 3 typeface choices (something I never cared about but I do hate the special fonts some publishers use along with too much line spacing in some "Topaz" editions -- am thinking of books on the "LOST" tv series).

 The Webkit-based Web browser "provides a better experience than before."
I should hope!  And that is still a cautious statement.

  The improved battery performance is, Amazon told her, achieved through software.  It's quite an improvement in the numbers given, but I'd like to know how much battery life is used by the the night-light in the special Amazon cover.

She sums it up with
' In my limited hands-on time with the new Kindle, this gadget made an unusually quick, and positive, impression.  While I need to spend more time with it to vet my initial impressions, the new Kindle's solid build quality, improved design, integrated store, and cross-platform transportability (books are usable on any Kindle reader app, including iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, and PC) all add up to a winner poised to top the pack. '

Apologies for not remembering to LINK the report late last night. There is considerably more by Melissa Perenson in her report that I didn't include.
Be sure to read the full hands-on review.

Photos of the new Kindle by Pocket-Lint, article by Stuart Miles

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Two new Kindles due, one w/ WiFi only - also 2 UK-localized ones! UPDATE8

  Free 3G/WiFi - $189
    (White and Graphite)
   and WiFi-only - $139  (Graphite)

  (UK-only: Free 3G/Wifi - £149
   and WiFi Only - £109)

See also the later Unsung Features of the new Kindles.

Engadget, Bloomberg Businessweek, and many others announced news from a conference with Bezos the other day. Each news story has its own particulars from the story and I'll update this later with more details but give links for reading right now. Not due until August 27 but pre-orders are being taken, at the Kindle pages, some say, starting late tonight, others say starting tomorrow.

There'll be two new Kindles announced tomorrow, both smaller and slimmer. The WiFi only will be $139 and the replacement for Kindle 2 will be $189. They'll come in both Graphite and White.

Also check out the VIDEO on Engadget's page as well (and as usual there are many other pictures).

That's Engadget's header photo at the left:

Notice the SYM key is used for NUMBERS now. The symbols box will stay open while we type.
There's also an invisible combo-key method. See Numbers below.

Amazon opens UK store! on Aug. 27
' The new handheld -- slated to be released on August 27th -- is 21 percent smaller and 15 percent lighter than the previous model, has a 20 percent faster refresh rate on its E Ink (yep, still E Ink) screen, and will now come in two colors (graphite, like its big brother the DX, and the original white).  In addition to the color changes, there will be two radio configurations available: a $139 WiFi only version, and a $189 WiFi/3G version (utilizing AT&T's network, just like the last model).  The screen will remain the same 6-inch size as the last two Kindles, though the company claims page turns are faster and contrast is improved. The internal storage on the device has been cranked to 4GB, and the battery life is now rated at a month with no wireless, and 10 days with wireless switched on.

The company also announced plans for a UK-localized version at £109 and £149, respectively, as well as a UK e-book store. '

Here's WSJ's story.

From same Engadget story linked above:
' The keyboard and five-way controls have been streamlined and altered slightly.  The rocker is now more compact and flush with the device, and the side buttons have been modified in length to emphasize the forward paddles, while the back buttons have been downsized.

  Software wise, there are some interesting new features, the most notable being the inclusion of an "experimental" Webkit-based browser.

[xabbott explains in Comments area that the older experimental browser used another methodology and that "Webkit on the other hand is what the iPhone, iPad, WebOS, Android, and a few other mobile/desktop browsers use. It's open source as well."

 The somewhat faster speed will be very welcome.  Will Amazon continue to offer 3G web browsing free if so?  Or might there be relatively inexpensive tiered plans.  They'll dominate the market if they can afford to continue to give "free" 3G for lighter, text-mainly use of it.   Read further for Bezos's disinterest in adding video and animation capablities at this point.]

If you're expect[ing] future iterations to go even bolder with their multimedia capabilities, we kindly direct you to some choice quotes by Amazon's Jeff Bezos care of WSJ: "For the vast majority of books, adding video and animation is not going to be helpful.  It is distracting rather than enhancing.  You are not going to improve Hemingway by adding video snippets," adding later, "there are going to be 100 companies making LCD [screen] tablets... why would we want to be 101? I like building a purpose-built reading device. I think that is where we can make a real contribution."

We had a chance to play with the device for a short while during a meeting with the company, and we can report that the Kindle is still very much the reading device you know and love (or hate, depending on your preferences).  The build quality and materials used did seem slightly more polished than the previous version, and we really liked the new, more subtle rocker.  We can also attest to screen refreshes and overall navigation feeling noticeably more responsive and snappy compared with the previous generation.

 Amazon was showing off a jacket accessory which will be made available at launch that includes a small, pull-out light for late-night reading sessions '

Note that besides the Numbers now being under the SYM key box (which will stay up while we type), that both sides will now have a Next/Previous button (the old K2 did not have 'Prev' on the right hand side) and that the HOME button is back where it was with the K1.  I was forever pressing the 'Home' button when wanting 'Prev' because of the DX placement. And that the Menu and Back buttons are now at the bottom again also. I find that less confusing.

UPDATE2 - CNET has a more detailed listing of features
Here is CNet's listing of features:
* 6-inch E-Ink display
* WiFi and 3G ($189), WiFi only ($139)
* 21 percent smaller than previous Kindle
* 15 percent lighter (8.7 ounces)
* Like the new Kindle DX, screen offers 50 percent better contrast
* 20 percent faster page turns, according to Amazon
* 4GB built-in memory [Similar to DX]
* Smaller page-turn buttons that are quieter (clicking noise is nearly silent)
* Up to four weeks of battery life from sealed-in battery (wireless turned off)
* New "experimental" WebKit-based browser (experimental). Amazon says the updated web browser is "faster, easier to navigate, and provides a new 'article mode' feature that simplifies web pages to just the main text-based content for easier reading." [That simplification will be great for Kindle Edition blogs when following links in stories.]
* Expanded text-speech options. New text-to-speech enabled menus allow you to navigate the Kindle without having to read menu options. You can not only listen to books aloud (certain ones, anyway) but content listings on the home screen, item descriptions, and all menu options. [Great for schools now.]
* Amazon says the new Kindle uses an improved built-in PDF reader, with new dictionary lookup, notes and highlights, and support for password protected PDFs. [No word yet on linked Table of Contents]
* No cover included but Amazon will sell two new covers, one of which has a built-in flip-out light for $59.99.

 See what else CNet has to say in its story after a brief time with the new Kindles.

