Thursday, December 12, 2013

Japan Surpasses USA in App Spending


Japan has emerged at the top when it comes to app revenue, beating the US in the process. The achievement is sensational as just about a year ago, consumers in Japan were found to have spent 40 percent less than their US counterparts in app spending. The trend has since been reversed as Japan has beaten the US by spending 10 percent more on apps in October, revealed app tracker App Annie. This makes for 3 times and 6 times as much as those in South Africa and UK spend on apps.

However, the growth potential is still immense in Japan considering its just 40 percent of Japanese that use smartphone device this year, a figure which is expected to rise to 60 percent next year. Consumers have shown a growing inclination towards smartphones instead advanced feature phones that used to be the most in demand not too long ago. What is even more interesting is that Japan had started with mobile internet technology way back in 1999, an era when iPhone or Android based smartphones were non-existent.

As for the specific genre of app, it is games that have emerged as the biggest hit with the folks in Japan does not seem to have enough of it. Spending at the Google Play Store has also almost leveled with that on the Apple App Store.

Japan Surpasses USA in App Spending is a post from: E-Reader News

Rakuten, Aquafadas Provide Digital Services for Japanese Publishers


The e-commerce giant Rakuten and the digital publisher Aquafadas have joined forces to provide a suite of services for Japanese publishers who want to go from print to e-books. In a nutshell, the publisher provides the content, Aquafadas converts it to digital format, and Rakuten sells it. The partnership is part of the Aquafadas Global Partner Network Program, and one of the largest publishers in Japan, Shueisha, has already signed on.

Aquafadas provides a set of digital tools that are designed to fit in smoothly with the print workflow, so publishers can create e-books without making a big production. The tools can be very simple, just converting print to digital, or more complicated, with sound, video, and other special effects. Aquafadas also handles the back end (database integration, analytics, etc.). Rakuten, which is one of the largest e-commerce sites in the world, is the storefront, allowing publishers to take advantage of its digital distribution tools; last year, Rakuten bought the e-book platform Kobo, and it also has a financial stake in Pinterest, which should extend its reach even further.

Shueisha has been using the Aquafadas automatic digital conversion tool to convert its print magazines, such as the fashion magazine Marisol, into e-zines for smartphones and tablets. As Michael demonstrated in his recent history of digital publishing in Japan, Japanese publishers have been fairly slow to bring their print products to digital media, although the momentum has picked up with the introduction of Kobo and Amazon to the market; this may help speed things up a bit.

Rakuten, Aquafadas Provide Digital Services for Japanese Publishers is a post from: E-Reader News

Archie Comics gives 1 Million in Books to Toys for Tots


Archie Comics has had a very solid year with their digital distribution system recording a record amount of sales. In April of 2013 Archie followed the trend of releasing the digital editions the same day as their printed counterparts. They also released Archie Unlimited program that sees customers pay $9.99 a month and they can download as many comics as they want on iOS and Android. To celebrate this monumental year Archie is donating over $1 million dollars worth of books to Toys for Tots.

"We couldn't think of a worthier or better charity to donate our books to than Toys For Tots," said Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater. "We are extremely proud to encourage children to discover reading who may not have the opportunity and hopefully enrich their lives through our characters."

"Our nation's less fortunate children deserve the resources to learn and experience the joy of reading," said retired Marine Major Bill Grein, vice president of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. "The Toys for Tots Literacy Program provides the gift of reading, which can leave a lasting impact on a child even after the holidays are over. Thanks to Archie Comics we are able to reach thousands of additional children who might otherwise be overlooked this Christmas season."

Archie is also petitioning their fans to donate books on their own volition as part of the "Archie's Give-a-Book Program." In order to draw further attention to the goodwill of the comic book publisher, a special story, "Holiday Heroes" featuring Archie, Betty and Veronica helping the Toys for Tots Foundation has been released. The story is featured in Archie Double Digest #246.

