Amazon launched its new Kindle Comic Creator (KC2) last week with a minimum of fanfare, but it could be a game-changer.
The software allows users to upload comics, graphic novels, and manga in a variety of formats—PDF, jpg, tiff, png and ppm—and quickly convert them to Kindle e-books. They can also import EPUB and KF8 files that are created in accordance with the Kindle Publishing Guidelines. The software supports facing pages, double-page spreads, and right-to-left page turns (most common in manga), as well as Kindle Panel View, which allows readers to view the comic one panel at a time (in a flow specified by the creator), which makes for an easier read on small devices such as the Kindle Paperwhite and the iPhone and Android apps. The finished product is readable on the Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HD 8.9", Kindle Fire, Kindle Paperwhite, and Kindle Keyboard, as well as the Kindle iPad, iPhone, and Android apps.
Once the comic is uploaded and formatted, the author can upload it to the Kindle Store and retire to a small island in the Caribbean with the proceeds…
Or not. As with other Kindle books, the author sets the list price and then can choose from two royalty schemes: 35% of the list price on every book sold or 70% of the actual sale price of the book in certain territories (including the U.S.) The catch with the 70% royalty is that Amazon can reduce the selling price to match a competitor’s price for an e-book or print book, or to match their own price for a print book. It’s interesting that Amazon recognizes the general reluctance to pay more for digital than for print. Also note that Amazon takes out the cost of “delivery” before calculating the royalty; that seems to be about six cents per e-book. There are some other caveats as well, and naturally, it’s a good idea to read the terms and conditions carefully before proceeding.
Amazon’s program is not unlike comiXology Submit, which allows comics creators to upload their work to the comiXology platform. ComiXology Submit users get a 50% royalty, but that’s net, after Apple’s share (for in-app sales), or other distributor costs, and credit card fees. Brian Cronin took a close look at the terms of comiXology Submit recently at Comic Book Resources, and while the Submit and KC2 programs are quite different, this column does offer some points for prospective KC2 users to think about.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
The Kobo Aura HD was only announced yesterday and will not be available to purchase until the end of the month. Good e-Reader is proud to give you the first exclusive review of this new electronic reader. The one big hyping factor behind this new model is that it is 6.8 inches, which buckles the trend of your standard six inch reader. The resolution is also the best in the business, putting the Nook HD and Kindle Fire HD 7 to shame.
The Kobo Aura HD features a 6.8 inch touchscreen with a resolution of 1440×1080 with 265 DPI. This e-Reader is seriously the best in the business with its high-definition display. The Kindle Fire HD 7 has 1280 x 800 and the Nook HD has 1440×900. What this means, is that as an e-reader, it actually has better image quality then the majority of mainstream tablets on the market. The Aura HD also has a built in comfort light, which allows you to read in the dark, with its front-lit display. We compared the Kobo Glo and Kobo Aura HD side by side in an upcoming video, and were very surprised on the evolutionary growth of the illuminating screen. The Glo always suffered from a screen that ended up looking more blue then white, the Aura is on par, with the Kindle Paperwhite, in terms of the screen.
One of the major advantages of the new display screen Kobo is using, is that unlike the Barnes and Noble Simple Touch with Glowlight and the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, is that you can turn the illumination completely off. The Kindle and Nook both do not have the ability to totally turn off the glowing feature, you can only turn it down completely, but it is still on. This contributes to your overall battery life. The Aura has a physical switch on the top, that is much like the Glo, it will allow you to totally turn off the light. One of the upgrades on the Aura, is that the power button is now orange and the glowing button is now white. One of the most confusing elements about the Kobo Glo, was that the power button and glow button were side by side and the same color. Many users were confused on what both buttons did, this is a non-issue now.
The Kobo Aura HD is using a 1GHZ CPU processor and has 4 GB of internal memory. This is 2 GB more then the Glo offers, and you can expand the memory up to 32 GB via the Micro SD card. Battery life is fairly respectable, and you should garner a solid month of normal use.
The Aura has a way different design then prior models of e-Readers that Kobo has released in the past. They have done away with the quilted back and decided to showcase their artistic side. It has slopped grooves on the back, that should make it easier to hold in your hands. I think this design is fresh and makes it stand out in a crowded arena of e-Readers.
Overall, I am very impressed with the Kobo Aura HD. It does suffer from WIFI connectivity issues though. It tends to suppress your connection, whenever you are not actively surfing the internet or shopping for books. So if you buy a book and then open the internet browser ten minutes later, you will normally spend around a full minute to scan your WIFI connections and give you access. In most cases, it will not automatically recognize your prior hotspot or WIFI access point, and you must manually visit the settings menu and restart your connection. This makes it a bit tedious to do anything that requires internet, but to be fair, this issue has persisted from the Kobo Touch. In the end, the resolution is amazing and makes reading comics, magazines, newspapers and graphic heavy content a pure joy. It is refreshing to see a unique hardware design, although, it may not appeal to everyone.
