Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Battle of e-Reading Tablets – Kobo Arc vs Google Nexus 7 2013


The Kobo Arc is a tablet designed for reading and this is very evident during the first few days of use. The company has integrated aspects of their Reading Life program, which monitors your book habits and aids you in eBook discovery with a series of recommended reads. Kobo also developed “tapestries,” which is a cool way to browse directories and keep your commonly accessed programs at the forefront, via their new widgets. The Nexus 7 second generation is about as Vanilla as you can get, it is a pure Android experience. How do these tablets stack up against each other in the core process of e-Reading? We dive into it, and pit these two head to head.

The Kobo Arc features a seven inch HD display with a resolution of 1280×800 pixels and 215 PPI. The screen features IPS screen technology, which is an industry-leading display optimized for 178 degree viewing angles and ultra-durable glass, resistant to damage, scratches, bumps, and drops. This is the same type of screen technology that airline pilots have in their flight instruments. If you figure most airlines are flying above the cloud line and susceptible to lots of sunlight, this tablet excels under direct light where others fail.

Underneath the hood is a Texas Instruments OMAP 4470 1.5 GHZ dual core processor and 1 GB of RAM. There are three different storage options depending on the type of user you are—16, 32, and 64 GB. This is the first device the company has offered that actually does not have expandable memory. There is no support for MicroSD or SD cards, so you want to make sure you buy the best model to suit your needs.

The Google Nexus 7 second generation features a 7 inch full color touchscreen with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. This blows away most other tablets on the market, including the Kindle Fire HD 7 (1280 x 800 pixels) or the iPad Mini (1024 x 768 pixels.) If you watch HD videos or play really good games, you will notice an increase in screen quality. You get a solid boost in audio performance, with a speaker at the top of the bezel and one on the bottom. It also has 2 GB of RAM, a 1.5 GHZ Quad-Core processor and 2 cameras.

Over the course of this e-reading comparison we check out eBooks, comics, newspapers, magazines and audio/video. We put them both through a battery of real world conditions, to give you a sense on how they both handle the same content, side by side.

The Battle of e-Reading Tablets – Kobo Arc vs Google Nexus 7 2013 is a post from: E-Reader News

Capstone Brings DC Super Heroes and Super-Pets E-Books to School Libraries


Capstone has added an array of colorful characters based on DC superheroes (and their pets) to its digital service for school libraries.

Capstone is a children’s book publisher that has a robust line of graphic novels, both originals and reprints of DC’s all-ages properties. They also have two lines of chapter books based on DC characters, DC Super Heroes and DC Super-Pets, and they announced this week that they are making these books available as interactive e-books as part of the Capstone Interactive Library.

These interactive e-books are designed strictly for school libraries: A one-time fee of $31.99 for the Super-Pets books and $33.99 for Super Heroes grants the school a license to allow every student to read it, in a variety of formats, on computers or mobile devices at school or at home. Unlike many digital library products, Capstone is not pretending that a digital book is the same as a print book—the license allows multiple readers to check out the book at the same time. And the book doesn’t expire, either—the license allows for unlimited checkouts. The books include audio tracks recorded by professional actors in addition to the text and full-color illustrations.

"Our DC Comics brand of full-color chapter books offers readers the perfect introduction to DC Comics characters and are among Capstone's most successful and best-selling series. Librarians can expand their digital collection with the titles kids love without having to worry about hidden fees or circulation limits," said Matt Keller, Capstone's Chief Marketing Officer.

Capstone Brings DC Super Heroes and Super-Pets E-Books to School Libraries is a post from: E-Reader News

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 vs Google Nexus 7 2013 – Tablet Comparison


The Google Nexus 7 tablet got a refresh in hardware, with the second generation model that just came out. Many people these days are not just buying a 7 inch tablet to play games or watch movies, but use it as an e-reader. There are many advantages in going with a full color display, such as to read magazines, comics, replica newspapers or even reading apps, like Pulse. Today, we compare the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 and Google Nexus 7 2 in real world tests.

The Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 features a seven inch IPS display with 1,280 x 800 pixels. It offers an amazing viewing experience and the ability to watch 720p movies right on the unit. Underneath the hood is a 1.2GHz dual-core TI OMAP4460 processor and 1 GB of RAM, which makes accessing media, books, and other content very fast and easy.

