Aptara, a long-time to the global digital publishing community, sent representatives to speak before a US trade committee last week about the vital need for digitization in US schools. Citing everything from cost to the Common Core standards, the company outlined the issues that digital can effectively address.
"Education is the greatest growth opportunity in the digital publishing industry," said Aptara's Pavan Arora, quoting CEO Dev Ganesan in his testimony. "For example, eTextbooks with videos, common core interactive lessons, and self-testing engages and brings content closer to how humans naturally learn – through seeing and doing. Policy cannot revolutionize education alone, but teachers, students and eBooks can."
Aptara’s Senior Vice President of Digital Solutions Sriram Panchanathan spoke with Good e-Reader this week at the Frankfurt Book Fair about the presentation, and about what it will take for fully digitized classrooms to become a reality in all fifty US states.
“At Aptara, we take content and put it in e-form. We have to get ebooks and e-readers, basically the whole ecosystem into schools. There are actually several ways we’re doing it, one way is we work with companies like Inkling who are already in the space as content creators. There’s also government non-profit agencies and we’re already working with some of these entities.”
One of the first obstacles to this kind of initiative–at least at the public school level–is adequate technology education for teachers in order to prepare them for their roles as digital facilitators. This type of training has to begin at the teacher-education level, and carry on in the professional development sphere at the school level.
“That is kind of a chicken-and-egg situation, so it’s not just putting out a textbooks, but it’s also putting out digital teaching aides. There’s also the larger problem of how do you use technology in teaching effectively? That’s a basic training that has to come across the board, and there’s an opportunity for someone to come in and train teachers.”
But what many outside the US are not familiar with is the state-centric formation of US education. While there are funding sources and legal decisions that are handed down from the federal level, most curricular and instructional decisions are made at the state government level. Different states have different budgets, too, meaning that a uniform technology policy determined at the federal level can’t be effective unless uniform funding goes with it.
Friday, October 11, 2013
New York Comic Con is this weekend, and with all eyes on the second-biggest comic con in the U.S., the publishers are busting out some great sales.
ComiXology has a serious deal on The Walking Dead: The first 114 issues are 99 cents each, or buy ‘em all for $99.99. That brings you right up to date, as #115 came out this week. Graphic novels are marked down to $4.99 (for volume 1) or $5.99. The sale runs through the holiday weekend and ends on Monday evening, but you might want to shop a bit early so you’ll have time to read all those comics.
If you’re in more of a classic superhero mood, check out their sale on Walter Simonson’s Thor comics, also priced at 99 cents an issue. That sale runs through Sunday.
The third sale on comiXology is Kill Shakespeare, which pits the heroes of Shakespeare’s plays against the villains. If you liked Fables, or Shakespeare, then this is a good choice. Check it out at $3.99 for the graphic novels or 99 cents for single issues.
This week’s deals on Amazon include their own Walking Dead sale, with all the collected editions priced at $5.99 or less. You can also pick up Astonishing X-Men: Gifted, vol. 1, by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, for $3.99, the Dilbert book Your New Job Title Is Apprentice for $1.99, or the gag cartoon book Cat Versus Human, also for $1.99. If you’d like to do a bit of reading about comics, here are two more $1.99 books: The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines, by Mike Madrid, and Al Jaffee’s Mad Life: A Biography, by Mary-Lou Weisman and Al Jaffee.
And Dark Horse has just put a ton of fun comics on sale for 99 cents, including the first issues of Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT and Brian Wood’s back-to-basics Star Wars comic, as well as issue #0 of Francesco Francavilla’s Black Beetle.
Finally, Digital Manga has special sale this weekend: Enter the code WEEKEND when purchasing manga from their eManga store to get 15% off an order of $20 or more.
Digital Comics Bargains: The Walking Dead Are Here! is a post from: E-Reader News
Amazon has just released the second generation Kindle Paperwhite 2 e-reader and the big hyping factors about this unit is the software. The hardware remains the same from the first generation reader with the addition of e-Ink Carta display screen, which gives a higher degree of contrast with the text. You will also notice less full page refreshes, which makes shopping and turning eBook pages lightning fast.
