Ebooks

Kindle Instant Book Previews

22 June 2016

Along with many others, PG just received a promo for Kindle Instant Book Previews.

We all know how easy it is to share our favorite pictures and videos online. Now you can just as easily share your favorite book with Kindle instant previews so anyone can start reading the book for free.

. . . .

Kindle instant previews can be embedded on the web or shared as a link via email, text and other favorite apps. Anyone can start reading the preview for free by clicking on the link, just like this example. The Kindle instant preview provides:2px-spacer

• Free content to keep traffic on your site

• Free access to a sample of the book

• Adjustable font sizes for the readers’ comfort

• Direct link to book purchase from Amazon

• Download link to get the free Kindle app

Link to the rest at Kindle Instant Book Previews

This appears to be easy to implement.

Here’s an embedded version of one of Mrs. PG’s books (note the buttons at the bottom of the cover):

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Here’s a link to a preview of the same book.

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New Kindle Announced

22 June 2016

From The Amazon Media Room:

Amazon today introduced the all-new Kindle, making its most affordable reader thinner, lighter, and with twice the memory as the previous generation for the same price, just $79.99. Kindle is offered in your choice of black or white and is available at www.amazon.com/kindle.

. . . .

KindleThinner, Lighter, Still Only $79.99

The all-new Kindle is thinner and lighter and has twice the memory compared to the previous generation Kindle. Now available in black and white color options, the new Kindle features a more rounded design, making it easy and comfortable to hold in one hand at any angle for extended reading sessions. Unlike reflective tablet and smartphone screens, the high contrast touchscreen display on Kindle eliminates glare in any setting, even in direct sunlight. Recent studies have shown that evening exposure to blue light from backlit screens like tablets and smartphones can suppress the body’s production of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that helps the body fall asleep. Because the Kindle display emits no light, you can read anytime without losing sleep. Like all Kindle e-readers, the all-new Kindle has a battery life that lasts for weeks and not hours.

. . . .

  • Export Notes—It’s now easy to export notes and highlights from a book to your e-mail, so you can always have them on-hand for reference. Receive your notes both as an easily printable PDF that’s ready to bring to your book club, and as a simple file you can open in your favorite spreadsheet app. This feature will be available as part of a free, over-the-air software update in the coming weeks.
  • Built-in Bluetooth audio for accessibility—The first Kindle with built-in Bluetooth audio support, Kindle makes it possible for visually impaired users to use the VoiceView screen reader on Kindle to read the content of the screen—including reading books and other Kindle content—without the need for an adaptor. This is enabled through a new out-of-box experience specifically for visually-impaired customers that allows them to pair their Kindle with Bluetooth headphones or a speaker. For other recent updates in accessibility, visit our Amazon blog.
  • Chinese Word Wise Hints—Choose between English and Simplified Chinese Word Wise hints by changing the language in Word Wise settings.

Link to the rest at Amazon Media Room

Amazon seems to be willing to invest in additional Kindle ereader sales via new features and aggressive pricing to keep its ebook ecosystem healthy.

If ebook sales were really flattening or declining as articles focused on the traditional publishing world have suggested, PG wonders if the company would be putting more money into ereaders. This is the second new ereader Amazon has introduced in the last three months.

Which cruise ship library is right for you?

20 June 2016

From The Washington Post:

A few decades ago, a nicely appointed library was one of a cruise ship’s star attractions. But then came climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, hand-carved carousels, 4-D theaters, zip lines and surfing simulators. Plus e-readers, tablets and smartphones.

That spacious mahogany library stuffed with thousands of volumes suddenly had lots of competition. Some lines, such as Disney, which launched in the late 1990s, decided to forego libraries altogether. Others, including Carnival and Seabourn, dressed them up with wine bars and coffee stations. And a few, such as Cunard and Oceania, have stayed with tradition.

John Money, co-owner of Ocean Books, has been designing and supplying ship libraries since the 1970s and still works with several lines, including Silversea, Cunard and Oceania. Even he is resigned to the effect that technology and competition for attention and dollars have had on the old library model. “There is a revenue manager on board every ship, and they need to get the maximum amount of cash from each passenger,” Money said, noting that libraries typically are not big money-makers. Technology has also chipped away at the ship library concept. “Even I read on my iPad now,” Money said.

Linda Garrison, who has sailed on about 125 cruises in her 15-plus years as cruise writer for About.com, has also noticed the shrinking space devoted to ship libraries and the increasing number of passengers toting e-readers. And she’s observed something that seems counterintuitive: Oftentimes, the bigger the ship, the smaller the library. “Large cruise ships just have too many things to do, and most of their guests are not on vacation to sit in a quiet space reading a book,” Garrison said. “On the flip side, smaller luxury ships without a lot of onboard activities or entertainment often have larger libraries.”

