Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 27 November 2013

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 09:30 PM PST

I have a short list for you today. Top stories include a supposed change in Amazon’s policies which I had not heard of (link), a national digital textbook effort in Africa (link), an interview which looks into why journalism startup NSFW Corp failed (link), and more.

  • Amazon Making Big Changes – Authors Beware! (Author Marketing Experts, Inc.)
  • Government of Ghana To Launch E-Book Platform Nationwide To Enable Students To Access Textbooks Via Internet (GBC)
  • Let’s abolish editors (FutureBook)
  • Making Millions in the Digital Middle (DBW)
  • Paul Carr talks about why NSFW Corp. failed — but also what it almost got right (GigaOm)
  • Self-Publishing on a Shoestring: Cover Me, Baby! |(TheHuffPo)
  • We Don't Want Your Record (Lefsetz Letter)

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Massachusetts Launches Statewide Digital Library Pilot

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 04:13 PM PST

Over the nextcropped-ebook-word-cloud1[1] 6 months the State Library System will be testing options for a statewide ebook library. If they work out then the Commonwealth of Massachusetts could soon be home to the single largest library consortium.

The MA eBook Project officially kicked off last Thursday, but was only announced yesterday. 51 libraries across Massachusetts will explore different models for eBook lending in this first pilot program, and they will be sharing ebooks acquired from 2 sources.

Baker & Taylor has agreed to license 3,000 titles from Axis 360′s catalog of more than 500,000 titles, and Bibliolabs has signed a deal to provide 30,000 titles. Axis 360 provides ebooks under a single user checkout license similar to that of OverDrive, and is used by around 400 libraries. Bibliolabs distributes content under a multi-user license. There was very nearly a third vendor participating in the pilot, but negotiations with EBL appear to have fallen through.

The Massachusetts SLS has been working towards this pilot for about 8 months now, having posted an RFP in March. In addition to developing a platform for libraries to check out ebooks en masse, the MA eBook Project will also be “working on a statewide collection development policy, including the mission and goals of the project, loan guidelines, reconsideration, reviews, suggest-a-title, and self-published guidelines.” Other goals include securing a source of funding on the state level and building support among legislators.

That last sounds to me like the Massachusetts SLS might consider pushing for a legislative solution to the current problems with library ebook pricing and licensing. If that does happen MA will be joining a growing group of librarians and state officials that are ticked at the exploitative policies of the major publishers and the resulting detrimental effects on communities.

At the moment all 5 of the major publishers license ebooks to libraries either at a high price or under an expiring license. That drives up the cost and consumes a larger share of libraries’ budgets which could have been better spent elsewhere, helping those members of the community who need library resources the most.

MA eBook Project blog

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“India’s Flipboard” NewsHunt Hits a Billion Page Views per month, Adds eBooks

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 11:26 AM PST

With 6 billion monthly page views logo1[1]Flipboard is still the leading aggregator app, but with the appearance of a new challenger that might one day change. Bangalore-based NewsHunt has recently reached a new milestone; they’re now boasting that their users are clocking in a billion page views per month.

This 4 year old service reached 10 billion page views in June 2013, making it one of the larger aggregators anywhere,  and today they expanded into ebooks.

They’re offering a catalog of paid and free ebooks from over 50 regional publishers in a number of Indian languages, including Malayalam, Marathi, Hindi, Tamil, and English. The ebooks can currently be read on NewsHunt’s Android app, with support coming to their iPhone and Windows Phone apps in the near future.

newshunt android ebook 1 newshunt android ebook 2 newshunt android ebook 3 newshunt android ebook 4

Newshunt also offers access to over 100 Indian newspapers in 11 languages, including offering localized news feeds for over 600 districts and towns in India. The Newshunt apps are free (but ad-supported), but the ebooks are sold with payment processing handled by using either credit/ debit cards or using mobile balance using iPayy, a carrier billing solution.

Newshunt is moving into a very different market from the one they know, and they’re facing tight competition. In addition to local competitors like Flipkart and Infibeam, Kobo, Amazon, and Google have opened ebookstores in the subcontinent.


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B&N Reports Revenues Down, With Nook Revenues Down 32%

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 08:08 AM PST

Barnes & Noblebarnes noble logo shared more bad news today in the form of a new quarterly report. In the 3 months ending 26 October, B&N grossed a total revenue of $1.73 billion, or about 8% less than the same period last year.

