GoodeReader - The definitive News Outlet on eBook, e-Readers, and Digital Publishing News - Part 2

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Bookmate, the leading social ebook reading service, is available in Singapore. Boasting a comprehensive library of over 500,000 ebooks from 600 publishers, Bookmate empowers reading fans to search, discover, interact and read as much as they want, wherever they are.

Available at a flat monthly fee of SGD 9.98, the service offers books from major publishers such as HarperCollins, Head of Zeus, Profile Books, Serpent’s Tail and others.

As part of its international expansion efforts, Bookmate is exclusively partnering Singapore’s fully-integrated info-communications provider StarHub to introduce its book-streaming service to the local reading community and engage local publishers to offer their books on the platform.

Simon Dunlop, Founder of Bookmate, said, “Our mission is to make reading easy, accessible and fun for everyone with a smart phone. By expanding into Singapore, we have made a significant first step in increasing Bookmate’s footprint in Southeast Asia and thanks to our partnership with StarHub and their highly engaged customers we will be able to reach millions of new readers.”

Michael Sim, Lead Futurist–Entertainment of i3 (Innovation, Investment, Incubation), StarHub, said, “Singapore consumers are fast growing accustomed to getting easy access to an unfettered catalogue of premium online content, for instance, video and music streaming, across multiple devices for a flat monthly fee. This advancement is changing the way people consume content, and we believe the time is ripe to bring this same convenience to book fans, providing a timely boost to Singapore’s ebook scene. Through our partnership with Bookmate, local readers can now enjoy unlimited access to Bookmate’s vast collection of ebooks through its comprehensive association with leading publishers.”

Bookmate’s move into Singapore follows its agreement with HarperCollins, announced earlier this year, which saw Bookmate add hundreds of new authors to the service. This announcement also marks Bookmate’s first foray into Asia-Pacific. Bookmate currently has over 1.5 million active monthly users in countries including Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, U.S. and Germany.

The Bookmate app, available for free download on Apple App Store, Good e-Reader and Windows Store, includes a social feed that allows users to follow their friends, favorite authors and celebrities on Bookmate, while also sharing their favorite books and passages. The service is also available through a supported web browser

Categories : E-Book News
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A number of years ago when the iPad became popular, the digital magazine scene was bright and vibrant. A number of companies were leading the download charts and inclusive apps that gave you access to hundreds of publications became standard.  When Apple unveiled their Newsstand, companies started developing their own apps to offer unique experiences. Instead of relying on companies like Zinio for distribution, they decided to do it themselves. One of the last magazine companies still standing is PressReader and they just hit a major milestone.

PressReader has just announced that they have they have attained 1,000 magazines.  Condé Nast International France has joined PressReader, adding favorite titles – including Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ and Glamour – to their growing list of  top publications like T3, Martha Stewart Living, Men’s Health, Inside Golf, Elle Italia and many more.

In terms of digital magazine distribution, PressReader does things a little bit differently than their competition. On the consumer level they sell a subscription package that gives customers access to over 3,500 newspapers and magazines from 100 countries in 80 different languages.  Instead of paying per issue, you can basically read and download as much as you want for a low monthly price. The company also leverages their portfolio directly to libraries, airlines, cruise ships and hotels.

Most of the digital players still in the game normally use proxy services when they market their treasure trove of content to libraries or other sectors. Zinio for example deals with Recorded Books to market their content to libraries, whereas Next Issue and Magzter simply focuses on consumers and not B2B.

I think the one thing PressReader has done really well is establish a strong branding message, no matter what space they are selling magazines and newspapers in. They do everything themselves, without having to lean on 3rd parties to do the marketing for them.

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When Sony and Amazon first got into the e-reader business, they were considered a new breed of luxury items. The first generation Kindle retailed for $399 and the PRS-500 was $349. Needless to say, only the most hardcore of readers were buying into the new way to consume digital books. In the last few years, you can pick up a ultra modern device for $79. Whats changed?

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo are in the race to the bottom. They are forgoing a number of critical features to be able to compete against each other in the lucrative US and UK market. Overall build quality is suffering, internet browsing has never improved and the lack of audio bucks the trend of technological convergence.

