Tablets/Ereaders

E-Readers are Undergoing a Resurgence in 2017

17 October 2017

From Good Ereader:

The second generation Amazon Kindle Oasis has provided a financial windfall for E-Ink Holdings, the company that powers the e-paper display. E-Ink has reported that they have experienced a four year high for September. EIH September revenues reached NT$1.691 billion (US$56.03 million) for September, up 3.3% on month and 11.3% on year. Revenues for the third quarter of 2017 totaled NT$4.791 billion, up 29.8% on quarter and 7.8% on year.

Some of our regular readers might wonder why I report on the financial earnings of a singular e-paper company. E-Ink powers the screens of every single e-reader on the market, this includes the Icarus, Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and Onyx Boox. Pixel QI and Clearink are the only two other alternatives and are not being used in any e-readers on the market. Basically, by monitoring E-Ink you can get a sense on how many units are being sold and what type of worldwide demand there is for dedicated e-readers.

. . . .

I think one of the big reasons why people are buying more e-readers this year is because they have a reason to upgrade. The new Kindle Oasis is the first Amazon branded device that is waterproof and can listen to any audiobook from the Audible library. The Oasis also features a seven inch screen, which results in more real estate for e-books to be displayed. The Kobo Aura One is most successful product in many years and I think it is the best one they ever made. They pioneered the concept of a brand new lightning system has RGB colors and serious readers are enamoured with the ability to borrow and read digital content from public libraries that do business with Overdrive.

Link to the rest at Good Ereader

Bridging the digital desktop divide with the Fire tablet

7 October 2017

From Chris Meadows via TeleRead:

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how far mobile devices have come. It used to be that mobile web browsers were effectively a joke, and mobile software wasn’t good for much but wasting time. However, in recent years tablets and phones have become more powerful than full-fledged desktop hardware of a few years before, with impressive software applications to match.

It used to be that, when it came to mobile productivity software, Windows was the only game in town. However, Apple has had strong reasons for boosting the iPad as a productivity tool—and Android hasn’t been so far behind.

Of course, as much money as the average iPad costs, it’s not a big surprise that it would be nearly as useful as one of the desktop or notebook machines with similar prices. But the thing that interests me is that it’s possible to get nearly the same degree of usefulness out of a sub-$100 Amazon Fire or Fire HD 8, which is now capable of running most Android apps that you can download from the Google Play Store.

Oh, a Fire isn’t going to be as good as an iPad at complex multimedia stuff, like music, photo, or video editing. But for the basic tasks—reading, writing, research—it could substitute for full-fledged desktops many times its price. This means it has the potential to bridge the digital divide in ways we might never have expected—not just for reading ebooks and assisting in education, but for more basic tasks. People with low or no incomes could search and apply for better jobs. Students could do homework and term papers on their tablet if their siblings or parents are using the desktop.

. . . .

We’ll start with the basics: getting text into the device. It used to be that you had to have a physical keyboard to enter text at any great speed. No matter how good a touch typist you might be, a mobile device screen would reduce everyone to one-letter-at-a-time hunt-and-peck.

But with the advances in phones and tablets have come advances in user interface as well. For one thing, cheap and good Bluetooth keyboards are now widely available. For only $18 or so, you can type comfortably into any tablet that will accept a Bluetooth hookup.

. . . .

Next, let’s look at one of the basic building blocks of Internet activity: web browsing. It wasn’t so very long ago that phone browsers were so limited that it was common to make special “mobile-friendly” versions of web sites just for them, whose URLs frequently started with prefixes like “mobile.” or “m.” Even TeleRead had a mobile theme like that at one point, though it seems to have gone by the wayside in our new incarnation; m.teleread.org now redirects to the plain-vanilla TeleRead site.

But now, mobile web browsers are capable of showing you the web just as it appears to a full-fledged desktop site. Amazon’s Silk web browser is a fast, full-featured browser choice that provides an experience not meaningfully different from how a site looks on the desktop. If you download Google Chrome and connect it to your Google account, it will even remember your preferences, web history, and other data from your desktop to your mobile browsing experience—and if there is a difference, Chrome has a “Request desktop site” choice in its three-dot options menu.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

Two-Thirds of Polish eBooks Users Use Kindles

11 August 2017
Comments Off on Two-Thirds of Polish eBooks Users Use Kindles

From The Digital Reader:

Despite of hopes to the contrary,  Amazon has largely ignored the Polish ebook market. It has no local Kindle Store there, and doesn’t even support Polish as a language option in KDP.

A new survey suggests that may have been a mistake.

The research institute ARC Rynek i Opinia revealed earlier this year that 2/3 of ebook users in Poland use the Amazon Kindle., with Pocketbook and Poland’s own InkBook brand coming in distant second and third place (11% and 7%, respectively).

. . . .

