- The Morning Coffee – 9 July 2014
- Wattpad Acquires, Closes Competing Author Site
- A Palate Cleanser for the Amazon Hachette Posts (video)
- Hachette Declines Amazon’s Offer to Give Authors 100% eBook Royalties During Dispute
- Chuck Wendig is Right About Authors Taking Sides in the Amazon-Hachette Dispute
- Amazon Offers Authors 100% of eBook Sales During Dispute with Hachette
- HarperCollins Launches Yet Another eBookstore
- Even a Knife Can’t Hurt This “iPhone 6″ Display (video)
- Blloon Wants to Bring a Netflix-Style eBook Service to eBook Readers
- The Morning Coffee – 8 July 2014
Posted: 08 Jul 2014 05:56 PM PDT
Your reading list this Wednesday morning includes Harry Potter, the annoyance of websites blocking copy-paste,a reader fleeing back to paper books, academic publishers as modern day robber barons, and more.
Posted: 08 Jul 2014 04:52 PM PDT
Wattpad put the $46 million raised in their latest round of funding to good use last week.
PW reports that Wattpad has acquired a smaller rival writer site called Red Room for an undisclosed sum. In what could well be described as a whirlwind acquisition, Red Room informed members only last week that the site had been bought, and they turned off the servers today (no, seriously.)
Launched in 2008, Red Room was one of a number of sites intended to be a “Facebook for authors”. The site was founded by Ivory Madison, a lawyer, entrepreneur, and author. The site grew out of Madison’s previous project, the Red Room Writing School. “One grew out of the other,”" Madison said in 2009. “I wanted something scalable that could serve more people than the school. And I wanted it to be about something I care about—writers and writing.”
According to the press release, Madison notes that the acquisition will give Red Room authors access to the 30 million people that visit Wattpad each month. “When I launched Red Room in 2008 I wanted to break down the walls between readers and writers. I'm thrilled Red Room authors have found a new home in a friendly and supportive global community.”
I am having trouble finding recent coverage of the site, probably due to the commonality of the name. We do know that the site had 20,000 members in 2009, and that it had raised around two and a half million dollars in capital. But what I have found in Google suggests that many members only learned of the deal last week.
I’ll be honest with you: I had never heard of it before. From what I found in the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive, the Red Room was far more commercial than Wattpad, and included both a paid premium membership option and a bookstore. Wattpad, on the other hand, is still trying to find a way to fund operations.
Did you use Red Room? How did it compare to, say, Booklikes, Tumblr, or Wattpad?
Posted: 08 Jul 2014 03:35 PM PDT
Earlier today I had the misfortune to write 3 different posts on the Amazon-Hachette contract dispute. I’m sure not everyone wanted to read that much about that particular topic in such a short period of time, but it couldn’t be helped.
Since I can’t unwrite the posts, let me make up for them with a palate cleanser. For your enjoyment, here is a video of a kitten playing on an iPad:
Now doesn’t that make everything better?
P.S. I’ve actually been waiting to use this idea for a while now. I got it from Boing Boing, where they use a unicorn chaser following posts with gross videos or photos.
The post A Palate Cleanser for the Amazon Hachette Posts (video) appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 08 Jul 2014 02:41 PM PDT
Well that was quick.
It’s only been a handful of hours since the letter Amazon sent to authors and agents was leaked to the press, and Hachette has already issued a statement declining the offer (found via GigaOm):
In their letter, Amazon claimed that Hachette wasn’t negotiating in good faith and had not really been negotiating at all (you can find the full letter here). Amazon said that negotiations had stalled in early June when Hachette stopped communicating. i don’t know if that’s true but it certainly has not been denied by Hachette.
Furthermore, Amazon has issued its own response to Hachette’s statement:
And this, folks, is what it looks like when Amazon plays dirty.
The post Hachette Declines Amazon’s Offer to Give Authors 100% eBook Royalties During Dispute appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 08 Jul 2014 12:32 PM PDT
If you’ve been following the media circus that is the contract dispute between Amazon and Hachette this past week, you may have noticed a couple additions. Groups of authors have started taking sides in large numbers, adding their own sideshows to the main event.
