On Social Networks
Santa Monica hotel Shutters on the Beach is doing something very interesting. They will buy the books you want to read during your holiday and have them awaiting you in the room upon check in
In order to have one or a bunch of books waiting in your room, simply call the front desk up to 24 hours in advance. A dedicated book buyer will purchase books, magazines and newspapers from the local Barnes and Noble bookstore. The cost of them will be billed in your room and your poolside
Marvel is attending the San Diego Comic Con in a big way and is spearheading many discussion groups, where the top brass is announcing the future. A few months ago Disney announced that all Expanded Universe books are not considered canon and decades worth of content is null and void. This opens up a new world, of new stories to tell and some of its coming in the form of three new digital comics.
The three series announced were Star Wars by Aaron and Cassaday, Star Wars: Darth Vader by Gillen and Salvador Larocca, and Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson. All three series will take place in a timeframe immediately following the end of the original Star Wars movie – A New Hope.
The one story arc I am excited about is the new Darth Vader one. “With the Empire suffering a crushing defeat that resulted in the loss of the Death Star, Vader has a lot to make up for. He needs to restore his reputation as the most feared man in the galaxy, as well as prove to the Emperor that he’s still got what it takes. The title is billed as the story of the epic battle for the galaxy, only this time told from the dark side.”
Marvel intends on making Star Wars and Darth Vader both an ongoing series and Princess Leia is going to be a limited five-issue miniseries. The first issue of all of these new comics will be released in January and February of 2015. Likely they will hit Marvels own official app for iOS and Android first and then be available on Marvel Unlimited six months later.
The English department and student library are undergoing some trying times when it comes to reading classic literature. A very high majority of young scholars find it a chore to have to read or being forced to do it. The libraries are seeing record number of seminal classics such as The Odyssey, Catcher in the Rye or the Great Gatsby not even being checked out once in a school year. This is resulting in some libraries removing classic novels from the shelves and sold off, or offered as donations.
Wisconsin parents and librarians are concerned that classic novels are being removed from schools. This is prompting a ton of complaints against the Department of Education. District workers over the summer are removing thousands of books and school workers at a loss why.
District workers who lack library training and collection management are entering libraries and removing of books that had been rarely checked out or were older than 2000, including classics, often without the knowledge or input of the librarian on staff, because they are on summer holidays.
One of the hardest-hit schools was Mitchell Middle School, according to Gabrielle Sharrock, she lamented “I was not consulted about books being removed and two days after the school was “weeded” I found dozens of boxes full of books slated to be destroyed, numerous shelves bare and most of the non-fiction section nearly cleared out.”
Middle school and high schools often employ a single librarian or a squad of two to maintain the entire collection. In order to keep the library updated district workers are dispatched during the summer months to weed out the books not loaned out at all during a school year, are in reprehensible shape or simply not relevant. Apparently classic novels such as Brave New World is not hip anymore, but Grumpy Catis permanently loaned out.
Do Students Hate the Classics?
District workers removing thousands of books and either donating or destroying them is sobering news. This does raise the interesting point of how current students view remedial reading or spending time in the library.
One student said “the point of English class is not to make you love books but trying to get you to deconstruct the author’s work. However, all throughout high school, I did no deconstructing of my own and instead just regurgitated what sparknotes said. This was partly due to laziness but more so because I didn’t actually understand the subtle points the book was trying to make.”
A recently graduated high school student countered “This is something the modern education curriculum needs to grapple with – information is now insanely pervasive, accessible, and instantaneous. It doesn’t require a dedicated night of research to figure out how to do your taxes by going to a library and digging through books.”
He continued “In terms of social benefit, through, this entire mess calls into question the systemic function of school in the first place – is deconstruction and analytical interpretation of literature a necessary skill in life? Hell no. So here is a question – why are you forcing it on all the nations youths, especially when it actively detracts from a long term healthy engagement with mentally stimulating writings? My own experiences pay privy to that notion since a good 90% of my peers haven’t read a book for leisure ever. Mainly because they were scarred by compulsory curriculum with arcane language and no modern cultural relatability.”
