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Tag Archives: eBooks

‘How to Keep Your Electronic Messages Private’ and More on Gobookee


The following article is brought to you by Gobookee. -Ed.

Security is a huge deal these days. There are so many scams floating around these days that attempt to gain access to your personal information by hacking into your email, perhaps in a bid to steal your identity or obtain your bank account details. For example, the Nigerian and “You just won the lottery!” email scams have been extensively reported on for the past few years, but there are still people who fall for it every day. For sure, a resource like the Email Security ebook would be helpful to would-be victims.

This title is just one of the many digital books, manuals, and guides on gadgets and gizmos that you can find on Gobookee. As you would expect from a typical library, the site also offers resources on a variety of topics, including Arts, Business, Family, Food, Health, Law, Medicine, and Sports, among others. Titles are featured regularly You can browse through the books in the different categories if you’re not looking for anything particular. If you are, then simply type in the relevant keywords and hit search to see what Gobookee can find on the topic. You can find out more about the book by clicking on the title. You then have the option to buy the book or find a similar free ebook elsewhere.

Miss That Dead Tree Smell? There’s A Perfume For That

By David Ponce

Stringing words together in intelligible sentences is an art that goes way back. But for almost as long as it’s been around, the preferred medium for this has been paper; caves are not so easily transported. But as the years tick past the new millennium, a new publishing landscape is emerging that will almost surely relegate dead tree books to museums and rare object collections. Case in point is the emergent trend of eBooks. Boy are they popular! But the sentimentalists hate them. Maybe they can be mollified with the above Paper Passion fragrance by Geza Schoen and Gerhard Steidl. Yes, it’s an actual fragrance that is supposed to smell like “a freshly printed book”, and it comes packaged in a hollowed-out book of its own. You could buy it and sprinkle it liberally on your Nook, or your Kindle or even your iPad, and revel in one of the languishing vestiges of a world that 20 years from now will seem as silly as cassette tapes seem to us today.

It’s $98.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Technabob ]

Amazon Updates The Kindle, Introduces The Kindle Touch, Saves You Money All Around

Amazon Kindle and Kindle Touch (Images courtesy Amazon)
By Andrew Liszewski

It was inevitable that Amazon would at some point update their Kindle with IR-based touchscreen capabilities. Since both the Kobo and Nook have already adapted that technology with great success. But what came as a surprise at Amazon’s press conference today was an updated version of the basic wifi-only Kindle as well, that’s now just $79. For those not keeping score, that’s pretty cheap. It’s also smaller and lighter than the previous generation Kindles, which was made possible by finally letting go of the keyboard that made the original version so distinct.

The new Kindle Touch also bears a striking resemblance to the updated Kindle, minus the set of buttons across the bottom that have been replaced with the aforementioned touch interface. It also sports a larger 2-month battery—compared to ‘just’ 1 month for the Kindle—and a $99 price tag for the wifi only version. Which makes it the no-brainer choice if you’re debating between the two. Of course if you can’t live without the always-on 3G, that’s also still available for the Kindle Touch, though at $149. All of the e-ink display Kindles also come with free storage in the Amazon Cloud. Which when combined with Amazon’s large catalog of content, makes it really hard to recommend anything other than the new Kindles if you’re on the hunt for a dedicated ebook reader.

[ Kindle & Kindle Touch ]

Booktrack – Soundtracks For Books

Booktrack (Images courtesy iTunes App Store)
By Andrew Liszewski

Like when most people first hear about the concept behind Booktrack, my knee-jerk reaction was to scoff at what I thought was a ridiculous idea. But having downloaded the app and given it a try, I’m surprised to say I’m not completely in the negative about it. In the same way a moving score can enhance a movie or TV show, the creators of Booktrack, including PayPal founder Peter Thiel, feel that books could also be made more exciting or dramatic with a soundtrack of their own.