In 2011, we started to see e-readers come down in price. The Kindle Keyboard was massively discounted from $189 to $99. Barnes and Noble discounted their Simple Touch Reader to $99 and Kobo did the same. This was the last year that we saw a new reader have speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack that was capable of playing audiobooks and music files.

The lack of audio in modern e-readers prevent them from being rolled out into schools and institutions of learning. The chief reason is because visually disabled people cannot use the devices and feel excluded. The National Federation of the Blind have been overzealous in this regard and have prevented Amazon from starting pilot projects to get e-readers in schools. They went as far as organizing protests right outside Amazons Seattle headquarters, saying at the time “no student should be left behind.”

The e-reader industry as a whole has lost most of its innovative spirit, the vast majority of companies that were around from 2007 to 2011 are not around anymore. There was some truly interesting e-paper technology that could have changed the game, such as Bridgestone e-paper, Liquavista, LG, Mirasol, Pixel QI, and Plastic Logic. The reason why most of these companies abandoned the e-reader space, was because all of the notable players were risk adverse. After bringing the entry level price from $399 to $99 for an e-reader, the price could never dramatically increase again, which limited their options of dealing with new companies, whose technology would be expensive to manufacture at first.

The race to the bottom  has not only limited consumer options, but it has effectively edged out smaller companies that offer alternative e-readers. Icarus, Onyx Boox, Pocketbook and Wexler aren’t exactly household names, but have been making e-readers in Eastern Europe, Russia and China for years. All of these guys initially focused on the western market, but they simply couldn’t produce enough units, in order to get big discounts at the factory, which effectively relegated them to markets where Amazon and Kobo haven’t entered yet.

I have been following the e-reader industry since the first generation Sony and Kindle e-readers. I was at CES in 2010 when e-readers were everywhere, there were literary hundreds of companies wanting to enter the space, looking for strategic partner. In 2011, there were hardly any to be found, as the industry gravitated towards multi-purpose tablets. e-Readers were on the cusp of doing some really amazing things, but now we just have a selection of products that all look the same. Put a Kindle Paperwhite 1  side by side to a Paperwhite 2 and see if anyone could tell the difference.


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European libraries have been experimenting with the concept of digital in libraries. The United Kingdom has had the most success, and other countries are starting to make moves to offer similar services. France has just approved a new mandate to implement a digital lending platform, which means in the new future you will be able to borrow audiobooks, eBooks and digital newspapers.

An innovative agreement was announced on December 8th in Paris to facilitate e-lending in French public libraries. The agreement was signed by the French Minister of Culture and associations of librarians, booksellers, authors and publishers, including IFRRO’s member Syndicat National de l’Édition. Twelve recommendations are set out in the agreement in order to make available digital editorial output within and outside the public libraries’ premises while ensuring fair remuneration for rightholders.

Now that a blueprint has been established for digital lending in France, a number of companies will be eyeing this market with glee. The first major challenge is getting an ILS system in place, such as Polaris or Triple iii. This is critical because collection managers need tie in their print and digital collections in a singular platform to monitor everything.

The next stage in facilitating the loaning of digital content will be up to Overdrive, 3M and Baker & Taylor to pitch libraries the virtues of their systems for e-Books, audiobooks and streaming video. Vancouver based PressReader would also be a valuable industry partner because they already carry all of the major French newspapers such as Le Monde, Le Figaro and L’Express.

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MSN

Who knew that the tech community would be buzzing excitedly about the things Microsoft was up to these days –but it’s happening. This time, it is because they have released a suite of MSN-branded mobile apps designed to run on Android and iOS devices. Timing for the launch makes good sense when you consider that Microsoft recently remodeled their MSN.com portal site (which serves to point users to their other services like Outlook.com, Skype, and Bing).

Some of the apps are particularly impressive, with the ports adding platform-specific tie-ins (like MSN Health and Fitness on iOS working directly with Apple’s HealthKit platform); unfortunately some obvious opportunities were missed, with many reviews already pointing out that there isn’t a weather widget to work with the Android version of the MSN Weather app.

Many features are ready to be enjoyed, including: synchronization across platforms (so you can maintain state between your various devices) and full customization options (so you can identify and organize the information provided by each app according to your personal interests).

Curious to see what Microsoft has been up to? Download any or all of these new (and free!) Android apps:

Are you impressed by Microsoft’s efforts to carve out their piece of the mobile marketplace? Do you think their mobile apps are good enough to compete (and dominate) against the competition?

