Amazon recently held a very exclusive unveiling of their new Kindle Fire product line and one of the things they hyped up was Quiet Time. This is a new feature that seeks to eliminate the distraction from reading on a tablet by suspending the radios, pausing app notifications and stopping nagging popups. Many tech analysts were enamored with Quiet Time, but it could quite possibly be in violation of patents owned by Kobo.
In August Kobo unveiled a new feature for their new line of HD tablets called Reading Mode. Reading Mode is a new option that will see the light of day when the new Kobo Arc HD 10 and HD 7 are launched this October. It basically is a setting that you can turn on and will eliminate all notifications you would normally receive on your device. This really solves the problem of being distracted on your tablet while you are reading a magazine, eBook or graphic novel.
Kobo CEO Michael Sarbanes at their product launch event mentioned the company has a number of patents for Reading Mode. Good e-Reader Research has found three patents that are applicable. The first is the user experience of reading mode – including the minimization of ambient influences to provide a more conducive reading environment. The second is launching of reading mode and the last book read to reinforce reading-first application/use. The last and most important is distraction free reading which includes the customization of settings for an uninterrupted, optimized reading experience such as – muting sounds, reducing screen brightness, disable radios, adjusting fonts, margins, etc.
Amazon Quiet Time may possibly be in violation of Kobo Reading Mode and so far both companies remain silent on this matter. After looking at many of the screenshots and samples of the features on the Amazon tablets it looks very much the same as what Kobo did first. To date, Kobo has never instigated a lawsuit, but has been in court over a number of issues, including the exclusivity clause in the contract with Borders when it filed for bankruptcy.
It will be very interesting to see how this plays out and if Amazon will engage in licensing to Kobo. If this does result in a prospective lawsuit, Kobo has fairly deep pockets to make a go of it by way of Rakuten.
Monday, September 30, 2013
One of the areas we’re putting a lot of work into is XBMC performance – we’ve been a bit shocked on working through some data* to find that the Pi now appears to have more XBMC users than any other platform in the world, bar the PC (we’ve overtaken cracked Apple TV 2s), and we want to make sure you have the best possible experience with the software.
(If you’ve started reading this and don’t understand a word of that first paragraph, head over to XBMC’s website to find out what XBMC is, what a media centre is and why you might want one, and then come back here.)
Dom Cobley and Ben Avison have been working on the platform for us, and the results so far are pretty impressive: video playback has always been good, but they’ve really tidied up the user experience in the menu in particular, and browsing through your media collection, even if it’s as big as Dom’s, is now much smoother and faster.
We’ve seen people online (particularly over on the XBMC forums – and particularly particularly in response to posts asking for recommendations for cheap XBMC platforms) calling Pi users fanbois, and announcing that the Pi is too laggy to be a real media player. That’s just not the case. If you’re running the latest firmware, XBMC on the Pi is more than useable: it’s something you can happily use as your main HTPC. Dom made this video so that when challenged, he and other XBMC users can demonstrate when asked that actually, the Pi’s pretty good at this stuff. He says: ”I’d quite like the laggy complainers to have something concrete to look at and admit either ‘actually it’s better than I thought’, or admit they are speed freaks who need desktop PC class equipment.” Here it is.
What you’re seeing here is OpenELEC with some performance patches Dom is currently working on, along with some other patches from Ben. We expect to see these patches appear in the standard OpenELEC and RaspBMC very soon. Those of you who are feeling brave can get Dom and Ben’s code – which is currently in beta – here. While it isn’t stable yet (we expect it to be very, very shortly) it gives you a very good idea of where we’re going with this. Enjoy!
*If you’re trying to interpret the linked data and figure out where we got that statistic from, it’s helpful to understand that XBMC/12.2 Git:20130502-32b1a5e (Linux; Debian GNU/Linux 7.0 (wheezy); 3.6.11 ARMv6l; http://www.xbmc.org) represents Raspberry Pis running RaspBMC, and the dozens of other ARMv6l platforms are OpenELEC on the Pi. OpenELEC appears more fragmented, as they tend to use bleeding-edge kernels. (They are on 3.11.1 now.) We don’t believe any other XBMC platforms use ARMv6 (ATV2 is ARMv7).
