Electronic Books are catching on like wildfire in the US and UK, but in Canada, their traction leaves something to be desired. A recent study conducted by Book Net has their research saying that paperback books (including mass markets) comprised 58% of all purchases in 2012, hardcovers accounted for 24% and eBooks 15%.
Book sales had peaked in Q1 at 17.6% of unit sales and declined steadily over the rest of the year to hit 12.9% in the last quarter. The 5% decline is likely due to heightened sales in Q1 after receiving new devices over the holidays followed by declining interest or having enough titles banked after the Q1 spike, as well as a preference for giving physical books as gifts. Further proof is that paperback sales had an inverse trend throughout the year and steadily increased in market share over the course of the year. Hardcovers also had their strongest quarter in Q4. 16% of book purchases were gifts in the holiday quarter.
Digital adoption rate certainly needs some momentum behind it to increase the footprint of eBooks in Canada. It comes down to the devices we use everyday to read them and Kobo has usurped the lead from Amazon from 2011. Kobo accounts for 25.2% of the entire Canadian market, while the Apple iPad is at a steady 14.0% and the Amazon Kindle at 18.4%.
Partly, e-Reader availability is not very high in Canada and this creates barriers for customers to buy into it. The only major retail outlet to sell them is Chapters/Indigo and other big box retailers like Future Shop and Best Buy, have a paltry selection, mainly on outdated devices from Sony, Aluratek and Ectaco. You would be hard-pressed to find anything by Amazon in the retail environment and instead you have to buy it online only.
The research suggests that the ebook market in Canada may have reached a plateau,” says BookNet Canada President and CEO Noah Genner. “Early 2013 data backs this up. So far, we’re seeing the same pattern repeating itself.”
The one thing that was clearly evident at SID Display Week this year was the gravitation towards e-Paper price tags, billboards and advertising. e Ink Holdings is putting a priority on expanding outside of their bread and butter e-Reader market and focusing on new applications.
Spectra is a new e-Ink technology that is quite different from their full color Triton technology. It gives you the very crisp black and white shades but also a a new color, RED. Many companies such as Target, K-Mart, Macy’s and a slew of others have their main logo in red. This technology is geared towards digital price tags and range from a few inches to six and greater. The intention behind Spectra is to offer commercial operations to implement digital price tags, with the sale logo or numbers to really pop out and grab peoples attention. It can be dynamically updated via WIFI or a dedicated internet connection. For example, e INK hyped the fact that if it is raining outside, they could put a discord on umbrellas and prices would be automatically updated.
AURORA technology focuses on sub-zero temperatures, which is ideal for the freezer, milk and yogurt isles in super markets. It will function indefinitely at -25 C and is appealing towards labs, medical, and logistics markets. These new tags can be custom tailored from 2, 2.7, 4.41 and 7.4 inch screens. It can also be updated via WIFI, so you can update the prices on the fly, without having to worry about people updating them manually.
The spirit behind these new e-Paper technologies is to do away with the costly expensive of paper every month for retail stores and supermarkets. Most of the big stores spend close to $50,000 a month on tags, paper and other aspects of making pricing available on produce, microwave dinners and everything else. The new e Ink signage aims to streamline the process, and allows the IT department to update prices on the fly, and even dynamically offer deals. If its a really hot day, they could discount or increase the cost of water, if something is in season, they could reduce the prices, the applications are endless.
The internet of things is the new mandate from Qualcomm, as the company transitions their Mirasol technology from tablets to wearable tech and smartphones. Many industry analysts wrote off Mirasol e-Paper technology as dead, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, as Qualcomm as updated the screens for a new breed of devices.
SID Display Week 2013 just kicked off in Vancouver and I had a chance to catch up with Jesse Burke, who is the new public face of Mirasol. He explained that Mirasol technology had an existing roadmap and that they have deviated from it in small ways to brave a new frontier of wearable technology. There was three new products they were showcasing at the vent, such as a smartwatch, a secondary screen for a phone and Miarasol technology as the main display on new smartphone.
