Tag Archives: Amazon

Why eBooks are backwards still in 2015

I was very early when it came to eBooks. I had one of the first e-ink devices from Sony even. And by early I am talking about the year the original Kindle even out. (Sony PRS-505 I believe is the model) This was a time period where page turns were measured in seconds and nobody was talking about backlighting e-ink or high resolution. Back then though there was something very different. You wouldn’t buy an eReader based on the store (unless you bought the Kindle) it supported. I mean when it came to stores Sony’s was really never good. The difference was that Sony could play books from pretty much every store online (not Amazon but who cared since Amazon barely had any eBooks at that pooint) now a bunch of those was through some crazy Adobe DRM scheme or you had to find some DRM free books.

Now this may not sound very different but lets look at where we sit today. Now we are down to two major eBook stores. Ok there is Kobo but they really aren’t as big. The only real players anymore are Amazon and Apple. Now why does this really suck? I mean you can read your Amazon books on pretty much any platform and Apple well those can be read on a bunch. The real issue in my mind is the book stores have moved 100% cloud based. Ask anyone how to get the ePub from Apple or the Kindle azw. I can promise you nobody knows how. Most don’t even realize there are alternative readers like the Kobo which while sounding pretty cool is just the 3rd of the evils in this whole fight.

So why does this matter? Lets start by talking about issues with the two main platforms first.


Now Amazon has always been the lockdown king. They started with mobi and have only gotten worse when it comes to DRM. To make matters worse Amazon eBooks seem to be horrible formatted and any older ones are in a pretty sad state when it comes to editing. Why is this? It really seems like Amazon wants quantity and really doesn’t care if it looks all that good. I mean look at the Kindle fonts and app. It would be awesome if they would give us one amazing font and a clean app. I mean its 2015 and I have a tablet or phone why is it I CANNOT scroll through a book? Really I still have to flip pages on a phone? This isn’t an e-ink device I have to wait a second to render the screen. And on the Kindle devices why such big margins? It’s not paper Amazon the text can goto the edge of the screen and my fingers wont go over the text (unless I’m holding it wrong).


Apple is also a lockdown king. I mean you still have to authorize your computers for iTunes. The craziest thing though about Apple’s eBooks is that you CANNOT read them on non-Apple devices! Now why would I want Apple’s eBooks in the first place. I mean it’s so locked down. First off it has scrolling which call me crazy but it changes how you read a book when you can just keep scrolling till you get to the end. Second, they are the only company which seems to realize now that we have HiDPI screens we can have some amazing fonts and that formatting matters. Apple eBooks generally have seemed better put together and they do something really crazy they seem to update more. Now this could be that I have just more recently bought Apple eBooks that are more popular then the books I got while using the kindles. Third, did I mention you can scroll in their app instead of flipping pages? Crazy I know!

So basically Amazon has some great e-ink devices which really need a UI expert (all the e-ink devices have needed this since they got HiDPI screens). At the same time I could live with Apple if it played in more places. But overall the issues comes down to one think DRM and the lack of easy exporting has made the whole ecosystem worse. Vendor lock-in is horrible. I mean I have book in Kobo (Sony books transferred there), Amazon and Apple along with some random publishers who are awesome to distribute DRM-free eBooks. If there was just a way for me to pull down an epub even if it had to be authorized would be awesome. (Part of Apple’s formatting advantage is epub)

So eBooks are backwards since they haven’t picked up on what saved the music industry with DRM-free music. If you really want to read eBooks try and find a DRM-free source of epubs. That is the best long term option to speak with your wallet. As for what to do right now if just must jump into the DRM lake? Well if you got a iPhone and iPad personally I would with iBooks but just cause it is a better experience for me. If you’re using Android or really paranoid about switching (and don’t care about scrolling) jump on Amazon. I mean the only reason I would avoid eBooks right now is just cause you have to choose one which sucks.


Kindle Fire & Nook Tablet are not fragmenting Android

So many people are talking about how with the open sourcing of ice cream sandwich we are going to see a new level of fragmentation of the Android ecosystem. The best part is these people use the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablets as examples of this. These tablets are actually not a part of the problem. They are actually examples of Google’s solution to the issue.

One of the main reasons that they are not fragmenting is they don’t claim to be Android. If you look at the ad pages for both the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Barns and Noble Nook Tablet you will not see android referenced other then on Amazons as the Amazon Android App store which no consumer that buys it is going to confuse it with Google’s app store. The fact that it is Android is something only the really geeky need to know. I am doubtful outside the tech circles anyone is going to be talking about it as android. The only really major reason that it is Android matters is that it’s using Android’s development libraries which means most apps that work on any Android tablet will work on the Kindle or Nook they just have to go through there separate stores. As for that causing issues as well I have used Amazon’s App Store in the past and would consider it on par with Google’s.

