Monday, September 16, 2013

Overdrive to focus on Video Streaming Services for Libraries


Overdrive unveiled the prototype of their video streaming service exclusively to Good e-Reader at Book Expo America. Since then, the company has been quiet and has been securing content partnerships. In order to help facilitate the growth the platform and add credibility to the entire project, Overdrive has hired Lee C. Milstein to the new position of Chief Strategy Officer.

Milstein, who previously held leadership roles at Google's YouTube, AOL and DivX, will lead OverDrive's emerging digital media businesses including the expansion into streaming video and education content and services, and help direct the company's overall strategy and strategic partnerships. He will be based out of New York, which is the first time Overdrive is expanding into key markets.

"With Lee's successes in building both revenue and user base in his previous positions, we are confident that his efforts will accelerate the significant growth that we're experiencing," said OverDrive CEO Steve Potash. "In addition to working with our Executive team to direct forward-looking strategies and partnerships, Lee will lead our growing streaming video service for our global network of publishers, consumers and institutional partners."

“OverDrive is in a unique position, having quietly established itself as the market leader in the distribution of eBooks and audiobooks to libraries, schools and retailers, and making it possible for readers to borrow their favorite titles digitally," said Milstein. "I am eager to build on the tremendous innovation taking place here by expanding the channels for distribution and launching a premium streaming video service for our partners. The company has made significant investments in both infrastructure and global reach, and I am proud to help move the company to the next phase of its growth."

Overdrive to focus on Video Streaming Services for Libraries is a post from: E-Reader News

iStoryTime Launches New eBook Store on iOS


iStoryTime has been a major player in the digital book space with their primary business model centered around kids content. They company was originally founded in 2009 and secured $2 million dollars in funding, they have been growing ever since. Today, iStoryTime has announced they have opened up a singular bookstore on iOS, in which all of their titles will be available.

In the past, all iStorytime digital titles were singular apps you had to download individually. Many people might be remiss and have not heard of the company before but iStoryTime works with major studios to license content, including all of DreamWorks' movies, plus content from Sony, PBS, Jim Henson, Cartoon Network, Mattel, and others. Its collection of apps and e-books offers a ton of recognizable kids' brands, including Smurfs, Madagascar, How To Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, Ice Age, Barney, "The Croods", and many others.

"For a long time, we've been doing one app, one story," explains iStoryTime co-founder Graham Farrar, who previously was a part of the founding team at Sonos. "Now we've launched our iStoryTime library as the second phase of our strategy – we've built the content library, now we're building the distribution side," he says.

The new bookstore is now available only on iOS and incorporates all of their past titles in a singular entity. Many other kids bookstores have adopted the freemium models which constantly prompts for buying decision and puts parents in a position of having to say no. Kids will only have access to their bookshelf, while parents will have access to the bookstore. This should prevent drama of kids begging that they want the new Disney book.

Instead of buying each title separately, iStoryTime has created a new subscription service that will allow them to download all of the content from the store. The current rates are $5.00 a month and can be purchased by six months or one year increments.

iStoryTime also introduced an interesting feature through a partnership with TapJoy. Parents can optionally engage with advertisers behind the parental lock in order to gain points which can be applied to storybook purchases. For example, a parent may be asked to "like" Samsung on Facebook, watch a commercial, try out Hulu, get an insurance quote, and other activities, to earn these points. The points are transferred into the app's wallet, and can then be used to buy books. This is the same system that the Archie app for iOS uses, and has been getting rave reviews.

Interested parents can download the new iStoryTime for iOS app here on iTunes.

iStoryTime Launches New eBook Store on iOS is a post from: E-Reader News

DC To Launch New Teen Titans Go! Digital Comic

Teen Titans Go!, which launched earlier this year, is an animated cartoon (it runs during the DC Nation block on Cartoon Network) about a bunch of teen-aged comic-book characters—Robin, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy and Cyborg. And now, DC is completing the cycle of (cartoon) life by making a digital-first Teen Titans Go! comic, which will be written by Merrill Hagan (a former writer for the cartoon) and Sholly Fisch (who scripted DC Super Friends). Ben Bates and Jorge Corona will handle the art, and that sweet cover up there is by Dan Hipp. As Hagan explains, in the comic, as in the cartoon, everyone’s personality will be turned up to 11:

“The characters have been so amped up and their personalities are a little bit more extreme than before. Robin has always been a perfectionist, but in Teen Titans Go, you can see the psychological cracks in that make up and that he’s kind of overly perfectionist.

