Monday, June 23, 2014

Nest Purchases Dropcam for $555M of Google’s Money


A lot of companies are buying a lot of other companies these days, with one of the latest acquisitions being Nest’s $555 million dollar grab for Dropcam. Designed to be a cloud-based WiFi video streaming service, Dropcam may seem like an unusual investment for a company known best for thermostats and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors; at least until you consider that there seems to be a lot of industry movement toward home automation and monitoring (and what better way to check in on what’s going on around the house than with wall-mounted, Internet aware cameras?).

Matt Rogers, the founder of Nest, hasn’t said much about their specific plans for Dropcam, but has assured customers that their privacy is one of his chief concerns (which is a relief when you think of the potential risks that stem from having a Google Now-enabled home):

“Once the deal closes, we’ll incorporate Dropcam into how we do business at Nest. That includes how we handle everything from customer support to customer privacy. Like Nest customer data, Dropcam will come under Nest’s privacy policy, which explains that data won’t be shared with anyone (including Google) without a customer’s permission. Nest has a paid-for business model and ads are not part of our strategy. In acquiring Dropcam, we’ll apply that same policy to Dropcam too.”

What aspect of home-automation makes you most excited? Keeping your lights active while you are on holidays? Checking in on the nanny while you are at work? Making sure the cat is staying off your kitchen counter (yeah right!)?

Nest Purchases Dropcam for $555M of Google’s Money is a post from: Good e-Reader

Podcast: What is Co-Op Placement for eBooks? Amazon Fire Phone, Reading Stats and Lots More


Welcome back to a jampacked edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show! Today Editor Michael Kozlowski and Digital Book Worlds own Jeremy Greenfield bring you up to date on the world of publishing and tech.

The Amazon and Hachette battle is bringing out a bunch of dirty laundry, such as co-op placement. When you walk into a bookstore and see a big table with the editors choice, publishers have to pay for that. In the digital realm, Amazon charges for the pre-order button and for high valued placement on their Kindle books page. Larger publishers also have dedicated reps that work exclusively with them and this all costs money. This is why Amazon shutting off the paid services is quite a big deal.

Apple is capitalizing on the Hachette pre-order suspension on Amazon by offering over 30 new titles for $9.99 or less. If you want to order the new Silkworm book by JK Rowling or the new James Patterson, now is the time to buy.

Also on the show, you will be brought up to date on the new Amazon Fire Phone and Good e-Readers upcoming trip to the ALA event in Las Vegas in a few days.

Podcast: What is Co-Op Placement for eBooks? Amazon Fire Phone, Reading Stats and Lots More is a post from: Good e-Reader

Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution 2 Coming to Android


Apparently 2K Games is bringing Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution 2 to Android, though so far we aren’t sure when –which is making it very difficult for me to schedule my holidays around the release (because I am virtually certain I won’t be getting any work done for a while after it’s out). Fans of the popular turn-based strategy games should be excited: Sid Meier’s Civilization is a seasoned veteran in the genre.

The Android version is slated to allow gamers to lead a civilization from the dawn of man clear to the modern age, all the while waging war, attempting diplomacy and discovering new (to the era) technologies along side history’s most famous leaders (such as Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi and Napoleon –but also a few new faces such as Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy)… all in an effort to achieve ultimate worldwide supremacy (before anyone else). It is a familiar formula for the franchise, but it is tried and true (and revered).

The first installment in the Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution franchise was available for many platforms (including xBox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo DS) in 2008 with a release to iOS one year later in 2009. For those who still game on a PC (I imagine there are a few of you still out there), Civilization: Beyond Earth is set to launch later this year as well (promised as a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri).

Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution 2 Coming to Android is a post from: Good e-Reader

3M to Launch Next Gen Personalized Lending App at ALA

As the American Library Assocation’s annual conference kicks off later this week in Las Vegas, companies that support public and academic libraries will showcase their technology and roll out new offerings to the attendees. One of those companies, 3M Library Systems, will be unveiling a next generation app that provides a more personalized lending experience of digital content.

"The 3M Cloud Library app still allows libraries to create custom shelves to promote content to patrons. However, now users can personalize which genres they browse on a regular basis, allowing them to quickly find new content they are interested in," said Tom Mercer, 3M Cloud Library Marketing Manager, in a press release. "The combination of both library and patron customization tools means we have the most flexible interface to create an intuitive and elegant experience for the library user. A great app experience creates happy patrons, which in turn means more circulation and more users for the library."

