Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Paywalls being Considered by Thousands of Newspapers


Readers don’t mind paying for online news and many popular newspapers in North America are all abiding by this principle via Paywalls. The New York Times currently has over 640,000 digital subscribers and is growing by double digits every quarter. The essence of a paywall is giving 5-10 online articles away a month, for free, and then prompting them to subscribe digitally to read more. Thousands of Newspapers are evaluating buying into this new subscription model at the World Newspaper Congress in Bangkok.

“The general impression was that it would be impossible to reverse the culture of free content, that people will never pay for it,” said Gilles Demptos of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. Still, all major Canadian and American newspapers have all embraced this new structure and are doing well. Not that they have a choice, as advertising revenue has severely diminished by 42% since 2008. Unfortunately, newspapers keep their actual subscription figures close to the vest and tend never to publicly divulge the amount of money they are making. So its hard to get an accurate reading on their overall success.

It remains to be seen if smaller and medium sized newspapers could even be relevant in an online environment, that charges for content. This is primary due to the decline of readership in North America, which has slumped by 13% and fell 25% in Western Europe; and 27% in Eastern Europe in the last year.

The overall decline in readership is mainly allocated to the success of Flipboard, Pulse, Buzzfeed and Reddit. Often, these online communities are breaking news stories and are more engaging to talk about the major stories and issues. Jeff Jarvis, of the City University of New York said that the industries “infatuation with paywalls are encouraging it to replicate its old, industrial business models in a new, digital reality, and the real problem remains a lack of engagement with web communities.”

The newspapers that really succeed in the digital space with Paywalls, tend to be the major National editions or ones that operate in large urban centers.They can afford to hire the best writers and employ a higher degree of journalistic integrity. They may not be able to match the breaking news that Twitter can, but can deeply analyze issues and dissect what it all means.

Paywalls being Considered by Thousands of Newspapers is a post from: E-Reader News

Amazon Opens up Merchant Solutions in India


Amazon has opened up their e-Commerce marketplace today in India and will now allow for the sale of books, movies and television shows. This will also serve as a platform for merchants to sell their wares and setup a virtual shop.

"This marketplace will provide Indian customers with a shopping destination to purchase products from third-party sellers. India represents Amazon's tenth marketplace launch," the company said in a statement.

The move into India was an important step for Amazon due to rising competition in the e-commerce sector. Flipkart, Snapdeal and Infibeam have started providing online services for buying and selling and many businesses have been gravitating to those platforms. eBay actually helped finance Snapdeal and remains committed to the success of the platform. The one problem is none of these companies is profitable, but there is a large enough population to sustain them in the long term. Amazon, will not be selling any of their own inventory in their India store, but will basically function as a fulfillment center that does transaction processing for other merchants.

"Our vision is to become a trusted and meaningful sales channel for retailers of all sizes across India, enabling them to succeed and efficiently grow their business online," Amit Agarwal, Amazon India's vice president and country manager, said in a statement.

Amazon Opens up Merchant Solutions in India is a post from: E-Reader News

DC Unveils Two New Digital Comics Lines


The vast majority of digital comics still either start out as print comics or are destined to become print comics at some point in their lifetimes, but that’s likely to change as the medium matures. DC Comics pushed that maturation a step further this week with the announcement of two new digital comics lines that both use digital-friendly techniques.

In fact, it’s hard to imagine any way to translate the DC2 comics into print: Rather than moving from panel to panel, readers will tap the screen to bring in the next storytelling element, which could be a word balloon, a pictorial element, or a whole new scene. As DC’s Jim Lee told Wired blogger Laura Hudson, "What's cool is that you really get to challenge the rules of traditional storytelling. You aren't beholden to a strict left to right western culture narrative. You can have elements that leap back and forth."

Dropping in a new visual element with each swipe isn’t a totally novel idea—it’s a technique that Mark Waid has used in Thrillbent and Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men Infinite, and webcomickers have been using variations on it for years (the one that stands out in my mind is Dan Goldman’s Red Light Properties).

The DC2 line will launch with Batman ’66, which is based on the classic 1960s-era Batman TV show, and it’s easy to imagine how the show would translate into a digital comic, with pop-up sound effects and goofy transitions.