UPDATE2 - Amazon adds details on features - from various pages.
Here are the ones not mentioned at length yet and maybe of interest to the detail-oriented:
'  . New Proprietary Screen Technology--Faster Page Turns, New and Improved Fonts:
  Kindle's all-new, high-contrast electronic ink display is further optimized with Amazon's proprietary waveform and font technology to make pages turn faster and fonts sharper. Waveform is a series of electronic pulses that move black and white electronic ink particles to achieve a final gray level for an image or text. Amazon tuned the new Kindle's waveform and controller mechanism to make page turning 20 percent faster.  In addition, this waveform tuning combined with new hand-built, custom fonts and font-hinting make words and letters more crisp, clear, and natural-looking.  Font hints are instructions, written as code, that control points on a font character's line and improve legibility at small font sizes where few pixels are available.  Hinting is a mix of aesthetic judgments and complicated technical strategies.  Amazon designed its proprietary font-hinting to optimize specifically for the special characteristics of electronic ink.

  . Up To One Month of Battery Life: The new Kindle has up to one month of battery life with wireless off. Keep wireless on and your Kindle will have battery life of up to 10 days. [The WiFi-Only model has somewhat shorter battery life.]

  . Free 3G Wireless: Kindle offers free 3G wireless, which means no annual contracts and no monthly fees.
    [I included this because they stress the 'free' and it's part of their marketing which they'll need to stand behind.]

  . New Built-in WiFi: [on both models].  Amazon is offering Kindle customers free Wi-Fi access at AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots across the U.S. for shopping and downloading Kindle content -- no AT&T registration, sign-in, or password required.

    [Can AT&T handle dependably all the new Apple and Amazon customers?  Will AT&T clamp down on 'Unlimited' as they did with Apple? - Probably not, as there'll be no video-taxing of their broadband by Amazon customers.]

  . Low Book Prices: Over 510,000 of the 630,000 books in the Kindle Store are $9.99 or less, including 80 New York Times Best Sellers. [Approximately 20,000 are free.]

  . Improved PDF Reader: The new Kindle uses an improved built-in PDF reader with new dictionary lookup, notes and highlights, and support for password protected PDFs.  [Search routine will still be the PDF one-at-a-time style, I guess.]

  . New WebKit-based Browser (experimental): The new Kindle uses a new web browser based on the industry-leading open source Web browser engine, WebKit.
 The updated browser is faster, easier to navigate, and provides a new "article mode" feature that simplifies web pages to just the main text-based content for easier reading.  Web browsing with Kindle over 3G or Wi-Fi is free.

  . New Voice Guide: With Text-to-Speech, Kindle can read out loud to you.  New Text-to-Speech enabled menus allow customers to navigate Kindle without having to read menu options.  In addition to listening to books aloud, users now have the option of listening to content listings on the home screen, item descriptions, and all menu options.

  [Best not to have a thousand+ books active if depending on listening to the Home screen content listings.  But we can use the first character of a title to go direct to a listing of  titles that start with that character.]

  . New Lighted Leather Cover: The all-new Kindle cover features an integrated, retractable reading light that lets you read comfortably anytime, anywhere.  The light is a permanent part of the cover, so it's always with you, and hides away into the cover when not in use.  The high-quality LED light illuminates Kindle's entire paper-like display, adding brightness without adding glare.  Amazon's patent-pending hinge system secures Kindle in place and conducts electricity from Kindle's battery to the reading light, eliminating the need for batteries.

    [That's quite an amazing feature if it works well.]

 The conductive hinges are gold-plated to ensure a reliable electrical connection.  Gold is used because of its ability to make good electrical contact even with low force and for its corrosion resistance.  The Kindle cover is sold separately. '

See User documentation page.
The PDF that you can read right now is at the top, and the .azw file is for your Kindle but can also be read on your Kindle for PC or Kindle for MAC and other apps while deciding or waiting for the new Kindle.

UPDATE4 - More info from the product page, not in PR list of features
  . Kindle now has three font styles to choose from - our standard Caecilia font, a condensed version of Caecilia, and a sans serif option - so you can change your font style along with the font size.

  . Support for New Characters
Kindle can now display Cyrillic (such as Russian), Japanese, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), and Korean characters in addition to Latin and Greek scripts.

    [That's HUGE.]

  . Precise 5-Way Controller [MORE precise, I imagine.]
Kindle has an easy-to-use 5-way controller, enabling precise on-screen navigation for selecting text to highlight or looking up words. No on-screen fingerprints.
    [That's Jeff Bezos explaining his current aversion to using the Touchscreen technology Amazon bought.

I updated a couple of sections above, but it turns out that numbers are now accessible through the SYM key, the selection-box for which will NOW stay up while we're typing, which I imagine is so we can pick several numbers from it.

 As mentioned above, the older method of selection (in which the box closed after choosing a character and the screen totally refreshed) would definitely not have worked, so it will now stay up for further character selections until we close it by pressing the Sym key again.

ALSO, we can still type the ALT-key+number combo if we 'know' where the
number keys are within that first row of alpha letters.  They'll still
function but they're not labeled so you'll have to guess which alpha letter
has which number.  I supposed some will get used to where they are.
The end key is '0' or zero, and '9' is just before, etc.

A commenter asked about the DX Graphite possibly having a WiFi component that could be enabled later.
  I'd forgotten to blog the "teardown" of the DXG that was printed yesterday.  I'll add that info here, for those wondering about WiFi on the new DXG.
Teardown by TechRepublic.  On one picture, the caption for the 3G wireless unit is:
' The Kindle DX (Graphite) uses an AnyDATA DTP-600W HSPA mini PCI-E module for wireless connectivity.  According to AnyDATA documentation the DTP-600W "operates globally on tri-band UMTS 850/1900/2100 wireless networks as well as quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 networks.
  Below the wireless module is a SIM card, which was not present on the original Kindle DX. '

[Updated also] I didn't know what was planned for that SIM card and had not seen anything about a WiFi capability built in for the DX Graphite.  However, much can be done with SIM cards and WiFi today. Check out SIMFi, a SIM Card With Built-In Wi-Fi Hotspot that gives an example of what's coming soon, in general.

  See commenter PRW's explanation for the SIM card, below:

In the comments area, PRW let us know that the K3 User Guide mentions we can also enter numbers by using [probably the Alt-key] and the top row's Q-P as 1-9+0 though they're not labled.  That would be harder for me as I can't find them fast even when labeled on the DX, but it's a good alternative.

