As Kindle and Sony focus on North America…

A worthy contender in the Digital Reader market stands poised to capture Europe. I like the article “Beyond the Kindle…” here at because it illuminates something that we in North America are often encouraged to forget. There’s a whole big world out there. (And an eBook market to match.)

The article highlights a discussion with Hans Brons (I love the name) CEO at iRex, the company that was created as a spin off from the Philips research group tasked with developing the screen tech that’s in most eBook readers on the market today. They created the iRex Digital Reader 1000  (sweet machine!). Smart people though, understood their device was too expensive for the mainstream so decided to sell and develop for the business-to-business market. This is a market of interest for Kindle DX (landlocked in the US), the Plastic Logic Reader (not due on the market until 2010) and other eReader developers.

This might be difficult ground to re-take for North American eReaders if iRex can get enough publishers to adopt its platform and consolidate its growing European presence in the eBook marketplace. The other devices are going to make the attempt likely sooner than later, but how much of the market will be left for an expensive eReader from the west?

If nothing else, it should provide healthy competition that will bring all the prices down.

It’s the Pirate’s Life for Me!

DRM is EVIL… Remember when you could buy a book, read it and then loan it to a friend? I started buying books that way. A friend loaned me a novel, the first in a series, and I went on to buy the rest of that series, and more titles by that author. Imagine buying a book on Kindle and having a limited number of times you can access it. Imagine buying that book and being told where and how to read it. Imagine reading a book and being told you can’t loan it to a friend!

Why don’t publishers get this? You’d think the music industry’s implosion over similar controlling behavior would have taught them something. Are they so blind in their search for profits that these idiots willfully, aggressively set a course for their own destruction?

Read an excellent, but confusing set of justifications for eBook Piracy at here. (Honestly, halfway through the article I wanted to go out and buy my very own Jolly Roger…)

Somebody, please talk some sense to these publishing idiots before the pirates and file sharers are distributing every book ever written!

Remove the DRM and remove an incentive to STEAL!

Breathing down Kindle DX’s Neck: Plastic Logic’s eReader…

Take a look at this video. Plastic Logic’s eReader is due out on the market in 2010 to give Kindle DX a run for the money. I wish it looked a little less like Kindle, to make the comparison more exciting, but what are you going to do. We talked about this eReader earlier in the year, but more exciting details have come to light, including a faster screen refresh and  3G broadband connectivity. Check out the list of features here at Fast Company.

So what’s it going to be then? A cheaper DX with its fewer functions could grab the eReading high ground and hold it. At least Plastic Logic eReader’s extra functions might justify a higher price.

It will be fun to watch.

Google Books

All right, I’ve put this off long enough. I suppose I was waiting for all the legal blather to pass (wishful thinking on my part). You can read about the court wrangle over Google Books at PCWorld here.

Google Books offers tons of public domain material for download, as well as sales and samples from a growing number of publishers. See their new format here. The same goes for eBooks for mobile (iPhone and Android ready) as you can see by clicking here.

They’ve got an impressive and growing collection that is eventually going to be offered in partnership with the Sony Reader among others. We covered that story before. Read it here.

Google Books is going to challenge Amazon for supremacy in the eBook sales market, yah? Nobody else could. (Oops…maybe Apple!)

eBook Sales on the Rise despite Down Economy

Read a Fiction Matters story here about the eBook’s continued success. The numbers suggest a widespread and rapid adoption (despite some faltering moments) regardless of the ridiculously high prices for eBook Reading devices (Kindle & Sony almost $400) and the eBooks themselves ($9.99 and up). Can you imagine what will happen when the $99 eBook Reader hits a marketplace that offers eBooks for $2.99 a pop?

It will be like the first appearance of the paperback. That was created as a ubiquitous presence in airports, grocery stores and bus stops priced for the impulse buy. Then we’ll see the eBook Revolution at its finest. We are simply watching the first steps, yah?

Important News Item

Read this article at CNN about the ridiculous $1.9 million fine handed down to mother and internet music pirate, Jammie Thomas-Rasset.

While you do, imagine the word ‘eBooks’ in place of ‘songs,’ and substitute ‘publishers’ for ‘Recording Industry of America…’  The high price of eBooks and attempts to control the product with DRM (locked) files will create our own eBook and digital publishing pirates. (They’re already out there…)

The piracy and file sharing wouldn’t be there if the recording industry hadn’t overcharged for music in the first place. (Do you hear me, eBook publishing industry?) Imagine blaming Thomas-Rasset’s sharing of 24 songs for the declining profits of a mismanaged (and outdated) industry. It’s shameful, and frankly encourages me to support pirates and file sharing sites. It’s hard to dislike them if Jammie Thomas-Rasset is in any way representative of their crew. (In fact it feels like I have more in common with her than these heartless corporations that feel ‘she’ has the devil to pay.)

