PSA: Good e-Reader Fact-Check

PSA: Good e-Reader Fact-Check DeBunking It has come to my attention that there is still some doubt as to whether a certain blog has a reputation for being less than reliable with its reporting of “exclusive” hardware rumors.

In the interest of settling the issue once and for all, this blog post will be used to document the many, many, many times that Good e-Reader reported a rumor that did not come true.

This post aspires to be comprehensive but it is a work in progress, and more examples will be added over time. I would appreciate any help you can provide.

O O O

In November 2015 that blog claimed Amazon would release the Kindle Voyage 2 that month. Fact check: No such device was launched.

In September 2015 that blog claimed Amazon would release the Kindle Voyage 2 that month. Fact check: No such device was launched.

In February 2018, that blog copied another blogger’s story lamenting the lack of a Kobo mini, and four hours later claimed that Kobo was seriously considering releasing a Kobo mini 2. Fact check: No such device was launched.

In March 2014 that blog claimed the Paperwhite would have a flexible screenFact check: Amazon didn’t mention it in the press release or on the product page.

In April 2018 that blog claimed the Paperwhite 4 would have a color-changing “comfortlight” frontlight.  Fact check: This never happened.

In 2016 that blog used my April Fools Day joke as the source for an exclusive story that Amazon was developing a Kindle with a Liquavista screenFact check: No such device was ever launched.

In April 2014 that blog claimed that Sony and Kobo were collaborating on a 6″ ereader with a flexible screen. Fact check: No such device was ever launched.

In May 2011 that blog claimed that Amazon would allow Epub on the Kindle. Fact check: This never happened.

Earlier today (24 December 2018) that blog copied another blogger’s speculation about whether Amazon will release another premium Kindle and reported that the Kindle Voyage 2 is going to be released on 2019Fact check: Undetermined.

 

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How to be a Better Podcast Guest

How to be a Better Podcast Guest interview Podcast

Virtually every marketing expert agrees that if you want to get your message out there in 2018, podcasts are the way to go. We’re told we need to launch our own podcasts, or at the very least be frequent guests on podcasts.

This is all very well and good, but how exactly do you go about being a guest on a podcast? How do you make sure that the resulting episode is both fun for listeners and achieves your goals*?

While that might be an obvious question to some, I’m surely not the only one who feels like he is flailing around in the dark. Over the past 18 months I have been a guest on a half-dozen podcasts, and even though I tried to prepare for each interview and studied up on how to be a guest on a podcast, I still had to learn almost everything the hard way.

The following post details a few of the things I wish I had known before my first guest spot.

Edit: BTW, this was and is an uphill climb for many of us, so if you have any hard won lessons, can you share them in the comments?

Let’s start with the technical side, where I have learned a couple key lessons: Make sure you have good equipment, and set aside time to run a “mike check” before each guest spot.

Gear

Before your schedule first guest spot, you need to invest in hardware.

The equipment you will need will vary between podcasts, and will range from a smartphone with decent audio to a webcam and/or a headset.

The first thing you should invest in is a headset with a noise-cancelling microphone.

You’re probably thinking that the microphone on your webcam will be enough, or that a lapel mike will do, but I had audio issues during one of my guest spots because my speakers were conflicting with my lapel mike. I don’t understand the technical issues, but I do know that the right headset would have solved them.

My headset costs $24 on Amazon. (The lapel mike cost $30, which just goes to show that trying to save money by buying less equipment can actually cost you more.)

Once you have that headset, it’s time to get a better webcam. Podcasts are primarily an audio format, but a lot of them are now recorded as video or even streamed live.

This is why you should get a decent-quality webcam. The webcam on your average laptop ranges from adequate to “is that a nipple”, and that is more than enough for talking over Skype but not enough for a podcast. I had to learn this the hard way during my first podcast guest spot. It went okay, but if I had known that I would be on video I would have gotten a webcam before rather than after.

My webcam was made by Logitech and costs $50.

Dry Run

Once you have your equipment, be sure to store it properly. Then whenever you have a guest spot, set up your equipment in advance and make sure everything works. Ideally you should arrange with the host of the podcast to have a dry run the week before your guest spot. (This is doubly important for any live-streamed spots.)

If the host doesn’t propose the dry run, you need to suggest it.

If there is one aspect that is consistent across all my podcast guest spots, it is that testing the equipment ten minutes ahead of time revealed problems that I couldn’t actually fix in ten minutes. The best I could do is cope with the problem, and then fix it the next day. For example, if I had scheduled a dry run a week in advance then I would have had the webcam and headset when I needed them.

To be honest, most of the technical issues were merely nuisances, but I wish I had fixed them in advance rather than afterwards.