Technology has permeated almost every sphere of our lives, so it's only natural for kids to be exposed to various electronic gadgets from very early in their lives. This technology penetration, along with their natural inquisitiveness and the ease of use of tablet devices, has ensured kids are taking to devices from a fairly young age. A recent finding by the UK-based retailer Tesco has some figures to prove it.
In a survey that involved around 1000 respondents, 26 percent of kids as young as three have exhibited tablet usage skills of varying degrees; 56 percent of children across all age groups have said they depend on tablet devices as part of their educational efforts. About 44 percent have said they use the tablet to watch TV shows, while 38 percent favor the device for listening to music. Similarly, 32 percent use the tablet primarily to keep in touch. In what should be least surprising, 81 percent have admitted to using the tablet device for playing games.
Tablet devices have come to represent the biggest change the entire personal computing segment has witnessed in a long time. They have come to symbolize what users perhaps have always wanted, a compact and portable device that is fast enough to allow for everyday computing requirements. It's something that they can carry with them and use whenever needed.
Tesco conducted the review which isn’t surprising considering that the grocery store now has a tablet device of its own to offer. Named Hudi, the device has already earned positive reviews and is projected as a viable competitor to the Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire; its popularity may also be due to its price tag of just £ 119.
Barnes and Noble has just hired a new head of Nook Media Operations and hopefully a fresh new face will save the ailing brand. The company said Mahesh Veerina will become Chief Operating Officer on October 7th.
In his new role, Mr. Veerina will oversee all of NOOK Media operations, including Software Engineering, Hardware Engineering, IT, Digital Services, Device Operations, Research & Development, Device Product Management, and User Interaction & Design.
Barnes and Noble actually hired another person to join the Nook Media team as well. Doug Carlson will assume the role of Executive Vice President of Digital Content and Marketing, effective immediately.
"Mahesh and Doug are two highly successful business leaders who together have a wealth of experience in technology, digital content, consumer products, publishing and operations, and have created and grown businesses from the bottom up," said Mr. Huseby. "Mahesh is a proven leader with special expertise in strategic product and market vision, simplifying complex technologies, building world-class teams, developing partnerships and execution. Doug brings to NOOK® a deep background in digital publishing, executive leadership, marketing, sales, finance, operations, strategy, business development and entrepreneurship across a diverse universe of businesses. With these new appointments, I'm confident that we've now structured our business in a way to best position us for success."
Another school year is underway, and the kids are getting back into the classroom routine, maybe visiting the school library – or even better – the OverDrive-powered School Digital Library (SDL) site. The SDL platform allows your students to "go" to the library anytime and check out titles for class assignments, research projects, or for their own reading pleasure.
Students can log in with a library card or network credentials, depending upon the authentication setup in place. We are able to send authentication requests to a library's existing ILS (integrated library system) database via SIP2 (Session Initiation Protocol), RPA (Remote Patron Authentication), XML (Extensible Markup Language), EZProxy, or LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol). If these options are not available or suitable for your needs, we also offer our own solution, Library Card Manager. Library Card Manager is an OverDrive-powered authentication system that allows your library to upload a list of library card or student ID numbers. Library Card Manager is popular for its simplicity, while LDAP is catching on due to its additional security as well as the ability to use existing network credentials as a "library card number".
Another useful resource to help you support your students is the OverDrive Test Drive program. With Test Drive, we take the mystery out of the most compatible devices you can use with our services, and help you use those devices as a means of lending titles to users. Many schools are already using Test Drive approved devices like iPads or Chromebooks – Google Chrome OS powered computers that allow students to access books in the OverDrive Read format – to help their students borrow eBooks through their SDL collections. The Test Drive page provides much information for the use and maintenance of the devices, as well as promotional materials to let your users know about the service if you lend devices to students.
Of course, with having devices to lend comes having devices to support, and with Test Drive, we offer the information you need to support those devices. You get the knowledge needed to get the devices setup to use OverDrive materials. There are instructions to clean the devices up after they’ve been returned by students, preventing one kid from using another's Adobe ID or library account to check out books. The program gives you a hand, helping you offer your students the kind of support needed to get them reading.
