Archive for E-Book News
The UK Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has shut down a pirate eBook website called OnRead. This service provided over two million eBooks and bestsellers for a monthly fee. OnRead is claiming innocence, even though their entire domain has been seized by authorities.
OnRead made a name for themselves by providing an illicit Neflix for eBooks concept. Their low monthly fee attracted many e-reader, smartphone and tablet owners looking to get around paying anywhere between $9.99 to $29.99 for the eBook.
One of the alarming indications about how this site operated without publisher sanction was their terms of service. It stated “all materials presented on this site are available for the distribution over the Internet in accordance with the license of the Russian Organization for multimedia and Digital Systems (ROMS) and intended for personal use only. Further distribution, resale or broadcasting is strictly prohibited,” the recent archive reads.
ROMS is a Russian collective rights management organization that was originally founded in 2010, but the authors guild. It is ironic that this organization basically turned into a puppet for audio, video and eBook pirates to safeguard themselves by saying any content may not be resold and is only for private use.
eBook piracy is becoming a large concern for many nations and their publishers. According to research by Dutch firm GfK, only 10% of all eBooks on devices were actually paid for, with most of the digital books being pirated. Meanwhile a survey conducted by Book Industry Study Group fond that during the Spring 2013 semester, 34% of college students in the United States illegally downloaded course materials from unauthorized websites. In 2010, the percentage of textbook piracy 20%. According to figures published by Russia: Beyond the Headlines, 70% of Russians read eBooks, nearly a quarter more than the number who did a year ago. Yet 92% of those readers download their books from pirate websites. eBook piracy resulted in €350 million ($467.1 million) in lost revenue for the €3 billion Spanish publishing industry in 2012.
Some publishers are seeking to combat piracy, such as HarperCollins. Recently, they announced the advent of digital watermarks to work in conjunction with standard Adobe DRM. It is quite easy to remove standard eBook encryption, but is quite difficult with the watermark. This serves as a deterrent for anti-piracy agencies that scan the internet for books posted on file sharing, pirate and torrent sites and serves them cease and desist letters.
Cory Doctorow said in a recent interview with Good e-Reader “Saying piracy is not acceptable is like saying gravity makes my back hurt. There is a difference between a problem and a fact. You can say that the Earth is only 5,000 years old, but if you want to make money in the oil industry you have to dig where the Earth would be four billion years old.” The problem-versus-fact scenario that Doctorow refers to is one that he feels is being fostered by people who see a difference in readership and sales.
“You can very firmly believe that it’s incredibly bad for people to pirate things, but there’s no future in which the internet makes it harder to copy. There’s no articulatable theory of reducing piracy on the internet that doesn’t come from someone trying to sell you something. What I say when people claim that piracy is unacceptable is, ‘Well, what do you plan to do about it?’ You end up diverting a huge amount of money into alienating people.”
The entire modern generation of internet users feel entitled to everything and have no moral qualms about what they do. From various interviews and research we have conducted over the years, there are three main reasons why people pirate. The first reason is the type of person that grows up pirating content and has absolutely no moral qualms about doing so. The second is people who have a lack of a stable income or fixed income and still wants to satiate their literary thirst. Third, in the eBook realms people tend to pirate books they cannot get locally due to geographical restrictions or the lack of an official copy (such as Harry Potter).
When users buy into the whole OnRead system of eBooks, they know what they are getting involved in. The website may be shut down, but the users paying the monthly fees, will simply find another site to fill the void.
Visually impaired people have a very hard time when it comes to reading and interacting with the written word around them. A new app developed by the National Federation of the Blind and Ray Kurzweil, a well-known artificial-intelligence scientist and senior Google employee is seeking to remedy this problem.
Taking advantage of new pattern recognition and image processing technology, the app allows users to adjust or tilt the camera, and reads printed materials out loud. One feature I really liked was the ability to take pictures of menus, signs or small serial numbers and convert it to text. This text can then be blown up using really large fonts to assist people with moderate visual problems. People with refreshable Braille displays can now snap pictures of print documents and display them in Braille near-instantaneously, said NFB spokesman Chris Danielsen.
Some early adopters like Mark Feliz said “I just finished sorting today’s mail. What a great feeling I have to be able to accomplish this seemingly trivial task. I didn’t have to interrupt my son or daughter, I didn’t have to wait for a pair of eyes, and my wife does not have to spend time sorting. [...] As my students would say, ‘The K-NFB Reader rocks!” Another user, Gordon Luke, tweeted that he was able to use the app to read his polling card for the Scottish Referendum.
The KNFB Reader app was designed for the Apple iPhone and an Android version is currently in the works.
