The Case for E-galleys

From Publishers Weekly:

One of the biggest “first-world problems” to arise during 2020’s necessary isolation in response to Covid-19 has to do with e-books. I’m specifically talking about e-galleys, the early versions of books that critics, reviewers, and librarians often receive from publishers in place of paper versions.

Back in 2005, I ordered the first-generation Kindle straight away. I loved it, too. But it wasn’t my first go-round with electronic reading. At two magazines where I’d worked, I’d tested different e-readers. I was an early adopter, and I’ll never apologize for it.

However, in the 15 years since buying that first device, I’d fallen off the e-reading bandwagon. I’d moved on from working at the intersection of publishing and technology to a role as a literary journalist and book critic. As I began writing more and more, I began receiving more and more print books. No longer did I have to request a galley or a finished book; the floodgates burst, those floodgates being the shelves in my home office, which now groan with galleys, ARCs, trade paperbacks, and hardcovers.

I’m not complaining. It remains a thrill for me to dig into a pile of book mail and see the beautiful volumes that authors and publishers work so hard to write and produce. My home has “real” books in almost every room, and don’t get me started on the books I’m saving for our daughters to share with their own children one day.

But the e-readers I’ve had over the years have convinced me that there’s a time and place for digital copies. For me, that time and place is in my professional life. Being able to download books from NetGalley and Edelweiss, or receive PDFs from various imprints, has saved my shoulders, eyes, and calendar. I no longer tote multiple books with me on business trips or vacations or even across town. My e-reader allows me to store hundreds of titles, so I always have books for assignments, books to consider, and books for pleasure in one place. The e-ink of the Paperwhite is easy on my eyes, and at times when I choose to read on my phone or a tablet, I can easily adjust the font depending on where I am and which glasses I have nearby.

Almost all of my colleagues—editors and producers and reviewers—say they loathe e-galleys. They complain about them loudly on social media, and more quietly at lunches, moaning about how they need the “feel” of a book, need to be able to flip back and forth, to highlight passages, make notes in the margins. “No e-galleys! No PDFs!” they cry, yearning for the day when Covid-19 isolation ends and they can once more receive large piles of Tyvek envelopes filled with paper.

First, I say, enjoy the feel of a book on your own time; when we’re trying to decide which of a month’s five dozen novels belongs on a list, its feel has nothing to do with its candidacy. Second, you can highlight and annotate e-books quite easily—maybe even more easily, than you can paper books. Third, while it’s true that flipping back and forth is tougher with a digital volume, the blessed search function makes up for it. Want to go back to the spot where the protagonist drops the vial of poison? Just type in vial and there you are. I’ve found the blessings of e-galleys far outweigh their curses, and that goes for PDFs, too—a little more unwieldy, but similarly convenient.

To my digital-shy colleagues, I would also say: think about resources. Digital devices do drain them, but if you have devices already—and I know you do—then receiving digital books saves on the production materials, shipping materials, and fuel used in creating and distributing print galleys.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG recently wanted to read an older book by Aaron Elkins that Mrs. PG had recommended to him and was part of the paper library that hadn’t been donated to the local library.

It just didn’t feel right and making certain he didn’t lose his place when he took a break was a bit of a pain. Instead of just putting his Paperwhite down, knowing that it would look exactly the same when he picked it up again after five minutes, 30 minutes, 90 minutes, etc., PG had to prop the ancient trade paperback open and worry that he might bump it in a typically clumsy fashion when he came back to sit down. (PG knows: First World Problem).

The biggest drawback is that PG loves to read while lying flat on his back. No pillow, just a mattress. Just flat. A careless moment on a motorcycle in college adjusted PG’s spinal column a bit, so ultra flat feels perfect.

He’s mentioned his weird-looking prism glasses before. They slip over PG’s computer glasses (which work better than no-line bifocals) and make reading very pleasurable. The featherweight Paperwhite is easy to hold with one hand and PG’s right thumb is just as automatic as his paper-turning right hand used to be.

Walmart Tipped to Take on Ipad with Its Own Android Tablet

From Slashgear:

Walmart plans to launch an Android tablet designed to compete with the cheapest iPad model, according to a new report. The sources claim Walmart’s tablet will be ‘kid-friendly’ and sold under the retailer’s ONN store brand. The company has confirmed plans to offer this tablet, but didn’t provide any official details about it, such as price and launch date.

Walmart already offers a number of electronics under its ONN brand, though they are primarily accessories like headphones. The company reportedly plans to focus on electronics and home items over the following year, at least according to alleged senior management presentations leaked by Bloomberg.