On Wednesday Doug Prescott circulated an open letter calling on Amazon to end its rough negotiation tactics. That letter was shortly seconded by the SFWA, and a day later leading indie author Hugh Howey responded with a similar open letter posted at Change.org. Howey’s letter was ostensibly written to readers, thanking them for buying books, but in reality it was a thinly veiled partisan criticism of Hachette and traditional publishing.
I have largely been avoiding writing about that part of the Amazon-Hachette media circus, but I decided to mention it today and second n opinion expressed by author Chuck Wendig. Wendig and I don’t see eye to eye on many topics, but last week he posted a critique Howey’s open letter and I wanted to reiterate what he wrote:
He’s not wrong. This is exactly the calm, neutral, non-partisan response which Howey should have written. There was a high ground here, and Howey failed to seize it.
IMO the mistake Howey made was that he forgot indie authors don’t owe Amazon anything other than a commission. Yes, Amazon has created new opportunities for authors and expanded the industry, but any obligation that may have created was cancelled out by the money Amazon earned.
The post Chuck Wendig is Right About Authors Taking Sides in the Amazon-Hachette Dispute appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 08 Jul 2014 11:12 AM PDT
The WSJ reported this morning that Amazon is now offering to give Hachette authors 100% of ebook revenues, and if this source is real then it appears Amazon might be willing to back down on some of their harsh negotiating tactics:
Can anyone suggest a reason for Amazon’s sudden change of behavior?
Update: GigaOm posted the full letter:
Now I see what Amazon was going for; this is smart on a level that deserves applause.
Knowing that this letter would be leaked, Amazon sent a conciliatory note which included all sorts of details which they would not and could not reveal publicly. I can’t say how much of it is true, but that matters less than the fact that Amazon has very likely managed to change the tenor of the coverage.
What’s more, if Hachette takes Amazon up on their offer it will mollify authors who have been complaining, but if Hachette doesn’t then Amazon will no longer be the only bad guy in this fight. On a tactical level this was genius.
This contract dispute has reportedly been going on since last November, with Amazon using various means to pressure Lagardère ‘s US publishing subsidiary, Hachette Book Group, into agreeing to a new contract. Amazon has reduced the stock of Hachette titles in its warehouses, reduced discounts, and removed the option to pre-order Hachette titles.
Aside from leaks from Hachette, no one knows exactly what the two parties are fighting over. But it has been said that Amazon wants increased co-op fees, and possibly better terms on ebook sales. The latter was confirmed by Kindle VP Russ Grandinetti last week.
What little we do know is that Amazon has Hachette over a barrel. The retailer accounts for 60% of Hachette ebook sales in the US, and 79% in the UK.
image by mararie
The post Amazon Offers Authors 100% of eBook Sales During Dispute with Hachette appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 08 Jul 2014 09:28 AM PDT
The new store sells paper books, ebook, and even audiobooks (when available).
The ebooks are being sold globally in all markets where HC has the rights, but the audiobooks and paper books are only available to US customers. In addition to selling the books, HC also links to other retailers who also offer HC titles. This includes retailers outside of the US.
The store also offers previews of upcoming titles as well as the option to pre-order the book. Readers will also find author tour and appearance information, and sweepstakes featuring partner prizes.
“Our mission as a 21st century publisher is to connect authors and readers,” said Angela Tribelli, chief marketing officer. “The elegant, consumer-centric design of the site provides an innovative platform for our authors that will boost the discoverability of their books, drive sales, and—ultimately—launch writing careers.”
Like the Narnia.com store, the ebooks sold on HarperCollins.com can be read in the HarperCollins -branded apps for iOS and Android, and they can also be downloaded to a PC and transferred to a compatible ebook reader.
Based on the few minutes I spent checking price, HarperCollins is pricing some titles competitively and others at full price. That is much the same pricing policy as Amazon and other ebook retailers, and in fact HC sometimes beat the Amazon price.
HarperCollins is one of a number of publishers, including RosettaBooks and Hachette, that are trying to forge a direct retail connection with readers in the hopes of bypassing or at least lessening the impact of the Kindle Store. Given the inconvenience of HarperCollins’s new store, I don’t think they will have much luck in loosening Amazon’s grip on their pocketbook – at least not directly. But if HC were to start emphasizing links to other retailers, they might be able to lessen Amazon’s market share.
It would be a roundabout solution, but it’s still better than the alternative.