Finally, a current student at a Wisconsin High School said “I was utterly bored with Lord of the Flies and The Great Gatsby just because I didn’t have a choice in reading them”
Students over the years really have not changed. I remember with compulsory reading, 99% of the students hated it and used Sparknotes or Cliff Notes. At the middle or high school age students don’t like to be forced to read books and do essays on them. This is partly because of the books being unrelatable by modern conventions. It is no small wonder the books that go unread are the ones being tossed in the rubbish bin. I just hope that the future of humanity is not culturally devoid and speak exclusively in Emoji.
NASA is the US government agency responsible for space exploration and designing new technologies to achieve it. They have seen better days, since they have abandoned space shuttle launches and instead rely on the ISS in Russia to provide access to the International Space Station. Due to the complicated political landscape with Russia, Space X is hoping to leverage their reusable rockets and take over manned missions. The one thing NASA is not known for is digital publishing, and the agency is quietly building an eBook empire.
NASA eBooks has been an ongoing project that started in the last decade. They have two different repositories, one that is mainly available in PDF and has hundreds of titles and a more optimized library that is more heavily promoted.
NASA eBooks is a new initiative that only has 16 titles, but most of them are fairly accessible and deal with broad subject matter. They are all 100% free and are available in EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats. This basically allows them to be read on any e-reader, tablet or smartphone.
The new eBook system NASA employs deals with titles printed from 2009-2014, which half of the list being very current. You can learn about the new F-18 research or the evolution of the Russian Space Agency. My favorite, which was released recently is Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication and edited by SETI Director of Interstellar Message Composition Douglas Vakoch, the document draws on “issues at the core of contemporary archaeology and anthropology” to prepare us “for contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, should that day ever come.”
NASA does not sell or distribute their eBooks on any other platform, such as Amazon or Kobo. Instead, you have to download it directly from their website in the format of your choice. This is a great resource for people looking to pursue an aeronautics career or solid resources for teachers. For everyone else, there are few really cool titles on how the Hubble Telescope got built or how NASA is testing drones.
If you live in Canada and watch television, undoubtedly you might have seen the Next Issue advertisements. The premise of their campaign is trying to convince you that physical magazines take up a lot of room. It makes it unsuitable for reading at home, or on the go. So the question is, is Next Issue viable for Canadians wanting to read digitally?
Next Issue has over 100 digital magazines in their catalog and offers a free one month subscription. Afterwards, it costs $9.99 a month to read as much as you want. Well, there is a catch, you don’t get People, Hello! Canada, The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, Maclean’s, or Time unless you pong up $14.99 a month.
If you like content, Next Issue has you covered. They have established relationships with most of the leading publishers. This includes Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, Rogers and Time. For your average reader, they have most of the mainstream magazines, such as Wired, Popular Mechanics, Bloomberg, Entertainment Weekly, Fast Company, Macleans, People, and Vogue.
Canadians do have access to a fair amount of content, but Next Issue is heavily skewed towards the very mainstream. There are no magazines from major publishers in England, such as Imagine. Basically, there is hardly any international representation in the overall catalog. Instead, you mainly have stuff printed and published in Canada and the US only. I am a big fan of Games TM, Vice, T3 and other tech magazines, sadly there is none of these.
If you are using the Next Issue app for Android or iOS you normally pick and choose what issues you want to subscribe to, and they download to your device. Each one is around 100MB in size, and this warrants monitoring of space limits. Most people have the 16GB iPad or iPhone, and a few months of storing magazines could really take up a ton of space.
There are some very noticeable drawbacks when using their app. New issues don’t download automatically unless the app is open. If you have many downloading at once, they take a long time to complete.
