Digital Publishing News

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Television and Radio programs often have to rely on sponsors and public donations to keep everything running smoothly. Bookshout is pioneering a new eBook program that can be used to give literary rewards to donors and philanthropists.

How exactly does this new program work? Jason Ilian the CEO of Bookshout spelled it out out. ” Existing radio and television stations that do fundraising campaigns are normally in touch with Forest Incentive.  Forest has integrated the Bookshout API,  so free eBooks can be given out with the campaign.  The station will work with Forest to choose which book(s) they want  and a special link is set out to the receipt via phone or email. The link will take them to a branded one-time redemption page where all they have to do is enter a username and password. Then the donor will be reading the ebook on BookShout.  They can use the iOS, Android, or web app at any time for their ebooks.”

Publishing giants such as HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan, Open Road Integrated Media, Simon & Schuster, Wiley, Workman Publishing, and numerous others have committed to participating in the program. “HarperCollins is honored to provide our great content to all public broadcasters via the BookShout!/Forest partnership,” said Chantal
Restivo-Alessi, the Chief Digital Officer at HarperCollins. “We believe this will be a powerful new sales channel for our ebooks and authors.”

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The European Court of Justice has just concluded that EU member states are free to charge differing rates of VAT on eBooks and paper books. This will allow all countries in Europe to basically change their VAT on all books and not break ‘fiscal neutrality’, an EU concept whereby markets for the same goods are distorted by varying tax rates.

There have been major disagreements between member states and the European Commission on this subject over the past three years. Luxembourg dropped eBooks from the standard 15% VAT rate to 3% in 2012. France then followed suite with a drop from the then standard French VAT 19.5% to 5.5%.

Most countries in Europe have different VAT prices on digital content and were remiss to change their policies because they did not want to get smote by the European Court of Justice. With their new ruling, member states are now totally free to change the taxes on eBooks, without worry.

The 3% VAT based in Luxembourg was very advantageous to Amazon, Apple, Google and Kobo as an entry point to Europe. By basing their operations there, they could sell books in most European countries at a reduced VAT rate. This really helped them penetrate the lucrative UK market, where the established VAT rate is 20% on digital content.

Publishers, bookstores and small presses have been lobbying the UK government for change. They found that being based in the United Kingdom was inherently disadvantageous, because they had to charge 20% VAT, while Amazon could get away with 3%. This has prompted the EU to change their legislation in early 2015. Ebook companies will have to charge VAT at the rate where the customer is who buys the e-book, rather than at the rate where the servers of the e-book business are based.

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Kobo has announced that they have formed a new partnership with Bol.com, the largest provider of eBooks in the Netherlands and Belgium. Starting today, customers will be able to order the entire Kobo Arc line of tablets and modern e-readers like the Kobo Aura and Aura HD directly on the Bol website. This agreement though, goes far beyond e-readers and may be a blueprint of how Kobo forms relationships with eBook retails going forward.

Bol.com introduced digital reading in the Netherlands and Belgium five years ago, and since then has experienced amazing growth. In addition to the 1.2 million eReaders sold in the Netherlands, customers can also read their eBooks digitally via tablets and smartphones. The selection of eBooks has grown enormously over the past few years. One in seven non-fiction books sold in the Netherlands is digital.

Every so often, a Kobo press release hits the Good e-Reader offices, and it normally involves them establishing new relationships with booksellers to get their e-readers in as many retail channels as possible. One specific element on the official press release piqued my interest “Over the next few months, bol.com and Kobo will launch innovations to make digital reading even more user-friendly.” What exactly does this mean?

I talked to Pieter Swinkels, Vice President, Publisher Relations & Merchandising at Kobo. He stated “Starting today we are combining our libraries to offer the widest selection possible in the Netherlands and Belgium. This takes some time; the transition has begun and should be complete very soon. As well, customers will be able to buy books across the two platforms (bol.com store, Kobo store, Kobo device store, apps stores) and be able to access them through one cloud-based library (the Kobo library), they will have the full regular Kobo experience, including Reading Life, Notes and Bookmark Synchronization. We will continue to have the Dutch version of the global Kobo apps for all platforms, but also in coming weeks expect to launch a special bol.com-Kobo app.”

He went on to specifically address Sony users “Customers using a Sony device from bol.com will continue to have the experience they have now, so they’ll buy on the bol.com site and download their purchase with Adobe DE or Watermark. They will also be able to access those books on Kobo devices and apps, with their bol.com or Kobo account. In other words, we’re completely connecting the two platforms and creating one, seamless experience of searching, buying and reading. This is a tremendous departure from the previous bol.com experience, which was, as you write, basically a side loading experience.”

So what we are seeing now with the Bol partnership is Kobo willingly including another retailers digital library into their own. This might appeal towards other online booksellers such as Txtr.

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HarperCollins has introduced new digital watermark technology that will be very appealing towards customers in Europe. Digimarc Guardian watermarks are fully compatible with DRM solutions. The tractability they provide remains fully effective even in cases where the DRM layer has been removed by users, using 3rd party tools.