Are you curious about what other benefits come with being an OverDrive School Download Library partner? Then make sure you check out the Prezi that Account Specialist Melissa Higey put together here, check out our SDL FAQ, and the marketing and outreach materials specifically designed to spread the word about your school's OverDrive School Download Library.
Justin Noszek is a Support Specialist with OverDrive
Whoa. There’s an asteroid named after me!
Amazing xkcd readers Lewis Hulbert and Jordan Zhu noticed that the International Astronomical Union—the organization in charge of official astronomical naming—was taking suggestions for what to name small Solar System objects. They submitted my name for asteroid (4942) 1987 DU6, and it was subsequently renamed 4942 Munroe.
I’m really touched. I spent all weekend telling everyone who wanted to listen (and probably some who didn’t) about the asteroid.
The first thing I did was try to figure out whether 4942 Munroe was big enough to pose a threat to Earth. I was excited to learn that, based on its albedo (brightness), it’s probably about 6-10 kilometers in diameter. That’s comparable in size to the one that killed the dinosaurs—definitely big enough to cause a mass extinction!
4942 Munroe (!!!) is large enough that it would have noticeable gravity, although not much. If you were walking on the surface and you tripped and fell, it’d take you a minute to hit the ground. You could get into orbit around it by traveling at jogging speed, and might even escape its gravity entirely with a good jump.
Thank you so much. This is the coolest thing.
The Book Industry Study Group held its annual meeting last Friday in New York, and the focus of this year’s event was to address some of the many challenges still facing the publishing and bookselling industries now that digital publishing has taken hold. The BISG also introduced its new mission statement, which shifts more attention on digital publishing.
"Book Industry Study Group's mission is to facilitate innovation and shared solutions for the benefit of all companies and practitioners that create, produce and distribute published content, and the organizations that support them."
Among other topics that were highlighted during the meeting, Madeline McIntosh, COO of Penguin Random House, spoke on a panel and discussed some of the difficulties that PRH faces in moving forward with a strong digital platform, namely, fully removing themselves from the Pearson infrastructure. She also spoke about an oft-contested and controversial issue, Penguin’s self-publishing platform Author Solutions. The platform has been vehemently and publicly criticized for its business practices by many outspoken former clients, but McIntosh maintained that Author Solutions does a great job and helps authors reach markets that would have otherwise been unavailable to them.
An additional panel focused on the headway being made in digital textbook publishing, with the concern still being raised that a significant amount of money that students spend on textbooks is still going to the used textbook market. Publishers questioned digital’s place in that market, as well as offered ways to make digital textbooks more valuable to students through more targeted, individualized learning methods.
In the coming year, BISG will host several more conferences as part of its new strategies, some of which include focusing on new subgroups within the BISG to address different issues in publishing. BISG will also be hosting an event one day prior to the 2014 Digital Book World conference in New York, its “Making Information Pay for Higher Education” conference.
|Kobo’s ebook readers have settings for customizing line spacing and margins, but there are annoying limitations at times, especially when it comes to all the wasted space Kobo insists on using at the top and bottom of the screen to display the title of the ebook and the page numbers. The title takes up about […]|
With the advent of digital reading and the popularity of social media interaction with bestselling authors, an interesting phenomenon is taking place. Reading consumers are developing not only a loyal following of their favorite authors, but also developing a measure of brand loyalty to certain publishers. For their part, publishers have responded with shopping websites where readers can purchase digital and print titles, as well as other potential perks like being selected to read content before it is officially released.
Now, UK-based publisher Five Leaves Publications is opening an actual brick-and-mortar bookstore in response to the need for more independent book shops, as well as a way to further the discovery of its client list. This will be the first independent bookstore to open in the store’s area of Nottingham since 2000.
According to a blog post announcing the venture by the publisher, Ross Bradshaw, "Nottinghamshire has a flourishing literature scene, with more professional writers than ever and a very active events programme including the longstanding Lowdham Book Festival which I’ve been involved with since the start. The bookshop will provide another focus and we will work with local and national writers to build the shop’s own programme. The premises became available suddenly and we are working hard to open by mid-November. Several of our own writers and other local publishers are pitching in to help."
