The Latest News on eBooks, eReaders and Digital Publishing

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Publishers have been heavily resistant about selling their catalog of eBooks to libraries in the US and Canada. It took years of lobbying from the American Library Association and companies such as 3M and Overdrive to finally sway them over. Now, in one way or another, every major publisher has a pilot project or distributes select titles to libraries.

In 2013, both Macmillan and Simon & Schuster, which had not been selling ebooks to libraries, began pilot programs which were eventually expanded. Macmillan now sells its entire back-list of 11,000 titles to libraries nationwide and Simon & Schuster expanded its first pilot to a dozen libraries. Penguin Book Group ended its embargo policy so that all ebook titles would be available to libraries at the same time as in the consumer ones are issued. Hachette Book Group made all its ebooks available to libraries at the same time as print books. Smaller publishers such as Smashwords have also got involved in the distribution of eBooks from their wellspring of self-published content.

Major publishers still see libraries as devaluing their digital product by giving it away for free. Jeannette Woodward, author of a number of books, including The Transformed Library: E-Books, Expertise, and Evolution said “Trade publishers have always had an unrealistic idea of library circulation,” she says. “They imagine that library books circulate 50 or more times, causing them to lose 49 sales. This attitude, of course, ignores the many books that circulate rarely and assumes that library readers would purchase every book they borrow. Because the industry is in financial difficulty, it may be even more anxious to lay blame on libraries.”

Major publishers and publishing associations seem to fear that libraries could circulate ebooks to thousands of readers, decimating their profits. “These fears are, of course, largely unfounded,” Woodward says, “but they are making it very difficult for libraries to purchase the ebooks
demanded by their patrons. Some publishers refuse to work with libraries
, while others insist on charging libraries many times the prices paid by their other customers. “Since individual libraries have very little clout, professional organizations like ALA will need to devote considerable time and resources to resolving this conflict,” Woodward says. “On the one
hand, publishers need to be educated about the real world of libraries and understand that libraries can actually help their bottom line. On the other, libraries need to show their muscle, making it clear that when they act together, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Helping the bottom line is what companies like 3M are doing with their Cloud Library Service. They recently unveiled new tools that actually allow libraries to sell eBooks and make a commission. This puts money in the pocket of the library, the digital distributor and publisher. Libraries as retail, this is a trend that will continue to grow in 2014.

As much headway as Overdrive, Baker & Taylor, 3M and ALA make with publishers, many people still don’t think its enough. Clifford Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information, called the library ebook situation “appalling,” explaining that denying libraries unfettered access to ebooks threatens the library mission to “preserve cultural heritage, provide accommodation for people with disabilities, and protect individual privacy,” according to the report.

If you want to find out more about the recent ALA report, in all of its glory, click HERE.

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A new study conducted by Nielsen has proclaimed that 54% of USA adults currently read eBooks. Not only is digital on the rise but overall the average person is reading more books on a yearly basis.

Interestingly, there appears to be an intersection at work between how Americans read and how much they read. Those who read either more or exclusively in the eBook format are more likely to read over 20 books in an average year (30%) than either those who read more/only in hard copy (18%) or those who read in both formats equally (21%). They also report a higher average readership per year than either hard copy hardliners or equal-opportunity readers (22.5 books vs. 16 and 15, respectively).

Looking at the number of books purchased in the past year, with a reported average of 14 books, those favoring eBooks purchased roughly twice as many as those preferring hard copies, who purchased an average of less than seven.

However, in terms of overall users, the hard copy format is still king. Nearly half of Americans (46%) say they only read hard copy books, with an additional 16% saying they read more hard copy books than e-books. Seventeen percent (17%) read about the same number of hard copy and e-format books, while 15% read more and 6% read exclusively in the electronic format.

The Harris Poll was conducted on behalf of Nielsen and surveyed 2,234 adults in the USA. The results in this report tend to conflict with the ones in the Pew Research report that was conducted in January. Pew mentioned “The percentage of adults who read an eBook in the past year has risen to 28%, up from 23% at the end of 2012. At the same time, about seven in ten Americans reported reading a book in print, up four percentage points after a slight dip in 2012, and 14% of adults listened to an audiobook.” Interestingly, only four percent of the survey respondents stated that they are strictly ebook readers, shunning print entirely.

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The newspaper industry has lost billions of dollars in the last 10 years in advertising revenue due to Google and has seen a decline in subscriptions. A new report from the Newspaper Association of America paints a bleak picture of revenue in 2013.

