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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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September 2016
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iRiver Story HD Provides Not-Too-Unique Kindle Competition Powered By Google

Every few weeks seem to hear something about a new eReader or Tablet PC that is destined to be a “Kindle Killer”.  So far, no luck on that.  When it comes to the iRiver Story HD, I don’t think anybody is likely to think of making that claim in the first place.  That doesn’t in any way mean that it is a device without its virtues, worth taking a look at as a sign of future potential if perhaps little else.

Aesthetically, the Story HD looks like a cheap Kindle knockoff.  In practice, it still rather feels that way.  The Story HD has a cream front with a rather bland brown backing on it, but other than that, as pictured, the similarities are hard to ignore.  Sadly, this does not translate to a superior reading experience.

The feel of the device is a bit cheap, even without taking the dated color scheme into account.  The layout of the buttons is a bit strange, with there being no page turn buttons alongside the display like we are used to seeing in an eReader.  Even the directional control lacks a central button to select what you are pointing at.  Instead, you are expected to switch to the ‘Enter’ button.  On top of this, the QWERTY keyboard as a whole simply feels cheap and unusable.  Not huge inconveniences taken by themselves, but the accumulation gets a little bit much.

The major saving grace, although not an unqualified success in itself, is the display. It is a significantly higher resolution than the competition(768×1024), and is the first such E INK eReader display to make its way to the US.  Text is more detailed and you can fit more on the screen at once, should you be so inclined.  It just genuinely looks good, for the most part.  Unfortunately, that is not quite enough to make the reading experience a good once.  You are given no font choice, no margin or line spacing choice, and the contrast seems poor.  The font choice isn’t too big a deal, to me at least, but the default margin that you’re stuck with is basically non-existent and smaller fonts don’t stand out enough compared to the competition.  Maybe this is attributable to the light color of the frame, which others like the Kindle have been moving away from, but I didn’t have a white Kindle on hand to compare with.

An important thing to remember when looking at the Story HD is that this is not, properly speaking, a Google product and should not be viewed as such.  You can get an idea what an implementation of the Google Bookstore is like on an eReader from using it, but this is just the first Google compatible eReader.  If you get a chance to check it out, it is important to try to separate the problems with the hardware from the potential in the open platform.  While I can’t say that I would recommend picking up the iRiver Story HD over something like a Nook or Kindle, the fact that Google has found its way to physical eReading devices rather than simply offering apps has the potential to finally make it a major contender.

Some Free E-books from Forgottenbooks.org

Forgotten Books was recommended to me by a reader, Glynn, who, I’m guessing, is affiliated with this company.   Forgotten Books is an independent publishing company focused on reviving old print.

To tell the truth, I do not really like what Forgotten Books is doing with their free e-books feature.  And the reason being – their free e-books are in low quality .PDF format.  To attain a copy of a high-quality .PDF, a person has to pay a membership fee.  I have hard time understanding, why Forgotten Books are trying to charge for better quality .PDFs for the books that are free from copyright and generally available online for no cost.

Fol Tales From the RussianAlthough, they do have this e-book of the day for free feature – if you sign up for their subscription, you can download their book of the day in good quality .PDF for your Kindle for free.  Today’s book of the day is actually the reason, why I changed my mind and decided to write about this source.  Today’s book of the day is Folk Tales From the Russian by Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano de Blumenthal (first published in 1903).  The Tsarevna Frog, Father Frost, Baba Yaga and other awesome fellows!  This book is also available on Google Books (in .EPub and .PDF) and on Surlalunefairytales (online only) for free.  Also, it is available on Amazon for $1.75. Russian Folklore tales are wickedly good.   I sincerely encourage you looking into them.

So, I signed up for the subscription and downloaded Folk Tales From the Russian from Forgotten Books.  I have to say that putting a line through the e-book is very uncool of you, Forgotten Books.  Google Books’ version of this book is way better quality.

Perhaps, Forgotten Books’ other books of the day will be as cool as today’s.  And I hope they will improve their not-so-reasonable-for-now free e-book offers.

Kindle to have new competitor soon – Google Editions!

Current reports have indicated that the much awaited Google entry into the eBook marketplace is soon to be released.  We had expected to see this early in the summer, based on initial time-lines, but some technical difficulties and a few not so technical difficulties got in the way.  More recent reports lead expectant readers to believe that we will now see a store unveiling within the next month!  Google Editions, as it is currently known, will be an extension growing from the established Google Books service.

The central idea behind the service, as best as I can tell, is that users will be able to access their purchased books through any device with a web browser after they log into their Google account.  This would eliminate the need for dedicated eReading devices, in theory, while still allowing access to your purchased books on devices like the Kindle that have web browsing capabilities.  The one obvious functional roadblock comes from the inability to access your eBooks without an internet connection.  Supposedly there will be the option to download your purchases, but so far no information about format or offline compatibility seems to be available.  This could slightly hinder adoption by owners of Nook and Kindle devices, since leaving y0ur internet connection constantly turned on can cause significantly faster battery drain.

It is unclear at this point what the potential is for success here.  Google has a reputation for doing things right, but they face an established market of competitors at this point and a lack of goodwill from existing copyright holders(as evidenced by the need for a 2008 settlement on lawsuits related to the Google Books service).  It won’t help matters that Google will not allow publishers to set their list prices for eBooks at a price higher than the lowest priced print version of the same book, nor that the default pricing will be set at 80%.  Will the popularity of the service be enough to overcome this?  We can only wait and see.  Personally, I’m hoping so.  My only major complaint about the Kindle has been the closed format restrictions that it forces on me, so ways around that would be more than welcome.