Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Amazon Hiring MIT Students for Revolutionary Media Project


Amazon has been quietly recruiting graduates and students who attend MIT in
Boston. The Seattle based e-commerce giant is looking for bright young minds to “deliver media in new ways and disrupt the current marketplace.”

Many industry experts believe that Amazon is taking their Instant Video service for renting and buying television shows, movies and original content and bringing it to a dedicated set-top box. Amazon has invested millions in securing rights for thousands of major studio produced content and has borrowed a page out of Netflix playbook by making their own shows.

The one thing Amazon does right in making original content is filming a pilot episode and then allowing their viewers to vote. If it gets enough support for the community, it can be made into a 12 episode season. Likely, their new media project will incorporate the crowd sourced mentality to watch and vote right on your TV.

Amazon Instant Video is primarily aimed at a US only audience and international users have a hard time watching anything but trailers or sample videos. Likely their new box will abide by the USA first and nothing else matters mentality. Likely, whatever they do, they will not erode Netlix’s market share.

Amazon Hiring MIT Students for Revolutionary Media Project is a post from: E-Reader News

Oyster Raises 14 Million – Investors Bet on Netflix for eBooks Business Model

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The Netflix model of paying a low monthly subscription to have access to a copious amount of videos is prompting other companies to adapt the business model in other sectors. Startup Oyster currently serves over 100,000 eBooks and investors are feeling bullish about the future of reading. Today, it was announced that Highland Capital Partners and Peter Thiel's Founders Fund sunk 14 million dollars into the enterprise.

Oyster is using the cash to embark on a new expansion effort into new markets and will develop a new Android app. The start-up opened for business in September with an iPhone app, then added an iPad app the next month, nearly doubling its subscriber count.

Oyster is not only trying to convince investors they are on to something but big publishers are jumping onboard. HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin, as well as smaller ones like Workman Publishing, Smashwords and Perseus have committed thousands of titles.

Oyster Raises 14 Million – Investors Bet on Netflix for eBooks Business Model is a post from: E-Reader News

Sourcebooks: Rethinking Failure in the Digital Age

Sourcebooks’ CEO Dominique Raccah is a force for change in publishing, priding herself on a near-extreme disruptive status where books and readers are concerned. But as Raccah explained in an interview with Good e-Reader this morning, the most extreme failure companies can face at this point is to dismiss a new platform, technology, or opportunity as non-viable, as too often those decisions are not based on real data but are instead based on a comparison to where the publishing industry has always been.

“I think we’re really screwed as an industry, as we have this thing where we don’t even try because we’re scared of not succeeding. If we put metrics out there and start focusing on a data centric model, then we can actually begin to learn from whatever the outcome is. If you gather the information, you can look at it. It’s very hard to get your organization to think that way.”

But metrics only tell a company what has taken place, while Raccah admonishes publishers that they must look ahead by using that data to anticipate what may work by having a solid knowledge of what did and did not lead to a desired level of success.

“The field is moving so quickly that I’m worried about our ability to actually gather data. We’re being forced to make decisions in thirty, sixty, ninety days.”

Raccah explained that Sourcebooks’ flagship digital children’s product Put Me in the Story was five years in the making, but expressed concern that the next “big thing” simply cannot take that time span as the audience, the retail space, and the consumer will have evolved too far past the product by that point.

Another key point of failure versus success, according to Raccah, is the timing of the digital age. An earlier keynote at DBW stated that the industry is at the very beginning of the digital age, a point with which Raccah vehemently agrees. To assume that ebooks are a solid format and that the industry now has a firm grasp on digital publishing is a fallacy, as the speed of change in the industry is moving at an unheard of rate.

“On the traditional publishing front, what we want to do is provide the author with interesting new ways to deliver the content. It will provide additional revenue streams to authors beyond what they are able to get just from the traditional route. In a way, we’re redefining and extending what a publisher is.”

Sourcebooks: Rethinking Failure in the Digital Age is a post from: E-Reader News

DBW’s Publisher and Startup Survey Results


At this morning’s Digital Book World conference event, Mike Shatzkin shared an in-depth look at the results of a survey on publishers and startups, as well as where the future for both entities may take them.

“We’ve done a lot of programming this year on startups, and publishers working with them. We decided that it made sense to conduct a survey about their interaction,” explained Shatzkin. “We got answers from 43 publishing startups, and 25 traditional publishers in eight different countries.”

