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Marvel AR is an augmented e-reading app that gives you a multimedia experience based on the comic you are reading. The premise of the app is to be a second screen to the traditional comic book. You get interviews with the artists and writers and even fight scenes. The new Marvel AR update is going to be jam packed with new enhancements.
The last time Marvel AR was updated was July 11 2013, which makes it fairly outdated. At the South by Southwest event in Texas, Marvel has confirmed that a big update will be released in April. “It was just time,” John Cerilli, VP of Content & Programming, said. “After concentrating on the actual content going into the app and pumping it full for nearly two years, we realized the app itself may not be giving users the best experience it can.”
Marvel has promised that the app will load up faster and give you all of the AR features faster then before. “We promise more 3D!” Cerilli said. “One of the finest executions we’ve done to date was seeing Cap fight Wolverine in our AVENGERS VS X-MEN Hardcover. Fans really loved it. We really loved it. So we’ve figured out a way to budget for them and when fans see what we have in store with some of the new 3D executions, they’re going to love it. We’re also really fond of our Marvel Science series and have a great relationship with some world class thinkers, so you’ll see a lot more of that, too
Kobo is beginning to feel the pinch of prospective lower profit margins in Canada. The Canadian Government is forcing them to renegotiate contracts with all of their major publishing partners. Kobo sees this as being “Devastating for the company” and will relegate them to “an ineffective competitor.”
Two weeks ago, the Commissioner of Competition in Canada mandated to Kobo that it had 40 days to re-negotiate contracts with Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, HarperCollins, and Hachette. Immediately the publishers starting mailing letters to Kobo, demanding their existing contracts be augmented or cancelled completely. Complex contract negotiations take time, and Kobo may find themselves being unable to sell thousands of titles to customers in Canada. In contrast each publisher in the United States DOJ settlement took 16 months each.
The US Justice Department has been running a very high profile case with Apple and the top 5 major publishers. All of the publishers settled out of court with specific agreements. Most of the exact proclivities of the publishers settlements were varied and not consistent, none were publicly available. Kobo is contending that the DOJ lacks jurisdiction in Canada and any settlement in the US, is not binding, because no one knows exactly what they were.
Kobo first started implementing agency pricing with publishers in 2011. The essence of agency was to have eBooks sold at a common value. Normally, the publisher sets the price and Kobo gets 30% of each book sale. If the publisher price matches the book against another site, Kobo would still get the same commission, but at a reduced rate. Each publishing contract is negotiated separately, some adhering to the wholesale model and others agencies, or a combination of both.
A new term most people have not heard of before is called “Agency-Lite.” These agreements arose after the settlement agreements and final judgements that transpired in the US. The essence of Agency-Lite is that allows the publishers to set the price, but allows Kobo to diverge from the sale price. One of the conditions entail the discount cannot exceed the total margin that the retailer earns from annual book sales, this is called the “discount pool.”
When Kobo first formed their company, they abided by the wholesale model, which was tremendously unprofitable. They had lost millions in their first few years trying to compete against Amazon, Sony, Apple and Barnes and Noble. Kobo contends that the Wholesale model is not indicative to an online environment of price matching algorithms.
The Canadian government is now forcing Kobo to iron out new contracts with Hachette, Macmillan, Harper Collins and others. If they can’t do it in 40 days the existing ones will be void and Kobo will be forced to remove thousands of books from their bookstore. Without a full catalog of eBooks from all of the Canadian publishers “Kobo would be an ineffective competitor. Customers choose eBooks and e-Readers based on the breadth of their catalogs”. If Kobo lost any of these “they would cease to be a credible player in the market place.” Conversely, if Kobo accepts the amendments and shifts it operations to Agency-Lite, it will suffer unrecoverable losses.
If you live in the USA, you will likely know that you would find it difficult to find a Kobo e-Reader available. This is primarily due to when the USA adopted Agency-Lite, Kobo saw its net revenues decline and stopped investing in that market. It closed down its office in Chicago and decided to focus aggressively on international expansion. In a legal filing Kobo said that the reason Barnes and Noble and Sony’s business collapsed in the US was directly attributed to the abolishment of agency pricing. Now, we might see Kobo abandon the Canadian market, just like they did in the USA.