Personalized lending experiences cannot come soon enough in a climate where libraries are struggling to remain relevant and to offer the same kind of user experience that patrons have come to expect in other industries. Of course, the real news is in the addition of a number of publishing partners, upping 3M’s catalog offering in order to help libraries provide their patrons with the content they want. These new partners include titles from Perseus Books Group, Penguin Random House‘s Spanish language books division, Encyclopaedia Britannnica, and several more. This addition increases 3M’s catalog of titles to over 300,000 ebooks.

"3M Cloud Library continues to secure content from publishing partners offering the titles patrons are most excited about," said Mercer. "This quality-over-quantity approach helps libraries demonstrate the value of this powerful eReading tool."

Good e-Reader will be on hand at the ALA conference to post features about the new projects and products that will be showcased at the event.

3M to Launch Next Gen Personalized Lending App at ALA is a post from: Good e-Reader

Google Gets Girls Into IT With $50M “Made With Code” Investment


As a woman working in the male-dominated IT industry, news that Google has launched a new initiative aimed to get young women excited about become software developers hits rather close to home. While it’s true that there are more women entering computer science-related fields every year, it is also the case that they are still the minority. In an effort to change that, Google’s new program will spend $50 million over the next 3 years to demonstrate how the things women love are “Made with Code.”

Many partners in the community are already involved, including leaders like Chelsea Clinton and organizations like the MIT Media Lab and Girl Scouts of the USA. Unlike many educational programs that have talked -at- children, this one aims to provide the resources and projects meant to inspire and also engage (a few ready-to-try examples include: design a 3D bracelet and have it printed, create animated GIFs, or compose a soundtrack).

Mentors already involved in the program are as fascinating as they are awe-inspiring, with examples like:

Danced w/Code (Miral Kotb shows “the intersection of dance and code on Broadway”)

Saved w/Code (Erica Kochi describes how “disease and injustice are no match for a simple mobile phone”),

Animated w/Code (Danielle Feinberg shares “Lighting up the Pixar movies that light up the big screen”).

While “Made with Code” has been designed with young women in mind, please consider taking the time to learn a little more about the program no matter your age or gender… it might surprise you to discover the ways that technology is changing the world around you (and also that it is being achieved by regular people no different from you and me).

Google Gets Girls Into IT With $50M “Made With Code” Investment is a post from: Good e-Reader

Colorado Doctors Participate in Books for Patients Program


As parents head to the doctor’s office to handle appointments over the summer break, they may be surprised to find a new kind of medicine waiting for them: books. Thanks to one program in Colorado, children who visit the pediatrician will not only have their sight, hearing, and general health checked, but will also be updated on the importance of reading, especially of reading with parents and as a family.

Studies have demonstrated over and over the importance of introducing children to literacy as early as possible, as well as the benefits of establishing a daily reading habit. Coupled with the focused attention of parents and the quiet time of unplugging for a while to curl up with a book, and a program like this one stands to produce great strides in language development, literacy and reading comprehension, and an overall increase in reading for pleasure.

The program, Reach Out and Read Colorado, makes books available to doctors’ offices to give to their patients. This initiative is aimed at children ages six months to five years, and provides reading material for families; more than just a book handout, doctors have taken the necessary steps to become educated in the benefits of quality reading time, and therefore have begun to make this “reading prescription” a part of a child’s well-checkup.

According to the organization’s website, “Reach Out and Read Colorado is a 501(c)(3) that is part of the national Reach Out and Read program and is the statewide Coalition of Colorado's Reach Out and Read Sites. In 2014 Reach Out and Read Colorado will distribute more than 165,000 books to more than 90,000 children. Currently the program is administered at 230 clinics in 53 Colorado counties.”

The project is welcoming donations of new and gently used books for distribution through its partnership with healthcare providers. A look at the group’s websites shows the connection with early reading exposure and lifelong benefits, including school readiness and academic success, and a link to significant research findings into childhood reading can be found on the site.

Colorado Doctors Participate in Books for Patients Program is a post from: Good e-Reader

Turn Your Android Tablet into the Ultimate eReader

One of the good things about Android is all of the choices for reading apps. There’s everything from ebook apps to news and rss apps, to digital magazine and newspaper and comic apps, there’s reading apps just for kids, enhanced ebook apps with videos and music, apps that read ebooks aloud. In fact there are […]

Spain Cracks Down on Book Piracy

Russia ebook
In a bold move for books and authors, Spanish police raided a book piracy facility and seized an undisclosed value of copied and digitized titles intended for sale and distribution. This crackdown marks an important step for recognizing the rights of authors and copyright holders, and for attacking an increasingly frustrating problem.

