Friday, June 13, 2014

Billy Crystal Wins Big at the Audie Awards


The Audie awards is an annual gala produced by the Audio Publishers Association. They showcase the very best in audiobook production and in a similar vein as the Oscars. This year, Billy Crystal took home the biggest honor with Audiobook of the Year.

Crystal narrated his 2013 memoir, "Still Foolin' 'Em." He also won awards in the humor category and best narration by an author. He was able to draw his established fanbase to an often neglected medium in the publishing industry. "Crystal pulled out all the stops to draw in fans and to create new ones with a clever mélange of audiobook-specific print, radio, TV, social media and store appearances."

Over 30 different wards were given out during the event and some of the most notable ones include; The Donna Tartt Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Goldfinch, won the Literary Fiction prize, and the audiobook's narrator, David Pittu, also won the prize for Best Solo-Narration-Male.

The award for "multi voiced performance" went to World War Z: The Complete Edition, which includes performances by the author, Max Brooks, but also Martin Scorsese, Alfred Molina,Common, Nathan Fillion and Simon Pegg. This book sold a copious amount of copies when the movie first hit theatres.

Malcolm Gladwell, who recorded the audio version of his David and Goliath, won the award for nonfiction and Stephen King won the Fiction prize for Doctor Sleep a sequel to The Shining.

The audiobook industry is currently worth around 2 billion dollars and the vast majority of titles are produced and sold by Amazon. Audible, their main audiobook unit currently is the exclusive distributer to iTunes.

Billy Crystal Wins Big at the Audie Awards is a post from: Good e-Reader

YouTube Addresses Demand for 1080p Streaming on Android

It appears that YouTube has finally succumbed to the “whining heard ’round the world” and started implementing support for true HD streaming in 1080p and 480p. The option to increase resolution is done on the server-side, so just make sure that you have the latest version of the YouTube app and keep your eyes peeled for when the upgrade has been rolled out to your account.

Changing resolutions within the app is simple: while watching a video, tap on the three-dot overflow menu that appears in the top right, select the gear icon and then choose your resolution.

Remember that in order to stream in HD, the content you are watching has to be available in that resolution. You can download Youtube for Android from the Good e-Reader App Store.

YouTube Addresses Demand for 1080p Streaming on Android is a post from: Good e-Reader

Marvel Dangles J.A.R.V.I.S. In Front Of Mobile Users


Iron Man has a way with women, plenty of money, all of the coolest toys…but any fan of Marvel or the Avengers will tell you that the coolest thing he possesses is J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just a Rather Very Intelligent System). If you have ever longed for the kind of home computer that could give you advice while caring for every automated system in your home, it may be a reality that is on the horizon. Marvel has applied to register Jarvis as a name for a product that could be: computer software or a mobile app that behaves as a voice-activated digital assistant.

If you happen to use an iOS device, you may already have a taste of J.A.R.V.I.S. in your hands with the Marvel Iron Man 3 app –interacting with him using voice commands that will create customized alarm clocks, download ringtones, check the weather or post to Facebook. Unfortunately, inside this app, J.A.R.V.I.S. behaves less like Siri on serious steroids and more like a marketing gimmick.

So what does Marvel have in store? Aside from having the coolest foundation concept for a digital assistant, they may be watching the rapidly growing trend toward total home automation. In iOS 8, Apple has added functionality that lets you summon Siri with the phrase: “Hey, Siri!” –cool to be sure, but it wouldn’t compare to being greeted by J.A.R.V.I.S. saying: “Welcome home, maam… your body temperature suggests I should increase the ambient room temperature by 2 degrees and brew a pot of dark roast.” (hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?)

While it may seem a little far-fetched, Marvel may not think so –when you consider smartphones full of heart-rate monitors and schedules and emails and access to the Internet (not to mention the ability for communication between other external devices throughout your home), the concept of a ‘portal app turned digital assistant’ makes good sense… and who wouldn’t want to feel like one of the Avengers?

One very important question remains: in a battle royal involving Siri, Hal 9000, and J.A.R.V.I.S., where do you place your bets?

Marvel Dangles J.A.R.V.I.S. In Front Of Mobile Users is a post from: Good e-Reader

Is there a Future in a Standalone Audible App?


Audible is currently the worlds largest audiobook service and has been going strong since 1997. It was purchased by Amazon in 2008 for $300 million dollars and has an extensive catalog of 150,000 titles from leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers and business information providers. Recently Amazon announced that you can purchase audio titles directly within their Kindle for Android app and has a new audio player in Kindle for iOS. Is there a future in the standalone Audible app now that Amazon seems to be gung-ho about integrating it into Kindle?

When it comes to audiobook sales, 60% of them stem from the digital editions. One of the more savvy moves for audio distribution was in 2003 when Audible signed an agreement with iTunes to exclusively stock their audiobook section of their store. This crossed over from the dedicated iTunes app for PC and MAC to the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Most of the content from Audible comes from major publishers, Amazon Creation Exchange and Brilliance audio, the biggest producer of CD-based audiobooks. Audiobooks are now well over a billion-dollar business, and the available figures suggest that Amazon retains a far larger piece of that revenue than any other retailer.