Among its alleged tablet plans is said to be a model designed for — or at least capable of being used by — kids. This model will supposedly undercut Apple’s cheapest iPad model, which is currently priced at $329 USD. It’s unclear whether the model will offer anything special as an attractive lure from Apple’s 9.7-inch slate.

. . . .

It’s unclear whether Walmart’s kid-friendly tablet will target older kids or come with the same protection features and parental controls as the Amazon Kindle Fire Kids Edition.

Link to the rest at Slashgear

You Tell Me: How Often Do You Buy a New eReader?

Nate has a question at The Digital Reader:

When it comes to mobile devices, some tend to get replaced faster than others. People hang on to laptops for as many as six to eight years, while smartphones tend to get replaced every other year (if not more often).

If we made a spectrum to track device lifespans, ereaders would be listed at the far end with laptops.

eReaders don’t change that much from year to year, so as a result people tend to hold on to them. For example, some brands such as Amazon and Kobo have used the same CPUs for years and years (it wasn’t until the Oasis that Amazon finally upgraded to a dual-core CPU). And even when the screen resolution improved, it was sometimes hard to see the difference and thus hard to justify replacing a device that worked just fine.

So tell me, how long do you hold on to your e-reading device?

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

PG likes technology that can do many things well.

PG loves, loves, loves technology that does something important perfectly.

His Kindle Paperwhite presents books for reading perfectly.

It’s small, light and completely operable with the right thumb.

The screen is perfectly legible when the lights are on or they’re off.

Its battery life approaches infinity.

It’s better than a paper book because it’s lightweight, it’s simpler to tap the screen with your thumb than to turn a page, you don’t lose your place if you drop it, it’s thinner than any printed book PG is interested in reading and you can take as many books as you like on vacation while still using only a single suitcase.

If you finish a book by a newly-discovered author you really like at 7:00 pm, you can immediately start reading the sequel without going anywhere.

PG bought a plain-vanilla Kindle before the Paperwhite was released and used it with some regularity, but the crisper screen of the Paperwhite together with the ability to use it in dim light or no light made all the difference.

 

 

Barnes and Noble’s newest Kindle competitor is a 7-inch, $49 Nook

From Ars Technica:

Barnes and Noble hasn’t given up on its Nook tablets—quite the contrary, in fact. Last month, the bookseller debuted its biggest Android reading tablet yet, a $129, 10.1-inch slab with room for up to 256GB of storage. And today, Barnes and Noble came out with another, much more affordable tablet: an updated version of its two-year-old, 7-inch Nook that costs only $49.

The new Nook looks nearly identical to the previous model, which was the smallest Nook when it came out a couple of years ago. The black slate has a 7-inch, 1024×600 display on it, as well as a microUSB port for charging, a headphone jack, and a microSD card slot. The original tablet had a mere 8GB of onboard storage, but the new device starts at 16GB. With the microSD card slot, you can have up to 128GB of total storage—enough to support numerous e-books and a decent number of Android apps.

In addition, the tablet has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, front- and rear-facing cameras (the former being a VGA camera and the latter being a 2MP shooter), and up to seven hours of battery life on a single charge. It’s certainly not the most capable Android tablet, but at $49, it’s one of the most affordable available.

. . . .

Nooks primarily serve as Barnes and Noble’s e-readers even if the availability of Android and Google Play expands their capabilities.

Link to the rest at Ars Technica

PG was reminded of an Erma Bombeck quote, “Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity.”

Tablet Sales Are on the Decline, but Apple and Samsung Are Leaving Amazon in the Dust

From Fortune:

Apple and Samsung are the leading companies in the shrinking tablet market.

That’s according to the International Data Corporation’s report published Thursday on worldwide tablet shipments for the second quarter of 2018.

The research firm said that overall shipments plunged 13.5% year-over-year in the second quarter to 33 million, underscoring the tough tablet market that has been steadily declining for some years.

One possible reason for the drop in tablet shipments might have to do with people and businesses appearing to be buying personal computers instead of the tablets, according to IDC senior research analyst Jitesh Ubrani.

Ubrani noted in the IDC report that while businesses seemed interested in so-called detachable tablets that function with removable keyboards, “those operating on tighter budgets have had very few options available to them and hence some have opted for traditional PCs.”

. . . .

Apple was the leading tablet company in the second quarter of 2018 having shipped 11.5 million devices, which was relatively flat year-over-year. Apple now commands about 35% of the overall market, the data showed.

. . . .

Samsung was the second biggest tablet company, and shipped 5 million devices in the second quarter, which was a 16% year-over-year drop.

