Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New PressReader App Released for BB10

pressreader bb10

PressReader has had a storied relationship with Blackberry, with the entire line of Playbook tablets having the newspaper app bundled on all units. NewspaperDirect has been fairly supportive of the entire Blackberry ecosystem and has debuted a new native app for BB10.

PressReader for BB10 allows customers to have replica editions synced to Blackberry HUB, to give you notifications on when new issues are available. BlackBerry 10 customers can download the re-engineered PressReader app from BlackBerry World and their favorite publications from a growing list of more than 2,300 digital replicas of newspapers and magazines from 100 countries and in 56 languages, including the International Herald Tribune, The Australian, The Globe and Mail, and Le Monde.

Replica newspapers are something PressReader specializes in. The app provides an exact mirror of the printed version, including classifieds, obituaries, Sunday funnies, and localized advertising. The BB10 version allows you to click on the article name and get a pure text version of it, stripping away all of the superfluous images and CSS data.

"NewspaperDirect is delighted to release a new optimized version of PressReader for BlackBerry 10 smartphones," said Alex Kroogman, CEO of NewspaperDirect. "Not only will BlackBerry 10 owners be amazed at the vast selection of magazines and newspapers suddenly at their fingertips, our publishing partners will benefit from having their content instantly available to all BlackBerry 10 users."

New PressReader App Released for BB10 is a post from: E-Reader News

Google Play Movie App Update Now Offers Info Card

Google Movies

Google Play Movies has come up with an innovative pop-up option that can provide you with all sorts of great movie trivia. Thanks to a new update, the Google Play Movie app now features an info card which provides you with a short breakdown of the actor who is presently on the screen. The way it works is this: you are watching a video, but can't exactly remember who the actor is or any other information pertaining to him or her. A tap on the actor's face is all that’s needed, and an info card will pop up alongside containing the actor's name along with other bits of information that might be relevant to the movie or video currently being viewed.

The update also brings along a few cool features which include the ability to search through the Google Play Store or one's own library at the same time. Plus the overflow menu also gets a new refresh button with the update, while the app will also provide you with notifications for new episodes of the TV shows you’ve bought.

The feature is now available on all Android tablets running Android 4.0 ICS and higher. Also, hundreds of movies and videos work with the pop up information update, and more movies are being added every day. Google has also stated that though the feature is now limited to just tablets, more devices will soon be brought on board, and in more countries.

Google Play Movie App Update Now Offers Info Card is a post from: E-Reader News

UK Government Releases New Report on Library eBook Lending


Digital ebook lending for libraries in the United Kingdom has yet to really take off like it has in North America. There are many barriers in place that prevent a wider adoption, such as the current politics of publishers and technology. In September 2012, the UK government commissioned a task force to look into the viability of digital lending for libraries and suggestions on how a unified strategy can be employed. Today, the new report was issued.

The first recommendation made was that libraries lending digital books to their members should be a service that is provided free of charge, and should be an essential function of the library service.

The second recommendation is that library members should be able to borrow digital books from their libraries remotely. In other words, members of libraries should be able to download digital books from the library's website without having to visit the library in question. Although some constituencies from the writing and publishing communities in their written evidence to the advisory panel expressed concerns about remote downloading; worrying that the technology would lack the necessary "friction" that a library visit provides when borrowing a printed book, it would be counter-intuitive not to recognize the technological ease of remote downloading and the likely consumer demand for it.

The third recommendation is that each copy of a digital book should only be loaned to one reader at a time, just as with a physical book. This would eradicate concerns that many publishers have about the impact on their revenues from successful digital lending. If a digital copy of a book can only be loaned to one reader at a time and for a limited period only, then there are a limited number of loans that that copy can have in a particular period of time.

For similar reasons, the fourth recommendation of this review is that digital copies of books should “deteriorate,” ensuring libraries repurchase after a certain number of loans. The reason for that is because printed counterparts naturally deteriorate, forcing popular books to be repurchased. This principal therefore should be applied to digital books, otherwise publishers may lose revenue.

