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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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Free Kindle Book – Change of Heart by Fran Shaff

 Change of Heart is a heartwarming, yet grief stricken love story that is certainly worth reading.  It is currently on the Kindle Top 100 list of free books.  It is hard to gauge how long a book is going to be free, so catch it while you can.

Change of Heart is set in the 1850’s Midwestern United States.  Marietta Randolph lives in Chicago, and is forced to travel to the wild lands of Nebraska to pick up her nephew.  Zack’s parents, Kathy and Clint, were murdered by “savages”.  So, Marietta has to fulfill her legal guardian duties that she agreed to in case anything happened to her sister and and brother in law.

She makes the long trip to Nebraska in a carriage.  There she meets Jase, Clint’s brother.  Jase is like a second father to Zack, and took him in after his parents’ death.

In the usual fashion of Western romances, you have the incredibly appealing rancher.  Add being trapped in a snow storm, and you can probably figure out the rest of that part of the story.

Fran Shaff has the ability to capture the reader’s attention and make her stories so real that the reader just escapes into the fictional world..  The element of grief and family adds depth to the story.  I love books like that.  It is so nice to escape into another world for awhile.

She has won a number of awards for her Romance writings, as well as Children’s literature.  She also won E-Book of the Month Award from MyShelf.com.  Most of her books are available for Kindle, and are $3.99 and under.

So, if you’re a fan of sweet romances, give Change of Heart a try.  The reviews overall are positive.

C. Donne

“CHANGE OF HEART will touch a place deep in your heart. Marietta, Jason, and Zack all lost people they loved deeply when Clint and Kathy died, together they are able to comfort each other and begin to heal the wounds that are left when something so horrible happens to someone you love. I adored the unselfishness both Marietta and Jason show by their willingness to make sacrifices for Zack. Fran Shaff does an amazing job pulling the reader into the story so that you feel like you’re really part of it. I became so involved, I’d read all the way through the story before I even realized it, and was extremely impressed to find myself so emotionally involved that I cried at several points. “

Amazon Updates Kindle Book Format From Mobi 7 To KF8

Up until now, despite certain efforts to use the Kindle for iOS app to encourage media embedding in eBooks, the Kindle line has really been all about the bare content.  Yes, page formatting is not only possible but important, but for the most part writers and publishers have been restricted so much by the format and the capabilities of the devices used to read their books that the only thing really possible was the basic layout stuff.  Now, with the Kindle Fire on the horizon, things are changing.

Amazon has already got a lot planned to take advantage of the color screen on their newest Kindle.  Kid’s books and magazines will be getting a huge push, for example.  There has even already been some fairly major controversy in the world of comics over Amazon’s exclusive deal with DC for some digital editions and the repercussions this is having on that industry.  Naturally none of this would be simple to pull off using the rather outdated Mobi 7 eBook format.  Amazon’s solution is a new release called “Kindle Format 8”.  Over time it will completely replace the obsolete format, though all Kindle devices will continue to be able to access these older files.

Kindle Format 8 brings the power of HTML5 and CSS3 to the eBook.  This gets you greatly expanded layout control, including fixed layouts.  That’s going to be especially important for things like children’s books and comics, where relative positioning of the illustration is important to meaning.  It will also finally make possible footnotes, which will please academic publishers among others.  Personally I’m hoping that that particular application won’t take off, since there is a lot of potential in the Kindle‘s existing annotation framework if they could figure out how to adapt it to replace footnotes, but that may be an unrealistic hope now.  On top of formatting, Kindle books will now be able to contain their own specific custom fonts, text displayed over images, and a number of other welcome updates.

This update is anything but a surprise, in a way.  Existing popular formats like EPUB and Mobipocket are already based on HTML, so there is a certain sense of inevitability to the development of a new eBook format based on modern standards.  The greater functionality will be welcome for many, should the development tools prove effective.  Both KindleGen 2, the Kindle Format 8 publishing tool, and Kindle Previewer 2 will be available soon, assuming they’re not already out by the time this is published.

While the Kindle Fire will be the first device in the Kindle line to support this update, eReaders should be updated to support KF8 within the next several months.  No word yet, to the best of my knowledge, if Amazon will be making any effort to update either of the first two generations of Kindle to allow for compatibility, but the currently available devices should have no trouble. Hopefully users will enjoy a greatly improved reading experience once authors and publishers get the hang of the new tools.

