Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year from OverDrive!

Team OverDrive would like to wish a safe, prosperous and very happy New Year to each and every one of you!


“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
- T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

Top Android Apps of the Week – Jan 1 2014


There has not been a ton of new releases this last week due to the holiday season. Most of the good stuff came out in the last few weeks and today Good e-Reader puts the spotlight on the top ones out there.  All of the apps are available for download on the Good e-Reader Android App Store.

Ultimate Combat Fighting – Prepare yourself for the Ultimate Combat Fighting challenge! Fight your way to become a black belt martial arts master! Learn all the moves and beat your opponents in this intensive action fighting game. Whether your style is karate, kungfu, tae kwon do, or boxing, just swipe your moves and start throwing some kicks and punches!

High School Story – Play High School Story and create the school of your dreams, filled with all your friends. Throw parties, go on dates, and recruit jocks, nerds, cheerleaders, and MANY MORE classmates to unlock their stories! Plan a surprise birthday party, star in a fashion show, go on a wild spring break beach trip, and discover hundreds of other adventures, with a new quest added EVERY WEEK!

Calendar Status – Calendar Status provides the easiest agenda access you have ever seen. All you have to do is pull the status bar and everything you want will be presented STYLED JUST THE WAY YOU WANT.

Solar : Weather – Solar: An exquisitely designed weather app. No vector polygons, no dew point calibration and it won’t remind you to wear a jacket. Just radiant colorscapes and precision forecasting. A modern meteorological tech-cessory for the aesthetically-inspired.

Ratchet and Clank: BTN - Ratchet and Clank: Before the Nexus™ brings the excitement of infinite running to the classic Ratchet and Clank™ franchise. Fight off Vendra and Neftin Prog as well as their assortment of evil minions, including the return of Thugs 4 Less! Hop between grindrails while avoiding hazards to collect bolts that can be used to upgrade Ratchet's weapons and armor. Collect Raritanium, which can be synced with your PSN℠ account and used in the exciting new PS3™ game Ratchet and Clank: Nexus

Top Android Apps of the Week – Jan 1 2014 is a post from: E-Reader News

Smashwords’ Predictions for Publishing in 2014


This time of year brings with it a host of predictions from various entities, all of whom can lay claim to professional insight behind their ideas. In the many centuries’ old book industry, the past that used to shape the present has been ripped away by disruption and technological shift, meaning even well thought out predictions may prove to be far off base.

Smashwords, an ebook distribution and self-publishing platform that has perhaps done more for the cause of indie authors than any other single entity, has released its CEO Mark Coker’s predictions for the coming year. Many of these will come as no surprise to book fans, while others may be so shocking as to be almost laughable.

In the “I can see it from here” column, Coke predicts that ebooks will take up an even greater share of the reading market, as well as come down in price. In an interesting correlation to the price issue, Coker also suggests that factors other than price are going to play a huge role in book selection, especially once consumers grow accustomed to paying $4.00 or less for a book on a regular basis.

But one prediction that may come as a much longed for surprise is his belief that more and more major name authors are going to at least experiment with self-publishing, if not reject the traditional industry altogether.

“Multiple market forces will conspire to cause a large number of traditionally published authors to turn their backs on big publishers. Publishers will try to hold the line on their 25% net ebook royalty structures, which means big authors will see their royalties suffer as prices drop and as the unit sales advantage of low prices decreases, and as the disadvantage of high prices increases. At the same time, readers will continue to transition from print to ebooks, making the print distribution to physical bookstores less important, and thus weakening the grip big publishers once had on bigger-name authors. Big authors, eager to maximize their net, will feel greater impetus to emigrate to indieville.”

Another major prediction, one that Good e-Reader wholeheartedly agrees with and has discussed in several interviews, is that subscription reading will finally take off in the way that it has for music and movies. With revenues solidly understood from these kinds of models, books are a natural medium to follow suit.

Read the remained of Smashwords’ predictions for the coming year in publishing by clicking HERE.

