Friday, April 30, 2010

ABC7 /Consumer Report look at 9 readers for bookworm mothers. Collections for Kindle 1 maybe?

Now that things are quieter on the Apple front except for the Gizmodo Lost iPhone prototype story (the latest stories in chron order:  Cnet analysisDaring Fireball's John Gruber look at the lawsDilbert's take; Wired's team finds "finder"and CNet finds helpers) with dramatic night visitations apparently encouraged by Apple, reporters are now writing about the Kindle again, without relating it to the multi-function iPad except to remember that the Kindle is a smaller, less expensive, dedicated e-reader for those who like that kind of thing.

Click on the picture at top left or here to see ABC7's videoclip of their news report in which they discuss what they and Consumer Reports found when teaming up to look at 9 different e-book readers, including the Nook, Kindle, Sony, and iRex readers, in order to make recommendations for Mother's Day.

The accompanying story by Ric Romero at KABC, Los Angeles, notes there's "a lot of misinformation" out there.  That's for sure.

They interviewed some people for the story and said that one person, Kate Lombardi, will be adding fewer books to her shelves, but she's reading more books than ever now that she has a Kindle. "It's made me look at books in a different way, and buy them in a different way, so I'm buying more," said Kate.

They found that while the iPad is backlit and people can continue reading in the dark, it weighs twice as much as most e-book readers.  And they noted that it's not easily readable in bright sunlight.  While it gets points for versatility and doing "most things pretty well,"  they found it "not the best choice just for reading e-books" per Paul Reynolds of Consumer Reports.

Rich Fisco of Consumer Reports, one of several testing the Nook, found the interface problematical in that the bottom LCD screen is "little" and is "all you get for navigating around, picking books, moving though pages, and typing in titles for searches and such."

Yes. ABC7 and Consumer Reports recommended the Kindle, a fact I'm putting in for the Kindle-edition readers as it takes longer to follow links on some image-heavy sites when reading blogs via the Kindle.

Much has been made recently of the idea that the iPad can cause insomnia.  Many of us thought this was almost surely not true.   A researcher at the UCLA Sleep Disorder Center told Eyewitness News that no study or research has been done that proves iPads cause sleeplessness.

At the Amazon Kindle forums, 4greatscotts posted a response said to be from Amazon Customer support to the plea that Kindle-1 users also get some type of organization for their first-generaion devices, though the programming and instructions won't be the same because the cursor cannot go to places on the screen as the later model does, due to a slower screen and navigation through rows instead of individual words or alpha characters.
  Here's the posting by about this (no confirmation from Customer Support Team yet).
'Posted on Apr. 29, 2010 4:55 PM PDT
4greatscotts says:

Here is the response I received from customer service today when I asked if they were going to do an update for K1 owners.

We have heard from many of our Kindle 1st generation customers that you would
like to have a better way to organize your growing Kindle libraries.  We are
currently working on a solution that will allow you to organize your Kindle

At this time we aren't able to provide you the exact time of when this update
will release, but I'd suggest you to continue checking back our website

Thanks for using Kindle!

Best regards,

Prakash T
We're Building Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company '

 See the ongoing Guide to finding Free or Low-Cost Kindle books and Sources
  Check often: Latest free non-classics, shortcut 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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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kindle Software Update v2.5 coming. Nook 'shipments' for Best Buy ramp-up. - UPDATE2

See UPDATED Software Version 2.5 article dated May 14

For earlier Kindle software update v2.5 news, click here to jump to that section.

I see a flood of articles headlining that the Nook seems to have sold more units than the Kindle in March, these lead assessments being an unusual use of the word 'sold' as used in in news articles about sales of ereader-units.

  Normally, the mainstream understanding is that "units sold" means sold to customers rather than the manufacturer-sales to a vendor and its outlets.  It's usually described as a key indicator of interest or anticipated selling activity.

  CNET's Don Reisinger posted a more accurate story on this, and the information in that article is discusssed below the welcome Kindle software-update news here.

Blog entry updated twice with details 4/29/10 - Original posting 4/28/10

The Kindle Chronicle's Len Edgerly pointed me to the good news that Amazon has announced the new Kindle software update that was promised to hit our Kindles before the summer -- a main focus of Kindle owners having been ORGANIZATION of books on the Kindle for some time.

  Update 2.5 is being rolled out to a "limited group of users" in what would normally be termed a "beta" phase for feedback from the beta software users, with a broad release date in late May this year.  It's not an official beta but if the 'broad release date' is late May and some members have reported getting the update already, it leaves time to 'adjust' the software update based on reports from the earliest group.

  Wording on the page indicates the update will not be for the original Kindle 1, no real surprise, as the screen-handling of the cursor navigation for the Kindle Klassic, as it's often called, is "indirect" and uses entirely different software instructions from the "direct" screen cursor access for the current Kindle 6" and Kindle DX.

 Answers to questions we had last night are in the online documentation.
  I've linked to Amazon help pages for each new feature that has one that I can find, as those describe how these new features work.

* Collections: Organize your books and documents into one or more collections.

Sorting Content and Using Collections
Once you have this software (most of us in late May), we would still go up to the top of the HOME screen and navigate the SORT options, which will now include "Collections," which are categories we create.  The set-categories given us before (Personal Docs, etc.) are no longer shown.

The HOME screen will look the same, but when we go up to the SORT options area at the top of the screen, we'll be able to view the Collections we've created.  You can see that the categories or collections are shown along with the number of books or documents in those collections.  The default option will remain "Most Recent First" unless we arrow over to Collections option and click on it.

Collections are created from a Menu option on the Home screen and can be renamed or deleted later (see screen image below).

  A book can be in several collections, but even if it is in only one collection, the deletion of that collection won't affect the book, which will then just show on the Home screen.

  Collections can be be transferred across registered Kindle devices and you'll be able to import collections from your other Kindle devices under the Archived Items page.

  If you re-download a deleted book, it will download to the collection or category it was a part of before.

* PDF Pan and Zoom: Zoom into PDFs and pan around to easily view small print and detailed tables or graphics.

  Zooming on Images and PDF Documents
  That page will show how it's done for books and for PDF documents.

* Password Protection: Password protect your Kindle when you're not using it. 
  Here's the guide.  This feature is Off as a Default and is optional.
    The password is set from the Menu/Settings screen and you provide a hint.
    If you don't remember the password, you'll get a phone number for
    Customer Support who will help you reset it.

* More Fonts and Improved Clarity: Enjoy two new larger font sizes and sharper fonts for an even more comfortable reading experience.

* Facebook and Twitter Posts: Share book passages with friends
    on Facebook and Twitter directly from your Kindle.

  Sharing Highlights and Notes on Facebook and Twitter
  The linked Amazon help page for this (just above) details how this is done.

* Popular Highlights: See what the Kindle community thinks are the most interesting passages in the books you're reading.

  Annotations: Highlights ...
  Part of this feature is already included in our private, password-protected Annotations webpage (we have this page if we left Annotations Backup enabled in the Menu/Settings options).
  Here's an example of what highlights for a book look like on our private annotations webpage (ignoring my own idea of privacy for a moment).

  UPDATE2a - The part that involves our Kindles, "popular highlights are marked with a grey dashed underline in your reading," is one feature that can be turned off by choice (and I think I'd turn it off until I've read the chapter or book because I don't want to be led by what others highlighted while I'm still reading.  I don't read movie reviews in detail for the same reason.  I'd like to read just what the author wrote, without cues from others.  The feature is probably very useful for bookclubs though.

The Collections feature looks especially well thought out.

(Wished-for enhancements that are Not on the list:  Direct editing of PDFs and ability to directly-read non-rights-protected ePub w/o converting them first).

