Apps

App Delivers Books in Easy-to-Digest, Bite-Size Chunks for Busy People

12 March 2014

From Re/Code:

Finding time to sit down with a good book is challenging when you’re constantly faced with work deadlines, taking care of your kids or just dealing with life in general. But a new service called Rooster is looking to fix that by delivering novels in short installments that can easily be read during your commute, a coffee break or whenever you have a free moment in your schedule.

Launching today on iOS for $4.99 per month, Rooster sends subscribers two books every month — one contemporary novel and one classic — split into sections that can be read in as little as 15 minutes. Users set their own schedule for when the next installment arrives on their iPhone or iPad (for example, every morning before your commute to work). But you’re also free to continue reading the next section if you have extra time. It’s a modern take on the serialized fiction format that was made famous by the likes of Charles Dickens and Alexandre Dumas.

Link to the rest at Re/Code and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

The tablet magazine ship is sinking. Fast.

16 December 2013

From GigaOm:

 I was certainly not the first to proclaim the death of the tablet magazine, the now universally recognized and unequivocal data pointing to the steep decline of print-replica apps is becoming undeniable.

What’s even worse news for magazine publishers who have chosen either a PDF-based or Adobe InDesign-led “Plug-In” app solution in a race to cash in on Apple’s Newsstand is the damning evidence of Apple’s lack of support…and frankly, interest in the Newsstand app itself.

Once the “holy grail” for magazine publishers, promising front-and-center exposure for their periodicals, the Newsstand app in iOS 7 has become almost irrelevant.

As pointed out by Hamish Mckenzie from Pandodaily:

“…there is now no visual reminder within the Newsstand icon that there are publications inside, waiting to be read. On top of that, in iOS7 users can now hide the Newsstand icon inside a folder. The once-special treatment that Apple gave publishers in order to encourage the distribution of magazines to the iPhone and iPad has apparently vanished, at least in terms of visual prominence.”

. . . .

The Newsstand and tablet magazine honeymoon is over. Apple knows it. The industry knows it. And consumers have made it painfully clear for far too long.

Link to the rest at GigaOm

Reading on the Clock

12 November 2013

From the Page-Turner blog at The New Yorker:

When I was assigned to read “Anna Karenina” during the summer before my senior year of high school, I had no idea how long it would take. Daunted by its length, and by the challenge of telling my Alexei Alexandroviches from my Alexei Kirilloviches, I put off reading it and put off reading it until, by the end of August—having only reached the beginning of Anna and Vronsky’s affair—I knew I wouldn’t be near finished by the time school started up again.

This “miscalculation” was mainly the result of procrastination, but also maybe the tiniest bit a problem of technology: back then, in the pre-digital age, physical books had a somewhat vague relationship to time. If you were a lazy teen-ager with an eight-hundred-and-fifty-page tome to get through, this nebulousness could work against you. It could also provide one of reading’s greatest pleasures: the feeling of getting so sucked into a fictional world that when you finally looked up from your book, dazed, you’d lost all sense of how much time had passed.

As we’ve transitioned from print to screens, we’ve started clocking how long reading takes: Kindles track the “time left” in the books we’re reading; Web sites like Longreads and Medium include similar estimates with their articles (total reading time for “Anna Karenina”: eighteen hours and twenty-two minutes); in June, Alexis Ohanian, a co-founder of Reddit, published a book with a stamp on the cover advertising it as a “5 hour read.” These features all feel a bit dystopian, like things Gary Shteyngart might have invented for his futuristic äppärät devices in “Super Sad True Love Story”; if Jonathan Franzen’s next novel gets stamped with a “10 hour read” label, it will confirm all his worst suspicions about what’s wrong with the modern world. But the fact is that little of what we read on the Web today is formatted in discrete pages, so it seems logical that, as reading online continues to supplant reading in print, hours and minutes will become increasingly useful units for measuring our progress.

. . . .

Apps like QuickReader, for example, use a highlighter mark that readers follow with their eyes as it moves from phrase to phrase at a designated speed. Apps like ReadQuick employ a technique called Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (R.S.V.P.), displaying one or several words at a time in a fixed position at the center of the screen. Both of those apps allow you to control the speed, and to upload reading material from Web sites (mostly books for QuickReader, articles for ReadQuick), effectively transforming texts into adjustable word metronomes. At least one app, Acceleread, includes both the highlighter and R.S.V.P. techniques, and an interactive training course. At high speeds, both tools are mentally taxing, though R.S.V.P.—which allows readers to keep their eyes completely still, eliminating the time-consuming process of scanning them across the page and “fixating” on individual words—is also strangely passive; more than one person I’ve let sample ReadQuick has remarked that it feels a little like watching TV. (You can watch a demo of the app here.)

