Friday, 28 February 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Read an eBook Week Starts on Sunday

Posted: 28 Feb 2014 02:06 PM PST

It’s RAEWbanner1[1]that time of year again.

Next week is the first week of March, and that means that it’s time for Read an eBook Week. This annual event was created by Rita Toews in 2004, during the pre-Kindle ebook era, and it has since grown to become an international event devoted to reading and digital literacy.

Or at least it was an international festival; this year it snuck up on me so quietly that I can’t say for sure who is participating. I know that I will be participating, of course, and Smashwords is once again a sponsor of Read an eBook Week. A quick look on Goodreads and KBoards has revealed that there are any number of authors who are joining in the fun by putting their ebooks up for sale.

Smashwords has launched a page just for this event , and it has details on where readers can find free ebooks – just so long as you don’t want to get those free ebooks in the Kindle Store. For more information, check out the Read an eBook Week Facebook page or the Smashwords page.

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BookBaby Launches Bookshop

Posted: 28 Feb 2014 01:16 PM PST

The indie BookBaby-logo[1]ebook distributor BookBaby launched a new tool this week that could help self-published authors connect potential readers with ebookstores where an author’s book can be found.

Bookshop is designed to help authors connect directly with readers in ways they've never been able to before. This new service enables authors to create easy-to-use landing pages which contain links to an author’s website as well as links each ebookstore where an author’s work can be found, making it easier for authors to promote each of their books directly to potential readers.

Each landing page will feature an elegant design and all a book's vital info, starting with an over-sized version of the book cover as well as relevant metadata, the book description, and details about the author and related books.

And most importantly, each page will include links to sites where readers can buy a copy. "Having a page on BookBaby is free for everyone, even if they don't want to use us for distribution," says director of marketing Kevin Breuner. "Their pages have links to the places where people can buy their work. And with BookShop, authors can market their work directly from their pages to readers, setting their own prices, as well as going through all the other outlets. We've learned a great deal running CD Baby, and we're applying it to this. We're working for the authors."

To find out more, check out the BookBaby website.

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Amazon to Launch Sunday Deliveries in St Louis in Mid-March

Posted: 28 Feb 2014 10:45 AM PST

Reports 9424489094_238c24ed86[1]are coming in today that Amazon  is going to expand their Sunday delivery program into the St. Louis metro area sometime this month.

This program, which initially launched in November of last year, offers free Sunday delivery to Amazon Prime members. The service is currently only available in NYC and LA, but Amazon had previously announced plans to expand into new markets.

The news was initially reported on 15 February by The State Journal-Register, a local paper in Springfield, Ill., and it is being echoed today by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. According to the Journal-Register, Amazon has been meeting with Post Office managers for the Postal Service's Gateway District, which covers the St. Louis region (including SW Illinois). Amazon has been working to iron out issues in preparation for a 16 March launch.

Some of the problems include reallocating equipment and staffing issues, and they reportedly delayed the launch of Sunday deliveries from the initial launch date of some time in February. The post office plans to hire nearly 80 employees for Sunday delivery of Amazon packages in St. Louis, which it is classifying as a same-day delivery option.

"If Amazon gives us a package early in the morning, we'll delivery it that day," said David Martin, district manager for the Gateway District in St. Louis. "Seven-day delivery is now a reality for us, and that's our future."

According to a recent newsletter from the local American Postal Workers Union, Amazon is expecting to deliver around 7 thousand packages each Sunday from 15 hubs in the region.

Amazon is not commenting on the story, so there’s no information yet on whether Amazon plans to simultaneously expand into other regions (there’s also no local coverage showing up in Google search). Amazon has said in the past that they want to expand the service into Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Phoenix.

A similar service is also available in 7 cities in the UK.

image by ted_M8



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The Sony Garage Sale Continues – Old Tokyo HQ now on the Market

Posted: 28 Feb 2014 08:15 AM PST

Over BN-BS511_sony02_G_20140228040507[1]the past year Sony has sold off their PC division, their US headquarters,  and they’ve abandoned most of their retail stores in the US (and in other countries) but that hasn’t been enough to stem their negative finances.

The WSJ is reporting today that Sony is looking to sell their old headquarters building in central Tokyo. Sony is selling their old HQ as part of a general cost-cutting effort that also includes cutting about 1,000 jobs in the U.S. and Mexico, amidst global cuts of 5,000. Sony occupied the building, which is now a home for several other businesses, from 1990 to 2007.

And now it can be yours for the low, low price of $148 million.  That’s far less than what Sony got when they sold their Madison Ave property last year. That sale netted Sony $1.1 billion and the sale of one of their main Tokyo buildings generated another $1.1 billion.

image via AFP

The post The Sony Garage Sale Continues – Old Tokyo HQ now on the Market appeared first on The Digital Reader.

