Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cliq: A Case With SuperPowers

cliqThere are millions of case options out there, though arguably so many more for iPhone than for any single Android device… but a case like Cliq is actually more than an accessory, it’s quite possibly a -reason- to get one of the phones they support. Currently a Kickstarter project waiting for full funding (approaching 50% of their $40,000 goal required by their June 18, 2014 deadline), Cliq is a touch sensitive case that “shortcuts almost anything on your phone from a dedicated camera button to full music control.”

Consider the potential of a case that adds 3 additional, customizable, button controls to your smartphone.

While the developers are quick to suggest the case could save you precious time (but putting frequently used features literally at the tip of your fingers), and love boasting that it requires no charging and is ergonomic, consumers should be excited by the possibilities –what features inside your phone do you wish there was a shortcut to? Want to call or send a pre-written text to anybody in your contact list? Done. Want to control music inside any app on your phone? Done.

It may be more accurate to describe Cliq as an accessory for your apps more than it is an accessory for your phone!

Assuming their funding goal is reached, the first round of cases is expected to ship in 7 colour options by August of this year.

Cliq: A Case With SuperPowers is a post from: Good e-Reader

MadeFire Signs a Deal with Seraphim, Archie Comics, Lion Forge and Arcana


MadeFire is the pioneer with Motion Comics and the company has signed some big partnerships with DC Comics, IDW, Dark Horse and Top Cow and their biggest titles Batman, Injustice, Transformers, My Little Pony, Hellboy and The Darkness. MadeFire is making it a priority to bring on big name publishers to its ecosystem and has announced a big new deal with Seraphim, Archie Comics, Lion Forge and Arcana. These partnerships will expand the growth of the Madefire Motion Books Marketplace within its free app and through the exclusive Motion Books network within the deviantART website. The truly revolutionary reading experience, powered by Madefire's Motion Book Tool, will now include famous comic titles such as Afterlife With Archie, Knight Rider, The Instrinsic and Clive Barker's Books Of Blood.

Designed for reading on a screen, Madefire has built an end-to-end publishing platform called Motion Books that immerse the reader in an interactive experience with sound, motion, and depth. Their web-reading partner is social network and creative giant deviantART, the largest creative community in the world and host to the exclusive Motion Book category on the web. Madefire Motion Books is a free comic app that delivers the most innovative reading experience for iOS devices as it pioneers the next chapter in storytelling; it has been 5-star rated since launch, and was awarded an App Store's "Best of 2012".

Recently Comixology was absorbed into Amazon and this makes MadeFire one of the largest companies left that are proudly indie. Madefire continues to take a digital first approach to storytelling, including assuring content is immediately available to people on device with in-app purchasing.

MadeFire Signs a Deal with Seraphim, Archie Comics, Lion Forge and Arcana is a post from: Good e-Reader

Canadian Airports Will Soon Allow Unrestricted Access to Your Electronics

airportFollowing the US FAA decision to let customers user electronic devices during “all phases of flight” last year, Canada’s Transport Minister has also ruled that Canadian airlines will soon allow the same unrestricted access for their clientele.

Calling the access unrestricted isn’t quite accurate, because all smartphones and cellular-enabled tablets will still need to be set in airplane mode during take-off (while also making sure you are at least pretending to pay attention to the safety demonstration) and landing. Every airline is responsible for making sure that their aircraft will not be affected by any of these devices and Canadian airlines, Air Canada and WestJet, have already responded saying that they are gearing up to implement these new regulations. Air Canada has also promised to roll out in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity.

These changes to the regulations make sense to me –I have often felt that if the cellular phone in my pocket had the power to mess with an aircraft to the point that the electronics were disrupted putting the people on board in danger, it would be a little ridiculous that they allow those devices on board at all.