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2 features a six inch e-Ink display screen with a resolution of 1024×768. The front-lit display has received a small upgrade and gives a better illumination experience then the previous model. One of the neat little features is a software enhancement called “Max” which instantly brings the brightness level to the maximum. When we compared this reader against the new Kobo Aura, it seemed to play second fiddle against against it.
Overall the touchscreen is more responsive and text has higher contrast to make text more legible. This is most noticeable on the homscreen when you are sweeping through the eBooks Amazon is trying to sell you. There is less flickering, which makes it a little more more responsive.
Underneath the hood is a 800 MHZ processor and 256 MB of RAM. There is 2 GB of internal storage and the majority of your content will be held in the cloud. Amazon has never included a Micro SD as an avenue to manually expand your memory. During our review session, we were actually having having storage issues with a three larger PDF files and a number of sideloaded eBooks.
The back of the device says Amazon, instead of Kindle. I noticed that it tends to get oily from fingerprints rather easy because the back is not textured like Kobo’s e-Readers.
You will gain around two solid months of battery life with WIFI on, and using the front-light. Amazon has boosted up the software side of things in order to maintain it for longer reading sessions.
The main user interface is exactly the same when compared directly to the first generation Kindle Paperwhite. Amazon has promised two new software enhancements that will be released via a firmware update within the next month. The first is GoodReads integration, that will allow users to participate in the digital reading community, rate and review books and talk with their favorite authors. The second is Kindle Freetime which provides a valuable tool for parents to limit how long their kids can use the device and configure properties on what they can access, and that they can’t.
There are a ton of different e-Readers on the market right now, and they seem to only be as good as the bookstore. Amazon now has around 2.1 million titles available in almost 16 different languages. You can access fan-fiction from Kindle Worlds, or read a brief Kindle Single. There are also plenty of newspapers, magazines and graphic novels to download too.
When you are reading newspapers there is actually a fairly cool feature to save them as clips. You can then turn your various clippings into an eBook, which makes organization a little bit more relevant.
One of the big new features is called Vocabulary builder. Any singular word you highlight will be placed in this folder accessed from the settings menu. Each word when you click on it will give you the dictionary definition and usage. The usage aspect is very interesting because instead of using the standard thesaurus, it will use the usage from the book you are reading. If you have a bunch of Vocabulary words, you can make Flashcards out of them, and have a virtual slideshow of all your words. This is useful for academic textbooks, bookclubs and a myriad of other practical uses.
The Kindle Paperwhite 2 has certainly stepped up its game against the competition and has slowly refined its entire e-reading experience. You can buy books or load them on the device yourself and still have access to the dictionary, highlights, annotations, translations and font enhancements. What impressed me, was the ability to do this all with PDF files. Normally PDF files are somewhat limited in what you can do with them on the vast majority of e-readers, but Kindle really makes the entire augmentation process easy.
All books you purchase from Amazon come with the X-Ray feature. This gives you a listing of all the people, places and things in a book. It will reference how often they are mentioned in the book and by who. If you are unfamiliar with certain terms, you can easily look them up. Unfortunately, this feature is unavailable with books you downloaded from the internet and are only applicable to books bought directly from Amazon.
When reading a book you have a number of enhancement options to change the font, size of the text, margins and line spacing. All of these settings do not over complicate the entire process and makes it rather simple to customize the reading experience to your liking.
One of the best aspects of the Kindle Paperwhite 2 is the overall PDF experience. As I mentioned, you can translate and take notes right on them. You can also double tap to enter a special reflow mode, which smartphone and tablet owners will find fairly intuitive. The pinching and zooming functionality is also fairly robust, but not as solid as with the Sony PRS-T3. One of the drawbacks is the absence of the preview pane when navigating a PDF while being zoomed. This is something that both Kobo and Sony have always done very well, and helps orient you on where you are at on the page.
