Barnes and Noble has been working on a massive upgrade to their website for the last two years. The new design gives us a sense on what the bookseller is hoping to sell more of, which are lifestyle products, print and e-books. Unfortunately there are a number of bugs with e-books and Nook that are preventing people from reading and this is resulting in a fair amount of apathy.
When you are looking to buy a new book and haven’t heard much about it, likely you want to check out the first few chapters with a digital sample. Barnes and Noble has an online reading platform called Nook for Web. Sadly, this system is totally broken and has not been revised to work in conjunction with the new B&N website.
Here is what the company has said on their main help page, due to the overwhelming amount of emails and phone calls irate customers are making “On Tuesday, June 30, we updated our BN.com ecommerce website with new features. The NOOK for Web “Read Instantly” function was not updated as part of this rollout. Our technology team is currently working on including the NOOK for Web “Read Instantly” functionality and we hope to have it available in the near future. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and thank you for your continued support of NOOK.”
Another glaring error is the fact that any past purchases cannot be read online and the Nook Library does not recognize past purchases as being owned. If you click on any e-book you have bought in the past the only options right now is to archive it or purchase it again. If you try and buy it again there are a series of errors that do not allow you to complete the transaction.
It seriously looks like anything related to Nook e-books and digital content is simply not working with the new website. This is a shame because Apple iOS users have to buy digital content on the website, because B&N disabled the ability to buy e-books on iOS so they would not have to pay Apple a commission on each sale. It is also a hard blow to anyone who browses the internet on their PC or tablet in order to read a few samples before making a buying decision.
Sunday, July 5, 2015
|Here’s a roundup of 10 free Kindle ebooks and a few Kindle device and ebook deals, along with a couple other tablet deals, like the Lenovo Tab 2 10 for $179. The Kindle books are free as of July 5th, 2015. Please note that most of these titles are free for a limited-time only and […]|
Amazon has just released the Kindle Paperwhite 3 and it packs the same high resolution display as found in the flagship Kindle Voyage. Sometimes specs on paper aren’t everything and already many users are reporting that they like the old model better. Are you going to buy the Paperwhite 3? This is a question we asked our audience and there is a tremendous amount of apathy towards the new device.
Over the course of the last week 231 people responded to our quest to find out what the demand is like for the Paperwhite 3. The vast majority did not find the new Kindle appealing, 117 people said they won’t even consider buying it. 61 people said they are likely going to purchase it, while 45 people are on the fence and are waiting for more reviews to come in.
It seems like in the last few years Amazon releases a new device every year and most people are not upgrading to the latest and greatest. I know plenty of people who use four and five year old e-readers and are quite happy using them.
Saturday, July 4, 2015
Independent author and blogger Imy Santiago bought an e-book from Amazon, read it, and posted a review. Then things started to go awry, according to her recent blog post, that had Amazon pull the review because she followed the author on Twitter.
Amazon's Review Guidelines state that only that "family members or close friends of the person, group, or company selling on Amazon may not write Customer Reviews for those particular items." It doesn’t mention interactions on social media services such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
So how does Amazon decide who an author's friends are? In theory, the company could be looking for things like similar last names or residential information on accounts, or watching for patterns in review activity, like a back-and-forth exchange of reviews between two authors. Amazon may also be able to look for contacts and interaction on social media accounts that users have connected to their Amazon account, or they may be doing something else entirely. So far, they refuse to talk about it.
"Due to the proprietary nature of our business, we do not provide detailed information on how we determine that accounts are related," Amazon's review moderator told Santiago in that final email, helpfully adding another link to the company's Review Guidelines.
That secrecy is raising questions among authors and reviewers. "Where is the 'oh, you know the author, your thoughts are no longer valid' line? Are fans who attend events and meet me ineligible?" asked author Seanan McGuire on Twitter, adding that she often interacts with fans on social media and at conventions. "Do I need to avoid friendly Twitter banter or at-con selfies with bloggers to keep them from 'knowing' me and thus being blocked?"
