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Simon and Schuster has just reached a new agreement with online bookseller Amazon, and empowers the publisher to once again establish their own prices on eBooks. The deal has been in the works since July of 2014, and has remained under the radar, as the Hachette saga has taken center stage.

One of the benefits of the new contract is that the royalties that authors earn will remain the same. It also allows S&S to determine the pricing of eBooks and print titles, but allows Amazon to give discounts as they see fit.

Simon & Schuster titles also will be well promoted on Amazon’s website, a source close to the situation has said. The contract that had been in place previously was set to expire in two months.

Amazon on Monday evening confirmed the deal, adding, “The agreement specifically creates a financial incentive for Simon & Schuster to deliver lower prices for readers.”

Over the course of 2015, Amazon has new contracts to negotiate with Penguin Random House, Macmillan, and HarperCollins. The Hachette dispute has been ongoing since May of 2014, and has still not been resolved.

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RCNA Nominees

Barnes and Noble is orchestrating the first annual the Readers’ Choice Newsstand Awards. This new program looks at the best magazines published over the last year and allows users to vote on the most compelling ones. Each category has four nominees to choose from and all nominated content will be available to be read for free online with a browser based reader or on your smartphone or tablet.

All of the magazines that Barnes and Noble has selected for the Newsstand Awards will  receive a special in-store promotional display at Barnes & Noble stores nationwide for the print edition during the open voting period. If you have a Nook branded tablet, upon visiting the newsstand you will get a chance to check out all of the nominees.

Throughout the voting period, which occurs from October 20th to November 19th, readers can enter into a sweepstakes for the chance to win a fantastic grand prize of a trip for two to New York City and a $500 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, as well as other great prizes including $100 Barnes & Noble Gift Cards and Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK devices.

I think organizing a contest centered around magazines is a solid idea. There is certainly no shortage of movie, music and television awards. Once in awhile we have awards for the best author or best book, but seldom do we see anything for magazines.

The Newsstand Awards will accomplish a few things. It will give people a chance to discovery the online web-browser to read digital magazines, giving people a reason to subscribe. It also serves as an introduction to the Nook ecosystem of magazines, something that is rarely promoted. Finally, it is interesting simply to check out the shortlist of magazines that the editorial staff at Barnes and Noble has selected.

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fatprincesss

In a sea of mobile games with the now traditional match-3 styling (think Bejeweled), Sony has released its Fat Princess: Piece of Cake game. By matching gems (showing either cake or images corresponding to the four character classes: sporting warrior swords, ranger muskets, worker bombs, and priest healer) you can work to defeat the invading army using the attacks they bring about.

It’s the kind of game that could be addictive, but it’s not quite there yet. While many games feature a brief tutorial-mode when you first begin, I found that the intro to this game is so slow it’s almost painful; you have to complete quite a number of levels before the handy hints and descriptions stop interrupting your flow. If they could speed up the pace, it would be a lot of fun to play.

As an added bonus for those with a Sony Playstation 3: reach level 15 with your princess and you will get a code that gives you access to download Fat Princess for your console at no additional cost (as long as you also have vaid Facebook and Sony Entertainment Network accounts).

Fat Princess: Piece of Cake is free to download and play, but there are a number of in-app purchases like power-ups and character upgrades that will help you rescue the princess a little faster.

Categories : Android News
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Only true fans of Marvel comic books will be familiar with Big Hero 6, at least until Disney releases their upcoming animated film based on the series next month. Based in imaginary city of San Fransokyo, Big Hero 6 is based on a team of crime-fighters led by Hiro Hamada and Baymax (his robot). Ahead of the movie, Disney Interactive has built a Big Hero 6-themed mobile game that will be available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone on November 3.

When you hear that the game allows players to collect hundreds of bots and evolve them into higher forms, it’s possible you won’t need to hear more before you move to the edge of your seat. Using a match 3 style, players will do battle with their enemies by matching colored blocks together. It may sound exceedingly simple, but Disney Interactive producer Scott Humphries promises that the game will involve “strategy and depth,” making it complex (and probably addictive). Plus, it stars robots.

If you want a sneak peek into the game, as well as the Big Hero 6 franchise, check out the game-play video from TouchGameplay below.

Categories : Android News
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Unlike the intensely flawed process for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus a few weeks back, Apple is successfully offering pre-orders for their recently announced iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 tablets. Of course, calling it a pre-order is a bit misleading when customers can expect their tablets to ship within 2-4 days, arriving as early as October 23.

