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On this blog we will track down the latest Amazon Kindle news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great Kindle3 tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest KindleDX accessories.

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February 2010
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Tsunami in Honolulu – more like a quick tide

Update 2pm: Hawaii tsunami warning canceled; no damage seen in Islands. It is great to hear that tsunami passed without any damages and we also had a chance to see some tsunami effects in a safe small scale demo from the ocean.


Finally I see something going on here in Ala Way bay in Honolulu.

Water in Ala Wai harbor raised and droped about 7-8 inches within 20 minutes or so. Now it is slowly raising again. It is strange to see that the actual tsunami effects came at the moment when people already started walking outside and boats started to return.

Here is a shot when it started. I marked a level to which it raised.
tsunami_stage_1

Here is a shot with water at the highest level.
tsunami_stage_2

And here is one more when water receded again leaving wet mark on the stones.
tsunami_stage_3

Looks like tsunami in Hawaii is going to be a minor one – but tsunami warning still in effect – stay at safe place

I’m watching KHNL (hawaii news) now and they just showed water slowly receding from Hilo bay and then surging back. But it was at most one feet water level difference. So looks like even if there was a tsunami it was a very small one. And without TV I doubt anyone would notice it. False alarm… Correction: it doesn’t mean that it is safe to go outside until warning is cleared!
Update 11.59am: watching hilo bay now – and it looks like water is running out of it quite fast. So there maybe some wave coming in.
Update 12:56pm: seen some water change here in Honolulu – about 1/3 of a feet. Still pretty empty outside. Warning is still in effect. Even though Honolulu Advertisers writes that Isles appear to have been spared there is still chance that more waves could come.
Update: 1.05pm: KHNL is showing some interesting pictures with some Hawaii reefs being exposed by tsunami. “Hilo Bay is continuing to fill and drain every 20 minutes, said warning center oceanographer Nathan Becker.”

Tsunami warning in Hawaii

I’m in Honolulu, Hawaii on short vacation right now. And I’m staying in the hotel right in front of the Ala Wai bay in Honolulu.

Today I was woken up by a very loud alarm at 6am today and police car going circles around the bay with a following message: “Attention. Attention. This is a message from management. Tsunami warning has been issued. Please immediately leave the bay.”
Also I overheard couple people talking downstairs that this tsunami warning is the most severe since 1964 and they strongly recommend boaters to evacuate to the nearest shelter. It should be safe for anyone higher than 3rd floor. I’m on 5th so hopefully it will be ok…

I’ll keep you posted. If tsunami comes I should have front view to it from my balcony. You can follow it on my twitter account

Even though it is interesting to watch real tsunami from the safety of 5th floor (I hope this statement is true) I still wish that the wave won’t come. Entire state life is completely disrupted now. So many people had to change their plans and evacuate…

Video of Ala Wai bay and loud tsunami siren alarm. It sounds every 30 minutes and it is very loud…

Here is a photo from my room. I never saw so many boats in the ocean here in Honolulu (even during Friday fireworks)…

ala-wai-harbor-boats_smaller

Here is another photo of boats leaving Ala Wai harbor to avoid damage from the tsunami wave.

tsunami-warning-boats-leaving-ala-wai-harbor

HarperCollins Might Also Push Amazon To Increase Kindle eBook Prices

harper_logo_small-1Looks like the publishers are not through making Kindle eBooks over all a much pricier place. After Hachette followed in MacMillan’s foots steps, it looks like Harper Collins might be the next publisher to re-negotiate their terms with Amazon. Rupert Murdoch has expressed his dislike of Amazon’s $9.99 policy for eBooks and he says that it hurts hardcover editions of the the same books.

Rupert Murdoch is the chief at News Corp, the company that owns, amongst multiple other media outfits, publishers HarperCollins. Hence, if he thinks Amazon is hurting Harper Collins book sales, there might be trouble for Amazon. Yet again that is.

It hasn’t been all that long since MacMillan settled their deal with Amazon to have their books priced higher on the Kindle. Murdoch has mentioned that even though Amazon pays them the usual $14 or whatever wholesale price they do charge, the ultimate low price hurts over all book sales from other outlets. According him, Amazon is willing to sit down with them and renegotiate the terms.

