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Libraries in all over the world are undergoing a digital renaissance as major publishers have firmly committed themselves to the concept of making e-Books available. Today, we look at some of the biggest trends facing libraries in Canada, US and United Kingdom.

A recent report by the Library Journal has stated that 95% of all US libraries have an e-book collection. That’s up from 89% in both 2013 and 2012, when researchers thought that adoption had plateaued for good. The average number of e-books carried was 20,244 by each library, but that of course was skewed toward large libraries. Medium sized libraries statistically had around 10,434 titles.

Over 10 different libraries in the US and Canada had over one million digital loans in 2014, with two libraries lending out two million e-Books. This number will likely double in 2015, as companies like 3M Cloud Library and Baker and Taylor begin to gain further traction.

e-Books are doing quite well in the US, but over in the UK a sustainable model is still trying to be established by the government, libraries and major publishers.   In May 2013 the UK government funded a review looking into the viability of allowing customers to borrow eBook, without all of the drama. The Sieghart Review said publishers should not limit the supply of e-books in the same way that physical book loans are controlled, including the lending of each digital copy to one reader at a time, securely removing eBooks after lending and having digital books “deteriorate after a number of loans”.

A pilot project was initiated in four UK libraries in March 2014 that augmented the digital loaning period for up to 21 days and included a number of front-list titles, including bestsellers that just came out. The essence of the pilot is to carry out real-time, real-world research into the impact of eBook lending in public libraries on authors, publishers and on the library service so that a suitable and sustainable model.

Its been around six months since the pilot was first initiated and there has been some interesting findings. All four participating authorities have seen a significant increase in e-lending,  with longer loan periods leading to more titles being borrowed. The project has also found the increase in e-lending is not decreasing physical lending or footfall to libraries. They also found customers were not using the “Buy it Now” button to purchase an e-book.

Audiobooks to be the next big thing


In 2007 a paltry 3,073 audiobook titles were produced and this figure rose exponentially to over 12,000 published in 2011. In 2013 many industry experts proclaimed that over 20,000 audiobooks were now available and in 2014 over 35,000 were released by major publishers and companies like Audible.

The global audiobook industry is currently worth 2.6 billion dollars and part of the reason why we have seen a dramatic increase in profitability is due to digital. In a recent  New York Times piece, they said “In the first eight months of 2014, sales were up 28% over the same period last year, far outstripping the growth of e-books, which rose 6%”

Digital audiobooks are finally starting to find their stride thanks to libraries embracing them in a big way. There are a number of major players providing audio services to libraries, 3M Cloud Library, Baker & Taylor, Hoopla and Overdrive. For the most part, these are the exact same companies that provide the libraries e-Book portfolio.

Many of the top audiobook distributors lean on 3rd parties for a full catalog of content. 3M and Baker and Taylor both get their audio editions from Findaway World, which is current market leader in production. Findaway has a catalog of over 50,000 titles and maintains production studios, narrators and crew in New York. Overdrive has their own internal solution, where they approach publishers directly and don’t do business with companies such as Audible or Findaway World.

Tom Mercer, Marketing Manager of 3M Cloud Library said “we see a tremendous opportunity to grow in the Audio space in 2015. Right now we’re two weeks into the “real world” of Audio, but customers really seem to like our solution. Our initial Beta feedback from very positive.”

Hoopla is an audiobook solution for libraries that floats under the radar, but are quickly making a name for themselves. The company has a catalog of 13,000 titles with 1,000 added each month. Hoopla deals with over 100 libraries in the US and charges no licensing fees with setting up the system, which is quite appealing to the average library. How does Hoopla make money? The company has employed the Pay Per Use model, which only charges the library when a specific title is checked out by a patron. The San Francisco Public Library said they are are predicting that in 2015 more companies will embrace the Hoopla model, which will lower costs for libraries and get more content in-front of the patrons.

How well are the publishers doing in the audiobook sector? Cheryl Herman, marketing director for Penguin Random House’s Books on Tape & Listening Library said. “Our library sales for digital audio are up nearly 35% over 2014, we’re offering more and more titles on audio, and we’re not alone in that. There are also more players entering the market, and more titles overall being published than ever before.”

In 2015 digital audiobooks will gain further traction in libraries due to tapes and CD’s no longer being economically viable. Overdrive, the current leader in audiobook sales for libraries are developing a HTML5 based streaming solution that will allow patrons to listen to audiobooks without the need of the Overdrive Media Console.  This will be tremendously beneficial to users who employ alternative operating systems on their mobile devices, such as Firefox OS, Blackberry or Tizen.

