Friday, April 25, 2014

Microsoft Surface Mini Waiting in the Wings


Microsoft has a smaller version of their Surface tablet waiting in the wings. This will allow it to be more pocket friendly and make it a viable e-reader for those of us on the go. Will the Surface Mini be a hit?

The Microsoft Surface Mini was first tipped in an Amazon product page for a protective case. There has been consistent rumors for the last year surrounding the new product that was originally tipped for an official annoucnement in May 2014.

The Surface Mini is thought to be seven to eight inches in size. One of the big hyping factors regarding this new device is the active digitizer Pen that will replace the capacitive one that shipped with the Surface 1 and 2.

Microsoft recently shed some of the bulky file size with Windows 8.1. The more lightweight operating system will allow tablets to get more bang for their buck with storage memory.

One of the big selling points behind the Surface Mini should be the Microsoft Reader app the company is developing. MS has mandated that Barnes and Noble discontinue support for their own app and throw their development might towards Microsoft’s upcoming product. There will be millions of books, newspapers and magazines available to purchase and also allow customers to open up their own eBooks and PDF files.

The Microsoft Surface Mini could be a compelling enough product if the price is right. In the past all of the Windows 8 tablets have been horribly overpriced and hinder mass market acceptance. A recent Gartner report done in 2013 stated that 195 million tablets were sold and Microsoft only accounted for 2.1%.

Microsoft Surface Mini Waiting in the Wings is a post from: Good e-Reader

Roundtable – Blackberry 10 or Windows Mobile?


Welcome to another Good e-Reader Roundtable discussion with Michael and Peter. Today the two lads discuss the overall merits between Blackberry 10 and Windows Phone 8.

Michael and Peter have been using these operating systems for years. Michael started with the original Blackberry Pearl and had every single phone until Blackberry 10 came out. One of the downfalls of the new OS is the elimination of the Blackberry Internet Service which abandons solid encryption and data compression, resulting in higher roaming fees. Peter has had over 5 different Windows phones over the years and has seen the OS really change.

Roundtable – Blackberry 10 or Windows Mobile? is a post from: Good e-Reader

PW Interprets Print Sales Data

One of the most common misconceptions surrounding writing and publishing relates to book sales. From the well-meaning outsiders who blithely ask, “You’re a published author…are you rich?” to the industry-wide belief that bestseller status, especially for traditionally published authors, equates to being able to quit one’s day job, sales figures are an elusive data set for most people.

That fact isn’t helped by policies among many retailers and publishers to not divulge specific sales numbers, as evidenced by the numerous attempts to ask companies like Amazon or Barnes and Noble to reveal their sales figures. But today, an article by Gabe Habash featured in Publisher’s Weekly provides some very insightful speculation into what kind of sales figures produce a bestseller. According to the highly involved metrics from one specific title, PW discovered, “By studying the print bestseller list for a two-week period, we were able to determine that a title in Amazon's top five averages 1,094 print copies sold across all channels, including other retailers, on a typical day. And because the general industry thinking is that Amazon accounts for about 30% of print sales, that means it likely takes around 300 copies per day to reach Amazon's top five, depending on the day of the week and the time of year.”

While this data only relates to book sales that are reported to Nielsen Book Scan, PW estimated to include those retailers that are not reporting, and to include ebooks. A correction on the article appeared later which stated, “We incorrectly calculated the total of books sold per week (including outlets not tracked by Amazon) as 7,353; its per day total average as 1,050 and its Amazon estimate as 315 per day.”

Despite the numerical discrepancy, the article provides a somewhat less murky look at what is behind the rankings and looks at actual sales numbers, an area of concern for a great number of authors. Interestingly, access to data is one chief area where self-published authors have a slight advantage over their traditionally published peers; sales data for most online retailers is updated at least hourly, whereas most traditionally published authors wait for quarterly sales reports from their publishers which are usually prepared one quarter behind. That means an author will discover in June how many books he sold in January through March.

What still bemuses these authors is how little books are sold while still correlating to a sales ranking. Depending on how other titles in a similar category sell, a single unit sale can result in a tremendous increase in rank. Add to that the exponential increase that comes from a few hundred sales, and the rankings start to make less and less sense.

