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Overdrive has just released their first app for Chrome OS, which also works as a standalone app for the Chrome internet browser. It was designed as a tool to primarily read eBooks that you borrow from the library.

Over 35,000 libraries all over the world use Overdrive as their content distribution system of choice. When you borrow eBooks, audiobooks, music or videos from your local branch, chances are it stems from the Overdrive service.

The functionality of the Chrome app is totally different, depending on if you are using the browser extension for Windows,  Chrome OS, Chrome for Android and a myriad of other platforms. Thanks to a diligent young scholar over at MobileRead, here is the full list of supported features for each platform.

Windows OS — Chrome Browser

  • Kindle eBook
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
  • Open EPUB eBook
  • PDF eBook
  • Open PDF eBook
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
  • OverDrive WMA Audiobook

Android OS — Android App

  • Kindle eBook
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
  • Open EPUB eBook
  • PDF eBook
  • Open PDF eBook
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
  • OverDrive WMA Audiobook

Chrome OS — Chrome Browser

  • Kindle eBook
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
  • Open EPUB eBook
  • PDF eBook
  • Open PDF eBook
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
  • OverDrive WMA Audiobook

Chrome OS — Chrome App

  • Kindle eBook
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
  • Open EPUB eBook
  • PDF eBook
  • Open PDF eBook
  • OverDrive MP3 Audiobook
  • OverDrive WMA Audiobook

Some content is better than no content at all I guess. At least owners of the Chrome Pixel or any number of sub $200 Chromebooks can finally be able to read eBooks borrowed from the library.

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Amazon has announced that it is giving away six months worth of free access to their eBook subscription platform, Kindle Unlimited. In order to qualify for this promotion you need to live in the US and purchase a new e-reader or tablet.

Kindle Unlimited is billed as a Netflix for eBooks subscription system. It normally costs $10 a month and gives readers access to over 750,000 titles. Major publishers have not committed themselves to the platform yet, so its mainly populated by second rate companies and indie authors.

Amazon is bundling access to Kindle Unlimited on the new Fire HD6, Fire HD7, Kindle Basic Touch and the Kindle Paperwhite. Likely, Amazon is including this range of products because they aren’t selling that well. Which is why they aren’t bundling it on the new Kindle Voyage, which continues to experience a long wait list for new orders.

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Black-Friday-Line

Amazon and Barnes and Noble are gearing up for one of the biggest shopping days in the US with some mighty deals. If you are looking for a new e-reader or tablet, you might want to check these out.

Barnes & Noble Announces Special, “In-Store Only” Black Friday Doorbuster on the 7-Inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK. Only $129.99 while supplies last. Customers Can Also Get 50% off Select New York Times Bestselling NOOK Books.

The NOOK GlowLight is available at a permanent low price of only $99, down from $119, at Barnes & Noble stores nationwide and online at NOOK.com and BN.com. Customers will also receive a $5 starter credit towards any NOOK purchase. Barnes & Noble Members can get an even greater value with an additional 10% off NOOK GlowLight.

Categories : e-Reader News
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GraphicAudio is celebrating their ten year anniversary producing their own audiobooks in-house. The company has been pumping out a ton of content over the years and recently has gotten involved in licensing major comic book properties from major publishers such as DC.   This has caught the attention of Disney owned Marvel, and a new audiobook is now available based on the Guardians of the Galaxy property, which indecently was the highest grossing Marvel movie of 2014.

ROCKET RACCOON AND GROOT STEAL THE GALAXY features over 40 talented voice actors, original music, sound effects and a very special vocal performance by Groot.  Filled with action and humor this audio production will captivate the whole family while driving cross country during this Holiday Season.

This is not the first audiobook that Graphic has done with Marvel, but is likely the highest profile one to date. In the past they have done a few titles, including IRON MAN: EXTREMIS which was recently featured by AudioFile Magazine as a Best Audio Drama of 2014.

Regular followers of the audiobook space might not have heard of Graphicaudio before, they certainly are not a household name, such as Audible.  Michele Cobb mentioned “The Cutting Corporation is a small American business and was founded in 1971.  Since 2004, GraphicAudio, an imprint of The Cutting Corporation has published approximately 1000 titles and 65 different series in their GraphicAudio A Movie in Your Mind audiobook entertainment format.  We have in-house studios and directors, voice talent and sound designers that efficiently process the high number of hours we produce in this production value heavy format that includes sound effects and original music.

In order to buy content you have to do it directly from their website and then download one of their apps for iOS or Android in order to listen to the titles on your mobile device. Graphic is actually one of the few audio producers that still sells all of their content on CD as well, and one of their big selling points is being able to listen to the books on your PC via MP3 or FLAC.

Categories : Audiobooks
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Untitled-1

Sony has secretly been building their own skunk works department in Japan. 200 researchers are trying to flesh out ideas that have nothing to do with the core markets or products that Sony currently is marketing. One of them, to be released next year is a smartwatch, made entirely of e Ink Mobius.