More on B&N: Staff Cuts, Market Share, a New Focus on the Educational Market, and a New Tablet

Posted: 28 Feb 2014 07:12 AM PST

Along barnes noble logowith releasing their quarterly report on Wednesday, Barnes & Noble held an earnings call with analysts. (You can find the entire text over on Seeking Alpha.) Here are some of the highlights from the call:

A new focus on the education market

Barnes & Noble has confirmed my two week old story that they have a new focus on serving college students:

Barnes & Noble is a leader in the collegiate market, and we plan to aggressively leverage this knowledge and experience to innovate and become the leader in digital education. Our education applications are approaching their initial release. We’re planning to have a soft launch of our product prior to the end of the fiscal year to allow for testing and updates and plan a broader launch ahead of the 2014 fall back-to-school season. We will leverage our almost 700 campus bookstore relationships, which encompass 25% of the U.S. higher education student and faculty base, to bring the product to market. Our offering will also be available via a national website to students who are not served by a Barnes & Noble College bookstore and want a leading-edge digital learning experience. We believe that our educational applications will become the most innovative and demanded educational platform.

Staff Cuts

That inaccurate Business Insider story about the Nook hardware team getting sacked had a grain of truth. Or rather, the followup story from the NY Times was correct when they reported that B&N had gone through a major layoff:

This workforce reduction resulted in the elimination of approximately 75 positions. Thus far, charges associated with the recent reduction in force were approximately $2.4 million, which include benefits and severance arrangements, which will be recorded in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014. Since fiscal 2014 began, approximately 190 NOOK positions have been eliminated both through reductions and attrition.

Barnes & Noble confirmed in the Q&A section at the end of the call that Nook Media has a staff of around 500 people.


B&N is still claiming ownership of their Windows-only international Nook Store, even though it is showing every sign of being a Microsoft demesne.

(Huseby): As I said in my remarks, we have a very valuable digital content catalog, and we’re also in the process in connection with our work with Microsoft, to building an expansive international content catalog. We’re in over 30 countries and when a — we can leverage that content catalog that we’re acquiring as we pursue these partnership opportunities with other technology companies and put that content on their platforms.

A New Tablet

And last but not least, B&N has a new tablet in the works:

And I’m pleased to announce that in early fiscal 2015, we expect to launch a new NOOK Color device in collaboration with a third-party partner.

All signs point to this being another consumer tablet, but at least this time around there’s chance that B&N won’t commit to buying too many untis which they cannot sell.

Market Share

Shelf Awareness reported yesterday that B&N is claiming 20% of the ebook market. I can’t find that detail, but even if I did I would not believe it.

B&N sold $57 million in digital content last quarter, including video and apps. I don’t have market data to compare that too yet, but I do know that in the period from November 2012 to January 2013 the AAP tracked ebook sales stats which were worth over $300 million, by my estimate. And since they were only tracking about half of the ebook market, the actual ebook market value was probably well over $500 million for that period. If we simply assume that the 3 month period in late 2013 and January 2014 is equal in size then B&N has something closer to 10% of the ebook market than 20%.

The post More on B&N: Staff Cuts, Market Share, a New Focus on the Educational Market, and a New Tablet appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Russian Author Releases Custom eBook Reader, Targets Fans and Readers Alike

Posted: 28 Feb 2014 05:47 AM PST

Publishers akunin-book02-500x500and authors have long sold limited edition books to fans in order to raise revenue, and Russian author Boris Akunin has taken that idea in a new direction. A few weeks ago he launched the AkuninBook, a limited edition 6″ ebook reader that comes bundled with a selection of his works and other content.

Boris Akunin is a pen name for Grigory Shalvovich Chkhartishvili. According to Wikipedia he writes detective and historical fiction, but he’s also an essayist and literary translator.  On his blog he says that the AkuninBook contains both his works as well as several lists of titles he recommends, a bibliography of all his other works including links to where they can be bought in Russia, and samples of audiobooks as well as links to where those can be bought.

The AkuninBook is also configured to receive updates from the author, including his Facebook updates.

This ereader is running software that was customized beBook Applications, and underneath the custom work you will find a regular ereader from the Chinese company Onyx. The AkuninBook is actually a customized version of the Onyx Boox C63ML, one of the ebook readers Onyx sells in Russia. It has a 6″ HD E-ink screen, frontlight, touchscreen, and Wifi.

The C63ML runs Android 2.3 on a 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM, 4GB storage, and a microSD card slot. It weighs in at a svelte 169 grams. In addition to a broad range of ebook formats, it also supports mp3 audio.

The AkuninBook costs the same as the regular C63ML, but readers get a lot more. As you can see in the gallery below, this ereader comes in a pretty cardboard box and includes a beautiful leather cover. And since this is regular ereader users can also read other ebooks on it.

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You can buy the AkuninBook on Onyx Russia’s website. Retail is 6990 rubles, or about $193 USD.

If that’s too much you can also find an AkuninBook app in Google Play. (A similar app for iPad and iPhone is in the works.) The Android app features color illustrations and the same content found on the ebook reader.

AkuninBook website

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