This should not come as a surprise. It is no secret that the Surface RT has not been selling too well, and the best option for Microsoft is to slash prices. This has been done by the sizeable margin of 30 percent. The basic 32 GB version of the Surface RT can now be picked up for a cool $349, down from the original $499. The same for the bigger 64 GB version now stands at $499, which originally was a quite hefty $649. Maybe these are the prices that the tablet should have launched with, though going by the demand the Surface tablet range is now experiencing, Microsoft could be even more ruthless in slashing prices.
Microsoft had first embarked on an aggressive advertising campaign with the Surface RT, to no avail. The next target for Microsoft is to get rid of the unsold Surface tablet devices it has in its inventory, of which there seems to be plenty. Whether there will be another round of price cuts accorded to the tablet remains to be seen.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
There are a wide variety of reasons that e-reading has enjoyed its recent growth. Reading consumers have cited factors such as convenience of instant downloads, the portability of bringing hundreds of books along at all times, and even the accessibility issues like the ability to manipulate the font and size of text. But a new report from EDUCAUSE shows that the single biggest factor for academic institutions who make the switch to e-textbooks comes down to price.
The EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) released the findings of its recent pilot program, formed in partnership with Internet 2, publisher McGraw-Hill Education, and digital textbook developer Courseload, in which more than twenty colleges and universities took part. As part of the pilot, more than 5,000 students and faculty incorporated the e-textbooks into their programs.
“This study demonstrates that institutions and the marketplace must first remove barriers that exist even in today's paper textbook market, most notably cost," said Susan Grajek, EDUCAUSE vice president for data, research, and analytics and report author, in a press release today. "Challenges innate to electronic content must also be addressed, including availability of materials where and when students need them, compatibility with the devices students own and prefer to use, and the kind of functionality that comes from good interface design. The solutions will come from many sources, but through this study students and faculty have clarified their needs."
A variety of factors influenced the participants’ perceptions of the program, with the most important being the lower cost of course materials, which proved to be important to both the students and the faculty. Also, the variety of choices that digital offered, such as the ability to select print or digital and the option to take study materials virtually anywhere, were important to the participants.
Representatives from the universities, EDUCAUSE, and Internet2 will discuss the Fall 2012 pilot and key findings at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference on October 17.
MangaMagazine has just launched its new iPad app, giving comic fans access to the site's diverse range of titles anywhere, anytime. The app packages all MangaMagazine original content for easy, swipeable, page-turning functionality in a user-friendly layout. Founded in early 2012, MangaMagazine.net has amassed more than 55,000 registered users who are made up of both comic fans and artists. The site is different from most other manga services because it gives artists full control over the editorial direction and rights to their work, while also giving them the opportunity to monetize their content through revenue sharing and e-commerce. Fans can directly engage with their favorite artists, which puts a crowdsourcing spin on comic creation.
The manga service offers both free and premium access; those seeking up-to-date access on premium content will be automatically charged $2.99 per month or $11.99 every six months. Free users will have access to any premium content uploaded after a two-month lapse. This really gives people with money a chance to get it right away, or if you are a freeloader you will have to wait! Premium content will be available for free to all users in the two weeks following the launch of the app. Every 5,000 downloads will extend the free access by another two weeks. To download the app, click here.
"As a huge comics fan since childhood, I've always been frustrated by how difficult it was to engage with my favorite authors and discover new and exciting content," said Victor Chu, MangaMagazine.net CEO and co-founder. "Through MangaMagazine.net and our InkBlazers app, we are shaking up the publishing industry and helping fans explore countless new web comics and manga from some of the most talented artists on the Web."
When Frank Bennett, self-published author of Quit School! The Only Lessons You’ll Need to Learn, returned to his childhood home of Bay Shore, Long Island recently for a visit with family, it seemed like the perfect time to arrange for some local book signing and speaking events. There are a small number of bookstores, including a major retail bookseller situated on heavily trafficked mall property. His childhood and the book were set in Bay Shore, and many of the characters in his memoir were well-known local personalities, so there should have been automatic interest.
Unfortunately, his requests for permission to sign books went unanswered by the large retailer, and even the library in his hometown told him they were too busy to let him even sit at a table and sign his own books on a Saturday morning. The town newspaper that he had grown up with refused to review the book, despite the fact that it has a book review section; they have a policy against reviewing self-published books, even ones written by a local person.
This is the scenario that indie authors face every day, but Change.org and ALLi are hoping to do something about it. ALLi, the UK’s Alliance of Independent Authors, started a petition that will hopefully demonstrate to booksellers just how serious self-published authors are about their craft, and ideally will pave the way for more stores to carry self-published works, especially in a time when bookstores are shuttering their doors due to their inability to compete with much larger book shopping opportunities.
