Friday, 26 September 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

Ellora’s Cave Sues Dear Author Book Blog for Defamation

Posted: 26 Sep 2014 04:55 PM PDT

3293465641_b6c5081e87_b[1]Here’s something crazy.

Romance publisher Ellora’s Cave has been having financial issues for the past year or so, but rather than sit down and fix them this publisher has decided that the best solution was a public and messy defamation lawsuit.

Court documents filed today in Ohio have revealed that Ellora’s Cave has filed suit against Jennifer Gerrish-Lampe, an Iowa lawyer who is better known as Jane Litte, the proprietor of one of the best romance book blogs (I did not know it was a pseudonym).

Ellora’s Cave alleges that a recent blog post on Dear Author defamed them, and in addition to suing the publisher also asks for a temporary restraining order – meaning that Dear Author might not be allowed to report that they are being sued.

Dear Author has been writing about Ellora’s Cave for many years now (more details),but according to the filing this lawsuit focuses on just the one post published earlier this month.

In “The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave“, Jane detailed the rise and fall of this pioneering erotic romance publisher, including discussing the many current financial issues. For example:

Yet something strange happened. Growth stagnated. In 2010, it was revealed that EC's revenues were $5 million but a reported $6.7 million in 2006. How on earth was a digital publisher's income declining in the biggest boom period of digital books? (This was before self publishing took off).

Word of Ms. Engler's increasingly erratic behavior surfaced on odd places on the internet and then came the lawsuits. In 2008, former employee Christina Brashears filed suit for unpaid monies against EC. EC countersued. Brashears, Publisher and Chief Operating Officer, left and formed Samhain. Bad blood existed which culminated with EC agreeing to a settlement of undisclosed amount. The damages were alleged to be in the high six figures to low seven figures. EC's behavior during this lawsuit was so egregious, the judge commented on it in his ruling ordering damages to be paid to Brashears. In 2009, EC filed suit against Borders accusing them of illegal business practices. The suit went nowhere.


What's the result? Many people believe that EC will close its doors before the summer is over but at least by the end of the year. If it enters bankruptcy, author's intellectual property rights are part of the estate and can be sold off to the highest bidder.  It could wind down and revert the rights back but it's doubtful that will happen.

The lawsuit was only filed today, but Jane has indicated that she will fight this suit. She’s looking for a good attorney in the Akron, OH, area with experience in defamation.


While I am not going to make a claim as to whether defamation occurred, I do want to introduce to an acronym which may be new to you: SLAPP.

SLAPP is short for “strategic lawsuit against public participation”. This term was coined to describe a certain type of bogus lawsuit which is sometimes used by malevolent individuals to silence their critics. For example, if a publisher wanted to silence a blogger who had been airing said publisher’s dirty laundry, they could file a SLAPP.

The cost of defending against a lawsuit can be onerous, leading some to give in. On the other hand, this type of lawsuit can also result in a Streisand effect, attracting even more attention to the story which Ellora’s Cave is trying to bury.

What’s more, even if this lawsuit doesn’t generate even more negative publicity for Ellora’s Cave, it will result in the public airing of all of that publisher’s dirty laundry during the discovery process. If even half of the rumors going around are true, we could well see many authors suing Ellora’s Cave for unpaid royalties.

image  by steakpinball

The post Ellora’s Cave Sues Dear Author Book Blog for Defamation appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Kobo Promises to Fix eBook Download Issue

Posted: 26 Sep 2014 02:10 PM PDT

kobo itunes ios logoKobo has officially commented today on the 4 plus year old issue of Kobo customers not being able to download their purchases.

According to Kobo CTO Trevor Hunter, a fix is in the works:

Kobo's mandate of allowing people to read anytime, anywhere, on any platform remains unchanged. We are aware of the issue where a small percentage of books are not able to be backed up, and are working quickly to resolve it. We are currently working on other enhancements that will further embrace our open platform concept, which will give customers ever more options as it relates to reading and the backing up of ePub files.

11899012923_559a818240[1]Considering that this has been an issue for the entire 4 plus years I have been a Kobo customer, I am pleased to see that Kobo is finally addressing it.

Let’s hope they come up with a permanent solution, because over the past few months there have been an increasing number of complaints about this problem. And to make matters worse, Kobo CS has described this issue not as a problem but as a feature. According to second hand reports from several sources, the reason people cannot download the ebooks is that they are Epub3 format. (This issue existed long before Epub3, so that is probably nonsense.)

There has been no pattern to the ebooks that are afflicted, with both DRMed ebooks and even DRM-free titles from Tor Books blocked from being downloaded at Kobo but still readily downloadable at other ebookstores.

There have in fact been so many complaints that yesterday I was inspired to post a solution in the form of a calibre plugin which stripped the DRM from your Kobo purchases, converted them to standard Epub, and loaded them into your calibre library.

