Sunday, August 11, 2013

Newspaper Companies can Learn from The Guardian Digital Archive

Lina Prokofiev in 1921

Newspapers often do not have a long shelf life at your local library and often disintegrate over a long period of time. The Guardian and Observer newspapers have been documenting worldwide news since 1791. So lets say you want to pick up old issue and read about life on the battlefields of the Napoleonic Wars or the first Wimbledon, suffice to say you would be very hard pressed to find it. The Guardian relaunched their digital archive in late 2012, which provides 1.2 million replica pages, 13 million articles and 7,000 photographs. Most newspaper companies do not have such a storied history of content, but selling archived back-issues is good business.

There are no real statistics in the newspaper industry on who provides digital archives and who does not. The largest papers all do it, and most offer different payment models to monetize the process and actually make some solid long-term revenue. Digital is growing and a recent report by the Alliance of Audited Media states that 20% of all online newspapers in the US are digital. Obviously, the entire print sector is not doing too well and there is some debate on how to make money in digital. Some consider paywalls, which allow people to read a few articles for free a month, and then force them to subscribe, and others maintain a fleet of apps. The Guardian presents an interesting case study on how to do something unique.

The Guardian distributes their digital archives from the ProQuest Historical Newspaper program. This is the same company that major papers, such as the New York Times, The Globe and Mail, The Times of India and the Jerusalem Post use. Companies can upload replica editions in PDF form to their accounts and develop their own subscription or charging method. The Guardian has developed some tiered access levels, such as a 24 hour pass for £7.95 or a 1 month subscription for £49.95. You can browse for content using their very advanced search engine, which allows you to easily find pictures, articles or any individual section. Once you find something, you can read a free sample, to get a sense on how it looks.

The New York Times on the other hand, does something completely different, using the same ProQuest platform. They do not have advertisements, pictures, charts or any illustrations. You actually to pay a different department to manually scan and email them out. Articles from 1923 to 1986 are available for purchase at $3.95 each. Articles published before January 1, 1923 or after December 31, 1986 are free, but they count toward your monthly paywall viewing limit. If you are a current Times subscriber, they allow allow you 100 issues a month.

Aside from ProQuest, there are a number of archival websites available online. The biggest digital newspaper site on the Internet is the for-profit, with 130 million pages., a subsidiary of genealogy-titan, has 34 million newspaper pages. There is also a stalwart hero, based in New York, that has created a website with 5 million, his story is great!

There are currently 419 national newspapers currently being published, worldwide. There are also around 22,000 local and specialty editions being made on a daily or weekly basis. There does not seem to be a cohesive model for digital archives, some people just distribute it through their own websites or use 3rd party services. Most newspaper publishers we spoke with, were actually surprised we brought up their archival strategies, its something that internally is rarely discussed. In a world of sagging print revenues, investing in a solid archive solution is something all papers should consider. The investment costs of scanners is fairly paltry and only a few computers are needed and outsourcing the sales gives newspaper companies a fairly low overhead.

Newspaper Companies can Learn from The Guardian Digital Archive is a post from: E-Reader News

Macmillan Offers More eBooks to Libraries under their Entangled Publishing Imprint


Macmillan warmed up to the idea about having their digital books available for loan in public libraries back in March. They currently have over 1200 books up for grabs via their Minotaur imprint. The publishing company is obviously pleased with the pilot project and has just committed hundreds of new titles from another one of their imprints, Entangled Publishing.

Overdrive, Axis 360 and 3M all do business with Macmillan and will be offering a number of great titles very soon. You will be able to get access to a number of New York Times bestselling novels, including -  Wrong Bed, Right Guy by Katee Robert, Seducing Cinderella by Gina L. Maxwell, and The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst, as well all backlist titles since the publisher's inception in July of 2011.

"Entangled has always been a huge supporter of libraries, and we are excited to be bringing our titles to this important community resource through Macmillan," says Entangled publisher, Liz Pelletier. "This new program will allow our books to get into hands of millions through the venerable library system and that's what every publisher and author wants–to have their books discovered and loved by readers."

Macmillan Offers More eBooks to Libraries under their Entangled Publishing Imprint is a post from: E-Reader News

Monday is Minecraft day. Is everybody happy? You bet your life we are!

