Every week thousands of new apps hit various Android App Stores and today we take a look at the best of the bunch. Google released a new Photography cloud storage app at the Google I/O developer conference and there are plenty of new games too.
All of these apps are available to download for free from the Good e-Reader Android App Store. There is no registration and you can download it directly from the web. If you have a smartphone or tablet, download our official app.
Jurassic World – Return to Isla Nublar with the creators of the smash hit Jurassic Park Builder for your next adventure: Jurassic World: The Game, the official mobile game based on this summer's epic action-adventure. Bring to life more than 50 colossal dinosaurs from the new film and challenge your opponents in earth-shaking battles. Construct the theme park of tomorrow in this unrivaled build-and-battle dinosaur experience.
Google Photos – This is a new app that stores your photos in the cloud, similar to iCloud from Apple. Not only is it available for Android, but iOS too. You can save and edit not only photos, but movies as well. This helps free up space and is better then syncing your phone to your computer.
Lara Croft: Relic Run -This game is an endless runner adventure for nostalgic Lara Croft fans. When a shadowy conspiracy threatens the world, only Lara Croft is equipped to unearth the truth. Collect clues to uncover ancient relics. Run, swing, drive, and swan dive your way through beautiful and challenging environments. There's no time to waste, but how long can you survive?
Office Lens – Office Lens trims, enhances, and makes pictures of whiteboards and docs readable. You can use Office Lens to convert images to PDF, Word and PowerPoint files, and you can even save images to OneNote or OneDrive. This app is actually very underrated for people who are students in class or are in meetings.
Periscope – Periscope lets you broadcast live video to the world. Going live will instantly notify your followers, who can join, comment and send you hearts in real time. The more hearts you get, the higher they flutter on the screen. This app is from the owners of Twitter, so it is getting lots of media attention. The battle right now for on the go streaming video recording is Periscope and Meerkat.
Yallo – The Future is Calling – Yallo is a start-up with a big and bold vision: to reinvent the phone call so people can fall in love with it again. We've all seen the innovation in messaging, photography and video—from WhatsApps and SnapChat to Instagram and Meerkat. But the phone call hasn’t changed in decades. Until now.
Aeroplan (Beta) – This is a new app that allows Canadians to access your account summary, including mileage levels, Distinction and Air Canada Altitude status. It also allows you to use your card virtually, much akin to flashing the Stackbucks app to pay for coffee.
Shazam – Not a new app, but the music recognition service is in the process of reinventing themselves. They have added the ability to scan QR codes and play music, audio or video. Shazam has just signed agreements with some major publishers for author interviews.
TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games – Bring the Games to your mobile device with this powerful and simple-to-use app, presented by CIBC. Whether you're on your way to a Games venue or planning your Games experience well in advance, the app is the best tool for building your personalized TORONTO 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games guide that brings you venue details, Games maps, Torch Relay maps, ticketing information, spectator services and features connected to the TORONTO 2015 sport program, official celebrations and cultural program. It's the most convenient way to engage with the Games and bring the Games with you wherever you go.
COOKING MAMA Let’s Cook – The original Cooking Mama game for the Nintendo WII was the first game I ever played on that console. I was working in the video game industry at the time at a production studio. This game enamoured us all and sold very well. A DS game was made of it and now it arrives for Android. Its zany and wacky and you cook things, whats not to love?
Sunday, May 31, 2015
The global audiobook industry is currently worth 2.6 billion dollars and part of the reason why we have seen a dramatic increase in profitability is due to digital. The overall success of the digital audiobook is primarily attributed to companies such as Audible, Findaway World and Recorded Books who are the industry leaders. With any digital medium, the affects are starting to be quite evident with the decline of physical audio.
Depending on who you talk to, tapes and CD sales are falling at a rapid clip or barely growing at all. The unilateral consensus is that physical audio overall accounted for 19% of of all audio purchases in 2014, falling from 31% in 2013. This year is looking even worse, as physical audio sales have fallen by 18%.
Most of this data has come from Nielsen BookScan, who said unit sales of physical audio barely moved the needle with a paltry 0.2% growth in 2014. Things look a bit bleaker according to the Association of American Publisher who said CD sales fell 7.7% in 2014.
Have tangible audiobook sales really fallen so profoundly in the last year? Some of the largest companies do have some problems with the data provided by Nielsen and the APP. The Senior VP of Content and Aquisitions at Recorded Books said that those figures are not wholly representative of industry activity. "Indie publishers don't report, and a number of larger companies are outsourcing CD production with print-on-demand agreements, so the numbers don’t get picked up.”"
The primary problem as the spokesman from Recorded Books pointed out is that Indie authors never invest in a proper ISBN number. Not investing in a proper ISBN number is basically relegating your title to the shadow realm. Additionally, it is near impossible to accurately track print on demand titles due to the sheer amount of companies participating in this space and not contributing any meaningful data to the companies that track global sales.
I think one of the big reasons why tangible audio has fallen is due to the high cost of unabridged retail copies. The average CD costs $25 and it is not surprising to pay $40.00 for a bestseller such as Memory Man by David Baldacci. Digital editions cost less than a tangible edition, but not by much. The average cost is between $21 and $30 on iTunes or Audible.
Why are audiobooks so overpriced to begin with? It all comes down to concept called billable hours. Each audiobook is on average around 12 hours, which costs on average $300 and $400 an hour for a production studio and narrator. They also have to account for multiple takes and editing. The finished product after its all said and done is normally $5,000 to $6,000 to make the audiobbook.
Some companies ride on the back of star power to draw attention to audiobooks and use them for marketing purposes. World War Z hired 21 different voice actors, such as Simon Pegg, Common and Martin Scorsese. Even hiring just one famous person to narrate the book, drives the production costs up exponentially. The average cost dramatically increases to $1,000 to $1,500 per book hour and the final product costs the publisher $17,000.
I don’t know anyone that has a Walkman, Diskman or a CD player in their homes anymore. Everyone is streaming movies from an Apple TV or listening to the radio via dedicated apps for Android or iOS. It is no surprise that tape and CD sales have plummeted to such a large degree.
