Thursday, April 24, 2014

European Libraries Flounder in the Digital Age


Libraries in the United States have faced monumental challenges to get publishers to buy into the idea of allowing their digital books to be distributed. The American Library Association has been a tireless vanguard in convincing the big five publishers to opt into pilot projects and then unilateral adoption. Things are very different in Europe, but a new initiative called “Right to E-Read” seeks to build awareness.

The The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations has launched the “Right to E-Read” campaign all over Europe. The premise the new program is a hardcore marketing campaign with posters, videos, postcards and promotional materials to build awareness to the public on the fact they can borrow eBooks from the library and the limitations facing them.

The situation facing Europe is the same one that transpired in the US a few years ago. There are no consistent licensing terms for libraries to purchase eBooks and many publishers have yet to opt into the idea that distributing their digital content does not devalue the product. Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association weighed in on Right to E-Read “The "ebook" problem is all too familiar to ALA and U.S. libraries, so we empathize with our European colleagues. Our approach to getting more ebooks in U.S. libraries involved engaging in direct discussions with publishers, in addition to demonstrating that library eBook lending enhances overall eBook sales. Through many means of connecting authors and readers, libraries help the public discover and enjoy books from the broad range of authors.

EBLIDA President, Klaus-Peter Böttger, declared that “Libraries (and public libraries in particular) have a major public interest mission in developing a strong and vibrant reading culture that forms nations of readers and a Europe of readers”. He added that “this library mission is entirely in the interest of the public and the market. It is time for other stakeholders in the e-book market to clearly acknowledge the important role of libraries in developing a reading culture which actively fosters the sale of books and eBooks”.

I remain apprehensive that this program will have any immediate effects in the European library scene. Europe has many more publishers then the US does and there are cultural and language barriers preventing extensive dialog. EBLIDA also does not have the clout that ALA has in the US in dealing with publishers and fostering relationships. The big players in eBook distribution to libraries in the US, is non-extinct in Europe. Overdrive, 3M, Axis 360, Ingram, Smashwords and many other companies have no presence in Europe, other than Overdrives meager offerings in Ireland and the UK. You simply don’t have any big for-profit companies investing big bucks in lobbying the publishers and government for changes.

The right to E-Read if anything might build slight awareness to the public. This is a good PR campaign for the library body promoting it and will net them a ton of headlines in the media. Sadly, this will not have any cohesive effect. The UK has been running study after study for years and even the government is trying to mandate eBooks in libraries, but so far nothing of real substance has been done.

European Libraries Flounder in the Digital Age is a post from: Good e-Reader

Facebook Appeals to Journalists with FB Newswire

Facebook just launched a news service called FB Newswire. It is designed to give writers, journalists and news companies a way to stay in touch with trending and developing stories. The company hopes to mirror how Twitter has become a global news service, that breaks stories before anyone else.

FB Newswire content will come from two sources. The main one is Storyful, a social-news service that News Corp. acquired in December for $25 million. As a Facebook post by Andy Mitchell describes it, the service will highlight content that has been posted by users and media entities who are reporting on breaking news events around the world, and comes complete with an easy-to-use "embed" function.

The second source of news stories will be sourced by users status updates that link to a 3rd party news website. The Facebook algorithms will incorporate video, pictures and headlines. Users will be able to embed the stories, with special code, similar to how Twitter handles embedded Tweets.

The sole premise of this initiative is to give journalists and news companies the ability to trust the sources. This is why the vast majority of it will come from confirmed companies like Storyful.

FB Newswire is accessible on Facebook at and on Twitter at @FBNewswire, and will be updated in real-time with content related to top news stories.

Facebook Appeals to Journalists with FB Newswire is a post from: Good e-Reader

Breaking: Kobo Makes Organizational Changes in Toronto


Kobo is based in Toronto Canada and the company today axed over 60 jobs. They also reshuffled existing employees into different departments in a bid to refocus on e-readers and their line of apps. Currently Kobo employees over 500 people worldwide, from executives to agents.

In a statement today to Good e-Reader, Kobo said “To focus resources on innovation, partners, and readers, the leadership team has realigned the organization's structure, which has also meant some staff reductions. As part of this change, teams have been restructured and optimized; redeploying employees to best use their skills to support the company's core goal of providing the best global eReading experience. All our offices will continue to operate as usual, with a mandate to grow the business in each of our territories.

While these decisions are never easy, we believe that we have the structure that puts us in the best position possible to aggressively compete in an ever-challenging global marketplace. By ensuring the Kobo team is lean and agile, we will be able to strengthen our business position and continue our trajectory of global growth.

