December 29, 2009

Blio from Ray Kurzweil : The REAL Game Changer Ebook Reader?

Is it "move-over time" for Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, et. al.? We've hardly gotten used to you ... but there’s a new e-book technology on the block. Meet Blio, the junior competitor that’s poised to take a bite out of your market.

Ray Kurzweil — who is best known for his 2005 book The Singularity Is Near — has worked extensively in areas such as optical character recognition, speech recognition, and text-to-speech synthesis. His company, Kurzweil Technologies, has a joint venture with the National Federation of the Blind called knfb Reading Technology to create reading products for people with disabilities. knfb Reading is the company that has created Blio.

Blio's official debut will be at the Consumer Electronics show on January 7th, the same time Plastic Logic will introduce their new Que. Apple’s long-rumored tablet is not far behind. But amid all the bells and whistles of current gray-scale technology, the bet is that Blio will steal the show.

Here’s why.

Blio actually lays out the “pages” as they are seen on paper, with typography and illustrations copied across. It also supports video and animation. One of Blio’s major advantages over current e-book readers is that the software offers a full color experience. E Ink, which is the black-and-white display used currently in almost all e-readers, works best for text; even then most e-books still look ugly, due to design limitations in the readers.

In some ways, it’s like the interactive magazine applications (also meant for upcoming tablet devices) shown off by the likes of Time Warner, Bonnier, and Conde Nast.

Blio was born out of a strong digital media partnership. Baker and Taylor, a distributor of paper and digital books and entertainment products, will provide K-NFB Reading Technology with digital content for an e-reader platform developed by Ray Kurzweil and the National Federation of the Blind. As such, it features enhanced text-to-speech capabilities.

In collaboration with Nokia, the reading software is especially designed for their mobile phones to create the smallest text-to-speech reading devices available thus far. But it’s not exclusive to them. Even though it’s a proprietary product of Baker and Taylor, the K-NFB e-reader can run on PC or Mac laptops and desktop computers, as well as netbooks and other mobile phones such as the iPhone, no dedicated device required.

Industry experts such as Mike Shatzkin, CEO of Idea Logical Company and a 40-year publishing veteran thinks Blio has game-changing potential on the business of e-books.

The setup and tool kit for the publishers is without cost; Baker and Taylor plans to make its money on the transactions. They’re wholesaling on whatever the established terms are with that publisher. They will also host and provide e-commerce support to bookstores and publishers who sell direct. There are potential devils in those details but, to start, it is obviously hard for any publisher to resist incremental revenue for no setup cost.

Rest assured you'll see our authors' books on Blio. Kudos are due to Baker and Taylor too!

November 5, 2009

Shortcovers Discovers Predatoress

Irrespective of the name, Shortcovers is anything but short on covers. Actually, it is the ebook distributor and sales channel for Indigo Books and Music, Canada's largest book retailer, operating bookstores in all 10 provinces under the Indigo, Chapters, World's Biggest Bookstore, and Coles names. It also operates, its own online retailer of books, music, movies, and more.

While it has taken a good while, we are proud to be able to announce that our favorite vampire author, Emma Gabor's Predatoress ebook is now available through Shortcovers. They did a great job of turning it into the Adobe ePub format, which seems to be in the process of becoming the de-facto standard for ebooks. Rightly so, in my experience!

Additionally, let's not forget about all the fantastic deals you can get daily via Indigo's Twitter account here....

October 21, 2009

Nooked !

Coverage from Wired's Gadget Lab on the Nook, Barnes and Noble's first e-book reader is VERY positive: "Sleek, stylish and runs Google's Android OS. What's not to like about Barnes and Noble's new e-book reader? Despite the odd name, the Nook looks like an eBook reader that would actually be a worthwhile investment.

Best feature? The ability to loan e-books you have downloaded to other Nook owners.

The reader looks a lot like Amazon's white plastic e-book, only instead of the chiclet-keyboard there is a color multi-touch screen, to be used as both a keyboard or to browse books, cover-flow style. The machine runs Google's Android OS, will have wireless capability from an unspecified carrier, and comes in at the same $260 as the now rather old-fashioned-looking Kindle."

