Thursday, December 4, 2014

Libraries Reinvent themselves in the Digital Age


When people think of libraries they normally envision old ladies with cats eye glasses shushing everyone. The only sounds that are audible is the rhythmic clanking of ink based book stamps. Times have certainly changed with many libraries forgoing books altogether and focusing on digital. The vast majority though, have embraced digital to a substantial degree.

A recent report by the Library Journal has stated that 95% of all US libraries have an e-book collection. That’s up from 89% in both 2013 and 2012, when researchers thought that adoption had plateaued for good.

The average number of e-books carried was 20,244 by each library, but that of course was skewed toward large libraries. Medium sized libraries statistically had around 10,434 titles.

The American Library Association every year holds an annual event that brings thousands of librarians and companies marketing services towards them. One of the biggest trends in 2014 was audiobooks, which have quickly become a billion dollar industry. The 3M Cloud Library disclosed that 50% of all the libraries they serve are very interested in an audiobook solution, while Baker & Taylor is seeing unparalleled demand.

Audiobooks is a very interesting system for libraries, as many of the top distributors lean on 3rd parties for a full catalog of content. 3M and Baker and Taylor both do business with Findaway World, which is current market leader in production. Findaway has a catalog of over 40,000 titles and maintains production studios, narrators and crew in New York. Overdrive has their own internal solution, where they approach publishers directly. Hoopla is also a rising force due to their 13,000 titles with 1,000 added each month. Hoopla deals with over 100 libraries in the US and charges no licensing fees with setting up the system, which is quite appealing to the average library. Instead, the libraries adopt a pay-per-use system and set a monetary threshold on how much they want to spend each month. This is useful because the entire Hoopla catalog is integrated into the library, so they can quickly monitor trends and user engagement.

I remember visiting libraries in my small town of Thunder Bay to kill time or to cultivate my love of reading. All of the locations had a very paltry selection of magazines and newspapers that were often yellow with age and in a state of tatters. Things are noticeably different in the digital age with new issues and back issues remaining in perfect condition for patrons to borrow. One of the leaders in this field is PressReader who has a robust system of 2,000 well-known newspapers and magazines including the Washington Post, Business Traveler, and ForbesDaily. One of the cool benefits that this company provides is a wireless hotspot so anyone visiting the library can connect to and download anything they want. The system for magazines and newspapers does well in a library setting like this because eBooks have a one user one use system, whereas PressReader gives unlimited access.

Almost every major library in the US has a digital strategy in play, some have large collections and deal with many different companies to facilitate an avenue of content. Others are fairly small and often only do business with one or two companies at the most, due to budget and ILS concerns. Some libraries though, are bucking the trend and ditching print altogether.

The BiblioTech library in Bexar County is doing something that no library in the US has ever done. Since last year, the organizers had a grand vision of an all digital library. Six hundred e-readers and over ten thousand eBooks will be available to loan when they launched a few months ago.

The library is based in a predominately Hispanic, low-income neighborhood, where 75% of the population lacks Internet access, yet that's precisely why the $2.4 million facility was built there, said County Judge Nelson Wolff, who envisioned it when he had an epiphany after reading the life story of Apple founder Steve Jobs. "e-book readership was going up, more e-books were being produced, so we thought why not address that segment at probably one third of the cost … as opposed to building a big branch library," Wolff said last week.

The success of the BibloTech library has prompted a series of non-profits in Omaha Nebraska to take over a closed Borders bookstore and convert it into a purely digital library. Mike McCarthy, a board member of Omaha nonprofit Heritage Services, said "All Omahans will benefit from increased access to all the good things technology can provide — the opportunity to learn, to explore and to create. This space will welcome everyone from our children learning to read and our grandparents applying for Social Security, to the emerging creative class who will develop the tools and products of the future, to our next generation of entrepreneurs."

The future of libraries looks bright indeed. According to ALA Americans go to school, public and academic libraries more than they visit the movies and there are more libraries than McDonald’s fast food joints. The advent of digital is opening up an entirely new demographic of user and appeals towards the elderly and disabled that they can borrow digital content online, without having to visit the branch.

