Thursday, August 29, 2013

Kobo Suspends Usage of the GoodReads API

kobo goodreads api

Kobo is one of the largest online booksellers in the world and currently has over 3.5 million titles available. Over the course of the last few years the company has been depending on GoodReads for book reviews and ratings. This has populated millions of titles with user generated data that influences peoples buying decisions. Michael Tamblyn, Chief Content Officer at Kobo has just confirmed that the company has suspended the GoodReads API.

The main Kobo online bookstore has undergone a severe revision and can be considered a major upgrade. It features a new responsive design that optimizes it for small or large display screens. During this transition they have suspended the use of the GoodReads API. Michael did mention that they were evaluating re-adding the API at some point in the future, but was cryptic on whether it would actually happen or not.

The suspension of reviews and ratings is not a problem relegated only to the companies main website. Their entire line of e-Readers is also not being populated either. We have confirmation from hundreds of users that this problem is happening on their entire product line, including the Aura HD and Kobo Glo. The only device that seems to be working fine is the Android app, which relies on user generated data directly within the app.

Relying on a 3rd party for all of your data is not the smart play. With GoodReads being acquired by Amazon a few months ago, investing in that company in the long-term for reviews and ratings might be shooting yourself in the foot. It might be more effective to straight from scratch and Kobo develop their own system for user generated content. It might be slow going at first, but would be the correct business path for long-term sustained growth.

Kobo Suspends Usage of the GoodReads API is a post from: E-Reader News

Smashwords to Distribute to India’s Largest eBook Retailer Flipkart


eBook retailer and distributor Smashwords announced a deal today that will distribute its entire catalog to the digital reading market of India via its own Flipkart platform. Right now, India is the fifth largest market for ebook purchases from Smashwords, so a partnership of this kind will enable a more streamlined shopping experience for Indian readers and worldwide authors.

According to a post on the partnership from Smashwords’ CEO Mark Coker, “Flipkart is commonly referred to as the Amazon of India. To be fair to Flipkart, Amazon would probably kill to become the Flipkart of India some day. is India's largest online marketplace. They serve 10 million registered users, one million daily visitors, and offer products in over 17 different categories. Our friends at Flipkart tell me that according to Nielsen BookScan Retail Panel data, Flipkart holds 80% market share for online book sales in India, and holds 40-45% market share for all trade book sales across brick and mortar AND online.”

Despite market reports that tablets are only just beginning to take off in India and that e-readers in the market have lagged behind other global markets in terms of sales, Coker offered the following data on ebook traffic in the country:

* India is the world's second most populous country with 1.2 billion citizens, accounting for 17% of the world's population. Source.
* India's literacy rate is 74% and rising. Source.
* India has two official languages: Hindi and English. Source.
* 125 million Indians speak English, twice the 61 million English speakers in the UK, quadruple the 33 million in Canada, and about six times the 22 million in Australia. Source. I don't have data on English literacy, or the number of English readers, though our friends at Flipkart tell me about 80% of their book sales are English language books.
* 150 million Indians are online. Source. By 2015, according to McKinsey, the number of Internet users is expected to double to 330 million. Source.
* India recently became the world's third largest market for smartphones. Its smart phone market for Q1 2013 grew over 160% year over year, a rate of growth faster than China (86% YoY), Japan (24% YoY) and the US (19% YoY). Source. Smartphones are e-reading devices!
* India has one of the world's fastest growing economies, and one of the fastest growing middle classes. India had 250 middle class consumers in 2007, a number that will rise to 600 million by 2030. Source. With the rise of the middle class comes increased discretionary consumer spending on books.

While Smashwords’ authors enjoy a 70% royalty on domestic sales, they will receive a 60% on Flipkart sales after the accounting for the withholding tax charged in the country.

Smashwords to Distribute to India’s Largest eBook Retailer Flipkart is a post from: E-Reader News

NextIssue Media Catalog Grows to Over 100 Titles

sph digital magazines

One of the features of any tablet device that customers have grown used to is the ability to touch an app with a finger tip and have instant access to their content. This instantaneous ability to see all purchased content may be what has driven NextIssue Media to reformulate what consumers may be used to with digital magazine publication.

