Tuesday, July 9, 2013

DC Cancels Two Digital-First Comics, Cuts Print Edition for a Third


DC Comics has been publishing digital-first comics for over a year now, and its strategy has been to publish the comics first in individual chapters for 99 cents each, then collect three chapters at a time into print comics priced at $3.99 (yes, print costs more than digital here). The logic here is that DC gets to sell the same story twice, presumably to different audiences, although there are probably a few diehards who will buy them both ways.

This week, though, DC announced some changes to the lineup: Two series, Ame-Comi Girls and Arrow, are being discontinued in print and in digital, while a third series, Legends of the Dark Knight, will skip the floppies and go straight to trade. A look at estimated sales in comics shops compiled by the retailer site ICv2 makes it pretty clear why: sales of all three comics have plummeted since their release. Legends of the Dark Knight #1 sold 42,904 copies; sales of the second issue were down by more than 25%, to 30,085, and while the curve flattened out a bit after that, each issue still sold fewer copies than the one before, with the most recent issue selling only 16,678 copies in the month it came out. Arrow showed a similar pattern, starting with 25,442 copies of issue 1 and winding up with only 9,671 copies sold of issue 8. Ame-Comi Girls did a bit of a relaunch halfway through, with new numbering, but the first issue sold 24,966 copies, the first issue of the new series sold 16,558, and the most recent issue sold 11,229.

The cancellations follow the pattern DC has established with its print comics; Todd Allen did some analysis a few months ago that seems to show that once sales of a print comic drop below 18,000, it is in danger of being canceled. One might expect that threshold to be lower with digital-first comics, because digital as well as print sales contribute to the bottom line.

For comparison purposes, let’s look at a couple of digital-first comics that weren’t cancelled this week: Smallville Season 11 #14 moved 15,097 copies in June, and Adventures of Superman #2 sold 22,407. So maybe we can look at sales of 12,000 to 17,000 as being the danger zone, with various factors that we can’t see (how many copies are selling digitally, how much the creators are being paid) affecting the outcome. That may explain why Legends of the Dark Knight is going to go straight to trade, even though it sold more single-issue comics in June than Smallville.

DC Cancels Two Digital-First Comics, Cuts Print Edition for a Third is a post from: E-Reader News

Amazon Working on Three New Tablets for Fall Release


Amazon got into the tablet game a few years ago and is now in the habit of offering three different versions that appeal to different segments of users. A new report has surfaced today that gives us a sense of what to expect from the refreshed line due out this fall.

An updated 7-inch Kindle Fire will reportedly feature a 1200 x 800 resolution display. The current 7-inch Fire retails for $159 with a 1024 x 600 panel. The pixel upgrade will thereby improve screen resolution on par with the current Kindle Fire HD. The upcoming version of the Kindle Fire HD will actually jump to a 1920 x 1200 display. Finally, the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire will bump up to an impressive 2560 x 1600-pixel screen, besting the Retina display of Apple’s iPad.

You can expect that all of these devices will be cheaper if you opt into the WIFI only with Special Offers. These are the lowest priced models available and they recoup costs by displaying advertisements on the home screen and lock screen. You can easily remove these with a one time payment of $25.00. The more popular models give you 4G access to allow you to read and buy content on the go.

The most appealing tablet that Amazon is developing is the 8.9 inch edition. If graphics and resolution are your thing, about the best thing on the market running Android is the Nook HD+, which has 1920 x 1280. The new Fire HD 8.9 is going to have an amazing 2560 x 1600, which will surely appeal to the gamers, video watchers, and magazine lovers.

Currently, there is no word on pricing or the specific launch date. Amazon tends to submit items to the FCC via shell companies and makes the discovery of these items very hard to find.

Amazon Working on Three New Tablets for Fall Release is a post from: E-Reader News

Txtr Slashes the Price of the Beagle e-Reader to €19.99


Txtr is best known for its multilingual ebook store that is available in Europe, Canada, and other markets. The company has dedicated apps for both iOS and Android that allow customers to buy books and read them directly within the apps. One of the company’s little known offerings is the Txtr Beagle. This is a very low-cost reading device that connects up to your tablet via Bluetooth, which you can use to transfer ebooks to it. The Beagle was supposed to see a global roll-out with a very low price tag, due to telephone carriers heavily subsidizing it. This never panned out and the Beagle has been relegated to only being available in Germany. Today, Txtr has announced it has slashed the price on the Beagle to a paltry €19.99.

Txtr is feeling the heat of competition in the summer months with a number of  other e-reader companies offering discounts. TrekStor Pyrus Mini is on sale at Thalia for €35 and the Kobo Mini is on sale at Saturn for €29.

