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Tag: iPad (1-7 of 7)

Apple's iBooks 2 app to 'reinvent' textbooks

The annual back-to-school textbook run, which leaves students hundreds (or thousands) of dollars poorer and stooped beneath lead-weight backpacks, may be a thing of the past. Earlier today, Apple released the free iBooks 2 app for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Unlike the original iBooks app, which sold fiction, nonfiction, and poetry titles, iBooks 2 will also offer textbooks, which will all be priced at $14.99 or less.

Apple hopes that the affordability of the textbooks will only be part of their appeal, stating that the iBooks textbook allows for increased user engagement with enhanced searchability, highlighting, note-taking, 3-D diagrams, and interactive galleries. Some of the e-textbooks will also provide questionnaires and instant flashcards of key terms.

Pearson, McGraw Hill, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt — who, combined, are responsible for 90% of textbooks sold in the U.S. — are already slated to sell their educational products through iBooks 2. Apple estimates that 1.5 million iPads are currently used in schools.

On the Books August 2: Stan Barstow passes away and Half Price Books lends a helping second-hand

++Stan Barstow, the British author known primarily for his tough, realistic portraits of post-war, middle-class life in England, died yesterday at the age of 83. The Guardian‘s obituary takes a look at Barstow’s life and works and his impact on British literature.

++It’s nice to see a little book store camaraderie. According to the L.A. Times blog, a company rep from Half Price Books posted a note on a site for the unfortunate, soon-to-be former Borders employees, welcoming them to work at their stores. “I wanted to let you know that Half Price Books would like to encourage Borders employees to apply at our stores,” the rep wrote. Doesn’t that just make you feel all bubbly inside?

++In other fledgling bookstore news, there is a rumor floating around of a potential Apple takeover of Barnes and Noble. According to an “unproven source,” the tech giant plans to buy the country’s biggest book retailer and incorporate its ebook market into Apple’s already established iBookstore. The purchase would do away with Barnes and Noble’s Nook e-reader and see the addition of Apple stores to the already standing Barnes and Noble locations.

Jay-Z's 'Decoded' app for iPad: Exclusive demo video

jay-zImage Credit: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty ImagesJay-Z‘s memoir, Decoded, is coming to a mobile device near you. The official Decoded app for iPad/iPhone/iPod will feature interactive lyrics displays, excerpts from the book, and previously unseen interviews with the rap superstar. A basic version, for $9.99, lets users choose 10 Jay-Z songs for the app to “decode”; for $24.99, you can upgrade to get the full text of Decoded with all the extras.

Take a look at an exclusive demo video right here after the jump to see how it all works. Thoughts? Would you buy Jay-Z’s Decoded app? READ FULL STORY

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?

Tired of your iPad's innovations? Use it as a typewriter.

Taking the absurdity of propping up your iPad against your laptop one step further, a man named Jack Zylkin has invented the USBTypewriter. Ingeniously harnessing the iPad’s 21st-century lightness, thinness, and word processing abilities to do some seriously early-20th-century work, the invention allows you to use your $600 Apple device just like you would a half-cent piece of paper. You type on an old-fashioned manual and the device “reads” your keystrokes and renders them via a USB port on your iPad (or other electronic device). And it’ll cost you only $400, iPad not included. After the jump, check out a video of how it works. READ FULL STORY

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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