New concerns are growing among UK publishers over the fair compensation for their authors when it comes to library lending, specifically of ebooks. Unlike in the US where an author is only paid when a library purchases a particular title for lending from its catalog, under the UK law Public Lending Right, authors are compensated at each patron checkout, as well. But that might be changing where ebooks are concerned, and it has publishers watching the state of lending very carefully.
At present, ebooks do not fall under the PLR protections, but with more and more consumers reading digital editions on a variety of devices–and borrowing ebooks from their local libraries at ever-increasing rates–publishers have teamed up to work on new government protections for ebooks, at least for those borrowed “on site.”
Unfortunately, a report that was released earlier this year showed that one way publishers are looking into protecting authors is to ban off-site or remote ebook lending, thereby requiring patrons to come into their local libraries in order to borrow ebooks, essentially destroying one of the key advantages to e-reading, namely, the portability and anywhere access to ebooks.
For its part, the government body overseeing the issue has agreed that authors need to be fairly compensated through ebook lending, but also that every possible step must be taken to ensure that ebook lending by both remote and on-site patrons remains a free service to society. In less than pleasant news, though, was the announcement that this coverage of ebooks under PLR should roll out in July of 2014. While interested parties such as the Society of Authors feel like the government is taking steps in the right direction, they are somewhat chagrined by the lengthy wait time before this is implemented.
Saturday, August 3, 2013
Marvel is trying to build attention to their upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy feature film and are giving away a free Infinite Comic this weekend only. The title will be available via Comixology and is entitled Guardians of the Galaxy: Drax the Destroyer.
Marvel released an official statement heralding the comic by saying “When he's not busy destroying, Drax likes to sit back and relax like everyone else. But what happens when he takes a little rest and relaxation in a star system that wants his head on a mount? Drax's breather might draw his final breath! Brought to stunning life using the innovative Infinite Comics story-telling, the free Guardians of the Galaxy: Drax the Destroyer Infinite Comic brings a new universe of excitement of reading comics never thought possible!”
If you have never heard of an Infinite Comic before, don’t sweat it. Marvel has only released a handful of them and mainly give same panel animations. You basically take fewer page turns and more events tend to occur, like conversations.
A sad trend is taking place with US chain retailers. As stores close, either due to poor economic conditions or due to the prosperity that drives a newly minted, larger store in a more “upscale” part of town, the landscape has become dotted with obtrusively large empty warehouse-style eyesores. But one Texas town, with the help of some financial backers and a prestigious interior design prize, has changed one empty store into a thing of beauty.
According to website WebUrbanist.com, the town of McAllen, Texas, currently boasts a 123,000-square-foot sprawling public library in what was once a Walmart, making it the largest one-level library in the United States. Created with the help of Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, this former industrial dump now boasts more computer labs than most public schools, as well as an art gallery, a restaurant, a bookstore, and more. The circular fountain out front? Just another great feature on this library campus.
The library’s site features information on the history of growth that took it from a one-room location in 1932 to the sprawling campus that it is today.
“McAllen Public Library opened for business on November 12, 1932, in a room at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. The fledgling library grew rapidly, relocating to the First Baptist Church and then to the Archer Park Bandstand to meet space demands. It remained in the basement of the Bandstand for nearly 15 years, until May 28, 1950, the day the Old Main Library (on Main and Fir Streets) opened to the public.”
Click HERE to view a video of the transformation that took an abandoned property–one that was a huge drain on the environment and on town morale–and built in its place what might be the most amazing public library in America.
While consumers and industry watchers alike have spent a fair amount of time waiting eagerly to see how the ruling handed down against Apple for anti-trust violations would actually impact the publishing industry, the tech company has made a statement of its own asserting that the decision by Judge Denise Cote in the case brought against them by the Department of Justice is overly punitive and harsh. In fact, words like “draconian” have actually been tossed around.
