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There has been massive upheaval in the e-reader industry over the course of 2014. Sony abandoned making e-readers for consumers and closed their longstanding digital bookstore. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo all released brand new devices in the United States and most incorporated brand new technology. Over in Europe, things have been getting more progressive with prices coming down and more features that appeal to the serious book reader. Today, we look at the most notable products, technologies and stories from 2014.

In North America the major players have been trying to distinguish themselves from one another. Kobo released the first waterproof e-reader that featured a non-conventional 6.8 inch screen, providing a little bit extra real estate to make reading more enjoyable. The main selling point is you can finally read anywhere, without the hardware being a barrier anymore.

Amazon released the Kindle Basic Touch, a $79 model that serves as a great entry point to the entire Amazon ecosystem and the $199 Kindle Voyage. The Voyage is interesting because in the past, all e-readers either had physical page turn buttons or a touchscreen to turn pages. The Voyage actually approached the keys in an entirely new way, by making them flush with the bezel. They also included an ambient light sensor to automatically change the brightness level and used a new alloy on the back of the reader to prevent fingerprint oil.

The one big advantage of the Voyage e-reader is  not in the hardware, which broke new ground, but the software. Amazon continues to invest a copious amount of time in insuring their overall reading experience is unparalleled. One of the ways they did it in 2014 was the inclusion of Kindle Family Sharing, which allows two parents and four children to be able to share content with one another, even with different Amazon accounts. The Voyage gained the ability to tap into all e-Book content from Kindle Unlimited, which once established on a Kid profile, allows them to download thousands of books for free.  Other enhancements include Wordwise, other books by the author when you open an eBook for the first time and further GoodReads integration.

B&N only released a single device, called the Nook Glowlight. I was honestly very disappointed in this device, it felt really flimsy and had rubber edges that could easily be peeled off. It did have some solid software enhancements over the last few generations of e-readers and its main selling point was the refined illuminating screen, which they actually pioneered a few years ago.

The one thing that dominated the most headlines in 2014 was Sony abandoning making consumer based e-readers and shut down their international bookstore. This company has been making e-readers since 2004 and consistently released high quality devices that built a loyal following. The company found that it was unprofitable to maintain a bookstore due to Amazon dominating the field and hardware sales were languishing, due to a longer upgrade cycle.

Instead of focusing on cheap e-readers, Sony went into the opposite direction and developed a new product that was aimed at schools, businesses and the government. The Sony Digital Paper or DPT-S1 features a giant 13.3 inch screen and uses new lightweight e-paper technology called Mobius. Ironically, despite the large screen,  it actually weights less than your standard six inch e-reader. The main selling point, is that it is a dedicated PDF reader and editor, not an e-Book reader. It was designed  to take notes, make annotations and change documents on the fly better than a tablet.

In order to bring this product to the market, Sony had to establish a few companies to act as evangelists and re-sellers. They selected a few lawfirms and entertainment companies, but found they could not keep an adequate  supply of product to meet the needs of people wanting to buy them in vast quantities. So Sony decided to sell them online themselves and invest in a small call center to field orders. Additionally, they have posted a number of guides, tutorials and firmware updates to keep the Digital Paper supported properly.  By the end of the year, they introduced the product in the retail world in two different locations, for some much needed exposure.

The biggest trend of 2014 was the introduction of Google Android being introduced on e-readers and users having the ability to install their own apps. In the past, the vast majority of companies all ran the Linux operating system, which promoted a stable atmosphere that was not prone to crashing. Some companies, like Barnes and Noble and Sony actually ran Android, but it was a very locked down version. In Europe, companies such as Icarus, Onyx and Pocketbook all introduced e-readers that had a vanilla version of Android and tapped into established app stores such as Google Play and the Good e-Reader App Store. This gave users a high degree of freedom and did not lock them down into any one specific ecosystem. Instead it allows anyone to install whatever e-reading, comic or manga app they want. For the first time you could power on your e-reader and install apps like Dropbox, Pocket, Wattpad, GoodReads and thousands of other apps. It made your e-ink device very relevant in 2014 and was one of those big advancements that made them competitive with Android tablets.

