Readersforum's Blog

March 27, 2013

Why ebooks are a different genre from print

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 10:43 am

The differences in format are beginning to change the nature of what we’re reading, and how we do it

By Stuart Kelly

Most readers, I think, will by now have seen the “Medieval Helpdesk” sketch from Norweigan TV, where an exasperated monk requires assistance to start working with a new-fangled and daunting “book”. It’s fun – if loopily anachronistic, the codex having been around since the 1st century AD. But it does rest on a presumption that I’m increasingly beginning to question: that technological changes to the way we read affect only the secondary, cosmetic and non-essential aspects of reading. There is a kind of bookish dualism at work. The text is the soul, and the book – or scroll, or vellum, or clay tablet or knotted rope in the case of quipu – is the perishable body. In this way of thinking, the ebook is the book, only unshackled from paper, ink and stitching. If the debate about the ebook is to move on from nostalgic raptures over smell and rampant gadget-fetishism, it’s time to think about the real fundamentals.

There are two aspects to the ebook that seem to me profoundly to alter the relationship between the reader and the text. With the book, the reader’s relationship to the text is private, and the book is continuous over space, time and reader. Neither of these propositions is necessarily the case with the ebook.

The ebook gathers a great deal of information about our reading habits: when we start to read, when we stop, how quickly or slowly we read, when we skip pages, when we re-read, what we choose to highlight, what we choose to read next. For a critic like Franco Moretti, the author of Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History, this data is priceless. For publishers, it might very well come with a price tag.

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January 17, 2013

How To Buy eBooks at Your Favorite Bookstore

app-300x198By Jason Boog

Are you worried that digital books will ruin your favorite independent bookstore?

Google will end its digital book reseller program for independent bookstores this month, but you can fill up your new tablet or mobile device with eBooks from indie bookshops with a few simple steps.

If you have a Kobo eReading device or a Kobo eReading app for your device, you can buy eBooks through your favorite independent bookstore. Below, we’ve collected steps on how to buy eBooks from an indie bookstore.

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December 11, 2012

E-readers reading your reading: A serious invasion of privacy?

The end of private browsing ...

The end of private browsing …

A new report shows that almost all such devices monitor users’ activity. This doesn’t really bother me, but should I be more worried?

By Alison Flood

In the light of a feature I wrote this summer, about how our e-readers can track our reading habits – complete, I’m ashamed to say, with the obligatory Orwell references – I thought I’d point anyone who’s interested in the direction of this new report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

It’s the organisation’s latest guide to e-reader privacy policies, including Amazon’s Kindle, Kobo and Sony, and it finds that “in nearly all cases, reading ebooks means giving up more privacy than browsing through a physical bookstore or library, or reading a paper book in your own home”.

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November 11, 2012

Kalahari Announces New eReader Apps and Gobii Device Partnership with Bargain Books

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:42 am

By Sovan Mandal

The biggest online retailer in South Africa,, has joined forces with the country’s biggest discount books retailer, Bargain Books, in a move which place the Gobii e-reader in physical bookstores. This should help expand the presence of ebooks in the country, where readers have already shown a preference the digital format. The deal will come close on the heels of Kobo’s launch of the Kobo Touch in South Africa. The Kobo Touch is priced R995 in local currency, while the Gobii e-reader is cheaper at R799.

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August 4, 2012

Four self-published authors on New York Times ebook bestseller list

Stop press … a total of seven self-published ebooks will make the New York Times bestseller list this weekend. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

Colleen Hoover’s Slammed to reach eighth place this weekend ahead of ebooks by James Patterson and Karin Slaughter.

By Alison Flood

Four self-published authors will have a total of seven novels on the New York Times ebook bestseller list this weekend, and the founder of self-publishing powerhouse Smashwords is predicting the number is only going to grow.

The highest-ranking self-published author on the 5 August NYT chart is Colleen Hoover, whose ebook Slammed (“A girl falls in love with a neighbour who enjoys slam poetry, but they encounter obstacles”) comes in in eighth place, ahead of ebooks by established bestsellers James Patterson and Karin Slaughter. Hoover, who self-published Slammed seven months ago and has just signed a traditional book deal with Simon & Schuster, also has her second novel, Point of Retreat, in 18th place on the NYT chart.

RL Mathewson’s romance novel Playing for Keeps (“When a woman stands up to her aggravating neighbour, romance ensues”) is in 16th place, Lyla Sinclair’s slice of erotica Training Tessa in 17th, and Bella Andre has three self-published romance novels in the chart: If You Were Mine in 22nd place, Can’t Help Falling in Love in 23rd, and I Only Have Eyes for you in 24th. The 25-title chart is dominated, as it has been for much of the summer, by EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy – itself originally published as fan fiction.

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July 18, 2012

eBooks Are Now ‘The Dominant Single Format’ in Adult Fiction Sales

By Jason Boog

Digital books are now “the dominant single format” in the adult fiction category, according to a new BookStats report from the Association of American Publishers. eBooks exploded in the adult fiction category last year, accounting for 30 percent of net publisher sales in 2011–up from 13 percent the year before.