Like Adventure Time and The Regular Show, Teen Titans Go! will be written for all ages, in the truest sense of the term “You need to write it at a couple different levels simultaneously, so there’s something to appeal to the adults who’re watching, but something that will appeal to the kids who are watching too,” [Hagan] explained. “They both end up laughing but not necessarily laughing at the same joke.”

The comic, which will be part of the DC2 line of digital comics with enhanced storytelling, will come out monthly, and it will be collected into a print comic that will appear bimonthly; two of the digital comics will be bound together as one print comic. Watch for the first issue in December.

DC To Launch New Teen Titans Go! Digital Comic is a post from: E-Reader News

Learning Center webinars updated, now available on mobile devices!

We are halfway through our ‘Next Generation Basics’ webinars, and if the first four sessions are any indication, we're well on our way to another highly successful September. Feedback has been exceptionally positive so far as we’ve covered OverDrive Marketplace and heard from our CEO, Steve Potash. If you happened to miss ‘Marketplace: Made to Order’ and ‘WE are the Next Generation’, you can view them any time on demand from the Learning Center. We still have four more sessions that focus on helping your users, so it's not too late to register from the Live Sessions page.


In addition to posting the Next Generation Basics sessions on the Learning Center, we’ve also updated the following modules:


Best Practices – Marketplace (formerly Best Practices – Collection Development) – instead of focusing solely on collection development, we cover all the ways to get the most out of OverDrive Marketplace.


Education Evolution – new materials and ideas for schools to incorporate their digital collection into curriculum, the classroom and community.


OverDrive Media Station – details for OverDrive's new touchscreen solution for introducing users to your digital library, while inside your physical library.


Top 10 Support Solutions – highlights several changes since the implementation of the end-user management tools in Marketplace.


We are also happy to announce that you can now view all our recorded trainings on a mobile device, as well as a computer. We’ve changed the format of our recordings to make them accessible on smart phones, iPads and other tablets so you can learn on the go! You will be entered in our drawings to win devices, content credit and more whether you attend a live session or view the recordings, so be sure to take part in Next Generation Basics.


All of the Next Generation Basics courses will be posted on the Learning Center by Friday, September 27, and if you have any questions please contact


Beau Livengood is a Training Specialist with OverDrive



Rainbow eBooks Announces Closure of Online Store


Rainbow eBooks has announced today that they are shutting down their online bookstore. The web store will remain active for purchases through September 30, 2013 and will remain active for customer downloads through December 31, 2013. After December 31, 2013 Rainbow eBooks will provide direct links to publishers.

A number of online stores have closed in the last year and people are encouraged to backup their books locally. One of the drawbacks of buying digital editions is that you technically don’t own the book, you are merely licensing it. This causes confusion for users who deal with companies and they end up disappearing and you are out hundreds of dollars.

In the end, the closure of this store is a drawback to people who purchase Gay and Lesbian fiction. This store specialized in this content for a number of years and was fairly popular.

Rainbow eBooks Announces Closure of Online Store is a post from: E-Reader News

Canadian eBook Adoption on the Rise


The eBook adoption rate in Canada is one of the highest in the world, as 41% of parents and 27% of teens have already adopted digital reading. BookNet Canada is predicting this number will dramatically increase.

Digital book adoption rate is dependent on purchasing e-Readers and tablets. On average, parents report having 6.4 devices per household, whereas teens report regularly using 4.8 devices. Among the 27% of teens who read ebooks, the study did not find a strong preference for print or electronic format: 37% prefer print books, 29% prefer ebooks, and 34% have no format preference. In addition, parents who currently read ebooks are significantly more likely to predict that their children will be reading 'slightly' to 'significantly' more ebooks in the near future. "Even parents who don't currently read ebooks predicted that they would be e-reading in the future," says Pamela Millar, BookNet Canada's Director of Customer Relations, "so we can conclude that this trend is likely to pick up steam." As ebooks become less novel and more widely accepted and available, publishers, authors, and booksellers alike may wish to focus on the book rather than its format in their marketing efforts.

