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Welcome to another Good e-Reader Roundtable discussion with Michael and Peter. The topic today is what is the better operating system overall, Android or iOS? The two tech stalwarts talk about personal experiences with them both and make some valid points.
One of the real benefits of the Apple ecosystem is the first party developer support. If you want to deliver magazines, newspapers or games, you only have a few screen sizes and resolutions to choose from. You rarely deal with aspect ratio problems and get the content as they intended. Android on the other hand has so many different screen sizes and resolution, that you encounter errors more often.
Android on the other hand allows for more customization options in the form of keyboards, widgets, live wallpapers and launchers. You get more freedom to craft your own experience.
Yahoo is making a big play to be the default search engine to iOS 7 and above. The company currently powers the Weather and Stock apps on iPads and iPhones the world over.
A new report states that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is preparing detailed presentations to present to high level Apple executives showing what its new mobile search product could look like. There are a pair of internal projects, code-named “Fast Break” and “Curveball”, that are part of Yahoo’s redesign of its mobile search engine for iOS.
Microsoft Bing currently integrated with Siri to be the search engine of choice when internet results are dispatched to users. Bing is also one of the user selectable options for Safari. The two companies are basically in the middle of a ten year deal and Yahoo wants to replace Microsoft.
Residents of the US, Canada and Australia have early access to a new feature on eBook discovery website GoodReads. In the largest single act of synergy since Amazon purchased GoodReads last year, customers can now have all of their Kindle Books synced automatically to their bookshelf.
How do you know if you have this new feature? You’ll see the Add Amazon Book Purchases link in the Tools list on the left hand side of the My Books page (and a small announcement at the top of the page). Click on either link and you will be asked to sign in to your Amazon account. You’ll then see your Amazon book purchases. You can go through and rate each book and select the appropriate shelf for it. GoodReads gives you full control over which books to add, so you can avoid adding any books bought as gifts or anything else. Any book not rated or added to a shelf will not be added to Goodreads.
Members in the U.S., Canada, and Australia can also use the Add Your Amazon Books option on Goodreads on Kindle Paperwhite (first and second generation devices) and the new Kindle Fires. This is great for people who have installed the latest firmware updates to give you access to GoodReads right on your tablet or e-reader.
There has been a number of Papyre e-readers available in Europe for quite sometime. It has never really been a household name because its normally found in Spain. Their earlier devices suffered from sluggish performance and ugly aesthetics. The new Papyre 630 is breaking this mold and might be a solid device to look at if you are interested in loading in your own books.
The Papyre 630 has a six inch e Ink Pearl HD display screen with a resolution of 1024 X 758 pixels. One thing readers will dig is the inclusion of a full touchscreen display and physical page turn keys that will appeal to right or left handed readers. This edition will let you read in the dark with the built in front-lit, interesting enough the LED lights are on the bottom of the screen, similar to the Nook design.
Underneath the hood is a 1.2 GHZ single core processor, and 4 GB of internal memory. There is support for an SD Card, so you can expand it if carrying a copious amount of books appeals to you.
When it comes to reading, you have support for DRM ePub or PDF eBooks that are purchased from other retailers. You can also download and load them in yourself, the formats supported are TXT, PDF, EPUB, PDB, FB2, RTF, MOBI. Its nice to see a reader that will read a Kindle friendly format, in MOBI.
There is no store loaded on the device to buy digital books from. Instead, the company that makes the e-reader, Grammata, has a web-based store. This forces you to rely on the WIFI and internet browser to download books from the online store or use other websites or even Dropbox. You can buy this e-reader now for 119 euros.
In the end, this device will likely appeal to people who want a simple e-reader with no defined store. If you don’t like the other major e-reader brands, this might work for you. If you buy it for someone who is not tech savvy, I would recommend just load it up with books.
Amazon has introduced new functionality for Kindle ereaders and tablets with Cloud Drive. Starting today, all personal documents that you have archived in your Kindle Library will be available to access, delete, organize, and share from your Amazon Cloud Drive. You can see these documents in a new “My Send-to-Kindle Docs” folder on Amazon Cloud Drive alongside all of your saved content, such as photos and personal videos.
The syncing of personal documents is done automatically and requires no management on the users part. Also starting today, new documents that you save to the cloud with Send to Kindle will be kept in their native format (e.g. MS Word, RTF, TXT) so you can access them anywhere from Amazon Cloud Drive.
Amazon recognizes that often their customers use the send to kindle plugins for major web-browsers to send interesting bookmarks or RSS feeds to their device. The company is also keenly aware that most of their users get heavily invested in their ecosystem and have more than one in the household. Being able to sync your documents and user uploaded content into your main account means you can access it on the existing hardware but also the new Amazon Smartphone.
Texet has bucked the trend of the standard six inch e-reader in Russia with the advent of the eight inch TB-418FL. The company has released numerous e-readers over the course of the last few years and this one is the best one yet.
