Amazon Kindle Unlimited is an all you can read platform for a low monthly price. Five months after its launch in the United States, the Amazon platform has expanded to France.
The Unlimited program currently has 20,000 French language titles, which is fairly paltry compared to the 200,000 Amazon currently sells. This goes to show that for the most part, publishers are wary of giving their content away with low returns. In addition, there are 700,000 English eBooks.
Amazon is hyping a number of bestsellers included in Unlimited, such as the Harry Potter saga, the series I stop by Eyrolles, Rush by Maya Banks, The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Grandma in Nettles by Aurélie Valognes. English include The Hunger Games and Life of Pi.
Until January French customers can try out the Unlimited program for €1 and after the promotional period is over, it will cost €10 a month.
I don’t think e-Book subscription systems, like Kindle Unlimited is sustainable, except as loss-leaders. Oyster and Scribd rely on venture funding in order to keep their businesses afloat. Their losses today can only be turned into profits tomorrow if they pay publishers and authors less per "read" (which on average is $2) or if they substantially increase their monthly fee to their users or they maintain a high number of subscribers who don't use their services much.
Friday, December 12, 2014
The Maritime industry is not the first thing you would think of when the conversation of digital books and newspapers comes up. There are over 70,000 cruise, cargo, oil rigs and military vessels in operation globally. The vast majority of staff that keep these operations running properly are workers from the Philippines, Malaysia, Russia and India. Many of the corporations that bankroll everything are putting a new emphasis on crew welfare and retention by investing in digital.
Commercial vessels really need to keep their crew entertained so they don’t jump ship to the competition. Companies spend a lot of money training them and are heavily invested in keeping them happy. Sadly, in a world full of streaming movies and audio services, it doesn’t work when it comes to being entertained on the high seas. If the crew wants to download small bits of content they have to insure their parent company is dealing with satellite internet providers such as VSAT and IMTECH. Internet access is purchased in blocks, where ships have very specific limits on how much data is available. In order to download eBooks, magazines or newspapers they have to be accessed in off-peak hours, when the internet is more reliable and not congested. Satellite obviously, is not indicative to downloading lots of content and new companies are meeting the challenge with innovative solutions.
If you are a crewman on a military submarine or apart of the US Air Force, your options to access leisure content is severely hampered. Internet access is certainly not the norm, due to security concerns, which traditionally made reading eBooks unfeasible. This has prompted the US Navy and Air Face to partner with Findaway World for the NERD and Aero e-Readers. The devices are shipped out with hundreds of eBooks and audiobook titles. There is no USB port or wireless internet access, so they are about as locked down as you can get.
The US Navy also has established ties with Overdrive since 2007 for their Knowledge Online initiative. There is currently 400 titles, with heavy emphasis on foreign language and graphic novels. Foreign language learning audio books are consistently one of the highest circulating subjects in the Navy's collection, and the addition of eBooks in more than 10 languages was highly anticipated. Popular graphic novels, such as "The Time Machine" from Stone Arch books, and best-selling "Dummies" books for investing, grant writing, and small business, are also available to download.
Vancouver based PressReader currently has a catalog of over 3,000 newspapers and magazines. They have developed a new offline system that will allow vessels to download content in non-peak hours and distribute it to smartphones and tablets via a shipwide WIFI network. Maritime companies are starting to select publications that are relevant to the nationalities of their workers and getting the top three or four titles from those countries. This would allow a boatswain from the Philippines to get free access to the Manila Times, UNO Magazine, and Daily Inquirer to read at their leisure. Providing perks like free newspapers and magazines gives workers and officers a taste of home, without having to spend any of their own money, its the corporate cash after all that pays for it.
Getting your staff to read safety guides, regulations, weather reports and orientation information is a trial and tribulation. The print editions are often destroyed in the heat and humidity or easily get lost. This has given digital distribution a new emphasis, and PressReader Offline supports the ability for companies to upload their documents in PDF form, to be downloaded to tablets and phones on-demand.
The entire commercial maritime industry and military is trying to take advantage of the digital revolution. Crew are normally aboard for months at a time and things can get rather tedious. Can you imagine if you had the same 100 song playlist on repeat for months at a time? No matter how cool it is, it gets redundant. This is why everyone is turning to e-Books, digital magazines and newspapers to break the tedium.
One of the top concerns on most indie authors minds is what company to self-publish with. There are some strong benefits with throwing down exclusively with Amazon, but others want a more global reach for their content. The Publishing Service Index has just released their annual December report, which lists all of the companies out there that specialize in self-publishing. It goes into great detail on their overall reach and how many people have published with them.
The most significant change to this report is that that Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing has slipped to third and also reflects the growing discontent self-published authors have with the introduction of Amazon Unlimited and recent communications regarding the new VAT law in Europe for 2015. Also, not on the list at all is Kobo Writing Life and Barnes and Noble Nook Press. As much as these companies are trying to promote the service, authors simply are bypassing them altogether.
