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A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged amazon

Kindle update in progress

As of this morning, Amazon’s new Kindle typeface Bookerly has made it to the E Ink Kindles – well, the most recent ones, anyway:

The current supported list is:

If Amazon sticks to form, updates for (some) older devices will emerge over the next few months.I imagine that the over-the-air update will make its way to devices over the next month, but I grabbed the direct download and installed in on my Voyage straight away. If you want to do the same, the direct links are above.

Bookerly on the Kindle Voyage - updating

And here’s the font in use on the Voyage:

Bookerly on the Kindle Voyage

(Bonus points for recognising the book… 😉 )

At this point, I really don’t have much to add beyond the comments I made months ago when Bookerly hit my Kindle Fire. I like it, it’s an improvement on what they had before, and coupled with the other typographic changes, it’s a big step in the right direction with the software on these devices.

I have two 13 hour flights coming up over the next 10 days, so that’ll be the perfect opportunity to test how good the typeface is for extended use.

NOT Top Gear. Something else. Something on Amazon.

Compare and contrast:

Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are reuniting to create an all-new car show, exclusively for Amazon Prime. The show will be produced by the trio’s long time executive producer Andy Wilman. On working with Amazon, Jeremy Clarkson said “I feel like I’ve climbed out of a bi-plane and into a spaceship.” The first show will go into production shortly and arrive exclusively on Amazon Prime in 2016.

I bet Amazon is about to sell a lot more Fire TVs to middle-aged men in the next six months. (They’re really excellent, by the way. I you have Amazon Prime, you should buy one).

Meanwhile, a woman who built her fame on YouTube – Michelle Phan – is also heading to Amazon Fire TV:

The fashion video star has brought her Icon Network app, which features clips from her and other beauty/makeup advisers, to Amazon’s Fire TV platform. She’s not the first person to succeed on YouTube and head to Amazon — gadget vlogger Andru Edwards has already brought his Gear Live network there — but she’s by far the most prominent.

The difference? Our late-middle aged car fans are producing a TV show and having it distributed by Amazon. The YouTubers are building their own apps and putting them on the platform. You might want to note that TV giant Endemol lurks behind Phan’s Icon Network, though…

IMG 0460

A couple of days ago, Amazon updated its Kindle iOS app to bring Bookerly – the font that came to the Fire tablets a few months ago – and a much improved type handling experience:

[…] the new app finally gives the boot to the hideous absolute justification of text that the Kindle’s been rocking since 2007. The new layout engine justifies text more like print typesetting. Even if you max out the font size on the new Kindle app, it will keep the spacing between words even, intelligently hyphenating words and spreading them between lines as need may be.

(It’s interesting to note that a significant number of commenters who wrote about this treated this as if it was new, rather than the second stage of a roll-out that started with the Fire tablets in January. Even a quick Google of the name Bookerly would have cleared that up for them…)

It’s a significant, but not dramatic upgrade, that really begins to suggest that Amazon does actually care about the typography of its Kindle devices – especially with the suggestion that these improvements are coming to the E Ink devices later in the summer:

Amazon just told me that the Bookerly font will be made available on Kindle ereaders later this year.

And quite possibly in the near future:

[UPDATE]: It arrived in August 2015.

Marco Arment makes an interesting point – Amazon is still deeply dictatorial in its choices on the Kindle. Can’t the reader have more choice?

I’m glad they appear to care, but I hope they take this further. There’s no good reason why justification needs to be forced on readers who can already customize the font, size, margins, and line spacing to make reading easier or more pleasant for them. If justification can’t be removed completely, make it an option.

Let’s hope this is a first stage in a continual process of software evolution, now Kindle hardware development seems to be slowing down.

Hail Hydra

re/code on Amazon’s rapidly escalating war with media owners:

Retail giant Amazon is giving Captain America, Miss Piggy and Maleficent the cold shoulder.

Consumers are suddenly unable to place advance orders to buy DVDs or Blu-ray discs of forthcoming films from Walt Disney Studios, including two popular summer releases that each captured more than $700 million in global box office receipts — “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Maleficent.”

Hail Hydra.

Kindle unlimited

Well, it was rumoured earlier in the week, and now it’s official: Amazon has announced Kindle Unlimited in the US. What do you get? Unlimited access to a library of books for $9.99 a month.

