Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Authors Suing Penguin’s Self-Publishing Platform


As if Penguin’s legal battles in the Department of Justice anti-trust lawsuit involving several major publishing houses and Apple wasn’t bothersome enough, a whole new litigation has cropped up. Three self-published authors are suing the publisher over the business practices of its self-publishing platform Author Solutions.

According to an article in Courthouse News Service, Kelvin James, Jodi Foster and Terry Hardy are suing the platform and its parent company for profiting from errors that it made to authors’ manuscripts during the upload process. They allege that Author Solutions’ team makes errors during the publishing process then charges authors sometimes hundreds of dollars to correct those mistakes.

The complaint filed on behalf of the plaintiffs states:   “Most of Author Solutions’ earnings are derived from its publishing and marketing services. These services, which can cost authors tens of thousands of dollars, likewise fail to deliver what they promise: more book sales and more opportunities for authors.

“Therefore, even while Defendant Author Solutions prominently markets itself on its website as ‘[t]he leading indie publishing company in the world,’ authors often discover, once it is too late, that Author Solutions it is not an ‘indie publisher’ at all. It is a printing service that fails to maintain even the most rudimentary standards of book publishing, profiting not for its authors but from them.”

A federal class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of residents in California and New York who sought Author Solutions’ services for self-publishing, and is seeking $5 million in damages.

Authors Suing Penguin’s Self-Publishing Platform is a post from: E-Reader News

Archos Titanium HD – Dead After Just 34 Days

Last month I posted a review of the Archos Titanium HD, a cheap Android tablet with a high resolution IPS screen like the Apple iPad. In the review I was on the fence with regard to recommending the Archos Titanium HD. On one hand I really like the IPS HD screen. It’s super clear and [...]

2012 eBook Sales Increased by 66% in the UK


2012 saw the rise of the digital book and the entire book industry in the United Kingdom is growing. Total digital sales increased by over 66% to £411 million, meanwhile total fiction digital sales up 149% to over £172 million.

Richard Mollet, chief executive at the Publishers Association mentioned that schools and education are seeing the largest growth, but still don’t account for very much. “It’s still early days with schools, but their digital sales were up 50%, although only 4% of the total market,” he said. “In academic, digital sales were up 23% to 16% of the total market, and the overall market was just over £1bn, up 0.5% on the previous year. Because we’re such a diverse sector, there are a lot of areas where things can go right to give us the same performance next year. The underlying trend with digital innovation shows we are set fair to perform well, and if the wider economic performance improves in the coming year, that will help.”

One of the big reasons why digital soared to such great heights was the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Many people ended up buying e-Readers with promotions that gave them the entire series loaded on their device and carried an anonymity factor. Publishers will have to innovate in new technologies in order to facilitate further growth.

Another big reasons digital caught on in a big way was Barnes and Noble and Amazon entering the market and offering their entire line of hardware and eBook distribution systems. This gave the devices more retail visibility and as the companies battled each other for market share, it lowered the entry level prices.

Over 2,115 book publishers registered for VAT in 2012, which shows that the UK digital scene is vibrant with new players displacing the ones that go out of business. The entire UK book industry saw a modest 4% growth in both digital and tangible.

2012 eBook Sales Increased by 66% in the UK is a post from: E-Reader News

Samsung Files New Patent for the eBook Page Turn

samsung page patent

A few months ago Apple fired the first salvo in filing a patent for the eBook page turn. It caught the eyes of many developers and companies making Android and iOS apps, that they might soon have to license the technology from Apple to be zapped by lasers from outer-space. Samsung obviously could not let Apple get away with monopolizing the animated page turn and filed its own patent for a different way of handling it.

The essence of the new patent is to give users the experience of a real book. Generally it is difficult to give a user a sense that manipulating an e-book is similar to manipulating a real paper book. For example, when detecting user input information about turning pages, the conventional method and apparatuses for displaying an e-book immediately change from a currently displaying page to another page, or scroll a current page in a direction corresponding to the input information to change from the current page to another page. That is, this changing scheme is not really similar to turning a paper page, but is more like browsing a Web page. The new patent really kicks it up a notch and gives you a real book experience within the digital edition.

Obviously the new Samsung patent is way more involved then the Apple one, in terms of technology employed. Apple basically tried to patent the animated page turn, but Samsung goes a step further. They document the entire faux page turn, including peaking at the next page. The race to patent technology in relation to eBooks is heating up.

