When Comixology was purchased by Amazon, many digital comic fans thought that the service would drastically change. The acquisition has been a bit of a mixed blessing, as Apple users lost the ability to purchase content directly within the app, leading to a decrease in impulse purchases. One of the big upsides was the decision to offer publishers the ability to submit new issues with no encryption. Today, Comixology has announced a slew of new partners that will be offering their comics DRM-Free.
Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent and Top Shelf Productions are now joined in the program by IDW Publishing, Valiant Entertainment, Oni Press, Fantagraphics Books, Aspen Comics, Action Lab Entertainment, Th3rd World Studios, A Wave Blue World, Blind Ferret Entertainment, Caliber Comics, Creative Impulse Entertainment, Devils Due Entertainment, GT Labs Comics and Kingstone Media.
All of these publishers now offer their comics to be downloaded in PDF or CBZ formats and users can store them locally. Instead of being locked into the Comixology app, users can download their favorite 3rd reading app for Android, iOS or Windows.
The Apple iPhone 6 and Apple Watch event occurred last week and already it seems that the Cupertino company is already planning the next unveiling. AppleInsider, Bloomberg and other mainstream news organizations are proclaiming that another Apple event is planned for October, where a iPad Air 2 and 3rd generation iPad Mini are planned to be announced.
Aside from new iPads, Apple is also expected to use the October event to finalize the details and availability date for OS X Yosemite, which was initially introduced at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June. According to The Daily Dot, Yosemite will be released immediately following the October event, similar to the release of OS X Mavericks just after the conclusion of last year’s October event.
The new iPad is thought to include a faster A8 processor, anti-reflective display and a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, although one report suggests most of the upgrades will be limited to the larger iPad Air model.
Amazon is planning on releasing a new Kindle e-Reader November 4th, called Voyage. This news comes from the Amazon Germany and Japan websites posting product information, before an an official announcement was made. Recognizing this error, Amazon quickly pulled down the product listings, but not before we have key insight on what this new e-Reader is all about.
The Kindle Voyage will have a six inch capacitive touchscreen display and have 300PPI. It will include an ambient light sensor to automatically adjust the brightness of the front-lit display. It will also have a new page press sensor to turn pages by pressing lightly on the bezel.
Amazon is due for another new e-reader, as they tend to announce them every year around this time. Likely one of the big reasons it was not officially unveiled sooner was because of the new Nook, Kobo and Apple devices capturing the medias attention. Likely, we will have some sort of media event in the next few weeks, where the Voyage will be formally introduced.
Spotify fans in the US, with a premium subscription, now have an additional incentive to enjoy the popular music streaming service: full support for Amazon Fire TV. For those who may not be familiar already, Spotify offers on-demand access to more than 20 million songs instantly (with no Internet connection required and no interruption for advertisements).
In their launch statement, Spotify announced:
Using Spotify Connect on your Amazon Fire TV allows you to control your music using the Spotify app on your mobile or tablet. You can seamlessly switch your favorite music from your mobile to the TV and continue to make calls, use other smartphone apps and go out of wifi range, all without interrupting the music.
Amazon Fire TV was released in April, intending to rival devices like Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku. Initial reviews for the Fire TV have been positive, particularly given the increasing popularity of Amazon’s Prime streaming service.
If you haven’t tried Spotify for Android, download it now and start your 30-day free trial; when you become addicted, the service will cost you an affordable $9.99 per month.
The summer season is winding down and many people are wondering about the next great read. You might want to check out the offerings from twelve Canadian writers, who are all contending for the the richest fiction prize in Canada – the $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
These authors are vying for the grand prize of $100,000, up from $50,000, and the remaining finalists will receive $10,000, up from $5,000. It is certainly not all about the money though, if you are looking for a new eBook, one of these might fit the bill.
Waiting for the Man by Arjun Basu (ECW Press)
The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis (HarperCollins Canada)
American Innovations by Rivka Galchen (HarperCollins Canada)
Tell by Frances Itani (HarperCollins Canada)
Watch How We Walk by Jennifer LoveGrove (ECW Press)
Us Conductors by Sean Michaels (Random House Canada)
Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab by Shani Mootoo (Doubleday Canada)
The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill (HarperCollins Canada) ·
Paradise and Elsewhere by Kathy Page (John Metcalf Books/Biblioasis)
My October by Claire Holden Rothman (Penguin Canada)
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada)
The Ever After of Ashwin Rao by Padma Viswanathan (Random House Canada)
Indie bookstores normally are swamped during the holiday season, as people ravenously buy everything in sight. Giving the gift of a good book can actually be a life changing event and HarperCollins has announced a new Holiday Express Shipping beginning November 3, 2014 and running through January 16, 2015. All qualifying orders from participating stores received by 1:00pm (EST) will ship out the next business day or two.
