Archive for November, 2010

Flash! Survey: iPad catching Kindle as EBR choice

November 30, 2010

Flash! Survey: iPad catching Kindle as EBR choice

Thanks to SRB of the Amazon Kindle community for this heads-up.

ChangeWave, which surveys consumers, has put out a new report on EBRs (E-Book Readers).  It is summarized in this

Investor Place article

There are a lot of interesting statistics in it.  One of the flashiest is a line graph showing Kindle ownership and iPad ownership.  In August of 2010, 62% of EBR owners reported having Kindles, 16% for iPads.  In November, it’s 47% and 32%.  That means that in three months, the spread went from 46% to 15%.  That’s closing the gap at…a bit over 10% a month, which would mean (if it held steady) that the iPad would catch the Kindle early next year.

As a significant part of that, iPad owners reported being more satisfied with their devices than Kindle owners.

Now, this trend may not hold, of course.  One factor to me is that NOOKcolor, which I think will hurt the iPad more than the Kindle…it’s much more similar to that device, although not marketed the same way.  I don’t think it will hurt it a lot, but I do think there will be a market for it.  Other tablets may also dilute the iPad market.  I think it is more likely that additional tablets take market share than additional EBRs (E-Book Readers) do.  The exception to that might be in periodical reading…if there was a great dedicated newspaper/magazine device, that could be attractive to the market.  That’s what the Skiff was supposed to be…but I just noticed that my link now goes to a “404 – File or directory not found” error.

I recommend that you read the article…lots of interesting information.

What do you think?  Can dedicated EBRs hold on?  Were iPad owners predisposed to be satisfied?  Does the iPad’s new firmware update allowing a form of multi-tasking bump it up further?  Will Amazon go back to concentrating on content, or will they introduce a successful tablet of their own?  Feel free to let me know.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! B&N reports 2nd Qtr: digital up, stores down

November 30, 2010

Flash! B&N reports 2nd Qtr: digital up, stores down

Barnes & Noble has reported on its 2nd quarter (ending October 30, 2010) results:

press release

No question, digital has been good for them.  They had tried e-books years ago and it didn’t work for them, but they are clearly making an effort…and succeeding…this time around.  They are being bold, and Amazon has sometimes been seen as responding to actions B&N takes.  For example, B&N cut prices on their EBR (E-Book Reader)…Amazon followed, with a slightly deeper cut.  B&N released a wifi model…Amazon followed.  B&N has released the NOOKcolor…if Amazon releases a similar tablet computer, they’ll be seen as a step behind.

This has been a tough time for retailers to gain ground, but B&N was up 59% (at the website, at any rate).

The brick and mortar stores?  Down 3.3%.

Is digital carrying the brick and mortars?  Interesting question…they say that the NOOKColor is the number one selling product at Barnes & Noble…they don’t limit that to the website.

This is good news for readers generally, I think…the human kind, not the devices.  ;)  I like competition…I think it can drive innovation.

I do still prefer the Kindle (and especially the Kindle service).  There are several reasons for that which I’ve discussed elsewhere, but I do congratulate B&N on starting to see results from their big investment in new reading technology, and for making bold moves.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! We’re rich!

November 30, 2010

Flash! We’re rich!

GIK MRI reports some interesting statistics on EBR (E-Book Reader) owners.

55% of us have household incomes over $100,000.  Of course, that doesn’t seem rich to you…at least not when you make that much.  ;)

I never like to take too much from other people’s work, so I’ll direct you to this

press release

and then just mention one particular statistic.

74.9% of EBR owners report having read a book on the device in the last six months.

That means that over a quarter of the owners of EBRs have not read a book on them for six months!

Wow!  Minesweeper is more addictive than I thought.  ;)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! Did Mark Twain consider the e-book rights?

November 29, 2010

Flash! Did Mark Twain consider the e-book rights?

When you think Mark Twain, you probably think more about rafts and jumping frog contests than high tech.

I’m reading The Autobiography of Mark Twain right now.

The author was surprisingly high tech.  He invested in new technology, and seems surprised when someone doesn’t have a telephone.

I’ll write more about the book when I finish it, but this passage considerably surprised me.

George Harvey was acting as Mark Twain’s agent.  A document is quoted that says this:

“The agreement would, of course, provide for publication in whatever modes should then be prevalent, that is, by printing as at present, or by use of phonographic cylinders, or by electrical method, or by any other mode which may then be in use, any number of which would doubtless occur to his vivid imagination, and would form an interesting clause in the agreement.”

