Friday, June 26, 2015

OverDrive once again the top digital reading app for libraries

Thank you! OverDrive continues to be rated the best eBook app for libraries based on user ratings from both iOS and Android users (4.5 stars). These ratings were based on far more downloads and ratings than our competitors.

Users enjoy the apps' functionality and UI as well as the convenience of being able to borrow and enjoy eBooks, audiobooks, movies and more all from one platform. Digital media has enabled readers to take the library with them anywhere. It's clear that when deciding which app to select to get the most out of their reading experience, users are choosing OverDrive.

As the nation's librarians convene at the ALA annual conference in San Francisco, Team OverDrive will present the Future of eBook lending in Booth #2541. To help librarians meet the growing demand for digital content in all popular formats, OverDrive will release its roadmap for a completely re-engineered platform, including web, app and mobile services through the use of improved technology and APIs. See the highest-rated eBook app for libraries, our browser-based products, along with many other demonstrations of the latest products and features.


Amazon Wants you to Share e-book Previews with your Friends


Amazon wants you to start sharing previews and samples of e-books you like with your friends via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or texting. Your buddies who receive a share can instantly start reading right from their phone without having to make an Amazon account or install any software.

I think there are a few obvious benefits to this new initiative by Amazon. If you just read a book or are super excited about a new one that just came out you can paste a special link to Facebook or via any instant messaging service so they can read the first few chapters. What I like most about this, is that it is platform agnostic, even if your friends use Barnes and Noble or Kobo, they don’t need an Amazon account or to download the Kindle app for Android or IOS.

The second major benefit is primarily authors who want to promote their e-book by giving away a free sample via social media. Instead of spamming #buymybook, they could simply promote the book and hopefully get people hooked.

Visit to get more details, and to see a few examples from DivergentThe Book Thief, and The Hobbit.

Would you Visit London for a Harry Potter Stage Play?


On the 18th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, author J.K. Rowling has announced a new stage play to open next year. It is entitled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and will only be playing in London at the Palace Theater.

Details are scant when it comes to the overall plot of the first stage play adaption of Harry Potter. Likely, it has something to do with the delve into what happened to Harry’s parents before they were killed by Lord Voldemort, forcing an infant Harry to be raised in miserable circumstances by his mother’s sister, Petunia, her horrid husband Vernon and their spoiled son Dudley.

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels have sold more than 450 million copies around the world, and spawned an eight-part film franchise that grossed more than $7 billion at the worldwide box office.

The play will be at the 1,400-seat Palace Theater, which was home to theatrical blockbuster Les Miserables for a record 19 years. Tickets go on sale in the fall and Pottermania will likely grip the world.

The big question is, would you fly to London to see it?

A chicken incubation system

As Chicken Week here at Pi Towers draws to a close, we are all thinking deep thoughts about roasting temperatures and the very best fillings for omelettes.


The eggs Dennis Hejselbak is working with are not for omelettes.

Dennis, who lives in Denmark, has built a Raspberry Pi-powered incubator, complete with camera. Chicken eggs take about 21 days to hatch, and today is day 11 of the incubation period, so if you keep an eye on the stream on his eggs page, you should be able to watch them hatch in ten days’ time.


When you’re hatching eggs, there are a few variables you’ll need to keep an eye on. There’s heat, which in this incubator is controlled by a light bulb (the box is polystyrene, so it’s well insulated) and an old CPU fan. Dennis needs to make sure the box is humid enough – that’s what the sponges are doing in the picture above, while a hygrometer attached to the Pi checks for humidity levels – and he turns the eggs manually two or three times a day, which is vital for a successful hatch. (He says that he’s hoping to automate the turning for the next batch of eggs he raises in this incubator.) Temperatures and humidity are captured on the live stream (this is a static image: click on the picture for the real stream on Dennis’ website).



Why would you build your own incubator? It’s much cheaper than commercial alternatives; you can add features like that camera; and the satisfaction you get out of building something like this yourself is enormous. This project is well within the grasp of schools: Dennis has made complete build instructions, with all the Python code and wiring schematics you’ll need available. (If you do start an incubator at school, make sure someone has access to the classroom at weekends to turn the eggs three times a day if you haven’t automated turning; chickens do not stop incubating outside school hours.)


Frankly, I’d rather like to start a chicken incubator at Pi Towers, but Emma has already forbidden office dogs, hamsters and anything more highly evolved than brine shrimp, so I’m guessing we may be out of luck.

This marks the end of Chicken Week.


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Barnes and Noble Launching New Website Next Week


Barnes and Noble has announced that they are redesigning their website that sells e-books, e-readers and consumer products. It will launch next week and this is the primary reason why people have been reporting various issues, such as  pages not loading or certain functionality that is missing.

During the financial quarterly results released yesterday the bookseller reported that retail sales, which include both e-commerce and in-store sales, fell 10.4% during its fiscal fourth quarter, and 4.4% in fiscal 2015.

To counteract that trend, the retailer aims to make it easier for shoppers to use, CEO Michael Huseby said today during a conference call with analysts. "We expect the website to be a valuable resource for customers, whether they choose to have their orders shipped to home or made available for in-store pickup," he said.

Customers aren't the only ones who should benefit from the new platform, Huseby said. "We can now take advantage of opportunities to streamline and consolidate systems and processes that are common to and Nook," he said. "There’s an opportunity to consolidate not just technology platforms, but processes and that means reduction of cost as well—not just personnel, but in terms of maintenance, hardware, software and maintenance of those types of things."

He went on to say that the new website is a " strategic shift from hardware to content-focused activities is reflected throughout our financials, including improved margins and lower expenses as content becomes the focus of the Nook sales mix.  Combining Nook with our retail business will give us all of these benefits and, most importantly, the ability to provide Barnes and Noble customers any book anytime, anywhere in any format that they choose."

No one from the media or outside Barnes and Noble really knows what the bookseller has planed or how the new design may sell more e-books.