On Social Networks
The PA Digital Sales Monitor, new report from the UK-based Publishers’ Association, showed that ebook sales are on the rise for the first quarter of 2014. This report, which showed a 10.5% increase in digital sales, comes at a time when the debate around ebooks and their viability from different angles is starting to make waves again.
According to a press release issued on the first quarter sales, “The growth in sales was also spread across all recorded categories. In the consumer sector digital sales of fiction increased 8%, with a 10% rise in sales of adult non-fiction. Digital sales of children’s titles meanwhile enjoyed a particularly strong performance, with a 33% rise.
“In the educational/professional sector the largest growth was seen in Scientific Technical and Medical (STM) books, where sales increased by 16%, however, there were also strong performances by schools/English Language Teaching (ELT) sales which grew 14%, and social sciences/humanities which saw an 11% rise.”
eBooks as a viable source of industry revenue for both traditional publishing and indie has been called into question in the past, especially given the fact that critics love to indicate the plateau that ebooks seem to have hit with readers. While their growth had seemed to slow in recent years, they remained steady with e-reading fans. This growth indicates a forward movement in the format, giving even more credence to the disputes currently taking place between retailers and publishers regarding sales agreements, and between publishers and their authors over royalties.
Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of the Publishers Association, said, “The Publishers Association Digital Sales Monitor shows the continuing development and growth of digital publishing in the UK. Increases in digital sales in both consumer and non-consumer sectors shows how publishing as an industry has embraced digital technology and continued its strong track record of innovation and service delivery.”
Verdict: 5 Stars
This is a book entirely about love: love between spouses, love between siblings, love for nature and the land. When the author’s wife lost her brother to suicide, he had no way of bringing her out of her pain other than through the thing he loved, hiking. Having just completed the 2000-mile Appalachian Trail himself, he turned around and lured his wife on a more than 200-mile journey along the entire John Muir Trail with the purpose of helping her work through her grief while raising awareness about the depression that cost her brother his life.
The book details every aspect of this kind of adventure. Everything from mundane descriptions of how they ate, bathed, slept, and survived, to descriptions of the more harrowing encounters with wild animals, grueling conditions, and uncertainty were outlined in the book.
Avid fans of adventure titles and non-fiction travelogues may find themselves disappointed in this book because it’s not meant to be a title about hiking or about the geography. While those factors play an important role in the story, that’s not the focus of Alt’s title. This is a book about healing through pushing oneself farther than anyone ever thought possible, and refusing to stand by helplessly while a loved one is in pain.
Four Boots One Journey is available now.
Most people don’t think of copyright law when they think of gripping drama and suspenseful twists and turns, but the truth is copyright is actually quite fascinating. Of course, no one is more fascinated right now than the litigants in a case involving copyright over Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes characters.
To understand the ramifications of a case that is currently working its way through the courts, it’s important to know the history behind a new book by American crime writer Leslie Klinger. Klinger, a known expert on Sherlock Holmes and other classics, has a new book potentially entitled In the Company of Sherlock Holmes, but the heirs to the original author’s estate are contesting the use as it falls under copyright restrictions.
Here’s where it gets fascinating: under copyright law, a work enters the public domain after a set period of time, roughly one hundred years following publication. Muddying the waters somewhat is the distinction between when Sherlock Holmes was published in the UK versus the US. Further confusing the issue is the fact that the Sherlock Holmes novels and stories were published over a multi-year time span, meaning some of the stories are currently in the public domain, and others still are not; the final ten stories, for example, will not become public domain until the end of 2022.
Just to make it even more confusing, lower courts have already ruled on this specific case, and the result of the ruling is actually very interesting. Essentially, modern authors can use any settings, characters, and specific characteristics of the characters that appear in works that are already out from under copyright restriction, but cannot use any details that are still under copyright without permission and paying a licensing fee to the estate. For example, in one of the later works that is still under copyright restriction, it is revealed that Dr. Watson had played rugby for a specific team when he was younger. This little detail comes out in conversation with Holmes, and is not part of the action of the story, however that detail was only revealed in a later work. Therefore, a current author is allowed to use the character Dr. Watson, for example, but cannot state where he played rugby or allude to an old rugby injury.
Conan Doyle’s estate is attempting to overturn the lower courts’ rulings and sought an “emergency petition” from the Supreme Court, but the court refused to hear arguments in the case, presumably citing that there was nothing in the lower court’s ruling that required a new review. Lawyers for the estate have said they will still move forward with their request for a review, but one of the issues that will be determined in court is who has to foot the bill for this legal battle. As it stands, Klinger (and presumably his publisher) has had to engage his own attorneys to represent him against the suit, and the responsibility for paying his legal fees will also be decided by the court.
