Thursday, 2 January 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 3 January 2014

Posted: 02 Jan 2014 09:09 PM PST

Top stories this morning include Bob Mayer’s predictions for 2014 (link), Mark Coker’s predictions for the same (link), a comparison of the storytelling abilities of books vs tv (link), and more.

  • 2014 Book Publishing Industry Predictions – Price Drops to Impact Competitive Dynamics (Smashwords)
  • Brave New Bullying: Goodreads Gangs, Amazon Attacks—What Are Writers to Do? (Kristen Lamb’s Blog)
  • Christmas tweets: ‘got iPad’ clobbered ‘got Note’ and ‘got Kindle’ (Fortune)
  • My Goodreads Wishlist for 2014 (TeleRead)
  • Nine places to look in 2014 to predict the future of publishing (The Shatzkin Files)
  • Ten Publishing Predictions for 2014  (Write on the River)
  • Things telly can do that books can't (David Hewson)

The post The Morning Coffee – 3 January 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Let the Merger-Mania Commence – Kensington Publishing Buys Digital Indie Lyrical Press

Posted: 02 Jan 2014 04:31 PM PST

Kensington-logo-300x193[1]Kensington Publishing is kicking off the new year with an acquisition.

They’ve just bought Lyrical Press, a digital first indie publisher that focused on romance and erotica (with a dash of SF and YA). The deal includes Lyrical Press’s 250 title backlist, and Lyrical will continue to operate as one of Kensington’s dozen imprints. Renee Rocco, who founded Lyrical Press in 2007, will be Managing Director of the imprint.

Steven Zacharius, President and CEO of Kensington Publishing, has said that Lyrical will continue as a digital-first imprint. “The ability to have a digital imprint that works efficiently like a small independent press is what first attracted me to Lyrical. With Renee Rocco's cutting-edge expertise in running a small independent press and Kensington’s team of talented professionals, we look forward to building new and existing authors while expanding the titles published under the Lyrical Press imprint.”

Logo_400x400-300x300[1]I would expect to hear more deals like this in the coming months. If 2013 was the year indies faced increasing price competition from the major publishers then 2014 could be the year that those indies start getting swallowed up by the bigger fish.

As most economists would tell you it’s pretty common for an expansionary period to be followed by a period of consolidation. And since the US ebook market is showing signs of not growing as fast as in past years (perhaps not at all), the increased competition for a finite amount of pie could spur the more successful publishers to start gobbling up their smaller competitors.

In fact, we might have already seen the first of the merger a couple months ago. Inkling bought the specialist digital publisher Open Air Publishing. At the time I thought the latter was acquired more for their skills than the content, but that doesn’t change the fact that the merger happened.

The publishing industry has already going through a period of accusation over the past decade, but I think it could become even more pronounced as digital indies start getting offers that are too tempting to turn down.

The post Let the Merger-Mania Commence – Kensington Publishing Buys Digital Indie Lyrical Press appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Maybe HBO Does Get it: Game of Thrones Again the Most Torrented Show

Posted: 02 Jan 2014 10:30 AM PST

It’s long2888272896_82581cfbc2[1] been said that piracy represents an untapped marker or unmet need, and this has led many pundits to wonder why some creators aren’t tapping said markets. I have made that argument myself and I’ve been hearing it for the past several years, but today I would like to make an alternative suggestions.

What are the chances that a creator might be aware of the piracy but simply decide that it represents a market not worth investing in?

Take Game of Thrones, for example. Wired reported earlier this week that the finale of season 3 was the most pirated tv episode of 2013:

Three seasons in and Game of Thrones still continues to set records — both legitimate and otherwise. After hitting ratings milestones earlier this year, it now has yet another accomplishment to boast about: the most pirated show of 2013.