Kobo To Take On Kindle Fire With New “Vox” Tablet

The Nook Color might have been the first tablet to come from a major eReader maker, but the Kindle Fire has clearly set the tone for devices in its size / power range.  Amazon’s new media tablet hasn’t even shipped yet and people are scrambling to match prices or rush out competing product.  For the most part, there isn’t really any obvious reason for Amazon to be concerned, but the new Kobo Vox is an imitator with impressive potential.

Kobo’s new Kindle Fire competitor, marketed as a color eReader much like the Nook Color, will be a 7″ Android 2.3 device with comparable specs, expandable memory, and a small selection of colored quilted backs to choose from.  The single core processor might end up being a slight negative, but this was never intended to be a powerhouse anyway.  Oddly enough, both the major strengths and the major shortcomings come in on the software end.

When Barnes & Noble started out with the Nook Color, they tried to keep it almost entirely about the reading.  It was only relatively recently that their app selection started to improve.  Amazon avoided that mistake by building up a huge App Store for the Kindle Fire before it even existed.  Kobo seems to feel like it isn’t worth the trouble.  Rather than a heavily customized, or even locked version of Android, they have decided that Vox users can just grab what they want through the default Android Marketplace.  The OS seems to be pretty much just basic Android 2.3 with some Kobo Apps.

On the one hand, this is genius.  It gives them the ability to offer customers access to the largest selection of Android apps in existence without having to jump through hoops.  At the same time, however, it means that Kobo themselves will not be making any money off of anything but the books.  Whether or not this proves to be a smart business move remains to be seen, but it will definitely appeal to a certain segment of the customer base.

What really makes the Vox a major player among eReading companies jumping into tablet production is Kobo’s international presence.  More than pretty much anybody else so far, Amazon included, Kobo has managed to make sure a wide selection of books is there in any market they can get their hooks into.  The Kobo eReader is widely available and has been for some time.  It would not surprise me even a little bit to discover that when Amazon manages to get the Kindle Fire out to markets outside the US, especially those new sites like Amazon.es, the Kobo Vox is already a common sight.

It isn’t the best option in terms of hardware or software in the US right now, even for the $200 price, but for users who want just a cheap, effective 7″ Android device it might fit the bill.  In areas where the tablet market has yet to really take off, though, I expect to see the Vox make a huge impression.  Let’s just hope Apple can hold off on the anti-competition lawsuits?

Installation Tips For DecalGirl Skins

This is the 4-th post in  the series of weekly giveaways sponsored by DecalGirl.com here on BlogKindle. Here is the answer for the question – who is the lucky man? His tweeter name is @LGM777. I’ve sent the redemption code via Twitter. To be in the game you need to do the following: click on the twitter button on the left to retweet this post and follow @BlogKindle so that I can send you a personal message on twitter with redemption code in case you win. A winner will be randomly chosen next Friday and announced in the next post. A tip – tweet more and you will have more chances.


I hope everyone’s Halloween spirit was stimulated by last week’s post! We’re definitely in the mood for some trick or treating here at DecalGirl. As I write this we are preparing for our annual Halloween costume contest. Right now there’s Edward Scissorhands, a Hula girl, Gumby, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Raggedy Ann, a mad scientist, a jellyfish, and lots of other interesting characters roaming our halls!

But now on to something new….

DecalGirl skins are amazingly easy to install, and when you decide you are ready to change your look with a new one, they come off clean as a whistle, with no residue left behind. People occasionally ask “Are they reusable?” The answer to that is “no” for a couple of reasons. First, most anything made from vinyl is going to stretch a bit when it is removed from something, especially if it has adhesive on it and you have to peel it off. Second, our proprietary adhesive is designed to come off of your device with no residue, but, like most adhesives, it will not be as sticky and it will not adhere in the same way a second time.

Having said that, you should know that our adhesive does give you a “do over” if you try to place your skin and you don’t get it quite right the first time. If things don’t line up quite right for you, you do have a short time window to carefully remove the skin, line it up, and try again.

If you need some help installing your skin, you are in luck! There is a page on the DecalGirl website that is filled with installation tips. Or, if you are the type of person who prefers audio/visual help, pay a visit to YouTube.com, do a search for “DecalGirl skin installation” and you will find several pages of videos showing skins being installed on various devices. Please note that some of these are official DecalGirl productions; those are the ones that are by “DecalGirl Support.”

