Another round of kindle news, offers

The Kindle extends its reach with a Kindle for Windows Phone 7 app. OverDrive’s iPhone App now offers library ebook downloads. B&N’s Nook Color has a hidden BlueTooth radio.

It’s ironic that on the day CES 2011 starts, all the interesting news is from elsewhere.

First, let’s look at some offers -

  1. The Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland. Price: $0. Genre: Christian, Christmas. A novella published by Zondervan.
  2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Price: 89 cents. Genre: Wealth, Visualization, Inspirational, Self-Help. This is rising up the charts.
  3. The Art of Closing the Sale by Brian Tracy. Price: $1.99. Genre: Sales, Sales Pychology. This is Amazon’s Student Kindle Deal of the Day for today.

There aren’t that many good deals in the Movers and Shakers list today.

Offers from outside the Kindle Store

Pocket After Dark has two books free to read online -

  1. Gentlemen Prefer Succubi by Jill Myles. Free until January 31st, 2011.
  2. Untraceable by Laura Griffin. Free until January 15th, 2011.

You have to click on the black ‘Full Book’ button below the book. Then you have to join the community. Now, after writing all of that, it doesn’t seem worth it.

Harper Collins also has a book that’s free to read online – Emily the Strange: The Lost Days by Rob Reger and Jessica Gruner. Seems like a children’s book meant for young girls.

It’s strange how it’s the same system/infrastructure powering the two different sets of offers – Yet, in one case they make it painful and awkward to get to the offers. Anyways, time to move on to some interesting bits of news.

OverDrive is now offering library books on its iPhone App

OverDrive has an app that’s compatible with iPhone, iPod, and iPad. It’s called the OverDrive Media Console.

Until yesterday, all the app did was let you borrow audiobooks from libraries. Starting today, it lets you borrow ebooks from libraries. The updated product description -

 Download library books directly to your iPhone. More than 13,000 libraries worldwide offer eBooks and audiobooks via OverDrive.

Here are two of the updates added in V2 of the OverDrive App (Version 2 arrived today) -

- Adds support for EPUB eBooks
– Find a library using the Get Books feature

It’s quite a big development. The number of ebooks available at libraries are still small – But it’s significant that now people with iPhones and iPads will be able to download library books so easily.

Kindle for Windows Phone 7 arrives

Engadget has the news that Kindle for Windows Phone 7 has arrived.

You can find it in the Windows 7 Marketplace in your A-Name-That-Is-Entirely-Too-Long phone – they don’t have anything on the web. Engadget had the scoop.

It has the standard sales pitch – 750,000 books, WhisperSync, different font settings, etc. It looks quite good – Though you have to suspect that the dark blue ‘boy reading under the tree’ image would look good on anything.

That brings us to the latest Nook Color hack.

Nook Color has a BlueTooth Radio, which may or may not be hackable into a state of usefulness

Occip at XDA Developers shows that there’s no limit to the amount of ‘things that shouldn’t be in a $250 device’ things that are in the $250 Nook Color. The newest addition to the list is a BlueTooth Radio – Much like the microphone on the Kindle 3, the BlueTooth Radio on the Nook is hidden and not enabled.

However, Occip and other hackers are busy at work – trying to get it to work. The XDA stars have already hacked Nook Color into an Android Tablet, and found a way to get it to run Android 2.2. If they can get the BlueTooth radio working, their various hacks will lead to so many additional Nook Color sales that B&N won’t be able to handle the demand.

It also makes you wonder how B&N kept the price at $250. Here’s a partial list of what you get with Nook Color -

Better quality IPS LCD screen than iPad.
Capability to function as a 7″ Android Tablet. 
Fast, powerful processor. It’s a Texas Instruments OMAP 3621 processor running at 800 Mhz.

512 MB RAM.
8 GB Flash ROM.

802.11b/g/n WiFi.
BlueTooth Radio.
Accelerometer.

Did anyone expect the $250 Nook Color to have all of that?

B&N really needs to start selling unlocked versions of these as full-fledged mini-Tablets – there’d be a ton of demand for Nook Color Android Tablets. They’d sell quite a few million more than they would otherwise. The Tablets so far, including the ones at CES 2011, haven’t been close to Nook Color in price or value for money.

