Archive for Best of Good e-Reader
With the way things have gone in 2013 in the e-reader and tablet sector, some people may be optimistic about the future. I for one, am not. Endeavoring to capitalize on the quintessential Top 5 gravy train, I am looking ahead at 2014 to see what the future may hold for us. Things don’t look good.
E Ink Diversifies away from e-Readers
E Ink is responsible for 85% of all screen technology found in all of the e-readers that are popular today. Kindle, Nook, Kobo and many others employ it. The company has been in trouble for the last 1.5 years as every quarter they are basically losing money. The e-Reader industry is on the decline in North America and the UK. Sales are down across the board and the one saving grace has been aggressive international expansion on Amazon and Kobo’s part.
E Ink has slowly started to gravitate away from e-reader tech and instead is using their technology in digital signage. It currently only makes up 6% of their total cash flow, but in 2014 they will double this figure and expand into new markets.
Barnes and Noble Suspends e-Reader Development
Barnes and Noble has been flip-flopping all year long on whether or not they would stay in the hardware game, or if they would abandon it altogether. The company is heavily invested in full color content, such as Magazines, College Newspapers, Apps and other content not indicative shining on an E Ink device.
The Barnes and Noble Nook Glowlight is their second generation device featuring front-lit technology to allow customers to read in the dark. They actually pioneered this whole glowlight revolution that almost every other company has emulated. The problem, is their e-readers don’t do well sales wise. Each iteration does less than the one prior. The trouble is most e-reader owners are not upgrading their device whenever a new model hits the market. Unlike smartphone owners, there is no monetary incentive to upgrade.
In 2014 Barnes and Noble will completely abandon the e-reader sector and only release two new tablets. They are making more money on digital content sales and Microsoft is helping them offer their wellspring of content on a global stage with deep Windows 8 integration
Reading on Tablets will decline in 2014
Over the course of 2012 and 2013 tablet sales have been steadily increasing with 45.2 million units being shipped out in Q1 2013 alone. The growth may stymied as Taiwan manufacturers are shifting away from tablet production and making more smartphones.
In 2014 242.72 million smartphone touch panels and 51.81 million tablet touch panels will be produced. This increases the smartphone production segment by 11.7% and decreases the tablet market by a whopping 29.4%.
So we will obviously see less tablets being made in 2014, as the market is overly saturated. We will start to see more smartphone readers, as the segment is growing at a rapid pace. 75% of all Canadians have a smartphone and 65% of the US does, these things never leave our pockets. It will be the mobile reader of choice going forward.
eBooks will Decline in 2014
Over the course of the holiday season eBook sales have tapered off and there is a renewed vigor to purchase hardcovers and paperbacks. It is next to impossible to gift eBooks, as most of them are tied into very specific ecosystems and the whole eBook Giftcard revolution has failed to takeoff. The Association of American Publishers, which collects monthly data from about 1,200 publishers, said last month that eBook sales had been flat or in decline for most of 2013. In August, eBook sales were approximately $128 million, a 3% decline from August 2012.
In 2014 eBooks will begin their inevitable decline and readers will once again be populating their local bookstore. “I don’t know if it’s a saturation point with digital,” Len Vlahos, the executive director of the Book Industry Study Group, said in a recent interview. “But all the data we see suggests that we’ve hit a state of equilibrium. The trend lines have flattened out. Three years ago, it was a nascent market, but now it looks like a maturing market.”
To me? It looks like the novelty of buying eBooks has worn off with the vast majority of casual readers. I know hundreds from message boards who all said, they have so many books on their e-reader, that they are completely overwhelmed and likely will never have to buy an eBook again. Also, something has to be said about bookstores being used for after-hour parties in New York or late night events.
Sony Abandons Consumer e-Readers
Before Sony got into the smartphone sector in a big way, they were all about e-readers. Over the course of 2007 to 2010 the company tended to release three different models every year and rode the wave of e-readers as they gained headlines all over the world. For the last three years they have only released a single reader and even suspended marketing them to the USA a few months ago. In 2011, Sony accounted for 28% of all e-readers sold in Canada. In 2012, its presence diminished to 18% and in the first quarter of 2013 dropped down to 12%.
Sony is focusing on tablets and a more multimedia based experience to sell their devices. They continue to own and operate their Sony Reader Store in Canada, and Europe, but most of the sales stem from tablets. It seems they are getting out of e-readers all together after the dismal sales of Sony PRS-T3. All signs in the retail sphere are pointing to the device that has sold the least amount of units since the il-fated PRS-950. The only e-reader they will release is their 13.3 inch device, but it is not being aimed at customers. Instead, its in Japan right now and aimed strictly at schools and will likely make it to the USA, but only available to be purchased by established businesses.
Good e-Reader is proud to introduce the only dedicated Android App Store for Kids! This is a standalone Android App that you can install on your smartphone or tablet. We feature thousands of games, art, ebooks, and educational content that is geared specifically for children. This app is perfect for kids ages 1-10 and parents who want a safe place to grab great new stuff.
The Good e-Reader Kids APP store has been a project six months in development and has around a thousand quality, curated apps. Our editing team has been making sure that all of our content abides by the highest of standards.
Currently we have seven different categories for kids apps, which makes content discovery easier than ever. You can browse our latest apps, new apps, and top apps, right from the main screen. Kids can rate apps and leave comments about their favorite ones. We also invested a lot into the search function, which makes finding great content intuitive.
Amazon has not officially announced anything yet, but it is now confirmed that they have added Amazon.ca to its list of supported countries for Kindle Direct Publishing program. This now gives self-published authors the ability to market and monetize their content in Canada. Any author that logs into KDP dashboard will now see a drop-down menu with Amazon.ca listed.
We caught up with one author this morning that said “I was very pleased to find the Amazon Brazil store on my dashboard this week, meaning my books are available in Latin America now. But I was especially surprised to find the Amazon.ca (Canada) store on my KDP sales dashboard this morning. I immediately went to the Amazon.ca website and
have not found my ebooks available there yet, so it might be that they are adding the titles as soon as they can, given that my books are available on the other Amazon international platforms. This is very exciting, as there is a whole customer base of readers who will now be able to access titles from indie authors.”
