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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 2017
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Amazon 24 hour Digital Content Sale

Amazon announced 24 hour sale of digital content which will start at midnight on December 30th. We just passed through Black Friday and Christmas season with various discounts on TVs, hardware, appliances, Kindle and Amazon Echo devices. Now Amazon plans to launch a grand sale of digital content including books, movies, music, TV shows and more as part of Amazon Digital Day Sale.
According to Amazon, you can get up to 80% off hundreds of video game titles, 75% off on hundreds of digital comics, 50% off on top movies and TV shows. Also, you can get other great deals on popular content for your devices.
So far Amazon revealed a portion of items which will go on Digital Day Sale on December 30. It includes Rocket League, Titanfall 2, Destiny: Rise of Iron, magazine reader Texture, Microsoft Office Home & Business 2016, and Amazon’s own music service. Check back on Amazon Digital Sale page for more details.

Coming Soon: An E-Ink Kindle You Can Read In The Dark

When it comes to reading devices like the Kindle, E Ink displays are both the primary draw and the biggest marketing problem.  On the one hand they allow for insanely long battery life and a reading experience as easy on the eyes as any paperback.  On the other, they offer little advantage besides that ease of reading since the opaque nature of E Ink means that even optional lighting has not been possible before now.

Recent reports coming out of Seattle indicate that the next generation of Kindles will finally have built in lighting.  While we have not had a chance to actually play with any, the technology reportedly being employed will involve front-lighting of some sort that can be controlled through the system’s menus.  This both gets around the problematic opaqueness of the E Ink material and avoids doing so in such a way as to produce eye strain like that found when reading on an LCD.

This will be the first big step forward for either the Kindle or eReaders in general in quite some time.  For the most part, the only think that differentiates the Kindle from its competition at this point is the integration with Amazon’s Kindle Store.  Other than that the Nook Simple Touch is the slightly superior device and even the less well known competition is close enough to be comparable.  E Ink Pearl has just been around for long enough that everybody who is interested has managed to adopt it.

Now it is definitely cool that we will be able to do our Kindle reading in dark or poorly lit rooms after all this time.  It is even cooler to discover that it won’t have tradeoffs that negate the point of owning a Kindle instead of or in addition to a tablet.  Most exciting for me, though, is what this means for the generation beyond what we’ll see this year.

The major shortcoming of color eReaders using displays like E Ink Triton are that, unless the lighting is close to ideal, the colors are washed out and dull.  Once Amazon has some experience with including front lighting and has the implementation of a lighting layer down, there is no reason to think that they would have trouble adjusting to meet the needs of color displays.  This would probably result in having a color/monochrome toggle that insisted on turning the lighting on any time you wanted your Kindle to pull up a magazine, but it would still completely change the color eReading marketplace and eliminate the need for LCD reading tablets.

All reports indicate that the newest Kindle generation is still in development phases while the company works on things like weight, battery life, and light quality.  Even so, it is safe to assume that the Kindle 5 will show up before the end of the year.  Should the Agency Model be eliminated as soon as as we now suspect it might be, Amazon will almost certainly celebrate that fact with a huge push in the product line.  The coinciding release of a glow-in-the-dark Kindle would round that out nicely.

Kindle for iPad App Updated To Use Retina Display

While customers have barely had time to wipe the first set of fingerprints off their brand new iPad 3 purchases, Amazon has prepared to take advantage of the improved screen quality that the device incorporates by updating their Kindle reading application.  Users will find their reading experience in this release, Version 3.0, noticeably crisper, cleaner, and with a couple useful new features.  Magazines and other publications that choose to use high resolution color imagery will be right at home on the platform now, thanks to these changes.

There is now a tab available at the bottom of the screen, clearly borrowed from the Kindle Fire’s native interface, which allows easy switching between locally stored and cloud based books currently available to the account.  This should make it easier to manage content on the most basic level.  Things are also displayed in the same grid view that the Kindle Fire interface relies on for eBook navigation.  In terms of the general reading experience the update is a step forward and does good things for new iPad 3 owners.

That is not to say that there are no complaints about the new release, of course.  While they made no real note of the alterations to the way the app works, a few useful features were quietly removed.  Customers have been complaining, for example, that the ability to search from the dictionary to Wikipedia and Google has been removed since Version 2.9 of the app.  This seems to be a very strange change given the potential usefulness of this feature and the seeming lack of effort that would have been required to maintain it once developed.  It certainly has nothing to do with bringing the Kindle for iPad experience in line with the Kindle Fire, as the Fire still has this ability.  There is also still no ability to organize one’s library via the app itself, as well as no folder or tag system.  While this is true of everybody using anything Kindle related besides the eReaders themselves, which at least have the Collections system, it remains a source of frustration.