The European e-reader market also saw a dramatic range in screen sizes, which helped boost sales. Many e-Book readers want to read complex PDF documents or just fit more text on the screen at the same time. We saw a few models come out with  8 and 9.7 inch screens.

Many people feel that the e-reader industry as a whole has lost most of its innovative spirit, the vast majority of companies that were around from 2007 to 2011 do not exist or function in a  very diminished capacity. There was some truly interesting e-paper technology that could have changed the world, such as Bridgestone e-paper, Liquavista, LG, Mirasol, Pixel QI, and Plastic Logic. The reason why most of these companies abandoned their tech, was because all of the notable mainstream players are risk adverse.  E-Readers these days normally feature small incremental updates with each generation and simply don’t give users a compelling enough reason to upgrade their devices every year. The price has come down from $399 in 2007 to around $99 today, its hard for small companies to compete or take big risks.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Children are reading in record numbers in the last decade, which has propelled billion dollar properties such as Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Twilight, Hunger Games, Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Not only have these titles done staggering well but it has promoted the success of books with similar subjects and themes and are benefiting from each other’s successes.  Over the course of the last two years John Green and Veronica Roth are the highest-selling authors; juvenile fiction is performing so amazingly that 17 of the 20 overall bestsellers in the US during 2014 were books for children.

Nielsen hosted the first annual Children’s Book Summit in Manhattan and produced research for over a four year period.  They produced research that the children’s book market has increased 44% in the last decade and 67% of teens read for pleasure. Ironically, although tablet adoption has increased exponentially, 50% still prefer print books over eBooks.

Kristen McLean, founder and CEO of Bookigee provided some interesting information on where books are being purchased.  62% of the purchases are taking place at physical bookstores, such as Barnes and Noble.  Juvenile represents 35% of the total physical market over the last 12 months with juvenile fiction largely driving the sales from 2011 to 2014, resulting in “a great variety of publishers seeing positive growth.” Games and activity books as well as crossover products, representing “blockbuster brands bleeding over to nonfiction,” such as Minecraft and Lego, are also raising “very interesting implications.” MacLean suggested that this trend “leads to the rise of lifestyle books in juvenile nonfiction, and popularity of shows like MasterChef Junior.” One surprising find from a study about demographic buying habits showed that 42% of people who purchase children’s nonfiction titles actually have no children: 15% of these buyers purchased the books as gifts, and 27% of them reported buying the books for themselves.

The success of children’s and juvenile fiction has helped Scholastic continue to generate solid revenue. The company reported second quarter 2015 earnings were $665.6 million, compared to $623.2 million a year ago, an increase of 7%. Scholastic affirmed its fiscal 2015 outlook will account for approximately $1.9 billion.

The most exciting trend that this conference produce was there is a strong misconception that youth and young adults spend the majority of their time online, visiting sites such as Facebook and Twitter and not reading. What Nielson found is that they are establishing strong bonds with their friends, which leads to book recommendations being taken very seriously. This has led to a population explosion with Goodreads. Recently, the website reported a record 3.3 million votes cast in the 6th annual Goodreads Choice Award.


Over 300 libraries have closed in the United Kingdom since 2011 and many more are on the brink. What can be done to stem the tide? Publisher and philanthropist William Sieghart may have an answer.

William Sieghart’s Independent Library Report urges “a reinvigoration of the library network”, calling on Westminster to provide funding so local authorities can roll out Wi-Fi to every public library in England as part of a new national digital resource. The provision of Wi-Fi, it says, is essential, with its lack of availability in some libraries creating “a barrier to the public using its facilities, especially amongst the younger generation”.

“By not providing Wi-Fi and high-quality computer facilities, libraries often present a negative image of being old fashioned places that have little relevance in today’s society,” says the report, which calls for the Wi-Fi to be delivered “in a comfortable, retail-standard environment, with the usual amenities of coffee, sofas and toilets”.

