Turning a new page – eBooks and Audiobooks

Congratulations to the fantastic team at Loreto Normanhurst Learning Resources Centre for getting their ebook initiative up and running successfully.

This is just one wonderful example of what can be done in schools to support literacy and reading enjoyment – particularly where the students are keen to use their mobile devices to enjoy the world of books.

Fired up by BlueFire Reader

I have so many e-options to help me  do what I like doing a lot – reading for leisure and information. I wish I had more time – you know how it is – so flexibility is pretty important to me. So let me tell you about BlueFire Reader and where it might fit into my readers toolkit!

My Kindle provides me with books for pure pleasure, as well professional reads – which is great, because I love being able to take notes, and be able to search through the book for key topics. Better still, these books synch right across to my iPad, so no excuse – I have the book when I need it.

Now I’ve also decided to subscribe to some of my favourite magazines with Zino. Costs less than a paper subscription – plus I can read the same issue on my iPad or on my computer.  Even better – no magazine back copies strewn around the house.

Today I found out about BlueFire Reader for reading encrypted Adobe ePub DRMs.

I also use Adobe Digital Editions flash-based eBook reader for eBooks from my Uni library – a great way to keep up-to-date with various academic publications as it’s free, flexible, and so easy to use!  eBorrowing and eReturns!  Amazing.

Now here’s another great tool called BlueFire Reader that I have to explore!

We built Bluefire Reader because we value the unique curatorial voice of each bookseller and we wanted to provide book lovers with the freedom to buy books where they choose. Bluefire Reader supports Adobe eBook DRM because it’s become an industry standard across a wide variety of booksellers and public libraries. Adobe DRM allows you to transfer books that you’ve purchased from many different locations between your reading devices and personal computers.

If you have spent years buying PDFs and ePubs, this is the App for you!

Download this app to your iThing and then authorize using your Adobe username and password. The Bluefire App allows you to take notes. Just highlight the section that you want to bookmark and the note section will show up. For a new app, the reader seems pretty sophisticated.It also retains the epub page numbering, which is a boon.

To get your ENCRYPTED epubs on to your iThing, open ITunes and click on the App tab. Scroll to the bottom until you see something like this:App document section

Highlight Bluefire App.

Open your “My Documents” folder or “Documents” (on MAC). There is folder called “My Digital Editions” (created by your Adobe Digital Editions tool).

Digital Editions folder

Open this folder and then drag the books you want from Digital Editions folder onto the App section.
Transfer ebooks

Readers can use the Get Books feature of Bluefire Reader to browse and search for books from a wide variety of online sources as well.

Full post and information at  Dear Author: a blog by Readers for Readers.

The book is dead – long live the book

So much is said and written about the ‘demise’ of the book these days. However, amongst the media hype and one-eyed negativism that sometimes abounds – there are also rational evangelists who focus on knowledge, culture and the role of digitised text in extending the possibilities for humanity.

At a recent conference hosted by the Association of Independent Schools, I encountered just such an evangelist. Sherman Young, who writes The Book is Dead blog as a companion to his book by the same title (download the first chapter), tantalized the audience with his presentation ‘The Book is Dead’.

Sherman kept the BOOK right in perspective – both past forms and future possibilities were discussed.

Book culture is too often confused with reading culture  – and it is this reading culture that Sherman explained as ‘long-form’ text. A book is a process – it requires time  to write and time to read. A book makes premium  demands of authors and readers: a writer can reflect and dig deeper into ideas, subtly constructing reality, thereby encouraging analysis, thought, reflection. In fact,  in a book the creation of a new reality is delegated to the reader.

Sherman reminded us that in fact BOOKS HAVE BEEN DIGITAL FOR ABOUT 20 YEARS!!

Eureka!  Of course books have been digital – once we got rid of hot metal presses, and moved to typesetting then desktop publishing, all books were digital first, then adapted to be printed.

Now the digital books are getting sophisticated and devices have emerged that make them easy to read. In addition, books are being digitised the world over to share, and to facilitate learning and research. Take a look at the Rare Book Room, and think about the value of this type of easy access to our literary and knowledge heritage.

In an online world we can and have to ensure that books remain – it’s about what books have done that counts. Even Google books are a way of ensuring that books survive.

Of course we also have text that is about communication in short form and speed. Text is everywhere online.

According to Sherman,

books are people thinking; online text, like Twitter, are people talking.

We need books. Even in the 21st century we need places and spaces to slow down, and books to read as ‘long text’.