DIY – Do-it-yourself bespoke services
Overdrive has just unveiled their new Dr. Seuss e-Book collection that is available to Canadian and US libraries. The big selling point is that these titles are available in EPUB3, but none of the content has interactive elements. If you are expecting multimedia enhancements, prepare to be let down, these e-Books all just have fixed layouts.
Dr. Seuss titles, published by Random House Children's Books, include some of the most beloved children's titles of all time. Titles include The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, The Lorax, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Oh the Places You'll Go! and many more. See the complete list and sample an excerpt here.
"No children's collection is complete without Dr. Seuss, and now public and school libraries can have these popular titles as eBooks," said Karen Estrovich, director of collection development at OverDrive. "We're excited to make these available in EPUB3 fixed-layout, as the author intended, to preserve the original flow and experience that we all are familiar with."
Dr. Seuss titles are available on a one-copy per-user basis in OverDrive Read, OverDrive's browser-based reader. Once the title is checked out in OverDrive Read, there is no app to install and the title becomes instantly available in the browser without downloading.
The ability to take screenshots is not just relegated to phones or tablets, but your Kindle Voyage too. It is rather simple to take a screenshot of anything displayed on your screen. Today, we show you exactly how to do it in another Good e-Reader Video Tutorial.
Taking screenshots just needs you to click on opposing corners on the very edge of the touchscreen. You need to ideally do it on the top right and bottom left, or vice versa. When you take a screenshot the screen will briefly flash, there is no confirmation message. If you want to access your list of screenshots, you simply need to plug your Voyage into your PC with the USB cable. All pictures are on the root drive, so you don’t need to go hunting for it.
Christmas is coming, and we’re all panicking because we haven’t bought all the presents yet. (My Dad’s difficult.) Waking up at 3am in a cold sweat because you don’t know what to buy the Raspberry Pi fan in your life? Sweat no longer: we’re here to help!
Raspberry Pi kits
There are also some great kits available if you want to get all the extra bits and bobs you’ll need in one box. We sell a starter kit containing a lot of goodies: it’s £75.
If all the extras in there make things a bit rich for your blood, check out The Pi Hut’s kit, which doesn’t have the shiny PiBow case, the special bag, the stickers or the keyboard or the mouse, but has everything else you’ll need. It’s £42.
There is now a terrifying number of books available on the Raspberry Pi – check out the electronics or computing section of your local bookshop. Some of our favourites are:
The Raspberry Pi User Guide – this book’s written by our very own Eben Upton and by Gareth Halfacree; it’s the canonical guide to the Raspberry Pi, from the person who created it. This link goes to the latest edition, which covers things we’ve done this year like the Model B+.
Sticking with the “books wot we wrote” theme, here’s Carrie Anne’s Adventures in Raspberry Pi. Aimed at kids aged 11 and up (younger kids will still get a lot out of it, but we recommend Mum or Dad lends a hand), we think it’s the biggest seller of the Raspberry Pi books so far this year; and we highly recommend it.
If you’re an adult who doesn’t mind the branding, Raspberry Pi for Dummies is a superb guide to the device and what you can do with it. It’s good for beginners, but it’ll take you a long way – much further than you might guess from the title!
You can find many, many more Pi books at Amazon.
Add-on boards and fun
One of my favourite add-ons of the year was a late entrant: it only came out last week. Pimoroni’s Skywriter is a motion and distance sensor HAT for your Pi – and you can do this sort of thing with it (click the button to turn the sound on). It’s £16.
Pimoroni’s other add-on boards are among our very favourites: Pibrella is only £10, and offers you lots of inputs and outputs; we use it a lot in our own teaching sessions. It’s a fantastic way to get started with electronics: it’ll allow you to make noises, flash lights, drive motors and much more.
The Unicorn HAT is just magic. And it’s £18. That’s all we have to say about it.
Babbage the Bear is our mascot, and he’s had a very busy couple of years, going to near-space, having a camera stuck up his bum and becoming an Internet of Things device, and being cuddled by lots of small children. You can buy him at our Swag Store. He’s £9.
Today, we’re launching a NEW accessory for Babbage: the Babbage Backpack Game Kit. For £8.10 you can buy a cute little backpack for Babbage, filled with everything you’ll need to make an electronic memory game and instructions (no soldering required) – a perfect stocking-filler and a really great little project for electronics beginners. Plus, it makes Babbage look super-chic.
Ryan Walmsley set up his own business to make and sell electronics more than a year ago, and he’s still only 18. The RyanTeck Budget Robotics Kit is fantastic – it’s affordable at only £24.49, and contains everything you need to get started with robotics – all you need to add is a Raspberry Pi.
