Archive for E-Book News
Verdict: 4 Stars
Game developer and author Jeff Kinney has done it again with a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid title, Hard Luck (Amulet Books). In this go around, life is even tougher for everyone’s favorite cartoonish middle schooler. Not only does he have the usual obstacles to juggle, like unpopularity, not doing well in school, and the proverbial middle child problems, this year, and even bigger threat has invaded: a girlfriend.
Specifically, Greg’s best friend’s girlfriend. Rowley, who could be counted on to be Greg’s wingman in all situations, somehow has attracted someone of the opposite sex, and therefore dropped Greg like third period French.
Part of the fun of the Wimpy Kid books is that they are completely relatable to both current readers and to adults who remember the angst of middle school. Apart from that, readers can also enjoy the “you, not me” aspect to Greg’s misadventures. While the book series has been banned in several US schools and libraries due to the attitudes and misbehaviors of some of the key characters, the entire series and this title in particular are perfect for reluctant readers who might identify with the constant uncertainty Greg feels.
Hard Luck is available now, and currently holds the number one bestseller spot on several retailer and book lists.
Simon&Schuster UK has recently announced the launch of a genre-specific social media and blog site, meant to entice avid readers of its New Adult and Romance titles. Called The Hot Bed and curated by an in-house team of four Simon&Schuster UK professionals, the site aims to be the source for news about S&S’s top-selling and most well-loved romance authors, as well as a blog for those authors to make appearances.
Fans will also get in on the action as they can connect with authors and with one-another via the site. The Twitter and Facebook feeds for the new site will allow fans to engage with the storylines and offer their remarks. The site also offers Tumblr, Pinterest, and YouTube landings.
Several authors have already been featured on the site, including S&S authors Jamie McGuire, Abbi Glines, Colleen Hoover, Alice Clayton, and Christina Lauren.
As the site continues to grow, new program offerings will be announced, including reader events for fans. The site has also promised future efforts to promote the brand through connectedness with other presumably romance brands.
Jamie McGuire, Abbi Gilnes, Colleen Hoover, Alice Clayton and Christina Lauren
Overdrive and Penguin have come to terms on a new agreement that will see over 500 audiobooks become available to libraries. These new audio editions will be available for public and college libraries in the U.S. and Canada under the one copy/one user lending model in both the WMA and MP3 format.
The Penguin audiobooks are mainly backlist titles, but there are a number of great authors works now available. Libraries will be able to buy older audio titles from Ken Follett, Clive Cussler, Anita Blake, Maya Banks, Roald Dahl, W.E.B. Griffin, Nick Hornby, Stephen King, Jen Lancaster, and Lee Child.
Penguin and Overdrive have had a tumultuous relationship, to say the least, over the course of the past few years. In May 2012 Penguin cancelled the contract they had with Overdrive because they felt that libraries lending out eBooks for free, devalued the overall product. It was only late in 2013 that a series of pilot projects were initiated to get Penguin back in the game with backlist and frontlist titles.
So whats changed with Penguin? Well, Overdrive suspended the ability to deliver eBooks to Kindle users wirelessly and instead have to be downloaded to the users computer and then synced to an Amazon product. Penguin harboured great resentment towards Amazon for their strongarm tactics of getting deals on selling eBooks and it pissed off management.
Still, libraries now can benefit from more audio editions in their library, and this sector is on the rise. The entire audiobook industry is currently worth around 1.6 billion dollars and that figure should climb further. The main reason? Audio book producers have been increasing their output. 13,255 titles came out in 2012, up from 4,602 in 2009.
The largest site for readers and book recommendations GoodReads has just wrapped up one of their most successful years for their Choice Awards. Almost two million votes were cast and 20 books were selected by the community. When a book is on the ballot and wins the award what type of traction does it get? We have an internal document from GoodReads which illuminates the situation.
