Monday, April 7, 2014

eBook Discovery Platform ‘My Independent Bookshop’ Launches


Penguin Random House has launched a new initiative that will allow readers to discover and purchase new eBooks. The My Independent Bookshop project is currently UK based and will be coming to the US later this year.

The essence of the social platform is that it encourages readers to set up their own virtual bookshops to share their favourite reads as well as discover, recommend and review books online. The free site launches today in closed beta, kick-starting a month-long period where select authors and book fans will be invited to join the community and start creating their shops. Anyone with an interest can also register at to be among the first to set up their virtual bookshop when 'My Independent Bookshop' goes live to the general public.

There is a strong social media element to the Bookshop with users being able to connect with Facebook, Twitter and Google+. This makes it easy for readers to give their friends, family and fans in their social networks a window into their shops. Through the website itself readers can also share and request personal recommendations from among the 'My Independent Bookshop' community if they choose.

The second part of this bookshop is to purchase eBooks through the system. All books in the virtual shops are available to buy online through, the ecommerce arm of Gardners wholesalers, which is connected with hundreds of independent bookshops across the UK. As part of the registration process, 'My Independent Bookshop' users can choose their favourite real-world independent bookshop to connect with. Hive will then pass a commission from any purchase made through the website to their chosen shop.

Transworld author Terry Pratchett has praised the way the platform will support independent bookshops. He said: "Independent bookshops supported this jobbing genre author long before the geeks were let out of their wardrobes, being able to support these talented retail wizards through 'My Independent Bookshop' is a very, very good thing."

eBook Discovery Platform ‘My Independent Bookshop’ Launches is a post from: Good e-Reader

The Publishing Industry is Flourishing

London Book Fair 2013

There is certainly a copious amount of negative press surrounding the publishing industry and booksellers all over the world. Major chains have folded in the US, Germany and Australia in the last few years and indie bookstores continue to go out of business. Journalists and public officials constantly single out Amazon, lambasting them for disrupting an entire industry. As it happens, the publishing sector is doing quite well, and even flourishing.

The London Book Fair has just started and it is attracting the global publishing industry to bid on book rights and to talk shop. “Some commentators say the publishing industry is in enormous trouble today. They are completely wrong, and I don’t understand that view at all,” says Tom Weldon, UK chief executive of Penguin Random House, one of the biggest players in Britain’s book world.

Traditional publishing revenue has increased in a geometric rate during the last few years. Penguin, Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins and others all report between 24-32% of their global earnings stemming from digital. "In the last four years, Penguin and Random House have had the best years in their financial history," Weldon says. "Book publishers have managed the digital transition better than any other media or entertainment industry. I don’t understand the cultural cringe around books." It would be heartening in some ways to think that the book trade could actually learn from what had happened in other media, instead of simply ignoring, discounting, or blocking it.”

When it comes to the transition of the publishing industry into the digital world, there has been numerous case studies to learn from. The music and video sectors saw tremendous growing pains. Piracy ran rampant with Kazaa and then Bittorrent. The streaming technologies were slow and unwieldy and it looks lots of wrangling from Apple and Amazon to get everyone on the same page and develop an industry standard for selling songs individually and convincing executives and artists that they aren’t being devalued. This opened up the system for companies like Hulu, Pandora, Soundhound and iHeartradio to develop amazing ecosystems that stand out in a crowd.

This is no denying the bookstores all over the world are in decline. Indigo and Barnes and Noble continue to survive in North America. In recent years these stores have managed to implement lifestyle products such as wine glasses, pillows and bath robes, which have helped offset the decline in book sales. RedGroup, Borders, and Weltbild have all collapsed in recent years as readers switch to digital. This is prompting the publishing companies to put an emphasis on initiating digital discovery features to rope in more readers. Penguin UK already has 700,000 followers on Twitter, while every month 2,500 subscribers open an email from the company. “We might tell our stories many different ways, whether that is books or ebooks, or apps, or toys, or clothes. We are developing a much broader range of intellectual property and exploiting it.”

