Tag Archives: ebook

Let your iPhone or Android phone or tablet read that ebook aloud to you

2017-09-20

Listening to a book while doing something else is a fun and useful way to enjoy a good story or learn from a nonfiction book. Audible and other stores let you purchase audiobooks that have been narrated by professionals, often actors. Most book lovers already have a selection of ebooks, and it is not very tempting to re-purchase them as audiobooks. Here is how you can make your mobile device (iPhone or Android) read an ebook to you for free.

Android smartphone or tablet

Voice aloud reader, text to speech from ebook to audio

For Samsung, LG, Nokia, and all other smartphones and tablets that are powered by the Android software, there are many voice reader apps available at the Google Play Store. At the store, you may search, for instance, “voice reader” or “text to speech” for applications to download.

I have been using @Voice Aloud Reader on my Android tablet and phone. The way it works is that you specify the folders where you have your ebooks or any other texts stored. The app can also automatically scan the folders for ebooks.

Open the app, browse the ebooks and documents that are available for reading aloud. Choose anyone, and the app will read it to you. Play controls are available at the bottom of the screen.
Voice aloud reader, text to speech from ebook to audio
For EPUB ebooks, Voice Aloud Reader works really well. You can view the table of contents, jump to a chapter you want and the app will read it to you.

The app doesn’t come with its own voices, but it relies on voices that come with Android. It is possible to download additional voices from the Play Store as well.

The free version displays ads that can be removed by paying for an upgrade.

Apple iPhone and iPad

The app that can read text aloud to you is already on your iPhone and iPad. You just have to find it – it is well hidden into the iOS operating system’s menu system.

1. Open Settings.
Select General > Accessibility > Speech. Toggle on Speak Screen.

2. Open the ebook you want your iPhone or iPad read to you.

3. Swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers.
It will take a moment before the audio starts, and a pop up window with buttons to control playback appears.

4. Change the reader’s voice.
Go back to Settings – Accessibility – Speech section, and open Voice. You will get choices for voices that read to you.

The feature works best with the iBooks application, but it works on any screen where you have texts. Just swipe down with two fingers. So, you can use it in the Kindle app and in the web browser, but it may read some irrelevant text, too.

Tips for improving the readability and attractiveness of nonfiction books

2017-09-01

When a publisher/author states that the most important element of a plan for a nonfiction book is its table of contents, she has my attention. That’s exactly what we have been telling to Klaava.com readers in one of our most popular articles.

man holding old books in his hands
Anyway, Brooke Warner has written an article for Huffington Post where she reminds of the importance of the table of contents, and shares five valuable tips for improving the readability and attractiveness of nonfiction books.

Brooke Warner’s tips for better nonfiction writing:

– Use subheadings to break chapters into logical chunks, and to give a reader a break.
– Consider writing yourself into the book as a guide who looks after the reader.
– Insert other elements into the book besides text. Nonfiction books usually benefit from graphs, tables, fact boxes and similar layout elements that capture something essential about the discussed topic.
– Short books are fine. Yes, it perfectly all right to write a book less than 200 pages or 40 000 words.
– Don’t write in dry academic tone, but use your own voice.

A common feature in nonfiction manuscripts is long paragraphs. Time after time, the editor will break long paragraphs into two or more short paragraphs that are easier to read. This is particularly important when reading an ebook on a screen. Subheading, indents and other simple elements help as well.

Color is an important element in nonfiction books as well. Use color in charts, pictures and of course, photographs. If the book is published as a black-and-white print edition, so be it, but the ebook edition benefits greatly from colors.

We have published nonfiction ebooks about 50-100 pages long. When the reader is aware that he or she is buying a concise book focused on a specific theme, that’s a good deal for the customer when the price is right.

Free book shares tips to travelers planning a trip to Scandinavia

2017-08-15

If you haven’t visited any of the five Scandinavian countries before, but you believe now is the time go, a bit of research will help you decide where and when to travel. It is a large area, and the further north you go in North Europe, less people there are. If you go as far as Lapland, there are more reindeer than people.
Reindeer at Aakenus fell in Yllas-Pallas national park Finland, Lapland, north Europe.
Traveling in Scandinavia is an ebook that we have made available for free. You can download the book right away simply by choosing an EPUB or Kindle version of the ebook.

The book includes information on destinations in Sweden, Norway and Finland. Cultural insight on people, customs and etiquette are featured as well, because, well, you are supposed to behave in the sauna as the Scandinavians behave.

We have chosen chapters from our travel guides and cultural guide for Traveling in Scandinavia, and even selected chapters from a cookbook, and a history book. All and all, the book gives an overview on Scandinavia from many angles.

