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audio books for kids

Overdrive has quietly unveiled a radical change to their audiobook encryption system and it could have massive ramifications for any library that carries them. They are switching from the bulk and cumbersome WMA format and gravitating towards a simple DRM-Free MP3 Edition of the audiobook.

When you read a book, listen to a audiobook or watch a movie, you are mainly doing it with the official Overdrive app for Android, iOS or a number of other platforms. When the loan period is over, the title will disappear from your library and you won’t be able to listen to it anymore.

Overdrive is switching to MP3 because companies like Hachette, Penguin Group, Random House (Books on Tape and Listening Library), HarperCollins, AudioGo, Blackstone, Tantor Media and dozens of others all produce their audio editions in MP3 format. This makes being able to add the titles to the catalog quickly and then resell them to libraries, without a lull period of manually adding encryption.

In a blog post, Ben from Overdrive wrapped up by saying “We will soon be communicating the discontinuance of WMA sales, and then at a future date, we will announce when MP3 files will be the only supported format through OverDrive platforms. For libraries and schools that currently have WMA audiobook files in their collection, we will be working with the publishers of those titles to gain permissions to update your inventory to MP3. In the event that some titles are unavailable, an alternate solution will be offered to make up for the lost titles. Be on the lookout for announcements on our blog and from your Collection Development Specialist for a timeline of this process.”

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The American Library Association is holding their Mid-Winter conference in Philadelphia this Friday. There are plenty of sessions, speakers and things to do during the five day event, sometimes it can get overwhelming. Today, Good e-Reader brings you the can’t miss events of ALA-MW 2014.

The American Library Association (ALA) will host Google Glass demonstrations on January 25th and 26th in the Grand Hall of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Wilson L. White, public policy manager of Glass at Google, and technical members of the Google Glass Team, will be on hand to talk about the wearable computers while conference attendees try them on! This will give everyone a chance to see what all of the fuss is about, hopefully they will give out invite codes to actually buy them!

Overdrive, 3M, Baker & Taylor are the main companies that help libraries facilitate a digital lending strategy. Even though eBooks have certainly taken off in the last few years, there are still many libraries that are still not participating. One of the few pure digital sessions is the DCWG Directions and the Author-Library Relationship program, and it will take place Saturday, January 25, 2014, from 1-2:30p.m., in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, room 201 C. As part of the program, a leading panel of library and publishing experts will discuss the best ways that libraries can bring together authors and readers in the digital age. Panelists will explore new opportunities for collaboration between libraries and authors.

Want to hear inside information about the National Security Agency leak? Hear the “story behind-the-story” from Spencer Ackerman, national security editor for the Guardian U.S. newspaper at the 2014 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. Ackerman will address library professionals during the Washington Update session on Saturday, January 25, 2014, from 8:30-10:00a.m. in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, room 201 B.

It’s been ten years since the Children’s Internet Protection Act—the law that requires public libraries and K-12 schools to employ internet filtering software in exchange for certain federal funding—was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as constitutional. During the past decade, how have libraries coped with the law’s filtering requirements? What can be done to ensure open and equitable access to information while complying with the law?

Join library leaders at “Revisiting the Children’s Internet Protection Act: 10 Years Later,” an interactive session that will be held during the 2014 American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. Panelists will discuss the difficult issues faced by librarians developing and managing internet use policies. Panelists will wade through legal requirements, ethical arguments, factual issues, and the potential long-term impacts of filtering. The session will take place Sunday, January 26, 2014, from 1:00-2:30 p.m., in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, room 203 A.

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The American Library Association has been going full throttle on eBooks for the last few years. They managed to convince a number of major publishers that having their digital content in libraries is a good value proposition. The organization is hosting a virtual town hall meeting October 23 and it will explore emerging subjects in the eBook lending arena, including digital preservation, self-publisher engagement and libraries as publishers.

National advocacy on library eBook lending is one of ALA’s major policy initiatives and success stories during the past two years. ALA members will have the opportunity to join ALA President Barbara Stripling, Immediate Past President Maureen Sullivan and the leadership of the ALA’s Digital Content Working Group (DCWG) to learn about ALA eBook activities, plans and future directions. Panelists will provide views on the current digital publishing climate and discuss ways that ALA can better advocate for important library interests.

