Friday, August 16, 2013

Digital Comics Bargains for the Weekend

Conan 2

ComiXology has two 99-cent sales going this weekend, on Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass and Marvel’s Ultimates line. If you’re curious about Brian Michael Bendis’s re-invention of Spider-Man as half-black, half-Latino teenager Miles Morales, now is the time to dive in.

If you’re up for a more classic type of adventure tale, Dark Horse has a 99-cent sale on Conan and Red Sonja comics. The Conan comics are the ones written by Brian Wood and illustrated by Becky Cloonan and James Harren, which got a lot of buzz last year, and they are well worth a look.

Digital Manga is celebrating Tezuka Week with 15% off the cost of the first ten issues of Astro Boy Magazine, as well as giveaways and other promotions. That makes each issue of Astro Boy Magazine $4.24, but be warned, it’s not downloadable—you can only read it online.

And finally, don’t forget that Viz is still having their big sale on all their digital manga. Check out their website or apps and take a look—everything is 20% off.

Digital Comics Bargains for the Weekend is a post from: E-Reader News

e Ink suffers $33 Million Dollar Loss Q2 2013


e Ink Holdings has had a massive setback with their reported $33.63 million dollar loss last quarter. The company is seeing decreased demand for their e-Reading panels that are the cornerstone of Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo’s e-reading technology.

E Ink has seen a constant decline in their last two quarters, due to most of their customer base gravitating towards Android tablets. This quarter, revenue is expected to at least double last quarter's NT$2.93 billion, as many customers are going to release next generation e-Readers. e Ink always sees massive business in Q3 and Q4, as manufacturing kicks into overdrive.

Although e-Paper technology accounts for 70% of the companies revalue, they are trying to make a go out of their screens in other commercial spaces. They are seeing modest gains in their signage for airports and transportation industries. They have also debuted new grocery store digital signage that will replace the static price tags. By the end of the year, this new revenue stream is expected to account for 5% of their total earnings.

According to the Taipei Times “Last quarter, E Ink booked a one-time severance payment of NT$500 million for a 50 percent workforce layoff at its South Korean LCD manufacturing subsidiary Hydis Technologies Co. The number of Hydis employees has been halved to about 400 from between 800 or 900 before the personal adjustment. Meanwhile e Ink received a record high royalties fee at NT$400 million by licensing Hydis' patents to Sharp, LG Display and other panel makers to make high-resolution LCD panels that are partly used in Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics patents.”

e Ink suffers $33 Million Dollar Loss Q2 2013 is a post from: E-Reader News

Blackberry Q5 Review – The Curve of Blackberries

blackberry q5

Blackberry has officially released their Q5 smartphone that could be considered the spiritual successor of the Curve. It may not pack the punch in terms of overall hardware specs, like the Q10 does, but the price is right at around $300. Is there room in the world for a low-cost phone with a full QWERTY keyboard? Today, we give you a full hands on review of the new Q5, and let you know if we recommend it.



The Blackberry Q5 features a 3.1 inch LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 720×720 pixels. The overall display screen gets the job done, but I feel that the Q10 Super AMOLED screen provides richer colors. This is more noticeable in graphic heavy content, such as comic books, magazines and videos.

One thing that is important to note about the screen is that you are locked into a portrait exclusive view. You cannot turn the phone into landscape mode and watch videos or use it the same way as you would the Z10. Blackberry has locked the phone in such a way, that you will never be able to use in it landscape mode.

Underneath the hood is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 4 1.2 GHZ dual core processor and 2 GB of Ram. It has only 8 GB of internal memory, but you can enhance it via the SD Card up to 32 GB. Most Blackberry phones have the SD card underneath the removable battery, but the Q5 buckles that trend by having the SD and Micro Sim card slot on the side of the unit, underneath a plastic flap.

Speaking of plastic, this phones build quality is all plastic and does have the elegant aluminum and glazed glass as the Q10. It does not necessarily feel like a cheap phone, but draws the distinction between a high end and lower end phone. Sort of like drawling the old parallels between the Blackberry Bold and Blackberry Curve. The Q10, has a faster processor, more memory and a bigger camera, but carries a hefty price of around $900. This unit is only $300 off contract, so it may have a more global appeal.

The big draw about the Blackberry Q5 is the full QWERTY keyboard. This phone will make sense to current or former Blackberry users, that find typing a lot of texts and emails too cumbersome on a traditional touchscreen device. Personally, i get like 200 emails a day, and it is nice to power respond with a real keyboard, instead of relying on the predictive text correction features found on an iPhone. The keyboard, is the real reason you are buying this phone.