UPDATE: As of this morning, the author’s ebook titles have now been added to the Amazon.ca website and are available.
This new unveiling comes a few minutes after Amazon officially added Canada to the list of supported countries for Kindle Publishing for Blogs. Right now Canadians can add their Province and Country via their account management tools. The only method of payment is checks, the direct deposit information still warrants a USA address, but this may change soon. Only a few days ago the UK and USA were the only two countries that were able to charge subscription fees for their blogs to be Kindle friendly.
Digital Books and e-Readers have gained a massive amount of traction in 2012. Major publishers have reported 20% of all book sales stem from digital and many are seeing 300% increases from 2011. e-Reader technology has really been refined this year and they units themselves are very affordable.
During the holiday season many people are thinking about purchasing a dedicated e-ink device from themselves or a loved one. In other cases you may be attracted to a tablet being billed as an eBook reader, and want more multimedia functionality.
Many people send us emails, Tweet, or comment on our Youtube channel on our advice of the best devices currently on the market that they can purchase for a gift. Today we will give you our best choices for dedicated e-readers and tablets
Amazon has introduced touchscreen technology into its extensive Kindle portfolio in 2011, with the Touch. This year the company expanded upon their offerings and debuted a new e-reader that lets you read in the dark. The Kindle Paperwhite only came out a month ago and already is seeing unparelled success. It is in such high demand that Amazon has completely sold out and there won’t be any available until the end of December.
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite features a six inch e-ink Pearl display with tremendous resolution. You are looking at a very solid 1024×768, which is on par with the Kobo Glo, in terms of text looking very crisp. It runs on a 800 MHZ CPU processor and has 512 MB of RAM. The Kindle is currently the e-reader to beat in terms of ecosystem and price. If you can get your hands on one, this is the best e-reader of 2012.
Kobo really grew up in 2012 and has spread their eBook store through Europe, South America and Japan. Quite recently the company debuted their Kobo Mini, Kobo Glo and Kobo Arc. These devices reflect a paradigm shift in their prior offerings, which were often woefully slow and prone to problems.
With the advent of the Kobo Glo, the company has introduced one of the best dedicated readers on the market. It has much wider visibility then many of its competitors, due to a wider distribution pipeline. Digital Books can be purchased from anywhere in the world and they currently offer 3.6 million of them.
The Kobo Glo employs a new type of e-Ink Pearl XGA technology to give you a superior resolution. The exact pixel count is 1024 x 758 and pictures look simply amazing when viewing complex PDF documents. Underneath the hood is a 1 GHZ Freescale processor, which amps things up from the 800 MHZ processor found in the Kobo Touch. Menu navigation and accessing settings is fairly quick. Firmware updates are automatically fetched from the servers, ensuring you always are running the most recent version.
Sony has severely cut back on its e-reader lineup and only released one new device in 2012. The company was once a mighty juggernaut in the industry and has since lost market share to its competitors.
Sony scored a big win with the Sony PRS-T2, that allows customers to purchase books right from the Sony Store. One of the most exciting elements of this device is the dedicated Overdrive App. This allows customers to access their libraries digital catelog of books and borrow them right to your Sony. The T2 also comes with a Stylus, which is handy for note taking, drawing and editing eTextbooks.
The Sony PRS-T2 features a six inch e-Ink Pearl display with a resolution of 800×600 pixels. You get the standard 16 levels of greyscale and everything from books to photos look clean and crisp. If you have ever used the Kindle Touch, Kobo Touch or Nook Simple Touch, the Sony model has the same IR display. This allows for pin-point-procession when you are interacting with the display screen with the accompanied stylus or with your fingers. There is 2 GB of internal memory and you can easily expand it up to 32 GB via the MicroSD.
Sony currently leads the pack with the ability to render complex PDF documents. The support the company provides in being able to find that sweet spot with newspapers, textbooks, manuals and gaming content is unparalleled. Recently the company started a new Book Club, which features a mainstream author every month and engages the community on Facebook. There is also Evernote integration for those who like that sort of thing.
Wexler is a new company from Russia that introduced the world’s first e-reader to use LG’s new flexible e-paper. The big selling point is that the screen bends! You can pull and tug it and it does not break! Obviously, you can’t roll it up and carry it around, but it does have a enough degrees of torque, that you can have some fun twisting it around. The one huge benefit of this is being able to put it in your jeans back pocket and it conforms to you while you are walking or even sitting down.
The Wexler Flex One is a six inch e-reader and uses LG’s Electronic Paper Display (EPD) technology. The resolution on this device is currently the best in the world on a monochrome e-reader with 1024 x 768 pixels. There are 8 GB of internal storage, which beats the Kindle and Nook in the sheer amount of memory you have to store your books, comics, and PDF files.
When we first reviewed this, I thought this would totally be a gimmick and that it wouldn’t serve a practical purpose. This e-reader really surprised me with the lack of weight and extreme portability factor. There is a wide array of supported book formats including: It reads a wide array of formats such as PDF/DOC/CHM/HTM/HTML/EPUB/FB2/DJVU. Currently you can only buy this in Europe and North America via Shop e-Readers.
The Icarus Excel is one of the best 9.7 e-readers we have ever reviewed. Many companies such as Pocketbook, Sony and Amazon have abandoned the large screen market, in favor of smaller devices. There is still a loyal and dedicated niche market that is always willing to take a gamble on a Jetbook Color or other large screen device. Out of the current generation of large screen displays, this one is simply the best.
The Icarus Excel features a 9.7 e-ink Pearl display with a resolution of 1280×825 pixels and 167 DPI. It has a full touchscreen display, but only responds to the accompanied stylus. Underneath the hood lurks a solid 800 MHZ Freescale CPU processor and it has 256 MB of Ram. Storage gives you 4 GB to play around with and can be expanded up to 32 GB via the SD Card.
Bar none, this e-reader is the best we have ever reviewed for PDF functionality and should be the one you select if you are a student or someone who has very image-heavy books. The best feature is the ability to highlight passages of text and export them to physical TXT files. You can then access them via Windows Explorer and copy them right to your PC. When you highlight text, you can save the text to an independent file, so you can compile a ton of study notes and have them handy for easy reference.
