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.
The National Library of Norway has embarked on an ambitious mission, that of digitizing all of its titles with the hope of achieving this by mid-2020. Such an endeavor will cover every book ever published in the country since, as per Norwegian law, all published material in all media should be deposited with the National Library of Norway. This will ensure everyone in Norway has access to the books at all times, which also includes those that come under the purview of copyright laws. Users will be able to download the books, though this applies only to those that are not copyrighted.
The National Library has stated they will continue to hold onto their physical collection in spite of the digitization efforts. Also, with books becoming machine readable which will not require a physical presence in the library, the authorities stated they will continue to encourage and promote the library as a physical meeting place. The library owns some rare collections of manuscripts, maps, posters, special books, photographs, and more, and will continue to make these available.
There have been widespread digitization efforts elsewhere in the world given the public preference for digital copies of printed texts and the sense of urgency surrounding preserving rare volumes. Also, given that maintaining digital copies is far more cost effective than their printed counterparts, libraries around the world have taken to digitizing their physical collections in the wake of budget cuts.
Amazon revealed that as many as 25 out of 100 of its best-selling titles in 2012 were from indie publishers. This should serve as a measure of the growing clout that the indie publishers and authors have come to wield. Also, lest anyone have any doubt about what exactly “indie” refers to or whether it would include publishing via any of those other than the big six publishing house in the US, an Amazon spokeswoman clarified by saying: “This figure is referring to Kindle books on Amazon.com in 2012, with ‘indie’ meaning books self-published via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). So a quarter of the top 100 bestselling Kindle books on Amazon.com in 2012 were self-published via KDP.”
Experts believe the share of authors preferring to publish their own books is fast catching on, so the percentage of indie authors is expected to rise further in the coming years. As Orna Ross, director of the UK Alliance of Independent Authors, which is a representative body of self-published authors, said: “We are in the middle of a major change. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we reached a situation where the majority of the top books are author-published. I don’t see what would stop that.”
Another trend is self-published authors who make it big ending up landing lucrative deals with conventional publishers. Paul Pilkington, a lecturer in a university in the UK, signed up with the UK-based publisher Hodder & Stoughton after two of his novels went on to sell more than 150,000 copies, other indie authors who got picked up by conventional publishers include the likes of Kerry Wilkinson and Beth Reeks. Kerry Wilkinson signed up with Pan Macmillan after success with his crime series which he had initially self-published. Beth Reeks, the nineteen-year-old student of physics, has been picked up by Random House after her romantic fiction, The Kissing Booth, which she had published at the storytelling site Wattpad, created a fan following of over 19 million.
However, not everyone is impressed with the development. As independent publisher Colin Robinson of Or Books cautioned: “It’s possible that some of the publishers I’ve never heard of are in fact imprints set up by the author of the book but, especially as several appeared with books by more than one author (or at least one author’s name), it seems unlikely that more than a few are. Disney and Little Brown are doing great. So are joke books.”
There has been a recent furor when erotic or adult themed novels ended up being listed alongside children’s titles, pointing fingers at self-published authors of those works. The booksellers blamed this on the rampant increase in indie authors who often would publish such stories to gain publicity or earn money.
The Captain America sequel “The Winter Soldier” is poised to hit movie theaters March 26 2014. The movie will be about Steve Rogers after the first Avengers movie and his role in the Marvel cinematic universe. What digital graphic novels are essential reading and who exactly is the Winter Soldier? We dive deep into the issue and give you the low-down.
The Marvel cinematic universe is quite different from the other timelines for digital comics published on a monthly basis. Marvel comics, the Ultimates and other franchises all do a different spin on the same major characters and story lines. When it comes to the line of movies like The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor and others, it is officially dubbed Earth-199999.
In the Captain America movie his good buddy James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes was one of Steve Rogers old friends, whom was recruited into his strike force to go after the Red Skull. Rogers and his team successfully sabotage various HYDRA operations. The team later assaults a train carrying Zola, the main scientist. Zola is captured, but Barnes falls from the train to his apparent death.
The Winter Solider will tell the tale of General Vasily Karpov finding Bucky’s cold-preserved body missing one arm. Bucky is revived in Moscow, but suffers brain damage with amnesia as a result of the explosion. Scientists then attach a bionic arm to him to give him added strength. He is programmed to be a Soviet assassin for Department X, under the code name the Winter Soldier, he is sent on covert wetworks missions, i.e., missions involving assassination, becoming increasingly ruthless and efficient as he kills in the name of the state. While a Soviet agent, he also has a brief relationship with The Black Widow, who was also mind programmed to be an assassin at the time. In the recent Avengers film Hawkeye makes reference to having his mind torn asunder by Loki and Black Window mentioned she knows how he feels.
