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Nate Hoffelder

Nate Hoffelder auf Twitter.

Audible Launches Netflix-Style Audiobook Services in Spain and Italy

Just under a month ago Amazon launched a limited "all you can listen" service in the US called Audible Plus. It cost $8 per month and let you access around 11,000 titles.

Now news comes to us via TNPS that Amazon has launched a much more comprehensive Netflix-style service in Spain and Italy. The new services, which you can sign up for via localized Amazon or Audible websites,  cost 10 euros per month and offer access to 70,00 titles in Spain or 60,000 titles in Italy. The service in Spain has just launched, but according to reports the service in Italy has been operating for some time now.

It is hard to say how those catalogs compare to the US market, where audiobooks are still being licensed to consumers one title at a time; Audible has very carefully avoided disclosing the number of titles it offers for license in the US market (I think they want to avoid overshadowing Audible Plus).

Amazon has been working towards an unlimited audiobook service for going on six years now. The first such service launched in Japan in 2015, but apparently that service shut down at some point. Audible Japan currently offers the one credit per month subscription model found in the US and other markets, and I have heard nothing to indicate that would change.

There was also talk around that time that Amazon was pressuring German book publishers to sign new contracts for an unlimited audiobook service. That has not yet happened, but given the launches in Spain and Italy, it would seem likely that Germany is next on Amazon’s list.

On a related note, Amazon has not disclosed the payment terms for audiobook titles offered through the unlimited services. Does anyone know how creators are compensated?

Onyx Boox Poke 3, Nova 3, Note 3 Clear the FCC

In addition to announcing a couple new ereaders yesterday, Onyx recently also filed FCC paperwork for three additional ereaders. All three are updates for existing models, but have not been formally announced.

Onyx has not embargoed any of the interesting details, but I cannot tell you anything at the moment because the FCC website isn’t cooperating. It took the longest time to download just the one set of external photos, and I do not have more time to spend on this.

What I do know is that the existing Poke 2, Nova 2, and Note 2 models run Android 9,0 and have 6″, 7.8″, and 10.3″ screens.  It is reasonable to assume that the new models will have the same size screens and run Android 10.

Here are the links; I hope you have better luck at viewing the attached files than I did.

Poke 3 (FCC)

Nova 3 (FCC)

Note 3 (FCC)

Onyx Boox Note Air has a 10.3″ E-ink Screen, Color-Changing Frontlight (video)

Onyx launched two new ereaders on Sunday. The first is the Lumi, and the second is the Boox Note Air.

The Note Air is an update to Onyx"s 10.3″ ereader which adds an improved frontlight, better CPU, an improved writing experience. Like the Max Lumi, the Note Air runs Android 10 and is designed to compete in the tablet space. It is intended to be a replacement for the iPad, and it is priced low enough that it is a viable alternative.

The Note Air is going to ship early next month. Its retail price is $479.


  • Screen: 10.3 " Carta E-ink
  • Resolution: 1404 x 1872 (227 ppi)
  • Touchscreen: Wacom digitzier with stylus (4096 levels pressure sensitivity) + capacitive
  • Frontlight: color-changing Moonlight 2
  • CPU: 1.8Ghz Octa-core
  • RAM: 3GB 
  • Internal Storage: 32GB
  • Connectivity: Wifi, Bluetooth
  • OS: Android 10.0
  • Documents Formats: PDF(reflowable), PPT,EPUB, TXT, DJVU, HTML, RTF, FB2, DOC, MOBI, CHM
  • Image Formats: PNG, JPG, TIFF, BMP
  • Audio Formats: WAV, MP3
  • Expansion Interface: USB Type-C (support OTG)
  • Monitor Interface: micro HDMI
  • Speeder: yes
  • Battery: 3Ah
  • Dimensions: 229.4 × 195.4 × 5.8 mm
  • Weight: 420g


Morning Coffee – 21 September 2020

Here are a few stories to read this Monday morning.

