Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Waterstones in Talks to Purchase Blinkbox Books


Waterstones is in desperate need for an e-Book solution that they can market in all 300 of their retail stores in the United Kingdom. The bookseller has not been directly selling content, but making thin margins on every digital sale people make from the Kindles they buy from the shops. Salvation might be at hand, as Waterstones is in negations with Tesco about their Blinkbox Books platform.

In March 2014 supermarket chain Tesco unveiled their Blinkbox books platform that gave loyalty card holders an avenue to use their points to download bestselling e-Books. The platform turned into a full blown digital store, where content can be purchased and used on a myriad of e-readers and tablets. Last week, Tesco offloaded Blinkbox movies to TalkTalk, reportedly for between £25-30m, and Blinkbox Music has been sold to Australian music company Guvera for an undisclosed sum.

In a recent interview with Financial Times  CEO James Daunt said that Waterstones currently sells e-books in a “very inefficient and poor manner” and that with the rising popularity of tablets, Waterstones needs a platform for e-book sales that works on all devices.

I think Waterstones would be the best suitor for the Blinkbox Books platform, as the service is already tied to the loyalty card platform and integrating it with the booksellers service would be a walk in the park.  I know that Waterstones Amazon contract expires soon and Blinkbox would provide a homegrown e-book distribution solution that they can market in all of their stores and is more or less hardware agnostic.

Waterstones in Talks to Purchase Blinkbox Books is a post from: Good e-Reader

Authors as Educators: Simon & Schuster Offers Online Courses

In a market that has become increasingly flooded with books–both bad and great–publishers and authors are looking for new ways to reach fans, to sell existing titles, and basically, to stay relevant.

Simon&Schuster has announced a new initiative designed to meet those critical needs in a way that not only keeps their authors in the forefront for readers, but also can lead to further book sales from a video-centric audience. The format, which will include online courses that run a spectrum of costs for participation but are expected to include a variety of value-added content, hopes to reach out to a consumer base that may already know these authors, but also may not be your typical reader.

Unfortunately, S&S plans to charge for this product; while the authors get to set their prices for their video courses, they’re up against a mindset where online information is available for free. So why should readers pay for it?

In cases where authors become speakers, there’s also a very real danger of backlash from attendees against the perception that courses, seminars, workshops, or other forms of speaking engagements are simply “commercials” for the authors’ books. However, these courses are not expected to be “add ons” to existing books but rather new content that happens to be aimed at an existing fan base, this should help alleviate some of the balking at paying as much as $85 to hear the author speak online.

While the publisher is rolling out a small offering of courses to launch the program through its website SimonSays, more courses are expected to be announced on a fairly ambitious schedule.

Authors as Educators: Simon & Schuster Offers Online Courses is a post from: Good e-Reader

Top 5 Casino Apps for Smartphones


Over recent years, there has been a huge boom in the popularity of online gaming, especially at casino online. With more and more gamers choosing to play whilst on the go, what are the current casino games for your Android driven smartphone?

GSN Casino

The GSN app is perfect for anyone who loves the big graphics and themed games. Offering free blackjack, poker and slots, the app has a traditional Vegas style of gaming with a modernised twist. You can enjoy TV themed games like Wheel of Fortune and Deal or No Deal, with a Ghostbusters set to be released in the coming years.

Big Fish Casino

If you are a seasoned casino gamer, this app probably isn't best suited for you. Big Fish Casino is aimed for those looking for a more laid back and casual gaming experience, as you can play with your friends as well as create visuals and buy gifts for your loved ones.

Royal Baccarat

One of the more sophisticated casino games, Royal Baccarat would be the app of choice for James Bond. The app has no fancy graphics or visuals to distract you from your game, so you can fully concentrate on winning. If you are a novice, it has great tutorials to help improve your game.

Zynga Poker

Zynga Poker has over 6 million player each day, so it's a great app to get involved in a gaming community. Starting with over 20,000 chips, you can either play on your own against the computer, or try your luck in one of the online tournaments to see how good you really are!

Big Win Slots

If you are a fan of both 3 and 5 reeled games, Big Win Slots is definitely the app for you. Staying loyal to the traditional Las Vegas rules, you can earn yourself VIP credits and choose from dozens as different slots to have a go on.