Isn’t it a shame that DRM made it necessary to jump throw hoops just so we could read the ebooks in the app we prefer?

image  by clarle

The post Kobo Promises to Fix eBook Download Issue appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Hands On with the Pocketbook Sense

Posted: 26 Sep 2014 10:07 AM PDT

pocketbook_sense_2[1]With the Kindle Voyage, and Aura H2O getting all the buzz, premium ereader seem to be where the market is the most active, and now Pocketbook is joining the fun.

Earlier this month Pocketbook announced a new premium 6″ ereader called the Sense. This ebook reader is looks like a Pocketbook  Ultra minus the camera, but it actually has at least one extra feature not found on the Ultra: an ambient light sensor.

The Sense also sports a Carta E-ink and a designer case from the French fashion house Kenzo. Notebook Italia caught up with the Pocketbook Sense at IFA Berlin earlier this month, and they just posted the video today.

This ereader launched earlier this month as both the Sense and, in Russia, the Pocketbook 630 Fashion.

According to Notebook Italia, the Pocketbook Sense will come with the cover and cost 149 euros. It will run Pocketbook’s proprietary OS on a 1GHz CPU with 256MB RAM, Wifi, and 4GB internal storage. Measuring 7.5mm thick, the Sense weighs 175 grams and has a 1.5Ah battery.

It will also have the novel same page turn button as the Ultra, which is a pity. As I will explain in my review this weekend, the page turn buttons on the Ultra are one of those ideas that are great in concept but don’t work out so well in practice.

Even so, this is a very pretty ereader.

The post Hands On with the Pocketbook Sense appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Open Question: What Should I Write About?

Posted: 26 Sep 2014 09:14 AM PDT

After nearly 6 years of blogging both at The Digital Reader and at MobileRead, I think I’m pretty good at finding and reporting news stories. But even though I think I’m good, I also know that I could be better at finding and covering the stories that you want to read.

And so this Friday afternoon I am opening up the floor to suggestions. I’ve always accepted editorial critiques, but now I am explicitly inviting them as well.

What  topics would you like to see me cover? Is there an editorial slant which you don’t like?

And most important to me, do you have a suggestion for a how to post? I like writing them, but I have trouble brainstorming new ideas on my own.

The comment section is open.


The post Open Question: What Should I Write About? appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Apple Now Giving Tours of the Torture Room Where They Didn’t Catch the iPhone 6 Plus Bending Issue

Posted: 26 Sep 2014 08:55 AM PDT

bent_iphone2Apple may not be any more prone to launching bad products than the next company, but their response when caught out by a major design flaw is unusual (to say the least).

News broke earlier this week that the iPhone 6 Plus had a structural weakness around the volume buttons which increased the risk that the phablet would bend.  (I’m not calling it BendGate any more, I promise.)

There’s even a video showing just how easy it is to bend an iPhone 6 Plus using only your hands:

After the story broke, Apple responded with the claim that only 9 customers had complained. I for one don’t believe that for a second; with millions of iPhones 6 sold the number of bent units would have to number in the thousands.

According to The Verge, the tests include:

Apple was mum on how much the new iPhones can actually take, something it considers a trade secret. It pointed only to 25 kilograms, the amount of weight Apple puts on top of the iPhone’s screen to test it for the bends. Next to a machine that does this thousands of times is a small set of weights: this isn’t actually the full amount of weight the phone can take Riccio says, just what it can handle while being capable of “bouncing back” to its original form. Even so, there are limits.

Along with that three-point test, there’s what’s known as a “sit test,” which simulates the stresses iPhones undergo while in pockets. And not just any pockets, either. There’s a test for when people sit on a soft surface, when the iPhone is sat on, as well as what Apple considers the “worst-case scenario,” which is when it goes into the rear pocket of skinny jeans and sits on a hard surface — at an angle.

And so they have all that equipment and didn’t catch the design flaw? Okay, but I hope I am not the only one with a feeling of deja vu.

The thing about the current brouhaha is that Apple’s response reminds me a lot of their response to the iPhone 4’s antenna problems in 2010 (again, not calling it AntennaGate). As you might recall, that iPhone model had a novel antenna design that wrapped the antenna around the edges of the iPhone in such a way that if you held it like  a smartphone your fingers would short out the antenna and you would lose the signal.

At first Apple denied the problem, but they later admitted to it and offered a free case to anyone who complained. And then Apple offered tours of their testing facility.

Apple has yet to offer an across the board response to the current issue, but doesn’t the response so far remind you of Apple’s reaction to news of that earlier design flaw?

The only difference between 2014 and 2010 is that we don’t have visual evidence that Apple knew about this issue in advance. The same cannot be said for the iPhone 4, because back in 2010 Steve Jobs was shown holding the iPhone 4 in a very weird way at the launch event:


That is not a comfortable grip, not unless your hands are huge. It’s also arguably not a natural way to hold a smartphone. While that doesn’t prove that Apple knew about that issue, it does make you wonder, does it not?

