Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kindle FreeTime Just Got Better with Help from OverDrive

kindle freetime
One of the more enticing features of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet, at least for parents, was the option known as Kindle FreeTime. This parental control feature enables parents to set time limits on tablet use, as well as control what content their children can access within the tablet.Even better, the content is divided into educational or entertainment categories, and parents can establish in the settings that their kids must first reach certain goals in learning content before being freed up to play games or watch cartoons.

Today, OverDrive announced that Kindle FreeTime just got all that much more beneficial. As the world’s leading provider of digital content to school and public libraries, OverDrive has some 20,000 member libraries and the content that is shared with those members can now be accessed by patrons using the Kindle FreeTime feature. Essentially, this means that a child with a FreeTime account who attends an OverDrive member school can access that content through the Amazon app.

While the young readers do have to be patrons of a school or library that offers OverDrive platform content in order to take advantage of this feature, this means that parents can still use the feel-good controls of FreeTime while supplying their children with free access to quality reading material from over 800 publishers.

According to a press release on the program, “OverDrive offers libraries and schools the industry's largest and most complete eBook catalog, including Kindle eBooks from more than 800 publishers. Popular titles in educational, children's, young adult, fiction, and more from authors such as Neil Gaiman, Dan Gutman, Judy Blume, Rick Riordan, and Beverly Cleary can now be read within Kindle FreeTime. Once borrowed from the library or school, children can read eBooks including the Big Nate and Friends series, Harry Potter series, Number the Stars, The Book Thief, The Chronicles of Narnia series, Wonder, Mary Poppins and thousands of others.”


Kindle FreeTime Just Got Better with Help from OverDrive is a post from: Good e-Reader

NeRDs Are Cool Again: Findaway World Develops eReader for the US Navy

NeRD Device and Case
When digital content first appeared at the mass consumer level, one of the often highlighted benefits of e-readers was the portability, namely the ability to carry a large library of reading material in a device smaller than many hardcover books. But that ability becomes more than just a matter of convenience or first-worldness when you’re an active duty member of the military, stationed abroad.

When Findaway World, the makers of the Playaway single-title individual MP3 players that are specifically branded with one book, learned of the ease with which soldiers could pass around their devices, they took it one step further for the unique needs of one specific branch of the military. Findaway World announced today the launch of its NeRD reader: the Navy eReader Device.

These portable audiobook players, created in conjunction with the Navy General Library Program (NGLP), come fully stocked with as many as 300 pre-loaded audiobooks, meeting a vital need for onboard reading entertainment in an environment where space is at a premium.

"Navy Installations Command is constantly seeking to provide our proud Sailors around the world with new tools and resources that can enrich their lives," said Nellie Moffitt, Navy General Library program manager, in a press release. "NeRD addresses this goal head-on, with a library of digital titles in a convenient and secure package that circumvents longstanding NGLP challenges in content storage. By partnering with Findaway World, we now have the ideal reading solution for the digital age."

“Since 2007, Findaway World has provided audiobook content to the men and women who serve our country," said Mitch Kroll, Co-Founder and CEO of Findaway World. "We're proud to partner again with Navy Installations Command and the U.S. Navy on this initiative and believe that NeRD will provide a unique and enriching eBook experience to the lives of officers and enlisted Sailors."

NeRDs Are Cool Again: Findaway World Develops eReader for the US Navy is a post from: Good e-Reader

400 My Independent Bookshops Launch in the UK


My Independent Bookshop is a new initiative in the UK that allows any reader to set up their shop with twelve books at a time on their shelves—changing the display as often as they choose by season, genre or simply their mood. The owners of the shelf can earn a 8% commission from their favorite indie bookstore.  Today the service gets out of beta and over 400 bookshops are opening in the UK.

The essence of My Independent Bookshop is to allow readers to  buy the titles they see on My Independent Bookshop profiles through Hive, the e-commerce arm of Gardners wholesalers, which is connected to 350 independent bookshops in the UK. Users can choose their favourite real-world independent bookshop to connect with when they register and bookshops will receive a minimum of 5% commission on book orders and 8% on e-books orders.  Penguin and Random House were the inciting force behind this initiative which is a way they can compete with the Amazon Affiliate program.

The 'bookshops' opening today, following a month-long invite-only beta period, include several high-profile authors and book lovers from Irvine Welsh to Simon Mayo to Carys Bray, many of the UK's independent bookshops from South London stalwart Dulwich Books to the UK's smallest island bookshop, Hayling Island Books, and hundreds of specially selected VIP readers.