Link to the rest at The New Yorker

Booktrack Lets You Add Soundtrack to Self-Published eBooks.

18 October 2013

From Media Bistro:

“Want to add a sound track to your self-published book? Check out, Booktrack, a new app that will let you add music or sound effects to your eBook.

“The application is available for iOS devices and as a Chrome app. You can use it to record audio tracks and then insert them into your text. Once you do so, you can export the files to sell the title within the Booktrack community where you can also shop for books with sound effects.”

Read the rest here:  APPNEWSER

Julia Barrett

App data company App Annie expands into ebook analytics for publishers and authors

9 October 2013

From GigaOm:

Authors and publishers need to know how and where their books are selling in order to target readers and time promotions. Yet keeping track of and analyzing all the data that comes in from retailers like Amazon and Apple can be difficult, especially for publishers with large lists of books.

App Annie, a San Francisco-based company that provides app developers and publishers with analytics about app sales, rankings and trends, aims to solve the problem by automating aggregation and analysis of ebook sales in the same way it has for apps. (In the app world, it’s become a leading provider of that type of analysis: The company says that over 300,000 app publishers, including 90 percent of the top 100 grossing iOS publishers, use its tools.)

App Annie plans to announce Tuesday that it’s expanding into ebook analytics. It will provide publishers with two free products: An Analytics tool that lets publishers track sales and download data from the Kindle Store and the iBookstore into one dashboard, and a “Store Stats” tool that lets them view ebook market trends across a database of about a million titles.

. . . .

“We’ve spent the last few months with major book publishers and influential writers, asking them about how they understand their data,” Oliver Lo, App Annie’s VP of marketing, told me. In general, the company found, publishers download their data from ebook retailers and aggregate it in Excel. But analyzing the data correctly can require “some Excel genius in the company,” and even publishers who have such a person or team likely find the process time-consuming.

Link to the rest at GigaOm and thanks to L for the tip.

What the Barnes & Noble news is really telling us about the future of digital content

1 July 2013

From Digital Book World:

Wow, it’s been quite a week for Barnes & Noble and the industry at large.

B&N got hammered—not only on the numbers, but on the optics as well. They are out of the tablet business (smart), but the drain on their bottom line was significant, and they’re facing a triple whammy with high overhead, no big blockbusters to make up for last year’s 50 Shades of Hunger, and little consensus on the most viable way forward.

Most people in one way or another are asking if the nation’s only remaining bricks & mortar chain bookseller is going to be around in five years.

. . . .

[I]s B&N really the counterbalance to Amazon as was suggested when Microsoft took a stake in Nook? What is the technology lifespan of stand-alone readers as a category generally? Is this a transitional technology? (I think it is.) Finally, when we expand our perspective to the global marketplace, what does the explosive growth of mobile mean for the future of publishing? Are we prepared?

. . . .

Mobile penetration in developed nations is around 128 percent of the population. (The Americas-109%; Europe-126%; the states of the former Soviet Union-170%.) This means market growth is being driven by demand in developing world, particularly in India, China, and Africa.

Here in the US we have a mobile device in our hands pretty much all of the time, which is starting to impact how we discover and relate to all kinds of content.

In the study I edit with Bowker Market Research, Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer in the Digital Age, our most recent findings show that while in-store and traditional browser-based book purchasing remained relatively stable between January 2012 and February 2013, stand-alone e-reader book purchases fell from 6% to <1%, while in-app purchases grew from 1% to 7% in the same period.

. . . .

This means all of our traditional ideas about how our customers interact with our online content—visiting an author’s website, doing online research, following bloggers, or browsing online sites—is going to change.

If we’re heading into a mobile app-driven world, and away from discovery via publishing establishments like B&N, what is the game-plan?

Is it creating stand-alone apps for single books or properties that we set adrift in the wide Sargasso Sea that is the app store?

What about pinning our hopes to customers buying and reading on their Kindle mobile app, or via the iBookstore especially when we have no ownership over those customers or their behavioral data?

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Ebook App Creation Demystified: A Case Study

8 May 2013

From Digital Book World:

In digital publishing today, storybook app creation is still a niche. Compared to printed books, creating book apps is in its infancy and still chartering the road “less traveled by” to borrow the words of Robert Frost – and at Wasabi Productions, we believe it can and will make “all the difference.”