In the end, this may not be the most glamorous smartphone out there, the plastic design does feel a bit tacky. Still, you can get the full Blackberry 10 experience with a keyboard at more then half the price as the Q10.



Blackberry has invested heavily into their Blackberry 10 operating system, and this phone ships with version 10.1. One of the most seldom features of this new generation OS is the built in Android emulator. All BB10 phones have the ability to run Android files, this makes it easier for developers who submit apps into Blackberry World. They don’t have to redo their apps in the native language and can easily use tools to convert their existing library of Android content over to Blackberry. Currently, Blackberry 10.1 has a fairly outdated version of the Android Runtime, with 2.3. Blackberry is currently beta testing a new version of the emulator that will bring it all the way up to Jellybean. This will ensure that a greater number of apps will be compatible and will likely kindle renewed interest into Blackberry devices.

There are a few things that remain attractive about the Blackberry ecosystem in general. First of all, email. Email is handled very differently on Blackberry then it is on Android or iOS devices. The most compelling feature is the ‘delete prior’ which will bulk delete all emails in a specific inbox. If you have an iPhone and get a bunch of emails, you have to manually delete each one. Again, I often get a few hundred a day, and the iPhone is unrealistic to manage large quantities. Blackberry makes email management a top priority and currently still offers the best service in the business.

The second element is the revised Blackberry Messenger experience. This is one of the few services that have all data handled by the companies own data servers, so customers benefit from lower data usage. You can chat via text, voice or video chat with your BBM brethren. If you want to add a friend, you can use NFC to bump the phones to share contact details, or even generate a QR code to add a friend. No wonder the entire internet is enamored with the idea of BBM coming to iOS and Android.

Blackberry World is the place to go if you want to download apps, movies, music and games. They have over 200,000 apps currently in their system, but most are painfully woeful. Most of the apps people use on a daily basis, such as Instagram, Vine, and Netflix are nowhere to be seen. Instead, customers have turn to 3rd party app stores to get these apps, such as our own Good e-Reader BB10 App Store.

One of the big drawbacks about Blackberry World, is a large number of the content is converted Android apps. This type of content normally suffers from performance issues and can often provide a lackluster experience. There is no way to organize the store by apps that were developed natively for BB10 and what ones were converted. There are also a number of pirate apps and games issued by people who weren’t the original developer.

Blackberry 10 on a whole, is a fairly polished operating system. You will likely never encounter crash issues and everything just works. Multi-tasking and Blackberry Balance remain two things that most competitors cannot touch. The severe downside is the quality of the apps out there, and people are obsessed with them.

e-Reading Experience


Readers in North America and Europe, often have dedicated e-Readers and tablets to consume media. A large demographic in China, Japan, Korea and South America mostly use their phones. Reading is big business and often the phone is always with you, which makes it easy to catch up on websites and news items.

There really aren’t an extensive library of reading apps in the official Blackberry World app store. Amazon released a Kindle app for the Z10, but is only compatible with that specific model. You won’t find many apps at all and instead you will be forced to learn how to side-load in your own apps. Luckily we have put together some extensive tutorials on how do this, step by step. This will insure you can get Pulse, Flipboard, Feedly, Kindle, Kobo, Comixology, Manga, or anything else you want. I still find it odd that Blackberry has not really tried to focus more on e-Reading.

The Blackberry Q5 only has a 3.1 inch screen, so it is not the most compelling e-Reader out there. I have found the type of apps best suited to the screen are ones that display pure text. eBook reading apps really shine, because you can chance the size of the font to suit your optimal needs. RSS apps are also fairly useful, because they normally strip away everything but the core story.

We tried various newspaper, magazine and comic book apps, but the screen was really too small to read effectively. You will find yourself constantly pinching and zooming every single page to get the pictures large enough to read the built in text.

Wrap Up

our thoughts

When we first got this phone last week, I thought I would hate it. The Blackberry Q10 was a fine phone, but not worth the $900 it was available in Canada to buy off-contract. The Q5 is only a few hundred, and will reel in prior Blackberry users that may have shifted to another phone, because of the high costs.

If you love physical keyboards, text like crazy or answer a ton of emails, this may be the phone for you. You will not break the bank and it has enough features to suit most peoples needs. For the advanced user, there is an entire new world of app-possibilities out there with sideloading.


