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The Chinese still believe in ereaders – Hanvon show their next ereader to the world

Don’t despair, dedicated ereaders are still being developed.

I came across this story on The Digital Reader blog just now, and am feeling rather comforted by it, as lately I had begun to wonder if the entire world was moving over to an endless series of Android Tablets, rather than real purpose built ereaders for us to read our ebooks on.

Happily it seems that I might be wrong in  this assumption, as Hanvon, one of the biggest makers of ereaders in the world, who have the greater part of the enormous and growing Chinese ereader market for themselves to all intents and purposes are announcing new models that will appear in the course of this year.

I know, so often this sort of announcement turns out to be vapour ware, but Hanvon have a good record of actually producing the ereaders they promise us, so we shall see.

Not much information yet……..

So far not much is known about this ereader, but it seems to be pretty much the same as the olderN516 model, so, to give you an idea of what to expect, here are the specs for the N516 ereader:-

So I assume that for the main part the B516 will be much as the N516, but presumably with a number of improvements, reflecting the advances that have occurred since the launch of the N516.

Price: Absolutely no idea yet, sorry.

This video gives us some indications about how it will be….  so sit back and watch.


So there is still life in the dedicated ereader world it would seem, which pleases me a lot.

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Any thoughts on this announcement?


iBooks fails to set e-book world on fire

If the iPad was supposed to be a magic bullet for e-books, why hasn’t iBooks made more of a splash in the e-book market? Jason Bennett asks the question in an entry on Melville House Publishing’s blog, pointing to the much higher Kindle (24%) than iPad 1 (13%) ownership among those waiting in line to buy an iPad 2, and Apple’s overall cageyness about iBooks sales in its quarterly report.

Apple certainly hasn’t seen fit to go to some of the lengths Amazon or Barnes and Noble have for providing more avenues of sale for their books. There is as yet no desktop e-book reader for iBooks books, for instance. (Indeed, since iBooks requires OS 4, it’s not even compatible with all the Apple handheld devices that Amazon and B&N’s apps support—I can read a Kindle or Nook book on my 1st-generation iPod Touch, but I’ll never read an iBook there.)

For all that we have Apple in large part to blame for the agency pricing that now infects the e-book industry, they haven’t seemed to do much with it—except produce the fairly ominous pronouncement that all apps with content stores (which presumably includes e-book stores) are going to have to kick in a 30% cut to Apple. And that means Apple is effectively going to kick those stores out of its platform, making it that much less attractive to future would-be purchasers who already have an investment in Kindle or Nook books.

I find iBooks to be a pretty enough e-book reading app, for the EPUBs I’ve purchased elsewhere—but I would never buy an e-book from them. Not when I can read Kindle and Nook ones in so many other places. I wonder if Apple has any idea just how much it’s going to harm its devices’ market when it kicks the other stores out.


World Tech Update, April 21, 2011|Lastest Ipad News]

World Tech Update, April 21, 2011
On World Tech Update this week, Apple alleges that Samsung copied the iPad, RIM's BlackBerry Playbook goes on sale, robots go where humans can't at the crippled nuclear power plant in Japan, Google lets U,S. users customize maps, and Kohler debuts a tech-filled toilet.
Read more on PC World


Cory Doctorow: How to get people to pay for content in a free digital world

doctorow_150x2241[1]Cory Doctorow’s latest column on The Guardian talks about ways to convince people to pay for “legitimate” products rather than downloading free versions off the Internet. He points out that many companies are trying to fight piracy using mostly sticks, when in fact that carrots would work better in some cases.

In the article, Doctorow examines the pros and cons of each method—some good, some bad—and how content creators are succeeding or failing at applying them. The methods include:

  • Buy this or you’ll get in trouble
  • Buy this because it’s the right thing to do
  • Buy this because you’re supporting something worthwhile
  • Buy this because paying money will deliver high quality
  • Buy this because it’s convenient
  • Buy this because your devices won’t play the unauthorized version
  • Buy this and you’ll get more features than you would with the unauthorized version

In a lot of these methods, even when publishers, labels, or studios try them, they tend to have a hard time getting them right. For instance, the “high quality” legitimate DVDs frequently include some pretty strong negatives such as unskippable trailers or commercials, and “high quality” legitimate computer games often include DRM that messes with your computer.

