Archive for e-Reader News
Barnes and Noble wanted to tackle the e-reader and eBook market in a big way. The company has lost over one billion dollars on their digital enterprise and are seeking new ways to stop the blood flow. The company has fired most of their executive team and sacked 190 jobs in the last year. New SEC filing has the Nation’s largest bookstore cutting Nook funding by 74%
Barnes & Noble’s fiscal quarter ended at the end of January, and the filing shows a $61 million loss on $157 million in revenue. It also notes their capital expenditures where a paltry $7.4 million on the Nook. That represents a massive decline in spending over last year, with a 55% drop in the past nine months. This is about the same time that the rumors starting about the accelerated decline of the entire Nook division.
The management shakeup and employee reorganization has been taxing on B&N. So much so, that they have failed to adhere to the terms of the Microsoft investment of 300 million. Barnes and Noble has not meant the content thresholds Microsoft established by opening up Nook stores in over 30 different countries. Because of this, Nook has not been able to attain the total funding until they meet their goals. Rumor has it, they might be able to do it by the end of April 2014.
Amazon has a very bad track record of updating the firmware for older devices. The original Paperwhite was a critical success for the Seattle based company with over half a million of them in circulation. Today, the Kindle Paperwhite 1 just received a massive firmware update that adds GoodReads functionality and a ton more.
Amazon had purchased eBook and social website GoodReads last year. The premise of the service is for people to discover new books and talk to kindred spirits. It is the most well executed site of its kind and something Amazon sorely needed. The Paperwhite 2 did not ship with GoodReads built into it, but pushed an update about a month after it first hit the store shelves. We were told that an update would be incoming shortly, and now we have it.
Another addition to the upgrade is Kindle Freetime, which allows you to setup profiles for your kids and add restrictions on what they can access, and what they can’t. This is tremendously useful for parents whose entire family shares the reader and wants to foster their child’s love of prose.
Here is a full list of all of the new features that went into the last update! You can download it HERE, if its not pushed out to you via WIFI.
Kindle FreeTime - FreeTime lets you create personalized profiles for kids, and give them access to titles from your collection of books. Kids can keep track of their personal reading progress and earn achievement badges. To learn more, go to Kindle FreeTime
Goodreads on Kindle - Connect with the world’s largest community for readers from your Kindle Paperwhite. See what your friends are reading, share notes, and rate the books you read. To learn more, go to Find and Share Books with Goodreads on Kindle.
Cloud Collections - Use Cloud Collections to organize your content in custom categories. See your collections in a Collections view, and customize where your collections show on your device. To learn more, go to Organize Your Content with Cloud Collections.
Page Flip - While reading, you can skim the book page-by-page, scan by chapter, or skip to the end for a sneak peek without losing your place. To learn more, go to Go To Other Locations in a Book
Enhanced Bookmarks, Highlights & Notes - Access and manage all of your bookmarks, highlights, and notes more quickly and easily. To learn more, go to Bookmarks, Highlights & Notes
Smart Lookup - When you look up a word or character, Smart Lookup provides you with dictionary, X-Ray, and Wikipedia information.To learn more, go to Explore Your Book with X-Ray.
Vocabulary Builder - Words looked up in the dictionary are automatically added to Vocabulary Builder. View the definition and usage of the words, and quiz yourself with flashcards. To learn more, go to Expand Your Vocabulary.
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2 has suffered from a major PDF error since the unit was first unveiled last year. If you loaded in a PDF over 50 MB, you would often have a very slow experience and in some cases the rendering engine would crash. If you loaded in a file over 100 MB you could not even do anything with the e-reader before the whole thing just froze out. This obviously has been tremendously disconcerting for people who rely on the Kindle for any kind of complex document. It seems as though Amazon has solved this issue with a new firmware update for the Paperwhite 2.
We tested a couple of documents that used to always crash our e-reader before the new update, and we are happy to say they have full functionality now. If you have a penuche for academic, gaming, comics, or newspapers in a PDF form, the Kindle Paperwhite 2 is relevant.
