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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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Slate for Kindle

Slate magazine is offered daily on the Kindle and Kindle DX for $2.49 a month.  Slate is a fully online magazine, and its revenues rely on advertising.  I was surprised at the price of the Kindle version of this magazine considering that the web version is free.  I’m assuming that the subscription fee is mostly in the Kindle formatting process.  The issue comes out daily, so the price comes out to only 8 cents an issue. That is not a bad deal.

Slate was created as an online magazine in 1996 by Michael Kinsley under Microsoft, who later sold the magazine to the Washington Post in 2004.  Slate covers the usual everyday news topics such as Technology, Politics, Life, Arts and Business.  I love the lighthearted, informal style of writing that this magazine uses.  This informal, first person style of writing was one of the pioneers of the writing style we associate with blogging today.

The writing style seen in Slate matches the nature of the Kindle.  The Kindle is designed to make reading appear fun, lighthearted and portable.

Slate includes a blog section that includes the well known blog: “Kausfiles,” by Mickey Kaus, who is currently running for Senate in California.  Other blogs include: “Brow Beat,” a culture blog, “The Wrong Stuff,” a blog about making mistakes, and others on various topics.  In addition to blogs, Slate also creates podcasts on current issues and hosts a readers forum called “The Fray.”

Overall, the reviews for Slate are really good.  The main complaints are that it comes out a little later in the day than the average newspaper at 9am, and the content includes articles from previous days.  By 9am, most people are at work, so there goes the reading on the subway theory.  Other than that, the reviewers said that it is really nice to have a summary of all of the major news papers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times and others all in one place.  Another positive note about this magazine is that many of the articles are original and well researched, which says a lot about the quality of the content.

Kindle in the Airports

HMSHost, the company that runs any number of airport shops you might encounter as you travel the country, has just acquired exclusive rights to sell the Kindle in the aforementioned airports!  So, what does that mean for you?  So far, they have announced that Kindle devices will be sold in a number of stores to begin with.  Specifically, the Simply Books and Authors Bookstores in Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, John Wayne in Orange County, Charlotte/Douglas in Charlotte, Salt Lake City, Dallas Fort Worth, San Diego, George Bush in Houston, Miami, Tampa, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.  These stores will be selling pre-charged Kindles ready to go on a moment’s notice for anybody who desires one.

Let’s face it, an eReader is practically a vital accessory for any regular traveler these days.  The ability to keep a variety of entertainment material on a 10.8 ounce package with only very infrequent charging needs is a perk that simply cannot be beaten on the long flights and even longer layovers that plague the lives of many.  Now that the Kindle can be found in the middle of travel without the hassle or delay of ordering and shipping, there’s simply no downside or hassle remaining.  The HMSHost Slogan says it all in this case: Making the Traveler’s Day Better.

This is a great step for Amazon that should have been done long time ago. More than a year ago I blogged about my Kindle being bricked on an airplane. I was in the middle of long transatlantic journey with multiple connections. All I could find in terms of eReaders back then were Sony PRS readers which were of little use to me since I didn’t have my notebook with me to create an account and buy books. Being able to but a eReader and start using it right away is a great perk.

Unfortunately I don’t plan to visit any of the mentioned airports any time soon. However if you do, please drop me an email or a comment. I’m very interested what Kindle airport buying experience is like. Specifically it’s interesting how would they handle buyers who don’t have Amazon.com account yet.

Unicode Fonts Hack updated for Kindle Software 2.5.2 and 2.5.3

Kindle 2 International with Unicode Fonts

Kindle 2 International with Unicode Fonts

As the image above implies I’ve updated the hack to work with the most recent versions of Kindle software: 2.5.2 and 2.5.3. The instructions and updated links can be found here: Kindle Unicode Font Hack.

I tested the hack with Kindle 2 US, Kindle 2 International and Kindle DX. Unfortunately I don’t have Kindle DX International to test it on but I see no reason why it would be any different there.

Enjoy!

Kindle for Android Now Available!

Plenty of people out there have been looking forward to the Kindle eReader app for the Android OS for some time now and the waiting has come to an end.  Honestly, it looks really good.  Users will find all the usual features they’ve come to expect from the kindle platform, including a great selection, displays in portrait or landscape orientation, multiple text sizes, the ability to bookmark your books, and of course the ever-popular WhisperSync feature for those who move from device to device as their situation demands.

