Ebooks

Reading denaturalized

Reading denaturalized
If we think of the printed book as a natural or perfected object, who are we to say that we don’t like black ink on white paper, or that rectangular books are annoying? With the relatively recent recognition of dyslexia and other learning disabilities, perhaps people are becoming slightly less afraid to speak up about their individual and idiosyncratic experiences and frustrations with ink-on-paper, but by and large the message is clear in our culture that smart people read and reading people are smart, and if reading is difficult for you, the problem is with you, and not with the book.

By one benchmark at least, we are probably halfway through the (r)evolution

A couple of major (Big Six) publishers have acknowledged that ebook revenues for them have passed 20% of their revenues. Of the 80% that remains print, I think it would be conservative to estimate that 20% of that is sold online. That’s an additional 16 percent of their business. Adding those together tells us that, for at least some very major companies, 36 percent of of their sales are being transacted online. That would leave, on average, about 64% of the sales for print sold through brick-and-mortar retail and other more minor channels. ”On average” should not be read as “typical” on a title-by-title basis. It isn’t. For immersive reading, or straight text like novels and biographies, the percentage sold in stores is already almost certainly substantially lower. My hunch, and nobody really keeps these figures (but I think I’ve found a way to get at them, which we’ll try to show at a future Publishers Launch conference) is that it may already be down to 50% print in stores for new titles.

Full article: By one benchmark at least, we are probably halfway through the (r)evolution

Penguin Stops Selling e-Books to Libraries

Penguin, which only offered backlist e-book titles for library lending, is terminating its contract with OverDrive, the library digital vendor, and starting February 10 will cease to offer any of its e-books or audiobooks to libraries. Penguin is negotiating a “continuance” agreement that will allow libraries that have already purchased Penguin e-books to continue to loan them.

In addition, Penguin has also prohibited over-the-air downloads of Penguin e-books to Kindle devices or apps. Patrons of libraries that do have Penguin e-books will have to download them to a personal computer and use a USB cable to load them into their Kindle devices. While the scope of Penguin’s concerns over library lending are not clear, it does appear that the role of Amazon devices—OverDrive has partnered with Amazon to allow library patrons to borrow e-books via wireless download to their Kindle devices—in library lending is a factor in Penguin’s decision to withdraw its e-books from OverDrive.

Full article

Library Renewal: Pioneering Electronic Content Delivery For Libraries

Ever wonder why libraries aren’t able to offer electronic content like e-books, music files and streaming multimedia as well as they offer print materials, CDs and DVDs? Library Renewal is trying to find a solution. They say it turns out, this is a surprisingly complex situation to understand, let alone improve. They do research, form strategic relationships, and create ways for you to get involved and let your voice be heard. If you believe the future of your library is tied to easy electronic content access, you have found your home base for those efforts.

Check them out at LibraryRenewal.org

Keeping library books on Kindle for extended times

Here is a blog post about the ability to keep Overdrive library books on the Kindle for extended times.

Seems that if you keep the wireless on your Kindle off library books will not expire.

The good faith way that people might see this happen is if you are using your Kindle in a remote location without access to wireless for an extended period. (e.g. Person in Navy that has Kindle at sea for 6 months)

A Crowdfunded Approach To Setting E-Books Free

Paidcontent.org story on one idea to make ebooks more readily available to libraries and readers,

"What do To Kill A Mockingbird, A Wrinkle in Time and Little House on the Prairie series have in common, besides being beloved? None of them are available legally as e-books. A new site aims to make these and other e-books available to the public (and in libraries), as DRM-free Creative Commons works, via crowdfunding.

The newly launched Unglue.it, now in alpha, is a place for individuals and institutions to join together to liberate specific e-books and other types of digital content by paying rights holders to relicense their works under Creative Commons licenses."

No More E-Books Vs. Print Books Arguments, OK?

Jonathan Franzen's in the news again, this time talking about how e-books are chiseling away at the foundations of civilization as we know it. Absurd, isn't it? That the author of two of the better regarded novels of the past decade (give or take) would be concerned about how you read his books. The problem, according to Franzen, is manifold. E-books and digital readers are a con designed to rob you of money that you could otherwise be spending on paper books; e-books are trivial non-objects that you cannot hold and fetishize; print books are durable ("I can spill water on it and it would still work!" he is quoted as saying); and, most perniciously, e-books are supplanting the gorgeous permanence of book-books. "But I do fear that it's going to be very hard to make the world work if there's no permanence like that," Franzen said. "That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government."

Full piece on NPR

Time for OverDrive to sell itself to America’s public libraries?

OverDrive—the leading supplier of popular e-books for America’s public libraries—should sell itself to its library customers or at least think about it if they are willing and able to buy.

In Rockford, Illinois, a much-needed controversy rages about the local library system’s spending almost a quarter of this year’s $1.2 million acquisitions budget on e-content from OverDrive. Will the nonelite suffer in a recession-battered city of 153,000 with high rates of poverty and joblessness? How many low-income people own e-readers, and can 50 or 100 loaner Kindles really do the trick?

But what about a related question—whether a private company should lord it over our nation’s e-libraries in the first place? Why not sell OverDrive to our public libraries, then, if they can find the financing? O maybe to a nonprofit run on their behalf, with librarians and educators setting the direction and with capable, truly involved business people advising them? Such a transaction would allow OverDrive founder and CEO Steve Potash to leave a memorable legacy to the American people while still reaping financial rewards. In one leap we could be truly on our way toward a well-stocked national digital library system for all Americans.

Full piece at Teleread

The Future of the Book Is the Stream

The Future of the Book Is the Stream
Cloud storage is paving the way for books that are sold not by title, but by time.

What Netflix's Watch Instantly has done for movies, and what Spotify has done for music, Audiobooks could do for books. The service has the potential to reframe book-buying as a transactional thing, making it less about purchasing an object, and more about purchasing an experience. In fact -- convergence!

Unglue, It Could Save Public Libraries

From Mike Cane's blog:

This, for example, is what he means by “unglue,” the concept that lies at the heart of Gluejar: “unglue (v.t.) For an author or publisher to accept a fixed amount of money from the public for its unlimited use of an e-book.”

Hellman wants us to consider, in other words, a world in which those who hold the rights to books agree to license them through a Creative Commons arrangement that protects author/publisher copyrights, enables the rights holders to maintain or pursue additional licensing agreements, and at the same time creates an environment in which public funding helps “unglue” the books for digital distribution.

Crowdfunding — something already in play within organizations as diverse as the Nature Conservancy, NPR, and Kickstarter — provides the fiscal fuel, making sure that both the creators of the book and Gluejar get compensated for their efforts.

Read it all here.

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