Monday, December 2, 2013

Kobo Abandons Windows 8 Reading App


Kobo has pulled their Windows 8 e-Reading app from the Microsoft App Store a few weeks ago. This move will now prevent owners of the Microsoft Surface or anyone on a Windows 8 PC from downloading or reading eBooks.

The Windows 8 Reading App by Kobo was originally developed before Windows 8 officially launched.  The Canadian based company had the app all ready for the first wave of Beta testers way back in February 2012.  Before the app was pulled, thousands of readers were  using the app every day to buy eBooks and other digital content and then read it.

We have reached out to Kobo many times during the last few weeks to get an official comment. I had originally thought that they pulled the app to allow for the integration of their new magazine and kids book services, but it seems they have totally abandoned it.  It seems basically that the entire app was not up to Kobo’s standards and many users have moaned that it was barely functional.

In the meantime, you can use the internet browser on any Windows 8 or Windows RT tablet by visiting the Kobo Instant Reader. This is an HTML5 reading app that was originally developed to give Apple iPad users the ability to buy eBooks using the Safari web-browser. It was basically a clandestine effort to bypass the mandatory 30% commission Apple takes from in-app purchases.

Kobo Abandons Windows 8 Reading App is a post from: E-Reader News

E Ink Unveils New Fina EPD Module


E Ink Holdings today announced the upcoming release of E Ink Fina, a new thin and lightweight electronic paper display (EPD) technology. Fina will be the first EPD that will go into mass production for small to large format digital paper products based on a thin glass Thin Film Transistor (TFT) technology. In conjunction, today PocketBook also announced PocketBook CAD Reader – the first Fina ePaper Android device designed specifically for displaying drawings generated with Autocad from Autodesk.

Fina is a glass based TFT technology that uses a very thin glass substrate to deliver products that are much lighter and thinner than what is possible with standard LCD displays. Fina displays weigh less than 50% of the weight of an equivalent glass based TFT and are less than 50% of the thickness as well. This is particularly important for mobile products requiring larger display areas. A 13.3″ Fina display module, installed in the Pocket CAD Reader, weighs approximately 60 grams.

“Fina adds to E Ink’s portfolio of innovative display products which enable unique consumer and engineering products,” said Giovanni Mancini, director of product management for E Ink Holdings. “The extremely low power requirements, thinness, lightweight and readability under all lighting conditions truly enable design engineers to display information where they never thought possible before.”

E Ink Unveils New Fina EPD Module is a post from: E-Reader News

New PocketBook CAD Reader Announced


Pocketbook is a well known brand that specializes in e-Readers and has a somewhat devout following of people who like to load in their own books. The company has always released devices that appeal to a wider consumer market since 2007 and is about to aim a new product at the business segment.

The PocketBook CAD Reader will be 13.3 inches and uses a powerful 1GHz dual-core CPU running Android 4.0.4 with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage making it very responsive with a large capacity for storing designs. With built-in Wi-Fi and 3G modules, large 8000 mAh battery.

The new CAD Reader is the first device using a new E Ink technology called Fina ePaper. It is designed specifically for displaying drawings generated with Autocad from Autodesk. It comes pre-installed with a number of free and paid CAD-applications. There is enough internal memory to hold the plans for up to 200 construction projects, which can be edited and shared through the collaboration workspace. The built-in touch screen and precise Wacom digitizer support both touch and a stylus.

“Our goal was to develop a device to be used on construction sites. We created a highly portable large format display device with a rugged and weatherproof case that could hold all the CAD drawings a team needs. This makes designs available virtually anyplace and anytime,” – said Dmitriy Shemet, head of research and development at PocketBook. “We chose the E Ink Fina 13.3 inch display because it has exactly the right properties we were looking for to develop PocketBook CAD Reader. The PocketBook CAD Reader delivers a new user experience for architects and specialists in construction trades allowing them to work on site”.

I am quite surprised that Pocketbook actually is intending on releasing a new device with such great specs. The company has been somewhat notorious over the years of consistently selling modern devices with single core 800 MHZ processors and 512 MB of RAM. This makes the bulk of their products woefully slow, this new one is aimed at a different segment and is optimal for bringing it out in the field.

New PocketBook CAD Reader Announced is a post from: E-Reader News

Movember wrap up

Well, that was a very long 30 days for both of us. Thanks to the following people and organizations, and one anonymous donor, for raising £1,500 (plus £236 of gift aid) to support Movember’s work in promoting men’s health.

