Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kobo Donates 3,500 e-Readers to Canadian Native Youth


Kobo has engaged in a new initiative that will see close to 3,500 Touch e-Readers distributed to Native youth in Canada. The company is also contributing close to $100,000 to to develop a program in conjunction with Free The Children to help improve literacy.

Kobo and Free The Children are committed to empowering youth across Canada to develop their imaginations throughout the year-long partnership. A cross-country speaking tour begins October 1st, where this initiative will be brought to various Aboriginal schools and community centres across Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Additionally, the partnership includes working with Frontier College, a nation-wide, volunteer-based, literacy organization, to provide resources to existing Aboriginal literacy programs.

Each Kobo Touch will be pre-loaded with books by Aboriginal authors such as Lightning Rider by Jacqueline Guest, Catching Spring by Sylvia Olsen, and Him Standing by Richard Wagamese. This should build some immediate synergy and get the kids reading books right away.

“Literacy is fundamental in any young person’s education,” said Marc Kielburger, co-founder, Free The Children. “We are so thankful for Kobo’s commitment and generous donation to help us shed light on the importance of education and literacy, while bringing to life Aboriginal stories and culture to youth across Canada, enriching the lives of young people and helping to preserve a piece of Canada’s history.”

This new partnership is launching during a time when literacy rates in Native children are at an all time low. A recent study conducted by TD stated that slightly more than 60% of Aboriginal Canadians do not have the proper literacy skills to participate in society. This new project is trying to focus on the the 46% of the population that does not live in Urban areas and tend not to have internet connectivity. e-Readers are the perfect solution because they can be given away with a number books loaded on them.

Kobo Donates 3,500 e-Readers to Canadian Native Youth is a post from: E-Reader News

Injustice: Gods Among Us Comes to an End, for Now

Injustice 36

If you follow our weekly Digital Comics Best Seller List posts, you know that Tom Taylor’s Injustice: Gods Among Us is typically one of the top-selling comics on every platform, and often the individual issues make up more than half of the top ten.

So it was rather startling news when DC announced yesterday that the series is going on hiatus for the rest of the year. This week’s issue, #36, will be the last until January 2014, when Taylor will pick up the story again where he left off.

Injustice is a prequel to the game of the same name, and Taylor said that this week’s issue was a good stopping point, “I said early on that we had a definite ending in mind for our story. I knew that the story we were telling in these 36 chapters was essentially the break-up of the World’s Finest friendship. When Superman and Batman’s relationship became irreparable, that’s when our story would end. That tale is told now.”

However, we have another story to tell in the pages of Injustice, and that story will begin in January 2014. Taylor cited the rigors of maintaining a weekly schedule, but he also said, “Injustice has been an absolute dream project.”

Because the comic is digital-first, print issues will continue to be released for the rest of the year, and DC also plans to release an all-new Injustice Annual in November.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Comes to an End, for Now is a post from: E-Reader News

LinuxCon keynote

The video of Eben’s LinuxCon keynote has just been made available: enjoy. If you’re one of those people who watches everything we do (we know you are out there, and you fascina

(The Weston Wayland demo did not, due to some quirk of the audio visual apparatus, make it into the video: you’ll have to wait until we give the demo again at Maker Faire this weekend to see it in all its glory. I am happy to relate that although the guy with the Pi at the back of the room launched three copies of Scratch at once, everything ran very smoothly.)

Self-Published Title from Jim Carrey Very Telling about the State of Publishing


Among the many slapstick and antic-filled films Jim Carrey has starred in, he’s recently appeared in more children’s-oriented films like A Series of Unfortunate Events and Mr. Popper’s Penguins, both film adaptations of beloved children’s books. So it’s not really a surprise that Carrey has now penned a children’s book of his own, How Roland Rolls.

What is surprising is Carrey’s decision to self-publish the title about an ocean wave who’s afraid to crash on the shore, fearing that he will die if he does. The title will be distributed on Carrey’s behalf by Perseus Books Group’s distribution division.

Jim Carrey is certainly known for doing things his own way and not necessarily taking the popular path, as he has done in the past with his crusade against preservative laden over-vaccination and his current fame as a Twitter ranter against both access to guns and violence in movies; a recent series of tweets targeted a film he actually appeared in, Kick Ass 2, which he now says he cannot endorse with a clear conscience due to its level violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings and many other similar events.

But what is coming as a surprise about Carrey’s self-published book is that the publicity around the title is no longer about the publishing avenue he chose. In the past, any high profile writer who opted for self-publishing would have made headlines for the decision and quite possibly been made to answer for what prompted the decision. The lack of concern over his option may be one of the most telling indicators that the publishing industry is finally experiencing the shift that we were long promised when digital publishing first took hold.

How Roland Rolls is due out on September 24th, and will be simultaneously produced as an enhanced ebook. More information on the title can be found at HowRolandRolls.com.

Self-Published Title from Jim Carrey Very Telling about the State of Publishing is a post from: E-Reader News

LinuxCon keynote, Maker Faire NYC, Cambridge GCSE Computing news

You’ll notice I’m posting quite late today: it’s because I’m in the US for LinuxCon, so I’m out by a few time zones. (Thanks to Clive for looking after the blog yesterday.) Eben gave a keynote yesterday, immediately after Gabe Newell (who didn’t give any hints about Half Life 3 – sorry, Ryan). The talk should be put online shortly, and we’ll be here in New Orleans at LinuxCon for the rest of the week – if you see either of us, please come and say hi. You can read a bit more about what Eben had to say at LinuxCon’s conference blog.

