Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pocketbook Ultra e-Reader Available in July


Pocketbook used to be known for their budget e-readers with woeful hardware specs. The company is really turning things around this year with a completely new hardware lineup using top of the line screen technology and innovative features. The Pocketbook Ultra is their new flagship e-reader that seeks to do battle against the Kobo Aura and Kindle Paperwhite.

The new 6-inch e-Reader features a e Ink Carta display screen with a resolution of 1024 x 758 pixels and 212 dpi. LED frontlight helps to enjoy reading, even in low light conditions due to the new interface it's even more convenient to adjust brightness. Paging buttons at the rear panel allow to use the entire surface of the e-reader efficiently and give the user more options of holding the device.

The Pocketbook Ultra supports more than 20 popular text and image formats, and also contains a set of preinstalled ABBYY Lingvo dictionaries. You will have 4GB of internal memory and a slot for microSD cards allow to keep a whole library at the fingertips, while a powerful 1 GHz processor and 512MB of RAM provide smooth and rapid page turns.

One of the most compelling aspects of the Ultra is the 5 megapixel camera with autofocus on the back of the device. Built-in LED flash allows to make high-quality images regardless of lighting. Pictures can be used as screen savers for the device and transmitted to a PC, the bright color photos will become good addition to the family archive. Pocketbook developed an app that can recognize text and convert it into editable formats. The availability of scanning and recognition of printed text is particularly useful in learning and working with documents. With the camera and the preinstalled software PocketBook Ultra can also read and recognize bar and QR codes. I can see people using this to scan books or to create their own OCR files.

With new PocketBook Ultra it is also possible to listen to your favorite music, with built in MP3 support. This will allow you to listen to audiobooks or turn on some tunes while you are devouring the latest eBook.

This e-reader will ship out this July in the Ukraine and will likely have more internationally availability soon after. It will retail for the equivalent of $220 US.

Pocketbook Ultra e-Reader Available in July is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kobo Writing Life Unveils Author Pages and Reviews


Kobo Writing Life is one of the strongest alternatives to Kindle Direct Publishing. Authors who elect to self-publish with Kobo often find themselves able to market their titles in more international markets. Writing Life is working on two new compelling features that are currently in testing and will be unveiled soon.

In the near future, Kobo will begin featuring book reviews for anyone that self-publishes eBooks. Customers will be able to write reviews and choose star ratings for titles and post them on the book page. This new system is created in-house and does not rely on any 3rd party review company such as GoodReads or iDreambooks.

If you are a current author who publishes with Kobo you can check out how it will look HERE.

Kobo Writing Life Unveils Author Pages and Reviews is a post from: Good e-Reader

Challenging the Status Quo


As a long time software entrepreneur and executive, my first "lesson" in how the publishing industry works occurred over a decade ago. As a founder of CreateSpace (now an Amazon.com company), we had developed a print-on-demand (POD) infrastructure that provided global inventory-free fulfillment of low velocity books. It had been adopted by tens of thousands independent authors and small publishers. Early on, we proposed our POD solution to a major publisher, with a clear value proposition: give us your out-of-print backlist, and for no effort earn incremental sales. The sales pitch could not have gone better. Lots of smiles, nods, agreement. But when we went for the close, the response from the large publisher was essentially, "it all sounds fantastic … but we are never the first to do anything." We solved a major publisher problem, yet the status quo prevailed.

In our latest BiblioBoard venture, we identified a problem that seems even larger in scope and threatens the long-term role and viability of libraries in the digital age. The problem revolves around existing library eBook lending platforms and can be summed up as follows:

- Patron usage of eBooks remains very low (6% or less), particularly compared to popular consumer products from Amazon and Apple (back in 2011, Amazon announced that eBook adoption had passed 50%).

- Libraries are operating in fear of success, as higher patron usage (under the existing eBook circulation business rules) leads to increased wait lists, budget crises, or both. If they succeed, they create more problems.

So we find ourselves again up against the wall of the status quo.

