Sunday, July 7, 2013

How Libraries Are Coping with Digital eBook Discovery

ala 2013

eBook discovery is something that every major online bookstore and the entire publishing industry is trying to figure out. How do you make books easier to find online and tailor results to your specific needs? Physical bookstores and libraries are often the places people visit to find out what just came out and discover new authors. Libraries certainly don’t generate many headlines with making digital content easier to finds so how exactly are libraries making digital discovery easier for their patrons and even building brand awareness?

There were two major topics of discussion at the American Library Association Annual conference in Chicago. We wrote about one of them last week, in an article that centered around the concept of libraries becoming retail. The second major trend at the event was addressing ebook discovery and what libraries and technology companies are doing about it.

Overdrive unleashed its Media Station for Libraries, and the concept behind this is to attract the public using a tablet in a display or kiosk, which then aids in discovering what digital content is available. It features an all-in-one PC that can be any brand or model, and it uses Overdrives HTML5 software to allow you to interact with the touchscreen. The Media Station will showcase the audiobooks, ebooks, video, and music that the library offers and can send the content directly to your smartphone or tablet. Currently, Overdrive deals with 22,000 libraries all over the world and many will buy into this new platform. It really aids discovery with the ability to customize your home screen and focus on specific literary genres, notable authors, or develop custom lists for individual customers. This allows libraries to encourage the public to check out their digital content and develop specialized elements that would appeal to their local community.

Many libraries are investing in online technology and database code to aid in ebook discovery. Douglas County Library employs very advanced searching algorithms that will give you specific results or make recommendations based on your reading habits.

Libraries, to me, are focusing on the wrong thing. They are more concerned about extensive programming to serve specialized search results, like Amazon does. Or, they are focused on customizing their apps and developing funky book lists. Some are even investing hundreds of thousands of dollars on their own hybrid ILS and totally original experiences.

The average library now has an operating budget of $10,000 for their digital collection. Building public awareness should be the top priority and often is the most neglected. How do you let the general library population and the greater community at large know that you even offer ebooks? Libraries tend never to run advertising campaigns or do local marketing at any level. This hampers the digital adoption because they have no way of letting the younger demographic know they can get thousands of free ebooks from the library. Why focus on what the existing users are doing when 70% of all your core demographic aren’t even using digital?

Libraries these days are faced with having to generate their own promotional vehicles. A few libraries are placing cards in each book with a link to the ebook or having QR codes spread around the library location. Some are making posters and others are running events in schools and old folks homes. Sadly, most libraries don’t have dedicated marketing division. Of course, the big ones do, like the New York Public Library, but the 99% of the others are faced with the challenge to promote themselves alongside all their other duties as a community figure.

Every single library we talked to at ALA was feeling tremendous pressure to promote their digital collections. Some were seriously looking at Overdrive’s terminals to boost public awareness and others were looking at more guerrilla marketing. In the end, there is no service or resources to help libraries promote their digital collection. There are no collections of free open sourced software, communities, and marketing materials that offer step by step tutorials or have seasonal advice. ALA does its best, but its materials are not current and it really doesn’t have any savvy digital kids generating modern materials.  3M and Overdrive offer very generic stuff, but that ropes you into dealing with them. What if your collection is more academic or focused on small publishers and there are no public resources for you? I don’t think libraries should worry about digital discovery, they should be more concerned about discovering the digital collection.

How Libraries Are Coping with Digital eBook Discovery is a post from: E-Reader News

Week in Review – The Latest UK Digital eBook News


Hachette UK is certainly capitalizing on the success of its digital ebooks and is seeing massive growth. Digital ebooks now represent 25% of trade sales, and fiction titles now account for 30% of the total revenue. It has now been revealed in a letter to United Kingdom based authors that Hachette sees 50% of its entire revenue stream stem from digital book sales through Amazon and other partners.

The Arts Council England (ACE) launched a new £1.3m campaign to support libraries, with ten grants available. The Enterprising Libraries project is being funded by ACE, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), and the British Library.

Victoria Barnsley has left HarperCollins and Charlie Redmayne, chief executive of Pottermore, will take up the reins. There will be a ton of attention from shareholders on HC, because the newspaper and book publishing divisions are a single entity now and must innovate to make more money.