This virtual session is perfect for libraries who have questions on digital eBooks, audiobooks and streaming video services. You can find out more information and signup today HERE.

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eBook discovery is something that every major online bookstore and the entire publishing industry is trying to figure out. How do you make books easier to find online and tailor results to your specific needs? Physical bookstores and libraries are often the places people visit to find out what just came out and discover new authors. Libraries certainly don’t generate many headlines with making digital content easier to finds so how exactly are libraries making digital discovery easier for their patrons and even building brand awareness?

There were two major topics of discussion at the American Library Association Annual conference in Chicago. We wrote about one of them last week, in an article that centered around the concept of libraries becoming retail. The second major trend at the event was addressing ebook discovery and what libraries and technology companies are doing about it.

Overdrive unleashed its Media Station for Libraries, and the concept behind this is to attract the public using a tablet in a display or kiosk, which then aids in discovering what digital content is available. It features an all-in-one PC that can be any brand or model, and it uses Overdrives HTML5 software to allow you to interact with the touchscreen. The Media Station will showcase the audiobooks, ebooks, video, and music that the library offers and can send the content directly to your smartphone or tablet. Currently, Overdrive deals with 22,000 libraries all over the world and many will buy into this new platform. It really aids discovery with the ability to customize your home screen and focus on specific literary genres, notable authors, or develop custom lists for individual customers. This allows libraries to encourage the public to check out their digital content and develop specialized elements that would appeal to their local community.

Many libraries are investing in online technology and database code to aid in ebook discovery. Douglas County Library employs very advanced searching algorithms that will give you specific results or make recommendations based on your reading habits.

Libraries, to me, are focusing on the wrong thing. They are more concerned about extensive programming to serve specialized search results, like Amazon does. Or, they are focused on customizing their apps and developing funky book lists. Some are even investing hundreds of thousands of dollars on their own hybrid ILS and totally original experiences.

The average library now has an operating budget of $10,000 for their digital collection. Building public awareness should be the top priority and often is the most neglected. How do you let the general library population and the greater community at large know that you even offer ebooks? Libraries tend never to run advertising campaigns or do local marketing at any level. This hampers the digital adoption because they have no way of letting the younger demographic know they can get thousands of free ebooks from the library. Why focus on what the existing users are doing when 70% of all your core demographic aren’t even using digital?

Libraries these days are faced with having to generate their own promotional vehicles. A few libraries are placing cards in each book with a link to the ebook or having QR codes spread around the library location. Some are making posters and others are running events in schools and old folks homes. Sadly, most libraries don’t have dedicated marketing division. Of course, the big ones do, like the New York Public Library, but the 99% of the others are faced with the challenge to promote themselves alongside all their other duties as a community figure.

Every single library we talked to at ALA was feeling tremendous pressure to promote their digital collections. Some were seriously looking at Overdrive’s terminals to boost public awareness and others were looking at more guerrilla marketing. In the end, there is no service or resources to help libraries promote their digital collection. There are no collections of free open sourced software, communities, and marketing materials that offer step by step tutorials or have seasonal advice. ALA does its best, but its materials are not current and it really doesn’t have any savvy digital kids generating modern materials.  3M and Overdrive offer very generic stuff, but that ropes you into dealing with them. What if your collection is more academic or focused on small publishers and there are no public resources for you? I don’t think libraries should worry about digital discovery, they should be more concerned about discovering the digital collection.

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Library Consortiums are gaining momentum as a viable way for many smaller locations to make group purchases. One of the problems facing small libraries is that many of the top publishing companies either limit or do not allow their books to be sold via this model. 3M has created a new way for consortiums all over the USA to buy ebooks, from any publisher.

The 3M Private Cloud is a new program that will allow the library responsible for group purchases to buy titles in bulk and then distribute them to all of others. The Personal Cloud functions as a centralized hub to buy Penguin and Hachette titles, something they wouldn’t normally be able to access. Any of the other libraries can instantly have all of their digital books delivered into their ILS systems and available for lending. Obviously, all the libraries involved have to buy into the 3M Cloud Library system.

