Thursday, 28 August 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 29 August 2014

Posted: 28 Aug 2014 08:40 PM PDT

The reading list is quite short this morning.

  • 6 Addictive Webcomics To Binge-Read (BOOK RIOT)
  • Meet The Publisher Who Ditched Amazon And Is Selling More Books Than Ever – (Business Insider)
  • NCSU Libraries offering grants to help faculty develop open textbook alternatives (NCSU Libraries News)
  • Paying for Digital Content Still Not the Norm in the UK (eMarketer)
  • Publishing Advice I’d Give My Younger Self (A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing)
  • Why I stopped reading magazines with Newsstand (Macworld)

The post The Morning Coffee – 29 August 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Got $1,100? Sony is Now Selling the 13.3″ Digital Paper Online

Posted: 28 Aug 2014 07:11 PM PDT

sony-digitalpaper-dpt-s1Sony’s 13.3″ PDF reader is out of the reach of most of us, but if you’re richer than Croesus and in the market and in the market for a limited function device then I have some good news for you.

Sony is now selling the Digital paper DPTS-1 online, direct. My competitor noticed the change earlier today, beating me to the story. You can find the Digital Paper on the Sony Style website, and if you are looking for one of their three resale partners then you should visit Sony’s business/commercial sales website.

The Sony Digital Paper is a minimal function device which features an eye-catching one of a kind 13.3″ E-ink screen with two types of touchscreen tech (capacitive and Wacom). It ships with 4GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, Wifi, but not much else.

Thanks to its plastic construction, the Mobius screen on the DPTS-1 is both thinner and more durable than the E-ink screens found on most ebook readers. The Mobius screen is also why the DPTS-1 weighs in at a mere 12.6 ounces, which is impressive considering that it has a larger screen than most tablets.


Alas, while the hardware is nifty, the software is not. This device is strictly a PDF-only reader, meaning that it does not even support Epub or office doc formats.

I think that rather limits its usefulness, which is why I always suggest that a tablet, even a Surface Pro tablet, would be a better buy than the Sony Digital paper DPTS-1.


The post Got $1,100? Sony is Now Selling the 13.3″ Digital Paper Online appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon is in Conflict With Japanese Publishers

Posted: 28 Aug 2014 03:19 PM PDT

8493641623_5efb926d54_b[1]Never one to fight a single battle at a time, Amazon is in conflict with publishers in multiple countries, including Bonnier in Germany, Hachette Book Group in the US, and (reportedly) unnamed publishers in the UK.

And now we can add Japan to that list.

The Asahi Shimbun is reporting that Amazon has launched a new ranking system which has Japanese publishers up in arms. I have yet to find a story which confirms the report, which states:

Amazon Japan is the nation’s largest book retailer for paper and electronic media. Its new system gives higher rankings to publishers that pay higher fees to Amazon Japan and to publishers with larger eBook catalogs.

Additionally, eBooks from publishers ranked higher are given more prominence on the website.

Many publishers, including high-profile publishing houses, have protested the move, calling it a form of “blackmail” that exploits the company’s considerable dominance in the book retailing industry.

“Wouldn’t antitrust authorities start to wonder if Amazon Japan is taking advantage of its monopolistic position in the market?” said Bungeishunju Ltd. when it protested to Amazon Japan in June.

After checking several Japanese news sites (both English-language and Japanese) I have yet to uncover a corroborating story, so I would suggest that we take the above quote with a large grain of salt.

But while I was looking I did find an unrelated story from July.

It seems that a number ofJapanese publishers do not appreciate Amazon’s sales practices, and according to the Manichi Shimbun they responded by removing their titles from

In a dispute which reportedly started in May (but only came across my desk today), 5 publishers suspended sales via Amazon with the demand that the retail giant end student discounts. The publishers object to Amazon skirting Japan’s fixed book price laws via Amazon Student membership service, which launched in Japan in 2012.

The retailer awards 10 percent of a book’s price as “points” to registered student purchasers. They can use these points to purchase books at discount prices. The retail price of books, however, is controlled through resale price maintenance, in which retailers are required to sell books at the price set by publishers. Through its service, Amazon is in effect giving students a 10 percent discount on books.

Five publishers joined a boycott of Amazon in May, and 3 were continuing the boycott when my source story was published in early July. About 2,700 titles were affected by the boycott.

I can’t confirm that the boycott continues to this day, but I would not be surprised. I can add, however, that other publishers have expressed dissatisfaction with Amazon’s discount practices but don’t feel they can afford to join the boycott. For example, Kodansha is described as saying that “its business with the online retailer is extensive, including e-book services, and it cannot easily resort to suspending Amazon sales.”