Now, how long has it taken for the Kindle DX to become "rather old-fashioned-looking?" Three months or so? I have a hunch that Nook will be called something similar when Apple's rumored iTablet hits the shelves next year.

Here is the B&N Nook site, which is still not visible on their front page. It still has a few non-working links. See how the comparison page takes dead aim at the Kindle?

Among the advantages in Nook's column you'll find: Wi-Fi, expandable memory via microSD, MP3 player, and PDF compatibility.

However I'm old enough to remember B&N abandoning ebooks once, six years ago. Here is to wish them much more luck this time around!

October 8, 2009

Something IS Flashy in Denmark: The UniFlip Online Flip-page Publisher

UniFlip takes your books, catalogs, magazines, reports as PDF, Word, Powerpoint, and RTF files and publishes them into the Flash multi-media format, that looks like a physical binded book with pages that actually flip!

Your publications do look and read like traditional books and magazines with flip-through pages. The search functions allow your readers to find key words, phrases, or sentences; a convenient index and hyperlinks help them locate information quickly; a zoom function keeps the pages crisp, smooth, and easy to read. Zoooom is really cool!

It requires no software installation - everything takes place online, including distribution via your web site, blog, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Publishing does not get easier than least the production part of it....

Mind you, UniFlip is not free. The price starts at US $79/title up to 4 titles and progressively decreases with your number of titles. We, of course, plan to evaluate it. If it works as advertised, you'll be able to flip-through our ebooks...errrr flipbooks soon.

October 1, 2009

What Is a Vook?

A vook is the latest innovation in reading - from, you guessed right, - that blends a beautifully laid-out book, high-quality video, and the power of the Internet into a single, complete story.

You can read your book and watch videos at the same time, that enhance the story. Plus, you get to connect with authors and your friends through social media all on one screen, without switching between platforms.

Vooks are available in two formats: As a web-based application you can read on your computer and a mobile application for reading on the go. With the web-based application you don't have to download programs or install software. Just open your favorite browser and start reading and watching in an exciting new way. You can also download and install the mobile applications through the Apple iTunes store and sync them with your iPhone or iPod.

Well done, Vook!

P.S. We've contacted them to get our latest and upcoming titles made into "Vooks." I'll report back on our progress.

September 6, 2009

Amazon Making Good on Pulled Orwell Ebooks

Remember? Back in July, Amazon faced public outrage over their decision to delete ebook copies of 1984 and Animal Farm, from the Kindle e-readers of customers who'd purchased them. Shortly thereafter, CEO Jeff Bezos offered an apology, acknowledging that Amazon handled the situation in a "stupid" and "thoughtless" manner.

If you are one of these Kindle owners, here is the good news: now, Amazon is offering something much more substantial to you:

1. Anyone who had an ebook deleted can now have it restored, apparently with annotations intact.

2. Any customer who isn't interested in a new copy can get either an Amazon gift certificate or a check for $30.

If you are not a Kindle owner, this may be just the incentive for you to become one....

August 22, 2009

Predatoress Interview on Fascinating Authors

Q & A with Fascinating Authors' Penny Sansevieri

Q: What excites you most about your book’s topic? Why did you choose it?

A: The subject of women who are forced to live at the edge of society has always fascinated me. From Hester Prynne to Anna Karenina, females have suffered for giving into compulsions beyond their control. Beautiful, strong women paying severe prices for their choices, is a topic that intrigues me.

Add to this the eternal questions about the meaning of life and death. The question, “Is immortality a desirable state?” is an inquiry that can have many intriguing answers– from Kurzweil’s “yes,” to Emma Gabor’s “no.” No, not when immortality perpetuates the bloodshed that we currently have on earth.

Q: How long did the book take you from start to finish?

A: Two years. I wrote it in one year and let it languish. Then I resurrected it when I saw the public’s acceptance of Twilight. I had been a reluctant vampire too but thought no one would like to hear my story.