It is easier understand the silence of Finns, drinking songs of Swedes and electric car enthusiasm of oil-rich Norwegians after reading chapters from the book.

Some travelers like summer and sun, others snow and fun. Summer and winter are the best times to visit Finland, Norway or Sweden. Unless, you are a Scandinavia expert and know that the peak season for hiking in Lapland is autumn. It is because the color of green in the fells and mountains fades, allowing other colors momentarily shine.

Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia

Get your free copy of Scandinavia travel guidebook

2017-06-22

What is the one thing you know about Scandinavia? Long winters, midnight sun in summer, design, education system, welfare, Abba, HIM, or A-ha? Well, the best way to find out more is to travel in Nordic countries and see how the region is yourself. A good starting point is the book we have put together from travel guidebooks and cultural guides that talk about Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Traveling in Scandinavia is an ebook that you download for free here.
Book cover image: Traveling in Scandinavia
The book is a selection of travel tips and cultural insights into the Nordic countries. A little bit of information on food and history is included as well.

Here is a taste of Scandinavia for you to explore at the comfort of your reading nook – perhaps before heading out to the North yourself. As the selection of writings show, there are plenty of destinations to see and things to do: city life, mountain biking, fishing in pristine rivers, camping, island hopping, road touring, Arctic adventures, or hiking in the wilderness. If something is missing, Finns will invent it (e.g. wife carrying competition), Swedes will sell it to the world (e.g. entire country available on Airbnb), and Norwegians will win the cross-country skiing world championship (again).

Hands-on video: comparison of an ereader and a tablet as ebook reading devices

2017-06-18

Recently, we studied the Kindle ereader and the Fire tablet in order to discover their differences as ebook reading devices. We concluded that – in addition to the price – the biggest differences were display, multipurpose vs single-purpose product and battery life.
kobo aura one ereader
The Ebook Reader blog recorded a video that lets you view a comparison of the Kobo Aura One ereader and the Kindle Fire HD 8 tablet. Both products have about 8 inch screen: the Aura One has 7.8 inches and the Fire tablet 8 inches. The dimensions of the screens are different, so it looks like they are not the same size, but they are very close.

In any case, the video shows one more key difference between ereaders and tablets: weight. Tablets are heavier than ereaders. It may not matter to you, because it depends on how you usually hold your reading device. If you are holding the reading device so that your arm tires, then the weight can be a factor for you.

View the video by The Ebook Reader below:

Why tablets are heavier than ereaders although they have roughly the same screen size? There are more parts inside the tablet than inside an ereader. The processor is usually more efficient on a tablet, it has more memory, perhaps larger speakers, and above all, a bigger battery. Batteries are surprisingly heavy, and the color screen of a tablet is power-hungry, whereas an ereader’s E ink screen is very power-efficient.

The current price gap is wide between the products seen on the video: the Kobo Aura One is $229 and the Fire HD 8 tablet $79.

Now, we have five factors that influence the decision which one is the right product to choose: display, multipurpose/single-purpose, battery life, weight and price. Everyone has his or her own priorities that specify which factors rise on top, and it makes the decision easier.
Amazon FIre HD 8 tablet, 2017 model

Nordic food and travel book Eight Arctic Seasons has won the Gourmand Award for the best Scandinavian title

2017-05-30

8 Arctic Seasons is a book that lives and breathes the sensitive Arctic environment as it describes gourmet meals prepared from local ingredients that often are enjoyed outdoors. The book also takes readers to exquisite adventures to the North. Above all, it is a beautiful book filled with photographs of the Arctic moments, meals and landscapes.
8 Arctic Seasons book in the snow with Liisa KokkarinenLiisa Kokkarinen, Editor & Co-author of the book took it for a spin near North Pole.

The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards were founded in 1995 by Edouard Cointreau. Every year, the best food and wine books (printed and digital), and food shows on television are being awarded.

In 2017 award ceremony in China, 8 Arctic Seasons: Discover – Taste – Experience was the Scandinavia Cookbooks category winner in the global Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

Janne Honkanen and Liisa Kokkarinen, who were the key contributors to the book, have day jobs at Luxury Action Ltd. The company is based in Finnish Lapland from where it covers the entire Nordic region, including Greenland and even North Pole. Custom tours are planned with the environment and gastronomy in mind, a source of inspiration for the book as well.

The book is available both as printed edition (at Akateeminen bookstore) and as an ebook (check availability and prices here).

