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Ebooks and Ereaders

Ebooks and Ereaders

For folks who keep hitting my site looking for Kobo Mini battery data

I’ve turned off URL archiving of my tweet history–but I had been getting a lot of hits on one tweet I did about my Kobo Mini and finding a battery for it. This suggests to me that a lot of folks out there are having the same problem I did, which is to say, you have a Kobo Mini with battery problems. So I thought I’d put up a little post talking about what I did. The tweet people kept hitting didn’t exactly have much in the way of useful data, after all.

When I originally got the Mini I saw a lot of weird behavior with it, as described in my Mini vs. Nook SimpleTouch post, and the followup on Mini vs. Nook SimpleTouch post. It had issues with battery life, and would often lose track of where I was with any given book, or whether it had synced stuff back to Kobo’s mothership in case I wanted to pick up reading a book on something else (like the desktop app, or my phone). I eventually realized that a lot of what I was seeing could be traced to a bad battery. A little bit of googling suggested other Mini owners had had the same problem.

The trick is, actually finding a battery to replace the one in my device. I eventually had to have Dara order me one from a seller on eBay. The seller was in Toronto, so it took a while for the battery to actually get to me. But it did arrive and it did work. I’m not using my Kobo Mini much now, but as of the last few times I played with it, it did indeed appear stable. So if you’re having issues with your device, I’d recommend you do a scan through eBay and see if other sellers have batteries available.

Of course, if the only available sellers are in North America and you’re not, I agree that this presents some problems. To wit, the likelihood that you’ll risk postage costs being more than the battery is actually worth–at which point you’ll need to ask yourself whether it’s worth it to try to find a replacement battery, or just get a new device. That, I suppose, will depend on how much you like the Mini as an ereading device.

(You will note that I’m no longer actively using mine; I’m a power reader and I have found that the Mini doesn’t really suit my reading needs anymore. So if anybody wants to buy mine, hey, talk to me!)

All that said… if you do actually find a battery, what then do you do with it? Well, I found it reasonably easy to take my device apart and install the newly acquired battery. So if you’re not afraid to disassemble an ereader and you have the appropriate tools, go for it. I found this tutorial on Kobo surgery helpful.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Ebooks and Ereaders

Ereader review: Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook 7.0, by Barnes and Noble

Since I got a bonus from work, I have elected to add another ereader to my collection: this time, one of the new Samsung Galaxy Nooks from Barnes and Noble. Since I’m an established B&N member, I was able to get one at a bit of a discount, and the devices were on sale aside from that this past weekend as well. So I got one for considerably cheaper than normal.

Y’all may recall that I acquired a Nook HD not terribly long ago, and by and large, I rather liked it. And for those of you keep score, I have a Kindle Fire HDX too. So how does the new Samsung Nook 7 stack up against those?

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Ebooks and Ereaders

Ereader review: Kindle Fire HDX, by Amazon

So this is kinda lollertastic: Dara and I have a credit card that we’ve had via the University of Kentucky credit union, pretty much ever since Dara graduated college. This card generates points that we can trade in for swag every so often, a thing we tend to forget about. Recently the card folks reminded Dara that she’d accumulated a LOT of points, so she and I blew a bunch of them on getting some stuff.

And because one of the things available was a Kindle Fire in a couple different flavors, I decided, what the hell, I’ll get one of those! I chose the Kindle Fire HDX, the 7-inch one, on the thought that I could in fact use it for work-related purposes. (Which I can. Since Big Fish ships Android games for both the Amazon and Google Play stores, we do care about Kindle-specific stuff sometimes. And as I write this, I have in fact used the Kindle a few times to test stuff for my day job.)

Here now are my thoughts on this device, behind the fold!

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Ebooks and Ereaders

Adobe Digital Editions 4 has significant privacy problems

Saw this news breaking on various sites today, so as a PSA I’ll relay it here: Adobe Digital Editions 4 has got significant privacy problems, to the tune of transmitting data to Adobe servers about books on your library in plain text. Some evidence points to this even including stuff not only in your ADE library, but elsewhere on the hard drive as well, such as in Download folders and Calibre’s standard library location.

I’ve seen this reported on in the following places:

  • The Digital Reader, which appears to have been first in breaking the story
  • Ars Technica has a technical breakdown of what exactly ADE 4 is transmitting, including screenshots
  • Dear Author is NOT AMUSED
  • And Smart Bitches Trashy Books is SERIOUSLY not amused, and also provides pointers on how to figure out what version of ADE you have on your system if you don’t already know

If you use ADE at all, you should doublecheck that you’re not running ADE 4. If you have an earlier version, do not upgrade. The various links are all reporting that the earlier ADE versions, while they do still transmit a small amount of data to Adobe servers, are not doing it to the scale ADE 4 is.

I do use ADE, but only sparingly, and mostly as a means of checking out books from the library. This has mostly been trumped by me going directly to Overdrive apps on my various devices, though, and right now I’m really not seeing any reason to change that practice. I recommend anybody with an interest in checking out ebooks from libraries should do the same if at all possible.

Ebooks and Ereaders

B&N and Kobo stomping on user ability to download books

I’ve been noticing lately that Kobo has been stomping on the ability to download certain books from user libraries–and at first I thought this was simply a passing glitch. But then I started noticing it happen on books where it was particularly puzzling, i.e., releases from Which are DRM-free and which should not have any restrictions whatsoever upon them.

