Friday, April 11, 2014

Naughty Dog and Dark Horse Team Up for Digital Graphic Novel


Game development studio Naughty Dog is teaming up with Dark Horse comics for a digital graphic novel called the Art of Naughty Dog. This novel will showcase art from their many different properties.

Naughty Dog announced “The Art of Naughty Dog will be available later this year. It will span the history of Naughty Dog and feature hand-picked and never before released artwork depicting our past, present, and future. Being around for thirty years has bestowed upon us all kinds of incredible art from our amazing fans. Select fan art will be a chapter of the book as well. To mark the occasion properly we're having a book launch event later in the year. We'll have more details once the pages and the plans are ready.”

Naughty Dog was originally founded in 1984 by Andrew Gavin and Jason Rubin. Its first iteration was Jam Software until its name change in 1989. The development studio is best known for its work on seminal titles like Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter; The Precursor Legacy, the Uncharted series, and most recently The Last of Us.

Naughty Dog and Dark Horse Team Up for Digital Graphic Novel is a post from: Good e-Reader

Cleis Press, Penthouse Collaborate on New Line of Erotica eBooks


It took them long enough, but some of the biggest names in books and porn have finally realized that sex sells. That’s why Cleis Press and Penthouse will begin publishing a new line of digital erotica titles, set to launch this fall.

Billed as the Penthouse Variations On series, this line of titles will eventually be a title of six different anthologies, with the first title to come out being Variations On Oral which the publisher has declared to be “quality erotica” for “discerning” readers.

While Penthouse may best be known in pop culture for its magazine, it is also the owner of Variations magazine, which has a high percentage of female readership. Likewise, the new publishing venture will aim for a female audience. Interestingly, romance and erotica, while traditionally predominantly purchased by female readers, has also been shown to be overwhelmingly authored by women.

Co-founder of Cleis Press Felice Newman stated in a press release, “We are excited by this opportunity to expand the readerships of both Cleis and Penthouse in this fresh cross-pollination of sex positive culture. Together, we plan to develop a unique series that will take the erotica market by storm."

Cleis publisher Brenda Knight went on to say, "Newman has a keen focus on what appeals to female erotica readers. She knows what works and what doesn't, and has made a real contribution to a more sex-positive America. We are great admirers of Penthouse and their enormous impact on sex and culture."

Cleis Press, Penthouse Collaborate on New Line of Erotica eBooks is a post from: Good e-Reader

Rightscorp to Battle eBook Pirates


Rightscorp is well known in the video and music industry with their digital loss prevention technology that tracks copyright infringement and ensures that owners and creators are rightfully paid for their IP. They developed extensive tracking analytics that allows them to see what content is being distributed through bittorrent and file sharing sites and then goes after the people involved. It looks the company is gearing up to take on the publishing industry industry and actively go after eBook pirates.

"We recently announced a deal to represent Mark Sisson, author of the bestselling book The Primal Blueprint. This marks our entrance into the multi-billion dollar book publishing industry, an area where we feel we can add value to our clients and our investors," said Christopher Sabec, CEO of Rightscorp. "eBooks and eReaders have become very popular since the release of the Kindle in late 2007, but just like any medium, the creation of digital format opens them up to digital theft and copyright infringement. With a $3 billion market and growing, the digital book market is an ideal place to add protection and secure revenues. We are now expanding our focus to include monetization and protection of online books and are already in discussions with other authors and industry trade organizations about how we can help them."

The entire publishing industry brought in close to 12 billion dollars in 2012. Sales of eBooks reached $3 billion at the end of 2012, up from $68 million in 2008. Industry experts expect that by 2017, digital will be worth $8.2 billion. This market is ripe for the picking for Rightscorp.

Overall, the publishing industry is not really concerned with eBook piracy. Many of the top companies such as HarperCollins, Hachette, S&S and Penguin have told me that piracy is a minor blip on the radar and does not hamper sales. They all admit it is an extreme minority of tech savvy individuals and statistically people who pirate eBooks tend to be the biggest purchasers of digital content. There has even been some notable authors such as Tim Ferris that harnessed the power of Bitorrent to promote his book, the 4 Hour Chef. He recently said “Torrent conversion is NUTS. Of 210,000 downloads earlier this week, more than 85,000 clicked through "Support the Author" to the book's Amazon page. We all had to triple and quadruple check that to believe it. 

Why isn’t the publishing industry and magazine companies concerned with digital book piracy? You only have to look at the Apple Newsstand and companies like Comixology. All of the magazines and comics are basically are stored in the cloud and delivered in an app container.  Comixology has spent a copious amount of money on their app to give you Guided View technology and Marvel has added the ability for a comic to be narrated with audio.  You now have magazines, books, comics and other rich media delivered in a way where the user will never see the file locally. This takes piracy right out of the equation.