DC2 Multiverse, on the other hand, will basically be choose-your-own adventure comics for digital (which should be a lot easier to follow than paperbacks that constantly have you flipping to another page half a book away). The first series in this new line will be Batman: Arkham Origins, which ties in with the upcoming videogame. The appeal to gamers is obvious: Readers can change the story as they go, then return to a branching point to see how it would play out with a different set of decisions. But DC plans to take that interactivity a step further:

“We get feedback based on how readers navigate through these stories, and what story branches are most appealing to them," said Lee. "That'll give us meaningful input as we create additional chapters for the multiverse storyline, to the point where you can have people vote on the fates of certain characters. The interactivity isn't just on the screen itself; it's between us as publishers and readers as fans."

Indeed, Techhive’s Andy Ihnatko says that the comic will send data back to DC about the user’s choices, which is a little creepy (although the data will be aggregated and won’t be tracked back to the individual user).

In announcing these new comics, Lee and DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson also mentioned the growing importance of digital comics to DC’s overall picture: "Now there are a million downloads a month of DC stories from our digital publishing. It's not an insignificant business anymore," Nelson told Wired, while DC’s press release quotes Lee as saying “since the onset of Same-Day-Digital our print and digital sales have both risen by double and triple digits, respectively.”

DC Unveils Two New Digital Comics Lines is a post from: E-Reader News

BookExpo America 13 Wrap Up

This past week, Team OverDrive attended BookExpo America (BEA), as well as the annual Audiobook Publisher's Association Meeting, IDPF Digital Book 2013, and the LJ and SLJ Day of Dialogue meetings. During these conferences, OverDrive team members participated in panels and presentations to librarians and publishers from around the world. We also met with librarians and publishers at OverDrive's BEA booth, while sharing the latest information about OverDrive Media Station (OMS) and Big Library Read.


OverDrive's BEA booth attracted a lot of attention thanks to hands-on demonstrations of OMS. These demos showed how OMS displays top-selling titles and provides access to one million eBook and MP3 audiobook titles in every genre. OMS provides retailers and libraries unprecedented discoverability, connecting publishers and authors directly with users.


It was also shared that, during Big Library Read, Michael Malone's 'The Four Corners of the Sky' was checked out more times than ‘Gone Girl’ and all three 'Fifty Shades' titles combined. In addition, it also was revealed that 'The Four Corners of the Sky' received more than six million cover image impressions. Michael Malone's following on Facebook and Twitter grew by more than 100%, and readers' interaction with 'The Four Corners of the Sky' on Goodreads exploded.




In the coming weeks, OverDrive will be at the American Library Association annual conference in Chicago, as well as the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in San Antonio. Be sure to stop by our booths if you're attending!


Adam Sockel is a Marketing Communications Specialist at OverDrive

Top Five Math Fiction Titles For Girls

Math has a reputation for being closed minded.  While it’s true that math isn’t open to multiple perspectives or interpretation, such as English or history, it does involve studying relationships, scrutinizing symbols and shapes, and, of course, solving problems.  These are three areas in which girls can excel.


Educational studies report a gender gap between girls and the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  However, researchers are finding that "improving girls' beliefs about their abilities could alter their choices and performance."  So a good way to build mathematical confidence in your daughter, niece, or granddaughter would be to give her an opportunity to read about girls and boys who love math.  Who knows - maybe she’ll be a little more hopeful and confident when she enters the math classroom in next fall!


Heroes and Heroines Who Live for Math



‘Hannah, Divided,” by Adele Griffin is an historical fiction novel set in 1934.  It invites the reader to attend Hannah Bennett's one-room house, where she shares her math obsession with fellow students.  Hannah is not celebrated for her gift in math in her small rural town, but is viewed as mentally challenged because she can’t read.  This is an uplifting story about believing in yourself and finding your strengths.




‘Do the Math’ is a two-book series by Wendy Lichtman.  The first book, ‘Secrets, Lies, and Algebra,’ introduces the reader to Tess, an eighth grade math whiz.  Tess is like other girls with friends and crushes, but is a little different in that she examines her teenage experiences through the lens of mathematics.  Lichtman is creative with the chapter titles by naming them after math concepts, such as chapter 1: Inequalities.  This would be a great summer read for any middle school student.


‘Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture: A Novel of Mathematical Obsession’ is an international bestseller written by Greek author Apostolos Doxiadi.  This mystery novel earned high acclaim from the Mathematical Association of America and is a recommended teen or adult read.  "The book is really the story of two generations of obsession, the one; a quest for the solution to a mathematical problem, the other; a young man’s search for the truth about the uncle his family shuns and the reason for having thrown away his life."