The Kindle Paperwhite 2 does not reinvent the wheel in terms of the overall hardware experience. The vast majority of new features is via the software.
I dig the fact that you can translate words into complex Chinese characters, which bodes well for the feature of KF8 and the ability to read graphic novels, manga and comics. I also am impressed with the “Clipping” feature, which compiles newspaper articles into a singular eBook.
There are a number of drawbacks such as the lack of expandable memory and no options to buy higher tier models with more memory. I also lament that borrowing books from Overdrive is a bit over complicated, since you need to rely on a PC to send them over. Finally, you cannot shop with other bookstores, as Amazon has its own proprietary eBook formats.
Memory tends to fill up fast
The Trekstor Pyrus 2 e-Reader arrived at the Frankfurt Book Fair and Good e-Reader was live on the scene to preview the latest generation device to be shipped within the next few months. This e-Reader is a bit more solid then the companies prior offerings and has a legitimate e-Ink display.
The Pyrus 2 features a six inch e-ink display screen with a resolution of 800×600. There is no touchscreen at all on this device and you will have to make do with the physical buttons. It also has built in LED lights to allow you to read int he dark. Speaking of reading, there is no WIFI, so you will have to download books from the internet and load them in yourself. This e-reader should be hitting the market soon for around $79 Euros.
Since 2007, UK-based cloud publishing support provider YUDU has been offering solutions for a wide variety of content creators in the digital sphere, creating both web-based and app solutions for their clients. But one running theme at this year’s event is the shift towards a more user-friendly and publisher-focused platform, changes that have been incorporated from a wide variety of digital companies. Good e-Reader caught up with YUDU at this week’s Frankfurt Book Fair and spoke with Charlie Stephenson and Laura Austin about some of the recent changes that have taken place within the company.
“We’re talking about the revamp of the publisher, rebranding the YUDU publisher as YUDU Pro, the self-publishing platform that we’ve launched and that has been used by different industries,” explained Stephenson, product manager for YUDU. “The interface is a migration for our back end clients who use it for digital publishing, for a simpler interface. The framework is still the same, but it includes the new featuresn such as read-aloud technology, the voice recording technology, all built into the platform in the last month. We’re migrating all of our customers to the new interface by December.”
“All they need to do is log in to the new platform and they’ll find all their features, there’s no sort of registration,” stated Austin, YUDU’s marketing manager.
“Our system adjusts to PDF, and we’ve built in tools to enhance the PDF in the cloud,” continued Stephenson. “That’s the work flow that lets you create a PDF from work flow tools and to create digital designs. A lot of our clients are designing for the iPad screen sizes, then adding in HTML5 to improve the reading experience and make it more interesting. It’s all done in the cloud, and then they can immediately publish.”
YUDU can build the app for their clients in the initial stages, or clients can publish immediately cross platform to their existing apps. One of the new features that really helps out the clients is the in-app editor that lets them see the final product on screen before they see it.
“We’re working with quite a few educational publishers at the moment,” said Autsin, “which enables them to use our software to incorporate extra features like note taking and highlighting to generate textbooks. And we’ve just launched a new feature which is a read-aloud, so students can actually highlight text and record their voice.” This feature is especially important for language learners and low-reading proficiency students.
A large number of digital solutions providers have taken a strong look at their platforms and worked to make them more user-friendly for a broader audience in the past year. This type of revamp goes to show that digital publishing is an endeavor that more and more companies are attempting, and are looking for streamlined systems to make it happen.
Forget the cutting edge of innovation…Sourcebooks sharpens that edge on a daily basis. With everything from offering up one of its bestselling titles for free to OverDrive for the Big Library Read, to the creation of the Put Me in the Story platform that they opened up to other publishers to use, Sourcebooks constantly reshapes the very image of publishing.
