back to article Chinese tat bazaar Xiaomi to light a fire under Amazon's Kindle with new e-book reader

Another day, another pie, another finger. Chinese retailer Xiaomi is believed to be working on a new e-reader after references to the upcoming product appeared on the website of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. The kit – dubbed the Xiaomi Mi Ebook Reader – was spotted as being certified by the Bluetooth SIG, with the …

  1. Cuddles Silver badge

    "it would be entering a sector dominated by three competing powers: Amazon, Rakuten's Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. These firms have largely divvied up the e-reader market between them, leaving little room for a fourth player."

    As long as ebooks are sold in an open format, there's no such thing as "divvying up the e-reader market". A new player entering the market with a reader that works with the books people already have doesn't have any disadvantage compared to the established companies. It's no different from a new company deciding to sell something like speakers - it can play all your music just as well as anyone else, so where' the problem? Obviously name recognition and brand loyalty exist, but history has shown over and over again that they're not enough to prevent companies establishing themselves in an existing market.

    The only slight problem is that Amazon prefers not to use an open book format, so people already stuck in their ecosystem have a strong incentive not to move. But Xiaomi could easily take significant market share from the other two, especially given that they're already a better known brand in many places.

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Few books are sold in an open format

      I assume you mean EPUB which is basically just a zipped up subset of HTML, JS and CSS in a particular layout. But it supports DRM and most purchased content is DRM'd. The DRM can differ from one vendor to the next so Apple EPUB files are DRM'd with Fairplay whereas Kobo EPUB files are DRM'd with Adobe Digital Editions.

      BTW I'm aware there are some DRM-free EPUB vendors out there selling mostly niche content but they don't represent much of the market and probably never will.

      Fortunately Adobe Digital Editions is relatively easy to remove using a Calibre plugin and I think it's prudent that the first thing anyone does with a new book is strip the DRM and back it up somewhere. I don't know if Apple's DRM can be stripped but it shows how even using an "open" format is no guarantee of owning the work or being to read it on unblessed devices.

      Amazon's own format used to be a standard called MOBI but has morphed into a proprietary AZW format. There are Calibre DRM removers for that too but I don't know how well they work.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Few books are sold in an open format

        "As long as they are sold in an open format" AND unemcumbered by DRM crap.

        But I'd also want to know 'why android?' (given that Kobo's android implementation isn't a patch on the reader software); 'does it work without a full time connection to Xiaomi?' and 'will it be allowed to load/display random EPUBs?'

        btw - I recently discovered Lithium as an android ereader. It seems not to mind how many books are on the device; Kobo refused to load the last few of about 1300...

        1. stuartnz

          Re: Few books are sold in an open format

          " Kobo refused to load the last few of about 1300..."

          That's surprising to me. My Kobo (Aura H202) is now down to around 1300 books on it, from a peak of nearly 2100. It wasn't lightning fast, but all of them opened OK. Others have many more than that on their Kobos too.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Few books are sold in an open format

            Sorry, I explained myself badly: the kobo reader device is fine with these books on it; the Kobo app on the phone refused to load those last few with no reason given other than 'couldn't'. Lithium raised no objections.

            1. stuartnz

              Re: Few books are sold in an open format

              Thanks for the clarification, that's very useful to know.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Few books are sold in an open format

        Depends on the country. In my country (EU) 99% of all e-books are sold DRM-free. Also the titles which can be found in other major stores with the DRM-shit.

      3. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Few books are sold in an open format

        Yes and no. I use a Kindle but I won't buy 'expensive' books for it, for those I'll get hard copy since it costs about the same and I get to have something that won't get erased and I can lend. The Kindle is used mostly for collections of older stories, classics that would be a nuisance to store.

        (Its the same with music. I can't see any point in paying for compressed music or even uncompressed music (which costs a lot more). I'll just buy the CD.)

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Few books are sold in an open format

          Yes. I'd far rather have the actual CD or DVD or paper book than putative 'access' to its contents at someone else's whim.

          I do appreciate that this is not the modern paradigm but I've been around sixty years and watched paradigms come and go...

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Kindle eBooks

      Apprentice Alf plugin on Calibre. Some people read Amazon ebooks on Kobo ereaders.

