Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Spotify Music Streaming Service Available in Canada


It’s about time! Time and again, Canadians have to watch these awesome music streaming services pop up, only to discover that once again we won’t have access to it. This time it’s our turn –five years after the initial launch, the Swedish company is giving Canadians access to Spotify.

Before you start pointing out that competing services are available in Canada (including the likes of Deezer, Rara, Rdio, Slacked, and Google Play Music), the real value here is that Spotify is a pioneer in the music streaming marketplace. They were around when digital music rights found a compromise that reduced the amount of illegal downloading by arranging a price-point that was agreeable to consumers and musicians alike.

Wiht a $10CAD monthly fee, subscribers will enjoy full access to over 20 million songs (if you don’t mind having to listen to -terribly annoying- ads, you can listen to the same music catalog for free).

To help celebrate the launch, Spotify has created an ‘all Canadian’ playlist that features national music icons such as: Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Bryan Adams, Gordon Lightfoot, and (of course) Rush. It’s a slight bit cheesy, but at the same time I found it kind of hard to turn off.

Ready to give it a try? Download Spotify for Android now and start listening… legitimately! Once you dip your toes in the Spotify waters, it becomes pretty difficult to justify buying songs or albums ever again.

Spotify Music Streaming Service Available in Canada is a post from: Good e-Reader

Bookmate Launches eBook Subscription Service on Android and iOS


Russia boasts a rich literary culture, but is also besmirched with digital piracy of an unprecedented scale; that translates to substantially less cash inflow to the publishers who are on the fence about investing in eBooks. This might change, due to Russian startup Bookmate releasing new apps for Android and iOS that promotes the whole Netflix for eBooks concept.

James Appell, head of global development at Bookmate said that his company used to focus primarily on Russia, Turkey, Nigeria, Pakistan, India and the Philippines. The company has since expanded their portfolio and is now offering English titles to the UK, US and Canada.

The app's features include a social feed, which allows users to follow their friends, favorite authors and celebrities who are also on Bookmate, and share the books they love and passages via  Russian social network VKontakte, Twitter and Facebook. It also allows you to upload  your own eBooks in EPUB or PDF format directly to your library and use the app just to read your content.

There are currently 500,000 titles on the Bookmate subscription service and they boast a loyal user base of 1.5 million. It costs a paltry $5.00 a month to opt into Bookmate, which is why they have grown and expanded so quickly.

Download Bookmate for Android from the Good e-Reader App Store.

Bookmate Launches eBook Subscription Service on Android and iOS is a post from: Good e-Reader

Collect ‘Em All in Pokemon Trading Card Game for iOS


The Pokémon Trading Card Game Online for iPad and iPad mini is a free release app available now. Based entirely on the existing PC and Mac version of the game, fans of the Pokemon franchise will enjoy choosing between playing against the computer or other online opponents (of course you can always still purchase physical Pokemon cards).

When you begin playing the game you can choose between Grass, Fire, or Water decks –from there you can expand your personal collection by earning cards, opening booster packs, and trading with other players… all in an effort to build the perfect deck! The interactive features are nice, but my favourite part is the ability to truly customize every aspect of the game: change the look of your cards, deck boxes, and avatar.

Whether you feel like reminiscing and spending time with your favourite Pokemon, or you’d like to give the game a try for the first time now –download a copy of Pokemon TCG Online for your iPad.

Unfortunately for Android users, there is no word on when a compatible version may be available.

Collect ‘Em All in Pokemon Trading Card Game for iOS is a post from: Good e-Reader

New York Times Slashes 100 Jobs Due to the Floundering of their Apps


The New York Times is sacking 100 positions in the news room due to the tepid customer response to all of the new apps the Times has released. The reductions are intended to safeguard the newspaper's long-term profitability.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the newspaper's publisher, and Mark Thompson, its chief executive, said that in addition to the job cuts, NYT Opinion, a mobile app dedicated to opinion content, was shutting down because it was not attracting enough subscribers.  The Times is also phasing out NYT Now, a new app aimed at younger readers it had not proved as popular as they had hoped.

One of the bright spots on the wide array of apps the Time releases is NYT Cooking.  It does not charge users for a subscription, but instead is trying to build a large audience before asking readers to pay.  Two weeks after its official launch, the product had more than a million unique visitors.