. . . .

Amazon had the biggest drop in tablet shipments, with the online retailer shipping 1.6 million devices in the second quarter, which marked a whopping 33.5% drop from the same quarter a year ago.

. . . .

IDC attributed Amazon’s big drop in tablet shipments to a “saturated market,” presumably due to Amazon’s cheap Fire tablets, which the company has heavily discounted over the years, particularly around events like Black Friday.

A previous IDC report said that one reason Amazon is content to sell cheap Fire tablets is because “the company remains highly focused on acquiring additional Prime subscribers regardless of the type of device used.”

Link to the rest at Fortune

PG’s unscientific personal observation is that many people seem to keep their tablets and ereaders for a longer time than they keep other electronic devices (smartphones, for example).

If true, he suspects part of the reason is that the features/performance of new tablets are not improved enough to provide a significant benefit with respect to the way the older tablets are used.

But he could be wrong.

Why Amazon keeps making tablets when the market has been struggling

From The Washington Post:

The tablet, as a gadget, hasn’t had a great couple of years. The Consumer Technology Association, the tech industry group, expects that sales of tablets will drop 12 percent this year and revenue for those sales will drop 13 percent, extending several quarters of steady decline. The main bright spot in the market has been high-end laptop replacements, such as the Microsoft Surface or iPad Pro, with detachable keyboards. The familiar slate design has all but gone to collect dust in many minds.

That is, except at Amazon.com. There, tablet sales seem to be growing, and the products remain an integral part of the company’s strategies for selling its goods and services to consumers. Amazon ended 2017 as the world’s second-largest tablet maker, behind Apple, having overtaken Samsung during the holiday season, according to International Data Corp., which tracks tablet shipments.

Last week, the online retail giant released a new version of the Amazon Fire, the Kids Edition HD 10, a durable 10-inch tablet aimed at children, for $200. It also released a $40 dock that lets tablet owners put their devices into “Show Mode,” turning them into a screen that acts more like a small television for watching on-demand video, which you can control with your voice.

. . . .

Amazon doesn’t release sales figures, but analysts at IDC said that last year the company’s tablet business grew 50 percent in the holiday quarter,when it makes most of its tablet sales. Compare that with Apple, which IDC estimates saw just 0.6 percent growth at that time, or Samsung, which saw its market share decline by 13 percent from the previous year.

One likely reason behind Amazon’s success is that its tablets are inexpensive. A basic iPad will cost you $329; Amazon’s comparable tablet comes in at $150. Those prices are so relatively low that it may be easier to justify buying one to watch YouTube videos in the kitchen or to hand to the kids as a gadget of their own before buying them something pricier.

. . . .

But a relatively cheap price doesn’t sell a device all on its own. Amazon has also doubled down on pushing tablets as an entertainment experience. Take Show Mode. The feature allows you to watch content on your tablet on an ideal screen. “If you look at the usage on tablets, they’re essentially a television replacement,” Guenveur said.

Tablets also provide an alternative to dedicated Alexa devices, such as the Echo, she said. The Fire HD tablets now have Alexa voice control, allowing you to interact with them as you would with the Echo or Dot.

. . . .

With Amazon tablets, you never have to be without Alexa. And that’s exactly what Amazon likes to hear.

Link to the rest at The Washington Post

PG suspects there may not be a very large overlap between the markets and reasons for a lot of consumers to purchase an iPad and a Kindle.

The Kindle is fine for kids. For one thing, the Amazon Kid’s Tablet – $99/two for $149 – when PG just checked prices) is as close to indestructible as a tablet is likely to get plus it has a two-year warranty in case you back over it with a dump truck. Combining the durability, price point and warranty, it’s a killer deal for parent-regulated video consumption, silence from the back seat, etc. And don’t forget that it comes with internet kid-safeness all ready to go.

Plus, of course, the Kindle is a near-ideal way of teaching children that Amazon is the place where you can buy anything online. The lifetime value of a customer who gets hooked on Amazon at age 7 is huge. Online purchases = Amazon.

iPads are lovely devices, but scratches on the screen or the case show. The Kindle is sort-of splash-proof, but even if your child drops it in the toilet, a parent is going to cringe less if a replacement costs $99 (or maybe free under warranty) instead of $400.

As BookExpo and New York Rights Fair Open: Warnings for Publishers

From Publishing Perspectives:

‘Your competitors like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Audible,’ publishers will hear this year at BookExpo and the rival rights fair, ‘are more than willing to fill the gap.’

. . . .

