Thursday, August 6, 2015

e-Reader Ownership Increases in the United Kingdom


E-Reader ownership is trending upwards in the United Kingdom. Over the course of the last year the number of people who owned a Kindle, Nook or Kobo has increased 28%, up 4% from the year prior.

The United Kingdom has quickly become a market that everyone wants to have a stake in. This is because not only are device sales profitable, but so are the sales of e-books. A few months ago Nielsen released data showing that online spending on books had overtaken in-store spending for the first time. E-books now account for 30% of book units purchased in the UK, and the sales of print and e-books together in 2014 stood at £2.2 billion, up from 4% the previous year.

Barnes and Noble is very bullish on the UK market, this is the only other country other than the US that they have any sort of presence in. The company has sponsored the Get London Reading campaign which saw 1,000 NOOK Simple Touch e-Readers get donated to Beanstalk, a national literacy charity that recruits and supports reading volunteers in schools. Barnes and Noble has also made the greatest impact on having their line of e-readers available in the retail sphere. Currently you can buy them at  John Lewis, Argos, the leading academic bookseller Blackwell's,  Foyles and Dixons, which oversees PC World and Currys.

Many independent e-reader companies also have a niche presence in the UK, such as Pocketbook, Energy Sistem, Onyx, Bookeen and Icarus.  The vast majority of these e-readers have the open Android concept, which allow readers to install their own apps, instead of being locked into a walled garden.

Speaking of walled gardens, Amazon has the largest footprint in the UK.  It is estimated that they account for 95% of all e-book sales and the Kindle is the most popular e-reader. Whenever a new device is issued, the UK is always the second market to get it after the US.

No one can quite explain why e-reader ownership is constantly increasing, not even the researchers compiling the data. I surmise that it has to do with e-books being cheaper than print and serious readers saving money. There is also e-books subscription services that are available such as Kindle Unlimited and Scribd.

e-Book Sales Fall 9.3% from January to July 2015


Our love affair with e-books is on the decline as sales have dramatically fallen 9.3% from January to July 2015. April was the worst month this year with e-book sales decreasing 51.6% year on year.

The Association of American Publishers releases data every single month from 1,200 publishers. According to this organization e-book sales have been on the decline all year long.

Why are e-book sales falling? The big 5 publishers, which includes Penguin/Random House, Macmillan, Simon and Schuster, Harper Collins and Hachette have implemented a new pricing mechanism that has seen the price of e-books increase from $9.99 to around $14.99.  I have found that often it is now cheaper to buy the paperback version or wait a few weeks after a big book release and watch the hardcover get my favorite sticker in the world – 40% off.

It is no surprise that publishing companies are seeing diminished revenue. If books cost a lot more, fewer people will buy them.

Recapping the afternoon of day 1 of #DigiP15

Strengthen the foundation: Insights from Collection Development Analysts



OverDrive’s own Collection Development Analyst, Kristin Milks, opened our afternoon sessions by going through some great tips and tricks for navigating OverDrive Marketplace to quickly find any and all of the content available. These are great for saving your collection development analysts time when their adding new content.


Holly Varley from the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County spoke next about how they budget for their collection to meet the demand of their users. Instead of simply dividing their budget by 12 for each year they increase their budget each month to meet the growing use of their OverDrive materials. She also mentioned how their staff takes advantage of the pre-pub access of OverDrive Marketplace titles to help drum up excitement and get the titles their patrons frequently want to read faster.


Hélène Golden from Southern Ontario Library Service came up next discussing purchasing on behalf of a consortium. She manages the collection development of an entire consortium by making sure that they use OverDrive’s automated features including metered alerts, holds manager, recommend to library and curated lists. She also mentioned that weeding their large collection is essential to keep up the ability to enable their patrons to find materials.


Jeriann Thacker of Phoenix Public Library finished the session by sharing how Greater Phoenix emphasizes their budget on special collections for community language speakers and ESL readers as well. They also stress the importance of using OverDrive’s Recommend To Library (RTL) tool as part of their patron driven acquisition efforts. An important part of this is promoting the RTL feature as often as possible. They use RTL to replace their inter library loan (ILL) program. On average this take three says using RTL as opposed to six weeks for the ILL program. The session ended with a spirited Q&A that provided valuable feedback including the importance of the power of the reporting available in OverDrive Marketplace.


Readers’ Advisory: Connecting users with books and authors



Cindy Orr began our Readers’ Advisory (RA) panel by discussing the importance of RA by stating that 84% of users believe that it is essential. The more often you refresh your collection and change your displays the more your circulation will grow. Maria Cipriano from Toronto Public Library took the stage next to discuss the art of curation and merchandising content.