‘The Phantom Tollbooth,’ by Norton Juster is a modern classic.  As Maurice Sendak, author of ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ wrote: "Tollbooth is a product of time, and a place that fills me with fierce nostalgia.  Tollbooth is pure gold."  Discover for yourself the story of Milo and his adventures.


Renee Lienhard is a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive

World’s First Firefox Tablet Launched


If Firefox chose the MWC to launch its operating system for mobile devices, it was left for the Computex event to showcase the first tablet based on the Firefox OS. The launch was also accompanied by the announcement of a new strategic alliance between Firefox and Foxconn with the latter contracted to develop a host of devices based on the Firefox OS including the tablet. However, both declined to name the OEM for whom the devices are being assembled.

The Firefox operating system that is based on HTML5, along with a host of other open web technologies, has already attracted the attention of several manufacturers who have committed themselves into developing hardware based on the OS.

"At Mozilla we see the open Web as the biggest and the best platform for the mobile world. The Firefox OS initiative helps solidify open Web standards for mobile computing; it also encourages and enables more openness in system integration and device interoperation. This cooperation demonstrates the full potential of Firefox OS, the open Web mobile operating system, to enable not only the smartphone but also a wide range of mobile devices," said the SVP of Mobile Devices, President of Asia Operations, and CEO of Mozilla Taiwan, Dr. Li Gong.

As per information currently available, at least 5 companies—Alcatel, TCL Communication Technology, LG Electronics, ZTE Corp, and Huawei Technologies—have confirmed they are developing devices running the Firefox OS. However, other top tier companies like Samsung has ruled out any devices running the Firefox OS so far though Sony Mobile has evinced interest in developing a Firefox OS based device in future.

Dr. Li Gong was quoted saying, "The (major) operating systems in the market now are not doing good enough…the Mozilla solution will complement what other operating systems lack, such as Android in native mode. There is currently no solution based on HTML5 and open Web technologies."

Firefox is a browser based operating system, which means the apps run on a browser foundation. What remains to be seen is how well it will be able to compete with the well established operating systems such as Android and iOS in the market.

As for the tablet, neither  Firefox or Foxconn revealed what the internals of the device will be like. Instead, it has been left to the OEM to revealed the specifications at a later date.

World’s First Firefox Tablet Launched is a post from: E-Reader News

Google Play Downloads Poised to Topple Apple by October

Android apps

Google may not have had 50 billion apps downloaded from its Play Store, a feat that Apple reached in the recent past, though it may not be too far from such a milestone. Not when it is witnessing 500 million more apps downloaded than Apple. The trend is least surprising considering there are 900 million Android devices currently in service compared to 600 million from Apple. With more devices feeding from a single app store, the consumption rate will naturally be higher.

Analysts are predicting downloads via the Apple App Store could soon be relegated to second place, and the Google Play Store is poised to take first by October. It is definitely expected that by the end of 2013, the Play Store will rise to the top. While the number of apps downloaded per Android device might still be low, it still has the numbers to its advantage. Interestingly, consumers have been found to spend much less on downloading apps from the Play Store compared to those who own Apple devices, a trend that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Still, about 2.5 billion apps are downloaded from the Google Play Store every month, while Apple records 2 billion app downloads.

"The sheer weight of Android units will generate more downloads, but on a per device basis the iOS devices do seem to consume more apps and the gap is not narrowing. What would be valuable would be the revenue per app on Play (the figure for iOS is about $0.23). That, as far as I know, remains unknown," said Horace Dediu, an analyst with Asymco.

Google Play Downloads Poised to Topple Apple by October is a post from: E-Reader News

Astrophotography with the camera board

Cristos Vasilas from from Dash One, a lover of astronomy and electronics, has been trying out the Raspberry Pi camera board as an astrophotography tool. He’s captured some amazingly sharp, short video of the moon, and of Saturn, rings clearly visible, swinging across the sky.

Cristos used foam packing material to attach the camera board to the eyepiece of his telescope, and mounted the Pi on the barrel of the telescope with velcro.

He says: “A dedicated Celestron 5M pixel imager costs $200, and I doubt it is nearly as versatile as the rPi.” Since filming the images above, Cristos has also discovered that a group of telescope enthusiasts have released code enabling the Pi to drive Stellarium, the planetarium software that tells the telescope where to point, so he can also lose the laptop from the kit needed to take photos like this in the future. If you haven’t played with Stellarium yet, you really should; several of us here at the Foundation are big fans and use it regularly – you don’t need a telescope to enjoy it.

