Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kindle News: With corrections of some inaccuracies. Kindle for PC updated with Collections. Less-known Kindle features.


FoxNews: Features Amazon should emphasize
FoxNews's Clayton Morris writes, "Things Amazon Should Tell Us About the Kindle," a well-intentioned article with some good points but which has a couple of errors that need correcting.

While pointing out that most people don't know about the 'Collections' feature (folder equivalents that are implemented with 'tags' or labels) or the text-to-speech ('TTS') function by which the Kindle voices (male or female) can read aloud to you from books, subscriptions, or personal documents if you're too busy doing something else, he laments that "Amazon doesn't do a very good job marketing the Kindle as a service as well as a consumer device" and he's found that people are more inclined toward the device once they're made aware of what it can do besides presenting e-books for reading.

  It's true that the computerized voice (taken from the recordings of words by humans -- see the Tom voice for more info on the 'Tom' voice -- cannot replace actor renditions.  The TTS is serviceable though, for short sessions, and not as robotic as most computer voices.

  However, he complains that when he creates Collections on his Kindle, these won't be available to a replacement- or new Kindle.  Actually, they are -- as long as you don't delete the contents of the first Kindle before you replicate the Collection.  The User Guides explain how this is done.

  I wrote the following in Comments to Morris' article, as I couldn't find an email address for him. (Bracketed words are added for the blog.]
' Clayton,
1. Update your Kindle for PC, as it now has Collections.
      [This is included in the latest update, though it is somewhat buggy for a few people but fine for most, per what I see on the forums.]

2. Also, when you get a new Kindle, go to Archived Items folder, which will hold titles of Kindle books you've bought AND you'll see "Add other device collections" - and it'll download your Collection choices.  But first get the books [by clicking on the titles] and then add the Collection from another device and the books will automatically go into the Collections. '

As he points out, the text-to-speech feature is, for him, "a wonderful feature I use regularly during car rides or sleepy train jaunts."  I know people who use it while cooking or exercising.  No competing dedicated e-reader has this.  In fact, no new competing e-Ink reader has a correctly-working web browser and the other e-Ink reader vendors are dropping free 3G even for bookstore downloads, not to mention never offering free 3G access to the rest of the net, albeit slow-access.  To keep things simple, web browsers have not been customized for touchscreen e-Ink eReaders from the basic, optionally embedded Android web browser and they don't work correctly, so they are hidden.

  He focuses on the two features he has found very valuable and doesn't mention that the Kindle can play mp3s (whether audio books or music) as background and that is now a unique feature too because other ebook vendors are simplifying, removing speakers and headphone access.  For more on this see the "Features Comparison" here between the new Nook e-Ink and the current Kindle 3.

  Re Collections: See more on this in the Kindleworld Guide to Making Collections.  It's also good to read Collections: Cautions.

  Re Kindle for PC update v1.6 -- as with the Kindle device version, you have to add or import a Collection from another Kindle device to see the Collections you've made.

Daily Mail (UK)
Daily Mail headlines "New rules for Apple's App store mean Amazon must hand over 30% of profits made through its Kindle app."

  As most readers of this blog know, what Apple would have wanted with 30% of the sale of an e-book was *100%* of Amazon's profits, since Amazon (thanks to the Apple Agency model set up with large publishers) gets 30% of a sale from the Big6 publishers).

  That Apple would actually stake a claim to 100% of the profit is seldom reported.  Now, we don't know if Apple quietly offered Amazon and Barnes & Noble a lower percentage.  At any rate, 30% is all that's ever reported and is the figure from their guidelines for app developers, but that is usually based on subscriptions, for which the publishers would get to keep 70% of a sale rather than the situation with bookstore vendors, who must give 70% to the Big6 publishers, leaving the rival bookstore vendors $0.00.

  There are now many news stories about anger from iPad Kindle-book app users, focused mostly on Apple at this point.  I don't understand why Apple would think this is a good thing for them, the company that began its life with a now-famous Super Bowl ad showing the non-robotic among us hurling a hammer into the screen image of an authoritarian figure-head, "smashing it to bits and releasing a strong breeze and a bright light, while the citizens gape in awe.  A voice-over announces, 'On January 24, Apple Computer will introduce the Macintosh.  And you'll see why 1984 won't be like "1984"'." You can see this at the uriah.com site.

Photo credit: eHow's "How to Edit Kindle Collections with Calibre"

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's)   K3 Special ($114)   K3-3G Special ($139)   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. Another unique and extremely useful feature is the ability to send 3rd party content to Kindle wirelessly. It's rarely mentioned in comparative reviews.

  2. Yes, the idea that Apple should act like the dictator in 1984 is disturbing, even if only on a small scale. But we shouldn't forget that Orwell's other famous political novel, Animal Farm, ends with the pigs having done a deal with the humans to keep the other animals down.

    Perhaps the motto of Apple's store should be: "All ebook readers are equal, but some are more equal than others."

  3. I don't think we should be surprised that Apple is behaving this way - it is the nature of all large companies to care only as much as the market says they have to. For basically every huge company with dominance in one or more markets, we can find a time where they were one of the "little guys" decrying the very same tactics they themselves use today.

    That certainly doesn't justify their behavior, but it's something to remember ... as much as we admire companies refusing to roll over for Apple's pricing schemes, we should remember that, say, Amazon might try the very same thing if they manage to crowd out competing e-readers. (And it's for that reason that I am glad to see competition from the Nook and others.)

  4. I missed some of these when they were posted...

    Tom, yes, I've almost never seen online news-sites reporting on Kindle ever mention the ability to just take web articles or Word Docs and send them to your Kindle for easier reading (sometimes even by 'Tom' :-) )

    Inkling, greed or strangest insecurity, I don't know what it is, but it's really puzzling and disconcerting to see.

    zlionsfan, I agree.

  5. Oops, by 'Tom' (when writing Tom Semple here), I meant the Amazon voice that is recorded by a guy named Tom.


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