Monday, April 28, 2014

Is there a Future in Color e-Paper?


Color e-paper has been around a number of years with Pixel QI, E Ink, Liquavista and Mirasol all making plays for the consumer market. Needless to say there was a ton of hype about color e-readers, but aside from a few products they have been relegated to an extremely niche segment. Is there a future in color e-paper?

Today Michael Kozlowski and Peter Carotenuto of Good e-Reader look at some of the popular devices to have hit the market in the last few years and give you a sense on how some of these technologies work. It is important to realize some of the limitations of color e-paper and how it has been employed thus far. It does have potential, but woeful hardware specs and high price have limited the audience. Is it possible for it work? Wearable Tech, Luggage Tags and phones are one practical application.

Is there a Future in Color e-Paper? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Contest: Win a Free Amazon Kindle Fire


Welcome back to another popular installment of the Good e-Reader Contest series! Today we have brand new Amazon Kindle Fire tablet to giveaway to one lucky winner. Entering is free and we pay the shipping no matter where you live in the world.

The Amazon Kindle Fire is available as part of our new Youtube Contest! Hidden in the last 10 video uploads are keywords in the form of an annotation. Each word spells out a particular phrase and when you think you have it, you can send Peter off an email. You can think of it as a hidden puzzle within our Youtube Videos. Please visit our official Good e-Reader Youtube Channel to win a Kindle Fire today.

Contest: Win a Free Amazon Kindle Fire is a post from: Good e-Reader

To Kill a Mockingbird Coming Out in eBook and Audiobook Editions

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature, and it’s finally getting released as an ebook this summer, marking the end of one of the longest digital holdouts. HarperCollins, Lee’s publisher, made the announcement on Monday, stating that Pulitzer prize-winning novel will be available as an ebook starting July […]

First Look at Sony’s 13.3″ PDF Reader U.S. Edition (Video)

Last month Sony announced that their 13.3″ E Ink digital paper PDF reader would be coming to the United States through a company called Worldox. The device, dubbed the Sony DPTS1 Digital Paper, is being marketed to business professionals as a paper replacement system, not to consumers as an reader. That’s probably because of it’s […]

Amazon Stops Selling Kindle DX


Amazon has just discontinued their 9.7 inch e-reader, the Kindle DX. The company has put the kibosh on this model in the past, as it is a few years old with severely outdated firmware. This time around they removed it completely from the Kindle banner which shows the entire Fire product line and their current generation e-readers.

The Kindle DX was originally discontinued in 2012 and came back in May 2013. It was primarily resurrected due to the public demand of having a large e Ink display screen and an affordable price tag.

One of the big indications that it is gone for good is the slashing of the price of the official Kindle leather case. For the last few years it has been retailed at $59.99 and has been flashed to $9.99.

Is it possible that Amazon has a new generation of e-readers and tablets waiting in the wings? Yes, of course, Amazon releases new devices every single year, but there has been no information in leaked reports giving any credence that a new 9.7 inch device is being actively developed. Still, if they did develop it, likely it would use Mobius technology from e Ink that cuts the weight by half and increases the resolution dramatically.

Amazon Stops Selling Kindle DX is a post from: Good e-Reader

Podcast: Indie Author News, Kobo Firings and Comixology Situation on iOS


Welcome to another jaw dropping edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show! Today Michael Kozlowski and Mercy Pilkington give you the essential stories that transpired over the course of the last week.

Recently Mercy attended a self-publishing conference called Pub Smart Con and gives her impressions of the entire event. Also, Smashwords unveiled an aptly named Indie Author Manifesto and implemented a new promotion with Scribd.

Kobo has slowed down their international expansion into new markets and is looking to focus more on app development and their e-readers.  The company has fired over 63 people at their head office in Toronto and we look into the reasons why.

Finally, Comixology and Amazon has come to terms on a new business relationship. iOS users are up in arms about not being able to buy comics anymore and instead are prompted to visit the website. This is similar to what Amazon did when they pulled the ability to make in-app purchases, rather than give Apple 30% of each transaction.

Podcast: Indie Author News, Kobo Firings and Comixology Situation on iOS is a post from: Good e-Reader

Has the Kindle DX Been Discontinued . . . Again?

