Archive for Kindle
Kindle is already one of the most frequently used digital reading apps available for iOS, boasting access to over 1,000,000 books in the Kindle store in addition to hundreds of newspapers and magazines. While the existing interface was clean and easy to use, Amazon has implemented a number of updates in version 4.4 that promise to make sync and navigation easier.
One of the handiest new features is the ability to sync to the most recent page read. This means that all of your devices (whether they are iOS, Android or any device using the reading app and registered to your Amazon account) will agree on the last page you actually read (instead of just the furthest page). This is incredibly convenient when you read books like I do –needing to jump backward to remind yourself of past happenings in the volume and then continue from where you were.
Placeholders are also new, allowing you to flip around and explore new areas of your book without changing your current bookmark.
Finally, notes export is a fantastic tool for students and researchers alike. As you are reading, highlighting, and making notes, you can then email these items to yourself. Features like this are critical if electronic books are ever going to fully replace paper textbooks in classrooms.
If you are using an iPad or iPhone, you can download Kindle for your iOS device for free from the Apple App Store. If you are using an Android device, you can download Amazon Kindle (though you won’t see these latest updates in this version just yet).
The Transportation Security Administration has announced that e-readers must be turned on when going through customs for travelers taking international flights headed to the US. They are concerned that your trusty Kindle may be hollowed out and explosives planted within.
“During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones,” the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said in a post on its website. It warned: “Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveller may also undergo additional screening.”
US officials are providing extra screening for flights originating from the United Kingdom, Europe and Africa. They are mostly concerned about intelligence originating from Syria and Yemen that they have developed bombs that could be placed in mobile telephones and e-readers to avoid detection to bring down aircraft bound for America.
Travelers are implored to make sure that your phone or e-reader are turned on when going through customs. If they are out of batteries or turned off completely you could be in for secondary screening and possibly can miss your flight.
The new U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, Suzi LeVine took a novel approach to her swearing in ceremony. While Vice President Joe Biden administered the oath, Suzi had her trusty Kindle open to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which in 1920 guaranteed women the right to vote.
This is the first time ever that an e-reader was used in a swearing in ceremony for a public official. It will be interesting to see if this will start to catch on in the courtroom or other public appointments.
Everybody likes to get a good deal, which is why the bundle being offered by Amazon right now is especially attractive. With that extra $249 in your pocket, you can own Amazon’s brand new Fire TV as well as a 7″ Kindle Fire HDX tablet: consider it the Android accessory pack for those of you who only have a smartphone so far (or a starter pack for those who may have iPhones).
The two products are a very natural pairing given how seamlessly they work together. Even beyond the Fire TV being able to be controlled from within an app on the tablet, use the X-Ray feature to do your research on the movie or TV show you are watching or Fling media (TV shows, movies, music) to your television.
It isn’t known for certain whether this bargain is due to poor sales of the recently launched Fire TV (from April, 2014) or a smart move towards gaining market share, but it is certainly good incentive for anybody who was on the fence as to whether or not to buy one.
When we first saw the Kindle Cloud Reader, it was clear that it would be something special. Built in response to Apple charging 30% on all titles purchased using their app, the Kindle Cloud Reader allows you to purchase e-books and store them in the cloud for easy syncing with any of your devices with an Internet web browser. With a rather quiet launch, this browser-based reading app is now compatible with local Kindle stores worldwide!
Unfortunately, Kindle Cloud Reader still doesn’t offer support for personal documents.
Cloud-based reading apps are still in their infancy, and most consider them a back-up method of reading (as opposed to the native apps on every device)… But for those frequently on the move or using a large number of devices, a cloud reader gives them an option for consistency of interface and ease of use.
Amazon normally refreshes their entire product line every single year in September. The current generation HD and HDX tablets are getting a bit long in the tooth, but are still considered very viable tablets. Currently Amazon is in the hardware stage where they are deciding what processors they are going to employ in the 2014 edition of the Kindle family. We now have confirmation from many sources that Amazon is going with the Mediatek processor for their entry model Kindle Fire HD.