Canadian Airports Will Soon Allow Unrestricted Access to Your Electronics is a post from: Good e-Reader

Coker: Publishers Are Disposable to Amazon

Smashwords‘ CEO and founder Mark Coker has written an in-depth look at the battle raging between Amazon and one of the Big Five publishers, Hachette Book Group. The battle over contract terms has seen Amazon raise the price of Hachette titles while directly offering consumers a cheaper alternative title, the out-of-stock notices that inform readers they’ll have to wait an indefinite amount of time before receiving those books, and seen the loss of Hachette titles’ pre-order buttons.

According to Coker, Amazon is operating within the confines of what it’s allowed to do, and more importantly, what it is inherently set up to do. The battle stems from agency pricing, which Hachette wants; this will give the publisher the power to determine the price of books and ebooks, eliminating Amazon’s ability to discount those titles.

The death grip of the fight, it seems, is that Amazon knows that if it allows Hachette to switch to an agency pricing model–which was at the center of the far-reaching ebook price fixing lawsuit between Apple and the Big Five publishers–that other publishers will quickly follow suit, stripping Amazon of much of its power as a discount retailer.

As Coker points out though, “The boldest option is for Hachette to play the nuclear card: they can withdraw all their books from Amazon. Hachette could direct readers to more publisher-friendly platforms and stores. Hachette could also make a more concerted effort to develop new channels of distribution. Curiously, neither Hachette nor any other major NY publisher has ever attempted to sell their books in the Smashwords ebook store, despite the fact that Smashwords pays up to 80% list. Publisher insistence on DRM is one of several factors that has locked them into Amazon and locked them out of new outlets. Most of the publishers are also refusing to work with the new ebook subscription services, or have treated libraries as second-class citizens, even though these two channels provide yet another healthy counterbalance to a single retailer’s dominance.

It’s uncertain if Hachette or other publishers could survive if they abandon Amazon. Would authors and literary agents continue to support them if their books didn’t reach Amazon?”

While it’s not apparent that any publisher could survive right now without Amazon given that publishers have not done nearly enough to build a direct-to-consumer option, there are other retailers. Publishers who chose to throw their weight to supporting other retailers and keeping afloat some of the long-standing retailers will potentially see greater options than a one-trick pony.Coker did expand on the ramifications for self-publishing. Considering the legitimate concerns that authors and agents will now have about selling projects to Hachette–and to any other publishers who decide to follow suit–and considering Coker’s point that publishers allowed this to happen by relying so heavily on inflated ebook margins while their authors only earn 25%, this fight could lead to a surge in traditionally published authors jumping ship for safer waters.

Coker: Publishers Are Disposable to Amazon is a post from: Good e-Reader

OverDrive to Showcase EPUB3, HTML5 Books at BEA

The International Digital Publishing Forum works at the forefront of digital publishing technology; the stand-alone Digital Book event, hosted in conjunction with BookExpo America, has now grown into a two-day event with a full slate of keynotes and breakout sessions on where technology is headed in the publishing industry.

When the IDPF was formed, OverDrive was there to help with its establishment. OverDrive’s long-standing history of digital content accessibility has evolved now with its 2014 showcase at the event, the highlighting of EPUB3 and HTML5 enhanced ebooks.

"Publishers can now take advantage of OverDrive's EPUB3 support to create enhanced eBooks using open standards that display children's picture books as the author and publisher intended, as well as to add interactive elements within the page to further engage the reader," said Alexis Petric-Black, OverDrive's Director of Publisher Services. "OverDrive Read's support of EPUB3 fixed layout, HTML5, and synchronized audio enables publishers to produce a single eBook title supported on any digital reading device with a modern browser."

One of OverDrive’s leading foundations has been the decision to be device compatible across operating systems and platforms, allowing libraries and their patrons to enjoy the most choice of anyone in the digital content sphere. OverDrive will feature demonstrations of the content, available for lending, at this year’s BookExpo event.

OverDrive to Showcase EPUB3, HTML5 Books at BEA is a post from: Good e-Reader

Hoopla Digital Adds New Digital Titles for Libraries

Long before digital content made its way into academic and public libraries, content providers supplied the book, movie, music, and periodical needs of these institutions with physical editions. Ahead of this year’s BookExpo event, one of the largest library media providers, Midwest Tape, has announced it will begin providing digital content to libraries through its hoopla digital platform.

