Tag Archives | Kindle

Kindle Enroute for Android Platform

Kindle fans with Android phones, your wait is over. Amazon has announced that it plans to release a version of its bookreading software for the platform. Currently, the book retailer has applications for Windows, Mac OS X, and several phone platforms including the iPhone. The applications allow for a subset of Kindle functionality available on Amazon’s popular reader devices.

As with all of its applications, Kindle for Android will include Whispersync — which synchronizes information including last page read, etc. across all Kindle applications and devices automatically.

Those wishing to use Kindle will need Android OS 1.6 or newer and an SD card. Specifically, Amazon has mentioned that the software would work on the Droid Incredible, Google Nexus One, HTC MyTouch, Motorola CLIQ, and Motorola Droid on a page announcing the launch of the application.

No specific details on availability have been announced, although a statement from the company says “this summer” — which could mean next month or September for all we know.


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Amazon Kindle DRM Broken, eBooks Set Free

An Israeli hacker going by the handle “Labba” claims he has found a method which breaks the copyright protection on the Kindle, allowing the user to transfer eBooks purchased on the device as a PDF to another device. Kindles use a proprietary format “.azw” which prevents transfer to another device.

Not all books for Kindle include DRM — Amazon leaves it up to the publisher to decide whether or not they would like to protect their content. It is likely the company will rush to patch the hole opened by the hacker, although it was not immediately responding to requests for comment Wednesday.

The hack was developed as an entry to a contest on hacking.org.il, where participants were tasked with finding a way to open up the AZW format to allow it to be read on other devices. The hack took about eight days for Labba to complete. The hack is actually an application that is installed onto the device, which then converts the files to the mobi format. Be forwarned though that Amazon has apparently already pushed out code for the Kindle that breaks these scripts, although it is reported it does not auto-update the device.


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No Nook By Christmas? Barnes & Noble’s Giving You $100

For those individuals who ordered their Nooks early, planning to give them as Christmas presents, hearing they will not be there in time is certainly not welcome news. However, Barnes & Noble is doing all it can to make sure they’re compensated for the company’s snafu.

“A very small percentage of customers” that ordered for pre-Christmas shipping that will not be fulfilled will receive a $100 gift certificate to the retailer, the company said Monday. Those affected were alerted on Friday. If you ask me, its a pretty sweet consolation prize considering these folks essentially just got the device for $159.

Here’s an idea: give the gift card to the recipient and you just bought them a few books to go along with their shiny new Nook when it arrives!

Like the Kindle, the Nook is seeing the same problems with fulfilling demand early on. There is about a two month wait — at least — for those who ordered their devices after November 20.  If Amazon’s history with Kindle sales is any indication, it could be well into the new year before supply and demand equalizes.

In any case, this demand should be heartening to the e-book/e-reader industry as a whole. It now appears that there is a large enough market for these devices, something that some analysts questioned early on during the days of the Kindle.

Maybe too it might just be a fad — that’s entirely possible and God knows tech has had so many gadget ideas that come in a blaze of glory and exit stage right with its tail between its legs.

As for me? I personally still like the idea of paper too much, but maybe I’m old fashioned…


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The Killers!

In this blog post (which I learned of via John Gruber), Darby Lines says that the tech media is unnaturally obsessed with killers–products which are supposed to come along and topple an iPhone, a Google, or another massively popular product through sheer force of quality, marketing, strongarm tactics, or some combination thereof.

He’s right that the whole idea is sort of pointless. As I wrote back in this piece, killers are exceedingly rare–and it seems like even the smartest tech watchers aren’t very good at identifying them until the killing is largely done.

But Lines’ piece got me wondering: Just which products have we fixated on the notion of some other new product killing most often? I decided to try to rank them based on Googleosity: The frequency with which terms such as “iPhone Killer,” “Twitter Killer,” and “Facebook Killer” show up in the Google index.

This is an exceptionally crude experiment–all of the results include some pages (lots of them, actually) that have nothing to do with product-killing. And some terms, such as Xbox Killer and Craiglist Killer pull up so many items about violent death that it’s pointless to include them at all.

But hey, let’s try this again, for the first 35 gadgets, services, and software products that came to my mind.

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5Words for April 17th, 2009

5wordsI want a million followers!

Pirate Bay: Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

Annoy Amazon, lose Kindle books.

Report: Best Buy plans downloads.

Voting on Facebook policies begins.

Slim new Sidekick does Twitter.

Office 2010 gets public beta.

Kutcher’s a Twitter follower millionaire.

This e-paper display does color.


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Another New E-Book Platform? Please, No, Stop It!

Barnes and NobleTheStreet.com is reporting that book-retailing behemoth Barnes & Noble may be hatching a plan to build an e-book device of its own, possibly partnering with Sprint to deliver books wirelessly. I don’t know if there’s anything to the rumor, but it would be stunning if B&N wasn’t formulating some sort of strategy for dealing with the prospect of a world in which most (all?) books are digital. If it doesn’t, it’ll turn into another Blockbuster sooner or later.