At the moment, book piracy is dwarfed by that of the music, movie, and game industries. But it is gradually growing. Shortly after the launch of the iPad, TorrentFreak took a look at a small group of popular business titles and calculated that unauthorized eBook downloads on BitTorrent grew by 78% on average–and that was when Apple had sold only about 300,000 iPads.

Rightscorp currently represents more than 1,000,000 copyrights with more than 40,000 copyrights in its system. Rightscorp has already received settlements from subscribers of more than 50 ISPs and closed over 60,000 cases of copyright infringement to date. The company is entering the eBook market with some trepidation, but I can see them implementing a scare tactics campaign and releasing daunting reports to put the fear of god into publishers and authors.

Rightscorp to Battle eBook Pirates is a post from: Good e-Reader

FBReader Adds DRM to Attract Content & Device Partners


FBReader, an eReader app with over 5 million active users, announced that it added DRM support in a push to to become more attractive to content providers and potential device partners. The company will be using the open Marin DRM standard on Intertrust Technology's ExpressPlay platform.

The company had been receiving interest from potential partners, but the lack of DRM protection was a major hurdle. With the FBReader's primary goal of building a larger user base, it has now opened up the doors to the possibility of partnering with content providers and to be pre-installed on devices.

FBReader is not looking to open its own store at the moment, but to offer content providers with a low cost DRM solution. It wants to test the market and believes its platform presents a good opportunity to publishers. According to founder Nikolay Pultsin, "if you have a large catalog and you want to try this protection scheme, your payment does not depend on number of the books in your catalog, just on number of purchases."

FBReader will also be pushing its API after the success of the TTS plugin, which was developed by a third party. This has the potential of adding a more personalized experience, developed by the hands of the reading community itself. According to Mr Plutsin, a new API "will support a lot of new functionality. In particular it will be possible to create skins for standard FBReader screens."

FBReader is working on more features for its device as well, including ePub3 and video support. Mr Pultsin says, "I'm still not sure that ePub3 books and especially books designed with fixed layout(s) are the future of electronic reading. However, we want to support this type of content too, with no loss of speed for usual books containing text and images only." It is also looking at adding PDF support, widgets and synchronization across device

The FBReader app looks as though it has a promising future in the competitive eReader market and could be worth your while downloading. With the ability to customize a reading experience along with the prospects of adding publishers' content its should become even more attractive to new users. Having opened up the doors to the possibility of pre-installs on devices could be a major avenue of growth for the company as well.

The ereader is available for Android and Blackberry devices and FBReader is planning on adding more device support . It can be downloaded from the Good e-Reader App Store.

FBReader Adds DRM to Attract Content & Device Partners is a post from: Good e-Reader

Simon & Schuster Plans 12 Book Series called TED Books


TED is one of the leading conferences where luminaries all over the world give a 18 minutes or less talk. Past speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman. Today, TED has partnered with Simon & Schuster to publisher a 12 book series.

S&S plans on rolling out a new title every month or two beginning in September 2014. Some of the books set to be published include The Virtue of Stillness by Pico Iyer, How We'll Live on Mars by Stephen Petranek, and Storytelling in the Age of Distraction by Nicholas Thompson. The books will feature a signature look with cover art designed by the legendary jacket artist and TED speaker, Chip Kidd.

TED and Simon & Schuster will distribute the books and eBooks in all available sales channels, and the books will be supported by TED's media partners and the highly-trafficked website.

Simon & Schuster Plans 12 Book Series called TED Books is a post from: Good e-Reader

BitScope Micro

We met the folks from BitScope some months ago to talk about their plans for a miniature scope especially for the Raspberry Pi. They’ve just launched the product we discussed today, and our socks have been comprehensively knocked off by it; the engineers who sit behind me think this is one of the most exciting Raspberry Pi add-ons they’ve seen so far.


This is the BitScope Micro, built especially for the Raspberry Pi. It turns your Pi into a dual channel digital oscilloscope, a multi-channel logic analyser, a waveform and clock generator and a spectrum analyser; it comes bundled with BitScope’s full suite of software (well worth a look if you’re even slightly interested – this thing has features coming out of the wazoo), and it’s probably the cheapest digital scope we’ve ever seen, coming in at USD $95 if you buy in volume, and $145 at one-off retail. You can read much more at BitScope’s website.


Sample output


More sample output

We think that’s an incredibly good deal – for the same analogue bandwidth in a bench scope you’re looking at an instrument that’s many, many times the price, even at retail.

