Welcome to another brand new Video from Good e-Reader News! Acer has just released a brand new ultrabook in Canada called the Acer Aspire V7-482PG-6662. We check it out and compare it to the Apple Macbook Air 2011 model, to give you a sense on what this new unit brings to the table.
I did extensive research before I purchased this ultrabook for things like Photoshop, Dreamweaver and being a bit entertained while on the road. It has a IPS touchscreen display with 1920×1080 resolution. In looking at this model, it has a higher build quality than the HP Spectre and since it just came out, will be more relevant. It has an Intel i5 Haswell processor, which means you should get more battery life out of it.
Other specs include a 500 GB Hardrive and a 25 GB SSD boot drive, to make loading Windows 8.1 fairly quick. One thing i really liked was 8 GB of RAM and a dedicated Nvidia graphics processor. It also has Dolby Stereo speakers, that are more clear than most other models.
Many other ultrabooks on the market have similar specs to this Acer but the deal clincher was the touchscreen IPS Display, HD graphics, lots of RAM, a solid backlit keyboard and wide viewing angels. Check out our video for a first look.
Video: Review of the Acer Aspire V7-482PG Ultrabook is a post from: E-Reader News
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Award-winning children’s enhanced storybook creator Auryn, who recently launched its StoriesAlive subscription reading service for kids, has put out a list of vetted and dynamic kids’ subscriptions for tablet-based content. These subscriptions all aimed at the under-teen set, are expected to be welcomed gifts of reading, learning, and fun, for children and toddlers.
First, Auryn’s own StoriesAlive subscription, priced at $7.99 a month, offers its collections of stories based on chronological or reading-level age of the child, as well as by interest area in themed book collections. Currently, Auryn is offering a giveaway of an iPad Mini and an iTunes gift card to people who enter between now and December 30th.
The other suggested subscriptions from Auryn include:
Jitterbug ($3.99 per month) – Jitterbug connects your kids to a world of handpicked family-friendly music videos and albums, streaming on demand to your iPad. It’s so easy to navigate that the 2-to-8 crowd can do it while you’re doing other things.
National Geographic Kids ($1.99 per month or FREE for existing National Geographic print subscribers) – National Geographic Kids magazine for iPad showcases each issue with engaging interactive content, amazing weird-but-true facts, videos, puzzles, photos, and much more. Features in each issue include weird-but-true facts, photo galleries, fun fill-in word games, animal stories and more!
Hulu Kids ($7.99 per month, accessed through Hulu Plus subscription) – Hulu Kids features ad-free kids shows as part of your Hulu Plus subscription. Using the "Kids Lock" feature, you can restrict what content kids can watch while using the Hulu Plus app on their own tablets.
BrainPOP ($1.99 per month for an "Explorer" subscription or $6.99 per month for a "Full Access" subscription) – Your kids can watch a different animated movie every day, then test their new knowledge with an interactive quiz at the end of each! Kids can explore hundreds of Science, Math, Social Studies, English, Engineering & Tech, Arts & Music, and Health subjects right on their mobile devices.
Other popular kids content can be found through companies like Amazon Free Time and iStoryTime’s tiered subscription which offers parents the opportunity to earn content by interacting with advertisements.
One of the key issues plaguing an admittedly glutted ebook market is the need for better searchability, especially for self-published and small press books that don’t come with the publicity teams reserved for bestsellers from the Big Five. Even as readers reach out to support the efforts of indie authors, book discovery still remains murky.
But a new book search engine is working to make books even more searchable based on information indicated by readers. Noverly, which launched in private last month after a year of development, lets readers use its subject-driven search feature to initiate a book search, then add various keywords and filters in order to wade through the titles. One interesting option is the ability to start at the landing page for a specific, well-known book, then use that page as a jumping off point for further in-depth searches.
“Want to read something like "A Game of Thrones"? From its title page, select a subject, setting or subgenre that interests you, and you'll only see titles with the same element. If you select the subject fiction-fantasy-epic and then filter by award winners, you'll see 26 award winning epic fantasies. Love British detective stories? From Browse, choose the genre Detective & Mystery and then the subgenre British. This limits the search to detective and mystery stories that are cataloged as British. Adding 18th century to the search, for example, narrows the results to 15 titles.”