Even though he puts it as if they will talk things over, there is no doubt that he will really try to push Amazon into accepting a higher pricing scheme for HarperCollins eBooks. If this goes through, it might become the turning point in Amazon’s eBook pricing scheme. Once three such major publishers force their deals through Amazon, there will be little in the hands of Amazon to change the over all pricing of eBooks.

Of course, a lot of people will see opportunity in this and will offer books for cheaper than the major publishers. For light reading thus, a lot of people might choose cheaper alternatives. But for best sellers and major titles, buyers are the ones who will bear the price difference. Interestingly, Amazon will finally be gaining money on &9.99 books instead of losing it as they do now. But it will serve to lower their appeal to buyers, which is ultimately not a good thing.

Kindle is the most searched for eReader… and always was

I decided to do a little comparison on search volumes related to 3 leading eBook readers. You can do it for any search terms by using Google Trends from Google Labs… Here’s what I got by comparing Kindle, Nook and Sony Reader:

Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader Search volumes

Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader Search volumes

As you can see, according to Google, ever since it was launched Amazon Kindle had the lead by both search volume and news reference volume. This held even when competing readers were launched. That was surprising even to me.

MacMillan Forces Amazon To increase eBook Prices To $14.99

MacMillan LogoIn a recent drama, MacMillan made it publicly known that they were having problems with Amazon over the pricing scheme of eBooks on the Kindle platform. MacMillan was apparently already in talks with Amazon for quite sometime about the prices being raised from Amazon’s current $9.99 maximum price.

Whilst everyone can see that over pricing digital content can really backfire (look at digital music or movies for lots of examples), it seems like MacMillan has been really hell-bent on increasing the pricing based on their latest agency model. Under this model, MacMillan would like to make sales through agents, who would charge the normal 30% commission that standard throughout the industry. The extra cost of course gets pushed on to the buyers and this is where Amazon did not want to comply with MacMillan’s requests.

After negotiations broke down, Amazon took off all MacMillan books from the Kindle store. However, even then the Kindle makers acknowledged that MacMillan owned too many important titles for Amazon to be able to keep those books away from Kindles. And true to their predictions, Amazon ultimately had to give into MacMillan’s demands to increase the prices.

Under the current model, the eBook prices will be capped at a maximum of $14.99 instead of $9.99 as per existing models. The average prices are supposed to start from $5.99 and go up to $12.99 but the real situation would be that most important titles will be priced between $12.99-$14.99. MacMillan gave everyone a glimmer of a hope saying that they will bring the prices down dynamically. However, that simply means that they will gradually reduce prices on existing titles but will likely price newer titles high.

These new prices put Kindle costs on the same level as those on iPad, making the gap between the two become much smaller when it comes to pricing.

Kindle Apps Update

Since there is very little solid information about any of the upcoming Active Content for Kindle, I’ve taken the liberty to speculate about the following apps that are likely to appear:

You are welcome to agree or disagree with these predictions and comment on that.

Amazon Buys TouchScreen Company, Kindle Touch Ahoy?

TouchCO LogoAmazon, Kindle‘s parent company, has bought a relatively unknown and new company called TouchCo. Before the buy out, TouchCo used to supply touchscreen technological solutions to companies. The company specializes in building touchscreen interfaces that have the capacity of detecting and parsing multiple touch inputs. This makes their touchscreen technology extremely useful for devices that may be shared at some point.

It also means that any touchscreen made with TouchCo’s technology will have the advantage of being extremely capable and flexible to UI changes. Amazon and TouchCo refused to talk about the deal and they haven’t mentioned the amount for which the deal was sealed. But ever since the news broke, TouchCo’s official website has put up a notice about the company not doing any business.

Those who are following the eBook market closely, are of the opinion that the market can only grow bigger over the coming years. Since Amazon is the pioneer in this field, it is expected that they would look to take their Kindle eBook reader to new heights through innovation. Post the iPad launch, a lot of people have expressed concern over Amazon’s ability to handle the competition. But it is for certain that the Kindle in its current shape is a completely specialized product that will still be the chosen reader for digital book lovers.

