Friday, September 4, 2015

Goodreads Comes to Kindles in the UK and Ireland

Goodreads and Amazon have announced that Goodreads integration is coming to Kindle ebook readers and Fire tablets in the UK and Ireland. A software update will add the new Goodreads features to the Kindle Paperwhite (all models), the Kindle Voyage, and the current entry-level Kindle, as well as the confusing number of Fire HD and […]

Publishers Earning Less Revenue From High e-book Prices

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Major publishers have all signed new deals with Amazon, giving them the power to set their own prices. This has dramatically increased the cost of the average bestselling title and customers are steadily buying less of them.

Within the last calendar year Penguin/Random House, Simon and Simon & Schuster, Hachette and Macmillan have all signed long term contracts with Amazon. In the past, Amazon had the ability to sell e-books on a wholesale basis.  Due to the rising popularity of the format, and the billion dollar digital book market, publishers wanted more control over the price. The end result is e-books costing significantly more money.

This week there wasn't a single title priced at $9.99 among the top 20 titles on the company's Kindle best-seller list. Last summer, Amazon offered the digital edition of James Patterson's thriller "Invisible" for the bargain price of $8.99. Mr. Patterson's newest tale of suspense, "Alert," went on sale Aug. 3 on Amazon for $14.99, a price set by Hachette.

The average e-book a year ago cost $9.99, and many customers found that was the ideal price for a digital title.  It was cheaper than a paperback and dramatically more affordable than purchasing the hardcover edition.  Now, things are almost reversed. Many new digital titles cost in excess of $17.99, which are driving away people looking for digital deals.

Publisher e-book sales have been stagnating since 2013, when they fell 2.5%, according to Publishers Marketplace's analysis of AAP data.  The Association of American Publishers has just released their annual data report a month ago and in the first three months of 2015 e-book sales have plummeted 7.5% from the same period last year. Meanwhile, Hachette is reporting that  e-books fell to 24% of its U.S. net trade sales in the first half of 2015, from 29% a year earlier. Declining e-book sales contributed to a 7.8% drop in revenue in the period.

The high e-book prices we pay now are directly attributed to publishers greed. They wanted to prevent Amazon from lowballing e-book prices and putting other digital bookstores out of business and they have now shot themselves in the foot. e-Book sales are falling all over North America because people don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for an e-book.

GoBox: A Robotics Subscription Service

Kit maker Dexter Industries pulled the wraps off their latest Kickstarter, GoBox, the first-ever robot subscription service. It’s aimed at kids age 7 and up along with the help of an adult. No prior knowledge of robotics is required and step-by-step guides and videos will be provided.

In the first month of service, kids will receive the popular GoPiGo kit to act as the core of their robot. This kit includes a Raspberry Pi, chassis, battery pack, motors, motor controller board, and wheels. Each subsequent month, they’ll receive a new component such as a sound sensor, servo, light sensor, and many more. Each month, they’ll also receive step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish a particular mission. See their Kickstarter page for details on the different backer rewards and a sample draft mission.

Of course, we’re delighted that Dexter Industries uses Raspberry Pi in their robotics kits. Why do they like our computer? I’ll let John Cole, Dexter’s Founder & CEO, speak for himself:

We’re using the Raspberry Pi because it’s the most open, flexible, and easy to start with hardware for learning programming. We can use Scratch to start with, which is super-easy for young learners to use. And we can walk learners all the way up to command line programming.

There are two interesting and important aspects to what makes GoBox different. The first is that we are starting with little to no background assumed. When we looked at other platforms for starting robotics, they assume you know something (maybe something about coding, about electronics, or about computers). We really wanted to minimize that, and make starting with robotics and programming as easy as possible. So that is why the Raspberry Pi is a perfect platform — because we really start the story from the beginning.

The second is that we’re trying to design the program to keep learners engaged over a long period of time with the subscription service. We’re helping learners gradually, and encouraging open-ended design problems, but with a new delivery every month, you keep learning over the course of a year, rather than rush in, try a few things, lose interest, and throw the program in a corner. A new box every month really encourages people to keep going, and to keep trying new things without overwhelming them all at once.

We think this is a powerful formula to learn some of the most important skills needed in the world today. We also are seeing the creative projects (“missions”) we have developed appeal to girls and boys alike, which is really encouraging.