Once a reader eventually locates a book of interest, affiliate sales options are given, as well as information on borrowing the ebook from the user’s local public library. What will prove to be most useful about Novelry, though, is the wide variety of titles that users will at least see as they work their way to the perfect book, enhancing discovery of new titles for future searches.
New Book Discovery Engine Novelry Aids Searchability is a post from: E-Reader News
The latest Apple Operating System for Mobile Phones and Tablets has a 74% adoption rating and should climb further in the next few months. Apple is encouraging developers to update their apps to be iOS 7 compliant by February 1st 2013.
Developers who want to submit new apps or update existing apps will have to make sure they are using the latest version of Xcode 5 which includes 64-bit support and access to new features like background APIs. Learn more about preparing your apps by reviewing the iOS Human Interface Guidelines.
Does this mean developers have to rework the graphics and spend a ton of time optimizing their apps for iOS 7? Not exactly. It appears that this requirement is more about the underlying construction of apps rather than their appearance. You can simply just use the new code and API’s without changing anything on the front-end.
Nintendo has been planning on rolling out a dedicated eBook store for their 3DS handheld gaming system for over a year. The company has officially launched it in Japan and there is a collection of 300 titles right away. This move should encourage parents to upgrade from the ultra popular DS to get their child doing something other than gaming.
In order to get started you have to download the app from the Nintendo e-Shop. The app is called “honto” and mainly has kids books and a few comics. Each title is retailing from 100 yen to 1,000 yen ($0.96 and $9.60 USD). When you download the app and buy a few books you are greeted by a very colorful UI. There is a dedicated bookshelf for all of your titles, similar to iBooks.
The Japanese gaming giant has claimed it wants to add 1,000 titles by next year and also dip their toes into accessible manga and graphic novels.
You can think of this latest store has been the 3rd attempt to launch a digital reading platform. Back in 2009 Nintendo started to get into the eBook craze by launching a cartridge based system and released a series of public domain titles in the US and UK markets. In 2012 they wanted to launch an app-based store, but their plans fell through during the summer.
If you’re in certain bits of Portugal this Christmas and your presents arrive in the post on time, you’ve got a Raspberry Pi to thank.
We’re aware of dozens of big industrial applications of the Raspberry Pi, but generally the companies using them prefer us not to publicise what they’re doing, so they can continue to steal a march on their competitors. So I was really pleased to receive an email from Daniel Ramos at a Portuguese R&D company called Wolfd.com, with some photos of a really big industrial application that they’ve successfully deployed which we are allowed to talk about. When I say “really big”, I mean it. It’s really, really big. It’s the sorting mechanism for CTT, the Portuguese Post Office. (And we get to discuss it here because, as a monopoly, they don’t have to worry about competitors doing the same thing.)
Daniel says that they’ve been working with the Pi for over a year now, and says that given that it was designed for education, its robustness has surprised them. CTT needed some help because the old LCD displays on the sorting machines, which need to be read by humans, were fast becoming unusable with age, as you can see here:
So, in a first wave of replacements, a bank of 24 of these antiquated machines has been refitted with Raspberry Pis and TFT flat panels.
If you’ve ever wanted to watch 24 Pis booting in a row, now’s your chance:
This is a low-power option as well as being much more user-friendly; there’s no need to keep hard drives spinning at each station. The Pis sit behind each screen and are powered by its internal power supply, and are connected through an Ethernet network to a server that provides them with the information they need to display. The software is all written in Python and Pygame.
So if your family and friends in Portugal notice an up-tick in postal reliability, you know who to thank. Thanks so much for showing us what you’ve been doing, Daniel. I’ll refrain from asking you to keep us posted.
Dear Library Partner,
I hope this message finds you well and enjoying the holiday season. On behalf of OverDrive, I am pleased to share with you a few milestone highlights and a look at what's ahead.
