Monday, June 2, 2014

U.S. Ambassador Swears Oath on a Kindle


The new U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, Suzi LeVine took a novel approach to her swearing in ceremony. While Vice President Joe Biden administered the oath, Suzi had her trusty Kindle open to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which in 1920 guaranteed women the right to vote.

This is the first time ever that an e-reader was used in a swearing in ceremony for a public official. It will be interesting to see if this will start to catch on in the courtroom or other public appointments.

U.S. Ambassador Swears Oath on a Kindle is a post from: Good e-Reader

The 25-Cent Tour of Today’s Apple Keynote Announcements

WWDC 2014

I don’t care where your brand loyalties sit, there is one fact that cannot be disputed: nobody does anticipation like Apple. Even if you were living under a rock for the past fewweeks, I am sure you are aware that Apple’s Developer Conference (WWDC) began this week –kicked off by the now-legendary keynote by the top names at Apple. Speculation over the possible announcements has nearly become a sport in the IT-world, with nearly everybody hoping for something different. So what’s new in the Apple-universe? Allow me to give you the jist.

Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite)

Look and Feel – Aside from a new name, the latest Mac OS X release has a much more flat-looking,  iOS-styled theme (with Apple really liking the word ‘translucent’).

Notifications – Widgets and customizations galore, the notifications on Mac OS X finally behave a little more like they do on iOS (plus, they are integrated with your calendar).

Spotlight Search – More power, more results, faster.

iCloud Drive – Perhaps the most exciting thing Apple announced today: competition for DropBox (if they do it right). The iCloud Drive promises to synchronize all of your content across all of your devices.

Mail – Casual users of Mail probably won’t be that impressed or even really notice the changes here. Something called Markup will let you doodle in your attachments… which sounds more like a novelty than a value-added feature.

Safari – Apple’s signture browser got a little facelift, with some updates to tabbed browsing (that provide some confusing looking thumbnails you can flip through). This is one that will need a test-drive before I can offer a true opinion.

Continuity – Let me say this one again: CONTINUITY. Perhaps I should say it one more time with some emphasis: CONTINUITY! Not only does Airdrop now work between Mac OS X and iOS devices, you can move between devices and continue wth the same tasks… start an email on your Macbook and finish it up on your iPad. I couldn’t possibly be more excited by this, I only hope it works as seamlessly as it did in the demo.

iMessage – While the updates to iMessage technically belong under the Continuity headline, for those that use iMessage –this is a very exciting addition. Not only can you send iMessages to your contacts from your Mac (just like you can from your iPhone), now you can also send regular SMS content as well… so you dont have to do something different to reach the Android and Blackberry users in your contact list! (this pairing of your smartphone to computer will also allow for features like using it like a speakerphone, as an example).

iOS 8

Notifications – Not just revamped in Yosemite, notifications recieved a lot of love in the new release of iOS. To start with, they are interactive (so you can respond to a text message for instance, without having to leave the notifications screen). In addition, the lock screen is becoming the new home screen –with widgets and customizations a-plenty now available to developers.

Contacts – The updated interface gives convenient access to your most frequently used contacts. Very handy!

QuickType – If you thought Auto Correct could make a mess with single-word predictive texting, just wait until you see how QuickType will try to anticipate the rest of the words in the sentence you are typing. This will either be the greatest addition to texting, or the worst… it remains to be tested and seen.

iMessage – Anybody who has been held hostage inside of a ‘group text message chat’ will be delighted to know that you can now set yourself ‘Do Not Disturb’ and get yourself out! Also exciting is the ability to add voice messages in an iMessage –something that will come in very handy for those of you who want to send a longer ‘text’ without having to type it out.SSwift

Photos – Time lapse photography and new photo editing software add some pizazz to the same old photos on your iOS device.
Health – Consider this as your total health portal: whether you use it to track your blood pressure, activity, hydration, blood sugar, sleep patterns… and share them out (with your permission) to your doctors. It isn’t the wearable hardware most people were expecting and hoping for, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction (and likely a little scary for huge numbers of third-party apps making money like crazy right now selling this functionality in the app store).