The App can be acquired free of charge by searching for “Kindle” in the Android Market or by scanning the QR Code provided for you on the Kindle for Android page, assuming you have Android OS 1.6 or later on your phone.  For situations when you can’t carry your Kindle with you, this seems to be about the best you can get as far as portability goes.  Not going to compare this application to the iPhone/iPad parallel, since I don’t have that handy to make any direct comparison, but it seems to be pretty much the same features and experience spread over the less hardware-restrictive landscape of Android. Give it a try and see for yourself!

Where does this leave the Kobo?

In the past week or so we have seen price drops on the two most full-featured and well-stocked eReader devices on the market today, as well as the first exclusively WiFi adaptation of one of these devices at the lowest price seen to date.  So, where does this leave the Kobo, the Borders-sponsored budget eReader that made such a stir over the past several months with its $150 asking price?  The outlook is not so good.

By all accounts, and i make no claim to have the device in my hands at the moment to confirm, the Kobo eReader is a bit of a let-down for a lot of people.  A decent screen, slightly slow response time, clunky menu navigation, and just generally unexciting experience.  I won’t deny that the Bluetooth capability is intriguing, but they simply didn’t do much with it.  Now that the Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) nook has dropped its price to match without sacrificing the reading and shopping experiences and Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) has followed suit with an even cheaper Kindle, it seems doubtful that the Kobo will find itself with much of a place aside from die-hard lovers of the Borders and Kobo bookstores.  Even some of those may find themselves turning away, as the Kobo store, at least, offers their full collection in EPUB format.  There are still moves to be made, but it would seem that the only major impact the Kobo eReader will have had will be to lower the eReader pricing trend enough to wipe itself out of the market.

US News & World Report For Kindle

US News & World Report is available for Kindle and Kindle DX for $1.99 a month.  In the last few years this magazine has transitioned from weekly to biweekly to monthly publication.

The US News was founded in 1933 by David Lawrence, former student of Woodrow Wilson at Princeton University.  Lawrence founded a separate magazine, World Report, in 1946, but later merged it with US News in 1948. The magazine covers topics such as: health, politics, technology, international affairs, education, business and more.  The latest articles focus on the BP oil spill and the issues surrounding it.  There are also articles about healthy behaviors and criticism of Obama’s policies.

The US News & World Report is considered more conservative than its counterparts, Time and Newsweek, and does not include entertainment, celebrity or sports news. This is a good cut and dry resource on current issues.

The magazine is well known for its rankings for colleges, hospitals, careers and most recently, high schools.  This is a great starting resource for checking the rankings when choosing graduate school programs as well.  However, students and parents shouldn’t rely solely on this list for a choosing a school if it isn’t right for the individual.  There is a lot of debate about the superficial nature of the data used to make the ranking decisions.

The US News & World Report also ranks the top hospitals in the nation.  In 2009, John Hopkins was at the top, followed by the Mayo Clinic and UCLA.  These choices shouldn’t be too surprising considering the top notch reputation of these hospitals.

One reviewer had an interesting comment about using backdoor conversions to include pictures on the Kindle edition of the magazine.  They currently subscribe to US News Online in PDF form.  They send it to Kindle’s PDF conversion tool that converts it with the pictures from the magazine included.  The question is, why can’t Amazon do this for the original Kindle version of the magazine?  Overall, the reviews were very mixed and I think if the graphics issue was corrected, a lot more people would subscribe to the Kindle edition of US News & World Report and other Kindle magazines.

Kindle vs nook: What Do You Get?

In light of the recent major price drops on the two most popular devices in the eReader market, there’s every reason to believe that a fresh wave of first time buyers is likely to be hunting for the right fit.  New to the eBook situation and wanting some advice on which way to go?  Let’s see what we can do for you.

Looking at the major points of interest for these devices, each has its strengths and weaknesses.  For the purposes here, we’ll assume that the choices are the $199 nook and the $189 Kindle because 3G coverage is neat and because we don’t know yet what Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) is going to be doing with their WiFi Kindle model(assuming those rumors are true).

Size, Weight, and Feel

  • Kindle: 6″ screen, 1/3″ thick, 10.2 ounces
  • nook: 6″ screen, 1/2″ thick, 12.1 ounces

Subjective Evaluation:  The screen is slightly better on the nook due to a better contrast ratio.  On the other hand, the extra thickness and weight of the nook, slight as it is, makes it a very small bit harder to read for long periods of time than the Kindle. It’s pretty much a tie in this category.