Today, the company sat down with Good e-Reader at the Frankfurt Book Fair to talk about the deal it had established with social shopping site Living Social, a process that was three years in the making, to make one of its titles available at a steep discount. This marks a new avenue in publishers offering content directly to consumers without going through a retailer.
“We had an incredible day yesterday,” explained Lyron Bennett, Business Manager for Put Me in the Story at Sourcebooks, “we had our first promotion with Living Social, with almost 2900 books in a day. But we’re just getting started with it. It’s one book in one promotion, for twelve days. This is a three year endeavor that is finally salable and moving. Dominique [Raccah] endorsed the idea, which is what makes us Sourcebooks. That really is a hallmark of this company.”
The Put Me in the Story platform, launched around this time last year, allows users to incorporate the name and photo of a child in the digital picture book, as well as create a print edition as a keepsake. The deal on social site Living Social actually offers the book to members for almost a 50% discount.
“What started as an app has become an e-commerce platform and we’re looking to build an ecosystem. I want to create something that is publisher and author-friendly, that is powerful, and that is non-replicable and engages everyone in supported self-expression. It’s something authors can be proud their work is on. In all of the other facets of where words live, it’s a big idea.”
The Put Me in the Story titles I Love You So, Happy Birthday, and If I Could Keep You Little are available now through the Living Social platform, and can be found HERE.
Sourcebooks, Living Social Launch Book Deal for Readers is a post from: E-Reader News
For so many consumers, it’s a given that turning on a mobile device will equate to the ability to find engaging content to use, especially in educational and academic publishing. But without really giving a lot of thought to how that content landed on a personal use device, many consumers may be unaware of not only the technology companies who make the content happen, but also the inner workings of innovation involved. SPi Global, a digital publishing solutions provider, sat down at this week’s Frankfurt Book Fair to explain to Good e-Reader what many in the industry may need to understand about content delivery.
“We’re a support organization, one of the largest support organizations in the world,” explained John Wheeler, senior vice president of strategy, emerging technologies, and content solutions for SPi Global. “We have about 19,000 people worldwide, about 8,000 of which are concentrated in the content solutions business. Our service base includes science, technical, and medical publishers, educational publishers, and trade and journal publications. What we’re finding, especially in the educational world, is there’s a huge change in the digital realm where they’re looking at how do they leverage digital products and digital delivery devices to better deliver their products. And how are they changing their products because of the demand of these delivery platforms and of the changing demands of the marketplace. We’re seeing a fairly wholesale move across the educational world from books and chapters to more of a learning outcome scenario. We’re developing content around a specific learning outcome, how can you make sure that you teach something and test that it’s been taught adequately? How can you continue to improve what it is that’s being taught?”
“I think it’s been driven a lot by the technology, it’s been driven a lot by the financial problems especially in American schools–and when I say that I mean there hasn’t been money for textbooks–has caused a lot of the school districts and administrations to take a good look at how they’re spending money and what they’re actually getting for the money they spent. That’s one of the drivers of Common Core. They’re taking a good look at what needs to be taught, how can we guarantee that it’s being taught, and how can we assess that it’s been taught. It’s really caused our publishing partners to take a good, hard look from inception through delivery at how we’re producing content.”
Of course, one of the major focuses of digital publishing in the educational arena is cost, and what factors drive that cost. So how far away are we from the days when a school just has to purchase an update to a digital textbook, rather than a new title?
“For schools, it’s an attractive model, and it’s just going to take the publishers a cycle or two to figure out how to fill that niche and how to fill it in a way that doesn’t completely cannibalize their traditional sales. They’re going to have to adapt in that way.”
The Bangalore based e-commerce company Flipkart started the concept of gifting books for this festive season here in India. The company feels this will herald a new era in a country where gifting books is yet to pick up. Anil Goteti, Director (Retail) of Flipkart, also feels gifting books can come in handy at a time when festive buying has been somewhat marred by the economic downturn prevailing in the country. Gifting books makes for a cheaper alternative while still offering a high “novelty factor.” The relevant page has already gone live at Flipkart, where discounts as high as 60 percent are currently available on bestsellers.