Posted: 08 Jul 2014 08:34 AM PDT
Apple has long been rumored to be planning to use scratch-resistant Sapphire glass on its next iPhone (and iWatch). These rumors circulated around the launch of the iPhone 5s last year (they weren’t true), but it looks like the rumors might finally be coming true at last.
A new video on Youtube purports to show the front glass for the next iPhone. According to Youtuber Marques Brownlee, it measures 4.7″ and is extremely rugged:
As he points out in the video, the Sapphire glass is scratch resistant, impact resistant, and is far more flexible than you would expect from a sheet of glass. Brownlee scrapes his keys across the glass, tries to stab it with a knife, and then tries to both bend and twist the component.
It survives everything Brownlee can do to is, which is more than I would say for Corning’s Gorilla Glass. That would have broken when you twisted it, and it’s not nearly as impact resistant (I can speak from personal experience).
The next iPhone is expected to launch sometime in either September or October, and at this point it looks like we will be seeing both a 4.7″ model and a 5.5″ model.
The post Even a Knife Can’t Hurt This “iPhone 6″ Display (video) appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 08 Jul 2014 07:19 AM PDT
Blloon, which I had previously reported as being a new service from the German ebook company txtr, is actually an independent project . It’s a new company which is being launched by some of the team behind txtr, and when its service goes live this summer it intends to offer readers a subscription ebook service with a catalog of around a million titles.
Blloon has confirmed today that the service is scheduled to launch in the UK in August, and expand to Germany in the first quarter of next year. Other markets were not mentioned. New subscribers will get 3 free ebooks when they sign up (and not the 3 per month which I was lead to believe last week).
Or rather, Blloon is now saying that customers will get credit in a virtual currency which will let them acquire 3 ebooks. The details are still vague on that point and it is one we will need to confirm when Blloon officially launches.
It’s also not clear exactly how the service will operate. While I am calling it a Netflix-style service, that might not be strictly true. There are hints that ebooks are paid with points, not money, and that readers can get points either through their subscription or by other means, including recruiting new members, writing reviews, and the like. There is also a suggestion that the ebooks will be permanently acquired in a way similar to Audible and Entitle.
Again, that is a detail that we will need to confirm in the official FAQ when Blloon launches.
The Berlin-based startup also revealed today that in addition to launching on the iPad, they hope to expand their service on to ereaders. When they spoke to lesen.net yesterday, they hinted that they wanted to work out deals with device makers like Kobo and Pocketbook to add a Blloon app to the home screen of ereaders.
Yes, ereaders (or so reported lesen.net). While that might sound impossible, it’s really just highly improbable.
You and I might think that services like Blloon, or its competitors Oyster and Scribd, as only working with apps but that is not strictly true. It’s possible to load library ebooks on to ereaders, and in fact Sony integrated OverDrive into their last 3 Sony Readers (now deceased). Overdrive offers library ebooks which expire, which is not dissimilar from Blloon (but also not the same thing).
So in fact getting the Blloon service on to ereaders is not impossible. Still, I would describe it as implausible. Developing the software will cost no small amount, and the investment will only be worth it after Blloon is widely available. Since that is not going to happen soon I don’t see either Kobo or Pocketbook jumping on the idea.
I am also not convinced that the Blloon team has the technical chops to support their service on ereaders. These same folks have tried and failed to launch a couple ereaders, including the txtr reader in 2009 (d. 2011) and the beagle, a 5″ smartphone accessory. That last launched close to 2 years ago but is only available in a single small market in Europe (and that took over a year to accomplish). It was supposed to be sold through telecoms, but thanks to a bungled design no one wants to carry it.
Txtr is best known now for offering a white-label ebookstore platform which other companies can use. Sony, for example, was a customer, and so is Deutsche Telecom in several markets. Txtr has also provided several key components for the 3M Cloud Library (3M is largest of txtr’s capital investors, but doesn’t own it outright).
And while we are on the topic, here is the official word on the relationship between txtr and Blloon:
At this point there are really too many unknowns to draw any conclusions or make any predictions about Blloon, so i for one will wait for the launch in August.
The post Blloon Wants to Bring a Netflix-Style eBook Service to eBook Readers appeared first on The Digital Reader.
Posted: 07 Jul 2014 09:10 PM PDT
My reading list is short today .
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