Penguin/Random House takes a gamble on 250 new writers a year in the hopes a few of them will take off. No other industry takes a gamble on young artists in this manner. The real bread and butter though, is the bankable writers with big names. They generate the most revenue for the publishers which allow them to take risks on new ones.

In the end, if you follow the publishing industry there is a lot of doom and gloom. Everyone jumps on the decline of the publishing and book industry bandwagon. Most publishers and mid-level publishers are doing record business and this allows companies such as Amazon to make billions on it.

The Publishing Industry is Flourishing is a post from: Good e-Reader

Plastic Logic Gets into the Wearables Game


Plastic Logic is intent on leveraging their screen technology to the wearable sector. In order to facilitate this move they have engaged in a new partnership with Solvay Specialty Polymers, a recognised leader in polymeric materials development for the electronics sector. The two companies will combine their labs to deliver low power flexible electronics suitable for today's ever-changing world of ubiquitous sensors, mobile displays, and wearable devices.

The companies have committed to a joint development program that will initially demonstrate and then industrialise low power variants of such devices within two years. The technology will enable product designers to develop stylish, more ergonomically-friendly devices in several emerging industrial segments, including flexible AMOLED and other displays for mobile and Wearables and the Internet of Things,- markets which are forecast to be worth $12Bn by 2020 (IHS 2013 report) and $1.9 trillion across all sectors in 2020 respectively.

Plastic Logic has not seen much commercial success in their entire line of products. Instead, they tend to act as a white label solution for companies wanting to use low-powered flexible display screens for their phones, e-readers and tablets. In recent times they started making secondary screens, built into smartphone cases with a faux e Ink screen.

Plastic Logic Gets into the Wearables Game is a post from: Good e-Reader

ComiXology Begins Selling Eco Comics Digitally


Comixology has just signed a digital distribution deal with Eco Comics. The move sees Eco Comics bringing all its past, present and future titles – including flagship books Green Man, and Dracula vs. Robin Hood vs. Jekyll & Hyde directly to comiXology’s global-reaching digital comics platform.  Individual issues are priced between 99 cents (60p) and $1.99 (£1.20). Graphic novels are priced $2.99 (£1.80). Preview issues will be distributed for free.

We’re excited to be offering Eco Comics’ great line of environmentally conscious comics that we’re sure that fans everywhere will love,” said comiXology VP of Communications & Marketing, Chip Mosher. “We believe in the green message of Eco Comics and are happy to push their comics farther than ever before through comiXology’s global reach.”

“Eco Comics is proud to have been digital, green and paperless since we began, but joining forces with comiXology – which recently passed two hundred million downloads of comics and graphic novels – is the next big step in our evolution,” said Eco Comics Editor, Stuart Buckley. “It’s an exciting development and the perfect opportunity to provide our bold claim to represent the future of comic books.”

ComiXology Begins Selling Eco Comics Digitally is a post from: Good e-Reader

The Bullies Win: Authors Abandoning Publishing Over Online Behaviors

An example of the behavior authors like Rice are working to stop.

An example of the behavior authors like Rice are working to stop.

Good e-Reader has given extensive coverage to a situation plaguing the publishing industry, both from a self-publishing standpoint and a traditional one: author bullying. While information has come out that some authors have engaged in less-than-professional tactics, particularly where book reviews are concerned, the situation has escalated to the point that some well-known authors like Anne Rice have lent their support to calling for a change in how online platforms allow anonymous “trolling” of authors and their works.

News has come out this week of at least two authors who have declared that they will no longer write and publish their works due to the behaviors of a handful of people. Authors Sarah Daltry and Nadine Christian, independently of each other, have announced on their blogs and social media that they will be closing their accounts and removing all of their self-published works, although they will be unable to do anything to remove their contracted titles.

