The Latest News on eBooks, eReaders and Digital Publishing - Part 2

One of the often overlooked formats in the focus on digital versus print books is the audiobook, a separate entity that–despite a long standing history–still gets relegated to only certain titles. Through the launch of companies like Audible and the later ACX platform, audiobooks are currently enjoying a resurgence among old and new fans alike.

Findaway World, a company that has partnered with publishers around the globe to produce audio renditions of titles, has a catalog of more than 50,000 audiobooks, but offers them in unique and innovative ways through its digital platform and through its Playaway devices.

Playaways, a concept whose technology seems backwards at first glance, is actually a brilliant tool for putting audiobooks in front of as many listeners as possible, specifically in school, library, and even deployed military outposts. The devices are essentially MP3 players that contain only one book, making it possible for a large number of patrons to borrow the preloaded devices. While Playaways come with an inexpensive pair of ear buds tucked nicely in the hardshell case, many schools and libraries encourage users to keep their own headphones handy in order to borrow multiple titles.

Now the creators of the Playaway have launched AudioEngine, a platform that allows seamless access to Findaway World’s catalog of titles. Authors, publishers, and rights holders can incorporate their audiobook editions into AudioEngine through submission and agreements with Findaway World.

“We have one of the world’s largest collections of digital audiobooks and had been focused on preloaded devices,” said Ralph Lazaro, VP, Digital Products Group, in an interview with Good e-Reader. “We started to build apps for partners who wanted audiobooks, and we would build custom apps for them. Along the way, we started to see the growth potential of the audiobook market–it was a $1.2 billion dollar market in 2012 and $1.6 billion in 2013–and most of that growth has come from downloadable streaming which is picking up a lot of the market share.”

Publishers are responding to that growth by releasing more audio titles than ever before, with audiobook new releases reaching 200% growth over the year before. Of course, ACX has enabled self-published authors and small press publishers to tap into this growing audiobook market as well. Digital downloads have also enabled a new breed of reader to enjoy the titles; in the past, audiobooks came on CD and offered eight to ten hours typically of content. With mobile devices, listeners can enjoy their books whenever they find themselves with time, and then return to the title later.

According to Findaway World, several leading companies are currently using AudioEngine to power audiobooks in their platforms, including 3M (Cloud Library), Mackin (MackinVia), Baker & Taylor (Acoustik) and Follet (Catalist Digital), with many other large retailers, content providers, and distributors launching worldwide throughout 2014.


There has been a number of Papyre e-readers available in Europe for quite sometime. It has never really been a household name because its normally found in Spain. Their earlier devices suffered from sluggish performance and ugly aesthetics. The new Papyre 630 is breaking this mold and might be a solid device to look at if you are interested in loading in your own books.

The Papyre 630 has a six inch e Ink Pearl HD display screen with a resolution of 1024 X 758 pixels. One thing readers will dig is the inclusion of a full touchscreen display and physical page turn keys that will appeal to right or left handed readers. This edition will let you read in the dark with the built in front-lit, interesting enough the LED lights are on the bottom of the screen, similar to the Nook design.

Underneath the hood is a 1.2 GHZ single core processor, and 4 GB of internal memory. There is support for an SD Card, so you can expand it if carrying a copious amount of books appeals to you.

When it comes to reading, you have support for DRM ePub or PDF eBooks that are purchased from other retailers. You can also download and load them in yourself, the formats supported are TXT, PDF, EPUB, PDB, FB2, RTF, MOBI. Its nice to see a reader that will read a Kindle friendly format, in MOBI.

There is no store loaded on the device to buy digital books from. Instead, the company that  makes the e-reader, Grammata, has a web-based store.  This forces you to rely on the WIFI and internet browser to download books from the online store or use other websites or even Dropbox. You can buy this e-reader now for 119 euros.

In the end, this device will likely appeal to people who want a simple e-reader with no defined store. If you don’t like the other major e-reader brands, this might work for you. If you buy it for someone who is not tech savvy, I would recommend just load it up with books.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Amazon has introduced new functionality for Kindle ereaders and tablets with Cloud Drive. Starting today, all personal documents that you have archived in your Kindle Library will be available to access, delete, organize, and share from your Amazon Cloud Drive. You can see these documents in a new “My Send-to-Kindle Docs” folder on Amazon Cloud Drive alongside all of your saved content, such as photos and personal videos.

