Archive for E-Book News
Online educational provider Coursera was developed through partnerships with more than sixty universities, allowing the company to provide high-quality instruction from world-class speakers and experts. Now, Coursera is working on bringing educational materials to its students via the Chegg e-reader platform at a more affordable price structure.
Through agreements with top publishers like Macmillan Higher Education, Oxford University Press, and more, Coursera is working on creating free digital textbooks for its course participants for the duration of the course; participants who want to own the digital title for referencing without a timeline will be able to purchase low-cost ebook editions. The first titles to be released under these agreements, Writing II: Rhetorical Composing by Susan Delagrange, Scott Lloyd DeWitt, Kay Halasek, Ben McCorkle and Cynthia Selfe, and Introductory to Physics I with Laboratory by Michael Schatz, are both books that course students may wish to refer back to as they continue with future courses in line with those topics.
“We recognize the importance of forging partnerships with other stakeholders in the education space in order to help students overcome barriers and evolve the way they access education,” said Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera, in a press release. “By collaborating with publishers, we are able to provide access to some of the world’s best resources to Coursera students, supporting our goal of learning without limits.”
The ebooks will be available for viewing and referencing through the Chegg browser-based platform, meaning streamlined device compatibility with any internet-capable device or computer.
The 3M Cloud Library service may only be a few years old, but the company has developed a cohesive business in a short period of time. The company finds a ton of success in functioning as a content distribution system for libraries. The 3M platform is very attractive to publishers and has secured numerous pilot projects for Penguin, Hachette, and Simon and Schuster. What exactly goes into the formation of these limited programs and how do libraries benefit?
I spoke to Tom Mercer, Cloud Library Marketing Manager at 3M, about what goes into setting up these pilot projects. He said “Pilot projects open with a dialog with the publisher, we talk to all the big six, and all of them are willing to take our call. This is mainly because of our track record, we meet all of our deadlines and if we say we will do something, we do it. 3M goes to all the major events on the publishing circuit, such as; BEA, London Book Fair, Frankfurt Book Fair. We ask them about their primary concerns, barriers and sales cycle. For example, Penguin opened up with us at first, with just their backlist eBook titles, and after they were happy with our delivery of data, metrics and statistics, they felt more comfortable and opened up all of their titles.”
May 1st was a big day in the history of 3M. The company was selected as the primary vehicle for the new Simon and Schuster pilot project at the New York Public Library and the Brooklyn Public Library. We caught up with Christopher Platt, the Director of Collection & Circulation Operations at NYPL. He mentioned that publishers often choose his library because of the sheer amount of visibility and internet ebook loans they get. The library saw over 753,000 loans in one calendar year just for trade-fiction, which was a huge jump from 173,000 three years ago. Overall lending in one year toppled 28,000,000 digital books, audiobooks, movies, physical books, and music files. Needless to say, 3M has capitalized on dealing with one of the largest libraries in the USA and sold it a fairly “substantial” collection. Tom commented “We been talking with S&S for a very longtime and they were willing to do a trial. Getting their titles in the system has been very intensive but luckily New York Public Library was very comfortable with the entire process”
For a major publisher to evaluate if a pilot project is successful, they need data. Tom said, “The publishers need a ton of big data, how many books are sold, where they are, are these books circulating, how many loans they have received and other metrics. We never share customer data, nothing is ever shared, I really want to stress this. Big data, how many books are sold, where are they, are these books circulating, how often they are. We never share customer data, nothing is ever shared, books and how often they circulate.” Chris weighed in on big data, saying, “When you don’t pay attention to public libraries, you lose a large amount of data. Publishers aren’t being exposed to that reader’s behavior. Libraries aggregate data all over the place, funding agencies, government, and annual reports.”