“We are pleased to provide this service to the Indie channel in the busiest time of year in order to help them have HarperCollins titles in stock and meet the demands of their customers,” said Brian Grogan, senior vice president of sales for HarperCollins Publishers.
“We are equally thrilled to be able to offer this additional level of service to independent Christian retail,” said Tom Knight, senior vice president of sales for HarperCollins Christian Publishing. “It is our hope that this program will encourage independent retailers during the critical holiday selling season.”
Chromecast is enjoying increasing support from app developers, which is good news for those of us with Android devices and the desire to make them interact with our televisions. Thanks to recent updates, this capability has been added to: Twitch.tv, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, iHeartRadio, and DramaFever.
What will you enjoy with these apps? With the three channels provided by Disney (free, if you have a cable provider subscription that includes this content), you will see kid-friendly shows broken down into roughly sorted age groups. Music lovers will be excited to try out iHeartRadio, well known as a free and well-populated audio service. Twitch.tv lets the gamers in your life enjoy videos of their favourite titles being played live, while DramaFever is all about International content (in Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese, Spanish, among others).
Every one of these additions has to make Apple a little nervous –especially when the Chromecast device comes in at under half the purchase cost of the Apple TV.
If you are fans of the music by Avenged Sevenfold, and you really like the horror genre, news that the band is about to release a new action-RPG game for your iOS and Android devices will be very exciting. In Hail to the King: Deathbat you are invited to fight your way through Nightmare and Bat Country, parts of an animated web series already developed and released.
Describing their project, Avenged Sevenfold stated:
“Hail to the King: Deathbat is a brutal romp through the darkest depths of the underworld with an epic tale of redemption, devastating melee combat, towering boss fights, 7 hellish landscapes and classic Avenged Sevenfold cuts along with a new and original score composed by the band.”
The game will feature 8 new theme songs from the band that you can listen to while collecting swords, magic, and powers. Little else is known about the game just yet, other than news that those gamers who love to collect achievements will be richly rewarded.
Hail to the King: Deathbat is due to be released for Android and iOS devices on October 16, 2014, so there isn’t much more time to wait!
There are plenty of action hero games available in the mobile world, but few that capture the true essence of their comic book beginnings. In Spider-Man Unlimited, Gameloft has found a way to marry an action-packed arcade adventure game with the hand-drawn charm of a classic Marvel comic.
The aim of the game is to defeat the Sinister Six. They have opened a dimensional portal in New York (in an effort to bring forth endless versions of themselves). Grouped by issues, the first two are ready to go –with each one featuring 5 boss battles and 25 missions. For those among you who are competitive, daily and weekly events offer rewards while in Event Mode. In Unlimited Mode you can fight your way to the top of the leaderboards.
Gameplay is easy to learn but difficult to master; when you are getting used to a new endless runner, you have to think fast and let the controls become second nature. The best part of the game might just be the storyline and the character voices (giving way to their personalities). A tutorial will get you started on your way, but before long you are on your own.
The graphics are colourful and fun, the text is very easy to read on the screen, and the animations are just detailed enough to make the game enjoyable without seeming over the top (or making you wait for them to load or play through). I am especially fond of the little things, like being able to see that Spidey is breathing by the movements in his chest (making him seem that little bit more realistic).
Feel like making the world a safer place? Download Spider-Man Unlimited for Android and try your hand at playing the hero. The app is free, but be warned –there are opportunities to purchase virtual items.
Television and Radio programs often have to rely on sponsors and public donations to keep everything running smoothly. Bookshout is pioneering a new eBook program that can be used to give literary rewards to donors and philanthropists.
How exactly does this new program work? Jason Ilian the CEO of Bookshout spelled it out out. ” Existing radio and television stations that do fundraising campaigns are normally in touch with Forest Incentive. Forest has integrated the Bookshout API, so free eBooks can be given out with the campaign. The station will work with Forest to choose which book(s) they want and a special link is set out to the receipt via phone or email. The link will take them to a branded one-time redemption page where all they have to do is enter a username and password. Then the donor will be reading the ebook on BookShout. They can use the iOS, Android, or web app at any time for their ebooks.”
Publishing giants such as HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan, Open Road Integrated Media, Simon & Schuster, Wiley, Workman Publishing, and numerous others have committed to participating in the program. “HarperCollins is honored to provide our great content to all public broadcasters via the BookShout!/Forest partnership,” said Chantal
Restivo-Alessi, the Chief Digital Officer at HarperCollins. “We believe this will be a powerful new sales channel for our ebooks and authors.”
The European Court of Justice has just concluded that EU member states are free to charge differing rates of VAT on eBooks and paper books. This will allow all countries in Europe to basically change their VAT on all books and not break ‘fiscal neutrality’, an EU concept whereby markets for the same goods are distorted by varying tax rates.