Libraries Reinvent themselves in the Digital Age is a post from: Good e-Reader

Digital Library to Open in Omaha Next Fall


On the site of a closed down Boarders bookstore a grand vision of the future is occurring.  The first ever digital library in Omaha Nebraska will open their doors next fall.  It will not only loan out eBooks, digital newspapers and magazines but also have 3D printers and workstations for artists and video game developers. 

The former Boarders bookstore and acompanied parking lots at at 7201 Dodge St was purchased by the Community Information Trust, a private nonprofit.  It will be gutted and wired for new technology. President of Heritage Services, an Omaha nonprofit that will renovate the building, says it won’t look like a bookstore when crews finish working on it.

Mike McCarthy, a board member of Omaha nonprofit Heritage Services, said "All Omahans will benefit from increased access to all the good things technology can provide — the opportunity to learn, to explore and to create. This space will welcome everyone from our children learning to read and our grandparents applying for Social Security, to the emerging creative class who will develop the tools and products of the future, to our next generation of entrepreneurs."

I think the most exciting element of this new digital library is that it is free to residents of Douglas County, and available for fees — $75 annually or $25 for four months — to people who live outside Douglas County.

Omaha is not the first library to go purely digital and forgo carrying print books. Bexar County in San Antonio launched the BiblioTech library earlier this year. Patrons are able to access to over 10,000 eBooks and residents will be able checkout 600 E-readers, 9 laptops and 40 tablets to read them on.

Digital Library to Open in Omaha Next Fall is a post from: Good e-Reader

Emerging Digital Trends in the Hotel Sector


Hotels are embracing digital in a big way, as they seek to distinguish themselves from the competition by offering compelling reasons to stay with them, over the competition.

One of the emerging trends is taking advantage of the technology in your pocket.  At select Starwood hotel brands around the world, guests will no longer have to fumble for their room key card at the bottom of their bag now that the chain has rolled out keyless technology that opens doors with the swipe of a smartphone. Starwood's SPG Keyless program is being called a first for the hotel industry and will roll out to 10 hotels around the world in markets like Beijing, Doha, Hong Kong, New York, and Singapore.

Starwood is not the only company experimenting with being able to open your hotel doors with an app. HotelTonight has also developed a mobile app-enabled feature that allows guests to open their doors with a swipe of their phone which is being negotiated with hotels worldwide.

One of the benefits about this automatic door entry program is that some hotels are bypassing the need to check in at the front desk altogether, except in regions that require an ID check at the front desk. This is actually drawing praise by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak who recently stayed at an W Hollywood Hotel citing that “"And I didn't have to talk to anybody to do this.”

Hotels are also turning to digital newspapers and magazines to offer guests the ability to read their own local papers, even if they are thousands of miles away. Recently  Accor has announced that their entire chain of 3,500+ hotels across 92 countries have signed a deal with PressReader. "This is one of our biggest announcements yet and it demonstrates the direction we're going," said Igor Smirnoff, Chief Commercial Officer for PressReader. "We think this is indicative of a huge change in the way that newspapers and magazines are being consumed."

The fifth annual Hotel Technology Conference in Singapore just spent the last few days discussing what type of advancements the hospitality industry will face in 2015. One of the most exciting things was Turning OFF and ON the lights and controlling Air-conditioning with the of apps. IT departments in major hotels are also looking at TV based motion and voice controls, and presence detectors to allegedly making it easy for the guests, while at the same time – controlling energy.

The other key take away from the conference was the focus on wearable tech, such as smart watches, smart bands and how they can play a role in opening doors and automatically checking in and out.

I think the big trend in the hotel sector in 2015 is to take advantage of the fact that guests bring their own smartphones and tablets with them. The challenge is being able to develop and market a range of apps to open doors, control the environment and bypass the check in counter to expedite the entire process.

