Archive for May, 2011

Summer time…and the reading is easy (2011)

May 30, 2011

Summer time…and the reading is easy (2011)

Memorial Day is the start of the summer movie blockbuster season (which I cover in my other blog, The Measured Circle).  I figured it might be fun to look at some of the blockbuster books coming for the Kindle this summer.

I have recently decided to change my policy, and I will not list specific books that block text-to-speech access (as opposed to all books from a publisher that blocks text-to-speech access on any of their titles).

Outside of that caveat, I’m going to list some books I expect to be bestsellers (and that I found interesting) for Kindle books being released in June through August 2011.

A few other things first, though.  Since I’m looking at popular pre-orders, those are going to tend to be traditional publishers.  I don’t buy a whole lot of those any more, but we do get some.  Independents may give you more book for your buck.  Also, many of these are over $9.99, and I know some folks don’t want to spend that.  Up to you.  Finally, books that are sold under the Agency Model don’t have the pre-order price guarantee…but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a pre-order Kindle book price being raised.  Books on wish lists, yes, and I have heard about people being told the price was going up…so they could cancel the order, if they wanted.

I’m not big on pre-ordering, myself, but I understand the fun of just having the book appear…which is even more fun if you’ve forgotten you ordered it.  :)

June 2

The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture
by David Mamet

Mamet looks at politics…and regardless of what you think about politics, he can write

June 6

The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life
by Harold Bloom

Literary criticism…that says Summer. :)

June 7

Mr. Monk on the Couch
by Lee Goldberg

If you are still feeling the loss of Monk, here’s a pick-me-up (and Monk was particularly good at picking things up…non-emotional things, that is). Goldberg wrote episodes of the series and has written several official novels based on the series. Kick back and relax on the beach…you can keep your shirt buttoned all the way up. ;)

Hit List
by Laurell K. Hamilton

This is the latest book in the Anita Hill, Vampire Hunter series.

State of Wonder
by Ann Patchett

I haven’t read anything by Patchett, but I have been on (a tributary to) the Amazon, which is where at least part of this story takes place.  It sounds interesting.

June 21

Smokin’ Seventeen: A Stephanie Plum Novel
by Janet Evanovich

I never read my first Stephanie Plum until after I had my Kindle.  My Significant Other (SO) had read them, but had always passed them on to a sibling.  Since we could both read them at the same time for one download price on the Kindle, I figured, “Why not?”  I know some fans say the earlier books are better, but I’ve enjoyed the ones I’ve read.  For those of you who don’t know, this is a series of humorous mysteries starring a bounty hunter.  Don’t picture Dog, Steve McQueen…or Boba Fett.  ;)  Stephanie barely gets by, with a little (or a lot, actually) of help from her friends.  The first movie is scheduled to be released on January 27 of next year, starring Katherine Heigl as Stephanie, Sherri Shepherd as Lula, Daniel Sunjata as Ranger, and Debbie Reynolds as Grandma Mazur.

June 28

Heart of Evil
by Heather Graham

This is not the actor, but a well-known romance/horror novelist (who also writes under Shannon Drake and Heather Graham Pozzessere). This one involves a bayou plantation and paranormal investigators.

Dragon’s Time: Dragonriders of Pern
by Anne McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey

The first book in this series appeared (as a book) in 1968, and many readers have fond memories of Pern. A movie is now in development for 2013, but other movies (Avatar, How to Train Your Dragon) were likely inspired in part by it. This isn’t just “dragon-riding…whee!”…there’s a more complex society happening here.

July 5

Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy
Short story anthology, edited by Ellen Datlow

Authors contributing new stories include Jim Butcher (yes, it’s Harry Dresden), Patricia Briggs, Melissa Marr, Holly Black, and more.

July 12

Forever
by Maggie Stiefvater

Might appeal to Twilight fans…

A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five
by George R.R. Martin

Martin’s epic fantasy series started with A Game of Thrones (which is now a successful series on HBO).

A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog Named Trixie
by Dean Koontz

I love books about animals (Gerald Durrell is still one of my favorites), and it can be good when a fiction writer uses that natural empathy to tell us more about our relationships with them.

July 26

Ghost Story: A Novel of the Dresden Files
by Jim Butcher

The TV series has come and gone on this one. While Dresden is a wizard, the feel of this is much more a PI (Private Investigator) series.

