Friday, May 30, 2014

Hachette Launches Store Within a Store Concept at Booksamillion


Booksamillion is one of the last bookstore chains to be operating in the US and is the de facto number two, next to Barnes and Noble. The bookseller has inked a new deal with Hachette to pioneer a new online store within a store concept. Hardcover and softcover books are available to be purchased and customers can save up to 40% on new titles.

A store within a store concept is a rather new endeavor with an established bookstore chain peddling Hachette titles. Why is this a big deal? Well Hachette and Amazon have been locked in a contract dispute that has seen pre-orders being disabled and five week shipping on most titles. Hachette is obviously looking to diversify away from exclusively relying on Amazon to generate 75% of their digital purchases.

The deal with Booksamillion goes beyond just having a dedicated part of their website facilitating book discovery, sales and shipping. As part of the agreement Booksamillion will be promoting discounts and new titles with press releases and social media.

Readers will benefit from saving 30% across the board on pre-order titles and the vast majority of Hachette backlist selection. In some cases discounts on hardcover editions are 40% off, giving customers the ability to buy them cheaper than Amazon.

Hachette Launches Store Within a Store Concept at Booksamillion is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kindle Cloud Reader Goes Global

Kindle Cloud ReaderWhen we first saw the Kindle Cloud Reader, it was clear that it would be something special. Built in response to Apple charging 30% on all titles purchased using their app, the Kindle Cloud Reader allows you to purchase e-books and store them in the cloud for easy syncing with any of your devices with an Internet web browser. With a rather quiet launch, this browser-based reading app is now compatible with local Kindle stores worldwide!

Unfortunately, Kindle Cloud Reader still doesn’t offer support for personal documents.

Cloud-based reading apps are still in their infancy, and most consider them a back-up method of reading (as opposed to the native apps on every device)… But for those frequently on the move or using a large number of devices, a cloud reader gives them an option for consistency of interface and ease of use.

Kindle Cloud Reader Goes Global is a post from: Good e-Reader

Dragon Quest VIII Now Available for Android

Dragon Quest VIIIThe Dragon Quest franchise has been described as that of a cultural icon (in Japan, particularly in the gaming world). The latest entry, described as having the typical “hero gets to save the kingdom and the princess from a great evil” style plot, is now [finally] available for Android!

As expected, the graphics quality is amazing and the game-play feels more like it would on a console rather than a mobile platform. Less expected is that this 8th-installment of the Dragon Quest series is designed to be played with a single hand and in portrait mode.

Luckily the followers of the series are a dedicated bunch because the price-tag is a hefty one for a mobile app, with a Canadian price tag of nearly $30. Thankfully this is all-inclusive and you do not need to worry about making a bunch of in-app purchases to further drive up the cost.

Dragon Quest VIII Now Available for Android is a post from: Good e-Reader


Back in early March, I posted comic #1337, Hack, about a wayward spacecraft. ISEE-3/ICE was returning to fly past Earth after many decades of wandering through space. It was still operational, and could potentially be sent on a new mission, but NASA no longer had the equipment to talk to it—and announced that reconstructing the equipment would be too difficult and expensive.

ISEE-3 is just a machine, but it’s a machine we sent on an incredible journey; to have it return home to find our door closed seemed sad to me. In my comic, I imagined a group of internet space enthusiasts banding together to find a way to take control of the probe—although I figured this was just a hopeful fantasy.

I wasn’t the only one who liked the idea of “rescuing” ISEE-3. In April, Dennis Wingo and Keith Cowling put up a crowdfunding project on RocketHub to try to learn how the lost communications systems worked, reconstruct working versions of them, obtain use of a powerful enough antenna, and commandeer the spacecraft. It seemed like an awfully long shot, but I contributed anyway.

Well, yesterday, Cowling and his team announced, from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, that they are now in command of the ISEE-3 spacecraft.

Congratulations to the team, and good luck with your new spaceship! Watch out for hackers.

OverDrive Challenge last chance!

Saturday May 31 is the last day to register for June's OverDrive Challenge! Join the many public library partners from across the globe that have already signed up and are ready for the challenge. There's no risk to you to participate – in fact, just for registering, you are automatically entered to win a Google Nexus tablet!

The OverDrive Challenge for the month of June is to increase your digital library circulation to beat your best month on record. If you can increase circulation in June by 25% or 50% from your best month, you're a winner! If you reach these goals in June, your library will receive a prize of content credit or an exciting service enhancement of a Kids'/Teens' eReading Room (25%) or an OverDrive Media Station (50%). The library that increases their circulation the most out of everyone participating will receive a Gadget Jackpot, full of devices, content credit and more. Read more about the prizes and make sure to check out the official rules for more details about eligibility.

This is an opportunity for you to find creative and innovative ways to spread the word about your digital collection to your community and find what works best for you. Every library is different and we're looking forward to seeing the many ways our partners are generating awareness about their eBooks, digital audiobooks, streaming video and music. We'd love for the OverDrive Challenge to be a catalyst for our partners to set more individual goals and see circulation growth month to month through promotion, education and collection development.

For a few tips, click here to check out some suggestions about how to bring in new users, build your collection and jump into social media and remember, you always have access to the Partner Portal for marketing and training resources!

Click here to fill out an entry formThe deadline for entry is Saturday May 31.

Read full contest details and rules for more information.


Amazon Still Selling Kindle DX International Version for $199

Okay, so this is kind of odd. Amazon recently stopped selling the Kindle DX (for the second time) and since then the device has only been available used, and at majorly inflated prices. But if you know just where to look you can still find the Kindle DX for sale new on Amazon for the […]

The Hugh Howey Booktrack Competition Open to Entries

Technology and art are blending in two exciting new contests, hosted by Booktrack with sponsorship from Wattpad, Writer’s Digest, and Indaba Music. Booktrack, a music overlay platform that engages readers by allowing creators to add ambiance-style music of their choosing over the text so that music plays as they read, is holding two contests around Hugh Howey’s work, Half Way Home.

