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Cheap blind-friendly E Ink Kindles with read-aloud and audio nav capabilities: A how-to for Amazon
February 9, 2015 | 2:25 pm

Shaun Kane at RobotFestI hope that Amazon’s CEO never becomes a blind visionary. But if Jeff Bezos’s eyes should ever go downhill in a serious way---a risk for millions of aging baby boomers---he could still enjoy e-books on inexpensive E Ink Kindles. All he has to do is follow advice from Shaun K. Kane, the Colorado computer scientist in the photo, who has devoted years to accessibility issues. In the case of dedicated e-reading devices from Amazon, that doesn’t just mean the read-aloud which the earlier E Ink Kindles offered before the company yanked the feature away (despite Jeff’s original ballyhoo of text to speech, introduced...

The K-12 and economic cases for a national digital library endowment
January 24, 2015 | 11:00 am

President Obama wants expanded broadband, as indicated in his State of the Union address---a laudable goal. But what to use it for, beyond such purposes as, say, the faster downloading of YouTubes? Here's the latest version of LibraryCity’s call for a national digital library endowment and intertwined public and academic library systems online. Short of time? Read an executive summary. – D.R. The average 15-to-19-year-old in the U.S. spends only six minutes a day reading for fun, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What’s more, a just-released report from Scholastic, discussed later in this commentary, warns that the number of...

Want read-aloud in Kindles and other readers? Use FCC’s easy online form by Jan. 9
January 3, 2015 | 2:52 pm

Amazon CEO Jeff BezosUpdate: See the most recent version of the LibraryCity post with mention of an unofficial Jan. 9 deadline and a link to the FCC's easy comment form. You need to submit formally. Please e-mail the FCC ASAP. The agency deals with accessibility matters and will soon make an important accessibility decision affecting Kindles along with other e-readers. Don’t delay! For years, I’ve been publicly begging Amazon to stop muting its E Ink machines and restore text to speech in the future. I may even have been the first commentator to break the news about the Paperwhite’s lack of TTS. This isn’t mere rhetoric. I sold my...

Cell phone book clubs: A new way for libraries to promote literacy, technology, family and community
July 17, 2014 | 12:25 pm

textgirl2A friend of mine in his 40s is about to start teaching in Houston, Texas, and he recently shared a discovery. Many teenagers in Houston tote cell phones, but don’t know they can read library e-books for free on their phones. This would jibe with a 2012 poll showing similar ignorance among Americans at large. A bigger issue also comes up. Just how much do young people care about books in the first place? Americans 15-19 spend only about four minutes reading for fun on a typical weekend day. Too bad. Students who love books are more likely to excel in school....

E Ink sees reduced demand for ereader screens
April 5, 2014 | 10:18 am

E InkAccording to reports of an investor conference which appeared in the Taipei Times, e-paper specialist producer E Ink Holdings Inc. has announced lower sales and financial losses over the current and ensuing quarters, off the back of falling demand for its screens, found inside the Kindle and other e-readers. E Ink CFO Eddie Chen forecast revenue down some 5-10 percent from the $192.4 million recorded in the last quarter of 2013. Admittedly, this could be a freak seasonal result. The last quarter of 2013 brought profits nearly double the usual quarterly level, according to the Taipei Times report, although much of this did...

Hybrid LED/e-ink Yotaphone adds FBReader support
December 25, 2013 | 11:47 pm

yotaphone-update-leadWe briefly mentioned the Yotaphone once—a Russian smartphone with an LCD display on the front and an e-ink display on the back. Apparently it’s not going to be available outside of Russia for a while, and not many e-reading applications have been made to take advantage of that e-ink secondary screen. However, Engadget today reports that the phone has been made to support the popular open-source EPUB reader app FBReader. It will even support PDF files with the next version of FBReader. Meanwhile, Yota has been “discussing potential collaboration” with Amazon. It’s easy to imagine that Amazon, having built...

First all-digital public library system a hit in Bexar County, Texas—with hundreds of e-reader gizmos and an eager young crew to explain them
October 20, 2013 | 1:11 pm

bibliotechLast year LibraryCity.org knocked the library system in Rockford, Illinois, for planning to spend around a quarter of its $1.19-million collection budget on e-books. A third of Rockfordians were living below the poverty line in 2009 by one estimate. And yet the local library initially wanted to start out with just 50 Kindle e-readers---hardly the best solution for people too poor or technophobic to buy and use e-book devices. The local NAACP and other groups yelled foul, just as they should have. So what’s happening down in Bexar County, Texas? BiblioTech, the world’s first all-digital public library system, opened there September 14...

How to get the most out of library ebooks via the right gadget, text to speech, and otherwise
October 18, 2013 | 6:26 pm

FireVergeWant to hear text to speech from free library ebooks on your 50-mile commute? Even if you own an Android machine and the usual OverDrive app can’t do “read-aloud” unless audiobooks count? Also, what if you haven’t even bought an e-reading gizmo for library use, but want to? Which model to go with? In those cases and others, the guidance here is for you. Most tips will work even with low-cost, no-name tablets. But let’s pay special attention to the new Kindle Fire HDXes. They are among the top choices if you care more about reading than about tech and can stomach...

E Ink releases Carta: Reboost for e-paper?
September 7, 2013 | 11:11 am

E Ink, the technological progenitor of the Kindle revolution, has released a new generation of e-paper called Carta, "the next generation of electronic ink display technology that sets a new standard as the whitest and highest contrast ratio display in the industry," as the E Ink communication states. "Carta displays will deliver the best quality contrast ratio E Ink has ever delivered to the market. Carta has been specifically tuned for reading applications, and offers the same benefits as earlier ink generations, including extremely low power consumption." According to further information from E Ink: "E Ink Carta delivers a dramatic 50% increase...

E Ink Financials Spell Trouble for Dedicated E-Readers?
August 17, 2013 | 10:48 am

E InkThe latest quarterly financial results for E Ink Holdings Inc., the leader in epaper displays, point to an alarming decline in demand for e-readers, as the company registered its worst quarterly sales performance in four years, according to the Taipei Times, with a net loss of US$33.63 million. E Ink supplies Amazon, Kobo, Nook, Sony, and legions of other e-reader and device manufacturers with their paper displays. As a caution that no one should read too much into one quarter's figures, E Ink shares actually rose after the announcement, as investors digested the company's optimistic third quarter forecasts, when new expansion drives by Amazon...

Sony and E Ink are Making a Digital Paper Notepad and it Looks Awesome (Video)
May 17, 2013 | 12:15 pm

I’m an all-day note-taker—my day's or week’s itinerary, messages to give to someone else, story ideas, ramblings, etc. Unfortunately I’m also a bit of a messy ... well, unorganized person, I admit. And as you may guess, those two personality traits usually add up, for me, to lots of unorganized, folded pieces of paper in my pockets or around my house and office, and also a library of notebooks of compiled thoughts and ideas with real order. So needless to say, I’m anticipating Sony’s A4-sized (8.3-inches x 11.7-inches) digital paper slate to be rather beneficial in my life. Unveiled last week,...

E Ink Releases Mobius, a Large-Format Flexible Display
May 15, 2013 | 11:49 am

A few days ago, Sony announced they they were launching a large format reader aimed at the educational market. E Ink is making the screen, which has been touted as flexible and durable. Here's the relevant section of the press release: E Ink Mobius will be the first flexible display technology that will go into mass production for a large format digital paper product based on flexible Thin Film Transistor (TFT) technology developed by Sony. Mobius uses a TFT technology that will enable the development of much lighter and rugged products. Mobius displays can weigh less than 50% of the weight of...