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On e-Reader Tech News we track down the latest e-Reader news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great e-reader tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest devices and accessories.

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December 2010
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Color Kindle Contest Winner

A while ago I ran a contest for guessing a name of Color Kindle device when it comes out.

And the prize goes to… Taylor Harris who lives in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, and has been a Kindle owner since March of 2009. He’s a fan of Willa Cather, reads Robert D. Kaplan, and can’t get enough of Louis Meyer’s Jacky Faber series.

His guess was Kindle Hue.

There’s still a chance for everyone who participated to win the grand prize – the Color Kindle itself once it comes out. Stay tuned.

Happy New Year!

Well folks, it’s been a fun and exciting year in terms of eBooks and eReaders. I’m sure that the next year will be even more interesting but for now I’m off to celebrate the New Year for the rest of the day. See you in the new 2011 year!

Cap d’Any – Nit de Cap d’Any
ليلة رأس السنة – ليلة رأس السنة
New Year’s Eve – New Year’s Eve!
Noite de Ano Novo – Noite de Ano Novo!
Nochevieja – Nochevieja
Silvester – Guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!
Oudejaarsavond – Oudejaarsavond!
réveillon du jour de l’an – Joyeux réveillon du jour de l’an !
Новогодишна нощ – Новогодишна нощ!
З надыходзячым новым 2011 годам – З надыходзячым Новым Годам!
Silvestr – Veselý Silvestr!
Nytårsaften – Nytårsaften
vana-aasta õhtu – Head vana aasta lõppu!
Nochevieja – ¡Feliz Nochevieja!
uudenvuodenaatto – Hyvää Uutta Vuotta!
Παραμονή Πρωτοχρονιάς – Παραμονή Πρωτοχρονιάς!
除夕 – 除夕!
Silvestrovo – Novogodišnja noć!
szilveszter – Szilveszter – 2010 utolsó napja
Malam Tahun Baru – Malam Tahun Baru
שנה אזרחית חדשה – ברכות לשנה אזרחית חדשה!
Notte di San Silvestro – Notte di San Silvestro
大晦日 – 大晦日
Жаңы жыл – Келе жаткан жаңы жылыңыздар менен
2011 새해 전날 – 2011년 새해를 기다리며!
Жаңа жыл – Келе жатқан жаңа жылыңызбен!
naujieji metai – Naujųjų metų išvakarės!
Нова Година – Нова Година!
Nyttårsaften – Nyttårsaften!
Bisperas ng bagong taon – Bisperas ng bagong taon
noc sylwestrowa – Sylwester
anul nou – Revelion
Новый Год – С наступающим Новым Годом!
Silvestrovo – Silvestrovo
Silvester – Veselý Silvester!
วันส่งท้ายปีเก่า ๒๕๕๓ – วันส่งท้ายปีเก่า ๒๕๕๓
Yeni yılınız kutlu olsun – Yeni yılınız kutlu olsun
Новий Рік – З Новим Роком!
Trước thềm năm mới – Trước thềm năm mới

Kindle Book Lending is here!

Without much of an announcement, Amazon has rolled out the Kindle feature that many people has been waiting for since it was announced two months ago. Kindle books can now be lent and borrowed for a period of 14 days. The feature is only available for some of the books. Here’s official Amazon help page about eBook loan feature.

At the moment it is not integrated into Kindle device software so you have to visit amazon.com website to loan and borrow books. You can do it either via “Manage Your Kindle” page or by visiting product pages of the books that you’ve already purchased. Either way you will see one of these links.

After clicking on this link, you will be prompted to enter recipient email address, name and a personal message. They will then receive an email with the link to accept book on a loan if they wish.

The whole thing is relatively simple and straightforward. It is up to publishers to enable to disable this feature. Since I didn’t explicitly enable it for my dictionary books and they are available for lending, I guess that it’s enabled by default.

What percentage of books is lendable is hard to say at the moment. I did a quick check of my Kindle library and it roughly seems 50/50. В Typically it’s either free out-of-copyright books that have lending disabled or popular bestsellers like “Lord of the Rings” or Gunslinger series by Stephen King.

To get a feel for how this new feature works, I’m going to loan out all of the lendable books in my collection. If you like anything from the list below, just drop me a comment and I’ll loan you the book. If enough people would get interested, I would set up a book loaning exchange website, where people can list Kindle books they are willing to loan and people who would like to borrow can find them.