Q: What aspect of writing the book did you find particularly challenging?

A: Making myself understood as a character who meant no harm and had a great desire to do good. My deeds make me look otherwise. Also, the way I treat my friends does not show me to my advantage. I wanted to make myself likable but also to tell the truth about how I behaved: Imperious and controlling. The way I lied to the parents who loved me with immense devotion was also not admirable, causing me to appear even less likable.

Q: What surprised you the most about the book writing process?

A: I found myself feeling horrendous guilt as I wrote about my experiences–especially where I was continually lying to my parents about my true identity. I thought I would be able to give a scientific, factual account and as I was writing, tears were gushing hotly out of my eyes, to the point where I could hardly see.

Q: Did you have any favorite experiences when writing your book?

A: Finding out that I had a sense of humor about the situation I was in. My writing kept that ironic spark that made me enjoy re-reading it. And re-read it I did! I re-read it so many times, there isn’t one word that I haven’t weighed, turned over, and examined.

Q: What do you hope your readers will gain from reading your book?

A: A compelling journey to a part of the world few people visit. A first-hand account of what it feels like to be a young female vampire who is also a precocious scientist. Insight into forgiveness and mercy.

Q: What projects are you currently working on?

A: I am working on my website and a number of supporting blogs.

Q: Is writing your sole career? If not, what else do you do?

A: Yes, writing is my sole means of support.

Q: Did you do any research for your books, or did you write from experience?

A: I’m from the town of Sopron and did not need to research it, except for historical research on vampires of the region.

Q: How did you come up with your title?

A: It was originally The Hungarian Bride. My publisher suggested Predatoress with the subtitle Hungarian Bride.

Q: What books have influenced you the most?

A: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, and anything from Edgar Allen Poe.

Q: Who was your publisher and why did you choose them?

A: Newmedia Publishing because they are willing to take a chance on unusual topics and unknown authors who show great promise.

Rather listen? Here is the audio podcast.

July 4, 2009

Predatoress Unleashed on the 4th of July

In a global first, we announced yesterday at the Center for Independent Publishing in New York the release of Predatoress, together with its companion wine, Blood™. The latest in the blockbuster vampire genre, Predatoress is now available online and in stores; and at in a custom gift box with Blood™.

Written by a gifted and beautiful college freshman, Emma, this is the story of how she is victimized by a vampire in Transdanubia, Hungary. In turn, she selfishly vampirizes her three best friends for companionship in her nightly quest for human blood. The predatoress is born.

As she becomes a blood-thirsty vampire, she constantly questions her morality as she foists herself upon victim after victim. Compelled by survival and unwilling to tread this path alone, she vampirizes my three best friends, Kati, Gizi, and Eszti. She goes on bloodthirsty rampages every night with her best friends, luring their victims through charm and sexuality or simply overpowering them with tricks and violence.

Out on the town one night at Club Colosso for a joint feeding session with her friends, she dances with Zoltan Szabo, a genetic research fellow at the university. They form a friendship based on scientific interests and fall in love at a charity ball held in the ancient castle of Frakno. Emma now realizes that working with Zoltan could be the key to freeing her and her friends from this terrible scourge of vampirism! She must, with great pain, hold back from telling him the truth and from making him one of The Undead.

Her conscience and desire to love Zoltan and live a normal life drives her to find a cure for vampirism and AIDS through original genetic research. She has a chance to rid the world of vampires once and for all and become a power for good.

Contact her at

As Emma returns from the Undead, her story and life unfolds on her site, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and other venues. Fans can reach her directly at any of these web and mobile locations.

How to get the book

Predatoress is available to the trade from Ingram Book Group and Baker & Taylor as of July 4, 2009. Readers can subsequently order and buy it directly at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Waldenbooks, Books-A-Million, and other stores as well as web sites, including and Powell's.

