Amazon Allows Kindle Direct Publishing Authors to Target Canada

Amazon Allows Kindle Direct Publishing Authors to Target Canada

Amazon has not officially announced anything yet, but it is now confirmed that they have added Amazon.ca to its list of supported countries for Kindle Direct Publishing program. This now gives self-published authors the ability to market and monetize their content in Canada. Any author that logs into KDP dashboard will now see a drop-down menu with Amazon.ca listed.

We caught up with one author this morning that said “I was very pleased to find the Amazon Brazil store on my dashboard this week, meaning my books are available in Latin America now. But I was especially surprised to find the Amazon.ca (Canada) store on my KDP sales dashboard this morning. I immediately went to the Amazon.ca website and have not found my ebooks available there yet, so it might be that they are adding the titles as soon as they can, given that my books are available on the other Amazon international platforms. This is very exciting, as there is a whole customer base of readers who will now be able to access titles from indie authors.”

UPDATE: As of this morning, the author’s ebook titles have now been added to the Amazon.ca website and are available.

This new unveiling comes a few minutes after Amazon officially added Canada to the list of supported countries for Kindle Publishing for Blogs . Right now Canadians can add their Province and Country via their account management tools. The only method of payment is checks, the direct deposit information still warrants a USA address, but this may change soon. Only a few days ago the UK and USA were the only two countries that were able to charge subscription fees for their blogs to be Kindle friendly.

Amazon Allows Kindle Direct Publishing Authors to Target Canada

Good e-Reader Recognized by Freescale as the Top 4th Tech Blog in the World

Good e-Reader Recognized by Freescale as the Top 4th Tech Blog in the World

Freescale ran their yearly Top Tech Pundit of 2012 and we are pleased to announce that Good e-Reader officially placed 4th! This is a huge achievement for our tech blog and a testament to the great writing staff we have here that pumps out comprehensive digital publishing, e-reading, and ebook news on a daily basis.

Once a year Freescale runs their Top 5 Tech Pundits of the year and this year was no different. Initially, they had hundreds of blogs in the running and we were shortlisted to the Top 20, due to overwhelming support from our readers. During the last week, they took 20 of the most voted blogs in the world, including Cnet, ZDNET, Engadget, PC World, and the New York Times. I am humbled to say that due to our readers’ support we edged out all of those companies and made it into the coveted Top 5. I can honestly say I am blown away that an indie news source like ours managed to persevere against companies with outlandish operating budgets.

This past week has been huge for us with the story we broke about an Amazon launching a retail store. Major news organizations such as Thomson Reuters,  Fastcompany, Bloomberg, and many more all picked up on our articles and mentioned our blog in their publications. We conducted interviews with many companies, including the Financial Times and Sky in the UK about this piece and were honored that many industry veterans are regular readers of ours.

I want to extend my personal thanks to everyone who voted for us for this contest. We would not be where we are today without the great support! Our Twitter and Facebook accounts were upgraded recently and we experienced overwhelming positive feedback on it!

Thank you!

Good e-Reader Recognized by Freescale as the Top 4th Tech Blog in the World

How eBook lending clubs will extinguish eBook Piracy

How eBook lending clubs will extinguish eBook Piracy

Graph showing the time line of eBook Piracy

eBook lending services are starting to blossom and bear fruit, as popular e-reader companies, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble recently allowed their eBook owners to lend out most books for a 14 day window period. Many new websites such as eBookFling , Kindle Lending Club , Lendle and BookLending helps facilitate members sharing purchased ebooks with each other. The question is what effect will this have on piracy?

eBook piracy has certainly become more prevalent as e-readers and tablets are becoming more affordable and mainstream. You only need to watch television now to see the latest advertisement for the iPad 2 and the Motorola Xoom . You also have a fair amount of commercials for e-readers, such as the Kindle and Nook .

Popular Bit Torrent Site Torrentfreak recently investigated the number of downloaded E-Reader ebook files in conjunction with the subsequent release of the Apple iPad1 last year. The numbers were quite staggering. Research demonstrated that ebook piracy increased by a whopping 78% after the first few weeks of the iPad release. This was slowly been rising as the next generation iPad has been released.

