Archive for ebooks
Worldreader, the US- and Europe-based organization that puts ebooks and e-readers into the hands of students in developing regional schools in Africa, announced this week that it has expanded its current reach to school children in South Africa and Malawi, while still making more headway in Kenya.
Worldreader forged partnerships with two South African schools, one of which was formed by parents who wanted an English-speaking education for their children. From the days that the “school” met in a garage, to ten building renovations later due to expanding student population, the GAP school now serves more than 1,300 students. Those students will have access to e-reading devices and digital libraries through the arrangement.
Additionally, fifty students and the nine-teacher faculty of the Mdatya Public School, also in South Africa, benefited from Worldreader’s alliance with the Matthew E. Russell Foundation and Advance Education.
In Malawi, Worldreader worked with the ten teachers and 280 students of the Namalomba School to put fifty e-readers and ebooks in the school’s library, thanks to the organization’s support from The Rosemary Pencil Foundation. Worldreader also worked with the faculty on training in how to best utilize digital books in the classroom and library settings.
A report from Gillian Rose, president of The Rosemary Pencil Foundation, described the impact the donation stands to have in the educational setting: “Over and over again, the speakers expressed their gratitude and promised to look after the e-readers and said how they felt this would enhance the learning experience at this school. They were proud to be the recipient of such a gift.” After the presentation, a demonstration of how the devices can impact learning took place, when “a teacher assembled Form Three and taught a class using the devices. The students were asked to turn to a particular textbook and a particular chapter and the teacher asked questions.”
Worldreader’s mission abroad is to bring virtually limitless content to outlying areas through the use of devices and digital publishing. Studying and documenting the ongoing impact of access to books is a focal point for the charity.
Verdict: 5 Stars
What happens when you saw off your thumb, but the dysfunctional people in your life are so convinced that you did it on purpose to hurt yourself that you start to wonder if they’re right?
Jagerfeld’s New Adult title, Me On The Floor, Bleeding (translated by Susan Beard), opens with that scenario. While trying to make a wooden shelf for sculpture class–a running theme in the book in which literally every individual she talks to about the shelf tells her that a shelf is not a sculpture–seventeen-year-old Maja Mueller accidentally saws off her own thumb. Her classmates’ reaction is swift: they take out their cell phones and photograph the incident.
Through the story, Maja’s complex life unfolds. Only a day after the thumb is stitched and bandaged, Maja heads to her mother’s house three hours away for her mom’s custody weekend, only to find that her mom isn’t there. She hasn’t answered any phone calls or texts, and didn’t leave a note. Maja spends a lonely weekend coping on her own, but comes to make some pivotal decisions during those independent days.
What actually makes Jagerfeld’s title so compelling is the fact that, prior to the digital revolution of the last few years, it most likely never would have reached US readers. Its Swedish publisher (Stockholm Text) might have decided to have a complete re-write for American audiences, as the book is full of grammar conventions and scenarios or landmarks that could leave some readers feeling lost. This title was definitely written with European readers in mind, but that’s what made the experience all the more interesting. As more and more international authors’ works reach global readers, these little nuances will become more of the mainstream and less daunting to audiences.
Me On The Floor, Bleeding will be released July 3rd and will be available from Amazon and through the publisher’s website, stockholmtext.com.
GoodEReader recently covered the original launch of UK-base Me Books, the unique platform that brings enhance digital editions of beloved and popular children’s bring to smartphones and tablets. While the stories come with celebrity voice-over narration, they also incorporate self-narrating capability, allowing parents to personalize their children’s ebooks.
Today, Me Books, part of the London-based company Made in Me, announced an update to its website and the launch of Me Books’ free app for the US And Canadian children’s book markets. With the app, North American consumers can experience the recordable features of Me Books, storing up to three different versions of each title.
“As a father of two young children myself, I know just how magical story time can be for the whole family,” said Me Books’ James Mead in a company blog post today. “We have lovingly crafted Me Books to give families the best of both worlds; the experience of a great book with the convenience and functionality of new technology. Me Books is your friendly local bookshop in the palm of your hand. We handpick each Me Book so parents can be sure that their children are browsing a safe, curated collection of the most cherished stories – with a few hidden gems in there too. We can’t wait to share the Me Books experience with our friends in the USA.”
Digital recording for the purpose of narration has become an extremely popular format for young readers. Publishers like Sourcebooks and Put Me In The Story, as well as companies like Story Sticker, have enabled families to bridge the gap between independent reading on digital devices, and the beloved story time reading that can build literacy skills, encourage the importance of self-selected textual reading, and bring families closer together. Due to the narrative capabilities, families can experience some measure of shared reading, even when young children opt to read independently.
