Sunday, 9 March 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 10 March 2014

Posted: 09 Mar 2014 09:33 PM PDT

Top stories this Monday morning include a look at the horrible fine print for the Amtrak writing fellowship (link), the story I should have written about the LA Times Festival of Books (link), how Smashwords authors can opt out of Scribd (link), an interview of the founder of Medium (link), and more.

  • 16th century warfare manual reveals readers were just as interested in cats as we are…but as weapons (MobyLives)
  • "All aboard! Irrevocably, Absolutely, In Whole or In Part! (Scratch)
  • Fan artist complains of Anita Sarkeesian's unauthorized use of Dragon's Lair fan art (TeleRead)
  • Has everyone conceded the US ebook market to Amazon? (Dear Author)
  • Next Month: International Conference on Use and Re-use of Digital Content (LJ INFOdocket)
  • Publishers Weekly Ignores The Real Scandal At LA Times Festival of Books (David Gaughran)
  • Removing anonymity isn’t the answer for negative reviews (TeleRead)
  • Opt-in, turn-on, opt-out? (Indies Unlimited)
  • What kind of reader are you? Big Pub thinks they know. (Randall Wood, Author)
  • With Medium, Evan Williams Is Tackling the Future of Writing Online (

The post The Morning Coffee – 10 March 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

US Libraries Spend More on Audiobooks, DVDs than eBooks

Posted: 09 Mar 2014 05:15 PM PDT

Library8556682467_f650f29803_m[1] Journal released the results of a survey last week, and it revealed that ebooks don’t have nearly as large of a share of libraries’ budgets as the one might assume from the press coverage.

The Materials Survey 2014 looks at what each library spends to acquire new content, and it’s based on voluntary participation from US public libraries. The survey group includes a diverse bunch of libraries with budgets ranging from $22,000 a year to $6.3 million a year which serve a broad range of populations from over a million people in a metro area to under 10,000.

The survey found that paper books made up an average of 59% of libraries’ budgets, with DVDs (12%), audiobooks (8%), ebooks (7%), and other digital material (7%) making up most of the rest of the budget. The average materials budget was up 1.5% last year, and circulation was  up 2%.


As you can see in the infographic above, the survey also shows that ebook spending trended up and audiobook spending trended down as the size of libraries increased. The largest libraries were much more likely to offer downloadable movies, while the smallest libraries (those serving a population below 10,000) devoted a larger share of their acquisition budgets to paper books than larger libraries, averaging 73% spent on paper books vs an average of 59% for all libraries.

The smallest libraries were also the least likely to have an ebook collection, with only 2/3 reporting that they had ebooks they could lend (vs an average of over 90% of participating libraries). They also averaged a greater share spent on audiobooks, though with a difference of only a few percentage points this is less important.

In terns of long term trends spending on paper books held steady in 2013 at 59%, following a 7% drop over the past decade. eBook spending has increased over the past 5 years, especially over the past couple years where it averaged a 20% increase.

Library Journal

image by musescore

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Chitika : Samsung Now Accounts for Over Half of Android Web Traffic

Posted: 09 Mar 2014 11:30 AM PDT

Samsungchitika 1 might still be running a distant second to Apple in terms of the number of mobile devices sold, but if the latest info from Chitika is any sign, the gadget maker is cleaning up against their smaller competitors.

This ad network released a new report on Thursday, and it shows that Android smartphones and tablets made by Samsung account for 55% of Android web traffic. The report is based solely on ad impressions in North America so it is by no means a complete view of the tablet or smartphone market, but it does offer a peek at how mobile devices are being used.

To quantify this latest study, Chitika Insights examined tens of millions of U.S. and Canadian online ad impressions generated within the Chitika network from February 20 through February 26, 2014. For the Nth year in a row, iThings accounted for the majority of mobile device web traffic, this time generating twice as many ad impressions as Android devices. (This isn’t a measure of all mobile web traffic, just iOS and Android, of course.)  Of the remaining 35%, Samsung accounted for the single largest chunk, with their smartphones and tablets taking a 55.5% share.

chitika 2

Samsung's share of ad impressions has grown more than 8 percentage points since Chitika’s last report on the subject in July 2013. In the same time period, Amazon, Motorola, and HTC  all lost between half a percentage point and 3.5 percentage points. Google showed the largest gain (2.1%) after Samsung, but the big surprise today was Barnes & Noble. Their share of ad impressions grew from 1.3% to 1.8%, giving them a larger share than many of the smaller device makers.

