Monday, April 22, 2013

A storm’s a brewin – The Kobo and Barnes and Noble e-Reader Situation


The Kobo Aura HD was first announced on April 15th at the London Book Fair and the company announced that it will begin rolling it out to all retail locations by April 25th. This e-Reader bypassed the companies normal product release cycle, of September and October for most of their new gadgets. So what prompted them to release a new digital reader when the Mini, Arc and Glo was just just announced late September 2012? The Answer is quite surprising.

Barnes and Noble had been working with e-Ink Holdings to develop a followup to their year old Nook Simple Touch Reader with Glowlight. Close to 300,000 e-Readers were originally manufactured and earmarked for Barnes and Noble, but Kobo swooped in when the deal fell through to get a new product out the door. This is why when Kobo announced the product, vs when it ships, was very close. This entire situation puts B&N in a terrible position because their entire e-Reader product line is woefully outdated and they are having a hard time just giving them away when customers buy the Nook HD.

The entire Aura HD saga is a weird one, because this is the time of year when Barnes and Noble has traditionally announced new e-Readers for the past four years. The fact that they missed their normal product release cycle for e-ink devices is quite concerning for most people in the industry.

The big issue with Barnes and Noble is whats next? They missed their goal is expanding to numerous countries within one year, when they first announced it mid-last-year. The were supposed to open up more markets in Europe and never did. Nook Press was the only major thing they have launched over the course of the last five months, and is a project still lacking many core features that Amazon and Kobo both have.

I am very worried about the future of Barnes and Noble. They have two major investment partners with Microsoft and Pearson, which helped them make the entire Nook empire separate from the book business. This insures that if the retail sector ever tanks, it won’t effect whats happening with their e-Readers, tablets and eBooks. The main question, is who is in charge of Nook Media, why aren’t they innovating, where are they asleep at the wheel? Why aren’t they expanding into more markets? The USA market is drying up due to the competitive nature of eBooks and e-Readers. The big reason Kobo and Amazon are successful is because they do nothing BUT expand.

A storm’s a brewin – The Kobo and Barnes and Noble e-Reader Situation is a post from: E-Reader News

Independent Booksellers Pick Year’s Top Books

indies choicebookawards_sticker_1

With all of the prestigious accolades an author can earn for his writing, some of the more meaningful ones come from the lesser known judges. One such award is the Indies Choice Award, as the judges are none other than the member booksellers of the American Booksellers’ Association, the individuals who hand sell the titles to loyal bookshop patrons and have firsthand knowledge of the quality of content that their customers clamor for.

The categories for this year’s awards included adult fiction, adult non-fiction, adult debut author, and young adult titles, along with the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards for middle reader and picture book. Also named this year was the newly coined Indie Champion Award, formerly known as the award for Most Engaging Author. The awards categories continued with the list of honoree titles in each of the categories.

The Adult Fiction winner for this year is The Round House: A Novel, by Louise Erdrich (Harper), while the Adult Non-Fiction winner is Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed (Knopf). The highly-acclaimed novel, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (Dutton Juvenile), earned top honors for Young Adult Book of the Year.

Several beloved children’s books were also inducted into the Picture Book Hall of Fame: Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban, Lillian Hoban (Illus.) (HarperCollins), Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobokina (HarperCollins), Harold and the Purple Crayon, by Crockett Johnson (HarperCollins), and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith (Illus.) (Viking Juvenile).

The award winners will be honored at a lunch held in conjunction with BookExpo America on May 30th. For a complete list of the winning titles and their authors, click here.

Independent Booksellers Pick Year’s Top Books is a post from: E-Reader News

JB Hi-Fi Launches new eBook Store in Australia


JB Hi-Fi is a retail store with over 150 locations in Australia. The company carries a number of e-Readers from Kobo, Sony and a few others. Not content with making slim margins on hardware sales they have launched a new online eBook store to help differentiate themselves in a crowded Australian digital scene.

JB HiFi NOW Books is the name of the new bookstore and all of the electronic offerings have DRM encryption. This means you will have to use Adobe Digital Editions to transfer the books over to the e-Reader of your choice. If you want to forgo an e-Reader altogether, you can download the new reading apps for iOS and Android.

A number of major publishers have attached themselves to this new store, so you should be able to find most of the perennial bestsellers. HarperCollins, Penguin, Random House, Allen & Unwin, Hachette, Lonely Planet, Pan Macmillan and Text Publishing are the major ones.

