Tag Archives: Amazon

Ebook news digest: publisher follows TV business model, reading apps, startups for nomads

2016-09-22

Ebook news digest September 22, 2016

North Portugal, office of a digital nomad on kitchen table
Best ebook reader apps (Which)

Downloading and reading ebooks on a tablet or on a smartphone is easy once you have discovered the right reading app for your needs. Do you only search for books on the Kindle Store, Apple iBooks, Google Play, or Kobo store? If the answer is yes to any of the previous alternatives, it is best to stick to the store’s own reading application. If you shop around for ebooks, you should also try independent reading apps, such as Bluefire or FBreader.

This Ebook Publisher Doesn’t Have Authors. It Has Writers’ Rooms (Wired)

We have been expecting new business models and innovation to book publishing ever since ebooks started to become popular. Wired magazine introduces an ebook publishing startup ReMade that has drawn inspiration from TV industry. A lead writer writes a pilot book (episode) that defines the style and characters for the series. A group of writers collaborate to write the rest of the books for the whole season after that.

How the startup world is bringing digital nomadism closer to reality (TechCrunch)

Life and work of a digital nomad is not all about song and dance and beautiful tropical beaches, but hard work without a place most people would call home. A digital nomad must trust his or her skills and capability to survive to make the nomad life worthwhile. Fortunately, there are startup businesses that can take some of the load off the shoulders of busy nomads. TechCrunch introduces a few startups that provide services for digital nomads.

Tracy Chevalier: ‘Writing is a magic trick that still surprises me when I perform it’ (The Guardian)

“Research is easy. It’s sitting down to write that’s hard.” This encapsulates the essence of writing: it is pretty hard work. Seasoned author Tracy Chevalier shares her tips for writers. She writes historical novels which means her research is mostly done in libraries, and only occasionally in the field. Travel writers may disagree with her view, though. In the business of travel writing, research tends to be hard, and writing can offer a welcomed period of relaxation and calming down after an exhaustive journey.

Amazon has cornered the future of book publishing (Quartz)

Amazon is the pioneer of online shopping, ebook business, online computing services for enterprises, and many other things. It also happens to be the market leader in the mentioned businesses. Quartz boldly argues that Amazon would already have taken the lead in the whole book publishing business in the US. The reason would be the rapid rise of self-publishing along with ebooks that Amazon has carried over to printed books with its CreateSpace service.

Want to publish a nonfiction ebook that gets distributed via all major sales channels? Read this.

Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet is so attractively priced that who needs a Kindle Oasis?

2016-09-14

It is kind of funny that Amazon has introduced an reader (Kindle Oasis) that has a greyscale six-inch display and costs more than $250, and at the same the company markets Fire tablets with color screens that let you do more and cost less than Kindle ereaders. The Fire HD 8 tablet comes with pretty high resolution 8-inch color display, costs $90, lets you install apps, and consult Alexa. Which one to choose: an ereader or tablet?
amazon fire hd 8, girl reading
The size increase from six inches (typical ereader size) or seven inches (typical small tablet size) to a tablet or ereader with eight-inch screen gives you more than you might expect. That is one of the reasons the Kobo Aura One has been favorably reviewed: people simply like its larger 7.8-inch display.

If you read a lot of ebooks (more than a book a week), an ereader is a better choice. An ereader is also better choice if you are easily distracted away from a book you are supposed to read.

Tablet is a good choice for ebook lovers who read and view books with images, tables and charts. This is where color display and larger screen really help to present and absorb information.
amazon fire hd 8, 3 tablet colors
The highlights of the Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet are that it has a 8-inch color display in 1280×800 resolution (pretty good), it has a microSD memory card slot for extra storage space (you will need it), and it is priced at $90. It will also be integrated with Alexa system, so that you can speak your commands and Alexa will speak to you as well.