  PRW also explains that "the new models use GSM wireless.  Each device in a GSM system requires a unique SIM card to access the cell network, even if only for data."

Also, "Anonymous" found in the manual that the K3 has a microphone (!) and no one seems to have noticed.  (I haven't read very far at all either.)  He points out that "the manual says: "is not currently enabled but is provided for future use"

See later blog entry on detailed Hands-on report by Washington Post's PC World posting and more photos.

These include new features for PDFs, Web-browser, and other items, and I am putting them into a new blog article, Unsung Features, since this one is already too long.  They include setting amount of contrast in a PDF, zooming in to a webpage, setting Device time and other good features.

Well, no surprise maybe.  While I did not order a new DX as I like the one I have, I did pre-order the new 3G/WiFi and chose the same old white color, as it doesn't show dust as easily and it's sunnier and I like less of a boundary visible to me.  It turns out that the WiFi-Only model seems to be available only in Graphite, while the 3G/WiFi one gives us a choice of White or Graphite.

  Am repeating links from the now-distant top of this posting. for convenience.  I could say order early to get into the queue but I imagine there will be plenty of these available :-).

U.S. and International (except UK)
  Free 3G/WiFi - $189  (White/Graphite) and WiFi-only- $139  (Graphite)
    Cover, with light powered by Kindle's battery - $60
    Cover, w/o light - $35

  Free 3G/WiFi - £149.00  (White/Graphite) and WiFi-only- £109.00  (Graphite)
    Cover, with light powered by Kindle's battery - £50
    Cover, w/o light - £30

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Kindle Shortages, China, Larsson goes platinum, iPad Lawsuit, 'Bookless' Library,

Tech news has countless articles on the sudden unavailability of the Kindle 2 International.  The last time Amazon had a shortage, a new model was coming but it was a months-long wait.  Amazon can't afford that in the current competitive climate.  The fact that Amazon has no estimated date for these 6" Kindles to be back in stock has brought a re-focusing on the rumors that a somewhat different 6" Kindle may be coming in August, wihch is only a few days away.

E-Ink Holdings has said they're stepping up production on e-ink screens.  FoxConn, which assembles the Kindles is also having a hard time just keeping up with supply demands for iPads and iPhones.  Apple is a far larger customer for them than Amazon.  And if that's the problem, a real shortage without a newer Kindle filling the sudden lust for small, sunlight-friendly e-readers could leave the market open to B&N and Sony readers.

 Those eager to get the current Kindle Int'l can try a factory-refurbished one, for $170, with a one-year warranty by Amazon and a 30-day full-refund return policy.  These have been given a once-over and are sometimes considered a better buy, but the $20 savings seems paltry.

Global Times, China reports that
' Despite claims by Amazon that its E-book reader, Kindle, has no timetable for entering the Chinese market, its Chinese branch, Joyo is in what is believed to be preparations to launch the device, media reports said Wednesday.

An industry insider disclosed that Joyo has initiated recruitment of distribution managers and personnel via recruitment organizations, which leads industry analysts to believe this is a prelude to launching.  Information on talent-recruitment is available on Joyo's official website. '

Busy, busy.

Too bad he couldn't see the success of his books in the last two years.  His Millennium Trilogy -- "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" -- are now in the top 10 bestselling Kindle books of all time.  Here's an interesting profile of Larsson by The Times (UK).

Computer World's Gregg Keizer reports that Apple was sued last week in an Oakland, California federal court over claims that its iPad easily overheats, then suddenly switches itself off.
' "The iPad does not live up to the reasonable consumer's expectations created by Apple insofar as the iPad overheats so quickly under common weather conditions that it does not function for prolonged use outdoors, or in many other warm conditions," the complaint read.

The three plaintiffs said that they were duped into buying a defective device by Apple's claim that "reading on iPad is just like reading a book." That's not accurate, they alleged in their lawsuit, which also asked a federal judge to grant the case class-action status. "Using the iPad is not 'just like reading a book' at all since books do not close when the reader is enjoying them in the sunlight or in other normal environmental conditions," the complaint stated.... According to the class complaint, the iPad unexpectedly shuts down in warm weather or when it's in direct sunlight...
Reports of iPads overheating are not new. Within hours of its April 3 launch, users complained that the iPad shut down after being in the sun.

"After about 10 minutes in the sun, my iPad overheated!," said Elliot Kroo in an April 3 message on Twitter. Kroo also posted a screenshot of the ensuing warning that read, "iPad needs to cool down before you can use it."

iPad owners have also groused about overheating on Apple's support forum. '

Here's an earlier Kindleworld blog article on the reported problems at the time.  I haven't read much about that happening since, so I was surprised to see this.

The plaintiffs have asked for compensatory and punitive damages, the amounts to be decided at trial.

Stanford's once 80,000 book Engineering Library is moving, keeping only one-eighth of its books, and with the goal of a "state-of-the-art library."

  The Stanford University News reports:
' The revamped library will have a completely electronic reference desk with four Kindle 2 wireless reading devices.

  It will be the first on campus to have a self-checkout and book security system; by this fall, it also will have 15 ebook readers that library patrons may take home like regular books. Librarians will not be staffing a desk to help students and faculty, said Josephine, "but we'll be more available when they need us."  Available, that is, through email, online chatting and Facebook.

[That latter is just too weird for even me.]

An online journal search tool called xSearch will scan 28 online databases, a grant directory and more than 12,000 scientific journals.
What it means is that most Stanford students nowadays don't need to get off their chairs to find the information they need – they can find it on their laptops, or their smartphones, or their iPads.

That means, in turn, a very different role for librarians. So far, Josephine is looking forward to offering more services, more workshops, more one-on-one time with students in a visually stunning set of new spaces.'

Not everyone's enthusiastic, of course, and you can read the article for more details on how this is expected to work.

I had to miss a day, so there is a bit more news than usual included in one entry.

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Monday, July 26, 2010

DRM exemption on Text-to-Speech + Kindle 2 temporarily out of stock.

Ars Technica's Nate Anderson writes that the Library of Congress listens every three years to complaints about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ('DMCA') and has forbidden most attempts to bypass digital locks on such items as DVDs, music, and computer software but has also been able to make some "DRM cracks" legal for three years at a time.

  The Librarian of Congress has made a ruling July 27, 2010, allowing exemptions to Title 17, Section 1201(a)(1) for six classes of works that now

  "...will not be subject to the prohibition against circumventing access controls (17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)) until the conclusion of the next rulemaking." -- which would be in 3 years.