Still wondering what the eight Arctic seasons are? Starting from summer, they are: the ever-rising sun, Midsummer harvest, colors of autumn, the first snow, Christmas time, frosty winter, crusty snow and departure of ice.

An image from 8 Arctic SeasonsAn image from 8 Arctic Seasons.
8 Arctic Seasons book, food photo
Eight Arctic Seasons book in the North with Liisa Kokkarinen

What is the difference between the Kindle ereader and Fire tablet if I want to read ebooks?

2017-05-18

The Amazon Kindle ereading device and the Fire tablet have been designed for different tasks. Nonetheless, there is one application in both products that lets users to do exactly the same thing: read ebooks. If reading ebooks is the most important task you are going to do on your device, here are a few tips for choosing the right product.
amazon fire hd 8, 3 tablet colors
In June 2017, Amazon starts deliveries of new improved versions of two popular tablets: the Fire 7 and the Fire HD 8. Since they are priced very competitively at $49 (7 inch model) and $79 (8 inch model), and both can be used for ereading, the question is: should I purchase the Fire or the Kindle for reading books?
Amazon KIndle Oasis
Lets forget about the price for a moment and study the three key differences between the Fire tablets and Kindle ereaders.

1. Display.
The display on an ereader is designed to resemble paper and ink. It is black and white only and can’t display moving images. The amazing thing is that the E ink display commonly used in ereaders is actually better than paper and ink. For instance, in sunlight, it is difficult to read a book printed on white paper, but ereader screen is fine even in direct sunlight. You can change the text size on an ereader, but not on paper. A typical display size on an ereader is 6 inches. A tablet display has colors and it can show videos, but in sunlight there is not much hope. Common display sizes in tablets are 7, 8 or 10 inches.

2. Multipurpose product vs. single-use product.
You can only read on an ereader – and listen to music or audiobooks, but the whole purpose of an ereader is to give the best possible reading experience, nothing else. A tablet is a multipurpose computer that can be used for almost the same tasks as a laptop. If you will be using your device only at home, think of the way you are going to use it, and choose accordingly. If you will take the device along for your travels, which one is more useful for you: single-use or multipurpose product?

3. Battery life.
Typically, battery life of an ereader is weeks rather than days. A tablet has consumed the energy stored in its battery in a couple of days. Both times of course heavily depend on the way the devices are used. Both can be recharged via USB from a laptop, wall socket, or from a portable power bank.

Now, let’s consider the price. At the moment, Amazon has priced the products as follows.

The Kindle ereaders start from $79 and up to $300. All models have 6-inch black and white screen designed for reading.
The Fire tablets start from $49 and go up to around $100 depending on the configuration. You may choose between a 7-inch and 8-inch color display. If you are interested in differences between the Fire tablet models, here is a page that lays out all the details.

Don’t forget that the Kindle is not the only ereader in the market. For instance, Kobo ereaders are used across the world by book lovers who shop in other stores than Amazon, and read EPUB-formatted ebooks.

In addition, if you already have a tablet or smartphone, you can try how reading ebooks feels on it by downloading the Kindle reading app on your device. Simply search for the Kindle app from the application store.

Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet, 2017 model

Key features and technical information for the Fire HD 8 tablet

– 8-inch touch screen, 1280 x 800 resolution at 189 ppi.
– HD video playback.
– CPU & RAM Quad-Core: 1.3 GHz , with 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.
– Battery life up to 12 hours of reading, surfing the web, watching video, and listening to music.
– Battery charge time under 6 hours using the micro-USB power adapter included in the box.
– Wi-Fi Connectivity.
– USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) to connect to a computer, or to charge your device with the included power adapter.
– microSD slot for additional storage space.
– Compatible with content 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, and many video formats.
– 640×480 pixels front-facing camera. 2.0 megapixel rear-facing camera
– Location-based services via Wi-Fi
– Colors: Black, Marine Blue, Punch Red, Canary Yellow
– External volume controls.
– Bluetooth, A2DP compatible for stereo headphones.
– Speakers
– Microphone.
– Size: 8.4″ x 5.0″ x 0.4″ (214 mm x 128 mm x 9.7 mm)
– Weight : 13.0 ounces (369 grams)

Thanks to EU, also Amazon has to compete on fair terms in the European ebook markets

2017-05-06

European Commission has made a decision on complaints about Amazon’s business practices in the EU markets. The decision published on 4th May 2017 confirms that the new terms Amazon had offered to the EU have been accepted. The new terms between Amazon and book publishers who operate in the EU market can not have the most favored nation clause anymore, which means that the publishers don’t have to guarantee Amazon the lowest ebook price.