David Akerman 
Richard Ash 
Phil Atkin 
Lukas Barta
Andy Batey 
Clive Beale 
Matthew Brown 
Tim Cox 
Hamish Cunningham 
George Dodds 
Alex Eames 
Finlay Edridge 
Alex Evans 
Louis Glass 
Dan Hagon 
Richard Harmer
Matt Hawkins 
Philip Heron 
Dave Higham 
David Honess 
Michael Horne 
Lance Howarth 
Helen Ireland
Gavin Jamie 
Ian Kilburn 
Hee-Liong Ling 
Pete Lomas 
Mark Longair 
Lisa Mather 
Ian May 
Alan McCullagh 
David Mellor 
Ben Nuttall 
Alan O’Donohoe 
PiFace – OpenLX SP Ltd  
Pimoroni Ltd
Rachel Rayns 
Craig Richardson 
Aaron Shaw 
Paul Sherry 
Matthew Smith 
Peter Stevens 
Chris Swan 
TR Computers Ltd
Lesley Upton
Liz Upton 
Stevie Upton 
Ryan Walmsley 
Paul Warren 
Paul Way 

I’ll leave you with a picture of the final result, and the scene in Liz’s and my bathroom at one minute past midnight on Sunday morning.

Enjoying one last moment of moustache-themed goodness.

Have you tried turning it off and on again? Decembeard here we come.

Anders’ not-so-geeky holiday device buying guide

Last week OverDrive tech writer and blogger Quinton Lawman detailed his top picks of this year's crop of new devices in Quinton's geeky holiday device buying guide (Part 1) (Part 2).


Now it's my turn.


Conspicuously missing from the list were two iconic devices, the iPad Air, and the iPad Mini with retina display. The iPad Air boasts the most powerful tech specs in any iOS device to date, yet comes in the most elegant package ever. That's up to 128 GB of storage in a one pound device that fits in the palm of your hand! (For some fun perspective, that much storage back in 1980 would've set you back a cool $25 million dollars, and forget about the weight of it!)


While the iPad Air ranges from $499-$799, its smaller cousin, the iPad Mini with retina display, packs all of that goodness into a smaller and more affordable package. Each respective storage capacity, 16GB, 32GB, 64GB, 128GB, is a hundred dollars less than the iPad Air.


Both models feature the best camera we've seen on any iPad. With 5 megapixel photos, Autofocus, face detection and a five element lens, it's perfect to capture those precious holiday moments with friends and family.


But these devices are about more than just great hardware. With the release of iOS 7, the iPad's newest operating system, Apple did something quietly amazing: they made their entire suite of productivity apps free. Keynote, Pages, and Numbers, collectively known as iWork, are the Apple equivalents of PowerPoint, Word and Excel and create files compatible with their Microsoft Office counterparts. What's more is that, utilizing the same HTML 5 technology that powers OverDrive Read, offers a web-based version of each app that is accessible from virtually any computer with an internet connection, which will sync with the projects you have on your device.  (But let's face it, even if people don't want to work on their iPad, at least now they can.)  Of course, despite all of those useful free apps, I will probably still spend most of the time on my iPad this winter listening to audiobooks on the OverDrive Media Console.


Hot Holiday Devices

Due to overwhelming demand, we are now at capacity for the December 5th session of Hot Holiday Devices. But we still have room for you to register for our December 4th session at 7:00 PM EST. We'll be discussing these devices and many more, focusing on how they can be used with the OverDrive service. You can register for Hot Holiday Devices from the Learning Center on the Partners Portal:  And don't forget to use our handy time zone converter to find out when the session starts in your part of the world.


We look forward to connecting with you then!


For those of you who can't attend a live session, check back in at the Learning Center after December 6th to hear the recorded session and download our resource-packed presentation slides.


Anders Brooks is a Training Specialist on the Knowledge Services Team at OverDrive.


PocketBook to Release 13.3″ CAD Reader with 13.3″ E Ink Fina Screen and Android 4.0

There is some interesting news coming out of E Ink and PocketBook today. E Ink has just announced the upcoming release of a new screen technology called E Ink Fina, and PocketBook is going to be the first company to use it in their new PocketBook CAD Reader, which is designed specifically for displaying drawings […]

Kindle and Nook Cyber Monday Deals

Amazon and Barnes and Noble both have some good deals for Cyber Monday. The new 7″ Kindle Fire HDX is marked down by $50 and so is the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight. I decided to post this Cyber Monday update because it’s been a few days since the last Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals post. […]

OverDrive Offers Digital Kids’ Reading Rooms to Partner Libraries

Throughout the recent controversy over inappropriate and explicit content being listed in ebook retail websites alongside children’s and middle grade titles, the same questions kept coming to the surface: how did this happen, and how do we prevent it? Unfortunately for the authors and publishers of much of the questionable content, the immediate solution was to block nearly all titles with adult themes. Two retailers shut down their ebookstores altogether, while Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo all removed titles that they felt were in danger of being found by young consumers.