Listen to the Podcast

In addition to performing a dry run, you should also take some time to listen to several episodes of the podcast. Learn what you can about the hosts, the show’s structure, and its focus.

Your goal is to understand how the podcast is run, and your role in the operation. Are you going the subject of an interview, or will you be expected to provide color commentary on a topic? Will you be teaching the audience something new, or simply joining the host in conversation?

On second thought, maybe you should instead ask the host for the info. They may have a plan for the role you will play that differs from the one you gleaned from listening to the podcast. At the same time, talking to the host will also help you find out how much the host knows about your area of expertise and what the host thinks the audience will want to know.

Once you know the part you will play, ask yourself how you can best fill the role. If you are going to have a conversation, try to schedule a pre-interview so that you and the host can learn to talk to each other. If you are being interviewed, you might want to work out a list of questions for the host to ask you.

O O O

Here’s the thing: Most of the time you will only have the one chance to record a podcast episode. The host will be as busy as you are, and they won’t have the time to record a replacement episode if your episode is sub-par. (To be honest, their time would probably be better spent recording an episode with someone who hadn’t already muffed an episode.)

This means that you need to do all you can to make sure that the episode is great from the get-go. The prep work I mention above is the minimum required effort, and you should actually devote as much time to prepping as you can afford.

The time you spend on preparing for the podcast will pay off in the long run.

You just finished reading How to be a Better Podcast Guest which was published on The Digital Reader.

Morning Coffee – 21 December 2018

Morning Coffee - 21 December 2018 Morning Coffee

Here are a few stories to read this Friday morning.

  • If you think the Kindle Store is a mess with bots punishing innocent authors, go check out what The Verge says about Amazon’s Marketplace. 
  • David Kudler explains the difference between copyrights and licenses. 
  • Samuel Levy explains how WordPress Gutenberg went wrong: it wasn’t the tech so much as poor communication and other mismanagement by the people running the project. 
  • Craig Mod points out how the next evolution of the book wasn’t a change in content, as many expected, so much as a change in infrastructure and architecture. 
  • The US agency responsible for enforcing anti-counterfeiting laws doesn’t know the difference between copyright and trademark. 

 

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Kindle Create Updated With New Image Editing Support

Amazon sent out an email today detailing a few features recently added to Kindle Create. The app still can’t make a Kindle ebook that you can read on your Kindle (it can only make project files for you to upload in KDP) but  the email did point out a new feature that is in beta.

Kindle Create can now insert an image so that it is full-bleed. In print terms this means that the image would be printed to the edge of the paper, but when it comes to ebooks full-bleed means that the image will be displayed at the edge of a device’s screen.

Our new image formatting features allow you to insert, place, and resize images in the way that best suits your eBook. Learn more about Kindle Create, image handling features, and Early Access available in Kindle Create 1.12. You can also try out a new Early Access image bleed feature that enhances Kindle reading experience by extending the images to the edge of the device screens.

Kindle Create Updated With New Image Editing Support content creation e-Reading Software Kindle (platform)

I’ve been testing this feature for a while, and from what I can tell this is only available with reflowable Kindle ebooks, but not Kindle’s PDF format. Given that you can insert a full bleed image in your source PDF before loading that PDF into Kindle Create, that is no big deal.

I haven’t had a chance to test the full-bleed image on an actual Kindle app or ereader, but I did confirm in the previewer that the image did appear to stretch from one edge of the screen to the other.

Unfortunately it is a both or none situation; you can’t have the image at one edge of the screen and not the other. Also, using this feature locks the ebook into a portrait orientation, a good trade off given that the image is so much large than before.

Remember, most of the images in a Kindle ebook are affected when the user changes the margin settings, but the full-bleed images are not. One of the benefits of this option is that it means that the image won’t shrink to illegibility when a user switches to the max margin setting.

You can find out more about Kindle Create in KDP’s support pages. The info is rather sparse.

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For the First Time in nearly 20 years, Copyrights Will Expire in the US

For the First Time in nearly 20 years, Copyrights Will Expire in the US Intellectual Property

The problem with copyright law – particularly in the US –  is that people keep wanting to profit off of that which they did not create.

This is why we have things like the Berne convention, why deep-pocketed media companies bought extensions to the US copyright term no fewer than 3 times in the past fifty years, and why the US uses trade deals to pressure other countries into extending copyright terms to death plus 70 years.

This has left some of us despairing at the idea that no work will ever enter the public domain in the US ever again, but 1 January 2019 might be the turning point. The Atlantic notes that a cornucopia of works will be entering the public domain in the US in January.

For the first time in two decades, copyrights will actually expire in the US.

