Thursday, April 16, 2015

Amazon Textbook Creator Now Supports Enhanced Media


Amazon has enhanced their Texbook Creator app with the ability to embed audio and video. Publishers will be able to include image pop-ups and have their final product compatible with the Kindle Fire line of tablets and the Amazon app for Android and iOS.

The Textbook Creator is fairly bare-bones right now, it only accepts PDF source files. Amazon is testing functionality for Microsoft Word documents, EPUB, and HTML, but there is no word on when the PC or MAC app will be updated again.

I think what Amazon is trying to do is eventually have a robust solution like Apple has for their iBooks Author program. Many of the top publishers use the Apple solution because its easier to sell content on the App Store or via iBooks.

Amazon Textbook Creator Now Supports Enhanced Media is a post from: Good e-Reader

Paid Apps Soon Available on the Good e-Reader Android App Store


The Good e-Reader Android and Blackberry App store is the largest in Canada and has been gaining solid traction on the worldwide stage. Currently we have over 36,000 free apps and soon will be offering paid apps and an enhanced developers portal.

It is our goal to be the best indie app store and we are constantly testing out new features and focusing on innovation. In the last few months we added support for OBB files, so developers can upload large games that require external data files. Unlike Amazon, we do not force developers to host these themselves, instead we do it for you. We also unveiled the first ever e-ink Android app store that is compatible with all e-readers on the market running Android.

Within the next few weeks we will be updating the website with some monumental changes. We will be adding paid app support and users can register free accounts, pay for apps and get notified when new versions are available. Users will have the option to pay for content directly on their credit card or elect to use PAYPAL. There are also systems in place for you to view past transactions.

For developers we have redesigned our Developer Portal to include financial reports, so you can gauge how many downloads and paid apps you are selling, establish a monthly payment threshold and view all of your activity in CSV for your quarterly earnings. All paid app data will be populated in real time and there is SDK required for app submission. Developers also have to input their billing address in order to have their earnings sent to them via Check or Paypal. Good e-Reader is responsible for all billing transactions, so developers don’t have to worry about fraud, we do our own due diligence.

I think paid app support will be a breath of fresh air in our ecosystem and it will really allow users to download more Triple AAA titles and their favorite paid e-reader apps. I will do a followup post in the next few weeks when we launch and show you some videos on all of the new features.

Paid Apps Soon Available on the Good e-Reader Android App Store is a post from: Good e-Reader

Microsoft Turns Your Android Device Into Office Remote for Android


Multitasking is the name of the game these days, and nobody understands that as well as Microsoft. In support of those pursuits, Office Remote for Android turns your phone into the command centre via Bluetooth for desktop-based Microsoft Office 2013 and 2016 Preview programs (on Windows, Mac support is distinctly lacking at the moment).

There isn’t much to it, but there are a few handy features: advance PowerPoint slides (and read your speaker notes), use your fingertip as a laser pointer across the screen of the host computer, manipulate Excel tables, and jump through headings in a Word document.

It is another good sign from the Microsoft camp, proving they are abandoning their old platform-dependent ways… plus it makes my smartphone even more valuable as a multitasking tool.

Office Remote for Android

Microsoft Turns Your Android Device Into Office Remote for Android is a post from: Good e-Reader

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Read-Alikes!

If you're anything like me, you've binge-watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt at least five times since its debut on Netflix. My Unbreakableaddiction is seriously becoming a problem, it's even spurred several bouts of Hulkamania. I need more! If you also need more Unbreakable goodness in your life, step away from the TV, grab some pinot noir, and check out one of these books:

Dawn and the Surfer Ghost by Ann M. Martin – This book helped Kimmy survive the bunker and put Xanthippe in her place, so you know it's good. C'mon there is a surfer ghost, what more could you ask for?!

Bossypants by Tina Fey – Fey's signature humor is what makesUnbreakable so fantastic, so her book is a must-read for fans.

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus – If you enjoy watching watching Kimmy's experiences working for the uber-rich Vorhees clan, you'll love this humorous look at Park Aveune nannyhood.

Finding Me by Michelle Knight – If the plight of the Mole Women has you interested in real-life kidnapping survivors, pick up Michelle Knight's memoir. It's a heartbreaking but inspiring tale of courage in the face of unimaginable circumstances.

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham – Do you crack up watching Titus's attempts to become a famous actor? Then you might like this charming novel about a young woman also trying to find acting success in New York.

Click here to view these titles and more recommendations in Marketplace.

Title availability may vary across regions and platforms.

Michelle Ross is a Collection Development Analyst at OverDrive and hashbrown no filter.