It Looked Different on the Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy
by Laurie Notaro

If you want to laugh…and who doesn’t?

August 2

Home Improvement: Undead Edition
by Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Heather Graham, Toni L.P. Kelner, and more

Short stories with a home improvement/paranormal theme…including a new Sookie Stackhouse story.

August 9

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Ascension
by Christie Golden

August 23

The Power of Six
by PIttacus Lore

The movie of I Am Number Four wasn’t the hit many people expected, but book series aren’t killed by their adaptations.

The Measure of the Magic: Legends of Shannara
by Terry Brooks

Tragic Toppings: A Donut Shop Mystery
by Jessica Beck

A donut shop mystery? I guess that’s when you want to get to the bottom of the “hole” thing. ;)

Are there other summer books for which you are especially waiting?  Feel free to let me (and my readers) know.

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

Freebie flash! Young, Men, Fear, Meds, and more

May 29, 2011

Freebie flash! Young, Men, Fear, Meds, and more

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.

I’m Getting Too Young For This!

by Steve Games

independent

The Scioneer

by Peter Bouvier

independent

The Night Walk Men

by Jason McIntyre

independent

What the Dead Fear

by Lea Ryan

independent

Canadian Meds

by John Moynihan

independent (through Xlibris)

Expensive Tastes

by Jacob Heim

independent

Freak

by Ron Sanders

published by Masterpiece Press (independent?)

The Walled Garden

by Michele Lang

published by Five Dragons (independent?)

Pontchartrain

by Eric Wilder

published by Gondwana Press (independent?)

Why Math Isn’t an Awful Nerd

by Jason Marshall

published by St. Martin’s Press (a general interest publisher)

Preorder for June 14, 2011

Prophecy (Slave Empire)

by T.C. Southwell

independent

Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project

by Mizuko Ito, Heather A. Horst, Matteo Bittanti, Danah Boyd, Becky Herr-Stephenson, Patricia G. Lange, C. J. Pascoe, Laura Robinson

published by MIT Press

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

Kindle Top 50 analysis May 28 2011

May 29, 2011

Kindle Top 50 analysis May 28 2011

I haven’t done a post like this in a while, so I thought it was time to take a look at the Kindle bestsellers.

Note that these are the bestselling books* (or they are supposed to be) in the Kindle store…not the New York Times bestsellers.

Let’s start out with just a list:

Rank Title Author Price Agency TTS Blocked
1 Water for Elephants Gruen $4.17 No No
2 The Hunger Games Collins $4.69 No No
3 Something Borrowed Griffin $7.99 Yes No
4 Patterson $12.99 Yes Yes
5 The Help Stockett $9.99 Yes No
6 In the Garden of Beasts Larson $12.99 Yes No
7 Summer Secrets Freethy $2.99 No No
8 Buried Prey Sandford $12.99 Yes No
9 Heaven is for Real Burpo $6.13 No No
10 Catching Fire Collins $8.40 No No
11 Baldacci $12.99 Yes Yes
12 Mockingjay Collins $7.14 No No
13 Connelly $7.99 Yes Yes
14 Fey $12.99 Yes Yes
15 Martin $8.99 Yes Yes
16 McLain $12.99 Yes Yes
17 Something Blue Griffin $7.99 Yes No
18 Hllenbrand $12.99 Yes Yes
19 The Shop Black $0.99 No No
20 The Shephard Cross $2.39 No No
21 Dead Reckoning Harris $12.99 Yes No
22 The Jefferson Key Berry $12.99 Yes No
23 The Devil’s Hour Black $0.99 No No
24 Connelly $12.99 Yes Yes
25 The B*tch-Proof Suit Black $0.99 No No
26 Larsson $11.99 Yes Yes
27 Word Search* $0.99 No No
28 Baldacci $0.99 Yes Yes
29 A Turn in the Road Macomber $8.37 No No
30 The Snowman Nesbo $12.99 Yes No
31 Martin $8.99 Yes Yes
32 Vegas Moon Locke $0.99 No No
33 Faking It Lorello $2.99 No No
34 Clark $12.99 Yes Yes
35 Larsson $7.99 Yes Yes
36 Larsson $7.99 Yes Yes
37 Night Road Hannah $13.00 Yes No
38 Sweet Gnger Poison Robinson $0.99 No No
39 Riordan $9.29 No Yes
40 Verghese $9.99 Yes Yes
41 Her Perfect Revenge Mara $0.99 No No
42 Darkness on the Edge of Town Black $0.99 No No
43 Looking for Trouble Kern $0.99 No No
44 Caleb’s Crossing Brooks $12.99 Yes No
45 Lost In Shangri-La Zuckoff $12.99 Yes No
46 Martin $8.99 Yes Yes
47 Shales $14.99 Yes Yes
48 Liquid Fear Nicholson $0.99 No No
49 Does the Noise in my Head Tyler $12.99 Yes No
50 Seal Team Six Templin $12.99 Yes No