A Note On The Screens:  You’ll see many people complain about the screen flicker and page turn delay.  In general, I advise ignoring these people.  In both cases there is a delay in screen refresh that is so slight that turning the page in a paper book at the same speed with any regularity will likely leave you with a ruined book.  These aren’t your average computer LCDs.  Different technology, different uses.

Input Method

  • Kindle: QWERTY keyboard, 5-way controller stick
  • nook: LCD touchscreen

Subjective Evaluation:  As far as moving through the stores, library, and things in general goes I’ve got to give it hands-down to Amazon.  The on-screen navigation is intuitive and has only the rarest of hiccups.  The nook’s touchscreen, while flashy, leaves something to be desired in terms of responsiveness on the eInk screen.

Selection and File Support

  • Kindle: 600,000+ titles, supports: AZW, TXT, PDF, MOBI, PRC, converts: HTML, DOC
  • nook: 1,000,000+ titles, supports: EPUB, PDF, PDB

Subjective Evaluation:  At first glance, Amazon has the edge in terms of file formats, especially when you take into account that many of the nook’s million titles are simply freely available Google Books downloads.  The nook, however, supports EPUB files.  EPUB is the industry standard format at the moment and tends to be the easiest to get your hands on, assuming you’re the type who prefers to shop for the best deal rather than simply grabbing everything from one store.  The nook comes out well ahead in this comparison for just that reason.  You’re not jumping through nearly as many hoops if you want to shop around as the Kindle makes you.

Storage space, in both cases, is generally a non-issue.  In several years of using these devices heavily, including during the completion of a degree in English Literature, I have never found a situation where there was any advantage to holding 1,500+ books in my hand at once.  If you really need to walk around with your entire library at once, then Amazon’s recent addition of a feature called Collections that makes it possible to organize your books according to your own specifications might make the Kindle your preferred eReader.  At present the nook does not have this ability and a list that long might get unwieldy for casual aimless browsing.

Battery Life(Entirely Subjective Evaluation)

  • Kindle: 30hr active, 20 days standby
  • nook: 24hr active, 7 days standby

Now, these measurements are not in any way when is being advertised by the makers of the devices, nor am I claiming that everybody will see the same performance.  I have had both and used both for some time now, however, and this is what I’ve seen.  It is, quite literally, impossible to run down the charge on either device in a single day by reading at a normal pace.  Simply put, if you want a device that you charge overnight and otherwise don’t have to worry about then either is fine.  If you want something you can throw in a briefcase and carry around all week, then charge on the weekends, the Kindle has a slight, and I want to emphasize slight, advantage in battery life.  Probably the lack of LCD screen.  Neither of these takes into account the power draw of leaving your wireless connectivity going constantly, since this is generally not needed.  You connect, download your book, then disconnect.  Leaving it open is almost always just a waste.

Major Features

  • Kindle: Read to Me, Facebook/Twitter integration, web browser, password protection
  • nook: games, web browser, WiFi capability, in-store B&N perks, interchangeable back plates

Subjective Evaluation:  I’ll start by saying that the Facebook/Twitter thing is not something I’ll comment on.  If these features are valuable to you, there are plenty of places to do the research.  I cannot comment.  As for the rest, the Kindle’s main selling point here is the password protection.  Since you will generally have a credit card linked to the account that is linked to your device, to make store purchasing quicker and easier, this bit of safety is a must-have.  The Read to Me feature is nothing to sneeze at either, as it opens the door to use of the Kindle as a learning tool or simply a way to enjoy your favorite books even after the eyes get tired.  It’s not perfect, but it does a good job and is not at all unpleasant to listen to.

The nook, on the other hand, comes up with mostly fun and superficial changes.  You get a couple of games to play, with the hope of more to come of course, some incentive to visit the B&N store for free access to books and free coffee, and the ability to customize the appearance of your device in a way that goes beyond the usual cover choice.  The web browser on the nook is slightly easier to use than the Kindle’s due to the touchscreen, but this also seems to result in faster battery depletion, so it’s something of a double-edged sword.

The Kindle wins for functionality, but don’t rule out the nook in terms of fun.  Also make note of the fact that because the nook runs Android and therefore a much wider potential developer base in the long term, should an app store become available.