Check out the GoBox Kickstarter for more details.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Michael Bay Starting a Digital Comics Imprint

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Michael Bay is best known for blockbuster Hollywood movies like the Transformers and Bad Boys. He is going to be starting a new initiative soon, interactive digital comics.

Bay’s 451 Media Group has set up an interactive publishing division which will create a series of graphic novels that will walk the line between traditional page turners and cutting edge digital media.

Nothing has been created yet, but Bay is tapping into a number of screenwriters to generate some buzz. Currently announced are Con Air’s Scott Rosenberg, Swordfish’s Skip Woods, The Wire’s George Pelecanos, Black Mass’ Mark Mallouk, novelist Clay McLeod Chapman, and visual effects artists Peter and Paul Williams.

451 will partner with online video network Machinima to distribute the content, starting with sneak peeks this summer. The actual graphic novels are supposed to debut at around the time of New York Comic Con in October.


B&N Announces Samsung Galaxy S2 Nook for $400

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Three days ago Good e-Reader broke the news that Barnes and Noble was extending their partnership with Samsung and going to release the Galaxy S2 for Nook.  It looks like I was right and the Nations largest bookseller announced the news officially today.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 for Nook is available today for $400,  which is a bit on the pricier side. The tablet features an 8 inch Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1536 x 2048 pixels with 320 PPI.

Underneath the hood is a Octacore processor featuring a Quad-core 1.9 GHz & quad-core 1.3 GHz. There will be 3G of RAM and an SD card that supports up to 128 GB of extra memory. It is unclear whether Barnes and Noble will support two different variants of memory, since Samsung has both 32/64 GB for internal storage. You will be able to take pictures via the rear facing 8 MP camera or employ the front-facing 2 MP camera for video conferencing.

What is surprising about this new tablet is that it continues to maintain exclusive Samsung branding and does not even have the Nook logo anywhere on the hardware. If you were to put the stock Samsung Galaxy S2 8.0 from B&N and the Samsung branded one side by side, you wouldn’t notice any difference.

Barnes and Noble is making this tablet their own, in the same way the did with the Samsung Galaxy Tab for Nook 7 and 10 inch models released last year. They have a number of customized apps on the home screen, such as a library, e-book reader and digital bookstore. This apps are entirely unique to this tablet and aren’t available on Google Play.

This is the best tablet Barnes and Noble has ever released, in terms of overall specs and hardware performance.  One of the advantages you will have purchasing this from the bookstore is that if you have any questions, concerns or warranty issues you can bring it right to the shop you purchased it from and get immediate support.

The question is, will you buy this $400 tablet from Barnes and Noble?

Get a Kindle Voyage for $169 – Certified Refurbished

Last month Amazon started selling refurbished Kindle Voyages, but at the time they only had the 3G model for $219, which is $50 off the regular price of a new one. Now Amazon has also started selling the cheaper non-3G model as well. It costs $169, and is the refurbished Special Offers Kindle Voyage. Special […]

B&N Releases New 8-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 Nook for $399

Barnes and Noble has announced the latest addition to their line of Samsung branded Nook tablets with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 Nook. The Tab S2 Nook is an 8-inch tablet with high-end specs. It has a Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 (320 ppi)—perfect for ereading. It’s […]

Jill’s 10 deserted island books

Ed. Note: This is the 5th in our seris of books we’d take with us on a deserted island if we could only pick ten. Today’s list comes from Jill Grunenwald, a librarian and Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive.

 

Angels in America by Tony Kushner

Have you ever read a book that digs down deep into your bones? The kind that leaves poignant lines lingering to such a degree that you can quote them decades later? For me, that is Tony Kushner's brilliant and heartbreaking play which won both the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Set in the 1980s at the height of the AIDS epidemic, the themes presented feel just as timely and the conversations just as necessary in 2015.

Candyfreak by Steve Almond

Self-proclaimed candyfreak Steve Almond takes on the delicious task of investigating the small, often regional, candy companies that are struggling to survive in a world where big name chocolate dominates the market. Granted, having this book might make me hungry while on an island but at least I won't have to worry about all the chocolate melting in the tropical sun.