Some people want to forgo a dedicated e-ink device and go with a tablet that is optimized for reading. This insures that when you grow tired of your literary adventures you can play a quick game of Angry Birds Star Wars or watch a video. The Kindle Fire HD 7 is the first tablet in the world to feature 4 speakers and Dolby Surround Sound. It is the best sounding tablet for music, videos and audiobooks in the world.
The Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 features a seven inch IPS display with 1,280 x 800 pixels. It offers an amazing viewing experience and the ability to watch 720p movies right on the unit. Underneath the hood is a 1.2GHz dual-core TI OMAP4460 processor and 1 GB of RAM, which makes accessing media, books, and other content very fast and easy. It also has a Micro HDMI to stream content directly to your television.
The Kobo Vox was nothing to write home about, but was a prelude of things to come in the companies apps and followup device. The ARC is currently one of best tablets on the market and still allows you to load in your own apps and get new ones, thanks to Google Play. The Arc is the only dedicated e-reader that is software agnostic and encourages users to download new content and not exclusively do business with them. Barnes and Noble and Amazon do a solid job at locking you into their ecosystems.
The Kobo Arc features a seven inch HD display with a resolution of 1280×800 pixels and 215 PPI. The screen features IPS screen technology, which is an industry-leading display optimized for 178 degree viewing angles and ultra-durable glass, resistant to damage, scratches, bumps, and drops. This is the same type of screen technology that airline pilots have in their flight instruments. Underneath the hood is a Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 1.5 GHZ dual core processor and 1 GB of RAM. There are three different storage options depending on the type of user you are—16, 32, and 64 GB. This is the first device the company has offered that actually does not have expandable memory. There is no support for MicroSD or SD cards, so you want to make sure you buy the best model to suit your needs.
The Nook HD has only recently launched and outperforms the Nook Tablet and Nook Color in every single way. Not only does the screen have higher resolution but also gives you access to Television and Movies, by major studios. It also gives you the ability to assemble a scrapbook of magazine articles and converts it all to a singular magazine. You can then export it and show it off to your friends. Articleview makes newspapers, magazines and the internet convert complex style sheets to easy to read virtual eBooks.
The Barnes and Noble HD lives up to its name with a seven inch IPS capactive touchscreen display and a resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels. This is the highest resolution tablet the company has ever released. Underneath the hood sits a TI OMAP 4470 1.3GHz dual-core CPU processor and 1GB of RAM. Memory wise, there is a 8 GB and 16 GB models, depending on your needs. Barnes and Noble is fairly consistent with giving customers expandable memory via the Micro SD. You can get it going to almost 64 GB of added storage, which would be perfect for your media.
The sound quality in the Nook HD is the best it has ever been! You have stereo speakers on the back of the unit, which certainly gives you a tremendous boost in audio. We have heard rumors that SRS True Media will be introduced in a future firmware update, which should enhance the sound even further.
The Microsoft Surface tablet has been getting a ton of attention lately. Few actually know that the technology used in their new device was gleaned from the Samsung Pixel Sense. New screen and e-paper technologies are poised to change the way we read and interact with our devices. Today we are going to look at some of the more interesting ones due to hit the market in the near future.
Microsoft Surface using Samsung Pixel Sense Technology
The new Microsoft Surface Tablet will feature a 10.6-inch wide display with Gorilla Glass, its own stand, a full-size USB port, dual Wi-Fi antennae, a multitouch keyboard and a trackpad — and yet is only about a half-inch thick.
Surface is the renamed Pixelsense display technology. You saw this in various super high-end tablet top surfaces that cost around $7,000 to purchase. What makes “optical glass” different? It can see what you place on it. This is not at all the same technology that is on any other tablet or desktop computer. This is truly a revolutionary offering, far more advanced than anything Apple or anyone else currently has access to. Microsoft has two generations of its surface technology with their new tablet to offer a very low-cost price point.
Makers of Gorilla Glass and many other industrial technologies is seeking to change the way we interact with our devices on a daily basis.
Mirasol e-Paper and e-Ink Triton
The Qualcomm mirasol display uses a front-lit LED system rather than conventional backlit displays and houses tons of tiny mirrors to project the brightness back. Allowing for not only an amazing viewing experience in bright situations like outdoors, but also having exceptional colors from the natural lighting.
e-Ink Triton is the latest generation color e-Paper from e-Ink Holdings. The only reader to employ this technology is currently the Jetbook Color. When you are using the color aspect of the device, it gives you 800×600 pixels. The reason for this is because of the RGB color filter they use to overlay the display. Each color pixel is formed with 4 dots which means it is halved from the initial 1600×1200.
LG Flexible e-Paper
The Wexler Flex One was the first e-reader in the world to employ this new display screen technology. The malleable plastic display has a resolution of of 1024 x 768 pixels. This puts it on-par with the iRiver Story HD, in terms of the best resolution in current generation e-paper. It can bend at an angle of up to 40 degrees. It has a very slim profile being only 0.7 millimeters thick. It only weighs in at 14 grams — about half the weight of its glassy competition. LG also claims that the display is super durable, as evidenced by a series of successful drop tests from a height of 1.5 meters.
The Wexler Flex One from Russia is the first e-reader in the world to use LG’s new flexible e-paper technology. We are very proud to bring you all a worldwide exclusive review. It just hit the market a few days ago and we have been using this e-reader nonstop since we got it. Can it break the stranglehold that e-Ink holds in the current market place and is it more than just a flexible gimmick?
The Wexler Flex One is a six inch e-reader and uses LG’s Electronic Paper Display (EPD) technology. The resolution on this device is currently the best in the world on a monochrome e-reader with 1024 x 768 pixels. There are 8 GB of internal storage, which beats the Kindle and Nook in the sheer amount of memory you have to store your books, comics, and PDF files.
The Flex one is designed for long battery life, but does not match up against the months of standby mode that e-Ink based readers enjoy. You can get about 4 weeks of constant use with its 900 mAh Li-ion battery. The one drawback we noticed is that it does not charge via the Micro USB port, but instead has to rely on the charging adapter. Since this reader comes from a Russian company it only ships with a European charger, so you would have to buy a North American one if you want to use it here.
