Monthly Archives: July 2011

Apple Slams the Door on eBook Apps


Just as iPad and iPhone users were getting used to purchasing and downloading their Kindle, Nook, Google and OverDrive eBooks through the respective apps on their Apple devices, Apple has pulled the plug on those apps that made it possible. That is to say, you must now go through the Apple iStore to purchase your eBook through your iPad, iPod and iPhone. You can still download and read it on your iPad and iPhone – for now – you just can’t buy it directly through those apps. Now that Apple has you hooked and you’ve purchased your iPad, they can change the rules and make you – them – pay!


Kobo Blog posted this on July 23.

Earlier today Apple instituted new rules which affect your experience on iPhone and iPad apps. The biggest change is the removal of the ability to shop within our app.
Here’s what this means for Kobo users:
• Your books are safe! You can continue to use the Kobo app to read them, explore Reading Life, and enjoy all the other fun and engaging reading features from Kobo you’re familiar with.
• With this change, iOS users wishing to access their Kobo account, browse the Kobo Store, and purchase books will now need to go to Kobo.com
• You can still browse Kobo’s selection of 2.4 million eBooks, shop and access your account! Go to Kobo.com by directly opening and using their Safari browser or using your favourite web browser on your phone.

It was reported back in February that Apple was cracking down on apps developers and making them route purchases through their iBookstore. Apple Moves to Tighten Control of App Store by Claire Cain Miller and Miguel Helft, published: February 1, 2011.

Apple said on Tuesday that it was still allowing customers to read e-books they bought elsewhere within apps. For example, a Sony app could still access books the customer bought earlier from Sony’s store.

But Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division, said on Monday that Apple had told his company that from now on, all in-app purchases would have to go through Apple.

“It’s the opposite of what we wanted to bring to the market,” Mr. Haber said. “We always wanted to bring the content to as many devices as possible, not one device to one store.”

Apps like the Kindle app from Amazon.com and the one that Sony submitted open up a browser window when a user wants to buy something. This allows the app makers to argue that technically the purchase is happening on the Web, not within the app.
Apple is now saying the app makers must allow those purchases to happen within the app, not in a separate browser window, with Apple getting its standard 30 percent cut of the transaction. At the moment this applies only to e-book purchases. [Emphasis added.]

So what? Well, according to Mike Shatzkin’s Blog post “Publishing is living in a world not of its own making on July 24, 2011;

Kobo just delivered a new iOS (that’s Apple’s operating system for iPad and iPhone) app that no longer contains the direct link to the Kobo bookstore within it. …

Later news on this developing story is that the Google app has been “pulled” and that the Nook Children’s app no longer has a link to the store. We have to expect that the Kindle and main Nook apps will undergo the same change very shortly.

That will mean that the simplest and most seamless way to buy and read ebooks on the iPad or iPhone will be through Apple’s iBookstore. It will almost certainly mean a growth in iBookstore market share at the expense of all the other ebook retailers. It will also almost certainly mean that a lot of people who read their ebooks on an iOS device (I’m one of them) and prefer to use any of the other ebook retailers (and I’m one of those too) will be inconvenienced and annoyed. [Emphasis added.]

For more information, read;
• “The expulsions have begun – Google Books gone from iOS” at The Digital Reader, July 24.
• The Wall Street Journal also announced late Sunday that it would no longer sell content directly through its own app, July 25.

The email notice I received from Amazon.Com just today stated:

Dear Amazon.com Customer,

We’d like to update you on a change to the Kindle application that affects the way that you access the Kindle Store. In order to comply with recent policy changes by Apple, we’ve removed the “Kindle Store” link from within the app that opened Safari and took you to the Kindle Store.

You can still shop on iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch–just open the Safari web browser and go to Amazon.com. (For quick access, we recommend creating a bookmark in your web browser.) Your Kindle books will be delivered to your Kindle application and automatically downloaded when you open the app. Thanks for being a Kindle customer.

While Shatzkin’s point regarded the impact of Apple’s business decision on the publishing world, and how it is at the mercy of commercial vendors and technology developers, we – the eBook readers – are also similarly affected. eBook readers are at the mercy of the commercial creators and marketers of eBook reading devices and their eBook retailing subsidiaries. Make no mistake about it, commercial entities will ALWAYS chose the path of self-interest, profit and company growth. When you try to anticipate the future of libraries, this is one unchanging factor you can ALWAYS count on.

