Monday, 9 June 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Price-Fixing Lawsuit Filed by Retailers Given Green Light by Judge Cote

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 01:39 PM PDT

13.05.15-DoJvsApple[1]Judge Denise Cote breathed life into another antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five publishers today.

Dnaml was the first of several retailers to file a lawsuit against Apple and the 5 publishers, and it will also be the first to go to trial. In a 22-page ruling, Judge Cote ruled that the Australian ebook company had met the minimum requirements to have its day in court.

The case, which passed under everyone’s radar when it was filed in September 2013, argues that Dnaml was financially harmed “directly and as a proximate result” of the price-fixing collusion by Apple and the five publishers (Macmillan, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Penguin).

Much of the Dnaml complaint directly cites and quotes the 2012 lawsuit filed by the DOJ and state’s attorneys general, and it asks for “all fair and equitable damages” as well as attorney fees. Given that all 5 publishers settled that lawsuit, it would appear that Dnaml has a a relatively straightforward case.

Judge Cote has scheduled a pretrial conference for 25 July, and she also included two other retailers who have filed similar lawsuits. BooksonBoard and Diesel eBooks, two US ebook retailers, each filed a lawsuit in early 2014 making many of the same allegations as Dnaml.

BooksonBoard and Diesel eBooks each got far more attention Dnaml when they filed their lawsuits earlier this year. The ebook retailers had abruptly closed their doors, with BooksonBoard shutting down with no notice in early 2013, and Diesel eBooks offering little warning when it closed in early 2014. Diesel eBooks in fact ceased operations mere days after filing its lawsuit against Apple and 5 publishers.

All three retailers are represented by attorney Max Blecher, and he has previously told the court that he will seek to consolidate the three lawsuits into a single case.

Given that each of the retailers amounted to well under 1% of the US ebook market, it is unlikely that the direct claim for damages will amount to much, and in fact Judge Cote said in her opinion that proving damage in terms of lost revenue was going to be difficult “in the extreme”.

But Judge Cote also noted that Dnaml’s lost investment in their business “may be reasonably quantifiable”. In short, Dnaml has a shot at getting Apple and the 5 publishers to subsidize its failed ebook investments.

“It is more than plausible that a discount retailer was harmed by a conspiracy to remove retailers' ability to discount e-books,” the judge wrote in her order, adding that the retailers were “indisputably competitors in a market in which trade was restrained.”

Today’s news comes as a blow to the publishers and Apple, which had previously tried to have the lawsuit dismissed in summary judgement. It follows just a week after another opinion from Judge Cote in which the judge ruled that the state’s attorneys general could seek statutory penalties in addition to actual damages at Apple’s upcoming damages trial. That trial was supposed to start in July, but it has been rescheduled for late August.

Dnaml complaint


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Did Amazon Just Ban Suggestive eBook Covers from the Kindle Store?

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 10:42 AM PDT

5145995754_ae48561877_o[1]There is an unconfirmed story going around today that Amazon has issued new standards and guidelines for cover images for ebooks in the Kindle Store.

According to one cover designer, Amazon has banned a long list of human anatomy from appearing on covers in the Kindle Store.

Erin Dameron-Hill, writing on her Facebook page, reports that Amazon has changed what they will allow in cover images:

 Hey there! Amazon has made a few changes to their rules on accepting covers.

  • No model can be handcuffed (this will instantly flag you), blindfolds are okay for now (but I don’t expect them to be in the future).
  • Handcuffs are allowed if they are separate–not on the models . The model can hold the cuffs.
  • No side boob or big cleavage.
  • No upper butt. (No nudity, obviously).
  • No lower hair patch for men (or women).
  • No sexual positions–no doggie style, missionary (or any position that implies penetration).
  • No hands on boobs or private areas.
  • No women on their knees in front of men (even fully clothed).
  • No men between women’s thighs.
  • No men’s faces on breasts (resting, etc–even fully clothed).

For those of you with erotic, dark erotic, or BDSM romances, I would highly recommend a symbolic cover otherwise your books are likely to be flagged. I hope this has been enlightening.

