E-Book News

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In some ways, the current state of digital publishing is even more mysterious to indie writers than when the doors first opened on publishing a handful of years ago. With so many more options than the first wave of publishing revolution, even seasoned, published authors may find some of the new options and features a little daunting.

Two of the many reliable, on-going sources of information will be staging their monthly online events today with topics aimed at furthering the careers and success of self-published authors.

The first is the Alliance of Independent Authors’ monthly “Ask ALLi” roundtable with guest experts Joanna Penn and Orna Ross. Penn, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author who was named one of The Guardian UK Top 100 Creative Professionals in 2013, will share insights into the current state of self-publishing with author, ALLi director, and sought-after industry expert Orna Ross. Together the pair will take questions and offer tips and solutions.

Later tonight, the weekly Bibliocrunch Twitter chat #IndieChat will take place at its usual time, only this week’s guest is far from usual. One of the top issues that continues to plague indie authors isn’t in the writing, editing, or publishing side of the business, but in the marketing and promotion aspect. Tonight’s #IndieChat guest is Shari Stauch, founder of Where Writers Win, a company dedicated to working with authors with a spectrum of budgetary allowances to offer every type of promotion service, from outright media campaigns to simply building their websites.

Participation in both events is free and simple. For the ALLi event, simply sign in to join the Google Hangout by following THIS LINK. The event kicks off at 11am ET/4pm GMT. For the #IndieChat hosted by Bibliocrunch, simply sign into your Twitter account and follow the hashtag at 9pm ET. Remember to include the hashtag in your tweets to join in the conversation.

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Tesco has announced their intentions to close their digital e-Book platform at the end of February. The supermarket chain had been in covert negotiations with Waterstones, but the two sides could not agree on a purchase price.

A spokesperson for Tesco said: “We have taken the decision to close our e-book service blinkbox Books. We’ve learnt a lot since launching the service and whilst we saw encouraging levels of take up, we believe that we can do more for our customers by focusing on our core business. The service will close by the end of February.” The spokesperson added: “Our focus now is on the colleagues affected and our customers.”

Tesco had been operating their online bookstore since March 2014. They tried to promote their new business unit to their established base of shoppers, leveraging their loyalty cards to get discounts. Not only could customers buy e-books on their website, which included a book blog, but also via their dedicated Android app. This app was available via Google Play, but also came pre-loaded on the Hudl line of budget tablets.

Ultimately the customer will be the one to suffer from blinkbox books shutting down. The app locked content will be unable to be backed up properly and read on any other device. Tesco has not publicly divulged if they will continue to support the app for the foreseeable future or whether they will close it entirely, leaving thousands of customers unable to read their purchased content.

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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!


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When the digital revolution kicked off, it sparked a wave–for better or for worse, depending on which supporter or critic you ask–of self-publishing opportunities that many were quick to take advantage of. But there were key groups who were left out at first, namely children’s book authors, graphic novelists, photo array creators, and similar content developers. But thanks to companies like Blurb, Draft2Digital, Story2Go, and many more, there are now opportunities for a wide variety of publishing types.

This has led to an increase in interest in private self-publishing, or a model of publishing in which an individual simply wants to have a professional-looking print or digital edition of a book that will not be listed for major sale. While outlets like CreateSpace function to list a professional-grade print copy on Amazon’s retail website, others like the addition of print services from Nook Press simply make print-on-demand copies available for the author to purchase.

A recent article for Economic Times highlighted the need for cookbooks to have a publishing process, as more and more people are sharing their old family recipes within their group of relatives, and are looking for a professional option. While church cookbooks in particular have long been a fundraising option, the results were often shoddy plastic spiral bindings between two pieces of card stock, while the books themselves had to be ordered in minimum shipments of bulk that the organizations then had to turn around and sell at an astounding price, just to make a return.

With print-on-demand, though, not only is the option available for single-purchase at much lower prices, the option to list the book on sites like Amazon is still there if organizations choose to direct their customers to the retailer and make their royalty that way. Of course, they are also free (and encouraged, even) to order their own copies at a significant savings and sell them at events as impulse purchases.