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini won the best Fiction Award for the 2013 GoodReads Choice Awards. Voting initially opened November the 4th and the book saw a spike in user engagement. The most dramatic spike for people who added the book to their shelf and flagged it as wanting to read was when the book won the Fiction Award. Although GoodReads does not sell books directly, they do end up bringing people to the Kindle Store to make a buying decision if that particular person is using one of the Amazon branded e-Readers and Tablets.
Sometimes, it’s not enough to know that Aunt Janet loves to read, and therefore should be given a book for Christmas. Has she read that book already? Does she even like mysteries? Is Aunt Janet going to be offended by the language of explicit nature of this particular book?
With the advent of digital publishing and ebooks, even gift cards can be difficult. An Amazon gift card, for example, isn’t necessarily the right fit for a dedicated Nook user. Your thoughtful gift can languish in a drawer until the day Aunt Janet regifts it…hopefully not to you.
But two subscription-based reading platforms are offering e-cards this season, fully customizable options that include self-selected artwork and the opportunity to read across a small variety of devices while enjoying unlimited content.
Scribd and Oyster, two companies who are finally bringing some much-needed focused attention to the long sought after subscription reading model, are both making their unlimited pay-per-month service available for gifting in easy to purchase increments. Users are not locked into buying long-term subscriptions, with the chance to buy even a one-month subscription to let the recipient try it out before committing. Both companies offer this option to people who are not already registered users, so you don’t have to be a member in order to send this gift to a diehard reader; if your recipient is already a member of either service, this gift simply rolls over into their account so that they still benefit from your purchase.
Bear in mind that Oyster currently only works as an iOS app on devices running iOS7, and Scribd is only compatible with iOS or Android phones, tablets, or via the desktop app. Also remember that a host of other companies, like Spain’s 24Symbols, cater to reading in markets outside the US, as well as gifts from companies like XinXii, Spanish Publishers and Le French Book that focus on translations.
Google has embarked upon another major expansion drive, this time targeting the Latin American countries for making available its Google Play Book services. The five new countries that will now have access to Google Play Books include Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela. The last time we have seen Google expand its service was about a month ago when it’s Google Play Book services was launched in South Africa, Turkey and Switzerland. With this, Google’s ebook service is now available in 44 countries worldwide. However, in stark contrast, Google Magazines are only available in a handful of countries, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and United States.
In any case, those in the aforementioned countries can log into their Google account to access the ebook section, an inherent advantage of which is that it can also be accessed via non-Android devices as well.
Barnes & Noble together With Microsoft has announced an exclusive Nook for Windows 8.1 offer that will allow residents in UK to download books and magazines for free. Of course it is a limited period offer, enabling those who installs the Nook for Windows 8.1 app on their devices to download up to 5 ebooks and 5 digital magazines from a select list free of cost.
“By providing bestselling books and top magazines for free, new NOOK customers in the UK can start their digital libraries with some great content from the NOOK Store. We look forward to rolling out similar great offers to customers in more countries in the future, helping them to experience our unmatched reading platform,” said Jim Hilt, Managing Director, Barnes & Noble S.à.r.l.
Among the titles offered free include bestsellers The Moaning Of Life by Karl Pilkington, Booker Prize winner The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, and Of Lions and Unicorns by Michael Morpurgo. Magazines on offer include the likes of Cosmopolitan UK, Men’s Health, T3, Esquire UK and and so on.
Speaking of the development, Dr. Fiona Fyfe, Product Marketing Manager, Windows Apps said: ”We are really excited to have the NOOK App on our platform. Our customers will benefit greatly from the exclusive offer of five free books and magazines from the NOOK Store. The Windows 8 operating system works across a range of devices, making it perfect for an eReading app like NOOK. This year, activations of Windows 8 devices has grown, and this in turn has seen our customers engaging deeply with the Windows Store. Currently, we have over 100,000 apps in the Windows Store and the NOOK App is a strong addition which will deliver a great reading experience to our customers.”
