Sunday, September 22, 2013

eBook Review: Stained by Cheryl Rainfield

STAINED_New-Cover-final-med (1)

Verdict: 5 Stars

Cheryl Rainfield has done it again. As one of the powerhouse young adult authors who championed the #YASaves hashtag on Twitter, a cause that was taken up by authors and readers alike who felt that powerful teen literature had helped them survive high school and shaped them into the adults they are today, Rainfield often writes about the characters and topics that teen readers hunger for but that the adults in their lives want to pretend aren’t real.

In this latest work from Rainfield, who has openly shared that her childhood of physical and sexual abuse is a strong motivation for what prompts her to write for young adults, teen Sarah Meadows has lived with taunting, staring, and bullying for a birth mark that covers half of her face. But when she is kidnapped one day on the way home from school, she has to look inside herself and find the courageous person who hides inside her, or risk further torture and death.

As with all of Rainfield’s books, what drives the story isn’t so much the very real circumstances that far too many teens today find themselves in, but the very real characters she creates on the page. All of us can identify with the main and supporting characters in her stories because she knows teenagers and their struggles like virtually no other writer today.

In an interesting aside, Rainfield’s most recent title was basically sent back to the drawing board by book retailers who felt the original cover was too intense for their shelves. Stained has been redesigned, but still contains the same thrilling plot structures and real-life characters that have made Rainfield such a force in young adult literature.

Stained (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) will be available on October 1st from book retailers everywhere.

eBook Review: Stained by Cheryl Rainfield is a post from: E-Reader News

Digital is the New Salvation for European Newspapers


European newspapers have often been shielded by the same issues plaguing their counterparts in North America. State subsidies often keep an unprofitable companies afloat, while advertising revenue continues to dwindle. In France, newspapers received €800 million in state subsidies and tax breaks last year, while tiny Greece boasted about 70 newspapers before the crisis, many fed by ads from state-owned companies.

The system of government subsidies for European newspapers is starting to crumble, as the Euro Zone crisis gains momentum. Last year, France's La Tribune became weekly, while the owner of Spain's El Pais is near insolvent. Dozens of publications in Spain and Greece have folded. In Italy, general advertising spending hit a twenty year low in 2012 and state subsidies have dropped 60% since 2006, while sales of Italian newspapers are down 22% in the last five years. According to an Oxford University study, only 5% of Italian readers have home subscriptions to newspapers in general, compared with 25% in the U.S.

The lack of government funding is prompting the newspaper companies to go digital, but they are very unprepared for this new frontier because they relied on handouts for so long. Writers are being forced to write for the physical and digital brands at the same time, effectively doubling their workflow.

The Wall Street Journal mentioned that “In France, newspapers also have had to play catch-up online, given that overall circulation is down by nearly a third in four years and direct government subsidies to the press are projected to slide 29% by 2015 from their 2010 peak. Le Monde only began merging its online and offline newsrooms last year, after a group of investors—including a tech tycoon—bought control of the paper in a bid to save it from bankruptcy. The problem: Le Monde's website had been owned until late 2011 in a separate joint venture. Now things are speeding up online. Le Monde says it has 120,000 paying online subscribers, and last year clawed to a narrow operating profit.”

The one bright spot in Europe right now is Germany, where newspaper companies often have never received government subsidies and had to remain autonomously profitable. Revenue is down just 10% since 2008, according to the Association of German Newspaper Publishers. Two-thirds of German adults still read print newspapers regularly, and a number of publishers have adopted online paywalls.

At Axel Springer AG, Germany's biggest newspaper company and publisher of mass-market tabloid Bild, digital revenue overtook domestic print revenue last year for the first time, helping the company record its highest profit ever in 2012.

European newspapers in Greece, France, and Italy are in big trouble. The big ones are all owned by wealthy owners more interested in power than profits. State subsidies are drying up and most are ill-prepared to capitalize on digital distribution. For the first time they are being forced to adopt online models and overwork their writing staff to simultaneously publish on both platforms. No one is really happy during this transitional period and the public needs to be educated on exactly what is happening before more newspaper companies fold under the pressure.

Digital is the New Salvation for European Newspapers is a post from: E-Reader News

Valiant Puts 8-Bit Video on the Cover of a Print Comic

Unity 8-bit

We mentioned Valiant the other day, because ComiXology is having a big 99-cent sale on their comics this weekend, to help readers prep for their big Unity crossover event.

Valiant Entertainment is the second coming of a publisher that was, in its time, one of the real innovators in the comics industry, and the new kids (some of whom are actually the old kids doing a second act) have shown they have a trick or two up their sleeve. And this is a clever one: Scan the QR code on the front of the “tech variant” cover of their first crossover comic, Unity #1, and your smartphone will play an 8-bit video that sums up the history of the different characters in vintage video game style. The cover is above, and you can watch the video on their website as well. The video was produced by Cinefix’s 8-Bit Cinema.

This isn’t the first time Valiant has added a digital something extra: The first issue of their first comic, X-O Manowar, had a variant with a QR code that played a speech by the main character, Aric of Dacia. The trick is that if you held your smartphone over the character’s mouth, it looked like he was speaking. They billed it as “the world’s first talking comic book cover.”

The cover is a gimmick, of course, but the Valiant folks are pretty serious about their big crossover: They have lined up a stellar team of writer Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT, Red-Handed) and Doug Braithwaite (Journey into Mystery) for Unity, which makes it worth checking out anyway—the video cover is just the icing on the cake.

Valiant Puts 8-Bit Video on the Cover of a Print Comic is a post from: E-Reader News