A video showing how the readers can read ebooks by Rohan Paxton now on various apps on an Android phone/device.Related Posts:
Oddly, Random House deciding to triple the price of its e-books for libraries is being considered a compromise. While others, like Penguin, are pulling their electronic tomes from the virtual shelves of our lending institutions, Random House is at least willing to still play ball — even if it’s making its wares prohibitively expensive. Now titles from the company start at $ 25, with many popular books going for more than $ 100, though, releases are available on day one and wont have an expiration date. Obviously, the fact that e-books can be pirated and never need to be replaced as their pages tear or bindings wear down is of concern to publishers that are losing out on a continuous stream of revenue. However, many of our libraries are underfunded and will likely balk at the new sky high prices. But, we suppose, a higher one-time cost is easier to swallow than an annual licensing fee.
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Random House, the world’s largest publisher of the kinds of books you and I read, has made some adjustments to the way it sells e-books to libraries. Notably, they have tripled the price of many titles. Librarians across the country are expressing their discontent.
The changes were telegraphed by an announcement a month ago that suggested prices would be going up soon, and most expected significant increases — but across the board popular genres and titles have gone up as much as 300%. Nothing is offered below $ 25, and some common titles are going for above $ 100.
As Kathy Petlewski, a librarian in Plymouth, puts it: “The first thing that popped into my mind was that Random House must really hate libraries.”
But the dismay at the major increase in prices is tempered by a sort of desperate gratefulness that the publisher is willing to play ball with libraries at all. The other big publishers have been less than generous: HarperCollins’ e-books “expire” after 26 uses, Hachette and Macmillan only make part of their list available, and others like Penguin and Simon&Schuster don’t allow library lending at all. So Random House, in a way, is the gold standard right now. They even make the library books available on the day they first go on sale.
(Incidentally, The Digital Shift has a great page describing publishers’ policies on this topic.)
And despite the obvious ugliness of charging obscene amounts for the purpose of making books available to the public, one can see that the publishers’ backs are against the wall. Any concession at all is to be, if not admired, at least understood as a difficult and possibly disastrous course of action.
These companies are faced, after all, with the prospect of selling one book and having it lent to a hundred people at once (though that is not the case here), never get stolen or damaged, be easily duplicated, and so on. In a way, the idea of having e-books “expire” or selling them at a significant markup is easily understood. They have to do something to make the new market at least partially reflect the old one. Should libraries and readers reap all the benefits of the digital revolution in publishing? They certainly don’t think so, but that doesn’t make them right.
It’s rare, however, that a technology or idea only benefits one side of the equation. With e-books, the big publishers can rid themselves of much of the overhead their business entails. They can reach more markets and deliver things faster. But to take advantage of this without conceding anything to the other side is an unrealistic hope that they have nevertheless cherished.
The libraries are the victims today, but let us not forget that the publishers are the victims every day. The difference is the libraries are the victims of the publishers, but the publishers are the victims of progress. Which is going to give up first?
Hopefully it won’t be the libraries. They are underfunded and often underutilized, but they are still an extremely valuable social service and should not be mischaracterized (as they often are in tech) as anachronisms. They will be changing form over the next decades, but the institution of the public library has existed for thousands of years, and will endure, though it may change. Big publishing houses, however, are a fairly modern invention and are perhaps more likely to become extinct.
[via The Digital Reader]
It’s time to set your reading free. Google eBooks is all about choice, where you can use just about any device you own to read a book, anywhere. You can read Google eBooks on the Web, Android phones/tablets, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and supported eReaders. Download Google eBooks for Android devices here: goo.gl Download Google eBooks for Apple devices here: goo.gl Visit books.google.com.auRelated Posts:
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A new startup called Booktrack launched this morning (actually, the NYT launched it yesterday), in an effort to create a whole new genre of e-books.
Booktrack creates synchronized soundtracks for e-books that aim to “dramatically boost the reader’s imagination and engagement”.
The startup’s technology pairs music scores and sound effects with text, automatically paced to one’s reading speed. Booktracks can be downloaded for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, and Android apps are on the way. Check out the Booktrack Bookshelf for available titles.
The company has teamed up with Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Park Road Post, and Full Fathom Five, and its technology is already fully integrated in the new novel ‘The Power of Six’ by Pittacus Lore (James Frey), published by HarperCollins Children’s Books.
Booktrack and publishers will share profits with participating authors, composers, and musicians, the company said in a press release.
Booktrack is backed by former PayPal and early Facebook investor (and longtime board member) Peter Thiel as well as authors who will be collaborating with the company. Other initial investors in and advisors to Booktrack include Mark D’Arcy, Director of Global Creative Solutions at Facebook, and Derek Handley, CEO and cofounder of mobile marketing and media company The Hyperfactory.
The latter will also serve as Booktrack’s chairman.
Paul Cameron, Booktrack’s co-founder and CEO, in the press release compares e-books in their current form with ‘movies with no soundtrack’, but I’m not sure I agree with that statement – reading is an entirely different way of consuming content. I’m not sure a soundtrack attached to an e-book can do anything but distract from the reading experience, actually.
Of course, I’ve only briefly tested Booktrack’s technology with a single e-book, so I haven’t entirely made up my mind yet about its potential to disrupt the e-book genre.
Wired’s Charlie Sorrel, for one, thinks the idea stinks. He makes a good case, but that won’t (and shouldn’t) stop the company from trying, evidently.
In the coming weeks and months, Booktrack says it will publish a specially-curated compendium of short stories from some of the top authors in the world, starting in September with ‘In the South’ by Salman Rushdie. Booktrack will also release editions of classics, including titles such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Peter Pan, The Three Musketeers, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet and more.
I’m very much looking forward to reading Paul Carr‘s thoughts on this one.
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If we take a can of Spam and call it “Engadget’s precooked pork meat product,” you’ll still know it’s the same mystery meat you ate for lunch, right? Under the idea of “private label rights,” authors can do just that: sell their works to others who can rebrand and resell them. This week, Amazon cracked down on duplicate ebooks in its Kindle Store, pulling titles because they “diminish the experience for customers.” One copycat who got the smack down called it a “kick in the pants” when his 22 titles got yanked. He did, however, admit he had the swift one coming. Aping authors can expect more book banning Kung Fu as Amazon continues to rid itself of “undifferentiated or barely differentiated versions of e-books.” Hi-yah!
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There’s a new ereader in town, gals and pals. The iriver Story HD will soon be available at Target for $ 139.99. While by all accounts, it’s a fine piece of hardware — 7.3 ounces, first six-inch XGA e-ink screen, SD card slot, WiFi, six week battery life — it’s the Google Books integration that will likely spur sales. This might be the best anti-Kindle/Nook ereader on the market.
Ereaders need access to a massive book marketplace to be successful. The Kindle has Amazon and the Nook B&N. The iriver Story HD is no different. However, instead of having a marketplace named after a famous bookseller, the new ereader uses Google eBookstore. This newish Google service uses the cloud for easy and convenient book storage, which allows multiple devices to share content much like the Kindle’s Whispersync.
This device marks a big milestone for Google. It’s the first dedicated ereader on the market for Google eBooks although the service is currently available on 80 Android and iOS devices. The new ereader might have a bit of trouble selling when placed next to the less expensive Kindle on Target shelves, but it is technically a stronger, more versatile device, which will likely ring true with a certain demographic.
The iriver Story HD will hit Target stores this coming Sunday, July 17 for the aforementioned $ 139.99.