If you doubt the future success of eBook lending clubs, e-readers or tablets, take a look at a recent report from IDC . They claimed that over 13 million e-readers and 18 million tablets were sold in 2011 and they expect the number to rise further this year. That is a fair number of new devices being claimed by thirsty readers.

Lets face it, eBooks are rather expensive, the tangible versions even more so. Many people are buying e-readers to save money over the long term. A new release in hardcover format in your local book store will range from $20 to $50, where as the eBook is around $10 to $13. There are obvious long term cost savings for the sort of person who buys and reads a fair amount of books buying it in electronic book form.

In the digital age, there is no denying that people are pirate eBooks from popular torrent sites, but why should eBook lending clubs not care?

Lets take a look at some of the various ways pirate eBooks end up making it to the online world, so we can evaluate the shortcomings of the industry.

Scanned Books

If you have ever searched for an eBook on a torrent site you will notice a fair amount of them are scanned books and often have degree of terrible quality. People often will scan a book page by page until its complete. The problem with this sort of format is that each page is often not centered, you also have pages out of order.

Manually copying a Book to an eBook

The next method pirates often get a eBook online seems rather implausible at first, but trust me, this is done far more then you would think. People often sit down with the physical book in their hands and write in a Microsoft Word document the entire book. They will literary spend weeks or months reading a sentence and then copy it down into the document. Some website owners also end up paying cheap labor from 3rd world countries to do this task for them. This factor again makes the eBook riddled with errors. The most common error is the default dictionary used in many word processing programs assuming one word is another. Combine this with many common words and you have a book that took forever to copy verbatim, only to be unreadable in the end.

Bad eBook conversions

The average ebook found on many torrent sites are often littered with obtrusive line space formatting and puncuation marks. Many eBooks available online can be converted from one format to another using eBook formatting software. These software bundles allow users to convert an PDF book to a ePub format – compatible with most e-readers. When most people attempt to convert the book they have find it riddled with half-sentences and other errors. This is partly because the original PDF was a scanned copy or had footnotes, or other graphics on it which a conversion program can only display text. These graphical images are then converted to ASCII and other formats to try and make text out of images. Needless to say it throws the entire book off.

DRM-Hackers

The final method is often the least employed, using or creating heavily updated tools to manually strip the DRM (or Digital Rights Management) from a purchased eBook from a legitimate store. Often the e-reader companies will come up with different eBook encryption formats to try and dissuade hackers from breaking their encryption. Retail giant Amazon recently employed a new encryption service called Topaz which circumvents many of the previous hacks.

Normally breaking the encryption and spreading the book out virally is often the best quality book, but they are rare. Hackers not only have to create the programs to begin with, but update them as software and encryption changes. Often these programs involve programming know-how, such as Java, Phython, Ruby or Pearl. Most of the best programs are beyond most peoples ability to employ.

Are Publishers Worried about eBook piracy?

Most eBook publishers are not worried about eBook piracy, yet. In a recent interview Penguin chief executive John Makinson proclaims himself as an eBook convert! He wants to get his company firmly behind ebooks but in 2010 they only accounted for %1 of the entire companies sales.

Most eBook companies see similar figures and have mainly voiced that they are not heavily concerned about it. What they are concerned about is the recent Agency Model the big publishers are coming up with to regulate global eBook prices. They have bigger concerns at this point in the game then eBook piracy which they leave up to the digital sellers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and others.

The Agency model is also under fire right now, especially in Europe where the EU is launching a major investigating in Publisher Price Cartels where price fixing is illegal.

What companies offer the ability to lend out books?

There are lots of questions on how ebook lending services work. It is imperative that you first understand some of the underlying factors that contribute to making this possible.

Lending out eBooks is a relatively new phenomenon, Kindle lending is a feature launched by Amazon on December 30, 2010. Any Kindle book that has lending enabled can be loaned by one Kindle user to another for 14 days. At the end of the loan period the title is automatically transferred back to the book owners Kindle.

Barnes and Noble is the only other major company to offer a lending service entitled “Lend me.” It first started back in Beta in May 2010 and has quickly become a great service usable by all Barnes and Noble Apps and all of their e-readers. It works the same way as Amazon, except with Barnes and Noble ePub format.

What about Library lending?

Libraries have been around for as long as we have had written language. Throughout history they have aided mankind in record keeping, theology and literary works. As society evolved so did these houses of books in order to accommodate our growing needs. The latest leap in technology for libraries has been ebooks and the e-readers on which they are often displayed from.

