npr Story on DRM in eBooks

npr’s All Things Considered program had a really nice piece on ebooks and DRM – the good and the bad.  You can listen or read it here.

In the story, authors are presented as anti-DRM, no restrictions, they want people to read their material not be locked out by restrictions.  In contrast, the Amazon Kindle VP states that they have very little complaints about DRM restrictions and a publisher is portrayed as a DRM supporter.  The author, Laura Sydell, says “But DRM could become a problem if the Kindle goes bust — then all those people who bought Kindle eBooks with DRM will have no way to read them because no other device can open the files.”  I think that VP of Kindle will start getting the complaints then!  Guess this shouldn’t surprise me, the companies who will make the most profit from publishing a title want restrictions and the authors, who probably only get 10%, want it open!

Thoughts on the UM Press Digital Move

You’ve probably read the news about the University of Michigan Press going digital only with most of their titles.  They’ve decided to jump to the future business model ahead of many publishers, by going digital now, rather than later.  I like their reasoning for the move.  Phil Pochoda, Director of the UM Press was quoted in the Inside Higher Ed article to say “Why try to fight your way through this? Why try to remain in territory you know is doomed? Scholarly presses will be primarily digital in a decade. Why not seize the opportunity to do it now?”

Another reason for the decision was to increase the number of titles that UM Press could publish.  With the cost of printing and distribution, only titles that would sell, sell, sell were printed.  Publishing digital only means more titles from more scholars on more topics, not just those that fit the mainstream.  I think that’s good for everyone.

UM Press can also utilize the new Espresso Book Machine acquired by the UM in 2008 (see NSR post).  The print on demand (pod) machine has the ability to offer print versions of the digital titles for those who aren’t quite ready for the ebook world.

Sony Adds Half a Million Public Domain Google Books to Reader

From the wired.com blog
Sony Adds Half a Million Public Domain Google Books to Reader

By Charlie Sorrel EmailMarch 19, 2009 | 5:36:39 AMCategories: Books

Sony has inked (e-inked?) a deal with Google to bring half a million public domain books to its Reader e-book device, but surprise! Being a Sony service it looks to be awkward to use and no better than just grabbing the texts from Project Gutenberg.

Google has been scanning and textifying public domain texts in its attempt to organize the world’s information, and now they’ll be available for Sony’s e-book reader. This initiative, while certainly laudable as a way to get free books properly formatted for the device, really shows up the Sony Reader and its lack of a wireless internet connection.

First, you need to go to the Sony eBook Store and grab the PC software. Then you can search from the comfort of your own computer the half million books Sony has grabbed from Google. Then you need to sideload the content onto your Reader.

Worse, try going to the eBook site to find the Google link. You’ll have to scroll around. Sony’s web designers have decided to make the word “Google” appear only in jpeg form, so no quick page-search to find it.

Oh, Sony. It’s a nice try, but we think you already lost this one. The Kindle is currently the iPod of e-book readers, and while it doesn’t do everything, what it does do it does right. Plus, you can download any of Project Gutenberg’s free books, or even Google’s, directly, even on the beach. If you really want to read  Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”, that is.

Product page [Sony]

Press release[PR Newswire via Reuters]

Patron Initiated Purchasing at ACRL

Thanks to the 100+ Librarians who attended our ACRL session on Patron Initiated Purchasing.  During the presentation, Alice and I surveyed the attendees, using audience response systems.  These results have been posted to the ACRL Virtual Conference.  In a nutshell:

85% of you have collection development responsibilities

94% purchase ebooks

61% were familiar with patron driven/patron initiated models

13% already use it, 68% are interested, and only 2% would not use it, the rest were uncertain

Reasons for using patron driven/patron initiated models include:

save time 11%, increase usage 25%, give patrons choices 25%, just in time resources 27%, provide chapters 11%

We had a great Q/A discussion afterwards as well.  During this I mentioned several resources on the blog.  They are linked here:

article on ebook pricing

article on Patron Driven Acquisition

Poll on PDA – currently on the homepage of the blog

interviews with publishers, aggregators, librarians

Glad you could attend.

Sue Polanka, Alice Crosetto,with Kari Paulson (President, EBL)

GVRL Pricing via YBP

Concerning my previous post on Gale/YBP, I had a chance to talk with John Barnes at Gale/Cengage regarding the pricing of GVRL titles through the YBP service.  According to him, GVRL prices will remain the same using various tiers, based on FTE.  Within the next month, YBP will load all of the Gale patron data into their system and this data should indicate each library’s tier level.  While searching YBP for GVRL titles, the title price, based on your library’s tier, should be displayed.  Thanks to Nader Qaimari from Gale/Cengage for commenting with the same.

YBP Customers can now Purchase Gale Titles

Great news from Gale/Cengage and YBP (Baker & Taylor).  GVRL, LitCrit and Gale Directory titles can now be purchased through YBP services.  This is wonderful news and comes on the heels of the recenet B&T and ebrary partnership.  Clearly publishers and aggregators are finally working together to make purchasing ebooks as seamless as the print book.  It’s about time!  What is unclear in the press release is the pricing of Gale titles.  Typically these are sold on a Tier model, based on FTE.  I’ll post more once I hear about the pricing.

Baker & Taylor partners with ebrary for digital distribution

Big news from Baker & Taylor.  They announced today a partnership with ebrary for an “integrated digital media platform.”  B&T will provide seamless purchase of either print or electronic content through this new platform.  The partnership also allows B&T to create it’s own digital content for distribution via the ebrary platform.What a convenience for libraries.  No longer will you spend hours tracking down ebook ISBN’s, prices, and ordering information from a multitude of websites.  Those libraries using YBP – part of the B&T family, have had the pleasure of purchasing print or electronic books through the GOBI platform since January, 2007.  The wider B&T partnership now takes this convenience across library markets. This will really become a one-stop shop once ebrary establishes their demand driven purchasing model. Perhaps patrons could use the system to choose e or p versions of titles!

University of Pennsylvania to Digitize and Print-on-Demand

I read this article in LJ about another library digitization/print-on demand product.  This time it’s with the University of Pennsylvania (UP) and Kirtas.  UP is now part of the elite group of libraries providing print-on-demand services including University of Michigan, Emory, and Cornell.

The UP project will scan books in the public domain (200,000), but only when a title is requested by an end user.   So, it’s kind of like the Patron Driven Acquisition ebook model, but now it’s being done in reverse.  Take the print, digitize it, then print a copy on demand to ship to a user.  Price information was not listed on the UP Press Release.

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

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