Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sourcebooks Adds New Favorites to Put Me In The Story Platform


Sourcebooks launched its highly innovative personalized children’s reading experience only a few months ago, but in that time, the Put Me In The Story platform has grown to include some of the most beloved characters in all of children’s reading. Today, Sourcebooks announced the addition of the Berenstain Bears,  a classic for over fifty years.

"We are delighted the Berenstain Bears will be part of the exciting interactive experience of Put Me in the Story," said Mike Berenstain in a press release. "We hope kids and families everywhere will be able to enjoy our books in a fun new way by becoming part of the story themselves."

"We are thrilled to provide children with treasured Berenstain Bears stories, available for the first time in personalized form," continued Dominique Raccah, CEO and publisher of Sourcebooks. "These books engage children's imaginations and encourage a love of reading. Now parents will be able to create a personalized book that integrates their child's name throughout these classic stories. With the addition of Berenstain Bears, Put Me In the Story is creating an even greater bond through and with books, and changing how kids grow with books."

The Put Me In The Story platform is innovative in part due to the ability of any publisher to take advantage of the level of sophistication and personalization that it offers. Besides encouraging works from other publishers to be adapted for the iPad, users can also order custom print editions of the book which incorporate the personalization from the tablet app.

The Berenstain Bears join the likes of childhood favorites from Sesame Street in the Elmo Loves You! app, Dream Big, Little Pig by Kristi Yamaguchi, and Jennifer Fosberry’s New York Times bestselling titles  My Name Is Not Isabella and My Name Is Not Alexander.

Sourcebooks Adds New Favorites to Put Me In The Story Platform is a post from: E-Reader News

Kobo Aura HD and Kobo Glo Video Comparison

kobo aura hd vs kobo glo

The Kobo Glo was the companies first attempt at making an e-Reader utilizing the same type of front-lite technology that we saw with the Kindle Paperwhite and Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight. The Aura, is the companies latest product offering and really refines all aspects of software and hardware. This video comparison shows you the main distinctions between the two devices and what you can expect if you are on the fence about purchasing either of these.

The Kobo Aura HD has a few main selling points, the 6.8 screen and the 1440 x 1024 resolution. It simply blows away any other e-reader of this size currently available and even destroys most 7 inch tablets. The front-lit display really refines what they did with the Glo, and gives the Kindle Paperwhite a run for its money.

This video comparison really shows you the hardware and software differences between these two e-readers. The Aura HD has a new homescreen and lots of subtle UI elements. You will get a strong sense of what makes these two very unique, going head to head.

Kobo Aura HD and Kobo Glo Video Comparison is a post from: E-Reader News

Celebrate Teen Literature Day: Hooray for YA!



Throughout National Library Week, we've honored our beloved library workers, put a spotlight on the Digital Bookmobile and Thursday April 18th, we celebrate teen literature!


Contrary to what some may believe, not all teen lit falls into the vampire romance category – although there are some spectacular love stories featuring blood thirsty, pale Edward Cullen types. (Check out "Resurrected" and "The Vampire Diaries" series.)


No matter what your taste, you'll find there's a wide variety of young adult (YA) literature to choose from. There are contemporary stories, historical fiction and dystopian futures. Speaking of dystopian futures, now is a great time to get hooked on the Insurgent Trilogy, starting with "Divergent" before it becomes a movie next year.


Looking to stock up on YA content for your collection? You're in luck! Through the month of April, over 1,300 kids and teens titles are on sale in Content Reserve. Some popular books that are 30% off this month include:


"All Good Children" by Catherine Austen

If you've ever thought the solution to wild children and sullen teens might be brainwashing them into obedience, you could see where the citizens of New Middletown are coming from in this futuristic eBook. Understandably, some teens aren't thrilled with that plan and Maxwell Connors and his best friend Dallas take matters into their own hands to protect themselves, their family and stop everyone around them from becoming 'zombies'.


"Three Little Words" by Sarah N. Harvey

Sixteen-year-old Sid has great foster parents but when he learns disturbing news about his birth family, he goes on a mission to search for a biological brother he never knew he had.


"Winter White" by Jen Calonita

This audiobook is the second in the "Belles" series, catching up with newly discovered sisters, Isabelle Scott and Mirabelle Monroe, as they prepare for a cotillion. Recommended for lovers of soap-opera style scandal, secrets and family drama.


Coming soon to help promote your teen titles throughout the year, we’ll have new young adult bookmarks that feature some of the highest circulating eBooks and audiobooks for your tween and teen readers. Check back soon for the link to download these new marketing materials!


