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Category: Publishing (Page 1 of 3)

Apple Loses US Anti-trust Case

United States District Judge Denise Cote has ruled that Apple did indeed conspire with a group of book publishers in order to eliminate competition and set ebook prices higher, and force Amazon to do the same. This ruling came as no surprise to legal experts following the trial. And given that all of the publishers in the law suit had already settled, one cannot help but wonder why Apple insist upon going to trial anyway.

If Steve Jobs were still alive, it would be easy to imagine that his stubbornness even in the face of ridiculously long odds, would lead the company down this path. But Steve is dead and it’s time for Apple to forge a new path. Jobs did some great things, but stupid things like the ongoing legal war with Samsung and Android need to be dropped. And this misadventure will be bad for Apple both financially and in the hearts of consumers. I don’t know who Apple thought they were championing by going to trial in defense of higher ebook prices, but certainly not the average consumer.

Apple can still be a great company making cool things that empower the creative spirit in everyone. But letting Steve run the company from beyond the grave is probably not the best strategy.

And The eBook Prices Came A Tumbling Down

money going up in smokeWhen I started looking for some new iOS programming books for my Kindle last week, it wasn’t something I was looking forward to. The last time I had engaged in such a search, I was frustrated by the high cost of these books even in digital format. This time I was in for a surprise. Lower prices!

In the aftermath of the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) settlement between three of the major eBook publishers and retailers, I had expected that eventually eBook prices would come down. But I wasn’t expecting it to happen so fast. Nevertheless, Ars reports that eBook prices are already falling. As part of the DoJ settlement, publishers HarperCollins, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster, agreed to abandon the agency model in which eBook prices were set by the publisher, giving that power back to the retailer.

While Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Google Books have already started selling some eBooks below list price, no such luck at the Apple iBookstore yet. Apple is among the holdouts, publishers Macmillan and Penguin, determined to meet the DoJ charges in court next year. I can only hope that they will come to their senses and realize that lower eBook prices for the consumer can only grow the market for eBooks and other digital goods. While it means the inevitable decline of the hardcover printed book, major publishers still have back catalogs of thousands upon thousands of books waiting to find new readers and new life as eBooks.

OMG Kawaii Desu!: A parent’s guide to anime, manga, and cosplay

OMG Kawaii Desu! CoverAs I prepare for Anime Central this weekend, I am pleased to announce the publication of OMG Kawaii Desu!: A parent’s guide to anime, manga, and cosplay! This book has been in the works for the last year or so, somewhat later than I had first planned. So thank you to everyone for your patience!

About the book:

Your kids are watching cartoons with apple loving demons and magical schoolgirls, mixing Japanese words you don’t understand with their English, reading black and white comic books backwards, and wearing strange costumes. What’s a parent to do? First don’t panic, it’s okay. Your kids are just fans of Japanese anime, manga, and cosplay. This guide is intended to give you an educated look into the world your kids have embraced.

Read it on your Kindle today!

A Perfect Storm For eBooks

X-Men_StormWith the U.S. Department of Justice putting the hit on Apple and a cabal of publishers for alleged collusion and price-fixing on  one side, Amazon brings a smackdown on the other announcing plans to lower prices for eBooks on the Kindle. While a number of the publishers have decided to settle with the DOJ, Apple and five others did not, leading the DOJ to formally file suit against them.

Apple has denied any wrong doing, but it seems clear that regardless of how things turn out, the prices that consumers pay for most eBooks are about to tumble. I’ve seen a lot of gloom and doom on the net about what this will do to publishers and small bookstores, but I think that in the end a perfect storm may be brewing for eBooks to take the center stage of reading, just as digital downloads on iTunes has done for music. Despite the high cost of eBooks relative to what many readers think they should be in relation to their printed siblings, the eReader market is booming. I think a critical mass of Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and other tablets has been reached. The only thing holding the eBook back now are the artificially high prices being propped up by the old guard of publishers, aided, unfortunately, by Apple.

When prices drop, the flood gates will open on sales of eBooks and reading devices. Obviously, Amazon stands to gain a great deal from this. Ironically, so will Apple which should see an increase in iPad sales as well, especially if they see greater adoption of their tablet by school districts. The fighting is going to be fierce and there’s a big question as to whether Barnes & Noble is likely to survive. The Nook Tablet is a great reader, but Barnes & Noble may not have the resources to fight toe to toe with Amazon. If they’re smart, they’ll be in talks with Google right now for a partnership or buyout.

