Thursday, June 4, 2015

Top Audiobook Apps for Android – 2015


There aren’t that many quality Audiobook apps for Google Android, as most companies tend to focus on iOS. Still, if you are looking to buy audiobooks, borrow them from the library or subscribe to an audiobook streaming service there are a number of viable options.

June 2015 is audiobook month and we are putting the spotlight on them all month long. All of these audiobook apps on this list are available to downloaded for free from the Good e-Reader App Store. Many of the apps are available on Google Play, but most are only able to be downloaded if you live in the US.

Nook Audiobooks – Barnes and Noble launched a new audiobook service a few months ago and the company is really hyping this service in bookstores and online. There are over 50,000 audiobooks available the app is fairly well designed.

Mortplayer Audiobooks – Mortplayer allows you to import in your own audiobooks that you download from the internet. They also have a number of widgets that can be added to your homescreen to better access content.

Audible – Audible is the largest audiobook system in the world. They have over 180,000 titles can be downloaded for free or purchased. The company always has a promotion where if you are register for a new account you can download a few audio titles for free. Audible is owned by Amazon and has the largest footprint in terms of sheer number of users who regularly access the platform.

Scribd – Scribd started out as an e-book subscription platform that allows you to read as many titles as you want, for a monthly fee. The company deverisfied into audiobooks a few months ago and is quickly becoming a hit. Instead of buying your audio titles one by one, you can listen to as many as you want. The service is not only exclusive to the United States either, they are in a ton of international markets.

Audiobooks by – This is one of the most popular audiobook platforms because it has a ton of content. There are over 60,000 audiobooks available to purchase and 2,500 for free. This app is really well designed and colorful. If you are a member of this company, you save anywhere between 50% and 80% off the cover price. Additionally June 2015 is Audiobook Month and this company is giving away a free one everyday, most are bestsellers.

Overdrive – Overdrive is the largest company currently particiapting in the library space. When your local library offers e-books, audiobooks or music, chances are they deal with these guys. The official Overdrive app allows you to listen to audiobooks that are borrowed from the library. The average new title certainly does not have the same type of waiting list as a physical book or e-book. This is a very popular app and many people are using it on their smartphones and tablets.

LibriVox Audio Books – LibriVox Audio Books access to over 15,000 free audio books. Each LibriVox audio book can be streamed over the internet or downloaded for later use without any charge. US users can access an additional 50,000 professional audiobooks. The LibriVox Audio Books app includes listings for new recordings, featuring classic best sellers and out of print treasures.

3M Cloud Library – The 3M Cloud Library allows you to borrow and read eBooks and eAudiobooks from your local public library for free. Your library needs to subscribe to the service and you will need your library card and PIN to access the content. The newly redesigned app includes all new navigation and personalization, making it easier than ever to find eBooks or Audiobooks from your local public library. This app includes a fully functional reader allowing the user to read their ebook directly in the app, as well as bookmark and save the position of their book across devices. It also includes an Audiobook player, allowing the user to download, play and listen to their books offline.

Top Audiobook Apps for Android – 2015 is a post from: Good e-Reader

Top 10 Bestselling Audiobooks May 2015


Today we are taking a look at the bestselling audiobooks from May 2015. If you are looking for fiction and non-fiction titles, this list should give you an indication on what is selling.


1. Radiant Angel by Nelson DeMille, narrated by Scott Brick (Hachette Audio)

2. The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams, narrated by the author (Phoenix Books)

3. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, narrated by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey and India Fisher (Penguin Audio)

4. Piranha by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison, narrated by Scott Brick (Penguin Audio)

5. The Heat of the Moon by Sandra Parshall, narrated by Tavia Gilbert (Blackstone Audio)

6. The Neon Lawyer by Victor Methos, narrated by Nick Podehl (Brilliance Audio)

7. Three Daughters by Consuelo Saah Baehr, narrated by Karen Peakes (Brilliance Audio)

8. Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson, narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron (Brilliance Audio)