When it comes to reading digital magazines in Canada, we are somewhat limited to who offers them and what type of deals they offer. Amazon, Apple and Kobo all sell individual magazines directly and have way more content than Next Issue. There are also companies like Magster, PressReader and Zinio that all offer subscription plans. These three companies all have larger catalogs than Next Issue. Zinio allows you subscribe to 3 magazines a month, with their ZPass program, while PressReader allows you to subscribe to them all, and puts a heavily emphasis on international magazines from over 80 countries.
Most Canadians just want to read the popular and mainstream magazines and Next Issue may make sense. The price is low enough, that you can read as many as you want, without having to pay for them individually. If you like to read magazines in other languages and from other countries, avoid it.
Golf World is the oldest American magazine and first started publication in 1947. Conde Nast has made the call to suspend the print edition, due to declining sales and focus on digital distribution.
The changes were announced Wednesday as part of its “new strategic vision” for Golf World. By going exclusively digital, the magazine will start pumping out 50 issues a year, up from 31 issues of the print version.
Jerry Tarde, the chairman of Golf World said “It’s a response to the times and people’s reading habits, and the changing nature of the 24-hour news cycle,” Tarde said. “The notion of a print magazine that lands a week after the action … the perspective is really good, but it’s much better if it can be delivered immediately. That’s what our readers’ expectations are.”
According to Adage, Golf World averaged paid and verified circulation of 213,387 during the last six months of 2013, according to its filing with the Alliance for Audited Media, down slightly from nearly 215,000 a year earlier. Print ad pages were off 28.5% through its July 21 edition, according to Media Industry Newsletter.
Apparently they will not be releasing a digital magazine, per say. Instead, everything will be o instantly viewable from GolfDigest.com with daily updates on the latest golf news and tour coverage.
Apple is looking to beat Amazon at the eBook discovery game with the acquisition of BookLamp. The Idaho based startup has focused their company primarily on analytics services that is specialized on big data.
BookLamp’s claim to fame was the Book Genome project, a book discovery engine that analyzed the text of books to break them down by various themes and variables to let readers search for books similar to books they liked.
BookLamp also provided content analysis services to a number of e-book distributors like Amazon, Apple, and other publishers, screening books for categorization and providing a platform for publishers to screen manuscripts.
The one thing that BookLamp did really well was look at a specific title and extrapolate the underlying metadata. As you can see from the Stephen King example above, it categorizes all of the main themes of the book, to help with indexing and organization in the bookstore.
Apple has not formally announced the amount of cash it has ponied for the company, but the rumor was between $10 and $20 million dollars. BookLamp was actually in negotiation with Amazon prior to the sale to Apple, but the talks fell through.
What will Apple do with BookLamp?
Aside from the clientbase that BookLamp already has, there are a number of things Apple could do with the technology. The first would be to develop a competitor to Amazon X-Ray, which would give you the people, places and things in a book, but also major themes. It would also assist in vetting out titles that would not be appropriate for kids or young teens.
Apple iBooks currently does not really focus on recommendations or personalization. They mainly have a series of top lists, editors choice, or recommended titles from Apple curators. Some of this data is changed based on geography, for example in Canada you would see a number of French language titles.
BookLamp technology would allow Apple to give more personalization based on past purchases. This is similar to the type of data Amazon employs and it often leads to more sales, especially if the data could be displayed on the iPad/iPhone, but also via Email.
Today we look at the top 10 new Android apps of the week that are all available to download for free on the Good e-Reader App Store.
Madefire Motion Books & Comics – Madefire Motion Books & Comics is a free app that delivers the most innovative reading experience on devices with Motion Books and traditional print comics as it pioneers the next chapter in storytelling. In its purest form – the Madefire app is a free comic book reader with direct in-app purchasing and where traditional print comics coexist with a new digital format to take visual storytelling to the next level.
Barbie Fashion Design Maker – Barbie Fashion Design Maker allows you to be a real fashion designer. Choose from different photo realistic fabric swatches and patterns to create real outfits that you can put on Barbie. Use your own photographs as design elements for your fashions. Level up your designer ranking by completing challenges and winning awards!