The Summer months have officially drawn to a close and Fall is now upon us. There has been plenty of excellent fiction and non-fiction titles that kept us all busy at the cottage, beach or just curled up on the couch. Today, I take a look at the top five eBooks that riveted me the most. In the video below, I cover the entire list and give you my prospective on each one.
Amazon is one of those companies that never divulges specific dollar amounts or how many eBooks they have sold. During the holiday season last year they strayed from the normal PR blackouts and proclaimed that tens of millions of members were members of Prime. This got annalists salivating, and we now have potential figures that give us an accurate portrayal of Amazon Primes worldwide numbers.
RBC Capital conducted a research note yesterday and Mark Mahaney said RBC is now estimating that 30 million and 40 million in the U.S. and 40 million to 50 million globally are members of Amazon Prime. Most of this data comes from a new survey that RBC conducted from 4,000 Amazon customers and found that 37% were current Prime members.
According to a recent survey by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners The Amazon Prime has become a significant drivers of Amazon sales, even in light of the recent Amazon Prime price increase from $79 to $99. That means by 2016, the $20 price bump could generate incremental revenue of as much as $1.7 billion. “Prime members spend twice as much, as the rest of Amazon’s customers,” said CIRP co-founder Mike Levin.
Barnes and Noble has just removed the ability to download eBooks that you have bought from the online Nook Store. They did this so users could not download purchased content locally on their PC and either strip it of the encryption or use a 3rd party reading app.
The Barnes and Noble customer care division has sent out a tweet, letting people know that this is their new policy and not a bug. “The ability to sideload NOOK purchased content has been discontinued. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”
If you own a Nook e-reader or tablet, you will continue to enjoy purchasing and reading books right on your device. Ditto for people who use the official Nook app for Windows, Android or iOS. This issue mainly affects people who use an internet web-browser and accesses their Nook Library. In the past, a download option would appear, but now this has been removed.
There are some rare cases where select eBook titles still have the download button, but include the text “We’re working on making this title available on NOOK for Web. In the meantime, read it on our free NOOK Reading Apps.” I also confirmed that graphic novels still have the download button, because they are currently incompatible with the Nook for Web HTML5 based e-reading app.
The elimination of downloading titles to your PC will mainly effect the “power users” that tend to use 3rd party e-reading apps for their mobile devices or strip the DRM completely and bypass Nook security.
Barnes and Noble is currently in the process of totally revising their website for purchasing content and also the way Nook books are presented. In early 2015 it will be formally unveiled and likely this change to downloading content is likely a precursor to reading everything exclusively online.
Amazon has updated their Kindle e-reading app for iOS and added a ton of new features to take advantage of the new iOS 8 that was released yesterday. It makes reading multiple books easier with the handy Kindle Today Widget. Customers also get the ability to copy passages from their books and paste them into text messages, e-mail, and other applications on iOS outside of Kindle. Readers who encounter words or phrases in other languages can quickly comprehend the author’s meaning with a convenient translation feature.
Kindle Today Widget (iOS 8 only) – Multi-book readers can now surf between books from anywhere on the device by pulling down the ‘Today’ view and tapping on one of the three titles in the Kindle Widget. They can choose from their most recently opened library titles, like the ‘jump’ function on a TV remote.
Copy & Paste – Customers asked and we listened. Version 4.5 includes the ability to copy passages from your books and add them to the iOS clipboard for pasting into a text message, e-mail, social media, or other iOS applications outside of Kindle.
Smart Lookup Translation Card – Authors often include phrases in other languages to add depth or meaning to a story. Readers can now get a full understanding by selecting the word or phrase and viewing the translation card.
iOS 8 support, bug fixes, and stability improvements.
The summer season is winding down and many people are wondering about the next great read. You might want to check out the offerings from twelve Canadian writers, who are all contending for the the richest fiction prize in Canada – the $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
These authors are vying for the grand prize of $100,000, up from $50,000, and the remaining finalists will receive $10,000, up from $5,000. It is certainly not all about the money though, if you are looking for a new eBook, one of these might fit the bill.
Waiting for the Man by Arjun Basu (ECW Press)
The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis (HarperCollins Canada)
American Innovations by Rivka Galchen (HarperCollins Canada)
Tell by Frances Itani (HarperCollins Canada)
Watch How We Walk by Jennifer LoveGrove (ECW Press)
Us Conductors by Sean Michaels (Random House Canada)
Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab by Shani Mootoo (Doubleday Canada)
The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill (HarperCollins Canada) ·
Paradise and Elsewhere by Kathy Page (John Metcalf Books/Biblioasis)
My October by Claire Holden Rothman (Penguin Canada)
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada)
The Ever After of Ashwin Rao by Padma Viswanathan (Random House Canada)
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.”
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.
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.
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.