In 2013 Toronto had a circulation of 1.5 million eBooks through OverDrive and this year they are on target to hit 3 million downloads thanks in large part to their tireless marketing efforts from everywhere to their malls to their train stations to universities and word of mouth. Merchandising is essential because provides the ability of readers advisory and engage with your customers. And don't forget about curated collections. They are prime real estate to promote your titles. Maria also shared some of Toronto’s curated collections that are frequented often by their users.


Rachel Kray, a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive, next presented on how OverDrive can assist with RA including our suggested and recommended lists which can be found on our Partner Portal. These are great time savers and help provide high circ’ing options for your users. The OverDrive Collection Development team also provides monthly eHighlights catalogs to let you see the hottest titles coming out. Rachel showed powerful stats as well on the importance of curating collections. Libraries using curated collections are seeing 100%+ increases in circulation of those titles.


Robin Nesbit from Columbus Metro rounded out our RA panel by sharing the history, successes and future of the wonderful LibraryReads program. LibraryReads increases library relevance with publishers and helps launch great authors and their books. Using LibraryReads in the library is great for building displays as well as on social media and for book clubs. Robin then excitedly shared her favorite titles that are coming out soon that we can’t wait to check out.


Take your digital library from ordinary to extraordinary


Our final session of the day was a series of lightning talks. Each library speaker got five minutes and one powerpoint slide (!!) to share their creative ideas on how they’re bringing in new users and keeping their existing users engaged. We saw wonderful presentations on reaching out to users of all ages and how to help get them started by using creative how to guides.


There were also slides showing off libraries engaging with patrons at community events as well as with local schools. Some libraries also used earned media to get local news coverage. Our first school librarian, Jenn Peterson, from Menasha Joint School District gives OverDrive accounts to every staff member so they all have the ability to talk about their eBook collection. For schools it’s very important to stress summer reading availability not just for the students but for staff as well because they finally have time.


Other librarians discussed how they made sure not only to train their users but especially their staff so they could talk up the digital library to patrons. Many also took advantage of the OverDrive Challenge as a way to motivate new checkouts and OverDrive APIs to conveniently provide users their titles. 


The panel had tons of wonderful ideas and if you’d like help you can always reach out to your Account Specialist. We’re happy to assist. Now it’s off to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a night of dancing and fun!

Recapping the morning sessions from day one of #DigiP15

Libraries and Digital Media: State of the Industry 


The morning of #DigiP15 began with a wonderful breakfast sponsored by Tantor Media and then some welcoming remarks from OverDrive CEO Steve Potash. It wouldn't be Digipalooza without a surprise performance and the Cleveland Cavs Scream Team didn’t disappoint, putting on an tumbling performance throughout the conference hall. Steve used his remarks to put into perspective where Digipalooza and OverDrive were and where we’ve grown to since the first Digipalooza in 2006. In that year only 12% of the New York Times bestseller list was available through OverDrive. In 2015 that number is 100%.

After Steve spoke the President of the American Library Association, Sari Feldman took the stage to share her perspective on the state of the digital media industry. She discussed the beginning of the internet with libraries and stressed the importance of taking into account what patrons are coming to the library for because access to digital media has changed this. Today, libraries remain the critical place for curiosity, learning and knowledge. It’s essential that libraries continue with a forward thinking thought process to keep up with technology.

Meredith Schwartz of Library Journal then took the stage to give a sneak preview of their user survey that will be coming out in the fall. We don’t want to spoil the results but she stressed the challenges that different sized library systems face and how libraries are working to make eBook reading possible for all users. Meredith also discussed the many “homegrown” solutions libraries are using to remove the digital divide and how they’re using eBooks as a powerful outreach tool. By incorporating eBooks into outreach campaigns and putting eBooks into places like airports and train stations libraries are making sure the community has the ability to access these titles anytime and anywhere.

Andrew Richard Albanese was up next on behalf of Publishers Weekly to discuss the eBook and library relationship from a publishers point of view. He stressed that while the relationship is strong there are still some reservations that publishers feel about this new landscape. His key observations were that we are in an era of experimentation and digital reading is here to stay. Librarians are facing competition for the attention of the readers and digital reading can help capture that attention. He also mentioned that the product is no longer books. The product is reading.

One of OverDrive’s “resident geeks” and Product Owners, Quinton Lawman closed out the session by showing how users can stay connected to the library by using the technology of today. Digital and physical libraries coexist beautifully and the physical library itself is the perfect place to provide access to technology for your community.