In the case on the family cookbook featured in Economic Times, the book actually went on to be picked up by HarperCollins India, given that it was a large collection of regional favorites and nothing else like it was available at the time. The publisher has gone on to actively seek out other cookbooks for the same reason.

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One of the early adoption markets for tablet use, K12 digital textbooks, and a thriving e-commerce site to offer ebooks was India, but recent reports have shown somewhat stagnant responses, which experts have attributed to a lack of reliable wifi and internet connectivity throughout the country, as well as concerns about posting credit card information on unreliable digital infrastructure. But a new multi-billion dollar initiative from the Indian government in conjunction with a major telecom provider may change all that with the institution of free wifi in 2,500 cities across the country.

The Digital India project will create some 50,000 to 60,000 hotspots in various cities, and offer citizens data plans through telecom-provider BSNL. These data plans, which will function in much the same way that consumers currently subscribe to data plans, will offer the free data packages, with the option to purchase additional data each month after the free threshold has been reached.

According to an outline of the project, the goals include:

  • Broadband highways to connect all villages and cities of India
  • Everywhere mobile connectivity; wherein mobile coverage will be provided to every nook and corner of India
  • Public Internet Access Program wherein internet accessibility to the web will be provided at subsidized rates (example public WiFis)
  • eGovernance in every government department, wherein 100% paper-less environment will be encouraged
  • e-Kranti, wherein government services would be electronically delivered
    Information for All policy (which includes provisioning of Right to Information using the Internet as a medium)
  • Electronics manufacturing
  • IT for Jobs
  • Early harvest program

How does this affect the publishing industry? Nearly all sectors of publishing have seen lagging adoption–slower than predicted, at least–due to concerns of connectivity. While educational initiatives have put devices in place, retail websites like Flipkart and Amazon India have introduced easy ebook purchasing, and even major self-publishers have brought the platform to authors in India, the lack of internet connection has been blamed for disappointing results in publishing.

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The digital revolution and its subsequent self-publishing hey day have perhaps sparked more change in literature and publishing than any event since Gutenberg started tinkering, but for all of the great talk of “equalizing” and breaking down barriers, what industry watchers were really referring to was text-based novels. A number of demographics in the publishing business were left out, such as comic book creators, graphic novelists, children’s book authors, and more.

But as startups began to recognize the self-publishing and digital platform spheres were overloaded with options for authors, a few other companies began quietly meeting the needs that other companies had overlooked. One such market was the image-heavy ebook space, where books had to be converted into apps for consumption in various operating system-specific app stores rather than sold through e-reading sites like Amazon or B&N.

Story2Go, first interviewed by Good e-Reader at Frankfurt Book Fair in 2013, launched at the time with an inexpensive iOS app that allowed authors and creators to essentially build their ebooks with simple drag-and-drop and uploading features, then rely on the bigger guns to actually distribute the book to a variety of app stores. While the process of creating the file isn’t entirely intuitive–this is no “Children’s eBooks for Dummies” level of process–there are clear-cut instructions at each step of the way to help authors along.

For a limited time, the Story2Go app is free in the Apple App Store, and despite the time that the company has producing and distributing books on behalf of authors, the price to distribute is still only a one-time $99 fee for the first platform, and $149 for multiple app stores.

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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.

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Amazon launched their Japanese e-Book store in 2012  and in order to read e-books,  manga or comic books you basically needed to use the dedicated Kindle app for Android or iOS.  Now users have another option, Kindle for PC has officially launched in Japan.

The premise of Kindle for PC is to keep your content synchronized across multiple devices. It also allows for a ton of versatility for Japanese text and displays anything you would buy from the Amazon digital bookstore.  All of your purchases will be able to be viewed in both landscape and portrait mode.  Customization options include changing the background color, font size, font type and access the dictionary.

Amazon launched the Kindle Cloud Reader in Japan last September, this is their online based HTML5 e-reading app. It was fairly limiting, because it was relegated to only reading novels, not magazines, newspapers or manga.

The debut of Kindle for PC comes at an opportune time for Amazon. Earlier in the month the company launched Kindle Free Manga Magazine. This is a platform that has a revolving pool of single issues and magazines, all available for free.  The initial lineup includes the recent issue of Shueisha’s Grand Jump magazine, as well as Manga Action, Comic Ran Twins, Comic Zero-Sum, Manga Box service, and Square Enix’s Hobo Gekkan Otameshi Gangan.

