Readersforum's Blog

May 2, 2013

Do e-readers inhibit reading comprehension?

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 9:28 am

kindle_amazons_e_book_reader_is_hereResearch suggests that the devices can prevent readers from wholly absorbing longer texts

By Ferris Jabr

In a viral YouTube video from October 2011 a 1-year-old girl sweeps her fingers across an iPad’s touchscreen, shuffling groups of icons. In the following scenes she appears to pinch, swipe and prod the pages of paper magazines as though they too were screens. When nothing happens, she pushes against her leg, confirming that her finger works just fine — or so a title card would have us believe.

The girl’s father, Jean-Louis Constanza, presents “A Magazine Is an iPad That Does Not Work” as naturalistic observation — a Jane Goodall among the chimps moment — that reveals a generational transition. “Technology codes our minds,” he writes in the video’s description. “Magazines are now useless and impossible to understand, for digital natives” — that is, for people who have been interacting with digital technologies from a very early age.

Perhaps his daughter really did expect the paper magazines to respond the same way an iPad would. Or maybe she had no expectations at all — maybe she just wanted to touch the magazines. Babies touch everything. Young children who have never seen a tablet like the iPad or an e-reader like the Kindle will still reach out and run their fingers across the pages of a paper book; they will jab at an illustration they like; heck, they will even taste the corner of a book. Today’s so-called digital natives still interact with a mix of paper magazines and books, as well as tablets, smartphones and e-readers; using one kind of technology does not preclude them from understanding another.

Nevertheless, the video brings into focus an important question: How exactly does the technology we use to read change the way we read?

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December 19, 2011

Apple’s struggle to defeat Amazon set to be exposed by European ebook inquiry

Filed under: Publishers — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:06 pm

Britons bought 12.7m ebooks in the first half of 2011, according to the Publishers Association. Photograph: Tooga/Getty Images

The deal that the iPad maker struck with publishers could be threatened by an inquiry into the prices people in the EU pay for their digital reading.

By Juliette Garside

For book publishers, Christmas will come twice this year. After the festive trade in hardback tomes, the celebrations will begin again on Boxing Day, as the millions who got Kindles from Santa go online to stock them with reading material.

Amazon already sells more ebooks than paperbacks. It claims sales of Kindle devices have reached 1m a week, while 13m iPads will find a home this quarter. Juniper Research forecasts 25m e-readers sales globally this year, and 55.2m tablet sales.

The British bought 12.7m ebooks in the first half of 2011, double the amount for the same period last year, according to the Publishers Association. By common consent, January will be a record month for digital books.

But regulators, both in Europe and the United States, are worried that shoppers may be overpaying. This month, both the European commission and the US department of justice have announced investigations into ebook sales. They are to lift the lid on a power struggle between the publishing industry and Amazon that could determine the shape of the book trade for years to come.

The European commission will probe the “agency” deals signed between Apple and five of the biggest publishers: Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Macmillan.

The trouble began in early 2010. Worried about declining physical book sales, publishers feared Amazon’s eye-catching discounts would devalue their electronic product. So they agreed to a business model proposed by Apple just before the release of the first iPad. It was a move intended to force the world’s largest bookseller to relinquish control over pricing.

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October 25, 2011

What Steve Jobs Thought About Digital Books


Buy this

By Jeremy Greenfield

In 2008,Steve Jobs reportedly  said the book business was “unsalvageable.” Two years later, Jobs unveiled his latest world-beating device – the iPad, a product that many major publishers hoped would help them grow their e-book business.

Today, less than a month after the death of Apple’s founder and long-time CEO, Simon & Schuster released the first of what should be many Steve Jobs biographies. Titled simply “Steve Jobs” and penned by Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based public policy center, the biography is being reviewed as wide-ranging and full of juicy tidbits – both positive and negative – about Jobs’s life and work.

But what did the man who once pronounced the trade dead really think about e-books?

In September 2009, before the launch of the iPad, in an interview with David Pogue of the New York Times, Jobs said that Apple doesn’t see e-books as a “big market” and speculated that the Kindle wasn’t selling well. He also implied that the e-reader was a losing bet as a device since multi-function devices would be more popular and also serve as e-readers.



October 19, 2011

What Publishers Look For When They Buy a Company

In the era of e-readers and digital publishing, large publishers in the US, UK and Europe have changed their criteria for selecting companies to acquire.

By Martin Levin

Those of us who work with book publishers who continue to seek growth opportunities by acquisition have found that the “game” has changed significantly.

Beginning in 1960s well-established US publishers realized that they could growth faster and increase their profitability by acquisitions. They could diversify, acquire established back lists, add talented staff, and when they combined the business functions they could increase profitability. Publishers outside the US, UK and Europe found that they could acquire companies in the US to reach a new, large and affluent market. This tide flowed well into the current period and through some economic downturns. This was a period of constructive deconstruction of the industry so that now 20 companies comprise 80% percent of the total US book revenues. Seventeen of these companies are foreign owned. This was the golden age of acquisitions.

What publishers wanted in this period was a consistently profitable company, well managed, that would either enrich an existing list or expand into a new area of publishing. The prices paid for the companies were codified into a ratio of times revenue or times cash flow or times pre-tax earnings or a combination of these ratios.

It is impossible to say exactly when the e-book business really started, but the experts place it at the time of the first launch of the Amazon Kindle in November 2007. In the last four years the Kindle and e-books sold half a billion dollars and a billion dollars, depending on whose numbers you trust. The Nook and other e-readers came into the market increasing the revenue. Earlier, in July 2007, the first iPhone was released, followed by the App Store in July 2008, and the iPad in March 2010. Additional smartphones, e-readers, and tablets appeared. This period from 2007 to today has been transformational. more

October 5, 2011

The future of reading: iPad, Kindle … and hardback

The hardback novel: surprisingly resilient. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

It’s not a surprise that ebooks are booming, nor that mass-market paperbacks are suffering. What’s fascinating is how well hardback books are still selling.

