NYTimes article on Sony cutting eBook prices from 11.99 to 9.99.This is my favorite section: “Regarding the price cut for digital books, Mr. Haber said: “We have to offer value. It’s clear e-books should be less expensive than regular books, with the savings on printing and logistics getting passed on to the consumer.”and this is the worrisome part: “Book publishers will still retain their traditional cut of every e-book sale — about half the hardcover retail list price. But they are concerned that as online retailers like Amazon and Sony gain market power, they will eventually tire of losing money on e-book sales and ask publishers for lower wholesale prices, a move that would cut into their profit margins.” To me this says less publishers and more publishing control by Amazon and Sony. Toss Google in that mix and we’ve got ourselves quite a trifecta.
The NYT had a very interesting article yesterday on the book piracy. It highlights the increasing amount of illegal sites to download pirated eBooks, or print books that were scanned. Publishers are spending much more staff time and hiring large legal departments to track down sites. Here’s a quote from the article: “It’s a game of Whac-a-Mole,” said Russell Davis, an author and president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a trade association that helps authors pursue digital pirates. “You knock one down and five more spring up.”
I sometimes see posts on a variety of library distribution lists about finding reference titles online for free, and it makes them quite mad that they’ve just paid hundreds of dollars for the same book, either in print or e. Maybe the publishers should give these angry librarians the Whac-a-Mole paddles and let us track down those pirates 😉 21st Century shushing at it’s best.
The NY Times released it’s 2.0 Reader today, powered by Adobe Air. The basics:
- works on Windows, MAC, linux
- updates every 5 minutes
- stories run in multiple sections of the paper
- news feed for breaking news
- read off-line
- 7 day archive
- even has the crossword
- all for $3.95 a week
This short flash clip highlights the reader –Long Live the Newspaper!
An abledbody news article last week discusses the new Kindle DX and it’s text-to-speech program that will read a book aloud. According to the abledbody article, the Kindle does not go far enough to provide an accessible player to persons with disabilities. The eBook menus and controls are not audio accessible, limiting access to those with visual disabilities. I’m not certain Kindle had persons with disabilities in mind when they created this new text-to-speech feature since it is not limited to those with disabilities. Kindle will work with Pearson, Cengage Learning, Wiley and 75 other University Presses to provide textbooks on the Kindle this year. Additionally, 3 newspapers have given Amazon the rights to text-to-speech content, NYT, Washington Post, and the Boston Globe. Sounds to me like the much broader market, with a potential to listen to books in the car, while walking, doing housework, or any other multitude of activities is what got Amazon tickled pink about text-to-speech. Just in case you didn’t hear, Kindle will begin a text book pilot program with 6 Universities this fall.
Posting on behalf of Peter Murray, OhioLINK, full post at: http://dltj.org/article/gbs-summary/
Today was to be the deadline for objecting to, opting out of, and/or filing briefs with the court on the Google Book Search Settlement. That was the plan, at least, when the preliminary approval statement from the court was issued last year. That deadline changed, and that is part of a recent flurry of activity surrounding the proposed Settlement. In honor of the original deadline, this e-mail provides a summary of recent news and an index of documents that you might want to read for more information. Continue reading Google Book Search Settlement
Being part of the Wright State University community has given me a whole new perspective on students with disabilities. Approximately 10% of our population is part of this community. It is very difficult for these students to get their textbooks and other course material in a format appropriate to their needs. That has just been made easier with the announcement of the U.S. College and University Partnership with Bookshare. Bookshare is the largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities. Their press release contains all the details of this new program. Text of this release is also below, click on more. Continue reading Finally, a Textbook Program for Students with Disabilities
While not an eBook, this is a big step for the Christian Science Monitor, the first major newspaper to take the leap to online only. An October 28th NYT article reported the Christian Science Monitor will move to online only in April of 2009, but will begin to publish a weekend news magazine. The Christian Science Monitor states it hopes to achieve 3 goals with the switch to online distribution. Those are:
- Producing a website with 24/7 access, easy updates, and instant access to current news
- Focusing resources where the majority of its readers are – online
- Eliminating the costs of print production to become financially sustainable
This appears to be the logical move for a major newspaper with declining print subscriptions. It will be interesting to see if other large newspapers follow, and how quickly. Curious too, how might this affect libraries? In my academic library, we already subscribe online and receive microfilm rather than print. We’ll have to keep an eye on the subscription costs and see how they change as a result of the switch. Gee, maybe the money we spend on the microfilm will actually be used to buy something else!
Top 10 list in support of ebooks. From the Writers Handbook Blog.
10 Reasons Not to Write Off Reading From A Screen
Over the past few months there has been much discussion of an impending digital revolution in the way we read books. While much of this is hyperbole there has been incredulity in many quarters that anybody would ever want to read from a screen. We are all attached to books and the idea seems, at first glance, anachronistic. However there are some good reasons why it might not go away as quickly as you’d think.
1.) We do it all the time anyway. Whether its emails, blogs, the newspaper or text messages for the bulk of us, most of our reading is already on screen. The New York Times now was 13 million online readers per day against a print readership of 1.1 million.
2.) Those who read books read the most online. The Guardian reported that “women and pensioners were [the] most active readers” (22/08/08). A recent study showed women, the most enthusiastic readers, dominate social networks; 16% of “silver surfers” spend over 42 hours per week online. Moreover overall internet usage was up 158% in the UK from 2002-2007.
3.) e-Ink technology removes many of the disadvantages of screens. Using ionized black and white particles it eliminates eye strain and glare, expertly recreating the look and feel of paper and print.
4.) New devices (using e-Ink) like the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle are backed by technology giants who know how to make a product work. They come with features like an MP3 player (the Sony) and wireless connectivity (the Kindle). Expect them to only improve in the coming years.
5.) In Japan mobile phone fiction- keitai novels- have gone from being a niche market to big business, with some novels being downloaded over 200k times a day. It has been reported that half of bestsellers in Japan are now mobile.
6.) Likewise in China online novels are huge. The most searched for term on Chinese search engine baidu.cn is “novel”. According to Wired 10m “youth” now list reading online as one of their main hobbies.
7.) The iPhone has changed the parameters again by offering a fantastic reading experience, on a portable easy to use, multi-functioning device. Apps like eReader and Stanza make an already desirable phone a viable ebook reader.
8.) Paper costs are going through the roof- up 150% this year. With no slowing of the commodity book in site paper and manufacturing costs are likely to increase. Along with the cheapness of delivery the economics of electronic reading start to make sense.
9.) Government policy is to invest in ereading. Education policy wonks view reading from laptops and PDAs as a handy workaround to encourage book averse but technophile teenagers to read. A school in Birmingham even replaced all textbooks with Palm Pilots.
10.) The internet offers a whole new way of consuming content. Bundling, chunking, web only content, integrated multimedia elements, exciting new serialisations are only the beginning. This is reading from a screen not as something like lost but as something gained.
No one is saying that we will all run off any read all our books off a screen. Books are here to stay. Reading from one type of screen or another is not about to replace books, rather it is an addition to the varied climate to literature that already exists, a creative challenge, a commercial opportunity and new way for readers to enjoy texts.
Michael Bhaskar is Digital Publishing Executive at Pan Macmillan and blogs at http://thedigitalist.net.