Kindle 3 + eReader updates for Sunday morning

A lot of Kindle 3 related updates this morning -

  1. At the official Kindle forum a suggestion to add ‘Kindle Review’ to the review title when reviewing books you’ve read on the Kindle. It’s a good suggestion and it would be a good way to help other Kindle owners.  
  2. Kindle Update 3.0.2 is available. Well, don’t understand all these dot-dot updates. Will we get 3.0.2.5 next?
  3. Every Word is back from detention.
  4. Someone built a reflector so that they could get around the fact that the Lighted Cover is on the top left of the screen and light the screen of the Kindle 3 evenly. It’s basically reflective photo paper on the left and bottom edges of the eInk screen held up by rubber bands.
  5. A question on how people manage to press Shift+Alt+G at the same time (it’s the shortcut to take a screenshot). Well, the buttons are too small for my fingers and the only thing that works is laying my thumb on both Alt + Shift at the same time and then using another finger to press G. Here’s another good solution which is actually easier -

    1) Lay Kindle on a solid flat surface.
    2) Use index fingers of both hands (fingernails pointing to each other) to hold down Alt and Shift
    3) While holding those keys down, use the middle finger of the right hand to reach out and touch the g.

  6. Cagey at the official kindle forum claims that Amazon is aware that page turns are slower when it’s hot (when Kindle is in direct sunlight) and that the developers are working on a fix. All of it sounds rather unbelievable – How could you fix what sounds like a temperature related issue? Have heard a few people mention this – Apparently in bright sunlight page turns get slower and take a second or so.
  7. NY Times has an article with a photo of a prototype color eReader display from eInk. Check my 2009 post for a color eInk screen photo that PVI/eInk was showing off in 2005. It’s 5 years and PVI still only has prototypes to show.
  8. Lots of drama in UK as Hachette pushes the Agency Model and Amazon pushes super low prices.
  9. David Morrell, author of First Blood and The Brotherhood of the Rose, has decided to do a Kindle ebook exclusive and it’s causing much consternation amongst non-Kindle eReader owners. This exclusive stuff is rather strange.  
  10. A claim that clicking the ‘Request a Kindle version of this Book’ button worked for a Kindle owner. Thought it was just there for show but apparently there’s an email or something sent to Publishers. Update: Actually the books clicked on are written by David Morrell – so it might just be a happy coincidence or it might be what caused David Morrell to do a Kindle exclusive.
  11. PsychCentral is having a Kindle 3 Contest and giving away a Kindle a week to people who subscribe to their weekly newsletter.

Nothing is unconditional these days – even for free things you have to prostitute your email address.   

Lab 126 does some interesting hiring

Quick on the heels of Amazon hiring a Xbox executive we get news from Tech Flash that Amazon is hiring a Pixar and TiVo veteran.

The list of recent Lab 126 and Amazon hires now includes -

  1. VP of consumer applications at Linden Labs (which runs Second Life). In the past he’s worked at Pixar and TiVo. 
  2. 2 former Real Networks executives. 
  3. Director of gaming etc. at Xbox.

That sounds more like hiring for the iPad than for the Kindle. Perhaps there really is a Kindle Phone or Kindle Tablet in the works.

Various Kindle 3, Amazon updates

There’s not very much going on – No Nook 2, No Sony Reader 650. There are, however, some Kindle 3 related updates that are quite interesting.

Kindle 3 might be set for a release in China

Marbridge Consulting has an update on Kindle 3 in China –  

According to a file allegedly leaked from Joyo-Amazon, Amazon’s China subsidiary, approval has been given by Amazon to introduce the Kindle e-book to the Chinese market. Preparatory work has already been completed, and the Kindle’s official Chinese name is reportedly “Jin Du.”

According to Sohu IT, Joyo-Amazon registered eight “Jin Du” related trademarks with China’s Trademark Office in late 2009. According to the file, the version coming to China is the Kindle 3.

Amazon had bought Joyo a long time ago and it’s pretty obvious it will sell Kindle 3 through it. Kindle 3 is supposed to be named Jin Du which probably means Golden Rooster standing on One Foot (Actually, that’s jin-ji-du).

Amazon expected to post higher top line growth than Google?

An interesting article from the International Business Times that says Amazon may exceed Google in top-line growth -

Online retailer Amazon.com, Inc (AMZN) may surpass Google’s top-line growth in 2010, an analyst with Benchmark Capital (Frederick Moran) said.

Wall Street is expecting 35 percent revenue growth for Amazon at $33.19 billion, and 21 percent top-line growth for Google at $21.16 billion in 2010.

Amazon’s revenue growth rate has reaccelerated despite high unemployment and cash-strapped consumers. Amazon has outpaced the ecommerce market, retailers and even Internet leaders like Google meaningfully.

Who would have thought selling things is a better strategy than giving them away for free?