It’s the same in every classroom, in every school, in every subject area. Certain students are “getting it” and engaging with the content, while other students are trailing behind, getting more and more lost and less and less likely to admit it. But a new assessment tool that lets students structure their own questions, responses, and discussion points offers teachers the ability to understand what every student is thinking about the material without having to conduct individualized assessments at every step along the way. Even better, the students are equipped to provide their feedback without calling attention to themselves, making them more likely to engage and offer genuine insight into where they might be lagging.
The Verso App lets students work through teacher-driven material and then respond, while also allowing them to see classmates’ interactions after they complete the material. This equips teachers to know before approaching each lesson where the students are still having trouble with comprehension, as well as know which areas the class has mastered in order to avoid wasting instructional time.
“Using the Verso App, teachers enter the classroom fully aware of students’ questions, ideas, misconceptions and what they are revealing as their individual learning needs,” Collin Wood, CEO of Verso Learning, said in a press release. “Teachers now know what they have to do to support every student in moving forward.”
“Since these responses are anonymous, it gives students the confidence to take risks they may not otherwise take. As they collaborate and reward quality contributions with ‘likes,’ they are giving and receiving feedback and using that feedback to shape their thinking.”
Tools like this one have the power to take today’s digital natives and prepare them for the higher order thinking and technology incorporation that so many state and national curricula around the world are now focusing on. Information on the free app is available from Verso Learning at VersoApp.com.
News was announced yesterday from the lawyers for the plaintiffs in one of Apple’s side lawsuits over ebook pricing that the grand total the company could have to pay out to consumers is $400 million. This amount was disclosed after the terms of the settlement were released following Judge Denise Cote’s approval of the settlement.
This settlement isn’t to be confused with the Department of Justice lawsuit against Apple for colluding with five of the then-Big Six publishers to artificially raise the prices of ebooks in order to draw some of the control over the market away from Amazon. That collusion, in which the publishers all agreed to switch to an agency pricing model instead of the previously followed wholesale model, causing a sharp increase in the price of ebooks when Amazon was no longer allowed to discount publishers’ titles.
The DOJ lawsuit still isn’t resolved, despite the fact that the publishers who were offered deals settled out of court early in order to avoid costly legal fees. Apple has been found guilty of colluding to fix prices, among other charges, and that decision has been appealed by Apple’s attorneys.
But back to the consumers…
Lawyers and states’ attorneys general have filed a lawsuit on behalf of the consumers to recover some of the millions of dollars they were illegally forced to overpay once the collusion took place, and Apple agreed last month to settle out of court…IF…
If its appeal is unsuccessful. The terms of the settlement that Apple agreed to include a clause that lets Apple get out of the settlement scott-free if the appeal in the DOJ case swings in Apple’s favor. They basically got to have their cake and eat it too, since a typical settlement is an agreement reached in order to avoid letting the issue go any further. Apple got to put a cap on the amount it would pay in the consumers’ lawsuit, all while leaving the escape hatch open in order to not have to pay anything should their appeal succeed.
At this point, the consumers who had to pay artificially inflated prices thanks to Apple’s illegal collusion will either get a share of a $400 million settlement, or they will receive nothing. Sadly, just as in the settlements offered to the publishers, the settlement (if there is one) will be paid to consumers in the form of book credits through retailers’ platforms, meaning the consumers can turn right around and pay their settlement moneys right back to the publishers and the retailer.
Kids ebooks have been slow to take off, despite the great content coming out from companies like iStoryTime and Scholastic. But Kobo, whose Kobo Kids’ Store offers younger readers a catalog of over 100,000 ebook titles, recenlty secured a deal that would add some of the most beloved children’s books of all time to its catalog. This week, Kobo announced that it would offer 40 of Dr. Seuss’ most well-known and admired titles for children, adding that content to the already dynamic ebook offerings for kids through Kobo devices and the Kobo app.
“Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, expanded our idea of what a children’s book could be. Through fantastical worlds and text both silly and inspiring, Dr. Seuss has always played and continues to play a part in igniting the imaginations of young readers,”said Michael Tamblyn, President and Chief Content Officer, Kobo, in a press release. “It is a part of childhood that every parent looks forward to passing on to their kids and we couldn’t be more pleased to be bringing these essential books to young readers in digital form.”
This offering comes at a time when studies still demonstrate that younger readers tend to not only prefer print when reading self-selected texts, but an alarming study also showed a decrease in reading comprehension when kids were required to read digital editions (as opposed to having selected the ebook for themselves). But why the push for children’s ebooks if they prefer print and perform better with paper? Because the educational landscape is changing dramatically, especially for higher education, and students who aren’t equipped to navigate an environment where their coursework is on device screens may find themselves at a disadvantage. By introducing ebooks at an early age and helping students remain focused on the book throughout its use, these readers will grow up to be better suited to the expectations of an increasing number of colleges and universities.