"Since our launch last summer, hoopla digital has significantly expanded our library partnerships, patron reach and content deals. Our growth has included public library systems in major markets such as Toronto, Seattle, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. We're thrilled by the response to the service and excited to add eBooks to our offering," said hoopla digital founder and Midwest Tape Vice President, Jeff Jankowski.

In the case of hoopla, however, it is the individual cardholders who will access the content via the free app once the Netflix-style agreement is made with the partner library. This makes the content instantly downnloadable, with the rights holder compensated every time a title is downloaded.

Good e-Reader will be meeting with hoopla digital at the BookExpo American event this week in New York.

Hoopla Digital Adds New Digital Titles for Libraries is a post from: Good e-Reader

New Locked Down e-Reader Appeals to Schools and Businesses


Findaway World made waves a few weeks ago about their new NERD e-Reader that was embraced by the US Navy. The premise of this new device is a severely locked down reader that ships with a full library of books and has no WIFI internet connection and no way to copy the books. You can think of it as a dumb terminal that displays data only. Findaway fresh from the massive media blitz campaign is releasing the NERD to schools, companies and government.

The new e-Reader is called Lock and it will come bundled with 100 eBooks selected by the companies wanting to deploy them. It has no USB port, no internet access and is purely designed for reading content. Businesses can use Lock to curate and safely house proprietary information and documents. Lock can also be used by schools and public libraries interested in offering a mobile, manipulation-free, digital content hub. Lock's preloaded nature and "black box" design eliminates potential misuse and ensures that only approved digital content will be accessible. Lock's portability also allows easy sharing and distribution, making it the ideal choice for multi-user lending environments, whether in education, government or enterprise.

Lock customers can choose from thousands of eBook and audiobook titles spanning best-sellers to classics to professional development and Common Core. Findaway has deep relationships with the biggest publishers in the world to secure requested titles, including Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Penguin Random House, and Harpercollins.

Having an e-reader with the barebones of specs, months of battery life and a wide array of eBooks and audiobooks is a compelling value proposition.

New Locked Down e-Reader Appeals to Schools and Businesses is a post from: Good e-Reader

Samsung Galaxy S5

SamsungGalaxyS5Let me start this off by saying that I LOVE my Droid Maxx. I'm an Android user to my very core, and the Droid Maxx has been my favorite phone so far. Basically, my Maxx is the yardstick by which I will measure every new phone I get my hands on. But I'd be lying if I said that the last couple Samsung Galaxy phones weren’t tempting. So, of course I was going to check out the Samsung Galaxy S5 as soon as we got one in our hands here at OverDrive. So, let’s take a look at how the new Galaxy S5 measures up, shall we?

The display is 5.1 inches, making this one of the larger phones out there not quite big enough to be called a "phablet" (ugh, I hate that portmanteau). Under the hood fires a 2.5 GHz Quad core processor, 2 GB of memory, 16 or 32 GB of storage for apps or OverDrive titles (to use with the OverDrive app, of course), and it runs Android 4.4.2, affectionately dubbed Kitkat. This makes for a responsive device, able to open apps quickly and prevent lag. From the general specs, it's a very nice smart phone. What makes it even nicer are some of the additional bells and whistles like the fingerprint scanner, HD camera on the back, Kids Mode, and the Ultra Power Saving Mode. The only things I'm not fully sold on are the My Magazine section of the home screen (it seems like a pale imitation of Google's "Google Now" function), and the updated Touchwiz launcher, which seems to conceal all of the wonder of the "vanilla" version of Android with cutesy icons and bright colors.

My final verdict here is that if I had the chance to do it again, I'd probably have a hard time deciding between my Droid Maxx and the Galaxy S5. The Galaxy S5 is a little pocket-sized beast and boasts about as much power as any other high-end smart phone. I'd just stick a different launcher on it to get around Touchwiz. I'd say this phone measures up.