Jammie Thomas-Rasset is going to appeal. At best, her ‘crime’ could be called petty larceny. The Recording Industry of America seems determined to further defame itself with this sort of ridiculous and unsupportable attempt at controlling digital media, yah? I’m embarrassed for the musicians and artists that the Recording Industry of America represents.

Interesting development at MP Publishing.

From a press release: “MP Publishing is acquiring thousands of book titles from publishers all over the world and making them available for instant download through their website,, and through mass distribution channels.” Read the full release here. What I like about this crew is they’re open to established publishing houses and independent authors. I looked around their site, and they’re asking over $10 US for an eBook. Still charging too much, and that will promote piracy. Same old story, but it’s encouraging. Companies like this getting into the act will pave the way for that creator-to-consumer marketplace that I dream about, yah?

Sounds more complicated than it is…

At least the delivery is straightforward. I wouldn’t want to touch the coding…but: 

The Software developer, Language Technologies, Inc., that specializes in reading technology announced the release of its ReadSmart Edition applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch at the iTunes App Store. Read the press release here. You can get the apps direct from or through the iTunes App Store. These are simply digital books that retain the look and design of a print book. Unlike other e-book formats ReadSmart Editions offers high-definition typography that enhances text without changing the wording and keeps fonts and typefaces of print editions.

So, it’s worth checking out, yah?

Kindle DX ‘sold out…’’s new Kindle DX with the 9.7 inch screen and $489 price tag sold out within three days of its June 10 release. Read a story about it here. The Kindle DX should be back on sale (restocked) by June 17.

I’ve been skeptical of market babble like ‘sold out’ ever since I discovered that the term ‘bestseller’ was applied with less than scientific regard. It’s too easy to manipulate a marketplace and Amazon is notorious for this kind of semantical shell game. How can you apply the term ‘sold out’ if you have to wait 4-6 weeks when you’re ordering the device? Couldn’t that item also be referred to as ‘under stocked’ or ‘built-on-demand’ in which case, said item could never be ‘sold out.’ (Come on, we all know this is just market manipulation. First of all, they don’t have enough confidence in the new device to do more than lowball the expected demand. And by being chronically sold out or out of stock, they drive the mindset that the device is rare or difficult to obtain, and therefore worth the ridiculous sum you have to pay. They won’t even take the leap and put the Kindle on a store shelf.)

Sorry, I know I keep grinding this axe, but I believe in the new technology, and more than that I believe in readers and writers… Those two groups are not respected by these attempts at profiteering, yah?

Cheaper (unlocked) eBooks + Cheaper eBook Readers = Happy Customers, Thriving Marketplace.

Amazon’s ASIN versus ISBN

We talked about this before, but I have to wonder when this is going to become a thorn in everyone’s side. (Especially those agencies authorized to print money issuing ISBN for every damn thing). Now that Amazon is embracing the vast number of Independent authors and artists by issuing unique Amazon Standard Identification Numbers regardless of ISBN or representation (read about the ASIN here) and circumventing the need for the ISBN (in much the same way as the Internet’s various search engines have) one has to wonder if the ISBN still has any relevance at all.

And now publishers that take great pains to catalogue their own lists are arguing the new technologies make the ISBN an outmoded cash-grab. As the eBook revolution is making it affordable for publishers to dust off their backlists, those publishers are now looking at the old ISBN rules and crying foul. ISBN rules say you’ve got to have individual ISBN for all issues and re-issues of a book, as well as eBook or CD versions of the same product. (Let’s say a minimum of 2 ISBN per book and it adds up.)

A bit of checking around showed that ISBN prefixes cost as much as $250 for a block of ten pre-numbered ISBN purchased from any of the 160 authorized ISBN agencies worldwide. When publishers reissue products in multiple formats from a backlist of several thousand titles, they say it’s an extra cost that is unjustified because of modern technical advances in web search, store search engines and computer databases.

Read the full lowdown on ISBN from ISBN.ORG

What is the purpose of an ISBN?
The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify one title or edition of a title from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition, allowing for more efficient marketing of products by booksellers, libraries, universities, wholesalers and distributors.

An ISBN should be assigned to each title or product, including any backlist or forthcoming titles. Each format or binding must have a separate ISBN (i.e. hardcover, paperbound, VHS video, laserdisc, e-book format, etc). A new ISBN is required for a revised edition. Once assigned, an ISBN can never be reused. An ISBN is printed on the lower portion of the back cover of a book above the bar code and on the copyright page.

Sounds like a nice little racket. I was okay until I read you have to assign a new ISBN for each revised edition. With today’s printing technology, e.g. Print-On-Demand and the adoption of the eBook (where, frankly, editions can be revised continuously) one’s options are considerably restrained by this necessity for reclassification. Having to acquire a new ISBN for each revised edition unnecessarily complicates a process that the ISBN should streamline, one would think and it seriously restricts the flexibilty that the new publishing technology offers. Sounds like Amazon’s ASIN is the way to go. When will Google Books start issuing its own identification numbers, yah?