Later this week, we’ll be heading up to New York City for World Maker Faire. We’ll be based at Pimoroni’s stand in the tent (where a limited number of $40 Raspberry Pi/8GB NOOBS SD card bundles will be for sale – they’re a great deal and we’ll sign them if you ask us to), we will have Pi goodies for sale and a few special items to give away, and Eben will be giving a talk on Saturday at 4pm. As usual, we’d love to see and chat with any of you who decide to attend: come and grab us if you see us.

Back in Blighty, Cambridge GCSE Computing Online, the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) we are working on with OCR, the UK examination board, and Cambridge University Press, has just released its first newsletter. If you’re interested in how things are progressing, you should head straight over and have a look. We are intending on having between 30 and 40 of the teaching videos we’ve promised available by the end of the month, with more scheduled for December and April. We’re very excited to be able to share some of the educational materials we’ve been working on with you: we’re looking forward to hearing your feedback at the end of September.

I’m off to listen to a LinuxCon talk by Planetary Resources about deep-space data centres. More tomorrow!

Still No Sony PRS-T3 in the US – Does Anyone Care?

Tomorrow it will be two weeks to the day when Sony announced the PRS-T3 ebook reader at IFA in Berlin. Two weeks later, and the Sony PRS-T3 is still unavailable for purchase in the United States. In fact it isn’t even mentioned anywhere at all, nor is it available for pre-order; the US Sony website […]

Copia Contributes Towards Subscription Based Digital Learning in Australia


Copia hails itself as one of the best known names in the field of digital classroom solutions, and has announced its association with the LearningField project in Australia that aims to provide a complete digital makeover to education in that country. Led by Copyright Agency (described in Wikipedia as “an Australian company incorporated under the Corporations Code for the purpose of providing institutions, especially educational institutions the use of copyright material, in print or electronic form”), LearningField also enjoys the backing of several industrial houses in Australia and is targeted at students aged 7-10.

“LearningField is like the 'Spotify' for secondary education, allowing teachers to tailor exactly the content they want to the specific needs of their students, as they can select any chapter of any text in the catalogue,” explained Ben Heuston, director of LearningField. “We have achieved the delicate balance of a model that is flexible and affordable for schools, while ushering in exciting, new revenue models for publishers in the digital age.”

The entire project is built around a per-student based subscription model comprising of two tiers, $160 which covers the subjects of English, Mathematics, Science, History and Geography, and $250 that covers all 45 subjects. Both the teacher and the student will have at their disposal the entire course material that has been designed as per the Australian, New South Wales, and Victorian curricula. The course material has been devised with input from various publishers which includes Cambridge University Press, Wiley, Oxford University Press, Pearson, and Cengage.

Some of the inherent advantages of the LearningField project are that teachers will have complete control over the entire process, be it assigning texts and assignments or keeping track of student progress. Students will have a lot of tools to draw upon, which will help them to engage in group studies or consulting with their teachers, even in private.

“A Copia-powered LearningField can be a model for integrating technology, education and publishing around the world,” said Ben Lowinger, executive vice president of Copia. “This initiative creates an environment that provides personalized differentiation to enable meaningful instruction for students at various learning levels. Combined with immediate access to a broad selection of relevant materials from the leading educational publishers, Australian secondary school educators using LearningField will be the first in the world to use this innovative platform. Copia is excited to be part of such a forward-thinking approach.”

“Schools have been hoping for a 'one stop shop' across multiple resource providers that works on multiple devices,” said Mark O'Neil, executive director of Cambridge University Press. “We currently provide 72 titles to LearningField, a ground-breaking solution that meets the digital needs identified by some of our customers.”

Copia Contributes Towards Subscription Based Digital Learning in Australia is a post from: E-Reader News

Disney Launches Interactive Storytelling Apps For Kids At Google Play Store


Disney Publishing Worldwide today announced the launch of their story telling apps on the Google Play Store, paving the way for the apps to be available to Android users. As of now, there will be eight apps that will debut at the Google Play Store though more apps from  the Walt Disney Company's franchises will be made available in due time.

“This launch is a natural next step for us given the rising popularity of Android tablets and smartphones among families around the world,” said Andrew Sugerman, executive vice president, Disney Publishing Worldwide. “We are excited to bring the magic of Disney storytelling to life on Google Play and add it to our growing portfolio of apps for smartphones and tablets that inspire and entertain families in the way only Disney can.”

Among the apps that will make their debut are Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Paint & Play, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Wildlife Count Along, Minnie Bow Maker, and Disney Princess: Story Theater. All of these apps let kids not only enjoy the apps but also get involved by reading, playing, and creating with the characters they love.

Users get to “enjoy interactive storytelling from Disney, including digital storybook, activity, and creativity apps that invite families to read, play, and create with characters they know and love,” the company press release stated.

Disney Launches Interactive Storytelling Apps For Kids At Google Play Store is a post from: E-Reader News