No. 6 affects text-to-speech disabling in e-books and reads:
' (6) Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format. '

Anderson explains:
' Amazon may have clamped down on the feature in response [to publisher demands], but the Library of Congress has now given users the right to crack e-book DRM in order to hear the words.  Exemption number six only applies in cases where there is no alternative; if e-book vendors offer any sort of version that allows screen-reading or text-to-speech, even if the price is significantly higher, people must use that version rather than bypass DRM.

But if there are no commercial alternatives, e-book buyers are at last legally allowed to bypass DRM. '

This is rather huge!  I wrote this week the following to a Random House staffer responsible for distributing Random House PR for newly released or highlighted books:
" I'd like to make a request that they go lighter on allowing people to use the text-to-speech mechanism during times like commutes or dish-washing but especially for those who are visually impaired and for whom these words are even more food than they are for the rest of us.

  The Kindle voice cannot compete with well-read and acted fare such as the Audible books. It's utilitarian.

  I don't like that the disabled have to practically beg and 'prove' themselves worthy of listening to a mechanical voice. "

So, this is a very interesting and welcome development.

UPDATE - This development is being discussed at the Amazon Kindle forums.

UPDATE2 - Wouldn't it behoove Amazon to ENABLE text-to-speech on all Kindle books (despite publisher demands otherwise) rather than have people tinkering with DRM fixes that will now be coming out, which could affect the entire file?

Does this mean something newish might be coming?  (I don't know.)

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Kindle software versions v2.5.3, v2.5.4, v2.5.5, v2.5.6 What are they? UPDATE

UPDATE July 25, 2010 - I've modified the below to include v2.5.6 which started to appear on U.S. Kindle 2's (6") this week.  I saw it on mine yesterday, which had never received even v2.5.4 for Kindle 2 U.S. devices while others saw (this week) first, v2.5.4 coming through for these, and then only 15 minutes or so later, v2.5.6 on these older Sprint models,  No one has noted any obvious changes, and Amazon has not said anything (as usual) about the maintenance update (usually for bugs or better functioning).  The server files are still v2.5.2 for all models.  Amazon is updating small fixes apparently only through Whispernet at this point.
  Original posting was made July 10, at 8:44 pm.


No one outside Amazon knows, I imagine.   But as long as you have Kindle software update v2.5.x (the "x" meaning any number), you can use the new Kindle features such as Collections, Pan & Zoom, Sending of highlighted passages to Facebook and/or Twitter, etc.

The Amazon Kindle software-update files currently on their servers for download are all labeled v.2.5.2 within their long filenames and should be chosen for the Kindle model you have, which is explained there.

See Intro and Guide to Software version v2.5.x for information on:

1. how to tell which software version is on your Kindle
2. how to get the newer files to install the latest update yourself if you want

Normally, new software updates come over the air via Amazon Kindle Whispernet, the cellular or mobile wireless network used by Amazon.  Sprint is used for Kindles that have wireless access only in the U.S. (pre mid-October 2009 for the 6" Kindle and pre-mid-January 2010 for the 9.7" DX model).

  AT&T's network and partners worldwide are used for the International or Global Kindle models that came later.

Lately, the forums have reports of Kindles being up-numbered to v2.5.3 or receiving software versions with higher numbers, such as v2.5.4, v2.5.5 and (as of July 21) v2.5.6

The U.S. Kindle 2  (6" model)
These stayed at v2.5.2 after the general software update until the last week or so.

As of July 3, SOME U.S. Kindle2 owners were receiving, via Whispernet, sofware version update v2.5.4.
  There's no word from Amazon why that is.  The U.S. K2's were apparently not assigned to get v2.5.3 at all, however.  Many of these models were still showing v2.5.2, including my own, until approximately July 21, when many of us received v2.5.4 and then v2.5.6 on the U.S. Kindle 6'.

The Kindle 2  6" Int'l/Global model
These tended to receive software v2.5.3 by Whispernet just a few days or so after v2.5.2 was installed.

The 9.7' DX's (white models, 2nd generation, U.S. AND International)
Most of these seem to get software v2.5.3 eventually.

The new Graphite Kindle DX
These are being delivered with software version 2.5.5 on them.

There is NO word on what the various update numbers mean.  Many have asked why they don't have this or that number on their Kindle, so I'm providing the version numbers that have appeared on various models and these would tend to be "maintenance updates" to adjust something for a particular type of Kindle model or modem.

It would be good if Amazon had a status page letting us know what it all means
But they don't.  For now, I wouldn't worry about these numbers.

If you have not received any version of software update v2.5
  AND you have checked the current software version on your Kindle by pressing MENU button, selecting "Settings" and then checking the version number at the lower right (status line)
  AND if you don't want to install it yourself (it is actually less difficult than many think --
      the steps are shown at the Intro mentioned above)
then do call Kindle Customer Support, who can either force an update through or walk you through the procedure, so you can start using Collections, etc.

  U.S. customers, call 1-866-321-8851
  Outside U.S.A., go to the Kindle Support page, click on the gold button at the right that says "Contact us," choose the TAB that says "Phone" and type in the name of your country and your phone, and Amazon Kindle Support will call you within a short time, sometimes a few minutes.
     Those outside the U.S. can also call 1-206-266-0927 but that would likely mean long distance charges.

The above won't clear up very much but I'm hoping it clears up a little :-)

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Large-publisher reactions to Amazon Kindle Odyssey Editions deal

This is a follow-up on large-publisher unhappiness over the situation with Literary Agent Andrew Wylie and his Kindle Odyssey Editions in partnership with Amazon.  See details in yesterday's article.

Amazon’s Exclusive New Publishing Deal Threatens to Fracture E-book Market

Lauren Indvik, at Mashable  writes (emphases mine):
' The problem is that it’s still unclear — at least to Random House — who has the rights to publish the electronic versions of older titles, whose contracts don’t specify those rights because e-books simply didn’t exist when they were drafted.

 Random House sent a letter to literary agents in December 2009 asserting ownership of those rights, citing clauses in older agreements that allow the company to publish texts “in book form… in any and all editions.”

  Agents and authors were surprised to receive the missive, given the outcome of a lawsuit between Random House and RosettaBooks LLC in 2001. According to the WSJ, Random House tried to prevent the latter from selling the e-book editions of works by William Styron, Robert Parker and Kurt Vonnegurt Jr.; the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in RosettaBooks’s favor, claiming that Random House’s earlier contracts didn’t cover e-books. A federal court of appeals affirmed the decision. '

There's quite a bit more in that article.

