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Kogan raised the price on their e-reader as a stunt

One of the Australian tech blogs I follow is Oz-E-Books, which is run by Darryl Adams. He noticed last night that Kogan, an Australian electronics retailer (similar to Newegg) had raised the price on the ereader they had just started selling.

It was a stunt:

I was caught out by the Kogan ereader price hike, so I emailed Vuki from Kogan for some info.

Kogan ran an advert during the Ben Cousins show on Channel 7 and the "gimick" was that Ads add cost to a product, to pay for it Kogan was pumping the prices up by 20% until sunday.

This is a clever but risky play on Kogan’s part. Part piss take, part serious commentary on prices.

Here’s the commercial, in case you were interested:

Zinio now pitching digital textbooks

I’m not sure I beleive it either, but that’s what the email said. I’ve looked over the selection, and all of the titles I checked were selling for about half the list price. Of course, I could also get a paper copy for half the list price, so Zinio’s prices  weren’t all that good.

I have the latest version of the Zinio Reader, and I would strongly discourage anyone from trying to use it for digital textbooks. It works okay for passive reading (magazines), but active reading (textbooks) is beyond what it can do. It has no highlighting, bookmarks, or annotation abilities.

This makes no sense. Zinio are selling a product that their software can’t adequately support. I’m going to assume that they didn’t make a mistake here, and that there is a second Zinio Reader I don’t know about. I’ll go look for it.

If I find it I’ll post a review.

Zinio Digital Textbooks

Samsung to stop developing epaper screens

From Trading Markets:

Samsung Electronics Co., Asia’s largest maker of mobile phones and memory chips, said Monday that it has recently decided to withdraw from the electronic paper (e-paper) business due to cost issues.

The company, however, will not completely leave the market for electronic book (e-book) readers, and plans to launch next year an electronic reading device using a liquid crystal display (LCD) panel as a screen, according to the company’s spokesman.

"We will launch a new e-book reader next year but it will use an LCD instead of e-paper," said spokesman Kim Se-hoon by phone, refusing to say when the company halted e-paper production. He also declined to elaborate further on the size or other specifications of the forthcoming model.

Wow. One of the heavyweights just dropped out of the market.

Samsung were an exhibitor at SID Display week, a screen tech trade show. They weren’t just making devices; they were doing original research on new screen technology.

TDR covered SID Display Week back in late May early June. Now I’m really glad we did. We probably won’t have a chance to see their screen tech again.

New Sony Library hints at PRS-950

Igorsk posted over at MobileRead that the new version of the Soy Reader Library s now available for download. Some of the improvements listed on the download page include:

  • Support for PRS-350 / PRS-650
  • Support for new languages (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese)
  • Support for new regions (Australia, Spain, Italy)
  • PRS Device registration without Adobe ID

He also reported that the XML config files also mention the PRS-950. I haven’t found it myself, but I will take igorsk at his word.

I guess this means Sony really is going to try to compete with B&N and Amazon. I wish them luck, but I frankly don’t see them lasting much longer.

via MobileRead

Viewsonic VEB-620 now in stock at J&R, Amazon

I think I threw my back out dancing for joy. This is the first time that I’ve seen this ereader in stock in the US. Why is that important? Because now I can start bugging the US division to lend me one.

This is your typical 6″ ereader (no Wifi or touch screen). It comes with 2GB Flash, SDHC card slot and support for Adobe DE DRM.

This ereader first showed up back before the Nook wifi was announced. At its original retail ($269), it was a little over priced but still in line with Sony and Pocketbook. Now that it’s selling for $179 and you can get the Kindle Wifi for $139, I think you should avoid the VEB-620.

Amazon

J&R

I think Murdoch’s tablet newspaper will fail

Peter Kafka has the scoop over at AllThingsDigital. He’s reporting that Greg Clayman, formerly of Viacom, is going to head NewsCorp’s new tablet news unit (or whatever they end up calling it).

I’ve pretty much assumed that this would happen, and I’m pretty sure it will also fail. But I never really explained why. It comes down to competition, cost, and news coverage.

This new tablet news service (TNS) is going to have to compete with all of Newscorp’s established blogs, websites, and daily newspapers, most of which are freely available online. And a lot of them already have apps, too, which will only  make things harder for the TNS.

My guess is that the TNS will be a general news source rather than have a specialty (finance, tech, gossip, etc). Why would I pay for the TNS when I can get the same general news coverage elsewhere for free? Heck, I can even get good coverage from other parts of Newscorp for free.

Unless they’re going to lock down all of Newscorp’s blogs (including AllThingsDigital), their subscription based TNS will be competing with other divisions that are giving the content away. When you look at it that way it doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Why the "I hope Epub kills Kindle format" fanatics are fighting the wrong battle

Di you catch the Epub/Kindle editorial on ZDNet on Friday? The authors are wrong, but it’s still worth a read.

Here is the part that caught my eye:

But there is one thing that’s keeping me from whipping out the AMEX and clicking the “Buy Now” button at Amazon, and that’s the lack of EPUB support.

Frankly, I really don’t understand why Amazon would leave this out of their current generation of devices. I can understand why they would want to continue with AZW and their own DRM for content sold on their own store, but frankly, Amazon doesn’t sell every electronic book that you can possibly buy.

The problem with this type of article is that they are written by geeks, not the average user. I know the authors are geeks because the average user isn’t aware of the file format.

You see, there’s one thing that Amazon learned early on that most some  geeks haven’t realized yet: the file doesn’t matter. It’s the user experience that matters. The ideal UX is one where the user never has to know any technical info beyond basic operation, and Amazon have pulled that off. That’s why the Kindle format is winning.

Everyone who has been arguing Epub vs Kindle needs to step back and rethink how you’re advocating your preferred format. If you want Epub to win then start hawking the tools, not the file.

The file doesn’t  matter.

Apple’s Nefarious plan to dump the reading apps has been revealed!

Update: They’ve resubmitted the app and it was approved on Monday. Just so you know, I meant this post as a joke.

Read it Later just tried to submit their new iPhone app to Apple on Friday. (I bet you can guess what the app does from the company’s name.) Today they were told that it was rejected. They were given a rather odd explanation:

We’ve reviewed your apps, but cannot post these versions to the App Store because they require customers to register with personal information without providing account-based features. We have included additional details below to help explain the issue, and hope you’ll consider revising and resubmitting your application.

Applications cannot require user registration prior to allowing access to app features and content; such user registration must be optional and tied to account-based functionality.

The mind boggles. They didn’t add anything new, so I have to wonder if the reviewer was on drugs. The other alternative is that Apple has a new rule that "applications cannot require user registration prior to allowing access to app features and content". There goes almost all the reading apps . You can’t use Kindle, Kobo, B&N, or a lot of others without an account.

Perhaps this is a nefarious plan on the part of Apple. Naw. They’re not that competent.

The Kindle Store still has the best prices in the post agency market

The developer behind Inkmesh apparently had a break in his day job. He just ran another ebook price survey similar to the one he ran back in November 2009. FYI: Inkmesh is an ebook search engine. It’s the best way to find out which ebookstore has a given title, and more importantly which store has the best price.

First, a little background. The survey only covers titles that were available in all 5 major stores (Kindle, B&N, Kobo, Borders, Sony). This gave a sample set of 16,931 titles.

The following chart shows the number of titles for which each retailer had the lowest price (among the 16,931 titles in the survey). A lower score means that a store had the best price less often than a store with a higher score.

Note: if 2 stores had a titles at the same low price they each got the point.

He added a footnote of other statistics he found interesting:

As we found with our previous analysis, there were only 1270 (7.5%) ebooks that were free amongst these top selling ebooks. Thus, contrary to popular belief most of the top selling ebooks are actually not free.