 See my article on the most recent (current) Kindle-update, which is version 2.33 or 2.34, depending on the Kindle unit and updating needs.

The Amazon Customer Service Team mentioned on the official Kindle forum and on Facebook earlier that this update promised before Summer would include a font that is twice the size of the current largest Kindle font.  There'd been some hope that some menu options would be included in text-to-speech by then but I don't see that listed.

WHEN DO MOST OF US GET THE V2.5 UPDATE? (A very few have already received it.)
This update will be slowly rolled out and delivered over Whispernet (Kindle Wireless) with no manual-download option for now.

  What I'd do - I will likely plug in the adapter at night after turning Wireless ON through the Menu system, just in case, but most of us will not get this until mid to late May.  It's *important* also to remember to turn Wireless OFF after you remove the adapter and have downloaded any subscriptions/periodicals that might be coming in.  I'll appreciate the early birds taking care of any bugs before we get it though :-)

UPDATE2b The Comments section here, the email bag, and the forums show that a few more than I'd expected are getting the update already.  Although I left my DX on overnight, with charger in and Wireless ON, I didn't get one and probably won't for awhile, as these things go.

  Reports are that the Collections feature is intuitive, logical and therefore easy to use, and that the PDF zooming and magnification feature is very effective, removing the need to re-scan articles.  From what I've read, the Facebook/Twitter feature comes a little later.

  I've added a paragraph in the 'Share highlights' section also, which mentions the dotted grey underlining for passage highlighted by others.  In a forum, I read that if three or more people highlight overlapping portions of a passage, this will trigger the alert that others have highlighted the passage.


The original story was about the number of Nook units 'shipped' to VENDORS, rather than 'sold' to customers.
  March is the month during which the Nook was being readied for Best Buy stores throughout the U.S., so of course Barnes and Noble is ramping up for the minimum supplies needed for each store, considering the Christmas-season problems with supply at their own store.
  More-sensational headlines will 'sell' additional traffic to a site but they can too-often be misleading, as this one is shown to be.

Amazon's corresponding Kindle arrangement with Target is different in that this is said to be a pilot program that starts in 100+ stores in Florida and in the Headquarters store in Minneapolis, after which, apparently, they'll do a full rollout if Target/Amazon handling of it goes well.  I have visions of the Sony PRS-505 sitting unvisited when I first saw one at Target.

Target is said to have a 90 days refund policy with no re-stocking fees, which would be even better than Amazon's 30-days Full-Refund policy.
  Target is not, at this time, they said, planning a different policy for the Kindle.  More on this later.

  The Barnes and Noble Nook return policy has been 14-days and involves a 10% restocking fee.  Best Buy has not said anything about how it will handle returns on the Nook yet.

With the Nook newly offering web-browsing, see the differences between the wireless capabilities of the Nook and the Kindle, with regard to where or when the feature can be used by each.

See the ongoing Guide to finding Free or Low-Cost Kindle books and Sources
  Check often: Latest free non-classics, shortcut 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!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

E-Readers with Web Browsers, and WiFi vs 3G cellular access

At the right is a photo of my Kindle being used to look up reviews at Costco before any purchasing decisions.

  (You can click on the picture to see the larger image.)

 Now that Spring Design's $360 Alex is out and the Barnes and Noble Nook has been updated to enable web-browsing (I tried it out the other day), it's a good time to review what the differences are between those units' web-access and the Kindle's.

  A good example is from an email sent me two days ago by a woman whose son is in Spain with his Kindle (Int'l version sold since Oct '09) and who had just sent her an email from his Kindle --
" He is riding on a bus in a very rural area between Madrid and their destination city in northern Spain. "
 As a U.S. resident with the International Kindle, his cellular wireless web browsing is enabled also, when travelling abroad, at no added cost (as Amazon's wireless costs in the U.S. are said to be considerably less expensive for the company than is possible in other countries right now, though Jeff Bezos has said he hopes to make web-browsing available globally eventually).
  The speed of access of the Kindle's experimental browser has improved in the last few months.

  I have tips on speeding up the access and a downloadable file with links to mobile-device optimized sites and a guide for that.

Almost two years ago, I was riding in an Airporter going across the San Francisco Bay Bridge and used the older, original Kindle to send an email to someone.  With the shallow keyboard, you will not want to send a long email, but you can send short notes.

  Many gadget sites don't know that this almost-anywhere web-browsing is possible with the Kindle but not for the Nook, Alex, Sonys, Kobo or iPad (although the latter's web access when you're near a WiFi hot spot is a lot more pleasureable and colorful).

  1.  Cellular Wireless access from anywhere - That's 3G cellphone-type access from anywhere you happen to be if there is a cellphone tower nearby (AT&T or Sprint for the Kindle, depending on the model).
  The bookstore can be accessed wherever you are while reading a book.
  For the Kindle, that's true globally as well, and residents of the U.S., Japan, Hong Kong, Mexico have general, unlimited web-browsing enabled, at no additional cost.
  Non-USA residents not in those 4 areas have 24/7 free 3G wireless access to Wikipedia on the Kindle.  The other devices are limited to accessing only their stores with that 3G access for downloading.

  The Kindle, Nook, and Sony Daily Edition all use cellular wireless for book-downloads from their bookstores and at no added cost to the user.  Book downloads are doable essentially anywhere.

  That is not doable with the Alex, the Kobo, most Sonys or the current WiFi-only iPad.  I've read that many current iPad owners are trading up to the later 3G model due in May.

  The $629 iPad coming out officially on May 7 will use 3G and that will also require an additional $15-$30 for any month that this type of access is used on the iPad.

 The Alex will not have this type of access either, on its first, current model, but it's planned for a later model.

Web-browsing (in addition) using the 3G cellular network access
Only the Kindle has this (in the 4 geographic areas listed above), and it's at no added cost.
I'll indent the next part so that it's clearer as it's about a unique feature.
This particular cellphone-style access to the full web instead of just to the bookstore means you can access Google or ESPN or NY Times, etc. (preferably in their mobile-device versions for speed) almost anywhere you happen to be, whether in a bus, in your dentist's waiting room, in the car (as a passenger or stopped), in any restaurant, etc.

  The portability factor is large with many.
You can also download books directly to the Kindle from a few other online book sites this way, detailed at the free-books page.

  What's unique about the Kindle's access is that if you're sitting, waiting somewhere (almost anywhere in the world) reading a book on the Kindle International, you can begin a highlighting of a word or phrase on the page, finish it with a spacebar and the Kindle copies that word or phrase into the search bar -- and then you can press the 5-way navigation button to the right until you see and click on "Wiki," which will take you to the Wikipedia pages that match the search phrase (your Wireless feature would have to be turned On of course).

 When finished, press the Back button, and you're back where you started on the page in the book.  The Wikipedia feature works for any Kindle International model, globally, with wireless access available in their area (most).

  2.  WiFi wireless access - This works when you are set up to use a WiFi network that is in your home, your office, or in certain hotspots you might find such as Starbucks or McDonald's.  You'll normally need to do a special connection to the network the first time, and if it has the minimal security recommended, you'd need the private code for it.  Sometimes it requires a log-on screen.
  Barnes and Noble Nook users would be able to use it at that store.

 This is the type used by the current iPad, and Alex. (Turns out the Kobo uses only either bluetooth or the simple USB cable method to get e-books onto it._

 The cellular-wireless iPad ($130 extra, or $629 total) will be ready late April for those who pre-ordered it, and the official release is May 7.  As mentioned, there are web-access fees ($15-$30) charged for any month you use that type of wireless for an iPad.  AT&T will provide the web-access.

