Amazon is one of those companies that never divulges specific dollar amounts or how many eBooks they have sold. During the holiday season last year they strayed from the normal PR blackouts and proclaimed that tens of millions of members were members of Prime. This got annalists salivating, and we now have potential figures that give us an accurate portrayal of Amazon Primes worldwide numbers.
RBC Capital conducted a research note yesterday and Mark Mahaney said RBC is now estimating that 30 million and 40 million in the U.S. and 40 million to 50 million globally are members of Amazon Prime. Most of this data comes from a new survey that RBC conducted from 4,000 Amazon customers and found that 37% were current Prime members.
According to a recent survey by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners The Amazon Prime has become a significant drivers of Amazon sales, even in light of the recent Amazon Prime price increase from $79 to $99. That means by 2016, the $20 price bump could generate incremental revenue of as much as $1.7 billion. “Prime members spend twice as much, as the rest of Amazon’s customers,” said CIRP co-founder Mike Levin.
The summer of 2014 saw many new e-readers get released and some old favorites get used on the beach and cottage. Today, we take a look at the top five e-readers that either came out during the summer or remained perennial favorites.
A few days ago Good e-Reader broke the news that there was a 10 page note taking limit on the Sony Digital Paper DPTS1 e-reader. This prevents people from making a note from scratch and going beyond 10 pages. Today, Sony has responded to this limitation with a promise that a future firmware update will remedy it and also provided us with a 25 page PDF document, that can be used to bypass the limitation.
“Sony is highly aware of the 10 page limitation and we already have plans to address this limitation in a forthcoming release of firmware which will be available toward the end of the year. Users will no longer be limited to 10 pages of notes. The improvement will be available to everyone via Over The Air update (or by connecting Digital Paper via USB to the computer).” said a Sony rep.
Ray Zwiefelhofer and his team at Worlddox has done some experimentation and they have developed some fun forms and other features from which Sony Digital Paper users might enjoy http://www.worldox.com/products/sony_digital_paper_tools and if you are looking for a 25 page PDF that can be used to take bigger notes, you can download it from HERE.
With the arrival of iOS 8, apps are starting to release updates to take advantage of the new features. Instapaper is no exception, adding several new features this week but also moving to a freemium business model. What this means for users is that the universal iOS app can now be downloaded for free –with the old subscription package being renamed to Instapaper Premium.
Reviewing a list of the new key features should persuade you that Instapaper continues to be a productivity app leader:
– Now featuring text-to-speech (using Apple’s text-to-speech synthesizer) will let you listen to saved articles while on the go. Consider this a way of making custom curated podcasts from the news you are interested in knowing but wish you had the time to read.
– Save an article with a single tap (functionality that the Android and web versions of the app have enjoyed previously, but was noticeably absent in the iOS version until now)
– Unified browse brings articles from your favourite editors or friends into a single feed
– Link to your friends’ profiles based on the articles that they like
– View your article saves from today which will now appear in the Notification Center (and read with a single tap)
Once you give Instapaper a try, you will likely agree that a Premium subscription is worth the price of admission (currently listed at $2.99 per month or $29.99 per year). Premium members will enjoy unlimited highlights (free users only get 5 highlights per month) and text-to-speech playlists of saved articles.
If you happen to be an existing subscriber, you will be automatically upgraded to the new premium service at your current rate. If you purchased Instapaper in the past, you will enjoy a free month of premium service as compensation.
Barnes and Noble has just removed the ability to download eBooks that you have bought from the online Nook Store. They did this so users could not download purchased content locally on their PC and either strip it of the encryption or use a 3rd party reading app.
The Barnes and Noble customer care division has sent out a tweet, letting people know that this is their new policy and not a bug. “The ability to sideload NOOK purchased content has been discontinued. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”
If you own a Nook e-reader or tablet, you will continue to enjoy purchasing and reading books right on your device. Ditto for people who use the official Nook app for Windows, Android or iOS. This issue mainly affects people who use an internet web-browser and accesses their Nook Library. In the past, a download option would appear, but now this has been removed.
There are some rare cases where select eBook titles still have the download button, but include the text “We’re working on making this title available on NOOK for Web. In the meantime, read it on our free NOOK Reading Apps.” I also confirmed that graphic novels still have the download button, because they are currently incompatible with the Nook for Web HTML5 based e-reading app.
The elimination of downloading titles to your PC will mainly effect the “power users” that tend to use 3rd party e-reading apps for their mobile devices or strip the DRM completely and bypass Nook security.
Barnes and Noble is currently in the process of totally revising their website for purchasing content and also the way Nook books are presented. In early 2015 it will be formally unveiled and likely this change to downloading content is likely a precursor to reading everything exclusively online.