Princess S.O. Obriot has also been a victim of Amazons draconian review policies “I've had several reader fans message me that their reviews were blocked. One of them was persistent to find out why and finally got a response. He had entered a drawing I had going and he won an Amazon Gift card. He used it to buy more books from a variety of authors. He already owned mine so I wasn't among the purchases. but because I had sent the GC from my Amazon account that translated into "He knows this author personally." It's been two years since then, he still attempts to leave reviews and continues to 'nag' them about it. But so far Amazon has not appealed their ruling on it.
Indie authors often find themselves spending a massive amount of time interacting with their fans and readers in order to build up a fan base and sell more books. This could be a double edged sword if the interactions can easily be found online. The author will see their efforts as organic, fostering meaningful dialog and creating strong bonds between writer and reader, whereas Amazon sees it as collusion.
This entire debacle is likely due to a new review policy Amazon has implemented over the course of the last few months. This is the first major initiative in Amazons twenty year history to revise the way the product review system works. A new in-house machine learning program is putting more weight on verified purchases, new reviews and reviews that people have rated as being useful. The system will learn what reviews are most helpful to customers…and it improves over time," Amazon spokeswoman Julie Law said in an interview. "It's all meant to make customer reviews more useful."
|Review Date: July 2015 – Review unit purchased from Amazon Overview The 3rd generation Kindle Paperwhite was released on June 30th, 2015. It’s still basically the exact same device as the Paperwhite 3 but it comes with an upgraded higher resolution screen and a boost in RAM. It also has twice as much storage space […]|
Hoopla is quietly becoming a force to be reckoned with and is constantly adding content to their catalog and will soon give Overdrive a run for their money.
The success of Hoopla is attributed to their unique pay per use system. This means that libraries only pay them money when a patron borrows a title, each e-book does not cost money on its own. This is a big advantage because 3M and Overdrive both charge big bucks per copy, sometimes over $100 each.
Hoopla started to make a name for themselves a few years ago when the company rode on the success of the emerging audiobook space. Their catalog is one of the largest in the business with 13,000 digital editions and are adding a few hundred every month. Due to the success of digital audio they started a modest e-book collection and currently have 5,509 of them from publishers such as from Dundurn, Tyndale, Chicago Review, Rosetta and Orca.
Since e-books have proven to be success for Hoopla they are starting to field requests for other written content, such as graphic novels and comics. This has prompted them to sign a distribution deal with DC Comics to offer hundreds of graphic novels. As of July 2015 Hoopla now has 800 comics in total and they have been using conferences such as Book Expo America and the American Library Association Annual to get more deals done.
"We wanted to give libraries a way to be relevant in the digital age," explained hoopla's Jeff Jankowski in an interview with Good e-Reader. "Why take the limitations of the physical world and apply them to start of the art digital?"
Hoopla currently deals with 800 libraries in the US and that list is growing. Libraries have told me that they dig the fact that they can just add a ton of content and can set certain monetary thresholds so they can keep their digital spending within reasonable limits. It seems to me that Hoopla has a very compelling value proposition for libraries, that is hard to ignore.
Friday, July 3, 2015
Amazon has just released their latest e-reader, the Kindle Paperwhite 3. Whenever a new product comes to the market people often wonder what the primary differences are between it and the previous generation. Today, we take a look at the Kindle Paperwhite 3 and the Paperwhite 2.
In the video below we document the subtle hardware differences between the two models and how the new Bookerly font compares to Caecilia. These two e-readers have dramatic differences in terms of resolution and you will see it for yourselves when we read e-books and PDF files. Finally, we look at reading in complete darkness via the front-lit displays and take them out in direct sunlight.
The 4th of July is a great time to spend with family and friends, having cookouts, watching fireworks, and enjoying an eBook or two! Take advantage of the holiday and use your OverDrive account to learn a bit more about the founding of the U.S.A. from these collections put together by OD's staff librarians.
Lovers of American history will enjoy The Quartet by Joseph J. Ellis, the true story of the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, and how America came to be run today.