Smashwords’ Predictions for Publishing in 2014 is a post from: E-Reader News

More Publishers Begin to Accept Unagented Submissions

Prior to the current digital publishing and self-publishing revolutions, the process for an author to get published was tedious, beginning with the very first gatekeeper: finding an agent. The literary agent, whose role may be shifting but by no means is disappearing, was often the first entity to pass judgment on a book’s merit, accepting or rejecting the title outright.

For many of the authors who have pursued self-publishing, the drive to do so was often caused by dozens of anonymous-sounding form letters, rejecting the authors’ manuscripts. For still others, the frustration with the traditional industry came at the hands of agents who quite clearly told them that their manuscripts were exceptionally stellar, but then ultimately refused to represent the book for a variety of reasons, notably a perceived lack of marketability.

But with so many options open to authors now, more and more publishers are joining the ranks of professionals who are willing to let the gate slip open slightly by agreeing to consider works that have not been “vetted” or approved by a literary agent. News came this week that Bloomsbury UK was the most recent publisher to realize that authors are tiring of the hoop-jumping, as the announcement that its new YA and New Adult imprint Bloomsbury Spark would accept submissions from unagented authors. But is this too little, too late for an industry in which authors are routinely thumbing their noses at giving up as much as 85% of their royalties for the privilege of being “accepted” by the traditional industry?

Some publishers, such as the ultra-disruptive Sourcebooks, have been accepting unagented submissions for some time, and have even welcomed the opportunity for authors to win the right to submit a manuscript as part of a writing contest. Tor UK, an imprint of Pan Macmillan SFF, announced its own policy earlier this year, encouraging authors to think that they have options besides self-publishing.

What is interesting to see in this new shift is that Bloomsbury’s submission guidelines for this new imprint include the requirement that authors provide information on their social media standings, meaning the publisher wants to see how much reach and influence (re: built-in consumer base) the author has before agreeing to publish the work. This is similar to the publishing houses who join sites like Wattpad, sweeping up authors whose books have a significant following on the free reading and sharing platform.

It will be interesting to see if authors are willing to buy into the concept of greenlight submissions as a way to bypass the first obstacle to publication, but with a host of options available to authors that don’t involve yielding their book rights and their royalties, it may prove to not be lucrative enough to convince many authors to bite.

More Publishers Begin to Accept Unagented Submissions is a post from: E-Reader News

Archos to Launch Affordable Line of Smartwatches at CES 2014

archos smartwatch

The smartwatch segment is heating up gradually, with more players joining the race to have the smartest device on consumers’ wrists in the coming year. French manufacturer Archos is the latest to join the race, having announced plans to come up with multiple smartwatch offerings in 2014; given Archos' usual strategy to launch low cost devices, the same is expected of its smartwatch venture. Archos has already stated their smartwatch line up will be comprised of several devices, with the least priced among them to cost no more than $50. Archos has also stated their smartwatches would be based on the “Pebble” concept, which makes us wonder if they will be e-ink based. Its battery savings despite a colored display no doubt will enhance their appeal even more. Further, the Archos smartwatches will be compatible with both Android and iOS, which no doubt will increase its consumer appeal.

Expect complete details at the upcoming CES event.

Archos to Launch Affordable Line of Smartwatches at CES 2014 is a post from: E-Reader News

Freemium Apps Prove Beneficial For Google, Apple App Stores


A new report by app analysis firm Distimo has brought an interesting revelation, that freemium apps are far more popular than anything else. Freemium apps are those that are available free, though users are required to pay to enjoy advanced services or features. It appears that is how users tend to spend, with an overwhelming 98 percent of revenue in the Google Play Store coming from freemium apps. The same goes for Apple’s app store at an equally impressive though slightly lower 92 percent. Both figures mark a healthy improvement over the 77 and 89 percent that freemium apps once contributed to the Apple and Google app stores respectively. The research further revealed that freemium gaming apps specifically contributed more to the revenue stream for both the app stores than anything else.

The research also revealed that Asian markets have emerged as top contributors to the app store, with South Korea leading the way while the US continues to be among the most lucrative app markets for both Android and iOS platforms. The growth rate is an astounding 759 percent for South Korea, followed by China and Japan with respective growth rates of 280 and 245 percent.

