Friday, January 16, 2015

Ultra-Orthodox Newspaper Digitally Erases Famous Women


World leaders marched in solidarity in Paris last week against terrorism, alongside more than a million people. There were a number of powerful women in the scene and an Israli newspaper, HaMevaser digitally removed them all. This included Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, European Union security and foreign affairs chief Frederica Mogherini and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews traditionally don’t prefer to show images of women because it’s not considered modest. Political parties that represent the ultra-Orthodox sector actually ban women from running for office.

There is a strong segment on social media and famous writers that think that the digital removal of women from such an iconic photo is going too far.

Allison Kaplan Sommer  said “the message HaMevaser sent was tantamount to denying the fact that in the wider world, beyond the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, women do stand on the world stage and shape events.”

Yossie Bloch said “Ultra-Orthodox media are so overwhelmed by the raw sexuality of Angela Merkel in a full-length coat they photoshopped her out.”

The Telegraph  condemned the sexist editing and pointed out the irony that a 'unity' rally aimed at spreading a message of peace has been tampered with.

Meanwhile, a satirical Irish publication, Waterford Whispers, had a little fun with the story and published the photo from the Paris march showing only the three women and cutting out all the men.

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I think this entire situation sets a dangerous precedent when newspapers can augment important photos in order to not offend their readership.  HaMevase does not have much of a digital presence in the digital space, such as apps for Android, iOS or distributed in replica form via Pressreader. But what about the ones that do? At what point do we have to cross reference photographs that are attached to the mainstream media stories that come out? When photos exist in the digital format, they last forever. When our daughters begin to do research reports and notice an absence of their peers, what are they going to think about their own prospects of the future?

Ultra-Orthodox Newspaper Digitally Erases Famous Women is a post from: Good e-Reader

Manga Accounts for 80% of all Digital Book Sales in Japan


In the last year, new research has reported that manga accounts for 80% of all digital book sales in Japan. Manga readers are choosing to view their favourite series through portable devices instead of paperback volumes. It's not hard to see the appeal. Digital manga can be taken on the go, kept on a slim device instead of hauling books in a bag. And with a generation already glued to their smartphones, it almost seems easier to read digitally.

The digital manga market in Japan is seeing a rise of almost 20% in the April 2013-March 2014 year. The net worth of the market comes to 65 billion yen, $540 million in US dollars. The entire digital book market is worth an estimated 85 billion yen.

Japan doesn’t seem to have given up hope on the rest of the digital book market, however. Attention has turned to e-books, especially to classic literature. E-book sales are expected to rise in the next several years, hopefully boosted by the popularity of digital manga. With so many people choosing to buy their manga this way, it seems more and more readers will start looking into digital reading.

This is not to say that traditional paperback manga sales are slowing. Many readers still prefer the feel of a book in their hands, bookshelf lined with back-to-back volumes of their favorite manga. Digital manga has simply now become just as popular. Whether by smartphone, tablet, Kindle, or any e-book reader, manga has found its place in the digital uprising.

Manga Accounts for 80% of all Digital Book Sales in Japan is a post from: Good e-Reader

CES 2015: Connecting all of the things

Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 really expended the "internet of things." In essence, that's just a fun way to say that all sorts of every-day things (from light-bulbs to thermostats) are getting connected to your home network. I think it's pretty sweet, because, in a lot of ways, connecting new "things" to the internet can really improve your day-to-day life in lots of simple ways that you've probably never thought about.

It may seem out of hand, but it's not

Here's an example of something that sounds totally ridiculous when you first hear it, but makes tons of sense when you stop to think about it: smart sprinkler systems. Seriously, think about it, you could manage your sprinkler needs more efficiently than with any timer-based system. Say you live in arid state, where watering your lawn is a necessity. You're traveling, and an unexpected dry period hits. No problem, just open the app on your phone, change your sprinkler schedule, and continue enjoying your trip. Easy-peasy.

See what I mean? If I called you up and said, hey, do you want to check out this awesome new smart sprinkler system that connects to the internet, I doubt you'd be excited. It sounds silly, but, in practice, it's pretty awesome, and extremely useful to those that need it.