The Overview

I can’t tell you one device is better than the other because they’re both simply great products.  It’s all about what you like and what you want your eReader to do for you.  I use my Kindle when I want bestsellers, a device to travel with, independent authors, and the ability to annotate my books.  I use my nook when I’m looking for the best price on a book, when there’s some question regarding 3G coverage wherever I’m staying, and when sudoku or browsing the web seem like good uses of my time.  The best way to be sure of what you want is to try them out in the store.  Check them out, do your research, and know what you want for your money.  You would be hard-pressed to be disappointed either way.

One Story for Kindle

One Story is available for Kindle and Kindle DX for $1.49 a month.  The schedule for this short story literary magazine is every three weeks, so in the long run, the price is pretty reasonable.

One Story began in 2002, and has won many literary awards such as the Best American Short Stories, Best American Non-Required Reading and The O. Henry Prize Stories.

We believe that short stories are best read alone. They should not be sandwiched in between a review and an exposé on liposuction, or placed after another work of fiction that is so sad or funny or long that the reader is worn out by the time they turn to it. – One Story

This is a great philosophy, especially regarding readers who hate flipping through ads in magazines or for ones who are intimidated by 500 page books.

“At a time when literary writing seems like a dying art, when little magazines are folding left and right, when publishers bemoan the sinking bottom line, here lies a spot of hope…It is called One Story.” – The New York Times

The magazine features up and coming writers fiction writers.  The latest story in the June 20th edition of magazine is called “The Puppet,” by Reif Larsen.  The story is set in Sarajevo.  The author offers a great discussion on his work and his experiences that inspired him to write it.  more

I think it is neat to see the background behind the characters and the setting of the short story through the eyes of the person who wrote it.  This is true especially since the “The Puppet” took place in a war torn area that touched the author personally.

One Story is a great addition to the Kindle collection because of its portable and lighthearted nature.  It does not include graphics, which seems to be a hang up with other magazines on the Kindle, and it is like getting a new book every three weeks. It is meant for the subways, the bathtub, the park, and anywhere else ideal for a quick read.

Amazon Kindle Price Drop

It seems that in one day we not only get a drop in price for the Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) nook, one of the front runners in the eReader device marketplace, but an immediate reaction and one-upping from Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN).

As already reported, the nook has undergone a steep drop in price from $259 to $199, as well as welcoming a new member to the product family: A WiFi only model at a mere $149.  In response, Amazon has cut the price of their ever-popular Kindle from $259 to $189 in what can only be seen as a direct and hostile response to B&N’s move.

One of the main sources for concern lately among critics has been the pricing of these devices.  While always a reasonable investment for the avid reader, some have had trouble justifying the expense of the more popular and full-featured of the eReaders such as the Kindle and nook.  This is quickly becoming a non-issue. The Kobo made its splash by setting an amazing new low price for the market and mere months later we have one product with a more robust support list and feature set being offered at the same $149 price, and the most popular and well-supported eBook reading device on the market today for just $40 more.   There is simply no excuse anymore not to own one.  Amazon and B&N are in a price war and the only one winning is the reader.

Addressing the iPad/Kindle Spin

Well, the internet is abuzz today with talk of a recent report by a Citi analyst declaring the Kindle effectively dead in the water in the long haul.  Now, if you accept the validity of the analysis of where things stand today, and let’s say for the sake of argument that we do for the moment, there’re still some problems to be addressed.  Here’s some details in the wording that a lot of people aren’t looking at very clearly.

The analyst observes that the “Kindle currently enjoys a price and selection advantage over the iBook platform” but ominously follows it with “it’s hard to see why the gap won’t narrow over time.”  It’s difficult to see where the negativity is coming from here.  He states that Kindle is in the lead and then adds some doomsaying to the end of the sentence.

The same basic theory ends up applying to the point by point comparison.  The analyst’s argument seems to hinge on the idea that Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN), clearly a front runner in the mainstream ebook market and a fairly innovative company in general, is going to leave what systems it has in place as they are now and hope for the best.  I get that Apple(NASDAQ:AAPL) is a great company and that many people feel they’re inevitably going to take over whatever market they approach.  If that’s really the case though, we can do without the spins on the facts in the meantime, don’t you think?

