Thursday, October 2, 2014

Facebook Lets Developers Add Like Buttons to Apps


Facebook is becoming an integral part of our lives, so much so that when we see or achieve anything of merit (no matter how that is perceived or determined), we immediately reach for the ‘Like button’. Earlier this year, iOS developers were given the ability to add Facebook like buttons directly into their apps –and now Android developers have been extended the same functionality (or courtesy, when you consider both platforms should be seen as equally important to the social media giant).

The way it works is simple: when the famous button is integrated into a mobile app, clicking it will allow the logged in user to Like any piece of content.

Facebook’s recommendation is that developers add Like buttons in places that advertise achievements or levels of engagement, but how they are used is really entirely up to the individual.

You may want to exercise a little caution if you are the logged in user but you let your kids play on your mobile devices… you never know what you might end up liking!

Facebook Lets Developers Add Like Buttons to Apps is a post from: Good e-Reader

White BlackBerry Passport Available in November


Blackberry has experienced tremendous success with their first truly unique smartphone. The Blackberry Passport was sold out within hours on Amazon and the main Blackberry website, selling 200,000 when it was all said and done. The only color right now is black, but the phone will be available next month in white.

Blackberry is one of those companies that never take risks on colors. They have only ever released black phones and in recent years they have taken to issuing white editions. In some rare cases there is carrier exclusives that are available limited quantities, such as red and pink.

Likely, the white variant of the Blackberry Passport will be issued about the same time the new Classic phone is unveiled next month.

White BlackBerry Passport Available in November is a post from: Good e-Reader

New $79 Kindle First Impressions Review

Amazon’s latest entry-level, basic, 7th generation, $79—whatever you want to call it—Kindle was released today. Amazon refers to the new device simply as “Kindle”. After all these years the word is so common it could be used in a number of different contexts, so that doesn’t help give it much of an identity. Quite frankly […]

Kindle Writeon Author Community is Doomed from the Start


Amazon has just launched the beta version of a new author service called Kindle Writeon. The premise of the program is to establish a writing community where authors can solicit feedback on the plot and get assistance on fixing up spelling, grammatical errors or just get some research tips. It seems as though Amazon wants to cannibalize Kindle Boards and do battle against the biggest community of all, Wattpad.

Wattpad is an extremely successful digital publishing site that somehow doesn’t seem to get as much press as other well-known names like Smashwords, yet the company has 11 million monthly readers. Wattpad authors post their stories in a format that can be read on a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Perhaps most importantly, Wattpad stories can be read on java-based "feature phones" and as such have a huge readership base in third world countries. Wattpad is a very social site, in that readers can collect stories into reading lists, vote for their favorites, and share and comment with friends and writers.  Unlike some other self-publishing sites, Wattpad works well with short stories stories and novellas, as opposed to full length-books.

According to the Wattpad site, readers spend 2 billion minutes on Wattpad every month and more than 500 writers have published pieces that have been read more than a million times. There are over 5 million stories, in 25 languages, on the site. The Toronto-based company has received over $20 million in funding from Khosla Ventures, Union Square Ventures, OMERS Ventures, W Media Ventures, and Golden Venture Partners, and has attracted such famous authors as Margaret Atwood.

Amazon really wants to leverage their expansive Kindle Direct Publishing system in order to create a writing community. Authors simply post their books, whether its complete or a work in progress. Some authors are looking for specific areas of research, such as the accuracy of the inner circle of the Ottoman Empire, others are looking for everything such as  “Character, Overall, Setting, Proofreading, Voice/Tone, Plot.”

The entire system looks more like a dedicated blog post,than an established writing community. Authors can setup profiles, activity feeds, status updates and respond to user comments. Readers can keep tabs on the book by clicking the Like or Follow button and get notified whenever new interactions are made.

Kindle Writeon is in Beta and does not have many users right now. Many of the books on the front page have zero comments, likes and follows. The cover art on the average title is abysmal and I seriously doubt this program will take off. Amazon has a bad habit of trying to destroy their competition by releasing new services that nobody uses. If Amazon cannot buy a company, they just develop their own program to compete directly with it, no matter how haphazard the execution is.

