Amazon Offers Advertising Opt-Out on Kindle Fire

Had I been posting this over the weekend, I would have been stomping my feet about Amazon requiring the display of advertising on the new Kindle Fire devices that are coming out later this fall. But apparently there was such a huge backlash against them, that less than 24 hours after the news of the required ads went public, they changed their mind and decided to offer an opt-out for $15. I almost wonder if the whole thing wasn’t part of a nefarious free advertising scheme.

I’m torn on this issue. Because I must verify book functionality on a number of devices, I own several different eReaders from various manufacturers, including a low-end black-and-white Kindle with the ads enabled (I was feeling cheap the day I bought it!), and I must say that they are relatively inoffensive. They are displayed at full-screen when the Kindle is off (currently the ad is for the new Kindle Fire HD), and take up maybe three-quarters of an inch at the bottom of the menu screen, and never display while reading a book.

I tend to think that, over time, Amazon would make a ton of money from selling advertising—significantly more than the opt-out fee for each device. On the other hand, I feel a bit of mild outrage that they would sell a product and then force buyers to view advertising on it. It’s like Hulu Plus—I have a subscription to it because my 8-year-old likes to watch cartoons on it, but even though I pay for it, I am still forced to watch their commercials, and, what’s worse, they have a terrible throughput rate—there is constant lag that I never experience from Netflix, which doesn’t show any commercials. My TV, laptop, and desktop computer don’t come with forced advertising from the device vendor (I expect commercials on free TV stations and even ads on free-access websites, but am similarly annoyed by commercials on paid channels); why should my eReader/tablet come with vendor-supplied ads that I am forced to view?

So yes, display all the ads you want on my ad-enabled Kindle that I bought at a discount specifically with the intent of allowing such ads; I ignore them the same way I ignore banner ads on web pages—they don’t even register in my peripheral vision—but to force ads on the reader who has already paid you hundreds of dollars for the device and continues to shell out cash on a regular basis for new books, apps, and perhaps an overpriced 4G subscription? That’s just an unacceptable business practice. Bad Amazon, no doughnut!

Read more at wsj.com.

eBooks Raise Issues for Libraries

This article by the Kearney, Nebraska, Public Library directory explains why libraries may not be able to offer the latest eBooks, and why their selections may be limited.

The highlights:

  • Random House marks up eBooks 300% for libraries.
  • Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachette (three of the publishers involved in the dispute with Amazon) won’t sell to libraries at all.
  • HarperCollins only allows 26 checkouts per book before requiring the library to purchase another—as if the book had worn out.* The library consortium voted to boycott them.
  • Penguin is being childish over their dispute with Amazon and won’t allow any new books to be sold through Overdrive, the company that handles eBooks for many public libraries. Penguin has a separate deal with Queens Public Library.

* I’ve read several studies, both formal and informal, which indicate that the average library book lasts significantly longer than 26 checkouts. Two librarians created an amusing YouTube video showing the condition of several HarperCollins books checked out from 25 to more than 100 times.

Read more at columbustelegram.com.

eBook Anti-Trust Settlement is Approved (with 3 publishers)

U.S. federal courts have approved a settlement Hachette Books Group, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins, that booksellers may set their own pricing and that publishers may not sign contracts with retailers during the next two years which restrict pricing decisions. They also may not enter into contracts (for five years) which give specific sellers a guaranteed lower price than others.

Two more publishers, Macmillan and Penguin, refused to settle and have a court date in June. I wonder how much extra profit they and Apple will make during that time.

Read more at cnn.com.

Kindle eBook Sales [in the UK] Have Overtaken Amazon Print Sales, Says Bookseller

Kindle ebook sales [in the UK] have overtaken Amazon print sales, says book seller [External Link]

5 August 2012

Amazon.com announced that their customers in the United Kingdom are buying 114 eBooks for every 100 print books sold on their site. This is probably attributed to the lower cost of many eBooks, though Amazon claimed that many print books that were sold were also inexpensive. There was no data indicating whether the eBooks that were sold were independently published or not, nor any information specifically indicating the price range of the eBooks sold as compared to print books.

Read more at guardian.co.uk.

Security Hole in Amazon’s Kindle Touch

As of the date of this article, the Kindle Touch 5.1.0 firmware still has a serious security hole. Kindle Touch owners with this version of the software are well-advised to avoid using the browser and to keep their eye out for a the next version of the firmware, 5.1.1, which is shipping with new Kindles but apparently isn’t “current” on existing devices.

Read more at h-online.com.

Amazon Acquires 62-year-old Publisher Avalon Books

Amazon has acquired Avalon Books, a publishing company founded in 1950, which publishes titles in the mystery, romance, and western genres. As a part of the purchase, Amazon acquired Avalon’s entire 3000-title backlist, which they plan to make available digitally. I wonder if they will sell them exclusively on Amazon.com, or if they will also make them available through Barnes & Noble, the iBookstore, and other venues. (View Amazon’s press release on the subject)

Read more at paidcontent.org.

 

BrainHive to Offer Schools Pay-As-You-Go Access to eBooks

BrainHive, a new eBook rental service, plans to offer eBook rental to schools. They will charge $1 per book when a student or teacher checks it out. This seems like a good way to make a much wider range of books available to small libraries, but at the same time, it could get very expensive, very quickly. BookSprung, an eBook news site, discussed this issue with regard to the 26-times checkout-limit put in place on library books by HarperCollins and noted that, based on an anecdotal survey, popular books are often checked out many dozens of times before their natural end-of-life due to wear and tear. Dozens of students might check out the same popular paper book, and it only costs the school a fixed amount for the physical product. In the “pay-per-view” scenario offered by BrainHive (and publishers who limit checkouts), however, the cost is never-ending and prevents libraries from being able to accurately predict and control costs.

Read more at schoollibraryjournal.com.

 

Stephen King Eschewing eBooks for Upcoming Novel Joyland

Stephen King, citing his childhood love of paperbacks, has decided, for the time being, to hold off on publishing his upcoming (June 2013) novel, Joyland in an electronic format. Although he also chose not to publish The Colorado Kid as an eBook, King has been involved in electronic publishing longer than most authors—dating all the way back to 2000. He has wisely not boxed himself in, by allowing that he may eventually publish the new books electronically. The referenced article includes quotes by King and further information.

Read more at theverge.com.