Monday, May 26, 2014

Will the Hachette/Amazon Battle Encourage Authors to Self-Publish?


Amazon and Hachette are currently doing battle in establishing a new publishing contract. This is preventing pre-orders from upcoming titles from being processed and hundreds of current books have five week delivery dates. Authors rely on digital distribution from Amazon to garner book sales and sometimes their livelihood depends on it.  Self-publishers do not have to normally worry about this sort of drama, whether they are printing physical copies of their books via Createspace or selling their digital book.  Will the Hachette and Amazon dispute encourage established authors to self-publish?

Traditionally published authors are paying attention to the pricing battle between Amazon and Hachette. Hachette gets paid a set discount on the digital MSRP, just like bookstores pay a set discount for physical books. This is why Hachette sets the MSRP for eBooks at high prices, such as $14.99. If Amazon is getting a 40% wholesale discount, their wholesale cost for that e-book is $8.99. They then sell the e-book to the customer for $9.99 and making a dollar, in most cases they are selling them a loss.

The problem  is, Amazon wants lower MSRP of the books, which means the author and publisher will make less money. This will make a world of difference because Hachette garners 25% of their entire revenue stream from eBooks and Amazon accounts for 75% of their total digital distribution.

The James Pattersons of the world rely on a major publisher to have their books translated in a myriad of languages and flood the bookstores with each new title. The average author who might write one or two books a year is not as dependant on this mechanism. In many cases, if you are a first time author or don’t have the bankable established name the publishers often mandate authors promote the book themselves.  Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube Book Trailers and Blogs are often the avenues to expand the fanbase.  So, emerging authors and established players will find themselves having to self-promote, but not make the high profits indies are getting.

Agents, editors and writers are losing confidence in Hachette and the publishishing industry in general. If Amazon manages to strongarm the publisher, it will create a domino effect of changing the established status quo of eBook pricing and fully abolish the agency model for good. Everyone will make less money, except Amazon.

Will authors think twice about signing a publishing contract with Hachette and elect to self-publish? The landscape of the entire industry is changing,  Sony and Samsung are getting out of the eBook selling game and Barnes and Noble  is losing billions.  Amazon and Kobo are the only ones left, and Amazon has the dominant marketshare by a longshot. If anything, it might not be a foregone conclusion anymore that the only way to make a viable living is getting signed by a major publisher.

Will the Hachette/Amazon Battle Encourage Authors to Self-Publish? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Online Guide Helps You Quit Your iPhone and Switch to Android

iMessage FixIt’s become a very well-known problem that Apple has even kinda sorta admitted to: if you have been using iMessages on an iPhone and you try to switch to Android, you may start missing out on text messages. It’s true that Apple has promised to fix this problem with an upcoming software update. It’s also true that Apple claims they’ve already made some changes that should help. If that doesn’t provide you with a lot of comfort, Entrepreneur magazine has put together a little guide on the steps to take to successfully quit your iPhone.

The problem stems from how Apple activates iMessage using your telephone number –but really doesn’t offer any way to deactivate your account (while making it seem like turning off iMessage on your device is actually doing much of anything).  Of course, the problem goes a little deeper… but the result is that your friends can’t always reach you by text message anymore (and they don’t even know their messages aren’t being received by way of an error).

If nothing else, this guide gives a list of the things you should do if and when you decide to move from your iPhone to an Android device.

Online Guide Helps You Quit Your iPhone and Switch to Android is a post from: Good e-Reader

The Evolution of the Kobo e-Reader – In Pictures


Kobo has been making e-readers since 2010 and diversified into tablets in 2011. Their earliest e-ink devices were fairly basic and through dedication to reading their latest models are very solid. Today, we look at the evolution of the Kobo brand and how their e-Readers have changed overtime.

The Kobo e-Reader




The first Kobo e-Reader became available in Canada and the US on May 1 2010. It featured a 6 inch with a  resolution of 600 x 800 pixels. This translates to a display pixel density of 170 (dpi), which is quite impressive at the time. It did not have WIFI or a built in store. Customers were encouraged to load in their own books manually, which hampered its ability to compete against Amazon. The pricing strategy of the original Kobo, at USD$ 149, was to rival the Amazon Kindle, which was USD$ 110 more expensive.  However, in June 2010, just after the Kobo was released, Amazon dropped the price of the Kindle to USD$189.

Chapters Indigo was an early investor of Kobo, contributing close to $150 million to assist them in developing e-readers and an online bookstore.