Cristos says he has more work to do on exposure, gain, contrast and so on, and we hope he’ll be posting the results on his blog.

We’ve found that there’s enormous potential in bringing down the cost of amateur photography – of all kinds – as a hobby with the Pi, whether or not you’re using the camera board. Check out these earlier posts if you’re interested in finding out more.

Waterproof Kindle Paperwhite Review – Kindle Goes Swimming with the Fishes

Last week I posted about a new waterproof Kindle Paperwhite from a company called Waterfi. They were nice enough to lend me one for review, so I did some tests to see if it really is waterproof. On the surface the waterproof Kindle Paperwhite looks exactly the same as my regular Kindle Paperwhite. There’s no [...]

Hachette Makes Audiobook Catalog Available to Disabled Readers


At this year’s BookExpo America event, OverDrive CEO Steve Potash had some high praise for Hachette’s recent embracing of library lending, making 100% of its catalog available to all public and school libraries who partner for digital content. While other major publishers have been adopters of ebook lending on some scale, Potash’s admiration was for a publisher to look at the very clear data on how lending actually supports authors and publishers, and make a strong decision to support it.

Now, Hachette has gone even further in its support of readers by making the audio editions of its back list and select new releases available free of charge to the NLS, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The NLS is a division of the Library of Congress that meets the unique needs of readers of different abilities.

Nearly twenty years ago, legislation was enacted that allows the NLS to made different versions of books available for the disabled without having to seek the permission of the copyright holder. This allows individuals to enjoy books at the same rate and scale as non-disabled consumers. Unfortunately, while legal and even supported by many publishers, it is still time consuming to create different versions of the books.

"As a publisher, Hachette Book Group strives to make authors' content as widely accessible as possible, and the NLS program is the perfect channel to reach fans of our books and audiobooks who otherwise may not have the opportunity to experience those works," Anthony Goff, Hachette's VP of Audio and Large Print Publishing, said in an announcement about Hachette’s support of the NLS.

According to an article by Matt Enis for The Digital Shift on Hachette’s new program with the NLS, this initiative came about after a fan reached out to author Douglas Preston, asking if he knew when the latest title in the Pendergast series would be available as an audio download through Talking Books. That inquiry led Hachette to evaluate what other means of support it could lend to disabled readers.

Hachette Makes Audiobook Catalog Available to Disabled Readers is a post from: E-Reader News

Apple Survives Day One of DOJ Lawsuit Trial


The proceedings got off to a rocky start on Monday, with Apple’s attorneys questioning in their opening remarks whether or not this particular judge could give Apple a fair trial, practically accusing her of being biased against the company. This mild accusation came from a remark the Judge Denise Cote made that the evidence was stacked against Apple in this case. However, Cote gently reminded the attorneys that she is quite capable of doing her job, and that it was Apple who requested that she review the evidence before the trial began in an effort to speed things up.

According to the Department of Justice, who is bringing this suit against Apple, there’s a reason Apple is the last player standing in the years-long court proceedings that brought in five of the then-Big Six publishers as well as Apple. The tone of yesterday’s court session made it appear as though the publishers, fearful of what Amazon’s growing market power could do to the price of books, were lured in by Apple’s plan to make sure its newly launched iPad stood a chance with consumers.

Yesterday’s evidence brought in a plethora of emails and correspondence between various players in the entire issue, demonstrating an “out to get them” mentality lobbed at Amazon, and the willingness of the publishers to go along with it. One document filed in court actually showed Penguin CEO David Shanks admitting that Apple served as the go-between for the alleged scheming to take control of prices away from the book retailers, something that has been in practice for hundreds of years, and give that pricing power back to the publishers.

One of the more interesting turns of events in this case is the testimony expected later this week from Barnes & Noble. While more than a few eyebrows went up that the producer of the Nook tablets–which struggle in the marketplace to keep up with the iPad–would offer its support of Apple in court. Some sources have even openly stated that this is nothing more than B&N’s siding with Amazon’s enemy. But those who remember some of the proceedings in this case last summer may remember that B&N filed an amicus brief in the suits, stating in court that all book retailers potentially stand to be hurt if the terms of book pricing contracts revert back to what they had been prior to 2010. B&N made a very impassioned and eye-opening point that Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other major retailers won’t ultimately be damaged by handling this lawsuit badly, but that communities will lose very valuable smaller and independent bookstores if agency pricing is overturned

Apple Survives Day One of DOJ Lawsuit Trial is a post from: E-Reader News