Friday, October 25, 2013

Kobo: Writers Free to Write What they Want, We’re Not Compelled to Sell It

Amid the uproar and media firestorm surrounding the recent discovery of inappropriate subject matter available in the children’s digital sections of some ebook retailers’ websites, Kobo and several other self-publishing platforms took a bold stance and blocked self-published titles from sale until a thorough review could be conducted. Angry accusations filled the social media sphere as authors discovered their titles had been removed from sales channels and distribution outlets. For its part, Kobo answered their authors’ concerns with a promise to review books and add them back in their appropriate categories as quickly as possible.

Tonight, Kobo’s VP Michael Tamblyn issued an email statement to all of its Kobo Writing Life authors to update them on the status of the situation and the issue with their books. For many authors, this statement will be welcome news, and hopefully come at the understanding that above all else, children had to be protected from inappropriate content. For other authors, however, this will come as a blow to their careers and their egos: “For those few titles that remain unavailable, some feel that we chose a path of censorship. All I can say is that if your dream is to publish "barely legal" erotica or exploitative rape fantasies, distribution is probably going to be a struggle for you. We aren't saying you can't write them. But we don't feel compelled to sell them.”

Yes. As many have pointed out, writing and publishing is a right, but it is not a right held in every country that digital publishing reaches and it is not one that is placed above the safety of minors. In addition, retailers have the right to refuse to sell certain types of content based on the tastes and needs of their customers. Kobo will exercise the right to refuse content that it deems in violation of its terms of service, just like any other website or platform.

For authors who feel their works are being unfairly labelled and blocked, they can email Kobo at for more assistance or clarification. In the meantime, there are only so many shades of grey that ebook retailers are willing to sell.

Kobo: Writers Free to Write What they Want, We’re Not Compelled to Sell It is a post from: E-Reader News

Smashwords Illuminates Authors on Oyster eBook Royalties


Oyster is out to win over the reading community with an offer that is hard to resist: a library full of ebooks for just $9.95 a month. No wonder the Oyster offer is being equated to Netflix, which has a similar monthly plan for watching videos.  The company has recently released a series of apps for phones and tablets and helps readers tap into an ecosystem of  100,000 ebooks. Oyster has not been too forthcoming on authors are awarded royalties for books being read, so leave it to Mark Coker and Smashwords to illuminate us on the situation.

CEO of Smashwords, Mark Coker gave an update, saying "As a Smashwords author or publisher, you'll earn 60% of your book's retail list price whenever an Oyster subscriber reads more than 10% of your book, starting from the beginning of the book forward. It's an author-friendly model. That's the same rate Smashwords authors earn when we sell ebooks through the major retailers such as Apple and Barnes and Noble."

The 60% royalty scheme sounds very solid and is an indication on the types of arrangements that Oyster makes with other companies.  This is not to say every contract abides by this scheme, as larger publishers are thought to get a higher rate. Still, it helps publishers and authors get a sense on the types of revenue is available on a Netflix subscription model for ebooks.

Coker cautions authors on their expectations on dealing with Oyster and not giving their hopes up on a new distribution model. "I want to encourage you to keep you sales expectations realistic.  Although Oyster represents a new, innovative and exciting distribution channel, they are still a new company and it could take them many months or years to establish a sizable readership.  However, as we know from our experience opening up distribution in 2009 and 2010 to new channels such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Apple, authors who are in first have a fan-building advantage over authors who delay.  Even smaller retailers add to your bottom line.  Every sale you get at Oyster is a sale you would not have otherwise received. ”

Smashwords Illuminates Authors on Oyster eBook Royalties is a post from: E-Reader News

LinkedIn Pulse App Offers Users Content Based on their Professional Profiles


With so much news happening each day and so many news outlets, newspapers, 24-hour talk channels, and more offering instant access to worldwide content, it’s becoming impossible to stay informed. There’s a sentiment that the more connected people become online, the less aware they somehow are of what’s happening around them.