The syncing of personal documents is done automatically and requires no management on the users part. Also starting today, new documents that you save to the cloud with Send to Kindle will be kept in their native format (e.g. MS Word, RTF, TXT) so you can access them anywhere from Amazon Cloud Drive.

Amazon recognizes that often their customers use the send to kindle plugins for major web-browsers to send interesting bookmarks or RSS feeds to their device. The company is also keenly aware that most of their users get heavily invested in their ecosystem and have more than one in the household. Being able to sync your documents and user uploaded content into your main account means you can access it on the existing hardware but also the new Amazon Smartphone.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Texet has bucked the trend of the standard six inch e-reader in Russia with the advent of the eight inch TB-418FL. The company has released numerous e-readers over the course of the last few years and this one is the best one yet.

The Texet TB-418FL features a eight inch screen with a resolution of 1024×768. It has a the same front-lit display that Amazon and Kobo employ in their latest generation models. It has a 800MHZ processor and 4 GB of internal storage. There is no WIFI or built in bookstore, instead customers are reliant in loading in their own eBooks. It does support a myriad of formats including DOC, DJVU, TXT, PDF, EPUB, PDB, FB2, HTML, RTF, MOBI, CHM.

The vast majority of e-readers in Russia have no established ecosystem to purchase books. The market is plagued by rampant piracy and Pocketbook is the only major player that actually runs a bookstore, but tend to just have copyright free editions. iMobilco is currently one of the most notable digital bookstores in Russia and currently has 20% of the market. The largest entity is LitRes, which is the most dominant and controls 60% of the market. Sergei Anuriev, the general director of LitRes, believes that by 2015 the entire ebook segment will increase to 5%, which will be equivalent of $90 million in sales.

One of the main reasons digital sales are so paltry is because of piracy. Eksmo, Russia’s largest publishing house, recently commented that 95% of all ebooks are pirate copies. This results in close to $120 million in losses for the entire digital publishing industry. It is currently estimated that between 100,000-110,000 titles are available as pirated editions, compared to just 60,000 available legally.

The Texet TB-418FL is available now and costs 7499 rubles.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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A revolution in writing and publishing conferences will kick off tomorrow in Charleston, South Carolina, one that is working to bridge all aspects of the publishing industries to better enable professionals of every kind. Alongside self-publishing mainstays like Hugh Howey, Nook Press, and Bibliocrunch will be speakers like Stephanie Bowen of Sourcebooks and Tracey Adams of Adams Literary. Algonquin Books Executive Editor Chuck Adams will speak, as well as Penguin Random House’s Executive Editor Tracey Bernstein. Also on hand to present will be Amanda Barbara, founder of Pubslush, a crowdfunding platform for self-published authors.

The fairly evenly split representatives from both aspects of the industry demonstrates one of the factors that makes this conference unique. Unless there will be a stripe painted down the middle of the conference, relegating the traditional industry to one side and the self-publishing industry to the other, the intention of the event is to empower anyone who has any involvement at all in the world of books to better understand the nature of the industry in its current climate.

Tonight, Bibliocrunch‘s weekly Twitter chat, #IndieChat, will feature PubSmartCon speaker and industry expert Porter Anderson, as well as PubSmartcon’s Kathy Meis. The event begins at 9pm ET under the indie chat hashtag.

Good e-Reader will be covering the event, with an eye especially on understanding how events like this are bridging the gap. The traditional industry, while maybe not yet embracing indie publishing, has certainly come a long way from the days in which a vanity press-produced title was the kiss of death for an author’s future publishing career; it’s now becoming more and more common for publishers to seek out authors whose titles that have a proven following thanks to self-publishing. At the same time, the attitudes the once permeated the self-publishing industry, namely complete and unwavering artistic control and a feeling of isolation, are falling away as authors look to the traditional industry professionals for information and guidance.

A complete list of conference speakers and events can be found HERE.

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First there was, an app that allows users to create a digital “newspaper” based on the story links their social media connections share. Then came Facebook’s Paper app, which serves as a curated offering of a user’s shares from contacts. But now, The Guardian is rolling out an actual print newspaper that will contain stories curated from share algorithms.

The printed paper, which will only  be available in the UK once a month and mostly to corporate offices, is called #Open001 and will be based on computer searches for most shared content, kind of like heading to Yahoo News or Twitter and clicking on what’s trending.

