Thursday, September 17, 2015

Amazon Fire Tablets Get New Silk Upgrade


Amazon is in the process of pushing out a new firmware update to most Kindle Fire tablets and it primarily updates the Silk internet browser. One of the big enhancements is a new color scheme that replaces the darker colors and adds lighter shades of white and grey. There is also better support for multiple tabs open at once.

Silk was a major innovation when it was originally released in 2011. Instead of being a run of the mill web browser like Firefox or Chrome, Silk taps into the power and capabilities of the AWS infrastructure to overcome the limitations of typical mobile browsers. Instead of a device-siloed software application, Amazon Silk deploys a split-architecture. All of the browser subsystems are present on your Kindle Fire as well as on the AWS cloud computing platform. Each time you load a web page, Silk makes a dynamic decision about which of these subsystems will run locally and which will execute remotely. In short, Amazon Silk extends the boundaries of the browser, coupling the capabilities and interactivity of your local device with the massive computing power, memory, and network connectivity of the AWS cloud.

Hardly Anyone Knows their Library Loans out e-Books


The vast majority of libraries in the United States have an e-book collection. The American Library Association claims that 90% of all branches have one, whereas the Library Journal states this figure is closer to 95%. The larger libraries spend millions of dollars every year, developing their collections, but is this money well spent? Maybe not. Pew Research has said that less than 38% are actually aware their library has a digital collection and only 6% have actually borrowed one.

One of the big problems facing libraries is how do you build brand awareness that you have an e-book collection and how to promote it? Some locations have promotional material, such as flyers and posters. In many cases companies like 3M, Baker & Taylor and Overdrive provide free content or promote in their branches. Overdrive has gone the extra step and actually created Free e-Book Day, which is drawing attention to libraries digital collections and rewarding those who do a good job with free credit to purchase more titles.

How exactly do libraries promote their digital collections without an expensive marketing campaign? Here is what a few of them are doing, maybe some of them will be relevant to your branch.

West Virginia's Marion County Public Library System used Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter to expand their virtual marketing campaign with an "eBook of the Day." Staff created this program to reach out to library customers and provide readers advisory focused on "hidden gems" in the eBook collection. As a result, the titles they showcased increased dramatically in popularity. With this success, the library has also added a "Staff Pick" component to their approach.  Check out the Pinterest page here!

The Kent District (State) Library recently hosted a virtual treasure hunt, hiding books throughout their community. Patrons were asked to take a picture of the found book and upload it to Twitter or Facebook to be eligible for some cool prizes.

Staff members at Sacramento Public Library came up with a clever way to connect its physical and digital collections: they place "Now in eBook Format!" stickers on the covers of corresponding titles in the physical collection. These stickers were printed in bulk and direct customers to the library's website where people can sign up to borrow books online. It promotes the ebook service, without having to spend more money in marketing materials.


Another great way to promote a library's ebook collection is to develop shelf cards. These can be inserted into the books themselves or placed underneath them. This gives patrons a picture of the cover art and name of the book, as well as a web-link to the book entry in the library's computer system. This is a little bit more extensive, but libraries have seen a 100% increase in loan-checkouts when they employ this method.


The Mid-Continent Public Library developed a number of savvy posters and then digitized them to promote it on their website. These marketing materials were aimed at people who never used an e-reader or borrowed a digital book before. It encouraged people who had an e-reader that they had the ability to borrow books for free. Since they employed this method, checkouts increased by over 54%.

In the end, if more libraries actually promoted their collections instead of buying a bunch of expensive e-books and hoping for the best, the public would be aware.

Wattpad Pimps out their Successful Writers with Wattpad Stars


Wattpad has just unveiled a new program that will leverage their most successful writers and contract them out to brands. This is the thought process behind Wattpad Stars.

Wattpad has established relationships with some of the worlds top media companies, such as Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox and USA Network. Whenever they need an entry level writer to do something, they contact Wattpad and they recommend one of their writers.

The company refused to divulge how much money they were getting paid on behalf of media conglomerates and what type of revenue system the authors were getting.  They also never made it clear whether the author was doing freelance work, or if Wattpad had their hands all over the deal.

