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Amazon has penned an open letter on their website which spells out their mentality in approaching the ongoing Hachette eBook dispute. They primarily contend that selling eBooks at the $9.9 price point sells more copies and garners more money than titles that retail for $14.99.
In a written statement Amazon said “A key objective is lower e-book prices. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out-of-stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market — e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can be and should be less expensive.
It’s also important to understand that e-books are highly price-elastic. This means that when the price goes up, customers buy much less. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that at the lower price, total revenue increases 16%.
Amazon also made the keypoint of exactly how royalties are pointed to be shared between Hachette and the Seattle based company. “While we believe 35% should go to the author and 35% to Hachette, the way this would actually work is that we would send 70% of the total revenue to Hachette, and they would decide how much to share with the author. We believe Hachette is sharing too small a portion with the author today, but ultimately that is not our call.”
In closing Amazon said “Is it Amazon’s position that all e-books should be $9.99 or less? No, we accept that there will be legitimate reasons for a small number of specialized titles to be above $9.99.”
BookPal has just launched a brand new wholesale eBook operation, that will allow schools, government and businesses to buy titles in bulk.
When you purchase eBooks from BookPal the only way to read them is via the BookPal app. It is a fairly robust with the ability to make highlights, annotations, look up a definition and share excerpts with Facebook or Twitter. In order to customize the overall e-reading experience users can adjust the font size, brightness, margins or initiate night mode. You can download the apps for free for iOS and Android.
The overall catalog books is fairly small with the launch, and currently there are only one thousand titles. They come from publishers such as Perseus Books Group, Harvard Business School Press, Gallup Press, Workman Publishing, Storey and Open Road Media.
Amazon has announced a new partnership with Alloy Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros. The two sides will publish digitally at first, gauging the market to see if a print run is warranted.
The new imprint, which will also use the Alloy Entertainment name, will publish young adult, new adult and commercial fiction titles. Three titles were released for the Kindle today, as part of the partnership; Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand, Every Ugly Word by Aimee Salter, and Rebel Wing by Tracy Banghart.
Warner Bros is hoping to leverage films, television and media properties it owns to develop original works for the Kindle. Leslie Morgenstein, president of Alloy Entertainment, said: “One of our strengths is working with talented authors to create and develop properties that have mass entertainment appeal. This program is an exciting extension of our business and will allow us to leverage Amazon’s ability to distribute to an incredibly diverse and broad readership.”
“Alloy has a tremendous track record developing stories, like Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries, that our customers love,” said Jeff Belle, Vice President of Amazon Publishing. “We’re thrilled to promote these books from Alloy Entertainment with our Powered by Amazon program. It’s a great fit.”
Warner Bros and Amazon have been working together for quite awhile with the Alloy properties. Kindle Worlds, the officially sanctioned fan fiction publishing initiative has been using Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars and Gossip girls as properties for aspiring writings to craft original stories, set in that particular universe. The solidification of Alloy and Amazon might see some of these authors get proper publishing contracts, but likely we will just see movie and television show tie-ins.
Scholastic has announced in a very covert manner that they are closing the Storia eBook store, as we know it, and transitioning it into STORIA SCHOOL EDITION and Family Streaming Edition. Instead of selling eBooks directly, they intend on adopting the uber popular Netflix for eBooks ideology. What happens to the hundreds of thousands of books already purchased? How does this new subscription system actually work and is it a viable business model?
Storia was Scholastics catch all system for purchasing eBooks on an individual basis. Parents, schools and kids would use the reading app for iOS, Android and the Kindle Fire to purchase books on-demand. In order to preserve your existing content, you have to open the titles by October 2014 or they will be unable to be read them.
You can think of Storia eBooks as dedicated apps, similar to how digital magazines work on the Apple newsstand. If these apps require an update between now and August 2015, they will likely break the book. This is the primarily reason why Scholastic has stealthy offered a refund policy for any books purchased via the Storia platform. They aren’t really doing a good job making this publicly known, as there is a simple one paragraph blurb on their main website about it.
Scholastic confirmed with Good e-Reader that “Our customer service lines are fielding calls, facilitating refunds and assisting schools in transitioning from individual books purchased by teachers to streaming for an entire school. The advantage is easier access and that each ebooks is accessible by more than one child at a time (rather than buying multiple copies) which is a huge plus for the classroom; teachers are also learning about the new student progress tracking features and they like them.”