Daphne's Book by Mary Downing Hahn

Narrator Jessica is a shy bookworm who struggles with losing friendships amid the perils of middle-school popularity and social hierarchy. To say I self-identified with her is an understatement. When Jessica is forced to work with outcast Daphne on a school writing project, both girls learn lessons that reach far outside the classroom.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

This Slytherin would be remiss if she didn't include at least one of the Harry Potter books on this list, although I admit that it's odd to include the penultimate title. But if I can only have one book from the series with me on a deserted island, it would be this one. Graceful and gorgeous, it's the perfect lead up to saying farewell to beloved characters.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

A haunted house story told through multiple narratives is probably the best, and least complicated, way of describing this dense opus that plays with form and page layout in a whole new way. Reading this is like attempting to navigate a labyrinth, which is probably not accidental since Danielewski's debut was partially inspired by the myth of the Minotaur.

I Will Love You For the Rest of My Life: Breakup Stories by Michael Czyzniejewski

I should preface this by saying that Mike was my thesis advisor when I got my BFA in Creative Writing and is still a good friend, but lest you think I'm biased, know that I'd have this on my list regardless. His stories are wild and weird and wonderful with the perfect balance of humor and heartache. "High Treason" is my personal favorite.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

There are no enough words in the English language to describe how much I love Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel set in a terrifyingly near future. (And by "terrifyingly near," I mean I would not be surprised to wake up a week from today and find myself in this world.) The first of a trilogy, it was followed by The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I first discovered du Maurier's classic gothic romance through my mom, who utterly adores this book. My copy was purchased at my fifth grade book fair and I staunchly remember running out to the kitchen at certain key moments and her just nodding with a knowing smile. I was also completely blown away by the thought of reading a book where we never learn the first name of the narrator.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Set at an elite college in Vermont, Tartt's debut follows a socially isolated group of students and the lasting effects that come from a murder within the group. Mind you, this is not a spoiler. In fact, The Secret History is not a whodunit but a whydunit as the situation and circumstances leading up to the murder unfold through the eyes of our narrator. Fun Fact: a now grown-up Francis Abernathy makes a cameo appearance in Tartt's Pulitzer Prize winning The Goldfinch.

Valley of the Dolls by Jacquelinne Susann.

I feel like this one needs a #sorrynotsorry, but, really. Sorry, not sorry. This is one of a handful of books that I read on an annual basis going all the way back to high-school. It's trashy and tawdry and received horrible reviews when first published in 1966. If anything, though, its disreputable reputation is exactly what made it an overnight success. As I've gotten older, my understanding of Anne's motives has changed, making each reading a new experience.

 

Jill Grunenwald is a librarian and a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive

Apple Signs up 50 Major News Publishers for Apple News

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This fall Apple will be launching a new app called Apple News and the company has been very busy trying to secure plenty of launch partners. They have now secured over 50 publishers to distribute their content through the platform.

The list of publishers includes Conde Nast, Vox Media, Mashable , New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, BuzzFeed, Quartz, ESPN, and our very own publication Good e-Reader.

The publishers participating with Apple News are said to be very happy about the revenue share system.  Apple has verified that publishers will be able to sell their own display adds within the app and keep 100% of the revenue. Apple says it will also sell ads itself directly within the app with its advertising platform iAd, and partners who wish to benefit from Apple's salesmanship will keep 70% of the revenue.

Apple has a tremendous amount of competition in the online news space and one has to wonder if it will ever replace Flipboard, Feedly, Newsify, Google News, Buzzfeed and Smart News. Facebook has also redoubled their efforts in the last year with positioning news within their social media experience on the PC.

The exact launch date of Apple News will likely be known on September 9th, when Apple has a major event planned. It is thought they will be announcing the iPhone 6s, iPad Mini 4 and a new version of Apple TV.

Barrel o’ Fun: Arcade machine barrel table

What do you do if you are given a big old wine barrel? You could make it into a twee garden planter; go over Niagara Falls in it; or cut off the end and make a secret passage like in Scooby Doo. Or you could do the obvious thing and build a Raspberry Pi-powered arcade machine. Matt Shaw did just that. Arcade games, wine and Donkey Kong style barrels—three of our favourite things in one.

The arcade machine in all it's barelly glory

The arcade machine in all it’s barelly glory

The machine itself has the benefit of a sit-down cocktail cab (you can put your drinks on top) with the standup advantage of being able to jostle your opponent. It's a nice clean build—deliberately low tech—wired using crimps and block connectors with no soldering. The Raspberry Pi runs the excellent PiPlay, an OS for emulation and gaming.