It seems that the UK Government is taking digital ebooks in the library very seriously. The essence of this report really says that customers shouldn’t have to pay anything extra to download ebooks and that they should be able to do it remotely. The rest of the report dives into the semantics of audio and video delivery and how that plays a part in the traditional library experience. You can read the full report HERE.

UK Government Releases New Report on Library eBook Lending is a post from: E-Reader News

Penguin Revises Digital Library eBook Terms – New Titles Available Immediately


Penguin was one of the last companies to launch a program to allow their eBooks to be available through services like 3M and Axis 360. Today, Penguin announced that they were revising the terms of their agreements to allow new book titles to be available immediately. The new eBooks will be available for libraries to purchase on April 2nd and should give a dramatic boost in the sheer amount of great new reads for patrons.

When Penguin first got involved with major digital library distribution companies last year, the books had a six month embargo. This means, that when a new book is released, in digital and tangible form, it would not be made available to libraries for a solid six months. The revised terms will instead offer libraries the digital edition, the day the book comes out. This should boost revenue, because of the fees involved in buying new books and the one-year expiration date. Libraries can only loan a book out for a year, before they are forced to buy the digital book once more.

The American Library Association issued a statement that said “The ALA will continue to work with publishers in the future to explore win-win business solutions. In April, ALA President Maureen Sullivan will lead a library delegation to meet with Penguin and other publishers in New York City to discuss ways to make ebook titles more accessible for libraries. While there is much more to do, we are hopeful with some of the recent signs of progress such as this latest change at Penguin, the new pilot at Macmillan, and the ongoing pilot at Hachette. And we acknowledge Random House and HarperCollins for their consistent participation in the library ebook market. Now if only Simon & Schuster would see the light.”

Penguin Revises Digital Library eBook Terms – New Titles Available Immediately is a post from: E-Reader News

EU Approves Random House and Penguin Merger


The merger between Pearson and Bertelsmann is right on track with the summer 2013 timeline established when it was first announced last  year. The companies have received the quintessential OK from Australia, New Zealand, US, and now the European Union, leaving only Canada and China to approve everything.

The upcoming merger between two of the largest publishing companies in the world will account for 1/4 of all books currently being published. The main reason they decided to band together was to join forces for a more cohesive digital publishing strategy and have more leverage to iron out distribution deals with Amazon.

Random House, the biggest book publisher in the United States and Britain, has been buoyed by the success of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy of novels. Penguin is the No. 2 player in the United States and third in Britain.

EU Approves Random House and Penguin Merger is a post from: E-Reader News

New Software Updates for Kindle Fire HD and 2nd Gen Kindle Fire

Amazon has just issued a series of firmware updates for their latest line of Kindle Fire Tablets, including both the 7-inch and 8.9-inch HD models as well as the 2nd generation Kindle Fire (the one that sells for $159). The update adds some new features. The 7-inch Kindles now support X-Ray for Textbooks (the 8.9″ [...]

Tablet PCs Predicted to Outsell Notebooks by 2014


Tablet PCs are all the rage these days and none are more aware of this fact than desktop PCs and netbook devices. While the former is already predicted to be over shadowed by the tablets within this year itself, research firm IDC is claiming netbook PCs will be outsold by tablets in 2014. Of course, these are estimates and are based on the growth rate the tablet segment has been experiencing over the years. The tablet growth story can be pegged at 78 percent over the previous years and a record 128 million plus tablet devices were sold in 2012. IDC is predicting the year 2013 could end with sales of more than 190 million tablet devices, which will mark a growth of 48.7 percent. It is interesting that the entire notebook segment itself seems to be in the midst of a transformation, what with smart new hybrid tablets coming on to the scene. These are essentially tablet PCs but with attachable keypads that transforms them into notebook devices. The segment has already been galvanized with the emergence of the Windows 8 platform.