The core PDF experience is dramatically enhanced now. The PDF files are tending to load quicker and overall navigation is smoother. Pinching and zooming is fairly robust now and does not stutter like before. In our video we show you some of the cool new enhancements, such as inertia scroll.
The Kindle is not the best six inch PDF reader out there. The Kobo Aura HD and Sony PRS-T3 do a better job in performance and advanced options. The one thing the Kindle has going for it, is that you can make notes, annotations, highlights, look words up in the dictionary or use the new auto translate feature.
Pocketbook is developing a new e-reader called the Pocketbook Ultra. This will be the first device the company has released that will include an e Ink Carta display screen. This is the exact same technology that the new Kindle Paperwhite has. In addition, the reader will have a built in camera to allow you to scan books.
The Pocketbook Ultra will have a six inch capacitive display screen with a resolution of 1024×758. It has the Carta screen technology to deliver crisp images and text. It will also have a front light on the screen, similar to the Nook Glowlight. One of the main benefits of this new screen is faster page turns and a full page refresh occurring every chapter, instead of the industry average of every six pages.
The Ultra will be the first e-reader to utilize a built in camera. There will be dedicated OCR software able to save the photos / scans in real and editable text. One of the main benefits would be to scan text, a blackboard, a chart and then save it in PDF for future readings.
There might be some credence to the rumor that Amazon might announce the Kindle Paperwhite 3 before Mothers Day. The Seattle based e-Commerce giant is not really known for big discounts on their current generation devices. Today only, you can get the Kindle Paperwhite 2 for $99 and the 5th generation Kindle for $49.99. It is basically a twenty dollar savings to pick either of these up from the US Amazon website.
A source within Amazon has disclosed to Good e-Reader that the upcoming Kindle Paperwhite 3 will use new screen technology. The entire e-reader will be lighter than previous models, have higher resolution and incorporate a flexible display.
The Kindle Paperwhite 3 will be using screen technology that was developed by e Ink and Sony called Mobius. Mobius uses a TFT technology that will enable the development of much lighter and rugged products. Mobius displays can weigh less than 50% of an equivalent glass based TFT. This is particularly important for mobile products requiring larger display areas.
The only commercially viable product to use Mobius screen technology was the Sony 13.3 inch e-reader. When I had the first exclusive hands on of it was the lightest device I have ever played with in the history of e-readers. The 13.3 inch screen is beguiling to behold and you would figure from looking at it that it would weigh significantly more than the Kindle DX. In truth it weighs only 12.6 oz, compared to the Kindle DX, which weighs a hefty 18.9 oz. The e-paper screen glides like a feather when dropped, as I found out.
e Ink Mobius e-Paper can be cut to a customers specific requirements, and still maintain the long battery life, lightweight nature and high resolution. This will insure that the new Kindle Paperwhite 3 will have all of the main benefits of the Sony 13.3 e-reader, but in a small, lightweight six inch screen.
Barnes and Noble is seeking to retool the Nook division and to stem the tide of declining revenue. The company has lost over a billion dollars since they first unveiled the Nook e-Reader back in 2011. They are hoping to solve the situation by firing a large percentage of their workforce, capitalizing on digital sales and releasing a new tablet.
Since fiscal 2014 began, approximately 190 NOOK positions have been eliminated both through reductions and attrition. The bookseller has spent over $2.4 million dollars on severance packages, but should save money in the long-term. Most of these positions were in the hardware and programming departments. Currently, even with these reductions Nook has 500 people currently working in that division. Likely, further layoffs are anticipated to happen during the year.
Last quarter Barnes and Noble sold $50 million dollars worth of digital content, which incorporates apps, books, magazines and videos. In the US, the bookseller controls roughly about 20% of the eBook market, whereas a year ago they had 27%. The bookseller is hoping to capitalize on more international distribution via Microsoft to boost revenue. This is a good model, because it is not reliant on internal staff to promote and market the Nook Reading app for Microsoft, the Redmond company is doing a fine job at hyping it.