The reality, he says, is that “big data” is not really the stuff of most publishers’ future traction in a digital world. Something that may well seem like “little data” is, because it’s more available, readable, and actionable than the “big data” operations of major tech forces in the marketplace.

And the “invitation to a wild ride” he’s talking about is one that some will not accept gladly. It requires studying and analyzing many available “tracks” and trends at once, right down to what’s in a publisher’s “own backyard,” as we might say. “Who on your staff and around your own house reports back, in some structured way,” he asks, “on what they read, or how their kids operate their smartphones?”

What Wischenbart says he’s seeing is that even in the largest houses, such as Penguin Random House with its armada of imprints “acting like little companies,” the corporation can certainly engage in larger data activities, “but they don’t have the tool set,” he says, “to listen to what their employees are doing.”

. . . .

“[E]ven traditional readers—a majority of them urban, well-educated and older than 40—have seen their ‘mobile time’ rising from a modest 26 minutes in 2012 to more than one hour in 2017.”

Among Millennials, he says, “mobile time” may be expanding to as much as three hours per day.

But look at corresponding numbers in publishing markets that Wischenbart cites in his new article.

In Germany, data in Wischenbart’s report shows more than 6 million book buyers disappearing in the past five years . . . . Today, publishers there, he says, see a maximum audience of some 30 million in a total population of 80 million.

. . . .

Wischenbart has his fictitious publisher say to herself, “We need to stick to our bread and butter, to the rare books that hit the top of the charts, the well-established authors. Well, we even need the copy-cat income, or other cheap thrills, to simply secure a continuous income.”

But is that true? Wischenbart agrees in an interview with Publishing Perspectives that the blockbuster isn’t where publishers can afford to focus today, and not only because we’re in a largely blockbuster-less drought in the US market.

Wischenbart agrees that the buyer of the biggest blockbuster may do no more for the industry and for reading than pay for her or his one copy: these are generally not habitual readers. They’re novelty readers, readers drawn to the occasional breakthrough phenomenon, entertainment patrons who drop in on the world of books to catch a peak moment, then sail off to cinema, video, games, and music.

“I would phrase it this way,” Wischenbart says from his office in Austria. “First, the transformation that has been predicted now is here. It has arrived. We’re not talking about the future.

“And the transformation is much deeper” than many who became fixated on ebooks and perhaps today are transfixed by audiobooks’ uptake might think. “It’s a transformation of consumer behavior and habits.

“Second, such rough waters of transformation are creating higher risk” than publishers may have realized, not least because they’ve thought of “digital” as being about formats and largely now accomplished.”

. . . .

“I do see a difference in the US and UK markets and the rest of the world,” he says, in terms of how in the big US and UK markets, publishing has an upbeat sense that it knows where it’s going. “Hardly anyone in the industry in continental Europe or elsewhere feels so comfortable.”

The sense of greater comfort, command, and solidity in the UK and American markets, he agrees, may come from a plethora of self-congratulatory awards programs and morale-boosting coverage. “They’re always winning,” he says about such trends, which can lead a market to believe that all is going better than may be the reality.

. . . .

“Right now, my inkling is that a lot of truly critical information sits in drawers and on hard disks, underused, if noticed at all.

“We see, day by day, how publishing is getting ever more segmented. From formerly three distinct sectors, trade or consumer versus educational versus professional or academic, we have moved into an ever-thinner slicing of the cake that used to be served in the business of books.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG has long noted that the traditional book business lacks even rudimentary data skills.

Its reliance on Neilson and other data sources that do not include data from Amazon, by far the world’s largest bookstore, is Exhibit A.

Exhibit B is Big Publishing’s schizoid frienemies attitude toward Amazon, its largest customer.

For those who are newcomers to the recent history of Big Publishing’s strategies for dealing with ebooks and Amazon, in 2012, the United States Department of Justice charged Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan with illegally conspiring with Apple to fix ebook prices in the United States.

This group was conspiring to keep ebook prices high to prop up sales of printed books. Amazon, which was selling ebooks at low prices to help sell Kindle devices and expand the ebook market, was the target of this conspiracy.

In 2013, after each of these large publishers had admitted to acting in violation of antitrust laws, a trial judge found Apple guilty of participating in this same illegal price-fixing conspiracy. Apple appealed and the trial court’s decision was affirmed in 2015.

Exhibit C is Author Earnings, a small organization that does have people with good data skills.

Beginning in 2014, Author Earnings began to release a series of reports that detailed ebook sales on Amazon by both traditional publishers and by individual self-publishers working through the Kindle Direct Publishing program. This series of reports demonstrated that ebook sales indie authors were a large and growing segment of the overall ebook market.