Unlike per-issue purchases or subscriptions that were based on the same formula as print magazine subscriptions, NextIssue users have unlimited access to every title in the catalog, all for one fee through their two different unlimited access plans. The first plan, priced at $9.99 per month, gives users complete access to 90 different popular titles, including Cooking Light, Esquire, Real Simple, Vanity Fair, Wired, and others. The premium plan, which runs $14.99 per month, offers access to 101 different titles from major magazine publishers.

A release from the company today announced, “We are absolutely thrilled to announce you now get unlimited access to over 100 digital magazines available on the Next Issue app—101 to be exact. In the last two months, eight new titles joined our ranks: Newsweek, Shape, Consumer Reports, Entrepreneur, Motor Trend, PC Magazine, ShopSmart, and Ski. And we can't give you the juicy details, but you can expect even more very soon.”

NextIssue is running a current special for new customers to try out the service free for thirty days. One feature that has made NextIssue so popular for a trial period is its model that does not require a credit card to try the service, unlike companies who record payment information then charge the user unless a cancellation is made within the given time frame.

NextIssue Media Catalog Grows to Over 100 Titles is a post from: E-Reader News

Amazon Launches Mexico Kindle Store, Starts Selling Kindles at Gandhi Stores

Today Amazon made an announcement, but it wasn’t the one we’ve been waiting for. On Tuesday Kobo announced the upcoming release of three new tablets, the Kobo Aura ebook reader, a new Kids’ ebook store, and a partnership with Pocket to bring web reading to Kobo’s ereaders. So what does Amazon do to counter? They […]

Amazon Selectively Choosing Not to Sell WiFi Kindle Paperwhites in the US

All week I’ve been keeping track of the mysterious Kindle Paperwhite disappearance, posting articles when the $119 model became unavailable and then again the next day when the $139 Paperwhite vanished, leaving only the more expensive Kindle Paperwhite with 3G wireless available for purchase. Then yesterday I noticed something even stranger that makes me think […]

Sourcebooks Expands with Acquisition of Simple Truths


One of the leaders in the forefront of digital publishing–a company that has not only adapted to e-reading but has led the innovation in a wide variety of ways–is Illinois-based Sourcebooks. With a large number of imprints and target audiences incorporated in its model, Sourcebooks has grown quickly into a leading entity in the industry.

Now, Sourcebooks has added to its family of imprints with its announcement today of its acquisition of motivational and inspirational title publisher Simple Truths. Founded only eight years ago by Mac Anderson, Simple Truths has grown from its sister company Successories, which was sold off in 2004.

Dominique Raccah, founder and CEO of Sourcebooks, said in a press release on the acquisition, “This purchase adds almost $10 million to our top-line sales and extends opportunities for Sourcebooks authors.  It also creates new channel growth opportunities for initiatives like Put Me In The Story."

Put Me In The Story is one of Sourcebooks’ most recent innovations, launched less than a year ago, which lets any publisher incorporate personalization in the text and through photographs of nearly any book. Widely lauded as both a parent-child reading experience and for its educational implications, the platform stands to bring a new level of interest to children’s literacy.

For its part, Simple Truths founder Anderson said, “Leveraging our content through their distribution channels will generate excellent growth opportunities,” a retail potential fact which was certain to have been a motivating factor in the decision to work with Sourcebooks.

Sourcebooks Expands with Acquisition of Simple Truths is a post from: E-Reader News

Kindle Fire Market Share Records Sharp Plunge

Kindle Fire

Amazon is already in the process of refreshing its Kindle Fire lineup. That's perfectly normal considering the present crop of Kindle Fire devices are fast approaching the one year anniversary of their launch. However, there seem to be more reasons than just the calendar for Amazon to release something new, as the Kindle Fire devices have been fast seen losing out on favor with the consumers, something exemplified by its market share witnessing a sharp drop from 21.5 percent to all the way down to 10.1 percent.

The above figure was revealed by Jumptap based on mobile traffic data for 2012 and 2013. What has also come to light is that Apple continues to sit on top of the tablet heap with its market share actually increasing by 3.1 percent. Samsung has emerged as the second largest player with a 5.8 percent jump in its market share, which has grown to 11.1 percent in 2013, scuttling Kindle Fire in the process from the second biggest competitor to the iPad.