And “convenient” can be problematic too for media such as e-books that fall under regional licensing restrictions so are not available to large parts of the world—while illicit pirated versions are.

One thing Baen is doing right is the “supporting something worthwhile” aspect. Quite apart from the DRM-free, inexpensive nature of their e-books (which gets into the “high quality” aspect), they also host a community forum where many of their authors choose to participate in discussions with readers. This puts a human face on the authors, and makes readers that much more likely to want to buy their books—it’s one thing to stiff some faceless writer somewhere, but another to do it to someone you consider an acquaintance or friend. (Non-Baen authors who blog or social network do this, too.) Mike Masnick at Techdirt calls this the “CWF+R2B” formula: Connect With Fans, and give them a Reason 2 Buy.

You do catch more flies with honey. Content producers might do a lot better at fighting piracy if they focused on giving consumers a quality product that would not make it harder for people to enjoy something they’ve paid for than something they went and got for free.


Flat World Knowledge launches platform for customizable digital textbooks

Screen shot 2011 04 19 at 9 36 13 AM

From the press release:

Flat World Knowledge, the largest publisher of free and open college textbooks for students worldwide, today announced the release of a new platform called MIYO (Make It Your Own). The fully-automated system gives professors greater control over textbook content, and the ability, with one click, to make their modified book available to students free online or in multiple, low-cost digital and print formats.

MIYO (mee-oh) transforms a static textbook into an adaptable learning platform by combining a digital-first architecture with Flat World’s open licensing model that grants faculty the right to revise, remix and share its textbooks.

“Unlike legacy publishing systems, MIYO gives professors the freedom to change what they don’t like in a text, and add the things they’ve always wanted to help them achieve their teaching objectives,” said Eric Frank, president and co-founder of Flat World Knowledge.

The new system uses familiar drag-and-drop and click features that allow instructors to easily move or delete chapters and sections; upload Word and PDF documents; add notes and exercises; insert video and hyperlinks; edit sentences; and incorporate other content that is free to reuse under a Creative Commons open license.

Once a professor’s changes are saved, MIYO automatically reformats and publishes the new version in multiple formats without any human intervention. Contributors’ edits are identified and highlighted. In future releases, instructors will have the ability to mix titles from Flat World’s catalog. Planned for later this year, they will be able to make their derivatives available to faculty outside their institution.

Flat World’s open textbook model gives students the choice to read a free web-hosted book or buy low-cost formats that fit their learning style and budget.  Softcover books, e-books for the iPad or Kindle, audio books, print-it-yourself PDF downloads and interactive study aids are available for or less at their bookstore or through the publisher.

DRM-free (digital rights management) digital files can be freely transferred from device to device, and never expire, so students have access to their textbooks anytime, anywhere.

No more textbook tradeoff

“With a traditional textbook, I always struggle with how much I follow the book and how I want to teach the course—it’s a tradeoff,” said Eric Malm, assistant professor of economics and business administration at Cabrini College, near Philadelphia. “Flat World lets me add my own analysis to the material, so now the book’s a living case study of everything we discuss in class. And I’m more confident that students read it because they can afford it.”

Ross Gittell, professor of management at the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School of Business & Economics, and two colleagues, created their own version of Exploring Business by Karen Collins by writing chapters on sustainability and business and public policy—critical issues in contemporary business that didn’t appear in the original text.

For a leadership and supervision course, Dr. Rita Quinton, associate vice president of Daytona State College, selected topics from chapters in Principles of Management, bundled them for her students, and developed quizzes and activities.

“It’s great to be able to build a textbook based on the learning outcomes for the course,” said Dr. Quinton. “The material is relevant and the students love having all the format choices.”

Open source software: the brain behind the book

In designing MIYO, the development team, led by Jon Williams, chief technology officer, took advantage of open source software to enable full editing capabilities without the limitations found in other customization systems.

Williams and team solved a major dilemma in textbook publishing —what happens to the professor’s customized book when the author makes updates?

“We figured out how to create a ‘live edition’ of a book so authors and professors will always be in lockstep,” said Williams, who was formerly CTO for iVillage, a division of NBC Universal, and Kaplan Test Prep and Admission.  “Now, if professors want to integrate authors’ changes, they can, without redoing their edits.”

