The future of ebooks looks like this. The Cleverest iPad Book Yet - Alice ipad app - Gizmodo http://bit.ly/cBNTcX
The international School librarians in Tokyo are organizing a one day mini conference about the future of the printed book (bleak) and the way libraries will adapt to the new realities this brings. Two guest speakers from Australia, Sherman Young and Kevin Hennah will present. If you are interested in joining us, please do. All info at http://libsjapan.wikispaces.com/Professional+Development
A hilarious comic that predicts exactly what will happen to ebooks if publishers and distributors can’t work out a reasonable way for people to purchase ebooks, and for libraries to circulate them. Go to the original site for a good view. It’s worth it.
eBooks are on the rise, which is great. As many librarians around the world, I am thrilled about the many new developments and trying to work out how to make ebooks available to my patrons. That’s turning out to be a bit harder than I expected. Here are the main hurdles I am encountering
Where to buy? Part 1 What’s on offer?
There are many different places where ebooks are available but no real centralized locations as of now. Some have (Amazon) or promise to have (Apple’s iBooks store, Blio, Sony) a huge selection but this is a battle being fought as we speak. An added issue for me as an elementary school librarian is that the selection of ebooks available for elementary age kids is very lacking.
Where to buy? Part 2 How to access content - the eReader wars.
As librarians we have no interest in any content that can only be read on a dedicated ebook reader. We can’t expect every patron to have a Kindle and we certainly can’t expect libraries to purchase a variety of different eReaders to make available to their patrons. We need ebooks that are “open” and can be read on any device from phones to computers to dedicated ereaders.
How much to pay?
Buying ebooks is a bit like buying a carpet in a Turkish Bazaar. Sellers are trying to get what they can get away with. Follett sells an ebook version of Chris van Allsburgh`s Polar Express for 18.95USD whereas the actual hardcover is available for 16.10USD. This probably has more to do with Houghton Mifflin than Follett, but for me the effect is the same. Truth be told, I wonder if on the whole ebooks are sold for less or more than their print equivalents. With the costs of printing eradicated and of distributing and storing largely reduced, the price of ebooks should be a less. eBooks should provide an opportunity for books to become more democratic. 9.99USD is a number often heard. That feels expensive.
How to circulate?
Most library circulation software I am aware of will not circulate ebooks that were not purchased through the Library software company provider. Our library uses Follett’s Destiny which is a great program BUT does not allow for any ebooks not purchased from Follett`s bookselling services to be circulated. This is a huge issue. It will be resolved either by Follett receiving so many complaints from its users that it will change its software to enable circulating other types of ebooks or by libraries adopting new software that will either replace or run alongside programs such as Destiny that will allow libraries to circulate.
Where are the books stored?
Follett’s model of selling ebooks involves selling a library the right to access the ebook on a server Follett owns and controls. There is no download to one of our school servers involved. This seems odd to me. I believe our library, once we purchase the book, should have full control over it. What happens if Follett goes bust? We loose all our ebooks? I would feel better if the actual data are stored on my school computer.
Future compatability issues?
Is anyone thinking ahead as to whether ebooks will be readable on future releases of ereaders? Is there a risk that an ebook I buy today will be unreadable ten years from now because technology has upgraded? For sure annoying format upgrade incompatibilities are part of our lives, but if the eBook upgrade frequency will be anywhere near video/photo/audio format changes we have a problem.
Better ebooks and the world without print book libraries
New ebook technologies are being released at a breathtaking pace. This is good news. The Kindle was a nice little thing when it first came out but we shall soon look back on it as a quaint old thing. Yes, I am a librarian and yes I love printed books, but do I ever love ebooks as well. I am looking forward to the time when the ebook technology will be so much better than print books that the discussion over which one is better will be moot. Bring me a children’s picture book that I can carry in my pocket that I can choose to either read myself, have read to me (in many possible languages), record myself reading it and having the book correct my pronunciation if necessary, throw in a pico projector that will allow to project it big plasma screen TV size on a wall or (why not) hologram it out in front of me, add the ability to carry multiple hundreds of such books in one small device, and I will think twice about spending my money on the print version of that same book.
Why should we care? Why do we need laws to protect libraries and readers?
All ebook publishers, distributors and hardware manufacturers have the end consumer in mind. Justifiably so, their first focus is on gaining market share and establishing format supremacy in a competition targeting financially potent single end users. However, many readers don’t have the luxury to purchase (print or electronic) books and are dependent on libraries to help them access these expensive sources of entertainment and information. Currently major ebook industry players are developing ebooks in a way that, possibly unintentionally but also effectively, shuts out libraries from purchasing and making ebooks available to the wider public in an efficient and cost effective way. We need our lawmakers to make sure ebooks can be accessible to library patrons everywhere in just the same way the printed book was. Yes, we need pirate proof technology to make sure that the rights of the author, editor, publisher and distributor are honored and that all receive fair payment for their efforts. But if we ignore the many readers relying on libraries to bring books within their reach, I have no doubt the share of illegal ebook reading will be much bigger than it needs to be. Libraries are partners to authors, publishers, distributors and ebook hardware producers. As in any good partnership, there is a lot to be won if all partners understand and accommodate the others` needs.