Kobo's mission remains to lead the global transformation in reading by inspiring people to read more and more often – anytime, on any device, anywhere around the world.”

The Canadian based e-Reader company did not mention whether these dismissals were on the executive level, junior or both. Many industry experts are surmising that this is partly due to the new President Michael Tamblyn and new CEO Takahito Aiki. Likely some of the old guard has been let go and the two executives are trying to surround themselves with people who have the same vision as they do.

Breaking: Kobo Makes Organizational Changes in Toronto is a post from: Good e-Reader

Vectors from coarse motion estimation

Liz: Gordon Hollingworth, our Director of Software, has been pointing the camera board at things, looking at dots on a screen, and cackling a lot over the last couple of weeks. We asked him what he was doing, so he wrote this for me. Thanks Gordon!

The Raspberry Pi is based on a BCM2835 System on a Chip (SoC), which was originally developed to do lots of media acceleration for mobile phones. Mobile phone media systems tend to follow behind desktop systems, but are far more energy efficient. You can see this efficiency at work in your Raspberry Pi: to decode H264 video on a standard Intel desktop processor requires GHz of processing capability, and many (30-40) Watts of power; whereas the BCM2835 on your Raspberry Pi can decode full 1080p30 video at a clock rate of 250MHz, and only burn 200mW.


Because we have this amazing hardware it enables us to do things like video encode and decode in real time without actually doing much work at all on the processor (all the work is done on the GPU, leaving the ARM free to shuffle bits around!) This also means we have access to very interesting bits of the encode pipeline that you’d otherwise not be able to look at.

One of the most interesting of these parts is the motion estimation block in the H264 encoder. To encode video, one of the things the hardware does is to compare the current frame with the previous (or a fixed) reference frame, and work out where the current macroblock (16×16 pixels) best matches the reference frame. It then outputs a set of vectors which tell you where the block came from – i.e. a measure of the motion in the image.

In general, this is the mechanism used within the application motion. It compares the image on the screen with the previous image (or a long-term reference), and uses the information to trigger events, like recording the video or writing a image to a disk, or triggering an alarm. Unfortunately, at this resolution it takes a huge amount of processing to achieve this in the pixel domain; which is silly if the hardware has already done all the hard work for you!

So over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to get the vectors out of the video encoder for you, and the attached animated gif shows you the results of that work. What you are seeing is the magnitude of the vector for each 16×16 macroblock equivalent to the speed at which it is moving! The information comes out of the encoder as side information (it can be enabled in raspivid with the -x command line argument). It is one integer per macroblock and is ((mb_width+1) × mb_height) × 4 bytes per frame, so for 1080p30 that is 120 × 68 × 4 == 32KByte per frame. And here are the results. (If you think you can guess what the movement you’re looking at here represents, let us know in the comments.)


Since this represents such a small amount of data, it can be processed very easily which should lead to 30fps motion identification and object tracking with very little actual work!

Go forth and track your motion!

Kindle Touch Refurbs on Sale for $55 Today

There’s an ongoing tech deal at Woot today for Amazon’s short-lived Kindle Touch ebook reader. Woot’s price is $54.99, plus $5 for shipping. And it’s a certified refurbished Kindle Touch, with Wi-Fi and special offers (advertisements). Refurbs come with the same 1 year Kindle warranty as new models. So for $60 you get 6″ Kindle […]

Kindle for iOS Updated to Version 4.2

Amazon issued a minor update yesterday for their Kindle for iOS reading app for the iPad and iPhone. The update version 4.2 adds easy access to the table of contents for most ebooks from the left panel menu. Instead of just redirecting users to the book’s table of contents at the beginning on the book […]

ABNA Awards Reach Quarter Finals

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards have reached the next stage in the process, the quarter finals. Here, the overwhelming number of entries was cut down to 100 entires in each of the five categories, and in this stage, the authors who have made it this far receive something a little extra for their accomplishment: a Publisher’s Weekly review.

Author Kelly Stone Gamble, whose book Ragtown is still in the running, had this to say about the process:

Ragtown took several years to research, over two years to write and another two to edit. I’ve had so much interest in the subject area during this time, receiving messages and emails from people all over the world about their interest in the subject, and that kept me going on this project. I hadn’t really thought about the popularity of the Hoover Dam, but it is the number one off-Strip destination for Las Vegas visitors, and that means millions every year from all over the world. So while I of course want to write the best story possible, I’ve felt some kind of responsibility to these people, the ‘Dam fans,’ to make Ragtown a great book. Making it into the quarter finals not only validates the years of hard work I’ve put in to the novel, but also lets me know that I’ve done exactly what I set out to do. Write a good book. A good dam book.”

