books Stories February 12

Between iCloud storage and Apple Music to the App Store and iTunes, there’s certainly no shortage of ways to give Apple your money for digital goods. New subscription services are rumored to debut this year, too, including Apple’s first original video content service and a separate service that integrates digital magazines in Apple’s News app based on Apple’s Texture acquisition. There’s even a rumored App Store game subscription service. The lesson here may be that if there’s a digital good you can pay Apple for once, there’s likely an opportunity for a subscription service for that category with recurring payments.

Digital books would qualify, and Apple would hardly be the first to rent ebooks for a monthly fee. My colleague Ben Lovejoy wrote last year that Apple’s Texture acquisition highlighted the opening for an Apple ebook subscription service modeled after Kindle Unlimited. We’ve since seen iBooks become Apple Books with a redesigned app user interface, but no ‘Netflix for books’ yet. Personally, I would love to pay Apple to stream audiobooks — and the service could have features that audiobooks in Apple Books doesn’t offer today.

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books Stories December 10, 2015

Originally launched as a way to vote on new technology products, Product Hunt has since greatly expanded to include media like podcasts and books as well as games and other content. Product Hunt rolled out a visually refreshed home page a couple weeks back to reflect the evolution, and today the service is unveiling a redesigned iPhone app with new features to match…

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Sylvania HomeKit Light Strip

books Stories March 31, 2015

Apple has only sanctioned a small set of App Store apps to support its CarPlay feature with Audio Books for iPhone today joining that limited list. The latest version of Audio Books adds integration with CarPlay head units for easily finding audiobooks to play through your car stereo on your drive. expand full story

books Stories March 5, 2015

EU court says ebooks aren’t books, must be subject to higher tax rates

Europe’s top court has declared that ebooks are ‘services’ rather than books, and that European countries are not allowed to give them the same favorable tax treatment as paper books. The reasoning, such as it is, is that ebooks cannot be used without a physical device, and ebooks are a service provided to those devices.

Both France and Luxembourg have applied to ebooks the same reduced rate of VAT (sales tax) enjoyed by books made from crushed trees. The WSJ reports that the EU has ruled that this is illegal.

Since 2012, France has applied a 5.5% VAT rate and Luxembourg a 3% VAT rate on e-books, the same rate as for paper books. The European Court of Justice said both countries must apply their normal VAT rate, which for France is 20% and for Luxembourg is 17%.

Europe already closed one ebook-related tax loophole: Amazon used to use its Luxembourg base as a reason to charge just 3% on ebook sales throughout Europe, but a change in the law forced it to apply the VAT rate applicable to the customer’s own country.

There is some small hope that sanity may prevail in future. The European Commission has said that there may be legal mechanisms through which countries can in future define their own policies, with an “extensive overhaul” of VAT rules to be completed next year. However, don’t be surprised if ‘harmonization’ of tax rates for paper and digital books results in higher taxes on the former to pay for lower taxes on the latter …

Apple of course had its own legal troubles around ebooks, with its pricing model found to amount to anti-competitive practices.

Via Engadget

books Stories December 15, 2014

Amazon pushed out an updated version of its Kindle for iOS app today bringing a list of new features to the reading app.

Kindle for iOS now includes integration with Goodreads, the social cataloging service it bought last year, allowing readers users to share book progress and completion status, quotes, and more Kindle to Goodreads. iPad Kindle app users now have access to Amazon’s Book Browser to view book descriptions and customer ratings; Kindle Unlimited customers (30-day free trial) can download books directly from the Book Browser. The new version also adds a feature called Audible Progressive Play, which allows audiobook listeners using the Amazon-owned Audible service to play content as it downloads.

The update also adds new ways for users to access information and details about Kindle books. Check the extensive change log of the latest version below for more information: expand full story

books Stories September 29, 2014

Kindle & Facebook Messenger updated for iPhone 6 support

The list of updated apps for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus is still somewhat small since developers only learned of the new iPhone display resolutions earlier this month. The Kindle iPhone app from Amazon is joining that short list today, though, with a new version optimized for the iPhone 6.

That means that like iBooks, text you read in Kindle’s iPhone app won’t be fuzzy or scaled up. If you prefer the zoomed up version, however, iPhone 6 users do have that option to make every app larger using the Display Zoom feature found in the accessibilities section of the Settings app on iOS.

Kindle’s previous added a handy widget in Notification Center’s Today view for quickly accessing books you’re reading. Kindle for iOS is available for free on the App Store.

Facebook Messenger has also been updated for the new iPhone models. Notably, the chat app has beat the primary app for the social network in updating for the new iPhones.

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