There are also a lot of others made by third parties. While most of them are pretty good and you’ll hear a lot of positive comments about DecalGirl skins, when it comes to installation advice you should probably stick to the ones that are officially from DecalGirl.

Just a quick note in closing today… We are already getting questions about skins for the new Kindle Fire. We would like everyone to know that we are planning to have skins available for it within hours of its release. Scattered through this post are some of our more recent skin offerings for Kindles. All of these, as well as any other design you find on our site will be available for the Fire. Talk to you next week!

Apple May Be Bringing 7″ iPad To Compete With Kindle Fire

Could Apple be feeling a bit threatened by the arrival of the impressively popular Kindle Fire?  If certain rumors coming out of Taiwan are true, then the answer seems to be “Yes”.

The most recent set of rumors, which as always should be taken with a grain of salt, indicate that Apple has been looking at samples of 7.85″ screens.  Presumably this would be an effort to design something along the lines of a budget iPad to compete with the sudden wave of affordably priced iPad alternatives hitting the market.  Such a device would have the advantage of Apple’s excellent reputation and superior presence in the tablet market while also allowing purchase by customers who aren’t quite ready to drop $500+ for their newest piece of narrowly useful electronics.

This would not exactly fit with prior declarations from Apple regarding the usefulness of a 7″ tablet, of course.  Steve Jobs came out emphatically against such devices, declaring that extensive testing had shown anything smaller than the iPad to deliver a sub-par user experience when using fingers as pointing devices.  This doesn’t rule a smaller iPad out entirely, though.  One, with the passing of Steve Jobs his company will naturally have to choose their own course.  If the market demands smaller, more affordable tablets then there is every reason to believe that Apple will rise to the challenge.  Two, Apple does have some history of declaring things pointless or unfeasible right up until the moment they feel they are in a position to do those very things.  Whether this is due to clever PR trying to throw off the competition or simply Apple’s desire to give their customers what they want regardless of what seems to be a smart move at first is open to interpretation.

Clearly nothing is set in stone yet.  At best, somebody at Apple thinks that the idea of a smaller iPad is something that should be explored to some extent.  As far as anybody knows, orders have not been placed and plans have not been made.  We have more substantial speculative information floating around about the iPad 3 than this, by a fair margin.  Even if it did happen, would it really be able to outshine the competition anymore?

A smaller iPad competing with the Kindle Fire would almost certainly come in at $250-300 and be unavailable until at least mid-2012.  Where Amazon is pushing media, Apple is making most of their profit on the hardware end and would have to scale back the power of their device accordingly, likely eliminating a great deal of their edge along those lines.  On top of that, the Kindle Fire will have had time to gain a following.  Assuming that the real value is in the content that a tablet has access to, Amazon is certainly offering enough to keep their users happy and the low price is clearly attractive.

We’ll see what happens in the months to come, but I question the potential for a move like this.  Apple already controls the performance tablet market and would be better off without a disappointment on the budget tablet end of things.

Larger Kindle Fire Coming Soon, Kindle Phone Distant But Possible

Let’s assume for a moment that the Kindle Fire proves to be a successful endeavor.  I don’t just mean that it sells well, since we know that it is already doing that, I mean that users love it as much as the existing Kindle line and product loyalty can be assumed to a certain extent.  Where do they go next with things at that point?

Well, there are already indications of a 10″ Kindle Tablet.  Personally, I’m guessing we’ll be calling it the Kindle Air by early 2012.  This is based on rumors from people in the know about what is going on at Foxconn Electronics, who Amazon is said to have tapped for the production of their next device.  While it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, the fact that Foxconn is also the producer of Apple’s iPad 2 hints at a more head-on confrontation over the high end tablet market.  This will likely end up being what was originally known as the Kindle ‘Hollywood’ Tablet rather than anything directly upgrading the brand new Kindle Fire

A larger Kindle Tablet was always a given in most ways, though.  The majority of “leaked” information leading up to the reveal of the Kindle Fire indicated that there was always meant to be a larger, more powerful option that Amazon just ran out of time to have ready to ship in time for the 2011 holiday season.  We can hope that by taking more time with it we will get a device that while still affordable brings a larger display and significantly more power.

Looking to the longer term, though, Amazon has to be hoping to bring their end to end service to all areas of the portable electronics market.  After all, being based on Android should make it relatively easy to port their Kindle Fire OS to anything with a screen on it.  My guess, and I’m hardly alone in this, is that there is a Kindle Phone coming up down the line.