Scribd Adds Over 9,000 Audiobooks from Penguin Random House

Today Scribd announced that they’ve just added over 9,000 audiobook titles from Penguin Random House to their subscription service. A number of popular titles are included in the deal. Some of the notable audiobooks being offered are The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, The Buried […]

Reviewing Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

I owe a lot to Sarah Dessen. Let me explain. I first began reading her novels back in 2003 when the film "How to Deal" was released. While Mandy Moore may have gotten me into the theater doors, (I was a wee teen, don't judge) I've stayed with Dessen all these years later for her honesty, her wit and the way she creates such real characters that I can relate to again and again. (Additionally, her social media presence is lovely. I urge you to read her Twitter page for daily wit and wisdom.)

{84AF3E1A-329F-4BDB-9654-E45D1F0E49BF}Img400Dessen's 12th novel, Saint Anything, may be my favorite novel of hers yet. It is an honest story about Sydney Stanford as she copes with her older brother's recent drunk driving conviction that shoves her usually well-ordered family into chaos. Cast aside as her parents focus on her brother's troubles, Sydney searches for a place to belong.

It would seem like fate when the Chatham family enters Sydney's world. Sydney befriends outgoing and friendly Layla and Layla's cute brother, Mac. Finally amongst those that really see her, Sydney can begin to deal with the guilt, the loss and the issues that come from her family's turmoil.

What captivated me the most about this latest story by Dessen was the depth in which readers can see into the character of Sydney. She's overwhelmingly relatable as she carries the weight of guilt over her brother's actions and struggles to share her desire to be seen as an individual…someone not tied to her brother's shadow.

As can be expected from Dessen, the love story within Saint Anything is perfect and charming. The family struggles are heartbreaking and hopeful. The bonds between female friends are not understated. Sydney's friendship with Layla had me missing my best friends in a way that only "girl time" can solve.

Teens and adults alike will enjoy Saint Anything and its release, May 5, 2015, is just in time to enjoy during Dessen's favorite season, summer. So grab as many copies of this book as you can from your nearest library and head to the beach (or just outside in the sunshine)!

For Saint Anything Read-alikes, check out some suggestions here:


Emma Kanagaki is a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive

The Crackdown on Fake Reviews Has Begun

In a move that can easily be categorized under “omg it’s about freakin’ time” (considering Amazon posted its first-ever book review twenty years ago), the largest bookstore in the world has finally taken the first steps in combating fake reviews by suing three pay-for-review sites that operate out of California. These sites make promises about the slow posting of the reviews so as not to arouse suspicions, offer a 100% “stick” guarantee that states their reviews will make it to Amazon’s site or they’ll be replaced, and more.

One site in particular,, makes no bones about its business model and doesn’t even try to hide its purpose. In fact, the very selection of its domain name and its constant referral to the retailer as “Azon” is a calculated legal move; Amazon’s lawsuit names trademark violations and “cybersquatting” (using a company name to boost your own business) as two of the issues that prompted the suit. The site’s creator danced on the line of legality while still making it quite clear where these reviews would end up.

It’s important to note that sending out samples of a product with the purpose of garnering reviews is not a suspicious practice. But according to Lisa Vaas for, at least one review site even gave out advice on how to garner a “verified purchase” review by shipping the reviewer an empty box so Amazon would think the review was based on a genuine sampling of the product. That way, the review went through with the “Verified Purchase” tag on it but the person paying for these reviews didn’t lose any more money on shipping out actual products.

While these review sites were geared more towards physical products other than books, such as gadgets that vendors might sell through the Amazon Marketplace, some of the first complaints from the internet community about Amazon reviews centered on self-published authors who were accused of buying reviews of their books. It wasn’t long before authors were accused of also buying bad reviews of “competitors'” books. Once Goodreads was purchased by Amazon, the concept of leaving scathing reviews for authors’ works as retaliation for some perceived bad behavior or insult took off. It was mind-boggling enough that consumers had to seriously call into question the validity of any review, good or bad.

Whether or not this lawsuit will put an end to shmarmy review behavior is up in the air, but it might do enough to send a message to other companies offering similar services. Amazon has a fairly solid history of not taking on a fight it doesn’t at least hope to win (looking at you, Big Five publishers who got their agency pricing deals), but this time the stakes are triple damages AND legal fees. For a shady character from California named Jay Gentile–owner of the sites in question–to cough up the cost of Amazon’s legal team on this one seems a little far-fetched, so perhaps this really is just an attempt on Amazon’s part to at least look like they’ve tried to do something constructive.