BitLit – BitLit allows you to get an eBook of a print book you already own. As long as you own the book, you can use BitLit to download the eBook for FREE or highly discounted.
Bamboo Paper – Turn your Android tablet into a paper notebook. Bamboo Paper helps you capture your thoughts and ideas. Taking notes, sketching and drawing is as straightforward and as simple as using a real pen and paper.
French’s World - Grab your croissant and get your moustache ready for this new adventure throughout 52 entertaining levels. French’s World is a classic platform game that combines old school game play with modern playability. Run around 3 different worlds and several kind of scenarios and gather as many coins as you can. Avoid enemies and try to complete every level in time.
ChoreMonster – ChoreMonster makes chores fun by engaging and rewarding your kids! Kids earn points by completing chores to use towards rewards like an hour of video games or a camping trip. Parents get an easy-to-use tool that takes the tension out of household chores. Kids also earn tickets to the Monster Carnival for each chore completed, where they can win and collect our monsters. With ChoreMonster, your kids will beg to do their chores!
Sprout Now – Sprout Now is your mobile destination for full episodes of your favorite Sprout shows. Log in with your television provider account and open up a whole new way to enjoy Sprout – anywhere you are.
Microsoft account – Sometimes, Microsoft needs to verify your identity to help make sure that you – and only you – have access to your account. The Microsoft account app makes this easy, and you no longer need to enter security codes from text messages or authenticator apps! Instead, you’ll get a notification when you need to verify your identity. Just tap to approve, and you’re done!
Amazon Wallet - Use the Amazon Wallet app to simplify your shopping trips, and never lose another gift card or rewards membership number. Scan or type your gift cards, loyalty cards and membership cards to your Amazon Wallet to reduce the clutter in your leather wallet or purse. Wherever you are, the information you need is easily available as a barcode, QR code, text or image. For supported merchants, check the balance of your stored gift cards. Information saved in your Amazon Wallet is stored securely in the Amazon cloud. In addition, your Amazon Wallet cards can be viewed and edited at Amazon.com/wallet, where you will also find the credit cards, bank accounts, and other payment methods saved in your Amazon account.
HTC Sense Input - HTC Sense Input speeds up your typing and reduces accidental errors. It learns from your input and selections and offers you more precise word candidates. HTC Sense Input also supports the “trace” feature so you can type more efficiently with one hand.
Libraries in the United States have been steadily embracing digital books for the past few years. A new report has decreed that 90% of all libraries now loan out eBooks, up from 76% in 2012.
The American Library Association is the definitive body in convincing libraries to embrace digital. They frequently hold annual meetings in different States and hold sessions where key executives and librarians talk about digital.
In the past few years ALA has been petitioning major publishers to bring them onboard with the concept that loaning the eBooks out for free, does not devalue the work. Penguin-Random House, S&S, Hachette, and HarperCollins have all committed themselves to making libraries work for them, although each company has their terms and conditions.
Some publishers have 26 limit checkouts before having to purchase the book again, while others allow libraries one years worth of loans. S&S mandates that libraries need to implement a Buy IT Now button and sell the eBooks, in order to even do business with them, while Penguin offers it as an option. Despite some of the shortcomings and each publisher having their own terms, the industry is hoping for a more unified strategy in the coming years.
Digital adoption by libraries has never been higher in the history of humankind. It is ridiculously simply to borrow an audiobook, eBook or watch a streaming video. Next year, I would not be surprised if this 90% figure were to climb further.
Nearly 100 percent of America’s public libraries offer workforce development training programs, online job resources, and technology skills training, according to a new study from the American Library Association (ALA). Combined with maker spaces, coding classes, and programs dedicated to entrepreneurship and small business development, libraries are equipping U.S. communities with the resources and skills needed to succeed in today’s – and tomorrow’s – global marketplace.
President Obama and Congress recently acknowledged the vital contributions of libraries by enabling them—for the first time—to be considered One-Stop partners and eligible for federal funding to support job training and job search programs. The bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act also authorizes adult education and literacy activities provided by public libraries as an allowable statewide employment and training activity.