The only play Kobo has in a legal battle against the Canadian Government is to play the jurisdiction card. The publisher settlements and the abandoning of Agency pricing was purely based in the United States. The Justice Department and the settlements have no legal jurisdiction in Canada. If Kobo fails to make a case and have to absorb profit loses by switching to a hybrid of wholesale and agency-lite it looks likely Kobo will kill their Canadian ebook business. They certainly won’t be able to compete against Amazon and Apple. I mean they could, but it wouldn’t be worth it anymore.
Barnes and Noble wanted to tackle the e-reader and eBook market in a big way. The company has lost over one billion dollars on their digital enterprise and are seeking new ways to stop the blood flow. The company has fired most of their executive team and sacked 190 jobs in the last year. New SEC filing has the Nation’s largest bookstore cutting Nook funding by 74%
Barnes & Noble’s fiscal quarter ended at the end of January, and the filing shows a $61 million loss on $157 million in revenue. It also notes their capital expenditures where a paltry $7.4 million on the Nook. That represents a massive decline in spending over last year, with a 55% drop in the past nine months. This is about the same time that the rumors starting about the accelerated decline of the entire Nook division.
The management shakeup and employee reorganization has been taxing on B&N. So much so, that they have failed to adhere to the terms of the Microsoft investment of 300 million. Barnes and Noble has not meant the content thresholds Microsoft established by opening up Nook stores in over 30 different countries. Because of this, Nook has not been able to attain the total funding until they meet their goals. Rumor has it, they might be able to do it by the end of April 2014.
Canadian based Kobo was one of the first e-reading companies to have an app on the Windows 8 App Store. They actually developed it about a year before the official launch of the OS and beta tested it extensively. A few months ago Kobo pulled the app down from the app store, because of a lackluster UI and uninspiring features. Today, Kobo has reissued the app and its now available to download.
The new Kobo Windows 8 app will allow you to buy eBooks directly through the app. It also allows you to pin books you have purchased directly to your home screen, to allow easy access to your eBooks. Once you start reading a book, your exact page is synced across all of your devices.
“We are excited to give our Readers access to their Kobo eBooks on the Microsoft Windows ecosystem,” said Kobo’s Sameer Hasan. “Just like Kobo, Microsoft understands the importance of providing users with greater mobility and new ways to enjoy their favourite content. The Kobo for Windows app is designed to make Kobo content come alive on Windows devices.”
For the next few weeks to celebrate the apps launch, users can get a free copy of “Robert Ludlum’s The Janson Command” by Paul Garrison. It might be worth it to download it just for the free Book!
Finally, Kobo has announced they are developing a standalone app for Windows Phones. Likely it will be for the most current OS and not be backwards compatible with say Mango. There are no details on functionality or when it will come out, but likely soon.
Amazon has a very bad track record of updating the firmware for older devices. The original Paperwhite was a critical success for the Seattle based company with over half a million of them in circulation. Today, the Kindle Paperwhite 1 just received a massive firmware update that adds GoodReads functionality and a ton more.
Amazon had purchased eBook and social website GoodReads last year. The premise of the service is for people to discover new books and talk to kindred spirits. It is the most well executed site of its kind and something Amazon sorely needed. The Paperwhite 2 did not ship with GoodReads built into it, but pushed an update about a month after it first hit the store shelves. We were told that an update would be incoming shortly, and now we have it.
Another addition to the upgrade is Kindle Freetime, which allows you to setup profiles for your kids and add restrictions on what they can access, and what they can’t. This is tremendously useful for parents whose entire family shares the reader and wants to foster their child’s love of prose.
Here is a full list of all of the new features that went into the last update! You can download it HERE, if its not pushed out to you via WIFI.
Kindle FreeTime - FreeTime lets you create personalized profiles for kids, and give them access to titles from your collection of books. Kids can keep track of their personal reading progress and earn achievement badges. To learn more, go to Kindle FreeTime
Goodreads on Kindle - Connect with the world’s largest community for readers from your Kindle Paperwhite. See what your friends are reading, share notes, and rate the books you read. To learn more, go to Find and Share Books with Goodreads on Kindle.
Cloud Collections - Use Cloud Collections to organize your content in custom categories. See your collections in a Collections view, and customize where your collections show on your device. To learn more, go to Organize Your Content with Cloud Collections.
