Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Contest: Win a Cybook Odyssey HD with Front-Light


Welcome to another exclusive Good e-Reader Contest! Today, we have a brand new Cybook Odyssey HD with Front-Light and an official red case to protect your e-Reader while you are out of the home!

The Cybook Odyssey HD features a six inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024×758 pixels. It uses the same type of XGA technology found on the Kobo Glo and Kindle Paperwhite. Underneath the hood is an 800 MHZ Texas Instruments Cortex A8 processor and 128 MB of RAM. The hardware is perfectly adequate for an e-reader and navigating the menu and opening books occurs very quickly.

You will have 2 GB of internal storage for all of your ebooks, and you can enhance it further via the Micro SD for up to 32 GB of additional memory. Battery life is also very solid with the 1600 mAh, which will normally provide up to a month of battery life. If you tend not to use the front light very much, you should be able to have it last a little bit longer. One of the ways this device conserves battery life is the automatic disabling of wireless internet access when you leave your reader idle. You can charge it via the accompanied Micro USB cable by plugging it into your computer.

Contest Details

This contest is available to anyone, in any country in the world. We will ship via standard ground shipping, so if you live overseas, be prepared to wait! What do you have to do to enter? Simply comment on this post about your favorite Movie based on a book. You can enter only once, and must have a DISQUS profile, so we can contact you if you win. As soon as we hit 200 comments we will award the e-Reader to one lucky winner! Good luck to everyone!

Contest: Win a Cybook Odyssey HD with Front-Light is a post from: E-Reader News

Digital AudioBooks begin to Gain Momentum


The audiobook industry is starting to undergo dramatic shifts in their content delivery methods and major publishing companies are now investing millions of dollars into expensive productions. The entire audiobook industry is currently worth around 1.6 billion dollars and that figure should climb further. The main reason? Audio book producers have been increasing their output. 13,255 titles came out in 2012, up from 4,602 in 2009.

The main reason audiobooks are starting to appeal to more readers is because of the sheer amount of mobile devices and tablets available. It was not too long ago that you had to purchase an audio edition on CD and Cassette. You would often have to pay $60 to $100 for a fairly good audio edition and now the prices have plummeted to under $40. Currently, digital audiobooks now account for over 60% of all purchases made. “Everybody has an audio book player in their pocket at this point,” says Anthony Goff, vice president of Hachette Audio, where sales have jumped by 31% this spring over last. “It makes that much easier for the masses to try it.”

“It’s one of the few times in history that technology has reinvigorated an art form rather than crushing it,” said Max Brooks, author of the zombie novel “World War Z,” which was released in May ahead of the Brad Pitt movie in an elaborate new audio edition with 40 cast members, including Alan Alda, John Turturro, and Martin Scorsese. It sold 60,000 CDs and digital-audio copies. “Now, because there is such demand and the production value is so inexpensive, it opens the door for more creative storytelling.” he said.

The most dominant content distribution platform for audiobooks currently is Amazon owned Audible. This company has the highest market penetration and has seen a 33% increase in sales in 2012. They have created over 26,000 audiobooks and adding close to 1,000 titles a month. Most of their success derives from their new technologies that allow readers a myriad of options. If you purchase both the audiobook and eBook you can have the book professionally narrated to you, as you are reading. Else, you can read a few chapters on your Kindle and pick up exactly where you left off on the audio edition. This type of synergy is fairly compelling for people who read at night and do things during the day. Matthew Thornton of Audible commented – “We’re seeing heavy growth among younger listeners, people in and getting out of college who are part of the emerging app culture.”

The creation of audiobooks are not only reserved for major publishing companies, but many others provide some low-cost options to get going. Audible offers the most expansive creation suite of tools for authors to get massive distribution and gain solid royalties. Indie companies are also making it easy for authors to create their own audiobooks. The most notable are and who drive down the cost of audiobook production.

Audiobooks are normally synonymous with being a mirrored replica of the print edition. This is starting to shift, as publishers are starting to experiment with audio exclusive content. The Wall Street Journal recently talked a company called AudioGo, whom has produced about 25 works exclusively for audio, including “Baseball Forever,” a remix of radio broadcasts of some of the top moments in the history of baseball. One of their most successful is a property entitled “Dreadtime Stories,” a collection of original horror stories, and a series of apocalyptic zombie stories. They have also resurrected old fashioned radio plays and hired actor Val Kilmer to play Zorro in an audio dramatization titled “The Mark of Zorro.”

