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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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March 2011
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Warriors of Light: Medallion – Kindle Edition

Warriors of Light: MedallionJohn Whelan-Curtin, the Irish author of the newly released Warriors of Light: Medallion sent me the copy of his e-book to read, and I am currently in the process of reading it on my Kindle.  Very interesting book so far.  Definitely a break from the mainstream.

Warriors of Light is just $2.99 on the Kindle, and based on the summary, it looks like an exciting and fast paced book.

 

At first glimpse of Warriors of Light, I can certainly tell that Whelan-Curtin has a gift for imagery.  When reading, the reader feels like they can visualize the characters and are right there experiencing what the characters are experiencing.

Here is a snippet of Warriors of Light’s summary on Amazon:

“When Aquador’s people, the beast-race Lutrom, are entirely wiped out by the Arbezian Empire he finds himself on a path to revenge. To follow this path Aquador must carve a path of violence through the world, gathering more like himself to his cause. Inevitably Aquador finds that his nemesis is the god of evil himself.”

In this e-book, the world is at stake.  Can you imagine how huge a burden that would put on the shoulders of Aquador and his people?  This is the battle between good and evil.  The book’s intense nature is also reflected in the dark, ominous traits of the characters.

So, feel free to check out Warriors of Light: Medallion on your Kindle, and tell us what you think.  I look forward to reading future writings by this gifted author.

 

Audible Audiobooks for Kindle Goes Wireless

Most everybody has probably at least heard of Audible at this point.  Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) has done a good job of promoting their services both as a general thing and in connection with the Kindle.  Now, to make things even easier for fans of Kindle audio books, users should find themselves able to download their new acquisitions directly over the WiFi connection just like a normal book purchase.  It’s still not available via the 3G, but that should come as little surprise given the size of audio books compared to your average Kindle data transfer.  It doesn’t seem likely Amazon would want to foot the bill for doing that via WhisperNet any time soon, really.

This is a nice change.  While it was hardly a major problem to download and transfer your Audible purchases to the Kindle via the computer, anything that streamlines the process has to be considered an advantage.  Not only does this save users the potential hassle of arranging temporary storage space and such, it means improved mobility for those of us who like the audio book option on occasion.  Not much is more annoying than finding yourself without a book to listen to when you’re not in a position to read but still want to enjoy a book.

For anybody who might be unfamiliar with the Audible service, here’s the gist of how it works.  You can sign up for either a monthly or yearly membership.  Each month or year, you will be charged a set rate and given “credits” as a result.  The basic membership option, for example, will give you one credit every month as your payment is received.  These credits can then be redeemed for the book of your choice.  Not much more to it.  I haven’t run into any interesting books that required more than one credit, but the site does assure users that this is something to be aware of.

If you want to grab Audible books via the Kindle itself, you can link your new Audible account directly to your Amazon account and have all of your existing One-Click Purchasing options simply work.  This is done by signing in through the Audible.com site.  It’s simple.  After you’re linked in, you can head to the Audible section of the Kindle store using your Kindle and look around.  Members can either use their credits at checkout or, if you’re out of them or would rather not use them for whatever option, pay using your usual method.

It’s a bit more expensive per title if you want to purchase these audio books with cash rather than using the credit system, but there are options for multiple credits per month or, as mentioned earlier, a yearly plan that gives you 12 credits all at once and is renewable at any time.  Just in case you get hooked and can listen to more than one or two per month.

At the moment, there are over 50,000 titles available through this service and the basic plan is going for only $7.49 for the first three months.  I recommend giving it a try if you have any interest whatsoever.  The pricing is reasonable and you’ll definitely notice a major difference over the Text-to-Speech option.  There’s even a 30-Day free trial that provides 2 free audio books!

4 More Dictionaries: German, French, Italian and Spanish

You asked and we listened… We are releasing 4 more translation dictionaries for Amazon Kindle:

All dictionaries can be set as Kindle default dictionary, replacing the Oxford dictionary that is installed by default. You can then have words translated by selecting them with 5-way controller. You can use Kindle settings to switch between dictionaries since only one dictionary can be active at any given time. If you need, you can always revert to using the Oxford English dictionary. Please note that iPad/iPhone, Android and other Kindle apps don’t support custom dictionaries such as these.

German-English Kindle DictionaryFrench-English DictionaryItalian-English DictionarySpanish-English Dictionary

If you need to translate from English to another language, you can use one of our previously released dictionaries. See here for complete list.

