Michael Kozlowski

Michael Kozlowski



Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about electronic readers and technology for the last four years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the Huffington Post, CNET and more. Michael frequently travels to international events such as IFA, Computex, CES, Book Expo and a myriad of others. If you have any questions about any of his articles, please send an email to michael@goodereader.com


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World War Z, by Max Brooks had an all-star cast loaning out their voices for the audiobook that came out at the same time as the movie. No audiobook in history has had as many voices chronicling the zombie apocalypse, until now.  The Legend of Drizzt will be hitting Audible very soon and a slew of actors will be contributing their own voices to the tale of our favorite Dark Elf.

The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories features twelve novels in the collection about the iconic Dungeons & Dragons dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden.Each one is narrated by a different actor; the eclectic group of performers includes Sean Astin, Michael Chiklis, Felicia Day, David Duchovny, Tom Felton, Greg Grunberg, Dan Harmon, Ice-T, Danny Pudi, Melissa Rauch, Wil Wheaton and Al Yankovic.

The production is part of a partnership between Audible and Dungeons & Dragons publisher Wizards of the Coast, through which Salvatore’s entire Drizzt catalog will be recorded in audio. Salvatore’s first published novel, The Crystal Shard, introduced the world to the dark elf Drizzt; since then, his books have sold more than 15 million copies in the U.S. and have been translated into 14 languages.

So what is the deal with Drizzt? He is a Dark Elf that has a moral code, amidst a matriarchal civilization that promotes backstabbing and treachery. Instead of resigning himself to this life, he transcends the Underdark to the Surface world. Many adventures ensue, and some of the most notable characters from the Forgotten Realms game setting make appearances.


Categories : Audiobooks
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Amazon is hoping to steal a bit of the limelight off of the brand new Samsung Galaxy 4 Nook tablet by offering a $20.00 discount on the second generation Kindle Paperwhite. Starting today, the main Amazon website is discounting the WIFI only version to $139 and the 3G model for $189.

Within the next month it is believed that Amazon will be releasing two new e-readers and three new tablets They are intending on refreshing their entire hardware lineup with new technology. The discount to the Paperwhite serves to give an incentive to people on the fence about going over to Barnes and Noble.

Since the Paperwhite 2 originally came out, it has received a number of firmware updates and hardware enhancements. Some of the more notable software features include the social book discovery site, GoodReads and a more stable PDF experience with a new preview window. On the hardware front, customers in the UK and Canada are seeing an increased amount of Kindle Storage, from 4GB to 8GB.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Barnes and Noble has just launched a brand new tablet in conjunction with Samsung. It costs $179 with a $20 mail in rebate, but the bookseller is hyping the fact you get an extra $200 worth of free content. What free stuff are they actually giving out?

When you pick up a new Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook you get three free eBooks. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, The Wanderer by Sharon Creech and I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.

Customers can also pick 4 digital magazines from a pool of 12 for a free two week trial. There is a ton of great content, including Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated, and US Weekly. Back issues are also available for your selected magazines at no extra cost.

Nook Video is giving free content to the hit HBO Series Veep, Hannibal, and Orphan Black.

New Barnes and Noble customers are also automatically given $5.00 in free credit when they buy the new tablet, giving them the ability to either get an eBook for free or use the money to subsidize a new mainstream bestseller.

Barnes and Noble is really hyping the free content as a way to lure existing customers to upgrade and offer a big incentive to new people looking for a tablet billed as an e-reader.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Barnes and Noble has unveiled a brand new seven inch tablet called Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook. This is the first time the bookseller has outsourced the design to another company and instead focused on user experience. CEO Mike Husebey said “This is an exciting and truly historic day for us at Barnes and Noble.”

The new Samsung Galaxy Tab for Nook features a seven inch display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 Pixels and 216 ppi. This is a bit of a downgrade in the resolution department, the Nook HD had 1440 X 900 resolution.

Underneath the hood is a Quad-core 1.2 GHz and 1.5GB of RAM. It has 8B of internal memory and an MicroSD port for an extra 32GB. Unlike prior Nook tablets, this one has two cameras, which will insure apps like Vine and Snapchat will be relevant. It has a 3 MP rear facing camera and a 1 MP edition on the front. It is lighter and thinner than any previous color NOOK device at 9.74 ounces and .35 inches.