One of the pitfalls of big data right now is the existing ILS systems by Triple iii and Polaris. These systems are designed to simplify librarians lives, by reporting on checkouts, sales, and all aspects of daily library life. Most of this data ends up in annual reports for specific areas to justify funding and also inform the American Library Association on lending behaviors. One of the big problems is when a library does physical and digital lending and deals with more than one company to facilitate it. Current ILS systems were not designed to function in this way and is a growing concern to major libraries all over the world. 3M is finding great success dealing with Polaris and other ILS vendors to incorporate its API tools into their platforms. This allows libraries to get firmware updates to their ILS platforms that have the 3M system built into it, making everyone’s lives way easier.
Most of the big libraries in the USA deal with one content distribution system. The major ones in New York that were selected for the recent ebook trial programs all deal with more than one digital library content delivery method. New York Public Library deals with both Overdrive and 3M. Tom commented, “Most libraries deal with more than one system and equal distribution of content. You will rarely see libraries buying the same titles from both companies, but libraries like the varied selection of titles. We currently deal with over 140 libraries in the US and 80% of them deal with Overdrive. This is a better method because it is up to the patrons on how they want to consume their content. Rather than, say, here is one platform and use it, libraries are starting to use more than one. A number of our libraries are saying our platform is starting to out-circulate Overdrive or Axis 360.”
Many people suggest that the reason 3M gets selected for all of the major publishing trial programs in New York is because 3M doesn’t deal with Amazon. Overdrive often gets the short-end of the stick in this regard, even though it is thought to control over 90% of the digital library market in the USA. Tom dispelled some of these rumors and said, “Us not dealing with Amazon has never come up in conversations, publishers never say ‘YAY! You don’t deal with amazon? Sign us up!’ We have good customer service, good focus, we get back to people and don’t give people the runaround. Our system is fairly easy to use and very intuitive, it’s not overly complicated.” Although 3M doesn’t currently do business with Amazon for loaning out ebooks to the Kindle platform, it is not entirely out of the question. Tom mentioned “We hope one day to deal with amazon and keep publishers happy.”
When it comes down to pilot projects with the big six publishers, there is a ton of work that goes behind the scenes to make it happen. It often takes over a year of negotiation to sway them over into dealing with the library system. 3M in a short amount of time has had many successful campaigns, and paved the way for libraries all over the USA to get access to books they did not have a year ago. Digital library lending is growing; over 45% of libraries are reporting a loan increase in Canada, and the USA is reporting a 67% increase.
Some of the frustration surrounding ebook lending and digital borrowing may be getting a little help, as Spanish company 24symbols announced today that it has partnered with mobile device company Zed for global distribution.
Described as the Netflix of books, 24symbols allows users to read content from a wide variety of publishers on internet-based computers and devices, alleviating much of the concern over piracy since no content is downloaded. Publishers are paid per page view of the book, allowing them to feel confident that their interests and the interests of their authors will be met.
24symbols also supports a social reading experience, allowing users to find friends and compare books, comment on each others’ titles, and more.
Now, mobile device company Zed has signed on with 24symbols to increase global use of the platform; the agreement also gives Zed a 32% ownership of the company. Zed has a customer base of over 400 million users through its agreements with more than 200 service providers and carriers.
“This agreement gives 24symbols a new distribution channel through the carriers,” said 24symbols’ CEO Aitor Grandes in a statement. “From now on, we are going to be able to reach millions of users worldwide that can only access premium digital content through their carriers”.
Subscription-based ebook borrowing has received a slow adoption in many places, and publishers have shown their concern over ensuring that their return on the borrowed titles is worthwhile. At the same time, customers have countered that per-book rates aren’t ideal, given that book length and reading speed vary so greatly. 24symbols’ model is aimed at meeting the needs of publishers and readers by tailoring the payment structure to consumed content.
Bexar County in San Antonio will be launching the first pure digital library in the United States in August. The publicly funded library has raised over $200,000 to finance its new digital library and will feature 48 computers, 300 e-readers, and three Discovery Terminals via 3M.
