Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Disney Unveils New Augmented Reality Book Technology


Disney Research labs in Pittsburgh have developed new augmented reality technology called Hideout, which could take books into an entirely new direction. HideOut explores how mobile projectors can enable new forms of interaction with digital content projected on everyday objects such as books, walls, game boards, tables, and many others.

Disney elaborated on what their new technology brings to the table by saying “We enable seamless interaction between the digital and physical world using specially formulated infrared-absorbing markers – hidden from the human eye, but visible to a camera embedded in a compact mobile projection device. Digital imagery directly augments and responds to the physical objects it is projected on, such as an animated character interacting with printed graphics in a storybook.”

It will be interesting to see if mobile projector technology will catch on. It is important that the technology run in concert with the hardware manufacturers and the big media companies. Disney is probably in the best position with their Marvel, Star Wars and Disney properties to make the entire concept work. Once Hideout is more refined, can you image how puzzle games and eBooks will be transformed? The video below shows that it is a proof of concept and fairly rough around the edges. Still, companies need to start focusing on other avenues for their digital properties, instead of just iOS and Android apps.

Disney Unveils New Augmented Reality Book Technology is a post from: E-Reader News

eBook Industry Experiences a 5% Gain in Q1 2013

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The eBook industry has not exactly plateaued yet, but it seems to be holding relatively steady.  The AAP released new data today to give us a sense of how the publishing industry fared in the first quarter of 2013.

The overall eBook market increased their net worth by 5%, garnering $393.6 million from $374.8 million in 2012. Audiobook sales have also increased by 14% and raked in $28.3 million, compared to the $24 million in 2012.  Sales of adult fiction eBooks increased by 13% but children’s digital editions declined by 30%.

If we look outside North America electronic books now account for 14.5% of the entire publishing industries revenue.  The top countries contributing to eBook sales were the UK, Australia, Germany, France, Norway and Switzerland. Germany showed the greatest year-on-year revenue gains while New Zealand, Spain, Italy, South Africa and Brazil also contributed significant eBook revenue gains.

Many US publishers we spoke to are not surprised about these new industry figures.  Ever since the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon has dissipated, we have not really seen any one title contribute generate a copious amount of sales. Publishers for the most part now have a dedicated infrastructure in place and sales have stabilized.  Barnes and Noble may suffer the most from these new figures as the company puts a heavy emphasis on Nook Kids and this genre has seen the highest decline in sales.

eBook Industry Experiences a 5% Gain in Q1 2013 is a post from: E-Reader News

VIZ Media Graphic Novels Now Available at Kobo


Kobo and Viz Media have signed a new deal that will bring 60 different series that includes over 500 editions. NARUTO, BLEACH, VAMPIRE KNIGHT and BLUE EXORICIST are among some of popular titles that will be available through this launch. Readers can use the Kobo Arc, a tablet device that is ideal for reading in full colour and or one of their many dedicated e-Readers, such as the Kobo Aura HD. Books can also be accessed using the official Kobo app for Android or iOS.

Supporting Fixed Layout ePubs, Kobo provides comic-lovers with a responsive reading experience that allows users to zoom and pan into scenes and images effortlessly with a simple double-tap of the screen as well as seamlessly swipe through titles with no delays. With a highly responsive experience, Kobo is dedicated to providing Viz Media customers with the best platform for reading comics and manga.

"Kobo users will be thrilled to have direct access to the world's most popular and acclaimed manga titles delivered through their family of sleek and compact e-Reading devices," says Gagan Singh, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, VIZ Media. "Manga continues to be one of the fastest growing and most popular segments of the digital publishing market and we are very pleased to continue to expand the range of integrated delivery models available to fans."

"We're thrilled to bring VIZ Media titles to Kobo's growing catalog of manga and to be expanding our diverse content catalog for our most passionate Readers," says Nathan Maharaj, Director, Merchandising, Kobo. "Together with Viz Media's collection of titles and our crisp, dynamic and colorful reading experience, manga fans will fall in love with the digital reading experience."

