Archive for Most Popular News
Amazon had a very productive year and managed to keep themselves in the news with ton of product releases and business maneuverings. Today, we take a look back at the 10 most notable things Amazon did in 2014.
Amazon Buys Twitch
Amazon acquired the video-game streaming site Twitch Interactive Inc. in August for $970 million. The company doesn’t make a lot of acquisitions, so one of this size was notable. The video streaming service will complement Amazon’s Prime Music streaming service, which is part of its Amazon TV system. Already Twitch culture has changed since Amazon bought it, when partial nudity is no longer allowed.
Send in the Drones – Meet Amazon Air Prime
Amazon took over the blogosphere by storm when it announced their futuristic Prime Air program. It promises a quad helicopter will drop off your package 30 minutes after ordering it. Amazon wants to get it running in the next few years but FAA restrictions are not making it easy.
In April Amazon announced Fire TV which allows you to install apps and watch Amazon-produced content on their TVs. It is similar to Apple TV and Roku, except it has more of an emphasis on playing games.
The main Fire TV unit came with a remote and optional game controller. At the tail end of 2014 the company unveiled the Fire Stick, which is an alternative to the Google Chromecast.
The Golden Globes
Amazon produced “Transparent” receives two Golden Globe nominations. The success of the show marks Amazon’s real entrance into the competitive online television network. The show is available via Amazon Prime, which Amazon mentioned got 10 million new members during the holiday season.
The Kindle Voyage is widely considered the best e-reader ever made. It has the highest resolution e-paper screen in the world and the PPI is unparalleled. It has buttons built into the bezel, an ambient light sensor and employs a new hybrid magnesium alloy. This not only makes the e-reader lighter than previous iterations, but prevents scuffs and fingerprints. Family Sharing allows you to share purchases with your friends and family.
Fire Phone Flops
Amazon admitted that their first ever smartphone was a flop, but that is not going to dissuade them from releasing more in the future. The phone suffered from a very high price and exclusivity with AT&T when it first launched. Its fairy cheap now and the unlocked version has fallen from its $699 launch price.
AWS Lowers its Price
Amazons cloud computing network powers Netflix and other major companies all over the world. They cut their data transfer rates by 43% starting in December 2014, which is halving many startups bills that can’t afford their own server farms. The reduction in price was made to help combat competition from Microsoft, Google and the giant VMware, not to mention the hundreds of cloud companies sprouting up around the world.
Hachette Dispute Dominated the headlines
Amazon and major publisher Hachette were locked in a six month long contract dispute which polarized the entire publishing industry. Never before have we seen pop culture and various author groups lambaste Amazon as being a money grabbing empire, who is bad for authors.
Kindle Unlimited Launches
Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, the ebook and audiobook subscription service that lets members pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited access to its catalog, went live during the summer. It offers users a thirty day free trial and the option to pay $9.99 a month for the service. There are over 700,000 e-Book and audiobook titles available. Major publishers have yet to embrace the platform and the vast majority of titles are from indie authors who publish on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing. This service has been in the news in the last few months as many authors are seeing a huge decline in sales.
Amazon added nearly 4 million square feet of office space in Seattle in 2014. The company is constructing two 38-story high-rise buildings and a five-story “bubble” building in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. It is on track to have enough space for more than 71,000 employees in the city in the next five years.
In a nod to the understanding that consumers who read on mobile devices are probably on a time budget, the newly launched full-length issues of Vanity Fair have a new offer: reading times. Originally initiated by Liberty magazine in the 1920s, the reading time feature sorts articles for the reader by how long the article should take, which is perfect for the morning commute or for catching up on an article while waiting at a meeting or appointment.
The new feature is only one part of what’s in store for Vanity Fair readers who utilize the new iPhone version of the magazine, created with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite. In addition to the reading times listed in the table of contents–categorized as Short, Medium, Long, and Everything Else–the new version is optimized from the publisher’s print schematics specifically for the iPhone screen.
As this is the second title from Conde Nast to be optimized for iPhone (The New Yorker launched first), additional new features were incorporated by the publisher’s design team. Those features include “videos, photo slide shows, interactive infographics, and archival articles; sharing capability via Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail; links to Web content on Vanityfair.com; and navigation tools, including the ‘scrubber.'”
