It’s Time to Sync!

Over the past few months we’ve been testing our new Sync services in Bluefire Reader. We’re pleased to announce that these new added-value services are now available to our white-label customers.

Our Page Location Sync service helps our white-label customers make their branded apps more competitive with the addition of one of our most requested user features. Page Location Sync makes it easy for readers to move from device to device and pick up right where they left off. The service works on both our iOS and Android white-label app platforms.

Bluefire’s new Analytics Service gives our white-label customers everything they need to start collecting and analyzing the key metrics that can help them develop a better understanding of how their apps are being used and what books are being read by their customers. The service includes an update of their apps that enables data tracking and collection. It also includes a personalized reporting site that they can access on demand to review and share their reports.

Sample Report: Reading Time per Day

Sample Report: Reading Time Per Day

With our new Analytics service our white-label customers can

  • Track their unique daily users to learn how and when your branded apps are being used;
  • Monitor the devices and form factors their customers are using to make more informed decisions about your mobile web design marketing strategy;
  • Monitor trending titles to measure the impact of marketing campaigns and price promotions.

Bluefire’s Sync and Analytics Services respect and protect privacy. Analytic data is aggregated and reported anonymously.

Interested in learning more? Contact us!

– Cliff

Entitle’s Nicely Executed Embedded Web View

Jason recently published a post on Auxiliary Tabs—secondary embedded web views that you can use for integrating blogs, book recommendations and more into your white-label apps. His post reminded me that I’d been meaning to write about a particularly well executed example a white-label embedded web view: Entitle.

Many of you may have already heard about Entitle—they are one of the leaders in the hot subscription service space. Entitle’s approach is closer to the traditional book club model than it is to “all you can eat” services like Scribd and Oyster. That said, Entitle customers get to keep their ebooks; Oyster and Scribd users don’t. Entitle customers choose a monthly plan that entitles them to download two books a month for $9.99 or three books a month for $14.99.

Here’s a screen shot of the “home page” embedded web view in their iOS app:

Entitle's "Home page" embedded Web view

Subscribers can see the books they’ve already added to their collection (“Latest Cloud Books”), their wish list of books they’ve tagged, but not yet downloaded (“View Your Queued Books”) and Entitle’s recommendations of books they might be interested in (“We Think You’ll Love”). As you can see, they’ve done a great job of creating a visually rich user experience.

Another nice feature of their implemenation is the ability to sample content. The screen shot below shows the “more information” view for a currently selected title.

Entitle More Information View

Again they’ve used the opportunity to promote related titles that might be of interest to the subscriber. When you click on the Sample icon you see the following:

Entitle's web based Sample browser

It’s a preview of the book delivered through the same embedded web view.

Nicely done Entitle!

– Cliff

White-Label App Tips & Tricks: The Auxiliary Tab

In November, we rolled out a redesign of Bluefire Reader for iOS, and later this year we will be rolling out a similar redesign of our Android app that will use Android 4.x design elements and styling to deliver an app that will light up in users’ hands. Our free versions of Bluefire Reader are the basis for our white-label apps. We call the free versions our “reference apps.”

With the update to our iOS reference app we’re included the ability for our white-label partners to add a fourth tab to their apps. That fourth tab, or Auxiliary Tab as we’ve been calling it, allows our partners to set up a second web view from inside the app that can be used for any purpose that they’d like – as long as it doesn’t run afoul of Apple’s rules regarding in-app purchasing!

We’ve received quite a few questions about the Auxiliary Tab from partners who weren’t sure just what to do with it, so I thought I’d share some of the ideas that we’ve had on how to get the most out of this new feature.

Let’s start with what we did with Bluefire Reader. We used the Get Books web tab in our app as a place where users can download free ebooks from our friends at Feedbooks. In that pane we consume an OPDS feed from Feedbooks that gives access to public domain  ebooks and free ebooks that can be downloaded directly into the app. We feel that is a great way to demonstrate some of the app’s functionality while also making available classic literature to our users.

We used the Auxiliary Tab in Bluefire Reader to share information about our company, providing marketing and other insights into Bluefire’s business and partners. We’ve found this space to be a valuable way of marketing our company in a relatively subtle way.

Of course, partners can use these tabs for other similar strategies. Most of our partners have some sort of credential-based “cloud shelf” in the Get Books tab, and we strongly recommend that they stay with that for that tab. But there are so many possible options for the fourth tab. Obviously you can offer free ebooks, or can use the tab for marketing purposes as we do. Here are some other options that we recommend our partners consider.

Billboard page: A page that features cover images and blurbs about new books can be a useful way of showing the type of content available in your store as long as you don’t give users the option to buy books from within that tab.

Blog: If you have a blog on your site that is used to promote your products, the Auxiliary  Tab is an ideal place to feature that. This is a nice way to share information on new ebooks that you’re promoting or let readers know details about your company’s operations. As long as there are no calls to action in this tab, and no pricing information for books, a blog can be a nice fit for many of our partners.

FAQ/User Guide: The Auxiliary Tab is an ideal place to post an FAQ or User Guide to address user questions about your app or store. It can be used as a supplement to your existing ePub-formatted User Guide that ships with the app or can take the place of that book.

