Overdrive and Penguin have come to terms on a new agreement that will see over 500 audiobooks become available to libraries. These new audio editions will be available for public and college libraries in the U.S. and Canada under the one copy/one user lending model in both the WMA and MP3 format.
The Penguin audiobooks are mainly backlist titles, but there are a number of great authors works now available. Libraries will be able to buy older audio titles from Ken Follett, Clive Cussler, Anita Blake, Maya Banks, Roald Dahl, W.E.B. Griffin, Nick Hornby, Stephen King, Jen Lancaster, and Lee Child.
Penguin and Overdrive have had a tumultuous relationship, to say the least, over the course of the past few years. In May 2012 Penguin cancelled the contract they had with Overdrive because they felt that libraries lending out eBooks for free, devalued the overall product. It was only late in 2013 that a series of pilot projects were initiated to get Penguin back in the game with backlist and frontlist titles.
So whats changed with Penguin? Well, Overdrive suspended the ability to deliver eBooks to Kindle users wirelessly and instead have to be downloaded to the users computer and then synced to an Amazon product. Penguin harboured great resentment towards Amazon for their strongarm tactics of getting deals on selling eBooks and it pissed off management.
Still, libraries now can benefit from more audio editions in their library, and this sector is on the rise. The entire audiobook industry is currently worth around 1.6 billion dollars and that figure should climb further. The main reason? Audio book producers have been increasing their output. 13,255 titles came out in 2012, up from 4,602 in 2009.
The staff at Good e-Reader have been working on fumes this year with such a copious amount of e-reading devices that have come out in 2013. We have reviewed close to 70 different tablets, e-readers, smartwatches and the tech that goes into consumer devices. Today, Peter looks at the top 5 e-reading devices of 2013!
Welcome to another popular installment of the Good e-Reader Top Android Apps of the Week! Tons of popular games and apps have just hit the street and it is our job to inform you about the most essential ones that are worth your time.
Ski Challenge 14 – Enjoy a little suspense, action and thrills? Then Ski Challenge 14 is right for you! The rapid 3D ski simulations game offers exciting races and spectacular downhill runs this winter. FOR FREE! Experience exciting events and fly down the slope at 130 km/h – your new personal best is within reach!
Stickman Soccer – Experience pure soccer fun with fast paced gameplay, an astonishing atmosphere, stunning smooth animations, simple controls, insane action and tons of replay value. Choose your national soccer team and rank up while playing various seasons in spectacular stadiums or simple dominate in street soccer style matches. Decide whether you want full control over your players with manual running and shoot timing or use the automatic running mode where you have control over precise pass timing and watch your players tackle your opponents. Choose your favorite national soccer team from more than 32 different skilled teams and lead them to glory!
Chromecast – hromecast is the easiest way to enjoy online video and anything from the web on your TV. Plug it into any HDTV and control it with your existing smartphone, tablet, or laptop. No remotes required. Cast your favorites from Google Play, YouTube, Netflix, and Chrome to your TV with the press of a button.
Bible for Kids – The Bible App for Kids is the newest member of the YouVersion family of apps. Available now for Android smartphones and tablets, the Bible App for Kids is always completely free! Through interactive adventures and beautiful animations, kids explore the big stories of the Bible. The Bible App for Kids is a delight-filled experience designed to encourage kids to return again and again. It’s the beginning of a lifelong love of God’s Word.
FIFA – NEVER MISS A MOMENT. Download the most comprehensive football app on the planet and unlock the world of football. Hundreds of competitions, thousands of goals and over a million minutes of football every single week!
Sonic Dash – Play as Sonic the Hedgehog as you dash, jump and spin your way across stunning 3D environments. Swipe your way over and under challenging obstacles in this fast and frenzied endless running game.
Skee-Ball Arcade – Combining the fun of classic boardwalk arcade action with stunning new game boards, explosive power ups, and high-stakes tournament competition for both smartphone and tablet players, Skee-Ball Arcade has it all.
Kingdom Conquest 2 – It is a time of war and chaos. Begin with nothing and end with a kingdom. SEGA’s Kingdom Conquest II is the epic free-to-play strategy game for conquerors. Dominate real players online. Unite the strong and crush the weak until final victory is declared. You decide who joins your cause or submits to your will. Kingdom Conquest II blends the best elements of card battling, real time strategy, MMORPGs, and 3D dungeon battles to deliver a massive and addictive fantasy war game like no other.
Underwater Adventures – Are you an adventurer and a strategic thinker? Now it’s time for you to find out by playing the brand new Underwater Adventures game. Enjoy an underwater world filled with strange creatures, mystery, excitement, and fun, with a game that puts your navigational skills to the test.
