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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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December 2016
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Has the Kindle Killed the Nook eReader?

While the Nook line is clearly among the most popular eReaders ever to hit stores, arguably second only to the Kindle, it seems that the expense of keeping current has proven too much for Barnes & Noble.  They recently announced that there is an interest in breaking off the Nook and its associated business from the company as a whole.  There is no real word yet as to what the future of the eReading line will be, as things are still being explored at the moment, but B&N is blaming recent greater than expected losses on their investments in the Nook (especially the Nook Simple Touch which has completely failed to meet sales expectations) and as such seems to have good reason to be dropping it.  The big question for users will probably have to be whether this is actually a positive even for Amazon.  There are good reasons to be skeptical and hope that somebody comes along willing to pick up the expenses.

Nobody would really mind always being able to know which eReader is the best to buy, of course.  If all that is really left for users in the US is the Kindle, it makes things easier at the store.  The lack of competition that such an arrangement relies upon, though, is problematic.  Look at how things stand now simply from a hardware standpoint.  The Nook Simple Touch, while tied to what I personally would consider the less compelling platform, is definitely the superior device.  The Kindle Touch is nice and has a few advantages of its own that make it a close race, but the lack of physical page turn buttons and the light color of the case both work against it.  You wouldn’t think something as simple as the color would have such a huge effect on perceptions, but look at all of the complaints that have come up about contrast for the new Kindles despite having essentially identical screens when measured carefully.  That said, neither would have gotten to where they are today so fast if there hadn’t been the steady trumping of each model from either company as it appeared.

Demand, fortunately, has never been higher.  This means that there is likely to be some other interested party willing to pick up the Nook line should Barnes & Noble give up.  In a way this would be a particularly positive change since it would introduce the possibility of finally seeing an international release of the currently US-only product.  Booksellers tend to welcome any advantage that will help them keep afloat despite competition from Amazon, so finding sales partners wouldn’t be particularly difficult given the proper incentives and marketting.

Ideally I would love to see Google or Kobo pick up where B&N leaves off.  Not many other companies besides Apple have both the media and hardware expertise necessary to keep up with the Kindle and just selling what has been developed so far without developing new products would be the end of the line.  This assumes that the eReading line is done as far as B&N is concerned, but things increasingly point that way.  We’ll see where things go over the course of the next couple quarters, but time will tell.

How the Kindle Can Benefit Independent Bookstores

I was reading an article a couple of days ago that I thought made a good point.  It discussed how despite the surge of e-books and e-readers in recent years, there is still a place for print books.  On a personal note, I can still appreciate reading a print book from time to time despite owning a Kindle Touch, iPad and iPhone.

There seems to be a general consensus that print is on its way out, and getting an e-reader means you’ll never read print books again.  I think instead of replacing print books, digital books will just be adding to the types of formats that people can use to read.  Digital books allow more font adjustments and lighting, so they offer a more customized reading experience.

With the rise of e-readers including the Amazon Kindle, and the e-books that go along with it, many of the major book chains have faltered or have gone out of business.  Borders declared bankruptcy earlier this year, and Barnes & Noble is not doing all too great.  It does have the Nook in its arsenal however, and it has definitely provided healthy competition for the Kindle.

I think the foreseeable future still holds a big place for both print and digital materials.  Print books give a certain feel that digital books cannot.  There is really something for everyone.  You have print, e-readers, and most recently, tablets.  The Kindle Fire has taken the tablet market by a storm, and is taking a hit at the iPad sales already.

The thing that has hurt the big chain bookstores so much is that Amazon offers books in all formats so much cheaper.  Independent bookstores can also offer used books at competitive prices.  They can also offer a sense of warmth and community that you don’t get with a larger bookstore.

So, smaller bookstores have the potential to shine.  It is all a matter of addressing what the customers want.  I’ve always dreamed of owning a used book store where people can come to read, work, or just gather.  Maybe one day soon there will be more independent bookstores that sell both e-books and print books.

 

 

 

A Tribute to Michael Hart, Founder of Project Gutenberg

Michael Hart, the founder of ebooks and Project Gutenberg, died on September 6, 2011 at the age of 64. His death will be a huge loss for the digital book and literary community. However, the work he has already done has set the groundwork in the ebook world. Other members of the literary community will have to continue his mission to provide global literacy. Hart founded Project Gutenberg in 1971, and it is the longest running literary project recorded.

Project Gutenberg currently offers over 36,000 public domain ebooks that are available on the Kindle, iPad, PC and other computers or portable devices that allow ePub, HTML, or Simple Text. All of the books are free, and there’s no cost to join. A wealth of information is literally at your fingertips. The information is top quality.