  SPECIAL NOTE:  Apple has identified a WiFi problem in some iPads and they readily replace the iPad when you contact them.

  WiFi networks, although limiting you to local areas, are faster, generally, than cellular networks, for web-browsing.

NOOK web-browser upgrade
When I was at Barnes and Noble, a very helpful customer support person named Amanda (El Cerrito, Ca) took me through quite a bit of it.

  The Nook's newly enabled web-browser, although limited in where you can use it, uses the bottom LCD panel to 'Goto' the web.  When you get a webpage, the slice of it that you can see in that small window is in color, and when I tried a photo site, it was really pleasing to see that, even if you can see only maybe a 5th of the photo since part of the lower screen is still used for other things.

  The one thing that was somewhat problematical was that when I was on a webpage and wanted to go to another one and called up the GoTo or Location box and started typing the URL, the Nook's e-Ink screen above would flash and refresh after each and every keypress.  That was disorienting.  I spent only 20 minutes on it, but maybe there's a way to avoid it, or they'll fix that with the next update.

  If I'd never used a Kindle and known about its ability to use the web browser anywhere, I still probably would have bought it on the spot.  I saw it on the first day, so everyone was very 'up' about it and I enjoyed getting webpages on it.  The Nook is a great looking reader but, as a Kindle user, I still find it has too many menu steps and I don't enjoy controlling the top with the bottom controls on a separate screen, as it makes me feel as if I'm operating a remote control with accompanying mini-delays.  Nook owners have no problem with that though.

  My 2nd choice now would be the Nook, unless they improve the Alex, which has a full screen at the bottom, but it's $100 more expensive than either the Nook or the Kindle.

  I'll probably update this and will eventually do a a blog entry comparing the various features of the dedicated e-readers mentioned.  By then, there'll probably be another dozen e-readers out.

  And now, other tablets competing with the Apple iPad are also gearing up for release, while the iPad is often out of stock at stores.  Amazon marketplace stores have new iPads at elevated prices for those who don't want to wait, but I'd check the quality ratings and number of ratings for the stores.

See the ongoing Guide to finding Free or Low-Cost Kindle books and Sources
  Check often: Latest free non-classics, shortcut 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, April 25, 2010

Latest temporarily free Kindle books - Two from HarperCollins

Remember that at the end of most recent posts here you'll see a reminder like the one just below, so you won't have to wait for a blog entry to see the latest free nonclassics.  You can check for yourself at any time:

"See the ongoing Guide to finding Free or Low-Cost Kindle books and Sources
  Check often: Latest free non-classics, shortcut
  You can also check Free late-listed non-classics , shortcut"

Today checking the links above, you'll find two newcomers from HarperCollins (one of the Big5), both of which are free temporarily as promos.  If interested, get them while they're free.

 There are other new ones out of the 60 or so that are available at any given time, and rather than seeming to recommend any, I offer the two prepared links above that show a filtered small grouping (omits the hundreds of Excerpts) and you can see if any of the usual temporarily free offerings are of interest.
  The new free promos for HarperCollins books are unusual and usually gone within a day or two after the release date.

Product Details
The Scent of Shadows Free with Bonus Material by Vicki Pettersson (Kindle Edition - May 11, 2010)
  $0.00  Available for Pre-order. This item will be released on May 11, 2010.

Product Details
Dragon Keeper Free Edition with Bonus Material
by Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm by Vicki Pettersson (Kindle Edition - April 27, 2010)
  $0.00  Available for Pre-order. This item is released eff. April 27, 2010. 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!

Follow-up to New Yorker article on price wars - The Live Chat

This is a follow-up to the earlier blog entry about The New Yorker piece by Ken Auletta on the grand e-book pricing battles involving the Big 5 publishers,Apple, and Amazon and their strategies.
 In his The New Yorker Q&A, Auletta let us know he did not realize, when writing the article, that Apple is also bypassing publishers to work with some authors directly.

Ken Auletta had the scheduled “Ask the Author” live chat with The New Yorker readers on April 19, and the Q&A transcript gives some context indicating a bit of his own perspective on all this as well.

One thing I’d forgotten to include earlier was one interesting piece of sleuthing from the March 18 New York Times article by Motoko Rich (lead) and Brad Stone, which I've quoted from quite a bit, noting the article's word choices when reporting information straight from publisher reps who were in the middle of negotations and conveying to The New York Times their unhappiness with what they called Amazon’s “threats” to them.

  It was brought back to mind when I read Auletta’s interesting live-chat responses, one indicating he may not have seen that NYT article when he replied that
' I don’t believe that Apple is offering self-publishing services aside from people submitting apps. '

That's actually fairly important, as the thrust of the last part of The New Yorker article is how Amazon is offering authors a high royalty which "one irate publisher said,"
' was meant “to pit authors against publishers.” '

I went back to Rich’s article, remembering what she wrote about a job position that Apple had posted, noting that
' Apple is not likely to give up on smaller publishers.  A new job posting on its Web site is for an “independent publisher account manager, iBookstore.”
  The posting says the person would be “responsible for building and growing relationships with small- and medium-size book publishers, self-published authors and other content providers for the iBookstore.” '
The mention of “self-published authors” in the job posting was of course interesting, I'd thought at the time.  They were entering that arena too.  Neither Bezos nor Jobs is shy about expansion, to say the least.  Also, Barnes and Noble publishes its own hard-copy books.

  Notice that the publishers are not complaining, in this article, about Steve Jobs' interest in going straight to authors.  The quotes from publishers and "Apple insiders" about Amazon sound almost frenetic.

  For one thing I'd been surprised to see Auletta (whose historical detail is very thorough) focus on the anger toward only Amazon -- "a close associate of Bezos" was reported to have "put it more starkly," Auletta tells us.
' "What Amazon really wanted to do was make the price of e-books so low that people would no longer buy hardcover books.  Then the next shoe to drop would be to cut publishers out and go right to authors.” '
  Publisher Tim O'Reilly characterized Amazon alone of the battling groups as "ruthless" saying that
'publishers have good reason to be anxious. “Amazon is a particularly farsighted, powerful, and ruthless competitor” he says. I don’t think we’ve seen a business this competitive in the tech space since Microsoft.” '
  The one dastardly corporate entity in the publishing arena!

  Apple's Steve Jobs, who had never sold a book, comes into the biz and tells all the large publishers he'd like to give them the higher pricing he recommended they charge (sourced in earlier stories here) but that if they wanted to publish with him, they must use his Agency model's structure and pricing for all the other bookstores, getting rid of the decades-old bookseller-wholesaler pricing that allowed bookstores to sell books lower than the publisher-set List Price if it helped drive sales in a competitive business.

  In effect, as others have noted, Jobs was successful in immediately killing the long-time bookstore model as applied to online e-books, especially Amazon's, that made lower prices on most new books possible for e-book-buying consumers, a selling point for the Kindle.  Barnes and Noble e-book pricing, with brick and mortar stores an emphasis, was not as competitive.

  However, as is mentioned often in the news, Steve Jobs and the iPad together are being touted as "savior" to the publishing industry that also prints our news or information.  So we won't be reading such adjectives for Jobs from Auletta's quoted publishers, or from "several literary agents, the latter reporting to Auletta that "a senior Amazon executive asked for suggestions about whom Amazon might hire as an acquisitions editor."

  Publishers and literary agents, watch your back.  You're overfocused on just one book-selling party's interest in going direct to authors.

  Auletta balances publisher anxiety (if not their blackhatting) with matter-of-fact reality from Amazon's Russ Grandinetti, but that isn't likely to soothe publisher nerves.  I don't think reason or history has much to do with it at this point.