Raspberry Pi Mineday is upon us and there’s just time before Liz comes back and kicks me off for messing about to get in a few posts about one of my pet subjects — learning through play. In this case, learning through playing Minecraft. Hurrah!  I can sometimes be found playing the Xbox version in a darkened room, rocking gently and mumbling, “Why dig when you can code? Why … dig … when … you …. can … CODE?” Indeed. The Pi version is where it’s all happening.

Hands up who, the moment they saw this, thought, “Rude words! Let’s write rude words!” Shame on you.

I wasn’t going to post anything from Martin O’Hanlon, he has done far too much fantastic stuff in Raspberry Pi Minecraft — hide and seek; 3D-model creator; a working canon etc etc — and if we are not careful with our praises he will withdraw into that land through a kitchen cupboard, Narnia like, and spend the rest of his days riding about on the second hand of a huge clock. But then a Tweet was twote and Martin couldn’t resist:

I was at Young Rewired State‘s (YRS) festival of code this weekend, mentoring a group of young coders from BBC Birmingham, when I saw a tweet from Raspberry Pi about it being Minecraft day on Monday, so I thought, I’m surrounded by coders, we have a weekend ahead of us, we must be able to create something…

Martin’s Python script turns Tweets into chunky airwords in the Minecraft world. It’s a lovely example of interfacing the Web with the Raspberry Pi and a great example to start the day. And if you’ve never seen Martin’s Raspberry Pi Minecraft stuff before, or you have installed Minecraft on your Pi and are not sure where to start, you simply must visit his site Stuff about code, where he has oodles of Pi-related projects and tutorials as well as the Minecraft goodies. It’s one of our favourite Raspberry Pi sites. Thanks Martin!

More Raspberry Pi Minecraft will be coming up at random intervals. In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, install it on your Pi! And if you have done anything inspiring, amazing or outrageous on Pi Minecraft please let us know (today only!) on

eBook Review: Feral Youth by Polly Courtney


Verdict: 5 Stars

Polly Courtney first made news on this site earlier this year for abandoning traditional publishing after her self-published titles gained some well-deserved attention from the industry; at the time, Courtney had some strong words for her feelings about the experience, including her embarrassment over her book titles and the way traditional publishing lumped her into genre categories. Her return to self-publishing was like a weight lifted as she once again had creative control over her process.

Undoubtedly, a title like Feral Youth would epitomize the experience for Courtney. Its deft handling of crucial issues facing young people today and its exploration of the racial tensions and poverty-line discrimination that is still prevalent in even the most affluent, forward-thinking societies paints a very genuine picture of life for teenagers, but it might not be a publishing industry marketing team’s dream book.

With any book submission for traditional publishing, the same question has to be asked: who would want to read this book? If that audience is too small to risk the investment, the book is rejected. But in the case of Courtney’s work, the question has a very profound answer: ANYONE with a brain, and even the slightest measure of concern for society, especially its young people.

In Feral Youth, fifteen-year-old Alesha faces struggles the likes of which most readers have never and will never face. Living with her boyfriend at that young age because her own mother is lost to a world of crack addiction, Alesha is a pinball for every enemy in society, bouncing her around from gang to school to narrow minded and judgmental people. The single most striking thing about Alesha is the way she feels so in charge of her life while still being the person with the least amount of control over her fate. Used and abused, she is despised for even existing, a status she never asked for or wanted.

When one person shows an interest in trying to help her, even the help that is offered in the form of a minimum wage job is inadequate and pointless, as Alesha points out her ability to make far more money selling drugs. She falls victim to what clueless do-gooders hold out in the form of salvation, despite their not knowing anything about her condition.

The only downside to Feral Youth, if it could even be called one, is that it is written in the vernacular of the South End of London. The slang and the sentence structure might be difficult for some readers, but if they work through it they will come away with a profound understanding of life for these children.

Feral Youth is available from Amazon.

eBook Review: Feral Youth by Polly Courtney is a post from: E-Reader News

What Does Amazon Owe the World?


Amazon, the world’s largest online retail bookseller, has long enjoyed the status as the company that everyone loves to hate. Its nickname among some in the publishing industry as the “Evil Empire” might even seem well-earned considering its exponential growth over a short period of time and its ability to dominate in a wide variety of publishing and consumer service industries. Of course, the news almost every month that the corporate giant is expanding into a whole new field–expansion into online art galleries and print newspapers during these few summer months alone–must have industry watchers more than a little frightened. Everything Amazon touches seems to turn to gold, at least on the surface.

