[Updates: An alert reader pointed out that Kobo does do ebook previews---I think I just missed it. However, there's still no search and the page-turning/page number situation is still simply awful. On balance, I still think you shouldn't bother with Kobo.
On a happier note (for iBooks fans), iBooks has adopted the Nook's hold-and-swipe highlighting feature, which was my favorite thing about the Nook app. Really, the only thing I liked. Definitely no reason to even try the Nook app now. Three years and counting until Barnes & Noble is bankrupt.
I'll try to keep this space updated with new features, but probably won't.]
Merry Christmas! Several thousand people at least will be unwrapping an iOS device today. Here’s a list of the major ereader apps, and their pros and cons. We’ll see you again on Tuesday, when we go back to regular programming.
iBooks: Perfect for iOS readers
Pros: Buying books through the app store. Great highlighting, syncing, dictionary, and a ton of layout options. Two-page layout on the iPad, and fewer glitches than any other app.
Cons: Doesn’t work on any non-iOS device. Not your Kindle, not your Nook, not any E-Ink ereader. If you want to use one of those devices, you’ll want to use a different app. There isn’t even a desktop version of iBooks, you can only use it on an iPhone or an iPad. There’s also no real iBooks website, and navigating through the Books section of iTunes is a proper pain, so you’ll need to come to the app with a title in mind.
The gist: iBooks is also the only app that will let you buy books through the app store and your iTunes account—that ability is turned off for all other ebook apps. But that ease-of-buying-books is not what makes iBooks the best ereader app; instead, it’s the fact that all the others have significant downsides. iBooks has all the core functions—note-taking, highlighting, search, dictionary, and layout options—and they all work. If your iPhone and/or iPad is your main ereader, look no further for your new favorite app.
A whole gaggle of new ereaders hit the market this month, just in time for the holiday season. We’ve updated our ereader comparison for this new slate: find it here, and find out why we don’t believe the hype about the Nook Tablet, and why the Kobo Touch is our top choice for casual readers.
In other news, we’re taking off for the rest of the week for Thanksgiving. We’ll be back on our regular schedule next week, when we’ll kick off our third annual Best Books series.
Lendle, as the name implies, was a site that helped Kindle users utilize the lending feature included in some Kindle ebooks. They don’t pirate books or sell lending credits or increase the amount you can lend, they’re only a sophisticated bulletin board to match up borrowers and lenders.
When I first read that they’d been shut down, I was furious—but really, it makes a lot of sense. Amazon has never thought much of lending ebooks—it’s never allowed library ebooks on the Kindle, and when Barnes & Noble first announced the Nook’s LendMe feature, Bezos denounced it for being “extremely limited.” When Amazon caved and copied that exact lending feature, their execution of it was both obnoxious to use and riddled with bugs.
So, obviously Bezos wants credit for reader-friendly features like ebook lending, but doesn’t want customers to actually use those features, no matter how “limited” he claims they are. File this one under: another reason not to buy a Kindle.
The good news: you can still find people to borrow and share ebooks with, at such sites as BooksForNooks.com, K BooksForMyEreader.com (formerly BooksForMyKindle, but they probably got cease-and-desisted), and eBookFling.com. At eBookFling, you can actually buy a lending credit (reportedly for $1.99), so you don’t have to own a single Kindle book to borrow them. Personally, I would’ve shut that site down and left Lendle up, but far be it from me to tell Bezos how to polish his head.
Recently, Apple’s been feeling its oats, and Steve Jobs has been picking fights with absolutely everybody, even bloggers who just want a portable porn pad. Here’s a breakdown of the two biggest Apple fights out there.
And by the way, Google’s launching its own ebookstore, which I’m guessing and hoping will use Adobe ePub formatting. Meaning neither Apple nor Amazon customers will be able to read Google ebooks. Because Apple hates Adobe, too! Why? Well, more on that after the jump… … Continue reading »
Here isan article from the NYT about literature and cognitive science. Basically, it’s about how empathy relates to reading fiction, and how readers process interrelated or overlapping points of view. Or “what the scholars call levels of intentionality.” Read it.
You can only buy Wolf Hall and other Macmillan books through third-party sellers at Amazon.com (click for full-size)
Sony’s Reader Store still stocks Macmillan books, and for the controversial $9.99 price point (click for full size)
[UPDATE: Amazon gave in, and will sell Macmillan books via the "agency model" Macmillan laid out. Which means Macmillan ebooks will cost $13-$15, even at Amazon. I'm putting the over/under on the date of Amazon's next major Kindle screw-up at March 15.]
So Amazon has barred all Macmillan books (print and digital) from its U.S. website after the publisher insolently disagreed with Amazon’s stringent pricing policies. Macmillan asked for either a different pricing structure or “windowing,” i.e. delayed ebook releases (Macmillan CEO John Sargent claims Amazon will make more money, and Macmillan will make less under the new structure, which confuses me). Amazon responded with the Macmillan ban.
You can still find Macmillan books at the Sony Reader Store, however, and you can find many selling for the $9.99 price point that started all this. I’m assuming either higher Macmillan prices or windowing is coming to Sony, but at least you can buy the books.