Archie Comics gives 1 Million in Books to Toys for Tots is a post from: E-Reader News

Lenovo Yoga Tablet

©NBCUniversal Media, LLC

At this point in the life cycle of the tablet, we pretty much know what to expect: A small, flat, handheld, rectangular touchscreen that lays flat on another flat surface. It's not a broken design, and let's be honest, it's really hard to innovate by introducing another shape (like a triangle).


Enter Lenovo's Yoga Tablet. This device takes the standard rectangle, and takes away the ability to lie flat by putting a cylindrical battery along the long edge of the device, creating a novel tablet experience in either an 8 inch or 10 inch model. Another new feature is the unique kickstand that allows you to have the tablet sit up like a television screen – upward facing dog in keeping with the yoga theme – or to raise the far edge off of the table (perhaps like the plank pose).


Let me drop the specs in here, before I dive into the device itself. Out of the box, it runs Android 4.2, affectionately known as Jelly Bean. Under the hood, there's a Quad Core 1.2 GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of onboard storage, expandable storage up to an additional 64GB, Bluetooth 4.0, 5M rear camera and 1.6M HD camera, dual front-facing speakers, HD display (1280×800) with multitouch & 178° wide viewing angle, and a reported 18 hours of battery life.


Eighteen hours. That is 1,080 minutes of battery life. Like, 75% of a day. It's a bold claim. And the tablet is able to deliver on the longer battery life. Though, it looks like the increase in battery life is due to a screen that, while high definition, has a lower pixel density than comparable tablets making the screen look not as good as, say, a Nexus 7. It's not a bad screen, but it could be better.


Other than that, this tablet is a little beast. It's blessed with responsiveness in both the CPU and the screen. Apps load quickly, as do websites. Just for fun, I tested the device using OverDrive Streaming Video and OverDrive Media Console. Streaming various videos worked really well, with no lag. The picture was clear, and the sound was rich thanks to the speakers on the front of the tablet. These speakers are surprisingly good considering their size – I mean, let's be honest, tablet speakers are not the kind that are known for being earth-shattering, but the Yoga Tablet packs a nice sonic punch that is just as satisfying when listening to an audiobook in OverDrive Media Console.


Checking out an eBook was another pleasing experience. The screen, paired with the tablet's design made form factor surprisingly book-like. To hold the device in your hand in portrait mode feels like holding a book by the spine. It seems like a bridge between those who still like the look and feel of a paper book, and those who wholeheartedly embrace digital reading.


All-in-all, the Yoga Tablet is a fine device, designed for providing a solid multimedia experience. Whether you're watching movies, reading books, playing games, listening to music, or surfing the web, it's a versatile device that can handle whatever you throw at it. Add to that the low price tag, and it's a pretty good deal.


Justin Noszek is a Support Services Specialist at OverDrive.


Digital Magazine Store Magzter Gets $10 mn Series B Funding from Singapore Press Holdings


Magzter Inc. which counts itself among the fastest growing digital magazine store and newsstand that is compliant with multiple platforms announced having secured $10 million in a series B funding. The latest round of funding is aimed at further consolidating their position as one of the largest operators in the field of digital magazine stores besides also venturing into digital books. The company has also set itself a lofty target to build a library comprising of more than a million ebooks available on its platform by early 2014.

The latest round of funding is led by Singapore Press Holdings which holds considerable clout in the South-East Asian regions and elsewhere in the world. It publishes over 100 magazines that reach more than 3 million readers.

As for Magzter, the New York based company that started operation in 2011 has managed to ink partnership with more than 900 publishers which has flooded its magstore with over 2,850 issues of magazines covering 30 international languages. This has drawn in 16 million users of its app in over 200 countries in the short span of just 2 years. Magzter has been one of the most downloaded app on iOS in several countries.

One of the biggest pluses with Magzter is that its proprietary publishing software that enables publishers to make available their content on multiple platforms. As has been reported by Techcrunch, “Magzter is also working on product solutions that better automatically format content from magazines for small screen devices, so that publications can reach an audience on iPhone at the same time as they reach the iPad and tablet crowd, but with a delivery method better suited to the smaller screen.”