"They are all experiments, which we are determined to treat as such: to learn, pivot and, where necessary, make prompt decisions about them," the announcement said. "We believe that this process of exploration and experimentation is essential to future growth at The New York Times and we will continue to support and fund it."

The New York Times currently has 800,000 to 900,000 subscribers with their newspapers and entire line of apps. Back in June they had 831,000 paying online readers to its main online digital newspaper subscription service.

New York Times Slashes 100 Jobs Due to the Floundering of their Apps is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kobo Aura H20 Available Today


The new Kobo Aura H2O is now available in Canada at major bookstores such as Chapters and Indigo. Americans who have pre-ordered it from the main Kobo website have their units shipped out today and international markets will be getting it soon.

Kobo has an obsession on what constitutes the perfect e-reading experience and they have been feverishly working towards this ideal. They have slowly been evolving their product line to fall in line with the quintessential five B's of bookselling; Bath, Backyard, Bedroom, Bus and Beach.

The brand new Kobo Aura H2O e-Reader is the most complete device the Toronto based company has ever released. It was designed to be able be completely submerged in five meters of water, for up to fifty minutes, which finally allows users to safely read in the bath and beach.

We spoke to Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn in prelude to the formal unveiling and he mentioned that "The H2O follows the same design principles of the Kobo Aura. When the Aura first came out we expected that the premium 6.8 inch screen would only account for 2% of our companies sales, and within a few months it captured 25%. We are hoping to replicate the success of the Aura with the H2O, which is slimmer, lighter and can be used on vacations."

Are you intending on purchasing the Kobo Aura H2O? We have done extensive videos documenting the entire e-reader and what it is capable of. Check out the unboxing, review, underwater test and eBook loading tutorials below.

Kobo Aura H20 Available Today is a post from: Good e-Reader

iPad Air 2 to have a Gold Color Option


The Apple iPad Air 2 is planned to be unveiled sometime in October and users will have a new color option aside from the standard silver and space gray variations, gold. The new option would bring the iPad up to color parity with its iPhone models, which have been offered in three colors since the iPhone 5S came out last year.

RBC  Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani said “Apple has used color to goose sales of products many times in the past, starting with the introduction of candy-colored iMacs in 1999. The strategy has had varied levels of success. Sales of the iPhone 5c, a lower-end model introduced in 2013 that came in a range of bright colors, were disappointing.”

Sales of the iPad have declined for the past two quarters after soaring from $5 billion when the product was introduced in 2010 to $30 billion in 2012. Last year, iPad sales produced $32 billion.

Whenever any new iPad is released, it sells like gangbusters for the first six months, as Apple rolls it out to international markets. The new color option might not appeal to everyone, but if you already have a gold iPhone, it might make sense to purchase the same color for the iPad Air 2.

iPad Air 2 to have a Gold Color Option is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kindle First Launches in the United Kingdom

kindle first

Kindle First has just launched in the United Kingdom and this Amazon program gives bookworms the ability to read eBooks before they are formally released.

Every month the Amazon Publishing editors will select four books, letting you pick the one you want to read before its official release date. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account you will still be able to select one of the featured books each month, and you’ll be able to buy it for just £0.99.

The eBooks in this program can be read on your Kindle e-Reader or any device that has the Kindle app installed, such as a tablet or smartphone. The books available this month cover a wide array of genres, such as Thriller, Mystery, Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction.  The eBooks available for October are;   The Cradle by Louise Voss and Mark Edwards, The Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning, The Fallow Season of Hugo Hunter by Craig Lancaster and My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni.

Kindle First Launches in the United Kingdom is a post from: Good e-Reader

Fresh Model B stock in production

When we announced the launch of the Model B+ back in July, we emphasized that we’d be keeping the Model B in production. Since then, we’ve been (pleasantly) surprised by the ongoing demand for Model B from industrial customers, and a couple of weeks ago some tens of thousands of new units started to roll off the line at the Sony plant in Wales.

Boards going through automount

Boards going through automount

Completed six-up panels ready for testing

Completed six-up panels ready for testing

A Model B in its test jig

A Model B in its test jig

Packaged units, ready to ship to element14

Packaged units, ready to ship to element14

There’s still a substantial order backlog, but you can pre-order units from element14 here.

