Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

Google breaks through “book under glass”

February 5, 2016

Google breaks through “book under glass”

One of the knocks on e-books, from some people, is that they really haven’t taken advantage of their own technology.

Certainly, in the beginning, the marketing was about how much like a paperbook (p-book) they could be. After all, p-books have been an incredibly successful and satisfying technology. They have changed over time (popular paperbacks, as we know them, haven’t been around for a hundred years yet), but if I take one of my hardback original Oz books over the shelf, which is more than a century old, it feels and operates very much like a hardback you could buy today.

Why mess with near perfection?


Many of us already like some features in e-books that aren’t part of p-books.

A big one for me is the ability to increase the font size. Like a lot of folks, my vision isn’t what it used to be.

The in situ dictionary is also very popular.


Enhanced Kindle Books (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

just haven’t taken over.

Some of them sell pretty well…there’s a yoga book, for example, that is a bestseller.

Still, I keep reading pieces by writers wondering when we will move away from the “book under glass”.

The time…is now. 🙂

It’s just beginning, but Google has announced an “experiment in unprintable books”…and you can try a sample now (in addition to buying them).

Editions at Play

I tested a sample on my now discontinued Kindle Fire HDX tablet…and it worked. 🙂

One of the things that I do think is cool about this is that they are trying different things.

The one I tried, Entrances & Exits by Reif Larson, shows you explorable Google street view maps of locations.

Did it still feel like a book?

Sure, there was a page of text…that’s one of Google’s few requirements, that they have pages.

When I went to the street view part, though, it didn’t feel integrated to me.

In another book, you can take sides…read the same story from two different viewpoints.

There are other ideas for books, and others that are coming soon. In one of them, the book deals with someone with memory issues…and the text will in some way erode to reflect that.

What might be the most fun for my readers is that you can submit ideas for books by tweeting

They are careful to say that this is not intended to replace books under glass…it’s another format, certainly.

Overall, I think it’s fascinating…and intriguing that Google got there before Amazon.

I guess that makes sense…Google is known for being experimental, and if Amazon did something, people would expect it to be a real consumer product when it debuted.

By the way, this is Google Australia, but I don’t think that matters much in this case…I’m in America, and i could get a sample and presumably purchase it. There’s also another company involved, Visual Editions.

I’d be interested in what you think about it. There is a presentation here:

but if you are interested, go to

Editions at Play

and get a sample.

It won’t work on an EBR (E-Book Reader) like a Kindle…it says it will work on Android and iOS, although as I mentioned, at least the one I tried worked on Fire OS (which is a “forked” version of Android).

If you do submit an idea for a book and want to share (or if it is selected for display by Google…I assume you’ll be willing to share then), I’d appreciate you letting me know.

What do you think of the idea? Intrigued? Uninterested? Do you think Amazon should have done it first…and should do it now? How popular do you think they would be? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

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 I Love My Kindle 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.

Round up #191: certified refurbished Kindles, Google Chromecast

July 25, 2013

Round up #191: certified refurbished Kindles, Google Chromecast

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Google introduces Chromecast, new Nexus 7

It was announced today…and it’s already sold out.

What is it?

Google Chromecast

It’s a small device you plug into the HDMI port on your HDTV. It then uses another device, such an iPhone or an Android phone to show video on the TV…wirelessly.

It apparently will work with Netflix and YouTube.

It could enable some people to “cut the cable”, and stop paying for cable TV.

How much does it cost?


That’s cheaper than a Roku, cheaper than some other alternatives.

Assuming it works well (and it’s too soon to tell), this could be a real game changer.

There are some obvious questions for us:

Will it work with a Kindle Fire?

My guess is that it will. From what I’m reading, I don’t think you need an app specifically for Chromecast on your device. I think the Netflix app on our Kindle Fires might work with it.

Will it work with Amazon Instant Video (including Prime streaming)?

Don’t know.

Will it display a game while we play it? Not sure. This isn’t true mirroring, like you get with the HDMI cable…that shows you everything that’s on your screen…unless it is blocked by the app (which is the case with some content from Xfinity).

If it’s blocked to an HDMI cable, will it be blocked to this? Not sure.

As you can tell, it is too soon to tell much…but this may be a very big story.


Google Blog article

has a video for it, and another announcements. There is a new version of Jelly Bean (an operating system), a new Google Play App…and the new Google Nexus 7 (being introduced July 30th in the USA for $229).