Individual issues can be purchased through the free app for $4.99, and a one-year subscription is $19.99. Current subscribers to the magazine through either print or iPad will receive the iPhone version at no extra charge.
The world of self-publishing is rife with unfriendly, non-intuitive platforms that demand a strong technical knowledge to be able to produce compelling ebooks. Barnes and Noble is hoping to solve this problem with the unveiling of its Nook Press platform. Announced today, it is a direct follow-up to the company’s first generation PUBIT initiative that was launched in 2010.
Theresa Horner, the VP of Digital content at Barnes and Noble, explained the company’s process in an exclusive interview with Good e-Reader. “When we launched PUBIT, we had no idea how big the community would be,” she said, and went on to describe how difficult it would have been forming direct relationships with authors without PUBIT. “If we did not start PUBIT, we wouldn’t have been able to get content from all of these great indie authors. We are investing two times into the new platform than we originally did PUBIT.”
Nook Press provides an all in one solution that allows authors to upload existing Microsoft Word documents and instantly see how they look in EPUB, or create EPUB documents from scratch using the online tools. One of the barriers to ebook creation is being able to constantly refine your work; many self-publishing platforms do not allow you to make changes in the web-interface and demand you make the changes locally and then re-upload the finished result. Nook Press allows authors to make any changes on the fly and even create an interactive table of contents, something that makes everyone’s life a little bit easier.
When you have selected your cover art and added your metadata, it is time to list your book on the Barnes and Noble ecosystem. US publishers and authors can select whether they want the book for sale both in the US and the UK, and establish different prices accordingly. You also have the option to choose whether you want your finished product to have DRM or not. Having the option to avoid encryption and allow your ebook to be free and open will resonate with the segment of outspoken authors that love freedom of information. Another thing most people will love is the ability for all ebook titles to be included into LENDME—Barnes and Noble’s social sharing feature—that allows users to loan a title out only once to a friend for up to two weeks.
The entire ebook creation is done in EPUB2 and there is no functionality to include interactive content, videos, or animations with EPUB3. Also, there is no way to export your ebook as a PDF, so self-publishing comic books may not be the easiest thing in the world to smoothly accomplish. The Nook Press program is exclusively available for US residents only and will not accept submissions from any other market. The company may look at the United Kingdom at some point, but does not have immediate plans to make publishing available there.
Many authors love to know how their sales and metrics are doing for a title they have just released. Nook Press has new analytical functions that can give you an immediate report on every single purchase made. It is on a 3 hour delay for sales reports, as the company has to verify credit card data and other purchasing information. You can see the raw numbers, or juggle the graph data to show how it is performing over time.
First time authors have lots of questions when they are self-publishing for the first time. Barnes and Noble is making customer support for authors its top priority by introducing a new live chat feature. From 9 AM to 9 PM on weekdays, authors can talk directly to a Nook specialist to get help for anything that they need. Theresa told us that she recognized B&N’s support for self-publishing has been very weak in the past, and the company is remedying it with Nook Press.
Many first time authors want to share their books with their friends and family. Whether you have added a new chapter, or are just starting out, there are new tools to involve collaborators. You can invite people via email to get access to your book in the cloud. They can leave their impressions on specific sentences or chapters via the notes tool. Currently, the ability to edit an ebook as a collaborator is not included in the first release, but is on the company’s roadmap to introduce in the future.
Speaking of the future, introducing new features is something most people love when they are self-publishing on any given platform. Since PUBIT was first released in 2010, there has not been a single new enhancement added. The entire point of Nook Press is to create a scalable product in which new enhancements can easily be pushed out for everyone to enjoy. Speaking of PUBIT, the entire platform will be retired once Nook Press sees a broader rollout.
Considering where PUBIT left off, there is a night and day difference with the unveiling of Nook Press. The entire process of creating an ebook is actually very intuitive and easy. The platform eliminates anything that would be a barrier to you proudly launching your first title.
Curious George is a staple of any child’s library, and now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has released the first two titles in the Curious George Multi-Touch Storybook and Activities Series for the iPad. They are Curious George Says Thank You and Curious George in the Big City. The interactive format features embedded tools that allow children to participate in George’s adventures. From the press release:
“We wanted to create a digital storybook that didn’t distract children from the narrative, but instead allowed them to help the story along by completing activities that are closely tied to the plot,” said Cheryl Toto, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Planning. “Whether it’s helping George add stickers to his thank-you cards or helping him find his way back to the man with the yellow hat, these widgets bring his adventures to life and pull children directly into the story.”