Overall the consensus is that this brought the new iPad a superior aesthetic experience compared to what is available elsewhere, but that it failed to improve functionality in any major way.  Perhaps this is to be expected, given that with the need for a completely external iOS Kindle Store there must be little pressure to release innovations on that platform first, but it does lessen some of the enthusiasm for the first real app update to bring readers the advantages of the iPad’s improvements.

Realistically, especially with the second Kindle Fire release expected right around the corner, any major improvements along the lines of function will probably come through their Kindle for Android or Kindle Cloud Reader options first.  The stylistic changes that bring the Kindle for iOS app closer to the Kindle Fire’s appearance only serve to highlight how important it is for Amazon to unify their platform.  In the end we can probably expect to see any major changes radiating out from Kindle Fire updates except when, as in this case, those changes are to take advantage of hardware capabilities that the Kindle Fire simply lacks.

Free 90 Day Trial on Select Magazines for Kindle Fire Customers

Kindle Fire

Kindle Fire

If you own a Kindle Fire and enjoy reading magazines, you’re in luck because Amazon is offering a 90 day free trial on select popular magazines.  You can find these magazines on the Kindle Store homepage.  The collection includes health, beauty, men and women, sports, teens, and technology.

A sample of some the hottest magazines included in this trial include:

Wired

Wired is a hit technology focused magazine that includes the latest gadgets, as well as innovative ideas that will shape the future.  The magazine takes a broader approach with articles spanning across subjects such as science, philosophy, adventure, and online culture.  It is a great magazine for those who are familiar with technology and want to stay on top of the latest trends.  The reviews run from one end of the spectrum to another.  As one reviewer said, it is free for three months, so it can’t hurt to give it a shot.

SELF

SELF is a diet and fitness magazine that that includes a variety of good workouts, and healthy recipes.  It also includes beauty tips and other real life advice.  When I’ve read the magazine, I’ve enjoyed what they have to say.  The stories that resonate the most with me are the personal weight loss success stories. SELF is a good motivational tool to jump start the rush of New Years resolutions that involve getting healthy and fit.  The benefit of the Kindle Fire version over the print is that it includes interactive content, such as videos.

Both Wired and Self, as well as a Glamour, GQ and a few others, are Kindle Fire apps, as opposed to magazines that are purchased in the Newsstand.  The apps are more interactive, but require a different log in than the Newsstand magazines.  They have room for improvement, but the good thing is that apps are updated regularly.

The New Yorker

The New Yorker is a Newsstand magazine, and the 90 day free trial is open to all Kindle owners.  There is an interactive edition for Kindle Fire owners.  The award winning magazine includes topics such as politics, world affairs, business, science, and the arts.  There are a mix of articles, poetry, and cartoons.  This is a weekly magazine.

Architectural Digest

Architectural Digest is the go to magazine for architects and interior designers.  It includes designs from top architects and provides a peek into the homes of “celebrated personalities” as Amazon puts it.  The pictures and graphic heavy nature of this magazine works best with the Kindle Fire.

The good part for print subscribers is that you can sign up for access the the digital editions for free.  That is the way is should be!  The Kindle editions can serve as a more portable alternative to the print editions.

With the reviews so all over the place and some magazines working better than others, I am eager to see what more people have to say about them.  There is still a lot of work to do to make magazines work seamlessly on the Kindle, but they will improve over time as the Kindle platform gets better and better.

 

 

 

Could The Kindle Fire vs Nook Tablet Fight Really Hinge On Magazines?

Since the launch of the very first Kindle eReader, the persistent and constantly repeated complaint has been that it lacks color.  Everything else that began problematically, from screen refresh time to clunky controls, has been addressed in later iterations of the Kindle line.  Sadly, you just can’t do much yet in terms of color without sacrificing the E Ink screen.  Barnes & Noble managed to effectively market their Nook Color for over a year on nothing more than the ability to overcome this limitation (regardless of the resultant shortcomings of their device) and it was inevitable that it be a big issue in terms of Kindle Fire reviewing, no matter how much Amazon might prefer to focus on other things.