A brief trip down Memory Lane
I received an email last week from Tish Lowrey, Head of Technical Services at Cleveland Public Library (OH). She was excited to share with me the news that CLEVNET (emedia.clevnet.org) had reached its 1,000,000th digital book checkout for 2013. Tish's email triggered memories of OverDrive's journey serving public libraries that started in 2002. I was attending my first ALA Annual Meeting and was approached by librarians from Cleveland Public Library looking for a partner to develop a digital library lending service. That year, Tish and her colleagues Cindy Orr, Tracey Strobel, and Bob Carterette instructed OverDrive on how an eBook lending service should work with MARC records, ILS systems, and lending models—the beginning of a service that thousands of libraries use today. We launched the first digital library in 2003 under Sari Feldman's leadership (then Associate Director at CPL). We are grateful and proud to now work with many of you, the thousands of librarians around the world who provide us with professional and valuable guidance and insight.
This journey has only been made possible by you. Just as the team at CPL worked with OverDrive to craft the initial release of the digital library platform, so too do many others join the ranks of pioneers. Thank you to Michael Ciccone, Miriam Tuliao, Michael Santangelo, Charlene Ruse, Bruce Shauer, Jennifer Simon Halai, Jed Moffitt, Sarah Redman, Terry Thompson, Wendy Bartlett, Michelle Jeske, Janet Ryan, Lisa Hill, Jim McCluskey, Deborah McCullough, Lauren Stokes, Jan Passo, Scott Reinhart, Laurie Lessner, Ruth Ann Copley, Rivka Sass, Debbie Baske, Paige Jaeger, Michael Colford, Nellie Moffitt, Anne Silvers Lee, Sarah Beasley, Carol Pelz, Carlton Sears, Ann Snivley, Margaret Yamasaki, Stephen Edwards, Martin Palmer, David Paynter, Peggy Murphy, Kathleen Sullivan, Rita Hamilton, Tom Horn, Rachel Martin, Charlie Parker and so many more. Your early belief in the possibility and promise of a digital library helped shape the future for millions of eBook readers worldwide.
As a result of your valued guidance, OverDrive has continually responded by delivering what your readers want: the largest collection of eBooks for libraries, MP3 audiobooks, Streaming Video, Harry Potter in digital formats, Kindle compatibility, simultaneous use models, mobile apps for all major devices, collection development services for simplifying purchasing and managing holds, and circulation reports, among many other innovations.
This past year, in particular, was very productive. OverDrive now offers all of the big six publishers (Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan). Your users are enjoying the "Next Generation" digital library experience optimized for every device. We introduced free MARC records via OverDrive MARC Express, and, with the release of the Circulation APIs in October, dozens of ILS, search applications and mobile services now provide deep integration of OverDrive titles.
Other innovations launched this year were designed to help your library reach more segments of your community. With multilingual website interfaces and a growing catalog of Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Korean, and other non-English eBooks, you've uncovered a new and avid user base—and this is just the beginning. In addition, OverDrive Media Station, an in-library touchscreen monitor, promotes your digital collection to patrons visiting the library and allows them to browse, sample, and send a title link to their mobile device to check out. See how Toronto Public Library is using it.
The success of OverDrive Read, the browser-based eBook reading platform that maximizes ease of use without installation of an app or Adobe activation, has helped us develop a roadmap for other media, including Streaming Video, which will soon be widely available to all of our library partners. We offer thousands of feature films, documentaries, TV shows, kids, and educational videos, and early next year, we will announce partnerships with Hollywood studios and networks.
For the past few years, we embraced the opportunity to extend our services to young readers to help foster literacy and education. Now, serving thousands of schools across the globe, we work with educators and school librarians to help millions of students read inside and outside the classroom. This effort has launched improvements like enhanced metadata for grade levels, Accelerated Reader (ATOS), and Lexile scores.
Your library can extend your reach to youth in a new way through the eReading Room for Kids and Teens (see the Kitsap Regional Library site). This provides a safe and kid-friendly environment to explore digital media. Please contact your Collection Development Specialist for more information.
