Kindle

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It didn’t take long after the launch of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service for the outcry to begin, but unlike other criticisms the retail book giant has weathered, this one came from its most staunch supporters: self-published authors. With the announcement that all KDP Select titles would be included in the all-you-can-eat service, authors were initially excited about the prospect of a new revenue channel from the exclusive program; it didn’t take long, though, before some of the top names in self-publishing noticed a significant drop in their KDP-based income.

Critics were quick to point fingers at Amazon with claims that the empire was turning on its own support base, but that’s turning out not to be the case.

At last week’s Digital Book World event, Amazon’s senior vice president of Kindle Russ Grandinetti spoke candidly about Amazon’s support for unlimited ebook consumption, and explained the clear path that the company will take for the model.

“We can all observe the fact, that in every single digital media category, subscriptions are playing an important role. In music, in movies, in newspapers—you cannot find a digital medium where subscription isn’t a model that succeeds at some level, and I don’t think books will be immune to this. [We] need to think about how subscription could be a great value for the customers.”

While Netflix and Amazon have offered both unlimited movie and television streaming as well as original programming without much backlash from content producers, newspapers through companies like Issuu, Zinio, and Magzter have provided digital newspaper and magazine reading with unlimited consumption pricing plan options.

One of the chief drawbacks to the adoption of subscription reading, Grandinetti believes, is that ebook sales are currently doing really well. On the other hand, ebook subscription platforms like Rooster see unlimited content for one continuous low price as more media than most readers can handle; Rooster offered a cheaper alternative to subscription reading that provided less content for a lower cost, appealing to those readers who were honest enough with themselves to say that they wouldn’t reap enough benefit in terms of amount of content to justify the higher price.

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The Kindle Keyboard is close to five years old and Amazon is still supporting it. The Seattle based company has just issued a new firmware update that seeks to resolve a security issue with the internet browser.

The vulnerability with the internet browser stems from accessing online content utilizing the 3G connection. Modern websites often have heavier security credentials when it comes to accessing email or using the login forms. The Kindle Keyboard had used an antiquated version of security, which resulted in this e-reader getting locked out and not being able to connect to certain sites.

The very small update that is currently available resolves this issue, the exact version number is 3.4.1. If you are having problems connecting to the internet I would recommend you download the firmware update manually. It can sometimes takes months for updates to hit all devices, because Amazon does it in a staggered release, so millions of people aren’t doing it all at once.

The Kindle Keyboard was the last Amazon branded e-reader that used 3G to access the internet, all subsequent models use WIFI.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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The Amazon Kindle makes a great e-reader and many people tried to be good all year long so Santa would leave one under the tree. After unwrapping it and powering it on for the first time, whats next? The Amazon ecosystem is fairly extensive. Visiting the online bookstore will have a number of terms that may not make sense, Kindle Worlds, Kindle Singles and Unlimited. What does it all mean and what things should you be most concerned about?

If you have a new Kindle Paperwhite 2, Kindle Voyage, Kindle Basic Touch or a different model, you are now apart of a great new world of e-reading. Amazon has one of the most extensive and well developed ecosystems in the world, and sometimes its not immediately apparent on what they all mean.

First of all, lets understand a few elements of the UI that you need to know. Most Kindle e-readers have a built in lightning system that can be accessed by hitting the little light bulb. You can scroll up and down to find the ideal illumination settings to suit your needs.

Additionally, you might notice a little G,  this is a shortcut to access GoodReads, which is a company Amazon purchased in 2013. On a basic level, it is a book discovery and social community centered around reading. You can participate in online book clubs and add books you are currently reading to your shelf, and share it with friends. Often, like minded souls randomly connect with each other, due to the common literary interests.

Upon visiting the Kindle Store for the first time, there are a few key areas such as Kindle Unlimited, Kindle Worlds, Kindle Singles, Kindle Freetime and Kindle Exclusives. The naming conventions Amazon uses, might confuse some users, lets take a look at what they all mean.

Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, the e-book and audiobook subscription service that lets members pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited access to its catalog, of 700,0000 titles. There is a thirty day free trial and the option to pay $9.99 a month for the service.  You will find a few good reads here, including the Hunger Games series and all of the Harry Potter books. Major publishers have not committed themselves  yet, so you will find many titles by indie authors.

Amazon launched its Kindle Worlds fan fiction platform just over a year ago, and the concept has been a great success for both the rights holders who license content to the site and the fans who adore the concepts and story lines of their favorite authors.  You can think of this as an officially sanctioned service that has properties such as Vampire Diaries and GI JOE.

