Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 22 May 2014

Posted: 21 May 2014 09:22 PM PDT

For your reading pleasure today, I have a couple takes on the current debate over trigger warnings (link, link), the problem with selling ebooks in Google Play (link), and more. And no matter what some may say today, it was the printing press that destroyed society, not the internet (link).

  • Every drunken man’s dream is a book (Indies Unlimited)
  • How a Raccoon Became an Aardvark (The New Yorker)
  • The irresistible rise of the short story (Telegraph)
  • Library Journal & BiblioBoard to Curate Self-Published Books in Libraries (GalleyCat)
  • On Why The Authors Guild is Wrong about the Future (The Geeky Press)
  • Publishing Campaigns Grow On Kickstarter (PW)
  • Selling Ebooks on Google Play: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Jason Matthews (The Book Designer)
  • What’s Missing From the Conversation About Trigger Warnings for Books (BOOK RIOT)
  • Why Trigger Warnings Threaten Free Speech, Original Voices, and Thoughtful Discourse (Reluctant Habits)

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Amazon Launches New Kindle Store Section Devoted to eBook Singles – “Short Reads”

Posted: 21 May 2014 03:11 PM PDT

Never one to pass on a new way to promote a story, Amazon has in the past launched sections of the Kindle Store for serials, short-short works (Kindle Singles), and for enhanced ebooks, and a few weeks ago they added another section for stories that only take 15 minutes to a couple hours to read.

amazon kindle store short reads

The Short Reads section has not been announced by Amazon, but it went live in the Kindle Store some time in late March 2014. It was first noticed by authors on KBoards, and it contains stories which are anywhere from 1 to 100 pages in length, with prices between free and $1.99.

It’s not clear whether the new section has content that can’t be found in other parts of the Kindle Store, but it does have a unique organizational scheme. The stories are broken up in to 6 sub-sections based on the estimated reading time (15/30/45/60/90/120 minutes). It’s also not clear how many titles are available; based on the menu on the left there seems to be around 600,000 titles, all sorted by length.

amazon kindle store short reads

The ebooks are a mix of fiction and non-fiction. I don’t think I saw any excerpts, but there were a number of stories that had previously been published in anthologies, magazines, etc. A few minutes browsing also showed me that Amazon is showing content from several of their publishing imprints, including Kindle Worlds, Story Front, Kindle Singles, and Day One Journal.

All of these imprints publish short works, and their presence here suggests that Amazon launched Short Reads in order to make it easier for readers who simply want a short piece to quickly browse all the short works Amazon sells on a single page.

Starting with Kindle Singles (announced in January 2011), the 4 imprints were launched over the course of 3 years and cover a diverse selection of content. Kindle Worlds, for example, launched in June 2013 with a focus on licensed fiction. DayOne is a digital literary journal which launched in October 2013, and StoryFront launched in December 2013 as Amazon’s fourth foray into short fiction.


Thin Reads

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Vimeo Launches “Copyright Match” to Find and Remove Pirated Videos

Posted: 21 May 2014 10:51 AM PDT

logo[1]Vimeo has gone for nearly a decade without any automated copyright tool like Youtube’s ContentID, but the good times have come to an end. Earlier today the video hosting site launched Copyright Match, a new system intended to “respect the boundaries of copyright law and the rights of other creators”.

Over the last nine years, Vimeo has grown into one of the most visited video destinations in the world. We now have more than 26 million registered members, with over 170 million people swinging by monthly to watch awesome videos. At our size, we need a semi-automated system to help us enforce those beloved guidelines.

And so Copyright Match is a technical solution to an issue that affects many content-sharing services. Namely: we want people to be able to express themselves in the ways they see fit, but we also want to respect the boundaries of copyright law and the rights of other creators.

Describing itself as a home for original work, Vimeo sees Content Match as being the ideal balance between the rights of copyright holders and other creators. It builds on the mistakes we’ve all seen Youtube’s ContentID make over the years, and tries to protect the original artists without unduly hampering creators who make new work that qualifies as a "fair use" under copyright law or is based on material that's being used with permission.