The Newspaper Association of America said revenue fell 2.6% to $37.6 billion in 2013. Meanwhile advertising revenue fell 6.5% to $23.6 billion in the same period.

These losses were slightly offset by increases in digital advertising and Paywalls from the New York Times and a myriad of others. This contributed to a 3.7% jump in circulation revenue. Still, digital advertising growth, while not growing as fast as some in the industry have hoped, continued to climb. Mobile ad spending soared 77%, although it still accounts for less than 1% of total newspaper revenue.

In order to build a better future for digital advertising revenue, some companies are betting big on developing their own add exchanges. One initiative that launched last year was the News Corp Global Exchange, that brought together the ad space of 50 websites and mobile/tablet products including Times.co.uk, TheSun.co.uk, NYPost.com, TheAustralian.com.au, MarketWatch.com and News.com.au. It allows advertisers to use one portal to advertise in the entire network, or just a specific publication.

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Magzter has been a breakout success story in India with userbase of six million and 35,000 digital magazine downloads a day. The company is experimenting with new content delivery methods to appeal to a new demographic via Groupon India.

The new Groupon Campaign is poised to appeal to new and existing users of Magzter. Right now you can save 50% on 24 different magazines that target several key segments, including Women, Men, Health, Lifestyle and Travel, among others.

“Magzter believes in innovating constantly to reach our desired goal of becoming a first choice for the entire digital reading community. Our partnership with Groupon is a step in the right direction. We look forward to promoting other publishers as well and are certain consumers will be thrilled with the exciting reading content that we have to offer,” said Vijay Radhakrishnan, Co-Founder and President, Magzter.

This marks the first time that a digital magazine platform has done business with Groupon to expand their business. It is a very interesting move to see if users respond to the discounts and end up being solid customers. Likely other companies such as PressReader, Zinio and Recorded Books are eyeing how it all plays out, to see if its viable for them.

Groupon has wrecked havoc in the retail and service based industry. For the most part it is a losing proposition to throw down with a big Groupon campaign. Digital though, is very interesting, since Magzter can afford to take a hit with their digital magazines, because of the low-costs in content delivery.

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A few months ago Conde Nast proclaimed they were undergoing a dramatic rebranding effort and focusing more on digital. The publishing company has finally made headway with Glamour Magazine and the new spinoff Lipstick.

Conde Nast announced the new website Lipstick.com and it will feature “immersive storytelling” and “actionable tips” from the fashion and beauty industry’s best stylists, makeup artists and dermatologists, as well as on-trend ideas from contributors, celebrities and brands

Conde Nast is trying something new with Lipstick, making a fully responsive website geared specifically for mobile. This is a savvy move because “half of Glamour.com’s 7.5 million readers are reading from their phones.”  All of the current magazines Conde publishes are in app format for iOS or Android. Lipstick is departing from the standard native app and is more scalable with the new format.

“As Glamour’s first digital spinoff, Lipstick.com marks a major milestone for our brand,” said Cindi Leive, Glamour’s editor-in-chief. “It offers us the opportunity to provide our digitally savvy readers with deeper, more specialized beauty content – which our existing site tells us they’re hungry for more of. We believe Lipstick.com will offer readers Glamour’s beauty authority in a true, digital-native environment.”

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Watch Dogs is one of the most eagerly anticipated video games in years. Ubisoft Studios has been working on a cyberpunk themed game that brings back memories Shadowrun. The company is going to be releasing a new eBook soon entitled Watch Dogs //n/Dark Clouds.

The upcoming eBook is written by John Shirley, the storyline picks up where the Watch Dogs video game leaves off, allowing fans to further explore the world of Watch Dogs. The ebook is a first for Ubisoft, as it was conceived in-house and will be released exclusively via digital channels.

“Working on Watch Dogs was enormously interesting to me because its world offers the convergence of cyberpunk and the edgy tech reality of our times; it all plays out with action and energy against the inner city backdrop that I thrive in” said John Shirley. “With hack tech in one hand and gun in the other, Aiden Pearce is a believable fusion of hacker and action hero who deliberately slips between the cracks of society to relentlessly pursue his agenda. The novel introduces Mick Wolfe, an ex-military, who get caught in a dangerous game in Chicago’s hyper connected and violent underground. Working with Thomas Geffroyd and Kevin Shortt at Ubisoft to develop the book was a rocking experience – Ubisoft is right out there on the frontier of videogame development. I couldn’t ask for more inspiration”.

Watch_Dogs //n/Dark Clouds will be available in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish at the game’s release on May 27, 2014. It will be available in two digital formats: an upgraded e-book version with interactive elements including videos and image and a classic e-book. For more information, click here.