“Books are a natural extension of the home entertainment content offering in which our regular customers are already heavily engaged,” said the spokesperson. “The JB HiFi online and digital ecosystems are a perfect environment for us to engage our customers with the rapidly growing ebook category, linking in with our extensive IT hardware offer and popular gift card program.”

JB Hi-Fi Launches new eBook Store in Australia is a post from: E-Reader News

Kindle Amnesty Program Unveiled in Australia


Amazon has one of the most closed ecosystems in the world. When you buy eBooks from the e-commence giant, they are incompatible with any other e-Reader or tablet. Many people are either for or against this business model, but Booksellers group Pages & Pages, is firmly against it. On the 3rd Saturday of every month Pages & Pages will be declaring a Kindle Amnesty. Purchase a BeBook Touch on that day and trade a Kindle in at the same time and Pages & Pages will give you a $50 Gift Voucher.

Amazon has over 65% of the eBook market in Australia and over 75% of eReaders owned in Australia are Kindles. Pages & Pages realizes that the average customer has no idea that they are locked into the walled garden of Amazon. Pages, is seeking to educate the broader Australian sector with Kobo and Bebook e-Readers that are eBook agnostic. Their primary eBook format is EPUB, which allows you to shop at any online bookstore and load the books right on your device.

General Manager, Pages & Pages Booksellers said in a recent blog post that “Pages & Pages is no longer sitting passively by while Amazon steals our customers and steals their reading choices. Through this campaign we want people to understand what Amazon is doing and make an informed choice to have choice.”

He went on to say that “The eBook is not a threat to physical bookshops. This new format presents bookshops and readers with many wonderful opportunities to sell and read more books. What does threaten bookshops is a company who engages in uncompetitive behaviour, pays no tax in Australia and misleads readers with restrictive devices and fake book reviews.”

Kindle Amnesty Program Unveiled in Australia is a post from: E-Reader News

App Store Revenue: Google Play Store Registers Steady Growth, Though Apple App Store Still Dominating

Apple App Store

Gadget sales only make a company money once, and that’s if the devices aren’t sold at cost, but the app stores account for a sustained source of steady income. That is how things stand for the biggies in the business, with Apple raking in $1.48 billion from sales via its App Store during the first quarter of the year. That accounts for a dominating 74 percent of the $2.2 billion dollar revenue that app store sales have generated during the first three months of the year. Google Play store came in at second with 48 percent of the revenue.

However, while the above figure might seem to be overwhelmingly in favor of Apple, things look impressive for Google from a different perspective. For instance, Google's income from its Play Store grew at 90 percent compared to what it was just a quarter ago. A separate report by the analytics firm, App Annie, pegged Google's revenue from Google Play to be 38.5 percent that of Apple. However, Google still has a lot of time, as analysts project it will be 2016 before the search giant can surpass Apple in terms of revenue from app store sales.

“Although Google is catching up, Apple has such a head-start in revenues that, on present trends, we would not expect Google to overtake Apple until sometime in 2016,” said Adam Daum, chief analyst at Canalys to Reuters.

This proves the steady growth of Android brought about by the rising sales of Android based tablets and smartphones. However, in revenue terms, Apple still leads. Apple’s success is attributed to its payment system, which is considered much simpler than that of the Play Store. With Apple, users of the iPhone and iPad have registered their credit cards with the Apple App Store, which makes it easier for them to carry out a purchase. With Google's Play Store, the options are many, such as Google Wallet, credit card purchases, and carrier billing, which analysts believe is often detrimental to higher sales.

The research also predicted Japan and South Korea, two of the biggest Android consumers, could be seen fueling the next wave of growth of the Play Store. Android consumers in both countries are most interested in games, something Android ought to remember.

App Store Revenue: Google Play Store Registers Steady Growth, Though Apple App Store Still Dominating is a post from: E-Reader News

Device Specific How- to Guides Now Available

As you may have noticed, with the creation of OverDrive's new Partner Portal, our Learning Center received a facelift as well. This change is not simply cosmetic! At the Learning Center, you'll find updates to our On Demand trainings, registration for live sessions and frequent additions to the resources available for training your staff and users.

Use OverDrive's How-to guides to teach users how to enjoy eBooks on their new devices!


Thanks to your feedback, we’ve added device-specific How-to guides that are now available to print from the Learning Center's Resources section—along the lines of the popular eBook Cheat sheet. The new guides include instruction on how to enjoy eBooks and audiobooks for iOS and Android devices, as well as the Kindle Fire, with more on the way. These materials are an excellent resource to distribute during training classes, at the reference desk or to give to patrons who inquire for more information.


