Tuesday, June 3, 2014

eBooks to be a Billion Dollar Business in the UK by 2018


Digital books are on pace to outsell print in the United Kingdom by 2018, according to a new report. eBooks are poised to triple in sales in the next four years, going from £380m to £1 billion. Price-Waterhouse-Cooper also predicts that print books will decline by almost one third and account for a paltry £912 million in 2018.

UK residents are experiencing a golden age in reading. It is now possible to purchase a book at any time of the day and not be reliant in commuting to a physical bookstore. This has prompted companies like Pottermore to craft interactive narratives for children in addition to selling the digital books.

73 independent booksellers shut up shop in 2012 – more than one casualty for every week of the year – bringing the number left in the UK down to just 1,028. Most of these indie stores are all selling Kobo e-Readers and eBooks, as part of an agreement with the UK Booksellers Association. WH Smith and other major booksellers all have big tech areas, carrying a number of readers and tablets. Even grocery stores are getting into the game with Tesco recently releasing an Android app to buy/read books and also use their store points to get them for free.

Not everyone is bullish about the eBook revolution happening in the UK. Tim Waterstone, the founder of the Waterstones bookstore chain recently said "I think you read and hear more garbage about the strength of the ebook revolution than anything else I’ve known. The e-books have developed a share of the market, of course they have, but every indication – certainly from America – shows the share is already in decline. The indications are that it will do exactly the same in the UK."

Neilsen BookData presents some conflicting data that showed eBook sales declining four weeks in May and June 2013 fell by 26% from the same period the year before.

eBooks to be a Billion Dollar Business in the UK by 2018 is a post from: Good e-Reader

E-Ink Unveils 32 Inch Color e-Paper Screen

Apple CEO Tim Cook: How Does He Really Feel About Android?


Anybody who watched the keynote from WWDC 2014 yesterday has a pretty clear sense of how Tim Cook (and Apple) feels about Android. Of course, given that they are in direct competition with each other it should come as no surprise. Keeping in mind that it is Apple’s developer conference and it was Cook’s stage (and therefore he is entitled to make a certain number of anecdotal-style remarks), the question that emerges is: Was Cook right?

Some things Cook said were fact. According to sales figures, 130 million of Apple’s customers in the last 12-months were first-time buyers to the brand. Cook followed up this statistic by stating that: “Many of these customers were switchers from Android. They had bought an Android phone, by mistake, and then sought a better experience. And a better life. And decided to check out iPhone and iOS.” Truth? Probably for some of them. But how ‘many’ is ‘many’? Cook goes on to insist that half of the customers gained in China over the last 6 months were Android converts –but doesn’t mention how that assumption came to be, so it is difficult to know how believable it is.

Install bases are easier to compare accurately. Very few Android users (when compared to iOS) are using the latest versions of the operating system. This is due in large part to the fragmentation of the operating system and diversity in manufacturers. For many Android devices, the latest operating system isn’t even an option. Cook makes a solid point on the heels of this fact: it doesn’t matter how awesome the features are in the latest version of Android if hardly anybody gets to take advantage of them.

Malware is another easy hit for Cook to take against Android. It may be a little dramatic to borrow the quote from ZDNet author Adrian Kingsley-Hughes when he called his competitor a “toxic hellstew of vulnerabilities,” but it’s accurate to state that more malware and viruses exist in that environment than in iOS.

So was Cook right? It may be more accurate to say, Cook wasn’t wrong. Many advocates of Android will try to fight back with statements regarding there being more Android devices activated in the world than there are iOS devices –but does it matter if few of those are in the hands of enterprise users (who are arguably those upgrading regularly and spending money in the app marketplace)? More than deciding whether Cook came out victorious, I prefer to think of it as a ‘call to arms’ of sorts, with Apple encouraging Android to step up their game (because as is often said, competition motivates innovation).

