News that Amazon’s catalog has reached 3.4 million records sounds like a good thing, for the retailer as much as for the customers searching for their next good read. Unfortunately, this may not be the case: when a new book is added every 5 minutes (an average of 12 titles per hour), how do you manage to get yours noticed?
These rapid increases run the risk or burying existing titles, which should be a concern to mainstream publishers –with so many indie titles popping up, thousands of which being the product of robots, getting discovered is very difficult. Positive reviews may help increase the visibility of your book, but even still it doesn’t take long before you’ve dipper below the top 100.
What this really means is that the face of book sales is changing. Relying on Amazon to recommend something may not be wise –meaning dedicated readers will have to use alternative search methods to locate what they want before using Amazon to complete the purchase.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
If Flappy Birds wasn’t driving you crazy or taking up enough of your free time, Gears Studio has the answer with their sequel to the popular mobile game: Swing Copters. Best described as a cross between impossibly difficult and increasingly addictive, Swing Copters is the easiest game you will never master.
If you want to successfully complete this game, the goal is simple: take control of a small character wearing a propeller hat as he travels skyward –but don’t mind the swinging pendulum-style hammers.
Being reminiscent of classic video game styling is a large part of the charm in this game, but have no fear, I assure you that the game is fully modernized (and the physics is quite precise).
If you are curious enough to give it a try, and have an immense amount of patience, download Swing Copters for your Android device now.
The Dutch eBook market has seen excellent growth in the last two years and recent Q2 financial figures from the publishing industry has seen it increase by 18%. We now see eBooks accounting for 26% of all sales, but print books are still strong with 74%.
The Netherlands has a different dichotomy than North America in regards to the way encryption is handled. Only 1 eBook in 50 has the standard DRM, with the vast majority relying on digital watermarks. In North America, the trends are basically reversed with publishers exclusively relying on DRM to safegurd against piracy.
Ditch publishers are certainly seeing eBooks as being viable, despite the fact they only account for 4.7% of book sales. In the first half of 2013, the Dutch eBook market had three million titles digitized and at the midpoint of 2014 there are over five million.
HarperCollins has been one of the most forward thinking publishers of 2014. They have not only supported Vancouver startup BitLit, which gives you a discounted eBook if you prove you own the print edition, but also Bookshout. Today, HarperCollins has announced a massive new campaign that is running in conjunction with Humble Bundle.
The essence of the Humble Bundle campaign with Harpercollins is that customers can pay what they want for a collection of digital literary works from bestselling authors, like Neil Gaiman and James Rollins, while helping support the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America Emergency Medical Fund, a non-profit organization for authors of science fiction and related genres, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community.
Humble Bundle allows for multiple tiers of donations, normally you can get a number of great titles for any amount you want to pay and gives incentives, where if a donation threshold is met, readers get additional titles.
Pay whatever you want and get the following eBooks;
– The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
Customers who pay more than the average price will also receive:
– Angel's Ink by Jocelynn Drake
Customers who pay $10 or more will receive all of the above, as well as:
|Ever wonder about the team behind the scenes at GCFLearnFree.org?|
The Usual Suspects: Guaranteed Bestsellers
Amy Bloom – Lucky Us
Books on Tape, read by Alicyn Packard
By the author of Away, which was called a literary triumph by the New York Times. Two young half-sisters in 1940s America travel between Hollywood, Long Island, and London, as one dreams of becoming an actress. Bloom is a National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award nominee. 125,000 print run. An Amazon Best Book of the Month. Booklist starred review.
Charles Cumming – A Colder War
Macmillan Audio – read by Jot Davies
A spy thriller in the vein of John Le Carré. Agent Tom Kell must dig out a mole when three recent recruits by Western intelligence all meet unfortunate fates. 100,000 print run.