Emerging Digital Trends in the Hotel Sector is a post from: Good e-Reader

Quick and Easy Holiday Marketing Tip: Naughty & Nice eBooks

Have some fun this holiday season and highlight your diverse digital collection at the same time! These colorful graphics feature a "naughty" romance title side by side with a "nice" family-friendly eBook, showcasing that you have eBooks for all ages. Make your patrons smile with a little holiday humor and help point them to your digital library.

Save your favorite graphics to use on social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! You can also download all 6 designs and discover more holiday-themed marketing resources in the Winter (December-February) Promo Pack in the Partner Portal.



Barnes & Noble and Microsoft Suspend Nook Partnership


Barnes and Noble announced at a recent earnings call that they have ended their partnership with Microsoft. The nations largest bookseller will pay Microsoft $120 million in cash and stock.

In 2012 Microsoft invested $300 million for a 17.6% stake in Barnes and Noble, to aid the ailing Nook division. The initial plan was to assist the bookseller in spinning off the Nook from the bookstore chain into two separate entities. Microsoft also wanted to integrate the Nook reading app into all Windows 8 devices and provide a valid eBook experience on Windows phones.

Barnes & Noble said Thursday that its split with Microsoft would provide "a clearer path" to split the two businesses, which it said could take place by the end of August 2015.

During a conference call with investors, Michael P. Huseby, Barnes & Noble's chief executive, said that ending the company's partnership with Microsoft would help clear the way for the split, and possibly invite new Nook partners. "This transaction gives us the flexibility to bring in a substantial partner in Nook," he said. Who exactly that partner is, or what they could bring to the table, remains to be seen.

Barnes and Noble is trying to re-energize the company by axing most of the executive team that has been been with Nook from the very beginning. They are also trying to solve the consistent string of financial loses by closing under performing stores and have turned to Samsung to design and manufacture the Nook hardware, instead of doing it internally.

Traditionally Barnes and Noble has not been doing that well during the nine week holiday season and has been offering a smorgasbord of promotions. To draw in book lovers and shoppers for Black Friday, Barnes & Noble stocked up on 500,000 signed copies from 100 prominent authors. The bookseller has also launched a Nook Trade in program that will give a $30 credit on a new Samsung 4 Nook tablet in exchange for the Nook 1st generation, Nook Color or Nook Tablet. Finally they have launched a specific Christmas Store in the US and UK to provide reading recommendations and holiday gift ideas.

Barnes & Noble and Microsoft Suspend Nook Partnership is a post from: Good e-Reader

Harrah’s Delivers Mobile Casino Playground to iOS Devices


For anybody who has ever experienced the fun of a casino in Atlantic City or Las Vegas, it might be hard to imagine feeling that excitement while playing a game on your mobile device. Fortunately if you are located in New Jersey (whether you live there or just happen to be visiting), you don't have to imagine it thanks to Harrah's mobile casino games –where you have the opportunity to play and win with real money.

To qualify, you must be 21 or older, and be able to verify your personal details by uploading the proper supporting documents. From there, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement will geo-locate you using the app to be sure you are physically in the state of New Jersey.

Adding money to your account is simple, with deposits made by Visa, Mastercard, ACH, PayNearMe, Online Banking Transfer, Neteller or using Cash in person at the Caesars Atlantic City Cage –just keep your eyes peeled for promotions, which can add to your total by as much as 100% (up to $300, currently). When it is time to cash out, you can withdraw your funds by ACH (directly to your bank account), check, Neteller, or in person at the Caesars Atlantic City casino cage.

Many of your favourite casino games are present and accounted for here, including: blackjack, roulette, slots, and video poker! Some of the games feature large, progressive jackpots –but all offer the chance to walk away with huge cash prizes.

Because this isn't an app meant purely for entertainment value, game play is predictable –the layout is authentic and the rules are strictly enforced.

Using the app is a pleasure, with colourful and highly details graphics –though even on newer iOS devices, the interface can be a bit slow to load and update so you will need to be patient.