Digital Audiobooks are Cannibalizing Physical Audio is a post from: Good e-Reader
The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene was first published in 2012. The book though quickly rose to #1 on the Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble bestseller lists months before it was even released, because every pre-order would be hand-signed by the author. Due to the runaway success of the film and the blitz marketing campaign Fault in our Stars was the top selling e-book of 2014.
How can we be sure that Fault in our Stars was the true number one bestseller of 2014? The information comes from PubTrack Digital, a unit of Nielsen BookScan. Unlike the point-of-sale system used by BookScan to track sales of physical books, PubTrack Digital aggregates e-book unit sales supplied by publishers. According to Nielsen, publishers send data on their confirmed e-book sales made through about 40 major e-book retailers. Nielsen then aggregates the data to develop an e-book sales tracking tool. Participating publishers include more than 30 of the largest trade houses, including all the Big Five.
What were the other top selling e-books of 2014? PubTrack Digital released the following list last week. If you are looking for a read and haven’t bought into the hype train yet, all of these books sold very well.
Saturday, May 30, 2015
Losing the Signal – The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry came out on Tuesday and this was a book I eagerly anticipating. It tells the tale of engineer Mike Lazaridis and businessman Jim Balsillie from their early years in highschool to the formation of RIM, whose first office was above a bagel shop.
This book was written by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff. They are staff reporters at the Globe and Mail and have been following Blackberry since the very beginning. They got direct access to the two former CEO’s who haven’t done anything in the media since they left the company. Do you know why they left? It primarily had to do with the failings of the Blackberry Storm, post-dating shares to get maximum value and the ensuing legal drama. Getting sued by NXP over wireless patents also drove Balsillie to be a manic depressant.
Speaking of Balsillie, he revered The Art of War as a kind of spiritual guidebook for a small Ontarian company facing ruthless global competitors. “It is not a friendly world out there,” says Balsillie. Sun Tzu,taught him that “you can’t panic. You have to stay focused. You go into a state. Emotionally you become formidable. You go into a warrior state.”
What I found especially compelling were the early years of Research and Motion and how US Robotics and other companies tried to withhold paying for orders to financially hurt the company. Another interesting fact was that Blackberry has a brand grew fairly organically. Businessman would be glued to their device during meetings and people asked what it was. It grew exponentially from there. When RIM first taking online orders, their first customer was Michael Dell, of Dell Computers.
You get a strong sense from reading this book on how telecom carriers were totally unprepared for the data revolution. Canada, the US and UK were all using EDGE and 2G data connections when RIM first starting releasing phones. They actually told them that their internet browser had to be very bones because their networks could not handle the amount of data. Vodaphone and others actually bucked about paying Blackberry the service fee for each phone sold, because Blackberry had their own servers to handle pushed email. Things all changed with the advent of the iPhone, and carriers started investing billions in expanded networks. RIM was caught off guard by the iPhone and was pressured by Verizon into releasing the Blackberry Storm, a critical flop.
Losing the Signal is not a cultural analysis of BlackBerry's effect on the ways we think or behave. Instead it primarily delivers a thorough account of the business maneuverings that allowed a small Canadian company to become a global player. This book is the first truly comprehensive account of the history of Blackberry and a very solid read. Likely the best book I have read since The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone.
Losing the Signal Book Review – The Blackberry Story is a post from: Good e-Reader
Barnes and Noble operates a self-publishing program called Nook Press. The second generation platform launched in early 2013 and focuses on getting indie authors to submit their books for inclusion into the Nook bookstore. It is my belief that Nook Press is bad for authors and solely exists to financially gauge them at every opportunity.
Last year, the former General Manager of Nook Press and VP of Content Acquisitions Theresa Horner wanted to devise a way for the self-publishing platform to make some serious money. She opened up a dialog with Author Solutions and deal was struck in October. One month later she was fired from Barnes and Noble.
The Author Solutions deal finally allowed Barnes and Noble to make a lot of money from their cadre of self-published authors. This includes a $999 package to get e-book cover art and formatting done or a $2,100 package that includes “Expert Editorial Assessment”, which basically informs the author what they are doing wrong and how B&N can fix it. There is also an illustration option starting at $275 or 3 different tiers for book editing. Basically if there is a way to gauge an author to pay money for something from e-book formatting to an ISBN number, they are doing it.
Many aspiring authors are unaware that it is not Barnes and Noble that is conducting these services, but instead everything is outsourced to Author Solutions. Whenever an author is sent over to the 3rd party company, B&N earns a hefty commission.
Author Solutions has a terrible reputation in the writing community for the deceptive methods it uses to ensnare authors, its sub-standard and over-priced services, and its high-pressure sales tactics aimed at selling completely ineffective (and ridiculously expensive) marketing packages. The company is also being sued by many different authors who claim they exist as predatory monsters, who see authors only as profit. Things are so bad right now that even the Authors Guild has severed ties with them.
The fleecing of indie authors does not begin and end with Author Solutions. Last week at Book Expo America Blublish has announced a free two month trial for Nook Press authors and after the term is up will automatically be upgraded to a $99 a year package. Lots of people have said that Blublish is basically the equivalent of installing Google Analytics on your website. In reality it’s basically the paid version of hosting a WordPress website.
“I applaud any new platform that can legitimately prove a resource for self-publishers, and this one looks quite professional.” Said author R.E. McDermott, “I have a pretty simplistic way of evaluating things. This is touted as a marketing site, so I had a look at the authors offering testimonials as to how Bublish had helped their sales. The problem is, if you look at them on Amazon, NONE of them are selling very many books. That's not a put down of either the authors or their work, for all I know, they might all be wonderful. But if this is a MARKETING site, showcasing authors who aren't selling.”
Barnes and Noble Nook Press is obsessed with charging authors for everything they can. Have whack cover art? You can pay for that. Need assistance with Word to EPUB conversions? You can certainly pay for that too. Not sure what you need done? You can pay for that knowledge and then pay for whatever they recommend. All along the way you can expect emails, newsletters and telephone calls trying to get you to upgrade your existing package. All for the good of your book of course.