The Texet TB-418FL features a eight inch screen with a resolution of 1024×768. It has a the same front-lit display that Amazon and Kobo employ in their latest generation models. It has a 800MHZ processor and 4 GB of internal storage. There is no WIFI or built in bookstore, instead customers are reliant in loading in their own eBooks. It does support a myriad of formats including DOC, DJVU, TXT, PDF, EPUB, PDB, FB2, HTML, RTF, MOBI, CHM.
The vast majority of e-readers in Russia have no established ecosystem to purchase books. The market is plagued by rampant piracy and Pocketbook is the only major player that actually runs a bookstore, but tend to just have copyright free editions. iMobilco is currently one of the most notable digital bookstores in Russia and currently has 20% of the market. The largest entity is LitRes, which is the most dominant and controls 60% of the market. Sergei Anuriev, the general director of LitRes, believes that by 2015 the entire ebook segment will increase to 5%, which will be equivalent of $90 million in sales.
One of the main reasons digital sales are so paltry is because of piracy. Eksmo, Russia’s largest publishing house, recently commented that 95% of all ebooks are pirate copies. This results in close to $120 million in losses for the entire digital publishing industry. It is currently estimated that between 100,000-110,000 titles are available as pirated editions, compared to just 60,000 available legally.
The Texet TB-418FL is available now and costs 7499 rubles.
We live in a world of tremendous political upheaval and lobbying groups consistently push their own agenda. When it comes to digital books, they are less immune to being edited or certain passages, words or phrases being replaced and substituted with something else. How do we know our eBooks are not being altered when we buy them from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo or iBooks?
Mark Twain’s classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was first published in 1884. There are over 200 racial slurs spread throughout the book and it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the USA, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright. Alabama-based publisher, NewSouth books published in 2011 a new edition of the book that replaced certain words with more politically correct ones. The publisher went on a PR speaking tour of libraries and schools to hype the fact this particular version of the book is acceptable to be sold.
One of the big proponents that contribute to the overall problem is open sourced books that are royalty free and not have a copyright. Many publishers such as Penguin resell them as Penguin Classics, and other companies like Project Gutenberg give them away for free. Public domain books can be edited or changed without reason and then resold and distributed through other self-publishing platforms. There are no gatekeepers, no one to make the judgement call if this is best practice.
Many European countries actively erect barriers to combat the problem of changing words in a book. They have what’s known as a moral rights that has no time limit. So you are not allowed to significantly change work and publish it even if the commercial copyright has expired. Moral rights have had a less robust tradition in the United States. Copyright law in the United States emphasizes protection of financial reward over protection of creative attribution.
In a recent thread at the e-reading website MobileRead one user explained their reasons of changing the fabric of a book “I recently uploaded The Queen of Hearts (a collection of novels written in the 1850s) by Wilkie Collins to the MR library. As well as changing ‘gayety’ to ‘gaiety’ and ‘gayly’ to ‘gaily’ I also changed ‘gay’ to ‘light-hearted’. I did this because the English language has changed in the last 150 odd years. In our day ‘a gay man’ would almost certainly be read as ‘a homosexual man,’ and this is simply not what Collins meant – he would have used a different term if he had dared to mention a character’s sexual orientation at all. I did add a note to the posting that I had updated spelling and hyphenation – I also changed ‘to-day’ to ‘today’ for example.”
We are experiencing turbulent times when books are banned and publishers want to push out their own sanitized versions. Others merely clean up old English with modern day English to make books more accessible. Many people believe making any edits is a horrible violation of the author’s work and a disservice to readers. I lean towards that mentality primarily due to respecting literary history.
Kindle Direct Publishing is a self-publishing platform that individuals and small presses use to add their eBooks for sale on the Amazon bookstore. When customers purchase an authors books, normally they did not know about it until 24 hours later. Today in a bold move, Amazon has introduced live sales data that will inform authors in real time when their book is purchased.
Self-published authors can celebrate as Amazon introduced a brand new Sales Dashboard on the KDP Reports page to give you up-to-date reporting of paid, borrowed and free orders as they are placed in Kindle stores worldwide. The new dashboard also helps you track royalties earned as payments are processed for these orders.
You can filter the Sales Dashboard and Sales & Royalty Report by title, marketplace, and timeframe. The information you currently receive in the Prior Six Weeks’ Royalties reports is now available in the new Sales Dashboard and Sales & Royalty Report.
One of the great elements about the new dashboard is the immediate feedback for authors engaged in a marketing campaign. You will be able to track sales for just that book for a set number of days while you’re running the campaign, and decide if it was worth the effort or not.
