Friday, May 22, 2015

Where in the World are 13.3 Inch e-Readers?


Over the course of the last year many companies have expressed interest about designing and marketing a 13.3 inch e-reader.  Many of the devices currently in development are in limo and the only customer to actively bring a device to market, is Sony. Where in the world are the 13.3 inch e-readers?

There are two prevailing technologies used in large screen e-readers. E Ink Fina is the cheaper option, since its made of glass, but its not very viable in a 13.3 inch device due to the fact it can easily shatter and is not very portable. The other technology is Mobius, which is what the Sony Digital Paper employs. It features a plastic screen, so its very flexible and lightweight, but tremendously expensive.

Without any fanfare the Pocketbook CAD was at an e Ink booth in January 2014 at CES. It featured a 13.3 inch screen and utilized Fina. The device was designed for construction business, designed to work on construction sites with dump & moisture proof body

In December 2014 Pocketbook announced that they had developed a second e-reader called the Pocketbook CAD Flex. This model upgraded from a glass based Fina e-paper screen to a 13.3 inch Mobius panel.  This is the exact same screen that the popular Sony Digital Paper employs. The processor was increased to a 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU, but the RAM was decreased to 512 MB and internal storage lowered to 8 GB. They also mentioned that the final price will be around $574.00.

Onyx has not officially announced anything yet, but the are developing a 13.3 inch e-reader. They basically said back in 2014 they wanted to do it, but nothing really has been heard about it yet. We do have some new rumors surrounding the device though.

The Onyx 13.3 inch e-reader will have a functioning prototype this Autumn. This device will employ  an e-Ink Mobius display, but the plastic screens are still terribly expensive and the company wants the display to come down in price. Technically they could release it in two months but it will be at such a high price, that few people would pay the money for one.

Not very much market research has been done on the mass production costs of Fina and Mobius display screens or how much money users would fork over to buy an 13.3 inch alternative to the DPT-S1. So the question is, how much would you pay for one?

Where in the World are 13.3 Inch e-Readers? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Penguin Random House Negotiating a New Contract with Amazon

Penguin-Random-House-interim-logo123Penguin Random House is negotiating its first mega contract with Amazon since the two sides merged in July 2013. Their current contract with Amazon UK expires at the end of the month and the contract in the US is up for renewal towards the end of the year.

When Penguin merged with Random House the publisher now accounts for 1/4 of all new novels in print. With so many books in their repertoire comes tremendous negotiating power. There are not many online digital book sellers that could stay viable if suddenly all of the books published by Penguin Random House were pulled.

It is very unlikely that the two sides won’t sign off on a new contract. Sources within Amazon and the Publisher have stated they are not going to get to the point where suddenly all print and e-books are not available to be purchased. Penguin Random House spokeswoman Claire Von Schillin said "We are in continuous conversation with Amazon with whom we have an ongoing business relationship. We have no intention whatsoever of ceasing to sell our print or digital titles on Amazon. We want our books to be accessible and available everywhere."

In the last twelve calendar months Amazon has successfully ironed out new contracts with Macmillan, Hachette and S&S. These publishers can set the prices for its electronic books, though Amazon promised "financial incentives for them to deliver lower prices." This is known in the publishing industry as “agency-lite.”

It will be interesting if Penguin Random House signs off on the same contract that the others did. You would figure with being the biggest publisher in the world, they could get better terms.

Penguin Random House Negotiating a New Contract with Amazon is a post from: Good e-Reader

Major Publishers Are Not Listening to Authors


The dream for many aspiring writers is to be picked up by a major publisher. This is often seen as the key to international distribution and being able to attain a fat advance in order to write a single or series of books. According to a recent report, there are many problems with traditional publishing and is driving authors to self-publish instead.

One of the big problems in the traditional publishing industry is that the major publishers simply don’t have time to talk to their authors. They are more concerned hyping up the next big novel and making sure the business is making money.

The average traditionally published author has found it difficult to love their publisher. A recent survey conducted by Harry Bingham and Jane Friedman polled 812 writers in the UK and US. It found that 75% of responding authors said they have never been asked for feedback from their publisher and 28% said communication from their publisher before, during, and after publication was inconsistent, confusing or always poor.

Why aren’t publishers talking with their authors? Writer Sara Sheridan basically spelled it all out. "Authors are 100% invested in the book [they have] written", while an "editor has a stable of books coming out in the same month or season and the reality is that they only need one or two of those books to make it big". She added: "Corporate publishers are engaged in a kind of intellectual property gambling. In this environment, your precious book is less important to them than it is to you."

Harry Bingham who was one of the organizers of the poll lamented “It's odd, isn't it? You buy a book from Amazon and it'll ask you to rate the packaging. You publish a book with a major publishing house . . . and no one asks you to rate anything. According to our stats, 74% of authors aren't asked to give feedback at all, while only 16% felt that they were asked for feedback in a manner which allowed them "to communicate freely". That's not very good, is it? When we looked only at the responses from authors on larger advances, the pattern of responses was essentially identical.”

Is the clear lack of communication driving authors away from traditionally publishing and instead electing to self-publish? There has been an exodus of authors in the last few years that have successfully branched out to having control of their own destiny and reaping financial rewards. It takes a special type of  person to have success in this arena. You have to be motivated to succeed, while others need an agent, or editor berating them to meet deadlines.

If one thing is clear. Publishing companies aren’t interacting with your average author, they simply have too many things on their minds

Major Publishers Are Not Listening to Authors is a post from: Good e-Reader

Onyx M96 Plus e-Reader Now Available in Europe


Large screen e-readers are an anomaly in the market, as the vast majority of companies focus exclusively on the six inch class. Onyx has continued to buck the trend with their portfolio of 9.7 inch e-readers. This week, Onyx has just launched an improved version of their Onyx Boox M96 in Europe.

The M96 Plus features an e-Ink Pearl display with a resolution of 1200×825 Pixels and 256 PPI. This model is a bit of an upgrade over the M96, which is a bit long in the tooth. It has 1 GB of RAM, instead of 512 and 8 GB of internal memory vs 4 GB of the original model.

I think users will be attracted to the fact this large screen e-reader has built in speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack. This will allow you to listen to music and audiobooks. Additionally for people with vision disorders there are options for text to speech.

Likely the major selling point is the fact it runs Google Android. It ships with Android 4.04, but a source at Onyx has told me that within a month they will upgrade the OS to 4.4 (Kit-Kat).

The M96 Plus is currently being sold by a single German website, that ships the e-reader anywhere in the world, but the focus is Europe. The e-Reader just received an English firmware update, so its completely viable for most users.

So the big question, is the M96 Plus a good e-reader? A user emailed us and gave their thoughts on the new model. “As a student at the University I had to print every week some 200 pages. With this new e-reader, I don’t do that anymore. Their Neo Reader app, exclusive for their devices, is the best I have seen to date, for tackling PDF documents. There are multiple zooming variants which help you to adapt to the characteristics of your document.”

So what are the cons? Well, he said “The glass screen makes the e-reader very heavy, so its hard to use it while commuting. It also does not come with any dictionaries, you have to download them yourself. The software is also not as refined as Amazon or Kobo, this is because the Chinese market is really not that choosy about design and software, so there is not so much pressure to make things more attractive.”

Onyx M96 Plus e-Reader Now Available in Europe is a post from: Good e-Reader

Japanese Instant Messaging Service LINE is Trialing Paid Music Service


Line Free Calls & Messages is one of the most popular apps on Android and the Japanese company boasts 205 million active users. In order to further cement themselves as the definitive messaging app the company is trailing a $2.00 a month music streaming service.

Thailand is the second largest market for Line users, next to Japan. This is where Line Music is starting its pilot project. Will 30 million users embrace a paid music service that comprises of over 100,000 songs from major record labels such as RS Music?

Line is betting that they will. The main factor is that there is no international music streaming services in Thailand, other than Deezer. This gives Line the advantage of being able to offer a huge catalog of music by Thai artists.

The Thai market is not used to paying for digital content. Line will have an upward battle training their users to pay the $2.00 a month for unlimited music.

The overall timing of Line Music couldn’t be better. Last year Line purchased MixRadio Music from Microsoft for an undisclosed sum. The service just went live this week on Android and iOS devices. Line has confirmed that the two music services are being independently run from each other, but you have to figure that there will be crossover synergy on the business level.

Japanese Instant Messaging Service LINE is Trialing Paid Music Service is a post from: Good e-Reader

Adobe Discontinues Photoshop Touch


Adobe has announced that they are discontinuing Photoshop Touch for Android and iOS.  The app will only be available until May 28, whereupon Adobe will yank it from the market. Copies of the software installed on devices will continue to work “for the foreseeable future.”

Photoshop Touch came out in early 2011, which was about the same time that the post-PC era began. The app has been considered the kitchen sink of software, with a ton of features jam packed into a single paid app.

Adobe is piviting from one app to rule them all, to a series of specialized apps.  In the last few years they pushed out  Photoshop Mix (which specializes in compositing), Photoshop Sketch (drawing), and Adobe Shape (which lets you snap a photo and convert it for editing), and a myriad of others. These are iOS apps at the moment, but Adobe says it’s working on Android versions.

Adobe is quietly developing a new photo retouching app, that will be released sometime this year. The video below shows the new app in action, and you can see a number of Photoshop features.

Adobe Discontinues Photoshop Touch is a post from: Good e-Reader

New Adult Edition of eHighlights for August and September are out!

The Collection Development team has scouted the best titles for August and September in the newest edition of the Adult eHighlights catalog!