Siri -Nice little updates for the famed Apple personal assistant include being accessible without having to use the home button and now built-in access to Shazam (for identifying amd the buying your favourite songs on the fly).

Odds and Sods

Extensions – These will make the most sense to developers, but they allow access to the guts and glory of iOS (think: third party keyboards like Swype).

Touch ID – Now available for developers to integrate into all apps –login with your fingerprint… the most secure thing you can get your hands on (sorry, pun intended).

Metal 3D Rendering Engine – All you need to know is that this means you can expect even better graphics quality on your iOS devices.
HomeKit – The first step toward home automation is this API that gives developers access to securely control all manner of smart home hardware.

Swift – Another ‘for developers only’ feature that means ‘better apps, faster’ for consumers. Speaking as a developer, this is exciting… trust me.

A lot of people are likely disappointed by the lack of hardware announcements (though the screenshots used during the presentation sure did look an awful lot like leaked images of the upcoming iPhone 6) –but this might be a very wise move on the part of Apple: bring the developer event back around to being a software event. With that said, I think Apple may be in a lot of trouble if there aren’t an exciting bunch of  hardware announcements in store for their next event (expected in the fall).

The 25-Cent Tour of Today’s Apple Keynote Announcements is a post from: Good e-Reader

Overdrive Inundates Libraries with 200,000 Horrendous Indie eBooks


Smashwords is a self-publishing service that allows authors to submit eBooks and list them for sale on Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and other major retailers. Smashwords has managed to convince the largest digital distributor Overdrive, to start offering 200,000 sub-par indie titles to all of their partners. This is a terrible move for the library buying community and is inspiration to start dealing with quality companies such as 3M or Axis 360.

Smashwords has successfully convinced Overdrive that there is value with their catalog of 300,000 eBooks, 200,000 of which are available to libraries. Smashwords compelling argument is that front list ebooks from Big 5 publishers can cost libraries $80, and even backlist ebooks can cost libraries $20-40. Smashwords titles will only cost libraries of $4.00, which sounds good on paper and economically feasible.

In reality 95% of all Smashwords titles have non-existent editing, poor formatting and abysmal cover art. The truth of the matter is that Smashwords does not have a curation system to vett the wheat from the chaff. They will publish anything and often hype the fact that everyone has a right to publish. Sure everyone CAN use the Smashwords system to publish books, but that doesn’t mean they have the right to be distributed. These sub-par indie titles are polluting a quality catalog of Overdrive and library patrons are going to be the ones to suffer.

Smashwords has managed to convince another large company that their catalog is valid and has meaning to readers. They were able to leverage the Library Direct system they developed in 2012 and distributed in a handful of libraries in the US. In reality, the Smashwords catalog is irrelevant and has no value for companies like Overdrive. Unknowing library buyers are going to think they are getting a deal with 100 romance titles for 1/4 the cost of big six titles, until readers start complaining, and they WILL complain.

Libraries are going to feel ripped off that they have bought titles that no one will read and if they do, will likely be very vocal about the poor writing quality and in the end, libraries will feel like they have wasted money. Trust me, they are wasting money with Smashwords, if you don’t believe me visit the main smashwords website and select 3 books at random, and let me know if they are any good. Even Mark Coker refuses to measure the quality of his service by doing this, which is a solid methodology to gauge the quality of a self-publishing website.

I would encourage all libraries to either suspend their relationship with Overdrive or not buy into the hype of self-published eBooks. It sounds like a fiscally responsible deal on paper, but the quality isn’t there anymore.

Overdrive Inundates Libraries with 200,000 Horrendous Indie eBooks is a post from: Good e-Reader

Radio – Hachette Amazon Drama, B&N Stops Audiobook Sales and BEA Wrapup


Welcome back to another installment of the most beloved podcast in digital publishing, the Good e-Reader Radio Show. Michael Kozlowski of Good e-Reader and Jeremy Greenfield of Digital Book World discuss the recent IDPF and Book Expo America conference, the ongoing battle between Amazon and Hachette, Barnes and Noble suspending audiobook sales and the store within a store concept for bookselling.

