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.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.