Monday, May 20, 2013

Reading Rainbow Android App Tipped by Amazon

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The Reading Rainbow television show was broadcast for almost two decades and it taught young children the value of reading. When the show was cancelled a few years ago, Levar Burton and producer Mark Wolfe sat down and decided what to do next. 18 months later they debuted the Reading Rainbow iOS app and secured partnerships with Natgeo and a number of other media properties. Today, the Amazon App Store Twitter account posted a picture of Levar visiting Amazon headquarters. This leads me to believe that for the first time the Reading Rainbow will launch an Android App designed for the Kindle Fire.

The Reading Rainbow app features a ton of original content and appeals mainly to kids. There are some customizable features such as your "Backpack" that contains all of the books you are currently reading. Books are attained when you visit different "Islands" that are themed. Each island has original video content that is hosted by Levar and is made specifically for the iPad app. "We ran the show for over two decades and had lots of content in the library. We made a decision to film 100% original content exclusively for the app and will continue to develop more in the coming months," Levar told Good e-Reader in an exclusive interview.

The Kindle line of tablets is drawing a ton of public attention with Kindle Freetime and their various parental controls. Parents can establish how long each day they can read, play games, watch video and tweak their limits on the fly. Last week, Amazon unveiled Amazon Coins, which acts as their virtual currency to buy in-app content and also buy new apps. Likely, the Reading Rainbow will have Coins integrated into the app, to buy access to new islands.


Reading Rainbow Android App Tipped by Amazon is a post from: E-Reader News

Finalists Selected for eBook Discovery Hackathon


The first ever digital publishing hackathon took place over the weekend at The Alley in New York. Organized by Perseus Books Group and Librify, the event transpired over 32 consecutive hours and was attended by 200 people. Over 30 different teams sought to develop new ideas for digital book discovery.

"It was exciting to watch 200 people come together at one time in one space and grapple with the challenge of digital book discovery," said Rick Joyce, CMO of Perseus and one of the judges. "Not only were fascinating solutions developed, but there was a lot for a publishing person to learn about the ways content is connected and discovered digitally from these talented designers and coders."

The finalists have now been selected and the final award will be announced at Book Expo America. All of the selected entrants will also receive coaching from publishing and technology mentors and have 10 days to work on their project. We now have a copy of the finalists that have participated in the hackathon.

•Library Integration Challenge from NYPL – $1,000 was awarded to Visibrary (Sara Michener, Carrie Segal, Alessandra Nova, Iv Segal) for the best library discovery project or the best integration of library data.

•Children’s / Literacy Challenge from NYPL – $500 was awarded to the Evoke team (listed above) for the best project for children and adults that either (a) enables book discovery, (b) encourages a love of reading, or (c) facilitates literacy.

•Avalon Travel Discovery Challenge – $500 was awarded to BookCity (listed above) for the project that best promotes discovery books related to travel.

•Manuscript to Metadata Challenge from PublicAffairs – $500 was awarded to (Megha Gulati, Rajeev Gulati) for the best approach to improving metadata from the manuscript.

•Pearson API Challenge – $250 was awarded to Evoke for the best use of either (or both) of Pearson's APIs.

Finalists Selected for eBook Discovery Hackathon is a post from: E-Reader News

CourseSmart Enhances its eTextbook Offerings


With some reports showing that the Android platform currently holds about 68% of the market for applications, digital content creators are taking steps to increase their current offerings to meet these customers where their devices are. CourseSmart, a leading provider of digital educational materials and textbooks, has been available on the Android platform for some time, but today announced that it is enhancing its current Android capabilities.

“We have been a leader in the Android space for a long time, and our new application takes that commitment to the next level, offering consumers several highly-anticipated new features," said Sean Devine, CEO of CourseSmart, in a statement today.   "As mobile devices continue to proliferate, we will maintain our track record of offering innovation and convenience to both Android and IOS users."

While the free CourseSmart app for Android has offered a number of support features like thumbnails, in-book search capability, zoom for graphics and charts, and more, today CourseSmart announced the ability for students to access content while offline.