Enjoy!

Kno Finally Ships

Remember the Kno?  It was an interesting idea that was taken by many to be an impossible or doomed project many months ago.  The basic idea was that a tablet PC optimized for educational needs and being about the size and weight of a standard undergraduate textbook would go over impressively in the same market where the Kindle failed to make an impression in early tests.  Well, as of 12/21 the thing has actually entered the market!

The major selling points seem to be the focus on textbooks and note taking.  Looking through the initial offerings, there seems to be quite the selection of digital textbooks already and supposedly more deals are on the way.  Particularly interesting for many will be the textbook rental option which will allow students to grab their texts for just a semester at a time for a reduced price.  How many people end up needing their Biology 101 text after their first year anyway, right?  Right along with that, the fact that you can write directly on the screen, allowing the potential for easy margin notation or a virtual notepad will address one of the problems with the Kindle‘s classroom usefulness.  Ease of use on what is among the most important study related activities for many will help.

Beyond that, a lot is riding on the as-yet unrealized potential offered by the app market.  Since the whole system is essentially built on the WebKit browser engine, development should be impressively simple and offer a variety of possibilities.  The initial offerings of book reading, web browsing, and note taking apps will fill most basic needs, but it’s always best to see some development after the devices have seen some time in the wild, so to speak.

On the negatives side, we still have a very narrowly purposed device and a comparatively high price point.  There is no usable USB port, so you’re stuck with the on-screen keyboard or a stylus.  It’s a bit on the heavy side as far as something you’re hoping to do any reading is concerned.  Also, I have to emphasize that based on the specs this is definitely a reading and web browsing device rather than a PC replacement.  It has limited hard drive space, unimpressive speed, and no real expandability.  For full tech specs, click here.

Overall, I like the product though.  As the developers emphasize on the sales site, your investment(whether it be $599 for the single screen 16GB unit or $999 for the dual screen 32GB unit) will pay off over the course of a year or two, assuming the student using it is able to get the majority of their textbooks through the Kno’s text store, which is something you’ve got to hope to be able to do for this to make sense in the first place.

It isn’t going to be for everybody.  This isn’t a Kindle for book reading or an iPad for general use tablet applications.  It’s strictly academic.  That said, we can only hope that it sees some success.  It would certainly be great to have access to something like this that would really allow eBooks to make a splash in the textbook market.

Read Kindle books on Nook Color

Yep, you are reading this right. It’s actually quite easy now to get Kindle books on Nook color and have both eBook stores available to you on a single device. This is possible because Nook Color is more of an entry level Android tablet than a dedicated eReader. As it comes out of the box it just happens to start the Nook application by default and not let users run anything else.

However that can easily be fixed by rooting the device and enabling the Android Market. With Andoid market you can install all kinds of applications, including Kindle, Kobo reader. You would also be able to play Angry Birds and watch Youtube videos. Installing the Kindle application for Android will let you read Amazon Kindle books on your Nook Color device.

The downside however is that as with all hacks, you risk bricking the device and voiding the warranty. You may also lock yourself out of future updates from Barnes and Noble. So it’s a trade off but in my opinion a profitable one.

It took me less than 5 minutes to execute all rooting instructions from NookDevs.com to root the device, enable Android Market, download Kindle for Android and have WhisperSync open the book I was reading on the same place I left it off on my Kindle device.

Here’s what you will need in terms of hardware:

  1. NookColor device with USB cable
  2. microSD card that is larger than 128MB (if you are in a rush and have Amazon Prime, amazon will overnight it to you for additional $3.99)
  3. SD card reader if your computer doesn’t have one.