Wattpad Stars is being billed as an accelerator for their young writing talent and is leveraging some of its breakout superstars in order to draw attention to the self-publishing platform. A few notable writers whose writing careers have skyrocketed thanks to Wattpad include:

  • Anna Todd: Anna turned her love for Harry Styles into one of the biggest social media phenomenon's of 2014 She wrote the story After on Wattpad and it soon became one of the most talked about stories on the Internet. After receiving one billion reads on Wattpad, the company helped her land a six figure publishing deal and film deal with Paramount
  • Rebecca Sky: Commissioned to write for the Athenos campaign and featured in the New York Times
  • Apryl Baker: Commissioned by Universal Pictures to write for the Ouija and Unfriended film promotions
  • Edward Mullen: Commissioned by USA Network and A&E to write for the launch of the television series DIG and The Returned

Amazon Introduces New Fire 5 OS – Bellini

Fire_webready_w_755Every year when Amazon refreshes their tablet lineup they always enhance the Android operating system. Unlike devices from Samsung, or Dell Amazon skins the OS, giving customers a very unique experience. Fire OS 5 is based on Android 5.1 and today I will give you a rundown of all the new features.

Updated User Interface

Fire OS 5 "Bellini" introduces an updated user interface that provides the best entertainment experience on a tablet, making it easy to access your favorite apps or discover new content. The new home screen includes dedicated content pages for books, games and apps, video, music, audiobooks, and periodicals—each page presents an engaging layout akin to the beautiful pages of a magazine and presents your recent content as well as personalized suggestions for new entertainment. If you subscribe to services like Prime, Kindle Unlimited, or Audible, you can easily discover new content that you can access at no additional cost.

On Deck—Ensures You'll Always Have Something Good to Watch

Have you ever forgotten to download a movie ahead of a flight? For Prime members, On Deck automatically keeps your Fire tablet current with popular Prime movies and TV shows, as well as Amazon Original Series, so you always have something good to watch. Importantly, On Deck only uses the available storage on your tablet, opportunistically in a special shadow mode. When you download something, On Deck automatically makes room for your selected content—there's no hassle of needing to clear out space yourself. This feature will be available via a free, over-the-air Fire OS update in the coming months.

Amazon Underground

Many apps and games that are marked as "free" turn out not to be completely free. They use in-app payments to charge you for special items or to unlock features or levels. Fire HD tablet owners have access to a one-of-a-kind app store experience where over $10,000 in apps, games, and even in-app items are actually free. Experience titles from top developers, including Disney, Rovio Entertainment, Gameloft, Zeptolab, and Sega of America without ever having to pay for the app or in-app purchases.

Best Tablet for Reading —Now Even Better with Word Runner

Fire HD offers a crisp HD display, Amazon-exclusive features like the Bookerly reading font and Immersion Reading for audiobooks, and innovative new reading enhancements being introduced with Fire OS 5 "Bellini." Read Faster—one word at a time—with Word Runner, a new speed reading feature that brings each word to the center of the screen to where your eyes are already focused. Word Runner has Dynamic Pacing so it gradually builds to your preferred reading speed and algorithmically and automatically slows down for difficult words, punctuation, and paragraph breaks. If you miss something, just tap and hold the screen to activate the brake, which instantly pauses Word Runner and lets you easily scroll back and pick up wherever you'd like.

Activity Center—More Tools for Parents

For parents with kids who have outgrown Amazon FreeTime but are not yet ready to be without parental controls, Activity Center provides an easy way for parents to see how their kids are spending time on their tablet. When Activity Center is enabled, parents can visit a customized, secure page on their smartphone, tablet, or computer to review how much time their kids spend playing games, watching videos, and reading. Parents can also choose to view browser history via Activity Center in order to understand what sites their kids are visiting on the Internet, or can look at which specific apps, books, or videos their kids accessed. Activity Center will be available via a free, over-the-air Fire OS update in the coming months.

Share Even More with Family Library

Family Library now allows families in an Amazon Household to share Prime benefits, including Prime Video, Kindle Owners' Lending Library, free 2-day shipping on millions of items, and many other benefits. Family Library links your Amazon account to that of your spouse or partner so you can easily share apps, games, audiobooks, books, and Prime Video content within your household without changing accounts. Family Library lets family members share their content while using a single Fire tablet with different profiles, or across multiple devices—including Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, and Amazon Fire TV—as well as on all of the other most popular devices and platforms with the free Kindle, Audible, and Amazon Video apps.

World-Class Customer Service—For Free

This is not a new feature, but Amazon is really hyping up Mayday, which revolutionized customer service with video chat on Fire HDX. Mayday Screen Sharing now brings Mayday-powered tech support to Fire HD tablets, delivering 24×7, 365 days a year technical assistance—for free. When you call in to customer service by phone, the Amazon expert can share your screen—with your permission—to draw on your screen, talk you through how to do a task, or to do it for you.

Best Tablets for Prime

The new Fire HD user interface is perfect for helping Prime members discover the best selection of digital content—available at no additional cost. Prime Video provides streaming access to tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes, including Entourage, Orphan Black, and Downton Abbey, and is the only U.S. online subscription service that enables offline viewing. Plus, get access to award-winning Amazon Original programming like Transparent and Tumble Leaf, as well as new shows coming this fall. With Prime Music, you can listen ad-free to over a million songs, and with the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, you can choose one book per month from more than 800,000 books to borrow for free with no due dates, including current and former best sellers. Included with Prime, you will also receive secure unlimited photo storage in Amazon Cloud Drive for your entire photo collection.