The survey respondents among the startups were highly varied, with anywhere from one to over one hundred employees, some with little to no outside funding, others with up to $2 million dollars in funding. The oldest of the startups surveyed was formed in 2002, while the newest started in 2013.

Interesting highlights from the survey revealed:

  • About 3/4 of the startups consider themselves to be disruptive to the publishing industry
  • The biggest challenge to all respondents was the frustration with the slow pace of the publishing; handling DRM was also high on the list of their challenges.
  • 60% of the publishers stated that the people within their companies tasked with working with startups were business development people, not data or content employees.
  • Data was at the top of publishers’ lists of challenges, while integrating with existing systems was lowest on the list.
  • The top items that publishers responded they would be investing in were marketing and discovery, and metadata management.
  • 100% of publishers responded that data insight intelligence was at the top of the list of their pain points in publishing
  • Publishers stated that they don’t need help from startups with content and editorial; it’s the mechanics of their ebook publishing that they need to rely on startups for.
  • Startups responded that more publishers ask for help with ebook files than with metadata

The startups that publishers stated that they are glad they have forged relationships with included a wide variety of startups, including NetGalley, Book Baby, HootSuite, Oyster, Goodreads, and several others. The complete report on the survey results can be found at bit.ly/DBWStartUpSurvey.

DBW’s Publisher and Startup Survey Results is a post from: E-Reader News

The Digital Revolution Is Just Beginning

Tim O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Media, presented a “solo conversation” this morning at the Digital Book World conference, and in this conversation with attendees told us that everything we know about digital publishing is only the very beginning of what ebooks will look like, even in the very near future. Comparing books to the Google self-driving car in terms of taking itself automated and mobile, O’Reilly made the point that we are completely rethinking the information within a book across device consumption.

“Uber is a $3.5 billion dollar lesson in building for how the world should work instead of optimizing for how the world does work.”–Aaron Levie

O’Reilly made another comparison to Uber, a car service location app, and more importantly, the lessons it can teach the digital publishing industry:

  • Do less
  • Build on existing platforms
  • Build “software above the level of a single device”
  • Users are not part of the service
  • Harness network effects in data
  • Rethink workflows and experiences
  • Create more value than you capture

But can publishers actually do these things? O’Reilly says yes, with possibly the most valuable of these pieces of advice for publishers is to create more value than you capture.

“There’s an awful lot of talk in this industry of how we’re going to survive this transition. The question needs to be instead, ‘How are we going to be of use?’ Don’t think of how you’re going to survive.”

The Digital Revolution Is Just Beginning is a post from: E-Reader News

Library successes in 2013 help drive record eBook sales

2014 to feature enhanced eBooks and new technology to further drive digital reader engagement

2013 was a banner year for libraries and schools with record numbers in digital engagement driving eBook sales and revenue for OverDrive publishers and authors. Available eBook and audiobook titles, website visitors, eBook discovery and digital checkouts all increased substantially over 2012. A surge in mobile device usage highlights the demand for on-the-go access, with more than half of all digital checkouts coming from mobile platforms.

The trend in digital reading continues to grow rapidly. Readers borrowed more than 102 million digital titles across the OverDrive network in 2013, up 44% over 2012. For comparison, it took 10 years to reach the first 100 million digital checkouts from 2003-2012, and the next 100 million was surpassed within one year. Other major milestones in 2013 include:

  • A 46% increase over 2012 in eBook checkouts (79 million)
  • A 37% increase over 2012 in audiobook checkouts (22.9 million)
  • A 147% increase over 2012 in mobile checkouts (49.5 million)
  • More than 4.3 billion page views on OverDrive-powered library and school websites
  • Mobile platforms now account for nearly 1/2 of all checkouts and 2/3 of all traffic
  • Six of OverDrive's standalone libraries facilitated more than one million digital checkouts from their individual collections
  • Library and school websites had 193 million visits to their OverDrive digital catalog, an increase of 107% over 2012
  • Discoverability increased to 1.8 billion in 2013, up from over 1 billion cover image impressions in 2012, giving readers countless options for "what to read next"

"This past year was a breakthrough year for OverDrive," said Shannon Lichty, Director of Partner Services at OverDrive. "Through innovation and exemplary partner performance, digital reading is now more accessible and more prolific than ever. We are looking forward to additional enhancements in 2014 to create the ultimate streamlined experience and enhanced interactivity for users."

Technology and support for enhanced eBooks will roll out in 2014, including features such as synched audio and text, fixed layouts, interactivity and multimedia. Demonstrations of these innovations will take place at the OverDrive booth at Digital Book World this week in New York City, as well as at ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia January 24-28.