An example of Amazons flawed attack strategy is summed up with Kindle Worlds. This was their attempt at sanctioned fan-fiction, that had publisher support and major intellectual properties attached, such as HASBRO and properties such as Pretty Little Liars. The problem is, hardly any books are being posted and not many users are buying in. posts 100 new stories every hour across all categories. And Amazon? Its entire output for all 24 "Worlds" of content, which also includes franchises like Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries, was just 538 stories over the course of more than a year.

Why has Kindle Worlds failed so spectacularly? The problem is the creative limits that brand owners impose on the use of their work. In the case of G.I. Joe, for instance, the villain can't wear a Yankees cap. Characters in other works can't use drugs or employ profane language. And gay, bisexual or deviant sexual behavior might be off-limits too. Amazon also discourages anyone from under the age of 18 from contributing content, as they are too young to enter a contract, and this age group is the most prolific when it comes to content.

I would chalk this “community” by Amazon has a lost cause right from the start and refuse to cover it anymore in the future. It might be quaint in the beta format right now, but how long is it going to take before the legions of established self-published authors abuse this community by artificial likes, comments and feedback, driving their title to the front-page? Amazon authors have a notorious history of gaming the system and doing anything within their power to standout in a crowded arena.

In the meantime, you can check out and use the code X9RJTE9H to get in.

Kindle Writeon Author Community is Doomed from the Start is a post from: Good e-Reader

New $79 Kindle and Fire HD Tablets Arrive Today

The first wave of Amazon’s new Kindle lineup for this year officially gets released today. Pre-orders have started shipping and devices are listed as “In Stock” and are available for immediate shipping. The early release models include the new $79 Kindle Touch and both Fire HD 6 and Fire HD 7 tablets in black. The […]

Weekly eHighlights: adult edition

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The Usual Suspects: Guaranteed Bestsellers



David Bezmozgis – The Betrayers
Hachette eBook and Blackstone audiobook

When Patrick Norris returns from the horrors in Afghanistan excited about his new freedom and ready to start a business, he finds that the California ranch his family has owned for generations has been destroyed by a wildfire and his parents are facing ruin. One of the 25 Most Anticipated Canadian Books of 2014.


Paolo Giordano – The Human Body
Penguin eBook and Books on Tape audiobook read by Edoardo Ballerini

From the bestselling author of The Solitude of Prime Numbers, comes his next novel about a platoon of young men and one woman soldier who leave Italy for Afghanistan. Each handles the mix of boredom and fear in his or her own way. When a mission goes awry, they find their lives changed in an instant.


Grady Hendrix РHorrorsțr
Random House eBook and Blackstone audiobook read by Tai Sammons

This one is a staff favorite here at OverDrive. Something very strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning employees find smashed furnishings, but the security cameras show nothing. Three brave employees volunteer to stay overnight. Let the horrors begin! Kirkus said: "A treat for fans of The Evil Dead or Zombieland, complete with affordable solutions for better living.” Made to look like an Ikea catalog.


Ann Leckie – Ancillary Sword
Hachette eBook

The sequel to Ancillary Justice, which won the Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus, and Arthur C. Clarke Awards!


David Liss – The Day of Atonement
Random House eBook

Liss writes page turning tremendously smart historical thrillers with appealing characters. This one is set during the Inquisition, when a thirteen-year-old boy must flee for his life. After ten years in exile, he's ready for vengeance. Liss has won the Barry, Macavity, and Edgar awards.


J. Lynn – Stay with Me
HarperCollins eBook and audiobook read by Sophie Eastlake

Jennifer Armentrout also writes under the name of J. Lynn, and the #1 NY Times bestselling author of Wait for You and Be with Me is back with the story of twenty-one-year-old Calla, who has never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never even been to an amusement park. She has built a safe cocoon to protect herself from her strung-out mother. Now the cocoon is shattered, as she finds out that her mother has not only stolen her college money, but has run up credit card debts in her name.


Caitlin Moran – How to Build a Girl
HarperCollins eBook and Harper audiobook read by Louise Brealey

What do you do in your teenage years when you realize what your parents taught you was not enough? Build yourself by using books and poetry and songs and bad heroes. In 1990, Johanna Morrigan shames herself badly on local TV, and decides to reinvent herself. The publisher says "Imagine The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease."


