E-Book News - Part 2

Archive for E-Book News


Russia boasts a rich literary culture, but is also besmirched with digital piracy of an unprecedented scale; that translates to substantially less cash inflow to the publishers who are on the fence about investing in eBooks. This might change, due to Russian startup Bookmate releasing new apps for Android and iOS that promotes the whole Netflix for eBooks concept.

James Appell, head of global development at Bookmate said that his company used to focus primarily on Russia, Turkey, Nigeria, Pakistan, India and the Philippines. The company has since expanded their portfolio and is now offering English titles to the UK, US and Canada.

The app’s features include a social feed, which allows users to follow their friends, favorite authors and celebrities who are also on Bookmate, and share the books they love and passages via  Russian social network VKontakte, Twitter and Facebook. It also allows you to upload  your own eBooks in EPUB or PDF format directly to your library and use the app just to read your content.

There are currently 500,000 titles on the Bookmate subscription service and they boast a loyal user base of 1.5 million. It costs a paltry $5.00 a month to opt into Bookmate, which is why they have grown and expanded so quickly.

Download Bookmate for Android from the Good e-Reader App Store.

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kindle first

Kindle First has just launched in the United Kingdom and this Amazon program gives bookworms the ability to read eBooks before they are formally released.

Every month the Amazon Publishing editors will select four books, letting you pick the one you want to read before its official release date. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account you will still be able to select one of the featured books each month, and you’ll be able to buy it for just £0.99.

The eBooks in this program can be read on your Kindle e-Reader or any device that has the Kindle app installed, such as a tablet or smartphone. The books available this month cover a wide array of genres, such as Thriller, Mystery, Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction.  The eBooks available for October are;   The Cradle by Louise Voss and Mark Edwards, The Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning, The Fallow Season of Hugo Hunter by Craig Lancaster and My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni.

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BookShout is getting a solid reputation in the publishing industry by delivering eBooks in bulk. The eBooks are redeemed by by using their official app for Android or iOS and many television stations are using the allure of eBooks as an incentive to people during telethons.  Today, the company has announced  that they have distributed 9.4M ebook codes in the past 12 months, and expects to double that number by early 2015.

With more than 3,000 bulk ebook orders placed by major corporations and universities, BookShout! has experienced accelerated growth as more and more organizations request mass quantities of ebook for events, corporate rewards, and client retention. BookShout! has served Microsoft, Intel, CareerBuilder, Lockheed Martin, Marriott, and Teach for America to name a few.

BookShout! works with more than 2,000 publishing partners worldwide, including HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan, Perseus Books Group, Simon & Schuster and Workman Publishing—as well as corporations throughout the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

Authors are also getting in on the action by taking eBook cards and text-to-buy campaigns to their speaking events and live online chats. Campaigns may even be set up to allow all attendees of an event to buy the book individually at a pre-set price determined by the publisher.

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Indie Authors have their hands full with crafting a novel with the intention of selling it on Amazon. Not only do they have to research and write the book, but also have to play the role of editor. Poorly edited books can be the kiss of death and this has prompted a new start-up Advance Editions, to “make good books better” by drawing on the wisdom, knowledge and proofreading skills of readers around the world.

Here’s how it works: Advance Editions posts half of the edited book online a few months ahead of publication and then opens up a feedback forum for that book in which the author participates.  Users can check facts or simply contribute some bright ideas and in exchange they are rewarded with being credited in the book. For crowd-editors who get beyond the first half of the book and want to take on more, they are offered a 60% discount of the complete book at a number of online retailers.

Many authors are not only having their books edited, but people are weighing in on fact checking as well.  is looking to hear from”spies, experts on drug reform, from residents of Brasilia, from anyone who knows the interior layout of Brazil’s Palácio do Planalto or SIS’s Vauxhall Cross headquarters. My characters come from all over the world – have I got their speech patterns right? If you’re into rock climbing, or handy with a motorcycle or a weapon, you’ll have a lot to contribute. You may have served with the French Foreign Legion, treated gunshot wounds, lived in Cyprus or worked as a physiotherapist – all relevant experiences. Or perhaps you just know what works in a story and what doesn’t, and you have an instinct for what could make this one better.”