Mystery and crime novels were the most popular genre among Polish ebook readers, followed by fantasy, horror, and how-to books.

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

Ebooks and eyestrain: Eleven tips for newbies and old-timers

10 August 2017

From TeleRead:

I myself can read ebooks without interruption for just as long as I can paper ones. Let us know your own experiences with the tips below.

1. Keep in mind your environment. Eyestrain may be less of a problem if you’re reading in a bright room. Position your phone, tablet, or dedicated ereader to avoid glare from the lighting.

2. Consider the use of a frontlit E Ink reader, like the most Kindle models or the Kobos, so the light from the screen isn’t glaring directly at you. Instead, the rays from the front lights bounce off the screen just as they would off paper. Yes, this is old stuff for TeleRead regulars. But it might not be for your friends who badmouth ebooks without familiarity with all the options. Educate ’em!

. . . .

4. Experiment with boldface. It won’t just make text more readable for many people on E Ink machines, it will also allow you to crank down the backlighting or front lighting. Along the way, you’ll save battery life.  Recent Kindles offer a boldface font, and Kobos even let you vary the extent of bold on different phones. iPhones and iPads provide for bold within certain apps by way of the San Francisco font. On Android phones, you can select bold within the Kindle app.

. . . .

9. Keep in mind the bottom line. It’s not to make your ebooks look like paper. It’s to be as comfortable as possible while getting the most out of them in every respect. So don’t be shy about weird screen colors.

Link to the rest at TeleRead

PG uses plugins or settings to filter blue light on his phone and tablet when reading on those devices at night so as not to encourage his body to think it’s the middle of the day. The OP has suggestions on how to do that.

However, for reading long-form text, either in the middle of the day or at night, PG is still a giant fan of his Kindle Paperwhite. It’s small and lightweight (205 grams for the Paperwhite vs. 469 grams – just over a pound – for the ten inch iPad Pro), so it’s easy to hold for long periods of time. 205 grams is less than most paperbacks weigh. Plus, unlike a paperback, if you drop the Paperwhite, you don’t lose your place.

PG keeps the light level on the Paperwhite low, especially when reading in the dark, while maintaining excellent readability, so as not to disturb Mrs. PG’s sleep.

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

4 August 2017

From The Atlantic:

One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”

Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”

I’ve been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology. Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so. Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Then I began studying Athena’s generation.

Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it.

. . . .

What happened in 2012 to cause such dramatic shifts in behavior? It was after the Great Recession, which officially lasted from 2007 to 2009 and had a starker effect on Millennials trying to find a place in a sputtering economy. But it was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent.

The more I pored over yearly surveys of teen attitudes and behaviors, and the more I talked with young people like Athena, the clearer it became that theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night. iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone.

The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.

Link to the rest at The Atlantic

PG hesitates to question “yearly surveys of teen attitude”, but if the American Civil War, World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War didn’t destroy their generations, he still holds out hope that the iPhone won’t destroy its generation.

Technology changes certainly have an impact on society (see horse-drawn buggies vs. automobiles), but humans have shown a persistent ability to utilize new technology and still survive. But that sentiment would make a terrible title for a magazine article.

Digital page turner

12 July 2017

From The Nation:

After online shopping, internet-based finance, mobile payments and bicycle-sharing, the digital dimension in China is taking in its sweep the world of books.

The publishing industry has gone digital in a big way, spawning a market comprising 300 million users of mobile devices who read electronic books in China.

The market, which has two key sections in hardware (reading devices) and software (e-books), reached about 12 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) in sales last year, up 25 percent year-on-year, according to a report by the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association.

. . . .

With nearly an 8 percent share of the global market, China now trails only North America, the largest market for e-book readers in 2016 with a 68 percent share, and Europe (almost 14 percent share), according to market consultancy QYResearch.

. . . .

Just like in North America, where the e-book reader device market is dominated by manufacturers such as Amazon, Kobo and PocketBook (which account for a collective 75 percent of the market share), the e-reader market in China has a few big names.

Amazon with its Kindle range of devices is the common leader in both markets, but it is followed by iReader and newcomers such as e-commerce giant JD in China.

As the e-book reader pioneer, Amazon.com has created an ecosystem comprising users, digital versions of printed books, e-book stores online and e-book readers. Amazon said the China market is important for it.

Last month, it announced a strategic partnership with Migu Culture and Technology Group Co, a subsidiary of China Mobile Communications Corp, and also launched a feature-rich Kindle created exclusively for Chinese readers.

The device presents more than 460,000 Kindle e-books and over 400,000 online literature titles from Migu, one of the largest online literature platforms in China.

The made-for-China Kindle X Migu device retails for 658 yuan. “China has become the largest market in the world for Kindle and enjoys a very strong growth momentum,” said Bruce Aitken, vice-president of Amazon China and general manager of Amazon Reading.