Scholastic Storia for Education was first announced in April 2014 and will be formally launched at the beginning of September. It is a system that has 2,000 eBooks and will be delivered in a subscription format. The exact rate that schools pay are dependant upon the size of the student body and how much content they intend on downloading. I have heard that the average rate is between $1,500 and $2,000 per year. This system might be beneficial for schools as they can deliver multiple copies of the same book, without having to buy 30 individual copies.
It will likely be awhile before parents and children themselves can opt into the new subscription system. Scholastic has confirmed with Good e-Reader that they are developing a Family Streaming service that is currently in the Research and Development stage. Therefore the sales structure has not been announced as single title or subscription or both. There has been no ETA given for the official launch, but likely we will not hear about until next year. The main priority is to get the new Education system up and running.
Basically, what Scholastic is doing is shuttering selling eBooks directly to schools, parents and kids. Instead, they are adopting a more financially lucrative subscription based system, which alienates families. Why have a parent buy a few titles a year, when you can have steady income generated from hundreds of schools in the US all paying a few thousand dollars a year.
My biggest concern with Storia technology being integrated into Storia for Education is awareness. Parents and Kids may casually use the app on their tablet or phone to buy and read books. They certainly don’t look at the official Storia website or read publishing geared websites like Good e-Reader. What happens when a new 39 Clues book is announced and little Jimmy is a huge fan of the series. They open the Storia app to try and buy it, only to realize all singular title purchases have been suspended and some of their past purchases don’t even work anymore.. Parents will likely be wondering why some titles work and some don’t and blame their device. In the end, they might decide that Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kobo might be the more viable method to purchase future titles. After all, they don’t change their entire eBook selling paradigm at the drop of a hat.
Australian based fashion magazine Shop Til You Drop intends to focus on digital, while still publishing four tangible issues a year. The new online edition will be available every two weeks and focus on emerging fashion trends.
Shop Til You Drop was founded in 2004 and is the modern girl’s fashion and beauty bible. It aims to make shopping easier and more accessible for time-challenged women. With a focus on shopping smart, it covers the entire market of fashion, beauty and homewares, providing the reader with the ultimate edit of what she needs this minute – mixing high-end fashion with chain-store must-haves; luxury beauty buys with pharmacy products.
Most of the writing and editorial staff of the magazine will be let go, due to sagging readership base. Instead, they will deal mainly with freelancers to write stories and contribute fashion ideas.
Shop Til You Drop falls under the ACP Magazines banner and it was purchased in 2012 by the German media conglomerate Bauer Media. We are now seeing the entire ACP portfolio undergo drastic changes to remain profitable. Grazia and Madison have shuttered their doors and Elle Australia has launched to take their place.
Northern Ireland libraries have been loaning out eBooks since 2009. Patrons have recently been embracing the digital platform, as the digital collection improves.
When eBooks first became available at Northern Ireland Libraries in 2011, there was only 363 eBooks to loan out. In 2014, the collection has grown and 9,439 titles were downloaded in a single month. On average, they are loaning out 363 a day.
Since the start of this year, the most popular genre for e-book borrowers in Northern Ireland has been romantic fiction, followed by the work of crime writers.
Welcome to the Monday edition of the Good e-Reader Radio Show with Michael Kozlowski and Mercy Pilkington. Today, we talk about the new Amazon Credit Card Reader and how its a boon to indie authors to accept mobile payments while at events. Scholastic has announced the closure of their Storia eBook platform and is transitioning to a subscription system. Finally, many eBook resellers have gone out of business in the past few years, is your purchases protected?
Buying that special someone a book for their birthday or Christmas is on the decline in the United Kingdom. The Nielsen Book Survey has just decreed that the share of books bought as gifts fell from 24% to 22% – equating to a decrease of nine million books.
Jo Henry, director of the research, said that the decline in giving books as gifts would be of particular concern to publishers and called it a “concerning trend” which has also been seen in the US. Gifts accounted for 22% of book sales in 2013, down from 24% in 2012. She is calling for more research to find out the reasons why people are not buying books as gifts as much anymore.
Nielsen also provided data on continuous climb of the eBook industry, as a whole. The survey found that digital eBooks now account for 25% of all book purchases (up from 20% in 2012) and that their growth is at the expense of paperbacks.
There is no true path of ownership when you purchase eBooks, digital comics or manga from online retailers. Instead, you are merely granted a license and if the store closes you will lose everything. In the last few years we have seen BooksonBoard, Diesel eBooks, FictionWise, JManga, Scholastic Storia, and the Sony Reader Store all shutter their doors. Do we need consumer protection laws to protect our eBooks?