The following ebook and mbook (mobile book) editions are can be downloaded from Amazon, Powell's Scribd, Feedbooks, and most other ebook stores:

* The PDF ebook file for your computer
* The Mobipocket ebook file for your Kindle
* The ePub ebook file for your iPod and iPhone
* The PDB ebook file for your Palm smartphone
* And the LRF file for your Sony Reader

Predatoress is also available totally FREE at, through TrialPay's arrangement with American Express, Apple, Blockbuster, Discover, FTD Flowers,, Netflix, Real, Skype, Sony, and many others.

A true gift for Vampire Lovers

In the true meaning of the word, the black and red vampire gift box is a one-of-a-kind gift for lovers of the genre, interested or immersed in vampire lore or goth culture. Blood™ is the finest ruby red Zinfandel, the perfect wine to sip while being engrossed in Predatoress. It is available only in the gift package from, until distribution to retail stores.

May 28, 2009

Predatoress Bites BEA (Book Expo America)

Translation: This morning we delivered the Predatoress and Blood™ dessert wine gift pack for display at the New Title Showcase section of Book Expo America. A terrible drive to the J. Javits Center in NYC, but worth every mile!

And yes, this is our own June Marshall, marketing maven, author, artist, etc. etc....

Yes, yes, I know, in our Author section we still show the old title The Hungarian Bride - Dracula Defeated. Not for long, as Predatoress will be released the 4th of July, just a few days later than the promised Q2 publish date. Thank you, Emma!

As of now, our marketing campaign is in full swing: in addition to exhibiting at the BEA, we already started a Print Campaign and are ready to roll with:

* Our Virtual Author Tour
* Blog Tour
* Fascinating Author Interview and Podcast
* Social Networking Tour
* Microblogging Campaign

This is a LOT, but we and our marketing partners from Author Marketing Experts are up to the task!

May 5, 2009

Will New Digital Readers Save the Newspapers?

According to the New York Times (which should know, as it has been steadily losing readers and advertisers like the rest of the trade), several newspapers plan to introduce digital newspaper readers by the end of the year.

The devices will have screens roughly the size of a standard sheet of paper to present much of the editorial and advertising content of traditional periodicals in generally the same format as they appear in print. Publishers hope the new readers may be a way to get consumers to pay for those periodicals — something they have been reluctant to do on the Web. This could save millions on the cost of printing and distributing, just when business is under historic levels of pressure.

"We are looking at this with a great deal of interest," says John Ridding, CEO of the 121-year-old British newspaper The Financial Times. "The severe double whammy of the recession and the structural shift to the Internet has created an urgency that has rightly focused attention on these devices."

The new tablets do have some serious shortcomings: the screens, which are currently in the Kindle and Sony Reader, display no color or video and update images at a slower rate than traditional computer screens. Then there is the contrary opinion that says digital readers are too little, too late. "If these devices had been ready for the
general consumer market five years ago, we probably could have taken advantage of them quickly," says Roger Fidler, program director for digital publishing at the University of Missouri, Columbia. "Now the earliest we might see large-scale consumer adoption is next year, and unlike the iPod it's going to be a slower process migrating people from print to the device."

I agree. Once the early adopter market is saturated, it will take a long while, especially in this economy, to switch "mass market" readers to e-papers. Unless they are given away free, and/or as part of a subscription plan. Similar to mobile phone plans, maybe?

April 26, 2009

Espresso (Book Machine) Anyone?

Tomorrow, on April 27, Blackwell, one of the largest booksellers and distributors in the UK and the world, will launch a three month trial of the Espresso Book Machine, in its Charing Cross Road branch in London.

The Espresso Book Machine

This is a "Print-on-Demand" service for shoppers in an effort to consign to history the idea that you can walk into a bookshop and not find the book you want.

The idea is, that you can choose from any of some 400,000 titles and print the one(s) you choose right on the spot. Blackwell's goal is to extend this to a million titles by the summer, and to spread out more machines to the rest of its sixty stores once it works out pricing.

Currently, they charge shelf price for in-print books, and 10 pence per page for those out of print (about $55 for a 300-page book), but are analyzing customer behavior to get a better pricing model. Says Blackwell chief executive Andrew Hutchings: "This could change bookselling fundamentally. It's giving the chance for smaller locations, independent booksellers, to have the opportunity to truly compete with big stock-holding shops and Amazon ... I like to think of it as the revitalization of the local bookshop industry."