“Senator Jack Reed and I led the effort to include public libraries in this important new law because they are often the first places Americans go for skill development and job search assistance,” said Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ). “I’ve seen this firsthand with NJWorks@yourlibraryproject, which used federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funding to help get job seekers back to work with access to online job resources and training in every community in New Jersey.”
Overall, libraries report technology improvements—including nearly ubiquitous public wi-fi, growing mobile resources and a leap in e-book access—but the ALA’s 2014 Digital Inclusion Survey also documents digital differences among states and an urban/rural divide.
“Until the Digital Inclusion Survey, no national study has shown in such detail the extent to which libraries complete education, jumpstart employment and entrepreneurship, and foster individual empowerment and engagement, or the E’s of Libraries™,” said ALA President Courtney Young. “The study also begins to map new programs and technology resources that range from STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) maker programming to 3D printing to hackathons.”
Among the study findings:
*98% of libraries provide free public access to Wi-Fi, up from 89% in 2012;
*98% provide technology training, ranging from internet safety and privacy to coding to using social media;
*98% provide assistance completing online government forms;
*97% provide online homework help;
*95% offer workforce development training programs;
*90% offer e-books, up from 76% in 2012;
*56% offer health and wellness programs regarding developing healthy lifestyles;
*50% offer entrepreneurship and small business development programs; and
*Average number of computers provided by libraries is now 20, up from 16 in 2012
“Changes in technology—whether internet speeds, or new devices or new applications—are racing faster all the time,” said IMLS Director Susan Hildreth. “Libraries are ideally positioned to help everyone in our communities get up to speed. This is the heart of digital inclusion—equitable access to internet-connected devices and online content plus the skills to take advantage of the educational, economic and social opportunities available through these technologies.”
Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and managed by the ALA Office for Research & Statistics and the Information Policy and Access Center at the University of Maryland, the Digital Inclusion Study provides national- and state-level data. The International City/County Management Association and ALA Office for Information Technology Policy are partners in the research effort.
While most libraries marked progress from the last national library technology study in 2012, advances are uneven. Less than half of rural libraries reported they increased bandwidth speeds in the last 24 months, compared with 64 percent of urban libraries and 56 percent of suburban libraries. Fewer than two-thirds of rural libraries report having access to information technology (IT) staff, far behind their counterparts. A vast majority of all libraries (66 percent), though, agree they would like to increase their broadband capacity, and that cost is the leading barrier to doing so.
“It is increasingly understood that access to broadband is the critical success factor across our society, and we must do more to connect all of our communities,” said ICMA Executive Director Robert J. O’Neill, Jr. “Libraries play an essential role in helping local governments meet their greatest challenges by connecting their services to critical community priorities.”
The study provides a first national look at emerging trends, from STEM maker spaces (17 percent, or about 3,000 libraries), to wireless printing (33 percent) to 3D printers and hosting hackathons or other coding/application development events (about 2 percent each, or roughly 260 libraries). Creation and making activities already are transforming what is possible for communities through libraries. At the Johnson County Library in Kansas, for instance, a library patron printed a mechanical hand for a family friend. High school student Mason Wilde loaded needed blueprints onto library computers and used the library’s 3D printer to create the necessary parts. Wilde then decided to start a nonprofit to make 3D prosthetics for other children, and he is now considering a career in the biomedical field.
“Creating is becoming a new digital competency, and libraries are building and expanding their programs and services to meet these changing community needs,” said Ann Joslin, President of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies. Joslin also is the state librarian in Idaho, which currently has a pilot program underway to support library maker activities and encourage the use of new technologies and tools.
“Whether it’s a class on internet safety, an entrepreneur who identifies potential customers from databases or a class on digital content creation, libraries continue to establish themselves as digital leaders in communities,” Young concluded. “This study demonstrates how technology investments benefit our libraries and our patrons, and keep our communities thriving.”
