Wednesday, December 24, 2014

You Got a New Kindle e-Reader, Now What?


The Amazon Kindle makes a great e-reader and many people tried to be good all year long so Santa would leave one under the tree. After unwrapping it and powering it on for the first time, whats next? The Amazon ecosystem is fairly extensive. Visiting the online bookstore will have a number of terms that may not make sense, Kindle Worlds, Kindle Singles and Unlimited. What does it all mean and what things should you be most concerned about?

If you have a new Kindle Paperwhite 2, Kindle Voyage, Kindle Basic Touch or a different model, you are now apart of a great new world of e-reading. Amazon has one of the most extensive and well developed ecosystems in the world, and sometimes its not immediately apparent on what they all mean.

First of all, lets understand a few elements of the UI that you need to know. Most Kindle e-readers have a built in lightning system that can be accessed by hitting the little light bulb. You can scroll up and down to find the ideal illumination settings to suit your needs.

Additionally, you might notice a little G,  this is a shortcut to access GoodReads, which is a company Amazon purchased in 2013. On a basic level, it is a book discovery and social community centered around reading. You can participate in online book clubs and add books you are currently reading to your shelf, and share it with friends. Often, like minded souls randomly connect with each other, due to the common literary interests.

Upon visiting the Kindle Store for the first time, there are a few key areas such as Kindle Unlimited, Kindle Worlds, Kindle Singles, Kindle Freetime and Kindle Exclusives. The naming conventions Amazon uses, might confuse some users, lets take a look at what they all mean.

Amazon's Kindle Unlimited, the e-book and audiobook subscription service that lets members pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited access to its catalog, of 700,0000 titles. There is a thirty day free trial and the option to pay $9.99 a month for the service.  You will find a few good reads here, including the Hunger Games series and all of the Harry Potter books. Major publishers have not committed themselves  yet, so you will find many titles by indie authors.

Amazon launched its Kindle Worlds fan fiction platform just over a year ago, and the concept has been a great success for both the rights holders who license content to the site and the fans who adore the concepts and story lines of their favorite authors.  You can think of this as an officially sanctioned service that has properties such as Vampire Diaries and GI JOE.

Launched in January 2011,'s Kindle Singles provides an opportunity for reading customers to find digital titles by established bestselling authors and up-and-coming writers alike that fit a very specific need. With publications whose word counts are limited to between 5,000 words and 30,000 words, Kindle Singles pieces are works that would be considered far too long for magazine space but are too short to be considered a traditional novel.  The one thing I like about Singles is their is a extensive editorial process that does not make it easy for just anymore to list their content on it. You can  insure that most of the e-Books listed in Singles are very high quality.

Kindle Freetime has been around for awhile, but is entirely new to the Kindle Voyage. It allows parents to buy into a monthly subscription program that allows their kids to download unlimited apps, games, and e-Books. The only thing you can really do on the Voyage though, is just read books. This makes it a really good investment if you own the Fire Phone or one of Amazons Fire tablets, but doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as a standalone service on the Voyage.

Kindle Exclusives feature books that are actually published with by Amazon via one of their imprints. They sign established and up and coming authors, selling the books not only on Amazons websites, but bookstores all over the world.  There are only a few hundred books listed in this section, so it should be easy to find something good and they are all affordable. Oh, and they have a fairly cool feature just for Prime members, Read Before Release. It allows you to read the book in full, a few weeks before its due out.

There are a number of cool Amazon tips that you should also be aware of. If you  own a model with a touchscreen, you can actually take screenshots. You simply have to put two fingers in opposing corners and the screen will briefly flash.  You can also use a 3rd party program called Calibre that will allow you to manually load in books that  you download from the internet. The app is available for PC and MAC and also has the ability to convert books from one format to another.

You Got a New Kindle e-Reader, Now What? is a post from: Good e-Reader

The Future of Used eBooks to be Decided January 13th 2015


Tom Kabinet and the Dutch Publishing Association have been at odds with each other with the concept of used e-Books. The two sides of been battling in court for the past few months and a verdict was supposed to occur on December 23rd. Due to the Christmas holidays the judgement has been postponed until 13 January 2015.

The Amsterdam District Court ruled in July that Tom Kabinet can stay open for business during a legal battle against the Dutch Publishers Association. The publishers believe Tom Kabinet infringes on copyrights and they may have a point. Their own research suggests 90% of all eBooks that are listed on the site are pirated and that criminals are reselling books they download from torrent websites.

The big argument that Tom Kabinet is employing is a 2012 decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which ruled in a dispute between Oracle and UsedSoft that the trading of "used" software licenses is legal and that the author of such software cannot oppose any resale.

The Tom Kabinet business model is acting as a facilitator between buyers and sellers. The take a cut of each transaction and embed a digital watermark in the book,  so publishers are verify the book has been officially resold.  The website functions only in the Netherlands, but is hoping that if it beats the court, it can expand into other countries in 2015.

The Future of Used eBooks to be Decided January 13th 2015 is a post from: Good e-Reader

Fire HD and HDX: 50 Tips, Tricks & Recommended Apps

A couple years ago I posted an article with 40 Tips and Tricks for the Kindle Fire HD. Some of the tips still apply to the newer Fire HDX and Fire HD tablets for 2014, but a lot has changed since then so I wanted to put together this updated article with 50 tips, tricks […]

Will Subscription e-Book Sites Continue to be Viable in 2015?