This latest honor comes via TorrentFreak, which found that the Season 3 finale of the show had 5.9 million downloads via BitTorrent, beating other shows like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead by large margins. However, the fact that millions of people are pirating Game of Thrones really isn't the story here — or, if it is, it's not a new one. What bears examining is the extent to which that piracy is a direct product of HBO's policies — and the network's staunch refusal to budge in the face of mounting evidence that their policy of avoiding third-party distribution to reinforce the value of their product is accomplishing just the opposite.

At this point everyone knows that the piracy is happening, including Game of Thrones director David Petrarca who had previously admitted that piracy generated much-needed "cultural buzz" around his show. Even the CEO of Time Warner (HBO’s parent company) knows about the piracy; he sees it as a positive:

Our experience is that it leads to more paying subs. I think you're right that Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world. That's better than an Emmy.

Okay, if the highest levels of the company know about piracy and don’t appear to be responding directly to it, do they really deserve to be criticized about it?

I don’t think so. Instead I would like to posit an inverse to Hanlin’s Razor. Rather than assuming the cause to be  stupidity, my new rule of thumb states that never attribute an action to stupidity that which might be explained by asymmetrical information. (In other words people aren’t as stupid as we might assume; they’re just working from different data.)

If we apply the razor here then can conclude that HBO’s response was to choose to not offer a new digital product which could compete with the pirated downloads. Rather than label this the stupid or wrong decision, let’s instead consider why HBO might have made that decision.

Here’s one suggestion: What if HBO has data that showed that some percentage of their existing subscribers are also downloading pirated copies which can be watched offline? (This makes perfect sense to me.) If HBO already knows that they’re getting money from some pirates then they might decide its not worth offering a new digital product to the rest.

And if that’s not convincing, consider this. Wired is throwing around the 5.9 million downloads like it represents a significant failure on the part of HBO, when in fact they are making the same mistake as the RIAA and others have made in the past. Wired is assuming that the 5.9 million downloads translates to 5.9 million frustrated customers, when in fact that is not true.

It’s long been established that far more people will pirate a song than will ever buy a song, and I think the same principle applies here. Rather than looking at 5.9 million subscribers, we’re looking at a potential 590,000 subscribers – and it’s probably far smaller than that. What if HBO has research data from a survey group which shows that only a very low percentage of pirates would convert to subscribers if given the chance?

What if HBO knows that their conversion rate was only 1%? It’s not out of the realm of possibility; there are many software companies with paying customers making up only 2% to 3% of their user base – MegaUpload was one such example. HBO might have concluded that the couple hundred thousand new digital subscribers weren’t worth the effort – not when it could potentially cannibalize their existing business deals (cable subscribers might want to switch over).

Update: And just to be clear, when i refer to HBO’s existing deals I am referring to the hefty fees they collect from cable companies, including the one that owns HBO.

I don’t know why HBO is not directly addressing piracy, but it has gone on long enough that it’s no longer safe to assume they are making a mistake.


P.S. If someone knows of a name for razor I coined in this post, let me know. Otherwise I will name it after myself.

image by officergleason

The post Maybe HBO Does Get it: Game of Thrones Again the Most Torrented Show appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Polaroid, E-Fun to Launch Tablets at CES 2014

Posted: 02 Jan 2014 09:38 AM PST

CES 2014polaroid q7 android tablet is only 4 days away and it’s pretty clear that there will be a bounty of budget tablets on display.

Southern Telecom, E-Fun, and other companies will be unveiling new tablet models next week, though of course we probably won’t see the gadgets hit store shelves until later in the year.

E-Fun, the US subsidiary of the Chinese tablet maker Yifang, will be showing off a couple new tablets, the Nextbook 8 and Nextbook 10. These tablets will be running Android 4.2 on a 1.6GHz quad-core CPU with 1GB RAM, a microSD card slot, Wifi, 2 cameras (VGA and 2MP rear camera), and an HDMI port.

