Sunday, November 2, 2014

Libraries Embrace Tablets over e-Readers


A few years ago there was a dream where thousands of libraries all over the US and Canada would be able to loan out e-readers to patrons, in addition to eBooks. The stark truth is a rude awakening, as only 32% of libraries have one in circulation, which is a decrease of 7% last year.

Library Journal in conjunction with Freading issued their annual  Ebook Usage in U.S. Public Libraries report. They spoke to 538 libraries all over the US and apparently tablets and smartphones are replacing e-readers. 13% of respondents said that their library had plans to acquire more dedicated e-readers, and 17% said that they planned to replace broken device.  55% said they have no plans to invest in dedicated readers anymore.

2014 was the first year ever that tablets truly overtook dedicated e-readers as the device of choice to borrow audiobooks, newspapers, magazines and eBooks. 84% of respondents said that their library's patrons were using tablets such as the Apple iPad, Kindle Fire, or Google Nexus tablets, while 78% said that patrons were using dedicated e-reader devices such as  the Kindle,  Kobo or Nook. This compares to 66% who said patrons were using tablets for eBooks in 2012, and 90% who said patrons were using dedicated e-readers.

"Tablets will likely continue to take over, as they can access a wider variety of content, from ebooks to streaming video, to music, to audiobooks, to the Internet in general," the report notes. "The killer app for the earliest dedicated ereaders like the Kindle was the reflective display which was 'as easy to read as paper.' Well, these days, people are more used to reading on screens than on paper, and backlit screens have improved so that older eyes can read even smartphone screens with minimal squinting."

Libraries Embrace Tablets over e-Readers is a post from: Good e-Reader

Going Mobile with Apple Pay: Do You Still Need a Card Reader?


With the recent introduction of mobile pay services like Apple Pay and its premature competitor, Wal-Mart Stores' CurrentC, many small business owners have found themselves wondering if it's time to start investing in technology a little further from the norm, albeit based in a near field. NFC technology could make purchases smoother and quicker than ever, but don't toss your Square card reader in the bin just yet.

Mobile Pay Options and Support

According to professionals at Business Insider, mobile pay services like Apple Pay could effectively "kill" the credit card. They're easier, more secure for the most part, harder to steal, and allow shoppers to feel like the future has finally arrived. However, right now the technology is facing a number of issues. The largest of these is the lack of support from both retailers and banks nationwide: Apple Pay is still new to the scene, so a lack of support from these banks makes some sense, but lack of retailer support is particularly troubling. This doesn't mean that a particular store doesn't want to accept Apple payments specifically; it means that they aren't accepting any NFC payments at all. While this is likely to change over time—Google Wallet has already helped to alleviate a great deal of concerns, as most users trust the big G at least as much as the father of the Mac—the chances of NFC payment technology hitting the mainstream within the next five years or so are looking grim.

Another issue is specific to Apple Pay, and is part of the age old OS war. Apple Insider reported some impressive figures in January 2014 for iPhone use, claiming that up to 42 percent of all smartphone owners were using an iPhone, but that still leaves the majority running a system incompatible with Apple Pay altogether. Android users can take advantage of Google Wallet, but if banks continue to pick and choose which mobile payment systems they'll accept, then there will always be a gap somewhere. Are consumers going to change banks if they can't use their iPhone or Droid in place of a credit card with their current financial institution? Not likely.

This doesn’t mean Apple Pay and Google Wallet are dead in the water, of course. Google Wallet has been around long enough to become fairly trusted, and that trust is growing. The addition of an Apple-friendly equivalent is sure to help speed along universal NFC payment support in large businesses. Surprisingly, however, the most support may actually come from smaller retailers.

Small Businesses Getting In On the Ground Floor

One of the most prominent small business retail solutions online today, Shopify, recently announced that they would be soon be rolling out support for Apple Pay for their iPad-based POS systems. This could change the game for mobile payment options—if the small business world rushes to support NFC payments before the big box conglomerates can catch up, large retailers will have no choice but to accept mobile payments or run the risk of being named "outdated." While mobile payments don't look like they'll become the norm until ten years or so in the future, a sea change like this could cut that timeframe by years, possibly even down to five years or less.

Does this mean small business owners should get ready to toss out their old-school card readers? Absolutely not. The National Federation of Independent Business reports that just under half of all small businesses accept credit card payments at all, and apparently they get along just fine. How is this possible in a world that runs on plastic? It's a loud testament to the continued use of more deprecated payment methods. The fact that so many small businesses get by without accepting credit means that there are still a great deal of consumers using cash and checks as payment methods. It's these consumers and entrepreneurs that will slow down the spread of Apple Pay and other mobile payment support options through the nation.