Author Terry Pratchett, who has connected his online bookshop, NARRATIVIA, to the tiny Hayling Island Bookshop in Hampshire, said: "Independent bookshops supported this jobbing genre author long before the geeks were let out of their wardrobes, being able to support these talented retail wizards through 'My Independent Bookshop' is a very, very good thing. The personal aspect of sharing recommendations in your own online shop gives readers the ability to discover surprising new worlds in an interesting way. Go on, have a virtual rummage around – you'll never know what you might find."

This is a very interesting value proposition. It allows anyone to setup their own shelf and recommend it to friends, family and colleagues. If anyone makes a purchase the bookstore and the shelf organizer both get a cut.  There are some really big name publishers and companies supporting this, so likely funding and promotion won’t be an issue.

400 My Independent Bookshops Launch in the UK is a post from: Good e-Reader

eBay is Developing a New Digital Magazine Strategy


Many nonconventional companies are starting to get involved in the news business. The most recent one to develop a strategy was Facebook Paper that launched a few months ago and curates content from mainstream news organizations. Pepsi, Red Bull and Mini Cooper have all hired in-house writers to develop a slew of original content. Ebay is hoping to capitalize on this growing trend, turning its main site into a digital magazine.

Devin Wenig is the President of the global eBay Marketplaces business unit. He came to the company from Thomson Reuters in September 2011.  He knows something about journalism and is laying down the foundation to turn eBay into a digital magazine. In order to facilitate this he has hired a “chief content curator” and dozens of  editors and long-form writers to help turn its site into a digital magazine.

Currently eBay is laying down the blueprint of how they will transform their main landing pages to provide data-driven stories about the items people are most searching for, infographics depicting surprising top sellers and unique seasonal stories. Currently the template of this new initiative is evident in the Pinterest inspired Ebay Today.

The main intention behind the digital magazine aspect of eBay is to hire specialists from many different industries. If you are hunting eBay for sports cards, comic books or even a new pair of PRPS jeans,  you will in the future encounter articles about fashion, geek culture and sports memorabilia. This will encourage people to visit the site daily on the PC or their  mobile device to keep informed about the latest news and happenings of the industry. Following the sports card examples, Ebay will likely keep track of new series, expansion or critical information like who is in the running for Rookie of the year, to assist you to buy the right cards.

Ebay is betting on original content will get people visiting the site every day and hopefully make impulse buys along the way. If their vision is realized and every single sub-category as their own dedicated curation expert it could be the competitive advantage they need to battle Amazon.

eBay is Developing a New Digital Magazine Strategy is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kindle for Samsung eBook App Review (Video)

A few weeks ago Amazon and Samsung announced a new partnership to offer an exclusive Kindle ebook app for Samsung tablets and phones. The new app is called Kindle for Samsung, and it’s available only in the Samsung app store. Samsung also just released a new line of Galaxy tablets, the Tab4 series, the beginning […]

OverDrive Library eBooks Now Work with Kindle FreeTime

OverDrive, the leading distributor of ebooks to libraries and schools, announced today that ebooks borrowed through OverDrive’s network of libraries can now be used on Kindle Fire tablets using Kindle FreeTime. OverDrive has supported Kindle devices for several years now, but only through ordinary means, not by using Amazon’s kid-centric Kindle FreeTime feature that lets […]

The NeRD: US Navy’s New Custom eBook Reader

It looks like the U.S. Navy is going to be getting some new NeRDs onboard ships. The Navy's General Library Program has announced the NeRD, short for Navy eReader Device. Because of security risks associated with tablets and ebook readers like the iPad and Kindle, the Navy's General Library Program partnered with Findaway World to […]

Romance Once Again Innovates Digital Publishing with Mills & Boon’s Chatsfield

If you want to attempt something new in digital publishing, start with the romance genre. What have romance publishers done that’s so astounding? They were among the first publishers to adopt ebook-first and digital-only titles at a time when books were only released as ebooks after a hardcover run. They were the first in the industry to offer 70% royalties to authors on digital-only titles despite accusations that they were pandering to authors who couldn’t get published otherwise. They were the first to offer nearly instantaneous publication from a major publisher, reducing the ridiculously long wait time for a new book to reach market. They among the first industry to open their arms to hybrid authors, giving them the freedom to write books for their publishers while also writing other unrelated titles specifically to launch as self-published works.