In order to have his loyalty the Winter Soldier was kept in cryostasis, so between missions he is kept from aging. He does various missions over the years, leading to the terrorist attack that puts him back on Shields radar.
If you want to get a firm understanding of all the different events leading up to the movie, you want to get your hands on the digital or normal graphic novels. You would be hard pressed to find the original Avengers comic book #4, which is the first appearance of Captain America and Bucky. About the best you can do is buy the The Avengers Omnibus, Vol. 1, which has the first 100 issues of the Avengers. It is not available as a digital edition so you will have to spend around $72.00 on Amazon. The best comic you could find, written in the modern times was the retelling of the Winter Solider by luminary Ed Brubaker, entitled Captain America, Vol. 1: Winter Soldier Ultimate Collection. There are three different graphic novels in the collection and even goes into The Black Window, essential stuff. Comixology has the later editions you can purchase for around $10.00 each, so it is fairly economical. Comixology has Winter Soldier Vol. 1: The Longest Winter, Winter Soldier Vol. 2: Broken Arrow and Winter Soldier Vol. 3: Black Widow Hunt.
In an interesting trivia note, Bucky’s death has also been used to explain why the Marvel Universe has very few kid sidekicks, as no responsible hero wanted to endanger a minor in similar fashion. Stan Lee also harbored a well-known dislike for boy sidekicks in general. So, it could be posited that when Captain America was revived in the Silver Age, Stan Lee chose not to bring back Bucky. It was not until the last decade that he was brought back as a recurring character.
Publishers and distributors of e-books in Japan have voiced concern over the proposed hike in consumption tax from the current 5 percent to 8 percent by April 2014. However, while the taxation would apply to ebook publishers and distributors in Japan, the same when sourced from overseas vendors enjoy immunity from the tax net. As such, retailers such as Amazon or Rakuten’s Canadian arm Kobo are not required to pay consumption tax in Japan. This as per the local players are allowing the overseas vendors undue benefit vis-à-vis their domestic counterparts.
As per the current legal system, ebooks purchased and downloaded from servers outside of Japan are deemed transactions, and are hence considered to be outside the purview of consumption tax. It is only the items and services purchased in Japan that are subject to paying consumption tax.
“Online shoppers are sensitive to prices. One of the reasons that foreign vendors gained a large share in the Japanese market was the unfair environment regarding the consumption tax,” said an executive with bookstore operator Kinokuniya Co.
This, as per Daiwa Institute of Research Holdings Ltd. is also leading to the Japanese government losing out billions of yen in revenue every year. The loss is pegged at a substantial 25 billion yen in 2012 alone. The domestic players are urging the government to come up with a quick solution though anything of that sort seems unlikely to emerge before spring 2014 when the higher rate structure will come in place. Government sources have assured local publishers and ebook retailers they are investigating the matter and have assured a level playing field for all though that is not expected to happen anytime soon.
“At the time the consumption tax was introduced (in the late 1980s), few imagined that the Internet would develop this much. The Finance Ministry should start upgrading legislation to create a fair environment,” said Yoshikazu Miki, a law professor at Aoyama Gakuin University.
In-depth details on what motivates reading in children have come out in a new book, published by the world’s leading publisher of children’s content, Scholastic. In Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want – and Why We Should Let Them, authors Jeffrey D. Wilhelm (Boise State University) and Michael W. Smith (Temple University), explain that there has to be more to books for young people than just the typical academic requirements.
The results of the professors’ findings have led to an awe-inspiring but earth-shattering conclusion: school-based reading instruction should focus even more on self-selected texts for pleasure reading, and less on rote instruction from corporate lessons.
“At a time when the Common Core Stare Standards and high-stakes assessments turn the eyes of parents, teachers, and policy-makers to what reading can do for you, we should not lose sight of the deep and manifold pleasures it can bring to you,” Smith said in a press release. “Those pleasures are what motivate reading in the here and now and what make it likely that young people will read in the future.”
“Never underestimate the power of pleasure in motivating and sustaining reading and improvement in reading,” continued Wilhelm. “And never underestimate the deep psychological work, psychological satisfaction, and human development that is occurring for readers of freely chosen texts. Books that are often marginalized by educators or parents are often the best choice for the readers at any given point in their own human developmental journeys.”