Rysa Walker, author of the YA book Timebound and the upcoming sequel Time’s Echo, was the grand prize winner of last year’s ABNA awards, and said,

“Many contestants, myself included, enter the ABNA simply hoping to make it to the quarter finals stage since win or lose, you walk away with a Publisher’s Weekly review of your manuscript. For those who have already self-published or who are planning to self-publish in the future, that can be a very powerful marketing tool. Even if the overall review isn’t stellar, there’s usually something you can pull out as a potential tweet or addition to the back cover. When the PW reviews were posted last year and I saw the words ‘Katniss Everdeen of time travel,’ my first thought was that it was perfect for marketing. Only after that happy thought had settled in did I realize that it also meant Timebound was still in the contest and had a shot at one of the publishing contracts.”

The next level of selection will come on June 13th when the contest organizers announce the semifinalists. The complete list of quarter finalists can be found HERE.

ABNA Awards Reach Quarter Finals is a post from: Good e-Reader

Weekly eHighlights: U.K. edition


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Frans G. Bengtsson – The Long Ships
HarperCollins eBook

Originally published in the 1940s, this book for many years has been the top circulator in Swedish libraries. But it was neglected for many years in other countries, and is newly available in eBook. It's the story of lusty 10th Century Vikings pillaging across Europe—and laughing all the way. You'll chuckle along too, believe it or not, as this classic holds up really well. Michael Chabon said about this book: "Adventure is a dish that is best eaten takeout, in the comforts of one's own home." And your readers will be sure to love this adventure if you give them a chance.


C. J. Box – Stone Cold
Perseus Book Group eBook

Joe Pickett is still officially a Wyoming game warden, but acts mainly as a troubleshooter for the governor in this, the 14th in his award-winning thriller series. Reviewers say Box just keeps getting better. Box has won Anthony, Edgar, Macavity, Gumshoe, and Barry Awards, among others.


Dorothy Cannell – Murder at Mullings: A 1930s Country House Murder Mystery
Severn House eBook

Dorothy Cannell was born in Nottingham, though she now lives in the U.S. This title is the first in a brand new series by the Anthony and Agatha Award nominee. Florence Norris, the longstanding housekeeper for the Stodmarsh family, investigates when a family member makes an ill-advised second marriage to a scheming woman.


Robyn Carr – The Chance
Harlequin UK eBook

FBI agent Laine Carrington picks Thunder Point as the best place to recuperate from a gunshot wound. But things take an unexpected turn when she meets a reformed criminal in town to put down roots and bond with the daughter he only recently discovered. Carr is a RITA Award winner and author of many bestselling romances.


Ian Doescher – William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back
Random House eBook

The saga that began with the interstellar best seller William Shakespeare's Star Wars continues with this merry reimagining of George Lucas' enduring classic The Empire Strikes Back. Many a fortnight have passed since the destruction of the Death Star. Young Luke Skywalker and his friends have taken refuge on the ice planet of Hoth, where the evil Darth Vader has hatched a cold-blooded plan to capture them. Only with the help of a little green Jedi Master–and a swaggering rascal named Lando Calrissian–can our heroes escape the Empire's wrath. And only then will Lord Vader learn how sharper than a tauntaun's tooth it is to have a Jedi child. 250,000 print run in the U.S.


Hanna Jameson – Girl Seven
Head of Zeus: Perseus Book Group eBook

A breathtaking thriller about Seven, a young girl who has worked her way up from the streets of London to an exclusive club. Now that she has dangerous friends, will she get her revenge? Book 2 in the London Underground series. Book 1 was nominated for a Dagger Award.


Elizabeth Lowell – Night Diver
HarperCollins eBook

Following a family tragedy Kate Donnelly left the Caribbean behind for what she thought would be forever, but the family's diving and marine recovery business is in trouble and her brother pleads with her to return to St. Vincent where her financial expertise is sorely needed. A former British military diver is investigating suspicious activity surrounding the ancient wreck of a pirate ship. The two form an uneasy alliance to uncover the truth. Bestselling author. 4 ½ hearts from Romantic Times.


Susan Mallery – Evening Stars
Mira eBook

Small town nurse Nina Wentworth has been a caretaker of others her entire life. Now she's suddenly juggling two men—her high school sweetheart and a younger pilot. But her mother and sister need her help. Does love heal, or does it mean giving up dreams? Bestselling author. Booklist starred review.


