Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hands on Review of the Kobo Arc 7


Kobo has just released the spiritual successor of the Arc tablet released last year. Like any major hardware upgrade you normally see enhanced resolution, a faster processor, more memory and RAM. Truth be told, the Arc 7 is a bit of a downgrade. It has less memory, a woeful webcam and less resolution then the older model. With all of these downsides, is this still a worthy investment or a reason to upgrade?


The Kobo Arc 7 features a seven-inch capacitive LCD touchscreen with a resolution of 1024×600 pixels. Kobo had to sacrifice screen quality to drive down the price, but if you are buying this just to read eBooks, magazines, and newspapers, it should be more than sufficient.

The Kobo Arc HD 7 and the Kobo Arc 10 HD all use an Nvidia Tegra 4 quad core processor, but this model uses a budget-conscious MTK 8125 Quad-Core, 1.2 GHz. processor. Still, the processor really shines when compared to the dual-core processor of the original Arc. There are also 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal memory. One of the great things about this model is that users can expand the memory via the Micro SD card up to an additional 32 GB.

This might not be a full HD tablet, but it does have a Micro HDMI Port, so users can watch movies, play games, or display content on a television or projector. It also has a front facing camera, but has a fairly woeful .03 MP, which is pretty well VGA. You will also glean around 9 hours of battery life with your daily tasks.

There is a single speaker for listening to music, audiobooks, or other content. The Arc HD 7 actually has the speaker on the top of the unit, whereas this model has it at the bottom. In a head to head test vs the upgraded model, this entry level one actually produces better audio, but suffered with the video resolution.

Overall other than the expanded processor this model is a downgrade from the original Arc released last year. The hardware is just not a compelling enough reason to upgrade if you have the older version but is worth it if you have the Vox.



The Kobo Arc 7 features a very modern version of Google Android, with the final device being bundled with 4.2.2. It is also Google Certified, so users will have unfettered access to Google Play and around one million apps.

Some of those apps come bundled on the tablet. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Skype, OfficeSuite Viewer, McAfee, Pocket, Feedly, 7digital, Rdio, TuneIn Radio, Cinema Now, WildTangent (more than 200 games), Google Play, Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Street View, Calendar, Contacts, Google+, and Google Chat are all included.

Kobo has done away with their Tapestries UI they developed last year and went in an entirely new direction. This is where the ARC 7 really shines with a new home screen that gives you live wallpapers and widgets. I like the functionality to include a picture of yourself in the top right hand corner.

The second main screen is your eBook discovery engine and lists a number of books you have purchased, loaded on yourself, eBook samples, top 50 and articles fetched from Pocket. This screen is the most bright and colorful of all the main menus and actually looks visually arresting.

The final menu is your collection management system that really takes it to the next level. Most tablets see managing your eBooks as creating a folder and putting books in it. Kobo has allowed folders within folders and not only puts eBooks in it, but websites, Youtube Videos, Recipes, Pocket Articles and tons more! You can watch videos in one click and establish custom collections if more then one person uses the tablet. Adding everything other than books is really simple. Just fire up the stock internet browser and hit the icon next to the navigation bar. It will give you an option to add to an existing collection or make a new one.

You can access the quintessential list of apps installed on your system by hitting the main app icon. If you have ever used an Android tablet before, you will feel right at home.

Overall the entire skinned version of Android is a tremendous upgrade from the original Arc. It is less prone to crashing and Reading Mode is a huge boost to managing irksome prompts and popups that often detract from the reading experience.

Reading Experience


The bulk of your reading experience out of the box will be via the stock Kobo Android App that is accesses in the Collections menu and under books. You can edit the margins, font size and change the font completely. There are options to change the page animations every time you turn a page. The majority of books you will read here are EPUBS.

One of the big changes in the reading app was the elimination of Kobo Pulse and taking most of the popular aspects from it and launching Beyond the Book. This gives you a rundown of how many people have read or are in the process of reading the book. You can also check out public notes that people have read, that allow you to talk with fellow users. It also gives pictures that tell you a bit about the people, places and things. You can access an author biography or get more info on a particular city, country or region where the book is geographically based. Really, it borrows some elements from Amazon X-Ray and makes it distinctively Kobo.

The comic book engine allows you to read graphic novels and comic books that Kobo sells. This is one of the weak points of the reader and doesn’t go beyond pinching and zooming. If you are a serious reader I suggest downloading a dedicated app such as Comixology or Dark Horse.

Wrap Up


This is the time of year when a slew of new tablets hit the market and people often wonder what one is best. This is one that is firmly aimed at people who want a a multimedia experience but who want to read first and foremost. It lacks in a ton of different regards, but the price point is quite respectable at $129.99.