The Me Books app is free in the app store for iPad and iPhone, and comes pre-installed with one title, I Don’t Want to Go to Bed! by Julie Sykes and Tim Warnes (Little Tiger Press). Additional titles are available and cost between 99-cents and $2.99.
While most students in the northern hemisphere right now are enjoying their days away from school, and admittedly so are most teachers, this is actually one of the most challenging times of the year for educators. Summer represents the time they spend in workshop sessions on new academic standards and requirements where they learn about the new topics they will be required to teach on the same old budgets they’ve endured for years. For many teachers, it means scouring the shelves of every discount store they find and spending a significant portion of their own money on books, supplies, and instructional tools.
Thanks to the work of Icreon Tech and Net Texts to develop the Net Texts iPad app, teachers can now create the content they need for student classroom consumption. In a number of schools, those teacher-created materials are replacing expensive and outdated textbooks.
“Net Texts is one of the most widely used applications in K through twelve, across the country,” explained Devanshi Garg, COO of Icreon, in an interview with GoodEReader. “This is an approach that has been signed on by over forty schools, in use by over 10,000 students and 1,000 teachers. Essentially, it’s a web-based content management system that lets teachers log in and create content. There’s an aspect for them to access public domain or creative commons content that they can pull from to conceptualize what they’re teaching. And they can create content of their own which they can then publish through this platform.”
This material, which includes a library of over 21,000 items, goes out to other users that students and teachers can access. The model first launched with iOS capability due to the widespread adoption of iPads in the educational setting, but Net Texts very quickly developed an Android app and is already looking forward to the upcoming launch of a Chrome app. The material is also still available through the recently website.
” The actual content, except for password protected content, is available to everybody for free. You can download the app and access all of the public content for free, since that was the vision of the founders, creating content that was open and shareable.”
While teachers and students can search the library of materials to supplement instruction and learning, some schools are at work in having teachers develop entire courses based solely on material accessed through Net Texts. The only paid aspect to the platform is the infrastructure of credentials for teachers to create curricular materials and support schools to actually use the material as an entire school’s curriculum. In those instances, the fee comes into play to send professionals on-site to train school administrators and teachers on how to effectively use Net Texts in place of textbooks.
Pottermore, the popular online virtual world based on the bestselling Harry Potter books from JK Rowling, has been several years in the making. This strategy of unleashing and adding new content to the site is in line with the order of the books, and actually functions to engage existing fans chronologically while aging up with new ones.
This week, Pottermore announced new updates to the site and new material from the third book in the series. The company also informed subscribers that it would be sending email updates when new content was added. One of the important updates to the site will be the ability for fans to visit content in any order they choose, no longer requiring users to complete leveled tasks in order to open content. This gives more freedom over the interaction with the wizarding world.
Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne spoke to The Bookseller about the revamp of the site, and made a very forward-thinking confession about the interactivity: “As it stands, if you don’t know the books you won’t get much out of it. What we want to do is open it out for those people who haven’t read the books, or who haven’t seen the films, but perhaps come to it via the Lego, or the Harry Potter computer games.”
Beyond just the interactive fun and new features that the site brings to fans, Pottermore has practically become its own franchise within the Harry Potter franchise. Along with its CreateMore site that is reaching out to other established entities like The Guinness Book of World Records to create similar fan environments, Pottermore has a presence with Sony Wonderbook, Playstation Home, and Sony 3D platforms to bring the experience to different game users in different approaches. Of course, the Pottermore site remains the exclusive portal for sales of the ebook editions of all of the Harry Potter titles, a testimony to the foresight Rowling had for everything involving her boy wizard.
While US consumers enjoy the variety and selection of titles and platforms for their digital reading, a handful of companies are actually doing well by expanding globally, bringing content and options to international markets. One such company, South Africa-based Snapplify, is doing more than just creating content for those markets, but is also focused on bringing that content to globally-minded US readers.
GoodEReader spoke with Snapplify’s CEO Wesley Lynch this week about what considerations are in place for customers, both stateside and abroad, for reading on the company’s new ePub3-compatible application, which now supports Arabic and Hebrew.
“We’re a little bit more than just the reader,” explained Lynch, “because we enable the in-app and out-of-app purchases, while handling the revenue collection for our clients. All of the revenue generated by African apps we have, from content produced and owned in Africa, provides a quick look at the revenue and where it’s coming from. We really are planning this global space. There’s a huge demand for niche content, but a lot of these niches are enormous.
“A lot of our clients are here with Egyptian content, and we do a lot of Arabic in ePub and PDF since foreign language has been big for us. There’s a huge demand for that content in foreign markets that aren’t easily accessible in languages.”
One of the areas of content that has been huge for Snapplify is in children’s content, especially from consumers living abroad who still want their children to have access to the childhood stories from their native countries.