From Nikke Finke's Deadline New York
Random House Bullying Agents On E-Books - But Is It Legal?

Mike Fleming writes, re publisher reaction:
' Random House responded with sheer thuggery, blacklisting Wylie in a clear attempt to scare other authors and their reps from trying the same thing.  Other publishers also expressed outrage in different ways, like Macmillan CEO John Sargent, who railed about how Wylie’s exclusive deals excluded other e-devices like the Sony Reader (like Macmillan really cares about anything other than its own fortunes).  What neither of these houses addressed is the $64,000 question:  do they control e-book rights in contracts signed before anyone imagined that e-books might surpass print titles?  Many feel the answer is no. '

Fleming also describes Random House's 2001 "suing for summary judgment to stop an e-book venture called Rosetta Books," which they lost.  More recently Bertelsmann Publishing chairman Marcus Dohl let agents know that Bertelsmann was "determined to to protect its e-book rights, but once again, not mentioning whether it actually controlled them."

A well-connected dealmaker, Fleming says, described their approach this way
' “They say, we have publishing rights to these books, it costs us a fortune to run this place, and e-books are a huge source of revenue.  If we can’t have it all, we’re not working with you.”

I’m told there are two categories of contracts that are causing top publishers to lose sleep at night.  There are deals made before e-books existed, where a standard clause read that “all rights not granted to the publisher” belong to the author.  Many feel Random House would be hard pressed to win that issue in court.  Later contracts are also suspect, despite ambiguous lingo that mentioned things like “microfiche,” but not specifically e-books.'
... up until 2000, publishers just didn’t have electronic rights,” said Trident Media Group chairman Robert Gottlieb. “Between 30-40% of their income comes from back list sales, and between now and 20125 [sic -- should be '2015'], 50-60% of book sales will migrate to e-books.  These publishers will not be able to afford to stay in business if they lose those back lists.

There's a lot more of interest in this article too, so visit both sites for the details.

 Also, the NY Times MediaDecoder blog has more on Wylie's surprised reaction to the Random House threat to not enter into new English-language business agreements with Wylie and his 700+ clients until this issue is 'resolved.'

From BNet
Why Jeff Bezos is Fiddling While Amazon's Share Prices are Falling

  For one thing, the shares made a comeback the same day.  For those who are interested in why Amazon had a bad day (analysts' estimates weren't met even though Amazon again had a very profitable quarter), this is a longish but very clearly-written article on the dynamics involved.

 One point from the several given for why Bezos and others are unfazed:
' Still Growing – There are worse problems to have during a recession than having cash available to invest in expansion.
  Indeed, Amazon continues to evolve from dedicated book e-tailer to virtual general store.  With additional sales of electronics and general merchandise, CFO Tom Szkutak said the company was growing so fast it needed to open 13 new fulfillment centers this year and added around 2,200 employees to the payroll. '

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Amazon Kindle's new "Iconic Books" - Backgrounder + advice to do backups

Amazon announced Thursday that The Wylie Agency is publishing 20 e-books from some of the most influential authors through its new Odyssey Editions imprint, making them available for sale exclusively, for 2 years, in the Kindle Store -- more specifically on the Amazon Odyssey Editions page.

These books are available in electronic or digital form for the first time.

Other titles include Norman Mailer's "The Naked and the Dead," Philip Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint" and Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man."
  The press release emphasizes that you can of course download them and read them everywhere--on your Kindle, Kindle DX, iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, PC, Mac, iPad and Android devices.

Russ Grandinetti, VP of Kindle Content, boldly states that "Our goal with Kindle is to make every book, ever published, in print or out of print, available in less than 60 seconds" (notwithstanding other ideas from Google and Judge Chin's replacement).

Andrew Wylie, President of Odyssey Editions said that "This publishing program is designed to ... help e-book readers build a digital library of classic contemporary literature."

More from Amazon's press release
" The Wylie Agency operates internationally from offices in New York and London.  In business for more than 30 years, it has built a reputation for consistently high standards.  The writers and estates it represents include many of the greatest names in 20th and 21st century literature.  Odyssey Editions is the first digitally native literary imprint launch of its kind.

  Books available in the Kindle Store through Odyssey Editions include modern classics such as Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children," Oliver Sacks' "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat," Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita," John Cheever's "The Stories of John Cheever" and four novels from John Updike's Rabbit series.

  The 20 e-books published by Odyssey Editions carry an elegant and unified new look designed in collaboration with Enhanced Editions (  Features include:

* Newly-designed jackets
* Interior typography adhering to best conventions of book design and reading on Kindle
* Colophon, book covers and series design optimized for the Kindle screen "

And here is the full list:
* "London Fields" by Martin Amis
* "The Adventures of Augie March" by Saul Bellow
* "Ficciones" (Spanish Edition) by Jorge Luis Borges
* "Junky" by William Burroughs
* "The Stories of John Cheever" by John Cheever
* "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison
* "Love Medicine" by Louise Erdrich
* "The Naked and the Dead" by Norman Mailer
* "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov
* "The Enigma of Arrival" by V.S. Naipaul
* "The White Castle" by Orhan Pamuk
* "Portnoy's Complaint" by Philip Roth
* "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie
* "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" by Oliver Sacks
* "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson
* "Rabbit Run" by John Updike
* "Rabbit Redux" by John Updike
* "Rabbit is Rich" by John Updike
* "Rabbit at Rest" by John Updike
* "Brideshead Revisited" by Evelyn Waugh

For more information about these books, visit Amazon's Odyssey books page.  Eleven of these books will be available globally.  The press release doesn't say which ones.

Some Background from the news
 Here's some interesting background from Ben Hoyle's story in The Australian, titled "E-book battle over profits looms between literary agents and publishers."

Hoyle writes that "Britain's Andrew 'the Jackal' Wylie" is "the most feared and powerful of literary agents."

Random House has already questioned the legality of the operation, and one author has predicted "the implosion of the whole publishing model."  Hoyle continues:
' Mr Wylie earned his nickname by poaching authors from rival agencies over 30 years, building up a list that includes Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and Philip Roth.

  Now, having failed to agree with publishers [on] the size of cut they should take from the digital sales of his authors' work, Mr Wylie has decided to cut them out altogether.

  Odyssey Editions, in an exclusive partnership with Amazon's Kindle store, will publish electronic versions of the books on Mr Wylie's formidable backlist that it believes do not have allocated e-book rights.