Categories : Android News
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hearthstone

Even if you have never played a game in your life (mobile or otherwise), chances are good that you have heard about Blizzard. Maintaining their position as crowned kings of the video game world, Blizzard has hit another home-run with Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft (their their free-to-play trading card game).

With an invitation to pick up your cards and thrown down the gauntlet, Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft promises fast-paced (and whimsical) game play that requires deliberate and calculated scheming to succeed. Powers found within your deck enable you to “sling spells, summon minions, and seize control of an ever-shifting battlefield,” no matter whether you are a novice or experienced player (thanks to intuitive and engaging introductory missions, though I should also be including words like addictive in this list).

Like most other Blizzard games, your assets will be tied to your Battle.net account –so you can play Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft on any of your devices interchangeably.

If you haven’t yet watched the official trailer for Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft that was released earlier this year, take a few minutes to watch it [linked below] and whet your appetite.

Unfortunately for some of you, this release is limited for the time being –but those of you in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand should download Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft for Android (which include access to an additional 120 new cards thanks to the recent Goblins vs Gnomes expansion). Everybody else will be able to play it “in the coming days,” but an exact release date hasn’t been announced.


Categories : Android News
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microsoft-office-sway

Nobody is more surprised than I am that Microsoft is doing so well in the software game these days. Once upon a time the tech giant was so focused on operating systems that they had neglected just about everything else (which has really shown in their sales and reviews in recent years). Fortunately, they have new leadership with a seemingly fresh focus: apps, apps, apps (web-based as well as mobile). Their latest entry into this market is Sway: an online tool aimed to help you create presentation documents. Sway is built for the cloud, and adds to the company’s efforts in converting Office into a newly-successful, centrally-hosted, subscription-based product.

When the Sway preview began 10 weeks ago, Microsoft wait-listed a large number of the users requesting access (apparently there were over 175,000 requests to join across 1 million unique visitors –very good conversion numbers). There is a method to their madness in adding more beta-testers (essentially): they want feedback, and it actually sounds like they are willing to listen to it; existing user requests have seen the addition of features like: undo and redo, bulleted lists, direct text editing on the canvas, easier reordering, colour picking and pallette diversity, and PDF import.

Microsoft has promised that mobile apps supporting Sway will be available in due time (and in reality, there is an iPhone app already, but it’s limited to users in New Zealand and very much in its infancy), but for now hitting the Sway website using any browser on your PC, Mac, or tablet will do the trick.

Whether you are excited to try Sway, or question what you might do with it, one thing is certain: Microsoft is doing their best to reinvent their signature Office product line and so far, they are doing with a certain refined software elegance.

If you want to see Microsoft’s full vision for Sway, take a few minutes and watch their promotional video linked below.

Categories : Android News
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hbo

Amazon Fire TV has been getting pretty good reviews from users and critics alike, but a few things have been missing… most noteably (for many) is the absence of HBO Go. Thankfully this has been remedied and HBO subscribers can stream their favourite content from the network’s movies and TV catalog on the Fire TV (though the Fire TV Stick won’t have suppose until the spring of 2015).

Amazon was eager to release a statement regarding their HBO Go addition:

“We’re thrilled to add HBO Go, the most requested service, to Fire TV in time for the holidays. HBO has produced some of the most groundbreaking and award-winning TV shows and movies, and we are excited to bring this amazing content to our customers, all of which is accessible via voice search on your Fire TV remote.

If you are a subscriber, you can still access HBO Go for Android if you haven’t grabbed yourself an Amazon Fire TV just yet (of course, if you have been meaning to, now is a good time –Amazon has reduced the price from $99 to $79 until December 28).

Does this announcement make you more likely to pick up a Fire TV device? Is there something that Amazon is still missing?

Categories : Android News
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Zoe Sugg may not be a household name, unless you have teenage daughters. The 24 year old amasses millions of views on each video she posts on Youtube and has just published her first book. Girl Online is a YA romance novel and has sold a staggering 78,000 copies in her first week. This has seen her surpass the first Harry Potter and 50 Shades of Grey book in the same period.

