Category Archives: eCrap ePub eBooks

Countdown To Google Editions

What Is Google Editions?

Next week is the final week of July. The launch window for this was touted as late June, July.

There are two possible problems:

As a wholesaler for the independents, Google’s plan is to provide retailers with a single digit share of the revenue generated.

Single digit share of revenue? So, basically indie print booksellers will be getting what amounts to a Tip Jar from Google?

And then there’s the possible real-life customer experience:

Customer: Oh my god! I saw your sign. You have eBooks now!

Bookseller (proudly): Yes, we do!

Customer: This is so great! Now I can buy from you for my Kindle!

Bookseller: Um, no. Not exactly …

Because the Kindle does not do ePub. And so far there’s been no indication that Google Editions will push out Kindle-format eBooks.

And how would that work if they did, anyway? Google to Amazon to Kindle? It seems to me Amazon would want a cut of the action too.

Maybe that’s why the Google Editions payout to stores is a Tip Jar.

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Amazon’s Monopoly: Selling, But Not Reading

Exclusivity and e-Books: Incompatible?

If a reader owns a Nook or a Sony Reader, or, god forbid, no e-reader at all (gasp)–then that reader is left with the option of reading the book on Amazon’s Kindle for PC application…

Amazon has a selling monopoly (and we’ll see how long the American government permits that!), but not a reading monopoly.

This distinction is important.

The exclusivity deals Amazon has affects only people who invested in eInk devices.

If you bought a Sony Reader, a Nook, or some other device, hey, too bad for you. You’re like the guy who bought CP/M a year before the IBM PC came out.

Such obsolescence happens all the time.

But Kindle format books are available for more devices than the crude eInk Kindle device.

Kindle books can be read on the 100 million iOS devices — iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad. And Android devices running 1.6 and higher. And Blackberry. And on the desktop with Windows or Mac OS X.

So, the Kindle device itself is now just a very small part of what has become a huge base of Kindle eBook accessibility.

If anyone should be complaining about lock-in, it’s owners of the Sony Reader. It’s limited to that device and the desktop (Windows/OS X). Want to read a book you bought from Sony on a different non-eInk portable device? There’s no app for that!

As much as everyone else, I don’t like the idea of any one company having a selling monopoly. This is something that will cause Amazon a great deal of pain at some point (especially with its Windows app not having the built-in ability to load in MobiPocket books!). It will be interesting to see what happens.

If you’ve invested in ePub, learn some skills to transfer your eBooks to the Kindle format. Or learn to live with what you have.

Hey, my huge eBook library is entirely in ePub. I know what this will be like.

Why Amazon’s Kindle Won

He is so right:

Nobody knows what Android means and nobody cares

You know how you know all about Android and webOS and such because you read awesome tech sites like this one? Well, most people don’t. Most people watch TV and read magazines and see billboards and that’s how they get their info on which new smartphone to buy. And for every ad for any individual Android device that they see, they see at least two for “Droid.” Droid, Droid Incredible, Droid X, it doesn’t matter: It’s all Droid. Droid is catchy, Droid is easy to remember, Droid Does, blah blah blah.

Yes. And this is no less true for people who just want to read books.

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Why Kindle Is Winning And Nook Will Lose

So, after my previous post, I chatted with some people on Twitter a bit then decided I finally had to get the Kindle for PC software.

I’d resisted Amazon from the start, but now it was time to see what it was like. And I particularly wanted to see how it would contrast with my awful experience earlier today with Barnes & Noble.

So:


Click = big

So, I hit download and the game was afoot!

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This Settles It: Kindle eBooks Are The Standard Now

Kindle Device Unit Sales Accelerate Each Month in Second Quarter; New $189 Price Results in Tipping Point for Growth

There is just one stat that needs to be called out of that press release:

On July 6, Hachette announced that James Patterson had sold 1.14 million e-books to date. Of those, 867,881 were Kindle books.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

James Patterson is like the McDonald’s or Coca-Cola of mass fiction.

If he sold most of his books in Kindle format, that settles it.

This has implications far beyond one eBook format. This impacts public libraries now too.

Nice try, IDPF and ePub. You lot better start defining the standard for web-based books. Although, given the rotten job you’ve done with books as files, stay the hell out of the next phase of books, OK?

Previously here:

The Abominable Kindle Wins?
Amazon + Public Libraries = Uh-Oh!

Barnes & Noble’s Free FAIL

Twitter was filled with ridicule for Barnes & Noble promoting free classics. It even got several blog posts, one of which had this wonderful headline: Once again, B&N are giving away ebooks they don’t own.

