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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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Mangle: Manga Meets the Kindle

For anyone interested in manga, there is a free, open source software available called Mangle.  Manga is a series of Japanese cartoons or comics that cover all genres such as action, comedy, romance, sports, science fiction, fantasy and others.  Manga has become a huge hit in Japan and worldwide.  Usually the comics are printed in black and white, but there are a few color versions floating around.

Mangle was created by Alex Yatskov several years ago for the older generation version of the Kindle.  This software works really well with the Kindle 3.  Click here for downloading instructions, and for images of software demonstrations.

The Kindle 3’s improved screen makes graphics much easier to read.  Graphics have been a common complaint among Kindle users, but that seems to be improving.  You can zoom in or out and rotate the images as desired.  Manga pages in the physical books are small, but there are a lot of them.  More pages take up space, so transferring them to a digital format solves that issue.

The other cool thing about providing manga in a digital format is that it attracts an audience who might not like to read regular books.  Some people just enjoy reading a story through graphics rather than words.  It would be awesome if this option could be provided on all of the Kindle platforms: PC, Mac, Android, iPhone and iPad.  When I think about it though, the black and white aspect of manga might just be a better fit for the Kindle device itself.

There is a good selection of manga available in the Kindle Books section on Amazon.  A lot of them seem to be either in the romance or horror category.   Anyone know of any particularly good novels they would recommend?  I have been introduced to the world of manga, but would like to hear about what great titles are out there to check out.

Kindle Software Gets an AV Upgrade

Proving once again, in case we’d forgotten, that there’s more to the Kindle as a platform than simply the great eReader hardware, Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) has upgraded their software for the iPad, iPhone, and iPad Touch to include audio/visual integration in eBooks.  The Kindle Store now includes a section labeled as “Kindle Editions With Audio-Visual” that highlights these new products.  Right now the pickings are understandably slim, it being a new type of product, but already there are travel books including the popular Rick Steves: Paris, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes for the bakers among you, a copy of Knitting for Dummies that actually shows you on-screen what to do, and more.  Also, while it’s not my hobby I would imagine that bird enthusiasts will get far more out of the audio-enabled Bird Songs: 250 Northern American Birds in Song now that there’s an edition that plays back what each of these songs sounds like.  You don’t have to be an enthusiast to know a good idea when you see it.

This is an interesting idea that will likely go a long way toward keeping the Kindle software on top in the portion of the eBook customer base that relies on Apple(NASDAQ:AAPL) for all their media consumption needs.  The Kindle itself, of course, will not be receiving this functionality on current devices, but it does raise some question about the future of the hardware.  Will Amazon be putting a video-capable screen of some sort on a future upgrade?  Right now most signs point to a negative response, but long-term options are always a possibility.  eInk types of displays are always evolving and who wouldn’t want to be able to integrate some form of A/V experience if it were possible without sacrificing the superior screen and battery life?

Kindle App. vs. Apple iBook App.

PC World has a good article that compares the Kindle application and the Apple iBook application.  The Kindle is not a device, but a platform, that runs on multiple devices such as the Blackberry, iPhone, PC and Mac.  That is one advantage that Amazon has over Apple because currently,

Kindle for iPad

Kindle for iPad

Apple’s new iBook application is only limited to the iPad.  Amazon recently unveiled plans to provide an application for the Apple iPad, which demonstrates that Amazon’s strives to reach out to the widest audience possible.

Considering that the iPad is a newly launched device, and that the price tag is pretty hefty at $499, Apple’s choice to keep the iBook application exclusive does not appear to be a very smart one.  However, eventually, there will most likely be an iBook application available for the iPhone and iPod touch.  It will be interesting to see if Apple branches out to allow an iBook application on Blackberry and Android.

Another marketing strategy that Amazon has going for it in terms of the Kindle platform is the amount of e-books available to download.  The iBook application only has 60,000 titles currently available.  This number will surely increase over time, but Amazon is ahead of the game at the moment with its much larger selection  of 450,000 titles available for readers.

According  to ReadWriteWeb’s article on comparing the two applications, the Kindle application is simple to use and doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles that the iBook application uses.  For example, the user sees one page at a time on the Kindle application, whereas with the iBook application, the user can see two pages at a time and the pages turn in a more “engaging” format.  From a user’s standpoint, simplicity is key to create an easy, pleasurable reading experience.



Opening the Kindle to Third Party Developers

The Kindle is great for what it does, but it is by design somewhat limited to Amazon’s vision.  I’ve written on this blog before about allowing third party developers on the Kindle.  It looks like with the upcoming holiday season, talk over whether Amazon should release an SDK has started again.

New York Times makes the argument that since Amazon won’t likely release any new hardware (Both the Kindle 2 and DX are new enough that they’ve never been holiday gifts), it may be beneficial for them to find some new way to innovate before the holidays.  Creating an SDK where anyone could make and sell applications would not only increase the Kindle’s possibilities, but also give it a sort of iPhone recognition for innovation.