As additional Author Earnings reports were released periodically, they reflected the continuing growth in the market for indie-published ebooks. Indie authors came to dominate ebook sales in the romance, fantasy and science fiction genres.

Had Big Publishing been willing to hire employees with any sort of data skills, it could have duplicated the work of Author Earnings and developed even more sophisticated analyses because of access to its own ebook sales data (which was not made available to Author Earnings).

Big Publishing has consistently elected to base its business decisions on hunches generated by a small group of former English majors running its businesses in Manhattan. The “golden gut” school of publishing management has resulted in Big Publishing missing the ebook train and failing to treat Amazon as a potential window into the rapidly-changing and ever-growing ebook market.

Another disadvantage Big Publishing has is that, by New York City standards, it doesn’t pay very well. A twenty-something with data skills can receive a much larger salary from any number of other employers who are not in the publishing business.

PG will restrain himself from commenting on the blinkered view of the world common in the large European holding companies that own all but one of the largest US publishers. Suffice to say, New York publishing executives are not receiving a lot of phone calls and emails from Europe urging them to invest more in technologies and people that will position the publisher favorably for a new and different future.

There is a growing negative sentiment towards e-readers

From Good Ereader:

There are many mainstream online media outlets that proclaim that the e-reader has lost its shine and that the hardware is in a state of decline.  The Barnes and Noble Nook is cited as the leading example of an e-reader that was once relevant, but not anymore.  Are people no longer buying new e-readers anymore and reading on their smartphones and tablets? Is it simply the case of  e-readers not being trendy or hip anymore?

Tom’s Hardware believes that e-readers are catering to a diminishing audience. “More than one-quarter of U.S. adults read no books in 2016; of the 74% who did, some read a single book “in part.” The average U.S. reader finishes from four to 12 books per year, depending on whether you want to go with the median or the mean. The number of people who read, and the amount that they read, have both been steadily decreasingsince the early ’80s.”

Only 19% of U.S. adults owned an e-reader in 2015, and the numbers didn’t vary much by sex, location or age. Twenty-seven percent of affluent individuals surveyed owned an e-reader, and they were the most enthusiastic buyers by far. Compare and contrast: 68% of U.S. adults owned a smartphone in the same year, and 87% of affluent individuals did, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

. . . .

The Barnes and Noble Nook has garnered the most negative sentiment about their e-reader unit. Fortune said “As for its once large Nook e-reader business, Barnes & Noble at least stopped losing money on it, but sales fell 28% as device prices fell. Nook, launched in 2009, held its own against Amazon’s Kindle for a while. And Barnes & Noble, which has lost about $1.3 billion in the last six years on the Nook business, says Nook is essential to feeding its e-book and online business. But given the performance of Nook, and the resources it siphons away, one analyst wondered whether it was time to pull the plug on what was once a $933 million a year business. Nook had sales of $146.5 million last fiscal year. ”

“The fact the business is shrinking by so much demonstrates it is a very ineffective platform,” Neil Saunders, Managing Director of GlobalData Retail. “B&N would be better to scrap NOOK entirely and focus its efforts in developing a better online platform and apps to support its business.”

. . . .

Arnaud Nourry, chief executive of Hachette Livre, made the comment to the Indian news site Scroll.in in a wide-ranging interview about Hachette’s future in India, which also touched on digital publishing. According to Nourry, the “plateau, or rather slight decline”, that ebook sales have seen in the US and the UK in recent years is “not going to reverse. It’s the limit of the ebook format. The ebook is a stupid product. It is exactly the same as print, except it’s electronic. There is no creativity, no enhancement, no real digital experience,” said Nourry.

This lack of creativity is partly publishers’ lack of digital know-how, according to Nourry. “We, as publishers, have not done a great job going digital. We’ve tried. We’ve tried enhanced or enriched ebooks – didn’t work. We’ve tried apps, websites with our content – we have one or two successes among a hundred failures. I’m talking about the entire industry. We’ve not done very well.  “I’m convinced there is something we can invent using our content and digital properties beyond ebooks, but I reached the conclusion that we don’t really have the skills and talents in our companies, because publishers and editors are accustomed to picking a manuscript and creating a design on a flat page. They don’t really know the full potential of 3-D and digital,” he said.

“Part of the positive pressure that digital has exerted on the industry is that publishers have rediscovered their love of the physical,” says James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones.”