Digital Newspapers and Magazines to gain more traction


Thousands of libraries are starting to embrace digital newspapers and magazine content. They are doing this because not only are the latest issues available but also back issues.

One of the ways this type of content is really shining is attributed to libraries installing tablets and e-readers in their different branches.  One example of this is the San Francisco Public Library system unveiling their new e-news center at their main branch and has since expanded it to Chinatown and North Beach. The premise is to draw attention to the virtues of reading digital magazines and newspapers on a bunch of Apple iPads. The actual content is provided by Vancouver based PressReader, who is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the library sector.

Pressreader might very well be the largest company involved in distributing newspaper and magazine titles to libraries, but the limited competition is prompting new entrants to enter the market. EBSCO Information Services introduced Flipster in October. It  allows library patrons to browse the latest issues of high quality digital versions of popular magazines on iOS.

Senior Vice President for Product Management, Michael Laddin says that Flipster is a new way for EBSCO customers to provide content to their end users. “By providing a high quality digital reading experience for library patrons, whether they are at the library or accessing the digital magazines remotely, Flipster offers a unique approach for experiencing content in popular magazines as well as extending library services in an exciting new way. It has been designed especially for library patrons who want to browse the latest issues of popular magazines. Flipster complements EBSCO’s full-text databases (e.g., MasterFILE, MAS, Business Source, etc.) which enable patrons to research topics of interest to them.”

Not only are libraries leaning on 3rd parties to provide their digital newspapers and magazines, but some are actually digitizing it themselves. The Brooklyn Public Library system recently announced a new initiative to digitize backlist newspaper archives in order to make them available to the public via their online portal. This initiative, which will make all copies of the original Brooklyn newspaper,The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, available digitally. The original content was stored on microfilm from the Library of Congress.

I scan Google News for library news every single day and I have noticed a huge uptick in libraries announcing new partnerships for digital magazines and newspapers. Every week between 5 and 25 locations are buying into this concept and there is obvious value to their patrons. By going digital, they last forever and unlike e-Books there is not a one book, one lend policy. Magazines can be loaned out in abundance, which makes them a stellar value proposition. Likely in 2015, we will start to see even more companies entering this space to compete against PressReader and Zinio.

Here and There


The Queens Library system in New York has developed their own proprietary app for Android and iOS. It offers library patrons seamless search and access to audiobooks from Acoustik, magazines from Zinio, and eBooks from OverDrive and Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 platform. Other features include location, mapping, and contact information for each branch, a catalog search, an ISBN barcode scanning function that enables users to scan books in retail environments to see if titles are available at their library, an events schedule that enables registration, an “ask a librarian” live chat service, a contact information form, and even a text-to-donate option.

Since the apps launch in July they had 5,400 installations on iOS and more than 3,300 on Android. This has prompted Queens to start marketing the app creation service to smaller branches with little to no IT investment. One app to rule them all, this will be big in 2015.

One of the big trends in 2014 was new libraries forgoing books altogether and embracing digital 100%. The first library to do this was the Bibliotech in Austin and Omaha announced plans to construct one in 2015.

In 2015 more libraries will begin to offer their e-Book collections to residents living outside that particular county or city. Charging non-residents $50 to $75 a year will help offset that libraries digital investment and provide an alternative revenue stream to invest in better catalog.

In early 2014 Overdrive and Smashwords signed a new agreement to get 200,000 indie titles available to the library. Right now on the backend collection managers are finding it hard to select and purchase quality content. Look for this to change in 2015, I heard its going to be more refined. I have also heard rumors that other self-publishing companies such as LULU and maybe even Kindle Direct Publishing to get involved in this space.


e-Reader technology has come a long way since the first Kindle hit the market in 2007. Not only have the prices come down from over $300 for your standard six inch device, but e-paper has been polished and more refined. Companies such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo invest copious amounts of money in research and development to give customers the best reading experience possible. But, what would constitute the ultimate e-reader?

Good e-Reader has been reviewing dedicated e-ink devices since 2008 and we have really seen the industry grow. The devices in 2014 all offer faster page turns and really high resolution to make reading much more intuitive. We have looked at hundreds of different devices that come out over the years and we really have a sense on what customers want in an e-reader and what features everyone yearns for. Today, we look at the e-paper technology, hardware and features that would capture the imagination of millions of digital readers.

