The Toshiba BookPlace Mono and Booklive Reader by Lideo are two Japan exclusives that popped by to say hello at SID Display Week 2013 in Vancouver. Obviously, with a new e-Reader we were all over it, and seems to do quite well in Japan. How does this e-Reader stack up against the competition and is it a worthy investment?
The Booklive Reader by Lideo features an older version of e Ink Pearl with a resolution of 600×800 and 16 levels of grey. It has 4 GB of internal memory, but you only have 3 GB of practical use. There is no expandable memory, so you will not be able to load more content in via MicroSD. There is a 800 MHZ processor, which tends to make things a bit speedy.
When you look at the competition in Japan with the Sony PRS-T2, Kobo Glo and Kindle Paperwhite, they all have higher resolution then than the Booklive. This is an important factor to consider if you are into Manga, Graphic Novels and image heavy content. Resolution on PDF images, are fairly important for the types of books that are popular in Japan. The price is right though, you will spend around 7,000 yen, making it more affordable then the competition.
You can think of this e-Reader as a terminal. You only can connect to the Booklive eBook store, which has around 75,000 titles currently available. There is no internet browser, and it lacks critical essential social media features like Facebook and Twitter. It connects via WIMAX to the store, and there is no charge for data to download books, you just have to pay for them.
The Booklive has a touchscreen display that you use to pinch and zoom and click on content. It has four physical home buttons on the bottom, similar to the old Sony designs. You can hit back, home, settings etc. Finally, you will get around a solid month of use, before you have to recharge it. This falls in line with most readers, when you engage in casual reading.
The Booklive e-Reader is very simple in design, in terms of UI and the overall layout of the menu. When you first fire it up for the first time it asks for your birthday, sex, email address and name. The main screen comprises of your bookshelf, which shows the cover art by default. You can tweak the settings so it shows it in list view instead, which is useful for larger book collections.
Speaking of book collections, it supports EPUB and PDF, but you can’t load in your own books. For some reason this e-Reader only works with purchases made directly from the store built into it. This might turn a ton of users off, but will curb book piracy.
You can turn pages by tapping or flicking your hand in a gesture, obviously being a Japanese exclusive you tend to turn pages to the left. There is a big refresh issue with this unit, as every single page turn creates the flickering as the e Ink screen refreshes. There is no options to configure it, such as to make it refresh every three, six or nine pages. There are six different options to increase the size of the text when you are reading EPUB books, and no options to change the types of fonts. You can also make highlights and look words up in the built in dictionary. The main gripe of most reviewers in Japan is that the dictionary is weak compared to the competition.If you want to search, you can do it via the virtual software keyboard, which is actually one of the best features on this device.
One of the best features is being able to adjust the brightness. This is useful, since most Manga has different art styles. Some use very hard lines and some very soft, it is great to be able to turn up the brightness of the screen to give you the best Manga experience.
When you are finished reading a book, at the end of it, are links to continue reading the series. Normally, you can purchase a single issue, and if you like it, continue to buy more. Instead of making you search the next issue within the Booklive store, you get links to buy it. You can’t buy in bulk though, but most stores don’t really have a great shopping cart system on e-readers. If you subscribe to newspapers though, the new issue is delivered to you every day.
You would buy this e-reader if you are loyal to the BookLive market place for newspapers, eBooks and Manga. It is more affordable than most other e-Readers currently available in Japan. Sharp, Toshiba, Sony, Amazon and Kobo all compete heavily in that market and sometimes its hard for the smaller players to stay relevant.
In the end, I would not recommend this e-Reader. It is mostly slow and unresponsive, and the inability to load in your own books may be a deal breaker. There is a ton of eBooks available to buy, but it doesn’t matter much if all of your competition as higher resolution screens and better hardware. I would likely recommend Kobo, Kindle or Sony models better than this, mainly because of the better software and the ability to buy books in different languages. Sometimes you want to learn a new language by reading books, but Booklive only sells books in Japanese.