So really this is all what Google wanted. They wanted to make it so that any company could make their own personalized devices using Android quickly now we are finally seeing the results of this policy. Personally I think it’s better since it means Amazon or Barns and Noble can be on par with Apple in at least the tablet OS space and use that to deliver their much more plentiful content. In the end we are seeing more competition and less consumer confusion what more could you want?

And the E-Book wars begin!

First shots are now being fired in the real start of the e-book wars. Many would argue that the e-book wars started a with the Kindle trying to rival the Sony Book Reader. Back then epub seemed young and weak and Amazon was the 800 pound gorilla. And this has seemed to be true for the last year or so. The Kindle was synonymous with e-book reader and pretty much every other reader went epub hoping that the “openness” would win readers over from the Kindle. Now Apple with the announcement of the iPad has showed up on the scene and if Amazon was a 800 pound gorilla, well Apple is some kind of shiny new 20 ton battle tank.

Sure we have seen Amazon king for awhile now but what is going on now? Amazon the biggest book retail just lost a deal with Macmillan! This shows that Amazon has got to be to powerful. They are so powerful the book publishers are willing to walk away to someone they know they can challenge them but will give them a better posision. Apple says it will price match Amazon well if your books are not even on Amazon what is there to price match? Jobs talks about publishers pulling out of Amazon. Apple is providing a perfect marketplace for the book publishers. They are using epub (the open standard publishers agree on) and not using mobi like Amazon. Apple never said anything at their event about DRM for the e-books but we can assume that they will start with Apple’s own version of DRM. The question though is will Apple be able to force ebooks to become DRM free as it did with MP3s?

The fact that Apple is doing epub is something many may not realize the importance of. Epub in the past has always been a format that even though its an standard and open has always been controlled by Adobe. Adobes renderer has been the bane of many people who really know the epub spec and write a document to the spec only to find Adobe’s renderer does not work as it was intended. Apple now has a chance to come in and show the true power of epub.

What we are watching right now is just a minor skirmish who knows what wonderful things we will get out of this ebook war. We may finally see affordable college textbooks that don’t break students backs economically or physically. We may see DRM be gone from another media format. Really though all to truly know at this point is it will be very interesting to watch.

Will the Kindle DX change the way we look at books?

Amazon pulls out a really interesting release with the Kindle DX. While there were rumors of a larger Kindle I don’t ever remember reading about native PDF support. This is the big killer for it. On a 9.7-inch screen with native PDF support that means you no longer need a printer to view your PDF on a shit of … well e-ink paper. Sure this all sounds amazing. What we don’t see here though is the one most important feature that Amazon is still lacking! WHERE IS ePUB SUPPORT!!! I fear for the future of ebooks if Amazon is the leader and from the looks of it is actively trying to KILL off what was created to be the standard ebook format! The only result of what is currently going on is Amazon will take over with its proprietary format or PDFs will become the main eBook style which would suck as well as they do not scale well. I guess though the real question is how will Schools and newspaper companies use this. The Kindle DX could easily be used to provide very cheap newspaper subscriptions and by this I mean cheaper for both the consumer and the newspaper companies which would have a better chance to stay alive if they didn’t have to deliver which would probably lower their prices into the ranges people are more willing to pay. On this larger screen it would become much more usable for reading like a newspaper. In schools the question is can students soon start just getting an ebook version of some textbooks? This should help save money on textbooks but more importantly reduce backpack weight which has been a rising problem for students. I really think the Kindle DX could be the first on the way to really changing the way we read on a large scale but do we need another iTunes repeat? Cause that is where we are currently going.


btw: The iTunes analogy works on more then one level. First, DRM vs non-DRM which took way to long to win for music. Second, iTunes uses AAC instead of the defacto standard MP3 where ePub is the actual standard and Amazon goes on with its perversion of the mobi format.

Open Cloud Manifesto or Closed Cloud Manifesto?

This “Open Cloud Manifesto” is another play by IBM to make standards. This time though IBM has the backing of the “open source” community or do they? Between last Thursday and Friday Google dropped from the list of those supporting the Open Cloud Manifesto. What does this mean? Well it means that this has become the Linux/Unix companies trying to band together… well sort of . It has Novell, IBM, Sun, and Red Hat to name the more well known companies. But what does it really mean when its missing Salesforce, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Oracle? I think it means we are just seeing IBM attempt to control the web in ways that it cannot. If this was meant to be an actually open manifesto would not be an announcement of the FINAL form of it but would mark the start of the drafting process in which any company could work on making a really open document. So congrats IBM you have another one of your “open” partnerships with a bunch of companies but since your the biggest behind it what makes this any different then if Google or Microsoft had a bunch of their partners sign onto an agreement? Yeah, I know that these companies are not IBM’s partners but many of these companies share a very common ideology in openness that unfortunately seems to have gotten clouded by the prospects of an open cloud so much that they accidentally made a Closed Cloud Manifesto.