“It was new and exciting,” says Cathryn Summerhayes, a literary agent at Curtis Brown. “But now they look so clunky and unhip, don’t they? I guess everyone wants a piece of trendy tech and, unfortunately, there aren’t trendy tech reading devices and I don’t think people are reading long-form fiction on their phones. I think your average reader would say that one of the great pleasures of reading is the physical turning of the page. It slows you down and makes you think.”

Link to the rest at Good Ereader

PG suggests that sales of ereaders by themselves don’t matter to both traditional and indie publishing nearly as much as sales of devices capable of functioning as ereaders. Of course this includes smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. He realizes that small and portable is preferable, but the more devices that can be used to read an ebook, the better is is for people trying to sell ebooks.

PG further suggests that growth in Amazon Fire and Kindle Ereader sales are a better single-company proxy for future ebook sales than Nook is. Barnes & Noble is circling the drain and people who pay the slightest attention to the book world and know even a little bit about tech markets understand that the Nook is a classic example of a device that’s going to be orphaned in the near future.

Any day now, Leonard Riggio is going to tell whoever the president of Barnes & Noble is this week that the Nook business has to be wound down because there’s not enough cash to support continued purchases of Nook devices. To the extent the Nook store is not already running on autopilot, Leonard will tell the CEO to try to sell it to somebody in China or put it on autopilot.

PG enjoyed the quote from a Curtis Brown agent trying to launch an unhip ereader meme suggesting everybody knows it’s way cooler to lug a hardcover book around because “think”.

It’s 2018: Why Are So Many eReader Designs So Boring?

From The Digital Reader:

Does anyone else think that ereader designs have gotten, well, rather boring?

I was looking at the new Jezetek ereaders this morning when I couldn’t help noticing how similar they looked to all other Kindle competitors out there. They were basic black rectangles with a screen and a few buttons, just like Onyx and Kobo’s devices.

When the eReader scene was new, every device looked distinct, and many were styled to look good. Now, except for the Kindle Oasis, they don’t.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

Plateau Kindle Before Peak Kindle

From Medium:

My wife thinks I’m insane. For a number of reasons, I suspect. But for the purposes of this post, I mean because of my gadget travel habits. You see, everywhere I go, I bring a MacBook, an iPad, and a Kindle. That’s on top of an iPhone, of course.

. . . .

I love my Kindle because it’s what I read every night before I fall asleep. And I know that if I don’t travel with it, I’ll get back into the bad habit of reading my phone (or tablet).³ Obviously, I check those before I go to bed, but I do try to set aside time to read without interruption before I sleep. It’s nice to read without distraction (and without as much backlight).

Couldn’t I just turn off the notifications on other devices? Sure. But I’m weak. When I read, my mind tends to wander. And on the iPad post-iOS 9, swiping left to bring up your Twitter feed is the new mind wandering. I will stray.

On the Kindle, I cannot. Yes, it has a web browser. But there’s a reason that feature has been labeled as “Experimental” since its inception. It’s terrible.

. . . .

But a quote by Dave Limp, Amazon’s head of hardware . . . seems to hold a key:

One thing about the Kindle itself won’t change, though: It’s not going to become anything more than a reading device. Amazon’s heard from so many customers over the years that they love their Kindle precisely for all the things it doesn’t do.It’s a respite from Facebook and news alerts, push notifications and emails. “The more that we’re distracted, the more valuable solitude becomes,” says Dave Limp, Amazon’s head of hardware. “The last thing I want is being absorbed into an author’s story, and get an uplevel notification for Angry Birds.” Reading is about focus, about falling out of your life and into a story, and so the Kindle is about those things too.

Link to the rest at Medium

PG doesn’t know if he will die before his Kindle Paperwhite does, but, if the Kindle goes first, he will instantly order another.

Apple Leads Q4 Tablet Market; Amazon Climbs to No. 2

From Wireless Week:

As Apple continued to dominate the tablet market in the final quarter of 2017, a new study finds that Amazon ousted Samsung to claim the second-largest share of the segment during the latest holiday shopping season.

The latest analysis from research firm IDC found that Apple shipped 13.2 million tablets in the final three months of the year. Although that represented a slight increase from the same period in 2016, the iPad maker bolstered its market share over that span from 24.3 percent to 26.6 percent.

Amazon, meanwhile, saw its shipments climb by 50 percent during that timeframe from 5.2 million to 7.7 million. The e-commerce giant bolstered its share of the tablet market from less than 10 percent to more than 15 percent.

