Friday, January 3, 2014

Why Amazon’s Proprietary eBook Format is Better than ePub


Amazon has been actively developing its own proprietary eBook format for the last six years. Unlike EPUB, Amazon has the ability to introduce new features in their digital format without waiting for a standards body to approve them. Amazon is clearly winning the eBook sales race with USA market penetration of over 75% and is primarily due to them having control over their own destiny.

When Amazon first developed their Kindle e-Reader at Lab126, ePub did not yet exist. In order to roll out their Kindle and fledgling digital ecosystem that had to develop a digital standard that was in compliance with most reading software of its day. Instead of making it themselves, they purchased Mobipocket in 2005, and the MOBI format is still used to this day. Amazon then started to develop their own book formats, such as AZW and media friendly KF8.

Around the same time Amazon was pursuing their digital book empire the entire industry was in disarray. Palm, Microsoft, Sony, Fictionbook, and many others were vying for standardization. The advantage Amazon had over their competition is that they sold eBooks on their website and owned hardware to deliver the content.

EPUB has been around for a long time and is the brainchild of the IDPF, who is the governing body. They vote on standardization features brought to the table by developers, publishers and tech companies. To get anything done of note, takes years. EPUB3 was to be the solution for multimedia content and an attempt to deliver audio, video and interactive elements. The evolutionary growth of the platform has been stymied by a collective organization of incompetents and people loving to speak at conferences, but get very little done. This is why Apple comes along and dominates multimedia books with their own iBooks Author software.

The Amazon eBook formats dominate the English speaking world and ePub tends to be advantageous for localization in countries like the Netherlands and Germany. It is very popular in countries that have a huge piracy problem like China and Vietnam.

Readers and bookworms are the people that fuel Amazon’s growth. They certainly do not care what book format they use, they simply want to read. Amazon is in the position to pioneer innovation in a shorter period of time with their deep pockets and bright engineers. This is how features such as Public Notes, X-Ray and WhisperSync for Voice have been implemented. EPUB is developed by a collective body, nuff said.

Why Amazon’s Proprietary eBook Format is Better than ePub is a post from: E-Reader News

3D Gorilla Glass Announced by Corning for Wearable Tech


Gorilla Glass is found on many tablets and smartphones, which helps in the survivability of your tech from everyday life. The company has announced today new technology that will see them enter the wearable tech space, mainly with smart watches.

The 3D glass will allow it to conform to your wrist and allow manufacturing to product watches that have screens bending around your wrist. Traditional smart watches like the Toq, or Pebble have simple, non-bendable screens. Its newly available technique conforms to unusual designs without adding bulk or losing strength.

Corning said in a statement that “Corning's 3D-forming technology can achieve precise tolerances and high throughput on a platform that is more economical than alternative two-mold forming methods. This technology uses Gorilla Glass of uniform thickness, assisting designers to introduce thinner and lighter devices and leverage the emergence of conformable displays for mobile and wearable applications.”

Gorilla Glass is the primary company Apple deals with for their gadgets and many other companies rely on them for their durable screen technology.

3D Gorilla Glass Announced by Corning for Wearable Tech is a post from: E-Reader News

Breaking: Disney to Move Star Wars Comics to Marvel

Marvel Star Wars comic

Marvel and Dark Horse announced today that Disney is taking back the license for the Star Wars comics and will move it over to Marvel in 2015.

Dark Horse has had the franchise for over 20 years, during which they not only spun out a series of prequels and sequels that added to the Star Wars universe but also, in the past year, launched two new series: Star Wars, which was set in the world of the first movie, and The Star Wars, a comic based on George Lucas’s first draft of the screenplay.

There has been speculation that Disney would make this move ever since it acquired Lucasfilm in December 2012. Last year, they announced that they will make a new Star Wars trilogy, with the first movie scheduled for a summer 2015 release date—making 2015 the year that Star Wars comics turn into big money. Since Disney also owns Marvel, this is an obvious next step, but it’s one that many fans of Dark Horse’s Star Wars comics were hoping wouldn’t happen.

I asked Dark Horse spokesman Aub Driver what would happen to Star Wars comics that were purchased digitally via the Dark Horse app and he said “All purchased titles residing in your account on Dark Horse Digital will remain in your account’s ‘Cloud’ forever. So, while the Star Wars titles may no longer be purchasable from the storefront after December 2014 – they will certainly remain viewable and readable in your account.”

As for what will be the fate of the 20 years’ worth of comics produced by Dark Horse, Driver said, “Per our original contract with LucasFilm, reprints/usage of Dark Horse published material would require Disney to purchase the original files directly from Dark Horse.”

Here’s what Dark Horse president Mike Richardson had to say, in a letter sent out today. “For those who are new to the industry, Dark Horse revolutionized the treatment of comics based on films. After a history of movie properties being poorly handled with little regard for execution and continuity, Dark Horse took a new approach, carefully choosing licenses and approaching them with excitement and creative energy.”

He elaborated “Our goal was to create sequels and prequels to the films we loved, paying careful attention to quality and detail, essentially treating those films as though they were our own. Star Wars has been the crown jewel of this approach. We began chasing the title as far back as 1989, and with the launch of Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy's Dark Empire, a new era in comics was born. I'm not ashamed to admit that we were Star Wars geeks, and we have been determined to spare neither effort nor expense in the pursuit of excellence.”