Of course, Amazon hasn’t already done this for a reason.  Perhaps over the worries of the publishers, or fears of piracy that could result from opening up the ecosystem, Amazon has not allowed third parties into the Kindle.  But here is where the iPhone example really applies.  iPhone apps undergo a nearly draconian review process, yet the iPhone and its apps continue to be a commercial success.  Amazon could easily decide to create a Kindle app marketplace where they vetoed any programs that, say, abused the wireless or allowed ePub on the device.  Some people would definitely gripe about the restrictions, but the sdk would still be an overall success.  Like the NYTimes article suggests, apps could be created for medical or other specialized niches.  The apps would be in high enough demand and would still be okay with Amazon.

One easy entry into Kindle apps could be board games like chess, go, checkers, monopoly, etc. These can be computationally light, especially if you are playing against the Internet server or another human, cause minimal wireless traffic and look well on Kindle’s eInk display. Right now there are two games on Kindle DX – minesweeper and Gomoku. More can be easily added – either free or for a charge. The ecosystem need not be as open as iPhone from the start and can still bring Kindle success. Lets not forget that even for iPhone it took a year for App store to materialize.

Will this really happen? In my opinion it’s a coin toss. Amazon has to come up with something to generate some Kindle buzz this holiday season when competition is stepping on it’s heels. And I’m pretty sure they will. But it might not be an app store.

Also, just wanted to say thanks to the New York Times for linking to Blog Kindle.  Hello any new readers!

E-book industry in one picture

If you are new to eBook industry and would like to catch up on all of the relationships between different Amazon Kindle and other different devices and companies in the e-Book universe. This picture created by techflash.com is just the right thing for you. There is also PDF version available that has every arrow linking a related story on techflash.com. You can download it by clicking on the picture below. It will really be worth your time.

eBook Universe by techflash.com

eBook Universe by techflash.com

I guess this picture really is worth a thousand words… Great work, TechFlash!

Kindle For iPhone and iPod Touch

As if recent release of Kindle 2 wasn’t enough… Kindle for iPhone application was just released to iTunes marketplace and is available for download! What it does is it brings most of the Amazon Kindle functionality to iPhone or iPod Touch. The application is free to download and can be installed either via iTunes (click here if you have iTunes already installed) or directly through App Store…

kindle-for-iphone-app-store

Once the application is installed – you need to enter your Amazon.com username and password and within seconds you have all the books that you’ve purchased before for your Kindle available in “Archived Items”…

kindle-for-iphone-splash

Couple more taps on the touchscreen and you can start reading away.

kindle-for-iphone-ebook

Ok and now when the hype is gone lets be a bit more specific. The new app can do:

  • Download and display all textual books that are available in the Kindle Store.
  • Synchronize bookmarks, annotations, reading positions etc via the WhisperSync.
  • Add new bookmarks.
  • Text is displayed very clearly and is readable even at the smallest font size (it fact when smallest font size is contains almost as much text as my Kindle which I have set to second smallest font.
  • Once application is registered iPhone immediately becomes selectable in the combo-boxes on the Amazon.com so you can send purchased books to the device.

And now on what it can’t do:

  • It looks like periodicals a missing. At least WSJ that I’m subscribed to didn’t show up anywhere in the application.
  • There is no text-to-speech
  • Regrettably there is no special interface to buy more books. It has to be done via PC or iPhone Safari browser which is doable but not the most comfortable experience you would have. Unfortunately using Amazon Mobile application (also free) is not an option since it only allows adding Kindle books to wish-list. Hopefully Amazon will update it soon enough.
  • There doesn’t seem to be any dictionary functionality.

To sum it up: Way cool, with a room for improvement. While it would seem that releasing such an application would hurt Kindle sales, personally I thing that it would not and overall it would be benefical to Amazon.com. And here is why:

  • While the text is clear and readable, reading from iPhone is not the best experience.
  • iPhone is much less autonomous than Kindle because it’s not meant to run long on a single charge but more importantly because when you are reading an eBook a back-lit display is drawing a lot of power from the battery. There is no way you can read 20,000 pages on a single charge and this was a major selling point to me and many other Kindle owners.
  • So in no way iPhone will be able to even come close to replacing Kindle.
  • On the other hand iPhone is a great opportunity because it is an undisputed leader by number of e-commerce transactions that are initiated and completed using it. This is because it provides excellent mobile browsing experience. You can actually navigate the web and shop with it comfortably.
  • There were 10M+ iPhones sold during 2008 alone. Releasing this application gives Amazon better access to this audience. And by defintion this audience likes to consume information and spend money on gadgets. So I imagine quite a few would first buy a couple of books to their iPhone to do some quick lookup or to read something during some long commute and eventually would buy Amazon Kindle to have a better reading experience with these books.