Top 5 Casino Apps for Smartphones is a post from: Good e-Reader

Children’s eBook sales surge in 2014 in public libraries and schools through OverDrive

Library spending on children's, juvenile, and young adult eBooks in 2014 grew by 48% over 2013. Helping drive this dramatic growth was OverDrive's 2014 launch of narrated eBooks and highly-illustrated best-selling children's titles using open industry-standard EPUB3 and OverDrive Read. These popular children's eBook titles are compatible with any device connected to a web browser, including PCs, tablets, and mobile devices.

Libraries and schools have purchased tens of thousands of titles that showcase illustrations and two-page "across the spine" display of images with the story faithfully reproducing the print editions. As a result of OverDrive's support for open-standard HTML5 and EPUB3, award-winning and iconic children's authors and brands, including classic titles from Dr. Seuss, are now available as eBooks for lending from thousands of libraries and schools with an OverDrive catalog.

Narrated eBooks, with audio synced to text, include titles from actors and authors such as John Lithgow, Randy Travis, and Ray Charles, among others. Several narrated titles incorporate a full soundtrack and sound effects. The top-selling narrated eBook titles to libraries for 2014 from OverDrive were:

The 10 Top Selling Illustrated eBooks sold to libraries by OverDrive in 2014 were:

"Ninety-three percent of children between the ages of two and 13 are reading or being read eBooks at least once per week, according to research by PlayCollective and Digital Book World," says Steve Potash, CEO of OverDrive. "With advancements from OverDrive including Kids eReading Rooms and enhanced eBooks, digital reading can be tailored for specific age groups, creating a truly immersive, quality experience for young readers."

Visit OverDrive at Digital Book World in booth #302 to see the illustrated picture eBooks, narrated eBooks, streaming video and more.

Machine learning, combustion engines and real-time control

What you’re about to watch in the video below is a magnificently physical example of machine learning. Adam Vaughan is controlling an engine with an adaptive Extreme Learning Machine algorithm on his Pi, which predicts homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI – if you’re  a petrolhead, you won’t have to look that up on Wikipedia like I did to discover that it’s a spark-free way of combusting fuel by putting it under pressure until it goes bang) in real time.


HCCI combustion is hard to predict – it’s near-chaotic – so the algorithm Adam designed has to take a huge number of samples (240,000 per second) to get enough data to learn how the engine behaves and to provide something so close to real-time control that you’d never know the difference. (It’s incredibly close to real time – there’s about 300 microseconds – that’s microseconds, or one millionth of a second; not milliseconds, which are a thousandth of a second – of latency here.)

The Pi is recording data about pressure in each of the engine’s cylinders, about the angle of the crank and about heat release – and on the back of that, it’s subsequently controlling the engine in real time over a controller area network (CAN).

This isn’t just a demonstration of how to do mind-bogglingly clever stuff. The research means that fuel efficiency can be improved, and CO2 can be reduced. If you’re interested in a more in-depth look, Adam and Stanislav Bohac have written a paper on the algorithm that’s being used in the video – go and read it if you want a maths and engineering workout!

Amazon’s Deal of the Day Takes Up to 75% Off Kindle Books

Today Amazon’s main gold box deal of the day includes a selection of Kindle Books for students with prices up to 75% off list price. There are hundreds of Kindle books on sale for students, including Brain Rules and Doing Data Science. Like always, the Kindle books can be read on Kindle ereaders and Fire […]

1,000 Macmillan e-Book Titles come to Scribd and Oyster


Scribd and Oyster are two of the largest e-Book subscription services out there and they have another reason for you to signup.  Publishing giant Macmillan has committed themselves to their platforms, contributing over 1,000 titles.

In late December Macmillan John Sargent  announced that there were getting into the e-Book subscription business, in an attempt to broaden their distribution channels. They noted their primary reason they are doing this is because Amazon accounts for 64% of all Macmillan’s e-Book sales, and this must change.

John Sargent admitted that readers are not going to find new titles on Oyster and Scribd. Instead its going to be populated with “backlist books, and other titles that are not well represented at bricks and mortar retail stores.”

Macmillan is home to some of the greatest and most beloved writers around—from Sci-Fi and Fantasy luminaries Ursula K. LeGuin, Elizabeth Bear, and Orson Scott Card to Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa to celebrated social critics Greil Marcus, Louis Menand, and Michel Foucault—and they're all available to read right now on Scribd and Oyster.

1,000 Macmillan e-Book Titles come to Scribd and Oyster is a post from: Good e-Reader