Here is Amazon’s introduction video to the Fire HD 8 tablet with Alexa:

Amazon Fire HD 8 key features and specifications

– 8-inch touch screen; 1280 x 800 resolution at 189 ppi.
– HD video playback, with IPS (in-plane switching) technology and advanced polarizing filter.
– Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.0 x 0.4 inches (214 mm x 128 mm x 9.2 mm)
– Weight 12.0 ounces (341 grams).
– Quad-Core: 1.3 GHz CPU.
– 1.5 GB of RAM
– 16 GB (11.1 GB available to user) or 32 GB (25.3 GB available to user) of internal storage.
– microSD card for more storage (card not included).
– Battery Life: up to 12 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching video, and listening to music.
– Wi-Fi for connecting to public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use the dual-band 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard with support for WEP, WPA, and WPA2 security using password authentication; does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
– File formats: Kindle (AZW), KF8, TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible Enhanced format (AAX), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, Dolby Digital (AC-3), Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3), non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, PCM/WAVE, OGG, WAV, M4V, MP4, AAC LC/LTP, HE-AACv1, HE-AACv2, MKV, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, HTML5, CSS3, 3GP, VP8 (WEBM)
– 2.0 megapixel camera at the back, 640×320 pixel camera on front panel.
– Location-based services via Wi-Fi
– Colors: Black, Magenta, Blue, Tangerine
– External volume controls.
– USB 2.0 port with micro-B connector.
– Bluetooth (A2DP compatible for stereo headphones)
– 3.5mm stereo jack for audio.
– Speaker.
– Microphone.
– Screen Reader, Explore by Touch, and Screen Magnifier, enabling access to the vast majority of Fire tablet features.
– Adjustable font sizes/color, and built-in Oxford dictionary.
– USB 2.0 cable, 5W power adapter, and Quick Start Guide included in the product box.

Readers adopted fiction ebooks quicker than non-fiction: Non-fiction ebook market has room to grow

2016-07-18

Book market statistics provided by publishing organizations are often quoted as the only authoritative numbers that reflect what is going on in the book trade. Many industry analysts have disagreed with these “official” numbers for years saying that they only represent a portion of the market: sales of big publishers. Especially, the emergence of digital books has brought a huge number of small publishers and self-publishers whose book sales is not tallied up in the statistics published by, for instance, AAP, Nielsen, or publishers’ associations in Europe.

An analyst who calls himself Data Guy (at Author Earnings) has discovered a way to collect data from ebook sales independent of which organization (or person) has published the title. He has created a system for extracting data from Amazon Kindle Store web pages. Therefore, all the statistics he can provide is from the US. Nonetheless, it is useful reference for ebook authors and publishers across the world because the US is the pioneer and the leading country in ebook business.

In July 2016, Data Guy gave a speech where he presented statistics specifically concerning romance literature ebook market in the US. The included data, however, has many valuable lessons for all authors and ebook publishers. Here are a few highlights from his speech.

author earnings: Slide07 july 2016

Source: Author Earnings.

In the US, non-fiction books has slightly over 50% of the print book market, and fiction slightly under 50%. In many European and Asian countries, non-fiction books have way larger market share from the print market. For instance, in Finland non-fiction print books had 35%, text books 35%, fiction 26%, and ebooks less than 4% market share in 2015.

Now, Author Earnings reports that non-fiction ebooks have only 12% market share in the US ebook market. Fiction dominates the ebook market with 88% share, and roughly half of purchased fiction is romance. Although we haven’t seen the ebook market in Europe segmented by genre, we believe the overall situation is roughly the same: non-fiction ebooks haven’t been adopted as quickly as fiction.

Yet, the potential to introduce something new to new generations of readers is in non-fiction and text books: digital media lets authors and publishers embed more attractive images, animation, photo galleries, interactivity and even moving pictures in books. You can view samples of this in Klaava Travel Guide titles.

author earnings, Slide12, july 2016

Source: Author Earnings

In the US, Amazon really dominates the ebook retail sales with 75% of title purchases going through the Kindle Store. Amazon UK has similar, some claim even stronger position, of the national ebook market, but elsewehere in Europe, other stores compete successfully with Amazon. For instance, in Germany Tolino is a major player in the ebook market. In Scandinavia, Adlibris and Storytel are big digital retailers (there is no Amazon store in Scandinavia yet, but Nordic citizens buy from Amazon.com if they want Kindle products).

It is still early days for digital books. The market developed quickly in English-speaking countries, primarily because of romance and crime titles. Fiction ebooks are replicas of print books. The big technical development is still to happen, and non-fiction and text books will drive the development. For instance, Amazon Page Flip is one of the early signs of things to come. It is a marvellous new feature for browsing non-fiction books.

