- Four Takes on the “Amazon: Threat or Menace?” Debate
- Piracy Sting Nets $700,000 in Illicit Books in Uganda, Shows the Value of Reprinting Services like Paperight
- Alcatel’s 3.5″ eReader Made an Appearance at Computex, Now Known as the e-Card
- The Morning Coffee – 3 July 2014
Posted: 03 Jul 2014 12:17 PM PDT
Love them or hate them, Amazon is a polarizing topic in the book industry. It’s been the subject of numerous articles, think pieces, rants, and ravings, and a couple days ago it was the focus of a televised debate.
Two days ago the NY Public Library hosted a debate panel titled “Amazon: Business as Usual?”. The event was streamed live before an audience, enabling this blogger and many others to witness what the American publishing industry really thinks and how it sees itself.
It was not a terribly well run event, unfortunately; aside from a token panelist, everyone on the panel hated Amazon. What’s more, the so-called moderator kept failing to do her job. As an anti-Amazon person herself, Tina Bennett kept interrupting the single dissenting voice, David “Passive Guy” Vandagriff.
But the debate is what it is, and there is much to be learned from it and from what is written about it. I posted my take on the debate Tuesday night, but I am not the only one to post a commentary. Here are several other posts from a variety of sources, including a first-hand account by David Vandagriff.
After you read the excerpts, scroll down to the end. I have a comment on the commentary.
Chris Meadows of TeleRead:
David Vandagriff of The Passive Voice:
Porter Anderson on FutureBook:
On a related note, Publishers Lunch did not post a commentary, nor did Publishing Perspectives. There is a story in The Bookseller, but it’s behind a paywall so I can’t tell if it’s news or commentary.
Now that I have had a few days to digest the event, I have realized that this was not so much a debate as it was a chorus of agreement. And on that point, I judge it a failure.
Not that we should be surprised; this debate was structured in such a way that it was guaranteed to only include industry voices.
Chris Meadows pointed out how the debate could have been more balanced, even in the absence of an Amazon spokesperson: “add to Vandagriff a couple of folks like Hugh Howey, J.A. Konrath, Barry Eisler, or David Gaughran for the indie publisher side”.
That’s a good idea, but unfortunately the debate was conceived and held in too short of a time frame. Porter Anderson said that “the discussion was pulled together in about 10 days’ time” (Tina Bennett confirms that the event was put together very quickly). Anderson then goes on to fault Amazon for not sending anyone, which given the time frame was simply ridiculous.
Publishing industry conferences are planned not 10 days or 10 weeks in advance, but 10 months in advance. Even press events, which are scheduled for at least 2 weeks after the invites go out, are crafted over the course of months.
To put it simply, that short time frame between conception and holding the debate made it extremely difficult for anyone not already living in NYC to come to the event.
Unlike publishing industry insiders who live in and around NYC, a lot of us from the indie side can’t afford to plunk down thousands of dollars for a last minute plane ticket and hotel room. We don’t all have publishing companies to fund our travel budgets, nor is it reasonable to suggest that our schedules be disrupted at the last minute.
In short, folks, this event was set up to only include people who could commute into NYC for the day. That may not have been the intent, but whoever was in charge of the schedule should have seen it coming and done something.
Or am I wrong?
The post Four Takes on the “Amazon: Threat or Menace?” Debate appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 03 Jul 2014 09:47 AM PDT
Depending on which source you find, somewhere between 60,000 and 80,000 books have been seized from multiple locations in the Ugandan capital and from Mbarara, a small city in southwest Uganda. One account says that 1.8 billion Ugandan shillings worth of books were nabbed during “raids on bookshops, printeries and some homes”.
Most of those books are said to be textbooks, with one source saying that they were worth the equivalent of $686,000 USD. According to the executive director of the Uganda Reproduction Rights Organisation (URRO), Charles Batambuze, the pirated textbooks aren’t sold on the open market but to schools. “Most of these thugs connive with private schools, who then buy the books from them, some not knowing that they are buying fakes,” Batambuze said.
Some 29 booksellers were cited in the sting, including both street vendors and some prominent Ugandan bookstores. All of the thousands of textbooks seized in the sting will be burnt as soon criminal proceedings have concluded.
Local experts say that piracy has cost the Ugandan publishing industry around 10 billion shillings since last October, though it’s not clear where they got that figure. The Ugandan govt is also missing out on taxes.
Piracy is considered to be such a problem that the industry is putting the final touches on a plan to use advanced anti-counterfeiting tech to foil the pirates.
Something tells me that the book pirates will either find a way to fake the stamps, or they’ll just buy them on the black market. I think a better solution would be to push more of the print shops that are printing the pirated books to join with Paperight and start compensating creators.
Paperight is a South African startup which created a distributed network which connects publishers and print shops. Publishers sign up and submit their titles, and authorized print shopspay a fee for each copy they print.
It provides an alternative source for textbooks which often cost too much in academic bookstores:
I have long been an advocate of affirmative solutions to piracy, and not simply cracking down on pirates. Paperight is an example of how one can turn a pirate into a customer, and Ugandan authorities would be wise to push for a system like this. This strikes me as a long term solution which would remove or at least lessen the need to fight piracy.
image by fuzzcat
Posted: 03 Jul 2014 06:00 AM PDT
The Alcatel Magic Flip was one of the high points of CES 2014, and I have just learned that this smartphone accessory slash ebook reader showed up at Computex last month.
The MagicFlip is now called the e-Card. From what I can tell it’s still not available yet, but on the plus side this ereader now works a lot better.
A video recently turned up on Youtube which shows the e-Card (or eCard, which I will now call it) displaying manga, and a couple blogs got their hands on the eCard at Computex. They found it in the E-ink booth (Charbax missed it when he toured the E-ink booth at Computex).
Sporting a 3.5″ E-ink screen, the eCard is designed to be paired an Alcatel smartphone over Bluetooth. And so far as I know, it isn’t intended to work with a competitor’s smartphones. Like the E-ink smartphone case from Gajah/Oaxis (old and new), the eCard requires a special app on the smartphone, but unlike the InkCase the eCard is also capable of working independently. The video suggests that the eCard can load an entire ebook and read it.
According to the description of the video (and the hands-on reports), the eCard can also display status updates, notifications (incoming call, SMS, alarms, email), weather info (this is shown in the video), and users can also push images to the eCard.
In many ways the eCard has features similar to smartwatches, only without the clunky weight on your wrist or the tiny screen. I don’t have a smartphone, but I did like how the eCard fit in my hand back at CES 2014. If this device ever hits the market it could well prove more popular than smartwatches.
At the very least I think the eCard could have more success than the txtr beagle. That smartphone accessory was intended to be simply an ereader when it launched in late 2012, but it has had little success on the market. By the end of 2013 it had only been picked up by a single telecom, in Hungary, and aside from the limited retail sales in Germany in 2013 the beagle is not available elsewhere.
The post Alcatel’s 3.5″ eReader Made an Appearance at Computex, Now Known as the e-Card appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 02 Jul 2014 09:11 PM PDT
Your reading list this Thursday morning is focused on several different takes on the Amazon debate from Tuesday night, including Chris Meadows’s summary and an insider view from The Passive Voice. Other stories to read this morning include Scrivener’s Error take on the HobbyLobby decision, and more.
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