The special features includes slideshows and animation, touch-responsive puzzles, and comprehension activities. Also included are related bonus activities including digital mazes and word puzzles. The books are priced, for a limited time, at $3.99 and two new books will be released every month for the next six months. Curious George was first published by Houghton in 1941 and has sold over 75 million copies.
3,000 ebooks will be part of a new children’s library in Mexico City, bringing the total to 28,000, according to reports Publishing Perspectives. The Biblioteca BS-IBBY México/A Leer is located in a mansion and offers three reading rooms for different ages, a digital archive, and a recording studio for producing audiobooks for the blind. International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and the Alfredo Harp Helú Foundation have gotten together to found the library, which is the second they have set up in Mexico.
“It’s a paradox, celebrating the opening of a public library in one of the world’s largest cities at a time when the ebook is gaining ground and the printed book as a format is now being questioned. The challenge is to invest in technology, but also in the printed word because the most important thing is inciting people to read and to live in closer proximity to books,” Harp Helú said during the inauguration on November 12.
Catering to those with handicaps, readers may record books for other readers with impaired vision and public readings in sign language will also be held. The library will also offer braille books. The library is at Goya 54, Mixcoac, Mexico DF. Tel +52 55 5563 1435 and its website is here.
Adobe analyzed data from more than 150 billion retail websites and compiled its holiday predictions today, foreseeing that by the Cyber Monday close of 2012 post-Thanksgiving shopping, online sales would reach about $2 billion. That data, compiled in its Digital Indexprior to the shopping season rather than being accumulated after the holiday shopping has closed, predicts an 18% growth for online shopping over previous years.
“Rather than report on what happened after the fact this holiday season, we are leveraging big data captured by the Adobe Marketing Cloud to accurately forecast the trends before they happen,” said Brad Rencher, senior vice president, Digital Marketing Business, Adobe, in a press release today. “This helps our retail customers plan for consumer spending activity online to better monetize their holiday campaigns. Adobe is the big data company for marketers, helping them sort through and understand massive amounts of online and offline transactional information to uncover patterns that will help them better understand and drive their business forward.”
Similar to its physical retailer counterpart of Black Friday, or the day immediately following Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday is the largest shopping day of the year for online purchasing. While Cyber Monday may account for the most sales, Black Friday is expected to be the runner-up for online sales, despite the advertised in-store promotions meant to lure consumers into businesses. Another expected peak for online sales will occur later in December, routinely known as Free Shipping Day; this year’s date of December 17th will mark the last date that consumers can expect online orders to arrive in time for Christmas, and a number of retailers take advantage of the last minute shopping rush.
The full Adobe report contained a number of interesting predictions, such as the expected increase by 110% of sales made from mobile devices to account for 21% of all online sales, and the 13% of all sales made from tablets. Additionally, social media interaction with retailers’ websites is expected to double over last year.
Fictionwise, one of the leading independent ebook sellers, will cease operations on December 4, 2012. Fictionwise was one of the pioneers – maybe the major pioneer – in the ebook arena. The company took an unusual route, making ebooks available in multiple formats and initiating the use of micro-payments for book purchases. It was also an early entrant in the the e-reader marketplace with its connection with the eBookwise reader.
Fictionwise launched on June 5th, 2000 as a partnership between Steve Pendergrast and Mindwise Media, LLC, which is owned by Scott Pendergrast. The success of Fictionwise led to it being spun out of Mindwise into its own company, now called Fictionwise, Inc.
If my memory is correct, Barnes & Noble paid the Pendergrasts about $15.7 million in a stock deal for the site in 2009. When I was writing for TeleRead, Scott Pendergrast told me “My brother, Steve, shopped the site around to a number of buyers with the understanding that the current philosophy toward ebooks would survive—and that presumably means that you’ll still be able to buy non-DRMed books from Fictionwise when publishers allow.”
After the purchase, B&N pretty much left the operation alone and never bothered to make much of it. I don’t know why the company ever bothered to buy it in the first place. B&N certainly failed to take advantage of the purchase.