Another book available on the site is Heidi Kingstone’s non-fictional account of her time in Afghanistan entitled, Dispatches from the Kabul Café. Kingstone is looking for contributions from those with particular expertise in Afghanistan and Kabul, the NATO invasion of Afghanistan, Afghan culture and language, soldiers and mercenaries and aid workers and advisers. Macdonald, meanwhile, is looking for insights into intelligence services, drug reform, Brasilia, motorbikes, weapons, climbing and Canadian speech.”

I think this new crowdsourced editing and contribution platform is totally valid and they really may be onto something. The trick, is how do you convince the type of people that these authots are looking for to join the platform? It might be an easy sell to students looking for a career in the publishing industry and having accredited works under their belts to help them land that first job.


William Gibson will be releasing a new eBook on October 28th 2014 and will be his first full length novel since 2010’s Zero History. Gibson has stated that it will be set in multiple futures and it is currently unknown whether this book will be apart of a trilogy.

Much of Gibson’s reputation has remained associated with Neuromancer, but his work has continued to evolve. After expanding on Neuromancer with two more novels to complete the dystopic Sprawl trilogy, Gibson became an important author of another science fiction sub-genre—steampunk—with the 1990 alternate history novel The Difference Engine, written with Bruce Sterling. In the 1990s, he composed the Bridge trilogy of novels, which focused on sociological observations of near-future urban environments and late capitalism. His most recent novels— Pattern Recognition (2003), Spook Country (2007) and Zero History (2010) —are set in a contemporary world and have put his work onto mainstream bestseller lists for the first time.

What exactly is the Peripheral all about? The synapses states “Where Flynne and her brother, Burton, live, jobs outside the drug business are rare. Fortunately, Burton has his veteran’s benefits, for neural damage he suffered from implants during his time in the USMC’s elite Haptic Recon force. Then one night Burton has to go out, but there’s a job he’s supposed to do—a job Flynne didn’t know he had. Beta-testing part of a new game, he tells her. The job seems to be simple: work a perimeter around the image of a tower building. Little buglike things turn up. He’s supposed to get in their way, edge them back. That’s all there is to it. He’s offering Flynne a good price to take over for him. What she sees, though, isn’t what Burton told her to expect. It might be a game, but it might also be murder.

Some time around the year 2020, in a trailer park in the Deep South, a young woman witnesses a murder. She is in a video game, and watches with horror as a drone strike kills a child. At precisely the same moment, one hundred years in the future, a boy is remotely killed on the streets of London’s great skyscrapers. The perpetrator remains anonymous.

Interweaving two strange futures, from a ramshackle community of US army veterans, to the teeming masses of a mega city, The Peripheral tells the story of a brave new world of drones, outsourcing and kleptocracy, and of a crime that can only be solved across time.”

I for one have already pre-ordered this book from Amazon and hopefully will be one of the great reads of 2014. Gibson, Neil Stevenson and Bruce Sterling all started their careers around the same time and really pioneered the modern science fiction genre.  Gibson’s work has influenced bands like Sonic Youth, U2 and Billy Idol.  The film The Matrix  drew inspiration for its title, characters and story elements from the Sprawl trilogy.  The characters of Neo and Trinity in The Matrix are similar to Bobby Newmark (Count Zero) and Molly (“Johnny Mnemonic.”

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Young people in the UK think that reading on paper provides a more holistic experience, especially when engaging with images and text which can’t be replicated in digital. A new report states that the 16-24 generation is still firmly in favor of print books, with 73% saying they prefer print over eBooks.

A new eye opening survey talked to 900 young people and three-quarters of the respondents said they prefer the print format and only a paltry 27% prefer e-books and 31% said they don’t buy e-books at all.

Luke Mitchell, director of Voxburner, said the research found people in the 16-24 age group think e-books are too expensive. “They told us they like to touch books and see the creases in the spine, but for bargain-driven young people the conversion to e-books will most likely be determined by price,” he said. “In our research, 70% said that £6.99 was a reasonable price to pay for a paperback but only 10% were prepared to pay the same for an e-book.”