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The new Nook Tablet is running the most current version of Android 4.4 Kitkat. It does not feature the same TouchWiz UI that most Samsung tablets rock, instead Barnes and Noble has created their own custom UI. It also has access to Google Play, which will insure that hundreds of thousands of apps are available to download, no matter what country you live in.

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Barnes and Noble has designed the UI to focus primarily on readers. The ecosystem currently offers over 3 million books, comics, magazines and kids books. When it comes to your library,  managing content it is broken up into video, books and magazines.

During the unveiling event in New York, Barnes and Noble trumpeted the fact that many people prefer to use their tablets for e-reading, instead of playing games or watching videos.

– Over three-quarters (77 percent) of U.S. adult respondents to a recent online study conducted by Harris Poll for Barnes & Noble agree with the statement that “Reading has always been an important part of my life.”

- Over two-thirds (67 percent) say reading puts them in a better mood.

- Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults state their reading habits have increased over the past three years, and nearly half, over two in five (44 percent), attribute access to an eReader, tablet or smartphone as the reason.

- Tablets have not only changed our reading habits, but what it even means to read – personal email (96 percent) is now the number-one item read, followed by social media (67 percent); Web sites, online articles or blogs (73 percent); work-related materials (46 percent); eBooks (31 percent); and digital magazines or newspapers (40 percent).

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK is available starting today at over 660 Barnes and Noble stores in the US. It is retailing for $179, which is actually cheaper than the Samsung exclusive device which is $199. We will be getting our hands on this in the next few days, for a comprehensive hands on review and a ton of comparisons against the previous generation Nook HD tablet and also other e-reading first devices from Amazon and Kobo.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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icarus illumina and kobo aura

Welcome to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today we take a look at the brand new Icarus Illumina second generation and the Kobo Aura.

The premise of this comparison is to take a look at ePub eBooks and PDF documents. Both of these devices handle these formats in completely different ways. The Kobo Aura does a splendid job in handling PDF files, with their preview window pane and ability to pinch and zoom. The Icarus really stutters with large PDF files, but does have a neat ability to increase the darkness of an image, but manually adjusting the gray scale.


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The Microsoft Surface Pro Windows 8 is currently in the third generation and has some revisements with the way the digital pen works. Cased in aluminum, Surface Pen looks and feels more like a fountain pen than a traditional stylus for a natural writing experience. Today, we look at how the Pen is able to handle drawing via Onenote.

Microsoft Onenote for Windows 8 allows users to write documents from scratch and save them to their Skydrive accounts. Whenever you click the top of the Stylus, it automatically opens Onenote. In the video below, we give you a quick overview of the day to day tasks that can be accomplished in OneNote and give you an in-depth look at the stylus.


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Amazon WhisperSync for Voice is a system that includes immersion reading and was designed to pick up where you left off in an eBook in the audio edition. It also allows you to both listen to the audiobook, while reading the eBook and text is highlighted as the words are spoken aloud. The service has just rolled out in the United Kingdom and 25,000 Kindle books and 25,000 audiobooks are supported.

Audible founder and CEO Donald Katz said: “We hear from many Kindle and Audible customers in the US that Whispersync for Voice has profoundly changed the way they read. In fact, switching back and forth between reading and listening has become their preferred way of experiencing stories. We are thrilled to be able to open this up to UK listeners and readers for the first time.”

Jorrit Van der Meulen, VP of Amazon Kindle Europe, said: “We’re working hard to help customers find more moments each day to enjoy a great book

I think WhisperSync for Voice is one of the those programs that never caught on in a big way, but people who enjoy the audiobook experience can get more synergy with the digital book edition. I know many people who read the book at night and then listen to the audiobook on the way to work or walking the dog. Its fairly cool to have both mediums synced whether you are using the iOS or Android apps, or using hardware like the Kindle Fire.

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Online magazine and eBook publishing company Blurb has been busy of late. They have just a signed a new global retail distribution partnership with Ingram Content Group, and free output to reflowable ebooks for all Amazon Kindle devices and Kindle readers.

