eBooks

B&N and Amazon Planning Big eReader Hardware Refreshes?

Looks like B&N and Amazon aren’t resting on their past successes. Rumors are pegging both companies as having some refreshed hardware coming soon, possibly a tablet for Amazon and an original NOOK refresh for B&N! Let’s start with Amazon’s tablet. The rumor, admittedly unconfirmed, is that some sort of LCD-based device is coming from Amazon later this year to combat the incredible success of the NOOKcolor. Amazon has all the pieces in place for a fantastic device, with an app store, a tablet-optimized version of the Kindle app, plus the added bonus of Amazon MP3 and the new Amazon Prime…


How To View Free Books and Blogs on the Kindle

Now that the ad-supported Kindle with Special Offers (aka the Kindeal) is out, sales are apparently through the roof again. With that in mind, it seems a good time to bring up the question on many (some?) people’s minds – how do I get free stuff on the Kindle? Books There are a truly remarkable number of free digital books on the internet, legally. Everything eventually goes out of copyright and becomes public domain (and there’s a huge discussion following from that statement we’ll not get into today). Project Gutenberg is likely the oldest of the many free-text archives on…


The New York Times Ethical Dilemma

I love the New York Times “Ethicist” column, but this past weekend they ran a question that brings up many ethical dilemmas, including a conflict of interest for the Grey Lady herself. First, the question: I’m a 24-year-old freelance journalist who’s still somewhat dependent on my parents. And I’m on nytimes.com dozens of times a day. My parents are print subscribers and thus have access beyond the pay wall. Need I buy my own subscription? Also, if I buy online access, can I share the password with my live-in girlfriend, even if I move to New York for the summer?…


In the Book Race, eBooks Take the Lead

Any debate that monster eBook sales versus paper books were a fluke born out of the holiday season has been put to rest. The Association of American Publishers is reporting that eBook sales not only tripled from last year, they also blew away paper book sales. Uh-oh…maybe B&N should consider going digital faster… I find this fascinating not just because it’s big news, but also because it fits with the conversations I’ve had with random people lately. Around my office, at dinner functions, etc., anytime books come up everyone says the same thing: “I/my friend/my husband/my neighbor just bought a…


Is B&N’s Future a Digital One?

Now that Borders has one and a half feet in the grave, all eyes are on what B&N will do now. It seems like opinion is split between believing B&N will be ok and predictions that Borders fall is a precursor to the same fate at B&N. Fortune thinks the answer is simple: Kill off the bookstore business and go all digital. Specifically, here’s what Fortune thinks: The road ahead for Barnes & Noble will prove tough. Few brick and mortar companies have successfully negotiated the choppy waters to safe digital harbors. But Barnes & Noble, unlike Borders, has one…


Do Publishers Still Matter?

It all started when Doug mentioned this article on Idealog from Mike Shatzkin: Putting Books in Stores is a Subsidiary Right. This sparked a debate between us on the nature of publishing, and whether traditional publishers make sense if you’re a new author in today’s market. Doug: All I could think was, “Good work, publishers! You’ll alienate your writers even more than you already have, and *they’re the ones providing you with a product to sell*!” The ongoing stupidity of old media–music, magazines, newspapers, tv, books, you-name-it–continues to simply amaze. Carly: Very interesting. Honestly, this isn’t that surprising, and I…


JK Rowling to Finally Declare “Uncle” (er…”Kindle”)?

Good news for Harry Potter fans! There’s a rumor that JK Rowling may have finally been persuaded that the vast army of Kindles, NOOKs, and iPads should also be sprinkled with some wizarding magic, and the Harry Potter series may actually come to ebook form! According to The Scotsman: The Edinburgh-based writer has an estimated £620m fortune following record-breaking sales of the Harry Potter books and the success of the film franchise, and publishing experts say the e-book rights could be another major money-spinner for her. Liz Thomson, editor of book industry website BookBrunch, said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if…


Paperback Books Reviewed!

There’s been a huge leap forwards in book technology, and here at Gear Diary we have an exclusive first look! It’s exciting, it’s svelte and pocketable, it’s shiny and colorful and new…yes, I’m talking about the paperback book! Sure, we’re all familiar with the usual hardcovers and scrolls, but this is a breakthrough. Now you can carry two, even three titles with you for the same space and weight as a hardcover title. But is the smaller size and convenience worth the tradeoff against the heft and comforting size of a hardcover? Read on to find out! My first impression…


The New York Times Paywall and the Death of eBook Reader Subscriptions

The New York Times paywall makes a decent effort to bridge app-based subscriptions with physical papers and online access, but there’s one glaring exception: eBookstores (except Amazon’s Kindle) are being cut out of the fun. It’s looking like Amazon was able to cut a special deal, but everyone else (mainly B&N and Kobo) are not included in any such offerings, which is a slap in the face to the users who have been voluntarily paying for an electronic version of the New York Times. It just boggles my mind, since there’s really no downside to allowing these subscribers to have…


Whither Goeth the Newspaper?

