Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Captain America 2 – Who is the Winter Solider?


The Captain America sequel “The Winter Soldier” is poised to hit movie theaters March 26 2014. The movie will be about Steve Rogers after the first Avengers movie and his role in the Marvel cinematic universe. What digital graphic novels are essential reading and who exactly is the Winter Soldier? We dive deep into the issue and give you the low-down.

The Marvel cinematic universe is quite different from the other timelines for digital comics published on a monthly basis. Marvel comics, the Ultimates and other franchises all do a different spin on the same major characters and story lines. When it comes to the line of movies like The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor and others, it is officially dubbed Earth-199999.

In the Captain America movie his good buddy James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes was one of Steve Rogers old friends, whom was recruited into his strike force to go after the Red Skull. Rogers and his team successfully sabotage various HYDRA operations. The team later assaults a train carrying Zola, the main scientist. Zola is captured, but Barnes falls from the train to his apparent death.

The Winter Solider will tell the tale of General Vasily Karpov finding Bucky’s cold-preserved body missing one arm. Bucky is revived in Moscow, but suffers brain damage with amnesia as a result of the explosion. Scientists then attach a bionic arm to him to give him added strength. He is programmed to be a Soviet assassin for Department X, under the code name the Winter Soldier, he is sent on covert wetworks missions, i.e., missions involving assassination, becoming increasingly ruthless and efficient as he kills in the name of the state. While a Soviet agent, he also has a brief relationship with The Black Widow, who was also mind programmed to be an assassin at the time. In the recent Avengers film Hawkeye makes reference to having his mind torn asunder by Loki and Black Window mentioned she knows how he feels.

In order to have his loyalty the Winter Soldier was kept in cryostasis, so between missions he is kept from aging. He does various missions over the years, leading to the terrorist attack that puts him back on Shields radar.

If you want to get a firm understanding of all the different events leading up to the movie, you want to get your hands on the digital or normal graphic novels. You would be hard pressed to find the original Avengers comic book #4, which is the first appearance of Captain America and Bucky. About the best you can do is buy the The Avengers Omnibus, Vol. 1, which has the first 100 issues of the Avengers. It is not available as a digital edition so you will have to spend around $72.00 on Amazon. The best comic you could find, written in the modern times was the retelling of the Winter Solider by luminary Ed Brubaker, entitled Captain America, Vol. 1: Winter Soldier Ultimate Collection. There are three different graphic novels in the collection and even goes into The Black Window, essential stuff. Comixology has the later editions you can purchase for around $10.00 each, so it is fairly economical. Comixology has Winter Soldier Vol. 1: The Longest WinterWinter Soldier Vol. 2: Broken Arrow and Winter Soldier Vol. 3: Black Widow Hunt.

In an interesting trivia note, Bucky’s death has also been used to explain why the Marvel Universe has very few kid sidekicks, as no responsible hero wanted to endanger a minor in similar fashion. Stan Lee also harbored a well-known dislike for boy sidekicks in general. So, it could be posited that when Captain America was revived in the Silver Age, Stan Lee chose not to bring back Bucky. It was not until the last decade that he was brought back as a recurring character.

Captain America 2 – Who is the Winter Solider? is a post from: E-Reader News

Japanese Publishers and eBook Retailers Protesting Consumption Tax Hike, Demand Foreign Vendors be Taxed Too


Publishers and distributors of e-books in Japan have voiced concern over the proposed hike in consumption tax from the current 5 percent to 8 percent by April 2014. However, while the taxation would apply to ebook publishers and distributors in Japan, the same when sourced from overseas vendors enjoy immunity from the tax net. As such, retailers such as Amazon or Rakuten's Canadian arm Kobo are not required to pay consumption tax in Japan. This as per the local players are allowing the overseas vendors undue benefit vis-à-vis their domestic counterparts.

As per the current legal system, ebooks purchased and downloaded from servers outside of Japan are deemed transactions, and are hence considered to be outside the purview of consumption tax. It is only the items and services purchased in Japan that are subject to paying consumption tax.