amazon kindle voyage and paperwhite
European Commission agreed the following commitments offered by Amazon confirmed to EU’s competitive regulation:

[Amazon will] “Not to enforce (i) relevant clauses requiring publishers to offer Amazon similar non-price and price terms and conditions as those offered to Amazon’s competitors or (ii) any such clauses requiring publishers to inform Amazon about such terms and conditions. The commitments cover in particular provisions related to alternative/new business models, release date and catalogue of e-books, features of e-books, promotions, agency price, agency commission and wholesale price.
To allow publishers to terminate e-book contracts that contain a clause linking discount possibilities for e-books to the retail price of a given e-book on a competing platform (so-called Discount Pool Provision). Publishers are allowed to terminate the contracts upon 120 days’ advance written notice.
Not to include, in any new e-book agreement with publishers, any of the clauses mentioned above, including Discount Pool Provisions.”

The case is all about money and control. Amazon has used (and is still using in other markets) its dominant position in the market to enforce the best price and terms for ebooks it sells to consumers. EU has now ended the practice in Europe.

We can confirm that Amazon monitored the lowest price -clause. We have received a note from Amazon that told us to lower the price of an ebook at Amazon, because it was priced lower at another bookstore. There was not much choice, but to lower the product price for Amazon.

We shouldn’t forget that thanks to Amazon, the world has a dynamic ebook market today. Ten years ago, Amazon introduced the first Kindle ereader (a history of Kindle gives you an overview of all models – just look at the first one, oh dear). A pretty good selection of ebooks was available at 9.99 right from the start. It was a beginning for something new that is still developing strongly.

European Commission’s note on the Amazon decision. The investigation process started in June 2015.

Travel guidebooks for destinations in Europe

2017-03-15

Europe is the most popular travel destination for vacation-goers worldwide. First, royalty and then, tourists have been visiting Europe’s majestic cities, medieval villages, castles, fortresses, mountains and beaches for centuries. The infrastructure and services for travelers are in place.

Castillo de Santa Barbara, Alicante, Spain

Castillo de Santa Barbara, Alicante, Spain


Trends in travel change with time, and some destinations that earlier used to welcome visitors, may today wish tourists would go home. That’s an exception. In general, traveling in Europe is safe and people are friendly.

Even though English is the most widely understood language in Continental Europe, there is plenty of variation in regions. In eastern countries, German, Russian and French maybe more common foreign languages than English. In south Europe, English German and French are spoken in tourist regions, but outside them, travelers have to know enough local language to manage daily life.

Rick Steves has published many guidebooks for European destinations, but there are other, contemporary and visual travel guides published as ebooks worth reading. Travel Guidebooks Europe visual travel guidebooks cover north Europe and south Europe, and parts of Asia as well.

Getting to know the local culture is not as easy as many tourists believe. You get to know some German ways and you believe that it is all the same all over Europe. Not quite. Every nation in Europe has its own culture, etiquette and accepted behavior. If you intend to stay a bit longer in a destination, it is a good idea to prepare beforehand and read a cultural guide to the country.

Cultural guides are also featured in the book series of visual travel guides for Europe.

Klaava Travel Guide ebooks are available for download here.

Ebook news digest: travel blogging vs writing, publishing vs self-publishing, best travel camera

2017-02-26

Ebook news digest February 26, 2017

digital nomad working at a terrace near fruit farms of Murcia
Published Author Book Writing Tips
(Heidi Cohen)

Heidi Cohen has compiled the best book writing tips from successful authors into this article. If there is one thing that caught my eye in these valuable tips, it was the fact that so many authors emphasized two things: ensure you have a clear message or goal for your book and start marketing instantly when you know that you are going to get the book published (one way or the other).

Best Travel Camera 2017
(Mel365.com)

Many travel writers (and writers of other genres) take their own photos for their articles and books nowadays. Writers may not want to dive deep into mysteries of photography technology, but capture moments, facts and sceneries with decent equipment. What is the best camera for travelers is the question that the long article answers in many ways.

Pros And Cons Of Traditional Publishing vs Self-Publishing
(The Creative Penn)

Joanna Penn’s article on traditional publishing and self-publishing is almost like “Everything you ever wanted to know about book publishing” in one article. An excellent article to read, even if you already have published a book. I would categorize Klaava Media as a hybrid publisher, because we take every author and ebook as an individual project and tailor the co-operation with the author accordingly.

Ask a Digital Nomad: How Do You Choose Where to Go Next?
(The Ramble)

Digital nomads who have traveled and work for a year or more talk about the places they like to stay. How do they choose their destinations, why and how long do they stay in one place? Many nomads agree that moving too often is not the best way to go, but where they go is a surprisingly wide and open field. I am waiting for the moment when a digital nomad says he or she has spent a winter in Lapland.

