Thursday, May 30, 2013

Simon & Schuster Opens up New Publishing Division in Canada


Simon & Schuster has a print and distribution center in Canada, that sends print and eBooks to the various stores and retail chains. In the past, if you were a Canadian author you actually had to publish with S&S in the US or via one of their imprints. This is no longer the case! Canadian authors can now publish directly with Simon & Schuster in Canada.

Kevin Hanson, president of S&S Canada, said: “This will give Canadian authors more opportunities to be published in Canada, discovered by Canadian readers and made known abroad through Simon & Schuster’s global publishing platform. We look forward to making our own contribution to Canada’s vibrant literary scene.”

More details surrounding the logistics of the new publishing program in Canada should surface in the coming weeks. Already, book agents and authors are celebrating this decision. "I see this as extremely good news for Canadian writers, and for Canadian culture and ideas," said literary agent Jackie Kaiser. "It's a welcome counterpoint to the corporate mergers and increasing commercial pressures of the book business and will simply add to the overall diversity of editorial perspective and taste, something that will inevitably lead to a healthier general publishing climate. There are more than a few important, successful books that were initially rejected by all but a single editor who saw something the others could not, and anything that increases the likelihood that good work will see the light of day is a very good thing in my books."

I think this is a great move for one of the largest publishing companies. It gives them the ability to tap into an extensive Canadian base of authors and fast track them into bookstores and libraries. Since this is such a new project you can bet the first crop of authors will receive a ton of media attention and be cited in newspapers across the country.

One of the biggest concerns most libraries have voiced at their annual meetings is lack of Canadian titles from major publishers. They want to support regional and local writers, but find it very difficult to stock relevant titles. Most Canadian writers are forced to publish in the USA in order to reach a wider audience. Once published in the US, it often takes a copious amount of time to transfer the book rights back over to Canada and market it correctly. Of course, there is always small presses, but their overall reach is poor and often does not include the digital editions or marketing.

Simon & Schuster Opens up New Publishing Division in Canada is a post from: E-Reader News

New Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Cover Art Revealed

Scholastic 02

Scholastic announced earlier in the year that the company was going to release brand new editions of the entire Harry Potter saga that are poised to hit the store shelves in August. The company has been generating significant buzz surrounding the cover art created by award winning artist Kazu Kibuishi. Today at Book Expo America, the artist and Ellie Berger, President of Scholastic Trade Publishing, Arthur A. Levine unveiled the new cover art.

The new cover for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets features the flying car that Harry and Ron rode to Hogwarts. In the background is the Weasley family home and many people are considering this art to be the best ever done for the franchise. Subsequent cover art will be revealed during the next few months for the remainder of the books.

The entire Harry Potter book franchise is thought to have garnered over $7,743,000,000 in sales as of late 2012. The launch of Pottermore last year has finally given people the ability to download the digital ebook editions. Scholastic has informed us that the new cover art would only be applicable to the North American Trade versions and the ebook art will not change.

New Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Cover Art Revealed is a post from: E-Reader News

EPUB3 Still Not Ready for the Prime Time


Every year, as a precursor to Book Expo America, the IDPF holds its annual two day conference. It brings all of the movers and shakers of the digital world to hold panels and talk about the current state of affairs of digital ebooks and future formats. The Daisy Consortium, IDPF, and W3C all talked extensively about how EPUB 3 was doing and the speakers were all trying hard to convince publishers to gravitate towards this format. Although progress has been made, the format is not ready to be deployed in earnest.

Almost every publisher we talked to expressed reservations about getting involved in the next generation of the EPUB3 ebook format. If you are unfamiliar with this format, it borrows heavy elements from HTML5, and allows for audio, video, and the ability to change the language on the fly. It is certainly appealing on a fundamental level for anyone wanting to do interactive content, kids books, cook books, and other media-centric activities.

The main problem is none of the best features are standardized yet and the format is likely to never be fully completed. For example, dictionaries are still being developed and are not fully integrated. This means if you want to have patrons look up words in English, French, or a myriad of other languages, they have to code it themselves. We heard that dictionaries won’t even be functional until the end of the year. Also, you currently can’t share your notes, highlights, or annotations with other users. An independent body within the W3c is working on this issue, but there is no estimated delivery date. If you want to restrict your users to only access your content in a specific market, geolocation is also not currently available. The BBC, Microsoft, Google, and many other companies are currently lobbying for this structure to protect their content and make sure domestic publishing rights are maintained.

Any publishing company experimenting with EPUB3 is likely familiar with the Readium open sourced software. This is a tool that people can use to test their enhanced ebooks and get a sense on how they look on Kobo and Sony. Currently, the entire Readium project is undergoing a huge enhancement that is due out in August. It will include a public SDK, that companies can use to develop their own e-reading apps for Android and iOS. It will include features like fixed page layout, dynamic pagination, embedded fonts, and more! When this new version of Readium comes out, the old Chrome plugin will be discontinued and be officially depreciated.