“CourseSmart eTextbooks is reflective of the company's long-standing commitment to the platform as well as a response to the growing market demand for Android applications,” stated the explanation in a press release. “CourseSmart's enhanced Android app provides real time mobile access to students, even while an eTextbook download is occurring. CourseSmart users will also have the ability to checkout titles for offline use and sync notes and highlights across the reading system, ensuring access to their own notations regardless of which device they use.”

In addition to new features and access capabilities, CourseSmart materials have grown in popularity due to the full catalog of titles from 90% of the educational publishers that the company offers at as much as a 60% discount over the original print price. Students and faculty alike are able to access their course materials through any Android-enabled device, tablet, or smartphone.

CourseSmart Enhances its eTextbook Offerings is a post from: E-Reader News

Yahoo Buys Tumblr

Yahoo Deal To Buy Tumblr

Yahoo's recent acquisition of Tumblr, the popular blogging site, presents an interesting scenario now prevalent in the tech scene. Yahoo is eager to pay a premium and remain competitive in the long run, even if the investment does not guarantee much profit right away. To attempt this, Yahoo shelled out $1.1 billion for Tumblr, which not too long ago was valued at about $800 million.

However, the deal does make sense when seen from Yahoo's perspective. For one, Yahoo is seen as a company that is popular with an older generation. It could be risky for Yahoo to keep operating with that image. That Yahoo's revenue has more or less remained stagnant around the $5 billion mark is another reason for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to start pushing for new revenue streams. Also, another big advantage that Ms. Mayer believes the buyout will bring to Yahoo is that it will open up to a new user segment comprising mainly of the younger generations that are among Tumblr's biggest user base.

Perhaps the biggest advantage that Tumblr's acquisition will mean for Yahoo is that it will introduce the company to the thriving social networking medium. Companies like Google and Facebook have already proven there are boatloads of money to be made by way of ad revenue when there is enough of an audience enjoying a free service. The fact that Tumblr right now is on a steeper growth curve than Yahoo cannot be ignored, either. Also, with Tumblr under its belt, Yahoo will have the much needed presence in the mobile computing devices segment, where it has relinquished the lead to companies like Apple and Google. Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablet PCs, have seen maximum activity in recent times, so much that companies are required to reorganize their operations to be centered around these in order to survive.

As for Tumblr, it has been in operation for six years and boasts of a user base of 100 million, a figure that is ever growing. However, that does not translate to big profits right now, given its CEO's David Karp's abject dislike to plastering ads and risk the experience of its users. The company that operates out of New York is run by 175 employees and boasts of some 108 blogs. The company recorded 117 million core users in March, which has nearly doubled from the 58 million users it had just a year ago, thereby making it among the faster growing start-ups. Apart from allowing users to create their own blogs, a unique aspect of Tumblr is that it also enables one to follow other’s blogs and share ideas. It's somewhat like a marriage between blogging and social media.

Speaking of the acquisition, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said, “Tumblr is redefining creative expression online,” before also adding: “On many levels, Tumblr and Yahoo! couldn't be more different, but, at the same time, they couldn't be more complementary. Yahoo is the Internet's original media network. Tumblr is the Internet's fastest-growing media frenzy. Both companies are homes for brands – established and emerging. And, fundamentally, Tumblr and Yahoo! are both all about users, design, and finding surprise and inspiration amidst the everyday.”

Yahoo has stated it will remain out of the way of Tumblr, which will continue to operate as a separate entity. However, Yahoo does expect Tumblr to generate more revenue by way of ads. This could be tricky given Karp's insistence of having just the bare minimum ads, as he believes the opposite could irk its core user base. Karp will continue to be at the helm of affairs at Tumblr while also being the biggest shareholder as well. There is much for Tumblr to gain from the deal; it can make the best of “Yahoo's personalization technology and search infrastructure to help its users discover creators, bloggers, and content they'll love,” the PR stated.

