Now, more details have come out about the potential for Amtrak to offer a train writing program to more authors. According to Ben Cosman for TheWire:
“Julia Quinn, Amtrak’s Director of Social Media, did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit today to discuss the company’s writer’s residency program. According to Quinn, Amtrak is still “formalizing” the official program, but she did offer a few new details.
While Amtrak hasn’t made it clear what the actual definition of a writer would be for this type of residency program, even more details are expected in the near future. This type of program, even if no longer offered for free but rather at a significant discount, stands to not only be a tremendous PR move for the company, but can also fill up some of the empty seats on various routes, especially if authors are able to be as flexible in their travel dates as they are in their writing schedules.
Amtrak Writers’ Residencies Closer to Being a Reality is a post from: Good e-Reader
Saturday, March 8, 2014
The Pebble update for Android has finally arrived, after being in the testing phase for quite some time. Pebble Version 2.0 can be downloaded from the Google Play Store to the watch, and among the new features are a watchapp directory, watchapp locker, and a new app interface that has been given a thorough once over. Users will also be given prior notifications about the update.
There are a few new watchfaces as well, with some showing essential information such as temperature and battery life. Some inform the user via a vibration that the Bluetooth connection with the mother Android device is lost. Similarly, the GetApp section will allow one to download apps such as Foursquare, Yelp, eBay, Plex, Runtastic Pro, to name a few.
Overall, it’s a nice update that goes a long way towards enhancing the functionality of the Pebble smartwatch.
Kobo is beginning to feel the pinch of prospective lower profit margins in Canada. The Canadian Government is forcing them to renegotiate contracts with all of their major publishing partners. Kobo sees this as being “Devastating for the company” and will relegate them to “an ineffective competitor.”
Two weeks ago, the Commissioner of Competition in Canada mandated to Kobo that it had 40 days to re-negotiate contracts with Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, HarperCollins, and Hachette. Immediately the publishers starting mailing letters to Kobo, demanding their existing contracts be augmented or cancelled completely. Complex contract negotiations take time, and Kobo may find themselves being unable to sell thousands of titles to customers in Canada. In contrast each publisher in the United States DOJ settlement took 16 months each.
The US Justice Department has been running a very high profile case with Apple and the top 5 major publishers. All of the publishers settled out of court with specific agreements. Most of the exact proclivities of the publishers settlements were varied and not consistent, none were publicly available. Kobo is contending that the DOJ lacks jurisdiction in Canada and any settlement in the US, is not binding, because no one knows exactly what they were.
Kobo first started implementing agency pricing with publishers in 2011. The essence of agency was to have eBooks sold at a common value. Normally, the publisher sets the price and Kobo gets 30% of each book sale. If the publisher price matches the book against another site, Kobo would still get the same commission, but at a reduced rate. Each publishing contract is negotiated separately, some adhering to the wholesale model and others agencies, or a combination of both.
A new term most people have not heard of before is called “Agency-Lite.” These agreements arose after the settlement agreements and final judgements that transpired in the US. The essence of Agency-Lite is that allows the publishers to set the price, but allows Kobo to diverge from the sale price. One of the conditions entail the discount cannot exceed the total margin that the retailer earns from annual book sales, this is called the “discount pool.”
When Kobo first formed their company, they abided by the wholesale model, which was tremendously unprofitable. They had lost millions in their first few years trying to compete against Amazon, Sony, Apple and Barnes and Noble. Kobo contends that the Wholesale model is not indicative to an online environment of price matching algorithms.
The Canadian government is now forcing Kobo to iron out new contracts with Hachette, Macmillan, Harper Collins and others. If they can’t do it in 40 days the existing ones will be void and Kobo will be forced to remove thousands of books from their bookstore. Without a full catalog of eBooks from all of the Canadian publishers “Kobo would be an ineffective competitor. Customers choose eBooks and e-Readers based on the breadth of their catalogs”. If Kobo lost any of these “they would cease to be a credible player in the market place.” Conversely, if Kobo accepts the amendments and shifts it operations to Agency-Lite, it will suffer unrecoverable losses.
If you live in the USA, you will likely know that you would find it difficult to find a Kobo e-Reader available. This is primarily due to when the USA adopted Agency-Lite, Kobo saw its net revenues decline and stopped investing in that market. It closed down its office in Chicago and decided to focus aggressively on international expansion. In a legal filing Kobo said that the reason Barnes and Noble and Sony’s business collapsed in the US was directly attributed to the abolishment of agency pricing. Now, we might see Kobo abandon the Canadian market, just like they did in the USA.
