Round up #71: Color overlay, color Kindle, bye-bye keyboard?

Round up #71: Color overlay, color Kindle, bye-bye keyboard?

ComputerAct!ve: “Kindle cover to help people with dyslexia”

ComputerAct!ve article

It’s interesting to me that there are still a lot of things we don’t know. 🙂

There are different approaches to that. We can try to figure out why something should be true, and then test it. That’s sort of the scientific method.

On the other hand, we have what is called by Isaac Bonewits The Law of Pragmatism (also called The Engineer’s Law): “If it works, it’s true.”

Dyslexia and color is a good example.

There is reportedly some evidence that using a color overlay on a paperbook can make it easier for dyslexic to read it.

Well, the above article talks about a color overlay that has been made for the Kindle Keyboard (formerly known as the Kindle 3):

ReadRight overlays at

At this point, it appears that the three different colored covers are only available through, but they may come to eventually.

If it works, great! That’s even if we don’t know for sure why. 🙂

It’s interesting, I’ve also heard that it’s harder for people with certain reading challenges when you use two spaces after a period (which is how a lot of people were trained when we used typewriters). For some reason, it creates visual “rivers” in the “page” in a way different from using one space. I’ve tried to retrain myself to use one space for that reason.

The Verge: “Ebook download site shut down by coalition of international publishers”

The Verge article

One of my readers gave me the heads-up on this in a private e-mail.

It’s been a little while, but that happens sometimes. I just leave the tab open in Google Chrome until it feels like the “write” time. 🙂

In this case, there wasn’t any particular hurry, because the deed has been done.

The article is about a site ( being shut down by publishers.

A lot of people’s immediate reactions are going to be to be mad at the big bad publishers. The companies partially have themselves to blame for that. There have been concrete examples of publishers doing things that make reading e-books more difficult. There was the Agency Model (which resulted in higher prices on New York Times hardback bestseller equivalents)…that one’s been challenged in a number of ways, including class action suits. Then there is blocking text-to-speech access. That engendered actual protests. There are restrictions on lending, restrictions on “clipping”, and so on.

I think, though, that this is something different.

In this case, it was a website that was allegedly linking to pirated copies of e-books…especially textbooks.

The article may answer a question for you…why pirate? How does benefit people to give away free books?

Well, there are a lot of reasons for that, but in this case, it sounds like it was (at least partially) for advertising dollars…more than $10 million.

If what is alleged is true, the site was using infringement on the rights of others (even if it wasn’t doing the pirating, but linking to pirated copies) for their personal enrichment.

I know that people have different opinions about copyright, and what’s an appropriate use, but I wouldn’t extrapolate from shutting down this site to something people might do without intent.

PC World: “Is the Kindle Getting a Color Screen?”

PC World article

What’s being talked about here is a color RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle). There is, of course, something Amazon calls a Kindle which has a color screen…the Kindle Fire.

This would be something different, though, and for quite a while it was a topic of a lot of speculation.

I wonder if it would have the same impact now, though?

A color reflective screen would have a lot of advantages…but it couldn’t do what a backlit screen (like the Kindle Fire) does. Quite simply, no reflective screen at this point can refresh (draw something new on the screen) fast enough for real animation.

If the article is accurate, though, it would show a continuing commitment to RSKs on Amazon’s part.

More interesting to me (since I have some color vision deficiency…color blindness…I don’t care that much about the color part) is that the article suggests it could be in the market in March.

That would coincide with a possible release date for a larger screen Kindle Fire (or two) and an updated version of the current Kindle Fire.

I think Amazon would like to release several models at once…they did that last time, and it appears to have worked well for them.

One possibility…will they eliminate and/or replace the Kindle Keyboard?

When you look from the main navigation on the Amazon homepage, it doesn’t show up:


Kindle Keyboard wi-fi only

is not available new from Amazon currently. The picture for it doesn’t show up any more when you are seeing the Kindle family, although the

Kindle Keyboard with wi-fi & 3G


Does this mean Amazon will abandon a physical keyboard for Kindles?

I don’t see that happening quite yet…maybe eventually keyboards will be as old-fashioned as floppy drives, but I don’t see that happening this year.

By the way, notice that the Kindle DX is still around. I thought it was doomed, at least in its current state. Would a color DX make sense? Maybe…maybe they could give us color for the same price as what grayscale is now.

That would be a specialty item, though.

What do you think? Is the shutdown of an e-book file sharing site a sign of things to come? Would you buy a color RSK…let’s say it was $175? Are you an expert on dyslexia and can comment on the impact of color overlays? Free free to comment on this post to let me (and my readers) know what you think.

* Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Magic

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

12 Responses to “Round up #71: Color overlay, color Kindle, bye-bye keyboard?”

  1. Mary Says:

    I think it would be sad if Amazon eliminated the Kindle Keyboard UNLESS they came out with one that has its same capabilities. The speaker on the keyboard is louder than on the Touch and also the Keyboard has voice direction for someone who has vision problems, i.e., it reads the menu to them. I have not tried this feature but Len Edgerly of the Kindle Chronicles podcast taught a blind relative of his to use that Kindle with the voice commands and others have also commented on this. Accessibility is something which gets better all the time on Apple products and I would think that Amazon would at least like to retain the product they have which has some of these capabilities.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Mary!