"While recognising that there are challenges in incorporating author-publishers, it has become a necessity, if book stores, libraries and literary festivals and events are to be inclusive of writers and properly serve readers," said ALLi founder Orna Ross in a press release.
There was very little explanation in the press release of how this petition is supposed to bring about the welcome of self-published authors into one of the last holdouts in publishing, but at the very least the campaign stands to raise some much-needed awareness and lend credibility to the cause of authors worldwide.
We are excited to announce the 12 semi-finalists of this year's Digital Library Champions contest! Dozens of entries were submitted from library and school partners all over the world, including the U.S., Canada, Australia and South Africa. The final winners will be selected by members of the editorial staff at Library Journal, who have graciously partnered with us to help pick the best of the best for this year's contest. Thank you Library Journal for your involvement!
Winners will be revealed during this year's Digipalooza, our international user conference August 1st – 4th. We will notify via email and recognize the winners here on the Digital Library Blog on Monday August 5th.
Inside the Library
Outside the Library
Excellent eBook Educator (K-12 Schools/Colleges)
OverDrive Allstar Award (Grand Prize)
We appreciate the time and effort we saw exhibited in all of the entries, highlighting a diverse range of marketing and outreach campaigns. Check out the Facebook photo album to take a look at the array of entries we received this year!
Thanks to everyone who entered. We look forward to sharing some of your ideas in the future and hope to see even more great entries in 2014!
Melissa Marin is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive.
As publishing adapts to changes in the technology of books, one area that still remains to adapt is the all-important cover art. Two unrelated articles today highlighted the serious considerations that authors and publishers need to make when designing the face that will ultimately help or hinder consumer purchases.
The first post, a piece for The New Yorker by Tim Kreider, looked at the evolution of book covers from their days as jewel-toned illustrations to the current minimalist approach of formulaic designs. Kreider’s piece took a stab at what seems like a requirement in book cover design on a genre-by-genre basis.
“The main principles of design—-in books, appliances, cars, clothing, everything-—are: 1. Your product must be bold and eye-catching and conspicuously different from everyone else's, but 2. Not too much!” Kreider wrote of the often frustrating experience of traditional publishing’s cover concepts.
Apart from Kreider’s explanation, Alex Ingram wrote a more technologically-minded look at book covers for The Bookseller. In his explanation, the entire purpose of a book cover has changed, in accordance with the rise of digital publishing. Now, as consumers no longer have to rely on pacing the aisles of a physical bookstore and having a cover catch their eyes from a few shelves over, the artistic considerations of thumbnail-sized covers have to evolve as well.
“Looking at the cover of an e-book, it is usually just that of the paperback or hardback, though audiobooks have long had covers tweaked to their packaging,” wrote Ingram. “Good cover design both front and back is surely about fitting a strong set of information into a template both to encourage purchase and to encourage people to read a book. Yet publishers are making little or no adjustment to the cover and copy they are feeding into the digital retailers.”
Interestingly, as more authors begin to exert their control over their work by turning to self-publishing, cover design remains one of the areas where traditionally published authors often have little to no input. Author Polly Courtney actually cited her book covers as one of the reasons she returned to self-publishing, admitting that her traditional book covers that had been created by the publisher’s marketing team were “embarrassing.”
“I had what we'll call a constructive dialogue with my publisher's editorial, design, and marketing teams, finding a balance between my personal vision and something people might possibly want to buy,” Kreider wrote. “For months we went back and forth: I'd send them several illustration options and they'd pick whichever one I liked least; they'd send me some design options, I'd pick the one that made me least unhappy, and they'd veto it. Book covers are an important sales tool, and the marketing department felt, quite reasonably, that the cover was very much their business. I also had a paranoid sense of shadowy, Olympian forces weighing in from farther above; I've been told that the most powerful figures in the current literary world, the buyers for the major national bookstore chains, have been known to offer to increase their orders for a book if its cover is changed.”
At this year’s Chelsea Flower Show, Lincoln University’s digital garden, which changed the way it looked depending on what people tweeted, sent messages back to people interacting with it and did all kinds of interesting things with twenty servo motors and a lot of hinges, won a gold medal.
See if you can guess what was powering it.
We were sent some BBC news coverage, which, sadly, doesn’t actually mention the Pi behind the scenes (although it is beyond delightful for us to see Ringo Starr looking interestedly at it) – but you can read more about the Pi’s involvement, and the philosophy behind the garden, over at the Times Educational Supplement. It’s a nice reminder, though, that a single Raspberry Pi can be used to drive enormous projects like this garden as well as little things like the pile of toy cars and robots that are currently piled up on the desk I’m sitting at now.
Well done, Lincoln techno-botanists. We loved the project, and we wish we’d been able to see it in person!