9. All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr, narrated by Zach Appelman (Simon & Schuster Audio)

10. The Martian by Andy Weir, narrated by R.C. Bray (Podium Publishing)


1. Now I Know More: The Revealing Stories Behind Even More of the World’s Most Interesting Facts by Dan Lewis, narrated by Anthony Haden Salerno (Audible Studios)

2. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance, narrated by Fred Sanders (Harper Audio)

3. The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life by Thomas M. Sterner, read by the author (Mountain Sage Publishing)

4. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller (Tantor Audio)

5. Yes Please by Amy Poehler, narrated by the author with Carol Burnett, Seth Meyers, Mike Schur, Eileen Poehler, William Poehler, Patrick Stewart and Kathleen Turner (Harper Audio)

6. Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers by Nick Offerman, narrated by the author (Penguin Audio)

7. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough, narrated by the author (Simon & Schuster Audio)

8. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie, narrated by Andrew MacMillan (Simon & Schuster Audio)

9. You Might Remember Me: The Life and Times of Phil Hartman by Mike Thomas, narrated by Corey Snow (Audible Studios)

10. Bossypants by Tina Fey, narrated by the author (Hachette Audio)

Top 10 Bestselling Audiobooks May 2015 is a post from: Good e-Reader

Amazon Kids Tablet Launches in UK and Germany


Amazon has put together their first true true tablet aimed at children with the Fire HD Kids Edition. This device launched in late 2014 in the US and gives parents the option to subscribe to Kindle Freetime Unlimited, which includes thousands of apps, books and movies on a À la carte basis. It also has a child proof case that ships with the unit and a two year warranty. This tablet has just launched in the United Kingdom and Germany.

The Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition on a fundamental hardware level is the exact same as the Fire HD7. It has a seven inch capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1280 X 800 pixels. The colors look rich and vibrant, but it certainly won't break any barriers in terms of the 216 PPI. This device also comes in a few bright colors

Underneath the hood is a quadcore 1.5 GHZ processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 8 GB of internal storage. There is also a rear facing camera with 3 MP and a fairly woeful front facing .03 MP camera.

When you buy the kids tablet it comes with your choice of colors for the rubber protective housing. There is a few that will appeal to boys and girls, such as blue, pink and yellow.  The two year unlimited warranty should also placate parents.

Now the big question is,  should you buy this tablet for your kids? Freetime Unlimited is fairly compelling, it gives you thousands of free apps, games and e-books.  Amazon does not accept any content with in-app payments, so there are no hidden agendas. The service is not free though, it costs £2 or 3 euros per month, or up to £8 or 10 euros per month for a family of up to four children . Parents can also lock out specific aspects, such as the internet browser, YouTube or social media accounts.

This tablet might be a viable investment for tech savvy families who have WIFI enabled cars and want a tablet that will act as a babysitter. On the other hand, I don’t know if young kids should have fully featured multimedia tablets to use unsupervised. It can lead to sexting, cyber-bulling or adult only content.

Amazon Kids Tablet Launches in UK and Germany is a post from: Good e-Reader

The Challenges of Self-Publishing an Audiobook


Indie authors who want to distribute and sell an e-book have hundreds of viable options. Every major online bookseller such as Amazon, B&N  and Kobo all have their own portals to submit content and sell it worldwide. Things are very different with digital audiobooks, which has quickly become a billion dollar industry. There are few options for indie authors to create an audiobook and offer it for sale.

Indie authors are facing insurmountable challenges when they want to generate an audiobook of their novel. Unlike writing a book, it is very hard to create and distribute an audio edition by themselves.

Some authors want to narrate their own books and submit it to various online retailers by themselves, after all they wrote the book themselves, how hard can it be?