However, the purchase of TouchCo shows that Amazon is still interested in making a device that conforms to the current trend of touchscreen tablets. Since Amazon has not declared what the wish to do with the company, we can only speculate what direction the Kindle will take.

Most are of the opinion that the popular eInk Kindle will remain and a complimentary model will be produced that will have features that directly compete with the iPad. The recently released KDK (Kindle Developers Kit) is also taken as a sign of such a thing to come.

Kindle DX broken by air-travel

Broken Kindle DX

Broken Kindle DX

Almost a year ago I posted about Kindle 2 being broken by air-travel. Well this time if was Kindle DX that got it… I was returning from a vacation with my parents and since there were many of us travelling and all of us love reading, Kindle DX that was usually stay-at-home kind was taken along for a want for more portable e-Readers. Once the plane was in the air my Mom tried to power it on and instead of Walter Scott novel saw some horizontal lines that I was all too familiar with. This time around they were accompanied by some vertical lines.

Since this time around I didn’t power the Kindle on after I’ve cleared security I can’t tell for sure where it was ruined by X-ray machine (which I still consider unlikely but not impossible) or by slight decease in cabin pressure that accompanies the take-off.

As usual Amazon customer service was top notch. Within 24 hours of a phone call there was a new Kindle DX on my porch. I secretly hoped that Amazon wouldn’t have any CMDA B004 Kindle DX left and that the replacement would be a newer GSM B005 Kindle DX with better battery life but unfortunately it wasn’t so. Even so I can’t really complain.

Brother Releases Another Unspeakably Expensive E-Book Reader

brother_sv-70_3-540x367

Brother is a Japanese company who already have an e-Book reader in the market called the SV-100B. That e-Book reader never made it to anywhere outside Japan but it is already time for a new version. Brother has now released a new model called SV-70. Interestingly, instead of making it even better, this is actually a scaled down version of the original e-reader and in most cases they are very similar to each other. They both use the eInk display made famous by the Kindle and they are exactly the same in dimensions as well. I would say they also look identical.

But the Sv-70 stored half the pages compared to the SV-100B — 500 pages on the SV-70 compared to the SV-100B’s 1000 pages. Also, there is no Bluetooth 2.0+EDR on the SV-70 but the SV-100B has it. Also, the older model could connect to a cellphone wirelessly to access documents — that is gone too. You know, you would think that a newer model would have more ways to connect. But instead you have a device that barely connect’s at all.

On the surface, it is pretty ugly.  I am sorry but in an age where minimalism is beautiful, that huge a thing with so many buttons is just plain unsightly. Still, the fact that it they have made a new model with far less features  might mean that their target market is something else altogether and no one really wants to connect to anything.

And that might actually be the case, given how much Brother is charging for the SV-70. If you thought a $400 e-reader was expensive, you might want to look away right now. Because Brother’s SV-70 costs something around $1092.00 per unit! Yes, I put in those decimal zeroes to show you that there has been no mistake! Obviously, this meant mainly for industrial users who have a completely different set of feature set in mind. I guess we will only know when at least one of these finally gets out of Japan.

Sign-up for KDK limited beta is now open.

As of this morning I’ve received an email from Amazon (which resulted from leaving my email at KDK page earlier). Right now Amazon is considering first candidates for the limited KDK beta. You can head to https://kindlepublishing.amazon.com/gp/vendor/kindlepubs/kdk/request-seat and fill out a form with your contact information as well as brief description of the content you plan to develop, hit submit and hope for the best.

Unicode Fonts Hack for International Kindle DX

I was away from home for extended period of time without access to a machine that I could rebuild UFH packages for the newly released International version of Kindle DX. Fortunately one of blog subscribers did.

I’ve uploaded updated hack binaries to the Unicode font hack page.

