- Content was What was Holding Back the Japanese eBook Market, Not Twice-Shy Consumers
- DBW Webcast: Five Success Factors of Publishing Startups
- E-ink Names New CEO, Elects New Board
- New Rumors Say Amazon is Pushing for Contract Revisions in the UK
- Police Reportedly Smash Massive Commercial Piracy Operation in Spain
- iFixit Tears Apart the Surface Pro 3
- The Morning Coffee – 23 June 2014
- Reports of the Failure of Digital Publishing Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
- The History of English in Ten Minutes (video)
Posted: 23 Jun 2014 04:04 PM PDT
In a country that invented the idea of cellphone novels, developed the first E-ink ereader, and has gadget-loving consumers who commute long distances everyday, it is a little odd that ebooks didn’t explode in Japan long before the Kindle launched in the US. Have you ever wondered why the Japanese ebook market is lagging behind that of the US?
An article which crossed my desk this morning tries to answer that question. According to The Japan Times, the Japanese ebook market sputtered for many years because of risk-averse consumers:
I think the article reaches the wrong conclusion, but it’s still worth reading.
It offers a fascinating look at the recent history of failed ebook efforts in Japan, including:
In short, the Japanese ebook market has seen so many retailers come and go that the US equivalent would be if Best Buy, Target, Circuit City, Krogers, Menards, Meijers, and even 7-11 thought it would be a great idea to slap their logo on an app and launch an ebookstore.
All that noise and all those competitors would make it hard to choose a single store, and it would also make it difficult for any one retailer to turn a profit, but I don’t think that is the real reason why the Japanese ebook market has been stymied.
While the article in The Japan Times is a good look at the current state of the Japanese ebook market, it doesn’t take a historical view and thus it misses at least one important detail, which is how many titles were offered by the ebookstores.
And when Sony made their reappearance in the Japanese ebook market in 2010, they launched an ebookstore with only 20,000 titles.
In comparison, Amazon shocked everyone when they launched the Kindle three years earlier and offered a catalog of 90,000 titles.
Content was one of the stumbling blocks for the US market for many years, and the same is true for the Japanese market. If there’s not enough content to buy then consumers won’t invest, retailers can’t turn a profit, and the market fizzles.
It doesn’t matter whether an ebookstore is popular or not,and it doesn’t matter whether the tech is any good; if the catalog is too small then there simply won’t be enough sales to keep it in business.
And that is probably what kept the Japanese ebook market so small for so many years.
P.S. Content was not the only issue holding back that market, but I would still rate it higher than risk-averse consumers.
image by MIKI Yoshihito (´???)
The post Content was What was Holding Back the Japanese eBook Market, Not Twice-Shy Consumers appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 23 Jun 2014 01:14 PM PDT
Digital Book World is holding a webcast (cost: $45) tomorrow featuring three startups which have navigated the rocky terrain of this industry:
This webcast caught my eye earlier today when I helped one of the participants, Andrew Rhomberg, put together a list of failed ebook hardware startups. This includes companies like Augen, Pandigital, Copia, Polymer Vision, Plastic Logic, txtr, etc. A debate ensued where we discussed whether B&N should go in that list, or companies like Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony. (Each of those companies have launched an ereader which subsequently flopped.)
Andrew is calling that section of his presentation “the tar pits of publishing”, which I think is appropriate. From what I read on twitter today, the publishing industry is uniquely difficult for startups, more so than any other industry. This webcast should help listeners understand why.
The post DBW Webcast: Five Success Factors of Publishing Startups appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 23 Jun 2014 11:21 AM PDT
Fu-Jen “Frank” Ko will be taking over from Felix Ho as CEO.
Dr Ko joined E-ink in December as the Chief Strategy Officer, where Dr. Ko led with a strong vision to expand E-ink's business and extend the application of E-ink technologies. Dr. Ko’s predecessor, Felix Ho, has held the position of interim CEO ever since the departure of Scott Liu in March 2013.
“I am honored to serve as Chairman and CEO of E Ink Holdings, a company that created and led the ePaper industry for many years with a strong global IP portfolio, innovative products and an incredible team," said Dr. Ko.