Innovative UI
Quad-Core Processor keeps things robust
Economically priced
Best eBook Collection Management system found on tablets


Hardware overall is worse then the one released last year
Speaker and Video capabilities lack against the competition
No manage section yet
WIFI can be spotty and not recognize strong local networks
Touchscreen can be unresponsive at times

Rating: 6.5/10


Hands on Review of the Kobo Arc 7 is a post from: E-Reader News

Announcing Next Generation Basics raffle winners


As part of Next Generation Basics, OverDrive presented participants with the chance to win a $500 collection credit for their libraries, some great new devices, and an OverDrive Media Station. We also offered the Super User quiz, an opportunity for partners to test their OverDrive knowledge and earn the Next Generation Basics Super User certificate. And at long last the results are in! Congratulations to all of the winners.


Next Generation Basics raffle winners and Super Users:


OverDrive Media Station raffle: Liz Boston, Timberland Regional Library, Washington


$500 collection credit raffle winners:

  • Daurice Siller, Richland Public Library, Washington
  • Melissa Rice, Frankfort Public Library District, Illinois
  • Nichola Cleaveland, Prince Edward Island Public Library Service, Canada
  • Sabrina Jackson, Murphy Memorial Library, Texas
  • Tom Gashlin, Glover Spencer Memorial Library, Oklahoma


Device raffle winners:

  • Alexis Gaston, eLibaries Manitoba, Canada
  • Beth Bradford, Pekin Public Library, Illinois
  • Betsy Levine Chatham, San Francisco Public Library, California
  • Jay Rancourt, Cook Memorial Library, New Hampshire
  • Jenny Zhou, Chatham-Kent Public Library, Canada
  • Jessie Affelder, Messenger Public Library, Illinois
  • Joanne Harris, Nelson Public Library, Canada
  • Kathleen Connors, Hunterdon County Library, Connecticut
  • Patricia Covley, Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, New York


Next Generation Basics Super Users:

