The Latest News on eBooks, eReaders and Digital Publishing - Part 2

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For many self-published authors, the various ebook distribution platforms that have made it easier than ever to put content in front of readers are the only avenue to publication. But with the variety of companies who have begun to offer legitimate, cost effective ways of offering readers a print edition as well, there’s no reason not to release a book simultaneously in both ebook and print.

Blurb, who began as a limited print company who specialized in niche books like professional portfolios before expanding into genres like indie cookbooks and art books, announced today that it has a host of new features for authors, including free ISBN numbers, direct to Amazon distribution for print, and a new tool called BookWright that lets authors upload without having to have the expertise to submit files through Adobe’s InDesign.

“Blurb BookWright and Blurb to Amazon distribution have both evolved from years of learning, absorbing customer feedback, and the internal desire to bring a fully featured book creation platform to all potential authors,” says Eileen Gittins, Blurb founder and CEO. “I’ve wanted to make an announcement this simple and clear for years: Make your book once and publish it anywhere, for print or for ebook. Today is that day, and Blurb has become the indie author’s best friend. We’re fulfilling our promise to bring publishing to everyone.”

While there will eventually be a reasonable setup fee ($29US) per title, Blurb is currently running a free promotion that allows anyone to give the platform a try. BookWright is also free to setup and experiment with in order to test out features like professionally designed pre-built starter layouts for a variety of book types, an easy-to-use WYSIWYG design process from start to finish, the ability to import book files directly from existing Blurb tools, and more.

AMAZON
One of Amazon’s more hotly contested and expensive legal battles has been what some states so blatantly dubbed “The Amazon Tax.” According to a decades-old Supreme Court decision, catalog retailers and online retailers do not have to charge sales tax in states where they have no physical presence, but state governments realized that Amazon’s distribution centers amounted to a physical presence. In a firestorm of legislation across the country, states began to draft legislation and file lawsuits against the retailer for sales tax.

In some cases, Amazon worked out deals with those states, promising new construction and new jobs in exchange for a delay in the new legislation or a pass on the back taxes; in other states, Amazon simply closed the centers and laid off its employees, thereby erasing its “presence” in the state. A handful of states where Amazon essentially needed to keep the centers open worked out their legislation and concerns with the retailer, and many of them agreed to a delay in Amazon’s collection of the tax.

But now that most of the states are now requiring full compliance with their own tax laws, a recent report has shown a drop in sales in states where the tax was enacted. As much as a ten percent drop in consumer spending to the site has been reported, leading some to question whether there is any truth to the long held criticism that physical retailers, especially independent bookstores, really are losing business to the big-box shopping mentality.

While Amazon maintains that it will continue to thrive for its superior prices, convenient shipping, and above standard customer service, there’s another factor that supports Amazon’s position as it pertains to sales tax. With so many county and city governments within each state charging their own sales taxes on purchases, consumers will still be better off making online purchases, regardless of whether the state collects sales tax. The dubious honor of highest combined sales tax in the country currently goes to the town of Arab, Alabama, where its citizens pay 13.5% sales tax; the state sales tax is only 4%, so online purchases make sense in that area. While some states do not charge a state sales tax on certain items, like Kentucky’s decision not to collect on books, only two states in the country charge sales tax on groceries, Mississippi and Alabama. Consumers in those states are still going to come out far ahead by buying grocery items from Amazon as the retailer is not required to collect sales tax in either of those states yet.

Amazon currently collects sales tax in twenty states, with new states still waiting to enact their taxes. The online retailer has rightfully stated that it supports and will comply with a federal sales tax decision that allows one streamlined system for online retailers, but that the need to establish fifty different modes of taxation on web-based purchases simply wasn’t feasible.

Categories : E-Book News
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LittleLostKindle

Kindle e-Readers and tablets tend to be one of the sole joys of a voracious readers life. You carry your entire library of books that you have read, intend to read or want to buy next. It can be devastating if you lose your Kindle Fire or Kindle e-reader or someone steals it. What should you do if this situation were to occur?

If you lose your Kindle, chances are it’s going to be very hard to track down who found it or get back again. The first thing you want to do is deregister the device,  you do this by visiting Amazon.com and clicking on Your Apps and Devices.  Next, click on your devicesClick the Actions button, and then click deregister device. Deregistering your device prohibits Appstore purchases on that device, and disables the use of any app purchased from Amazon Appstore for Android and downloaded to that device. You can re-enable purchasing from the device by signing in to the Amazon Appstore for Android again.  Once you deregister  your device someone can’t make any purchases via the One Click Checkout or access anything to do with Whispernet.