Amazon has employed a very interesting strategy in their last two generations of Android driven tablets. They normally release an HD version of their 7 and 8.9 models with higher specs and an entry level edition that they can appeal to people who don’t want to spend a lot. The current models Amazon sells is the Amazon Kindle HDX 7, Kindle HDX 8.9 and the entry level Kindle Fire HD. The HDX product line is currently using the Snapdragon processors, while the Kindle Fire HD uses a dual-core Texas Instructions version. In order to market a budget tablet and keep the cost down to around $129 it is important to use cost efficient components.
Amazon will be selecting China based MediaTek to power their entry level Kindle HD 7 refresh later in the year. The company successfully convinced Amazon that they are ready for prime time and used the new deal they signed with Google, for for Nexus tablet revamp as leverage. No one seems to know what the new processor will be, but there are rumors that it will be the new MT8135 quad-core that went into production late last year.
Amazon bashing is nothing new, and it’s certainly a popular topic at events where publishers have an open format to discuss the state of the industry. But what does it say about a company when its current most vocal critic is himself called a string of names in the industry and is at the seat of controversy at every turn?
Literary agent Andrew Wylie of the Andrew Wylie Literary Agency is known as “The Jackal” in the publishing industry, and that’s when the people who are disparaging him are feeling generous. Long accused of “poaching” authors away from other agencies or publishers, Wylie has a decidedly unapologetic stance when it comes to offering his clients–and apparently, the clients of other people–a deal that allows them to continue to write and support themselves well.
But Wylie, who was in Argentina for the Buenos Aires Book Fair last week, brought a decidedly painful message to the country: Beware of Amazon. According to an article for the Buenos Aires Herald, Wylie spoke out at the event and to reporters on Amazon’s predatory behavior, citing specifically the alleged wrongdoing that five of the then-Big Six publishers were accused of. Those accusations led to most of the publishers settling out of court in order to avoid even more costly legal fees, a factor that Wylie says Amazon played a part in by providing documents to the Department of Justice at the time.
This is an interesting turnaround for Wylie, who launched a digital imprint in 2010 with the express purpose of selling titles strictly through Amazon’s Kindle platform. Of course, only last fall Wylie gave an interview to the New Republic that called Kindle users “fools” and warned publishers to take their titles off of Amazon so that fewer fools had the opportunity to read them.
But even if Wylie has a point and takes it upon himself to embark on a global mission to warn new markets of Amazon’s practices, will anyone listen? Or is it too little, too late for people who feel as Wylie does, that Amazon is seeking to destroy publishing in the same way that Wylie stated Apple destroyed the music industry? However the industry chooses to listen or not, no one can say the Jackal sat by and did nothing will Amazon marched forward on its global domination quest.
When you think of e-readers the Amazon Kindle edition has been the most ubiquitous. Since 2007 the Kindle has been selling like hotcakes and selling out within a few hours of the official launch. Today, we look at the devices, packaging and promotional materials that have assisted Amazon in controlling most of the eBook market worldwide and being the dominant player in hardware.
The Kindle 1
The first generation Kindle e-reader was made by LAB126, the braintrust that has developed every single tablet and e-reader ever made by Amazon. It was released in 2007 retailed for $399 and sold out within 5 hours of being available to order. The demand was so high that people couldn’t even order it for a further five months.
One of the big hyping factors about this e-reader was the fact it had free 3G internet access to buy books on the go. It also had an SD Card, the only Amazon product ever to do so. It was only available in the US, because international carriers would not give heavily subsidized internet access away to make it viable to buy books, which limited the global impact.
Amazon Kindle 2
Amazon saved on the packaging on the second generation Kindle e-Reader by gravitating towards recycling based cardboard. It was half the size of the original which allows Amazon to store twice as many in their warehouses using the same amount of space.
