Archive for E-Book News
Txtr is based in Berlin Germany and has been in the e-reader and e-book business for quite sometime. Sadly, their entire business model is not viable and they have officially gone bankrupt.
Txtr originally burst onto the international scene in 2008 with plans to capitalize on the e-reader boom. Production and design issues led to their first device never being released. The company flipped gears in 2009 and started doing development for online digital publishers and traditional book sellers. In 2010 and 2011 they quickly became one of the largest companies outside North America developing whitelabel e-book ecosystems. The company’s portfolio includes clients such as Vol Retail and Weltbilde, who is the largest EU book retailer.
Txtr got a much needed injection of funds in 2011 when 3M wanted to get involved in the digital library space. The 3M relationship with Txtr goes beyond the obvious financial benefits of being a partner with a large multinational conglomerate, whose presence is felt in many different technology sectors. When Txtr secured the initial funding from 3M they had toured the company’s headquarters in Minnesota and were blown away by how the research and development aspects of the company was handled.
Txtr and 3M worked together very early on developing the 3M Cloud Library App and e-reader solution for libraries to loan out to their patrons. The relationship between these two companies really helped 3M quickly become a major player in the industry, giving Overdrive and Baker & Taylor a run for their money. Two years ago 3M suspended their relationship with Txtr and started doing all of their app development in-house.
In early 2013 Txtr bet the farm on the Beagle, a low cost e-reader that was designed to pair via Bluetooth to your smartphone and send content directly to your device. The intention behind this product was to forge a relationship with Telecom companies and offer the Beagle for free, as part of an incentive program to sell more smartphones and give users a reason to upgrade. Txtr could not secure any meaningful partners and tried to sell it themselves. Users did not embrace this five inch reader and this was one of the final nails in the coffin for them.
The founders of Txtr formed a new e-book start-up called Blloon that is being marketed via a series of apps in the United Kingdom. Customers purchase credits to read a certain amount of pages in a book, rather than buy the book themselves. Blloon has a number of publishing partners such as HMH, Open Road Media, Allen & Unwin, Diversion Books, Lonely Planet, Profile, RosettaBooks, Faber Factory, Guardian Books, and Workman Publishing.
Selling e-books directly to customers and developing whitelabel solutions for other companies is not a viable way to stay in business anymore. Not only has Txtr gone bankrupt but UK supermarket chain Tesco has just announced they are also shuttering their online bookstore.
The entire notion of Netflix for e-Books has caught on in a big. A few years ago many publishers were resistant to the entire idea and gradually they have all come around. Oyster is one of the leaders in the field of e-book subscription services, where users pay a low monthly fee and get access to thousands of digital books they can read at their leisure. Today, the company is proud to announce that they have reached an agreement with JK Rowling, to have the entire Harry Potter saga available.
For the longest time Rowling was heavily resistant to the idea of digitizing her titles. The main problem was control, she did not want an established publishing company to take a percentage of each sale and wanted to market the books herself. This led to the creation of Pottermore, the only place online where you can buy the digital editions of every Harry Potter book ever written. One of the things that drove its success was that every title was DRM-Free. This allowed readers to easily transfer them to their smartphones, tablets or e-readers and not have to use 3rd party tools or utilities. The Pottermore initiative was spearheaded by Charlie Redmayne and his efforts were such a resounding success that he was soon tapped to be the next CEO of Harper Collins UK.
When Oyster launched in 2013 one of their top ten searches every single month were the Harry Potter books, now the wait is over. All seven main Harry Potter ebooks and three Hogwarts Library eBooks are now available.
Oyster’s Reader Themes will be replaced by “House Themes,” with designs inspired by Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, and readers can tap the Sorting Hat icon to have one chosen at random. The Oyster Review will also be dedicated to Harry Potter from Jan. 28 – 30, featuring unique editorial content celebrating the series, commissioned and authored by Oyster.
Many people skip a generation before buying the latest and greatest Apple product. The S line of smartphones tends to get lost in the shuffle between major updates in technology. With the advent of the iPhone 6 Plus, the question is, is it good for e-reading? Today, we look at the iPhone 5 and 6 Plus and put them side by side showing the exact same content. This should give you an indication on how both devices handle manga, comics and e-Books. If reading is important to you and you tend to be invested in the whole Apple ecosystem, you don’t want to miss this!
Many publishers often think their current Digital Rights Management solutions are enough to combat e-book piracy. This is why the vast majority end up using Digital Watermarks or Adobe DRM in order to make it hard to upload material you have purchased to file sharing websites. Rightscorp, likely the biggest anti-piracy player in movies, music and television shows told Good e-Reader that “we estimate that there were 500 million e-Books distributed in the United States on peer-to-peer networks in 2013 and this will grow to 700 million by 2018.”
Rightscorp has developed digital loss prevention technology that tracks copyright infringement and ensures that owners and creators are rightfully paid for their IP. They developed extensive tracking analytics that allows them to see what content is being distributed through Bittorrent and file sharing sites and then goes after the people involved. In April 2014 they made the company decision to market their services to the publishing industry and actively go after eBook pirates.
Business is booming for Rightscorp right now. The company has just announced that it has closed over 170,000 cases of copyright infringement to date, up 40,000 since November 2014, representing an approximate 30% growth within a 2 month period. They have received settlement payments from subscribers of more than 200 ISPs and has approval to collect on over 1.5 million copyrights.
We are firing on all cylinders and have been able to consistently generate growth on many of our operational metrics,” said Christopher Sabec, CEO of Rightscorp. “The latest count includes more than 1,000 cases closed on the Comcast and Google Fiber networks, which control the largest markets in the U.S. It seems clear that the entire industry is now beginning to recognize our solution as the most effective in preserving the rights of copyright holders – artists and content owners. We will continue to work hard to protect those who create and own intellectual property.”
Overall, the publishing industry is not really concerned with eBook piracy. Many of the top companies such as HarperCollins, Hachette, S&S and Penguin have told me that piracy is a minor blip on the radar and does not hamper sales to any discernible degree. They all admit it is an extreme minority of tech savvy individuals and statistically people who pirate eBooks tend to be the biggest purchasers of digital content. There has even been some notable authors such as Tim Ferris that harnessed the power of Bitorrent to promote his book, the 4 Hour Chef. He recently said “Torrent conversion is NUTS. Of 210,000 downloads earlier this week, more than 85,000 clicked through “Support the Author” to the book’s Amazon page. We all had to triple and quadruple check that to believe it.
Sales of eBooks reached $3 billion at the end of 2012, up from $68 million in 2008 according to a recent article posted onYahoo! Finance. The article also cited that Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, said that “Kindle owners buy more books now than they did before they owned an e-Reader”. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates “consumer eBooks will drive $8.2 billion in sales by 2017, surpassing projected print book sales, which it thinks will shrink by more than half during that period.”
Rightscorp has not seen the traction in the e-Book space as they have with other media. The company has told me that “While Rightscorp has closed some cases with e-Books, we do not yet have large catalogs of e-Books like we have with movies, television and music.”
This goes to show that publishers believe in the power of DRM to such a large degree that they don’t really care to go after e-book pirates at this stage in the game. They are more concerned with Amazon having too much power in e-book sales and distribution and trying to find alternative avenues to generate revenue, such as e-Book subscription websites like Scribd and Oyster.