Daltry had this to say on a blog dedicated to her decision:

“I want to start positive. For all of you who have supported my work and been there through this process, thank you. I will be eternally grateful. I wish I could have done more, could have been more, because it means so much to me that you've stuck by me. For the characters – especially Jack – thank you for trusting me with your stories. I love you with a part of myself that will always belong to you. I'm so sorry I didn't do you justice and that you trusted me rather than someone who could have truly given you a voice.”

In Christian’s case, the aggressive behavior was never in the form of book reviews, but rather in personal and anonymous contacts in the form of harassing emails and messages. She spoke with Good e-Reader about the behavior and her decision to discontinue her work as a writer.

“If being in the public eye led to that sort of vicious — and obvious stalking — was it worth continuing? I love to write, but would putting my work out there be worth the heart ache? The reaction I feel deep down every time I open an email from someone I’m not sure of was starting to give me stomach pains.”

In this age of online anonymity that allows small people to behave this way towards authors, why couldn’t Christian simply change her online name and start over, building a new brand and readership?

“It had run through my mind. Starting over, becoming Joe Bloggs, Jane Doe. But what if it’s me? What if I’ve done something to someone and not realised it? What if it’s my location, personality, even writing style that’s insulted so many? I love to write, even if it’s not published.”

What makes the bullying so disturbing in Christian’s case is that the author herself admits that she’s far from being a bestseller, and simply enjoyed writing and publishing her work and making her fan base happy; she has also stated that she did not engage in any of the behaviors which the so-called Goodreads bullies say justified their relentless attacks against authors, such as responding to negative reviews or blogging about the issue. The targeted behavior, which has lead to multiple harassing and threatening emails sometimes daily, isn’t aimed at someone who is serious competition or even on an international stage. The author herself remains unaware of what brought on this rabid attack.

“Some [of the messages] are about me and where I live, which makes me wonder if that’s the fun for these people. Hassle me about who and where I am, what I do. Most though–eighty-five percent–are about my writing.”

Both Daltry and Christian are in the process of removing their works and closing their blogs and social media accounts.

The Bullies Win: Authors Abandoning Publishing Over Online Behaviors is a post from: Good e-Reader

Librarians Share: San Antonio Public Library engages young readers with eReading Rooms for kids and teens

OverDrive’s eReading Room for Kids has been a runaway hit this year for public libraries looking for an exciting way to engage young readers in a safe environment. In addition to the Kids' eReading Room, public libraries now have the option of a dedicated eReading Room for Teens.

One of the first public libraries to go live with two eReading Rooms for Kids and Teens is San Antonio Public Library. San Antonio Public Library is continually at the forefront of innovation with fresh perspectives on reaching new audiences through their digital collection. Caitlin Cowart, Community and Public Relations Manager, was kind enough to share more about her library's plans with the eReading Rooms.

What led to your decision to incorporate two eReading Rooms dedicated to kids and teens?
The San Antonio Public Library (SAPL) is committed to providing the best possible customer service to our patrons, and kids and teens represent large segments of our patron population. The ability to customize the collections within the eReading Rooms allows us to tailor the content to align with library initiatives like the Summer Reading Program and Teen Tech Week and yearly themed content such as National Poetry Month and Women's History Month. Also, developmentally appropriate material is now more easily accessible to teachers and parents since content can be searched by reading and interest level. These eReading Rooms bring attention to the great richness of SAPL's collections, while helping us to accommodate the evolving interest that our patrons have for accessing content digitally.

What are your expectations for success with the new destinations for young readers?
We expect that awareness and usage of such eBook collections – targeted at children and teens – will increase notably. Because the eReading Rooms simulate a familiar retail experience except with items that are absolutely free, SAPL expects an increased number of digital library users and even increased library card sign-ups. The user-friendly platform and personalized search capabilities allow SAPL an opportunity to establish relationships with these newest generations, to ensure that we continue to be perceived as valuable and relevant.

What are your plans for promotion?
The first step taken toward promotion of the eReading Rooms was the design and implementation of digital banners on the website and in branches. The first day the eReading Rooms were made available to our patrons set a record for the highest number of users to check out a digital item since we started circulating eBooks through our Overdrive Digital Collection in August of 2007.