For our younger readers, Women Heroes of the American Revolution by Susan Casey is a great insight into the unsung female patriots who helped form our country!
|Back in May I posted a comparison review between the Kindle Voyage and Kobo Glo HD. At the time they were the only two ebook readers to use E Ink’s new 300 ppi Carta screens. Now that the Kindle Paperwhite 3 has just been upgraded to use the same exact screen, it’s time to throw […]|
If you’re in the UK this week, you’ll hear a lot of people muttering darkly about the big yellow ball in the sky, and how they’re having to mist the bed with water in order to get it cool enough to sleep, or steal fans from their children’s bedrooms, or make makeshift beds on the cool tiled floor in the kitchen out of cushions. (All overheard at Pi Towers yesterday.)
And Jon is wearing three-quarter length trousers.
The UK, you see, does’t really do summer. So this week’s egg-cookingly hot heatwave has had us all wishing we had air conditioning – while it’s pretty standard these days in offices, nobody (apart from my mother, who has a mobile unit she calls Mr Freeze because she is awesome like that) really has one at home, unlike those of you in countries whose summers last longer than the standard British week. Mark my words. Next week it’ll be raining again.
The outlay for an air conditioning unit at home is pretty big – they’re unusual, so not very cheap here – but there are options. You can build your own 12v evaporative unit very cheaply, with a PC fan, a bucket, an aquarium pump and some inexpensive electronics and bits and bobs from the homewares shop: this version comes in at about £40. You can take it a step further and add a cheap thermostatic switch.
And, of course, now you’re equipped with an air conditioner that you have made with your own hands, you can start to automate your house. Because that’s what we do here when we’re not spraying the bed sheets and wearing trousers which display our calves.
If you’re taking cooling seriously, you should be looking not just at active cooling like the orange bucket swamp cooler; but also at stopping the heat from building up in the first place. Chris Rieger from Australia has a neat and simple home automation project that controls his blinds as well as his air conditioning. (If you have curtains, you can automate those too – see this project from Jamie Scott, which would be easy to incorporate into Chris’s system in place of the blinds mechanism.)
Chris has made a neat little GUI you can use to control the system over a web interface, with the ability to automate by time or temperature, or to manually turn the system on or off. Full instructions are available at his website.
So really, Great Britain, you’ve got no excuses to keep complaining. I expect to see you all ripping out old PC fans and buying buckets at Homebase this weekend.
Barnes and Noble has lost over one billion dollars on trying to make the Nook brand into a viable business model. Since 2009 the largest bookseller in the US has gone through two CEO’s and has just announced they have hired their third, Ron Boire, who starts this September. It looks like the Nook brand is in seriously jeopardy.
Boire—who has only been CEO of the faltering Sears Canada department store chain for the last ten months has kept the store in business by closing retail locations and axing thousands of job will be the new CEO of Barnes and Noble. His number one priority with the company is to stem the blood loss from the ailing Nook division. Last week Barnes and Noble announced that Nook hardware and e-books sales fell 40% in the three months ending May 2 and declined 48% year on year.
Before being the CEO of Sears, Ron was CEO of Brookstone, a chain that improved on his watch but nevertheless filed for bankruptcy protection two years after he left. From 2003 to 2006 he worked at Best Buy and he was responsible for global technology and vendor management, global sourcing, and private label development. And in his 17 years at Sony he had tech experience in personal mobile products.
Obviously Ron has an impressive resume but an entire digital industry passed him by. He was not actively working in tech when the original iPad came out, or the first generation Kindle. He did not play a role when people gravitated away from visiting websites and a billion dollar app market developed. It remains highly dubious that he can fundamentally understand the core of the Nook business and their competition.
As an outsider I think Ron will quickly realize what type of financial black hole Nook really is and not feel any loyalties towards it. It is my belief that he will abandon hardware and accessories and focus on audiobooks and e-books, which have low overhead and high profit margins.
