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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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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.

Amazon Suspends Adding New Kindle Newspapers Due To Overwhelming Demand?

The new rule for making a newspaper work seems to be maximizing its availability.  This means that not only does it need to be at the local supermarket and gas stations, you also need to have editions available for the Kindle, Nook, iPad, general Internet, and more.  Publishers are forced to jump through a lot of hoops to get this sort of availability built up and optimized for as broad a reader base as possible, but without that availability they tend to find themselves unable to compete in an age of increasingly all-digital, up-to-the-minute news sources.

Amazon has been doing a good job, up until now, of accommodating as many newspapers as were interested in joining the Kindle platform.  Second only to iPad in terms of its subscriber base, papers are under a lot of pressure to make sure that they can maintain a place.  So many have realized this that Amazon has been forced to temporarily suspend new publications until they can get things under control.

Multiple sources are now noting that newspaper publishers are being turned away.  The situation is reported to be “not permanent but may be long term”.  Amazon has responded by denying the existence of such a move, but then explained that they are running behind and can’t get to new things very quickly right now.  Their suggestion for distributing to Kindle customers is to ask publishers to build themselves an app and submit it to the Amazon Appstore for Android.

Naturally this won’t be a huge comfort for many publishers.  The Kindle eReader is by far the more widely distributed product at the moment, even if the Kindle Fire is quickly catching up, and that whole branch of the product line would be unreachable through Android perpetually.  Also a factor is that any number of newspapers has been working hard to get their product in compliance with Amazon’s Kindle Newspaper guidelines with the express intent of reading the eReader side of things.  To completely shift focus and abandon existing efforts in favor of an Android app seems less than ideal, when it would work at all.

The Kindle Store’s Newsstand currently stocks around 200 papers, with more being added all the time.  While we can’t know the underlying cause of Amazon’s sudden hold on expansion, there are some speculations that make sense.

Possibly it is a matter of volume, given that this is something that requires trained oversight from Amazon staff to ensure quality integration.  Also possible is the idea that this will force publishers to adopt KF8 and optimize for the Kindle Fire.  Regardless of whether either of these actually works, it is hard to imagine that this is a major profit-building area of Kindle Sales and so it is highly tempting imagine a tactical move taking place here.

For now, what publishers have been pushed off are trying to work with Amazon to figure out where their options are.  In the near future, we may find that only the biggest names in newspaper publication are available on the Kindle anymore.

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.

New York Times Kindle Access

Finally, the Kindle Edition of the New York Times has released full web access for Kindle and Nook subscribers.  The New York Times is one of the best newspapers in the world for many subject areas such as business and politcs.  I’m sure you are also familiar with their crossword puzzles.

Now you have more reading options and portability.  This has been in the works for several months so readers are certainly glad to finally see this option become available.

I admit that the $20 monthly fee is kind of steep, especially when it was just for access on the Kindle.  Also, as you are probably aware, the Kindle is not that great on graphics.  So, if you need to look up graphics or tables, you can get this via the NYT website.

Good to see newspapers and magazines reaching out to the digital audience in addition to the print audience. It appears that they are finding ways to bring in revenue from both sources.  Newspapers have been really hurting financially in the past few years.  The Kindle version is much easier on the environment too!  With e-readers and tablets cropping up all over the place, the digital market is certainly on the up and up.

I have a friend who leads a busy life and doesn’t have time to read newspapers.  So she catches up on them during vacation.  I can definitely see how e-readers and tablets can help in this area by just having one device to carry around.

Despite the e-reader and tablet revolution, I hope that appreciation for print and the work to create it will always remain.  There is something about the feel of the paper and smell of the fresh ink.  I think that both print and digital content can find a balance and coexist into the future.

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 Subscribers get around NYT Paywall

Here’s a situation where it’s a pleasant perk to be a Kindle user.  This week, the New York Times implemented a system called the paywall.  It’s an interesting system they’ve come up with to be able to make some money from their digital deliveries.  Readers will be able to access their first 20 news articles each month for free, and the subscription fee beyond that will be based on the device or devices that the user prefers to access their content on.

People who get their Times delivered to the front door in paper format will still get all the fun online stuff free as a perk.  Everybody else will get their set number of views and be faced with a decision.  If you want to be able to grab your news on a Smartphone, that’s $15 each month.  Tablet users will be billed $20 each month.  Anybody who wants the whole package for both types of device can expect to be paying $35.  These packages all include access to the website through any computer you happen to be sitting at, of course.  The extra charges are for the apps that make it more convenient and enjoyable.  Nobody really likes going through the website when they don’t have to, right?

While it sounds complicated and more than a little annoying, most people won’t notice a difference.  It seems that if you’re directed to a story via a link through a social network like Facebook or Twitter or even just a random blog, then you’re all good.  It doesn’t count beyond the normal limit of 20.  Unless you’re somebody who really loves the NYT site, and therefore probably exactly the sort of person they feel justified in asking a reasonable fee from, the fact that people are constantly linking these stories takes care of you.