Fictionwise sent an email out to the author this afternoon, saying “This letter is to notify you that Fictionwise will wind down its operations on December 4, 2012. The Fictionwise sites (including Fictionwise.com, eReader.com and eBookwise.com) will end sales on December 4, 2012 and U.S. Fictionwise customers will cease to have access to their Fictionwise Bookshelf through the site after December 21, 2012. Customers outside the U.S. will cease to have access to their Fictionwise Bookshelf through the site after January 31, 2013. Fictionwise customers will be notified of this and U.S. and U.K. customers will be given an opportunity to move their customer accounts, including their ebooks purchased at the Fictionwise websites, to a Barnes & Noble NOOK Library.
There is an old Arabian proverb, “If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.” It may apply to Wiley & O’Reilly creating another important crack in the DRM wall. O’Reilly Media has always been a vocal supporter of DRM-free ebooks. The company is beginning to convince other important publishers that DRM-free is the way to go.
Today O’Reilly and Wiley announced that O’Reilly will become an online distributor for Wiley’s technology ebook program. This includes famous brands like For Dummies, Wrox, and Sybex. All told, nine imprints are covered with over 3,000 individual items.
“Partnering with another publisher, one that shares and embraces similar digital content ideals—where content is made available to customers in multiple digital formats, all without DRM—is particularly gratifying…”
When something as big as the For Dummies series goes DRM-free, then it may become the proverbial camel’s nose.
During the last week, no new e-readers have dropped but rumors continue to swirl about the new line of Amazon Kindle Tablets and e-Readers hitting the market. Sony also intends on releasing a followup to the Sony PRS-T1 in the next few weeks and Blackberry released the Playbook 2! In our Week in Review, we focus on only the MAJOR news items that you might have missed but need to know about!
Amazon eBook Sales Have Overtaken Print in the UK – In the United Kingdom Amazon, Kobo, Sony, and other major companies have used the country as a launch point to enter the rest of Europe. Many companies have partnered with literary staples, such as Waterstones and WH Smith, to further increase their footprint and market e-readers directly to consumers. According to unaudited figures issued by Amazon earlier in the week, since the start of 2012 customers downloaded 114 ebooks for every 100 hardback and paperback book sold on its site. Amazon said the figures included sales of printed books, which did not have Kindle editions, but excluded free ebooks. Amazon reported that “As soon as we started selling Kindles it became our bestselling product on Amazon.co.uk so there was a very quick adoption … [And they] are buying four times more books prior to owning a Kindle,” an Amazon spokeswoman said. “Generally there seems to be… a love of a reading and a renaissance as a result of Kindle being launched.”
Barnes and Noble’s Legal Team Speaks to Good e-Reader – The senior legal team at Barnes and Noble took the time last week to speak with our own Mercy Pilkington. The company wanted to make public some very interesting aspects of the whole Justice Department vs. Apple and the top six publishers. They told us that they are getting ready to file a motion in court to appeal the settlement of Simon&Schuster, Hachette, and HarperCollins. The essence of the motion was based on the wording of these companies settling out of court and the expiration of the “Agency Model” of ebook pricing that happened in July. Barnes and Noble is appealing the entire settlement, and if they lose the company would need to renegotiate ebook prices with ALL of those publishers to absolve the agency pricing and get new contracts for wholesale.
Other Amazon News – Amazon has been in the news plenty this week with major new initiatives starting. The company has formed its own Game Development Studio and the first release was a casual Facebook Game. Amazon is hiring Android developers to start pumping out original content to be sold or given away for free in the Amazon App Market.
The company has also rolled out its physical textbook rental program, which is an elaboration on its digital strategy. Students can rent tangible textbooks for an entire semester and also pay a bit more to rent it for a longer period. You can save up to 80% on the purchase of the books, just by renting them. It is USA only at this point and likely will never reach other countries.
Finally, Amazon has slashed the prices of their entire Kindle line of e-Readers to make room for new models coming out later this month.
Sony News – Sony has discontinued its entire line of PRS-T1 Accessories and the e-reader itself. There are plenty of deals to be had on the remaining stock of lighted e-reader cases and normal cases from the main Sony Website and some retail partners. Most of the accessories are not compatible with the new Sony PRS-T2 model being released this month. Speaking of the new model, we have finally received a list of all the hardware details regarding the new e-reader. The Sony PRS-T2 features a six inch e-ink Pearl Display with a resolution of 600×800 pixels. It will utilize Clear Touch Infrared Technology, which will offer you pin-point procession in interacting with the screen. There is 1.3 GB of internal memory and a MicroSD to further enhance it up to 32 GB. The battery will last around two months of constant use and even comes with a free Harry Potter book. The design of the hardware gives you an Android Approach to e-readers with a few major buttons to bring up the homescreen, back, and access to the settings menu. You can pre-order this today at Shop e-Readers.