Nook WiFi Release/Patch 1.4

It appears that not only were the rumors from a few months ago about a WiFi only version of the popular Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) nook true, but that the price wars have had an effect.  The new nook comes to us at a mere $149, which, as far as I know,  makes it the first eReader at that price to have wireless connectivity. The exclusion of the 3G coverage changes very little about the device beyond making it half an ounce lighter and being signified by a back cover in white instead of gray.

At the same time as this release, we see a drop in the price of the full-featured nook model to just $199.  Considering B&N has managed to provide a good deal of competition for the market leading Kindle even when they shared a price point, these options could well give them a short-term edge until Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) manages to get out the thinner, wirelessly compatible model being talked about for this fall.

On top of the new release and price cut, current owners of the nook eReader will be pleased to note the v1.4 software upgrade released today.  Most importantly, for travelers wanting to go for the new nook model, it adds free and seamless connectivity to all ATT(NYSE:T) hotspots around the country.  The included additional large font size is likely a useful option for many as well.  Finally, and my favorite feature of the list, 1.4 adds in a “go to page” feature, which allows for better and more precise navigation of eBooks.  This is especially important when reading a poorly constructed eBook across two devices since the B&N software does not track what page you last read back to your nook, nor do many free books have working chapter bookmarks.

All this makes August even more vital for Amazon.  It’s going to be interesting to see what they come up with to jump to the front again.

Technology Review for Kindle

Technology Review is a bimonthly publication available on the Kindle and Kindle DX for $1.25 a month.

Technology Review is the oldest technology magazine in the world and was started by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Technology Review aims to promote the understanding of emerging technologies and to analyze their commercial, social, and political impacts.

Jason Pontin is the current Editor in Chief and Publisher of Technology Review and has held the post since 2005. A few article topics from the magazine include: using Flickr to create quicker travel itineraries, 3-D displays without glasses and One Tablet Per Child, a cheaper, modified version of the One Laptop Per Child Project.

Every year, Technology Review showcases the year’s “35 Innovators under 35”.  Topics within science and technology include: Biomedicine, Web, Communication, Computing, Energy and Business.  This is a great way to recognize the younger generation and their unique contributions to the science and technology arena.

The magazine also prints an annual “Top 10 Emerging Technologies” article.  These are really cool new technologies such as liquid batteries that could allow whole cities to run on solar power at night, cutting DNA system costs, software that serves as a personal aide, and much more.

Reviewers say this magazine is great for the non techie audience and doesn’t include too much of the geeky jargon that only technology junkies would know.  That theory is good and bad.  Some reviewers felt that the articles lacked depth, yet others found them refreshing.  However, after looking through the article titles, I did see a some scientific names that I was not familiar with.  So, it appears to be a mix of both techie and non techie language going on.  The Kindle version is good because this magazine doesn’t fully rely on graphics, but the readers would like to see more graphics, color and formatting included for easier reading.

Considering that this is the oldest technology magazine in the world, I was surprised to find that there was not much historical information available online.

Kids Books Going Digital

As of today, 6/16/2010, Random House’s Magic Tree House series, a childrens’ staple since 1992 by Mary Pope Osborne has been released for the Kindle.  All 43 books in the amazingly popular series are now up for sale in the Kindle Store as I write this, with the 44th already available for preorder, anticipating its September 14th release.

The Magic Tree House series has sold over 70 million copies worldwide, been translated into 28 languages, and distributed in 31 countries over the course of its life cycle so far.  It is a widely acknowledged tool in promoting childrens’ literacy and can be(and often is) coupled with Random House-distributed educational material related to the stories for use in classrooms as a teaching aid in any number of subjects.

Much publicity has focused on what the Kindle can do on college and high school campuses, but this brings useful attention to the fact that an eReader with a properly durable case, perhaps even a library’s worth of them, could easily enhance the learning experiences of children at any age.  The Text-to-Speech feature is helpful for any struggling reader and the ability to vary the font size can make a text more approachable for easily overwhelmed young readers still unsure of their ability.  Clearly a step in the right direction.

Moleskine Unveils Kindle Cover

The iconic Moleskine notebook brand now boasts its very own Kindle case.  As fans of these notebooks would expect, the cases boast the traditional Moleskine look and feel while also offering secure placement for the reader.  The Kindle is held in place against the right side of the cover by four double-stitched corner straps against a plush suede microfiber lining.  On the left side, owners will be able to place soft-cover reporter style Moleskine notepads(2 included) into the case, giving them a place to jot down notes and other useful information.