In terms of software you’ll need:

  • On Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7 32 or 64 bit – Win32DiskImager.exe
  • On Mac or Linux you can get by with tools that ship with the operating system.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Before rooting make sure that you’ve registered the device with B&N as it might not work after rooting.
  2. Download nooter that corresponds to you Nook version. You can check your Nook version by pressing Nook button, selecting “Settings” >> “Device Info” >> “About your NOOKcolor” >> Software version:
    1. for 1.0.0 – GabrialDestruir’s auto nooter 2.12.15 file 15 Dec 2010
    2. for 1.0.1 – GabrialDestruir’s auto nooter 2.12.25 file 25 Dec 2010
  3. Unpack the file
  4. On Windows use Win32DiskImager to write the image to microSD card (please note that all data on the card will be lost). For Linux or Mac, check out NookDevs.com for detailed microSD imaging instructions.
  5. Completely power off NOOKcolor by holding the power button until the screen blurs and “Power off NOOKColor” dialog appears. Select “Power Off” and wait for the device to shut down completely.
    NOOKcolor microSD card slot
  6. Turn device face down and open the microSD card container in the lower right corner. Push the card in with metal contacts facing down.
  7. Connect the device to your computer via USB cable. The device will power up and book from the SD card but the screen will not turn on. This is normal.
  8. After about a minute your computer show detect the new device. This means that the rooting is complete. Your Windows computer will complain about missing drivers. This is normal.
  9. Disconnect the USB cable and remove the card from the reader.
  10. Power cycle it by holding the power button for 20 seconds and then releasing it. The press the power button briefly to power the reader on.
  11. As the reader boots you will see a red splash screen.
  12. Once the reader boots, you will be prompted for you Gmail account (as usually with Android) and some initial settings. This will only happen once.
  13. As you open the extras folder you will see that it now contains Android market icon and some extras (Youtube, Gmail, etc)
    NOOKcolor rooted extras including Kindle
  14. You can now start the market app and download other apps that you like. You will need to reboot the device for apps to appear on the extras page. The apps themselves can be used right away just as with usual Android apps.

After that the sky is the limit.

First thing that I did was to download Kindle application and verify that it works – it did. See – for yourself.

Amazon Kindle on NOOKcolor

Amazon Kindle App on NOOKcolor

While this works, it’s not 100%. Initially I had some problems with apps not downloading via the market app. Reboot fixed that. Kobo app for android logs in and displays the list of books but then all books get stuck in “Waiting for download” state. Kindle app didn’t have such problems.

I also tried Youtube, remote desktop, Gmail and Angry Birds and that worked well.

All-in-all, I’m quite happy with this experiment as it shows once again that Kindle books can cross device boundaries and run even on competing devices. Does it add value to Kindle or NOOKcolor? I think both. If you have Barnes&Noble LCD eReader you can now get books from either store. Kindle opponents meanwhile have one less reason to complain about device-restricting DRM system.

I wanted to do Kindle vs. NOOKcolor review first, but this post turned out more about how these two devices cooperate rather than compete. The comparison review will be posted sometime early next year. I promise.

Unrooting and updating

Some people claim that using NOOKcolor can be “unrooted” by “Settings” >> “Device Info” >> “Erase & Deregister Device” but I haven’t tested it yet. I’m quite happy with my rooted NOOKcolor. Another method is to hold power, nook and Volume+ buttons pressed until you are prompted for device reset.

I’ve tried both methods and both reset the nook but apps were still present on the “extras” screen.

The official 1.0.1 update got installed without problems and after rebooting all rooting extras were completely gone.

I then went ahead to re-rooted the device and installed the Kindle reader apps back.

Tic Tac Toe – Kindle Edition

Tic Tac Toe is one of the earlier games made available for the Kindle and it goes for cheap…just 99 cents.  Tic Tac Toe is in the form of an e-book rather than an application, and Jon Larimer is the author.

Many of you probably know the rules of Tic Tac Toe, also known as Naughts and Crosses,  from playing the game while passing time in class or even on the playground.  The goal is to line up all X’s or O’s vertically, horrizontally or diagonally on a 3 by 3 grid.

The Kindle version includes 16 games that you play against the Kindle.  Jon Larimer, the author of Tic Tac Toe also has a two player version of Tic Tac Toe available.  This one is much more interactive.  The games range from easy to rather difficult, and they alternate who gets to make the first move.

Tic Tac Toe is a great game for the Kindle platform because of its simple graphics and easy navigation.  All you have to do is move the 5-way toggle button to move the pieces.

There aren’t many reviews yet.  But, 2 out of the 3 like the game, and the third thinks it is too easy.  Due to the nature of Tic Tac Toe, it is understandable that it might be too easy for some.

Scott T. Moore “Rocky Top Scott”:

“What is there to say but it’s Tic Tac Toe, and its for your Kindle. Great for children and adults alike. Great for those long road trips when you’re tired of reading “Game Change” on your Kindle and need something more stimulating.”