If there is a Barnes & Noble e-reader, it’ll have plenty company. There’s Plastic Logic’s upcoming device. Fujitsu is about to release its fancy FLEPia in Japan. Magazine publisher Hearst is working on an e-reader. Rupert Murdoch is making noises about jumping into the market. And then there are the gadgets that are already here: Amazon.com’s Kindle 2, Sony’s Reader, and dark horses such as the iRex iLiad.

All of which leaves me thinking one thing: I wish that the publishing and technology industries would take a deep breath, step back, and declare a moratorium on new e-book gizmos and platforms until they can agree on one file format for e-books that’ll work on every reader. It would be nice if that format was free of copy protection, but I’m willing to settle for DRM as long as it works well, and works with everything,

The books I’ve bought for my Kindle will work on the Kindle and other devices Amazon chooses to support, such as the iPhone. (Which means that even if another company comes up with a gadget that’s ten times better than the Kindle, I’m unlikely to switch,) The books Sony sells work on Sony’s reader. We don’t know what formats a Barnes & Noble e-reader will work with, but I’m guessing it doesn’t want Amazon or Borders selling tomes for its hardware. And so on.

One of the multiple wonderful things about human eyeballs is that they’re compatible with everything you can look at: I’ve got books I’ve owned since I was two that I still pull out from time to time. But e-books that are tied to a particular platform are dead ends: You’ll be lucky if you can still read them five years from now, let alone a few decades into the future.

I cheerfully admit that I’m pretty much ignorant when it comes to what’s going on with open e-book standards. I just know that I’m not going to get too excited about any new e-reader until I know that any digital book or magazine I buy anywhere will work on it…


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Kindle Voice Function Adds Accessiblity

Kindle 2The fracas between the Authors’s Guild and Amazon over the Kindle 2 e-book reader’s text-to-speech feature has prompted advocates for the blind and reading-disabled to remind the guild that blind people use technology too.

In a protest outside of the guild’s Manhattan office today, demonstrators urged the guild to cease its campaign to remove text-to-speech from the Kindle. The guild maintains that it goes beyond the publishing rights that Amazon has acquired, and could impact audio book sales.

Amazon has yielded to the guild’s demands, and is permitting the feature to be turned off on a per-title basis. To its credit, the guild has worked out an agreement for the voice feature to always be an option for people with disabilities.

“Authors want everyone to read their books. We’ve been strongly supportive of the rights of the blind and disabled to obtain books…We know how to balance the interests, to make sure there is special access to books for people who need it but still protect markets that authors depend on. Audio-books is one of those markets,” Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, told News.com.

My feeling is that text-to-speech should be broadly available as part of an accessibility pack. While I take Mr. Aiken at his word, today’s protest served to remind the guild that it has an obligation to the blind that transcends its sales and the exercise of its intellectual property rights.


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Kindle for iPhone: Disappointing. Yet Still Amazing.

kindlesplash

First the bad news: In multiple ways, Amazon.com’s new Kindle reader for the iPhone and iPhone Touch falls short of being the ultimate iPhone e-book application. It fails to replicate all the major features of  a $359 Kindle device. It’s on the rudimentary side in certain areas. I found one or two instances of issues that were either quirks or outright bugs. I’d love to see a book reader for iPhone that was as polished and functional in its own way as the phone’s iPod software–and this isn’t it.

Despite everything, it’s a delight to have Kindle on the iPhone. What makes Kindle Kindle isn’t software as much as it is content–240,000 books’ worth of it, by far the largest collection of e-books ever assembled. Getting access to those books on a phone is by far the biggest deal in content for Apple devices since Apple itself added moves and TV shows to the iTunes Store. And given that there are far more iPhones and iPod Touches on the planet than Kindle devices, this could be a bigger moment for electronic books than the introduction of the Kindle in 2007 was.

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The Author's Guild is Wrong About the Kindle. And That's Okay. They're the Authors.

kindlephoneWhen it comes to thorny matters of intellectual property, my instinct is often to follow a philosophy which, as far as I can tell, almost nobody else shares. It’s a sort of creators’-rights libertarianism which you might call Let the People Who Create Stuff Make Their Own Damn Mistakes. (Possible alternative moniker: Reverse Lessigism.) The recording industry may have made almost every wrongheaded decision imaginable during the first decade 0f digital music, but hey–they’re entitled to drive their business into the ground if they so choose. And who the hell is is anyone else to angrily tell someone who created something what he can or can’t do with it?

Ultimately, I think most owners of intellectual property will eventually come to decisions that serve the people who watch, listen to, or read their works, since behaving too stupidly for too long will leave you without any customers. But it’s OK by me if creators find their own comfort level, even if it’s different from what I’d choose.

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5Words for February 27th, 2009

5wordsMe, I’m mournin’ Computer Shopper:

Asus preps ultra-thin netebook.

Newsday’s site wants your money.

Apple kills Emoji (er, Emoji?).

Amazon Kindle 3 Rumors. Already?

JPG Magazine will return soon.

“Vista-Capable” lawyers fight on.

Google is Tweeting. Very successfully.

Hearst plans Kindle for magazines.

Japan stops BlackBerry Bold sales.

No surprise: identity theft up.

Pirate Bay wife gets flowers.

PC makers’ Windows 7 opinions.

Finally, Windows/Android phone virtualization!


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