Perhaps B&N’s numerous sales over the past 6 months have had a positive effect?

Whatever the reason, it doesn’t appear to have affected the use of tablets and smartphones much; smartphones still make up a larger share of ad impressions than tablets.


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Booksellers, Publishers Shocked that the LA Times Festival of Books Could Value Money Over Book Culture

Posted: 09 Mar 2014 08:53 AM PDT

When911[1] the LA Times Festival of Books unveiled their new website last week, many local booksellers were dismayed to discover that the site listed  the authors who were participating, and linked to where each author’s works could be found on

As one bookseller put it: “I was alarmed to see the buy buttons and even more alarmed because so many local booksellers exhibit at the festival,” said Mary Williams, events coordinator at Skylight Books.

Amazon is neither an exhibitor nor a sponsor of the festival, though they are in some ways a financial supporter. The book festival is an Amazon affiliate, and will earn a commission from any Amazon purchases made after you click that link.

This is the latest installment of a long running argument concerning whether (as one side would argue) one should support local bookstores or (as the other side would argue) make it easy for readers to buy books.

That is what many have asked for this past week:

Acting on its own, San Diego’s Warwick’s sent a letter directly to Festival organizers that said in part: “Why would a literary festival that celebrates the physical book allow a virtual retailer with no history at the festival to siphon off potential book sales? The festival is a huge undertaking for independent stores, many with limited resources, and the amount of preparation required to order books, facilitate load-in logistics and staff the booths is both costly and physically challenging. With a simple click of the mouse, the “buy” button on the festival website sends sales to Amazon thereby giving this online retailer an unprecedented and unfair advantage.”

Both SCIBA and Warwick’s have asked the Festival at least to provide an equal affiliate opportunity for IndieBound, for book buyers who want to purchase from an independent bookseller.

This blogger is usually not one to take sides in this argument, though I am on the side of  readers, but in this case I think that the booksellers do have a point in that the book festival erred in linking to

I’m not going to argue that the book festival should have linked to LA bookstores; as The Passive Voice explained when a similar discussion occurred in June 2013, that is a silly idea:

Let's see. I'm an author who lives in Tucumcari and I link to Tucumcari Books and Tackle from my website.

Of course, everybody knows there are neighborhoods on the web and all the people in Tucumcari spend almost all of their time in the Tucumcari web neighborhood checking out the latest news at Tucumcari High School, home of the Fighting Rattlers, and the city council meeting schedule. So most of the visitors to my author website will be within easy traveling distance of Tucumcari Books and Tackle and will go there to buy my books.

Anybody who lives in New York and, by mistake, wanders into the Tucumcari web neighborhood will, of course want to buy my books from Tucumcari Books and Tackle because TBT always stocks copies of all my books at prices far below the publisher's list price and will ship anywhere in two days at no charge.

Ebooks? TBT has great iPhone and Android apps that let me download any ebook I want in seconds at really low prices, sometimes even free.

One could perhaps argue that the book festival should link to a central site where readers from all over could search for and find their local bookstore. This is a good idea, and there is a page for this on the American Bookseller Association’s website.

Unfortunately, the ABA’s search page simply does not work, rendering this suggestion moot. Also, it does not include all bookstores in the US, much less the world, so even if it did work this would not be an ideal solution.

At this point I am sure many readers will assume that by eliminating the alternatives the only option left is to link to Amazon so readers can find and buy an author’s books.

Well, no, and here is where both the book festival and the local booksellers got it wrong. While it’s simply not practical for the book festival to find all of the sites where each author’s works are for sale, much less crowd the page with links, there is a better option.

The book festival’s long term goal is a literary focus (more so than a commercial focus), and as such it should promote book culture, reading, and all that jazz. The goal should be to connect readers with authors, not to connect readers with retailers.

In short, the book festival’s true error was not that they linked to Amazon, but that they neglected to link to each author’s website. This is an unfortunate oversight, but luckily it is also one which can readily be repaired.

This would not only resolve the bookseller’s complaint about linking to Amazon, it would also better serve the purpose of the book festival and it would be more useful to readers. Of course, most of those authors also link to Amazon first, but that is another matter.

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