Amazon has stopped selling their large-screen 9.7″ Kindle DX ebook reader. And it appears that it may have been discontinued . . . again. Usually when Amazon runs out of their current stock of Kindles, the description page will say that the item is out-of-stock or on backorder, and there’s usually an estimated date of […]

Facebook Paper Animation Library Goes Opensource


Facebook Paper is a relatively new standalone app that was released in early February.  The premise was to create a new way to browse your friends status updates and catch up with major news items via a curated approach. Facebook has announced that they are making the animation engine behind the “Cards” approach open source for all mobile developers to employ in their apps.

The animation engine being employed by Facebook Paper comes from an acquisition they made  back in 2011 with Push Pop Press. The animation engine is responsible for all of the transitions and animations displayed on Paper, including all scrolling, bouncing, and unfolding effects. The open source files should be available once Facebook starts their F8 conference that begins this Wednesday in San Francisco.

Currently Facebook Paper is exclusively available on the iPhone and only available to readers residing in the US.  If you want to check out Paper in all of its glory, check out our review and guide on how to install it in other countries. 

Facebook Paper Animation Library Goes Opensource is a post from: Good e-Reader

Scholastic adds 900 eBook titles to OverDrive Marketplace

We're excited to announce the addition of over 900 Scholastic titles to OverDrive Marketplace. These new titles include bestsellers like the Hunger Games, R.L. Stine's classic Goosebumps series, the incredibly popular Rainbow Magic series by Daisy Meadows, the Chronicles of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo as well as a large selection from The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin.

scholasticThese titles will make great additions to your digital collection and will be adored by readers young and old. Parents will enjoy sharing the titles that made them fall in love with reading and kids and teens will discover those that will lead towards a lifelong love of literature. And, Scholastic eBooks are a great addition to any Kids/Teen eReading Room!

Subjects in this collection range from children's and teen to YA fiction and romance, suspense and many others. The titles are metered access, with a two year term and no circulation limit. They are currently available to public libraries only.

Contact your Collection Development Specialist today for a customized collection list.

Title availability may vary by geographic location.

Adam Sockel is a Marketing Communications Specialist at OverDrive.

Celebrate Autism Awareness Month with these authors on the spectrum

April is Autism Awareness month. When both of my daughters were diagnosed as being on the spectrum, my diagnosis followed soon after. Like I always tell people, "it didn't change anything, but it explained a lot." The experience I have had since, as well as the early intervention for my children, made it much easier to deal with when the same diagnosis came for my youngest son. As an adult with Asperger Syndrome raising three kids also on the autism spectrum, this is a special month for me. What better way to celebrate, besides lighting it up blue, than to add some titles to your collection by authors who have experience with the autism spectrum?

The Spark, by Kristine Barnett – Kristine Barnett is the mother of Jacob Barnett, a child prodigy who was diagnosed as autistic at age two. When diagnosed, Kristine was told Jacob would never be able to tie his own shoes. Since his diagnosis, Jacob taught himself calculus, and would sneak into college math lectures. Now, Jacob is a paid researcher in the field of condensed matter physics, among other amazing accomplishments. The Spark is a memoir of a mother's hard work in making the best world she could for her son, and speaks volumes of the importance of early intervention's role in helping people on the autism spectrum navigate through the neurotypical world.

The Reason I Jump, by Naoki HigashidaNaoki Higashida is a non-vocal teenage boy with autism who uses an alphabet board to communicate. The Reason I Jump is Naoki's answers to 58 questions about autism and his personal experience with it.  It's a brief, yet inspiring read that allows those on the outside a glimpse into an autistic mind.

Born on a Blue Day, Thinking In Numbers, and Embracing The Wide Sky, by Daniel TammetDaniel Tammet, like Jacob Barnett, is a math whiz – Tammet knows pi up to 22,514 places. He's also a polyglot; having learned many languages, including the notoriously challenging Icelandic (within a week, no less). He also experiences synesthesia, which lends itself to his ability to grasp mathematics. He also has Asperger Syndrome. He discusses at length his love for mathematics in the book Thinking in Numbers, discusses the difference between savant and non-savant minds in Embracing the Wide Sky, and tells his life story in Born on a Blue Day.

