Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review of the Icarus Illumina HD eReader

Illumina HD

Icarus has been refining their portfolio of e-readers the past few years and have developed a device that may be their best one yet. It boasts physical buttons, audio compatibilities and a front-lit display for reading in the dark. This model certainly has the hardware going for it, but how about the software and eBook experience? Today, we give you a sense on what this new model brings to the table.



The Illumina HD features a six inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024×758 pixels. It has a front-light built into the top of the bezel and will basically allow you to read in the dark. It has 4 LED lights and distributes light fairly evenly. I was actually quite surprised of the screen display quality while reading in the dark. The one drawback is the way the light controls are handled. You have to hold down on the refresh button and use the left and right D-Pad to turn the levels up or down. Certainly not the most intuitive, where most other devices have a single software feature to do this, an app if you will.

Underneath the hood is a 1 GHZ processor and 512 MB of RAM. You will have 4 GB of internal storage and you can boost it up to 32 GB via the Micro SD. One of the most interesting aspects of this e-reader is the ability to play sound. You can load in your favorite audiobooks and listen to them with your headphones. This is no built in speaker and the music app won’t even open unless you have your cans plugged in. It supports a myriad of formats, including: Flac, AAC, mp3, Wav, WMA, and OGG.

Audio in e-readers has been somewhat of a lost art the last few years, in the past most companies all had speakers or at least a 3.5mm headphone jack. All of them have abandoned this in favor of making lower cost devices in order to compete in the lucrative North American market.

This e-reader really appeals to everyone. If the bulk of your e-reader experience has been spent on older style devices with physical page turn keys and various setting menus, you will feel right at home. There are five different buttons, such as home, settings, refresh and a directional d-Pad. It has page turn buttons on both the left and right hand side, to appease everyone. It also has a touchscreen to appeal to the more modern folk out there, you can basically do everything via the software.

Finally, battery life should last around two full months of constant use and has a fairly small footprint. It stands out in the crowd due to its overall design, but it is a bit larger then the Sony PRS-T3 and Kobo Aura.



Overall, the Icarus is not very complicated. It does not have games or a bunch of superfluous settings. It does support around 14 different languages though, including Arabic and Japanese.

The home screen is mainly comprised of the last book you have added or are in the process of reading. There are mainly lots of menu options here, that are shortcuts to all of the other features on the reader. Recently added, Library, Image, Music, File Manager, Browser, Settings and Manual round off whats there. All of the icons and menu options are all fairly big and bubbly. This is probably to encourage people to interact with the touchscreen and give a wide open area to not accidentally click the wrong thing.

All of the apps are fairly basic, with no expanded features. The audio player simply plays, pauses or stops an audiobook. The web browser does not have any ability to disable Javascript, turn off images or anything like that. The weakest part of this device is the internet browser, Peter and myself gave up after waiting ten minutes for the Google site to open.

On a software level, this is fairly bare bones. All of the apps are extremely basic and offer no options to really configure things the way you want. About the only interesting thing you can do is put a bunch of images on it and use them as the screensaver when it goes into standby mode. It does the job as an e-reader, that’s it.

E-Reading Experience


The Icarus does a very good job in reading PDF files and your standard EPUB. It has plenty of ways to reflow text and change the font sizes to match your needs. It has Adobe Digital Editions support, so you can buy books in other stores and then load them on it.

An e-Reader is basically a collection of books you have, and the ability to soundly manage them is a big deal. In order to really set things up the way that you want, you will have to use Windows Explorer and make directories. There is currently no way to add a book to collection or anything like that. Sure you can sort by title or author, but can get unwieldy if you have over 100 books.

This e-Reader reads a multitude of popular eBook formats such as PDF, FB2, EPUB, RTF, MOBI, TXT, HTM. Your average bookstore online, all sell their content in either PDF or EPUB, so you will have no problem shopping. This is good, because this e-reader does not have a bundled bookstore loaded on it, other then a bookmark to the Project Gutenberg website.

When you are reading an EPUB book, you do have a 16 options to change the size of the font and adjust the margins. When you have found your personal sweet spot you can apply whatever settings you made to all future books you read. There are only five pre-loaded fonts and does not support loading in your own.

PDF support is fairly solid and allows you to strip away all of the images in a document and just reflow the text. It requires some fine-tuning to find the right font size to make sure all of the text displays correctly. You can think of font changing in PDF documents to be the equivalent of zooming and positioning. Sadly, you can’t use the touchscreen to pinch and zoom.

In the end, this e-reader is all about reading books. There are no built in dictionaries to look up words you don’t know. You can’t make highlights, take notes or annotations. There is no Facebook or Social media tied into anything, it is simple, but effective.