The Nextbook 10 will have a screen resolution of 1024 x 600, which you can find on a lot of budget tablets these days, and the Nextbook 8 will have a 7.85″ screen with a resolution of 1024 x 768 – just like on the original iPad Mini. Both tablets are expected to be available in the first quarter with retail prices of $129.99, and $149.99, respectively.


e-fun nextbook 8 android tablet

Nextbook 8

E-Fun hasn’t released many images yet, but they have posted one image for the Nextbook 8. For some reason it looks strikingly familiar.

Southern Telecom has also come across my inbox today. This company sells tablets under the Polaroid, Uniden, and Panasonic brands. They too will have new tablets to show off, including a variety of sizes ranging from 7″ to 10″.

The Polaroid models are going to sold as the Q7, Q8, and Q10.  The new tablets arewill reportedly run Android 4.4 KitKat on an unidentified quad-core CPU. They’ll have cameras, Wifi, Bluetooth, and HDMI ports. If the early press release is to be believed these tablets will also have front-facing speakers.

Prices are expected to run between $129 and $179, and the tablets should be available later this year.

polaroid q10 android tablet polaroid q7 android tablet polaroid q8 android tablet polaroid q8 android tablet

There have been a handful of budget-priced quad-core tablets launched in the past 6 months, including the Hisense Sero 7 Pro, the Ematic EGQ 307, and others. At this point it’s not clear that the quad-core tablets offer a better value than dual-core tablets, but as prices continue to fall better CPUs will be making their way into cheaper tablets. I have high hopes that we will see a significant boost in performance in the new tablets.


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Android has Taken Over OLPC: New 7″ and 10″ XO Tablets at CES 2014, Android 4.3 on the XO-4 Laptop

Posted: 02 Jan 2014 06:09 AM PST

xo-tablet-580x4201[1]CES 2014 is only a few days away, and thanks to the latest news from OLPC and Vivatar they are high on my list of booths to visit.

Details are still scarce (I still don’t have any images), but Vivitar is saying that they will have a couple new co-branded XO tablets in their booth next week. Alongside the Hello Kitty, Barbie, and other branded tablets CES attendees will find a 7″ and a 10″ educational tablet running software developed in partnership with the One Laptop per Child project.

Vivitar hasn’t shared the full specs on the new XO tablets, but I do know that the 7″ model will have a couple cameras (5MP and 2MP), Wifi, Bluetooth, 8GB of storage, and 1GB RAM. Screen resolution will reportedly be 1024 x 600, which coincidentally is what you will find on many sub-$100 Android tablets.

The larger tablet will have the same screen resolution and cameras as on the 7″ tablet. It will also have GPS and a larger battery (12 hours vs 7 hours). Both tablets will use a quad-core CPU. There are no details yet on price or release, but I expect that we’ll see the tablets around the middle of the year.

They’ll be running Android with a heavy dash of OLPC’s software running on top, and you’ll also be able to buy accessories (yes, MOAR STUFF).Vivitar plans to slap an OLPC logo on a wireless keyboard as well as a digital telescope with up to 200x magnification and a digital microscope with up to 300x magnification.

Similar educational accessories are already on the market, but they are rather expensive when compared to the price point of most budget Android tablets. It remains to be seen whether Vivitar will come up with a better value proposition than what is currently on the market. Given that OLPC will likely be taking a license fee from the use of their brand, there’s a good chance that an unbranded accessory might be the better value.

In other news today, work is progressing on the XO-4, OLPC’s next generation laptop. This laptop is expected to debut next year with a Marvell dual-core chip and a 7.5″ touchscreen. In addition to Sugar, the OS developed by OLPC, students and teachers will also be able to run Android.

Chris Derndorfer recently posted a couple photos on Flickr which show Android 4.3 Jelly Bean running on the XO-4:


This version of Android is described as being in the early stages of development. It’s publicly available, yes, but it is still being optimized for performance (and I would bet that it is also buggy). You can find out more in the Wiki.




The post Android has Taken Over OLPC: New 7″ and 10″ XO Tablets at CES 2014, Android 4.3 on the XO-4 Laptop appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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