One of the best aspects of this model is the fact that it has twin stereo speakers with Dolby Surround Sound technology. It is seriously the loudest tablet I have ever used! The speakers themselves are on the back of the unit, but creep up the left and right sides. Even if the Kindle Fire HD is lying flat on its back, you still get amazing sound. When we conducted tests with the Kobo Arc, Playbook, iPad 3, and Acer Iconia A100, the Fire blew them all away. Sounds are clear and crisp whether you are listening to music, video, or audiobooks. It rivaled cheap external PC speakers in its ability to make the whole room swim in music. If you are a serious audiophile, this tablet is the device to beat for tablet audio functionality.

The Google Nexus 7 second generation features a 7 inch full color touchscreen with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. This blows away most other tablets on the market, including the Kindle Fire HD 7 (1280 x 800 pixels) or the iPad Mini (1024 x 768 pixels.) If you watch HD videos or play really good games, you will notice an increase in screen quality. You get a solid boost in audio performance, with a speaker at the top of the bezel and one on the bottom. If the tablet is laying on a solid surface, you will still get great audio quality.

Google decided against an Nvidia Tegra chip in the 2013 model, and instead did business with Qualcomm and their Snapdragon processor. The decision mainly went to a faster 1.5 quad core, which obviously can handle anything you throw at it. There is also 2 GB of Ram, which is double what the first model had.

Over the course of this video comparison, we go over the overall e-Reading experience. It is important that we compare these two devices and see how they handle comics, newspapers, magazines, and eBooks. Finally, we wrap it up and run some video and audio tests. Sometimes with tablets, its not the specs written down on paper, but how do they really perform in real world conditions. We seek to really go in-depth with this comparison.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 vs Google Nexus 7 2013 – Tablet Comparison is a post from: E-Reader News

Google Nexus 7 2 vs iPad Mini


The Google Nexus 7 2nd generation tablet has just hit the streets and we had to visit 14 different stores because we can buy one. This is obviously an indication that most people are attracted to the quad-core processor and amazing resolution. How exactly does it compare against the iPad Mini, which tends to be one of the most popular tablets overall? In this comparison we check out comics, eBooks, magazines, newspapers, video and audio.

The Google Nexus 7 second generation features a 7 inch full color touchscreen with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels. This blows away most other tablets on the market, including the Kindle Fire HD 7 (1280 x 800 pixels) or the iPad Mini (1024 x 768 pixels.) If you watch HD videos or play really good games, you will notice an increase in screen quality. You get a solid boost in audio performance, with a speaker at the top of the bezel and one on the bottom. If the tablet is laying on a solid surface, you will still get great audio quality.

In our comparison video, we see exactly how the hardware specs handle real world conditions. We put both devices side by side, showing you the exactly same content on each page.

Google Nexus 7 2 vs iPad Mini is a post from: E-Reader News

McDonalds Happy Meals in Portugal give Free eBooks


Happy Meals in North America normally have little toys that tie into whatever new movie or television show is popular at the time. Not so in Portugal, where the fast food chain is feeding young minds with a new series of interactive eBooks.  There are 12 to collect total and the most notable ones right now are The Major Cities of the World and The Wonders of Nature. Each of these interactive eBooks are able to be read on Android and iOS via the Happy Studio app.

McDonalds Happy Meals in Portugal give Free eBooks is a post from: E-Reader News

Gordon Hollingworth talks to the Orlando Sentinel

Dr Gordon Hollingworth, our Head of Software, has been in Orlando visiting Familab, one of our favourite hackspaces. (I love it there – unusually, they’re in a big industrial unit, so they’ve got a lot of space for really big hardware. They’ve got cherry pickers, traffic lights, an industrial CNC milling machine and a lot of Lego.) The Orlando Sentinel went along to have a chat with him: here’s some video they took on the day.

Really sorry about the autoplay; we know you all hate it, but the video player used here doesn’t give us the option to turn it off when the video is embedded.

Gordon sent an email to the office mailing list from his phone while he was there, saying that the pinball machine you see featured in the video was the coolest physical project he’s seen done with a Pi so far. Think you can do better? Let us know!

Viz Brings Manga to the Nook UK Store


Viz Media announced earlier this year that they would make their digital manga magazine Shonen Jump available in five more English-speaking countries: United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Now they have more news: They have launched eight shonen (boys’) manga series in the UK Nook store.