Also, a key aspect to promotion is through relationships with school districts and other community partners that share similar goals of the San Antonio Public Library. Our Children's and Teen librarians are promoting the eReading Rooms through outreach to these groups and working in creative ways to increase usage with area students in and out of the classroom that support school-age learning.

In general, please share any details related to your library's initiatives to increase readership among younger patrons.
Readership among younger patrons is encouraged through many Library initiatives including Every Child Ready to Read and the Summer Reading Program. Teen Tech Week is a recent, successful initiative that was all about extending learning beyond the classroom where teens can explore, create and share digital content with activities with 3D printers, meme generating, cube music, making videos and coding. This is one example of how an out-of-school learning activity also inspires readership since it peaks an interest for further knowledge and study.

Our teen services department keeps an active blog at, which increases Library engagement and involvement among this group. One of the teen regulars even writes her own book reviews to share with her fellow teens!

How will the eReading Rooms support those initiatives?
The library understands that the digital marketplace is maturing. Remote, online access to library content and resources that is personalized and user-friendly drives the virtual user and positions SAPL as a responsive, innovative resource for a new, technology-conscious generation of library patrons.

If your library has an eReading Room, feel free to utilize our Marketing Kit to get the word out. The success of your eReading Rooms can be tracked via the Circulation Activity report going forward from February 1, 2014 in OverDrive Marketplace.

Contact your Collection Development Specialist today at if you're interested in eReading Rooms for your library.


Heather Valentine-Gold is an Account Specialist at OverDrive.


London Book Fair’s Digital Minds Conference Kicks Off with a Stab at Amazon

The broken record of the publishing industry is playing the same old song: Amazon is evil and must be destroyed. At least, that’s the sentiment that came out of the first day conference of the London Book Fair. The digital publishing-themed pre-event got underway with an in-depth look at how Amazon continues to destroy basically the entire world.

This particular rendition of the song that has been playing since the rise of the Kindle e-reader included a sentiment that is far-too-prevalent in the industry: Amazon is horrible, but yes, as a matter of fact, I do sell my content on their site.

The particular hypocrite in question is UK author Anthony Horowitz, whose keynote address at the conference referred to Amazon as “evil bastards” before continuing by saying, “I loathe them.” Horowitz, the author of the Alex Rider series and a number of other titles, currently has several bestselling titles listed on the site, and his own Amazon author page offers a very tongue-in-cheek peek into what is possibly one of the worst childhoods in the history of children; if his candid profile is any indication, it’s possible that Horowitz’s opening remarks were intended to make light of the fact that these conference have an agenda against the online retailer.

The worst thing about this keynote is not the blatant hypocrisy or the name-calling, it’s the fact that this is not a new revelation. Countless conferences around the world continue to open and close with lengthy boring treatises on what Amazon has done to destroy publishing, bookselling, reading, and even democracy, but there’s nothing new to be said. Instead of coming up with viable alternatives or solutions to the crisis-level loss of bookstores and libraries, the same talking heads continue to spout the same paranoia, all while listing their books with Amazon.

Horowitz did have an admonishment for the assembled audience: if they want to continue to be profitable, they will have to embrace digital publishing and all that goes with it. The only way to continue to have a market is to grow one through avid readership, something that cannot happen if book access is denied.

London Book Fair’s Digital Minds Conference Kicks Off with a Stab at Amazon is a post from: Good e-Reader

Raspberry Pi Compute Module: new product!

As regular readers will know, it's been a busy time here at Pi Towers recently with the launch of our new website, free educational materials and £1m education fund.

On the engineering side of things we've also been very busy over the past year, and not to be outdone by the education team, we are ready to take the wraps off something special, this time aimed at business and industrial users.

What's this little thing? Read on to find out.

What’s this little thing? Read on to find out.