Christopher Moore – The Serpent of Venice
HarperCollins eBook

Another visit to the lunacy of Moore's literary worlds. After taking on King Lear in Fool, he addresses both The Merchant of Venice and Othello in this one—with a dash of Poe's The Cask of Amontillado thrown in for good measure. After Pocket the Fool stops a plot to start a new Crusade, he is thrown overboard and is saved by what he thinks is a seriously horny mermaid and washes up in Venice's Jewish ghetto where he is rescued by shylock's daughter. Booklist and Library Journal starred reviews. Bestselling author.


Val McDermid – Northanger Abbey
HarperCollins eBook

A witty, updated take on Jane Austen's classic by the internationally-bestselling crime author. A homeschooled minister's daughter from Dorset loses herself in novels and waits for a glamorous adventure. When neighbors invite her to a festival in Edinburgh, she takes the city by storm. Gold Dagger Award-winning author.


Fern Michaels – A Family Affair
Kensington eBook

A young dancer entrances a wealthy foreign prince who proposes marriage. Her new life is thrilling, but challenging, as she adjusts to a new, complex culture and the expectations she faces as a royal's wife. Michaels is a bestselling romance author.


Katie Oliver – Mansfield Lark
Harlequin UK eBook

Gemma Astley has managed to tame wild rock star Dominic Heath and stop his womanising ways for good. But then his real identity is revealed. Dominic is really Rupert Locksley, the heir of Mansfield House—a crumbling stately home in need of a major influx of cash. But while his mother begs him for help, his father the Earl is about to disinherit him. Book 3 in the Dating Mr. Darcy series.



Colman Andrews – My Usual Table: A Life in Restaurants
HarperCollins eBook

A love letter to the great restaurants that have changed the way we eat by a James Beard Award-winner. The restaurants he describes in this book represent the changing history and culture of food in Western Europe and America. Publishers Weekly starred review.


David Barrie – Sextant: A Young Man's Daring Sea Voyage and the Men Who Mapped the World's Oceans
HarperCollins eBook

Written in the tradition of Dava Sobel's Longitude, this book traces the invention and discovery of the sextant, a mariner's most prized possession. He uses the stories of some of the most legendary and daring sailors in history to illustrate the importance of this navigational instrument. Moving up the bestseller charts in the U.K.


Sister Simone Campbell – A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community
HarperCollins eBook

One of the best known leaders of today's progressive Christian movements working for change in the church, Sister Simone Campbell advocates for social programs to help the poor and the struggling middle class.


Murray Carpenter – Caffeinated
HarperCollins eBook

Caffeine is a ubiquitous drug—addictive, usually unregulated, and added to increasing numbers of products for consumers to ingest. Drawing on the latest research, this book covers the benefits and the dangers of this product, tracing the history of its production, from highland coffee farms to secretive caffeine manufacturing plants in China. Moving up the bestseller lists.


Bart D. Ehrman – How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee
HarperCollins eBook

Ehrman, author of several bestselling books on religion, explains how the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth became dogma in the first few centuries of the early church. Only when some of the followers of Jesus had visions of him after his death did anyone think that he had become God…but what they meant by that was not all what people mean today.


Carl Hoffman – Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art
HarperCollins eBook

An award-winning journalist traveled to the jungles of New Guinea to try to solve the mysterious disappearance of Michael Rockefeller, who was collecting primitive art in 1961. Was he really eaten by cannibals? The Dutch government and his family denied it. Reviewers call this a mesmerizing whodunit. Publishers Weekly and Kirkus starred reviews. An Amazon Best Book of the Month. Moving up the bestseller lists.


Juliet Macur – Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong
HarperCollins eBook

Billed as the definitive account of champion cyclist Lance Armstrong's spectacular rise and fall for using illegal performance enhancing drugs. Includes firsthand accounts from more than a hundred witnesses including family members and Armstrong himself. Award winning journalist for the NY Times. The Guardian called it riveting.


Lynn Martin – Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life, and Saw the World
Sourcebooks eBook

Who hasn't dreamed of selling all their possessions and sailing the world? Martin and her husband actually did it. Their global adventure took them from Mexico to Turkey to Ireland and Portugal. Perfect for the armchair traveler. Featured in the Wall Street Journal. The author blogs for The Huffington Post, and at


S. Brent Plate – A History of Religion in 5 ½ Objects
Random House eBook

Plate focuses on stones, incense, drums, crosses, and bread, along with a bit about the human body, to explore how the world's religious traditions have used them throughout the centuries. Library Journal starred review.


