Kindle2 Sony Reader in the personal market

Michael Pelikan has written an interesting article in Against the Grain about the Kindle Sony ebook reader showdown (Feb 2009 issue, article not available online.)  Michael focuses this first article on the personal use market, but I’m (impatiently) awaiting the next installment when he will look at library support for reading devices.  Michael is from Penn State where they’ve partnered with Sony to distribute Sony Readers through the library and within selected courses.  The article includes interesting comments from faculty about the experience.  He also gives a shout-out to calibre, open source ebook management software.

Checklist for evaluating eBook aggregators

A colleague of mine, Deborah Lenares, from Wellesley College forwarded me her checklist for evaluating eBook aggregators.  We thought it would be a good idea to share this spreadsheet and allow other librarians the opportunity to add evaluation criteria.  So, if you are interested in viewing/adding to it, you’ll find it on google docs.   Caution, as soon as you make a change to the spreadsheet, it’s there for good, or at least until someone else changes it.  We’ll see how this goes.

Webinar on the Google Book Settlement next week

The Copyright Clearance Center is sponsoring a webinar on April 14th called, The Authors Guild, AAP, Google Settlement: What Authors & Publishers Need to Know as May 5th Approaches. More info here.

Details include:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 12:00 pm
Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -04:00, New York)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 5:00 pm
GMT Daylight Time (GMT +01:00, London) Continue reading Webinar on the Google Book Settlement next week

No Shelf Required – 10,000 Visitors and Growing

Thank you for your support, No Shelf Required readers, subscribers, and supporters.  We hit a milestone in March with the 10,000th unique visitor to NSR.  Clearly, ebooks are a hot topic with this much interest in the blog in less than one year.  Let’s keep that interest and conversation going strong.  We welcome your comments, posts, ideas, and more.  Other NSR stats include:    Continue reading No Shelf Required – 10,000 Visitors and Growing

Digital Book 2009: An eBook Stimulus Plan for Publishing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Michael Smith Executive Director International Digital Publishing Forum 905-235-4373 msmith@idpf.org

Digital Book 2009: An eBook Stimulus Plan for Publishing

NYC Conference to focus on booming eBook business and winning commercial models

New York, NY April 06, 2009: The Association of American Publishers (AAP) reported last week that eBook sales represent the fastest growing segment of the industry while US book sales are in decline across all major book publishing markets.  To promote eBook commercial success for booksellers, publishers, authors, and distributors the International Digital Publishing Forum (www.IDPF.org) will host its annual spring educational seminar on Tuesday, May 12, 2009 at the McGraw-Hill Auditorium in New York City.  Added to this fast-paced “best practices” conference will be a half-day workshop to be held on the afternoon of Monday, May 11, 2009.   Please see www.idpf.org/digitalbook09

Continue reading Digital Book 2009: An eBook Stimulus Plan for Publishing

Twitter your Haiku on DailyLit, and then some

DailyLit Logo

DailyLit, the site that lets you read ebooks in small chunks via email or RSS, has announced some new features including daily poems, the affiliate program, and twitter feeds.  For more information on DailyLit, listen to the NSR interview with Susan Danziger, CEO/Founder.

-DailyLit collaborated with Poets & Writers to launch DailyLit’s public serialization program with daily poems.  The series, launched yesterday in celebration of National Poetry Month, is called Masters of Verse: 30 Poems by Late, Great Authors. If you check out the landing page of the Poets & Writers site, you’ll see that if you click onthe “Read More” button a lightbox appears so that you can view a different poem a day directly on their site (the poem automatically changes each day).  DailyLit supplied the widget that allows this public serialization.   This widget is a great way to build community around a site (folks can return to the site each day to read a new installment — in this case a new poem — and if a reader wants to have a private RSS feed or have the installments sent to his or her email, they can sign up for the DailyLit book via that site.)