If one were to look at the demand curve for a typical publisher catalog, we would find a large head (the "front list") and a very long tail. Intuitively we understand that most consumer book sales occur in the first year or two after publication. Publishers require that libraries use these artificially constrained eBook circulation rules to protect the value of their front list, perhaps 5% of the overall catalog. But they also applied the same business rules to the other 95%. This has resulted in an amazingly clunky user experience (long wait lists, cumbersome check out processes, limited reading periods, etc.) and, not surprisingly, low patron usage. And these circulation rules address a largely a made up problem, as usage stats illustrate that these rules are simply not necessary for most long-tail (lower demand) books. Ironically, this becomes a self-reinforcing cycle, as usage drives library priorities, budgets and funding. The result is a chasm has now been torn between the publishing and library worlds, an unnecessarily adversarial relationship with an incredibly influential industry.

The reality is that publishers are also afraid. And not without justification, as their traditional business models have been materially impacted by market forces. They fear the negotiating power of Amazon, who has now moved into publishing. They fear the democratization of book distribution brought on by the success of self-publishing, which thanks to companies such as our CreateSpace alma mater, have demonstrated that independent authors have a legitimate place in the world of media bestseller lists.  They fear cannibalization from library distribution. They fear the unknown, and they fear change. Or rather, as Ronald Heifetz once said "What people resist is not change per se, but loss."

There is another way to bridge the divide. Let me paint a metaphor. Netflix has millions of users and is incredibly intuitive and engaging. Notably, users have no expectation when they subscribe to Netflix that they will get the latest content. Indeed, it is only after movies and shows have exhausted their prime consumer business potential (theaters, DVD, on-demand, etc.) does it become available to subscribers. This does not, in any way, imply that the service is not of high value. Moreover, the service has had little cannibalistic impact on sales, and it actually has many marketing benefits. After Netflix offered the Breaking Bad series, it drove millions of consumers to buy the latest season (myself included :). It also exposed new content and artists to millions of consumers who might not otherwise have discovered their resonance. Best-selling author Hugh Howey gets this, and uses his back list to drive sales of his front list. Library Journal recently found that over 50% of library users go on to purchase books by an author they discovered in the library. So the library has become an effective vehicle for independent authors to get discovered and build a marketing presence. Library Journal's SELF-e program addresses the fundamental challenge libraries face in this navigating self-published content.

Libraries also have an important role in bridging this divide, where there is an interesting philosophical debate that surrounds the central question of whether it is the role or responsibility of libraries to provide patrons with access to best sellers at the same time as paying consumers. Many view it as a social responsibility to not "restrict access" to books that patrons might not be able to afford. One library received much attention for spending $23,400 for patron access to a single eBook title, "Fifty Shades of Grey." Putting aside the literary merit of this particular book, the question is really whether this is a good use of finite resources, when that money could be used to expose patrons to far larger pools of great literary content. Is the central role of the library to level the economic playing field between the content haves and have nots, or is it broadly promote literacy and education?

Both libraries and publishers have a role to play in this drama. But an important first step is to understand the other's position and find a better model, because the current one just isn't working. Libraries can become the biggest advocate for publishers but they can't as long as they are understandably reluctant to recommend or promote content that their patrons can't actually easily access, and thus causes them more pain. Our BiblioBoard Library platform also plays a role in addressing these challenges, helping libraries and publishers find common ground. An upcoming Publishers Weekly executive roundtable is focused on bridging this divide. The focus of BiblioBoard is exclusively on enabling an amazing patron experience (the three E's of software design that I outlined in my recent TEDx Talk: Easy, Elegant and Engaging), providing a shared software service that handles all the technical challenges of our mobile world, and an open platform with the freedom to deliver ANY content they want. And, of course, we continue to work with publishers around our PatronsFirst business model, and today have hundreds of publishers (and over 100,000 books) ready for the brave new world. Status quos are meant to be broken.

Challenging the Status Quo is a post from: Good e-Reader

The PocketBook InkPad is a Sexy New e-Reader


Pocketbook has been making e-readers consistently since 2007 and the company has a number of great devices coming out this year. The Pocketbook Ultra and Aqua are very unique and distinguish themselves quite nicely in a crowded marketplace. Pocketbook has unveiled a new e-Reader today called the InkPad and it seeks to provide more screen area to read on with its giant eight inch display.

The PocketBook InkPad screen is based on E Ink Pearl technology and has the highest screen resolution for such devices – 1600×1200 pixels. High resolution allows you to adjust the font size from the minimum to the maximum without losing definition. Exceptional image clarity will provide a special comfort of reading and the ability of E Ink screens to use only reflected light will make reading perfectly safe for eyes.

