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Archives: June 2010

Google Editions Pricing Still Up in the Air


Google has been touting its Google Editions for the last couple of months. It could be any day now, that the online giant goes head to head with Apple and Amazon and releases its own browser based eBook store.

Pricing is still up in the air, according to a piece today in the Wall Street Journal. “Google is still deciding whether it will follow the model where publishers set the retail price or whether Google sets the price.”

Google has also been pushing the fact that its books will be readable across devices, which is cool considering that devices like the Kindle and Nook are tied to their respective retailers. However, the launch of the iPad has driven the launch of apps across devices and now it doesn’t feel so restricted. These days, you can read books from Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and the iBookstore through apps on various devices. Still it will be interesting to see what Google brings to the party.

It could open things up for independent books store. From the WSJ, “It will also allow book retailers–even independent shops–to sell Google Editions on their own sites, giving partners the bulk of the revenue.”

We anxiously await what Google will bring.

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Kindle To Release Previewer For Web Viewing

amazonlogoed23.pngAmazon’s Kindle team is busy on development this week. First, the company announced that is was adding interactive features to the Kindle.

Now Kindle is releasing the “Kindle Previewer for HTML 5″ which will let book shoppers preview a sample Kindle eBook from a web browser. Prior to this release, this preview screen was only available on Kindle eReader devices and on the Kindle apps. Like the “Look inside this book” feature, now shoppers can click to preview a Kindle book online.

Kindle is also releasing Kindle Web Widgets, so that authors and publishers can embed their Kindle books and post them on their websites as a widget. It is designed specifically for HTML 5 and CSS3.

VTech Releases eReader For Kids

There are a lot of new eReaders coming out these days, but VTech has a new one designed especially for kids. This week the company released the VReader, a $60 eReader device aimed at kids aged 3 to 7.

The toy has an animated screen with a QWERY keyboard and is interactive to help phonics and vocabulary lessons. The book comes preloaded with one title and each additional title is $20.

The New York Times was underwhelmed, “Unfortunately, the overall experience isn’t nearly responsive enough to keep up with a child’s active imagination, at least with the two books I tried, Shrek’s Vacation and What’s That Noise. Each was presented with sluggish page turns and choppy animation, and the activities are packed with instructions.”

Kimberly Reeves: Digital Writer Spotlight

webooklogo.pngAuthor Kimberly Reeves won support at one community writing site, earning readers’ trust chapter by chapter. Follow this link to read more of her work at the online writing site, WEbook.

WEBook president Ardy Khazaei praised her work: “Reeves has been remarkably prolific and successful on WEbook since joining in December 2009. The first page of her complete novel, Innocence and Arrogance, was one of the three highest rated submissions to PageToFame (our unique, reader-driven, book selection process) . Kimberly is also a ‘Top Writer’ in the WEbook community, having uploaded 32 projects and received over 2,500 comments on her work. We’re very excited to see talented writers like Kimberly getting the recognition that they deserve from readers and other writers on WEbook.”

Welcome to eBookNewser’s feature, Digital Writer Spotlight. We’ve launched this feature to recognize the established and emerging voices within online communities. On a regular basis, we will feature hand-picked reading recommendations from community leaders at writing sites–introducing readers to the world of socially networked fiction. If you want to nominate a writing community, email eBookNewser with your recommendation.

Read more

EBookNewsers Respond To Sony Library Program

LibraryFinder_v3_lg.jpgSony’s new eReader Library program which trains librarians how to use eReaders, has sparked debate from eBookNewser readers.

While the move seems to be a promotional way for Sony to sell devices to libraries and for librarians to get a little extra training in eBooks, some eBookNewer commenters questioned why librarians should get this special training. Wmartin46 wrote, “You and I get an e-Reader in a box, with a few instructions, and we’re up and running in an hour or so .. but a ‘librarian’ needs ‘special training.’ Why? What makes it so hard for them to not be ‘just like the rest of us’?”

PublicLibrarian defended the librarians training needs, highlighting that, “Our collection of ebooks is relatively new, and we have had many who aren’t certain how to use it. Training in how to access the ebooks, how to use the devices, and how to ‘check out’ the books and do the transfer would be useful indeed.”

And commenter Abbey pointed out that, “The patrons they serve expect exemplary service and knowledgeable staff…Seeking formalized training does not put anyone on a pedestal. If anything, it shows that they care enough to do a competent job.”

Fox News Thinks eBooks Trump Libraries

Fox News is attacking libraries and saying that eBooks and the Internet have made libraries obsolete. This is a scary thought. Libraries are supposed to provide access to books and information and learning tools to all citizens in this country and should not be privatized.