Samsung Files New Patent for the eBook Page Turn is a post from: E-Reader News

Amazon Debuts Two New Commercials for Kindle Freetime and the Paperwhite


Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo are the only companies to take the marketing of e-Readers to the masses. Amazon, has been making television spots for years and often has the budget for a ton of airtime. Today, Amazon has released two new commercials that focus on the Kindle Paperwhite e-Reader and some of the benefits of Kindle Freetime for the Kindle Fire.

Kindle Freetime is a service unveiled last year that gives parents more flexibility to craft the tablet experience. They can limit the number of hours a child can read, watch videos, play games and lock out specific things they don’t want to give them access to. Whereas the Kindle Paperwhite really needs no explanation, it is one of the best e-Readers in the world. Both commercials focus on kids using the devices in everyday circumstances.

Amazon Debuts Two New Commercials for Kindle Freetime and the Paperwhite is a post from: E-Reader News

Overdrive Now Offering New eBooks from Hachette Book Group


Overdrive, one of the largest companies facilitating the delivery of electronic books for libraries has announced a new deal with the Hachette Book Group. Starting May 7th, over 5,000 eBooks from Hachette will be added to the Overdrive catalog and include notable authors David Baldacci, Sara Zarr, Sandra Brown, James Patterson, David Sedaris and Kate Atkinson.

Hachette Book Group eBooks will follow a one-copy/one-user lending model, and there will be no checkout or term limit for the titles on the OverDrive platform. All eBooks titles will be available, which means it will be available on Overdrive the same day as their printed counterparts. Over 22,000 libraries in Canada, US, Australia and many other countries are able to add these new books into their system.

"Hachette Book Group offers many of the most beloved authors and series in the world and we're thrilled to be able to offer them to our OverDrive network," said Erica Lazzaro, director of publisher relations at OverDrive. "We've worked hard to support and advocate for libraries by adding the top publishers and most popular eBooks and audiobooks, and bringing Hachette into the fold reaffirms the important role that libraries play in connecting readers with books and authors."

Overdrive Now Offering New eBooks from Hachette Book Group is a post from: E-Reader News

3M Cloud Library Now Offering eBooks by Hachette


The 3M Cloud Library Service has just inked a new deal with the Hachette Book Group that rounds off their relationship with all six major publishers. This will make available all titles from James Patterson and Nicholas Sparks for patrons to borrow from the library. Hachette Book Group's full eBook catalog will be available to libraries with no delay on new titles.

"3M Cloud Library aspires to achieve the breadth and depth of the best public libraries' collections, to ensure that readers of all tastes find the perfect book," said Tom Mercer, marketing manager, 3M Cloud Library. "We continue to build a diverse, multi-language collection with relevance, balance, and richness for all readers.”

Currently 3M is starting to be a force to be reckoned with in the US and now offers eBooks from over 300 different publishers. The great thing about the new distribution deal with Hachette, is that all titles are available. Some publishers only make available older books or backlist titles, libraries will benefit tremendously due to the fact they can buy all the latest bestsellers.

3M Cloud Library Now Offering eBooks by Hachette is a post from: E-Reader News

FastPencil Sells Publishing Business to Courier


FastPencil is a multilevel ebook distribution platform for both indie and established authors alike. They provide cloud software that allow authors to upload their eBooks and them sold via Apple, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, Kindle. Last July the company ironed out an agreement that will allow their authors the opportunity to have print editions of their books placed in select B&N physical locations. This will potentially put their titles in front of browsing consumers, as well as provide Barnes and Noble with carefully screened content for its stores. FastPencil has announced today they have sold their business to the Courier Corporation.

Courier Corporation is one of America’s leading innovators in book manufacturing and content management. The company is heavily invested in the arduous process of manufacturing books with numerous locations spread across the US. They have over 1500 employees and was founded in 1824. Courier has spread its wings in the digital development field, but was doing everything in-house. The FastPencil acquisition gives them a solid infrastructure for a continued digital focus and its established relationships with Ingram and Barnes and Noble.

“FastPencil is both a great fit for our existing customer base and a superb means of entry into one of the fastest-growing segments of our industry," said Courier Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James F. Conway III. "Our current publishing customers will appreciate the extra options presented by FastPencil’s cloud-based collaborative platform, intuitive design and development tools for both print and e-books, and integrated use of social media at every stage from concept to distribution. And self-publishers, who are already taking advantage of FastPencil’s easy-to-use technology and licensing expertise, will gain tremendous added value on the print side through Courier’s ability to deliver top-quality books at attractive prices, on short order and in virtually any run length."