Nook Press is bad for authors. The platform is considered second rate by the publishing industry. You would be better off going with Kindle Direct Publishing. They give you a free author page where you can promote yourself and empower you with knowledge, so you can understand the marketing process, instead of mindlessly paying Barnes and Noble.
There is plenty of excellent anime that started in the early Spring and is currently ongoing. Crunchyroll and Funimation both have the bulk of the content and each have their own license to stream specific franchises. Want to discover some excellently written shows or zany circumstances? Our top 5 list will cure all of your ills.
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? – The story follows the exploits of Bell Cranel, a 14-year-old solo adventurer under the goddess Hestia. As the only member of the Hestia Familia, Bell works hard every day in the dungeon to make ends meet while seeking to improve himself. Bell looks up to Aiz Wallenstein, a famous and powerful swordswoman who once saved his life, and with whom he fell in love. Bell is unaware that several other girls, deities and mortals also develop affections towards him; most notably Hestia herself.
Seraph of the End – In 2012, the world allegedly comes to an end at the hands of a human-made virus, ravaging the global populace and leaving only children untouched. It is at this time that vampires emerge from the recesses of the earth, likely followed by age-old horrors of the dark thought only to be myth. The vampires sweep the earth and claim it in a single violent stroke, subjugating the remnants of humanity and leading them beneath the surface to safety. The show is about heroes, wielding cursed weapons imbued by demons to fight the vampires.
Plastic Memories– Plastic Memories takes place in a city in the near future, in which humans live alongside androids that look exactly like humans and have human emotion and memory. SAI Corp, the leading android production company, has introduced the Giftia, a new android model with the most human-like qualities of any model. The lifetime of a Giftia is 81,920 hours (roughly nine years and four months), and if they pass their expiration date, it causes personality disintegration and memory loss. As a result, the employees of the Terminal Service (responsible for retrieving androids who are close to reaching the end of their service lives and erasing the androids’ memories) must go to the owner of the Giftia and collect it. Those assigned to the Terminal Service work in teams consisting of a human (called a “spotter”) and a Giftia (called a “marksman”). The story follows protagonist Tsukasa Mizugaki and a Giftia named Isla, both of whom work in SAI Corp’s Terminal Service No. 1 office. You can think of this as an Android romantic comedy.
Assassination Classroom – The Earth is threatened by a powerful creature who destroyed 70% of the Moon with its power, rendering into the shape of a crescent moon forever. The creature claims that within a year, Earth will also be destroyed by him, but he offers mankind a chance to avert this fate. In class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Junior High School, he starts working as a homeroom teacher where he teaches his students not only regular subjects, but the ways of assassination. The Japanese government promises a reward of ¥10 billion (i.e. 100 million USD) to whomever among the students succeeds in killing the teacher, whom they have named “Koro-sensei”. However, this has proven to be an almost impossible task, as not only does he have several superpowers at his disposal, including the capacity of moving at Mach 20, but he is also the best teacher they’ve ever had. I really like this one, its comedy gold and each episode stands up well on its own.
Ultimate Otaku Teacher – The story follows Jun’ichirō Kagami, whose sister Suzune is angry at him because of his complete disinterest in the real world. As Jun’ichirō is interested in nothing but anime, manga and games, Suzune forces him to go on a job as a physics teacher substitute at the same high school from which he graduated. Jun’ichirō proves himself a capable and hardworking teacher who comes with unorthodox methods based on the seemingly useless knowledge he obtained as an otaku to teach and motivate his students.
Friday, May 29, 2015
George R.R. Martin has proclaimed that he will not write any episodes for Game of Thrones Season 6, as he is focusing on completing The Winds of Winter.
When it comes to the television show, George has written an episode for seasons 1-4, but skipped season 5. The books are pivotal as the source material that the widely successful Game of Thrones television series is based on. Like any television show there are some detours, but the book industry is demanding the new novel be completed.
"Maybe I'm being overly optimistic about how quickly I can finish," the author told EW. "But I canceled two convention appearances, I'm turning down a lot more interviews—anything I can do to clear my decks and get this done."
George R.R. Martin Won’t Write Game of Thrones Season 6 is a post from: Good e-Reader
The Onyx Boox i86 has been floating around in limbo for the last six months. An early prototype was available in early March, which offered a glimpse of what this model would bring to the table and it looks like the final product will be shipping out on June 5th 2015.
We reviewed the Onyx i86 HD on March 30th and it features an eight inch IR touchscreen with a resolution of 1600 x 1200 with 250 PPI. This model did not have a frontlight, but the final production model will. This will allow you to read in the dark and in low-light conditions.
This particular e-reader model is not using a modern version of e-paper, as found on the Kindle Voyage or Kobo Glo HD, instead it is employing an older form of Pearl. Normally, I would lament the screen quality is poor, but this couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, reading e-books, manga and PDF files is amazing. Onyx has a bunch of software functions that enhance the rendering of image heavy content.
Underneath the hood is a 1 GHZ single core processor, 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage. The original i86 only had 512 MB o f RAM and 4 GB of internal storage, so there is a big upgrade here. If memory is a big issue for you, there is support for a MicroSD up to 32 GB.
One of the most exciting features about this reader is the fact it has Bluetooth and a 3.5mm headphone jack. This allows for the playbook of audiobooks and music. In addition, you can hook up external speakers to get a ton of streaming content from companies such as Spotify or Soundcloud.
The Onyx Boox i86 is running Google Android 4.04 as the primary operating system. It comes bundled with Google Play, which gives customers the ability to download their own e-reading apps, without limitations.
If you want to get your hands on the Onyx Boox i86 HDML Plus, it is retailing for around $220 US or 199€.
Kobo has just signed a deal with Visa Checkout, that allows people to buy e-readers and e-books. If you use this new alternative to Paypal, you will gain $10 in free credit that will allow you get a number of free e-books.
