Wednesday, September 30, 2015

5 Reasons for Book Lovers to Make the Switch to an e-Reader

girl with kindle

As a book lover, you might find it hard to take the plunge when it comes to switching to an e-Reader. What you might not realize, however, is that e-Readers come with their own set of unique benefits that can be quite useful and exciting for avid readers. If you're getting ready to "turn the page" and upgrade your methods of reading, here are five good reasons you might want to consider when it comes to investing in an e-Reader.

Convenient Portability

Most e-Readers are small and lightweight, which makes them easily portable. Who hasn't felt the regret of packing their bag full of books for travel, class, or an afternoon lounging in a park or on the beach? While you may enjoy collecting physical, printed books, having to carry your collection around with you can be taxing. Plus, if you've ever had difficulty deciding exactly which books to take with you, being able to effortlessly carry hundreds will permanently eliminate that problem. E-Readers are also very convenient for public transportation. They're easy to operate with one hand, so you won't have to let go of a subway pole or handrail to turn the page (and risk toppling over off balance in the process!).

Enhanced Reading

If you're the type who likes to take notes and bookmark certain parts of your novel, an e-Reader makes this easier than ever, without ruining your book with pencil marks and dog eared pages. EReaders also make it easy to search through the text, easily jump to whichever page you want, and bookmark different pages. As PCMag notes, many eReaders have touch screen keyboards, which have a more user-friendly, intuitive flow, and make it even easier to take notes or run searches while reading books. You can also easily look up the definitions for words you don't recognize, as eReaders often have built in dictionaries. You might eventually see even more reading-enhancing features in the future, as well– More interactive digital novel formats might be on the way, as Tech Radar points out that creative publishers might soon begin to experiment further with the eBook format and its technological potentials.

Books on Demand

Can't decide what to read on any given day? With an e-Reader, you won't have to, as you'll have all of your books available on demand at your fingertips. Cloud storage is popular and convenient nowadays, and with an eReader, you'll be able to store all of the books you've downloaded in your personal cloud. This not only creates a backup, but also allows you to access your entire library of books—and gives you the option to purchase and download even more—anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection. Is there a new installment of your favorite series out, or did your favorite author release a new book? Do you just really want the new issue of a particular magazine? You don't have to get up and lug yourself to a bookstore in order to get it. Everyone loves instant gratification, and when it comes to books, an e-Reader is exactly the way to get it.

Privacy – No, Really!

With an e-Reader, nobody will know what you're reading, which means that you don't have to feel bashful for picking up that saucy romance novel, or for delving into that far-out conspiracy theory book you otherwise wouldn't want to be caught dead with. On a more serious note, The Conversation also points out that older or otherwise visually impaired readers often aren't able to easily read printed books, as they aren't always available in accessible formats. Since eReaders allow you to change the size and color of the text, you'll be able to adjust it in a way that makes books easy and enjoyable to read, without the stress. If you don't want others to know that viewing printed text is challenging for you, an e-Reader could be the solution.

A Slew of Extra Features

E-Readers aren't just for reading books anymore. Purchasing an eReader is bound to give you access to many other extra features, including the ability to take photos, listen to music, use GPS services, or even browse the web. Some eReaders even have apps that can help you enhance your productivity; there's a Nook eReader that comes equipped with Microsoft Office, for example. Creating and editing documents, reports, or just taking notes on what you're reading has never been easier that what today's e-Reader technology allows.

Feeling hesitant about switching to an e-Reader is understandable, but the benefits of technology do outweigh the sadness of leaving physical books behind. Besides, there's no rule that says you can't have both! In today's changing technological landscape, however, an eReader seems like the logical next step for the avid reader. It might just be the next best gadget you never realized you needed.

Barnes and Noble is Teasing a New Nook Tablet


Barnes and Noble is teasing a new Samsung Galaxy 4 Nook tablet on their developer page. This will be the second tablet that the bookseller will release in 2015 after the 8 inch Samsung Galaxy S2 4 Nook came out earlier in the month.

I think Barnes and Noble will likely be releasing the 9.7 inch edition of the Samsung Galaxy S2 that came out at the beginning of September. This is the only other tablet that Samsung has released recently, so it makes sense that Barnes and Noble will start selling this model too.

The Samsung Galaxy S2 9.7 inch will retail at all Barnes and Noble Bookstores for $499! Who will be able to afford it? Has Barnes and Noble finally lost their minds? I keep hoping for a turnaround from the bookseller, but they keep pumping out more expensive hardware. What ever happened to the tablets they used to make that cost less than $200 and everyone bought one?