-DailyLit also just launched an affiliate program.  If a third party affiliate site features a DailyLit title, and someone signs up for that title via that third party site, then in each installment of the featured book will be a note “You found us through [insert name of site]” with a link to that site.  For instance, if you subscribe to Masters of Verse on the pw.org site, each installment says “You found us through Poets & Writers”).  In fact, today Etsy, the huge online marketplace for buying and selling all things handmade, is announcing Thoreau’s Walden as its new selection for its book club; DailyLit is working with Etsy to provide this book to their readers via the new affiliate program.  It’s an exciting initiative particularly since Etsy has over two million community members!

-DailyLit recently launched an integration with Twitter that allows folks to link their DailyLit profile to Twitter.  Their actions on DailyLit are automatically tweeted to their followers, e.g.  starting a particular book, commenting in our forums, reviewing a book, adding a book to their “To Read” list or completing a book.

Britannica’s Overhaul

Original article in Boston Globe.  By Hiawatha Bray Boston Globe Staff / March 31, 2009

Enter Britannica
For 241 years, it’s been the gold standard of reference books, a premium-priced digest of the world’s accumulated knowledge. Now it’s being overwhelmed by an eight-year-old online upstart authored by amateurs and available at no charge. How can Encyclopaedia Britannica survive in a wiki world?

The venerable Encyclopaedia Britannica is preparing for the most radical overhaul in its 241-year history, and it’s recruiting its readers to do much of the work.

It’s a bid by Britannica to remain relevant at a time when the world’s most popular encyclopedia, the eight-year-old website Wikipedia, is written entirely by amateur experts. The new version of Britannica Online, set to debut this summer, will emulate the Wikipedia concept by letting subscribers make changes to any article, ranging from minor edits to near-total rewrites.

But Britannica president Jorge Cauz scoffs at the idea that he’s merely imitating his giant online rival. “I don’t believe it’s accurate to say that Britannica and Wikipedia are becoming more similar,” he said. While Wikipedia is written and edited by amateurs who often work anonymously, Britannica Online articles will be overseen by professional editors. In addition, there will be no anonymity: Authors and editors will be identified by name. Cauz said this will give Britannica Online articles a credibility and authority Wikipedia can’t match.

If Wikipedia’s credibility is lower than Britannica’s, users don’t seem to mind. With its 10 million articles – 2.7 million in English – and its 275 million readers per month, Wikipedia’s scale and popularity dwarf that of Britannica’s online edition, which serves just 200,000 households and offers just 112,000 articles.

Wikipedia grew so popular partly because it’s free, while Britannica Online charges $70 a year. And Wikipedia’s array of articles is so vast because anybody can write for it. Only paying subscribers will be eligible to write for Britannica Online.

Cauz concedes that Britannica will never have as many articles as Wikipedia. But he said many Wikipedia articles are about trivial topics Britannica has no interest in covering. “They can talk about porno actors and cartoon characters as well as heart attacks,” said Cauz. “That is something we will never do.”

Instead, Britannica will still focus on its core market: schools, libraries, and homes, where people need authoritative information on important topics.

Britannica still prints a traditional multivolume encyclopedia and other reference works, but about 75 percent of the company’s revenue come from online sales. Privately held Britannica won’t reveal its revenue and earnings numbers, but Cauz said the company has turned a profit for the past five years.

The upgraded encyclopedia is set to debut this summer, but a test version is already up and running. Users who open an article are given an editing option that turns the Web browser into a mini word processor, where they can make small or large revisions. These changes are submitted to a Britannica editor, and perhaps to the article’s author.

“We have full responsibility,” said Cauz. “Every article will have to go through the rigorous editorial review of Britannica.” If the changes pass muster, they’re added to the official Britannica article, and the name of the user who made the changes is published on the website.

Cauz noted Britannica Online will allow edits of all its articles. Ironically, this will give Britannica a more open editing policy than Wikipedia’s. Despite its reputation for openness, Wikipedia permanently “locks” some articles on controversial people and subjects to prevent changes. “We want to stop . . . what we call drive-by vandalism,” said Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales.

Indeed, since its founding in 2001, Wikipedia has gradually tightened its standards, according to Andrew Lih, a Wikipedia editor and author of a new book, “The Wikipedia Revolution.”

“When it was first started, it was completely open editing,” Lih said. “Over the years, they’ve started to put more restrictions on it, simply because as you have a larger and larger crowd, it attracts more vandals.”

