Ebooks

Not Reading

30 October 2014

From GEIST:

Reading a book is an act of concentration that abolishes the world. As the type on the page dissolves before the reader’s private re-creation of the people, images or ideas that the ink evokes, reality is enhanced by insights, emotions or perceptions that were not there before. This compensatory quality is the product of concentration; it arises because reading is linear, reeling us along sentence by sentence toward a series of revelations. Reading a book remakes the temporality of the physical world. The shapelessness of experience yields to a chronology whose internal symmetry feels superior to the disorder of life. Book-based transcendence fuelled the three ancient Middle Eastern monotheisms that became the core religions of the early modern period in the West and on its fringes, and which were exported to other continents; all were “religions of the book.”

The book’s sacred status survived the secularization of society. The words of the imaginative writer, particularly the novelist, invested specific social configurations with mythic resonance: Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, Dostoevsky’s St. Petersburg, Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, García Márquez’s Macondo, Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo.

. . . .

More than a decade ago, when I moved to the university town where I teach, it was common to see students reading books on municipal buses. Now, with the exception of the occasional nerd stuck into a fantasy novel, or a diligent student poring over a diagram-filled textbook on her lap, this sight has disappeared. The students travel in stooped postures, jabbing their cellphones with their thumbs. Most of this jabbing is texting, or playing solitaire; but even when the students are browsing online course readings, what they are doing is not reading, because they are not performing an act of concentration, but rather one of perpetual distraction. As Marshall McLuhan perceived, the medium is the message. Reading is an act confined to books and magazines, and, in somewhat more scattered form, newspapers; what we do when we absorb words from a screen—and we haven’t yet evolved a verb for it—is not reading.

. . . .

The term ebook, more than a misnomer, is an oxymoron: we may read a text on a screen, in between anxious jumps to other windows, but we do not read a book because we do not achieve the level of concentration necessary to experience the spiritual or artistic affects that books provide. Some software even invites the user to read the book and watch the movie at the same time. A tweet is a perfect match with the medium of the screen; approaching a book in this way is like trying to view the rings of Saturn with cheap binoculars.

Link to the rest at GEIST and thanks to Timothy for the tip.

Austrian minimum book price to apply to e-books, web sales

27 October 2014

From telecompaper:

Print books sold online in Austria and electronic books will be subject to the set price law.

. . . .

The law charges publishers and book importers with setting a floor for the price of books. From December, this law will apply in Austria for books sent from overseas, too.

Link to the rest at telecompaper

Got Workflow? Step by Step to Better Books

16 October 2014

From book formatter and TPV regular JW Manus:

Sloth is my deadly sin of choice. But you know what they say, If you want to figure out the fastest, most efficient means of getting a job done, find a lazy person. That’s me. I want to get my work done for the day so I can kick back with a can of Pringles and watch Gordon Ramsay on Hulu.

Producing books for public consumption is not nearly as difficult, complicated or time-consuming as writing them in the first place. Even so, it is a real job (as opposed to an afterthought) and it takes some skill and planning. To do the job right–produce a great product–requires a workflow that makes sense and doesn’t involve anybody’s head exploding.

. . . .

The very first thing I do when I receive a manuscript is create a project folder and do a Save As of the original. Save As is important. There is no reason to NOT make multiple copies of the file. Your computer has plenty of room, and there will be cases when you NEED a previous version. I’ve come up with a file-naming system that helps me keep track of the files. I date the versions, too.

. . . .

I scan through my version of the original .doc file and make styling notes (chapter heads, special formatting). I note hyperlinks and images placement. Then I use Find/Replace to tag italics, bolding and underlining.

. . . .

I Select All and Copy, then transfer the text into a text editor. Here I do a thorough cleanup which includes finding “illegal” characters, deleting extra spaces, tidying special formatting (italics etc.), and making sure the punctuation is “printer” punctuation and not “manuscript” punctuation. I also start a simple text file that is called “Notes_…” where I jot down the table of contents entries, any special formatting required, and other bits.

. . . .

I always save the POD version for last. Production takes longer, not only in layout and design, but because it takes time for CreateSpace or Ingrams to approve the files, the cover has to be custom fit, then a proof edition ordered, mailed and gone over. It can take a few weeks. While this is being done, the writer/publisher can already have uploaded and started selling the ebook.

