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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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July 2014
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Kindle Paperwhite Update Improves Overall User Experience and Comic Reading Specifically

We already know that Amazon intends for the Kindle Paperwhite to set the new standard for eReader hardware in every way they could manage.  Some people might still wish for physical page turn buttons (I certainly do) but other than that it is a clear step ahead of all of the competition right now.  That’s referring entirely to the US markets, of course, which may be a good reason that they have decided to update the Paperwhite firmware with some specific comic-related improvements in mind.

On a November 8th release, the new software improvements were made available for download.  If you have a Paperwhite and haven’t gotten everything automatically delivered to your device at this point, check out the side-loading instructions located here.

Foremost in the advertised improvements is the list of optimized fonts.  Palatino, Baskerville, and Futura have all been made sharper and smoother.  It’s a small thing in many ways, but the change will stand out for anybody who prefers to use these fonts regularly.

The ability to remove Recommended Content from your Paperwhite’s home screen is now also included.  This has become a point of annoyance for many users, but the ability to remove this particular advertising stream was added not long ago to new Kindle Fire models and was inevitable here as well.  A more interesting update would have been producing the same stream for older models on demand, honestly.

The settings menu has been brought to the front of things a bit more as well.  You can now jump straight into this menu directly from the menu while reading a book with no need to return to the home screen.

Perhaps most importantly, given the recent push into Japan, is the improved manga/comic display capability.  A new Fit-to-Screen option will stretch images to fill the entire screen, addressing many situations where small panels were practically unreadable previously.

The Paperwhite is also now able to retain a manga/comic specific setting for page refresh preferences that is completely separate from the same options for book reading.  This makes it easier to choose the proper setting to maximize both battery life and reading quality in two areas with distinctly different visual representation needs.

In preparation for a move beyond Japan into China, Simplified Chinese is now included as a font option.  It’s a small note now, but could be vital in the long run.

The only other really notable change is in book samples.  When picking up the full version of a given book after reading the sample you will now start off at the last position accessed in the sample.  The sample itself will be removed from the library.  Organization will be greatly improved as a result for anybody who regularly samples their books.

Many of these updates are small things, but added together they make for a great update.  There is more than can and likely will be done to improve things, especially with regard to comic-reading.  Now that we’re seeing a much bigger effort to get graphic storytelling into the Kindle marketplace, however, it’s safe to assume that a wider audience will demand attention and genre-specific features that will quickly optimize the eReaders as best a black and white display can be optimized.

Halloween Skins From DecalGirl

This is the third post in a series of weekly giveaways sponsored by DecalGirl.com here on BlogKindle. As usual we start it by announcing the winner of last weeks giveaway: @MRSHRAINEY. To be a winner as @MRSHRAINEY you need to do just a few steps: click on the twitter button on the left to retweet this post and follow @BlogKindle so that I can send you a personal message on twitter with redemption code in case you win. Winner will be randomly chosen next Friday and announced in the next post. Chances of winning are pretty high, especially if you participate several times :)

I’ll let Bill take over from here…


“Halloween is coming, and soon the doorbells will be humming….” Sorry, I slipped back into my former career as a music teacher for a second. As you probably know, DecalGirl.com offers skins for almost every taste, and designs featuring fantasy, macabre, or Gothic art are no exception. Halloween is getting very close, and in honor of the dentist’s favorite holiday I am going to show everyone a few “creepy crawly” designs from DecalGirl.com and tell you a little about the artists who created them.

Before we get started, just remember that you will not find all of these designs on the Kindle skins pages at DecalGirl.com. If you read last week’s post you will recall that you can shop by design and select any of our available designs for any device. If something you see here strikes your fancy, click on the image and you will be taken to the page for that design at DecalGirl.com. From there it’s a simple matter to select your device from the drop down menus, and your options for gloss or matte finish will appear along with the price. Make your selections, add the skin to your cart and you’re good to go!The first design is called “Hallucination” by Ross Farrell Design. The skull is a persistent theme for Ross, as you can see if you visit his artist page at DecalGirl.com. Ross uses media such as sculpture, oil, and acrylics to produce much of his work. He believes that “the single most important thing about art is interacting with it.” Ross currently has 20 designs available at DecalGirl.com.Next we have “Angel vs. Demon” by James Ryman. DecalGirl.com currently offers 13 designs by James. His focus is on fantasy art, and his work features images such as fantastic creatures, skeleton musicians reminiscent of Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix, and supernatural femmes fatales.

The third design is called “AFS-1” by Robert Steven Connett. Robert offers fantastic looking creatures in science fiction style settings. He cites as inspiration the work of H.R. Giger, Chris Mars, and Heironymous Bosch. Those familiar with the work of H.R. Giger will probably see some of his influence in Robert’s work. There are currently 11 of Robert’s designs available at DecalGirl.com.