Finally, Barnes and Noble announced plans for a new Nook tablet to be released sometime this year. If we look at past trends, it will likely come out in October, to gear up promotional efforts both online and in the retail stores for the pivotal holiday season. Nothing is really known about the tablet yet, but there are rumors that the company will be dealing with Foxconn to manufacture the devices and their California R&D division will handle the design.
Pocketbook recognizes that many people take their e-readers to the pool, beach or on vacation. Standard e-readers have lots of open ports, that water or sand can easily destroy the reader. In order to remedy this situation the Ukrainian based company will be releasing the Pocketbook Aqua this March.
The PocketBook Aqua is protected by IP57 certification, which means that the device is protected against dust and for 30 minutes at one meter of water is dense. This will basically allow you to read it in the bathtub or scuba diving!
The device itself features a six inch e-Ink Pearl Display with a resolution of 800×600. Underneath the hood is a 1 GHz single core processor and memory is relegated to 4 GB of storage. In order to make it waterproof Pocketbook had to forgo the SD card and also eliminated all buttons.
Many phones and tablets are increasingly billing themselves as waterproof as a marketing ploy. Sony has done this with a number of their devices and smaller niche companies are also offering products. My question, is how viable is a waterproof e-reader? It might make a solid vacation one, that you can read in any environment, although its dubious if this will ever be your primary one.
Sony announced a few weeks ago that they were closing the Reader Store and customers books were being transferred to Kobo. With a bombshell announcement like this, it was inevitable that many questions and concerns would arise. Sony has addressed a few of this issues to Good e-Reader, that should put people at ease.
Within the next few weeks there will be an automated email sent out to customers who have purchased books from the Reader Store. This email will provide users with a step by step tutorial on how to transfer your library from Sony to Kobo. Obviously not all titles you bought from Sony will be available on Kobo, and you can still read them on your Sony e-Reader regardless.
Many customers have voiced their trepidation about switching their library to Kobo. Sony has confirmed to Good e-Reader that nothing will happen to the books that are on your device. You can continue to read all of the books you bought from Sony, doing the same things you have always done. You just cannot buy new titles from the Sony Store. Whether you have bought 1 book or have thousands, you are not forced to transfer your library to Kobo to keep on reading.
Sony e-Readers often have a ton of space to house thousands of books. Some readers like to keep their devices lightweight and delete past purchases once they have read them. This is no big deal, because all purchases are stored in the Sony Cloud, able to be downloaded again, at any time. Sony has verified that you have until April 30th to redownload any of your past purchases, that were deleted from the e-Reader.
Finally, the Sony Daily Edition, was one of the more popular e-readers and had a 3G connection. Sadly, Sony confirmed “ The 3G connection to Reader Store on the PRS-900 or PRS-950 will be discontinued. We encourage customers to download our Reader for PC/Mac software (available here) . Starting in late March, our Reader for PC/Mac software will enable customers to directly connect to the Kobo Store for future purchases. They can use the software then to also transfer new titles via USB to their Reader from Sony.”
So in the end, customers are not forced to switch their libraries to Kobo. If you are happy with your current collection, nothing will happen to it. You can continue to read books forever on the Sony Reader, you just can’t buy new ones. Many people don’t want to switch to Kobo, for various reasons. Going forward, you can just download books from the internet and manually load them on your device, no big deal.
Oyster is one of the few companies in the world that has been a subscription based eBook service actually work. Right now you are only able to read the books on iOS and the PC, with a rumored Android app in the works. Today, Oyster has announced an upgrade to their app, that aids eBook discovery.
The new 1.3 version is all about design, personalization, and community. Here a number of enhancements the company has integrated into the new build today.
· A brand new “Explore” tab to browse our library by genre and discover the perfect book.
· New Home design has more prominent and beautiful Spotlight features.
· Follow Facebook friends when you sign in for the first time.
· Remove books from your Recent Books list.