Sargent Out at Macmillan

John Sargent is being let go from his position as CEO of Macmillan, and it probably has to do with the policies he set for ebooks. Sargent  is leaving Macmillan on 1 January. The president of Macmillan US Trade, Don Weisberg, has been named as his replacement.

According to the statement, "With great regret, Holtzbrinck Publishing Group announces the departure of John Sargent as of January 1st, 2021 as a result of disagreements regarding the direction of Macmillan."

"The family shareholders, the supervisory board, my colleagues and I thank John Sargent deeply for making Macmillan a strong and highly successful publishing house and for his most helpful advice."

"“John’s principles and exemplary leadership have always been grounded in worthy, essential causes, be it freedom of  speech, the environment, or support for the most vulnerable. Since Holtzbrinck shares these ideals, they will live on."

This announcement comes about three months after Macmillan announced that Sargent was stepping back from day-to-day operations. Some will take that as a sign that his departure is related to current social issues, but I think Sargent’s policies concerning ebooks played a major role.

Remember, for the past couple years Sargent was a strong opponent to selling ebooks to libraries. He was almost the spokesperson for the position, and while he was CEO of Macmillan he made sure that library ebooks were ridiculously expensive, and difficult to acquire. (This has lead to public libraries boycotting Macmillan books.)

Sargent has also spent the past 11 years doing everything in his power to stimy ebook sales. He was one of the original Price Fix Six conspirators who brought about agency ebook pricing in early 2010, and then he also brought about agency 2.0 as soon as he could.

Sargent has done his best to limit Macmillan’s ebook sales, but now we are going into an era where print production and distribution is going to be problematic. If ebooks aren’t the future, they are at least the present, and thanks to Sargent Macmillan is not ready for what’s coming.

With all that in mind, is it really any surprise that he is leaving?

image by ActuaLitté via Flickr

Amazon Rebrands Amazon Freetime Unlimited as Amazon Kids+

Amazon’s kid-centric subscription service is old enough that its earliest users are now attending college. And just like empty-nesters who remodel a kid’s old room into a den, Amazon is changing Freetime Unlimited.

The retailer announced on Monday that it was rebranding the service under the name Amazon Kids+:

Since the launch of Amazon FreeTime and FreeTime Unlimited, over 20 million parents have trusted Amazon to give them the parental controls they need to provide a safe place for their children to enjoy the premium books, games, shows, and movies that kids love. Today, we’re announcing a change in the names of these services—Amazon FreeTime and Amazon FreeTime Unlimited are becoming Amazon Kids and Amazon Kids+. You’ll see this change roll out over the coming months.

The new names reflect our continued commitment to invest in and expand kids’ experiences, including bringing fun, educational content to kids and providing parental controls that give families peace of mind. Amazon Kids+ already offers more than 20,000 books, movies, Audible books, games, and Spanish-language content designed just for kids. Today, we’re bringing even more content and features we hope families will love.


Kindle Unlimited Funding Pool, Per-Page Rate Rose in August 2020

Amazon announced on Tuesday that the Kindle Unlimited funding pool for August 2020 totaled $32.6 million, up two hundred grand from July. At the same, the royalty paid for each page increased to $0.004322.

Here are the per-page rates for the past just over 2 years.