Interesting Design, looks unique
Sluggish and Unresponsive
Friday, May 24, 2013
Publisher Rowman & Littlefield are starting their own eBook Store and taking the direct to market approach. Over 12,000 of their own eBooks will be available starting today.
The eBook Store is closely connected with the publisher's Unity platform for title development, which houses full title metadata and all the digital assets associated with each new book. This close integration means that the e-book version of each new title is available for purchase from the moment of publication. The publisher also garners more revenue in the long-term bypassing the need to rely on other online bookstores. Finally, Rowman & Littlefield intends on working with libraries to provide their electronic books directly.
Commenting on the launch, CEO Jed Lyons said: "Technology has become a real strength of Rowman & Littlefield, with robust bespoke systems supporting all of the processes that connect our authors with our readers. We know that our academic, library, professional and trade customers all value the ability to access our titles in every format, and this new platform gives us the capability to deliver books instantly to a range of devices including PCs, MACs, IOS and Android. The system uses Adobe Content Server to enable secure Digital Rights Management. "
Barnes and Noble announced the semantics surrounding its summer reading program yesterday and online giant Amazon announced its new program today. Amazon is betting on kids trying to meet their reading goals by giving them incentives to get lost in an ebook.
There are three major elements to the Amazon Summer Reading campaign, the first is The Summer Reading Sweepstakes! To sweeten summer reading even more, students, parents, and teachers can enter for a chance to win 50 Kindle e-readers for their school and keep the fun going all year round.
The second focuses on Book Recommendations, with so many books to choose from, how do you decide what to read first? Now students can head on over to the Summer Reading for Kids page for hand-picked recommendations from our knowledgeable book editors. The list includes favorites for kids (and parents) of all ages.
Finally, if your child is an aspiring sleuth, they can participate in the Summer Reading Adventure Map! X marks the spot! Students can embark on a reading adventure by printing out a map where they can track books they have read and what date they were completed.
Of course, Amazon has curated a number of ebook titles on the main summer reading page with targeted age appropriate material. Most of it is geared towards YA Fiction, but there is lots of kids ages 1-3. Of course, there is the ubiquitous editors’ picks and discounts galore.
The Toshiba BookPlace Mono e-Reader is a Japanese exclusive that just landed in that market a few weeks ago. For the launch of this new device, Toshiba revised its old ebookstore Blio and transformed it into the BookPlace. How does this e-reader rank up against the competition?
The Toshiba BookPlace Mono features a six inch e Ink Pearl Display with a resolution of 1024×768 pixels. It uses IR technology from Neonode, instead of the traditional capacitive touchscreen. Underneath the hood is a Freescale i.MX508, 800MHz processor and 512 MB RAM. It has 4 GB of internal memory that can be expanded further via the Micro SD card.
The MicroUSB cable both charges the unit and facilitates the transfer of data to your device. It is hyped up to last a few months or around 8,000 page turns. WIFI is the only way it will connect to the internet and the Toshiba BookPlace eBook store.
This reader, when connected to the internet and browsing the store, is woefully slow. On the main page of the store are 3 or 4 different images hyping up manga, cookbooks, kids books, and other price points. This results in slow navigation because of all the different graphics that are loading up at once. When you are not online, and just browsing the various menus, it tends to be snappy.
One of the cool things about the BookPlace Mono is the inclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack. This allows you to listen to music and audiobooks, but there is no physical speaker on the e-reader.
The overall design is very unique. The screen is deeply sunken into the body of the unit, to accommodate the IR touchscreen display. It also has a physical home button, to bring you back to your main screen. Really, it is quite a solid e-reader and the main selling point is buying content from the Toshiba BookPlace eBook store.
The entire UI is in Japanese and there is no way to load in different languages for an English crowd. Toshiba is focusing exclusively on the Japanese market and enhanced the Japanese bookstore to launch this new e-reader.