While it might seem like a good idea to offer a paper that only contains the news that the public finds relevant, there are inherent flaws with a system like this for more widespread distribution. First, are social media contacts really the most trusted source for important information, or are readers really going to be wowed by a print paper that contains an unfathomable amount of news about Miley Cyrus’ latest antics? Does important news like the Arab Spring or the US Congress’ latest attacks on minorities and the poor, for example, really have the power to compete with Justin Bieber’s mug shot?

More important is the very real concern that this is a smoke and mirrors approach to keeping print newspapers alive and well. As more and more long-standing newspaper publishers shutter their doors due to lagging advertising and subscriptions, will sending out a print version of what users can see on Twitter be enough to revive an interest in the medium?

As with all areas of the publishing industry that are struggling to stay afloat, the key to survival rests in offering something different that can’t be had–often for free–from another source. A day-old piece of paper with yesterday’s trending headlines isn’t the way to keep readers’ interests.

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Amazon customers in Sweden will have to wait it out to begin buying their discounted goods and books from The current owner of the domain, a fifty-seven-year-old small businesswoman, won’t sell it, despite reports of repeated attempts from the retail giant to purchase it.

The domain, purchased in 1997 by a Stockholm-based advertising agency called Amazon AB, doesn’t actually lead to a website, but rather to a landing page that simply states it is under construction. This has caused many critics to accuse the woman of holding the domain hostage, as so-called domain squatters have done in the past; these people–whether thugs who drive up the price or smart business people who capitalize on their foresight by purchasing domains before anyone needs them–typically sell to the business or person who wants that domain for a nice profit.

What many vocal opponents who are crying “selfish” have forgotten is that it’s not uncommon for businesses to buy the various domains associated with their company names in order to protect their brands and prevent confusion for their customers. It’s highly likely that the ad agency’s clients would accidentally find themselves on the local Amazon retail portal instead of the agency should the sale of the domain go through.

Amazon has already been at work making headway into the region. The retailer recently inked a deal with a Scandinavian book distributor, Bokrondellen, to begin selling Swedish books through its other country-based domains. At this time, Swedish book customers can register through one of the other domains for book purchasing, despite Amazon’s attempts to initiate a Swedish domain.

It is shockingly easy to enter a book into the Pulitzer Prizes in Letters competition. The author (in most categories) must be an American citizen, the book must be available for sale in print, it must have first been published that year, and the person submitting the book has to send four copies of the book and a fifty dollar entry fee. That’s it.

It’s easier and cheaper to submit a book to the Pulitzer jury than it is to get a driver’s license. So why aren’t more indie authors doing it?

It may possibly be the mindset that the Pulitzer, whose journalism award is equally prestigious and possibly more well-known due to its significance in reporting, is for the elite authors only. But by the entry rules’ own guidelines, there is no requirement–unlike some other well-known and allegedly prestigious awards–that the book be traditionally published, nor that the publisher submit the book for entry. The author herself can enter her work.

Incidentally, the Pulitzers have been awarded for 2013, with Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch taking the prize for fiction. Other category winners include Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall (biography), Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin (non-fiction), and 3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri (poetry).

In wholly related news, the Amazon/CreateSpace Breakthrough Novel Awards released the quarter final list yesterday, narrowing the field even further from its original 10,000 entries in each category. In this stage, editors from Publisher’s Weekly will read and review the remaining titles, providing that valuable feedback to the authors before further eliminations take place. The final round will be determined by reader votes later this spring.


We live in a world of tremendous political upheaval and lobbying groups consistently push their own agenda. When it comes to digital books, they are less immune to being edited or certain passages, words or phrases being replaced and substituted with something else. How do we know our eBooks are not being altered when we buy them from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo or iBooks?

Mark Twain’s classic novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was first published in 1884. There are over 200 racial slurs spread throughout the book and it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the USA, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright. Alabama-based publisher, NewSouth books published in 2011 a new edition of the book that replaced certain words with more politically correct ones. The publisher went on a PR speaking tour of libraries and schools to hype the fact this particular version of the book is acceptable to be sold.

One of the big proponents that contribute to the overall problem is open sourced books that are royalty free and not have a copyright. Many publishers such as Penguin resell them as Penguin Classics, and other companies like Project Gutenberg give them away for free. Public domain books can be edited or changed without reason and then resold and distributed through other self-publishing platforms. There are no gatekeepers, no one to make the judgement call if this is best practice.