Wrap Up

wrap up

This e-Reader is not aimed at advanced users. Most of the popular ones out there from Kobo, Bookeen, Amazon or Nook have a number of enhancements to really change the look and feel of your reading experience. The Icarus appeals towards new users or people upgrading from really old devices.

Something is strangling compelling about a device that has the old school and new school mentality in mind. Audio, physical buttons, a front-lit and touchscreen is something few modern companies have been able to pull off. Icarus has done a tremendous job in giving you a huge bang for your buck and still have a solid e-reading experience.

You can purchase this e-reader today from Icarus authorized North American Dealer, Shop e-Readers.


Physical Buttons
Solid Front-lit
Support for 16 Languages
Good for reading comics and Manga


No advanced e-Reading options
Lack of bookshelf creation and management
Need Adobe Digital Editions to load in books you purchased
Web Browser is a bit broken

Rating: 8/10

Review of the Icarus Illumina HD eReader is a post from: E-Reader News

Brazilian Startup Widbook Confirms Its Participation At The Frankfurt Book Fair


The Brazilian startup company Widbook has announced they will be an exhibitor at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year for the first time ever. The company has stated they will also be taking the opportunity to release what it calls a collaborative ebook that deals with the topic of ebook industry and its future. The ebook draws on the collective inputs of renowned authors and professionals, including Wolfgang Hohlbein, fiction author Jennifer Harden, illustrator Reinhard Kleist, and Julia Friese, all of whom hail from Germany.

“Thought leaders from other countries including Brazil and the United States that have also contributed are: Scott Young and Michael Bungay Stanier – both of whom have collaborated on Behance CEO Scott Belsky’s books; Richard Byrne, an award-winning educator; communications expert James Jay Hawreluk; renowed authors Zuenir Ventura, Eduardo Spohr and Marçal Aquino; storyteller expert Fernando Palacios and others,” announced the company’s press statement.

Widbook can be considered a new comer in the ebook industry, having started operations in 2012. Its primary objective is to save authors from having to deal with literary agents or publishers while allowing them to publish their writings directly for consumption by a world audience. It also has an app in place at the Google Play Store which comes free and already has a member strength of more than 65,000. The one aspect that makes Widbook stand out from the rest of self publishing tools is that it allows authors to collaboratively develop multimedia books. This means that several authors can put their ideas to work and create an ebook, as this the application also includes a chat feature that enables authors to discuss various aspects with other members.

Meanwhile, Goodereader also has an interview scheduled with Widbook at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The fair, which is the largest of its kind in the world, runs from 9-13 October.

Brazilian Startup Widbook Confirms Its Participation At The Frankfurt Book Fair is a post from: E-Reader News

OCR MOOC – new materials now available

A very short, but very important post today (I’d write more, but I have to hop on a plane). As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader, we’ve been supporting the exam board OCR in their production of Cambridge GCSE Computing, a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) for kids and teachers – and everybody else – which is structured around their highly regarded Computing GCSE.

Clive demonstrates some fundamental computing concepts for the MOOC using some sprouts, a few prawns and a blender.

OCR have just released the second phase of development, and there are now 80 videos live on the site, along with supporting materials. This MOOC is still under development, so the final version will not be structured in quite the way you see here (in particular, the videos will be migrated over to a schools-friendly platform later on); but there’s plenty of material for you to work your way through already, and our friends at OCR would love to hear what your thoughts. You can read much more about the project in an article from today’s V3 (just as well, really, given that I have to drive to the airport in a few minutes). Let us know what you think in the comments!

Scholastic’s Storia Digital Reading Platform Wins Parents’ Choice Award


A recent study in the UK that found that children are often less likely to read if given a broad-use device for consuming ebooks was alarming to both parents and educators. Considering the obvious fact that children who don’t read will not make significant gains in reading ability, many felt that digital reading was contributing to a lowering of reading comprehension test results, due to the availability of other forms of entertainment to be had through the device.

One platform designed to combat that concern is the Storia ebook reading platform from Scholastic. Compatible with both PCs and internet-enabled devices, Storia offers select bookshelves for individual readers based on age and interest level, while also offering tools such as a reading timer and parent/teacher tracking options that follow how long the reader interacted with the digital text. Many of the books offered through the Storia platform also include instructional enhancements such as games, activities, vocabulary instruction, and more.

Today, Storia and Scholastic announced that the program has been awarded the 2013 Parents' Choice Silver Honor Award as a top mobile app for children, a distinction given to the top mobile apps for children.

"The Parents' Choice Awards have long been an authority in identifying quality, meaningful products for children. We are honored that Storia has been chosen as a Silver Honor winner this year," said Deborah Forte, Executive Vice President and President, Scholastic Media. "We designed this app to help parents and teachers find the books that interest their kids while helping kids develop a true love of reading, which is always our ultimate goal."

The Storia program comes pre-loaded with five free ebooks for each age level, and the ability to purchase additional high-interest and ability level-guided ebooks from Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher of children’s content.