From humble beginnings, the Raspberry Pi platform has grown and matured: the software is now full-featured and stable, and is still constantly improving thanks to the continuing hard work of our heroic community of volunteers; as well as targeted injections of funding to solve some specific issues. The Pi, and the Broadcom BCM2835 SoC at its heart, are also steadily becoming more open.

We love hearing about what users are doing with their Raspberry Pis, and are constantly amazed at the range of projects, as well as the inventiveness and creativeness of the community. We are also aware that there are a very significant number of users out there who are embedding the Raspberry Pi into systems and even commercial products. We think there needs to be a better way to allow people to get their hands on this great technology in a more flexible form factor, but still keep things at a sensible price.

Like proud parents, we want to free the core technology of the Raspberry Pi to go forth and become an integral part of new and exciting products and devices, and so today we are announcing the forthcoming Raspberry Pi Compute Module.


Compute Module on the left. What does it do? Read on to find out.

The compute module contains the guts of a Raspberry Pi (the BCM2835 processor and 512Mbyte of RAM) as well as a 4Gbyte eMMC Flash device (which is the equivalent of the SD card in the Pi). This is all integrated on to a small 67.6x30mm board which fits into a standard DDR2 SODIMM connector (the same type of connector as used for laptop memory*). The Flash memory is connected directly to the processor on the board, but the remaining processor interfaces are available to the user via the connector pins. You get the full flexibility of the BCM2835 SoC (which means that many more GPIOs and interfaces are available as compared to the Raspberry Pi), and designing the module into a custom system should be relatively straightforward as we've put all the tricky bits onto the module itself.

So what you are seeing here is a Raspberry Pi shrunk down to fit on a SODIMM with onboard memory, whose connectors you can customise for your own needs.

The Compute Module is primarily designed for those who are going to create their own PCB. However, we are also launching something called the Compute Module IO Board to help designers get started.

Empty IO board on the left: Compute Module snapped into place on the right.

Empty IO Board on the left: Compute Module snapped into place on the right.

The Compute Module IO Board is a simple, open-source breakout board that you can plug a Compute Module into. It provides the necessary power to the module, and gives you the ability to program the module's Flash memory, access the processor interfaces in a slightly more friendly fashion (pin headers and flexi connectors, much like the Pi) and provides the necessary HDMI and USB connectors so that you have an entire system that can boot Raspbian (or the OS of your choice). This board provides both a starting template for those who want to design with the Compute Module, and a quick way to start experimenting with the hardware and building and testing a system before going to the expense of fabricating a custom board.

IO Board

IO Board

Initially, the Compute Module and IO Board will be available to buy together as the Raspberry Pi Compute Module Development Kit.

These kits will be available from RS and Farnell sometime in June. Shortly after that the Compute Module will be available to buy separately, with a unit cost of around $30 in batches of 100; you will also be able to buy them individually, but the price will be slightly higher. The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charity, and as with everything we make here, all profits are pushed straight back into educating kids in computing.

I'm sure people will be keen to get their design process started; initially we are releasing just the schematics for both the Compute Module and IO Board, but we will be adding plenty more documentation over the coming days and weeks.

Happy creating!

*But don't go plugging the Compute Module into your laptop – the pins assignments aren't even remotely the same!

National Library Week Gadget Giveaway!

GoogleNexusGiveawayNational Library week is April 13-19.  We’re starting early and celebrating all month by giving away a gadget every day – because every week should be library week, around the world!

From April 7 through May 2, we are giving away dozens of 16GB Google Nexus tablets during our "Daily Gadget Giveaway."

To enter, simply place an order in OverDrive Marketplace. Every day, one shopper who placed an order that day will be chosen at random and declared the winner.

Daily winners will be posted in Marketplace every afternoon at 4:30 EST, so check back daily to see if that day is your lucky day. If you are logged into Marketplace at that time, you will see our "Daily Gadget Giveaway" widget make the live selection and display the winner.

Remember to shop often – the more days you submit an order, the better your chances of winning. This may be the perfect chance to invite other members of your library or school team to submit an order.