The other great thing about this project is its scrounginess. Reusing and repurposing makes us happy and this whole project does just that: an unloved 4:3 monitor, free table glass from online classifieds and an old barrel. The main costs were the buttons, joysticks and wiring and the whole build came in at around £90.

Circuit testing at it's finest!

The circuit tester is quite brilliant

Although we've blogged about Pi-powered arcade machines before (we have two in Pi Towers, we like them, OK? :)) the point is that if you have a Pi lying around then you can make a games machine out of almost anything. For not much money. (And as someone who spent every Saturday feeding their pocket money into arcade machines in seedy arcades in Southport, that's an amazing thing.)

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Podcast – New Nook and Kobo e-Readers Out Soon

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Welcome back to another edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show! Today on the show you will be informed about all of the new devices expected to be released soon, such as the Nook Glowlight 2, Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 for Nook and the Kobo Touch 2.0. Also on the show is plenty of Amazon and digital library news.

E Ink reports 2nd Quarter Earnings for 2015

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E Ink has reported earnings of $106 million dollars for the 2nd quarter of 2015 and the company has generated around $200 million for the first half of the year.

According to Digitimes “Amazon remained one of EIH’s main customers throughout the quarter seeking E Ink Carta EPD technology for its New Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. EIH also benefited from new developments with Ueberall, an experiential design firm, in which the two have announced eFLOW, an interactive sculpture consisting of 52 strips of E Ink Prism 16 feet long and formed in the shape of a large band of fibers. The technology uses motion sensing transducers to activate the Prism film, and through external sensory inputs, eFLOW comes alive by detecting and responding to the presence and movement of people in its vicinity.”

It is very likely that e Ink will generate more revenue as the year goes on with new e-readers hitting the the market. The Amazon Kindle Voyage 2, Kobo Touch 2.0 and Barnes and Noble Glowlight 2 are just a few of the new devices that will be available soon.

Amazon Underground Replaces the Free Daily Android App

Ever since Amazon first launched their Android appstore back in March of 2011, they’ve been giving away a free paid Android app each and every day. After nearly four and a half years, that has finally ended. Last week Amazon suddenly stopped doing the free app a day giveaways. Amazon didn’t give any official explanation […]

Amazon Kindle Unlimited Now Available in India

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\The Amazon Kindle Unlimited program has just launched in India today for an introductory rate of 99 rupees until the end of the month and then it will increase to 199 rupees in October.

Kindle Unlimited is launching with thousands of e-book titles by indie authors and small publishing companies. Sadly, many of the worlds top publishers have yet to embrace what Amazon is selling, so you won’t find any of the New York Times perennial bestsellers.

Making Kindle Unlimited available in India also taps into a market with a lot of growth potential. According to Digital Book World, e-books currently account for just 2% of the country's $2 billion market, but that amount is expected to grow as smartphones and tablets come down in price.

"India is a very important market for us. Readers here are reading books across genres of literature, fiction, health, productivity, business and economics, biographies and children books on their Kindle devices and app," said Amazon Kindle Director Sanjeev Jha.

“For less than the average price of one hardcover bestseller, we've made the best digital library in the world available to every corner of India. Whether it is thrillers, romance novels, Sci-Fi or children's books, with Kindle Unlimited everyone will have the chance to discover not only well-established but also new authors of every genre," he said.

This is the first time Unlimited has expanded into the Asian market and many people are lobbying for it to come to Japan and South Korea.

Amazon Brings Kindle Unlimited to India

Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s ebook subscription service, has launched in India. It grants subscribers unlimited access to a library of over 1 million ebooks for a monthly fee. The introductory price is Rs.99 a month, but that goes up to 199 next month (even still that only equates to about $3 USD so it’s a lot […]

Get ready for Read an eBook Day at your library!

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While every day here at OverDrive is read an eBook day, the official Read an eBook Day is happening again this year on September 18th. Launched last year as a celebration of modern storytelling, Read an eBook Day is a great opportunity to get the word out about your eBook collection to your library community. In the marketing kit available in the Partner Portal, you'll find a collection of resources to get ready for Read an eBook Day:

  • Web graphics to share on your website or social media accounts
  • "I love eBooks from my library!" stickers designed to be printed on Avery labels (Product #22806, Print-to-the-Edge Square Labels, available at office supply stores or online retailers.)
  • A selection of flyers encouraging visitors to share what they're reading for Read an eBook Day at ReadaneBookDay.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or Pinterest using the hashtag #eBookLove. There are 3 flyer designs featuring different stock photo options that target various demographics.
  • A quarter sheet handout that users can sign, personalize and can then be displayed in your library to show support for Read an eBook Day. Encourage users to write their name, what eBook they are reading or both! These handouts can also be sent home with users as a reminder to borrow an eBook on September 18th. Check out the picture above for an example of how you could display these at your library or school, featuring a few "pledges" to read from OverDrive staff that have already committed to celebrate!

