Monday, May 6, 2013

Kno Teams with St. Mary’s Press for Interactive Bibles

BreakThrough pb

KNO is best known for its interactive learning software and digital store that allows diligent young scholars to buy content. Today, St. Mary’s Press has announced to that will be doing special versions of the Catholic Youth Bible, Breakthrough Bible, and Living in Christ series to be made available for sale immediately. This agreement actually makes a ton of sense because KNO is already in many religious schools and this new content will be welcome.

The bibles will allow students to make custom notes, highlights, and share discussions with their friends on the same platform. Students can also access interactive elements like flashcards for all the terms in the glossary, and religious instructors can share their highlights and notes with their class using Kno's social-sharing feature.

"Saint Mary's Press is excited to partner with Kno in offering our bestselling titles as interactive e-books," said John Vitek, President and CEO of Saint Mary's Press. "With Kno, Saint Mary's Press will provide students with powerful, easy to use digital features that help them engage with their religious studies in new and exciting ways."

"Saint Mary's Press offers rich, meaningful content to students and teachers at Catholic schools across the country," said Osman Rashid, CEO of Kno. "Using interactive features like search, journal, and flashcards will allow students to explore their religious studies in new ways, leading to new insights and providing a rich learning experience."

Kno Teams with St. Mary's Press for Interactive Bibles is a post from: E-Reader News

Digital Comics in Libraries: Still Working on It


Publishers Weekly’s Heidi MacDonald has done a comprehensive overview of graphic novels and libraries, and she includes a discussion of digital library programs, which are still evolving even as we speak.

OverDrive, the biggest vendor of e-books for libraries, gets no love in this article. The prices are too high and the graphic-novel catalogue is too limited. Librarian Robin Brenner would like to see comiXology offer library services, and indeed, their competitor Comics Plus is developing a library service that will roll out this summer.

According to Elder, Comics Plus, which launches in beta this summer, will offer a broad-based subscription model—libraries spend a certain amount of money and are charged for each check out, a digital file that self-deletes in two weeks. Advantages over print are discoverability and range of material. "The number of titles in your catalogue increases by an order of magnitude, and the efficiency goes way up. If a book is circulating a lot, you buy the print edition, too," Elder says. Elder's research included number-crunching to show that the digital lending system is profitable for all. The cost is about 50¢ per checkout, comparable to the cost of print comics; and it's actually more profitable for publishers. "On a typical checkout a publisher makes 9¢ to 15¢. With our system, [the publisher] gets 30¢—literally everybody wins."

Some publishers have balked at signing on, perhaps for fear of piracy, MacDonald speculates, but they might be getting it exactly wrong: Brenner thinks readers aren’t demanding digital comics from libraries because they are going to pirate sites instead. For a publisher like Viz, whose series can run for many volumes, it makes sense to participate in a system that gives them something for each checkout, rather than have readers go to pirate sites for their fix.

One thing to keep in mind with regard to all this is how digital services regard e-books. My local library has OverDrive, and I never use it, because they treat e-books like print books: The library buys a limited number of copies, and each book can only be checked out by one patron at a time, so when I go to look for a book, it’s never available. iVerse’s system, as it was explained to me, allows unlimited checkouts, and charges the library for each one. When the library reaches its spending limit, the comics disappear, although Elder told me there would always be a selection of comics available for free. So what iVerse is selling is really access to a real digital library, rather than single e-books. Instead of hedging their bets and only getting digital editions of the most popular titles (which are then always unavailable to most patrons), they can offer access to an entire library and not only allow multiple people to read the same book at once but also avoid paying for unpopular titles.

Digital Comics in Libraries: Still Working on It is a post from: E-Reader News

Baker and Taylor Releases New axisReader Apps


Baker and Taylor has the 3rd largest market share for companies who facilitate digital ebook delivery in their libraries. Today, the company is making the process of reading easier with its new axisReader apps for iOS and Android.

The new axisReader apps allow you to borrow and read books within a singular app from your local library. You can read them in PDF or EPUB formats, as well as highlight, bookmark, annotate, or look up a definition. The new app will allow patrons to tap into a huge ecosystem of 450,000 titles, including digital audiobooks.

