Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 22 January 2014

Posted: 21 Jan 2014 08:01 PM PST

490x390bTop stories this Wednesday morning include a how to guide from Make Use of (link), a look at the South African ebook market (link), new data on ebookstore loyalties (link), and more.

  • Duke University Press launches new eBook platform (No Shelf Required)
  • Ebook Buyers Are Loyal to Specific Retailers, Especially Kindle, iBooks and Nook, New Data Show (DBW)
  • It's bibliophilia rehab time again. (JessicarulestheUniverse)
  • South Africa not ready for e-books (BusinessTech)
  • Supercharge Your eBook Reading With IFTTT (Make Use Of)
  • Quality will survive the digital disruption (BookBrunch)
  • "We're Just Flipping Through Index Cards" (Marco.org)

On a related note, FlexTech 2014 is coming up in a couple weeks. This conference is going to be held in Phoenix, just like last year, and I will be in attendance. If you plan to attend the conference then look me up.

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Instapaper Launches New Weekly Digest

Posted: 21 Jan 2014 07:48 PM PST

The instapaper-icon-200x200[1]save for later service Instapaper launched a new feature today which promises to keep your Sunday mornings well stocked with reading material.

They have expanded upon the Flipboard-esque aggregation of Instapaper Daily, and launched Instapaper Weekly.

This is going to be a weekly email digest of the most popular Instapaper articles from the previous 7 days. Or rather, it’s a top ten list of the articles which had been saved and shared the most by Instapaper users over the previous week.

Like Instapaper Daily, Instapaper Weekly is built on the work of InstaRank, the ranking algorithm which was announced in September 2013. For the first time Instapaper started using the aggregate behavior of their users to help said users find the most interesting content to read, thus offering an alternative to simply scrolling endlessly through their saved items in reverse chronological order.


Instapaper Weekly is merely the latest improvement that has been added to the service since Marco Arment sold it to Betaworks in April 2013, and they’re promising it won’t be the last. In addition to Instapaper Daily, Betaworks has also released a couple app updates and a website update for Instapaper which added much needed polish and new features like background updates, smart sorting, and more.



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Apple Granted Temporary Reprieve in eBook Antitrust Lawsuit

Posted: 21 Jan 2014 02:03 PM PST

Apple applelogo_oldhas been fighting a rearguard action in the antitrust lawsuit they lost in July 2013, and today they finally won a round. A three-judge panel has granted Apple a hearing on whether to stop the court-appointed monitor, Michael Bromwich, from fulfilling his duties while the company pursues a formal appeal (which might not be filed until much later in 2014).

Apple’s appeal will be heard by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. They are expected to argue that the presence of the court appointed monitor will unnecessarily impede Apple’s ongoing business efforts. They have argued in the past that the monitor’s mandate is too broadly written, and that by seeking to interview top executives and board members he is also being too intrusive.

Apple has an administrative stay until the hearing, which means that Bromwich won’t be monitoring the company for the next while. The stay probably won’t last long, because the appeals court has indicated that they will hold the hearing as soon as possible. If Apple is successful at that hearing, they will get an injunction that will delay enforcement of the antitrust ruling until after Apple files their appeal later this year.

At this point it’s difficult to predict whether the appeals court will side with Apple, but I would bet that Apple is going to lose again. Court appointed monitors are not uncommon in antitrust cases, and there is not much for Apple to complain about that isn’t included in the final judgement.

And as Chris Meadows pointed out over at Teleread, Apple had several chances before the ruling was handed down to make the arguments they are putting forward now, but they did not. I should think that will make it difficult for Apple to plead their case before the appeals court, but of course we will have to wait and see what the judges think.




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Humble Bundle Launches New Audiobook Bundle

Posted: 21 Jan 2014 12:50 PM PST

Humble Bundle pioneeredhumble bundle the idea of the pay-what-you-want app bundle when they launched almost 3 years ago, and today they’re leading the field again with a new bundle.

They’ve just announced a new offer which combines 5 previously published audiobook titles into one low cost bundle. You can now pay what you want for the audiobook versions of The Satanic Verses, Stolen, Abandon, Junky, and Found.

Hunble Bundle says that these audiobooks have a regular retail price of around about $685 (I bet you can find them for less on Audible), but they’re letting customers name their price. The minimum payment is 1 cent, though of course you can choose to pay more. And if your payment exceeds the average payment (around $4.30 at the moment) you can also get the bonus titles: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Blood Meridian, and On a Pale Horse.

Content bundles haven’t achieved nearly nearly the same popularity as coupon sites like Groupon, but Humble Bundle and others have had some success. Over the past 3 years this site has launched numerous bundles for apps, and they have also from time to time offered bundles of ebooks on similar terms.