The big selling point is that the screen bends! You can pull and tug it and it does not break! Obviously, you can’t roll it up and carry it around, but it does have a enough degrees of torque that you can have some fun twisting it around. The one huge benefit of this is being able to put it in your jeans back pocket and it conforms to you while you are walking or even sitting down. Since most other e-readers on the market are rigid and don’t bend at all, this Flex One device is a novelty in itself because of this feature. The main drawback on the actual design of this e-reader is the hump on its back. The screen itself is bendable but the area where the D-Pad and other function keys sit is not. This creates a weird lump on the back that makes it harder to hold in your hands for longer periods of time. It felt like there were replaceable batteries underneath it and has the same design consistency as the Jetbook Mini.
Although it feels like this has some glaring design flaws it actually is light as a feather! It currently weighs in at at 110-g (3.9-oz), the 4-mm (0.16-in). Against most of its competition, this is the lightest e-reader in the entire world and is a sheer joy to carry around.
On the front of the display is a home button and 4 directional D-Pads. These keys have different functions depending on if you are reading a book or navigating around the various menus. The D-Pad is intuitive when you are looking at the main UI but suffers a bit while reading. The center button gives you options within a PDF or EPUB book, while the left and ride buttons only scroll you down, line by line.
Hardware wise, it is a basic device. It does not have audio capability or any extended features. It is a bare bones e-reader in terms of the things it can do. There is no wireless internet access, which means you have to load the books on manually, which may put off the average user.
Finally, Wexler does not divulge how much RAM it has or what processor is powering the Flex One. I spent a ton of time reviewing different e-readers and it feels like a 300-500 MHZ processor and around 128k of RAM.
The Wexler Flex One runs on a Linux operating system and has a very basic menu UI. It lists you the last few books you have added to the system and gives you the different formats that it is in. The most handy feature is the file manager, which lists everything that is on your e-reader.
The settings menu gives you a number of options to set your languages and region. There seems be around 12 different options to tailor the main menus and sub-menus, but suffers from localization woes. It was designed in Russia and many of the English options seem to have broken grammar or misspellings. Setting your language is probably the most useful feature in the entire settings menu. There is nothing there, once you setup your date and time, that would ever be relevant in your day to day operations.
The one distracting point of the software is the way the D-Pad keys will do different things, while reading or navigating the menus. There is no consistency and it breaks many conventions that have been established in the past with D-Pad controllers on an e-reader.
The primary use of the Wexler Flex One is a dedicated e-reader. It reads a wide array of formats such as PDF/DOC/CHM/HTM/HTML/EPUB/FB2/DJVU. It will not show pictures at all.
There are a few features that make reading more enjoyable, such as the ability to switch it from landscape to portrait mode. It does not have a built in accelerometer or gyroscope, but is instead software driven. To switch the orientation, you can be on any screen and then just tap the power button. It will bring up the options to switch perspectives and also search text within an EPUB book, which is fairly useful. The real joy of searching text is how responsive the keyboard actually is! Typing on a D-PAD is not the easiest thing to do in the world, but at least it’s quick.
EPUB would be your primary format to read books because it offers the highest number of options to tailor your reading experience. If you have ever used a Kindle or Nook, there are many similarities in being able to augment the way text is displayed. There are seven different options to change the size of the font and each selection changes it in real time. There are also six different fonts to choose from, such as Arial, Sim Hei, Times New Roman, Verdana, Ariblk, and Cout. People who have a hard time reading because of eye sight issues could appreciate the line spacing, margins, and text justification options.
Reading on this Flex One Reader is a walk in the park, once you setup your ideal reading settings. A book takes a few seconds to load for the first time and may suffer from some performance issues while it’s loading and you try and turn pages. Page turn speed is fairly quick and is very comparable to most other popular e-ink based devices like the Kindle 4, or Nook Simple Touch. One of the things I like about the Flex is the ability to change how often the pages refresh when you are turning it. If you have ever used an e-ink screen before, whenever you turn a page there is a full page refresh. This really is distracting from the reading experience, because every time you turn a page it flashes. The Flex One, has options to change the amount of pages are turned before it refreshes, but from our experience, you want to make it every five pages.
The main way you are going to load in your EPUB books is via the Micro USB to USB adapter that comes with the Flex One. This e-reader is recommended for advanced users because it requires you to search the internet for books and then load them on your e-reader. There is no way to buy ebooks and then load them on the device smoothly, because right now it is incompatible with Adobe Digital Editions and there is no Calibre support for it yet.
PDF file viewing is becoming increasingly popular on e-readers and many people search for options to change the flow of the text on the screen. This device really doesn’t have many options to tweak a PDF file to get the most ideal resolution. There are no real options to change the layout of the PDF and only a simple zoom feature. I found comic books looked horrible in portrait mode because, try as I may, I could not get it to look right. Once the orientation was changed to portrait mode, there were few sweet spots you can hit.
The one thing this e-reader suffers from is the control you can get from viewing PDF Files. Instruction manuals and other things look fine, but comic books, graphic novels, and manga are fairly terrible. The resolution of the comics are just fine and the 1024×768 pixels display the art well. The main drawback is the non-existent ability to change the way the PDF file looks and flows. The Sony PRS-T1 is currently our favorite e-reader for the wide array of options to augment PDF’s.
The Wexler Flex One e-Reader’s highest selling point is that the entire screen will bend. I really think in the long term it will be more durable than most other e-readers on the market and it is the lightest one in the world. I really enjoyed walking around with it in my back pocket and playing with it as I read a book.
The main feature is the high resolution and long battery life. Many users will enjoy a very responsive e-reader with fast page turn speeds and tons of ways to change the EPUB experience. Text really does just pop and if you ever messed around with the iRiver Story HD, you know how great PDF/CHM comics look on it.
I would only recommend this to an advanced user because it requires some technical skill to find free and open source books on the internet to download content and then manually transfer them to your e-reader. I don’t like the fact it does not work with Adobe Digital Editions, because you are going to be quite limited in the books you can find. Unless you decide to walk down the murky depths of pirating books, there is no way to buy them and transfer them to your reader. Luckily Project Gutenberg and Smashwords offer a ton of free books you can read.