WattPad Expands Exterior Publishing Ambitions


WattPad has started to transcend their own digital publishing platform and has started to distribute their books through numerous exterior sources. The Canadian based company took two of their most popular titles in early May and made them available through Amazon, Kobo and iBooks. Today, WattPad is taking one of their most popular Series and distributing them in print and digitally though Gallery Press.

Gallery Books will publish the Wattpad phenomenon After as a New Adult series, in both eBook and print editions. Originally serialized on Wattpad, the world's largest community of readers and writers, the first book in the After series is scheduled to publish in Fall 2014; the second and third books will be published in early 2015.

The three part After series has been read almost 800 million times since it started to be serialized on WattPad. As the book is being written, chapter by chapter, readers weigh in on the plot, characters and what direction they want the book to take. Authors often take the feedback to better themselves as an author and a good book will have a copious amount of reads due to people continuing to hunt around for an update.

After, written by Anna Todd, is one of the most talked about stories on the internet and has become an online phenomenon with more than 800 million reads of the three-part Wattpad series. Written serially with daily updates to meet reader demand, After became Wattpad's most shared story of 2013. In addition to the massive popularity of After on Wattpad, the story regularly trends on other social networks, including Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. The success also caught the attention of United Talent Agency, which is now handling the film and television representation of After. The original fanfiction will remain on Wattpad.

WattPad Expands Exterior Publishing Ambitions is a post from: Good e-Reader

Comixology Giving Away 20 Free Digital Comics


Comixology has unveiled their summer reading program where they are giving away 20 assorted comics and graphic novels away for free. All you have to do is visit their Tumblr  account to download your daily free comics. You only have 24 hours to grab it, so check back often.  You obviously need a Comixology account and to download the free content you are basically “buying” it. Since its free, you don’t need to spend any money, but you are going through the shopping card system.

Comixology Giving Away 20 Free Digital Comics is a post from: Good e-Reader

Onyx Boox T76SML Nefertiti Has 6.8″ E Ink Screen and Android 4.0

A new ebook reader from Onyx is now available on the Russian market, the Onyx Boox T76SML Nefertiti. The name may be a bit confusing (what does 76 have to do with anything) but the device has some interesting specs, no doubt. The T76SML Nefertiti appears to be a trimmed-down version of the newly-revealed Onyx […]

New Author Earnings Report Examines Revenue of Startup Authors

Self-published author and indie author advocate Hugh Howey turned the publishing industry on its head, not with his beat-the-odds success story that made him a household name, but for his willingness to throw open the vault of secrecy surrounding what authors of every ilk actually earn. Considered a taboo subject to the point that discussing exact book sales actually violates the terms of service of a number of ebook distribution platforms, Howey and the team at Author Earnings has been providing information that is as genuine as possible in order to help authors understand their own industry better.

A new report has been released that takes a look at how long-standing authors’ works are faring against debut authors’ titles, and the information it presents is somewhat staggering.

“We began looking more deeply at authors from two different camps: those who debuted prior to the explosion of self-publishing and those who debuted after. Authors getting their start today will of course be joining the latter camp. And we believe those authors will want to know the following:

• Big-5 publishers are massively reliant on their most established authors to the tune of 63% of their e-book revenue.

• Roughly 46% of traditional publishing's fiction dollars are coming from e-books.

• Very few authors who debut with major publishers make enough money to earn a living—and modern advances don't cover the difference.

• In absolute numbers, more self-published authors are earning a living wage today than Big-5 authors.

• When comparing debut authors who have equal time on the market, the difference between self-published and Big-5 authors is even greater.”

The most recent report compares what authors need to know about ebook sales in the traditional industry, to those sales among self-published authors. While print sales are an important revenue source for publishers and traditional authors, indie authors and debut traditional authors are showing an even bigger lag behind their ebook sales in terms of income.

