Saturday, November 27, 2010

Kindle gets praise. State of e-ink color, Book sales vs Ebook sales. Publishers vs library remote-lending. Amazon e-book furor


The image at the left comes from a Wikipedia entry in Poland on the Kindle(s).

I also came across a Sept. blog entry by Andrew Bolster referencing this blog's article on software update v3.0.2 (which is still the current version, as v3.0.3 is still in 'early preview' state), and that update has also solved quite a few initial problems for some who have tried the early preview.

" In short, I have never had such an aptly timed update; Its as if Amazon have psychically heard me over the Whispernet and fixed more or less everything.

" Oh, did I mention? The e-ink screen renders advanced latex-style math perfectly! This frankly amazed me. But the best thing I can say about the screen is the oft-proclaimed readability is, if anything, understated. " He adds:
' The iPad is a jack of all trades; ebooks, games, browsing, social media, media viewing and generation, and more stuff that I could never think of. The Kindle is an ebook reader, literally born and bred, with a infant browser incubating along side. When I’m reading something in an e-paper or an e-book that I have no idea about, I can pop over, spend 5 minutes familiarising myself with the wikipedia article, and go back.

I can comfortably read google reader (save for the videos) at a bus stop or on the train. If I come across a truely inspiring piece of prose, I can share it with my social network in situ. '
He's describing almost-anywhere 3G wireless when he mentions what he can do at a bus stop or on the train. Not a day goes by when I'm not asked about the WiFi-only vs 3G/WiFi Kindle. He describes pretty well what is possible with the latter -- and on a global basis. I've emphasized the feature, since 2008 when I got my first Kindle, but until the last month, most reviews or comparison articles have not mentioned a feature (now international) that normally costs so much (web-data access on demand) but which is actually available on the Kindle (UK: K3) for free now in large areas of the world.

CNET: 'Why the Kindle is the Greatest Gadget of the 21st Century'

Yes, that sounds like advertising hype, but it's written by the often tough CNet folks, in this case Jason Jenkins in the UK, and this kind of headline or story is not that unusual anymore.
' In the past decade, we've seen gadgets that subsume others, products that are devilishly shiny and widgets that are superbly simple to use. But there's only one that feels like the work of magic -- the Amazon Kindle. '

Wait, there's that word again. And there's also credit given (below) for something not often mentioned in the comparison reviews:
' Initially only available in the US, when the time came to launch it to the rest of the world, Amazon could have done what every other electronics company would have done and taken years to painstakingly negotiate a data deal with a different phone network in every country, releasing it in each territory as they went.

But that would have taken too long, so Amazon said "Screw it" and launched an international Kindle that worked everywhere and piggy-backed AT&T's American network. The risk of incurring ruinous data roaming costs must have been huge, but that one bold step catapulted the Kindle into book-reading hearts across the globe. '

The CNet website is holding a 'tournament' in which people are asked to 'vote' for their favorite gadgets of the century, and this is just one of the gadgets being matched against other ones.

That Color E-Ink Reader Demo'd in Japan

While there was a commercial photo released the other day that looked fairly nice but ultra subdued in color (and those trying it said it was quite slow and the color layer over the E-Ink caused a loss in contrast and was not as sharp or clear as an LCD image), I saw some pics today, at Nate's TheDigitalReader blog, from the FBD 2010 trade show in Japan this week. The Hanvon Reader from China is the first reader to use the new "Triton" e-ink technology.

At best, one of them looked like the old hand-painted color postcards we used to see at the beach. Most of them did not show clearly that there was color. Also see more at No surprise then that Jeff Bezos had considered e-paper type color not ready, judging by these and even by the considerably more 'colorful' picture at the right from RegHardware.

While E Ink demo staff mentioned the "thousands of colors," we are used to seeing millions on our computer monitors and in the best tablets. The resolution on the Hanvon's 9.7" screen is only 800x

RegHardware's Tony Smith adds, "Even so, E Ink marketing chief Lawrence Schwartz said that the company didn't believe Triton was an e-book reader component so much as a technology that will enable e-newspapers. Of course, there aren't going to be separate e-newspaper, e-magazine and e-book devices - they'll all become one, 5, 7 or 10in tablet. Since newspaper color photos are notoriously substandard, that could be a match. At any rate, few have mentioned that the technology won't be ready for an ereader in China until March 2011.


The Association of American Publishers reported yesterday that their tracking for September showed decreases over September of last year and that 'book sales decreased by 12.1 percent on the prior year to $1.1 billion and were up by 3.8 percent for the year to date.'

While Hardcover Children's/YA sales were down 17% in September and the YTD down by 15%, the paperback sales decrease was not as large. The Adult Hardcover category was down 40%! in September and YTD sales of these down by 8%. While Adult Paperback sales was down 15.8% for september, YTD rose 1.5% so far.

"E-book sales continue to grow, with a 158.1 percent increase over September 2009 ($39.9 million); year-to-date E-book sales are up 188.4 percent."

There's a lot more detail at the website release.


The Publishers Association has 'set out an agreed position on e-book lending in libraries that will see library users blocked from downloading e-books outside of the library premises. Faber c.e.o. Stephen Page announced the new guidelines this morning (21 October) at the CILIP Public Library Authorities conference in Leeds.'

Apparently the Overdrive library e-book lending system was seen as being too lax. So this is what the Publishers Association there wants:
' Under the new scheme, library users would have to come onto the library's physical premises to download an e-book at a computer terminal onto a mobile device, rather than downloading the book remotely.

The scheme would also see the fee paid by a library to buy a book covering the right to loan one copy to one individual at any given time, and would require "robust and secure geographical-based membership" in place at the library service doing the lending.

'Unfortunately recent activities by some library authorities have only confirmed how potentially damaging e-book lending can be if allowed to operate without controls,' he said.

'Some services were lending for remote downloads, without geographical restrictions. This was in breach of contracts between the library and aggregator, and between the aggregator and publisher, and was advertised to the general public as 'free e-books, wherever you are, whenever you want'. Under this model, who would ever buy an e-book ever again?' '

More detail at the link, of course.


There is little more reprehensible in this world than any adult sick enough to take advantage of children, so the fact that this book is sold at all is stirring up extreme revulsion and a threat to boycott Amazon if it doesn't pull the book.

The majority of quotes I saw insist that Amazon not sell this book (which Amazon at first saw as censorship they prefer not to involve themselves in but they already don't allow pornography in the self-published books, so they do already exercise censorship). Also, they don't want to censor based on a book's content being objectionable but another problem is that it is advocating activity that is illegal. I doubt they'd sell a book that guides you on how to murder or rape with care. Technorati's Curtis Silver implores Amazon to take the book down and cites a similar situation in 2002. Others ask that Amazon not cave to pressure to censor but let the customers decide not to buy the book, and Paula Bernstein of Stroller Derby points out also:
' The real irony is that until this morning — when word about the book spread through the Internet — it had only sold one copy. It’s now #158,221 in the Kindle Store. All of this moral outrage has only served to create publicity for this sickening book. '

Kindle 3's (UK: Kindle 3's), DX Graphite