Ron starts the job this September and likely there will be a period in which no major decisions will be made. I have it on good authority that a new Nook e-reader is in development and should be announced in September or October. This might be the last, at least there should be no shortage of Nook related news in the next calendar year.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
|When Amazon first announced the Kindle Paperwhite 3 and it turned out the main change was the addition of an upgraded 300 ppi E Ink screen, the same exact screen that comes with the more expensive Kindle Voyage, many thought that it would close the gap on the Voyage to a point where it wouldn’t […]|
Sometimes it can be quite difficult determining what e-reader is the latest generation model and what is outdated technology. The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2 and Kindle Paperwhite 3 look exactly the same in a side by side comparison. How can you tell the difference between the 2013 and 2015 edition? Today, we show you exactly what to look for on the retail packaging in a brand new video.
Upon first glance the retail packaging looks almost the same, in terms of size and dimensions. There are some very subtle differences such as the color of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite logo. The 2015 model has a blue logo, whereas the 2013 version is a light cyan. The e-reader on the Paperwhite 3 also is showing an open book, whereas the previous generation shows the library screen. On the back of the packaging the newer model makes numerous references to 300 PPI, whereas the other doesn’t.
Do you listen to audiobooks or feel like you have heard a ton about the format but haven’t really engaged with it yet? Every month we will put the spotlight on the best deals around, so you can get a sense of discounts being offered or websites you might not have heard of that let you download stuff for free.
Open Culture – is one of the better gateway websites for educational and cultural media. The site compiles content from around the Web and has an admirable collection of audiobooks — primarily classics — that you can stream over the Web or download on a variety of audio formats for later consumption.
Loyal Books – s a family-friendly website that caters to the classic literature devotee. The site offers a nice collection of public domain novels and short stories in multiple languages, available in both Mp3 and MP4 format in addition to a podcast and an RSS feed. You can also stream book chapters online and browse titles by genre, language, and popularity, or search for specific books using the integrated Google search bar at the top of the page. Plus, most books offer ratings and reviews from fellow listeners, thus giving you a slightly better idea of what to expect before you hit the play button.
Nook Audiobooks – In celebration of Independence Day and big new June/July releases, we think July will be great for audiobooks! For a limited time, we'll be offering a sweet sale of Cool Books for Hot Days – it's filled with audiobooks at great deals that we think customers will love to listen to on the beach, while relaxing by the pool, or while getting fit for the summer. For July 4th weekend, we'll serve up some great collections tailored towards celebrating America and family travel, cooking out, and relaxing at home – these will include some big new releases we're really excited about, including Stephen King's audiobook-only short story release Drunken Fireworks that comes on June 30th, followed up two weeks later with one of the year's biggest books, Go Set a Watchman, narrated by Reese Witherspoon. And to be sure, throughout the month our Daily Find will continue – that's our offer of a specially priced, unabridged audiobook at 60% off or more.
Audible – Normally you only get one free audiobook to start your membership, but Audible is running a promotion to get 2! In addition, the new Amazon Echo allows you to listen to audiobooks anywhere in your house.
Simply Audiobooks – This is a company that allows you to RENT audiobooks on CD, if that is your thing. You can use the promo code AUDIOGO72 for some big savings.
Scribd – This company is well known for their unlimited e-book subscription service but they recently added audiobooks. Normally when you sign up you get 14 days for free, but using this LINK you can get a free 3 month subscription and listen to as many audiobooks as you want, including the new E.L. James Grey title.
While the nation’s librarians gathered in San Francisco for the 2015 annual Conference of the American Library Association (ALA), library users around the world helped contribute to a record setting day in digital reading. Monday, June 29, 2015 saw a new single-day milestone of 500,535 digital titles borrowed across all OverDrive digital collection and readers also placed more than 195,000 titles on hold as well!
"This spike in library lending of eBooks, digital audiobooks, magazines, newspapers and streaming video is the result of the tremendous efforts of thousands of librarians as well as significant ease-of-use improvements including seamless integration with library catalogs," said David Burleigh, OverDrive's Director of Marketing. "We're also seeing the effects of new access models publishers are offering through OverDrive, which have increased availability for readers."