At the same time, net sales revenue from eBooks increased from  from $869 million in 2010 to $2.074 billion in 2011. That’s 15 percent of net revenues for publishers. AppNewser has more about how these numbers have affected the total US book market.

Here’s more about those eye-popping figures, from the report: “Adult Fiction eBooks revenue for 2011 was $1.27 billion, growing by 117% from $585 million in 2010.  This translated to 203 million units, up 238% from 85 million in 2010.

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July 1, 2012

‘Book book experience’ creates bonds

By Sarah T Schwab

I might feel differently when I publish my first novel. But currently, I dislike eBooks. No matter how many hundreds of pounds of tangible books I have to lug around with me until I finally settle down, I will never, ever, purchase a Kindle, Kobo Vox, Aluratek LIBRE, or any other eBook reader.

So when I read that Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Russo (won in 2002 for his book “Empire Falls”) refused to allow his new novel to be sold as an eBook, I was pleased.

The 62-year-old said in a BBC interview that his new work Interventions, a collection of four volumes, is a “tribute to the printed book.” Russo is not completely anti-online booksellers. He just doesn’t “want them to control the world.” He said he wanted his new work to give people a “book book experience.”

Despite being an early fan of online publishing, Stephen King’s next horror story “Joyland,” out in June 2013, will only be released in (tangible) book form too. King said he decided against an eBook because he “loved the paperbacks [he] grew up with as a kid.”

I agree with these authors’ plight.

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June 14, 2012

How to become an ebook superstar

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:11 am

Ben Galley, a self-published author of fantasy books also offers a consultancy service for would-be writers.

A growing number of ambitious authors are turning to self-publishing. But how do they translate their aspirations into success?

By Patrick Barkham

It has never been easier to publish your own book. Traditional publishers may take a year to turn your manuscript into print on a page but you can get your own ebook on sale around the world in about four minutes. The real battle, however, is the same as it ever was: how do you find an audience?

Old-school publishing houses will almost certainly endure. Their expertise in not only editing but distributing and publicising your book increases its chances of success. But alongside them are a growing number of authors who have become editor/designer/marketeer/sales director for their own ebooks. In return for this slog, instead of a modest advance plus 8%–15% royalty from a traditional publisher, a self-published author may enjoy royalties of 70% if their book is sold at a certain price .

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May 29, 2012

Ebooks: winners in the generation game

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 8:50 am

Ebook consumption among older age groups continues to grow. Photograph: dbphots/Alamy/Alamy

The growth of e-reading among older age groups shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

By Anna Baddeley

New technology, like pop music or radical politics, is something you’re expected to lose touch with as you get older. This idea is encouraged by the young, who would rather their elders gracefully embraced luddism than try to befriend them on Facebook. What’s refreshing about e-reading is that it’s not just popular with traditional early adopters; their parents are getting in on the act too.

According to market researcher Bowker, while younger people’s ebook consumption is plateauing, in older age groups it continues to grow: more than a quarter of 45- to 55-year-olds and a fifth of over-55s bought an ebook in the six months to March 2012, up from 17% and 15% last November. A OnePoll survey last year found the over-55s were more likely to own an e-reader than 18- to 24-year-olds.

We shouldn’t be too surprised: older people tend to be heavier book-buyers and baby-boomers keen technophiles. But e-readers have qualities that could make them indispensable to an ageing population.

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May 6, 2012

Why the death of DRM would be good news for readers, writers and publishers

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:58 am

A Kindle 3G electronic book reader. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

The decision by Tor Books to ditch digital rights management signals the beginning of the end of the ebook format wars.

By Cory Doctorow

At the end of April, Tor Books, the world’s largest science fiction publisher, and its UK sister company, Tor UK, announced that they would be eliminating digital rights management (DRM) from all of their ebooks by the summer. It was a seismic event in the history of the publishing industry. It’s the beginning of the end for DRM, which are used by hardware manufacturers and publishers to limit the use of digital content after sale. That’s good news, whether you’re a publisher, a writer, a dedicated reader, or someone who picks up a book every year or two.

The first thing you need to know about ebook DRM is that it can’t work.

Like all DRM systems, ebook DRM presumes that you can distribute a program that only opens up ebooks under approved circumstances, and that none of the people you send this program to will figure out how to fix it so that it opens ebooks no matter what the circumstances. Once one user manages that, the game is up, because that clever person can either distribute ebooks that have had their DRM removed, or programs to remove DRM (or both). And since there’s no legitimate market for DRM – no readers are actively shopping for books that only open under special approved circumstances – and since the pirated ebooks are more convenient and flexible than the ones that people pay for, the DRM-free pirate editions drive out the DRM-locked commercial editions.

What’s more, books are eminently re-digitisable. That is, it’s very easy to retype a DRM-locked ebook, or scan a physical book, or take screenshots of a DRM-locked ebook, and convert the resulting image files to text. Google has scanned some 16 million books in the last few years.

It’s a solved problem.

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