Thinking in Pictures and The Autistic Brain, by Temple GrandinTemple Grandin might be one of the best known people to find success on the autism spectrum.  She was diagnosed as a child, at a time when even less was known about autism. She grew up to revolutionize many aspects of how livestock are treated, particularly with respect to how they are prepared for slaughter. Thinking in Pictures is her memoir, detailing her upbringing through her adulthood, and how she beat the odds to become one of the world's foremost advocates for autism awareness and animal welfare. The Autistic Brain is her scientific text aimed at increasing understanding for autism and autism spectrum disorders.

Look Me in the Eye, Be Different, and Raising Cubby, by John Elder RobisonJohn Elder Robison has Asperger Syndrome, the diagnosis coming as he turned 40. Prior to being diagnosed, he spent time developing handheld games for Milton Bradley and building special effects guitars for Ace Frehley of Kiss, eventually taking up repairing imported cars, writing a blog about his experiences as an "Aspergian," and writing the books above. Did I mention his brother is Augusten Burroughs? Look Me in the Eye is his memoir, outlining his life leading up to his eventual diagnosis. Be Different is practical advice for others on the spectrum, as well as for those who care for them. Raising Cubby tells the story of Robison and his autistic son and how they grew up together.

Look Me in the Eye, is a special book for me. It was the book that helped me to start learning more about autism when my youngest daughter showed significant developmental delays. I saw a lot of the same experiences I had growing up in the stories Robison shared – the obsession with single topics, the loner behavior, and exclusion from a lot of the "in-groups." By identifying with what I read, it helped demystify autism, and take away some of the anxiety that comes with it. What I take away from all of this is that autism can be difficult, but it doesn't mean those on the spectrum don't get to live a regular life.


Justin Noszek is a Support Services Specialist at OverDrive.

Kindle Sales for Mother’s Day

Another week, another Kindle sale. And this time it’s a pretty good one. Amazon is trying to unload some more Kindle ebook readers, Kindle Fire tablet, and Kindle accessories for Mother’s Day. Amazon is also running sales on ebooks right now too with The Big Deal: Kindle Books Up to 85% Off. This is a […]

To Kill a Mockingbird Getting the eBook and Audiobook Treatment


HarperCollins has announced that the seminal book To Kill A Mockingbird will be getting the eBook and audiobook treatment this July. Thousands of schools all over Canada and the US have used this book as part of their English departments remedial reading program. This will be the first time this classic is going digital and the author stated  "I am amazed and humbled that 'Mockingbird' has survived this long. This is 'Mockingbird' for a new generation."

First published in July 1960, Mockingbird has sold more than 30m copies worldwide, and that total is climbing by more than 1m copies a year, according to HarperCollins. The main reason this book is finally getting the eBook treatment is that author Harper Lee successfully sued her former agent and got back the rights to her book.

The audiobook edition has been out on CD for a very long time, but will finally be getting  the digital treatment in a deal with Audible. The eBook will be available in all major retail channels at the beginning of July, but there is no word yet on whether companies like Baker and Taylor, 3M or Overdrive will have it available to libraries.

To Kill a Mockingbird Getting the eBook and Audiobook Treatment is a post from: Good e-Reader

Scholastic’s Goosebumps Series to Be Adapted for Film

Scholastic, the leading publisher of children’s content, announced today the news that one its most popular and bestselling children’s series is being has started production with actor Jack Black leading the cast. Directed by Rob Letterman, the Goosebumps movie is being filmed in and in the vicinity of Atlanta, Georgia. Scholastic’s own executive Deborah Forte is one of the film’s producers.

“Scholastic has sold over 350 million Goosebumps books worldwide in 32 languages since the series introduction in 1992, earning critical acclaim and dominating global best seller lists. R.L. Stine has been recognized as one of the bestselling children's authors in history,” stated Scholastic’s officials in a press release.

According to information about the film, the premise will be alluring to audiences of a variety of ages, not surprising considering the original series that launched the movie has been around for quite some time. The synopsis of the new film includes this description: “A young kid teams up with the niece of young adult horror author R.L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Greendale, Maryland.”

Goosebumps has already been adapted for television in a mid-90s series and was once slated for film production under the direction of Tim Burton. That film never materialized, but the new adaptation is slated for release in 2016.