  Publishers have TWO strong book- (and hardware) sellers interested in offering authors (primarily those who'd never get a look from large publishing houses) deals for rights to their work.  Of course, if already successful authors are free from contracts or have back-lists of books they own the rights to, Amazon and Apple are just doing what comes naturally in this digital age.

  I don't think, though, that Amazon ever required that all publishers listing books with Amazon use only Amazon's own traditional wholesaler arrangement (which publishers admit gives them more revenue, on the lower-priced e-books, to share with their authors), nor would they have been interested in keeping selling-prices higher and the same at all bookstores.

  The new digital world brings added possibilities, and the large publishing executives need to find ways to maximize their business, including taking advantage of the intense interest in e-book reading.
  They have literally millions of customers wanting to pay them for new e-books, with that audience growing at an exponential rate, but they treat this new market as a negative force only because of fears that e-book sales, if encouraged at lower prices than normally heavily discounted bestselling hardcover books, could "cannibalize" hard-cover sales.  They try to ignore that people who buy expensive e-readers in order to gain portability and convenience, while easing the need for physical storage space, are not going to be rushing out to buy hardcover books.  They'll have plenty of material from which to choose when wanting to read (and even more entertainment to choose from with an iPad or other e-reader-included tablet, the latter market also exploding in the next couple of months).

  They ignore that e-book buyers remember (with the help of licenses that come with digital books) that they are not allowed by the publishers to re-sell or give away the e-books they buy (although with the Nook some publishers will allow one and only one person to borrow a purchased e-book, ever, in the life of that e-book).  Macmillan's John Sargent does not allow Macmillan's e-books to be included in public libraries.

  Hardcover books will just share more selling space with e-books.  Publishers should print as many hardcovers as actually wanted by the market and lower the costs in doing that with a realistic look at the changing audiences.

 They should offer e-books with the book text only and add value-added "enhanced" editions with multimedia features, with background, context, and author interviews, in video or with informational links.

There's no question that Apple's iPad is a much better match for magazines, so there is essentially no competition there vs a device focused mainly on text accompanied by infrequent black and white photos.

  Going back to the topic of aggressive companies (this is not new).   Apple apparently did not want to compete with Amazon's lamented lower pricing so they encouraged the raising of e-book prices nationwide, knowing that the publishers would of course appreciate this and feel supported by Apple, who would give them leverage with Amazon who does want to continue lower pricing, which publishers say "devalues" their books.  Of course, publishers do also fear a "too-powerful" Amazon who they feel might be able to dictate terms as publishers and Apple are doing.  There will always be competition, as we've seen.

 I've already explained how, on a $26 dollar book, under the old wholesaler method, the publishers would have received approximately $13 on a $10-book while the new Agency method gives the publishers only $7.

The NY Times's Rich also wrote in the March 18 column:
' ...Apple, which has effectively said that any publisher that wishes to sell its books on the iPad must offer the same terms to all booksellers.
  In other words, to do business with Apple, publishers must export Apple’s business model to all retailers.  Amazon, by contrast, has not promised to adopt the agency approach for any but the largest publishers. ”
Some interesting responses by Auletta.
' [Yes] Authors would get a higher percentage of royalties by signing directly with Amazon to publish their books. The question is: Would Amazon be able to provide the editing and marketing support that publishers provide? '
Publishers provide this for a tiny percentage of hopeful authors.

  Auletta responds to another questioner:
' What I think midlist or unknown authors would miss if bookstores, particularly independent bookstores, keep shrinking is the word of mouth spread by bookstore salespeople customers know and whose taste they trust.
Yes, though most today read the reviews readily available from several periodicals and they also read the customer reviews on several book sites, from interested readers like themselves.

To a thought from a questioner that "the publishing industry just doens't get it yet" - Auletta replies:
' They’re getting it—probably too slowly. '
(I didn't see indications, in the article, of their getting it.)

To the question "Do you believe that e-books will become popular and accessible enough to make independent bookstores obsolete? If so, what would you estimate the time frame for this?"
'That is my fear, and the fear of many publishers. Independent bookstores are shrinking fast.  As e-book sales continue to grow exponentially, without being able to offer e-books in stores, or if they do offer them to be able to match the lower prices of Amazon or Apple, independent bookstores are menaced. How soon? Too soon.'
So, he does share with the publishers the fear of the success of e-books and its anticipated impact on independent bookstores.

  They are reacting to what they experience as a Volcano of E-books threatening (for some) to cover all with ashes.
  The solution: Preparation, keeping in mind that could actually be, instead, a mountain of opportunities for mining.

 Barnes and Noble is wisely encouraging visits to their store with the Nook's bonus store-features and encouraging discovery of its e-reader by non-store regulars at Best Buy stores.

I liked the advice he gave to a questioner.
'You’d have to be a fool not to worry.  The challenge, however, is not to be immobilized by fears, to think of the digital world as a challenging opportunity. '
I couldn't agree more.

See the ongoing Guide to finding Free or Low-Cost Kindle books and Sources
  Check often: Latest free non-classics, shortcut 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, April 24, 2010

RetroRead's Free Google book conversion service

For some reason the Google RSS-feed reader will not move updated older posts (past 25 days) to the latest date, and so yesterday's update, about RetroRead, added to the Million Free Google books blog article is not showing up on the Google Reader.

Here's a link to it so that google reader users can find it and give it a try.  
It's a new service that will convert a Google Book FOR you and send it to your Kindle if you want (Amazon charges 15 cents per megabyte of a file if Whispernet delivery of a file) OR to the email address you use for correspondence with Amazon (no cost involved). 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, April 21, 2010

Readability of iPads vs E-ink, Stephen King, Amazon Qtr 1, AT&T non-phone rev

ZDNet's Jason Perlow has a report on a rather intense experiment with iPads, Kindles, Sony e-readers under varying light conditions.  They detail days, times and environmental conditions.
 As expected, the Kindle and Sony readers seem to cause less eye-strain during long-form reading under most daytime conditions, and there is no contest outdoors in the sun, where the iPad can barely be read.  However, the iPad is easier on the eyes at night or where there's little light.  It's definitely an interesting read and VERY detailed.

Billy Blockade, the new novella by Stephen King will be published May 25 (hardcover $25 but $10.11 at Amazon) and is surprisingly out in Kindle format in advance, for $$7.99.

  Customers complain that the price is too high for what is essentially a short story, but the Washington Post gives it a good review and writes:
' [Re the narrative voice that King has conjured up for Granny Grantham] Funny, sharply observant and casually profane, it is the voice of a quintessential baseball insider who happens to be a natural raconteur.  Equally important is the lovingly detailed evocation of the game as it was played in 1957, when, with few exceptions, the players were neither celebrities nor millionaires but "working stiffs" who earned, on average, $15,000 a year.  King's descriptions of these tough, hard-bitten men and the hardscrabble contests they engaged in add both a dash of nostalgia and a touch of gritty reality to this dark, absorbing portrait of a vanished era. '
According to Forbes (and other financial websites), Amazon will be announcing some very good numbers, far exceeding last year's numbers.  As for the iPad's effect on Kindle sales, they write:
' Even the iPad isn't necessarily a clear threat to Amazon's profit machine, according to Citi's Mahaney.  He points to a recent comScore study that showed that 14% of respondents said they planned to buy a Kindle.  That's just under the 15% who planned to buy an iPad, and would represent a tripling of the Kindle's user base. '
The Kindle edition features the illustrations from the limited edition hardcover version of the book.

The AP story carried by Boston Herald reports that AT&T suffered a downturn in new contract customers.
  Maybe of interest...Of the 1.9 million wireless subscribers added by AT&T in the first quarter this year, 1.1 million were not using phones.  Instead they were on e-readers, such as Amazon's Kindle, and GPS units.

