Friday, 7 March 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Rooster Wants to Charge $5 to Pick Your Next Read

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 04:28 PM PST

Rooster-Logo-HorizontalIn a world where we have Flipboard, Wattpad, numerous free ebook sites, Scribd, Oyster, and more news feeds than you can shake a stick at, does anyone really need another source of reading material?

The team at Rooster thinks so. This curated reading service officially debuted today in a post over at DBW:

RoosterApp-ScreenandDevice-copy[1]Our own approach to building a better mobile reading experience has three parts as well, but they're not as alliterative.

First, our editorial team curates and recommends great books for you. These are books we love, and we are sharing them with you in the tradition of the great hand-selling of independent bookstores. Finding something good to read is often a daunting task.

Second, the books we share come in to you small installments that can be read in the small breaks you get throughout your day — whether on a commute or waiting on line at the supermarket. A 500-page novel may seem daunting to dig into when tackled head-on, but when broken into 15-minute segments, it seems a lot easier.

Third, we push the installments to you at a schedule which is convenient to you: whether it's every day before work or on weekend evenings.

Being more than capable of finding his own reading material, this blogger does not see what problem the Rooster service solves. In fact, this blogger has been reading the Game of Thrones omnibus for the past 2 months, and he does not find it intimidating nor is it so large that it must be automatically spoonfed in small installments.

But if Rooster appeals to you, you should go here and get in on the beta.

The post Rooster Wants to Charge $5 to Pick Your Next Read appeared first on The Digital Reader.

3M Cloud Library Adds Audiobooks

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 11:26 AM PST

3M Cloud Library 3m logoannounced on Friday that they were expanding their catalog. This library ebook vendor will now be carrying audiobooks, including titles from S&S, Macmillan, Hachette, and more.

The audiobooks are being provided by Findaway World, which has a catalog of 40,000 titles. Findaway World is a well-known name in the library audiobook market; they’re the makers of  Playaway, a line of audiobook devices which can be checked out by patrons.

3M Library Systems will be debuting their new catalog additions next week at the annual Public Libraries of America conference in Indianapolis. They report that the audiobooks are compatible with all of the devices using 3M Cloud Library apps, which will be updated to support audiobooks. Users will not to bother with figuring out which formats work on which devices. Once the audiobook is checked out, users can immediately start listening.

The post 3M Cloud Library Adds Audiobooks appeared first on The Digital Reader.

B&N Cuts Nook Funding by 74%

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 09:59 AM PST

Barnes & Noble barnes noble logohas lost over a billion dollars on their digital investment in the past 4 years but they’re not going to let that continue. B&N’s most recent quarterly SEC filing has revealed that they’ve cut funding for Nook Media significantly.

B&N reported that during their third fiscal quarter, which ended on 25 January 2014, the capital expenditures for the Nook were $7.4 million. This represents a decline of 74% from the amount spent on the group in the same period in the previous fiscal year, and over the past 9 months B&N has cut Nook capital expenditures by an average of 55%.

B&N reported a $61 million loss on the Nook that quarter on $157 million in revenue from Nook content and hardware sales.

Part of the reduced expenditures comes from the layoffs which we’ve been reading about for the past several months. B&N confirmed on their conference call with analysts last month that 190 positions had been eliminated as B&N shifts focus from the consumer ebook market to the educational market. They have also been hiring new staff with that goal in mind.

The SEC filing also notes that Barnes & Noble has yet to fully comply with their international obligations to Microsoft, and that B&N is still working towards selling a sufficiency of ebooks in 10 markets. While they did launch the Nook store in 32 countries in 2014, B&N has acknowledged that effort has not reached the "content thresholds" called for by the Microsoft contract. B&N was supposed to hit that milestone by June 2013, and then by the end of the 2013 calendar year, but they believe they will still make their latest deadline of April 2014, when the current fiscal year ends.