Change happens. But I’m more excited about the world of digital literature to come, than fearful of the end of things I’ve known in the past. At the end of the day, a book is more about the thoughts the author shares with us, than the media that delivers them.

Do Not Pass Go! eBook Prices May Drop As EU And US Double-team Apple And Publishers

Do not pass go do not collect $200Ars reports that the European Commission is teaming up with the US Department of Justice investigating allegations of collusion and price-fixing in the eBook market by Apple and several large publishers. Apple and publishers Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Pearson’s Penguin, Hachette Livre, and Macmillan are accused of working together in order to keep eBook prices artificially high, in some cases higher than the printed edition.

This alleged collusion is behind the move to the agency model in the eBook market by Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble. In the agency model, publishers, rather than the retailer, set the prices of eBooks. Prior to that change, Amazon set its own prices for eBooks, often at a deep discount over the paperback cover price. Most Kindle eBooks costs $9.99 and less during that time, much to the chagrin of publishers who feared a rapid erosion of the printed book market. This changed after several of the large publishers threatened to withhold their books from the Kindle store unless Amazon agreed to the agency model they had worked out with Apple. Following this change, eBook prices rose dramatically, in some cases exceeding the cost of print.

If the EU and US actions against Apple and the publishers is successful, they will likely see large punitive fines and be forced to abandon the agency model. This could see a reduction in eBook prices which in addition to increased happiness for book readers, in this writer’s opinion, could also spark a boom in sales of eBooks and readers. Anything that grows the eBook market is quite welcome here!

How Do I Sign An eBook?

Inuyasha and Kagome from Rumiko Takahashi's Inuyasha

As I was ironing my shirt this morning I found myself thinking about Rumiko Takahashi, the creator of the popular Inuyasha manga and anime series. A song from one of the Inuyasha movies was playing on my iPod and I was remembering how much I’d enjoyed that series and how it would be fun to meet the Takahashi-san some day.

I’ve never been all that big into getting autographs, but with so much of my reading being in digital format now, including manga, the question arises of what exactly would I give the author to sign? Inuyasha is now available in digital format via the Viz manga app. It’s a long series that was a hard to follow in print because the releases were a bit sporadic, and now with the collapse Borders and the general deflation of the printed manga market in the U.S., it’s even harder. So Viz’s digital releases have given me a new opportunity to enjoy the full series in its original format. But what do I give the manga-ka to sign?

Signing my iPad would probably not be such a good idea, but buying an Inuyasha poster or wall scroll for this purpose would. An author of a popular established series will have plenty of merchandise that can serve this purpose. As the eBook becomes the primary publication medium, I think even new authors will need to have something to sign. Merchandising isn’t just for the big shots anymore. There are already a number of companies that manufacture customized merchandise of all sorts at reasonable prices. A simple postcard featuring the cover of their book or a personal portrait would be a good start for what will hopefully be a growing fanbase. After that, the sky’s the limit so plan for success now!

Amazon Brings The Pain With KDP Select!

As a runner, I was always taught to never look back at the competition. Keep moving forward, never slow down. With its introduction of the KDP Select program for self-publishers, Amazon clearly intends to add to its already commanding lead in the eBook market.

KDP Select adds a number of new features that self-publishers on the Kindle have been asking for for some time. These include the option to offer books for free, and to participate in the Kindle Owners Lending Program, with an attractive cash incentive in the form of a $500000 fund for participants. KDP Select adds a terrific toolset for promoting your eBooks, but there is just one little catch. Books enrolled in the program must be Kindle exclusives for at least 90 days.

That last little catch won’t be much of a stumbling block for most authors who already publish on the Kindle. But it’s virtually a nuclear strike against Amazon’s eBook publishing competitors such as Barnes & Noble’s PubIt!, Smashwords, and Apple’s iBookstore. The marketing and cash incentives are simply too good to pass up. While Learncrest has no plans to pull our current eBooks from other stores, new titles will very little be enrolled in the program.

So for it looks like Christmas has come a little early for many eBook self-publishers. But Amazon’s eBook rivals may be getting lumps of coal this holiday season.

