- SwarmIQ Launches Premium Service, Now Boasts 10k Users of Its News Reader Service
- Used eBook Website Launches in Europe
- Scribd Inks Deal With Connu, Oyster Releases Update for iOS App
- The Morning Coffee – 19 June 2014
- Watch Jeff Bezos Announce the Fire Phone
- Wattpad Plans to Stay Free Forever, Will Make Money From Native Ads
- OverDrive Carries Self-Published eBooks, but Don’t Worry – They’re in a Ghetto
Posted: 19 Jun 2014 11:12 AM PDT
In the post Google Reader world, Feedly gets most of the attention from the media (and from extortionists, sadly), but they are far from the only news reader service out there. One of Feedly’s smaller competitors, SwarmIQ, launched a premium service last month (it only just now crossed my desk).
SwarmIQ was one of many news reader services that toiled in the shadow of Google Reader but really only started getting attention in the wake of Google announcing the closure of Google Reader in March 2013. Describing itself as an “intelligent personalized RSS reader”, SwarmIQ was launched with the goal of helping users solve the information overload problem by providing users with a set of monitoring, filtering and notification tools to manage all the content coming at them through their feeds.
While SwarmIQ’s free users can follow up to 200 RSS feeds, for $5 a month (or $45 a year) readers can follow an unlimited number of feeds. Paying users also get the option of full-text search for the titles and articles that the user is following or has favorited, keyword-based filters for sorting and keeping an eye on specific topics, email alerts, and additional sharing/saving options that free users can’t access (including Twitter, Evernote, Pocket, and Instapaper).
The service currently boasts 10,000 users (in comparison, Feedly has 15 million users, including 24,000 paying users). It offers a browser-based reader with a customizable user interface, but no mobile apps.
The service was unimpressive when I tried it last August, but I am currently in the middle of revising and updating that review at the moment. It’s too early to say whether I can recommend it or not.
Do you use SwarmIQ? What do you think of it?
The post SwarmIQ Launches Premium Service, Now Boasts 10k Users of Its News Reader Service appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 19 Jun 2014 08:26 AM PDT
The question of whether it is legal to resell ebooks is still hotly contested in the US and Europe, but there is at least one startup which isn’t going to wait for an answer. A new Dutch website crossed my desk this week which appears to have been launched by someone who would rather beg forgiveness than ask permission.
TomKabinet.nl is a marketplace for buying and selling used ebooks similar to the ReDigi service here in the US. The Tom Kabinet website doesn’t sell the ebooks directly but instead acts as an facilitator between the buyer and seller, handling both the payment processing (for a fee) and the transfer of the ebook file.
Unlike Redigi, which requires buyers and sellers install an app so Redigi can ensure that a music file is deleted when sold, Tom Kabinet would appear to operate on the honor system with sellers, trusting them to remove the file from their servers. But the service is not quite so trusting with buyers, the FAQ mentions digital watermarks, suggesting that Tom Kabinet adds identifying details to the ebook files during the transfer process.
The current selection in the marketplace is still limited, and is mainly focused on Dutch titles. All of the ebooks are in Epub, and aside from the digital watermarks the ebooks are DRM-free. Due to technical and legal complications, Tom Kabinet has no plans to handle DRMed ebooks from iBooks, Google Play, or other sites, and Kindle ebooks are not supported – DRM-free or no.
So is this legal?
I can’t answer that question yet in Europe, but reselling ebooks in the US is almost certainly legal. Thanks to the nuances of the Capital Records v ReDigi decision, it is arguably legal in the US to resell an ebook so long as you sell the medium it resides on. ReDigi continues to act as a used music marketplace under that theory (they even have a patent on it), and last year they announced plans to launch a used ebook marketplace. Nothing seems to have come of that plan, though.
And as for Europe, Tom Kabinet argues that the resale of ebooks is legal under recent rulings from the European Court of Justice. That might be true, but it’s no guarantee that Tom Kabinet will win in the inevitable court case.
Posted: 19 Jun 2014 06:41 AM PDT
In addition to Oyster’s new app for Android, Oyster also released a new version of its app for iPad and iPhone earlier this week. And in related news, Scribd has signed a deal with the literary site Connu for exclusive content.
Calling itself a ” hub for contemporary short fiction”, Connu launched via a Kickstaer campaign in 2013 with the goal of publishing new and original short fiction. It publishes a new story 5 days a week which can be read in its app for iDevices or on the Connu website.
Scribd’s deal with Connu adds Connu's 30 most popular stories to Scribd's catalog of over 400,000 titles. Scribd will be featuring a new story every week in Scribd Selects, and readers can also browse all thirty stories on Connu's publisher page.