. . . .

Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 has the largest library at sea, with about 10,000 volumes: 8,400 in English, 800 in German and the rest in Japanese, Spanish and French. Staffed by full-time librarians, the collection holds a wide variety of materials, including bestsellers, classics and travel guides. Lush carpeting, leather sofas and armchairs, rich wood-and-glass shelves and semi-private Internet stations would be the envy of any public library. The two-deck-high libraries aboard the line’s two other ships, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, also get high marks, holding approximately 8,000 and 7,000 volumes, respectively, in various languages.

. . . .

The handsomely appointed library aboard Silversea’s 100-passenger Silver Galapagos features more than 300 books devoted to Charles Darwin, the Galapagos Islands and evolution, including several copies of Darwin’s landmark works “On the Origin of Species” and “The Voyage of the Beagle.” The library aboard this expedition cruise ship, which sails exclusively among the Galapagos Islands, also offers an extensive collection of maps and charts of the archipelago.

Link to the rest at The Washington Post

PG and Mrs. PG have had the privilege of taking a few cruises and enjoyed them very much.

PG suggests you don’t assume any cruise ship library will have books you would like to read and bring your own. Load up your tablet or ereader before you depart so you don’t have to worry about sloooow shipboard internet connections and possible geographical restrictions on what you can buy.

As for the best places to read on a ship (other than your cabin which may or may not have a good reading space), PG heads for the glitzy bars and night clubs during the daytime when the bars are closed. Typically, they’re not locked, at least on the ships on which the PG’s have traveled. He finds comfortable chairs in these quiet and mostly-empty establishments. The only people he sees are other readers.

When the ship is in port, the PG’s are typically running around on shore but, depending upon the cruise, there may be some sea days when the ship is traveling from one place to another in the daytime instead of just at night or a few ports where a couple of hours on shore is all you’re interested in seeing. A nice place to read is a great pleasure under those circumstances.

Addicted?: I Have Officially Spent Too Much Money on E-books

19 June 2016

From BookRiot:

Welcome to what feels like a silly, senseless conflict. When I evaluate my credit card, I know that danger is ahead. Reading is part of my job, part of my life, but I am prone to listening to a bookish podcast and then buying a recommended reading on a whim. In theory, this is a great availability of a resource I would have never had before (Walls are being broken down!). In reality, when I listen to a mass of podcasts, my reading list builds up without much awareness on my part.

I miss the library, but its location and lack of convenience just doesn’t fit into my life well. I joined in on the agreement with my local library to read their digital collection entries each for a few weeks at a time, but I could never stick to their schedule. Instead, downloads became my dependency. I am adrift in my own excuses and my love for immediate reading download.

. . . .

Yes, I’m saving space by not buying as many physical books as I used to, and yes, it will be WAY easier to move since I’ve cut back on paper book ownership. At the same time, it’s important that I have control over this habit. If the purchase button is available on a screen, the digital ease of purchase can be a distraction from the fact that you really are spending money. The experience is different from going into a bookstore, but the expenditure is the same.

. . . .

If you try to research an online shopping addiction on Amazon, you tend to come across books for sale that emphasize overcoming shopping addiction. The Internet is an ironic environment.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

As E-book Sales Decline, Digital Fatigue Grows

18 June 2016

From Publishers Weekly:

Though various sources have reported a decline in e-book sales for traditional publishers in 2015 compared to 2014, no one has come up with a clear reason for the drop. To gain some insight into the trend, the Codex Group devoted a recent survey of book buyers’s shopping preferences to looking more deeply into the question.

The book market has taken a different path from the music and home video markets, where research from industry associations shows that consumers continued to increase digital spending last year (with digital reaching record revenue share levels of 70% and 59%, respectively, for 2015).

Preliminary figures from the Association of American Publishers found that sales of e-books for trade publishers fell 14% in 2015 compared to 2014 and accounted for 20% of overall trade book revenue, down from 23% in 2014. Going beyond AAP’s member publisher sales performance, the Codex Group’s April 2016 survey of 4,992 book buyers found that e-book units purchased as a share of total books purchased fell from 35.9% in April 2015 to 32.4% in April 2016. The Codex survey includes e-books published by traditional publishers and self-publishers and sold across all channels and in all categories.