  The Associated Press report had an illuminating figure in it: "...each device doesn’t yield much revenue: perhaps $3 to $4 per month, compared to $62 per month for the average phone subscriber under contract."

See the ongoing Guide to finding Free or Low-Cost Kindle books and Sources
  Check often: Latest free non-classics, shortcut 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!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Yorker piece on altruistic publishers and devil Bezos

This is an update to the earlier Amazon plays hardball to keep lower pricing option which gives a lot of details with sourcing of statements.

Today, FAIR (a media-watch organization established in 1986) comments on the New Yorker article by Ken Auletta titled "Publish or Perish: Can the iPad topple the Kindle, and Save the book business?"

That title will give a clue to the focus of the New Yorker Magazine's article (or maybe The New Yorker itself, which is sharing the financial plight of other publishing organizations).

"Can they... CAN they? "topple the Kindle" (Keep Hope Alive?) followed by, can they also "save" the book business - the two thoughts in tandem there.  But the idea of toppling another type of device came before the idea of saving the industry (or in connection with it).

  Already, many columnists have pointed out that the iPad and Kindle are two different animals -- one is a dedicated e-reader and the other has a multiple focus with an altogether different technology, dazzling for multimedia, but with an e-book reading display that many feel can fatigue the eyes in the long-form, serial reading area (from direct light to the eyes, not from refresh-rates), not to even mention the variance in Size and Cost.

 But these are factors raised by other authors when writing about the possibility of "toppling" another, altogether different device.

Note also that it's not even "Will they" (a fair question) but "Can they" as if that were a hoped for result.

  Even if the headline was done without thought, word-choices are often good indicators of underlying thoughts.

The New Yorker's Conclusions
I'll get on to's, as usual, informative and to-the-point commentary in a minute, but The New Yorker, as FAIR points out, gives a detailed history of the e-book pricing battles and then goes on to paint the publishers and Apple's Steve Jobs (even pulling in the cancer card of all things -- and as a survivor myself I think that was cheap) as rather saintly in their hopes to save publishing from Bezos.

  Apparently, from Auletta's telling, their main focus is to help authors, which is why they are pricing e-books 30-50% higher.  Well, there does have to be a way to try to justify the much higher pricing, which is causing e-book audiences to write in several device forums that they are not interested, thanks.

  The closing few paragraphs in the article actually quote mainly "Apple insiders" and they're quoted for the ending conclusions.

  As detailed by others and in my own (b)logged history of events ((1) Hardball and (2) Steve Jobs role), this is a rather rich, purple battle between 'ruthless' protagonists on all sides.

 They all want what's best for them (if it also benefits the consumer, that's appreciated by consumers).  That's what's missing from this article.

  But the story uses hearsay (no one named source) to paint only one of the three as "ruthless" while the others are just hoping to help authors and to 'survive.' They are of course victims doing their best.

WILL the Agency plan "save" publishing" ?
Let's ignore that raising prices that much in THIS economy will help no one survive.

  The key is 'selling' a book at all, and the current prices that the publishers and Steve Jobs have decided on will not be helpful.

Pricing Difference Example
  One example of what is going on here (and this is a repeat of the actual $-situation with regard to money going to publishers from which they are then able to pay authors -- although authors have had to take a percentage cut recently from some publishers):
' On a $26 publisher-set-list price book on a book that's currently a NY Times bestseller, the traditional wholesaler arrangement would have meant about $13 (approximately 50%) going to the publisher EVEN when the bookstore/retailer charges only $10 for the book as Amazon did, which treated bestsellers on the NYTimes list as loss-leaders.

As Steve Jobs inserted into his Agency agreements with the Big5 later, he later wanted, after all that, the ability to sell the 'hottest' books (apparently the first 10 of the NYT bestsellers) for only $10 and did get that. In other words, he did want to 'devalue' those (in the publishers' eyes, $10 was a devaluing) and got it.
  All bookstores would want guarantees from the publishers that if they went with Apple's agency plan (70% of bookstore selling price to publishers) other stores would not get the ability to sell lower.

So, now the Big5 publishers, on the $10 e-books, receive $7 with the Agency plan instead of the $13 that Amazon did pay them under the wholesaler arrangement, meaning there was MORE money for the authors from the older non-agency arrangement as they affected the most popular books.

 Control is the issue, of course, and the publishers hope Apple will always give them this, despite remembering history.  The latter needed to get a foothold in the e-books area and this way they did.  Who benefits or loses from this?  Probably consumers and authors.

 Yet the publishers carry on about wanting the authors to get more.

FAIR.Org's Commentary
FAIR's headline is (deservedly so) even more scathing than my words.
"Unlike Amazon, Publishers Understand Authors--and How to Rip Them Off"

  Jim Naureckas recently analyzed the New York Times article about a "threatening" Amazon in his piece NYT Exposes Amazon's Fiendish Plot to Sell Books for Less Money.

  In the current article,'s Naurecka writes:
' Amazon is depicted as controlling and mercenary... [with examples]

  Publishers, on the other hand, are remarkably altruistic: "Publishers' real concern is that the low price of digital books will destroy [brick and morter] bookstores, which are their primary customers," Auletta writes. But they're equally concerned about the well-being of authors '
However, Auletta's piece is, as I said, a nicely-detailed one, but the closing paragraphs, practically written by "Apple insiders," paints Bezos as wanting to destroy publishing altogether and take it all over by himself and Steve Jobs is just wanting a 'win-win' situation, because now he is aware mainly of his 'legacy' and his 'vision.'  However, as magazine negotiation reports have mentioned, publishers are trying to get Jobs to 'win' less now that they're talking details.

Auletta does end, after all that publisher/Jobs image polishing, with the words from a "skeptical literary agent"
' Asked about publishers’ efforts to raise prices, a skeptical literary agent said, “You can try to put on wings and defy gravity, but eventually you will be pulled down.” '
Nicely put, just as long as those are not painted as angel wings.

1. See later follow-up article on Auletta's Live Chat about his New Yorker article.

2. A discussion of the New Yorker Article and the pricing wars, on Stacey Cochran's Book Chatter,
with Fair.Org's Jim Naureckas and Kindle author Bufo Calvin.

Reminder: the ongoing Guide to finding Free or Low-Cost Kindle books and Sources
  Check often: Latest free non-classics, shortcut .) 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, April 19, 2010

Kindle Software Update v2.3.3 and v2.3.4 (maintenance updates)

This is an update to the earlier blog article written when the Amazon Kindle software update v2.3.3 first came out for Kindle 2 and Kindle DX models.
  Update v2.3.4 is one that is done only for Kindle devices that need it, for whatever reasons, and is not being offered in manual-update version.

Software Update Version 2.3.4
 Yesterday, I found out from a Kindle Community forum thread (with specific info from the watchful mom2karen there) that one difference is that the automated and rarely installed v2.3.4 software update identifies the IMSI or International Mobile Subscriber Identity and notes the radio's serial number.  Again, it seems to be needed for few Kindles and the Kindles that get the update tend to be both Kindle DX's and the Kindle 6" Global.  Possibly, it is used only for certain modem types.  Customer Service has told those phoning them that it's not needed for most Kindles.

  When you're due for a software update, they're normally received over Whispernet, which means your wireless would have to be On to get it and your Kindle quietly updates, which you will notice if you're nearby because it reboots when the update is completed.

Checking Which Firmware or Software Version Your Kindle is Using
  You can always see your latest firmware version by pressing the Menu button, clicking on Settings and looking at the bottom status line.