Do you have fond memories of the Reading Rainbow while growing up? The new Kickstarter campaign to bring it back in the digital form has just surpassed 3.3 million dollars and is on pace to be the most successful campaign in history. Jeremy and Michael also reminisce about Scholastic book fairs and the days of devouring books like our lives depended on it.

Radio – Hachette Amazon Drama, B&N Stops Audiobook Sales and BEA Wrapup is a post from: Good e-Reader

Barnes and Noble Will Stop Selling Audiobooks July 1st


Barnes and Noble has announced that they are bowing out of the audiobook industry starting July 1st 2014. The Nation’s largest bookseller is imploring customers to backup all of their old titles before they are gone for good.

Many people in the industry were very surprised to know that B&N even sold audiobooks. The company never issued press releases or acquired their own library of content. Instead, they relied on Overdrive to provide all of the audio editions for them. This made the process confusing to customers because they would have to use the Overdrive Media Console to listen to audio editions they purchased, making the entire process convoluted.

Barnes and Nobles strategy for selling digital audio editions could not be any different from Amazon owned Audible. Audible consistently acquires new titles and buys out defunct companies assets to bolster their own catalog.

The entire audiobook industry is currently worth around 1.6 billion dollars and that figure should climb further. The main reason? Audio book producers have been increasing their output. 13,255 titles came out in 2012, up from 4,602 in 2009.

Barnes and Noble Will Stop Selling Audiobooks July 1st is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon Offering Fire TV & Kindle Fire HDX Tablet Bundle

Amazon Fire TV KindleEverybody likes to get a good deal, which is why the bundle being offered by Amazon right now is especially attractive.  With that extra $249 in your pocket, you can own Amazon’s brand new Fire TV as well as a 7″ Kindle Fire HDX tablet: consider it the Android accessory pack for those of you who only have a smartphone so far (or a starter pack for those who may have iPhones).

The two products are a very natural pairing given how seamlessly they work together. Even beyond the Fire TV being able to be controlled from within an app on the tablet, use the X-Ray feature to do your research on the movie or TV show you are watching or Fling media (TV shows, movies, music) to your television.

It isn’t known for certain whether this bargain is due to poor sales of the recently launched Fire TV (from April, 2014) or a smart move towards gaining market share, but it is certainly good incentive for anybody who was on the fence as to whether or not to buy one.

Amazon Offering Fire TV & Kindle Fire HDX Tablet Bundle is a post from: Good e-Reader

Author Tools from This Year’s BEA

BookExpo America is the largest North American publishing event and it has grown to encompass nearly every aspect of the book industry. From dedicated book blogger events and author book signings to digital business conferences and platform launches, if it involves books in any way, it happens at BookExpo.

This year, Good e-Reader came across a number of platforms whose functions involve helping self-published authors with various aspects of their works. Some of these companies specialize in social sharing and book discovery, while others actually help authors incorporate enhanced features into their ebooks.

Booklikes is an international platform that basically functions like a dedicated Goodreads but with the added functionality of focusing on those book blogs. With more than 40,000 members who currently run active book blogs and a readership that correlates to that amount of traffic, this site is a great resource for authors looking to put their books in front of readers who will actively share that news from their blogs.

While crowdfunding/preorder site Pubslush has already made a name for itself in the backing community for being dedicated solely to book projects, the company was on hand exhibiting in the Startup Challenge alley to get the word out about the platform. Unlike typical crowdfunding sites that take projects of any nature, Pubslush not only is bookcentric, but also awards all funds raised to the project minus the operating expenses, unlike major platforms that require the proposal to reach the full amount of the fundraising goal or risk losing all of the funding.

Another exciting book crowdfunding site works somewhat differently than Pubslush, and that’s Pentian. Focusing on their US expansion after a highly successful international launch, the company lets authors crowdfund for the money needed to use Pentian’s in-house self-publishing team. While authors must publish through Pentian to use the crowdfunding feature, this platform has a lot to offer in terms of future book discovery; the financial backers who support a book’s campaign become a part of the royalty payments for the first three years of the book’s publication, meaning those people will presumably encourage book sales in order to benefit from the royalties.