The Crackdown on Fake Reviews Has Begun is a post from: Good e-Reader

Raspberry Pi Powered Minion Fart Gun Machine

The Raspberry Pi Powered Minion Fart Gun Machine. It’s got LEGO. It’s got an ultrasonic proximity sensor. It’s got farts. We loved it.

Paul Weeks‘ kids are the proud owners of a Minion Fart Gun. It’s a toy reproduction of a despicable gadget from the movie Despicable Me 2.



(You can buy your own Fart Blaster on Amazon – but this project will work with any toy that has a trigger mechanism.)

Paul had an ultrasonic sensor kicking around from some other Raspberry Pi projects he’d worked on with his kids (the Scratch Ultrasonic Elephant Cheese-Puff Game is a thing of beauty, and we commend it to you). He also had a box full of LEGO Technic. He brought everything together with his kids to make beautiful music fart noises when someone approaches the setup.

Paul has created a thorough writeup, complete with code. It’s a fun project; you’ll learn about controlling motors, how ultrasonic sensors work, and how best to annoy family members going to the loo in the dark in the middle of the night. Thanks Paul; we salute you! (Please don’t come near us with that thing.)

Essential Funimation Anime


If you’ve just gotten a Funimation subscription, or maybe you're mulling over the idea of acquiring one, it might be hard to decide what to watch first. Here is, in no particular order, a list of the essential Funimation anime: the ones you simply have to see.

Soul Eater


One of Funimation's top-selling anime, it'll be a surprise if you haven't seen this one already. But just in case you haven't – jump on that train immediately! The story takes place in an alternate universe where demonic creatures are hunted and reaped by teams of human 'meisters', and their partners that switch between human and weapon form. The show is equal parts humour, action, and the supernatural. The three elements blend together well, so you never feel as if one is completely overtaking the other. The relationships between the characters feel real, as does the pain they suffer. You'll be drawn into this one from the start!

Ouran High School Host Club


Don't let the cherry blossoms and pretty boys fool you. This anime is a comedic, often satirical look at the shojo genre. The story follows a young scholarship student attending a school filled with the rich and elite. She stumbles across the Host Club, a group of boys who want to help the girls of the school pass the time by "appreciating beauty" – by appreciating their own beauty, that is. The student finds herself mistaken for a boy due to her short hair and thin stature, and is brought in to be part of the club. Funny and heartwarming at the same time, this anime is already considered a classic. And before you enter, be warned: it will be years before you get that "Kiss, kiss, fall in love!" out of your head.

Assassination Classroom


Or the oft-shortened "AssClass," this fairly new anime deals with yellow, octopus-like alien teacher in a classroom filled with students trying to assassinate him. Not hooked yet? What if we mention that this alien teacher asked the students to try and assassinate him, because, if they don't manage it by a certain deadline, he'll destroy the world? Fun and filled with entertaining assassination attempts, this anime is one you may not have seen yet but should be the next on your list.

Cowboy Bebop


It's only 26 episodes, but those 26 episodes will be filled with all the space-western neo-noir action you can handle. Often referred to as one of the greatest anime of all time, the series follows an exiled hitman who now works as a bounty hunter of sorts aboard the ship Bebop. The series is dark and gritty, with complex multi-faceted characters and an incredible soundtrack. By the end of it, you'll be saying "See you space cowboy" to anyone who will listen.

Fullmetal Alchemist/Brotherhood


Let's face it, you've probably already seen FMA. You already know it's one of the best anime of all time. You already know about the compelling characters and complex villains. You already know about the comedy and the tragedy. You already know about the world-building and beautiful animation. But no list of the essentials could be complete without at least mentioning it, and besides, who says you can't give it a second (third, fourth?) watch?

Eureka Seven


This one comes from a personal recommendation from the author herself. One of the best anime to surface out of the mecha genre, Eureka Seven deals with underlying themes of religious persecution, corrupt militarism, government testing and love that transcends human nature, all to the backdrop of fighting in giant robots. It's the story of a young boy whose life is changed entirely when a mecha crashes in his backyard, piloted by one of the prettiest (and strangest) girls he's ever seen. While this anime may start out slow for some, and the mythology and world-building may take some getting used to, once this anime sinks its claws in it will never let you go. If you haven't already seen this wonderfully crafted masterpiece, then I have only Funimation's motto to say: You should be watching.