It looks like Amazon may be taking a drastic response to the erotica brouhaha which blew up last year. Last October Amazon and other ebook retailers responded to the hysteria instigated by the Daily Mail and other “news” organizations by removing vast swaths of content based on little more than keyword searches.

On the other hand, maybe not.

This story currently only has a single source, and has yet to be confirmed by Kindle PR (I queried Amazon a couple hours ago) or the several authors I asked. Also, I briefly checked the Kindle Store and can tell you that there are any number of cover images which violate the new policy.

But most importantly, I cannot find any similar reports from forums where authors gather. I checked Absolute Write and KBoards and I didn’t find any authors commenting, complaining, or even mentioning the new rules. If this new policy was real then there would be dozens of comments by now.

Folks, without the confirmation I don’t think we can assume that this really is a new policy from Amazon. Instead, this could well be another case of some mid-level drone making up the rules as they go along.

It’s happened before.

Last April a similar story went around concerning Amazon banning works under 2,500 long. That story also lacked confirmation and turned out not to be true at all. As I pointed out at the time:

While Amazon is in the habit of suddenly enforcing new rules with little notice, they also make sure to tell everyone about it. In May 2012 Amazon got serious about banning public domain and junk ebooks from the Kindle Store, and they sent out an email to all KDP authors and publishers. The email highlighted Amazon’s content rules, which said in part:

Some types of content, such as public domain content, may be free to use by anyone, or may be licensed for use by more than one party. We will not accept content that is freely available on the web unless you are the copyright owner of that content. For example, if you received your book content from a source that allows you and others to re-distribute it, and the content is freely available on the web, we will not accept it for sale on the Kindle store. We do accept public domain content, however we may choose to not sell a public domain book if its content is undifferentiated or barely differentiated from one or more other books.

Without confirmation from another source or explicit confirmation from KDP, I would lay odds that this story is not as true as it appears.

If anyone can confirm or deny this story, the comments are open.

Update: Dameron-Hill has since backpedaled, explaining in a follow up comment that the list was her own creation and not an official list from Amazon. The list is based on what her clients had told her concerning ebooks rejected or pulled by Amazon. So basically I was right; this is a case of unnamed drones establishing policy by fiat.

image by kodomut

The post Did Amazon Just Ban Suggestive eBook Covers from the Kindle Store? appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Missing in Action: the Kindle Paperwhite 3 “Ice Wine”

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 08:44 AM PDT

kindle paperwhite 2013As Amazon’s 18 June smartphone press event draws closer, I am reminded of another device which was rumored to be launching this Spring that has yet to see the light of day.

In late November 2013 TechCrunch broke the story on a rumor about the next Kindle Paperwhite. That device, which was supposed to have launched early in the second quarter, was going to sport a new super high resolution E-ink screen with a resolution of 300 ppi.

Code named Ice Wine,  the rumored KPW3 featured radical changes from the design of its predecessors, including a screen which was flush with the front of the ereader (and not recessed), page turn buttons,  and a rear shell which looked more like the back of the Kindle Fire HDX than of the existing Kindle Paperwhite. There was also mentioned of new software features including a new font and improve typography.

Alas, that device has not launched yet, and I don’t expect to ever see it.

At this point I am reasonably sure that it doesn’t exist. Sure, TechCrunch says they saw a prototype, but they also said that it was going to launch out of season (Amazon likes Fall Kindle launches) and TechCrunch said that it would use a screen which, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t exist.

According to my sources, E-ink doesn’t have that higher resolution screen under development, much less production. My source told me in March that the next Kindle Paperwhite would have a new screen, but that screen would not have a resolution higher than the existing screen. Instead, the new KPW will have a more flexible and rugged screen based on the Mobius screen tech which launched last year.


The existing Kindle Paperwhite uses Carta, E-ink’s latest and best screen tech. It has a 6″ screen with a resolution of 1024 x 758, and it’s rounded design looks almost identical to its predecessor. It lacks all of the design innovations mentioned by TechCrunch, and that should have given us a clue that the TC rumor wasn’t true.