Bends – Seriously a game changer
Tons of Options to Augment Your e-Reading Experience
Fast Page Turn Speeds
Has a Large Hump on the Back Which Makes It Hard to Hold
PDF Viewing Has Little to No Options to Change the Layout
D-Pad Has Lackluster Controls and Responsiveness
D-Pad Controls Feel a Bit Flimsy
Incompatible with Adobe Digital Editions
Book Expo America 2012 has come and gone and this was one of our first trips where we had all hands on deck! Mercy, Peter, and myself were all live on the scene and covered IDPF and the entire BEA conference.
If there is anything that is abundantly clear, it’s that digital books and technology played a very minor role at the conference. Scholastic, Harper Collins, Harlequin’s Karina Press, and many of the big six publishers had a non-existent digital presence. In many cases when we talked to some of the executives, they did not even have anyone from their ebook division at the conference. It goes to show, as much as these companies hype the fact that digital distribution is the future, they really did not show it.
Here are our thoughts of the best things to come out of the Book Expo and the most noteworthy news we covered during the entire week long event.
We were invited to a Thought Leaders Breakfast on the eve of Book Expo, where the company unveiled its Writing Life Platform. They had popular authors such as Kevin J Anderson in attendance to give us their experiences in beta testing the platform.
On the first day of BEA, we talked with Michael Tamblyn, Vice President of Content, Sales, and Merchandising, about Writing Life. This new program basically allows you to self-publish with Kobo and sell your books in all of the markets that the company has a presence. The big hyping factor is the real time sales and statistical information it provides you. Many self-publishing companies give you data at the end of the month or every quarter. With Writing Life, you can experiment with price, cover art, and marketing to see what works. If you go on a book tour to San Fransisco and don’t notice a spike in your sales, the information can help you decide if further trips might be worth it.
Writing Life will be available in a few weeks and roll out internationally soon thereafter.
I would have thought Amazon would have had a larger presence at BEA, but only Createspace and Kindle Direct Publishing were in attendance. I really wanted to speak with someone from Audible, or Kindle Singles, but there was no one there. Amazon used the conference to announce their new program that helps you use your Createspace books and submit them to Kindle Direct Publishing.
Barnes and Noble
B&N did not have an official booth at BEA, but they had sent a number of high ranking executives to the conference to meet with us and talk shop with other publishers. We met with the Director of Business Development, Stephen Mcdonell, who is basically the man in charge of Android Development. He gave us some key points that really set the record straight in terms of why B&N held the London Event in April and what sections of the store do very well. It seems that the London event was to meet up with the UK developers and get them to submit their apps to the Nook App Store. We can expect to see such notable games as Flick Golf hitting the app store soon. He also told us that Kids Apps and Lifestyle apps are doing really well.
Next, we met with Jim Hilt, Vice President of eBooks at Barnes & Noble. He gave us a great interview on the success of the Nook Glow, what we can expect from NFC, and more synergy in their retail/digital environments.
We got invited to an exclusive Disney event with only 20 other people from the industry in attendance. The representatives showed off the new iPad app based on the movie Brave and some new Marvel apps. The most important thing we took away from this company’s presence at the show was how they are able to produce such high quality apps. It seems Pixar, Marvel, and Disney all share art assets with each other. When they decide to make an app, they have access to the feature film video, character art, their entire sound library, concept art, and tons of other assets. They said, the average high quality app takes around five months to make, and Disney is able to do more in less time because they share assets with all of the departments.
Overdrive was at the show, and we landed an interview with the Chief Marketing Director David Burleigh. We talked at length on the aquisition of Booki.sh and how the online HTML5 reading app is a game changer, for ease of use. We also talked about the new touchscreen terminals that will make searching for books and sending them to your device via QR codes much easier. He shared some very interesting statistics on how digital book lending is looking in all of the different markets Overdrive is in. We also talk about publishers’ reluctance to share books with the company.
We spoke with Tom Mercer, who is really the man in charge of the 3M Cloud Library. He shared what exactly they do that is different and gives some history on the evolution of his company and how they intend on Combating Overdrive. The main things we took out of talking with them is the hardware investment that libraries have to make to do business with 3M. Libraries would have to fork over around $3500 for their touchscreen discovery terminals and then more for their official e-reader to lend out to patrons. The e-reader they have is not provided by Txtr, but instead is the Pocketbook 612 e-reader that is rebranded as their own. Txtr played a role in developing 3M’s Android app.
eBooks and the fragmentation of formats
We talked to every major company involved in ebooks! Smashwords, Karina Press, Disney, Kobo, Intel, and tons of others. If one thing is clear, ebooks have a wild west feel and no one can agree on a universal standard. We have EPUB, EPUB3, EPUB4, Kindle Format 8, HTML5, PDF’s and standalone apps to deliver content. There were copious amounts of companies, such as LULU and Bookbaby, hyping their ebook conversion services and many people were disappointed that there is no universal standard for ebooks. The lack of any standard is creating walled gardens, where if you want to tailor your content for Amazon, it is hard to make an Android App out of it. Seldom do people even know the differences between all the different iterations of EPUB and what the advantages are. The one thing the industry as a whole needs to address is a universal standard for text based books and books that have video/audio and multimedia content. Companies spend too much time trying to adapt to the technology, and in doing so they are losing focus on the actual content.
BEA was very light on digital, but the people we met up with were totally amazing! It was very refreshing to put faces to names and talk shop with them before we did the format interview. I would like to thank Barnes and Noble, Kobo, 3M, Overdrive, Disney, Smashwords, and many others for taking to time to do video interviews with us and talk shop for hours. It was electrifying to be among peers where their eyes do not glaze over when you talk about the current state of affairs of digital publishing and the future of ebooks and distribution.
One of the companies we were very excited to speak with at this year’s Book Expo America was Overdrive. In the last few weeks they officially unveiled the Overdrive Reading App and the new Touchscreen terminals. During this interview we talk about the acquisition of Australian based Bookish and how the technology was augmented to suit the needs of a wide array of internet browsers to read books from the library.
This is a great interview and we talk about how digital library lending has changed the way people access books and how libraries themselves have adapted to it. Overdrive has a strong presence in not only libraries but also in schools and corporate institutions. David mentioned that schools right now have the highest potential of growth for future business, almost all libraries right now are either currently doing business with them, or on the cusp of doing it.