Launched in January 2011, Amazon.com’s Kindle Singles provides an opportunity for reading customers to find digital titles by established bestselling authors and up-and-coming writers alike that fit a very specific need. With publications whose word counts are limited to between 5,000 words and 30,000 words, Kindle Singles pieces are works that would be considered far too long for magazine space but are too short to be considered a traditional novel.  The one thing I like about Singles is their is a extensive editorial process that does not make it easy for just anymore to list their content on it. You can  insure that most of the e-Books listed in Singles are very high quality.

Kindle Freetime has been around for awhile, but is entirely new to the Kindle Voyage. It allows parents to buy into a monthly subscription program that allows their kids to download unlimited apps, games, and e-Books. The only thing you can really do on the Voyage though, is just read books. This makes it a really good investment if you own the Fire Phone or one of Amazons Fire tablets, but doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as a standalone service on the Voyage.

Kindle Exclusives feature books that are actually published with by Amazon via one of their imprints. They sign established and up and coming authors, selling the books not only on Amazons websites, but bookstores all over the world.  There are only a few hundred books listed in this section, so it should be easy to find something good and they are all affordable. Oh, and they have a fairly cool feature just for Prime members, Read Before Release. It allows you to read the book in full, a few weeks before its due out.

There are a number of cool Amazon tips that you should also be aware of. If you  own a model with a touchscreen, you can actually take screenshots. You simply have to put two fingers in opposing corners and the screen will briefly flash.  You can also use a 3rd party program called Calibre that will allow you to manually load in books that  you download from the internet. The app is available for PC and MAC and also has the ability to convert books from one format to another.

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Black Friday is two weeks away and the holiday season is quickly approaching. Amazon is bringing back a program that will allow you to try a Kindle e-Reader or Fire Tablet for free for one month. At the end of the 30 days if you do not return it, they will bill your credit card for the full purchase price, send it back before the month is over and no worries.

The latest generation Kindle Voyage and Kindle Basic Touch are not apart of this promotion. Instead, they are letting customers try the second generation Kindle Paperwhite and two tablets they released last year. Likely, this promotion is a gambit to try and get rid of older stock because the newer devices are proving to be popular.

This promotion is only valid for select Prime members in the US, international customers need not apply. You need a valid credit card as your 1 Click Purchase and you have to make sure it does not expire beyond the 30 days.

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Kindle Family

The complete modern generation of Amazon tablets and e-readers are now available to be shipped when new orders are being placed. Pre-orders for the Kindle Voyage are also starting to ship, but new orders have a delay of a few weeks.

Amazon originally announced their complete modern lineup of devices on September 17th and actually never orchestrated a media event for it, which was a stark departure from previous product releases.

The Kindle Voyage is likely the most innovative e-reader to be released in quite sometime. It has very high PPI and a new page turn mechanism that is meant to provide haptic feedback.

“Kindle Voyage is designed to disappear so you can lose yourself in a story,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices. “This is the most advanced Kindle we’ve ever built. Customer response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we’re working to build more as fast as we can. We can’t wait to get Kindle Voyage into the hands of readers starting today.”

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The Kindle Basic for the first time ever has a new touchscreen, all prior models had a D-Pad and physical page turn keys. Customers switching over to the new Kindle from a smartphone or a tablet will find it an easy adjustment. Today, we take a comprehensive look at the e-reading and overall hardware experience to give you a sense on how it performs.

Hardware

The Kindle Basic features a six inch touchscreen with a resolution of 800 x 600 at 167 ppi. The touchscreen technology is using Infrared, courtesy of Neonode. The fonts and overall screen clarity have been dramatically increased and in a head to head comparison with the Kindle Paperwhite 2, the Kindle Basic had a whiter background and crisper fonts, which was very surprising.

Underneath the hood is a 1 GHZ Freescale processor and 512 MB of RAM. Amazon has doubled up the amount of internal memory from 2 GB on prior models of the basic model to 4 GB. This in effect gives you the ability to store more books and PDF files on your device, without having to run in there and free up space.

Amazon has gone more angular with the Basic touchscreen Kindle, but surprisingly, despite its abandonment of physical controls, the gadget is actually heavier than its predecessor, and slightly larger in both horizontal and vertical dimensions. The case is made from a hard plastic, instead of hard rubber. This makes it feel less premium, but at $79 for the entry level cost, I am not complaining.