Along with Amazon, and B&N, BooksOnBoard and Kobo put up a strong showing by beating Sony and Borders in terms of ebook pricing. Another interesting fact was that unlike before when Amazon had lowest price for 74% of the ebooks, this time the number dropped to 48%. A possibility could be that some smaller ebook vendors are yet not following the agency model and pricing their ebooks more aggressively than Amazon. A deeper analysis would be the subject of another blog.

In summary: when it comes to ebook pricing, Amazon is still the best, but B&N is close on heels. Sony is much better than before, but still far behind and needs to tighten up it’s pricing to start making a big impact. Borders is coming up, and Kobo had a surprisingly good showing. The landscape will continue to change as both newer and more established ebook vendors continue to lure readers to their sites.

Inkmesh blog

Best Buy to focus on destroying the tablet market this fall

Forbes are reporting:

Best Buy is known for stocking thousands of electronic gadgets. To date, that assortment has included just one tablet computer–Apple’s iPad–but that will change in coming months, Forbes has learned.

“Going into the holidays, we will make tablets a focus,” said Shawn Score, the president of Best Buy’s wireless retail unit, Best Buy Mobile, in an interview. “Like ereaders over the last couple years, we think customers will think of Best Buy for tablets and expect us to have the right ones.”

A new crop of tablets, including devices from Samsung, Acer and Research In Motion, is expected to debut in time for the holidays. Another wave may follow in January. Industry insiders say some tablets have been delayed and revamped due to the iPad’s popularity, but will be introduced in early 2011.

Told you so. Okay, I didn’t think it would move this fast, but I knew it would happen. And I think it makes my prediction that much more likely to come true. How many good tablets will BB have? There aren’t that many on the market. Heck, aside from Archos and the iPad I’m not sure there are any good tablets on the US market. I hope you’re not thinking about the Dell Streak. It’s going for $550 off contract, and it’s still sim-locked to AT&T.

Yes, a number of the majors are promising tablets in time for Christmas, but do you really think they’ll meet the ship date?

BTW, the Forbes author is somewhat wrong when she says that BB don’t stock tablets. I don’t have a picture handy, but they already have a display table that has about 12 to 15 handhelds like the Archos 5IT, iPod Touch, and others.They will likely reorganize that display and put the tablets there.

Delta looking at e-readers for the academic market

Digitimes have the story:

Delta Electronics will tap into the education market with its e-book readers in the second half of 2010 amid the digitalization in universities and school libraries.

Larger-size displays for reading and pen input are important for the educational market, which has been a major focus during the development of e-book readers, the company said.

Delta currently is focused on developing 8-inch e-book readers for the consumer market, and 13-inch devices for the education market, the company noted. Delta is scheduled to introduce its 8- and 13-inch e-book readers – with the two segments offering both grayscale and color devices – in the fourth quarter of 2010 or the beginning of 2011 in Taiwan and China.

FYI: The screen tech was developed by Bridgestone, and Delta Electronics are the ereader development partner. Also, Delta only operates in Taiwan and China, so we’re not going to see this device in the US.

Qualcomm to open Mirasol plant in Taiwan

Digitimes have the story:

Qualcomm MEMS Technologies plans to invest a total of US$2 billion to set up a 4.5G production plant for Mirasol displays at the Longtan site of Central Taiwan Science Park (CTSP), according to market sources.

Equipment installation is scheduled to begin in October 2011 and volume production at the beginning of 2012 mainly for 5.7-inch color applications, the sources added.

…Equipment suppliers have revealed that Qualcomm is the sole investor in the new plant project, according to the sources. But the company also hopes to expand Mirasol’s market through licensing, the sources added.

I know the name of at least one of ereader companies who will use the Mirasol screen (there might be several). Right now I’m waiting to see if Qualcomm will talk to me and ask me to hold the story.

Cruz Reader, Tablet now up for preorder at Borders

At long last the the next hot Android tablets are up for preorder on the Velocity Micro website and at Borders. VM are promising to ship both devices in late September, but Borders won’t ship the CT until late October.