The Great American Novel enters the public domain on January 1, 2019—quite literally. Not the concept, but the book by William Carlos Williams. It will be joined by hundreds of thousands of other books, musical scores, and films first published in the United States during 1923. It’s the first time since 1998 for a mass shift to the public domain of material protected under copyright. It’s also the beginning of a new annual tradition: For several decades from 2019 onward, each New Year’s Day will unleash a full year’s worth of works published 95 years earlier.

This coming January, Charlie Chaplin’s film The Pilgrim and Cecil B. DeMille’s The 10 Commandments will slip the shackles of ownership, allowing any individual or company to release them freely, mash them up with other work, or sell them with no restriction. This will be true also for some compositions by Bela Bartok, Aldous Huxley’s Antic Hay, Winston Churchill’s The World Crisis, Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Pigeons, e.e. cummings’s Tulips and Chimneys, Noël Coward’s London Calling! musical, Edith Wharton’s A Son at the Front, many stories by P.G. Wodehouse, and hosts upon hosts of forgotten works, according to research by the Duke University School of Law’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain.

Other works entering the public domain include:

  • The Vanishing American in Ladies’ Home Journal, by Zane Grey
    One of the first literary critiques of the treatment of Native Americans; harsher than the later novel and silent film.
  • A Handbook of Cookery for a Small House, by Jessie Conrad
    A peek into the life of author Joseph Conrad via his wife’s recipe collection.
  • Our American Adventure, by Arthur Conan Doyle
    The creator of Sherlock Holmes recounts his popular (and controversial) lecture tour in support of Modern Spiritualism.
  • The Chip Woman’s Fortune, by Willis Richardson
    The first drama by an African-American author produced on Broadway; a one-act story of a family in financial straits.
  • Nebraska in The Nation, by Willa Cather
    She laments the cultural and economic homogenization in her beloved state.
  • The Real Story of a Bootlegger, by Anonymous
    The purportedly honest account of life as a criminal under the 18th Amendment: “Prohibition made me a millionaire.”

Smithsonian

image  by 2bmolar via Flickr

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Facebook Helped Other Tech Companies (Such as Amazon) Spy On You Better

Facebook Helped Other Tech Companies (Such as Amazon) Spy On You Better Amazon Security & Privacy

There may not be any honor among thieves, but there is certainly a collegial quid pro quo among tech companies.

The NYTimes published a story yesterday that explained just why Facebook was so good at knowing what you bought on Amazon and how Amazon knew all your FB friends. It turns out that Facebook has been illegally sharing your data with a whole bunch of companies.

For years, Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules, according to internal records and interviews.

The special arrangements are detailed in hundreds of pages of Facebook documents obtained by The New York Times. The records, generated in 2017 by the company’s internal system for tracking partnerships, provide the most complete picture yet of the social network’s data-sharing practices. They also underscore how personal data has become the most prized commodity of the digital age, traded on a vast scale by some of the most powerful companies in Silicon Valley and beyond.

The social network allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.

The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.

When countries do this, we call it spying, and there is at least some political oversight. But when tech companies do it, they try to keep it as secret as possible, claiming that it is completely legal and above board.

And yet for some reason they won’t tell users what is being shared, and it’s not even clear that regulators know exactly what data was passed or if Facebook’s conspirators (such as Hauwei, Yandex, and Amazon) used it legally.

Hell, there’s evidence that even Facebook doesn’t know how its partners used the data. Several say they were never audited by FB.

Furthermore, these partnerships were almost certainly illegal:

Data privacy experts disputed Facebook’s assertion that most partnerships were exempted from the regulatory requirements, expressing skepticism that businesses as varied as device makers, retailers and search companies would be viewed alike by the agency. “The only common theme is that they are partnerships that would benefit the company in terms of development or growth into an area that they otherwise could not get access to,” said Ashkan Soltani, former chief technologist at the F.T.C.

Mr. Soltani and three former employees of the F.T.C.’s consumer protection division, which brought the case that led to the consent decree, said in interviews that its data-sharing deals had probably violated the agreement.

“This is just giving third parties permission to harvest data without you being informed of it or giving consent to it,” said David Vladeck, who formerly ran the F.T.C.’s consumer protection bureau. “I don’t understand how this unconsented-to data harvesting can at all be justified under the consent decree.”

When I first read the headline I wondered what law Facebook had broken this time. By the time I got to the end of the piece I wondered if it might be easier to instead list the ones they hadn’t broken.

On the upside, this story did inspire me to invent a new party game. You play it by thinking up the worst possible thing for Facebook could have done and then try to guess how long we’ll have to wait before we find out that Facebook already did it last year.

My entry in this game is that some time in the next 6 months we’ll find out Facebook has a data-sharing agreement with the Saudi gov’t, and that the FB data was used to target Jamal Khashoggi for assassination.