As one of the leaders in curricular publishing, too, Scholastic’s release of Wilhelm and Smith’s title will hopefully hold some level of sway over administrative decision making at the local and state government school boards, allowing more time during the school day to be spent on individualized reading for pleasure rather than simply reading for the sake of the curriculum.
Reading Unbound is available from the Scholastic Teacher store for pre-order, and will ship in January. Free samples of the content are available for download now.
Market research firm IDC has projected the Windows-based tablet segment to grow to 39.3 million units by 2017. This will include both stand alone tablet devices as well as hybrid tablets, devices that come with a detachable keyboard and can be operated as either a tablet or a notebook device. This rise is expected to fill the void created by the shrinking PC sales, at least to some extent, which has been steadily declining since the advent of the tablet device. IDC pegged the PC segment to stabilize at around 300 million units by 2017, claiming these might have lost relevance to some extent, even though they cannot be replaced by portable devices yet.
It is only the emergence of Windows 8.1 along with low power consuming Intel Bay Trail chips that has led to some degree of acceptability to Windows tablets. Windows based tablets accounted for less than 1 million units in 2011, though it is expected to grow to a bit more respectable 7.5 million by end of 2013. In contrast, Apple has sold 14.1 million of its iPad devices in the third quarter of 2013 alone, while the Android tablet segment reached 16.8 million devices in Q3, 2013.
IDC has stated that the entire tablet segment itself is registering slower growth of late and has been forced to revise its estimates for 2013 to 221.2 million, down from the originally estimated 227 million units. The research firm also stated the segment could end up registering just single digit growth rate by 2017, from the present 53.3 percent.
IDC analyst Tom Mainelli attributed the lower demand for tablets to the emergence of big screen smartphone devices.
“In some markets consumers are already making the choice to buy a large smartphone rather than buying a small tablet, and as a result we’ve lowered our long-term forecast,’ said Tom Mainelli. “Meanwhile, in mature markets like the US where tablets have been shipping in large volumes since 2010 and are already well established, we’re less concerned about big phones cannibalising shipments and more worried about market saturation.”
Meanwhile, there have been a slew of tablet launches running Windows 8.1, which includes the Dell Venue 8 Pro, Dell Venue 11 Pro, Lenovo Miix 2, Toshiba Encore, Asus Transformer Book T100, and others. All of these have had positive reviews so far and are expected to fare well in the market, though it remains to be seen if these can unsettle both Apple and Android’s tablet market share by a significant margin just yet.
One of the most potentially useful features of digital publishing was the ability of authors to publish their short stories without the tedious process of anthology selection. In the past, authors who pen short stories had to submit their stories to collections publishers, and those anthologies are typically only published periodically; barring that, the author could try to submit a full collection of his own works, of which few are traditionally published and almost never from a debut author.
Digital publishing and self-publishing threw open the doors to short story publication, and a resurgence in the genre has been enjoyed by readers of short form literature. Companies like Vook, Atavist, and Now & Then Reader have contributed to the renewed interest in the essay or pamphlet publishing of centuries ago, and today, Amazon Publishing announced its effort to bring short stories to the forefront of publishing.
StoryFront, the company’s short story imprint, not only will focus on publishing high quality short fiction, but will also be the source of a weekly digital literary journal that will specifically feature short stories and poetry from new and veteran authors.
“Based on the continued success of short fiction on Kindle as well as the enthusiastic response to Day One—we received thousands of subscriptions in the first week—we know readers are hungry for short stories and excited about exploring new genres,” said Daphne Durham, Publisher of Adult Trade and Children’s Group. “With StoryFront, we’re feeding that enthusiasm by offering a wide range of stories curated by a team of editors who are committed to the craft.”
StoryFront already has quite a number of stories released from several bestselling authors, including works that are closely tied to existing novels but that didn’t require another full-length novel in order to share with readers. The platform is also bringing translations of well-known international short stories to US reading audiences.
Africa has long been referred to as the dark continent, which means there is ample scope for the light to shine; and that is exactly what is happening in that part of the world. Focusing on just one measure of development, internet usage in Africa has hit the fast lane. Even this can be termed an understatement given the astounding 3,606 percent growth rate that internet usage has reached in the continent achieved since the beginning of the new millennium. Of course this has led to a ripple effect as this has spurred the demand for internet based service, with digital publishing being just one of them.