By Peter Preston

Can it be good news or bad news that the six Booker prize contenders have already sold a record 37,500 copies, some 127% more than 2010’s chosen sextet managed last year? Bad news, sniff some, because high-minded quality ought to come first. Good news, say bookstore owners, beaming all the way to the bank and getting ready for a Jamie Oliver Christmas bonanza. But maybe the crispest conclusion is simply that this is fascinating news. Because the last time I looked, traditional books, involving words printed on paper, were supposed to be dying as the tornado of digital destruction swept on.

Monstrous gloom is still easy to find, sure enough. Take the latest book sales revenue statistics – for June – from the Association of American Publishers. They show adult paperback cash sliding by an eye-watering 63.8% in 12 months, nearly $85m gone missing. And hardcover sales are down 25.4%, too, while ebooks, via Kindle, iPad and Nook, boom away, up 167% for the month, a $50m rise.

Yet even America, in the teeth of the economic storm, can find some comfort in the relative resilience of many hardback categories, as well as books for children. And while the tablet surge may not quite be covering the losses on printed pages yet, it’s still buoyant enough to allow cannier differential pricing. Factor in the happy thought that ebooks don’t sit around in warehouses waiting for pulping, that demand and supply are cost-effectively matched, and there are some new reasons for a cautious grin.

And Britain? Here, too, the Kindle is surging forward: sales up 20% last year, and this year says it is selling 242 ebooks for every 100 hardcovers. Enter last week, on the US horizon, the new all-singing and dancing Kindle Fire plus two updated ebook versions, priced ever more competitively. The worldwide rate of change is fast, fast, fast.

Yet observe that, according to the Publishers Association, UK book sales were only 7.5% down for the first three months of 2011, and only 4.9% down in revenue terms. Moreover (a consistent, significant theme) hardbacks aren’t suffering nearly as much as paperbacks.

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September 7, 2011

Humans Pay Fearful Price for Cheap E-Books

Filed under: e-tailers — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:28 am

By Richard Curtis

A while back we wondered what was going to happen to your Kindle, Nook, or iPad when the next generation of e-readers replaced them. “If what’s happening in Europe is any guideline,” we wrote “it will end up in a toxic e-waste landfill in Asia and Africa where the destitute, many of them children, will scavenge it for scrap. These scavengers incur horrifying and often fatal skin, lung, intestinal and reproductive organ ailments from the plastics, metals and gases that go into discarded cell phones, televisions, computers, keyboards, monitors, cables and similar e-scrap.”

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August 9, 2011

Publishers need to “stand firm” against digital giants

Andrew Wylie

| By Graeme Neill

Literary agent Andrew Wylie has said publishers need to “stand firm” in the face of digital companies like Amazon and Apple or risk being locked into an insupportable business model that is unable to reward writers.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4 “The World at One”, the literary agent said publishers were moving to the demands of “digital distributors” such as Amazon and Apple. He said: “I think if they allow the digital distributors to set the music, then the dance will become fatal.”

He said distributors have had too much power for too long and publishers needed to “stand firm”. However, when asked if he felt publishers had the strength to resist these forces, he said: “The demise of the music industry was brought about because the industry allowed itself to transfer 30% of profitability that existed in that industry to the digital device holder Apple. Publishers have now replicated that by transferring 30% for no apparent reason to digital device holder Amazon, Apple and others.”

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August 4, 2011

Facebook buys Push Pop Press e-publishing firm

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 5:12 am

By Chris Meadows

Today Push Pop Press, the e-publishing firm who produced an interactive version of an Al Gore climatology book, announced today that it has been acquired by Facebook. Facebook has no interest in publishing interactive e-books, and Push Pop has announced it will no longer be publishing anything. Instead, Facebook will be incorporating Push Pop’s technology into its own platform.

As Tim Carmody put it on Wired:

So instead of an independent born-digital press, publishing next-generation multimedia novels (or magazines or textbooks or children’s books or cookbooks), Facebook will probably get marginally better iOS apps.

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March 17, 2011

New iBooks update opens door to fully illustrated publishing

By  Charlotte Williams

Apple’s latest version of its iBooks app, which allows e-books to have a pictorial layout similar to printed books and supports full page illustrations, has been hailed by one publisher as being “the beginning of a phenomenally exciting phase in picture book publishing”.

The new version of the online store means all publishers signed up to Apple’s terms on the iBookstore, including HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin, Pan Macmillan, Canongate and Simon & Schuster, will be able to release fully illustrated e-books.

                                                                                                                                               …read more

February 23, 2011

Regulators Eye Apple Anew

Enforcers Interested in Whether Digital-Subscription Rules Stifle Competition.


WASHINGTON—U.S. antitrust enforcers have begun looking at the terms Apple Inc. set this week for media companies who want to sell their content on its popular iPad and other devices, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission’s interest in Apple’s new subscription service is at a preliminary stage, and might not develop into either a formal investigation or any action against the company. But it comes as Apple has attracted growing antitrust scrutiny in the U.S. and Europe.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, said Thursday that the commission was aware of the new subscription service and was “carefully monitoring the situation.”

The Justice Department and the FTC are both interested in examining whether Apple is running afoul of U.S. antitrust laws by funneling media companies’ customers into the payment system for its iTunes store—and taking a 30% cut, the people familiar with the situation said. The agencies both enforce federal antitrust laws and would have to decide which one of them would take the lead in the matter.                              …read more

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