During the course of the interview, we talk about the most emerging markets and talk specifically about Softlink and the Australian market. Finally, we talk about how publishers are responding to digital lending conundrum that either limits the amount of times a book can be loaned out or if they are entirely non-committal.
Forbes wrote about the rise of Research in Motion and other mobile vendors. The premise of the article is how industry leaders can quickly lose market share and become irelevant. “The violence with which new platforms have displaced incumbent mobile vendor fortunes continues to surprise,” says wireless industry analyst Horace Dediu. He notes that Nokia’s Symbian platform went from 47% share to 16% in three years, Microsoft’s phone platforms went from 12% to 1%, RIM’s went from 17% to 12%, and other platforms went from 21% to zero. Meanwhile, over a two year period, Google’s Android OS went from zero to 48% and Apple’s iOS went from 2% to 19%.
Next Media finally launched their new app for Android that is a paid magazine subscription service. It is run by a consortium of publishing giants such as Conde Nast, Meredith, News Corp, and Time iNC.
Pew Research released some new figures on people’s reading habits on mobile devices. Interesting statistics from the Project revealed that 42% of respondents read ebooks on a computer and a nearly equal number of people read on a dedicated e-reader device. The surprising data included the result that only 23% of users read ebooks primarily on tablet devices, and another 29% read ebooks from the screens of their smart phones. Understandably those numbers total more than 100%, but it is because the Project allowed respondents to indicate if they read on more than one device or platform.
Marvel launched its first print comic that takes advantage of their new Augmented Reality app for the iPad. X-Men vs. The Avengers is the first comic that gives you unique features such as live animation, concept art, and even digital video from the artists. It certainly is interesting as a first effort, but when you face your camera towards an image it tends to be hit or miss.
The Harry Potter eBooks have been taking the world by storm and remain high in the charts at Overdrive. When you want to buy an eBook you are directed to Pottermore, which is J.K. Rowlings own interactive website. This is actually very interesting because she is the only author ever to have the clout to dictate terms to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, and others.
Apple, Pearson and Macmillan continue to fight the US Justice Department in reaching a settlement over their agency eBook price fixing. Meanwhile, CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster Inc, HarperCollins Publishers Inc, and Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group just want it to be over. Sources close to the situation claim it might be resolved soon and threats are being issued by both sides.
There was a ton of misconceptions regarding the ending of Google’s eBook affiliate program. We were contacted by Jeannie Hornung, spokesperson for Google, who did confirm that the affiliates program will still continue, and “booksellers will still be highlighted in the ‘Buy this book’ section of Google Book search, supported with our affiliate program and have access to free Books APIs.” While that information was contained in the blog post Google put up today, Hornung also confirmed that the program and support of bookstores will continue after the reseller program is discontinued in January 2013.
Rumors abound that Amazon will be releasing a new Kindle model in the next few months that will have a front lite e-Ink display. The technology was originally developed by Oy Modilis and Amazon purchased them in 2011. This acquisition lends credence to the latest developments out of Taiwan.
Finally, RIM has confirmed that the Sideloading support for Android Apps in the Blackberry Playbook will be suspended very soon. Many developers that are being courted to develop for the beleaguered tablet don’t like the fact it is so easy to pirate apps. I disagree on it being easy, converting Android files to the Playbook BAR format using signing keys and 2 third party programs is anything but simple.
Freescale ran their yearly Top Tech Pundit of 2012 and we are pleased to announce that Good e-Reader officially placed 4th! This is a huge achievement for our tech blog and a testament to the great writing staff we have here that pumps out comprehensive digital publishing, e-reading, and ebook news on a daily basis.
Once a year Freescale runs their Top 5 Tech Pundits of the year and this year was no different. Initially, they had hundreds of blogs in the running and we were shortlisted to the Top 20, due to overwhelming support from our readers. During the last week, they took 20 of the most voted blogs in the world, including Cnet, ZDNET, Engadget, PC World, and the New York Times. I am humbled to say that due to our readers’ support we edged out all of those companies and made it into the coveted Top 5. I can honestly say I am blown away that an indie news source like ours managed to persevere against companies with outlandish operating budgets.
This past week has been huge for us with the story we broke about an Amazon launching a retail store. Major news organizations such as Thomson Reuters, Fastcompany, Bloomberg, and many more all picked up on our articles and mentioned our blog in their publications. We conducted interviews with many companies, including the Financial Times and Sky in the UK about this piece and were honored that many industry veterans are regular readers of ours.
I want to extend my personal thanks to everyone who voted for us for this contest. We would not be where we are today without the great support! Our Twitter and Facebook accounts were upgraded recently and we experienced overwhelming positive feedback on it!
Google Android continues to enjoy being one of the most heavily used operating systems for tablets and phones. This is a robust operating system that is easy to license and many vendors relish in the constant attention the big G brings to their companies. If you have an Android Tablet, e-reader, or phone, you might find yourself in the position that you have no access to some of the best apps on the platform. Many e-readers, like the Kobo Vox, Pandigital Novel, Velocity Micro Cruz and many others, have limited access to 3rd party downloads. The average user only uses the apps the unit is shipped with and does not know there are tons of choices out there.
There are quite a number of mainstream e-reader apps that allow you to buy books, newspapers, and magazines directly from the apps. Not only can you buy, but you can also read them as they were meant to be seen, making them the perfect all in one solution. Today we are going to take a look at some of the best mainstream e-reader apps out there and tell you a bit about them. You can also download any of these apps directly to your tablet or phone by visiting http://goodereader.com/apps/
Amazon is one of the largest and most successful companies in terms the sheer amount of ebooks that are available. They have a tremendous ecosystem that allows you to buy the latest bestsellers and newspapers at good prices.
The Kindle for Android interface is very clean and gives you many options to browse content from the New York Times Bestseller list to the staffs personal picks. It has its categories developed fairly well, but often works best if you know what you are looking for.
Amazon has released a new library lending program via Overdrive partners. If you have a local branch that participates in digital ebook lending you can borrow books form the library and have them sent directly to your Kindle account. You can then send the books directly to your Android Tablet or e-Reader and read for free. Amazon also has a lending program that allows you borrow select books from other users or from eBook Club websites like Lendingebooks.com
Amazon for Android continues to be one of the better ecosystems out there in terms of mainstream and current books. They have a great indie writer community and you can discover new writers at affordable prices, often at .99. This program is a free download but obviously the content costs money but there is a ton of free books on the service.