When you unregister your Kindle, you do not lose any of your past purchases or digital content. If you were to buy another Kindle Fire or an e-Reader you can simply use your login and password on the new hardware and sync all of your past content. One of the big drawbacks of newspaper and magazine subscriptions is that you can’t get the back  issues via sync, instead you can only get the most current one.

If you want to insure that a stolen Kindle cannot be sold on the blackmarket, eBay, Craigslist or the local pawnshop you may elect to blacklist it.  The best thing to do is phone Amazon, and ask them to “blacklist” the device. When it is blacklisted, it can not be registered by someone else. You can do this by calling Toll free: 1-888-280-4364 or international: 1-206-266-2992. If you manage to find it, or someone returns it in a lost and found bin, you can call  Amazon back  and they can unblacklist it so you can re-register it.

If you want to be an especially vigilant and upstanding citizen, you may elect to file a police report. Chances are if the value is less than $400, it is considered a petty crime and normally the boys in blue move slowly on this. So it might not be the best course of action to file for that lost Kindle Keyboard, but might be worth it for that shiny new 4G Kindle HDX 4G.

Most of Kindle loses occur on while flying and you just want to get off the plane after a long trek. If you realize you left your Kindle on the plane, you don’t want to call the airline or talk to them in person. Instead, most major airlines all have online claim forms that you can fill out. This normally takes weeks to reach a resolution but many customers have found that they get an email eventually if they have found it and then pay the postage to ship it back to you.

Kindle Fire tablets work a bit differently than most of the e-readers. If someone finds it they do  have access to all of your apps and email accounts that you have on file. I recommend that you add a password to your device, to provide a barrier for a bandit. Try and make a password that is not “password” or “123456789.” Find my Kindle is next to useless and should not be depended on.

Tablets are the type of item where it is next to impossible to get back once its stolen or lost. Blacklisting it from accessing core Amazon services would be a sufficient strategy to insure that a thief cannot use the device for their own dark ambitions. Often, a thief quickly resells it on Craigslist, and an unknowing customer cannot actually do anything with it. In this situation, normally Amazon will open a dialog with the new owner and get them to send it back in return for a discount on a new model.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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pat_pawn_stars

Apple TV is expecting a major new hardware update in 2014 and the big rumor is that it will include iOS, which will allow companies to develop custom apps and games. Until then, we will have to settle for incremental additions whenever opportunity arises. Today, Apple unveiled three new channels with A&E, Lifetime and the History Channel.

Starting today you can get your fill of American Pickers, American Restoration, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, and tons more! This is only available for American subscriptions and it is a bit of a pain to actually watch all of the shows on-demand. Instead of subscribing with iTunes you have to write down codes from the TV, visit the television providers website and make a new account. The whole process takes basically 15 minutes, which is quite daunting.

Categories : Technology
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Tapa ¡Te lo regalo! con título dibujado

Barnes and Noble has unveiled a new pilot program with a Spanish-language Storytime at select stores across the USA. Barnes & Noble kicks off the inaugural Storytime in May with a reading of ¡Te lo regalo! by Gabriela Keselman and other stories for toddlers. Customers can listen to stories read in Spanish and enjoy word practice and fun activities.

“More schools are embracing dual immersion language programs, helping children become fluent speakers in two languages by the time they graduate high school,” said Sarah DiFrancesco, Vice President of Business Development for Barnes & Noble. “We’re hearing from parents that they want to immerse their children in language learning at a young age, when language acquisition is easy and fun. We believe Spanish-language Storytimes fill a growing demand for this type of early childhood foreign language programming.”

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share our favorite Spanish-language books with customers attending our new monthly Spanish-language Storytimes,” said Denise Duarte, Spanish-Language Children’s Buyer for Barnes & Noble. “The May selection, ¡Te lo regalo!, was just nominated for a Latino Book Award in the category of ‘Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book – Spanish.’ It’s an important story about learning to share with adorable animal illustrations the children will love.”

Categories : Bookselling
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 zeus

One of the downfalls of a dedicated e-reader is that you are limited in dealing with the company who sold it. When you buy a Kobo, Nook, Sony or Kindle you are locked into that ecosystem. This presents challenges when Sony closes their North American bookstore and forces customers to switch to another retailer. Tablets overall are a bit more agnostic, because readers can choose what app they want to download and can deal with more than one company. The new Onyx Zeus e-Reader is poised to bridge the two worlds and offer a new experience.