· Access your Reading List from Home.
· See which other Oyster users have read, rated, or saved a book when viewing its details.
· Refined visual design, color, and typography throughout.
Sony can be considered the first mainstream company to get involved in the e-reader space. They had models on the market at least a full year before Amazon even announced the first Kindle. A few weeks ago a bombshell announcement was made that Sony was closing their online Reader Store and transitioning all of their North American customers to Kobo. Users, are starting to express tremendous disdain about this move.
Jeff P recently wrote “HORRID! HORRID! HORRID! I’ve been a member since November 2007. The only readers or tablets I’ve ever were Sony so that I could use the reader software. I once told a sales clerk that I didn’t need the extended warranty because I was buying a Sony. Almost every piece of electronic equipment I have is Sony. I won’t buy another Sony ANYTHING. Yes, you say customers are first, well, I’m the first customer to tell you that you’ve made a HORRID mistake and I’m never going to buy another Sony product EVER.”
Ray Laurence actually made a very good point. “Shocking news. I am surprised that I received this news via my son who received an email from you. I never received an email. Considering the volume of purchases and the activity in my account, I would have thought I would have been notified. I would like to know what Sony intends to do with our financial data, and if I can remove it at this point.” Sony let him know that they will only remove financial data on a per request basis.
Danise said “I am struggling to not cry. I worked for Borders books for 10 years and liquidated 3 stores. For any book lover, for anyone who wants options in the marketplace (Amazon being the last place I buy books), this is a shame.”
Elle Couto weighed in by saying “I am very unhappy about this and it is unlikely I will ever purchase a Sony product again. Your company does not realize that any time a U.S. customer purchases anything from Kobo, we pay a foreign transaction fee. This is why I stopped purchasing from them. Bad form, Sony and I will certainly keep that in mind when I purchasing other products that Sony makes.”
Joeanne Vallat commented “To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I love my Sony e-reader and the Sony site. I have 300+ books on my e-reader and am holding my breath that they transfer over. From the other comments about Kobo, the quality, pricing and customer service I am really not looking forward to this experience. I signed with Kobo with my BB Playbook and only got one book as there was just no comparison between Kobo and Sony. I do not believe your statement that you care about your customers or you would have done more research on this before you made the move.”
Della said “I hate kobo when borders went out of business kobo took over and we never could recover our purchased books. This stinks.”
Ron is another user regretting to ever do business with Sony “When Borders closed their ebook store they moved content to Kobo as well. What a disappointment that was. Funny thing, Sony closes a well run site and transfers customers to Kobo, a company that somehow manages to stay in business despite a lack of customer service, poor interface, poor selection, high prices and just an overall bad experience.
For what it’s worth, I went to Kindle recently and I wish I had gone with Kindle in the first place. And, it’s relatively simple to load epub books onto the Kindle, just google for instructions. Amazon customer service is great, prices are good, it’s easy to use and the battery life is much better than Sony (I have 3, all have short battery life). And the new Paperwhite has built in side lighting as an option. It will be a long, long time before I buy another Sony product.”
Tony weighed in with “I have just been SHOCKED by the news of Sony abandoning yet another one of its greatest creations! I am a loyal SONY consumer, but it is starting to become hard to stay in love with them. From the Mini-Disc to its music store and now its ebook store…all GONE. Extremely saddened!”
Elizabeth Ruyle lamented “I am really beginning to feel like I have been scammed. I have had my Ereader for a little over 3 years and have been very happy with it and the library/store. Therefore, for Christmas I bought two readers for my children – supposedly on sale. Now I find out my reader won’t work on transfer.
My reader needed a repair and in the process the tech lost about 8-10 books I really want. Now they say over $100 to repair, even though the model won’t work. I thought Sony was a well established and reliable company – so much for “reliable name brand” companies. I really feel like we are getting a raw deal. I have bragged about Sony readers to everyone who has asked what brand I have. Not any more, I will complain and bad talk Sony now. This 78 yr old lady feels like I have been taken advantage of.”
