Thursday, January 23, 2014

Overdrive Going DRM-Free with Audiobooks

audio books for kids

Overdrive has quietly unveiled a radical change to their audiobook encryption system and it could have massive ramifications for any library that carries them. They are switching from the bulk and cumbersome WMA format and gravitating towards a simple DRM-Free MP3 Edition of the audiobook.

When you read a book, listen to a audiobook or watch a movie, you are mainly doing it with the official Overdrive app for Android, iOS or a number of other platforms. When the loan period is over, the title will disappear from your library and you won’t be able to listen to it anymore.

Overdrive is switching to MP3 because companies like Hachette, Penguin Group, Random House (Books on Tape and Listening Library), HarperCollins, AudioGo, Blackstone, Tantor Media and dozens of others all produce their audio editions in MP3 format. This makes being able to add the titles to the catalog quickly and then resell them to libraries, without a lull period of manually adding encryption.

In a blog post, Ben from Overdrive wrapped up by saying “We will soon be communicating the discontinuance of WMA sales, and then at a future date, we will announce when MP3 files will be the only supported format through OverDrive platforms. For libraries and schools that currently have WMA audiobook files in their collection, we will be working with the publishers of those titles to gain permissions to update your inventory to MP3. In the event that some titles are unavailable, an alternate solution will be offered to make up for the lost titles. Be on the lookout for announcements on our blog and from your Collection Development Specialist for a timeline of this process.”

Overdrive Going DRM-Free with Audiobooks is a post from: E-Reader News

Microsoft Reports Increase in Revenue From Surface Tablet Sales, Xbox 360


Microsoft may finally be seeing some method in the tablet madness it had found itself in in the post-PC era. With demand for PCs ever on the decline, its imperative for the Richmond company to drive focus on the other most happening computing segment, that of tablet PCs. In comes the Surface line of tablet devices though unfortunately, both of these tasted dirt during their initial run. However, things seem to be looking slightly better in their second run after being on the rough for almost a year. Revenue from Surface tablet more than doubled to $893 million during Q2, 2014, up from $400 million for Q1, 2014. This no doubt should bring some respite for the company that had to absorb a $900 million damage by way of inventory adjustment with the first gen Surface RT device.

The goodies do not stop here though, for the company also notched up impressive sales of the Xbox One which went in for 3.9 million units sold for the last quarter. Add to that the Xbox 360 which too are in strong favor, having notched up sales of 3.5 million during the said quarter and what you have is a grand total of 7.4 million gaming consoles sold during Q4. Xbox One has already trumped its nearest rival, the Sony Playstation 4 in sales for December after trailing it by a small margin since launch. Whether it can hold on to the lead in the long run is something to be seen.

Things though are a bit different with Windows which saw a hefty 69 percent decline, something that amounts to $264 million and is being attributed to the launch of Windows 8 the previous year. Windows Phone 8, on the other hand reported a 50 percent increase in profit, generating $340 million in revenue owing to greater acceptance of Windows phones worldwide. However, with most of the sales coming from Nokia, Microsoft will have to ensure other device manufacturers too are tempted to sell Windows phone if it wishes Windows Phone platform to soar.

These apart, revenue from search advertisement increased 34 percent while subscription for Microsoft's Office 365 Home Premium reached 3.5 million. In all, Microsoft is left with revenue of $24.52 billion for Q2 2014 though performance of its core segments such as Windows, Surface line-up, Windows Phones and so on will determine if it can remain that way for the long run.

Microsoft Reports Increase in Revenue From Surface Tablet Sales, Xbox 360 is a post from: E-Reader News

New award-winning titles and familiar access models now available to libraries with OverDrive Streaming Video

Several thousand TV shows and feature films have been added to our collection of Streaming Video titles now available in OverDrive Marketplace. More than 20 new suppliers, including Criterion Pictures, Revolver Entertainment, Cinedigm, TMW Media and DHX Media, combine to bring more than 4,100 new titles never before offered in Streaming Video format through OverDrive to library patrons and students.