      Also Amazon's KFX is evil. Download for "transfer via USB", never direct on the Kindle so you have a backup and don't get KFX. Amazon add DRM to KFX even when the Publisher selects "no DRM". The AZW format (KF8) is better. Also Amazon sells "Kindle" ebooks that are really like a PDF that only work on phones, tablets and PC/Mac; they don't work on a real Kindle ereader.

  2. Flywheel Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Would you want the CCP to see your reading list? No thanks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Every Reader comes with Mao's little red book, and the party's required reading list. Books not on the approved list are unavailable to download. Winnie the Pooh is banned.

      Thank you citizen for your compliance...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        At least the arch-capitalist would never delete books from your kindle

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      Well, that would kind of depend on what you read, wouldn't it ?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Conspiracy nonsense. Really you're better than this.

    4. John Bailey

      As opposed to America, where (to paraphrase a Bill Hicks story), you get put on a "what you readin for" list?

      Looks like I know where my next e-book reader is coming from. My e-book library is quite extensive, and 100% DRM free already. And I'm quite pleased with the quality of the Xiaomi gear I already own.

  3. Jan 0 Silver badge

    Bazaar?

    I thought Xiaomi was a tat maker. Tat bazaars like Amazon and Banggood sell Xiaomi's tat.

    Aside: I pronounce tat as "tut", is this normal in the UK?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bazaar?

      "Aside: I pronounce tat as "tut", is this normal in the UK?"

      Depends on where you are. No-one I know does, but Alan Sugar does, so it might be a regional thing.

    2. Empire of the Pussycat

      Re: Bazaar?

      i believe tat derives from one meaning of 'tatty', and is tat as in bat, not tut as in but

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Bazaar?

        Diyne sythe, and away from the blessed county of Yorkshire, they seem to pronounce 'tat' and 'tut' the same anyway...

      2. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Bazaar?

        I thought Tatties were potatoes

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Bazaar?

      > I thought Xiaomi was a tat maker.

      They make some good stuff, like phones and headphones but they also rebrand a lot of crap - stick it in a plain white box and see if it sells

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: stick it in a plain white box

        Oh, you mean like Apple then. So both are 'tat' resellers. Nice to know.

    4. HarryBl

      Re: Bazaar?

      They sell excellent value for money phones and also a brilliant electric toothbrush that lasts a month on one charge unlike the Oral thing which needs recharging once a week.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bazaar?

        >>unlike the Oral thing which needs recharging once a week.

        Fnar.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bazaar?

      I think they're a tat bazaar in the sense that they are not "makers" as such, they just sub-contract (possibly to those that sub-sub-contract and those to sub-sub-sub level), and then slap their logo on the subbed product, and flog it on aliexpress and such under their own brand.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bazaar?

        So just like Apple, eh?

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Bazaar?

          You really had to post that sentiment twice? And by the way, it's not really true. Apple designs all their equipment, then subcontracts the manufacturing. Xiaomi does some of that, but a lot of their stuff isn't done that way. For example, they are somewhat well-known for their wearable fitness trackers, and they don't design any fitness trackers. Instead, the company called Huami does that, both for their own brands and for Xiaomi. Neither of these models of doing business is necessarily bad; whether it's Xiaomi or Huami making the trackers, people seem to like them, but they're not the same strategy.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Headmaster

            Re: Bazaar?

            >>You really had to post that sentiment twice?

            You know AC isn't the same person, right??

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Bazaar?

              Yes, but given that the sentiment, phrasing, and timing was so similar between the posts, I figured it was likely. Especially as the idea was both wrong and rather unrelated--after all, Apple doesn't make devices like this, so they're not that relevant to the discussion.

    6. Fr. Ted Crilly

      Re: Bazaar?

      Depends, if you are a tongue tied NZ'er then all consistent bets (buts, bits,?) are off :-D

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a kobo

    It's great. The best bit is the internal storage is a micro sd card. So you can pop the back, and clone the card, so instead of a 2gb reader you have 64gb.

    Then you side load books with Calibre. Humble Bundle is great for buying them.

    What I really want is an android derived reader, so I can use the various reader apps like the play store, kindle, kobo and so on on one device. In theory, you can run android on a kobo, I've just not got around to doing it.

    Other fun things people are doing is plugging a gps into the serial port on the main board, and using it as a instrument panel on a microlight.

    1. NATTtrash Silver badge

      Re: I have a kobo

      ...using it as a instrument panel on a microlight.