Barnes and Noble is a company in transition, when it comes to their floundering Nook Media division. In the last two months they have announced the departures of Jim Hilt – Vice President of eBooks, digital products director Jamie Iannone and VP of digital products Bill Saperstein. A myriad of other people have left, including the head of accessories and most of the hardware developers. The big reason these executives have left is primarily due to the fact that Nook Media has lost over a billion dollars since 2010.
Barnes and Noble is quite transparent when it comes to their financial earnings and hold nothing back from investor calls and their reporting. Normally, their end of the year reports come out every April and there is some bleak news. In 2011 the company lost 209 million, in 2012 they lost 261 million and in 2013 they increased the losses to 475 million. If we look at the quarter ending on July 27, 2013 they reported loses of 55 million and October 26, 2013 NOOK lost 45 million. If you add all of these figures together it comes to over 1 billion dollars.
It is painfully obvious that Barnes and Noble was making too many units and not selling enough. This resulted in dramatic price drops just to move the inventory. The executives are firmly to blame with none of their e-readers sold nearly as much as the Nook Color, their first tablet and their first/second generation e-ink display with a color LCD on the bottom.
Amazon, Apple and Kobo all got involved in the e-reader and tablet space roughly around the same time Barnes and Noble first started making devices. All of these companies are extreamly profitable and rarely have a quarter in which they are in the red. Why? They poach executives away from rivals, and have great leadership. This is evident in the products they release and the marketing they put into it. Can you ever say you saw a sexy Barnes and Noble television commercial?
I have no idea how a company can lose over a billion dollars and still be in business. It makes 0 sense with the largest bookstore in the USA to serve as a retail showcase can be in this much trouble. Obviously, there are plenty of ideas on how to turn things around, instead Barnes and Noble appoints the VP of Marketing Doug Carlson to lead the eBook crew. Here is an idea, hire from the outside, to bring fresh new ideas. A herd of spitting camels, is still a herd of spitting camels, no matter who the alpha of the group is.
OAXIS has followed up its earlier attempt at an e-ink smartphone case with a new take on the concept which was unveiled at the ongoing MWC event. The InkCase Lite adds a secondary 3.5 inch 360 X 600 resolution Mobius e-ink display at the rear. It comes with its own battery and CPU which means it does not have to poach on the resources of the smartphone it is clamped on to. Also, this makes the system easy to use as well as there are no tech wizardry to deal with. The cases just have to be fitted with the matching smartphone and those will be ready for use. These communicate with the smartphone via Bluetooth.
What is even better this time is that OAXIS has stated they have enhanced the scope of the smartphone case this time, which means the InkCase Lite will be compatible with all smartphones currently available. That no doubt is a tall ask but at least the better known devices should come under the purview of the new case. In its first avatar, the InkCase Lite was limited to just the iPhone 5, Galaxy S4 and the Note 2 device which attracted a fair bit of criticism.
However, no matter how exciting the concept might sound, there is also no denying the fact that the add-on case does add some bulk to the smartphone. The lack of suitable apps to make the most of the secondary e-ink display also negated all the good things that the e-ink display could have introduced. The best we can have right now is EpiReader which can be used to read ebooks on the e-ink display. The EpiReader can also be used to engrave the display with a favorite quote. Similarly, the app InkCase Photo enables users to fillup the e-ink display with a photo while InkCase Sports can be used to make the display work as a sports timer. The Singpore company has also stated they are making available the InkCase/Lite SDK for developers to explore other ways to make the most of the secondary e-ink display.
Pricing remains a mystery right now, even more so now that the case has been made compatible with more smartphones this time. In any case it can’t be expected to be cheap either given the InkCase i5 now costs $149. With dedicated e-ink readers such as the Kindle ($69) or the Kindle Paperwhite ($119) being much cheaper than that, the choice could boil down to a cheaper but a bigger full-fledged ebook reader or a smaller and hence more portable smartphone add-on that costs a bit more.