One of the big trends of 2014 was the emergence of subscription services, where you pay a monthly fee and get access to thousands of e-books. Amazon Kindle Unlimited, Oyster, Entitle and Scribd have all gained the support of indie authors and publishers. How viable are their business models and will they continue to grow in 2015, or disappear entirely.

Scribd is the premier subscription reading service with more than 500,000 titles, including New York Times bestsellers, classics, and reader favorites in every genre. A pioneer of the all-you-can-read model, Scribd’s subscriptions service allows readers to have unlimited access to more than 500,000 books from nearly 1,000 publishers, including Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Open Road Media, Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Rosetta, Workman, Wiley and Smashwords.

The site originally launched in 2007 , but only launched their subscription service in October 2013. The service does not seem to be profitable yet and still relies on external funding in other to continue operations. To date, they have raised over $25 million dollars.

Oyster is the other mainstream e-Book subscription service and tends to only focus on the US market.  The company launched in 2013 and currently has over 500,000 e-Books in their portfolio. They deal with the same publishing companies as Scribd does.  They raised over $14 million dollars from a number of venture capital companies and are not profitable yet and rely on their funding to continue doing business. 

Entitle, formerly named eReatah, allows members to read two books a month for $14.99, three books a month for $21.99 and four books a month for $27.99. Members will own and have permanent access to any books they download regardless of their subscription status with Entitle, and these books can be read on up to six devices. Members can read books on the newly-launched Entitle e-reading app for iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

There are over 100,000 titles on the Entitle platform from over a thousand publishers, including Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishers, Kensington Books, Berrett-Koehler, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Workman Publishing, Sourcebooks, Open Road Media, RosettaBooks and many more. Entitle is the only eBook subscription company to secure content deals with more than one of the major corporate publishers, and has titles such as Doctor Sleep, Life of Pi, Duck Dynasty’s Si-ology 101, Beautiful Ruins, Miracles and Massacres, The Perks of Being A Wallflower, The Storyteller, The Bully Pulpit, Happy, Happy, Happy, Remy, Beautiful Beginning, The Light Between Oceans, A House in the Sky, Hero, Brain on Fire, Hyperbole and a Half and City of Bones. In addition, Entitle offers titles distributed by Ingram Content Group and Independent Publishers Group.

In late 2014 Amazon got into the Netflix for e-books game and launched Kindle Unlimited. The service has over 700,000 digital editions available, mainly from small publishers and indie authors. Major publishers have all expressed trepidation about getting involved in the Amazon system  and instead have backed their competition. Currently, Amazon has the largest footprint in terms of members being able to sign up. They operate in US, UK,  Germany, France, Brazil and a few other countries.

Scribd and Osyster have adopted the pay-per-read system in order to pay publishers. Indie authors and publishers earn 60% list price when a reader opens an e-book and reads more than 10% of the book.  On average, Amazon pays authors $1.39 for each qualifying read. In some cases, Amazon ironed out exclusive deals with Pottermore and Susanne Collins for the Hunger Games and the Harry Potter series.

All of these subscription sites never talk about their data and metrics, in terms of how much revenue they gain and or how many paid subscriptions they have. I do know from talking with many industry experts, is none of them, save Amazon is actually making enough money to stay operational. Instead, they are caught in a loop of constantly raiding venture capital in order to stay afloat. It leads me to belive that the average reader is happier buying books, one by one, than having access to an incomprehensible amount. It is far easier from a readers prospective to buy the titles that just came out, than to browse a huge selection of older titles via Scribd and Oyster.

Will these sites continue to be viable in 2015? I have a feeling at least one of these companies will go out of business. The public has not accepted this business model yet and major publishers do not distribute new titles to their platforms, which in turn does not appeal to your the average reader.

Will Subscription e-Book Sites Continue to be Viable in 2015? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon Giving Away $220 Worth of Android Apps

This holiday season Amazon is promoting their largest Android app giveaway in the history of the Amazon appstore. From December 24 through December 26th, you can get $220 worth of paid Android apps for free. The bundle giveaway includes a number of games such as Angry Birds and some old school games like Sonic and […]

Boeye D81: Dual Screen Tablet and E Ink eReader

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a tablet with an E Ink screen on the back? That’s basically the concept of the Boeye D81. On one side it has an 8-inch IPS display; flip it over and there’s an HD E Ink screen on the back. The device is somewhat similar to the Yotaphone, a […]

Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: sneak peek

As you’ll know if you’ve been reading recently, you’ll know we’re sponsoring this year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. The lectures are broadcast this year on BBC4 at 8pm on December 29, 30 and 31 – and we’ve got a sneak peek for you today.

First up, here’s a Tetris clone, being played on the side of a towerblock (yes, a Raspberry Pi was involved in the making of this demo):

And a mixed robot/human orchestra playing the Dr Who theme.

International viewers will be able to watch after the lectures are broadcast on the Royal Institution’s website, where you also can learn much more about this 189-year-old education and entertainment tradition. Merry Christmas!