Apple CEO Tim Cook: How Does He Really Feel About Android? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Video Review of Onyx Boox i63ML Newton

I’ve been running a lot of searches on YouTube lately for reviews of ebook readers that are unavailable here in the United States. It’s always interesting to see new devices in action even if I can’t get my hands on them personally. Today’s YouTube search brought up a lengthy video review of the Onyx Boox […]

Book Review: Sharky Marky and the Big Race

Verdict: 4 Stars

I first came across the creatives behind Sharky Marky and the Big Race at this year’s BookExpo America event. It’s a great thing when someone walks up, engages you in conversation, and then offers you a copy of a book. That’s exactly how publishing industry events are supposed to work. It happened a number of other times during the event, such as when Pam Jaffe from Avon handed me a new title to review, or Rick Riordan handed me a copy of one of his Percy Jackson titles that he so kindly offered to autograph. But no one else handed me anything quite like Sharky Marky.

The illustrations are engaging enough that a variety of age groups can enjoy the pictures; the same is true of gender, as this book is neither too far leaned towards boys or girls. It has a theme children of many ages and backgrounds can identify with, namely, facing down a difficult situation while others around you seem to be better, faster, or smarter. By sticking to what he knows, Sharky Marky (spoiler alert) ends up winning the race.

The only drawback were a few places where the rhyme scheme felt a little forced, such as the use of the word “dire” to complete the rhyme. That’s getting a little bit beyond the vocabulary level of the intended audience. In a few other places, like the countdown, the grammar intentionally slipped in order to fit the meter, and as an English teacher and a mom I didn’t care for that.

Overall, the book was fun, professionally made, and very high quality. It can easily keep younger readers’ interest, and other than some vocabulary or grammar concerns, it can easily become one of their first and favorite self-selected texts that can be completed on their own.

Book Review: Sharky Marky and the Big Race is a post from: Good e-Reader

Barnes and Noble Promises they Aren’t Abandoning Audiobook Business


Barnes and Noble recently sent out an email to their customers letting them know they have until June 30th before their audiobooks are disabled. The Nation’s largest bookseller has confirmed that they are suspending their relationship with Overdrive, who provided their audio content. Apparently B&N is not getting out of the audiobook business altogether, and instead is charting a new strategy.

In an exclusive statement to Good e-Reader, Mary Ellen Keating mentioned "Barnes & Noble is fully committed to the physical audio book business. We were not satisfied that the digital audio book customer experience met with our high standards, which is why we recently disabled it. And, we have plans to provide customers with a more well integrated digital audio experience at a future date yet to be determined. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and ask for their patience."

Barnes and Noble is primarily ditching their current audiobook partner because when customers buy them, they have to use the Overdrive Media Console App. This encourages customers to buy into a completely different ecosystem and apparently B&N realizes this.

It will be very interesting to see what Barnes and Noble intends to do with their audiobook ambitions. Overall, the audiobook industry is a growing global business. 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.

The most dominant content distribution platform for audiobooks currently is Amazon owned Audible. This company has the highest market penetration and has seen a 33% increase in sales in 2012. They have created over 26,000 audiobooks and adding close to 1,000 titles a month. Most of their success derives from their new technologies that allow readers a myriad of options. If you purchase both the audiobook and eBook you can have the book professionally narrated to you, as you are reading. Else, you can read a few chapters on your Kindle and pick up exactly where you left off on the audio edition. This type of synergy is fairly compelling for people who read at night and do things during the day. Matthew Thornton of Audible commented – "We’re seeing heavy growth among younger listeners, people in and getting out of college who are part of the emerging app culture."

Barnes and Noble Promises they Aren’t Abandoning Audiobook Business is a post from: Good e-Reader

Android vs. iOS – How Do They Compare Now?

Android vs iOS

Few battles throughout history have been as bloodied and brutal as the one fought between Android and iOS. Opinions are heated. Loyalties are fierce. As we look ahead to the release of iOS 8, armed with a fresh list of features and enhancements, let’s see how the two operating systems really compare.


When Apple released iOS 7, they started to rival the notifications system Android had since the start. With iOS 8, Apple has added in actionable notifications –allowing you to deal with notifications directly (something Google added in 2012). Apple ups the ante slightly by allowing actionable items in the drop-down notifications as well not just in the notifications summary screen); third-party Android apps can add this functionality but it isn’t equivalent ‘out of the box. Finally, the addition of widgets in iOS 8 is long-overdue given that Android has supported third-party widgets in notifications for years.