Blackberry Playbook LTE Released – RIM has finally released the new LTE/4G version of the Blackberry Playbook exclusively in Canada. The new model has an upgraded 1.5 GHZ processor and comes with 32 GB of internal memory. The main selling point is that this model is one of the few out there that give you full data connectivity while on the go. There are only 5 tablets really out there worth your time that give you mobile data at high speeds. We did a great comparison on all of the different models that you might want to check out HERE. Although it is only available in Canada, you can order it internationally from Shop e-Readers.
eBook Authors Mount a Crusade Against LendINK – When it comes to writing ebooks and self-publishing, some authors really are tech savvy and can figure out how to use tools to format their book correctly and even make their own cover art. There is a large demographic that simply doesn’t know what’s going on and rely on 3rd parties to help out. A cadre of authors thought that ebook lending website LendInk was pirating their eBooks, when it only helped facilitate the lending process that the authors had opted in for, when they uploaded their books for sale on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. This has sparked a war that resulted in authors sending hate mail to the company’s ISP, Facebook, and other channels. LendInk was shut down due to the sheer number of crusaders that sought to smite an innocent start-up. Since the uninformed authors had taken to Twitter, Facebook, and other public arenas, the LendInk supporters have started to leave ‘one star’ reviews on the author’s books on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. They also have started to leave a number of negative comments about the integrity of the book, to hopefully decrease the author’s sales. This was the spark that lite the fuse between two very different types of authors, and is creating bedlam.
During this last week many of the top six publishers released their 2nd Quarter financial results and bodes well for the eBook industry. Lots of new Android devices have been launched and there is tons of news as always! Welcome to the Good e-Reader Week in Review weekly publication, covering the essential stories you need to know about.
The Dutch eBook Industry is Rising – eBook sales in the Netherlands are picking up and gaining momentum from the first half of 2012. Over 600,000 ebooks have been sold this year from a pool of only 16,000 titles. Industry analysts predict that the entire digital market constitutes 3% of the entire publishing segment and should increase to over 7% by the end of the year.
Overdrive Unleashes Developers Portal – Popular Digital eBook service Overdrive, mainly caters to Libraries and Schools to facilitate the borrowing of digital books. The company unveiled new developing tools aimed at companies, schools and libraries to make their own apps, using the overdrive system. This may result in Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and other mainstream e-reading companies to develop their own apps to allow for digital lending, right on the device.
The Parallels of Erotica and Christian Fiction – Christian Fiction and Erotica have a fair bit in common. Patchen Barrs mentioned that “Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James and religious ones like Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo are achieving similar success in the ebook market. Besides death, there are two experiences universal in the human condition: sex and faith. As far back as the 14th Century households had to be wealthy to afford a single book. Often that manuscript was a prayer book with erotic pictures in the margins. They served both body and soul.”
Penguin and Simon & Shuster give Quarterly Results – Over the last week Penguin has given us a sense of how the company has been performing for the first six months of 2012. Profits for the company are down almost 50% from a year ago, mostly due to the tremendous success of the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy and the Hunger Games. Both of these books contributed to the lack of sales, which fell by 4% to £441 million and has adjusted operating profit down 48% to £22 million. Book sales may be down but the company is making headway in the world of ebooks. Total sales in the first six months have increased by 1/3 and now account for nearly one in five of Penguin’s total revenue. In 2009, ebooks were just 2% of Penguin’s total revenues, growing to 12% last year.
Digital eBook sales at Simon & Schuster are seeing strong growth in the second financial quarter of 2012. They have risen by almost 44% and now account for 21% of the company’s total book sales. Revenues increased by 3% and garnered the company a cool $189 million from $183 million over the second quarter in 2011. Some of the ebooks that saw the most sales during this period were The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King and Cowards by Glenn Beck.