Amazon Fires Up HTML 5 In Kindle Format 8 To Replace Mobi

HTML5 LogoAmazon has announced HTML 5 support in the upcoming Kindle Format 8. Kindle Format 8 (KF8) will replace Mobi 7 in the Kindle Fire and eventually the entire Kindle line of eReaders. Amazon has a complete list of KF8 enhancements here.

For me the main excitement is the fact that my very HTML centric method of producing eBooks is likely to benefit greatly from the move to what appears to be a very HTML 5-ish KF8. In particular, making a graphics heavy book like The Great Robot Adventure, which presented a great challenge to publish on the Kindle, should be a lot easier in KF8. I can’t wait to put the CSS3 and Scalable Vector Graphics support to the test!

As Amazon gears up to launch the Kindle Fire in a few weeks, moves like this, lowering the barriers to publishing great content, can only tighten their grasp on and dominance of the eBook market. One begins to wonder if anyone else can stand against the Amazon juggernaut for much longer.

Let’s Burn Down The Great Library of Alexandria Again!

Google and the Great Library of AlexandriaI first learned of the Great Library of Alexandria as a kid watching Carl Sagan talk about it on his show, Cosmos on my local PBS station. Like Sagan, I was greatly saddened by the story of its destruction and the great setback to human progress that represented. Books were my greatest treasure growing up, and their destruction was almost unthinkable.

In the time of the Great Library, books were written on papyrus and copying one was a painstaking and time consuming, manual process. Today, most new books are digital and it is an increasing simple matter to digitize those that are not. The Google Print Library Project sought to digitize the great works, many of which are out of print, housed in the libraries of some of the most prominent universities in the world. In effect creating a great digital library the likes of which Alexandria could only dream of!

Since beginning the project, Google has been sued by publishers, had an agreement made with said publishers rejected by the courts, and is now being sued by The Authors Guild which may be the last straw for the project. It’s as if the Great Library is being burned down again before it can even be built!

The conflicts all center on copyright and control. The publishers and authors certainly have the right within our legal systems to control their works. But I think they’re missing the larger picture. No one writes a book just so it can languish in the dark on some long forgotten shelf in the basement stacks of a library. Most of us write so that others may share our thoughts and stories. Some of us are even able to make a living doing that, but not most! Books were written long before it became a profitable thing to do.

When a book goes out of print, practically speaking, that author’s voice has been silenced and will soon be forgotten. When books existed solely as physical objects, this was inevitable. A bookstore has to clear space for new books. A library has to rotate older work to archival stacks to make room for more current work researchers access more frequently.

A digital library of eBooks has unlimited shelf space. The works of the great masters of antiquity and those of contemporary writers can be equally accessible. That is, as long as the authors and publishers have the foresight to make their works available in digital format. If an author wants people to read their books, it would seem to be a no brainer, digitize your books. If a publisher wants to profit from the back catalog of works, digitize your books.

But so far efforts to transition to widely available eBooks have been stalled by disagreements that seem bent on maintaining the old business model. Regardless of current disagreements, the future is eBooks. If the old guard won’t get with the program, a new generation of authors and publishers stands ready to replace them.

No one knows how many great works were lost when the Great Library of Alexandria was destroyed. But life went on and while the lost works of the old masters were forgotten, in time new masters arose to take their places.

The Walking Dead: Tokyopop May Publish Hetalia vol 3

Since closing down their North American manga publishing operations back in May, it seems that Tokyopop’s manga aspirations are doing anything but resting in peace. The Tokyopop Facebook page is still active and recent news that they may still publish Hetalia volume 3 has brought mixed reactions. The plan calls for a limited retail print release along with digital.

Prior to the shutdown, there had been indications that Tokyopop was going to expand their digital manga offerings. Perhaps this is being revisited in their Hetalia plans. But is it too late? Japanese manga publishers seem to be putting much, if not all, of their digital manga efforts behind the JManga project. Tokyopop would have to figure into this somehow, and it is unknown how much the May shutdown strained relations with their Japanese partners. Most of Tokyopop’s Japanese licences have reverted back to their owners, and some believe that fans would be better served if they gave up any remaining ones so that they may be published by more stable organizations.

Still, love ’em or hate ’em, Tokyopop is a well known brand in the United States. As a manga lover, I’d be very happy to see the return of Tokyopop.

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