This does put some pressure on Amazon to come up with the new Kindle Fire series, expected to launch sometime this fall. While initial reports point to an impressive new set of Kindle Fire devices across different screen sizes, it remains to be seen if those will be good enough to take the battle to the Apple and Google camps. Google has already revealed its trump card, the Nexus 7, while Apple is expected to launch new iPad devices this fall. That’s not all, for Amazon will also have to contend with the new tablet range Kobo has come up with.

Kindle Fire Market Share Records Sharp Plunge is a post from: E-Reader News

Amazon Still Awaiting Its Indian eBook Store to Click


Amazon is yet to build the kind of success it might have expected out of its India operations, but that is because i’ts only now that tablet devices have started to emerge as the preferred mobile computing platform. eReaders, for their part, never enjoyed the popularity in India that they did in other reading markets.

Another reason for Amazon to lag behind in ebook sales in India is that printed books continue to enjoy wide consumer attention while ebooks so far have been perceived as something that is best left to the tech savvy community. The price sensitive market in India also poses a different set of challenges to Amazon.

As David Limp, Vice President, Kindle in India points out: “We have an entry-level Kindle which is at Rs. 6,000 and people here love that price. But the feedback we're getting also asks when they can get the Paperwhite at that price. Over time, we want to be able cut costs and offer more features at the entry-level.”

The Kindle Paperwhite costs Rs. 11,000 in India right now, while its 3G counterpart sells for Rs. 14,000. As for the Kindle Fire, the range starts at Rs. 16,000.

“Over a period of time, it won't happen tomorrow, the technology might migrate downwards. Until then, we're going to try to span across many price points,” said Mr. Limp.

Meanwhile, the VP further added that they are still on the lookout for their ‘Manga moment’ in India. Aamzon found success in Japan after having taken the popular comics in its stride. They are still on the look out for the Manga equivalent in India, though such a thing has been elusive so far.

“Yes, we are [talking to Indian publishers], but, more importantly, we're trying to learn the intricacies of this market. In Japan, for instance, Manga comics is an important category for reading. Once we optimised for that, we saw success… we're looking for an equivalent of that in India,” said Limp.

An encouraging trend so far is that, along with an increase in the sales of smartphones and tablet devices in India, there has also been a rise in acceptance of ebooks and emagazines as well.

Amazon Still Awaiting Its Indian eBook Store to Click is a post from: E-Reader News

Digipalooza 2013 Highlights

If you weren't able to attend our DigiPalooza users group meeting, we're so sorry. You missed a great time with lots of parties and food, great speakers including Mitch Albom and author Anna Banks, and tons of useful information from OverDrive, library partners, and publishers as well. Here are just a few highlights from some of the sessions. Sorry, no party reports: what happens in Cleveland stays in Cleveland, although we can acknowledge a spectacular evening at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which featured the exhibit "The Rolling Stones: 50 Years of Satisfaction."


See our Digipalooza page for the complete program.


Digital Media 2013 and Beyond


Coming soon: streaming video. Why consider it? There are many reasons, including that it requires no software installation or activation, it integrates seamlessly with the OverDrive Next Gen platform and works with any connected device, it's inevitable as the platform of the future, it will include the top movies your patrons want, night owls can get their movies even when your buildings are closed, and:


OverDrive Read

With OverDrive Read, the browser based reader that makes our titles available through any browser, we now have a platform that is just the beginning of our future. Smartphones are gaining steadily as the device of choice, but whatever devices the future brings, we are ready. . . and we'll be adding a steady stream of new features to engage new readers.


Maximizing ROI with Your Digital Collection Budget

Presenters shared tips for making the most of your budget:

  • Use the reports (available under the Reports tab on the Marketplace page) to understand your patrons and what they want.
  • Use Recommend to Library to find out what they really want that you don't own. One library spends 20% of their budget on RTL requests.
  • Buy one copy of each title and use the Holds Manager to manage the demand.
  • Make frequent smaller orders with something for everyone to make sure users looking for new content find something fresh every day.
  • Search the backlist for popular authors.