For our public librarians, you may also grab the attention of a few readers outside of that teen demographic. Just as your digital collections provide anonymity for patrons who want to read "Fifty Shades of Grey" and other romance novels but aren't comfortable carrying around the paperbacks with suggestive titles and pictures of shirtless men, you'll find that many adults will devour your YA eBooks and audiobooks who would never think to browse the teen section in your physical branches.


As a teen literature lover, I've recently read "Bumped" and the sequel "Thumped" by Megan McCafferty and "Every Day" by David Levithan. What teen titles are you currently reading? Let us know in the comments here on the blog or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. While you’re leaving comments, don’t forget to stop over to the National Library Worker’s Day post and leave a comment about why your library loves eBooks for a chance to win prizes!


Melissa Marin is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive.


Sales and Deals Roundup – 4/17/13

Looking around the web today there are some ebooks, ereaders, and tablets on sale. And if you don’t mind buying something refurbished there are some really good deals to be had, like a 32GB Google Nexus 10 for $429 or a Kindle Touch for $69. The Kobo Mini is on sale again too, and there’s [...]

Amazon to Expand their App Store to 200 Countries


Amazon has announced that they will be expanding the footprint of their Android App Store to over 200 different countries this summer. This will give customers in Canada, Brazil, Australia and many more the ability to download and purchase apps. Developers are encouraged to submit their apps and aim them at those specific countries. This is a boon for anyone with a Kindle Fire tablet, and find its very hard to get any type of apps or games within the Amazon ecosystem.

Currently, the Amazon Android App Store only works in the US and five European countries. This prevents the majority of the world from downloading any newspapers, magazines, games or apps from their store, unless they have a US credit card and billing address. The expansion will finally fuel a massive growth spurt and start giving Google Play a run for their money.

Amazon Kindle Fire tablet sales have tapered off since the new product line was unveiled late last year. When Amazon expands to all of those countries you can bet that more people will be buying dedicated Kindle Fire devices, because they can actually use them. The one main difference between Amazon and Google, is that Amazon runs a curated app store. This gives people a higher quality app experience, because humans manually verify all submissions. Amazon Coins is a new virtual currency program, that will also be available this summer, for most of the world.

Amazon to Expand their App Store to 200 Countries is a post from: E-Reader News

The “Limited Edition” eReader: A New Trend?

When Kobo announced their new Aura HD eReader two days ago, I was overwhelmed with excitement. Within seconds of seeing Nathan’s post on my Google Reader feed, I was on Kobo’s website placing my pre-order. The Aura HD embodies everything I have ever wanted in an E Ink device: a real HD E Ink [...]

Top 5 Comic Book Android Apps for the Blackberry Playbook

playbook comic apps

The Blackberry Playbook may not have a ton of native apps written for it, and Blackberry World is a veritable barren wasteland of content. The Good e-Reader App Store exclusively focuses on Android apps that are confirmed working on the Playbook, we obviously are more concerned with quality apps, then what Blackberry does. We have compiled a review of the Top 5 comic book reading apps that perform the best with the Playbook.

Over the course of this review video we take a look at Dark Horse, Comixology, Marvel Comics, Manga Reader 2 and Mango. All of these apps have different functionality and tap into deep ecosystems of graphic novels, comic books and manga. By the end of our review, you will get a strong sense of what each of these apps bring to the table, and there is something for everyone!

If you are interested in downloading any of these apps, or finding instructions on how to load them into your Blackberry Playbook, check out the Good e-Reader BB10 and Playbook App Store. We have also introduced a new APK to BAR converter tool, that will make the process of converting Android files to a Playbook friendly format, you can check it out HERE.

Top 5 Comic Book Android Apps for the Blackberry Playbook is a post from: E-Reader News

How Pixar Used Moore’s Law to Predict the Future

Whether you call it a data-driven prediction or think of it as a self-fulfilling prophecy, Moore’s Law has been going strong. It’s approaching half a century despite frequent observations that it can’t continue forever (Gordon Moore himself only gave it a decade).

Moore’s formulation was that the density of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles every 18 months. (He actually first said 12 months, then 24 months — but the average stuck. It’s a “law,” not a law, after all.) But here’s my way of formulating Moore’s Law: Everything good about computers gets an order of magnitude better every five years....

Meet Babbage the Bear!

Your votes have been counted: there was a clear winner. Congratulations to Fergal Butler, who was the first person to respond to the original post with the name Babbage.