While the content has been slowly replaced in a one-at-a-time fashion, statements from at least one retailer have announced the position that they are under no obligation to sell any titles that do not meet their standards for appropriateness. Another retailer, Amazon, has taken the steps to evaluate the keywords that self-published authors associate with their titles and has begun the process of removing ebooks whose metadata and keywords seem intentionally misleading.

But in order to protect consumers, OverDrive announced today that it has created an online children’s reading room for its partner libraries. The purpose of this cyber sphere is to provide a safe and vetted location for young patrons to enjoy all of the same features and benefits that other patrons can have through the main OverDrive portal.

"eBooks are not just for adults, and we believe this site will help us highlight some of the great children's content that we have to offer," said Sharon Grant, Digital Branch Manager at Kitsap Regional Library where the digital reading room was piloted. "More importantly, we believe this site will save people time because it effectively highlights books by reading levels, age groups and interests."

According to the press release on the launch of this child-safe library environment, “The eReading Room is a safe environment for children, independent of the larger digital collection, yet easily accessible and fully integrated – seamlessly working with your existing catalog. OverDrive offers clean, friendly, simple design options and the choice of including juvenile and/or young adult fiction and nonfiction titles. All titles in the eReading Room are also cataloged by reading level, ATOS scores, and other reading metrics to help parents and teachers select titles to aid in literacy campaigns. Adults and kids can sample titles in OverDrive Read prior to checking out a title.”

Hopefully, efforts such as this one will be sufficient to protect the interests of all parties involved. While young readers should not be subjected to material that is willfully mislabeled with the express purpose of attracting children, authors who have taken the appropriate steps to put their content only in front of mature audiences should not suffer under the sweeping changes that retailers have had to make.

OverDrive Offers Digital Kids’ Reading Rooms to Partner Libraries is a post from: E-Reader News

Welcome Ben!

We’re welcoming a new member to the team at Pi Towers today. Some of you already know Ben Nuttall from his work on the Pi Weekly email newsletter (if you haven’t signed up already, you should), his hosting of the Manchester Jams, and his STEM activities.

Ben is sheepish about being photographed. He asked me to use a picture of Fry from Futurama instead. Tough luck, Ben. :)

I first crossed paths with Ben when we met the incredible Amy Mather, a 14-year-old from Manchester who does amazing things with her Pi. Ben was tutoring Amy outside school, along with a number of other local kids, and we got chatting as a result of his work with her. He’s a STEM Ambassador, a FLOSS advocate, and curates Pi projects for youngsters. He’s also saved the life of a drowning, hypothermic, trouserless dinghy paddler. Like many of us, he cycles to work. His laptop has a sticker of Carrie Anne Philbin on it. His birthday cake had raspberry icing. We think he’s going to fit in just fine.

Ben just moved to Cambridge from Manchester for this job at the weekend. He’s going to have a number of roles here: he’s working on a revamp of this website, with separate areas for projects and for educators, which we’ll be trialling in 2014. He’s building demos; writing educational materials; and doing outreach work, especially with kids. We’re very excited to have him join us: welcome to the family, Ben!

December Kindle First Titles Released

Last month, Amazon’s traditional publishing arm and its host of imprints at Amazon Publishing announced a new incentive to get people reading on their Kindles: Kindle First. Each month, the editors at Amazon Publishing will select several titles from a variety of genres to be released a month early to Kindle users and Prime members. While these titles will be pre-released for $1.99–or free, for those Prime members–readers can select only one title each month to have at the steep discount and early date.

Today, Amazon Publishing announced the list of Kindle First titles for December, which include:

Soy Sauce for Beginners, a beautiful debut novel about family bonds and personal identity by Kristin Chen,

The Widow File, a political thriller of industrial espionage and military intrigue by SG Redling,

Sweet Nothings by award-winning romance author Kim Law, which tells the story of a bachelorette baker and the man who convinced her of true love,

Timebound by Rysa Walker, a fantastical novel about a 16-year-old time traveler that won this year's overall grand prize as the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Inclusion in this selection may be especially poignant for Rysa Walker, as this year’s young adult ABNA winner who eventually won the grand prize as well. Originally a self-published title, Walker didn’t think much beyond her indie roots when she entered the contest. As she explained to Good e-Reader at the time of the announcement in June, "I self-published because the traditional publishing industry wasn't working for me. I tried for a year to get attention from an agent and in almost every case I didn't even get an email back from them saying why they weren't interested or even that they'd gotten my email with the attached file."

Are customers really responding to the opportunity to be the first to read a book? Possibly, as last month’s Kindle First titles all became number one bestsellers in their respective categories, as well as held spots in the Top Ten for all books. To find out more about Kindle First, click HERE.

December Kindle First Titles Released is a post from: E-Reader News

Amazon Most Visited Website on Black Friday

Many US-based retailers and business owners came into the holidays this year in a state of pre-panic, which was understandable given that this year’s holiday calendar means there are six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But early reports on how businesses fared during the recent holiday shopping frenzy show that this year’s sales via e-commerce remained solid and even surpassed last year’s sales.