Nook Color Firmware Update Moves it from Kindle Competitor to iPad Competitor

Recent news regarding the Nook Color‘s new features should go a long way toward illustrating the direction that the mini-tablet is likely to take in the near future.  While many have never viewed it as serious eReader competition for the Kindle, this seemed to be the hope that Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) had for the device.  It seems they’re coming to their senses a bit and realizing the real potential of their affordably priced tablet.

To sum the situation up a bit, a recent offering on the Home Shopping Network let slip certain information about upcoming features for the Nook.  Most notably, it will be the first tablet on the market to include Flash support.  In addition to this, there will finally be support for email, as well as an app store to expand the capabilities of the device.  It seems that a viewer managed to capture the segment and post it on YouTube, which then prompted Barnes & Noble to issue a press release confirming the email, though not yet the Flash.

This definitely seems like a divergence from the previously staunch position that the Nook Color must be seen as a reading device first and foremost.  It makes a lot of sense.  Users seem largely to value the newest Nook incarnation for either its tablet capabilities or its color screen rather than any percieved inherently superior reading performance.  Really, while I’m not a fan of it as an eReader, this should make Barnes & Noble into a major player in the tablet competition.

The press release also emphasizes the importance of the Nook platform’s magazine and children’s book offerings.  Since these are the areas where the color screen really shines, given the shortcomings of a monochrome display for such applications, it definitely makes sense to see the focus turn this way.  I think there’s a lot of future in the marketing of children’s books in particular, things along the lines of NOOK Kids, for the less expensive and versatile tablets on the market today even if they fall short in other areas.  Great for actually getting in the hands of kids.

The effect of these upcoming changes on the Kindle in the end seems destined to be fairly negligible.  There’s a good chance that this will end the direct Kindle vs Nook Color comparisons for many, since it indicates an emphasis on non-book aspects of reading as well as non-reading applications.  That’s something.  Really, though, it feels like this is more an indication of how successful the Kindle has been than anything else.  The rush to a color eReader hasn’t succeeded because it meant a number of compromises that Amazon didn’t make, so they’re moving into a slightly different field.  It could also be that this is meant as a means to get a jump on Amazon in light of the rumors that have been going around about a potential Kindle-related line of tablet PCs.

The software update is supposed to drop in April, by all accounts, so be on the lookout for it.  I believe that this will breathe new life into the Nook Color for existing users as well as bring in a large new audience.

Warrior’s Rise Kindle Edition

Warrior's RiseBased on Amazon’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) description of Warrior’s Rise by LJ DeLeon, it sounds like a fascinating book for the Kindle.  As a former member of the CIA, DeLeon has much more experience on a personal level with panorama and fantasy events than most.  Such experience adds deeper value to the content of her books.  I encourage you to read Warrior’s Rise and tell us what you think.

Deva Morgan transforms from human to warrior on her thirtieth birthday.  She sets out on a quest to defeat the Dark Lord and his demons.  Hmmm, who does this remind you of?

Deva faces the battle against a huge force without much help, which the exception of her friend Padraig O’Neal.  Deva not only has to fight an outward battle, but an inward one because of all of the traumatic changes in her life.

So the big question is, can Deva figure out how to stabilize her new power so that she can save the Earth from being invaded by the Dark Lord and his demons?  The ability to harness newfound power is an important theme in this book.

So, for about five bucks, see what happens in this thriller called Warrior’s Rise, which is the first in an exciting new series for Kindle.  I look forward to seeing what more DeLeon has to offer in the future.

 

LightWedge Products for Kindle

lightLast night as I was riding home on the bus after dark, I thought, man it sure would be nice to have a light for my Kindle, especially while reading a book I particularly liked.

LightWedge has a an excellent booklight option called Verso Clip Light.  It enables you to read in low lighting and even in bed while your spouse or roommate is sleeping.  There are white and graphic version available.

Here is a note from LightWedge about their Verso Clip Light:

“We want our e-reader customers to have a positive reading experience. This product is the solution for readers who frequently read in low-lit areas,” says Jamey Bennett CEO of LightWedge LLC. “The e-ink displays used in most e-reader devices are not backlit, like a laptop computer. So, the Verso Clip On Light provides additional lighting and clips right on to e-readers.” The Verso Clip Lights go for around $15″

LightWedge is also featuring Kindle Covers by Verso:

Kindles are so fragile and slippery, so it is literally a necessity to get a case for it.  LightWedge has a great selection of covers including the Verso Gear Case.  These cases provide a variety of pockets and compartments to store Kindle accessories and charger cable.

