e-Reader News

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Sony Canada has confirmed with Good e-Reader that the Sony PRS-T3 is officially discontinued.  It will no longer be available in retail settings once current stocks have depleted. Not only is it no longer available in Canada, but Sony Europe also confirmed its discontinued.

The PRS-T3 was one of the best e-readers Sony ever produced. It was durable, had great resolution and the ability to read eBooks you borrowed from the library.  One of the downsides of this model was the built in case that added to the bulk. You are actually unable to remove it, without the battery and motherboard being visible. The Sony PRS-T3S actually solved this issue by having the standard backplate, and this model is actually still available in limited quantities.

2014 was a big year for change in the Sony e-reader division. The company closed down their Reader Store in Canada, Europe and Australia. All digital books and customers were passed over to Kobo, where a recent firmware update allows you to buy books again, but not through Sony.

Is the discontinuation of the Sony PRS-T3 a sign that the company will announce a new model in September? This is the time of year they generally have new products come out, but without a dedicated eBook store, is e-readers still viable for Sony?

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The Chinese digital publishing industry is on the rise. Newspapers, magazines, comics and eBooks garnered 42 billion USD in 2012. This is a massive figure, but it only really accounted for 11.6% of the entire publishing industry. Chinese digital publishing has really grown up over the last two years with more companies focusing on smartphone delivery. New research has proclaimed that by the end of 2014, digital publishing will be valued at over 56 billion.

The Chinese digital publishing industry is targeting smartphones in a big way. There is currently 700 million active phones running Android, Windows or iOS. This is prompting creative deals such as Xiamen Bluebird Cartoon Co. partnering with Trajectory to adopt its popular TV series  Xingxing Fox and Close to the Great Society into digital books for children.

One  of the largest digital publishing websites is run by Cloudary, a website dedicated to contemporary Chinese literature.  They provide a wide range of digital services,  such as online eBook delivery and they also manage  six online reading and writing communities, with a user popular of  1.6 million members.

The thing I really like about the Chinese publishing industry is how innovative they are when compared to the way the North American scene is run.  One of China’s oldest publishing houses,  Zhonghua Book Co, entered the world of multimedia publishing by instigating a poetry contest that targeted mobile phone users.

The format was simple: Applicants simply had to compose an ode using the rigid formulas of classical Chinese poetry and send the resulting poem to Zhonghua via a text message. Over a period of four months, 43 million aspiring poets texted their work, either as original content for the competition or as messages to friends, who in turn forwarded the poem to other recipients.  By the end of the competition, the number of posts and reposts on mobile devices totaled 129 million, a huge number given that Zhonghua’s biggest-selling physical book, Thoughts on the Analects of Confucius sold 320,000 copies.

There are thousands of startups tackling app development, new content delivery methods and cool ways to appeal to the mobile reader.  All of this innovation is occurring due to Amazon, Apple and Google entering the market and fostering innovation. This is ruffling some political feathers, which prompted the  Chinese Central Government to issue a series of guidelines to help traditional publishing enter the digital world and offered financial assistance to make it happen.

China has a very deep rooted publishing industry and many are resistant about going digital. The average customer does not have a Android, Apple or iOS smartphone due to the costs and still rely on tangible books. The lack of technology is certainly the largest barrier, preventing the industry from reaching new heights.  Still, 56 billion US is a ton of money and it is showing that customers are firmly embracing a wide array of media content and  publishers are being savvy.

Jul
30

The Advantages of an e-Reader

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Good e-Reader has been chronicling the e-reader industry right around the time Amazon released their second generation model and started to compete against Sony. We have seen the rise of Kobo, Nook and a host of European companies offer a dedicated device that was designed just to read eBooks. You would be surprised how many emails we get about the benefits of a dedicated e-reader when compared to a smartphone or tablet. Today, we look at some of the main ones, to help you in your quest to find the ideal device for  your lifestyle.

Long Battery Life

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I am a self-admitted gadget fiend, finding solace in new tech toys. One of the problems I have noticed with smart watches, fitness bands, smartphones or tablets is the deplorable battery life. You have to charge these puppies every single day, unless you carry around a solar charger or spare battery.

e-Readers such as the Nook Glowlight, Kindle Paperwhite or Kobo Aura were designed to last a really long time. You could basically read every single day for a few hours and it will last about a month

It is all about the screen technology that powers the readers that make them last so long. e-Ink was designed to only draw power when the screen is refreshed. It draws no power when you are simply reading.