  • Adam Webb, Garland County Library, Arkansas
  • Amanda Smith, Portsmouth Public Library, Ohio
  • Andrea Mullarkey, Berkeley Public Library, California
  • Anita Falltrick, Benicia Public Library, California
  • Anna Kinney, Moreton Bay Region Libraries, Australia
  • Anna Williamson, HB Williams Memorial Library, New Zealand
  • Anne Wachs, Washington-Centerville Public Library, Ohio
  • Barbara Giardina, Onondaga County Public Library, New York
  • Barbara Scott, Surrey County Council, United Kingdom
  • Bernadette McDowell, Ventura County Library, California
  • Beth Pfeiffer, Trinity International University, Illinois
  • Beth Puckett, Monroe1BOCES, New York
  • Beth Walter, Flower Mound Public Library, Texas
  • Brenda Goldy, Camarillo Public Library, California
  • Bryan Rowzee, RCS Community Library, New York
  • Cary Jardine, Keene Public Library, New Hampshire
  • Catherine Les, Sterling Heights Public Library, Michigan
  • Cathy Maher, Lakefield College School, Canada
  • Cindy Ulrey, Spokane County Library District, Washington
  • Craig Fox, Kent Libraries, United Kingdom
  • Criseida Green, Lawrenceburg Public Library District, Indiana
  • Cynthia Blietz, Alsip-Merrionette Park, Illinois
  • Daniel Cornwall, Alaska State Library, Alaska
  • Deb Walsh, Geneva Library, Illinois
  • Debbie Walker, Gadsden Public Library, Alabama
  • Diana Long, Altamonte Springs City Library, Florida
  • Diane Dynan, York County Public Library, VA
  • Elizabeth Ludemann, Morton Grove Public Library, Illinois
  • Eunice Riesberg, NEIBORS, Iowa
  • Gretchen Rings, Oak Park Public Library, Illinois
  • Heather Pehrson, St. Louis County Library, Missouri
  • Heather Rodman, Niagara Falls Public Library, Canada
  • Heidi Schutt, Traverse des Sioux Library Cooperative – Muir Library, Minnesota
  • Jeff Price, Mission Viejo Library, California
  • Jennifer Tucker, Southlake Public Library, Texas
  • Jenny Zhou, Chatham-Kent Public Library, Ontario
  • Jessica Williams, Chester County Library, Pennsylvania
  • John Edwards, Ocean State Libraries, Rhode Island
  • John Larson, Saint Paul Public Library, Minnesota
  • Judy Belanger, St. Charles City-County Library District, Missouri
  • Judy McMakin, Richland Public Library, Washington
  • Julia E. Schult, Baldwinsville Public Library, New York
  • Julia O’Leary, Auckland Libraries, New Zealand
  • Julie Bauer, Loudoun County Public Library, Virginia
  • Julie Haferd, Tiffin-Seneca Public Library, Ohio
  • Julie Holden, Cranston Public Library, Rhode Island
  • Julie Raynor, High Point Public Library, North Carolina
  • Kara Kohn, Pinnacle Digital Consortium, Illinois
  • Karla Perez, St. Charles City-County Library District, Missouri
  • Kate Hammond, The Perkiomen School, Pennsylvania
  • Kayla Morris, Spencer County Public Library, Indiana
  • Kim Koblank, Siouxland Libraries, South Dakota
  • Kim Smith, Monterey Public Library, California
  • Kimberly Hunsicker, Marion Public Library, Ohio
  • Kimberly Porter, Bloomfield-Eastern Greene County Public Library, Indiana
  • Kristina Hoerner, Champaign Public Library, Illinois
  • Laura Coleman, Serra Digital Download Library, California
  • Lauren Stokes,  Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, Nevada
  • LaVerne H. Campbell, Pittsylvania County Public Library, Virginia
  • Linda Rowan, Free Library of Northampton Township, Pennsylvania
  • Liz Boston, Timberland Regional Library, Washington
  • Liz Jones, Washington County Free Library, Maryland
  • Liz Strauss, Dover Public Library, Ohio
  • Lorina Estes, Placer County Library, California
  • Lynn Alayon, Montgomery County Memorial Library System, Texas
  • Maggie Holmes, Richards Memorial Library, Massachusetts
  • Marie Coleman, Lorenzo Walker Technical Campus, Florida
  • Mary Rogers, Trumbull Library System, Connecticut
  • Matt Shaw, Archdale Public Library, North Carolina
  • Meredith McCarthy, Jefferson County Library, Missouri
  • Michelle Little, Hornsby Shire Library & Information Service, Australia
  • Nadine Ginkel, Denver Seminary, Colorado
  • Natalie Arnold, Lower Macungie Library, Pennsylvania
  • Nicole Kramer, Hudson Public Library, Massachusetts
  • Nuala Dundon, Westminster Public Library, Colorado
  • Phyllis Nisle, Buena Park Library, California
  • Renee Zurn, Duluth Public Library, Minnesota
  • Sara Teti, Waukegan Public Library, Illinois
  • Sarah Hawkins, East Central Regional Library, Minnesota
  • Shannon Crary, Hennepin County Library, Minnesota
  • Shaye Caban, Pioneer Library System, Oklahoma
  • Sheri Glon, Kent District Library, Michigan
  • Sophie Walker, Winnipeg Public Library, Canada
  • Stephanie Davis, Wells County Public Library, Indiana
  • Sue Mayshock, James V. Brown Library, Pennsylvania
  • Susan Deschenes, Hollis Social Library, New Hampshire
  • Suzanne Deucher, Indian Prairie Public Library, Illinois
  • Tara Moreno, Mandel Public Library, Florida
  • Tara Murphy, Moreton Bay Region Libraries, Australia
  • Trey Ford, Denton Public Library, Texas
  • Tyler Irvin, Southeastern Libraries Cooperating, Minnesota
  • Wanangwa Dever- Polk County Public Library, North Carolina


NARR8 Launches Web Version: An Exclusive Interview with CEO Maxim Matveyko


The digital comics and e-books platform NARR8 launched last November and has been downloaded 1 million times since then, on iPads, iPhones, Android devices, Facebook, Windows 8 devices, and Kindle Fire. This week, they expanded to the next frontier: The web.

NARR8 offers motion comics and e-books with an interactive component. When I spoke to vice president of business development Darya Trushkina last week, she used the term “gamification,” and that sounds about right: The reader swipes or clicks and the characters move or the scene shifts. In addition, readers can earn in-app currency, called Narrs, which allow them to read more comics (the first two episodes are free, subsequent chapters are not). They can also simply buy Narrs with real money. NARR8 is also encouraging users to submit their own comics to be published on the platform.

I interviewed NARR8 CEO Maxim Matveyko about the web version and how NARR8 is working so far.

You have established NARR8 on a number of mobile platforms. What does a web app add?