The Visa Checkout promotion will run from June 1st to June 20th. When you purchase an e-reader or e-book you will instantly get the $10 credited to your Kobo account and then you can spend it on whatever you want. It is important to note that you can only earn the credit once, not perpetually with every purchase.
Visa Checkout is a relatively new system that allows you to tie in your credit or debit cards and use them to pay for things. The payment platform is trying to secure partnerships to get it going. Recently they did a deal with Chapters/Indigo that allows people to get 20% off a single purchase. Many people have used this to get a big savings off of a Kobo H2O or Kobo Glo HD.
Kobo Implements Visa Checkout for e-books and e-readers is a post from: Good e-Reader
Author interviews are everywhere these days. The BBC, NPR and CBC all have longstanding book shows that review and talk to authors. Radio, whether you listen to it online or the old fashioned way often has the highest reach. HarperCollins is betting that the future of author interviews is not Soundcloud, but Shazam.
HarperCollins Publishers has announced a new deal with music identifying service Shazam. Starting today whenever Shazam users wave their mobile phone over any HarperCollins book or promotional content with the Shazam camera logo on it, they will instantly get taken to custom mobile experiences from HarperCollins, including exclusive content, author interviews, special offers, videos, playlists and more. They will also have the ability to purchase books or share them with others. Users with the latest version of Shazam installed on their mobile phones can simply open the app and tap the new camera icon to start the visual experience.
HarperCollins U.S. titles included in the program throughout 2015 are: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, Daddy, Stop Talking!: And Other Things My Kids Want But Won't Be Getting by Adam Carolla, American Sniper by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice, Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots by John Markoff, Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and The Greatest by Timbaland. HarperCollins Canada titles include The Illegal by Lawrence Hill and The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. Additional HarperCollins global divisions will contribute to the program in the coming months.
Why is HarperCollins partnering with Shazam anyways? Its primarily to draw attention to the new visual recognition technology they have developed. It allows people to scan QR codes in posters, packaged goods, print media and transforms the content from static images into dynamic pieces of content.
Publishers are always looking for different ways to experiment with getting content to readers. The big question I have, is will readers gravitate to a platform that has no prior history in promoting books or authors? I give this initiative six months before its quietly discontinued.
Grown-ups tend to exaggerate. We can go so far as saying they lie for the sake of children's happiness. Fostering hope, imagination, and wonder is part of the adult code of conduct with kids. In Cassie Beasley's middle grade book Circus Mirandus, Micah's grandpa Ephraim has told stories of a magical circus. When Grandpa gets sick, Micah will find out whether his belief in Circus Mirandus is a childish whim or if the circus is real and can help save his grandpa.
For as long as Micah and Grandpa lived together, Grandpa told stories about his boyhood and stumbling upon a magical circus. The circus is home to a woman who can fly with birds, a giant tiger, and best of all the Lightbender. Unfortunately, Grandpa is dying and his sister, Aunt Gertrudis, arrived to take care of him and look after Micah. She is a harsh woman who thinks Micah's belief in the circus is a cancer in his life. But when grandpa calls in a miracle with the Lightbender, Micah knows his beliefs will be justified. Along with his new friend Jenny, they find the circus and see the magic for themselves. But will the circus help Micah's grandpa or is he doomed to a life with horrible Aunt Gertrudis?
This book is being touted as a children's version of Big Fish, and that is a very apt description. Grandpa's stories of the magical circus bolstered his and Micah's relationship. Where Aunt Gertrudis thinks Grandpa is only crippling Micah by insisting on the reality of Circus Mirandus. This is a story of belief and trust. One that will encourage children to be creative, to believe in miracles, and to trust that there is magic in this world even when things seem hopeless. For any adults reading this, the message is clear: don't be an Aunt Gertrudis!
Although this book is about a magical circus, the underlying story is that Micah's grandpa is dying. The book deals with death and dying in a gentle way. Although miracles and magic exist within the world of the book, there are still limitations and Beasley does a superb job of towing the line between reality and fantasy.
Circus Mirandus is a wonderful book for summer reading. It is a quick read and will be the perfect companion for kids around 9-12 years old who enjoy magical realism. Also, this book received starred reviews from School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publisher's Weekly along with a mention in Indies Introduce. So if my review isn't enough to sway you to give the book a read, praise from all of the above should help!
Kristin Milks is a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive
We had mail this morning suggesting we watch the trailer for the new Point Break reboot closely. (Keep your eyes peeled at 1:23.)
When we started the Raspberry Pi Foundation in 2012, we thought we’d just be teaching kids to code. It’s kind of discombobulating to find that we’ve been making movie props too. (If that clip makes you crave a tiny TFT screen for your own Pi, you can find the ones the film-makers used at Adafruit.)
We’ve found a couple of other recent appearances of the Pi in odd places. Here is a Pi which, we’re told, has been used to do awful, villainous things to a subway train and a rollercoaster in the new CSI: Cyber.
Looking at those mangled GPIO pins gives me the yips.
Best of all, though, is this still that somebody captured from Big Hero 6 and sent to us. Look closely at what’s in the background of the shot.
Hollywood, we salute your fabulous taste. Keep it up.
Showrooming is the process in which people visit their local bookstore to snap a picture of a book or scan a barcode to find it cheaper online. The average person is just doing this to get a better deal, but effectively they are directly contributing to bookstores all over Canada, US and the United Kingdom going out of business. Do people who showroom hate print and are actively trying to destroy it?
The Nielsen Global Survey of e-commerce found that British consumers are almost 40% more likely to buy items online than Europeans as a whole. The data also mentioned that that between 2011 and 2014, the number of UK respondents who intended to buy e-books online in the next six months increased 200%.
The UK Booksellers Association found that 63% of shoppers admitted to engaging in showrooming behavior. The survey of 2,045 UK book buyers found that while young people felt (or at least admitted to feeling) guiltier than older shoppers about using bookstores as showrooms, they were actually more likely to do so. 76% of 16- to 24-year-old’s also admitted to visiting brick-and-mortar bookstore before buying online, compared with 51.7% of those over 55 who confessed to doing the same thing.