As much as the new EPUB3 format is tossed around, the majority of the industry still uses EPUB2. We talked to Dark Horse after one of the sessions and the comics publishing company was surprised to learn that the new format is backwards compatible with the old format. Many companies still think that if they implement the EPUB3 framework, they will have to edit all of their old files, books, comics, and so forth. This is not the case, as it is all backwards compatible.

If you want to learn more about EPUB3, HTML5, and dedicated apps, and how they would fit into your publishing pipeline, we wrote an epic three part series that talked to some of the leading publishers, companies, and the bodies actually trying to standardize the format. You can read PART 1, PART 2, and PART 3, to get a sense on the perception people have on the various formats.

EPUB3 Still Not Ready for the Prime Time is a post from: E-Reader News

Aberystwyth Sailbot

SailBot 2013 International Robotic Sailing Regatta is a robotic sailing competition in which the goal is to create an unmanned sailboat that navigates through a variety of challenges with limited, if any, human control.

We met the Aberystwyth Sailbot team at the recent Cambridge Raspberry Jam. Their Sailbot uses a Raspberry Pi to make sure its tiny little crew make their way safely back home and we liked it so much that we are proud to be sponsoring them. Daniel Clark from the team tells us more:

We’re a team of students from Aberystwyth University. In October last  year, we all knew we had an interest in robotics, and we were given the  opportunity to build and program an autonomous boat, so we decided to  start work and later enter it as a team in the Sailbot competition,  this year held near Boston, Massachusetts, USA, in June 2013.

The Aber Sailbot underway

Our entry’s control system is based off of a Raspberry Pi for all the major logic (written in Python and Java) and an Arduino Uno for interfacing with most of our sensors. We chose the Raspberry Pi to put at the heart of our control system because we knew it was small, robust and it would run code written in any language we wanted. Another key thing it had was networking so we could use Git as our version control system, as well as being able to SSH into the Pi remotely and make any last-minute adjustments. Also it had USB, which was needed for us to connect to the Arduino.

One last time: these are *small*, but the ones out there are *far away*

Our 1.2m long boat has two servos (one for the rudder and one for the sail), a GPS, a wind direction sensor and a compass. We also have a backup RC remote which, when turned on, automatically takes priority over the on-board control system, so that we can manually avoid collisions during the fleet races. If Sailbot2013 goes well we also plan to enter it into this year’s World Robotic Sailing Championships held in Brest, France, this September, and will continue to perfect it and hopefully enter it into next year’s  Sailbot as well.

The Aber Sailbot Team

Preliminary tests using RC can be seen here:

Take a look our website for more information follow us on Twitter @AberSailbot and like us on Facebook


Disney Digital Explains Development Cycle and eBook Creation


Disney Digital is responsible for all of the apps, games, and ebooks that you consume on your tablet and PC. The company is heavily invested in what the company is calling StoryTelling 2.0, but it might as well be called transmedia storytelling 2.0. This is a new breed of content the company is pushing to build synergy between tangible and digital products. Disney is in the perfect position to go this route, without devaluing the other products.

The new Monsters U movie and game for iOS came out at around the same time. When you purchase the app and select merchandise, you will unlock new costumes and levels in the game. Lyle Underkoffler, the VP of digital media said that it is working on new forms of digital content, where if you buy the physical book, you will unlock the digital ebook or unlock other characters in other Disney properties. This encourages you to become invested in either a specific IP or encourage kids to check out totally new characters that are only available in the form of apps.

StoryTelling 2.0 also comprises of a similar technology that Barnes and Noble employs on its children’s titles. There is a read aloud feature, read by yourself, and even narrate your own story. Disney is also pushing out more apps that will allow kids to assemble their own movies, featuring characters and environmental art from Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Marvel, and other properties to create their own movies. You can simply drop in the characters you want, pick the environment, props, and rotate everything around on the fly. In various test groups, parents and kids both responded positively on movies produced by children and and even narrated by the young whippersnappers, too.

Disney Digital has a 50 person team and a 3-6 month development cycle on their apps and games. The time it takes to produce new IP’s or established franchises takes a lot less time than other companies, because Disney as an entity shares art assets. The digital division can get 3D character models from Pixar and give it to their own in-house animator to customize. Like any studios, it is often the big movie tie-ins that get the priority treatment, while sometimes the smaller homegrown stuff gets put on the back-burner. Finally, we were also told that we can expect a bunch of new Star Wars games to come out later this year, alongside some really hot new things.

Disney Digital Explains Development Cycle and eBook Creation is a post from: E-Reader News

Listen up: SYNC audiobooks for summer are here!

For several years now, audiobook publishers have partnered with SYNC to provide free audiobooks downloads each week throughout summer. The SYNC program pairs a current young adult title with a classic or required summer reading title. Each SYNC audiobook will be available for download for a period of 7 days, and once downloaded can be listened to at any time.

Click through to save full size image to use in an email blast to your community.


