Tag Archives: Kindle

Harry Potter E-books Available via Kindle Lending Library

Remember that time when J.K. Rowling made it clear that e-book versions of the Harry Potter series would only be available via her web site, Pottermore? Well that has now changed.

According to the L.A. Times, Amazon has purchased a license from Pottermore, and will now offer Harry Potter e-books through its Kindle lending library. To access the lending library, Kindle users must be members of Amazon Prime, which costs $79 a year.

The Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne explains why the deal was made.

Yes, some people will borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library and therefore not buy, but Amazon is paying us a large amount of money for that right, and I believe it’s a commercial deal that makes sense.

It most certainly does make sense, but I’m still surprised Rowling gave up a piece of her monopoly over the series. The e-books will become available via the library on June 19th.

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Microsoft Invests $300M in New Nook Subsidiary

Could the Barnes and Noble Nook  soon be getting a massive upgrade? That’s still up for debate, but it sure has gotten a huge financial boost, thanks to Microsoft.

According to the L.A. Times, Microsoft, which has stayed out of the e-reader business until now, is now giving Barnes and Noble $300 million for its new Nook-led subsidiary. As previously reported, the new branch of Barnes and Noble is something the company’s been considering for the past few months.

The subsidiary, which would act as an entirely separate Nook-led branch under B&N’s umbrella, has the temporary name Newco. Microsoft will get a 17.6 shares in the spinoff. As Carolyn Kellogg points out, however, it’s odd that Barnes and Noble chose Microsoft — of all companies — to help them out.

Microsoft’s investment was, at least by most in publishing, unexpected. Last we heard, Microsoft was suing Barnes & Noble over alleged patent infringements related to the Nook, which could have blocked importation to the U.S. after its offshore manufacture. As part of the new Nook deal, Microsoft and Barnes & Noble announced settlement of the patent suit.

Now that the two companies have kissed and made up, some are wondering what advancements could be made to the second-place e-reader — behind Amazon’s Kindle — with all that extra money.

So I ask you, fellow Nook users, what kind of improvements would you like to see? How do you think Microsoft could change the future of Barnes and Noble, if at all?

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E-Readers Are Getting More Social

Here are a few reasons why e-readers are great: they’re portable, can hold hundreds of books in one device, and have wifi and Internet capabilities. Here are a few reasons why some are still hesitant to purchase an e-reader: setting bookmarks can be difficult, as can adding notes and highlights — though they are all still possible, and of course there’s just nothing like reading a real book.

But the e-reader experience may just be getting started. According to the Los Angeles Times, reading is becoming more and more like a social network. It’s called “social reading.” For instance, on the Amazon Kindle, people can post favorite passages to Facebook and Twitter. On Canada’s popular Kobo e-reader, you can see what people are reading, if they’re reading what you are, and join in on their comment string about the book. It not only bookmarks your pages; it keep statistics about your reading habits.

On an app called Subtext, readers can even connect with the author, as Carolyn Kellogg explains.

Built for the iPad and launched less than two months ago, Subtext offers all of the social reading elements with the added bonus of content from authors themselves. “I was very excited about this,” says Amy Stewart, author of “Wicked Plants” and “Wicked Bugs,” an L.A. Times bestseller….Marginal icons show where she added links, video, color images and commentary, including a “Spoiler Alert” warning just to see how the function worked (the determined reader has to tap a second time to see the spoiler). Just like on Facebook, Stewart can respond to reader comments, which also are indicated by icons in the margin.

For some, I imagine social reading could be a bit much. But since we’re social about everything else nowadays, why wouldn’t we be social about more clever habits, like reading? And as the article points out, it’s also the perfect way to enhance reading in a classroom. For those who are not interested in social reading, stick to a good old-fashioned book. But I wouldn’t entirely discount it.

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New Barnes & Noble Nook Will Be Backlit

Again, Barnes & Noble has found a way to advance and greatly improve its e-reader before Amazon. The company revealed its newest Nook last week — one with a backlight.