Piracy, especially of ebooks and MP3s, has been a concern for rights holders for quite some time. The widespread sentiment seems to be one of, “There’s nothing that can be done, so don’t waste time and energy worrying about it.” An increasingly popular view which is held by authors like Hugh Howey is that piracy is actually good for sales of future titles; as readers learn about new authors and enjoy their works, the natural tendency is to support the author.

One fallacy in the publishing industry is that artificial layers of protection like DRM encryption actually prevent piracy, but publishers like Tor have spoken out and stated that it is simply not true. At this year’s IDPF conference in May, Tor Books’ Tim Doherty actually made the case that offering their books DRM-free has actually had zero impact on both piracy and overall sales of their titles.

As the police raid in Spain demonstrates, thieves will find a way. Among the property seized was more than 1,000 copied titles, and the investigation uncovered eight different sites in two cities alone where print book scanning was taking place. This copying of physical books into digital formats for resale through piracy websites is a clear indication that the crime is rampant, but also that “security blanket” measures like DRM-encryption only stop honest people from using their legally purchased ebooks in the way that they see fit and best suits their reading needs.

Spain Cracks Down on Book Piracy is a post from: Good e-Reader

Apple Gives Away an eBook a Day

While readers struggle to find new content in the wake of the Amazon-Hachette dispute, Apple has been faithfully supplying those titles at a discount to its customers. Now, Apple is taking it a step further by highlighting new titles with a daily ebook giveaway which will run from now through June 29th. The titles, which are debut authors’ works spanning a variety of genres, will be featured one at a time over the next few days.

This effort to highlight new literary talent is another in a line of book promotions, such as Apple’s 2013 initiative to offer a special spotlight on self-published books in its Breakout Books section of the iBookstore. For a company that is so widely known for its technology and app store, it has been quite supportive of the book market (all price fixing and artificial book price inflation aside, of course).

In an article for The Bookseller, Lisa Campbell listed the titles, authors, and publishers to be included in the giveaway:

“The promotion has kicked off today (23rd June) with Dawn O'Porter's debut YA novel Paper Aeroplanes (Hot Key Books) – a ‘touching’ portrayal of young girls trying to come to terms with grief – and The Bookseller understands tomorrow's promotion (24th June) will be Broken Dolls, a debut by James Carol (Faber) featuring Jefferson Winter, an ex-FBI psychological profiler assigned to help the Met out with their cold cases. The other titles included in the promotion will be Marius’ Mules: the Invasion of Gaul by SJA Turney, a self-published title, I’m Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti (Canongate), Soulmates by Holly Bourne (Usbourne), Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie (Simon & Schuster) and Wild by Cheryl Strayed (Atlantic Books).”

Apple Gives Away an eBook a Day is a post from: Good e-Reader

Android on Kobo Aura HD is Buggy and Frustrating (Video)

Last week I posted about a dual-boot hack for the Kobo Aura HD that lets you choose to run Android off a memory card or boot the stock Kobo operating system from the internal card. In theory dual-booting is a great thing to have on a Kobo eReader because it’s like having two devices in […]

OverDrive in the Classroom Contest winners

We wrapped up the OverDrive in the Classroom Contest at the end of May with tons of submissions! As a reminder, this contest was designed to help generate awareness of the benefits of the OverDrive and Teachers Notebook partnership to our school partners. Teachers Notebook provides teacher-created lesson plans, activities, educational games and more. With this contest, many shops entered products relating to titles available from OverDrive and some even made custom products specifically for the contest!

We are happy to announce the winners of the OverDrive in the Classroom Contest!



Grand Prize Winner


Rebecca Reid's Line upon Line Learning with Goldilocks and the Three Bears Lesson Plan for OverDrive video


Runners Up


ASeriesof3rdGradeEvents with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Book Study & Activity Packet


Splash Publications with OverDrive Sarah, Plain and Tall Literature Guide-Common Core!



Kathy Hutto with Charlottes Web Literature Guide and Lapbook

You can see some of the materials Teachers Notebook shopkeepers created for use with your OverDrive digital collection here. While on the site, take a look at all the many great offerings from Teachers Notebook shopkeepers to help you with lesson planning for next school year!


Cassie Renner is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive.


Deal Alert: Sony PRS-T2 Refurb eBook Reader $29

Sony is no longer in the ebook reader business (not outside of Japan, anyway), but you can still get a Sony Reader for dirt cheap in the US. There’s a listing at TigerDirect for a refurbished Sony PRS-T2 for only $29. That’s a pretty deep discount when you consider the retail price for a new […]

Deal Alert: 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD Refurb $139

Amazon has been trying hard to unload last year’s 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD by running numerous sales over the past several months, and now they’ve got the price lower than ever, but for today only. One of Amazon’s daily deals today drops $60 off the regular price of a refurbished 8.9″ Kindle Fire HD, taking […]

Compute Module development kits now available!