The Ultimate e-reader

Six inches – The most common screen size of e-readers today is six inches, because its more pocket friendly and many shells bought from China price has come down dramatically. Larger e-readers are possible, but the reason they are so expensive is because all of the internals cost more due to the lack of mass production.

1430 x 1080 resolution – This is currently the benchmark established by the Kindle Voyage for the highest resolution in the world. Most e-readers on the market have 1024 X 758 which look quite a bit dated by 2014-2015 standards. The future of e-readers is super high resolution and at least 300 PPI.

e-Ink Mobius  –  Mobius uses a TFT technology that will enable the development of much lighter and rugged products. Mobius displays can weigh less than 50% of an equivalent glass based TFT. This is particularly important for mobile products requiring larger display areas, such as the Sony Digital Paper and Pocketbook CAD Flex.

Capacitive Touchscreen – Many e-readers still employ Neonode IR touchscreen technology which provides a diminished experience for people used to interacting with their smartphones and tablets. The ultimate e-reader would have the same type of capacitive touch with the screen flush with the bezel. Notable e-readers that have this are the Kobo Aura and Tolinio Vision 2.

Front-Lit Display (Glowlight) – Smartphones and tablets use LCD screen technology that have the light emitting from behind the screen into your eyes. A new study from the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shows that a two-hour exposure to electronic devices with self-luminous “backlit” displays causes melatonin suppression, which might lead to delayed bedtimes, especially in teens. Front-Lit displays have 4-6 LED lights that project light evenly across the screen, not into your eyes. The 3rd generation lighting system has been very polished and refined.

Flexible rubber housing – Only the Pocketbook CAD and Wexler Flex One have flexible rubber housing and it allows it to be more durable for transportation and daily use.

Hybrid Magnesium Alloy – The Kindle Voyage has this new technology on the back , it prevents finger oil from staining it.

1.2 GHZ Duel Core processor – In  order for a more optimized experience when opening books, accessing menu features and running apps, a dual core processor is a must.

1 GB of RAM – Many of the most popular e-readers out there only have 128 or 512 MB of RAM. Having additional RAM would step up the performance and allow for larger buffering system for multitasking.

SD card – Many e-readers these days forgo the SD card in order to promote their own cloud services. SD Cards are really important because you don’t need to rely on WIFI to download content.

Audio – e-Reader companies these days have all abandoned audio in order to provide the lowest cost device possible. The ultimate e-reader would have stereo speakers, preferably Dolby Audio and a 3.55 mm headphone jack. This would allow users to listen to music and audiobooks.

Microphone – This would allow people to interact with the e-reader and give voice command prompts. It would also allow people to use the audio chat feature found in apps like Skype or Whatsapp Messenger.

Ivonna Text to Speech – One of the big reasons why schools have not embraced e-readers in a big way is because of the lack of accessibility for people who are visually disabled. The Ivonna system would allow every single aspect of the interface to have audio. Disabled people would be able to say “Open Audio Player” and “Play Audiobook X”. If they don’t have any audiobooks they could simply buy e-Books via audio command prompts and then have the books read to them.

Camera that takes pictures in e-ink – The Pocketbook Ultra is the only e-reader in the world with a built in camera. It has built in OCR software to be able to scan books or just snap selfies. Sadly, when you take pictures and export them to your computer, they are not in high resolution greyscale e-ink, but full color. The ultimate e-reader would take pictures and export them in black and white.

Duel Band WIFI – Wireless internet access has never really changed in e-reader technology and smartphones/tablets have all embraced duel band WIFI. This allows for content to be downloaded faster, such as larger dictionaries or apps.

3G/4G Micro SIM – Amazon is the only company left that still provides data access, so customers can buy eBooks while outside a WIFI zone. Having the ability to buy your own low-cost data plan through your local provider would not limit you anymore and you can buy content on vacation, at the cabin or beach. It would certainly allow for more impulse buys and offload the cost of the data to the customer.

Extensive Dictionary Support – Many e-readers ship with a single dictionary, depending on the region you live in. The ultimate e-reader would have all of the major European and Asian languages available to download.

Expanded Font Support – Many e-readers only ship with six different font types and 12 variations of size. I think its important to have a lower selection of fonts, to not confuse your average user but borrow a page out of Kobos playbook by allowing users to load in their own fonts they buy or download online. Reading a newspaper is far more effective in Times New Roman, than generic font #8.

Android OS – The biggest trend of 2014 has been the shift from Linux based operating systems for e-readers to Android. Icarus, Onyx and Pocketbook have been the only companies laughing modern  devices with a vanilla version  of Android. This is very important, as it doesn’t lock users down into any one specific ecosystem, but instead gives them freedom.