Well done Fergus! Emma will be in touch with you next week to get your address. The prototype bear has already found a home with Clive’s little girl, and production Babbage won’t be with us for a couple of weeks, but we’ll make sure yours is the first to be sent out.


Raspberry-VI: accessibility for visually impaired Pi users

Liz: We’ve had some really interesting conversations this year with visually impaired users of the Raspberry Pi. Accessibility on the Pi is something the community’s been working on since we launched; Michael Ray started a Raspberry-vi (vi stands for visually impaired) mailing list has been running for a while now, and the group behind it have made some serious advancements in accessibility on the Pi. Jason Miller mailed me to let me know he had Emacs/Emacspeak working, and stable. Michael is working on Speakup at the moment for Raspbian, and Jason and Mobeen Iqbal are working with him on getting it ready for Arch Linux too. All three of them are totally blind. This whole area’s really fascinating; it’s very hard to get to a point where work that’s been done by sighted users can be totally adapted so that blind users don’t need any sighted assistance at all. I asked them if they had a few words for us about just how they approached the problem, and Jason sent me what’s below. 

We’ve pushed the Emacs/Emacspeak Arch image the guys released out to the Raspberry Pi mirrors network, so please click the link if you’d like to download it.


With no screen-reader or Braille display support out-of-the-box in any of the Linux distros so far available for the Pi, as visually-impaired hackers our only approach was to connect to the beast using SSH from a client machine running access tools.  In my case that is a Windows PC running an Open Source screen-reader called NVDA.


As for myself, I’ve been connecting to the Pi using SSH from another Linux box, be it a Ubuntu derivative called Vinux, or from an Archlinux machine.

Many of us searched around, be it through the Raspberry Pi forums, through the Orca accessibility lists, or in the speakup mailing list for accessible solutions. I’ve also found people asking about making Emacspeak work on the Pi as well. There seem to have been the needle in a haystack of “I’ve got it working” or “I’ve got it talking” but no proof, no images to go from, and no steps on how to accomplish the task of making it accessible so one needs absolutely no sighted assistance.


For blind techies like the three of us, email reflectors are a valuable way to share ideas and experience with others.  So I created the raspberry-vi list.

Two other Linux and Pi, erm, interested parties (this is more polite than geeks) quickly joined the list; Jason Miller in the USA and Mobeen Iqbal from the north of England.  Both of these guys have been involved with other Linux projects connected with accessibility for the visually impaired. Indeed the three of us are all totally blind.

With Mo’s help we created the web-site to go with the list, and Jason and I set about trying to get some accessibility tools running.


Mike, myself and Mo have talked about what could be possible with the Pi, what we can do to help bring this to fruition, and also how it could impact the rest of the VI/blind community. We don’t want just an accessible image, if it has to come with the price tag of being a bit buggy. Mike has been working with the Raspbian image, as it is closest to what most VI and blind user’s of Linux are used to with Debian and Vinux. I myself, have been working solely with Arch for Arm, because of the simplistic approach, and the responsiveness of the system.

Mike was working with YASR, but stability was, to say the least, unobtainable. He would be lucky if YASR would stay up and running for more than 10 minutes at a time, and I believe his personal best time, with different synthesizers has been half of an hour. In his eyes, as well as Mo’s and mine, that wasn’t good enough to release. At this point, I started to look into Speakup, as well as Emacs with Emacspeak, and finally Orca in XFCE.

I did some basic work with Speakup, and realized I would probably have to recompile the kernel. I also toyed around with Emacspeak, never really learning how to use it before. I finally did some testing with Orca, and XFCE, but unfortunately at the moment, it’s not working as I would like. Back to Emacspeak.

I managed to get something up and running, but only after hours and hours of building, tinkering, and scrapping the image, only to restart. At first, I had it start Emacs, but the speech server wouldn’t start. When I tried scripting a log file to see what was the issue, for some reason starting the script made the speech server start… I can’t understand what or why, but at least we had a beginning point of something finally working.

Again though, that’s buggy, and I could have made a hack to work around that, but didn’t wish to release something that was, what I considered, unstable. When I started again, I followed the same steps as before, building everything under a user account instead of a root account. Same errors, but this time, even scarting a log file didn’t get the speech server to start up. It was worse, and I had to issue a “sudo reboot” command to get it to shut off.

This is when I decided to sit down, and go through every package installed for Emacspeak to work. Going through every folder, every program supposedly linked to the server, I had to clean up files, tweak build scripts, and remove/reinstall everything.