Today, we talked to Tom Mercer, the head of sales at 3M. One of the new projects we discussed allows libraries to try hundreds of titles for free, for one year. This is basically designed for people on the fence on making digital content available in their library, but aren’t sure about all the costs involved or if the public will embrace it. 3M will allow libraries to access hundreds of free books and see for themselves if this program is for them. If the library does not renew, the books will automatically expire after the first year.

Over the course of our interview, we check out the growth of 3M, how the company handles ebook discovery, and talk about its relationships with major publishers in the trial programs in New York.


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Overdrive and Baker & Taylor are both working on new streaming movie service for libraries. The two companies are working on different solutions to deliver HD movies and eventually television shows to any library that does business with them. The new service should be launched by the end of the year and will be viewable over the web and within their official apps.

Overdrive confirmed with Good e-Reader at the American Library Association 2013 conference that they have struck a deal with Criterion Pictures USA to have have a number of movies in their catalog from studios they represent. Currently, Overdrive is in negotiations with other studios and companies to bring hundreds of movies into their system.

Baker and Taylor also confirmed their movie streaming service is also in development but have not divulged what studios they have signed up or their overall business model.

Axis 360 and Overdrive both have a ton of work ahead of themselves to iron out the logistics of their streaming movie platforms. Both companies have mentioned that they are internally trying to figure out a sustainable business model. Likely, we will see a combination of a monthly subscription package, that is similar to Netflix to deliver movies. There will also be a tiered pricing structure for first and second run movies. Also, they are working out the actual streaming delivery methods and trying to enhance their servers to accommodate the load. You have to figure the bandwidth for delivering eBooks is quite low, but once thousands of people are trying to watch a movie, things can get tricky.

One of the interesting facets of the Overdrive initiative is that they are debating the ‘pay per view’ model. They might offer big events like UFC, WWE and movies that just hit the cinema or on their way out.

Libraries that do business with Overdrive and Baker and Taylor both enjoy audiobooks, eBooks, and other multimedia content. The main reason they are launching the new video service is to cut down on stolen DVD videos and normal wear and tear. Most of the time, in order to check out a DVD, you have to take an empty box to the librarian and they have to manually fetch the video. Smaller libraries can’t really afford an extensive collection and often cannot compete with the larger ones. The streaming video service aims to make movies and educational videos more accessible over the internet and cuts down on actual staff doing the grunt work.

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Maureen Sullivan is the current president of the American Library Association and has been very busy planning out the largest annual gathering of industry professionals. She took a moment out of her busy schedule to discuss the evolutionary growth of ebooks in the library, how the discovery of content is a top priority, what it took to talk Simon & Schuster and Penguin into joining the library lending model, and how libraries are selling ebooks.

This is the last year Maureen is the president of the ALA and she has overseen dramatic changes in the library industry. One of her big accomplishments was getting several of the top six publishers to loan out their ebooks to libraries all over the USA. She mentioned that initially S&S and Penguin were very hostile to the idea of the entire library concept. It took over a year to sway them by meeting with them regularity, and cooler heads eventually prevailed. The large argument at the time was that if ebooks were given away for free at the library, it would cannibalize the physical and digital sales. Once big data proved this wrong with trials at Brooklyn, Queens, and the New York Public library, the concept caught on. Front-list Penguin titles are now available via 3M and Axis 360, and S&S is now walking down the same path. ALA played a pivotal in this and in the video below, Maureen documents exactly what happened.

Libraries are talking about selling ebooks via their websites and allowing patrons to bypass the waiting lists. This has been the hottest issue at ALA this year and we wonder how can libraries offer the ability to buy content and still stay true to their non-profit concept? Maureen thinks that there is a fine line between meeting community needs and satisfying the publishers. Her main argument was that many bookstores are closing, and libraries are playing a big role in book discovery. It only makes sense to sell digital books and use the money to increase the number of titles they can carry.

