eBooks

Papertrell Aims to Turn Reference Books into Apps

In general, I tend to shy away from the “app-ification” of eBooks. If it’s a book, I want to just sit down and read it. I like eBooks, but I don’t need unnecessary videos, music, etc. However, the exception is reference books, cookbooks, and anything else where it’s not a linear process to read from point A to point B. These books do very well as apps, and the work to create them is often more complex than just digitizing text. Papertrell is the company that works behind the scenes to take a regular book and turn into a reference…


Why Barnes and Noble’s Store Shutdowns Are Not The Real Danger Sign

In the Harry Potter books, Voldemort’s symbol appears above the houses of wizards who have been marked for death. Lately, it seems like Barnes and Noble’s stores have the Dark Mark over them. No matter what the company says or does, the news is always greeted with the same reaction: DOOM! The latest round of “B&N WILL DIE” is due to comments from the company that they plan to downsize their stores from almost 700 to closer to 450 in about ten years. Is this the beginning of the end, or a natural and planned contraction? Will there be a…


Goodbye Spin Magazine After 27 Years

Last summer, after BuzzMedia bought Spin Magazine,  it announced it was cancelling the November / December issue as part of a ‘brand evaluation’. Well … over the holidays we learned that print was NOT in fact part of the ‘moving forward’ plan, and the magazine has been killed off in favor of focusing on online efforts. Interestingly, as shown at the top, the magazine is giving out Car & Driver magazine as a replacement for current subscribers. I was intrigued as to why we were suddenly getting Car & Driver again (I had gotten a free subscription in the past that…


Ways To Read More In 2013 On Any Budget!

  I love books. I know I am slightly biased, being a former bookstore employee, but I like to think that most people like reading books. The hard part is finding books you want to read. Maybe you can’t find the right authors, or books have gotten too pricey, or you haven’t made the leap to ebooks yet…but don’t worry. No matter the obstacle, at Gear Diary we are here to help you make sure your 2013 reading list stays nice and full! Book Discovery: This is the hardest part. Maybe you have a local bookstore you can pop into…


Byook Enhanced eBooks Review

Various developers have been trying since the original iPad to make enhanced and video eBooks a success. There seems to be this impression that books+tablet+video=profit! Yet plain old eBooks have managed to hold their ground quite nicely, leaving the question of whether there’s really a market for a book with video, music, and other bells and whistles. Byook think they can add to the eBook reading experience, and I had the opportunity to test a few of their titles and experience the multimedia eBook for myself! My first Byook was Sherlock Holmes “The Adventure of the Speckled Band”. The Byook…


Are eTextbooks Fully Baked Yet?

Digital textbooks always sound like a great idea on paper. They save money! And children don’t struggle under the weight of giant books! What’s not to like? Well, there’s the medium for reading on them for starters. Kindles crashed and burned on the college level, and while iPads are great, they are also expensive and far more fragile than a spiral bound notebook. Some schools have managed to have pilot iPad and computer based textbook programs successfully, but it still leads to many questions: who pays for the iPads? Do you upgrade them yearly? What about textbook licenses, are they…


Barnes and Noble Finally Steps Up!

Looks like Barnes and Noble finally got the kinks worked out of their eReader/Fictionwise transition! A few days ago I saw reports that the transfer links were finally working properly, and sure enough, clicking through promised me a forthcoming email with more details. This time, the message didn’t come with a side of time travel, so I figured it had to be fairly accurate. Finally, yesterday, I received an email with the promised code, and, miracle of miracles, my eReader account transferred! Here’s what the email said: Dear Fictionwise/eReader Customer, Welcome to Barnes & Noble and NOOK®! You are ready…


Does The Shutdown of “The Daily” Mean Anything For Digital Magazines?

New broke this week that “The Daily”, Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-only newspaper, was being shut down. The four people who read it were probably heartbroken. Sarcasm aside, the real question is whether the death of The Daily is indicative of a larger issue. Businessweek brought this question up, pointing out that Newsweek plans to go all-digital in the shadow of a nasty fall from grace for the competition. At the same time, as Slate points out, an iPad-only newspaper was naturally limited, which probably also hurt The Daily’s chances of survival. Still, The Daily died due to a myriad of reasons,…


Barnes and Noble and the Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Fictionwise Shutdown

The Barnes and Noble transition of Fictionwise and eReader to NOOK has been steadily going from bad to worse. First, they had difficulties moving books to the NOOK platform. Then, a huge swath of customers (including both Judie and I) received an error message that our email addresses were not recognized. The Thanksgiving holiday intervened, but it doesn’t look like anyone has even attempted to fix these errors since last week! I emailed Barnes and Noble last week, and was told “We’re working on it.” Yesterday, my curiosity got the better of me and I tried my initial email and…


Pyle Audio Drums up Partnership with Wiley to Create First Drums for Dummies Kits

For decades now, the ‘For Dummies’ book series has shown itself to be much more than just basic advice on computer and home tasks. I had done a comparative review between an ‘Idiot’s Guide’ and a ‘For Dummies’ book – on music theory, no less – and found both to be excellent resources. Now the publisher Wiley has teamed up with renowned audio product maker Pyle audio to bring drumming to the masses! Pyle has produced two drum kits to meet the needs of users at all levels. There is the tabletop drum kit for $179.99 that features 7 pressure-sensitive…


Barnes and Noble’s Epic Fictionwise and eReader Migration Failure

I am insanely disappointed in Barnes and Noble. Earlier this week, news broke that they were shutting down the long-running eReader.com and Fictionwise.com sites they purchased three years ago, and offering to transition as many books as eligible to matching NOOK accounts. So far, so good. Then, the day after it became big news, they sent out emails with instructions on the transition. Also good. Unfortunately, if you were to follow the instructions in these emails, you would likely see one of two outcomes: a failure to link your email to your eReader/Fictionwise account, or B&N would find your account…