The Kindle 2 hit the market in February of 2009 for a fairly expensive price point of $359 dollars. It was the first e-reader to have the text-to-speech option to read the text aloud. Amazon decided to forgo the inclusion of the SD card, because it kept prices down in this era.
To promote the new Kindle, author Stephen King made UR, his then-new novella, available exclusively through the Kindle Store. On October 22, 2009, Amazon stopped selling the original Kindle 2 in favor of the international version it had introduced earlier in the month. On November 24, 2009, Amazon released a firmware update for the Kindle 2 that it said increased battery life by 85% and introduced native PDF support.
Amazon Kindle DX
Amazon took a departure from the standard six e-reader and took the risk to release the 9.7 Kindle DX on July 1 2010. It was the slimmest device they have issued to date. It was able to read native PDF files right out of the box and was marketed towards people who needed to read newspapers and magazines.
Originally at launch it was only able to connect in the US, and international users had to wait once more for the international edition which launched in 100 different countries on January 19, 2010.
At launch, it was very expensive, retailing for $489, which put it out of reach of the average consumer. It was relegated to being a niche product for people who needed it for specific purposes.
Kindle 2 international version
A few short months later in October 2009, Amazon finally brought more carriers involved and issued an international edition. It was able to download eBooks via 3G internet access in 100 different countries. The international Kindle 2 is physically very similar to the US model, the only thing that was different was the different network it was using.
As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explained it “The two Kindles are identical, except for the radio.” The new device does not sync with Sprint, which was previously the exclusive supplier for Amazon’s Whispernet technology. Instead, it works with AT&T’s wireless network, which has the global reach that Amazon needs for its international plans.
Amazon Kindle DX Graphite
On July 1, 2010, Amazon released the Kindle DX Graphite, a revision of the DX. As well as dropping the price from $489 to $379, the new Kindle DX has an E Ink display with 50% better contrast ratio (due to new E Ink Pearl technology) and comes only in a “graphite” case color. It is speculated the case color change is to improve contrast ratio perception further, as some users found the prior white casing highlighted that the E Ink background is light gray and not white.
This e-reader came with the same free 3G internet access as prior models and also featured text to speech and a built in audio player. Users could hit the spacebar and ALT key to start an audiobook or music file.
This e-reader did not sell well at all, and was discontinued in early 2012. A year later Amazon started selling them again at the low price of $199 and finally laid it to rest in May 2014. “With regards to the Kindle DX, Amazon vice president Jay Marine said “we are pretty much done with it.”
The DX was always a very solid device but always was the odd man out in terms of software enhancements. It never got X-Ray, Whispersync for Voice or GoodReads. The software was really basic and not much changed in the 5 years that it was sold online.
Kindle 3 – the Kindle Keyboard
The Kindle Keyboard marked the first time Amazon offered a cheaper WIFI alternative in conjunction with their 3G model. The WIFI hit the market for $139, while the free 3G model was $189, which also included WIFI. This was one of the cheapest e-readers ever and really boosted sales and finally made the mass market embrace reading digitally.
When the Keyboard Kindle came out, this was the high point of the e-reader industry where close to 12 million units shipped out globally in 2010, which was a 40% increase over the 2009 figures. In late January 2011, Amazon announced that digital books were outselling their traditional print counterparts for the first time ever on its site, with an average of 115 Kindle editions being sold for every 100 paperback editions.
In order to facilitate more sales Amazon augmented the firmware in May 2011 to include the “Special Offers” program. This subsidized the cost by $20 and displayed advertisements on the homescreen and screensaver. Special Offers became a staple in all future products, giving away a way to make money with sponsors and affiliates and build the framework for their own in-house advertising system.
Kindle 4 – Kindle Basic Edition
The 4th generation Kindle departed away from the physical keyboard in a bid to make a smaller device. Instead of physical keys, Amazon made a software driven keyboard that was accessible via the D-Pad. This new Kindle is the lightest one ever and feels noticeably different from the 3rd generation models. Amazon claims this edition is 30% lighter and it does fit into your pocket, unlike prior models.