Bluetooth and GPS – There are not many e-readers at all in the world that have GPS and Bluetooth technology, but they should. This would allow users to transfer books from their computer to their e-reader without having to plug it into their PC. It would also allow people to plug in external speakers, like a Beats Pill or keyboard. In addition the GPS aspect would allow people to use new technology to prevent theft.

Anti-Theft Software – Taking advantage of the GPS technology in the ultimate e-reader a simple app, such as “Find my e-Reader” would allow people to track down their device if they misplaced or lost it. It would also be able to remotely wipe all personal information if it were to be stolen, limiting the possibilities of identity theft


Welcome back to the Good e-Reader Radio Show! Today, we bring you the latest happenings from the e-reader world! This week you will get the most essential stories, such as the recent firestorm that erupted over news that Adobe is sending personal eBook information in plain text to their servers, breaching privacy laws.  In addition, Amazon announced a new crowd sourced publishing platform called Kindle Scout. I  like the fact that readers are responsible for what books get published, rather then as million unknown books flooding the market. Finally, Kobo has confirmed they are exiting the tablet market.

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The Good e-Reader Radio Show was on a brief one month hiatus and we are back with a vengeance! Lots of new electronic readers have been announced and have either come out or will imminently be released in the next few weeks. On today’s show I discuss all of the new Kindles, the Samsung 4 Nook and Kobo H2O. What device is the best of the bunch and which ones should you not consider? In addition,  the Blackberry Passport has been announced and we have some idea now on what other new phones they have up their sleeves for 2015.

We have been doing the Good e-Reader Radio show since 2009, covering the entire digital publishing, e-reader and e-paper sector! This is the only show of its type, where we dive deep into the issues and provide honest and candid information on the brands we write about. Join in on the fun and listen for free.

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Welcome to the Monday edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show! Today the show centers on all of the latest news from the past week. There has been a TON of e-reader news coming out with new devices being announced and slated to be released in the next few months. I will give you a preview of the new Kindle, Nook, Icarus, Pocketbook and other major brands. In addition, Sony is refocusing their efforts on business devices with the advent of the Digital Paper e-reader.

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Welcome to the Monday edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show with Michael Kozlowski and Mercy Pilkington. Today, we talk about the new Amazon Credit Card Reader and how its a boon to indie authors to accept mobile payments while at events. Scholastic has announced the closure of their Storia eBook platform and is transitioning to a subscription system. Finally, many eBook resellers have gone out of business in the past few years, is your purchases protected?

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Welcome back to the Monday Edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show with Michael Kozlowski and Jeremy Greenfield of DBW. Today on the show we talk about Kindle Unlimited, an overview and if its good for indie authors. We also talk about non-conventional eBook distribution methods such as Twitter, Facebook and Bittorrent. Finally, we talk about the Forbes sale, bundling eBooks with print and Author Earnings as viable data.

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Amazon prematurely unveiled Kindle Unlimited yesterday morning. This is a new subscription service that costs $9.99 and will allow you to read as many books as you want on a monthly basis.

Kindle Unlimited will launch with 600,000 eBook and audiobook titles. Each title will be available to read on multiple devices, such as Android and iOS. A free 30 day trial will also be available when the service launches later this year.

Major publishers such as HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster will not be contributing content with Kindle Unlimiteds launch. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos did meet with CBS CEO Leslie Moonves earlier in the week to talk about eBooks, maybe contributing backlist and midlist titles had something to do with it.

Smaller publishers will play a major role in Unlimited with Algonquin, Bloomsbury, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Open Road, Scholastic and Workman. Amazon intends on paying them a wholesale rate for each title opened and read. This direct agreement is also being made to all of the Harry Potter Books via Pottermore and also the Hunger Games Trilogy

The bulk of the 600,000 titles that are available for Unlimited will be contributing by self-published authors who enrolled in Kindle Direct Publishing Select. Writers who participate under this program will automatically be opted it and paid out whenever someone reads 10% of the book or more. The money will be paid to the authors through the one or two million dollars that is added to the KDP Select pool per month.

Existing eBook subscription sites stand to gain in the short-term as most of them will be referenced in Unlimited. Scribd, Oyster and others will be mentioned in the same sentence and they all have major publisher support. Amazon is mainly launching with smaller presses, but most of the big five all support the smaller companies with their backlist and midlist titles.