Amazon Kindle Oasis reassures ebook lovers that ereaders are here to stay

2016-04-16

Many people don’t remember (or don’t want to remember) how much the original Kindle ereader cost when it was introduced in 2007. It was priced at $400 (and strangely, it had a keypad). Nonetheless, it was popular because Amazon had created a perfect system for shopping and downloading ebooks to the Kindle. Since then, ereader prices have fallen, and a fine Kindle ereader costs less than $100 today. Amazon’s 2016 ereader model Kindle Oasis is priced at $290, and we have to ask why? What is the point?
amazon kindle oasis ereader with cover
Everyone who reads ebooks knows that tablets and ereaders are the best devices for reading. Many people prefer tablets, because they have color screens and let you do many other things, like email and web browsing as well. Others prefer grey-scale ereaders exactly for the opposite reasons: you can’t do anything else but read and you focus on the text because lack of colors don’t make images shine on the screen.

We have always argued that heavy readers – people who really read a lot, several books a month – are the most likely users of dedicated ereader devices. Occasional readers, and people who read a book or two in a month favor tablets (and perhaps increasingly, large screen smartphones).

Even if you are an avid reader, why would you read your ebooks on the Kindle Oasis instead of, say, Kindle Paperwhite that costs significantly less and has more or less the same features and provides the same reading experience than the Oasis? What is the key difference between the Oasis and the previous Kindle models? Is there a compelling reason to buy the Oasis instead of the Paperwhite?
amazon kindle oasis, side view
The Oasis is somewhat thinner and it has longer battery life than the previous Kindle devices. The Oasis also comes with a stylish cover that charges the ereader battery. That’s about it.

Because new hardware, software or service features don’t explain the price difference between the Oasis and the older models, it comes down to the strategy. Amazon has created a product range called Kindle. It has multiple products. Each product must be positioned as low end, high end or something in between. A product range should always have a flagship product even if it doesn’t sell well. Customers can choose the flagship product or a lower priced product, but they always get the brand name they wanted.

The Ebook Reader blog has created a nice comparison video of the Kindle Oasis and Paperwhite version 3 ereaders. Take a look:

Key features and technical specifications of the Kindle Oasis ereader

– 6-inch Paperwhite display (E Ink Carta). Touch screen, backlight, 300 ppi pixel density, 16-level grayscale.
– Wi-Fi connectivity: 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard with WEP, WPA and WPA2 security.
– Optional 3G mobile network connectivity.
– Storage space for ebooks 4 GB, and free cloud storage for all Amazon content.
– Dedicated buttons for turning pages.
– Charges in less than 3 hours from a computer via USB cable.
– Content formats: Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG.
– Size: 5.6 x 4.8 x 0.13-0.33 inches / 143 x 122 x 3.4-8.5 mm.
– Cover size: 5.7 x 4.9 x 0.07-0.18 inches / 144 x 125 x 1.9-4.6 mm.
– Weight: 4.7 oz (133 g); Cover: 3.8 oz (107 g).

Which Amazon Kindle ereader is the best, Paperwhite or Voyage?

2015-07-12

It used to be easy to choose an ereader. If you bought your ebooks from Amazon, you ordered the latest Kindle model that was available. If you downloaded EPUB books, you considered Sony, Kobo, Tolino, or a cheap Chinese product. Now, Amazon has so many Kindle ereaders on sale that it maybe difficult to pick up the right one that suits your needs. Fortunately, we can help you choose.

amazon kindle voyage

Amazon Kindle Voyage


The first criteria is budget. If your budget is less than $100, you get an entry level Kindle ereader that is probably the best product in its price range, but it lacks an important feature: front light.

Ereaders are built on special display technology called E ink. The technology doesn’t use light (like LCD and LED displays) to display information on the screen. That’s why an ereader without a built-in front light requires daylight or other external light source for you to be able to read the display.

Ereaders with front light are priced above $100. Amazon offers two Kindle models, Paperwhite and Voyage, with front light and all the necessary features that a book lover needs. Which one is better, Voyage or Paperwhite?