Which device do you receive the most questions about? Feel free to leave comments below so we know which guide to create next.


Adam Sockel is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive 


Bird photography with a Raspberry Pi and a DSLR

Tricky things, birds. Even when you’ve got yourself sorted out with boxes and feeders to entice them into your garden, it can be very difficult to get a decent photograph – they don’t stay still for long, especially if they see you coming (and it is amazing at just how adept birds are at spotting the slightest movement – the sort of movement you might make to operate the zoom lens on your camera, for example), and many feeding birds will only visit the table for a few seconds at a time, even if you’re well hidden.

Enter Adrian Bevan and his Raspberry Pi.

Adrian had built a shutter release for his Canon1000D SLR, and decided to extend his new knowledge by making a DIY remote release. He’s been activating it manually, but has also made instructions available for using it with a motion detector (Adrian’s currently using a webcam and a second Pi for this part of the kit), so that the SLR can fire automatically when the Pi it is attached to senses that there was a bird on the table using information streamed from the outdoor Pi.

Your best bet here is to set the camera up in continuous shooting mode so that it’ll take several shots over a few seconds once your target has been spotted. Adrian has put exhaustive instructions on making your own setup on his blog, complete with circuit diagrams and code, alongside some video of the shutter in action.

Speaking of birds, I was, sadly, nowhere near a camera when a sparrowhawk dropped out of the sky to disembowel a blue tit on my front lawn this morning. Rotten shame, that. Oh – and if anybody has any tips on how to stop my bird-feeders being reliably emptied within ten minutes of filling by a horde of marauding starlings, I’m all ears.

Adrian has used that old Pi hackers’ standby, Tupperware, to house the webcam, battery pack and associated Pi in a waterproof environment. Securely housing your DSLR outside in a way that means it won’t get wet but can still take pictures is, obviously, a bit trickier; his is, I think, set up indoors, pointing out of a window, with a whacking great zoom lens attached to the front. If you’ve any ideas on how to set up and leave a good camera outdoors without it getting wet or stolen, please let us know in the comments!






7″ Kindle Fire HD Gets Android 4.2 Jelly Bean via Alpha Release of CM 10.1

The 7″ Kindle Fire HD just got a lot cooler today thanks to Android developers over at XDA, especially Hashcode, who has just posted an Alpha release of CyanogenMod 10.1 for the 7″ Kindle Fire HD, which brings Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and all of its Google-infested glory to Amazon’s most popular tablet. CM10 has [...]

Debate Continues Over Enhanced, Interactive eBooks

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Last week, The Guardian ran an article about the introduction of “next generation” ebooks at this year’s London Book Fair. Publisher Faber&Faber unveiled an updated, gaming-style edition of John Buchan’s The 39 Steps, created with the help of The Story Mechanics, with enhancements like hand-created digital visuals of turn-of-the-century Great Britain, stop-frame animation, and the ability to unlock achievements throughout the book.

But what was actually more interesting than the news of the release of the book was the reader comments on the article itself. It seems as though book lovers are still very devoutly divided on the concept of enhanced ebooks.

While supporters of the new digital format are intrigued by the visuals, archives of information that builds the back story, and the opportunity to revive older works of literature for a new audience, outspoken critics of the concept commented on the superfluous “bells and whistles” that interactive ebooks carry. The video game concept of a book was less than appealing to some, while others were not impressed with what they considered to be distractions that would pull the reader out of the book.

To some, it seems that interactive ebooks do have their place in reading, but perhaps not in fiction. Science and academic books seem to be an appropriate recipient of the features that enhanced ebooks can offer, while fiction fans pointed out that the writing itself should carry the reader into the setting instead of relying on immersive graphics or embedded soundtracks.

Regardless of where the fans feel interactive ebooks should go, the developers of the content are making continuous improvements to the concept. The original ebooks that came packed with distracting hyperlinks that took the reader out of the book to find more information are being replaced with books that incorporate the features into the story framework while still allowing the reader the option to see the content or not. Embedded videos no longer have to take the reader to YouTube to view them, but still afford the reader the choice of playing the video or not, while book soundtracks that were newsworthy a couple of years ago are less prevalent in some of the new concepts.

Wherever the divide over enhanced ebooks falls, the capabilities are improving and hopefully serving to bring in new readers who wouldn’t have otherwise bothered with a “words on a page” title. For some readers, though, the enhancements only serve to alienate the consumers who prefer to interact with books through their imaginations.

Debate Continues Over Enhanced, Interactive eBooks is a post from: E-Reader News