Regarding this new condition for your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, the alternative is to purchase your eBook from its source using their online store, then upload it to your iOS device using their App. Experience has shown that Netflix, for example, is much easier to use if you select movies for your que by accessing your Netflix account online from your computer, then access your que from your player, whether it is a Netflix equipped Wi-Fi DVD player, or Wii, or iPad, or smartphone. Those devices were meant for playing – computers were meant for accessing online – and websites were built for full-sized browsers.

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Digital Discovery – A New 21st Century Library Skill


In response to my recent Poll regarding topics readers would like to discuss, over 50% are interested in more business models for the 21st Century Library. I just happened to stumble across a new operating strategy that may have very high potential of becoming a new 21st Century library business model – digital discovery IN the library. At the very least, I think it is a new 21st Century library skill that will shape libraries in the future.

At last month’s ALA Conference, 3M Corp. unveiled its 3M Cloud Library E-Book Lending Service. By all accounts it was one of the best attended vendor’s booths with hourly presentations attended by up to 50 individuals at a time.

The concept is, according to the 3M Cloud website:

Browse anywhere, read anywhere.
With the 3M Cloud Library, patrons use personal accounts to access e-books on their devices. They can check out a book on an iPad®, take notes while reading on a PC, and finish the book on an Android™ phone. The bookmark feature works across all devices, so readers never lose their place. Patrons can read when, where, and how they want.

3M™ E-Readers
The 3M e-reader lets patrons try e-books without buying a device. It doesn’t require a credit card and synchronizes easily with the 3M Cloud Library.

3M™ Discovery Terminals
With an intuitive touch interface, 3M Discovery Terminals let readers find and check out digital content at the library.

Connect to your community.
By encouraging patrons to browse your collection, discover new titles, and download apps, the 3M Cloud Library drives traffic to your library and builds awareness of e-books. The software can be installed on any PC or Mac® in your library. 3M Discovery Terminals and e-readers give patrons even more ways to explore and read e-books.

That last section is the core of a potentially new business model for the 21st Century Library – digital discovery IN the library. Get customers into the physical library by offering digital services and products. Library patrons used to come in to the library to browse, read, or checkout something. Now, you can attract customers by offering a digital experience – browse the catalog, sample an eReader device, take home an eBook. All except sampling an eReader device are services that can be accessed from home via online library access.

However, many library customers are still new to eBooks and uncertain about the pros and cons of eReader devices, compatibility, DRM, and all those related technical issues. By offering a digital discovery service inside the physical library, customers can still have the face-to-face experience with a librarian and a digital experience.

In my June 21 & 22 Posts, I mentioned in passing the 3M Cloud Library project and the beta testers who were working to develop the product/service. One of those was the ultra insightful and innovative Director James LaRue, Douglas County (CO) Libraries, and author of LaRue’s Views Blog, as well as the 2007 book The New Inquisition: Understanding and Managing Intellectual Freedom Challenges. Turns out 3M was actually a partner with Jamie in developing his cloud library project.

“Instead of the market driving us into separate content silos, we wanted a single interface.” The [Douglas County] library actually has its own “cloud” but is getting its content from 3M. LaRue wrote to me [Paula Hane] about his convictions as to what’s at stake.

3M is to be commended for stepping into the market and helping libraries find ways to integrate econtent into the rest of their collections. From a commercial perspective, it’s good to have a competitor to Overdrive.

But there are more than commercial interests at stake. There is also the issue of long term accessibility of intellectual content to the public. For over a century and a half, public libraries have owned and managed their content. Libraries would be smart not to put all their content management dollars in just one or two baskets.

This is an exciting time for public libraries—one of the most exciting times in our history. It’s smart to partner with our vendors; it’s not so smart to give to our vendors too much power over us. The new world of content is more than six commercial publishers and four or five brokers. It’s time for libraries to be far more active players in the discovery and delivery of emerging content to our citizens.
[Quote from Paula J. Hane’s Blog Post July 7, 2011.]

Jamie LaRue, who I know from our membership on the former BCR Board, responded to my request for his thoughts on this digital project.

We have built our own local cloud. The 3M idea began with us, and at this point, about all we’re using them for is content. This is my proposed infrastructure for the 21st century library. We have it up and running.

Imagine two legs. These are the pipelines for digital content. One leg is for files that require DRM. The other leg is free content – public domain and Creative Commons. The DRM leg is linked to a hand – Adobe Content Server. It costs you $10,000 to buy this, $1,500 a year after that, and 8 cents per transaction (circ). This is where the DRM content actually resides. The free leg goes to the open source Monocle server (the other hand). Free to install, no transaction fees.

The heart is the MARC record, which links to the respective server.