Digital watermarking technology caught on a few years ago when the entire Harry Potter eBook collection adopted it, instead of going the traditional DRM route. This allows users to seamlessly load their purchased content on as many devices as they wish, without the need for bulky third party programs or apps.

Digimarc’s cloud-based platform offers easy-to-integrate API support for most e-book formats, including EPUB, PDF and MOBI. For each transaction, the platform generates a unique, traceable digital watermark and embeds it throughout the e-book. The imperceptible digital identifiers are extremely difficult for pirates to locate and remove. Adding Digimarc Guardian
Watermarks takes just seconds and is invisible to the end customer.

Digimarc’s anti-piracy service then crawls the web 24×7 searching for watermarked content. When a watermark is detected, Digimarc provides the unique identifier to the publisher to match against its own transaction records. Digimarc Guardian Watermarks do not contain any user information; the Digimarc Watermarks contain only anonymous digital IDs.

HarperCollins confirmed with Good e-Reader that watermarks will have a very gradual roll out, and not all new titles will have this technology. They also neglected to mention if specific markets will have this feature introduced first, such as Europe, where watermarking is the current rage.

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kindle

There is a vast segment of Kindle owners that download pirated eBooks from the internet. It is estimated that up to 20% of eBook downloads stem from bit-torrent or pirate sites. There is a new online threat that is targeting Kindle owners, that may hijack your entire Amazon account.

Digital Books have a great deal of metadata that assists online retailers and publishers in understand reading habits and key metrics. Most of this data is harmless and can be equated to cookies, when you visit internet websites. A new vulnerability has been discovered, that targets pirated eBooks and key metadata in the header or authors name can run external scripts and compromise your Amazon account.

Here is how the vulnerability works. Hackers have been injecting links to external websites in the book’s title or in the field reserved for the name of the author, or in both. The script is triggered when you visit the Amazon Kindle Management page and have used the Send to Kindle Plugin. The Kindle Library takes whatever is inside the book’s title or author fields and inserts it into the Kindle Library web page. As a result, if the title or author fields contain HTML code, this code becomes part of the Kindle Library web page and is treated as if it had originated from Amazon’s server.Send to Kindle remains a very popular function, Amazon has an official version and many 3rd parties have developed alternatives for Android, Chrome, Firefox or iOS. It basically allows you to send documents and eBooks directly to your Amazon account to be read by a Kindle e-Reader, tablet or official reading app.

Piracy has been running rampant ever since the Kindle was first released. The Publishers Association issued 115,000 legal threats to websites to stop free pirated books in 2011, a rise of 130% on 2010. Many websites and file sharing services allow anyone to download them, and the person who cracked it normally just wants to give it away. This new vulnerability should give you pause, that a free eBook may come with a catch.


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The highest court in Europe has ruled that libraries can digitize books without publishers permission and distribute them to dedicated reading terminals. The decision rests on exceptions built into the EU Copyright Directive for reproducing and communicating intellectual property. Specifically it says that publicly accessible libraries may make works available at “dedicated terminals… for the purpose of research or private study.”

Under the EU Copyright Directive, authors have the exclusive right to authorize or prohibit the reproduction and communication of their works. However, the directive also allows for exceptions or limitations to that right. 

“The right of libraries to communicate, by dedicated terminals, the works they hold in their collections would risk being rendered largely meaningless, or indeed ineffective, if they did not have an ancillary right to digitize the works in question,” the court said.

This is good news for library patrons that simply need to conduct research. However, libraries cannot permit visitors to use the terminals to print out the works or store them on a USB stick, by doing so, the visitor reproduces the work by making a new copy. This copying is not covered by the exception, particularly since the copies are made by individuals and not by the library itself. 

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HarperCollins has struck new partnership with JD.com and China National Publications Import and Export Corporation. Starting today, over 800 backlist eBook titles will be available in English.

The Chinese publishing industry generated an astounding $42.89 billion in 2013 and should reach $57.74 billion in 2014. This is the first time HarperCollins has entered the market in a digital capacity.

Some of the titles available include; The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Divergent by Veronica Roth and several titles from bestselling authors C.S. Lewis, Lemony Snicket, Beverly Cleary and Neil Gaiman. Additional titles will be rolled out in the coming months.

“JD.com has been a key partner in selling HarperCollins print books in China for years and we are happy to work with them on our e-book business,” said Chantal Restivo-Alessi, Chief Digital Officer for HarperCollins Publishers. “By expanding our international e-book distribution we’re opening up a new market for our authors’ works.”

“The e-book market in China is poised for tremendous growth. We’re excited to bring great content from HarperCollins to our readers,” said Haifeng Yang, Head of Books, Audios and Videos from JD.com.

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oyster

The publishing industry has been trying to crack the Netflix for eBooks concept for a number of years. Oyster is one of the bright spots, offering 500,000 eBook titles and has established relationships with over 1,600 distinguished publisher partners. Today, Oyster is celebrating their one year anniversary and offers some key metrics on their ecosystem.

