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eReaders

$50 tablets are now a thing
June 8, 2014 | 5:42 am

DigiLand-DL-71These are the days of miracle and wonder… A few months ago, I wrote that the $100 laptop was now the $100 tablet. It turns out that now, it’s the $50 tablet. First they were on sale for that at Office Depot. Since, I’ve seen them around the same price in Fry’s. Now Nate reports on The Digital Reader that Best Buy has a $50 dual-core Android 4.4 tablet, and I just got a Wal-Mart sales circular email advertising Ematic 7” tablets for $55 and $60. It also features a number of other tablets in the $70 to $100...

iBooks to be included with every iOS 8 device; will the DoJ take notice?
June 5, 2014 | 7:05 am

Apart from all the little features it’s swiping from Android (finally, widgets, custom keyboards, and cross-app sharing APIs!), the new iPhone OS 8 includes one little feature that Mark Coker of Smashwords believes will be a “game changer.” For the first time, iBooks will be bundled directly into every new iOS device sold. This might not seem like a big deal at first—iBooks has, after all, been available for four years to anyone who wants to download it—but never underestimate the laziness barrier. People who weren’t that “into” e-books might never have bothered to grab it on their...

Put your e-books on a shelf with Digital Library Wallpaper
June 4, 2014 | 5:42 pm

vodafone-digital-library-wallpaperOne of the problems paper bibliophiles often cite in e-books is that you can’t show off your e-book collection on your shelves. It’s all hidden inside a computer. But Engaget reports that Vodaphone Romania has found a clever way around that as part of its own e-book lending program. which it calls Digital Library Wallpaper. Customers can go to Vodaphone’s web site, pick out the books they want, and then have a big wallpaper “shelf” printed that has book decorations and scannable QR codes on it so that they, or their friends who are visiting, can load the books onto...

Don’t be ‘That Guy’
June 2, 2014 | 6:06 pm

yell-monitor-l1Over the last few days, someone on one of the forums I frequent has started screaming bloody murder about a Kindle technical problem. I’m not going to say who or where (and I’d ask that any commenters who know who I’m talking about please do the same), because it’s not my intention to “name and shame.” I’ll just call him That Guy. Anyway, That Guy has posted his rant across three different forum boards, accusing Amazon of “fraud” because he can’t get his e-books to sync to the second Kindle on his account from the “Manage Your Content &...

How to upgrade the Nook HD to Kit Kat with Cyanogenmod
May 31, 2014 | 4:59 pm

Screenshot_2014-05-31-16-44-33Ever since I got my Nexus 7, my Nook HD has been kind of languishing. I’d upgraded it to the most recent Jelly Bean Cyanogenmod version a while back, but I was curious: what might Kit Kat be like on it? Could I run it? Given that I had the Nexus, I wasn’t in danger of losing my only Android tablet solution if I screwed it up, so I figured, why not break me off a piece? I found some not terribly user-friendly instructions, puzzled my way through them, and commenced. It worked for me, so I’m going to tell you...

Whither the Kindle Killer?
May 29, 2014 | 7:01 am

Broken-KindleFound via Slashdot: Larry Press plaintively wonders why nobody’s come up with a “Kindle Killer” yet. He notes a whole host of ways the Kindle falls short of perfection—lack of voice recognition or full interface capability with a computer, for example—and thinks such a device really should be a “low-hanging fruit” for one of the big device makers. I’ll tell you why, Larry. The demand isn’t there. Maybe folks like you who like to get the most out of their devices would want such a thing, but the vast majority of the lowest-common-denominator general public—the ones who actually buy...

LeVar Burton launches Reading Rainbow Kickstarter, fully funds in less than twelve hours
May 28, 2014 | 8:55 pm

LeVar_RR_bio.largeTake a look, it’s in a book. The Verge ran a story today that LeVar Burton has launched a $1 million Kickstarter with the goal of bringing Reading Rainbow to the web, to reach kids across the globe. It’s already available for Android and iPad, but not all kids or schools have access to those devices, or the $60 per year the subscription costs. In addition to putting it on the web, Burton wants to create a version for teachers to use in the classroom, and to set up a not-for-profit organization to make it available for free to low-income schools. The...

The Kobo (and Kindle) in pictures
May 28, 2014 | 1:25 pm

koboAwhile ago, GoodeReader posted a great little write-up showing the evolution of the Kindle---in pictures, and with capsule reviews and commentary. It showed how the Kindle went from big-ish and clunky, with a built-in keyboard, to small and sleek and button-free. Now, they are back, giving the Kobo Reader the same treatment. The Kobo's evolution has been less dramatic---the shape and style has stayed pretty consistent over the past few years. But the Kobo too has gone button-free, acquired a front light and shrunk in size and weight a little. These are fun little galleries to browse. Enjoy!...

Is Barnes & Noble stock underpriced?
May 27, 2014 | 10:58 am

Barron’s has an article by Andrew Bary (paywalled; bypass with Google News) suggesting that Barnes & Noble stock is currently badly underpriced. Trading around $18 right now, Bary argues, B&N could be worth $36 based on the value of the company’s assets alone, especially if B&N follows through on cutting its losses (especially with regard to the Nook) and improving efficiency. What benefits might accrue to B&N shareholders? Bary suggests B&N could split up into three separate companies—bookstores, college bookstores, and Nook—though given the improvements to Nook’s bottom line, this might be unlikely to happen any time soon. Or...

Today only: Amazon knocks $80 off 8.9” Kindle Fire HD refurb
May 19, 2014 | 6:28 am

Just got notification of Amazon’s latest Gold Box deal: its 8.9” 4G LTE Kindle Fire HD tablets, refurbished, at $80 off retail. That knocks the 32 GB version from $300 down to $220, and the 64 from $350 to $270. Full 1 year warranty included; the AT&T 4G LTE data plan costs extra. Not really sure this is necessarily a huge bargain. $80 isn’t all that big a discount for a refurbished product, Also, the Fire tablets are too closely tied to Amazon’s own content ecosystem to count as a true general-purpose Android tablet; one of the attendant problems...

Transhumanism and eReading technologies
May 8, 2014 | 12:25 pm

transhumanismOkay, I'll admit I'd never heard the term transhumanism until today, but, as a fan of cyberpunk, I got it as soon as it was explained to me by Matt Hayler, a teaching fellow at Exeter University. (Seriously, follow the link and check out his Twitter icon. Way cool!) Okay, so what is transhumanism for those of you, who like me, had never heard the term? According to Hayler's blog, he subscribes to this definition: “a general term designating a set of approaches that hold an optimistic view of technology as having the potential to assist humans in building more equitable and...

Comic book shop advocate pushes for windowing of digital comics
May 2, 2014 | 4:58 am

The Southgate, Michigan News-Herald has a story about a local comic book shop owner, Dennis Barger, who has formed a nationwide “Comic Book Retailers Alliance” to advocate for print comic book shops. His rhetoric should sound familiar to anyone who’s watched e-books “kill” print bookstores. Barger said, despite what some people in the industry think, social media and other marketing isn’t what sells books for the most part. “The employees at local comic shops pushing these books is the difference in being in the top 200...