Amazon has updated their Kindle e-reading app for iOS and added a ton of new features to take advantage of the new iOS 8 that was released yesterday. It makes reading multiple books easier with the handy Kindle Today Widget. Customers also get the ability to copy passages from their books and paste them into text messages, e-mail, and other applications on iOS outside of Kindle. Readers who encounter words or phrases in other languages can quickly comprehend the author’s meaning with a convenient translation feature.
Kindle Today Widget (iOS 8 only) – Multi-book readers can now surf between books from anywhere on the device by pulling down the ‘Today’ view and tapping on one of the three titles in the Kindle Widget. They can choose from their most recently opened library titles, like the ‘jump’ function on a TV remote.
Copy & Paste – Customers asked and we listened. Version 4.5 includes the ability to copy passages from your books and add them to the iOS clipboard for pasting into a text message, e-mail, social media, or other iOS applications outside of Kindle.
Smart Lookup Translation Card – Authors often include phrases in other languages to add depth or meaning to a story. Readers can now get a full understanding by selecting the word or phrase and viewing the translation card.
iOS 8 support, bug fixes, and stability improvements.
Amazon has enhanced their operating system to pave the way for the new line of Fire tablets. It is entitled Sangria and upgrades the Android OS to Kitcat and packs a number of money functions.
The latest version of Fire OS, “Sangria,” continues Fire OS’ content-forward user interface that delivers easy and fast access to your favorite books, songs, videos, and games—open them with one tap rather than hunting through folders and apps. Fire OS 4 updates the visual design of the UI and adds Profiles so each family member can have their own individual email, Facebook and Twitter accounts, settings such as display brightness, bookmarks, spot in a movie, and game levels.
Fire OS 4 is based on KitKat and adds features and services to make it faster and easier to use. For example, Fire OS includes ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) which predicts the movies and TV episodes you’ll want to watch and starts them instantly, and Smart Suspend develops a device-specific profile for when the tablet is typically not in use and proactively turns wireless off and on to deliver up to 25% more standby battery life.
Fire OS is not just a device OS—it deeply integrates with the Amazon cloud to further improve performance and ease-of-use, to enable cross-platform syncing, and to power services that require more processing than is possible on a mobile device. Examples of new cloud services in Fire OS 4 include Family Library so you can share your apps, games, audiobooks, books, and Prime Instant Video content with other members of your household; Firefly so you can identify and take action on artwork, text, and audio instantly—available for over 100 million items; and free unlimited storage in Cloud Drive for photos taken on Fire devices.
Amazon has revised their HDX 8.9 inch tablet with a brand new version of 2014. It has a startlingly light design and stunning HDX display with a new, more powerful processor, exclusive Dolby Atmos and the latest Dolby Audio, and all-new Fire OS 4 “Sangria” features and services.
The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 2014 edition has a capacitive touchscreen display with resolution of 2560 X 1600 and features exceptional pixel density (over 4 million pixels, 339 ppi) for vivid, lifelike images.
Fire HDX 8.9 features an 8MP rear-facing camera that allows for high-resolution photos and 1080p HD video. The rear camera includes an LED flash, Electronic Image Stabilization to remove hand jitters, a wide-aperture lens, and support for panorama and High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging. The front facing 720p HD camera, perfect for Skype HD video calls and taking photos to share via Facebook or email.
Underneath the hood is a Quad-core 2.5 GHz processor, Dual band WIFI, and comes in 16, 32, or 64 GB variants. Even with a faster, more power-hungry processor, Fire HDX delivers incredible battery life—up to 12 hours of reading, surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching videos, and listening to music—without adding weight or thickness to the design. The new Fire HDX also has weeks of standby battery life, so you don’t have to worry about waking up in the morning to find your tablet battery depleted because you forgot to plug it in. This standby battery life is made possible by combining power-efficient hardware components, low-level software improvements, and a new feature called Smart Suspend. Smart Suspend develops a device-specific profile for when the tablet is typically not in use and proactively turns wireless off and on to save power. Smart Suspend will still turn on Wi-Fi periodically to fetch new emails or app notifications, so when you pick up your tablet it’s ready to go and up to date.
There are a number of new software enhancements that make the new 8.9 HDX a compelling tablet. If you are tired of waiting for a video to buffer every time you hit “Play.” a new service called Advanced Streaming and Prediction learns what movies and shows you like and gets them ready for you to watch. The more you view videos on your Fire tablet, the more accurate ASAP becomes, dynamically adapting to your viewing habits. It also has a custom variant of Firefly, which was the main selling point of the Fire Phone.
The new Fire HDX is available for pre-order starting today for just $379
Amazon has unveiled a new brand entry level Kindle model for $79 that should appeal towards gift buyers and the price conscious. For the first time ever, the basic model Kindle will forgo the D-PAD and include a touchscreen.