“Over time, we have seen a lot of the publishers in other geographies, a lot of the licensees in different parts of the world, are using Magzter,” said Magzter CEO Girish Ramdas. “If you go to Magzter and type in 'Maxim’,” for example, you’ll find 10 to 15 editions of Magzter from different countries, including Switzerland, South Africa, India, Singapore, etc.”

Vijayakumar Radhakrishnan, co-founder and president of Magzter also added they are thinking of offering an ad based model where users will get to read the content for free while costs will be met with revenue from advertisements. Currently, Magzter rely on a revenue sharing agreement with publishers which means they earn revenue only when the publishers make money. This they claim allows them an edge over the subscription based service offered by Adobe.

Digital Magazine Store Magzter Gets $10 mn Series B Funding from Singapore Press Holdings is a post from: E-Reader News

Adobe to Publish .Folio Tech Specs Under Free License in Q1 2014


Adobe has let it known that they will be coming up with the technical specifications of .folio format for e-magazines under free license sometime in Q1 2014. An inherent benefit of the .folio format is that it will allow newsstands to launch their own viewing apps for users to read digital magazines that have been built using Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite. This, Adobe claims will lead to greater acceptance of digital magazines published using Adobe DPS which has already seen three times the growth achieved in 2013 as it has been the year before it.

What is also heartening for Adobe is that readers have been found to engage with the publications, with them tending to spend about 50 mins on average with DPS digital magazines in a month. Cost efficiency and ease of use of DPS has been attributed to the success of the digital publishing platform though also contributing significantly to the success story are the consumer marketing tools that are an integral package of DPS magazine apps. These features include the ability for readers to share articles using the social networking sites, feature that allows a particular article or an entire issue to be previewed for free and so on.

Adobe to Publish .Folio Tech Specs Under Free License in Q1 2014 is a post from: E-Reader News

Pubsoft, Transmedia Partner to Bring Complete Digital Storytelling Experience to eBooks


Digital publishing platform Pubsoft announced today that it has partnered with Transmedia Story Stream to help authors create an entirely immersive storytelling experience within their ebooks. Utilizing features like videos, audio clips, live streaming of social events associated with the book, and even gaming, the innovative process will help authors and publishers offer an even richer experience to their readers.

When enhanced ebooks first emerged on the market, many readers weren’t ready for the intrusion of audio and video in their books; many didn’t even like the ability to tap on an unobtrusive hyperlink to learn more or to access features like photos or maps. but with the far wider reach of tablets, coupled with the growing popularity of enhanced digital magazines, the public may now be ready for this type of experience.

"We're excited to be a part of this project because we see the potential for growth. How many of us have played online social and casual games like Words With Friends or Candy Crush for hours without realizing it? What if games such as those were incorporated into some of our favorite story lines, like Twilight, and Harry Potter? What if participating in different activities provided different additional parts of the story that could only be unlocked by experiencing it in a different way? We don't want to diminish the traditional narrative form so much as we want authors to have the ability to add to it," said Heather Wied, Marketing Director for Pubsoft.

What actually may make this venture far more profitable than enhanced ebooks from a few years ago is the building on the HTML5 platform for ease of consumption across multiple platforms, as well as Pubsoft’s original offering to the digital publishing industry of creating streamlined, one-stop-shopping for authors and publishers to market, sell, and retrieve royalties on their titles, regardless of retail outlet.

The platform, like so many smart moves in publishing, will start with romance titles, as romance readers are not only avid consumers of books, but are also found to be near the top of the list for casual gaming use.