Now, I get that a lot of people see Moleskine as a highly trendy thing.  It probably is.  They have a huge following though, and not without reason.  This particular design was inspired, according to its creators, by the increasingly large number of people involved in homemade Moleskine “hacks” to modify their favorite journal type book into something with a wider range of uses(one of my favorites being the external hard drive). Whether you are personally a fan or not, the utility of having a decent notepad handy while reading is something almost anybody can appreciate, especially students, and it makes an undeniably great gift idea for anybody you know who loves their Kindle.

Also available for the Kindle DX.

Unicode Font Hack and Kindle Software Update 2.5.2

Many of you have been asking and I wasn’t able to give you an answer. Well… now that 2.5.2 is available for everyone to download from Amazon.com website, it’s official. Amazon has fixed the tarbomb vulnerability in the update installer. So jailberaking and hacking the Kindle is not possible now unless you are willing to mess with hardware or have something like telnet or “unbrick”  hack (that doesn’t interfere with official updates) installed. If you do, then you should know your way around Kindle well enough to be able to replace fonts yourself. If you don’t then you’ll have to stick with reading Unicode on Kindle via PDF or figure out how to hack it for yourself.

As simple as UFH installation was, some people still bricked their devices with the old hack for one reason or another. So until a new method of jailbreaking the Kindle is found that is as simple as the old ones, I’m going to postpone UFH development.

Sorry, I wish I had better news for you.

What We Know About the Kno

While it’s ridiculously early to be talking much about a product that will, in the best possible case that they’re claiming, not be available until late fall(December has been mentioned), the Kno is an interesting take on the eReader market and might address some of the reasons that the Kindle is having trouble taking off as anything but a library resource at many universities.  While the Kindle is far more pleasant than any LCD for leisure reading, eye strain is usually a lesser concern for a student hitting the books.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • It’s HUGE.  Two linked 14″LCD touchscreens meant to accommodate a full sized textbook with note-taking capability and integrated annotation functions for textbooks
  • It’s expensive.  They’ve not released much information about pricing yet, but most sources and interviews about the device tend to focus on the range of $1,000
  • WiFi enabled.  Enough said.  It’s for students and if you can find a college student without regular internet access these days, you’re likely going to a lot of trouble for it. 3G would be overkill
  • Deals with McGraw Hill, Pearson, Wiley and others already in place for textbook distribution
  • SDK entering Beta this year.  More options are always better and it’s a safe bet that the application selection on this one will be essential

That’s about it.  The size and weight will be off-putting for a lot of people.  This is clearly not a leisure device for most.  For students already used to carrying around multiple textbooks each the same size as and nearly the same weight as these devices, however, it makes a lot of sense.  The ability to display textbooks with natural pagination, little to no scrolling, and annotation by the student has the potential to make the Kno a must-have for students.  Overall, the news is cautiously optimistic.

Yes, this is simply the new incarnation of the Kakai device we reported on a while back.  We’ve gotten more details and they’ve gotten more interesting since then.  A second glance was merited.

SmartPlanet Kindle Giveaway

This isn’t the first such contest we’ve brought to your attention, so you probably know the general idea by now, but here we go again!  From now through June 30th, SmartPlanet is taking entries for a free Kindle giveaway.  The registration process takes just a moment.  You go to this page, enter your information, and you’re done for the day! One entry per day is allowed.

Now, as a warning, you might want to take a look at the site first and decide if you like the content as this will automatically sign you up for a copy of their email newsletter.  That’s a fairly negligible issue, however, since in the same announcement telling entrants about that, they make clear that you can unsubscribe right away should such be your preference.

I had never heard about this site previously(Excellent draw for your site, guys!), so it’s hard to make an informed recommendation, but the front page story listing led me to a few fairly interesting things I also had not run into before. Early developments in wireless energy transfer just plain interest me.  Coverage on the developing privately funded space flight industry is similarly cool.  Where they caught me, however, was the vat-grown human liver.  I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a news guy.  I follow what interests me in as narrow a way as possible on most occasions because I don’t want to be bombarded with information on what famous person leaked a sex tape with what other famous person and so on.  Finding a site that covers the interesting stuff on a broader scope without that sort of inanity is at least potential, in my book.  Worth a shot, especially when I might get a new Kindle in the process.