Audiobook prices are often drastically inflated and is a barrier for more mainstream adoption. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green costs $4.99 for the Kindle edition, but the audiobook costs $17.99. Max Brooks seminal World War Z – The Oral History of the Zombie Wars costs $9.99 for the Kindle edition, but the audiobook will set you back $28.00.

Amazon has recognized that audiobooks are very overpriced and they are doing something about it in their new Kindle for Android updated app. The Seattle based company has incorporated WhisperSync for Voice and Immersion reading. This technology works if you have both the audio and eBook by saving the last page read and picking up where you left off. For example, if you read to page 27 in bed and then commute to work and fire up the audiobook it will sync to where you left off in the eBook, its very seamless. Immersion Reading basically plays the audiobook in sync with the Kindle book and highlights the words as they are being said aloud.

Whispersync and Immersion reading first showed up in the Kindle Fire HD line of tablets and now has crossed over to their apps. If you already own the Kindle book you can now purchase the eBook edition for a dramatically lowered price. HG Wells the The World Set Free is a free Kindle book, but the audio edition costs $17.73. If you download the free Kindle book and upgrade to the audiobook within the app it only costs $1.99, which is a tremendous savings.

The future of Audible is no longer within the dedicated Audible app for iOS or Android. Amazon seems to be incorporating the best aspects of the audiobook experience into their devices and apps, and leaving the Audible app to wallow away into obscurity. It really just comes down to economics, it is far cheaper to upgrade to the audiobook then to buy it separately. In the end, its just more intuitive to download the Kindle app and do everything within it, then to download two apps for the same purpose.

Is there a Future in a Standalone Audible App? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Final Fantasy Agito Headed For Android and iOS


Following a release in Japan, development house Square Enix has promised North American Android and iOS users that they will be playing Final Fantasy Agito soon. Fans of the Final Fantasy Franchise will recognize Agito as a spin-off based in Orience (whose key characters and universe will be familiar to those gamers who have played Final Fantasy Type-O on the PSP).

Game-play promises to be familiar, with missions leading to combat with enemies while brandishing weapons crafted by the users themselves.

No specific release date has been identified for Final Fantasy Agito, but the download will be free when it becomes available –though the now-commonplace in-app purchase options will be present.

Final Fantasy Agito Headed For Android and iOS is a post from: Good e-Reader

UK Self-Published Titles Increased by 79%

New data released by Nielsen Book Scan shows that self-published sales are on the rise in the UK, even as print sales and total book sales continue to drop and ebook sales of traditional publishers increased by 20%. The report provided an interesting and comprehensive look at a number of the characteristics associated with this publishing route.

First, the fastest growing genres seem to be mystery/thriller and fantasy, an interesting point considering the stronghold that romance and erotica have held over the self-publishing market since the beginning of the current digital revolution. While those genres certainly haven’t dropped, greater acceptance of self-publishing as a whole has led to new genres stepping and moving up the sales charts in bigger numbers.

One of the findings associated with the report is that self-published books, which still only accounted for 5% of all book sales in the UK last year, are bought for one of two reasons: either the author has established a dedicated following and a fan base, or they were bought on a whim due to book discovery or promotion. That information is important in two ways.

The first is in terms of price. While self-published book prices have been slowly rising on average, devoted fans of an author are more likely to pay $4.99US or more for a new title, whereas authors who don’t have an established readership or who haven’t produced a multi-title series may not attract readers at that price point.

The other key piece of data is showing that readers enjoy sagas with long-running story lines and character arcs that build over time. Repeat readers who purchase a self-published book because they’ve enjoyed the author’s other titles have reported that they enjoy the continuous reading experience. In an interesting aside, even traditional publishers are looking for the multi-book author, as it’s becoming more lucrative to build an author’s brand with readers than to sell a stand alone title.

While the news of the 79% increase in self-published sales is exciting for the way it demonstrates how much of the associated stigma is dissolving, there is still a long way to go before the bookselling industry reaches that long-awaited prediction of ebooks wiping out the print market altogether. Self-published or legacy published, ebooks are still holding ground at around one-fourth of total book sales.

UK Self-Published Titles Increased by 79% is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kobo Store Access Now Available From Sony Reader Devices, But Can’t Download Purchased eBooks

Oftentimes I can’t help but wonder what is wrong with Kobo. It’s like the lights are on but nobody is home. Today is one of those times. When Sony announced that they would be closing their ebook store in North America, they decided that it would be best to send all their customer accounts to […]

Samsung Galaxy Tab S Tablets Unveiled, Come with Outdoor Readable High-res AMOLED Displays

Samsung is on a tablet-releasing binge this year. They just released their Pro series of tablets a few months ago, then the budget line of Galaxy Tab 4 tablets came along, and now Samsung is getting set to release a third set of high-end tablets next month. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S series looks to […]

Lance at TEDx Oxbridge

Lance Howarth is CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, leading our charitable mission. People are sometimes surprised to learn that Raspberry Pi is a charity: every penny we make from selling the Pi goes into our charitable mission, where it’s used to support schools, train teachers, create resources and help fund other computing and learning initiatives. Back in May he gave a talk at TEDx Oxbridge, explaining what it is we’re up to here at Pi Towers, with help from Babbage the Bear and some rubber bands. It’s just gone live, and we though you’d like to check it out.