So, overall, not a bad deal.  A simple, family friendly game for a great price.

Kindle Exceeds Expectations This Year

Early on, analysts were guessing that the Kindle had about 5 million sales in its 2010 future.  Overall, an impressive gain after Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) managed about 2.4 million last year (according to anonymous report since Amazon doesn’t disclose sales figures on this). Current estimates, however, have the projection set at an even more impressive 8 million units by year’s end.  We obviously knew things were going well when we heard in October that the new Kindle, only released in July, was already outselling last year’s fourth quarter Kindle figures by a noticeable amount, but the numbers are even more exceptional than anticipated.

It’s been an interesting year for eReaders in general.  The Kindle‘s chief competition, the Nook, went color(perhaps prematurely, perhaps not, depending on your point of view), the iPad has successfully carved a huge place for itself in the portable computing marketplace and paved the way for an entire Tablet PC industry in the process, and eBooks have become so commonplace that it is actually harder to find something with a screen that you can’t read on than it is to find a way to read your new book.  There was some concern expressed, quite loudly at times, that the stand-alone eReader was a thing of the past with the coming of the tablet PC and the Kindle vs iPad debates.  Some people were convinced that two such devices couldn’t coexist.  This has obviously not panned out, in spite of Apple’s impressive sales figures since the April debut of the iPad.  It seems clear that the demand is only going to grow for some time yet.  As for the Nook Color, time will tell.  It’s certainly a neat addition, even if some see it as less than ideal for its primary purpose, and given how great the Kindle vs Nook competition was as a spur for development in the eReader marketplace, we can hope that it will do at least well enough to stay in the game.

What makes this whole trend even more useful for Amazon is that the Kindle isn’t their only means of distribution.  Even for those who don’t see a use in having something quite so narrowly focussed, you can’t avoid seeing the Kindle App line coming up wherever you need it.  Projections put annual sales of eBooks at 2.8 billion dollars within the next five years, according to analysts.  Right now, it looks like the biggest slice of that is heading through Amazon, whether to Kindle owners or not.  While the format might not be what some people would prefer, Amazon choosing not to support the popular EPUB standard, this makes Kindle Editions one of the safest ways to be certain of your eBook purchasing.  It’s just that little bit of extra reassurance if you know that you never have to worry about losing your files over a hardware crash or wrongly deleted folder, right?

Basically, an all around great year for both the Kindle and the eBook industry in general.  Hopefully projections bear out and we have even more to look forward to in the near future.  Reading’s never been so convenient or accessible.

Kindle Skins

Kindle SkinCuteness overload!

I have been using this adorable giraffe (originally created by Vlad Gerasimov) as my desktop wallpaper for a couple years now. Each time I need to make a presentation, thus exposing my desktop to the strangers’ eyes – I always get a few giggles and compliments towards my choice of desktop image. I was stoked to see this artwork reprinted as as Kindle Skin by DecalGirl.

I can only imagine the amount of compliments one would get for a similar Kindle Skin! Winter time is time to dress up your Kindle. Many more DecalGirl Kindle Skins available for $19.99 – all created by very talented artists.

Kindle SkinIf you do not find anything by DecalGirl that is up to your liking, there are also Kindle Skins available by GelaSkins. GelaSkins’ selection of designs is quite nifty too – the owl charmed my heart away.

I did not notice any major differences in the quality and customers’ reviews between these brands. Except that DecalGirl states on their website that if a customer damages the Kindle Skin, while installing it on their Kindle, then they promise to replace it for free. The customer would only cover the shipping costs. I’m not sure how topical is the issue of damaging Kindle Skins during the installation process, but I have to agree, this is pretty nice of DecalGirl to offer. As for the price, it is only five cents difference – GelaSkins are $19.95.

And in case if you are stern like a samurai – you like the idea of dressing up your Kindle, but cute giraffes and owls with eyes full of tenderness and love-stricken insomnia seem a bit overwhelming, here is a Kindle Skin just for you – plain and black. It is $14.99, by Solid State.