The survey really drives home the point that there is a big disconnect between the prices of print books vs eBooks. When it comes to paperbacks, 37% of young people said they would pay £5.00-£7.00 and 35% said they would pay £3.00-£5.00. However, they are less willing to pay as much for eBooks, with 43% saying they should cost less than £3.00 and 27% saying they should cost between £3.00 and £5.00.

One of the big reasons young people are concerned with the price of eBooks is the clear lack of ownership. When you purchase the digital variant, you are merely licensing the title and it is not actually yours to keep. The printed version can be yours forever, for relatively the same price.

What devices are young people in the United Kingdom using to consume the digital versions? 39% use an e-reader such as a Kindle, 37% use reading apps on their smartphones and 36% prefer a large screen tablet device.

I think that this survey is tremendously valid, even though only 900 people answered the questions. Considering it was an online survey, it should drive home the point that young people are tremendously savvy when it comes to the digital life, but do not see a clear reason to read for pleasure on their electronic device. Online retailers like Amazon, B&N and Kobo tend to devote their marketing efforts not to teenagers or young adults, but with older readers who have the disposable income to buy a few books a month. I have yet to see a clear and decisive marketing campaign that is exclusively targeting young readers.

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eBook security is quickly becoming a contentious issue, as evident in the Barnes and Noble decision to remove the ability to backup your paid content on your PC. Kobo made headlines this week when they nixed their own proprietary KePub format from also being downloaded to a users PC. The Toronto based company is now assuring readers that this is a bug and they are hoping to remedy it soon.

Kobo CTO, Trevor Hunter, said “Kobo’s mandate of allowing people to read anytime, anywhere, on any platform remains unchanged. We are aware of the issue where a small percentage of books are not able to be backed up, and are working quickly to resolve it. We are currently working on other enhancements that will further embrace our open platform concept, which will give customers ever more options as it relates to reading and the backing up of ePub files.”

Kobo has not established a timeline when the backing up feature will be solved. But its nice to know that they are not following Barnes and Noble in eliminating backups altogether.

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Wattpad, the world’s largest community of readers and writers, has partnered with the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) to launch the event’s first Online Festival. The Online Festival will run from October 1 through October 22, before the official kickoff of the IFOA in Toronto, which runs October 23 to November 2, 2014.

As part of the Online Festival, Wattpad will feature a different IFOA author everyday and promote their works to its global community of 35 million readers and writers. Past and present IFOA authors to be featured include: Andrew Pyper, Anna Todd, Carrie Snyder, Crissy Calhoun, Cory Doctorow, Eimear McBride, Emily Lindin, Ian Hamilton, Liam Card, Margaret Atwood, Nick Cutter, Paulo Coehlo, Richard Crouse, Richard Rosenbaum, Russell Wangersky, Steve Paikin, Ted Barris, and Vincent Lam.

The official IFOA profile on Wattpad (www.wattpad.com/IFOA) will be used to promote featured Online Festival authors as well as IFOA readings, round table discussions, interviews, and performances.

“Every year the IFOA brings talented authors to Toronto. With the launch of this year’s Online Festival on Wattpad, these authors can reach and enjoy a direct connection with readers around the globe,” said Wattpad’s Head of Content, Publishing Ashleigh Gardner.

“We’re delighted to have Wattpad join us for the 35th edition of the IFOA. It’s exciting to work with partners who are exploring new ways of reaching readers and audiences,” said the IFOA’s Director Geoffrey E. Taylor.

As part of the IFOA, on October 30 at 7:30 pm, Wattpad will host a panel called: Crowds, Comments and Community: Understanding Writing in the Digital Age at the Lakeside Terrace at the Harbourfront Centre. The panel about the relationship between writers and their online communities will be moderated by Globe and Mail Books Editor Mark Medley and will include panelists: Anna Todd, Emily Gould, Emily Lindin, and Sina Queyras. http://ifoa.org/events/crowds-comments-community-understanding-writing-digital-age

Wattpad’s mobile and social storytelling experience is resonating around the world and more than 35 million people have joined the community. People are spending a whopping 9 billion minutes a month on Wattpad reading and sharing stories. To date more than 70 million uploads have been shared on Wattpad, that’s 24 hours of reading posted every single minute.