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Once you secure your position as the ultimate player in self-publishing, where do you go from there? The textbook self-publishing market. Amazon has released the specifics on its new textbook creator app, Kindle Textbook Creator, and while it doesn’t look like it has much to offer in the way of never-before-seen innovation, it does bring the benefits of self-publishing to those who have something great to share in terms of academia.

Just as Khan Academy and the advent of online video uploads brought a whole new realm of instruction to the internet and classrooms alike, the ability to build, sell, and market something that looks like a textbook but behaves like any other title in the Amazon Kindle store–except for the very obvious difference, you can’t read it on a Kindle–renews the coup of self-publishing for a whole new demographic of content creators.

According to an article by Darrell Etherington for TechCrunch, “Kindle Textbook Creator seems designed for speed, and for working with the legacy textbook publishing industry, as opposed to iBooks Author which is more designed to help educators build digital-native experiences from scratch. Books built with Amazon’s new tool offer multi-color highlighting for students, as well as built-in notebooks, flashcards for review, dictionaries, and of course multi-platform support, in addition to translating the PDF version of their document into something that works on any reader.”

Currently in a rudimentary format, Amazon has already stated new features will be rolled out as they become available. What also remains to be seen is how the possibility for professional academic publishing can evolve with a tool like this one, considering the intense pressure some universities place on their faculty to publish. As self-published fiction authors have discovered, what may be lost in prestige can be more than made up for in dollars.

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Any time a library can report an increase in circulation, patron engagement, offered services, and catalog content, it’s a cause for celebration. Libraries as vital parts of healthy communities are in a constant state of defense, so growth in the sector is good to hear. But when the libraries in question are school libraries who cater to the needs of emerging readers (and future voters who will determine the strength of public libraries down the road), it’s even better.

OverDrive, one of the world’s leading providers of digital content to public and academic libraries, released news yesterday of record growth of its ebook catalog.

“As of January 1, 2015, nearly 12,000 schools and districts have incorporated the OverDrive service into their curriculum and library plans, a 50% increase over the same time last year. OverDrive now works with K-12 partners in 38 countries, with 10 countries added to their global network in 2014.”

eBook adoption in school libraries stands to result in a significant savings for both public and private centers’ budgets, given the typically lower cost of titles and the elimination of damaged copies. One of the chief complaints in school adoption of digital titles, though, has been lack of content from publishers, a factor that OverDrive has worked hard to eliminate.

“OverDrive’s school eBook catalog has also reached record size, with 24% growth over the last year, adding more than 100,000 new titles and bringing the total digital catalog available to schools to more than 2 million titles. Audiobook availability has increased 15%, with more than 5,500 new titles available to school partners through OverDrive…In addition, the 2014 acquisition of Teacher’s Notebook has given K-12 partners access to teacher-created curriculum materials from more than 500,000 educators.

One of the most exciting parts of the announcement is the seamless incorporation of audio narration with digital titles, a factor that has been proven to increase not only comprehension and reading levels in students who utilize it, but also to play a key role in fostering reading self-selected texts for pleasure.

“In 2014, OverDrive also introduced Narrated eBooks, a feature that provides a single eBook file synchronized with audio. Publishers supplied hundreds of popular children’s titles in this new format, which are now available for schools and libraries.”

With a 234% increase in new visitors to the OverDrive site (over 2 million year-over-year), and 6.26 million visits to the school digital content website in 2014 alone (an increase of 276% over the previous year), K12 academic libraries are finally making solid headway into digital adoption.

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The dream of an used e-Book site may be over. A Dutch Court of Appeals has ruled that Tom Kabinet must shut down within three days or pay a daily fine of €1,000.

Tom Kabinet is a Netherlands based used e-Book website that was first established during the summer of 2014. Their launch immediately put them at odds with the Dutch Publishing Association. The publishers believe Tom Kabinet infringes on copyrights. Research suggests 90% of all eBooks that are listed on the site are pirated and that criminals are reselling books they download from torrent websites.

