Category Archives: Books

Would A Seven-Inch iPad Kill The Kindle?

Short answer: No.

1) The Kindle has two components: the Kindle as device and Kindle as eBook file format.

2) People have made an investment in Kindle books. Those who decide to switch from a Kindle device will use the Kindle app on the iPad. This really doesn’t wipe out the Kindle as such. It makes it a parasite inside the iPad. And those Kindle users will continue to buy Kindle books because what reason is there to split their library into Kindle and ePub (ePub equalling iBooks, Nook, or Kobo)? As I discovered for myself, Amazon offers more books that anyone else and it’s likely to stay that way. Amazon will also push books more than Apple will.

3) There is still a place for eInk until something comes along to make LCD/LEDs in bright sunlight possible. Pixel Qi’s status is still questionable. No one other than Notion Ink (which is still vaporware) has publicly stated it will use that screen — and even then, they curiously offer a model with a conventional LCD screen. Plus, Apple loves its IPS LED screen because it makes colors pop.

4) A smaller iPad would still weigh more than a Kindle. An iPad would most likely be the same size and weight as the Pandigital Novel, which also has a seven-inch screen:

Pandigital Novel: 7.5” x 5.5” x 0.5” – 16 oz

Barnes & Noble Nook: 7.7” x 4.9” x 0.5” – 12.1 oz

Amazon Kindle 3: 7.5” x 4.8” x 0.335” – 8.5-8.7oz

Sony Reader Touch: 6.9” x 4.8” x 0.4” – 10.1 oz

Kobo Reader: 7.24” x 4.72” x 0.393” – 7.795 oz

5) A smaller iPad will still cost more than a Kindle. This makes toting it around more of a financial risk.

6) A smaller iPad will be the New New Thing to steal. Theft anxiety is not conducive to relaxed reading in some public places.

7) A smaller iPad is likely to impact iPod Touch sales more than Kindle sales.

8) Amazon can always put the squeeze on its suppliers and further crush the price down from $139 for the WiFi version.

All that being said, everyday people are very fickle. They once paid $399 for a Kindle. If a seven-inch iPad came in at $299, people could make do with the limitations of an LED screen in bright sunlight (by sitting in the shade) and all the rest of the reasons I set out above. Especially that bit about theft risk — a $399 Kindle was a lot of money to wave around!

Plus, even if it didn’t wind up killing the Kindle device, it’d still outsell it at least twenty-to-one.

Meanwhile, Over At Tumblr …

… where I post because this blog is still waiting for Kittenageddon to end:

eBook Notes For August 7, 2010

Price Misperceptions: eBook Readers Versus iPod

And my utter humiliation and ruination and thorough defeat:

I Fought The Kindle — And Lost

The eBook Buyer’s Bill of Rights

This was inspired by a big bunch of Samples I downloaded from Amazon’s Kindle Store. These are not specific to Kindle format. All eBook formats suffer.

People like lists of ten. I have nine here as a work-in-progress minimum.

1) You have the right to a proper cover.
a) The cover should be the same as on the current printed edition.
b) The cover should be large enough to fill at minimum a five-inch screen.
c) A thumbnail of the cover shown for sales or library software purposes should be the same cover as in the eBook.

2) You have the right to a Table of Contents (TOC).
a) The TOC should have links to the matter inside the book so you can jump to each part.

3) You have the right to proper formatting by default.
a) Formatting should mirror a proper printed book.
b) Paragraphs should have indents without spaces between paragraphs.
c) Only after such proper default formatting should a reader be able to mix things up via a device’s software settings (typesize, spacing, margins — in other words, reflow overrides).

4) You have the right to highlight passages.
a) Sharing highlighted passages should be optional, opt-in, and protect privacy.

5) You have the right to set Bookmarks.
a) As many as you damn well want!

6) You have the right to Copy passages.
a) Copyright holders have the right to restrict this to one paragraph at a time to make piracy too time-consuming.

7) You have the right to legible illustrations.
a) They should be zoomable or several sizes should be available via linking.

8) You have the right to proofreading.
a) Any eBook with more than ten typos should be refundable as defective.

9) You have the right not to be assaulted by screens of blurbs when starting a book.
a) Blurbs are unnecessary in eBooks — they’ve already been bought!

Barnes & Noble Is For Sale: Amazon Should Buy It

Barnes & Noble Goes on Block

Barnes & Noble Inc. has put itself up for sale, struggling amid a changing landscape for book sales.

The nation’s largest bookstore chain announced Tuesday that it was reviewing strategic alternatives and ways to boost shareholder value.

This is all about the money.

Sarah Weinman, who has covered the ongoing tale of Barnes & Noble, has an analysis of the intricacies and politics at work.

This news could not have come at a worse time for Barnes & Noble — right after Amazon’s trifecta of press announcements (eBook sales, the Kindle 3, and Larsson selling one million Kindle books).

People do not want uncertainty when it comes to spending money — especially in these straitened times. Hearing about Barnes & Noble being for sale brings to mind all other companies that were sold and became worse after the process. How many potential sales of the Nook will now be killed by this uncertainty?

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Get Over It: ePub Is Dead And HTML5 Wins

What Nixonland means for EPUB

Second, it marks Apple’s, and perhaps EPUB’s, path toward HTML5. It is no coincidence that the one non-complying piece of Nixonland is a tag from HTML5. Not an Apple proprietary extension, not a weird JavaScript, but part of the language that both Apple and Google have been heavily promoting for the last year or so. How long can it be before EPUB supports HTML5, EpubCheck validates HTML5, and Nixonland and other video-containing ebooks are legitimate entries in the iBookstore?

Apple joined the IDPF. Google and HP (Palm) are also members. So is Nokia.

iOs, Android, webOS, Symbian — all use the WebKit rendering engine. That’s four broad global mobile operating systems that basically define the walk-around go-anywhere Internet today.

With WebKit available, why would any of these companies agree to further the cause of ePub for eBooks?

Why would any of them agree to a spec that keeps changing and that has always — and will always be — behind the spec of the Internet itself?

Why would any of them agree that eBooks should be in the grip of one company — Adobe! — for its rendering engine (as well as DRM!)?

There is no plausible reason whatsoever for these big-footprint members of the IDPF to agree to the continuation of ePub.

ePub is going to be put to death. My own wish is that it will be a swift beheading so everyone can get on with their lives. My fear is that it will be a piece-by-piece dismantling that leaves eBooks in an absolute mess.

Whichever way it happens, ePub is just dead.

Amazon has won the war for eBooks that can use a purpose-built device.

Everyone else will go with HTML5 for eBooks.

And don’t forget: the Kindle 3 now has a WebKit-based browser inside.

Early Morning eBook Headaches

Wylie threatens broad digital expansion

Andrew Wylie, the literary agent whose exclusive deal with last week stunned the publishing world, has threatened a broad expansion of his digital publishing business to include up to 2,000 titles if traditional publishers refuse to improve digital royalties.

Odyssey Editions are priced at $9.99 right now.

If they put out 2,000 at $9.99, that’d be a library costing $19,980.00 to assemble.

$9.99 is too high a price for a backlist book no matter its prestige or past rarity. eBooks do away with the notion of rarity.

Prices must drop.

I think backlist titles should go for no more than $4.99 — at the high end.

And Jeff Bezos talks about the new Kindle — with its 4GB or internal storage — being able to carry 3,500 eBooks.

If those eBooks had an average selling price of $4,99, a Kindle could contain $17,465.00 worth of books inside.

So worrying about carrying around a $499.00 iPad when a Kindle could contain over $17K of books inside is sorta screwy to me.

And here’s another headache-inducing question: If a Kindle stuffed with thousands of books was stolen, what kind of torment would it be to have to redownload all that to a replacement Kindle?

And writer David Hewson with the ultimate eBook headache:

@mikecane Buying books for the Sony is a truly byzantine experience – more trouble than worthFri Jul 30 07:03:33 via HootSuite

Amazon’s Scorched-Earth Win: $139 Kindle

Two articles cited within:

Kindle to Go ‘Mass Market’ Inc. plans to release a cheaper Kindle e-reader next month, said Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, laying out a strategy to go “mass market” with an inexpensive gadget designed to do just one thing: sell digital books from Amazon.

The new Kindle features a screen with increased gray-scale contrast, a battery that lasts for a month, and a slightly smaller size. It will come in two flavors: one with Wi-Fi and 3G Internet connections selling for $189, the other with Wi-Fi only for $139. The latter will be among the cheapest wireless-equipped e-readers on the market, at least for now.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Wow. I think Barnes & Noble just got indigestion.

And Borders, with its very low-end USB-cable-syncing $149 Kobo Reader, just had a heart attack.

Over at Sony, it cannot be a good day (it’s just near 5PM for them in California as I type this).

Think about it! Last year at this time, one of these devices cost between $199 (Sony Pocket Reader) to $300 (Sony Reader Touch), which other entrants boasting of larger displays and prices nearing $500.

People marveled at the Kobo Reader coming in at $149 just a few months ago.

Now Amazon has just made a Kindle at half the price it used to be!

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21st Century Book Publishing Problem

I was going to illustrate this with a diagram, but I’m being lazy.

But this post is necessary because no one else is yet seeing this.

The current books-as-file-things will go away.

Books will be on the Internet.

But the lawyers get involved here and that can screw things up.

So, you buy a book that lives on the Internet from Publisher A.

In five years, the contract Publisher A had for the book expires. Publisher A no longer has the right to offer that book.

The way lawyers work, Publisher A will have to remove that book from its servers.

Your book goes POOF!

This should not happen.

Buying a book that lives on the Internet should be permanent.

I don’t know what the solution to this is yet.

And it’s unlikely that Publisher A, no longer deriving income from that book, will continue to keep it online out of the goodness of its heart (because ask any writer: publishers have no heart!).

Authors Guild Slapped Down By Copyright Office

Past braying that by clueless and useless and snooty organization that sold out every writer:

February 12, 2009: E-Book Rights Alert: Amazon’s Kindle 2 Adds “Text to Speech” Function

Until this issue is worked out, Amazon may be undermining your audio market as it exploits your e-books.

March 2, 2009: Amazon Reverses Stance on Computer-Generated Audio for the Kindle 2

Amazon’s initial implementation of Kindle 2 would have added audio playback to your e-book regardless of whether Amazon had properly acquired audio rights. For most of you, Amazon’s announcement means that it will now respect your contractual right to authorize (or not) the addition of computer-generated audio to your e-books sold for the Kindle.

Those idiots couldn’t distinguish between crappy machine-generated badly-pronounced audio output and the artistry of a human reader.

And now along comes the Copyright Office to slap them down:

July 26, 2010: Rulemaking on Exemptions from Prohibition on Circumvention of Technological Measures that Control Access to Copyrighted Works

(6) Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format.

The Copyright Office has now stated that machine-reading is not a subsidiary right of a book contract and the DRM on such eBooks that prevent Text-to-Speech can legally be circumvented to re-enable that function.

It remains to be seen now if Amazon will flip the flag on all of its Kindle books that has prevented this feature.

I won’t be going into other DRM issues. There are plenty of others chiming in about that elsewhere.

I just needed to show once again that the Authors Guild is an organization with its head stuck up its ass when it comes to technology.

Kindle eBooks: Always Sample Before Buying!

On Twitter, someone clued me into this fiasco. Fire & Ice by Dana Stabenow is available for 99-cents.

But that is a total waste of money.

This is from the free sample:

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There is no agent or publisher on the entire planet that would accept that as a manuscript submission — yet it’s being sold as an eBook! And yes: the entire eBook looks like that, not just the sample.

And get this: It was dropped in price from $4.99!

I’ve heard tales of things like this happening in the past.

And it’s to Amazon’s credit that when people point this out, they will cancel the sale and refund the money.

It’s too bad people wind up getting their hopes up for some books and wasting time in the meanwhile.

And look: I tried one more book in this series and got the same lack of formatting!

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And that one has a price of $4.99!