OverDrive is continuously adding new media distributors to build a large catalog of popular, educational and classic Streaming Videos for lending. In addition to new titles available through OverDrive for the first time this year, a number of former download-only video titles have been refreshed to the Streaming Video format. OverDrive also has a few undisclosed deals that will become public in the coming weeks. Attendees at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia January 24-27 can stop by OverDrive booth #1723 for a preview of Streaming Video and to learn more about new suppliers and titles.

With the latest additions to OverDrive Streaming Video, users can search, sample, borrow and instantly watch titles from their libraries including the original Little Shop of Horrors (featuring Jack Nicholson), Night of the Living Dead, classics such as My Man Godfrey, Oliver Twist, Call of the Wild and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, children's titles like The Velveteen Rabbit, Inspector Gadget, Strawberry Shortcake and The Adventures of Paddington Bear, TV favorites such as The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes, The Real McCoys, The George Carlin Collection and The Saint, and documentary videos including Adam Clayton Powell, We Were Here, Robsessed: Inside the Life of Robert Pattinson, Prince William and Kate, and Steve Jobs. Additionally, thousands of education and instruction, stand-up comedy, and health and wellness titles are newly available in the OverDrive Streaming Video catalog.

Through the OverDrive Streaming Video service, titles are available for libraries and schools to curate and purchase from within the OverDrive Marketplace. Streaming Video titles are offered with familiar access models (one copy/one user and simultaneous access), which allow libraries and schools to easily manage their budgets and lending policies. OverDrive Streaming Videos can be sampled on the OverDrive Media Station and showcased within the physical library for users to discover and try the new service on-site.

Streaming Video is the widely-preferred format for digital video viewing, and we are excited to offer this service to our library and school partners. For those who choose to incorporate this great service for your patrons or students, Streaming Video format will be the only supported format for videos through your collection. If you have WMV files, any titles that are available in Streaming Video format will be automatically converted.

If you have questions, please contact your Collection Development Specialist at


January Content Specials: Don’t miss out on these great deals!

Celebrate and prepare for the Chinese New Year! Over 3,000 titles ranging from Chinese culture, history, travel, health and more are on sale up to 50% off from prominent Chinese publishers ’til February 15th. Find and purchase top Chinese content on sale and from special collections below.

Participating Publishers on sale: 10-50% Off


Shop Special Collections

Additional Sales

Sourcebook Sale – Select Titles $2.99 ('til February 1st)

Find and purchase essential self-improvement and helpful relationship titles from Sourcebooks just 2.99 USD ’til February 1st!

Harvest House Publishers – Select Titles As Low As $0.99 (til' March 31)

Christian nonfiction


*Please note that some titles may have geographic rights or other restrictions. Contact your Collection Development Specialist with any questions.

More Tips for Taking Online Classes with

We really don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that our free, instructor-supported classes are the best way to learn Microsoft Office online. (Well, besides for our equally good self-paced tutorials.) The classes are comprehensive and easy to follow, and our online instructors are patient, exceptionally helpful, and just plain nice. When you finish, you get... Read More ›

Daily Deals & Freebies – January 23

Kindle Daily Deals Japantown by Barry Lancet San Francisco antiques dealer Jim Brodie recently inherited a stake in his father's Tokyo-based private investigation firm, which means the single father of six-year-old Jenny is living a busy intercontinental life, traveling to Japan to acquire art and artifacts for his store and con­sulting on Brodie Security's caseload […]

Rooting Directions for New Nook GlowLight

The smart folks at XDA have done it again. I thought there would be little interest in rooting the new Nook GlowLight since it lacks an SD card slot and doesn’t really offer anything new that the older Nooks don’t have, aside from the improved frontlight and higher resolution screen. But that didn’t stop developers […]

App Ratings Show Readers Prefer OverDrive for eBook Lending

As library ebook lending for both academic and public institutions continues to make steady progress, libraries are finally able to “shop” the competition to provide the best user experience for their patrons, the largest catalogs of bestselling titles, and investigate the available features of different platforms. With different choices and different publishers participating in content providers’ catalogs, libraries find themselves with a good deal of leg work in order to provide the best value and best experience.

But according to data gathered this month based on users’ ratings of digital library lending apps, OverDrive has come out as the clear favorite among patrons who reviewed the app.

