Companies Look to Transform Reading in the Classroom

“Companies that aspire to transform old-fashioned reading into an interactive media experience are on the rise, and they are increasingly looking to schools as a promising market,” writes Ainsley O’Connell in Fast Company.

One of the companies pursuing this burgeoning market is Booktrack, “which sells digital books that pair text with music and ambient sounds,” and since its founding in 2010 has grown its library to 15,000 titles and raised $10 million from investors.

But Booktrack is far from the only company trying to tap into this space. Recently, Amazon signed a $30 million deal with the New York City Department of Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt bought 700 interactive books from MeeGenius, a subscription service aimed at young readers, and Reading Rainbow parent company RRKidz has plans to release a classroom edition of its digital library this year.

But, as O’Connell points out, “experts caution educators to consider whether technology solutions are simply screen-based versions of long-standing classroom strategies.”

Much more.

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Amazon and the Realities of the ‘New Economy’ (New Yorker)
“Amazon provides a good example of how the New Economy really works,” writes John Cassidy in The New Yorker. “As the ‘New Economy’ celebrates its twentieth anniversary…it is becoming harder to ignore some of its negative aspects. Behind all the technological advances and product innovation, there is a good deal of old-fashioned labor discipline, wage repression, and exertion of management power.”

Amazon Could Face Class-Action Lawsuit (TechCrunch)
In the wake of the New York Times’s expose of Amazon’s white-collar working conditions, the tech company has pushed back to try to soften its image. According to TechCrunch, though, “employment attorneys suggest it may be a little soon for Amazon to break out the bubbly. They think there could well be a class-action lawsuit in the many anecdotes cited by the Times of employees who were treated poorly — particularly those who appear to have lost their jobs owing to health issues and other demands outside of Amazon.”

New York Times Changes Children’s Bestseller Lists (PW)
Starting August 21, the New York Times will tweak its children’s bestseller lists, separating hardcover middle grade and young adult titles from paperback and ebook bestsellers. The hardcover lists will appear in print, and the paperback and ebook lists will be available online. According to Publisher’s Weekly, “the changes were meant to be more useful for readers, authors, and publishers in helping discoverability of titles.”

HarperCollins India CEO Steps Down (PW)
HarperCollins India CEO P.M. Sukumar has decided to leave the company to pursue other interests. Sukumar joined HarperCollins India in 2005 while it was part of a joint venture with Living Media India and oversaw its transition to a wholly-owned subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishers in 2012.

Why India Should Enter the Chinese Book Market (Publishing Perspectives)
One writer discusses several reasons why it is important for Indian publishers to enter the Chinese book market. “Deals with Chinese libraries and academic institutions are happening worldwide and paving the way for content repackaging and recycling,” writes Hersh Bhardwaj. “A debate has been brewing for [the] last few years within India regarding ebook piracy. Traditional publishers with printed content have been apprehensive to go digital. Discussing this with their Chinese counterparts can help Indian publishers see the bigger picture.”

Crowdfunder Pubslush Acquired by Colborne Communications (DBW)
Colborne Communications announced that it has acquired the book crowdfunding site Pubslush as of August 24th. Pubslush will continue to take submissions for all book crowdfunding and pre-order campaigns.

Frankfurt Book Fair Partners with PressReader (DBW)
According to a press release, the Frankfurt Book Fair has announced a partnership with PressReader, a Canada-based digital media platform. As the exclusive news partner of the Frankfurt Book Fair, PressReader will provide unlimited digital access to more than 4,000 newspapers and magazines from all over the world to all attendees.

Smartphone Sales Begin to Slow (Gartner)
In a press release, research firm Gartner announced that “worldwide smartphone sales recorded the slowest growth rate since 2013 in the second quarter of 2015. Worldwide sales of smartphones to end users totaled 330 million units, an increase of 13.5 percent over the same period in 2014.”

How to Sell Digital Products Through Your Website (Jane Friedman)
Publishing consultant Jane Friedman has a three-step tutorial on how to integrate the ability to sell digital products through your website, a tool that can be useful for authors and their self-published ebooks.


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