In case you are wondering about the blank spaces in the titles, those are the books with text-to-speech access blocked by the publisher.  I’m moving towards judging that on a book by book basis, rather than a publisher by publisher basis.  I can’t verify it yet, but it looks like it may be up to the authors rather than the publishers to make that decision.

That, by the way, is one of the things that stands out to me: of the 30 Agency Model books, only seventeen of them have blocked the access.  That feels like a real shift to me…I’m noticing more and more that even Random House isn’t blocking the access.

One book, by the way, was not Agency Model, but did have text-to-speech access blocked…that surprised me, although I knew it could happen.

Overall, thirty-two of the top fifty do not have text-to-speech access blocked…the clear majority.

It’s also worth noting that out of the top fifty, twenty are not Agency Model.  It’s quite possible that before long, more than half of the most popular Kindle store books will be non-Agency Model…not published by the six biggest trade publishers in the US (they are all Agency Model currently).

How are the prices?

The average overall is $8.04.  Thirty-one of the titles are under $10.  Eleven of the titles are ninety-nine cents.

The average non-Agency Model title is $3.32.

The average Agency Model title is $11.19.  One of those is a Kindle Single (hmm… thought those were published by Amazon) which is ninety-nine cents.  Take that out, and the average Agency Model book is $11.54.

I find it interesting to check these from time to time…

* One of the titles is actually active content…I have a tough time calling a game a book (although there are gamebooks, this isn’t one of them)

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

Freebie flash! Emo, Zombie, Test, Machine, and more

May 28, 2011

Freebie flash! Emo, Zombie, Test, Machine, and more

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.

My Objection to a Sinning Religion
by Bud Robinson
published by Beacon Hill Press (a faith-based publisher)

Daron’s Guitar Chronicles: Volume One
by Cecilia Tan
independent

Sermons on Isaiah
by Phineas F. Bresee
published by Beacon Hill Press (a faith-based publisher)

Dangerous Journey
by Marie Harlech-Jones
published by Aichje Books (independent?)

Nazarene Missions International Handbook and Constitution 2009-13
published by The House Studio (independent?)

Bible Holiness
by E.P. Ellyson
published by Beacon Hill Press (a faith-based publisher)

Memoirs of a Vending Machine
by James Pollard
independent

Jacks School of Shines
by Jack Sorenson
independent

Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor by R.D. Blackmore (Unexpurgated Edition) (Halcyon Classics)
by R.D. Blackmore
published by Halcyon Press (independent?)

The Emo Bunny that Should – A Story for Demented Children
by John H. Carroll
independent

Zachary Zombie and the Lost Boy, A Story for Demented Children
by John H. Carroll
independent

Children of Another God (The Broken World)
by T.C. Southwell
independent

!Tention
by George Manville Fenn
published by Classic Adventures (independent?)

Test Pilot – A short story
by John H. Carroll
independent

Tor/Forge Author Voices: Volume 2
edited by Stacy Hague-Hill
published by Tor

Preorder for July 26, 2011

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

Fortune: “Book publishers in denial on Amazon’s e-book sales”

May 28, 2011

Fortune: “Book publishers in denial on Amazon’s e-book sales”

Fortune article

Daniel Roberts’ article is worth a read.  He was talking to attendees at BookExpo America, focusing on Amazon’s recent announcement that e-books outsell all paperbooks (p-books) combined at Amazon now.

The headline is a bit misleading…bookstore folks get more attention in it than publishers.