Libraries are making it easier and easier to get a hold of their vast collections for you to enjoy on your e-reader .  Today we will be going over the steps needed to get you reading ebooks from your library of choice.

Using Overdrive

One of the first things you may want to do is to become familiar with Overdrive. This is the global distributor of ebooks and audiobooks to libraries that support their system. You can check the Overdrive database to see which books are available in your region for you to check out. Overdrive offers a wide selection of ebooks for different states and countries. With Overdrive Search you can locate the nearest libraries and view what they have to offer.

Gaining Access

Next you want to make sure that you have a library card. If you had a library card prior to this you can check to see if your library is listed and what they have to offer. If not then getting a library card number is as easy as filling out the application form for one at their website. Not all libraries offer these services so be sure to see what all is available to you in your area.

Depending on your location there may be a limited number of supported libraries present or maybe none at all. However this is no reason to fret. There are out of state libraries that will gladly assist you. These places normally require a small fee to operate. This type of membership will need to be paid on a yearly basis.

Viewing your Ebook

If you plan on reading your borrowed ebooks on an e-reader you can skip this step. For those of you that wish to read on your desktop computer or laptop you will need Adobe Digital Editions in order to view the DRM material of choice. This software is available on PC and MAC. You will also have the option of getting ebooks in ePUB or PDF format.

Once you install Adobe Digital Editions you will need to authorize your computer through the software. This can be done from the main menu.

If you plan on getting Mobipocket ebooks which use the PRC file format you will need to install the Mobipocket Reader application.

You are now all set to start enjoying what your local library has to offer. Once you download an ebook you can transfer it your e-reader in the appropriate folder or to an easily accessible location on your local computer to be viewed using your e-reader application.

You can also check your local library’s website for more information on their policies and procedures in regards to ebooks and any other assistance they may provide. Some libraries also have in-house workshops where they give free instruction on the process of signing up and downloading ebooks.

What companies offer eBook lending liaison service?

Many new eBook lending sites are rising up to take advantage over the lending services offered by Amazon and Barnes and Noble. This technology allows users who purchase books to share the books for up to 14 days to someone with the same e-reader, as long as they know their email address.

The situation most people find themselves in, is that they are the lone wolf in their circle of friends that actually have an e-reader and actively want to lend and be lent books to save even more money.

Enter the eBook lending services. U.S. distributor BookSwim recently launched eBook Fling. This is a bit of a different site that allows both the sharing of Kindle and Barnes and Noble Books. The lending feature offered an irresistible low-cost entrance into a booming market, according to company president George Burke. “We don’t have to touch the inventory even,” he said in an interview. “All we have to do is find a lender and a borrower, match them up and ensure that the book gets transferred.” Regarding eBook piracy in general he added, “This type of service doesn’t facilitate the transfer of a file,” Burke said. “And because we don’t touch a file we have no worries about piracy. It’s just not possible.”

ebookfling makes its money from the virtual credit system where users who do not lend books but want to be lent books can pay a few dollars to request books from other users.

Other websites such as Lendleme also work on the lending and borrowing system using the Amazon Kindle only technology. Lendle can’t work if people aren’t willing to lend books. When you join the site and tell them what books you own, you are given two borrow requests. As you lend books, you’ll get more borrow requests. As long as you’re lending, you’ll always be able to borrow. This helps the service have more books available and make sure users are always able to read something. As of press time this website currently had around 5,000 books available to consume. When you borrow books from this site, not only can you read them on your Kindle, but also on Kindle for PC, or any Kindle app on the iPad, iPhone, Android or iPod touch.

There are many other companies that also follow simalar suit to Lendleme, such as Booklending. They also lend books just in the Kindle format and both companies make money off of advertising.

How will eBook lending affect Piracy?

Right now we are on the cusp of a new niche market opening up and hopefully stimulating more companies to add this functionality to their e-readers, such as Kobo. Kobo has 2 different e-readers available and a bookstore with over 1.3 million books. If they were to implement a lending service they would help foster a new service stimulate reading and allow their users to enjoy the same service offered by Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

I expect to see eBook piracy failing quite significently in 2012 when the lending services gets more exposure and matures.