  • 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)
  • August 2014: $4.7 million
  • September 2014: $5 million
  • October 2014: $5.5 million
  • November 2014: $6.5 million
  • December 2014: $7.25 million
  • January 2015 – $8.5 million
  • February 2015: $8 million
  • March 2015: $9.3 million
  • April 2015: $9.8 million
  • May 2015: $10.8 million
  • June 2015: $11.3 million
  • July 2015: $11.5 million
  • August 2015: $11.8 million
  • September 2015: $12 million
  • October 2015: $12.4 million
  • November 2015: $12.7 million
  • December 2015: $13.5 million
  • January 2016: $15 million
  • February 2016: $14 million
  • March 2016: $14.9 million
  • April 2016: $14.9 million
  • May 2016: $15.3 million
  • June 2016: $15.4 million
  • July 2016: $15.5 million
  • August 2016: $15.8 million
  • September 2016: $15.9 million
  • October 2016: $16.2 million
  • November 2016: $16.3 million
  • December 2016: $16.8 million
  • January 2017: : $17.8 million
  • February 2017: : $16.8 million
  • March 2017: $17.7 million
  • April 2017: $17.8 million
  • May 2017 :$17.9 million
  • June 2017: $18 million
  • July 2017: $19 million
  • August 2017: $19.4 million
  • September 2017: $19.5 million
  • October 2017: $19.7 million
  • November 2017: $19.8 million
  • December 2017: $19.9 million
  • January 2018: $20.9 million
  • February 2018: $20 million
  • March 2018: $21 million
  • April 2018: $21.2 million
  • May 2018: $22.5 million
  • June 2018: $22.6 million
  • July 2018: $23.1 million
  • August 2018: $23.3 million
  • September 2018: $23.4 million
  • October 2018: $23.5 million
  • November 2018: $23.6 million
  • December 2018: $23.7 million
  • January 2019: $24.7 million
  • February 2019: $23.5 million
  • March 2019: $24 million
  • April 2019: $24.1 million
  • May 2019: $24.6 million
  • June 2019: $24.9 million
  • July 2019: $25.6 million
  • August 2019: $25.8 million
  • September 2019: $25.9 million
  • October 2019: $26 million
  • November 2019: $26.1 million
  • December 2019: $26.2 million
  • January 2020: $28.2 million
  • February 2020: $27.2 million
  • March 2020: $29 million
  • April 2020: $30.3 million
  • May 2020: $32.2 million
  • June 2020: $32.3 million
  • July 2020: $32.4 million
  • August 2020: $32.6 million

Audible Escape is Being Shut Down on 1 November

Audible sent out an email on Tuesday, informing authors and users that it was shutting down Audible Escape subscription service. (Thanks, Isobel!)

Here’s the email that was sent to authors:

Audible Escape (formerly known as the Audible Romance Package) will end on 1 November per an email from ACX.

Since November 1 2017, Audible Escape has provided avid romance fans with countless hours of entertainment and enjoyment, including your titles. We’ve learned s mych about what customers are looking for in an unlimited listening membership, inspiring new offerings and services that present members a diverse selection of titles across a mix of formats (such as audiobooks, podcasts, and Audible Originals) as well as lengths and genres.

As of 1 November, Audible will no longer offer the Audible Escape subscription. This means titles will be removed from subscribers' libraries on that date.

You will receive royalties for all Audible Escape listening of your titles, and qualifying creators will receive author/producer and title bonuses based on the full Q4 2020 bonus pool.

Launched in 2017 under the name Audible Romance, Audible Escape was the second audiobook Netflix-style subscription service launched by the Amazon subsidiary (the first launched in Japan in 2015).  The Audible Escape service was immensely loved by subscribers for the same reason it was disliked by authors: it give listeners access to an immense library romance audiobooks in exchange for a flat monthly fee.

As a result, the payment rate was abysmal, and if Audible ever addressed that issue, they did not ever mention it in public.

Audible Escape has essentially been replaced by Audible Plus, the $8 a month service that Audible launched last month. That service offers access to a diverse range of content, including podcasts, audiobooks, and Audible Originals, and it is available for free to Amazon Prime members and Audible subscribers on the Gold or Platinum plans.


Morning Coffee – 14 September 2020

Here are a few stories to read this Monday morning.

Amazon Launches "Book Clubs" in Beta, But Forgets to Add Any Discussion Features

I’ve just learned about an Amazon feature that, while not exactly new, is still relatively unknown and has not been officially launched.

I was browsing Dale Robert’s Facebook group today when someone mentioned Amazon Book Clubs. Kevin Maguire posted this screensnap while mentioning to him that the feature was new to him.