That’s, of course, a very different perspective.  A bookseller doesn’t get any money when Amazon sells an e-book…a publisher does.

There were a couple of weird things in the piece.  How about this quotation?

“I don’t believe a thing Amazon says anyway.”

Um…care to give a reason for that?  The speaker certainly may have said a lot more than that, but without a reason, it just sounds…petulant, I suppose.

It’s also stated that someone wouldn’t get a Kindle, because that person doesn’t like being bound to Amazon to buy books.  If I was still a brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, I would have done more research than that before I made a statement like that.  Even though Amazon doesn’t currently do EPUB with DRM (Digital Rights Management), it’s one of the most open systems out there…and you can buy books for it from other places.

There is one more I can’t let go before I leave the rest to the original article.  That’s this statement:

“…everyone involved makes less money from the sale of an e-book…”

Tell that to Amanda Hocking, or John Locke, or D.D. Scott, or all the other people who are making money being able to independently publish e-books.  A very large number of those, we can assume, would have made no money if they had to go the p-book route…

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

The next big thing in EBRs?

May 27, 2011

The next big thing in EBRs?

When Barnes & Noble announced their new NOOK, the Simple Touch, my reaction was mostly (as my offspring would say), “Meh.”  That doesn’t mean it was bad and doesn’t mean it was good.  It just was.

The E Ink touchscreen is new to the NOOK…but Sony has had one for months and Kobo announced one the day before.

The battery life of two months was  a new record…but it seems like it was mostly a recalculation (by basing it on reading one half hour a day).  The next day, poof!  Amazon recalculated to two months, too.  That’s not just math, it’s magic math…or “mathic”, to coin a phrase.  :)

What else did they tout?  They took stuff away.

Yep, they say one button (which isn’t actually true), and point out how many more buttons the Kindle has.

No music, no audiobooks, no web browsing…woo hoo, lucky us!  ;)

Actually, some people may see that as an advantage…some parents might.

There had been a rumor that the new NOOK was going to be “entry level”…the first EBR (E-Book Reader) somebody would buy if they weren’t sure about the prospect or couldn’t afford the one they wanted.

Fewer features make sense in that case…but only if it also means a lower price, and this not a particularly low-priced major E Ink EBR.

People mentioned a couple of things that they thought might be in a new EBR that would really set it apart…that would be the “next big thing”.

That got me thinking.

What would be something that would set apart a new EBR?  What would make people say, “I want that one!”  It has to stand-out enough to make somebody change a buying decision…buy that one instead of another, or instead of none.

Here is some speculation:

Reflective Screen Color

This one is coming, and probably before too long.  EBRs (E-Book Readers) like the Kindle, NOOK Simple Touch, Sonys, and Kobo, use a type of screen that you read the same way you read a paperbook…by light bouncing off it.  A tablet (like the iPad, Xoom, or NOOK Color) uses a backlit screen.  Backlit screens take a lot more battery charge, but they do have some advantages at the current state of technology.  One of them is color.  Color is used in books: children’s books; art books; cookbooks; non-fiction with graphs; and more.  The first EBR that has the long battery charge life of a reflective screen and color will be a draw.  Potential negatives?   Cost, performance, and how good the colors look, mostly.

Animation

While this clearly doesn’t exist in paperbooks, the Kindle store already sells books with animation.  They only work on iDevices (iPads, iPhones, iPod touches) currently…at least, the animation only works on those.  There are clear applications for this: a how to book with instructional videos, a famous historical speech being delivered, a book about a TV show with clips of important scenes…even author interviews.   Many people would say they wouldn’t want it, but it would attract others.  The holdback currently is refresh rate…you need to get something on the order of thirty frames a second (higher is better), and flashing to black between each one makes it not work as well.  I think we’ll see this…and they’ll need some whiz bang video to make it attractive at first.

Voice navigation

This is the ability to tell the EBR what to do with your voice.  That would be great for accessibility…some conditions make it hard to push buttons and hold the device.  If it managed to avoid the menus to get to more obscure functions, that would be a plus for everybody.  For example, you could say, “Open Moby Dick”, or “Open last book read”.  You could say, “Get my magazines”, “bookmark this”, “restart”, and so on. The Kindle 3 already has a microphone for…future functionality.

