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App Review: Smart AudioBook Player for Android
January 26, 2015 | 11:11 am

smart audiobook playerIt finally dawned on me late last year that Overdrive MP3 audio books are DRM-free. Yes, I'd known that fact on some level, but I still listened to the books in the Overdrive app, which is okay but not great. Plus it often takes me longer than three weeks to finish an audiobook, so I was only checking out short ones (less than 10 hours). Once I processed the implications of DRM-free audio books (Hooray! I can check out long books!), I started looking for an audiobook player app and found Smart AudioBook Player. It has great reviews and offers a...

Morning Links: Is Internet Addiction Real? Science of science fiction?
January 26, 2015 | 9:00 am

science fictionIs Internet Addiction Real? (GigaOM) The stories are numerous, yet extreme, and thus widely covered. You’ve probably heard at least a few. *** Spotify for Books: Authors and Publishers May Constrain the Rise of e-book Subscriptions (The Economist) The record companies tolerate music-streaming services like Spotify, which pay them only modest fees, because the alternative is a continued rise in music piracy—on which they earn nothing at all. However, piracy of e-books is not such a problem... *** Does the Science of Science Fiction Matter? (Book Riot) I love Neil deGrasse Tyson, so believe me when I say upfront that this isn’t a criticism of him–it’s just...

Burns Night burning a poet into a nation’s memory
January 25, 2015 | 8:44 pm

Burns Night, held on January 25th every year to commemorate the memory of Robert Burns, has succeeded in identifying a single poet with a whole nation more than perhaps any other country on earth. How? Well, they began soon after the poet's death in 1796, informally among hs friends and acquaintances, but then on a more organized basis after the meeting of "nine gentlemen of Ayr," at the poet's birthplace in 1801, when a haggis formed part of the meal in his memory. The first established Burns Club, the Alloway Burns Club, formed as a result of this dinner, and the Greenock...

UK National Literacy Trust appoints Frank Lampard as reading ambassador
January 25, 2015 | 2:48 pm

UK NGO the National Literacy Trust has appointed Frank Lampard, star footballer and currently mid-fielder for Manchester City Football Club, as a new ambassador for the Trust, "supporting our ongoing work to raise the profile of literacy in the UK and motivate disadvantaged children to read – an ambition he shares in his work as an author." Lampard said: "I am delighted to take up the role as an ambassador for the National Literacy Trust and help to further their work in supporting disadvantaged children across the UK to discover the joy of reading and develop their literacy skills. Reading should be a...

Weekend Links: Don’t blame readers for book devaluing. Oscar movie piracy
January 25, 2015 | 9:52 am

oscar movie piracyDon’t Blame Readers If Books Are Being “Devalued” (Book Riot) If you hang out on the bookternet at all, you have no doubt seen one or more pearl-clutching declarations that books are losing their value–especially ebooks, which you can get for as little as NINETY-NINE CENTS (omg)–which is putting literature in great peril. *** Analysis Of Pirated Oscar Movies Shows They're Almost All Available... In HD (And Not From Screeners) (Techdirt) There are some interesting findings in the data, including that screener copies don't matter much any more. *** This Explains Why No Men Were Using Pinterest (GigaOM) If you ever wondered why Pinterest took off...

UK prison book ban (that wasn’t) withdrawn
January 24, 2015 | 2:46 pm

GraylingThe notorious policy introduced by UK Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary of restricting access to books for prisoners in England has been withdrawn after December's court decision that it was unlawful - despite the insistence by its instigator that there never was such a policy in the first place. But not before Grayling's department spent £72,000 trying to defend it, a recent report revealed. Frances Crook, CEO of the Howard League for Penal Reform, which co-led the Books for Prisoners campaign against the ban, described this to the UK Independent as: “a scandalous waste of public money." At the time of the original...

Size matters, as tablet makers go for the big time
January 24, 2015 | 12:25 pm

hp-pro-slate-12-800x420News has emerged of several tablet manufacturers targeting the mega-device space, with HP announcing an Android Pro Slate design with a 12.3-inch screen. According to the original HP announcement, the HP Pro Slate 12 and its little brother the HP Pro Slate 8 are: high-definition (HD) commercial-grade Android tablets. Available in 8-inch or 12-inch diagonal displays respectively, the tablets are powered by a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 800 series processor, and support a 4:3 aspect ratio to easily view business documents and access business applications. Less than 8 mm thin, these lightweight tablets offer powerful computing and business-day battery life with enterprise-grade security and...

The K-12 and economic cases for a national digital library endowment
January 24, 2015 | 11:00 am

President Obama wants expanded broadband, as indicated in his State of the Union address---a laudable goal. But what to use it for, beyond such purposes as, say, the faster downloading of YouTubes? Here's the latest version of LibraryCity’s call for a national digital library endowment and intertwined public and academic library systems online. Short of time? Read an executive summary. – D.R. The average 15-to-19-year-old in the U.S. spends only six minutes a day reading for fun, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What’s more, a just-released report from Scholastic, discussed later in this commentary, warns that the number of...

Qualcomm goes bats with ultrasound digital pen technology
January 23, 2015 | 6:25 pm

The recent HP announcement of the debut of its HP Pro Slate Android tablets included the detail that they would come bundled with the HP Duet Pen, "the first to use Qualcomm Snapdragon digital pen technology on both a tablet and regular paper." For a stylus buff like me, any news about new digital pen technologies is interesting, and this Qualcomm innovation looks to be one of the more striking wheezes to break cover lately. According to Qualcomm's technology partner on the new device, GlobalLogici, the Qualcomm Snapdragon Digital Pen "represents the next generation of the stylus popular with tablet devices. With the size...

Sad news for Egmont as US operation closes without buyer
January 23, 2015 | 4:25 pm

Sad to say, Egmont Publishing has had to close its US business after trying but failing to find a buyer. The official Egmont statement said: Egmont Publishing, which at $900 million is the largest division in the Denmark-based Egmont group, employing 2,400 people across 30 countries, has a new strategic focus, which is to invest in books and magazine businesses where Egmont can hold a leading market position. One of the outcomes has been the decision to exit the standalone position in the US market, which they entered in 2008. Attempts to sell Egmont USA since October 2014 have not resulted in...

Lovecraft eZine’s Mike Davis talks about his platform, and cosmic horror
January 23, 2015 | 2:25 pm

Mike Davis, founder and editor of the highly regarded Lovecraftian free online magazine Lovecraft eZine, and its various associated properties, spoke to me about his new small press venture, Lovecraft eZine Press, and overall conditions in the current cosmic/Lovecraftian horror cosmos. Teleread: How do you see Lovecraft eZine Press fitting alongside the many other fine small and independent presses in the dark fiction and horror areas? Mike Davis: I'm not a competitive person by nature, so I see the new Lovecraft eZine Press as complimentary to them. Small press is a tough gig. It's hard to make money at it, and I know...

Robert E. Howard’s legacy: A little comparison of “popular” versus “serious”
January 23, 2015 | 12:25 pm

In honor of Robert E. Howard's birthday, here's a little demonstration and an attempt at a quantification of what his legacy as a popular/pulp/genre/trash writer means. And an object lesson in how many people you can reach, how many dreams you can touch - and how much wealth creation you can enable - by sipping at the poison chalice of popularity. Let's take two writers born roughly the same time, one "popular," one "serious," and their most successful single property. I'm going to focus on one Howard creation only: Conan. (Never mind the Solomon Kane movie and other offshoots.) And in...