Kindle, Nook, and other eBook information in the News
The following articles are a few I selected from a Google News alert I have set up. I'll add more as time permits me to actually read the news feed! :)
6 December 2012
Amazon has introduced the Kindle to its Brazil site, making available to customers there more than 1500 free Portuguese books (they are free to everyone else, as well). They have also created a Portuguese version of the Kindle app for various platforms.
4 December 2012
Publisher Hachette has joined HarperCollins in complying with the anti-trust settlement agreement regarding the eBook price-fixing conspiracy. Other publishers are still planning to fight the lawsuit.
13 September 2012
Book publishing company Hachette has announced that they will be raising the wholesale price on their books to libraries by a whopping 220%, joining other publishers in the eBook pricing conspiracy against libraries and other consumers.
10 September 2012
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!
8 September 2012
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.
- 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.
6 September 2012
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.
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.
16 July 2012
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.
4 June 2012
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.
4 June 2012
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)
3 June 2012
An interesting story about how mindless, automated eBook conversion can seriously screw up a book. In this case, every time the word 'kindle' appeared in the book, it was replaced, in the Barnes & Noble version, with the word 'nook.' So rather than being kindled, lights were 'nooked.' Make sure you proofread your books—every single word—before publishing!
2 June 2012
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.
1 June 2012
This is an article detailing Apple's continued and laughable denials that they colluded with publishers to fix prices on eBooks, forcing buyers to choose between overpaying for an eBook, buying a sometimes-cheaper physical book, or simply not buying the book at all. Pricing an eBook too high is likely to result in a loss of income to a greater number of authors, as readers must limit their purchases to their budgets, which may be significantly lower than the time they have available to read lower-priced books. Personally, I'd buy ten eBooks priced at $5 before I spent $18 on one.
31 May 2012
Quark XPress 9.3 has an update that supposedly allows direct export to Kindle format. Given the quality of the final file that other similar applications, like InDesign, produce, I will remain skeptical until I see a high-quality product produced by a typical Quark user. However, Quark has, traditionally, been a high-quality print publication tool, so maybe they'll manage to produce something that works for eBook conversion. We shall see!
31 May 2012
This article discusses Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin's ongoing fight against the US Department of Justice's accusations of collusion in price-fixing. Three other publishing companies (Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and HarperCollins) have settled, which is rather telling. It is interesting to note, that despite claiming they did not conspire to fix prices, their arguments sound an awful lot like they are trying to justify their scheming, rather than deny it.
30 May 2012
This article explains well the issues being dealt with in the case brought against Apple and and multiple publishing companies by the US Department of Justice, which accuses them of price-fixing and collusion.
30 May 2012
Sony seems to think that they can recover their eBook market share through the PS3 platform. Perhaps they are right—I can see a market for comic books and interactive story books for children. And perhaps, as the apparently-Photoshopped image in the article indicates, it would be appropriate for their mobile devices. As a parent I would be more inclined to encourage my son to read eBooks if I didn't have to buy a separate eReader device for him, and it just worked on his portable gaming platform.
30 May 2012
OverDrive, an eBook distributor, announced they will produce a browser-based eBook reader later this year. I look forward to checking this technology out, as it should, in theory (if it is truly browser-based and doesn't rely on Flash or other technologies), allow Kindle Fire owners to read ePub-formatted books without downloading and installing applications that take up valuable storage space.
29 May 2012
This American Libraries magazine article discusses the privacy issues that have been raised by Amazon's collection of library patron information and their unsolicited marketing of books to borrowers.
29 May 2012
This is just a short AppNewser.com article with links to pages and sites that authors may find useful.
27 May 2012
This article discusses Houston Public Library's policy of lending eBooks for only 14 days, as compared to 6 weeks for print books. I was less interested in the geo-centric Houston news than I was to learn that a public library lends books for 6 weeks! Wow! At the time this article was published, 235 patrons were waiting to check out on of the 7 eBook copies of Fifty Shades of Grey and 74 were waiting to check out one of the 16 copies of Grisham's The Litigators.
26 May 2012
This article discusses the growth of eBook sales among the older demographic, citing a poll which indicated that individuals over 55 were more likely to own an eReader than people aged 18-24. What really makes this article worth of mention is this winner-of-a-quote on the true benefit of eReaders: "Now, not only can you read filthy books without anyone noticing, you can read filthy books in an 18-point font."
25 May 2012
Independent Publishers Group and Amazon have come to terms after their three-month-long disagreement, and IPG-distributed books are now, once again, available via Kindle.
24 May 2012
This article discusses a poll of nearly two thousand British citizens regarding eBook use. It seems to be attempting to assert that the sole reason people buy and use eReader devices is to read books they otherwise wouldn't read. I think, however, that this is a case of correlation not necessarily equaling causation. Just because someone buys a book they might be embarrassed to own, whether it is the latest release in the Twilight series or the latest erotic novel that is sweeping the globe, it certainly does not automatically follow that the individual purchased the book for that reason and that reason only!