Speech to text

The Kindle currently has text-to-speech, which allows it to read materials out loud to you (if that access isn’t blocked by the publisher).  This is the opposite: you would speak to the EBR, and it would convert your speech into text  That’s actually becoming pretty common: I have it on my desktop at home (using Dragon) and on my Android SmartPhone.  This would solve the problem of a keyboard for entering notes.  I think it could be done now…but it would take more memory and more battery charge.

Bluetooth

People use EBRs for audio…audiobooks and music, mostly.  Bluetooth is a short-range wireless protocol.  It could be used for wireless headphones, but also in cars with Bluetooth.  The name has some cachet…that would attract some folks, even if it wasn’t used all that much.  I think once somebody had it, they’d miss it on another model.

Computer-based content management

Rename your books and create your “folders” on your computer, and sync it to your EBR.  This moves away from the “you don’t need a computer” thing, but it would be a plus to many.  Calibre does this already…that’s why I speculated about Amazon buying it.

Read your books on the web

Amazon has announced this.  It’s going to be a plus, because you’ll be able to read your book on any device with a browser….like a SmartPhone, or a tablet, or another EBR with an open browser

External peripherals

One of the big things here is a keyboard.  I assume the current USB can’t power a keyboard, but people would use it an EBR to write if they could.  Teachers could use a projector capability…and even a printer might work well.  Yes, the latter might be a concern for publishers, but it could be used for personal documents.

Universal readability

I don’t know how this could be done, but if your store’s e-books could be read on any EBR, people would love it.  It might be a question of licensing.

Paperbook import

Again, this one is similar to the last one.  I don’t know how you would do it, but it would be about licensing.  It would let you (probably for a fee…and possibly a substantial one) get an e-book for a pbook you own.  Lots of people think they should be able to do that for free, which I don’t see happening soon.  This would be one of those PR (Public Relations) things…if this was marketed properly, it would be a draw…even if it cost the same as buying it from the store.  You scan (or punch in) your book’s ISBN, it shows up on your EBR.

Onboard translation

If this was streaming, I think you’d avoid the copyright issue of a derivative work (in a similar manner to how text-to-speech isn’t a copyright issue). I personally think this would be hugely attractive, and would seem magical.  Even if it was only at the level of Google translation.  Compensation could be arranged: you could have a charge show up for each translation you did (but allow a small amount to be translated).

Flexible screens

This technology is out there, but I don’t think it’s going to be immediately commercially available for home use (it might be too expensive).  I think will be common for magazines and other large image publications.  You’ll roll it up or fold it, and flip it open to read on it.

Parental controls

This would be solved by having device-specific archives (as would many other issues), but no question, it would be a draw.  The NOOK Simple Touch doesn’t have a web browser, which solves some of the problems, but I don’t think they want to promote that.  :)  Being able to control which books your kids can get from the archives would be huge for many buyers.

Rugged and waterproof EBRs

People worry about them breaking their EBRs.  If somebody could come up with one that was still light, but solid enough for a four-year old, hey, presto…major sales.  :)  The same thing goes for a waterproof model…people regularly ask about that, partially for tub reading, partially for the beach.

Installable character sets

I don’t need one hundred character sets on mine, but it would nice to be able to install Hindi or Farsi as needed.

All-you-can-read buying plan

This is another one where it is hard to figure out how it would work, but it is something people want.  You pay a monthly (or annual) fee, and you can read all the books you want.  A publisher could do that…Harlequin is likely.  If it was tied into an EBR, though, that would help those sales.

The Clokey Device

This would let you walk into any book and interact with the characters…and you could bring your pony pal Pokey, too.  ;)  Okay, I’m kidding on this one (Art Clokey was the creator of Gumby).

Do I think I’ve covered everything?  Nope…I’m guessing I’m missing social networking features.  How about 3D?  You could see the letters as solid objects.  :)  What are your suggestions?  Am I missing something obvious?  Feel free to let me know.

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

Most Well-Read Cities in the USA

May 26, 2011

Most Well-Read Cities in the USA

In this new

Press Release

Amazon lists the top twenty “most well-read cities” in the USA.