In light of the April study results, Codex president Peter Hildick-Smith believes that the book industry’s experience with digital sales differs from that of music and video because of two factors. First, electronic devices are optional for reading books (unlike for listening to music or watching video), and the current range of e-book reading devices—including smartphones, tablets, and dedicated e-readers—has not delivered the quality long-form reading experience needed to supplant print, even with e-books’ major price and convenience advantages. Second, Hildick-Smith said, a new consumer phenomenon, “digital fatigue,” is beginning to emerge.

. . . .

Though only 34% of book buyer households own e-book readers, they are still the dominant factor in e-book consumption, having been used for an average of 55% of the total time spent reading the most recent e-book read by respondents. Dedicated e-reader owners also purchased 59% of e-book units bought by respondents in the month. In contrast, tablets, owned by 66% of book-buying households, were used for only 28% of e-book reading time, while smartphones, with the highest penetration among book buyers (73%), accounted for only 12% of e-book reading time.

The challenge going forward, Hildick-Smith pointed out, is that dedicated e-reader ownership has been stagnant for the past three years, and the devices are increasingly being retired. Only 50% of dedicated e-reading devices were used by respondents to read e-books in the week prior to the survey, and less than one-third of the devices were used to purchase an e-book in the prior month. Tablets and smartphones are not picking up the slack, with only 52% of tablets and 26% of smartphones being used for e-book reading in the week prior to the survey.

. . . .

 The Codex survey also found that though book buyers stated they spent almost five hours of daily personal time on screens, 25% of book buyers, including 37% of those 18–24 years old, want to spend less time on their digital devices. Since consumers almost always have the option to read books in physical formats, they are indicating a preference to return to print. In the April survey, 19% of 18-to-24-year-olds said they are reading fewer e-books than when they started reading that format, the highest percentage among all age groups. Overall, 14% of book buyers said they are now reading fewer e-books than when they started reading books in the format, and 59% percent of those who said they are reading fewer e-books cited a preference for print as the main reason for switching back to physical books. The share of print books purchased was also the highest among the heaviest screen users, the so-called digital natives, ages 18–24 (83%), and lowest (61%) among 55-to-64-year-olds.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to SMH for the tip.

PG is skeptical of these data. He wasn’t able to find any information about methodology, but did remember that a 2014 Codex survey found that book buyers were leaving Amazon and moving to Barnes & Noble because of the dispute between Hachette and Amazon.

PG’s understanding is that most of Codex’s customers are traditional publishers, but he could be wrong about that.

How Kobo overcame great odds & showed maverick thinking to grow into a global leader

17 June 2016

From Kobo via Medium:

The Economist’s Canada Summit attracted a jam-packed lineup of business luminaries and big name politicians (including the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau) to discuss the future of the Canadian economy — and how disruption is a necessary exercise in the quest for global success.

As the leader of one of Canada’s startup success stories, Rakuten Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn was invited to weigh in. He was billed as a “Big-bang disruptor”, a business leader with the potential to shape the future of Canadian business.

. . . .

They say when you’re starting a new business, you should look for the white space, be first to market, go where your competitors are not. Or there is another option. You can do the exact opposite. In 2009, starting here in Toronto with a handful of people, we picked a fight with the largest ecommerce company in the world, with the most successful hardware company ever, with the world’s largest book retail chain, and the most profitable search engine in history. Seven years later, 27 million users, 20 countries, millions of devices, tens of millions of ebooks and a $315M acquisition later, I get to tell you why that worked, why being Canadian mattered, and why sometimes the best revolutions don’t look like revolutions at all.

Kobo was born to disrupt. More than that, it was an exercise in intentional self-disruption. We were incubated inside Indigo, Canada’s largest book chain, in 2009 in answer to the strategic question: “What happens if many of the Canadians who are currently buying and reading print, start reading digitally?” Kindle had just launched in the US, Sony had ereaders in market, the iPhone was just released. Change was coming: The only question was: was someone was going to do it to us, or would we do it to ourselves.

. . . .

 Today, about 1 in 5 books sold in Canada is an ebook, in some categories it’s 1 in 3 or higher and Kobo is, when last I checked, the largest retailer of ebooks in Canada and one of the largest in the world and the second-largest manufacturer of eReading devices globally.

. . . .

 We could tell that building a great ereading service was going to be a big, capital-intensive project — and that not only was Canada not a big enough market to sustain it, almost no most national book market was big enough to sustain the level of investment that would be required to compete with Amazon or Apple or Google. Go big, because you can’t stay home. We were leaving the era where each country has a dominant book retailer or two and entering a new era where only a few global players would have the scale to compete. The good news was that it meant that the challenge that Indigo was facing — protecting their customers in the face of digital onslaught — was a challenge that every retailer who sold books anywhere in the world was going to face.