Meanwhile in the US Barnes and Noble is also a victim of customers walking into the store and buying the e-books elsewhere. A mobile tech company called Placed, analyzed the shopping behavior of showroomers and found 18% of all of B&N’s customers are buying the content via Amazon.
"Barnes & Noble and Best Buy are places that are showroomed like crazy," says Wharton marketing professor Stephen Hoch. Hoch predicts that neither chain is likely to survive Amazon's assault because the stores don't have the service levels to stand out. "Go into a Barnes & Noble or a Best Buy and you see big box stores that should know their businesses. What you find out, however, is that employees don't know their business, and you don't get great help."
Some bookstores aren’t just sitting back and letting customers get away with showrooming. One store, Elliott Bay Book Co., has taken to attempting to get customers to think about their actions. Signs are posted throughout the stacks that warn customers against the practice, even providing a QR code that links to an article that details the after effects of this practice. Yet another business, publisher Educational Development Corp., went so far as to pull their titles from Amazon due to their salesmen giving lengthy presentations to corporate consumers at company expense, and then having those potential customers make the purchase from Amazon.
But will these tactics actually prove effective? After all, if a consumer is willing to physically stand in a bookstore and make the purchase on their smartphone (or on their tablet, using the store's WiFi connection as they do), will simply pointing out how it harms their business enough?
One option would be to actively encourage the online purchasing, and even go so far as to provide a counter top computer to conduct these transactions while directing the customer to the retailer through the store's own website. Kobo has agreements with indie bookstores all over the US and the UK and they can earn affiliate benefits on the transaction. Customers who need the instant purchase of the title will buy it in store, and those who can afford to wait in order to save on the discount can still help the business.
I think bookstores need to get back to basics. Knowledgeable staff that actually read the books they are recommending. I often feel when I visit a bookstore such as Chapters/Indigo or Barnes and Noble the staff are just working there because its a stable job. I want to visit a store and be sold on something, to have that sense of jubilation when discovering something new. Book discovery online is just algorithms and metadata, so impersonal it makes me sick.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
|The Onyx Boox i86 is an 8-inch ebook reader with a high resolution E Ink screen that runs open Android and includes a boatload of features. The Boox i86 has been encumbered by a number of delays. An early model without a frontlight recently became available, and now finally the i86 with frontlight is officially […]|
Amazon is experimenting with bundling by offering the Kindle Basic Touch with a kid friendly case and two year warranty against spills and drops. It is currently available for $99, which is a $39 savings from the normal price.
Designed to help kids get excited about reading, the Bundle allows kids to easily take all of their books with them, wherever they might go this summer, on a compact device. Unlike the Fire tablet that is aimed at kids, this device is purely designed for reading and lacks the multimedia based distractions of a tablet.
The Kids Bundle has a really slick listing on the Amazon store, that really hypes all of the virtues of an e-reader. If you are interested in this, here are some of the main details. The two year warranty is not from Amazon, but a company called Squaretrade. Once your Kindle ships, you will receive an email with instructions to activate your coverage. The Kindle also comes with the ability to get a free colored case, your options are black, blue, green, red and purple.
Should you buy this kids bundle? Well, I approve of the free two year warranty so parents can rest assured they will be protected from the rigors of a five year old. Also, I have always endorsed single use e-readers, because they are a gateway to stories and expanding the imagination. It is important to note that this $99 package is only available in the US, so international residents won’t be able to purchase it.
|Amazon has just introduced a new Kindle for Kids Bundle that sells for $99. The bundle includes the latest entry-level Kindle (the $99 one without advertisements), a kid-friendly cover, and a 2 year SquareTrade warranty. The bundle is a good deal considering that it costs the same as a regular non-ad Kindle, so you’re basically […]|
There are many statistics that iOS users tend to spend more money on in-app purchases than their Android counterparts. One of the drawbacks in the e-reader industry is that no major online retailer actually sells digital books on any Apple products. This is primary because Apple takes a cut out of each e-book that is sold. Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and Google all sell e-books on Android though, but should other companies focus on this OS?
In 2014, 8 out of every 10 phones that were shipped ran Android, and there are currently 4,000 distinct Android devices. Android has grown substantially over the years. These are staggering figures considering 600 million users have adopted smartphones over the past year.
Developing a comprehensive solution for Android is actually fairly difficult. There are so many screen sizes and different resolutions to consider, it makes delivering content very challenging. This is often why the mainstream e-book companies tend to focus on iOS first to deliver new features and enhancements and then port it over to Android at a later date.
Many e-book sellers are actually not aware that Google takes a flat 30% out of each in-app transaction like Apple does. Many bypass this by redirecting the user to their own website, within the app. This way you can sell e-books and deliver them seamlessly to the app.
If you sell e-books on Android, certainly you are not exclusively locked into dealing with Google Play Merchant Services. The Amazon App Store, Nook App Store and the Good e-Reader App Store are viable alternatives. Amazon and B&N both have their own billing API services and take 30% of each app sale and in-app purchase. Good e-Reader on the other hand does not take anything from in-app purchases, which makes monetizing e-books financially viable. You can check out our Developer FAQ to find out more!
In the end, Android certainly has a very high adoption rate, but the amount of development time it takes to make a viable solution can be quite daunting. Additionally, if you choose to distribute it outside of Google Play you have to make separate editions using their API for in-app purchases. I think Android makes sense for free e-reading apps that have royalty free books or e-book subscription systems that give you thousands of books for a low monthly fee. Selling them one by one, is not financially viable unless you are a large company. If you are just getting started I would recommend trying iOS first.
Square Enix, manufacturers of the popular video game franchise Final Fantasy, have recently announced that their smartphone game "Final Fantasy Agito" will be available on Windows 10.
The original mobile game allows players, acting as cadets trying to become an Agito, going through their school life. Players interact with a variety of NPCs, non-player characters, fighting alongside them and enjoying school life. The game is meant to act as an alternate storyline to the original Final Fantasy game, playing as a background character in a main setting and featuring the main characters of the original game in background roles.