Today I came across the press release for this effort and was intrigued by this:

The Barnes & Noble Classics Series, available in both print and digital format, offers high-quality special editions at affordable prices, including a variety of carefully crafted extras. Barnes & Noble Classics eBooks offer proofed and well-formatted digital editions with introductions commissioned from today’s top writers and scholars, as well as author biographies, chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events, and footnotes and endnotes. Barnes & Noble Classics eBooks also include selective discussions of films and other content inspired by various works, comments by other famous authors, study questions to challenge the reader’s viewpoints and expectations, and bibliographies for further reading.

Well, OK! That actually sounds good!

So I go to Barnes & Noble’s link to get these babies — and I’m asked to create an account.

That’s the first FAIL. I screamed at Sony over this when they did it. If you say something is free, make it free. Don’t say you want something from me in exchange — that’s not free, that’s a trade!

Well, I was stupid and gave Barnes & Noble the benefit of the doubt. Let me create an account and then maybe I can get these.

That goes well. I even praise them on Twitter for not asking for a credit card (unlike when Sony did!).

But I spoke too soon. When I try to download, I get the Atomic Bomb of FAIL:


Click = big

Now they want a credit card number — for something listed with a price tag of free!

This is FAIL-o-rama.

Stop this right now, Barnes & Noble. Change the entire procedure for those classics. Stop calling them free if people must create an account. And once they create that account, don’t ask for financial information!

What are you thinking over there, Barnes & Noble? Don’t you realize that if people sample these are they’re actually superior to all others it becomes excellent marketing for your Nook, your bookstore, your brand, and future sales?

The Abominable Kindle Wins?

I have hated the Kindle since it was introduced and have made my hatred plain everywhere and to everyone.

Two reasons:

1) Kindle 1.0 was fugly. I’d never be seen in public with something that looked like it was designed by terrorists in one of the ’stans. And it worked like a product designed by reading terrorists: Every review contained complaints about accidentally hitting the Paging buttons.

2) It didn’t use ePub. And this was the Big One. Instead of Amazon getting behind the filetype that was emerging as a “standard,” it went its own way. No one in books wanted to see this mess of formats continue into the future.

Yesterday, Amazon announced its upcoming Kindle Previewer feature. It will allow people with HTML5-compliant browsers to see fully-formatted Kindle eBooks on the web. With that, Amazon has stepped into the future I’ve described here. Amazon is now poised to take on Google and its eBook-dominating plans.

And today I just had this thought:

How many Kindles are now out there vs ePub devices? If there are MORE K, then isn’t *K* the goddammed “standard” for eBooks now!?Thu Jul 01 14:39:26 via Echofon

There’s a Kindle app for the iPhone and iPad. So those tens of millions of devices are now Kindles too.

And Amazon just let loose Kindle for Android this week. So those millions of devices can now be Kindles too.

Add up all those numbers and the population of devices that support ePub — Adobe DRMed ePub — are just crushed. (Note: You cannot count the iPad as an ePub device because it does not do Adobe DRMed ePub — and that’s the flavor of ePub that’s been the “standard.”)

For the IDPF to continue to bray about ePub being an “eBook standard” is just desperate PR now. The numbers are no longer there. Hell, even writers have jumped on publishing for Kindle rather than ePub.

The numbers now support Amazon’s Kindle format as the eBook standard.

You don’t know how much I hate having to admit this.

How long will it be until Amazon wakes up to public libraries offering Kindle eBooks — as they have with Adobe DRMed ePub? Will we soon see an agreement between Amazon and OverDrive? Or will Amazon snub OverDrive and directly woo public libraries?

The iPad cannot borrow eBooks from public libraries. They use Adobe DRM.

If Amazon gets public libraries on board, it would be the death of ePub.

Kobo’s eBook DRM Hydra

UPDATED with a response from Kobo below.

People tell me things because they can count on me to raise shit about things that are wrong.

WHOA! Hey @kobo explain that DRM you got going with ePub for the Android app. This is ANOTHER variation of Adobe ADEPT?Thu Jun 24 00:14:43 via Echofon

Did @kobo just fracture ePub some MORE?! “Classic” Adobe DRM (Sony, others), then Adobe B&N DRM, now Adobe Kobo DRM?!Thu Jun 24 00:15:54 via Echofon

@jane_l Kobo is a bit of a mess, I think. MULTIPLE DRM — iPad, Android, and DRM on the web-based streaming version.Thu Jun 24 00:38:30 via Echofon

@jane_l And then the Kobo Reader at Borders uses ANOTHER DRM but can also do “classic” Adobe DRM.Thu Jun 24 00:39:16 via Echofon

@mikecane sorry, we can’t share anything about our DRM on various platforms.Thu Jun 24 15:05:38 via CoTweet

RT: @kobo: sorry, we can’t share anything about our DRM on various platforms. <- thanks for MORE ePub fragmentation!Thu Jun 24 15:14:06 via Echofon

@jane_l is not the source of the DRM news, by the way. We happened to discuss it on Twitter while I was ranting about it. I didn’t want to edit her name out of the tweet because clicking through would have revealed such revisionism anyway.