. . . .

The second thing we did right was to let go of the gravitational pull of the US. in our first couple of years, we could already see that the US, the richest market for ebooks in the world, was about to become a battleground. It was the home turf of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Barnes & Noble, and everyone wants to win at home. So while our competitors were all engaged in a very expensive fight for control of the US market, we quickly and quietly expanded into every other single country that looked like a candidate for digital growth, places where we could get in early, start building brand and market share. And we gained months, sometimes years of breathing room as competitors later struggled to internationalize systems that had been built to serve the US market alone. As those markets have grown, we have been able to grow with them. So now we find ourselves with the majority of our revenue coming from outside of Canada, with active retail presence in 20 countries, delivering ebooks to another 170.

. . . .

 Publishers and retailers in France are particularly cautious about working with foreign retailers, especially related to ebooks, but our membership in La Francaphonie and sensitivity to France’s tradition of cultural protection helped to get us a partnership with France’s largest retailer FNAC and a very significant French business. Our history as a Commonwealth country who had forged our own distinct English literature helped our partnerships in Australia and New Zealand. In Belgium and Switzerland, we understood multilingual politics, with all of its richness and complexity. In Mexico, we shared with both publishers and retailers the struggle of fighting to keep a distinct national culture while living right next to a neighbour who casts a very long media shadow.

Link to the rest at Medium

Amazon Lowers the Boom on Discount eBook Sites

16 June 2016

From The Digital Reader:

When Amazon-owned Goodreads launched its discount ebook service last month, I wondered whether Amazon would find reasons to shut down its competition.

The first to go was Fussy Librarian, which wentunder the axe the week before Goodreads announced. At the time it looked like  that was an isolated incident, but now it has been followed by two more sites, Pixel of Inkand eReaderIQ.

Pixel of Ink announced today that they have shut down. They didn’t give a specific reason, but did say that “due to changes in the eBook world and in our life, it is time for us to move on, and Pixel of Ink must now end”.

I’m still following up with PoI, so I can’t tell you the specific reason for its closure, but I do know that it wasn’t the only casualty. eReaderIQ has made a similar, albeit more detailed announcement today. They’ve posted a notice on their homepage to the effect that:

As of June 10, 2016, eReaderIQ is no longer eligible to participate in the Amazon.com affiliate program. What this means is that we are no longer able to monetize this site simply by having users click on our links.

Because of this, we will need to rely on our users’ support to keep the site running. Our short term goal is to generate enough user support to cover the costs of operating the site.

The notice goes on to ask for donations, and say that the site may relaunch as a subscription-based service in the future.

I spoke to eReaderIQ founder Christian Hupfeld on the phone this evening, and he told me that Amazon terminated the site’s affiliate account for various violations of Amazon’s ToS.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader and thanks to Nate for the tip.

E-book tablet to be launched to popularise Mahatma’s books

15 June 2016

From The New Indian Express:

To popularise books on Mahatma Gandhi and cater to the ever-changing reading habits, a city-based trust has decided to come up with their own tablet, lending people the facility to read Gujarati and Hindi e-books published by them on the Father of the Nation.

Kindle-like e-book tablet, which the Navjivan Trust is planning to bring, will have 170 books mostly on Mahatma Gandhi allowing people to read those in Hindi and Gujarati.

. . . .

Till now, the trust, established in 1919 by Gandhiji himself, has sold around 10,500 online versions of around 170 of their books, converted into e-books, which according to Desai, is the key motivating factor for the trust to venture into the territory of an exclusive tablet parallel to online conglomerate Amazon’s “Kindle” e-book reader.

. . . .

“At present, Kindle does not support Gujarati or Hindi language. Thus, we have decided to create a new platform to reach out to people wanting to read Mahatma’s books in those languages. We are in process to make a tablet equivalent to Kindle. This device will allow readers to type and search in Gujarati or Hindi,” said Ashar.

Link to the rest at The New Indian Express

Imagine If Ebooks Came First

8 June 2016

From Challies.com:

Imagine if ebooks came first. Imagine if Gutenberg had not created the printing press but the Kindle. Now, hundreds of years later, we are beginning to experiment with this new medium of paper and beginning to acclimate ourselves to printed books. Though on one level this little scenario is absurd, it can also be an interesting thought experiment. Stick with me for just a few moments and I’ll show you.