Barnes and Noble in the last few years has developed an expansive bookstore with tons of content. If you have a Nook Tablet or Color you know first hand how the store functions and the sheer amount of kids books, cook books and others specifically tailored for the Nook line of devices? What if you just have a Kobo Vox or other tablet? How does the experience rank up against the competition?
Nook for Android only works best if you live in the USA, if you live outside that country you do have some options. Many users claim using a fake address from the USA is all you need to do and then use your real email address and credit card. The company will NEVER send anything to your physical address unless you order non-digital content.
Nook for Android is a great reader program that allows you to lookup words via the dictionary and alter your fonts and margins. You can also augment your linespacing if you want to customize your reading experience.
This bookstore has a ton of new and mainstream books available and also a select amount of other material. The company runs their own indie publishing project called PUBIT which allows writers to submit their own content. Unlike Amazons publishing program physical people actually read the book to make sure its suitable to publish.
Kobo boasts a current library of 2.5 million books and 60% of them are free and open source. This means a fair number are classics and books you might have read when you were a little kid. Kobo is a very internationally friendly company and you can buy and read books in almost any country in the world.
One of the strongest features the company has going for it is ‘Reading Life’ which allows you earn awards and achievements. You can then let your friends know when you have read a book or earned an award via Facebook and Twitter. Speaking of social media you can also send passages of text or select words to those services too.
If you want to load your own books Kobo is one of the only mainstream apps that allow you to do it. Simply upload books that don’t have DRM to your dropbox account or send them as attachments via email and when you open it up the books can be read within the app.
Finally, like most mainstream apps there is a ton of customizations you can make to change up the look and feel of most books. You can change fonts, margins, line spaces and much more.
Android is the first platform that Sony started to market its own fledgling bookstore to phones and tablets. There is actually an optimized version of their app specifically for tablets that is an independent download. Book Prices are a bit higher then some of its competition but they do have a bunch of graphic novels and manga available.
The Sony Reader is one of the least developed mainstream apps and by comparison ranks lower on our list of essential apps. It does not give you as much freedom to change fonts and other aspects of your book experience like Kobo, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
When you download the app you are greeted by 3 free books that change once in awhile but are often open-source free books that are in the public domain.
If you have a Android Tablet or Phone with full access to the Android Market often this app is installed on your device. Often if you don’t there is no actual way of getting it other then our own app store. It features one of the nicest page turn animations in the business and looks very slick to read even scanned books.
Google is trying very hard to make a go of the entire ebook world and only started its service last year. They are the least mature of all of the other mainstream apps in terms of selection of books and the overall app experience.
The essence of Google Books is it is mainly a cloud based reader, when you buy books they are not stored physically on your e-reader or phone but within the Google Cloud Service.
There are over 3 million books in its ecosystem, but the majority are free and open sourced books the company has tediously scanned over the last five years. If you live in the USA it has an expansive selection of modern bestsellers in the fiction and non-fiction genres. If you live in Canada, Australia, or the UK the selection tends to fall of the cliff fast with an emphasis on local writers. It seems like most publishing companies did not authorize their books to any market outside the USA, which makes finding the latest best sellers an exercise in patience.
We are giving away one of our review copies of the previous generation Amazon Kindle Keyboard! This is the only Kindle still marketed by Amazon that has a physical keyboard to type words or internet addresses. You can surf online, share book updates via Twitter, and shop for plenty of newspapers and books!
We are giving this away on February the 9th to one lucky winner of our blog! We will pay for the shipping, and you get the e-reader and everything that originally came with it! To enter, all you have to do is vote for us in the Freescale Smart Mobile Device Pundit 2012 Top 20! Once you vote, simply comment below and let us you did it. We will pick one winner and let them know by email and by updating this post. So check back often and you can vote once a day, so you enter the contest more than once!
Vote for Michael Kozlowski of Good e-Reader at the following link – http://freescale.com/pundit
One Click Vote the easy way – HERE
Update: The WINNER IS Ana Nunes! Please send us an email using our contact form and give us your full address
Sony released their first tablet computer a few months ago called the Sony Tablet S and since then has been one of the better portable media devices in the world. It’s sleek innovative design is a stark contrast to the myriad of cookie cutter tablets out there that all seem to resemble the same design. The one factor that sets this unit apart from the competition is the sheer amount of customized apps that come bundled with the system.
The Sony Tablet S features a 9.4 inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. It uses technology called TruBlack display which provides more vibrant colors and richer tones of black. This helps particularly with video playback that does full 1080P but if you intend on copying Blu-ray movies you have to do it in the H.264 MPEG-4 format, otherwise it will stutter. Underneath the hood lurks a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor and 1 GB of RAM. There is two different models on the market a 16 GB and 32 GB variants depending on your needs for internal memory.
The tablet visually bears a similar resemblance to the Notion Ink Adam that was released last year. It has a curved design so when you have it sitting on a flat surface the screen faces you on a curving arc. On the top of the device is a single .03 MP webcam that won’t win any awards on the resolution but is enough for basic video conferencing via SKYPE or other supported software. On the left-hand side is a 3.5 mm headphone jack and beside that dwells a MicroUSB and SD Card. The SD Card slot will allow you to store extra data on it but cannot physically transfer content from it to your unit. It has a 32 GB maximum limit on storage cards and will not read SDXC cards. I found myself merely keeping my movies and music on it because you can only read one file at a time with the native File Manager App that is bundled with it.
On the bottom of the Tablet S is the proprietary Sony Charging port and I like the design of it. Obviously the tablet comes shipped with a physical wall charger to power it up and out of the box it does not come charged. I like the way this adapter works because when you plug it in there are two plastic ports that lock it into place. This insures when you are actually using it the power adapter will not accidentally become dislodged. The right hand side features physical volume buttons and a power button. Both the left and right hand side have stereo speakers which is a boon and I loved the positioning of them.
So many tablets these days are shipped with speakers on the bottom of the device and presents many challenges when having it lay flat on its back. The Kobo Vox and Nook Tablet are two models in particular that suffer from this problem and gives you sub-par audio because it always comes across as muffled. The sound on the Tablet S is not that great to be honest, Netflix movies send to have very low volume emitting from the speakers even when the volume is cranked up. I suggest investing in a good pair of headphones if you intend on consuming media.