Getting more money into your digital collection budget:

  • Apply for grants
  • Advocate for a higher percentage of the materials budget
  • Look hard at standing orders, journal subscriptions, reference books, and databases and drop those that aren't pulling their weight.

One important return on investment is your loyal patrons—and you need to recruit more new ones to support you in the future.

  • Know your digital users—55.5% are over age 50. Surprise!

School Digital Library


The OverDrive School Digital Library offers three different themes based on the age of the students. The library also offers metadata that includes Accelerated Reader and lexile information.



Promoting Your OverDrive School Digital Library


Libraries shared how they are promoting their school digital library service. Some used dummy books on the shelves letting students know that an eBook also exists for each of the titles. Others got everyone involved:

Uncovering New Users

How do you get staff to buy in to digital and help you find new users?


Big Data for Big Impact

OverDrive did a huge patron survey in June, which resulted in 68,491 responses from about 25 countries, 83% from the U. S., 15% from Canada, and 1% from Australia. Here are some of the results straight from your digital customers:




OverDrive has made APIs available for use. What does that mean for libraries? It makes it possible to display all your print and digital activity in one place—your ILS catalog. And coming in September: the ability to place a hold, borrow and download, return items, and view the bookshelf.


Support Report


Spectacular results from Support Services: your patrons are finding it easier to navigate your digital collections successfully:


OverDrive Media Station


This exciting new product offers a way to introduce and display your digital collection within your buildings. A large touch screen system allows patrons to browse the most popular items in your collection and text or email themselves a link for later check out. Since nearly 60% of library card holders don't know if their library offers eBooks, this is a great way to raise awareness.

If you weren’t able to make it to Cleveland this year, be sure to plan to attend the next Digipalooza in Summer 2015! Based on the feedback weave received from this year's attendees, you definitely won't regret it.

Amazon Launches e-Readers and eBooks in Mexico


Amazon has announced today that they have brought the Kindle eBook Store, e-Readers and Kindle Direct Publishing to Mexico. This service has just launched and has over 1,500 digital books available in Spanish. You will find popular authors such as; José Emilio Pacheco, Elena Poniatowska, Sergio Pitol and Carlos Monsivais, as well as comic books from Mafalda and Familia Burrón.

"The vast majority of Mexicans do not have access to a bookstore in their town, so we're happy to launch the Mexico Kindle Store today and bring a huge bookstore with over 2 million titles to anyone with an Internet connection," said Pedro Huerta, Director of Kindle Content, Latin America. "We are also excited to bring Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite to Mexico at Gandhi stores. Kindle Paperwhite offers an unparalleled reading experience, with a display that reads like real paper, an innovative built-in front light, a small and light-weight design and 8 weeks of battery life so customers can easily dive into their favorite books."

"In order to provide a new experience and bring books to all our customers in an innovative way, we will offer Amazon's Kindle in all of our bookstores. We believe it is a great option to enjoy reading at an affordable price. We are confident it will have very good acceptance by readers," said Alberto Achar, Marketing Manager at Gandhi. "It is very important to us to take books to anyone interested in reading, using all possible channels. Amazon's Kindle is a device that easily and quickly serves this purpose."

Amazon Launches e-Readers and eBooks in Mexico is a post from: E-Reader News

7 Things We Want You to Know About Our Online Classes

Signing up for one of our online classes? Here are 7 things you should know.

Samsung Launches Galaxy Tab 3 For Toddlers

Galaxy Tab 3 Kids

Samsung has been up to some improvements with its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4, churning out several variations, including the S4 Zoom. Now, an unexpected new device, a kid friendly derivate of the Galaxy Tab 3, comes complete with enough padding along the sides to justify its use among the preschool-aged community. This marks the first attempt by a mainstream tablet maker  at a tablet device that is targeted exclusively to children.