Phonographic cylinders obviously presages audiobooks, but “electrical method”?  That clearly sounds like e-books (even if the “e” is for electronic and not electrical).

The plan was to publish the Autobiography one hundred years after Twain’s death, so they were trying to look ahead.  Yes, it also sounds somewhat like that part of the contract would be written in part to amuse Twain.  That does suggest, though, that Twain would have looked at it or had it discussed with him…so he would have been considering the e-book rights one hundred years ago.

Hmm…can you picture Huck Finn with a smartphone?  ;)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Freebie flash! Stuck, Fireflies, Scandal, Commentary…and Bruce Pandolfini

November 29, 2010

 Freebie flash! Stuck, Fireflies, Scandal, Commentary…and Bruce Pandolfini

As usual, I don’t vouch for these books, and they come from companies that are not (to my knowledge) blocking text-to-speech. As promotional titles, they may not be free for long. Note: these books are free in the USA: prices in other countries may vary.

Stuck in the Middle
Sister-to-Sister #1
by Virginia Smith
published by Revell (part of Baker, a faith-based publisher)

Fireflies in December 
by Jennifer Erin Valent
published by Tyndale House (a faith-based publisher)

Christmas Scandal…Not!
by Jeanne Savery
Part of the Scintillating Samples series
published by Cerridwen Press (a publisher of “erotic romance for women”)

NOTE: this is short story

John (St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary)
by R.C. Sproul
published by Reformation Trust Publishing (a faith-based publisher)

The Rules of Chess
by Bruce Pandolfini
published by Russell Enterprises

Pandolfini is one of the chess authors, and was portrayed by Ben Kingsley in Searching for Bobby Fischer.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! A Kindle book with locations AND page numbers

November 29, 2010

Flash! A Kindle book with locations AND page numbers

A lot of people find it hard to adjust to the Kindle using locations rather than page numbers

I actually prefer the locations.  They are a smaller unit, and therefore a better locator. 

However, people correctly point out that it is harder for people with Kindles and people with paperbooks to find the same place in the book.  That particularly comes up with book clubs and in academic settings.

I’ve heard a lot of solutions suggested.  Here are a couple:

  • One way is to have the page number appear in the Kindle in the same place it appears in the paperbook…which might mean right in the middle of the screen
  • Another one is to have the page number appear as it does on some other EBRs (E-Book Readers)…say, at the top or the bottom.  However, since you can change the text size, that means you might be on the same page number for several screens.  I would find that confusing, personally

Well, I recently finished

Curious Folks Ask: 162 Real Answers on Amazing Inventions, Fascinating Products, and Medical Mysteries

by Sherry Seethaler

It’s the kind of book that I read a bit at a time.  I’d gotten it as a freebie some time back, and it’s been free again since then (but it’s not now).

The nice (and surprising) thing was in the back of the book. 

Apparently, they had the index from the paperbook.  This will give you the idea:

vitellogenin, 190
vitreous fluid, 146–147
voice, age–related changes to, 75–76
voltage standards, 25–26

The nice thing?

Those page numbers were hyperlinks to the same place in the e-book file!

So, that actually works quite well for me.  When I’m reading, I’m not seeing those irrelevant page numbers.   Irrelevant?  Well, as I like to say:

“How many pages does an e-book have?”

“Zero…e-books don’t have pages.”

:)

Then, if I want to go to a particular page equivalent, I can go to the index and do that.  A publisher could easily set up a “page jump”.  They could have a table something like this:

Page Location
1 1
2 30
3 60
4 65
5 95

I just made up those numbers, by the way.  The numbers could be hyperlinks to the spot in the book.

That wouldn’t satisfy everybody, of course…it seems like nothing does.  ;) 

Still, I like it.  It’s simple, and will help people transition, while still letting them communicate with people still using paper.

For books that were never on paper, we can figure a page every 250 words.  We could figure out a way to show that.

What do you think?  Would that work for you, or do you still want page numbers while you are reading?  Feel free to let me know.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! Homeland Security seizes bit torrent domain names

November 28, 2010

Flash! Homeland Security seizes bit torrent domain names

“Avast, ye scurvy dogs!  It be off to the brig with ye!”