I am a big fan of the new direction that Amazon has took with the Kindle Basic. Now that this model has replaced the prior generation, Amazon currently does not offer any other e-readers that don’t have a touchscreen, which should make it more accessible for the average reader.

Software

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This new model has the exact same firmware as the Kindle Paperwhite 2, and mirrors it in all respects. You have the ability to directly access over two million books via the Kindle bookstore. I like the fact that the e-reader version of the store looks the same as the website, so there is no weird adjustment you have to undertake. GoodReads also plays a prominent role on the main UI, which is the social eBook discovery website they purchased.

Reading on a digital reader and buying books online is normally a solitary experience. Unlike visiting a real bookstore, that is populated by staff that love books and customers all there for the same reason, e-readers make you feel alone. GoodReads gives you access to virtual book clubs and provides a layered social element, which is refreshing.

Amazon provides a number of options in their sub-menu system that are not overly complicated to the average user. Some of the most notable ones is Kindle Freetime, which allows parents to establish a permission based system and account management to let little Johnny to read, but maybe not access the store or internet browser. Speaking of internet, the “Experimental Browser” is still in beta, almost a seven years since it was first unveiled.

The Kindle software feels really polished, you will seldom have to wait a few seconds for a menu to open or for a process to launch. This is really refreshing because I remember only a few years ago where I frequently had to put up with full page refreshes that took ten seconds and clunky interfaces that were counter intuitive.

If you have used a Kindle over the course of the last few years, Amazon really hasn’t done anything new with the software, but has promised future firmware updates. One of the updates will allow you to find out more about an author, if the book is apart of a series and what the other titles are and allow you to get discounts on purchasing them all at once.

eBook Reading Experience

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The one thing that really surprised me on the overall reading experience was being able to pinch and zoom while reading PDF files. The Kobo Aura H20, which costs $199 does not have this ability. Instead, you have a really clunky interface that takes 4 steps to isolate a particular region in a document.

The Kindle Basic handles pinching and zooming like a boss. Its more responsive than the Kindle Paperwhite 2 in this regard. When exploring a complex document a small preview window appears on the top left hand corner, which contains a snapshot of the page you are on. This helps orient you on where exactly you are on the page.

The other aspect that I really liked was the ability to take notes, make highlights and translate words in a PDF document. When you really think about it, a PDF is basically one giant image. Amazon is the only company that lets you augment text or give you advanced options to really craft a solid PDF experience. The only company to to do it better is Sony, and that is via the Digital Paper, which is PDF focused and costs $999.

The average user will find themselves reading books they just purchased from Amazon. This is where the reader really shines, there are a number of options to really refine the look and feel of a book, but doesn’t have a ton of complex options. You can change the size of the font and whatever one you select instantly appears on the screen, without the need of existing the reading menu and saving the options. You can also change the linespacing and margins. Page turn speed has been dramatically increased over prior models, you will likely never notice a full page refresh and the entire process is lightning quick.

In many cases, you might be reading a book and not understand a specific word. There are two built in dictionaries issued to customers living in North America. If you live in Japan or China, for the first time ever the Kindle Basic is being marketed there and has those countries respected dictionaries bundled on it.

Another feature I like is translations. This works in both Amazon purchased books and PDF files. You can select a specific word or complete body of text and translate it from one language to another. Any market that Amazon officially supports is available. Currently there are 15 languages from Simplified Chinese to French. This might be useful to someone who is learning a new language, or if a particular book has a number of idioms.

Wrap up

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In the end, this is one of the best entry level e-readers ever made. It has cool features like X-Ray, so if you are juggling many different books at once, you can get a sense of the major characters, places and things referenced in the book.

This $79 entry level e-reader is perfect for someone who has never had one before or are thinking of giving the Amazon ecosystem a try. Owners of the D-Pad enabled Basic model from years past, will find this edition is a very solid upgrade and well worth the money.

PROS

Touchscreen
4 GB of internal storage
Pinch and Zoom PDF Files
Page Turns are lightning quick
Same Firmware as Kindle Paperwhite 2

CONS

Battery Life is weaker than the prior Kindle Basic
e-Reader is heavier than prior versions
Internet Browser prone to crashing

Rating: 9/10

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writeon

Amazon has just launched the beta version of a new author service called Kindle Writeon. The premise of the program is to establish a writing community where authors can solicit feedback on the plot and get assistance on fixing up spelling, grammatical errors or just get some research tips. It seems as though Amazon wants to cannibalize Kindle Boards and do battle against the biggest community of all, Wattpad.