Free or sample books feed: If you’d like to offer users the chance to download free samplers from books, you can include a browsable view into that list from the Auxiliary Tab. This is an ideal way to tease content while avoiding soliciting user purchases. Any sample books included in this tab must avoid pricing information or a call to action to download.

Localized webpage: If your website is available in multiple languages, you can deliver one language in the main Web View tab and another in the Auxiliary Tab.

Recommended reading: You can highlight books that you feel are especially notable or popular that are available through your store.

Author interviews or bonus content: Offer multimedia content relevant to the books you sell such as author interviews, videos, trailers or other similar content.

Really, there is no limit to the choices you can make. We encourage you to think creatively, brainstorm ideas and consider the best way to maximize the perceptions that users will have of your apps. We’re always available if you’d like to bounce your ideas off of us.

We’re excited to see what our partners come up with.

– Jason


A Little Ketchup…

We’ve been hard at work for the past few months. So busy in fact that we’ve neglected to post! So before we head off for the long holiday weekend here are a few tasty updates.

Recent releases

We’ve issued a number of updates over the summer—mostly performance updates and bug fixes. Our latest versions are:

  • Bluefire Reader for iOS, version 1.9.7
  • Bluefire Reader for Android, version 1.5.8

Development update

We have a number of big development projects underway.

  • We’re on track to release our reading location synchronization and analytics services this fall. Blame this project for our long silence—we’ve been busy reading, syncing, checking stats and tweaking reports. It’s going to be cool!
  • We’re also making good headway on our ePUB 3 enabled app updates. Our Readium team-members are cranking out code and we’re all busy integrating and testing.

Look for more details on these two initiatives and more (including our iOS 7 release) in the next few weeks.

Frankfurt Book Fair

We will be exhibiting at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. If you’re planning on attending please stop by. We’re in Hall 8, L154.

Micah will be speaking on new developments in DRM at the Publisher’s Launch conference on Tuesday, October 8th. And, we’re hosting two panels on ePUB 3 in the Digital Zone during the show.

The first panel will be held on Wednesday, October 9th at 10:30 AM. It’s an ePUB 3 update for publishers. You’ll hear a progress report on the rollout of ePUB 3 across the publishing industry and learn how publishers are transitioning to ePUB 3. The panel features Bill McCoy of the IDPF and Leslie Hulse from HarperCollins Publishers.

The second panel will be held on Thursday, October 10th at 4:00 PM. The subject is ePUB 3 reading applications. You’ll hear from Micah and Jean-Marie Geffroy, President of Montano SAS. They’ll be talking about the Readium project and demoing ePUB 3 enabled apps.

Please stop by!

Have a great holiday weekend. We promise to post more frequently in the weeks and months to come!

– Cliff

Customer-Friendly ACS

This is a post for readers of this blog who are currently using (or are planning on using) Adobe Content Server for the distribution of eBooks. Below you’ll find a few “best practices” for you to consider based on our experiences working with ACS technologies over the last several years. These suggestions mostly apply to retailers, but often require the agreement and cooperation of rights-holders and distributors to make these practices a reality.

  1. Enable customers to re-download purchased items multiple times.  Do not restrict a purchase to a single download. Avid readers often have multiple devices and acquire new devices over time.
  2. Enable customers to transfer content between devices. The Adobe solution provides the option to restrict a downloaded file to a “single device,” but it is rarely advisable to do that. While buyers can often re-download files directly to another device, there are many different reasons why customers may need to transfer files (a tethered reading device is a good example), and it is important that customers can back up their purchased files to future-proof against unforeseen events.
  3. Craft distribution agreements as a long-term commitment whenever possible—at least for previously sold content even after sell rights expire. Consumers fully expect to be able to re-download purchased content well into the future so it is important that retailers do not find themselves in a position where they are unable to provide that service. This fact is true with or without the use of DRM.
  4. Offer your customers free branded reading applications for mobile devices and desktop machines and tightly integrate your content acquisition workflows into these apps. This greatly reduces customer friction and builds your brand identity and customer relationships.
  5. Utilize the Adobe Vendor ID service that enables your customers to authorize their ereading applications with their retail store account credentials rather than having to go get an Adobe ID account. This enables you to offer the “single sign-in” user experience that consumers expect.
  6. Make sure that your reading applications support multiple user account authorizations for your customers that share devices with their spouse or child, or have multiple accounts for several other valid reasons.
  7. Enable customers to re-download purchased titles to devices that are authorized with a different user account. An example of this is enabling a customer to re-download a file that was initially downloaded to a device authorized with their Adobe ID account—to a different device owned by the same customer—but that is authorized with their spouse’s account credentials.  While many modern apps enable users to add multiple account authorizations to a single device, many older apps and devices do not support that. It is reasonable to limit this to two or three accounts as that covers the vast majority of valid use cases while limiting the potential for abuse.
  8. Offer customers an alternate download link option that is not “tied” to your own reading apps that enable customers to more easily read purchased items on their favorite third-party reading app or device that leverage the Adobe platform.
  9. Offer good help and support content and services.  Don’t try to sweep it under the rug or ignore it just because it is not an easy topic.

– MIcah