Until Barnes & Noble achieves the necessary level, the delay “may entitle Microsoft to defer a portion of advance payments until the target expansion requirement is met.” As part of their investment in Nook Media in 2012, Microsoft is paying B&N $25 million annually for five years to help with the international expansion.


The post B&N Cuts Nook Funding by 74% appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Kobo: Ending Agency Pricing Will Kill Us

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 09:08 AM PST

Canada’s 12697518645_c8c100ce70_m[1]Competition Bureau announced a settlement last month with 4 publishers to end agency pricing, but it looks like the process isn’t going to go as smooth as one might have expected.

Kobo has filed an objection to the consent decree, and they ask that the settlement be modified so that they are not negatively impacted by the sudden and radical change to the Canadian ebook market.

As part of their filing. Kobo revealed some rather telling details about their business. They blame the end of agency in the US for the loss of their market share, and they predict that the same will happen in Canada.

Kobo’s objection was actually filed 2 weeks ago, but I only got a copy (PDF) yesterday (via Quill and Quire). it’s an interesting read, and if you take it at face value then the future does not bode well for Kobo.

Here are a couple sections from the PDF that spell out how

44. The losses would impact Kobo’s ability to compete in the Canadian market. By analogy, in the US, when Agency Lite was brought into existence, Kobo saw its net revenues steadily decline. Kobo has since stopped investing in marketing in the US, closed its office in Chicago and is focusing on other markets. Its market share and revenues are now negligible there. Although Kobo is a bigger player in the Canadian market, this will not detract from the fact that such significant losses will impact Kobo’s ability to invest in technology and to market its offerings. Regardless of which pricing strategy Kobo chooses to adopt, it expects to be less competitive than it is presently and will lose market share to E-book Retailers who are willing to consistently price their E-books at unsustainably low levels that other competitors simply cannot meet.

45. The harm to the E-book market more broadly will also be significant in that the prohibition on Agency will likely lead to the exit of competitors from the Canadian market and significant financial pressure being brought to bear on the ones who remain. Sony and Barnes & Noble’s respective experiences in the US are illustrative of the negative effect of a ban on Agency. Sony exited the E-book market in the US entirely (and has now had its E-book business acquired by Kobo) , and Barnes & Noble’s NOOK E-book division reported heavy losses fo r the 2013 fiscal year. A ban on Agency, even in the short term, will have a lasting and irreversible negative impact on the market for E-books in Canada.

In short, Kobo is saying that when Amazon was allowed to discount ebooks in the US, Kobo was unable to compete effectively, not even by means other than price (marketing, CS, features, community). This is rather curious because other companies, including Zola Books, The Reading Room, Bilbary, Oyster, and Scribd all seem to be able to compete effectively against Amazon in the US ebook market. Also, (Barnes & Noble saw most of its growth in the pre-agency era, claiming a 20% market share by the end of April 2010. This only grew another 6% to 8% in the following years. )

Perhaps Kobo should buy out one of their smaller competitors and put that smaller competitor in charge of the Kobo ebookstore?

On a related note, if Kobo has only a negligible market share in the US then I have to wonder whether their partners at the ABA, and its IndieBound program, are beginning to regret betting on the losing horse. Indie booksellers who belong to the ABA can take part in an affiliate program and earn a commission on Kobo ebooks and hardware, but if Kobo only has a negligible share of the US ebook market then the booksellers are not generating a lot of revenue.

image by Sean MacEntee


The post Kobo: Ending Agency Pricing Will Kill Us appeared first on The Digital Reader.

The Script Watch Adds an Old School Idea to Digital Watches

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 07:17 AM PST

Smartwatches105312_B2_Watch_Script might be getting all of the buzz but sometimes older is better. Take the Script Watch, for example. This watch has just shown up on the MoMA’s museum gift shop website, and it offers a new way to show the time.

Like many digital watches, the Script Watch has an LCD watch face, but rather than have the same boring rectangular segments found on most digital watches, this watch instead displays the time in numbers that almost look like calligraphy.