With new books from Jonathan Franzen, Alice Hoffman, James Patterson, Kim Harrison, Sue Grafton, Christopher Moore, Haruki Murakami, Edward St. Aubyn, John Scalzi, and, Margaret Atwood – there is something for everyone. I'm especially excited for the new Lisbeth Salander novel by David Lagercrantz, The Girl in the Spider's Web. This Blockbuster lineup cannot be missed so make sure you stock up on titles for your patrons!

Stay tuned for the August & September edition of eHighlights for Kids and Teens coming soon.

Is Digital Publishing Broken?

It’s been eight long years since Amazon rocked the reading world with the introduction of the Kindle. It was certainly not the first e-reader device on the market, but it was the first one with the power of Amazon’s PR team to put it in consumers’ hands in a big way, and it was the first one that came with the world’s largest online bookseller to feed it.

And the industry hasn’t stopped changing since then.

But one of the more dynamic areas of digital publishing that has brought with it tremendous change is in the abundance of companies who offer some for of publishing solution. Whether it’s for individual authors with a dream of finally publishing their books or major powerhouses in the content field who wanted to digitize their catalog, there was no shortage of startups–both great and fairly evil–who came out to offer their services for a fee.

By now, many of the original players–primarily those who saw instant dollars signs instead of a long-haul industry option–have moved on, leaving behind a few steadfast game changers. Some of them, unfortunately, such as Author Solutions just won’t take the hint and go away, while others like Vook have shifted and adapted many times over the years to keep up with a changing market.

Vook, which recently announced its acquisition of both Byliner and Booklr, has rebranded itself as Pronoun and has shifted focus to working directly with authors with an unheard of free model that gives 100% of the royalties to authors. This emerging new concept is intended to fix a broken publishing industry, but just how broken is it?

“Though the publishing industry is filled with people who care deeply about books, it always privileges someone above the author — whether it's the retailer, the distributor, or the publisher. When there's a conflict of interest, the author loses. When margins increase, the author is the last to benefit,” they stated in an announcement this week.

The post highlights a crucial issue facing the digital publishing industry, whether it starts with traditional or self-publishing: we still don’t have a way to use technology to make a book more visible. We can blame the glut of content out there, but that’s a pretty easy target. There were books than any consumer could ever read long before self-published authors filled Amazon’s catalog with vampire-dinosaur-Big Foot-erotica. But despite the promises from the industry, no one has found a foolproof way to take an ebook file and put it directly in front of its ideal customer.

That will be the next wave of revolutionary startup in digital publishing, the powerhouses that find a way to fully address book discovery. Where players like Amazon, Goodreads, and other recommendation engines have failed to help either authors or readers with the issue, the next winner in publishing will have the technology to help books rise above.

Is Digital Publishing Broken? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Getting started with the Internet of Things

By 2020 there will be twelvety gigajillion of Internet Things all shouting at each other and sulking – Alice Bevel

The Internet of Things had been around for a while (since 1982 apparently) but it's still a bit of a mystery to many. The concept of hooking up physical devices and letting them talk to each other is great, but how do you get started? How do you get useful data from them?

A Thing

A Thing

I've been playing around with IoT this week and came across this great starter IoT project for the Pi, a people counting project by Agustin Pelaez. It's an oldie but goodie and worth a mention because it's as simple as it gets in terms of IoT—a sensor sends data to a server, which then presents the data in a nice, human-friendly form.

PIR connected to Pi

A £2 PIR connected directly to the Pi with just three wires ( Photo: Agustin Pelaez)

It's also as cheap as chips—apart from a Pi you only need a passive infra-red sensor (PIR) as used in several of our resources. We love PIRs: they cost a couple of quid, connect directly to the Pi GPIO pins and they can be used for all sorts of useful and/or mad projects. The basic Ubidots account that stores and analyses the data is free. So this is an ideal IoT beginners' project— cheap, straightforward and can be adapted to other projects. (Note that there is a bug in the code, peopleev = 0 should read peoplecount = 0.)

node-red and thingbox

Node-RED on Thingbox, controlling LEDs on the Pi via the web (Photo:

If you want to dig further without too much pain, the ThingBox has an SD card image for the Pi that allows you to "Install Internet of Things technologies on a Raspberry Pi without any technical knowledge" and has a number of basic projects to get you started. It works with Ubidots out of the box and has a number of tutorials that will help you learn common IoT tools like Node-RED on the Pi (including a PIR counter project which is a nice compare-and-contrast  to the Python based one above.)

I like the ThingBox a lot. It lowers the activation energy needed to get started with IoT on the Pi (actually, it makes it easy) and it allows all Pi owners access to what appears at first glance to be an arcane … Thing. The Internet of Things is fun, useful and empowering, and a natural extension to physical computing using the GPIO pins on the Pi. Hook up some Things today and have play.

Another Thing

Another Thing

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