Smashwords Authors dominate the New York Times Bestseller List- Does anyone still remember the arguments from only a year or so ago, the ones where critics said that digital publishing was going to destroy the book industry or where fans of ebooks promised it would be the death of paper books? Or the literary agents and publishers who firmly held the doors shut in order to keep the digitally and self-published riff raff from being confused with the “real” authors?
Apparently, no one remembers. Mark Coker, CEO of ebook distribution platform Smashwords, posted a startling announcement on the site’s blog: as of yesterday, four self-published authors have a total of seven books on the New York Times’ ebook fiction bestseller list.
Good e-Reader Apps Updated – The Good e-Reader Android and Playbook App Stores now see over three thousand titles being downloaded by over six million patrons worldwide. Over the last week we updated our Mobile, Tablet and Playbook Apps! We busted in new features like being able to connect via DATA only for the new Playbook 2 LTE model! We also really polished up many of the main elements to the app store, like a bigger search bar and bigger banner. Over 16 bug fixes went into these new versions and really looks solid now. If you are looking for an alternative to Amazon and Google, check out the Good e-Reader APP Store.
Blackberry Playbook 2 Launches in Canada, August 9th - The Playbook 2 is due out next week and I am very excited. Hardware wise it it has a bit faster processor and 32 GB of internal memory. The big new change is the ability to use 4G and LTE speeds, to finally give you mobility while on the go, without having to worry about Blackberry Bridge software. Its expensive though, be prepared to drop between $300 to $500 with Bell, Rogers and Telus for the unit and then factor in monthly data costs.
Browser Based Battles will cause e-Reading Fallout – New contributor to our website Sherry Snider talked about incoming browser based battles. Apple has announced that it is pulling all support for Safari from Windows based PC’s. If you recall Amazon, Kobo and other major companies have developed HTML5 e-Reading apps that allow you to read and buy books on any Windows PC or mobile operating system. Pulling Safari support will hinder millions of people who use it to read books via the Web.
Major companies in the e-reader sphere are jockeying for position in the cutthroat world of retail sales. It looks like Target has had enough of these companies lowering their prices and has slashed their entire inventory. This has resulted in many current generation e-readers to have their prices severely lowered as Target seeks to liquidate the existing stock. This creates a great avenue for the average customer to save some money and get a fairly modern device. The downside is that Target is seemingly getting out of the e-reader game altogether.
Target initially got behind e-readers in a big way. It carried Amazon, Barnes and Nobe, Kobo, Sony, and iRiver. The company has seemingly stopped carrying devices from all those companies due to its growing relationship with Apple and slim profit margins on hardware slashed to the bone.
The iRiver Story HD was released in 2011 and had an exclusive relationship with Target to be the sole distributor in the USA. It hit the shelves at a fairly competitive price of $129.99. Sales were lackluster to say the least and the company decided to slash the price down to $99.99. It was further reduced to $49.99 and was officially discontinued a short-time later.
The Amazon Kindle has been available at Target since May of 2010 and has enjoyed tremendous success at the retail chain. The company started way back with the second generation Kindle and has released all of their current models, including the Fire. In May of 2012 the company suspended its relationship with Amazon due to a myriad of reasons. The main reason includes Target’s growing relationship with Apple, culminating in Target signing an agreement to give them better rates on the products if they axed Amazon. The other major facet was that Target hasn’t been making any money on digital content and making only a pittance on the hardware sale.
In October of 2011, Target entered into a relationship with Barnes and Noble to distribute the Nook line of e-readers and tablets. This was a savvy move for B&N because it took the Nook line outside of B&N’s own stores, so more companies in the USA were pushing the product. Target continues to sell the Nook line of readers, despite the fact it doesn’t do business with Amazon, iRiver, and others.
Canadian based Kobo has had a tumultuous relationship with the USA putting its line of devices on store shelves. Initially they had an exclusive agreement with Borders to sell their e-readers and for a while, things were good. Borders went out of business and its assets were sold in a New York Bankruptcy Court. Part of the assets in question included Kobo’s exclusive agreement with Borders, which Kobo vigorously defended. This prevented the company from actively marketing its devices with any other retailer, until the courts made up their minds. In early 2012, the Vox and Kobo Touch were made available Target, but this only lasted a few months. It seems many Target locations have discontinued these devices. You can find them on clearance right now at various stores in the USA at $50 or less.