The 2013 Black Friday holiday weekend sales figures (at least as up-to-date as current standings) show $20.6 billion were spent online via retailers’ websites, from consumers who used desktop computers. There was a sixteen percent increase in shoppers who used websites for their holiday discount shopping, possibly due to the growing backlash over both the out-of-control behaviors reported in physical stores and of retailers requiring their employees to work during what many feel is a family time.

Sixty-six million shoppers purchased items through retailers’ websites via computers, as opposed to the growing number of shoppers who are shopping online via mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.

According to the data, released by comScore, Amazon was the top visited website during these holiday spending days beginning on Thanksgiving, followed by eBay, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target. The last three stores have traditionally been associated with some of the more notorious reports of physical violence and injury during Black Friday sales, and it’s refreshing to see that more shoppers are choosing to stay out of the physical stores while still benefiting from the steep discounts.

Many retailers are continuing the discounted offerings today, which has come to be known as Cyber Monday in recent years due to the online specials, and hope that any deficits in projected holiday earnings can be made up for with online shopping.

Part of the increase in Amazon traffic may be attributed to its admitted growth in Prime membership and the resulting free two-day shipping option, as well as its heavy advertising of Black Friday specials leading up to the actual shopping day. Despite being the most visited retailer, however, comScore reported that apparel and fashion were the top selling categories for the holiday weekend, followed by computer hardware, then consumer electronics.


Amazon Most Visited Website on Black Friday is a post from: E-Reader News

Send in the Drones – Meet Amazon Air Prime

prime drone

One of Amazon’s greatest strengths has been the massive expansion of their warehouses and fulfillment centers all over the world.  They are spread out geographically so when you order a product, its shipped from the nearest one in your State or one close by.  Shipping out packages quickly and effectively has won the Seattle based company acclaim and one of the benefits of a $79 per year Prime membership is free two day shipping.  In the near future, customers may get packages 30 minutes after ordering them with their futuristic program called Prime Air.

Amazon is employing a new fleet of aerial drones that are similar to the quad helicopters we see on the consumer level.  The intention is to have the drone pick up a package at a fulfillment center and navigate the city or country via advanced GPS, right to your door.

CEO Jeff Bezos channeled the showman spirit of Steve Jobs when announcing this new initiative to the show 60 minutes.  ”The hardest challenge in making this happen is demonstrating to the standards of the FAA that this is a safe thing to do. This is years of additional work at this point,” Bezos said.

Amazon is betting on the future of shopping to be delivered by drones. They fly above the city streets, do not get stuck in traffic and go right from the conveyer belt to your front door.  ”I know this looks like science fiction — it’s not,” Bezos said. “It will work and it will happen. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

During the holiday season Amazon is processing over 300 orders a second. The drone based delivery could be operational by 2015, but it is firmly up to the FAA to approve for the use of drones in the public sector.

Send in the Drones – Meet Amazon Air Prime is a post from: E-Reader News

Now available for public libraries: An eReading room just for kids


OverDrive is offering a new service for public library partners to give young readers a place of their own. Now there's an option to incorporate an eReading Room for kids and/or teens as an extension of your digital library website. Kids and teens can browse, sample, place holds and borrow eBooks and other media appropriate for their age range and reading level. Kids can spend as much time as they want clicking away and exploring without the worry of them stumbling upon mature content. See the first live eReading Room for kids at Kitsap Regional Library in Washington.


"eBooks are not just for adults, and we believe this site will help us highlight some of the great children's content that we have to offer," said Sharon Grant, Digital Branch Manager at Kitsap Regional Library. "More importantly, we believe this site will save people time because it effectively highlights books by reading levels, age groups and interests."


The eReading Room is a safe environment for children, independent of the larger digital collection, yet easily accessible and fully integrated – seamlessly working with your existing catalog. OverDrive offers clean, friendly, simple design options and the choice of including juvenile and/or young adult fiction and nonfiction titles. All titles in the eReading Room are also cataloged by reading level, ATOS scores, and other reading metrics to help parents and teachers select titles to aid in literacy campaigns. Adults and kids can sample titles in OverDrive Read prior to checking out a title.


The checkout and hold experience is the same as with the existing site, so when the kids are ready to graduate to the next level, they'll already be seasoned users of the website's tools and navigation. We will also provide you with promotional graphics and print-ready materials to promote the eReading Room. You can even name the eReading Room  anything you choose, such as the same name for the kids' section in your physical library branch.


Ready to get started? The kids' eReading room is available now, so contact your Collection Development Specialist to learn more.


Heather Tunstall is the Public Relations Specialist at OverDrive.