The BitScope Micro comes bundled with ten signal clips and a USB cable.

The BitScope Micro comes bundled with ten signal clips and a USB cable.

It’s exciting for us to see proper scientific instrumentation coming to the Pi; we’re looking forward to seeing what the community does with tools like the BitScope Micro. Give us your ideas in the comments.


Report: Libraries Prefer the 3M Cloud Library Over Axis 360 and Overdrive

Overdrive is getting quite ubiquitous for digital eBooks at the library. The company has the largest international footprint and a huge marketing department. In most cases the libraries that buy into Overdrive are the same ones doing business with 3M Cloud Library and Axis 360. A new report issued this week asks the question what eBook distribution system is preferred for US libraries?

A recent satisfaction survey went out from 3M to 200 different libraries in the United States. All libraries deal with both Overdrive and 3M and were told not to hold back on any punches. The goal of this survey is to ensure that 3M stays in tune with the rapidly changing needs of eBooks in public libraries. Out of the respondents the 114 libraries preferred the 3M Cloud Library and 78 picked Overdrive. If we look a bit deeper at the data, 38% answered that they were "very satisfied" with 3M Cloud Library versus only 14% being "very satisfied" with OverDrive. Similarly, when asked the question "How likely are you to recommend to other libraries?" 47% answered "very likely" to recommend 3M to other libraries while only 22% answered "very likely" to recommend OverDrive.

One of the big reasons why libraries dig the 3M ecosystem is because it ties into major ILS systems a little more fluidly. Triple iii and Polaris are the most popular ILS systems and are designed to simplify librarians lives, by reporting on checkouts, sales, and all aspects of daily library life. Most of this data ends up in annual reports to justify funding and also inform the American Library Association on lending behaviors. One of the big problems is when a library does physical and digital lending and deals with more than one company to facilitate it. Current ILS systems were not designed to function in this way and is a growing concern to major libraries all over the world. 3M is finding great success dealing with Polaris and other ILS vendors to incorporate its API tools into their platforms. This allows libraries to get firmware updates to their ILS platforms that have the 3M system built into it, making everyone's lives way easier.

Tom Mercer the Marketing Manager of 3M told Good e-Reader “This survey shows that 3M is building a great product and working hard to ensure our librarians are satisfied. We believe our high customer satisfaction score and come from the easy to use back end tools and collection development recommendations as well as the continued circulation growth our libraries see each month from new and existing users.”

Report: Libraries Prefer the 3M Cloud Library Over Axis 360 and Overdrive is a post from: Good e-Reader

Hugh Howey Explains the Need for Authors to Give Away Their Books

On last week’s IndieChat event, hosted every Tuesday night on Twitter by publishing solutions company BiblioCrunch, the guest speaker was from a new tool, InstaFreebie. This platform allows authors to easily create a free version of their books–with or without DRM and reader watermarking, as they choose–in order to share them with readers. I happened to mention that I used the platform in March and between InstaFreebie and KDP Select gave away over 200 copies of my books in March alone.

The response was immediate: “Aren’t you worried about those lost sales?”

At this year’s London Book Fair, taking place now, self-publishing success story Hugh Howey spoke on a panel with the UK head of Kobo Writing Life, one of the top three major self-publishing platforms. Howey, who has openly stated in the past that his story is not typical for indie authors, explained the purpose and the benefits to giving away free books as a reader engagement tool.

Many publishing industry professionals caution against giving away free content, as they feel it reduces the value in the eyes of the reader. Likewise, surveys have shown that low price points for books make readers respond negatively, as if thinking to themselves, “How good can it be? Even the author didn’t think it was worth a whole dollar.”

But Howey’s point is that only truly undervalued books are the ones that no one reads because they can’t find them. In this time of difficulty for book discovery, offering your content–especially backlist content–to readers is a way to entice them into getting to know the rest of your list.

Howey went on to expand on his fear that the current climate of self-publishing will continue to perpetuate the model that traditional publishing has always experienced, namely that there will be a limited number of bestselling and successful authors at the top, followed by the remaining “unknowns.” He explained that the self-publishing market should be a place where every author can find his audience, and enjoy some measure of success, regardless of how that success manifests itself.

Hugh Howey Explains the Need for Authors to Give Away Their Books is a post from: Good e-Reader

Smashwords Reveals Number of Bestselling Authors Overwhelmingly Female

Over on the Smashwords blog, CEO and founder Mark Coker posted some interesting information about the demographics of the bestselling authors on the site. According to the Smashwords bestseller list, published each month by Publisher’s Weekly, the top twenty-five bestselling titles on Smashwords for the last many months have all been written by women.