IB Times also has an article talking about how the Kindle 3 stands out when compared to its earlier siblings. It covers all the usual suspects (lower size, lower price, lower weight, new features) but doesn’t mention eInk Pearl anywhere.

Kindle 3 vs Google Tablet?

Google Tablet Rumors

Download Squad has a bunch of details on the Google Tablet (do note that it’s a rumor at this stage) -

  1. A launch on Black Friday 2010 (November 26th). 
  2. Verizon will subsidize it – presumably there’ll be some data plan requirement. 
  3. It’s based on Chrome OS.
  4. It’s built by HTC.
  5. It’s supposed to be very well loaded – Nvidia Tegra 2, 1280 by 720 multi-touch display, 2GB of RAM, 32 GB SS, 3G+WiFi+BlueTooth, GPS (probably with free Google Navigation), webcam.
  6. It’s supposed to even have a multi-card reader.

Sounds pretty impressive and if Verizon really is subsidizing the Google Tablet it might sell very, very well. One of the comments points out that Verizon already offers a netbook for $19.99.

It makes perfect sense – Google is desperate to fight Apple and Verizon is desperate to reduce AT&T’s advantage due to the iPad.

Kindle 3 vs Google Tablet?

Every single device gets touted as a Kindle Vanquisher so why should the Google Tablet be left out. Add in the Verizon subsidy and we’ll probably have a lot of people who don’t read books start talking about how they bought a Google Tablet to read.

However, don’t really see readers very interested in a Tablet. It’s going to target the iPad and be far too bulky and big to be a good reader. Add on the LCD and the distractions and there won’t really be much reading going on.

iPad vs Google Tablet will be a pretty interesting comparison. Perhaps it’ll be like iPhone vs Android – All the people who like openness or apps for free or who dislike DRM will go with Google and everyone who likes to spend a lot of money goes with Apple.

Apple, supposedly, has 1% market share in mobile phones and 48% of the profit. With Tablets there isn’t really any Tablet apart from the iPad so it’ll be interesting to see what happens when Google Tablet arrives and whether it can scoop up a lot of users and whether those will be profit generating users.

Kindle 3 vs WiFi battery life differences?

For some reason I’m absolutely fascinated by the difference in battery life between Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi. Check out either of the new Kindle product pages and you get this -

  1. Kindle 3G + WiFi and Kindle WiFi both have up to 1 month battery life with wireless off.  
  2. With wireless on Kindle 3G lasts 10 days while Kindle WiFi lasts 3 weeks.
  3. More than double the battery life if you’re using WiFi. Really?

What’s so special about 3G (or the wireless chip in the Kindle 3) that makes it uses double the amount of battery life?

Amazon’s latest moves, Kindle Previewer, and more Kindle

We see the new Kindle DX 2 for $379, the introduction of the 70% royalty rate, and the surprise arrival of Kindle for Android – all in the first 3 days of this week. There’s actually even more Kindle related stuff going on and let’s look at some of it in depth.

Amazon introduces Kindle Previewer

At the official Kindle forum Amazon introduce us to the upcoming ‘Kindle Previewer for HTML 5′ feature. In plain English its online samples of Kindle books.

They put a lot of effort into describing it -

sample Kindle books from anywhere. Kindle book previews will be available through your web browser-simply click a Preview button on an Amazon book detail page and a new browser window will open containing the preview.

If at any point while you’re reading the preview you decide you want to buy the full book, simply click the buy button and it will be instantly downloaded to your Kindle or any one of our free Kindle apps.

Apparently HTML5 and CSS3 are a really big deal. Got to love how some people are as excited about HTML5 as we would be about rockets that fly astronauts to Mars.

The good news is this souped up ‘preview’ feature doesn’t interfere with our good old samples on the Kindle – there’s no rational reason to remove samples and these web previews seem to merely be add-ons. It’s probably to help get more people into the Kindle eco-system.

The feature also makes a lot more sense when you consider the arrival of Kindle Web Widgets.

Kindle Web Widgets  

Hand in hand with the HTML 5 Kindle Previewer release is a release of web widgets which bloggers and website owners can add to their blogs and sites. It lets readers read Kindle book samples on the site itself and even order from the site.

It’s an interesting move and lots of bloggers and sites will be tempted to try it out – If the user can read the sample right there and order on the spot that’s going to work out much better than having the user click though to another site and track cookies and user purchases.

Barnes & Noble investing heavily in Nook, eBooks

B&N is seeing two diverging trends – physical store sales are declining and its profits are going down. Meanwhile web sales increased 51% and it claims to have captured over 20% of the ebook market. In fact, B&N is investing so heavily in ebooks that it claims its ebook investments are a major cause of its losses.