Audiobook consumption is certainly increasing and many pundits are debating on how this may adversely effect the way we consume literature. Print purists doubt that listening to a book while multitasking delivers the same experience as sitting down and silently reading. Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that for competent readers, there is virtually no difference between listening to a story and reading it.

There are a few unknown factors when it comes to multitasking, while listening to an audiobook. People who commute to work make up nearly 1/2 of all audiobook listeners and studies are still ongoing on how much is retained with not having 100% focus. Daniel Willingham, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia who has studied reading and listening comprehension, said that multitasking compromises a listener’s attention, unless the task is truly automatic. Jogging on a treadmill would probably be fine, but running on a trail might be too distracting to fully absorb the text, he said.

In the end, the audiobook industry is enjoying a boom period and is consistently increasing their market share. Customers have gravitated to digital downloads, instead of tangible goods. More companies are offering professional services to assist indie authors with getting an audio edition of their book out there and Audible continues to dominate the sales channels. Stay tunes for our next feature, as we look into the best companies out there to help indie authors get an audiobook made for them.

Digital AudioBooks begin to Gain Momentum is a post from: E-Reader News

Rockstand Announces New Alliances With Publishers


Rockstand that counts itself among the leading ebook reading app in India has now forged alliances with several key publishers which includes Delhi Press, Next-Gen Publishing, Hay Market, BPB Publications & Magna Publishing. This will ensure Rockstand has on offer a more varied books and magazines to offer covering topics as varied as computer, lifestyle magazines to children's magazines, along with content in regional languages and so much more.

For instance, BPB Publishers is known for their vast variety of books on computers and has been making them available at affordable rates. Similarly, Nextgen Publishing issues several popular magazines such as Smart Photography, Car India, Bike India, Computer Active etc. Rockstand will also benefit from its new found alliance with Hay Market that makes available magazines like Stuff, Autocar, What Hi-fi? Sound and Vision, What Car? and such. Users of the Rockstand app can also look forward to picking up several entertainment magazines such as Star Dust, Society, Society Interior, Savy, Starweek thanks to their tie up with Magna Publishing. Rockstand will also have under its ambit several regional titles likes Champak, Grihshobha, Sarita, BS Motoring, The Caravan, Farm n Food and many more.

Speaking of the latest development, Mr. Rishi Mohan Jha, Head, RockASAP Retail Pvt Limited said: "We feel extremely proud in associating with these renowned publication houses. With this collaboration readers will get seamless reading experience of the popular titles for which they cannot wait to read. Now they will get a first-hand experience of the digital version of the popular titles, no matter where they are located or placed. The convenience to purchase and comfortable reading is what Rockstand known for and with this association we continue to set a benchmark for ourselves in the market."

Rockstand has been striving to make available the widest possible ebook and emag offering to its subscribers and look forward to more such tie-ups in future.

Rockstand Announces New Alliances With Publishers is a post from: E-Reader News

Boundless Continues to Make College Education Affordable For Students


For the educational start up Boundless, the mission objective is simple, to provide college students with textbooks for free. No wonder it has already garnered the support of over a million loyal followers which can be explained by the ever increasing costs of college textbooks, something that is estimated to cost the student about $655 every year on average. While the figure represents a decline from the $702 that it would have taken about 4 years back, the present figure is still high enough for the students to explore alternative sources.

"Students deserve better than the status quo of ineffective, overpriced textbooks," founder Ariel Diaz said. "They've grown up with amazing technology but are burdened with poorly-designed products or ancient technology when they get their education."

With student debt already on the wrong side of a trillion dollars, Boundless does enjoy a lot of relevance in the US. What Boundless is aiming to provide the student community with is text books and study materials which might not exactly be considered to be akin to the traditional methods of teaching that is centered around textbooks but is even better and more involving.

"It's not your assigned textbook, it's better" is how the company prefers to be tagged with.

However, all of the efforts have not been without the occasional brush with the law as book publishers have not been too kind of Diaz's efforts to provide students with text books for free. Three of the big name publishers, Pearson Education Cengage Learning and Bedford Freeman & Worth Publishing Group had even sued Boundless on issues of copyright infringement. Diaz though is claiming none of that can dampen their spirits and they are looking for ways to further expand and grow.