All of them.

Coker himself went to the iBooks store and Amazon US to compare their numbers and found the women outnumbered men there as well. Sixty-four percent of the top twenty-five titles in iBooks were written by women, and fifty-six percent of the Amazon bestsellers were written by women.

While Coker can give some explanation on the Smashwords site–romance is the top-selling genre there and the majority of those titles are written by women–that is certainly not the case with iBooks or Amazon. Also, only two-thirds of the top twenty-five books on Smashwords are romance; the remaining titles are historical fiction, fantasy, and mystery, not genres that are fully dominated by female writers, although women do figure highly in those numbers.

Coker himself has no explanation for the clean sweep by female writers, but did have this to say:

“Why are women dominating the Smashwords bestseller lists, other than the fact that these women are all super-awesome writers? One likely factor is that romance is the #1 bestselling genre at Smashwords, and romance is overwhelmingly written by women. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m constantly blown away the smarts, savvy and sophistication of romance authors. These ladies have pioneered many of the ebook publishing and distribution best practices that so many indies take for granted today. But strong romance performance doesn’t fully explain the story.”

Smashwords Reveals Number of Bestselling Authors Overwhelmingly Female is a post from: Good e-Reader

T-Mobile Launches Free Data Plans for Tablets and Phones


The vast majority of tablets only employ WIFI connections to give you access to the internet. There are only a spartan few on the market in the USA that have data plans to not be so reliant with public hotspots. We reported a few weeks ago that data tablets are going to be hitting the market in greater numbers in 2014 and T-Mobile is ready.

T-Mobile is offering $10 off its most popular internet data plans starting April 12th through the end of 2014. For voice customers, what that means is you can get up to 1GB of 4G LTE data free every month through the end of the year. Combined with the 200MB of free data you already automatically get every month with T-Mobile's previously announced "Free Data for Life" offer that comes to nearly 1.2GB of free 4G LTE data every month through the end of 2014. If you love living beyond the Wi-Fi zone – and want to keep enjoying that tablet freedom beyond 2014 – you can get it starting at just $10 a month with voice service next year.

This promotion is obviously appealing to people who have a smartphone and want save money on data. This should get more people switching to the network who want to get free data, for the times they are outside WIFI areas. Tablets owners can merely get a very basic plan, inject the SIM card and automatically get 200 MB of free data. If you want to attach the barebones voice plan you can get over 1 GB of data, which is fairly compelling. I Know of a bunch of people who just use their tablet as their primary phone now, using Whatsapp, Line and Skype to make voice calls via Bluetooth.

T-Mobile Launches Free Data Plans for Tablets and Phones is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Reports on Companies Progress in 2014


Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote a lengthy progress report to shareholders at a recent earnings call. The Seattle based e-commerce giant is not known for divulging specifics, whether its revenue or legitimate figures. Instead, they speak in generalities, which makes it quite hard to gauge exactly how healthy their company is. Today, we are going to look at the essential things he talked about, in regards to Kindle, Prime and eBooks.

Bezos said that the company is "investing heavily on behalf of readers," and he pointed to such 2013 achievements as the launch of the new, high-contrast Kindle Paperwhite, the integration of the "very impressive" Goodreads into the first and second generation Kindle Paperwhite, and the launch of Kindle in India, Mexico, and Australia. The company also launched various publishing imprints and fan-fiction service Kindle Worlds in 2013.

Audible is really growing up fast. The company is seeing massive success distributing their content via iTunes to customers on the iPad and iPhone. The ACX community is growing strong, where Amazon connects authors and producers to boost the catalog even further. Jeff called 2013 a "landmark year" for Audible, noting that Audible customers downloaded "close to 600 million listening hours" of audiobooks last year. One of the breakout titles of 2013 was the Great Gatsby, which sold 100,000 copies in the movie tie-in.

Amazon Prime has recently increased in cost from $79.99 to $99.99. There aren’t many new incentives to justify the price increase, but Amazon did mention they are expanding on their Sunday delivery service with the US Postal Service. There are "tens of millions of Prime members worldwide," Bezos wrote and more than 20 million products that are eligible to be shipped under Prime.

What is Amazon planning for the rest of the year? They plan on issuing 500 published novels via their publishing imprints in the US and UK. This stems from books they bid on at the recent London Book Fair and mandated by senior agents and editors. The company will also release three new tablets and 2 new e-readers towards the end of the year. Amazon also has just commercially released Dash and Fire TV. One of the big unknowns is what they intend on doing with the purchase of Comixology.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Reports on Companies Progress in 2014 is a post from: Good e-Reader