Sony Welcomes The iPad And Predicts Death Of Paper Books

Apple iPad TabletUnlike most companies, Sony is sounding positively chirpy about Apple’s foray into the world of eBooks with their iPad, the iBooks app and the iBook Store. They welcomed Apple’s move into the eBooks domain and also predicted the imminent death of paper printed books as we know it. Steve Haber, president of Sony’s Digital Reading division told tech site Pocket-lint that a new device that has eBook reading built into as a feature is a good thing for the digital book market. He emphasized the fact that mobile devices that have this feature built in will play a key role in the paradigm shift from the analog to the digital media. So looks like Sony is actually happy that is has such great competition as the Kindle because frankly this is the device that put eBooks on the map. Even Steve Jobs acknowledged that.

Sony also mentioned that the conventional form of a book — ink printed on paper and bound together — is really on its way out. According to them, it has about 5 years of life left before everything goes digital. While that sounds really nice with so many people wanting it to go digital, I would like to remind people that similar things were said about the CD about a decade ago from this date. Yes it is dying but physical storage mediums for audio content have not gone out just yet.

So even though it is plausible that paper books will completely fade out in the near future, there is still at least a decade left for it to even start fading out. That is because the adoption curve globally on new technology is really low and it would be silly to focus only on the US.

But one thing’s for sure — eBooks are only going to become bigger and better as time goes by. The same for all other print media content. We have officially stepped into the decade that saves the print industry by, Ironically, stopping all physical printing!

Delta Electronics Planning Ship Color And Monochrome E-Readers This Year

A sample of the Bridgestone display

A sample of the Bridgestone display

It seems like the Apple iPad announcement has really shaken things up in the tech industry because we are suddenly hearing a lot of new announcements from companies we had almost forgotten about or did not know existed. The latest is Delta Electronics and their 13.1 inch e-reader that will carry a color e-paper display. This display has been developed by Bridgestone and it will hopefully have better refresh rate than the eInk technology that is found on the Kindle. While the e-reader itself may not be very interesting, the display does interest a lot of people because this is what future eBook readers might start using.

Other than the colored, larger version, Delta Electronics also plans to bring forth another e-reader model that will have a monochrome display measuring 8.1 inch. This too will use the same e-paper display technology as the larger, colored version. Both devices are expected to have touchscreen UI’s, since that is the latest thing to add to e-readers.

The date chosen by Delta Electronics has not been the best one though. They chose to announce it the same day when Apple released their iPad. As a result, it simply got buried under a lot of Apple coverage. The color eBook model was actually briefly shown off last year and it did garner some interest at that time.

At this moment, details about the UI are uncertain and hence there is a lot of room to speculate about how it will compete with Kindles and the Nook. Of course, that is only if it plans to compete at all. This could end up being just another boring e-reader that just has a different screen. But if it manages to to do video somehow that might shake things up quite a bit. But even then, it has to have a content store of some kind to compete with the Kindle, Nook or the iPad even. Current estimated shipping date is sometime in Q2 2010, same as the Asus Dr-950 e-reader.

Dual-Screen MSI Netbook Might Take A Shot At E-Readers

msi-dual-reader-01-600x400 [Credit: Engadget]MSI had gone on record late last year saying that they were looking at building an e-reader device that will compete with the other mainstream offerings that are already there in the market. Whether they changed that plan or are showing something completely new, we don’t know but MSI has been showing off a dual-touchscreen device that looks more like a netbook than an eBook reader. It surely isn’t something as simple and direct as the Kindle, as it seems to be aimed at running a lightweight OS.

MSI probably is not looking at putting Windows 7 on this but they are surely going to be looking at light OS’ like the Chrome OS from Google or the Andrioid Mobile OS, also from Google.

Whether or not this is going to reach mainstream is still unknown because the device is still at a prototype stage without any word about manufacturing plans at the moment. But judging by the way MSI is talking about, it sounds like they fully intend to translate this into a mass market product or at least try to do so.

The comparison with e-book readers mainly comes in because of its similarity to the Courier tablet that is rumored to be under development at Redmond. The dual touchscreen is definitely a good way to emulate a book and it will definitely look good in usage if it does come true. However, there are several things that still stand in the way of making this happen. Battery life is going to be pretty low if there are two normal screens on the device, so they have to switch to something like the Pixel Qi. Graphics is also going to have to be pretty powerful to pull this off the way the demo shows it.

So over all, if it does come to fruition it might be a nice device but that time might be a long way off at this moment.