PW Interprets Print Sales Data is a post from: Good e-Reader

Audubon Field Guides Sale; 12 Free Music Apps ($40 Value)

I was browsing the Deals & Freebies section at MobileRead this morning and came across a couple of really good promotions going on right now that are definitely worth sharing. First up, Audubon field guides are on sale for 99 cents each at Amazon and iTunes until May 1st. I have a few of them […]

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Tablets Get Pricing and Release Date

Samsung’s somewhat puzzling line of new mid-level Android tablets will be released in less than a week, on May 1st to be specific. All three Galaxy Tab 4 tablets are already available for pre-order from Samsung and Amazon starting at $199 for the 7-inch model, up to $349 for the 10-inch. Samsung first unveiled their […]

Kobo Lays Off 63 People, Roughly 15% of Staff

There’s a lot of change going on at Kobo this year. They’ve been shuffling upper management positions and they appointed a new president and CEO a few weeks ago. Now Kobo’s new leadership has elected to let go 63 workers. Kobo employs over 400 people worldwide, so that equates to about a 15% reduction in […]

Young readers rejoice! A place all their own.

kidsteensOverDrive is offering a safe environment for kids and teens within a digital platform through the creation of separate digital eReading Rooms, where juveniles and young adults can browse their library's digital collection. The Kids' and Teens' eReading Rooms are customizable sections of your library's OverDrive-powered website. Checkouts and holds are processed the same way as the full version of the library website, so when kids and teens are ready to use the full version, they'll already know how to navigate the pages.

Once inside the eReading Room, all searches will show only juvenile or young adult content. No adult content will appear in the search results. All titles in the eReading Room are also cataloged by reading level, AT scores and other reading metrics to help parents and teachers select titles to aid in literacy campaigns. All titles can be sampled in OverDrive Read prior to borrowing or placing a hold.

Cuyahoga County Public Library has already added a safe site for their Kids and Teens to browse and checkout material, as have several other library partners.To get started, contact your Collection Development Specialist. When your Kids' and Teens' eReading Room is live, we'll add web graphics to your main OverDrive-powered website to link to the eReading Room and provide promotional resources. Parents can feel comfortable knowing their children are browsing and borrowing books that are age, grade, and reading level appropriate.


Laura Guldeman is a Collection Development Analyst at OverDrive.

PiPhone – home-made Raspberry Pi smartphone

Dave Hunt‘s been at it again. Here’s his latest: a home-made smartphone based around a Raspberry Pi. It’s smaller than many of the phones I’ve owned, and it’s cheaper than the phone that’s currently in my pocket, with a parts list coming in at only $158. The PiPhone is built entirely from off-the-shelf kit, so there’s no soldering required, and no fiddly electronics work. I’ll let Dave introduce it to you.

The PiPhone is a remarkably simple build, with a Sim900 GSM/GPRS module (which you can slip a SIM card into – you’ll still have to pay for your calls) talking to the network and doing the heavy communications lifting (making calls, and hanging up; sending texts and dealing with data); an on/off switch, a converter to make the LiPoly battery output 5 volts, and one of Adafruit’s tiny TFT monitors. You’ll find a typically thorough writeup on Dave’s website, with a parts list (he sourced everything from Adafruit and eBay), although he hasn’t uploaded the code, which he currently considers a bit hacky, to GitHub yet; please do, Dave, because we’d like to have a play!

For those of you who do not want your phones crammed with Apple, Google or Microsoft software (Jonathan Bell, one of our engineers, still hauls around a Nokia 1600 for that reason – and because the thing’s basically unbreakable), or who want the satisfaction of making one yourself, this is the perfect project. Thanks (again) Dave!

Self-Publishing: How Good Is Good Enough?

With both camps still divided on the self-publishing front, the same tired arguments for and against the concept are still being levied: “self-published books are notoriously bad” versus “every book has the right to be published.” These same two ideas, both for and against self-publishing, have been uttered since the recent wave of indie author revolution began, to the point that they have almost become catch phrases for both the supporters and critics of the model.

In many critics’ minds, traditional publishing still stands as the much-needed gatekeeper, or the “filter,” as an industry expert put it at the recent PubSmartCon event in Charleston. Without that filter in place, the waters of bookselling will get muddied by the debris that manages to work its way in. But in the case of many authors who’ve left traditional publishing behind for one reason or another, self-publishing is the only route to give their existing fan base more of what they want.