Zoe started her YouTube channel in 2009, primarily aimed at beauty tips and fashion advice. She is playful and has a candid approach that is absolutely infectious with her teen audience. Zoe has more than six million YouTube followers, and two million Twitter followers. Recently she took home the Best British Vlogger Award at the 2013 at the  BBC Radio 1’s Teen Awards, but also won the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award earlier this year.

When any book sells a ton of copies in a short period of time, there is normally drama that ensues. In Zoe’s case she has been getting a  ton of flack from the media about having the book ghost written for her. Penguin, her publisher outsourced the actual writing to Siobhan Curham—an established author of both YA and adult fiction. The three sides sat down over the period of a few weeks and bantered back and fourth about the logistics. The Girl Online Book is not an autobiography, but does borrow heavily from Zoe and her day to day activities.

The young writer has been getting lambasted in the media for failing to explicitly state that she did not write the book alone, despite thanking Curham in the acknowledgments of Girl Online for having been with her “every step of the way”.

Despite the online backlash that erupted against Sugg, Curham had stayed quiet on the controversy. But on Wednesday, Curham posted a defense of both herself and Sugg to her blog. Writing that she had signed on to help Sugg with the book not to become “famous” or “rich,” Curham said that she’d agreed because she loves writing and “helping others write books.” She did, however, note that it wasn’t an entirely enjoyable process, saying “I did have some issues with how the project was managed. Issues which I expressed on more than one occasion. Issues which I’m afraid I’m not allowed to go into. And issues which have nothing to do with Zoe. I’ve seen at first hand how caring and considerate Zoe is. I’ve been very impressed with how she finds ways to use her (completely unexpected) fame to help others, whether that be through her vlogs, blogs, books or becoming a digital ambassador for the mental health charity MIND.”

I honestly think the media is more fixated on the inner workings of the publishing world, than actually talking about the book. It is more interesting to stir up controversy and crucify a young girl for doing what people only dream of, starting a successful business, amassing millions of followers and publishing a book.

Categories : E-Book News
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wakie

It was only a matter of time before social media found another use beyond sharing cute pictures of kittens and the grandkids along-side 140-character pearls of wisdom: cue Wakie. We all accept that alarm clocks are a necessary evil, with most of us using our smartphones to interrupt our peaceful slumber. What if I told you that a perfect stranger could take care of this for you by placing a phone call at a pre-arranged time? Wakie can and will.

My fascination with this app started as amusement (with terms to describe users like ‘sleepies’ to identify people waiting on a call to wake them up), and progressed quickly to some kind of strange addiction. Using the service is free, and your account makes it possible for Wakie to match you with people ready to place the call.

The service is as anonymous as you let it be (so be careful)… you input your mobile phone number (but the app uses this information behind the scenes to patch users together without divulging the real details for anybody on the call), you get to choose a username (which should ideally be easy to pronounce, even for those whose English may not be as good as yours) and shouldn’t include your last name. If you happen to miss their call (or sleep through it somehow), be careful that your voicemail message doesn’t divulge anything you wouldn’t want a stranger to know.

Once setup is complete, you set an alarm just like you would in any other smartphone app (complete with a backup if you choose). At the designated time, your phone will ring.

Prefer to make the calls rather than receive them? Choose to wake sleepies and the app will alert you when somebody is ready for you. What you say is up to you, but Wakie encourages you to be respectful and enforces a 60-second time limit (so no awkward goodbyes).

If somehow there isn’t anybody available to make the call to wake you up, the automated system will pick up any slack (though my experience is that there is never a shortage of people willing to interrupt your sleep).

Wakie has been available for Android since earlier this fall, but iPhone users only got access this week.

So far Wakie has delivered over 30 million wake up calls to 1.5 million users –you should be one of them!

Categories : Android News
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new-look-archie

Archie has been chasing Betty and Veronica through the halls of Riverdale High school since 1941. Not much has changed over the years, but starting in 2015 the entire Archie comic book line will be rebooted.

Jon Goldwater took over as chief executive and publisher of Archie Comics five years ago, from his father that founded the company in 1939. He has been evaluating the entire Archie line of comics, digital comics and graphic novels to get a sense on what the public wanted.