The Basic Kindle started the trend of abandoning audio functionality and the quintessential 3.5 mm headphone jack. There was no 3G variant of this model, and all of these factors allowed the entry level price to be $79 when it was released September 28, 2011.
Amazon Kindle Touch
The Kindle Touch was released in September 28, 2011 and it was a milestone achievement for the company. It did away with physical page turn buttons and incorporated a touchscreen for the very first time. Smartphones and tablets were starting to become very popular around this time and the touchscreen was an easy adjustment for the majority of customers.
On the back of the device on a slanted edge are the two stereo speakers, which is refreshing since the Amazon Kindle 4th generation was billed as budget reader and did not have any audio functionality at all. The sound is very solid and I found it was a significant upgrade from previous iterations of the Kindle. I also loved the fact that the speakers were not on the physical back of the unit where your hands might cover it up. It is in a fine position to always give you a great audio experience.
The Kindle Touch introduced X-Ray, a fabulous new addition that taps into crowd sourcing and gives you a massive list of central characters to any given book and how often they are referenced. When you open up a book, such as Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, and tap on the X-Ray button, it gives you a massive list of all of the main and tertiary characters. It lists them from most referenced to least and gives you a small graph on how much they are talked about during the book. If you click on a particular character name you are greeted with a small biography of the character and then a chronological listing of a small paragraph of text citing the context in which all of these references were used. Not only can you do this with characters, but also specific events or other tangibles that are mentioned throughout the book. X-Ray really made Amazon stand out from the competition and set the stage for X-Ray for Movie for their Kindle Fire.
The Kindle – 5th Generation Amazon Kindle
The 5th generation Amazon Kindle was released in September 6, 2012 and was announced the same time as the Kindle Paperwhite. This model is still being sold today and is one of the most cost effective readers on the market at $69 ad-supported, $89 no ads. The Kindle has a black bezel (compared to the Kindle 4, which was available in silver-grey), better contrast, and hand-tuned fonts. It is claimed to have 15% faster page turns and was one of the lightest ones yet. This is as basic as it gets when it comes to e-readers with WIFI only.
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 1
Amazon started to embrace the same technology being employed by the Kobo Glo and Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight. It finally allowed people to read in the dark, without relying on ambient or a dedicated reading light. In a side by side comparison with the Kobo Glo and Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight, there is simply no contest. The Kindle Paperwhite had the best e-Reader in the business and the glowing feature that was almost pure white. Both Kobo and B&N give you a blueish tinge that sometimes gives you a weird contrast and saturation effect on cover art and images.
The Kindle Paperwhite 1 was released October 1, 2012 for $119 with no advertisements and $139 with adverts. The 3G edition sold for $179 for the Special Offers model and $199. There was simply so many different versions of this e-reader, that it appealed to a wider demographic of users.
This e-Reader is very internationally friendly and has a myriad of supported languages to customize the UI. You can set your default language to Dutch, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Chinese, and Portuguese. There is also 8 dictionaries that are automatically inserted into your Cloud account. This is tremendously useful because when you read a book, you can translate a specific word or series of words from one language into another. This is a critical new feature that will appeal towards people learning a new language or in an academic environment.
In many households there are normally one or two e-Readers and people share them with each other. There are strong parental controls on the Paperwhite that allow you to disable access to the internet, store or access to the cloud. Making your own collections further elevates this reader into a family friendly unit.
This e-reader was the first 10/10 we ever gave to an e-reader after checking out over 100 over the course of the last six years.
Kindle Paperwhite 2
The second generation Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is the most current model currently available. It was originally released in September 2013 for $119 ad-supported, $139 no ads), and the 3G/Wi-Fi version was released in the USA on November 5, 2013 ($189 ad-supported, $209 no ads).
This was the first e-reader ever to use E Ink Carta display technology, which eliminated the bothersome full page refreshes every time you turn a page in an eBook. It also employs a 1 GHZ processor and increased performance over 25% over the first generation Kindle Paperwhite.