Author and professional biographer Larry Grobel has around a dozen traditionally published and bestselling titles to his credit. Some of his more notable works include the authorized biographies of Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Truman Capote, and Barbara Streisand. Over the course of his long career as both a biographer and a journalist, Grobel compiled countless pages of transcripts of conversation with notable people, and took own original photographs in the process. But when he approached his long-time publisher with his completed book about this career, You Show Me Yours: A Writer’s Journey from Brooklyn to Hollywood, he was told what many authors have blatantly been told by the industry:

“Call us after you sell 100,000 ebooks, we’ll pick it up.”

As Grobel’s work is considered to be memoir and the industry is notoriously reluctant to publish anyone’s life story, it was deemed not worth the investment (this is despite the fact the author’s book is filled with information, conversations, and unpublished photographs of his subjects that he owns the copyright to, which would be considered industry gold to some). Once Grobel could demonstrate an audience for the book by selling it himself, then the publisher would deign to take over.

Grobel’s reason for self-publishing is far from isolated, unfortunately. As bookstores close and discovery becomes difficult, an already hard-to-break-into industry has become even more wary of investing in new titles. But it still begs the question: is his self-published book unworthy because of its status? Is the author not already a bestselling writer and a respected veteran in his genre? So what would cause bookstores to refuse to stock it, and newspapers (many of whom Grobel has probably contributed to over his astounding career) to refuse to review it?

The online community became incensed this week when Smashwords’ CEO and founder Mark Coker posted his Indie Author Manifesto, supporting the belief that every book deserves the opportunity to be placed in front of readers. And while critics of that idea took to social media to complain that this belief is part of the downfall of publishing, what is even more likely to destroy books is having a single entity decide for readers that certain books just don’t need to be published.

Self-Publishing: How Good Is Good Enough? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Top 10 Android Apps of the Week – April 25 2014


This week we look at a number of the top apps and games to hit the Good e-Reader Android App Store! There are some real gems from many different genres.

PAC-MAN MONSTERS – One of the most beloved video game heroes PAC-MAN is back in mobile games in this simple free-to-play puzzler!

BodBot – Personal Trainer – BodBot will personalize your exercise and nutrition to you. It will tailor to your goal, schedule, available equipment, exercise history, and it will adapt based on your progress.

Confide – Confide is your off-the-record messenger. We combine end-to-end encryption with disappearing and screenshot-proof messages to foster genuine, unfiltered, and efficient communication.

IFTTT – Put the internet to work for you. IFTTT lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement — if this then that. Activate your Channels and create Recipes on IFTTT! Channels are services like Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, as well as devices like Philips Hue, Belkin WeMo, and UP by Jawbone.

Sonic Racing Transformed – Race as Sonic and a host of legendary All-Stars and prepare to transform! Speed across land, sea and air in a high velocity battle to the finish line, as your amazing transformable vehicle changes from car to boat to plane mid-race. Racing on mobile will never be the same again!

Undead Slayer Extreme SEA – All the infamous villains from the Chinese dynasty are ready to take action. Only the chosen one can slay the zombie warriors and reconstruct the fallen kingdom.

Zombie Age 2 – The fence has fallen down again, one after the other, no matter how many zombies you have killed. The town is now overrun by the walking dead, and everyone around you had turned into meat. You've come to realize that you can no longer defend in the house since the zombies are getting more enraged while the supply is running out. It's time to load up the gun and shoot your way out!

Newsbeat – Personalized Radio – With Newsbeat, you can pick the news that you want to hear – from a large collection of high quality, trusted, local publications, as well as national news organizations.

Battleship X – Battleship X is a 3D shooting game! Highly addictive.

Mountain Sniper Shooting 3D – The beautiful mountain range, which was a key tourist attraction is now taken over by enemy forces. The authorities of the area is sick of their weird ideas about the mountains and its habitat. They are looking for a brave and smart sniper, who is willing to take all the necessary risk, and make full use of his sniping skills in this hilly tourist resort to finish this problem once and for all.

Top 10 Android Apps of the Week – April 25 2014 is a post from: Good e-Reader