Actually, even though it was fun to write that line, it’s not what happened.

ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has a reputation as being the enforcer in illegal alien issues in the USA.  However, they are also (as the C indicates) part of Customs.  Customs has to do with import.

ICE is part of the Department of Homeland Security (which integrates over twenty government agencies.

Let me set this up for you, and why it is related to e-books.

BitTorrent is a “protocol” that allows peer to peer sharing.  You can use it to send files and get files.  There isn’t exactly a central server…I could send to you and vice versa.

While there are legal uses for BitTorrent, it has also extensively been used by “pirate” sites to distribute unauthorized copies of movies, TV shows, music…and e-books.

Those sites are often outside the US, and they often are infringing on the legal rights of US entities.  That’s why this is under the jurisdiction of DHS.  If it was all taking place in the US, the FBI (and/or the Federal Trade Commission…and some other authorities) would have taken the lead, most likely.

What the government did, logistically, was pretty clever and simple.  They seized the domain names.  Let’s say that a site was named twobitsisaquartertorrent.com.  Before Friday, you could have gone to that site and been able to download illegal copies of, say, Harry Potter.  ICE took over the domain name, and put their own message on it.  The message basically said that the site had been seized pursuant to a warrant.

I’m not seeing a press release, but here is a

New York Times article

This is certainly not the first time sites have been seized but this story seems to have more of a buzz because of the involvement of DHS.

One of the main questions for people is going to be if the seizure was too broad.  If American sites had links to international sites, they may have been seized…but I haven’t seen the specifics of the warrant.  The warrant means that someone had to submit evidence and a judge had to approve.

Being shutdown is not good, of course, but at this point, I don’t think there is any other punishment.  Pirates haven’t been thrown into the brig, yet, from what I’ve heard.

I’ve also already heard that other sites are up.

If you use these sites, you know how you have been affected.  What if you don’t?

Well, fear of piracy has been one of the reasons some authors and publishers have suggested they haven’t done an e-book version.  I personally think that having a legitimate e-book version available is the best way to combat illegal versions, but it’s hard to get real statistics.

Conceptually, I don’t see a problem with this mission: stop sites enabling illegal activity.  It’s the execution of it that will get careful examination.  What if someone was writing about bittorrent sites, even critically, and linked to them?  Presumably, they would not have been included in a warrant…but we will probably hear stories alleging that sort of thing happened.

What do you think?  Does this strike a blow for artists?  Is this the government doing the work of big corporations?  Is it censorship?  Is it protecting the US from foreign infringement?  Feel free to let me know.

For more on piracy, see this earlier post.

Edited to add: tuxgirl, one of my regular readers, pointed out that speculation that this could be related to the recent wikileaks release of documents.  That’s certainly possible.  I’m not quite sure why ICE would lead that, though. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Covers, skins, and sleeves

November 28, 2010

Covers, skins, and sleeves

“Covers, skins, and sleeves
We put them on our Kindles, up and down
We use them: Covers, skins, and sleeves
But on the sites they’re all around
So we lay our money down”

One of the questions I see frequently is people asking if they need a cover for their Kindle…and other EBRs (E-Book Readers) for that matter.  I thought I’d take a pretty high-level view in this post and look at the options.

The answer to the basic question is no, you don’t need a cover.  The Kindle will work fine without it.  It’s safe to hold it “naked”, and many people prefer reading it that way.  Your Kindle will certainly feel lighter.

If you do decide to accessorize it, here are some choices:

Covers

A cover…covers the Kindle.  :)   You can read your Kindle in that cover, or take it out.  There are many configurations…ones that open like a book, ones that flip over the top of the Kindle.  Some even have an easel, so they hold the Kindle at a slant.  I like that myself, and use it in restaurants.  They range from pretty inexpensive (I’ve seen them as low as about ten dollars) up to literally hundreds of dollars for hand-crafted leather models.  That’s a way you can make your Kindle into more of a luxury item.

I do recommend a cover, primarily for drop protection.  The covers are typically padded and extend somewhat beyond the edges of the Kindle.  When you drop a Kindle (and many people have), it helps a lot to have something take up the shock.  If your Kindle lands on a corner with a cover that cover can flex a bit.  If your Kindle lands on a corner of the device, that’s quite a shock to it. 

Covers can also keep the Kindle more protected from the elements…and from spills. 