One of the big adjustments to Mirasol accross the board was fitting everything on a single screen. In the past, Mirasol had two different layers of screen for their line of tablets that came out a few years ago, this included the Bambook Sunflower and the Kyobo. This gave the user a more washed out approach to images and colors and the tradeoff was great battery life. Qualcomm managed to merge the two layers, giving rich and vibrant color.
The Mirasol smartwatch was the main attraction at SID and had a 1.2 inch screen and lasts a few weeks before needing a re-charge. The intention behind this product is not just to tell the time, but to be an extension of your digital life. On average, we reach for our smartphones almost 100 times a day, to check Twitter, Facebook, messages and missed calls. The watch, will ping you with Google Now updates, Facebook Home and other essential apps. Mainly, it will serve as a secondary screen that will assist you in staying on-top of all the action, without constantly referencing your bulky phone. Currently, Qualcomm is shopping this technology in its complication to various vendors, and we will likely see something happening towards the end of 2013 and mid 2014.
Smartphone screen technology is a huge focus for Qualcomm right now and ripe for the opportunity for Mirasol to sweep in and gain some market share. The average phone has a better life of 12-24 hours, depending on your use. Mirasol will extend this up to six times, which amounts to hefty savings over LED and OLED screens
There were two phone displays shown at SID, one was a fully featured smartphone, using Mirasol and the other was a second display screen on the back of the phone, that draws parallels with the upcoming Yota. The smartphone had sported a 5.1-inch panel with a stunning resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels and 577 ppi. This phone is in the RND phase and is not commercially available yet, likely we will have to wait until 2015 to really see it in action. The second display was on the back of the phone, mirrors the watch, in terms of form and function. It allows you to have a secondary screen to have dedicated apps running on it. Useful, but it remains to be seen if smartphones have the viability of multi-screens, for your average person.
The Reading Rainbow television show was broadcast for almost two decades and it taught young children the value of reading. When the show was cancelled a few years ago, Levar Burton and producer Mark Wolfe sat down and decided what to do next. 18 months later they debuted the Reading Rainbow iOS app and secured partnerships with Natgeo and a number of other media properties. Today, the Amazon App Store Twitter account posted a picture of Levar visiting Amazon headquarters. This leads me to believe that for the first time the Reading Rainbow will launch an Android App designed for the Kindle Fire.
The Reading Rainbow app features a ton of original content and appeals mainly to kids. There are some customizable features such as your “Backpack” that contains all of the books you are currently reading. Books are attained when you visit different “Islands” that are themed. Each island has original video content that is hosted by Levar and is made specifically for the iPad app. “We ran the show for over two decades and had lots of content in the library. We made a decision to film 100% original content exclusively for the app and will continue to develop more in the coming months,” Levar told Good e-Reader in an exclusive interview.
The Kindle line of tablets is drawing a ton of public attention with Kindle Freetime and their various parental controls. Parents can establish how long each day they can read, play games, watch video and tweak their limits on the fly. Last week, Amazon unveiled Amazon Coins, which acts as their virtual currency to buy in-app content and also buy new apps. Likely, the Reading Rainbow will have Coins integrated into the app, to buy access to new islands.
— Amazon Appstore (@amazonappstore) May 21, 2013
The first ever digital publishing hackathon took place over the weekend at The Alley in New York. Organized by Perseus Books Group and Librify, the event transpired over 32 consecutive hours and was attended by 200 people. Over 30 different teams sought to develop new ideas for digital book discovery.
“It was exciting to watch 200 people come together at one time in one space and grapple with the challenge of digital book discovery,” said Rick Joyce, CMO of Perseus and one of the judges. “Not only were fascinating solutions developed, but there was a lot for a publishing person to learn about the ways content is connected and discovered digitally from these talented designers and coders.”
The finalists have now been selected and the final award will be announced at Book Expo America. All of the selected entrants will also receive coaching from publishing and technology mentors and have 10 days to work on their project. We now have a copy of the finalists that have participated in the hackathon.
•Library Integration Challenge from NYPL – $1,000 was awarded to Visibrary (Sara Michener, Carrie Segal, Alessandra Nova, Iv Segal) for the best library discovery project or the best integration of library data.