To understand some of the fear and criticism directed toward digital reading, we need to first understand the way we tend to relate to new technologies. We do not take any new technology on its own terms, but always in comparison—in comparison to what was dominant before it. In this way the old technology always has the upper hand and we consider it superior until the contender proves itself. You and I were born into a world dominated and shaped by the printed book.

. . . .

Perhaps one way we can better assess the book, though, is to imagine that it is threatening to disrupt the ebook, rather than the other way around. In this scenario, you sat on your mommy’s knee while she read Goodnight Moon from a tablet, you heard dad read Little House on the Prairie from his Kindle, and you spent your years of schooling learning from electronic textbooks. Gutenberg had worked tirelessly centuries before to perfect the Kindle but now Jeff Bezos is heralding the remarkable new technology of the printing press and the amazing books it churns out. Where would the new book pale in comparison to the old ebook? What are the reasons we would give to remain with the status quo? Here are a few:

. . . .

Dictionaries. We would be amazed that anyone would expect us to consult an entirely different book—a big, heavy dictionary that may be in an entirely different room—when we need to look up an unfamiliar word. In an ebook the dictionary is built right in! Simply tap on the word and immediately we can read a dictionary definition. I look up far more words when reading ebooks than printed books because of the sheer convenience and simplicity of it.

Indexes. Indexes would perplex us. Why would we want to have an index, a list of words with their corresponding page numbers, only at the end of the book? This would prove itself in no way superior to the ability to tap a search button, type in a word or two, and gain immediate access to every use of it within the book. An index would represent a dramatic step backward.

. . . .

Security. We might hear about a person who lost his library to a natural disaster and blame it on the medium. We might say something like, “That’s what happens when you commit to paper books. You’re only ever one fire or flood away from losing it all.” Physical objects are always in danger of some kind (see Matthew 6:19-20). With ebooks our collection is always available and always backed up, endlessly duplicated for our convenience.

Link to the rest at Challies.com and thanks to Darren for the tip.

Whoever feels like innovating e-books, please raise your hand!

7 June 2016

From Chris Meadows on TeleRead:

Why isn’t anyone innovating in the e-book market? More importantly, is there any reason why anyone should innovate?

Jason Illian, founder and CEO of Bookshout!, poses the former question in a blog post to Digital Book World. We’re landing rockets on barges and doing all sorts of other amazing things with tech, and yet mass-market e-books are still effectively in the same place as they were nearly ten years ago when Amazon first introduced the Kindle. Why haven’t they advanced appreciably since then?

Illian proposes three reasons for this. First, e-books only make up about $500 million out of Amazon’s $107 billion in revenue—not even half a percent. Amazon could stop selling e-books tomorrow without substantially affecting its bottom line—so what incentive does it have to do much of anything to change it up? Small wonder its only major Kindle innovation this year was a $300 e-reader.

Second, Amazon might be slow to innovate, but the publishers are even slower. By and large, Illian, notes, publishers are doing a terrible job getting anywhere with e-books. Whether it’s the folly of agency pricing, or the backward thinking of publishers who don’t even know where their e-books are being sold, Amazon doesn’t have to do very much at all to stay out in front.

. . . .

[A]s with most people who beat the drum for e-book innovation, I think Illian is missing an important fourth factor: There’s no consumer demand for better e-books. If there was, someone would rush to fill it. If not Amazon, maybe one of those competitors who are still scrabbling for a foothold in the e-book market—Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, even independent outfits like Smashwords or Scribd.

If there was a consumer need Amazon wasn’t filling, and by doing so they could differentiate themselves from Amazon, and hence broaden their market, you’d think all three of the major competitors would be jumping to it.

. . . .

Illian just says the problem with e-book innovation is that there isn’t any; apparently actually coming up with ideas is work for somebody else. I don’t blame him, because figuring something out surely won’t be easy.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

PG says Amazon has been doing plenty of ebook innovation aimed toward pleasing readers and indie authors with programs such as the Kindle Owners Lending Library, paying author for pages read.

Another example is syncing the ebook and the audiobook so a reader can stop reading an ebook and start listening to the audiobook at exactly the same place and vice versa. You can read on your tablet and listen to the audiobook on your smartphone without losing your place on either.

PG thinks the author of the original article that Chris discusses in the OP is looking for some sort of fancy stuff in the ebook itself. PG has been hearing about enhanced ebooks for years, but has always wondered if readers really care about anything other than text for 99% of their reading. He agrees with Chris that there’s no demand from readers for anything different in the ebook itself at the moment.

Video or pictures or different page designs are available all over the internet, just a click away from the ebook for tablet or smartphone readers, so why would they necessarily care about having that sort of thing in their ebooks?

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