The Kobo Aura HD has revised their main home screen, from all prior releases. In the past, your home comprised of the 4 books you have either loaded on your device or have opened up. The new screen have three main segments that have icons for everything you have done in the last 12 processes. This allows you to have short cuts to your most commonly accessed features, such as the web-browser, custom shelves, Reading Life and eBooks. The Sync feature to fetch new content is now on the main screen too, which is the only element that remains persistent. I actually like the more effective use of screen real estate. Rather then browsing four different sub-menus to access the internet browser, it will appear on your main screen, once you do it once.
I really dig the dynamic nature of the new home screen! I like how common tasks and recently accessed elements from games, to comics will appear as virtual shortcuts. One of the drawbacks is you can’t long-press to move them around or save them as persistent pseudo-widgets. That would actually be amazing, if you can organize your home area the way you like, and would not change automatically, unless you wanted it to.
Not only has the main screen changed, but most of the UI has undergone subtle enhancements from prior models. The Kobo Glo, had a black area on the bottom of the screen, and when you initiated the scroll bar to find that sweet spot with the illumination levels, the black bar would often show artifacts or ghosting from images. The new UI is completely white and most of the other sub-menus and headings are also pure white, this actually is a small, but noticeable feature.
The one thing Kobo does really well, is give you a ton of customization options in the main settings menu. You can set the page refresh rate for e-ink from 1-6 pages and give you the ability to set up the different swiping motions to turn pages. This is optimal for people living in Japan and Asia, where they are used to different ways to turn pages. There is also new games, such as a Words with Friends clone and a few others. Of course, you have your scrapbook to take advantage of the touchscreen and internet browser. There is enough options to get the most out of your e-Reader, but not too many, to confuse your average reader.
Kobo has not redone the wheel with this Aura HD e-Reader and it maintains most of the core features customers are used to. Reading Life remains on this model, which earns you awards for reading and statistics reading your reading habits. The Aura is a culmination of all of the companies experiences with making devices during the last four years. It is the most polished e-Reader they have ever released and they take some risks in the way the menus and hardware are designed.
Kobo does the best job out of any e-Reader company in the world to appeal to newbies and hardcore users alike. Their interface is simple enough that people new to the e-Reader scene can intuitively use it right away, but packs a number of advanced features underneath the hoods to appeal to the type of person that uses Calibre or wants to load in their own fonts.
The Aura HD will allow you to read most eBooks in PDF and EPUB format, and will even allow you to load in books you have purchased from other online bookstores. You will have to setup your Adobe Digital Editions account in order to this, but we will show you how, in an upcoming video tutorial. One of the other big formats is CBR and CBZ, these are the most popular format for comic books, and will allow you read them.
Obviously, the Aura HD is designed to be a pure e-Reader with minimal distractions. Kobo does the best job in the world of allowing you to customize the font-type, line-spacing, margins and text justification. Most e-Readers have a small list of seven font sizes and font types. Kobo has introduced the slider bar, which really gives you more freedom to find that sweet spot. When we spoke with Kobo last year, they said there is over 1.3 million different combinations you can tweak. If these options are not enough, you can hit the advanced settings and also adjust a number of other options, such as weight and saturation. It actually gives you a before and after scenario, so you can see how it looks right now, and how it would look if you saved your settings. This is one of the best features Kobo has ever introduced.
When you are reading a book, you have a number of options you can employ. It is quite easy to long-press on a word and get an instant definition of it. If you speak another language, you can look the word up in Japanese, Italian, German, Dutch and many more. When long-pressing a word, you get a anchor, that will allow you to select a single word, sentence or entire paragraph. You can then highlight it, or add a note. When you add a note, you can use the shiny new keyboard Kobo has introduced! The new keyboard is light years better then the one used on the Glo. The most notable addition is the line of numbers above your alpha keyboard. Since there is Facebook and a web-browser, entering passwords would be something you will be doing often. These days, most passwords are a combination of letters and numbers, and this keyboard makes it easier then ever before.