Scholastic’s Goosebumps Series to Be Adapted for Film is a post from: Good e-Reader

Minecraft Pi recipe cards to download and keep

We think Craig Richardson’s brilliant. His Python Programming for Raspberry Pi book (available as a free download) remains one of the very best tools for stealthily teaching rigorous and useful computing concepts and programming tricks to kids that we’ve seen. Kids love Craig’s resources (we’ve found it hard to make them stop working and pack up to go home when we’ve run Craig’s bag of tricks in workshops); and whether you’re a teacher, a parent or an interested learner of any age, you’ll find something in there to get your teeth into.

Craig’s Minecraft resources will be available to buy in print later in the year (we know a lot of you prefer to have textbooks and other reference material available as a dead-tree book). Speaking of dead trees, Craig’s preferred method of teaching times tables is to get kids fighting Minecraft trees. It goes down about 1000% better than number squares.

Not prepared to stop at one giant tome of Minecraft goodness, Craig is working on new materials all the time: his latest batch is a set of recipe cards for workshops or the classroom, which we used at the first Picademy for teachers.

Recipe card


Craig says:

Minecraft: Pi Edition has huge potential for engaging people with programming. The Minecraft game is hugely popular with children and adults alike, as it allows enormous creativity. Combining it with Python programming on the Raspberry Pi opens up an even greater level of creative freedom, and is a massive incentive for learning to program.

Following on from the first draft of my Python Programming with Minecraft Pi book, I developed a set of recipe cards.

The recipe cards provide short example Python programs that interact with Minecraft Pi. They are designed to be accessible for complete beginners. Each recipe card teaches the basics of a programming concept, such as variables or loops, and includes detailed explanations of how the code works.

When using the recipe cards to teach programming in workshops I’ve found that it is essential to leave scope for creativity. Having the opportunity to play and incorporate their own ideas into their programs is hugely beneficial for adults and children. It is more engaging than just copying code and helps develop a deeper understanding when they’re learning to program.

Creative freedom is one of the reasons that Minecraft is so popular, which is why it compliments learning to program perfectly.

He’s right, too.

Several of you asked for a downloadable version of these cards when you saw the photographs from Picademy, so Craig has made them available on his website. Thanks so much Craig – we’re looking forward to seeing what comes next!



eBook RevIew: You Show Me Yours by Larry Grobel

Verdict: 5 Stars

There’s a fine line between being a well-respected biographer and being a tabloid gossip columnist, and in Grobel’s new book, he manages to tread that fine line with dignity for his subjects. As a top celebrity biographer and celebrated writer, Grobel gives readers an inside look at some of his most personal behind-the-scenes moments with his subjects, all without coming across as a sleazy gossip monger or a commonplace name dropper.

Part of that distinction comes from Grobel’s own willingness to delve into his own sensitive past and expose that for readers to. As the subtitle states, this is Grobel’s own journey through the wilds of the New York art scene and on into Hollywood. Nothing is sacred and readers are invited in for this interesting perspective from someone who lived it.

But what is really interesting about this particular memoir is its stories. This isn’t a book about seeing some celebrity get high, strip naked, and run out into the street. This is more a book about the stories that make us who we are and the amazing things that people get to experience. In this case, it just so happens that Grobel experienced a lot of these things alongside normal people who just happen to be famous.

As much as the stigma around self-publishing had eased, I couldn’t help but be irritated by the fact that the author self-published this book. It’s not that the book had troublesome editing issues or needed a better formatter. In fact, it was the opposite. This book represents one of the many, many titles each year that a publisher looks at and says, “Meh,” while waving a dismissive hand. The wealth of insight in this book should have had publishers clamoring for the rights, but instead, without self-publishing, I never would have gotten to read it. Thank goodness authors now have valid, meaningful choices, and thank goodness readers are able to buy a book that didn’t come about in the usual way.

eBook RevIew: You Show Me Yours by Larry Grobel is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kobo Discounts Aura and Arc Tablets for Mothers Day


Kobo tends to take Mothers Day quite seriously, as women make up the majority of their core reading demographic. In the past they have always released new hardware just in time for mom’s special day, but this year they are giving out massive discounts.

Discounts abound for Mothers Day in Canada across the entire 2013 product line of Kobo tablets and e-readers. Chapters, Future Shop, Best Buy, Staples and the Source are all participating in this promotion. You can save $30 on the six inch Kobo Aura e-Reader, $20 on the Kobo Arc 7 HD and $50 on the Kobo Arc 10 HD. You have until May 15th to capitalize on these promotions.