Priced Right
Keyboard is a pleasure to type on
Solid hardware


No Micro HDMI
Plastic Design feels cheap
Not the best phone to watch movies on
Blackberry World still woeful for quality apps

Rating: 7/10
User Rating: Note: There is a rating embedded within this post, please visit this post to rate it.

Blackberry Q5 Review – The Curve of Blackberries is a post from: E-Reader News

Apple’s Court Date for Damages Is May 2104


Consumers who are expecting some payouts as a result of the Department of Justice lawsuit against Apple and five of the Big Six publishers will be waiting a little longer for their refunds. While the court ruled that Apple was guilty of collaborating to raise ebook prices, and even though the publishers have already settled out of court for their involvement in the allegations, a court date to determine exactly how much Apple will pay is now schedule for May 2014.

In addition to considering how much Apple will pay, an amount that could be in the neighborhood of half a billion dollars under existing anti-trust precedent which allows for triple that amount in cases involving price fixing, Judge Denise Cote will also consider the concerns that the DOJ has raised that Apple’s punishment wasn’t strict enough to prevent the tech giant from engaging in similar deals down the road. The newly proposed brief from the government calls for Apple to be barred from setting discount pricing with those publishers for five years, rather than the two years that the ruling currently considers.

While May 2014 might seem like a long way off, it is the date that the DOJ attorneys requested; Apple has stayed quiet on the matter. Both sides will spend their time between now and that date interviewing potential contributors to the case and deciding how the plaintiffs will file. While the publishers have all stated rather vehemently that they are not guilty of any wrongdoing in the matter, they opted to settle the case out of court and pay damages in the millions of dollars because it would have been less expensive than going to trial over the allegations.

Apple’s Court Date for Damages Is May 2104 is a post from: E-Reader News

Some Publishers Record High Print Circulation in the Face of Digital Onslaught


We might be in the midst of a digital revolution right now, but the digital wave isn't as all-encompassing as it seems. Take, for instance, the recent trend as seen among publishers in the UK who reported a rise in sales of its print publications in spite of the digital versions selling well. Publications like Toxic or Girl Talk Art, for boys and girls, respectively, have reported a positive increase of their print versions. That tallies well with the findings of a survey conducted a few weeks ago in which it was reported that a majority (88 percent) of British readers still prefer reading a print magazine  to digital edition on an electronic device such as the tablet, smartphone, or even the PC. Parents, too, seem more comfortable with the idea of their children reading a print version rather than the virtual edition.

However, the two magazines mentioned above which cater to the kid community present a completely different picture than that of other publications. Some, such as Nuts and Zoo, have seen their circulation go down steadily in recent times in the face of digital versions making inroads among the reading community. In fact, with the rapid proliferation of smart- and mobile devices, readers have been showing an increasing preference for digital content the world over. While industry pundits have been quick to predict that the future belongs to digital, there are also those who seem to remain loyal to the print versions. The latter may make for a minority community compared to those who have switched to digital though the figure still is quite significant.

Some Publishers Record High Print Circulation in the Face of Digital Onslaught is a post from: E-Reader News

American University of Nigeria to Unveil its New Digital Library this Fall


The American University of Nigeria, which was established in 2003, is set to unveil its new digital library this fall. The university first got a library in 2005, though the move to digitization started only in 2012. The focus in 2013 is to evolve into what Library Director Amed Demirhan points out as the “mobile library.”

"In 2012, we decided to change the library’s traditional focus to the e-library. This year we are focusing on becoming a ‘mobile’ library. This includes the use of more mobile applications and better use of space, including the arrangement and shape of the library’s furniture. For example, all the following pieces of equipment have been replaced by a smartphone: scanner, desktop computer, laptop, photocopy machine, and telephone. This is providing a new level of efficiency and effectiveness. It saves money, is more environmentally friendly, consumes less electricity, and takes up less space," said Demirhan.

The aim of the digital makeover is to enhance access to the library material all year round and from just about anywhere. Needless to say, the move is already paying off with the uptake of ebooks having grown exponentially in 2012 compared to what it was just a year ago. For instance, while the total usage of ebooks stood at just 1,889 in 2011, in 2012 that number shot up to 45,442. Similarly, total usage of e-articles went up to 19,465 in 2012 compared to 11,773 in 2011. This growth has become possible after the digitization process has been introduced.

"In 2013, the library has subscribed to more than 210,000 ebooks. This is more than most university libraries e-book collections in America," Demirhan further added, which is a clear indication of the zeal with which digitization is pursued by the AUN library.