The study also investigated eBook discoverability, which is the big buzz word of 2013. While word of mouth is still the most common factor in discovering a new book, online discovery is growing. 43% of parents currently read a sample chapter online before purchasing a book, and a further 18% report that they are interested in doing so in the future.

The data from the survey was collected from 1,044 respondents: 823 parents (responding for 1,420 children) and 221 young adults.

Canadian eBook Adoption on the Rise is a post from: E-Reader News

Oyster Launches Unlimited eBooks for $10/month – Anyone Try It?

Earlier in the month Oyster launched a new service for ebooks that is similar to Netflix where users can get unlimited access to a catalog of content for a monthly fee. In the case of Oyster, they have around 100,000 ebooks, and customers can read an unlimited number of those ebooks for a monthly subscription […]

Google Coder: a simple way to make web stuff on Raspberry Pi

Apologies for the late post today—I started playing about with Coder this afternoon and kind of got side tracked for four hours because it’s quite wonderful. (By ‘playing’ of course I mean carrying out an Educational Evaluative Assessment.)

Coder turns your Raspberry Pi into a mini web server that allows you to create web content using HTML, CSS and JavaScript via a browser-based IDE. Or rather, it allows you to easily make Cool Web Stuff. Coder was made by a team of Googlers in New York—thanks Coder Team!

So why use Coder and not some other environment? It’s a brilliantly simple out of the box solution, perfect for people aren’t sure where to start or for schools where setting up servers and IDEs can be a nightmare for teacher and technician alike. Beyond this it’s an instant hacking environment and a web development sandbox. As well as letting you make stuff it’s also a great introduction to the concept of web servers and some of the main languages that underpin the web.

The section tabs physically and conceptually separate the HTML from the styles from the script, which is just how it should be.  The interface is clean and simple and you can see the code side by side with the result and change it in real time.  I could go on but instead I’ll tell you how to get started.

How to get started

Full instructions are on the Coder site but here’s the gist:

  1. Download the image file and flash a 4Gb SD card
  2. Pop it into your Pi and turn it on. You won’t notice too much difference to a standard installation whilst it’s booting (Raspbian lurks beneath) but you’ll end up at the prompt ‘coder login:‘  (You don’t need to login.)
  3. Open a browser on any computer on the same network as the Pi and type ‘http://coder.local‘ into the address bar**

From booting to playing around with web pages took less than two minutes. The hardest bit was coming up with a strong password (what the hell is wrong with ‘pooface1′? My bank is OK with it).

A Machine of Doom? I’ll take three.

So once you’re in, what can you do? Unlike many educational resources, the tutorial is actually a good place to start. Comments at the top of each page explain what’s going on and it’s easy to start tweaking and hacking the code—just click on the </>.  Personally I went for the eyeball and gave it a huge, red sclera because it was looking at me funny. ‘Space Rocks‘ actually has a ‘Hack‘ button that lets you play about with variables, which is always a great way to explore a program (and who can resist giving themselves hundreds of lives? Cheating at its finest.)

Big red & sclerotic — that’s better.

Coder is what all educational resources should be: focused and fun but with loads of potential. It’s a damn fine piece of software. You can also get involved with Coder directly as it’s open source and the Coder Team would love your help.

Download it and have a play—we love it. I’m off to make huge, monkey headed missiles  for my spaceship.

**Note: Windows users will have to install Apple’s Bonjour Print Services first. NOTE: When I tried to install BPS in Windows 8 it fell over, refusing to create the shortcut due to some rubbishly random nonsense about privileges. I fixed this by first manually creating a new folder called “Bonjour Print Services” in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs and then installing. Ho hum.

Glossary for beginners

IDE. Integrated Development Environment.  Software that brings together a bunch of tools and utilities to assist in software development.