The head is the open source Vufind, a discovery aid that allows for display of digital titles, and handles the checkout from our private cloud (two servers) to a browser or to an Adobe Digital Editions device. This fully integrates the content into our catalog.

The head has two eyes – take that interface and make it bigger, and you have a wall-sized iPad, a digital power wall. The other eye goes smaller – a mobile phone app.

The final piece [of our cloud system] is the incorporation of a recommendation engine. Vufind lets you keep a log of what you’ve read, to rank and review it. The recommendation engine will suggest titles to you on the basis of things like what you’ve read (genre or subject headings or author), availability, other customer ratings (up to 5 stars) and format.

Now – once we solve the content question, meaning finding publishers actually keen to sell us the file just like they sell us a book – we can actually drive patrons to the content that interests them. That’s what is behind our partnership with the Colorado Independent Publishers Association. [See my 21st Century Library Post – “DRM-free eBooks Now Available, July 11, 2011.]

The question is not can libraries manage econtent – of course we can! The question is who can do the best job of connecting readers to the content. That would be us, too. [Emphasis added.]

As I have pointed out numerous times, libraries have many competitors for our customers. We must understand what library customers want, as well as the 21st Century technology that connects with and engages them, both inside and outside the library. As LaRue wrote; “This emerging [library] “eco-system” doesn’t have to be dictated to us by vendors. I think it’s time we assembled our own solutions.”

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Google+ = Competition for The Other Guys


Have you heard about Google+? From what I’ve seen and read so far, it appears that it is likely to be MAJOR competition in the social network marketplace.

Frankly, I don’t like Facebook. It is as far from intuitive as any online platform I’ve ever visited. Nothing about Facebook makes sense to me, and much of it doesn’t work for me either. I was beginning to think it’s ME that has the problem – maybe not!


A quick look at the first pieces of the project.
Sharing is a huge part of the web, a part that we think could be a lot simpler. That’s why we’ve been working on adding a few new things to Google: to make connecting with people on the web more like connecting with them in the real world.

Circles
You share different things with different people. But sharing the right stuff with the right people shouldn’t be a hassle. Circles makes it easy to put your friends from Saturday night in one circle, your parents in another, and your boss in a circle by himself, just like real life.

Sparks
Remember when your Grandpa used to cut articles out of the paper and send them to you? That was nice. That’s kind of what Sparks does: looks for videos and articles it thinks you’ll like, so when you’re free, there’s always something to watch, read, and share. Grandpa would approve.

Hangouts
Bumping into friends while you’re out and about is one of the best parts of going out and about. With Hangouts, the unplanned meet-up comes to the web for the first time. Let buddies know you’re hanging out and see who drops by for a face-to-face-to-face chat. Until we perfect teleportation, it’s the next best thing.

Instant Upload

Taking photos is fun. Sharing photos is fun. Getting photos off your phone and on to the web is pretty much the opposite of fun. That’s why we created Instant Upload: so that from now on, your photos upload themselves. You don’t even have to say ‘cheese’.

Huddle

Texting is great, but not when you’re trying to get six different people to decide on a movie. Huddle takes care of it by turning all those different conversations into one simple group chat, so everyone gets on the same page long before thumbs get sore.

I’m excited about the potential of Google+ because IT MAKES SENSE TO ME. “Circles” of friends or acquaintances – naturally! “Hangouts” with friends in random meetings – great fun! “Sparks” of interesting things to see and read – very cool!

While Facebook has had a near monopoly on social networking for some time now, there is an advantage to the late-comer. Google has had a long time to evaluate what people want in a social networking platform. Ease of use! Intuitive features! Compatibility with life style! Features that actually work! And, not the least of the important features is SECURITY and PRIVACY!

According to IT World’s July 08, 2011 posting, Privacy experts praise Google+ rollout so far.

After major privacy failures in its Buzz and Street View services, Google has hit the right notes with its deliberate, measured roll out of its new Google+ social networking site, according to privacy experts.

By making Google+ available to a very limited set of initial testers, Google is showing that it learned its lesson from the privacy fiasco that followed the sudden, widespread launch of its Twitter-like Buzz service, which earned the company boos and lawsuits from end users, and investigations and fines from government agencies for unilaterally and publicly disclosing previously hidden Gmail connections.

The conservative approach to Google+’s availability is allowing Google to gather valuable feedback and patch bugs, including privacy holes, before making the site available to a mass audience, when glitches would have exponential consequences, experts said in e-mail interviews.
…..

“Google Plus is clearly designed to give people better control over their privacy with respect to their family, co-workers and friends, … “ [Peter Eckersley, a senior staff technologist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation] said.

By showing its cards early with a limited release, Google risks tipping off competitors, primarily Facebook, to the features that it hopes will give Google+ a competitive edge. In fact, already Facebook has responded to Google+’s multi-person video chat feature with a similar — albeit more limited — capability to offer one-on-one video chat through a partnership with Skype.

I signed up to get Project updates released by Google. Maybe it’s just me, but I would love a user-friendly, intuitive alternative to Facebook. I may be alone since everybody I know who does social networking uses Facebook, but this wouldn’t be the first time I was out in left field.

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Harry Potter – The Last Great READ?


Since 1997, the Harry Potter series has given the public library a real shot in the arm for attracting readers, and librarians have totally capitalized on the opportunity. So much so, they failed to recognize the changes happening within the profession.

In the early part of the 21st Century, librarians were still in the mindset that READ and the BOOK constituted the library brand – and always would! Attempting to capitalize on that brand with Harry Potter release parties and events at the local library seemed to become a mainstay of what libraries were about. The Twilight series contributed to the efforts to preserve “the book”, but not to the same degree.


[Courtesy of ALA.]

It seems that for the past decade the efforts to attract readers into the library was the driving motivation stemming from the Harry Potter stimulus that promoted a renewed interest in reading among young people – thanks to J.K. Rowling’s creation – and libraries HAD to promote and extend that wave of renewed interest as much as possible. There is hardly a public or school library anywhere in the world that hasn’t promoted reading via Harry Potter.

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with promoting reading, but IMHO it detracted librarians’ attention from the technology advances that were emerging. The focus on riding the Harry Potter wave obscured the investigation of social networking, mobile connectivity, and fundamental changes in the library customer to what (we can now see in hindsight) was the library’s detriment. Obviously, the solution would have been not one over the other, but attention on both. Librarians can no longer afford to only focus on the traditional or present trend.

My library director friend was a branch manager and manager of tech services back then and had this perspective on why libraries missed the changing landscape of the 21st Century public library.

I think this happened for a couple of major reasons (if we are generalizing – as every library will have its own reason).

Economy. I think budgets had a lot to do with it. I think Directors were focused on budgets and revenues and lost site of a lot of things (which is normal – someone has to worry about the money). They stopped putting effort into innovation and development and mentoring went downhill – which leads to my next reason.

Innovation. New ideas tend to come from, or at least are sparked and then guided by, the ‘newbies’, kids, youngins, new blood, etc. They are sparked then mentored and developed into fruition and application by the ‘powers that be’ because it takes money, decision and incorporation into the institutional mission, and that needs the go-ahead of the Administration in any organization.

I think the void we see now is a result of when Directors stopped mentoring, encouraging, listening to, and implementing the ideas of the newer professionals. But I have also spent that same decade listening to other (even newer) newbies, and I have watched and did watch while -for nearly a decade- the best and brightest with the sharpest ideas RAN for teen services.

Why? Because to quote one of those newbies “the director doesn’t really care about what happens with YA, just knows SOMETHING should and so that’s where I can do really creative and innovative stuff without being shot down constantly.” I agree. Ten years ago YA was all the buzz – “what are YOU doing for teens” – so directors were happy to see something happening even if they didn’t fully ‘get it‘. Remember, YA is where gaming and ‘zines and graphic novels and innovative programming found their way into libraries. It was a non-threatening place for all those talented, dedicated, pesky, new librarians who wanted to ‘change everything’ because whoever heard of anyone getting to the director seat from the YA department? Funny – who was also doing all those great Harry Potter parties and programming!

It sounds as though the solution for libraries getting back into the 21st Century competition for customers is the “’newbies’, kids, youngins, new blood” librarians. So, where are you, and what do you have to contribute to this current situation? Let’s hear your voice.

And, let’s give J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter their due for keeping the READ alive for another decade. Not to mention, creating readers in an entire world-wide generation – VERY IMPRESSIVE.

BTW: My wife and I will be sitting in our favorite seats at 11:59pm tonight at the IMAX, wearing our Hogwarts t-shirts ready and eager like millions of other fans to see the final installment – in 3D. The films will never replace the books, but they are still great fun. See you there.

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Creating Your Own Mobile App?


After researching QR Codes and creating my own, I was intrigued by the possibility of creating my own mobile App. How hard could it be, if QR Codes are so easy? Turns out, even a simple App is much harder than you might think for the non-programmer, non-Java Script user, non-computer genius.

I am sorta-pro when it came to HTML (built three websites using MS Frontpage, after building webpages using just HTML code). But, like most software that’s more than two years old, Frontpage is obsolete now. Frontpage 2003 was replaced by Microsoft Expression Web and Sharepoint Designer, released along with MS Office 2007. Although Frontpage was a component of Office 2003, the replacements are stand-alone. The main issue is that servers no longer support Frontpage Extensions that made all the features of Frontpage work. So, bottom line is MS marches on.

My point is that I’m comfortable with development software – generally. What I found regarding creating Apps was a whole new ballgame for me. There are online SAS-type providers that will create a plug-n-play type App, but they’re not all that easy either, or inexpensive.

For example, Mobiflex claims you can “Create Native Mobile Apps in Hours Without Coding”. It makes many claims, but it’s not like entering some data and getting a QR Code. Cost ranges from $9.99 to $199 – PER MONTH.

Another online resource is Mobiforms.

The MobiForms Developer offers you unbelievable value for money. For the price of less than two hours of a contract programmer, MobiForms gives you the power of a whole army of unrelenting mobile programmers. The MobiForms Developer licence costs just £99 UK Pounds (€115 Euros or $159 US Dollars)….

The MobiForms Advanced Edition includes all of the above, plus the MobiForms Sync Server. Unlike most competing products, the MSS does not need third party hosting and does not incur any monthly service charges. The MobiForms Advanced Edition costs £189 UK Pounds (€219 Euros or $289 US Dollars)….

appmaker beta also claims to provide fast, easy, online App development, but the catch is from the beginning screen they provide a link if you “Need design help? Hire a professional from our design marketplace.” Plus, you have to get an Apple Developer Account from Apple for $99 in order to be able to market your App, if that’s what you want to do – even a “free” App – on the Apple iTunes Store.

And, there are others ready to provide expert consulting and App development for varying prices. There was no “free” App development software or website that I could find – except for…..

the open source NetBeans IDE 7.0 “A free, open-source Integrated Development Environment for software developers. All the tools needed to create professional desktop, enterprise, web, and mobile applications with the Java platform, as well as with C/C++, PHP, JavaScript and Groovy.”

If you’re not a software developer – forget it. I downloaded the free file downloads and tried to install them on my home PC running Windows 7. I couldn’t uninstall them fast enough. Here’s what I got – HOLY COW!

The only good news is – if you are a Blogger you’re in luck – sort of. FreeBlogApps.com will “Turn your website blog into a free mobile app!” I tried it and actually created an App for this Blog using their publish to Android Market feature, but since AT&T won’t allow me to download an App from a “third-party” creator, I can’t install it to my Android phone. Maybe you’ll have better luck by clicking here,

or here,
Download The 21st Century Library Blog Free Android App

or scan here.

So, the conclusion I’ve come to is – forget about any notions of easy or free mobile App development. It sure would be nice if there was, especially for libraries. BUT, if you’re ready to dive in to creating Apps for your library, be ready to spend some budget money to make it worthwhile.

P.S. As if that outlook wasn’t discouraging enough, I just went to MyAppCreator.com website and found this message. How’s this for dampening one’s enthusiasm! Remember when the Dot.Com bubble burst?

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DRM-free eBooks Now Available


July 6th, 2011 Dan Stasiewski, Public Relations Manager, OverDrive, published this bomb shell announcement.

For the past few months, OverDrive has been beta testing DRM-free eBook distribution in libraries. Today, we’re excited to announce that all OverDrive-powered libraries can now add DRM-free eBooks to their digital collections.

To coincide with the launch of this new functionality, we would also like to welcome new publishers who are providing DRM-free eBooks to libraries in OverDrive’s global network:
• AMG
• Bold Strokes Books
• Books to Go Now
• Carina Press
• Gideon Informatics
• Joe Konrath
• KBS
• Microsoft Press
• O’Reilly Media
• Rock Nook
• Romance Divine LLC
• Rosenfeld Media
• Sher Music
• Simonelli Editore
• TidBITS
• University Press of Colorado
• Wildside Press

All DRM-free eBooks are available under the one-copy/one-user model, which means you can add a copy to your collection and one user at a time can borrow the title from the library. Just like all other OverDrive-supplied content, the titles will be borrowed for a set amount of time and when that lending period is up, another user can check out the title.

WOW! Did any one see this coming (except the Beta testers)? Sounds awesome to the point of being “too good to be true”. Where’s the catch? Does this mean we can all trust eBook users now to do the right thing?

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I Would Like to Discuss…….


Tell me what 21st Century Library related topics you would like to discuss in future Posts.

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