To begin with, the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids device is the same Galaxy Tab 3 7.0, but with some hardware and software enhancements meted out to ensure parents find it safe for use by their little ones. A 7 inch 1024 x 600 pixel display makes up the top if the device, while on the other side of it lies a dual core 1.2 Ghz chip, a gig of RAM, and 8 GB of internal memory. There is also a micro SD card slot that will allow 32 GB more to be added. The tablet has also been provided with front and rear facing camera of 1.3 and 3 megapixels, respectively.

Also, with toddlers as its intended clientele, the tablet has also been provided with enough tweaks on the software front, which includes educational, and entertainment apps, as well as children's ebooks, all of which come pre-loaded on the device.  The tablet also includes an Application Manager which will allow the parents to set usage hours or specific apps and other features that they wish their kids to be exposed to. What's more, the Application Manager has been provided with a layer of security via passwords, which is indeed a nice feature given how tech savvy the younger lot has come to be.

The Galaxy Tab 3 Kids also comes with a Kid Case of its own, which includes a C Pen for on-screen drawing or writing, as well as several stand options.

The tablet will first be released in South Korea before appearing in other regions of the world. Pricing has been kept under wraps, though it will crucial for the device to emerge as a viable choice for a kid specific tablet device.

Samsung Launches Galaxy Tab 3 For Toddlers is a post from: E-Reader News

Rockstand Records Over 1 TB of Data Downloads


Rockstand, the India-based ebook and emagazine app store, announced having recently crossed the data usage limit of 1 TB per day. That's an important milestone in a country where ebook reading is still considered to be in its nascent stages. Rockstand has also stated it is the regional content that has emerged as the most preferred download, a segment where the company has been putting a lot of effort, interesting considering the multilingual country India is. Also, usage is showing no signs of slowing down, but rather it is on an upward swing with the average download recorded per user at about five to eight ebooks or emagazines on a daily basis. That translates to about 40 – 60 MB downloaded per user per day.

"We are amazed to see this kind of data usage, as we were expecting excellent response, but this figure is overwhelming & motivating. On that particular day, we crossed 15000 downloads due to regional content promotion and great offers, discounts provided. From the time since India got into era of digitization, Games and Songs have dominated digital space and enjoyed uninterrupted reign of data usage in country. Now it's time for eBooks and eMagazines to rule digital space in India," said Head of Rockstand Digital Pvt. Limited, Mr. Rishi Mohan Jha.

"Special mention to Regional eBooks and eMagazine, as we can see great opportunities there and thus to tap this burgeoning market, we are bringing exclusive and exciting content for our readers. Conversion of regional content is a big challenge and we are proud to say that we have been successful in dealing with this problem and thus offering flawless digital reading experience to our users," further added Jha.

Among the languages that have drawn the maximum downloads are Hindi, Telegu, Tamil, Gujarati. Rockstand also offered heavy discounts to commemorate India's Independence Day on Aug 15th. The discounts were valid for the 14th and 15th of August, with both days recording a heightened buying spree among readers. Average books or emags downloaded during those two days shot up to 10 to 15 for every user.

Rockstand Records Over 1 TB of Data Downloads is a post from: E-Reader News

Tudor theatre, 21st century technology

This summer, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London mounted a production of all three of Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays, staged both at Shakespeare’s Globe itself, and outdoors at battlefield sites from the War of the Roses. The theatre collaborated with The Space, a new Arts Council and BBC-developed service which streams free, on-demand video of live cultural events, to produce a broadcast of the plays from multiple viewpoints.

Real live camera operators, with real live cameras, were following the actors around and filming the whole series of plays. But we are particularly interested in one specific camera: the tiny Throne Cam, invisible to the audience, but filming all the proceedings from the huge throne which forms part of the stage set in all three performances, giving an actor’s eye view of the plays. It was a Raspberry Pi camera board.

Thronecam in situ at Shakespeare’s Globe

It turns out that the Pi and its camera board are the ideal solution for The Space. The whole assembly is not big enough to be noticeable by the audience if it’s mounted somewhere on the stage, but can record 1080p HD video. And, because it’s driven by a Pi, it can process and encode the video onboard, so no additional work needs doing by The Space to publish the stream online.

The first of the three plays is already available to watch online. I’m on a very wobbly hotel wifi network today, so I haven’t been able to watch the video yet – please report back in the comments and let us know what you thought of it!