And in related news, Oyster has also rolled out an update for its app for iPad and iPhone. According to the changelog, the new features include a new reading theme, significant improvements to the existing themes, new options for night mode, and more:
You can find the Oyster app in iTunes. The app is free, but the service costs $10 a month (with a free trial). You have to sign up before you can use the free trial.
The post Scribd Inks Deal With Connu, Oyster Releases Update for iOS App appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 18 Jun 2014 08:50 PM PDT
Here are seven stories to read this morning.
Posted: 18 Jun 2014 05:02 PM PDT
A short while ago Amazon posted the video from the launch event for the Fire Phone. If like me you still have questions about the Fire Phone’s features and why some of the liveblogs sounded impressed, here’s your chance to find out.
I haven’t seen it myself, but I will be making time tonight. I still have doubts whether I will get the $650 smartphone. I know I won’t be tying myself to AT&T, but it remains to be seen whether this smartphone does enough to justify the expense.
So what do you think?
Posted: 18 Jun 2014 04:39 PM PDT
When it comes to funding a website with a lot of users, there are a number of tried and true business models, including selling ads, selling user data, charging for a premium service, and so on. Facebook, for example, started out by selling ads and later switched to charging users for access (FB calls it “boosting posts”), but not everyone goes down that route.
The online writing community Wattpad, on the other hand, is taking a different and somewhat riskier path. In a recent interview, Wattpad CEO Allen Lau said that rather than charge for access or clutter up the app and website with over ads, Wattpad was turning to native advertising.
This is only the latest of Wattpad’s monetization efforts. The community had briefly tested a fan funding program in the middle of 2013, but so far as I know that did not make it beyond the first few initial trials.
Native advertising, on the other hand, has a much more promising future. It has long been argued in some circles that advertising is content and content is advertising. In other words, some pundits argue that one should make the ad so enticing that it is what people come to see. That idea can come across as crass, and when tried by a news organization it’s highly unethical, but when done right it can work.
For example, in 2012 OKGo shot a car commercial for Chevrolet:
That music video has been viewed tens of millions of times and when it was first released it was written about extensively in the press. And all that attention was given to a car commercial.
And while there’s no way to predict whether this model will work out, the company is not short of funds or ideas. Wattpad raised $46 million in a series C funding round in April, and according to Lau it is still the “very early days in our experiments”. Lau suggested that another possibility is releasing stories for free, then charging for bonus content, but he one thing he never plans to try is charging for access to Wattpad itself: “It will remain a free app forever”.
The post Wattpad Plans to Stay Free Forever, Will Make Money From Native Ads appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 18 Jun 2014 03:00 PM PDT
When OverDrive and Smashwords announced a deal last month which made hundreds of thousands of self-published available to public libraries, I was thrilled. Besides the potential increase in revenues and ebook sales, indie authors were gaining access to a whole new market with opportunities to find new readers.
Unfortunately, the deal between Smashwords and Overdrive isn’t working out as well as one would like. In fact, I’m not sure how it could be worse.
Maria Schneider, an author who self-publishes under the Bear Mountain Books imprint, writes over on her blog about her dismay over the hassle of finding self-published ebooks at OverDrive:
No, you did not read that wrong. Overdrive has put self-published ebooks in their own ghetto.
One could argue that this is justifiable based on certain assumptions about quality, but that argument tends to fall apart when you consider the average quality of the latest celeb bio, or the latest – never mind, I’m not going to tear others down just to build up self-published ebooks.
I would suggest that any argument in favor of a ghetto for self-published ebooks tends to fall apart once you recall that ebooks accounted for half of the growth of the UK ebook market in 2013. People are clearly willing to pay for self-published ebooks, and yet at OverDrive they’re in the ghetto.
And if that doesn’t convince you, just remember that ebooks distributed by Smashwords have been hitting the NY Times best seller list since 2012.
Yes, OverDrive has put New York Times best sellers in a ghetto. And according to the statement I just got from OverDrive, they seem to think it’s a good idea:
Horse manure. A ghetto is a ghetto is a ghetto, no matter what you call it.
And it really doesn’t matter what OverDrive says or why they think they did it; the result is the same. By setting self-published ebooks apart (they’re not even in the same search indices as the rest of OverDrive’s catalog) OD is inherently labeling self-published ebooks as inferior.
OverDrive is also making it inherently difficult for libraries to find and buy the ebooks. How does that serve anyone’s purposes?
image by uvw916a
The post OverDrive Carries Self-Published eBooks, but Don’t Worry – They’re in a Ghetto appeared first on The Digital Reader.
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