The entire smart connected device market grew 29.1 percent over 2012, while the entire segment now is worth a staggering $576.9 billion. The tablet market share, as per IDC is likely to grow to around 16 percent by 2017, up from 10.7 percent in 2012.

In another interesting development, Apple has managed to close the gap with its arch rival Samsung on account of strong demand for its iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini. While Samsung still leads the smart connected device market with a share of 21.6 percent, the same for Apple now stands at 20.3.

Tablet PCs Predicted to Outsell Notebooks by 2014 is a post from: E-Reader News

Obligatory Nook News Post

Barnes and Noble’s marketing department is trying extra hard to get everyone’s attention this past week. In such cases I usually ignore them because I find it excruciatingly annoying when every tech website keeps posting the exact same stories regurgitating whatever a company’s marketing department tells them to like mindless parrots. But things like this [...]

PiUi – control your Pi with your phone

David Singleton has been laid up with a broken leg, and has taken the downtime to do some work on PiUi. PiUi enables you to add a mobile phone user interface to a Raspberry Pi project when a screen and keyboard aren’t a practical solution. It’s magic: PiUi makes your Pi behave like a wireless access point, and connecting your phone is as easy as…[restrains self from making obvious bad pun].

This is a really, really useful piece of software; I’ve already had about ten ideas for ways I can usefully deploy PiUi in the house. We’re finally replacing our wobbly green 1970s nightmare of a kitchen this year, and I’m hoping to have a Pi controlling some of the lighting, the coffee machine, the heating and some of the cooking hardware when we do. Using a phone rather than the touchscreen I’d been intending to mount on a wall is a no-brainer. You can find everything you need at GitHub, including lots of documentation. (Note to developers: we love it when you include lots of documentation.) David also has a post about the project on his blog.

This is something I expect we’re going to see a lot of people here using in future Pi projects; it’s simple, elegant and very nicely implemented. Do you have plans for PiUi? Let us know in the comments.

CourseSmart: “Connecting Content, Curriculum, and Delivery”


While some sectors of the education industry are still waiting for the explosion of digital textbooks that can provide budget-friendly solutions with immediate updates to new information, e-textbook providers are already making improvements to the design concept of an academic ebook. It’s no longer enough to create a digital edition of a standard academic textbook; today’s learners and educators want all-in-one solutions that allow access anywhere, while also providing self-evaluation and feedback on curriculum engagement.

CourseSmart, a leading provider of digital educational content, already provides over 40,000 titles from fifty publishers and is at work in over 100 institutions. However, it’s not simply the ebook files that have students and educators clamoring for digital solutions, so much so that Simba Research predicts digital textbooks will make up 14% of the academic publishing market by next year. Instead, it’s the full use of technology that has encouraged users to seek out digital opportunities.

"CourseSmart has been a welcome addition to our campus," said Randy L. Bullis, J.D., Director of Online Education for Career Point College, in a press release.  "Our students have responded positively to the convenience of digital course materials, and faculty and administrators are enthusiastic about the potential of CourseSmart Analytics, which we hope will be instrumental in helping us address key issues such as retention and improving learning outcomes."

"We appreciate CourseSmart's technology innovation, especially in the mobile arena, which is vital for our online student population," continued Ann Jenkins, Instructional Designer and Training Specialist at Iowa Community College Online Consortium.  "We have gotten a lot of positive feedback on CourseSmart's Universal Reader, which offers students a choice between page fidelity and reflowable text views online and offline, on a wide variety of mobile devices from iPads, to iPhones and Android devices."

The analytics, anywhere access, and user-determined readability are just a few of the features that are sparking a greater interest in digital adoption from a wide variety of ebook suppliers. While price is–and always will be–a major factor in determining title adoption, students have demonstrated that they will pay for quality content that meets their academic and technological needs.