The game is coming to Windows 10 screens sometime in 2015, under the name Final Fantasy Agito+." If all goes well, this could mean more smartphone games adapted for computer screens. For those of us who prefer larger screens, the comfort of our own homes, and more freedom of hands to reach for those tasty chips, this might just be exactly what we're looking for.
|Yesterday Amazon introduced a new layout engine for Kindle ebooks with the latest update for the Kindle iOS app. Later in the day when Amazon officially announced the news, it was noted that the new layout engine is also now available on Kindle Fire tablets, and that it will be coming to other Kindle ereaders […]|
Massive thanks to Clive for babysitting this blog (he’s been both writing and editing) while I was away. Any relaxation I was still feeling from the vacation evaporated the moment I saw my inbox. It was good while it lasted.
Regular readers will know that my favourite Raspberry Pi projects are often the musical ones. So I was really pleased to find a message from Joseph Ernest at SamplerBox bobbing up among the top few hundred emails of that inbox this morning. SamplerBox is an open-source, sub-€99 sampler in a box (hence the name), and it’s beautifully simple: drop samples onto the SD card, hook up a MIDI keyboard, and you’ll end up with something like this:
SamplerBox has more than 128 voices of polyphony (which sounds like way too much until you consider things like sustain pedals on pianos), and can load sample sets up to 1GB. Plus, it comes in a really cute laser-cut wooden box.
Setup’s as easy as…Pi.
This isn’t a project to buy: it’s open source, and made for you to build. Which is something I’ll be doing as soon as Joseph’s finished his instructions – I’m already scoping out boxes. Thanks Joseph!
Recently we spoke with Katie Hotard, the Virtual Branch Manager at Marion County Public Library, about her library’s recent adoption of OverDrive Streaming Video. Below is her story of how the library has
We here at the Marion County Public Library System love Overdrive's streaming video service! We are a small library in the hills of north central West Virginia, but are part of a consortium of West Virginia libraries who subscribe to the West Virginia Digital Entertainment Library Initiative otherwise known as WVDELI.
The streaming video service offered through WVDELI and Overdrive meets a need within our community for variety as well as quality entertainment. We continually hear positive things about our streaming service from patrons. They enjoy the myriad of videos Overdrive has to offer, from non-fiction and educational titles, to music videos. There is a little something for everyone to be found on WVDELI and Overdrive!
We have promoted this service through the library website and our various social media accounts as well as on the WVDELI site itself. Many of our patrons have reported finding and accessing the streaming services while browsing the collection at WVDELI. While we are still exploring titles and ways to promote this service, we are absolutely thrilled at the possibilities Overdrive has to offer in this arena.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
In March 2015 Amazon augmented their cloud system that requires users to subscribe to Prime in order to store e-books, photos and video. If you are not a Prime member, it costs $11.99 per year. When this new system went live, it augmented their terms of service no longer allowing companies to use the automatic system to deliver paid content to customers Kindles. Basically, any company that sells e-books in MOBI format can no longer deliver the books directly to Amazon branded e-readers.
Baen will continue to sell e-books in the MOBI format and has now posted detailed instructions on how to manually copy them over to your Kindle via USB.
In early 2014 Marvel Comics has done the unthinkable and released a set of tools that will allow developers to build apps and websites pulling data from Marvel. The API taps into Marvel's vast library of comics—from what's coming up, to 70 years ago. This represents the first API program by any major comic book publisher and provides an innovative way for fans to interact with Marvel Entertainment and Marvel's digital content. One new initiative is a search engine database named iMarvel.
iMarvel is a reference tool that will serve up character and comic book descriptions based on what you input with auto-complete suggestions to boot. For example if you input Squirlgirl you get a picture and a brief description. It also has links to the comics she appears in, to give you a sense on what you should buy if you have an infatuation with her.
Indie bookstores have enjoyed a resurgence in book sales over the course of the past year. According to the American Booksellers Association, the number of member independent bookstores has increased more than 20% since e-readers took the world by storm. There were 1,651 in 2009 and this figure jumped dramatically to 2,094 in 2014. These days, indie bookstores don’t just sell print books, but e-book as well, and it is a losing proposition.
Independent bookstores first started selling e-books in 2010 when the American Booksellers Association partnered with Google. This arrangement did not last very long because people needed a smartphone or tablet with Google Play Services, and during this time period many companies did not offer devices with this particular framework. In 2012 the ABA pivoted and signed a new three year deal with Kobo. Bookstores would earn a commission on e-reader sales and also any books that were purchased on the device.
The average indie bookstores has between 1% and 3% of their revenue come from e-books. The ones that have any sort of success have a dedicated person who is in charge of promotions and getting people knowledgeable that they can still support their local bookstore, while buying content online. An example of a successful initiative is McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Mich. They saw both the sales volume and number of new e-book customers rise in 2014. The store added 71 new Kobo customers for a 23% increase in its customer base. That's in part because the store integrates e-books into its weekly email blast, its radio promotion on NPR, and even at book talks
Many indie bookstores actually see no point to carrying e-readers or e-books. "We have no plans to sell Kobos at this time," said Bob Ryan, manager of Wakefield Books in Wakefield, R.I. "We understand the popularity of the e-readers, but we're going to cater to the print readers.”
Meanwhile, Steven Baum, co-owner of Greetings & Readings in Hunt Valley, Md., which once carried electronics, has no desire to return. "We left that industry when the sales tax was greater than the profit margin," he said. "The Kobo is too little too late. E-book readers are already on a massive decline, because of the tablet."
Other booksellers were soured by the Google experience and decided not to sell Kobo e-readers. "We did the Google thing," said Grant Novak, manager of the Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury, which is not selling e-books.
Amazon currently dominates the US, with a 75% market share. This leaves Apple, Barnes and Noble, Google and Kobo fighting over the scraps. Indie bookstores simply are not in the average customers mind when they think of places to go, to buy e-books. For every person who buys an e-reader from a bookstore is one less print sale, which often has a higher profit margin. Do bookstores really want to take a gambit on their future by actively encouraging these base of customers to switch to digital content?