“Total revenue from e-books is already 29% at Simon & Schuster and 34% of overall trade revenue for Hachette (40% in the UK for Hachette), making 32% a fair industry-wide estimate for the portion of trade-publishing revenue from e-books. But what does that 32% really mean for the author with a manuscript in-hand and a decision to make? It's important for authors to understand that publisher earnings should not factor into their decision on how to publish. What we should consider foremost is how much of our earnings have gone digital. This is a difficult question to answer, but we believe we're in a position to give a rough estimate.”

Decision making for authors who are interested in either route to publication is a daunting concept, especially since knowing that a traditional deal comes with the prestige factor of being signed, but that there are absolutely no guarantees as to how a book will fare in a crowded marketplace. Add to that the fact that even traditional publishers don’t spend nearly the advertising budget on debut authors that they put into their established breadwinners, and the decision becomes even harder.

“If the Big 5 hadn't signed a new author since 2009, and simply released new works from their long-established authors, they would still be making 63% of the e-book revenue that they are making today. Ownership of backlist and long-tenured authors is quite clearly big publishing's most powerful commodity. This goes a long way toward explaining ever more restrictive reversion and non-compete clauses in publishing contracts. It also lends credence to rumors that some top-name authors are already receiving ebook royalties higher than 25% of net. Publishers rely heavily on these established authors and may be willing to violate their own most favored nation clauses in an attempt to retain them.”

The full details of the report and a breakdown of all of the analyses can be found HERE.

New Author Earnings Report Examines Revenue of Startup Authors is a post from: Good e-Reader

Aldiko Acquired by FeedBooks, Aldiko iPad and iPhone Apps on the Way

Today the folks at Feedbooks made an official announcement, declaring the acquisition of Aldiko, one of the leading ePub reading apps for Android tablets and phones. This is a natural fit, of course, since Feedbooks has a catalog of over 800,000 ePub ebooks, both free and paid, and have been in the ebook industry since […]

Groups Advocate for Fair-Use Access to Orphaned Works

Two organizations, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and non-profit policy advocates Public Knowledge, have submitted their recommendations to the US Copyright Office to establish fair use guidelines for so-called orphan works, or any work whose rights holders cannot be identified through extensive means.

Orphan works are those whose rights holders cannot be located, meaning the works are still restricted for use by academic institutions, authors, and even the public because licensing is impossible to secure. Current copyright law hasn’t met the needs of the public on these works, and essentially assumes that the rights holders–if they were to be located–would not allow their works to be used.

“As we explain, the best way to facilitate that access is to make sure the public can rely on a robust fair use doctrine. The Copyright Office can help by issuing a report that explains the many reasons why uses of orphan works are likely to be fair ones. That solution is far preferable to some of the other proposals, such as the collective licensing option that has met widespread opposition,” explained the EFF on this issue.

After a productive roundtable discussion on the issue, EFF and Public Knowledge drafted a five-page breakdown of the issue and their suggestions for a resolution that does not involve simply extending some version of collective licensing. The document, available HERE, outlines not only the benefits to establishing copyright guidelines for these estimated millions of writings, recordings, and photographs whose rights holders are currently unlocated, but also points out some faulty assumptions that current mandate the use of these works. This document was created at the request of the US Copyright Office, who has asked for more information and public comments on the issue before working to establish protocols for these situations.

Groups Advocate for Fair-Use Access to Orphaned Works is a post from: Good e-Reader

Smashwords Wins Inaugural Self-Publishing Service Award from ALLi

The Alliance of Independent Authors is an advocacy organization that works to further self-publishing in the book industry. One of the many ways the group works for authors is in providing up-to-date and continuous information as resources for authors. As part of its Choosing a Self-Publishing Service 2014 guide, Alli examined the opportunities authors have for assistance in publishing their works, and has awarded ebook distributor and self-publishing platform Smashwords its first ever Self-Publishing Service Award.