Wattpad is an extremely successful digital publishing site that somehow doesn’t seem to get as much press as other well-known names like Smashwords, yet the company has 11 million monthly readers. Wattpad authors post their stories in a format that can be read on a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Perhaps most importantly, Wattpad stories can be read on java-based “feature phones” and as such have a huge readership base in third world countries. Wattpad is a very social site, in that readers can collect stories into reading lists, vote for their favorites, and share and comment with friends and writers.  Unlike some other self-publishing sites, Wattpad works well with short stories stories and novellas, as opposed to full length-books.

According to the Wattpad site, readers spend 9 billion minutes on Wattpad every month and more than 500 writers have published pieces that have been read more than a million times. There are over 70 million stories, in 50 languages, on the site. The Toronto-based company has received over $67 million in funding from Khosla Ventures, Union Square Ventures, OMERS Ventures, W Media Ventures, and Golden Venture Partners, and has attracted such famous authors as Margaret Atwood.

Amazon really wants to leverage their expansive Kindle Direct Publishing system in order to create a writing community. Authors simply post their books, whether its complete or a work in progress. Some authors are looking for specific areas of research, such as the accuracy of the inner circle of the Ottoman Empire, others are looking for everything such as  “Character, Overall, Setting, Proofreading, Voice/Tone, Plot.”

The entire system looks more like a dedicated blog post,than an established writing community. Authors can setup profiles, activity feeds, status updates and respond to user comments. Readers can keep tabs on the book by clicking the Like or Follow button and get notified whenever new interactions are made.

Kindle Writeon is in Beta and does not have many users right now. Many of the books on the front page have zero comments, likes and follows. The cover art on the average title is abysmal and I seriously doubt this program will take off. Amazon has a bad habit of trying to destroy their competition by releasing new services that nobody uses. If Amazon cannot buy a company, they just develop their own program to compete directly with it, no matter how haphazard the execution is.

An example of Amazons flawed attack strategy is summed up with Kindle Worlds. This was their attempt at sanctioned fan-fiction, that had publisher support and major intellectual properties attached, such as HASBRO and properties such as Pretty Little Liars. The problem is, hardly any books are being posted and not many users are buying in. FanFiction.net posts 100 new stories every hour across all categories. And Amazon? Its entire output for all 24 “Worlds” of content, which also includes franchises like Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries, was just 538 stories over the course of more than a year.

Why has Kindle Worlds failed so spectacularly? The problem is the creative limits that brand owners impose on the use of their work. In the case of G.I. Joe, for instance, the villain can’t wear a Yankees cap. Characters in other works can’t use drugs or employ profane language. And gay, bisexual or deviant sexual behavior might be off-limits too. Amazon also discourages anyone from under the age of 18 from contributing content, as they are too young to enter a contract, and this age group is the most prolific when it comes to content.

I would chalk this “community” by Amazon has a lost cause right from the start and refuse to cover it anymore in the future. It might be quaint in the beta format right now, but how long is it going to take before the legions of established self-published authors abuse this community by artificial likes, comments and feedback, driving their title to the front-page? Amazon authors have a notorious history of gaming the system and doing anything within their power to standout in a crowded arena.

In the meantime, you can check out writeon.amazon.com and use the code X9RJTE9H to get in.

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kindle fire hdx 7 vs samsung nook

The Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook are two tablets that are exclusively geared towards reading. Today, we look at the core differences between the two devices to give you a sense on their overall capabilities.

Amazon tends to use a heavily skinned version of Android called Mojito. You cannot really establish live wallpapers or setup widgets on your home screen. The HDX was designed to integrate completely with the entire Amazon ecosystem, such as movies, television shows, apps and books.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook on the other hand is running Kitkat, and new Android updates should occur very quickly. Unlike prior Nook tablets, this one has two cameras and better sound. It also has Google Play to access new content, so you can do business with other bookstores.

The prime motivation behind this Good e-Reader comparison is to give you a sense on how the UI is all laid out, how eBooks look and what type of functionality you get with PDF files. We also demonstrate how the entire ecosystems perform, from a Canadian point of view.


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Apple is a well known case study for controlled leaks to the public and workers in the supply chain trying to garner their fifteen minutes of fame by posting a picture of an upcoming iPhone CPU, Battery or rear shell.  It really seems like we have a clear picture of the new iWatch, iPhone or iPad well before the September 9th product launch, but things are always mysterious with Amazon.

