Color E-ink screens are expensive, and that is doubly true as the dimensions increase. There’s less of a demand for large screens, which means smaller production runs, and consequently higher costs.
But those larger screens are available, if you have the funds.
I just learned that E-ink is now selling a 31.2″ Kaleido screen unit for $2,300. (You can also buy a grayscale screen for $1,500.) This is just the screen without a controller chip, power regulator, or anything, so it’s really more for the DIYer than consumers, but it is available.
I just found something cool I want to share with you.
Lukas Mathis has developed a tool that you can keep track of new releases by authors you like. It’s called BookFeed.io, and what it does is:
Bookfeed.io is a simple tool that allows you to specify a list of authors, and generates an RSS feed with each author’s most recently released book. I made this because I don’t want a recommendation algorithm to tell me what to read, I just want to know when my favorite authors release new books.
One reason I like this is that it is so very simple. Yes, I can subscribe to various mailing lists and get this same info from publishers, but then I’d also get other emails which I don’t want (this is why I no longer subscribe to said emails).
BTW, I think Amazon has something similar; I have sometimes gotten emails about new releases from certain authors.
Kindle Unlimited saw a huge jump in usage during the first month of the year. The funding pool grew by $2 million compared to December 2020. The new total is $36 million, or about $7.8 million more than January 2020.
At the same time, the per-page rate fell by about three hundredth of a cent.
Here are the per-page rates for the past three years.
January 2021: $0.004216
December 2020: $0.004514
November 2020: $0.004644
October 2020: $0.004538
September 2020: $0.004594
August 2020: $0.004322
July 2020: $0.004294
June 2020: $0.004547
May 2020: $0.004203
April 2020: $0.004226
March 2020: $0.0046
February 2020: $0.004547
January 2020: $0.004411
December 2019: $0.004664
November 2019: $0.004925
October 2019: $0.0046763
September 2019: $0.0046799
August 2019: $0.004387
July 2019 – $0.004394
June 2019 – $0.004642
May 2019 – $0.0046598
April 2019 – $0.0046602
March 2019 – $0.0045124
February 2019 – $0.0047801
January 2019 – $0.0044227
December 2018 – $0.0048778
November 2018 – $0.0052056
October 2018 – $0.0048414
September 2008 – $0.004885
August 2018 – $0.0044914
July 2018 – $0.0044936
P.S. Here’s a list of the monthly funding pools. It does not include the bonuses paid out each month.
July 2014: $2.5 million (Kindle Unlimited launches early in the month)
It’s now known as the Pocketbook InkPad Color, and according to what I was told by Pocketbook it has a new Kaleido screen with a different color filter pattern which allowed the better contrast and color saturation. The new device also has software tweaks that give it a faster refresh rate. (The 6″ Pocketbook Color, which shipped last summer, had a tolerably fast refresh rate.)
It is still limited to only 100 DPI when displaying color, and 300 DPI for grayscale.
The Pocketbook 740 will be a great color ereader, but it does have one small quirk that some won’t like: It runs a version of Linux. If you want an ereader that runs Android and has a color E-ink screen, you should look at the Bigme S3.
This ereader has a 7.8″ Kaleido E-ink screen with frontlight and capacitive touchscreen. It runs Android 8.1 on an octa-core 1.8GHz CPU with 2GB RAM and 32GB internal storage.
That is a lot of RAM, storage, and CPU (and let’s not forget the expensive screen), so it probably will not surprise you that the BigMe S3 costs over $500 at retail. In fact, this ereader went up for pre-order from Chinese online retailer JD.com recently for 3,499 CNY (about $544 USD).
Screen: 7.8″ 1404 x 1872 pixel color E Ink display
Pocketbook’s third color ereader is going to sport a 7.8″ Kaleido E-ink screen capable of displaying up to 4096 colors. This is the same screen that Onyx wanted to use on the Nova2 Color, but Pocketbook is beating them to the punch.
The Pocketbook 740 Color is based on the same hardware as the Inkpad 3 (they even share the same model number).
According to Pocketbook’s product page, this device ships with a capacitive touchscreen, frontlight, BT, and Wifi. It runs Pocketbook’s OS on a dual-core 1GHz CPU with 1GB RAM and 16GB internal storage. This ereader is powered by a 2.9Ah battery, and measures 8mm thin.
Retail is going to be 21999 rubles, or about $296 USD. It is expected to ship in Russia in March.
Pretty cool device, no?
BTW, I had not had a chance to post about them but there are a couple other large-screen color ereaders that may be shipping soon in China. They’re from a company called Bigme, and sport 7.8″ and 10″ color E-ink screens.
Amazon may have put Kindle development on hold for the duration, but Kobo has not.
A new Kobo ereader just showed up on the FCC website this morning. All of the photos have been embargoed, but I was able to confirm the brand, model number, and a few specs.
The Kobo N604 was tested for both Bluetooth and Wifi, but I have not been able to find any mention of peripherals (I was kinda hoping for a stylus).
Edit: Someone pointed out to me where the 32GB storage is mentioned, so we can add that to the spec list.
I know that the usual unreliable source is claiming there’s 32GB of storage and that this is the Forma 2, but given their reputation I am not going to put any weight in what they say. (Remember, they said on at least 5 different occasions that Amazon would launch a new Kindle Voyage.) (Honestly, you could take the inverse of their position, and you’d have a much better chance of being right.)
