Category Archives: eBooks

eReading: Kindle Paperwhite 2 vs. iPad mini retina


I bought the iPad mini with retina in late November 2013. I’m a long-time Kindle owner since the Kindle 2 and had the Kindle touch, Kindle 4 and the Kindle Keyboard. But swore I would just use the iPad mini and not get the Paperwhite. I broke down and got the Paperwhite for $139 — the price without ads.

Paperwhite Has the iPad mini Beat for Extended Reading

Size and Weight. And the size is perfect for ereading — I’m convinced. You don’t need the 8″ iPad mini screen unless you want to read oversized things like textbooks. Most of my reading is for fiction or other non-fiction that has very few illustrations so you don’t need a big screen.

E-Ink Screen. In exchange for not getting color, you get a screen that is probably best for your eyes compared to the typical computer or iPad screen. Lots of people who have iPads and iPhones still carry a Kindle to get this benefit.

Great Value.  I’m very impressed with what you get in the Paperwhite. The special side lighting works great to give you the perfect lighting in any situation. Touch responsiveness is much improved over the Kindle touch (I still wish they had page flip buttons like they used to on Kindle Keyboard and prior, but hey?).

But I Still Prefer the iPad mini with retina

Touch Responsiveness. I stopped using the Kindle touch because it was too slow and unresponsive. Responsiveness is now adequate on the Paperwhite 2 but I still find the touch experience far behind that effortless, immediate iPad touch responsiveness.

Color Highlights. I love and prefer the size of the Paperwhite for extended reading, but, for me,  the other advantages of the iPad mini with retina override that size preference. I like highlighting even in fiction and if I’m highlighting several things on a page I appreciate the ability to put those highlights in different colors. I’m sure I’m in the minority on this highlight thing though.

Better Screen. At $399 vs $139, the iPad mini better have a better screen than the Paperwhite. I love the crisp text on that screen. Even if it isn’t e-ink. My eye doctor may disagree.

Bottom Line

Advantages of the iPad mini retina for ereading:

  • Touch Responsiveness
  • Colored Highlights
  • Better Screen

Advantages of the Paperwhite 2 for ereading:

  • Size and weight is great for extended reading (over 30 minutes)
  • Special e-ink light is better for your eyes
  • Incredible value

Writing Kit is the best Writing App for iPad Right Now

The New Writing Requires New Tools

Writing, INKNOP-style. This blog is all about tools for independent knowledge professionals. If you are an INKNOP, as my friend, Mike Van Horn, likes to call us, you are running your own business. Among other things you need to market yourself. I consider blogging and eBook writing the two best ways to do your marketing, so I blog and tweet a lot about writing tools.

The reason this makes so much sense for a knowledge professional is that you are in the know in your specialty and you can show off that knowledge, help people and gain fans, even sales by sharing some of that precious knowledge you have in your head.

Researching while Writing. Since I’m in the technology field, my knowledge is deep but the playing field, players and tools are constantly on the move. It is rare that I don’t need to do some research in order to write a decent blog post. Since the whole world seems to be changing out from under us, you too might need to do some research when you write.

Writing is Changing. That brings us to Writing Kit for iPad (and iPhone/iPod Touch). As I’ve mentioned previously, writing itself is changing. Paper is no longer the primary output. Email has been king and still dominates. PDFs get sent around. People blog, tweet and lately lots of people are writing eBooks. It’s pretty wild. Word Processors still sometimes apply and some may never give up their love affair with Microsoft Word. But we are moving on.

Online All the Time. We live in a net-connected world. We work online a lot now and Writing Kit is designed for the online writer.

Laptops in Coffee Shops. We have moved from sitting at a desk to do our writing to just sitting somewhere. First with laptops that allow you to move around the house or go down to your local coffee house to write and research online.

Now iPads and iPhones. Now there is this big surge towards even thinner, lighter, smaller devices that fit us even better. The iPad is the brand new writing tool that is starting to take hold – and replace laptops for writing and research.

Writing Kit is designed for this new world and explicitly designed for the iPad. The iPad is big compared to an iPhone but small compared to the typical laptop. You operate the iPad with your fingers which means controls need to be bigger so you don’t really have room for multiple windows like you do on a laptop.

One App, Many Apps. This lack of screen real estate on iPad gives the advantage to a single multipurpose app for writing and online research. In this single-tasking, smaller screen, apps need to have mini-apps within or temporarily handoff tasks to other apps which can politely work with them.

Writing Kit is Leading the Way. The maker of Writing Kit figured this out faster than many others and has built this awesome app for what we need in our new world. The feature set is truly killer.