Lev Grossman – The Magician's Land
Penguin Audio, read by Mark Bramhall
Critics agree that this final book in Grossman's trilogy is the best of all. The series has been called Harry Potter for adults, but it's more than that. It follows the adventures of a richly drawn young group of magicians as they grow from adolescence into adulthood and deal with the questions of humanity and identity. Best Fantasy Books Blog Most Anticipated Books of 2014. io9: All the Essential Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in 2014. 150,000 print run. Booklist & Kirkus starred reviews.
Emma Healey – Elizabeth Is Missing
Harper Audio, read by Davina Porter
Maud Horsham knows that she is slipping into dementia, but when a moving van takes away her best friend's belongings and Maud can't contact her, she is forced into the role of detective because no one will listen to her insistence that something has happened to her friend. Flavorwire: 25 Women Poised to Lead the Culture in 2014. An Amazon Best Mystery, Thriller and Suspense Book of the Month. BookPage Best Books of the Month. Booklist starred review.
Colleen McCullough – Bittersweet
Blackstone Audio, read by Cat Gould
McCullough's first epic romantic novel since The Thorn Birds. Set in 1920s and 30s Australia. Four sisters—two sets of twins—enroll in a training program to become nurses at a time when most women were limited to the role of wives, and mothers.
Jamie McGuire – Beautiful Oblivion
Simon & Schuster Audio, read by Phoebe Strole
Third in the bestselling new adult Maddox Brothers series. Trenton Maddox, the king of Eastern State University, comes home after a tragic accident to try to come to grips with his guilt. Fiercely independent Camille Camlin is sure she can keep their relationship platonic, since after all, she grew up as the baby sister of four rowdy boys and knows how to handle men. 600,000 print run. An Amazon Best Romance of the Month. The beautiful cover will help this book.
Haruki Murakami – Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
Books on Tape, read by Bruce Locke
Tsukuru Tazaki is one of a group of university friends who get together at every holiday. Suddenly, the others say they never want to see him again and he knows why. But Tsukuru doesn't know why. Over the years he tries to make new friends and wonders what happened, but he finally decides to seek the truth when he turns 35. The Millions’ Great 2014 Preview. Sold a million copies in Japan in its first week. The Atlantic: Books to Read in 2014. Huffington Post: 30 Books You Need to Read in 2014. 250,000 print run. Kirkus starred review.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips – Heroes Are My Weakness
Harper Audio, read by Erin Bennett
A down-on-her-luck actress arrives at cottage on a secluded island in the middle of a snowstorm only to find that the occupant of the main house which overlooks the cottage is the writer of horror fiction who betrayed her when she was just a teenager. He knows a dozen ways to kill people with his bare hands. Can she trust him? Has he changed? 200,000 print run. Romantic Times: Book Hankering 2014 – Romance. Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist & Library Journal starred reviews.
Susan Vreeland – Lisette's List
Books on Tape, read by Kim Bubbs
By the author of The Girl in Hyacinth Blue, this is the story of Lisette Roux, who along with her husband, move from Paris to a village in Provence to care for his grandfather. Lisette regrets giving up the chance to be an art gallery apprentice in Paris, but discovers the beauty of provincial life. She begins a list of vows to herself, and when war breaks out, she hides paintings to keep them from the Nazis.
John W. Dean – The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It
Penguin Audio, read by Joe Barrett
Just in time for the 40th anniversary of Nixon's resignation,John Dean, Nixon's legal counsel who testified against him at the Watergate hearings, puts together a chronology to show what Nixon knew and when—and says he has the answer to what was on the eighteen and a half minutes of missing tape recordings. 100,000 print run.
Roxane Gay – Bad Feminist: Essays
Harper Audio, read by Bahni Turpin
Gay, author of the acclaimed novel An Untamed State, is an up and coming young cultural critic. Here, in a collection of essays, she takes on topics like the trivialization of literature written by women, her love/hate reaction to Fifty Shades of Grey, and the complexities of race and gender in pop culture.
Kirsten Gillibrand – Off the Sidelines: Raise Your Voice, Change the World
Books on Tape, read by the author
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has made a name for herself ever since replacing Hilary Clinton as senator when Clinton became Secretary of State. The daughter and granddaughter of two trailblazing feminists, Gillibrand believes that if women's voices were heard in the political arena we would shift our national priorities.