The Kobo WIFI




The Kobo WIFI edition was released on October 15th 2010. This was only a few months after the original Kobo e-Reader launched and the company had to bow to customer demands to buy eBooks right on the device.  It featured a slightly improved processor and support for a 32 GB SD Card. This marked the first time Kobo experimented with different colors, offering a white, black and lilac version with a quilted cover on the back.

The e-reader visually was a carbon copy of their first e-reader. It had a rather flimsy D-Pad that was used to navigate settings menus. It also had physical buttons all over the unit.  The addition of wireless internet access allowed people to buy books from Kobo directly, which simplified the process.

When I reviewed this unit the week it came out I summarized “The one drawback of this device, is that it feels sluggish and unresponsive when you are navigating all of the menus and eBook store. You might click down, and it won't refresh for over 8 seconds. This makes it so you end up double clicking, then your e-reader will jump menu to menu or screen to screen. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of both iterations of the Kobo reader. For us, its a deal breaker.”

The Kobo Touch


The Kobo Touch was released in June 2011 and was the first time a touchscreen was employed in a Kobo e-reader. The Touch had a resolution of 800×600, which was the exact same as prior models. When it came to interacting with the screen, things were slightly more robust with the inclusion of an e Ink Pearl display.

Aside from the touchscreen which was the major selling point of the Touch, a number of software improvements were quite evident.  Kobo really marketed their new social media platform called Reading life.  It allowed you to share book passages via Twitter and Facebook.  It also gives you statistics of your reading patterns, how much you read, how often, and how many books you have read. There was also a reward system where you earned badges and achievements for reading. 

When the Touch first came out my summary of the hardware review stated “Kobo hit a homerun with the Kobo Touch due to the quality build design and the robust functionality! I had the original Kobo e-Reader and the Kobo Wireless. This model seriously puts those two to shame! The touchscreen display should be easier for your average user to wrap their heads around, since almost all hand held mobile devices are touch screen. I found the older Kobo models to have flimsy design and the DPAD was awful, not to mention you would hit a key and 12 seconds later the command would go through. I hardly experienced ANY LAG at all when using this e-reader extensively.

The Kobo Glo




The Kobo GLO was released in September of 2012. This was the first e-reader that really really hit the mainstream. It surpassed their prior models in responsiveness and design. The big selling point was the illuminated display screen, which borrowed a page of the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight and the Kindle Paperwhite.

The Kobo Glo eliminated all physical buttons and relied in a capacitive touchscreen with a resolution  of 1024 x 758.. This marked the first major advancement in resolution, which really made text and PDF files look amazing. It was hampered a bit by the same processor  used on the Kobo Touch, a year prior. Kobo also amped up the processor, which raised it to 1 GHZ, over the 800 MHZ of the Touch model.

When this first came out, my review summarized “This e-reader feels like a modern device and has solid hardware. The back of the unit has a different quilted pattern than previous models. Advanced users may dig the fact that there is a ton of control over your reading experience and it allows you to load in your own fonts. The Kobo development team is also fairly active on the MobileRead forums and often directly answers questions and employs many people in testing out beta firmware builds. They also use this fiendishly obsessed e-Reader community to farm ideas on future features they might employ in automatic firmware updates.”

The Kobo Mini





The Kobo Mini was originally launched the exact same day as the Kobo Glo at the first major unveiling Kobo produced in Toronto. In 2012 Kobo really stepped up their promotional and marketing campaign as the intention was to be the #2 ereader and eBook company in the world, next to Amazon.

The Mini bucked the trend of the standard six inch e-Reader and instead went with a more pocket friendly five inch model. It used e Ink Vizplex technology and had a resolution of  of 800×600 pixels. Underneath the hood was a 800 MHZ processor, which was the exact same as the Kobo Touch employed years prior.

The intention behind the Mini was to offer a cheap and cheerful device at $99 and was discounted heavily during its lifecycle to $29.99.  When the e-reader first came out I mentioned “It will be interesting to see how the market responds to a strongly marketed five inch ereader. For the last four years all of the major players have released six inch or larger e-readers. Other companies have released smaller models, but never saw any traction because of poor retail distribution channels and brand awareness. The Kobo Mini is one of the best bangs for your buck if you are on a budget and still want a fully featured e-reader. The company does a great job in appealing to international customers, something the other major players don't do very well. Most lock you into specific regional variants of their stores and exclude anyone living outside a specific geographical region.”

Kobo Aura HD


The new Kobo Aura HD e-reader.