Westjet – At WestJet, we really like our guests – so much that we want to go everywhere with you. Our app lets you check in, view flight status, reference travel info and connect with us on the go. It won’t be long before you’ll be able to use our app to book new flights, view upcoming trips and more.
Pocketbook is betting all or nothing on their new CAD Reader and this model has the dubious distinction of not being marketed to the general consumer segment. In order to garner mainstream interest before its Q1 or Q2 launch date of 2014, the company has developed a very polished online commercial.
The Pocketbook CAD e-Reader is aimed at business users who find themselves using software such as AutoCad. It features a 13.3 inch display with full WACOM stylus support to draw and make notes on the fly. Unlike tablets this model will garner around 2 months of battery life. Pocketbook makes it very clear that the CAD Reader is not a replacement for your computer or tablet, but seeks to replace paper and have have new architecture plans updated on the fly.
This is one of the highest performing devices Pocketbook has ever released. It is running Android 4.0.4 on a dual-core 1 GHz CPU with 2 GB RAM, 16 GB Flash storage. The CAD Reader is the first device to use E-ink’s new Fina screen tech, which is lighter and thinner than most of the dedicated e-readers on the market.
The largest site for readers and book recommendations GoodReads has just wrapped up one of their most successful years for their Choice Awards. Almost two million votes were cast and 20 books were selected by the community. When a book is on the ballot and wins the award what type of traction does it get? We have an internal document from GoodReads which illuminates the situation.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini won the best Fiction Award for the 2013 GoodReads Choice Awards. Voting initially opened November the 4th and the book saw a spike in user engagement. The most dramatic spike for people who added the book to their shelf and flagged it as wanting to read was when the book won the Fiction Award. Although GoodReads does not sell books directly, they do end up bringing people to the Kindle Store to make a buying decision if that particular person is using one of the Amazon branded e-Readers and Tablets.
There has been no dearth of prototypes of some form or the other showcasing displays exhibiting varying degrees of flexibility. However, it’s only now that bendable display technology seems to have matured enough to make the transition to a commercial entity. Both Samsung and LG have come up with smartphone which they claim to incorporate flexible displays. Of course Samsung isn’t just stopping with the Galaxy Round smartphone device but has announced flexible displays will form a major chunk of their product portfolio starting 2014 onwards.
Unfortunately, Samsung isn’t revealing all its cards which leave a lot of questions unanswered. The broad picture that has emerged is that Samsung will be relying on transparent displays and touchscreen metal mesh panels for its future smartphones and tablets. The company is also reported to have filed a patent application for a transparent display that will have touch based controls both at the front and the rear. These apart, Samsung has also been showing off flexible and even bendable display quite regularly. This makes us wonder if the future Samsung device will in reality be bendable or flexible.
Meanwhile, LG has released a video showing just how flexible their G Flex smartphone really is. Unlike Samsung’s Galaxy Round that bends vertically, the LG G Flex bends horizontally along the center. Also, with the G Flex, it is not just the display that is flexible but the entire smartphone device which is flexible. LG is claiming the device can even withstand forces of up to even 32 kilos directly on its rear before returning back to its original curved shape. What this means is that it is not the display alone but the entire smartphone construction that incorporates flexibility. Even the rear has been shown to be self-healing, having the ability to regain its original texture within minutes even after having been scratched vigorously.
As such, what is amply clear is that it is not just devices with flexible displays that are going to win the race but devices that as a whole exhibits flexibility, including the display. As for the benefits of such devices, there are many with the prime being that these are much better off in handling stress and strain. Theoretically, such a device will be able to withstand stress much longer than conventional LCD based devices though it also depends on the design and build of the specific device. Another advantage with flexible as seen on the Galaxy Round or G Flex is that they will have less glare on the eyes. Even Apple is believed to be considering incorporating flexible displays for its forthcoming iPhone 6 though its more wrap around in nature.
Other challenges that manufacturers will have to take in their stride is to come up with economic means of producing flexible devices in enough quantities. Currently the Galaxy Round has only been released on a limited scale which has seriously limited its wider availability. Let’s just hope such issues have been sorted out before companies takes to launch device with flexible displays.
Sometimes, it’s not enough to know that Aunt Janet loves to read, and therefore should be given a book for Christmas. Has she read that book already? Does she even like mysteries? Is Aunt Janet going to be offended by the language of explicit nature of this particular book?
With the advent of digital publishing and ebooks, even gift cards can be difficult. An Amazon gift card, for example, isn’t necessarily the right fit for a dedicated Nook user. Your thoughtful gift can languish in a drawer until the day Aunt Janet regifts it…hopefully not to you.
But two subscription-based reading platforms are offering e-cards this season, fully customizable options that include self-selected artwork and the opportunity to read across a small variety of devices while enjoying unlimited content.