      Yes, seen that too. Looks pretty cool. I myself am still thinking about having a go at "solarising" a Kobo (https://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-charging-ereader/ ).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have a kobo

      So what? I have a Kindle Paperwhite, it's great, waterproof etc

      You're not talking about Xiaomi, you're just wanking off about a device you purchased.

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: I have a kobo

      Android's point is the GUI for OLED/LCD and the App Engine.

      There is no point on using Android on a dedicated ereader, especially eink; that suggests lazy inept developers.

      Also most apps won't work well with eink. A phone or tablet is cheaper and complementary to a decent ereader. I rarely use the Browser search on the Kindle or Kobo, it's nearly as fast to wake the tablet, connect it to Wifi and browse than just for the Wikipedia or Google to start loading on eink. Then actual browsing on eink is rubbish, though the older Kindle FW that paginated the web pages worked better than scrolling.

  6. DiViDeD Silver badge

    Is there a point to eReaders that I'm missing?

    I've always used a tablet with the excellent Moon+ Reader software for my eBooks. Paper white rather than muddy grey, smooth scrolling and acres of DRM free content. Handles EPUB and MOBI (even PDF and Word doc & docx if you're that way inclined) formats, and it's always there. Admittedly my current TabA only holds a charge for around 3-4 days, but it's not like you're likely to be too far from a charging point these days (hecks, even my eBike has a charging port!), and you always have the option of looking up references or unfamiliar words on DDG.

    I was very interested in the idea of the rollup eReaders, but they never came to anything, and an eReader is going to take up the same space as a tablet anyway.

    1. Mark192 Bronze badge

      Re: Is there a point to eReaders that I'm missing?

      "Is there a point to eReaders that I'm missing?"

      Yes. It's lighter than a tablet, battery will last an entire holiday, readable in bright sunlight, if it has a backlight then that's sufficiently dimmable not to fry your eyes in the dark and 'just works'.

      I bought one for the Mrs but it sees little use now and the house is starting to fill up with books again.

      1. lybad

        Re: Is there a point to eReaders that I'm missing?

        You used to be able to argue that they were cheaper than a tablet, but with the Fire tablets, that's not true anymore.

        I used a paperwhite for years as it was convenient for on the bus - especially as some of the books I read are more coffee table books in print. However, since I've been working from home, I've been reading more graphic novels and less books, and the 10" Fire tablets are great for those. If I ever start commuting again, I suspect I'll go back to the Paperwhite again.

        Going back to the Kobo/Kindle thing - in the early days Kobo used to emphasise they felt if someone bought a book from them, they "bought" a book from them - so they were free to make backups, copy them to other devices, etc, whereas Amazon only licence the book to you - so if Amazon decide they don't like your face/money and close your account, you basically have the licence (to kill), revoked.

      2. stuartnz

        Re: Is there a point to eReaders that I'm missing?

        Most of the other replies have covered most of the key "points to eReaders", especially e-ink, which really IS all that for sustained reading, but there is one feature only mentioned in passing and by someone who doesn't see the need for it - that they are DEDICATED devices.

        An e-reader is (effectively), a single use device. Having gone through several iterations of Kindles before switching to Kobos, I know that both do allegedly have web browsers, but DIY dentistry is more fun and less painful than trying to use e-readers' browsers. Which is GREAT, actually.

        An ereader is for those people who want to "curl up with a good book" or two (thousand), and not have to worry about distractions from any other apps.They are especially great if you have any sort of physical impediments which make paper books difficult and/or unappealing to use. The Count of Monte Cristo was a delight to read (more than once) on my Kobo, especially since I would struggle to hold such a large book in paper format. I gave my old Kindle Paperwhite to my octogenarian Dad and its simple single purpose functionality meant that he found it easy to get the hang of and enjoy using, unlike his cellphone, which ended up basically just being a tracking device for us to keep tabs on him as his memory became more erratic.

        So while they are undoubtedly niche products, it's a viable niche and a valuable one, although as the article suggests, whether it can accommodate another player remains to be seen

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is there a point to eReaders that I'm missing?

      "Paper white rather than muddy grey, smooth scrolling and acres of DRM free content. Handles EPUB and MOBI (even PDF and Word doc & docx if you're that way inclined)"

      Yeah, I email doc and pdf files to my kindle. Which, the Paperwhite, clue is in the name, it is white. And waterproof.