5 easy ways to introduce new users to your digital library

September was Library Card Sign-Up Month, which means that you may have some patrons in your library with shiny new library cards. Now is a great time to introduce those fresh faces to your digital collection! Here are five tips for a great new-user experience:

1) Make your eBooks easy to find: Add a link to your digital library from your main library website, catalog and social media accounts. You can add a simple text link or better yet, hyperlink an image like one of the many web graphics available in the Partner Portal.


2) Integrate your digital titles into your catalog: Explore the MARC record options, including MARC Express (free minimum MARC records) to make your digital titles easily discoverable for patrons browsing your catalog. For the tech-savvy, check out OverDrive APIs to find new ways to build solutions to connect users with digital media content anywhere and everywhere.

3) Send a quick, visual email: A picture is worth a thousand words, the old adage says, and a visual eye-catching email may grab the attention of your new users better than a block of text. Copy this OverDrive Announcement image into the body of an email, add a hyperlink to your OverDrive-powered website, and send to your new library card holders.

4) Share samples of popular eBooks: Library patrons that haven't visited your OverDrive-powered site might not realize the great variety of new releases, classics and range of subjects in your digital collection. Highlight some of your favorites and popular picks with Readbox on your library homepage, blog, Facebook or Twitter. These embedded samples can showcase your digital titles in a new way and encourages users to check out the book to keep reading!

5) Host library training classes: Encourage users to bring their devices and help guide them through getting started with your digital collection. The Learning Center has templates to help host a training and popular Getting Started and device specific how-to guides that you can print and distribute at the event.


Need help or have questions? Contact your Account Specialist. Remember that you can always find your OverDrive team contact information in Marketplace, under the Support tab.

Melissa Marin is a Marketing Specialist at OverDrive.

Simpsons Fans Brace for the Greatest App of All Time


The Simpsons have managed to enjoy more success than any other sitcom on television, boasting 522 episodes that span over 25 seasons. In October, any fan with a cable package (important, because the show is still on the air) should turn their attention to an app due to be delivered by FXX accurately titled: The Simpsons World. Users of the app will be thrilled to discover they can stream any episode from the entire series library on any device –while also being able to browse shows, find popular quotes (using a database created by collecting text from closed captioning and imported episode scripts), and share memorable clips.

If you have seen more than a few episodes of The Simpsons, you will already be aware that the characters defy most of the laws of physics: nobody really ages (or dies, for the most part). This is why John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks and FX Productions was particularly excited, explaining that the non-linear rights they acquired for the show are revolutionary. What does it mean for fans? You can watch whatever episodes you want, in whatever order you want (paying no heed to the original broadcast order).

Not sure where to start? Every time you launch the app, a random episode will begin to play (which the execs enjoy, noting this behaviour “mimics the kind of serendipitous way one might stumble upon any Simpsons episode in syndication on any given night on television”).

What excites me most are the themed playlists included in the app –each one celebrating classic characters or holiday seasons. A scheduled update to the app is reading for January, 2015 that promises to allow for custom playlists… so soon you can pull together your own must-see favourites!

If you aren’t an FXX subscriber, you can still download the app and enjoy an endless supply of clips –but you won’t be able to get any further than browsing the full episodes.

This app is exciting for an additional reason: it may just change the way this kind of content is handled in the digital world. Do you have a beloved show that you hope will be handled in an app of this type?

Simpsons Fans Brace for the Greatest App of All Time is a post from: Good e-Reader

Findway World Attains $500, 000 Contract from the US Air Force for New e-Reader


Findaway World made international headlines when they secured a massive contract with the US Navy back in March. They basically developed a super locked down e-reader with no WIFI, touchscreen or USB connection. The content was preloaded in the factory and came with thousands of eBooks and audiobooks. The Navy was very happy to get their crewmen reading in the downtime and the US Air Force has just awarded Findaway World with a $500,000 contract for their own e-reader.

The US Air Force wanted a new e-reader and Findaway World was the only vendor they were in negations with. They were looking for a secure non-web based e-reader, that disallowed the ability to access operating system, make changes, delete or add titles. They also wanted 200 pre-loaded e-books from a variety of sources, such as New York Times best seller lists, large publishers, and small or university presses. The mandate was for an eclectic collections for fiction, non-fiction and educational titles.
Findaway World fit the bill because their NERD e-reader does not have the ability to add/delete content once the eBooks are loaded onto the device.

Likely the same e-reader the Navy got is the same version the US Air Force will end up getting, the only content that will change are the eBooks.