We talked to Laura Cole, Special Projects Coordinator of BiblioTech about the origins of the upcoming digital library and the mentality of the staff going into it. “Buxer County has never run a library before and all of the surrounding county’s are limited to being established within city limits. We have been looking at ways to enhance the library services for people that normally don’t have access. How could we address this in a cost effective manor? In the past five years the expansion of digital books and their availability to libraries is significant.”
She went on to say “We first started discussing the feasibility of an all digital library in August 2012 and did our major research in September 2012. In December we the plan basically all ironed out, factoring in the pros and cons. We had appointments with various judges and the commissar’s court in January. This is when we publicly announced the new project and its tentative launch date. We have a county owned facility that featured 4800 sq.ft that wasn’t even being used! This particular location is ideal, it’s a under-served area of San Antonio. It features many schools nearby and a seniors center across the street.”
The main selling point behind this library is that its the first tangible location that will feature intangible content. There has been no precedent or case studies that have ever been done for this type of location and it has been a challenging task to plan out all aspects. Laura cited a number of organizations that have helped along the way “We spoke with many academic libraries, including the UTSA library on logistics. The Texas State Library Commission has also been very helpful.”
There are many digital library content distributors out there, that help libraries formulate an ebook system. The 3M Cloud Library managed to win the contract and has been very influential about helping guide Bibliotech. When it opens in August, the library will have 3 Discovery Terminals that will allow patrons to browse the wide selection of ebooks and load them onto the 3M Android/iOS apps, or one of the 300 e-readers. Recently, Hachette and Penguin have joined the library bandwagon, so there will be plenty of books to borrow.
When a library goes digital, there is often the question of data. How exactly do you go about reporting book purchases, loans, statistics, and other metrics? Laura said, “3M provides lots of data with their online reporting tools and how the content is being used. All of our information is public and has to be reported and how funds are being spent and our annual reports.” One of the big difficulties surrounding the digital library is the tangible and intangible. It might be easy to report on digital usage, but what about the metrics of e-readers being loaned out, people coming into the library and the average duration of a computer session? These are challenges facing the library that there is no current solution for.
It is safe to say that this library is getting a massive amount of media attention. Major news outlets and online websites have been reporting on the first pure digital library in the USA. Needless to say, this is very moving for everyone involved. Laura finalized “all of the press in print and digital are a driving factor for us, all the positive press helped us validate that the world is ready for us. People really want this, want to know how it works, what it can do for them, it’s so edgy.”
There has been a massive leak of internal documents today from Barnes and Noble that claim Microsoft has made a one billion dollar offer to buy the entire Nook brand. This includes all the ebooks, tablets, and e-readers that the company currently offers.
Barnes and Noble has sold over 10 million Nook devices since first launching in 2009. Over 7 million people are actively using the eBook Store, downloading apps, or purchasing television and movies. It is no secret that Barnes and Noble is losing money with losses of $262 million for the fiscal 2012 year. B&N is also projected to lose an additional $360 million in 2013, so things look dire.
The mounting losses have spurned the vultures to encircle the embattled brand, with Pearson and Microsoft buying equity stakes in the Nook Media venture. This investment basically spun the digital division away from the brick and mortar stores. Microsoft kicked in $300 million at the time and gave B&N an advance of $190 million to make Nook branded apps for the Windows 8 OS.
Some of the documents also point to Barnes and Noble suspending all Android tablets in 2014 and instead licensing out its content platform to eligible buyers. This would be basically be a white label solution for conglomerates like HTC, Samsung, Acer, and others. The intention is for them to operate their own ebook stores that would tap into the Nook ecosystem to facilitate content delivery. Going this route would cut down on the hardware losses, which due to competition from Amazon, Kobo, Samsung, and Google makes sense. Its very hard for companies in today’s climate to make ANY money from hardware and instead have to rely on digital sales.
