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Thursday News: Bent Objects; Apple destroys secrecy; Questionable free speech issue

Thursday News: Bent Objects; Apple destroys secrecy; Questionable free speech issue

Yesterday around 3-4 pm CST, Amazon engaged in some weird pricing shenanigans with several books (who knows how many) getting a 31% off treatment. Initially some on the Amazon boards thought it signaled the end of agency for Simon & Schuster but after investigating, I noticed that several Macmillan books were also 31% off. I’m not sure whether it was a pricing glitch, a signal that S&S books are about to be freed from agency deals or what. But if you are a price watcher, some of your favorites might enjoy a reduction, albeit only briefly.

In other pricing news, I noticed yesterday that Sony has introduced a loyalty program where if you buy 6 books you get 1 from a special selection free. I think this can be directly attributable to the end of agency pricing for at least three of the publishers. I’m hopeful that more retailers will engage in loyalty programs and other buying incentive programs.

One more thing before we get to the news (although the above could definitely be considered news. Yesterday I discovered Bent Objects. The artist, Terry Border, provides high resolution images so you can use the pictures for your computer background so I switched my Lego one to this. He’s got a coupe of coffee table books out and I can see that these are going to make wonderful gifts this holiday.

Image via Bent Objects.

“As with so many other aspects of sexual behavior, the answer may be different for men and women. Gordon Gallup Jr., a psychologist at the State University of New York at Albany who in 2007 examined how kissing was perceived by more than 1,000 undergraduate students, found that the average female sees kissing as essential. Females “wouldn’t dream” of having sex with someone without kissing first and were also much more likely to emphasize kissing during and after sex, says Gallup. It suggests that “females are much more prone to use kissing as a mate assessment device,” he says. And even within an ongoing relationship, they use kissing as a way to update and monitor its status, he says.”US News and World Report

REVIEW: Kindle Paperwhite

REVIEW: Kindle Paperwhite

I’ve been reading mostly on my iPhone and iPad having sold my Kindle 3G on Craigslist this past spring. I just wasn’t using it enough.  But when the Kindle Paperwhite went on sale, I had to buy one.

There are two versions of the Kindle Paperwhite – one with wifi and one with 3G.  I purchased the 3G with Special Offers but feel like I could have easily gotten away with just purchasing the wifi version for $119.


Kindle Paperwhite

In the box

The device comes with a USB cable but NO power adapter.  Your previous Kindle adapter will work with it.

The Feel of the Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite weighs 7.5 ounces which is the exact weight of the Kindle Touch (and basically the same height and width).  The Kindle 3G with keyboard weighed in at 7.8 oz yet when you pick up the Kindle Paperwhite, it feels a little heavier, more solid. The Kindle basic, for example, weighs 5.98 oz.

The weight difference I am feeling may come from the fact that the Kindle 3G with keyboard is almost an inch longer than the Kindle Paperwhite, thus the weight is distributed over a larger area.

The Paperwhite is not too heavy for one handed reading unlike my iPad.  The back is made of a rubberized material while the front bezels feel like a warm metal.

The controls

Only a power button

There is no button other than the power button on the bottom:

Kindle Paperwhite bottom

It would have been nice to have an external button that could have provided context oriented tasks.  The only controls are accessible via touchscreen.  While in a book, if you swipe your finger across the bottom, the device will tell you what location you are at, how many minutes you have left in the chapter and how many minutes you have in the book.  On the right side, the devices tells you your percentage completion or the pages.

paperwhite page mins

CON:  I would like to be able to tap in the bottom info bar and move within the book.  The “Go To” feature is only available when you tap the toolbar.


Instead of allowing users to customize their own tapzones, the Kindle Paperwhite has three tap zones. The greatest portion of the Kindle is given over to the next page.  The far left hand side is for tapping backward.  The top of the Kindle accesses the toolbar.

Kindle paperwhite


You can also swipe (as opposed to tap) to the right to go backward and to the left to go forward.  While in a book, if you execute a pinching movement with your fingers on the screen the font size will become smaller.  If you execute the reverse pinch or spread, the font size will become larger.

CON:  What Amazon should have included was the ability to swipe upward or downward to change the screen brightness because other than forward tapping, that is probably the most used function.  Dear Amazon, please make that happen in the next software update.

 The toolbar

The toolbar appears whenever you tap the top part of the screen.  The toolbar is basically the same regardless of whether you are at the home screen or in a book.  Here you will be able to go home; adjust your screen brightness, search content or access the menu.  The menu is contextual which means it changes according to where you are.

  • At the home screen, menu options include Shop Kindle Store, View Special Offers, List or Cover View, Create New Collection, Sync and Check for Items, Settings, and Experimental Browser.
  • In a book, menu options include Portrait or Landscape Mode, Sync to Furthest Page Read, Book Description, Add Bookmark, View Notes & Marks, Reading Progress, and About the Author 

the paperwhite toolbar

CON:  When you access About the Author or Book Description, it actually takes you to the Amazon store which takes about 5-6 seconds depending on your internet connection. I find that to be a pain.  It should open a popup screen that includes the book cover, the book description, and maybe length.  Amazon’s previous Kindles did not direct you to the store and I find it irritating to be redirected because of the time it takes to access and load the store from the internet rather than pulling text from the book’s metadata.

The other feature I don’t like is that there is no easy way to see the cover.  That should be an option under “Go To” for every book but it’s not.  This may be publisher dependent but Amazon should enforce some quality controls for its book.  For instance, Christine Bell’s Down for the Count from Entangled had the cover, but Leisl & Po published by HarperCollins did not.

The light

The big thing about the Kindle Paperweight is the screen and the integrated light.  This is the best screen and integrated light on an ebook reader I have ever seen.  With the light on bright, the device’s screen contrast is sharp making the page indeed look white.  When the Kindle sleeps, the light turns off, but it remembers what setting you had the light at when you wake the Kindle up.

At night, the lowest setting is nice and low and isn’t disturbing to anyone in bed with me.  The light washes up from the bottom.  This creates an uneven disbursement that is most noticeable when you have a big contrast between the room lighting and the lighting on the device.

This image is of the screen in normal ambient light with the light setting at the highest.  It appears more white than in the picture:

paperwhite in normal room light

Click for larger image

This is the bottom of the screen with the light at the highest level in a completely dark room:

screen lights at the bottom

Click for larger image

This is the bottom of the screen with the light at the lowest level in a completely dark room:

Click for larger image

The battery life

Amazon says that this device has an eight week battery life if you read 30 minutes a day.  I read for three days on a full charge and read 4 books, two of them category books.  I figure I will need to charge my device twice a week but likely I will charge it every night because that is what I do with my iPhone.

The Kindle Cover

The reason to buy the Kindle Cover over others is because, like the iPad and Apple’s iPad cover, the Kindle will go to sleep with the cover closed and wake up when you open the cover.  However the cover adds bulk and makes it less pocketable.


If you’ve been waiting to upgrade to a new Kindle, this is the one you want to get. The screen is the best I’ve seen on an eink device. It’s the right size, making it easy to carry in your purse or backpack or bag.  There are definitely areas in which I would like to see Amazon improve upon but those are software changes that could be made.  I’m giving it as a gift to upgrade an old Kindle I bought my mother a couple of years ago.

One large caveat to the Kindle Paperwhite is that it no longer allows you to listen to audio books or music on the device.  The device is not accessible to the hearing impaired because the menus have no text to speech option and there is no sound capabilities on the device.