Saturday, March 8, 2014

New Marvel AR Update to be Released April 2014


Marvel AR is an augmented e-reading app that gives you a multimedia experience based on the comic you are reading. The premise of the app is to be a second screen to the traditional comic book. You get interviews with the artists and writers and even fight scenes. The new Marvel AR update is going to be jam packed with new enhancements.

The last time Marvel AR was updated was July 11 2013, which makes it fairly outdated. At the South by Southwest event in Texas, Marvel has confirmed that a big update will be released in April. "It was just time," John Cerilli, VP of Content & Programming, said. "After concentrating on the actual content going into the app and pumping it full for nearly two years, we realized the app itself may not be giving users the best experience it can."

Marvel has promised that the app will load up faster and give you all of the AR features faster then before. "We promise more 3D!" Cerilli said. "One of the finest executions we've done to date was seeing Cap fight Wolverine in our AVENGERS VS X-MEN Hardcover. Fans really loved it. We really loved it. So we've figured out a way to budget for them and when fans see what we have in store with some of the new 3D executions, they're going to love it. We're also really fond of our Marvel Science series and have a great relationship with some world class thinkers, so you'll see a lot more of that, too

New Marvel AR Update to be Released April 2014 is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amtrak Writers’ Residencies Closer to Being a Reality

What began life as a wishful what-if exchange on Twitter has now grown into a full-blown authors’ program from one of the US’s dominant railway companies, Amtrak. When two writers exchanged a few tweets about the joy they could derive from riding a passenger train and writing away the miles, Amtrak jumped in and made it a reality, at least for the one tweeting.

Now, more details have come out about the potential for Amtrak to offer a train writing program to more authors. According to Ben Cosman for TheWire:

“Julia Quinn, Amtrak’s Director of Social Media, did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit today to discuss the company’s writer’s residency program. According to Quinn, Amtrak is still “formalizing” the official program, but she did offer a few new details.

  • An online application process will go online some time in the next few days.
  • Amtrak hopes to begin the official program this spring.
  • Amtrak will use a panel comprised of individuals from Amtrak and the literary community to review resident applications.
  • Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis.
  • Writers’ residencies will last 2-5 days, according to Quinn.
  • Amtrak wants residents on each of its 15 long-distance routes.”

While Amtrak hasn’t made it clear what the actual definition of a writer would be for this type of residency program, even more details are expected in the near future. This type of program, even if no longer offered for free but rather at a significant discount, stands to not only be a tremendous PR move for the company, but can also fill up some of the empty seats on various routes, especially if authors are able to be as flexible in their travel dates as they are in their writing schedules.

Amtrak Writers’ Residencies Closer to Being a Reality is a post from: Good e-Reader

Pebble 2.0 Update Launched


The Pebble update for Android has finally arrived, after being in the testing phase for quite some time. Pebble Version 2.0 can be downloaded from the Google Play Store to the watch, and among the new features are a watchapp directory, watchapp locker, and a new app interface that has been given a thorough once over. Users will also be given prior notifications about the update.

There are a few new watchfaces as well, with some showing essential information such as temperature and battery life. Some inform the user via a vibration that the Bluetooth connection with the mother Android device is lost. Similarly, the GetApp section will allow one to download apps such as Foursquare, Yelp, eBay, Plex, Runtastic Pro, to name a few.

Overall, it’s a nice update that goes a long way towards enhancing the functionality of the Pebble smartwatch.

Pebble 2.0 Update Launched is a post from: Good e-Reader

Exclusive: The Canadian Government is Seeking to Destroy Kobo

kobo ereaders

Kobo is beginning to feel the pinch of  prospective lower profit margins in Canada. The Canadian Government is forcing them to renegotiate contracts with all of their major publishing partners. Kobo sees this as being “Devastating for the company” and will relegate them to “an ineffective competitor.”

Two weeks ago, the Commissioner of Competition in Canada mandated to Kobo that it had 40 days to re-negotiate contracts with Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, HarperCollins, and Hachette. Immediately the publishers starting mailing letters to Kobo, demanding their existing contracts be augmented or cancelled completely. Complex contract negotiations take time, and Kobo may find themselves being unable to sell thousands of titles to customers in Canada. In contrast each publisher in the United States DOJ settlement took 16 months each.

The US Justice Department has been running a very high profile case with Apple and the top 5 major publishers. All of the publishers settled out of court with specific agreements. Most of the exact proclivities of the publishers settlements were varied and not consistent, none were publicly available. Kobo is contending that the DOJ lacks jurisdiction in Canada and any settlement in the US, is not binding, because no one knows exactly what they were.

Kobo first started implementing agency pricing with publishers in 2011. The essence of agency was to have eBooks sold at a common value.  Normally, the publisher sets the price and Kobo gets 30% of each book sale. If the publisher price matches the book against another site, Kobo would still get the same commission, but at a reduced rate. Each publishing contract is negotiated separately, some adhering to the wholesale model and others agencies, or a combination of both.

A new term most people have not heard of before is called “Agency-Lite.” These agreements arose after the settlement agreements and final judgements that transpired in the US. The essence of Agency-Lite is that allows the publishers to set the price, but allows Kobo to diverge from the sale price. One of the conditions entail the discount cannot exceed the total margin that the retailer earns from annual book sales, this is called the “discount pool.”

When Kobo first formed their company, they abided by the wholesale model, which was tremendously unprofitable. They had lost millions in their first few years trying to compete against Amazon, Sony, Apple and Barnes and Noble. Kobo contends that the Wholesale model is not indicative to an online environment of price matching algorithms.

The Canadian government is now forcing Kobo to iron out new contracts with Hachette, Macmillan, Harper Collins and others. If they can’t do it in 40 days the existing ones will be void and Kobo will be forced to remove thousands of books from their bookstore. Without a full catalog of eBooks from all of the Canadian publishers “Kobo would be an ineffective competitor. Customers choose eBooks and e-Readers based on the breadth of their catalogs”. If Kobo lost any of these “they would cease to be a credible player in the market place.” Conversely, if Kobo accepts the amendments and shifts it operations to Agency-Lite, it will suffer unrecoverable losses.

If you live in the USA, you will likely know that you would find it difficult to find a Kobo e-Reader available. This is primarily due to when the USA adopted Agency-Lite, Kobo saw its net revenues decline and stopped investing in that market. It closed down its office in Chicago and decided to focus aggressively on international expansion. In a legal filing Kobo said that the reason Barnes and Noble and Sony’s business collapsed in the US was directly attributed to the abolishment of agency pricing. Now, we might see Kobo abandon the Canadian market, just like they did in the USA.

The only play Kobo has in a legal battle against the Canadian Government is to play the jurisdiction card. The publisher settlements and the abandoning of Agency pricing was purely based in the United States. The Justice Department and the settlements have no legal jurisdiction in Canada. If Kobo fails to make a case and have to absorb profit loses by switching to a hybrid of wholesale and agency-lite it looks likely Kobo will kill their Canadian ebook business. They certainly won’t be able to compete against Amazon and Apple. I mean they could, but it wouldn’t be worth it anymore.

Exclusive: The Canadian Government is Seeking to Destroy Kobo is a post from: Good e-Reader