Instructors can edit from any browser, without downloading a proprietary editing tool, and instantly see how their changes will look when the book is printed, downloaded or viewed online. The edited books are then stored in an XML repository that allows for searching any part of the text in milliseconds, versus opening up an entire book file each time.

Contributors’ modifications are captured in a reportable format which provides authors with valuable feedback on how faculty and students are actually using their books. As a result, authors are better equipped to make changes to new editions.

“MIYO redefines what a textbook is and can be,” said Williams. “And it gives us the framework to continuously improve our customers’ experience with our products and bring new efficiencies to our business—key factors to our future growth.”

To date, nearly one third of Flat World’s faculty adopters have customized their textbooks. The company expects that 50 percent or more will make use of MIYO during the next academic year.


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World of Goo oozes onto iPhones|Lastest Ipad News]

World of Goo oozes onto iPhones
And it's selling for an introductory price of just 99 cents! But if you already bought the iPad version, you'll be glad to know it's newly iPhone-compatible. Originally posted at iPhone Atlas
Read more on CNET


The Really Tiny Book Light – the smallest booklight in the world

A real midget of a book light…… But powerful!

I have just been given what has to be the smallest ebook light I have come across  so far, the Really Tiny Book Light – as it is perfectly accurately called.   This little light which comes in a whole range of colours, seems to be a perfect reading light for all us ereader owners.  It is, as its name suggests, very small, about 10 cms long, made of a sort of soft feeling plastic and has one LED as its light source.

It is manufactured by a British company called rather charmingly The Company Called If – how on earth did they come up with this extraordinary name I wonder.

As you can see from the picture,  it simply clips onto your ebook cover (it wont clip onto your ebook directly, it needs you to have some sort of cover), and can have its head adjusted through 90 degrees to give you the best illumination for your ebook screen.   It can’t rotate in any other direction, which might be a problem I suppose, but having tried it out pretty thoroughly on my trusty Sony ereader I have to say that its light is well spread, and doesn’t suffer from the dreaded Hot Spot syndrome that so many ereader lights appear to suffer from.

In fact it isn’t made specifically for ereaders, but having tried it on a normal paper book, I found it not to be really suitable, as it only illuminates the page it is shining onto, so with a paper book one would have to adjust it each time you move from the left hand page to the right hand page – if you see what I mean.   But on an ereader, which effectively only has one page, it is perfect.

Slight problem with batteries:

It only has one drawback in my view, and that is the sort of batteries it uses.   Owing to its size, it isn’t big enough to use AAA batteries, so instead it uses three of those tiny round batteries that one finds powering electric watches, and these can be hard to find.  So it is a good idea to have a small stock of replacements in house, to avoid running out of power and having trouble finding replacement batteries.

The company who make this light, and a whole range of other reading lights and book accessories, do not sell directly to the public (mine came from a book shop in Cebu City – Philippines – called Fully Booked, and cost 499 Pesos), so you will need to either contact the company (link below) to find your nearest supplier, or simply ask around in book shops.

The recommended retail price for this little wonder is about 7 British Pounds by the way.

Available colours:

  • Purple
  • Pink
  • White
  • Green
  • Orange
  • Grey
  • Blue

In passing I would suggest that it is well worth a visit to their website, as they make a very wide range of accessories for reading, some of which are simply superb apparently, and I shall surely be writing more about this company on the coming weeks.

So, here is the link to their website:  http://www.thatcompanycalledif.com/


Adobe wakes to mobile world, Web standards|Lastest Ipad News]

Adobe wakes to mobile world, Web standards
A Creative Suite update that works better with mobile devices and Web standards, combined with some creative iPad apps, shows Adobe's widening horizons. Originally posted at Deep Tech
Read more on CNET


Interview with Eric Frank, Flat World Knowledge, by Sue Polanka

Last week while at ACRL, I moderated a session on the role of the academic library with the adoption of digital textbooks.  Eric Frank, Co-Founder and President of Flat World Knowledge, was on the panel.  We had a chance to talk afterward about the Flat World Knowledge product and business model and the future of the digital textbook.  Eric’s interview and 30+ others are available on the interviews page.

Original audio source (frank.mp3)
Via Sue Polanka’s No Shelf Required
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