Marketplace is compatible on all PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones. You can shop (and enter the daily giveaway) anytime, anywhere, even at home in your PJs! Show us how you select and develop your digital media collection: send us photo submissions of you shopping for eMedia to  for a chance to be featured on the OverDrive Library Blog or the Marketplace homepage.

Best of luck!


Terms and conditions:

Offer is open to Marketplace customers, age 18 or older, except where prohibited by law or policy. The prize is a Google Nexus 7 Tablet (16GB), and is subject to change based on availability. Limit of one entry per day per Marketplace account. Qualifying purchases must be placed between April 7, 2014, at 12:00 am Eastern Daylight Time (“EDT”) and May 2, 2014, at 12:00 am EDT. No purchase necessary; to enter without a purchase, mail your contact information (name, address, email, telephone) and your Marketplace account name to: OverDrive, Inc., Gadget Give-A-Way, One OverDrive Way, Cleveland, Ohio 44125. Mail entries must be postmarked by May 2, 2014. Winners will be selected at random by OverDrive from qualifying entries. Winners will be posted on the Marketplace homepage every day at 4:30 pm EDT through the qualifying period. OverDrive will pay all shipping and handling fees for prizes. This offer may be modified, canceled or revoked at any time by OverDrive in its sole discretion. OverDrive employees and family members are not eligible for this promotion. Odds of winning depend on the total number of qualifying entries submitted.

Amazon Dash Reinvents Online Grocery Shopping


Amazon Dash is a new remote sized product that scans barcodes and incorporates a microphone for audio orders. The premise is to order groceries online and have them shipped out to you the next day via Amazon Fresh. It takes the computer out of the shopping equation, simplifying the entire process.

When customers scan barcodes of products they want to order or use the microphone, all items are added to your Amazon Fresh account via WIFI. After you are happy with the number of products added to your account simple open the Amazon Fresh app for phones and tablets to pull up your list, check it over, and dispatch the order. There’s free delivery on orders over $35, and if the order is placed by 10am, Amazon promises that its customers will “have it by dinner”.

In an interview earlier this week, Paul Cousineau, Amazon's director of mobile shopping, said that his division spends a lot of time thinking about how to make it easier for shoppers using touchscreen devices to quickly find the products on Amazon they want to buy.

"If you never had to type again on a phone that would be great," he said. "We want you to go from 'I want that' to 'I bought that' in 30 seconds or 10 seconds … a very short period of time."

Dash is designed not just to work with Amazon Fresh, but to also buy over 500,000 items from the main Amazon website. You could be playing guitar, break one and use Dash to ship you a new pair. I think this new program will turn a bunch of new people onto online shopping, because it doesn’t require technical knowledge. You just scan, confirm and pay.

Recently, the Amazon Fresh Android App has received a major update and now has Dash Support. You can download it from the Good e-Reader App Store.

Amazon Dash Reinvents Online Grocery Shopping is a post from: Good e-Reader

Skytex SkyPad 7S Android Tablet Review


Welcome to another Good e-Reader Video Review! Today Peter takes a look at the Skytex SkyPad 7S. This is the company’s latest generation tablet running 4.2 Jellybean.

The Skytex SkyPad 7S has a 7 inch capacitive display screen with a resolution of 1024×600. Powered by a 1.2GHz Dual Core processor, Android 4.2 operating system, 1GB RAM, 8GB of storage, 32GB expandable MicroSD card slot, Mali-400MP2 graphics processor, and Wi-Fi that are all optimized to bring lightning fast experiences for music, videos, and games.

I like the fact it has solid grip on the back of it, which makes it easy to hold when reading an eBook. Customers may dig the fact this device is brimming with different App Stores to tap into. SKytex has their own App Store, and there is also 1Mobile and a link to download the Amazon App Store. Check out the full unboxing and video review below to see how the SkyPad handles eBooks, movies, gaming and internet searches.

Skytex SkyPad 7S Android Tablet Review is a post from: Good e-Reader