According to a statement from OverDrive on the honor, “Based on data gathered January 22, 2014, the OverDrive app has rated highest in the Apple App Store among competitors, with the most recent release scoring 4.5 stars out of 5. Across all versions, the app received 37,110 reviews. For comparison, 3M Cloud Library is rated at 3.5 based on 1,595 reviews, while Baker & Taylor Axis Reader's most recent release is rated 2 stars, with 16 reviews for all versions. Users are raving about the OverDrive app, with thousands of 5 star reviews such as: ‘I have always extolled the virtues of public libraries and now that I can carry the library with me on my iPad, I tell everyone I know about OverDrive.’”

OverDrive showed a similar favored status in both the Google Play and NOOK app stores, once again beating out 3M and Baker & Taylor. This higher rating among users also applied to OverDrive’s audiobook lending app, not just its print.

"Giving readers what they want by creating the best user experience has always been a top priority of ours," said Shannon Lichty, Director of Partner Services at OverDrive, in a statement to Good e-Reader. "We use feedback from end users and our library partners to continuously innovate, update and strengthen our products. The OverDrive app is feature-rich and intuitive, allowing for easy borrowing on any device."

App Ratings Show Readers Prefer OverDrive for eBook Lending is a post from: E-Reader News

Pro Wrestling Comes to Publishing

As the popularity of professional wrestling continues to grow, it seems fairly obvious that publishers would want to capitalize on the public interest in the entertainment-based sport. But to fully realize the unique book needs of wrestling, specifically as it pertains to the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) company, Penguin Group called on its DK Publishing company to produce full-color, informative titles on the athletes involved, the history of the WWE, and more.

With eighteen planned titles including a comprehensive history of wrestling and a line of children’s books devoted to individual wrestlers’ biographies, DK and WWE have planned out a rather involved campaign of publications. This deal, brokered to release titles over a three year period, will include the full-color print titles but also the digital and international rights to the books.

While the digital editions have not been specifically outlined, a project of this scope would lend itself well to a line of app-based ebooks, given the sheer volume of high resolution images from the fifty years of the sport, thirty of which included the popular WrestleMania franchise. Embedded videos, wrestler and promoter interviews, and other interactive features could increase the popularity and marketability of a line of books about pro wrestling.

"WWE is committed to delivering a wide array of content on many different platforms, and this partnership will give our fans another way to experience the greatest moments, events and Superstars in WWE history," said Casey Collins, Executive Vice President, Consumer Products, WWE. "With DK, we can build on the success of our popular WWE Encyclopedia and provide a variety of compelling content for years to come."

Pro Wrestling Comes to Publishing is a post from: E-Reader News

Amazon Publishing Announces New Christian Imprint Waterfall Press

Amazon’s traditional publishing house Amazon Publishing has a number of genre specific imprints under its label, and today has announced its newest family member, Waterfall Press. This imprint will focus specifically on fiction and non-fiction Christian titles. The books will be published under Brilliance Publishing’s leadership, one of the Amazon companies.

"Brilliance has over 12 years of experience serving the Christian market as audiobook publisher of some of the most successful Christian authors writing today," said Mark Pereira, President and Publisher of Brilliance Publishing. "We are excited to expand our offering to readers of faith-based material by publishing original Christian content with enduring appeal."

Waterfall Press joins the other Amazon Publishing imprints: 47North, AmazonCrossing, AmazonEncore, Amazon Publishing, Grand Harbor Press, Jet City Comics, Kindle Worlds, Lake Union, Little A, Montlake Romance, Skyscape, StoryFront, Thomas & Mercer, and Two Lions. Brilliance Publishing, part of Amazon’s group, has extensive experience in not only faith-based publishing, but also has been a large player in audiobook publishing across a wide variety of genres and well-known titles.

Several of Waterfall’s upcoming releases, including its two initial titles The Four Best Places to Live and The Quiet Revolution, will be published in partnership with Christianity Today.

"The breadth of Amazon's opportunities creates a dynamic bridge between the author and reader that can move the content conversation to a growing global audience," said Harold Smith, President and CEO of Christianity Today.