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Maureen Sullivan is the current president of the American Library Association and has been very busy planning out the largest annual gathering of industry professionals. She took a moment out of her busy schedule to discuss the evolutionary growth of ebooks in the library, how the discovery of content is a top priority, what it took to talk Simon & Schuster and Penguin into joining the library lending model, and how libraries are selling ebooks.

This is the last year Maureen is the president of the ALA and she has overseen dramatic changes in the library industry. One of her big accomplishments was getting several of the top six publishers to loan out their ebooks to libraries all over the USA. She mentioned that initially S&S and Penguin were very hostile to the idea of the entire library concept. It took over a year to sway them by meeting with them regularity, and cooler heads eventually prevailed. The large argument at the time was that if ebooks were given away for free at the library, it would cannibalize the physical and digital sales. Once big data proved this wrong with trials at Brooklyn, Queens, and the New York Public library, the concept caught on. Front-list Penguin titles are now available via 3M and Axis 360, and S&S is now walking down the same path. ALA played a pivotal in this and in the video below, Maureen documents exactly what happened.

Libraries are talking about selling ebooks via their websites and allowing patrons to bypass the waiting lists. This has been the hottest issue at ALA this year and we wonder how can libraries offer the ability to buy content and still stay true to their non-profit concept? Maureen thinks that there is a fine line between meeting community needs and satisfying the publishers. Her main argument was that many bookstores are closing, and libraries are playing a big role in book discovery. It only makes sense to sell digital books and use the money to increase the number of titles they can carry.


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During the recent American Library Association Mid-Winter Conference, we received the news that Overdrive is working on distribution agreements with Kondansha, Shogakukan, and other Japanese Manga publishers. The end result will see thousands of Manga titles available to libraries to integrate into their catalogs.

CEO of Overdrive Steve Potash was in Japan a few weeks ago, meeting with representatives of Nintendo. Both sides were in negotiations about the HTML5 Overdrive Read app that was demoed at ALA-MW. Part of the trip entailed meeting with at least three confirmed Manga publishers to iron out agreements to have thousands of popular titles cross over to the online reading platform.

HTML5 offers the ability to render complex images and Japanese text. The Overdrive Read app will allow customers to read both English and Japanese Manga sometime this year. There is no known date for when the new system will launch, but we were told that sometime this year we can expect to see something.

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The American Library Association Mid-Winter Conference is almost wrapped up, and Good e-Reader was live on the scene. We talked to many of the leading digital publishing companies focused on the modern library, such as 3M, Overdrive, Zinio, Recorded Books, and a few others. This year, many of the leading publishers, such as Scholastic, Harper Collins, Penguin, and Macmillian, were not talking digital at all! Instead they were abiding by the same philosophy on hustling tangible books. With all of the emphasis on digital content in libraries, it is odd that ebooks were severely underrepresented.

All of the major publishers we spoke to at this event were basically local sales people who had no idea on what their companies were doing in the digital space. Many claimed to just be part sales reps whose minds were boggled when we asked them simple questions.

The ALA Mid-Winter Conference was the place to be this weekend with the event trending on Twitter at all hours on Friday and Saturday. Librarians from all over North America were in attendance, talking about the shift to digital and participating in many sessions talking about big data and how libraries can get into ebooks.

If you did not attend this event, you can live vicariously through our own experiences there with the slideshow below!

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In the last few years, the transition to digital ebooks in libraries has been accelerating. Many companies such as 3M, Overdrive, Baker & Taylor, and Recorded Books have all come of age and offer complete solutions for libraries offering electronic books. The American Library Association President, Maureen Sullivan, spoke to Good e-Reader about some of the issues facing libraries in this arena.

Maureen said that during 2012 librarians have become increasingly aware of the benefits of digital content. She said it was essential to stay informed on the different companies that offer solutions. She said its also important to know your audience and geographical location. It is easy for younger librarians to get carried away with wanting to offer ebooks, audio books, and video content to their patrons. Doing your due diligence on what your patrons want is of critical concern. Make no mistake, libraries going the digital route often have to spend close to $10,000 just to get set up, and many small and regional locations don’t have that type of money.

