Monday Ebooks: Glowlights and Lawsuits Edition

Standard

Welcome to Monday Ebooks, in which the Editrix takes a most harmless delight.

First, the good news–a new gadget! Which, for us, is always fun.

Barnes & Noble has announced a new version of its NOOK Simple Touch ereading device, with availability in early May. The device is by all accounts slightly lighter–.5 ounces/15 grams–and some reports say the touch technology has undergone some slight improvements; but the big difference is the inclusion of an integrated reading light that illuminates the eInk screen. It is not backlit, like the NOOK Color and Tablet; it is simply an integrated reading light that illuminates the screen from around the side. It was designed for reading in bed, while your partner sleeps, undisturbed by the glow from your gadget. Continue reading

Midweek Ebooks: Touch Edition

Standard

Welcome to Midweek (usually Monday) Ebooks, in which the Editrix indulges her most harmless delight in electronic books and gadgets with which to read them.

It’s been an exciting few weeks in ebook land! Prices of devices are dropping and new ebook readers are coming out from the top players. First Amazon announced a new model of the Kindle–the same (really nice) device as the current Kindle, with only a wifi radio, but bargain-priced at $114. The caveat: one must accept ads and special offers shown as screensavers while the device is in “sleep” mode.

Observers of the ebook industry have long predicted the rise of ad-supported ebooks–perhaps even free ebooks supported by ads, an idea that has been received with mostly suspicion and disgust by actual readers. However, it can be argued that Amazon’s approach at least isn’t very intrusive–the ads/special offers only appear while the reader is in sleep mode, not while one is actually reading; and some of the special offers are actually desirable coupons, the same sort of thing one might receive from Groupon (here’s a list of some of the more attractive offers). Continue reading

Monday Ebooks: A Tale of Two E-Readers Edition

Standard

Welcome to Monday Ebooks, in which the Editrix indulges her most harmless delight in electronic publications, and welcome to another Teal Deer!

nookcolorWe’ve recently added two new devices to our stable: a Kobo eReader purchased at a closing Borders store and, most delightfully, a Nook Color from Barnes & Noble. We had large ebook libraries from both the Kobo and Barnes & Noble stores, so the purchases made sense; the former was the least expensive ebook reader we’ve ever purchased. (For those keeping score: yes, that makes SIX ebook readers. We are selling several of them, if we ever get around to it.)

We can recommend both devices wholeheartedly. The Kobo is an excellent basic reader, with software updated in the past couple of weeks. It has wifi connectivity, though it is only used to download/sync books purchased from Kobo (you can sideload other epub-format books if they use Adobe Digital Editions DRM–except for books purchased from Barnes & Noble–and of course non-DRMed ebooks, no matter how they got that way *cough*). The device is light and has a 6″ eInk screen, so it is easy to read. The navigation, operated by a D-pad button on the front and four dedicated buttons on the side of the device, is a bit clunky, but once you get the hang of it, you can navigate relatively quickly. Continue reading

Monday Ebooks: Shiny Edition

Standard

nookcolor(Yes, we know it’s Tuesday. Work with us here.)

So did anyone get a new ebook reader for Christmas (or winter holiday of choice)? Do you have any questions or problems? Ask away–whatever the Editrix can’t help you with, perhaps we can crowdsource from a reader and fellow ebooker. We’re particularly interested in hearing from those who received the Nookcolor. We checked it out at B&N and it’s a pretty slick piece of kit. How do you like yours?

Just to prove that this is actually Jane Austen-related, here’s an article about how classic titles, including Herself’s novels, are becoming bestsellers once again as more and more people acquire ebook readers. The article doesn’t point out how many of those are free downloads, however. When the Editrix acquires a new ebook reader (we’re up to four now…and yes, we find that as nerdy and embarrassing as we probably should) the first thing we do is load up the “Hall of Fame” authors–all our favorites, most of them free classics.