Here is a video comparison of Kindle Paperwhite 2, Paperwhite 3 and Voyage by Kindle Chronicles:

A comparison of Paperwhite 3 and Voyage by the ebook reader blog:

Kindle Voyage specifications

Display: 6″ display, Carta e-paper technology. Front light, 300 ppi, 16-level gray scale.
Storage: 4 GB on device.
Battery Life: A single charge lasts up to six weeks. Wi-Fi and front light affect battery life the most.
Charge Time: Fully charges in approximately 3 hours from a computer via USB cable
Wi-Fi: 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard. WEP, WPA and WPA2 security.
Documents formats: KF8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX.
Size: 6.4″ x 4.5″ x 0.30″ (162 mm x 115 mm x 7.6 mm).
Weight: Wi-Fi: 6.3 ounces (180 grams); Wi-Fi + 3G: 6.6 oz (188 g).

amazon kindle paperwhite 3

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 3

Kindle Paperwhite 3 specifications

Display: 6 inches, Carta e-paper technology. Front light, 300 ppi, optimized font technology, 16-level gray scale.
On-Device Storage: 4 GB.
Battery Life: A single charge lasts up to six weeks. Wi-Fi and front light affect battery life the most.
Charge Time: Fully charges in approximately 4 hours from a computer via USB cable.
Wi-Fi: 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n standard. WEP, WPA and WPA2 security.
Ebook and document formats: KF8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX.
Size: 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″ (169 mm x 117 mm x 9.1 mm).
Weight: Wi-Fi: 7.2 ounces (205 grams) Wi-Fi + 3G: 7.6 ounces (217 grams).

Find out where ebooks are tucked inside the Amazon Kindle ereader

2015-07-06

Avid readers who love to turn ebook pages on their ereaders, rarely give much thought about the inner workings of the electronic device that is storing their books. Nonetheless, a Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or any other reading device really is a computer. It is not a powerful or advanced computer, but nonetheless, it is a computer – specifically designed for ebooks. Let’s take a look what’s inside the Kindle Voyage ereader.

amazon kindle voyage disassembled

The technician on the video first removes tiny cables attached to the motherboard. The integrated motherboard in this device is both the brains and the memory of the device. A processor on the motherboard executes all the commands and communicates with the display, wireless networks and storage unit. Yellow component is the battery.

This is how a disassembled Kindle Voyage looks like:

Video by PowerbookMedic.

Kindle Textbook Creator Ebook App Gets Video and Audio Enhancements

2015-04-21

Amazon Kindle Textbook Creator is a simple, but working PC application for converting PDF books into ebooks that can be read on Fire tablets and Kindle PC applications. The Textbook Creator was launched in January 2015, and now, three months later, Amazon has released an update to the application. The update is important: it lets you embed video clips, audio and pop up images into ebooks.

kindletextbook-video1

We tested the first version of the Textbook Creator, found it useful, and converted two books (Discussions on Electricity and Creo Parametric User Guide) that are on sale on Amazon Kindle Store.

Now, we tried out the new features in the new Kindle Textbook Creator 1.5. Specifically, we wanted to find out how to insert video clips and photographs into books. The results turned out to be a very different from, for instance, Apple iBooks Author.

First, you have to import a PDF book, or open an existing project. Then, you can simply insert any of the following multimedia elements into the book:
• Video: .mp4
• Audio: .mp3
• Images: .jpeg or .png

The Textbook Creator didn’t accept all MP4 files we tried to insert into the book, but we managed to get some video clips embedded. Here is the curious thing: the Textbook Creator shows only a small icon in the position where we inserted a video clip. Once the reader clicks/taps the icon, a video window opens for viewing the film.

kindle textbook creator, video

Klaava Media has published many ebooks that include multimedia elements, such as a travel guide to Sweden and France, but we will wait how the Textbook Creator develops before processing them through the application.

Amazon’s New Ebook Format Print Replica Looks Fine on a Tablet

2015-02-02

In late January 2015, Amazon announced a new application Kindle Textbook Creator that makes it possible to publish PDF-formatted books to the Kindle Store. After a quick test run of the app, I decided to try out what the final outcome would look like. I published one of Klaava Media’s PDF books to the Kindle Store, and downloaded the product from the store to my tablet just like any customer would do. The conclusion is that Amazon’s new ebook format, Print Replica, looks fine on a 10 –inch tablet.

amazon print replica book on ipad

The new Pages view (screen capture above) lets you quickly browse a book and find the page you are looking for.