Mobius uses a TFT technology that will enable the watch to be much lighter and rugged .  One of the main selling points behind this watch is that it will weigh less than 50% of an equivalent glass based TFT.  One of the only consumer products on the market to  use this technology was the Sony 13 inch writing Slate, that despite its 13.3 inch display weighs less than a six inch Kindle.

The premise behind the new e Ink watch from Sony is that the screen and band are made entirely of e-paper. This will allow people to not  only customize their watch face, which is standard fare int he world of watches, but also the wristband too. Unlike the Pebble, which actually does not use e Ink, the battery life should garner about a month of constant use.

Categories : E-Paper
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pinterest-android

Those of you with a Pinterest addiction that rivals mine will be delighted to hear that the Android version of the app has received an overhaul that includes a move vibrant and intuitive user interface (iPhone users have been enjoying this major update for a few weeks now, so it’s about time).

In addition to the new look and feel, loading the app is also opening faster than ever (down to about 2 seconds from the old clock time of 5.3 seconds). This is great news for anybody who opens web links inside the app as they will load nearly as quickly as in a browser tab.

What this boils down to: you can learn every craft and helpful hint faster and easier than ever before.

Because Google Play’s rollout feature is being used, it may be a few days before everybody is able to see the updates.

If you have free time you no longer want control of, download Pinterest for Android now.

Categories : Android News
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Skype

In a major update to Skype, you can continue your video call without interruption if you leave the app with picture-in-picture support. This means the person you are calling won’t know if you’ve left the app to check your email (or browse Facebook), with Skype now maintaining a clear video picture all the while (in a re-positionable window that runs on top of whatever you are doing so it remains visible on your end).

Other additions in this latest package allow you to receive photos from Skype for iPhone users (and other clients), adds support for formatted text (like bold, italic, and strikethrough), and promises that chats will load faster (especially when opened using notifications).

Microsoft has been paying a lot of attention to Skype lately –adding the messaging software to their Office Online apps, giving users the chance to chat and collaborate on Word and PowerPoint documents within each native app.

If you haven’t made your first call with Skype for Android, download it now for free and give it a try.

Categories : Android News
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It wasn’t very long ago that Samsung announced their plans to cut back their smartphone line-up –this time, it’s Sony doing the same thing. Where once it seemed like Sony was on top of the tech world and could do no wrong, now they are struggling to carve out a competitive piece of the mobile market.

Reducing their smartphone lineup by as much as 30% should help return Sony to profitability, while also giving a smaller portfolio of devices to support. Unfortunately, reducing the number of devices being offered does little to compete with smartphone leaders like Apple and Samsung.

On the plus side, Sony’s latest Android-powered handsets are receiving great reviews even though sales figures don’t support them. The reality is that there are plenty of devices to choose from, and a large number of users already have smartphones (and are upgrading with less frequency than in the past).

Sony isn’t just scaling back smartphones –their TV business is also taking a similar hit. The only divisions left untouched are related to console gaming and their image sensor equipment (currently found in devices made by companies like Apple).

Categories : Android News
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The Moscow Metro has unveiled an ambitious new plan to give free eBooks away to riders. This pilot project is only starting at a handful of subway stations and once all of the kinks have been worked out will expand to over 195.

Riders will be able to get free access to Nikolai Gogol’s Nose, Alexander Pushkin’s Egyptian Nights, Anton Chekhov’s About Love, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Mr. Prokharchin by scanning QR codes. The codes will be read on a smartphone or tablet and instantly download the book to your device.

The first few stations to get this service will be Dinamo, Belorussky, and Krasnye Vorota. It will eventually spread to all of the system’s 195 metro stations, and is already available on about 700 of the city’s trams, trolleys, and buses.

The metro system is always going to be unveiling a new WIFI system by the end of the year. This will allow users to not only download the books but also the reading apps necessary to view them.

Categories : E-Book News
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A Kindle reader

A number of analysts have been proclaiming that within a few years digital eBooks will overtake print. PricewaterhouseCoopers is one of the most notorious, who recently said this will occur in 2018. Is this possible?

In the United States and Britain, sales of eBooks represent between a quarter and a third of the consumer book market. According to a recent survey by Nielsen Books, eBook sales made up 23% of unit sales for the first six months of 2014, while hardcover’s accounted for 25% and paperbacks 42%.

Ever since the Kindle was released in 2007 digital sales have consistently increased by double digit figures. In 2013, sales growth for eBooks slowed to single digits, and the new numbers from Nielsen suggest the leveling off was no anomaly.

Can we ever get to the point where eBook sales will outsell print, whether its in 2018, as PWC expects, or beyond? I think its possible, but a number of things have to occur for the general public to really embrace it.