It looks to me like evolutionary change, rather than revolutionary…better sound, better screen. I’m not yet seeing features that are shocking. 🙂

Salon interview with Martin Amis


Salon article by Jane Graham

is a nice, lengthy interview with author Martin Amis. I quite enjoyed it…I’d love the bit in which Amis compares different authors to the type of hosts they would be if you appeared in their homes. Amis wants to make things pleasant for the reader…and doesn’t think some authors (and names are named) do. 🙂

“Here’s how Amazon self-destructs”

This is another

Salon article

this time by Evan Hughes.

It’s been getting some play in the blogosphere, but honestly, I think it depends on a basic intellectual fallacy.

The argument is that Amazon is going to put brick-and-mortar bookstores (I’m a former manager) out of business, and then Amazon is doomed because people depend on the stores to discover books:

“According to survey research by the Codex Group, roughly 60 percent of book sales — print and digital — now occur online. But buyers first discover their books online only about 17 percent of the time. Internet booksellers specifically, including Amazon, account for just 6 percent of discoveries. Where do readers learn about the titles they end up adding to the cart on Amazon? In many cases, at bookstores.”

Um, yes…they depend on bookstores now.

Just as the book sales themselves have shifted to online, the discovery of books can (and has been) shift to being online.

It’s a case of mistaking form for function, and I’ve commented on that before.

It’s like when someone would say, “I want an SD card slot in my Kindle Fire!”

That’s not what they really want. They want the functionality of an SD card slot. If there was another way to easily store and access information, would they really care that it wasn’t that specific technology? I don’t think so.

It would be like saying, “CD players will never be popular because so many people own vinyl records.” The CD players themselves changed the percentage of vinyl records being bought…and Amazon (and other e-book retailers) can change the way people discover books.

They are still looking for the best ways, but it is going to work…someone will really crack it.

It also seems obvious to me: as people buy more books (e-books and p-books…paperbooks) on line, the value of the brick-and-mortar as a showroom will diminish.

Suggesting that Amazon is hurting itself by diminishing book discovery in brick-and-mortars (and therefore diminishing book buying) only works if some other mechanism doesn’t replace it…which seems like an unnecessarily reductive assessment of social behavior.

Australian officials decline to investigate e-book price fixing

Thanks to mobileread (which is one of the most valuable sites about e-books and EBRs (E-Book Readers) for the heads up on this

Financial Review article by James Hutchinson

The European Union already dealt with the e-book price fixing issue. The US Department of Justice recently won against Apple over the alleged (now found evident in court) conspiracy (and got the publishers to settle), although there will be appeals.

What about Australia?

Well, Nick Xenophon, and independent Senator there, asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to look into possible misdeeds connected with e-book pricing.

The Commission replied, “…the conduct of concern occurred in the US and we note that conduct is being sanctioned by the regulator in the US”.

Wait, what? 😉

I don’t think the behavior has been sanctioned…since Apple was just found guilty in Federal court. I know the prices for e-books aren’t the same in Australia that they are in the USA (although some of that may have to do with taxes and the like), but I would think that decisions are made in Australia…prices don’t just get set in the USA and then transferred unfiltered to Australia.

The door wasn’t closed, but the case wasn’t opened, either.

Weirdly, to me, they give over the last part of the article to Jon Page, former President of the Australian Booksellers Association, who thinks investigators shouldn’t look at Apple, but just at Amazon. Take a look at the statement yourself, but that seems strange to me…why not look at them both, if you think there’s a problem?

Certified Refurbished Kindles from Amazon

I think this makes sense for a lot of people.

Amazon is now selling

Certified Refurbished Kindles

That means that they are used, but they have been inspected, repaired if necessary…and they come with the exact same warranty as new Kindles!

Not only does that mean you can get a Kindle Paperwhite for $104 (although they are out of stock on that one right now), you can also get discontinued models, like the Kindle Touch.

Personally, I would not hesitate to do this…I like a refurbished model, just like I like a used car from a reputable source (we’ve bought from rental agencies on the latter). No, it’s not new…but it goes through more of a check. If a Kindle is a lemon and you buy it new, it doesn’t work. What do you do with it? You send it back…and Amazon assesses it. If it’s unfixable, it’s gone. If it’s fixable, so it works like new…it’s refurbished. You just have to be okay with someone else having tried it first.

What do you think? I have readers in Australia…do you think action should be taken there to investigate e-book prices? Would you buy a refurbished Kindle, or is it worth more money for a new one? Are you intrigued by Chromecast? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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

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