On the plus side, B&N reported that EBITA (operating profit) increased from $66.5 million to $75.7 million. They also reported net earnings of $13.2 million, or 15 cents a share, up from $501,000 a year ago. On a per-share basis, the company posted a loss of seven cents a year earlier.

But in spite of the 2 bright spots revenues were still down. Retail revenue fell nearly 8%, to $921 million. College bookstore revenue fell 4.6% to $737.5 million, and that was during the back to school period when B&N should have shown an increase.

And to top things off,  Nook revenue dropped 32%, to $108.7 million. Device and accessory sales reached $51 million for the quarter, a decrease of 41.3% from the same period last year. Even though B&N was selling their hardware at drop dead prices they still couldn’t equal last year’s sales.

Digital content sales also dropped for the quarter. They totaled $57 million, a decline of 21.2% compared to a year ago.

Just to put that in perspective, the AAP reported last week that August 2013 digital revenues (ebook plus audiobook) totaled $144 million.  That’s one of the 3 months included in B&N’s latest quarterly report and does not include the entire market, but it does offer an indication that B&N has lost ebook market share.

At one point B&N claimed to have 27% of the ebook market, and now it is clear that their market share has shrunk. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to anyone.

Barnes & Noble is going into the holiday season in a reasonably strong albeit minimally profitable position. Their current financial report shows hints of a turnaround in terms of profitability, and if B&N can keep that trend going while still boosting sales during the most important sales quarter of the year then they should come out even stronger than before.

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Boogie Board Sync Clears the FCC – Expected to Ship in Time for Christmas

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 06:55 AM PST

Improv Electronics’ boogie board synclatest digital writing slate showed up on the FCC website this week.

The Boogie Board Sync has a 9.7″ cLCD screen (cholesteric LCD). It is one of Improve Electronics’ larger writing slates, and it is the first to feature both internal storage and Bluetooth, which will enable writers to sync their notes with a smartphone or tablet. This makes the Sync a 3-trick pony, which is a major improvement on the first Boogie Board.

The Boogie Board was originally conceived in late 2009 as being little more than a replacement for a piece of scratch writing paper. Users could scrible a wrote or draw a picture, but they only had a single color and there was no way to save the contents of the screen, only erase it.

Naturally this made the Boogie Board not much more useful than a really cheap sheet of paper (only with a $100 price tag), and that led Improve Electronics to release improved models including the Boogie Board RIP (in early 2012), and now the Boogie Board Sync.

boogie board sync

The Sync still has the single color found on its predecessors, but now users can save the screen content on its internal storage or send the screen image to a paired Bluetooth device, where it can be emailed, added to Evernote, or what have you.

In addition to pairing with an Android device or the iPhone/iPad, the Sync can also be plugged into a computer and used as a Wacom style writing slate, with the anything written on the Sync showing up on the screen of  the PC (companion app required).

Battery life is expected to be about a week. That is far less than the battery life in the original Boogie Board, which ran for months on a single button cell battery, but the Sync is more capable.

This writing slate is up for pre-order on Amazon with a list price of $99.

FCC (2AAPJ-WT13106)

Wireless Goodness

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Did Audible Launch a New Gifting Option?

Posted: 26 Nov 2013 05:55 AM PST

The Bookseller isnew_audible_horizontal._V188360181_[1] reporting this morning that Audible, Amazon’s audiobook distributor and retailer, has launched a new gifting option:

Audible has launched a gifting service for the first time, allowing customers to purchase content and membership deals as gifts for others.

The Amazon-owned audiobook service said the service has been begun to capitalise on Christmas demand for gifting options.

Customers will have the option of using the buying a specific title, and sending a code to the recipient to allow them to download it, or buying a gift membership of three, six of 12 month’s subscription to the Audible.

This is good news, but is it actually new news?

I have checked the relevant FAQ pages in the Help section and it appears that Audible UK has offered these gifting since at least 2011. I can also confirm, based on when Audible.com’s FAQ was updated, that the site has had the gifting options mentioned above since at least February of this year.

Sorry that I cannot be more specific, but I don’t use Audible and I’m not familiar with all of the parts of the service.

At this point it looks like The Bookseller got it wrong, but if there is a story I would like to report on it. Does anyone know if Audible launched a new gifting option, or is this a non-story?

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