It’s not just the eBook sector that has exploded in 2015. Librarians at the ALA conference reported substantial growth for audiobooks in MP3 format as well as enhanced eBooks for children featuring "Read-along" Narrated eBooks, which utilize industry-standard EPUB3. There has also been massive growth for digital magazines and newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other periodicals now available for U.S. libraries and schools through OverDrive.
Click here to see the full press release.
Dave Young lives in Denver with a baby, a wife, and a dog called Penny. Penny’s a good dog (good dog, Penny!) – she’s a softie around the baby, walks to heel, and doesn’t destroy things. All that good dog stuff.
But Penny has one weak spot. Dave says:
How’s it work? There’s a laser tripwire, which triggers audio of Dave saying “Hey!” in a COMMANDING MANNER. The setup also takes a picture of Penny’s infraction using the Raspberry Pi camera board.
Full instructions are available over at Element14 so you can make your own. I’m already thinking about ways you could expand this project: Mooncake, the Raspberry Pi cat, doesn’t respond well to voice commands, but we think a Pi-powered water pistol could be just the ticket on those days we want to defrost prawns. Ideas for your own feature-creep in the comments please!
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Amazon has just released a new e-reader and it goes by many names. Some people are referring to it as the 7th generation Kindle, while Amazon has dubbed it the all new Kindle Paperwhite, while still others are calling it the Paperwhite 3. It can be a tad confusing for people wanting to buy one, but the only model available on the main Amazon site for Canadian and US residents is the latest edition.
The main selling point of the Kindle Paperwhite 3 is that it has the same e-ink screen and high resolution display as the Kindle Voyage. It also features the brand new font Amazon designed for e-readers, Bookerly.
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 3 has a e-ink Carta display screen with a resolution of 1430×1080 and 300 PPI. This is a huge upgrade from the 2013 model which only had 1024×768 and 212 PPI.
When it comes to the visual aesthetics the new Paperwhite is virtually indistinguishable from the 2nd generation model. The only change on the hardware is very subtle, the Kindle logo on the front is piano black, while the older edition had it in pure white. The retail packaging also makes reference to 300 PPI, so this should aid you if you are looking to buy he latest edition and can’t really tell what model you are looking at.
Underneath the hood is a 1 GHZ processor and 256 MB of RAM. There is 4 GB of internal storage and the majority of your content will be held in the cloud. There is certainly enough space to have a thousand e-books on your device at any given time.
People love their Kindles, which is odd in a world of smartphones and tablets. Amazon currently enjoys a dominant position in the US, controlling 75% of the entire e-book market and 95% in the United Kingdom.
Why is the Paperwhite 3 better than your smartphone or tablet? e-Readers do not emit blue light, so is way easier on your eyes and you can also read digital books in direct sunlight, whereas a tablet looks like a giant mirror. The Kindle is also a singular purpose device, its aimed at people who like to read a lot of books and eliminates the constant barrage of status updates, notifications and emails that multipurpose tablets inundate you with.
When you start the Kindle Paperwhite 3 for the first time you are taken on magical step by step tutorial of the key features of the e-reader. It shows you how to change the size of the font and how to use the built in lighting system to read in the dark. It also demonstrates how to access the online bookstore.
The home screen and overall design of the UI is a carbon copy of the 2013 Paperwhite and no new enhancements are really evident. Amazon is promising that very soon this model will receive a firmware update that will introduce an all-new typesetting engine that lays out words just as the author intended for beautiful rendering of pages. With improved character spacing and the addition of hyphenation, justification, kerning, ligatures, and drop cap support. There will also be support for larger font sizes without compromising your reading experience. Page layout and margins will automatically adapt to work well at even the largest font sizes.
Amazon doesn’t control the digital book market because it makes great hardware, but it has software elements that no rival can match. X-Ray is a great example because it allows you to get a sense of the people, places and things in a book and how often they are referenced. A few years ago Kobo tried to do their own system similar to this called “Beyond the Book” but publishers were resistant to the idea of optimizing their e-books for it and it was quietly discontinued.