By bringing NARR8 to web browsers, we've opened up our app for millions of new users on browser-enabled computers. When we launched on Windows 8 and Facebook, we had amazing results. We also saw that our content looks great not only on mobile devices, but in a browser as well,. That's why we decided to add a Web version. This makes NARR8 an completely multiplatform app available for any audience on any devices. To review, NARR8 is now available on web, Facebook, Windows 8, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Amazon.

Can this app be used on a mobile browser? Is that where you foresee people using it, or is this designed with personal computers in mind?

We developed the web version specifically for PC users—it's optimized for use on computer-based browsers. We've found that mobile browsers didn't give us the user experience we wanted, which is why we've developed separate, standalone app versions of NARR8 for each mobile platform instead.

Will the user experience be different from an app?

Users of the NARR8 web app get alternative features to zoom in on content (for example, our series are now available in full-screen view, and they look great!) and more convenient playback options to move from slide to slide. Web and Facebook users will also have more ways to make payments, since mobile platforms have their own specific methods.

Without the iTunes or Google Play stores, how will users buy new content if they choose to pay cash?

The NARR8 Web app includes many tools for making payment. Now, users can submit payments credit cards, e-wallets and many more. We also work with local payment providers—for example, in Russia, we plan to add support for the popular QIWI payment system.

How does your in-app currency work? How does that translate into real money, i.e., profit, at the end of the day?

Good question. Our own currency, NARRs, is a virtual currency that users can either earn for free with regular usage of the app, or purchase. NARRs can be used to unlock new issues and additional app features. But we discovered that many users prefer direct payments for content without buying virtual money. That's why, for the Facebook and Web versions, we decided to make it possible to pay either with NARRs or directly for real money.

You let users read the first two episodes for free, then they have to pay for subsequent episodes. How much of a dropoff do you see in readership between episodes 2 and 3 of a typical app?

We’re very happy with how readers have read and continue to read NARR8′s series, which are constantly updated with new episodes every week. Again, episodes are unlocked with NARRs, which can be either purchased directly or earned for free over time with regular usage of the app.

In general, the jump from free to paid is a big one. How have you made it easier (or more desirable) for your users to make that leap?

As we mentioned, while new episodes of our various series are unlocked using virtual currency, this currency can be earned for free with regular usage. For instance, we regularly offer daily bonuses, which users can spend on new episodes. We also have virtual currency sales periodically, which makes episodes even more inexpensive for the audience.

At this point, how much of your content is user-generated?

Before launching our Story Builder editing tools, we produced a lot of professional content of high quality. We did it to set the bar for UGC stories, and now, all new UGC stories are moderated before publication in the NARR8 library. Nevertheless the number of user-created submissions is increasing each day. We hope that the launch of the Pro Editor, which will offer full-featured tools to serious content creators looking to make professional-quality content, will empower ambitious users to create even more fascinating and involving stories—which will mean even more high-quality content for our readers.

Do you pay users for that content?

We find users who create interesting, high-quality content and, where applicable, may offer a contract to distributing their stories on our platform with a revenue sharing model. We cooperate with professional artists, authors, and creators of interactive content and give them favorable conditions to let them produce and distribute their best content for our readers.

What sort of a balance are you looking for in terms of user-generated vs. your own content?

Our main purpose is to become the most convenient publishing platform for interactive stories. The Pro Editor will offer ample opportunities for serious creatives to build and distribute their content for a huge number of users on a variety of devices…as well as on Facebook and Web.

How did you arrive at the figure of 1 million users? Is that the number of people who have registered?

We have 1 million users who have installed and use NARR8 on their devices. We're growing rapidly, having already reached top positions on the Russian and US Apple App Stores. We're also very excited about launching the web version—we're sure that it will bring us a new audience.

What direction do you plan to take with NARR8 in the immediate future, and what is your long term plan?

We are actively working on updating the app's layout and visual design to make it more user friendly. We'll also be making updates on payment solutions as well. In addition, we're already working with huge copyright owners who produce traditional books and comics to help make their content come alive with interactive features and get them published on NARR8. In the future, we see NARR8 as a powerful tool for creating, publishing, and distributing interactive content.

NARR8 Launches Web Version: An Exclusive Interview with CEO Maxim Matveyko is a post from: E-Reader News

Le French Book Now Offers Translation in Print


The breadth of opportunities that digital publishing has provided across the globe has provided the added benefit of international audiences more readily finding each others’ works. Companies like Le French Book and Spanish Publishers have made it possible for translations of contemporary bestsellers to be published in foreign languages and sold through major ebook retailers.

Now, Le French Book, who specializes in publishing English translations of currently popular French titles, has announced a print distribution deal through Ingram, making it possible for bookstores and libraries to carry the US translations.