Pubsoft, Transmedia Partner to Bring Complete Digital Storytelling Experience to eBooks is a post from: E-Reader News

Google Play Books for Android Can Now Upload Personal ePub and PDF eBooks – Supposedly

Google has updated their Play Books app (such a silly name for an ereading app, don’t you think?) to add some new features and stability improvements. The most notable of the upgrades is the ability to be able to upload ePub and PDF ebooks from your Android phone or tablet to Google to read in […]

Frozen Pi: bullet-time photography with the Raspberry Pi

If you were one of the people following us on Twitter a couple of Saturdays ago, when we all hoofed it up to Manchester for the Manchester Raspberry Jam, you’ll have had a sneak preview of this: Dr Andrew “Pi Face” Robinson’s latest Pi escapade. I’ll let Andrew explain what’s going on. (Notice the mildly humiliating guest appearances from me and Clive.)

We think this is one of the most interesting photographic applications we’ve seen in the flesh so far. (Although I will admit to a moment’s disappointment when, on seeing it, getting excited and asking what it did, I was told that it was not a working Stargate after all.) You’ll have read many posts here about bringing down the price of professional photography equipment: we’ve seen focus-stacking on a budget, gigapixel photography, setting up moving time-lapse rigs, and shooting water droplets along with many, many other applications. (The photography tag here is one of my favourites – if you’ve got a few minutes, go and have a read.)

Andrew’s Frozen Pi setup shows us yet another example of bringing photographic technology with an astronomical off-the-shelf price down to achievable levels: of course, with 48 Raspberry Pis this still works out pretty pricey, but it means that any school with a classroom set of Pis suddenly finds it has bullet-time effects photography well within its grasp.

Which is just brilliant, isn’t it? Thanks Andrew!

Make Holiday Toys and Games out of Paper!

At this time of year, we're all stressing about what presents to get for who. Luckily, the internet offers instructions for an interesting alternative to shopping -- making presents out of paper!

eBook Prices Still a Sensitive Issue for Authors, Publishers


As more and more holiday shoppers scramble to finish up their holiday shopping, publishers and book retailers have taken notice and are offering considerable discounts on their titles. While it might be hard to envision having your mom “unwrap” an ebook for Christmas, more and more consumers are turning to the portability associated with long distance gift giving and turning to virtual shopping; and according to a number of social media posts about ebook purchasing, holiday gift givers are quite likely to purchase an ebook for themselves to read while traveling or while visiting relatives.

A post by Jeremy Greenfield for Digital Book World actually highlighted some of the top-name bestselling books that are currently offered for around the cost of a typical high-end coffee concoction. Greenfield goes on to indicate that traditionally published ebooks are experiencing and all-time low for average cost:

“As a result, the average price of a best-selling ebook this week is $5.27, a new all-time low. The previous low was in early September: $5.41.”

One point he makes in his post is that we are becoming dangerously close to severely undervaluing ebooks in the minds of consumers. While this may certainly be just another holiday discount, if consumers don’t associate ebooks with gift giving, they may not make the connection that these prices are holiday incentives. Instead, consumers can come to expect that an ebook will cost only a couple of dollars, regardless of the quality or the name behind the writing.

Thea Atkinson, author of numerous titles including One Insular Tahiti and the Witches of Etlantium series, said, “A few times, I’ve shifted Water Witch down to .99 to see if I could get more eyes at Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Amazon. At Barnes and Noble it seems to matter a small bit, but Amazon almost seems to decrease compared to when it’s at 2.99…sometimes I think the higher price gets it more visibility, not that folks are willing to pay more or look for a higher price, but equating price with quality.”

eBook Prices Still a Sensitive Issue for Authors, Publishers is a post from: E-Reader News

Judge Throws Out Conspiracy Case Against Amazon, Publishers

bookstore in australia
At the same time five of the then-Big Six publishers and Apple were sweating under a multi-million dollar lawsuit and investigation for trying to bring down Amazon, three independent bookstores in the US filed a suit alleging the Amazon and the Big Six publishers had created a conspiracy to squeeze out independent booksellers by artificially working the DRM-status of Kindle ebooks in order to prevent indie stores from selling ebooks to customers with Kindles.

