- The Morning Coffee – 15 May 2014
- AAR Joins the Fray in the Amazon-Hachette Contract Dispute
- Mozilla to Bake-In DRM in Next Version of Firefox
- Crazy Idea of the Week: iPhone 6 will have a 4.7″, 1704 x 960 Resolution Display
- What’s His Name Wins Legal Battle, Forces Google to Delete Search Results
- Round Up: Revenue, eBooks Up and Down at HarperCollins, HMH, and Hachette
- Microsoft Accidentally Reveals Launch Details for New Surface Pro 3
- George RR Martin Explains Why He Writes in a DOS-Based Word Program
Posted: 14 May 2014 09:32 PM PDT
Top stories this Thursday morning include an argument for university presses bundling ebooks with print books (link), the stereotypical covers of books set in Africa (link), a more nuanced view of the latest iteration of “kids don’t read any more” (link), a look at one of the last remaining e-textbook startups (link), and more.
Posted: 14 May 2014 04:19 PM PDT
The AAR (Association of Authors Representatives) has sent an open letter today to Amazon, calling Amazon out for delaying new orders of Hachette titles and reducing the number of copies they stock in their warehouses.
Amazon is reportedly negotiating new contracts with Hachette, and Amazon is using the stock situation to pressure Hachette into signing a deal. This is much the same as what B&N did last year, only the Amazon-Hachette negotiation should matter more to the average consumer than last year’s fight.
According to PW the negotiations cover both paper books and ebooks, but most importantly the ebook negotiations could decide whether Amazon will retain the ability to discount ebook prices. Hachette was one of the first to settle the ebook antitrust lawsuit in 2012, and the 2 year period where they were required to relinquish price controls is about up.
Amazon’s negotiation with Hachette is going to set the tone for all of the subsequent ebook contract negotiations. If Amazon loses this round, Agency pricing could make a comeback, resulting in financial harm to ebook buyers.
Here is the letter:
Dear Amazon Team,
I am writing as the President of the AAR, the Association of Authors Representatives, the largest organization of literary and dramatic agents in North America. The AAR has more than 400 member agents, who in turn represent tens of thousands of authors, dramatists, and other rights owners.
The AAR has heard from many of its members reporting that Amazon has delayed delivery and/or otherwise impeded the sale of many of their clients' books that were published by Hachette. Apparently, those actions are a part of Amazon's current business dispute with Hachette. Without knowledge of the issues underlying that dispute, and without taking a position on that dispute, we want to advise you in the strongest possible terms that the AAR deplores any attempt by any party that would seek to injure and punish innocent authors–and their innocent readers– in order to pursue its position in a business dispute. We believe that such actions are analogous to hostage-taking to extort concessions, and are just as indefensible.
The AAR supports the maximum possible sale and dissemination of all published works, which benefits not only the authors and readers of those works but all of society. On a purely commercial basis, we believe that such unrestricted dissemination of published works leads to repeat readers and buyers, which serves the economic interests of not only their authors and publishers but their sellers and distributors, including quite prominently Amazon. Each of us has a role to play in this ecosystem, and surely Amazon does not need to–and should not in any event–hold the works of selected individual authors hostage as a weapon in a negotiation with a publisher. This is a brutal and manipulative tactic, ironically from a company that proclaims its goal to fully satisfy the reading needs and desires of its customers and to be a champion of authors.
image by mararie
The post AAR Joins the Fray in the Amazon-Hachette Contract Dispute appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 14 May 2014 12:37 PM PDT
Earlier today Mozilla acquiesced to a market reality which ebook retailers have known for years.
Ask anyone who has tried to launch an ebookstore and they’ll tell you that the only way to get titles from major publishers is to integrate DRM into the ebookstore – often times at high cost. Many publishers simply won’t distribute to an ebookstore that lacks DRM, with some even going so far as to question the security of new types of DRM (like the custom DRM used by Oyster).
Similarly, the only way for a browser maker to support commercially streamed video is to enable support for DRM. In the past that meant indirectly supporting DRM via Flash and Silverlight, but in the future streaming DRM is going to have to be built in to the web browsers.
And so today, in a long and meandering blog post, Mozilla announced that they would be integrating DRM into the next version of Firefox. They will be using closed-source code, but to add an extra layer of protection they will wrap that code in open source code.
Ostensibly this change is going to make it easy for end users, but it also puts web browser makers between a rock and a hard place. Either they integrate the new DRM, or they lose relevance.
I agree with them when they say they don’t really have a choice:
There’s no definite timeline for crippling Firefox with the new DRM, but they did say that it is coming. It will be first be tested in developer builds, before it is inflicted upon users. Mozilla plans to have the DRM disabled by default, requiring a user to enable it before watching a streaming video, but it will be present in future Windows, OSX, and Linux versions of the Firefox web browser.
There’s no mention of Android, which is unfortunate. As we know from trying to get Amazon Instant Video working on the platform, Flash support on Android is spotty at best, and Silverlight is not supported at all. This is part of the reason why so many streaming video services have deployed their own app.
Posted: 14 May 2014 11:07 AM PDT
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Apple will release an iPhone later this year with a larger screen (probably a 4.7″ screen). Few solid details are known about this screen, not its construction, resolution, or exact size, but today 9to5Mac has put forward a novel theory which guesses at the resolution.