Monday Ebooks, Outlier Edition

Standard

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books recently ran several reviews of ebook readers as a comparison for their readers who are considering purchasing such a device. We were amused when we realize that we now own four (yes, FOUR) ebook readers and none of them are one of the best-known devices: Kindle, nook, Sony or Kobo. Our Inner Geek is continually fascinated by the hackability and flexibility of these lesser-known devices, and combined with a general suspicion of closed ecosystems and some good timing (that is, good deals on new and gently used devices falling in our way), we find ourself an ebook device outlier. Continue reading

Monday Ebooks: Freebies Edition

Standard

Welcome to Monday Ebooks, in which the Editrix has a most harmless delight.

We wrote a couple of weeks ago about the ebook reader price wars going on between Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Farhad Manjoo predicted in Slate that Amazon will lower the price of the wifi Kindle to $99 for the holiday season, even if they have to take a small loss on the device, citing surveys that the ebook adoption tipping point will occur with the first $99 reader. This article has several problems, one of which being that Manjoo completely ignores the presence of any reader other than the Kindle and the iPad. That assumption is common; many commentators–many of which have never really tried an ebook reader for longer than five minutes, tossing it aside when they realize they can’t use Twitter or get e-mail or play WOW on it–think Amazon will outlast all its competitors. We find this argument lacking, as we wrote in our last Monday Ebooks post, not to mention way too North America-centric. Kindle is in Europe, it is true, but not in the huge Russian and Chinese ebook markets; and many of the books Amazon can sell in America cannot be purchased by readers in other countries, in particular Australia, a large English-speaking market which has great difficulty purchasing ebooks from Amazon. It’s way too early to predict a winner now; and we would be very upset were either Amazon or Apple (or the two together) to control the ebook market. Competition, in this market, is a GOOD THING for everyone, readers and authors and publishers; well, maybe not so much for retailers.

All that being said, we would like to take the opportunity to remind our Gentle Readers that you don’t really need to buy a special device to read your ebooks. If you have a smartphone such as a BlackBerry, an iPhone, an Android phone, or a Palm WebOS phone (holla!), you already have a portable device that can be used to read ebooks. And you don’t even need to pay for books, if you’re happy reading public domain books. Continue reading

Monday Ebooks: Price Wars and New Kit Editions

Standard

It’s been a while since we’ve got it together to post a Monday Ebooks, and as usual the ebook world has moved so quickly we’ve missed a lot.

We wanted to point out that Barnes & Noble is giving away copies of its B&N Classics editions ebooks all summer, 12 each week, complete with introduction and notes as in the paper book. This week’s selection includes several Jane Austen novels. They switch out on Sunday, so if you want them, make sure you download them soon. You don’t need a device to read the books–you can get the B&N Reader software for your PC or smartphone.

As far as the devices go, the two biggest ebook/hardware providers, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, are engaging in a price war. B&N lowered the price of its nook reader to $199, providing a second, wifi-only model for $149. Amazon responded by lowering the price of Kindle to $189, and recently introduced a new, sleeker, lighter Kindle at the same price and a wifi-only model at $139. A $99 device, perhaps from Kobo or Sony, can’t be too far behind.

The press is trumpeting that this means the second- and third-tier sellers that few have heard of will fall by the wayside. This strikes us as a particularly American-centric viewpoint. Russia is a huge ebook market, and Pocketbook is selling thousands of devices there as well as in Europe and even the U.S. (we confess to drooling a bit over the Pocketbook 360look at that case isn’t it darling squeeee!) Asia is another huge market, and Hanlin and Netronix are producing OEM devices for the lesser-known companies such as Astak, Bebook and Bookeen–great devices, especially for those who like to play with their electronic toys a bit, but they are currently not really competing on price in the U.S. Kindle and nook are top of the heap. Kindle is cheaper, has more and cheaper ebooks, but nook is more open–you can buy books from other bookstores and borrow ebooks from public libraries that use Overdrive, which is most of them in the U.S. (the Editrix’s county libraries just got ebooks–squeee!). In either case, they are designed to get the purchaser to stick to that company’s particular ecosystem, which is just good business.

One of the most exciting things about the new Kindle model is the Pearl eInk screen, which has better contrast and is therefore easier to read. We are assuming that the new screen will trickle out to the other sellers, and probably won’t upgrade our current device, an Astak EZReader Pocket Pro, until it does. Exciting times are ahead!