I grew up in Northern Virginia right in the middle of the Nixon/Watergate madness.  Both my parents were big readers, and growing up then, and there, turned me into a big newspaper reader.  A big newspaper reader.  When I went to college, I made sure my dorm subscribed to a paper; when I moved into my own place, one of the first things I always did after getting the power and phone and such turned on was to order the paper; when we moved from Santa Cruz to San Jose, and then to Austin, I always made sure I had…


How to Get Zinio “Unofficially” Working on Your Android Device

If you’re like me, and you have been waiting for the official Zinio app for Android, then you’re going to have to wait a bit longer. I like to harass Zinio every once in a while on twitter about the Android app, and they usually tell me that it’s being worked on and to be patient. That’s all fine and well, but in the meantime, since I don’t have an apple device it’s really not worth buying any subscriptions because I have nothing to read them with. Some of the members of the XDA forums found that unacceptable, so they…


The New York Times Paywall Proves Paper Is Still King

By now you’ve probably heard about the byzantine pay wall being set up by the New York Times. It’s complicated, it’s expensive, and it proves one thing: for the New York Times, paper subscriptions are still what they care about, and digital is just a means to that end. If you haven’t already heard about the NYT pay wall, here’s how it’s going to work: 1) Buy an online+smartphone app subscription for $15 every four weeks, or roughly $180 a year. 2) Buy an online+tablet app subscription for $20 every four weeks, or roughly $240 a year. 3) Buy a…


IDC Reports eBook Sales Numbers with Some Surprising Results

IDC has done some number crunching, and their ebook sales numbers are…interesting, to say the least. They say Amazon is #1, but surprisingly Pandigital has a very strong showing against B&N, coming in third for the year but second for the fourth quarter. That’s a huge shocker, though Pandigital did flood the market with several models over the course of 2010. I do wonder why IDC didn’t include Pandigital under media tablets, since even though they’re marketed as ebook readers they all run various flavors of Android. Even more interesting, Sony’s numbers were up 80%, which sounds great…until you find…


Adventures in Customer Service- Zinio Edition

When the term “customer service” seems more like “customer lack-of-service” we like to call the company in question out. We did so with regard to AT&T Wireless. We did so with Amazon’s Kindle policy too. We’ve even done so with Apple. (Although, to be fair, both Apple and Amazon are usually amazing in the Customer Service arena.) Yes, when a company lets us down we aren’t shy about saying so. We WANT others to know! But what happens when a company goes above and beyond? What happens when a company has a glitch and, rather than trying to ignore it…


eBooks Really Are Getting Cheaper!

Over at Teleread, they have a very interesting, if unscientific, analysis of eBook pricing over the years. By taking prices from 2004 and comparing them to prices today, Chris Walters determined that there has been a slight drop in overall pricing, even if it doesn’t feel that way with the Agency Model taking away $9.99 price points! In a nutshell, Chris argues that the same books bought for $280 in 2004 would cost $213 today. Yes, it’s a subjective analysis, but as a random sampling, it’s somewhat helpful. And he further points out that the average price for fiction titles…


Andy Rooney Rants About eBooks

Apparently, Andy Rooney is not a fan of Kindles and NOOKs. His 60 Minutes rant this past week was all about ebooks. I really hate to say this about Andy Rooney, but he really missed the mark big time. He expressed surprise that paperbacks are being outsold by ebooks, and seemed wholly perplexed by the concept that an eBook reader holds 3,000+ titles. At one point he touches upon one of his books being free, though he doesn’t explain if he’s mad about piracy, or if it was some sort of “freebie” deal organized by his publisher. Sadly, the germ…


European Union Investigating eBook Pricing

It’s a safe bet that if you aren’t a publisher you’re not happy with the agency model. It did more than just change the nature of publisher/seller relations; it actively changed how booksellers could sell ebooks. Suddenly everyone had to fall in line with the exact same prices, and discounts were banned. Needless to say, this raised some regulatory eyebrows, and according to the Guardian UK, there’s been some old-fashioned office raiding over it! According to the article: The European commission has launched morning raids on several publishing houses suspected of fixing the prices of ebooks, as a huge battle for the…


The Evils of Hokey Statistics: Bad Math and Free Kindles!

As anyone who has passed the third grade knows, all you need to form a line is two points and a ruler. Add another point and you can extend the line or draw a curve, and with one more point you can describe a third-order or declare a trend! All of that is good in the abstract, but when it comes to predictive modeling you need more data … and some common sense. So I chuckled when I saw this article at TheTechnium predicting free Kindles this year. The chuckle wasn’t that the idea was preposterous – in fact, here…


Is Apple Going to Boot eBook Apps? My Conspiracy Theory…

I might be seeing conspiracies where there aren’t any, but I think I see a pattern in many business decisions going on in the eBook market lately. We’re all sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for the outcome of the in-app purchasing drama, and so far no one’s (overtly) talking. But reading between the lines tells a very different story… 1) Apple can’t be happy with how iBooks has performed so far. 100 million books downloads is an empty number, especially since everyone who downloads iBooks gets one download to go with it. With a very low number…


State of the eBook: Good News/Bad News

It’s that time again! There’s a whole slew of exciting and disappointing news in the ebook world, so let’s jump right in and take a look! The exciting news: -Asus is rumored to be releasing the EEE Note reader soon, for a very reasonable $200. The biggest thing about the EEE Note isn’t the ebook reading,  but that it will include a Wacom digitizer for note-taking. Ebooks and digital textbooks have had an uphill battle in academics in large part due to the difficulty in taking notes while reading. No guarantees the EEE Note has cracked this, but the price…


The eBook Piracy Boogeyman

Publishers looooove to complain about piracy, and how it’s going to destroy the very foundation of bookselling. That’s why they say we need digital rights management, and why there are an ongoing cat and mouse game between content providers and enterprising users finding ways to strip out the DRM and truly own their ebooks. So is the threat of piracy that real? Is a bookstore version of Napster brewing in a dorm room right now, just waiting to ensnare your Kindle in its web? Well, there might be, but apparently, the vast majority of individual titles being downloaded over peer-to-peer…