Doing a Manual Update for Version 2.3.3
While these are normally maintenance updates that are done over Whispernet when you have wireless On, I've found that quite a few just never received the v2,3.3 update, though that one was to go to all.  When I alerted a couple of people writing about the Kindle's PDF display because I thought they'd like the wider Landscape-orientation font placement (to the edges), they found that their Kindles had not received the update.  As you can see below, with instructions from Amazon that I link to, the manual update is actually not difficult, and a forum member today said she was surprised to find it was so easy.

  At the time of the v2.3.3 update, I went to look at what the latest was all about, and I saw only that they were saying
" We're sending automatic wireless 2.3 series updates to all eligible devices.  Our most recent version update is 2.3.3.

If you want to start enjoying it now, you can download and install the update manually from the Applying Kindle Software Updates Manually section below.

Automatic Wireless Updates
We send out wireless software updates in batches, so rest assured that you'll receive updates automatically. "
They go on to explain how that works and again give the option to do it yourself, manually.  As many say, it's not difficult - but if you need help, you can ask at the Amazon Community forum where a lot of help is available 24/7 from many other Kindle owners.  Another place you can ask for help and get very good support from Kindle owners is at the Kindleboards forum

You can find the serial number on the back of your Kindle.  If it starts with:
B002... it's a 6" Kindle 2, U.S. version, using Sprint's wireless network
B003, it's an International or Global version of the 6" Kindle 2 version and uses AT&T's wireless network - released October 19, 2009
B004, it's a 9.7" Kindle DX, U.S. version
B005, it's a 9.7" Kindle DX, Global version - released January 6, 2010.
Another way to get the serial number is to have Wireless On, press Menu button, click on Settings and then input the numbers 411

The 4th line of info that then displays at the top will give you your Kindle serial number (just as small as it is on the back of your Kindle, so a magnifying glass may be in order).

The basic or main software version 2.3 and a description of it
The basic version 2.3 firmware update was first explained on their software update page.

The maintenance updates for version 2.3
  The "v2.3.2" and "v2.3.3" updates would be "maintenance" updates or refinements to make the recent main v2.3 update work a bit better, after feedback from customers and what they find themselves.
  They don't give details on that, though I wish they would.  But I'm also glad they're continuing to send updates to people or making them available to us to install ourselves.

What v2.3.3 improved
  After downloading the v2.3.3 file, I noticed that the awake-process takes less time and provides a quicker stop to the spinning activity indicater at the top left.  The Kindle seems more responsive again when starting out and in general.
  Several Kindle owners felt the contrast ratio seemed better.

If you want to get these wirelessly when they're released officially for all, just remember they're done in batches and it can take WEEKS for them to get this on everyone's Kindle.  Reminder: these updates are for the Kindle and Kindle DX (US & Global) models) but not for the Kindle 1, as the v2.3 update did not apply to that model due to the hardware on the Kindle 1 having a slower processer limiting users to indirect access to words on the screen and because it has less internal storage memory.

  If, instead, you do want to do this type of update yourself, manually, by moving a file from Amazon to your Kindle with the USB cable that is part of the basic power cable (except for Australia), follow their quite good instructions on the software-update page.

IMPORTANT - File must be placed above the 'documents' folder, at the top or 'root.'
  It's essentially the the way you'd move a file to your Kindle for reading EXCEPT that you'd put the software-update file ABOVE the "documents" file, at the "root".   If your Kindle is assigned "f:\" on your computer, then you'd put the file right on "f:\" but it can be assigned any drive letter from "e:\" to "i:\" usually.

Amazon also says at the page:
" If you cannot successfully update your Kindle software using the instructions above or encounter any difficulty with your software update, please contact Kindle Support.
The very best, and quickest, way is to PHONE Kindle Customer Support.

  * Inside the United States:   1-866-321-8851
  * Outside the United States: 1-206-266-0927

  Otherwise, click the "Contact Us" button in the right-hand column of the Amazon Kindle software-update page to ask for a callback from Amazon (usually done pretty quickly).

See the ongoing Guide to finding Free or Low-Cost Kindle books and Sources
  Check often: Latest free non-classics, shortcut 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, April 17, 2010

iPad and universities / Kindle and reader motivation

These are a couple of stories today that I found interesting -- the Kindle one a bit more so as it involved increased interest in reading by less-enthusiastic young readers due to interactive functions such as the ability to add notes (something that's not possible with the iPad iBooks software yet), maybe because many young people today are more in tune with electronic gadgets than with printed works.

 People who use computers, of any age, are also automatic Googlers now, to find information, and the search urge is well met by today's e-readers.  But first:

Apple's IPad Rejected By Some Colleges, For Now
From the Wall Street Journal.  In a piece written by Melissa Korn for Dow Jones Newswires, we find that the iPad, has been rejected by George Washington University and Princeton University, because of network stability issues, and Cornell University also says it is seeing connectivity problems with the iPad and is concerned about bandwidth overload.

Aside from thse problems, it's hard to imagine many students being expected to pay $500 and surely more, when they may still need a desktop or laptop computer to check course assignments or email if the device is to be kept off school networks and when educational content available via the iBookstore is going to be even more less than that available from Amazon's far larger collection of Non-public-domain books (which are 50% of Apple's bookstore content -- a very good reason for them to carry apps from the other, larger bookstores).

Korn also reports that George Washington University said last week that its wireless network's security features don't allow the iPad--or iPhone and iPod Touch, for that matter--to connect, and "Princeton has already proactively blocked about 20% of the devices from its network after noticing malfunctions that can affect the entire school's computer system."

  She added that Princeton "devoted a full page on its information-technology Web site to detailing the iPad problems, saying about half the devices are continuing to use a leased IP address "well beyond the time they should."
  Princeton stressed that its problem wasn't a WiFi issue.  (That's interesting.)  She quotes Corne's IT director statement that they are "working to ensure the iPad does not have devastating consequences to our network."

These colleges all say they're trying to find fixes, with Washington U feeling it may take a year to be able to fully support it.

Other school networks are finding no problems.  The enthusiastic Seton Hill, which ordered iPads immediately, says its students will need to pay up to $800/yr in additional technology fees for an expanded wireless network and support system.  They even think students may still need to buy textbooks.

Korn also writes that Princeton pilot-program students were frustrated by the lack of note-taking or highlighting functions on the Kindle, which would mean they had never read the manual, since they have these features.  What the article should have said is that there is no note-taking or highlighting functions for PDFs; however, most textbooks don't come as PDFs.

There's a LOT more in the article for those interested in all this.

Kindle E-reader Motivates Less-enthusiastic Readers
­ reports that in order to help children become better readers, Kansas State University professor Kotta Larson thinks they may "need to spend less time with their noses stuck in books."  That's definitely a different approach.

As an assistant professor of elementary education, she's finding that electronic readers appear to allow children to interact with texts in ways they don't interact with the printed word.

Working with a pair of second-graders since fall 2009 (not a large sample there), Larson has been using the Kindle, which has features that make the text audible (see blog article about the Kindle voice) and which allow students to increase or decrease font size as well as make notes about the book they're reading.

"It's interesting to see the kinds of things these kids have been able to do," Larson said.
' She said sometimes they make comments summarizing the plot, therefore reinforcing their understanding of the book.  Other times they ponder character development, jotting down things like "If I were him, I'd say no way!"

"As a teacher, I know a student understands the book if she's talking to the characters," Larson said.  "If you take a look at those notes, it's like having a glimpse into their brains as they're reading."