Developers, get ready: Amazon has just announced the Kindle Development Kit for building active content for their world-famous e-book reader.
The KDK will include sample codes, interfaces and documentation for the Kindle. Developers can work on and preview their work in the Kindle Simulator (included with the KDK), which simulates either the Kindle or the Kindle DX on PC, Mac or Linux desktop computers. The app size limit is capped at 100 MB, and anything over 10 MB must be downloaded directly to a computer and then to the Kindle via USB.
When it comes time for selling programs in the Kindle Store, content can be priced in one of three ways: monthly subscription, a one-time purchase or (my personal favorite) free. And for those who do decide to charge, 70% of proceeds go to the developer, while the other 30% falls in the pocket of the online retail giant.
If you submit your e-mail address, you’ll get an note as to when you can download it from Amazon, some time in February.
January 20th, 2010
Amazon gives publishers a bigger royalty cut for Kindle; Apple Tablet defense?
The goal: Amazon is getting a jump on any looming Kindle threat from Apple and a bevy of other companies entering the e-reader race.
The company said that the 70 percent royalty option is in addition to the existing program for the Kindle Digital Text Platform (DTP). The latest royalty option will be available June 30.
For Amazon the royalty could solve a few issues. First, it can placate publishers and authors who are worried about their revenue stream in the age of e-books. There’s a worry that Amazon could get too much clout and dictate pricing to publishers. In addition, it’s hard not to notice the timing here. Amazon is rolling out a new royalty program exactly a week before Apple is set to unveil its expected tablet effort. Whether Apple’s gadget is called the Apple Tablet, iTablet, iSlate or whatever it’s going to be a threat to Amazon’s Kindle.
Simply put, it makes a lot of sense for Amazon to throw authors and publishers a bone while the likes of Harper Collins, which the Wall Street Journal reported is talking to Apple, and others hang out with Steve Jobs & Co.
Amazon outlined its latest deal for publishers this way:
Delivery costs will be based on file size and pricing will be $0.15/MB. At today’s median DTP file size of 368KB, delivery costs would be less than $0.06 per unit sold. This new program can thus enable authors and publishers to make more money on every sale. For example, on an $8.99 book an author would make $3.15 with the standard option, and $6.25 with the new 70 percent option.
According to Amazon, authors get 7 percent to 15 percent of the list price for physical books and 25 percent of net for digital books. Obviously, the 70 percent royalty looks like a good deal, but there are a few catches.
The biggest issue is the author or publisher list price has to be between $2.99 to $9.99 and be 20 percent below the lowest physical book price. Meanwhile, the title needs to have the broad set of Kindle features such as text-to-speech.
In a nutshell, Amazon is dangling this royalty carrot to keep e-book prices down and make sure it can offer more features.
Needless to say, Apple may dangle its own royalty plan next week and rest assured its tablet gizmo will bring out a few new features.
Add it up and Amazon’s royalty program is a mix of offense and defense. The Kindle has a huge bullseye on its back. At CES, there were a bevy of e-readers launched—perhaps too many—but Apple’s tablet could be the big worry.
In a research note, Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Marianne Wolk wrote:
At CES 2010 we met with more than a dozen eBook retailers and OEMs. The market is expected to explode this year, with an estimated 10 million eReaders shipping in 2010 compared to <4 million shipped in 2009. While Amazon is currently the leader with ~40% global market share and ~1.6 mln Kindles shipped in 2009, these retailers with whom we met are looking to unseat the Kindle from its perch on top – or at least to gain a piece of the global market. We see the device market evolving in two directions: a mass market for mainstream readers and niche markets for education and business readers. We believe content availability will be a key driver determining the winners in the eBook market; while standards are emerging, DRM issues have not been solved entirely and publishers continue to look for ways to maintain pricing power in a digital media world. A wild card for the eReader device market is the rumored Apple tablet, as it may be a substitute for a separate eReader (although no details are currently available regarding the company’s strategy for books).
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A great overview of the current state of the market.
TBI Research claims Amazon currently sells 90% of all e-books - http://bit.ly/4Ivrdq
This is the issue for libraries
1. Amazon has 90% of the ebooks market
2. Amazon’s DRM technology does not allow for library circulation
Turns out reading an actual book makes you smarter, as long as it is intelligent and has some complexity in structure and vocabulary. That means that my current read “The Dirt on Motley Crue” might not make it.
Apple’s new iSlate is supposed to hit the stands in March 2010. I wonder whether the Mac boys will have an exciting contribution to make to how we read ebooks. Will the iSlate do for ebooks do what the iPod did for music?
Check out this article in the Australian
With the availability of Pico Projectors now I believe it is only a matter of time until someone integrates this with an ebook reading device that will give picture books a real run for the money. If the projected picture can be of equal quality and bigger than a picture book, with maybe the added options of having the book read to your child, have your child read along with it or record your child reading the book, that would make for a better product than just a traditional paper printed picture book. Right?