Categories : E-Book News
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With its focus on helping authors meet the financial needs of publishing books, Pubslush does more than just create a platform for book preorders. Yesterday, vice president and co-founder Amanda Barbara spoke to Good e-Reader about a contest the site is hosting through their company, the Little Reader Snapshot Contest.

In conjunction with the Children’s Book Council and timed to coincide with the annual Children’s Book Week (May 12-18, 2014), Pubslush’s contest encourages parents to upload snapshots of their children reading their favorite books. The contest, aimed at readers ages twelve and under, includes a prize package worth $500 in books, with varies titles made available for different ages.

Now in its 95th year, Children’s Book Week is the longest running literacy initiative in the US. The work of promoting the event every year falls under the non-profit organization Every Child A Reader. Organizations like schools, libraries, and citizen groups will host various events at the local level in conjunction with Book Week.

For Pubslush’s contest, participants upload a photo of their children to one of four different age categories; a category for classroom readers is also open. The photos will be voted on through Pubslush’s Facebook page, and the winner in each category with the most votes will be awarded a book bundle to continue the reading fun. Entrants may promote their readers’ photos on Twitter under the hashtags #littlereader and #CBW14. The contest is open now through May 18th, and a winner will be announced on May 20th.

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Book Expo America sponsored the first official Hackathon next year, which saw a few notable young startups pitch angle investors and the industry at large. Things are getting a little bit more serious for the upcoming publishing event in New York.

For the first time ever, there will be a Startup Alley at BEA, bringing together the best of Silicon Alley and the book publishing industry on Thursday, May 29th, 2014. Startups will compete to appear before the judges that will decide prizewinners and potential investment candidates on the spot. The first prize of $10,000, is sponsored by ICG Ventures Inc., an Ingram Content Group company. The second prize, $5,000, is sponsored by Sourcebooks. All Startups at the event are eligible for consideration. A select few will have the opportunity to make their case to the judges at this year’s event.

“Last year at BEA, we brought the tech community and the book publishing industry together for the first publishing hackathon and we saw the great kind of innovation that comes out of bringing these communities together,” said Joanna Stone, CEO of Librify. “This year we are continuing that tradition by creating a place at BEA for the growing book publishing startup community to gain access to traditional publishers and top venture capital and investment professionals.”

The judges will include well-known names from venture capital and publishing including David Roland, Chief Venture Capital Officer, ICG Ventures Inc., Brian Cohen, Chairman of NY Angels, Jordan Bettman, Bain Capital Ventures, Dawn Barber, co-founder of NY Tech Meetup, Dominique Raccah, Publisher of Sourcebooks, and more. BookExpo Startup Challenge will be accepting applicant startups at bookexpochallenge.com , where they can submit their pitch for our judges.

“BookExpo Startup Challenge is poised to be a fantastic event for BEA and the industry that will put a spotlight on innovation and technology at BEA, an important component of the publishing ecosystem,” said Steven Rosato, Event Director for BookExpo America, Reed Exhibitions. “We expect this event to attract wide media coverage and to bring in solid venture capitalists looking for unique opportunities.”

Librify and BookExpo America have made a limited number of entry-level registration packages available for qualifying startups. All registered startups will have access to additional benefits including interactions with executives from major publishing houses (including the Big 5), access to coaching and strategic advice from investment industry professionals, coaching from NY Tech Meetup founder Dawn Barber, and much more.

Startups seeking to participate in the BookExpo Startup Challenge should visit bookexpochallenge.com to apply. Others seeking more information regarding this year’s BookExpo America at the Javits Center should visit www.bookexpoamerica.com.

Categories : Book Expo America
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Despite the successes Hugh Howey has enjoyed as an author, he began his keynote at today’s PubSmartCon event by stating that his is not a road map to success that anyone should follow, largely because he doesn’t know where he’s going. The tongue-in-cheek opening to his presentation is only partly humorous; part of Howey’s charm and allure as a writer and a publishing industry watcher is that he is the first to admit that it is all largely surprising.

“Someone said we were going to outline roadmaps for how we got to where we are. I’m going to do two things: tell you not to follow me because I don’t know where I’m going, and to share with you all the really bad ideas I’ve had over the years. I narrowed it down to my top 5,000 bad ideas, and then the top 500, and I think it got it down to my worst fifteen or twenty.”