VIZ Media Graphic Novels Now Available at Kobo is a post from: E-Reader News

Autography, HarperCollins Partner on Digital Book Signing


As the technology behind publishing continues to expand, so does the technology behind being a reader. There is no shortage of companies who offer similar digital experiences, but truly unique and innovative contributions to reading technology are not as plentiful. One technology, Autography’s ebook signing software, offers not only a new twist on the traditional book signing, but also creates that bridge between authors and readers that has become so much of the important branding work authors of any publishing model must do.

Today, Autography and HarperCollins announced their collaboration that will make Autography’s ebook signing software available across every genre that the publisher puts out. This signing capability is especially important in light of recent news that stand-alone titles–even those traditionally published ones–have the potential to outsell their print counterparts, like Orion’s release of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

"We are thrilled to be the first major publisher to partner with Autography, and are especially excited to kick off our relationship by delivering this innovative and personalized experience to our authors' devoted fans at the Romance Writers of America Conference," said Angela Tribelli, Chief Marketing Officer, HarperCollins Publishers. "Partnering with Autography allows us to preserve the intimacy of an author signing while reaching readers around the globe."

Autography has already clearly demonstrated the ability of this technology to bring together writers and fans. With its first online Spreecast event with romance author HP Mallory, hosted by GoodEReader, and its more recent event with And Then She Fell author Stephanie Laurens, the potential for virtual signing events is limitless and cost-effective. At the same time, live events, such as at this weekend’s RWA conference in Atlanta, authors can forge even greater connections with their readers by embedding a photo author page of the author and the reader, complete with a fully unique signature and dedication (as opposed to signing platforms that simply embed a pre-written signature).

One of the obstacles publishers have faced in terms of embracing technology like Autography is the effort it takes to report sales of these signed editions in order to impact bestseller rankings. HarperCollins has been able to see past that barrier and focus instead on the ability of this option to reach out to readers.

Autography, HarperCollins Partner on Digital Book Signing is a post from: E-Reader News

Kobo Aura HD Back In Stock

Earlier in the week I posted about the Kobo Aura HD being out-of-stock at Kobo and several retailers. That made me wonder if Kobo was already discontinuing their 6.8″ limited edition ereader, but that was mostly because it had appeared to have been removed entirely from Kobo’s main ereader page on their website—but that just [...]

HighWire, Tizra Collaboration Means Greater eBook Discovery for Scholarly Titles


eBook discovery, or the ability to browse and find a title based on basic keyword searches at online booksellers, is one of the greatest obstacles for authors or publishers selling content. Academic publishing is no different. Although the audience for more scholarly works might be smaller and have unique needs, that same discovery issue hinders academic ebook discovery.

“HighWire provides an advanced digital publishing platform to help industry-leading scholarly publishers innovate and thrive,” said Tom Rump, Managing Director of HighWire, in a press release today. “We considered many alternatives before selecting Tizra, but concluded that their nimble ebook tools best complemented the HighWire Open Platform, helping us expand our focus on discoverability and creating the most intuitive user experience.”

HighWire, which was founded in 1995 and is a part of the Stanford University library system, partners with a variety of sources like universities, publishers, and professional organizations to publish scholarly journals, ebooks, and more, while Tizra’s web-based platform makes book discovery and book selling a more streamlined process. Under this collaboration, academic publishers and institutions will hopefully be able to more effectively market their titles.

“Discovery in the ebook environment goes beyond search – it is the end to end path that a reader takes in finding, assessing, and making a decision to invest in a book, whether that investment is time or money,” continued Tara Robenalt, Director of Product Management at HighWire. “With the addition of Tizra’s ebook reader features, HighWire publishers can blend books alongside their e-journals, offering an integrated cross-content solution that falls into the reader’s natural workflow.”

Tizra’s ebook development capabilities, coupled with HighWire’s e-journal options, will now offer features like social media sharing options by page, more flexible chapter navigation, increasingly focused search engine optimization, greater support for mobile device reading, and more.