The Kobo Aura HD was billed as a limited edition e-reader that was released April 25th 2013.  It featured a 6.8 inch screen with a tremendous resolution  of 1440×1080 with 265 ppi. The front-lite technology also received an elevated boost and put Kobo on par with Kindle in terms of screen technology. 

The Aura HD was a runaway success and quickly accounted for 25% of Kobos international hardware sales. Readers loved the fact they had almost an extra inch to read their eBooks, magazines, newspapers or PDF content.

One of the best aspects of the Aura HD was the responsive main menu. The new screen has three main segments that displays icons for everything you have done in the last 12 processes. This gives you shortcuts to your most commonly accessed features, such as the web-browser, custom shelves, Reading Life, and ebooks. The Sync feature to fetch new content is now on the main screen, too, which is the only element that remains persistent. I actually like the more effective use of screen real estate. Rather than browsing four different sub-menus to access the internet browser, it will appear on your main screen if you have recently used it.

When this first came out, I mentioned during my review “When it comes to high resolution displays, customers often gravitate towards full color tablets instead of e-readers. This has been the growing trend in the last few years, and it's completely amazing to see a brand stay loyal and committed to its e-ink line of devices. Simply put, the Kobo Aura HD has the highest resolution out of any six or seven inch tablet or e-reader in the world. If images and clarity of text matter to you, this is a must purchase.”

The AURA HD is still currently the flagship e-reader from Kobo and is currently my favorite dedicated e-reader on the market. It taps into an ecosystem of over 3 million eBooks and is relevant in every major country in the world. Simply put, this was the best, most complete product Kobo produced in their entire company history.

Kobo Aura


Kobo Aura outdoor reading


In September 2013 Kobo released a six inch iteration  of the Kobo Aura. It featured a  6-inch e-ink ClarityScreen display with 1014×758 resolution, 16 level grey scale and a built-in LED front-light. It has 4 GB of storage, weighs 6.1 ounces, has 2 months of battery life, a Freescale i.MX507 1 GHz processor, and a microSD expansion slot.

Kobo employed a new PDF rendering engine in the Aura HD and the Aura. It allowed readers to have better navigation on the document by giving a small preview window to help keep you oriented.

When the Kobo Aura was released I stated “The Aura is amazing, one of the best e-readers ever released. One of the best features is the capacitive multi-touch display and the ability to really make reading shine. The screen is flush with the bezel and not sunken like every other e-reader currently on the market. The internet and PDF experience is the best you will get on a six inch device, trouncing Sony.”

The Evolution of the Kobo e-Reader – In Pictures is a post from: Good e-Reader

Use Daily by Buffer to Discover and Share New Social Media Content

BufferWe’re all addicted to social media, some of us more than others, and it can be a little daunting to juggle accounts with all the biggies like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Luckily for us, apps like Buffer exist to let you leverage content to be shared easily across all of your accounts. To further compliment their existing app, the company has released Daily by Buffer –branded as “Tinder for content sharing”.

The concept is simple: every day you are presented with a selection of articles and posts that the app feels you would enjoy.  If you like them, swipe right… if you aren’t so keen, swipe left. After you go through all of your picks, review your Buffer queue and share them out across your connected social media accounts.

Daily by Buffer currently offers five to sex stories each day and a lot of the content is being reused from the main Buffer app, but in time this offering should improve.

So far the app is only available for iOS devices –but with any lucky there will be an Android version available soon.

Use Daily by Buffer to Discover and Share New Social Media Content is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kindle Comparison Table Updated

This is a quick note to mention that I’ve finally updated the Kindle Comparison Table to reflect the current status of available Kindles (in the US, at least). I should have updated the page a long time ago, but it’s always hard to keep up with updating older pages, so I guess it’s better late […]

Samsung Files Suite of Patents for Next Generation of Android Wear

Samsung PatentIn this brave new world filled with patent disputes and court cases, it’s hard to care about news that Samsung has a few new ideas that they want to retain credit for and control over –but with wearable technology being the latest exciting thing, new applications give us hints as to what we might expect to see in the next generation of products. If this is true, Samsung may have something great in store for us.

In the latest round of patent filings, Samsung suggests you could “move your wrist to call up different features, or tap on the screen to interact with remote controls for devices around your house” or that the device may ” display the time when at rest inactive on your wrist, and it would be laden with sensors, including an optical one for monitoring pulse.” Even more amazing is the idea that a smartwatch could “recognize barcodes, images, objects and do optical character recognition (plus translation) for printed text.”