Not that I am criticizing anyone for believing the TC rumor; it matched so closely with what we wanted to be true that even I believed it without a second thought. That is a mistake which I do not intend to repeat.

The post Missing in Action: the Kindle Paperwhite 3 “Ice Wine” appeared first on The Digital Reader.

References to New Nvidia Shield Tablet Leaked Online

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 06:08 AM PDT

Rumors have been circulating for about a month now that Nvidia was planning to release a tablet to complement its Shield handheld gaming device, and I think I found the first evidence to show that the rumors are true.

nvidia shield tablet teaser

A new page was uploaded to Nvidia’s website over the weekend. The page, which is actually listed under games and not as a device, doesn’t tell us anything about the Shield tablet beyond the name, but I may have found a few interesting details hidden in the metadata.

While the page content may not say anything about the tablet, the keywords list says a lot:

SHIELD Tablet, SHIELD Tablet android, SHIELD Tablet app, SHIELD Tablet tegra, SHIELD Tablet review, SHIELD Tablet video

TBH, I’m not sure whether that tells us anything; it looks to be the same keyword list auto-generated for every page. What’s more, the TegraZone site is focused only on apps which have been customized to take advantage of Nvidia’s Tegra CPUs; the site doesn’t even have pages for Nvidia’s own hardware (the Tegrra Note 7″ tablet and the Tegra Shield handheld).

Or at least, the site doesn’t have the pages yet; this could be a sign that Nvidia is planning to add such pages. This would make some sense, but it’s just as likely that I am grasping at straws.

At this point, folks, we really don’t know anything. But even so, this is the first time we've seen the words "Shield" and "tablet" next to one another on an Nvidia website, and that gives us the hope that there is some truth to last month's rumor.

For those just tuning in, the Shield is Nvidia’s name for a cutting edge handheld gaming device which launched last year. It runs Android on a Tegra 4 CPU, and offers near-desktop quality graphics on a 5″ screen.

The rumor which circulated last month alleged that Nvidia was going to release a tablet to complement the handheld. According to the rumor, the tablet is going to be powered by the new and super powerful Tegra K1 chip. This is Nvidia’s best CPU, and it’s only been used in a couple devices so far (the Google Project Tango tablet and the Mi Pad from Xioami).

On a related note, there was also a set of benchmarks for an “Nvidia Mocha” tablet, and while that device does have a Tegra K1 CPU there’s also a good chance that the Mocha tablet is a reference design which has since been announced as the Mi Pad.

There has been speculation that the Mocha tablet is going to be the Shield tablet, but given that the Mocha appears to have already launched with Xioami’s brand I don’t think the Mocha is the Shield tablet.

But TBH no one knows for sure at this point. While I think it is very likely that Nvidia will release the Shield tablet, at this point that is pure speculation.

The post References to New Nvidia Shield Tablet Leaked Online appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Infographic: The Habits of British Book Readers

Posted: 09 Jun 2014 04:36 AM PDT

The UK-based book discovery site Lovereading published an intriguing infographic a few weeks ago. The data is drawn from a survey of LoveReading’s users, and it shows that they’re using their beds for far more than sleeping.

Over 60% of respondents are still reading on paper, and nearly two thirds reported reading a book after watching the movie made from it.




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The Morning Coffee – 9 June 2014

Posted: 08 Jun 2014 09:40 PM PDT

Newsworthy stories this morning include experiments in extreme reading, a Huxley vs Orwell webcomic, ten things people say to readers, and more.

  • 7 things the most-highlighted Kindle passages tell us about American readers (Vox)
  • 10 Obnoxious Things People Say To Hard-Core Readers (BOOK RIOT)
  • Breaking Free – What Happened when I left KDP Select (Nick Stephenson)
  • Ghosts in the Stacks: Finding the forgotten books. (The New Yorker)
  • Huxley vs. Orwell: The Webcomic (Biblioklept)
  • Killing the Top Ten Sacred Cows of Indie Publishing… #6: Put The Book Up and Leave It. (Dean Wesley Smith)
  • A Little Perspective on Amazon’s Book Business (HBR)
  • Publishing consultants want to foster competition among retailers by making consumers miserable (TeleRead)

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