Link to the rest at JW Manus and thanks to Cal for the tip.

Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time?

12 October 2014

From Douglas Quenqua at the New York Times

. . .

For years, child development experts have advised parents to read to their children early and often, citing studies showing its linguistic, verbal and social benefits. In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised doctors to remind parents at every visit that they should read to their children from birth, prescribing books as enthusiastically as vaccines and vegetables.

On the other hand, the academy strongly recommends no screen time for children under 2, and less than two hours a day for older children.

At a time when reading increasingly means swiping pages on a device, and app stores are bursting with reading programs and learning games aimed at infants and preschoolers, which bit of guidance should parents heed?

. . .

Part of the problem is the newness of the devices. Tablets and e-readers have not been in widespread use long enough for the sorts of extended studies that will reveal their effects on learning.

Dr. Pamela High, the pediatrician who wrote the June policy for the pediatrics group, said electronic books were intentionally not addressed. “We tried to do a strongly evidence-based policy statement on the issue of reading starting at a very young age,” she said. “And there isn’t any data, really, on e-books.”

But a handful of new studies suggest that reading to a child from an electronic device undercuts the dynamic that drives language development.

. . .

Of course, e-book publishers and app developers point to interactivity as an educational advantage, not a distraction. Many of those bells and whistles — Clifford’s bark, the sleepy narration of “Goodnight Moon,” the appearance of the word “ham” when a child taps the ham in the Green Eggs and Ham app — help the child pick up language, they say.

. . .

Read the full article at the New York Times

The criticisms in the article seem to be directed at enhanced e-books of the sort that feature animation, narration, and extras. Neither the author nor the experts he quotes seems to know that there is such a thing as electronic books for children that function pretty much like paper books.

Welcoming-a-returning-PG vacation guest post by Bridget McKenna

HarperCollins Signs Deal With Bookmate – but Not Kindle Unlimited

9 October 2014

From Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader

Bookmate, which is primarily focused on Russia and ebook markets in eastern Europe, will now be able to offer its 1.5 million users ebooks published by HC. No one is talking specifics on the numbers, but the press release does say that “books by hundreds of authors, including CS Lewis are included in the deal”.

. . .

But I will note that Bookmate has a deal which Amazon has not yet secured for Kindle Unlimited. Following the deal between S&S and Denmark-based Mofibo, this is the second time in only a couple weeks that a smaller ebook subscription service scored a contract with a major US trade publisher which Amazon could not get.

. . .

This trend, if it exists, could well explain the speculation that Amazon is about to open up Kindle Unlimited to all KDP authors – with no exclusivity required. This would give Amazon a significantly larger catalog, and what’s more the idea is already getting positive responses from some indie authors.

. . .

Read the full article at The Digital Reader

So far we have only rumors and report of a possible tech glitch to support the opening up of KDP to all indies, but Nate Hoffelder lending weight says it’s still fertile ground for speculation.

Holding-the-digital-fort vacation guest post by Bridget McKenna

 

Have we fallen out of love with e-readers?

7 October 2014

From Caroline Corcoran at the Independent via The Digital Reader

“Print is where words go to die.” So went the theory in 2007 when Amazon launched the Kindle. . . .

But while it’s true that e-books show no signs of disappearing – the new Kindle Voyage launches next month hot on the heels of the “Kindle Unlimited” subscription service that came to the UK last month – neither does print.

Recently, I realised that I had become so addicted to the speed of new book buying on my Kindle that I had barely bought anything in print in the past year. . . .and I was sad that such great books were missing from my bookshelves. Worse than that, though, was a feeling that plots had started to blur, even with books that I had loved. The only way I could explain it is that they had never had a physicality.

So I decided to go back to books. On my first trip to Waterstones, I left with a hardback of the new Howard Jacobson that there is absolutely no way I can take on the bus. But I don’t care – somehow a story like that should have weight, and it feels so luxurious to get into bed and prop up that beast of a dystopia on my knees.

More at the Independent, including facts and figures about “falling ebook sales.”