I wound up the conference with my presentation. It was great to conclude an exciting day that, incidentally, kicked off with a fantastic skyed presentation from Will Richardson on transforming learning in education. Will’s a bit of a star at getting people sitting on the edge of their seats, and so people were pretty much buzzing making  it  easy for me to do a wrap that followed his vision, and also bounced off the exciting ideas that Sherman shared.

As ‘one of their own’ it was my job to try and challenge all the teacher-librarians to go on back to school and work hard at ‘keeping up with every(E)thing.  Oh, and my view is that the book is not dead – it’s just adapting!

ePUB an iRevolution?

Overlooked in much of the hype about the iPad announcement earlier in the week was a comment by Steve Jobs in the Keynote presentation where he mentioned that the iBooks app for iPad would take advantage of the popular EPUB format for electronic books.

EPUB is the same format used by the popular Stanza [free, iTunes link] app for iPhone and iPod touch. It’s a free and open standard format created by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), and it’s designed for reflowable content that can be optimized to whatever device is being used to read a book file.

ebook readers that currently use the format include the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Sony Reader, iRex Digital Reader, and the iRiver Story.

Read more at  All about EPUB, the ebook standard for Apple’s iBookstore.

Does this mean that Apple might be pushing for a robust EPUB standard.

(I do like the Shelfari-look on that screen!)

Become a Kindle author!

The Amazon Kindle is not just a device for reading paperless books and newspapers. It’s also an ecosystem for writers who want to publish their works without dealing with book publishers.

In a recent CNet report, I found out that authors worldwide can now  self-publish Kindle versions of their books or documents. The self-publishing digital text platform, which allows writers to upload electronic versions of their books to Amazon’s e-book reader store, was previously limited to English and to authors based in the United States.

There’s a cost of course, and only 35% of the sales revenue ends up in your pocket – plus Amazon reserves the right to sell your book at a discount. Ouch!

Blogs and newspapers can also be read on the Kindle, but as  yet there’s no self-service way for bloggers to put their work on the Amazon store. Just as well!

Still, an interesting development don’t you think?

Is this the future of magazines?

Thanks to Daniel Pink for the heads-up on Apple Insider’s demo of the soon-to-be-launched digital edition Sports Illustrated.   Time Inc, the largest magazine publisher in the US,  has been plagued by declining subscription  revenue and layoffs according to Tech.Blorge, so it’s taking a new tact with its magazine content by testing this tablet-friendly version of Sports Illustrated.

Apparently Wired and others are also working on their own digital editions.

I know for sure that the boys at school will LOVE this!

Sending documents to Your International Kindle

The Kindle 2 has a number of cool features that you need to get the hang of to maximize the value of your purchase.  Since I’ve played with my Kindle for nearly a whole week now – I’ve been asked to pass on information about basic document management.

YourAccountDocuments to your Kindle

Go to Your Account in the top right hand corner of Amazon.

Once there, scroll down till you find the Manage Your Kindle Link


Click on that link, and sign into your account.

This Account Page is an important one for managing lots of things, but for now we’ll just focus on how to set up the email accounts that will let you to put documents and pictures onto your Kindle.

Your Kindle will have a name and a Kindle email address once it is registered (yourname@kindle.com)

If you’re buying it now this will have already happened, but it you received it as a gift, or it was purchased for you, you will want to register it to yourself (and to your credit card!).

Don’t worry about the iPhone or iTouch option – international users can’t register these yet!

Your Kindle Approved E-mail List – this is the important one!

Register one or more email addresses.  Why?  Because it is with your registered email address that you will manage the free document conversion services that kindle offers.

Once you have one (or more) registered, you’re ready for a test.

Send any file (Word, JPG, BMP, PNG) to yourname@free.kindle.com from your approved account.  Not long afterwards you will receive a return email with the file converted into a Kindle-friendly format.

Download this file to your computer.  Connect your Kindle to your computer. Drop the file into your Documents Folder.

Next time you open your Kindle to read, your document will be there ready for you.

Of course, the option is there to send the document via your approved email directly to your Kindle. Then you email it to yourname@kindle.com.  You will pay a small fee for that conversion. It’s fine for a Word document but my tests made it a non-starter for other documents. Doing it this way costs $US.99 per Megabyte and your WhisperNet account!

For more information about managing your Kindle  read Transferring, Downloading, and Sending Files to Kindle.

Kindle-ing discussion about learning

Lots of people have asked for a post about my first reactions to the Kindle.  I started writing this up, but found what I needed to say for people new to the Kindle was rather long –   so here are my first few day’s evalution rolled into a scribd document  ready to print and share with others.