Let’s talk about the ebookstore, since this is your destination to buy content. There are various categories to browse from, as well as a dedicated search area. You can sort by price in YEN if you want to find cheaper or more expensive books. We noticed at least three thousand books total in the ecosystem that mainly comprise of Manga, Graphic Novels, Cookbooks, Kids Books, and eBooks. Most of the Manga is only available via PDF and the rendering engine to display content is painful. You can’t pinch and zoom to isolate specific panels, but if you press one, you can zero in on a panel. Obviously, page turning in Manga is swiping on the left hand side. It also, has a PDF rendering engine to allow you to scroll around the document.
Your main home screen comprises of your library shelf, where the cover art of the books you own are presented in all of their glory. You can sort by list view, but the default is cover view. It looks like there are 15 titles that can be on your main screen.
At the very bottom of the display area is links to your library, settings, and the BookPlace. You can configure various options, such as page refresh, WIFI setup, font sizes, and alternative settings.
In the video at the bottom of the review, we show you most of the menus and sub-menus. Our Japanese is a bit rusty, but Peter knew enough to set the e-reader up for a review. In order to even start using the reader from scratch, you need to setup a user ID, password, and email address.
The Toshiba BookPlace Mono reads EPUB and PDF documents by default. It sells ebooks and manga in both of these formats, but does allow you to upload your own titles that you download from the internet. There is a small sync button, so when you upload your own titles from the Micro USB to USB cable on your PC, you want to make sure to sync your new content.
Overall, e-reading is very solid. The traditional EPUB book, turns pages very quickly. You can customize the font size, font type, linespacing, margins, and gesture direction. By default, the e-reader is configured to turn pages when you swipe to the left, but you can change it to the right.
The PDF experience is OK, as long as you are just turning pages. The e-reader tends to buckle under the pressure if you are initiating the zoom feature or scrolling around the document.
In the end, this is an ebook reader geared towards a very specific market. Toshiba spent a ton of money and man hours relaunching its online store in conjunction with the release of the Mono. You can download free samples of most manga, but we noticed that not all books had samples.
Will this reader sell? It is priced at around $140 US, and ebooks cost anywhere from 200 Yen to 900 Yen. I can see this as being a fringe device, as most people are gravitating towards smartphones and tablets for their everyday use. The one thing it has going for it is Manga. Traditionally, it is not in color anyways, so you don’t lose out on not having a full color screen. The art, panels, and overall experience is fairly solid, and even Toshiba’s line of tablets doesn’t tap into the BookPlace ecosystem.
I would recommend this over some of the alternatives available in Japan, such as the BookLive Reader by lideo.
Great manga selection
Tends to stagger under the weight of zooming on PDF files
Each generation of readers has fantasy titles they grew up with: in the 1870's, Jules Verne's '20,000 Leagues under the Sea' was published to the delight of the French citizens and eventually readers the world over. The 1930's brought 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of Rings' trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. The story of 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' by J. K. Rowling rose to popularity during the 1990's and the boy wizard continues to enthrall children and adults alike. Fantasy is an ever-evolving genre of literature that feels both classic and modern; keeping us reading and thinking about these weird and wonderful stories well after their release.
Fantasy Tales That Soar
The 'Beautiful Creatures' series by Kami Garcia is another National Bestseller, popular with both teen and adult audiences. While it has elements of the 'Twilight' series it's set in the graceful, Old South with mystery, magic and some romance for good measure. Be sure to read the book before seeing the movie!
Rick Yancy's 'The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp' reads like 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians', but with a medieval twist. Alfred is a modern day teenage King Arthur who must track down and protect his famous sword, Excalibur.
In keeping with the classics, the tale of Robin Hood and his Gang of Merry Thieves has been re-imagined by A.C. Gaughen with a head strong female leader in 'Scarlet'. Gaughen masterfully provides the reader with a familiar tale of a well-known hero but provides a thrilling, new angle. Other modern fairytales including 'Beastly' by Alex Flinn and 'Wildwood Dancing' by Juliet Marillier also bring new perspectives to beloved and legendary tales.
These titles and many more great summer reads are available for purchase in Content Reserve in the Summer 2012 YA/Juvenile Read-A-likes list.
