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Tag: E-Readers (21-30 of 33)

Judge rejects Google Books settlement, but the debate is far from over

Citing copyright and privacy concerns, among others, U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin rejected the $125 million Google Books Amendment Settlement Agreement (ASA) between Google and book publishers Tuesday that would have created a “universal library” of sorts, permitting Google Books to put millions of volumes, many of which are rare or otherwise difficult to find, on the web. Judge Chin admonished Google for scanning copyrighted documents from university libraries — a project begun in 2004 for which Google has already scanned more than 15 million books — while still acknowledging that “the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many.”

Echoing the debate over universal healthcare, the judge took issue with the settlement’s opt-out structure: Under the proposed conditions, all authors would be covered by the ASA by default unless they consciously decided to opt out. Judge Chin suggested he would be amenable to provisions that would give authors the decision to opt in. READ FULL STORY

On the Books Mar. 1: Anjelica Huston signs a memoir deal; Lindsay Lohan will not be naked in Terry Richardson book; Bristol Palin update; lawsuits; and more

Angelica-HustonImage Credit: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic.com Scribner’s Nan Graham has signed Anjelica Huston to write her as-yet-untitled memoir, due out in 2013. In a press release, Huston said, “My father once said that interest was the most important thing in the world, and he wasn’t talking about money, but rather the infinite possibilities and choices and patterns we all have in life. In this book, I want to look back at the landscapes that formed me—the exceptional highs and lows I have experienced.” I don’t know about you, but this is the one Hollywood memoir I’ve always been dying to read (her father! her acting career! her years with Jack Nicholson!).

The Daily Mirror reported that Lindsay Lohan signed a deal worth $3.4 million to appear nude in “graphic” shots, alongside James Franco, in a book by photographer Terry Richardson. Lohan confirmed that she will be in the book but called the story “absurd,” saying she would appear fully clothed and the book will not be about sex. READ FULL STORY

Google launches e-books store: Are you ready to get your head in 'the cloud'?

Google’s new e-books store launched today, offering over 3 million titles in a new format that will compete directly with established retailers like Amazon. The store offers everything from the latest bestsellers (mostly in the $9 to $15 range) to public domain classics like Moby Dick (free, unless you think in terms of time=money, in which case it has its usual price of around $800,000).

READ FULL STORY

Literary agent Andrew Wylie signs controversial exclusive deal with Amazon

Andrew Wylie is one of the book world’s most notorious agents who, in reality show parlance, definitely isn’t here to make friends. Dubbed “the Jackal,” if that gives you an idea of how he’s viewed, Wylie is best known for successfully extracting enormous advances from publishers for his big-name clients, as well as poaching authors from other agents. Now the highly visible agent, whose stable includes the likes of Dave Eggers, Salman Rushdie and Philip Roth (as well as the estates of Nabokov and Updike) is creating a stir in the realm of e-books.

Last week Wylie signed a deal with Amazon for exclusive e-book rights to his clients’ novels, including such classics as Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. For at least two years, these works will only be available via the online retailer and only on Amazon’s Kindle or devices with the downloaded Kindle app. Many are considering this a literary monopoly, vertical integration for a medium barely into its infancy. And where even the famously hermetic and anti-third party iPad permits users to download e-books from a variety of sources, the Kindle only allows readers to access digital copies from Amazon. Random House, which published a number of the titles covered by the deal, has since announced their intentions to dispute its legality. Random House spokesman Stuart Applebaum issued a statement which said, in part, “The Wylie Agency’s decision to sell e-books exclusively to Amazon for titles which are subject to active Random House agreements undermines our longstanding commitments to and investments in our authors, and it establishes this Agency as our direct competitor. Therefore, regrettably, Random House on a worldwide basis will not be entering into any new English-language business agreements with the Wylie Agency until this situation is resolved.”

Square Books, an independent bookstore in Oxford, Mississippi, has a compelling take on the whole situation.

What do you think about the issue, Shelf Lifers?

E-books outsell hardcovers on Amazon: Which format do you prefer?

With Amazon’s announcement that the online retailer now sells more e-books than it does physical hardcovers, it seems as good a time as any to gauge where the battle-lines are being drawn. Some of the more tech-savvy among us may prefer the large storage capacities and easy portability of e-readers (anyone with a sizable library who has had to move can appreciate that), while others believe that you’ll never be able to beat the feeling of holding a book in your hands. Which side are you on?

