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Publishing consulatant Mike Shatzkin discusses ebook subscription services.
Excerpt: My long-held conviction that broad-based subscriptions for ebooks were not likely to work is partly based on facts that are now changing. It is still by no means a slam dunk that ebooks must go where Spotify has taken digital music and Netflix has taken the digital distribution of TV and movies, but it looks more likely today than it did six months ago. Still, looks could be deceiving.
The core of subscription economics is to pay less to the content supplier than they earn other ways to give you some headroom to create a value proposition for consumers. That’s how Spotify and Netflix work. That’s how Book-of-the-Month Club works.
“Reading is human-technology interaction,” says literacy professor Anne Mangen of Norway’s University of Stavenger. “Perhaps the tactility and physical permanence of paper yields a different cognitive and emotional experience.” This is especially true, she says, for “reading that can’t be done in snippets, scanning here and there, but requires sustained attention.”
Mark your literary calendars. Per an announcement today by HarperCollins, on what is author Harper Lee‘s 88th birthday, To Kill a Mockingbird will be available for the first time as an eBook July 8.
Many publishing houses don't allow their products to be lent out by digital libraries for fear of piracy. Articles and books by researchers are also affected. Readers are the ones who have to pay the price.
In a significant ruling regarding backlist e-book rights, a New York court this week held that e-book publisher Open Road infringed HarperCollins’ copyright with its e-book edition of Jean Craighead George’s 1973 bestselling children’s book Julie of the Wolves.
“Having accordingly relied on the words of the contract, this Court holds that, by its language, the contract grants to HarperCollins the exclusive right to license electronic publications, a right which was infringed by Open Road in its unlicensed e-book publication of Julie of the Wolves,” held judge Naomi Reice Buchwald.
Worried about security and sales, many publishers and vendors permit individual e-book chapters to be shared but don’t routinely include the lending of whole e-books in library contracts. Even when licenses do allow e-book lending, libraries typically lack the technology to make it work. You can’t just pop an e-book into an envelope and ship it off by delivery van or the post office.
But lending e-books may soon get easier. This spring a pilot project called Occam’s Reader will test software custom-built to make it both easy and secure for libraries to share e-book files while keeping publishers happy—or so the software’s creators hope.
Two authors, Mohsin Hamid and Anna Holmes, weigh in on the pros and cons of e-reading, from the Sunday New York Times.
A New Year’s Vision of the Future of Libraries as Ebookstores
As the New Year approaches, I have a vision of the future that brings bookstores to every town and invigorates libraries. In this vision, libraries of the future are our local bookstores. I see a future where libraries let people borrow digital books—or buy them.