“The proliferation of smartphones across Africa, combined with the inevitable burst into e-commerce, means that we would be foolish to ignore what is about to happen with publishing in Africa,” said Jeremy Weate, associated with Abuja-based Cassava Republic, a Nigeria based e-publishing firm that publishes fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. The obvious reference here has been to the more than 160 million Africans that connect to the internet, with it being smartphones that has emerged as the most preferred device to get online.
“Moving to e-books addresses some of our most significant challenges with print books,” Weate further added.
“In Nigeria, it is a tough ask to find a printer that can offer reliable services, a wide range of paper and guaranteed product quality.
“We don’t have to worry about printing, warehousing, distribution or engaging in fruitless marathons across the continent for payments that will never come,” said Weate.
A higher access to internet is also seen by publishers as a means of drawing the Africans to read more books, a trend that has been lacking sorely among the masses. Such an endeavor is getting further impetus with the efforts of Worldreader, a non profit organization that has been distributing e-readers among school children in the continent with the aim to dram them to read ebooks. Statistics depicting Worldreader’s efforts too are commendable, having delivered more than 70,000 ebooks among 13,000 children in nine countries in the African continent.
Meanwhile, Weate also stressed on promoting reading ebooks via smartphones given the wide reach these have already achieved.
“Many young Africans are already comfortable reading on mobile devices and we think this trend will continue as the price of smartphones gets cheaper,” said Mr Weate.
With this being the trend, it could just be a matter of time before major ebook publishers and device manufacturers such as Amazon, B&N, Kobo and such make a beeline for the African market.
The Sony 13.3 Inch e-Reader (DPT-S1) has been well received by the reading community because of its large and lightweight screen technology. Few e-readers ever produced have garnered such buzz and people are visibly excited about a wide-spread commercial release in May of 2014 in North America. Starting December 8th it will be available in Japan for around $1200 US or 98,000 yen. The sad part is that it will not be available in a retail environment. Instead, it will only be available for business customers via Sony’s own website and obviously through the grey market, such as Rakuten.
Many people were hoping that they could pick one of these readers at the big electronic stores like Edion or Bicamera. Unfortunately Sony is making the call to sell it only to business customers, which for the most part are schools. It is not really a product designed for the casual reading audience because it can only read PDF files. So for example, the Sony Reader Store would not be bundled on it, obviously leading to confusion if a newbie reader got their hands on one.
A few months ago ImCoSys announced a new e-reader and they demoed it off at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The ImcoV6L e-Reader is being billed as the first e-reader with an open version of Android and it will allow users to install the e-reading app of their choice. Instead of being locked into dealing with one bookseller on an e Ink based device, you can install Kindle, Nook, Kobo or an indie app like Aldiko. We have official confirmation today that the e-reader is delayed and will be shipping out in February of March of 2014.
The US government shutdown in October prevented a number of FCC applications from being processed or approved. ImCoSys was unable to procure the necessary certification to sell the e-reader in North America. This is very unfortunate as they will be missing out on the critical holiday season.
The imcoV6L features a six inch e-Ink Pearl HD display screen with a resolution of 1024×758 pixels. It also has a front-lit display, to allow you to read in the dark. Underneath the hood, it is powered by a Rockchip 1 GHZ CPU processor and 256 MB of RAM. There is 4 GB of internal memory and has an SD Card slot to enhance it up to 32 GB. It will retail for around $119.99, which makes it a compelling device.
One of the most interesting aspects of this device is external speakers and 3.5mm headphone jack. This will allow you to listen to audiobooks and music right on the device. Since it is running Android, you will be able to install apps such as Audible, to buy and listen to them right on your e-reader. Another great feature is the physical page turn buttons working in conjunction with the touchscreen. You can turn the pages by gestures or with the click of a button on the left/right hand side.
At a product launch event in New York City Canadian based Kobo announced their intention of launching a digital magazine store. It took a number of months to work out the logistics and build a store interface on their new line of tablets, but it seems to have paid off. Starting today customers will have the ability to buy hundreds of magazines from major publishers and read them on their PC or via the Arc 7, Arc 7 HD or Kobo Arc 10 HD.
The new magazine store from Kobo offers titles from top publishers including American Media, Bauer Publishing Group, Condé Nast, Hearst Corporation, Time Inc., Mansueto, Rogers Publishing Limited, Reader’s Digest, and Wenner Media, with more being added every day.
Instead of relying on the traditional pinch and zoom feature to read magazine articles, Kobo has developed their Guided Reading View. It has a simple tap interface that intelligently moves from one column of text to the next. Guided Reading removes the need for toolbars creating a clear interface free from distractions.