We are expecting another record-breaking surge in traffic and demand for your digital collection this holiday. We have invested significant resources to provide robust, fast and efficient services for your readers and staff. We also provide numerous training and marketing resources in our Partner Portal.
For 2014, OverDrive will continue to prioritize services and content models to help your library meet the anticipated continued demand for eBooks, audiobooks, and streaming video and to help stretch your budget. Each month, we plan to release time-saving conveniences for selectors, new reports and data on your digital library's performance, and self-service features to help you better manage your collection. And we will deliver access to more materials in more access models—allowing you to reach more users. To keep abreast of these updates, please make sure you and your staff have subscribed to our Library or School Blog (http://blogs.overdrive.com) and are on our email list through your Account Specialist.
Thank you to our library and school partners
Thank you for the privilege to work with your library and your staff. I am proud of the partnerships that began more than a decade ago, and I am energized for the opportunities that lay ahead. We enter 2014 with great promise. I constantly challenge our team to maximize the value we deliver to our partners, and with that important goal in mind, we will keep striving to earn our place in your library's digital services.
I invite you to keep telling us what is working and what needs to be improved. Visit us at ALA Midwinter or PLA, or contact any member of my team anytime.
Happy Holidays from all of us at OverDrive!
Steve Potash, CEO
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This might be a biased statement given the amount of news that crosses the Good e-Reader desk concerning ebook distribution and self-publishing platform Smashwords, but it’s a pretty safe bet that Smashwords has done more to further the cause of self-publishing than any other platform available to authors. Certainly companies like Amazon, Barnes and Noble’s Nook Press, and Kobo’s Writing Life have made publication possible for authors, but Smashwords has taken that opportunity even farther by extending the reach of where authors’ ebooks end up.
Today, ebook subscription service Scribd and Smashwords announced a venture that will put more than 225,000 ebooks into the subscription catalog, letting more than 70,000 authors’ works be accessed by members of Scribd’s service. This coincides with the existing agreements that Smashwords already has to put tiers of ebooks into public library ebook lending circulation.
"Since we started the company, Scribd’s mission has always been about creating an ecosystem to democratize content, and bring together a community of writers and readers," said Trip Adler, CEO and co-founder of Scribd. "Smashwords authors include everything from New York Times bestsellers to up-and-coming writers across a diverse range of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. I know our readers will be excited to have access to these works as part of our subscription service."
As part of the project, certain new features and tools are available to Smashwords’ authors:
Smashwords’ titles will also be available for purchase through the Scribd platform.
A new self-publishing app for Mac by software veterans Brad Andalman and Brad West, both of whom are former Pixar designers, is trying to make the self-publishing process for ebooks even easier and more streamlined than it already is, at least on the surface. The app, Vellum, is supposed to make the entire formatting and distributing process even easier and more professional-looking, with real time live previews, then allow authors to distribute that same file (re: the same work they did once) to all of the ebook retailers.
Right off the bat, one of the key problems with Vellum is its price. As a free Mac app, it’s open to Apple users, but comes with a $50 per book price tag. There are bundling options if the author is willing to shell out the money to buy three-book or five-book licenses. As if the pricing wasn’t already out of reach for some authors, it also requires Mac OS X 10.8 or better, which is yet another deal breaker for some users.
As for the compatibility, the app allows authors to import their book from Microsoft Word or some other word processing options, but there are no specifics on a complete list of these platforms or whether additional software purchases are required.
While Vellum’s price tag is supposed to let authors make one version of their ebooks that look streamlined and professional then upload it to all retail platforms, the price of the service is fairly close to what some formatters would charge to produce the different file versions of the books, and all the author has to do there is email the original document of the book without going through the laborious process of formatting it within the app.
While cross-platform publishing has been limited, part of the limitation is because the process really is not as difficult as some people would have authors believe. Is it time consuming, especially the first time an author tries to create an ebook for distribution? Yes. Does it require a degree in computer science? No. And for authors who simply cannot figure the process out, Smashwords is happy to take your step-by-step formatted file and distribute it everywhere for you…with no up front investment.