A little bit of Google sleuthing lead me to the relevant page on Amazon, but otherwise turned up little useful info (no one has reported on it yet). According to the FAQ linked at the bottom of the page, ABC is "a great way to help bring your discussions to life. Easily coordinate book selection, get notifications, and more, all in one place. Oh yeah, it’s also free. Because at Amazon, reading and discussing books is available for everyone." (The self-congratulatory tone makes me want to vomit, too.)

There are apparently several thousand book clubs on the platform already; most  are small and have only a handful of members, but the largest "featured" club had several thousand members.

It is hard to say just how many users have joined clubs, or how many clubs there are; there’s no single list, leaving you to search for clubs based on keywords. This is more or less privacy through obscurity, which sounds nice at first but will probably make it harder for potential members to find clubs they like.

On the plus side, Amazon does let you launch "private" book clubs where activity is shielded from public view, and is only visible to a club’s members and Amazon’s algorithms.

You have to be approved by an admin before you can join a private club, while a public club is open to all. That is quite a different definition of public and private from what FB uses. for its groups.

Speaking of which, its pretty clear that Amazon’s goal is to supplant FB groups as a discussion forum, and I hope they succeed. While I like the people I have met in FB groups, the platform itself is unpleasant to use. It was designed with data collection in mind, not user comfort, and Amazon could not possibly build something worse.

Edit: I have to take that back. A reader pointed out that the "book clubs" lack any sort of discussion or other group features. (I missed this at first because I simply assumed that something called a book club would have club-like features.) Since there’s no community or discussion features, I really do not know why Amazon launched this.

So what do you think of the new book clubs? Have you tried them yet?

How do they compare to the user groups on Goodreads?

Publishers Dismayed By 25% Increase in eBook Revenues in July 2020

Woe is me, cried the publisher!

The Association of American Publishers announced on Wednesday that publisher revenue was down 9.4% for the month of July, and down 5.8% year to date. The decline is largely the result of steep declines in sales of educational materials for both college and K-12, while at the same time most other segments of the industry have shown surprising resilience in the face of serious supply issues. (Whether that will remain the case as the impact of paper shortages moves down the supply chain is another matter.)

One bright point is that ebook sales have increased by 25% for the month of July,

eBook revenues were up 25.0% for the month as compared to July 2019 for a total of $103.7 million. On a year-to-date basis, eBooks were up 14.2%, coming in at $652.9 million for the first seven months of 2020. Notably, eBook revenues in the Children’s and YA category saw a 76.4% jump during the month, coming in at $11.6 million. On a year-to-date basis, eBook revenues in the Children’s and YA category were up 63.3% for the first seven months of the year, coming in at $73.2 million.

This is good news for some publishers, just not for those who have spent the past eleven years (since 2009, yes) doing their best to avoid selling ebooks. Those publishers have steadfastly refused to adapt to the market, and will soon be hoist by their own petard.

As Kris Rusch pointed out in her weekly column yesterday, publishers are only just beginning to feel the pain caused by supply chain disruptions. The situation will only get worse as the pandemic drags on, and the publishers who resisted selling ebooks to either consumers or libraries will bear the brunt of financial impact.


image by Pasa la vida via Flickr

Parabola Linux Has Been Ported to the Remarkable Tablet (video)

If you are looking for new things to do with your Remarkable tablet, I just heard that someone has developed a third-party firmware for it. It’s Parabola Linux, which opens up enormous possibilities for porting software, but at the same time it comes at a cost (Wifi is not supported).

From Hackaday:

Davis Remmel has been hard at work porting Parabola, a completely free and open source GNU/Linux distribution, to the reMarkable. Developers will appreciate the opportunity to audit and modify the OS, but even from an end-user perspective, Parabola greatly opens up what you can do on the device. Before you were limited to a tablet UI and a select number of applications, but with this replacement OS installed, you’ll have a full-blown Linux desktop to play with.

You still won’t be watching videos or gaming on the reMarkable (though technically, you would be able to), but you could certainly use it to read and edit documents the original OS didn’t support. You could even use it for light software development. Since USB serial adapters are supported, microcontroller work isn’t out of the question either. All while reaping the considerable benefits of electronic paper.