Kindle users who have an existing subscription to the Times, however, are just fine.  While those who have subscriptions on other eReading devices are out of luck, the NYT plans to acknowledge all Kindle subscribers and allow them complete access to the site along the lines of that being offered to people receiving the paper at home.  Not a bad deal.

While many are skeptical about how useful a move this will be for the Times, especially in light of their previous unsuccessful attempt to create a for-pay section of their website, the extremely open nature of the plan is intriguing and shows an awareness of what brings readers to them in the first place.  Everybody who wants to will be able to share with their friends.  The site itself keeps track of things for you completely openly.  You even get access to an extra five free articles a day beyond the set limit when you use a search engine to find them.

I can completely understand wanting to incentivize the subscription plans, but it’s hard not to acknowledge that there’s a great deal of bending going on to make sure this isn’t a big inconvenience that could drive readers away.  Even those unlucky enough to have to deal with non- Kindle eReader NYT subscriptions will likely still get everything they want with little trouble.

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.

Google Releases a New News Reading Interface

Google Book Store

Google Book Store

Google has unveiled their newest addition to Google news: Fast Flip.  Fast Flip is really just a nice, snazzy interface to browse through Google news feeds, but the best way to describe it is to have you try it yourself.  So go ahead and check it out a bit before reading on.

Fast Flip seems like it’s trying to be the end-all solution for newspapers’ transition to digital.  Users can quickly browse and scan articles until they find something they want to read in depth, and then they can open the article itself.  It’s a perfect example of mimicking, and even improving, some aspects of the hand held tree paper experience.

Fast Flip has also been optimized for Android and the iPhone, which means that smart phone owners can comfortably browse their news on the go.  Google’s emphasis on mobile devices means that Fast Flip is, in a way, a competitor to current eReaders.  Instead of paying for a subscription to one newspaper and reading it on a device like the Kindle (or the Kindle iPhone app), many people may prefer the ability to skim across articles that Fast Flip provides.  Really, it’s this kind of interface innovation that is going to help newspapers stay afloat in the digital age and it’s now up to the eReaders to respond.  Some sort of application like this on a Kindle DX would be a killer news app.  Sure, the slow refresh rate of eInk would mean no fancy transitions, but a sampling of articles across that huge screen would help close the gap between digital and print news.  Let’s hope Amazon can produce something like this with the next generation of Kindles.

Kindle May Have Newspaper Trouble in Australia

Fairfax Media, one of Australia’s large media companies, has rejected the Kindle and decided to look elsewhere for e-delivery.  Even worse for Amazon, this announcement comes on the heels of another Australian Media company’s public dissatisfaction with the Kindle.  Rupert Murdoch has voiced his concern over Amazon’s business model, and it seems that News Corporation will simply skip the Kindle with its Australian holdings.

As the eReader market grows in Australia, it looks like electronic newspaper subscriptions will follow a more traditional model where subscribes subscribe from the newspaper itself.  But since newspapers are only a fraction of the Kindle’s revenue, I can’t imagine that this news alone will stop the Kindle from breaking into the Australian market.  First and foremost, the Kindle platform is an entertainment medium designed to work off of Amazon’s existing status as a leading book retailer.  Being able to read newspapers and periodicals is a nice feature, but books remains the Kindle’s strong suit.

Even if some of the major papers bail on the Kindle, the device will have popularity with those who like to read.  If other online publishers take off in a way that could hurt the Kindle, Amazon needs to merely allow their device to read other formats.  They might not take a cut of the sales, but their are plenty of other revenue streams for Amazon.

Rupert Murdoch is Threatening to Leave the Kindle

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch, as the head of the crazy huge News Corporation, has threatened to take his publications off of the Kindle.  Since News Corporation owns many major newspapers, such as the Wall Street Journal and The Times, this could have a devastating effect on the Kindle, especially as it moves into more countries.

The disagreement seems to be over revenue.  It looks like Amazon takes a higher percentage of the sales than Murdoch would like. But it also seems like Murdoch just isn’t happy with the general business model.  He’s angry that Amazon won’t release the customers’ names because “Kindle treats them as their subscribers, not as ours.”  News Corporation is also currently negotiating with Sony to put their content on the Sony Reader.

To me, this just seems as if it’s Murdoch simply trying to show some muscle.  Right now, News Corporation’s main asset on the Kindle is the Wall Street Journal: a publication that is essential to many involved in business.  Threatening to put the Wall Street Journal exclusively on the Sony Reader is the same thing as threatening to take away a large demographic with tons of disposable income.  Apparently, Murdoch wants to bully Amazon until they agree to distribute content on exactly his terms.

Amazon may be forced to bow to News Corporation on this issue.  But if they decide to create a special agreement specifically for this publisher, it could open up the floodgates.  I could see other major media conglomerates trying to negotiate their individual revenue cuts, and threatening to take away vast swaths of content if they don’t get their way.