The first annual Kobo Writing Life Scholarship program has just kicked off, in conjunction with The Curtis Brown Agency. It is a three-month novel-writing course that will run from Wednesday the 25th of September to Wednesday the 18th of December in London. It will be led by a number of agents and authors that give creative advice and work with you on a personal basis. The scholarship is aimed at lower income people—struggling young writers perhaps? It normally costs 1,200 quid to attend, so it might be worth it to enter.

Last Monday, Random House completed a merger, thereby creating the world’s biggest publisher with control of more than 25% of the global market. Gail Rebuck is one of the most prolific UK publishing executives. She has been running Random House UK since 1991 and has just stepped down. Tom Weldon, the UK chief executive of Penguin, is now the chief executive of the enlarged UK operation.

One of the biggest topics at the American Library Association Annual Conference 2013 in Chicago was libraries as retailers. Libraries are, in essence, public bodies that get their funding from local government and federal taxes. That libraries are adding a "Buy It Now" button to their websites is beginning to become a polarizing issue. Some people are in the camp that the small commissions can be used to reinvest into their content acquisitions and others say selling books has no place in the library.

Week in Review – The Latest UK Digital eBook News is a post from: E-Reader News

Digital Comics Best Sellers for July 7

My Little Pony 8

It’s time for our weekly look at the digital comics best-seller lists, and the one thing they have in common seems to be that they have nothing in common, except for the extraordinary popularity of Injustice: Gods Among Us and The Walking Dead.


1. Injustice: Gods Among Us #25
2. Batman ’66 #1
3. Batman Incorporated #12
4. Avengers vol. 5 #15
5. Satellite Sam #1
6. Green Lantern #22
7. Earth 2 #14
8. Detective Comics #22
9. Avengers A.I. #1
10. Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1

DC owns the top ten list this week with seven comics; Marvel has two and Image has one. Injustice: Gods Among Us continues to top the list, and as in previous weeks, all the comics in the top ten are single-issue comics that came out this week.


I’m not sure what planet the Amazon people are on, but their “Comics and Graphic Novels” best-seller list includes three prose novels and Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince (and no, it’s not a graphic adaptation). So I’m going to switch to the more reliably comics-oriented list, “Comic Books & Graphic Novels With Kindle Panel View.” This list is quite different, so it won’t be comparable to the previous week’s lists. Let’s take a look:

1. Superman #1
2. The Walking Dead, vol. 1
3. Cable/Deadpool, vol. 1: If Looks Could Kill
4. Injustice: Gods Among Us #1
5. Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi, vol. 1
6. Batman, vol. 1: The Court of Owls
7. The Sandman, vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes
8. Watchmen
9. The Walking Dead, vol. 2
10. Injustice: Gods Among Us #3

Here we see a completely different profile from comiXology. There are only three single-issue comics, and none of them new this week. In fact, with the exception of the Injustice comics, everything on this list has a publication date of 2012 or earlier, and there’s a strong preference for graphic novels. This is not the Wednesday crowd snatching up the new releases, it’s the bookstore shoppers looking for a complete story.


1. Injustice: Gods Among Us #23
2. Injustice: Gods Among Us #25
3. Interview with the Vampire (free preview)
4. Superman: The Man of Steel #1
5. Batman: Earth One (free preview)
6. Superman #1
7. Fathom: Dawn of War Beginnings
8. Neozoic #1
9. FCBD Superman: Last Son #1
10. Guy Ritchie’s Gamekeeper (free preview)

Once again, the free comics crowd everything else out—Barnes and Noble seems to be the only digital retailer that mixes free comics in with paid on its best-seller list. Just for giggles, let’s filter out the free comics and make our own list of paid comics on the Nook:

1. Injustice: Gods Among Us #23
2. Injustice: Gods Among Us #25
3. The Walking Dead, vol. 1
4. Injustice: Gods Among Us #1
5. The Walking Dead, vol. 2
6. Injustice: Gods Among Us #17
7. Injustice: Gods Among Us #16
8. The Walking Dead, vol. 17
9. The Walking Dead, vol. 3
10. Injustice: Gods Among Us #20

That’s a pretty thin list. Apparently the only thing Nook users will spend more than 99 cents on is The Walking Dead. And by the way, the tenth-best-selling comic on the Nook is number 36 on their overall comics best-seller list, which means over half the top “sellers” are actually free.