The only downside is that the WiFi hardware is not currently supported as it requires proprietary firmware to operate. No word on whether or not Davis is willing to make some concession there for users who aren’t quite so strict about their software freedoms.

The Remarkable tablet is a 10.3″ writing slate designed to replace a paper notebook. The first model launched several years ago, and a second model launched just last month. Retail is $337.

This Parabola port is being sold for $20. That is not unreasonable, although I do think that a paid firmware should include Wifi.

E-ink is Developing a Second-Gen ACeP Color ePaper (video)

A little over 4 years ago E-ink launched a 7-color epaper screen for the signage market. The 20″ and larger screens have not seen widespread use (although the tech has started to show up in the DIY market) but that hasn’t stopped E-ink from continuing to develop the technology.

Digitimes reports that E-ink plans to roll out its next-gen Advanced Color ePaper (ACeP) screen tech next year, according to company chairman Johnson Lee.

Few details are available about the tech under development, but I can give you a look at the current gen ACeP screens. As you can see, it takes over ten seconds to refresh the screen, although the final result is worth it.

One thing I didn’t know until I saw this was that it appears to be capable of displaying not just 7 colors bout also combinations of the 7 colors.

Or are my eyes fooling me?

Amazon Has Retired KindleGen

I was just catching up with the #ePrdctn tag over on Twitter when I read that Amazon has removed the KindleGen ebook-creation tool from its website.

I checked the page in question, and he is correct. Amazon has removed the KindleGen download links and replaced them with a notice which reads:

KindleGen is no longer available for download. Please use Kindle Previewer to convert, preview, and validate your eBooks. Kindle Previewer provides the same functionality of KindleGen and, in addition, provides:

  • Latest Kindle Conversion software that provides up-to-date validation for Enhanced Typesetting books (currently available for books in all languages except Simplified Chinese, Japanese, and Russian).
  • Choice of using in Graphical User Interface (GUI) for a visual inspection of your book, or, Command Line Interface (CLI) mode for bulk validation.
  • Faster preview and validation with features like thumbnails, auto-previews, and filters for pages with images, tables, drop caps, and links.

Click here to visit the Kindle Previewer product page

KindleGen was a command-line tool for creating Kindle ebooks. I beleive it launched around 2009, when it was a niche tool which was overshadowed by existing tools such as Mobipocket Creator. It was repeatedly updated over the years, but I don’t think it ever lost its status as a niche tool (there were always dozens of tools which could make Kindle ebooks).

I can’t tell you the last time I used KindleGen; I think it would have to be when I tested it to report on support for Russian. (This was all the way back in 2013!) I never found much use for the tool, but I understand that some publishers had integrated KindleGen into their production process. (Although I am not sure how many did; back when I paid more attention to this, I usually heard calibre mentioned instead.)

Dasung Launches a 10.3″ eReader on Kickstarter With a Ridiculous Price

The Chinese E-ink monitor maker Dasung  is back again with their second ereader, but I really do not recommend buying it.

The Not-eReader 103 is a 10.3″ ereader that runs Android 9.0. It’s a lot like the Note2 from Onyx, only with a price tag over $200 higher and, judging by the reviews over at Mobileread, glitchy software.

You can pre-order one today on Kickstarter for $768. The announced ship date is November 2020.

Powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 660 CPU, the Not-eReader 103 ships with 4GB RAM, 64GB internal storage (plus a microSD card slot), Wifi, Bluetooth, and a 6.4Ah battery.

It has a screen about the same size as the Remarkable 2, and like that ereader the Not-eReader 103 has both a capacitive and Wacom touchscreen. (The Remarkable 2 costs $399.)

While the Not-eReader 103 does cost almost twice as much, it does have a couple advantages over the Remarkable 2.  This device supports USB host, and it can connect to your PC as a monitor.

That’s great, but I do not feel it justifies the high price.

What do you think?