However, small businesses having the opportunity to take part in this financial tech revolution so early in the game is important specifically because so few of them accept the standard credit card payment, not in spite of the fact. This could enable small businesses still living without credit card processing to play leapfrog with payment methods and pass over standard credit processing altogether, resulting in a mass small business update nationwide.

Keep your standard credit card reader close at hand, but if NFC support comes knocking, entrepreneurs should be ready to answer the call. A technological shift like this could not only make shopping at small retailers more user-friendly than ever, it could change the way that banks view both small businesses and new payment processing methods. The fact is, the majority rules, so if you're ready to help bring small business transactions into the future, be ready to become part of the majority.

Going Mobile with Apple Pay: Do You Still Need a Card Reader? is a post from: Good e-Reader

The Wolf Among Us Now Available Outside of the Amazon Appstore


Telltale Games brought out The Wolf Among Us to Android over four months ago, but there was a catch: it was only available through the Amazon Appstore. Fortunately for Android users who choose not to deal with the Appstore, the game is no longer exclusive to Amazon. Built by the creators of The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us stars Bigby Wolf (described as the big and bad protagonist who is as much a man as he is a werewolf) who players can control by clicking on items and navigating conversations.

Playing the game reminds me of the old school Choose Your Own Adventure books, where the story is adapted based on the decisions you make. The graphics are really well done, but I do have a few complaints: much of the text on the screen is very low contrast (often seen in dark purples and reds against a dark or black background) and I found it very difficult to read quickly, the pause button is difficult to find in the top right of the screen, the dialogue is a little wordy and there are a lot of accents that get old fast, and apparently ‘silence is a valid option’ –so if you hesitate before making a decision, you can lose your opportunity!

Despite these downsides, the game itself is pretty entertaining and it’s worth checking out –especially if you enjoy dark storylines that encourage your participation.

If a little graphic violence will not scare you off, download The Wolf Among Us for your Android devices. The first episode is included, but you can purchase additional parts later if you find yourself immersed.

The Wolf Among Us Now Available Outside of the Amazon Appstore is a post from: Good e-Reader

Angry Birds Transformers Finally Available on Android


Just when you thought that the Angry Birds couldn’t get any cuter, Rovio dressed them up to look like your favourite characters from the Transformers franchise (think of Red as Optimus Prime and King Pig as Megatron, just for starters). Angry Birds Transformers was available for iOS a little while ago, and thankfully the wait is over for those of us using Android!

From the moment the intro begins playing, you are greeted with an animated sequence done in the same styles as the cartoons many of us will remember from our childhoods (a few decades ago, but who’s counting?)… though they are much more crisp, bright, and modern the moment things really get started.

Angry Birds Transformers isn’t what you are used to from previous Angry Birds games: this one is a side-scrolling, endless runner that pins the Autobirds against the Deceptihogs. Hitting targets quickly and accurately while you are in motion isn’t as easy as it sounds, but that just means you’re going to have to give this one a lot of practice. When you experience just how cute the graphics are in this game, and you get the hang of the 3D space you have to negotiate, you may even forget that there isn’t a slingshot to be seen!

Download Angry Birds Transformers for Android, and let me know if you like the direction Rovio took your favourite feathered friends. While you wait, take a look at the official launch trailer linked below.

Angry Birds Transformers Finally Available on Android is a post from: Good e-Reader

Star Wars Galactic Defense Joins Tower Defense Game Mania


If you’ve played any games on your mobile device, chances are you’ve touched on at least one tower defense title. They are addictive and fun, making them incredibly popular –so just imagine what happens when you combine them with a beloved franchise like Star Wars!

I’m pretty sure that the best part of the game is the way it begins, with the game details scrolling up the screen like the back-story given to us in the Star Wars movies (with a familiar dramatic musical score playing all the while). From there, you need to choose whether you want to play on the light (or dark) side, and head to Tatooine with your assigned champion (like Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, or Yoda –each with their own strengths and abilities). The rest of the game is pretty much the same old tower defense game you’ve played before, leaving you to figure our which turrets and upgrades will help you to conquer each level.

There is no shortage of Star Wars theme injected into this game, with trivia delivered while the game loads, familiar planets and landscapes, famous characters and their weapons, not to mention the sound effects heard in the background during 100 different battle scenarios!

A social component lets you connect with friends and exchange resources or compete in online events in an effort to earn yourself a spot on the leaderboard.

While you wait the few moments for Star Wars Galactic Defense to install, watch the official launch trailer included below.

Star Wars Galactic Defense Joins Tower Defense Game Mania is a post from: Good e-Reader

Kindle Voyage and Basic Touch are Incompatible with Active Content


Kindle Active Content is a fancy term Amazon uses to describe the games and apps designed to run e-readers. In 2010 Amazon introduced a section of their Kindle Store for games such as Chess, Hangman, and Jewels. It was designed to give people different things to do, other than reading books and newspapers on their e-readers. The problem was that Amazon never really promoted it and many users did not even know this platform existed. With the advent of the new Kindle Voyage and Basic Touch, Amazon has officially suspended support for Active Content.

