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Chris Meadows

Does anyone even want cross-platform e-book interoperability?
June 6, 2015 | 6:06 am

padlockProprietary e-book formats have been around for quite some time. Most major commercial vendors use proprietary formats to one extent or another, be they Amazon’s Kindle format or the proprietary DRM that Barnes & Noble and others put on top of EPUB. Given that they help to chill competition and keep Amazon firmly on the top of the e-book hill, they are generally not accounted to be a good thing by publishing industry activists. But I ran across a provocative post at Digital Book World suggesting that they might actually be a good thing after all. Joshua Tallent says...

CHIP Kickstarter makes full-fledged computer available for $9
June 4, 2015 | 2:24 pm

chip_gearWe’ve seen our share of rock-bottom-priced computers in the last few years—the Arduino, the Raspberry Pi, Rhombus Tech. But a Kickstarter project due to end in just under two days may have them all beat. Touting itself as “the world’s first $9 computer,” the CHIP system-on-a-chip packs a fully-powered 1 GHz, 512 megabyte RAM, 4 gigabyte storage computer into a card the size of a movie ticket. It includes Bluetooth for hooking up to controllers and peripherals, comes with Linux pre-installed, and has uses including web browsing, using LibreOffice, playing games, playing music, or even learning to code. Apparently people like...

Typo settles with Blackberry, stops making phone keyboards
June 2, 2015 | 6:20 pm

Don’t mess with Blackberry, even if you’re Ryan Seacrest. That’s the lesson Typo seems to have learned. After a lawsuit and an injunction, the company has reached a settlement with BlackBerry to stop selling its Blackberry-like smartphone Bluetooth thumb keyboards. It can still make keyboards for tablets, but its entire original raison d’être—to make a more useful smartphone keyboard—is now completely off the table. This seems like a pity for people who prefer the thumb keyboard style that’s so hard to find on non-BlackBerry touchscreen smartphones these days, but it can hardly be disputed that Typo made some pretty...

Scrivener for OS X and Windows half-off today via Macupdate.com
June 2, 2015 | 5:25 am

Here’s a great bargain for those of you using OS X: the writing app Scrivener is on sale for 50% off for the next 18 hours via Macupdate.com. This is a really handy tool and I use it all the time for writing and creating e-books out of my writings. (Some have even said it can be “a life-changing experience.”) It’s well worth its original price of $45, but at $22.50, it’s a real steal. Update: Thanks to Gary LaPointe’s sharp eyes, it turns out the Windows version is also on sale for $20. Now you have no...

Apple anti-trust monitor can stay on, appeals court rules
May 28, 2015 | 1:37 pm

My, the squabbles between Apple and the e-book anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich have been going on for a long time, haven’t they? I can’t even keep track of how many shots and volleys have been fired back and forth. The latest news out of the case involves the appeal of Judge Cote’s decision not to disqualify Bromwich. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals declined to reverse Cote’s decision, so Bromwich stays on. Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs found that some of Bromwich’s behavior (such as submitting an affidavit in conjunction with the plaintiffs’ legal brief) might be a little sketchy,...

Might subscriptions be the best option for tech news?
May 28, 2015 | 8:00 am

Not long after I posted my essay about how hard it is to make any money blogging, Bloomberg View has an article showing that even the major tech industry blogs face the same problem. Noting that Kara Swisher and Walter Mossberg’s Re/Code just sold itself to The Verge operator Vox Media after only 18 months, Bloomberg columnist Katie Benner suggests that the subscription or paywall model might be a better strategy for tech news sites in the long run. According to the article, Re/Code is only able to pull in 1.5 million unique views per month—not enough to satisfy...

GigaOm to return, possibly as content farm
May 28, 2015 | 3:31 am

Back in March, tech news site GigaOm shut down due to bankruptcy. However, it appears to be lurching zombie-like back from the grave. And just as with zombies, it sounds as though the resurrection may be a significant step down from the original incarnation. The only real public information available about the purchase comes in the form of a rather self-serving press release posted to the GigaOm site, stating that tech entrepreneur and author Byron Reese’s startup Knowingly Corp has bought the site’s assets and plans to relaunch it in August. Ex-GigaOm writer Matthew Ingram writes at Fortune...

Kobo, American Booksellers Association launch ‘eRead Local’ promotion to boost bookstore e-book sales
May 27, 2015 | 4:12 pm

Kobo is launching a new program in conjunction with the American Booksellers Association to promote the sale of e-books in independent bookstores, reports Publishers Weekly. “eRead Local” will run for 100 days, and provide $5 to participating ABA members for each new customer they deliver, as well as give those customers $5 off their first Kobo e-book order. (ABA members also get commissions on e-books their customers order.) ABA members who manage to deliver 50 or 100 members will enter drawings for free Kobo e-readers for in-store use or an in-store event with a yet-to-be-named bestselling author. Publishers Weekly...