Pi&Bash is another new offering, this time from Piventor. THIS BOARD REQUIRES SOME SOLDERING, so it’s not ideal for first-timers. But it’s really good fun if you do fancy getting the soldering iron out, with traffic light LEDs, push buttons, a little backlit LCD screen, a thermometer, and digital and analogue inputs and outputs. It’s only £23.
The CamJam EduKit is the perfect stocking filler at only £5. It’s available from The Pi Hut, and it’s my absolute favourite learning kit of the year, coming bundled with worksheets to get you building electronics projects from scratch – or at least it was until the CamJam EduKit 2: Sensors came out last week, for a simply ridiculous £7. The Sensors kit contains everything you need to make a bedroom burglar alarm, a tea-temperature-tester, a device to test whether the light in your fridge really goes off when you shut the door, and much more, with worksheets. It’s a wonderful, wonderful, versatile little kit, and we think that the CamJam team and The Pi Hut have done an amazing job in getting it out for such an affordable price.
Finally, for those not worried to get a soldering iron out (soldering is easy – it’s really worth having a go), you can get an entire Christmas tree for your Pi for only £6. I saw several of these in action at the Cambridge Raspberry Jam last weekend; great for a festive addition to your workbench. Here’s one on a Model A+.
These wondrous stories
There are dozens of options
The font is the same
We hope our excitement
Young readers will love
Discover these stories
eReading is green
So help save the planet
**Title availability may vary by geographic location. For further information click here.**
Adam Sockel is a Marketing Communications Specialist and the resident Seuss expert at OverDrive.
The Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and Kobo have become strong brand names and have been ubiquitous with the very concept of e-reading. The vast majority of people are engaging in reading digital books are often turning to these three devices in North America and Western Europe. Amazon currently controls 75% of all eBook sales in these markets and the worldwide industry totals $14.5 billion. Many people are blissfully unaware that there are dark forces surrounding your commercial e-reader.
The three major companies involved in the e-reader sector all sell eBooks that tell them everything about you and your reading habits. They can tell how long it took you to complete a book and what time of day you are more likely to read. They can monitor your reading progression to see if you gave up on a book a few chapters in or never even opened it up to begin with. These companies have a heavy investment in your personal life in order to email you other product offerings or use your data as a bargaining chip in establishing relationships with international bookstores and distributors.
Kobo recently released a new reading report in Canada, UK and Australia. It had some interesting facts, such as Aussies are captivated by mystery novels and they have 63.5% completion rate, meaning the percentage of books that are read from cover-to-cover, compared to Sci-Fi at 56.5%, while Non-Fiction entered at 37.8%.
The Goldfinch may have won Donna Tartt the Pulitzer, praised by judges as a novel which "stimulates the mind and touches the heart", but the acclaimed title's 800-odd pages appear to have intimidated British readers, with less than half of those who downloaded it from e-bookseller Kobo making it to the end. The Goldfinch was the 37th bestselling e-Book title of the year but it was only completed by 44.4% of British readers. Kobo speculated that it "likely proved daunting for some due to the length of the novel".
Meanwhile in Canada, many people would assume Sunday would seem the most popular day of the week to finish a book, it’s interesting to note that in 2014, 70% of books were actually completed during the week – Monday to Friday. Canadians were likely savoring the last few pages on their commute to and from work.
Amazon likely has the largest empire when it comes to monitoring your reading habits. They own Shelfari, which is a social media site, focused on eBooks and statistics. The company bought the largest book discovery site GoodReads and now own a huge percentage of the digital comic industry with the purchase of Comixology. Rarely does Amazon provide public data to the end users, but they use this internally to market to you better and actively give your personal information away to the authorities in China.
Commercial e-readers track every single thing you do on the device, in regards to reading books. This has allowed smaller companies to flourish, even if they aren’t capitalizing on the lucrative digital book market. Icarus, Onyx, and Pocketbook are likely the largest players in the international scene that markets their readers all over the world. The big benefit about dealing with these companies is that they have no ulterior motives to capture your personal information, beyond the hardware sale. If you download free books from the internet or strip the DRM from commercial books, you are basically not able to get tracked by the dominant players in the industry.
Commercial e-Reader companies are not the only ones to blame for your private reading information falling into the wrong hands, sold to other companies or used as leverage in business dealings.. Adobe recently made headlines when it was discovered they were sending your device ID, full name and everything about the book you bought over the internet in plain text. This opened up the doors for people to develop hacks that could literary take over your Kindle.
Does the average reader care if all of their reading habits are being monitored? It is justified to pay less for an e-Book over a print edition for your freedoms to slowly erode? Is this a good case for a movement to return to print over digital? Are people buying a non-mainstream e-reader because they care about privacy or because the hardware is better? Sadly, we might never know the answers to these questions. If you have any thoughts, weigh in below.