How big a deal could this possibly be, though?  Upon closer inspection, more than I thought.  The obvious example that most people jump to for their color reading needs is the magazine.  Let’s simply disregard that one for the time being, though.  It involves a slightly different pricing model since only the newest issue of a given publication is likely to be in demand, shortening the life of each installment to a month or so in many cases.  I would love to comment but, without a better understanding of how the advertising model generally makes the transition to the sort of device that has the potential to simply block out images with a few tweaks, I simply don’t feel qualified at the moment.

We can definitely consider general book sales, though.  Assume that the majority of book sales are fiction.  Particularly Romance novels, I’m told.  Not too much need for color illustration in those, for the most part.  That does not mean that non-fiction is a negligible area, however.  Self Help and History are two of the most impressive genres of the past few years in terms of sales.  Both of them, in their own way can benefit from the inclusion of color.

While this is definitely important, though, it’s difficult to believe that it will really be a major factor moving into the next round of Kindle vs Nook competition.  Barnes & Noble’s book focus is completely understandable.  It only makes sense to do what you know best and they simply don’t have the structure in place to handle much else.  Amazon has already moved past that, adding competing capabilities and book selections almost in passing, and brought the emphasis around to video.

The Kindle Fire might not be a match for the iPad when it comes to hardware, but Amazon is building up their whole digital presence to the point of rivaling Apple’s more established one.  The book emphasis only made sense as long as the limitations of the device being sold restricted use to that media.  The future will be an overall digital experience.  Sure magazines and color reading will be a part of it, but on their own the effect just doesn’t seem likely to be big enough to matter.  There are rumors of a Nook Tablet video store on the horizon, as well as a push to increase the app content for that line of devices.  That’s likely to make a far bigger difference.

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.

Magazines and Newspapers Now Available on Kindle Reading Apps

One of the biggest complaints about reading magazines on Kindle is it’s lack of good support for graphics.  I have seen this sentiment in many of the Kindle magazine reviews.  This issue is resolved somewhat with the magazines’ new availability on Kindle Reading Apps such as the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.  Barnes & Noble has done the same for it’s Nook reading apps and have a good sized collection.

The Kindle for iPad interface makes it a bit easier to read magazines because of its LCD screen that is much more amenable to colors and pictures.  National Geographic is of course known for its amazing photos, so it works the best on tablets.

The collection of over 100 Kindle magazines and newspapers include big names like The Washington Post, The Economist, PC Magazine, Reader’s Digest, and more.  The good news is that they all include two week trial subscriptions, so you don’t have to lock into a subscription right away.

You get a bit of portability (think much lighter luggage when traveling!) and a better visual experience.  Price wise, the Kindle subscriptions are about equal or less than the print subscription.  Sometimes more.  It just depends on the magazine or newspaper.

One thing I like about the Kindle Reading Apps are that they include good accessibility features.  The option to enlarge fonts, change color contrast, and include VoiceOver capabilities is a big perk for people who have vision loss.  Have you ever seen a large print or braille version of Reader’s Digest?  They are huge.

With the upcoming “tablet revolution” so to speak, it will be interesting to see what happens to the Kindle apps, especially for the iPad.  I think they will be around for awhile with such a huge variety of users using tablets and smartphones.  There will be a slew of tablets to choose from this holiday season.

When the Kindle Tablet comes out, will Amazon continue to offer the Kindle for iPad app, or just focus on its own?

The Kindle Tablet would solve the graphics issue directly as part of Amazon’s own product line, instead of relying on its software platform on another company’s product.

So, it will be interesting to see what happens!

 

Kindle Subscriptions Readability Expanded

On October 22nd, Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) announced that they will be adding a bit of expanded functionality to their Kindle reading platform.  Much as book are currently able to be shared between devices on the same account, regardless of hardware choice, so shall magazine and newspapers be, at least in theory!  So subscribers will simply have access to their periodicals wherever they may be, if all goes well.  There are two sides to this situation, however.

While it greatly expands availability, and therefore saleability, for publications currently lacking an online distribution system, it can mean direct competition for others. Take the New York Times(NYSE:NYT) for example.  They’ve spent a lot of time and man-hours getting their iPad application off the ground, from what I’ve heard.  It seems pretty unlikely that they will be wanting to negate all that effort by simply letting Amazon expand subscriptions purchased for Kindles to iPad owners. Still, Amazon says they will allow publishers to opt-out, so perhaps that will negate the issue.  It is certainly an option that many organizations will have to weigh carefully, since it will almost certainly have bearing on the decision of future customers to purchase Kindle-based subscriptions in hopes of staying up to date on a daily basis.  Regardless of publisher dilemmas, this does clear up an annoying issue with the current subscription setup.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense for your average commuter to be denied the ability to check their morning paper just because today they’re using their Kindle app instead of the device itself.