Whether libraries shift to digital or not, Maureen says that “libraries may evolve their design and be more modern, or some may even move into a pure digital experience. We will always have libraries and this is a very transitionary period we are all going though, it is very exciting time to be a librarian.”


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The 3M Cloud Library System has a new terminal for overworked library staff that will allow customers to automatically checkout books in a library. The aptly named SelfCheck System R-Series is a cool system that will scan your library card and let you know the status of your current loans, or any fines you might have. You simply put a bunch of books on the bottom of the terminal and it scans all of them. It lets you know what books you want to borrow and then lists them all on the display screen. Once the entire procedure is complete you get an email sent to your address verifying the details. Libraries will celebrate this unit because it liaisons with the 3M Command Center and it’s RFID enabled.


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Overdrive is hoping to bring younger readers into the library to borrow digital books in innovative new ways. The company, famous for being the largest content distribution platform, showed off its Overdrive Read HTML5 platform today to Good e-Reader at the American Library Association Mid-Winter Conference in Seattle, Washington.

The Nintendo Wii-U is the latest generation console, featuring a tablet you hold in your hands that acts as a controller when you play games. One of the neat elements is that it has a fully featured internet browser that is HTML5 compatible. You can read ebooks on your Wii-U tablet or even sned whatever content that is on your screen to a large screen television.

The HTML5 reading app that Overdrive uses was originally developed by Australian based Book.ish. It had lots of potential, which is the reason overdrive purchased the entire company last year. The platform is now seeing a wider roll-out, and customers can borrow and read books on any HTML5 compliant web-browser.


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Zinio is one of the largest digital magazine companies in the world. They have built their business by offering magazines on mobile devices, like the iPad. Since they were an early launch partner, they remain a fixture in the most popular app categories. They expanded to Android, Windows 8 and have developed a new HTML5 based website to read magazines. Today we caught up with Global EVP/CMO at Zinio Jeanniey Mullen at the American Library Association Mid-Winter Conference.

Zinio has been fervently working on their new Z-Pass subscription model for magazines. You can pick 3 magazines free for 30 days, then pay just $5.00 per month. You aren’t locked into those particular magazines if you want to make a switch every month and just choose three others if you desire. They also offer premium magazines for a small extra fee. This new project has been available on their beta website for the last few months and will do a broader roll-out in the next few months.

Their beta website is a work in progress but they are developing an HTML5 Cloud Reader. This will negate the need to rely on apps to deliver a magazine experience and instead can be read in any web-browser on smartphones, tablets and other things. This aspect of their business is not ready yet for a full launch and needs a bit of work to provide a great user experience.

Zinio has a business has started a new library initiative with Recorded Books in late 2012. Recorded Books is a publisher themselves and has been involved in the library system for almost thirty years. They were the perfect partner for Zinio, because of their clout in the market. Zinio has magazines to sell and most libraries only offer eBooks, Audiobooks and video for their multimedia content. The new partnership has yielded solid results in a short period of time, with over 300 libraries offering digital magazine as of Jan 2013.

Zinio and Recorded Books have developed a turnkey content distribution system, not only for libraries, but schools too. Most of the time these institution develop their own front-end and establish their own user credentials to tap into the system for magazines. Schools and libraries can pick and choose what type of content they want. Some elementary schools for example may not want Cosmo, but may want Popular Science. Users of the system can subscribe to as many magazines they wish and part of the service. Zinio currently offers 5500 through their own platform, but only 900 of these are available to purchase for schools and libraries. This has to do with publishing distribution rights and some companies not wanting to opt into this platform.

There is a large debate circulating around the industry with publishing standards. EPUB3 and HTML5 seem to be the two formats that people are trying to standardize. Zinio is betting on HTML5 as the best solution in 2013 to effectively deliver content to as many devices as they can. Recorded Books says that EPUB3 is mainly geared towards books and not really previlant in the magazine world. Interactive content is the future with National Geographic being one of the flag-bearers. Their digital edition has mainly the same content, but on the Zinio platform you have animations of spaceships and also video. You couldn’t do that sort of thing with EPUB3, so it looks like HTML5 is winning out in the magazine sector.