The post Apple Now Giving Tours of the Torture Room Where They Didn’t Catch the iPhone 6 Plus Bending Issue appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Polling Data Shows a Slight Increase in Online Book Buying in the UK

Posted: 26 Sep 2014 07:09 AM PDT

waterstonesNeilsen released a survey report today which showed that online book buying is starting to plateau in the UK. Said report is of course behind a paywall, but yesterday The Bookseller released a few dribblets of data which were both frustratingly incomplete and out of context.

The report focused more on online buying habits than book habits, and according to the Bookseller:

Over the next six months books are set to be purchased online by four in every 10 people in the Britain.

Six in 10 (59%) people in the UK said they can usually get the best price online for a product, while more than four in 10 (43%) said they often check out products in a shop before buying online – a practice known as “showrooming”. Nielsen said this was most likely to happen for books, holidays, pet products and clothing, shoes or accessories.

They also note that “between 2011 and 2014, the number of UK respondents who intended to buy e-books online in the next six months increased 200%”, but they don’t give a percentage for either year, so that detail doesn’t help us any.

Given that Neilsen told us earlier this year that ebooks accounted for £300 million of the £2.2 billion UK Book market, and given that an unrelated survey showed that 13% of Brits currently buy digital books or magazines online, I don’t think 200% data point will amount to much.

More importantly, the detail that “books are set to be purchased online by four in every 10 people in the Britain” tells me that adoption of online book buying is not growing at any great rate.

I have data from a 2012 survey which showed that 36% of UK consumers bought books online. That survey also showed that 82% of respondents in the UK shopped online (this is a detail which The Bookseller did not share today).

It also tended to confirm other nonspecific details reported by The Bookseller, including Brits being “40% more likely to buy items online than Europeans as a whole”.

The post Polling Data Shows a Slight Increase in Online Book Buying in the UK appeared first on The Digital Reader.

The Morning Coffee – 26 September 2014

Posted: 25 Sep 2014 08:19 PM PDT

The Friday morning reading list includes Porter Andersen’s editorial on the wrongness of bypassing paywalls, a UK survey on reading habits, the stalled Finnish ebook market, and more.

  • CNN Does Not Get to Cherrypick the Rules of Journalism (Esquire)
  • How Self-Published Authors Can Improve Our Industry (Molly Greene: Writer)
  • It's called a page-turner, not a "swipe" turner (Carly Lo Verde)
  • Lee Child Chimes In (The Passive Voice)
  • Nearly three quarters of young people prefer print (The Bookseller)
  • One secret to the success of Quartz, BuzzFeed and Gawker: They look at news as a service (GigaOm)
  • Publishers blame high taxes for slow e-book sales (Yle Uutiset |
  • Rip Off Your Friends By Dodging the Paywall (Scratch)

The post The Morning Coffee – 26 September 2014 appeared first on The Digital Reader.

The Bookseller Tells Us that 73% of UK Youth Prefer Paper Books, But They Forgot to Tell Us What Percentage Read Regularly

Posted: 25 Sep 2014 08:12 PM PDT

3598534263_aaba5a75c0[1]The Bookseller posted the results of a recent survey this morning, and while it is nifty to know details like 31% of British youth don’t buy ebooks, I think they missed the more important question.

The survey polled 900 Brits aged 16-24 about their reading habits, resulting in the not so surprising news that many in the survey group prefer paper. Also:

Luke Mitchell, director of Voxburner, said the research found people in the 16-24 age group think e-books are too expensive. "They told us they like to touch books and see the creases in the spine, but for bargain-driven young people the conversion to e-books will most likely be determined by price,” he said. “In our research, 70% said that £6.99 was a reasonable price to pay for a paperback but only 10% were prepared to pay the same for an e-book."

When it comes to paperbacks, 37% of young people said they would pay £5.00-£7.00 and 35% said they would pay £3.00-£5.00. However, they are less willing to pay as much for e-books, with 43% saying they should cost less than £3.00 and 27% saying they should cost between £3.00 and £5.00.

That’s interesting and all, but I would much rather know what percentage of that age group are active readers. I would think that is the more important detail.

There’s an ongoing refrain that people are reading less these days, with article after article after article proclaiming the death of reading, and considering that this trend has been identified among kids in the UK I for one would like to know whether teens were showing similar habits.

I also think it would be a good idea if the UK publishing industry could find out exactly what percentage of the population were potential customers, don’t you?

image  by secretlondon123

The post The Bookseller Tells Us that 73% of UK Youth Prefer Paper Books, But They Forgot to Tell Us What Percentage Read Regularly appeared first on The Digital Reader.

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