Pricing for the new iPads really hasn’t changed from previous versions, with a starting cost of $499 for the 16GB Air 2 and $399 for the 16GB Mini 3 models. If you want a little more storage, 64GB and 128GB models are also available in both sizes –all of which appear to still be available with a quick shipping time (and for once, colour doesn’t seem to play a part in how quickly you get your new device: with the silver, gold, and space grey all ready to go).

First impressions of the new iPads were pretty underwhelming, but it will be interesting to see if this changes at all once they are actually in our hot little hands. If nothing else, having Touch ID would be really nice –it’s amazing how that feature makes you wonder how you ever lived without it once you’ve given it a try.

It is pretty clear that Apple wanted these tablets out the door as soon as they were able, and while it seems they have done a good job… it may not be sitting as well with the hoards of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus customers who are still waiting for their smartphones to arrive after pre-ordering the devices over a month ago.

Categories : Android News
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It doesn’t matter how successful the launch of Apple Pay is, consumers and retailers are going to need some time to see how it works before they fully trust and then adopt the service. It is with this in mind that Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue made the statement that he expects the largest portion of Apple Pay transactions will be generated by in-app purchases.

This seems less like clairvoyance though, when you consider that the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 can only offer Apple Pay for in-app purchases –likely due to the lack of a near-field communication (NFC) antenna… meaning there are lots of iOS devices out there that don’t have any other options. Add to this the fact that most brand-loyal iOS users are already used to paying for in-app purchases on their device without pulling out their wallets, and it seems like a logical way for people to dip their toes in the Apple Pay waters.

Initial experiences will mean a great deal when Apple Pay launches today along side iOS 8.1, as they will go a long way toward making consumers either comfortable or nervous. Many credit and debit cards from major payment networks include American Express, MasterCard, and Visa are lined up to participate in the service. In addition, several banks have partnered with Apple including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Capital One.

Are you excited to try Apple Pay?

Categories : Android News
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The Polish eBook industry is starting to see some significant gains and rose 28% in 2013. There are some differing opinions on the exact figures when it comes to digital publishing. Biblioteka Analiz research exclaims that eBooks are valued at $16.3 million USD, while Pricewaterhouse Coopers is more conservative at $8 million USD.

Piotr Kubiszewski is an independent expert in digital publishing in Poland since 2005. He notes that there is only 40,000 eBook titles currently in circulation and 80% of new books that come out are digitized.

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Publishers are not overly concerned with digitizing their backlist titles right now, because there aren’t enough sales to make it financially viable. In 2013 the book selling industry was valued at $800 million USD, and only around $8-%16 million USD derived from eBooks.

On a consumer level, one of the barriers of eBook adoption is the VAT. Currently in Poland if you buy a digital title you are paying 23%, meanwhile print books are only taxed at 5%. The lower tax bracket on physical titles might be one of the deciding factors when libraries, schools and academia are establishing book acquisition budgets, it simply goes further with print.

One of the bright spots that have really increased the viability of eBooks is the unilateral acceptable of watermarks by the publishing industry. This is a stark contrast to North America, which bogs readers in a mire of Adobe DRM. In North America, the average digital reader is locked into dealing with one particular ecosystem, because of the way they package their encryption. You can buy from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kobo, but their formats are not interchangeable. You simply can’t buy an Amazon title and read it on your Kobo.

Polish readers benefit tremendously from watermarks, because it does not restrict or hinder your ability to load the book on your e-reader, smartphone or tablet. No third party programs are needed and this makes the entire process more intuitive and encourages the loaning them out to your friends. Piracy is actually reduced because of watermarks, because there is a clear path of ownership and removing the marks is an arduous process, few practice.

The Polish eBook industry is dominated by a number of homegrown companies that have managed to flourish in the last five years. Virtualo.pl, Publio.pl, Nexto.pl, Woblink.com and eBookPoint.pl are the current industry leaders. Piotr’s research has noted that when it comes to eBook sales, 90% stem from EPUB or MOBI, while PDF files only account for 10%.

Amazon currently does not have an official presence in Poland, but that has not stopped the vast majority of readers from using them regularly. Kindle adoption is at record highs, 84% of all book sales from Publio.pl and 73% of Virtualo.pl are sold in MOBI, which is the main Kindle book format. It is very apparent that people are loyal to the Amazon brand over e-readers that are more common in that part of the world, including Tolino, Pocketbook, or Onyx.