Clearly, we aren’t the only ones who think so as this nascent industry is teeming with innovative app creation (especially for children). Device adoption is exploding in both homes and schools – this year, International Data Corporation (IDC) said it expects the tablet market to reach “a new high” of 190 million shipped units, with year-on-year growth of 48.7%, while the smartphone market is expected to grow 27.2% to 918.5 million units. Device variety and price points are also diversifying, and their ubiquity and storytelling potential mean that apps won’t be the marginal choice for digital publishing for very long.

. . . .

[W]e have created a case study detailing our experience in creating for this emerging industry, which, if predictions are to be believed, is the trend to watch in 2013 and beyond.

. . . .

The first step in creating a children’s book is platform agnostic – creation of a story. The author, in our case Graham Nunn, needs creative inspiration and workshops the idea into a script. Once the story is created, the process of making an app diverges from that of other kinds of content creation. Rather than an image of a distanced author developing his idea in isolation, storybook apps are fundamentally collaborative. Early on, Nunn is discussing his idea with the team and providing reference images while building a storyboard rough (draft). The storyboard rough has information on sound effects and interactions page-by-page to accompany the words and it begins visualizing user interface decisions, such as how navigation works (after creating a few apps, we’ve developed a familiar user interface format that our books use, but this is always evolving to ensure it’s optimized for each app).

A timeless, well-written story is critical for all children’s literature but since books on a touch screen device have the added dimension of reader interaction, you need more than just great words. Someone has to decide what those interactions are going to be and when this person is the author, these can be more integral to the narrative–not forced into the scope of a completed story by someone else.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

New Kindle App for the Blind and Partially Sighted

7 May 2013

From The Bookseller:

A new Kindle app from Amazon will help blind and partially sighted people to access 1.5m titles.

The app works with the in-built magnification and speech functions of iPhones, iPads and some other Apple devices, while also creating an electronic Braille display.

. . . .

Fazilet Hadi, the director of inclusivity at the RNIB, said: “This fantastic breakthrough from Amazon means that people with sight loss can now read the 1.5m titles in the Kindle store. RNIB helped Amazon by getting feedback from blind and partially sighted people who tested early versions of the app.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller and thanks to Diana for the tip.

The Amazon Appstore is Going Global

17 April 2013

From The Amazon Media Room:

Amazon.com, Inc. continued the global expansion of its Appstore today by announcing that developers can now submit their apps for distribution in nearly 200 countries, including Australia, Brazil,Canada, Mexico, India, South Africa, South Korea, and even Papua New Guinea and Vatican City. These apps will be made available in the coming months when the Amazon Appstore for Android launches internationally for consumers.

. . . .

“Amazon’s platform is a complete end-to-end solution for developers wanting to build, market and monetize their apps and games on Kindle Fire and Android devices,” said Mike George, Vice President of Apps and Games at Amazon. “Allowing developers to target distribution of their apps and games in even more international countries is yet another important milestone as we strive to serve consumers and developers globally. Many of our existing developers have localized their apps and games for international consumers, and we look forward to working with new developers that have been waiting to bring their apps to more Amazoncustomers across the globe.”

Link to the rest at The Amazon Media Room

Passive Guy thinks the Kindle Fire will end up going everywhere the Amazon App Store goes.

According to MacStories, Amazon is already selling ebooks in 179 countries:

Amazon

Link to the rest at MacStories

 

ReDigi Responds to Amazon’s Used eBook Patent and Convinces Me That I’ll Never Use Its Service

7 February 2013

From The Digital Reader:

Amazon got a lot of attention earlier this week with news broke that they had been awarded a patent for a “used digital content” marketplace. Many took it to be a sign that Amazon was interested in creating used content market similar to the one they maintain for books, DVDs, and other physical media.

Naturally this has the blogosphere and tech industry intrigued, but no one was more interested than ReDigi. This 2 year old startup has already launched a marketplace where US residents can resell music they bought. It went into a public beta in October 2011, but only currently supports music purchased via iTunes.

. . . .

[From a ReDigi press release]

ReDigi’s advanced technology employs a “Verification Engine” and “Atomic Transaction”, resulting in a TRANSFER ONLY mechanism. This means that all digital goods are first verified to ensure that they are legally eligible for resale.  Once verified, ReDigi’s technology transfers the “original” good from the user’s computer to ReDigi’s Cloud (Marketplace).  With ReDigi’s method, only the “original” good is instantaneously /atomically transferred from seller to buyer without any copies.  ReDigi then assists the seller with an anti-virus like software application that monitors the seller’s computer and synced devices to ensure that any personal-use copies of the sold good are removed.

Just to be clear, ReDigi want to install an app on your computer so they can make sure to delete any copies of a song you sell via their service.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

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