Reading in the Sun is Glorious

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I am sure everyone has run into the situation where you need to hunt around for a bit of shade and get out of direct sunlight. LCD screens tend to reflect light like nobodies business because the average screen has multiple layers.

Take the iPad for example, it has an in-plane switching (IPS), light-emitting diode (LED), liquid crystal display (LCD) that produces crisp, clear colors under normal conditions. It’s not laminated the same way the iPhone screen is, so it’s even slightly more reflective when it catches rays.

When it comes down to it most smartphones and tablets have a glossy screen. I believe most e-ink screens are optimized for a matte screen, which allows our eyes to relax in a more natural state. E-paper is not reflective by nature, so even under direct sunlight you can read a book perfectly, ideal for the beach.

Reading in the Dark is Rad – Tablets, well they might kill you

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When it comes to reading in the dark people often use their tablets or smartphones. This is one of the worst things you could possibly do.

If person uses any type of tablet that has a backlit screen, such as the iPad or Kindle Fire in the dark,  it can suppress the release of melatonin.  So what is melatonin and why is it a big deal? Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland at night and under conditions of darkness in both diurnal and nocturnal species. It is a “timing messenger,” signaling nighttime information throughout the body. Exposure to light at night, especially short-wavelength light, can slow or even cease nocturnal melatonin production. Suppression of melatonin by light at night results in circadian disruption and has been implicated in sleep disturbances, increased risk for diabetes and obesity, as well as increased risk for more serious diseases, such as breast cancer, if circadian disruption occurs for many consecutive years, such as in night shift workers.

Reading at night is hardly advisable on a tablet, but is better with an e-reader. Most modern devices from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Onyx and Icarus all have front-lit display screens. Instead of the light emitting from behind the screen, like a tablet, the light stems from small LED lights on the bottom of the bezel that shine upwards. This gives you even light distribution across the entire screen,  illuminating all of the text.

e-Readers are Durable

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Let me be perfectly honest. I have a really expensive tablet, that cost over $1,100. When I bring it out in public it is hard to really enjoy it because I am so worried I might drop it on the floor, it might get pinched or I simply am absent minded and will lose it. So when it comes down to it, I often just leave it at home, instead of bringing it out. Same with vacations, its hard to chill by the pool or go on hikes and have it get wet or exposed to the elements.

e-Readers are fairly low cost. You could get a top of the line mode for under $129 and it could take more of a beating than tablets ever could. On our Youtube Channel we have done drop tests with most e-readers released in the last three years, they all survived. This is because they don’t have glass, they use e-paper and most of the bodies are high grade plastic. Tablets do have glass and they break or chip really easy. I mean, how many people have you seen out in public with broken iPhone screens because they fell a few feet and hit the concrete?

Wrap up

When it comes right down to  it, e-readers are far superior in battery life, are inexpensive and can take a beating. They are simply not a target for thieves and you can feel free to bring it during your commute, without people sizing you up.

Reading for long durations on an ereader is very easy on the eyes and studies have proven that tablets are really bad.

Have I missed anything? What do you guys prefer to read on, phones, tablets or e-readers?

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Any author, traditionally published or indie, can tell you that one of the hardest parts of the business side of being an author is finding genuine promotion opportunities that give authors a real sense of reader engagement. Apart from the flood of social media requests from authors asking consumers to purchase their books, far too many authors don’t have another step in mind for creating active dialogue about their works.

That’s where sites like Bublish come in, bringing with them the opportunities for authors and readers to connect over like content and common interests in reading material. But more than just a place for discussion to happen, Bublish is also building author tools, like the ability to build an email list for targeted announcements and the chance to offer pre-orders.

Bublish, who’s known for its targeted social interaction in which authors and readers connect through book “bubbles,” recently announced it had secured a $300,000 investment in its latest round of private funding, which will allow the company to expand its current features while exploring new capabilities that put control in the authors’ hands. According to the company, this funding round will be earmarked for projects that include “developing a suite of powerful creation and book promotion tools for publishers, additional social media integrations and book distribution services, expanding marketing capabilities and reach, and increasing business development partnerships with key publishers and industry influencers.”