Microsoft owning a large e-reader, tablet, and ebook store could really help grow its Windows 8 brand. It would stimulate sales for its line of smartphones and tablets using the OS. It could integrate the entire Nook ecosystem to be bundled into the next build of Windows RT and Windows 8.
The IDPF is holding a two day event before the main Book Expo America Starts in late may. This is a major digital publishing event featuring the who’s who of the ebook, e-reader, and self-publishing world. The main speaker list has been finalized and one of the new executives to lead a session is Otis Chandler, Co-founder and CEO of Goodreads. He will share an update and tackle questions from the crowd, including: What’s next for Goodreads now that it’s owned by Amazon? What does the recent sale mean for the 17 million members, 530 million books and 23 million reviews?
Other speakers include:
- Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author and staff writer for The New Yorker will speculate on the digital future with Brad Stone, Bloomberg Businessweek writer and author of the upcoming The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.
- Paul Aiken, Executive Director of the Authors Guild, will speak out for his constituents in the sale versus licensing digital content controversy, sharing the stage with the other side, John Ossenmacher of ReDigi, moderated by former Tools of Change icon, Joe Wikert.
- Allen Lau of Wattpad, Kristen McLean of Bookigee and Anne Kubek of INscribe Digital will enrich the audience with tips on how to engage deeper with readers.
- Sylvia Day and Jennifer Armentrout will reveal their secrets on how to be a successful and bestselling hybrid author.
- Paul Belfanti (Pearson), Kent Freeman (VitalSource), Evan St. Lifer (Scholastic), Daniel Fountenberry (Borne Digital), Rebecca Tomasini (The Alvo Institute), Ken Brooks (Cengage), Diana Rhoten (Amplify) and more digital education pioneers will show us what 21st century learning platforms and classrooms should really look like and why.
- Steve Potash (OverDrive), Jeff Jaffe (World Wide Web Consortium) and John Wheeler (SPi Global) will cover the open web platform, EPUB 3 and HTML 5, while Markus Gylling (DAISY) and Bill Kasdorf (Apex CoVantage) will share the latest EPUB 3 developments and features and Liz Castro (Author) will put them into action.
- Chris Kitchener of Adobe and Steve Matteson of Monotype will explore how to enhance a reader’s experience through typography and fonts.
- Eve Hill (Department of Justice), George Kerscher (DAISY and 2013 Presidential Appointee) and Robin Seaman (Benetech) will cover accessibility in the digital world.
Registration remains open but the IDPF Digital Book Conference sells out every year. Register today at: http://idpf.org/db13. Paid admission to IDPF Digital Book 2013 includes free admission to the BookExpo America trade show and exhibit hall, including the Digital Discovery Zone by IDPF.
Over the course of the last few decades, Baker and Taylor has developed many longstanding relationships with publishers and content providers for the physical distribution of books. These relationships helped B&T to get its Axis 360 program off the ground and start facilitating the content digital content delivery for libraries all over the world.
Last fall, Baker and Taylor introduced a major addition to its digital platform, which saw the inclusion of EPUB and PDF support. Recently, the company expanded on this new platform and debuted its new AxisReader app for Android and iOS. I spoke with Michael Bills, Director for Sales, Digital Products, and he commented, “We wanted to create that seamless experience you couldn’t accomplish with the browser. It was important to easily find your library, check out ebooks and read within the app.”
Baker and Taylor has massive penetration in facilitating digital and traditional books to libraries in the USA. Currently, over 65% of all libraries currently deal with Axis 360, and this has allowed them to gain the attention of many larger publishers for a series of ebook pilot projects. Michael said ” We approached all the big six publishers several years ago when we first started the axis 360 service. We had to educate the publishers and libraries how the entire process works.”
