Kindle Tips

Amazon Matchmaker

We found these audio companions for your Kindle booksYesterday evening Amazon announced their Amazon Matchmaker program. (h/t Goodereader and Gospel ebooks).

Amazon Matchmaker is a single location for Kindle books in your library that have Audible books that are matched through the whispersync program (where you can move back and forth seamlessly from audiobook to kindle book.)

I really like the concept of the whispersync.  I love audiobooks and as long as the price is not much more, I am willing to purchase both for the ease of being able to move between the kindle book and audiobook. (Plus I prefer to re-read a book in a different format.  So if I read first on kindle, I like to re-read on audio or vice versa.)

This is the first time Amazon has had all of the whispersync enabled books from your library in a single place.  I have tried to get this info several times previously.  When I asked Audible customer support they can told me what books that I already own on audiobook that have a kindle option.  But they can’t tell me what kindle books that I own have an Audiobook option.  And from Amazon’s side, they have told me that all I can do is go through my kindle books one by one from the Manage My Kindle page and look to see which one has the whispersync option.

So the fact that this is a one stop look is great news.  But the implementation is awful. At least it is awful for those of us Kindle users that have large libraries.  I have a large kindle book library (around 3500 kindle books and nearly 700 audiobook.)

New Paperwhite Review (2013)

I have spent the weekend with the new Kindle Paperwhite and I am ready for the final review.

Visually, it is almost indistinguishable from the first Paperwhite.  It has the exact same dimensions (so keep your cases). The only external differences is a very slight difference in the font that says Kindle on the front and on the back it says ‘Amazon’ instead of ‘Kindle’.  That is it, buttons are the same, case is the same.  Weight is supposed to be slightly less, but honestly I can’t tell a difference.

Screen

the Light on a Paperwhite Screen KindThe light is the biggest feature of the Kindle Paperwhite and it is slightly better on the new version.  Dedicated eink Kindles are different from tablets (like the iPad or fire).  Tablets have color LCD screen that make light by shining it out at your face.  The Paperwhite has invisible threads of light running through the screen and shining it down at the text.  This means that there is much less light that comes out from the screen (although it is not zero) and that means much less wear on your eyes.  Personally, it makes a big difference.

close

The new lighted screen has a much less blue tint and is more white when the light is brighter and less gray when the light is low. There was a complaint about the first Paperwhite that you could never white turn off the light, but either you can now turn off the light or it is so low I can’t detect that it is on.  (Left is new Paperwhite, right is the original Paperwhite.)

Oyster Book – An All You Can Read Ebook Plan – A Review

Oyster is an all-you-can-read ebook subscription program.  Commonly described as Netflix-for-Books.  Officially it was opened up in September, but it is still in a private testing phase.  I signed up and have used it for the last three weeks. Pick Five Books

My overall impression is fairly positive.  When you sign up you are asked to choose five books from your computer browser.  These five books will be in your account to get started.  The main problem is that on the computer, there is not a search function.  So you have to look through book covers sorted into categories.  These are their most popular books, so you should not have too much problem finding books you are interested it.

Oyster Home Screen

Once you complete the registration process (pretty basic) and give your credit card information ($9.95 a month but with a free one month trial) you are emailed a link for the iPhone app (you can just find it in the app store as well). Once you sign into the app on your iPhone, you can search for books, load the books that you chose on your computer, and update your profile (connect to Facebook or Twitter, search for friends that are on Oyster, list your favorite books, add a picture and write a bio).

explore

Oyster has a good selection of books, they claim 100,000 books, but Smashwords has also said that their entire 250,000 book catalogue of independent authors will be added soon.  I was able to find CS Lewis, Ursula Le Guin, NT Wright, Margaret Atwood, Susan Howatch and a lot of other books that I actually want to read.

New Kindle Fire Tablets

New Kindle Fire HDX

Overnight Amazon released three new Kindle Fire Tablets.

The Kindle Fire HD now starts at $139 making it the cheapest of the tablets, just $20 more than the new Kindle Paperwhite.  It will start shipping on Oct 2.  This is a slightly different version of the Kindle Fire HD that was released at $199 last year.  The processor is faster (1.5 GHz dual core instead of a 1.2 GHz dual core).  But the screen has the same specs.  It also comes with a smaller 8 or 16 GB of memory instead of the 16 or 32 GB of Memory from last year’s model.  Presumably to save money, it also has dropped the ambient light sensor, camera and microphone (so no Skype or video conferencing).  The battery is also rated at 10 hours instead of last year’s 11 hours and takes 2 more hours to fully charge.

Amazon Updates iOS Kindle App

ios Kindle app updateYesterday Amazon released and update to the Kindle app for Apple devices to go along with the update to iOS 7.  It was more than a visual update.  The update brought the app in line with many of the features of the stand alone ereaders.