Jason Mott – The Wonder of All Things
Harlequin eBook

By the author of the NY Times bestselling and critically acclaimed debut novel The Returned. At an air show a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators, and a thirteen-year-old girl is forced to share the gift that she has kept secret—she can heal people. Now the whole world is flocking to her door.


Jess Row – Your Face in Mine
Penguin eBook and Dreamscape audiobook read by Zach Villa

Kelly Thorndike is greeted by an African American man he doesn't recognize. It turns out to be his high school friend Martin, who when Kelly knew him, was a skinny Jewish kid. Martin has had "racial reassignment surgery." Now he wants to reveal his identity and ignite a controversy that will help sell this surgery to the world. Row is one of Granta's Best Young American Novelists and a Pushcart and PEN/O. Henry Prize winner. io9: All the Essential Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Coming in 2014


Garth Stein – A Sudden Light
Simon & Schuster eBook and audiobook read by Seth Numrich

When fourteen-year-old Trevor goes with his father to visit the mansion built by his great-great-grandfather, he begins to suspect that there's a soul in the mansion that wants it to be returned to nature. By the author of The Art of Racing in the Rain. Booklist starred review.


Chrysler Szarlan – The Hawley Book of the Dead
Random House eBook

This debut novel has received a starred review from Booklist and lots of advance praise using words like "haunting," "scintillating," "enthralling." Billed as a must read for those who loved The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and A Discovery of Witches. Reve and her husband are world famous illusionists, but when an intruder switches out her trick pistol, she accidentally shoots her beloved husband onstage. When she goes home to the old farmhouse that's been in the family for centuries, she finds an ancient leather bound journal which seems to hold magical powers.


Merritt Tierce – Love Me Back
Random House eBook

Based loosely on the author's own life (Tierce was headed to Yale when she found out she was pregnant and returned home to waitress), this book follows Marie, who manages to get a job at a steakhouse, but succumbs to drugs and alcohol. Tierce was named a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree last year, and is also a Rona Jaffe Award winner.


Sarah Waters – The Paying Guests
Penguin eBook & Books on Tape audiobook read by Juliet Stevenson

Set in 1922 London where ex-servicemen are disillusioned, people are out of work and hungry, and a genteel widow and her spinster daughter are obliged to take in lodgers who shake up their household. The latest book by the bestselling Waters, who has been short listed for the Man Booker Prize three times, a two-time Orange Prize finalist, and one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. The Independent Best of 2014 Books.




Paul M. Barrett – Law of the Jungle: The $19 Billion Legal Battle Over Oil in the Rain Forest and the Lawyer Who'd Stop at Nothing to Win
Random House eBook and Books on Tape audiobook read by Joe Ochman

An almost unbelievable tale: the human rights attorney who filed suit in 1993 against Chevron on behalf of a group of powerless Ecuadorian Indians who sought recovery for the environmental devastation of their jungle region, was every bit as sleazy as the multinational he was suing. The legal battle goes on, and Barrett of Bloomberg BusinessWeek doesn't let Chevron off the hook either. Kirkus and Library Journal starred reviews.


Hunter Davies – The Beatles Lyrics: The Stories Behind the Music, Including the Handwritten Drafts
Hachette eBook

Just read the title–enough said!


Lena Dunham – Not That Kind of Girl
Random House eBook and Books on Tape audiobook read by the author

This book will be huge! Lena Dunham, the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO's Girls has written a collection of essays reminiscet of Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, and David Sedaris.


Francis Fukuyama – Political Order and Political Decay
Macmillan eBook

The first volume of this work was called "a major achievement by one of the leading public intellectuals of our time" by the New York Times Book Review. In this, the second volume, Fukuyama covers the period from the Industrial Revolution to today and takes up the question of how societies develop strong and accountable political institutions. A major intellectual achievement destined to be a classic.


Gabrielle Giffords & Mark Kelly – Enough: Our Fight to Keep America Safe from Gun Violence
Simon & Schuster eBook and audiobook read by Mark Kelly

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband astronaut Mark Kelly share their passion for responsible gun ownership after the 2011 Tucson shooting that nearly took her life.