Part of the reason is that torrent websites and pirate sites offer very low quality books and it takes more time to find a good quality version of a book then it would take to register on a lending site. Since lending sites have all of the latest releases you will never have to really wait too long to get a copy of the book.

The main reason that lending sites will become the way people trade books comes to a question of quality of the ebook. Torrent sites cannot compete in terms of quality to the real thing.

Image courtesy of Attributor

How eBook lending clubs will extinguish eBook Piracy

Wexler Flex One Hands on Review

Wexler Flex One Hands on Review

The Wexler Flex One from Russia is the first e-reader in the world to use LG’s new flexible e-paper technology. We are very proud to bring you all a worldwide exclusive review. It just hit the market a few days ago and we have been using this e-reader nonstop since we got it. Can it break the stranglehold that e-Ink holds in the current market place and is it more than just a flexible gimmick?

Hardware

The Wexler Flex One is a six inch e-reader and uses LG’s Electronic Paper Display (EPD) technology.  The resolution on this device is currently the best in the world on a monochrome e-reader with 1024 x 768 pixels. There are 8 GB of internal storage, which beats the Kindle and Nook in the sheer amount of memory you have to store your books, comics, and PDF files.

The Flex one is designed for long battery life, but does not match up against the months of standby mode that e-Ink based readers enjoy. You can get about 4 weeks of constant use with its 900 mAh Li-ion battery. The one drawback we noticed is that it does not charge via the Micro USB port, but instead has to rely on the charging adapter. Since this reader comes from a Russian company it only ships with a European charger, so you would have to buy a North American one if you want to use it here.

The big selling point is that the screen bends! You can pull and tug it and it does not break! Obviously, you can’t roll it up and carry it around, but it does have a enough degrees of torque that you can have some fun twisting it around. The one huge benefit of this is being able to put it in your jeans back pocket and it conforms to you while you are walking or even sitting down. Since most other e-readers on the market are rigid and don’t bend at all, this Flex One device is a novelty in itself because of this feature. The main drawback on the actual design of this e-reader is the hump on its back. The screen itself is bendable but the area where the D-Pad and other function keys sit is not. This creates a weird lump on the back that makes it harder to hold in your hands for longer periods of time. It felt like there were replaceable batteries underneath it and has the same design consistency as the Jetbook Mini.

Although it feels like this has some glaring design flaws it actually is light as a feather! It currently weighs in at at 110-g (3.9-oz), the 4-mm (0.16-in). Against most of its competition, this is the lightest e-reader in the entire world and is a sheer joy to carry around.

On the front of the display is a home button and 4 directional D-Pads. These keys have different functions depending on if you are reading a book or navigating around the various menus. The D-Pad is intuitive when you are looking at the main UI but suffers a bit while reading. The center button gives you options within a PDF or EPUB book, while the left and ride buttons only scroll you down, line by line.

Hardware wise, it is a basic device. It does not have audio capability or any extended features. It is a bare bones e-reader in terms of the things it can do. There is no wireless internet access, which means you have to load the books on manually, which may put off the average user.

Finally, Wexler does not divulge how much RAM it has or what processor is powering the Flex One. I spent a ton of time reviewing different e-readers and it feels like a 300-500 MHZ processor and around 128k of RAM.

Software

Wexler Flex One Hands on Review

The Wexler Flex One runs on a Linux operating system and has a very basic menu UI. It lists you the last few books you have added to the system and gives you the different formats that it is in. The most handy feature is the file manager, which lists everything that is on your e-reader.

The settings menu gives you a number of options to set your languages and region. There seems be around 12 different options to tailor the main menus and sub-menus, but suffers from localization woes. It was designed in Russia and many of the English options seem to have broken grammar or misspellings. Setting your language is probably the most useful feature in the entire settings menu. There is nothing there, once you setup your date and time, that would ever be relevant in your day to day operations.

The one distracting point of the software is the way the D-Pad keys will do different things, while reading or navigating the menus. There is no consistency and it breaks many conventions that have been established in the past with D-Pad controllers on an e-reader.

e-Reading Experience

Wexler Flex One Hands on Review

The primary use of the Wexler Flex One is a dedicated e-reader. It reads a wide array of formats such as PDF/DOC/CHM/HTM/HTML/EPUB/FB2/DJVU. It will not show pictures at all.