“Online shoppers are sensitive to prices. One of the reasons that foreign vendors gained a large share in the Japanese market was the unfair environment regarding the consumption tax,” said an executive with bookstore operator Kinokuniya Co.

This, as per Daiwa Institute of Research Holdings Ltd. is also leading to the Japanese government losing out billions of yen in revenue every year. The loss is pegged at a substantial 25 billion yen in 2012 alone. The domestic players are urging the government to come up with a quick solution though anything of that sort seems unlikely to emerge before spring 2014 when the higher rate structure will come in place. Government sources have assured local publishers and ebook retailers they are investigating the matter and have assured a level playing field for all though that is not expected to happen anytime soon.

“At the time the consumption tax was introduced (in the late 1980s), few imagined that the Internet would develop this much. The Finance Ministry should start upgrading legislation to create a fair environment,” said Yoshikazu Miki, a law professor at Aoyama Gakuin University.

Japanese Publishers and eBook Retailers Protesting Consumption Tax Hike, Demand Foreign Vendors be Taxed Too is a post from: E-Reader News

Want Your Kids to Read More? Leave Them Alone.


In-depth details on what motivates reading in children have come out in a new book, published by the world’s leading publisher of children’s content, Scholastic. In Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want – and Why We Should Let Them, authors Jeffrey D. Wilhelm (Boise State University) and Michael W. Smith (Temple University), explain that there has to be more to books for young people than just the typical academic requirements.

The results of the professors’ findings have led to an awe-inspiring but earth-shattering conclusion: school-based reading instruction should focus even more on self-selected texts for pleasure reading, and less on rote instruction from corporate lessons.

"At a time when the Common Core Stare Standards and high-stakes assessments turn the eyes of parents, teachers, and policy-makers to what reading can do for you, we should not lose sight of the deep and manifold pleasures it can bring to you," Smith said in a press release. "Those pleasures are what motivate reading in the here and now and what make it likely that young people will read in the future."

"Never underestimate the power of pleasure in motivating and sustaining reading and improvement in reading," continued Wilhelm. "And never underestimate the deep psychological work, psychological satisfaction, and human development that is occurring for readers of freely chosen texts. Books that are often marginalized by educators or parents are often the best choice for the readers at any given point in their own human developmental journeys."

As one of the leaders in curricular publishing, too, Scholastic’s release of Wilhelm and Smith’s title will hopefully hold some level of sway over administrative decision making at the local and state government school boards, allowing more time during the school day to be spent on individualized reading for pleasure rather than simply reading for the sake of the curriculum.

Reading Unbound is available from the Scholastic Teacher store for pre-order, and will ship in January. Free samples of the content are available for download now.

Want Your Kids to Read More? Leave Them Alone. is a post from: E-Reader News

Windows Tablet Segment to Grow to 39.3 Million by 2017: IDC


Market research firm IDC has projected the Windows-based tablet segment to grow to 39.3 million units by 2017. This will include both stand alone tablet devices as well as hybrid tablets, devices that come with a detachable keyboard and can be operated as either a tablet or a notebook device. This rise is expected to fill the void created by the shrinking PC sales, at least to some extent, which has been steadily declining since the advent of the tablet device. IDC pegged the PC segment to stabilize at around 300 million units by 2017, claiming these might have lost relevance to some extent, even though they cannot be replaced by portable devices yet.

It is only the emergence of Windows 8.1 along with low power consuming Intel Bay Trail chips that has led to some degree of acceptability to Windows tablets. Windows based tablets accounted for less than 1 million units in 2011, though it is expected to grow to a bit more respectable 7.5 million by end of 2013. In contrast, Apple has sold 14.1 million of its iPad devices in the third quarter of 2013 alone, while the Android tablet segment reached 16.8 million devices in Q3, 2013.

IDC has stated that the entire tablet segment itself is registering slower growth of late and has been forced to revise its estimates for 2013 to 221.2 million, down from the originally estimated 227 million units. The research firm also stated the segment could end up registering just single digit growth rate by 2017, from the present 53.3 percent.

IDC analyst Tom Mainelli attributed the lower demand for tablets to the emergence of big screen smartphone devices.