It really seems like Target has had enough of e-readers and their slim profit margins. In a retail setting, e-readers do not really make much money for Target. The real money is in digital content and the retailers are left in the cold. Amazon deliberately sells the hardware at rock bottom prices, because the company knows that digital content is where the real money is. Speaking of digital content, Target is seeking to circumvent the lost sales in selling e-readers and make some money from selling ebooks. This new partnership comes courtesy of Livrada, that intends on offering gift-cards in over 1,700 locations in the USA to sell single novels and bestsellers in digital form. These cards will allow customers to buy digital content in the store and then have their books synced automatically to the e-reader of their choice. Most retail and supermarket chains make a hefty profit margin on pre-paid cards and the revenue is fairly certain.
Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon continue to war with each other to offer the most affordable e-readers. It was only a few years ago that the Kindle cost $229 and now you can get one for $79.00. When one company reduces the price, in the next few weeks the others follow suit. This creates a competitive landscape for independent companies like Onyx Boox, Pocketbook, and Bookeen, making it difficult to gain any traction in North America. They simply cannot afford to offer their products at the same prices as the big sellers. It is chiefly due to the fact that none of them have well developed digital ecosystem. They don’t make any money in selling ebooks, newspapers, and magazines to earn residual long-term revenue and cannot subsidize their hardware.
This pricing war, in the short-term, benefits customers immensely. Unfortunately, things are not so rosy at Target. Over the course of the next year, e-reader visibility will be severely hampered. It will get increasingly harder to find nationwide new readers released in the next few months. Your alternative is to deal with Shop e-Readers, eBay, or an another retail chain that carries them. There might not be a Barnes and Noble or Sony Store in every town in America, but everyone lives close to a Target.
Kobo will be introducing a new self-publishing platform called Writing Life in the next few weeks. The essence of this new platform is to allow indie authors to publish their ebooks on Kobo’s expansive ecosystem. You will be able to sell books in all the markets that Kobo supports and set your own prices in each country. One of the most exciting aspects of this program are the live metrics. In real time you can track your sales and where they originate from. This will give you a little more control to see if your advertising or marketing campaigns are working. Today we are proud to bring you a worldwide exclusive on Writing Life, giving you a sneak peak on how it functions. We will show you the Dashboard, Sales, Metrics, Learning Center, and all major facets of this new program.
There are three major aspects of Kobo Writing Life for authors: Dashboard, eBooks, and the Learning Center.
The main Dashboard gives you an indication on how your books are doing on a regional or global basis. It also gives you personalized purchase activity on a day by day basis. You can track your sales by individual country and how many sales originate from particular locations. Being able to track book sales country by country is currently one of the favorite options by authors participating in the beta program.
The Kobo Learning Center is your online destination to find guides, tutorials, and updates on Writing Life. The main page of the learning center gives you some videos that outline the service and provide some basic guidance on how to use Writing Life. There are some great books that discuss ALL self-pub options, including info on how to self-pub at KDP, B&N, and Smashwords. One book we recommend is written by global indie author M.A. Demers (available EVERYWHERE through every major e-retailer’s catalog) and is one of the best all inclusive self-pub help/advice/support books out there.
The eBooks section is the most important aspect of Writing Life and lets you check out books in Progress, Delisted/Inactive, and On Sale books. When you upload a new book, the submission process is very clean and elegant. You simply input all of the necessary fields such as Name, Title, Cover Art, Series Name, Imprint, Publishers Name, and others. Once you input all descriptions and cover art, you can upload your book in PDF, DOC, TXT or EPUB format. Writing Life will then convert the book for you and show you examples of how it looks. One factor that authors are loving so far is the optional ability to employ Digital Rights Management. You can either opt into protecting your book with encryption or make it DRM-FREE!
Once your book is uploaded into the system you can setup your book to be sold in different countries. Some authors only own the rights in specific countries and other indie authors can opt into worldwide distribution. Each country has the ability to set your own price, so you can charge a different amount in Canada than the USA. Customers are then charged in the their own local currency, which makes it easier for people to know how much they are paying.
Below are screenshots of the entire Writing Life backend and platform! This is a true worldwide exclusive and not documented anywhere else online. Let us know your thoughts or if you are intending on publishing with Kobo.
Book Expo America is getting all ready to launch in the first week of June and we will be there on the scene giving you the most exclusive coverage on the event. Over the last week there has been a ton of news from Overdrive with two major announcements. Here are the most essential stories from the last week that matter the most.