HighWire, Tizra Collaboration Means Greater eBook Discovery for Scholarly Titles is a post from: E-Reader News

Top Five Kindred Classics for Teens

Why read the classics?  The classic works of literature are at their core simple stories about people, their predicaments, and the culture, time and place in which they lived. I believe a classic is deemed so because of its' unique storyline and writing style which earned praise from generations of audiences.  If only Mary Shelley had known while she wrote 'Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus’ that her literary invention of a grotesque monster and the scientific experiment that created him, would brand itself into literature so deeply that we still see the allusions to it today.


Out of the mind and imagination of these classic authors readers see the same thread of wonderful writing, unique storylines, and characters who continue to travel through our literary world.  Peruse each of the following titles who began with their predecessor, the literary classic, but also evolved into a new and modern story for our times:


Classic                                                            Modern

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn —>   Finn: A Novel (Matthew Olshan)


Walden     —>   Being Henry David (Cal Armistead)


Hamlet   —> Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard (Laura Bates)


The Great Gatsby  —>   The Summer We Read Gatsby ( Danielle Ganek)


The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood  —>    Scarlet (A.C. Gaughen)



Renee Lienhard is a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive












Gone Girl eBook Sells in Higher Than Ever Ratio Compared to Print


The digital book industry has come an unbelievably long way in a few short years. From the days when critics insisted ebooks were a flash in the pan and publishers refused to invest in a technology that obviously wasn’t going to pay off, to the years in between when numbers slowly trickled in that demonstrated a rise in popularity and wider adoption of digital reading, the concept of a book has made a quick evolution.

But nothing may prove the strength of e-reading more than the current news for one of the most talked about books, Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. Today, the publisher, Orion, announced that ebook sales in the UK for 2013 have accounted for 60% of total sales, and that the ebook outsold print two-to-one in the US.

In a statement to The Bookseller, Orion’s Managing Director Lisa Milton said: “Only a year ago it would have been impossible to believe a novel could sell over a quarter of a million e-books within a few months. As long as there are readers, how anyone chooses to read a book—whether hardback, paperback, audio or e-book—doesn't matter…After such phenomenal sales in the US last year we're thrilled that Gone Girl is such an incredible success in every format, finding new readers every day who love it as much as we do.”

Gone Girl has stayed in the top ten for book sales for more than twenty-six weeks. Flynn is also the author of Dark Places and Sharp Objects.

Gone Girl eBook Sells in Higher Than Ever Ratio Compared to Print is a post from: E-Reader News

JK Rowling: The Importance of Brand and What’s Wrong with the Industry


First, I want to say that I have absolutely no gripe with JK Rowling. In fact, I even support and applaud her decision to publish a book that she wanted to write without all of the fanfare and hype. Remember Rowling’s first foray into expanding her reach as a writer? By 9:00am Eastern on the morning that her title A Casual Vacancy hit stores, it already had over 300 reviews on Amazon for an average of only three stars. Reviewers, it would seem, couldn’t get past the fact that it was not another Harry Potter book. We’ll never know how the book would have been received had it been written under a secret pseudonym.

But now we do know how a book written by a talent like Rowling gets received when it’s written under a pseudonym. Thanks to her desire to simply write and publish a book without all of the attention and accusations of it not being like her other books, Rowling released a book that very few people were talking about before this week. In fact, only 1,500 copies were even sold that first month.

Who’s fault is that? Do we blame the author for not doing her legwork and establishing an “online presence” and building a fan base? Do we blame the traditional publisher for what was obviously an epic marketing fail? Do we blame the readers for not racing out and taking a risk on an unheard of author?

Why are we blaming anyone at all?

Where the naysayers are accurately speaking out this week is to the rabid response once Rowling’s secret identity was leaked, something that she claims she wished had not happened, especially in light of the fact that there is a second book coming in her crime series, again under her pen name, Robert Gilbraith. Now that the secret is out, will the industry respond as favorably–albeit quietly–to this second book as they did to the first? Or will there be comparisons and sneers for Rowling’s constant attempts to be something other than the author of the Harry Potter series?