Good e-Reader was very proud to be the only company in the world that legitimately reviewed the Beagle and we had a solid month with it to seriously evaluate it. The Txtr Beagle features a five inch E Ink Vizplex screen with a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. Most e-readers these days do 16 levels of grayscale, while this model only does 8. Txtr has informed us that the final model will have E Ink Pearl, which should give it 16 levels of grey and sharper/crisper text. There are 4 GB of internal memory and five ebooks can be cached at any given time. We noticed we had way more than five books loaded on the Beagle, and it only took a bit longer to open them up, so you are not exactly limited to five.

The Beagle boasts of one year battery life, thanks to the 2 AA Energizer Lithium Ion batteries that are included in the box. It also is being billed as the world's lightest reader, but that's not entirely true. The Wexler Flex One currently wears that crown at 110 grams, while the Beagle is 128 grams (with batteries) and 111 grams (without batteries).

This is an extremely bare-bones reader. There is no WIFI, Mini or Micro USB ports, or any expandable memory via SD. There are three main buttons on the bottom of the screen which function as the Left/Right and Home. About the only thing it has is Bluetooth, which is used to facilitate copying ebooks right from your phone or tablet to the Beagle.

The Beagle is officially now the cheapest e-reader in the world, but I would not recommend buying it. It takes batteries, the screen technology is 3 years old and you need Bluetooth to load anything on it.

Txtr Slashes the Price of the Beagle e-Reader to €19.99 is a post from: E-Reader News

Amazon Publishing Launches Comics, Graphic Novels Imprint


Amazon’s traditional publishing arm, Amazon Publishing, has a number of genre-specific imprints already producing titles from sought after authors. But today, the publisher announced the launch of a new imprint, Jet City Comics, that will join the publisher’s nine other specific imprints, as this one will focus on comics and graphic novels. The new imprint already has an impressive lineup of titles coming over the course of the next few months, from authors like George R.R. Martin, Hugh Howey, and Neal Stephenson.

"Comics and graphic novels, especially in digital format, represent a unique area for innovation," said Jeff Belle, Vice President of Amazon Publishing, in a press release announcing the launch. "Our focus will be on adapting great books for this medium as a means of expanding the audience for our authors, pushing boundaries with new ideas that combine visual and narrative storytelling, and creating compelling new experiences for readers."

“It's a dream to work with superstar authors like George, Hugh and Neal on the launch of a new imprint," said Alex Carr, Senior Editor of Jet City Comics. "Millions of fans have read and loved their novels, and with Jet City we look forward to opening up these iconic worlds to new audiences. We're working with an incredible, hand-picked team of comics professionals, writers, artists, and translators, who have done an amazing job developing and expanding these inventive stories. I'm looking forward to the response from comics readers and fans."

While jet City Comics will be releasing a graphic novel adaptation of an original short story by Martin, fans of Howey’s Wool series will be thrilled by the graphic novelization of his bestselling dystopian titles.

"My fans have been clamoring for the return of Dunk & Egg ever since the graphic novels of 'The Hedge Knight' and 'The Sworn Sword' went out of print several years ago," said author George R.R. Martin, "so I am delighted to announce that Jet City Comics is bringing them back—newly formatted for digital readers, and in paper for those who still prefer the traditional formats. And Jet City will be bringing you something new as well: the graphic novel 'Meathouse Man,' adapted from one of my strangest, darkest, and most twisted short stories by the amazingly talented Raya Golden. I'm pleased and excited to be a part of Jet City's takeoff. May they fly high."

This announcement comes after the news from Kobo that their partnership with Aquafadas will open doors for comic and graphic novelists to self-publish their works to a variety of platforms and digital devices. While still a traditional publishing route, Jet City Comics will be releasing its titles in digital format as well as print, meeting the need for content that many fans of the genre are seeking.

Amazon Publishing Launches Comics, Graphic Novels Imprint is a post from: E-Reader News

Are Print Books More Valuable than Digital?


At the onset of e-reading brought on by the flood of dedicated devices to the market, the reading community seemed fairly well divided into two camps: those who embraced digital reading, and those who steadfastly refused to relinquish paper. While the first get praised e-readers for their portability and storage capabilities, the print fans insisted that nothing could replace the experience of a bound book.

A piece by Rachel Arons for The New Yorker discussed the differences in so-called book fetishists, people who treasure printed books as an object of beauty, and not just for their literary value. While it may be easy to dismiss these collectors as what the name implies–people suffering from a severe fetish for print media–they are actually a driving force in the book industry.

As Arons points out, there are whole niche markets for these book fans, such as a perfume based on the smell of an old book and a spray that is e-reader safe but that will make the device smell like a book. There are whole art genres based on pieces made from collected book materials, gallery pieces that adorn the owners’ walls with…books.

