The best e-book site I’ve found

The best ebooks site I’ve found, by far, is the archive at the University of Adelaide in Australia. The selection is outstanding, but the presentation is even better.

Steve Thomas, the curator, takes tremendous care to ensure Adelaide’s e-books display their best on any device. Most e-books, even commercial books, pay little to no attention to formatting, and the result all too often is books that are difficult to read.

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The trade off of fidelity and convenience in marketing, and how it doomed my favorite company

I’m reading a book called Trade-Off, by former USA Today technology columnist Kevin Maney. It’s primarily a marketing book.

Maney argues that all products are a balance of fidelity and convenience, and highly favor one or the other. He additionally argues that failed products fail because they attempted to achieve both, or failed to focus on either one.

An example of a convenient product is an economy car. They’re inexpensive to buy and inexpensive to keep fueled up, but don’t have much glitz and you probably won’t fall in love with it. A high-end sports car or luxury car is a lot less practical, but you’re a lot more likely to fall in love with it, and gain prestige by driving around town in it. Read more

Unintentional showrooming

My mom asked me a few weeks ago to recommend a tablet or e-reader. She’s really only interested in reading, so that pretty much answered half the question. You can read on a tablet, of course, but when you sit down to read on one, it’s almost a guarantee you’ll end up doing more than just read a book. You’ll see that e-mail notification and you’ll check it, and next thing you know, you’re on to something else.

So… Kobo, Nook, or Kindle? For me, it was an easy decision. The Nook was the best hardware at the time, so I went with a Nook. Ve hev vays to get the books we want onto the hardware we want, but Mom doesn’t want that hassle. She just wants to be able to buy the books she wants and read them right away. Amazon’s done a hardware refresh, so their hardware is as good as any other at this point, if not a little better, and they have the largest library of books, so it was an easy decision. The newest Kindle Paper White it is.

So, the day after it came out, she went to the nearest Best Buy to buy it… and ended up ordering it from Amazon. That practice is called “showrooming,” and retailers hate it, but sometimes they shoot themselves in the foot. This was one of them. Read more

B&N just made its Nook tablets much more compelling

This past week, Barnes and Noble put the Google Play store on its Nook HD and Nook HD+ tablets. So while they’re still running a forked Android, they’ll run most Android apps without you having to do anything special. That, plus the high-resolution screen, the low price, plus the ability to plug microSD cards into it, plus the ready availability at major retailers makes for a much more compelling tablet.

Sales have been abysmal lately, but I expect this to change that pretty quickly. Now the Nook tablets have three things the Kindle Fires lack: a better screen, greater openness, and expandability. Now they look like a very good general purpose tablet, to my eye.

Loading your own stuff onto your e-reader

I have a fair number of documents I created myself–that probably shouldn’t surprise anyone–but I don’t think I’m the only one who does. And from time to time, I’d like to reference them, and I may not have my computer with me.

Carrying around a cheap Nook or Kindle isn’t much of a problem, though. If only I could get my Word documents to display on it… It turns out that’s not hard to do. Here’s how to load your own content onto a Nook, Kindle, or any other similar device. Read more

Barnes & Noble’s fate is just more evidence that being better isn’t enough on its own

There’s news today that B&N’s founder is looking to buy the store’s retail and web business, but not the Nook business, and the Nook business could be spun off or even discontinued, but whatever happens, it’s likely to be de-emphasized.

My family owns two Nook Simple Touch e-readers, and we like them, but they have one very big problem.

I got a $25 Nook gift card for my birthday. I’ve seen a couple of books I wanted in the past 3 months, but nothing available as a Nook book. As I recall, all of those books have been available for Kindle.

The Nook is the better device, and I’m not sure it’s even close. But better hardware and better technology isn’t enough. You have to have something to buy. Especially when the consumption device is break-even or near-break-even. I remember, some 20 years ago, having a conversation with a friend. My Amiga was a much better computer than his unremarkable Dell PC, but he retorted, “None of that matters if you, you know, like having software!”

A year later, Commodore was out of business. Twenty years later, Dell is struggling, but by Commodore standards, Dell’s bad years would have been pretty good.

I’m impressed with the Nook tablet range too, but there again, being locked in to what Barnes & Noble has to sell makes me hesitant to buy one. Will everything I want to run on a tablet be available for it? If I’ve learned one thing over the last 20 years, it’s that when in doubt, you’ll be better off going with an open system over a closed one.

So, with no books to buy, one of our Nooks spends the bulk of its time displaying library books; I loaded the other one up with public domain e-books and other stuff I converted into epub format to keep handy. We’re happy, but neither of these uses makes B&N any money.

The good (or at least decent) $89 tablet

Right around a year ago, I wrote about the difficulties of making a good $100 tablet. But then, today, I read on Slashdot about someone finding a nice $45 Android tablet in a Chinese bazaar, then finding a similar unit at Fry’s back home in the States, priced at $89.

That raised a couple of questions. First of all, what’s the tablet?

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An interesting day for tablets and e-readers

Amazon replaced the Kindle Fire today; the basic model gets a price cut to $159 and a faster CPU, and deluxe models get nicer (and in one case, a bigger 8.9-inch) screen. And, predictably, Amazon released new e-reader Kindles with a bit of a price cut and, again, nicer screens.

That wasn’t all.

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If you need a deal on a Nook Simple Touch, they’re on sale

Sears has the Nook Simple Touch on sale for $70. That’s about a 30% discount. (Thanks Dealnews!)

I guess I’ve had mine for about six weeks, and I like it. It’s the #2 e-reader, and I’ve run into problems in the past buying the #2 just on the basis of technical superiority (Amiga, anyone?), but if being able to load books on an SD card and the availability of free public domain e-books isn’t enough, you can root the device, load the Kindle Android app, and turn it into a Kindle.

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Here’s why I won’t be buying a first-generation Nook Tablet

Barnes & Noble just cut its tablet prices to make them more competitive. Now, $199 gets you the 16 GB version, and $179 gets you the 8 GB version. Twice the memory of a Kindle or Nexus, plus the ability to expand with cheap $25 SHDC cards? Why am I sitting at home writing this instead of standing in line?

Simple. Read more

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