Google goes after Apple in tablet education

Google revealed on Wednesday that it will soon begin selling and renting a "comprehensive" selection of educational textbooks. The textbook portion of Google's Play store is set to go live in August.

The announcement plays as a 1-2 punch from Google, which launched a tailored Google Play store experience emphasizing education. Once in place, the new textbooks initiative will allow students to rent books for six-month periods at discounted prices of up to 80 percent.

As with movies and books, educational titles will sync across devices and platforms, so you can swap between the tablet and the … Read more

Review: eBook Library for Mac helps you speed read using free eBooks

Though its name suggests a much more generalized purpose, eBook Library for Mac helps you perform only one specific task, which is practicing speed reading, using eBooks as a source.

We downloaded eBook Library for Mac and launched the self-contained binary without issue. When we read through the short but comprehensive Help file, we learned that the app requires a very specific format, plain text encoded in UTF-8. Through a menu item in the app we were brought to Project Gutenberg, a repository of hundreds of free public domain eBooks. We downloaded an eBook in the required format, and then … Read more

Review: NeoSoar provides an alternative eBook interface for your iPhone

NeoSoar attempts to create an alternative eBook platform on your iOS device that lacks many of the features needed to stand out on its own. While it is an effective tool in many ways, it looks a lot like iBooks but with many issues that neither iBooks nor Kindle have with their apps. The result is interesting, but uneven.

The audience for NeoSoar is likely limited to those who already have NeoSoar accounts online. The platform is designed to enable small and local bookstores to offer their own eBook platforms for users on their sites, and then funnel them into … Read more

Review: SpeakText for eBook loads and reads out eBook files on your phone

SpeakText for eBook is another in a long line of SpeakText apps that offer a useful text-to-speech tool in a dated and often confusing interface. While the core functionality of the app works well, it is often frustratingly hard to navigate and there are a number of limitations that will make the app less useful in certain situations.

There are two functions in SpeakText for eBooks. You can load an eBook into the app directly, choosing from anything in your documents folder, or you can type text into the interface and it will be read by the system voice. Both … Read more

It was Apple's way or the highway, e-book execs say

NEW YORK -- Two publishers testified this week that their e-book deals with Apple played a key role in their decisions to change digital book terms with Amazon and other retailers, giving weight to the government's antitrust case against Apple.

David Shanks, CEO of Penguin Group USA, and Carolyn Reidy, CEO of Simon & Schuster, said the price-matching clause in their contracts with Apple would have hurt them financially had they not also moved all other e-book retailers to a model where publishers set prices. The publishers had previously sold books at a heavily discounted rate on a wholesale … Read more

Here's the Justice Department's case against Apple

The Department of Justice has just released the 81-slide deck of its opening statements against Apple, as the two sides begin their first day in court.

The trial, which is expected to run about three weeks, kicked off Monday with opening statements from both sides. The DOJ says Apple colluded with publishers ahead of the 2010 launch of the iPad and iBookstore to raise prices on e-books. Apple is the staunch holdout among the others that the DOJ originally named in its complaint, but that have since settled.

Included in the slide deck are numerous e-mails between executives, pullouts from … Read more

Set up Reading Mode on the Galaxy Note 8

Using a tablet as an e-reader can save you money and lighten your load while on the go. Unfortunately, a lot of tablets aren't optimized for reading text for long periods of time (like e-books, RSS feeds, or just long Web posts) and may cause mild eyestrain. Luckily, the Galaxy Note 8 comes with a feature to help solve this issue: Reading Mode.

However, Reading Mode isn't turned on for all of your apps by tapping on the icon in the notification panel. Why doesn't this mode work in all apps by default? No idea, but fixing … Read more

Name your own price for fantasy e-book bundle

Read any good books lately? I know, e-book prices can make it tough to indulge your love of the printed word. That's why I'm jazzed to see that the folks at StoryBundle have cobbled together another great batch of books for whatever price you want to pay.

It's true! The Indie Fantasy Bundle includes six full-length novels (actually, eight, as two of the selections include the first two books in their respective series), and you get to decide how much you want to pay.

As you might suspect from the "indie" designation, these aren't … Read more

How to participate in the open-government movement

Four years from now, the government will still be partisan, public agencies will still operate out of public view, and citizens will still be excluded from participating in the decisions made by their representatives at all levels of government.

But just maybe, when the 45th president takes the oath of office in January 2017, political factions will be more willing to compromise for the good of everyone, agencies at all levels of government will be more transparent, and our elected and appointed representatives will be more willing to listen to and act upon our opinions and ideas about the challenges … Read more

Freebook Sifter finds Kindle freebies

E-books are all kinds of awesome. E-book prices? Not so much.

That's why I'm always on the lookout for freebies, relying on sites like Hundred Zeros to help me find gratis reading for my Kindle.

Lately I've been exploring another source: Freebook Sifter, a new site that lists over 35,000 no-cost books available from Amazon. It's not the prettiest site I've ever seen -- all links and text, no cover art or images -- but it definitely delivers on its promise.

When you first visit the site, you'll see a random listing of … Read more