Of course, Samsung ups the ridiculous ante when they also suggest the circular face is their invention –but it is hard to blame them when you consider the lawsuits Apple has filed against them for ideas based on shapes. Nonetheless, all of these patent applications mean the wearable Android market is alive, evolving and still very exciting for those of us staying tuned.

Samsung Files Suite of Patents for Next Generation of Android Wear is a post from: Good e-Reader

Onyx Boox i86 Runs Android 4.0 and Has 8-inch 1600 x 1200 E Ink Screen

Onyx international has some ambitious plans for 2014. They just released the Boox i63ML Newton with a 6-inch E Ink Carta display and Android 2.3. Onyx also demoed the Boox T68 and M96 ebook readers at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair earlier this month—they both run Android 4.0 and have 6.8-inch and 9.7-inch screen respectively. […]

Important Holiday Reads in Remembrance

While Memorial Day has typically grown into a day of picnics and discount furniture sales, a resurgence in a true observance of the holiday has evolved in recent years. As one of the longest-standing observance holidays, Memorial Day–once known as Decoration Day–grew out of the need for national cemeteries to bury the fallen from the deadliest war in US history, the Civil War. In the spring of every year, in what is believed to have been completely independent observances by cities around the country, businesses would close and the townspeople would clean and decorate the graves of the soldiers in those cemeteries, knowing that their own families were not there to do so.

As more and more individuals have become aware of the need to keep the holiday focused on its original mission, a variety of real-time and virtual observance events have been established. For example, in every local time zone across the US, three pm has been declared a moment of observance. Social media traffic and hashtags have been devoted to remembering soldiers from every war who lost their lives in battle, while many other members of the online community are calling for better treatment and government benefits for those soldiers who were willing to sacrifice but ultimately are our proud veterans.

Below is a curated list of great books to help readers spend some time today remembering what others have sacrificed, whether at home or abroad. We can argue the merits, criticisms, or political ramifications of any US conflict some other day, but these books will shed light on what US citizens endured for the cause of freedom.

Abandoned in Place – Lynn M. O’Shea (POWs in Viet Nam)

American Trophies – Mark Sauter and John Zimmerlee (POWs in Korea)

No Easy Day – Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer (SEAL Team Mission)

A Higher Call – Adam Makos and Larry Alexander (WWII Air Battle)

Sergeant Rex – Mike Dowling and Damien Lewis (Military Working Dogs)

Important Holiday Reads in Remembrance is a post from: Good e-Reader

BookExpo Kicks Off This Week with the IDPF Conference

The IDPF, of International Digital Publishing Forum, is on a mission to be the bridge between what the publishing industry has known about its business for the past few centuries, and where books and bookselling is headed. For the past many years, IDPF has conducted a one-day conference just prior to the official opening of the largest publishing industry event in the world, BookExpo America. These pre-show events included keynote speakers and smaller informational sessions that examined the current and future status of ebooks.

This year, the IDPF Digital Book conference has grown into a two-day event and will feature an entirely new track from the Book Industry Study Group, “Making Information Pay.”

“The IDPF has partnered with BISG to bring its attendees the highly-acclaimed BISG Making Information Pay conference. Co-located for the first time with IDPF, BISG’s Making Information Pay is an annual half-day conference for senior executives in operations, sales, and marketing, providing trendable information and insights about the best practices driving the success of today’s industry leaders.”

With a full line-up of industry experts covering everything from marketing, digital standards, library lending, social media promotion, and more, this event is a catch-all for anyone remotely involved in the book industry. Moreover, this event has in the past been associated with product launches, innovation announcements, and the adoption of standards such as EPUB3, and this year is expected to be no different; one tracked session will even examine the emergence of EDUPUB as a standard for educational publishing and e-learning.Good e-Reader is an official media sponsor of the event and will post updates and live tweets throughout the two-day conference.

BookExpo Kicks Off This Week with the IDPF Conference is a post from: Good e-Reader

Test Tim’s New Scratch Beta

Since we wrote about our efforts to port Scratch to modern version of the Squeak VM back in January, Tim Rowledge has been beavering away, fixing the bugs you found and adding in the remaining features. We now have something which we feel is very nearly ready for release, and we’d like your help in shaking out any remaining issues: this will be the version of Scratch that ships with the Raspberry Pi in the next academic year, so it’s critical we find these issues now. We are particularly interested in any internationalisation bugs that may have been introduced, or any incompatibilities with the old version.


If you’d like to have a play, you can download the beta here. From the shell, decompress the archive by typing:

tar -xzvf NuScratchBeta4.tgz

and run Scratch by typing:


If you find any bugs please leave a comment under this post – we’ll get right on them. Thank you!