I know I have a reputation for being inflammatory, but let’s not forget that data is Facebook’s stock in trade, and that FB has a record of sharing your data with just about everyone. Hell, Facebook even knew it was selling ads to the Russian government that influenced the 2016 election; what makes you think they didn’t pass data to the Saudis?

image by Book Catalog via Flickr

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Morning Coffee – 19 December 2018

Morning Coffee - 19 December 2018 Morning Coffee

Here are a few stories to read this Wednesday morning.

You just finished reading Morning Coffee – 19 December 2018 which was published on The Digital Reader.

USA Today: The US Book Industry Lost More Jobs in the Past Decade

USA Today: The US Book Industry Lost More Jobs in the Past Decade Publishing

The internet has made many jobs redundant in much the same way that the word processor made the typing pool a thing of the past, and nowhere is that more true that in the book industry.

USA Today just published a list of industries that lost the most employees over the last decade, and the various parts of the book industry made the list no fewer than three times as positions go the way of the buggy whip.

 

24. Book and periodical merchant wholesalers

• Employment change 2008-17: -37.6%
• Employment total: 36,184
• Wage growth 2008-17: +7.9%
• Avg. annual wage: $44,372

Book and periodical merchant wholesalers is one of many industries that has been hit hard by the rise in the digital media industry. As people increasingly read their book, magazine, and newspaper content online, book and periodical wholesales are seeing reduced demand from retailers. With the industry in decline, employment has dropped 37.6% over the past decade.

13. Book stores and news dealers

• Employment change 2008-17: -43.3%
• Employment total: 81,003
• Wage growth 2008-17: +22.5%
• Avg. annual wage: $38,779

With the growing use of digital media, from newspapers to magazines to books, as well as growing competition from online retailers, the book retailing industry has taken a battering. Amazon has about 50% of the U.S. market book market share, while the largest brick-and-mortar book retailer, Barnes & Noble, has about 20%. One in eight Barnes & Noble locations have shuttered in the past seven years. Overall, employment in the book stores and news dealers industry has declined by 43.3% from 2008 to 2017

12. Support activities for printing

• Employment change 2008-17: -44.2%
• Employment total: 23,920
• Wage growth 2008-17: +126.6%
• Avg. annual wage: $52,346

Support activities for printing is yet another industry struggling due in part to increased digitization – employment decline in the industry over the past decade was one of the largest. Fewer than 24,000 Americans remain working in the support activities for printing industry, down from nearly 43,000 in 2008. The industry includes book binding, embossing, and engraving. But books, magazines, and stationary are quickly being replaced with online versions of the products.

Automation, outsourcing, and the changing technological landscape are expected to cost these industries even more jobs in the future. Martin Kohli, chief regional economist for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, said that in the next decade publishing jobs will likely continue to decline. “Our 10 year projections did show continued shrinkage in print publishing,” Kohli said.

That cold draft you just felt isn’t from the gaps around the door; it’s the Grim Reaper, coming for your job.

image by Sigfrid Lundberg via Flickr

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Apple Releases New Apple Books Affiliate Marketing Toolbox

Apple Releases New Apple Books Affiliate Marketing Toolbox iBooks

One of Amazon’s great strengths in the book market and elsewhere is its affiliate program. It’s just easier to use an Amazon affiliate link than to use one linking elsewhere, but now Apple is getting in on that game.

Apple launched a new Apple Books Marketing Toolbox today for members of its Affiliate Program. The new marketing toolbox includes a variety of marketing assets to make it easier for affiliates to earn commission, as we as a new audiobooks widget. Apple explained in an email to its affiliates that the new Toolbox included features such as easy access to assets in 26 languages, support for content search to make generating affiliate links easier, and more.

This new suite of tools makes it easy for affiliates to find a wide variety of marketing assets and earn commissions on books and audiobooks available on Apple Books. We also have an exciting and useful new Audiobooks Widget tool as part of the suite that partners can begin using today for immersive audio integrations.

  • Access marketing assets in 26 languages for all countries where Apple Books is live
  • Search for books content and instantly grab embed codes for easy linking
  • Input your affiliate and campaign tokens to track clicks and transactions
  • Shorten the URL into an apple.co link so it’s branded and ready to share on social media

Apple has also introduced a new audiobooks widget. This allows affiliates to create an audiobook preview and embed audio excerpts on websites:

The Apple Books Toolbox has a useful new feature that allows anyone to quickly create interactive audiobook preview widgets. Choose any audiobook available on Apple Books, customize the dimensions, and you’re ready to display fun and beautiful audio excerpts on your own website.

The Apple Books Marketing Toolbox is supposed to be accessible here. I am unable to visit the page, however.

9to5Mac

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