The Ultimate Mission: Reaching every corner of your community


Scarlett Fisher-Herreman opened up second session about reaching new users by discussing how to create an entire community of digital enthusiasts. Topeka uses various methods including shor TV ads featuring people outside their normal demographics as well as using social media and bi-monthly newsletters that go out to every household in Shawnee County whether they have a library card or not. She also stressed the importance of cross-promoting eBooks and print books. When you curate a print collection, create the same collection for digital. Creatively align the two collections.

Adri Edwards-Johnson of the Pioneer Library System in Oklahoma spoke next and focused on how they use analytics and market segmentation to target specific portions of their community. They started with virtual library cards in 2009 and started getting businessmen who wanted to use the resources, but didn't want to take the time to come into the library. In 2010 they started using civic technologies and book boxes. In 2012-13, they worked with OrangeBoy to begin the process of creating a 24/7 library kiosk. The now incorporate OverDrive Media Station so that while they wait for their print book to "vend" they could also navigate the digital collection. They also do 1-to-1 sessions where they focus on teaching how to use the service, not doing it for patrons.

David Cooksey from San Antonio Public Library took the stage next to focus on the importance of having a digital presence that corresponds to the physical presence to help marketing efforts. When you walk into their new branches you see an OverDrive Media Station. They also provide Digital Library Walls that displays books on a shelf with QR codes that can be scanned. These are great to use in Convention and rec centers, senior centers, children's museum, etc.

Adam Sockel of OverDrive presented last on how OverDrive is providing marketing tools for library partners and the importance of content marketing to reach new users. Some examples include using Pinterest boards and eBook of the day posts. You can also use OverDrive Readbox samples to enhance the experience of your library websites, newsletters and blogs. Another great tool to take advantage of is Facebook ads which enable you to target specific sections of your community who have an interest in reading but aren't currently aware of your library's digital offering.

Solar Eclipses from Past to Future, Earth to Jupiter

Liz: Here’s another space-themed post from our friends at Wolfram Research, showing how the Wolfram Language can be used to visualize solar eclipses total and partial, past and present, and as seen from Earth, Mars and Jupiter.
Eclipse splash graphic

You may have heard that on March 20 there was a solar eclipse. Depending on where you are geographically, a solar eclipse may or may not be visible. If it is visible, local media make a small hype of the event, telling people how and when to observe the event, what the weather conditions will be, and other relevant details. If the eclipse is not visible in your area, there is a high chance it will draw very little attention. But people on Wolfram Community come from all around the world, and all—novices and experienced users and developers—take part in these conversations. And it is a pleasure to witness how knowledge of the subject and of Wolfram technologies and data from different parts of the world are shared.

Five discussions arose recently on Wolfram Community that are related to the latest solar eclipse. They are arranged below in the order they appeared on Wolfram Community. The posts roughly reflect on anticipation, observation, and data analysis of the recent eclipse, as well as computations for future and extraterrestrial eclipses.

I will take almost everything here from the Wolfram Community discussions, summarizing important and interesting points, and sometimes changing the code or visuals slightly. For complete details, I encourage you to read the original posts.

First, before the total solar eclipse happened on March 20, 2015, Wolfram’s own Jeff Bryant and Francisco Rodríguez explained how to see where geographically the eclipse is totally or partially visible. Using GeoEntities, Francisco was able to also highlight with green the countries from which at least the partial solar eclipse would be visible:

Using GeoEntities to see where  geographical visibility is of March 20, 2015 eclipse

Map showing visibility of eclipse using GeoGraphics function

Jeff Bryant is in the US and Francisco Rodríguez is in Peru, so as you can see above, neither was able to see even the partial solar eclipse. The intense red area shows the visibility of the total eclipse, and the lighter red is the partial eclipse. I consoled them by telling them that quite soon—in the next decade—almost all countries in the world, including the US and Peru, will be able to observe at least a partial phase of a total solar eclipse:

Future global visibility of total and partial solar eclipses

Visual representation of future partial and total solar eclipses

Another great way to visualize chronological events is with a new Wolfram Language function, TimelinePlot. I’ve considered the last few years and the next few years, and have plotted the countries and territories (according to the ISO 3166-1 standard) where a total solar eclipse will be visible, as well as when:

TimelinePlot showing future total solar eclipses

Visual of TimelinePlot future total solar eclipses

The image above shows the incredible powers of computational infographics. You see right away that a spectacular total solar eclipse will span the US from coast to coast on August 21, 2017 (see a related discussion below). You can also see that Argentina and Chile will get lucky, viewing a total eclipse twice in a row. Most subtly and curiously, the recent solar eclipse is unique in the sense that it covered two territories almost completely: the Faroe Islands and Svalbard. This means any inhabitant of these territories could have seen the total eclipse from any geo location, cloudiness permitting. Usually it’s quite the opposite: the observational area of a total eclipse is much smaller than the territory area it spans, and most of the inhabitants would have to travel to observe the total eclipse (fortunately, no visas needed). The behavior of the Solar System is very complex. The NASA data on solar eclipses goes just several thousand years into the past and future, losing precision drastically due to the chaos phenomenon.

