The Year in E-Books 2016

The Year in E-Books 2016

Every year, I look both backward and forward. This is my annual post, looking at what happened this year. If you want to see the details, please see the ever-expanding ILMK E-Books Timeline. For posts in this series for previous years, see The Year in E-Books category. For a more numerical comparison between 2015 and previous years, I plan on doing my Annual Snapshot January 1st.

Well! This was a very different year than 2015!

I commented that 2015 wasn’t about hardware, but this year was really quite balanced between hardware and services and software for readers.

There were three significant EBR (E-Book Reader) introductions.

April saw the Kindle Oasis, a radical redesign to the morphology of the device, at a premium price. Part of that premium included that you could only purchase it with an animal-leather cover (which meant that some people, including me, wouldn’t buy it) which helped power it. It got some very good reviews. It was one of Oprah’s Favorite Things…Oprah had a big impact on making the original Kindle a success.

May gave us a special Kindle Paperwhite Blind and Visually Impaired Readers Bundle – Includes Kindle Paperwhite with Wi-Fi and Special Offers, Kindle Audio Adapter, and $19.99 Account Credit (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), which returned a way to do text-to-speech (TTS) to a Kindle EBR.

In July, the least expensive Kindle got Bluetooth…allowing for TTS through an external speaker: All-New Kindle E-reader – Black, 6″ Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

In terms of sales, those were likely eclipsed by Echo devices (which do read books to you, as of January of 2016) and Fire TV devices (which also have Alexa…and can also read to you), but certainly, that’s a good amount of EBR development.

Especially for Prime members, there was a lot going on in terms of content!

Some other stories from 2016:

  • I appeared on Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles twice, in February and October
  • Amazon merged Shelfari into Goodreads
  • The Supreme Court basically ended Apple’s e-book appeals…and some Kindle customers got money from the settlement
  • Older Kindles had to be updated or they would lose wireless connection to Amazon
  • Kindle EBR software got updated, giving us a new homescreen, and Page Flip was considerably upgraded
  • Amazon continued community support, with Amazon Inspire for schools and the Kindle Reading Fund
  • Kobo introduced the Aura One
  • Changes were clearly coming to copyright, prompting a lot of statements from creators and distributors

Generally, this was a good year for Kindleers.

I think it’s clear that 2017 is going to be a year for change in a lot of fields…and I’ll make some guesses in my Year Ahead post about e-publishing, e-reading, and Amazon.

What do you think? Did I leave out anything big? Should I have talked more about how some bestsellers went up in price? What stood out to you about e-books in 2016? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

7 Responses to “The Year in E-Books 2016”

  1. Phink Says:

    I believe this will interest you and your readers if you choose to make a post about it. I should have seen this coming. I never would have thought of it but I guess if I wake up one night and someone is in my home I could say “alexa, white male, blue cap, 30 years old.” Just in case he murders me so they’d have something to go on.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Well, that’s an interesting thought in how to use it! That would give them a clue…but they wouldn’t know if you said it or the intruder did, I think, unless they got to it pretty quickly, as I understand it. If you were murdered, the accused couldn’t face their accuser, and they could argue to the jury that it wasn’t clear what you were indicating. If the murderer could get to your unlocked phone, they could delete the recording. It also might be easier to say it to your phone…even if you said it and deleted it, the police could recover it.

      I did write about this story in my other blog:

  2. Tom Semple Says:

    Also, we gained ability to export notes on Kindle, Fire, and apps for iOS and Android.

  3. Allie Says:

    This is something Amazon has come up with this year that irritates me. It is the “Verified Purchase” reviews on Amazon. It applies to many products, but I think it’s more of a problem for books than anything else – because there are so many ways to read a book that do not include direct purchase from Amazon.

    What if someone already owns a book and wants to review it? Or what if someone has a business account? Shared household accounts? What if you bought a book from an in-person store? Another website, like Barnes and Noble? What if you borrowed something from the library? What if you found it in a box in the basement and re-read it? Or received a gift? All such reviews are now automatically ignored, unless you go out of your way to see all the reviews of a given book.

    Ok. That’s my rant – I think it is Amazon’s worst change involving ebooks this year.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Allie!

      Interesting…I think many people might cite that as one of the big improvements in 2016. 🙂 If someone chooses to see all those reviews, they can.

      The issue they were trying to solve was people writing reviews of books who had never read them at all. That happens a lot, with people who have an agenda. For example, somebody might rate every book which supported a different political party from theirs with one star…

  4. Allie Says:

    PS I meant to say, it is fine with me if Amazon tags reviews with the Verified Purchase label – as they’ve done for a long time now….but I dislike the fact that they block all “un-verified” reviews by default.

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