The stark truth is that making an audiobook goes far beyond investing in a microphone and mixing board. For example, the sound must be consistent. Why? Consistency in audio levels, tone, noise level, spacing, and pronunciation helps give the listener a great experience. Drastic changes can be jarring and are not in keeping with a professional production. Extreme fluctuations in volume means the listener will have to keep a hand on the volume control of their listening device. This detracts from the listening experience and may lead to poor reviews and reduced sales.

An audiobook needs opening and closing credits which state the title of the book, the authors name and the publisher. The end credits merely need to say the end. The final product also needs a sample between 1 and 5 minutes in order to give a prospective listener a taste of whats to come.

If you want to submit your audiobook to Audible, Apple or Amazon and are doing it yourself, things get even more advanced. You have to record your books in segments, chapter by chapter. You simply can’t record one file that is 4 hours. Each uploaded file must have between 0.5 and 1 second of room tone at the head, and between 1 and 5 seconds of room tone at the tail. Each uploaded file must be free of extraneous sounds such as plosives, mic pops, mouse clicks, excessive mouth noise, and outtakes. Each uploaded file must measure between -23dB and -18dB RMS.Each uploaded file must have peak values no higher than -3dB. Each uploaded file must have a noise floor no higher than -60dB RMS. Finally each file must be 44.1 kHz and each file no larger than 170MB.

If you don’t know what any of the above actually means? Chances are you won’t be able to record the audiobook yourself and instead must lean on a professional.

The most viable way to discovery content producers and sound engineers is via the Audiobook Creation Exchange. It is a platform that is run Audible, which is an Amazon company. In order to get started with ACX you have to look around for narrators that you want to do business with and make them an offer. Do you want to pay them for their efforts upon completion of the audiobook or do you prefer to split your royalties with them fifty-fifty? You will be faced with this choice before you can send them the Offer.

When the audiobook is completed it can be submitted to the Audible store. It also gets distributed on the main Amazon website and also the Apple store. In the near future Apple is moving audiobooks out of iTunes and including them in a new section on the iBookstore.

The drawback of the Audible Creation Exchange is that it is only available for US residents, with a valid tax ID number and billing address. This prevents millions of authors who reside in Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe from taking advantage of the platform and submitting content. Some people bypass this by 3rd parties who submit the audiobook on the authors behalf, but there is a severe lack of companies willing to do this.

So what happens if you don’t live in the US and still want to get an audiobook produced for your novels? Luckily there are a few companies out there that are willing to do it.


This is a UK based company that does all of the production work, such as hiring producers, mixers and talent to read the book. The company distributes to Amazon, Audible and iTunes.  Royalty payments will be made on a quarterly basis through  Paypal.


This company will produce your audiobook for you or if you decide to DIY it, will help with distribution into iTunes, Amazon and Audible.  The website allows authors to browse a wide selection of professional narrators to read your book and do all of the production work. You are looking at between $100 and $200 an hour for them to record the work.

Infinity Publishing

Many audiobook production companies end up charging by the hour, instead of for the final product. It makes it hard to know exactly how much you will ultimately be spending. Infinity Publishing has a standard package of $599, your book will be recorded by a professional male or female reader.

The audio will be edited to remove clicks, pops, mouth noise, stops and starts; pacing and timing will be adjusted with clean room sound inserted between all edit points. The final product will have music at the beginning and end of the program, as well as spoken credits to talk about your website and your other books available.

Book Baby and CD Baby

This company is mainly about distributing your finished product and does not really help with the actual production of it. Do you want to sell CDs of your audiobook? CD Baby can help you professionally and affordably manufacture any quantity of your audiobook on compact disc and ship them to you in a matter of days. For a quote, click HERE.

For a one-time setup fee, CD Baby will warehouse your audiobook CDs and ship them to customers around the world! You can also offer it as an MP3 download on your own website, or create a podcast that releases one new chapter per week.

The Problems with Distribution

There is a massive distribution problem when an indie author wants to try and get their audiobook out there to be sold.  Audible is the only major player for self-publishing.