CSS. Cascading Style Sheets. A language that is used to tell a web page how it should look.

HTML. Hypertext Markup Language. The main language that web pages are written in.

Web server. A computer that stores web content (text, images, scripts, video, style sheets etc.) and sends it to other computers when they request it. For example, your browser requested this blog page from the server and then displayed it on the screen.

JavaScript. A programming language that can be used in web pages to provide interactivity and functionality, from checking password strength to games.

Librarian’s Share: getting faculty excited about OverDrive

Whenever our library and school partners alert us to the creative ways their interacting with their users we like to “turn the mic” over, so to speak, and let them tell their story. We call these posts “Librarian’s Share”. Recently, Kristen Baslee Smith of Mercy High School (CA) sent a tweet informing us about a clever way she is turning their school staff into OverDrive champions. This is her story:


I work at a small private high school in the San Francisco Bay Area.  My goal this school year is to increase ebook/audiobook circulation by 50%.  The main issue I had was differentiating my audiences.  A marketing campaign for the students would be completely different than a marketing campaign for the faculty.  I decided to start with the faculty first, thinking they would end up being fans of the OverDrive system and would then advertise to the students through word-of-mouth. 


Just through the course of user setup, faculty have a completely different login structure than the students, and it isn’t entirely intuitive.  I needed to relay their login information on something that would get noticed.  The faculty receives dozens of emails and a plethora of paper in their mailboxes each day.  A library card or business card sized object would get lost, so I decided a glossy postcard would be perfect.  


For about $35 (including shipping) and a half a day of work, I processed about 50 postcards for the faculty.  I hand wrote each person’s login information and on the back wrote a personalized ebook recommendation I thought they would enjoy.


The feedback has been great!  Many faculty members are coming up to me in the halls expressing excitement about OverDrive.


Next step in the plan is to launch an OverDrive mascot for the library to generate buzz among the students.  We’re just finishing up the sketches and hope to introduce her in the next few weeks.


Kristen Baslee Smith is a Librarian at Mercy High School in Burlingame, California.



Wattpad and Harlequin Launch New Romance Writing Contest


Wattpad and Harlequin have teamed up for a new romance writing contest. Writers from around the world can use Wattpad to upload the first chapter of their romance story aimed at a 'New Adult' audience for consideration by a team of international judges. Four winning submissions will each be awarded a publishing contract from Harlequin.

The So You Think You Can Write competition offers aspiring writers in Canada, the US, the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa the chance to win a publishing contract from Harlequin, one of the world's leading publishers of romance and women's fiction. Beginning September 23, writers can upload their first chapter on Wattpad using the hashtag #SYTYCW. Writers are also asked to submit a 100-word pitch that outlines their story, including plot, characters, conflict and setting. The top 25 ranking chapters will be shortlisted by the team of editors who will then request the full stories from those writers. Winners will be announced on December 4.

"We're excited to present this exclusive contest on Wattpad," said Ashleigh Gardner, Head of Publishing Partnerships at Wattpad. "Millions of millennials use Wattpad for discovering and sharing stories. This contest gives writers an opportunity to share their 'New Adult' experiences and stories with the world – and maybe even score a publishing contract."

Wattpad and Harlequin Launch New Romance Writing Contest is a post from: E-Reader News

Adobe Signs Agreement with the Alliance of Audited Media


Adobe has just signed a new agreement with the Alliance of Audited Media and will now allow magazine publishers to automatically submit data. This is tremendously useful because the entire pipeline is automated and will assist advertisers in gauging the current digital subscription rate. Adobe has also unveiled a new online portal that will allow for the careful monitoring of analytics.

Digital magazine publishers often find themselves with the inability to effectively track anything but the issues sold. Adobe now will allow publishers to set their own frequencies in which single issues have tracking data attached to them. The suite will collect metrics for one week and one week after that, or one month and one month after that.

