Archive for June 12th, 2011
Children’s reading apps are one of the biggest categories at the Apple App Store and there are indeed a ton of them. These are just a few recent titles that look interesting.
Based on the award-winning book by Rebecca L. Johnson, this enhanced ebook from Lerner Publishing is not just for children. The app explores the ocean from the shallows to the deepest abysses and introduces readers to some of the newly discovered sea creatures found there.
Journey Into the Deep is based on scientific expeditions involved in the Census of Marine Life, which was conducted by more than two thousand researchers from 82 countries over ten years. The app takes readers to research sites around the globe. In addition to video and photographs, Journey Into the Deep includes links to websites containing further information and a discussion guide.
Journey Into the Deep is $2.99 at iTunes.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is an animated children’s short film and interactive book. The app contains several interactive mini games that help to advance the story. Available for $4.99 at the App Store.
Kung Fu Panda 2
The Kung Fu Panda 2 interactive storybook follows the plot and contains imagery and music from the film of the same name. The story follows Po (Jack Black) as he lives his dream protecting the Valley of Peace as the Dragon Warrior alongside his friends and fellow Kung Fu masters, the Furious Five — Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey.
Designed for children aged two and up, Kung Fu Panda 2 features a narration option and the pages can be turned manually or will turn by themselves with the Auto Play mode. The app also includes “Create-A-Scene” which is a digital sticker book featuring the main characters from Kung Fu Panda 2.
$2.99 at iTunes.
Once Upon a Potty
Oceanhouse Media has released Once Upon a Potty: Girl and Once Upon a Potty: Boy. These books are the first results from a licensing partnership between Oceanhouse Media and bestselling children’s author and illustrator Alona Frankel.
Frankel’s Once Upon a Potty picture books, audio editions and videos have sold more than five million copies in the US alone and have been translated into many languages.
The new enhanced versions include the ability for young readers to read by themselves or have the story narrated to them. An Auto Play mode is also available to play the story like a movie. Other features include a Sing-Along, picture/word association, lyric and text highlighting as well as an original musical score to accompany the original artwork.
Available at iTunes for an introductory price of $2.99.
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More freebies available at the Kindle Store and elsewhere:
Maid for the Billionaire (Legacy Collection) by Ruth Cardello (5 stars/13 reviews) Romance.
Wild Magnolias by Eric Wilder (no ratings) Short mystery.
Heart by Oliver Frances (no ratings) Romance.
After The Fire (On The Line, Nothing More to Lose) by Kathryn Shay (4 stars/9 reviews) Contemporary fiction.
A Cookbok by Ted (A CookBook By Ted) by Ted Summerfield (4 stars/1 review) Cooking.
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Author Victor Grauer has written Sounding the Depths, a very interesting looking enhanced ebook that has been unable to find a traditional publisher. Victor tells me he is looking into possibly self-publishing at the Kindle Store, but in the meantime his book is available to read on his blog.
A brief description of Sounding the Depths by Victor Grauer:
Inspired by many years of research on world music, and drawing upon dramatic new developments in genetic anthropology and archaeology, this book will take the reader "on a journey through some of the deepest recesses of human culture and history, suggesting solutions to mysteries that, until recently, were thought to be completely beyond the reach of systematic investigation."
Sounding the Depths may be the first truly interactive book ever published. Thanks to the blog format, musical examples and video clips will be easily accessible via Internet links, and readers will be able to post comments on a chapter by chapter basis, offering their thoughts and any suggestions for improvement that may come to mind. I will try to respond to all comments and will seriously consider making revisions on the basis of valid criticisms, corrections or other suggestions."
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For Father’s Day Amazon is offering a 20 percent discount on either an Amazon Kindle Leather Cover or the Kindle Lighted Leather Cover when purchased together with a Kindle ereader. To redeem the offer you need to put both the Kindle and the cover in your shopping cart. You can then select Two-Day Shipping to get free express shipping. This promotion will end on June 13, 2011.
In a similar vein, Barnes & Noble is offering a 30 percent discount on select Nook Color covers with the purchase of a Nook Color.
Amazon is still offering over 600 Kindle books for $0.99, $1.99 and $2.99 in its Sunshine Deals Sale. Many of these are from bestselling and award-winning authors. Sale ends this Wednesday, June 15.
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What I’ve been reading lately.
Lately I’ve been exploring the work of China Miéville. Miéville is an amazing writer who has won a number of awards. Most of his books (I have not read all yet) seem to fall into the Urban Fantasy category; all are very complex and give you plenty to ponder. If you don’t like fantasy or sci-fi you might try The City and The City, which reads like a hardboiled detective story set in a rather bizarre city.
I’m also reading Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet by Tim Flannery. I’m actually reading an enhanced version on the iPad that was sent me by the app developer, Arcade Sunshine Media, LLC., to review. I have not finished this one yet, but so far I am quite happy with the manner in which the multimedia content is integrated into the book. As to the book itself, so far it seems less about the natural history of our planet and more about Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis. An interesting read nonetheless.
Recently I read Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue. Briefly, this is the story of a five year old boy and his mother who are held captive in an eleven foot square room by the man who kidnapped the mother. The boy was born in Room and it pretty much comprises his whole world.
Before starting this book I mentioned it to a friend with whom I frequently discuss books. She gave a shudder and told me it sounded too disturbing for her to read. I read all sorts of things and am not myself easily put off, but I too have to admit to feeling some trepidation upon embarking on this particular dark journey.
After reading the book I can say that it is very good. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but suffice it to say that it is worth overcoming any hesitation you might feel about reading this book as it is a rewarding read.
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Apple’s refusal at the beginning of the year to approve the Sony Reader app for iOS and its demands that any content accessible by an app also be offered for sale through the app, where Apple would get a 30 percent cut off the top, did not seem to bode well for the future of Apple’s ‘magical device’ as an ereader. The impact of Apple’s policies went well beyond ebooks in fact — it could have even meant the loss of popular content providers such as Netflix from the App Store.
Under Apple’s guidelines, content providers would be giving up their whole profit margin — and in some cases more then their profit margin — for the privilege of offering an iOS app. It seemed likely that popular ereading apps such as Kindle and Nook for iOS would be disappearing from Apple’s platform as the deadline for compliance, June 30, drew near.
But it now appears that Apple has blinked. Last week the Apple Store Review Guidelines were again quietly changed. App developers are no longer required to offer any and all content that is accessible by an app for sale through the app at the same or a lower price as it is available elsewhere. The new rules simply disallow a ‘buy’ button or other method that enables users to go directly from within an app to a website store, thereby bypassing Apple’s in-app purchasing mechanism.
Pricing is also now left up to the content sellers. We will likely see more apps like the digital textbook app released by Kno last Monday. You can purchase textbooks from the Kno bookstore directly from within the app. But if you instead point the iPad’s browser to the Kno store you will be able to buy the same textbooks for a lower price and then access them from the app. Publishers may now charge a higher price for items sold from within an app to offset Apple’s take.
To me it seems that Apple should obviously be entitled to make money from content sold on its platform. But 30 percent seems usurious, as most publishers make 30 percent or less from the content they sell. Google offers publishers a better deal on its Android platform by taking 10 percent, which still leaves a profit margin for content sellers.
It does not seem in Apple’s best interest to drive developers away from the App Store. After all, one of the most attractive features of the iPad and iPhone is the rich diversity of content available through them. Apple’s change of heart is a win not only for app developers and publishers, but also for consumers. And possibly even for the continued success of the company’s products.