Page Flip - While reading, you can skim the book page-by-page, scan by chapter, or skip to the end for a sneak peek without losing your place. To learn more, go to Go To Other Locations in a Book
Enhanced Bookmarks, Highlights & Notes - Access and manage all of your bookmarks, highlights, and notes more quickly and easily. To learn more, go to Bookmarks, Highlights & Notes
Smart Lookup - When you look up a word or character, Smart Lookup provides you with dictionary, X-Ray, and Wikipedia information.To learn more, go to Explore Your Book with X-Ray.
Vocabulary Builder - Words looked up in the dictionary are automatically added to Vocabulary Builder. View the definition and usage of the words, and quiz yourself with flashcards. To learn more, go to Expand Your Vocabulary.
The audiobook industry is starting to undergo dramatic shifts in their content delivery methods and major publishing companies are now investing millions of dollars into expensive productions. The entire audiobook industry is currently worth around 1.6 billion dollars and that figure should climb further. Production is being stepped up and companies such as Overdrive and 3M Cloud are sourcing them out to libraries. Today, 3M has announced that they have ironed out a distribution deal with Findaway World for 40,000 titles.
The addition of eAudiobooks to the 3M Cloud Library will be a seamless transition for both readers and librarians, with the existing apps updated and optimized to include discovery, checkout and listening capabilities. As always, patrons only need to register to use the 3M Cloud Library through their local library the first time they sign in. Every eAudio title will be compatible on all devices using 3M Cloud Library applications, users will not have to differentiate which formats work on which devices. Once the eAudiobook is checked out, users can immediately start listening. Also for the user’s benefit, eAudiobooks are automatically bookmarked across the Cloud and available across all devices.
Titles from Findaway World are professionally engineered, enabling the highest-quality listening experience for users. Through Findaway World, 3M will have content from every major publisher in the Audiobook space.
Comixology is the largest digital distributor in the world for digital comics. This often puts them in the media limelight and paints a big target on their back. The company has acknowledged that they have suffered a major data breach today with usernames, passwords and email accounts were accessed by a rogue denizen of the internet.
In a letter sent out to anyone who has ever registered an account with Comixology, the company is encouraging people to change their passwords. Although no credit card or financial data was stolen, it is only a matter of time before all of your data is sold to companies that buy customer information in bulk.
The Comixology servers are currently overwhelmed with password changing requests and it is currently impossible to actually change your user information. This may change in the next few days, but it is unlikely.
Breaching databases and stealing customer data is nothing new. Its been happening more often with companies such as Adobe, that handle the bulk of eBook encryption technology. It looks like hackers are now targeting companies that readers cluster to.
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2 has suffered from a major PDF error since the unit was first unveiled last year. If you loaded in a PDF over 50 MB, you would often have a very slow experience and in some cases the rendering engine would crash. If you loaded in a file over 100 MB you could not even do anything with the e-reader before the whole thing just froze out. This obviously has been tremendously disconcerting for people who rely on the Kindle for any kind of complex document. It seems as though Amazon has solved this issue with a new firmware update for the Paperwhite 2.
We tested a couple of documents that used to always crash our e-reader before the new update, and we are happy to say they have full functionality now. If you have a penuche for academic, gaming, comics, or newspapers in a PDF form, the Kindle Paperwhite 2 is relevant.
The core PDF experience is dramatically enhanced now. The PDF files are tending to load quicker and overall navigation is smoother. Pinching and zooming is fairly robust now and does not stutter like before. In our video we show you some of the cool new enhancements, such as inertia scroll.
The Kindle is not the best six inch PDF reader out there. The Kobo Aura HD and Sony PRS-T3 do a better job in performance and advanced options. The one thing the Kindle has going for it, is that you can make notes, annotations, highlights, look words up in the dictionary or use the new auto translate feature.
Wargaming earned close to 219 million dollars in 2012 with its seminal World of Tanks franchise. The company has since expanded into World of Airplanes and World of Battleships. Customers gravitate towards this multi-player simulation because of its historical accuracy. The company is transcending gaming and launching a new digital magazine for iOS and Android.
The new digital magazine called Lets Battle will focus on the companies various properties and put a special emphasis on the history of military warfare. One of the cool aspects of Wargaming is that when they develop new tanks, they often send a team down to many different countries to actually drive it around and get a feel for the handling. Obviously the entire crew at Wargaming is big into military history and this magazine may have a wider appeal.