The Onyx Zeus is a new 9.7 touchscreen e Ink Pearl Reader with a resolution of 1200 x 825. It lacks the frontlite of the competition, which will warrant customers investing in a reading light.

Underneath the hood of the Boox M96M Zeus  is a 1GHz Freescale i.MX6 Solo Lite processor and 512 MB of RAM. You can store your data efficiently with the 4 GB internal storage and boost it up via the MicroSD.

The most compelling aspect of the Zeus is the fact it is running a pure version of Android with version 4.04. This means you can easily load in your own apps and not do business exclusively with a specific company. It does not have access to the Google Play market obviously, but you can load in the Good e-Reader App Store and install things like Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Sony or a number of indie apps. Speaking of indie, the e-reader comes bundled with a bunch of notable ones such as FBReader, Cool-ER and more.

This e-reader is fairly expensive at $400 and is available exclusively in Russia. You can order it directly from Onyx in a few weeks for 14990.00 p. We will try and get a copy of this and do a hands on review shortly.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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world-book-night-2014
The World Book Night organization is best known for its mission to share one million books each year on April 23, attempting to foster a love of reading in people around the world. This year, a special bonus title is available as well, starting stateside on April 22nd. This free ebook, which can be found HERE, is a compilation of essays from a wide variety of book givers, outlining their experiences in being book givers in 2013. The ebook was powered by Livrada and made available in conjunction with this year’s event.

“As a company, we are thrilled to bring our technology and resources to support World Book Night,” said Livrada’s CEO and co-founder Leonard Chen. “We strive to meld our passion for technology and books, and hope this ebook brings joy to many people this WBN 2014.”

WBN’s executive director Carl Lennertz added, “We’ve discussed a digital component for WBN since year one, but it didn’t come together until the great people at Livrada stepped forward, and until two authors who were givers agreed to contribute pieces. Then we sought and received the fun bookseller and library contributions to the ebook. This is a supplement to our primary mission of printed books, not a change in direction. It’s short and fun original material, and we wanted the givers to have this to offer anyone they meet who might not read often on their smart phones or tablets. Our main mission is still to find a half million people without means or access to printed books, but this digital extra is a nice plus. We also feel it’s a great thank you to the 25,000 volunteer givers to enjoy as well. And now, we have the giver contest to be in next year’s ebook!”

The contest, which lets this year’s givers submit essays on their giving experience this year, will run through May 31st for feature in next year’s ebook. The winner of the essay contest will receive two roundtrip airfares in the US. The library winner will receive two air tickets to the ALA conference, while the bookseller winner will receive two airline tickets to BookExpo 2015. Full contest details can be found HERE.

radio-stream

Welcome back to the most captivating edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show! Today Michael Kozlowski and Jeremy Greenfield of DBW discuss all of the major digital publishing events of the last week.

Today on the show Michael and Jeremy discuss Barnes and Nobles latest eTextbook platform called Yuzu. The Founder of B&N has also been selling a ton of stock this year, what are the reasons? They also talk about the newfound synergy between Amazon and Goodreads, with the ability to add paid Kindle books to your shelf.  A great show as always, with a special feature on people editing open source and royalty free eBooks to get a quick sale.


Categories : E-Reader Radio
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haunted-empire-yukari-kane
Verdict: 3 Stars

I expected a lot from Haunted Empire, and I did get a lot of information. It just wasn’t the stuff I thought I would read about. Where was the controversy? Where was the speculation about Apple’s downfall? Basically, where was the information that CEO Tim Cook took issue with?

There was a lot of background information, and I will say that the beginning of the book contained an even closer look at Steve Jobs. It’s funny to read a book that contains information on how Jobs fought with the guy writing his book! There was a lot of really in-depth and thrilling–both heartwarming and negative–information on who Jobs was, told only through the most hidden conversations that made me ask several times, “How did the author find this out?” That’s not to question Kane’s veracity, but to really highlight that she included conversations no one else would have known about.

But while the content within the book gave detailed information about Apple’s woes since the untimely passing of Jobs–I’m not above admitting that I cried several times during Kane’s depiction of the CEO’s last few months and final death–there was nothing of note about where the company is headed with Cook at the helm, at least not in terms of the uproar that followed the book’s publication. Yes, there is certainly mention that Apple hasn’t released anything profound since losing its original dreamer, but it’s also understandable. Kane even paints a picture of a company that is still reinventing itself as a new company, having gone through downturns in the past with various underwhelming CEOs.