•Children’s / Literacy Challenge from NYPL – $500 was awarded to the Evoke team (listed above) for the best project for children and adults that either (a) enables book discovery, (b) encourages a love of reading, or (c) facilitates literacy.
•Avalon Travel Discovery Challenge – $500 was awarded to BookCity (listed above) for the project that best promotes discovery books related to travel.
•Manuscript to Metadata Challenge from PublicAffairs – $500 was awarded to Publy.io (Megha Gulati, Rajeev Gulati) for the best approach to improving metadata from the manuscript.
•Pearson API Challenge – $250 was awarded to Evoke for the best use of either (or both) of Pearson’s APIs.
With some reports showing that the Android platform currently holds about 68% of the market for applications, digital content creators are taking steps to increase their current offerings to meet these customers where their devices are. CourseSmart, a leading provider of digital educational materials and textbooks, has been available on the Android platform for some time, but today announced that it is enhancing its current Android capabilities.
“We have been a leader in the Android space for a long time, and our new application takes that commitment to the next level, offering consumers several highly-anticipated new features,” said Sean Devine, CEO of CourseSmart, in a statement today. “As mobile devices continue to proliferate, we will maintain our track record of offering innovation and convenience to both Android and IOS users.”
While the free CourseSmart app for Android has offered a number of support features like thumbnails, in-book search capability, zoom for graphics and charts, and more, today CourseSmart announced the ability for students to access content while offline.
“CourseSmart eTextbooks is reflective of the company’s long-standing commitment to the platform as well as a response to the growing market demand for Android applications,” stated the explanation in a press release. “CourseSmart’s enhanced Android app provides real time mobile access to students, even while an eTextbook download is occurring. CourseSmart users will also have the ability to checkout titles for offline use and sync notes and highlights across the reading system, ensuring access to their own notations regardless of which device they use.”
In addition to new features and access capabilities, CourseSmart materials have grown in popularity due to the full catalog of titles from 90% of the educational publishers that the company offers at as much as a 60% discount over the original print price. Students and faculty alike are able to access their course materials through any Android-enabled device, tablet, or smartphone.
As per news coming from Taiwan, trial production of the 5th gen iPad is set to kick off soon with volume production expected to begin in July. Initial plans call for the shipment to stabilize at around 2-3 million by September.
As for the iPad 5′s specifications, Digitimes has some interesting bits to share. For instance, the site is claiming the new iPad will come with the same display resolution of 2048 x 1536, though the differences lie elsewhere. This being that the glass substrate to be used in iPad 5 will be thinner by 0.2mm from the 0.25mm thickness as is seen in the iPad 4. The touch panel to be used in the iPad 5 will be based on GF2 tech, which employs 1 layer of glass and two layers of ITO film, whereas the same in case of iPad 4 was based on G/G bonding technique.
The sources further claim iPad 5 will be using “one LED light bar for backlighting” whereas the iPad 4 used two LED light bars. The report also confirms what has always been rumored, that the next gen iPad will be lighter and sporting thinner bezels.
The two South Korean companies, LG Display and Samsung Display, alongside Sharp are among those believed to have been contracted to supply the iPad 5 display.
Digital readers may find themselves unable to read the next Stephen King novel. The author has announced today that his upcoming June 4th release, Joyland, will only be available via traditional bookstores.
Stephen King is no stranger to digital and released a novel in 2000 called Riding The Bullet, that was only available as an ebook. Last year, he released a Kindle Single exclusive that was basically an essay.
Today, King told the Wall Street Journal: “I have no plans for a digital version. Maybe at some point, but in the meantime, let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one.”
Many publishing industry experts are surmising that this book may draw people into their local bookstores, but people who prefer to read digital may end up pirating the book. If you look at the Harry Potter case study, when the books were unavailable in electronic form, it created a wellspring of book piracy, with some torrents having hundreds of thousands of seeders. Many people we spoke with at the time felt no remorse about downloading the books, because they were being ignored as digital readers. In the absence of a true digital copy that people can buy, it is only a matter of time before this book is scanned and posted online, stinging the very bookstores Stephen King is trying to help.