I think indie bookstores would be better off not selling e-books or e-readers and instead focusing on the community aspect of book selling. I know plenty of stores in New York that have wine parties and cool events that bring the book community together and foster something far grater than buying an e-book in your boxer shorts.
In an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti, Neon Genesis Evangelion’s creator, Hideaki Anno, has stated his thoughts on the numbered days for the Japanese animation industry.
Expressing his thoughts and concern, Anno has stated that he believes the anime industry will begin declining within the next five to twenty years, saying that the "death" of the industry is inevitable. Anno has stated that he believes the industry needs to become more flexible in creating new environments such as introducing more computer graphics in shows because the way things are currently working, the current business model just won’t be maintainable.
Anno told RIA "Japanese animation is in decline," and that the industry has, " already peaked.” and that, “After it does collapse, there will probably be a new resurgence."
This death isn’t the death of anime per se, and Japan will always of course have animation, but Anno has relayed that he believes that the collapse will mark the end of Japan’s dominance. As other countries in Asia begin getting richer, they now have more resources to produce it’s own animated shows in turn throwing Japan off of the epicenter of the animation industry.
Anno believes that there will be less money in Japan and also points out that there are now fewer animators in Japan, which will definitely negatively impact anime as well for the general smaller population of Japan.
"Japan will just no longer be the center of world animation. Maybe in five years, Taiwan will be such a center." Anno adds after describing his trip to Taiwan where he met animators there who had much passion and spirit. Anno also states that animation is only "only moving by intertia."
With all that being said, I find that more animes are beginning to incorporate more CGI in their animes nowadays, such as Sailor Moon Crystal using 3D models to revamp the transformation scenes, Etotama for utilizing CGI for their fight scenes and various mech animes that makes us of 3D models as well. I don’t think Anno’s predictions are entirely true, sure, other countries may begin entering the anime industry but I believe Japan will always be in the center of it and in turn will hopefully begin producing more animes of quality rather than quantity.
Only just a few years ago, a lot of people had predicted that the movie industry would go down as well but we see now that it is only steadily rising higher. Though Anno does make a good point, we will just have to wait and see how it all plays out!
|Amazon has just updated the Kindle app for iOS devices—the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch—to add some new features. The new software version is 4.9, and it’s a fairly major update. There are some big visual changes that Amazon claims to provide faster reading with less eye strain. Among the changes include the added support […]|
|Yesterday Kobo announced that they’ve added Visa Checkout to Kobo.com as a new payment option in addition to credit cards and PayPal. Kobo and Visa are trying to entice people by giving away a $10 credit for Kobo.com after using Visa Checkout to complete a purchase. The $10 credit gets applied directly to your Kobo […]|
Exciting news for your library's audiobooks! On May 28-29, attendees of the Google I/O conference in San Francisco will have the opportunity to demo OverDrive's Android app with Android Auto support. Android Auto was designed to make it easy for drivers to more safely interact with apps, music, maps and more by showing the information clearly on in-car navigation screens. The OverDrive app will enable users to enjoy audiobooks they have borrowed from their library with simple onscreen navigation tools available in a variety of different car models. The OverDrive app will also be navigable via Google voice commands.
Android Auto extends the Android platform into the car in a way that's purpose-built for driving. After connecting an Android phone to a compatible car, drivers will be able to "project" their experience onto their car's in-dash display, giving them access to apps and services which have been optimized for the car with voice input and glanceable controls.
OverDrive continues to invest in the ease of use and broad applicability of its apps. This offers another opportunity for users to multi-task by enjoying library audiobooks on their commute or while they travel. OverDrive for Android with Android Auto support is coming soon
At the largest publishing event in North America, BookExpo America (BEA), OverDrive will host a reception and present the Blue Sky Awards to publishers with top selling Chinese language adult and children's eBooks. Hundreds of US, Canadian and international public libraries and schools now offer their Chinese readers instant access to thousands of new Chinese language eBook titles in every category (for example, see San Francisco Public Library eBook collection at http://sfpl.lib.overdrive.com/Chinese.htm).
OverDrive created the Blue Sky Awards to honor international publishers who have achieved excellence in 5 categories. During BEA 2015 at a special Recognition Reception in OverDrive's booth #1720, the 2015 awards will be presented to:
"We congratulate and commend this group of leading eBook publishers for promoting Chinese culture and literature to communities throughout the US and worldwide," said Erica Lazzaro, Director of Publisher Relations at OverDrive. "Readers and learners around the world are eagerly discovering and borrowing from their local library popular fiction, children's and educational Chinese eBooks in every genre."
Chinese publishers are enjoying rapid sales growth in the US and international markets as part of the Chinese government's "Going Abroad" strategy. OverDrive's Chinese collection has become one of the fastest-growing categories within its public library catalog, which now includes more than 20,000 recently published Chinese language titles in EPUB and other digital formats.
Notable achievements from the 2015 Blue Sky Award winners:
Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press – Children's Publishing
Since its partnership with OverDrive began in 2014, FLTRP has provided a number of classic bilingual children's titles, offering global libraries with excellent language-learning materials. FLTRP is well-positioned to tell China stories to the world.
Zhejiang Publishing United Group Digital Media Co. – Fiction
Favored by readers and patrons worldwide, Zhejiang Publishing United Group Digital Media Co. supplies a wide range of the most popular Chinese fiction and has experienced rapid growth in the library market. Content supplied includes titles from bestselling authors such as Cai Jun, Li Ximin, Shen shixi and Zhou Haohui.
Posts & Telecommunications Press – Education
With its strong background in technology and computer science, Posts & Telecommunications Press has become a pioneer in educational digital publishing, supplying China's best nonfiction titles in a variety of subjects including business, computer technology, travel, photography, art, management and more.
China Intercontinental Press – Multi-lingual
Specializing in multi-lingual publishing, CIP is now one of China's leading publishing companies with multi-lingual publications, most of which are in Chinese, English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Italian and Arabic. With a focus on Chinese culture, traditional arts, religion, cooking & food, popular social topics, CIP's titles have become a main source for readers who are interested in learning about China.