It’s not clear how or when that boycott will be resolved, but as one American publisher has shown it is possible to avoid doing business with Amazon.  EDC was recently profiled in Business Insider in relation to its cutting ties with Amazon in 2012:

With no real choice, White took the leap in 2012, becoming one of the only publishers in the country to spurn the "everything store." Distributors who resell books to Amazon, including Ingram and Baker & Taylor, also soon found their supplies of books like "The Gas We Pass" and "Sticker Dolly Dressing Dream Jobs" cut off. For good measure, EDC also ditched other big-box discount stores, including Sam's Club, Costco, and Target.

 In a turn of events that might offer some solace to other publishers, White recently announced that EDC has not only survived the leap into the unknown but just had its best year ever in net revenues. July sales were up 28% over the same month last year, and first-quarter revenues came in 20% higher than 2013's numbers.

Amazon was only a small fraction of EDC’s business, so the decision to cut ties may have beenblown out of proportion, but it still shows that life is possible without Amazon.

image by Daniel E Lee

The post Amazon is in Conflict With Japanese Publishers appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Roald Dahl’s “Revolting Rhymes” Pulled From Store Shelves

Posted: 28 Aug 2014 12:44 PM PDT

Article Lead - narrow60918504109r0f1409225893538.jpg-300x0The late Roald Dahl may be a widely respected children’s author, but he can still inspire controversy.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Australian branch of the Aldi supermarket chain recently pulled one of Dahl’s books from its shelves. Much to everyone’s surprise, the book in question, Revolting Rhymes, had a revolting rhyme in it:

The offending word is found in Dahl’s comical take on the Cinderella fairy tale. In it, the prince sees Cinderella in her impoverished rags as he goes house to house trying to find the owner of the shoe left behind at the palace ball.

“The Prince cried, ‘Who’s this dirty slut?” the poem reads. “‘Off with her nut! Off with her nut!’”

Revolting Rhymes, first published in 1982, is a collection of poems which takes six well-known fairy tales and gives them a modern, comical spin.

Aldi pulled the book after receiving a single complaint from a parent who didn’t realize that a book called Revolting Rhymes would have revolting rhymes in it.

That decision has not proved popular with other parents (thank goodness), with some leaving comments on Aldi’s FB page like:

“I am appalled at Aldi withdrawing the Roald Dahl book, Revolting Rhymes,” one customer wrote. “I am a frequent shopper at your Rydalmere store – BUT NO MORE!! You people are absolutely pathetic to cave in to such a petty complaint about one word in this book.”

I myself have never read this book, and in fact I have never even heard of it today.  But I can understand the lone parent’s objection to the language of that book.

It is important to protect impressionable children from language that might influence them. For example, I was forced to read the Bible at a young age and my psyche has never recovered from all the rape, murder, and incest.

Sydney Morning Herald

The post Roald Dahl’s “Revolting Rhymes” Pulled From Store Shelves appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Used eBook Sales Still Blocked in Germany

Posted: 28 Aug 2014 08:28 AM PDT

3293465641_b6c5081e87_m[1]The German consumer rights group VZBV suffered a legal defeat this week in their fight to get readers more rights over their purchases.

For the past few months VZBV has been fighting a legal battle similar to the one which they initiated last year over the sale of used computer games. The Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverbandes has argued that consumers should have the right of resale, but unfortunately two different courts have disagreed.

Earlier this week the VZBV lost an appeal which would have overturned a ruling by a district court in Bielefeld.

Correction: The district court did not specifically rule that reselling ebooks was illegal, but that a seller can block the resale by making the buyer agree to give up that right (whether the resale of ebooks is illegal is still an unanswered question). As you might recall from the Usedsoft decision, in the EU sellers cannot force buyers to give up their right to resell software.

The higher regional court at Hamm upheld the district court’s ruling, effectively ending the VZBV’s legal battles – for the moment.

14083879693_47792ed92a_b[1]While this issue has been settled under German law, there is still some question as to whether it will remain settled under EU law.

As you might recall, there is an ongoing lawsuit in the Netherlands over a website called Tom Kabinet. That site is a marketplace where users can resell their DRM-free ebooks, and it was sued in late June 2014 by a Dutch publisher’s association.

The Groep Algemene Uitgevers (GAU) argued that Tom Kabinet was nothing less than copyright infringement under EU law. They are probably correct, but so far as I know they have not yet secured a ruling in their favor.

While you may have read that stories which claimed used ebook sales were legal in the Netherlands, that is not an accurate description. I can’t see that the case has been decided either way, but I do know that the judge had declined to shut down Tom Kabinet while the parties fought in court.