Their website notes that in addition to getting books printed in-store, in the future you will be able to order titles via their site too. (They also mention that one of the titles you can print is the 1915 Oxford Poetry Book, which includes one of Tolkien's first poems, "Goblin's Feet.")

Just as importantly, you'll also be able to bring in your own book to print from two PDF files, one for the book block and one for the cover. That should get your penmanship going!

April 14, 2009

Eating My Words - Thanks "Weev!"

So it goes...Amazon has been right...sort of...this big brouhaha about gay and erotic books losing their sales ranks was either/or:

1. The doing of the (by now) infamous Internet "troll" calling himself "Weev." This is a link to his Monday Live Journal blog posting, written by him or someone claiming to be him.

Short quote:

"Here's a nice piece I like to call 'how to cause moral outrage from the entire Internet in ten lines of code.'"

2. Not to be outdone, Mike Daisey, a theatrical monologuist and author of 21 Dog Years about working at Amazon, says the Sales Rank yank was the result of a French employee of Amazon confusing the codes for "adult," "erotic," and "sexuality."

This, however, doesn't completely explain why books about straight pornography were unaffected. Daisey says "the Amazon [editing] system is mostly hand-built, and often super idiosyncratic, very Millennium Falcon meets Battlestar Galactica."

Either/or, I'm eating my words. Sorry, Amazon, about falling for this gripe storm!

April 13, 2009

Amazon's GBLT and Erotica “Glitch”

As you probably know by now, Mark Probst's post -- he is an Amazon Advantage publisher like us -- on a Live Journal blog about the disappearance of the Amazon sales ranking for two recently-released gay romance books, has created a virtual netstorm. Probst also posted the explanation, received from Amazon Advantage Member Services representative Ashlyn D: "In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude 'adult' material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature."

As word spread via blog postings and Twitter (where #amazonfail became the top "trending" topic), people asserted that sales rankings and other search-matching features had disappeared from what appeared to be many gay and lesbian books on Amazon, as well as erotica/erotic romance titles. (Without a sales rank, a title cannot appear on a category bestseller list, and it is said to inhibit other kinds of search matching and recommendations as well.)

However, such anti-Semitic texts as Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion remain within the ranking system while much less offensive books like the ones named above, are considered too "adult." In other words, if you're a writer who has written openly about sex, gays, and gay sex, Amazon considers you worse than an anti-Semitic writer who helped initiate pogroms and concentration camps.

Yesterday evening Amazon spokesman Andrew Herdener responded, "We recently discovered a glitch to our Amazon sales rank feature that is in the process of being fixed. We're working to correct the problem as quickly as possible...things will go back to how they were before."

Disbelievers nevertheless continued "tweeting" on Twitter (adding the hashtag #glitchmyass), while others have been looking closely at Amazon metadata for clues. Over at Dear Author they have deduced that "it appears that all the content that was filtered out had either 'gay,' 'lesbian,' 'transgender,' 'erotic' or 'sex' metadata categories."

Raging, the culture war still is!

February 10, 2009

Kindle G2 -- Amazon's Breakthrough Ebook Reader

500 years ago there was a new tool, called a book. It hasn't changed much. Until now.

Amazon has been selling ebooks for years. It didn't work... until fourteen months ago when they started to sell the Kindle.

Now 10% of the units Amazon sells are Kindle book sales. AMAZING!

A quick rundown on what's new and improved from Kindle v.1:

* The location of the buttons is smooth and efficient.

* It reads aloud! The sound is fairly good -- still computer-like, but totally listenable. I wonder, though. How will the Author's Guild feel about that?

* The screen seems more responsive.

* The 5-way controller lets you go to sections, preview stories, and move a cursor through documents for word searches.

* Whispersync: Read a little on your device, switch to another one, read there -- it will keep your page wirelessly.