Hart’s ebook idea began when he typed up a copy of the Declaration of Independence on his computer and sent it to others in the network at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  This was barely after the internet was created.

Hart’s literary impact was profound because through ebooks, he opened up literature to the global audience. Project Gutenberg currently has ebooks available in 60 languages. It is also a huge asset to libraries and research. The longevity of this project proves that it the ability to adapt right along with the rapid changes in technology.

E-book readers such as the Kindle, Nook and Kobo are just part of the progression towards better literacy. They add portability and easy access to millions of ebooks. The Kindle has made life much easier for people who can’t read small print through its font size adjustments feature.

One of Michael Hart’s goals was to reach out to children. This goal is being realized as more children’s books are being added to ebook collections, and as Kindles and other e-book readers are being introduced in the schools. The lure of cool gadgets are enticing children who normally do not like reading, to consider it.

It always amazes me when I read about how long some technologies have really been around. I have only thought of ebooks being a new, twenty-first century invention. But, in fact, they have a rather long, rich history. Project Gutenberg dates all the way back to 1971, before computers really became a household item. E-books were around 36 years before the Kindle was even invented!

So, a big thank you goes out to Michael Hart for being such a champion for literacy, and for making information accessible to a much greater, and more diverse audience.

What To Consider About A Kindle For College

It’s that time of year again and students new and old are heading back to college for the fall.  Now, more than ever, having an eReader just makes sense for anybody serious about their education.  That said, with so many options on the market it can be hard to choose.  Kindle or Nook?  eReader or Tablet?  Skip it all and just get a laptop, since there are eReading apps anyway?  When trying to decide, there are a few factors that are really important.

First, determine what your eBook needs will be.  Students new to college can expect significant introductory coursework.  This often means older, more widely read works of literature and basic textbooks.  Generally this means extended reading of the literature and textbooks only pulled out to work through assignments.  For that combination, I recommend an eReader like the Kindle or Nook combined with a PC app for textbook reading (They’re only going to be opened for a few minutes at a time anyway).  As always, check the list of required texts to make sure this is feasible before buying.  This combination has the added advantage of paying for itself in savings very quickly since a Kindle will only cost you $114 and many commonly used books can be found for free.

In terms of more advanced students, the individual needs will determine whether use of an eReader is feasible.  Many technical texts require both extended study and full color diagrams to make sense.  The current monochrome limitations of the Kindle would make it less than useful for this.  If the program in question requires extensive illustrated textbook reference, you probably don’t need one.  If you will be spending much time using academic text references like JSTOR, or focusing on purely text-based studies, the Kindle makes perfect sense.

Assuming you have an idea what kind of product you need, the next step is choosing the particular model.  Availability is not really a concern with the Amazon Kindle always including free shipping and the Barnes & Noble Nook available in all of their local stores and many of the college book stores they service.  For the most part, this is a matter of personal preference.  Both devices accomplish everything you would expect from a reading device and neither has a clear advantage over the other.  For a hands-on comparison, many Best Buy stores will have both devices side by side.

I do not recommend using nothing but a laptop PC if the goal is to focus on eBooks.  Extended reading on LCD screens can be uncomfortable at best, and the potential for distraction is far higher than on an eReader.

Similarly, there are no circumstances under which I would consider an iPad a valid substitute for either a laptop or an eReader.  In terms of reading, they fall short due to the short battery life and a back-lit display that can be hard on the eyes during long study sessions.  In classes, the potential for distraction is far higher than on something like a Kindle, which has led to many instructors being uncomfortable even having the devices present in the classroom.  They also certainly do not manage to work as well as a laptop for composition or presentation preparation.  Students will be forced to perform necessary tasks elsewhere.

Whatever the needs, make sure to keep in mind both the Kindle eText rental service and public domain titles available through the Kindle Store (or just Project Gutenberg) for free.  Making use of eBooks will save you money, if you are careful, even accounting for the costs of the reading device.

Office Max Gets the Kindle

Starting August 7, Office Max will start carrying the Kindle. It is the latest major retail chain to offer the e-reader. It joins Best Buy, Target, Radio Shack, Staples, and most recently, Toys R Us, in selling the Kindle.

It is not clear whether the office supply retailer will be selling both the Kindle 3 and Kindle DX. The Kindle 3 with special offers is the bestselling version, so that is a shoo in.

Only July 30, Office Max started carrying the Nook, which just lowered its price to $139 for its touch screen e-reader. This puts the devices in direct competition and gives Amazon the nudge to get a touch screen version of its bestselling e-reader out there.

The Nook has given the Kindle a pretty big run for its money in recent months, beating it for the first time in sales ratings. I can’t wait to see what Amazon has in store for the new Kindle lineup. I’m sure they will amp up their efforts to take the lead back.