Today on the show, Michael Kozlowski and Mercy Pilkington break down all of the news from yesterday. You will get a sense on concerns indie authors have on payments and royalties. Will KDP Select be a compelling value proposition for authors, outside of the Kindle Lending Library? Finally, will Kindle offer yet another cool feature that will be the deciding factor on your next e-reader purchase?


Welcome back to another exciting edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show. Today Editor Michael Kozlowski talks with Digital Book World‘s own Jeremy Greenfield about the Amazon/Hachette dispute and if publishers should circumvent their retail partners and sell books directly.

Amazon and Hachette has been the top story for a number of months, with new revelations by the New York Times. Many experts agree that we may see an end to this ongoing feud very soon. In the meantime, Amazon is trying to win over authors to their side by offering 100% royalties to Hachette authors. This is pissing off many people, including the American Authors Guild. If you missed any of the new developments in this saga, drop eveyrthing and listen to this show immidiately.

In other news, HarperCollins has started selling tangible books from their entire catalog, in addition to eBooks on their website. This follows the store within a store concept that Hachette made with Books-a-million to sell books directly. Many bookstores in Canada and the US are not doing that well and contract disputes with retail partners will only get more complicated as time goes on. Is the future of publishing selling books directly to readers and circumventing the established retailers?

Finally, should libraries call for a boycott against Simon and Schuster’s new terms? If a library wants to include the S&S catalog in digital format, they must also opt into selling the book on their website. Libraries as retail is a very polarizing issue, and the ALA administration is just happy they are finally onboard. Were negotiations done too quickly at the expense of libraries abusing the public trust? Is it time for a grassroots effort to boycott buying titles?

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Welcome back to another installment of the Good e-Reader Radio Show with Mercy Pilkington and Michael Kozlowksi. Today on the show we talk about Libraries as Retail with the Simon & Schuster mandating that libraries sell eBooks in order to carry digital titles. Hugh Howey is calling on indie authors to start a dedicated union in order to have a more cohesive voice in the publishing industry. Are children really reading? Mercy was an English teacher for over a decade and a massive discussion ensues on modern literature in the classroom and barriers preventing more contemporary books being offered.

Finally, on the show Mercy and Michael debate Textbook piracy in Europe and Africa. The landscape is not as cut and dry as people wanting to save money, but comes down to availability and the lack of publisher support. A really fun show with book reviews and lots more, join in on the fun.

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Welcome back to a jampacked edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show! Today Editor Michael Kozlowski and Digital Book Worlds own Jeremy Greenfield bring you up to date on the world of publishing and tech.

The Amazon and Hachette battle is bringing out a bunch of dirty laundry, such as co-op placement. When you walk into a bookstore and see a big table with the editors choice, publishers have to pay for that. In the digital realm, Amazon charges for the pre-order button and for high valued placement on their Kindle books page. Larger publishers also have dedicated reps that work exclusively with them and this all costs money. This is why Amazon shutting off the paid services is quite a big deal.

Apple is capitalizing on the Hachette pre-order suspension on Amazon by offering over 30 new titles for $9.99 or less. If you want to order the new Silkworm book by JK Rowling or the new James Patterson, now is the time to buy.

Also on the show, you will be brought up to date on the new Amazon Fire Phone and Good e-Readers upcoming trip to the ALA event in Las Vegas in a few days.

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Welcome back to the Monday edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show! Today, Michael Kozlowski and Jeremy Greenfield of DBW talk about Hachettes reliance on Amazon and how financially dependant they are for book sales in the US and UK. In addition, Amazon has been making great strides in adopting key audiobook technology from their Kindle Fire line of tablets and incorporating it into the Kindle app for iOS and Android. Is there a future in a standalone Audible app now? Finally, they two lads talk about eBook subscription services and what roles they can play in emerging markets. A great show as always, so check it out.

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Welcome back to a jampacked edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show with Michael Kozlowski and Jeremy Greenfield of Digital Book World. Today on the show we talk about the new Samsung and Barnes and Noble tablet partnership, and what it means for the bookseller going forward. Also on the show is a riveting discussion on YA Books and why Adults are reading them in record droves.

The Audiobook industry is currently worth over two billion dollars globally, which is a far cry from $450 million in 1997. Publishers are wanting to accelerate growth further and we discuss how they intend on making it happen. Amazon has announced a new mobile subscription platform today, S&S has announced a new social network and Entitle has developed a new Christian solution. This is a great show with lots of excellent discussion, check it out!

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