And while Harlequin was behind a lot of those bold moves, they certainly were not alone in the attitude of experimentation. But now, Harlequin is responsible for a whole new type of digital storytelling, or more specifically, its Mills & Boon imprint is. The Chatsfield is an online platform that weaves together the opulent setting of the fictitious hotel and the existing books about the tycoon’s family who owns it. Now, in a series of digital titles, further stories–broken up into the different “rooms” in the hotel–will add new content and new characters to the mix. There’s even a social media angle to the digital experience, allowing readers to connect on various platforms and share insights from the books.

In an interesting and immersive twist, fans of the platform can email characters from the stories, and those characters will respond, fostering more dialogue about the story and engaging readers in unheard of ways. The interactive website also offers a more in-depth look at the story lines and cast by inviting readers to “snoop” in the hotel’s guest rooms. Registration on the site comes with your own “check in” to bring the hotel stay experience to life.

Whether this is a gimmicky attempt to lure readers or the wave of the future for digital publishing remains to be seen, but as always, this kind of innovation has a strong foundation with romance readers and the publishers who provide that content.

Romance Once Again Innovates Digital Publishing with Mills & Boon’s Chatsfield is a post from: Good e-Reader

Bowker Raised the Price of ISBNs, Should Authors Care?

According to some reports, it just became a whole lot more expensive to be an author.

Bowker, the US agency overseeing ISBN numbers, announced this week that a block of ten numbers would go from $250 to $295, which caused somewhat of a firestorm of criticism from both authors and industry watchers. As some people have rightfully asked, if less authors are attempting traditional publishing, and those authors are also taking advantage of free ISBN numbers provided by sources like Amazon, CreateSpace, and Smashwords, wouldn’t the demand have gone down and result in a drop in price rather than an increase?

While there is no doubt that ISBN numbers serve a distinct purpose, such as making a print book trackable in terms of sales data, many self-published and hybrid authors have discovered that their needs don’t coincide with an ISBN number. Certainly those standardized categorical identifiers are important for bookstores and libraries, but as authors have discovered, their books aren’t getting into bookstores anyway, at least not without massive amounts of legwork involved in contacting individual store owners and convincing them to stock their books.

If the very function of an ISBN number doesn’t apply to a work, and if other sources are willing to provide an equivalent number for a book, why buy one? That question is becoming harder and harder to answer, especially in a climate when authors are shifting their publishing goals. The once elusive but highly sought after bookstore shelf space is no longer the Holy Grail of publishing that it once was, especially in light of increasing online sales and the understanding that even Big Five titles struggle for prime shelf space in retailers’ stores.

While it goes without saying that ISBN numbers have certainly not gone extinct, it still leaves authors questioning why they’re so expensive. This comes with the understanding that US authors and publishers can buy a single ISBN number for $125, and blocks of numbers at higher prices but better per-number rates; there is a processing fee along with the cost of the ISBNs. Unfortunately, those numbers are non-transferrable, meaning a small group of self-published authors or indie publishers cannot get together and buy a block of ten numbers without putting one person’s name on all ten permanently. An author could still use the number someone purchased on his behalf, but the purchaser would be registered as the publisher.

What’s also raising ire among critics of the model is the price in the first place. While the US is certainly not the only country whose registering agency charges a fee for the numbers, many countries don’t charge at all and do not require a five-business-day wait time to receive it. In the UK a block of ten numbers will cost about one hundred dollars less than in the US, and Australian authors have the option to purchase the numbers individually for around $40, rather than having to buy ten (but ten numbers will only cost $80 with the incentive pricing).

Bowker Raised the Price of ISBNs, Should Authors Care? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Google Glass, Pi-style

The good people at Adafruit have a new tutorial up on making a wearable display, powered by a Pi, that clips on to your regular glasses or (if you’re a Terminator with perfect vision) sunglasses.


The composite display from a pair of “Private Display Glasses” – glasses which are meant to allow you to watch immersive video from the comfort of your own sofa/bed/deckchair - is hacked into a new, 3D-printed shell (the files for the shell are available on Thingiverse), and attached to a Pi along with a mini-keyboard, which lives in your pocket.

(On watching that video, Gordon said “That looks silly.” I replied: “SO DOES YOUR FACE.” There is a hostile working environment at Pi Towers.)