We want to see how your library or school is celebrating Read an eBook Day! Take a picture and share it with us on social media using the hashtag #eBookLove. We'll be sharing some of our favorite submissions throughout the day on the OverDrive for Libraries Facebook and Twitter accounts and we'll pick a few creative ideas to win content credit that can be used to build your digital collection! Check out more details (and a link to more resources, including a press release template) here.

 

Melissa Marin is Marketing Specialist with OverDrive

Thank you to our Digipalooza sponsors and attendees

Digipalooza 2015 has come and gone, and we would like to thank our library and school partners, as well as the conference partners and sponsors, who joined us in Cleveland to share information and best practices for delivering digital media to readers. It was a jam-packed few days of learning, networking, and of course, a little fun.

We created a short video that highlights the memories made at #DigiP15. Please feel free to share this with your coworkers, directors, and friends. Thanks again—we hope that you'll come back in 2017!

Goodreads Soon Available on Kindle E-Readers in the UK

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If you live in the UK or Ireland I have some good news! GoodReads will soon be available on Kindle e-Readers and Fire tablets. Now you can highlight and share quotes with your Goodreads friends from inside the book or get inspired with personalized book recommendations.

In the next week or so there will be a firmware update that will automatically be pushed via WIFI for the complete range of current-generation tablets, Fire HD 6, Fire HD 7, and Fire HDX 8.9, as well as previous-generation models Fire HD, Kindle Fire HDX 7, and Kindle Fire HDX 8.9. If you have a Kindle e-reader, it will be available for all generations of the Kindle Paperwhite, as well as Kindle Voyage and the latest generation Kindle Basic Touch.

Goodreads is currently available on Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and now the U.K. and Ireland. There is no word yet when other European markets will be getting it.

MATLAB & Simulink Student Suite – Raspberry Pi Bundle

Today, a look at a speedy way for students to prototype, test, analyse and deploy sophisticated applications on Raspberry Pi, using industry tools: MathWorks’ MATLAB, a high-level programming environment for visualising and analysing data, computation, mathematical modelling, and algorithm development; and Simulink, which provides a block diagramming environment for modelling and simulating dynamic systems.

element14 recently launched a Learn to Program Pack consisting of MATLAB and Simulink Student Suite bundled with their Raspberry Pi 2 starter kit, which gives you a Pi 2, microSD card, power supply and case. The bundle provides students with everything they need to kick off their projects quickly using the same tools that professional engineers and scientists use day-to-day: you can use Simulink on your Raspberry Pi to describe, simulate and test your system, analyse it with MATLAB, then generate code from Simulink to deploy to a Raspberry Pi or another platform.

Here, Eben uses Simulink to program and test a robot with simple image processing and autonomous navigation:

There are endlessly rich possibilities here: how about getting your Pi robot to detect faces and behave accordingly? You’ll find lots more resources to help with using these powerful tools on the MATLAB & Simulink element14 community.

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ComiXology Now Offers Tons of Mainstream Manga

0d6b546ee0b65082daf17ec132c7049a_1378507301_largeKodansha Comics is well known in the industry for producing some of the most iconic manga. You may have heard of Sailor Moon, Akira, Attack on Titan or Fairy Tale. Well today, Comixology signed a deal with Kodansha to immediately bring 350 Kodansha titles with more to come.

Comixology has promised that new digital releases will be available the same time as print. Right now, Sailor Moon and Akira aren’t available, but you can get 10 volumes of Mushishi, 49 volumes of Fairy Tail and 16 volumes of Attack on Titan. You can also read emerging series such as Say “I love you”., Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, The Seven Deadly Sins, Sankarea, Love Hina, A Silent Voice, Inuyashiki, and My Little Monster, among others.

It is great to see Comixology branching out into digital manga, since there are scant options in North America aside from Crunchyroll Manga and Viz Media.