At the time of the eclipse, I was in Odesa, Ukraine, which was in the partial eclipse zone. I made a separate post showing my position relative to the eclipse zone and grabbing a few photos of the eclipse. Using the orthographic GeoProjection, it’s easy to show that the total eclipse zone did not really cover any majorly populated places, passing mostly above ocean water. The black line shows the boundary of the partial eclipse visibility, which covered many populated territories:

Using GeoProjection to show my position relative to eclipse zone

Visual showing location related to eclipse zone

The Faroe Islands were in the zone of the total solar eclipse, and above I show the shortest path, or geodesic, between the islands and my location. In a separate post (see further discussion below), Marco Thiel posted a link to mesmerizing footage of the total solar eclipse, shot from an airplane (to avoid any cloudiness) by a BBC crew while flying above the Faroe Islands (see related discussion below). Francisco actually showed in a comment how to compute the distance from Odesa to the partial eclipse border:

Using GeoDistance to compute distance from Odesa to partial eclipse boarder

My photos, shot with a toy camera, were of course nothing like the BBC footage. Dense cloud coverage above Ukraine permitted only a few glimpses of the chipped-off Sun. Most images were very foggy, but ImageAdjust did a perfect job of removing the pall. A sample unedited photo is available for download in my Wolfram Community post:

Using ImageAdjust on solar eclipse photos

Solar eclipse images filtered with ImageAdjust

By the way, can you guess why you see the candy below? As I said in my post, the kids in my neighborhood in Ukraine observed the eclipse through the wrapper of this and other similar types of Ukrainian candy. The candy is cheap, and the wrap is opaque enough to keep eyes safe when the Sun brightens in the patches between the clouds. Do you remember using floppy disks? It was typical in the past to look at the Sun through floppy disk film. Many people may remember.

Candy wrappers used to see solar eclipses through

And this is where the conversation got picked up by our users. Sander Huisman, a physicist from the University of Twente in the Netherlands, asked a great question: “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could find your location just from the photos? We can calculate the coverage of the Sun for each of your photos, and inside the photo we can also find the time when it was taken. Using those two pieces of information, we should be able to identify the location of your photo, right?” I did not know how to go about such calculations, but Marco Thiel, an applied mathematician from the University of Aberdeen, UK, posted another discussion, Aftermath of the solar eclipse. Marco and Henrik Schachner, a physicist from the Radiation Therapy Center in Weilheim, Germany, tried to at least estimate the percentage of the Sun coverage using image processing and computational geometry functionality. This is the first part of the problem. If you have an idea of how to solve second part, finding a location from a photo timestamp and percentage of the Sun cover, please join the discussion and post on Wolfram Community. Marco and Henrik used photos from Aberdeen, which was very close to the total eclipse zone.

Estimating percentage of Sun coverage using image processing and computational geometry functionality

Even though he was so close, Marco did not have a chance to capture the partial eclipse due to high cloudiness. What irony and luck that the photos he used came from a US student from Cornell University, Tanvi Chheda, who spent a semester abroad at Marco’s university. She grabbed the shots with her iPad, but what wonderful images with the eclipse and birds. Thank you, Tanvi, for sharing them on Wolfram Community! Here is one:

Image of eclipse from Tanvi Chheda

Well, that’s the turbulent nature of Wolfram Community—something interesting is always happening, and happening quite fast. I’ll summarize the main subject of Marco’s post in a moment (see the original Community post for more images and eclipse coverage estimation), but as Marco wrote: “Even before today’s eclipse, there were reports warning that Europe might face large-scale blackouts because the power grids would be strained by a lack of solar power. This is why I decided to use Mathematica to analyze some data about the effects on the power grid in the UK. I also used data from the Netatmo Weather Station to analyze variations in the temperature in Europe due to the eclipse.”