“We are always looking for new ways to engage gamers with the content and projects we are creating,” said Alexander Shilyaev, Director of Global Operations for Meta Games and Service Apps at Wargaming. “With the digital magazine, we’ll be able to provide more coverage than ever to our player community, creating and molding our publications to fit the needs of a tech-savvy generation of modern gamers and military enthusiasts worldwide.”
You can download the new Wargaming Magazine from the Good e-Reader App Store for Android.
Pocketbook is developing a new e-reader called the Pocketbook Ultra. This will be the first device the company has released that will include an e Ink Carta display screen. This is the exact same technology that the new Kindle Paperwhite has. In addition, the reader will have a built in camera to allow you to scan books.
The Pocketbook Ultra will have a six inch capacitive display screen with a resolution of 1024×758. It has the Carta screen technology to deliver crisp images and text. It will also have a front light on the screen, similar to the Nook Glowlight. One of the main benefits of this new screen is faster page turns and a full page refresh occurring every chapter, instead of the industry average of every six pages.
The Ultra will be the first e-reader to utilize a built in camera. There will be dedicated OCR software able to save the photos / scans in real and editable text. One of the main benefits would be to scan text, a blackboard, a chart and then save it in PDF for future readings.
Flipboard is currently one of the most popular online news reading apps and the company has been gaining massive traction over the past few years. In order to facilitate further growth the company has bought out one of their competitors, Zite.
Zite was formerly owned by CNN, who had paid $25 million for it back in 2011. CNN Money proclaimed that the buyout figure from Flipboard was to be in the neighbourhood of $60 million.
Flipboard founder Mike McCue said that the partnership with CNN will include all of CNN Digital’s content. We will also see the launch of heavily customized magazines created by a number of CNN personalities — including Fareed Zakaria, Jake Tapper and John King of CNN News. Those magazines are poised to go live later today.
Flipboard is also inking a new premium advertising partnership, “the kind of advertising you see in print magazines,” CNN’s head of digital KC Estenson said. CNN and Flipboard will be jointly selling ads for the CNN content. “We’ve been developing a healthy relationship.”
In the wake of Facebook launching their news reading app “Paper“, Flipboard has been ramping up its effort with publishing partners and advertisers. Flipboard has secured a new deal with Condé Nast to give titles such as Bon Appétit, Details, Glamour, Golf Digest, Vanity Fair and Vogue. Flipboard also has a great relationship with The New York Times, The Telegraph, Forbes, Esquire, Fast Company, Oprah, and Lonely Planet.
CNN is a victim of big media trying to run a news app. They simply could not innovate internally to make Zite a compelling enough service to give its serious rivals a run for their money. Flipboard puts the executioners axe to another competitor and is able to now harvest their original content to integrate it into their own service.
Marvel is endeavoring to focus almost exclusively on digital distribution to maximize revenue. In the past few months the company has pulled their comics from bookstores all over the world. You would be hard-pressed to find anything but the odd graphic novel in your favorite bookstore, such as Barnes and Noble.
Marvel is finding that they are selling more comics online, than they are in the retail environment. Comixology is their main partner in the digital sphere and they have dedicated reading apps on every major platform. They have sold over 125,000,000 comics since 2009, most of them from Marvel.
Selling digitally obviously has its merits. Marvel does not have to worry about printing as many comics anymore and having them shipped back to the supplier if they don’t sell. This is more or less how bookstores handle books, magazines, newspapers and comics. If they don’t sell before they become irrelevant they get cash back from the supplier from the inventory that is unsold. Comic shops on the other hand, are normally stuck with whatever inventory they purchase. If single issues go unsold, they go right into the bargain bins.
Marvel has trained their audience to buy digitally. Whether you have an iPad, Android, Windows or a myriad of others, you can buy comics in the comfort of your own home and get them the second the clock hits midnight on comic book Wednesdays. The process is simplified and digital comics don’t take up as much room as the physical thing.
Bookstores in the US and Canada are still carrying graphic novels by Marvel. This is primarily due to the fact they are being sourced by Hachette, instead of Diamond Comic Distributors. Diamond is still the ones who are selling individual comics and graphic novels to comic shops, but for how long?
What are Marvels plans for the future? The company is trying to be less reliant on Comixology and develop their own digital infrastructure. They have been hiring developers, designers and coders to make their own comic selling app. They hope to incorporate Marvel Unlimited, Marvel AR, Marvel Events and their new comic store into a singular experience. They basically realize that digital is their future and they don’t want to have all of their eggs in one basket with Comixology.
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