Amazon Announces 4 New Fire Tablets and they are Terrible


Over the past few weeks we have given you a preview about what Amazons new Fire tablets are all about and now we finally have an official announcement. Today, Amazon unveiled 4 new tablets that are fairly modern, but still not as good as last years HDX models.

$50 Fire Tablet


The seven inch Fire tablet has a resolution of 1024×600 and underneath the hood is a quad-core ARM cortex-A7 1.3 GHZ processor with Mali-450 graphics, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage. There is expandable memory via the SD card, so you can jack it up to 128 GB. You will be able to snap pictures with the rear facing 2MP camera or access on-demand video chat via the 0.3MP front camera. Customers can also choose to buy Fire as a six-pack for less than $250.


Last year, Amazon released the Fire Kids tablet, and many people saw it as a critical flop. Not to be dissuaded, Amazon has taken the hardware from the $50 Fire Tablet and is offering a Kid’s Tablet variant for $99. This tablet comes with a rubber shell, a two-year warranty, and a one-year subscription to Freetime Unlimited, Amazon’s kid’s subscription service.

Fire 8 and 10 inch tablets


I simply have no words about these two tablets, other to say they are a tremendous downgrade from last years models. The Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 have a resolution of 1280 x 800 and run on a quad-core MediaTek MT8135 CPU with PowerVR Rogue G6200 graphics, 1GB RAM, 8Gb or 16GB internal storage, a pair of cameras (5MP and 1MP), Bluetooth, and Wifi. They also have Dolby Audio, which actually gives you better sound than most other tablets on the market.

To give you an indication on the resolution downgrade, last years Kindle Fire HDX 7 had a resolution of 1920×1200 pixels and the HDX 8.9 had 2560x1600p pixels with 339 ppi.

Fire HD 8 is available for pre-order beginning today with 8GB or 16GB of memory starting at $149.99 at and comes in four fun color options: black, magenta, blue, and tangerine. Fire HD 8 starts shipping September 30. Fire HD 10 is also available for pre-order beginning today with 16GB or 32GB of memory starting at $229.99 at

I would honestly skip all of the new tablets Amazon announced today, except for the $50 Fire tablet. The cheap one, will not be your primary device, but will be good for the kids.

New 8-inch and 10-inch Fire HD Tablets

Amazon’s new tablet line for 2015 adds tablets with different screen sizes to the Fire tablet family with new 8-inch and 10-inch models. They also add memory card slots, which is a big change from the way Amazon used to do things. The Fire HD 8 starts at $149 and the Fire HD 10 starts […]

Amazon Introduces New Fire Kids Edition Tablet for $99

Among Amazon’s lineup of new Fire tablets for 2015 is a redesigned Kids Edition Fire tablet for $99. Last year Amazon first started offering a model specifically for Kids. It sold for $149, so they were able to cut back the price considerably with this new one. The Kids Edition Tablet is the same exact […]

Adam’s 10 deserted island reads

(Ed. Note: Adam is a Social Media Specialist at OverDrive and manages the blog. He put his whole team through this exercise so it only seemed fair that he do it too. He’s also writing this note and apologizes that it’s in third person. I have no idea why we’re putting ourselves through this. It’s impossible. I was tempted to put Robinson Crusoe in here because I love irony but I don’t think “deserted island Adam” would appreciate the joke…)


American Gods by Neil Gaiman

No surprise here but I love all things Mr. Gaiman. My favorite work of his is The Graveyard Book but this one is longer which is important when you’ve got nothing but time…

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Again, length plays a part here but mainly I adore the way Follett somehow enables the reader to grasp the scope of a story that spans entire lives through the building of a Gothic cathedral.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Lives need whimsy, even one stuck on an island. I have long been a fan of all things nonsensical. Dr. Seuss and Jim Henson are my favorite humans but the word problems and thought games in Wonderland will keep my mind fresher so Carroll wins out.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Every year, for as long as I can remember, come December 1st I read this. I’m not going to let a little deserted island break that streak. What would we be without tradition?

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

I think of myself as a fairly spiritual person and I guess that would be heightened by the solitary confines of the deserted island. I also firmly believe in classic novels and this may just be the best ever written.

The Complete stories of Edgar Allan Poe

Is this cheating? It’s cheating isn’t it? Whatever, this is hard! There are few things I enjoy more than spending a fall evening by the fire re-reading The Masque of the Red Death, The Fall of the House of Usher or Manuscript Found in a Bottle…although that last one might be a bit morbid on the island.  