Amazon Publishing Announces New Christian Imprint Waterfall Press is a post from: E-Reader News

A video that made us cry

A little-known fact: Eben and I are disgustingly sentimental. So when Matt Timmons-Brown (who you may know better as The Raspberry Pi Guy from his excellent series of YouTube tutorials) sent us this video late last night, we watched it together and found that by the end we had both got salty tears on our Battenberg cake. I’m hoping this is not a totally unusual reaction to seeing two years of your life compressed into under five minutes of video.

Matt produced this for the Raspberry Pi’s second anniversary, which is coming up at the end of February; it took him ten hours to edit everything together. When you’re in the eye of the storm of something like Raspberry Pi, as we are, it’s sometimes hard to see beyond the desk you sit at every day and perceive exactly how much the work you’re doing is affecting people outside your office: Matt’s video acted as a bit of a Total Perspective Vortex.

Thank you Matt: we’re really very grateful, and we think the video is rather wonderful. I don’t think anybody has better encapsulated what Raspberry Pi is all about than you have managed to here in just four and a half minutes.

Adobe Cracks Down on Piracy with New ePub DRM


Adobe has just pushed out new Digital Rights Management encryption system for their entire line of publishing products. This was designed to make changes to the security of of ePub and PDF Files. Adobe is claiming that the new changes to one of the most popular electronic book formats in the world is the most secure they have ever produced.

The new set of DRM for ePub files has been pushed out to Adobe Digital Editions 3.0 and Adobe Content Server. Adobe has been working with their publishing and hardware partners, such as Sony, to refine the code before they released it to the public. This time around Adobe wants to keep the source code under lock and key to prevent people from writing decryption tools and plugins for popular conversion software like Calibre.

The new way to encrypt ePub and PDF eBooks will be up to the companies that distribute them. Companies like Sony are in a prime position to take advantage of the new technology because they sell books and also write the e-reading software. Other companies who write 3rd party reading software for iOS and Android are put on notice to incorporate the new systems in order to stay relevant.

When it comes to protecting eBooks, Adobe may not be the force in the industry, when it comes to encryption anymore. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo all have their own ways to encrypt eBooks. Amazon has their own proprietary format, while B&N and Kobo use schema. It is thought that the companies that actually use the stock Adobe version of DRM make up less than 5% of the total eBook market.

I was told by some members of the WTC that Adobe is planning a new online verification tool that queries a an always on internet connection. This is something that many game companies are employing to curb piracy, such as Electronic Arts. Likely, we will not see this “Always Online DRM” for another year or two. Companies need to adjust to the new higher form of encryption in the here and now.

Adobe Cracks Down on Piracy with New ePub DRM is a post from: E-Reader News

Apple Sold 25 Million iPhone and iPad Devices During the Holidays

iPad iPhone

Apple might have made a killing during the holiday season so far as sales of iPhone and iPad devices are concerned. While official announcement is not expected before Jan 27, unofficial sources have already pegged the figure at an astounding 25 million. Of these 15 million is believed to have been contributed by iPhone and the rest by iPad devices. Both the figures apply to the holiday quarter and make for a 16 and 10 percent jump in sales of iPhone and iPad respectively.

However, while it has been easy to get at a fairly accurate estimate for the new iPhone 5s and 5c which had gone on sale around October, there could be some ambiguity over which iPad model went in for how many buys considering the latest iPad Air started shipping only from Nov 1. Further, the iPad Mini with Retina Display arrived even later, as it started shipping not before Nov 13, which means almost halfway through the holiday quarter. If that is not all, the second gen iPad Mini has been in short supply for most of the holiday quarter. Worth mentioning here, the above sales estimate for the iPad is based on data from 45 Apple analysts comprising of 28 from professionals and 17 amateurs. What this means is that there could some ambiguity which will be clear once Apple releases the official figures this coming Monday, Jan 27.

However, what is amply clear is that Apple has had one of the best holiday sales in recent times with both its iPhone and iPad devices trumping every other challenge over the respective segments.

Apple Sold 25 Million iPhone and iPad Devices During the Holidays is a post from: E-Reader News