One of the most interesting aspects of this new app is the fact that BT has done away with its own Blio format, which got critical acclaim from the National Federation of the Blind. I guess with the rise of EPUB being the common ebook format, the company is better off going in that direction.

"axisReader is a powerful tool that provides on-the-go library patrons with the electronic content they want," said George Coe, President of Baker & Taylor's Library & Education division. "The release of axisReader shows again that Baker & Taylor is committed to developing technologies that boost library circulation and give patrons a superior library experience."

If you have an Android or Smartphone you can load the new axisReader app from the Good e-Reader App Store.

Baker and Taylor Releases New axisReader Apps is a post from: E-Reader News

The New York Public Library Discusses eBook Pilot Projects


The New York Public Library is one of the most successful branches in the USA and they have been one of the first ones to adopt a cohesive digital strategy. The library system has been distributing eBooks via Overdrive since 2004 and most recently, started doing business with the 3M Cloud Library. During the last few months Penguin and Simon and Shuster have both launched their first US pilot projects at the New York Public Library. How does the library secure the rights to participate in the pilot and how do the underlying semantics work?

To answer this very question we caught up with Christopher Platt, the Director of Collection & Circulation Operations at NYPL. He mentioned that publishers often choose his library because of the sheer amount of visibility and internet eBook loans they get. The library saw over 753,000 loans in one calender year just for trade-fiction, which was a huge jump from 173,000 three years ago. Overall lending in one year toppled 28,000,000 digital books, audiobooks, movies and music files.

One of the big reasons why Penguin and Simon and Shuster do business with the New York Public Library is because of the data they receive. Chris said “When you don't pay attention to public libraries you lose a large amount of data. Publishers aren't being exposed to that readers behavior. Libraries aggregate data all over the place, funding agencies, government, and annual reports. There is big value in sharing data with publisher, but remember, no private information is given out.” He went on to elaborate “For Penguin, we give them the circulation information and then they can compare it to the sales data.”

One of the drawbacks in participating in so many pilot projects is inevitably you will have to do more business with digital content distribution systems. Overdrive has been one of the most longstanding primer partners, but they tend to ruffle publishers feathers by loaning out the library eBooks to Kindle e-Readers. This has promoted the NYPL to do also do business with the 3M Cloud Library System. This means there are now two completely different content systems being used to facilitate eBooks from many different publishers.

Obviously with two massive systems it can get quite confusing, but Chris and his team manage the situation quite well. Chris told me “We used the Penguin pilot as a new competitor to Overdrive. We are making sure that we're not overlapping content dealing with many different companies, keeping both separate, if we have a title in Overdrive, we are not buying it from 3M.

One of the things Chris wants to develop is a new library checkout method that won’t take library patrons away from the main libraries website. As it stands, when you do business with Overdrive, you are partly at your main libraries website, and then re-directed to the Overdrive checkout portal and it creates confusion in the whole process. Chris told me that he wants to eventually streamline the entire process, so its easier and more intuitive. Likely, Chris and his team will employ the new Overdrive API system that allows technical teams to do just that.

Running the second most visited cultural institution in New York can can be quite taxing on the budget. Chris would not talk specific numbers but 7% of the total money available is used to procure eBooks. The library has also been hit hard by budget constraints due to the American economy seeing better days. This means their overall pool of financial resources are lower now then what they were five years ago. One of the ways they offset costs, is if they buy the eBook they often do not order the physical book, to prevent duplications in the system. Chris mentioned “With the new pilots projects by Penguin, Hachette and Simon and Shuster, it is a very heavy drain on our materials budget for next year. We want to be careful around the system, because of the prices changing with the amount of loans.”

Penguin and the New York Public Library are not only running a pilot project, in which all front and back list titles are available but they are also experimenting with sales. If you consider the new Dan Brown book coming out in a few weeks, there are already 500 people on the waiting list. Your average patron might have to wait months to read the digital editions. To offset this, they will be introducing BUY IT NOW links that will allow customers to buy the book from their favorite eBook store and the library will see a small royalty in return. Chris made it very clear that this program “is not looking to disrupt the traditional bookstore experience, its about giving our patrons more freedoms.”