      I have used VoiceGuide…I have found it useful in the car, for example.

      The Kindle Keyboard is arguably the best EBR (E-Book Reader) for those with print challenges. My guess is that Amazon would continue to make something that met that market…even if it wasn’t the Kindle Keyboard.

  2. Lady Galaxy Says:

    I don’t have dyslexia, but I do have visual problems. My biggest complaint about the Kindle 3 was that the type face was more bold than on the Kindle 1. It caused me visual problems when using the larger type. To overcome this, I dragged out some of my color overlays and cut them to fit the screen on the K3. It helped, but they didn’t really want to stay in place and kept falling off. I would love to be able to get color overlays that were sized to fit and that wouldn’t fall off. I just wish that Kindle Classic were an option for viewing text on the newer Kindles. I know Amazon is trying to make the print look more like a print and paper book, but the print is the reason I had to give up reading paper books in the first place. Otherwise, I’d probably never have bought a Kindle.

  3. Roger Knights Says:

    “The Kindle Keyboard wi-fi only is not available new from Amazon currently”

    There may be an innocent reason–they’re low on stock, and wish to steer buyers elsewhere. I ordered one for my sister early this year. It arrived a week after the promised delivery date, although we’re both in Seattle and near their warehouse.

    Amazon may have underestimated the continuing demand for this model and produced too few. Part of the reason may be too much faddish enthusiasm for the touch interface, supposedly the latest and greatest. (Amazon’s inappropriate anti-buttonism has also led to user-unfriendly omission of widely desired page turn buttons, etc. on its latest products.)

    (If I’d been a designer at Apple I’d have handed Jobs something with buttons on all six sides, plus buttons ON the buttons, just for the joy of giving his hip-trendiness a raspberry.)

    Why doesn’t anyone really think different? Why doesn’t Apple add an optional wireless foot-pedal interface to the Mac, to take some of the load off the over-burdened keyboard fingers?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Roger!

      That would be possible…but they aren’t saying it is out of stock, which is what they normally say. It says, “Available from these sellers”, which is what they do with products they don’t sell themselves.

      They could be doing it differently this time, but that’s a strong indicator of the current state.

      The question for me with Apple has always been, “Why doesn’t Apple think differently?”

      I know that wouldn’t be as good a slogan, and that they may be saying the equivalent of, “Think blue” for the color of something rather than “think in a blue manner”…but that’s always made me flinch a little. It’s like the Gardasil ads to be “one less” when it should be “one fewer”.

      I know, that’s more me than them, and I do try and get past these personal triggers. Now, about those serial puncs…. 😉

      • Roger Knights Says:

        they may be saying the equivalent of, “Think blue” for the color of something rather than “think in a blue manner”

        That reminds me of “Think pink!”, a phrase form the Audrey Hepburn film Funny Face, uttered by the editress of an NYC fashion magazine. (It was the color of the year that year.)

        It’s not that Amazon is exactly out of stock, it’s more like their production is systematically lagging demand. An out-of-stock situation is a temporary “inventory” problem that can typically be resolved when the manufacturer ships to the seller’s warehouse. What Amazon has is a manufacturing problem–or really an (embarassing) market-forecast failure. It would be misleading to tell customers is merely an out-of-stock problem, which typically can be resolved quickly. This shortage may persist for many months.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Roger!

        We’ll see…I’ll admit, I’d be quite surprised if they said it was for sale new from them (as opposed to being out of stock), and then they started carrying it again new. I do like being surprised, though. 🙂

  4. Morgan Says:

    So my beloved DXs screen died. No warning signs, it worked and then about 2h later it didn’t. Since you can’t trade-in a non-functioning DX (max value lost= $100 gift card) & I am still highly peeved that they stopped supporting the DX, I called CS to see if I could get a hook-up (some form of a discount) on my next Kindle purchase. Interestingly, the CS rep said that he could offer me a new DX at $150… I was feeling testy due to the death of my DX and so I didn’t say anything to him (why be a jerk) but I was thinking “seriously? SERIOUSLY?? you are gonna offer a DX and not even mention that it isn’t supported anymore??????”… I don’t know what Amazon’s deal is with the DX but IMHO it is the only time I have seen them be shady…. To answer your question, I think that is why it is still around- b/c it is “doomed” and AMazon is not being transparent about it.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Morgan!

      While they haven’t done an update for the DX in some time, I think they are still supporting it. If someone buys a new DX, I think it gets the same warranty and replacement policy…

      • Morgan Says:

        Thanks for correcting my imprecise language. I meant to say that they don’t push updates anymore (no page numbers for example). Thanks!

  5. Tom Says:

    I am dyslexic and I use a color overlay for reading, it really helps! Is there a color overlay you can but for a kindle paper white or would I need to cut one myself?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      I took a quick look and didn’t see a pre-cut one, but you could get a larger size and cut it down, as you suggest.

      One interesting thing I ran across:

      This article says that many dyslexics find the font/background of the Paperwhite usable. There is a thirty-day return policy: you might want to try one and see if it works for you without the overlay (and you can change some things as well, like brightness). If the device was working as advertised, you would be expected to pay the return postage, but that should be just a few dollars.

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