What comes as a source of strength for Boundless is that they serve more than a million students every month. It provides free resources for 21 college level courses while its premium services which costs $19.99 provides interactive study materials and other stuff to help students grasp the subject easily.

Boundless Continues to Make College Education Affordable For Students is a post from: E-Reader News

Vanity Fair’s iOS Version Sorted by Reading Times


In a nod to the understanding that consumers who read on mobile devices are probably on a time budget, the newly launched full-length issues of Vanity Fair have a new offer: reading times. Originally initiated by Liberty magazine in the 1920s, the reading time feature sorts articles for the reader by how long the article should take, which is perfect for the morning commute or for catching up on an article while waiting at a meeting or appointment.

The new feature is only one part of what’s in store for Vanity Fair readers who utilize the new iPhone version of the magazine, created with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite. In addition to the reading times listed in the table of contents–categorized as Short, Medium, Long, and Everything Else–the new version is optimized from the publisher’s print schematics specifically for the iPhone screen.

As this is the second title from Conde Nast to be optimized for iPhone (The New Yorker launched first), additional new features were incorporated by the publisher’s design team. Those features include “videos, photo slide shows, interactive infographics, and archival articles; sharing capability via Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail; links to Web content on; and navigation tools, including the ‘scrubber.’”

Individual issues can be purchased through the free app for $4.99, and a one-year subscription is $19.99. Current subscribers to the magazine through either print or iPad will receive the iPhone version at no extra charge.

Vanity Fair’s iOS Version Sorted by Reading Times is a post from: E-Reader News

OverDrive Media Console 3.0 announced at Digipalooza

Our previous post touched on some of the highlights of Digipalooza '13  including presentations given on topics including Big Data trends, the latest partnerships OverDrive has formed, what's coming next from major publishers and a memorable keynote speech by Mitch Albom. An important message came on Friday morning when it was announced that OverDrive Media Console v3.0 will be released on August 20th.


What's New


OMC v3.0 has been completely redesigned with a focus on the user experience. The Next Generation of OMC will feature:


  • A redesigned user interface with an all-new look, streamlined navigation and a one-stop reorganized menu. App functions are just a swipe and tap away.
  • Users will be able to sync bookmarks and reading progress across multiple devices using a free, opt-in registration service called OverDrive One.
  • Variable speed playback for iOS. Audiobook users' most requested feature.
  • First run tutorial screens. The app now prompts first time users to add libraries and get books.
  • System Requirements: OMC v3.0 for Android users requires Android OS v4.0 (or newer). OMC for Android v2.6.5 will remain available for download. OMC for iOS requires iOS 6 (or newer).

To help prepare your staff and users we will be providing helpful information about the new features here on the blog and through the help articles and videos which will be updated when the new version becomes available.


To inform your patrons about the new features, experience and updates we have created an email template and social media posts for you to share with your users. You can find those on the partner's portal here:


OverDrive Media Console v3.0 will offer an entirely redesigned user experience focusing around taps and swipes. You'll never be more than one movement away from reading your titles, managing your accounts or accessing your library's digital collection. You can preview OMC v3.0 here now!


Adam Sockel is a Marketing Communications Specialist with OverDrive


Guest Blog #4: Excitement in Computer Programming

Our very own Matthew Bennett talks about the last two years with Raspberry Pi and his recent educational workshop on “Excitement in Computer Programming”.

Matthew (if you are forum denizen then you will know him better as ubermoderator ‘abishur’) has been involved in the Raspberry Pi community right from the beginning. He is a tireless moderator: prolifically helpful and unfailingly polite . We’re delighted that Matthew has stuck around and we’re proud to have him on the team.

The Raspberry Pi ethos shines in Matthew’s article: just roll up your sleeves and get involved. All of us can make a difference if we decide to.

N.B. Matthew tells me that there would have been more pictures but there was some excuse involving a baby…

A lot has changed around here since there were just a handful of us posting comments on a rather small blog and clamoring for a forum so we could properly talk to one another.  Back then, we thought that the 10 thousand boards they were making would take year(s?) to sell.  We definitely thought that everyone on the blog and soon thereafter on the very modest WordPress forum would definitely get one of the Pi's from the first batch.  Needless to say the response to the Raspberry Pi has been tremendous, far outpacing even our largest expectations.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of the demand has been the educational side of things hasn't gotten as much of a spot light as all the incredible things you, the community, have done with the Pi; we asked what you would do with your slice of the Pi and man have y'all ever responded!  We are continuing to work hard on the educational aspects of the Pi and like updating you when fun educational things happen.