While these fans might be a dying breed as more and more consumers turn to the price and convenience of ebooks, the publishing industry is still feeling the effects of a market driven by print fans. A number of surveys have cited the responses from consumers who have embraced the digital revolution themselves, yet still prefer print books for their children, stating that they want their children to experience holding a book and developing a love for reading. And the value that some consumers place on printed books can still be seen in the ongoing debate over what prices should be for books, both print and digital.

Even as e-screen technology improves and tablets support a very real simulated turning effect, the fact remains that industry watchers’ predictions from only a couple of years ago are proving true: there will be no death for either paper or digital, as both formats have their place in consumers’ hearts and wallets.

Are Print Books More Valuable than Digital? is a post from: E-Reader News

AudioGo Showcase: Schroder

Amity Gaige's Schroder made the list! AudioGo's Top 100 list is on sale this month in OverDrive Marketplace; and in order to give our users a better sense for the quality and extensiveness of titles available through AudioGo, I chose to do a brief review of Schroder and give some insight into why it made the Top 100.


I began reading Schroder by Amity Gaige with an open mind. The story turned out to be an easy read; but I found myself facing a storm cloud of social issues: some expected some not. The protagonist of the story, Eric Kennedy, aka Eric Schroder (where we get the name for our tale) attempts to remake his life as a youth at an 'all boys' summer camp, fabricating an elite backstory of having some distant relation to the Hyannis Port Kennedys.


Eric continues to live through the fa├žade he has created into adulthood and marriage; where the decisions he made in his youth begin to affect his future.


Jennifer Egan


"In SCHRODER, Amity Gaige explores the rich, murky realm where parental devotion edges into mania and logic crabwalks into crime. This offbeat, exquisitely written novel showcases a fresh, forceful young voice in American letters."—Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad


*You can find Schroder on sale in OverDrive Marketplace in our Must Have's list under AudioGo 30% off sale. 


Laura Guldeman is a Collection Development Analyst for OverDrive

Android Jelly Bean Is the Most Used Version as Revealed in Latest Pie Graph Revelation


Google has come up with a new pie graph revealing details of the usage pattern of the various Android versions. What can be termed as the most interesting revelation of the latest figures released by Google is that Jelly Bean has seen greater uptake in the past few months, so that the newest Android iteration has grown in its user base from 33% to 37.9%. That is a healthy improvement, and elevates it to the most used operating system. Gingerbread, present in 34.1% of devices, has slipped to the second slot, while Ice Cream Sandwich (23.3%) has slipped to the third spot. However, with the Jelly Bean platform, it is the newer 4.2.x version that is present on a minority 5.6% of devices, while a majority 32.3 percent users are still hooked on to Android 4.1.x Jelly Bean.

The above data has been collected during a 14 day period ending on the 8th of July based on the devices that had visited the Google Play Store. The data recorded during the previous cycle ending June 3 had seen Gingerbread reigning at the top with 36.5%, followed by Jelly Bean in 33% of the devices. Ice Cream Sandwich was recorded on 25.6% of the devices.

Android Jelly Bean Is the Most Used Version as Revealed in Latest Pie Graph Revelation is a post from: E-Reader News

Nokia Tablet Emerges Once Again

nokia tablet

The Nokia tablet is here again, making it perhaps the umpteenth time the device has hit headlines. The series of flip flops have been punctuated by confirmations once in a while that the company is indeed in the race to develop a tablet device. However, all of the hype nearly disappeared, except now we are seeing a remarkable resurgence of a prototype model once again.

However, lest there be joyous outbreaks to mark the arrival of Nokia at the tablet scene, let's set the record straight. The new images represent the prototype device that the Finnish phone maker had produced, though nothing has ever made it to the final production stages. Sources reveal the device is packed with the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad core chip rated at 1.3 GHz, 2 GB RAM, and a 10.1 inch 16-point touch touchscreen. Other features of the tablet included a HDMI out slot, a full sized USB port, and a micro SIM card slot. Also, of course, the tablet runs Windows RT and shares quite a few design cues with the present crop of Lumia devices. The images also reveal a magnetic connector similar to the Surface devices.

A total of 5 images have emerged of the cancelled device and have been posted at the site Naver Cafe Forum by a user who claims to have received it from someone at Nokia. However, Nokia fans that might have been eager for a tablet from the company can still have hope. Sources close to the project have confirmed to The Verge that the company is working on a Windows 8 version instead. The closest that we have seen Nokia coming to launch a tablet was during the MWC event held early in the year, though that never came to be.