There were predictions about a possible 4″ Kindle Tablet type of device in a Wall Street Journal article some months ago featuring supposedly leaked information about the Kindle Fire.  It was interesting then and it remains that way.  While it would be easy to see that resulting in something along the lines of an iPod Touch competitor, though, I don’t see how that would make the kind of impression that launching a new type of Kindle should aspire to.

More likely would be a Kindle Phone.  In 2010, Lab 126 representatives stated in an interview that Amazon was interested in entering into the mobile phone arena in the past, but at the time considered it out of reach for a variety of reasons.  That was before the Kindle Fire and its Android fork, though, so things have changed.  At this point they have the OS, the App Store, plenty of media to serve, and even an existing relationship with a major cellular provider.  A phone just seems like a logical extension of putting all of these things together.

Amazon to Offer Trade in Option for Older Kindles.

I have a Kindle 2, and I just got it for Christmas two years ago. Then it was $259. I love my Kindle, but it sure is looking clunky after seeing the specs from the newest models that were recently released. What a difference two years make! The Kindle Fire is $60 less than my Kindle was when I got it.

The newest Kindles no longer have a keyboard, which makes them so much more streamlined and lightweight. There is also the touch screen model and of course, the tablet. The good news is, Amazon is now offering a trade in option. Click here for more detailed discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of the trade in option.

Don’t expect to get much money out of it. You can get $28 for a first generation Kindle.  Can you believe that it was twice as much as the Kindle Fire is now, when it was released four years ago?  The second generation 6″ Kindle like the one I have goes for $39. The Kindle DX is $135.

The deals are not that great, but the trade in values go a long way if you want to use it towards a new Kindle.  I ordered the Kindle Touch that will be available November 21, and a trade in would cut down a big chunk of the $99 price tag.  I am really excited about the touch screen version because that is what I am so used to now with it being so popular these days.

I haven’t decided whether I want to pursue the trade in program option yet. I have several family members that would love to have a Kindle,  With that in mind, I’m sure libraries, schools, and charity organizations would love to have old Kindles also.

The trade in program also includes a variety of other popular electronic devices such as the iPod, Touch, iPad, tablets, and more.  Some offer Amazon credit.  For someone who buys stuff on Amazon all the time, that’s not a bad deal.

So, now you have several options to choose from if you have an old Kindle lying around that you want to get rid of.  So, glad to know that old Kindles can still be put to good use.

Could Amazon Create a Kindle Phone?

The Kindle Fire is not even released yet, and there are already speculations going around that involve the possibility of an Amazon smartphone. More information on Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) smartphone predictions can be found here.

Now that Amazon has an appstore and an Android OS, they are much closer to putting all of this together into a phone than ever before. Amazon also has a contract with AT&T for their 3G service on the Kindle.  Amazon’s appstore also includes daily free apps.  This gives them an edge over Apple.

I just hope they don’t get so bogged down by creating all of the different devices that they neglect the device that they’re most well known for. That is the Kindle e-reader. Books and reading are the core of Amazon’s services.

I think the main thing that Amazon has over everyone else with their products is how inexpensive they are. They can design a cheaper smartphone, and that would allow consumers who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get a smartphone, be able to have one. I come to this conclusion from looking at the current tier of prices for the new line of Kindles, and the $200 Kindle Fire.  It is $300 less than the cheapest iPad.

Speaking of Amazon being inexpensive. I was in a used bookstore the other day, and compared the price of a book there versus the same book available on Amazon. The new version was cheaper on Amazon.  If used bookstores have such high prices, they’re never going to be able to compete.

So, in summary, I’m all for an Amazon smartphone that would open up the smartphone market to consumers looking for a more affordable phone. They have the means to do it, but I only if it will not compromise the quality of the original Kindle e-reader devices.  I would hate to see Amazon to lose sight of what they stand for, yet they have so much potential on a lot of device fronts.

Kindle Fire’s Silk Browser Raises Security Concerns

Amazon’s Kindle Fire does a few things that surprised people when it was announced a couple weeks ago, but probably nothing shocked people more than the inclusion of the new Amazon Silk internet browser.  The idea behind it is sound, allowing most of the work for web browsing to be done in the cloud so that the user experiences vastly reduced loading times and a generally superior browsing experience.  Obviously, however, the fact that the processing is being done by external computers raises some concerns in terms of privacy that need to be addressed.