Smaller companies do exist, but their footprint is really small. Open Book Audio is a fine example, they do accept content from indie authors but their website looks like it was made in 1992 and they don’t have any apps to listen to the books while on the go.

I have reached out to a number of companies involved in the audiobook space and they all agree that distribution is a massive problem.  Things are so bad right now that indie authors are actively encouraged to sell the digital audio edition on their own website or via social media. How in the hell is an author supposed to get themselves out there if no one has ever heard of them and will likely never listen to their digital edition?

Room for Growth

The audiobook industry is rife with untapped opportunities for enterprising individuals. There is simply no deal of the day websites that currently exist, the best you get is the odd GoodReads post on the subject. There is no catch-all recording and distribution service for indie authors that reside outside of the US. There is no audiobook discovery service that curates lists and gets people enamored with the format.

It feels like audiobooks right now are in the same position as e-books in 2007. People are realizing there is a lot of untapped potential in the market, but everyone is waiting for someone else to make the first move.

The Challenges of Self-Publishing an Audiobook is a post from: Good e-Reader

These are a few of our favorite… Audiobooks!

June is Audiobook Month and the Collection Development Analyst team thought it would be fun to celebrate by sharing some of our favorite listens.


audiobooksRachel’s Pick

Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish by John Hargrove

Michelle’s Pick

Carsick by John Waters

Emma’s Pick

How to be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Berest

Kristin's Pick

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Liz's Pick

Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

We all love…

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

You can check out the entire list in Marketplace by clicking the link below.

Analyst Team’s Favorite Aubiobooks

As always, the Collection Development team is available to help create any recommended lists. Email for more information today!

Some titles are metered access and may have limited regional or platform availability. Check OverDrive Marketplace to find what is available for you.

Rachel Kray is a Collection Development Analyst at OverDrive

How to Set Default Kindle Device & Send eBooks to Multiple Kindles

One of the cool things about Kindle ebooks is that you can choose which Kindle device or Kindle app you want to send the ebook to directly from the product page when making a purchase. You can also set things up so that Amazon will always automatically deliver new ebooks to a specific Kindle device […]

Data Demonstrates Most Well-Read Cities in the US

Girl lying in grass reading with a computer tablet
In a move that’s sure to tick off… well, everyone… Amazon has released another list of cities that purport to have the most well-read populations. There are a few flaws in their data, such as the fact that the list was determined by book sales, not by some factor that actually demonstrates book reading as opposed to book shopping, but overall it was an interesting peek into consumers’ book behavior.

While the list took into account book sales, magazine sales, and newspaper sales in both print and digital formats, it only looked at cities with a population of 500,000 or more. According to data from Demographia per the 2000 Census, that’s only 71 cities in the US, which is hardly a representative sample and fails to include Knoxville, Tennessee, a city that has repeatedly topped another Amazon list for having the most romance readers.

In order, the top 20 cities that are now dubiously declared the most well-read include:

1. Seattle, Wash.
2. Portland, Ore.
3. Las Vegas, Nev.
4. Tucson, Ariz.
5. Washington, D.C.
6. Austin, Texas
7. San Francisco, Calif.
8. Albuquerque, N.M.
9. Denver, Colo.
10. Louisville, Ky.
11. Charlotte, N.C.
12. Baltimore, Md.
13. San Diego, Calif.
14. Houston, Texas
15. Indianapolis, Ind.
16. San Jose, Calif.
17. Jacksonville, Fla.
18. San Antonio, Texas
19. Nashville, Tenn.
20. Chicago, Ill.

"We're excited to see Seattle take the top spot on our annual Most Well-Read Cities list," said Sara Nelson, Editorial Director of Print and Kindle Books at, in a press release. "Summer has just begun and we hope we can help readers discover their next favorite books and contribute to their cities' well-read ranking.”