Blurb now has the broadest self-publishing platform available, enabling indie authors to publish books, magazines, and ebooks in multiple formats, and then sell direct on Blurb.com or via distribution programs with Amazon and Ingram. There is not too many self-publishing companies that are heavily invested in the magazine space, other than Glossi, who is entirely online.

“Authors, like artists, want two things: Control over their product and process, and fair compensation for their quality work,” said Eileen Gittins, founder and CEO, Blurb. “The elements are now all here for indie authors to design, market and sell their books – at a healthy margin – via global distribution to booksellers both online and at retail. We’re thrilled to deliver a truly complete offering for creatives of all kinds who want to bring their passions to life. Authors can now make the beautiful books Blurb is known for at more competitive prices.”

Ingram is likely the biggest deal for Blurb others, because it gets their books physically printed in over 39,000 locations.  Here is some info the company provided to us on options for indie authors.

“Blurb’s new Trade Books come in three industry-standard trim sizes:  5×8, 6×9, and 8×10, in uncoated text-weight paper.

Trade Books are available in both hardcover and softcover, and all formats are eligible for global distribution through Ingram, giving Blurb authors a much broader target audience.

Authors have two print options: Economy and Standard. Economy printing offers a lower print-on-demand starting price ($3.99 for color, $2.99 for black and white), while Standard printing features a wider color range and rich blacks, comparable to Blurb’s existing trade and pocket book printing.”

 

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Microsoft has released a new magnetic keyboard for the Surface Pro 3. It is part keyboard, part protective cover and part mouse.  The Microsoft Surface Pro Type Cover provides a very laptop-like experience for the new flagship Windows 8 tablet and offers a level of productive capability that most tablets can’t match.

During this unboxing video we show you everything that comes with the keyboard and give you a sense on how this is different from prior Surface offerings.


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Aug
19

Icarus Illumina E653 Review

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Icarus has redefined what an e-reader is capable of with the advent of the Illumina E653. It comes bundled with Android 4.2, which gives users the flexibility to install their own eBook, magazine, newspaper or manga apps. How does this reader compare to the Kindle Paperwhite, Nook Glowlight or Kobo Auras of the world? Today, we give  you a comprehensive  hands on review of what this new e-reader is all about.

Hardware

The Illumina E653 features a six inch e-Ink touch screen display with a resolution of 1024×758 pixels. This reader does trumpet the fact it has a capacitive touch screen, but it honestly feels like it is employing older Neonode IR technology. None of the stock apps have any sort of  support for pinching and zooming.

Icarus has maintained a front-lit display, that allows you to customize the brightness of the screen and read it in the dark. There are five LED lights at the very bottom of the screen and splash upwards. We noticed from the nighttime reading tests that you actually see a bit of light spillage at the very bottom of the screen. It does not totally break immersion, but the light on the Kindle Paperwhite 2 is far superior.

There has been some design changes from the Illumina HD and the new E653. The current model has done away with the 3.5mm headphone jack, so listening to music and audiobooks are obviously out of the question. They also removed the D-Pad on the bottom and the screen and also the physical  home, refresh, and settings buttons. The only buttons present on the Illumina are physical page turn keys on the left/right hand side of the screen, back button and the physical button that turns on the front-lit display.

There is 4GB of internal storage to house of all of your apps and eBooks. If this is not enough for your literary needs, there is support for a 32GB MicroSD card. You should get some solid battery life with the 2000 mAh, which is good for 4,000 page turns, or about 1 month of constant use.

I feel like Icarus has done a fairly good job with the intuitive design of the second generation Illumina. It feels more modern, although I would have liked to see the screen flush with the bezel like the quintessential smartphone or tablet.

Software

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The main selling point behind the E653 is the open nature of Android 4.2. Many e-readers by Sony or Barnes and Noble use Android, but they use a very locked down version and are both heavily skinned. They certainly don’t allow  you to install your own apps or give you an interface that is similar to anything that LG or Samsung provide.

The Icarus home screen is  one of the only things on this e-reader that is modified from the stock experience. It shows you the books you have recently read or have added to it via the Microusb port. There is no built in ecosystem to purchase content, so you will not be inundated by book discovery or anyone trying to shill you new content.

