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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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May 2018
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Biography of Steve Jobs

I am currently reading Steve Jobs, a biography of the late CEO of Apple by Walter Isaacson.  It hit the bestseller’s list pretty quickly after Jobs’ death earlier this fall.  The hardcover edition is really heavy, so if you can get the Kindle edition, your arms will probably thank you.  On another note, you also wouldn’t have to worry about being startled by the creepy book cover on the Kindle version either.

This book really gets into the nitty gritty of daily life with Jobs, his life, and Apple.  Jobs started Apple with his engineer friend Steve Wozniak.  Wozniak was the one that put the products together, while Jobs was the one who handled the marketing and sales aspect.

Jobs’ most talked about quality in this book was how focused and driven he was.  He did not stop anywhere short of perfection, and that is putting it mildly.  That is certainly reflected in the quality of Apple’s products like the Mac, iPad, iPhone, etc.

The biography definitely points out the quirky aspects of Jobs’ personality, like his obsession with dieting and other extremes.  He practiced Zen, and was interested in the Buddhist philosophy.  It all goes back to how driven he was about things he wanted.  If you’re familiar with Apple at all, you’ll know that as a culture, it is very private, and Jobs himself is a very private man. This biography is the chance to get a glimpse into what really went on behind that mask of privacy.

Isaacson did over 40 interviews with Jobs over a course of two years, and also interviewed over 100 of his family, friends and peers.  So, that demonstrates how much thought and detail went into writing this biography.

At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.   – Amazon

I am in awe at how much has changed as far as technology goes.  But, if you look at the Apple II versus all Apple products now, they still remain products of Jobs’ vision of perfection.  They also are very user focused.  Apple has opened up technology to so many people who otherwise would not be able to use it.

Steve Jobs will keep me occupied for awhile, but so far I’ve really enjoyed it.  I think it also helps having some technical knowledge. But even for those who aren’t technical, they can still appreciate reading about one of the most influential men in the technology world.

Best Places to find Free Kindle Books

There are many options on where to find free Kindle books.  Amazon has dedicated a page to list all of the options.  The only catch is that you really have to be diligent about tracking the special promotions.  They disappear quickly.

First off, the Kindle Store has limited time promotions on different books.  I’ve found some good ones through the Top 100 Free Kindle books list.  This list is updated hourly, so if you see one you like, grab it immediately.  the list includes popular free games such as Pixel Perfect Holiday Puzzles.

The free books offered by the Kindle Store are mostly romantic or religious themed.  But, if you take some time to look through the list, you can find some books with a good storyline.  It is a great opportunity to explore new authors who don’t get the recognition from the big name publishers.

Pre 1923 classics can be found in a variety of places.  Project Gutenberg is one of the original sources for free e-books.  It currently has a collection that includes roughly 30,000 titles.  You can download the books to your Kindle via USB.

Amazon’s free book page provides links to Project Gutenberg, as well as other internet based e-books.  Open Library, ManyBooks.net, and Internet Archive offer up to millions of titles.  For web based e-books and limited previews, check out Google books.

Some great programs were launched this Fall: Kindle Library Lending and Kindle Owner’s Library Lending.  Kindle Library Lending is available in 11,000 and counting libraries across the US.  Most libraries have a widget somewhere on their website that directs you to their Kindle books available through OverDrive.  My local public library just added Kindle Library Lending, and it offers a mix up new and old books.  There is already a waiting list on many of them.

Amazon Prime members can access the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.  It is a Netflix for books type deal.  You can only check out one book a month, but it doesn’t have a due date.  The library includes over 5000 books.  Lots of bestsellers in the collection.  One thing to note is that you have to download the book directly from your Kindle direction instead of on Amazon’s website.

So, to sum it up, there are tons of free e-book options available for all of the Kindles.  The great thing about the free classics is that you can use them for school.  The physical books are not that expensive, but with a lot of them it can add up.  Free is always good!

I’m hoping that if I wait long enough, the Steve Jobs biography and other major bestsellers will be available for lending.  But, that will probably be awhile.

 

Steve Jobs Continues to Dismiss eReaders

Steve Jobs had some harsh words to say about the Kindle, and eReaders in general, in a recent interview with David Pogue.  Jobs had previously stated his view that eReaders weren’t a viable product, but this was before the success Amazon has had.  Yet, even with the profit the Kindle has made, Jobs’ view is the same now as it has always been:

I’m sure there will always be dedicated devices, and they may have a few advantages in doing just one thing … But I think the general-purpose devices will win the day. Because I think people just probably aren’t willing to pay for a dedicated device.

Jobs also goes on to imply that since Amazon doesn’t release exact sales figures, the Kindle hasn’t been as successful as people believe.  Of course, this is just marketing bravado on the part of Jobs.  Sure, there aren’t as many Kindles out there as iPods, but no one would truly believe that Amazon hasn’t benefited from the eReader market.  Besides the devices themselves, Amazon takes a huge share of the profits from everything people buy to read on it (So huge that some publishers have started to complain).

It’s also pretty easy to jump to the conclusion that Jobs is hinting at the fabled Apple tablet.  While still existing mainly in the form of rumor, the tablet is nonetheless expected to have a huge impact.  Since its a portable device which will, among many other things, be able to read books, it’s expected to be the killer eReader device.  Some have even gone so far as to preemptively call it the Kindle-killer or attempt to forecast its effects on Amazon’s sales.