Waterstones Offering Kindles – Waterstones has been very anti-Amazon during the last two years. James Daunt, Managing Director, has said, “They never struck me as being a sort of business in the consumer’s interest. They’re a ruthless, money-making devil.” He then further lamented to the Telegraph last October, in which he described Amazon as “dispiriting” and “utterly, utterly ruthless.” It seems that money talks and Waterstones needs a very popular e-reader and ebook ecosystem in order to transform the stores. Not only will the stores sell ebooks and Kindles, but Waterstones will also launch its in-store coffee shop Cafe W and redesign many of their popular stores.
Hachette Starts Lending eBooks to Libraries – Hachette has pulled its books from Overdrive earlier in the year and many of the big six publishers have followed suit. The company intends on experimenting with a new pilot project that will see a very limited number of books available at an undisclosed number of libraries.
ALA president Molly Raphael and several board members held a series of meetings with publishers at the beginning of this year, but this is the first great news for library lending to come out. Last week, Raphael met with several executives from Hachette Group, so hopefully this signifies that the talks are helping publishers overcome their fears of piracy and stagnant book sales in order to move forward on a larger scale.
Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s reading content, is working to bridge the end of one school year with the beginning of another by offering free reading apps and digital learning games aimed at providing an incentive for students to self-teach during their vacations. Deborah Forte, President of Scholastic Media, spoke to GoodEReader about the importance of this kind of content for younger readers.
“Scholastic has always been about being relevant and supporting the needs of our customers. We offer through all of our digital content and physical content experiences that promote literacy. It could be through an app or a game or by way of a book,” explained Forte. “We’re coming from a different perspective [than other digital publishers] because we’ve always been coming from a digital space with apps, games, and software, in addition to the publishing. When we see some of these apps that say that they are book apps but they have nothing to do with reading, that’s a concern. We don’t want the market to get confused, particularly for younger children’s digital experiences. There is a lot of confusion given the amount of content out there for children about what is truly a book for reading and what is a game.”
Overdrive Updates Android Apps and Releases New Dev Tools – Overdrive has launched revised apps for both Android and iOS. The Android version of the updated app features dynamic home-screen widgets that let users play audiobooks right from the home screen or resume reading ebooks with a single tap. It finally gives you the ability to read books in landscape mode with multiple columns of text, offers bold font choices, and debuts an in-book image viewer. You can download it from our Good e-Reader Android APP Store or get the Playbook version. The iOS version of the app incorporates several new e-reader features that give the user more control over text justification, line spacing, page margins, and font selection. Optimized graphics support the iPad Retina display. You can find OMC 2.4.2 for iOS in Apple’s App Store.
Overdrive is also launching a new Developers Portal this July. The new tools will offer companies and developers the ability to use the Overdrive API’s. This will allow you to create your own library lending apps or build the functionality into an e-reader or tablet.
GlueJar Launches Unglue.it – A little over a week ago, GlueJar unveiled its new division, Unglue.it. This new venture is directed at taking away the barriers of reading for a lot of people, specifically public library patrons who are currently still at the whim of the publishers when it comes to ebook lending. CEO Eric Hellman spoke to GoodEReader about how this is supposed to improve access to content.
Acting on the idea of “ungluing” a book using crowdfunding to remove any licensing concerns, readers makes pledges toward individual book campaigns. Once the funding goal has been met, the rights holders are compensated and the book becomes free permanently, across all devices and platforms. As the cost of production for an ebook is minimal once the initial book is created, campaigns like Unglue.it are working to take advantage of the accessibility that CCL can provide.
Sony Fails to Penetrate Europe with PRS-T1 – Sony has only sold 500,000 Reader Wireless eBook Readers since their original launch mid last year. The company only recently opened a dedicated European ebook store in April and has really just made people fend for themselves with getting content. Google also changed the way it offers its ebooks, which made downloading free content from Google result in error messages.
IPG and Amazon Iron Out New Licensing Agreement – The two sides have finally made up from a drastic falling out a few months ago. The dispute over wanting a better deal by Amazon ended up taking down 5,000 books. The two companies decided to reconcile and now the books are again listed on Amazon. To apologize for the whole fiasco, IPG will not be collecting any royalties for the next few months.