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Amazon has confirmed to Good e-Reader that they are opening up two pop-up stores in California to take advantage of the holiday season. The first location will be in Westfield San Francisco Centre and Sacramento, in the Westfield Galleria at Roseville.

Amazon has been testing the waters of retail for a number of years with pop-up stores, lockers and vending machines. Industry experts are wondering if this is a larger push for permanent physical retail presence, similar to the likes of Apple’s retail stores.

There will be a number of devices that will be on display with product specialists on hand to answer any questions or concerns. The Kindle Voyage, Kindle Basic, Kids Tablet, HD6, HD7 and Amazon Kindle Fire 8.9 will be available. Amazon will also be showcasing their Fire TV and Fire Phone and they will also insure you can buy a data plan with AT&T for all of the new hardware.

It is interesting to note that the Westfeld Galleria has hosted their fare share of pop-up stores in the past. Google opened up a Play Store there recently that allowed people to play with Nexus phones and tablets.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Welcome to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today we check out the Amazon Kindle Basic 2014 Touch Edition and the Kobo Aura H2O. Both of these readers are the latest and greatest and are getting a ton of media attention. Today, we look at the overall reading experience with eBooks and PDF files and also evaluate the big differences between them.

The Kobo H2O has a dynamic home screen, whenever you open up books, the internet browser or other core functions, they are added to the home area. This enables you to quickly access content, without having to constantly jump into various sub-menus. The Kindle Basic home screen is basically your library shelf.

Kobo gives more flexibility and control over the eBook reading experience, but the advanced options may be overwhelming for some users. They tend to have scroll bars that you can employ to augment the size of the font and even allow you to load in your own font styles. Amazon aims for a more simplistic system, which just gives you different font sizes, margins and line spacing.

The Basic really excels in reading PDF documents. You can pinch and zoom to isolate particular regions and you get a small preview window on the top left corner. This assists you in determining where exactly you are in the document if you have really zoomed in. One of the things I really liked was the ability to use highlights, take notes or use the translate feature on PDF Files. The H2O does not have pinch and zoom, and instead you have to utilize manual zoom, which is not very intuitive.


Multi-user-lollipop

Android has let us create multiple user accounts for a while now, as long as you were doing so on a tablet; it wasn’t until Lollipop that we could do this on a smartphone.

As you decide how best to take advantage of this new feature, keep in mind that the first user you create will be branded as the device’s owner and enjoy all of the administrator-type privileges that go along with that role. Each user can install their own apps and personalize the account, but there are a few important things to keep in mind: uninstalling an app for one account will affect everybody (who has the app installed), decisions configuring permissions and access for apps will affect everybody on the device, and the device owner can remove entire accounts (and all associated data) at any time.

Your initial reaction might be that it seems less likely more than one person would share a smartphone, but I would suggest that there are two main reasons to utilize multiple user accounts: creating a work versus home profile to segregate apps and data required for each, or to keep everything on your device safe from your toddler’s amazingly capable hands when you let them play during your next waiting room stint (especially when you learn that the device owner gets to decide whether secondary accounts can make or receive calls, or send and receive text messages).

Categories : Android News
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comics-spider-man-newspaper-collection

The Spider-Man  newspaper strip debuted in 1977 and was drawn by master Spider-artist John Romita Sr. and written by none other than Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee. IDW Publishing has announced that the first three years of the strip will get the graphic novel treatment in early 2015 and will likely be available digitally.

Newspaper Spider-Man is quite possibly the worst version of the character ever made. Newspaper Spidey is never quite that offensively terrible, but he also has a pretty dismal track record from when it comes to actual superheroism. He’s generally pretty cowardly, gets conked on the head a lot, and doesn’t actually seem all that concerned about this whole using-great-power-with-great-responsibility thing, instead preferring to just sort of lay around waiting for things to sort themselves out.

Early story arcs in the newspaper strip were paced much like a comic book, and a complete story unfolded in about 2 months of Sunday and daily strips. While the strip and the comic book feature the same characters, they do not share the same continuity. The strip differs from the established story lines of the comic books, most notably in the villains who Spider-Man fights and the women who Peter Parker dates. Many villains were introduced that have never appeared in other media, including the Rattler, a man who acquired snakelike characteristics. A rare exception was the 1987 wedding of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson which occurred in both the comic book and the comic strip.

The comic strip rebooted in 2008 and is still going strong today. The early days are really good for a laugh due to the cheesiness of the story-lines.