Renee Lienhard is an Analyst for the Collection Development team at Overdrive
Just when it seems that digital publishing has reached the peak of innovation, someone has to make it even better. Ruckus Media Group, known for its interactive enhanced children’s ebooks, announced that it received grant funding from the National Science Foundation to make a collaborative ebook which will enable parents and their children to read and play embedded games within the same title, even when they are physically separated by distance.
“The challenge to collaborative learning comes when the parent is not co-located with the child — when a parent is away from the family home serving in the military or on a business trip, for example,” explained Ruckus in a press release. “Currently eBook platforms do not provide the opportunity for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to work, in real time, with non-mobile devices like desktop and laptop computers; by automating the process and tapping into the growing ubiquity that networked, mobile technology can address, Ruckus' RTWA technology will provide a parent and child with the experience of being co-located so they can take advantage of the value of synchronous collaboration.”
This collaboration between parents and young readers, even while apart, not only fosters a love of reading and establishes the importance of literacy, but can also greatly benefit emerging readers who are still only learning.
"Nothing fosters literacy like parents, caregivers and kids reading and sharing books together," says Jason Root, Ruckus' Chief Content Officer. "Storytelling has a rich read-along, read-out-loud heritage. We are honored to have been selected by the NSF to further our idea of utilizing proprietary mobile technology to create remote read-together experiences in real time. Parents may be separated from their children due to military or business assignments or divorce, and grandparents often live in different states or countries — yet they all want to read with their children. Our goal, simply, is to keep families connected through reading, whether they are physically co-located or not."
For its part, the NSF funds not only science, but broader spectrum approaches to education. Its annual budget of approximately $7 billion goes to support a number of projects in education, for which it received about 50,000 requests each year.
Kobo has signed a deal with the National Public Radio system in the United States to start promoting its e-readers and ebooks. The campaign starts on June 3rd and runs until the end of the year and will have brand messages on All Things Considered; Morning Edition; Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me; Weekend Edition; and Ask Me Another. Kobo is hoping to reach more than 6.5 million listeners, with more than 18 million total listener impressions.
Most of the brand messages will be pointing listeners to visit their favorite local bookstore that participates with the American Booksellers association. These select locations have deals in place with Ingram to have the e-readers ready to sell in their stores and royalty channels for purchasing ebooks.
"This is very big, and very good news," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. "Responding to the needs of our market, and the direct feedback of ABA bookstores in the e-reader and ebook program, Kobo has taken a significant step in strengthening their brand in the U.S. NPR is the gold standard for reaching our best customers, and it's expected that this program's national reach and penetration will reach markets large and small from coast to coast."
Kobo Intends to Hype e-Reader Brand on US Public Radio is a post from: E-Reader News
The American Library Association is getting behind a new treaty that would make books and ebooks more accessible to the blind and people suffering from reading difficulties. ALA wants to get permission to start converting publisher’s books from the normal format to braille and super large fonts. The organization also doesn’t want barriers based on geographical location, the removal of which would allow libraries in Europe and Canada share commonly converted books.
ALA is running a petition on the main Whitehouse website to lobby for stronger stance at the summit. “Less than 1% of printed works globally are accessible to the blind. This is because laws around the world bar printed material from being turned into formats useable by the blind and visually impaired, or for such material to be shared across borders.”
The petition goes on to say, “That's why 186 countries will soon convene in Morocco to finalize a treaty that would empower the world's nearly 300 million blind citizens with the same rights to read, learn, and earn that the sighted enjoy. However, huge and powerful corporations – many wholly unaffected by the proposed Treaty – are working to fatally weaken it or block its adoption.”
Sounds like a great idea, who would be opposed to making ebooks available for the blind? General Electric, Exxon, and the motion picture and publishing industries are opposing the treaty.
Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office told me exclusively, “Librarians have always been committed to getting information into people's hands in whatever format works for them, and that includes audio and Braille books. In the new modern publishing world, e-readers that are able to translate print to voice provide people with visual disabilities access to a wide range of books. We strongly support the international Treaty for the Blind because we believe that no one should be excluded from information because of where they live.”