When it comes to larger screen e-Readers, people want to read PDF files. As old as the format is, it is still one of the most popular ones in the world, and everything from comics to newspapers and magazines are easily found in this format. The Aura HD uses the same PDF rendering engine as the Glo uses. You cannot pinch and zoom, like you can in the Sony PRS-T2, but you do have a virtual scrolling and zoom platform. You can scroll around each page in the PDF document and in the top left hand corner, see where you are in the document. This helps ground and give you a sense of orientation on where exactly you are. Once you find that sweet spot, you can drag your figure to the right, and turn the page. When you turn the page, all of your zoomed settings are retained. Most e-Readers negate any formatting you have done on a PDF when you do this, this is a useful feature.
There is seldom any e-Readers on the market that give you the flexibility in augmenting your reading experience then Kobo. The slider bars give you unparallelled customization options with your fonts, or the comfort light slider. Loading in your own fonts and creating your own custom shelves is a boon. Speaking of custom shelves, when you display your books as cover art, you can actually fit 12 books per page, where the Glo only let you did six. Fitting more content in, is an effective use of screen real-estate, which I am a huge advocate of.
When it comes to high resolution displays, customers often gravitate towards full color tablets, then they do e-Readers. This has been the growing trend in the last few years, and its completely amazing to see a brand stay loyal and committed to their e-ink line of devices. Simply put, the Kobo Aura HD has the highest resolution out of any six or seven inch tablet or e-Reader in the world. If images and clarity of text matter to you, this is a must purchase.
These days, the use of tablets is growing at a rapid pace. People are forgoing a dedicated e-Reader and instead buying an iPad or Android device. When you are reading a book, it is often very distracting to have notifications from emails, messages or gaming updates. We have all been in the position when you are reading a book and something else takes you out of that experience and you get sidetracked. As much as people are proclaiming that e-Readers are on their way out, people want to JUST READ BOOKS!
The Aura HD is poised to be released April 29th and will cost a paltry $169.99 in Canada and the US. It is available for pre-order right now via Shop e-Readers and likely will not hit the international markets for a number of weeks or months. Normally new devices are highly available in North America, and then make their way overseas as the demand starts to taper off. One of the drawbacks of the Kobo brand, is that it suffers from retail visibility in the US, but is highly available at indie bookstores participating with the American Booksellers Association.
Best Resolution and DPI in the Business
WIFI is prone to randomly disconnect
At 9pm this evening, Helen, who manages the Raspberry Pi Facebook and G+ accounts (when she’s not on maternity leave) gave birth to the first Raspberry Pi project baby. Alexander Joseph Lynn is a new brother for John, and we can’t wait to meet him. Congratulations, Helen, Tom and John – we’re all looking forward to seeing all of you very soon!
Tomorrow is National Bookmobile Day. How are you celebrating? We wanted to highlight some milestones and show appreciation for the hard work of hundreds of libraries that have kept OverDrive's Digital Bookmobile going for nearly four years.
If you've had the Digital Bookmobile visit your library, please feel free to share your experience in the comments section. To learn more about the Digital Bookmobile, see our upcoming events, and request the Digital Bookmobile make a stop at your library, visit www.digitalbookmobile.com.
Thanks to all the libraries that have hosted us over the years and helped us generate buzz by promoting in their community, inviting local media to the event and assisting visitors on the Digital Bookmobile.
We also send a big thanks to our Dynamic Duo on the road, Don Smith (Truck Driver) and Kristijan Medis (Digital Bookmobile Specialist), for all the hard work you do!
Don’t forget to tell us why your library loves eBooks for a chance to win a prize during National Library Week!
Cassie Renner is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive.
Attention OverDrive Partners! Do you excel with eBooks? Are you an audiobook ambassador? An eBook educator? Marketing maven? Promotional powerhouse? If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions or are at least curious as to what I'm talking about… keep reading!
• Inside the Library – How are you making your physical branch aware of your 'Virtual Branch'? Examples could include unique shelving and displays; patron training classes; gadget galleries; staff training; in-library events.
There is a combination of leaked firmware and overseas firmware updates for the Blackberry Z10 that disables the ability to load in your own Android apps. UK providers such as Orange and mobile carriers in Germany are pushing out a new firmware update today. Many customers in North America have also tried out the new build to see what new features are lurking inside. We have numerous confirmed reports that when you load this firmware in, you cannot load in BAR files anymore. People have also tried downgrading the OS and loading in apps still does not work. The only known solution right now is to security wipe your entire device and use the stock operating system.
Normally, whenever a new version of an OS comes out, it is a cause for celebration. It often packs in new features and enhancements that makes peoples day! Unfortunately, if you are a fan of loading in your own BAR files, that are not available on Blackberry World, I would avoid this update at all costs. Remember, you can download over 3,000 Playbook and BB10 Apps, such as Comixology, Kobo, Marvel Comics and thousands of games at the Good e-Reader APP Store.