OK, so what's a smart sprinkler system have to do with digital media (which is what we usually talk about here at OverDrive)? Mostly nothing! I only bring it up to get your mental gears churning. I shall attempt to explain …

A new way to go "mobile"

I'm both a car nut, and a technology geek. The two are coming together in new, and wonderful ways. I'm especially excited about Android Auto and Car Play. I can take my Nexus 6 (Android phone), plug it into an Android Auto infotainment center (a fancy name for a fancy car stereo), and suddenly, my car becomes "smart." I get the full range of Android voice commands, on-screen navigation, and (here's the clincher for us) multimedia control right on my car stereo. I don't need to pick up, or even touch my phone once it's plugged in.

For an avid audiobook listener like myself, this is awesome news. Right now, while driving, I typically use my Pebble (smartwatch) to control my OverDrive app while I listen to audiobooks so that I don't have to look away from the road to play or pause my book. This works pretty well, but if I had Android Auto, everything would work with the stereo built into my dashboard. I could even open the app with voice commands! I'm pretty excited about the idea of turning my 2010 Malibu into a "smart" car (complete with climate control).

Phones and tablets for the masses

There were also some pretty cool announcements in the phone and tablet arena. Personally, I like to do my reading on a tablet rather than an eReader because I can get all of the content onto the tablet without having to bother with a computer. For that reason, the Dell Venu 8 7840 looks pretty interesting. It's ultra thin (it makes pencils look fat), very light, and has a great screen. These are all good features for a device that you plan on using to read full-length books. It has some fascinating new features too, like three rear-facing cameras so that you can change the focus of a picture after you take it!

In the phone space, I'm currently geeking out about the Yota Phone 2, which is finally coming to the U.S. (apparently). Basically, it's a smartphone with decent specs–a little better than mid-range. The exciting part, however, is that he back of the phone is an E Ink display! I use the jumbo screen on my Nexus 6 to read regularly (generally when I'm stuck waiting somewhere), but an E Ink screen would be much better for my eyes. It's a pretty cool idea, and has lots applications beyond eBooks (like sending and receiving text messages while using a tiny trickle of battery power).

There are also a bunch of manufacturers like ASUS and Blu that are making very affordable, but high quality phones that you can buy off-contract. That means that you'll be able to buy a budget smartphone that is actually good, rather than sacrificing any sense of performance or build quality to save cash.

Bringing it home to the living room

TVs and TV accessories are getting better and better at the whole "being connected" thing. Sony, Sharp, and Phillips are all launching high-end TVs that'll run Android TV without the need for a separate box. The computer bits are built right into the set.

But, heck, if you want a separate box, you can always buy a Nexus Player, or wait for one of the more powerful Android TV units coming out in the next few months. I'm particularly interested in the Razer Forge. For $99, and a tiny amount of shelf-space, you can "upgrade" your TV to get all the smart functionality without having to buy a whole new set.

Android TV will cover you for your streaming video needs, of course, but there are few more fun ways you could use it. For example, what about a fixed layout kids book (an eBook with big, colorful pages that are laid out a certain way by the publisher). Think about how cool story time could be with the kids gathered 'round the 60-inch TV in the living room!

I guess what I'm trying to say here is this …

The internet is taking over the world one "thing" at a time, but that's great for tech nerds like me, because soon I'll be able to read or listen to my books on everything. So, when you hear a new idea for connecting your refrigerator to your phone, stop to think about it first. What if the app on your phone could send you an alert when you're low on Milk and it detects that you're at the grocery store? See? Not useless.

The internet isn't just a series of tubes anymore–now it's got things!


Odilo Launches New Library eBook Service in the U.S.

A new distribution service for library ebooks called OdiloPlace has just launched this month in the United States. When you think about checking out ebooks from public libraries for free, OverDrive is the first company that comes to mind. But there are competing services out there too, and Odilo is the latest to join the […]

VNC tutorial from 10-year-old Philip

Philip Organ is a regular attendee at the Cambridge Raspberry Jams. He’s ten now; we first met him back when he was seven, when he sent us a video of a game he’d written for his Pi.

Philip (small) with me and Eben (large) at the last Raspberry Jam

Philip (small) with me and Eben (large) at the last Raspberry Jam

Philip’s Pi shenanigans were impressive then, but he’s come on leaps and bounds in three years. Here’s his most recent video: a tutorial on setting up a VNC server on your Raspberry Pi so you can access it remotely.