We love it as a proof of concept, and it’s not too much of a leap to get voice recognition (which the Pi handles admirably – you’ll find a mountain of pointers in this forum thread) working on a piece of kit like this; mounting a Raspberry Pi camera board on there shouldn’t be too much of a stretch either. If you have a go yourselves, get in touch: we’d love to see where this goes next!


OverDrive eBooks now available for use with Kindle FreeTime

OverDrive announced today that eBooks from more than 20,000 schools and libraries in its U.S. network are available to be used with Amazon's Kindle FreeTime. OverDrive is the only supplier of eBooks to schools and libraries with support for Kindle devices. This enables kids and parents to access thousands of Kindle format eBooks from the library and read them within the FreeTime feature using the same parental controls and educational goal-setting that FreeTime offers for other activities.

Amazon Kindle FreeTime is a free feature available on Kindle Fire tablets that enables parents to limit their child's screen time or restrict certain categories in a personalized, kid-friendly environment. FreeTime content is separated into educational or entertainment categories. Parents are able to set daily educational goals for reading and learning, and with "Learn First" can require that those goals are met before their child is able to watch cartoons or play games. In addition, parents can set how much time may be spent on any given activity – video, games, or reading – or an overall amount of time a child may use the device. Kids are unable to exit FreeTime without a password.

eBooks borrowed from libraries and schools in the Kindle format may be added to FreeTime profiles by following these instructions, or through the "Manage Content & Subscription" section in FreeTime by taking the following steps:

1)     On the Start screen for FreeTime, tap "Manage Content & Subscription."

2)     Tap "Add titles to [name of profile]'s Library."

3)     Select "Books" from the dropdown menu.

4)     Check the box next to the desired title and tap "Done" in the upper right corner. The title will be added.

OverDrive offers libraries and schools the industry's largest and most complete eBook catalog, including Kindle eBooks from more than 800 publishers. Popular titles in educational, children's, young adult, fiction, and more from authors such as Neil Gaiman, Dan Gutman, Judy Blume, Rick Riordan, and Beverly Cleary can now be read within Kindle FreeTime. Once borrowed from the library or school, children can read eBooks including the Big Nate and Friends series, Harry Potter series, Number the Stars, The Book Thief, The Chronicles of Narnia series, Wonder, Mary Poppins and thousands of others.


Why Major Publishers Missed the Boat on Self-Publishing


When it comes to self-publishing an eBook there are only a few companies out there that are worth an authors time. Amazon has Kindle Direct Publishing which dominates the marketplace and accounts for 75% of all digital book sales in North America. Barnes and Noble and Kobo are two other companies that offer indies the ability to market their books domestically and internationally. Wattpad is one of the largest to publish in the serialized format and has some authors with over 190 million reads. Needless to say, all of these companies are tremendously profitable and are the only avenues that have a widespread appeal.

Major publishers have all missed the boat on self-publishing when they should have innovated. Companies like Hachette, Penguin/Random House, HarperCollins should have been the ones that developed Wattpad or their own version of Nook Press or Kobo Writing Life. They could have capitalized on rising talent and signed the best ones to book deals. Another tremendous benefit is customer sales data, buying behaviors and other valuable metrics that companies like Amazon and Apple don’t share.

Some publishers got into the self-publishing game by acquiring other companies and not developing their own in-house solution. In 2012 Penguin purchased Author Solutions, which is much akin to a Vanity Press. Author Solutions mainly solicits manuscripts from authors, provides editing and marketing services, and publishes the books in print or digital format. The company generally requires writers to pay, though it does offer free services through its Booktango product. Over 150,000 people have published with the company since they unveiled their services back in 2007. In order to do well with this platform, customers are encouraged to pay thousands for top tier packages. Most of Author Solutions employees are marketers who always try and upsell services.

Harlequin invested in digital quite early with their Carina press imprint. Carina Press pays 40% of net digital receipts to books sold on 3rd party retail sites and 50% of net digital receipts to books sold directly on the Carina Press website. The companies contract also lays out royalties for the other rights, such as audio, print and foreign translation. It is a free service and geared mainly towards romance and erotica.

Publishers were in a perfect position five years ago to provide a viable self-publishing program. They missed the boat and Amazon become the unstoppable juggernaut that pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars piggybacking on the indies. The Seattle based company is vilified by everyone in the publishing industry because they developed and executed an idea that the traditional publishers were unable to do.

Why Major Publishers Missed the Boat on Self-Publishing is a post from: Good e-Reader