And after reading a few pages of The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes – The Adventure of the Speckled Band (that’s a lot of adventure!) I’m intrigued by the idea, though dubious of it catching on. The most obvious question one has when it comes to adding a soundtrack to a book is how you deal with different reading speeds. A dramatic sting really isn’t dramatic if it comes at the wrong time. So when you start reading a story with a Booktrack soundtrack, every once in a while you’re encouraged to double tap on a word so that a moving arrow, which scrolls down the page, stays in sync with where you’re at on the page. It’s a little obtrusive, but over time the app will automatically adjust to match your reading speed, and will time the soundtrack accordingly.

You’re also given control over the individual levels for the soundtrack and sound effects, which helps you adjust them so that they’re not too distracting while you read. And once I had turned them down to more suitable background levels, I was surprised to find that I actually kind of appreciated them. But there are a lot of speed bumps to overcome before this idea catches on. The book I read was 43+ MB in size, which is considerably larger than your average ebook. And from the looks of it, that’s on the small side. And it takes time to add a soundtrack and effects to a title, so don’t expect new releases to be immediately available. Like with most ventures like this it’s going to come down to content available, and so far their library isn’t exactly extensive.

[ Booktrack ] VIA [ TechCrunch ]

Plustek’s OpticBook 3800 Scanner Is Optimized For Digitizing Books

Plustek OpticBook 3800 (Image courtesy Plustek)
By Andrew Liszewski

Converting a CD to MP3 files is pretty much a one-step process these days. (Unless you’re really anal about how the tracks are ripped and compressed.) But converting a printed book into an eBook to enjoy on your eReader is far more involved. And while Plustek’s new OpticBook 3800 scanner doesn’t make it as easy as inserting a book and hitting go, it does provide some key advantages if scanning printed pages is a priority for you.

The leading edge of the scanning bed has an extremely thin bezel which facilitates scanning the pages of a book as close to the inner spine as possible. While the company’s ‘SEE’ or ‘Shadow Elimination Element’ technology removes the shadow and distorted text that usually appear close to the spine. The scanner’s lid also features a very generous layer of foam padding which helps flatten books or pages against the scanner bed, further reducing curved distortions on the scanned page. Unfortunately turning pages and processing each scanned image with the included collection of OCR software is left to you. Of course a machine that will do all of that for you does exist, for a mere $250,000. While Plustek’s alternative is just $300.

[ Plustek OpticBook 3800 ] VIA [ Wired Gadget Lab ]

OhGizmo! Review – Kobo eReader Touch Edition

Kobo eReader Touch Edition (Image property OhGizmo!)
By Andrew Liszewski

While reports of the death of eReaders, at least those that rely on e-ink display technology, have been greatly exaggerated. There was a time when it seemed like more capable tablets, such as Apple’s iPad, would be their demise. Their large, color LCD displays made viewing publications like magazines and newspapers far more enjoyable than on black and white e-ink displays. And the ability to instantly zoom, pan and flip pages with a simple touch made using a control pad, or physical buttons, seem downright antiquated.

In fact I’ve made mention of it in the latest technology reviews, but every time I introduce someone to an eReader their first instinct is to touch, tap and prod the screen to get it to do something. And I always have to redirect them to a button and explain that the electronic ink technology used makes it very difficult to integrate touch sensing functionality. But all that has now changed. Thanks to Neonode’s zForce technology, eReader’s like Kobo’s new Touch Edition have finally gained touch screen functionality. Without affecting the contrast or legibility of their displays.

And let’s face it. We’ve all had plenty of quality time with Apple’s iPad by now, and have discovered that even the 2nd generation of its hardware is not exactly the lightest and most ideal solution for reading ebooks. Nor are any of its competitors. So as a result, eReaders have been making a well-deserved comeback I feel. And we recently had the chance to try out the aforementioned latest and greatest offering from Kobo, their new Touch Edition, and walked away extremely happy with how far the technology, and eReaders in general, have come. More after the jump.