I wish more tutorials were like this. Thanks Philip!


Boopsie Library-Branded Apps Increase Patron Engagement

When library patrons think of ebook lending, they might be familiar with the powers behind the books, with names like OverDrive or 3M distributing content to their local libraries. But with survey data from as recently as 2012 indicating that the majority of library patrons in the US didn’t even know their public libraries could lend ebooks, despite the current numbers that 90% of American libraries offer digital lending, there’s an obvious disconnect between the services offered and patron adoption.

A mobile platform developer is working to change that, and so far, the results have been strong. Boopsie, a mobile app developer for libraries, has seen effective growth in US libraries that offer a branded app for their patrons to discover content, conduct research, check out ebooks, and more.

Boopsie works with some of the biggest names in ebook distribution to libraries, including ProQuest, EBSCO, Baker and Taylor, Recorded Books, Overdrive, and 3M Cloud Library. Even more beneficial to libraries, patrons, and rights holders, the company also works in retailing digital content, allowing patrons to purchase titles from names like comic and graphic novel platform Comics Plus and CoverCake, an analytics tool that helps drive vertical engagement through its in-app book discovery tool.

"2014 was a great year for Boopsie," said Tony Medrano, CEO of Boopsie, in a press release. "Not only were we able to work with the library community to develop technologies that more efficiently deliver library services to users, we were also able to secure strategic partnerships that are helping us grow internationally and into new markets with a leveraged sales force. 2015 will be filled with even greater product, service, content and developments for libraries."

But how strong is this growth? Boopsie has seen a 30% increase the number of new customers over the course of one year, and a 96% renewal rate. In a recent survey of over 1,000 patrons conducted in conjunction with the Washington State Library on the effectiveness of the state’s Library Now app, 85.5% stated they use the Library Now App, and 74.8% use the library's other online services. A reported 43.8% of patrons report using the app at least once a week, while 58.3% reported that it makes using the library easier than before.

"Our partnership with the Washington State Library was a perfect opportunity to enable the state's innovative libraries to make more services available cost-effectively, to their diverse and increasingly mobile users," continued Medrano. "With our mobile app platform, the libraries are able to make their extensive print, electronic and human resources readily available beyond the library buildings to the general public whenever needed. The work we did with the State of Washington also helped us get closer to our goal of supporting libraries' individual and unique missions by providing scalable, reliable and easy-to-use library-branded mobile apps that users of library resources increasingly demand."

Boopsie Library-Branded Apps Increase Patron Engagement is a post from: Good e-Reader

Crunchyroll Premium Members Now Get Free Unlimited Manga


Premium Crunchyroll members, you're about to get the best news of the year.

Crunchyroll is best known for their anime and drama streaming video service that is available on Apple TV, Android, iOS and a myriad of other platforms.  In 2013 they unveiled their digital manga app and have been entertaining fans with the newest episodes and high quality manga scans.

One of the barriers preventing the growth of the manga service has been the litany of membership options, with a slew of  different prices, and for many, the premium membership for $6.95 a month was all they could swing. Now, all that anime for $6.95 a month doesn't sound bad. In fact, it sounds great. But it's about to get a lot better, because Crunchyroll is now offering access to their wide selection of manga – for no additional charge.

Apart from being fantastic news for premium membership holders, this is also of interest to non-members. This is the best time to sign up for a membership of your own at Crunchyroll. If you're one of those who’ve wavered on whether or not it's worth signing up, this is the most oportune moment.  With Attack on Titan slated for a 2016 second season, maybe settle in to catch up on all you’ve missed (with Attack on Titan, you can never be too prepared.) Crunchyroll now has the full catalog of Attack on Titan chapters available for three months – perfect timing to start a marathon.

With the new pricing tier,  the dedicated manga-only membership will simply disappear into the ether.  For those of you with existing manga-only subscriptions, don't pack in the towel. Information is being sent to members directly, informing them on the change and what it means.

Access to Crunchyroll Manga is optimized for large screen tablets and smartphones. There is dedicated apps for Android and iOS, so it doesn’t have the far reach their anime service has. There's one more thing worth mentioning: Crunchyroll's manga service is available in 170 countries, its time to start that manga marathon!

Crunchyroll Premium Members Now Get Free Unlimited Manga is a post from: Good e-Reader