Many European countries actively erect barriers to combat the problem of changing words in a book. They have what’s known as a moral rights that has no time limit. So you are not allowed to significantly change work and publish it even if the commercial copyright has expired. Moral rights have had a less robust tradition in the United States. Copyright law in the United States emphasizes protection of financial reward over protection of creative attribution.

In a recent thread at the e-reading website MobileRead one user explained their reasons of changing the fabric of a book “I recently uploaded The Queen of Hearts (a collection of novels written in the 1850s) by Wilkie Collins to the MR library. As well as changing ‘gayety’ to ‘gaiety’ and ‘gayly’ to ‘gaily’ I also changed ‘gay’ to ‘light-hearted’. I did this because the English language has changed in the last 150 odd years. In our day ‘a gay man’ would almost certainly be read as ‘a homosexual man,’ and this is simply not what Collins meant – he would have used a different term if he had dared to mention a character’s sexual orientation at all. I did add a note to the posting that I had updated spelling and hyphenation – I also changed ‘to-day’ to ‘today’ for example.”

We are experiencing turbulent times when books are banned and publishers want to push out their own sanitized versions. Others merely clean up old English with modern day English to make books more accessible. Many people believe making any edits is a horrible violation of the author’s work and a disservice to readers. I lean towards that mentality primarily due to respecting literary history.

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Kindle Direct Publishing is a self-publishing platform that individuals and small presses use to add their eBooks for sale on the Amazon bookstore. When customers purchase an authors books, normally they did not know about it until 24 hours later. Today in a bold move, Amazon has introduced live sales data that will inform authors in real time when their book is purchased.

Self-published authors can celebrate as Amazon introduced a brand new Sales Dashboard on the KDP Reports page to give you up-to-date reporting of paid, borrowed and free orders as they are placed in Kindle stores worldwide. The new dashboard also helps you track royalties earned as payments are processed for these orders.

You can filter the Sales Dashboard and Sales & Royalty Report by title, marketplace, and timeframe. The information you currently receive in the Prior Six Weeks’ Royalties reports is now available in the new Sales Dashboard and Sales & Royalty Report.

One of the great elements about the new dashboard is the immediate feedback for authors engaged in a marketing campaign. You will be able to track sales for just that book for a set number of days while you’re running the campaign, and decide if it was worth the effort or not.

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Barnes and Noble is heavily invested in the Microsoft Windows 8 ecosystem with their Nook Reading app. It allows customers to purchase eBooks and magazines and read them on their computer or tablet, such as the Microsoft Surface. Recently, B&N expanded their Nook Press self-publishing program into a few different companies in Europe. It allows indie authors to distribute their eBooks all over the world. One of the downsides, is that if you live outside of the US and UK, you can’t read indie books on your Nook e-Reader or tablet, the only way you can is via the Windows 8 app. Microsoft has publicly announced the Nook App will be removed in the near future and a new reading app will be developed called Microsoft Reader.

Microsoft Reader will be powered by Barnes and Noble and will allow customers to read and purchase books. There will also be solid PDF functionality so readers can load in their own titles. This entire situation is going to haunt Barnes and Noble because their own customers will have to use a competitors app and implore their base to buy Windows 8 tablets to read the books on the go.

Barnes and Noble has always ran Android in their e-readers and tablets. This worked out well when the only market they focused on was the US. B&N ran software to geographically restrict the ability to buy books from outside the States and UK. This means the actual Nook hardware is tremendously limiting and can only be used in two countries. When Microsoft scuttles the Nook Windows 8 app, where does that leave readers who want to buy and read Nook books? Apparently the situation is more complex.

The only way Barnes and Noble can avoid an unpleasant situation on behest of their Microsoft overlords is if the new Nook Tablets run Windows 8. I seriously doubt this will happen, but it would be the only way Barnes and Noble can sell its hardware outside of their two core markets and allow people to buy and read books on their device. Currently the Nook Windows 8 Reading app is the ONLY way readers in Canada, France, Germany, Spain can buy and read books. Why do you think B&N continues to lose over a billion dollars on Nook hardware sales? They are not appealing to a global audience and actually prevent people from doing business with them. Going the Windows 8 route on their new devices will solve this issue and make them more accessible. If they can develop the first Windows 8 Reading Tablet, it will be a great marketing ploy. Amazon and Kobo both bill their line of Android tablets as reading tablet, running Android. Nook can say, we have the worlds first Windows 8 reading tablet.