Amazon also has Wordwise, which basically gives you a list of synonyms and homonyms in a book, great for learning a new language. If you normally share your e-reader with multiple family members, Family Sharing allows you to share the same content using different Amazon accounts. You can also take advantage of the translate capability by tapping any word or highlight a section to instantly translate it into other languages, including Spanish, Japanese, and more. Translations are provided by Bing Translator and you can even do it with PDF files, which is totally awesome.
Likely one of the biggest selling points is the social book discovery site, GoodReads. Placed right on the navigation bar you can talk about your favorite books with a community geared towards discussion and reviews. You can form or join a book club and bring a little bit of socialization to a otherwise solitary reading experience.
The new Kindle Paperwhite has a new font that was exclusively developed to make reading on a Kindle much more intuitive. Bookerly has replaced Caecilia as the new default font their e-readers, tablets and Amazons fleet of apps. Bookerly is a serif style of font that has been custom-made by Amazon to be as readable across as many different types of screens as possible. Like Google's Literata, Bookerly is meant to address many of the aesthetic issues surrounding e-book fonts.
Does Bookerly make a big difference while reading an e-book? According to Amazon's internal tests, that means it's about 2% easier on the eye. That may seem like a small improvement, but spread that 2% across millions of Kindle users and billions of pages of e-reading, and it all starts to add up. In real world conditions though, this font is a big improvement. There are fewer large spaces between words, something that has been my bane for awhile, but in order for it to really shine Amazon needs to launch their new typesetting engine.
Like all Kindles, Amazon has their own propitiatory format that makes other e-books from other companies incompatible. For example, if you buy something from Barnes and Noble or Kobo, they use EPUB which cannot be loaded or read. This is somewhat of a mixed blessing, Amazon could laser focus on providing a great reading experience and make dramatic improvements, while the EPUB format languishes.
Reading on the Kindle is great, there are enough options to optimize your experience but doesn’t overburden with a ton of advanced features. You can adjust the margins, line spacing, choose between 7 fonts and have great control over the size of them.
When reading a book, page turns are fairly quick, but there are noticeable flickers when each page refreshes. This is likely going to be solved when Amazon starts to employ the new Freescale IMX 7 dual core processor, which has a new hardware dithering engine that will make flickers, ghosting a thing of the past.
One of the most lackluster elements about the Paperwhite 3 is the PDF rendering engine. It really struggles with complex documents with a ton of images and big files and there tends to be a huge delay when pinching and zooming or quickly turning pages. For simple documents, that are all text it is more than fine. You even get a small mini map in the top left hand corner that renders the page and shows you where you are in the document, to assist you in orientation.
Overall e-readers have been fairly stagnant the last few years and each generation of the Kindle has very small and incremental updates. The only things that are different from the 2013 Paperwhite and this one is 4GB of memory vs 2GB, 1440 x 1080 resolution vs 1024 x 758 and the new Bookerly font, that’s it.
I like to refer to this new e-reader as a mini-voyage. It gives you the same screen for $120 vs the $199 that the Kindle Voyage costs.
Should you buy this e-reader? There aren’t that many high resolution devices currently available. The only others on the market with any sort of availability is the Kobo Glo HD and Kindle Voyage. If you read a lot of e-books, this new device is worth it.
High Resolution Screen
The hardware looks exactly the same as the Paperwhite 2
|Now that Amazon has released the third generation Kindle Paperwhite, it’s going to make things even more confusing for people that are trying to tell the different generations apart. This is especially important and often comes into play on the secondary market when buying and selling Kindle Paperwhites used, or if you’re buying one in […]|
|The Kindle Paperwhite 3 was officially released yesterday. I’ll post a review soon, which shouldn’t take long at all since it’s basically the exact same Kindle Paperwhite that I reviewed twice before. In the meantime I wanted to post an article about whether or not it’s worth upgrading to the Kindle Paperwhite 3 coming from […]|
You know that thing about dinosaurs having brains the size of walnuts? These dinosaurs have brains precisely the size of a Raspberry Pi.
The Blackgang Chine amusement park animatronic dinos have come a long way since we saw them last. Here’s Dr Lucy Rogers to talk us through what’s new – and what’s coming next.