When you hit the Settings or Apps buttons things tend to look more like a your atypical vanilla Android smartphone. There are a number of preinstalled apps for you to use right out of the box such as Aldiko, Dropbox, gReader, Kobo, Opera Mini and Amazon Kindle. Sadly though, there is no built in App Store for you to install new content. This will put  a reliance on Icarus owners being savvy enough to load in the Good e-Reader App Store or APK files from the internet.  It is important to note that due to the home screen being modified to be more e-reader centric you cannot set up widgets or wallpapers.

The last thing I wanted to mention is that you can’t drag down your finger downwards from the upper top menu to see your clock and notifications. Instead, its on the bottom right hand corner and you have to click on the clock to see the notifications.  You will see apps you downloaded, incoming emails and other critical updates like a WIFI hotspot.

The one thing I really like is the stock keyboard, and its not too often that you hear about it during a review.  It uses the stock Android one and it is actually possible to change it with alternative apps, for further customization. You get a full QWERTY keyboard by default and the keys are placed perfectly apart. The Kobo Aura e-Reader has keys that are placed on top of each other, whereas the Icarus has a true Android keyboard. I dig when you are searching the internet or entering forms and the .com button appears under the enter key, which cuts down on the time entering your email address.

In the end, the Android experience on the Icarus feels more tighter than the Onyx Boox T68. It also is more robust than the only other e-reader currently available that allows you to install apps. Overall, this reader will appeal to anyone looking for more control over their favorite ecosystem, without being locked into anyone in particular.

e-reading experience

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Icarus has an e-reading app that is integrated into the home screen and allows you to read PDF, FB2, EPUB, RTF, MOBI, TXT, HTM files. I have to say ePub books look really great, but the drawback is with PDF files.

When you read a traditional ePub book, such as one of the 37 that come preloaded on the reader, you get a solid experience. The first thing you notice is there is no page turn refresh issues plaguing you every single page you turn. Instead it only occurs every six pages, so it does not constantly break immersion.

If you want to change the font size, line space, margins or font type, you simply have to hold your finger in the middle of the screen. You get 4 icons that appear on the very bottom and it is not immediately clear on what they do. It is important to explore them all to find out what they do.

Advanced users will like the fact there is 56 preloaded fonts to select from, which is the highest number I have ever seen on a reader. I found the fact it as an Android Emoji option, and thought the book would be the equivalent of Wingdings, except for thousands of different smiling faces, but this was sadly not the case, the text basically just looked like a series of text messages.

The one drawback on the Icarus is with reading PDF files. There is no way to pinch and zoom to isolate a particular part of the document.  Instead there are two viewing panes to choose from, the default or extreme zoomed. Once its zoomed you can drag your finger around the screen to find the ideal body of text, but you can’t turn pages in this manner.

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The one thing that was very unique about looking at PDFS was the ability to actually alter the e-ink display. There is an option exclusive to PDF files that allow  you to physically change the amount of greyscale and black levels. For example, we were looking at the Dungeons and Dragons Monsters Manual and one character looked very clean, I adjusted the blackness levels and suddenly you saw many different shades on his legs, chest and arms. Very cool!

In addition with PDF files, you get the same type of reflow options of text that is much akin to the way the Sony rendering engine performed. You can strip away all of the custom styling sheets and extract pure text.

When it comes right down to it, the Illumina gives you freedom. The Kindle locks you into Amazon,  Nook makes it difficult to access anything but the Barnes and Noble bookstore and Kobo is the same. It is possible to load in your OWN books, but it is difficult for your average user. Icarus gives you the option to do business with whatever ecosystem you want or the ability to download 3rd party indie readers such as Moon+ Reader, Aldiko or Manga Plyus.

Should you buy this?

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Is the Icarus Illumina E653 worth the 139 euro cover price? It does a better job than Onyx T68,  in handling Android app.  The default e-reading app is also superior and you can easily get by with this, whereas the Onyx one was utterly deplorable.

This e-reader is viable for anyone that wants a true Android experience on their e-reader and does not want to go through the technical rigamarole of rooting a mainstream one. It is completely viable to install your favorite reading apps, whether its a RSS Reader or comic book reader. One important note, any app that requires page turn animations often provide a lackluster experience. This is prompting Good e-Reader to test as many apps as possible and make a dedicated e-ink section on our app store.