He also notes that Dark Horse has been preparing for this for some time and has added a number of new projects to its schedule for the next two years, and he concludes with this – “In the meantime, 2014 may be our last year at the helm of the Star Wars comics franchise, but we plan to make it a memorable one. We know that fans of the franchise will expect no less. The Force is with us still.”

Breaking: Disney to Move Star Wars Comics to Marvel is a post from: E-Reader News

Personal Shopping at Hoover High School

Editor’s Note: This blog post was written by Nikki Robertson, school librarian at Hoover High School in Hoover, Ala., to showcase a unique way of engaging students and personalize the reading experience. Do you have a story you’d like to share on the OverDrive blog about how to engage readers with your digital collection? Email with your story.


School libraries are a hub of activity, offering an endless variety of services.  At The Library@HHS, we like to refer to the library as the "One Stop Shop.”  If we can't meet your needs, we can always connect you with someone who can.

One service that gives us a great deal of joy is Personal Shopping for students. Personal shoppers help others shop by giving advice and making suggestions to customers usually found in department stores or specialty boutiques. We have taken the Personal Shopper concept and revamped it for the school library. Typically when we take on the role of a personal shopper, it is at the request of a teacher for the students in their classes. The students are asked to write down the following:

  • Last book read
  • Favorite book(s)
  • Favorite TV Show
  • Favorite movie
  • Hobbies
  • Anything else you think will help us match you to your perfect book

Occasionally, the teacher will write the student's lexile level on the back of the Personal Shopping Card and ask us to find book matches within the indicated reading level. Matching students to their perfect book is a meticulous process. On average, for a class of 25 students, it can take two to three days to find at least three book matches for each student.

Here is a basic breakdown of the Personal Shopping process:

The teacher collects the personal shopping detail cards from their students and gives them to the librarians. We take one card at a time, review the information provided and then begin searching our Destiny library management system and our OverDrive account for books that best match each student’s interests. This is just the beginning of the Personal Shopping process.  Because we want to provide students with quality books, we spend a great deal of time reading book reviews, checking book award lists, and checking sites like Goodreads and Shelfari for ratings. Students at Hoover High School  have a voracious appetite for books, which throws a kink in our personal shopping process as it is often a challenge to actually find the books we have chosen on the shelves available for check out, virtually or physically. This is a good yet challenging "problem" when serving as a personal shopper.

Once all students have been matched to at least three book choices, we schedule the class to come to the library for the big "unveiling" of the books.

HHS_Personal-shopperWe briefly explain the Personal Shopping process to the students as well as letting the students know that if we haven't made a successful match we will work with them individually to find the perfect book. Students are given their book match stack and advised to find a comfortable place to review each of their books. If they like a book or books in their stack they can check those books out and begin reading. Any books students did not choose to take with them are put in a central location for others to peruse.

It is always fun watching students get excited about the books we have chosen for them. One girl exclaimed, "All of these books are perfect for me!"
There are always one or two students in each class who we strike out with.  We work with these students one on one and delve deeper into their particular interests. We are proud to say we have a 100 percent success rate matching books to readers. Students often come back just a few days after a personal shopping experience to tell us how much they loved the book and asking us to match them up with another great book.


 Nikki Robertson is a school librarian at Hoover High School.


New Digital Site and Conference from Founders of AllThingsD

The founders of the Wall Street Journal owned AllThingsD digital news and tech column have split from the News Corp owned group and launched their own site, Re/Code, which went live on January 2nd. Co-founders and digital industry veterans Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher have also created a new conference, Code, as part of their new venture. The site formerly known as now redirects readers to the newly formed WSJD.

While the duo have decades of industry experience between them, the new venture will focus on digital technology news and reviews; the building of Re/Code will be to exert complete control over their brand. This included reaching new investors, including Windsor Media and NBCUniversal and its properties, CNBC, NBC News and MSNBC. This will mean expanded content collaboration between Re/Code and other involved news outlets.

For its part, the Wall Street Journal has already announced its intentions for its replacement for AllThingsD, which will include long-form pieces on the industry and its own global technology conference, which isn’t surprising given the popularity and the attendance of the long-time AllThingsD conferences.

New Digital Site and Conference from Founders of AllThingsD is a post from: E-Reader News

Digital First Media Announcement Finalized

As newspapers around the country are struggling to find their places in the digital publishing market, a mid-December announcement that strengthens one outlet became finalized only days ago. MediaNews Group and 21st Century Media first announced their joint combination on December 17th, and finalized the details of the announcement on the 30th. The new entity will operate as Digital First Media.

"This is an important moment for our Company and positions us to accelerate our growth under a single and innovative brand," said John Paton, Chief Executive Officer of Digital First Media, in a press release on the partnership.

More than 67 million readers in the US consume Digital First Media’s 800 multi-platform offerings, making Digital First Media the second largest newspaper group in the US.

One of the keys to success for newspapers going into the digital age is retaining subscribers in a time when news is available for free throughout the web. Another obstacle has been keeping advertisers happy and helping them see how much time is spent by their audiences interacting with digital ads. Companies like Aquafadas and solutions like Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite have stepped in to help companies with long histories of print media ease into a new comfort zone as digital content providers.

Digital First Media Announcement Finalized is a post from: E-Reader News

News from Carrie Anne Philbin

Carrie Anne’s end-of-year edition of Geek Gurl Diaries had some news in it that might interest you.

The whole of the video (especially the book competition) is likely to be something you’ll find interesting – but the REALLY interesting bit is the announcement that Carrie Anne makes at around the 3:49 mark.

Congratulations Carrie Anne – we’re really looking forward to seeing you on Monday morning!