* It has 7 times more storage than the original.

* It's thinner than the iPhone!

Ships on February 24th. Price? $359. Not a steal but certainly is worth it for the serious reader.

February 6, 2009

Google and Amazon to Release E-Books on Cellphones

To bolster the --finally -- growing popularity of e-books, Google is working on publishing the 1.5 million public domain books it had already scanned and made available free on PCs, on mobile devices, like the iPhone
and the T-Mobile G1.

Not surprisingly, Amazon is also working on making the titles for its popular e-book reader, the Kindle, available on a variety of mobile phones.

The company, which is expected to unveil a new version of the Kindle next week, did not say when Kindle titles would be available on mobile phones. The Kindle currently offers about 230,000 titles.

Googleís move greatly expands the number of e-books that you can read on the go. However, the public domain books available through Google Book Search are not likely to be the most popular titles, as they are older
books for which copyrights have expired.

In contrast, the Kindle library includes scores of newly released books, including many current best sellers.

Google promises to make other books available on mobile devices in the future, including out-of-print titles and current books it scans with the permission of publishing companies. Thank you, Google!

Unlike the version of Google Book Search for PCs, which displays scanned images of book pages, the mobile version simply displays text, allowing users to download printed material more quickly over wireless networks.

Several book reading programs are already available for the iPhone and other mobile devices, including Stanza from Lexcycle the eReader from Fictionwise, and TextOnPhone, which I've just started to test:

No, this is NOT me in the video....

Having started to do some reading on my iPhone, I find it is not my preferred way of getting immersed in a book. On the other hand, once the micro-projectors, like this one from 3M get built into smartphones, I could see that changing. I bet that's when the e-book market will REALLY take off.

January 28, 2009

Do Book Sites and Videos Really Help to Sell Your Book?

Truth be told, no one quite knows. Web presence seems to have taken the place of the book tour, especially in this tough economic environment. To see how that works, here are some examples:

"I Was Told There’d Be Cake"

Sloane Crosley's (herself a publicist at Vintage/Anchor) book, “I Was Told There’d Be Cake,” was released along with an accompanying Web site. It featured photographs of intricate dioramas, video and enough new material to fill a second book. Her observation: “I don’t know how well the success of book Web sites can be tracked, but they do get thrown into that priceless bucket of buzz.”

8 percent of book shoppers visit author Web sites

A survey released last June by the Codex Group, a research firm that monitors trends in book buying, found that 8 percent of book shoppers had visited author Web sites in a given week. It didn’t, however, say how many clicked on the “buy the book” link.

Some authors think the buzz is worth the expense

A sizable industry has sprung up around building book and author sites. AuthorBytes, a multimedia company started in 2003, has built sites for more than 200 clients, including Paul Krugman, Chris Bohjalian and Khaled Hosseini. They cost from $3,500 to $35,000 — with writers paying about 85 percent of the time. The staff of 20 even includes three employees whose entire job is updating.

“If an author is on the ‘Today’ show at 9 a.m., the clip will be up on her site within minutes,” says Steve Bennett, the company’s founder. “That’s a huge advantage, because fresh material is what keeps people coming back.”

“The Shock Doctrine” as viral video

Some authors try to ratchet up the wow factor by including a book video. Modeled on movie trailers, these videos have become increasingly popular since 2006, with the advent of YouTube and MySpace.

Many book videos are little better than home movies, painfully dull and almost laughably bad. But others are impressive, full-scale productions. Naomi Klein’s nearly seven-minute companion film to “The Shock Doctrine,” directed by Alfonso Cuarón with a full crew and shown at the 2007 Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, has been downloaded more than a million times.

“The film was a thing unto itself; it didn’t feel like an advertisement,” Klein said in a telephone interview. “But it was part of a viral phenomenon that made the book a best seller.”

All right. I've been harping about the importance of web presence since 1999, when we started Newmedia Publishing. And the impact of Internet video since 2006. Heck, we even do what we preach: We have a web video production service and a site, MillionDollarWebTV. Call or write if you need help!