Result: Android wins. Android clearly had the superior notification system first and while Apple has caught up and added a few stock ‘extras’, they aren’t revolutionary enough to secure a win here.

File Sharing

The big news in file sharing from Apple is the iCloud Drive. It’s basically no different than Google Drive or Dropbox –but offers less storage at the free price-tag (though for DropBox to beat iCloud Drive, you do have to earn some additional GB from referring friends).

Result: Draw. While one could argue that there is no reason to use iCloud Drive when you could use Google Drive –the services themselves are equivalent enough that I don’t believe there is a clear winner.


Upgrades to Spotlight search means going beyond the device you are looking on, considering things like context and location. Results are diverse, meaningful and presented in an easy to review manner. Android has search capabilities, but they vary by device and aren’t typically as consolidated. Google Now offers all of the Spotlight functionality and more, but isn’t a part of the operating system the way Spotlight is.

Result: iOS wins. This is a tough one to evaluate, but tie native nature of Spotlight puts iOS ahead here.


Handoff means you can be working in nearly any app on your Mac or iOS device and as long as they are signed into the same iCloud account, you can move back and forth between them and keep doing whatever it was you were doing. Android offers some of this functionality, but not as elegantly and more centered on web-experiences like maintaining open tabs in a web browser.

Result: iOS wins. Android has no clear offering to compete with the elegance of Handoff.


Apple understands that our smartphones have an important role in our day-to-day photography. With built in editing (with more than basic features), sharing (effortlessly) and now offering time-lapse options in addition –it is hard for Android to compete (without invoking third-party apps).

Result: iOS wins. Android may be simpler to use in many aspects, but iOS is far more feature-rich out of the box.


It’s about time that Apple upgraded the keyboards in iOS, including giving us the ability to install third-party keyboards. Anybody who has used SwiftKey or Swype on an Android device knows how much more enjoyable it is to ‘type’ with.

Result: Android wins. Apple may be playing catch up, but that’s all they did (failing to innovate further than Android already has).


There is little doubt that OpenGL is a great graphics rendering tool, but Metal (new to iOS 8) is better if for no other reason than it is more efficient. Coupled with the diversity and quality of Android hardware, it’s difficult to create a gaming experience that is exceptional across all of their devices.

Result: iOS wins. Apple has been ahead of the curve against Android when it comes to mobile gaming and it continues to do so now.

There are lots of other odds and sods in the comparison game… Apple implemented Touch ID first, but Samsung extended it to third-party apps first. Apple has family sharing with parental controls while Android hasn’t fully addressed this inevitability. Messaging received a number of upgrades but Android doesn’t really have the same built-in messaging service to compete against. Similarly, the pairing of iOS to Mac OS is a definite benefit for brand-loyal users but with Android desktop not much of a reality for most people it isn’t relevant or comparable (yet).

The important thing to remember is that no matter which side of the fence you fall on, innovation is motivated by competition. It is in the best interest of everybody that these two operating systems continue to battle each other as they have.

Android vs. iOS – How Do They Compare Now? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Reading Rainbow Kickstarter Campaign Blows Past Expectations

Last week LeVar Burton launched a Kickstarter campaign to help make Reading Rainbow more accessible to more children by getting it onto the web and getting it into school classrooms for free. Reading Rainbow was a television series that aired on PBS from 1983 to 2006. It was hosted by LeVar Burton and the theme […]

Outdoor Readable “WhiteMagic” Displays Coming to Tablets

Japan Display has announced that they have developed new high resolution 7-inch WhiteMagic tablet displays that are designed to provide better readability outdoors in bright light and use less power than traditional LCD displays. WhiteMagic displays first debuted in 2012 on Sony's Xperia P smartphone, which uses a 4-inch screen. Japan Display also started mass-producing […]

Sync Your Music With Spotify For Offline Listening


Sometimes bad news can be the precursor to good news: a security breach last week (that put internal company data into the hands of somebody, somewhere) led to an update for Spotify on Android that now allows for your entire music library to be downloaded with a single button click, making it available for offline listening (as long as you are a premium subscriber).