The Internet and eBooks are excellent resources, but not everyone has access to them. Even with eReader prices dropping and lots of free eBooks, the cost of eReaders and the cost of laptops and Internet connections should not be a required cost of entry for citizens wanting to read. In fact, many citizens get online and access digital books at their local libraries. What next, closing schools and leaving it up to the Internet?

Our sister blog Galley Cat has some great ideas about getting involved in your local library. “Between misguided news articles and budget cuts, your local library needs your help. Check out our massive Best Library People on Twitter list to support the librarians near you.”

Via Galley Cat.

Department of Justice Takes On Kindle On Campus


The U.S. Department of Justice
and the U.S. Department of Education are taking on eReaders in universities, claiming that the Kindle DX may violate the “Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990″ and Section 504 of the “Rehabilitation Act of 1973″ in the classroom, because the eReaders are not designed for students that are blind or have low vision abilities.

According to the Act, if universities have technology in classrooms, then they must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice and Russlynn Ali, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education authored an open letter to university presidents across the country raising concerns that the Kindle DX is not fully accessible to students with disabilities and therefore universities should not endorse the readers.

From the letter, “The Department of Justice recently entered into settlement agreements with colleges and universities that used the Kindle DX, an inaccessible, electronic book reader, in the classroom as part of a pilot study with, Inc. In summary, the universities agreed not to purchase, require, or recommend use of the Kindle DX, or any other dedicated electronic book reader, unless or until the device is fully accessible to individuals who are blind or have low vision, or the universities provide reasonable accommodation or modification so that a student can acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as sighted students with substantially equivalent ease of use.”

Perhaps Ray Kurzweil’s text-to-speech Blio software will help address these challenges.

Sriram Peruvemba Shows Off Bendable E Ink Screen

In the above video, Sriram Peruvemba, the head of marketing at E Ink, demonstrates a very cool eInk screen in which the plastic is bendable and unbreakable.

He also addresses the current state of eInk and where the market is going.

Via Jose Afonso Furtado.

Amazon Releases 70% Royalty Option Through Kindle


After driving down eBook prices across the business, Amazon has a new publisher/author -friendly royalty option. The new option lets publishers or authors who use the Kindle Digital Text Platform (DTP) choose a 70% royalty option of the list price, net of delivery costs. But there is a long checklist of requirements to qualify for the royalty rate, including offering competitive prices against the book’s print price.

To qualify for the 70% royalty option, the list price must be $2.99-$9.99. In addition, the list must be at least 20% below the lowest list price for the print book. And the title has to be released in all geographies for which the author or publisher has rights. The title must be included in a broad set of features in the Kindle Store, such as text-to-speech. And note, that this list of features will grow over time as Amazon continues to add more functionality to Kindle. And finally books must be offered at or below price parity with competition.

Delivery costs are based on file size, and pricing is set at $0.15/MB. According to Amazon, the average DTP file size of 368KB, would be less than $0.06 per unit sold for delivery. Amazon gives an example of what they royalty would look like in the press release, “…on an $8.99 book an author would make $3.15 with the standard option and $6.25 with the new 70 percent option.”

The 70% royalty option is for in-copyright works and is unavailable for works published before 1923. And the 70% royalty option is currently only available for books sold to United States customers. Still, publishers must release it in all territories they have rights in.

Literary Agency Foundry Open To eBook Deals


EBookNewser paid a visit to literary agency Foundry to catch up on eBooks and see what agents are thinking about digital books.

Peter McGuigan, co-founder of the agency, was unimpressed with Amazon’s new interactive book components that came out this week. Equating the hype of interactive books to the CD ROM craze of the 1990s, McGuigan said that once a book starts having animation and moving pictures, it becomes less of a book and more like TV or film.

“We’ve lost some great book writers to screenwriting in Hollywood,” quipped McGuigan. “Interactive books could be very cool, but they stop being books when the start having video and other interactive features.”

While McGuigan was underwhelmed with the flashy new interactive eBook concepts being pitched to him and his agency by publishers, he is not opposed to plain old “vanilla” text based eBooks. Unlike Andrew Wylie who recently revealed that eBook deals are “currently on hold across the board” at his famous agency, McGuigan sees eBooks as a great opportunity for the right title. “Not everyone is going to buy an eReader, but having an eBook version is just another way to sell a title to someone that has one,” he said.

McGuigan continued, “Some people won’t pay $27.95 for a hardcover, but they might pay $8 for a paperback. You sell a lot more paperbacks than hardcovers, so for a bestseller it is good to have both. You expand your audience. Even though you make less per unit, you are selling a lot more copies. eBooks are just another way to sell a book.”