Great Audiobook Narrators

AudiobookMonthLogoA narrator can make or break an audiobook. Tone, inflection, accents, ages, pronunciation, intensity – so many moving parts need to come together to form the perfect narration. A good narrator can bring the words to life and fire up your imagination, all while keeping you engaged and giving you a completely new and unique experience with your favorite book.

In honor of Audiobook Month, I talked to some of my colleagues about their favorite MP3 audiobook narrators…


Great Audiobook Narrators

Rebecca Lowman
I love listening to books narrated by Rebecca Lowman. She has such a great conversational tone and gives wonderful distinction between the character voices, so that it feels as if the audiobook is unfolding with the cast of characters right in my car on my commute to work! – Cassie Renner, Marketing Specialist

Neil Gaiman and Campbell Scott
I'm pretty sure I don't need to explain how great Neil Gaiman is to a bunch of librarians. I love authors that narrate their own books and I could listen to Gaiman talk for years. Campbell Scott is also a favorite, even though his narration of The Shining by Stephen King gave me nightmares for weeks. – Rachel Kray, Collection Development Analyst

Emma Galvin
Galvin has great storytelling abilities that really make the books and characters come to life. I would especially recommend her narration of the Divergent series. – Laura Guldeman, Collection Development Analyst

Maxwell Caulfield
I loved listening to Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Max Caulfield voices the Harry Potter-esque Simon Snow, that appears in excerpts throughout the book with Rebecca Lowman handling the main part of the narration as Cath, a college student that writes Simon Snow fan fiction. He's one of the only narrators that I enjoyed listening to so much that I specifically searched him out to find my next “listen”: The Red House by Mark Haddon. – Melissa Marin, Marketing Specialist

Laughter always makes a long car ride go by quicker, so what's better than listening to your favorite comedians for eight hours! Some of my favorites include Bob Saget, Mindy Kaling, and Tina Fey. – Karen Jakubczak, Account Specialist

Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet's cheeky, buoyant reading of Roald Dahl's Matilda breathes new life into this beloved children's novel. Her Oscar-winning talent is clearly on display, especially through her animated and distinctive character voices. – Carrie Smith, Technical Writer

James Marsters and Wil Wheaton
James Marsters does the Dresden Files audiobooks, and he's great—he's got a voice you just want to listen to, and he captures the wry character of Harry Dresden pretty well. Will Wheaton seems to only read books he personally loves, and it comes through in his narration. I think he got his start narrating for John Scalzi (as they are friends), but he's also done several other books like Ready Player One– Quinton Lawman, Technical Writer


Do you have any favorite audiobook narrators you'd like to recommend?

*Some titles may have limited regional or platform availability.


Adobe DPS Powers New Samsung Tablet’s Magazine Feature, Papergarden

With the launch of Samsung‘s newest tablet offering, the Galaxy Tab S, consumers must be wondering what makes the new device so compelling, so stand-out that it’s worthy of their hard earned money. Just from a digital reading standpoint, there’s a lot about the tablet that stands out, particularly thanks to Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite.

With the release of DPS v31, which is the only platform that supports Samsung’s new digital magazine reading experience Papergarden, new features in content previewing, purchasing from directly within a preview, and more are going to streamline the magazine content sales realm. This release will power both this tablet launch and another from Samsung.

"Samsung is excited to have partnered with Adobe to use Digital Publishing Suite to build the new Papergarden application. Samsung's new magazine service, Papergarden, enables users to view a wide range of top-tier magazine titles exactly as the photographers intended, reproducing colors just as vividly and accurately as the print versions," said Daniel Park, senior vice president of Samsung Electronics' Media Solution Center. "Papergarden is tightly integrated with the robust DPS native Android Viewer and strives to deliver a highly engaging service that will delight Samsung Galaxy users in its purchase simplicity and interactive content experience with an optimized viewing environment for interactive digital magazines.”

Good e-Reader spoke to Adobe’s Lynly Schambers-Lenox for a demo of what’s new in v31, and how DPS is making it even easier to drive sales.

“This is the first time we’ve partnered with a hardware supplier on content. With v31, users can see a preview of content, but that preview and the purchase functionality are now very tightly connected. Publishers can build segments for push notifications and can drive readers to custom markets or URLs, all with the intention of driving engagement.”

One of the more exciting enhancements to this newest release is the Folio Showcase, which lets publishers set up a default library of content that they especially want to highlight. There are key visuals in the showcase, along with content samples, and the pricing is “front and center” for consumers to make a content purchasing decision. All of this leads to an increase in sales and user engagement with the material.

The new version has already rolled out and is available for preview through Adobe.

Adobe DPS Powers New Samsung Tablet’s Magazine Feature, Papergarden is a post from: Good e-Reader