It’s rare that Amazon isn’t leading the charge in some aspect of the book industry, but news came out today that Amazon is experimenting with ebook subscription models. In the often-compared Netflix climate, this would allow consumers to read unlimited content for one flat monthly fee.
GigaOm grabbed a link to the page for the new feature on Amazon.com, as reported by TechCrunch only a few minutes ago. Interestingly, the image only alludes to 600,000 titles available in the Amazon catalog, not the full ebook catalog, which could mean that Amazon would have the same problem with acquiring content for lending that has plagued the ebook subscription model since it first became news back in 2010.
While several companies are still pursuing the subscription model in some format–whether it’s full-length works, long-form journalism, or e-shorts–two players in the game have actually made a viable model out of it and been able to attract both readers and publishers with content. Oyster and Scribd are currently leading the way in subscription ebooks, and Scribd’s CEO Trip Adler had this to say about Amazon’s potential move into the subscription sphere:
“The apparent entrance of Amazon into the subscription market is exciting for the industry as a whole. It’s validation that we’ve built something great here at Scribd. Publishers, authors and readers alike have all seen the benefit, so its no surprise they’d want to test the waters. Successful companies don’t fear competition, but rather embrace it, learn from it and use it to continue to fuel their own innovation which is exactly what we intend to continue doing.”
It will be interesting to see how Amazon takes on this model, if it actually does so. The Amazon page with the signup button has been cached, but hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.
As more and more print publishers look for ways to stay relevant in the digital landscape, creative solutions to meeting their readers’ needs continue to evolve. This is especially true of print periodical publishers, as more consumers are turning to other sources to stay on top of news and entertainment.
Hearst Corporation, who is arguably one of the largest media conglomerates in the US with dozens of major newspapers, hundreds of magazines, and even a number of television stations, has announced the launch of a new digital video subscription service aimed at a key market, all themed around one of its most iconic magazines, Cosmopolitan.
Cosmo, as its more commonly called, is a lifestyle magazine designed for a key demographic of women, and Hearst’s new venture will seek out that same demographic with streaming health and lifestyle videos for a monthly subscription fee. Billed much like Netflix and at a similar price point of $9.95 a month, the videos will have a decidedly Cosmo-like flair.
“Basically, it’s Netflix for fitness and lifestyle content…Cosmo-style…with workout videos with names like ‘Get in the Mood Yoga,’ dating advice that takes you into the mind of a man, food and fashion tips and even healthy(ish) cocktail recipes,” said Neeraj Khemlani, head of Hearst Digital Studios and co-president of Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, in a press release. “It’s our first channel and we look forward to developing more brands–both inside Hearst and with outside partners—into new over-the-top video networks that can be accessed by subscribers on any platform or device, at any time, anywhere in the world.”
“We want to empower our Cosmo audience to feel sexy and strong, without sacrificing any of the fun,” said Joanna Coles, editor in chief of Cosmopolitan. “There’s an inextricable link between looking good and feeling good, and CosmoBody inspires women to create that connection whenever they need it, wherever they are.”
The CosmoBody channel is available now.
The Internet was buzzing this morning with the news of UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s intense reshuffling of people and positions in his cabinet, swapping roles for some of them and ousting others altogether. Of course, the headline grabber in the reordering is the loss of Michael Gove as the head of education, a change that has more than a few teachers, parents, students, and administrators breathing a sigh of relief.
Gove was responsible for a number of highly criticized initiatives, including introducing self-paced, computerized learning for some courses at some grade levels, erasing the need to pay a teacher for the position. His most recent horrible decision to be met with public outcry involved removing American literature from the curriculum, deciding that Jane Austen was far more important for young people to read than Of Mice and Men due to the fact that she was British.
With Gove’s departure to a different position, the education role will be filled by Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough. Morgan’s role will also include minister for women and equalities, which on the surface is a good combination to have within the one cabinet office as so much of the global issues in education involve equal access and support for education. Unfortunately, Morgan has come out in the past supporting the student tuition in the UK, which has led to riots in recent years.
If Morgan and her predecessor were so focused on funding in education, hopefully changes that shift the system to a viable model for digital textbooks and ebooks will emerge.
One of the other changes to cabinet positions, unfortunately, could mean trouble for Open Access. David Willetts, minister of universities, led the decision that the UK would institute open access to any scholarly publishing whose research was funded with tax dollars. This initiative has been lauded by supporters in both the copyright and academic publishing worlds for the fact that researchers should be given access to any findings that are footed by the public, therefore avoiding repeats or errors in expensive, time-consuming experimentation. Willetts has been removed from his post, and no replacement has yet been announced.
Plugin by Social Author Bio