Some other findings from Amazon’s data mining include:

  • Seattle, Wash., the home of Amazon headquarters, not only purchased the most books overall but also purchased the most Kindle books, magazines, and newspapers.
  • Washington, D.C. residents, ranked #5 overall on the list, prefer the print book, outranking Seattle as the city with the most purchases of print books.
  • California is for readers with three cities making the top 20 list this year: San Francisco, San Diego, and San Jose.
  • Las Vegas is for lovers—their residents purchased the most romance titles.
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was the top-selling title in seven of the top 20 cities: Houston, Texas; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Tucson, Ariz., Louisville, Ky.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Baltimore, Md.

Data Demonstrates Most Well-Read Cities in the US is a post from: Good e-Reader

Schools leveraging end-of-year surpluses to expand digital content

The Beaufort County Public School District is at the forefront of a growing practice among schools to use surplus end-of-year funds to expand their digital content offerings.


Beaufort and other districts say this provides them the ability to offer students and educators fresh, in-demand titles when they return for the start of the new term – a critical factor in ensuring deep engagement with digital content.

herb miller testimonialThe Beaufort schools serve roughly 20,000 PreK-12 students from across the socio-economic spectrum on the scenic southern tip of the state. Known for its strong focus on integrating technology into the classroom, the district recently successfully implemented a 1:1 device program for grades 3-12, and has partnered with OverDrive to deliver digital content to students and educators since 2011.

Anne Aita coordinates the district's OverDrive service, which connects thousands of readers with digital titles every month. She said leveraging surplus end-of-year funds to grow the district's selection of digital titles has played an important role in building student and educator interest in eBooks. "Word travels" among students when popular titles are available via OverDrive at the start of the year, she said, boosting digital circulation numbers.

Aita also performs staff training for the district's OverDrive service at the beginning of each year, and said having new titles to promote during these sessions builds educator enthusiasm around digital content. It's been proven that one of the best ways to increase student usage of digital content is to have educators on board as active users.

Major Publishers Are Screwing Readers with High e-book Prices


All five of the largest publishing companies in North America and Europe have negotiated new contracts with booksellers such as Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Google and Kobo. The new pricing strategy is called agency-lite, which mandates these stores sell e-books at a fixed cost. This has directly resulted in e-book prices to increase across the entire board. It is seriously bad for readers and its no small wonder print sales are on the rise.

I recently purchased a book that came out on May 26th, called Losing the Signal. It is a book that tells the tale of RIM and Blackberry, a fairly compelling read. I bought it the day it came out at 40% off the $32.00 cover price from Chapters Indigo. I ended up paying $12.80 for the book and Amazon is selling the e-book for $14.99. The price difference is only a few dollars, but I own the book. If I would have procured the Kindle edition, the book wouldn’t truly be mine, it would simply be licensed.

In the United States and Britain, sales of eBooks represent between a quarter and a third of the consumer book market. According to a recent survey by Nielsen Books, eBook sales made up 23% of unit sales for the first six months of 2014, while hardcover's accounted for 25% and paperbacks 42%. Overall e-book sales have fallen 6% in the US in all of 2014.

Publishers setting their own prices on e-books has not only alienated North American readers, but is failing to catch on in international markets. Last year, digital books made up 8% of the consumer book market in France, less than 4% in Germany and Italy, and 1% in Sweden and Norway.

Meanwhile over in Asia, Japan led the eBook markets with 15% of the country's total consumer book revenues; China and India, meanwhile, lagged far behind at 3%. Part of the reason why the adoption is so low is the actual cost of eBooks. If you look at the top 10 bestseller list, the average title in France its $24.99, $20.00 in Germany and $19.02 in Sweden. We have even heard reports that in the Netherlands some e-books cost double the amount as a hardcover.