Categories : Tablet PC News
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Most bookstores in North America and Europe have set business hours. They tend to open at 9 AM and go until 10 PM. Indie bookstores often have the standard 9-5 mentality and this sometimes prevent people who work late from buying books. A bookstore in Beijing China is bucking the standard operating hour trend and has just adopted a new 24 hour schedule.

Sanlian Taofen Bookstore in Dongcheng District has pleased local citizens by keeping their store opened 24 hours a day. The bookstore first opened their doors in 1996 and currently displays 80,000 titles across 1,500 square meters, and is one of Beijing’s cultural landmarks.

According to the Peoples Daily Fan Xi’an, president of SJPC, borrowed the 24-hour concept from Taiwanese retail chain Eslite Bookstore. “I was thrilled by the large number of readers found at night in Eslite Bookstore when I visited Taiwan in 2010,” he said.

The bookstore had actually been planning a 24 hour schedule since 2011, but lack of funds scuttled the plans. However, the extra cost has now been covered by sponsorship from the central government and Beijing Municipality — part of authorities’ broader scheme to subsidize a total of 56 bookstores around China. “We no longer have to pay value-added tax, and the government has announced 90 million yuan (14.6 million U.S. dollars) to support 55 operations like us,” said Fan.

Expanded operating hours are serving a dual purpose. One allows people who work long business hours the oportonity to shop in a bookstore during the weekday. Secondly it gives youth something else to do other than bars and nightclubs. A neighboring cafe has signed on to allow books to be taken into the cafe and refreshments into the bookstore.

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Last week Amazon acquired the largest purveyor in digital comics, Comixology. The company has been going strong since 2007 and functions as the primary distribution method for Archie, DC, GI JOE, Marvel and over 70 different publishers. These publishers are now very worried that Amazon will employ the same strong-arm tactics they did with publishers to get eBooks at rock bottom prices.

During the last few years Amazon categorically informed a large number of small and medium sized publishers that Amazon would not negotiate agency selling terms with any other publishers outside of the five initial Apple partners. The publishers were told that if they switched to an agency model for ebooks, Amazon would stop selling their entire list, in print and digital form. Amazon also played hardball with companies like S&S, HarperCollins, Hachette and Random-Penguin when the agency model was disbanded to get the best deals possible.

Amazon is a company that functions on margins and firmly embraces the wholesale methodology to their entire ecosystem. The big problem is comic publishers have no experience with outside companies mandating lower prices. A number of comic book publishers have told me off the record that they are really worried that they are going to receive a call from Amazon and inform them they have to reduce their prices. The vast majority will have no choice but to aquis to whatever new terms Amazon mandates, because they have no other resource to sell their comics.

Comixology is not the only player in town that sells digital comics, but is the definitive force when it comes to single issue comics. Amazon, Apple, B&N, Google and Kobo all sell graphic novels. Comic book lovers often are enamoured with single issues because they can stay current with the major storylines, instead of waiting a number of months for them to be packaged into a graphic novel. A few times a year Marvel and DC have big events that crossover into popular franchises. Fear Itself, AVX, Age of Ultron tend to have four or five comics coming out every single week. People want the single issues in order to really get into the story. Sadly, Comixology is really the only company to actively market them.

DC Comics is one company that has been branching out on their own lately, instead of exclusively relying on Comixology. The company made their first single comic distribution agreement with Google Books. Starting last week, readers will be able to buy all new issues every Wednesday. The company also pulled out all of their comics out of the Comixology app for the Kindle Fire, citing better sales on other platforms.

Marvel has been actively developing their own end-to-end solution where they want to get into the business of selling their own comics and not relying on 3rd parties. The first step to this was incorporating Marvel AR into the main Marvel app. This gives users the ability to use their tablets camera on a physical book to get commentary from the writers/artists or to check out animations. A few weeks ago Marvel unveiled the ability to have comics read aloud to you at South by Southwest. The big rumor is that Marvel plans on incorporating their Netflix for Comics Marvel Unlimited into their main app and also start selling comics themselves.

It is currently unknown what Amazon will do with Comixology. They might pull a Zappos or GoodReads and let them run autonomously, while incorporating some key technology into their own ecosystem. Alternatively they might elect to shutter it completely and if you want comics, Amazon will be the only game in town. I don’t know how DC or Marvel will enjoy the talks with Amazon to lower their prices or if they will physically resist it.

Categories : Digital Comic News
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