Previous to this latest update, premium subscribers could only sync individual playlists in this manner. Downloaded content will be available for 30 days (at which time, you could just do it all again).

It goes without saying that this functionality is dependent on your download quality settings combined with the number of songs you possess (though this feature is strangely capped at a maximum of 3,333 songs) and the amount of available storage space on your device.

Sync Your Music With Spotify For Offline Listening is a post from: Good e-Reader

Google Play TV Finally Available In Canada

Google Play TVWhen it comes to streaming media, Canada is getting pretty used to having the ‘not so’ latest and greatest. This is why it is rather exciting news to learn that Google has (quietly) brought TV shows to Google Play for Canadians! As far as content goes, the Canadian store appears to have virtually everything that the US store does –perhaps even a few more titles that aren’t available down South.

Single episodes are available for $2.49-$3.49 each, while seasons of your favourite shows can always be purchased for $20-$40 per. Some older content is available at a discounted price, mimicking the good old bargain bins we used to be familiar with seeing in department stores.

With access to music, movies and television shows, the only Google Play store that Canada is still waiting on is Newsstand –Canadians cannot restore memberships from print subscriptions which is something available to Americans.

Google Play TV Finally Available In Canada is a post from: Good e-Reader

Librify Brings Back the Book Club with Virtual Capabilities

Two different companies met up with Good e-Reader at this year’s BookExpo with similar goals in mind: help their uses find more time to read and connect with other readers. The platforms, Shebooks and Librify, have very different and unique platforms and processes, but both serve to meet the needs of busy readers. While Shebooks accomplishes this goal through high-quality ebook-shorts written for and by women and are meant to be read in a small time frame, Librify is taking our busy schedules and helping us find time to connect socially around the content.

“We are launching our ebook retail platform and membership service targeting book clubs,” explained Librify co-founder and CEO Joanna Stone Herman in an interview with Good e-REader. “One of the things that excites me about what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to reach a very underserved market of book clubs and women who would like a book club-like experience. I know a lot women for whom book clubs are an important part of their life. People are really trying to find time to read.”

Stone Herman’s timing couldn’t be better. Surveys have shown that most people only read average of six books per year, and only four percent of the population read four or more books per month. Much of this behavior has nothing to do with book pricing or lack of discoverability for new titles–two issues that continue to plague the publishing industry–but have a lot to do with time. Book clubs give people some small measure of accountability, knowing that they need to finish the title to stay on task with the group; book clubs also help readers feel like they’re reading the “right” books and participating in the broader global culture around “in the know” titles.

It’s been said that we’re the Book of the Month club for the 21st century,” explained Stone Herman as she described the actual methods by which people use the membership platform. Book clubs can be actual real-life clubs that gather for periodic meetings but need a source to all purchase the same title, such as through Librify’s recently announced partnership with Target to sell ebooks. However, the service also makes it possible to host virtual book clubs for users who want to chat or meet up online/

“It’s however you want it. It could be the group of women who meet at someone’s house to drink wine and talk about a book, to everyone who went to a certain college and want to form a group online. Target’s picks will allow people to come on together and pick a book.”

Stone Herman spoke about future plans to work out a solid way to actually build virtual book clubs, but currently Librify offers a discussion platform that lets people discuss a book. At the same time, Librify is exploring ways to let the authors jump in and participate in the discussion with a book club’s members, and users have shown great interest in having that connection with the authors whose books they’re reading.

“The full book club experience is about people wanting to read the same book and get together to talk about it, and they want to do that together.”

Librify Brings Back the Book Club with Virtual Capabilities is a post from: Good e-Reader

Samsung Z Brings Tizen to Smartphones

Samsung-ZIt may have taken Samsung over 2 years to bring Tizen to market, but the manufacturer wasted no time in following up the launch with a smartphone powered by version 2.2.1 of their own operating system. Similar in specs to the S5 with features like download booster, ultra power-saving mode, heart-rate monitor, and fingerprint sensor, the Samsung Z is only marginally behind that flagship phone, boasting “a 4.8-inch 720p Super AMOLED display, 2.3GHZ quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage expandable via microSD, 8-megapixel camera, 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera, Bluetooth 4.0 and LTE”.