Nokia Tablet Emerges Once Again is a post from: E-Reader News

Kobo Releases Blackberry 10 e-Reading App


When the Blackberry Playbook was originally released, one of the preloaded apps that came bundled on it was Kobo. The two Canadian companies reached an agreement early on to give readers a chance to instantly tap into an expansive ebook ecosystem. Today, Kobo has announced that it has finally released its seminal e-reading app for Blackberry 10.

“The Kobo app creates the ideal reading experience for BlackBerry smartphone customers who want to be able to consume books wherever they are and whenever they want,” said Wayne White, EVP of Devices, Kobo. “Readers will be able to manage their library and pick up right where they left off, all on their smartphone.”

BlackBerry 10 smartphone customers who download the Kobo app will receive Forbes.com blogger Jessica Hagy’s How to be Interesting After you Graduate. After Hagy’s “How to be Interesting” post on Forbes.com went viral, attracting more than 1.4 million viewers, Hagy captured her ideas in this quirky book about how to stand out from the crowd. The book, exclusive to Kobo, will be automatically loaded to a customer’s account upon download of the Kobo app.

The Kobo e-Reading app is now available for download on the BlackBerry World, and you can download over 4,500 other BB10 apps at the official Good e-Reader App Store.

Kobo Releases Blackberry 10 e-Reading App is a post from: E-Reader News

XinXii’s iPhone App: Self-Publishing on the Go


German ebook distributor and self-publishing platform XinXii, who distributes authors’ ebooks worldwide, serves eight languages, and works in three different currencies, has been working with self-published authors internationally for some time, but yesterday announced that it was the first of its kind to offer an iPhone app interface to its platform that lets authors work from their iPhones.

“The stated objective of XinXii is to support indie authors in managing their book project not only professionally but also as conveniently as possible,” says Dr. Andrea Schober, founder and CEO of XinXii, in a statement yesterday. “The XinXii’s app for authors is an important building block. This tool allows authors to use our service flexibly outside the online platform.”

This app incorporates the mobile ability that lets authors stay on top of their sales, book dashboards, and track revenues right from their mobile phones, as well as accessing some of the features of the XinXii site. Since checking their important book data is a crucial part of the author business, this portability allows authors to maintain control over their sales data, one of the chief complaints authors have had over the years about relinquishing their books to traditional publishers.

The XinXii’s App for Authors is available for iPhone (all versions starting from iPhone 3GS and iOS 4.3) on the App Store in English ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/xinxii/id645485548?l=de&ls=1&mt=8) and in German ( https://itunes.apple.com/de/app/xinxii/id645485548?l=de&ls=1&mt=8) for 1,79 EUR, $ 1.99, £ 1.49. The app is available as a free download until July 14, 2013.

XinXii’s iPhone App: Self-Publishing on the Go is a post from: E-Reader News

Have you grabbed your free SYNC audiobooks yet?

Back in May we announced this year's launching of the audiobook SYNC program. Since that time, thousands have downloaded free audiobooks every week from classics like 'The Tempest' and 'Jane Eyre' to popular, new content including Anna Banks 'Of Poseidon' and the bone-chilling 'Rotters' by Daniel Kraus.


This wonderful program goes through the middle of August so if you haven't been grabbing your free titles, now is the time to start! Each week, two titles are available for free to anyone who goes to http://www.audiobooksync.com. Once downloaded, these titles are yours. These titles are great for road trips and traveling, multitasking or even to enjoy while you drift off to sleep (if you listen to them through the OverDrive Media Console app you can access our sleep timer).


Looking for a way to keep students engaged during their time away from school? Studies show that listening to audiobooks can help with reading comprehension as well as knowledge retention. If you've never listened to audiobooks, why not take this opportunity to give them a try? Summer will be over before we know and so will the SYNC program. Don't miss this magnificent opportunity to grab both classic and new audiobook titles for free!


Adam Sockel is a Marketing Communications Specialist at OverDrive


PiPlanter: a plant growth monitor

We’ve see a lot of clever irrigation devices for gardeners being made with the Pi, but PiPlanter is the most complete (and the best documented) system we’ve seen so far. It does far more than simple irrigation. PiPlanter monitors temperature, ambient light, ambient humidity and soil humidity; it outputs that data to a MySQL database, controls a pump to water the plants depending on that data, and outputs the data as graphs and text. (It also tweets that text and uploads the graphs to Flickr hourly so that Devon, the PiPlanter’s owner, can keep an eye on things.)

Devon has documented the build minutely, with circuit diagrams, a ton of code, and several videos. Here, he explains more about the sensor array he built.

You can read much more at Devon’s blog, and replicate the project yourself. Thanks Devon: more power to your green thumb!