The first is a contest for fan fiction writers, who will craft their own original take on the structure, characters, setting, or more, before adding their own immersive soundtrack to accompany the work. Sponsored by Wattpad and Writer’s Digest, the winner will receive $5,000 and editorial feedback on the submission by Hugh Howey.

The second concurrent contest is a soundtrack competition which invites participants to use the Booktrack Studio platform to build their own soundtracks to accompany one chapter of Howey’s work. The winner of that competition will win $5,000 and the chance to create the full sound track to accompany Howey’s novel The Hurricane.

In order to get a feel for the competition, all users are invited to enjoy part one of Howey’s work Sand for free to experience an immersive music-based reading opportunity. For details on both competitions and to enter, visit

Booktrack has already encouraged a strong user base, particularly in classrooms where teachers can craft their own isolated bookshelves for their students to use; moreover, their students can also create their own soundtracks to accompany their writings, leading to cross-curricular teaching units which combine English, music, history, and other subjects. Studies have already shown that reading comprehension and engagement with the text increased dramatically when students were allowed to use Booktrack, and opportunities for special education students are already in place.

The Hugh Howey Booktrack Competition Open to Entries is a post from: Good e-Reader

Raspberry Pi projects at the Maker Faire Bay Area

Recently a number of us were lucky enough to fly over to the Bay Area Maker Faire to represent Raspberry Pi at the event. For those who haven’t managed to make it to one before, these are festivals on a grand scale of all things craft, electronics, tech, and general making with the Bay Area Maker Faire being one of the largest. It had quadcopter fighting, a fire breathing metal octopus (yes, really), cupcake cars, robotics and cool projects from every corner of the maker community. Clive, Carrie Anne, myself, and the folks from Pimoroni spent a lot of time at the stand talking to Raspberry Pi fans one on one though in this post we’re highlighting some of the awesome Pi-based projects we managed to see on our visit. Our stand proved very popular not least because of the super fashionable Raspberry Pi branded tote bags and tradable resource cards we brought along to give out.

The calm before the storm

The calm before the storm

For a taste of what a Maker Faire is like, look no further than Carrie Anne’s montage for Geek Gurl Diaries:

One of my personal favourite projects was Mugbot, a social robotics creation from Seita Koike at Tokyo City University. It’s amazing how emotive this little fellow can be with just a few servos and some LEDs to express itself. It quite convincingly pulls off sad, happy, and angry among other emotions.

The translucent body represents imperfection as a humanoid

The translucent body represents imperfection as a humanoid

Another exciting project was the Argus geodesic 3D scanner by Shannon Hoover. This is a dome which features 35 Raspberry Pi, using a Raspberry Pi and a Pi camera on each hub along with a custom board for LED lighting. Argus is used to take a picture of someone from all angles which can then be stitched into a full 3D model. You can see it in action in Carrie Anne’s montage. Right now the metal bars need to be bent, though the project creator is looking at using custom hubs (either 3d printed or eventually injection moulded) so that standard low cost metal tubes can be used.

Argus Scanner

1 of 28 images taken simultaneously by Argus

Although Raspberry Pi was created with educational goals, it always pleases us to see it used as a prototyping platform or embedded in commercial products. One such project was Cultivar, which uses a Raspberry Pi, a high quality moisture sensor (capacitive as opposed to resistive), a USB WiFi dongle, a solenoid, and a whole bunch of neat software to enable your to observe and automate plant irrigation through a pretty web UI. The project aims to offer intelligent algorithms for water control to, for instance, give different amounts of water at different stages in the plant’s lifecycle while also taking environmental conditions into account.

Cultivar's spindly spider-like legs may be problematic for arachnophobes

Cultivar’s spindly spider-like legs may be problematic for arachnophobes

We were pleased to see such a large number of young makers at the event (in fact, there was a whole hall dedicated just to Young Makers and their projects). We met some inspiring young people there – I’m tempted to pick up electric guitar playing just so I can use QV’s modular guitar design. Julian, Zach, Will, Cameran, Arjun, Mark and Dylan from Pleasanton, California told me all about their ‘Robot Pi’ project which consists of a Raspberry Pi-powered robot, the maze they had constructed, and a Python-based web server which allows you to control the robot through the maze and view the maze from the perspective of the robot’s camera. In the picture below the robot is tethered to its remote, though this is just as the team found there was too much interference in this electrically noisy environment. The Robot Pi team are a bunch of friends who wanted to pursue electronics in their free time, and were able to put on their stand thanks to a successful crowdfunding effort.

RobotPi navigates its maze

RobotPi navigates its maze

Another young maker project we really enjoyed was the Cootie Catcher Choir by Zander Roe and Brian Roe pictured below. Carrie Anne interviewed Zander about his work, who explained to us how he uses an Adafruit 16-channel servo driver breakout board to drive the servos connected to gears at the back of the cootie catcher wall. It may not be clear from the pictures, but it works by pressing a button on the project’s web interface to cause one of the mouths to open and emit a note of a certain pitch.

Cootie Choir

Cootie Catcher Choir by Zander Roe

We were excited to see so many awesome projects using the Raspberry Pi in some way at the Maker Faire and really enjoyed speaking to all the makers about their work. I know there are many, many more we either didn’t see or didn’t manage to write about. If you know of any, please leave a note in the comments.

Transform your Pi

Transform your Raspberry Pi