For some seasonal art in a lighter vein, there’s “Succubus” by Chrissy Clark. Chrissy works in digital media, producing anime/manga style drawings that usually feature innocent looking females in a variety of settings from fairy tale to sci-fi. DecalGirl.com currently offers 29 of Chrissy’s designs.

This is just a small sample of some of the macabre and fantastic art available on skins for Kindle and other devices at DecalGirl.com. They have been greatly reduced in size for this post due to limitations on file size, but you can click on any of the images here to see them full size on our site.Have a great week, everyone!

Amazon Pulls Some Explicit Comics From Kindle Store

Amazon has recently decided to exercise their policy regarding explicit material to remove a selection of yaoi manga from the Kindle Store, much to the dismay of a vocal set of Kindle owning manga enthusiasts and anti-censorship enthusiasts.  The decision is based around rules prohibiting “Pornography and hardcore material which depicts graphic sexual acts”. Pretty understandable, I suppose, but it’s an oddly complicated situation.

First off, there’s the matter of precedent.  Many of the now-denied manga offerings are analogous to previously approved titles, according to their publishers, and at least two of the titles in question were previously in the store and only recently received updates that apparently brought them to the attention of whoever happened to make the latest decision.  While you cannot fault Amazon for enforcing their own stated rules, the fact that the enforcement is selective and at the discretion of the company without terribly specific guidelines is troublesome.

There is also the fact that one of the Kindle store’s largest sections at present is their erotica section, which contains thousands of depictions of potentially offensive material and remains pretty much untouched.  Some have connected the attention received by this particular brand of manga to the fact that it depicts homosexual romance between men.  It would not surprise me at all if that fact, highlighted by user complaints from somebody hoping to police the perceived morality of their favorite shopping venue, were what started this whole mess.  Since the first I heard of this, however, several heterosexually oriented titles have met with similar complaints.

This definitely leads to the conclusion that no matter how all of this began, Amazon is stepping up its enforcement practices.  Will this extend to depictions of possibly offensive content that are not being displayed graphically?  It seems unlikely Amazon will be going through the Kindle Store and deleting thousands of selling titles, but to single out one particular area that is no more guilty than the rest is a bit hypocritical.

There are some moves being made to organize boycotts and emails, if you’re interested in that sort of thing.  Some twitter users have even revived the once popular #amazonfail hashtag to raise awareness of the situation. Whether you care about yaoi or not, there would seem to be an advantage for all of us in keeping selective censorship out of the store as much as possible.  If they’re going to enforce well defined standards uniformly across all eBooks, that’s one thing.  When the rules are being applied on a case by case basis depending on the personal interpretations of individual judges at Amazon, it’s a problem.  The Kindle platform is one of the best things about owning a Kindle eReader, mostly because of the impressive selection.  If the central distribution point for all of our reading material becomes a bit irregular, it’s to all of our disadvantage.

While it is hard to say at this point if Amazon is likely to back down in time, chances are good that they’ll hold to their decision for the immediate future. If you’re interested in one of these titles and see it in the Kindle Store, it might be a good time to consider picking it up.  No eBooks that have already been purchased will be removed from user accounts, they are simply being made unavailable for future sales.

Mangle: Manga Meets the Kindle

For anyone interested in manga, there is a free, open source software available called Mangle.  Manga is a series of Japanese cartoons or comics that cover all genres such as action, comedy, romance, sports, science fiction, fantasy and others.  Manga has become a huge hit in Japan and worldwide.  Usually the comics are printed in black and white, but there are a few color versions floating around.

Mangle was created by Alex Yatskov several years ago for the older generation version of the Kindle.  This software works really well with the Kindle 3.  Click here for downloading instructions, and for images of software demonstrations.

The Kindle 3’s improved screen makes graphics much easier to read.  Graphics have been a common complaint among Kindle users, but that seems to be improving.  You can zoom in or out and rotate the images as desired.  Manga pages in the physical books are small, but there are a lot of them.  More pages take up space, so transferring them to a digital format solves that issue.

The other cool thing about providing manga in a digital format is that it attracts an audience who might not like to read regular books.  Some people just enjoy reading a story through graphics rather than words.  It would be awesome if this option could be provided on all of the Kindle platforms: PC, Mac, Android, iPhone and iPad.  When I think about it though, the black and white aspect of manga might just be a better fit for the Kindle device itself.

There is a good selection of manga available in the Kindle Books section on Amazon.  A lot of them seem to be either in the romance or horror category.   Anyone know of any particularly good novels they would recommend?  I have been introduced to the world of manga, but would like to hear about what great titles are out there to check out.