“In some markets consumers are already making the choice to buy a large smartphone rather than buying a small tablet, and as a result we’ve lowered our long-term forecast,’ said Tom Mainelli. “Meanwhile, in mature markets like the US where tablets have been shipping in large volumes since 2010 and are already well established, we’re less concerned about big phones cannibalising shipments and more worried about market saturation.”

Meanwhile, there have been a slew of tablet launches running Windows 8.1, which includes the Dell Venue 8 Pro, Dell Venue 11 Pro, Lenovo Miix 2, Toshiba Encore, Asus Transformer Book T100, and others. All of these have had positive reviews so far and are expected to fare well in the market, though it remains to be seen if these can unsettle both Apple and Android’s tablet market share by a significant margin just yet.

Windows Tablet Segment to Grow to 39.3 Million by 2017: IDC is a post from: E-Reader News

Holiday Events Part II: Gift Box Giveaway

We are right in the middle of the holiday season, wrapping up Hanukkah this week and quickly nearing Kwanzaa and Christmas. This is a great time to ramp up marketing efforts for your digital collection and to help your patrons prepare for the influx of shopping and gift giving.


Holiday Device Showcase

Tablets and eReaders are hot gifts but which one is right for you or your loved ones? At your library, you can host a Holiday Device Showcase to display popular devices and give your patrons a chance to get some hands-on experience with the gadgets. Read more about the Holiday Device Showcase in our Holiday Events Part I: Device Mania blog!


Gift Box Giveaway

Once users have picked out what device to buy, help them wrap it up! Inspired by Digital Library Champions contest winner High Point Public Library, think outside of the box – or rather… think inside of the box with a Gift Box Giveaway. The North Carolina library recently wrote about their program of offering gift boxes for eReaders that included tissue paper, ribbon and most importantly, instructions for how that device could get free eBooks from the library. To help other libraries recreate this great idea, we've created Gift Box Giveaway resources that are now available in the Partner Portal. In the zip folder, you'll find everything you need to become one of “Santa's Helpers” and launch your Gift Box Giveaway program: a print-ready flyer, a Facebook graphic, instructions to help gather what you need, greeting cards and printable getting started guides.



Make sure to use social media to publicize events and to remind users that even during the holidays if the library branch is closed, your virtual branch is always open! We've created some fun images that can be posted to Facebook for season's greetings and helpful reminders. You can download these free graphics in the Social Media section of the Partner Portal.


Keep an eye on the blog – we'll be sharing event ideas and promotional tips throughout this season. Feel free to let us know what you're doing around your library or school to market your digital titles as we wrap up 2013!


Melissa Marin is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive.


Amazon drones, hax0r3d

Have you seen all that stuff in the news about Amazon’s proposed new delivery method? At first glance, it looked like an April Fool’s joke – but then I remembered it was December. My money’s on it being a project that nobody intends to come to fruition; but a very clever bit of marketing for a month when Amazon sees more business than it does in any other month of the year.

The idea here is that orders under five pounds weight will be delivered to your doorstep in 30 minutes by one of these little drones from 2015. Let’s put aside objectionable thoughts about getting civil aviation licences for thousands of drones at one time; about scalability; about range; and about the way people in certain of Amazon’s markets have a habit of keeping guns in the house and shooting things. It’s a nice bit of PR and it made me smile.

But I was particularly tickled to find several people email me Samy Kamkar’s other objection to the drone idea: namely that they’d be very simple to subvert if you happen to be the no-moral-compass type who wants to get their hands on other people’s shopping. And (astonishingly quickly, given that Amazon broke the news three days ago), he’s built a demonstration of just how you’d go about doing that. Samy’s SkyJack is an autonomous drone that seeks other drones within range of its WiFi and hacks them, turning them into zombies under its control. Samy says:

Using a Parrot AR.Drone 2, a Raspberry Pi, a USB battery, an Alfa AWUS036H wireless transmitter, aircrack-ng, node-ar-drone, node.js, and my SkyJack software, I developed a drone that flies around, seeks the wireless signal of any other drone in the area, forcefully disconnects the wireless connection of the true owner of the target drone, then authenticates with the target drone pretending to be its owner, then feeds commands to it and all other possessed zombie drones at my will.