OverDrive released several new products, services and features to help libraries and schools increase digital circulation in 2013. The launches of OverDrive Media Station, Circulation APIs and multilingual website support helps to introduce readers to the digital catalog and easily navigate the library's website. In addition, children can now safely explore libraries' digital catalogs through the new eReading Room, a dedicated segment of a library's website free of mature content. Also in 2013, OverDrive announced the availability of its new Netflix-like Streaming Video service with widespread compatibility and instant viewing of thousands of digital video titles.

Further enhancing the user experience, OverDrive increased its catalog to 1.8 million digital titles from more than 5,000 publishers, including all of the major publishers such as Penguin, Random House, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, McGraw-Hill, Macmillan and many more. Libraries and schools can now purchase licenses for eBooks and audiobooks from an additional 250 publishers added in 2013. Titles come in a multitude of formats compatible with any major device, including iPhone®, iPad®, Nook®, Android™ phones and tablets, and Kindle® (U.S. only).

Based on various statistics including downloads, sales, holds, samples, ratings and page views, top titles in OverDrive's collection for 2013 included Inferno by Dan Brown, The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling), The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin, Fast Forward by Juliet Madison, Allegiant by Veronica Roth, and The House of Hades (audiobook) by Rick Riordan.

OverDrive has been named to the EContent 100 list as a company that matters most in the digital content industry for 2013, its fifth year in a row to earn that honor. OverDrive Media Console was named one of PC Magazine's 100 Best Android Apps of 2013, and one of TechRadar's Best Free Android Apps of 2014. Now partnering with more than 28,000 libraries and schools in 42 countries, including 90 percent of the U.S. public libraries, OverDrive is the largest distributor of eBooks and audiobooks for lending platforms worldwide.


Heather Tunstall is Public Relations Specialist at OverDrive.


A visual approach to online learning

After a successful 2013, which saw not only an incredible amount of content produced but also an expansion of our staff to accommodate growth, we figured we'd illustrate via an infographic just how impactful our online programming can be. For instance, in 2013 alone we added 179 new lessons, 109 screencasts, 142 interactives and 11... Read More ›

Poster competition update #1

We’re moving offices at the moment (a long and agonising process which is taking us a few weeks), and we’ll be using the posters you sent us to decorate our new meeting room. We made this video of the hundreds of posters we received through the post. It’s worth viewing this in full-screen mode while hovering over the pause button so you can have a closer look at some of them: the imagination and the bonkers spellings of “Raspberry” on display really made us smile. (Posters which were emailed to us will appear in a separate post later this week. There were lots.)

You’ll remember that we launched a poster competition before Christmas, along with a schools giveaway. We’d put together 2000 Raspberry Pi kits with our friends from Google for the occasion, and we thought that would be enough for everybody.

Then the entries started coming in. 2000 definitely wasn’t enough. So we’ve upped the allocation of Pis to more than 5000 – if you’re a teacher who asked for kits for the classroom, we’ll be in touch later in the month to explain what we’ll be sending you and how we’re dividing the schools allocation up.

We got so many individual poster entries from kids that we’re having to hire someone to come in for a couple of days to administer all the entry forms and help us sort out the logistics of getting Pis to people. Everybody who sent us a poster will be getting a Pi in return (nearly everybody: about five entries were from kids who just scribbled RASBERYPIE in pencil in the middle of a piece of paper, or who sent us a screenshot of our own website – given the quality of the other posters we felt we couldn’t reward those entries, and we have not displayed them). And I’m really sorry, but we’ve also had to disqualify posters which were put in the mail after the deadline.

We thought some of the posters in the video above were so good that we wanted to send an extra reward to the kids who made them. We’ll be giving you a closer look at the ones we’ve picked out next week. We liked some of the ideas you sent in so much that we’re going to be turning them into real projects and making learning resources around them, which you’ll be able to use at home or in lessons at school later in the year.

We’ll be showing you the posters we received by email in a separate post later on.  Thank you to everybody who entered! (And yes, we know that one of the ceiling tiles needs replacing.)

The CEOs Speak: Growth in Digital Books

A long-standing tradition at Digital Book World’s conferences is to start with a panel of publishing CEOs for a roundtable discussion of where the industry is and where it’s going. This year’s first morning panel included names such as F+W Media’s Michael Nussbaum, O’Reilly Media’s Tim O’Reilly, Sourcebooks’ Dominique Raccah, and Simon & Schuster’s Carolyn Reidy.