Filling-in-for-PG vacation guest post by Bridget McKenna

Finally, a Big 5 publisher raises digital royalties

3 October 2014

From Laura Hazard Owen at GIGAOM

Digital royalties have been one of the major sticking points in the debate over traditional vs. self-publishing, with many people (even from the traditional publishing world) arguing that big publishers should raise digital royalties on ebooks to at least 50 percent. Nonetheless, until now, publishers’ standard royalty on new ebooks has been stuck at 25 percent.

****
“While our first priority is to sell books through as many different retail channels as possible, we are pleased to provide this platform for our authors who want to sell directly,” Brian Murray, HarperCollins president and CEO, said in a statement. In a veiled reference to the ongoing dispute between Amazon and Hachette and/or foreshadowing of similar disputes between Amazon and HarperCollins, he said, “Our authors can also be certain that their books will always be available to consumers through HarperCollins, even if they are difficult to find or experiencing shipping delays elsewhere.”

****

Nonetheless, it’s a step and it’s not difficult to imagine it expanding. Now let’s watch and see whether other big publishers do the same thing.

See the full article at GIGAOM

From Guest Blogger Randall

Speaking in the third person (as is tradition he thinks) Randall says 35% was still less than 70% last time he checked.

Amazon looks to launch e-books in Netherlands

24 September 2014

From Reuters:

Online retailer Amazon.com Inc is in talks with a number of Dutch publishers to sell e-books in the Netherlands, the Financial Times reported, citing a Dutch publisher.

“Within the book trade it has been a recurring message that Amazon might enter the market. But now Amazon has actually been in touch and so we are getting close,” the report quoted Sander Knol, the director of Xander, a Dutch publisher that has been approached by Amazon.

. . . .

Although the Netherlands does not allow print books to be sold below their cover price, posing a problem for Amazon that regularly sells books at discounts, there is no cap on how retailers can price e-books.

Link to the rest at Reuters

Apple and Amazon Take Baby Steps Toward Digital Sharing

19 September 2014

From The New York Times Bits blog:

Quietly nestled in Apple’s new iOS 8 mobile operating system is a feature called Family Sharing.

It lets you share books, movies, music and apps that you’ve bought at iTunes, iBooks and the App Store with up to six members of your family who are logged in using their own iTunes accounts.

So if you bought a song, app or book you really like, and you want to share it with your spouse or child or maybe a sister, you can register their email addresses with Apple and enable limited sharing of digital media.

Amazon announced a similar feature on Wednesday called Family Library, although it applies only to digital books, apps, movies and TV, and audiobooks bought through Amazon or its Prime Instant Video service — not music. And the sharing is restricted to the accounts of two adults and four children.

In theory, these services sound like a great benefit because if you’re an Apple user you don’t have to let your family log in with your iTunes account.

. . . .

But this seemingly generous allowance could also be viewed as a limit that’s a result of rigid copyright laws and licensing restrictions.

In the physical world, you can share a book or DVD or CD that you bought with as many friends and family as you like. You can even sell those items if you want, thanks to the first sale doctrine.

But digital media has been excluded from that doctrine, because, essentially, when you buy a digital song or movie or book, you’re being granted a license to use that media, but you don’t actually own it.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

Authors receive higher royalties on new HC website

4 September 2014

From The Bookseller:

Authors who have e-books sold through the HarperCollins website will receive a higher net royalty than if they were sold through another site, the publisher has confirmed.

HarperCollins unveiled its new site last week, which features a direct-to-consumer function, allowing visitors to the site to download e-books to read through a free HarperCollins app.

. . . .

The publisher has confirmed that authors will earn more through direct e-books sales through the site. A spokesperson said: “I can confirm that authors’ net royalty is higher on e-books sold through our website because we don’t have to share a commission with a third party.”

However, HarperCollins would not say what the exact rate was.

The new website offers a range of discounts on titles, although Amazon offers a higher discount on those titles.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Under a typical New York publishing contract, the author receives 25% of the net revenues received by the publisher for ebook sales.

For an ebook sold through Amazon at a 70% price level, this translates to about 17% of the sales price of the ebook before agent’s fees.

PG assumes that ebook sales through the HC website will pay the author a 25% royalty based on the discounted price for which HC sells the ebook.

This should be the case for direct sales by almost every major publisher, except Harlequin, which generally pays less because sells through an affiliated HQ company instead of directly through the corporate entity named in the publishing contract.

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