One of the big drawbacks in North America and the UK is the fact digital books are merely licensed and not truly owned. When you buy an eBook from Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kobo you don’t actually own it, you are basically just buying a temporary license. The lack of ownership can create a host of problems that end up being mainstream news. In 2013 Amazon remotely deleted purchased copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from customers’ Kindles after providing them a refund for the purchased products. This was primarily due to a rift with the original publisher and rights issues. Additionally,  a Norwegian women tried to purchase a Kindle book from the UK bookstore. Under Amazon’s rules, this type of action is barred, as the publisher seeks to control what content is read in which territory of the world. Her account was promptly deleted and all content lost.

Another big reason why eBooks likely won’t overtake print anytime soon is chiefly due to Adobe DRM. Digital Rights Management is a form of encryption that prevents unauthorized access or distribution of eBooks you purchase. This is primarily why if you borrow a digital title from the library or buy an eBook online, you need to use Adobe Digital Editions to load it on your e-reader. Unlike real books, you can’t loan out purchased content out to friends, unless you give out your account information to a friend, which is against the terms of service. Some publishers have opted into a program for the sharing of a title for up to two weeks, one time on the Kindle and Nook ecosystem. But these companies do little to promote it and the actual process is a bit complicated.

I think what the eBook industry needs to do is gravitate away from using Adobe Digital Editions as the default standard to protect publishers content. Instead, they need to start embracing Social DRM or Digital Watermarks. In the last few weeks I have conducted interviews with Digimarc and Booxtream, which have been eye opening. They basically outlined their technology in such a way that I thought “why isn’t everyone doing this?”

Right now digital watermarking is big in Europe and is considered the de’facto standard in the publishing arena, but now North Americans are slowly starting to realize the potential. The watermark is imperceptible to the average book reader because the underlying technology is invisible to the naked eye. The way it handles data can take two distinctive forms: personal information about the user who purchased the eBook (such as an email address) or an ID number that the distributor can use to look up the user or transaction in a database. This technology basically allows users to easily loan an eBook to a friend or load it on their smartphone, tablet, or e-reader without the need to use any 3rd party programs. Its as simple as using Windows Explorer when your gadget is plugged into your computer and copy/paste.

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Finally, the worldwide market has failed to embrace eBooks in a meaningful way, as readers in North America have. Last year, digital books made up 8% of the consumer book market in France, less than 4% in Germany and Italy, and 1% in Sweden and Norway. In Asia, Japan led the eBook markets with 15% of the country’s total consumer book revenues; China and India, meanwhile, lagged far behind at 3%. Part of the reason why the adoption is so low is the actual cost of eBooks. If you look at the top 10 bestseller list, the average title is around $12.00 in the US, but in France its $24.99, $20.00 in Germany and 19.02 in Sweden.

So to sum everything up. In order for eBooks to have a shot at overtaking print there has to be a clear defined path of ownership. There also has to be a stabilization of pricing and it has to be very intuitive to loan a book to a friend or load it on as many devices as you desire.

Categories : Commentary, E-Book News
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video-stream

Welcome to another Video Installment of the Good e-Reader Gift Giving Guide! Last month we did one on the best e-readers of 2014 and today we are basically looking back on 2014 and giving our advice for the best devices to buy yourself or a loved one. Peter and myself have very different views on technology, so you can get a sense on what we loved the most.


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If you are a seasoned airline traveler, likely you will be familiar with the quintessential in-flight entertainment system. It provides an animated map with the location of your flight and also a host of movies, television shows, music and children’s content. You can now add eBooks to the list to keep the literary minded entertained.

Starting November 26, HarperCollins will be providing excerpts from a selection of bestselling eBooks, and each digital sample will include buy buttons to a variety of retailers. Excerpted titles include Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell, Yes Please by Amy Poehler, Endgame: The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton, and Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean.

I think its great that Jetblue recognizes that more and more airline flyers are reading on their e-readers and tablets. This is chiefly because of the relaxing of restrictions regarding the gate to gate use of these gadgets.

Categories : E-Book News
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The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds thousands of health and research scientists to solve many of the worlds most dire issues. Until this point, the reports and data the foundation funded were sometimes published in magazines, sold online and generally out of reach for the general public. This is set to change.

The Gates Foundation has announced that starting in 2017 it will require that the researchers it funds publish only in immediate open-access journals. In order to setup a proper pipeline for scientists the Foundation is mandating that current grantees can publish in subscription-based journals as long as their paper is freely available within 12 months. But after that, the journal must be open access, meaning papers are free for anyone to read immediately upon publication. Articles must also be published with a license that allows anyone to freely reuse and distribute the material. And the underlying data must be freely available.

“By reinforcing the global health community’s commitment to sharing research data and information, we can accelerate the development of new solutions to tackle infectious diseases, cut maternal and child mortality, and reduce malnutrition in the world’s poorest places,” wrote Trevor Mundel, president of the foundation’s Global Health Division, on the group’s website on 20 November.

The Gates Foundation spends roughly $900 million dollars a year on research. This equates to 1400 papers a year that soon will be available for anyone to read right away. Only 30% of the existing reports actually are open-access right now, so within a few years this number will increase to 100%, which will be a boon for free digital access.

Categories : Digital Education
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