Posts Tagged With: IPad

PubNews 27/9/2013

Every so often I get an urge to do a news item. Hope you like. It won’t be regular unless someone pays me. Sasha says, don’t hold your breath, don’t look at me…

 

Google announced today that they have launched ebookstores here in the UK, and in New Zealand and a number of Asian countries in the region as well.

They will be selling epub versions of ebooks, which is the open standard accepted widely by the publishing industry. Major publishers like Penguin, Random House, and Hachette have already signed up to provide content. For anyone who doesn’t know about the different formats, here’s a quick summary:

  • Amazon sells its own proprietary format (AZW), Mobi (also owned by Amazon) and PDF, possibly a couple of other smaller players. It doesn’t sell epub format.

  • Epub format is sold practically everywhere else – Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Waterstones, Google, most other distributors / sellers.

  • Apple iBook Store uses epub with DRM (digital Rights Management), but iPads, etc. can also handle PDF.

  • You can also download Kindle apps that work on Android or iPads, etc., so there’s a reasonable choice of reading systems, especially if you’re using a tablet or smartphone. Dedicated ebook readers like the Kindle are limited in what they can handle.

What’s best? Well, at this point, Amazon is the sticking point with its own format, to keep you locked into their bookstore, and they’re big enough that nobody can deflect them.

However, indications are that dedicated ebook readers are likely to fade out, giving way to multi-function tablet devices, which will give Amazon food for thought, even though they already have a range of Kindle Fire tablets. The planned lifespan of an ebook reader like the Kindle is about three years. I have a couple of kindles that I use, partly for reading, partly for checking how our ebooks look on them, but I probably won’t replace them when they die off. The Android Kindle app works fine on a tablet, and we’re going to bring out more and more colour-content ebooks, which, with some adroit footwork, will hopefully come out on a black & white screen as well. However, colour is definitely the trend for ebooks, and I would rather have one multi-function device to carry around.

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 The Bloomsbury brand Writers & Artists has launched a brand new service for self-published writers. This is on a section of their website for the well-known Writers & Artists Yearbook, and it will host a number of resources for writers, whether novices or cool dudes.

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 Wordery, a Global online retailer, launched earlier this week. They are a Bertrams (the UK wholesaler) project, they aim to undercut Amazon book prices from the start, and they envisage an annual turnover of up to £15m.

Quite how they expect to confront Amazon, I don’t know. Amazon can undercut anything you can think of, they counter Sony easily, but on the other hand, it’s good to have competition.

Turning to issues closer to my heart as a publisher, this kind of price cutting devilry just affects book prices drastically, and they don’t recover. It creates problems for authors, publishers, agents, printers, bookshops and others.

I really, really wish that we could have better regulation (see my comments on one of my “Money” articles) of the publishing trade, including protective legislation. Why not limit discounts to, say, 50% instead of the current unlimited scenario?

The government is quite happy to regulate speed limits on the roads, why not discounts on books? It kills off publishers and bookshops, drives authors into misery, what more incentive do they need? All very well to say government shouldn’t interfere, but when there’s total war by the big guns, how do the rest survive? How can anyone compete with 80% discounts to the few major retailers?

All I can think of, is exactly what’s happening right now: self-publishing, with sales direct to the public, whether in paper or ebook format. It may take time for a what can we call it… a sub-culture doesn’t sound quite right, but for a new, independent structure to gel.

So, we provide self-pub services, we’re seeing more and more people getting into the idea, and at this rate, who knows, the big players may regret ignoring the people who provide them with content.

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