Scribd and Oyster, two companies who are finally bringing some much-needed focused attention to the long sought after subscription reading model, are both making their unlimited pay-per-month service available for gifting in easy to purchase increments. Users are not locked into buying long-term subscriptions, with the chance to buy even a one-month subscription to let the recipient try it out before committing. Both companies offer this option to people who are not already registered users, so you don’t have to be a member in order to send this gift to a diehard reader; if your recipient is already a member of either service, this gift simply rolls over into their account so that they still benefit from your purchase.
Bear in mind that Oyster currently only works as an iOS app on devices running iOS7, and Scribd is only compatible with iOS or Android phones, tablets, or via the desktop app. Also remember that a host of other companies, like Spain’s 24Symbols, cater to reading in markets outside the US, as well as gifts from companies like XinXii, Spanish Publishers and Le French Book that focus on translations.
Google has embarked upon another major expansion drive, this time targeting the Latin American countries for making available its Google Play Book services. The five new countries that will now have access to Google Play Books include Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. The last time we have seen Google expand its service was about a month ago when it’s Google Play Book services was launched in South Africa, Turkey and Switzerland. With this, Google’s ebook service is now available in 44 countries worldwide. However, in stark contrast, Google Magazines are only available in a handful of countries, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and United States.
In any case, those in the aforementioned countries can log into their Google account to access the ebook section, an inherent advantage of which is that it can also be accessed via non-Android devices as well.
Just when you thought there were no new worlds for comiXology to conquer, they show up on a new platform: eBay.
Up till now, eBay has been pretty much a place where you buy physical goods; they allowed sales of a few categories of digital items, but with plenty of restrictions (including the rather odd requirement that ebooks listed in categories other than “Everything Else” have to be sent to the buyer via postal mail).
On December 5, though, they launched eBay Digital Comics, which really looks like a storefront for comiXology: eBay users can look through a selection of comics on the eBay site, but when they pick a comic they are immediately transported to comiXology for the actual purchase. Buyers must have a comiXology account—they can’t buy the comics with their eBay login—and once they buy the comic they can read it in the comiXology apps or on the comiXology website.
Everyone is in business to make money, so it makes sense to look at the costs and benefits to eBay. The risk, it would seem, is the same one that comics shops worry about: That digital sales will cannibalize print sales. Since eBay has dealt only in hard copies right now, that’s a reasonable concern. On the other hand, there is money to be made in digital comics. But with comiXology handling the sales, how would that work? Presumably eBay is getting a cut of sales, as it would if it were a brick-and-mortar retailer using a comiXology digital storefront.
The current setup is a little puzzling, though, because the digital comics only seem to appear in eBay’s dedicated digital comics storefront. One reason to put comics on eBay is because it’s a site that a huge number of people visit and browse every day. But the comics seem to be in only one place; they don’t come up in searches on titles like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and even adding “digital comic” to the search terms doesn’t bring up the comiXology comics. That does reduce the risk of digital sales detracting from hard-copy sales, but at the same time it reduces the likelihood of digital sales as well.
The storefront itself seems to have a limited number of comics, including The Walking Dead, X-Men, some collected editions, and this week’s new comics. Publishers represented include Marvel, BOOM! Studios, IDW, and Image. I didn’t see any DC comics or collections there.
Right now, though, this looks like like comics without a country. If the digital comics don’t show up in product searches, the vast eBay-using public won’t run across them. Users can got to the digital storefront, but if they are going to do that, they might as well go to the comiXology storefront. The comics aren’t any cheaper on eBay (alas!), there’s an extra login involved, and the standard eBay safeguards and mechanisms aren’t there, because readers are actually buying the comics via comiXology, not eBay.
It’s early days yet, so maybe these things will change. Leena Rao of TechCrunch says this is a limited beta test, so maybe we will see the digital comics service become better integrated into eBay. If that happens, it could be a powerful tool, bringing potentially millions of new readers to digital comics.
American restaurant chain Applebee’s has purchased 100,000 tablets that will allow the public to order and pay for food. The company plans on keeping staffing levels the same and will not fire anyone due to the tablets being setup at each table.
Instead of going with the Apple iPad like most companies, Applebee’s has decided to go with Presto, which is similar to the Point-of-sale software that the servers use. The tablets will also be outfitted with a standard credit card reader as well as NFC to link up to mobile wallet apps. These are going out to 1,800 Applebee’s locations in the US by the end of 2014. The company also says it plans to add other features like streaming music, video, and even tools that will let you share what you’re eating with Facebook buddies.