Fay Ripley – Fay Makes It Easy: 100 Delicious Recipes to Impress with No Stress
HarperCollins eBook

As a working mother of two and a busy actress, Fay Ripley knows how busy life can get. Here are her fail-proof recipes that have kept her sane. Mumsnet Best Cookbook Award-winning author.



For Kids

Mel Bartholomew – Square Foot Gardening with Kids – Ages 2 and up
Quayside eBook

Bartholomew's innovative approach to gardening was first developed in the 1970s, and is now available in a special edition meant for use with kids. His easy gridded box breaks the complex world of gardening into digestible bites perfect for children. Full of tips, tricks, and fun projects.


Ryan Gebhart – There Will Be Bears – Ages 10 and up
Candlewick eBook

Thirteen-year-old Tyson likes to hang out with his Grandpa Gene, so when Grandpa has to move into a nursing home, he feels like he's losing his only friend. Plus, Grandpa was supposed to take him on his first hunting trip. So the two sneak off to the Grand Tetons where there will be bears! Publishers Weekly starred review.


Tad Hills – Duck and Goose Go to the Beach Ages 3-7
Random House eBook

Duck wants to go on an adventure, but Goose sees no point in that. They're happy right where they are. But then Goose sees the ocean and loves it, so he changes his mind. But Duck doesn't like the ocean. Latest in the bestselling picture book series.


Susan Kim and Lawrence Klavan – WanderersTeens
HarperCollins eBook

In this dystopian sequel to Wasteland, Esther and Caleb begin a harrowing journey in hopes of finding food and shelter—and a way to live past age 19. Kim is an Emmy nominee, and Klavan has won an Edgar Award.


Gary Meehan – True Fire – Teens
Quercus eBook

Sixteen-year-old Megan's village is razed by soldiers—her grandfather killed, and her twin sister taken by the raiders. As she travels on a desperate mission to rescue her sister, she discovers that the feared witch soldiers, vanquished a generation ago, have returned to see the fulfillment of a prophecy—a prophecy that involves Megan and her unborn child.


Herman Parish – Amelia Bedelia Goes Wild! – Ages 6-10
HarperCollins eBook

Amelia Bedelia, America's favorite housekeeper, had a childhood full of surprises, mischief, and hilarious misunderstandings. In this illustrated chapter book adventure, just right for fans of Judy Moody and Ivy + Bean, young Amelia Bedelia and her friends build a zoo in the backyard (complete with stuffed animals and attractions) and offer safari adventures to the entire neighborhood. This is the fourth book in the nationally bestselling Amelia Bedelia chapter book series, and it is just right for newly independent readers ready for a more challenging vocabulary and books with chapters.


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Voting for your next ALA President ends Friday!


This Friday is the last chance to get your ballot in to help decide who will be the next ALA President. As an active member of the American Library Association we firmly believe it is essential to let your voice be heard by casting a vote in this election. The ALA plays a vital role in leading the library advocacy in both the United States and the world and this is your chance to decide who is leading the charge.

The ALA issued a press release last week with vital information for casting your vote. In that press release ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels reminded members that "Voting is one of the most important things you can do as a member of the American Library Association. This is because the officers you elect will make a real difference."

The President will act as the voice of you, the librarians, and so it's critical that you take advantage of the ability to select who represents you around the world. If you aren't familiar with the candidates, ALA has created a great "Guide to the 2014 Elections" flipbook to help you become informed. Time is running out so be sure to get your ballot in and rock that vote!

Adam Sockel is a Marketing Communications Specialist with OverDrive

Amazon Introduces Shipping Friendly Prime Pantry


Amazon Prime members are getting an exclusive benefit in the form of Prime Pantry. This new program is exclusively aimed at Prime members who love to shop at Amazon. You can fill up a box with whatever you want, as long as it weighs 45 pounds for a flat rate price of $5.99.

When you order lots of items and have them shipped it, the costs can sometimes be prohibitive. The essence of Pantry is fill it up with how much or little you want. As items are added to the box the Pantry service tells you exactly how much the box is full on a percentage basis. Pantry boxes are large and can hold up to 45 pounds or four cubic feet of household products.

If you were to order a box of detergent, a 12 pack of Coke and a toaster, the costs would be high. Instead of having everything shipped out individually you can fill up as singular shipping box with Prime Pantry. The service only deals with non-perishable foods and is US only to start.

Amazon is betting big on tapping into the lucrative consumer packaged goods industry. This is dominated by big box retailers such as Sams Club and Costco. The Seattle based company is hoping that they can leverage themselves to giving good deals on small items and not forcing them to buy the Ultra King Size version.

Amazon Introduces Shipping Friendly Prime Pantry is a post from: Good e-Reader