“Our team isn’t changing. Our roadmap isn’t changing. And our mission – to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve – certainly isn’t changing. But we’re elated to have the support of Yahoo! and their team who share our dream to make the Internet the ultimate creative canvas. Tumblr gets better faster with more resources to draw from,” Karp stated to the Tumblr community.

Ads began appearing at Tumblr from last year while the revenue that the company generated last year stood at a measly $13 million. A former Google Executive, John Saroff, believes the figure could easily be in excess of $108 a year.

Such a venture has paid off big for Google after it acquired YouTube. The mega video sharing site had cost Google $1.65 billion, but is estimated to earn Google about $4 billion in sales. Similarly, the ad revenue that Facebook generated in the first quarter stood at $219 million, while the same for Twitter has been $288 million.

Yahoo Buys Tumblr is a post from: E-Reader News

iPad 5 Production to Begin Soon, Shipment Starts in September


As per news coming from Taiwan, trial production of the 5th gen iPad is set to kick off soon with volume production expected to begin in July. Initial plans call for the shipment to stabilize at around 2-3 million by September.

As for the iPad 5′s specifications, Digitimes has some interesting bits to share. For instance, the site is claiming the new iPad will come with the same display resolution of 2048 x 1536, though the differences lie elsewhere. This being that the glass substrate to be used in iPad 5 will be thinner by 0.2mm from the 0.25mm thickness as is seen in the iPad 4. The touch panel to be used in the iPad 5 will be based on GF2 tech, which employs 1 layer of glass and two layers of ITO film, whereas the same in case of iPad 4 was based on G/G bonding technique.

The sources further claim iPad 5 will be using “one LED light bar for backlighting” whereas the iPad 4 used two LED light bars. The report also confirms what has always been rumored, that the next gen iPad will be lighter and sporting thinner bezels.

The two South Korean companies, LG Display and Samsung Display, alongside Sharp are among those believed to have been contracted to supply the iPad 5 display.

iPad 5 Production to Begin Soon, Shipment Starts in September is a post from: E-Reader News

The Next Stephen King Book Will Forgo a Digital Edition


Digital readers may find themselves unable to read the next Stephen King novel. The author has announced today that his upcoming June 4th release, Joyland, will only be available via traditional bookstores.

Stephen King is no stranger to digital and released a novel in 2000 called Riding The Bullet, that was only available as an ebook. Last year, he released a Kindle Single exclusive that was basically an essay.

Today, King told the Wall Street Journal: “I have no plans for a digital version. Maybe at some point, but in the meantime, let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one.”

Many publishing industry experts are surmising that this book may draw people into their local bookstores, but people who prefer to read digital may end up pirating the book. If you look at the Harry Potter case study, when the books were unavailable in electronic form, it created a wellspring of book piracy, with some torrents having hundreds of thousands of seeders. Many people we spoke with at the time felt no remorse about downloading the books, because they were being ignored as digital readers. In the absence of a true digital copy that people can buy, it is only a matter of time before this book is scanned and posted online, stinging the very bookstores Stephen King is trying to help.

Amazon is also selling the physical book at a very steep discount and in most cases will sell it for less than you can buy in a physical bookstore.

The Next Stephen King Book Will Forgo a Digital Edition is a post from: E-Reader News

Simon & Schuster Hires Doug Stambaugh to be Vice President, Global eBook Market Development and Strategy


Simon & Schuster has created a new position within the company to focus on the growing popularity of ebooks. Doug Stambaugh has been named to the newly created position of Vice President, Global eBook Market Development and Strategy, reporting to Dennis Eulau.

S&S released an internal email confirming the news saying, “Doug’s responsibility will be to help us further develop our ebook business in a manner that best positions us for success in all our markets around the world. He will work with sales colleagues from each of our companies to identify and evaluate opportunities for retail expansion, and new partnerships, digital channels, and publishing initiatives. He will develop company-wide strategies, policies, and best practices for all our domestic and international publishing units in areas ranging from terms and pricing to digital rights management, technology platforms and new business models.  He will assist our teams from legal, sales, technology, and operations in opening up new accounts and in negotiations with existing retailers, and will help all our divisions around the world to work in a unified fashion with our common retailers.  We will also look to Doug to assist us in tapping the potential for ebooks in nonretail channels, such as special sales and the school, library, and academic markets.”