Tizen’s release last week prompted Samsung to make comments about their operating system having "optimal performance" and "improved memory management,” which was poking at Android –an interesting move given their past relationship.

The success of this phone will be closely watched. Because it is not Android, the device will not have access to the Google Play store –so users will have to take advantage of Samsung’s own app marketplace.

Samsung Z Brings Tizen to Smartphones is a post from: Good e-Reader

Reading Rainbow More Than Triples $1M Kickstarter Goal


Last week we heard about Reading Rainbow launching a Kickstarter campaign to bring literacy to all children, everywhere. The project aimed to raise $1 million dollars before the July 2, 2014 deadline –a goal some may have considered lofty. Today, with 29 days still to go, Reading Rainbow has more than tripled this amount and sits at over $3.3 million dollars (and climbing rapidly)… setting itself up to become the most successful Kickstarter campaign of all time (a title previously held by e-watch company Pebble Technology's with a grand total raised of $10,266,845).

This fundraising comes in addition to an already successful Reading Rainbow iOS app for the iPad –and while no Android app exists yet, LeVar Burton has stressed that the franchise needs to be on Android and made it clear that they will be expanding to include that platform.

Speaking of amazing things, has anybody noticed that LeVar Burton doesn’t ever seem to age?

Reading Rainbow More Than Triples $1M Kickstarter Goal is a post from: Good e-Reader

Rick Riordan Speaks to Good e-Reader about Kids’ Digital Literacy

It’s a widely held belief that kids and e-reading just don’t seem to mesh. Not only have studies shown that kids seem to prefer the experience of  print books, but further studies have demonstrated a decrease in reading comprehension when students consume content on tablets.

Before anyone blames the ebook itself, much of this failure of ebooks can be associated with the availability of other forms of entertainment on a tablet. Even for readers disciplined enough to fulfill their reading time requirement before heading over to play Candy Crush, studies have shown that the time spent engaging with the text is seen as more of a chore than an experience. Readers “flip” through the book without ever reaching an immersion level of engagement.

It’s tempting to think, “Who cares? Give the kid a ‘real’ book.”

Unfortunately, digital reading is quickly becoming a vital skill for the current generation of digital natives. The same students who are showing a decrease in reading comprehension through tablet-based content are the same ones who may reach college and find there are no print textbooks to be had.

Rick Riordan, bestselling author of the Percy Jackson series, the Kane Chronicles, and more, sat down with Good e-Reader at this year’s BookExpo event to talk about his newest project, one that very well may be the bridge that readers need to learn to interact with digital content in an engaging, choice-driven way.

“I think the beauty of the app is that it’s fluid and it’s open-ended. It can have as much content as you want it to have. You can add to it, so it can be a framework for the text of the books, as well as original content, and I think it gives the reader a sense of ownership over the story. They’re provided with choices and the character really becomes theirs instead of just being observers of what’s going on. That’s the way it connects with readers, and I hope it’s more immediate and interactive than you might get from a standard reading situation.”

Riordan obviously played a significant role in not just the content of the app itself, but in the design and the intention of the features themselves. This is a crucial departure for an author who’s used to thinking of simply crafting a story, but instead had to imagine the ways that readers would want to interact with the app.

“It really is interesting to me to think in kind of the second person, which is not my normal mode of creating, but I always have to think of what the reader is thinking and what choices they might enjoy. What was exciting to me was that there’s more of an intimacy between the writer and the reader when I’m writing something for the app as opposed to the novel.”

Unlike stand-alone apps that first began to appear with widespread tablet penetration, this app is meant to be more of an overall reader experience, as opposed to simply being a deeper look at one particular book or series. Users will make selections and decisions in different scenarios that will help shape the app for them.

“It’s a work in progress, and we don’t know. We’re sort of pushing the frontier here, and I’m not sure what we’ll find or what direction it will go in. But at the same time, that’s the great thing about it, we can push it in any direction that seems to make sense. As the readers interact with the app, the app changes. It’s not set in stone.”