Afterlife with Archie was very dark in its overtones and capitalized on the obsession with zombies in our culture. Life with Archie also was more mature, as it featured Archie in his later life and much publicized death. These comics sold very well, bookstore sales have increased 736%, and direct-market sales, which include those in specialty stores like comic book shops, rose 226%

Starting in early 2015 the entire Archie comic book series will be rebooted with a new creative team, featuring Mark Waid and Fiona Staples. Mr. Waid said his primary goal was to return Archie to a modern audience, which included restoring the contemporary attitudes that the teenagers of Riverdale had lost.

Not much is known yet on the exact formula that Archie will employ. The only hints that were dropped was that it would be fresh, modern and the teens would face most of the same issues as they face nowadays. The traditional Archie digests will still be published, but the company priority right now is on the reboot and making it more modern.

Categories : Digital Comic News
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Amazon may not be selling eBooks in their iPad or iPhone Kindle app anymore, but there is a new reason to open it up again. If you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, the app has now been optimized so you can browse over 700,000 eBooks, borrow them and immediately start reading.

The  new Kindle reading app update for iOS is certainly one of the largest in recent memory, in terms of cool new features and overall enhancements. Whether you listen to audiobooks, want to find out more about an author or tend to lurk around GoodReads, there is something for everyone. It is important to keep in mind that Unlimited is only available in the US, UK and a few European markets, not everyone will be able to browse for eBooks or take advantage of the 30 day free trial. Check out the full change list below.

Book Browser (for iPad): Kindle Unlimited subscribers can now browse over 700,000 books, including popular titles such as Lord of the Rings series, Harry Potter and Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, and start reading immediately, without leaving the app. Tapping on a book cover displays a detail page that provides information about the book, including the book description and customer reviews. Book Browser also provides customers with the ability to search for any title from Amazon’s entire catalog of Kindle books, where they can view book details, download a sample, or add it to a wish list. You can start a 30-day free trial of Kindle Unlimited to get the most out of Book Browser by visiting amazon.com/kindleunlimited.

Welcome experience: New customers can get started reading right away! By selecting favorite genres, rating books you’ve read, and choosing books you want to read, you will get personalized book sample suggestions (powered by the Goodreads recommendation engine) to download and read for free.

Goodreads integration: Goodreads customers can now share reading progress updates, highlights, and more from inside the Kindle book they are reading. Once connected (click on the Settings icon in the bottom right hand corner of the Library or Home page, then click on Social Network and select Goodreads to link accounts), customers can share reading progress updates using the new [g] button in the reader controls; share quotes on Goodreads, Facebook or Twitter; or rate and review a book on Goodreads and Amazon from the “Before You Go” screen at the end of a book. For more details and screenshots, see the Goodreads blog post at goodreads.com/blog.

Next In Series Information: Customers finishing a book in a series like A Game of Thrones can learn about the next book, A Clash of Kings, and instantly add it to their wish list from the “Before You Go” screen.

Book Detail Pages in the Library: By customer request, book details can now be viewed by long pressing a book cover in the library and selecting “Book Details.” Customers can now see a synopsis of the book, Amazon reviews, and more.

Audible Progressive Play: Start playing audiobooks as they’re downloading (no need to wait for the entire download). Audiobooks can be played once you’ve downloaded past your current reading location.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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newsies-wide

The main media lobby behind Spain’s new intellectual property law, which caused Google to announce that it was to close Google News in Spain, has backpedaled and proclaimed it wants the Spanish government and European competition authorities to intervene to stop Google shutting down the service.

New legislation requires every Spanish publication to charge services like Google News for showing even the smallest snippet from their publications, whether they want to or not  This has prompted Google to shut down the service on December 15th for every newspaper, blog and online journal  originating in Spain.

The Spanish Newspaper Publishers’ Association issued a statement Friday night, stating that Google News was “not just the closure of another service given its dominant market position”, recognizing that Google’s decision: “will undoubtedly have a negative impact on citizens and Spanish businesses”.

Major media publications stand to gain the most with Google News shutting down, as the general public will have fewer choices to discover start-ups and small news outlets. It looks like the majority of small and medium sized companies are ramping up their efforts to try and get Google to remain open for business, as the aggregation service is pivotal for new users and to monetize their websites with online advertising.

When it comes down to it, the media lobby organization bit off more than it could chew. They want the best of both worlds, lots of search engine traffic, but want Google to conform to their narrow views.

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