Now that the secret is out, bookstores can’t stock copies of this first book fast enough. Message boards are lighting up with names of locations that still have copies of the print edition. Records have been set, broken, and set again for the ebook sales, and I have to wonder. Where were all these fans when the book was just a quiet, great crime novel? Where were the reporters waiting to interview anyone connected to the publication of the book? Why did poor debut author Robert Gilbraith not get the attention that literary icon JK Rowling is getting?

Because the book wasn’t good enough when it was written by a nobody. Now that there’s a famous name behind it, we care. This hype proves that it is still not enough to write a great book or share a well-crafted story, and that a book is only as worthy as how much attention you can throw its way.

JK Rowling: The Importance of Brand and What’s Wrong with the Industry is a post from: E-Reader News

The GWR Locomotive Sketchpad

The what, you say? Easy. It’s a sketchpad. For Great Western Railway locomotives.

Alec Bray built the GWR Locomotive Sketchpad to allow you to design and mock-up steam locomotives based on the design principles of the Great Western Railway. (Not the most unexpected use of a Pi we’ve come across yet, but it’s right up there.) It’s a graphics-intensive, interactive program using the Lazarus IDE and the Free Pascal Compiler downloaded onto the Raspberry Pi and compiled natively.

Here’s a video about what the GWR Locomotive Sketchpad does. When I passed it around the office, Emma probably put it best: “It's a bit like one of those tours that you get in National Trust properties: it’s really interesting to listen to. It’s not so great to watch.” Hang on in there. The static image changes about a minute and a half in.

Alec says:

In the course of development of the steam locomotive, designers tried out a
vast range of possible designs to make the locomotives more efficient, to be able to pull heavier loads, at higher speed and/or at less cost per mile. In the drawing offices of every locomotive manufactory, many designs were drawn up and examined to see, which, if any, could offer any advantages over the existing locomotive stock. This approach was true even for a railway which had a current stock of efficient – and relatively modern – steam locomotive designs.

The GWR Locomotive Sketchpad is designed to allow users, either by resizing and repositioning objects by means of a graphical interface or by entering critical dimensions and options in a form-based interface, to see what these projected locomotives might have looked like. The program also doubles as a very simple entry-level design program, as internal sanity-checking attempts to prevent impossible engineering.

If you’re ever around kids, you’ll be aware that for a lot of them, trains hold a strange fascination. It’s always been this way: hands up if you wanted to be a train driver when you grew up. Eoin, the son of our indefatigable trademark compliance elf Lorna, shamed me recently when I brought him a Babbage Bear and a book as a gift. I came into their house bellowing: “Hello Eoin! I have a present for you!”

Eoin replied: “Is it a train?” and then cried when it wasn’t.

Alec has designed the Sketchpad so that young computer users like a slightly older version of Eoin (who doesn’t have the motor skills to type yet, let alone code, but as soon as he can reliably use a mouse you can bet he’ll be dragging and dropping bits of trains around with the best of them) can also construct data files using any appropriate language, including Python, Perl, C, Visual Basic and others, and then their constructed files can be run through the GWR Locomotive Sketchpad to see what sort of locomotive they have made. Alex says that the trick here is to include sanity-checking in their code for the various dimensions and shapes. So kids are developing their programming and gaining an understanding of basic principles of physical engineering at the same time.

The GWR Locomotive Sketchpad application is available through the Retail shop at the Great Western Society at Didcot – you can email the shop manager if you click on “Sales” and request a copy (e-commerce has not really hit Didcot yet). Alec says that although this is a commercial application in one sense, all the money raised apart from materials costs goes to support the Great Western Society in its work in preserving our steam locomotive heritage. Didcot Railway Centre is an accredited museum and the GWS is a charity.

This project has a wonderful air of English eccentricity about it: it’s not one of your polished, super-commercial pieces of software, and it won’t be for everybody. But I know that for some people, the GWR Locomotive Sketchpad is the sort of sandbox you’ll happily play in for hours at a time. Let us know what you think if you order a copy.