Another reason I happy about this realease is that in the modern world of proprietary mutually incompatible and overly restrictive DRM systems that hurt honest users much more than pirates having a seemless easy way to access useful copyrighted and legally purchased content across several platforms from two different manufactureres is a step in the right direction.

kindle-and-iphone

Reading on the iPhone vs reading on the Kindle

iPhone Wordcount Kindle Wordcount

The images above are from a test conducted by Cartwright Reed, with the iPhone on the left and Kindle on the right showing The Stand by Stephen King.

From Cartwright Reed

The smaller, brighter iPhone screen is showing the same number of words as the Kindle. The Kindle is the premiere ebook reader, but I think that the eReader/iPhone combination is compelling. Listening to music while reading off the iPhone screen is a great experience.

The Kindle is still the winner when you’re buying ebooks, though. I bought a few titles from Fictionwise and eReader from the iPhone, but it’s not nearly as easy as Kindle’s Whispernet experience. Of course, you can only go to one bookstore on the Kindle :-).

What is interesting is that the iPhone can squeeze the same amount of words onto the screen as the Kindle, however I suspect you will be squinting quite hard as you try and read the the tiny font on the iPhone. The only solution would be to increase the font size which means less words per screen, which means more page flipping.

Source: Cartwright Reed

Here come the iPhone/iPod Touch e-book readers

Apple iPhone 3G

You may of heard that over the weekend Apple unveiled it’s new iPhone 3G device, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the device, mostly because of the software, the actual hardware is not that impressive and mostly includes improvements that the original iPhone should have shipped with in the first place. The iPhone 3G comes in at a impressive $199 to buy, however you will be paying more in the long term compared to the classic iPhone with higher network subscription charges.

Now how does the new iPhone effect us Kindlers? well… Apple has done something remarkable with the software – they have opened it up! which is impressive considering we are talking about Apple here. All this has allowed third party developers to create e-book apps for the iPhone 3G and has turned the iPhone into a e-book reader.

There are already a couple of iPhone e-book reading apps out already, the iPhone Bookshelf is one which supports multiple formats.

Another promising e-book app is Stanza. Stanza is an app which lets you read e-book which are stored on your iPhone and e-books online, make sure you check out the demo at the bottom of the page. Stanza can also read files in the ePub format, which many other apps are able to work with, perhaps the Kindle will eventually support ePub aswell one day.

The only annoying thing about reading an e-book on the iPhone is that each e-book comes as its own individual app, with its own icon on the iPhone home screen, Apple could have done a better job of categorising e-books or even better creating their own e-book reading App.

There is still some speculation on whether  Apple will create a dedicated e-book reading device, but for now we know e-books are on a Apple device through third party apps, if you couple this with rumours that Apple is in touch with major publishers this would support the theory that Apple is working on its own e-book reader, or at least a e-book store.

Will the touch screen make it easier to read an e-book? I don’t know since I don’t own a iPhone or iPod Touch, but I suspect that it might be a bit easier to read with the iPhone, swiping the screen to turn the page seems a more natural gesture than pressing a button, however you will be using both hands, whereas with the Kindle you need only use one. With the Kindle accidentally turning the page can be quite frustrating, I cant see it happening on the iPhone.

You can watch our buddy Walt Mossberg review of the Apple iPhone 3G in the video below, he mentions the e-book reading capability of the device.

Can Apple with its new iPhone 2.0 software challenge Amazon?

First year Kindle sales vs. popular gadgets first year sales: How does the Kindle compare?

amazon kindle first year sales vs apple ipod, iphone, rim blackberry, palm pilot, motorola razr v3 and nintendo gameboy

We have all heard this past week that Amazon is expected to shift around 189,000 – 600,000 units by the end of the year – then 2.2 million units by 2010, but how does this compare with other similarly ‘revolutionary’ devices in their first year in the market?

Silicon Ally Insider has compiled the numbers for us and as we can see from the comparison – if Amazon manages to hit expectations – it puts the Kindle in the same league as the first generation Blackberry’s and iPod’s. Now consider that the Blackberry and iPods are leaders in their field were both met with the same ridicule and suspicion that the Kindle is facing today. So if Amazon keeps plugging away, ignores the critics and keeps improving the device, by the time we get to the 3rd generation Kindle those reports which claimed that the Kindle will be the next iPod might not be so wrong after all.

Also of note might be Zune sales, which after a year sold just over 1 million units. (wiki)

Can Kindle really become the next iPod? please leave your thoughts and comments below.

Source: Silicon Ally Insider via Gizmodo

Kindle Photo of the Day #4: Kindle on the Train

kindle

I love this image, is this the future? This picture was take by andyi

If you have an image that you would like to submit for Kindle Photo of the Day then please get in touch! you can send the image via email to email address – please make sure you include your name and a link to your site.