In addition to a new CEO, E-ink also has a new President, Johnson Lee, formerly of E-ink subsidiary Hydis, and a new board of directors, including three independent directors.: Dr. JT Wen, professor at National Chengchi University; Dr. Biing-Seng Wu, chairman of Himax Corporation; and Mr. Ten-Chung Chen, former general manager of Advantech America.
With the decline of the global ereader market, E-ink is facing increasing pressure to adapt its screen tech to serve new markets. Over the past several years they have partnered with new companies developing new products, including smartphone cases, new signage including a 32″ color E-ink display, and a novelty wall clock.
Revenues are still down, but with E-ink’s extensive patent portfolio and tech know-how the company has plenty to work with to generate new revenue. (And if nothing else, I’m sure Amazon would be interested in acquiring E-ink.)
Posted: 23 Jun 2014 09:53 AM PDT
Citing unnamed sources, The Bookseller reports:
Those are quite different contract terms than what the latest leak has revealed about Amazon’s negotiations with Hachette over the weekend. According to one of the NYTimes’s unnamed sources Amazon is negotiating with Hachette over co-op fees, with the retailer teasing out each service they can provide and asking to be paid for it specifically.
it’s not known why Amazon is seeking different terms in the UK, but they are also rumored to be new most favored nation clauses.
Amazon is also reportedly seeking MFN clauses which include not just the option for Amazon to match prices with their competitors but which also gives Amazon the option to match whatever terms a publisher might get for a new business arrangement, for example with a subscription service.
If that is true then it could be a sign that Amazon is already looking ahead to their next ebook effort, or at the very least they don’t want to be a step behind when someone else comes up with a new idea for the ebook market. And that is a telling clue of where Amazon thinks the book industry is going.
On a related note, what do you think the POD clause means?
I’m not sure if Amazon is that confident that their printing quality is that good, or if they just want to guarantee 100% availability for the books they carry.
image by hnnbz
The post New Rumors Say Amazon is Pushing for Contract Revisions in the UK appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 23 Jun 2014 07:40 AM PDT
According to the AP:
A Spanish language report also added that the police seized two laptop computers, ten hard drives, a USB flash drive, and diverse documentation. It goes on to add that one of those arrested administered five copy shops in Madrid, some strategically located near university campuses.
Does this smell funky to anyone, or is it just me?
When I first read about this story in the AP, it set off a couple alarm bells. Some of the details and the way they are phrased didn’t sound quite true, so I went looking for local coverage. I didn’t find coverage in El Pais or other major Spanish newspapers, but I did find a single story on the topic, and based on how it was written and its similarities to the AP story I have even more questions than before.
For example, if this operation was so large then why didn’t the reports include the titles of some of the pirated books? And if it were so large as to extend across 8 copy shops in Madrid and Seville then why were only 3 people arrested?
There’s more to this story than what we have read in the news, and until we find out what that is I’d suggest taking it with a grain of salt. It is entirely possible that the police raid came as a result of political pressure, and not because there were crimes going on.
On the other hand, the copy shops were reportedly located near universities. If they were pirating textbooks and academic material and selling to impoverished students then it’s entirely possible that this operation was as large as the reports claim.
If you know what is really going on, the comments are open.
image by hermenpaca
The post Police Reportedly Smash Massive Commercial Piracy Operation in Spain appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 23 Jun 2014 06:32 AM PDT
The Surface Pro 3 packs more computing power into a smaller space than I would have thought practical, and that comes at a price. iFixit has revealed that this tablet is not repairable by anyone other than an official tech with official tools (and maybe not even then).
While iFixit did mange to tease apart the components, they also shattered the screen (twice). Once inside, they found that many of the components are either glued in place of attached with T3 Torx screws, making it very difficult for even the most ambitious and foolhardy DIYers to add after market modifications.
They did note, though, that once the battery was unglued it could simply be unplugged. And the SSD was oddly easy to swap out, assuming you don’t mind destroying the screen while opening the case.
The Surface Pro 3 is both larger and thinner than the earlier models, which could explain why it is rated as being less repairable. It sports a 12″ screen with a screen resolution of 2160 x 1440, and it runs Windows 8.1.