And they’re not the only ones to offer ebook bundles. StoryBundle, a competing service which only offers ebook bundles, has launched 14 offers since it opened its doors in August 2012. And other sites including BookBale and Fiction Bundle have also jumped in, showing that there is a growing market niche for bundles.

Humble Bundle

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UnGlue.it Launches new “Buy to Unglue” Campaign With SF Anthology Lagos_2060

Posted: 21 Jan 2014 11:13 AM PST

How would logo[2]you like to buy an ebook, contribute to a library, and encourage authors to release their work under a CC license, all in one fell swoop?

Having successfully completed an early beta test in November 2013, the ebook service UnGlue.it announced a new crowd-funding campaign today. This site is looking to release Lagos_2060, a recently published SF anthology, under a Creative Commons license and they want your help.

Lagos_2060 features the work of 8 authors who have written SF stories about that city. The stories were written as part of a recent writer’s conference, and they are set in the year 2060 (hence the name). They examine what Lagos and Nigeria might look like 100 years after gaining its independence from Great Britain. The book is not available elsewhere as an ebook, but it was released last Fall as an $18 POD book (Amazon).

lagos 2060This campaign has a goal of raising $30,000 to pay the 8 authors who contributed to the anthology. The ebook is being sold DRM-free with a price tag of $6, and if enough supporters buy a copy of the ebook then the title will be released under a CC license.

That’s quite a different model from the crowd-funding model UnGlue.it launched with in late 2012. At that time UnGlue.it campaigns were set to release the title only after all of the funds were raised. This proved to not be very popular, and only 4 titles were successfully funded and released (with around 300 contributors on each campaign).

Apparently not very many people liked the idea of paying for a book but not getting it. This is rather puzzling, given the success of Kickstarter and other crowd-funding sites, and it inspired UnGlue.it to change from asking for contributions to instead selling the ebook and then releasing it under a CC license (for all to download and read) after enough money has been raised.

Speaking of letting everyone read the ebook, UnGlue.it also lets supporters buy a copy of an ebook for a participating library. The ebook belongs to the library, and contributing reader will be able to check it out. I like the idea but unfortunately only one library is participating at this time.


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Apple Expands iBooks Digital Textbooks Into 51 Countries

Posted: 21 Jan 2014 08:58 AM PST

I’ve always ibooks-3[1]said that Apple was more interested in selling hardware than content but if the press release today is any indication then that may be about to change. Apple put out a press release today which touts the expansion of the textbook section of iBooks.

Well-to-do students and schools in countries across Asia, Latin America, and Europe can now use digital textbooks in the iBooks apps for iPad and OSX. The textbooks are now available in 51 countries around the world, with prices starting at $10 (plus $300 for the iPad Mini or $400 for the iPad 2). Apple boasts that they now stock 25,000 textbook titles from a variety of sources including teachers, indie publishers, and major textbook publishers like Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Pearson.

Digital textbooks have always been a key part of Apple’s plan to sell more hardware to schools, and have led to numerous 1:1 programs at schools and universities as diverse as Lynn Universtiy in Florida, 27,000 iPads purchased for schools in San Diego, and of course the much troubled LAUSD iPad program. And it was around this time last year that Apple announced that 8 million iPads were in schools.


But in spite of the importance Apple has placed on digital textbooks on the iPad, they have yet to develop a similar interest in their other hardware. iBooks textbooks are still unavailable on the iPhone, and it was only a few months ago that iBooks launched on OSX.

There’s no word today from Apple on how many iPads they have sold to schools lately, but I would not be surprised if the number had increased significantly over the past year.

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Oyster Updates Their eBook App With Notes, Highlights

Posted: 21 Jan 2014 06:42 AM PST

This seems oyster logoto have gone largely unreported, but last week the ebook subscription service Oyster released a new version of their reading app which has some much asked for marginalia options.

Readers can now highlight parts of the ebooks they read, and they can also append notes to the highlights. The notes and highlights will be accessible from anywhere in the reader. In addition to annotating the ebooks users can also share individual highlights to Facebook and Twitter (but not the notes, which are private).

I know several people who like to annotate ebooks they’re reading, and I’ve heard a few comment upon the absence of these features in the Oyster app so I’m sure they’re going to be pleased by the new update.

Or rather the iPhone and iPad using note-takers will be pleased; Oyster is still limited to iOS only. While they are looking to hire web and Android developers to create reading apps for web browsers and smartphones, there’s no definite timeline for the release of the new apps.

oyster ipad

Oyster launched their “Netflix for ebooks” service in early September 2013, and they currently offer a catalog of over 100,000 titles from major and minor publishers. Subscribers can read as many titles as they like for a low price of $10 a month. There’s no word on how many people have signed up, but this startup has been getting a lot of buzz both in the press and the startup sphere. Last week Oyster raised $14 million in a new capital funding round.

You can find the Oyster app in iTunes.

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