Libraries minister Ed Vaizey heeded the call by the report by announcing that he had created a new task force to implement some of the proposed changes. The primary focus will be to evaluate e-lending pilot projects and establish tablets and e-readers to be loaned out to patrons.

This is not the first time that the library industry has gave serious credence to a report made by Sieghart.  His 2013 government funded report said that libraries should not limit the supply of e-books in the same way that physical book loans are controlled, including the lending of each digital copy to one reader at a time, securely removing eBooks after lending and having digital books “deteriorate after a number of loans”.

This prompted a A pilot project to be established at four UK libraries in March 2014 that changed the digital loaning period to 21 days and included an expanded list of digital titles, including front-list and bestsellers.  The goal was to establish real-time, real-world research into the impact of eBook lending in public libraries to placate  authors, publishers and find a sustainable model.

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Overdrive has announced that at the beginning of 2015 they will be implementing a new MP3 audiobook system that will be able to play them in any HTML5 compatible browser. This is tremendously useful for patrons borrowing audio content from the library, because they no longer have to download the audio file or a dedicated app, everything is simply done in the browser.

All major internet browsers for desktop computers, tablets or smartphones all have the ability to render HTML5 content. You don’t need any extra plugins in order to get it to work.

The new audiobook system will be apart of Overdrive Read, which is their HTML5 browser based solution. Currently the system can only read e-Books in EPUB2 or EPUB3 with fixed layouts. It also has support for offline reading, but it is unclear whether you will be able to listen to audiobooks offline, or if needs a constant internet connection for streaming. It is also important to note for existing libraries that your collection of WMV audiobooks are incompatible, it is only going to be available for MP3 files.

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This time of year, everyone is coming out with essential reading lists to hopefully sell you a brand new e-Book for the holiday season! Here at Good e-Reader we simply enjoy the process of reading. This year, plenty of amazing fiction and non-fiction books came out and I take a look at the ones that riveted me the most.

In the video below, I go over by top 5 books of the year, and yes I own the print versions. I find the discovery process of finding a new book much more enjoyable when I leave my comfortable abode and participate in bookstore culture. On a side note, the New York Times just posted an amazing list of books that are my list to read in early 2015, so be sure to check that out.

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The Boeing Black phone has been in development since 2012 and is primarily going to be aimed at military and government officials. The main selling point is that it will self-destruct if tampered with. On Friday, Blackberry CEO John Chen announced that his company will provide critical software to make it even more secure.

The Black phone features dual SIM cards and an expandable back panel for bio-metric scanners and satellite transceivers, the device has a unique tamper-proof covering that will erase data if it’s disassembled. Not much is known about the hardware, but its supposed to cost $20,000 each to manufacture and has high grade encryption for telephone calls and to provide logistics.

On a conference call John Chen proclaimed “We’re pleased to announce that Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform. That, by the way, is all they allow me to say.”

The BlackBerry Enterprise Service is a key part of making the Blackphone secure. It is the Waterloo companies flagship product aimed at the corporate and government sectors. It allow clients to manage and secure not just BlackBerry devices on internal networks, but those that run on rival operating systems such as Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.

We can hardly go a day without hearing about some big hacking scandal. Corporations are regularly attacked by state sponsored data invasions and its hard to have any semblence of privacy anymore. The Black phone is hopefully ushering in a new era where we can finally be secure, for a price.

Categories : Smart Phones
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Parents often find themselves struggling to keep their kids entertained during long commutes and sometimes Netflix for Kids doesn’t cut it. Amazon is trying to really make headway by constantly adding new content to their Kindle Freetime Unlimited program. This week, they have added over 4,000 new e-Books and television shows to their platform.

Kindle Freetime Unlimited is only compatible with Amazons line of devices, which limits its core audience. Fire, Fire TV and Fire phone customers can reap the lions share of media with access to e-Books, enhanced e-books, movies, television shows and apps. The platform also works on the new Kindle Voyage, but is limited to just e-Books. The cost for FreeTime Unlimited is $4.99 per month for one child, $2.99 for Prime subscribers, and $9.99 per month for up to four children, $6.99 with Prime.

Tons of new content was added just in time for the crazy holiday season, when long drives are the norm. Over 4,000 common core books from National Geographic, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Capstone Press, Lerner Publishing, Child’s World, Cherry Lake, Sleeping Bear Press and Starwalk Kids Media was all added this week. Additionally, over 400 age-appropriate apps and games without any in-app purchasing or advertisements.

Finally, thousands of hand-curated movies and TV shows, including iCarly, Avatar and the Legend of Korra from Nickelodeon, Daniel Tigers Neighborhood and Dinosaur Train from PBS, titles from Sesame Street and more are now available.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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If you tend to procrastinate buying gifts to the last minute, Amazon has some fairly good deals to insure your new Kindle e-Reader or Fire Tablet arrives quickly. Amazon is offering free two-day shipping through 4:00 PM PT on Monday, December 22 and free one-day shipping on Tuesday, December 23rd until 12:00 PM PT to all customers, regardless of Prime membership.

Amazon also has a few last minute deals on Amazon devices including:

$20 off Amazon Fire TV (now $79) through 12/28

$25 off Fire HD 7 (now $114) through 12/27

$20 off Kindle (now $59) through 12/27

$20 off Kindle Paperwhite (now $99) through 12/27

30% off 32 and 64 GB Fire HDX 8.9 (starting at $300) for one day only on 12/22

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Starting in January 2015 VAT prices on e-Books will be changing all over Europe. The big change that is occurring is the amount of VAT you will pay will be determinate on the country you live in, instead of the originating country where the content is sold. In the UK for example, the tax will increase from 3% on each Amazon title to 20%. Will this create a boom period of VPN services and will customers be engaging in this type of behavior in order to save a ton of money?

Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo have been avoiding paying high amounts of VAT for years by selling from countries like Luxembourg. This change in EU law is designed to close that specific tax loophole, and provide a level playing-field for everyone.

How much extra will customers be paying now for e-Books? Lets take a brief look at what is happening at Amazon. Each digital title from will be priced for 20% VAT and sales in the Irish Republic will pay VAT at 23%. Sales from will be priced at the German 19% VAT, while sales in Luxembourg will be at 3% VAT. will be charging 21% VAT and will be charging 4% VAT.

Digital readers on average will be paying 17% more for each e-Book they purchase and this has the average e-Book lover really riled up. There are alternatives, so do not fret. If you have never heard of it before, a virtual private network (VPN) allows users to make some small changes to their modem and router. It basically allows you to change your local internet address in your home country, to another. If you live in the UK for example, you can establish a VPN to Luxembourg, and only pay 3% VAT on all of your e-Books.

People using VPN’s to access content not in their geographic area is really nothing new. People have been using it for over a decade in China to bypass the Great Firewall and access the internet. Thousands of Canadians use it on their televisions to access to expanded content from Netflix, Hulu+ or WWE Network. International users are also using VPN addresses in order to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, Scribd and Oyster, which have a limited footprint outside the US.

It is legal to use a VPN to order to save money on purchasing e-Books? Well, pretending to be based in another country is classed as tax avoidance, which is legal under European Law. So fundamentally, many users agree that using a VPN to save on VAT is something they intend on doing.

Will readers be flocking to VPN services within the next few weeks to save money on VAT? That is the question. I know the main reason why people flocked to digital initially was to save money on buying books. The average hardcover new release normally costs $30, whereas the digital variant is often $9.99 to $12.99. Simply, your dollar stretches further when you buy the e-Book version, but in Europe this will all change.

Categories : E-Book News
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Oyster has just signed an e-Book deal with Bloomsbury that will see 1,000 titles added to the US only platform. Some interesting reads include Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

We’re excited to partner with such an incredible publisher to make these titles available to our readers and make our library better than ever.

There are over 500,000 e-Book titles in the Oyster catalog. Readers who pay the monthly subscription fee will not only be able to enjoy Bloomsbury titles but also great content from HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster.