We at Pi Towers are full of raucous glee. You can read more about SkyJack and Samy’s exploits, and find out how he did it, at his website.

Oh – and you can buy a Raspberry Pi from Amazon. 

Amazon Launches New Short Story Publishing Imprint StoryFront

Amazon Kindle Fire

One of the most potentially useful features of digital publishing was the ability of authors to publish their short stories without the tedious process of anthology selection. In the past, authors who pen short stories had to submit their stories to collections publishers, and those anthologies are typically only published periodically; barring that, the author could try to submit a full collection of his own works, of which few are traditionally published and almost never from a debut author.

Digital publishing and self-publishing threw open the doors to short story publication, and a resurgence in the genre has been enjoyed by readers of short form literature. Companies like Vook, Atavist, and Now & Then Reader have contributed to the renewed interest in the essay or pamphlet publishing of centuries ago, and today, Amazon Publishing announced its effort to bring short stories to the forefront of publishing.

StoryFront, the company’s short story imprint, not only will focus on publishing high quality short fiction, but will also be the source of a weekly digital literary journal that will specifically feature short stories and poetry from new and veteran authors.

"Based on the continued success of short fiction on Kindle as well as the enthusiastic response to Day One—we received thousands of subscriptions in the first week—we know readers are hungry for short stories and excited about exploring new genres," said Daphne Durham, Publisher of Adult Trade and Children's Group. "With StoryFront, we're feeding that enthusiasm by offering a wide range of stories curated by a team of editors who are committed to the craft."

StoryFront already has a number of stories ready for publication from several bestselling authors, including works that are closely tied to existing novels but that didn’t require another full-length novel in order to share with readers. The platform is also bringing translations of well-known international short stories to US reading audiences.

Amazon Launches New Short Story Publishing Imprint StoryFront is a post from: E-Reader News

Rapid Growth of Internet in Africa Leading to Digital Publishing Boom

ebook africa

Africa has long been referred to as the dark continent, which means there is ample scope for the light to shine; and that is exactly what is happening in that part of the world. Focusing on just one measure of development, internet usage in Africa has hit the fast lane. Even this can be termed an understatement given the astounding 3,606 percent growth rate that internet usage has reached in the continent achieved since the beginning of the new millennium. Of course this has led to a ripple effect as this has spurred the demand for internet based service, with digital publishing being just one of them.

“The proliferation of smartphones across Africa, combined with the inevitable burst into e-commerce, means that we would be foolish to ignore what is about to happen with publishing in Africa,” said Jeremy Weate, associated with Abuja-based Cassava Republic, a Nigeria based e-publishing firm that publishes fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. The obvious reference here has been to the more than 160 million Africans that connect to the internet, with it being smartphones that has emerged as the most preferred device to get online.

“Moving to e-books addresses some of our most significant challenges with print books,” Weate further added.

“In Nigeria, it is a tough ask to find a printer that can offer reliable services, a wide range of paper and guaranteed product quality.

“We don't have to worry about printing, warehousing, distribution or engaging in fruitless marathons across the continent for payments that will never come,” said Weate.

A higher access to internet is also seen by publishers as a means of drawing the Africans to read more books, a trend that has been lacking sorely among the masses. Such an endeavor is getting further impetus with the efforts of Worldreader, a non profit organization that has been distributing e-readers among school children in the continent with the aim to dram them to read ebooks. Statistics depicting Worldreader’s efforts too are commendable, having delivered more than 70,000 ebooks among 13,000 children in nine countries in the African continent.

Meanwhile, Weate also stressed on promoting reading ebooks via smartphones given the wide reach these have already achieved.

“Many young Africans are already comfortable reading on mobile devices and we think this trend will continue as the price of smartphones gets cheaper,” said Mr Weate.

With this being the trend, it could just be a matter of time before major ebook publishers and device manufacturers such as Amazon, B&N, Kobo and such make a beeline for the African market.

Rapid Growth of Internet in Africa Leading to Digital Publishing Boom is a post from: E-Reader News