So now we have the Kindle hitting a variety of consumers: business, education, parents and children, and of course online shoppers.

Office Max will offer the Kindle just in time to hit the back to school crowd, which is perfect considering this retailer sells school supplies.

Toys R Us to Sell the Kindle Starting July 31

Toys R Us joins Target, Staples, Best Buy, Radio Shack and AT&T in selling Kindles in their stores.  So, from these stores, the e-reader reaches out to consumers in electronics, business, wireless, and now parents and children.

Why sell Kindles in a toy store?  It sounded kind of farfetched to me at first.  The e-reader has started to reach out to children as an educational tool.  K-12 schools are starting to experiment with using e-readers for textbooks and for other educational needs.  I’ve seen articles floating around that show that school libraries are testing e-readers and tablets for use.

Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are targeting the back to school crowd this year.  Office Max will be selling the Nook around the same time.

It also catches the eye of parents who shop at the toy store.  Just puts the Kindle out there in yet another way.  It will be well positioned for the holiday crowd on Black Friday.

The major shopping times are going to be overflowing with new gadgets this year.  The thought is kind of overwhelming.  But, the competition will be fierce, which means awesome prices.

Toys ‘R Us will offer the Kindle 3G and Wi-Fi, as well as the Kindle Wi-Fi with Special Offers.  In addition to the device itself, there will be a good number of accessories available.

I remember, just a couple of years ago, the Kindle was only limited to online sales.  It is now reaching out to brick and mortar consumers of all ages and interests.  Those who were skittish about buying online have a lot of venues to choose from.

The popular e-reader can be used as an important tool for education in several ways.  The lure of a cool new gadget gets kids excited about reading.  Kindle games and applications have been developed to help kids with learning math and spelling.  There are also interactive Kindle books available that are packed with adventure.

Lastly, the lightweight e-reader is portable and fits easily into a backpack.  I think the Kindle can be used as an important tool in encouraging all children to enjoy reading.  It offers so many types of reading material, from books to magazines, and even graphic novels.  There is something for everyone.

 

Kobo Opens German Store

Kobo, the e-reader that Borders has partnered with, doesn’t have the successful reputation that the Kindle and Nook have, but it does have an advantage on the international scene.  The e-reader has had a global focus from the beginning.  This would be a great niche to excel in.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has a library of about 25, 000 German titles, but Kobo has launched an e-book store that boasts a whopping 80,000 German titles.  I was surprised to find that Germany has the 2nd largest e-book market in the world.  The United States is the first.

This is a competition to watch because, in order to succeed on a global scale, an e-reader needs to have a robust collection of digital material available.  Amazon is certainly able to do this.  They just need to establish good relationships with foreign authors and publishers.  Here is some healthy competition giving Amazon a wake up call at another angle.

In the past, I’ve noticed a lot of reviewers from other countries have been frustrated with the restrictions on various Kindle products because they’re not accessible.  Downloading books outside of the US is pretty costly.

I’ve always associated Kobo with the Borders book chain.  Borders is currently being threatened by liquidators and will most likely flop here soon.  When I saw this, I wondered, well what about Kobo?

Turns out, Kobo is a completely separate entity than Borders and is a financially secure, Canadian based company.  So, nothing will be lost if Borders does go down.  Kobo’s newest e-reader, the Kobo Touch, along with the Nook Touch both have an edge that the Kindle doesn’t have…yet.  But, that is about to change.  Good to see these e-readers try to outrank each other and get better and better. The price drops certainly don’t hurt either!

What I’d really like to see is a global collaboration of sorts.  Access to books shouldn’t be restricted by travel.  That cuts down the portability of an e-reader.  Technology has connected society on a global scale.  It’d be cool if everyone could have access to a diverse collection of books from different languages.

 

 

 

 

So Many Gadgets! What Do We Choose?

As I read the article about the new Kindle upgrades coming up in October, I started to feel really overwhelmed.  There is so much to choose from these days.  So, I thought I’d break it down a bit.  It is all a matter of what type of operating system you prefer (Android or Apple iOS) and what uses you have for your devices.

E-Readers

The Amazon Kindle has been out since 2007 and has evolved a great deal over the last four years to compete with the growing e-reader market: Nook, Kobo, Sony, and most recently, Google’s iriver Story.  It has been interesting to watch how obvious the competition is which all of the companies dropping prices and mocking each others’ style.  Note the latest touchscreen craze.

Then we have the NookColor, a mixed tablet and e-reader that has succeeded in knocking the Kindle off of it its pedestal.