Vellum Self-Publishing App for Mac Aims to Do It All… is a post from: E-Reader News
The audiobook industry is starting to undergo dramatic shifts in their content delivery methods and major publishing companies are now investing millions of dollars into expensive productions. The entire audiobook industry is currently worth around 1.6 billion dollars and that figure should climb further. The main reason? Audio book producers have been increasing their output. 13,255 titles came out in 2012, up from 4,602 in 2009. Self-Published authors now have many viable options available to produce and distribute an audiobook. Today, we look at a few different companies that make branching out from strict eBook production into a world of audio.
ACX is brought to you by Audible.com, which is owned by Amazon. It is a service that brings indie authors and links them up with professional narrators, which they call producers. Often the narrators have their own professional audio setup, which makes the end product very high in quality.
In order to get started with ACX you have to look around for narrators that you want to do business with and make them an offer. Do you want to pay them for their efforts upon completion of the audiobook (a fee per finished hour, as part of a Pay For Production deal) or do you prefer to split your royalties with them fifty-fifty (as part of a Royalty Share deal)? You will be faced with this choice before you can send them the Offer. Also, make sure that that you're certain of the terms you're proposing, because you're about to enter into a binding agreement. Yes, the Offer process results in an official (in other words, legal) contract.
One of the big benefits of working with ACX to produce your audiobook is if you are heavily invested in Kindle Direct Publishing. If you already self-publish with Amazon you can opt your audiobook into whats known as WhisperSync for Voice. This allows readers to buy both the audio and eBook edition at a reduced price and have the text narrated as the reader is reading. Amazon also has technology that allows the audio edition to pick up exactly where the reader left off in the eBook.
This is a UK based company that does all of the production work, such as hiring producers, mixers and talent to read the book. The company distributes to Amazon, Audible and iTunes. Royalty payments will be made on a quarterly basis through Paypal.
This company will produce your audiobook for you or if you decide to DIY it, will help with distribution into iTunes, Amazon and Audible. The website allows authors to browse a wide selection of professional narrators to read your book and do all of the production work. You are looking at between $100 and $200 an hour for them to record the work.
Many audiobook production companies end up charging by the hour, instead of for the final product. It makes it hard to know exactly how much you will ultimately be spending. Infinity Publishing has a standard package of $599, your book will be recorded by a professional male or female reader.
The audio will be edited to remove clicks, pops, mouth noise, stops and starts; pacing and timing will be adjusted with clean room sound inserted between all edit points. The final product will have music at the beginning and end of the program, as well as spoken credits to talk about your website and your other books available.
This company is mainly about distributing your finished product and does not really help with the actual production of it. Do you want to sell CDs of your audiobook? CD Baby can help you professionally and affordably manufacture any quantity of your audiobook on compact disc and ship them to you in a matter of days. For a quote, click HERE.
For a one-time setup fee, CD Baby will warehouse your audiobook CDs and ship them to customers around the world! You can also offer it as an MP3 download on your own website, or create a podcast that releases one new chapter per week.
The DIY Approach
It is possible to record an audiobook and distribute it yourself or market it to other companies. The first step is buying the proper setup. In my experience doing Podcasts and Radioshows there are a few essential pieces of equipment you need to buy if you want to make it a regular thing.
I recommend buying a mixing board with a USB adapter. You can purchase a two channel one for fairly cheap and it plugs directly into your computer. If you have a good sound card, you may want to consider buying a Firewire Mixing board, because the standard USB one just uses your on-board sound card and not a dedicated one. Next, you need to get a proper Condenser or Dynamic Microphone. I really like the HELI brand, it is well known and highly respected.
After you have a few pieces of hardware, you can download a free audio program to actually record and edit your audiobook. I like Audacity, it is free and full of great features. One piece of advice is to add some music or sounds inbetween chapters. It helps the listener know when a new chapter starts and sets the mood. For some free background music published under Creative Commons license, check out the Free Music Archive. For sound effects, be sure to explore FreeSound.
What do you do about distribution for audiobooks once you have made one? I really like Soundcloud. You can embed it into your Blog or website and charge for it. You can also provide samples for people to listen to.