Baen e-book store to drop ‘mail to Kindle’ function
May 27, 2015 | 2:55 pm

Baen has just sent an email to its customers noting a change to one method of Baen e-book downloads. At the moment, Baen has a form on its web site where you can fill in your Kindle’s Personal Document Service e-mail address and have the e-book emailed to your Kindle with the click of a button. However, that feature is soon going away. Baen writes: Starting on or about June 10, 2015, Baen Ebooks will no longer be able to provide automatic delivery of the .mobi format to a Kindle device via the "Email book...

Authors Guild President deplores free blogging—but where is the paid blogging?
May 27, 2015 | 1:00 pm

Last week, The Bookseller carried an interview with Authors Guild President Roxana Robinson warning that writers should not contribute free work to popular websites in order to gain “exposure.” Robinson holds that that by doing so they are devaluing the efforts of those who write for pay, and the promotional efforts may not even be effective. The rest of the piece was dedicated to demonizing Amazon and Google, but Nate Hoffelder at Ink, Bits, and Pixels has already done an excellent job picking apart those claims and the motives behind them, and I see no point in duplicating his...

Tor and BitLit offer discounted e-books to print book owners
May 4, 2015 | 11:53 am

bitlitTor has just announced it will be using BitLit to make DRM-free e-books of TorForge titles available at a discount to people who can prove they own the physical version of the book. It joins HarperCollins, which began using the program last year. BitLit is an iOS or Android smartphone app that allows readers who can prove they own a physical copy of a book to buy the e-book version at a discounted price. It works by taking “shelfies”—shelf-by-shelf photos of your bookshelves with the spines out—and then attempting to recognize which books you own. Once it’s matched one,...

Why own media when you can rent the library?
April 30, 2015 | 2:51 pm

eatIs ownership of media passé? Over the last few years, I’ve noticed an interesting trend develop. It started with music, as “all-you-can-eat” services like Pandora and Spotify popped up to offer users a chance to listen to as much music as they wanted either free with advertising, or for a small monthly fee. Amazon, Google, and Apple soon followed suit. Then came video, as the holy trinity of Netflix, Hulu, and (again) Amazon launched streaming video services for television and movies. Next, it moved into e-books, with Oyster, Scribd, and, yes, Amazon launching services. (Amazon doesn’t seem...

Why the Hugos are broken, and who’s breaking them now
April 23, 2015 | 5:52 pm

Hugo-Awards-logoThe Hugo Puppies affair proceeds apace. As it will for at least the rest of this year, and probably the next as well. Everyone is having their say, and some excellent things have been written about the whole matter lately. I’ll get to those in a moment. The Internet Breaks the Hugos Whether you’re for the Puppies or against them, there can’t be any argument that the Hugo nomination and voting process is badly broken. The interesting thing is that the process hasn’t changed appreciably for years or even decades. It didn’t just break on its own. No,...

Gen Con, other businesses displeased with new Indiana religious freedom law
March 26, 2015 | 2:36 pm

protestAs I’ve said before, Gen Con’s reputation as the largest gaming convention in North America eclipses its status as one of the largest writing conventions in North America, offering guidance on all aspects of writing and publishing. On Monday, March 23, Gen Con’s CEO sent a letter (PDF) to Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence, warning that a controversial religious freedom bill he was about to sign into law would affect Gen Con’s decision whether to stay in Indianapolis past the expiration of its contract in 2020. This morning, Governor Pence signed that bill. I covered the particulars in a post...

Boxes of writing ideas: The Storymatic and Rory’s Story Cubes
March 14, 2015 | 11:53 am

IMG_20150314_103250On the Internet, it can be a thin line between reading and writing, especially if you take part in one of the many shared writing universes that float around. But sometimes people who want to write need sources of inspiration. That’s where writing workshopping tools come in. I already reviewed a book discussing how to use tarot cards for workshopping writing ideas, and that’s a fine thing as far as it goes. But tarot cards’ greatest strength—their rich depth of symbolism—can also be a weakness for writers new to tarot, since they might well spend more time puzzling over...

HP Stream 7: A mediocre tablet but a great micro-laptop
March 7, 2015 | 6:29 pm

IMG_20150305_180333372_HDRI’ve had this HP Stream 7 tablet for a couple of days, and my first impression is that it’s fairly mediocre from a tablet standpoint, but it seems like a terrific micro-laptop. With one major caveat I’m still inclined to look upon it as a great bargain at $79—especially since it included a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 (a $69 value) and a $25 Windows Store gift card. It’s like they’re paying you to take the tablet off their hands. I have come across one showstopper bug that colors my whole experience: its Wi-Fi adapter seems notably finicky....

Microsoft offers $79 HP Stream 7 Windows 8.1 tablet
March 5, 2015 | 1:58 am

hpstream7If you’ve ever thought you might like to try a Windows tablet, but didn’t want to risk a significant cash outlay, Microsoft is currently offering a great deal on a name-brand tablet. Microsoft.com has the HP Stream 7 Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $79, including a one-year personal subscription to Office 365 (a $69 value) and a $25 Windows Store gift card. It’s like they’re paying you to take it off their hands! The tablet has a 1.33GHz Bay Trail quad-core Intel Atom chip, 1 gig of RAM, and 32 gigs onboard storage. Unlike the Windows RT Surface tablets,...

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