Ebooks

Tolkien gets downloads; Potter stays on paper

Some authors want to be downloaded as e-books, but some resist, says Yahoo!.

"Tolkien's addition to the e-club fills a major gap, and, with e-books the fastest (and virtually only) growing sector of publishing, other authors and their estates have softened.... [but] No e-books are available from such living authors as Thomas Pynchon,... [or] J.K. Rowling, who has expressed a preference for books on paper and a wariness of technology.

The Social Dilemma of E-Reading

Comment in the New Yorker Book Bench blog about the article How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write

Excerpt from comment: Johnson also ignores a more pressing obstacle for e-books: unattractiveness. It’s been said before, but I’ll say it again: books are sexy; electronic reading devices are not. As Michael Tamblyn, of BookNet, put it, “No one holding a Kindle at Starbucks has ever been asked for their phone number.” Certainly, the Kindle provokes stares—what a curious gadget!—but that guy reading an electronic device at a restaurant by himself? He just looks busy. The same guy reading a crumbly paperback? Attractive and approachable. Maybe you can see what he’s reading—that new play by Yasmina Reza, say. It’s a clue to your compatibility, and a means of striking up a conversation.

How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write

I knew then that the book's migration to the digital realm would not be a simple matter of trading ink for pixels, but would likely change the way we read, write and sell books in profound ways. It will make it easier for us to buy books, but at the same time make it easier to stop reading them. It will expand the universe of books at our fingertips, and transform the solitary act of reading into something far more social. It will give writers and publishers the chance to sell more obscure books, but it may well end up undermining some of the core attributes that we have associated with book reading for more than 500 years.

Bias against blind book lovers

The Authors Guild doesn't want the Kindle 2 to be able to read books aloud. They say this new capability violates authors' copyrights. This argument has absolutely no basis in copyright law. Reading a print book aloud or having it read aloud to you in the privacy of your home is not a copyright violation; the only difference with the Kindle 2 is that a machine rather than a human being is doing the reading.

Kindle Orwellian Nightmare

This post at Technovelgy ask the question, Could Amazon, via the Kindle, end up being the Big Brother of 1984 fame? Or at least his proxy?

"The apparent success of Amazon's wonderful Kindle has everyone's head full of blissful visions of instantly updated newspapers, books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound tracks, cartoons, photographs - every last error corrected and every last and most recent version included.

Well, maybe not everyone's head.

At UrbZen, the following scenario is presented:

Consider what might happen if a scholar releases a book on radical Islam exclusively in a digital format. The US government, after reviewing the work, determines that certain passages amount to national security threat, and sends Amazon and the publisher national security letters demanding the offending passages be removed."

Read the rest here.

Dead Media Beat: No Amazon? No Kindle Library

Kindle users have been grumbling lately about Amazon locking them out of their accounts, reportedly due to an overly high volume of returns on their Kindle books. ChannelWeb draws attention to the plight of one user who admitted to three "high-priced returns," though he denied abusing Amazon's return policy. Despite this, Amazon banned him from making more purchases from the online store, which also locked him out of accessing his already-purchased Kindle items.

Full blog post at Wired

Lost in the Pixels of a Good Book: The E-book Problem

Like all brand-new iPhone users, I went a little crazy at the iTunes App Store (a magical land where you can find everything from tiny handheld games—Air Hockey! Flight Control!—to downloadable art collections, playable musical instruments, song identifiers, "productivity" tools, travel apps, and more). I subscribed to something called AppSniper, a program that tracks brand-new applications and notifies you when something on your wish list goes on sale.

And that’s when I discovered e-books – loads of them, libraries of them – being added by the 01010101-load to the appiverse. Fully two-thirds of the new apps on the market seemed to be books – from the Koran to Shakespeare — most costing around 99¢ per download, though in truth most of those titles can be had for nothing. (More on that later.)

Suddenly I had instant access to pretty much anything in the public domain – for a small fee or for free. This felt like riches, largesse, Alexandria. Never read the Upanishads? Well, here ya go! Want The Complete Sherlock Holmes in 30 seconds? No problem! And look – plenty of shelf space.

Full blog post at Publisher's Weekly

Adobe Teams Up With Stanza to Create Open EBook Catalog Standard

From Readwriteweb comes this news,

"Adobe and Lexcycle, the company behind the popular Stanza eBook application, announced today that they are working together with the Internet Archive on turning the Stanza online catalog system into an open standard for distributing free and commercial eBooks. This new standard, the Open Publication Distribution System (OPDS), will be built on top of Atom, and aims to create an open standard for distributed online catalogs for electronic books."

Kindle Ebook Price Protest

Well, it didn't take long. Wired's Gadget Lab blog has a story about how a group of about 250 Kindle owners are staging an online protest over Kindle e-books that cost more than $9.99. The weapon they're using is Amazon's own tagging system, as price offenders are getting hit with a special "9 99 boycott" tag.

The roving--and most likely growing--band of annoyed Kindle owners includes such folks as Connecticut librarian Crystal O'Brien, who spends "a few minutes every day in the Kindle book store tagging the more expensive digital books with the '9 99 boycott' tag and removing it once the price drops below the threshold." Bookchase.

Is This the Future of the Digital Book?

PLENTY of authors dream of writing the great American novel.

Bradley Inman wants to create great fiction, dramatic online video and compelling Twitter stream — and then roll them all into a multimedia hybrid that is tailored to the rapidly growing number of digital reading devices.

Mr. Inman, a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, calls this digital amalgam a “Vook,” (vook.tv) and the fledgling company he has created with that name just might represent a possible future for the beleaguered book industry.

Full story in the NYT

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