There are a lot of caveats in the claim for me: it’s Amazon’s data, so it might be swayed by the percentage of people who buy books online, versus in a brick-and-mortar store; the cities have to have a population of 100,000;  it’s books, magazines, and newspapers…I think many people would just count books…and if newspapers, why not blogs?  ;)

That said, I immediately looked for cities in my area.  :)

The only California city in the top twenty is Berkeley.  My first thought was that Berkeley has been known for some great physical bookstores in the past (like Moe’s and Cody’s).  They also have specialty stores, like Dark Carnival and the Builders Booksource.

However, lots of cities in California have many bookstores.

Another obvious thing about Berkeley is the university…and they may have a significant impact.  Amazon doesn’t say they separated out textbooks.  Their most well-read city is Cambridge, Massachusetts…home to Harvard and MIT.

Clearly, though, having a big university and many bookstores aren’t the only factors, as looking at the list will show you.

I recommend you check it out and see where your area rates.

I will say the Pacific Northwest and the South are particularly well-represented…

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

Comparing the E Ink EBRs (E-Book Readers)

May 26, 2011

Comparing the E Ink EBRs (E-Book Readers)

There have been a lot of changes recently in E Ink EBRs (E-Book Readers), and I thought doing an overview of the popular ones might be useful.


A few ground rules…

I’m only going to talk about E Ink devices.  That’s a reflective screen technology…it has no lighting behind the screen.   E Ink is a brand name, but that is what everybody uses.

A reflective screen tends to have a long battery life, because no energy needs to be expended to keep an image on the screen.

That cuts out backlit tablets, like the iPad or the NOOK Color.  It appears that many people own both, and they aren’t really the same kind of device.

Second, I’m projecting this ahead a bit, going with the just announced NOOK Simple Touch (which has a June 10th release date), and not the NOOK Classic (wi-fi or 3G), which have now been announced as being discontinued (once they sell out)…or the Spring Design Alex, which is now discontinued.

Prices could change any time, of course, and it’s possible models will be discontinued or new ones added…even by tomorrow.  :)  Amazon has reacted to some moves by Barnes & Noble before.

Update: I started writing this on Tuesday…and the Kindle 3G with special offers has been added since then.  :)  I’ve updated the post.

I’m also only counting ones that are available to be ordered new…no refurbs and such, so even though the Kindle 2 can be found, I’m not counting it.

There are also many more than I’ve listed here, but I would consider these to be the high-profile models.  If you champion something else, like the Cybook or the FLEPia, feel free to comment.

I’m going to start out with a few objective measures, then do a quick profile.

The Contenders

Kindle DX, Kindle wi-fi, Kindle with Special Offers, Kindle 3G, Kindle 3G wth Special Offers, NOOK Simple Touch, Sony Pocket, Sony Touch, Sony Daily, Kobo, Kobo Touch

Price

Model Price
Kobo wireless  $      99.99
Kindle with Special Offers  $    114.00
Kobo Touch  $    129.99
Kindle wi-fi  $    139.00
NOOK Simple Touch  $    139.00
Kindle with Special Offers 3G  $    164.00
Sony Pocket  $    179.99
Kindle 3G & wi-fi  $    189.00
Sony Touch  $    229.99
Sony Daily  $    299.99
Kindle DX  $    379.00

Screen Size

Model Screen Size
Kindle DX 9.7
Sony Daily 7
Kindle wi-fi 6
Kindle 3G & wi-fi 6
Kindle with Special Offers 6
Kindle with Special Offers 3G 6
Kobo Touch 6
Kobo wireless 6
NOOK Simple Touch 6
Sony Touch 6
Sony Pocket 5

Device Size

Size Height Width Depth Weight
Sony Pocket 5.71 4.11 0.33 5.47
Kobo Touch 6.50 4.50 0.40 7.05
NOOK Simple Touch 6.50 5.00 0.47 7.48
Sony Touch 6.61 4.68 0.38 7.58
Kobo Wireless 7.24 4.72 0.39 7.80
Kindle with Special Offers 7.50 4.80 0.34 8.50
Kindle wi-fi 7.50 4.80 0.34 8.50
Kindle with Special Offers 3G 7.50 4.80 0.34 8.70
Kindle 3G & wi-fi 7.50 4.80 0.34 8.70
Sony Daily 7.87 5.04 0.38 9.60
Kindle DX 10.4 7.20 0.38 18.90