One thing Chris and I agreed on was that every big six publishing company had different terms on selling their eBooks to the libraries. Some had increased the digital cost by over 300%, while others have adopted a 26 limit checkout, and then needing to purchase the book again. Still others, have different pricing structures and different terms. Chris thinks “this whole situation will iron itself out in due time, as libraries start to work with publishers more directly.”

My take is that when the Justice Department came down hard on all of the big six publishers, it has soured them on defining a comprehensive library strategy. They are all really scared to be talking to another on the record because of the global collusion cases levied against them for establishing “Agency Pricing.’ You basically have all six companies doing completely different things, with no consistency in terms and pricing. It is illegal for them to come together and try and figure this out. So it is basically up to the the big libraries, and the American Library Association to liaison across the world of publishing.

The New York Public Library System has seen massive gains in its digital platforms, due to the CEO Tony Marx that joined the system in 2011. Since then, he instilled the belief that you should devise systems and plan for five to ten years from now, but two years from now. He has been a driving force in getting these publishers to deal with this library in these pilot projects and giving them all the big data they need to gauge if its a success. Obviously, this approach worked, after a few short months Penguin got out of the trial and decided to loan out their entire catalog of books in every library in the USA.

In the end, the New York Public Library with Chris and Tony spearheading their digital initiatives, the future looks bright for the vast majority of eBooks to be available in the USA, Canada and other major markets. If it wasn’t for the hard work and the love of reading, likely the entire industry would see a major setback and we would still be wondering why the major publishers aren’t loaning their books out. Also, a special tip of the hat to the president of the American Library Association Maureen Sullivan for her tireless efforts.

The New York Public Library Discusses eBook Pilot Projects is a post from: E-Reader News

Live motion tracking

It is a bank holiday, and we are all quite…cheerful, post company barbecue, so I will keep this brief. Here’s a motion tracking demo from Erik Haberup. He says:

In case the Raspberry Pi team would like another example of the versatility of their product.

This is my capstone project for the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (Computer Electronics Engineering) which uses a Raspberry Pi to wirelessly transmit live motion tracking data from a set of 13 inertial measurement units.

I’ll ask Erik for some more information, but in the meantime, I thought you might like to enjoy this *outstanding* video.

Podcast: New and Featured Content for May

Spring is officially here, and with it comes a crop of new content for your library. Our May collection highlights podcast clues you in to new, featured, and soon-to-be-added publishers in Content Reserve to help keep your collection fresh.


This month's newly added content includes best-selling travel guides that will help your readers map out the perfect vacation, as well as newly available travel documentaries that allow viewers to explore the farthest reaches of the world from the comfort of their screens.


Our featured content for May includes New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling titles, graphics novel adaptations of classic texts, award-winning independent films, and children's videos starring tried-and-true characters such as the Berenstain Bears, Paddington Bear, and Franklin the Turtle.


Want to learn more, including which major Chinese and Japanese publishers will be joining Content Reserve soon? Tune into this month's podcast, now available on OverDrive's Learning Center, for the full scoop.


Carrie Smith is a Technical Writer at OverDrive.

Penguin’s Vanity Press Still Under Fire


Ask an indie author about self-publishing platform Author Solutions, and you’d better have some time to listen to the ranting. The company name has become synonymous with all that’s wrong with the current publishing revolution, namely, accusations that they take authors’ money and provide little in return.

Purchased by Big Six publisher Penguin last summer for a reported $116 million, Author Solutions actually operates a number of different vanity press imprints, along with consulting websites to help authors find a suitable publisher; only, all of the publishers that the websites match authors to are owned by Author Solutions, and by default, Penguin. Some of the imprints authors are led to include Trafford, AuthorHouse, Xlibris, and iUniverse, who according to one source, are all part of the Author Solutions family.