Hatchet and Penguin were the first major publishers to initiate an ebook lending pilot project with major libraries in New York. Queens, Brooklyn, and the New York Public Library were selected as the testbed to gauge interest. The libraries participating in the test each agreed to provide digital circulation and metrics to the publisher to show them a myriad of factors. Libraries, for the most part, have a ton of big data that is often hard to sift through. To make it easier on the publishers, Queens is providing Baker and Taylor with the raw data. B&T then makes it a bit easier to digest and sends it away to Simon and Schuster. Michael said, “There are some big challenges within the current ILS systems to compile data within specific time periods to get the information we need. ”
Many of the major ILS systems were initially developed to handle the loaning and purchasing of physical books. Digital has been a huge burden for the existing systems and most distribution companies don’t play nice with each other. Most libraries in the USA now deal with more than one digital platform and harmonizing the entire pipeline can be difficult. One of the big barriers to overcome involves providing comprehensive analytics, discovery, and metrics, without having to rely on third party programs, such as Collections HQ.
Axis 360 and the Queens Public Library have just struck an agreement to incorporate ebooks into Queens’ system. This was a massive contract for Baker and Taylor and one of the major proponents that helped make the deal happen was the recent announcement of the availability of Simon and Schuster titles. Queens is one of three major libraries in the New York area to take part in this new pilot project. It will showcase a copious amount titles from many bestselling authors. The pilot went live on April 30th and seems to be doing well so far.
One of the most interesting aspects about the Simon and Schuster trial was the ability for libraries to offer the chance for patrons to buy titles. In order to accommodate this, Baker and Taylor will be making adjustments to its “My Library Bookstore” system. If you are not familiar with this platform, it is an online e-commerce website that allows patrons to buy physical books from libraries doing business with Baker and Taylor, and have them delivered to their homes. By the end of May, Axis 360 will be including ebooks and audiobooks to be sold via their online bookstore. This will allow Queens to offer the ability to purchase titles, which will result in a split revenue share between the publisher, library, and Baker and Taylor.
Overdrive and is currently the market leader in ebook distribution for libraries and has paved the way for Axis 360 and 3M to get into the game. The main factor that distinguishes Baker and Taylor from the competition is that the company sells both the physical and digital editions of the same book. Michael told me, “We are reaching an inflection point, ebooks were a novelty and now they are just another format that libraries adopt into their routine structures. Offering both, takes us to the next step and looking at a title, and giving libraries the costs of both.”
Many small to mid-level libraries often wrestle with the decision of what eBooks to purchase. When you look at a catalog of fifty thousand titles, it can often be quite daunting to decide on what is best. Collection developers at Baker and Taylor are working on series of standard digital packages to make the decision making process easier for smaller and mid level libraries. Michael elaborated, “We have ongoing plans to deliver new title notifications, directly to new users of our system. Libraries can opt into our First Look Notification plans, so they can evaluate new tiles from various genres, such as adult, children’s, YA, and Non-fiction.” All of this will give the libraries a head-up on what new titles are coming out, on any given month and allocate the funds to make the purchases.
Baker and Taylor is a company that is never idle for long. They are constantly developing new technologies and getting major publishers on-board with their content delivery systems. Being busy, does not disrupt the core business of getting more libraries involved and educating them on the virtues of digital. Currently, they are expanding outside of the USA into Australia, New Zealand, Canada and have plans for Singapore and other Pan-Pacific regions.
Sesame Street has launched 25 new ebooks today on Google Play. The digital editions range in price from $1.99-$4.99, with select titles available in 13 different countries.
The Monster at the End of This Book, Elmo Loves You, and Elmo’s Potty Time are but a few of the new titles that are available. Sesame Street continues to be one of the leaders in developing children’s content and the deal with Google Play, allows customers to enjoy their ebooks on their phones and tablets.
“We are always seeking out opportunities to foster a love of reading,” said Jennifer A. Perry, Vice President, Worldwide Publishing. “We are thrilled to bring many of our Sesame Street family favorites to the Google Play store, giving parents and children more possibilities to read together.”
Additional titles will be added to the store over the next few months.