According to a brief filed on behalf of Apple, “Plaintiffs’ proposed injunction is a draconian and punitive intrusion into Apple’s business, wildly out of proportion to any adjudicated wrongdoing or potential harm. Plaintiffs propose a sweeping and unprecedented injunction as a tool to empower the Government to regulate Apple’s businesses and potentially affect Apple’s business relationships with thousands of partners across several markets. Plaintiffs’ overreaching proposal would establish a vague new compliance regime-applicable only to Apple-with intrusive oversight lasting for ten years, going far beyond the legal issues in this case, injuring competition and consumers, and violating basic principles of fairness and due process. The resulting cost of this relief–not only in dollars but also lost opportunities for American businesses and consumers–would be vast.”
The brief actually went on to discuss a lesser-known point of the terms brought about by the DoJ, one which involves the ability of third party companies like Amazon or Barnes and Noble to sell ebooks through their iPad apps. And while the full amount of damages levied against Apple remains to be finalized as it pertains to anti-trust law, Apple maintains that its behavior in no way violated any of those laws.
The full brief from Apple can be found HERE.
Beta tests and pilot programs are invaluable sources of feedback and information for technology companies, especially those that are marketing products to a potentially vast audience of consumers. And when conducting a beta period, timing is important so as to maximize on the users’ responses in order to roll out the finished product in a timely way.
CourseSmart, one of the world’s leading providers of digital textbook content, recently concluded a pilot program with over 3,700 students at a number of institutions over the spring semester. The resulting feedback has led to enhanced features of the newly widespread availability of CourseSmart Analytics.
"We are pleased with the tremendous success of the beta program for CourseSmart Analytics, and we have incorporated student, faculty, and administrator feedback into an enhanced product that will help students be more successful nationwide," said Sean Devine, CEO of CourseSmart, in a press release. "The positive response we have received in North America and internationally is proof of the market demand that exists for technology which improves teaching, learning and institutional accountability. We are confident that CourseSmart Analytics will help students stay on track and be more productive in their studies, which will in turn, increase our country's global education competitiveness."
One of the interesting things about CourseSmart’s enhancements following user feedback is that the upgrades and suggestions were made available for the following summer semester, meaning the company had a strategy in place to put the feedback into action immediately. But the real news of the feedback was the assurance from as many as 70% of the students surveyed who felt that using the Analytics platform would improve their learning outcomes, while 100% of the administrators polled stated that the features of the Analytics program would be a deciding factor in their digital textbook adoption.
CourseSmart Analytics recently received the 2013 Best New Product Award from the IMS Global Learning Consortium. For more information on both the platform and the company’s digital textbook offerings, visit CourseSmart.com.
Over on comiXology, one of my favorite Image series is on sale: Think Tank, the story of rogue scientist who went to work for the military at an early age, developing sophisticated weapons, then balked when he realized the effects they had on real people. It’s sort of like McGyver, if McGyver went to Caltech, smart and clever at the same time. Here’s an interview with the creator if you want to know more. The first volume is only $3.99 on comiXology, so snap it up!
ComiXology’s other sale is on the Flashpoint comics, including Flashpoint, Booster Gold, Legion of Doom, and more; all single issues are priced at 99 cents.
And if you want to check out Infinite Comics, which use storytelling techniques that are unique to digital, here’s your chance: The Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comic #1 is free on comiXology and in the Marvel app. I reviewed it here a while ago. All these sales run through Sunday evening, so don’t waste any time!
Take a walk on the dark side with Dark Horse Digital, which has marked down all their comics by horror writer Steve Niles, including Breath of Bones, Criminal Macabre, and Last Train to Deadsville. The comics regularly go for $2.99 or $3.99, but everything is 99 cents this weekend.
And finally, while the rest of you may not be aware of it, Thursday was yaoi day—it’s a pun on the Japanese for 8-01. Digital Manga celebrated with a yaoi sale, knocking 15% off four titles on its eManga digital comics site. If yaoi isn’t your cup of tea, here’s another unbeatable manga deal: The first three volumes of Shuho Sato’s medical manga Give My Regards to Black Jack are free, and subsequent volumes are a dollar. EManga offers digital manga in a variety of formats, including Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and a simple PDF.