Findway World Attains $500,000 Contract from the US Air Force for New e-Reader is a post from: Good e-Reader

A Closer Look at Google Classroom


Announced earlier this year, Classroom rounds out the free suite of tools provided within Google Apps for Education. Intended to behave as a sort of portal for Google Docs, Drive, and Gmail, Classroom aims to help teachers “create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and communicate with their classes with ease.”

There is little question that technology is a necessary companion to a modern education, but finding the proper fit is a significant challenge. Google isn’t the first organization to offer a suite of educational support apps, but they may be among the most likely to succeed –if for no other reason than they are a known-brand with a familiar suite of tools.

Classroom boasts a feature-set that is hard to resist, including:

  • Easy Configuration and Set-Up – Teachers can add students manually, or choose to share a code with their class that allows everyone to join.
  • Save Time – By making assignments paperless, the process of reviewing and grading each one is faster and easier.
  • Improved Organization – Students are able to see their outstanding homework assignments at a glance, in a single location, with the required reference materials easily accessible.
  • Open and Enhanced Communication – Classroom makes it easy for students to ask questions and read important announcements.
  • Value – Free to schools, Classroom contains no ads.
  • Secure – Google promises that content and student data will never be used for advertising purposes.

When all of these things combine to make Classroom seem a little too good to be true, the only way to give it proper consideration is to evaluate the opinions, experience, and concerns being publicly expressed:

Concern Consideration Result
Outsourcing vs. In-House Though it is the subject of great debate, it seems that the IT departments at most schools lack the skills and available cycles to adequately create and support a custom suite of educational apps. To this end, subscribing to an external system makes good sense. With considerable competition for the dollars invested in education, desire to have complete control over these kinds of tools needs to be weighed against the availability of services like Classroom that may not be custom but should be considered good enough.
Data Storage Overwhelmingly, the idea of educational data storage is uncharted territory. Everybody agrees in principle that the security of student data is critical, but few can agree on the best way to ensure its security. While many believe that schools housing their own data is the only reasonable choice, many experts suggest that the IT expertise available with organizations like Google may offer superior protection.
Ongoing Support When schools relinquish control over their educational systems, they are at the mercy of outside organizations. If a software vendor goes out of business or decides to sunset an application suite, little can be done. While Google has a history of abandoning projects that no longer entertain them, it seems unlikely that they would sacrifice an entire educational initiative without careful thought and planning. It should also be understood that no solution is future proof: developers that work on custom in-house projects leave or retire, third-party software vendors go out of business or sunset application suites and cease their support, and technology changes… consider that 5-6 years ago, universities would have placed their entire mobile focus on BlackBerry devices.
Registration Using Classroom requires that each participating student has an account with Google. While it may seem like cause for concern, use of any system would require an account of one sort of another (along with the acceptance of a corresponding ‘Terms of Service’ agreement). It could be argued that Google’s agreements are publicly available and therefore quite transparent.
Compatibility Organizations are overwhelmingly BYOD (bring your own device). Students and their families are no different. This is one area where Classroom is likely to be the undisputed leader. Google is well-used to the challenges that accompany being cross-platform while accommodating a wide variety of laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Learning Curve Students have enough difficulty learning the material covered by the curriculum, let alone needing to understand how to use the technology required to consume that information. Gmail is Gmail is Gmail. By using already-familiar Google tools and technologies, students and parents will enjoy a much shorter learning curve.
Cost Everybody loves a bargain, but those same people tend to misunderstand the difference between cost and worth. If the system is free, what’s in it for Google? Just like Apple’s strategy in the 1980’s, Google understands that families tend to be brand loyal –getting students on board, gets parents on board. This means more use of other Google products and services, including the sale of more Chromebooks and Nexus mobile devices.

Pilot projects have been running across North America to mainly rave reviews, but it shouldn’t be discounted that most schools test-driving Classroom haven’t worked with any competing service in the past. Also important is understanding that this is the first release –what is documented now as being underwhelming or simplistic should be seen as a basic foundation. What counts now is how Google moves forward: subsequent versions will need to respond to feature requests while maintaining stability and security.

Ultimately, only time will be able to tell if Classroom is a success. What can be said for certain is that Google is providing a viable solution for schools, teachers, and students… but they aren’t alone in this arena, Microsoft and Apple are also trying desperately to secure their own pieces of this emerging educational market (don’t forget: competition drives innovation).

A Closer Look at Google Classroom is a post from: Good e-Reader