So, I'm thinking about doing a semi-regular series that will keep an eye on what is going on in the world of digital books. It is a constantly growing and changing field that will sooner or later affect all Readers and Book Lovers.
What do you think? I've included a sample below the fold.
There is an interesting look at a future where libraries no longer carry books in the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. I can see a time when your local library consists of multiple computer stations and books that don't lend themselves to e-book format. And maybe a coffee bar.
...such a library is opening in San Antonio, Texas, this fall. There, with nary a book in sight, patrons will read on computer screens.And in the UK, they are considering ebooks in their libraries, according to The Register.com:
Crazy? Pat Conley doesn't think so.
As the director of the Washington County library system, she is watching as per-capita demand for books stagnates, computer demand soars and big, free-standing libraries begin to fade into history.
The UK government will consider paying writers each time their ebooks and audio books are borrowed from public libraries - just like scribes are recompensed when their dead-tree tomes are loaned.Independent booksellers are doing better selling Kobo's e-reader and books than they were doing with Google.
Culture minister Ed Vaizey announced a decision will be made after a formal review concluded libraries must stock digital titles or become "increasingly irrelevant". It's hoped that by paying novelists and poets for ebook loans, their publishers will offer the electronic works to libraries, and that this will entice Brits back into public libraries.
Just six months after forging a partnership with the American Booksellers Association (ABA) to help independent bookstores sell ebooks, Canadian upstart Kobo has shown that it can crush the competition – even when the competition is one of the world’s largest and most admired companies.Only problem is the slim profit margins: 5% for the device and 8% to 20% on the e-books which compares poorly to the normal 20% to 50% that they get on other goods they sell. Many are offering the Kobos because they know their customers want e-books and this gives them a toehold in their battle to flourish in spite of the larger sellers like B&N, Apple and Amazon.
In fact, it only took a month.
According to the ABA, Kobo has helped indies sell more ebooks in its first month working with them late last year than Google did in more than two years in a similar partnership.
Speaking of Amazon, it has released a new tool for writers self-publishing there. Called the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Cover Creator it is a free tool in beta testing. It was leaked to The Digital Reader where you can find pictures if you are interested.
Though the clear favorite among self-published authors as a distributor of ebooks, Amazon is very much in competition to continue offering more attractive services to lure authors away from competitors — other self-publishing platforms and traditional publishers. The competition is fierce. Ebook production and distribution platform Vook, for instance, recently added a cover design tool to its suite of author services. And the competition doesn’t just come from self-publishing platforms and technology vendors: Simon & Schuster now offers data on ebook piracy on a title-by-title basis to its authors through its author portal.It would be so nice to see the authors gain some power in the industry.
Publishers, self-publishing platforms and ebook distributors are currently in an arms race to curry the favor of authors, who are increasingly in positions of control in the industry.
Especially as they are losing ground elsewhere, according to Scott Turow, President of the Authors Guild, wriitng in the New York Times on Sunday:
Last month, the Supreme Court decided to allow the importation and resale of foreign editions of American works, which are often cheaper than domestic editions. Until now, courts have forbidden such activity as a violation of copyright. Not only does this ruling open the gates to a surge in cheap imports, but since they will be sold in a secondary market, authors won’t get royalties.It has been two months since MacMillan signed the settlement with the DOJ over its pricing scheme that I wrote about here. Retailers have finally started reflecting the price reductions called for under the settlement as reported by paidcontent.org:
According to the terms of the settlement, Macmillan — like the other settling publishers — can’t restrict retailers like Amazon from setting, changing, or lowering ebook prices for two years. Though Macmillan only settled in February, its settlement gave it a back-dated head start on the two-year period, running from December 18, 2012 — the same date that Penguin agreed to settle.As the article mentions, I haven't seen much in the way of reductions from the other defendants in that suit; Penguin is still setting the prices for its e-books on Amazon.
Penguin has decided to allow libraries to carry its ebooks after pulling out of a relationship with OverDrive in 2011.
Now that Penguin is running ebook trials with two new library distributors — Baker & Taylor and 3M — the publisher has decided it is safe to make new ebooks available for lending again, the AP reported Wednesday. Penguin has been tracking ebook checkouts at libraries to make sure they are not cutting into paid book sales, and found that “the effect of library downloads on commercial revenues has been acceptable.”"Why Do We Keep Making Ebooks Like Paper Books?" asks Kane Hsleh of Gizmodo.
In its library trials, Penguin allows an ebook to be lent to only one person at a time, and after a year the library has to buy a new copy of the ebook. The prices for libraries are the same as retail prices. Penguin’s library ebooks aren’t available to Kindle users, because Baker & Taylor and 3M do not yet support the format.
Other publishers also place restrictions on ebook library lending. Random House makes all of its ebooks available to libraries, but at prices as much as three times higher than the retail price. HarperCollins allows its ebooks to be checked out 26 times before the library has to buy a new copy. Hachette only makes new ebooks available to some libraries in a pilot program, and charges more than retail price. Macmillan is running a two-year trial that makes 1,200 older ebooks available to libraries. Simon & Schuster does not make its ebooks available to libraries.
There is no reason I need to turn fake pages. If I'm using a computer to read, I should be able to leverage the connectivity and processing power of that computer to augment my reading experience: ebooks should allow me to read on an infinite sheet, or I should be able to double blink to scroll. I should be able to practice language immersion by replacing words and phrases in my favorite books with other languages, or highlight sections to send to Quora or Mechanical Turk for analysis. There are endless possibilities for ebooks to make reading more accessible and immersvie than ever, but as long as ebooks try to be paper books, they will remain stuck in an uncanny valley of disappointment.He adds one of my favorite pet peeves about ebooks:
Another misstep in the growth of ebooks was the complete incompatability of previous libraries. People who have amassed libraries of paper books over many years were left behind by ebook distributors. Unlike music or photographs, there is no way to migrate an old book library into a new one. Over the past decade, I've been able to convert my tapes to CDs, my CDs to MP3s, and now import my MP3s into Spotify and listen to music over the cloud. Yet, if I want to read my favorite books on my Nexus 7, I have to pay for a separate ebook version, assuming one even exists.I just downloaded the 1989 version of Stephen King's The Stand. Did you know that the the 1989 version includes over 400 more pages than the original published in 1978? According to Hsleh:
Authors, no longer dependent on publishers, are afforded previously unheard of flexibility with story telling. A novella can seamlessly grow into a thousand page epic, one chapter a week, urged by a growing fan base. Small steps in this direction are being made by companies such as Plympton, but it would be unwise to underestimate the potential for new sources of content through the democratization of publication.And finally, Jason Merkoski worked for Amazon when they were developing the Kindle and has written a book about ebooks.
In Burning the Page, digital pioneer Jason Merkoski charts the ebook revolution’s striking impact on the ways in which we create, discover, and share ideas. From the sleek halls of Silicon Valley to the jungles of Southeast Asia, Merkoski explores how ebooks came to be and predicts innovative and interactive ways digital content will shape our lives. Throughout, you are invited to continue the conversation online and help shape this exciting new world of “Reading 2.0.”A review of the book has been written by Laura Hazard Owen for paidcontent.org.
In a new book, former Kindle exec Jason Merkoski examines where e-reading platforms are now and how they could change in the future. If you’re looking for secrets about Jeff Bezos, though, you’re in the wrong place.