The main two feature updates are

  • X-Ray – a potentially helpful way to follow characters and see the basic outline of a book
  • Upgraded categories functionality to allow a book to be in more than one category.  This allows categories to act more like tags then folders. Personally I use a folder for current reading, but I also leave the book in a content category (fiction, theology, review books, etc.)

This is in addition to updates over the last year that have added multi-color highlighting, better dictionary lookup, ability to get book samples, social media access

h/t GoodEreader.com

An eInk Case for Your Galaxy S4

(Credit: Andrew Hoyle/CNET)

I am a fan of eInk technology.  It is low power, low eye-strain, good for lots of reading conditions.  So I am interested in the variety of ways that it is used.

PocketBook has released a new eInk case for your Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone.

The Galaxy S4 is in a case, the connector works with the eInk screen and allows you to open up the book, turn off the main LCD screen (save battery and your eyes) and then use the phone’s volume buttons to change pages.  The picture on the right shows the case open, but you can close it with the eInk screen on the outside and read just like a regular Kindle or Nook ereader.

Right now this works only with the proprietary PocketBook app, but theoretically, this can work with almost any app.  You could check your email or see who is calling with just the eInk screen and prolong your phone’s battery.  (Which is the major problem of most smart phones, especially the large screen android phones.)

GoodEreader has a video about how this works in real life.  Well worth checking out if you are interested.  None of the reports I found was included a price for the case.

Oyster: A New Netflix for eBooks – All you can read for $10 a month

Lilliputing and GoodEreader and others have articles about about the new Netflix-like all you can read ebook service from Oyster.

Right now Oyster is iOs only and invitation only.  So it is just getting started.  But for $10 a month you can read as many of the approximately 100,000 books in its library as you want.

On the images from the very limited webpage, there are some very mainstream books including The Life of Pi, Starbuck’s CEO’s book Onward, Michael Criton, JRR Tolkien, Water for Elephants and more.  But I have not seen a list of books or a list of participating publishers other than Smashwords.  According to GoodEreader, Smashwords announced that they have 250,000 books in their catalogue and that all of them can be borrowed via Oyster (which makes me wonder if there were 100,000 books in addition to Smashwords or including Smashwords.)

I certainly read more than $10 a month worth of books, but my guess is that many of the books that I read will not be offered here. But I welcome a chance to try it out.  You can request an invite here

Two Announcements from Amazon – Kindle MatchBook and New Paperwhite

There were two announcements from Amazon this morning (one accidental). The first, and intended announcement is that Amazon is going to start Kindle MatchBook in October.  Similar to Amazon Music match and DVD program, Kindle Matchbook will allow you to buy a physical book and get the Kindle version for $2.99 or less.  This will start with only 10,000 titles, but Amazon is known for rapidly expanding programs like this.

And the best part of the announcement is that this is a retroactive program.  Any participating book that you purchased since 1995 when Amazon first started its bookstore will also be included.

The full Amazon press release

Next Generation Kindle Paperwhite released.Also Amazon accidentally posted the New Kindle Paperwhite on its website this morning.  According to the screen shots (reported at Lilliputing and Engaget and others), the new Kindle Paperwhite will have a 25% faster processor, an improved screen, a better frontlight, a more responsive touch screen and soon Goodreads.com integration.

The price is listed as the same as current model (which is currently out of stock).  $119 for the Wifi only and $179 for the 3G and Wifi Paperwhite.

Shipping starts September 30th if the page was accurate.

The New Amazon Paperwhite is now available for pre-order.  $119 for the Wifi only version and $189 for the 3G and Wifi version.  Shipping starts Sept 30th for Wifi Only, Nov 5th for 3G model.

New Sony Ereader Comes Out Sept 19

Sony had always made solid, but relatively unimpressive ereaders.  Back in 2007-2008 when ereaders were just taking off, Sony was a major player.  But their lighted ereader, the PRS-700 was horrible.  And they do not seem to have recovered since then.

Goodereader has a review (appears to be reviewing the specs and not the device) along with some commentary and quotes.  They do not seem to be impressed with the new PRS-T3. And from the specs I can’t imagine many others will be either.

It is not using the newest eink screen, it does not have a lighted display and it is priced at $150.  It does come with a thin lighted case.  But that does not seem to justify the price to me.

One advantage is that Sony has an exclusive deal with Overdrive (the software that runs most online library lending systems).  Sony is the only ereader that directly runs software to borrow from your local library without the use of a computer or browser.

Check out the full post at Goodereader.com

Specs and Benchmarks for new Amazon Fire Tablets Leaked

Everyone suspects that Amazon will announce a complete refresh of the Kindle Fire Tablet line and probably a new version of eink Paperwhite sometime in the new couple weeks.  This fits with Amazon’s history of the Fire line (although the eink line tends to have 18 month refresh cycles.)

The guys over at GoodEReader.com have leaked specs and benchmarks.  If these are true then it will be a solid refresh of the line, but no big changes or surprises.  If you are into specifics of the specs and benchmarks head on over.

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