Bob Herbert – Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America
Random House eBook and Books on Tape audiobook read by the author

Longtime NY Times columnist Bob Herbert filed his last column in 2011 and set off on a journey across the country to report on Americans who were being left behind in an economy that hasn't fully recovered from the Great Recession. Here are portraits of some of the people he met. Herbert traces where we went wrong and spotlights the dangerous shift of political power from ordinary Americans to the corporate and financial elite.


Walter Isaacson – The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
Simon & Schuster eBook

Isaacson is back after his blockbuster bestseller about Steve Jobs with a biographical look at the pioneers of the computer and the internet. Beginning with Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron's daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s, he goes on to cover other innovators such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Tim Berners-Lee and more.


Nicholas D. Kristoff & Sheryl WuDunn – A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity
Random House eBook and Books on Tape audiobook read by Oliva Wilde

From the husband and wife authors of the #1 bestselling Half the Sky, this book is a deep examination of people who are making the world a better place, and how we can support them.


Mario Lopez – Just Between Us
Penguin eBook and Books on Tape audiobook

Hard to believe that A. C. Slater of Saved by the Bell is turning forty, but he is, and Mario Lopez shares with wit and candor his successes and disappointments in the entertainment business and how his tight-knit family has helped keep him grounded.


Andrea Martin – Lady Parts
HarperCollins eBook

Andrea Martin, one of the funniest women in Canada, shares her remembrances of a life in show business, family, motherhood, relationships, and why she flies to Atlanta to get her hair cut!


John C. Maxwell – Good Leaders Ask Great Questions
Hachette eBook and audiobook read by the author

Bestselling business expert Maxwell is back with a book examining how the right questions can be used to advantage. Every leader has room to grow, and Maxwell gives great advice.

Walter Mischel – The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control
Hachette eBook

Mischel is a renowned psychologist famous for designing the marshmallow test: A child is presented with a marshmallow and given a choice: Eat this one now, or wait and enjoy two later. After following the children faced with this test over many years, we see that self-control and the ability to delay gratification are critical for a successful life.


Randall Munroe – What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt eBook and Blackstone audiobook read by Wil Wheaton

From the creator of the wildly popular web comic xkcd. Munroe uses stick figures and scientific knowledge to give hilarious, but true answers to questions like "How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?" Munroe actually runs computer simulations and pores over research to come up with good answers—though they often end with a prediction of the annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion.


Jenny Nordberg – The Underground Girls of Kabul
Random House eBook and Books on Tape audiobook read by Kirsten Potter

Investigative journalist Nordberg explores the history and reality of an enduring Afghani custom called the bacha posh—girls who dress and pass as boys. These young girls are usually members of families in which the only children are girls, and they live as boys as long as the community goes along with it or the lie holds—usually until adolescence. She profiles several girls to highlight their struggles in a society where women have few rights. Booklist and Publishers Weekly starred reviews.


Leon Panetta – Worthy Fights
Penguin eBook and Books on Tape audiobook read by the author

The autobiography of a man with a stellar career in public service. Panetta was an army officer, a respected member of Congress, Clinton's budget czar and White House Chief of Staff. He then "retired," but worked with his wife on a charity, became a member of the Iraq Study Group, and eventually became the director of the CIA, and after the death of Osama bin Laden, he became the US Secretary of Defense. A great political memoir.


Terry Pratchett, foreword by Neil Gaiman – A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction
Random House eBook and Books on Tape audiobook read by Michael Fenton Stevens

A collection of the finest nonfiction from throughout Sir Terry Pratchett's career. Since he is now suffering from Alzheimer's disease, this may be some of the last of his work that we see.


Carlos Santana – The Universal Tone
Hachette eBook

The long-awaited autobiography of a musical legend.


Sheila Weller – The News Sorority: Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour—and the (Ongoing, Imperfect, Complicated) Triumph of Women in TV News
Penguin eBook and Books on Tape audiobook read by Morgan Hallett

The author of Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, is back with the story of the long, lonely, and often ugly scramble to the top in television news.