Books on Tape, read by Michael Bybee
Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn – A Path Appears: Enriching the Lives of Others—and Ourselves
Books on Tape, read by Olivia Wilde
This acclaimed husband and wife team wrote the bestselling Half the Sky, and are now back with scrupulous research and on-the-ground reporting to show us how particular people have made a difference in the world, evaluate the efficiency and impact of specific approaches and charities, and what we can do to support the best of them.
Ben Macintyre – A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal
Books on Tape, read by John Lee
2013 marked the 50th anniversary of British spy Kim Philby's defection to Moscow, and resulted in the release of many new documents. Macintyre made good use of those newly available files to tell the story of Philby, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain's counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War—while he was secretly working for the enemy. An Amazon Best Biography & Memoir of the Month. 250,000 print run.
Paul Ryan – The Way Forward
Hachette Audio, read by the author
Ryan, the Republican candidate for Vice President in the last election, outlines his political vision for 2014 and beyond, beginning with an analysis of the 2012 election and dissecting the challenges faced by the Republican Party in the future. Also includes a critique of President Obama and the progressive movement as a whole. 150,000 print run.
Books on Tape, read by Arthur Morey
In 1879, the steamship USS Jeannette, on an attempt to reach the North Pole, became trapped in ice for two years, and then when it was suddenly released, it was crushed by the ice pack and sank. George W. De Long and his crew quickly abandoned ship and began a horrible 1,000 mile trek over the ice toward Siberia. Highlighted in a USA Today article asking booksellers for great books of summer. 150,000 print run. Kirkus & Publishers Weekly starred reviews.
Oprah Winfrey – What I Know for Sure
Macmillan Audio, read by the author
Don't miss this blockbuster! These essays written by Oprah Winfrey herself offer a glimpse into the mind of one of the world's most extraordinary and successful women. Taken from columns that were originally written for O Magazine, this collection has been revised and updated, and offers inspiring words of wisdom.
*Geographical rights may vary by title.
In September 2014 (as in a couple of weeks) the new Computing curriculum will come into play in schools in England. Basically this means that ICT as a subject will be replaced by Computing and that students from the age of five will have the opportunity to learn an exciting and powerful new subject.
There has been a lot of discussion on how to prepare for this in terms of teacher training. It’s vitally important and it’s why we run Picademy for example. But as the subject matures we also need to start thinking about what an effective computing classroom looks like and how to set it up so that students can get the most from the subject.
Teaching and learning spaces
My primary school was not like others. Pupils were free to roam about and do what they wanted. It was an interesting educational experiment. I now know what happens when pupils are responsible for their own education: they smear their faces with woad (well, Crayola indigo warmed up on the radiator) and then scuttle up trees. (Student voice, I'm looking at you.)
There were no classrooms in this school of the future, just "bays"—quasi-rooms with no walls, opening onto a central area. It was a terrible environment for most subjects: it’s tricky to concentrate on improper fractions or 'How come the moon doesn't fly off into space?' when the bay across the way is thrashing a class set of percussion instruments like a colony of chimps pummelling the corpse of dead hyena.
So I've never been a fan of "learning spaces". Even typing the phrase makes me start rocking gently and keening. And yet learning spaces are exactly what the new English Computing programme of study needs. Walk into a standard ICT suite in any secondary school in the land and you will be stared down by banks of unblinking monitors lining the walls and the central reservations.
This is not a learning room, it's a teaching room. It's set out so that teachers can monitor the monitors (and monitor the monitor monitors if they are lucky enough to have them) and control what the students are doing with their hermetically sealed PCs. What they are typically doing, given the closed nature of hardware and software in most of these suites, is usually pretty anodyne. It should come as no surprise that the word “suite” comes from the old French meaning "a group of identically clad followers".