At the same time, Kane herself gives so much insight into not only the legal woes that have plagued Apple lately (and kept the company fairly busy with its leadership and its finances tied up in courtroom drama), but also unintentionally details the cyclical nature of Apple’s innovations. It’s hardly newsworthy that the company that brought us the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and resulting app and music stores in the space of such a short time frame would rest on its laurels for a moment before attempting to launch anything quite as world changing again.

Haunted Empire was insightful and interesting, but hardly earned its reputation as the tell-all, “bearer of bad tidings” book that the hype told us to expect.

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This week saw a number of apps released from Google for Chromecast and new picture app. We have also seen a number of great new games unveiled, but we are all eagerly waiting the new Angry Birds Epic to finally depart iOS. Today, out of the thousands of new apps issued last week, we look at the best ones you need to know about.

Cross DJ Free – Mix your music – The best pro DJ app on Android. Mix tracks in perfect sync on a powerful audio engine. Engineered by Mixvibes, digital DJing pioneer for 15 years.

The Brave Summoners – Brave Summoners” is an RPG that takes place in a breathtaking, dark, fantasy world. With gorgeous cards to summon, simple and easy tap-and-select action, and a rich soundtrack, you won’t wanna miss out on all the thrilling action!

The Gate – Free RTS CCG game – Another soul passes through The Gate only to discover an underworld of demonic armies and infernal battles. Your journey unfolds as you capture disciples and train them in combat. Can you unlock mysterious skill upgrades and build an army powerful enough to help defeat fire-belching world bosses? The Gate uniquely combines Real Time Strategy (RTS) and Card Collecting Game (CCG) mechanics. Battles are rendered in hand animated 3D while collectable cards are presented as beautifully illustrated artistic masterpieces. Solo battles provide a chance to strengthen your army, while Raids, Arena Battles, and World Bosses get your friends in on fight.

Followers+ for Instagram – Track your lost/gained followers… PLUS MUCH, MUCH MORE!

Chrome Remote Desktop – Securely access your computers from your Android device.

Google Camera – Google Camera snaps quick and easy photos and videos, and has creative picture modes like Photo Sphere, Lens Blur and Panorama.

CONTRA EVOLUTION – Contra: Evolution is the first official Contra game for Google Play, bringing all of the run-and-gun action of the 1987 original with 21st century graphics and controls to the palm of your hands.

Enchanted Fairy Spa - Get ready for a magical makeover with Enchanted Fairy Spa treatments! Use 12 magical instruments to transform your fairy into the most beautiful fairy of them all! Mirror, mirror on the wall– check out the magic mirror and mesmerizing spell in this enchanted app!

Mountain Sniper Shooting 3D – The beautiful mountain range, which was a key tourist attraction is now taken over by enemy forces. The authorities of the area is sick of their weird ideas about the mountains and its habitat. They are looking for a brave and smart sniper, who is willing to take all the necessary risk, and make full use of his sniping skills in this hilly tourist resort to finish this problem once and for all.

Top Farm – A totally new way to enjoy a good ole farmin’ experience is now available for your tablet or smartphone!
In this fantastic farm you can grow, harvest and craft lots of products, manage orders and sell your goods! Managing and making your own business prosper was never this easy!

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Now that the world of self-publishing has become more commonplace and tools are in place to help authors from a variety of skill levels complete their works for publication, one of the chief hurdles that authors still seek help for is marketing. Book promotion continues to be a huge obstacle to success for authors, regardless of publishing mode. A panel at the recent PubSmartCon, chaired by Shari Stauch, CEO of Where Writers Win, discussed the merits of professional book reviews and book clubs as avenues for book discovery.

NetGalley’s Tarah Theoret spoke about the service that links books with reviewers. “We have over 200,000 publishers as clients, and we work with traditional publishers, small publishers, and self-published authors. For the most part they are pre-pub, but there’s no set rule for when a book can go up on NetGalley. They are for review, and not purchase and consumption directly on the site.”

In the case of NetGalley, the fee to the rights holder is not paid in any way to the reviewer, it is instead paid to keep the site in operation. But other representatives from companies like Chanticleer Book Reviews & Media and Kirkus Reviews spoke about the importance of quality reviews from vetted sources, even if those reviews come at a cost. While paid book reviews continue to be a hotly contested issue among authors and readers alike, panelists Kiffer Brown (Chanticleer) and Eric Liebetrau (Kirkus) explained the difference between an honest review from a long-standing publishing industry entity, and the option to pay an individual in exchange for a “good” review.