But there is one nagging question. If everyone hates Amazon so much, how did they get so big?

If there is a general sneer for the retailer and its business practices, are the consumers hypocrites? Are people actually blasting the online retail king in strongly worded and venomous blog posts, articles, and–like the recent threatening rant from the CEO of the American Booksellers Association–open letters, then staying up late at night to place their orders under the cloak of darkness in order to get free shipping on orders over $25?

Certainly, the concern that Amazon was going to be the death of brick-and-mortar bookstores was valid. Who was going to patronize the indie bookstore when Amazon could offer practically every book ever printed, and do it with overnight shipping? But while it’s very noble to envision customers making a conscious choice to support their local indie bookstore over a corporate overlord–one that has a program in place to hire work-at-home disabled American soldiers and their spouses, incidentally–not all of us have that option. I, for one, live in an area whose nearest bookstore is in the next town, a bookstore that is…yes…another major chain retailer, one who refuses to stock self-published titles.

Of course, that self-publishing access is truly what’s behind so much of the anger lobbed at Amazon. By stripping a centuries old publishing industry of its ability to control everything from the price of books to what titles make their way in front of readers, Amazon made some powerful enemies, even to the point that federal laws were broken to try to bring down the Evil Empire. Amazon was even criticized for its traditional publishing arm, notably for changing the model under which it paid its authors, abandoning the time-honored and tired quarterly payment system in favor of paying its authors their royalties once a month, just like it pays its self-published authors.

Where critics may actually have some merit is in Amazon’s tax woes. For its part, Amazon has faced issues with sales tax collection to the point that many states began calling their litigation attempts the Amazon Tax. Why not the Tax? Why not the Tiger Direct Tax? And while it admittedly might be lip service on the part of their public relations teams, Amazon has stated repeatedly that it will comply with sales tax regulations when Congress passes a nation-wide tax bill for online retailers. Like it or not, Amazon has operated within the tax law as it currently stands, and yes, the retailer cancelled affiliate status in states that used those affiliates to claim a physical presence in the state. Amazon has said it and it bears repeating: it cannot be expected to adopt fifty different sales tax codes, and it will comply when the government creates a uniform regulation for the entire country.

Of course, that doesn’t answer why Amazon has somehow skirted the tax law in Europe, a fact that indie retailers are seething about. While those allegations may also have merit, the governments have apparently agreed to look the other way. Just like they did for Google, Apple, and other foreign entities.

So is Amazon really the bad guy for not being better than other corporations? If they are operating the same way as the other major retailers that American consumers enjoying patronizing, why are they so bad? Are they somehow obligated to be more noble than their industry counterparts?

It would be interesting to know if any of the many vocal critics of the online retailer have Amazon accounts and therefore contributed to birth of an empire.

What Does Amazon Owe the World? is a post from: E-Reader News

Kenton County Public Library Wins Overdrives Digital Champion Contest


Overdrive has been running a contest where it invited all libraries who have done business with them to submit their promotional campaigns to build awareness of eBooks. Informing the community and getting the word out there is often a difficult task with little to no marketing budget. There were six different categories, ranging from online and offline campaigns. The grand prize winner was Kenton County, who invented their own mascot to sing the praises of eBooks!

Kenton County Public Library, introduced a new mascot that represented their digital resources.  They adopted the cute creature all over the library and distributed pamphlets to the community. The library pursued an aggressive social media campaign with a heavy involvement in Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.

Most of the libraries that won awards did some fairly interesting things to get noticed and at the same time promote their digital collections. Rapid City Public Library would deliver e-Readers to elderly folk that were unable to come into the library to borrow a book. High Point Public Library
assembled gift baskets for new e-Reader and Tablet owners, with some neat treats and instructions on how to access Overdrive eBooks with their particular purchase. This was obviously fairly popular during the Christmas season, graduation and Mothers Day.

I think its very interesting to see the various ways libraries are engaging the community and at the same time, building awareness of reading in general. Young and old benefit from digital audiobooks, videos and eBooks. Kids are always on the go and connected with their mobile devices all the time. While elderly folk can’t get around like they used to, and can borrow and read books while at home. Libraries could really benefit from looking at the entire list of contest winners HERE, it might give you some ideas on some very low cost ways you can promote your branch.

Kenton County Public Library Wins Overdrives Digital Champion Contest is a post from: E-Reader News