Most e-Readers these days have an illuminated display to assist in devouring books in low light conditions. It has a special sensory area located above the screen, which eliminates the need to use the on-screen menu.

A powerful 1GHz CPU and 512MB of RAM provide smooth pages turning and stable use of any application. 4 GB of internal memory expandable up to 32 GB will allow to collect a real library, which is always at your fingertips. It also has a 3.5mm headphone jack to listen to audiobooks or music. Pocketbook has integrated Text to Speech in this model, to have books read aloud.

There is not many eight inch e-readers currently on the market. The only other new one to be announced this year was the Cybook Ocean, which is not out yet and dealing with FCC certification. There is no release date on the InkPad yet or price.

The PocketBook InkPad is a Sexy New e-Reader is a post from: Good e-Reader

PW Launches BookLife Self-Publishing Platform

While the company website is a little stark right now, make no mistake that the people behind Publisher’s Weekly are going to unveil something big. Set to launch during this year’s BookExpo event, BookLife will not only help authors with the usual suspects like vetted professionals for cover design, editing, and formatting, but will also work to offer promotional tools that help authors get their books noticed in front of readers.

With the abundance of self-publishing opportunities available to authors now, and even opportunities like library distribution thanks to this morning’s announcement that Smashwords and OverDrive are pairing up on ebook lending, the real stand out will be in the ways that companies can offer book promotion to their clients. BookBaby has already made a name for itself as not only a digital distributor who does not take any portion of sales royalties, but also as a site that offers book discovery tools to its authors.

More information on BookLife will be forthcoming at this year’s BEA event.

PW Launches BookLife Self-Publishing Platform is a post from: Good e-Reader

New Retailer Emerges in US for Sony’s DPT-S1 Digital Paper PDF Reader

I’ve got some good news and some bad news. A new reseller for the Sony DPT-S1 PDF Reader has emerged in the United States. The bad news is they are currently out-of-stock and aren’t selling any at the moment. At least one person on MobileRead was able to buy one, and without the hassle of […]

OverDrive Adding 200,000 eBooks From Smashwords Indie Authors

Smashwords and OverDrive issued a press release today announcing a new partnership to distribute Smashwords ebooks to libraries through the OverDrive network. This will add some 200,000 ebooks from 80,000 indie authors and small independent presses to OverDrive’s catalog of ebooks available to public libraries in the OverDrive global network. OverDrive is the leading platform […]

Last day to sign up for Big Library Read

Have you signed up for Big Library Read yet? The event runs from June 3-18, but the window to sign up is closing. The last day to sign up is Wednesday, May 21.

Laurien Berenson's Melanie Travis Mystery, A Pedigree to Die For is the title for this Big Library Read event. Kensington Publishing has graciously provided the first book in the Melanie Travis mystery series so that millions of readers from around the world will have the chance to discover this captivating world Berenson has created.

Big Library Read is an opportunity for users to read the same digital title at the same time without any wait lists or holds. To borrow the title, your users will simply log in to your digital collection. A Pedigree to Die For will be right on the home page ready to checkout. In the coming days, we will be providing more information about this summer's Big Library Read including links to a discussion board, a marketing kit and best practices guide full of great ideas from successful libraries, as well details for the author chat with Berenson.

To sign up your library, simply email your OverDrive Account Specialist. Your readers are sure to love this fantastic title!


Boot from a 16MB SD card

Call for guest posts! I’m going to be away for ten days, and Ben and Helen will be babysitting this blog. They’re looking for guest posts from you – do you have a Pi project you think we might be interested in? Email info@raspberrypi.org with your submission, and if the team likes it, they might feature it here.

A little activity for you to try at home – if, that is, you’re able to find an SD card from the past. This one is 1000 times smaller than the one that’s in my Raspberry Pi today. I’ve no idea where I’d start looking for an SD card this small in 2014; get rummaging through your drawers and let us know if you have any luck. You’ll need a USB memory stick too, large enough to fit your operating system on, because 16MB isn’t going to cut it.

16MB SD card

Read it carefully – that says 16 MEGAbytes.

