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Kobo Content Sales Up 60% in 4th Quarter 2017 – Mostly Due to Tolino


It turns out Kobo has a lot in common with the major trade publishers; in both cases,  much if not all of their growth comes from acquisitions rather than growing sales. According to Rakuten's annual report to investors, which was released in February,  Kobo's net content sales were up 60.4% in the firth quarter over the same period in the previous year. The report also showed that Overdrive's total checkouts were up 17.5% in that same quarter. Rakuten did not reveal any additional detail in the report or in the presentation for investors. In fact, Kobo wasn't mentioned in the presentation at all. Did you look at that first chart? Kobo got a huge boost when they took over operations of Tolino early last year, but ever since then their revenues have declined. That comes as a surprise given that I have not heard any complaints from users which would indicate they were turning away from Kobo. And yet, that is probably what is happening given that Overdrive did not see a similar dip in checkouts, and Author Earning reports showed that the ebook market continues to grow. Have you stopped buying your ebooks through Kobo/Tolino?

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Prime Reading Launches in China


Amazon China announced on Tuesday that it will launch Prime Reading in China.Amazon Prime members in China can now enjoy unlimited access to more than 500 Kindle titles, including several best-sellers and issues of popular magazines. Gu Fan, head of Amazon Prime China, said that a recent study showed the digital reading adoption rate had increased in China for eight straight years, reaching 68.2% in 2016. "Reading has been one of the most frequently-requested new benefits from members since Day One of Prime in China. We will continue innovating for Prime members in China by adding more benefits, making Prime the best deal." Amazon revealed yesterday that it has over 100 million Prime members in the US.  It has not revealed numbers for China, noting only that subscribers to its Prime service in China increased more than threefold, year-on-year, in 2017, "Prime Reading enables us to connect with Amazon Prime customers, and we look forward to bringing additional titles to Prime members in the future," said Wang Ziqi, senior vice-president at DuKe Publishing, which will join Prime Reading with 38 of its most popular titles.   BookFrere

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Hands On with the One-Handed Onyx Boox Ligo (video)


Chinese ereader maker Onyx was less than forthcoming when they announced their new models last week; they left out the most interesting model. Onyx is working on a Kindle Oasis clone called the Ligo. While it has very similar specs to Onyx's other new ereader, the Poke, the Ligo takes after the Oasis by having page turn buttons only on one side of the screen. The Poke and the Ligo run Android 6.0 on a quad-core 1.2GHza CPU with 512MB or 1GB RAM and 8GB internal storage. They have a 6" E-ink screen with frontlight and screen resolution of 1448 x 1072. Both ereaders have a 2.5 Ah battery and Wifi, and they have been cursed with a USB type-C port. They ship with Google Play Store pre-installed, which will then allow you to install thousands of Android applications including the most popular for reading: Aldiko for the Epub, but also Kindle, Kobo, and Tolino. You can see the Poke and the Ligo in the video below (the Ligo is shown at 2:10).   Notebook Italia

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Kindle for PC 1.23.1 Adds New Font Options, Multi-Column Option


Amazon has released a new update for its Kindle app for Windows and macOS. Kindle for PC version 1.23.1 adds a number of new features, include a half-dozen new font options and a new multi-column option that is being mislabeled as a "two-column mode". Install the update and you can choose from six additional fonts Baskerville, Caecillia, Helvetica, Helvetica Light, Lucida, Palatino). Along with Bookerly, Amazon Ember, Amazon Ember Bold, and Open Dyslexic, the app now offers ten font options. There's also a new viewer that lets you zoom in on images and scroll around. It also works on equations and footnotes (I haven't had a chance to test the latter two, though). And last but not least, Kindle for PC now has a multi-column mode. For the longest time it has had an option for displaying text in two columns like the facing pages of a book, but now it can automatically adjust the number of columns to fit your screen size and the font size. Select the right options and it can like this: Changelog: What’s new in Kindle for PC 1.23.1 1. New Fonts: You can choose from six new fonts (Baskerville, Caecillia, Helvetica, Helvetica Light, Lucida, Palatino) in addition [...]

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Morning Coffee – 18 April 2018


Here are a few stories for the survivors of tax day to read this Wednesday morning. Someone's Making Handmaid's Tale-Inspired Lingerie Which Seems Like a Very Bad Idea Indeed (io9)  Nastygrams shut down site that created fonts of famous songwriters' handwriting (Boing Boing)  How Small, Scrappy Local Book Presses Have Turned L.A. Into a Publishing Town (LA Magazine)  ‘I was a teacher for 17 years, but I couldn’t read or write’ (BBC)  Apple to launch a premium news subscription service, report says (Techcrunch) 

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Hackers Now Targeting Author Accounts on Createspace


If you have an account on Createspace then you might want to change your password - and while you're at it, double check your payment details. There has been no public discussion yet, but I have read multiple independent reports in several closed Facebook groups from authors who say that someone hacked their CS account. Many of the reports go something like this: We got an email from Createspace last night that our payment info had been changed. Fortunately, CreateSpace notifies you if this happens. I fixed the info and changed my password ASAP. Today's lesson: Don't ignore messages like that from CreateSpace. They could be important. It's not clear at this time that Createspace has been hacked, and judging by the low number of reports I would say that is unlikely. (There are only a handful of reports, not hundreds or thousands.) This hack is most likely the result of a hacker piling up all the passwords and emails from other security breaches, and then using them to try to access accounts on Createspace en masse. Most of the passwords won't work, but if one does then the hacker immediately changes the payment details. To reiterate: If you have an account [...]