I saw this happen when I tried to pre-order John Scalzi’s Lock In, and when I sent Kobo’s CS people cranky mail about this, they told me something that made no damn sense whatsoever: that because the book was in epub3 format, that meant I couldn’t download it. I’d also noticed it happen on a free book from Tor–Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Lady Astronaut of Mars”.

Reasons why this made no damn sense:

1) A book’s format does not dictate whether you can download it. All downloading is is copying data from point A to point B. If there’s something that’s getting in the way of the data moving, that’s DRM or some other form of restriction.

2) I was able to go over to my B&N account, go find Kowal’s novelette, and download the exact same thing in the exact same format with no problems whatsoever.

So I sent Kobo additional cranky mail about this, and was told that if I wanted the book in another format, then I should complain to the publisher. And that pissed me off because the CS person didn’t understand that I wasn’t complaining about the format–I was complaining about the inability to download the thing onto my computer so that I could keep a backup copy of it around. Which I should have been able to bloody well do as I wished, because it had no DRM on it.

Meanwhile, though, B&N has trumped Kobo completely on this, because according to this post on The Digital Reader, now B&N has removed download links for ALL books in user accounts. Apparently, they’re stopping support for sideloading, according to what the poster was told in tweets.

And this just makes me crankier. Dammit, B&N, I started buying ebooks from you because Amazon was pissing me off. And Kobo, I started buying books from YOU because B&N was pissing me off, and additionally, because I wanted to support moves to partner up with independent bookstores.

But if BOTH of you are going to start denying users ability to download their damn books, all this is going to do is drive me off to find out whether Google Play will let me do this. And it’ll make me way more interested in buying books directly from publishers and from authors as often as possible.

Dammit, all I want to do is buy books, keep master copies on my computer, and put them on devices to read when I want to. This should not be difficult.

And yet.

Ebooks and Ereaders

Ereader review: The Nook HD, by Barnes and Noble

As y’all know, my day job is QA Engineer at Big Fish Games. But what you may not know, even if you’re a regular player of our stuff, is that we’ve been pushing out hard into the mobile arena–and that now we have not only iOS games, but Android games as well!

I mention this because a) that shiny new Android page of ours was tested by yours truly (woo!), and b) since we’re having more of an emphasis on Android devices at work, I felt it was time for me to acquire one. We have a store of devices to use to test on when I’m at work, but I periodically do work from home. Therefore I wanted a device around to have handy in case I needed to test on it.

Which raised for me the question of what to actually get. So far I’ve had experience with Nexus and Samsung devices, neither of which really stood up and said “buy me”. What I ultimately decided upon was a thing that’ll be useful to me not only as a testing device, but also as an ereader and a tablet: a Nook HD. This is the smaller, 7-inch version of B&N’s current tablet, which I wanted because that particular size is more comfortable to me for reading purposes, and also because I’ve got my still-perfectly-delightful iPad covering the larger 10-inch form factor.

It was rather fun going into the B&N at Pacific Place downtown, where I started experimenting with one of the display models, with my srs bznz Testing Face on. The staffer in charge of selling Nooks took a moment to lock in on me–he was busy delivering his “so, are you interested in buying a tablet?” spiel to another customer when I walked in. But it didn’t take him long to get over to me to start the same spiel. At which point I promptly spieled right back at him as to what I wanted the device for (i.e., web page testing as well as reading, and why yes, I AM a current Nook customer), and to his credit, he immediately went into “oh okay this is an informed consumer” mode. So he cheerfully let me be as I gave serious thought between the smoke-colored model and the white one, and whether I wanted 8GB or 16GB. Final verdict: I got the smoke-colored, 16GB one. This is what it looks like.

(Pics and more behind the fold!)

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Ebooks and Ereaders

Quick followup on Kobo Mini vs. Nook SimpleTouch

I keep seeing a lot of people hitting this post, so for the benefit of those of you who’re coming by to see what I had to say about the two devices, I wanted to note a couple of things that I saw about the Mini since I made that post.

One: I have a really big ebook collection, and when I tried to put my Kobo books (of which I have about sixty or so) as well as all my books purchased from other sources (e.g., Carina Press) onto the device, it slowed down considerably. Enough that it became kind of unusable.

Workaround for this: I’ve since shifted to using the Mini to read stuff I buy from my Kobo account, and putting everything else on my more powerful Nook SimpleTouch.

Two: The Mini does not have an SD slot in it. So if like me you have a really big ebook collection, you may wish to keep this in mind. You may want to be looking at one of the more powerful Kobo devices instead, like the Glo or the Arc, if you want to have a Kobo device.

Workaround: Same as above, really. Minimizing the number of books I have on the device helps. Also, I’m using the Mini’s archiving ability to immediately archive a book as soon as I’m done reading it, so as to clear it off the device.

Three: I noticed periodic frustrating weirdness with the Mini losing track of what book I was reading, and/or how far along I was in it. I suspect this was buggy behavior in its autosyncing up to Kobo’s servers.

Workaround: Unless you absolutely need it, turn off the device’s wi-fi. I saw this problem go away as soon as I did that. The drawback here is that I do have to remember to plug the thing into my computer’s USB port to keep it synced, and I can’t really autosync from it over to, say, the desktop app or the app on my phone. But I don’t find that to be a problem.