      You and other people annoy me by missing the e ink screen though. That's seriously the greatest difference.

      1. juice Silver badge

        Re: Is there a point to eReaders that I'm missing?

        > You and other people annoy me by missing the e ink screen though. That's seriously the greatest difference.

        Is it really that great a difference?

        I read books on my Samsung S10+. The screen's big enough, the resolution is high, and I can happily read for hours without worrying about battery life. And it's one less device to carry around, when (in pre-lockdown days) I merrily rode around various forms of public transport.

        Though TBH, I generally prefer white text on a black background, partly because I often read while settling down for the night with the bedroom light switched off. Then too, theoretically, it reduces the battery drain.

        Admittedly, I'm pretty flexible when it comes to e-reading - I started using ebooks back on Palm handhelds, starting with the Palm IIIxe.

        eInk? Colour? Pah. We had a 160x160 greyscale LCD screen, and we'd have to resync the entire device if the batteries died. And we were lucky... #yorkshireman

        That was then followed (for a long, long, long time) the T3, though that was eventually phased out in favour of a Nokia N800, and from there, I've generally just used AIReader on whatever mobile phone I had at the time!

        So, yeah. I don't really see the point in dedicated eInk readers. But I acknowledge I'm a special case :)

        Though if someone can make a sensibly priced A4-sized Android tablet, I'll be all over it like a kitten on catnip. There's a lot of magazines I'd love to re-read, but most tablets are either a bit too small or have a "cinematic" aspect ratio (e.g. 16:9) which makes reading 3:2-ratio content a PITA.

        (It's also mildly entertaining to see some of the more... optimistic prices for the T3 on Ebay. 200-odd quid? Yer having a giraffe!)

  7. Concrete Gannet

    Can Xiaomi make a go where Sony gave up?

    Sony withdrew from the e-reader market in 2014. If they can't make a go of it, can Xiaomi?

    1. Tromos

      Re: Can Xiaomi make a go where Sony gave up?

      Sony were only in the market while e-readers could fetch three figure prices. I suspect Xiaomi might be aiming at a somewhat lower price point.

    2. brotherelf

      Re: Can Xiaomi make a go where Sony gave up?

      Don't they still do those huge 13" ones? Oh bugger… those were always on my "decadent toy when I win the lottery" bucket list.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Can Xiaomi make a go where Sony gave up?

        The big Sony Digital paper models are for paperless offices. You Print PDFs to them. I think most or maybe all don't actually support ebook formats. Also they can only be loaded/managed via the computer application. Doesn't appear as mass storage like Kindle / Kobo / Nook etc.

        Sony relied on their own bookstore. There are only a few niche brands today that don't, sadly. Sony customers were transferred to Kobo. Canadian Kobo's parent is Japanese Rakuten that also owns Viber, a decent alternative to Skype, Tencent's QQ and Whats App.

  8. Marco van de Voort

    Pocketbook

    There is also still pocketbook.

  9. Steve Graham

    Barnes & Noble

    Barnes & Noble withdrew from non-US markets several years ago. Customers who thought they had "bought" books were given the option of migrating them to another online commercial service.

    Fortunately, this customer had already removed the DRM and backed up his books.

    I still have the B&N Nook, and still use it. I have a lot of copyright-expired EPUBs on it, such as the complete Sherlock Holmes. It runs an ancient version of Android, so you can run some simple apps. The processor and memory are very limiting though, and in mine the battery is getting tired. I'd be in the market for a Xaiomi replacement if it was any good.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Barnes & Noble

      Or you could look at a Kobo Libra. The Xaiomi needs to be cheaper than a Paperwhite 4 / 2018 without adverts, a Kobo Libra and have a decent GUI to succeed.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Barnes & Noble

      Lineage on my 10" Nook colo(u)r plus

      Good for books AND porn

  10. Neoc

    What I want is an eInk reader that is little more than an android tablet with an eInk screen on which I can load the 3 or 4 reading apps I use. No bloatware, no "preferred app", no tied-in bookseller.

    1. Neoc

      For the record, I use to love my various KOBO readers... except for having to side-load any books not from Kobo. I am currently using a Samsung tablet simply so I can have my various reading apps (and a simple USB file-copy transfer of books).

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