The first devices to see this new feature will be those running Kindle-for-iOS, but Android users should see it soon as well.  The stated vision of the company, “Buy Once, Read Everywhere”, would be great for readers and we can only hope that it comes soon and works well.  It would be nice to see availability in spite of potential complications with independently developed applications, but only time will tell.

Poets & Writers Magazine for Kindle

According to their website, Poets & Writers has grown from its humble beginnings in a New York apartment to its current status as the largest nonprofit organization for writers of poetry, nonfiction and creative fiction.  Galen Williams found funding and started the organization in 1970.

If you are a serious writer, this organization a great resource for tips, literary grants, publishing information, networking opportunities and writing seminars.  Poets & Writers Magazine was formed in 1987. The bi-monthly publication is available for 99 cents on the Kindle and Kindle DX.

In 1996, pw.org was launched, providing an online presence for the magazine along with message board forums and exclusive online content.  In 2007, Poets & Writers Magazine introduced the Jackson Poetry Prize.  This awards  $50,000 to an early to mid career poet.  That is a pretty nice chunk of change.

I found a neat quote on the magazine’s website from E. L. Doctorow who described P&W as:

“a saintly little service organization for writers across the country. It tells them where the jobs are, the reading gigs, the grants, the awards competitions, and it brings them news of each other. Not its least valuable service is the one that comes of all the others – the suggestion of community implicit in this lowliest and most dire of professions.”

Overall, the reviews for the Kindle edition are good.  One suggestion Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) should take note of, is to provide a scan or search feature within the Kindle edition of the magazine.  The reviewer mentioned that it was much quicker to find certain sections in the magazine version.  The reviews overall reflected what the magazine website’s descriptions said about the content in terms of its great insight on many areas of the writing industry.

I took a look at the magazine, and I like that the writers write from a such a deeply personal point of view.  The stories have a lot more meaning that way.  You will also find information on current events such as the Chilean Mine ordeal and reviews on top MFA programs.

With so much information on the web to sort through, this magazine is a great resource to help sort the quality writing from the junk.

The Onion for Kindle

The Onion is a weekly newspaper offered on the Kindle and Kindle DX for $2.49.  The current editor of The Onion is Joe Randazzo, and their website is updated daily.  The Kindle edition is great for portability, and is delivered wirelessly every Thursday. The Onion is also released with its affiliate, The AV Club, a publication that explores the best and worst of books and entertainment.

According to Amazon’s little spiel about the beginnings of the newspaper, The Onion was “founded in 1756, when Friedrich Siegfried Zweibel, an immigrant tuber-farmer from Prussia, shrewdly bartered a sack of yams for a second-hand printing press and named his fledgling newspaper The Mercantile Onion after the only words of English that he knew. Since then, The Onion has expanded into an omnipotent news empire complete with a 24-hour broadcast news division (The Onion News Network) and wildly successful website, TheOnion.com.”

Well, some of that is accurate. There is a wildly popular website called TheOnion.com and a news division called The Onion News Network.  The Onion was founded by two University of Wisconsin – Madison students, Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson in 1988.  The name, The Onion, came from Chris Johnson’s uncle who saw Keck and Johnson eating an onion sandwich on several occasions.  It was literally an onion on two pieces of bread.  That sounds pretty disgusting, huh?

Some regular columns featured in The Onion include: “STATshot”, a spoof on USAToday’s Snapshots, InfoGraphic, a set of bullet points and an image that provides a humorous “map description” of a person or object.  This week’s InfoGraphic is the “Ozzy Genome.” Others include: “Point, Counterpoint,” “The ONION in History,” which comprises of front page newspapers from earlier eras taken from the book Our Dumb Century and “American Voices.”

I regularly follow The Onion Blog’s daily updates, which does not have all of the articles as the newspaper.  A few articles featured on the website recently that appear both in the blog and in the newspaper are: “Wasting Tax Dollars on Something Awesome,” “Ritalin Gummies Unveiled” and “George Steinbrenner Dead after Firing Underperforming Heart.”  These are just a few tidbits of hilarious misinformation The Onion dishes out.

The reviews are very positive overall.  The Onion is such a great source of comic relief in the midst of all of the economic and political turmoil in the world.