The eight manga include their best-selling title, Naruto, along with One Piece, Bleach, Dragon Ball, Blue Exorcist, Toriko, Rurouni Kenshin: Restoration, and Nisekoi: False Love. And UK readers won’t have to wait for their next fix, as the release includes the entire run of each book up to the present volume. That’s 62 volumes of Naruto and 67 of One Piece.

Here’s what Viz executive vice president and chief technology officer Gagan Singh had to say: “This is the first time these series will be available digitally anywhere outside of North America and we’re extremely excited to work with NOOK on this groundbreaking partnership to bring some of our best-loved Shonen Jump manga titles to avid manga readers across the United Kingdom. Moving forward, all new volumes for these series will also debut digitally in the U.K. NOOK Store on the same day that they come out in print in North America!”

While Japanese licensors have traditionally put strict limits on manga licenses, region-blocking seems to be going the way of the dodo. The second-largest manga publisher, Yen Press, has a US-only iPad app, but its online magazine, Yen Plus, is available worldwide. Kodansha Comics, which is actually the American arm of a Japanese publisher, does publish digitally worldwide (even in Japan, as director of publishing services Dallas Middaugh told us recently). Vertical has a relatively small number of digital manga, all available on Kindle and Nook, and their first round of digital releases are available worldwide, according to marketing director Ed Chavez, although that may not always be the case in the future.

Seven Seas and Udon Entertainment both distribute their manga worldwide via comiXology.

Viz Brings Manga to the Nook UK Store is a post from: E-Reader News

Indie Publishers Leverage Social Media Participation for Book Discovery


One of the greatest changes to the publishing arena that has come about as part of the recent digital revolution is the access that readers have to authors through social media. It’s considered commonplace now for authors to have an online presence that includes fan interaction. Even for self-published authors, the going mentality is that an online presence and a fan base built through social media are crucial steps to take before a single word is published.

But one of the interesting entities to leverage fan interaction and a customer base through social media has become the publishers themselves. Whether an imprint belongs to a member of the Big Five or is a partnership of friends who only publish each others’ ebooks, publishers are discovering that getting fans to interact via Twitter, Facebook, and other channels is important for sales.

Akashic Books, publisher’s of the popular illustrated comic series Simon’s Cat by Simon Tofield, is taking to the social media sphere and calling on readers to photograph themselves with their cats and share them with the publisher. It’s this kind of connection that drives readers to seek out the publisher and author online in order to be a part of a fun virtual event.

Other aspects of the book industry are following similar suit. Books on the Underground and Readioactive Books both encourage readers who find copies of their branded books in public to tweet a photograph of themselves with the book, and digital first publisher Untreed Reads will be offering a special promotional thank you for readers who send their virtual congratulations to its editor-in-chief who will be getting married later this month.

While on the surface these types of interactions may seem gimmicky to critics, but in reality they are another way that reading consumers claim ownership over their favorite books and authors. Now that fans are growing accustomed to some measure of personal contact with the creators of their favorite books, they are becoming more engaged with those books through opportunities such as these.

Indie Publishers Leverage Social Media Participation for Book Discovery is a post from: E-Reader News

School Libraries to Get eBook Boost with Follett, Hachette Deal


As teachers, librarians, and administrators prepare to start a new school year, many school professionals are probably thinking very seriously about budgets, especially where their technology dollars are concerned. One of the many frustrations that schools have felt in regard to technology has been the availability of e-readers and tablet computers, but a lack of lending content for the students to read on them.

Now, Follett, one of the world’s largest media providers to public schools, has inked a deal with Hachette Book Group to provide digital editions of many of its children’s and teens’ titles to school libraries. HBG, which owns Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, is only the most recent publisher to sign on with Follett, as one division of Penguin Random House has already made a similar partnership.

"As one of Follett's largest partners, HBG offers a wide variety of quality ebook titles that customers can circulate to students for as long as needed to support the school's educational needs," said Todd Litzsinger, President of Follett's Content Solutions and Services, in a press release on the deal. "The addition of HBG's ebook titles reflects our mission of helping educators engage students with content and technology that drives learning outcomes."

There is possibly no more community arena in which ebooks stand to make radical change than in the public education sector. The savings to tax payers alone as schools transition to digital–especially in communities which leverage students’ own device purchases in order to avoid buying and insuring costly hardware–should serve as enough of an incentive to help foster more deals of this kind. When teachers’ own expenses of book and supply purchases are taken into consideration, a long understood fact of the profession, more leaders and publishers should feel compelled to work on the ebook issue.