The statement went on to say “Doug is ideally suited for this position.  He has been with Simon & Schuster Digital since 2007, most recently as Vice President, Business Development, and has been a central figure in establishing our presence in the digital marketplace. He has worked with colleagues across the company to finalize ebook agreements with all our major retailers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Open Market. Most recently, he was instrumental in launching our pilot e-lending program with three New York area libraries that were our entry into this important channel.”

Doug will serve as the point of entry into the company to assess these new prospects, and will advise senior management in our publishing and operations groups on the many opportunities and issues that will inevitably arise in this exciting and ongoing transition.

Simon & Schuster Hires Doug Stambaugh to be Vice President, Global eBook Market Development and Strategy is a post from: E-Reader News

Summer Marketing Materials: Now Available!

Summer is just around the corner. Time for road trips, the beach, vacations, and lazy summer days! I can think of nothing I'd rather do today (one of the first days above 70 degrees here in Cleveland) than read library eBooks on my NOOK outside in the sun!


To help you promote your digital collection inside the library, we've created a Summer Marketing Kit. You can help your community cool off by getting crafty with these promotional materials. We've designed the smart guides with plenty of empty space at the bottom – perfect for gluing a popsicle stick to and creating an instant fan. There are also summer posters you can display around your library.


Don't forget about reaching out to your community with ways other than inside your library doors. Post status updates of new titles via Facebook or Twitter, start a Summer Reading Digital Book Club, and be sure to promote at any festivals or community events your library attends.


Check out the Marketing & Outreach section of the Partner Portal or reach out to your Account Specialist for more great marketing ideas.


Cassie Renner is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive

Big Library Read Facebook Chat with Michael Malone on May 23rd

Through their incredible generosity, author Michael Malone and his publisher, Sourcebooks, have invited millions of readers around the world to simultaneously enjoy 'The Four Corners of the Sky' through June 1st as part of the Big Library Read event. This week, readers will have the chance to chat with Michael about his critically-acclaimed novel.


On Thursday, May 23rd, at 8 p.m. ET (here's a converter for different time zones), Sourcebooks and OverDrive will host a Facebook chat with Michael Malone, giving readers from across the globe the opportunity to ask questions about Michael's book, his life, or anything else! The chat is open to everyone, so please feel free to share this link with your patrons.


We're expecting a large crowd, so please submit your questions for Michael in the comments section of this blog and we'll make sure they're asked during the chat! Also, keep sharing your thoughts on Twitter by using #BigLibraryRead and be sure to follow Michael's Twitter and Facebook page for updates from the author.


We're looking forward to your questions for Michael and chatting with you this Thursday!


Adam Sockel is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive

Kobo Aura HD Review

Today I was finally able to get the Kobo Aura HD review posted, which includes some pictures, a couple of videos, and a written review. The video review ended up being really long this time. I was able to cover a lot of details and show some complaints. I also decided to put together a [...]

Raspberry Jam at the National STEM Centre York, Saturday 8th June 2013

A post from Mr Raspberry Jam himself, Alan O’Donohoe.  This one promises to huge and fabulous, and the National STEM Centre is an outstanding venue. I am strangley drawn to joining the trans-Pennine convoy from Preston.

“You may have seen that we are holding a big Raspberry Jam in York on Saturday 8th June, 3 weeks today. Tickets are available here.

I’ve been working with the folks at the National STEM Centre there to help establish a presence in Yorkshire for Raspberry Jams. There are a lot of people in Yorkshire who have bought Raspberry Pi computers or who have not bought one but are interested in discovering just what you can do with them and this event is to give them a taste of the Raspberry Pi.