The only play Kobo has in a legal battle against the Canadian Government is to play the jurisdiction card. The publisher settlements and the abandoning of Agency pricing was purely based in the United States. The Justice Department and the settlements have no legal jurisdiction in Canada. If Kobo fails to make a case and have to absorb profit loses by switching to a hybrid of wholesale and agency-lite it looks likely Kobo will kill their Canadian ebook business. They certainly won’t be able to compete against Amazon and Apple. I mean they could, but it wouldn’t be worth it anymore.
Friday, March 7, 2014
The Asus Transformer Book Duet TD300 seems to have been delayed indefinitely and Google is tipped to have played a part in it, as per a report carried by Digitimes. The reasons are obvious as Google feels the device that dual boots both Windows and Android would provide an undue advantage to Windows that is struggling to gain a foothold in the mobile OS segment. Such a device is being perceived to allow Windows to piggyback on Google’s Android on the path to success that Google had so painstakingly created over the years. Such a scenario could also lead to Google having to wage a two front war, with the Apple iOS on the one hand and Windows on the other.
This isn't the first time though that Google is believed to have forced its hardware partners to cancel projects involving dual booting devices. A Samsung ATIV model that could dual boot both Android and Windows was reportedly pulled off given Google's concerns over letting Windows build on the success Android has made.
The Transformer Book Duet TD300 device was unveiled at the CES event early this year and had attracted a fair bit of consumer response. The one most distinct capability of the device was that it came with a key on the keypad that allows users to toggle between either Android or Windows operating systems. The same could also be invoked via a tab on the tablet as well and was being hailed as a device that would be just right for both business and domestic usage. Chipmaker Intel too had been seen actively promoting the Transformer Book Duet TD300. Currently, it is only Intel chips that can support dual booting of both Android and Windows.
The Transformer Book Duet TD300 was scheduled to be launched by the second half of 2014 though its not known now when is that going to happen.
Barnes and Noble wanted to tackle the e-reader and eBook market in a big way. The company has lost over one billion dollars on their digital enterprise and are seeking new ways to stop the blood flow. The company has fired most of their executive team and sacked 190 jobs in the last year. New SEC filing has the Nation’s largest bookstore cutting Nook funding by 74%
Barnes & Noble's fiscal quarter ended at the end of January, and the filing shows a $61 million loss on $157 million in revenue. It also notes their capital expenditures where a paltry $7.4 million on the Nook. That represents a massive decline in spending over last year, with a 55% drop in the past nine months. This is about the same time that the rumors starting about the accelerated decline of the entire Nook division.
The management shakeup and employee reorganization has been taxing on B&N. So much so, that they have failed to adhere to the terms of the Microsoft investment of 300 million. Barnes and Noble has not meant the content thresholds Microsoft established by opening up Nook stores in over 30 different countries. Because of this, Nook has not been able to attain the total funding until they meet their goals. Rumor has it, they might be able to do it by the end of April 2014.
The landscape of publishing has dramatically changed over the last five years. In the past, if you wanted to publish a book you had to do it from a vanity press or land a deal with a traditional publisher. Now, anyone can write a book and submit it to Smashwords, Kindle, Kobo or Nook. So the question is, should we quantify a distinction between an writer and a professional author? I think a line needs to be drawn in the sand so that we know who is the real deal.
Just because its easy to upload your written word, so that it can be downloaded to another machine does not make you an author, any more than me buying a stethoscope allows me to be called a doctor. A “singer” is someone who sings. A “professional singer” is someone who makes a living from singing. There is a stark contrast between being a writer and being a professional author. Many indie writers who publish a title or two on Amazon or Smashwords normally think otherwise. They wear the title as an author as a badge of honor.
Major writing organizations such as the Romance Writers of America, Canadian Writing Union and Published Authors Network all accept indie published authors as members and the Science Fiction Writers of America is currently drafting guidelines to do the same. In order to join these organizations you have to earn ‘x’ amount of money over a single calendar year, where the specified amount for indie publishers is a *multiple* of the requirement for traditionally-published authors minimum income, because it is easier to make money by going indie.
The Published Authors Network has strict requirements on who can join their organization. You have to earn $1,000 in the form of an advance on a single Eligible Novel. Or you have to earn $1,000 in the form of royalties or a combination of advance plus royalties on a single published Eligible Novel. Finally, you have to pull in $5,000 in the form of earnings for a Self-Published novel.
Calling everyone authors who puts words on a document and submits them to the public devalues the word so much, it makes it meaningless. Indie Author, Self-Published Author, Hybred Author, Published Author, Blog Author, Forum Author. All of these titles mean different things, depending on who you talk to. I would like to see the process simplified, you are either a writer or a professional author. If you can earn your living from your writing, you are a professional author, anyone else is just a plain old writer.