What I really like is the back of the device which has a cool black grip that makes holding onto it easier then most. It is much akin to the Kobo line of e-readers with the quilted back in this respect. There is also a 5 MP camera with no LED Flash to film videos or take pictures.
I really love the design of the Tablet S, it is a fresh and unique and I don’t see Apple suing them for patent infringement. If you look at most of Samsung’s tablets they all look the same and this is really what is facing the tablet industry in general. Most families of tablets like Skytex, Archos, Coby, Samsumg, LG and Motorola end up all looking the same design wise and the only differences are found underneath the hood or the occasional HDMI out. I review a ton of tablets that come out and the Sony Tablet S with its elegant form-factor looks like it costs more then it actually does.
Performance wise it does a really good job with its hardware! Videos and Audio normally are stutter free and Playstation Network games function very well considering this is not a dual core machine. You connect to all of these services via WIFI and currently there is no 3G model.
The Sony Tablet S is shipped with the latest version of Google Honeycomb and the company promises a Ice Cream Sandwich update in the next few months. Now lets be clear, this is not a stock Android experience like you will see on many other tablets, Sony went the extra mile to develop all sorts of unique apps and a cool animated GUI that makes the app menu look interesting.
Most tablets out of the box when they are running Android usually use most of the stock programs and make the customer have to patronize various Android Markets in order to get media, book, file manager and other essential applications to get running properly. Sony has all of these apps right out of the box and are all optimized to be touchscreen friendly.
There are a few applications that caught my attention right away like the Music App. It gives you the ability to have your albums display as cover art laying down on a pseudo 3D surface. You can hold down on any of them and drag them around. The actual controlling of music on your timeline is brimming with options which puts the stock media player to shame.
Some other customized applications of note is the Social Feed Reader which connects with your Facebook and Twitter accounts and puts them all in one place so you don’t have to access each account individually. The video player also is well laid out and groups similar content together in a graphical directory structure similar to Windows 7.
Sony actually runs their own Android App Store that comes bundled with the Tablet S called Select App. This basically has most of your essential tablet friendly applications in all one place. Although this model does have official Google Android Market compatibility, it is still nice to browse apps that are judged to be fully compliant.
There are a few key features found on the Tablet S on a software level that really make it stand out from the rest of the Android Crowd. For one it has full DLNA capabilities and a few applications to take advantage of this. If you have a DLNA sound system or TV you can swipe upwards and transfer movies, tv shows, pictures and music to play on your television. Speaking of your TV it also functions as a universal remote control with the easiest setup ever. Really, with most physical universal remotes you have to know your exact model of TV, along with a bunch of serial numbers and remote codes. The Tablet S simply takes your TV brand and automatically syncs with it giving you full control over it within 10 seconds. If you use a receiver, cable box or any other 3rd party system to give yourself content, this also pairs with any of that. This new tablet certainly gives you tremendous practical uses other then just playing games or watching movies.
Gaming is what this device is all about with connection to the Play Station Network! Now this is not the full network you would connect via your PSP, Vita or PS3. Instead it has around 15 games that are 1st generation Playstation 1 titles. What I liked about the whole gaming process is every game uses the same GUI for your dual controllers and other buttons. If you look at iOS games there really is no standard in the way the touchscreen game experience plays out. This model on the other hand has the same controller scheme no matter what game you play. If you are not a fan of touchscreen controllers you can simply pair it with your PS3 controller and game externally. Personally, I hate touchscreen games and love connecting external gamepads or controllers to play them. Hunching over a small screen for a number of hours is not fun but sitting back and holding a controller in your hand is easy.
If you love to read, Sony has you covered with their Sony Reader App that ships with the Tablet S. You can buy and read books using their own app store but because its Android the sky is your limit for ebook reading apps like Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and many more from the Good e-Reader App Store. One of the advantages of owning an Android device is how easy it is to install 3rd party programs to deal with the stores you want and not be limited in buying or reading.
The 9.4 inch screen is perfect for comic books, manga, newspapers, magazines and complex PDF documents. For some reason a 7 inch screen never really cuts it for me and images always need to be pinched and zoomed in order to read each page. The bigger the screen the more images can be packed inside and reading image heavy content is very satisfying. I especially liked reading Comics with Droid Comic Viewer and Magazines via Zinio.
The entire software experience is unlike anything you will see on 95% of the tablets on the market. It comes shipped with Flash and every app you would need right out of the box. This is not your standard fare either, Sony invested a ton of time and money developing 50% of their own content you will find pre-loaded when you power it on for the first time. They even have their own video streaming service that allows you to watch, rent and buy TV Shows and Movies. Really, if you wanted to do exclusive business with Sony they have everything you need.
Finally a Tablet with a full QWERTY keyboard and a NUM Pad on the same screen! When we turned it on for the first time and immediately were greeted by a customized keyword when inputting our WIFI password was a thing of beauty and was indicative of things to come. A simple NUM PAD may not seem like a big deal but if you have a ton of passwords with numbers in them, you have to go through less wasted motions to type it in. This is really how the entire Sony Tablet experience plays out, attention to detail and doing subtle things differently.
If there was any true iPad competitor it would have to be the 10.1 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Sony Tablet S. The advantage Sony has is their unique UI which does not deviate from the stock Android experience most people are used to but does add a bit of animations and flair. The true beauty for novice users is that every program you want is available on it right out of the box. I can’t tell you how many low rent tablets I review and they have NOTHING on them, not even an e-reading app. They have a basic Web-kit browser and the default media player, which is hurting. It was really a great experience to crank this open and feel my love of tablets starting to surface again.
Really, if you want a great tablet for under $400 that will get the Ice Cream Sandwich treatment in a month and does everything you want, buy this.
Firmware compatibility for PS3 Controllers
Google Android Market Access
Tons of customized applications
Video quality is amazing
Rich Colors and get Black Contrast
Snappy and Robust
No Micro SD
Sound quality is poor, you need headphones
The default music player stutters if you have too many apps open
Playstation Store does not have many titles available
Universal Remote will prompt people to visit a wall of TV’s and change all the channels