B&N stock took a major hit (supposedly a fall of 18%) as that explanation didn’t seem to appease the market. Of course, the market can’t be expected to understand things like building for something that in 10 years will take over all of books. This article at Forbes is worth a read.

Despite the losses B&N’s devotion to eBooks is commendable. If nothing else, it’s helping keep Amazon and Apple on their toes.

Federal Agencies want eReaders used in classrooms to be accessible

It seems that it’s not enough to kick Kindle DX out of public universities. Now Federal Agencies want to put rules into place that ensure any device used in any school or university must be accessible to the blind.

It’s good to have rules to help blind people. However, it’s a little crazy to not allow 95% of people to use a gadget because it’s not accessible. All these roadblocks are preventing the faster spread of eReaders – if eReaders spread faster it would help blind people a lot.

It seems politically incorrect to take the 10 year view – However, just ask yourself what’s better for the blind.

  1. A world where ebooks stall and we go back to physical books.
  2. A world where ebooks prosper and the blind have access via Text to Speech to every single ebook. They would no longer be limited to books Publishers have chosen to provide for the blind.

Yet Blind Associations keep attacking eReaders and stalling their growth.

It would be nice to see a list of the companies and agencies that fund organizations like the National Federation of the Blind and figure out what the cause of this super short term perspective is. NFB couldn’t be any more anti-eReader/anti-eBook if it tried.

Universal eBook Format vs Kindle App on every device

Consider this article on Yahoo News lamenting the lack of a universal ebook format. Well, what about having a Kindle app on every device – Isn’t that nearly the same thing?

Amazon have channels reaching into Android, iPhone, PC, Mac, Blackberry, and iPad. They also have their own devices. Basically, they have most of the channels covered and if they could figure out a way to tap into Nook and Sony Reader they would have created a default universal format. Only it would be a platform and not a format.

A certain group of people wouldn’t be happy with that – for them a universal format has to be ‘open’ and not controlled by a company and not something a company can profit from.

At that point you begin to realize that maybe the whole ‘universal format’ and ‘no DRM’ movement has more to do with being able to steal ebooks than being able to read an ebook on any device.

kindle news updates – end July

Loads of Kindle and ebook related developments -

  1. The AT&T and Barnes&Noble experiment starts early – B&N customers will get free Internet WiFi access in each of the 777 B&N Stores nationwide. The WiFi wasn’t free until now and might be a good way to test the network before launching B&N Net .
  2. Verizon and Qualcomm formed a joint venture to support networks like WhisperNet. Their joint venture aims to support services running on any network (not just Verizon’s) and is worldwide in scope.
  3. GigaOM reports that LibreDigital just got $15 million funding. The official press release says that LibreDigital works with 6 of the world’s top 10 publishers (including HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Wiley). Its a company that’s been around since 1999.
  4. Google Books is now offering 1 million of its public domain books in the Sony Store. If you’re so inclined, you can download a software that lets you read these on your PC -

    Together with Google, Sony brings you access to over a million public domain books for free.

  5. Apparently every Zappos employee got a free Kindle. I’d be more interested in finding out how the $40 million allocated to employees was portioned out.  

Also a good read – Thomas L Friedman’s 59 is the new 30.

Newspapers begin to charge for content

Newspapers in the US and in the UK are beginning to charge for content again -

  1. Valley Morning Star in South Texas will start charging for online access. As will the Democrat Gazette of Northwest Arkansas
  2. Across the pond, News International affirmed its intent to charge for content. 
  3. In Australia, News Digital Media’s Richard Freudenstein thinks that people will pay for good enough content.  

Although Mr. Freudenstein takes quite a few potshots at bloggers, have to agree with some of his points, particularly -

If a massive story broke, right now – another 9/11 or Victorian Bushfire… what would you do?

My guess is you’d do one of three things – go to a world-class news website, turn on the TV or turn on the radio.

What Mr. Freudenstein has to say is exceptional – for the first time there’s someone in the newspaper industry who not only understands that giving away content is stupid, but also understands that a paid model will work if done right.  

Closing Thoughts – Tom Watson  

Thomas L. Friedman says -

Watson’s run was freaky unusual — a 59-year-old man who had played his opening two rounds in this tournament with a 16-year-old Italian amateur — was able to best the greatest golfers in the world at least a decade after anyone would have dreamt it possible.

Watching this happen actually widened our sense of what any of us is capable of.

It was really interesting because at 29 I’m always feeling this sense of passing of time. To see someone perform so extraordinarily well at 59 puts a smile on my face – still got a lot of years to live.

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