As for their ability to bring in cash for their respective companies, the Apple App Store continues to be at the top while the Google Play Store has managed to narrow down the gap considerably over the year. As pointed out by the Distimo research, Apple made more than $18 million from its top 200 apps a day in November 2013, which compares favorably against $12 million that Google made from its Play Store. However, Google has made a more comprehensive improvement considering the corresponding figures a year ago were just $3.5 million compared to $15 million for Apple.

Similar research from mobile analytics firm App Annie pertaining to November 2013 has come up with interesting findings, claiming dating and cartoon creating apps to be doing quite well for Apple App Store. Dating apps Zoosk, Badoo, Grindr and AdoptAGuy are among the top ten most profitable non-gaming iOS apps, while MomentCam and Bitstrips are among the top two most downloaded iOS apps. The App Annie report also mentions Chinese firm Tiny Piece has proven to be the top publisher of kids’ gaming apps for November.

Freemium Apps Prove Beneficial For Google, Apple App Stores is a post from: E-Reader News

Bioscope – old-timey-fy your movies

We met Jon Stam at a Maker Faire last year. With Simon de Bakker, he’s made the Bioscope: a Pi-driven nostalgia machine. Part art project, part toy, it’s extremely simple: upload any digital movie onto a USB stick, pop it in the back of the Bioscope, and peep through the viewfinder.

But rather than just watch the movie play away, you have to move it yourself along by turning the red handle. Pause by stopping the handle, rewind by turning it backwards: and the whole thing has a lovely jerky, old-timey feel to it; the vintage feel underscored by the 3d-printed case, which is based on a copy of an old Fisher Price movie projector toy.

Jon and Simon are using the Bioscope to make an artistic statement about the way we interact with moving visual media. We like it for its satisfying shape and feel, for the way it reminds us of toys we had as kids, and for the cameo appearance of the Numa Numa guy in the above video.

The Bioscope guys have created a custom PCB that sits on top of the Raspberry Pi, which allows you to power the device from a single 3.7v lithium-ion cell. You can find some more technical details of what the custom PCB adds at i.materialise, where Jon and Simon had the case 3-d printed.

Right now, there don’t seem to be any firm plans to commercialise the Bioscope – we hope Jon and Simon do take it in that direction, because there’s something enormously appealing about it. We’ll let you know if we hear anything.

Flipping the classroom: eBooks and your curriculum

One of the latest trends in teaching is called the "flipped classroom." This technique involves providing lectures for students to view at home while what would normally be done as homework on their own time is completed in the classroom. It provides students the opportunity to ask questions and collectively problem solve with assistance from the teacher. A simple Google search will yield countless reports and success stories about how flipped classrooms are improving test scores in every subject.

Your digital library can assist in implementing a flipped classroom by providing easily accessible supplemental reading. Your students can borrow recommended eBooks through your OverDrive website that correlate with the lessons they've just viewed, you can use eBooks on an Interactive White Board to discuss language structure while in class, or you can use audiobooks to supplement or substitute lectures on specific topics.

With titles ranging from popular YA and fiction titles to test prep, biographies and countless education pieces, your OverDrive digital collection provides opportunities for your students to use the technology they're so used to having in their hands at all times. Flipped classrooms are centered on providing students with better collaboration opportunities, more interaction with teachers and using technology to better prepare students for their futures. Using your OverDrive Digital Library as a part of this formula gives you the chance to take this success one step further.


Adam Sockel is a Marketing Communications Specialist with OverDrive.


Baidu Completes Acquisition of Zongheng to form China’s Largest eBookstore


Chinese search engine giant Baidu that is often considered the country's Google equivalent has concluded the takeover of China's biggest ebookstore Zongheng. Negotiations towards this has been underway for some months now and the above conclusion can be considered to be just a step closer to it being seen as a content provider akin to what Google has shaped themselves to be off late.

The deal that is worth RMB 191.5 million ($31.3 million) will add another 100,000 titles to Baidu's existing stockpile of ebooks. This will put the company is better stead against rivals Suning as well as Amazon's Kindle store. Also, this makes Baidu's fifth major acquisition of the year that has cost the company a total of $2.74 billion so far.

Baidu Completes Acquisition of Zongheng to form China’s Largest eBookstore is a post from: E-Reader News