Howey recounted a humorous story about his first disastrous efforts at navigating a large sailboat, likening it to the current state of publishing. “Where we are as experts is we’re looking at yesterday and trying to tell you what tomorrow’s going to be like. It’s what weather forecasters and hurricane forecasters do. It’s not a very good road map. What’s exciting is that someone out there should be up here telling us what they think.”

In his typical humility, Howey disparaged the idea that interview subjects should be some of the bigger names in publishing. “The ones who should be up here giving talks are the midlist authors, traditional or self, who their lives are being changed by these new tehcnologies. No one interviews those people, they wait until they’re outliers. There are people out there who are making a living with their work and no one’s ever heard of them, that’s the real story of self-publishing.”

Howey went on to expand on a number of ideas that are currently held in the industry in an air of dispelling the myths. One of the more profound ideas is that the rise of retail giant Amazon has actually been a good thing for independent book stores, as he outlined by demonstrating that shoppers who go to Amazon are looking for books whose titles they know in order to have a discount, but that the loss of browsing opportunities like Borders forced more consumers to look for book recommendations in smaller stores where individuals knew their customers.

In that vein, Howey supported the idea that self-published authors, long suffering from difficulty in getting their books placed in physical bookstores, shouldn’t concern themselves with the placement of their work in physical bookstores as the majority of sales are coming from online retail outlets.

More important is Howey’s concept of the weather forecaster, understanding that looking at what has worked in the past is not the safest bet when it comes to understanding how publishing is changing.

“Looking at trend lines is a bad idea for where this industry is going. The reason this industry is changing is the cost of producing and distributing books has plummeted to almost zero. When there’s a market force like this, it upsets an entire industry.”

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At today’s PubSmartCon panels, industry professionals presented a panel on the business side of being a career writer under a newly coined term, authorpreneur. By viewing being a published author, regardless of the mode of publication, as a small business owner with serious investment concerns and prioritization to be met.

A panel presented by Amanda Barbara of book crowdfunding site Pubslush, C. Hope Clark of FundsforWriters, Miral Sattar of BiblioCrunch, and Orna Ross of the Alliance of Independent Authors offered a wealth of information about how to proceed with a publishing project, knowing that writing a great book is only the first and most important step towards a professional career.

“We help authors, both self-published authors and traditionally published authors, to really have the tools to build their platforms before they publish,” explained Barbara to the panel attendees. “It’s important for authors to have a place to build buzz around their books through social media. Readers really want to be able to connect with their favorite authors. We recently launched a program to allow publishers and different partners in the industry like self-publishers and editors to actually launch white-labeled pages on Pubslush.”

Pubslush, who sees its mission as more of a preorder tool that lets authorize monetize on their preorder sales in order to secure the services they need for publishing, states that the term crowdfunding can be misunderstood by supporters. Still, that hasn’t prevented the site from helping numerous authors meet their goals for their books through these preorders.

Clark, herself a mystery writer, launched a site that has been a Writer’s Digest Best Site for Writers for thirteen years. “I started FundsForWriters when I could not sell my mysteries, and I was so hellbent on being a writer I decided to do something, no matter what it was. FundForWriters gave me a platform to turn back around and develop the mystery series. My mantra is to not think that you’re going to go from point A to point B. You’re writing career is going to take off on all kinds of tangets.”

These tangents, according to Clark, naturally evolves into the author’s route to publication and ultimately career satisfaction, which is ultimately a better measure of success than any other factor.

BiblioCrunch’s CEO Miral Sattar explained the purpose of the platform as an Angie’s List of professional publishing resources, offering assistance to both authors and publishers alike; she and Ross spoke to the need for understanding where to find quality professional resources.

Some of the focus that the panelists offered was that there is no single method that will succeed for every book or every author. Also, crowdfunding as a solution is often misunderstood, both by people who’ve launched campaigns and by those who’ve supported them; in the case of these book preorders, it’s not a matter of asking ones own friends and family members to donate as it is selling content to interested parties. Clark pointed out that one of the major obstacles for authors in this regard is that there seems to be a disconnect between authors and discussions of money, as though the creative aspect is somehow going to make up for the business side of publishing and selling. Sattar rounded out the discussion by offering insight for authors in attendance on review and promotional opportunities, a notoriously difficult hurdle for many writers, as well as the need for vetting some of the professionals who claim to have knowledge of the industry.

Ross went on to remind authors that creating a fantastic product is not a solo effort, even for authors. “People think [independent] means just self-publishing only, but it means that you define yourself as the creative director of your book from conception to completion. Self-publishing is a misnomer because we don’t do this by ourself. You are in the partnership business, you are a collaborator.”