Following the announcement last week that three authors have filed a class action lawsuit in California and New York against the vanity press for its business practices, Penguin announced that it was making some changes to the Author Solutions structure by replacing current CEO Kevin Weiss with Andrew Phillips, Penguin’s head of Penguin International. The publisher made the statement that Weiss was invaluable during the transition time when Penguin took over Author Solutions, but that he would be moving on.

He didn’t move very far. According to a scathing post by author and self-publishing advocate David Gaughran, Weiss was given a position on Penguin’s board of directors.

Gaughran’s very detailed post went on to expose a number of major publishing houses who all own or once owned vanity press imprints powered by Author Solutions. That list includes HarperCollins, Simon&Schuster, and Harelquin, among others.

In all fairness, Author Solutions’ problems began long before Penguin stepped in. And perhaps it is Penguin’s intention to clean house at the platform with the intention of providing self-published authors another choice in the industry. Yes, admittedly, cleaning up the types of allegations that unhappy authors have been lobbing at the company–which includes accusations of unpaid royalties, intentional and expensive errors in the content, and more–takes time and often a change of leadership. Hopefully, that is Penguin’s plan with its latest hire.

Penguin’s Vanity Press Still Under Fire is a post from: E-Reader News

E Ink Holdings Is Raising More Capital via 60 Million New Shares


E Ink Holdings, best known for the screens found on the Kobo Aura, Kindle Paperwhite, and Nook Simple Touch, is raising some money. The company is selling 60 million new shares in a bid to get enough working capital to sustain its business.

The e-paper company has seen some dramatic loses in 2012 of around $25.4 million. The company axed its former CEO Scott Liu, who had been with the company since 2009. E Ink is in a state of flux, as the current climate of the e-reader market is not enough to remain profitable.

In order to sell more shares of the company, E Ink was showing off Seiko electronic watches, credit cards, and electronic shelf labels at an event in Taiwan. The company is hoping to diversify the number of products in its portfolio and reassure investors.

We have talked to a number of key people in the e-paper industry and they are drawing parallels between e-Ink and Neonode. Neonode once had 80% of the e-reader industry using its IR display screens. The first generation Kindle, Kobo, and Nook e-Readers all used this technology to power their screens. The biggest customer Neonode had was Amazon, which accounted for 40% of their business in 2011. Barnes and Noble was the second largest customer with 26%, followed by Sony at 21%, and Kobo with 11%. This amounted to a grand total of $5.8 million dollars earned in 2011. In early, 2012, the CEO of Neonode announced that it lost Amazon as a customer and then lost everyone else. Most of these companies switched to the capacitive touch screen technology and higher resolution that E Ink was offering.

The industry is worried right now that E Ink might meet the exact same fate as Neonode, and both companies have failed to remain relevant outside of the e-paper segment. Still, E Ink does have contracts with a number of large e-reader companies, and its business should be sustainable for the next twelve months. There will be a new Kindle, Nook, and Sony e-reader released within the next five months using the new HD displays.

E Ink Holdings Is Raising More Capital via 60 Million New Shares is a post from: E-Reader News

Nook and Nook HD + Make a Good Mothers Day Gift


Barnes & Noble has some suggestions if you have been wondering what would make the best Mother’s Day gift this year. The company has reduced prices for its lead offerings, the Nook HD and Nook HD+ devices, so that kids can pamper their mothers without breaking the bank. The 7 inch Nook HD can be purchased for $149 and $179 for the 8 GB and 16 GB versions respectively. This marks a reduction of $50 for both the versions. Similarly, the bigger 9 inch Nook HD+ is now up for grabs at a more affordable $179 and $209 for the 16 GB and 32 GB respectively. The discount there is even steeper at $90. The price revision comes within just a week of both the tablets being made accessible to the Google Play Store, which means there is a vast source of online digital content that the tablets can access. Both the Nook tablets are reading oriented and lack front and rear cameras. However, the lower cost should make up for those, more so since there are now more than 700,000 apps to tap into along with millions of songs, reading material such as ebooks and digital magazines, and video to keep engaged. The deal lasts for only a week and will be effective for purchases made through the B&N online stores as well as retailers like Best Buy and Target.

Nook and Nook HD + Make a Good Mothers Day Gift is a post from: E-Reader News