Mandy Wiener & Barry Bateman – One Tragic Night: The Oscar Pistorius Murder Trial
Macmillan eBook

Don't miss this one, as Paralympic superstar athlete Pistorius is all over the news for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. South African journalists draw on evidence from the trial and interviews with family and friends of the couple to put together an authoritative account of what happened from the night of the killing to the controversial verdict.


Lawrence Wright – Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David
Random House eBook and Books on Tape audiobook read by Mark Bramhall

A dramatic day-by-day account of the famous 1978 Camp David conference when President Carter convinced Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to sign the first peace treaty in the Middle East—one that endures to this day.


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 *Geographical rights may vary by title.


Cindy Orr is a Digital Collection Advisor at OverDrive.

Kobo Aura H2O Now Available, Review Coming Soon!

As of yesterday, October 1st, the new Kobo Aura H2O ebook reader is now officially available for purchase online at and from some retail stores. In Canada, the Aura H2O is available from Indigo, Best Buy, and Future Shop. It’s also available in Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands from retailers on this list. In […]

Little Critter Library is a Kid’s eBook Subscription App for iOS

Oceanhouse Media recently launched an ebook subscription service designed for young children ages 2-5. The app is exclusive to iOS and grants access to a library of Little Critter ebooks by Mercer Mayer. The app is called Little Critter Library and is available in the Apple app store. The books are fully interactive storybooks. Interactive […]

Open-source syringe pump

If you’re unlucky enough to have required precise, timed doses of drugs through an IV in hospital; or if you’ve worked in a lab where controlled amounts of chemicals have needed to be added to an experiment on schedule, you’ll be intimately familiar with syringe pumps. They look like this.

syringe pump

And they’re expensive. The one in the picture above, which was the cheapest I could find (in an admittedly very quick and dirty Googling session) costs $750. As with a lot of specialised scientific equipment, that means that it’s difficult for hospitals with restricted incomes, or for labs with a lot of overheads, to get their hands on as many as they need for their work. This applies to cash-strapped university departments and hospitals in your town every bit as much as it applies to organisations in the developing world: equipment like this can be prohibitively costly wherever you are.

Joshua Pearce led a team of graduates and undergraduates from Michigan Tech‘s Open Sustainability Technology Lab in a project that intended to do something about that. They have created an open-source, 3D-printed syringe pump that can be made for a fraction of the cost of existing pumps, using an off-the-shelf motor and bearings, which is driven by a Raspberry Pi. The whole system comes in at about $50: that’s a fifteenth the price of the pump in the picture above, and it performs exactly the same task, in exactly the same way.

open syringe pump

The plastic parts are made with a 3D printer; a Raspberry Pi acts as a control and calibration unit.

Megan Frost is a biological researcher at Michigan Tech, who has been using the open-source syringe pump in her work with cell cultures. She says:

"What's beautiful about what Joshua is doing is that it lets us run three or four experiments in parallel, because we can get the equipment for so much less," she said. "We'd always wanted to run experiments concurrently, but we couldn't because the syringe pumps cost so much. This has really opened doors for us."

Cost can be a devastating barrier to entry to the sciences, and for basic health needs like pharmaceuticals delivery. One of the things we were trying to address when we created the Pi was the high cost of computing. We’re strong believers in democratising access to technology, and this project’s a perfect example of how to do that.

Scribd Now Offers 15,00 eBooks by Harlequin


Scribd has just signed new deal with Harlequin for 15,000 eBook titles from Harlequin's extensive backlist. Titles from a variety of Harlequin imprints, including Harlequin Series Romance, HQN Books, MIRA Books and Carina Press, will be available through Scribd's $8.99 monthly subscription service.

Readers will benefit from this new deal and be able to devour some good books by Debbie Macomber, Robyn Carr, Susan Wiggs, Heather Graham and Shannon Stacey. Scribd will also be making the full Harlequin catalog available for individual purchase in the Scribd retail store.

Scribd now offers over 500,000 eBook titles from major publishers such as Simon and Schuster . They also have signed on deals with Wiley, Smashwords and Lonely Planet.

Scribd Now Offers 15,00 eBooks by Harlequin is a post from: Good e-Reader