Barnes and Noble is heavily invested in the Microsoft Windows 8 ecosystem with their Nook Reading app. It allows customers to purchase eBooks and magazines and read them on their computer or tablet, such as the Microsoft Surface. Recently, B&N expanded their Nook Press self-publishing program into a few different companies in Europe. It allows indie authors to distribute their eBooks all over the world. One of the downsides, is that if you live outside of the US and UK, you can’t read indie books on your Nook e-Reader or tablet, the only way you can is via the Windows 8 app. Microsoft has publicly announced the Nook App will be removed in the near future and a new reading app will be developed called Microsoft Reader.
Microsoft Reader will be powered by Barnes and Noble and will allow customers to read and purchase books. There will also be solid PDF functionality so readers can load in their own titles. This entire situation is going to haunt Barnes and Noble because their own customers will have to use a competitors app and implore their base to buy Windows 8 tablets to read the books on the go.
Barnes and Noble has always ran Android in their e-readers and tablets. This worked out well when the only market they focused on was the US. B&N ran software to geographically restrict the ability to buy books from outside the States and UK. This means the actual Nook hardware is tremendously limiting and can only be used in two countries. When Microsoft scuttles the Nook Windows 8 app, where does that leave readers who want to buy and read Nook books? Apparently the situation is more complex.
The only way Barnes and Noble can avoid an unpleasant situation on behest of their Microsoft overlords is if the new Nook Tablets run Windows 8. I seriously doubt this will happen, but it would be the only way Barnes and Noble can sell its hardware outside of their two core markets and allow people to buy and read books on their device. Currently the Nook Windows 8 Reading app is the ONLY way readers in Canada, France, Germany, Spain can buy and read books. Why do you think B&N continues to lose over a billion dollars on Nook hardware sales? They are not appealing to a global audience and actually prevent people from doing business with them. Going the Windows 8 route on their new devices will solve this issue and make them more accessible. If they can develop the first Windows 8 Reading Tablet, it will be a great marketing ploy. Amazon and Kobo both bill their line of Android tablets as reading tablet, running Android. Nook can say, we have the worlds first Windows 8 reading tablet.
Most bookstores in North America and Europe have set business hours. They tend to open at 9 AM and go until 10 PM. Indie bookstores often have the standard 9-5 mentality and this sometimes prevent people who work late from buying books. A bookstore in Beijing China is bucking the standard operating hour trend and has just adopted a new 24 hour schedule.
Sanlian Taofen Bookstore in Dongcheng District has pleased local citizens by keeping their store opened 24 hours a day. The bookstore first opened their doors in 1996 and currently displays 80,000 titles across 1,500 square meters, and is one of Beijing’s cultural landmarks.
According to the Peoples Daily Fan Xi’an, president of SJPC, borrowed the 24-hour concept from Taiwanese retail chain Eslite Bookstore. “I was thrilled by the large number of readers found at night in Eslite Bookstore when I visited Taiwan in 2010,” he said.
The bookstore had actually been planning a 24 hour schedule since 2011, but lack of funds scuttled the plans. However, the extra cost has now been covered by sponsorship from the central government and Beijing Municipality — part of authorities’ broader scheme to subsidize a total of 56 bookstores around China. “We no longer have to pay value-added tax, and the government has announced 90 million yuan (14.6 million U.S. dollars) to support 55 operations like us,” said Fan.
Expanded operating hours are serving a dual purpose. One allows people who work long business hours the oportonity to shop in a bookstore during the weekday. Secondly it gives youth something else to do other than bars and nightclubs. A neighboring cafe has signed on to allow books to be taken into the cafe and refreshments into the bookstore.
Last week Amazon acquired the largest purveyor in digital comics, Comixology. The company has been going strong since 2007 and functions as the primary distribution method for Archie, DC, GI JOE, Marvel and over 70 different publishers. These publishers are now very worried that Amazon will employ the same strong-arm tactics they did with publishers to get eBooks at rock bottom prices.
During the last few years Amazon categorically informed a large number of small and medium sized publishers that Amazon would not negotiate agency selling terms with any other publishers outside of the five initial Apple partners. The publishers were told that if they switched to an agency model for ebooks, Amazon would stop selling their entire list, in print and digital form. Amazon also played hardball with companies like S&S, HarperCollins, Hachette and Random-Penguin when the agency model was disbanded to get the best deals possible.
Amazon is a company that functions on margins and firmly embraces the wholesale methodology to their entire ecosystem. The big problem is comic publishers have no experience with outside companies mandating lower prices. A number of comic book publishers have told me off the record that they are really worried that they are going to receive a call from Amazon and inform them they have to reduce their prices. The vast majority will have no choice but to aquis to whatever new terms Amazon mandates, because they have no other resource to sell their comics.