In terms of e-readers, to me, the Kindle wins hands down.  I’ve really enjoyed my Kindle and am looking forward to a new touchscreen version.  Amazon has excellent customer service, and shows no sign of crashing and burning anytime soon, unlike Barnes & Noble and Borders.  If prices keep dropping the way they have, they’ll be pretty cheap here soon.  Now, if only we can stop the rising e-book prices.  But, library lending and all of the free and reduced priced e-books available out there might just take care of that.

Tablets

The iPad wins here.  I am not an Apple fiend by any means, but like the Kindle, the iPad has been around for over a year and offers a lot of different apps for various purposes.  I use mine as a laptop basically.  I also love that I can enlarge the text so easily.  Give me a year and I might be saying something different, but for now, I go for the iPad.  Other tablets to watch: Acer Iconia, Samsung Galaxy Tab, and of course the Kindle Tablet.

Why have a tablet AND an e-reader?  I don’t think of my Kindle as a computer. iBooks does not have nearly the book collection that Amazon does, and reading on the iPad Kindle app does not feel the same.  I can still curl up with the Kindle in bed or on the couch, and it isn’t hard on the eyes.  I love how both Kindle and iPad can fit easily into a tote bag.  Plus, e-readers are getting to be cheap enough that it wouldn’t be a huge setback to have both.

And then there are smartphones…but that market is a whole niche of its own.

 

 

Kindle Tablet to Hit the Market in October

I haven’t seen an official Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) announcement yet, but according to the Wall Street Journal, the Kindle Tablet and two other Kindle upgrades are set to arrive in October.  The Kindle Tablet that has been under speculation for months will directly compete with the iPad, while a new touch version of the Kindle will compete with the Nook and Kobo Touch editions.

To be honest, in a matter of personal preference, I am more excited about the possibility of a touch version of the Kindle because I’m not a big fan of the keyboard.  Whenever this does get release, I’ll be ready to upgrade my Kindle.  The keys are way too small and somewhat difficult to press.  However, when the touch version does arrive, there will need to be some kind of audio enabled to make sure it is accessible for people with disabilities.

As for the tablet.  This is exciting news, but the iPad has a pretty solid hold on the tablet market, and is said to be successful on into the next year.  So, I think that it will be awhile before the Kindle Tablet will make a huge dent in iPad sales.  There are also a number of other tablets to choose from as well.  Although, I will say, a much cheaper Kindle Tablet might just give Amazon a good start in the tablet game, as will the well liked Android operating system.  I see the iPad to the tablet market as the Kindle is to the e-reader market.  They are both the inventors of their own niches, and were the only ones to hold their niches for a good length of time.

Lastly, there will be an upgrade on the current version of the Kindle.  It will be similar in structure, but include better features and a lower price.  Prices are dropping constantly.  Amazon just dropped the Kindle 3G Special Offers version from $164 to $139.  So, perhaps a $99 or less version of the Kindle is in the near future?  We can only hope!

Kindle Culture

Stephen Peters, a longtime popular culture writer, has a book called Kindle Culture that I think is worth reading.  It is a quick read, and has a lighthearted, easygoing writing style.  It is interesting to read how the Kindle has changed lives.  I was particularly intrigued with the story about how one woman was able to read for the first time in 10 years.  The Kindle has done wonders for people with print disabilities, and is much more cost effective than standard assistive technology.  I can attest that as a visually impaired Kindle user, the font size adjustments have been a lifesaver.

The Kindle has impacted many aspects of peoples’ lives from increased portability to profitable business ventures.  Many individuals and companies have created covers, accessories, and now applications for the Kindle.  You will also find a number of forums and blogs that united Kindle lovers from various backgrounds around the world.

I like this reviewer’s point about how it is neat to see the concrete effects that the Kindle has had on people.

Michelle R

“Kindle Culture explores the boards, merch, and groups that have sprung up to worship and to profit from The Kindle. There’s a certain charm in reading about boards you frequent and people you “know.” It’s touching to read how the device has helped disabled people who’ve lost the ability to read traditional books. As a fan of the device, much of this is a vindication, because it’s hard not to be touched when you see concrete proof that your e-reader has the power to change lives.

I admit that this book is kind of dated.  It was published in 2009, but I think it is still relevant because it shows the impact that the e-reader has made in just two short years since release.  One of the “questions” that the Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) description of Kindle Culture brings up is the effect that the “kindle killers” will have on the e-reading device.  Two years since this book’s release, the Kindle is still the best selling e-reader.  So it has definitely held its own among all of the Nooks, iPads, Kobo, Sony e-readers, and other e-readers that are out there.

In theory, Peters could rewrite Kindle Culture about every couple of years due to the rapid changing pace of e-reader technology and competition.  The “Kindle Culture” has grown exponentially since this book was written through the price drops, e-reader market competition, upcoming Library Lending program, Kindle applications and many more.