There have been major disagreements between member states and the European Commission on this subject over the past three years. Luxembourg dropped eBooks from the standard 15% VAT rate to 3% in 2012. France then followed suite with a drop from the then standard French VAT 19.5% to 5.5%.
Most countries in Europe have different VAT prices on digital content and were remiss to change their policies because they did not want to get smote by the European Court of Justice. With their new ruling, member states are now totally free to change the taxes on eBooks, without worry.
The 3% VAT based in Luxembourg was very advantageous to Amazon, Apple, Google and Kobo as an entry point to Europe. By basing their operations there, they could sell books in most European countries at a reduced VAT rate. This really helped them penetrate the lucrative UK market, where the established VAT rate is 20% on digital content.
Publishers, bookstores and small presses have been lobbying the UK government for change. They found that being based in the United Kingdom was inherently disadvantageous, because they had to charge 20% VAT, while Amazon could get away with 3%. This has prompted the EU to change their legislation in early 2015. Ebook companies will have to charge VAT at the rate where the customer is who buys the e-book, rather than at the rate where the servers of the e-book business are based.
Kobo has announced that they have formed a new partnership with Bol.com, the largest provider of eBooks in the Netherlands and Belgium. Starting today, customers will be able to order the entire Kobo Arc line of tablets and modern e-readers like the Kobo Aura and Aura HD directly on the Bol website. This agreement though, goes far beyond e-readers and may be a blueprint of how Kobo forms relationships with eBook retails going forward.
Bol.com introduced digital reading in the Netherlands and Belgium five years ago, and since then has experienced amazing growth. In addition to the 1.2 million eReaders sold in the Netherlands, customers can also read their eBooks digitally via tablets and smartphones. The selection of eBooks has grown enormously over the past few years. One in seven non-fiction books sold in the Netherlands is digital.
Every so often, a Kobo press release hits the Good e-Reader offices, and it normally involves them establishing new relationships with booksellers to get their e-readers in as many retail channels as possible. One specific element on the official press release piqued my interest “Over the next few months, bol.com and Kobo will launch innovations to make digital reading even more user-friendly.” What exactly does this mean?
I talked to Pieter Swinkels, Vice President, Publisher Relations & Merchandising at Kobo. He stated “Starting today we are combining our libraries to offer the widest selection possible in the Netherlands and Belgium. This takes some time; the transition has begun and should be complete very soon. As well, customers will be able to buy books across the two platforms (bol.com store, Kobo store, Kobo device store, apps stores) and be able to access them through one cloud-based library (the Kobo library), they will have the full regular Kobo experience, including Reading Life, Notes and Bookmark Synchronization. We will continue to have the Dutch version of the global Kobo apps for all platforms, but also in coming weeks expect to launch a special bol.com-Kobo app.”
He went on to specifically address Sony users “Customers using a Sony device from bol.com will continue to have the experience they have now, so they’ll buy on the bol.com site and download their purchase with Adobe DE or Watermark. They will also be able to access those books on Kobo devices and apps, with their bol.com or Kobo account. In other words, we’re completely connecting the two platforms and creating one, seamless experience of searching, buying and reading. This is a tremendous departure from the previous bol.com experience, which was, as you write, basically a side loading experience.”
So what we are seeing now with the Bol partnership is Kobo willingly including another retailers digital library into their own. This might appeal towards other online booksellers such as Txtr.
HarperCollins has introduced new digital watermark technology that will be very appealing towards customers in Europe. Digimarc Guardian watermarks are fully compatible with DRM solutions. The tractability they provide remains fully effective even in cases where the DRM layer has been removed by users, using 3rd party tools.
Digital watermarking technology caught on a few years ago when the entire Harry Potter eBook collection adopted it, instead of going the traditional DRM route. This allows users to seamlessly load their purchased content on as many devices as they wish, without the need for bulky third party programs or apps.
Digimarc’s cloud-based platform offers easy-to-integrate API support for most e-book formats, including EPUB, PDF and MOBI. For each transaction, the platform generates a unique, traceable digital watermark and embeds it throughout the e-book. The imperceptible digital identifiers are extremely difficult for pirates to locate and remove. Adding Digimarc Guardian
Watermarks takes just seconds and is invisible to the end customer.
Digimarc’s anti-piracy service then crawls the web 24×7 searching for watermarked content. When a watermark is detected, Digimarc provides the unique identifier to the publisher to match against its own transaction records. Digimarc Guardian Watermarks do not contain any user information; the Digimarc Watermarks contain only anonymous digital IDs.
HarperCollins confirmed with Good e-Reader that watermarks will have a very gradual roll out, and not all new titles will have this technology. They also neglected to mention if specific markets will have this feature introduced first, such as Europe, where watermarking is the current rage.