As for the creation of the ebooks themselves, two exciting companies at the event were Booktrack and Beneath the Ink. Booktrack allows authors and readers to create musical scores that serve almost like a movie soundtrack within the book, playing ambient music while keeping up with the reader’s speed. Already studies have shown a greater enjoyment level with books that feature this musical engagement, as well as significantly improved reading comprehension scores from students who read with this feature enabled. Beneath the Ink gives authors the ability to add enhancements within their ebooks with nearly point-and-click functionality, meaning you don’t have to be a computer programmer to add images, text, videos, definitions, and more to a self-published ebook. This feature is especially helpful for books with lengthy casts of characters or odd names, such as those that are found in sci-fi or fantasy titles.

A number of other companies also exhibited their tech features that support ebooks, especially from indie authors. A full run-down of the companies is available from the BookExpo America website.

Author Tools from This Year’s BEA is a post from: Good e-Reader

Real-time orientation display with the MinIMU-9 v2

The MinIMU-9 v2 (catchy, no?) is a tiny inertial measurement unit (IMU). It has has three axes of gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer on board, which mean you can use it to sense the precise orientation of the device itself and, by extension, whatever it’s fixed to.

You’ll find IMUs in devices like model aeroplanes. This one talks to I²C, making it an ideal fit for the Raspberry Pi – all that was needed for this project was the IMU, a Pi and a few jumper cables.

IMU with Raspberry Pi

David Grayson has hooked it up to the Pi’s I²C bus and has built some software (available on GitHub) that uses the Raspberry Pi’s powerful 3D graphics to impose a visualisation process on the raw data in real time. This means that you can display on screen exactly what position the IMU is in, on the fly.

David’s software comes with a number of different modes, including gyro only and magnet only, which are useful for understanding how IMUs work, and also for troubleshooting any system you might build using one.

If you’re interested in getting acquainted with manipulating IMUs yourself, David has made a superbly detailed tutorial available alongside the source code itself on GitHub. Thanks David – it’s always a pleasure to see work that’s documented so well, especially when it’s accompanied by such tidy source code.

For those who’d like to see more of David’s work, he has a blog (inventively titled David Grayson’s Blog).

New and popular content for schools

So, apparently it's June already? Huh. Not sure how that happened. While May 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


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

*Some titles may have limited regional or platform availability.


Rachel Kray is a Collection Development Analyst at OverDrive.

OverDrive helps Edmonton Public Library win with non-English language titles

The Edmonton Public Library has more than doubled circulation of four of its largest non-English language eBook and audiobook collections since adopting OverDrive's multilingual user interface last fall.

With EPL's OverDrive-powered website now discoverable in French, Spanish, Russian and Chinese, checkouts for titles in these languages surged by 120 percent in the five months after the multilingual user interface was introduced in October.

"Making the interface available in other languages fits into our goals as an organization," said Sharon Karr, who leads EPL's collection management and access division.

Known as the "Gateway to the North" and serving as the province of Alberta's capital city, Edmonton is home to a strong concentration of French speakers. The new ability to browse EPL's digital collection in French corresponded with circulation of French language titles nearly tripling from November-March.

"We strive to break down barriers to these resources for our diverse community," Karr said.

EPL's implementation of the multilingual user interface came at a time when the organization was growing its already impressive collection of world language titles from OverDrive's selection of eBooks and audiobooks from more than 30 countries. Karr described a seamless experience.

"The process went very smoothly. We just requested the change via email, and OverDrive made it happen," she said.

Contact your OverDrive Account Specialist to learn more about how your library can add a multilingual user interface.


Video Review of Onyx Boox T68 (Italian)

Last month the Onyx Boox T68 ebook reader turned up in a brief hands-on video from the Hong Kong Electronics Fair. The video didn’t show much other than the specs for the device. Another video was posted a couple of weeks ago by an Italian ebook reader blog that shows more of the user interface […]