According to The New York Times, the announcement makes the Nook the first e-reader to offer a backlight. It’s a huge advantage for Barnes & Noble over Amazon, particularly because most people do their reading in bed and because people have to turn the light on themselves, as Julie Bosman explains.

But William J. Lynch Jr., the chief executive of Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest bookstore chain, said the new device could be seen as two e-readers in one. The glowing back screen can be activated with the press of a button, but when it is not in use, the e-reader functions as a standard E Ink device, which is easier to read in sunlight than a tablet like the iPad with an LCD display.

That’s not to say other companies haven’t had the same idea. Amazon is hoping to release their version of a backlit Kindle later this year. Plus, the Kindle is still much more widely known than the Nook. But anyone who does their research on e-readers will quickly learn about the Nook’s new capabilities, and I think it can only stand to improve their sales.

The new Nook is called Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight and costs $139. Preorders are available right now. Shipping will begin in May.

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Just in Time for Titanic 3D, an E-Book Short About Costa Concordia

On the heels of Titanic 3D‘s opening weekend, a new e-book about the modern-day Titanic is now available. Fatal Voyage, the Wrecking of the Costa Concordia, a Kindle Single — or e-book short — about the accident that happened with the ill-fated Italian cruise ship earlier this year, was recently published.

According to this article by The Huffington Post’s Gadling, journalist John Hooper quickly wrote the e-book. Hooper is the Rome-based reporter for the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper. The e-book short includes first-person accounts from passengers and details about the Italians’ embarrassment over the ship’s Captain. That, allegedly, is a part of the story that was left out by American reports of the incident. It also includes a detailed account of the mistakes the Captain made once the ship went into crisis mode.

Though Gadling blogger Chris Gray Faust explains that the e-book has its fair share of errors…

The rush to publish does highlight the e-book’s faults. Hooper’s e-book, which reads more like a long-form magazine article, came out on Feb. 15, just a little over a month from the Jan. 13 sinking. As a reader, I wanted even more details from the survivors than Hooper collected. Every passenger who lived through that night has a chilling tale to tell, and while the examples that Hooper picked were jaw-dropping, I had more questions than answers when I finished the book.

…It still seems like a worthy read, particularly if you’ve ever cruised, plan on cruising, or are just plain shocked that something as severe as this accident could still happen in the modern-day world.

Get the e-book short now for just $1.99 on your Kindle.

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Amazon’s Next Big Thing: A Store?

Amazon is likely the largest and most successful retailer that doesn’t exist in a physical sense…until now…maybe.

According to this article by the Huffington Post, Amazon is planning to open its first store. The store would be located in its city of origin — Seattle, Washington — and could open in the next few months.

There have been rumors about Amazon opening a store for years, but now the popular book-selling and Kindle-creating web site could really use the help. As the article mentions, Amazon is facing fierce competition from Barnes and Noble, with its Nook and its decision not to sell Amazon-published book in any of its stores. Not to mention, not having an Amazon “brick and mortar” store makes it difficult to repair Kindles — unlike, say, the Apple Store, with its ability to easily repair iPads.

No specific design plan has been announced yet. But with the popularity of the site, I could see the store opening and quickly becoming a nationwide phenomenon that will likely spread at a rapid rate.

What do you think?

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Book Sales Soar During Holiday Season

This holiday season, there were two factors that had bookstore owners concerned: the popularity of e-books and a poor economy. Most expected abysmal sales of print books.

But according to this article by the New York Times, they were wrong. Book sales are up this year from last year. In most cases, stores have seen a 10-30% rise in sales, and that includes independent bookstores and Barnes and Noble.

The closing of Borders likely had something to do with it. Or as I like to think, maybe people are better appreciating physical books now that e-books are taking over. But while November and December sales are up, bookstore owners are concerned about what the dull post-holiday season will bring, as this one explains in the article.

Sales are up 15 percent from last year at Next Chapter Bookshop in Mequon, Wis., the store’s owner, Lanora Hurley, said, speculating that she may have been helped by the closing of a Borders store about seven miles away.

“We’re just going gangbusters and having a great time,” Ms. Hurley said, adding cautiously that she was concerned that it would not last. “I have to say, I’m worried about January. Everybody’s going to open their electronic device for Christmas.”