When Amazon sells you an an eBook for the Kindle they have the right to remove it at any time. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is referenced and Amazon can take your books away if it finds you’ve been naughty.
Being naughty is fairly general and can apply to a myriad of factors. A Norwegian women tried to purchase a Kindle book from the UK bookstore. Under Amazon’s rules, this type of action is barred, as the publisher seeks to control what content is read in which territory of the world. Her account was promptly deleted and all content lost. Should you attempt to break the DRM security block or transfer your purchase to another device, Amazon may legally “revoke your access to the Kindle Store and the Kindle Content without refund of any fees.”
In the past, Amazon has remotely deleted purchased copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from customers’ Kindles after providing them a refund for the purchased products. This was primarily due to a rift with the original publisher and rights issues. Commenters have widely described these actions as Orwellian, and have alluded to Big Brother from Orwell’s book.
When eBook stores decide they cannot stay in business anymore they allow for a small window period that allows you to backup the purchases and store them locally. If you are an average reader who might check the website or a use a reading app periodically, you will likely miss out the opportunity to save your books.
Backing up your books presents a wide array of challenges when you want to read them in the future. When Sony or Diesel eBooks closed, the content was incompatible with the Kindle. Instead, readers had to find a third party reading app for iOS or Android, which are not heavily promoted. If readers have an e-reader such as the Kobo, Onyx or Icarus, they can use Adobe Digital Editions to transfer them over. This program is not the most intuitive and may present a barrier to the non tech savvy.
There are only a few online bookstores of note that do not sell their books using Digital Rights Management (DRM) and allow for a somewhat clearer path of ownership. TOR books is a science fiction and fantasy imprint and they made the call to abandon DRM and sell books directly to customers. Pottermore came into existence as an avenue to use digital watermarks as a way to sell Harry Potter books, and not restrict how a user can read them. Self-publishing companies such as Smashwords leave it up to the author to decide if they want to employ DRM or not, but when you buy a Smashwords title from iBooks, it does have DRM. Theoretically, what would happen to your purchases if Smashwords went out of business?
According to the latest numbers from the Association of American Publishers, adult trade ebooks brought in $1.3 billion in revenue in 2013, up 3.8% from $1.25 billion in 2012. Ebooks now account for 27% of all adult trade sales. With this much money at stake and more customers adopting them, consumer protection for digital books is going to be needed.
Australia, Canada, Europe, UK and the United States do not have any current protection laws for digital books. They leave it up to the publishing industry and resellers to determine how best to run their own businesses and to develop their own licensing agreements. With millions of eBooks, comics and manga being lost after purchasing on a worldwide scale, something needs to be done to augment the First Sale Doctrine, Copyright Software Rental Amendments Act and Digital Millenium Copyright Act to protect customers from companies indiscriminately removing purchased content or to save it from a company going out of business.
Santa Monica hotel Shutters on the Beach is doing something very interesting. They will buy the books you want to read during your holiday and have them awaiting you in the room upon check in
In order to have one or a bunch of books waiting in your room, simply call the front desk up to 24 hours in advance. A dedicated book buyer will purchase books, magazines and newspapers from the local Barnes and Noble bookstore. The cost of them will be billed in your room and your poolside
Marvel is attending the San Diego Comic Con in a big way and is spearheading many discussion groups, where the top brass is announcing the future. A few months ago Disney announced that all Expanded Universe books are not considered canon and decades worth of content is null and void. This opens up a new world, of new stories to tell and some of its coming in the form of three new digital comics.
The three series announced were Star Wars by Aaron and Cassaday, Star Wars: Darth Vader by Gillen and Salvador Larocca, and Star Wars: Princess Leia by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson. All three series will take place in a timeframe immediately following the end of the original Star Wars movie – A New Hope.
The one story arc I am excited about is the new Darth Vader one. “With the Empire suffering a crushing defeat that resulted in the loss of the Death Star, Vader has a lot to make up for. He needs to restore his reputation as the most feared man in the galaxy, as well as prove to the Emperor that he’s still got what it takes. The title is billed as the story of the epic battle for the galaxy, only this time told from the dark side.”
Marvel intends on making Star Wars and Darth Vader both an ongoing series and Princess Leia is going to be a limited five-issue miniseries. The first issue of all of these new comics will be released in January and February of 2015. Likely they will hit Marvels own official app for iOS and Android first and then be available on Marvel Unlimited six months later.