Indie authors and self-published authors who claim they are real authors makes me laugh. The term basically doesn’t mean anything. Being a photographer means nothing either; as soon as you pick up a camera, you are one. By definition, you would be an “author” because of commenting on this post or a “singer” because you sing in the shower. If you put words on a document, you are certainly not an author.
In the science world, things are very different. In order to be taken seriously, not only do you have to write articles or research papers, but other people have to cite them. The more people you have citing your reports in their books or their own reports, your position as a scientist is elevated.
I think a debate in the publishing industry must be made on what constitutes being a writer and an author. These terms are thrown around so loosely that it gets confusing. Some people will say “I want to only read books by professional authors, because I am of the opinion they are of a certain quality, as compared to self-published works.” Others will say “I consider people who have NOT published books by one of the big five real authors. People publishing through the big five just write useless, commercial drivel that sells well. They’re not authors. They just do their job. The self-pubs are doing it for the love of writing, and create original, non-mainstream works. I love that! They’re real authors.”
Now, a new company is launching with a new approach to the subscription model. Instead of trying to target readers with a “read everything you possibly can get your hands on in a month” idea, Rooster is looking at reading as something that consumers can do in bite-sized pieces whenever time allows. To that end, the company is building a platform that offers serialized content optimized for smartphones, for a much lower price than the subscription big boys.
Rooster’s co-founder and editorial director Yael Goldstein Love spoke to Good e-Reader today about the appeal of serialized subscription reading. While much of the content is currently in the public domain or sourced from the company’s other site, Daily Lit, a different model is underway in which classics are paired with contemporary content.
“We’ve been working directly with authors to try to create content that is specifically tailored for the Rooster experience.”
The shorter length of Rooster content is perfect for smartphone reading during snippets of time, something that speaks to the company’s model. Rather than luring consumers with a model that affords them the ability to read mountains of content for one price, Rooster’s clientele is expected to read serialized and novella-length works for far less than the cost of a typical ebook subscription plan.
Rooster is working with publishers to stock novella length or shorter novels, especially titles that just–for one reason or another–just don’t take off in the way that had been anticipated.
“Every publisher has this list of books that they loved so much, that they thought were just going to find an audience and be loved by so many people, but for whatever reason, it just doesn’t pick up or find its audience. It’s just this gem that goes unread. Those are the things we want to find, those books that deserve a second chance.”
While Rooster is in beta at this time, full launch of the site is anticipated for March 11. Users can sign up now for a free two week trial at the company’s website at readrooster.com.
A quick post today: I’m at the airport gate waiting to get on a plane.
I sent out a tweet about this brilliant advertising application of the Pi last week, but so many of you missed it on Twitter and have emailed to tell me about it since then (including one Dr Eben Upton) that I thought it deserved a spot here. Here’s a digital billboard that responds to the wind created by an approaching train.
The advertising agency behind this piece of clever is Åkestam Holst from Sweden, working with production company Stopp for Apotek Hjärtat’s Apolosophy products. Stopp says the ad was scheduled to be run for one day only, but it was so popular that the company which owns the screens asked for it to run for the rest of the week “as a way for them to show the opportunities their screens can offer”. When you think about it, a device like the Pi that can run a full HD digital display and can be hooked up to respond to real-world inputs is ideal for this sort of setup. These guys aren’t the only agency to be using a Raspberry Pi behind digital displays: but this is the best integrated use of the device I’ve seen in this context, and it’s made for a very powerful piece of advertising.
Our March collection highlights podcast is now available on OverDrive's Learning Center. This month's podcast is chock-full of exciting news about eBook, audiobook, and streaming video suppliers who are coming soon to OverDrive Marketplace, including a famously beloved children's TV program, a world-renowned documentary series, and a star-studded major motion picture supplier. As always, we round out our monthly podcast with our personal picks for the month, as well as insider tips about finding sales and placing orders in Marketplace.
You can access our Collection Highlights: March podcast now through the end of the month on OverDrive's Learning Center (find it under "Collection Development").
Carrie Smith is a Technical Writer at OverDrive.
Have you found yourself purchasing clotted cream at the grocery store? Or maybe you've been talking in a British accent and ordering random strangers to "bring the car round." If you are, then you may be suffering from withdrawal of BBC's hit show, "Downton Abbey."