One such event happened in the middle of July.  Since the beginning of May I had been communicating with the Texas Industrial Vocational Association (TIVA).  They had me come out to their state-wide continuing education conference, which thankfully was in my neck of the woods, and talk on “Excitement in Computer Programming”.

Sorry about the picture's quality, I shot it as I was on my way back home with a dying cell phone.

During the first half of the session, I worked with the teachers over why we even wanted programming taught in schools, why using iPads or other tablet devices didn't work, and defined what we even mean when we talk about computer use vs computing vs programming.  The goal was to make sure that every educator attending could have a clear and concise case to bring to a principal or board of educators when it came.

The second half of the session was devoted to actual use of the Pi, we "installed" the OS, went through first boot, and then did the hello world of GPIOs: we lit up an LED!

Here is the outline and PowerPoint presentation I made.  I should warn everyone, however, that my outlines are tricky things.  They look like they're written word for word what I plan to say, but they're not, it's still just an outline, it gives them a rough feel, but it's there if you'd like a good base.  As way of example, here's some things we talked about outside the outline:

  • The lack of a VGA port (no one felt it was a big deal)
  • Where the name Raspberry Pi came from.
  • Good programming languages to get kids hooked (I talked pro/cons of C/C++, Scratch, Java, and python)
  • GPIO expansion through SPI or I2C
  • Using it as a security system
  • Encouraging communities and especially the teachers themselves to offer contests for their students with fun prizes (Pi Merchandise, breadboard, etc)
  • iPads being used in some Texas school districts as teaching tools
  • Security (malware/network) concerns with Linux on educational networks

The parts I've bolded were reminders to advance the slide.  Also, I had planned to write the presentation and make the outline during my two week vacation after my son was born.  So if you pay attention there's a spot where the amount of slides I was making suddenly decreases as I ran out of time (who knew babies were so needy?).

All in all, it was a lot of fun and we're wanting to do this again at their midyear conference and again at their next summer conference along with some advanced classes.  One teacher is hoping we can set up a talk with his students during the school year.  Everyone who attended was pretty excited about getting Pis in their curriculums.

It’s not a real breadboard if it has never seen a fire.

Here’s a picture of my teaching setup. I use a Raspberry Pi Model A with Wi-Fi setup to connect to my phone as a mobile hot spot. My laptop also connects to the phone and then I can use my laptop to remote into the pi. If a projector is handy I just connect straight to the projector and use a combo keyboard/mouse instead of the wireless dongle.

I use the 8 solid state relays to demonstrate how the Pi can interface with high voltage applications, and the breadboard to demonstrate lighting up a simple multi-color LED using software emulated PWM to control how bright each LED is.

Oh, and there is a transistor array on that breadboard to demonstrate how easy it easy to add a layer of protections into the mix when interfacing with the 3v3 GPIO pins.


British Library Partners With Qatar National Library For Digitization of Middle Eastern Historical Records


The British Library has entered into a decade long partnership with the Qatar National Library aimed at digitizing archival and manuscript material that number more than half a million. Such an effort when completed will yield a rich source of information of the history and culture of the regions that  date back to centuries. Once completed, the digitized material can be availed of from the Qatar National Library though the initial fruits of the efforts will be there to be savored from 2014 itself.

The ultimate aim at such an endeavor is to bring to a world audience the history of the middle east region that has been the hot bed of Islamic activities for centuries. The digital resource will also serve as a boon for those researching Arabic history and culture what with over half a million pages consisting of photographs, maps, sound clippings as well as other data such as politics, customs and rituals, trade, places and so on pertaining to the period from mid-18th to the mid-20th century expected to undergo the digitization process.

Of the half a million pages, the majority or 475,000 pages will comes from the archives of the East India Company and India Office while the remaining 25,000 pages deal with Arabic manuscripts from the medieval era. The site though will also include the provision for others to add to the resource by adding their information which can be old photographs or even stories that they have heard from their forefathers. As such, the site is likely to function as a comprehensive source of information related to the region.

The digitization effort which began in 2014 is expected to be completed towards end 2014 and will incur a cost of £8.7 million.

British Library Partners With Qatar National Library For Digitization of Middle Eastern Historical Records is a post from: E-Reader News