Categories : E-Book News
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Canada is forecasted to be the 5th highest ranked market in 2015 for the adoption of new media technology. This is not only due to the increased ownership of smartphones, tablets and e-readers, but publishers making content that shines on these devices.

The number of mobile phone internet users in Canada continues to increase, projected to reach 23.6 million in 2018. Smartphone adoption in Canada is among the highest in the world at 62% ,behind Spain (66%) and the UK (64%). If you look at tablet ownership, it has only increased from 9% to 21% over the course of 2013 to 2014.

Publishers are starting to realize that if you are targeting English and French speaking Canadians, the smartphone is the primary goal. Among adults ages 18-34 a staggering 83% downloaded or purchased a digital magazine in 2013. Normally these sorts of downloads occur from the Apple Newsstand, Google Play Magazines, or 3rd party apps such as PressReader.

What type of content do Canadians desire? Well for starters, companies that offer back issues tend to fare better. 45% of Canadians prefer to read only the latest magazine, but 55% said they read back issues too. In terms of Genre, the highest performers currently are Travel, Entertainment, Fashion and Cooking/Decorating.

Canada has a population of 35 million people and although not everyone reads magazines tangibly or digitally, its hard to know how many people are actually doing it. The Print Measurement Bureau said in their Fall Report that 2.9 million Canadians are reading digitally on their smartphones and to a lesser degree tablets, which is an increase of over 57% from last year.

If you are interested in lots of statistics, metrics and deep anylsis of the Candian magazine industry, I would recommend the 2014 Fact Book. It shows how digital magazine content has become even more accessible, available and timely, as well as globally inclusive. From email to display ads, audience engagement to retail, the Fact Book confirms that magazines have an impact wherever, whenever and however readers are consuming content.

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Amazon Prime Now is a pilot project in Manhattan and it promises to deliver books and anything else the website sells within two hours. If two hours is too much time, you can pay an extra $7.99 to get it within one hour.

In order to take advantage of the Prime Now program you must subscribe to the $99.99 per year Amazon Prime membership. Amazon has promised that more cities will receive this service in in 2015. Anyone who downloads the mobile app for iOS or Android can receive a notice when the service arrives in their area.

When using the app to order products, Amazon is not reinventing the wheel. If you have ever used the Amazon Shopping app, Prime Now functions the exact same way. You can search for and browse items and then add them to your shopping cart. After you order your item, you can track its delivery. Amazon has confirmed that over 10,000 items are eligible for the Prime Now program.

Amazon is facing increased competition from established players, who have launched new programs. Google has been experimenting with its own delivery service, which in October expanded beyond its early outposts in New York and California to Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C. For same-day service, users of Google Express must pay $95 per year, or $10 per month. Online auction site eBay, has also expressed interest about faster deliveries using their own in-house solution.

Free two hour shipping on 10,000 items is very compelling if you are already an Amazon Prime member. Sadly, the only postal code its delivering to right now is 10001.

Categories : Technology
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Macmillan has announced that they intend on entering the e-Book subscription model business, in an attempt to broaden its distribution channels. CEO John Sargent mentioned that the primary reason they are engaging in the whole Netflix for eBooks concept is because Amazon accounts for 64% of all Macmillan digital sales, and this must change.

Sargent outlined Macmillan’s plans for the future to his stable of authors, illustrators, and Agents “In our search for new routes to market, we have been considering alternative business models including the subscription model. Many of you know that we have long been opposed to subscription. We have always worried that it will erode the perceived value of your books. Though this significant long-term risk remains, we have decided to test subscription in the coming weeks. Several companies offer “pay per read” plans that offer favorable economic terms. We plan to try subscription with backlist books, and mostly with titles that are not well represented at bricks and mortar retail stores. Our job has always been to provide you with the broadest possible distribution, and given the current financial and strategic incentives being offered, we believe the time is right to try this test.”

It is very likely in the next few weeks we will hear about Macmillan signing an e-Book distribution deal with Oyster and Scribd. These are two companies not affiliated with Amazon and engage in the pay per read model, which is what Macmillan is looking for.

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