She said the ideal outcome would be for teachers to improve reading instruction by tailoring it to each student.  Tests already have shown improvement in the students' perceptions of their own reading ability.  Larson said the next step would be to gather quantitative data on how reading scores are affected. '
She'll present the work April 25-28 at the International Reading Association Conference in Chicago and did make a presentation in December 2009 at the National Reading Conference.  The work will appear in the journal The Reading Teacher this year.

  Now, Larson is working with e-readers for students who have special needs, as "I think that's where we'll really be able to make a big difference."

See the ongoing Guide to finding Free or Low-Cost Kindle books and Sources
  Check often: Latest free non-classics, shortcut
Also, a page of links that confine searches to mid-range priced e-books. 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, April 15, 2010

Consumer Reports on Kindle vs iPad for E-book Reading

Consumer Reports Editor Paul Reynolds looks at how the Apple iPad compares "for e-book reading to the best dedicated e-book readers—notably, the top-selling Amazon Kindle"

Click at the left to watch the youtube video, of course.  Reynolds is joined by Web Editor Paul Eng as they 'take sides' to illustrate the pros and cons of each device.

  Their take, given near the top of the text article itself, is that "the standalone e-book reader isn't dead. The iPad is fine as an e-book device, but advantages in price, portability, and some performance attributes make the Kindle the better e-books choice for most people."

AdvantagePad - They cite:
  . Cooler navigation" of the iPad, and they like the book cover images of course.  They were "wow'd" by the iPad's virtual page turn feature (as is almost everyone) that emulates the look of paper-book page turns and lets you control the speed of the turn. Other pluses:

  . A bright color screen with beautiful rendering of color illustrations, and the backlit LCD screen allows you to read the device in the dark.

  . Easy access to multiple bookstores, including those of its main competitors.
  They add that "One possible reason Apple allowed the competition on: Because iBooks has far fewer titles than Kindle and B&N, at least for now, and they didn't want a limited library to irritate iPad owners."

  And it's been often pointed out that any iBook purchased can be read, at this point, only on the iPad, although the June upgrade to the iPhone will add the iBook app and store.  Kindle books are now readable on and can be synchronized between a number of devices these days, both mobile and desktop.

(An incorrect statement in the text article)
There is one incorrect statement in the text of the article, in that they had thought that "With a Kindle, getting an e-book from anywhere but the Kindle Store into your library involves connecting the device to a computer via USB cord and converting the title to the Kindle format."

  That's not true, as you can get books direct to the Kindle from other stores (at no added wireless cost) and you don't have to convert those to Kindle format, as they are already in the basic format used for the Kindle ('.mobi' or '.prc' formats).

  Details on how that is done can be read at the free-books article section covering direct downloads from other stores.  Direct downloads are available from sites such as Project Gutenberg with its 30,000 free classics,  Feedbooks,  Manybooks,  Fictionwise,  Baen, and other online bookstores.

 (I wrote about this to the Consumer Reports comments area but I don't know if the information will be approved for posting as it may be too detailed because I felt I should name the sites that allow direct downloads to Kindles.)

Advantage Kindle - They cite:
  . The most readable type, describing it as crisper than the iPad's.  Also, they describe the iPad background as having "a blue hue that's a bit harsher on the eyes than the brown-green tinge of the Kindle's."

  . Smaller size and weight.  The screen is described as equal to or approaching the size of pages on many paperbacks and is easily carried in a handbag while the iPad requires a briefcase or a sizeable bag.  that interested me, as it's women who generally carry handbags.

  . A lower price. The Kindle costs $259, "including unlimited 3G access to buy books wherever and whenever you want.  The iPad starts at $499, and a model with 3G access will cost you at least $629, plus monthly (though optional) 3G charges of $15 or $30 to take advantage of that capability."

The bottom line
In fairness to Consumer Reports, see this at their site.  (Let me know if you can't access it unless you're a member, but I think they do have this as a page open to non-members.
  This is a good online magazine subscription to have, as it's easily searchable  (I like it a lot better than trying to find articles in the physical magazine.) 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, April 14, 2010

Alex, Kindle: e-reader web browsers. Apple 'pad' name-grab

E-readers and web-browsing capabilities

The long-awaited Alex is shipping today.  This e-reader has a lot of great features, including web-video in that small window below.  From what I remember, text accessed via the web browser can be transferred to the e-ink screen above to read on the e-ink screen.  I don't know if that will be done with still photos or illustrations; ads haven't shown any.  (The lawsuit Alex makers filed against Barnes and Noble re its somewhat look-alike Nook is still active.)

WiFi Only, No Cellular Wireless
Unfortunately, the Alex, in this iteration, will not have the feature of cellular wireless almost anywhere you happen to be (the way that the Kindle, Nook, and Sony do) for instant downloads of books wherever you are.

Any web-browsing would be done only when you're using a WiFi network -- usually at a home or office network or at (hopefully free) hot spots you find.  Unlike the Nook and Sony, the Alex would let you web to any website, and unlike any of the others it could show video in the 3.5" touchscreen LCD screen even if only with a WiFi network for now.

It's Android-based, so it offers a lot of flexibility for development, with cooperation from the makers and wireless providers (insofar as cellular wireless costs of apps would need to be calculated and paid by the maker or the customer, if the cellular capability which lies dormant in the Alex is offered later).  The Alex will be using the Borders book store and what they call the Alex Market of bookstores with downloads available.

Erroneous information on the Kindle in the review of the Alex
While reading about the Alex at GoodEReader (which has an excellent summary today of Apple's Steve Jobs's attempt to own the word "Pad" !), I saw this odd paragraph, which unfortunately is what many who don't use the Kindle (or who don't use its added features) tend to think, pegging the Kindle as a one-note device):

"The future should bode well for the Alex in the short term due to its Internet Web Browser built into it, something the Kindle and the Nook do not have the ability to do.  Although to be fair, Spring Designs web browser has driven Amazon to make its own internet browser as a firmware update for all Amazon Kindles within the next 6 months, and they have also opened up a SDK for developers to make applications."

Here is what I wrote in response to that clearly erroneous paragraph:
' The Amazon Kindle has had a web browser on it since 2007, and while it has always been slow, it has gotten considerably faster recently.

Moreover, it's cellular wireless and can be used on the streets - no WiFi network or hotspot needed.

And there is no cost for the ongoing access to this web-data. This weekend I found that a movie I wanted to see was no longer there and I needed to find a good movie elsewhere at the right time and not too far from the favorite restaurant with reservations already made.  Found a good movie in a nearby city, googling via my Kindle while in the (stopped) car.

Then when we got there I had time to use the Kindle in the theater, on a bench there, to find the phone number for the restaurant, so I could change the reservations.

The web-browser for Kindle is mainly due for improvements.  It's been an unusual feature of the Kindle from the start.  Internationally, all Kindle owners with wireless in their cities can access Wikipedia for free from their books. '

Coincidentally, I began this blog March 19, 2009 with an article comparing, using photos, the first Kindle (Kindle 1, 2007) with the Kindle 2 that was released in February 2009.   You can click on the Kindle image above-left, and here, to see that photo-comparison article.

There are also photos of the Kindle DX using the web-browsing feature.

  Both Kindles do the web with no website limitations except the extreme slowness of the first Kindle's web access.  As mentioned, the web access, especially for mobile-optimized sites, is considerably faster in the last couple of months.  Last weekend, both searches came up with results and stories right away, but the first page will always load more slowly as the Kindle pre-loads all the pages involved before showing the first page.  The rest of the pages then come in pretty quickly.

  You can begin a google search from the Home listing page by just starting to type the word(s) you want to google.  In my case, last weekend,
    "date night" theater berkeley
and then use the 5-way button to go to the right until you see the word "google" and then click on it.
There are other options in addition to 'Google' in the choices given.