The English department and student library are undergoing some trying times when it comes to reading classic literature. A very high majority of young scholars find it a chore to have to read or being forced to do it. The libraries are seeing record number of seminal classics such as The Odyssey, Catcher in the Rye or the Great Gatsby not even being checked out once in a school year. This is resulting in some libraries removing classic novels from the shelves and sold off, or offered as donations.
Wisconsin parents and librarians are concerned that classic novels are being removed from schools. This is prompting a ton of complaints against the Department of Education. District workers over the summer are removing thousands of books and school workers at a loss why.
District workers who lack library training and collection management are entering libraries and removing of books that had been rarely checked out or were older than 2000, including classics, often without the knowledge or input of the librarian on staff, because they are on summer holidays.
One of the hardest-hit schools was Mitchell Middle School, according to Gabrielle Sharrock, she lamented “I was not consulted about books being removed and two days after the school was “weeded” I found dozens of boxes full of books slated to be destroyed, numerous shelves bare and most of the non-fiction section nearly cleared out.”
Middle school and high schools often employ a single librarian or a squad of two to maintain the entire collection. In order to keep the library updated district workers are dispatched during the summer months to weed out the books not loaned out at all during a school year, are in reprehensible shape or simply not relevant. Apparently classic novels such as Brave New World is not hip anymore, but Grumpy Catis permanently loaned out.
Do Students Hate the Classics?
District workers removing thousands of books and either donating or destroying them is sobering news. This does raise the interesting point of how current students view remedial reading or spending time in the library.
One student said “the point of English class is not to make you love books but trying to get you to deconstruct the author’s work. However, all throughout high school, I did no deconstructing of my own and instead just regurgitated what sparknotes said. This was partly due to laziness but more so because I didn’t actually understand the subtle points the book was trying to make.”
A recently graduated high school student countered “This is something the modern education curriculum needs to grapple with – information is now insanely pervasive, accessible, and instantaneous. It doesn’t require a dedicated night of research to figure out how to do your taxes by going to a library and digging through books.”
He continued “In terms of social benefit, through, this entire mess calls into question the systemic function of school in the first place – is deconstruction and analytical interpretation of literature a necessary skill in life? Hell no. So here is a question – why are you forcing it on all the nations youths, especially when it actively detracts from a long term healthy engagement with mentally stimulating writings? My own experiences pay privy to that notion since a good 90% of my peers haven’t read a book for leisure ever. Mainly because they were scarred by compulsory curriculum with arcane language and no modern cultural relatability.”
Finally, a current student at a Wisconsin High School said “I was utterly bored with Lord of the Flies and The Great Gatsby just because I didn’t have a choice in reading them”
Students over the years really have not changed. I remember with compulsory reading, 99% of the students hated it and used Sparknotes or Cliff Notes. At the middle or high school age students don’t like to be forced to read books and do essays on them. This is partly because of the books being unrelatable by modern conventions. It is no small wonder the books that go unread are the ones being tossed in the rubbish bin. I just hope that the future of humanity is not culturally devoid and speak exclusively in Emoji.
NASA is the US government agency responsible for space exploration and designing new technologies to achieve it. They have seen better days, since they have abandoned space shuttle launches and instead rely on the ISS in Russia to provide access to the International Space Station. Due to the complicated political landscape with Russia, Space X is hoping to leverage their reusable rockets and take over manned missions. The one thing NASA is not known for is digital publishing, and the agency is quietly building an eBook empire.
NASA eBooks has been an ongoing project that started in the last decade. They have two different repositories, one that is mainly available in PDF and has hundreds of titles and a more optimized library that is more heavily promoted.
NASA eBooks is a new initiative that only has 16 titles, but most of them are fairly accessible and deal with broad subject matter. They are all 100% free and are available in EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats. This basically allows them to be read on any e-reader, tablet or smartphone.
The new eBook system NASA employs deals with titles printed from 2009-2014, which half of the list being very current. You can learn about the new F-18 research or the evolution of the Russian Space Agency. My favorite, which was released recently is Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication and edited by SETI Director of Interstellar Message Composition Douglas Vakoch, the document draws on “issues at the core of contemporary archaeology and anthropology” to prepare us “for contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, should that day ever come.”
NASA does not sell or distribute their eBooks on any other platform, such as Amazon or Kobo. Instead, you have to download it directly from their website in the format of your choice. This is a great resource for people looking to pursue an aeronautics career or solid resources for teachers. For everyone else, there are few really cool titles on how the Hubble Telescope got built or how NASA is testing drones.
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