For example, about 3,000 articles are “semiprotected,” meaning that they can only be modified by Wikipedia users who have been members of the site for more than four days. Wales said he’s not entirely happy with this limitation. “One of the problems with semiprotection,” he said, “is that it’s difficult for newcomers to get involved.”

The German edition of Wikipedia addressed this problem by using “flagged revisions” of sensitive articles. These can be freely modified by anybody, even Wikipedia newcomers. But the modifications are flagged for review by a trusted editor before being published.

Now Wales plans to introduce flagged revisions to the English-language version of Wikipedia. He called it “an effort to open up pages to public editing that we have not had open to public editing for several years.”

If flagged editing works, it will make Wikipedia more open to public revision. But since some articles will remain locked, Wikipedia still won’t be quite as open to revision as Britannica Online.

Another addition to Britannica Online will come even closer to the original Wikipedia model. Cauz said Britannica subscribers and authors of articles for the encyclopedia will be given access to a separate area, where they can write articles on any topic they choose. When a Britannica Online user searches for information on a topic, links to these independent articles will appear alongside the official Britannica article. Each article will carry the names of its author and anyone who’s edited it, but there will be no review by Britannica editors, and the company won’t vouch for its accuracy.

Its critics say Wikipedia’s good name has been damaged by poorly written or libelous articles posted on the site. Britannica’s new feature could put its own reputation on the line. But determined to reinvent itself, Britannica is taking the risk.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at bray@globe.com.

E-books continue to grow significantly, sales reached $113 million in 2008, up 68.4%

Forwarding a post from teleread.org

By Paul Biba

That is according to the Association of American Publishers. Here is their press release (emphasis added by the Editor):

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) today released its annual estimate of total book sales in the United States. The report, which uses data from the Bureau of the Census as well as sales data from eighty-one publishers inclusive of all major book publishing media market holders, estimates that U.S. publishers had net sales of $24.3 billion in 2008, down from $25.0 billion in 2007, representing a 2.8% decrease. In the last six years the industry had a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.6%.

Trade sales of adult and juvenile books fell 5.2 percent from 2007 to $8.1 billion, CAGR fell to 2.1 percent. Growth was found in paperbound books for children and adults, with growth rates of 6.4% and 3.6% respectively. Sales in the hardcover fell 12.4% in children’s hardcover and 13% in adult hardcover.

Over the period covered by the estimated data, the CAGR for hardbound books was 0.4% for adult books and 1.5% for juvenile. Paperbound books grew 3.9% and 2.8% over the 6 years.

Educational titles had a mixed year. Sales in the Elementary (El-Hi) category, those books produced for K-12 education, fell 4.4% to $6.1 billion in 2008, CAGR for this category was 0.8%. The Higher Education category, which includes sales of college textbooks, fared better. Total sales reached $3.8 billion this year up 2.7% on 2007. This brought the CAGR for college textbooks to 3.8%

Mass Market paperbacks decreased 3.0% and brought the category CAGR to -1.9%. Total sales were $1.1 billion in 2008. Book clubs and mail-order fell for the sixth year to $600 million, a fall of 3.4%.

Audio book sales for 2008 totaled $172 million, down 21% on the prior year, CAGR for this category is still healthy at 3.1%. E-books continue to grow significantly, sales reached $113 million in 2008, up 68.4%.

Religious book sales dropped 7.6% to $724m in 2008. However over the period of the estimate it has still performed well with CAGR of 4.5%.

A complete list of the preliminary estimated book publishing industry net sales for 2008 prepared by Management Practice, Inc. is available here.

E-book Usage Data Article

The April 1, 2009 “Off The Shelf” column features an article on E-book usage data.  The article surveyed 10 e-book vendors and aggregators for information on their usage data.  A comparative chart accompanies the article, which is only available online, on the NSR articles page.

7 vendors replied to the survey, 1 couldn’t participate due to usage data restructuring, and 2 did not reply.  The 2 no replies serve primarily the public and school library markets, so this usage chart is heavy on academic providers.

A blog discussing the news and issues surrounding eBooks, for librarians and publishers.