This new-fangled ICT thing: it’s a slippery slope and no mistake
So what the typical student is doing in the typical ICT suite is … ICT. Which is great! Good teachers are running rich and exciting and useful ICT lessons under the old programme of study (PoS). Outstanding teachers have been including elements of computing into their lessons for years (contrary to the belief of those who had never actually read it, the old PoS was pretty flexible and adaptable). But all too often a school’s ICT policy is that the subject should be safe. Not inspiring or useful or thought provoking. Just safe.
Which would be lovely if this meant ‘safe’ for the kids, but more often than not it means ‘safe’ for the senior management. ICT isn’t to be trusted: kids obviously needed watching because they might do bad things. Like play games. Or watch games on YouTube. Or write games and pretend to be testing them. Students have even been known to flip screens upside down using hot-keys; or draw rude pictures in Paint and set them as the desktop of their neighbour’s machine; or stick a Post-it on the bottom of the teacher’s mouse; or Google "funny gifs of cats with glok’s and a bom lol!"
Hence this urge, especially amongst techno-wary management, to constantly monitor and repress and interfere. Technology that enlightens and frees and encourages experimentation is the same technology that is potentially seditious and disruptive and encourages hacking (hurrah!). So it’s sad but unsurprising that in the current climate schools lock down PCs and stop students from messing about. A more open environment doesn’t require lots of time and money (two big barriers to change in schools) but it does need thoughtful policies and a desire to change.
Would you like a handful of magic beans with that interactive whiteboard sir?
Of course, if all you want to do is to create things on a screen, then a bank of proprietary PCs does the job (though installing some open source software like Inkscape, Audacity, LibreOffice, Firefox and GIMP wouldn't hurt). But things have changed since the late 90s when IT quietly became ICT and a new curriculum came in: prescribed hardware and proscribed software just aren't good enough now that Computing is back (in retrospect, they weren’t even fit for purpose then). A generic classroom stifles creativity and if Computing is one thing, it’s creative.
Looking back at my ten years in an ICT classroom it’s clear to me that most ICT suites are the 21st century equivalent of the shiny new language labs that popcorned into secondary schools in the late 70s: shiny and exciting but ultimately a bit rubbish. My old stock cupboard is full of unused smoke-and-mirrors ICT kit that was sold as the next big thing but turned out to be technology for technology’s sake. (We’re very fond of the old magic beans thing in education, but that’s another blog post entirely.) Technology by itself rarely improves learning. Good teachers in stimulating environments always do.
A new classroom for the new programme of study
For the new Computing programme of study let's give the students the freedom to tinker and to hack and to experiment and to collaborate. And let’s give them the space and the tools to do this. PCs still have a place of course, but ideally there will be a central table(s) full of electronics, robots, sensors, computers, projects kits, stuff you’ve found in skips, printers, bits and bobs, cutters and a runcible spoon. (And, of course, Raspberry Pis!) Let anyone who wants to play come in at break, lunchtime and after school to mess around. Encourage other subjects to use computing as a creative tool, one they can use in their lessons, and to look at Computing and not say "Whatever" but "Hmmm, that's interesting…" (Because if Computing is not used across the whole curriculum then we are missing both the point and a huge learning opportunity.)
For this we are going to have to change our ICT rooms from teaching rooms to learning spaces. It’s not a trivial thing and it won’t happen overnight. But if you are offered a new room in which to teach Computing this September, or you get the chance to re-purpose an existing ICT suite, please make it the first thing on your agenda. In fact, make a space like this:
In time, ten years perhaps, computing in schools will be a normal tool for problem solving and creativity. Just a tool to do things in the same way that, on a much smaller scale, a calculator is used today in Maths (although the things you can do are very much cooler and more useful than telling your mate to type in ’5318008′ and hand it, upside down, to your teacher). In the meantime, let’s get the learning spaces right. The rest will drop into place.
How you can help
We’re currently writing materials on how to set up a computing classroom and we’d like your help. What would your ideal computing space look like and why? What would you like to see in there, how would it be set up and how could the Raspberry Pi Foundation help you with this? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this and the final materials will be published in our resources area. Comments below would be lovely, thanks!