I’m not one to buy a watch, especially not when it costs $175, but I can appreciate the design. This isn’t quite as novel as the Kisai Rorschach watch, but on the other hand it’s also not nearly as difficult to read:



This is a pretty watch, but at $175 I wish that the designers had packed in more features. It costs about as much as some smartphones, and yet it only has the one ability – to show the time.


The post The Script Watch Adds an Old School Idea to Digital Watches appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Is Google Pressuring Asus to Abandon Dual-Boot Tablets? Probably Not

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 06:52 AM PST

Rumors are asus dual bootstill circulating that Google might block Asus from releasing a dual-boot Android/Windows tablet, but so far there’s still no credible evidence to back them up.

A couple weeks ago Digitimes broke the news that Google was leaning on Asus:

Asustek is likely to be forced to give up plans to launch its dual-OS notebook, the Transformer Book Duet TD300, due to resistance from Google, according to a Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN) report.

I read about the rumor a couple weeks ago, but I didn’t cover the story because Digitimes is simply not a credible source. They’ve been wrong too often. Sure, this latest rumor is plausible and Google has exerted this kind of pressure in the past, but that doesn’t mean that this rumor is true.

But then Digitimes repeated the rumor today, and I thought it worth a comment. I still don’t find this plausible:

Intel and Asustek Computer released dual OS tablets at CES 2014 that combine Windows and Android operating systems into one unit in an attempt to tackle a new segment in the tablet market. However, due to pressure from Google, Asustek has postponed plans to release its TD300 tablet that was presented at CES 2014. Digitimes Research believes dual system devices benefit Intel, PC vendors and Microsoft while Google will get the brunt of such developments due to a possible increase in the Windows penetration rate.

The idea behind the rumor is that Google is using their control of Google Play and Android device certification to pressure Asus. If Asus doesn’t comply with Google’s request to drop the dual-boot device, none of Asus’s other Android gadgets will get certified – or so the rumor goes.

While that sounds plausible and it matchs with what Google has done before, there’s a problem with it. No one has corroborated the story.

“Google Throws Its Weight Around” would be a major tech story if it were true, and everyone would have covered it. But a brief check of Google search results tells me that hardly anyone has, and the only stories I can find were all sourced from Digitimes.

Frankly, this is a rumor which can be ignored until it’s confirmed by Asus.

The post Is Google Pressuring Asus to Abandon Dual-Boot Tablets? Probably Not appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Tomorrow is the National Day of Unplugging

Posted: 07 Mar 2014 05:58 AM PST

You undologo[1]can’t live without your gadget, right? Tomorrow is your chance to see if that’s really true.

Saturday, March 8th, is the National Day of Unplugging. It technically starts at sundown on Friday, and it continues until sundown on Saturday. It’s a day for all connected junkies to give up their gadget cold turkey:

Do you have multiple cell phones? Take your ipad to the beach on vacation? Ever find it hard to get through a conversation without posting an update to Facebook? Is your computer always on?

We increasingly miss out on the important moments of our lives as we pass the hours with our noses buried in our iPhones and BlackBerry's, chronicling our every move through Facebook and Twitter and shielding ourselves from the outside world with the bubble of "silence" that our earphones create.

If you recognize that in yourself – or your friends, families or colleagues— join us for the National Day of Unplugging, sign the Unplug pledge and start living a different life: connect with the people in your street, neighborhood and city, have an uninterrupted meal or read a book to your child.

The National Day of Unplugging is a 24 hour period – running from sundown to sundown – and starts on the first Friday in March. The project is an outgrowth of The Sabbath Manifesto, an adaption of our ancestors' ritual of carving out one day per week to unwind, unplug, relax, reflect, get outdoors, and connect with loved ones.

If this is only coming across your radar today, you’re not alone. I only read about it yesterday, when MediaShift posted a collection of tips on how to get through the withdrawal symptoms.

So do you plan to participate? I would, but I have work that needs to get done.

National Day of Unplugging

The post Tomorrow is the National Day of Unplugging appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment