Monday, May 5, 2014

HarperCollins Buys Olive Tree Bible Study

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Olive Tree is a Christian company, best known for their Bible Study app for Android. It has been downloaded almost 4 million times from Google Play and the Good e-Reader App Store. Olive also has 7 paid apps that act as audiobook players or virtual study guides for various editions of the Bible, such as King James. Today, HarperCollins Christian Publishing has announced it has purchased Olive Tree.

Rachel Barach, currently the general manager of HCCP's Bible Gateway, will oversee Olive Tree's operations. "I am thrilled to lead these two groups," stated Barach. "Olive Tree's focus on high quality, educational Bible experiences will complement Bible Gateway's mission to provide easy access to Scripture. Together, they will help grow biblical knowledge and engagement worldwide." She continued with, "We are committed to upholding the integrity of Olive Tree with its operating partners, publishers, and consumers. We believe that these relationships are, and will continue to be, an integral part of our strategy moving forward."

Olive Tree currently employs 30 people, who will remain in Spokane Washington. The vast majority of the staff are tech savvy and mainly focus on maintaining their fleet of apps and adding in new features. Founder Drew Haninger has taken on an advisory role during the transition period to HarperCollins.

Have you ever used Olive Trees Free Bible Software before? Try downloading it for Android or Blackberry.

HarperCollins Buys Olive Tree Bible Study is a post from: Good e-Reader

Seven Years of Digital Publishing: What Have We Learned?

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The Digital Landscape

Seven years after the launch of the iPod touch and the opportunities for interactivity it brought to digital publishers, what have magazine publishers learned? We know that app consumption is continuing to rise and that time spent with mobile apps now exceeds desktop web access. According to Gartner, 800 million tablets will be sold in 2015. It's not unlikely that emerging countries will go directly to tablets, bypassing desktop computers and even laptops entirely.

Making content available on tablets has become as important as having a website. That need is increasing worldwide. Tablets' and smartphones' market share is not the only important factor: technology adoption is a key point, too. Some countries show a widespread use of smartphones but not a lot of app downloads. When choosing the platform they want to distribute on, publishers have to determine where consumers are the most active and if they buy content or only access what is available for free. That's why Apple represents an important platform: iTunes is one of the first places to distribute digital content. If it's not necessarily the distribution platform with the most important or largest volume, it is the most profitable one. And for media publishers, this is a key point – but not the only one to take into consideration.

Digital is a fast-changing market, and publishers have to accelerate their process. New versions of tablets and smartphones appear every six months, so publishers need to be up-to-date and ready to evolve to the next important platform. The adoption rate of digital reading is growing so as the benefits from additional platforms such as Android, Kobo and Amazon. That's why it's necessary for publishers to go multi-platform. But how can you go digital and multi-platform amongst the challenges many magazine publishers now face, and without increasing costs?

Lessons From Successful Publishers

As a technology provider for digital publishing since the beginning, we, at Aquafadas, have seen successful magazine publishers that are leading the way. They start by analyzing their market as well as the general public. They want to know who their target audience is, when they are connected, what kind of information they are looking for, what level of enrichments they enjoy. Based on that information, they plan a digital strategy, taking into account not only year one, but also year two. That means that they don't publish one single amazing and super-expensive app – they develop a plan to publish on an industrial scale.

These publishers keep cost recovery in mind; they want to build a wealthy digital market for themselves. Because digital publishing is less expensive than print, this part is not as tricky as it may sound. Some publishers were able to recover their costs simply by offering the digital version for one more dollar to their current print subscribers or by sourcing one single sponsor. Because those publishers want to sell their digital content and therefore benefit from it, they are attentive to the reading experience and to how they can add enrichments and further enhance the app in the future.

The marketing of the app is the other important part of many publishers' success. Communication around the launch of the app is key. Building a digital community is also a factor of longevity. The most successful publishers make community development a big part of their digital publishing strategy. They leverage digital publishing technology to interact with the community on a regular basis and in a clever way. Features like account creation, push notifications, profiling and more allow them to understand digital readers'habits and form better relationships by delivering the right content when and where they want it.

What's next?

As technology progresses, we can see boundaries between the various media blur even further; it's vital that we are ready for these changes. TV, radio, mobile and web will eventually converge, and asset-centric tools will leverage associated metadata (content, video, audio, still image) to create incredible user experiences with no limits. At Aquafadas, we are witnessing an exciting change in our market, and it's thrilling to be part of it.

Seven Years of Digital Publishing: What Have We Learned? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Reinventing the Graphic Novel for All Readers

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Many of us remember fondly the pocket-sized comic books of classic works of literature. Those mini precursors to the graphic novel saved a lot of us come final exam time, but they were also a great tool to use in order to understand great writers’ works, to peruse timeless works of literature in order to decide to read the full edition, and to simply be more well-rounded in terms of having been exposed to the classics.

Unfortunately, those great works are out of print and are prohibitively costly when they can be found for sale by a dealer or collector. But an existing comic publisher has expanded its business to include graphical representations of books for older readers.

Toon Books, who has produced award-winning titles for younger readers, announced the growth of Toon Graphics, which will launch with adaptations of novels by Neil Gaiman, Yvan Pommaux, and others. According to an interview by Brigid Alverson with Toon Book’s co-founder Fran├žoise Mouly, the titles will speak to a larger audience while still offering everything that makes graphic novels enticing.

Possibly the most exciting news about Toon Graphics is its focused on education. Where the pocket editions of literary comics were considered a nice diversion in their day, they were certainly not expected to be a classroom reading tool by bibliopurists. But Toon Graphics will not only be aligned with the Common Core standards just as their titles for young readers were, many will also incorporate teacher material and additional information features to make them an excellent classroom resource. This educational focus of the titles, while still not impeding the enjoyment level of the works, makes the books a great investment for classrooms of a variety of age levels.

As more schools receive funding for technology, especially through literacy initiatives that help provide ebooks and devices, and as new platforms for digital comics and digital graphic novels open up, this medium stands to make a tremendous impact. This effect can not only reach literacy ability levels (especially in reluctant readers and at-risk students), but can also stand to improve readers’ attitudes towards reading for pleasure. By removing the “chore” aspect to reading instruction, graphic novels may give rise to a renaissance in reading.

Reinventing the Graphic Novel for All Readers is a post from: Good e-Reader

BookBaby Adds New Sales Outlet, Faster Royalty Payments

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There’s no shortage of companies willing to take an author’s manuscript and promise to produce a quality book, often for thousands of dollars. And sadly, there’s a great spectrum concerning both the experience of working with the company and the quality of the finished product. Additionally, many self-publishing companies charge outrageous amounts of money for tasks an author with a little know-how can do on his own, but yet still take an additional majority percentage of the royalties, even though the author paid for an expensive package.

One of the rare companies who does not operate that way is BookBaby, who charges a minimal fee for services and connects authors to qualified, vetted professionals for services they do not provide in-house. But what makes BookBaby even more exciting is the announcement today that is completely upending the publishing industry status quo where royalty payments are concerned.

When Amazon Publishing, the book giant’s retail arm, announced over a year ago that they would pay their traditionally published authors monthly instead of quarterly, a number of critics scoffed at the idea that this upstart company would change a four hundred-year-old system. But today, BookBaby announced that it will pay its authors for sales made in its new BookShop weekly…yes, every single Monday.

“We’ve been talking to our authors a lot,” explained Steven Spatz, Chief Marketing Officer for BookBaby, in an interview with Good e-Reader, “we’ve been listening to them. This whole industry has evolved. It’s not enough just to give distribution and conversion, they really want help in promoting and selling their books.”

BookBaby’s announcement today includes details of a new retail platform for authors’ works. In addition to the usual platforms that authors have come to expect for their books, the new BookShop will not only offer authors a new distribution outlet, but will also offer them the opportunity to receive payment weekly. While titles sold through major retailers will still fall under a monthly royalty system, authors who direct their readers to the BookShop can stand to benefit even faster.

"It used to be that writers were thrilled just to have their manuscripts turned into an eBook and listed for sale on Amazon,” said Spatz. "But for today’s independent author, literary success requires a lot more than just great file conversion and retail distribution.”

BookShop is just the latest tool that BookBaby provides for authors. Last year, the company debuted its free BookPromo platform that helps authors share the news about their titles, garner reviews, take advantage of press release distribution, and more. The company has a long history of connecting fans to content, as BookBaby grew out of the original indie music platform, CDBaby.

BookBaby Adds New Sales Outlet, Faster Royalty Payments is a post from: Good e-Reader

New and popular content for schools

Happy May, everyone! While April did fly by, don't let the great new content that was added for purchase in Marketplace fly by as well. We have created lists for the newest and most popular content that was added this past month that your students and users are sure to enjoy.

Check out these new and exciting titles and hopefully you'll find some that you’d like to add to your OverDrive collection. When you click the link below, it will show up as a Marketplace search result and you'll be able to easily add them to a cart.

New Juvenile 

New Young Adult

New Adult – High School Appropriate

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If you would like more suggestions, your Collection Development Specialist is available to help create recommended lists. Email collectionteam@overdrive.com for more information today!

*Some titles may have limited regional or platform availability.

 

Coming soon: OverDrive Challenge

What does it take to make your digital library a success?

A recent Pew Research study showed that about 76% of Americans read a book last year, but only about 28% of those read an eBook. Only half of eBook readers know they can check out an eBook from their local library. Let’s work together to increase that number and get the word out about your library’s digital collection in your community.

To help your library succeed, we’re launching an OverDrive Challenge this June. The OverDrive Challenge is a promotion to help raise awareness of library eBook lending across the world and boost your circulation.

Your mission during June is to grow your checkouts to beat your best month on record for circulation. What is your library’s best month on record? It’s easy to find your highest circulating month in OverDrive Marketplace Reports. Click Circulation Activity, then select Checkouts by Month for all users and formats from the first month of your launch with OverDrive to today’s date.

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Just for entering, you will be automatically entered in a sweepstakes to win a Google Nexus tablet! It’s that easy.

Now, are you ready for the real OverDrive Challenge?

During the month of June, if you increase circulation by 25% from your best month, you will automatically receive your choice of either:

  •  A Kids’/Teens’ eReading Room, OR
  • $1,500 content credit to build your collection

If you increase your circulation in June by 50% from your best month, you will automatically receive:

  • An OverDrive Media Station with hardware and one year of included maintenance, OR
  • $2,500 content credit to build your collection

And best yet, the library with the highest percentage circulation increase during the month of June over their previous highest monthly circulation will receive the Gadget Jackpot: $1,000 content credit, a Google Nexus tablet, a Roku and an OverDrive Media Station. We will also recognize and congratulate the Contest winners who meet the 25%, 50% and Gadget Jackpot levels in the OverDrive Library Blog.

Eligible libraries include public library partners that have been live with the OverDrive service since at least January 1, 2014 (eligibility is subject to the official OverDrive Challenge rules). Libraries in a consortium will enter and be evaluated at a consortium level. If your library is up for the OverDrive Challenge, sign up now! You will be asked for your name, email address, library name, digital collection URL and state/province/country. The deadline for entry is Saturday, May 31st.

Once you’ve entered, get promoting! To help you get started, please visit OverDrive’s Partner Portal where you can access dozens of marketing and outreach ideas and resources, as well as on-demand training sessions to prepare your staff. Stay tuned to OverDrive’s Library Blog for more ideas to prepare for June.

For official OverDrive Challenge rules and details, please click here.

Happy second birthday to The MagPi!

We were amazed to learn that this month’s edition represents The MagPi’s second anniversary. The MagPi is the Raspberry Pi magazine, produced by the community for the community; it has no association with us at the Foundation (besides the fact that we love it and think it’s the best thing since sliced maltloaf).

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Click to read or download The MagPi

Ian McAlpine, one of the group of volunteers who produce the magazine every month, had this to say.

Looking back on Year 2 of The MagPi, the magazine has continued to grow from strength to strength. The MagPi is produced every month by a geographically dispersed group of volunteers and authors whose only motivation is to share their knowledge. By all accounts it shouldn’t work, yet here we are on our second birthday having just released Issue 23.

With an average monthly readership of 150K, The MagPi has had to evolve out of necessity. For our readers the visible change of our evolution came in issues 10 and 11 with the introduction of a more professional layout style, but one which provides a consistent template that allows new volunteers to learn Scribus quickly. With the increasing number of hits, our website at www.themagpi.com also got a significant refresh.

Behind the scenes there have been many changes. We moved from using Dropbox as a document repository to Git, which also has the added benefit of source control. Internally we have a bespoke “Magazine Management System” (MMS) which helps us manage the content of each issue, who is the article author, layouter, tester and proof reader, the state of progress of each article plus it tracks all the tickets for each article. The MMS is also the repository for the final PDFs which it merges automatically and uploads to Issuu.com every hour.

Our second year also saw the introduction of sponsored advertising. This was somewhat controversial. The MagPi is a community driven, peer-reviewed journal and it will always be available to download for free. But we wanted to also make it available as a printed magazine. We have been careful to limit the advertising in each issue, but it is with thanks to those advertisers that we are able to make printed editions of the magazine available each month. Additionally, we averaged 32 pages in each issue in our first year, but this has increased throughout our second year to 48 pages. Some issues of The MagPi have also been translated into Chinese, German, Korean, French and Spanish.

Ignoring our first year, in just this second year alone there have been a staggering 67 different authors who have produced over 100 articles. The MagPi exists because of these authors. There is also a core group of folks across the world who volunteer a huge amount of time every month to deliver The MagPi; William Bell, Bryan Butler, Tim Cox, Colin Deady, Matthew Judge, Ian McAlpine, Claire Price, Aaron Shaw and Ash Stone. There are many other unnamed volunteers and we thank them all for their help every month and for helping The MagPi to grow.

Finally thank you to you, our readers… without your support the efforts of everyone involved would be wasted. We hope you keep enjoying and reading The MagPi every month.

This month being a birthday month, there are a few special items in May’s issue, including a competition to win £2000 of kit. Thanks to all of you at The MagPi from all of us at the Raspberry Pi Foundation: we’re incredibly grateful for your support, and we’re always amazed at what you achieve every month.

The Past, Present and Future of Harlequin

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News Corp announced the purchase of Canadian based Harlequin from Torstar on May 2nd, 2014. The entire deal was a cash purchase of $455 million dollars and the romance publisher will be a division of HarperCollins. What does the future hold for readers of their beloved brand? Why was Harlequin even available to purchase in the first place? What is the future of digital and softcover titles?

Harlequin was originally purchased by TorStar in 1975 and saw massive success in their affordable softcover books that were a staple in bookstores, grocery stores and supermarkets all over North America. When you envision the quintessential title from Harlequin, often shirtless hunks abound. In the 1980s and early 1990′s Fabio was a household name.

What made Harlequin an attractive acquisition target? It was one of the most profitable aspects of TorStar Corp, a Canadian media company. It currently publishes 110 physical and digital books every single month. The books are translated into 30 different languages and available all over the world. They have 1300 authors signed to publishing contracts and over 1,000 employees worldwide. Obviously the romance genre is still very popular with 24 of the top 100 bestsellers in April belonging to Harlequin.

Why is Torstor selling the largest Romance company in the world? TorStar is seeing a decline in their entire portfolio, primarily due to the newspapers. It owns popular brands such as the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest newspaper, and a equity stake in The Canadian Press as part of a joint agreement with the parent companies of the Globe and Mail and Montreal La Presse. TorStar was seeing decreased revenue from their newspapers and will use 158.5 million to pay off their current debt.

“We think we did the right thing in exiting,” David Holland, president and CEO of Torstar, said during a conference call to discuss the sale. “While making the decision to sell was difficult, we are confident that this transaction represents excellent value for Torstar shareholders and importantly further strengthens Torstar’s financial position and capital base as we continue in our evolution as a company,” Holland told financial analysts.

Harlequin's chief executive, Craig Swinwood, said that the publisher would remain based in Toronto, and that it would continue to operate as a "distinct and successful brand" within HarperCollins. Brian Murray Chief-Executive at HC echoed those sentiments, saying that the "Harlequin rich name and heritage will be preserved independently."

Harlequin as a company was stagnating under the ownership of Torstar. In 2009 they saw $493 million in revenue, $468 million in 2010, $459 million in 2011, and $426 million in 2012. One of the reasons the company was losing money was the decline of the softcover book and the rise of the eBook. In 2007 the big decline started when paperback sales took a 2% dip, bringing in a staggering $1.1 billion dollars. The landslide of decreased revenue continued, plummeting 68% from 2007 until 2013. Now, the entire softcover industry worldwide is $373.1 million.

One of the bright spots of Harlequin was the early adoption of eBooks. They were one of the first companies to digitize their new titles in 2007 and their backlist in 2011. Their cade of Authors were kept happy with some of the highest royalty rates in the industry, around 30% of each book sold. They also started one of the first digital first imprints, Carina Press. This program allowed authors to forgo book advances to get a higher revenue earned on their books. The saved money helped Harlequin remain profitable and still give authors marketing attention.

HarperCollins intends on leveraging Harlequins team of translators and tap into their international distribution pipeline. 95% of all HC books are English only, which limits their market penetration. Romance readers are also voracious readers, with the average reader consuming almost 100 books a year.

It is important to note that Harlequin will be a division of HarperCollins and will be able to conduct business autonomously. Unlike the Penguin/Random House deal where the two sides actually merged together to now publish 1/4 of all books in the world.

The Past, Present and Future of Harlequin is a post from: Good e-Reader