Reidy’s discussion involved the expansion of books into a global market, announcing that S&S sold a book in over 200 countries last year, including–to the laughter of those present–a copy of The Sun Also Rises to a consumer in Antarctica.

“There’s a potentially bigger market in English if you did some marketing to engage with the English-language books,” explained Reidy of the process wby which booksellers are realizing their readership doesn’t only buy books in the local language; she went on to explain that there are bigger considerations involved in global sales, including how to price books in other markets.

Raccah explained some of the basis for the news this morning that Sourcebooks had a tremendous year in 2013: “We grew a lot of physical book sales last year, which was a surprise to us, and a lot of that came from our kids’ books. We expect that to grow this year. Part of that is the implications of Put Me in the Story. It provides us a lot of great content. Some of that is going through that site, and some of it is growing through our…reference products that we are translating into digital products.”

Tim O’Reilly: “Probably the most exciting things we’re doing is taking the lead from Amazon. We’re building a digital distribution business that lets us put out ebooks in multiple formats, which contributed to our international growth. We’re selling ebooks as a bundle that lets you pick your format…it all comes from one source file, with a push-button solution. We’re expanding the idea of what a book is, and we’re very excited about the way that video and books come together in our products. We’re also looking at our primary goal, which is teaching people, or helping people learn. We have a lot of different ways that we can make information available.”

“I think we keep hearing that the rate of change is slowing down, but that’s not the experience for me,” said Raccah.

“Books are competing with an array of information, people have the expectation that with the app they’re using, the update just appears on their phones. Books are timeless works, but we are being up-to-date with the latest is a real challenge. We’re constantly building a set of tools to keep our products up-to-date,” answered O”Reilly.

“The loss of shelf space, and the discovery mechanism that keeps consumers going to books, and the explosion of digital has always been a challenge, but now it’s an easier challenge. The biggest need is to strengthen where books are. Bookstores could decide they don’t want to carry books any more, but the other outlets can decide they don’t want to carry books anymore. The biggest challenge is making sure your organization is organized to meet the challenge,” explained Reidy.

“With shrinking shelf space, we need new discovery mechanisms, but it is the authors who are showing the publishers the way to explore the possibility space,” O’Reilly. “You have to take what one author learns and transfers that to another.”

The CEOs Speak: Growth in Digital Books is a post from: E-Reader News

OverDrive Announces Banner Year for School, Library eBook Lending


As digital library lending continues to take root in public and school libraries, digital content solutions provider OverDrive has seen tremendous forward growth in the number of patron checkouts through libraries. Whereas it took the platform ten years to reach 100 million total checkouts, that number grew to 102 million checkouts in 2013 alone. This represents a 44% increase over last year alone.

OverDrive provided some key findings from data compiled over 2013:

  • A 46% increase over 2012 in eBook checkouts (79 million)
  • A 37% increase over 2012 in audiobook checkouts (22.9 million)
  • A 147% increase over 2012 in mobile checkouts (49.5 million)
  • More than 4.3 billion page views on OverDrive-powered library and school websites
  • Mobile platforms now account for nearly 1/2 of all checkouts and 2/3 of all traffic
  • Six of OverDrive's standalone libraries facilitated more than one million digital checkouts from their individual collections
  • Library and school websites had 193 million visits to their OverDrive digital catalog, 1 million more than 2012
  • Discoverability increased to 1.8 billion in 2013, up from over 1 billion cover image impressions in 2012, giving readers countless options for "what to read next"

2014 will see OverDrive bring on support for enhanced ebook checkouts and other new features.

"This past year was a breakthrough year for OverDrive," said Shannon Lichty, Director of Partner Services at OverDrive. "Through innovation and exemplary partner performance, digital reading is now more accessible and more prolific than ever. We are looking forward to additional enhancements in 2014 to create the ultimate streamlined experience and enhanced interactivity for users."

OverDrive Announces Banner Year for School, Library eBook Lending is a post from: E-Reader News

B&N the Next Book Retailer Facing Class Action Lawsuit

Following information that a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation is underway against Barnes and Noble for alleged inconsistencies in reporting losses, the lawyers have rushed in to claim a piece of any money that might be doled out.