Earlier this year, the owners of The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany, N.Y., Fiction Addiction in Greenville, S.C., and Posman Books in New York City, filed a lawsuit against Amazon and the publishers for both the DRM conspiracy and a separate allegation that they were in violation of the Sherman Act–the same Act that factored in an important way in the DOJ lawsuit against Apple–for trying to gain a monopoly on the industry.

The judge in the case, Jed Rakoff, didn’t just quietly disagree with the plaintiffs in his decision, but rather in his eighteen-page decision on the case had some strong words for the plaintiffs, including stating how “remarkable” it was that the plaintiffs didn’t demonstrate any secret meetings, collusion attempts, email records, or other examples of conspiracy. In fact, the suit does not even specifically name which publishers met with Amazon to purposely ruin independent bookstores, a fact that Judge Rakoff pointed out.

Essentially, the complaint seems to come down to the fact that the American Booksellers Association has a partnership with Kobo to let indie bookstores not only sell the devices in their shops, but also to sell ebooks to customers while making a small affiliate-style profit on it. This scenario is not in place with Amazon, so a Kindle customer who comes into a bookshop cannot buy an ebook through the store. The plaintiffs alleged that this is a conspiracy-level decision and that the publishers were in on it.

Interestingly, one key idea seems to have been overlooked by the plaintiffs: as the DOJ investigation showed us, the publishers are willing to do almost anything to keep Amazon from getting even more powerful. The idea that the publishers would purposely help Amazon monopolize the ebook industry and take down a tiny mom-and-pop bookstore is unfathomable, given the current concerns over pricing and distribution.

Judge Throws Out Conspiracy Case Against Amazon, Publishers is a post from: E-Reader News

Send iMessages From The Sky, Southwest Airlines Offering Service For $2/Day


The US based Southwest Airlines is among the first to offer in-flight messaging capabilities as of now. However, the service is limited to only Apple devices and will cost the traveler $2 for the day. Users will need to have iMessage 5 or later installed on their devices to take advantage of the service. The airline is also offering full Wi-Fi access during flight, something that will cost the traveler $8 for each device for the entire day.

However, the service won't be available in all of the flights. The airline lists on its site the particular flights that will offer this service, making it easier for the passengers to make their choice. Southwest Airlines largely operates within the US and a few neighboring countries, including Mexico and the Caribbean. The service is being launched at the most opportune moment what, as holiday flying will soon be reaching its peak. Access to the Apple iMessage app while in-flight will enable flyers to keep their friends and loved ones updated of their plans.

Send iMessages From The Sky, Southwest Airlines Offering Service For $2/Day is a post from: E-Reader News

Top 10 New Android Apps of the Week – Dec 12 2013

Lucky Cat Android Mini Figure Series by Shane Jessup - White, Black, Gold, Red, Pink & Purple Lucky Cat Vinyl Figures

This week saw the launch of a new edition of the seminal Angry Birds franchise and major new releases by other big studios. The road to the holidays have officially begun with a new Simpsons Tapped Out Update and lots more! Don’t forget, if you have a Blackberry 10 phone, you can now load all of these Android apps directly on it, following our tutorial HERE. Finally, all of these apps are the most popular new ones as voted by our users on the Good e-Reader Android App Store!

Angry Birds Go! - Welcome to downhill racing on Piggy Island! Feel the rush as you fling those freewheeling birds and piggies down the track at breakneck speed – with plenty of twists and turns in a thrilling race to the finish line! But beware! Look out for hazardous roads, mischievous opponents riding your tail and special powers to put the race leader behind the pack. Plus, go from soapbox car to supercar by upgrading your ride! Ready…Set…Angry Birds Go!

Android Device Manager – Ever misplaced or lost your phone? Android Device Manager locates lost devices and helps you keep your device—and the data inside it—safe and secure. Android Device Manager lets you: Locate Android devices associated with your Google account, Reset your device's screen lock PIN and Erase all data on the phone.