One of the big problems with book selling in the digital world, is that titles that are older, tend not to depreciate in price. Whenever a hardcover book comes out, it often costs $25 to $35 dollars. Later on when the paperback edition is released it tends to retail for $9.99 to $12.99. Big box retailers such as Walmart and booksellers like Barnes and Noble just want them sold to clear our inventory. Its far more efficent to offer it for %30 to %40 off to get it sold. E-Books on the other hand cost the same amount, whether the book was published 20 years ago or last week.

The chief reason booksellers charge such exorbitant amounts for e-books is because of the huge overhead major publishers have. The largest publishers have glitzy huge rise office towers in Manhattan, lots of staff and bloat. They take gambles on thousands of books in the hopes they will be the next Game of Thrones, 50 Shades of Grey or a Harry Potter. The rent, the staff, the bills and upkeep drive e-book prices sky high, because they can and no one can fight them.

Amazon is certainly not a fan of higher e-book prices. When the company was very publicly battling Hachette over a new contract last year, they made some very critical remarks. "With an e-book there's no printing, no overprinting, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out-of-stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books," the company wrote. "E-books can be and should be less expensive."

"When the price goes up, customers buy much less," the Amazon Book Team noted. "For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if compared at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000."

There are two reasons why e-books are so expensive. One is the sheer size of the publishing companies and their crazy overhead.  Their pricing model for digital books is very out of touch with the modern consumer. The second, is the revenue is diverted into other digital initiatives. Recently Harpercollins and Shazam announced a partnership to get author interviews and an e-book selling mechanism going.  Random House also spent a boatload of cash in their ill-fated attempt to get an e-book discovery site going, called Book Scout.

The entire reason I started to buy e-books was to save money. I was a huge evangelist on buying digital and paying less than print. Now the opposite is true, its more cost efficent to buy the hardcover or paperback. I can loan it out to friends, showcase it on my bookshelf and I truly own it.

Major Publishers Are Screwing Readers with High e-book Prices is a post from: Good e-Reader

A wheelchair controlled by eye movements

Myrijam Stoetzer, 14, and Paul Foltin, 15, are from Duisburg in Germany. They have built a system for controlling a wheelchair using eye movements.

A standard webcam with the infrared filter removed tracks eye movements, and the eye is illuminated by (invisible) infrared light from LEDs to allow the system to work in low light conditions. A Raspberry Pi is used to process the video stream to obtain the position of the pupil and compare it with adjustable preset values representing forward, reverse, left and right. The command is then verified with a switch that is currently manual but that should eventually detect small movements of the tongue or cheek.

Myrijam and Paul

Myrijam and Paul demonstrate their wheelchair control system
Photo credit:

An Arduino controls recycled windscreen wiper motors via relays to turn custom 3D-printed wheels that sit against the tyres of the wheelchair and push the left and right wheels backwards or forwards to control movement and direction. The camera casing is also 3D-printed to Paul and Myrijam’s own design. The latest feature addition is a collision detection system using IR proximity sensors to detect obstacles.

This is their first project after moving on from LEGO Mindstorms, and they’ve chosen to use Python with the OpenCV image processing library for their first build using a full programming language, teaching themselves as they go along.

After finding that the Raspberry Pi 1 was a little slow to handle the image processing, Paul and Myrijam tried alternatives before switching to the Raspberry Pi 2 when it became available. It’s their preferred option considering cost and speed together, and they have said they’d welcome help to better their system’s performance by improving their code or by using the Pi 2’s four cores more efficiently.

Myrijam and Paul have been competing in Jugend forscht, the German science competition for young people, refining and extending their system as they have progressed through the competition, moving on from a model robotic platform to a real second-hand wheelchair, and using prize money from earlier rounds to fund improvements for later stages. At the weekend, they took their project to the final, where they were judged national winners in the “world of work” category. We’d like to offer them our heartfelt congratulations – we’re monumentally impressed by their work!

You can read more on Myrijam’s blog and on Hackaday, where you can also get in touch with this talented duo if you’re interested in helping them with their excellent project.

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