Used ebook sales aren’t necessarily legal yet in the Netherlands, but there is a chance that they could be. And that leaves open the possibility that used ebook sales could become legal in the European Union.

If the Dutch judge rules in favor of Tom Kabinet, then both this case and the one from Germany will have to be appealed upwards to an EU court. That court will have to decide which ruling is valid, and overturn the other.

It’s far too early to guess which way that EU court will rule, so I wouldn’t hold your breath in anticipation (I wasn’t looking forward to giving you mouth to mouth, anyway). But I do think this could prove to be one of the more interesting legal cases of 2015 or 2016.

images by aussiegall steakpinball

The post Used eBook Sales Still Blocked in Germany appeared first on The Digital Reader.

John Paczkowski: Apple Plans to Announce Wearable in September

Posted: 28 Aug 2014 06:38 AM PDT

iwatch_def1This blogger has long argued that there simply wasn’t enough evidence to prove that Apple is about to launch a wearable, but I am definitely in the minority.

That’s why I tend to pay attention when leading bloggers make proclamations that the birth of the jesusWatch is imminent. Yesterday, for example, John Paczkowski said that Apple would be launching their wearable in 12 days:

Remember back in June when I said Apple hoped to schedule a special event in October to show off a new wearable device? Remember how I also said this: "Could things change between now and fall? That's certainly possible." Turns out that was a prescient hedge, because things have changed. Apple now plans to unveil a new wearable alongside the two next-generation iPhones we told you the company will debut on September 9. (Funny "joke," Gruber.) 

Paczkowski is often cited as someone who is in the know, and thus can be relied upon for accurate info, which is why I’m posting his speculation today. Even though I still hold to the position that there simply isn’t enough evidence to show that Apple is about to launch an iWatch, I could be wrong.

I’ve run Paczkowski’s claim through the accounting system that doubles for my sense of humor (it’s built on Peachtree / Sage 50), and it still comes up short.  But that could be a failure of the system, and not the claim, so we’ll have to wait and see exactly what Apple reveals on 9 September before we know for sure.

The post John Paczkowski: Apple Plans to Announce Wearable in September appeared first on The Digital Reader.

There’s a Problem With Calling the Fire Phone a Failure Based on Sales of 35,000 units

Posted: 28 Aug 2014 04:54 AM PDT

fire phoneThere’s a certain story going around over the past few days which I have been ignoring but has been getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere.

A journalist with the The Guardian picked up his abacus over the weekend and estimated that the $650 Fire Phone from Amazon only sold 35,000 units. This has lead to some interesting reporting, including stories framed as:

A flop for the ages: Fire Phone estimated to have sold 35,000 units at most (BGR)

As many people have predicted, Amazon's Fire Phone looks like a flop of the first order, although we'll never know for sure just how big of a flop it's been since Amazon wisely won't release sales figures for the device.

There’s no hope for Amazon’s Fire Phone (VentureBeat)

35,000. That's the maximum potential number of Fire Phones Amazon has sold so far, according to an estimate by The Guardian's Charles Arthur.

Using data from Chitika's ad network and Comscore's smartphone user data, Arthur came up with a figure that, while not definitive, gives us a sense of how many Fire Phones are actually being used in the wild. And if it's even vaguely accurate, it's a terrible result for Amazon.

I had initially planned to ignore this story; the quality of the original data didn’t meet my standards (I’d rate it as being about as good as Digitimes), and it’s frankly not related to reading in any way. But as a couple of the stories crossed my desk again this morning I realized that they deserved a comment.

The thing is, many of the blogs which covered this story missed, ignored, or discounted a key detail.

I’m not referring to the point that the claim of 35,000 units sold is based on a concatenation of rough estimates, estimates, analysts’ guesses, and a sampling of a subset of a single ad network, but also the matter of time.

The Fire Phone has only been out a month (plus a few  days). It’s far too early to draw any conclusions.

I can see from my round up of Fire Phone reviews that it has literally only been 35 days since the first units shipped. What’s more, the sales estimate is based on data from the first 20 days since it was launched and that is simply too short of a period of time to make an argument either for or against the Fire Phone’s success.

I think this story should have waited at least 6 months; that would be enough time to see how sales were trending and for users to report whether they are seeing problems. It would also give Amazon a chance to release updates which might make the Fire Phone more appealing.

But today, we simply don’t have enough info yet. It’s just too early.

Or am I wrong?

The post There’s a Problem With Calling the Fire Phone a Failure Based on Sales of 35,000 units appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No comments:

Post a Comment