Essential Funimation Anime is a post from: Good e-Reader

Scribd Now Offers Thousands of Bestselling Audiobooks

PRHAudioiPhoneStillsScribd has ironed out a new agreement with Penguin/Randomhouse to include over 9,000 audiobooks. Listeners will be able to check out some current bestsellers, such as The Girl on the Train, Fifty Shades of Grey, Gone Girl, Wild, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and A Game of Thrones; award-winning recordings such as Bill Clinton's My Life narrated by the former president, John Grisham's Runaway Jury narrated by Michael Beck, Kathryn Stockett's The Help narrated by Jenna Lamia, Octavia Spencer, Bahni Turpin, and Cassandra Campbell; and renowned narrators including Christopher Plummer, Diane Keaton, Barbara Walters, Kate Winslet, and more.

Scribd has made it their mission to be one of the leading Netflix for e-books subscription services. They started to focus on audiobooks in November 2014 in order to differentiate themselves from Entitle and Oyster. The company launched with 30,000 audiobooks titles from Blackstone, HarperCollins, Scholastic and Naxos.

CEO Trip Adler stated "Penguin Random House Audio is one of the world's most admired publishers, and we are excited to work with them to expand the potential audience for audiobooks by putting thousands of their amazing titles at readers' fingertips," said Trip Adler, co-founder and CEO of Scribd. "Since we launched audiobooks last fall, reading time on Scribd has doubled. This is great news for Scribd and for our publishing partners."

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. In a recent  New York Times piece, they said "In the first eight months of 2014, sales were up 28% over the same period last year, far outstripping the growth of e-books, which rose 6%."

I think Scribd’s continued focus on audiobooks will hopefully spur further adoption because of the low monthly price. The cost of an Audiobook are often drastically inflated and is a financial barrier for mainstream acceptance. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green costs $4.99 for the Kindle edition, but the audiobook costs $17.99. Max Brooks seminal World War Z – The Oral History of the Zombie Wars costs $9.99 for the Kindle edition, but the audiobook will set you back $28.00.

Scribd Now Offers Thousands of Bestselling Audiobooks is a post from: Good e-Reader

Twitter Advice for Indie Authors


Indie authors often make the cardinal sin of promoting their latest book and nothing else. Most authors see Twitter as a vehicle to drive sales to whatever new title they are hawking instead of a social media community that builds brand loyalty.The most successful authors often have a Twitter audience that genuinely cares about them. How do they do it?

Jennifer Weiner has sold millions of books, spent a combined five years on the New York Times best-seller list, and amassed 109,000 followers on Twitter. Last week, she descended into the basement of New York City's Ace Hotel to share a handful of her self-promotional secrets. The talk, sponsored by the PEN American Center, was titled "How to Be Authentic on Social Media," but its true subject was how to promote your book on the Internet without making everyone hate you. Weiner advised authors to tweet about the things they love (for Weiner, it's the reality TV romance competition The Bachelor); to tweet about the authors they love (Roxane Gay and Gary Shteyngart are two of her favorites); and to tweet about their own projects "sparingly, carefully, modestly, thoughtfully, and absolutely as little as possible"—and let their now-loyal crew of social media followers spread the word.

Joanna Penn of the Creative Penn said “You can't join twitter and expect to get a flood of traffic and sales to your site. It is a social networking site and rewards you for time and effort put in. There is a cumulative effect over time. I started with zero followers a year ago and now have over 12,000. This is a slow growth approach based on time, effort and being useful. I have not used any of the so called techniques for quickly getting followers. People find my site based on the tweets I put out there sporadically when I post a new blog article, or when they click through my profile to find out more about me. Then they may buy my books, download the free information and subscribe. This is the only long term solution for getting Twitter traffic and marketing. Give first, and you will receive. Twitter is one of the top 3 traffic producers for this site. That's why it is worth using.”

Nicolas Rossis mused that writers should just be themselves. “Are you witty, funny, sarcastic, serious or a combination of any of those? Tweet about everyday musings. People love connecting with people and if you are yourself, people will appreciate it. Don't try to be something you aren't or try to be what you think readers will want to hear. I am myself aka MRS N on Twitter and I tweet about a lot of things. I have met a lot of friends on Twitter and they ALL are excited about my book. Why? Because they are intrigued and like me for me.”

I see a large majority of indie authors who simply link to their e-book on Amazon and hope for the best. Did you know you can actually have your followers add things to their shopping cart automatically. Last year Amazon and Twitter formed a partnership for a program called #Amazoncart. This program is fairly simple, users can link their Twitter account with Amazon and then automatically add items to their shopping cart by responding to any tweet with an Amazon product link bearing the hashtag #AmazonCart.

The worst thing that a writer can do is just use hashtags like #bymybook. It is important for an indie author to be authentic and engaging. You won’t suddenly get thousands of followers out of the gate, its organic.

Twitter Advice for Indie Authors is a post from: Good e-Reader