Marco owns a Netatmo Weather Station, and had written about its usage in an earlier post. He used an API to get data from many stations throughout Europe, and also tapped into the public data from the power grid. One of his interesting findings was a strong correlation between the eclipse period and a sharp rise in the hydroelectric power production:

Correlation between eclipse period and hydroelectric power

For more observations, code, data, and analysis, I encourage you to read through the original post. There, Marco also touched on the subject of global warming and the relevance of high-resolution crowd-sourced data. To visualize the diversity of the discussion, I imported the whole text and used the new Wolfram Language function WordCloud:

Using WordCloud to show the diversity of a Community discussion

WordCloud showing diversity of topics in Community post

It’s nice that the Wolfram Language code, as well as the text, is getting parsed, and you can see the most frequently used functions. In the code above, there are three handy tricks. First is that the option WordOrientation has diverse settings for words’ directions. Second is that the option ScalingFunctions can give the layout a good visual appeal, and the simple power law I’ve chosen is often more flexible than the logarithmic one. The third trick is subtler. It is the choice of background color to be the “bottom” color of the ColorFunction used. Then not only do the sizes of the words stress their weights, but they also fade into the background.

From the TimelinePlot infographics above, you can see that a total eclipse will span the US from northwest to southeast on August 21, 2017. I made yet another Wolfram Community post showcasing some computations with this eclipse. You should take a look at the original for all the details, but here is an image of all US counties that will be spanned during the total eclipse. Each county is colored according to the history of cloud cover above it from 2000 to 2015. This serves as an estimate for the probability of clear visibility of the eclipse. The colder the colors, the higher the chance of clear skies. That’s very approximate, though, especially taking into account the unreliability of weather stations. GeoEntities is a very nice function that selects only those geographical objects that intersect with the polygon of the total eclipse. Below is quite a cool graphic that I think only the Wolfram Language can build in a few lines of code:

Computing 2017 eclipse path and historical cloud coverage for areas

Map of historical cloud coverage and 2017 solar eclipse path

And now that we’ve looked into the past and the future of the total solar eclipses, is there anything left to ponder? As it turns out, yes—the extraterrestrial solar eclipses! We live in unique times and on a unique planet with the angular diameter of its only Moon and its only Sun pretty much identical. I mentioned above a documentary where a BBC crew shot a video of the total solar eclipse from an airplane above the Faroe Islands. Quoting the show host, Liz Bonnin, right from the airplane: “There is no other planet in the Solar System that experiences the eclipse like this one… even though the Sun is 400 times bigger than the Moon, at this moment in our Solar System’s history, the Moon happens to be 400 times closer to the Earth than the Sun, and so they appear the same size…”

So can we verify that our planet is unique? In a recent Wolfram Community post, Jeff Bryant addressed this question. He made some computations using PlanetData and PlanetaryMoonData to investigate the solar eclipses on other planets. The main goal is to compare the angular diameter of the Sun to the angular diameter of the Moon in question, when observed from the surface of the planet in question. He used the semimajor axis of the Moon’s orbit as an estimate of the Moon’s distance from its host planet. Please see the complete code in the original post. Here I mention the final results. For Earth, we have an almost perfect ratio of 1, meaning that the Moon exactly covers the Sun in a total eclipse:

Angular diameter of the Sun compared to the angular diameter of the Moon on Earth

Now here is Mars’ data. The largest Moon, Phobos, is only .6 the diameter of the Sun viewed from the surface of Mars, so it can’t completely cover the Sun:

Angular diameter on Sun compared to the Moons on Mars

With human missions to Mars becoming more realistic, would you not be curious how a solar eclipse looks over there? Here are some spectacular shots captured by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity of Phobos, passing right in front of the Sun:

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity of Phobos

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems/Texas A&M Univ.

These are the sharpest images of a solar eclipse ever taken from Mars. As you can see, Phobos covers the Sun only partially (60%, according to our calculations), as seen from the surface of Mars. Such a solar eclipse is called a ring, or annular, type. Jupiter’s data seems more promising:

Angular diameter of the Sun compared to the Moons of Jupiter

Jupiter’s Moon Amalthea is the closest with a ratio of 0.9, yet even if its orbit allows a perfect 90% of Sun cover, the spectacular Earth-eclipse coronas are probably not visible. During a total Earth solar eclipse, the solar corona can be seen by the naked eye:

Amalthea total solar eclipse
Image Courtesy of Luc Viatour

Do you have a few ideas of your own to share or a few questions to ask? Join Wolfram Community—we would love to see your contributions!

Download this post as a Computable Document Format (CDF) file.

The post Solar Eclipses from Past to Future, Earth to Jupiter appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

How to use Calibre to Manage your eBook Collection


Calibre is one of the premier open sourced e-book editing and creation programs out there and it makes managing your e-reader or tablet very easy. You can convert books from one format to another, change up the cover art and change the author or book name. Today, I want to give you a simply overview on what this program is all about and how you can use it to edit books you download from the internet and send them to your device.