During initial beta testing, Applebee’s management discovered that the tablets encourage more orders of appetizers and desserts during a typical meal. For families, the tablets will include a variety of video games that can be accessed through a modest fee. A trivia game, for instance, would likely cost $1 to play, fairly identical to microtransactions on consumer owned smartphones and tablets. Conceptually, Mom and Dad can keep the kids entertained with the tablet while waiting for their meals to arrive.
Barnes & Noble together With Microsoft has announced an exclusive Nook for Windows 8.1 offer that will allow residents in UK to download books and magazines for free. Of course it is a limited period offer, enabling those who installs the Nook for Windows 8.1 app on their devices to download up to 5 ebooks and 5 digital magazines from a select list free of cost.
“By providing bestselling books and top magazines for free, new NOOK customers in the UK can start their digital libraries with some great content from the NOOK Store. We look forward to rolling out similar great offers to customers in more countries in the future, helping them to experience our unmatched reading platform,” said Jim Hilt, Managing Director, Barnes & Noble S.à.r.l.
Among the titles offered free include bestsellers The Moaning Of Life by Karl Pilkington, Booker Prize winner The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, and Of Lions and Unicorns by Michael Morpurgo. Magazines on offer include the likes of Cosmopolitan UK, Men’s Health, T3, Esquire UK and and so on.
Speaking of the development, Dr. Fiona Fyfe, Product Marketing Manager, Windows Apps said: ”We are really excited to have the NOOK App on our platform. Our customers will benefit greatly from the exclusive offer of five free books and magazines from the NOOK Store. The Windows 8 operating system works across a range of devices, making it perfect for an eReading app like NOOK. This year, activations of Windows 8 devices has grown, and this in turn has seen our customers engaging deeply with the Windows Store. Currently, we have over 100,000 apps in the Windows Store and the NOOK App is a strong addition which will deliver a great reading experience to our customers.”
B&N had recently embarked on a major expansion drive, making available its Nook app for the Windows 8.1 platform in 32 countries and 12 languages. Among the countries the app has been made available include Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.
OverDrive, the world’s largest provider of digital content to academic and public libraries, announced a new partnership today that will increase its catalog of offered titles, specifically in key areas of business, science, and research. McGraw-Hill Professional, a widely respected provider of content and services for the medical, technical, and business communities, is making its list of books available for OverDrive’s 27,000 partner libraries. These libraries include both public and K-12 school libraries, as well as higher education libraries.
“McGraw-Hill Professional is committed to supporting libraries and making our world-renowned content easily available to patrons in multiple formats,” said Philip Ruppel, President of McGraw-Hill Professional, in a press release. “We are very pleased to work with OverDrive to help us reach students, professionals, and those seeking to advance their education or careers.”
“McGraw-Hill Professional titles represent the best of breed in every business and technical category of publishing,” continued Karen Estrovich, Manager of Collection Development at OverDrive. “Our library and school partners have been asking for their award-winning titles, and we are pleased to be able to make these valuable titles available now to students and patrons worldwide.”
According to a statement from OverDrive, this new partnership will make titles such as collections as 5 Steps to a 5 AP (test prep series), Practice Makes Perfect (foreign language study), Schaum’s Outline (study aid series), Mike Meyers’ CompTIA (technical certification series), and Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal and Customer-Centric Employees. High-demand bestsellers include The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley; Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, et al, McGraw-Hill’s 5 TEAS Practice Tests by Kathy Zahler; and Programming the Raspberry Pi: Getting Started in Python by Simon Monk, available to patrons of member libraries.
An area of interest in much of the Chinese culture is a fun fascination with world records, and specifically with breaking those records. Now, to fuel that interest for a larger audience, the Guinness Book of World Records has signed an exclusive publishing deal with Foreign Languages Teaching and Research Publishing (FLTRP), the Beijing-based leading education products and services provider in China. This deal will establish a Mandarin translation of the 2014 edition of the book, along with a special featured section in that edition to highlight records that have been set and held by Chinese nationals.
In a post earlier this year from the annual Guinness book creators, Rowan Simons, President, Greater China, for Guinness World Records, stated, “This first deal with FLTRP is just one part of a long term strategy that will see GWR introduce full Chinese language products and services across its business lines. “FLTRP was our first choice to bring record breaking solutions to kids known for their thirst for knowledge. The scale of the opportunity in the ELT sector alone is superlative with FLTRP estimating that over 500,000 students participated in its most recent language competition.”
FLTRP President, Cai Jianfeng went on to state that “FLTRP is proud to launch our co-operation with Guinness World Records by publishing the official Chinese edition of this famous annual book, which has been entertaining and informing audiences across the globe for nearly 60 years.”
At the end of this summer, a record was attempted to commemorate the partnership between Guinness World Records and FLTRP, in which they attempted to secure the most people writing a story in honor of the city’s reading initiative. The record was held by a group of 953 participants in Ireland, in 2011.