While Bradshaw gives credit to other nearby independent booksellers and made mention of ways they can work together to further area literature, no information was discussed as to whether Five Leaves will only stock certain titles. However, limiting access to titles would seem to defeat the purpose of Bradshaw’s new venture, especially considering his interest in furthering books in the community.
Big W, one of the biggest discount retail stores in Australia, has announced they are venturing into the electronic book business as well. They are starting off with a sizable volume of no less than 300,000 titles, and more titles will be added every month. Also, in tune with their overall business theme, Big W is working on low prices to drive their ebook business, with several of the titles to be made available each month at a discounted price of 99 cents or completely free.
Big W has also stated they are banking on content pertaining to their region as a way to differentiate their business model. They hope this will help drive more business against the global retailers such as Apple or Amazon, which the Australian retailer claims is focused more for foreign users. Big W is also pushing more participation of native authors and publishers in its bid to emerge as a viable force when it is selling books focused more on Australian content.
“The eBooks market in Australia is dominated by overseas based companies focused on overseas customers. BIG W eBooks is different – we are an Australian retailer with a focus on the books Australians love, with downloads at Australia’s lowest prices,” said Scott White who is heading the Books division at BIG W.
“The attractiveness of some eBooks is likely to be down to a cringe factor, with more than one-in-ten people admitting they download books because they are more discreet to read than their printed equivalents. The books on offer comply with PDF and e-pub formats and can be downloaded on any ebook reading devices, be it a dedicated e-reader, a tablet or even a smartphone device. Big W has already been into offering the above mentioned devices which include the likes of iPad, Samsung tablets and such and its move to sell ebooks can be seen as a natural progression of their business strategy.
“Many Australians could be forgiven for thinking they were locked into just one provider when downloading their ebook, but that’s not the case and they could be spending more than they have to. At BIG W we offer low cost downloads on almost any device and across a massive range of titles from romance to Australian fiction, autobiographies to thrillers,” said White.
Do we still embrace the Oral Tradition? Oral Tradition is the ancient practice of verbally sharing or "passing down" the cultural beliefs, folktales, stories, and songs of a group from one generation to the next. The passing of story and song while seemingly simple pointed to the intricate customs and conventions of the community, long before reading and writing were practiced societal skills. The storytelling ritual unified the group creating a fellowship among its members. While the oral tradition is a true ancient practice referring to its primitive origin, it is not archaic or obsolete. Like society itself, it has evolved into a custom more fitting of our print centered world, the modern read-aloud.
The popularity of audiobooks with adult listeners confirms the truth about reading aloud; it has merits for all ages. Something wonderful happens when we become engaged with a story. It drives us to emotionally respond without abandon and become a part of that world. The act of listening to a story develops vocabulary and motivates us to learn new facts and concepts. It also builds "a sense of belonging" between the listener and reader. Studies have documented the benefits of the physical closeness between reader and listener resulting in a positive experience for all involved, especially children. So take a moment to reflect on the last time you read aloud to your child in middle school or high school. Embrace this time with them and remember that we are never too old to hear and enjoy a story.
(2013) E.B. White Read-Aloud Medal and Honor Winners for Middle Grade Readers
The Last Dragonslayer (Jasper Fforde) eBook.
The One and Only Ivan: My Story (Katherine Applegate) eBook.
Same Sun Here (House & Vaswani) eBook.
Wonder (R.J. Palacio) eBook.
(2013) Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults
Almost Perfect ( Brian Katcher) eBook and audiobook.
Crusher (Niall Leonard) eBook and audiobook.
The Diviners (Libba Bray) eBook and audiobook.
The Fire Chronicle: The Books of Beginning Series, Book 2 (John Stephens) eBook and audiobook.
Graffiti Moon (Cath Crowley) eBook and audiobook.
I Hunt Killers (Barry Lyga) eBook and audiobook.
Inheritance: Inheritance Cycle Series, Book 4 (Christopher Paolini) eBook and audiobook.
Monstrous Beauty (Elizabeth Fama) audiobook.
Son: The Giver Quartet, Book 4 (Lois Lowry) audiobook.
Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High (Melba Beals) eBook and audiobook.
Words in the Dust (Trent Reedy) audiobook.
Renee Lienhard is a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive