Category Archives: New Products

OverDrive offers DRM free EPUB & PDF and much much more

Received a press release from OverDrive announcing many enhancements to the OverDrive interface and digital content offerings.  The announcements were made today, just shy of the start of the Public Library Association Conference in Portland, Oregon.  Those attending the PLA Conference should stop by the OverDrive booth(2347) for demos of all these new features.  My favorite is “Open eBooks” – DRM free eBooks in EPUB and PDF formats which can be downloaded and read on nearly all EPUB enabled devices.  Here are just a few things mentioned in the press release: Continue reading

Have you heard about blio?

Have you heard about blio reader, the free ebook reader from Baker & Taylor?  I got a demo of it last week at the American Library Association conference in Boston.  It’s pretty cool, offering full color and audio for any open system – MAC, PC, iPhone, netbook, etc.  Blio was developed by a gamer – very cool and wise decision in my opinion.  Even children’s books looked and sounded good on this reader.  Some cool features I saw included:

  • full color
  • text 2 speech (TTS) – which sounded pretty good
  • track audio down to the word, start reading again at the exact word
  • embedded multimedia
  • page turning
  • highlight word and get a definition
  • reflowable text
  • change font
  • some titles were narrated, depends on publisher
  • publishers can edit/control the voice for text 2 speech reading – change gender, tone, speed, etc.

blio will be available for the retail market in February with access to over 1 million free ebooks and a large selection of trade/childrens titles for purchase, through the online bookstore.  B & T plans to expand to the library market in the summer of 2010.  The website offers a comparison chart of various ereaders.  Check it out.

Grzimek’s Launches

From a Gale/Cengage press release:

Farmington Hills, Mich., Oct. 12, 2009 – Gale, part of Cengage Learning, today announced the launch of the digital version of Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia as an interactive, media-rich online interface.
Based on the 17-volume print encyclopedia, long regarded as a leading source of information on “everything animal,” this digital resource is part of the next generation of resources from Gale, designed as a new knowledge portal to bring “power to the user.”
This knowledge portal includes information on more than 4,000 species, covering topics such as evolution, habitat, behavior, ontology, conservation status and more.  Continuously updated, the image-rich content provides a true educational experience, where users can find answers to specific questions, discover new details about animals they are familiar with, and learn more about little-known animals in new and exciting ways. Continue reading

Introducing the NEW Encyclopedia.com

Have you seen Gale/Cengage Learning’s encyclopedia.com lately?  It’s full of vetted reference information with some funky cool new features.  Check it out online and for a more detail description of the site, and it’s potential, read the latest in the Off The Shelf Column at Booklist Online.

New ABC-CLIO/Greenwood eBook Interface

Got a chance to beta test the new ABC-CLIO/Greenwood interface this week – Digital Collections.  It’s a nice looking interface, easy to navigate with pleasant layout, colors, fonts, etc.  Basic/advanced/browse searching of over 6,200 titles.  They have some cool features too – cite this source ( I still need to check the citations against versions of MLA – 7th and APA – 6th), bookmarks, notes, user profile, RSS feeds, institutional branding, and an admin module.  I really like the self serve MARC record download.  Did a quick glance at the MARC records which look pretty good – didn’t see the blatant errors that some publishers are dolling out with their “free” MARC records.  Printing and emailing available, but number of pages or total content to be printed was not consistent for each title.  Although, I don’t think any eBook interface has gotten this one right yet ;) ABC-CLIO still has several features in the works for integration in a later release which include:  collection and order management tools, statistics tracking, printing upgrades, image searching, and jumping to specific pages.  I asked for a “back to search results” option and a “permalink” for the persistent url.  They have persistent url’s in place for titles and some chapters/articles, but you currently have to copy/paste the url from the address bar.  Another cool feature is the easy click to increase/decrease font size.  Those of you who are Greenwood Digital Collection customers should see the automatic switchover to the new interface on September 17th.    See the press release below for more info. Continue reading

Rosen’s Teen Health & Wellness – this is what I call a Reference Experience

I recently attended the School Library Journal (SLJ) Summit and had the pleasure of working with Roger Rosen, of Rosen Publishing, on a panel about the future of digital reference.  Roger spoke about Rosen’s Teen Health & Wellness product.  I finally had a chance to look it over.  WOW, this is what I call a reference experience!

Some highlights:

  • Thousands of resources for teens on topics relevant to them, and written for them – like sexuality, dating, stress, alcohol/drugs, eating disorders, and even acne
  • In The News – a snippet of data from a published news story, with links to additional information in the database.
  • Cast Your Vote – Polls on relevant topics, to see how other teens feel/act.  After viewing the poll results, links to articles on a relevant topic are included
  • HOTLINES (Get Help Now)- easy to find access to a variety of national hotlines (Suicide, AIDS, Alcohol/Drugs, Eating Disorders, etc)
  • Ask Dr. Jan – a place to ask a question and get an answer from a licensed Psychologist
  • Personal Story – a teen story written about a particular situation, like cyberbullying.  Users may then SHARE THEIR OWN STORY by submitting it to Rosen.  Don’t worry, lots of confidentiality controls are in place.
  • Did You Know? – factoids on various health/wellness topics, with links to related articles
  • RSS Feeds of new content from “In The News,”  “Dr. Jan’s Corner,” and “Did You Know?”
  • Each entry is signed, and includes the name of the MD or other medical professional who reviewed the article.
  • Email, print, and cite this source options
  • Links for resources, glossary, and further reading
  • Date last updated for each article
  • Images

Besides the amazing amount of information in the Teen Health & Wellness database, teens have the opportunity to ask questions, write/share their own feelings, and find out how other teens are dealing with situations.  The RSS feeds, polls, and Q/A make this interactive.  The attention to detail in citing, writing, reviewing, and updating make the information very authoritative.  This should be in every household, not just school.  Congrats Rosen!

Gee, reading all of this makes me want to be a teenager again…..NOT!

But, it does make me wonder why these great features aren’t in other databases.  The product seems to build a community.  Can our generic reference ebook collections possibly do that?  I don’t see why not.�

A Wireless, Color E Reader

From the TeleRead blog – via Gizmodo

There is not a ton of information about the KDDI R&D Laboratories Inc. “Portable Viewer System” but what has been revealed is exciting. It’s A4 and can wirelessly receive images from devices like a mobile phone. The screen can display up to 4,096 colors and refresh in 12 seconds. I’m not sure whether e-paper means it’s a derivative of eink or some other screen technology.

Strangely the device is nearly completely controlled by the handset. It doesn’t seem a very practical interface, but it is a prototype.

by Jane Litte

DailyLit – reading your books in small pieces, via email or RSS

Have you heard of DailyLit? – it’s pretty cool.  DailyLit provides small installments of books to users through an email message or RSS feed, daily.  Hey, since it’s not a piece of paper, I consider this an eBook!  It was built on the premise that we don’t have time to read books, but yet we still find time to read email, so they combined the two!

They have over 950 titles either for free or a small access fee.  Many are classics and now, some are provided by none other than Oxford University Press!

It’s easy to set-up a free account and get started.  You can determine how frequently you want the installments delivered, and even choose the time of day.  For my first title, I chose Tom Peter’s 100 Ways to Succeed and Make Money.  My first installment (of 100) was a simple read of 362 words – all about being neat and tidy!

But my next title will definitely be:   Skinny Bitch in the Kitch: Kick-Ass Recipes for Hungry Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (and Start Looking Hot!)   hmmm.

They have a blog, rating and review area, and plenty of ways for their members (over 125K) to converse.  Check it out.  I’m off to clean my desk ;)

International Children’s Digital Library – New Enhancements

International Children’s Digital Library Unveils Breakthrough Enhancements

From PRWeb

Unique Technology Significantly Improves Translation, Readability

Boston, MA (PRWEB) June 17, 2008 — The International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) Foundation (www.childrenslibrary.org), which is the world’s largest collection of children’s literature available freely on the Internet, today announced the completion and implementation of its ClearText technology which significantly enhances the translation and readability of the books available from the online library.

For easier reading of scanned books on a small screen, ClearText allows the user to simply click the desired text to display a magnified version of that text in place, or to read that page in a different language, the user just selects the desired language from a list under the page. The novel book reader technology was developed in-house at ICDL by Dr. Ben Bederson, library co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, working closely with a team from the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland.

We are constantly working to expand the library and increase its relevance worldwide

For the translation feature, children reading at the ICDL can select the language of their choice at the bottom of each page. As for readability, the text provided by the ClearText technology is sharper than before and will “pop out” to enlarge as needed. Text can even be read with a screen reader to support visually impaired readers. The book reader allows users to see a different version of the text in place and enables the text size to be changed or read aloud using a standard screen reader. It works by visually removing the text from the original image of the book, and then using the Web browser to display the text on top of the image of the book.

Additionally, the ClearText technology allows for users of the library to have increased options in selecting a language in which to read a book. For example, thanks to ClearText, Croatian author Andrea Petrlik’s moving book The Blue Sky is currently available in three languages. In addition to the technology improvements, a massive translation project is currently underway, being conducted by more than 1,200 online volunteer translators. Once a book is translated, there is a second review to validate the translation and ensure accuracy.

“We are constantly working to expand the library and increase its relevance worldwide,” said Executive Director of the International Children’s Digital Library, Tim Browne. “The ClearText application was developed specifically for the ICDL and makes it possible for more children from more countries to enjoy more books. We are delighted to unveil what we view as our most significant advancement to date.”