500,000+ titles– including New York Times and national bestsellers like Steve Jobs, Under the Dome, The Happiness Project, Beautiful Ruins, The Great Gatsby, Onward and hundreds of thousands more.

1,600+ publishers – from Harper Collins and Simon & Schuster to prestigious independent houses and self-publishing aggregators, including Houghton Mifflin, Rodale, Melville House, Other Press, Smashwords and Verso.

6 platforms — after an iOS-only launch, Oyster is now accessible on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Web, Mobile Web Reader, and Android!

You can now find 46 genres, 1,289 lists of books, and more than 200,000 authors on Oyster to satisfy any type of reader.

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File photo of Canadian author Atwood posing for a portrait in Toronto

Margaret Atwood is a Man Booker prize-winning novelist and her latest title will not be released for one hundred years. She is joining the Future Library, which will see 99 other authors lock their books away in a time capsule.

The Future Library was the brainchild of Scottish artist Katie Paterson, the project is based in Norway, where the city of Oslo has gifted a patch of woodland near the city to the Future Library Trust. Paterson has planted 1,000 trees there, which will grow for 100 years before being cut down and turned into paper to print an anthology of all the books which have been submitted over the century.

“It is the kind of thing you either immediately say yes or no to. You don’t think about it for very long,” said Atwood, speaking from Copenhagen. “I think it goes right back to that phase of our childhood when we used to bury little things in the backyard, hoping that someone would dig them up, long in the future, and say, ‘How interesting, this rusty old piece of tin, this little sack of marbles is. I wonder who put it there?'”

Every year the brain trust will select another title to be included in the project. The physical titles will be stored at the Deichmanske Public Library, which is opening in 2018 in Bjørvika, Oslo. The organizers are even setting up a printing press, to insure that the anthology will actually be printed, when the world switches to digital.

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kindle kids book creator

Amazon has always offered plenty of tools for authors to craft their own eBook, but kids books are a different story. In order to make Kindle Direct Publishing more relevant to children’s authors, Amazon has just unveiled a standalone program called Kindle Kids’ Book Creator.

Kindle Kids’ Book Creator is a free tool for authors and publishers to turn their illustrated children’s books into great-looking Kindle books. Kindle Kids’ Book Creator makes it easy for authors and publishers to import artwork, add text to pages, and preview how their book will look on Kindle devices.

With the click of a button, authors also can add Kindle Text Pop-Ups to make it easy to read their book on any device, including smart phones, tablets, and PCs. Authors then can publish to Kindle and share their story with tens of millions of Amazon customers worldwide.

Kindle Kids’ Book Creator supports multiple layouts for children’s books, including facing page spreads. Kindle Kids’ Book Creator accepts the most popular graphic file types, so authors are free to create art in their preferred design tools. Authors can even import a book from a multi-page PDF, making it easier to ever to take a book originally created for print and turn it into a Kindle book. When you are ready to publish your book, simply go to Kindle Direct Publishing to upload your book.

Kindle Kids’ Book Creator also makes it quick to preview how the content will look across Kindle devices. With an integrated preview feature, authors can validate that their books look beautiful on Kindle Fire tablets.

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Scribd has already posted their year in review infographic that gives as a sense of their most popular reading categories. Over the course 2014 they have had 1 billion pages read,  160 billion words read and readers have spent 17.6 million hours of reading eBooks.

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When it comes to converting eBooks from one format to another, you have likely heard of Calibre. It remains one of the most popular tools out there, and is deeply expansive. In the past, they have catered exclusively to users, but now that Sigil is not actively developed anymore, they are trying to appeal towards creators.

Calibre 2.0 is now available and the eBook Creator package that debuted last year has undergone a severe revisement. One of the most compelling is the spell check system, which now allows for the manual importing of dictionaries. It also has newfound support to extrapolate PDF metadata  and the ability to click on any HTML/OPF/NCX tag name or CSS property and the editor will open some help for that item in your browser.

Many users are attracted to Calibre for a number of reasons. Some want to simply make eBooks out of popular websites, and read them on their ereader or tablet. Others download 3rd party plugins to strip the DRM off of purchased content.

Calibre has a very clunky and unintuitive interface and may alienate the average user. It has very extensive options to edit meta data or to optimize an eBook for a specific device, such as a Kindle, Kobo or Nook. It is a little known tool in the hardcore e-reading world, but lead developer Kovid Goyle hopes that indie authors and small publishing companies will take a second look at it.

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The Dutch eBook market has seen excellent growth in the last two years and recent Q2 financial figures from the publishing industry has seen it increase by 18%. We now see eBooks accounting for 26% of all sales, but print books are still strong with 74%.

The Netherlands has a different dichotomy than North America in regards to the way encryption is handled. Only 1 eBook in 50 has the standard DRM, with the vast majority relying on digital watermarks. In North America, the trends are basically reversed with publishers exclusively relying on DRM to safegurd against piracy.

Ditch publishers are certainly seeing eBooks as being viable, despite the fact they only account for 4.7% of book sales. In the first half of 2013, the Dutch eBook market had three million titles digitized and at the midpoint of 2014 there are over five million.

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