1. Injustice: Gods Among Us #25
2. The Walking Dead, vol. 18
3. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #8
4. The Walking Dead, vol. 1
5. Injustice: Gods Among Us #24
6. Injustice: Gods Among Us #1
7. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #1
8. Injustice: Gods Among Us #2
9. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #6
10. Deadpool, vol. 1: Secret Invasion

Well, now we know where the Bronies live! iBooks has an interesting profile, mostly single-issue comics, but not the newest releases for the most part. It will be interesting to compare these lists to the June best-sellers lists for print comics when they come out, and see which of these varied digital distributors comes closest to the brick-and-mortar world.

Digital Comics Best Sellers for July 7 is a post from: E-Reader News

HP Slate 7 vs. Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7


Welcome to another Good e-Reader Video Comparison! Today, we check out the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 vs. the HP Slate 7! Both of these tablets run on the Android operating system, but give two very unique experiences.

In this comparison video, we mainly center on the overall reading experience. We look at newspapers, magazines, comic books, and ebooks! The Kindle Fire HD has Dolby Surround Sound and the HP Slate 7 has Beats Audio. We fire up some video, no pun intended, and also play audio.

Both of these devices do a fair job, the Kindle has better resolution, which makes image heavy content really shine. We noticed that magazines look way better on the Kindle, but comic books and newspapers were fairly even. eBooks on the Kindle really shine with proprietary features like X-Ray and WhisperSync for Voice.

HP Slate 7 vs. Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 is a post from: E-Reader News

HP Slate 7 vs the Apple iPad Mini


Welcome to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today, we are checking out the first tablet HP has issued since the TouchPad versus the Apple iPad Mini.  This video mainly centers around the e-reading experience.

The HP Slate 7 features a gunmetal aluminum body on the sides and back of the tablet. The front is done all in black, which certainly doesn’t make it stand out in the crowd. It features a 7 inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024×600. It certainly won’t win any awards with the quality of the screen, but average users probably won’t mind. Underneath the hood is a ARM Cortex-A9 dual-core processor clocked at 1.6GHz, paired with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. You can enhance the memory further via the Micro SD card, up to 32 GB.

The iPad Mini features a 7.9 inch 1,024 x 768 IPS LCD touchscreen display with 163 ppi. It is significantly thinner than most Android tablets on the market and is a bit wider than the Kindle Fire HD 7. Underneath the hood is the same 32-nm A5 chip that is found in the iPod Touch 5th generation, and it keeps things rather speedy.

In this comparison, we look at the core e-reading experience and what you can expect out of both of these devices. We look at magazines, newspapers, ebooks, comic books, and lots more! We tried something new in the last two minutes of the video, so check it out!

HP Slate 7 vs the Apple iPad Mini is a post from: E-Reader News

Have You Tried Any Free Digital Magazines From Public Libraries Yet?

Last week I posted an article about how it’s now possible to get dozens—even hundreds—of digital magazines through Zinio for free from public libraries. You can download as many magazines titles as you want for free, and you never have to return them. It sounds too good to be true, but I’ve tried it out [...]

eBook Review: Colorado Mandala by Brian Francis Heffron


Verdict: 5 Stars

Books as insightful and alluring as On the Road or The Dharma Bums pulled the reader into a whole different world that lived and died in America. Heffron’s title, Colorado Mandala, treats readers to the same effect, instilling in them the sense that they are living right alongside the characters in a whole new plane.

Set in the early 1970s, Colorado Mandala follows the experience of a hapless narrator, Paul, whose business partner and friend is sinking in his own pit of guilt and adjustment following a gruesome event during his last tour as a Green Beret in Viet Nam. Michael escapes the torment of the event by tracking down the widow of a fellow soldier, vowing to care for her and her orphaned son, only to find solace in drugs and wandering when he is unable to keep a tight control on his anger and hurt.

It’s been a long time since I read a book whose author does such a thorough job of putting the reader in the setting, in this case, the scrub outside Manitou, Colorado, without having to resort to lengthy passages of overdone description or flowery language. Heffron quite simply drops the reader in an utterly familiar place, even without having been there before. He eloquently does the same for the characters, aptly describing people I’ve never met and never will, without having to expound on every physical or emotional detail. I quite simply know these people now, and I’m not sure how.

Colorado Mandala is available from Amazon.

eBook Review: Colorado Mandala by Brian Francis Heffron is a post from: E-Reader News