China National Publications Import & Export Corporation – Innovation
The CNPIEC collection is one of OverDrive’s fastest-growing Chinese partner catalogs. They offer content from the most prestigious literature publishers including People's Literature Publishing House, Baihua Literature and Art Publishing House, Central Compilation and Translation Press, New World Press. As the first aggregator providing professionally translated bilingual metadata, CNPIEC is enabling over 30,000 English-speaking librarians to select quality Chinese titles.
Microsoft is on a rampage trying to woo companies to bundle their Office line of apps on all sorts of Android tablets. They have been very successful ironing out deals with Samsung, LG, Sony, Haier, Positivo and Wortman.
Officially Microsoft has signed deals with over 31 different companies to have Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype loaded on Android driven tablets.
The first batch of tablets to include the MS apps will be on a yet unannounced LG tablet, and Sony will include them on their Xperia Z4 tablet within the next 90 days.
There is no word yet if these apps are able to be uninstalled or not, I know many people will be quite irate if they aren’t.
Amazon has just released a new version of their seminal Kindle e-Reading app for the iPad and iPhone. The company has made a big step towards better typography with the advent of Bookerly, the first typeface designed for the Kindle for scratch. Additionally, it looks like Amazon is trying to solve the Kindle’s typesetting problems with an all-new layout engine that introduces better text justification, kerning, drop caps, image positioning, and more.
Bookerly is going to be replacing Caecilia as the new default font for the Kindle Fire line of tablets and their fleet of apps. Bookerly is a serif style of font that has been custom-made by Amazon to be as readable across as many different types of screens as possible. Like Google’s Literata, Bookerly is meant to address many of the aesthetic issues surrounding e-book fonts.
Does Bookerly make a big difference while reading an e-book? According to Amazon’s internal tests, that means it’s about 2% easier on the eye. That may seem like a small improvement, but spread that 2% across millions of Kindle users and billions of pages of e-reading, and it all starts to add up.
I think the one exciting thing that users will notice right away with the new Kindle App for iOS is the new layout engine. It justifies text more like print typesetting. Even if you max out the font size on the new Kindle app, it will keep the spacing between words even, intelligently hyphenating words and spreading them between lines as need may be. This will obviously appeal to people who frequently adjust the sizes of the fonts or have vision disorders and want to read more effectively.
Amazon Unveils New Bookerly Font for iPhone and iPad is a post from: Good e-Reader
If you missed the updates recently, we’re currently running a 12-month programme for creative young people called Raspberry Pi Creative Technologists.
We have a Google+ community for the group to post ideas, share interesting links and ask each other for help and we hoped they would also use it to arrange to meet up outside of the organised field trips: within the first month, one of them found the Art Hackathon and suggested they go along and take part. Three of them went along and teamed up with some others. Yasmin wrote a full account of the hack…
I've always heard about how awesome Hackathons could be; they're a chance to surround yourself with intelligent people who share the same interest, come up with inspiring ideas together and become engrossed in a project, with everyone chipping in to turn concept into reality over one weekend.
But I’m going to be perfectly honest with you here; however awesome this sounds, I can't help but feel a tad intimidated by it all. There's still so much I feel I have yet to learn and I always worry about how much of an asset (or a nuisance) I would be.
So when I saw an opportunity to go to an Art Hackathon, which aspired to mix teams with different skill sets and types, I knew that I had to attend, and I'm so glad I did! With the Hackathon holding presentations by many talented people including as Joel Lewis, Di Mainstone and Nick Rothwell, as well tables full of various tech and art supplies, there were no limitations to the amount of creativity that we could muster!
All of this inspired a creation that managed to win 2nd Place for Peoples Choice, and I can proudly say that I was a part of its development:
Emoti – Visualising our Emotions
Using Twitter Widgets, our team was able to pull certain keywords from tweets being posted in real time and assign them to different emotion types, which meant being able to have constantly updated data on how people were feeling on twitter through these emotion-related keywords. The emotions we assigned them to were: Happy, Sad, Surprised, Afraid and Angry.
From this data we then created a simple HTML web-page with 5 divs, or blocks, of colour relating to the different emotion states. These would constantly change width depending on the data that was being collected from the tweets to give a visual representation of how many people were tweeting under each emotion:
This was an Art Hackathon don't forget, so, of course we had to present this data in a beautiful and intriguing way. What's more intriguing than creating the illusion of 3D colour-changing ripples?!
For this effect, the designers in our team laser cut clear plastic to create the individual ripples and slotted them into a black board. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to whip out my Raspberry Pi! We ran the web-page through the Pi and hooked it up to the HDMIPi, allowing a bright screen for our structure to be placed onto, so that the moving coloured blocks from below would shine onto the clear plastic and give the illusion of a 3D object.
Finally, the structure was put together in a dark, enclosed space, and the end product came to life, completely exceeding my expectations! Colours danced gracefully across the ripples, making us forget that there was even a web-page below. It was easy to get lost in the entrancing movement of pattern that the object seemed to create. As soon as you immerse yourself in the full experience, with audio as well as these entrancing visuals, it becomes a little overwhelming. Watching the colours is one thing, but hearing the clashes of audio really brings the message across that this is how people from around the world are feeling right now.
Yes, it’s open source! Find the (somewhat messy) code here: https://github.com/itomblack/emotion-twitter
What I Gained…
Aside from the obvious: an awesome project, a better understanding of how to work in a team and improved coding skills, I managed to come away from the Hackathon feeling much more positive about what I, an as individual, can achieve. I may not be have been the most skilled coder in the room but I was still able to have meaningful input on the project, both creatively and through my development skills, which leaves me wondering what I was so worried about in the first place!
As well as this I'm so grateful to have had the pleasure of meeting many creative and genuinely lovely people. It was so interesting to see all of the various projects that everyone had made, each one entirely unique and fascinating in its own right.
Thank you to the people behind the Art Hackathon event and those intelligent folk within the Emoti Dream Team who helped bring it to life:
P.S. This is my very first blog, how am I doing? Let me know! (If you want to… No pressure…)