When Eben was at PyCon last month, he spent some time with the Huffington Post. Here’s the video that resulted from that. If you’re having trouble watching it here (there are some geographical restrictions, it seems), head over to Huffington Post to view it there.
If you’ve been wondering what happened to PIE, the Raspberry Pi camera-equipped balloon Dave Akerman launched on Saturday (with considerable hinderance from me, Eben and JamesH), Dave’s blogged about the launch and its aftermath. Most exciting of all, for us, was the new record Dave bagged with this balloon: it went even higher than his original Pi in the Sky attempt, and, at 40.35km (that’s a kilometer higher than Felix Baumgartner’s jump last year), now holds the record for the highest pictures transmitted in real time from an amateur device.
When I was a very little girl, I was given one of those mylar helium-filled balloons, and lost it almost immediately. I was comforted by my Dad, who told me a new story every day about the country he calculated the ballon must be flying over. Five-year-old me never imagined that one day, I’d get to send up a globetrotting balloon and be able to track it for real.
After flying out across East Anglia, over the North Sea, Netherlands and Germany, PIE ran out of batteries somewhere over Switzerland in the early hours of Sunday morning. Dave believes it probably burst when it reached France later that day and warmed up with the heat of the sun, which will have made the balloon expand and rise. It’s unlikely it’ll be recovered, but we’re hoping some kind soul finds it and responds to the message Dave wrote on the payload. We had a fantastic time following PIE’s adventures, and were particularly tickled when someone in Stuttgart tweeted to let us know that they’d spotted it as it floated near the city!
PIE went up with one of our prototype camera boards, which Dave had switched to the auto setting. It performed brilliantly right up until it got into the stratosphere, when it started having trouble with the very pronounced contrast between the darkness of space and the brightness of the sun. This is something we can address in tuning for later flights, but it did produce a rather wonderful artefact which looked for all the world like a giant Raspberry Pi logo in space. (Sheer serendipity: this wasn’t planned.)
PIE wasn’t the only balloon launched from that muddy field on Saturday. Anthony Stirk launched AVA, which is the balloon Eben is holding in both pictures above. AVA burst over Austria, and the payload was recovered by a group of local high altitude ballooning (HAB) enthusiasts. And you’d have to be very enthusiastic to go and fetch AVA, because it had landed 1600m up, on the peak of a snowy mountain. The Slovakian team who went up to fetch AVA (equipped with ski poles and a radio antenna) sent back some pictures which were nearly as good as PIE’s pictures from space. Click the photo to visit Anthony’s blog, and to read the whole story.
Alex Eames from RasPi.TV edited the long video stream of the couple of hours around the launch down to…just the exciting bit. (There’s no sound; your speakers aren’t broken!) I am running at the end through sheer excitement, not panic.
JamesH also took some higher-resolution video of the launch, which I’ll add here when it’s available.
I’ll leave you with a picture from Andy Potter, whose message momentarily had me believing that PIE had been spotted from the ground in the Swiss Alps. Thanks to everybody, especially Dave and Anthony, for a great weekend’s ballooning!
New innovative technology from Fujitsu Technologies allows for just about any object to be used as a touchscreen interface that responds to finger based inputs. It is intuitive without needing any fancy hardware to achieve what it promises. Instead, it’s just a commercial projector combined with a webcam that is strong enough to capture hand motions, though the real magic lies with the image processing software that the system utilizes.
The object is mapped to measure its shape, which is then fed to the camera and the projector adjusts its co-ordinates accordingly. This way, when the finger touches the object, the system can synchronize with the finger’s movements. The system adapts to work seamlessly not only for flat surfaces like a sheet of paper, but even for curved surfaces like that of a book. To achieve this, a low res 320 x 180 pixel camera is used to accurately determine the exact position of the fingertip.
“Using a low-res webcam gives a fuzzy picture, but the system calculates 3D positions with high precision, by compensating through image processing.”
This is particularly important since if the finger is detected even a pixel away, this would translate to the height getting changed by a cm.
The technology can be used to extract information from any printed material such as a piece of paper or a book. The material can be text or even images.
“For example, we think this system could be used to show detailed information at a travel agent’s counter, or when you need to fill in forms at City Hall.”
“We aim to develop a commercial version of this system by fiscal 2014. It’s still at the demonstration level, so it’s not been used in actual settings. Next, we’d like to get people to use it for actual tasks, see what issues arise, and evaluate usability. We want to reflect such feedback in this system.”
Fujitsu had earlier wowed visitors at the last edition of MWC event with its innovate virtual keyboard technology.
Click on the video below for a better understanding.