"Now that our e-book program is running smoothly, it is time we get our books into print," said founder Anne Trager in a press release. "We are translating prizewinning, international bestsellers that are in English for the first time. They are great stories with pace, suspense and good writing, along with that additional je ne sais quoi that makes us all dream about Paris. We want to make sure that all readers, whatever their preferred format, can get their hands on them."

“Ingram is the one source in the book industry that can link worldwide sales, marketing, and distribution solutions with a publisher's physical and digital content,” said Mark Ouimet, vice president and general manager, Ingram Publisher Services. “We are pleased to be supporting Le French Book, and look forward to putting our combined services to work for them.”

Ingram Content Group has long been known as one of the world’s largest distributors of both physical and digital content, including books, music, to over 38,000 distribution partners in 195 countries.

Le French Book Now Offers Translation in Print is a post from: E-Reader News

5 Alternatives to Amazon’s Super Saver Shipping

This week Amazon made a change to their Super Saver Shipping policy that makes it so customers have to spend $35 on qualifying orders instead of $25 to get “free” shipping. The price increase hasn’t gone over well with many customers, me included. I think that Amazon is clearly doing this because they want to […]

Radio Lollipop – children’s hospital radio

Back in April, Stewart Priest from Glasgow got in touch with me about an idea he’d had.

I’m the Chief Engineer for Radio Lollipop in Glasgow. Radio Lollipop is a charity whose volunteers provide care, comfort, play and entertainment to children in hospital. We’re primarily a play service for inpatients in children’s hospitals, but as our name suggests, we also provide a radio service.

I’m currently having problems getting our signal to the oncology ward playroom – it’s the only area in the ward which can’t get our signal, so I got the OK from the hospital IT department (it’s handy that I work there!) to stream via their wifi infrastructure. Unfortunately though, the level of encryption they use (WPA2-Enterprise/PEAP, if you’re wondering!) isn’t supported by ANY off-the-shelf wifi radio currently available on the market.

Enter the Pi.

The Raspberry Pi worked a treat, the poorly kids in the oncology ward playroom were able to listen to their radio station, and Stewart started to think about what else he could do with the Pi. An email a couple of months later said:

I’m also hopeful of being able to produce a radio case in a small run for other people to use in their radio projects which could then be sold and raise a little extra cash for Radio Lollipop – we are entirely run by volunteers and get no funding from the NHS or charitable trusts connected to the hospitals we work in.

He’s just finished doing exactly that. And here it is: the first working prototype of the Radio Lollipop Pi-powered radio in a box. Cute, isn’t it?

Stewart is talking to Jon at Pimoroni about getting a PCB run spun up to make a number of these for Radio Lollipop stations across the world, and I hope he’ll put some up for auction too – I can think of a number of people who read this site who would be interested in bidding on them to raise money for Radio Lollipop. (And yes, before you ask, this is an instance of something we are very proud to allow use of the Raspberry Pi logo on.)

In the meantime, if you’d like to donate to Radio Lollipop – they’re entirely reliant on your donations for the important service they provide in hospitals across the world – you can do so here, or click on the image above. They provide much more than a radio station, with volunteers who visit the bedside to play games, chat, run art projects and much more. Please donate if you can.



Protecting Your Posts under New Facebook Search Settings

Worried about Facebook's new privacy settings? Worry no more! There are still way to protect your posts from public searches.

New EPUB Conference in Brazil seeks to Develop Digital Publishing Market


If you live in Brazil or near Sao Paulo you are in for a treat October 25th. For the first time ever a full one day conference is kicking off and will focus on EPUB 3 and HTML5 production for digital publishers. It has the full support of the IDPF and will help the local market better understand best practices and talk with each other on the future of publishing.

The Brazilian eBook market is undergoing radical growth with 68% of all publishers now offering them. The revenue derived from this endeavor through is rather negligible. eBooks are said to account for only 1% of all book sales through the major publishers and the entire industry is in a state of confusion. Most are unsure of what format to sell their books in, whether or not to include DRM and what sales channels to offer them.

According to research from CBL, 68% of publishers sell digital books, and 59% are still unsure as to the format to be used. Of the total who answered the question, 58.7% use platforms of sales channels and 52.4% use digital distributors. The majority, 70%, selling DRM file, a lock type which does not allow copies to be made.

This conference happening should be checked out, the local market will be advised to learn best practices. After all, Google, Kobo, Amazon and Apple have all setup shop with a population of over 200 million people, there is a untapped market for eBooks.

New EPUB Conference in Brazil seeks to Develop Digital Publishing Market is a post from: E-Reader News