Finally one evening after who knows how many hours of tweaking, and working, I gave it one last shot. Started the Pi, and connected through an SSH session, started Emacspeak, and it worked. received the loading messages, and finally the final functioning message. We have stability. I gave it one last test for stability by blindly logging into the Pi without SSH, directly into it. Started Emacspeak, and same, working and stable.

Now, the group, Michael and myself are working on speakup. He has had great success on Raspbian, and should have an image shortly for download, and myself, well, I like Arch, so once I can get back to working on things we’ll see what happens. My next goal, after speakup is getting a working, accessible desktop on the Pi. It looks like our best bet may be XFCE and Orca at this moment.

Finally, what would I like to see? Don’t ever disable SSH login  by default. A lot of VI users will definitely need that. Also, for those of us using speech, getting rid of those pops right off the bat with audio would be more than a huge help as well.

Thank you for designing the Pi, and keeping it low cost. It lets us nerds and tinkerers in the VI community have an affordable way to both get our hands dirty, and once speakup is working, offers a way to learn Linux to those that aren’t everyday users.

Interested in the Raspberry Pi, and accessibility? Check out the websitefor RPi accessibility, or if would you like to take part in discussion on accessibility on it, join the discussion group.

eBook Review: Earthquake, Fire and Epidemic


Verdict: 5 Stars

In this look at one of the most devastating natural disasters in US history, digital publishing is responsible for a number of key factors. First, the timeliness of the book is important, as ebook-only publisher Untreed Reads released the title to coincide with the anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and resulting fire that destroyed San Francisco. But perhaps more importantly, this work was created to dispel a lot of the long-held beliefs about the San Francisco earthquake, which can be a risky investment for a more traditional publisher, especially when some of the incorrect beliefs and myths that are explained in the book border on conspiracy.

Authors Gladys Hansen, Richard Hansen, and Dr. F. William Blaisdell, all highly respected and honored in their fields, sorted through exhaustive archives on the event that historians have long believed claimed the lives of 478 people. Their research, begun by Gladys Hansen almost forty years ago, led to the conclusion that the number is actually closer to three thousand people. But after noting the diligence and quick work of the city leadership in gathering personal accounts from the event and storing newspaper articles from papers around the country whose reporters covered the devastation, the logical conclusion in the face of so much stored up evidence is that the city’s political and economic leadership attempted to downplay the horror of the event.

Still other myths about that event are also closely examined by the authors. A rumored street riot sparking a brawl between members of two of the city’s immigrant populations apparently never took place. The rumors about the mass shootings of private citizens by US soldiers were apparently false, as well. Possibly most disturbing, the researchers were able to uncover numerous leads and documents that point to the existence of crucial records and accounts of the events, records that were commissioned by the city leadership, only those records have vanished, possibly because they contain evidence of the devastation that the leadership didn’t want coming to light.

Most appealing from a historical and literary standpoint, however, is the fact that this title does what the various committees formed immediately after the earthquake were supposed to do: gather personal accounts from the people who lived it. Their stories are finally being told, more than 100 years later.

Earthquake, Fire and Epidemic is available now for e-readers and compatible devices at Untreed Reads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and more.

eBook Review: Earthquake, Fire and Epidemic is a post from: E-Reader News

New Steps Towards Allowing In-Flight Electronic Devices


Anyone who has traveled by plane has felt the frustration of being required to endure a long flight sans certain electronic devices. While restrictions were eased to allow some electronics such as e-readers, tablets, and laptops during certain portions of the flight, and many airlines now offer in-flight pay-as-you-go internet access, the ban on device use is still too restrictive for some consumers.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has been at work on easing the restrictions on in-flight use of portable devices in light of the lack of scientific evidence that the devices do, in fact, interfere with the flight controls in some detrimental way. That reported interference is a long-standing belief, but McCaskill states that no evidence has been brought forward to support that belief.

"It appears to me to not be grounded in any type of data or evidence whatsoever," McCaskill said in a press release on the ban. As she explained in a Commerce Committee meeting on aviation safety, these rules seem almost arbitrary in light of the fact that they are not in place for the numerous people who travel on Air Force One, all presumably with portable devices. The photo of then-Secretary of State reading a text on her cell phone from her seat aboard an air transport even became a popular Internet meme. "If it's safe enough for the President of the United States, it's safe enough for the traveling public.”

In addition to the lack of evidence that would support the ban, McCaskill has pointed to the airlines’ own standards. Many airlines have replaced the manuals that pilots originally used in the cockpit with tablet computers, the same devices that passengers aboard those same planes are not allowed to use for the entire flight, rather having their devices relegated to key times in travel.