All of the efforts havn't gone unrecognized as the AUN was recently awarded a Presidential Citation by the American Library Association for its International Innovative Library Projects.

American University of Nigeria to Unveil its New Digital Library this Fall is a post from: E-Reader News

Fireball Pinball HD

We had some requests from people watching the video of What Gordon Did On His Holidays In Florida for more information about the Fireball Pinball machine that was being worked on at Familab, a huge and splendiferous hackspace. I wanted to learn more too, so I got in touch with Ian Cole, who is refurbishing the pinball machine. He’s been kind enough to prepare a blog post about the project, the educational reasons for starting it with his kids, and a blow-by-blow account of the build, along with a huge number of photographs documenting what he’s been doing.

Prototype wiring in progress


The inevitable consequence of turning your back on prototype wiring in progress

The Fireball Pinball machine is a 1976 game, which Ian bought in a very unloved state for a couple of hundred dollars. Using a Pi, he’s dragged it into the 21st century. Ian says:

The basic system design has the Pi as an i2c master with the following functions:

  • reading switches from the lamp / switch Arduino when that slave pulls an interrupt pin hi (read by Pi GPIO after a level shifter)
  • sending commands to the lamp / switch Arduino to turn on / off specific lights
  • sending commands to the solenoid driver to fire specific solenoids
  • Gameplay tracking – players, balls, scores, bonus
  • Background music
  • Game event sounds

(Your average pinball machine in 1976 did not have HD graphics. Or any graphics at all. And it did not have 512MB of RAM.)

Here’s a demonstration of the electronics mounting. When the camera moves around to the back of the machine, you’ll see some grey rectangles appear on the video – hover your mouse pointer over them learn more.

You can read much, much more about the project (which is a great jumping-off point if you feel like updating an old pinball machine yourself) at Ian’s blog, which has plenty of detail.

Fireball Pinball HD is still a work in progress: Ian wants to add tilt sensors, event tournament capability with play tracking and prizes, and an accompanying website; NFC login for your phone; a thermal printer to output QR codes so new players can scan and register to claim their score; and a current sensor to look after the solenoids. He’s got cosmetic work to do as well, with plans to make custom bezel for the monitor, repaint the head and mount the speakers. And Ian’s commissioned custom artwork from Punkin Studios – a local artist he met last year at Orlando Mini Maker Faire. Ian says:

I've asked him to start by recreating original Fireball backglass art without the scoring boxes. Here's the preliminary inked version…

Look at the muscles on that!

If you live in Florida, you can see Fireball HD in action (and have a go yourself) at Orlando Mini Maker Faire on October 5th, 2013.

More Publishing Blame: Craig’s List is Killing Newspapers


It’s astonishing that so many aspects of publishing are so slow to adapt.

From the fight that libraries are still facing over ebook lending to the snail’s pace of digital textbook adoption, as well as the realization from booksellers that they will have to do something to accommodate ebooks if they plan to keep their doors open with big box and online bookstores breathing down their necks, it often feels like the industry as a whole would like to look the other way and let digital reading burn itself out.

Now, a new study by Robert Seamans of New York University’s Stern School of Business and Feng Zhu of the Harvard Business School highlights just another way industry watchers want to blame technology instead of adapt to where the readers actually are. The study demonstrated exactly how much money print newspapers lost thanks to Craig’s List, the online classified ad site.

By their calculation, that number is around one billion dollars.

According to the research, following the rise of Craig’s List newspapers made strong chances to their models:

20.7% drop in classified-ad rates
3.3% increase in subscription prices
4.4% decrease in circulation
16.5% increase in differentiation from other papers
3.1% decrease in display-ad rates
Lower likelihood of providing content online

While the blame-digital game has had merits in other publishing arenas, the fallacy is that Craig’s List and newspaper classifieds don’t operate on the same wavelength. Online listings such as Craig’s List and eBay serve to connect people who did not live in close physical proximity, although eBay is somewhat more globally connected than Craig’s List’s regional opportunities. But newspaper classified ads serve to inform subscribers of something noteworthy in their own town. While people who may be relocating would want to know what employment opportunities there are in their new home towns, do people in Virginia really subscribe to The New York Times with the specific intent of looking for a job or finding out what’s for sale in the Big Apple?

While the numbers are clearly there in Seamans’s and Zhu’s study, this sounds a lot like the tired refrain of blame the technology instead of blaming publishers who haven’t evolved and followed their readers to where they read.

More Publishing Blame: Craig’s List is Killing Newspapers is a post from: E-Reader News