“This investment is a huge endorsement of the Bublish platform,” said Kathy Meis, Bublish
Founder and President. “Our capabilities consistently expand as our user base of authors and
readers continues to grow exponentially.”

Bublish has operated under its concept of “authorpreneurship,” meaning their focus is to empower authors with the equipment to not only be writers, but to be businessmen in charge of their own products as well.

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Welcome back to another Good e-Reader exclusive contest. Today we are giving away an e-reader we just found in our review labs, the Sony PRS-350.

The Sony PRS-350 and 650 were the most popular Sony e-readers the company ever produced. When they were first released on August 2010, they couldn’t keep them in stock on the retail level, due to ravenous demand.

I really liked the five inch display because it made it really pocket friendly. The resolution is 800×600 and features a touchscreen to flip the pages of your favorite book. There is no WIFI built into it, so you will have to load in your own PDF or EPUB books.

The 350 is in fairly great condition, as it was just used for the purposes of unboxing, reviewing and comparing against other readers on the market. In order to enter, you merely have to subscribe and like our YouTube channel and comment on the video, letting us know you have done all of the above.


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Amazon has just released a new firmware update for the second generation Kindle Paperwhite.  One of the big enhancements is for the PDF experience and now users will see a small preview pane on the top lefthand corner. This helps orient you when you are pinching and zooming, to insure you know were you are in the document.

When you buy physical books from Amazon, you normally have to wait a few days for it to be shipped out. Now, whenever you purchase a book, the sample eBook version will be automatically added to your library, so you can read the first few chapters.

Finally, Amazon has unveiled cross platform syncing on the last page read. This has been on their Android and iOS apps for sometime, but is now available additionally on the Paperwhite 2.

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Amazon has opened their first the Kindle Pleasure Reading House in Shanghai, China. This is a temporary autonomous pop up store that will be open from July 18 to July 20th and then August 1-3 in Beijing.

The premise of the new Reading House in China is to draw attention to their complete lineup of Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets. They also installed two machines that will give you recommendations based on your favorite books and give you the Kindle book prices online. Amazon has also filled a bookcase with over 1,000 physical books, which they are selling.

Kindle product managers are on hand to explain what the devices do and run small workshops for groups of people to get a taste of how digital books will save them money over the long term. Amazon has also setup a small darkroom, where people can try out the Kindle Paperwhite with Frontlight and also see how the tablets perform in low light conditions. Finally,  the company is running a ton of interactive games that will win people prizes of cases, books and lots more.

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Amazon first opened their Chinese bookstore in December 2012, but government regulations at the time prevented them from advertising it or selling the hardware. At the time The Director of Digital Publishing Director of Press and Publication Administration Technology Wang Qiang, said that “Amazon opened its Kindle ebook store operation with their license pending, but has not yet approved.”  All of this was sorted out within six months and now the Kindle China store currently has over 120,000 paid books and 600  classics.

China is a huge market for Amazon and many of its competitors have failed to enter the market in any meaningful way. These popup stores will at least give Amazon some exposure via the press and bloggers, something they exclusively rely on for their North American operations.

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Today Sony has begun to sell the DPT-S1 Digital Paper e-reader directly in the US. It is retailing for $1100, which is more cost effective than a few of their official distribution partners. The only catch, is that they don’t want to sell them to the average consumer.

Sony currently does not have any infrastructure to support the Digital Paper via phone, email or the internet. There simply is no way for the average person to call and have basic questions answered, such as how to load in your own PDF files. This is primarily why Sony wants to sell them to law firms and the entertainment industry, relying on their 3rd party vendors to provide all of the necessary support. Sony told Good e-Reader exclusively that “We want these to go to the right people, not just any people. We’ll definitely ask you why you’re buying this and what you’re going to use it for. This e-Reader is very expensive and we want to make sure its purchase is not going to waste.”