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Amazon Launches a Lite Android Web Browser


Late last year Amazon launched a minimalist Kindle Lite reading app in India, and now they have followed it with a web browser - one that does not appear to have been developed by the same team as the Silk web browser. From Techcrunch: The app first appeared on the Play Store in March, and has fewer than 1,000 downloads, according to data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower. It’s only available to users in India for the time being, and is supported on devices running Android 5.0 or higher. Like most “lite” apps, the new browser is a small download – it’s under 2 MB in size. The browser’s Google Play description also notes that it’s “private,” as it doesn’t ask for extra permissions or collect private data like other browsers do. This seems to indicate that it’s meant to be something of a competitor to other private mobile browsers, like Firefox, which blocks website trackers. The browser additionally supports Private tabs, so you can browse without saving visits to your history, plus other features like tab previews, an automatic fullscreen mode, and integrated news reader of sorts. In fact, the news reading experience is another telling indication that [...]

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Morning Coffee – 17 April 2018


Here are a few stories to read this Tuesday morning. Why Specs Change: EPUB 3.2 and the Evolution of the Ebook Ecosystem (EpubSecrets)  Over half the top 100 titles on Kindle UK are breaking the metadata rules. A third of the Kindle US top 100 today are Amazon imprint titles. (TNPS)  This photojournalist won a Pulitzer for an image he made on his last day in the newsroom (Poynter)  Helping publishers recover lost revenue from ad blocking (Google) 

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Sony DPT-CP1 Features a 10.3″ E-ink Screen


This morning found me eagerly refreshing the FCC website, waiting for the embargo to be lifted on Sony's new DPT-CP1, but now it turns out we don't have to bother. The new Sony digital paper that showed up on the FCC website last month is now listed on Sony's site in Japan. It is a 10.3" writing slate, just like the one that Sony was polling consumers about last year. The Sony DPT-CP1 features a 10.3" E-ink screen (resolution 1404 × 1872). Built by Taiwan OEM Netronix, this writing slate has a capacitive touchscreen with matching stylus. It runs Sony's software on a Marvell IAP 140 quad-core CPU with 16GB internal storage, and can connect over Wifi, Bluetooth, or NFC. Weighing in at 240 grams (almost as light as the Kindle Paperwhite), the CP1 measures 174.2 × 243.5 × 5.9 mm and has a battery life of about a month. It only supports PDF, of course. This device is in many ways a smaller copy of the Sony DPT-RP1; both devices have the same CPU, software features, and connectivity, but CP1 is missing at least one key detail: it doesn't have the dual touchscreens found on the RP1. That could mean this model will [...]

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You Can Now Strip DRM from Amazon’s Kindle KFX Format


When Amazon launched the newest version of its Kindle ebook format in 2015, the improved typography and hyphenation came at a price. Each KFX ebook was delivered as a collection of files with no obvious details other than unfamiliar file suffixes and a new type of DRM. That new DRM was unbreakable, and that caused a lot of problems for those who want to protect their purchases. This problem only intensified last year when Kindle for PC gained support KFX and made it harder to download a Kindle ebook that could be deDRMed, but now we have a solution. The latest version of the Apprentice Alf DRM-stripping tools was released last week, and it now works on KFX ebooks. According to the blog post, this is a beta release: This release incorporates works by several people to give initial KFX support to the plugin.  If you are not interested in removing DRM from the new Kindle KFX format, then there is no need to update at this time.  We still recommend using the older Kindle formats when possible for more successful conversion into other formats. Install the KFX Input Plugin to automatically locate all of the files that make up a KFX [...]

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Morning Coffee – 16 April 2018


Here are a few stories to read this Monday morning. Publishers Weekly Includes Two Vanity Publishers in its List of Fast-Growing Independent Presses (Writer Beware)  The perfect crimes: why thrillers are leaving other books for dead (Guardian)  Why American Students Haven't Gotten Better at Reading in 20 Years (The Atlantic)  How Beethoven’s ‘mistake’ became one of our most famous tunes (The Conversation)  The Billion-Dollar Romance Fiction Industry Has A Diversity Problem (NPR)  'You are what you read' book on constructive journalism surpasses its crowdfunding target ( 

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