The Princess Bride

Who wouldn’t want a book with fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles… (and yes, kissing)

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I have a thing for Russian Lit. I recently found out that this comes from my grandmother as I was rummaging through her old books discovering plays and stories by Tolstoy and Chekov. Well War and Peace would be a stereotypical answer and I feel like taking the complete works of Chekov would be cheating again so let’s go with the best book of the 19th century.

The Autobiography of Mark Twain

Mark Twain was, perhaps, America’s greatest writer and his autobiography makes for a breathtaking read. His life was full of successes and tragedies alike and this book is no different. Delaying its publication for 100 years meant Twain could write freely and not be concerned with what other thought about him. This was worth the wait.

Sick In the Head by Judd Apatow

I’m a huge comedy nerd. I’m obsessed with legends like Mel Brooks, Billy Crystal and Harold Ramis and the interviews Judd has with these and so many more are both hilarious and though provoking. I think laughter would be important on this island.


Adam Sockel is a Social Media Specialist with OverDrive

New $49 Kindle Fire Tablet With Expandable Memory Announced

Amazon is on a press release issuing spree today. They’ve announced a new lineup of Fire tablets for 2015 that includes an entry-level device for only $49. It’s the least expensive Kindle Fire tablet released, undercutting last year’s Fire HD 6 by $50. Plus it’s a 7-inch tablet instead of 6, and even it has […]

The #PageToScreen movies coming this fall


If there is one thing I love more than reading books its watching movies so I always get excited about film adaptions. Of course, since we all know that the book is (almost always) better than the movie, here is a list of the titles you'll want to read before buying your movie tickets.

The Martian by Andy Weir

Of all the film adaptations coming out over the next few months, The Martian, which puts a unique and interstellar spin on the survival story, is probably the most highly anticipated. Opening in October, Matt Damon stars as the astronaut accidentally left behind on Mars.

Room by Emma Donoghue

For five-year-old Jack, Room is his home. But for Ma, Room is the prison she's been held captive in for the past seven years. Told from Jack's perspective, I was absolutely blown away by this book so Room is the film adaptation that I am most looking forward to seeing.

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

Inspired by the true story of Lili Elbe, a transgender women and one of the first recipients of sexual reassignment surgery, the book won the Stonewall Book Award from the American Library Association and the film is already gaining Oscar buzz (in particular for lead actor Eddie Redmayne).

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

In early 1950s, Eilis Lacey leaves her home in Ireland for better opportunities in Brooklyn, New York. In America, she finds both a life and love, but when tragedy strikes and she is required to return home, Eilis is forced to make a choice between her past and her future.

The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

When Highsmith's novel was originally published (under a pseudonym) in 1952, it was heralded for its sensitive treatment of the lesbian relationship between young Therese and housewife Carol. The film stars Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett and is being released under the book's alternate title.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

This second installment of the Maze Runner series follows Thomas and the other Gladers as they attempt to cross – and survive – a burned out wasteland known as the Scorch.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The final film in the popular Hunger Games series hits theaters this November.  (Ed. Note: holds three fingers up. Whistles quietly)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

If you are one of those readers who gets annoyed when anyone refers to the Monster as Frankenstein, you'll be happy to know that the upcoming adaptation is titled Victor Frankenstein and stars James McAvoy as the title scientist with Daniel Radcliffe as his protégé Igor.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Something wicked this way comes in December in this film version that stars Michael Fassbender as the power hungry Scottish duke and Marion Cotillard as his equally ambitious wife.


Jill Grunenwald is a librarian and a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive

Hanging wall plotter

Our old friend Norbert “HomoFaciens” Heinz has been at it again. Norbert’s builds are consistently some of the most thorough and interesting we get to see. (They’re also fantastically narrated, and produced in both German and in English.)

Norbert’s latest is a crystal-clear explanation of how hanging plotters work; you’ll learn about the electronics involved in building one – you’ll be winding the cord that suspends the pen around the shafts of stepper motors; as well as about the maths the software uses to calculate how to use the pen (this is a great lesson on applying all that stuff you learned about Pythagoras in school).

You can read a full write-up of the project in English at – there’s also a German version available.  Thanks Norbert!


The post Hanging wall plotter appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Download Move to iOS for Android from Good e-Reader


Apple has just released a new app for Android called Move to iOS. The selling point behind this program is being able to establish a connection between your old Android phone or tablet and transfer data such as images, messages, contacts, calendars, and email accounts to a new iPhone or iPad. Obviously paid content will not follow you, but the app will add everything to your iTunes wishlist, so you can either buy it again or in the case of a free app be taken to the download page.

You can download Move to iOS from the Good e-Reader Android App Store.