24 May 2012
Apple, in their defense against the US Department of Justice's price-fixing accusations, claims that the government is siding with the monopoly, and that they did nothing wrong by forcing the publishers' hands. The article includes links to PDFs of the original DoJ complaint and Apple's response.
23 May 2012
This LA Times article points out, with a number of links, the apparent conflict of interest between British bookstore chain Waterstones and Amazon. I, too, would be interested in knowing exactly what Waterstones is thinking, or what real benefit they are getting out of this. Is this an indication that perhaps Amazon will be purchasing the bookstore chain? I cannot otherwise imagine what benefit there would be to carrying not only a competitor's product, but a competitor's product which specifically enables your customers to never be your customers again.
23 May 2012
An American Libraries magazine article which speculates that by the end of 2012 libraries may be spending 20% of their collection budgets on digital content, and possibly 50% by the end of three years. The views of a number of parties in the book industry are discussed, including the reader, the writer, the bookseller, the publisher, and the librarian.
22 May 2012
The US Government Printing Office has made an agreement with Barnes & Noble to sell approximately 30 federal eBooks on the bn.com site. The US GPO has over 200 eBooks available through other venues.
1 May 2012
After (or as a part of) settling their lawsuit against Barnes & Noble, Microsoft will be investing $300 million (plus another $305 million in future investments) in a new subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, giving them a 17.6% equity stake in the company.
It makes me wonder if perhaps Microsoft decided that their patent-infringement claims weren't so solid, after all. In any case, I'm hard-pressed to believe that anything good will come out of this for the consumer.
29 April 2012
A well-written and informative description of the history of the eBook pricing conspiracy between Apple and traditional publishers.
29 April 2012
A short news story referencing the 79-person waiting list for the eBook version of Fifty Shades of Grey at a Michigan public library. The incredible popularity of this poorly-edited book (which was originally Twilight fan-fiction on public message boards) speaks volumes regarding the potential market for the erotica genre in eBooks.
22 February 2012
Amazon has taken down the Kindle editions of all Independent Publishers Group titles after the two companies failed to come to an agreement regarding terms for sale of digital products. IPG indicated that Amazon wished to change the terms to substantially change the revenue that authors would see. IPG titles continue to be sold through Barnes & Noble.
18 February 2012
The National Reading Campaign in Canada sponsored, between 23 and 29 January, 2012, the second annual National Book Count. During this time eBooks made up 10% of books sold in English Canada. These numbers were compiled from a number of sources and compared with the 2011 numbers. Take a look at the press release, available at The Canadian Children's Book Centre. The numbers are not necessarily perfect, especially as they are for only a single week, but they are interesting.
3 February 2012
Microsoft has dropped one of the five claims it made against Barnes & Noble in its patent-infringement lawsuit.
In March of last year, Microsoft filed suit, alleging various infringements. The one just dropped dealt with the use of tab controls. Microsoft asserts that the claim was dropped to "streamline" the issues, and that it was not a concession on its part. Barnes & Noble, on the other hand, argued that tab controls simply were not patentable to begin with.
While I am not an attorney of any sort, much less a patent attorney, it seems to me that by dropping this issue, Microsoft has neatly avoided a ruling that Barnes & Noble's declaration was, in fact, correct, thereby saving themselves the patent.
There are now only three claimed infringements remaining.
7 December 2011
Amazon has acquired Marshall Cavendish's 450 children's book titles to compete with Barnes & Noble's Nook Kids collection. The introduction of the Kindle Fire allows Amazon to compete effectively in this market, where they were unable to do so with the older black-and-white Kindles with limited graphics capability.
21 September 2011
OverDrive has begun adding Kindle compatibility to all of the libraries in its network. This opens up options to Kindle owners which were previously only available to owners of other devices. Of course, your library still has to be a member of the OverDrive network in order for you to make use of this new feature!
14 July 2011
The US Government Printing Office has partnered with Google to expand to more than 200 the number of federal eBooks available through Google's eBookstore.
20 May 2011
A Wired Magazine article indicating that in the United States Amazon is selling 105 eBooks for every print book it sells.
5 April 2011
The US Government Printing Office will be offering federal eBooks through the Google eBookstore.
21 March 2011
Microsoft has filed suit against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn International Holdings, and Inventec Corp., claiming infringement of the following:
- The use of tabs for navigation in a control window
- Showing download status superimposed on a page
- The ability to select text
- The ability to annotate text text without changing the underlying document.
- The display of page content before the background is displayed
Where does the patent office find the people who approve patents for these things? This is utterly ridiculous! Not only should Microsoft be ashamed of themselves for patenting things like this, U.S. citizens as a whole should be appalled that we've allowed things to reach this preposterous level.