One of the topics covered at the event were the inherent ineffectiveness of blog tours, especially in the climate where anyone with a blog can charge money for arranging blog tours among their friends, regardless of how appropriate various blogs are for a particular title, the high or low Alexa ranking for those blogs, and more. Stauch spoke at length about what other options authors have when planning a virtual tour, as well as key tips to look for in online promotion where users’ sites are concerned.

Peer reviews were highlighted as a valuable tool for authors, especially through sites like Goodreads, despite some of the recent difficulties users have found in trusting the reviews found on the site due to its terms of service. BooksILove, a free app for book reviewing and discovery, is another option for reviewing titles, but with a lot less intensive involvement.

The second half of the panel focused on the feasibility and benefits of finding book clubs to read an author’s work, not just in terms of sales to the participants, but also for the buzz and word-of-mouth aspects of being a book club selection. Lynn Bettancourt of Savannah Bound to Please runs a book club with both live and virtual participants numbering over 300 members, and spoke about the ability of authors to reach out to groups with their titles.

Recordings of the panels from the PubSmartCon will be made available soon.

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One of the more crowded panels at the recent PubSmartCon was the Bowker-sponsored panel, Discoverability in the Digital Age, a session which addressed the increasingly difficult task authors face–both traditionally published and self-published–in finding an audience for their works. With independent bookstores closing at an alarming rate and even libraries facing door-shuttering budget cuts, authors have lost a lot of the champions who once sold books by hand, who knew the titles on their store shelves and recommended them to their customers. Coupled with the influx of content as new books are published daily, quality material can still languish without a reader to find it.

One of the recommendations for authors in attendance was to begin the marketing three to six months before the anticipated release date, something that still takes place in the traditional industry. Whether it’s through the author’s own social media and website or through joint promotion and virtual word of mouth, the time to generate that all-important buzz is well before it makes its way to market.

Panelist Tarah Theoret of NetGalley spoke on the ability for self-published authors to generate advanced reader copies and galleys of their books through CreateSpace by simply building a copyedited version of the book and ordering a set number of proofs. This can not only provide reviews to be posted upon the release, but can also give the author feedback from willing and concerned participants. Digital galleys are also secure ways to inexpensively share copies prior to release.

“Not all discovery is equal. Study after study has shown that eighty percent of books are discovered through word of mouth from trusted friends,” explained Elizabeth Dimarco from BooksILove. “That other twenty percent is not to be disregarded though.” BooksILove designed a discovery tool app that people can use while actively having conversations about books by accessing the app on their smartphones or devices. “What we discovered is that recommendations aren’t meant to be done in isolation.”

Dimarco stated that avid book readers not only recommend books to their friends, but they also want feedback at a later time on what those friends ultimately decided about those books, or whether they read them at all.

In a lunchtime keynote address, Hugh Howey explained that the loss of physical bookstores has done more harm for discovery than any glut of self-published titles could ever do. He recounted his days working in a bookstore and recalled the many times he physically pointed to a particular book by way of recommendation to a consumer. With the continued loss of these recommendation engines, authors are having to do more work to stay relevant and be noticed among other authors.

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Result Source has been one of the premier businesses that appeals to writers looking to game the system and get their book on bestseller lists. Due to a myriad of factors the company has shuttered their online presence, all but disappearing.

Result Source was making millions of dollars from charging authors up to $250,000 for them to buy their own books via bulk discounting. Result Source would break up the sales into organic chunks that made it seem like thousands of people were buying them. This would fool book reporting agencies like Nielsen Bookscan and the book would make the Washington Post, New York Times or Amazon bestseller lists.

Good e-Reader and the New York Times both reported on this company, many times. This has prompted Result Source from deleting all of their social media accounts and taking down their website. There is a single landing page with a contact form and it looks like the company has taken the money and ran with it.

Why exactly is Results Source abandoning their business model? Most of their client base of authors are clergyman and priests. The most notable one was Mark Driscoll who pastors a large church in Seattle and recently paid Results Source more than $200,000 to get his book onto the New York Times bestseller list. The scheme included hiring people to purchase 6000 copies of the book in bookstores, then ordering another 5000 copies in bulk. Apparently the IRS is now investigating Results Source and the Churches for misappropriation of Church funds.

Result Source is no longer a viable option for authors looking to get that extra boost in their book sales and make the bestseller list. The fact that they have abandoned their operations leaves an opening for another company to take their place.

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