R.I.P., Fictionwise and eReader

This has been a long time coming, but Barnes and Noble is finally putting Fictionwise and eReader out to pasture. They purchased the sites three years ago, and from that purchase the NOOK was born. But now that the NOOK clearly outshines its older siblings, Barnes and Noble apparently feels there isn’t a benefit to maintaining the prior brands. Even though I’ve said for years this makes more sense, it’s still sad to see Fictionwise and eReader disappear. They go back to the days of Palm OS and Peanut Press, and they were truly pioneers of eBook reading. The first…


Powell’s and Kobo Team Up

If you ever find yourself in Portland, Oregon, you must visit Powell's Books. Several years ago, my wife Sarah and I were out that way, and we visited Powell's. Two hours and a huge stack of books later, we finally left. It was just that awesome of a bookstore. Unfortunately, the book industry is moving swiftly towards an ebook future, and Powell's needed a reliable way to hitch on for the ride. They were dumped by Google when Google Books dropped outside vendors, but luckily for Powell's they have a new dance partner: Kobo books! According to Powell's website: At…


Keeping Trick or Treaters Away from Your Home while Scaring Your Kids in the Days of Yore!

What you see before you, gentle reader, is an instrument of torture, a 33 1/2 RPM record euphemistically titled “The language and music of the Wolves – narrated by Robert Redford”, circa 1971. Ostensibly a product of environmental awareness and respect for Nature, it was an excellent tool for acquainting modern America with wolves, which had been nearly hunted to extinction in the lower 48 states. Robert Redford explains and enlightens listeners about the wolf and its habits, raising awareness of the plight of these magnificent creatures. This is all well and good, except for one problem: there is a Side…


Penguin and Random House to Form Franken-Publisher

Now that the Agency Model has been rendered toothless as a way to keep publishers afloat, we’re seeing the next phase in book publishing evolution: mergers! Random House, which was already the biggest publisher in the USA, is buying a controlling stake in Penguin, forming a super-publisher! According to the New York Times: PARIS — Two European media companies, Bertelsmann and Pearson, confirmed Monday that they planned to combine their book publishing divisions, Random House and Penguin. Under the agreement, Bertelsmann, which owns Random House, would control 53 percent of the merged publishers. Bertelsmann and Pearson would share executive oversight,…


Will Newsweek Succeed in Jumping to Digital?

We all know how much the digital change has impacted books, newspapers, and periodicals, but the latest canary in the printing press is a bit of a surprise. Newsweek, yes, the magazine you find in your doctor’s office waiting room, or grab on your way to boarding a plane, is going all digital. This is going to be a huge problem…for doctor’s offices everywhere. Seriously, though, this is big. Newsweek is a major print magazine, so for them to make the jump to a purely digital format that says a lot about the risk in remaining a traditional print publication….


Fastpencil Joins The Local Library

Here’s a question: when’s the last time you went to your local library? Maybe you dropped by and saw they had a promotion about ebooks. Or you stop by once in a while for audiobooks. The last few years, it seems like libraries have been playing catch up as books, movies, and media in general have gone digital. However, a new partnership with Fastpencil and Auto-Graphics is bringing a whole new option to libraries: self-publishing resources and content! I had the chance to talk today with Steve Wilson of Fastpencil and Robert Brown of Auto-Graphics. Fastpencil is a huge self…


Why Did the NOOK HD Get Such a Quiet Announcement?

  Barnes and Noble have been busy this week. First they quietly announce NOOK Video, surprising everyone, and then quietly, in the dead of night, they announced the NOOK HD and NOOK HD+, two extremely well specc’d competitors to the Kindle Fire HD and Fire HD 8.9″. In fact, the hands on reports of the hardware and software indicate both devices are just as good, if not better than, the Fire HD and Nexus 7. So why bury the announcement in the middle of the night, with no fanfare? The only explanation I can think of is NewCo (the NOOK/B&N…


Thumbelina Magic Story for iPad Review

Type of app: Interactive Story Book Platform/where to buy: iPad (Universal); available in the App Store Developer: Oleksandr Pogrebniak Description: A miniature red-headed girl has suddenly appeared from a flower. Her enchanting beauty sways many hearts along her travels. She took a trip on a leaf of a water lily, flew on the back of a swallow, and made friends with the tiniest beings. Colorful montages reflect both joy and sadness within these interactive pages of this app. Thumbelina joins an unusual music performance, singing songs of joy to sunshine and summer flowers. A new friend’s charm vanishes, and is…


When Book People Move

My wife Sarah and I are likely moving in a few months. As a result, we are in a hardcore “kick out the junk” phase, and that means finally dealing with the sheer number of books in our attic. So. Many. Books. My back is less than happy about all the carrying and sorting we did today! The thing about books is that they are really hard to give up. Not just emotionally, but literally. No one wants our books. I called three libraries, and the best answer I received was that the library could take books written less than…


Amazon’s Hardware Announcements Showcase Their Software Advantage

Amazon may only release Kindles once a year, but when they do, it is worth noting. Last year, they rolled out the Kindle Fire, and this year they not only upgraded the Fire line, they also answered the NOOK with Glowlight, addressed head-on their hardware and software priorities, and basically nailed every expectation out there. So what does it all mean? What I found most interesting about yesterday’s announcements were Jeff Bezos’ remarks about hardware. Basically, he said that Amazon isn’t interested in making money on hardware; they want to sell us goods and services. Every device they sell is…