Amazon revenue tops $10 billion, takes profits hit to invest in Kindle

Ugh, journalists are such useless idiots these days. They’re screaming today about Amazon’s profits drop as if it’s the end of all ecommerce as we know it. They should actually be shouting about Amazon’s revenue increase of 44 percent, to top the $10 billion mark. Sure, profits are down temporarily. But that’s because Amazon are taking a temporary loss to establish the Kindle and go head-to-head with Apple.

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Old people read faster on the Kindle

Old people are three times faster at reading than young people on ereaders, says new research from Germany. An interesting finding. But one might suspect they have: i) had a lot of practice at reading, ii) have had a lot of practice at skipping bits while keeping some level of comprehension, iii) have a bigger vocabulary so don’t pause on unfamiliar words, and iv) they have probably also ramped up the font size, leading to easier and thus faster reading.

Scivener 2 for Windows, due any week now

Scivener 2.1 for Windows should be landing fairly shortly. It’s one of the most acclaimed Mac suites for authors, and it certainly does look shiny and it gets good review mileage. It offers outliners, research snippet management, all the usual writing tools including daily wordage target-meters and snapshot-ing, and a variety of output options including ePub. It gets pretty good puffs from some big-name authors. The current free beta demo expires on 7th November, and the Scivener developers have promised a 2011 release for Windows. So a release sometime in early/mid November would seem like a good bet. It will cost just $40, and they accept PayPal. Sadly Kindle output seems clunky — via HTML output, then third-party post-processing with some alpha tools that are not yet even in version 1.0.

Only 50,000 Instapaper users on the Kindle

The Wall Street Journal covers the Instapaper service. Some statistics are revealed…

“So far, Arment says 50,000 people use the service this way [to send press article bundles to the Kindle] on any Kindle model.”

Only 50,000, out of all the Kindle users? That’s a tragedy. Such a vital service is not seeing more use than that? It should be in six figures by now, at the very least.

Kindle HTML5 support, Japan launch, ecosystem breakdown

By gosh, the Kindle news is coming thick and fast: The Kindle may launch in Japan before the end of the year (there may be potential to sell them wordless webcomics?); Business Insider breaks apart the Kindle ecosystem’s economics; an up-to $135 trade-in for your old Kindles; and Amazon announces HTML5 support in the Kindle…

“We’re pleased to announce a wide range of new features and enhancements – including HTML5 support – coming in Kindle Format 8 (KF8). KF8 is the next generation file format for Kindle books – replacing Mobi 7. As showcased on Kindle Fire, KF8 enables publishers to create great-looking books in categories that require rich formatting and design such as children’s picture books, comics & graphic novels, technical & engineering books and cookbooks. Kindle Format 8 replaces the Mobi format and adds over 150 new formatting capabilities, including fixed layouts, nested tables, callouts, sidebars and Scalable Vector Graphics, opening up more opportunities to create Kindle books that readers will love.”

A list of the supported new Kindle KF8 markup tags is here. Quite how many of these will make it to the standard eReader Kindle 3 & 4 is open to debate. I suspect most of the fancier tags will be for the Kindle Fire only.

Blurb adds ebooks

The quality photobook print-on-demand service Blurb has made its first move into ebooks. Although at the moment it’s only added tools for creating £1.49 ebook previews for the Apple iPad and iPhone. The new “single click” tool for this is embedded in Blurb’s existing bookmaking tools ‘Bookify’ and ‘BookSmart’. Adobe InDesign users who uploaded a PDF to the service are left out of the loop.

Doing footnotes on the Kindle

Mark Mason muses in The Spectator on the fate of the footnote in the Kindle. I recently hand-coded my Kindle ebook H.P. Lovecraft As Psychogeographer, New York City 1924-26 which had thousands of footnotes, using special round-trip links. But Mark rightly points out that we need some kind of flag to indicate when a footnote link contains substantial additional commentary by the author…

“Can’t risk missing those, can you? So you have to look up each and every note, just in case. Or, as I’ve started doing, scanning the notes each time I start a new chapter and trying to remember which ones are proper and which I can ignore. All very cumbersome.”

Do Kindle coders need to a convention whereby links to ‘substantial’ footnotes are at least placed in bold?

Lulu.com now provides a pipe to the Nook

Excellent news for small publishers. Publishing with print-on-demand house Lulu.com now automatically gets you on the Nook ereader.

“Lulu has struck a deal with Barnes & Noble that will enable Lulu authors to sell their e-books through B&N’s Nook e-reader. Under the agreement, authors who have picked the “sell anywhere” option will automatically have their titles available through the Nook provided the e-book is done in the ePub format.”

Self-publishers and niche publishers with Lulu should check they have the “ebook” and “sell anywhere” option enabled on their books. However, watch that your prices match those on Amazon, as Amazon has been known to do automatic price-balancing if their system “spots” your book being sold at a different price elsewhere.

You also need to be aware that it only affects books that have been assigned an ISBN number via Lulu. Quite how you apply that to your standard ebook listing (print books and ebooks have separate entries in your Lulu control panel), and if you can do it for free, seems a bit a mystery — even on the forums.