Weighing in at 800 grams and measuring a mere 9.1mm thin, this tablet is thinner and lighter than its predecessor (it’s also lighter than the 13″ Macbook Air). Microsoft launched a trio of Surface Pro 3 models last month, including models with a Core-i3 chip ($799) and s Core-i7 chip ($1,549). All run Windows 8.1.
Posted: 22 Jun 2014 09:12 PM PDT
Your reading list for this Monday morning includes one response to Doctorow’s Guardian piece on DRM, a competition to find tough tongue twisters, how Apple lost the ebook war, a revised Yog’s law (money doesn’t always flow to the writer anymore), and more.
Posted: 22 Jun 2014 07:21 PM PDT
“I Was a Digital Best Seller!” claimed Tony Horowitz in the NY Times on Thursday, only if you ask him the boast doesn’t amount to much.
Horowitz writes about his experience in trying to publish a Kindle Single first with a digital startup called The Global Mail, and then after that firm folded by dealing directly with Byliner. Between one issue and another (mainly signing with Byliner after it had already started to decline due to insolvency), Horowitz has a bad experience, sees few sales, and receives little promotional/marketing support from Byliner.
As a result Horowitz concludes that digital publishing idn’t a viable future:
Horowitz ‘s article is replete with the subtext that his mistake was in going digital, and not that he had the bad luck to sign with two digital middlemen which subsequently went under. Having been burned once, Horowitz would have you believe that, in general, digital publishing is not a viable option. (Anyone running an ebook startup might as well go flip burgers; you’re doomed anyway.)
This doesn’t bode well for all the authors who want to self-publish, does it?
Horowitz’s article is getting passed around as evidence that authors are being screwed by Byliner in particular, and digital publishers in general, but few seem to be paying much attention to the fact that Horowitz had uniquely abominable luck.
Paul Carr, writing over at PandoDaily, noted that his experiences with Byliner fared better than Horowitz’s:
Carr goes on to note that his e-single sold 14,710 copies, earning him around $9,200 over the past 3 years. He’s earned more from some of his traditionally published books, but he also has earned less on some titles.
And more importantly, this wasn’t a book. It was a single article, really more of a short memoir than anything, leading Carr to remark that “Close to ten grand for a long piece of journalism really isn't too bad at all”.
That’s a failure all right. It reminds me of how Stephen King’s early serial web novel The Plant was deemed a failure and cancelled because downloads exceeded an arbitrary ratio to sales, even though the novel had generated almost half a million in profit before the end.
When I read Horowitz’s piece on Friday, my first thought was that it was a hatchet piece designed to attack digital publishing in general.
My second thought was that his irrational and illogical conclusion could be summed up in a few words:
If at first you don’t succeed, give up. Whatever you are trying to do is impossible, and you’re better off not trying a second time.
If you break it down to its simplest form, Horowitz’s argument is really that simple. And it really is that wrong. Amazon invested in ebooks for 7 years before opening the Kindle Store. JK Rowling was turned down by a dozen publishing houses. And Margaret Mitchell was rejected 38 times for Gone with the Wind.
Horowitz is giving up on digital publishing after being burned once. That doesn’t strike you as a sound idea, does it?
The post Reports of the Failure of Digital Publishing Have Been Greatly Exaggerated appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 22 Jun 2014 02:14 PM PDT
English has sometimes been jokingly described as the result of Norman conquerors trying to make dates with Saxon barmaids, and there’s more than a grain of truth in the joke.
The following History of English video came across my desk last week.
In 10 one minute episodes, it shows the growth and change of English since before it was English. Starting with the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons and ending with Internet and Global English, this video shows just where many of our commonly used words came from.
The entire video is actually over 11 minutes long and rather densely packed with information, so I am betting I am not the only person who has not seen it all the way through. With that in mind, I would suggest heading over to the Open University website and viewing each of the chapters individually (especially the one on the influence of dictionaries).
If I hadn’t done that then I wouldn’t know that they got a number of details wrong in the chapter on Internet English. For example, a number of words like download and reboot were invented for the computer age, not the internet age. And firewall? That was a construction term which was adapted to a new use and a new meaning.
Still, even with the errors it’s well worth watching.
P.S. For more fun with English, here is a video which proves English pronunciation is crazy.
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