According to a filing by one of the numerous firms to file, Ryan & Manisaks, LLP, ” The complaint alleges that during the Class Period, Barnes & Noble issued materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s financial performance and future business prospects. Specifically, the complaint alleges that defendants misrepresented or failed to disclose: (1) Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-book reader sales had dramatically declined; (2) the Company would shutter its Nook manufacturing operations altogether; (3) the carrying value of the Nook assets were impaired by millions of dollars; (4) the carrying value of the Nook inventory was overstated by $133 million; (5) the Company was expecting fiscal 2014 retail losses in the high single digits; (6) Barnes & Noble had over-accrued certain accounts receivables; (7) Barnes & Noble was unable to provide timely audited financial results for fiscal 2013; and (8) the Company might be forced to restate its previously reported financial results.

“The complaint further alleges that following the July 8, 2013 resignation of Barnes & Noble’s Chief Executive Officer and a July 29, 2013 earnings restatement, on August 20, 2013, Barnes & Noble disclosed much worse company-wide financial results for its first quarter 2014 than the market had been led to expect, including lower sales and losses that more than doubled from the first quarter of 2013. Barnes & Noble also disclosed that the Company’s Chairman had placed on hold his previous bid to take the Company’s bookstore business private. On this news, the Company’s stock price fell more than $2 per share, or approximately 12%.”

Unlike suits brought about on behalf of consumers–such as the lawsuit brought against Apple and five of the then-Big Six publishers for artificially overcharging customers for ebooks–this one is focused on the people who bought stock in Barnes and Noble based on information that the SEC now feels might have been false.

B&N the Next Book Retailer Facing Class Action Lawsuit is a post from: E-Reader News

Sourcebooks Publishers Thriving in Difficult Publishing Climate


In an industry-wide climate in which booksellers are struggling to keep their doors open and publishers are announcing cuts to submissions and marketing budgets for new titles, Sourcebooks has managed to not only maintain its solid position in the industry, but also to post double digit sales increases over last year.

All of its categories showed an increase of at least 22% or more, while 60% growth in three of its imprints: romance, calendars, and children’s and teens. The biggest factor for their success was actually not the highest growth listed, as its mass market titles showed a 58% increase over last year; this is a very difficult market to record this level of progress.

So what makes Sourcebooks so special? Why is this publisher basking in record-level growth when the rest of the industry makes predictions about just barely hanging on?

Much of this kind of success may have a lot to do with Sourcebooks’ pioneering spirit, an attitude which has seen the publisher participate in a number of experimental and mildly controversial initiatives to put ebooks in the hands of readers, put titles in public libraries, and put children’s books in the hands of shoppers. For better or for worse, if there’s an idea or innovation to be tried, Sourcebooks is going to do it.

And while this may not have always resulted in resounding change for the publisher, it has kept Sourcebooks at the top of the publishing ladder by keeping themselves prepared to adopt–or create–new opportunities for authors and readers.

Sourcebooks Publishers Thriving in Difficult Publishing Climate is a post from: E-Reader News

Spanish Book Sales Explode in the US Due to e-Readers


Spanish books are not the easiest thing to find in your average US city or town.  Booksellers got jaded  after botched attempts to translate English-language bestsellers produced error-ridden Spanish versions that sold poorly. When Spanish books are available, they often cost double or triple what the English translated edition fetch. Times are changing, and Spanish eBooks and Audiobook sales have been dramatically increasing, due to the rise of e-readers and reading apps on tablets.

In the last few years the availability of Spanish eBooks sales have tripled. This is primarily due to the increased number of them available.  In 2010 only 10,000 Spanish-language print titles were in stock at online booksellers in the U.S. out of a total of about 650,000 Spanish titles worldwide. Today Barnes & Noble’s  over 65,000 Nook eBooks available in Spanish.  Amazon’s Spanish-language page — EBooks Kindle en EspaƱol — now boasts more than 70,000 titles. That’s more than double the number offered when the site debuted in April 2012. Amazon said they expect to see foreign eBooks grow around 40% in 2013, once the final sales are tallied. Amazon owned Audible has stated that last year Spanish books accounted for an 25% increase in sales.

Despite the growth of Spanish-language book sales, they are still  fairly small compared with those in English, accounting for less than 5% of the United States entire publishing sector, which brings in $7.1 billion in annual sales.

What are the driving factors of Spanish eBook sales? This can be attributed to Latinos adopting tablet computers and e-readers at an accelerated rate. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. In 2011, about 1 in 20 Hispanics owned such a device, the group found; in 2012, the number had jumped to nearly 1 in 5.

Spanish Book Sales Explode in the US Due to e-Readers is a post from: E-Reader News