The core business model of the company is facilitating the sale of e-books that users post on their website.  They don’t actually host the actual book, but digitally watermark each title to prevent reselling of the same copy over and over.  When a book is sold, Kabinet takes a small commission for their role in the transaction.

Things initially looked to be going in favor of the Netherlands e-Book service in July when the court decided that that Tom Kabinet can stay open for business during the court case.  The main argument that was employed was the Oracle and Usedsoft  case that was decided in Germany some months sooner.

“Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy – tangible or intangible – and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a license agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that right-holder sells the copy to the customer and thus exhausts his exclusive distribution right. Such a transaction involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy. Therefore, even if the license agreement prohibits a further transfer, the right-holder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy. He can therefore download onto his computer the copy sold to him by the first acquirer. Such a download must be regarded as a reproduction of digital product that is necessary to enable the new acquirer to use the program in accordance with its intended purpose.”

The entire saga between Tom Kabinet and the Dutch Publishers Association was supposed to be all wrapped  up on December 23rd, but due to the Christmas holidays, the judgement was postponed until just this week.

Where does this leave Tom Kabinet now? Well, it is tricky. The Dutch Court ruled that they have to close up shop within three days or pay a hefty fine. They also said the business model appeared to be legal in principle.

When many other companies would have simply closed up shop, TC is continuing to fight. They are trying to purge all of the questionable books from their site in a bid to be legitimized, but it might be far too late that now. In the courts and publishers eyes they are a pirate site that is leveraging a court case as their sole argument and it failed.  It looks like the dream of a legitimate used e-book site might be over, for now.

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James Patterson has a new book coming out soon, Private Vegas and 1,000 fans will be given a free code to download it for free in the next five days. The catch? Users have 24 hours to read the new title before it self-destructs, disappearing forever.

The 1,000 free e-Book titles will be distributed through a new iPad app and has a 24 hour timer when you open it for the first time.  The book’s website shows which readers are currently devouring the book, how far along they are, how much time is left, and the speed at which they are reading.  There is also a cool map that shows people around you that are also have the digital book.

“I’ve been in the business of thrilling people for almost 40 years,” said Patterson in a press statement. “So much has changed and I want to make sure I keep my readers on the edge of their seat. Faced with imminent destruction, the act of reading against a clock allows fans to become a character in their own thriller.”

The book shows up in shops on January 28th, so these free e-books is the only way you can read it before its released to the general public. If you are feeling financially flush, maybe you just sold your company, there is a real self-destructing book you can buy for $300,000.

If you pay the $300,000 you will receive a first class flight to an undisclosed location. Two nights stay in a luxurious boutique hotel and a well-trained bomb squad to handle the self-destructing book. Users can read the book through a pair of solid gold binoculars and then watch the book blow up in spectacular fashion. Once this is all over, you will get to meet James Patterson for a five course dinner and get a ton of autographed books. This an entire experience should make for a good tale to regale your friends with the next time you get asked “so what did you do this weekend?”

Categories : Bookselling, E-Book News
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The Harry Potter saga comprises of seven novels by British author J.K. Rowling.  Many kids grew up reading  these books in their youth and a soft spot remains for all things Potter.

Do you ever wonder if J.K had any idea about Dumbledore’s Army or horcruxes when she wrote the Sorcerer’s Stone?  She planned ahead more then you think. A recent manual spreadsheet has just surfaced, giving us all an introspective on how a novel is constructed.

This spreadsheet was the main story arc for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. She keeps track of all the book’s subplots in every chapter and how they are developing in the real world of the book, even if they aren’t mentioned on the page. So, there’s a full column on “The Prophecy” which is the main subplot Harry is worried about throughout the book. Then there’s a column for the romantic subplot, titled “Cho/Ginny” followed by “D.A.” which follows what’s going on with Harry, Ron and Hermione’s resistance group “Dumbledore’s Army,” one called “O of P,” a column about what’s the latest with the “Order of the Phoenix,” a.k.a, the people who believe Voldemort is still alive, then separate columns for Snape and the Hagrid and Grawp story.

I think this hand drawn plot outline really shows us that a riveting and complex story doesn’t have to be totally over thought. A one page document that outlines all of the key events is basically all you need to construct a story.

Categories : Bookselling, E-Book News
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