“It’s no longer just a cover for the device, our unique designs allow individuals to express their sense of style,” said Bennett. (Source: LightWedge) The Verso line of e-reader accessories range in price from $14.99 to $49.99 and will be available at major retailers nationwide, Amazon as well as the company’s website (www.lightwedge.com).”

LightWedge is featuring their booklights and Kindle covers for Mother’s Day, which is coming up in a couple of months.  How fitting, because according to LightWedge, the e-readers are a big hit for women.  Both the light and the covers are available for the latest generation Kindle.

 

Design Your Own Kindle Cover

I find it highly amusing that the massive wave of gadget shopping produced another branch for shopping – gadget accessories. Not only we like to buy various gadgets to simplify/modernize our lives, but also we are enticed by the idea of dressing up these devices. The gadgets accessories are usually marketed as add-ons to your gadget that either somehow simplify the usage of it, protect it, and/or create a unique look for it.

So, I’m always on the hunt for fun-looking Kindle accessories. I like browsing Etsy for handmade Kindle covers because Etsy sellers consistently come up with fresh and funky-looking ideas.

When I saw M-Edge custom Kindle covers I realized this trend with Kindle covers took one more step further into the market. M-Edge offers a service for you to design your own Kindle 2/Kindle 3 cover.

You have a choice of:
– Uploading your own image;
– Adding a pattern: approximately sixty patterns to choose from;
– Adding color;
– Adding text with a choice of five fonts (Therano Old Style, Collaborate, Andron, Alexandria, and Scriptina); also you can choose the font color.
– And choosing the spine color: only black and brown for now.

Here is the M-Edge Youtube video that illustrates how it works in more details.

The custom Kindle cover costs $40 plus the shipping fee. According to the information posted in FAQ, M-Edge also ships internationally.

Hence, if you are experiencing the creative urge, but do not have time or desire to craft your own Kindle cover, sounds like M-Edge is an interesting option for you.

Karen Kingsbury Kindle Books

leavingBestselling Christian fiction author Karen Kingsbury releases her latest book: Leaving on March 22.  Leaving is the beginning of a new series called the Bailey Flanagan series.  This series includes characters from four other series: Redemption, Firstborn, Sunrise, and Above the Line series.  All of them are so addicting.  There have been some days when I have read a whole book in one sitting.

Kingsbury really invests a lot into her characters, and often I forget that they’re not real people.   When her last book in the Above the Line series came out, I downloaded it on my Kindle on midnight of its release day.  Instant gratification at its best!

Bailey Flanagan is a college student and aspiring actress, and her character is loosely modeled on Kingsbury’s daughter Kelsey.  Bailey leaves her hometown of Bloomington, Indiana to pursue acting in New York.  Bailey is also caught between the love of her life, Cody Coleman who leaves to be near his mother who is in prison, and Brandon Paul, a famous actor.

Karen Kingsbury’s books are all tearjerkers, and sometimes are even a little too overly emotional.  She has written on topics such as romance, 9/11, abortion, Down’s Syndrome, drug addiction and many more controversial issues.  Through the suffering though, she offers hope.

Her last book, Unlocked, was a huge hit, and it featured Holden Harris, and his childhood friend, Ella.  The interesting part about Unlocked is that it was originally a fictional book featured in several of Kingsbury’s other books.   Both Holden and Ella are high school seniors, but Holden has autism.  I wrote more about Unlocked on my Accessibility and Technology Blog.  So, check that out if you want to learn more about what Unlocked is about.  This blog also covers the latest trends in assistive technology for people with disabilities.  The Kindle has also recently made strides in providing more accessible features.

Kindle Books and Lending: The Complicated Relationship

Over the course of the eReader race so far, one of the biggest points of contention has been the potential for book lending. For quite a while, this was a major factor in the Nook’s favor when people considered the Kindle vs Nook question. Later, when the Kindle managed to get an equivalent to the long-standing Nook Lend Me feature, it pretty much because a moot point.  Now the focus with regard to lending has shifted in large part from an individual concern to questions of institutional lending.