  Tom Holland, chairman of the Society of Authors, said the move was “very good for established authors” but could “trigger the implosion of the whole publishing model. This has to be the worry: that big, swinging dick agents will go their own way”.

  Publishers are clinging desperately to their e-book profit margins because they are frightened that the internet will eventually become the primary market and at the moment readers seem unwilling to pay print-book prices for digital versions. '

Be sure to do BACKUPS of these books
Hoyle adds that "His ambitions for the new publishing company are global but he also admits that he is happy to pull the plug on it if it frightens the publishers back to the negotiating table. 'It can be dismantled with the flick of a switch.'"

 This means that they could withdraw the e-books from the Amazon servers during any future negotiations with the publishers.

  Hoyle also mentions that "Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Random House in the US, said it had written to Amazon disputing its rights to sell these titles."

  So, if these books are of interest to you in Kindle format, it's a good time to get them but do back them up to your computer in case you ever accidentally delete them as they might not remain forever on the servers for re-downloading later.

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kindle books outsell hardcovers at Amazon. A Kindle rumor by Bloomberg

Amazon's Kindle books have outsold hardcover books at Amazon during the last quarter, Amazon announced, during a time when most columnists had predicted the iPad would spell the end of the Kindle and Kindle sales, the general press even avidly misrepresenting an Apple sales statistic giving attention only to a wildly incorrect Apple slide-label rather than to what Steve Jobs actually said about Apple's market share of e-book sales.

Insofar as the Kindle itself, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos noted that "The growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189."

The details
  As ECommerceTimes writes:
' For the first half of 2010 it sold three times as many Kindle books as it did in the first half of 2009.  For the full second quarter, it reported sales of 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books sold.  Over the past month, it sold 180 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books. '

The e-book sales increase vs the hardcover book sales increase
  This has happened at a time when the Association of American Publishers reports year-to-date sales up by 21.7 percent.  It's just that e-book sales are increasing at a much faster rate, up 207.4 percent year-to-date.

Free books were not included in the sales figures
  Jeff Bezos was careful to note that free books were not included in the figures given.

  Amazon, as usual, didn't provide specific sales numbers or make comparisons with sales of its paperback books, but ECommerceTimes reports that Bezos did note that Kindle books have been selling for just 33 months, while Amazon has been selling hardcover books for 15 years.

Kindle books readable without a Kindle
  Amazon's foresight in making Kindle books readable on all types of e-reading devices, detailed below (while Apple's iBooks are readable only on Apple devices), was shrewd, and customers using any of these devices haven't missed that.

iPad-audience feature-focus / Readability in sunlight and without reflections
  Not mentioned much is that in surveys most consumers report buying iPads primarily for the web and video features rather than for the e-reading capabilities which are increasingly noted as not good (or even doable) in sunlight and under some heavier office lighting because of both the LCD screen and the glossy surface which offers reflections as an obstacle for many trying to read the text.

Amazon's target audience of enthusiastic readers
  When Apple announced that downloads of iBooks amounted to about 1.5 books for each customer on the average, during the first two weeks, this was a figure that included free books during initial use and was considered quite low in comparison to what the Kindle's "avid readers" report.  Kindle owners buy the device for one reason only -- to read books or newspapers & blogs and are more apt to purchase e-books.

  The free 24/7 3g cellular wireless and experimental Basic Web browser is useful when away from one's wireless networks but the wireless access is mainly text-oriented.

3 Million iPads add Kindlestore exposure
  Obviously, in addition to all the other devices, the sale of iPads increased the availability of Amazon's Kindle store while giving its readers the ability to also buy from other online stores like Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.

Jobs in a changing industry
  ECommerceTimes' report mentioned the concern over loss of jobs in the book industry, mentioning graphic artists who design book covers (which the publishing industry depends on for what is called the "subway effect" -- interest in buying a book from noticing others reading it in public places).

Reasons for popularity e-books
 Factors cited are convenience of accessing e-books, font-size adjustments for eye comfort, and lower prices.

Networkworld also wonders why this has happened and cites portability, accessibility, cross-platform availability (Kindle books can be read now on the PC, the Mac, and the Blackberry, Android, iPhone, ipod, iPad devices) and conservation, explaining the latter this way:
' With e-books, you don't kill any trees, and the world is a greener place.  More importantly for many people--your library won't need its own room (or a separate apartment), and a simple search of your e-reader can locate the title you're looking for in a matter of seconds. '

Brand and quality recognition
  James Brehm, a senior consultant in Frost & Sullivan's information and communication technology practice points out:
' "When people think of a generic e-reader, they think of the Kindle.  The fact is, in the eyes of many people, the Kindle is representative of the e-reader and e-book market" ... a fact that no doubt has fueled Amazon's e-book sales. '

Lead author sales on Kindle
The Los Angeles Times's Carolyn Kellogg also reports Amazon's announcement that authors Charlaine Harris, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, Nora Roberts and Stieg Larsson have each sold more than 500,000 ebooks for the Kindle.
  Christopher Null, a technology writer for Yahoo! News, Technology, writes that of the 1.14 million e-books sold by James Patterson, 867,000 of them were sold for the Kindle platform.

Cost factor
Wired's Dylan F. Tweney cites The New York Times's figure (by Motoko Rich) for the average cover price of $26 for a new hardcover and mentions Amazon's own figures that 510,000 of Amazon's 630,000 titles cost $10 or less.

 And The Washington Times's Mark A. Kellner brings us an even more interesting figure, considering the current price wars over recently elevated e-book pricing by the Big5 using Apple's new 'Agency' model:

  Kellner mentions that the 510,000 Amazon books costing $10 or less include "75 New York Times Best Sellers."  All online e-bookstores must use the same pricing now for the Big5 publishers, but it seems more may be at the lower price now than they were a couple of months ago.

 The savings for those who used to buy hardcovers, even at high bestseller discounts, would be large enough to make the now $189 purchase easily justifiable.

That free 3G wireless
In the past, Amazon didn't stress the free 3G wireless, but in the most recent press releases they tend to emphasize it.  From Monday's press-release:
' 3G wireless with no monthly fees or annual contracts--all at a $189 price. '
While roaming the forums I saw many notes from potential customers newly aware of the 3G and the web-browsing availability in, officially, about 56 countries now and, in reality, available in about 65 (possibly due to the Facebook and Twitter book-passage sharing feature).

  Reviews don't normally mention the feature, even missing that the Kindle's is useable globally - a unique feature.  Many who know the cost of free 3G know the value of it and are spreading the word while others want to know how much it costs and don't seem to believe it when the answer is that there's no added cost for that access to primarily text-based websites.  This is also spurring sales.