Scholastic’s Storia Digital Reading Platform Wins Parents’ Choice Award is a post from: E-Reader News

Scribd eBook Subscription Plan Works Across Multiple Devices


In the six years since Trip Adler created a startup called Scribd, something incredible happened for digital publishing and ebooks: publishers finally found models they can work with to support ebook subscription-based reading. When companies like 24Symbols first launched in 2010, publishers were still wary of how their authors were going to be fairly compensated for letting consumers have unlimited access to their books. At that time, many publishers looked at the model and politely declined to include their catalogs in the programs.

Now recent startups like eReatah have found models that actually do have the potential to work, both for readers and for authors and publishers, by removing the all-you-can-eat unlimited concept. But Scribd, which started like as a source for uploading and sharing documents, is currently working to bring back that idea and moving it one step ahead to device neutrality.

In its six years of existence, Scribd has accumulated over 40 million books and documents, but that isn’t enough for a far-reaching ebook subscription service. Consumers want current content, something that publishers are loathe to part with unless they have a guarantee of the compensation involved.

Scribd is utilizing a concept that other services have attempted in the past, namely, the pay as you go reading. While members will still pay their monthly subscription fee, publishers are compensated according to how much of the book was read. This didn’t go over well several years ago, but the industry has grown up a lot since that time. Publishers not only can now see how trustworthy a system that might be, but they have also come to realize the power of consumer sampling. In essence. publishers stand to be paid a small portion when a reader samples the book, but then that reader may go on to purchase the title, basically paying the publisher again. This is especially true for readers who may want to own a particular title that they read under subscription.

Just as publishers have been slow to evolve on acceptance of subscription reading, it would appear that readers have as well. While paying to stream movies or music seems like a commonplace phenomenon, readers who are accustomed to simply borrowing a book are used to getting it free from their public libraries. With so many libraries offering ebook lending and with giants like Amazon offering lending through the Prime membership, it may take readers a while to adapt to subscriptions for books.

Scribd eBook Subscription Plan Works Across Multiple Devices is a post from: E-Reader News

Updated Printable Getting Started Guides

Getting Started Guide now available in the Partner Portal

If your library only prints out one promotional piece for your digital collection, I would encourage you to select our newly created Printable Getting Started Guide. (Although, why would you only want to print one thing from the Partner Portal when there is so much goodness there?)


Those of you who checked out our programming ideas last week got a sneak peek of these materials! This front and back 'Getting Started' flyer explains the basics of your digital collection, a perfect handout for new users! Just customize with your library's digital collection URL and print. That's all there is to it.


Additionally, we've updated the existing device guides and added a few more, including NOOK and Kobo. All materials can be found in the Printable Getting Started Guides zip folder.


These guides are half sheet flyers that print off easily on 8.5″ x 11″ paper, perfect for in-house printing. We also encourage you to take the designs to a local print shop if you would like higher quality production. Another option if you would like these professionally printed, is to order through us. Please contact your Account Specialist or if you are interested in ordering these materials through us.


Cassie Renner is a Marketing Specialist with OverDrive

Aquafadas to Unveil New Digital Publishing Platform at Frankfurt Book Fair

Next week’s Frankfurt Book Fair has a reputation as one of the most not-to-be-missed events in publishing. Though its history goes back decades as a rights’ fair where foreign rights to books were sold, the event has grown to place greater emphasis on digital publishing, enhanced ebooks, self-publishing, and other innovative aspects of the industry.

At this year’s event, digital publishing solutions company Aquafadas will unveil the latest update to its platform, Digital Publishing System 3.0. Features of the new update will include:

  • Publish content on the latest tablets available with newly optimized file formats including: Kindle Format 8 for Amazon Kindle
  • Publish AVE files in an app: Google Play based on Android OS and Amazon App Store based on Android OS
  • Web-Reader: AVE files embedded in a web reader based on Flash
  • Updated version of Adobe InDesign plugin with the new ePUB exports and new Web-Reader, plus new features
  • Brand new version of – new offer also comes with an update of the Aquafadas website including a clear presentation of Aquafadas pricing

According to a press release on the announcement of the new update, “In addition to the technology showcase at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Japanese publishing giant Gakken, and Bayard, a leader in European publishing, will be joining Aquafadas for special demonstrations of their children's books platforms. Bayard's J’aime Lire Store, the number-one children's digital media platform for tablets and computers, was developed in collaboration with Aquafadas. Gakken was inspired by the “kiddies' corner” in the J’aime Lire Store designed for very young readers. The two publishers agreed to combine their editorial experience to achieve one shared ambition: to let children discover the best of editorial creations in digital form.”

Good e-Reader will be covering the interviews and events of next week’s Book Fair live from Frankfurt, including the CONTEC digital conference that kicks off the event.

