Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Digital Reader

The Digital Reader

The Morning Coffee – 10 October 2014

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 08:14 PM PDT

Friday morning’s reading list ranges is split between commentary on the Adobe spying scandal, useful information on book launches, thoughts on KDP Select, and authors who objected to the movie adaptation.

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Amazon Quietly Ships New Kindle With Support for Russian, Signalling Plans for a Local Kindle Store

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 08:09 PM PDT

kindle itunes logoIndie authors with ebooks in KDP are often the first to notice major changes to Amazon’s ebook platform but it looks like I got the drop this time.

While I was working on the review for my Kindle loaner unit, I happened to check the language option menu and I noticed a couple surprise addition.  As everyone knows, the Kindles support languages of each of Amazon’s local Kindle Stores: German, Italian, Japanese, etc. 

The new $79 Kindle supports all of those languages, and it also has a couple quiet additions. I reported yesterday that it supported Dutch, and today I can reveal that my Kindle also offers a localized Russian language menu option.  I can’t speak as to the accuracy of the translation, but I do see the option in the settings menu.

faux Russian support, from a 3rd-party patch
Given that Amazon has had a team in Russia since April 2013, it should come as no surprise that they’re interested in that market, but I was somewhat surprised to see the new language option.

The thing is, Russian is not yet supported in the Kindle Store. This means that Amazon now has an ereader with menus in a language in which Amazon does not sell ebooks. I happen to find that a little odd.

Of course, that oddness is only temporary; I fully expect Amazon to launch a Kindle Store in Russia by the end of the year. I am basing that guess on the recent Google Play Books expansion, and the rule of thumb that where one international bookstore launches, another will shortly follow.

If you have ebooks in KDP, please do me the favor of keeping an eye out for signs of a new local Kindle Store. There have been times where the interface is partially updated with references to a new Kindle Store or program (this is how I broke the news that Kindle Unlimited was in the works).

When Amazon does launch in Russia, it will face a couple well established and well financed players, LitRes and Bookmate.  As I reported back in May, one is an ebook/audiobook retailer, while the other is a social ebook subscription service. They’ve picked up financing from two of the major online retailers in Russia, and secured contracts with publishers.

They have the lead on Amazon, and I for one am looking forward to seeing how much of a lead they keep after the Russian Kindle Store launches. If they are nimble and good then it’s possible they could stay ahead of Amazon,


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It’s Official: Kobo is Getting Out of Tablets

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 02:41 PM PDT

kobo itunes ios logoEarlier today Kobo confirmed the hints they dropped last month at IFA Berlin: tablets are yesterday’s news.

Speaking to The Bookseller, Kobo president Michael Tamblyn explained that tablet devices were no longer a focus area for the company. Instead Kobo will be turning their attention to apps on other company’s hardware. Tamblyn said: “We found people were just as happy reading through an app on devices than they were reading directly on tablets.”


Kobo is now going to turn their hardware attention to maintaining 3 ereaders: the Touch, Aura, and the recently launched Aura H2O. Unfortunately, future plans don’t include a replacement for the 5″ Kobo Mini, alas.

When asked if Kobo was backing out of the tablet market to focus on those three ebook readers, Tamblyn added: “That is something you are generally going to see across all our retailer relationships. The tablet devices we already have out there will continue to be sold, but we are not at this point planning any new tablets.”

Kobo has always been a small fry in the tablet market, and they’ve never really had the market share to afford the option of being aggressive in promoting their own hardware.  This put them in a catch 22 situation where they kept being outshouted by larger competitors with bigger marketing budgets and better brand recognition.

And when Takahito Aiki took over for Mike Serbinis earlier this year, the high capital cost of Kobo’s tablet program probably made it a key candidate for that turnaround specialist to put on the chopping block.

Kobo’s new policy resembles Amazon’s current ereader plan, which comprises of 3 Kindles (not counting other hardware like the Fire tablets, etc) and largely runs contrary to B&N’s hardware plans, which consist of a single ereader and a commitment to sell a million units of a pair of co-branded tablets.

The post It’s Official: Kobo is Getting Out of Tablets appeared first on The Digital Reader.

Amazon to Open Store in NYC, Will Call it Bed, Bath, and Bezos

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 12:33 PM PDT

bezos bath and beyondSo it looks like Amazon is about to open their first more permanent retail operation, just in time for the holidays.

According to the WSJ, Amazon’s toehold in brick-and-mortar retail will be based in Manhattan:

Online retail giant Inc. plans to open its first brick-and-mortar store, according to people familiar with the plans.

The site, set to open in time for the holiday-shopping season on Manhattan's busy 34th Street, would mark an experiment by Amazon to connect with customers in the physical world. Amazon has built its business on competitive pricing and fast shipping. Until now, though, it couldn’t compete with the immediacy of a traditional store.

Amazon's space at 7 West 34th Street, across from the Empire State Building in Midtown, would function as a mini-warehouse, with limited inventory for same-day delivery within New York, product returns and exchanges, and pickups of online orders. A customer could, for example, order a pan in the morning and pick it up that evening in time to use for dinner.

Amazon has of course been dabbling in retail for quite some time. They have delivery lockers, and they’ve also been installing vending machines at airports. Amazon has even had pop up stores in at least two locations, San Francisco and  China.

bezos bath and beyond

And now they’re going to have a real store. It is worth noting, though, that we don’t know how long it will last. This might only stay long enough to last out the holiday season.

On the other hand, it might be the first step towards a permanent physical footprint, and possibly even a merger with an existing chain. Target, for example, would make a good partner for Amazon. They’re healthy and they’re actually bigger in the US market.

Or, Amazon could go crazy and start buying up the leases for closing Radio Shack stores (I wouldn’t buy the company), and build a chain from scratch.

The post Amazon to Open Store in NYC, Will Call it Bed, Bath, and Bezos appeared first on The Digital Reader.

No, You Can’t Track the Growth of Self-Pub by Counting ISBNs

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 06:11 PM PDT

8450658439_09d364f586[1]The most accurate statement I can make about the growth rate of the indie/author segment of the publishing industry is that it is nebulous at best. This part of the industry is so fuzzy that it can’t be counted, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from trying.

Digital Book World, for example, summarized a press release yesterday which assumed that ISBNs were an accurate measure of growth. The pr was from Bowker, and under the title “Self-Publishing Maturing, Up 17% Last Year in the U.S. “, DBW wrote:

The self-publishing market is entering a new stage of maturity after an initial boom several years ago, according to Bowker's latest analysis of ISBN registrations in the U.S. from 2008 through 2013.

To be sure, not all self-published authors obtain ISBNs for their work, but among those that have done so to date, their output of titles is increasing. The number of ISBNs registered in 2013 rose nearly 17% from the previous year.

That growth comes not from ebooks, which actually dropped 1.6% during that period, but from print titles, which rose 29%.

Bowker researchers conclude that the self-publishing market is "stabilizing as the trend of self-publisher as business-owner, rather than writer only, continues."

I will freely admit that I don’t have a clue how to measure the growth of the indie author, but one thing I can tell you is that ISBNs aren’t a valid measure.  ISBNs have about as much relation to measuring the growth of the publishing industry as standardized test scores have to measuring academic progress – in other words, very little.

Sure, many authors get ISBNs for their books, but there are also an unknown number of holdouts, including Hugh Howey, who insists they are not necessary.

As one commenter put it:

It's far higher than 17%. Most self-pubbers either use free, POD assigned ISBNs or, for ebooks, don't use any at all. Also, many self-pubbers use publishing house names, so there's no real way to know if they're self-published.

And that’s not the only point of inaccuracy; even what data Bowker does have about ISBN use may not be accurate. Another commenter on that DBW post noted that ” many indie authors use the free ISBN provide by CreateSpace in their ebooks, contrary to the clear guidelines that ebooks and print books require a separate ISBN each”, attributing this move to the cost of ISBNs. This goes against Bowker’s rules, but he pointed out that even Amazon assigns a single ISBN to both a print and digital edition.

To put it simply, no one knows the complete state of the publishing industry, and anyone who claims to do so is selling you something. (In the case of Bowker, they’re giving it away; the report is free.)

image  by Neon Tommy

The post No, You Can’t Track the Growth of Self-Pub by Counting ISBNs appeared first on The Digital Reader.

The Authors Guild Names New Executive Director

Posted: 09 Oct 2014 05:43 PM PDT

new the ag execitve directorThe second largest authors group in the US announced this morning that Paul Aiken, who has held the position of Executive Director for the past 21 years, will be replaced by Mary Rasenberger.

Rasenberger, a six-year veteran of the Copyright Office and Library of Congress and practicing partner at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams, and Sheppard, will take over as executive director of The Authors Guild on 3 November. “I'm delighted to hand the reins to someone of Mary's caliber,” said Aiken. “I've known her for years. She's energetic, very smart, and knows her way around Washington. She's a perfect fit for the job.”

Aiken is stepping down to pursue new projects. He revealed last fall that he suffers from ALS, and he has been blogging about the disease at

Rasenberger is the second new face to join The Authors Guild leadership this year; in March 2014 Roxana Robinson was elected president of The AG, succeeding Scott Turow.

So it seems that The Authors Guild has replaced one lawyer with another. Do you suppose that is good news or bad news?


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