For the record, I think the entire hardcover pricing system is greedy and predatory; it’s essentially publishers milking their biggest fans’ excitement to make a few extra bucks. I think Macmillan’s making a big mistake in trying to preserve hardcover pricing, and refusing to fully embrace ebooks.
However, this Amazon move is thuggery of the first order, and it doesn’t feel like the stalemate will be resolved very quickly[UPDATE: Or maybe it will, what do I know] (or that it will be the last of its kind). The Macmillan ban combined with Amazon’s continued refusal to allow library ebooks on the Kindle makes one thing clear: Kindle is simply not the best ereader for book readers. If you read mostly books, get a Sony Reader or an Astak Pocket Pro. If you read mostly newspapers or magazines, get an iPad. [UPDATE: Amazon's cave-in brings the Kindle back to the realm of relevancy for book readers. But it still comes with too many questionable corporate decisions for my taste.]
Amazon’s really hyping Kindle books in the wake of an iPad that (maybe) doesn’t have proprietary formatting [UPDATE: iPad does indeed have proprietary formatting. Take a breath, Kindle]. Still… Henry Paulson? You know exactly what’s in this book (this), and you know it’s not going to be all that riveting. So who’s staying up until midnight on Sunday to get themselves the newest Hank? I doubt even Paulson himself will.
Maybe Amazon has a rogue algorithm that gives anything looking vaguely like “Harry Potter” its own midnight release party. T-minus 82 hours!
Hopefully this ad stays front and center on Amazon’s homepage for all 82 of them.
[UPDATE: It's confirmed that the iPad won't be compatible with Adobe ePub books. That means no library books, and it takes a lot of the shine off the new iBooks. For some reason, Apple hates Adobe, and Adobe hates them back.]
Today, Apple unveiled their new tablet computer, the “iPad,” (Gizmodo’s full coverage here) and made the QUE entirely irrelevant. The iPad is cheaper ($500 WiFi/$630 3G), faster, and more functional than the QUE, and it will actually be available earlier.
Not only does the iPad have a new, Apple-branded ereading program (iBooks), it can do video, internet, maps, and everything else that an iPhone can, on a grander scale. The only advantages the QUE has left are its ability to hand-write notes, and its E-Ink screen which makes for less eye strain and longer battery life. Still, the iPad has ten hours of battery life, so that last point is moot.
Basically, this spells doom for the $650 QUE, and if you were thinking about getting the Alex for $400 $360, or (God forbid) a $490 Kindle DX, how can you not scrape up a little extra for an iPad instead?
The iPad’s debut highlights the folly of “luxury” ereaders like the QUE and the Alex, which have gone in the wrong direction, trying to have an ereader that’s half laptop, with a price tag to match. Simple, affordable ereaders like the Kindle, Astak Pocket Pro, and Sony Pocket Edition are the only ones worth looking at now, at least until the Alex’s price drops by $150.
Basically, nobody wants to shut up about the new Apple tablet (supposedlydubbed the iPad–consider it nominated for this week’s dumbest new ereader name award). It’s slated to be revealed today, so I’m not going to bother parsing out the rumors. This one bit about pricing strategies and the coming battle between Apple and Amazon is interesting though. Not sure where B&N is in all this. I guess they probably shouldn’t have f-ed up the Nook launch so badly. Perhaps they are waiting for a boost from Apple? If you’re foolishish enough to get a first generation iPad (thus ignoring Apple’s track record of vastly superior second gen devices), here are some other fun uses for it.
It’s kinda old news, but apparently colleges are being sued for using ereaders in classrooms because blind students can’t use them. How using a braille edition to supplement a Kindle (which reads books–poorly–out loud) is less fair than if the other students use deadtree, I do not understand. It won’t help the blind, but if you’ve no backlight on your ereader and can’t figure out how to turn on your lamp, try this dongle. This Boogie Board doodle toy isn’t an ereader (and probably isn’t much use to anyone not a basketball coach) but it does seem pretty cool, and uses no power at that.
We’ll be posting on Friday about some of the many changes we have planned for our second year. There’s a lot of good stuff planned, and we’ll be getting bigger and better as time goes on. Check back Friday for that.
You can buy a Nook, a Kindle, and a Sony Reader Touch for the QUE's asking price
So CES officially opened today and, sure enough, prices were announced for the Spring Design Alex and the Plastic Logic QUE. Up until today, I would’ve classified the Alex and the QUE as the two most exciting new ereaders. Then I saw how they’ll cost: The Alex is going for $399, and the QUE is $649 with WiFi, $800 (!!?) with 3G.
Yesterday, I guessed that the Alex would go for $350, and the QUE for $500. I considered those conservative estimates; i.e., I was ready to be pleasantly surprised. Eesh, was I ever wrong.
The big takeaway from these price announcements is simply that ereader manufacturers don’t care about the casual reader. These devices are getting more expensive, not less, and that’s not a trend that’s going to steal the Kindle’s thunder anytime soon.
But there’s more to glean from six digits and a couple dollar signs.