Should Amazon Create a “Paperback” Kindle?

Soth Godin, a blogger and author suggests that Amazon should create a “paperback” version of the Kindle.  Hypothetically speaking, this inexpensive device would only include the bare bones and cost about $50.  It would be small enough to fit in your pocket or purse like a paperback book.  Spending less on the e-reader allows you to spend more on the books.  So, I see Amazon’s revenue jumping in Kindle book sales once the Kindle price comes down.  That is, if the publishers can find a way to balance out the prices of the books, which they will eventually.  E-books are still a relatively new market.

According to an article from Wired magazine, the e-book reader market will soon split into two segments.  One will be for simple, cheap e-readers with monochrome e-ink such as the Kindle.  The other will be for high end e-readers with color touch screens such as the iPad.

The only way to get authors and publishers to embrace this device is to sell 20,000,000 of them. You either become the best and only platform for consuming books worth buying or you fail. And the only way to create that footprint in the face of an iPad is to make it so cheap to buy and use it’s irresistible.  – Godin

It depends on what market Amazon wants to focus on.  If they decide to take the software route and continue to market Kindle for various devices, they are already ahead of the game.  If they decide to create a cheap Kindle as Godin is suggesting, then they should make it around the size of the iPod touch or iPhone, maybe a little bit larger.  Lately I’ve been using my iPod Touch to reach Kindle books simply because it is more portable.

I would purchase a “paperback’ Kindle.  It would be much cheaper than any other device out there, including iPods, not to mention the iPad. It also would have the battery life to beat.  I might even consider buying both the iPad and the Kindle paperback version.  A cheaper Kindle would be a great beach accessory.

Kindle’s Summer Guardian

Recently M-Edge began taking orders for their new Guardian case for the Kindle.  This neat new accessory comes just in time for the many Kindle owners out there who want to take their reader for a relaxing day at the beach or pool.  Now, the “waterproof” eReader case isn’t a new idea.  There have been similar devices on the market for years now, in fact.  The difference here is that M-Edge seems to have gone the extra mile to make this case worth the money and the attention.

Where other cases will let you wipe off condensation or splashes from the water, the Guardian will keep your Kindle safe in up to a meter of water, all while remaining completely functional and controllable.  It also has the added bonus of providing flotation for your book, so that dropping or setting aside what you’re doing isn’t going to be something you’re left regretting.

The Guardian comes in three colors(Black, Red, and Blue), features an anti-reflective screen for better reading in the glare of the sun, weighs barely more than 1lb, and can be attached to a lanyard through a ring at the base for added security.  It isn’t the cheapest thing on the market, at a surprising $80, but there can be no doubt that it’s worth the money if you’re serious about taking your Kindle with you everywhere you go.

AmazonEncore’s Fall Lineup

Amazon’s(NASDAQ:AMZN) first publishing imprint, AmazonEncore, has announced plans to bring us ten titles for the fall of this year from a variety of areas.  For those who are unaware, AmazonEncore is a program that uses information from the Amazon.com site, in the form of sales trends, review data, etc, to identify new or outstanding works that deserve a wider audience and introduce or re-introduce these books to the public through both digital and print media.

This fall’s lineup will include:

These titles range from self-published works, including what I believe to be the first self-published Kindle edition to get optioned for a movie(A Scattered Life), to complete originals.  There’s something there for almost any audience.  So check them out.  Seriously.  Go on, I can wait.  Anyway, it’s good stuff.  Clichès aside, I’m going to go order some of my own now.

Kindle 3 Possible in August

It appears that we’ll be looking at the new Kindle people have been talking about a little bit sooner than expected.  According to rumors and reports, we’re likely to be getting improvements on existing technology as well as the new and interesting.  The new version will be slimmer, which is probably the most well reported feature so far, and it will have a sharper and significantly more responsive screen that will more closely emulate the feel of reading directly off of a page.  Personally, any improvement to the reading experience is more than welcome, of course.

