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2010.01.21 20:20


Mike Cane Throws Down the Gauntlet

Mike Cane, outspoken publishing and eBook blogger and advocate for freedom for digital media consumers everywhere has thrown down the gauntlet at Apple's feet. Last night, he posted a note on his blog stating in no uncertain terms that if Apple meets juts a few requirements with the release of their tablet (one of which, of course, is that it exists in the first place) he will cease blogging--which for Cane means taking direct shots at at what he sees as the ignorance and evil throughout the industry--forever. Here is what he wants apple to deliver:

I expect four things from Apple:

1) The iSlate--I still expect one with a seven-inch, not ten-inch, screen. But any damned size would do at this point.

2) Apple announcing digital books for it. (Hello, Disney?)

3) Digital books given a real marketplace--not just lumped together with free games and eejitastic fart apps as they have been in the App Store.

4) A new version of iWork--with digital book creation ability for all.

Do that, Apple, and this blog is dead.

The ten-inch screen seems pretty likely at this point. A real eBook and periodical marketplace will be essential--and it's got to be properly indexed and searchable, with a little bit of editorial to point us toward content we might like. The iTunes store won't work.

Perhaps most interesting is Cane's demand for iWork with digital book creation. Apple's consumer culture is an odd mix of empowerment and centralization. The company gives us to tools to do everything from design to filmmaking to music recording right from our desktop. But then, it's almost hard to imagine the company that has so powerfully maintained its corporate secrecy inviting authors to cut out the middle man. Desktop publishing of professional quality eBooks is going to be an essential part of how eBooks take firm hold. But don't be surprised if Mike Cane is still blogging come February.

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Book View Cafe Partners with Smashwords

smashwords logo.jpg

Book View Cafe, the all-eBook press that publishes fantasy and sci-fi and other genre-fiction titles, and which we reported on about a month ago, has announced a partnership with Smashwords to distribute its eBooks. Book View Cafe is a collective in which, as one of the members told eBookNewser last month, "everyone contributes to the daily running of the site, either by contributing technical skills, or taking part in the on-going PR outreach."

The partnership covers both works by the members of the collective as well as the original titles that the collective publishes under its Book View Press imprint. Book View Cafe has titles by Ursula LeGuin among other well-known authors in its catalog.

Smashwords founder Mark Coker told eBookNewser that, "I think it serves as further evidence that bigger name authors are beginning
to realize how easy it is to bring their unpublished and out-of-print/reverted-rights works to life as ebooks at Smashwords."

Big names aside, certainly indie authors and presses are showing more and more interest in sites like Smashwords. Look out for more on this site in this Friday's installment of eBookNewser's Making of An eBook Series.

eBookNewser on Morning Media Menu


This very blogger was the guest of Jason Boog and Matt Van Hoven on MediaBistro's Morning Media Menu blog radio show this morning.

We talked, of course, about the Apple tablet, as well as this morning's news that Amazon will offer an 70% royalty rate to users to its Digital Publishishing Platform for Kindle.

We also had a good time discussing the annoucement from The New York Times that that paper will being charging for online content in 2011--readers will get to read a certain amount for free then will have to pay a flat fee for unlimited monthly access.

Have a listen.

A Cookvook

Woman's Day and Vook have teamed up to release 'Woman's Day Cookvook: Healthy Food for Everyday Living,' a multimedia cookbook with recipe's from the pages of Woman's Day and how-to videos from Vook. Check the link above for a video of the Vook in "action."

The book came about through an agreement between Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., owners of the Woman's Day brand, and Vook, which is trying to build buzz for its multimedia book app format (see our writeup of Vook's 'Sherlock Holmes Experience'). The Vook is available for 9.99 as either an online book or an iPhone/ iPod Touch app.

This seems, at least to this blogger, like a more practical use for Vook's form than literature. Why shouldn't a cookbook demonstrate its own recipe's? Sherlock Holmes, however, ought to live in our heads, not our eBooks.

Photos of Apple Tablet Glass?

Ooooh. This is going to be a fun week of wild, and hopefully accurate speculation. The fine folks over at The Mac Observer got ahold of a couple of photos of what they believe is the glass--the top plate--of the Apple tablet.

Click over to their site to get a clearer idea of what you're looking at, but as you can see above, this is the supposed glass set atop a MacBook keyboard. The scale supports the 10" tablet speculation. They've also got a nice pic of the glass laying down atop some frilly bedding.

Don't know if this would be worth $10,000 to ValleyWag, but it's a fun place to start. Hopefully there's more where this came from.

Amazon Annouces new 70% Royalty Option for Kindle Publishing

Looks like Amazon is getting nervous about the Apple tablet. Just in time to beat next week's supposed announcement, Amazon has unveiled a new, Apple-like royalty option for authors and publishers publishing their eBooks through the Kindle Digital Text Platform (DTP).

Here's more from Amazon:

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced details of a new program that will enable authors and publishers who use the Kindle Digital Text Platform (DTP) to earn a larger share of revenue from each Kindle book they sell. For each Kindle book sold, authors and publishers who choose the new 70 percent royalty option will receive 70 percent of list price, net of delivery costs. This new option will be in addition to and will not replace the existing DTP standard royalty option. This new 70 percent royalty option will become available on June 30, 2010.

Delivery costs will be based on file size and pricing will be $0.15/MB. At today's median DTP file size of 368KB, delivery costs would be less than $0.06 per unit sold. This new program can thus enable authors and publishers to make more money on every sale. For example, on an $8.99 book an author would make $3.15 with the standard option, and $6.25 with the new 70 percent option.