This event is going to be much larger than our regular Raspberry Jam events and we know that people  are travelling from far across the UK to attend. I will be travelling in a convoy of cars from Preston bringing old friends and new friends on the journey across the Pennines. Road-trips like these add an enormous amount to the whole experience.

Our busy programme of talks, demonstrations, stalls and hands-on classes is now filling up. We are delighted to have Pete Lomas of the Raspberry Pi foundation speaking and leading a workshop, he is the gentleman who actually designed the Raspberry Pi. We also have Amy Mather the 14 year old who learnt how to program Conway’s Game of Life on the Raspberry Pi, her film on YouTube has attracted over 27000 views.

If you look at our programme , you will see that we have a wide range of classes from how to switch on a Raspberry Pi to building weather stations, interfacing, networking, robotics, game making for all the family and programming in Python. David Whale will be running a workshop on how you can set up an after school Raspberry Pi club.

‘import random’, the start of great game! A Raspberry Jam programming class.

We hope to attract a diverse range of people to attend this family friendly event:

  • Teachers - who want to know if the Raspberry Pi is something they can use to support the teaching of Computing
  • Families - who together want to develop and nurture an interest in technology and computing
  • Hobbyists - who want to meet other people with a desire to share what they have been doing with their Raspberry Pi
  • Anyone - who has an interest in the Raspberry Pi at any level.

If you have never been to the National STEM centre before, this is a fantastic opportunity to come and discover what is there


We're excited about our brand new family mobile apps, called GCF Answers

eBook Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay


Verdict: 4 Stars

The Sea of Tranquility (Atria) has everything I don’t look for in a book. Chapter-by-chapter point of view switches, mysterious story lines that don’t become clear until the last page, and characters so full of raw and deep-seated hurts that you feel like an intruder just for reading about them. So it was surprising to even me that this book was a one-sitting read, something that I couldn’t put down until I’d made my way to the end to see if these people turn out okay.

Told in alternating viewpoints from the two main characters, Josh and Nastya, the reader is given only partial glimpses at a time of the endurance race the two teenaged protagonists have had to run. Josh, whose entire family has died before the book’s opening, and Nastya, whose musical prodigy status was ripped apart by a violent attacker who destroyed her hands and her soul, are left holding the pieces of their former lives and slowly learn to let their other carry a piece of the burden.

In keeping with the fact that Nastya stopped speaking about a year after her attack, the book doles out the details painfully slowly. While that is part of its allure, I was left occasionally feeling like I didn’t know enough to keep reading. Fortunately, the writing style was so spot-on that I was easily caught back up by the end of the chapter, only to be left disoriented again and repeat the cycle until the very end of the book.

Millay’s book could easily blur the lines between young adult and new adult, and effortlessly crosses back and forth between the two genres. The characters’ ages and the high school backdrop speak to younger adults, but the conflicts and plot are not for the fainthearted.

The Sea of Tranquility will be available June 4 from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and more.

eBook Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay is a post from: E-Reader News

Nook Simple Touch Tipped to Get Email and Web-Browser June 1st


Barnes and Noble is intending on releasing a new firmware update for the Nook Simple Touch and Simple Touch with Glowlight this June. The 1.50 update is poised to bring a new email client and a new internet browser. The e-readers themselves have a web-browser buried in the search function, but most people were completely unaware of it. The ebook store is also undergoing a refresh and will have a new UI.

The Nook line of e-readers has seen a wider appeal as of late, due to the recent price reductions in the UK and US. Google Play on the Nook line of tablets has been drawing industry wide attention and many users we talk to are claiming they are buying one for the first time, or switching back to the brand. B&N is hoping that a more accessible e-reader is will appeal to people on the fence.

Barnes and Noble has always had internet browsers in the e-readers and I will bet that they will not tweak it very much with the public release. A solid email client should appeal to people who are in book clubs, or need to check in to work every so often. The Nook line of e-readers does run the Google Android operating system, so adding a few new features is really not that hard.

Nook Simple Touch Tipped to Get Email and Web-Browser June 1st is a post from: E-Reader News