The all-new Kindle includes a 20% faster processor, twice the storage, and now features a touch interface and all of the latest features customers love about Kindle, including Kindle FreeTime, Goodreads, and Smart Lookup. The new Kindle is small, light, and portable—toss it in a beach bag or put it in a pocket to always have your reading with you. The new Kindle is great for anyone who’s new to e-reading.
Most of the advancements other than the touchscreen have to do with new software driven features. You can see at a glance how long it will take to finish a chapter or book with Time to Read. It is completely personalized based on your reading speed, and is constantly updated as your speed and habits change. Word Wise, available on many popular English language titles, makes it easier to enjoy and quickly understand more challenging books. Short and simple definitions automatically appear above difficult words, so you can keep reading with fewer interruptions. Tap on a word to bring up a simple card with definitions, synonyms, and more. You can adjust the number of hints you see with a simple slider. In the next few weeks About the Book will be pushed via a firmware update that will let you see information about the book as you start to read, including its place in a series and author information, plus mark it as “Currently Reading” on Goodreads.
We don’t know much about the internal specs, but unlike the Kindle Voyage this model is employing an e-Ink Pearl screen and Neonode IR Touch. The new Kindle is available for pre-order today for $79 for the special offers variant and $99 without it. They will begin shipping in October.
The Amazon Kindle Voyage was leaked earlier in the day and now it has been officially unveiled and it seems like the best e-reader ever made.
The new Voyage e-reader features a six inch capacitive touchscreen display with the latest generation e-Ink Carta. It has an adaptive front light that adjusts automatically, 300 ppi, optimized font technology, 16-level gray scale. I really liked the fact that the screen is flush with the bezel, all prior Kindle models have a sunken screen. This means that Amazon has fully abandoned Neonode IR Touch technology for their flagship e-reader model.
Instead of physical page turn buttons, the new Kindle Voyage has a feature called PagePress. This is a custom-designed force sensor made of carbon and silver, which reacts to a subtle increase of pressure, triggers a page-turn, and provides a haptic response only your thumb can perceive. Because PagePress has no moving parts, the haptics provide you with the most minimal indication that you have pressed the button, to reduce distraction from reading.
Apparently the front-lit technology has undergone a radical advancement, and the Kindle Paperwhite 2 had the best one in the business? How could Amazon top it? They mentioned “in order to more closely resemble reading on real paper, we researched and hand-tuned the optimal brightness setting for every lighting condition. The new adaptive front light automatically adjusts the brightness of the display based on your environment, and can even be fine-tuned further to your personal preferences. When reading in the dark, the adaptive front light slowly lowers the display’s brightness over time to match the way the eye responds to darkness.”
Most of the enhancements on the new Kindle Voyage have to do with the new software features. You can see at a glance how long it will take to finish a chapter or book with Time to Read. It is completely personalized based on your reading speed, and is constantly updated as your speed and habits change. Word Wise, available on many popular English language titles, makes it easier to enjoy and quickly understand more challenging books. Short and simple definitions automatically appear above difficult words, so you can keep reading with fewer interruptions. Tap on a word to bring up a simple card with definitions, synonyms, and more. You can adjust the number of hints you see with a simple slider. In the next few weeks About the Book will be pushed via a firmware update that will let you see information about the book as you start to read, including its place in a series and author information, plus mark it as “Currently Reading” on Goodreads.
There is no word yet on hardware specs, such as the processor and RAM. It does have 4 GB internal storage in the stock configureration and is available in the WIFI or 3G variants. Pre-orders are available now and it starts shipping in October.
Amazon has realized that making tablets geared towards kids is big business. Samsung, V.Tech, Fisher Price and a number of other entrants consistently release new hardware with bright, bubbly interfaces and are aimed primarily at the little ones. In order combat these companies, Amazon has just unveiled the Fire HD Kids Edition.
The Fire HD Kids edition comes in two different sizes and price points. You will lay down $149 for a 6” tablet and $189 for a 7” and both come with an unlimited two year warranty, because kids break stuff right? Parents will also be able to choose between three different colors, blue, green and pink.
The Fire HD Kids tablet comes with the same hardware internals as the HD6 and HD7 tablets announced today. It has a different interface and comes with a kid-Proof Case is designed to be the perfect solution for parents who need worry-free protection against drops, bumps, and the typical mayhem caused by kids at play. Designed to be durable and lightweight, the Kid-Proof Case fits perfectly in little hands without adding unnecessary weight to your Fire HD tablet.
Fire HD Kids Edition comes with Amazon FreeTime, which offers innovative parental controls that encourage learning before play and that help manage screen time. With FreeTime, you select all of the content your kids can see, and you can limit your kids’ screen time by content type—for example, you may choose to limit videos and games, but make reading time unlimited. FreeTime blocks stores and in-app payments, so you don’t have to worry about additional expenses. There is currently 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games—at no additional cost available.