PROS

Android 4.2
Great keyboard
The ability to install your own apps
Solid stock e-reading app with innovative features

CONS

Front-light has a bit of light spillage on the bottom of the screen
No ability to customize zoom levels on PDF files
Does not have an app store loaded on it (but we heard it will soon)

Rating: 8.5/10


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The seminal J.K. Rowling Pottermore website is more than just an eBook store to sell the entire series of Harry Potter eBooks, but also acts as an interactive game and a wellspring of original content. Today, a new 500-word entry about Celestina, who is sometimes known as the “singing sorceress,” provides never-before-known facts about this obscure character whom readers never “meet” in the Harry Potter series although she is mentioned several times and is Molly Weasley’s favourite singer.

Pottermore.com also posted today the audio track of one of Celestina’s songs, “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart.” The song is a recording by Universal Orlando Resort featuring Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees who perform live every day at the brand-new, spectacularly themed environment, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart” is the first song ever posted on pottermore.com.

The new writing by J.K. Rowling offers colourful new details about Celestina’s early years, career highlights and tumultuous personal life. Rowling calls Celestina “one of my favourite ‘off-stage’ characters in the whole series”. Rowling also reveals that she “stole” Celestina’s first name from a colleague at Amnesty International’s Headquarters in London where she once worked. The story has been posted today because August 18 is Celestina’s birthday, a fact which is revealed for the first time in this new writing. Both the audio track and the new writing can be found in the ‘Floo Powder’ Moment in Chapter 4 of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on pottermore.com (new users will need to register).

Celestina is referenced in three of the Harry Potter books. The first mention is in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) when Harry hears her name on the Wizarding Wireless Network (wizard radio) while visiting the Weasley home. She’s referenced again in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) when she appears on a wizarding radio Christmas broadcast and once more in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7). In the charity companion book by J.K. Rowling, “Quidditch Through the Ages”, Celestina is credited with recording Puddlemere United’s team anthem “Beat Back Those Bludgers, Boys, and Chuck That Quaffle Here” – another of the four songs featured in the singing sorceress’s live show at Universal Orlando Resort.

Categories : E-Book News
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textbooks

Google has announced that their digital textbook service is now available in Canada. Students will be able to rent or purchase content just in time for the back to school season in September.

Google Textbooks offers a wide array of content from well-known publishers like Pearson, Wiley, Macmillan Higher Education, Random House, McGraw-Hill and Cengage Learning.

The textbook library is stored in the cloud and books can be accessed from any smartphone or tablet that runs Android or iOS. For students who only need a textbook for a semester or two, there is the option to rent textbooks for six months, saving up to 80% compared to buying print textbooks. You can download your notes and highlights anytime, even after your rental period ends.

Just like on other textbook platforms, you “search within a textbook for a particular word or phrase, bookmark chapters and pages, highlight and annotate key passages and get quick access to dictionaries, translation tools, Wikipedia and Google search.”

Categories : Digital Education
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Flipboard is changing the way we consume and interact with news stories from all over the world. The company allows users to aggregate social feeds into a digital magazine. These magazines can be individual or shared with the wider community. Flipboard has started to hit critical mass with its 100 million registered users and 10 million digital magazines created by approximately 7 million people.

Launched in 2010, Flipboard was designed to be the world’s first social magazine for the iPad, allowing users to create their own personal magazines by pulling in updates from Facebook and Twitter. They could also follow specific news sources and websites like Good e-Reader or Techcrunch. There was also an ability to key in your feeds, and read any online publication with a valid RSS Feed. Publishers soon caught on, with newspapers and magazines allowing Flipboard to access content from their social media stream and own websites.

On Wednesday night, during a fireside chat with ReadWrite  Flipboard  CEO Mike McCue revealed that video ads will be coming to its magazines, and Chanel will be one of the first brands with a reel. “The world of TV, and the world of print, these worlds are merging,” he said. “We’re moving towards this … world where content can be atomized and reconstructed around interests or topics that someone’s really passionate about.”

Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo are all working towards video advertising platforms because they represent the next generation of revenue. Existing websites are often monetized by banner and skyscraper ads and they are crowding up web pages, publishers keep adding more and more stuff on the page. “The problem on the Web is that if you take a look at a website, the content is surrounded by all kinds of stuff, if you could turn off those banner ads, you would.” said McCue.

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