I’m looking at the specs now, and I think I’d rather wait for the Cruz Tablet. I’m pretty sure that the Cruz Reader is the same hardware as the white Pandigital Novel.

Here are the specs for the Cruz Reader:

• 7” diagonal 800×600 touch screen
• Android 2.0
• 256MB RAM, 256MB internal storage
• Supports ePub, PDF, TXT, PDB, HTML
• 802.11 b/g wifi
• battery – up to 10+ hours of life, 24+ standby
• 4GB Bundled SD card
• Access to the Cruz Market™

And for the Cruz Tablet:

• 7” 16:9 800×480 screen
• Capacitive touch screen
• Android 2.1
• 512MB RAM
• 4GB Flash storage
• 8GB bundled SD card
• Supports ePub, PDF, TXT, PDB, HTML
• 802.11n wifi
• speakers
• Mic and headphone jacks
• battery – up to 10+ hours of life, 24+ standby
• Access to the Cruz Market™

How to turn Wordle into an e-book cover generator

by nizejpodpisany

Wordle

Wordle is a fantastic word cloud generator. Its creator, Jonathan Feinberg, has managed to do something great: with the selection of fonts, colors and a new idea on how the words are composed, he’s achieved the effect is far beyond the IT world. It already belongs to the world of art.

With Wordle it’s even fun. You enter URL address (i.e. of your blog) and get the cloud of the words used most often. You can also paste text – and this is how Wordle can help self-publishing authors. When a writer wants to publish an e-book with places like Feedbooks, Smashwords, and Scribd, you don’t need to know anything about the pre-press processing. In fact, in most cases the only missing part is just a jpeg picture with a catchy cover. And it doesn’t need to be hi-res CMYK file. One screenshot is enough.

Table of Contents

Example

Let me start with the example, let’s say children’s book. For a full control, I go to the “Advanced” tab and place weighted words or phrases there. I insert the marked title, author, subtitle and titles of the stories. Yes, with Wordle you can easily put the content of your book ON the cover.

Weights:
– Book title:700
– Author’s name:400
– Book’s descriptive subtitle: 300
– Story title:200
– Story title:150
– Story title:100

Layout options:
– Color scheme: BlueSugar – white background is always good for children’s books
– Font: Grilled Cheese BTN – this font is fancy enough
– Layout: Mostly Vertical – as Wordle is delivering word clouds in a horizontal window, choose this option and rotate the picture by 90 degrees later on.

The result:

Tips

:. The more words you provide, the better. It could be titles of the stories. It could be tags you usually use to describe the content. It could a title of a book repeated in different sizes. It could be even a pattern of symbols ($, @, *, ®). What you use is up to your imagination. Wordle will do the rest.

:. Instead of playing with advanced options, you can just paste a whole text of your story/novella under “Create” tab. How to make title and author the biggest elements? Just copy and paste them many times, leaving the rest of the text unchanged. Example: one of my stories – Mr Copypaste. Title x40, author x20.

:. Font suggestions:
– non-fiction: Telephoto, Gnuolane Free, Steelfish, League Gothic
– children’s books: Silentina Movie, Loved by the King, Berylium, Grilled Cheese BTN, Mail Ray Stuff
– romance: Sexsmith, Goudy Bookletter 1911, Powell Antique
– science-fiction: Tank Lite, Gunplay

As soon as you start playing with Wordle, I’m sure you get extremely inspired. Wordling a cover for your own book can be as much fun as writing it.

New Zealand Electronic Text Centre now support DAISY format

I found this over on the Daisy Consortium blog:

Nearly all of the publications digitized by the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre are now also available in DAISY format to support the needs of readers with print disabilities.

Thanks to a grant from the Community Partnership Fund, and in collaboration with the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind, the NZETC has generated DAISY books for 1,064 titles in its collection, including a number of required course texts.

To access an e-text in DAISY format, readers can select "DAISY ebook" from the list of "Other Formats" when browsing the NZETC title page. More information is available on the Victoria University of Wellington Library website.