LinkedIn, which acquired news and content app Pulse under its brand in April 2013, will offer users the ability to access content that directly impacts the specifications of their professional profiles and therefore, their business lives, all from their mobile devices. This is a smart decision, as LinkedIn reported to TechCrunch’s Ingrid Lunden that nearly forty percent of its traffic among its users is via mobile devices.

After the $90million acquisition of Pulse earlier this year, LinkedIn didn’t do much with the company, allowing it to continue operating on its own. Now that this blending of the companies has taken place, it will be interesting to see what other partnerships the professional social media site creates with some of the other acquisitions it has made but not impacted.

LinkedIn Pulse App Offers Users Content Based on their Professional Profiles is a post from: E-Reader News

Data Reveals How Much Consumers Overspent Thanks to eBook Price Fixing


In all of the coverage of did-they-or-didn’t-they aspect to the Apple ebook price fixing lawsuit, very little news came out about how the alleged secret meetings and publisher plots to take down Amazon actually affected the consumers. This week Publisher’s Weekly‘s Andrew Albanese posted an article that details the actual breakdown by state of how many consumers were overcharged due to the anti-trust violations, as well as a breakdown of how many books each of the publishers involved in the case sold to consumers at what the Department of Justice declared to be over-inflated prices based on collusion.

According to the article, which cited data provided by Roger G. Noll, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Stanford University and a Senior Fellow in the Stanford Institute for Economic Research, and his team, the actual number of ebooks was 149,424,374. According to Noll’s metrics and based on an average of what consumers would have paid before the price increases, he estimates that the publishers overcharged readers by $307,808,414.

According to Albanese, the actual breakdown per publisher is as follows:

  • “Hachette's damages were put at $54,971,899 on total e-book revenues of 280,353,383 during the period.
  • HarperCollins damages were $62,033,851 on $279,204,694 in e-book revenues.
  • Macmillan's damages were put at $17,013,853 on e-book revenues of $212,238,705.
  • Penguin was assessed with damages of $105,779,657 on e-book revenues of $481,408,045.
  • Simon & Schuster was assessed with damages of $68,009,155 on total e-book revenues of $295,019,073.”

While the publishers have settled their suits prior to the DoJ case against Apple for a total of $166 million, Judge Denise Cote, who presided over the DoJ lawsuit, still has to rule on the actual damages Apple will pay. Apple’s damages trial is slated to begin in May of next year, but its attorneys are currently in the process of appealing Cote’s July ruling.

Data Reveals How Much Consumers Overspent Thanks to eBook Price Fixing is a post from: E-Reader News

Millions Join Amazon Prime in Light of Free Shipping Increase


Amazon Prime, the online retail giant’s annual fee-based membership program that offers its users certain perks like free shipping, video downloads, ebook borrows, and more, has seen a third quarter increase in the “millions,” according to a press release from the usually very tight-lipped company.

“It’s been a busy few months-we launched a new Paperwhite and new Kindle Fires to positive reviews and surprised people with the revolutionary Mayday button-average Mayday response times are just 11 seconds!” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of, in a press release. “And that’s not all. In the last 90 days, our AWS team got back to work on a big government contract, we brought 8 million square feet of fulfillment center capacity online, deployed 1,382 Kiva robots in three FCs, provided a new venue for artists to reach customers, signed up millions of new Prime members, announced Kindle MatchBook, Login & Pay, and nine new original TV pilots, joined the coalition, acquired TenMarks-a company that helps kids with math, scored a win for customers who want to use Kindles on airplanes even during takeoff and landing (also, a big hat tip to Nick Bilton on that one), began hiring and training 70,000 new U.S. FC employees to help serve customers this holiday season, and saw the Kindle Million Club grow to include 14 KDP authors.”

Amazon recently raised the minimum purchase to receive free standard shipping from $25 to $35, making the $79 Prime membership rate all the more attractive an option. Prime members receive free 2nd-Day shipping on all of their purchases, without having to meet a minimum.

Millions Join Amazon Prime in Light of Free Shipping Increase is a post from: E-Reader News

Creeptacular face-tracking Halloween portrait

You’ve got a week to build this portrait, whose eyes follow you around the room, for Halloween.