Amazon is also selling the physical book at a very steep discount and in most cases will sell it for less than you can buy in a physical bookstore.
Simon & Schuster has created a new position within the company to focus on the growing popularity of ebooks. Doug Stambaugh has been named to the newly created position of Vice President, Global eBook Market Development and Strategy, reporting to Dennis Eulau.
S&S released an internal email confirming the news saying, “Doug’s responsibility will be to help us further develop our ebook business in a manner that best positions us for success in all our markets around the world. He will work with sales colleagues from each of our companies to identify and evaluate opportunities for retail expansion, and new partnerships, digital channels, and publishing initiatives. He will develop company-wide strategies, policies, and best practices for all our domestic and international publishing units in areas ranging from terms and pricing to digital rights management, technology platforms and new business models. He will assist our teams from legal, sales, technology, and operations in opening up new accounts and in negotiations with existing retailers, and will help all our divisions around the world to work in a unified fashion with our common retailers. We will also look to Doug to assist us in tapping the potential for ebooks in nonretail channels, such as special sales and the school, library, and academic markets.”
The statement went on to say “Doug is ideally suited for this position. He has been with Simon & Schuster Digital since 2007, most recently as Vice President, Business Development, and has been a central figure in establishing our presence in the digital marketplace. He has worked with colleagues across the company to finalize ebook agreements with all our major retailers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Open Market. Most recently, he was instrumental in launching our pilot e-lending program with three New York area libraries that were our entry into this important channel.”
Doug will serve as the point of entry into the company to assess these new prospects, and will advise senior management in our publishing and operations groups on the many opportunities and issues that will inevitably arise in this exciting and ongoing transition.
Verdict: 4 Stars
The Sea of Tranquility (Atria) has everything I don’t look for in a book. Chapter-by-chapter point of view switches, mysterious story lines that don’t become clear until the last page, and characters so full of raw and deep-seated hurts that you feel like an intruder just for reading about them. So it was surprising to even me that this book was a one-sitting read, something that I couldn’t put down until I’d made my way to the end to see if these people turn out okay.
Told in alternating viewpoints from the two main characters, Josh and Nastya, the reader is given only partial glimpses at a time of the endurance race the two teenaged protagonists have had to run. Josh, whose entire family has died before the book’s opening, and Nastya, whose musical prodigy status was ripped apart by a violent attacker who destroyed her hands and her soul, are left holding the pieces of their former lives and slowly learn to let their other carry a piece of the burden.
In keeping with the fact that Nastya stopped speaking about a year after her attack, the book doles out the details painfully slowly. While that is part of its allure, I was left occasionally feeling like I didn’t know enough to keep reading. Fortunately, the writing style was so spot-on that I was easily caught back up by the end of the chapter, only to be left disoriented again and repeat the cycle until the very end of the book.
Millay’s book could easily blur the lines between young adult and new adult, and effortlessly crosses back and forth between the two genres. The characters’ ages and the high school backdrop speak to younger adults, but the conflicts and plot are not for the fainthearted.
Barnes and Noble is intending on releasing a new firmware update for the Nook Simple Touch and Simple Touch with Glowlight this June. The 1.50 update is poised to bring a new email client and a new internet browser. The e-readers themselves have a web-browser buried in the search function, but most people were completely unaware of it. The ebook store is also undergoing a refresh and will have a new UI.
The Nook line of e-readers has seen a wider appeal as of late, due to the recent price reductions in the UK and US. Google Play on the Nook line of tablets has been drawing industry wide attention and many users we talk to are claiming they are buying one for the first time, or switching back to the brand. B&N is hoping that a more accessible e-reader is will appeal to people on the fence.
Barnes and Noble has always had internet browsers in the e-readers and I will bet that they will not tweak it very much with the public release. A solid email client should appeal to people who are in book clubs, or need to check in to work every so often. The Nook line of e-readers does run the Google Android operating system, so adding a few new features is really not that hard.