McCaskill has had words with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Michael Huerta, and has stated that his lack of response on the issue has prompted her to move forward in drafting legislation that will address the issue. McCaskill is already receiving support for lifting this ban from the FCC and from other members of Congress from both parties.

New Steps Towards Allowing In-Flight Electronic Devices is a post from: E-Reader News

Bear deadlock

We’ve been choosing bear names for the competition today. We ended up with a shortlist of the best names, and set to voting.

Thirty seconds after this, the shouting started. Note that Gordon has drawn a Darlington pair (badly) to explain things to the software guys, who are slow to catch on.

Unfortunately, we ended up in deadlock, with four votes each for Darlington and Babbage. Eben went so far as to try cheating, and added some extra ticks when he thought nobody was looking.

Eben, cheating

So we’ve decided we need your help. The two choices we’ve boiled things down to are Babbage and Darlington. We’d like you to let us know which you prefer. Please leave a comment letting us know which is your favourite! (Babbage and Darlington only, please; we know some of you want to call the bear Pinus after Linus Torvalds, but there were all kinds of problems with that.)

3M Signs New Deal with the BiblioTech Digital Library


The BiblioTech Digital Library gained a ton of attention when it was first announced in January. Bexar County in San Antonio will be launching the first pure digital library in the United States in the fall. The library plans on outfitting a massive computer lab and intends to lend out 100 e-readers to the public. The big hyping point is that the organizers want to make the entire operation give you the look and feel as an Apple Store. In order to facilitate the digital content, they have formed a new partnership with the 3M Cloud Library Service.

3M will be bringing its titles from Penguin and many other top publishers when the BiblioTech Digital Library opens this fall. There was much speculation in the library industry on who exactly would land this contract. This new library will be super high-end and will be followed closely to see if an all digital library will work, that actually has a physical location.

Nelson Wolff is the man spearheading the initiative in Bexar County and told me that the entire project will cost $250,000 for the first 10,000 ebook titles. The intention behind this entire system is to allow people living in outlying areas to get access to books where they normally wouldn't.

3M Signs New Deal with the BiblioTech Digital Library is a post from: E-Reader News

Sony Reader Store to Announce New Partnership with idreambooks

idreambooks sony

The Sony Reader Store obviously has new management and the company has been working very hard lately to add new features to its online bookstore. Recently they have added Discover Map and a revised UK store, with tons of features. Sony, is forming a partnership with iDreambooks to tap into their wellspring of ratings and critic reviews.

Kobo and Sony both relied on the GoodReads API to tap into their extensive user reviews and ratings for their eBooks. When Amazon purchased GoodReads a few weeks ago, it put the stores in a uncomfortable position. It is only a matter of time before the public API is pulled and online bookstores will have to either develop their own review system or partner with existing companies. Sony decided to do business with idreambooks, which could be compared to Rotten Tomatoes. The company aggregates critic reviews and provides recommendations based on them.

idreambooks was originally founded in March 2012 and launched in July. Their business model centers around the aggregation of literary reviews from publications like the NYTimes and Washington Post and recommends books that were given a positive rating by 70% of critics. It functions a bit like RottenTomatoes or Metacritic in terms of eBooks and mainly focuses on bestsellers or perennial favorites. Currently the company is adding reviews from all top-tier publications going as far back as 2008 in the next couple of weeks. They have thousands available right now, and tend to add more every day.

We spoke to a idreambooks spokesman to get a sense on what the deal was about. He said “If you look at the twitter account of NYTimes books, it has around 700k followers and NPR books has round 100k followers. People care about what experts think about new books that are coming out. It is because of this Sony wants to use our ratings and reviews. We don’t have 100% coverage for all the books Sony has in it’s eBook store simply because bestsellers, books from big publishers….or the ‘head’ so to speak…is what gets reviewed in major publications. That’s what we have coverage for and we are expanding coverage for the head as well. They want to use our ratings and reviews to drive book discovery and enhance user experience.”

There is no release date in mind, but the deal should be officially announced at the end of the week. I applaud Sony for redoubling their efforts on their Reader Store. There was a time, not too long ago, where their online presence was very stagnant, and they lagged behind every other major company, in terms of innovation. It seems like in the last few months, they have been introducing a copious amount of new enhancements to their site. Currently, Sony is working on the PRS-T3, which should be announced within the next month.

Sony Reader Store to Announce New Partnership with idreambooks is a post from: E-Reader News