Category Archives: Standards

E-textbooks not ready for college students yet?

From Teleread   By David Rothman

image 6 Lessons One Campus Learned about E-Textbooks is the headline over Jeffrey R. Young’s article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. But perhaps it should read instead, “E-textbooks not ready for college students yet, at least in many cases.”

Northwestern Missouri State University used the Sony Reader in a pilot study and, according to Young, found that students demanded printed books instead because of navigation problems with E.

Mind you, this wasn’t with the new PRS-700, which lets you use a stylus to move around. So maybe the results would have been different. Continue reading

Tim O’Reilly: Kindle needs open ePub-style standard to survive, from Teleread.org

Tim O’Reilly: Kindle needs open ePub-style standard to survive
www.teleread.org – Posted: 23 Feb 2009 08:40 AM CST
“Unless Amazon embraces open e-book standards like ‘epub,’ which allow readers to read books on a variety of devices, the Kindle will be gone within two or three years.” – Tim O’Reily in Why Kindle should be an open book, in Forbes.

The TeleRead take: It’s hard to tell how things will shake out, but Tim persuasively summons up a little history—Microsoft’s failed attempt with the Microsoft Network publishing platform. By contrast, O’Reilly got on the Web early with the Global Net Navigator and in time was well rewarded for the experience it gained with an open approach.

The point is, closed standards are a pain in the rear for e-book-lovers and other users who inevitably will want hardware or content that isn’t compatible with MegaCorp’s system. This disillusionment is a little akin to decaying Web links. At first, people buy into Mega’s plans and think that its  proprietary product line will endure forever. Only later do the hassles emerge.

E-book lessons from Oprah’s past
Remember how Oprah touted Gemstar e-book readers some years ago? But then consumers rebelled against a limited choice of books. Even now, following her backing of the Kindle, Oprah fans are finding that many O-blessed books are missing. Last I knew, she wasn’t doing a K version of her O magazine. Her fans may also have been put off by the complexities of the technology, to which proprietary formats can add.

While Jeff Bezos can talk of offering every book in E, he’s jeopardizing his own version by aiming for exclusives. What happens when other giants step in and start bidding wars—not just for temporary exclusivity but in time for the permanent variety?

The score that really counts in book-selling

More importantly, Jeff should also remember that the most meaningful score in the book-selling isn’t market share but healthy growth of earnings. Closed standards like the Kindle’s will slow down the rate of e-book adoption, as people find that his supposedly universal solution isn’t one at all.

What’s more, with Kindle-type DRM, all kinds of nasty issues emerge, such as the inability of readers to own their books for real. Jeff was smart enough to set up a music store without DRM. He should consider the the same for e-books, using social DRM, if need be, in place of “real” DRM. Publishers could still have the option of using DRM, but I suspect that market pressures would encourage back off from this consumer nightmare. DRM is especially nasty in that it turns nonproprietary e-formats into proprietary ones.
Technorati Tags: Tom O’Reilly,O’Reilly Media

e-content will overtake traditional books in sales by 2018

Just one of the findings from the Frankfurt Book Fair survey of over 1,000 industry professionals.  All of the survey results are in the press release.

Here’s a snippet about the challenges, which I find interesting:

Challenges facing the industry

70 per cent of respondents may feel ready for the digital challenge, but industry professionals nevertheless recognised the need to work together to tackle certain issues. The following top four concerns will be discussed at length during this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair:

• copyright – 28 per cent – typical…
• digital rights management – 22 per cent  – Oh, that nasty DRM
• standard format (such as epub) – 21 per cent  – how about one platform while you’re at it
• retail price maintenance – 16 per cent – hopefully this will filter to library price maintenance too

eBooks, DRM, and ILL, a superior blend or a toxic cocktail?

My recent discussion with Cynthia Cleto from Springer got me thinking about some issues.  I’m curious if Springer’s model – no DRM and ILL rights – is unique or if other ebook publishers and aggregators offer similar things.  To me, it’s a superior blend, but I’m thinking that most publishers and aggregators feel it’s a toxic cocktail….

DRM – Digital Rights Management.  Springer uses none.  What about others?  I know the services with one book – one user biz models use DRM to control access and checkout/due dates.  But, there are many other services with unlimited simultaneous user access, full print and cut/paste features.  Are they using DRM?  Ones that come to mind are GVRL, Sage, Oxford, Greenwood, and Credo.

Interlibrary Loan – wow, I’ve never heard of any eBook service offering ILL.  Springer allows full ILL on its content, following normal ILL procedures.  Is anyone else doing this?   Typically, ebooks and ILL don’t mix, which is a major disadvantage of ebooks, probably one that is preventing many from taking the eBook route.   Traditionally, we’ve been able to send most of our purchased items via ILL, but with the advent of licensing agreements and authorized uses, we are losing our ILL rights.  It’s nice to see that Springer is not following that road.

I think I’ll start investigating more about DRM and ILL in the eBook world.  That will give me something else to rant about instead of my usual rant – one single platform!

If you have comments or more information on these issues, I’d love to hear them.

EPUB Standard now on Sony Reader

From Publishers Weekly:

Sony Adopts EPUB Standard for Reader

By Jim Milliot — Publishers Weekly, 7/24/2008 7:16:00 AM

The International Digital Publishing Forum’s epub e-book standard received a big vote of support this morning when Sony announced that effective immediately its Sony Reader will now support the standard. Beginning in August, all new devices shipped will use epub, and right now owners of existing devices can go to http://esupport.sony.com to update their device’s software for epub support.

Brennan Mullin, v-p of Sony Audio, said the company was adopting the epub standard to encourage more vendors, booksellers and publishers to get involved in the e-book market and to broaden the amount of content that can be viewed on the Reader. The move to use epub is a significant change in approach for Sony, which has used its own standards and restricted consumers to buying e-books for the Reader from its own store. The use of epub will allow consumers to buy titles from a variety of outlets and will grow the number of titles compatible with the Reader to well passed the 45,000 now available through its online store. Another avenue for new material will be Adobe: Sony also annouced today that the device will support Adobe e-books with DRM and will also have the capability to reflow standard PDF e-books and other documents.

Publishers, who generally favor the one-format approach made possible by epub, welcomed Sony’s decision. “Sony’s support of epub is an important step forward in the cooperation of publishers and portable digital book manufacturers to create better experiences for readers,” said Brent Lewis, v-p digital & internet for Harlequin. “We’re thrilled with the upgrade.”  IDPF, of which Sony is a member, approved epub as an industrywide standard in an attempt to foster interoperability among e-book reading devices.

Mullin said sales of the Reader have been steady and that sales of titles have increased. Interest in e-books has grown and although reluctant to credit a competitor, Mullin acknowledged that the buzz around Amazon’s Kindle “has been good for everybody in the e-book market.” Amazon, however, has not adopted the epub standard.

In addition to adopting the epub standard, Sony has announced it has started offering the Reader in the U.K.

eBooks and ILL, is there a solution?

I’ve been hearing lots of conversation about eBooks and the inability to use them for ILL requests.  With a shift in purchasing to electronic, how will this affect the ILL service? Should we be getting ILL rights with purchase?  How would that work in the world of authentication and proxy servers?  Are librarians thinking about ILL needs when purchasing electronic titles over print? What are your thoughts?

Sue