In an attempt to fend off this season's withdrawal, I have compiled a list of titles to keep us avid fans symptom-free. If you miss the romance, may I prescribe Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey as well as Jo Baker's Longbourn. If Mrs. Patmores' cooking is what's lacking in your diet then take a peek at Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals. If a lack of downstairs drama is what you ail from then cozy up with a copy of Jacky Hyams The Real Life Downton Abbey: How Life Was Really Lived in Stately Homes a Century Ago. If your symptoms persist, take a look at the long list of Downton Abbey read-a-likes.
If you would like more suggestions, your Collection Development Specialist is available to help create recommended lists. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information today!
*Some titles may have limited regional or platform availability.
Laura Guldeman is a Collection Development Specialist at OverDrive.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
The SXSW Trade Show this year will see the launch of two new web comics platform, TappyToon and Amootoon. Those behind the new medium stated they wish to innovate the segment by 'breathing new life into the medium'. The way this is achieved is by integrating aspects of film making, comics, and web development into a single medium which they claim will make things simple for the content creators. What this means for the comic readers is that they will get to experience sound, special effects and animation in what otherwise has only been a static medium so far. Readers will also be able to interact with the characters 'for a more immersive experience'.
The Korean start-up also stated the new TappyToon and Amootoon format has been optimized for viewing on smartphone and tablet devices and are designed to make the most of the digital rendering capabilities of these new age mobile devices. TappyToon will be available for free on iOS devices from May 2014 while making its Android debut in June. Those eager to know more will be able to experience TappyToon first hand at the SXSW Trade Show at booth no. 1206.
Amootoon, on the other hand will launch in beta form on April 2014 and can be previewed at booth no. 1111 at the SXSW Trade Show that runs from 9 – 12 March.
Canadian based Kobo was one of the first e-reading companies to have an app on the Windows 8 App Store. They actually developed it about a year before the official launch of the OS and beta tested it extensively. A few months ago Kobo pulled the app down from the app store, because of a lackluster UI and uninspiring features. Today, Kobo has reissued the app and its now available to download.
The new Kobo Windows 8 app will allow you to buy eBooks directly through the app. It also allows you to pin books you have purchased directly to your home screen, to allow easy access to your eBooks. Once you start reading a book, your exact page is synced across all of your devices.
“We are excited to give our Readers access to their Kobo eBooks on the Microsoft Windows ecosystem,” said Kobo’s Sameer Hasan. “Just like Kobo, Microsoft understands the importance of providing users with greater mobility and new ways to enjoy their favourite content. The Kobo for Windows app is designed to make Kobo content come alive on Windows devices.”
For the next few weeks to celebrate the apps launch, users can get a free copy of "Robert Ludlum's The Janson Command" by Paul Garrison. It might be worth it to download it just for the free Book!
Finally, Kobo has announced they are developing a standalone app for Windows Phones. Likely it will be for the most current OS and not be backwards compatible with say Mango. There are no details on functionality or when it will come out, but likely soon.
Amazon has a very bad track record of updating the firmware for older devices. The original Paperwhite was a critical success for the Seattle based company with over half a million of them in circulation. Today, the Kindle Paperwhite 1 just received a massive firmware update that adds GoodReads functionality and a ton more.
Amazon had purchased eBook and social website GoodReads last year. The premise of the service is for people to discover new books and talk to kindred spirits. It is the most well executed site of its kind and something Amazon sorely needed. The Paperwhite 2 did not ship with GoodReads built into it, but pushed an update about a month after it first hit the store shelves. We were told that an update would be incoming shortly, and now we have it.
Another addition to the upgrade is Kindle Freetime, which allows you to setup profiles for your kids and add restrictions on what they can access, and what they can’t. This is tremendously useful for parents whose entire family shares the reader and wants to foster their child’s love of prose.
Here is a full list of all of the new features that went into the last update! You can download it HERE, if its not pushed out to you via WIFI.
Kindle Paperwhite 1 Finally gets GoodReads Intergration is a post from: Good e-Reader
Last month’s MagPi fundraiser for a Volume 2 binder was a roaring success: check out how they did on KickStarter.
As you’ll know unless you’ve been living in an internet-free commune, The MagPi is the free, monthly Raspberry Pi magazine, created by the Raspberry Pi community. We at the Foundation have no involvement with The MagPi beyond thinking it’s terrific: there are tutorials, listings, project ideas and more for people of all levels; from kids picking up a Raspberry Pi for the first time, to the most grizzled and hairy of systems engineers.
This month’s issue has a second birthday interview with Eben (unfortunately this issue went to the typesetters when the news about Friday’s open source announcement from Broadcom was still under embargo, so make sure you read that too to get a complete picture of what we’ve been up to). You’ll find a project where you can use a Pi for maintaining a notoriously finicky saltwater aquarium for corals – Emma has already asked me if we can get one for the office – and type-in listings for a great old-school text adventure called Stronghold of the Dwarven Lords. There’s another instalment from Project Curacao, the tropical environmental monitoring setup, alongside a weather station project you can make at home, where the environment is less exciting. My favourite piece this issue is from 13-year-old Jacob Roberts, who made his Pi into a portable computer on a pocket-money budget. He’ll show you how you can do the same.