There are a few features that make reading more enjoyable, such as the ability to switch it from landscape to portrait mode. It does not have a built in accelerometer or gyroscope, but is instead software driven. To switch the orientation, you can be on any screen and then just tap the power button. It will bring up the options to switch perspectives and also search text within an EPUB book, which is fairly useful. The real joy of searching text is how responsive the keyboard actually is! Typing on a D-PAD is not the easiest thing to do in the world, but at least it’s quick.

EPUB would be your primary format to read books because it offers the highest number of options to tailor your reading experience. If you have ever used a Kindle or Nook, there are many similarities in being able to augment the way text is displayed. There are seven different options to change the size of the font and each selection changes it in real time. There are also six different fonts to choose from, such as Arial, Sim Hei, Times New Roman, Verdana, Ariblk, and Cout. People who have a hard time reading because of eye sight issues could appreciate the line spacing, margins, and text justification options.

Reading on this Flex One Reader is a walk in the park, once you setup your ideal reading settings. A book takes a few seconds to load for the first time and may suffer from some performance issues while it’s loading and you try and turn pages. Page turn speed is fairly quick and is very comparable to most other popular e-ink based devices like the Kindle 4, or Nook Simple Touch. One of the things I like about the Flex is the ability to change how often the pages refresh when you are turning it. If you have ever used an e-ink screen before, whenever you turn a page there is a full page refresh. This really is distracting from the reading experience, because every time you turn a page it flashes. The Flex One, has options to change the amount of pages are turned before it refreshes, but from our experience, you want to make it every five pages.

The main way you are going to load in your EPUB books is via the Micro USB to USB adapter that comes with the Flex One. This e-reader is recommended for advanced users because it requires you to search the internet for books and then load them on your e-reader.  There is no way to buy ebooks and then load them on the device smoothly, because right now it is incompatible with Adobe Digital Editions and there is no Calibre support for it yet.

PDF file viewing is becoming increasingly popular on e-readers and many people search for options to change the flow of the text on the screen. This device really doesn’t have many options to tweak a PDF file to get the most ideal resolution. There are no real options to change the layout of the PDF and only a simple zoom feature. I found comic books looked horrible in portrait mode because, try as I may, I could not get it to look right. Once the orientation was changed to portrait mode, there were few sweet spots you can hit.

The one thing this e-reader suffers from is the control you can get from viewing PDF Files. Instruction manuals and other things look fine, but comic books, graphic novels, and manga are fairly terrible. The resolution of the comics are just fine and the 1024×768 pixels display the art well. The main drawback is the non-existent ability to change the way the PDF file looks and flows. The Sony PRS-T1 is currently our favorite e-reader for the wide array of options to augment PDF’s.

Our Thoughts

The Wexler Flex One e-Reader’s highest selling point is that the entire screen will bend. I really think in the long term it will be more durable than most other e-readers on the market and it is the lightest one in the world. I really enjoyed walking around with it in my back pocket and playing with it as I read a book.

The main feature is the high resolution and long battery life. Many users will enjoy a very responsive e-reader with fast page turn speeds and tons of ways to change the EPUB experience. Text really does just pop and if you ever messed around with the iRiver Story HD, you know how great PDF/CHM comics look on it.

I would only recommend this to an advanced user because it requires some technical skill to find free and open source books on the internet to download content and then manually transfer them to your e-reader. I don’t like the fact it does not work with Adobe Digital Editions, because you are going to be quite limited in the books you can find. Unless you decide to walk down the murky depths of pirating books, there is no way to buy them and transfer them to  your reader. Luckily Project Gutenberg and Smashwords offer a ton of free books you can read.

Pros

Bends – Seriously a game changer
High Resolution
Very Durable
Tons of Options to Augment Your e-Reading Experience
Very Light
Fast Page Turn Speeds

Cons
Has a Large Hump on the Back Which Makes It Hard to Hold
PDF Viewing Has Little to No Options to Change the Layout
No Touchscreen
D-Pad Has Lackluster Controls and Responsiveness
D-Pad Controls Feel a Bit Flimsy
Incompatible with Adobe Digital Editions

Rating: 7.5/10

Wexler Flex One Hands on Review

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Wexler Flex One Hands on Review