They say they have sources which put the resolution of the new screen at 1704 x 960. While that is not a clean multiple of the resolution of the existing 4″ screen, 9to5Mac has an explanation as to why this is the new screen resolution.
But first, a little background. Apple has had 3 standard screen resolutions on the iPhone since the first model launched in 2007:
And that brings us to today. The iPhone 6 is expected to have a 4.7″ screen. Clearly the new and larger screen is going to have more pixels than the existing screen on the iPhone 5s, but your guess is as good as mine as to the number.
The simple and straightforward solution would be to quadruple the resolution again, this time jumping to 2272 x 1280. That would result in a screen which was so sharp you would be able to see an angel dance on the head of a pin. This screen would have a pixel density of around 555 ppi, which so far as I know is sharper than anything else on the market.
But rather than quadrupling the resolution, 9to5Mac is proposing that it will only increase by one and a quarter (to 1704 x 960). They have an intricate explanation for the change:
They got the description of the math wrong, but I still agree with their math and their argument which supports it.
While this idea is a little crazy, it is the best argument I have read so far. Would anyone care to take a bet on whether this is true?
The post Crazy Idea of the Week: iPhone 6 will have a 4.7″, 1704 x 960 Resolution Display appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 14 May 2014 09:50 AM PDT
Yesterday the EU Court of Justice brought Orwell’s dystopia one step closer to existing. The court issued a ruling in a case against Google which basically said hang the historical factual record; the offended emotions of an individual trumped collective rights of everyone else and the needs of society.
Over the past few years the European Union has been toying with the idea that an individual would have the right to censor any mentions of himself or herself online. The EU called it “the right to be forgotten”, but censorship by any other name still smells as sweet.
Under this directive, an individual can sue companies to have them remove links or content which mentions the individual.
It doesn’t matter whether the details are factually accurate or not, just that they describe an individual. It also doesn’t matter that this would abrogate everyone else’s right to freedom of speech, nor that the EU Court of Justice Advocate General Niilo Jaaskinen argued that there is no such right under the European data and privacy directive, or that a European agency has already made it clear that this idea was fundamentally impossible to accomplish:
Today’s decision came as a result of a privacy lawsuit brought by What’s His Name. This individual sued Google in order to get the search engine to remove results which mentioned a legal proceeding from the 1990s.
What’s His Name claimed that newspaper articles written at the time which mentioned his insolvency proceedings violated his privacy. He was unable to get the newspaper to take the article down, so he instead he sued Google, again arguing that his privacy was being violated when the articles turned up in Google’s search results. Now that the matter was settled he wanted the details to vanish from the ether.
Google fought the case before a Spanish court, which kicked the case up to the EU Court of Justice. Yesterday the court ruled that:
By giving an individual the power to rewrite history, the EU has moved us one step closer to 1984.
And no, I am not being snarky or hysterical; today the individual has the right to be forgotten but tomorrow, when the state reserves that right to the authorities, we will be firmly in the era of 1984.
The post What’s His Name Wins Legal Battle, Forces Google to Delete Search Results appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 14 May 2014 07:17 AM PDT
Over the past week 3 quarterly reports from major US publishers have crossed my desk, and rather than cover each one individually I waited to post a round up.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The post Round Up: Revenue, eBooks Up and Down at HarperCollins, HMH, and Hachette appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 14 May 2014 05:09 AM PDT
Microsoft is holding a press event for their Surface tablet next week, and earlier today the company may have inadvertently revealed one of the announcements.
There’s a mention on one of Microsoft’s support pages which mentions the Surface Pro 3. It doesn’t tell us anything useful, just that an “update is available that adds support to the Surface Pro 3 camera”.
There’s a chance that this could simply be a typo, but given the rumors that circulated last week I don’t think that is the case. According to Cnet, Microsoft is going to be launching a new Intel-powered Surface tablet next week. This new model is in addition to the 8″ Surface Mini tablet which had previously leaked.
It’s been just over 6 months since Microsoft shipped the Surface Pro 2. While it might seem to soon for a new model, it’s only been about 15 months since the first Surface Pro shipped. If Microsoft is going for an extremely short upgrade cycle then launching a new model next week would make sense.
The Surface Pro 2 has a 10.5″ screen and runs Windows 8.1 on a Haswell Core i5 CPU. Starting with a retail of $900, it is intended as an all in one replacement for laptops and desktops.
The post Microsoft Accidentally Reveals Launch Details for New Surface Pro 3 appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 14 May 2014 04:13 AM PDT
Last night the author confessed to late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien that he writes on a computer system which is older than some of his fans.
“I actually have two computers,” Martin told Conan. “I have a computer I browse the Internet with and I get my email on, and I do my taxes on. And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine, not connected to the Internet. I use WordStar 4.0 as my word processing system.”
In short, Martin has created a distraction-free writing environment, and I envy him. The internet is a tempting distraction which I have to fight everyday. In fact, my better writing days can often be measured by how successfully I ignored the internet.
The post George RR Martin Explains Why He Writes in a DOS-Based Word Program appeared first on The Digital Reader.
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