The unexpected feature that is, at present, merely a well-substantiated rumor, is that the new Kindle will finally be offering up the option of WiFi connectivity either in parallel with or exclusive of the existing 3G connection.  This opens up at least the possibility of having multiple pricing options depending on user requirements, since there is some evidence that plans have been made for a 3G-free model.  It also adds in a much-needed interface option for those who enjoy the Kindle device but do not have regular 3G access in their homes.  Coverage is growing all over the place, but it’s simply not quite everywhere just yet.  Even for those among us who do have the coverage, the speed boost offered by such an option will be a more than welcome advantage when it comes to web browsing and downloading.  This is to say nothing about the potential effect on price that going without 3G coverage might entail.  August is likely to be a fun month.

nook Promotional Offer

Moving back to the other side of the usual competition, after Amazon’s(NASDAQ:AMZN) recent announcement of this fall’s upcoming slimmer and more streamlined Kindle, Barnes & Noble(NYSE:BKS) has begun a limited time offering(from June 2nd through July 3rd) of a $50 Gift Card with every nook device purchased through either themselves or their partners and Best Buy.

There is, of course, plenty of opportunity to read into this as more than a marketing push, paving the way for the WiFi-only nook we’ve been hearing about or a jump to a lower price point in general, but without anything to set schedules by, it’s a bit hard to assess.  Regardless of the reasoning behind the offer, anybody who was on the fence about picking up this eReader will now have that much more incentive to run out and give it a try.

For those who order their device online, you will need to create a BN.com account with attached credit card and you may expect the gift card to be included in the packaging with your new nook.  This might not be the best time to upgrade, or even to simply join the eReading populace, given the new technology right around the corner, but if the urge is there then this is one more reason to go for it.

High School Goes Digital

While they are still in the market for a vendor and making efforts to arrange matters of budgeting and potential purchase bundling discounts, Clearwater High(Clearwater, FL) has made known its intent to move the student body over to the use of the Kindle as a replacement for the traditional textbook collection that students have always known and “loved”.

The intention is to supply all 2100 students with a Kindle that comes preloaded with every book they will require for the academic year.  Students will not be given the ability to purchase further books on the school property, but it seems likely, given the fact that students will have internet access, that there will be the ability to transfer privately acquired eBooks as desired.  In order to reduce parental concerns and school liability somewhat, all students will be required to sign a form agreeing to avoid accessing inappropriate material on their eReaders via the internet browser.

There is no guarantee that this move will save the school money.  It is intended more as a way of connection with a student body far more at home in front of one electronic device or another than behind a book. With luck, giving these students just what they’re used to in non-academic settings as a component of their learning will increase interest and focus on what they need to do.  The recent addition of Facebook integration probably won’t hurt much either, sadly.

Kindle DX Giveaway News

Let’s face it, who doesn’t want a free Kindle DX?  I certainly do.  They’re not ideal for everything, but for some reason they just strike me as cool and they would certainly be better for PDF display than anything else I’ve got handy at the moment.  Feeling similarly?  Check out Lemondrop.com‘s giveaway page.

They’re giving away a single Kindle DX eReader to a random eligible giveaway recipient sometime after June 9th.  To be eligible, you must live legally in the United States(Sadly this does not include Puerto Rico) or Canada(Also excluding Quebec, I’m afraid), be at least 18 years old, enter the contest no more than once, and get your entry into the site before midnight on June 9th. It takes less than a minute to enter the contest, so there’s really no downside to worry about.  And hey, anybody who wants to give away something this cool deserves to be talked about a bit, in my opinion.

I wish you all much luck and may the best…well, random-est I suppose…person win!  As always, we’ll be keeping an eye out for any similar contests or opportunities that might arise to meet the needs of all the eReading enthusiasts out there.

Sony Makes a Global Push

Today(Mar27th) brought about the announcement of Sony’s(NYSE:SNE) plans to make a large international push in eReader device sales, bringing their products to nearly twice as many countries as currently enjoy them.  The current list of the US, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland will be expanded to include Japan, China, Australia, Italy, Spain, and probably others.  While in recent years we haven’t seen anything groundbreaking from Sony in terms of eReaders, they are really the ones that started the craze in the US with their PRS series.  The current hardware offerings are easily as functional and easy to read as anything from their competition, they just lack a lot of the bells and whistles that more famous lines like the Kindle bring to the table.

What Sony really has going for them in this initiative is the localization angle.  Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) may have recently begun bringing international authors to the english-speaking arena, but Sony will be bringing countries around the world works in their native languages from local authors through partnerships with affiliated bookstores. This should have a strong appeal for potential buyers, given the overwhelming weight, at present, on the availability of books in the English language above all others. Maybe this will be what brings the Sony Reader back into more equal footing with the Kindle and nook?