Likely the best deal of the bunch is the Kobo Aura at $109, which is actually more affordable then the previous generation Kobo Glo which is $123. The Aura was one of the best e-readers of all 2013 with its innovative design of making the screen flush with the bezel. It also has a very unique design, high resolution and a massive digital bookstore.

Kobo Discounts Aura and Arc Tablets for Mothers Day is a post from: Good e-Reader

Marvel Prepares for Life After Comixology


Digital comics are doing brisk business and in the last month we have seen sweeping changes in the industry. Amazon purchased Comixology and Thrillbent released a digital comic store. iPad and iPhone owners have a massive amount of disdain for Comixology pulling the ability the buy comics and instead are prompted to visit this website. This was done to phase out the 30% commission Apple generates on each sale. For now, the Marvel app, which is powered by Comixology still offers the ability to make in-app purchases. Until the Marvel contract with Comixology is renewed, things should stay normal for now. Still, Marvel is preparing for life after Comixology in order to have more control over their digital distribution.

Marvel developed and implemented a new Digital Comics Reader for their Unlimited App. This is basically a Netflix style subscription service where comics have to be older than six months to be included. Marvel Entertainment's Vice President of Digital Products, Kristin Vincent mentioned “the entire reader is re-written. Before it had a common HTML5 reader across the iOS, Android and Web platforms. Now the readers have been optimized for each platform built natively, so one for iOS and one for Android, making it a much smoother experience for reading. We’ve also simplified the UI. The new iOS reader will be pushed out today coinciding with the announcement, with the Android version coming soon after.”

The augmented reality app Marvel AR has been received by a mixed response. There are currently 1400 videos and bonus features that you can access by buying the physical issue of the comic. By using the camera on your phone or tablet you can get bonus material, such as animations, commentary and music. In order to radically differentiate themselves from the competition Marvel has added a few new tricks into their AR app, which they integrated into the Unlimited platform. Adaptive Audio borrows elements from Firelight Technologies, who have a music engine commonly used for video games called FMOD. This is the same sound engine that BioShock and Guitar Hero employ and allows Marvel to develop a soundtrack for comics. The music is user controlled and is showcased in the recent reissues of "Winter Soldier" by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. There is also some free content for users to check out with Captain America #8 and the Marvel AR version of Avengers #1.

Marvel is heavily investing in their own technologies that are powered by their own comic reading engines. This allows them to easily integrate AR into their Marvel Unlimited subscription service and consistently make enhancements. The digital team is solely responsible for development and adding new comics into the system. The one thing preventing Marvel from being an end-to-end company is the current deal with Comixology. In May 2012 Marvel renewed a multi-year distribution contract. The contract has some major provisions that clearly state that Comixology will power the Marvel apps for Android and iOS. They also maintain the web-version of the Marvel storefront and use a common login system. One of the big drawbacks is that Marvel is actually prevented from selling single issues themselves until the contract has expired.

Now that Amazon are the owners of Comixology Marvel is likely not going to renew their single issue contract. Likely Marvel is going to see diminished sales via the official Comixology app. Not being able to buy anything through the app will daunting for the average consumer. If Marvel does renew the digital agreement they are likely to add a provision for Comixology not to be solely responsible for single issue sales. It would be in the publishers best interest to sell and distribute the comics themselves for maximum profit.

One of the barriers for Marvel to go it alone is the fact Comixology uses their own login system for the Android and iOS versions of the Marvel app. After the contract was renewed in 2012 Marvel abandoned their own login system and elected to use the universal Comixology edition. So, Comixology has all of the Marvel users credentials in their own system and likely Marvel does not have access to these. So if Marvel decides to sell single issues themselves and abandon Comixology they will be hard pressed to inform all of their users.

The future of Marvel digital looks bright. They secured the comic license for Star Wars and will likely invest a ton into the production of enhanced versions. This beings in 2015 and is likely the year their agreement with Comixology expires. This might be great timing for Marvel to reinvent themselves and shoulder the burden of total distribution and start sourcing single issues to Apple, Barnes and Noble, Google and other companies as DC recently did.

Marvel Prepares for Life After Comixology is a post from: Good e-Reader