It is very interesting that Barnes and Noble has the Nook Glowlight Plus e-reader ready to launch and but they intend on releasing yet another tablet first.  Then again, maybe they will announce them both at the same time.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7 at a glance

  • Display: 9.7″ Super AMOLED unit with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels; 264ppi; 4:3 aspect ratio
  • CPU: 1.9GHz quad-core Cortex-A57; 1.3GHz quad-core Cortex-A53
  • GPU: Mali-T760
  • Chipset: 20nm Exynos 5433 SoC with big.LITTLE architecture
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Memory: 32/64GB of built-in memory; microSD card slot
  • Dimensions: 237.3 x 169 x 5.6 mm; 389 grams (Wi-Fi model); 392 grams (LTE variant)
  • OS: Android 5.0.2 Lollipop with TouchWiz UX
  • Cameras: 8MP main camera with 1440p video capture @ 30 fps; 2.1MP front-facing unit
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac; Bluetooth 4.1; microUSB v2.0 with MHL TV-out; GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS; optional 4G LTE network connectivity
  • General: Built-in fingerprint sensor; dual speakers

Is there a Future in Unlimited Audiobook Subscriptions?


Audiobook consumption is at an all time high thanks to the sheer number of titles currently available. In 2007 a paltry 3,073 audiobook titles were produced and this figure rose exponentially to over 12,000 published in 2011. In 2013 many industry experts proclaimed that over 20,000 audiobooks were now available and in 2014 over 35,000 were released by major publishers and companies like Audible. One of the most popular methods to consume digital audio is via subscription services such as Amazon Kindle Unlimited and Scribd. Is there a future for unlimited streaming audio or is it just a flash in the pan?

Scribd initially got into audiobooks back in 2014 when they ironed out an agreement with Findaway World to include over 30,000 titles. They expanded their network in April of 2015 with directly fetching audiobooks from major publishers. The company had a minor setback last month because people were listening to them in such great numbers that they were failing to generate a profit. They pivoted from unlimited listening to allowing members to have access to a single audiobook per month and users have the ability to purchase more credits.

Amazon Kindle Unlimited may get a lot of attention with their extensive e-book collection but in 2014 that added over 2,000 audiobook titles. They currently have the smallest pool of titles to choose from, but they managed to make it work.

Major publishers are very apprehensive about the unlimited subscription model when it comes to e-books and audiobooks.  Tim Hely Hutchinson, chief of Hachette UK simply sees the current generation of e-book websites as not being viable. ""people are always pitching new models to me, and the first thing I say is that the existing model works really well. I don't believe in subscription. I don't see how it would do anything other than cannibalize the business we already have. I know other people take a different view. Within the limits of the law, I hope [HarperCollins UK c.e.o.] Charlie Redmayne will explain it to me, because I don't get it." Neither is he interested in selling direct—"I don't think the consumer wants it. The last thing I think we should be doing it undermining our customers, the retailers." does not have an unlimited subscription model but they have been in the business for a really long time. This has afforded them a unique prospective on the inner workings of the industry and recently GM Ian Small sat down with Good e-Reader for an exclusive interview.

Many e-book subscription sites have dabbled in audio, but have since scaled back, because of the market demand and high costs, making it unprofitable, what are your thoughts?

I think the audiobook listener is a rather unique customer to satisfy. Offering an extensive catalogue and a convenient but effective way to listen to the books are not the easiest solutions to provide. I think some organizations might underestimate how competitive the audiobook market has become. If you're not able to offer an excellent customer experience at a competitive price, and meet the consumers overall high expectations, you'll lose them.

Amazon continues to offer a small audiobook library of around 2,500 titles in their unlimited platform, how is Amazon succeeding at this, but others are failing?

I don't want to speak on Amazon's behalf because I don't work for the company but as someone familiar with the industry my suspicions would be that by enforcing such a strict limit on the catalogue offering they're able to control their costs substantially. It's also not a standalone service but one of many product offerings Amazon provides so it doesn't need to generate a level of profitability that other companies may require for it to be successful. Let's be honest, Amazon is usually more concerned about selling shares than how they sell books.

Is there a future in an all-you-can-eat audiobook service?

Yes, I absolutely believe so. I'm a big champion of the model. There are many stakeholders involved with audiobooks – Authors, narrators, publishers, customers, and retailers so it's going to take some time (and obviously trial and error) to find a model that works for all parties involved. But it is becoming more commonplace for the consumer to enjoy their digital media in this capacity. There are perceptions of other industries that are currently using the "all you can eat" model and that it has not worked out favorably for all parties involved (see the music studios). So I understand the reluctance to completely dive in and deviate from existing retail models. It's going to take some time and a little tweaking to get it right for audiobooks.

Why is the unlimited model a broken business strategy from an industry insider's perspective? Can you please give me your thoughts on this and the reasons why it's broken?