More on the “Open” Cloud Manifesto

So more news has come out about this document that has been circulating behind closed doors for awhile now. First off Amazon is not going to jump on signing this document either. This is big news as Amazon is one of the current large Cloud Computing companies out there. Microsoft is big but they have yet to get out their Cloud Computing platform so they didn’t have as much clout in this yet. Anyways Amazon is giving the same argument as Microsoft with the “we had no input in this so we don’t like it attitude” and why shouldn’t they? Why would you sign a supposedly “Open” document if someone shows up and says “here sign this” to you? I would just point out the door to them if they tried that with  me. So are Amazon and Microsoft the bad guys? I don’t think so. The document that has created this whole thing is now online as version 1.0.9. I want to point this out though. We have no proof that the document looked in any way like this when Microsoft and Amazon originally saw it 1.0.9 hints at at least 9 revisions who knows what it looked like when they saw it. Still I can see many reasons why Microsoft and Amazon don’t like this document. The biggest problem is its horribly vague on EVERY issue it brings up. It is in no way going to help Cloud Computing. Its basically a document telling us what Cloud Computing is and oh yeah its should be open…. Wait I thought the web was already open? I think the major problem that Microsoft and Amazon would have beefs with is the sections of Data & Application Interoperability and Portability. The problem is not that Microsoft and Amazon don’t want to communicate with each other (besides existing standards exist for that). Instead this document sounds to be suggesting the idea of there being a simple cloud hosting platform? Now what would that mean? Would that be like every should base their stuff off one language? Should we be all running Apache servers? What the hell is this section saying! Is it asking companies that have already completely designed their Cloud Computing platform to start from scratch again and make a “Open Standard” for the platform? I can understand why Microsoft doesn’t like this document now and Amazon. If I am wrong someone please tell me where cause I know I wouldn’t want to sign this if I were Amazon or Microsoft. This sounds like IBM is afraid of being caught with its pants down when it comes to Cloud Computing and so they want to slow down its development.


Sony expands ebook library by deal with Google

In an interesting move Sony has made another large push into the ebook market. This most likely caused by the challenge of Amazon’s Kindle which has most likely surpassed the Sony eReaders in sales in its first year. By adding Google’s public domain books to its ebook store Sony’s store has surpassed Amazon’s with Sony’s store reaching over 600,000 books (thanks entirely too Google’s 500,000 books). Sony has been lagging behind Amazon since the Kindle came out when it comes to the number of books in its book store. This is most likely because Amazon has been very good at getting much better deals with publishers and I would not be surprised if Amazon has been trying to prevent the books they carry from being sold in other stores. Of course these books from Google could all be read on a Kindle the thing is that Amazon has no direct way yet to download the books. Plus some of these books Amazon is selling a more expensive version of the same book on their site and so I wonder if these will ever be brought to the Kindle Store for free? I doubt they will at this time but who knows. The more interesting thing here is Sony is doing a good job on working on improving their customers experience in finding more books. I personally think the Sony Readers are superior to the Kindle the only problem now is that Sony needs to really work on fixing up its eBook Library program which feels like it has come from the 90s. This move though still makes me really happy as it proves Sony is not abandoning its eBook Reader market.


Brick and mortar book stores jumping on the ebook bandwagon.

Amazon was the first major bookseller to jump on the ebook bandwagon but now we are seeing Barnes & Noble join Amazon with the acquisition of Fictionwise. This can only mean good things as currently vendor lock in is being attempted by Amazon. Barnes & Noble does not directly make a ebook reader though I have heard that they sell Sony Readers. This hopefully means that the idea of walking into a bookstore and buying ebooks will be closer and hopefully means we will have at least another option of major retailer pushing ebooks. Also Fictionwise has been one of the biggest online ebook retailers for awhile now and tries to do multiple formats for books as much as possible unlike Mobipocket which Amazon bough which only releases books in the mobi format. Hopefully Barnes & Noble will use its position to push for more epub support if it has DRM support or not I really don’t care I just am hoping to see a good standard format win the format war.


Amazon releases Kindle app for iPhone

Amazon has released a Kindle application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. This will allow people access to the Amazon library from their iPhone and iPod Touch expanding the kindle library to a much larger amount of users. At the same time this si kind of problematic if you do not support drm with ebooks. The problem is also with the fact that this will further expanding Amazons messed up format that is based off the mobi format. Personally I am hoping that Amazon starts releasing  books in epub format soon I really do not care if there is drm or not but come on Amazon support what is considered the standard for ebooks. So in the end a good move for iPhone and iPod Touch users but rather disappointing when it comes drm and format support.


Kindle 2 has Shipped and is in stock?

So unlike the original Kindle Amazon has officially released now and has stock leftover. What does this mean? Is the Kindle 2 not selling as well as they expected or is it fine? I am betting its not doing nearly as well as they expect. How can anyone in this economy spend $359 on a reading device WITHOUT a case? I’m sorry Amazon but rasing the price of a product in a bad economy by $30 by removing the protective cover is not the way to go. Why would anyone buy a product if it cost $359 if it meant that it could easily break if anything was to go wrong? I guess I just don’t get it since most other companies are not rasing prices right now.