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Kobo Introduces Their New eReader Touch

Kobo eReader Touch (Image courtesy Kobo)
By Andrew Liszewski

Whenever I show people an ebook reader their first instinct is to touch the screen to select a title or navigate a menu option. When I explain that it unfortunately doesn’t work that way, there’s always a touch of disappointment in their voice when they have to use a navigation pad or keyboard instead. Until now, touchscreen technology on an ebook reader has meant a loss of contrast and clarity with the e-ink display, but not with Kobo’s new eReader Touch which uses ‘Infrared Touch Technology’ instead. They don’t go into too much detail on how it works, but it of course involves infrared sensors, presumably hidden beneath the e-ink display.

Besides gaining a simple and cleaner home button beneath its 6-inch display, in lieu of the large navigation button the Kobo has been known for, their eReader Touch now allows users to do everything from turning pages to typing on an on-screen keyboard to highlighting text to even panning and zooming PDF files (finally!) using their fingers. It’s not only a welcomed addition to the ereader market, but it’s also the kind of thing you wonder how we ever lived without. The Kobo eReader Touch even incorporates a new 16-level grayscale Pearl e-ink display, while maintaining the same battery life of the previous models. All for just $130 ($139 CDN) available in June.

[ Kobo eReader Touch ]

Amazon Now Allows You To Loan Out Kindle Books

By Chris Scott Barr

Until recently, if someone asked to borrow a book from me, it took no real effort. I’d simply walk over to my bookshelf, grab the book and hand it to them. If I felt lazy, I’d make them get it themselves. These days, loaning out a book can be a complicated matter. With the rise of eBooks, you’re dealing with the same issues as sharing a digitally-downloaded movie or song. With DRM restrictions, you can’t just give them a copy. Thankfully, Amazon has now enabled their long-awaited lending feature to Kindle books.

Yes, you’ve been able to do this with Nook eBooks for some time, so Amazon is behind the curve. They promised us months ago that we would get this feature before the year’s end. They couldn’t have cut it much closer to the deadline. Books can be loaned out for up to 14 days, and as expected, you cannot read your book while it is on loan. What is strange is that the books can only be loaned out a single time. Also, not all books allow this feature. The decision to enable it is entirely up to the publisher, not Amazon.

[ Amazon ] VIA [ DownloadSquad ]

Kobo Updates Their iPad App With ‘Reading Life’ Adding Achievements, Check-Ins, Stats And Social Media Sharing

Kobo Reading Life (Images courtesy Kobo)
By Andrew Liszewski

In a few days they’ll be celebrating their first birthday, but Canadian-based Kobo has already done quite a bit to shake up the ebook industry. After it was released, their $150 eBook reader basically forced their competition to drastically lower the cost of their own hardware to a similar pricepoint. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see others copying what they’re now doing with their eBook apps.

Last night we had a chance to check out Kobo’s recent update to their iPad app (it went live as of yesterday) which now includes, in addition to a few other improvements, a section they call ‘Reading Life.’ In a nutshell it adds elements of social media that you typically don’t associate with reading books. But I think they could really catch on. One of the more obvious features is the ability to share what you’re currently reading via Facebook, including favorite passages. And if you miss having a bookshelf full of tomes you can show off to your friends, the personal book cover, which is composed of a collage of titles in your collection, can also be shared if you’re dying to impress people.

The Kobo app also now includes unlockable achievements and awards for reading. Like ‘The Twain’ if you read on a daily basis or ‘The Witching Hour’ if you tend to read late into the night. And each of those comes with a little badge or icon you can collect. The company has also been adding check-ins to select titles which are kind of like easter eggs hidden throughout a book. So for instance the first time you discover the rabbit hole in Alice In Wonderland you’ll be able to check-in there, and of course let everyone know you did via Facebook. And last but certainly not least is extensive statistics tracking for you obsessive types like how many books you’ve read, your average reading speed, pages turned and what time of day you read the most.

I’ve included the full press release after the jump if you’re interested, or you can just download the free iPad Kobo app and try it out for yourself. The new features will be rolled out to other platforms in the coming months including their actual eBook readers eventually, though in a limited fashion of course.

[ Kobo Books ]

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