Kindle Active Content did not have a dedicated section in the bookstore that is accessible on the e-readers. Instead, users had to find the web version and make purchases to send right to their devices. Hardly any of the apps were free and ranged in price from .99 to $5.99.  You have to remember that back in 2010 many people did not own tablets and the ones that were out had abysmal specs.

Amazon seems to have abandoned Active Content, the last new app to be added to the platform was back in 2012. Obviously with the rise of smartphones and tablets, there really isn’t a dire need anymore to run apps on an e-reader.

Kindle Voyage and Basic Touch are Incompatible with Active Content is a post from: Good e-Reader

Parable Books Closes Their Christian eBook Store


Parable Books has just closed their online digital bookstore and will no longer be selling eBooks. The Christian company has declared that their users had three days to backup their past purchases, so they can continue to read them on other devices, if you missed the October 31st cutoff, you are out of luck.

Parable is a brick and motor chain of Christian Book Stores and they experimented with eBooks two years ago. If a customer wanted to support their nearest location, they could buy eBooks and by using a special referral  code, the store would get a small commission.

If you are still looking for religious eBooks there are plenty of stores that still sell them Christianbook is one of the largest one that I know of and they are still in business. Lifeway sells ebooks and is a relatively big chain (and is the retail arm of B&H Publishing), but the digital content only works with their own apps. Also, a bunch of Christian publishers sell their own eBooks directly, though (Crossway, Ignatius Press, New Leaf Publishing.

The closure of Parable really drives home the fact that there is no clear path of ownership when you purchase eBooks. You are merely paying for a limited license that  could be suspended at any time. This is one of the pitfalls of purchasing eBooks, they can disappear at a moments notice.

Parable Books Closes Their Christian eBook Store is a post from: Good e-Reader

Skybrite Introduces Subscription Based Audiobook Service


People who love audiobooks are relegated to paying for each one individually and the average title ranges from $12.99 to $29.99. A new subscription based audio service is breaking the mold by Skybrite, giving people a chance to listen to unlimited audiobooks for $9.99 a month.

Described as the "Netflix for Audio," subscribers can listen to thousands of best-selling audiobooks, stand-up comedy performances, personal development courses, children's stories, business training, guided meditations, celebrity interviews, language learning, audio theater performances, informative lectures, and much more.

The best known titles that are available at launch are: The Hunger Games, Think and Grow Rich, and The Power of Now; revealing interviews with celebrities like John Lennon, Jack Nicholson and Lady Gaga; stand-up comedy performances by comedians like Aziz Ansari, Jon Stewart and George Carlin; guided meditation and hypnosis sessions to help people relax, become inspired and lose weight; children's story classics like Where the Wild Things Are, Clifford the Big Red Dog, and Goodnight Moon; business training from leaders like Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, and John Assaraf; and author theater performances starring award-winning actors like Neil Patrick Harris, Hilary Swank and Laurence Fishburne.

If any of these titles seem compelling or if you want to learn more about what type of content is available, there is a free trial available. Download the Skybrite Android App today from the Good e-Reader App Store and see what the fuss is all about.

Skybrite Introduces Subscription Based Audiobook Service is a post from: Good e-Reader

How Well do the Fire Tablets Perform in Direct Sunlight?

reading outdoors hdx

Amazon has released their next generation Fire Tablet lineup a few weeks ago. This includes the Fire HD6, Fire HD7, Kids Tablet and Fire HDX 8.9.  They range in price from $99 all the way to $379, which are all significant investments.  Many people who read eBooks, newspapers and digital magazines tend to not always be cooped up inside the house, but are doing it outdoors. How well do these tablets perform in direct sunlight? Today, we check out the entire line of Amazon tablets to give you a sense and the results are surprising.

How Well do the Fire Tablets Perform in Direct Sunlight? is a post from: Good e-Reader

Google Books Updated for Better Non-Fiction Support

Books Update - Skim Mode

Many of the top e-reader apps out there handle reading eBook really well. The vast majority of people tend to read fiction titles and the Amazon, Nook and Kobo apps are all optimized for this. What about non-fiction, such as cookbooks, textbooks or research papers? Google has just updated their Play Books app to handle them better than ever.

"Skim" mode allows you to zoom between pages in an endless stream rather than forcing you to flip through page by page.

"Quick Bookmarks" lets you set multiple saved spots in the book and quickly jump back and forth between them — perfect for when you're required to refer to some reference table 200 pages away from what you're trying to read.

You can now view all of your notes and highlights on one page and quickly jump to the correlating passages. The study benefits there are pretty obvious.

Google Books Updated for Better Non-Fiction Support is a post from: Good e-Reader