CourseSmart: “Connecting Content, Curriculum, and Delivery” is a post from: E-Reader News

eBook Review: The Sunset Western Garden Book


Verdict: 5 Stars

2013 has been predicted to be the year of the enhanced ebook, despite the fact that fully interactive app books with embedded video, hyperlinks, and narration are not new. The predictions for the newer appreciation of enhanced content are really focused on the understanding that digital publishers have finally gotten it right when it comes to these bells-and-whistles approaches to reading. Rather than just incorporating multi-media features because they have the capability, publishers and app developers are targeting the technology to areas of need in reading.

One specific title that fully utilizes the capacity of the technology is The New Sunset Western Garden Book, a well-known gardening bible recreated by Inkling for tablet consumption. With alphabetical chapters by flower type, full-color high-resolution photos, an easy-to-search index, and even planning guides for creating gardens by region, the book has left its bestselling print format behind and taken complete advantage of all that an iPad can do.

“Specific features include:

  • Slideshows: Tap through more than 100 high-res photo slideshows, organized by plant, garden trend, and growing features like native plants, low-water gardens, and more.
  • More than 30 interactive images: There are approximately 30 interactive images, including 15 Climate Zone Maps with tappable poptips to help with climate zone identification and key characteristics of each zone.
  • Navigation grids: Jump straight to the content you want at a tap—and without flipping to the index
  • Gardening notes: Document your personal gardening successes—and challenges. Notes sync between devices, so you can access them whether you're on your iPad or iPhone.
  • Social sharing: Find advice from other gardeners, or share what you're reading directly to your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Your friends can instantly access whatever you've shared—for free!
  • Inkling Platform: Every title on Inkling comes equipped with features for improving how you use your book. Search for a word or phrase instantly, even looking it up in Google and Wikipedia. Sync bookmarks, create highlights and notes, and seamlessly share those notes with friends within the book itself.”

While still categorized as a useful reference for gardeners, the image quality and photos also put the Sunset book in the realm of a coffee table book with its stunning photos and slideshow feature. The Sunset book is available at full-book price or in individual chapters, just in time for spring planting from Inkling.

eBook Review: The Sunset Western Garden Book is a post from: E-Reader News

DW radio on coding in schools and Pi

DW Radio in Germany (which is broadcast in the English language) broadcast a short piece on coding in schools in the UK, with emphasis on the Pi. You can listen to it here; it’s well worth six minutes of your time, and it’s just the sort of thing we think parents and educators, here and outside the UK, should be made aware of.

Amazon Updates Kindle Touch Firmware – Mirrors Paperwhite UI

kindle touch firmware update

The Amazon Kindle Touch has had some updated firmware today, that heavily borrows UI elements from the Kindle Paperwhite e-Reader. The main homescreen has been revised and personalized book recommendations are now available.

The latest Kindle Touch firmware update updates the way collections are viewed and stored on your main screen. The Cover View feature will give you large book icons, that show off the cover art. Books not stored on your Kindle will now show up under “Cloud” and are easily synced to your reader.

When you are reading an eBook you can click on the menu and get a sense on how much longer the book is. If you are reading a particularly riveting tome, you can learn more about the author, with the new author biography system. The one thing Amazon does really well, is offer a few chapters out of books that are classified as samples. If you read a few pages, and decide you want to buy it, when the full version is downloaded, you will pick up where you left off in the sample version.

Comic Book lovers now have the guided view technology that the Kindle Paperwhite has enjoyed for the last six months. There is a huge selection of graphic novels available to buy. The guided view makes each comic panel take off the entire screen, making it easier to read the text.

The Kindle Touch was discontinued last year and the Paperwhite is the only dedicated e-Reader the company is currently marketing. It is solid to see older products get the proper loving, and all owners should check out the update. 

Amazon Updates Kindle Touch Firmware – Mirrors Paperwhite UI is a post from: E-Reader News