"When doing this job, it can sometimes seem as if the entire industry is rife with charlatans, and so it's nice to find companies like Smashwords whose goals are in total sync with authors. Their philosophy is simple and their motivation is clear. In order for them to make money, authors have to make money. They don't charge for anything except selling your book… What they do…what they are driven by…is the same thing that drives you, as an author. Their goal is to deliver the best product and negotiate the most favorable deal for authors," explained one of Alli’s industry watchdogs, Giacomo Giammatteo, in a blog post.

Orna Ross, Alli’s founder, added, “I'd like to personally congratulate Mark Coker and the Smashwords team and I look forward to presenting this award to Mark at Book Expo America next week.This award is an acknowledgement of excellent service to writers and will be given annually, its key criterion being that the service puts the needs of authors and readers first, unfortunately a missing component for too many services in the sector.”

Smashwords has arguably been one of the largest driving forces in the current state of indie authorship. By establishing distribution deals with not only all of the major ebook retailers and a host of often overlooked, lesser known retail platforms, Smashwords has also inked distribution deals with Scrib, Oyster, and OverDrive, giving indie authors the chance to put their works in subscription-based and public library lending opportunities.

Mark Coker, CEO and founder of Smashwords, will be presented with this award on Friday, May 30th, at the BookExpo Author Hub in New York.

Smashwords Wins Inaugural Self-Publishing Service Award from ALLi is a post from: Good e-Reader

BookCon Aims to Connect Readers Directly with Publishers

Photo courtesy of screencrush.com

Photo courtesy of screencrush.com

The publishing industry has put forth a focused effort in the last few years to try to engage directly with readers in order to not have to rely on major retailers to sell their content. So far, those efforts have lagged, largely due to the effort already involved in book discovery. Finding great new reads is already a chore for consumers, but efforts such as having publisher websites to sell their content directly have failed because readers don’t automatically connect the publisher with the book. To be fair, readers often struggle to come up with the exact title or author name of a new book generating buzz, so expecting them to remember the publisher as well might be asking a lot.

But at this year’s BookExpo America event, the largest book industry event in North America, publishers will be working to engage directly with their target audiences through an incorporated one-day event, BookCon. Logistically handled by the same company that hosts ComicCons around the country, BookCon is an attempt to generate branded interest in publishers at the consumer level.

“Taking place in New York City—the publishing and cultural capital of the world—BookCon is the event where storytelling and pop culture collide. Consumers and brands will experience the origin of the story in all its forms by interacting with the authors, publishers, celebrities and creators of content that influence everything we read, hear and see. BookCon is an immersive experience that features interactive, forward thinking content including Q+A's with the hottest talent, autographing sessions, storytelling podcasts, special screenings, literary quiz shows and so much more. BookCon is the ultimate celebration of books, where your favorite stories come to life.”

Billing itself as this collision of books and fandom means Javits Center is already in preparation for an interesting and lively day. Coinciding with the one-day large-scale self-publishing event uPublishU, the venue is expected to be overrun with people who simply love books. This love affair with reading has led to the event organizers creating a website specifically for BookCon, found HERE, but which includes a very interesting list of forbidden items:

“The following items are forbidden at BookCon:

Functional firearms (including air soft guns, BB guns, cap guns, paintball guns and pellet guns)
Realistic replica firearms (including reproduction, fake or toy guns that can be confused for functional firearms)
Functional projectile weapons (including blow guns, crossbows, long bows, silly string, slingshots, water balloons and water guns)
Sharpened metal-bladed weapons (including axes, daggers, hatches, knives, kunai, shuriken, swords, sword canes and switch blades)
Explosives (including firecrackers and fireworks)
Chemical weapons (including mace and pepper spray)
Blunt weapons (including brass knuckles, clubs and nunchaku)
Hard prop weapons (including props made of metal, fiberglass and glass)
Instruments that cause excessive noise levels like vuvuzelas, grenade whistles and grenade horns
Aerosol mustard”

With a list like that, expect it to be a real party. Hopefully, events like this will serve their intended purpose of helping readers feel more connected to the developers of their favorite content.

BookCon Aims to Connect Readers Directly with Publishers is a post from: Good e-Reader