We'll have more on this later, but wanted to get it up quick so you could start self-publishing as soon as possible.

Apple Tablet Rumor Roundup: Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hopefully, a week from today, all these rumor roundups will be behind us, and a fancy Apple tablet will sit squarely (with nice rounded corners) in our future. But until then, here's another look at the latest coverage from around the Web.

Gizmodo is running a sweepstakes--fill out a survey guessing he features of the Apple tablet, and if you're right, Gizmodo might buy you an actual tablet.

MacRumors has some evidence that Apple intends to call the device the "iPad." At last! A good, catchy name! Let's hope...

Finally, for now, Good Morning Silicon Valley has a nice linked roundup of all the recent news in case you want to catch up on everything.

The Most Popular Tin House Kindle Title

cover_pl.jpgToday the literary journal and publisher Tin House tweeted an interesting fact: "Possum Living seems to be our most successful book on Kindle. Curious if our nonfiction is more likely to succeed on e-book devices."

The book has received a second life recently as National Magazine Award winner Paige Williams (pictured, via) reported and wrote a 6,000-word piece about the forgotten author of the book, Dolly Freed. Williams self-published the profile and asked for reader donations.

Currently priced at $9.32, the digital edition of the book is $3.63 cheaper than the list price. That's a fitting bargain for a book devoted to living simply and cheaply during a difficult recession in the 1970s.

Journalist Carolyn Kellogg asked in another tweet: "Possum Living is @Tin_House's most popular Kindle book so far - but would its frugal author ever buy an ereader?

French Hachette Chief Urges French Publishers to Unite for eBooks

Arnaud Nourry, chief of France's Hachette Livre, is urging fellow-French publishers to band together to create a single digital book distribution platform that would handle French books. This news comes in the midst of a long public conversation about what French publishers should do to respond to the growing interest in eBooks.

According to The Bookseller, the coalition would be formed by representatives from three large French publishers, which together account for 80% of French language books.

Here's more from The Bookseller:

He [Noury] added that Hachette's digital book sales in the United States had taken off, and totaled $5m in December, which was more than for the whole of 2008. He said he expected the trend to hit Europe in the next 12-18 months.

Look out Europe! eBooks are a-comin!

Will the Apple Tablet eBook be the iTunes LP of eBooks?

In light of the news that HarperCollins is negotiating with Apple to provide enhanced content for the tablet, Marion Maneker over at Slate asks some useful questions about whether the Apple tablet will help publishers pull eBooks up out of the $9.99 price point they so despise. The Wall Street Journal reported that HarperCollins' tablet eBooks would have "added features" to justify a higher price that HarperCollins will set. This won't solve the problem according to Maneker:

Why publishers think anyone will pay more for a book with added non-book material is a mystery. For years they've offered illustrated, expanded and commemorative editions of successful books. But those only sell small numbers. And the anger readers express toward the publishers who hold out on Kindle editions won't be mollified by paying more for author interviews and other "features."

Remember Apple recently made a similar move with music, introducing the iTunes LP format with the release of iTunes 9 in September. The LP format is a version of the downloadable album with extra content--videos, interviews, online stuff. While the format got rave reviews from bloggers, it's hardly become the new standard, and the same thing is likely to happen with enhanced eBooks.

What do you think about this? Do readers want books that do things, or do readers really just want to read, whether on a page or a screen?

FastPencil: Another Way to Self-Publish Your eBook

We haven't covered FastPencil yet. It's a fairly new self-publishing and social networking site that launched in beta in July 2009. Here's a little more on the site's ambitions from a recent Publishers Weekly story:

CEO Steve Wilson told PW the company has been pleased with its reception since launch. FastPencil now has “several thousand” users and “several thousand projects” in its system. Users have published 100 books through FastPencil so far, and Wilson’s goal for 2010 is to publish upwards of 2,000.

Until this month, FastPencil had only offered publication in PDF format, but on January 7th, the company launched a new multi-format eBook publishing platform. The platform offers some handy features, including automated TOC generation, various eBook formats, and POD printing options.

This site joins similar communities like Scribd and Smashwords, that offer streamlined ways of self-publishing eBooks in a social networking environment. We'll have more on these sites in the future.

Poetry Press Goes Digital

What's a well-established university-based poetry publisher to do when it's got a huge backlist of very old poetry titles it has promised to keep in print, but which don't have sufficient sales to justify reprinting? Go digital of course! That's what Boise-based Ahsahta press has done with Forty-five titles from its Modern and Contemporary Poetry of the American West Series, which ran between 1975 and 2000.

Janet Holmes, the press's director, explained how she decided to digitize these books: "We had huge inventories of books that had not sold a copy in years. These were books largely published in the 1970s and 1980s, and we had quantities of them because the previous director of the press had promised authors (though not, thankfully, in a contract!) that he would keep the books 'in print for all eternity,' and reprinted in press runs of 500. At about this time (this was two years ago), the library at Boise State began to digitize some of the titles in the Western Writers Series, a monograph series of scholarly articles, for ScholarWorks, an archive available online through the library. I inquired about the possibility of archiving the older Ahsahta Press series and was encouraged to do so. An Ahsahta intern scanned the books into searchable PDF files during last summer, and the folks in the archivist's office at Alberston Library put them into ScholarWorks for us. ScholarWorks resides in our library, but its titles show up in internet searches and can be accessed by anyone."

The archive includes early books by such well-known contemporary poets as David Baker and Linda Bierds. These titles aren't exactly eBooks--they must be accessed through ScholarWorks, but this is a step in the direction this blogger bets lots of poetry and small presses will move in over the next few years, taking advantage of digital technology in order to publish to the scale of its audience.

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