When calling the brand new Sony Business phone number you are basically interviewed. It is mandatory to open up an official Sony Business account and they stick with you on the phone while you receive confirmation emails. The few customer service reps Sony employs are mandated to vet prospective customers to insure they have a high level of technical knowledge and are a registered business. Corporations, LLC and sole proprietorships have the highest likelihood of being able to order a few units for themselves or co-workers. The average user will have to demonstrate that they have advanced knowledge of e-readers and won’t be bothering Sony with needless questions.

In an exclusive interview with the Sony Business Unit in the USA we asked why the device at $1100 is so expensive. They mentioned “The cost is so high because of numerous things. The first being because its writable; fully writable, huge Mobius screen, and 13 inches, that costs a lot right there. The next thing is longevity. This thing, as big as it is, has a 3 day battery life. We expect it to have that same 3 day battery life, 5 years down the road. Theres also stuff under patent, that I can’t really tell you about, but that costs a lot as well. Potential use value is another thing. This thing is THE BEST PDF device on the market right now and lawyers or university professors going through countless pages of material can be draining. This fixes all that. Also, office space is precious, and instead of having shelves and shelves of documents, this can fit it all into a thin body. This also cuts down on forests of paper being milled from trees.”

Many customers who want the Sony Digital Paper are currently flocking to Amazon, where a number of units are posted for sale. All of the units that originate from Japan, where University trials occurred last year. All of the Digital Paper e-readers available on Amazon have the Japanese firmware and do not have the ability to switch to English. Currently, there is no way for users outside of Japan to load in the English firmware and Sony verified with us they are investigating the matter. “We do not want those units to be sold bypassing our sales division.”

If you are an established company looking to buy a few Digital Papers for your business you can call the new phone number Sony launched today. 877-723-7669 Monday through Friday 8am to 6pm. It is important to note that they offer free next day shipping via FEDEX anywhere in the USA, but will not ship internationally.

Good e-Reader will have the Sony Digital Paper e-Reader in our studio next week. Expect a very comprehensive hands on review, unboxing and comparisons with other large screen e-readers on the market.

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The Tolino Alliance was formed in 2013 and their mandate was to combat Amazon in Germany. This was the first time Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, Club Bertelsmann, Deutsche Telekom banded together to forge a series of e-reading devices and launch an online bookstore. Today, the Tolino Alliance has now expanded to Belgium via Standaard Boekhandel.

Standaard Boekhandel operates 145 bookstores in Belgium, selling books, newspapers, magazines, music and videos. They will be selling the Tolino Shine e-reader in their stores in order to get people buying the hardware and then accessing the eBook store that now has close to 500,000 titles. There is currently over 22,000 Belgian titles in the online store and can be read on the Shine, and also apps for Android and iOS.

The Tolino Shine is getting a big long in the tooth, as the e-Reader is already over a year old. The most recent offering is the brand new Tolino Vision, which we reviewed recently. This reader does everything right, but is a bit more on the expensive side.

This is the first time the Tolino Alliance has expanded beyond their founding members. They said in a statement that they have selected Belgium as their first route of expansion because that market is in its infancy.

“The open system and the cloud services of Deutsche Telekom are important benefits that can help us to bring e-reading on the Belgian market,” says Geert Scot , CEO of Standaard Boekhandel, the choice of cooperation partner.

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Amazon prematurely unveiled Kindle Unlimited yesterday morning. This is a new subscription service that costs $9.99 and will allow you to read as many books as you want on a monthly basis.

Kindle Unlimited will launch with 600,000 eBook and audiobook titles. Each title will be available to read on multiple devices, such as Android and iOS. A free 30 day trial will also be available when the service launches later this year.

Major publishers such as HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster will not be contributing content with Kindle Unlimiteds launch. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos did meet with CBS CEO Leslie Moonves earlier in the week to talk about eBooks, maybe contributing backlist and midlist titles had something to do with it.

Smaller publishers will play a major role in Unlimited with Algonquin, Bloomsbury, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Open Road, Scholastic and Workman. Amazon intends on paying them a wholesale rate for each title opened and read. This direct agreement is also being made to all of the Harry Potter Books via Pottermore and also the Hunger Games Trilogy

The bulk of the 600,000 titles that are available for Unlimited will be contributing by self-published authors who enrolled in Kindle Direct Publishing Select. Writers who participate under this program will automatically be opted it and paid out whenever someone reads 10% of the book or more. The money will be paid to the authors through the one or two million dollars that is added to the KDP Select pool per month.