For tips on getting best web-browsing speed (or dropping colors for better contrast in b&w), see Working with the Kindle web browser and also my blog article on Accessing Mobile-device-optimized Websites.
  In the latter article there's a free, downloadable file that acts as a book, with links to many mobile-device optimized sites, including good sets of them, with the full NY Times available in text format under News in one or more of the sets.

See the ongoing Guide to finding Free or Low-Cost Kindle books and Sources
  Check often: Latest Free Nonclassics and Late Listed Free Nonclassics pages
  Also, a page of links that confine searches to mid-range priced e-books for those looking for a larger selection of non-classics below $7. 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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Monday, April 12, 2010

Canada allows Amazon fulfillment warehouse - UPDATE

This will be a "fulfillment centre" and the federal government is allowing Amazon to build the warehouse in return for Amazon's promise to "promote Canadian culture and to hire its first-ever Canadian employees."

UPDATE -  Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Sony have agreed to "Agency" pricing to head off competition from Apple, who set the 'Agency' pricing allowing publishers to charge more.

Per the Winnipeg Free Press earlier:
' Under the Investment Canada Act, foreign investment in book publishing and distribution has been limited to Canadian-controlled joint ventures.

The Canadian Booksellers Association has been vocal in its opposition to the warehouse, arguing it could set a precedent allowing "American Goliaths" to become a commanding presence in Canada.

But called the argument that a foreign owned retailer couldn't be trusted to promote Canadian culture "preposterous."

As part of the deal, Amazon will invest more than $20 million, including $1.5 million for cultural events and awards and for promoting Canadian-authored books abroad.

Amazon's commitment also includes adding Canadian jobs, improving service for Canadian consumers, and increasing the visibility of Canadian and French-language products on its Canadian website.

Paul Misener,'s vice-president for global public policy, said the company believes a local fulfilment centre will enable it to better serve Canadian customers as well as those in other countries who seek out Canadian books and cultural products. '
It'll be nice if they can get publishers to make more books that are available in the U.S., also available in Canada, as that has been a sore point.

Amazon will also "establish dedicated staff to assist Canadian publishers and other suppliers of cultural products and make more Canadian content available on the Kindle e-reader" and is "creating a summer internship program for Canadian university and college students." 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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Free Kindle books (non-classics). See them easily anytime. UPDATE2

UPDATED April 12, 2010 - Original posting April 4, at 10:42 PM
  I added a 2nd method of seeing latest free non-classics (latest free contemporary) but also needed to add that some international Kindle users in Europe, Canada and some other countries are in high wireless-cost areas, so Amazon charges about $2.30 for the otherwise free book, sorry to say.  Amazon hopes to be able to change this someday with low-cost local arrangements.

If you want to always be able to see the latest currently free non-classics Kindle books without waiting for someone to tell you which are free today, do bookmark these two pages:
  (1) the Latest Free Nonclassics page (shortcut and
  (2) the Late-Listed Free Nonclassics page (shortcut, to see the 55 to 65 non-classics or non-public domain books that are free at any particular time (very often only briefly)

 This set, in two views, is the main source for free-book information used for blogs though many will prefer newest ones pointed out daily.  However, you can catch them even earlier this way if you use the link before the new books are reported.  The free non-classics usually last a few days, some less, and some stay on for quite some time.

  While I omit the hundreds of 'excerpts' for the ongoing Amazon contest, be aware that a very few of the new free non-classics displayed on these pages are promoting a "Chapter" or two.  They are clearly marked but can still be missed.

  Although the first group is sorted by 'publication date,' Amazon's publishers will sometimes offer for free -- suddenly and temporarily -- books that were published even a year to 3 years ago.  So latest free ones can be in the middle.
  Often they're so new that they're listed as least-selling of course, so I've added a link for that method also.  Use these links whenever you want to, and you'll see quickly which ones are new though.

  While at the page, you can choose at top right to see them sorted by Bestselling and Average Customer Rating as well.  I've used only one image for this article, as you will quickly see which currently free e-books might be of interest depending on genre and product descriptions there.

The new free books are dominated by the Christian Fiction genre, and some will find those inspiring while others are looking for more general-interest books or for other genres.

The book whose image you see for this blog article is Bite Me, by Parker Blue who is offering the book free as a promo for his more recent book.  Bite Me has 9 customer reviews averaging 4-1/2 stars.  The paperback is listed at $12.78 and the Audible audio version at $13.10.

The book is described as "An edgy book for teens that spans the gap between YA and adult fiction..." and, as with so many bestseller books today, it has a vampire-hunter theme.

[From original posting, unchanged]
There were temporarily-free Kindle books released as free the last couple of days which are currently missing from the Kindlestore lists -- there may have been a glitch that caused the listing of a bunch of HarperCollins free-books that are currently missing.  There are also longer-term free books that are temporarily missing due to the rather huge programming changes needed to convert the store price calculations to Agency for the Big5 publishers and all their many imprints, not easily identifiable usually as under the big tent of the larger publishers.

 So, missing books are likely due to programming changes being made (or errors) in the rush to program store-wide price calculation changes needed by the time of Applestore's opening Saturday to make sure prices are as high as Apple and Big 5 publishers insist they be from now on.

  The big switchover to Apple's Agency plan requires that iBookstore publishers get all other online bookstores to change to the higher-pricing Agency plan for their e-books as a condition for their inclusion in Apple's store.
  In previous blog entries I've noted there will be taxes on these also, as that is based on states where the publisher of the book has a presence.

 The larger publishers have been very pleased to find a new bookstore willing to (and even recommending that publishers) raise prices 30-50% while demanding that other online e-bookstores do as well.

 But that meant that other bookstores like Amazon's and Fictionwise are having to switch to the Agency plan with its higher customer-pricing.
 "Competition" has brought on non-competitive prices that are, coincidentally considerably higher.

 Therefore it's not super likely that HarperCollins, who just made an Agency agreement with Amazon, would be likely to have lots of free books for more than a day or two.  If they do bring those back, as a promo, it'll be a nice surprise, but they disappeared after one day -- and if they're not brought back, then it was entirely a network programming error.   We'll see.

See the ongoing Guide to finding Free or Low-Cost Kindle books and Sources
 There is also a page of links that confine searches to mid-range priced e-books for those looking for a larger selection of non-classics below $7. 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!

Medium-priced Kindle Books - UPDATED

In the Amazon forums, Kindle owners are often interested in books that may be a couple of years older and now 'marked down' and these days they are looking for books not so much at the $9.99 level but in the mid-range price -- no higher than $6 or $7 tops.  We're not living in easy-money times.  But the links below are for times when Kindle users are not looking for $0.00-$1.99 tops, the latter already covered by the Free & Low-Cost Kindle books page.

This category adds prepared links for books in the $2.01 to $6.50 range with the same sorting options used for the free and lower-priced books.
  If you would like these broken down further ($2-$3, $3-$4, $5-$6.50), let me know either here or at andrys1 [at] ... but I don't expect huge interest at this level.  You can already find these mixed in with bestsellers and average customer rating options at Amazon.
 However, this will be very useful for finding bestsellers, highest-rated, or most recently published Kindle books within only this $-range - and somewhat useful for seeing more easily what is included in this price range.

Medium-range Kindle books: Sorted by
  Bestselling,   Highest-Rated,   Newest Publication Date,
  Lowest-Price   High-to-Low price

UPDATE April 12, 2010 - Original posting was March 15, at 2:14 PM
This entry was updated to include only searches for Medium-priced books for those looking for a larger selection of non-classics but hoping to find good books at less than $7.

Ongoing: Latest Free Nonclassics and Late Listed Free Nonclassics pages 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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