Hurley has a point. As much as people purchase books this year, they’re also purchasing e-readers. But I think this is all working toward a better future for the book industry. It certainly proves that the industry is alive and well. And apparently entering a new age.

It seems that this year’s holiday bestsellers aren’t fiction books. Nonfiction is leading the way with the Steve Jobs biography, memoirs by the likes of Diane Keaton and Gabrielle Giffords, and political books.

Of course, this is a somewhat natural holiday shopping spike. But could it also mean the Renaissance of the book?

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So You’ve Heard of E-books, But What About E-book Shorts?

If you haven’t heard of e-books by now, you most likely reside under a rock. But just because you’ve heard of or have read e-books doesn’t mean you know what e-book shorts are.

E-book shorts are e-books that are longer than articles but shorter than books. Often times, they’re short stories excerpts from a novel. They’re also cheaper than a full-length book. Up until last week, they had been available  through Amazon. Amazon calls them Kindle Singles.

But now, Princeton University Press is jumping on the e-book short bandwagon, publishing 5 e-book shorts. According to this article by the L.A. Times, the shorts are all excerpts and became available last week. They include an excerpt from Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Princeton University Press’s shorts are available through a variety of vendors, but are separate from Amazon’s Kindle Singles program.

The question here is whether or not these shorts hurt or help the book industry. On one hand, people will buy them and consider not buying the entire (and more expensive) book. But on the other hand, reading an excerpt may help a reader realize they want to read the whole book. I think it’s an interesting idea nonetheless and hope it means more business for the book industry. What do you think?

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Amazon’s Book Monopoly Is Growing

Amazon already sells books. It may soon start a Netflix-like rental service. And now it’s entering another field in the book industry: publishing.

According to this article by The New York Times, Amazon will publish 122 books and e-books this fall. This is good news for authors and the book industry in general. Now authors who may have had a difficult time getting published will have a fresh set of eyes to look at their material, which could result in a second chance at publishing. And in terms of the book industry, that means more books will be physically and digitally available to people all over the world.

But it’s bad news for the intermediate players in the game: the publishers and agents, as David Streitfeld explains in his article.

“Everyone’s afraid of Amazon,” said Richard Curtis, a longtime agent who is also an e-book publisher. “If you’re a bookstore, Amazon has been in competition with you for some time. If you’re a publisher, one day you wake up and Amazon is competing with you too. And if you’re an agent, Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out.

Either way, Amazon is creating a book industry monopoly. It may be cruel, but it’s also smart. And as one of Amazon’s top executives, Russell Grandinetti,  says in the article, “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader. Everyone who stands between those two has both risk and opportunity.”

 

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Amazon May Get Netflix-like Service for Books

Kindle e-books might now be available at libraries across the country, but the changes don’t stop there. A report by the Wall Street Journal says Amazon might be working on a new Netflix-like service for books.

The service would be part of the Amazon Prime package — a special program that gives members free two-day shipping and reduced price one-day shipping on all Amazon orders for a year, for a $79 annual fee.

The additional book service would allow Prime customers to read a limited number of books for free every month from a library of “older titles.”

According to this article by PC World, it seems Amazon hopes the service — which is still in its early stages — will help gain Prime members.

Perhaps spurred by the reaction to its Prime Instant unlimited video streaming, Amazon hopes to convince more people to join Prime with enticing add-ons. The company’s Prime library might also tie-in to the retailer’s strategy for its highly rumored, Android-based tablet to compete with the iPad.

Similar to Apple, Amazon’s slate could offer an integrated shopping experience with one-click access to online movie and TV viewing, e-book sales, MP3s, and apps. But Amazon would also want to encourage people to use their Amazon tablets to shop for physical items such as TVs, consoles and games, physical books, DVDs, computers, and toys.

Many of the details of this project are still unknown, however. For instance, how old are these “older titles”? And how many books will be available on a monthly basis? Not to mention, is this service even worth it now that libraries are offering Kindle e-books anyway? It sounds good on paper, but the kinks definitely still need to be ironed out. What do you guys think?

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