Rather than automatically flag and remove any suspect videos, Content Match scans uploaded videos and asks the uploader to confirm that the video is legit. Vimeo will accept fair use as a defense, and they’ll also note whether suspect video uses legitimately licensed content. In addition to letting uploaders plead their case, Vimeo also lets them replace or delete the video, on in certain situations replace the audio track.

It’s too early to pass judgement, but at this point Content Match looks much more creator and user friendly than for example the system used by uStream, which in 2012 cut off the streaming video for the Hugo Awards when someone played a licensed clip from Doctor Who. It’s also bound to be better than ContentID, which has grown infamous for blocking videos and penalizing uploaders for nonsensical reasons like a radio briefly playing in the background.

The Verge


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Goodreads Adds New “Ask the Author” Feature

Posted: 21 May 2014 09:01 AM PDT

Have youGoodreads ever wanted to ask Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood, or Tim Ferriss where they got the idea for their latest work? Thanks to the new Ask the Author feature which Goodreads launched today, now you can.

Goodreads has long enabled readers to ask questions of and interact with authors, and today the online community expanded the ongoing discussions with a new option:

Ask the Author allows readers to ask questions and get answers from their favorite authors. At Goodreads, we believe the relationship between authors and readers is very special. Authors tell stories and create worlds that spark the imaginations of their readers. Now readers can deepen that connection by asking questions about the new worlds, ideas, and people they’ve discovered in books.

This feature is going live today, with 54 authors participating, and over the next few weeks the Goodreads will be rolling out the feature to authors participating in the Goodreads Author program. All 100,000+ authors  in the program will have the option of taking questions from fans and readers.

Goodreads has posted a list of the 54 authors already taking questions over on their blog post. To check whether other authors are participating, visit their author profile and look for the “Ask the Author” section.

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Simon & Schuster Strikes Deals With Scribd, Oyster

Posted: 21 May 2014 05:12 AM PDT

The oyster logoebook subscription market picked up steam today as Simon & Schuster became the fourth major US publisher to sign deals with Scribd and Oyster.

Simon & Schuster has agreed to make available more than 10,000 titles from their backlist to the two startups.

Launched last Fall, Scribd and Oyster each offer an all-you-can-read subscription service similar to the ones offered by companies like Netflix and Spotify. Scribd offers access to a catalog of more than 400,000 titles (which can be read on Android, iOS, and your web browser) for $9 a month, and Oyster offers access to more than 500,000 titles (which can only be read on the iPhone, iPad) for $10 a month.

Following in the footsteps of HarperCollins, Wiley, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Simon & Schuster is the fourth major US publisher to sign a deal with either Scribd or Oyster, which have drawn most of their content from smaller publishers as well as distributors like Smashwords.

Wiley is still dabbling in the market with a mere 1,000 titles at Scribd, but both HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster are being more aggressive in using the services as a way to jump-start sales of older books. HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster  each limit the titles supplied to Scribd and Oyster to titles which were published over a year ago.

According to Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy said, “Consumers have clearly taken to subscription models for other media, and we expect that our participation in these services will encourage discovery of our books, grow the audience and expand our retail reach for our authors, and create new revenue streams under an author-friendly, advantageous business model for both author and publisher.”

Three other major US publishers (Hachette, Penguin Random House, and Macmillan) are still holding back from the subscription ebook market.

“It’s not a model for us,” Evan Schnittman, chief marketing and sales officer at Hachette, told the WSJ. Acknowledging the contradiction between Hachette’s position and what consumers want, he added: “My kids no longer buy music because they are using one of many music subscription services and have access 24/7.”

Simon & Schuster signed the deals today because they too realize that Oyster and Scribd offer a service that customers want which could also boost direct sales. “We thought the lower barrier to reading could, in fact, increase sales,” Ms. Reidy said. “Whether a book is 20 years old or five years old, they are equally discoverable.”

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