Link to the rest at Wireless Week

Carrefour is closing their ebook store and abandons e-readers

From GoodEreader:

Carrefour is one of the largest supermarket chains in France and they have been involved in the e-reader space since 2013. The company has announced that it is closing their digital bookstore and suspending their relationship with Bookeen, who provided devices to them under the Nolim brand. This is going to result in over 2,400 people losing their jobs.

. . . .

The French ebook market will generate $442 million dollars in 2018 and 9.2% of the population reads digitally. The vast majority of users purchase their e-readers and ebooks via two companies; Amazon and Kobo. Kobo has a strategic relationship with numerous booksellers such as FNAC and Auchan. Amazon continues to be the most popular device.

Link to the rest at GoodEreader

E-Readers are Undergoing a Resurgence in 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

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

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

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?

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

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

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

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

While Apple’s iPad remained the Leader in Tablets for 2016, Innovation is needed to reinvigorate the Sector

From Patently Apple:

While Apple toppled iPad expectations for 2016, the fact remains that for the year iPad sales dropped 14.1%, more than double the industry as a whole which fell 6.6%, according to the latest TrendForce report covering the tablet market. Apple’s total shipment for 2016 came in at 42.55 million units. Strong demand for iPad in North America and exceptional results from year-end holiday sales sustained iPad shipments last year.

. . . .

TrendForce report Anita Wang pointed out that “Apple has as many as three to four new iPad products lined up for 2017. In addition to an economically priced 9.7-inch model that is ready for market release, Apple will also launch a new 12.9-inch model. Furthermore, Apple will also introduce a new 10.5-inch iPad. This will be a new size category for the device series.”

TrendForce estimates that this year’s iPad shipments will fall by 6~8% annually to around 40 million units. There are reports of a “Pro” version of iPad mini being planned. If Apple decides to release such a product this year, the annual iPad shipments may stabilize and even register growth.”

Adding more “Pro” iPad models is simply means that more iPads will be able to use Apple Pencil.

. . . .

On the flip side, Amazon’s cheapo tablet market approach allowed them to double sales (99.4% to be exact) from last year and zoom to the number three spot worldwide with 11 million units. Anyone can sell cheapo tablets at a loss like Amazon, so on that count at least Microsoft is a pure competitor trying to innovate and make a profit. Microsoft also doesn’t want to enter the lower end of the model and compete with their Windows partners.

Link to the rest at Patently Apple

PG says disruptive technology always enters and builds in a market from the cheap side up. He doesn’t know if this is Amazon’s strategy, but bang for the buck is a powerful marketing and sales tool.

Amazon tablet shipments grew by 99.4 percent in 2016

From ZDNet:

Amazon posted a phenomenal 99.4 percent annual growth in its tablet shipments for 2016, totaling 11 million units, claims a report by research firm TrendForce.

But while the huge growth seen by Amazon was enough to put the company in third place for top tablet brands and giving it a 7 percent market share, it wasn’t enough for the company to challenge the dominance of Apple and Samsung, who commanded first and second place on the list with 27 and 17.2 percent market share respectively.

Overall, global tablet shipments fell only by 6.6 percent over 2016 to 157.4 million units, with total shipments from branded vendors beating expectations as a result of strong year-end holiday sales.

. . . .

TrendForce believes that tablet shipments will continue to fall in 2017, from 157.4 million units in 2016 to 147.8 million in 2017, a fall of 6.1 percent.

Link to the rest at ZDNet

Amazon May Be About To Build A True iPad Challenger

From Seeking Alpha:

Amazon is having shortages throughout its product lineup at present. E-Readers, tablets, streaming boxes, voice assistants and Prime-exclusive phones all have at least one model out of stock for two weeks or more. All but the phones and E-Readers have half or more of their total model variants out of stock.

. . . .

It first came to my attention when I did my customary check of Amazon’s tablet devices this weekend and noticed that the Fire HD8 was now being advertised at a $120 price, $30 higher than it was at launch. At first I thought the price had actually been hiked, something almost unheard of for The Everything Store. But no. Actually, the company had just replaced the baseline variant with the 32GB expanded storage variant, which had always been $120. The reason why is simple: the more popular, 16 GB $90 version is out of stock all the way until April 7th. And the shortages are still spreading. Two of the four color variants of the HD8 32GB are also now out of stock, one until early April again and the other for up to six months!

. . . .

The shortages are also not limited just to the Fire line. They extend throughout Amazon’s device family. The Echo Black is sold out again until February 25th, just like it was over Christmas when sales rose nine times over year ago levels. The White is still in stock, however. Meanwhile, the Kindle Paperwhite has just the opposite problem: the black option is still in stock but the white is sold out. Echo’s $50 cousin, the Echo Dot, is sold out until the same date for the White color option, the black is sold out until March 2nd.