He said Chinese book-lovers are increasingly switching over to digital reading devices, and are willing to pay for e-books. This makes Amazon bullish on the future prospects of the digital publishing industry in China.

. . . .

“We find Chinese users refer to the dictionary a lot. Especially their use of the English dictionary is higher than in any other countries, so we specifically designed a function of tips about new words, and provide English-to-Chinese/English definition automatically for Chinese readers,” Aitken said.

Amazon, he said, will launch more new functions over the next year.

Compared with printed books, the cost of e-books is very low. In fact, some of the e-books are free of charge or cost just a few dollars.

For instance, the printed version of The Shortest History of Europe, one of the top five bestsellers in 2016, is priced 25 yuan, while its e-book version retails for only 2.99 yuan.

Link to the rest at The Nation

Introducing the All-New Amazon Fire 7 and Fire HD 8 with Amazon Alexa

17 May 2017

From the Amazon Press Room:

Amazon today announced two new additions to its Fire Tablet lineup—the all-new Fire 7 and all-new Fire HD 8. Amazon’s best-selling tablet is now even better—Fire 7 features a thinner and lighter design, an improved 7” IPS display with higher contrast and sharper text, longer battery life with up to 8 hours of mixed use, 8 GB of storage with support for up to 256 GB of expandable storage, and better Wi-Fi connectivity, plus Alexa—all for only $49.99. The all-new Fire HD 8—the next-generation of Amazon’s highest customer-rated tablet—offers a stunning 8” HD display with over 1 million pixels, a quad-core processor, up to 12 hours of battery life, 16 GB of storage with support for up to 256 GB more, plus Alexa—now only $79.99. Both Fire Tablets are available for pre-order starting today.

. . . .

Alexa makes it easy to have your favorite entertainment right at your fingertips. With a simple long-press of the home button, you can ask Alexa to play your favorite movie or TV show, read aloud the latest audiobook you’ve been reading, open a game or app, turn off the lights, or adjust the temperature controls. You can even ask Alexa for the news, weather, jokes, questions, and more. Alexa provides natural-language responses, combined with on-screen information on the tablet’s display—ask for the weather and see the week’s forecast, ask to play a song and see the album cover. Since bringing Alexa to Fire Tablets last year, customers have asked Alexa for millions of songs, jokes, the weather, trivia, movies, audiobooks, and more every week.

Link to the rest at Amazon Press Room and here’s a link to more on the new Fires.

Amazon Fire Is Cooling Off, And It May Threaten Prime Growth

13 May 2017

From Seeking Alpha:

 Amazon had an amazing run of success with the fifth generation of its Fire tablets, released in fall 2015. Over the next twelve months, it regularly reported doubling sales despite the declines in the overall tablet market. Customers responded extremely well to Amazon’s renewed focus on price and value over top-end specs.

The sixth generation of Fire tablets was expected to be released in Fall 2016. But only one of the three Fire models received a refresh at that time. Despite that, sales appeared at first to be continuing upward. Amazon, as usual, did not disclose actual sales figures for Black Friday Weekend, but it did say that Fire tablet sales were double what they were last year. Fire tablets sales were also helped by the fact that they were marked down for the holidays.

. . . .

Discounts and the Black Friday report left many, including me, optimistic that Amazon would report more growth in its tablet sales for the holiday 2016 period. When it failed to do so, I flagged it as a potential setback for Amazon.

. . . .

And now IDC’s 1Q2017 report is out. And the trend has been confirmed. While Amazon remains one of the better performers in the tablet market, its growth has come to a screeching halt. Amazon sales held steady for the second straight quarter.

That beat Apple’s and Samsung’s performances – beat everyone except Huawei in fact – but marked a substantial shortfall from its prior performance, and also from what its own prior comments had indicated. And with Amazon still commanding less than 10% of the tablet market, it was not really a reflection of hitting any industry ceiling. It simply failed to continue growth.

. . . .

Fire tablet sales are very important to Amazon, but not because of the revenue they generate. They are important because selling a Fire tablet is one of the best ways for Amazon to enmesh a customer firmly in the Amazon Prime ecosystem, either selling or retaining a subscription.

With evidence suggesting that Amazon Prime subscribers buy at least twice what non-Prime subscribers do, and maybe more, off the website, this makes Fire tablets one of Amazon’s most important product categories despite the relatively low sales revenues. More Fire tablets equal more Prime subscribers.

Link to the rest at Seeking Alpha

Fire Tablet Deals

4 April 2017

Amazon is running a price promotion on Fire Tablets today, at least in the US.

If you’ve never tried one or if you want one for your writing desk and another for your bedroom, this could be a good opportunity.

Amazon Fire Tablet Sale

Sale on Kindle Ereaders

9 March 2017

Amazon is running a sale on Kindle Ereaders.

$20 off most of them until tomorrow.

PG really likes his Paperwhite, the best-selling Kindle.

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