Kindle and iPad co-existence for differing needs
The New York Times's Claire Cain Miller notes that
' Some industry analysts say that many people do not consider the iPad to be a reading device the way the Kindle is, and see a need to own both.

  Amazon’s latest sales figures are “clearly an indication that the iPad is complementary to the Kindle, not a replacement,” said Youssef H. Squali, managing director at Jefferies & Company in charge of Internet and new media research. '

As for the still-active Kindle rumor from Bloomberg
Bloomberg reiterates ONE of the Kindle 3 rumors while writing about the ebook sales story.
' To fend off competition from Apple and Sony Corp., which also makes e-readers, this month released a version of its larger Kindle DX with sharper contrast and cut its price by more than $100.

  It plans to introduce an updated version of its smaller Kindle next month with a sharper screen as well, people familiar with the matter said in May. '

This would make sense since the E-Ink makers have said they have made the new higher-contrast screen in smaller versions also.
  Bear in mind that Amazon has a 30-day full refund policy when returned in good shape and in the original box within 30 days of shipping.

In the meantime, the Amazon Kindle forums and the technically focused Mobileread Forums are alive with rave reviews from Kindle 1 and Kindle 2 owners buying the new Graphite DX despite the higher pricing.
  And those will be helping to increase Kindle book sales too, from what I read of people reading into the night or early morning in some cases.

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kindle in the news - July 19, 2010

Farhan Devji at Canadian site Beyond Robson writes that West Van Memorial Library is Canada's first to offer loans of Amazon Kindles.

Cardholders can now borrow up to 50 books at a time, as the library is offering patrons the opportunity to borrow one of the five library Kindles.   Laura Baziuk, writing for The Province reports that Michelle Sproule, community relations librarian, explains that staff brought them in so people could test them out to see if they’d like to invest in one.
' “I look at my luggage, and it’s ridiculous because I’ve got these 20 books that I want to read and I won’t get to all of them, but I’ll lug them around and wreck my back doing it,” she said.

“This would be a nice alternative.” '

The 5 library Kindles hold a range of titles and include general fiction, cookbooks, travel guides and "kids’ books." Authors include Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Connelly, Sophie Kinsella, Road Dahl and Stephanie Meyer.  Other cities, including North Vancouver, are coming on board.  The new Kindles have been on the shelves for a week or so and as of today, all 5 were either 'out' or on hold.

"Reading pleasure returns again"
Reports on the Kindle these days are more often than not positive reactions after 3 months of gadget-news focus on the iPad as e-Ink-reader killer turning to complaints about the inability to read the iPad outdoors in the sun.

  The Yuma Sun publishes a typical reaction these days:
' I have owned my book reader for about a year now and it has allowed me to regain all the pleasures of reading books. In addition, when I reach a point where it is too hard to read, it will read to me in either a male voice or a female voice. '

 Then there was Clayton Morris (FoxNews) with a complete change of heart, saying that the ipad was "virtually impossible" to read in direct sunlight, so his Kindle gets a workout at the "pool, bench, or park."

 And this week Melissa J. Perenson, for PC World and Bloomberg Businessweek, wrote
' What a difference a display can make. All it took was turning on the Amazon Kindle DX (Graphite) second-generation large-format e-reader to see that Amazon's claims of a higher-contrast display than its predecessor were true.

  To fully gauge the impact of Amazon's enhancements to the Kindle DX--including how it performs in sunlight--I'll be spending some quality time with my imagination this weekend, curled up with a Kindle.  In the meantime, if you were holding off on buying the new Graphite version in order to get the skinny on the screen, well, wait no more: On first blush, it's impressive.'

Contortions on the beach
  And while not an article about the Kindle, here's a quite funny article -- "Sunscreen yes, iPad screen no" -- about iPad sunlight readers as pretzel forms at the beach.  It comes from The Financial Times's Tyler Brûlé (UK) via Paul Biba of Teleread (who owns and enjoys an iPad).
' Excerpts: "...have contorted themselves into such bizarre shapes that they look like they’re auditioning for Cirque de Soleil... can now see there are props involved and they’ve changed their positions twice in the past two minutes. The lady is sporting a broad-brimmed visor and has created a shelter with a towel over her head. She also has her knees up; they too are covered with a towel.

  ...The good news for hoteliers, doctors and various practitioners of alternative medicines is that all the twisting and rearranging users need to do in order to read off tablet devices in sun-drenched settings means a boom in spa bookings for 90-minute massage treatments and an autumn’s worth of appointments to see physios, osteopaths and rolfing specialists. '

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bossy GPS voices, Kindle Tom's latest interview, and voice technology

CNN's Why GPS voices are so condescending story today opened with something that always makes me laugh, and I had just typed, the day before in an email, something similar to what CNN's John D. Sutter describes:

"In this tech-saturated world, few things are more annoying than car navigation systems that yell at you for making a wrong turn.

"Re-CALC-ulating," the system says in that condescending robot voice, as if it is offended by having to rethink the route.

"Turn left at ... [sigh] ... recalculating ..."

The article continues with TomTom's CEO Mark Gretton explaining that your GPS unit's job is to give you a string of commands -- "Do this, do that, turn right," and a snippy voice may not help your driving mood.

  Actually, I'm usually just very thankful it's telling me where to go.  Before the barking GPS, I was always getting lost.  Now I'm lost-anxiety free.  If you miss a turn, you know it'll get you to turn around and head where you should.  Most of the time.  I was in a tunnel once, in the left lane, when it suddenly told me to turn left.  They're not flawless, but it could have been GPS-rage for my ignoring it at times.

The article is an interesting one about the difficulty of making voice systems sound more human, outside of the too-human guilt-tripping scold mode.
' These machines face a striking number of technological hurdles in their efforts to sound un-robotic.

Complex speech patterns
The most obvious reason the computers have trouble is that human speech is almost infinitely complex. There are about 40 phonemes -- or basic sounds -- in the English language, but there are seemingly limitless combinations.

To try to get computers on the right track, voice technologists record human actors reading all kinds of wacky sentences, which are designed to elicit as many phoneme combinations as possible.

Computers store all these sentences in a database, chop them into sounds, and then remix them to make any possible combination of words.

The result is intelligible, but it's not quite human.  A super-high-quality computer voice might require 40 hours of voice recordings in order to sound nearly human, said Andy Aaron, a computer speech researcher at IBM.'