Memory

Memory Onboard Expansion Books
Kindle with Special Offers 3G 4GB 0 3500
Kindle with Special Offers 4GB 0 3500
Kindle wi-fi 4GB 0 3500
Kindle DX 4GB 0 3500
Kindle 3G & wi-fi 4GB 0 3500
Sony Touch 2GB 32GB 1200
Sony Pocket 2GB 0 1200
Sony Daily 2GB 32GB 1200
NOOK Simple Touch 2GB 32GB 1000
Kobo Wireless N/A 32GB 1000
Kobo Touch 1GB 32GB 1000

Companies

Kobo

Sony, Amazon, Barnes & Noble…and Kobo?  That’s Kobo’s biggest challenge, in my opinion.  They partnered with Borders, but that’s not a good PR (Public Relations) thing right now.  They were a solid e-book company, but playing in the hardware world is a change.  Their positioning?  They are the cheap one.  They have the only sub-$100 model, and for those who prefer a touchscreen, you can’t beat theirs for price.  I don’t know if they’ll decide to stay in the hardware game if they can’t get good distribution, though…at least in the US.

Sony

EBRs are a small part of what they do.  No question, they are a giant home entertainment company, and they have innovated in the past (Sony Walkman, anyone?).  However, it doesn’t feel to me like they are trying very hard…it’s “In for a dime, in for a dime.”  ;)  Their prices are relatively high to me.  It helped when EBRs were strange…going with a well-known name was reassuring.  Now that they seem more normal, that’s less important.  No reason for them to drop the line, but I’d be surprised if they lead development on this.

Barnes & Noble

They are making a serious effort.  They’ve put a lot of money into rebranding (I like their new commercial), and they are unquestionably trying to lead the field.  They have the reputation as a bookstore, and the relationships they’ve built over the decades with publisher, authors, and readers.  They may be about to get a big infusion of cash (when they are bought).  I think the bookstores are a liability going forward, unless they innovate in some big way.  They talk about them as a plus, but I see them as a burden for now.  In my opinion, they have to reinvent their Customer Service.  I’ve had bad experiences with them (online, never in a store), and their policies are not friendly (you can’t return e-books, and if you send your nook to the regular return address, they just keep it…even though they should know it is yours, they don’t credit you for it).   If they fixed that part (and their rebranders should push that), and got more in-copyright books, they’d be a force with which to be reckoned.

Amazon

Service, Selection, and Price…those Amazon’s three core principles, and they live up to them.  They take the long view, but they are always innovating.  They are taking a gamble in my opinion by becoming a traditional publisher, but they may be willing to risk a loss to hurt the Big Six.  Customers are loyal…and for me,  think that’s with good reason.  The Kindle is a small part of their business, as is the case with Sony, but it’s a big part of their public image, and they seem to really care about it.  If they release a tablet (or two), as seems likely, that will help their EBR sales, by extending their reach as a hardware maker.  Buttons may feel a bit old-fashioned (as opposed to a touchscreen), but they are…solid.  Amazon can’t fall behind, and that’s a risk with B&N’s big push.  I have no doubt they’ll surprise me with innovations, but they need to set up something that allows for device-specific archives…that will give them parental controls, for one thing.  B&N has been figuring out how to go after the kid market…you can’t just cede the next generation to the competitor.

Device Profiles

Kindle DX

If you lined up these EBRs on a table, the Kindle DX would clearly be the odd one.  It’s the only really larger model, and is eighty dollars more and about twice the weight of most of them.  It’s from Amazon, which I consider a plus (partially due to superior Customer Service), but it has a challenge it didn’t have when it was introduced: tablets.  Tablets tend to have a larger screen like this (the iPad has the same 9.7″ size, so there is a more direct comparison.  E Ink has its advantages over backlighting, though, so if you want a large E Ink device, this is it.  It doesn’t have the latest software (no page numbers, for example).

Sony Pocket

This is the other one that’s a different size…it’s a five inch screen, rather that the standard six inch.  You would think that might make it one of the cheapest (smaller electronics may be more expensive in some cases, but smaller screens are often cheaper…and that’s the case with E Ink, generally), but it’s on the high end nowadays.  Sony has never been known as the cheap brand.  Here’s a key point, though: it’s the only one on this list that doesn’t have a wireless connection.   Most people find that a big advantage, and it’s part of what helped the Kindle re-invent the e-book reader market.