I wouldn't say it's broken, I would say that we're at a pretty important and defining crossroad right now. We're trying to find a model that can expand the market and lower the barrier for consumers to enjoy audiobooks while trying to avoid mistakes that have happened in other markets and their rights holders. It's a learning process (albeit an expensive one) to figure out what doesn't work, and then build on what does.

Wordclock Redux

Readers who’ve been with us since the beginning of this year might remember Bernd Krolla’s beautiful and elegant Raspberry Pi-based Wordclock. Since we last wrote about it, Bernd and friends have continued to work on the project, and they’ve added a few new features, which Bernd introduces here.

Presenting new features of a Raspberry Pi based wordclock

Source code: Documentation:

The main change since January is that all the Wordclock’s software is now plugin-based. By default it uses one that indicates the time in words; other plugins allow other display functionality, with a new menu button to switch between them. A number of new plugins use the Wordclock’s letters as pixels to display low-res images and animations: you can view sunrise and sunset along with appropriate time information, the current phase of the Moon, and a basic local weather forecast with icons.

The coolest plugin, in Bernd’s opinion and in ours too, is by new project co-author Markus, and lets you play a classic ’80s game.

Wordclock Tetris

Bernd and the rest of the team would like as many people as possible to experience the joy of Wordclock, so you can find all the code used on GitHub, and there’s comprehensive documentation covering both the hardware and the software the project uses. If you want to optimise a Wordclock layout for a different language (or a different shape of display), Miniature Giant Space Hamster’s instructions are the place to start.

The post Wordclock Redux appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Simon & Schuster has no problem with high e-Book prices


e-Books have been dramatically increasing in cost to the consumer ever since publishes have gained the ability to dictate their own price. Some people have called this phenomenon predatory pricing, devised to put the bulk of digital bookstores out of business. In a recent keynote with the Book Industry Study Group, Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy proclaimed she doesn’t have a problem with high prices.

Despite predictions that e-books might reach 50% of all book sales, Reidy said e-books sales have slowed and are likely to settle at about "25% to 30%" of total book sales. Although initially e-books helped jump backlist sales, Reidy said, "not anymore," noting that "the novelty has worn off." She said now "there are fewer readers" entering in the digital category and said the slowing growth in e-book sales have pushed publishers back to "highlighting books as beautiful physical objects."

Asked if the higher pricing of e-books, in the wake of publishers' new agency agreements with Amazon, had also figured in the slowdown of e-book sales, Reidy noted that in the wake of publisher settlements over e-book price-fixing charges in the case with Apple, "I'm not supposed talk about pricing, " but added that “our data says that our pricing is effective."

Apple iBooks Launches in China


The Chinese market has been very appealing towards companies heavily involved in selling digital content, such as e-books. Amazon has been the only mainstream company to successfully enter the market and encourage adoption of their Kindle bookstore. The Seattle company is poised to have some real competition as Apple has announced that they brought their iBooks system to China.

The iBooks Store offers customers a wide selection of both paid and free Chinese language books from top local publishers, including "Big Head Son & Little Head Dad" by Zheng Chunhua, "The Family Belongings of Chinese People" by Ma Hongjie, and for the first time in China, Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series will be available in a digital format. Purchased books are available anytime on customers' Apple devices.

Apple will likely see moderate success in the Chinese market that has often been accused of being heavily fragmented. There are a number of industries in the hunt for e-book revenues: online retailers, hardware manufacturers, social networks, telecom operators, search engines and even traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

How public librares are evolving to meet patrons’ needs in the digital age

em_infographic_1024Public libraries have always played a vital role in the communities they serve. The changing needs and demands of  patrons have led to a physical evolution of libraries, including an increase in group work spaces, expanded computer and internet access and dedicated kids and teens hangout areas. Concurrent with this physical transformation  has been a change in the way libraries deliver books to readers, with 90 percent now offering digital content to  complement thier print resources.

In advance of the American Library Association's Libraries Transforming Communities initiative, OverDrive, the leading eBook and audiobook platform for libraries, conducted an end user survey from June 26-July 15, 2015. Administered via library websites, the survey collected input from 16,756 respondents. This report will utilize this data to examine the positive effect the shift to digital content has had on the role of libraries in their communities by helping attract new readers, serve existing patrons better and reach beyond their physical walls.

Click here to see the full report and survey.

10 Free Kindle eBooks and eBook Deals – September 30th

Amazon’s new lineup of Fire tablets officially get released today, with the first wave of orders arriving at customers’ doors. So there’s no better time for a roundup of free Kindle ebooks to help load up on some content for these new devices. And don’t forget about Amazon Underground for a ton of free apps. […]