 Nuance is the company that provides the Kindle's male voice, Tom, but I don't think the female voice (which sounds more stern to me) has been definitely identified.

Blog articles on Kindle Tom
  Here's the earlier Kindleworld story on Tom (the real guy whose voice is used for the Kindle's computerized pronunciations and inflections) placed on a special page that Kindle-Edition blog subscribers can click on.  Website readers can click here.  For those accessing this on the computer, there is a sample of Tom introducing himself by reading a script I modified from Bufo Calvin's original script for his own Kindle.

  Bufo wrote a blog article on both Kindle Tom AND how to use the Kindle text-to-speech feature, titled You talkin’ to me? TTS 101 for the Kindle.  He describes how he uses this feature, when, and why.

Funny forum-thread on "Tomisms"
  As mentioned in the earlier Kindle-voice article here, there is a fun Amazon Kindle-forum message thread titled "Tomisms" a collection of odd events in the Kindle voice's (mis)reading of various words (some of these are hilarious).

Newer interview with Kindle Tom
  And Kindicted recently did a newer interview of Tom Glynn, the man behind the computerized voice, after he released a non-computerized-voice album of songs (baritone acoustic guitar and vocals) as an mp3-set (#8 "Back Home" is a good sample track) and as a CD-R set made by Amazon on demand (I didn't know they were doing that).

  Part of the interview is on the technical aspects of trying to record varying snippets of words ("diphones") that will work when put together to try to emulate the appropriate inflections and affect of speaking when the computerized interpreter doesn't "know" what's coming up next in the sentence (I think they must have a way of scanning that first, though?).

The 4-part article
  The computerized voice article is Part 1 of 4 parts ("Kindle Text-to-Speech") on the history of the development of text-to-speech, and there's another interview with a principal of the company that created RealSpeak (Lernout & Hauspie, who themselves had bought Berkeley Speech Technologies for whom I coincidentally did some computer-network support), owned now by Nuance.

  Glynn now hears his own voice coming over the loudspeakers of CVS pharmacies or when watching storm bulletins when the National Weather Forecast voice gives alerts.  He also is the phone voice for Bank of America, United, Apple, and CVS.

  He was addicted to his 1st generation Kindle when he found out he was going to be its voice.  It can't be easy to hear people carrying on negatively about the voice sounding robotic though.  Most I know are surprised that it is less computerized sounding than they'd expected relative to some heard on computer software.  Part 1's intro to the interview ends with this:
' As an added bonus, this interview is available in mobi [Kindle] format here.  Simply download the mobi file, transfer it to your Kindle, and play the interview using the default male voice (Tom’s).  In some sense, Tom will be reading the interview aloud using his own voice! '

You can download that from Kindicted's Google-Docs area.

Check often:  Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

College student at home? Amazon Prime free for 1 yr for students

The Amazon Prime program's special offer for college students has been in the news for over a week and I felt it was a good way for Amazon to get college students to spend more money shopping at Amazon for their school and other needs :-)

And of course it is, since anyone with free 2-day shipping at an online store will favor that store for purchases.  A Win-Win, when you know that Prime usually costs the customer $79 a year ($6.58 per month).  At that normal rate, customers will buy more just to justify spending that much for shipping each month (when free supersaver shipping is often available for the ever patient), unless they already easily spend more than that as frequent purchasers who don't like to wait several ground-delivery days for UPS or USPS.

  As most Amazon shoppers know, especially those who feel they can't or won't afford it, Amazon Prime is the special shipping-feature plan that offers free 2-day shipping on most Amazon products or one-day shipping at a much lower rate than usual ($3.99). You are able to include 4 members of your household for that $79/yr as well.

  3rd party seller products often don't qualify for this program but I've been surprised lately to see some larger or more popular third-party stores participate in the Prime program.

Basically the Student Prime features for the free annual-rate offering, are:
Amazon Prime free for one year ($79 value)
  . Unlimited FREE Two-Day Shipping on textbooks and millions of other items
  . No minimum order size
  . Upgrades to One-Day shipping for $3.99/item
E-mail alerts for exclusive deals and promotions
It's free for students - sign up by providing your school and major

The Email alerts are not optional.  The student can say No to that but then they're not eligible for this free version of the program.  Fair enough, I'd say.

To qualify for this, the student must have a mailing address ending in ".edu" and provide a Major when signing up - the wording also says you should be "enrolled" in at least one course at the college.
  The terms agreed to include that further eligibility information may be requested.

College students can of course be current Amazon customers and they just provide the '.edu' email address and identify a Major to become eligible.  The .edu address is for the E-mail alerts for exclusive deals and promotions.

  Now, how Amazon 'sees' you as eligible for prime or not may depend on using that email address for purchases too, unless Amazon links your .edu address to your main email address for log-ins there.

 Here are two good bits of information from their Student FAQ:
' If you're already an Amazon Prime member, you can still sign up for Amazon Student if you are eligible.  After you sign up for Amazon Student, we ll refund you the remaining months left on your current Amazon Prime subscription.

When you sign up for Amazon Student, you'll receive e-mail alerts for discounts and promotions.  If you don't want any more Amazon Student e-mails, you may cancel your Amazon Student membership.
 If you do this, your Amazon Prime benefits will also end when the membership is canceled '

  They have been refunding the remainder of the regular Prime term subscription fee upon confirmation of a student's .edu email address.

  Amazon states the exclusive discounts and promotions will also be made available on the Amazon Student membership page.

What's not entirely clear is whether a student Prime account gets the normal benefit of including four other members of a household in that plan.  The Student FAQ page doesn't exclude this benefit.  All I've found so far is "We sometimes offer certain customers various trial or other promotional memberships, which are subject to these Terms except as otherwise stated in the promotional offers."  That's from the regular Amazon Prime Terms.

The Student Prime Sign-up page does, however, say that students will get the Amazon Prime package as described at their regular Amazon Prime FAQ page, which is directly linked as the package they're offering college students for free (currently).

To make sure you get the Amazon confirmation/certification mail, follow their advice here:
"To prevent's e-mail from going to your spam or junk folder, add to your contacts or safe list."

Reference Pages:
Student Prime signup
Student Prime FAQ
Amazon Student page
Regular Amazon Prime FAQ
Regular Amazon Prime Terms & Conditions
Prime household-sharing instructions.

(For non-college students who might be interested in regular Prime, Amazon states: If you haven't been an Amazon Prime member in the last 13 months, you can sign up for a free trial.

Image Credit: Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!

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