Both Jobs’ statement and they hype around the tablet come down to the same question of design philosophy: dedicated vs general-purpose devices.  While Jobs may be right that general-purpose devices have the long term advantage, the Kindle won’t be in any real danger unless the tablet can pull in enough customers from across the board.  Someone who likes the idea of an eReader, but already bought a tablet for other reasons, will likely keep the tablet.  Someone specifically shopping for a reader could still be swayed by the Kindle’s advantages, however.

Open Letter to Steve Jobs: In Support of an iPod Reader

Yesterday on this website we posted the New York Times article which speculated on how Apple is developing a Kindle-like device, well today I came across a wonderful open letter addressed to Steve Jobs (from TidBITS). It address’s precisely the reasons why Steve Job’s is wrong in his statements and why Apple should proceed with the ‘Safari Pad’.

I tend to agree with most of what is said, I also think that competition from Apple will force Amazon to become more creative and innovative, which is something they have been lacking in recently. Ultimately a war between Amazon and Apple will benefit the consumer the most.

Have a read;

Dear Steve,

Back in January, while talking with John Markoff and David Pogue of the New York Times after your Macworld Expo keynote, you expressed skepticism about the Amazon Kindle ebook reader. John Markoff quoted you as saying, “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”

That seems an odd thing to say to a pair of writers whose work is read by millions of people in newspaper and book form. I don’t know where you got that 40 percent number, but other statistics would seem to disagree. For instance, the Book Industry Study Group, which has been tracking the U.S. publishing industry for 30 years, estimates that U.S. book sales in 2006 exceeded 3.1 billion copies, generating net revenues for U.S. publishers in excess of $35 billion. That’s a 3.2 percent increase in revenues over 2005. The book industry is growing, not shrinking. And if 40 percent of the people in the U.S. are reading one book or less per year, the other 182 million of us must be averaging over 16 books per year.

Reading habits have undoubtedly changed, since we have more entertainment and research options available to us than ever before. Some of those come thanks to Apple products like the iPod and Apple TV, and Apple services like the iTunes Store. But the prime mover, according to an IDC study of consumer online behavior, is that Americans are now spending 32.7 hours per week online, almost twice as much as they spend watching TV (16.4 hours per week) and more than eight times as much as they spend reading newspapers and magazines (3.9 hours). If you want to point to an industry in trouble, look no further than newspapers, where circulation is in a steep decline.

The key point is that time spent online is largely time spent reading (and writing), whether email (57 billion messages sent in 2007 by IDC’s estimate), blogs (over 70 million, with 1.5 million posts per day, according to Technorati), or more traditional online news and entertainment sources. People read more than they ever have, thanks to the Internet, and new forms of reading are appearing all the time. Witness the Japanese “cell phone novel,” meant to be read in serialized form on the ubiquitous mobile phone. The Economist reports that since appearing in 2001, the genre has grown to become an $82 million business in 2006, with some ebooks receiving over a hundred thousand downloads per day.

I’ve called out all these numbers in order to encourage Apple to acknowledge that people read vast quantities of text and to focus hardware and software design efforts on making it easier to read on the iPod, iPhone, and future devices. The iPod and iPhone can be used to read some online content now, along with small bits of text synced from a Mac, but the experience could be significantly improved with native support for PDF, better user interface support for stored text documents, and more.

But I, speaking as a reader and a publisher, would really like to see Apple create a larger version of the iPod touch optimized not just for a better video experience, but also for a best-of-breed reading experience. Apple has the hardware design and user interface chops that Amazon lacked when creating the Kindle, plus the knowledge gleaned from the iPhone and the iPod touch in terms of underlying operating system, physical design, and wireless capabilities. Equally important is the iTunes Store, which offers an unparalleled browsing and shopping experience for digital media – it could be extended to support commercial ebooks and free blogs in exactly the way it currently supports audiobooks and podcasts.

Such a device would make good business sense for Apple too. iPod sales posted their slowest ever year-over-year growth rate, at only 5 percent, causing some analysts to opine that Apple has saturated the market. Even committed iPod users will purchase replacement iPods only so often. Like the iPhone, a new “iPod reader” in a larger form factor would open up a new market for Apple, but unlike the iPhone, it would be purchased in addition to an iPod nano or iPod shuffle.

John Markoff has speculated that your dismissal of American reading habits is actually a calculated setting of the stage for just such a device. You didn’t have kind words for cell phones or the MP3 players that predated the iPod, with justification – they were (and for the most part remain) utterly awful.

So Steve, here’s hoping that an upcoming special event will feature an iPod reader, designed to do all the great things we’ve become accustomed to from an iPod, but with the addition of native support for downloading, managing, and displaying textual documents of all sorts, whether in plain text, PDF, Microsoft Word’s .doc, or XML format.

The iPod already gives us access to Beethoven and Bob Dylan, to snapshots of our children, and to The Incredibles and episodes of Lost. Let’s add to that Harry Potter and The Hobbit, 1984 and Catch-22, and the complete works of Dr. Seuss. Book publishers have been waiting for a mass-market ebook reader for years, the newspaper companies are dying for a new online business model, and normal people just want to read on the train to work. And of course, I’ll be happy to upload to the iTunes Store an entire library of Take Control ebooks that are already popular with tens of thousands of Mac users.

–Adam Engst, TidBITS Publishing Inc.

Source: TidBITS