Killer Features:

  • Built-in Web Browser which uses Readability
  • Built-in Search (DuckDuckGo)
  • Deep integration with Instapaper
  • A URL Queue for saving links
  • Markdown to write easy, non-distracting shorthand HTML in your documents.
  • A great Markdown cheat sheet built-in
  • A really nice scrolling extra keyboard row
  • Gesture control of the cursor and indenting.
  • Outline navigation
  • Great monospaced fonts like Anonymous Pro, Inconsolata and Droid Sans Mono.
  • Terminology integration (cool dictionary and more)
  • A giant list of Open in… Apps
  • Dropbox, Text Expander, etc. of course

True, you may not always be writing and researching. maybe you can get by with iA Writer or Byline or another less powerful tool. But I recommend you hang out in Writing Kit a lot when writing on your iPad. It is more fun to bring iPad with or without a Bluetooth keyboard when out and about. Compared to the alternative of a laptop. Writing Kit does very well with an external keyboard in case you doubted it.

One man show, Anh Quang Do. Be afraid! Be very afraid. He is an amazing developer! And he writes so you get good documentation othrow to use the app. Check out his blog here. Other larger text writing app firms will catch on – one would think. So I’m hoping some judicious hiring is in the works. I have no complaints at all with how fast the features are rolling out, though. A big new 3.0 release came out in February and I wouldn’t be surprised by a 4.0 release in May or June.

You can buy Writing Kit for iPad and iPhone/iPod touch for $4.99. A great, great deal. If you like this post, you may want to check out: Writing on the iPad: Top Dropbox Text Editors. I continue my thinking about writing in my next post: Writing on Mac, iPad, iPhone – Best Apps. There are a couple more nice writing apps to include in your toolkit.

Why Knowledge Professionals Should Try iBooks Author Now

Independent Knowledge Professionals benefit greatly from writing eBooks. Writing a book puts you on the map as an expert in one stroke. Since you are a knowledge professional, you can also augment your income by selling knowledge products, especially eBooks. A small eBook purchase can be the starting point for a future full-service client. You’ll be writing non-fiction books, the kind that benefit most from graphics, charts and other engaging elements that old-style eBooks don’t provide.

I Thought iBooks Author Was for Textbooks. Not really. Actually, Apple says it is for lots of other kinds of books too. They are just leading with text books right now. Think reports, of the jaw-dropping variety. If you give one of these eBook reports away, you don’t even have to talk to Apple or give them a percentage.  You can post a link to your website or send it in an email.

Ebook Prep Sucks — Until Now. We’ve been stuck with arcane and limited tools to create eBooks. This patchwork quilt of marginal tools has been perfect for eBook prep specialists, but a nightmare for independent knowledge professionals who can’t spend all their spare time fiddling with unwieldy tech. Writing is hard and time-consuming as it is.

Apple’s new iBooks Author solves these problems. It is easy to use and lets you add tables, graphics and widgets to your eBooks. There is a catch in that the eBooks made by iBooks Author require an iPad for display. I’ll explain why that limitation isn’t something that should stop you.

System Requirements for iBooks Author. First the bad news, you need an iPad to display your eBook while it is in progress and you need a Macintosh running OSX Lion. If you already have an iPad and are running Lion, you are set. Otherwise, read on to see if it would be worth your while to upgrade and/or expand your technology now.

Compelling Reasons to Adopt iBooks Author Now. It’s the only end-user eBook creation tool. There are no other options if you want your eBook to look the least bit good short of spending a lot of money for it to be created in InDesign and even then it won’t look that good in the Kindle Format. There’s a new Kindle Format that is supposed to be good for media-rich eBooks, but there’s no creation tool for it yet. Cross that off your list.

Apple has leapt into the void here. If you are writing novels or non-fiction that doesn’t require illustration, you could scrape by using current tools if you could figure or hire them out. But knowledge professionals need to illustrate ideas with visuals. You can open up iBooks Author and start inserting graphics and more in a few minutes. The output on an iPad will be delightful.

Kindlestore vs. iBookstore. Right now Kindle books are the only game in town you say or may have heard. That’s true up to a point but that point of change is now. Even Amazon has started to abandon the lame eBook format (Mobi) they’ve been using and replaced it with what they are calling Kindle 8 which allows for decent graphics and interactivity (see above). Amazon released the Kindle Fire and broke all their own rules about how e-Ink is the best way to read books.

A lot of people compare the Kindle Fire to the Kindle Touch and like the Fire better for books because of the vivid color and responsiveness. I don’t think things will end well for e-Ink devices. They are niche devices in a world that is filling rapidly with full-featured iPhones, Android and Windows phones and iPads.

Ebooks Won’t Stop at Imitating Paper Books. Paper books are wonderful, but as we move to digital, other possibilities emerge that cannot be ignored. For example, iBooks Author lets you add glossary words in your eBooks. You get the most gorgeous glossary (with search) at the back of the book without any additional effort. And, automatically, the reader gets electronic flash cards that allow them to review and test their recall and comprehension. The eBooks you create for the iPad are truly eBooks. They are apps as well as books without you being a programmer — at all!

But, Shouldn’t You Wait and See? Maybe Apple will fall on its face this time. Don’t bet on it. The cost of waiting is that others will be there before you. Early adopters on this Apple juggernaut will be learning things as the technology rolls out. They will be looking tech savvy with eye-popping eBooks they’ve created themselves — running on the most desirable gadgets of our times.