At the moment, it is significantly easier for somebody to walk into a library and get themselves an eBook loan if they have an EPUB compatible eReader.  This is a pain for Kindle owners, but overall it makes sense given the current state of eBook formatting and such.  It just makes more sense to go with the more widely accepted, more advanced, and more likely to last of the available options when you think about the problem from the point of view of eBook lending system developers.

Putting aside Kindle-specific concerns for a moment, eBooks in general have problems involving the lending concept.  Take the recent issue with HarperCollins.  They’ve decided to put an arbitrary cap of 26 checkouts on their eBooks on the assumption that this is roughly equivalent to the average number of uses a paper book will see before needing to be replaced.  Even assuming this is correct, which seems doubtful, this is nothing short of ridiculous.  It works to highlight an important point, however.

Can we truly expect to treat eBooks the same way we do their paper counterparts?  There are arguments on both sides, but most of the pro-lending ones seem to stem from either the idea that the improved circulation will be inherently good for a given author or that given the long-standing precedent for lending which goes along with books it will be impossible for eBooks to be a comprehensive replacement for many people while lacking this ability.  I admit scepticism.

The fact of the matter is that as eBooks gain popularity, certain changes will have to be accepted.  Among these will be a reinterpretation of the appropriateness of unrestricted lending.  I don’t agree with the publisher reaction on this one, but I do think that you need to either have your books be freely lend-able or remove the option entirely.  It is impossible to productively compare the durability of a paperback to the period over which a purchased license to lend a Kindle book, or any eBook, should retain its value.

The problem I run into is that I can’t think of where to draw a better line.  Time-based licensing is out, because it would force libraries to repeatedly pay to maintain access to books which may never see use. If you’re going to have a checkout-based system, it should obviously account for the inherent lack of publisher expense involved in re-granting a license, but where do you draw the line fairly for consumers while still making sure authors get the money they deserve for their productions?  Overall, more questions than answers, but I think that for now the issue of lending is going to be more trouble than it is worth for everybody while people get over the idea that free book lending is a necessary part of the reading experience.

Kindle Games: $0.99 Sale and Thoughts

Today it appears that Amazon has decided that we need even more reasons to waste time in a given way.  I would be upset, but I’ve been too busy playing games to find the time.  Between now and March 27th, there’s a sale going on wherein twelve of the most popular Kindle games to date are available for a mere $0.99.  This is a pretty good list and I’m finding the games quite well thought out and fun to play across the board so far.  Included in this sale are: Scrabble, Solitaire, Mahjong, Chess, Hangman 4 Kids, Triple Town, Texas Hold ’em Poker, Sudoku Unbound, and four New York Times Crossword Puzzle Packs (2 Challenging, 2 Easy).

For those willing to give it a chance, and you can’t really go wrong at the price, chances are good that you’ll find the implementations far cleaner than anticipated.  Mahjong, Sudoku, and Triple Town in partcular, in my opinion, stand out as making the best possible use of the display and demonstrate a fair awareness of the capabilities of the Kindle.  There’s no denying that this is a simplistic collection of games that, for the most part, everybody will be familiar with, but that’s not a bad thing.  If you’re like me and carry your Kindle around with you almost all the time anyway, it never hurts to have a few more things to pick up when you’ve got nothing better to do but not enough time to really get into a book.  Can’t always get on the internet, right?

Now, Kindle games are obviously a different animal than you expect to find on most other portable devices.  The emphasis is, of necessity, on games that play with word concepts, number puzzles, and other graphically low-impact implementations.  While this is a shortcoming, as obviously this was not a device for which gaming was considered a necessary concern, it has had a couple interesting effects that I think add interesting options.

The obvious benefit for me is the revival of the text-based adventure game.  This is manifested in both a re-emergence of the old Choose Your Own Adventure type of concept and in interactive adventures like the browser based Zork implementation that made a big splash a while back.  Surprisingly, these have been the least common things to find as well implemented offerings in the Kindle store.  There are definitely quite a few of the former posted that, while fun, are a bit short-lived and seem to not quite meet expectations at the price point.  The latter are, as yet, seemingly non-existent unless you want to go to the effort of either compiling your own Interactive Fiction games and inserting them into your Kindle via a jailbreak or run one of the very rare instances available through a browser.

This seems to me like an opportunity to resurrect some old classic game design principles from the days when graphics were rarely able to provide much more than a vague approximation of what they were meant to represent.  Maybe I’m just pointlessly nostalgic, but I hope we see more of that before eInk style screens catch up to modern AV standards.