The Next Generation of QR Codes

QR codes are everywhere. I see them on banana stickers, in coupons, on brochures, and in many other print advertising formats. Almost everyone with a Smart phone knows what a QR code is and how to use it. Just when I was getting used to QR codes, along comes another new enhanced technology similar to QR codes but with more features.


The other day, I was reading a print magazine. Many of the pages of the magazine contained a small logo that read “layar”. There was a small inset in the front of the magazine that introduced this logo and stated that the publication had been digitally enhanced through the use of layar.

The instructions for using layar were very similar to a QR code: download the app, take photo of the page using the app, and watch the digitally enhanced editions (video, etc.). Curious, I decided to learn more.

Layar is similar to QR codes. It is called Augmented Reality (AR) and it layers digital information directly on top of print items. When a page is scanned with the app, the additional information is displayed. The app has social networking integrated right into it so that users can immediately share what they are viewing with others through their social networking sites.

Layar is definitely the next generation of QR codes. However, unlike QR codes, it is not free to create. So, the good news is that the layar app will also read a QR code.

You can learn more about layar by watching this video.

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Way Ahead of the Competition

I recently came across a statistic that surprised me. It shouldn’t have, but it did. I knew Amazon had a corner on the ebook market, I guess I was a little surprised at just how much ebook business they do.


According to new data from the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), Amazon is way ahead of the competition when it comes to selling ebooks in the United States. Based on reader surveys, BISG found that Amazon has about two-thirds of the U.S. ebook market share while its closest competitors—Barnes & Noble and then Apple—have about 10% each.

Did you catch that? Two out of every three ebooks purchased are bought on Amazon, with Barnes & Noble and Apple not just a little behind that, but way behind. Together, these three ebook sellers make up a total of 87% of all ebook sales.

Amazon may have a majority of ebook sales, but that has not stopped competitors from trying to gain some of that market share.

The latest to arise is a new ebook store for indie authors called Libiro. Launched by two self-published authors, Libiro is striving to provide independent authors and small presses an alternative to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks. Realizing that quality indie authors often struggle to get noticed amongst the crowd on Amazon, Libiro wants to be the place where indie authors can excel.

Libiro gives that author more control than many of the other online bookstores. An author sets the price of a book and it stays that price. Libiro pays a higher royalty than Amazon. It offers an 80% royalty as standard regardless of book length or price.

The service is still in start-up mode, however, since it does not cost any money to list an ebook in this store, indie authors may want to give it a try. After all, the more places your books are listed on the web, the better exposure you get.

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24-7 Book Lending Machine

As American’s, we love instant gratification. Have you ever been frustrated by your local library’s hours? That may soon be a thing of the past.

EnvisionWare is doing a service for the public library system, similar to the service that OnDemand Books is providing for buying books with its Espresso Book Machine. The Espresso Book Machine is letting buyers have instant access to books that are not physically sold in a bookstore.

While EnvisionWare’s new book vending machine will not help independent authors and small publishers increase the distribution reach of their books (as the Espresso Book Machine does), it does provide an interesting and unique service.

Last month, the first 24-hour library vending machine in the United States opened. Built by EnvisionWare, this fully automated machine will be able to dispense more than 400 pieces of media (books/DVDs/audiobooks) and store more than 1000 returned items.

Check out how the machine works in this video created by the machine’s maker.

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The Latest on eBook Sales

Will ebook sales surpass the sales of printed books by 2017 as some have predicted (see Prediction for eBooks)?

A new study by the Book Industry Study Group found that the share of all new ebooks sold in 2013—both in units and dollars—has been flat at about 30% for units sold and just under 15% of book dollars spent. In addition, the study found that the percent of book buyers who read ebooks on at least a weekly basis as well as the percent who have bought an ebook have similarly stalled at around 20% and 25%, respectively.

ebook statsIn essence, ebook growth has not continued on the predicted scale. Yes, ebook sales are still increasing, just not at the rate previously predicted, which leaves the question of just when ebook sales will equal or surpass print book sales.

Those in the industry who favor producing digital-books-only are eagerly awaiting the day that ebook sales surpass print book sales. This leveling out of ebook sales growth may mean these individuals and companies will have to wait longer than previously anticipated.

If you are one that favors digital books, take heart. Not all ebook news is discouraging.

A recent poll by USA Today and found the following:

  • Some 40% of adults own an e-reader or tablet, double the percentage of two years ago.
  • 35% of those with reading devices are reading more than before.
  • 27% of readers say they have used Facebook, Twitter or book websites to comment on a book.

One thing is for sure: eBooks have become an integral part of publishing and selling books. As a result, to achieve optimal sales and profits, publishers and independently published authors must produce and sell their books in both print and digital format.

Are you on board?

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