Adobe has also added some valuable new metrics tools to their Publishing Suite. The first is Accumulated Readers, which tracks the number of readers who have opened an issue. Another great one is Accumulated Sessions, which gives accurate data on the number of times a reader has opened an issue. Finally, Accumulated Time will closely monitor the duration in which a subscriber spends on a single issue. Each one of these tools are available in a singular dashboard and can track every single issue sold, across all distribution channels.

Lynly Schambers, Group Product Marketing Manager of Digital Publishing at Adobe, told Good e-Reader, “Right from the beginning, we captured metrics and gave them to the publishers. We have seen tremendous growth in digital and our partners have collectively sold over 120 million digital magazines. I think the digital publishing industry is maturing and there is an expectation that more data is being provided to advertisers.”

All of the new Adobe features that were announced are only applicable to magazines that are available on iOS and Android. Single special issues are not supported yet, but may be available in the future. Some publishers may not want their data submitted to the Alliance of Audited Media, and opting out is available. Adobe is gently encouraging their base of users to opt into the service, but it is certainly not mandatory.

Adobe Signs Agreement with the Alliance of Audited Media is a post from: E-Reader News

Issuu Opens US Office, Hires Yahoo and Google Execs to Lead


Originally founded in Denmark, digital publishing platform Issuu has become one of the fastest growing global companies for digital magazine publication. Today, the company announced not only the launch of its US operations in Palo Alto, California, but also named some former executives with companies like Yahoo! and Google in key leadership roles.

Joe Hykin, formerly with companies like Gaia Interactive, Yahoo!, Flickr and Virage, has been named as Issuu’s new CEO, while Bradley Horowitz, Google’s Vice President of Product Management, Social Products Division, has been named to the board of directors.

Hykin spoke to Good e-Reader last week ahead of this announcement about what some of the directions the leadership intends to take the company will be.

“We’re about providing access to the depth around content ideas and subject matter that people are passionate about,” explained Hykin when discussing the role of Issuu in providing content. “It’s less about the immediacy of current news, and much more about connecting people with the content for which they have a huge passion.”

“We’re announcing that we’re expanding our presence and our operations, and we’re bringing on Bradley Horowitz to our board. He has an extensive background in content distribution and combining access to content with cutting edge digital technology. We look at Bradley coming on the board to demonstrate the seriousness for which we want our platform and access to the transformation that we’re making available to the digital publishing world.”

“Our focus is really about connecting readers to content that they love. In order for that to happen, we have built a platform that lets publishers from around the world to have a set of tools and services to make that content available digitally and to be discovered. What we’re really looking to do is to expand access to content digitally, to facilitate the ability to distribute efficiently and effectively, and to help publishers monetize it while readers can discover content that they love. We’re think about this from an audience perspective.”

Issuu has over seven million unique visitors per month, and uses that customer base to ensure that they are providing individualized content for a broad reach of interest areas.

“I’m less focused on various other players in this space and much more focused on the breadth and depth of what we’re able to provide. We want to keep growing and building, and giving great tools to publishers to give really cool, fun content to readers.”

Issuu Opens US Office, Hires Yahoo and Google Execs to Lead is a post from: E-Reader News

Penguin Australia Introduces New ‘Heat’ Based Rating System

Penguin books

Penguin Australia has introduced a new “heat” rating system for its romance publications which will serve to let users have an early idea of how hot or cool the content will be like. The ebooks, thus categorized, will make it easy for the readers to pick up more of a particular category that they like the most.

‘The last thing we want to do is to disappoint – or offend – readers and heat ratings tell readers exactly what they’re getting, up-front, when they buy a Destiny Romance,” says Penguin’s commissioning editor Carol George. "Some people don’t care whether there’s a sexy scene or not; they just want an enjoyable romance and are happy either way. Others like the bedroom door left wide open, while there are those readers who demand that it’s shut tightly, never to be opened."

Categorization of books based on their content has been in vogue for long so that we know a dagger symbol symbolizes books on crime much as a smiley with fangs has come to be associated with books on paranormal. Penguin's new heat-o-meter is also in line with the Sweet, Sexy and Blaze ratings that publishers Mills & Boon use to demarcate its ebook offerings.

Penguin Australia Introduces New ‘Heat’ Based Rating System is a post from: E-Reader News