School Libraries to Get eBook Boost with Follett, Hachette Deal is a post from: E-Reader News

Raspberry Pi in Turkey

Up until now, it’s been difficult for people in Turkey to buy a Raspberry Pi, with import duties and postage charges raising prices to a point where the Pi becomes uneconomic for some. Information about the Pi is hard to find in Turkish, too.

Pis are getting to Turkey; we know that there are some at the Base Istanbul Hackerspace, and we’ve had conversations with a number of friendly Pi-owners out there. But we’re not seeing the Pis out there being used by kids in the way we want them to be, and we’re not seeing as many as we’d like to outside the established academic and hacking community.

These are things we’ve been working to fix.

First off, we’ve established a new Turkish language section in the official forums. We’d like you to help populate it.

We’ve also found a new Turkish vendor, so Turkish buyers will not have to pay the import duty that has been causing such difficulties. Raspberry Pi is now available in Turkey through Samm Teknoloji AS, who aim to provide the Pi at the lowest possible price to Turkish Education.

In order to buy online in Turkey please visit market.samm.com. For more information check out www.samm.com; you can also place orders by telephone by calling the call centre at +90 444 1 726 or +90 444 1 SAM.


A Closer Look at OverDrive Media Console version 3.0

OverDrive Media Console has an ever growing history with mobile platforms. We first released a mobile version of OMC on the Windows Mobile platform in September of 2009, followed soon after by the Android version in December of '09, and then the BlackBerry version in February '10 and finally on iOS devices in April '10.


Since then, we have included Windows Phone and Windows 8 in the OMC app family and worked hard to improve the apps; from adding the ability to read eBooks, to trying to unify the visual experience between devices, to simple bug fixes.  Many changes have swept through the mobile device platforms since then and we’ve kept up with the pace of technological growth, bringing you the latest and greatest version of OMC.


My fellow OverDrive blogger, Adam Sockel, gave you a great overview of what to expect with the newest release, and we have a couple live training sessions scheduled as well. To help get you excited for this new release, I'm here to give you a closer look, and point out the ways in which OMC v3.0 will simplify support for your users. I want to start by highlighting the newest features in the app.


When you first open OMC v3.0, you will see the familiar splash screen give way to a new start screen for first-time users prompting them to add a library or add some books to their bookshelf, complete with visuals to point users in the right direction. Once you have your libraries and/or books added, more tutorial screens will walk you through the new interface, showing up when you go to your bookshelf or open an eBook. Each tutorial screen shows up once, but is available again using the option in Settings to show tutorials next time the app is started.


Aside from the tutorials, we simplified getting around in the app. The Home Menu is your one stop for navigating the improved OMC v3.0. From there, you can go to the My Libraries list, the Bookshelf, Settings, History, OverDrive One and more. In addition to the ease in navigation, the Home menu also provides a better in-app help experience, offering detailed solutions to common questions and issues within OMC.


History is a list of titles that have been deleted from the app upon expiration, or returned to the library. This feature should be a big hit with avid readers, allowing them to keep track of the titles they have read – options range from the last 10 deleted titles to the last 100 deleted titles – so they run less of a risk of listening to/reading the same books over again, unless they want a repeat performance of a book.


When reading the books, we have added another menu, called the Book menu, which allows for simpler navigation within the book, providing access to the table of contents, book details, and editable bookmarks.


Back on the Home menu, the biggest new feature, OverDrive One, allows users to sync their titles, bookmarks, and furthest point read between devices using OMC v3.0. The editable bookmarks I mentioned above are the very same ones that will sync between devices using Overdrive One. So, you can stop reading on your Android phone, pick up your iPad to continue, and you're back in the same place – much like when using OverDrive Read in your browser. For your users who use more than one device to read OverDrive eBooks, OverDrive One should be a welcome addition to the app. This feature is in beta, and we are relying on user feedback to help us add features and improve the Overdrive One experience.


So come on and get excited for August 20th and the new OverDrive Media Console v3.0. Join us for one of the live training sessions we're holding on 8/13 and 8/14 – there are plenty of seats available, and we'd love to have you!


Don't forget, if you need any assistance with end-user support, we have Front Line Tech Support available to assist you and your staff answering those questions from your user.


Justin Noszek is a Support Specialist with OverDrive