I will note that the presence of BT suggests this is a premium model, so it could well be a replacement for the Forma.
Long time readers of this blog have probably noticed the sharp decline in new blog posts. Alas, my interests have shifted, and the following project is an example of why.
I am currently designing a website template for an online book fair, and I need help. While I do have the tech skills to build the template, I don’t have a good grasp of the content to put in it. The content is usually something I develop in partnership with clients, but I don’t have any clients for this project yet, and I might never have clients.
You see, I plan to give this template away for free, so that all can benefit.
Given how things are going, it’s pretty clear we will be having online events until further notice, and giving away this template is my way of helping the author community make it through this trying time.
If you would like to help me in this effort, please leave a comment (or send me an email). Tell me what you would put on the website belonging to an online author-centric book fair. I will incorporate the suggestions into the template, and release it for free.
And just to be clear, this project is focused on book fairs devoted to authors, and not events the scale of Book Expo America. (Maybe we can cover larger events in Phase 2?)
P.S. I have already registered a domain for this project (the website is not yet live), and I’ve made first drafts for the home page and the author profile page. Here’s what I have so far.
P.P.S. Speaking of interesting projects, you may have noticed that the screenshots are from a site called The Speaker Bureau. The short version is that I was elected president of a local writing club back in December, and given the job of recruiting speakers for the meetings. This made me realize that most people in my position would have trouble finding speakers, so I decided to launch a site to solve that problem.
P.P.P.S. Let me know if you need help designing a website for a writing club, online conference, or anything. While I have made a name for myself building author websites, they have taught me that there are certain basic principles which apply to all websites. Or as I see it, designing a website involves asking questions. The answers will differ from one type of site to the next, but the questions are universal. (And I know what to ask.)
Following an amended complaint filed this week, the Big Five publishers are now named as defendants in a consumer class action lawsuit that alleges a conspiracy with Amazon to fix prices in the e-book market.
I just read the amended complaint and there’s still no evidence of a conspiracy. The filing does say that "Defendants did not act unilaterally or independently", so clearly they are claiming there was a conspiracy, but there’s still nothing to back it up.
With that in mind, I will repeat what I wrote when this story broke:
Five independently negotiated contracts does not a conspiracy make.
While I would love to see these contracts broken and real competition restored to the marketplace, I just don’t see this case going anywhere.
Barnes & Noble has always offered ebook royalty terms which were better than Amazon’s, and now they’re a lot better.
I’ve just learned that B&N has changed its royalty terms. It used to pay 65% or 40% depending on the price of the ebook, but now ebooks distributed through B&N Press will pay a flat 70% royalty. And in related news, B&N Press now also sends payments 30 days after the end of the month, rather than 60 days.
The changes took effect at the beginning of the year, and will be reflected in royalty payments sent out in February.
Barnes & Noble is the second ebook retailer to improve its royalty terms in recent months; in August of last year, Play Books started a beta test where it offered 70% royalty in the US, Canada, and Australia. That program expanded in October 2020 to cover 60 plus countries.
In comparison, Amazon has a coercive royalty fee structure which pays a 35% or 70% royalty, and still includes the laughable "delivery fees". These are essentially the same terms that Amazon first offered over a decade ago, coincidentally proving once again that the dominant player does not have to innovate.
Earlier today I set out to write a round up post on the topic of feed reader apps. I am trying to devote Sunday morning to staying in bed and catching up on my news feeds on my iPad, and I thought that would be a great reason to download all the apps, test them, and then write a blog post talking about which one was best.
But then I found the list of compatible apps, and I realized the project may take more time than I have to spare.
I haven’t really looked at this topic since about 2014, and I was frankly surprised to see that the list of options had grown so long. Speaking of which, there’s an app missing from the list: your web browser.
I am a paying subscriber of the Bazqux feed reader, and I read it in Chrome on my iPad. It works so well that I have no real need to find an app to replace it.
I will start trying those apps, but in the meantime I wanted to get recommendations.
What app should I try? Which one do you think is best?
We’re finally seeing some progress on this front. While Amazon is still actively promoting returns as a benefit of subscribing, they did just announce on the ACX blog that they are going to launch a new sales dashboard in March 2021. The new dashboard will break out returns by title. (Previously, Audible had provided no info on returns, instead hiding the info by showing only net sales.)
I have the ACX blog post at the end of this post.
On a related note, last November Audible changed its return policies so that creators would still get paid if a customer returned an audiobook months after buying it.
We’re committed to making Audible and ACX the best experience it can be for our creative community, and we’ve heard your feedback. We have been hard at work building a new reporting system to reflect details on returns, including returned units by title. Starting March 2021, you’ll be able to see this data on your ACX Sales Dashboard. This data will also be included in your monthly financial statements for March 2021 and the following months. We appreciate your patience as we invest the time and resources to make these updates to the dashboard and our backend systems, so that we can expand reporting details for our thousands of creators. As of January 1, 2021, we are paying royalties on any return made more than 7 days after purchase.
We are also making other changes to our ACX policies to provide more flexibility, which we know is important to you. Effective February 1, ACX Rights Holders of DIY or Pay-for-Production titles that have been on sale for 90 or more days can convert their distribution type from exclusive to non-exclusive. In addition, all ACX Rights Holders will have the option to terminate after 90 days of distribution, but Rights Holders with Royalty Share or Royalty Share Plus deals must provide Producer consent when making their request. More details about this update will come in the payments letter that will be sent next week.