Sony Daily

This one is also an inch off the six inch standard at seven inches.  Again, you pay for that.

Kobo wireless

Right now, this is the cheap one.  It’s the only one under $100, although I think that will change before the end of the year (with the Kindle wi-fi with special offers hitting that price, at least for some groups).  Personally, I’d pay the extra $15 if you can stand advertising and get the Kindle.

Kobo Touch

They brought this out the day before the NOOK Simple Touch, but they aren’t abandoning their original Kobo for now.  It’s at the low end on prices, and if people really want a touchscreen, this is the lowest price.  The one doesn’t need the “clown nose” navigation hardware of the Kobo Wireless, and it looks pretty good.   It has a quilted back, and comes in different color cases (as do some of the others).  It’s the latest E Ink screen, and again, infrared touch like the NOOK Simple Touch (but it’s cheaper).  The issue is perceiving it as having the company power behind it as the others.

NOOK Simple Touch

This one was just announced, and will soon be the only E Ink device from Barnes & Noble.  No question, it looks sleek.  It has an E Ink touchscreen (so does the Sony Touch and the Kobo Touch).  The memory is relatively small…especially the available memory.  Even though it has two gigs, it only says it holds 1000 books (and they apparently make you reserve quite a bit of the available memory for Barnes & Noble books).  The Kobos are cheaper, and so are two of the Kindles.  So, why would you pay more for this?  Honestly, it looks next gen is part of it…”Look, Ma, no buttons!”  ;)  It actually has more than one button, but that’s probably all you notice.  They claimed two months of battery charge…so Amazon claimed it as well.  :)  That’s based on reading half an hour a day and no wireless.  Barnes & Noble is also a brand with a storied (pun intended) reputation.

Sony Touch

This is Sony’s six inch model.  You can freehand notes with a stylus, which is a nice “touch”.  ;)  However, like the other Sonys it only gets two weeks on a battery charge…Amazon and B&N are now both saying they get two months.  They are $100 more than the Kobo Touch, $90 more than the NOOK Simple Touch.  I don’t see what makes it worth that much more money.

The Six Inch Kindles

While this represents four models on the list, there are really two variables: with 3G (in addition to wi-fi) or not; with ads or not.  3G costs you more initially, but I like having it.  We’re finding, though, that my SO (Significant Other) is okay without it so far.   I probably do more sophisticated things…my SO pretty much just reads on it and plays Scrabble.  :)  The question of ads is a matter of taste…if they give you a sour taste, you won’t get it.  :)  However, the wi-fi only ad-supported Kindle is the most popular Kindle of all right now.  When you agree to see the ads, Amazon lowers the initial price.  That gets the wi-f only model down to $114.  What do you get for $15 over the lower priced Kobo?  Text-to-speech, for one thing, but there is a lot more than that.

If it was a horse race…

We’re not coming around the turn yet, but Amazon opened a big lead.  Barnes & Noble is pounding the turf in second, pushing the leader.  Sony is a comfortable third, but doesn’t seem to have the fire.  Kobo’s a long shot with an unknown jockey, but is showing spunk.

Hope that helps…it’s just an overview, and things will change.

What do you think?  Did I leave out your favorite?  Should I have included backlit tablets?  Was I unfair to anybody? Feel free to let me know.

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

Flash! Amazon adds ad-supported Kindle 3G & wi-fi for $164

May 25, 2011

Flash! Amazon adds ad-supported Kindle 3G & wi-fi for $164

I just stumbled on this!

Amazon has had the $114 KSO (Kindle with Special Offers) which was wi-fi only.  That’s $25 less than the $139 normal price.

Now, they are also doing the Kindle wi-fi and 3G for $25 off for an ad-supported version ($164 instead of $189).

KSO3G

I just wanted to alert you right away!

Now you can get a 3G & wi-fi model for a discount for agreeing to see ads and special offers.

Update: here’s a

Press Release

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

Flash! New NOOK: “Simple Touch”

May 24, 2011

Flash! New NOOK: “Simple Touch”

Just time for a quick note.  The new NOOK has been revealed:

Official Page

It’s $139, only has one-button (it’s touchscreen), two month battery life, e-ink, wi-fi, due June 10th.

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


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