TouchDevelop – Create apps on your phone or tablet, share them with other people! Create fun games and automate recurring tasks. You compose programs by tapping on the screen. This App is done by Microsoft and is getting lots of traction.

SidePlayer – With this floating music player you can easily switch between songs. Just swipe or shake the music control in and turn on your favorite song. With another services you can activate meta informations or the quick control notification. You also can choose between themes or layout. And sooo much more. Just try it out.

Action Launcher – Action Launcher looks and feels like a natural launching pad for the Android ecosystem, and is designed to get you where you need to go, faster.

Cal – Calendar by – Cal is a free, simple & smart calendar app for your Android. With a fast, intuitive and beautifully designed interface Cal is the only Calendar app you'd want to have on your homescreen.

Quip – Quip is a modern word processor that enables you to create beautiful documents on any device — phones, tablets, and the desktop. It combines documents and messages into a single chat-like "thread" of updates — making collaboration easy.

RAVENMARK: Mercenaries – Build your mercenary army and raise your banner to epic heights in a broken, ravaged world. Wage head-to-head battles against other players in the finest turn-based strategy wargame, RAVENMARK: Mercenaries!

Helium – App Sync and Backup – Helium is the missing app sync and backup solution for Android. Helium does NOT require root. All Android users can use Helium to backup and sync Android applications. Helium lets you backup your apps and data to your SD card or cloud storage. With Helium, you can sync app data from your other Android devices– even if they are not on the same network. Set up backup schedules with Helium, and never lose data again.

Cut the Rope: Holiday Gift – For the first time and only during the Holiday Season – Cut the Rope: HOLIDAY GIFT is available on Android Devices! Om Nom wants to wish you the happiest of holidays!

Top 10 New Android Apps of the Week – Dec 12 2013 is a post from: E-Reader News

Microsoft Considering Waiving Windows RT and Windows Phone Licensing Fees

Windows RT

Microsoft is said to be actively exploring the idea of dropping license fees for its Windows RT and Windows Phone operating systems. This they hope will help device manufacturers to ward off the twin challenges posed by the Apple iOS on the one hand and Google Android on the other. The above is still being deliberated upon though seems to be the only way to keep Windows Phone and Windows RT versions relevant at a time when consumers are more inclined to pick up either Android or iOS devices.

While Microsoft is still hard-pressed to make buyers as well as developers to swallow Windows RT that seems to be the most distasteful Microsoft development in recent times, things are a bit sweeter with Windows Phone 8 that has seen increased levels of acceptance. However, even with Windows Phone, Microsoft is in a no-win situation considering its Nokia, Microsoft's latest acquisition that holds sway over 80 percent of the Windows Phone market. As for Windows RT, it is again Microsoft and Nokia that are the only vendors for the platform, which means zero revenue earned via license fee while the products itself have very few takers.

So where does the money come from? As per OS chief Terry Myerson, its revenue generated from services and ads that they hope will offset the waiving off of license fees. Microsoft has already been experimenting with ads placed in Windows 8 based apps and a similar sort can also be replicated with Windows RT. Luring consumers to subscribe to additional services such as Skype, SkyDrive, or Office as well as integrated Bing search results can open up another revenue stream for the company.

Microsoft has already been drawn to the Google model of generating revenue where ads contribute a significant portion while the Android platform is doled out free. This has acted as the catalysts by drawing more manufacturers and app makers to invest in Android, which in turn makes devices running the Google OS all the more appealing.

The company has earlier in the year announced record growth in revenue owing largely to a robust performance of its commercial arm that comprises of consultations, volume licensing and son on. However, it's Devices and Consumer segment has seen its revenue flow getting restricted a bit. The Devices and Consumer segment comprises the entire gamut of consumer oriented devices, services and software. However, even for a tech behemoth such as Microsoft, shifting to the new strategy of driving in revenue solely from ads, subscriptions and services is not expected to bring in the desired results overnight.

Microsoft Considering Waiving Windows RT and Windows Phone Licensing Fees is a post from: E-Reader News