Aquafadas to Unveil New Digital Publishing Platform at Frankfurt Book Fair is a post from: E-Reader News

3G Kindle Paperwhite 2 Goes up for Pre-Order – Ships November 5th

Pre-orders for the WiFi Kindle Paperwhite 2 started on September 3rd when it was first announced. It started shipping on Monday for those that pre-ordered, and Best Buy has them in stock now as well. Meanwhile if you wanted the 3G version of the Kindle Paperwhite you were out of luck because it has been […]

eBook Reading Trend in Germany, One Out Of Five Have Read An eBook

ebook Germany

A survey conducted by Aris to ascertain the pattern of ebook proliferation in Germany has brought to light some interesting facts. For instance, 21 percent of the German population have ever read an ebook.  The above rate is least surprising considering about three-fourth of the German population reads books. However, the majority at 77 percent of those polled said they read the ebooks on their PCs, notebooks, or netbook devices, while a sizeable 58 percent read them on their smartphones. About 21 percent and 18 percent of the ebook readers claim tablet or e-reader devices as their preferred device for reading ebooks, respectively.

What the survey also revealed is that the younger generation has shown greater affinity towards ebooks, though there is no difference between the sexes when it comes to reading ebooks. Twenty-one percent of females read ebooks, compared to 22 percent of males. From the age perspective, 12 percent above the age of 65 read ebooks. Between the ages of 50 and 64, 19 percent read ebooks, though 25 percent and 26 percent read ebooks in the age group of 14-29 years and 30-49 years, respectively.

As for their buying trends, 62 percent claim to source their ebooks from online stores, while 18 percent procure them from the shops affiliated with their specific devices. A miniscule 8 percent said they prefer buying directly from the author, while an even smaller 6 percent buy them from publishers. Fifteen percent of the readers said they borrow ebooks from public lenders, while 17 percent get them from libraries. The proportion of those who read free ebooks stands at 15 percent.

All of the above facts present a lot of scope for growth in Germany where ebooks were once demonized. Publishers made sure there weren't enough takers for ebooks by pricing them higher than their printed counterparts. Almost a quarter of those polled said they read printed books now but wish to switch over to ebooks in future.

The survey conducted by Aris is on behalf of ICT group Bitkom and involved 2,528 respondents of which 539 have taken to reading ebooks.

eBook Reading Trend in Germany, One Out Of Five Have Read An eBook is a post from: E-Reader News

Adlibris Mondo eBook Store Launches in Sweden


There is a new eBook store in town by the name of Adlibris Mondo. It has burst onto the scene in Sweden this week and finally gives traditional bookstore shoppers an incentive to go digital. You will find all sorts of content here, such as eBooks, audiobooks and e-Singles by Atavist. There are also apps you can download for iOS that will allow you to read or listen to anything you buy.

"There's been no place online that can serve as both a book shelf and a bookstore," says Jonas Olofsson, the manager behind the development of Mondo. "The ambition with Adlibris Mondo is to be the most personal and inspiring store for digital reading, as well as a place for you to collect your reading. A place you can make your own."

If listening to audiobooks are your thing Adlibris Mondo offers you unlimited downloads for a low monthly fee. The first month is free, so you can get a sense of the quantity of the genre that interests you.

Adlibris has been selling eBooks for a number of years and doubled sales in 2012, where it made $2.2 million dollars. Interestingly enough Bookeen licensed out their Cybook Odyssey e-Reader to them in 2012 and they changed the name to the Adlibris Letto.

The first version of the app right now suffers from a multitude of factors. The color scheme is fairly loud and obtrusive and you basically have various shades of Cyan and Grey. The overall design is a bit basic and does not have much customization available for bookshelves or the e-reading experience. Still, it does the job of buying books and reading them in the app.

Adlibris Mondo eBook Store Launches in Sweden is a post from: E-Reader News

New eBook Report Looks at Global Markets in 2013


A very extensive eBook report has been released and takes a look at some of the core and emerging markets. The report offers a status on the US and UK markets as well as close ups on ebook markets as they take shape across Europe, Brazil, China, India, Russia, and in the Arab world.

Thematic chapters focus on critical policy debates and on key driving forces, notably ebook bestsellers and pricing strategies across European markets, self-publishing, regulation, piracy, and the expanding activities of the leading global players such as Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google, and Kobo. Fundamental statistics on the more mature ebook markets in the US and UK serve as benchmarks, to help evaluation data from all other market developments.

The report focuses on the revenue drivers of the publishing world and how much the big companies are cashing in. One of the most interesting aspects is the growth of the emerging eBook subscription models, such as Nubico in Spain, Scoobe in Germany, Youboox in France, Oyster in the US.

You can read the full report HERE.

New eBook Report Looks at Global Markets in 2013 is a post from: E-Reader News