. . . .

The shortages of so many products simultaneously outside the holiday season are somewhat unusual, certainly. Usually, when products go out of stock outside the holiday crunch, it means that the devices are about to be retired and replaced with updated models. But it’s unlikely Amazon is going to literally replace its entire product lineup in the space of a few weeks.

Another explanation is that Amazon devices are just that good, just that in demand. But product shortages have now exceeded those in the heart of the holiday season, which was an unqualified success for Amazon.

. . . .

My interpretation of this data is that we are actually seeing a confluence of a couple of different trends in the device market. While a device-wide shortage might seem to imply a device-wide explanation, I think a few different things are going on. The Fire TV and Echo shortages are simply natural shortages of in-demand products in rapidly growing sectors. The HD8 shortage is probably real, but being exaggerated. The other shortages, however, are something else.

The Echo and Fire TV are really Amazon’s two most successful product lines, even above tablets. While Amazon’s tablets sell well, they are still regarded as just “good enough,” things you buy because the value per dollar is so much better even though they are not top of the line.

By contrast, Echo and Fire TV are widely seen as leaders in their field, things you buy because they are the very best money can buy.

. . . .

The tablet shortage, however, I believe does portend a pending product refresh and potentially a very significant one.

. . . .

I noted before that the HD8, while still not as cheap as its $50 cousin, is actually a pretty incredible engineering feat for Amazon. An HD upgrade used to triple the price of a Fire device. Now, it is only $40 more to get more memory, more processor power, and most importantly to many users, a battery life twice as long at 12 hours or better.

Amazon did a pretty remarkable thing achieving all of that with a 40% price cut in one year. And it has a lot of people telling tablet shoppers that they are really better-advised to spring for the extra $40 for everything they are getting for it.

. . . .

The last shortage, however, has a different cause, I think. Of all of these shortages, only one device is listed positively as out of stock indefinitely. That usually means it is never coming back, and that usually means a product refresh. It came as a surprise to more than a few people that Amazon did not update the HD10 prior to the holiday season, including me. If Amazon is now finally ready to do so, it would explain why the current HD10 is not only out of stock, but out of stock with no projected return date.

. . . .

HD10 represents Amazon’s last remaining foothold in the higher-priced market, though still nowhere near full-sized iPad prices. But it is the closest thing iPad has to a direct competitor in the Fire lineup, the one variant that almost comes off as “for iPad lovers who don’t want to pay for an iPad.”

. . . .

The HD10 upgrade may be more significant. If Amazon can reproduce the battery life gains it made with the Fire HD8 and pair them with some higher-powered processors like what it sold in the old HDX lineups, closer to what iPad and high-powered Androids offer, it will mark a new kind of Fire tablet. Or a return of the old kind, more accurately. If it can do this without any price increase and perhaps even with a price cut below the psychologically important $200 threshold – i.e. $199 – it may create a strong new challenger in a shrinking market.

Link to the rest at Seeking Alpha

Barnes & Noble pulls Nook Tablet 7-inch from sale due to faulty charger

From ZDNet:

Barnes & Noble released its latest Nook tablet, the Nook Tablet 7-inch, on Black Friday in its latest attempt to battle the success of Amazon’s popular Fire tablets. With a low price of just $50, the new Nook was supposed to compete with the dirt-cheap Fire 6, but B&N’s slate has been riddled with issues from the start.

Shortly after its launch, the Nook was found to be loaded with ADUPS firmware that could allow hackers to spy on the device’s user, presumably thanks to the Chinese manufacturer B&N used to produce it (a cost-cutting break from its partnership with Samsung and its Galaxy brand of tablets). The bookseller claims by launch it had updated the Nook to a version that did not track user data and was working on removing it from the device altogether, but it was hardly an auspicious beginning for the tablet.

Then more recently a poster on Reddit claimed to be a Barnes & Noble retail employee and claimed that the new Nook had been recalled from stores. The company’s website has also been updated to reflect that the Nook Tablet 7-inch is now “not available.”

While speculation was that B&N was unable to rid the Nook of the ADUPS spyware satisfactorily, the company told the Android Police website that it pulled the tablet from sale for an unrelated reason. It claims that three incidents of the casing of the Nook’s charging adapter breaking led to the halting of retail sales. No injuries were reported, but Barnes & Noble says that existing owners can charge the Nook via a computer instead and that the company is sourcing a replacement AC adapter.

Link to the rest at ZDNet