I’ve always had a cover for my Kindles.  There are many brands, but I’d rather keep this particular post about the concepts.

Covers may also have pockets you can use to carry things, like a lens wipe for the screen.

Covers, by the way, must be for the right version of the Kindle.  A Kindle 3 has a diferent morphology (it has different dimensions) than a Kindle 2, a Kindle 1, or a Kindle DX.  Since the Kindle is held in place somehow, one model’s cover won’t fit another model well.  That’s also true for sleeves, below.

So, although you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you can judge a cover for an e-book reader.  ;)

Sleeves

Sleeves are like an envelope into which you put the KindleYou slide the Kindle out of them to read.  They can be quite decorative, and may be padded as well.  The cheapest sleeve is a padded mailing envelope.  I’ve used those…that’s about a dollar.  :)   I’ve seen them up to thirty-five dollars or so.

Does a sleeve offer the same protection as a cover?  Well, one of the disadvantages is that your Kindle is unprotected while you are reading…and that’s one of the times you are more likely to drop it.  It’s good for transport, though…and some of them look cool.  :)

Skins

A skin is a sticker that you put on the body of the Kindle.  It will have cut-outs for the buttons, and they are typically removable.  These are primarily decorative.  They don’t provide any drop protection.  They might keep you from getting stuff on the Kindle body…but they wouldn’t stop liquids from entering the device.  You can get custom-made ones, and lots of designs.  These are fun, but I wouldn’t think of them as protecting the Kindle.

Those are the three that I mentioned in the subject title, but there are two more I want to discuss.  It’s just that I couldn’t do that Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves parody at the top if I included them in the name of the post.  ;)

Screen protectors

A screen protector is a transparent film you put directly on to the screen.  It’s designed to prevent scratches and such.  That is important on some devices with plastic covers, but I’ve never heard of someone scratching the Kindle screen.  Cracking it, yes, even chipping it.  Think of the Kindle’s screen as a window…it would be one tough cookie to scratch.  Screen protectors also make the screen harder to see.  It’s just another layer in-between…it may not be bad, but you may notice it.  I don’t recommend these for the Kindle, but some people do use them.  Also, the Kindle screen is pretty easy to clean if you get a spot on it…the screen protector may not be.

Cases

The difference between a case and a cover is that the case fully encloses the Kindle.  A cover is open on three sides.  If you are taking your Kindle whitewater rafting, you definitely want a case.  There are hard cases and waterproof cases.  The cheapest case?  A Ziploc bag.  :)

Do you have to take your Kindle out of the case to read?  Not necessarily.  Some of them have a clear window so you can see the Kindle and read (and push the buttons, if the clear part isn’t rigid).  Since you don’t have to do that big “flip over” thing you do with a paperbook, but just push the Next Page button, that makes it easy.  You can do that through the Ziploc bag…which is how some people take a bath with the Kindle.

So, summing up:

I recommend a cover for drop protection while reading.

A sleeve is good for transporting the Kindle, but not for reading in it.

A skin is decorative, but provides no drop protection.

A screen cover probably isn’t necessary, and may make it harder to read your book.

A case is good for transport and storage.

It is okay to read the Kindle with nothing on it…that’s what people mean when they say they like to read the Kindle naked.  At least, that’s what is usually means… ;)

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! Two new pay games for the Kindle: Hangman and Next

November 27, 2010

Flash! Two new pay games for the Kindle: Hangman and Next

My readers have said they want to know about new games for the Kindle, even they aren’t free. 

Hangman 
published by Sonic Boom
$2.99 at time of writing

Yes, this is the classic game you probably played as a kid.  It comes with six hundred puzzles.  In addition to the stick figure, you can use William Shakespeare…which seems a bit odd.  You can also use a gingerbread man who gets bitten.

Next
published by Mobigloo
$2.99 at time of writing

It’s a puzzle game, with a shifting board and matching symbols.

For posts on other games (including the free ones that come on the Kindles), see this category.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flash! Amazon Magazines giving away a Kindle a day through Nov 30

November 26, 2010

 

Flash! Amazon Magazines giving away a Kindle a day through Nov 30

Subscribe to a magazine through Amazon (any magazine) and you are entered to win a $139 wifi only Kindle 3.

You do have to be a resident of the US and at least 18 years old.  Five entries per person per day.  Yes, you can mail an entry as well.  You can see the details in the

Sweepstakes Rules

Good luck!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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