Amazon never leaks anything to the media and their PR department is outright hostile. When they do file patents, it is through shell companies, as to not give any indication on what they are planning to release. Their research and development division, LAB126 is a veritable fortress, with little being disclosed even to their families.

This year has been one of the biggest on record for Amazon, as they have expanded their hardware offerings into two different vertices; smartphones and television. The Fire TV and Fire Smartphone continue to sell well, but have been met with trepidation in the market due to the US exclusivity.

Yesterday, Amazon discontinued the $69 base model Kindle in the US and Canada. They have also been discounting the Kindle Paperwhite 2 by $20 to deplete existing stock. This is an indication that they have well begun the manufacturing process for the two new followup models. What can we expect from the next generation Kindle e-readers? Well the Paperwhite 3 will have a light sensor to automatically adjust the front-lit display to your environment. All other readers on the market have either a dedicated hardware button or software functionality to manually adjust it. Both of the new models will also have a different default font and include higher resolution. The new cheap Kindle will also scrap the D-Pad and adopt a new touchscreen.

Amazon is expected to release two new e-readers and three tablets in the next few weeks.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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kindle kids book creator

Amazon has always offered plenty of tools for authors to craft their own eBook, but kids books are a different story. In order to make Kindle Direct Publishing more relevant to children’s authors, Amazon has just unveiled a standalone program called Kindle Kids’ Book Creator.

Kindle Kids’ Book Creator is a free tool for authors and publishers to turn their illustrated children’s books into great-looking Kindle books. Kindle Kids’ Book Creator makes it easy for authors and publishers to import artwork, add text to pages, and preview how their book will look on Kindle devices.

With the click of a button, authors also can add Kindle Text Pop-Ups to make it easy to read their book on any device, including smart phones, tablets, and PCs. Authors then can publish to Kindle and share their story with tens of millions of Amazon customers worldwide.

Kindle Kids’ Book Creator supports multiple layouts for children’s books, including facing page spreads. Kindle Kids’ Book Creator accepts the most popular graphic file types, so authors are free to create art in their preferred design tools. Authors can even import a book from a multi-page PDF, making it easier to ever to take a book originally created for print and turn it into a Kindle book. When you are ready to publish your book, simply go to Kindle Direct Publishing to upload your book.

Kindle Kids’ Book Creator also makes it quick to preview how the content will look across Kindle devices. With an integrated preview feature, authors can validate that their books look beautiful on Kindle Fire tablets.

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alexszapiroh

Amazon has been selling Kindle e-Readers and eBooks in Brazil for the last two years. You might say the Seattle based company has digital locked up, but print titles have been non-existent, until today.

Over 150,000 print titles in Portuguese are now available to be ordered on Amazons Brazilian website. If customers spend over R$69, there is free shipping. These titles are in addition to the 35,000 eBooks they have available, also in Portuguese.

In a statement, Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said the site would be “the largest and most convenient site for Brazilian readers to find and buy” print and digital books at low prices.

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Amazon is hoping to steal a bit of the limelight off of the brand new Samsung Galaxy 4 Nook tablet by offering a $20.00 discount on the second generation Kindle Paperwhite. Starting today, the main Amazon website is discounting the WIFI only version to $139 and the 3G model for $189.

Within the next month it is believed that Amazon will be releasing two new e-readers and three new tablets They are intending on refreshing their entire hardware lineup with new technology. The discount to the Paperwhite serves to give an incentive to people on the fence about going over to Barnes and Noble.

Since the Paperwhite 2 originally came out, it has received a number of firmware updates and hardware enhancements. Some of the more notable software features include the social book discovery site, GoodReads and a more stable PDF experience with a new preview window. On the hardware front, customers in the UK and Canada are seeing an increased amount of Kindle Storage, from 4GB to 8GB.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Amazon has quietly doubled the amount of onboard storage in new models of the Kindle Paperwhite second generation e-reader. Any new device ordered online from Amazon will have 4GB to store all of your books, instead of the standard 2GB.

There was a time when Amazon always included 4GB of storage in their Kindles, but this when they had features like on-board audio and audiobooks used to take up a ton of space. When the Paperwhite 1 and 2 were first released Amazon realized they could likely downgrade the amount of storage and nobody would really care, because all of your purchase were saved in the cloud. The only market to have a 4GB model of the Paperwhite 2 right out of the gates was Japan, and this was primarily due to manga and graphic novels taking up more space than your standard digital book.

Amazon has made no formal announcement yet about the subtle increase in storage. On the Kindle Paperwhite 2 product page they don’t even reference the exact amount of storage that is available anymore.

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