OverDrive is providing distribution services for all the SYNC audiobooks. The titles are all in MP3 format and can be downloaded via OverDrive Media Console for Windows, Mac and most mobile devices.


To help promote SYNC, we've created an email template for you to use. All you have to do is paste this image into the body of an email, add a hyperlink to , and send to your patron email list. Additional promotional materials available in the SYNC tool kit.


The SYNC program is a great way to introduce teens to audiobooks, and in turn those audiobook fans will look to your library as a source for more great audiobooks. Keep a lookout on our blog for ways to promote audiobooks in June in honor of Audiobook Month.


Cassie Renner is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive

Meet the Staff: Bill

Meet one our newest writers, Bill, as we talk about beards, Classics degrees, and the Chicago Cubs.

Join us for a live Community Outreach webinar

Looking for ways to promote your digital collection this summer? Join us for a live Community Outreach webinar next Thursday, June 6 at 2:00 PM ET (Click here to convert it to your time zone, if you're not in Eastern Time). Register now to save your spot!


We will share best practices for promotion and highlight some of the wonderful, free, marketing resources available in the Marketing & Outreach section of our Partner Portal.


Take advantage of this opportunity to chat with OverDrive Marketing Specialists about ways to promote your digital collection. If you can't make it next week, you can view a recording of the Community Outreach webinar on demand in our Learning Center.


Additionally, don’t forget our Digital Library Champions contest wraps up Tuesday June 11, 2013, so there is still time to get those entries in! Spending just a few minutes compiling all your outreach efforts over the past year and filling out an entry form is all it takes to win your library a collection credit and a device!


Cassie Renner is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive.

3M Publisher Portal Provides Data to Publishers


In all of the criticisms and debate surrounding the current state of library ebook lending, the publishers are often painted as the bad guys. Some major publishing houses don’t allow lending for their titles at all, while others impose hefty price increases for libraries. Others restrict how many times an ebook can be checked out before the library must purchase a new digital copy.

What many critics fail to accept is the publishers’ claims that they are in uncharted territory when it comes to digital lending. Conceivably, every library need only purchase one copy of a book, as that file will never become lost or damaged. At the same time, publishers insist that piracy remains a very real concern, no matter the restrictions that can be put in place.

A number of initiatives have come about recently in order to show publishers that yes, this concept can work. OverDrive and Sourcebooks are working on their collaborative Big Read project, which allowed simultaneous users in over 3,500 libraries to all borrow the same Sourcebooks title, which early reports now say has been downloaded at least 24,000 times.

At BookExpo this week, 3M Library Systems will unveil its publisher portal, allowing publishers to stop by the booth and test drive the level of feedback that they can receive whenever their titles have activity through partner libraries. Several strategic publishers assisted 3M in the development of this portal, which is being demonstrated now.

"We know publishers can find great value in the metrics generated through libraries," said Matt Tempelis, global business manager, 3M Cloud Library, in a statement. "Sharing data with publishing partners not only strengthens relationships, but it also shows the importance of selling eBooks to the library market."

In these instances, the success of these pilot programs and experiments have had a unifying factor: publisher cooperation. In order for ebook lending to move forward on a broader scale, forward-thinking publishers will have to continue to reexamine their long-held beliefs about their products and be willing to look at the data that so far has clearly shown that ebook lending benefits readers, consumers, authors, and publishers.

3M Publisher Portal Provides Data to Publishers is a post from: E-Reader News

CourseSmart, Metrodigi Collaborate on Digital Textbooks


Digital academic platform CourseSmart and ebook publisher Metrodigi announced their new partnership project at BookExpo America this week. Together, the two companies plan to offer academic publishers an even more efficient, streamlined process for creating interactive digital textbooks. This content will be available in the ePub3 standard for greater adoption and compatibility, while still allowing publishers to work in the digital interactive direction in a more affordable way.

"Interactive, visual and engaging digital content is the future of learning materials and we are excited to form a partnership that will dramatically drive down the cost tocreate this content," said CourseSmart CEO Sean Devine, in a statement. "We anticipate a growing catalog of the interactive content available in our new InteractiveReader and are eager to support the positive impacts on student engagement and learning."

The cost of developing this kind of digital content has often prevented publishers from pursuing interactive materials, but Metrodigi’s Chaucer platform brings that cost down to a more manageable level, especially for publishers with a smaller catalog of titles or who develop materials for a limited segment of students.

"We are continually expanding our network of publishers and are excited Chaucer is enabling our partners to create more compelling and interactive content," continued Steven McKinney, Metrodigi CEO. "By combining our experience creating digital materials in other areas, including comics, art books, children's books and cookbooks, with CourseSmart's expertise in higher education, we have the ability to create incredibly compelling, cross-platform content for the education sector."

This collaboration will add to CourseSmart’s existing catalog of more than 40,000 academic titles from sixty different educational publishers. The CourseSmart catalog includes around ninety percent of the educational textbook titles available today.

CourseSmart, Metrodigi Collaborate on Digital Textbooks is a post from: E-Reader News