Adafruit have produced a tutorial, courtesy of Tony DiCola, which uses OpenCV and openFrameworks with your Raspberry Pi and camera board to create a picture of pullulating panic. It’s haunted hardware of horripilating hideousness.

You’ll also find instructions on making your own frame in the tutorial: we recommend making one large enough to drill a hole in, so you can conceal the camera board inside before using this to scare your loved ones. It’s elegant and spooky; plus, you can keep it for the rest of the year and use it for another OpenCV project like the Magic Mirror.


Bloomsbury Records Impressive First Half Growth, eBooks Comprise Half of the Bestsellers

the bone season

The Bloomsbury Group that publishes the Harry Potter series has announced an increase in their digital sales, which has topped £5.8million. This marks a 22 percent increase, while the same growth in print sales is less impressive at 12 percent. However, sales from its print business contribute far more revenue at £39.6m, even though the company disclosed that half of the bestsellers are sold in ebook format.

“Digital sales make up an ever more important element of our sales and activity but print is showing resilience way beyond many predictions,” said chief executive Nigel Newton. “Our Adult division enjoyed a very good interim result, reflecting an impressive new book programme including And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner) and The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, as well as a flourishing cookery list.”

Meanwhile, the publisher also announced they will have a new platform in place which will cater to the library segment by offering scholarly ebooks. Bloomsbury Collections is expected to start operations by March 2014 and will have about 1,700 titles to begin with. The new venture, Bloomsbury explained, takes into account the “growing demand for e-books from academic libraries worldwide”.

The publisher had earlier entrenched its position in the academic book market by procuring the law book publisher, Hart, in September in an all cash deal worth £6.4million.

“The recurrent evidence is you’re as good as your list. If you’ve got the right books, there are plenty of people out there wanting to buy them in whatever format. It’s about getting the books right—nothing’s changed,” said Newton when asked about consumer confidence during the pre-Christmas period.

Bloomsbury Records Impressive First Half Growth, eBooks Comprise Half of the Bestsellers is a post from: E-Reader News

New York Times Offering Free Month Long Access to its Web and Smartphone App


The New York Times has lined up a treat of the digital kind. Anyone who picks up the Sunday, November 3rd, edition of the newspaper will be entitled to a month long free trial of the company's digital publications. Users will be provided a code stuck inside the Sunday's edition of the newspaper which will provide them unlimited access to the digital service. Users can have unlimited access via the smartphone app as well as the official site, but this access is not available for tablets.

No specific reasons have been provided to explain the company's initiative, though it's obviously likely that this access may be aimed at bringing in new subscribers. The same access at other times will cost anywhere between $3.75 to $8.75 a week depending on how readers wish to use the service: smartphone, tablet, or both.

New York Times Offering Free Month Long Access to its Web and Smartphone App is a post from: E-Reader News

Apple Files Patent That Could Lead to Customizable eBook Gifting Options

eBook Gifting

There are quite a few things that can be considered a gift from Apple's iTunes shop, such as videos, songs, or apps. However, books have been conspicuously missing from the list. Apple seems to be hard at work to make up for this lapse and the necessary patents have already been filed. Apple is eager to offer much more than just the idea of gifting an ebook, though. Rather, the Cupertino company wishes to allow users to add their personal touch to the ebooks to enhance their appeal even more.

This can mean users can add a phrase or even a picture in the book that can be shared with others via social media. The recipient will also have the option to forward the gift to another person and will have similar customizable options at his disposal. In all, the receiver can pick up from three options: accept the gift, in which case the sender's message or notes will be displayed before the book is opened; the receiver can also refuse the gift, in which case, the value will be credited back to the user's account; or the receiver can also forward the gift to someone else after having added his own customizations.

It is not known as of yet when this feature could be launched, though Apple surely will like to see this concept take off during the upcoming holiday season.

Apple Files Patent That Could Lead to Customizable eBook Gifting Options is a post from: E-Reader News