Rick Riordan Speaks to Good e-Reader about Kids’ Digital Literacy is a post from: Good e-Reader

Apple’s iOS 8 Adds iBooks Sharing

Yesterday Apple announced the upcoming release of iOS 8, Apple’s latest operating system for mobile devices including the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. The updated software adds a host of new features. Among them are a couple of changes to iBooks, Apple’s proprietary ebook app. First, the iBooks app will now come preinstalled as part […]

School’s Out…What Are Your Kids Reading?

Now that school is out for most of the country, there’s a honeymoon period of sorts in which many kids don’t have to get up early and can watch as much TV as humanly possible. But somewhere along the way, parents look at their kids–whose bodies seem to have actually fused to the couch–and want them to spend a little time engaged in something else.

Summer reading programs offer incentives to readers, like the ones offered each year by Scholastic and Barnes and Noble. These programs offer live and virtual participation, as well as encourage print and digital reading for a wide variety of age groups and reading levels. Local libraries are often involved in either one of those two events, or in staging their own similar programs.

At this year’s BookExpo event, two companies were featuring their children’s ebook subscription services. FarFaria and Stories Alive both offer a platform for tablet-based content with engaging and purposeful bones features. In both cases, the enhancements to the text are not simply “bells and whistles” for the sake of piling on the technology. Both platforms offer read-aloud narration at different lower levels, along with text highlighting to bring the focus to the words. The stories also include the ability to download the content, including audio, for offline reading.

“We have a new interface called Stories Alive. We have 170 books, and we add one a week,” explained Umesh Shukla of Auryn. “This keeps the same notion of how to get the kids into the story, plus extras to make them keep reading.”

The functionality of the titles include little details for readers, such as the small calendar on the kitchen wall within the book Crazy Hair Day changes each time the reader opens it to reflect that real day and date; a blank page within the story is designed for the reader to draw a picture, and when they turn the page, their drawings are on the bulletin board at the back of the classroom. These easter eggs within each story are all designed with the purposeful intention of helping the reader engage with the content.

Incorporated games and features also give the kids reasons to keep turning the pages, but a built-in functionality prevents kids from simply flipping through the pages to get to the fun add-ons by requiring them to interact for a certain amount of time on each page before it changes.One of the exciting new functions of children’s app books from companies like these is the ability that lets parents purchase a title for a family tablet, while still establishing multiple readers of the book. That means different members of the household can find these features or unlock games without “spoiling” the rest of the book.

School’s Out…What Are Your Kids Reading? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Big Library Read is back!

Start reading the next book for OverDrive's global eBook club, Big Library Read, today! Laurien Berenson's A Pedigree to Die For is available to patrons of thousands of libraries around the world for the next two weeks at the same time without waitlists or holds.AvailableAsEbook-small

We're excited to introduce readers to Berenson's first title in her Melanie Travis series. These cozy mysteries are perfect for lovers of thrillers and dogs alike! A Pedigree to Die For will keep you on the edge of your seat as you discover a world of intrigue, foul play and deceit. Be sure to join the conversation on our Big Library Read Discussion board to share your thoughts on the title with readers around the world, and don't forget to use the hashtag #BigLibraryRead on Twitter to tell us what you think!

Next week we'll share a recorded video interview with the author so you can learn where her inspiration comes from as she writes these wonderful *tails*! We'd like to thank Kensington Publishing and Laurien Berenson for making this Big Library Read possible, and we can't wait for you to discover this wonderful title!

Enjoy this sample of A Pedigree to Die For and then go borrow it from your library's OverDrive website!

Welcome Craig!

Eagle-eyed followers of all things Pi will have noticed that Craig Richardson, Minecraft savant (here’s his free book on teaching with Minecraft, which should be required reading for all teachers – and here are some recipe cards he’s produced to get your kids started) and all-round lovely chap, has been popping up a lot in photos of the office on Twitter recently. Craig’s been hanging out here a lot, not least because he started a full-time role with the education team here at Pi Towers yesterday.

Craig Richardson

When asked what his outside interests were for the purposes of this blog post, Craig had a think and said “Raspberry Pi and Minecraft”.

Craig will be working on resources, outreach, Picademy, and, says Carrie Anne, “all the Minecraft things”. Welcome to Pi Towers, Craig! We’re really pleased you’ve been able to join us.