The shift to Android is one of the company’s last major stops for digital distribution. Sesame Street originally launched its ebooks on iOS in 2012, and in early 2013 hooked up with Amazon and B&N.
One of the chief concerns US educators have about the summer holidays is the potential for a reversal of the gains students made throughout the school year. When the study habits and learning choices students make during the school year aren’t emphasized during those months of “down time,” the end result is that schools often have to spend the first month of the new school year reviewing material that was taught the year before in an attempt to even bring students back up to the ability level they once presented.
This phenomenon, sometimes referred to as the “summer slide,” can be addressed by a number of initiatives at the local and virtual levels. Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher of children’s books, has been working on increasing student reading interest over the summer months with its reading challenges, aimed at encouraging students to meet or exceed goals outlined for them.
Now in its seventh year, Scholastic’s Summer Challenge focuses this year on the theme of breaking the world’s record for most minutes read by Scholastic participants. Students who log their minutes between May 6th and September 6th will earn free rewards and incentives, including invitations for their parents to download ebooks through Scholastic’s digital reading platform, Storia; this year’s challenge is also set up to incorporate the Scholastic Reading Meter, which takes students on a virtual field trip around the world for each goal level they reach. The goal to beat is last year’s best, which reached almost 96 million minutes from all participants combined.
“With the high expectations of the Common Core State Standards and other rigorous state standards, it is more important than ever for kids to keep reading throughout the summer so they go back to school reading and ready,” said Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer at Scholastic, in a press release. “The key to making summer reading successful for kids is to make it feel more like ‘homefun’ rather than ‘homework,’ and to give kids the power to choose the books they want to read.”
As an added incentive, the school who has the most students log the most minutes will win a visit from Dav Pilkey, author of the Captain Underpants series. To sign up for the challenge, click HERE.
Sony has just unveiled its new Australian Reader Store that seeks to capitalize on a growing ebook market. The company intends on swaying people over to its ecosystem by offering a different free ebook every day. Sony is also showcasing hundreds of books written by local writers.
Expanding into foreign markets as been a priority with Sony, with the UK and European relaunches and aggressive marketing. The move into Australia helps Sony eventually roll out new e-readers and garner domestic sales for hardware and digital content.
“We are proud to bring our Reader Store ebook offering to customers in Australia. With the widely accepted, open ePUB format and our focus on local Australian ebook selections, we believe Australians will be excited to choose Reader Store for any book they want to read.” says Tad Kitsukawa, Managing Director Sony Digital Reading Services.”
Kobo, Apple, Amazon, Google, JB-Hi-Fi, and many other online stores certainly give Australians a ton of viable options to buy ebooks. The overall book landscape has certainly changed in the last few years, with the bankruptcy of REDGroup, Angus and Robertson, and Borders. Currently the overall Australian ebook market is thought to be the seventh largest in the world.
KNO is best known for its interactive learning software and digital store that allows diligent young scholars to buy content. Today, St. Mary’s Press has announced to that will be doing special versions of the Catholic Youth Bible, Breakthrough Bible, and Living in Christ series to be made available for sale immediately. This agreement actually makes a ton of sense because KNO is already in many religious schools and this new content will be welcome.
The bibles will allow students to make custom notes, highlights, and share discussions with their friends on the same platform. Students can also access interactive elements like flashcards for all the terms in the glossary, and religious instructors can share their highlights and notes with their class using Kno’s social-sharing feature.
“Saint Mary’s Press is excited to partner with Kno in offering our bestselling titles as interactive e-books,” said John Vitek, President and CEO of Saint Mary’s Press. “With Kno, Saint Mary’s Press will provide students with powerful, easy to use digital features that help them engage with their religious studies in new and exciting ways.”
“Saint Mary’s Press offers rich, meaningful content to students and teachers at Catholic schools across the country,” said Osman Rashid, CEO of Kno. “Using interactive features like search, journal, and flashcards will allow students to explore their religious studies in new ways, leading to new insights and providing a rich learning experience.”