Amazon’s War of the Words

Inventing the future of reading:

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The next day I flew to Silicon Valley and visited Amazon Lab126, the Amazon subsidiary that develops all of the company’s Kindle products. A tremendous amount of thought and research has gone into these devices. At Lab126 there is a “reading room,” where test subjects are asked to read on various devices for hours at a time. They are filmed and studied. People reading in a chair will, naturally, hold their Kindle differently from people standing up (on the subway, for example), but even people sitting in a chair will shift their positions over time. Eighty percent of page turns are forward, by the way, but 20 percent (20!) are backward. On the conference table before us were the dozens of iterations of possible page-turning buttons for the new Kindle Voyage, buttons that would have been on the back of the Kindle, a switch button, and also arrows alongside the screen—a > for forward and a < for back—the most visually pleasing design and by far the most intuitive, but then in testing it turned out that people liked to turn the Kindle and read horizontally, which meant that the arrows were pointing, confusingly, up and down. (The designers settled on two sleek lines for forward and two cool dots for back.)

Details of Amazon’s Kindle Tablet

Just before the Labor Day weekend, TechCrunch’s MG Siegler went hands-on with a prototype of the upcoming Amazon Kindle tablet. Siegler writes that the color tablet will feature a deeply branded reboot of the Android OS. Amazon is eyeing a November release, according to the report.

Again, the device is a 7-inch tablet with a capacitive touch screen. It is multi-touch, but from what I saw, I believe the reports that it relies on a two-finger multi-touch (instead of 10-finger, like the iPad uses) are accurate. This will be the first Kindle with a full-color screen. And yes, it is back-lit. There is no e-ink to be found anywhere on this device.

I’m a huge fan of the Kindle for two reasons. The first being that it’s neatly tied to Amazon, allowing me to purchase content and send it directly to the device, or access it through my iPhone or through the new Web-based reader. Second, e-Ink is incredibly readable; It’s far more easy to read for extended lengths than my iPad’s screen. It will be a shame if the Kindle Tablet doesn’t retain that level of readability. Expect leaked images of the prototypes screen at any time.

Tim O’Reilly on digital rights management and e-books

Via Forbes:

People who don’t pay you generally wouldn’t have paid you anyway. We’re delighted when people who can’t afford our books don’t pay us for them, if they go out and do something useful with that information … There’s a bakery in Berkeley that every day dumps a lot of fresh bread into a dumpster behind the store. And there’s a bunch of people who get their bread there. I guarantee you that there are a lot more people who, even if you told them they could, would not do that. A lot of sources of free content are like going rooting through the dumpster.

How to publish your eBook on Amazon

Lifehacker offers a short guide on how to turn your musings into a finished product in the Amazon Kindle Store:

  • Write your book in Microsoft Word and save it as a .doc file. Skip the .rtf and .docx formats. They don’t play nicely with the Kindle.
  • Pay attention to how you format your text. Bolding, italicizing, and indenting are no problem, but steer clear of bullets, headers, footers, and fancy fonts.
  • Any images you use need to be in .jpeg format with center alignment. Remember that the Kindle can only show images in grayscale.

Lend Kindle books to friends and family

Today Amazon quietly rolled out a feature that lets Kindle owners share Kindle ebooks:

  • Eligible Kindle books can be loaned once for a period of 14 days.
  • The borrower does not need to own a Kindle — Kindle books can also be read using our free Kindle reading applications for PC, Mac, iOS, etc.
  • Not all books are lendable.

The biggest catch is that once you lend a book, you can’t read it for the 14-day period, as with a printed copy.