Some technology is a pain and not worth adopting early. But, iBooks Author is made by Apple and is simple and easy. It is designed to be something anyone can pick up and use. I like blogging software like WordPress and recommend it to independent knowledge professionals, but iBooks Author is much more powerful yet as easy as using Pages or Keynote (Word or Powerpoint).

Resources. There is already a $4.99 eBook available that teaches you how to use iBooks Author. The title is iBooks Author: Publishing Your First eBook. The author is Maria Langer, an established tech writer who has written over 50 books. The moment iBooks Author was announced, Maria spent day and night and wrote, edited and prepared the book over a ten day period.

Even if you don’t have an iPad yet, you can check out Maria’s book or eBook and the materials and videos at This first version of Maria’s book is created with traditional tools to get the book in your hands as quickly as possible. She is working on a fancy iBooks 2 version but I recommend getting in on the ground floor now. Don’t wait for the fancy book. I plan to buy the iBooks 2 version for my iPad when it is available, but this chance to get a jumpstart on a new kind of eBook is too good to pass up.

Writing, Branding and Mining for eBook Gold

If you are an up and coming independent knowledge professional or an old-timer at the INKNOP game, you have good reason to be creating, giving away and selling information products of various kinds.

The new information product on the scene is the eBook. It used to be that you would write a book about something and invent yourself as the expert in your field. I’m not sure what percentage of independent knowledge professionals actually write traditional books, but it’s probably a significant chunk. It’s a bear to write a book though, especially one of any quality that would reflect well on you. Getting it published aint easy either.

But, that problem just went away. We now have eBooks, eReaders like the Kindle for $79 and millions of iPads, iPhones and other smart phones that are hungry for content.

Almost overnight, there’s a rush of eReaders and Amazon is selling more eBooks than they are paper books.  The times they are a changin’ and we are lucky to be here now to take advantage of this white hot phenomenon.

I Bet You Have an eBook in You. If you are one of the vast numbers of people who think you might have a book in you, you certainly do. Right now, while ebooks are still in short supply and eBook readers are the rage, is the time to get your foot in the door.

Books vs. eBooks. The key distinction between eBooks and Books is that (1) there’s no publisher gatekeeper at the door and (2) eBooks can be short as in the 10 to 50 pages you may have written in school! You already know how to write something of this length and no one is stopping you.

You need to start writing and publishing them so that you can create a name for yourself, show people what you know and how you think about things. You might even make a couple nickels to rub together, but I’m not sure about that. You’ll have to be in the right place at the right time to do that – not impossible.

I’m thinking of this ebook writing operation as a means to an end. It’s writing. It’s creating content. It’s creating programs. Knowledge that can then be delivered in lots of ways, some of them in person as consulting, training and other more expensive kinds of services.

But, who am I to talk? I have created some little trial-run eBooks but am still learning how to create them. Meanwhile, the explosion of eReaders, eBooks continues and more and more people are getting comfortable reading digitally. I consider my blogging here at Independent Knowledge Professional a content development effort that is a precursor to some related eBooks.

eBooks are Changing Right Now. The only thing holding me up so far is this jumbled stage we are in relative to eBook formats. The ePub and Kindle formats are clearly of some importance with Amazon behind the Kindle format and Apple, Barnes and Noble and others using ePub. I’m not crazy about the options we have right now because ePub and Kindle formats are so primitive from an aesthetic point of view. There has to be a better way! PDFs at least give you a way to make a document look great if you know what size it needs to be.

eBook Formats. In some ways eBook formats make tons of sense as we read on our computers, our tablets and our phones interchangeably. But Amazon has declared a new format for its Kindle Fire that bears little resemblance to the previous Kindle standard. I expect to see a rush of different formats and hopefully decent end-user formatting tools over the next year.

DIY. As an INKNOP, I want to be able to format my own books just like I’ve been formatting letters and reports over the years. Why should I suddenly have a big learning curve hurdle and hassle to simply get a digital report called an eBook out the door?

If you want a new career and identify as someone who likes to write, you could be one of the new experts in this eBook creation field. We need you now! I know lots of people who are ready to write something if the hassle of formatting the eBook and getting it into the Kindle store could be made to go away. The only warning here may be that when a decent end-user eBook creator tool shows up, INKNOPs may go back to DIY.

The last thing you should be right now, though, is discouraged. We need to persevere and do eBooks, it’s just too logical for independent knowledge professionals to show off and trade on their specialized knowledge. The eBook can be of just about any length which means you can make one quick.  If you aren’t attached to being in the Kindle store (something worth doing when you can), you can make PDFs today and give them away as an incentive to your prospective customers to sign up for your eNewsletter or subscribe to your blog. Just like blogging, writing eBooks is good writing practice and helps you clarify your thoughts. And, once written, these digital items can be repurposed and reconfigured as handouts for presentations or other eProducts.

I work every week with another INKNOP, Mike Van Horn, on cracking this eBook world open so that it takes us both where we want to go on our way to INKNOP success. We explore this space, identify people with skills to help us and brainstorm to learn what we need to know.