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At this morning’s keynote event from the 2014 PubSmartCon in Charleston, South Carolina, publishing industry professional Jane Friedman spoke on the roundabout definition of what it means to publish in the current climate. Examining it from its early roots, all the way through publishing via blogging, the session explored what authorship and readership have come to mean.

“It was the rise of literacy that allowed authors to make a living because it increased the market demand for books. But what’s interesting to me in the current dynamic is how everyone is becoming an author through social media and other instant publishing tools, whether that’s WordPress or KDP or Smashwords that allow you to control when, where, and how you distribute your words.”

Friedman went on to explanation how the growth of universal literacy has led to the concept of universal authorship, in which anyone has the ability to amplify their reach through publishing.

“This greatly changes the environment that we’re in, whether it’s in trying to increase visibility, make money, or either one. The universal authorship trend has driven up the number of titles that get published…but this is not even beginning to capture the entire universe of content that’s out there.”

Friedman was, of course, referring to the number of titles–both traditionally and self-published–that are known to be published under an ISBN number, something that not all books have. These numbers are known to be much higher than her data was able to indicate.

“Publishing is a button that you can press and distribute your ideas instantly to a worldwide audience. It used to be more of a rarefied process, controlled by the so-called gatekeepers or by people who were professionals who had very specialized knowledge. That’s not necessarily the case anymore, that calls into question, ‘What does it mean to publish when anyone can do it?’”

Friedman’s question has been asked by both supporters and critics of the current trends in publishing, but she portrays and industry where readers transform the social fabric surrounding the culture of books. But her more profound statement involved an understanding that Amazon is not an enemy of publishing, but the failure of publishers to sell to consumers and understand their readers in a more personal way is that enemy.

One suggestion Friedman carried for an industry that is struggling through the scarcity of attention for the abundance of content out there is to better understand the reader-book relationship and return attention to the readers. A number of trends she highlighted that are especially working for authors where they are is the mobilization of reading on smart devices, the return of serials through a wide variety of platforms, and the verticals of companies that are already making headway in the industry.

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Oyster is one of the more prominent eBook subscription websites and it is starting to distinguish themselves from a crowded marketplace. The company is trialing new speed reading technology from Spritz.

Spritz has been in the news a ton lately, as their speed-reading technology is going to be integrated in the Samsung Galaxy S5. The essence of the platform is to allow users to crank up how many words per minute a body of text will produce. Spritz is fairly useless on large screen displays, but really shines on smartphones, where reading lots of text is daunting.

There is only a single title right now using Spritz and is available at OysterBooks.com/Spritz, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” — the renowned business title by Stephen Covey with over 20 million copies sold to-date – is available for free. Oyster is challenging the public to complete the 432 print-pages of the book in  under 2 hours.

This offer is a first-of-its-kind collaboration and Oyster and Spritz are excited to hear from users about the experience. They’ll evaluate the response and consider bringing additional full-length, in-copyright books to the public together again in the future.

Categories : E-Book News
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eReatah originally launched their Netflix for eBooks subscription service back in September and changed their name to Entitle a few months later. The service heavily competes with Scribd and Oyster for users wanting to subscribe to their websites and download books  on a monthly basis.  While the competition relies on iOS and Android apps to appeal to the widest demographic of readers, Entitle is now supporting dedicated e-readers, such as the Kobo, Nook and Sony. 

Entitle has been testing their e-reader system for a number of weeks and now the books are available for primetime. In order to get started you first need to download Adobe Digital Editions. This is a free app and allows you sync paid and borrowed eBooks directly to your e-reader. Once the book has been downloaded to your computer, you can use ADE to copy it to your Kobo Aura or Nook Glowlight. Once its on your device, it will pop up under your library and you can begin reading on the go.

The support for e-readers when it comes to dedicated eBook subscription services is quite weak. Amazon is the only company to offer this functionality with their Prime Kindle Lending Library. Scribd offers apps for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire, while Oyster is limited to iOS. Entitle has apps now for Android, iOS and now dedicated e-readers. Obviously when it comes to reading, sticking with an e Ink device is better for long reading sessions.

Entitle manages their eBook subscription service quite differently from their competitors. The company only offers a limited number of books a customer can borrow on a monthly basis. For $9.99 you can download two books a month and lots of big name publishers are supporting the efforts.  The company has deals with major publishers including Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, HarperCollins Christian, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, with more than 100,000 professionally-published titles from authors like Stephen King and Dan Brown. Basically, it is a book of the month type club for a digital world.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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