B&N had recently embarked on a major expansion drive, making available its Nook app for the Windows 8.1 platform in 32 countries and 12 languages. Among the countries the app has been made available include Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States.
OverDrive, the world’s largest provider of digital content to academic and public libraries, announced a new partnership today that will increase its catalog of offered titles, specifically in key areas of business, science, and research. McGraw-Hill Professional, a widely respected provider of content and services for the medical, technical, and business communities, is making its list of books available for OverDrive’s 27,000 partner libraries. These libraries include both public and K-12 school libraries, as well as higher education libraries.
“McGraw-Hill Professional is committed to supporting libraries and making our world-renowned content easily available to patrons in multiple formats,” said Philip Ruppel, President of McGraw-Hill Professional, in a press release. “We are very pleased to work with OverDrive to help us reach students, professionals, and those seeking to advance their education or careers.”
“McGraw-Hill Professional titles represent the best of breed in every business and technical category of publishing,” continued Karen Estrovich, Manager of Collection Development at OverDrive. “Our library and school partners have been asking for their award-winning titles, and we are pleased to be able to make these valuable titles available now to students and patrons worldwide.”
According to a statement from OverDrive, this new partnership will make titles such as collections as 5 Steps to a 5 AP (test prep series), Practice Makes Perfect (foreign language study), Schaum’s Outline (study aid series), Mike Meyers’ CompTIA (technical certification series), and Disney U: How Disney University Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal and Customer-Centric Employees. High-demand bestsellers include The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley; Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, et al, McGraw-Hill’s 5 TEAS Practice Tests by Kathy Zahler; and Programming the Raspberry Pi: Getting Started in Python by Simon Monk, available to patrons of member libraries.
An area of interest in much of the Chinese culture is a fun fascination with world records, and specifically with breaking those records. Now, to fuel that interest for a larger audience, the Guinness Book of World Records has signed an exclusive publishing deal with Foreign Languages Teaching and Research Publishing (FLTRP), the Beijing-based leading education products and services provider in China. This deal will establish a Mandarin translation of the 2014 edition of the book, along with a special featured section in that edition to highlight records that have been set and held by Chinese nationals.
In a post earlier this year from the annual Guinness book creators, Rowan Simons, President, Greater China, for Guinness World Records, stated, “This first deal with FLTRP is just one part of a long term strategy that will see GWR introduce full Chinese language products and services across its business lines. “FLTRP was our first choice to bring record breaking solutions to kids known for their thirst for knowledge. The scale of the opportunity in the ELT sector alone is superlative with FLTRP estimating that over 500,000 students participated in its most recent language competition.”
FLTRP President, Cai Jianfeng went on to state that “FLTRP is proud to launch our co-operation with Guinness World Records by publishing the official Chinese edition of this famous annual book, which has been entertaining and informing audiences across the globe for nearly 60 years.”
At the end of this summer, a record was attempted to commemorate the partnership between Guinness World Records and FLTRP, in which they attempted to secure the most people writing a story in honor of the city’s reading initiative. The record was held by a group of 953 participants in Ireland, in 2011.
The National Library of Norway has embarked on an ambitious mission, that of digitizing all of its titles with the hope of achieving this by mid-2020. Such an endeavor will cover every book ever published in the country since, as per Norwegian law, all published material in all media should be deposited with the National Library of Norway. This will ensure everyone in Norway has access to the books at all times, which also includes those that come under the purview of copyright laws. Users will be able to download the books, though this applies only to those that are not copyrighted.
The National Library has stated they will continue to hold onto their physical collection in spite of the digitization efforts. Also, with books becoming machine readable which will not require a physical presence in the library, the authorities stated they will continue to encourage and promote the library as a physical meeting place. The library owns some rare collections of manuscripts, maps, posters, special books, photographs, and more, and will continue to make these available.