“We are thrilled to be joining forces with Courier," said FastPencil co-founder and CEO Steve Wilson. "In doing so, we are not only gaining a world-class print partner, but also enabling our authors to reach out to a far wider audience and increase their potential sales by an order of magnitude.

We have spoken with FastPencil on many occasions I want to congratulate Steve and Michael on an excellent business deal and wish them the best!

FastPencil Sells Publishing Business to Courier is a post from: E-Reader News

Kegerface – for all your beer stocking needs

Kegerface is a digital tap list display from SchrodingersDrunk, which you can read more about over on Reddit. It’s an interface for a Kegerator, hence the name. I had to look that up – a Kegerator is a device for dispensing draught beer in the home, involving all kinds of kit like a fridge and a tank full of carbon dioxide. In the picture below, it’s the thing with the spigots sticking out of it.

We, of course, are interested in what’s going on above the spigots.

Click to embiggen

The back-end here is some PHP which interprets data from a shared Google spreadsheet. The whole thing runs off a Raspberry Pi that’s attached to the back of the display. All the information you need is here: the type of beer, the ABV, the hoppiness (scored out of three – that’s what the green glyphs represent), the maker, and, most importantly, how much you have left.

You can find SchrodingersDrunk’s code, along with assets like those hop graphics on Github. The Kegerface is under a CC licence, and other Kegerator owners have been modifying the setup for their own use.

Andy Davies has done a lot of work on his own version. He’s tweaked the interface, and added the bar temperature and a breakdown of how many pints are left in stock; he’s also using MySQL rather than going the CSV/PHP route.

Compare with the interface above, and spot the differences! (Click to enlarge.) We deplore your taste in ginger beer, Andy. Hollows & Fentimans’ hard stuff is much nicer.

Andy’s also made the Kegerface work for bottled beer as well as draught beers, and best of all, has made stock updating easier by attaching an RFID reader to an Arduino, which is then hooked up to the Pi. So every time you take a bottle, you swipe the attached RFID tag across the bar, and the stock is adjusted on the Kegerface. Again, everything’s on GitHub if you want to try building one yourself.

I’m trying to work out whether it’s legal for us to get one of these for the office.

Hachette eBooks to be available May 8

This morning, we announced the exciting news that one of the world’s leading publishers, Hachette Book Group, will make its entire digital catalog of more than 5,000 eBooks available to libraries and schools via OverDrive.  Beginning May 8, loyal readers at OverDrive-powered libraries and schools in the U.S. and Canada will have access to popular and award-winning authors such as David Baldacci, Sara Zarr, Sandra Brown, James Patterson, David Sedaris and Kate Atkinson.


Hachette eBooks will follow the one-copy/one-user lending model, and there will be no checkout or term limits for the titles on the OverDrive platform.  Standalone library systems and members of consortia that have an OverDrive Advantage account are eligible to add Hachette eBook titles to their collections.  U.S. miliary libraries, as well as schools and colleges in the U.S. and Canada, are also eligible.


Welcome Hachette!  See full press release here.

Macmillan’s Settlement Terms Finalized


After countless hours of legal battle, Macmillan has finally agreed upon a settlement that appeased Judge Denise Cote and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that alleged five of the Big Six publishers conspired with Apple to fix the prices on ebooks sold through online retailers. While the other defendants have settled as well, Macmillan’s originally proposed settlement is actually now about $6million higher.

Some of the additional costs to the publisher will include legal fees for the plaintiffs in the amount of over $2million, investigation fees of over $3million, and more. A large portion of the settlement will go to refund the consumers for artificially over-inflated ebook costs, payouts which should begin some time this summer.

Macmillan still denies any wrongdoing in the case, which has left critics speculating as to why a company of that size would be willing to settle for this sum. The settlement will also finalize any penalty to the company, and could be a far better deal than what the penalty could cost if the publisher opted to continue the investigation and court proceedings.

Throughout this lengthy process, individuals have weighed in on what this will mean for publishing as a whole. Many have proposed that the settlements the publishers in the case have had to pay out–much of which will again be in the form of compensation to the actual ebook buyers–will be so detrimental that the publishers will have to reduce their operations and not take risks on debut authors until their losses are recovered. On the other hand, others have taken the view that this will finally be the push that brings smaller publishing houses and independent publishers into the forefront; as authors are turned away by some of the Big Six publishers, they may see other publishing opportunities as their keys to book success.

Macmillan’s Settlement Terms Finalized is a post from: E-Reader News