The bottom line:

1) If you buy an ePub for an Android device using Kobo’s software, it’s stuck in Kobo’s software. Their DRM scheme won’t allow that “universal” ePub to be read by another eBook program even if that program uses the Adobe ADEPT DRM scheme that has been prevalent (until Barnes & Noble broke it).

2) I wouldn’t buy any ePub books that do not use the prevalent Adobe ADEPT DRM scheme — including ePub books from Apple’s iBookstore.

3) What assurance do people have that they own these books and not long-term renting them? (This last bit must be expanded in a future general eBook post. The law is lacking in several areas.)

Update:

Kobo’s response was in a Comment. I’m still not moderating Comments, but they tweeted they had Commented, so I went in to pull out the text to give it prominence here:

My name is Jordan Christensen, and I work for Kobo.

You’re right that our Android app doesn’t use Adobe’s ADEPT DRM, but saying that we do not support Adobe DRM or make our books available in that format is flat out false.

Any book you buy from Kobo can be downloaded from http://kobobooks.com in it’s Adobe DRM’d format. We’ve been doing that for almost a year, and nothing has changed.

The reason our clients don’t use Adobe’s DRM directly is purely one of economics. Adobe charges a license fee for each book sold that uses their DRM, and in the highly competitive business that eBooks has become, if our customers don’t want the portal file but are just happy with our clients, we would rather avoid paying it.

As I said above, this isn’t an attempt to lock people out of their books – we always provide access to the defacto standard format Adobe format for anyone who wants it. If customers want to take their books in Adobe’s DRM format and use them with another service, that’s fine with us, and we’re happy to pay the license fee for those customers.

Sorry that wasn’t clear – we can only say so much in 140 characters.

Jordan Christensen
Kobo Inc.

So, in short: Don’t worry about incompabilities with the Kobo software clients for iPad or Android or webOS or others. You can always download the ePub with “classic” Adobe DRM from Kobo’s bookstore itself and load that into a client of your choice that uses “classic” Adobe DRM. OK, all that makes sense now and we can all not panic. Thank you for replying, Kobo.

It’s Not The Device Or The File, It’s The Internet, Stupid!

I have a break in my busy-ness today and get to do a post that describes the major change in thinking I’ve had recently. It’s sheer serendipity that on the same day this opportunity occurs, someone releases a big report that verifies my own thinking.

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Face Meets Wall: The Collapse Of eInk Devices

Suddenly, there were a load of earthquakes in the eBook device world today:

*SMASH* B&N drops Nook price to $199!! Confirms a $149 Nook coming too! Sony weeps.Mon Jun 21 12:06:29 via Echofon

How long will Sony remain in eBooks? How long will Steve Haber remain in charge of eBooks? B&N just knifed Sony.Mon Jun 21 12:48:00 via Echofon

And… hello Borders! What MORON wants a $149 Kobo reader compared to a $149 Nook that has built-in WiFi?! Mon Jun 21 12:49:35 via Echofon

To cap off Sony dropping the Pocket Edition to $169 and the Touch Edition to $199, in comes Barnes & Noble with a new WiFi Nook for $149 and the original 3G Nook reduced to $199 — and then Amazon spits on all of them by dropping the Kindle to $189!

Suddenly, Sony has no place left to go in eBooks. Will Sony still be around in that business by the end of this year? I doubt it! Add that as another FAIL in the strutting Howard Stringer’s Reign of FAIL.

And then there’s this, my first tweet of the day:

In a society where people are measured by the THINGS they own, what happens when THINGNESS disappears for music, video, books, mags?Mon Jun 21 11:55:56 via Echofon

— which gets confirmation:

TATTOO THIS ON YOUR BRAIN: “The desktop PC isn’t the center of anyone’s universe anymore. The Internet is.”Mon Jun 21 20:01:41 via Echofon

See: Don’t Mean To Be Alarmist, But The Odds Are Increasing That Microsoft’s Business Will Just Completely Collapse.

With eInk devices scrambling for any little bit of market share in a field absolutely dominated by the iPad, what should Apple’s next move be?

An iPad mini with a 6″-screen for $299 by Christmas. That would address the size issue, most of the weight issue, and by coming it at the price point of what eInk devices used to be, show them to be the transient duct-tape-triage technology they always were.

And with all that being said, all of the Big Six print publishers better start preparing for a world in which no electronic/digital book has a price higher than $4.99 for fiction and $9.99 for non-fiction.

With that price further collapsing a year later — as books move from being things as files to destinations on the Internet.