Comixology is not the only player in town that sells digital comics, but is the definitive force when it comes to single issue comics. Amazon, Apple, B&N, Google and Kobo all sell graphic novels. Comic book lovers often are enamoured with single issues because they can stay current with the major storylines, instead of waiting a number of months for them to be packaged into a graphic novel. A few times a year Marvel and DC have big events that crossover into popular franchises. Fear Itself, AVX, Age of Ultron tend to have four or five comics coming out every single week. People want the single issues in order to really get into the story. Sadly, Comixology is really the only company to actively market them.
DC Comics is one company that has been branching out on their own lately, instead of exclusively relying on Comixology. The company made their first single comic distribution agreement with Google Books. Starting last week, readers will be able to buy all new issues every Wednesday. The company also pulled out all of their comics out of the Comixology app for the Kindle Fire, citing better sales on other platforms.
Marvel has been actively developing their own end-to-end solution where they want to get into the business of selling their own comics and not relying on 3rd parties. The first step to this was incorporating Marvel AR into the main Marvel app. This gives users the ability to use their tablets camera on a physical book to get commentary from the writers/artists or to check out animations. A few weeks ago Marvel unveiled the ability to have comics read aloud to you at South by Southwest. The big rumor is that Marvel plans on incorporating their Netflix for Comics Marvel Unlimited into their main app and also start selling comics themselves.
It is currently unknown what Amazon will do with Comixology. They might pull a Zappos or GoodReads and let them run autonomously, while incorporating some key technology into their own ecosystem. Alternatively they might elect to shutter it completely and if you want comics, Amazon will be the only game in town. I don’t know how DC or Marvel will enjoy the talks with Amazon to lower their prices or if they will physically resist it.
Comixology is the largest digital comics distribution platform on iOS, Android and Windows 8. The company has been going strong since 2007 and their technology powers the reading apps from Marvel, DC, Archie, and has every single comic and graphic novel of the Walking Dead. Last week, Amazon announced they acquired Comixology. This did not really surprise anyone who keeps tabs on the digital comic industry, but did Apple, B&N and Kobo miss the boat?
When it comes to selling comic books online, Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, Google and many other players all sell them. Surprisingly most only sell graphic novels, instead of single issue comics. Graphic novels usually comprise of 6 issues of a series and make it easier than purchasing each one separately. This appeals to more casual readers, but hardcore readers often choose Comixology to stay on top of all of the new releases every Wednesday. The only notable exception is DC making a new agreement with Google to carry new single issue comics on the Google Books Store.
Why did Barnes & Noble, iBooks or Kobo not pursue this deal? This could have been game changers for those companies and it could have appealed to the people who have downloaded over 215 million comics from Comixology. Industry experts have speculated that the B&N executive team is not forward thinking enough to actually go through with it and they have their own turmoil in the executive ranks to think about. Kobo is exclusively focused on international expansion and Apple is only concerned with making the 30% royalty on in-app purchases and selling stuff on iTunes.
If there was a single company to benefit the most from Comixology, it was Amazon. The Seattle based company had developed comic technology called Panel View option for fixed layout illustrated ebooks. This attempt was clearly trying to clone the far superior Guided View from Comixology. Amazon also does not allow high resolution images in KF8 FXL files, which is their file format to emulate EPUB3, but also appealing to more visual and interactive titles. Considering Amazon is putting a priority on high resolution displays on the Kindle Fire HDX line of tablets, the deal with Comixology deal solves all of these issues.
I really feel like Barnes and Noble and Kobo really missed a golden oportonity to purchase Comixology. Both of them would have been better caretakers of the comic company and could have benefited from something no one else had. The deep pockets of Kobo owned Rakuten could have financed the deal and could have added the last piece of the puzzle to their trifecta of eBooks, Kids titles and magazines. Barnes and Noble could have really had a great content distribution system that is a proven revenue earner to offset the losses on Nook hardware and eBooks.
Welcome back to another utterly compelling edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show! Today Michael Kozlowski and Jeremy Greenfield talk about all of the major news coming out of the London Book Fair. In addition, we talk about Barnes and Nobles expansion plans for Nook Press, what challenges they face with relying on Windows 8 and Amazon purchasing Comixology.
Jeremy Greenfield was live in London last week for the London Book Fair. This is the largest event held in Europe where publishers bid on rights fees, talk shop and network. You will all get a total rundown of the major sessions about self-publishing, Nook Press, Amazon being the villain you love to hate and more!
The biggest story last week was Amazon purchasing Comixology. This was a strategic investment for their Guided View technology to incorporate into their own ecosystem and replace their older version. There is an air of uncertainty in the comic publishing industry right now. Publishers are worried that Amazon may employ strong arm tactics to get lower rates on graphic novels and single issue comics. Will Amazon abandon the Comixology app and incorporate of the content in their own ecosystem? Will publishers start relying less on Comixology and start developing their own end-to-end solutions? Only time will tell. Did Apple, B&N and Kobo miss the boat on buying Comixology? We discuss all of this!
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