There have been widespread digitization efforts elsewhere in the world given the public preference for digital copies of printed texts and the sense of urgency surrounding preserving rare volumes. Also, given that maintaining digital copies is far more cost effective than their printed counterparts, libraries around the world have taken to digitizing their physical collections in the wake of budget cuts.
Amazon revealed that as many as 25 out of 100 of its best-selling titles in 2012 were from indie publishers. This should serve as a measure of the growing clout that the indie publishers and authors have come to wield. Also, lest anyone have any doubt about what exactly “indie” refers to or whether it would include publishing via any of those other than the big six publishing house in the US, an Amazon spokeswoman clarified by saying: “This figure is referring to Kindle books on Amazon.com in 2012, with ‘indie’ meaning books self-published via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). So a quarter of the top 100 bestselling Kindle books on Amazon.com in 2012 were self-published via KDP.”
Experts believe the share of authors preferring to publish their own books is fast catching on, so the percentage of indie authors is expected to rise further in the coming years. As Orna Ross, director of the UK Alliance of Independent Authors, which is a representative body of self-published authors, said: “We are in the middle of a major change. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we reached a situation where the majority of the top books are author-published. I don’t see what would stop that.”
Another trend is self-published authors who make it big ending up landing lucrative deals with conventional publishers. Paul Pilkington, a lecturer in a university in the UK, signed up with the UK-based publisher Hodder & Stoughton after two of his novels went on to sell more than 150,000 copies, other indie authors who got picked up by conventional publishers include the likes of Kerry Wilkinson and Beth Reeks. Kerry Wilkinson signed up with Pan Macmillan after success with his crime series which he had initially self-published. Beth Reeks, the nineteen-year-old student of physics, has been picked up by Random House after her romantic fiction, The Kissing Booth, which she had published at the storytelling site Wattpad, created a fan following of over 19 million.
However, not everyone is impressed with the development. As independent publisher Colin Robinson of Or Books cautioned: “It’s possible that some of the publishers I’ve never heard of are in fact imprints set up by the author of the book but, especially as several appeared with books by more than one author (or at least one author’s name), it seems unlikely that more than a few are. Disney and Little Brown are doing great. So are joke books.”
There has been a recent furor when erotic or adult themed novels ended up being listed alongside children’s titles, pointing fingers at self-published authors of those works. The booksellers blamed this on the rampant increase in indie authors who often would publish such stories to gain publicity or earn money.
Publishers and distributors of e-books in Japan have voiced concern over the proposed hike in consumption tax from the current 5 percent to 8 percent by April 2014. However, while the taxation would apply to ebook publishers and distributors in Japan, the same when sourced from overseas vendors enjoy immunity from the tax net. As such, retailers such as Amazon or Rakuten’s Canadian arm Kobo are not required to pay consumption tax in Japan. This as per the local players are allowing the overseas vendors undue benefit vis-à-vis their domestic counterparts.
As per the current legal system, ebooks purchased and downloaded from servers outside of Japan are deemed transactions, and are hence considered to be outside the purview of consumption tax. It is only the items and services purchased in Japan that are subject to paying consumption tax.
“Online shoppers are sensitive to prices. One of the reasons that foreign vendors gained a large share in the Japanese market was the unfair environment regarding the consumption tax,” said an executive with bookstore operator Kinokuniya Co.
This, as per Daiwa Institute of Research Holdings Ltd. is also leading to the Japanese government losing out billions of yen in revenue every year. The loss is pegged at a substantial 25 billion yen in 2012 alone. The domestic players are urging the government to come up with a quick solution though anything of that sort seems unlikely to emerge before spring 2014 when the higher rate structure will come in place. Government sources have assured local publishers and ebook retailers they are investigating the matter and have assured a level playing field for all though that is not expected to happen anytime soon.
“At the time the consumption tax was introduced (in the late 1980s), few imagined that the Internet would develop this much. The Finance Ministry should start upgrading legislation to create a fair environment,” said Yoshikazu Miki, a law professor at Aoyama Gakuin University.