“We see a lot in children’s literature, particularly in Indian content, from consumers who want their kids to read content that they grew up on, even when living abroad. The question was have to address is not how many tablets are there in Kenya, but how many Kenyans are there not in Kenya?”
Lynch’s statement might seem overreaching, but his sales data shows that this niche content really is making its way outside of the ebooks’ original geographic borders. While Snapplify estimates that 30% of the revenue generated on titles published in Africa comes from within the continent, the US is the next largest market for that same material, with 20% of sales on African content being bought by consumers living in the US.
“The moment you are displaced from your country, you become far more patriotic and you cling to your culture. There’s a greater demand for that content. Outsiders will pay more for the digital version than for the print version, because they can’t get it. There’s a small newspaper publication here that makes more in digital from the US customers than they do in print from their local subscribers. There’s immense opportunity for some of those markets and the demand for that content.”
While Snapplify’s capabilities have been good for foreign consumers, this global publishing reach has also had a strong impact on US consumers, as well as businesses outside the scope of publishing. Lynch recounted how one ebook on a very specific topic, South African wines, sold quite well to US audiences, leading to an increase in interest in vineyards from the area.
“That one publication on South African wines has meant a local vineyard has started exporting to the US due to the popularity of that book. The book sales have done well in the US, because in digital they were able to attract a niche they couldn’t have otherwise reached, but they’ve also seen an increase in wine sales.”
Moving forward, Snapplify will be unveiling a new version of its reader in the app markets within the next few days, as well as continuing its work in academic publishing, specifically in remaining available for low-end Android devices, popular among students in outlying regions for accessibility and affordability.
A lot of the sentiment coming from the defense in the on-going Apple anti-trust lawsuit, brought about by the Department of Justice following a three-year investigation involving five of the largest publishers in the world, is that the DOJ is wasting its time going after a company that was in a distant third place behind Amazon and Barnes and Noble. At the time of the alleged price fixing deals, Amazon controlled 90% of the ebook market. Now, however, reports show that Apple’s place in the ebook business is steadily rising, thanks to the availability of its reading platforms.
From the remaining ten percent of the market that Apple shared with virtually every other retailer except Amazon, Apple now apparently holds about 20% of the ebook market, according to website MacRumors. This market position is great for the iPad manufacturer and iBooks developer, but does seem to make the case for the allegations that the attempt to fix the price of ebooks by insisting on an agency model from the publishers was timed to coincide with the launch of the iPad in 2010.
However, one legitimate reason for future possible growth in Apple’s position is its pending cross-platform capability, something that Amazon and even Nook users have been able to enjoy for some time. Thanks to the Kindle and Nook apps for PC, smartphone, and tablet, Amazon’s and B&N’s customers have been able to read their libraries from virtually any enabled device, while Apple’s reading consumers didn’t have the luxury of reading on a computer. That will change over the coming months, thanks to the iBooks app for Mac, which will roll out with OS X this fall.
According to an article by Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch, the real opportunity for Apple in terms of launching this app for Mac will come from the education realm, where Apple has enjoyed a long-standing history of providing high-quality content on worthwhile devices.
While the coming update does nothing to explain the allegations of substantial e-reading growth that Apple is currently answering for, and while Apple consumers will still be limited to their brand-specific devices for reading, it will provide their consumers another outlet for digital consumption.
When Penguin launched its leveled readers program earlier this year, aimed at providing age- and ability level-appropriate texts for readers of a variety of groups, the successful reception was enough to warrant a new tool for increased literacy. Today, Penguin announced the Penguin Leveled Readers App, available for iOS and already hailed as “New and Noteworthy” in the iOS app store.
According to a press release on the newly launched app, “Each Penguin Young Readers book is assigned a traditional, numbered, easy-to-read level (1-4) as well as a Guided Reading Level (A-P). The traditional leveling system 1-4 was created to satisfy parents and educators who are accustomed to this conventional branding. To further bolster the educational value of this new reader line, Penguin has also added descriptive language to each level: Level 1 = Emergent Reader, Level 2 = Progressing Reader, Level 3 = Transitional Reader, Level 4 = Fluent Reader. In addition, the books are leveled by independent reviewers applying the standards developed by Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell’s Guided Reading system, which is used in classrooms across the country.”
While the app is currently only available for iPhone, iPod, and iPad, one title from each level is currently available for free. The app features engaging narration, but also incorporates the ability for users to record the stories themselves via their devices’ installed microphones.
Tools such as this are released in time to coincide with what many parents and educators fear during the summer months, the dreaded “summer slide.” Educators have often remarked that the first weeks of any new school year are wasted acclimating students to academics and reviewing material that is forgotten over the summer. Programs that encourage reading while providing appropriate content for consumption on fun devices can prevent some of the loss prior to the start of a new school year.