Money isn't the only thing you can earn using Harrah's mobile casino. Earn Total Rewards Tier Credits and Reward Credits for any online play, giving you the chance to increase your status and receive comps that can be used at any Total Rewards casinos around the world.

I found it very reassuring that security is taken very seriously by Harrah's. In addition to being fully regulated and licensed through the state of New Jersey, you will receive reassurances like an email login notification each time your account is accessed (unless you specifically turn these notices off in your Harrah's profile).  As an added measure, you can audit your entire betting history using the tools found in your account that shows an itemized list of each and every result.

If you are outside of New Jersey, Harrah's mobile casino lets you choose to try each game and 'play for fun', where a scaled back version of the app starts you off with a cool $1000 of pretend money to use.

Harrah's encourages you to game responsibly, and invites you to call 1-800-GAMBLER if you feel that you or somebody you care about has a gambling problem.

Harrah's Delivers Mobile Casino Playground to iOS Devices is a post from: Good e-Reader

B&N Buys Microsoft’s Nook Share; Nook Splitting off August 2015

Barnes and Noble’s struggling Nook division has been widely publicized over the past few years. Microsoft invested over 600 million dollars in Barnes and Noble’s Nook Media division in 2012. Now that’s looking like a pretty awful investment decision on Microsoft’s part. Today it was announced that Barnes and Noble is buying out Microsoft’s 16.8% […]

Trade In an Old Nook for $30 Credit Toward Galaxy Tab Nook

Barnes and Noble has opened the doors on a new Nook trade in program from now through January 17th that lets customers trade in an old Nook for $30 off the price of a Nook-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 tablet. There are a couple of significant points about the promotion. First, B&N is only accepting […]

Take part in the Hour of Code

At Raspberry Pi Towers, our magical helper elves* have been working around the clock to bring you some fantastically festive Hour of Code activities.

Raspberry Pi Elves Ben and Gert

Raspberry Pi Elves Ben and Gert

The Hour of Code is an idea launched in 2013 by – a non-profit organisation dedicated to expanding participation in Computer Science by making it available in more schools. Their vision is very similar to our own at Raspberry Pi:

Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science.

To help support this initiative we have created a bumper pack of activities for beginners, and for those ready for something a little more challenging – and they can all be achieved in an hour.


There's something for all ages and abilities in our tasty selection box, including quizzes, spinny flowers, Santa detectors, musical delights and even snowflake design. Put an hour aside, pull up a Raspberry Pi and tuck in!

Clive’s Santa Detector

santa-iconNo more propping your eyes open with matchsticks to try and catch Santa! This Scratch program uses a low-cost infra-red detector to set off an alarm when Santa sneaks into your room. It’s a great introduction to using simple sensors on the Raspberry Pi and can be adapted to lots of different projects.

Ben and Rachel’s Raspberry Pi Music Box

Arcade_Button_Group_grandeTrigger some sounds using buttons and the GPIO pins on a Raspberry Pi. In this activity you learn how to wire up a series of buttons to your Raspberry Pi GPIO pins and program them with Python to play particular sounds when pressed.

Les Pounder’s Kids Ruby Quiz

kids-rubyRuby is an easy to learn language that was created in the late 1990s by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto as a general-purpose programming language. It is the language that is used to create music in Sonic Pi. In this activity, you create a quiz using a special application called Kids Ruby.

Simon Johnson’s Sorting Hat Lesson Plan

setup-pibrellaRaspberry Pi Certified Educator Simon Johnson has created a lesson plan for teachers based on his Picademy team project, the Sorting Hat!  In this lesson, students create a Raspberry Pi-powered Harry Potter-style Sorting Hat, using the button on a Pibrella add-on board.

Carrie Anne’s Snowflakes

Draw snowflakes with code using Python Turtle. Great fun, and a fab way to start learning how to code with Python. In this activity you learn how to use a sequence of instructions to make shapes, how to use loops to repeat instructions, and how to store information in variables.

See our Hour of Code page for more fun activities to try out.

* No elves where harmed whilst creating Hour of Code resources or soldering.