3 Big Differences Between Travel Writing and Travel Blogging
(Travel Blog Success)

This article gives plenty of insight on the freedom of blogging and on the realities when working for someone else. That’s the fundamental difference, and truly understanding it will save many writers from a lot of agony.

What is the Finnish way of doing things? American author reveals it all in the 6th edition of his book about Finland

2017-02-10

Author, journalist Russell Snyder moved to Finland from California in 1982. He has spent over 30 years exploring and enjoying the Nordic country. He has traveled far and wide searching for experiences, but has uncovered many cultural treasures right in Helsinki where he has mostly lived. “Finland is both a great place to visit and to live. The longer you stay here, the more you become hooked on the Finnish way of doing things.”
cover image of book: The Lighter Side of Finland 6th Ed
Here is what the author had to say about the new edition of his book about Finland.

You have just launched the 6th edition of The Lighter Side of Finland. When was the first one published?

The first edition was published 22 years ago. It reflected Finland as it was back then. However, Finland is constantly changing and redefining itself, so the book has been updated and revised to reflect those changes.

Why have you picked this year to publish this new edition?

Finland is celebration its 100-year anniversary of becoming an independent nation, so I wanted to celebrate the occasion with this book.

You use a lot of humor in your writing.

I believe humor is the best way to encourage people to keep reading. And if people are entertained and get a few laughs, they may even remember something.

What have been your favorite experiences in Finland?

Sledding on a hill with my kids. Walking around in a forest in Lapland during the autumn to experience the fantastic colors. Fishing on the Ruunaa River and smoking the freshly caught trout on a campfire. Dancing on a Saturday night in a small village and meeting new friends. Trying out the magnificent smoke saunas the Sauna Society. And many more.

You have also written Analysis of the Finnish Tango and I, Helsinki. Any plans to write another book?

I hope to write a book about Estonia soon.

sauna etiquette in Finland
The book covers the basics of sauna etiquette as well as many other unique Finnish customs.

Ebooks news digest: writer-editor relationship, travel stories from tourist perspective, changing role of agents

2017-02-04

Ebook news digest February 4, 2017

photographer taking a photo in flower field
A Storyteller’s Guide to Travel and Photography
(Wandering Educators)

Perhaps it is every professional travel photographer’s dream to be able to publish a book full of beautiful photos from exotic places. Travel photographer and writer David Noyes had another idea: he wanted to create a book that features photographs taken only in places where tourist sightseeing buses take travelers. His book is titled The Photographing Tourist – A Storyteller’s Guide to Travel and Photography, but it is only available as a paperback. Klaava Media is happy to produce an ebook from the manuscript so that travelers can save a little weight and space in their bags.

4 Truths That Will Change Your Perspective on the Writer/Editor Relationship
(Women Writers)

Good book editors can turn mediocre manuscripts into great, successful books, but only if the working relationship between the author and the editor is seamless. Jessica Strawser is the Editorial Director for Writer’s Digest, and she highlights four key elements that make or break the relationship. It is worth mentioning that writers who are planning to self-publish should give some serious consideration to finding someone who can help to finalize the manuscript. Applies both to fiction and non-fiction.

6 Insights into the Changing Role of Agents in 2017
(DBW)

Digital Book World 2017 conference was organized in the end of January. One of the expert panels comprised literary agents who discussed the state of the book business and its future. It is quite surprising how little the agents believe their world is changing despite the rise of digital media, independent publishers and self publishing. They acknowledge the presence of social media, at least.

10 Undervalued Up & Coming Digital Nomad Locations for 2017
(Maqtoop)

Of ten locations listed in the article I would pick Malaysia, and a place in mainland Malaysia (not Borneo as the article recommends). Excellent Internet (depends on the location, of course), fabulous food, nice people, English spoken widely, low living costs, and good transport connections to the rest of the world. A place in the Kuala Lumpur region could easily serve as a base for exploring the rest of Asia. The top choice in the article for digital nomads is Algarve, Portugal, but can it really match Spain or France as a safe, affordable and civilized destination for remote work can be subject of a heated debate.

5 Things You Can Do to Bring Your Writing Ideas (and Career) to Life
(Writer’s Digest)

Many books have been published on the techniques and details of writing a book, but not so many about the mental challenges a long project sets on aspiring authors. Nina Amir has written a book Creative Visualization for Writers that gives advice on having a right kind of mindset and doing mental exercises that help along in the long and complex process of writing.

woman thinking what to write