Amazon.com today introduced Kindle Unlimited—a new subscription service which allows customers to freely read as much as they want from over 600,000 Kindle books, and listen as much as they want to thousands of Audible audiobooks, all for only $9.99 a month. Finding a great book is easy, and there are never any due dates—just look for the Kindle Unlimited logo on eligible titles and click “Read for Free.”

There’s 600,000 books available in the service right now, and I’d expect that to grow. No word on a UK launch date just yet, but there is a rather breathily-voiced video, if you want to watch it…

I wonder how prevalent the renting media model is going to become? Streaming music and film services are certainly eating into traditional sales already.

Comixology's new store-front free app

It’s interesting to note that one type of publication was hugely assisted by the arrival of the iPad: comics.

Very few people bought comic books digitally before the iPad (probably more stole them). Remember how the iPad was going to save publications? This is probably the one place it’s actually made a measurable difference. As Gerry Conway and Mike Essl say, making it easy to buy comic books has worked out for comic book companies, consumers and Apple.

This is suddenly a topic of discussion because the thing that made comics on the iPad so compelling – the instant, impulse-buying of cheap and fast to download packets of entertainment via the App Store – has just been undermined by Amazon:

Leaving the quality of the technology aside (pro or con), the fact is that at least 80% (probably more depending on your source) of all mobile digital purchases occur on the iPad or iPhone platform. In other words, if you’re a publisher you want your books easily accessible on the Apple platform because that’s where the money is, that’s where your readers are. Comixology just made that more difficult. And there will be consequences.

And what did Amazon do? Get their latest acquisition, the market-leading Comixology, to drop in-app purchases, in favour of making users go to the web store, and then download their purchases into the viewer app (the same process you have to use for the Kindle app on iPad).

When there’s a howl of protest from both publishers and from users, you know that a middle-man with a dominant position is a bad, bad thing for both sides.

As long-term comic writer Gerry Conway puts it:

There is no upside to this development, people. There are no positives. (Yes, yes, I know, now Apple can’t prevent Sex Criminals from appearing in the Comixology in-app storefront…because there is no in-app storefront; this is progress?) I’m outraged and deeply concerned for the future of digital comics. You should be too.

Interesting analysis of how Kindle Singles, and other short ebooks might be the future:

The greatest aspect of Kindle Singles is, of course, their short length. The first one I read was a Single about media and I remember thinking how a typical business book editor would have asked the author to turn this 30-page gem into a bloated 300-page mess. It happens all the time and it’s a function of both physical shelf presence and perceived value. In the ebook world there’s suddenly no physical bookshelf an individual title has to have a spine presence on. Now we just need to stop equating “shorter” with “cheaper”…more on that in a moment.

And, indeed there is. I’d actually be prepared to pay as much for a short book as a long one, as long as the density of information was right. Attention is at a premium, and books that respect that are valuable to me.

The internet buys a venerable news institution…

The Washington Post Co. has agreed to sell its flagship newspaper to Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos, ending the Graham family’s stewardship of one of America’s leading news organizations after four generations.

Bezos, whose entrepreneurship has made him one of the world’s richest men, will pay $250 million in cash for The Post and affiliated publications to the Washington Post Co., which owns the newspaper and other businesses.

If you ask me, Bezos is just too old to play the 12th Doctor. Uh, no, Peter Capaldi is the wrong man to own such an institution. Uh, no…

Joking aside, this, I think , is going to be a fun ride. Vanity project or a change for a radical reinvention of an old institution?

Update 1: Lovely tweet from Dan Barker:

Update 2: From a letter to Washington Post staff by Bezos:

There will of course be change at The Post over the coming years. That’s essential and would have happened with or without new ownership. The Internet is transforming almost every element of the news business: shortening news cycles, eroding long-reliable revenue sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no news-gathering costs. There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment. Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about – government, local leaders, restaurant openings, scout troops, businesses, charities, governors, sports – and working backwards from there. I’m excited and optimistic about the opportunity for invention.

That’s the approach too few people have taken: start with reader need and work backwards, rather than trying to figure out how to make the kind of news you want to do become profitable. Like I said, interesting ride ahead…