The timely e-book: 'Truman Fires MacArthur' and Gen. Stanley McChrystal

mccullogh-mcchrystalImage Credit: Carolyn Kaster/Getty ImagesTiming is everything. With this mantra in mind, Simon & Schuster released an e-book Friday titled Truman Fires MacArthur, a historical account of the 33rd president’s dismissal of his famous Pacific general. The e-book publication came only 48 hours after Pres. Barack Obama sacked Gen. Stanley McChrystal over his comments in a controversial Rolling Stone article. The pamphlet-length e-book, culled from material in David McCullough’s 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Truman, demonstrates a new use of digital technology: the timely back-catalog reissue.

Special editions of physical books have to be planned months in advance, but with no printing or distribution requirements, e-books can be turned around in a matter of days, making up-to-the-minute relevance much more feasible. Excerpts and titles that might normally be difficult to track down could see release within reasonable propinquity to the events they’re pegged to. It’s good to see a major publisher like Simon & Schuster making use of the unique abilities of e-books rather than just spending all its time trying to ensure the experience is as close as possible to that of traditional books. Are there any other back-list books that might be particularly apropos to current events? Maybe a re-release of Upton Sinclair’s Oil! in light of the BP fiasco, or a World Cup 2010 edition of The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick?

Amazon, Barnes & Noble cut e-reader prices

kindle-nookEveryone slap on your helmets, grab your rifles, and dive into your foxholes, it’s a price war! Amazon has cut the price of its Kindle e-reader down to $189, a $70 slash from the $259 it was previously charging. This came only a few hours after Barnes & Noble announced the new price for its e-reader, the Nook: $199. Ouch.

The battle between the retail giants has raged for a while now, and it will open up on yet another front when Borders releases its e-reader, the Kobo, in July. One likely impetus for the dual price drops was an attempt to preemptively take the wind out of Borders’ sails by shortening the distance between the three e-readers’ costs before the Kobo hits stores. All this scrambling and fluctuating is really just evidence that these companies are still trying to get their footing in a market for a technology whose future is somewhat unclear. The launch of the iPad earlier this year only made things murkier; it has been difficult to assess just how much Apple’s tablet will affect e-reader sales. But regardless of which company ends up on top, the one clear winner here is the consumer. The new prices are significantly better than $259, and much, much cheaper than the iPad’s $499 sticker.

What do you think, Shelf-Lifers? Is this price cut enough to make you want to switch over to e-reading? Or will you hold out for even lower prices?

How do you judge a book without a cover?

You’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, and with e-books, that’s not a problem. There are no covers!

In today’s New York Times, there’s an interesting article about how, with the rise of Kindles, Nooks and — in a few days –iPads, it will be increasingly difficult to find out what people around you are reading. The days may soon disappear where you can lean over in an airplane, on the subway, or on the sidelines of your kid’s soccer practice, take a look at the book the guy or gal next to you is reading, and then quietly judge them.

For some, that’s a good thing. Many consumers of romance novels don’t appreciate getting disapproving looks because their book happens to have a shirtless man and scantily clad woman embracing on the front. Some don’t want to read the latest best-seller or buzzworthy work just to fit in. For others, though, examining the reading materials of strangers is part of the fabric of their day. They can see if multiple people are reading the same book, what authors have new releases out, and what just looks interesting because of its neon-hued or graphically clever cover.

A lot of magnificent works are hidden behind boring covers (go to Barnes and Noble’s website, type in “classics,” and be prepared to fall asleep while looking at the thumbnails of the results), so perhaps with e-readers, people will focus more on descriptions of books, rather than covers. My favorite covers are the bright, intricately designed ones from books I read as a child (Nancy Drew’s The Mystery of the Fire Dragon comes to mind), but I would still only actually purchase them if I liked the summary. Books are expensive, and just because the cover’s glitzy, I won’t be buying it if it’s going to cost me $20 and I’m not sold on the plot.

So while I am generally a pretty nosy person, I’m OK with the fact that I won’t be able to tell what you’re reading on your Nook. I’m just glad you’re reading something. Besides, when I’m on the subway, the last thing I care about is what someone’s reading. I’m more interested in when I’m going to get a seat and how soon I can use my hand sanitizer after holding onto the fingerprint smeared pole.

What do you think? Will you start asking strangers what’s on their e-reader? Come on, admit it, do you judge people based on the books they read?

Amazon plays hardball with publishers over e-book pricing

The Amazon rainforest is a pretty inhospitable place, where the law of survival of the fittest is taken to a harsh extreme. Amazon.com seems to have taken a cue from its namesake with its latest tactics with publishers to remain king of the e-book jungle, or at least ensure that no Apples grow there.

According to the New York Times, the online retail powerhouse has threatened to stop selling books from certain publishers if they don’t agree to its pricing terms for e-books. (Independent publishers in particular seem to be feeling the heat.) This news comes just before the launch of Amazon’s biggest potential competitor, Apple’s iBookstore for its iPad tablet device. Most of America’s largest publishers, excluding only Random House, will be selling books through iBookstore, under terms that allow them to set their own prices, a concession Amazon has been loath to make. Earlier this year, Amazon and Macmillan got into a big, bad brawl (or at least as bad as fights in the publishing world can get), when the retailer removed the “buy” button from the publishing house’s books in an attempt to pressure the publisher into accepting fixed Kindle-edition pricing. Amazon eventually blinked, but clearly the company hasn’t abandoned this line of attack.

The marketplace is getting pretty heated, and I imagine that as the first true pretender to Amazon’s electronic book throne finally enters the ring, it’ll only get worse. I can’t help but think that Amazon’s strong-arm strategy feels a little like the desperate actions of the king who can hear the restless villagers at his doorstep and knows that his time ruling alone at the top, while fun and super-profitable, will soon come to an end. What do you think? Do you agree with Amazon that $12.99-$14.99 is “needlessly high” a price to pay for an e-book, or is the online giant just throwing its weight around?

What's an e-book really worth?

Oh, if only Johannes Gutenberg could read the Amazon message boards, he would probably be…horrified. Readers turning against authors, publishers, and each other; readers lamenting $10 price tags because new books just aren’t worth that much; readers admitting that they read more from a screen than they ever would on paper. The value of the printed word that Gutenberg invented, some 500 years ago, just isn’t what it used to be.

Until the iPad came along, that is, and breathed new life into a wilting publishing industry. The device’s iBook store follows an agency model approach to selling electronic copies, meaning publishers can set their own prices (from $12.99 to $14.99) and keep 70 percent of the profits. Naturally, five of the country’s six biggest publishers—Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, the Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster—cut deals with Apple to be part of its new e-book marketplace even before the iPad launched. These newly empowered publishers also began rethinking their deal with Amazon.com, which has dominated the e-book market since the Kindle’s 2007 debut. Despite competition from Barnes & Noble and Sony, the company still enjoys 90 percent of the e-book market, thanks to a $9.99-per-book mantra that helped lure millions of customers to the Kindle store (and also pissed off publishers, who had to settle for a much-slashed “cover” price until the iPad’s promise of pricing autonomy went public).

So the publishers took their post-iPad bargaining chip—their revalued content—straight to Amazon and demanded more per e-book for the Kindle. First it was Macmillan, who won their case when Amazon agreed to raise consumer prices; and then it was HarperCollins and then Hachette Book Group. All of them argued for higher price points that, as Hachette CEO David Young said, “reflect the value of our authors’ works.” In other words, something that the Amazon.com bargain-basement prices do not.

Another wrinkle in the saga, according to last Thurday’s New York Times, is that Apple may have added its own discounting terms into their contracts to keep its competitive edge. Which begs the question at the heart of this pricing melee between publishers and Amazon (and now, frustrated readers and authors): What is an e-book really worth, when you can’t share it or store it on a (physical) shelf once you’ve finished it? Does a higher price tag validate an author’s craft, or just make it more inaccessible to the audience?

If you just looked at the Kindle store, and examined which titles are flying off the virtual shelves, books would seem to be one of the company’s least valuable commodities: 15 of Amazon’s top 25 e-book bestsellers are free, and eight more cost less than $9.99. There’s no doubt these deep discounts also help sell the Kindle itself—the lower the book prices, the more useful the device is, so more people buy the e-reader and the company can compensate for the lower per-book price. It’s great for the devoted reader—many commenters on the company’s Macmillan deal discussion thread say they read way more on a Kindle than they ever did before.

What do you think, Shelf Lifers? Do you think that e-books devalue the published word or promote authors and reading itself? Would you pay $14.99 for an e-book?

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