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Amazon made international headlines when it unveiled its Netflix for eBooks concept entitled Kindle Unlimited. This program allows users to pay a low monthly fee and read as many titles as they want per month, from a pool of 650,000 digital books. All of the major publishers have so far refused to contribute their titles, so the lack of bestsellers is not very appealing. At any rate, Amazon has announced today that Unlimited is now available in the UK.

Amazon.co.uk today introduced Kindle Unlimited—a new subscription service which allows customers to freely read as much as they want from over 650,000 Kindle books and listen as much as they want to thousands of Audible audiobooks, all for only £7.99 a month. Finding a great book is easy—just look for the Kindle Unlimited logo on eligible titles and click “Read for £0.00.” Customers can choose from best sellers like the Harry Potter series, The White Tiger, Hunger Games and with thousands of professionally narrated audiobooks from Audible, like Life of Pi, A Day at the Office and classics like Great Expectations, the story can continue in the car or on the go. Kindle Unlimited is available starting today and is accessible from Kindle devices or with Amazon’s free Kindle reading apps.

“With Kindle Unlimited, you never have to think twice about what book you want to read or listen to,” said Jorrit Van der Meulen, Vice President, Kindle EU. “With unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of titles, Kindle Unlimited offers by far the simplest and most cost-effective way to explore and discover eBooks and audiobooks together, and you can even switch from reading to listening without losing your place. Our US customers have shown us how much they love the opportunity to discover new authors and genres, and now we’re delighted to offer the same freedom to our customers in the UK.”

In addition to over 650,000 titles, Kindle Unlimited includes thousands of Whispersync for Voice enabled titles so customers can switch easily between reading and listening, allowing the story to continue even when their eyes are busy—all for just £7.99 a month.

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Young woman reads electronic book sitting on the grass. Shallow depth of field.

Amazon Publishing currently has 15 different imprints that span every single literary genre. These books are not only sold online for Kindle e-readers but also physically printed and sent over to bookstores. Finding the next great book to throw their marketing engine behind has always been a risky proposition. Amazon is quietly approaching authors who self-publish under Kindle Direct Publishing for a new program that will kick-start a book and potentially earn a new publishing contract with Amazon – in 45 days or less.

Within the next few weeks KDP Authors will be asked to submit their complete, never-before-published book and cover. After a few days, Amazon will post the first pages of each book on a new website for readers to preview and nominate their favorites. Books with the most nominations will be reviewed by the Amazon team for potential publication.

Readers who are selected for Amazon publishing contracts will get incentives that compete with first time contracts by major publishers. Authors will receive a guaranteed $1,500 advance and 50% royalties on net eBook revenue. Amazon will also acquire worldwide publication rights for eBook and audio formats in all languages, but the author will retain all other rights, including print.

As a small reward to the people who nominated the eBook to become published will receive a free, early copy to help build momentum and customer reviews.

The titles selected for this yet unnamed Amazon program will not have their books published by Amazon Publishing. This is mainly why they are not offering book editing or cover art design. Instead, Amazon is hoping to give authors another reason to exclusively publish with them and forgo submitting their titles to the competition. It would make sense that this new program is the first phase for using KDP as a feeder system for Amazon to make more money off of the next great author. If anything, this might be a nice visibility booster for people with a good book and a great cover, who are struggling to be found.

I think more likely, Amazon is tired of authors who make a name for themselves selling their eBooks with Amazon then signing with traditional publishing houses for lucrative print contracts. The end game for this new eBook project is to publish audiobooks and eBooks and rope the authors into just dealing with Amazon and then saying “hey, why don’t we give you a bigger reason to continue to publish with us?”


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.

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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.

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Top 5 eBooks of the Summer

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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.

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