There were a few notable software enhancements to make this device fairly compelling. The first was GoodReads integration that allowed people to add books they purchased from Amazon directly onto their shelves. It also allowed people to join virtual book clubs and discuss reading with like minded souls. The second major enhancement was Kindle Freetime which allowed parents specialized controls to create profiles for their kids and lock out specific elements, such as internet access.
One of the best aspects of the Kindle Paperwhite 2 is the overall PDF experience. You can instantly translate words and take notes, something no other e-reader allowed you to do.You can also double tap to enter a special reflow mode, which smartphone and tablet owners will find fairly intuitive. The pinching and zooming functionality is also fairly robust, but not as solid as with the Sony PRS-T3. One of the drawbacks is the absence of the preview pane when navigating a PDF while being zoomed. This is something that both Kobo and Sony have always done very well, and helps orient you on where you are at on the page.
Samsung has announced that they have reached terms with Amazon to have a custom built Kindle store for its flagship Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. The store will launch in two weeks and phone owners will be able to download 15 eBooks for free as part of the deal.
The plans for the custom version of the Kindle Store will launch exclusively for the S5 for the first few months and older phones will get the service later in the year. Samsung wants to make the new Kindle store a big selling point of the phone.
The free books will be available from a pre-determined list. Users will get four “prominent” titles a month to choose from and be able to select one to download for free and read.
Amazon already has an Android app that people all over the world use to install on their phones and tablets. The one for Samsung was built exclusively for the resolution and specific screen size. Likely, you will get a better experience with this iteration, than the stock one. Still, free books is fairly compelling and the Kindle store will be preinstalled on all S5 phones, which is good promotion for Amazon.
Kindle Direct Publishing is a self-publishing platform that individuals and small presses use to add their eBooks for sale on the Amazon bookstore. When customers purchase an authors books, normally they did not know about it until 24 hours later. Today in a bold move, Amazon has introduced live sales data that will inform authors in real time when their book is purchased.
Self-published authors can celebrate as Amazon introduced a brand new Sales Dashboard on the KDP Reports page to give you up-to-date reporting of paid, borrowed and free orders as they are placed in Kindle stores worldwide. The new dashboard also helps you track royalties earned as payments are processed for these orders.
You can filter the Sales Dashboard and Sales & Royalty Report by title, marketplace, and timeframe. The information you currently receive in the Prior Six Weeks’ Royalties reports is now available in the new Sales Dashboard and Sales & Royalty Report.
One of the great elements about the new dashboard is the immediate feedback for authors engaged in a marketing campaign. You will be able to track sales for just that book for a set number of days while you’re running the campaign, and decide if it was worth the effort or not.
Amazon has come up with an update to its Kindle app for Android. The update doesn’t introduce any new fancy features but brings about some interesting enhancements to the existing set up. The changes include the introduction of several new fonts to choose from, along with easy access to the table of contents when reading a particular book. The update also promises faster cover loading along with automatic brightness control. The issue of using the volume buttons for page turning has also been overhauled so that it now allows for better and more refined control.
Amazon rolled out an installment plan for a single tablet last December. It allowed users to make a small down payment and then a series of monthly payments until the balance was paid off. It looks like Amazon was happy with the way it all turned out, because they are making it a regular feature across their entire product line of Kindles.
Residents of the USA can put a down payment of 1/5 of the total cost of the Kindle Fire HDX or the Kindle Paperwhite. After it’s shipped out, you simply have to make a series of 5 small payments.
The basic Kindle can be yours for a minimum payment of $13.99 a month, which is something any kid can afford with a paper route or selling lemonade. To be eligible for this offer, you must reside in the United States of America, your Amazon.com account must have been active for at least two years and you must have a valid credit card associated with your Amazon.com account that expires no earlier than June 30, 2014. Residents of Florida and the District of Columbia are not eligible for this offer.