"Occasion-led gifting during Christmas is very popular in the US. We want to pioneer that culture in India," said Goteti while claiming Indians are far behind Americans in their reading habits, with it being just about one-tenth of that prevalence in the US.
Flipkart is among the largest online portals in India and wants to be to India what Amazon is to the world. It has put a lot of emphasis on its book business after the arrival of Amazon in the Indian e-commerce sector. The company adds thousands of books to its store every month and is also targeting first time readers from smaller cities and towns to push sales. According to Goteti, the book business in India is worth around ₹800 to 1,000 crores. Books already feature among the top three categories for the retailer throughout the country, where it controls close to 45 percent of the market in volume terms.
In its bid to boost book sales, Flipkart also launched a meet-the-author program where buyers can engage in a live chat session with the author. The retailer started with its ebook business in December 2012, and has already launched an e-platform as a medium to encourage authors to publish their works.
The Queen has expressed her anguish over the rising tendency among kids to be attracted more to ebook and playing games rather than reading real books. The queen’s concerns over the changing trend is understandable, now that she also has to assume the role of being a grandmother as well as a great-grandmother. However, the change is hardly surprising in the digital age that we live in where kids as young as just two years old have shown proficiency in handling tablet devices.
In an earlier survey, 38 and 61 percent of two- and three-year-olds respectively have shown a greater affinity to reading and learning via iPad. In another survey, about four percent of kids under three in the UK have been found to have a tablet exclusive to them, a figure which doubles to eight percent for three-year-olds. The figure is even higher at 19 percent for kids aged around 4 years. However, notwithstanding the rising popularity for tablet devices among children, a survey conducted by the National Literacy Trust has a rather gloomy forecast for the future, claiming those who are more prone to read off a screen have been found to possess weaker literacy skills.
What also can’t be ignored is the fact that the same tablet that the kids use to read books also serves as the device to watch videos or play games. The latter aspects definitely add to the distractions that children face while reading, something that is non-existent as long as they are reading printed books.
However, Viv Bird, the Chief Executive of Booktrust of which the Queen's daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cornwall, is a patron, is not too averse to the idea of children getting increasingly addicted to digital books.
“We feel that the important point is that children read, rather than how they go about doing so.
“Digital books are valuable as they offer an opportunity to engage new generations of readers – we have recently published a list of the best 100 books to read before the age of 14, many of which are now available digitally.
“We feel that children should be given the choice. Let's give them both of these fantastic options to pick from and get them reading,” said Viv Bird.
The queen made the above comments while presenting an MBE to author Joanne Harris for her contribution to literature.
Off late, there have been a lot of efforts to getting people attracted to ebooks. B&N earlier launched the Get London Reading campaign, where publishers donated ebooks in order to make reading more affordable and accessible to the masses.
|Late last night a shipping notice turned up in my inbox for the 7″ Kindle Fire HDX. The device is scheduled to show up Monday the 14th. I was surprised to see a shipping notice so soon because when I placed the pre-order it said the estimated delivery date would be between Thursday, October 24 […]|
Online piracy has proved to be a bane of self-published authors as much as it is for almost any digital content be it music, films, software and so on. fortunately, its not a one sided affair thanks to the efforts of London based company that has launched the new MUSO anti piracy browser plugin that is designed to track down illegal copies of the original work.
One of the inherent benefits of the MUSO plug-in is that it works 24X7 and scans billions of web sites in its search for illegal copies. The system sends back the website links to its own central database once it comes across a site linking to an illegal content. Users also need not fear about chances of the software collecting any of the personal data of the users or prying on their web browsing trend.
“A key area of anti-piracy is to constantly be seeking out the hottest new illegal file sharing sites. While we already automate this discovery process, in addition to crowd-sourcing this data from our users, this plug-in would take this crowd-sourcing process to the next level,” exclaims James Mason, the Technical director of MUSO.