Mike Redrobe had nothing to do one afternoon, so he decided to make his Pi boot from something he’d found down the back of some prehistoric sofa. With a very minimal amount of work, he was able to put all the pre-boot files (9MB) for Raspbian on the SD card, put the boot image for Raspbian on the USB keystick, edit cmdline.txt and boot up. Read all about it on his website.

I’m not quite sure why all of us here at Pi Towers think that this is so much fun, and suspect it speaks to the fact that most of us don’t have souls or a sense of humour.


Smashwords, OverDrive Brings Indie Titles to Libraries

An agreement announced today between ebook distributor and self-publishing platform Smashwords and OverDrive, the largest provider of digital content to public and school libraries, is going to give self-published authors one of the few remaining pieces in the publishing puzzle, namely the ability for libraries to stock their work.

As it stands right now, self-published authors must contact libraries individually and ask them to stock their titles. Even with advancements like inclusion in the Ingram catalog or CreateSpace’s expanded distribution option, libraries have had the ability to stock these titles, but really had no incentive to notice or find them them. And with library budgets being slashed to embarrassingly low amounts and shelf space shrinking for already cash-strapped libraries, the chances of them taking a risk on an unheard of author were not very high.

But this agreement will enable indie authors to offer their books as part of OverDrive’s one million-plus title catalog, allowing libraries that option to find and stock the ebooks. With the typically lower price of ebooks through Smashwords, the opportunity for libraries to stock titles for their patrons and to increase author discoverability increases.

“I think this is probably one of our most exciting distribution agreements in a long time,” said Mark Coker, CEO and founder of Smashwords, in an interview yesterday with Good e-Reader. “I was excited about our subscription distribution [to Scribd and Oyster], but this brings the excitement to a new level. We’ve been trying to crack the library market for the last couple of years. We know that libraries have access to hundreds of millions of readers but they don’t have massive budgets, we know that traditional publishers have been unfriendly to libraries, and we know that indie authors’ books are becoming some of the most popular books in the world. We have all these authors at Smashwords who are pro-library, and want to serve libraries.”

The monetization of content from Smashwords will work just like it does for any consumer. When a library purchases the title for inclusion in its catalog, it is treated as a sale, just as when that same library purchases a title from a Big Five publisher. The key difference, of course, is that Smashwords’ titles are on average far less cost prohibitive than traditionally published titles, making them a more enticing choice for libraries who want to provide their patrons with an abundance of content. Also, given the single-checkout system that OverDrive follows, the Buy button will be in place on the book page within the library’s catalog; if a patron chooses to put a hold on a title so he can check it out when it becomes available, he will have the option to buy the title directly from Smashwords instead of waiting.

This announcement follows closely on the heels of another major distribution agreement announced yesterday which will distribute the Smashwords catalog to Berlin-based txtr. While txtr’s market, much like Diesel, may not be one of the top players in the ebook market, as Coker pointed out those sales are sales that indie authors would not have made otherwise.

Smashwords, OverDrive Brings Indie Titles to Libraries is a post from: Good e-Reader

New Yahoo Movies Digital Magazine Unveiled


Yahoo has been rebranding all of their major properties with a new digital magazine layout. Yahoo Food and Yahoo Travel were two of the largest ones to launch this year and we can now add Yahoo Movies to the mix.

The new movie website was designed with a new responsive theme that will look great on computers, tablets or smartphones. The content is geared towards trailers, celebrity Q&As, live streaming of awards shows, image galleries, and industry news. Yahoo also promises an onslaught of original content by a team of editors that will write essays on the film industry.

Yahoo Movies also marks the first product launch under Josh Wolk, the former Entertainment Weekly senior editor recently brought on as executive editor of Yahoo Entertainment. Other recent editorial hires include a former "Page Six" editor to oversee Yahoo Travel, and Elle veteran Joe Zee as editor in chief for Yahoo Fashion.

I think the new magazine layout template Yahoo is using with Movies, Food and Travel is a solid step forward. Over the last ten years the Yahoo brand has been growing really stale and not feeling fresh or modern. With the advent of solid hires on the design and editorial side, things are looking fresh. This new digital magazine system is also the testbed for the new Yahoo ad units, that blend contextual adverts amidst the regular content.

New Yahoo Movies Digital Magazine Unveiled is a post from: Good e-Reader