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Why iBooks Author is a big deal for publishers
Apple’s one-hour event Thursday seemed fairly simple: There were three major announcements, iBooks 2, iBooks Author, and a new iTunes U app. But the ramifications of what Apple announced may go a lot further than simply changing the way we educate children. (What, was the future of the human race not enough for you?)
Why e-books will be much bigger than you can imagine
The e-book business will grow faster than people think. Innovations from Amazon and Apple have increased the velocity at which we consume e-books, but there are two emergent behaviors that will increase the rate of overall consumption.
An eBook is not a Book
"In this transitional time, public libraries should aim for the future and invest in toolsets and programming that help their communities produce and participate in new digital works, not simply consume them. To make something is to understand something. If you build a radio from parts in your garage, you’ll have a very different relationship with every radio you listen to from that day on. A tomato you grow in your garden will always taste better than the tomato you bought from the grocery store, and you’ll develop a deep understanding of what that tomato is after you’ve nurtured its growth for months. Every time you have tomatoes at a restaurant after you’ve grown your own you’ll have a different understanding of tomatoes; what they are, where they came from, and the potential they hold. To help our communities taste better tomatoes, public libraries need media labs, hacker spaces, coworking spaces, expert staff, and a long term investment in technologies supporting community creativity."
Pirated books show up in Android Market, Google quickly removes them
Casual piracy is an unfortunate problem in the Android Market, and it looks like it’s only growing with Android’s popularity. According to Paid Content, popular novels like the Harry Potter and Vampire Diaries, as well as titles from Stephen King and Patricia Cornwell. Google promptly removed the books after being alerted, but not before thousands of illicit copies were downloaded. The apps were free from a publisher calling itself “UKER”, and presumably hoped to make money off of advertising.
Want to take out the new John Grisham? Get in line. As of Friday morning, 288 people were ahead of you in the Fairfax County Public Library system, waiting for one of 43 copies. You’d be the 268th person waiting for “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” with 47 copies. And the Steve Jobs biography? Forget it. The publisher, Simon & Schuster, doesn’t make any of its digital titles available to libraries.
Frustration is building on all sides: among borrowers who can’t get what they want when they want it; among librarians trying to stock their virtual shelves and working with limited budgets and little cooperation from some publishers; and among publishers who are fearful of piracy and wading into a digital future that could further destabilize their industry. In many cases, the publishers are limiting the number of e-books made available to libraries.
This Metafilter Post points to Diverting the Amazon. "And this is where Hugh Howey had a stroke of genius. He has effectively redefined the 99c price point, reinventing it as the region of high-quality short stories/novellas. His Wool series is essentially a series of related short stories, longer than chapters, but not full books in their own right. They are a return to the spirit of pulp fiction in the 1950s, engaging stories that can be read in a single setting and continued if the reader chooses to buy the next one in the series. Howey has been criticised for short-changing readers, as he doesn’t describe these books as short stories with roughly 20-25,000 words a piece, but he points out that if someone purchases all five novellas they will have spent 4.95 on 100,000 words, a fair price by anyone’s estimate."
Nancy Pearl and Amazon.com have struck a deal to republish some lesser recognized titles that are favorites of the Book Lust author and librarian hero.
However, not everyone is thrilled with the idea. As reported in The Seattle Times:
...Overnight, this 67-year-old Seattle grandmother has become a greedy betrayer of the small, sometimes-struggling, bookshops that so supported her. "Yes," says J.B. Dickey, owner of the Seattle Mystery Bookshop about such an assessment. "By aligning herself with Amazon, she's turning her back on independents. Amazon is absolutely antithetical to independent bookselling, and, to many of us, truth, justice and the American way."
If things sound like they've gotten a little heated over Pearl's latest project, they have.
On Wednesday, Amazon.com announced it was issuing "Nancy Pearl's Book Lust Rediscoveries series, a line of Pearl's favorite, presently out-of-print books to share with readers hungry for her expert recommendations."
About six books a year would be published in versions that include print books and eBooks, says the Seattle-headquartered merchandising Goliath that in 2010 had sales of $34 billion, or about $1,077 per second.
LAST year, Christmas was the biggest single day for e-book sales by HarperCollins. And indications are that this year’s Christmas Day total will be even higher, given the extremely strong sales of e-readers like the Kindle and the Nook. Amazon announced on Dec. 15 that it had sold one million of its Kindles in each of the three previous weeks.
But we can also guess that the number of visitors to the e-book sections of public libraries’ Web sites is about to set a record, too.
And that is a source of great worry for publishers. In their eyes, borrowing an e-book from a library has been too easy. Worried that people will click to borrow an e-book from a library rather than click to buy it, almost all major publishers in the United States now block libraries’ access to the e-book form of either all of their titles or their most recently published ones.