When it comes to digital comic books, often publishers and distributors rely on dedicated apps. Marvel, IDW, DC, Dark Horse all run their own ecosystems that allow readers to purchase and view comics on their tablet or smartphone. This often relegates your Kindle, Kobo, Nook or Sony unviable. Though, this might all change due to Comixology finally going DRM-Free and allowing users to backup their purchases.
Comixology has announced that they are teaming up with publishers Top Shelf, Image, Dynamite, Thrillbent, and Zenescope for a DRM-Free initiative. They are also allowing aspiring creators who publish their comics through the Comixology Submit program the option to offer their digital editions DRM-free. The downloaded files will be available in PDF and CBZ formats, which are ideal for most e-readers on the market.
Your average e-reader is capable of reading PDF files, and most have newfound support for the format. Your Kindle, Cybook, Sony or Kobo has really grown up in the last few years with robust pinching and zooming and new e-paper technology to cut down on screen refreshing.
Most e-readers do not have native support for CBZ files, but new models that have come out in 2014 do. Onyx and Icarus have both released Vanilla e-ink readers that run Android, and allows users to install their favorite comic reading app. Sadly, your Kindle or Nook does not have native support for CBZ.
In order to read CBZ files on your favorite e-reader you need to rename the CBZ file to ZIP and you can extract a folder full of ordinary images. This allows any reader in the world to view them.
Comixology going DRM-Free is one of the best things to happen to the e-reader industry this year. It finally gives owners a viable alternative to having to use a small screen phone or a bulky tablet. Instead, you can store hundreds of issues on your Kindle and read them at your leisure.
James Joyce’s Ulysses is one of the most important books to be written by a biped. It is on many peoples reading list, but seldom completed. The novel is fairly daunting and this is prompting Dublin filmmaker Eoghan Kidney to develop a 3D immersive experience using Oculus Rift.
The filmmaker is looking to raise $5,000 to turn the chapter Proteus into a visual Cliff’s Notes. In this installment Dedalus wanders across a desolate beach, closes his eyes, and ponders the shifting nature of reality and the disconnect between his inner self and the external world.
The intention behind this project is to make the book more accessible, even if the crowdfunding initiative is for a single chapter. The filmmaker has disclosed that if this is successful, he will make a playable, immersive world of the entire novel.
Blackberry has been focused on developing software and expanding the reach of their seminal messaging client. In recent weeks they released a BETA app for Windows phones and they might be soon releasing a new client for Tizen based smartwatches.
Tizen is a new OS that was developed by Intel and a series of mobile phone operators. Samsung has been the only company to employ it in a commercially viable product, with their Galaxy Gear 2.
BBM was seen recently on the new Samsung branded watch, which is leading industry experts to interpret that Blackbery may be developing their client for the wearables market, a segment that is growing.
Fifty Shades of Grey has crossed an important milestone recently, when it recorded its 100 millionth book sale back in February. Random House originally picked up the book and published it in 2011 to massive popularity. 50 Shades made so much money that the publisher gave everyone a Christmas bonus of $5,000 bonus because of the book’s stellar success. Are we going to see a resonance in demand for the book?
Hold on to your handcuffs and blindfolds, 50 Shades of Grey has just released the first official trailer for the movie that comes out in February 2015. Likely men all over the world will be dragged out to the film or girls may populate it in droves as a night out.
The clip features the moment Mr Grey, played by Jamie Dornan, meets Anastasia Steele, portrayed by Dakota Johnson. The book has been accused of being amateurish full of cliches, but the trailer is anything but. It even has a reworked version of Crazy in Love, by Beyonce.
50 Shades of Grey was originally supposed to be out at the end of the month, but it was going to compete against The Guardians of the Galaxy by Marvel. Instead, this gives the bookselling industry enough time to launch a massive new campaign to promote the trilogy of books. Likely, you will see EL James do key book signings and expect many new titles “if you liked 50 Shades, buy this book.”
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