Tolstoy and Kindle

The Elegance of the HedgehogAs I was reading Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog (which I quite enjoyed, by the way), I could not help myself but notice that the author emblematizes intelligence and erudition in one particular author, Leo Tolstoy. I found it a little amusing and curious – in order to demonstrate the concierge’s intellectuality, Barbery keeps mentioning Tolstoy as her favorite author. The hilarious part, of course, is that she names her cat Leo and that is supposedly what highly intelligent people do. Tolstoy, in fact, becomes the reason why the concierge befriends one of the wealthy and highly educated residents, Mr. Ozu. He is also a fan of Tolstoy, and also gives his cats Tolstoy-related names – Kitty and Levin, from Anna Karenina (which by the way, is free in Kindle edition). And do not question his intelligence! Of course, he is a bookworm – he read Tolstoy!

War and PeaceIt is not the first time, when I see Tolstoy’s name being dropped here and there as a symbol of individual’s high education. I do not want to dwell upon the thought, whether I agree or disagree with such choice of symbol for erudition. However, Tolstoy’s novels do look intimidating just by looking at the size of the paperback, and even worse – hardcover books. I remember, when I was reading War and Peace, I think, I developed an unusual group of muscles – right around my wrists, just by holding the heavy tome of War and Peace. Also, snuggling with such book in bed is not as comfortable due to the weight of the volumes. And I’m not even going to begin discussing the pains of carrying such book around and reading it in public transportation or in the office, while you wait for the appointment. I mean, it’s not only that you look hilarious behind a gigantic book – almost like Harry Potter behind an encyclopedia of magic spells. It’s just simply impossible to carry such enormous weight around.

The beauty with Kindle is the readily available collections of Tolstoy’s novels for sale. And, also one would not feel intimidated by the ginormous size of Tolstoy’s books. If you considered reading Tolstoy, went to the bookstore, flipped through the pages and ran away scared of the amount of pages, then seriously consider giving Tolstoy another chance – try reading his works in Kindle. Yes, you can still see how many pages there are. However, the beauty with e-books is that they conceal the intimidating part – the physicality of big volumes. You start reading, get into the plot, and you would not even notice until you are through with the novel. War and Peace around is priceless.

Kindle for Android Magazine Update

There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind at this point that Kindle eBooks are here to stay, right?  I mean, I’m pretty sure we’ve made that point before, so why dwell on it?  Well, think for a minute how many people have traditionally done most of their reading in things besides books.  Obviously magazines and newspapers are an impressively large market to extend the concept into.  Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN), similar to B&N and others, has been making a push to get a hold on this new market.  We’ve recently seen a rather extensive update to the Kindle Magazine marketplace in the form of Kindle for Android compatibility updates.

The Kindle for Android app, in addition to and much like the Kindle device itself , now allows its users to subscribe to over a hundred different periodicals and newspapers through the Amazon site.  The basic format is nice, and pretty well suited to the devices most likely to be displaying these publications.  It is primarily text-based, of course, which works out really well given the small amount of screen real estate you’re dealing with.  Images such as those you’d see on the existing Kindle publications are still included, but now they’re in color.  As is not at all surprising, magazines and color get along well.  Subscriptions come automatically delivered to your device, and you can even sign up for more material through the built-in store right in the app itself.  The implementation isn’t disappointing in the slightest in spite of the transition to a small screen by what has long been a fairly large-format type of publication.

This update could be seen, in many ways, as a response to the recently released Nook Color eReader.  While many reports (and I’ll admit that my own experience supports this and might add slightly to the bias here) indicate that the screen is anywhere from mediocre to horrible for lengthy book reading, the full color screen and quick refresh rate make it perfect for quick reads like magazines, recipe books, and kids books. Since Amazon doesn’t have a similar product on the market right now, they can at least allow for development of their marketplace by capitalizing on the abilities of the many Android based devices that have sprung up left and right since the dawn of the Tablet PC marketplace.  Not a bad idea to be having.

It’s fairly widely perceived to be inevitable that Amazon will eventually come up with a full color eReader display for future Kindle releases, so this will also hopefully go some way toward having a fleshed-out marketplace ready for the new capabilities.  I don’t mean to deride the capabilities of the Kindle device in the slightest, it’s the best for what it does by a fair margin in my opinion, but there’s just something lacking in the magazine presentation on the existing eInk screen.  If you’re an Android user, give it a try.  Amazon offers a fair selection of magazines to grab in free trial to see if this is something you’d be interested in.  Chances are good that you won’t be disappointed.