Fuelled by Welsh cakes and a lot of sunshine, the team at Sony Pencoed have finished building the first batch of Compute Modules (CM) and Compute Module IO Boards (CMIO). These are available today to buy from RS and Element14 in the form of Compute Module Development Kits. The MRP is $200.

In each kit you get a Compute Module, an IO Board, adaptors to convert the CMIO board camera and display interfaces to use the official Raspberry Pi Camera (and display when available later this year), 5V power supply and a micro USB cable for flashing the eMMC from a host PC.


Compute Module Development Kit (also includes 5V PSU and USB cable, not shown)

As of today the only operating system that is officially ‘Compute Module Aware’ is the very latest Raspbian (as of the 20/6/2014), so you’ll need to grab that and only that to flash on to the Compute Module. The remaining OSes will be updated shortly. Right now using NOOBS or any of the other OSes will (probably) not work properly, but YMMV.

We are working as we speak to improve the software stack to make it much easier to develop with the Compute Module. For example we are working on a new system to easily make the GPIOs controlled by the closed source drivers able to be remapped easily and also working to enable dual cameras. However these things aren’t ready quite yet. So a word to the early adopters – if you can do it with a Pi today, it will work. If you need more GPIO, it will work, if you need dual cameras or screens or any of the interfaces that are not working on a Pi then today it won’t work or might be more tricky than it eventually will be. We are working hard to get these improvements out just as soon as we can.

To get started with your Compute Module Development Kit please head on over to the official Raspberry Pi Compute Module documentation. Also feel free to post questions on the forum, and we will do our best to answer them.

Needless to say we are very excited to finally have the Compute Module winging its way into the hands of developers – we look forward to seeing what happens next!

Prime Music Adds Real Value to Amazon Prime Subscription


Amazon Prime is a full-featured subscription service to begin with –though the recent addition of Prime Music sweetens the pot considerably. Consider Prime Music as an extension to the old Amazon MP3 service –comprised of 3 functions: a library of all the tracks you own, a store where you are able to buy new music, and a place to listen to new music and discover new favourites (think of it like an elaborate and customized radio station of your very own).

Is it any better than competitors like Google Play Music or Spotify? While your mileage may vary, Prime Music really isn’t anything special. All of the usual features are present (download tracks automatically when you purchase, customize your playback with an on-screen equalizer, and set your preferences for downloading over 3G/LTE versus WiFi for streaming or saving for offline listening).

So what are the strengths? Amazon Prime includes more than a million songs to choose from, there are no ads to contend with, no restrictions on the number of songs you skip or repeat, and there are plenty of playlists (created by experts and categorized in a meaningful way, with examples like: Feel Good Country, 50 Great Epic Classic Rock Songs, 80′s Dance Floor Fillers, and 90′s Pop Workout).

Initial reviews are mixed, but one thing is for certain: Amazon is taking a play from Apple’s book. As they bring more content and more features into their fold, Amazon increases brand loyalty and decreases the need for users to go elsewhere for anything on their mobile devices. If you are using Amazon Prime for other services like television (and fast shipping), why would you pay for something else in addition to handle your music? Each function of Prime may not be the best, but chance are good that for the average user they are good enough.

Amazon Prime comes with a 30-day free trial (meaning you really have nothing to lose by giving it a shot). After your trial period expires, $99USD per year buys you an all-access pass.

Prime Music Adds Real Value to Amazon Prime Subscription is a post from: Good e-Reader

Apple Heavily Discounts Upcoming Hachette eBook Tiles


Apple is capitalizing on the media circus surrounding Amazon suspending pre-orders on all of Hachettes upcoming titles. iBooks users will find 26 eBooks have been discounted to $9.99 or less, including JK Rowling's new book The Silkworm and a book from bestselling American author James Patterson.

Pre-orders are very important to publishers as they are a major factor in propelling new books up the bestseller charts boosting the chances of creating another smash hit. When a book is debuted, all of the pre-order sales are calculated into the first days sales figures. This is why the Amazon row is especially damaging for Hachette because 60% of their US eBook sales stem from the Seattle based e-commerce giant.

Apples editors have manually edited the main iBookstore and iTunes in order to draw attention to this promotion. Maybe this deal will help sway some people to trying out the iOS ecosystem.

Apple Heavily Discounts Upcoming Hachette eBook Tiles is a post from: Good e-Reader