Information for parents, educators, and readers on the leveled reading app can be found at penguinyoungreaders.com, and comes complete with book recommendations and curriculum guides for its titles.
As with other authors who held on to their digital rights well past the publication of their print titles, Audrey Niffenegger, bestselling author of the seven million-plus copy 2003 title The Time Traveler’s Wife, announced that she will finally release the ebook of her bestseller through Zola Books.
As the keynote speaker at the TLC literary conference, Niffenegger said, “I can see from history that the ebook [as a medium], while currently a little clunky and weird, is inevitably going to be gorgeous, so I kept the ebook to myself. For a long time I was getting a reputation as this weird book luddite, but what I was doing was preserving my ebook virginity. The Time Traveler ebook sat around not being used for much of anything for what seemed like a long time, because everyone was pestering me for it. All my publishers were like: ‘So, let’s have it,’ and I just did that thing where you don’t answer your email.”
GoodEReader partnered with Zola earlier this year on a giveaway of the ebook prequel to the bestselling Warm Bodies (Atria),a zombie take on Romeo & Juliet by Isaac Marion. So what prompted Niffenegger to choose to work with relative newcomer Zola Books on the long-awaited release of her book? The author has a long standing professional relationship with Zola’s founder, Joe Regal, who happened to be Niffenegger’s literary agent.
“He wanted to bring a community of readers, authors and publishers – everyone involved – get them together and get them aligned, so they were functioning as an ecosystem rather than everyone trying to eat each other,” said Niffenegger. “So I said to little Zola, you can have the Time Traveler ebook, and I will write a sequel for you.”
Much like Marion’s prequel, which provided some insight into what caused the widespread disease in his zombie novel, Niffenegger’s sequel will give readers an exclusive look at a key element from her work. The 30-page e-short will tell the story of Alba, Henry and Claire’s time traveling daughter.
The Apple anti-trust lawsuit continues this week in New York, where Judge Denise Cote is hearing evidence from the Department of Justice that alleges Apple was the key figure in an ebook price fixing scheme to level the playing field for its then-new iPad and iBookstore. At that time, Amazon controlled ninety percent of the ebook market, something which several of the publishers seemed all too happy to help reduce.
But according to testimony from the HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray and Macmillan CEO John Sargent, it doesn’t appear as though the publishers had much of a choice.
Murray took the stand to discuss HarperCollins’ role, first explaining that the publisher’s parent company, NewsCorp, had a lot to do with the decision, since it has a strong relationship with Apple. Murray explained that he attempted to negotiate some key aspects of Apple’s terms, such as the “author out” clause that would prevent certain bestsellers from being sold under the new agency model.
“I thought the best chance of me getting good terms with Apple was if I was able to engage Amazon or Barnes & Noble in a conversation at the same time, and both of them had told me they were not ready to begin a discussion,” said Murray.
“If I was making this decision at this point in time for only HarperCollins, I would not sign the deal. I would have waited and continued to negotiate.”
According to DOJ attorneys, the publishers were pretty much caught in the middle between Apple’s demands and the terms that were already established with Amazon. Their options were to sign Apple’s terms or continue to let Amazon outsell other sources.
For his part, Sargent was called to the stand to answer questions about meetings he had in 2010 with both Amazon and Apple, sometimes in the same day, but Sargent dismissed the importance of those meetings. He will return to the stand for further questioning.
Book review and discovery site TheReadingRoom is a comprehensive portal for readers to discover, share, and buy new titles. This growing site already boasts a catalog of over seven million book records, and through the connectivity of the incorporated social media tools, opportunities to find new titles within selected genres is even greater.
One of the more interesting things that the site offers is the chance to form and join virtual book clubs, either private or public. For the summer months, TheReadingRoom has created a summer reading list of bestselling titles for 2013, a comprehensive list that covers a wide variety of genres and interests. These titles are by both well-known and debut authors, which lends a good mix to the list.
“This year’s summer reading list represents a perfect example of what we do best at TheReadingRoom.com. Indeed, discoverability, browsability and curation are key to our offering to members,” explained Kim Anderson, CEO of TheReadingRoom.com, in a press release. “Just as the curator of an art gallery curates its collection, so, too, does our site carefully select books to showcase to our members, ensuring that our readers can discover new authors and hidden gems, in much the way traditional bookstore windows and counter displays worked in the past.”
The titles featured on this summers’ list include:
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Disclafani
The Curiosity by Stephen P Kiernan
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
My Notorious Life by Kate Manning
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
A complete list of titles and blurbs on each book can be found on the site’s blog or by clicking HERE.