There’s internet radio, motion detection, book reviews, competitions and much more. We really look forward to the MagPi every month: it’s a great resource for all Pi users, and we’re grateful, as always, to Ash, Will, Aaron and the team of volunteers who work so hard on it every month. Thanks gang – we’re looking forward to April’s issue!
The audiobook industry is starting to undergo dramatic shifts in their content delivery methods and major publishing companies are now investing millions of dollars into expensive productions. The entire audiobook industry is currently worth around 1.6 billion dollars and that figure should climb further. Production is being stepped up and companies such as Overdrive and 3M Cloud are sourcing them out to libraries. Today, 3M has announced that they have ironed out a distribution deal with Findaway World for 40,000 titles.
The addition of eAudiobooks to the 3M Cloud Library will be a seamless transition for both readers and librarians, with the existing apps updated and optimized to include discovery, checkout and listening capabilities. As always, patrons only need to register to use the 3M Cloud Library through their local library the first time they sign in. Every eAudio title will be compatible on all devices using 3M Cloud Library applications, users will not have to differentiate which formats work on which devices. Once the eAudiobook is checked out, users can immediately start listening. Also for the user's benefit, eAudiobooks are automatically bookmarked across the Cloud and available across all devices.
Titles from Findaway World are professionally engineered, enabling the highest-quality listening experience for users. Through Findaway World, 3M will have content from every major publisher in the Audiobook space.
|Yesterday Amazon issued an update for the new Kindle Paperwhite, and today they just followed that up by updating the 1st generation Paperwhite to add a host of new features. The new software is labeled version 5.4.4, and it essentially turns the original Kindle Paperwhite into the newer second gen model, minus the upgraded screen […]|
Comixology is the largest digital distributor in the world for digital comics. This often puts them in the media limelight and paints a big target on their back. The company has acknowledged that they have suffered a major data breach today with usernames, passwords and email accounts were accessed by a rogue denizen of the internet.
In a letter sent out to anyone who has ever registered an account with Comixology, the company is encouraging people to change their passwords. Although no credit card or financial data was stolen, it is only a matter of time before all of your data is sold to companies that buy customer information in bulk.
The Comixology servers are currently overwhelmed with password changing requests and it is currently impossible to actually change your user information. This may change in the next few days, but it is unlikely.
Breaching databases and stealing customer data is nothing new. Its been happening more often with companies such as Adobe, that handle the bulk of eBook encryption technology. It looks like hackers are now targeting companies that readers cluster to.
Comixology Violates Customers Trust with Data Breach is a post from: Good e-Reader
To be fair to the authors who are selling a “paltry” million or so, James was picked up by a traditional publisher and the books relaunched under Vintage Books’ imprint. Additionally, the titles have been translated into fifty-one languages for distribution in foreign markets, not taking into consideration the countries where English language titles sell rather well.
But what does it take to make a one-time Twilight fan fiction series that is still treated with such scornful, humorous consideration by the public into a global bestseller, with a major studio film adaptation in the works? Awesome marketing.
Beginning with the first efforts at publishing the books herself, James built a fan base around a work that was arguably unlike much else on the market. Once the series was invested in by a major publishing house, the author’s work didn’t stop. Successful and bestselling indie authors will share that same mentality with anyone who asks for the secret to their success: reader engagement is vital to selling books.
In last Tuesday’s Twitter chat #indiechat, hosted each week by BiblioCrunch, author Hugh Howey made an appearance to discuss the finer points of putting a well-crafted book in front of a broader reading audience. Besides sharing his post on advice for new authors, Howey made the statement: “I write in the morning. After lunch, I treat the publishing bits like my day job. I often work 16 hours a day.”
This attention to the business side of being an author is what sets apart those who sell books and grow a fan base, and those who don’t. Sadly, one of the business aspects that is becoming more and more clear–especially to authors who’ve handled it badly, like Lynn Shepherd, who has recently been accused of petty jealousy due to the fact that her traditionally published titles are not selling as much as many self-published authors’ works–is that authors must take on the responsibility for their own marketing. Regardless of the publishing route, crafting a work that readers want to read and then actively talking with them about that book is becoming more the norm.
|Don't let the long name scare you; CONCATENATE is a super-easy way to stick two or more things together in your spreadsheets.|