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Categories : Digital Comic News
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Newly appointed Kobo President and Chief Content Officer Michael Tamblyn took to Twitter today to post a rambling diatribe on why Amazon might not be the best call for indie authors to self-publish with. If you have a bone to pick with our favorite e-commerce whipping boy, you might take a depraved amount of glee from the complete notes below.

1) Indie authors take note: Amazon is, among other things, a machine designed to optimize product prices in order to gain share and sales.

2) Amazon, like every retailer that reaches a certain size, turns to its suppliers to grow profitability by demanding more favorable terms.

3) The Hachette-Amazon fight is an especially public manifestation of that Big Retail process. Nothing new there (Walmart, Target, B&N et al)

4) Some vocal traditionally published authors (but not all) support Hachette and criticize Amazon and…

5) Some vocal independent authors (but not all) support Amazon and criticize Hachette…

6) Defense of Amazon by indie authors makes sense on one level. For them, Amazon is the well-spring, where the self-pub revolution started.

7) But it seems like self-published authors believe they are protected somehow – that what is happening to Hachette won’t happen to them.

8) Some indie authors even muse that the best possible strategy is exclusivity with Amazon, leaving readers on other platforms behind.

9) In the long run, I don’t think that Amazon makes a big distinction between a publisher and an indy author – they are both suppliers.

10) Hachette and the rest of the big 5 sit at the top of a list of suppliers to be “improved” from Amazon’s perspective.

11) Hachette is first because one negotiation with a big publisher makes a lot of bestselling books more profitable. That’s efficient.

12) I don’t think anyone believes that Amazon will stop with Hachette. With a successful conclusion, all pubs will go through the same thing.

13) They will move down the list. Midsized or smaller publishers come next. (Assuming this all isn’t being pursued quietly in parallel.)

14) From Amazon’s perspective, how is an independent author any different than a publisher? Still a supplier, to be made more profitable.

15) The indie author’s situation is most tenuous of all. If >80% of sales come from Amazon, *no leverage when it’s your turn to be “optimized”

16) An indie author, like any publisher, can take her books away if in conflict with Amazon. But it hurts the author *way more than Amazon.

17) A reasonable author response to the Amazon threat wdb: “they won’t need to do that to us. Our prices are already where they need to be.”

18) (Indy authors on Amazon are penalized if their books are too expensive, so that’s largely true.)

19) But that assumes that the Amazon battle is about price. It’s not. It’s about profit. And _any_ supplier can be made more profitable.

20) If indie authors are 20% of Amazon’s total sales, then it’s hard to imagine that indie authors aren’t on that list to be improved.

21) But if the Amazon battle extends to indie authors, authors will have less leverage. Especially if they are exclusive.

22) The mechanisms for the Amazon squeeze are in place, agreements allow it. Self-pub inclusion in Select, Unlimited, KOLL are early examples.

23) Selling other publishers and authors, Amazon can survive without Hachette, but uncomfortably and less profitably.

24) With a diverse base of retailers, Hachette can survive without Amazon, also uncomfortably and less profitably.

25) Both parties having other options is why this dispute wasn’t over in a week or a month.

26) The litmus test for an indie author: could your income survive a conflict with Amazon? If not, it’s worth thinking about how you could.

27) To paraphrase: “First they came for the big New York publishers, but I wasn’t published by a big New York Publisher…”

28) Then they came for the mid-sized publishers, but I wasn’t published by a mid-sized publisher…

29) Then they came for the academic presses…

30) Then they came for the literary presses…

31) Then they came for me.

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mainstyles

After by Anna Todd has had over one billion reads on WattPad, this has attracted attention from Paramount Pictures and they decided to make a film out of it.

Adam Shankman and Jennifer Gibgot will produce through their Offspring Entertainment banner. Their credits include the Step Up series to 17 Again, Bedtime Stories, Hairspray, Rock Of Ages and The Last Song. This will be the first time a serialized book from WattPad will be made into a feature film.

Confirming the news on her Instagram page, After author Anna Todd wrote: “In case you haven’t heard… Paramount acquired the rights to After!!! I am so happy and so excited to finally tell you!… Never give up on your dreams because mine came true and so can yours!!

After has been billed as the ‘new Twilight’ and ’50 Shades of Grey without the S&M’. The book is basically fan-fiction of One Direction singer  Harry Styles. “Tessa Young is an 18 year old college student with a simple life, excellent grades, and a sweet boyfriend. She always has things planned out ahead of time, until she meets a rude boy named Harry, with too many tattoos and piercings who shatters her plans.”

Categories : E-Book News
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