Normal reading mode.
amazonprintreplica-ipad2

Pages at the bottom of the screen can be scrolled horizontally.
amazonprintreplica-ipad1

I viewed the Print Replica book on 9.7-inch Apple iPad. The screen size was fine for comfortably reading the book, but I would recommend trying out a sample first if you have a 7-inch tablet. Amazon supports Print Replica in Fire HD and Fire HDX –tablets and in all PC and tablet Kindle reading apps. The thing with Print Replica and PDF books is that if your screen is small, and you have to zoom in to read the text, a portion of the content may shift out of the frame. So, try a sample first.

The Print Replica book used as a sample copy in this article is titled Discussions on Electricity.

Amazon Kindle Unlimited Is the Number One Ebook Subscription Service, but Which One Is Number Two?

2015-01-29

We all know that Amazon is the largest retailer of ebooks in the world, but which online book subscription service has managed to attract the most customers? Amazon was the pioneer of ebook retail business, but it wasn’t the first company that provided customers with all-you-can-eat book service for a low monthly fee. Nonetheless, Amazon has already managed to take a major market share of the emerging book subscription service business.
nielsen: ebook subscription services market shares
Nielsen Books & Consumers Market Research has published a report that includes a ranking for ebook subscription services. The services with the biggest number of customers are:

1. Kindle Unlimited
2. Safari Books Online
3. Scribd
4. Oyster
5. Skillsoft
6. 24 Symbols
7. Entitle
8. Blloon

Nielsen has ranked Amazon Prime as an ebook subscription service, but Prime is not comparable with other ranked services. Prime is primarily a product delivery service that also includes access to a number of digital products.

Amazon Kindle Store Accepts PDF-Ebooks, but There’s a Catch

2015-01-23

Amazon’s Kindle ebook format is fine for books with simple layout that include text and a few diagrams or photos. If an author or publisher has required interactive features or multimedia, in many cases Apple iBooks Author has been the tool of choice. Now, Amazon has launched the Kindle Textbook Creator that the company intends to build as a competitor to the iBooks Author. At launch, however, the Kindle Textbook Creator starts out as a simple conversion tool.
kindle textbook creator screen shot
A 3D modeling guidebook in Kindle Textbook Creator.

In brief, the purpose of the Kindle Textbook Creator is to provide an easy way to convert PDF books into a format that is compatible with Kindle reading apps and Fire tablets. The Textbook Creator can convert PDF files into Amazon’s proprietary book format. After conversion, books can be previewed in the Textbook Creator and packaged into files to be delivered to the Kindle Store.

That’s it. That’s what the current Beta version of the Textbook Creator can do. You can’t edit the book, but you can move, insert and remove pages.

Yet, I believe the Kindle Textbook Creator has a bright future ahead. First, the vast collection of nonfiction books and textbooks that haven’t been converted into KF (simple Kindle file format) can be converted and made available to customers. Second, Amazon says that the future releases of the Textbook Creator will include video, audio and interactive features. It will mean a major step forward for rich multimedia books.

What’s the catch?
1. Ebooks converted in the Textbook Creator can only be distributed via the Kindle Store. The application saves books in .KPF format that even Amazon’s own reading applications can’t open. The book must be uploaded to the Kindle Store and then downloaded from the store for viewing.
2. The Textbook Creator can only import and convert PDF books.
3. Books converted in the Textbook Creator can not be opened in Kindle ereaders, but they can be viewed in all Kindle reading apps available for computers, tablets and smartphones and on Amazon Fire tablets.

After trying out the Kindle Textbook Creator, I don’t mind these limitations. The only thing is that publishers – like us – would like to have is the capability to test a new book on an actual device before uploading it to the Kindle Store. The Previewer function in the Textbook Creator works fine, but nothing can beat testing a new book on multiple real hardware and software platforms.

Below screen shots that show how the Kindle Textbook Creator handles tables and different text layouts.
Kindle Textbook Creator screen shot  on Mac
Kindle Textbook Creator