Some have worried that Amazon would use customers’ browsing habits to customize sales pitches.  Others are concerned that once acquired this user data becomes a commodity that Amazon can hope to turn into profit.  Enterprise IT is definitely concerned with the presence of the Kindle Fire in the workplace this November for a variety of reasons.  Even Congress has gotten involved, making the assumption that Amazon would be collecting as much data as humanly possible about everything going through their servers.  In response to these concerns, Amazon has released some information to the Electronic Frontier Foundation regarding what data will be collected and how it will be used by the company.

The biggest concern for many people, especially those focused on their online privacy, is being forced to use the Amazon Cloud acceleration.  Worry no more: You CAN turn it off at any time.  In addition to opting-out by the user, anything encrypted will be routed from your Kindle Fire directly to the origin server.  This means that anything going on over HTTPS will remain totally off limits for Amazon by design.

In terms of what data is being stored, each session will be logged individually for 30 days.  This log will contain nothing more than requested URLs and timestamps.  In no way will names or user accounts be connected to these logs, nor can they be according to Amazon representatives.  Data may in some instances be even more secure than it would otherwise be since the connection to Amazon’s servers is always going to be encrypted regardless of what you are doing.

Is there still some reason to be concerned?  Of course.  Mostly, however, it requires far fetched scenarios.  Since each session is logged individually, it is unlikely that search history could be used to identify the user from logs.  That doesn’t mean impossible.  Amazon will also suddenly have access to a vast amount of information about browsing habits in general which could be used to inform future business moves.  There is even the chance that law enforcement will find ways to coerce the company to provide cached information for one reason or another.  In terms of individual user safety, however, it seems that things are looking pretty good.  Being singled out is all but impossible.

If you are still concerned, just remember that you can tell your Kindle Fire not to use this feature.  Even without it on, the Silk browser is reported to deliver a speedy experience.  It’s always better to be aware of what information you are letting out about your habits on the internet, however mundane those may be.  Overall, though, Amazon seems to have gone out of their way to avoid intruding on your privacy.

Sony Tries To Step Up The Kindle Competition With Upgraded Reader Apps

Since right around the time Amazon launched the first Kindle, Sony has had trouble maintaining a place at the front of the eReading world.  In a way this is really a shame, since it was the Sony Reader that first brought E INK reading devices to the public in a meaningful way.  I still have an old Sony Reader PRS-500 from 2006 that works perfectly, for example.  They set the standard when it came to initial performance and pricing for early eReaders.

Still, over the past 4-5 years Sony as a company has failed to keep up with their competition in terms of hardware pricing and content availability.  As these are pretty much the most important parts of successfully marketing an eReader, it’s no surprise that the first thing people do when they want to read a book is rarely “open the Reader app”.  Efforts are clearly being made to turn this around, however, both with the newer Reader hardware and the recently released Reader application update.

This software update is now available for PC and Mac, bringing some features that the product line has been in dire need of for some time.  With the new program you can organize your library, tag eBooks for easy searching or sorting, jump to real page equivalents while reading, enjoy tabbed browsing, and sync your reading information between devices using Cloud Sync.  The appearance is quite nice as well, and makes the PC and Mac apps consistent with the Sony Tablet equivalent.

Now, this is not in any way a revolutionary move.  Anybody familiar with eReading will recognize these features as basically what has been around for some time now on both Kindle and Nook platforms.  The fact that they are not right at the forefront of innovation at this time does not make this inconsequential, though.  Right now there are, for the most part, four major players in eBooks.  Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Kobo, and Sony.  Anything that keeps the options open for consumers and heats up the competition a bit is going to be good for everybody involved.

This is especially true moving forward as eReading companies attempt to secure places as Tablet PC providers.  Barnes & Noble has had some noticeable success with the Nook Color as a reading device, and Amazon seems to be exceeding all expectations with the response to their upcoming Kindle Fire media tablet.  The Kobo Vox is the first of these to offer an open Android experience, but it remains to be seen if this will be a smart move.

Sony, coming from a less specialized background, already has a tablet presence and experience with the wider market.  They are still behind in pricing, of course, but that’s true of the majority of the tablet market with less than a month having passed since Amazon upset the balance.  Will this make a big difference going forward?  It’s hard to say.  The Sony Tablet S hasn’t exactly made the kind of impression that one would hope for if it were to compete, but that doesn’t mean we can necessarily rule them out yet.  We can only hope that Sony is quicker to respond to Amazon’s latest moves than it has been previously.