With this being its central theme of operations, it's hardly surprising for the application to come to the rescue to the hundreds of self published authors who needed a way to secure their online content. The company already counts among its clients such names as Melissa Marr (writer of Wicked Lovely and Graveminder) and Shiloh Walker (author of Fragile and If You Hear Her), as well as major publishing companies such as Meulenhoff and INscribe Digital who rely on MUSO to tackle piracy.
The results has been encouraging too, with 'Marr having seen 946 illegal copies of her books removed from torrents and cyberlockers, and a further 883 removed from Google, whilst Walker saw 826 illegal copies of her books removed from torrents and cyberlockers, with 398 also removed from Google.'
Online piracy has always been a hot topic of discussion thanks to those who oppose and support the trend.
Carrie Anne Philbin is the teacher we all wish we’d had. If you’ve been intrigued by the addition of Dr Sam Aaron’s Sonic Pi to the latest Raspbian update, Carrie Anne’s here to walk you through getting started.
Carrie Anne (who was this year’s London Digital Hero award winner for her work on the Geek Gurl Diaries YouTube series, which you should go and check out immediately if you’ve not seen it before) has also written a comprehensive set of teaching materials and an entire Key Stage 3 scheme of work, which you can find at the Sonic Pi site. We really recommend you have a play with Sonic Pi, which you’ll find under the Programming option on the main menu in Raspbian. It’s an amazingly intuitive way to introduce kids (and adults) to key computing concepts (loops, algorithms, sequencing, conditionals – you name it, you’ll be using them) without having to spell these concepts out: as far as the kid sitting in front of the Pi is concerned, she’s just building a synthesiser and using it to make music. She’ll find she’s learned about loops, algorithms other fundamentals of computing as a side-effect.
Here’s Sam, talking about Sonic Pi at this year’s Campus Party London.
In case you hadn’t guessed, we’re extraordinarily excited about Sonic Pi. If you haven’t tried it out yet, go and have a play: you never know. You might find you have hidden talents!
Trade events such as the Frankfurt Book Fair showcase not only the mainstays of the publishing industry, but also offer a launching pad for startups to demonstrate what they do. Part of the interest in these events stems from watching the growth and development of these companies, and seeing how they evolve to fit a new and constantly changing concept like digital publishing. One such company is Flipick, who first spoke with Good e-Reader at the February 2013 Tools of Change conference. They sat down again this week to talk about their evolution as a publishing solution.
"Since February, we've slightly revised what we do. We came out of beta in June or July, and what we're now doing is we've changed our website and we've changed it from a self-service solution to a full-service solution. Whereas before for the conversion side the users used to download the plug-ins, do everything themselves, upload the book, a lot of the time there were small issues with the book and the users didn't know what to do, so they left it.
"What we're doing now, is basically we're not giving the option to try to do the conversion online. You can still use the plug-ins to do all your widgets, do all your interactivity, however you then send us the packaged design file. We will still use the same technology to do all the conversion. And as part of the package, we add two hours of Q&A. So we will actually look at your original book and look at the final output, and make any small adjustments to make it better."
One of the immediate concerns from February was the limitations of file types that Flipick could accept, as well as the function of the company which basically required publishers to have their own in-house design teams to create the files for Flipick. Now, that conversion and development is in Flipick's hands, leaving the content creators to simply hand over their content to the design team for further development.
"One thing we now do is offer a design service called straight from print for a tablet. What we now do is the design work, which we call Designed for Tablets (DFT) and Enhanced for Tablets (EFT). Which basically means we redesign your book for one of the tablets devices. No more zooming, it's more immersive, it's designed to work and be user-friendly. The difference for DFT and EFT is that the EFT has more interactivity, video, audio, hotspots, and pop-ups."
Now, content creators send their material to Flipick's design team in either InDesign, Quark, or PDF, and the production team creates the final product based on the design team's specifications. Flipick is also offering a complete publishing solution with a fully active online ebook store, which launched this week, as well as an aggregator store which mainly sells in the education markets in India.