Existing eBook subscription sites stand to gain in the short-term as most of them will be referenced in Unlimited. Scribd, Oyster and others will be mentioned in the same sentence and they all have major publisher support. Amazon is mainly launching with smaller presses, but most of the big five all support the smaller companies with their backlist and midlist titles.

Today on the show, Michael Kozlowski and Mercy Pilkington break down all of the news from yesterday. You will get a sense on concerns indie authors have on payments and royalties. Will KDP Select be a compelling value proposition for authors, outside of the Kindle Lending Library? Finally, will Kindle offer yet another cool feature that will be the deciding factor on your next e-reader purchase?


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Icarus has refreshed their Illumina e-Reader with the same type of open Android ecosystem that Onyx Boox has implemented. Users will be able to install their own apps, which is a boon to anyone who wants more flexibility over the reading apps they want to install.

The new Illumina e-reader changed the design a bit from its previous generation, getting rid of the d-Pad and most physical buttons. Instead the Dutch company went with physical page turn buttons and a settings/back button on the side of the unit.

The Illumina  features a six inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024×758 pixels. It has a front-light built into the top of the bezel and will basically allow you to read in the dark. It has 4 LED lights and distributes light fairly evenly.

Underneath the hood is a 1GHZ dual core  processor and 512 MB of RAM. You will have 4 GB of internal storage and you can boost it up to 32 GB via the Micro SD. One of the most interesting aspects of this e-reader is the ability to play sound. You can load in your favorite audiobooks and listen to them with your headphones. This is no built in speaker and the music app won’t even open unless you have your cans plugged in. It supports a myriad of formats, including: Flac, AAC, mp3, Wav, WMA, and OGG.

Unlike the previous Illumina e-reader this model has an open version of Android. It will ship with 4.2.2, which will insure that most modern apps will be compatible. Onyx Boox is currently the only other e-reader to include Android on their current generation lineup, but it suffers from an older version, 2.3

It will be very interesting to see if Icarus can solve some of the major bugs that accompany page turn animations with an e-ink screen. This is something Onyx has been unable to solve and makes their devices unusable.

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We are starting to see a number of new devices hit the market with a secondary screen built into the phone or a case that has an optional one. The Yotaphone, Pocketbook and Pixel QI have all offered a wide array of concept pieces that have failed to takeoff in a meaningful way. A new Kickstarter campaign is ongoing for a second generation InkCase that has hit their funding target a few days into the program.

Following the success of the acclaimed InkCase, the second generation InkCase Plus now packs more power as a modular second screen for Android smartphones. With the new ability to install apps, InkCase Plus has become the converged multifunctional second screen for E Ink devices; just like the smartphone for communication and personal devices.

The InkCase could be used as a secondary screen for your Android device or used as the primary one. There are a few core functions that this accessory excels at, maps, reading, images, SMS Messaging, pick up incoming calls, and controlling  your music.

InkCase Plus is a fairly interesting concept with physical buttons to allow for easy access to pickup a call or snap a picture. I think the future of e-Book Reading accessories is sound, but its important for the device to function autonomously and not exclusively rely on you having a smartphone.

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Scribd has been in development overdrive the last few months, revising the core reading experience in their seminal iOS and Android apps. They have also been quietly refining their first offering for Windows Phone 8. All mobile applications now have a unified experience which will immerse users who have multiple phones and tablets in the household.

With the launch of the Windows app, paired with existing apps for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire and Nook tablets, Scribd has been downloaded more than 6 million times — placing it on more devices in more countries than any other subscription book service. This latest endeavor is part of the company’s overarching global commitment to getting people to read more.

“Scribd’s mission is simple,” said Julie Haddon, Vice President of Marketing at Scribd. “We’re empowering people to read more. We’re celebrating this milestone of launching apps on six platforms with a new campaign called ‘Read More.’”

The updates for Android and new Windows app are available now and can be download from Good e-Reader and the Windows app store. The update for iOS will be live in the Apple App Store in the coming days.

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